Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fairy Princess Wands

For favors for Joey's birthday party, I decided to make each guest her own fairy princess wand.  Well, each child guest.  Considering that only a few young ladies will be at the party, it's a manageable project. 

Most of the materials that I needed were available at Hobby Lobby:  wooden star wands, glitter spray paint, acrylic gems, and ribbon.  The primer was purchased at the hardware store, but they probably have it at the craft store.

I began by spraying the wands with spray glitter, but it was very sheer and I realized it would be necessary to prime the wands for good coverage.  At the hardware store I purchased gray spray primer, which worked nicely with the silver spray glitter. 
To transform the wands from drab to fab:  glitter spray paint.  I used several coats to make the wands extra glittery. 
Oooh!  Sparkly!
After the paint was dry, I brought the wands inside to bedazzle them.  By that I mean that I used hot glue to affix acrylic gems to the wands.  For the finishing touch:  a little organza ribbon.
Although Silly Bandz and stickers are fun party favors for kids, I hope that Joey's guests will be able to enjoy their wands for longer.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Joey's Birthday Cupcakes

Joey asked for chocolate cupcakes with green frosting to bring to school on her birthday.  While I actually had cake mix and a can of frosting on hand, I opted to make everything from scratch.  The results are good enough to share.

I based my cupcake recipe on the Double Chocolate Cupcakes from Our Family Eats, but I modified it slightly because I didn't have all of the ingredients on hand.  My cupcakes were fantastic nonetheless.

For the cupcakes:
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake/muffin pan with paper liners.
Stir together cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Add eggs, water, sour cream, oil, and vanilla to dry ingredients.  Mix until smooth, scraping down the sides and bottom as necessary.

Pour the batter into the prepared cups, filling each about 2/3 full.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are fully set and spring back when touched.  Let cool completely on wire racks before frosting.
The yield for the recipe from Our Family Eats was 24 cupcakes, but I only managed to get 14 out of the recipe.  The cupcakes were huge, which probably had something to do with the smaller yield.

For a while I have been searching for a homemade frosting recipe that tastes as good as the butter cream frosting from the Publix Bakery.  So the other day I Googled "Publix bakery frosting" and it turns out that other people are fans of this frosting as well.  Go figure.  I browsed several recipes and decided to try one by Copykat Recipes.  It did not disappoint.

For the frosting:
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
2 cups Crisco Vegetable Shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 pounds confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon meringue powder
Mix butter, Crisco, and salt together on low speed for 5 minutes.  Add vanilla, butter flavor, and almond extract; beat until well blended.  Add meringue powder and half of the confectioners sugar. Turn mixer on the slowest speed and add the remaining confectioners sugar 1/2 cup at a time until it's mixed well.  Beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes.
I cut this recipe in half, and had plenty to frost 14 cupcakes with a lot left over.  Maybe I should have been more generous with the frosting?  While I had to buy a few ingredients that I wouldn't ordinarily keep on hand (meringue powder?), the outcome is worth the investment.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Domestic Goddesses Need Help Too

I'm awful at meal planning.  If I can decide on three meals before hitting the grocery store, I feel very organized.  And for me to base my list on the grocery sales -- impossible.  There are a lot of great web resources for saving money at the grocery store by matching sales with available coupons, such as I Heart Publix and Southern Savers, but these require a great deal of organization and don't tell you what to cook.  And these days, I need all the help I can get.

Enter a site that has combined the grocery store sale ad and recipes.  At Food on the Table you select your preferred grocery store(s) and enter your family's food preferences and they suggest recipes!  You can also choose preferences such as saving time or eating healthy recipes.  Other users rate and review recipes, so you're not going in blind.  Users can also submit their own recipes.

Once you've selected your meals for the week, you get a printable shopping list, organized by section.  The site allows you to edit items or quantities and even add items. 

You can plan up to three meals per week for free, or upgrade and plan all of your meals.  Food on the Table even has a free iPhone app.  It's worth a try!   

Joey's Birth Story

Tomorrow is my sweet Joey's third birthday.  I'm grateful that she's survived with two parents who came into parenthood without a clue, and that she has continued to thrive for the past three years.  Babies sure are resilient.

So flash back a few years.  At 39 weeks pregnant, I was not enjoying pregnancy in the least.  There was a baby taking up a lot of room in my belly.  To say that I was a little uncomfortable is an understatement.  We had a 40 week induction scheduled in the event that I didn't go into labor spontaneously, but when my doctor suggested induction for the coming Monday, Paul and I jumped on it.  Although short notice, scheduling an induction allowed our family to be present for the birth.  My mother-in-law drove up from Baton Rouge on Sunday, and my dad drove from Daphne, Alabama, on Monday morning.

We checked into the hospital at 5 am on Monday, February 25.  Once we got settled in I was hooked up to all sorts of monitors and given an IV.  The IV was the most painful part about the whole experience.  I know now that it was probably not inserted properly and it's not supposed to hurt so much, but I didn't know that then.  Anyway, my doctor broke my water around 8 am and then the contractions really started.   Those might have been more painful than the IV.  It's a toss up.

Not that I'm anti-Epidural, but I had decided that I would like to attempt childbirth without one.  For one thing, a needle going into my spine did not sound like very much fun.  But also I didn't want to be so numb that I couldn't push the baby out.  Once my contractions became painful, I asked for Demerol.  That took the edge off, for a little while at least, but mostly made me high as a kite.  After being sober for so many months it was fun.  But eventually the Demerol just wasn't cutting it and the needle in my spine didn't sound so bad.  The Epidural made my labor a more pleasant experience and I remember it fondly.

Josephine Lilly was born at 4:55 p.m. on February 25, 2008, after nine hours of labor.  She weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces, and was 19.75 inches long.  She was perfectly healthy although I can't recall her Apgar score.  That's one of those things that parents brag about, right?  She didn't have a name for a whole 14 hours after she was born.  We actually brought our baby name book to the hospital because we had no idea what we were naming her.  The hospital records office needed her name to process their paperwork, so we were prodded by them until we made a decision.
Happy birthday, Joey.  I love you.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sisters

Joey loves her baby sister.  She loves holding her, kissing her, and helping Mommy and Daddy take care of her.  She needs to know what her baby sister is doing at every waking moment.  Joey is pretty good at interpreting what Charlotte wants.  If Charlotte cries, Joey says that she's hungry.  If she makes a funny face, Joey says she's pooping.  Considering Charlotte does those two things quite often, Joey knows her stuff!

I shouldn't have been surprised today to walk into my bedroom to find Joey holding her baby sister on my bed.  She had taken Charlotte out of the co-sleeper bassinet and was holding her like a pro.  They were watching cartoons.  No big deal.  Except that our mattress is, like, three feet off the floor.  And our floors are hardwood.  And I really don't want to be interviewed by social services.

Later on in the same day, Charlotte was sleeping in her papasan chair, Joey was in my bedroom watching more cartoons (bad mommy, I know), and I was checking my email in our office/guest room.  I'm not very sharp right now -- blame it on sleep deprivation -- but I didn't even notice that Joey had left my bedroom.  And who walks into the office but Joey, carrying Chuck.  She had been carrying her sister throughout the house!  Charlotte didn't even seem to mind.  I know it's wrong but I couldn't do anything but laugh. 
This is a picture of me and a random puppy.  This is exactly how Joey was carrying Charlotte.  This is why I was laughing.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Preschool

Today was Joey's first day of school. 

As a surprise, Paul enrolled Joey in preschool last week.  The timing is excellent as he is out of town all week.  Yep, I'm the single mom of two for five whole days.  Anyway, we have been considering sending Joey to this particular preschool for a couple of months.  Several people that we have encountered -- some acquaintances and some complete strangers -- have recommended this program to us.  Plus, it's conveniently located right down the road from our house.

Joey will be at school three mornings a week.  While she's getting her learn on, I'll have three mornings a week to clean, run errands, grocery shop, rest, bond with the baby, or do nothing.  Woo hoo!

Joey is very enthusiastic about going to school.  There were no tears today.  In fact, when I dropped her off this morning, she ran into the first classroom that she saw.  I couldn't restrain her.  She's adjusting well and made friends in her new class.  She's growing up so fast.
Joey's first masterpiece

Happy Valentine's Day!

Love, 
Joey and Chuck

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Shocking Truth About Curious George

Every week, Joey and I (and now Baby Charlotte) go to story time at the public library.  While we're there, we often borrow books and movies.  This week, we borrowed the original Curious George book.  And it is scandalous.
Here is George.  He's having a grand time swinging on a vine in his home in Africa.  Although this story doesn't mention it, if you've read Cecily G and the Nine Monkeys, you would know that George had a family.
Here we're introduced to the man with the yellow hat.  He likes the looks of George and decides that he wants to bring him home.
The man entices George with his yellow hat and then traps him.
George was sad to leave his home.
Although in later books Curious George lives with the man with the yellow hat, the man's intention was to put him in a zoo.
So blah, blah, blah, George gets into some mischief on the ship, he smokes a pipe...What!?  A monkey smoking a pipe?  Ludicrous. 
Blah, blah, blah, George gets into some mischief at the man's house, calls the fire department, gets taken away to prison.
Blah, blah, blah, George gets into some more mischief, but then goes to the zoo, which is a "nice place for George to live."  Yeah, if you like living in a cage.
See?  I told you it was scandalous.

I could just eat her up...

*No babies were harmed during this photo shoot.  The banana sticker had no stick left and was actually just placed upon the baby's forehead.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

Charlotte's 1st Tummy Time


Charlotte is 2 Weeks Old!

Today Baby Charlotte had her first appointment with our pediatrician.  When she was born, she weighed 7 pounds 1 ounce and was 19.25 inches long.  Today she weighs 7 pounds 7 ounces and is 21 inches long.  The weight gain might not sound very impressive, but the doctors just like to see that 2-week-old babies are at their birthweight.  I am impressed that she's grown nearly two inches in two weeks.

Baby Charlotte also lost her umbilical cord stump today...

In order to weigh her, I had to undress the baby down to her diaper.  As I was putting her down on the scale, I noticed that she had a belly button which wasn't there before.  I looked down to see the black crusty stump sticking to my coat.  Lovely.

We're still trying to figure out our new definition of "normal."  Fortunately Charlotte is not very demanding because Joey is needing a lot of extra attention. 

Joey (still) adores her baby sister.


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