Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Recap

Here are some quick thoughts on our Halloween evening....

my ladybug, witch and 50's girl were just too cute.
4 year old REALLY understood halloween this year.
fed them hot dog mummies for dinner.
might as well bat 1000 on poor nutrition for the night.

had fun with old friends in a new neighborhood.
4 boys who grew up together 30 years ago...
and now they take their children trick or treating.
but there are no smashed pumpkins, egg throwing or tp... yet.

dear 14 year old girl in french maid costume with garter:
where the hell are your parents?
i am mortified. scared.
who the hell stole all the Y chromosomes from my gene pool.
mortified. scared.

dear assholes driving 40mph through the neighborhood on halloween:
you suck!
next year i will bring eggs.

didn't see the ice cream truck this year.
last year he gave out candy cigarettes.

dear lady whose door annika just opened up and walked in:
i am sorry.
my children clearly have no shame... or manners... and really like candy.

dear lady who called out to me specifically to give acadia some animal crackers:
i love you.
acadia loves you.
that was the only treat she got all night in her lonely pumpkin bag.

dear ally:
thank you for the girls' pumpkin bags.
they love their personalized bags and it cuts down on confusion.
(note to self: great gift idea.)

noticed a fire hydrant was ill placed directly in the center of someones lawn.
that must suck.
why is it there?
i would not buy that house.

i was the good mom who bought the hand sanitizer on the way to trick or treat.
i was the bad mom who forgot it in the truck.

there was an unfortunate accident that took the life of a little girls sea monkeys.
she was devastated.
the man who originally marketed sea monkeys also invented x-ray glasses.

the girls got about 10 pounds of candy.
colby and i will eat about 7, throw away about 2.9 and then they can eat the rest.

I love watching senior citizens and the adoration they have for the little ones coming to their door.
I am sure it is a highlight in some lives.

and now to fight with kids over the candy every 10 minutes until I get sick of it and throw it all away.

Kids Do The Darndest Things: Happy Halloween

The other day Colby showed Annika and Acadia a ladybug on the floor. Acadia promptly bent down, picked it up and ate it! Annika recoiled in horror as Acadia crunched away.

Do you think she will get extra good luck for eating the ladybug?

Ironically, she was a ladybug for Halloween (we had ours yesterday here... freakin' NH!)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Excuse My Awkward Social Tendencies

I took a big leap this week and stepped out of my comfort zone. I went to a blogger event in Boston where I knew nobody. No one. Not one person. I am just not the type to go into a group of people and be able to assimilate and make immediate friends. I am not necessarily shy. But I think I just carry this anxiety from childhood where I was tormented by the mean girls. I fear approaching women and having them look at me with that "What the hell do you want?" look.

I moved to a city in NH at age 20. I moved all by myself in hopes of getting out of my small town to greener pastures. And once I was here, it was all like, "Shit, what do I do now?" A 20 year old girl can't just approach other girls at the gym or grocery store without someone thinking you are either trying to bring them into some sort of cult or an experimental college rendezvous.

So, I went at least 2 years with zero friends made. I was pretty much a recluse in my itty bitty apartment in a huge, scary city.

Well, thank God I met Colby and he had the forsight to get me pregnant because fast forward to today where I have the 3 kids and am forced constantly into social situations with moms, teachers, care givers... women. I had to make a decision to open up and take some leaps lest my daughters' communal interactions be wrought with, "What the heck is with your mom over there quivering in the corner?" It has been a very long, slow process... we have lived here 5 years and I actually have a couple of friends and a few others that I will say 'hi' to at Santa's Breakfast. Hey, it's progress.

Wait, I was totally going to tell you about my evening meeting some wonderful women in Boston. I hate long posts, so it will have to wait until tomorrow- but just know that Liz, LZ, Kameron, Deb and the secret toaster lady were sweethearts and apparently oblivious to my awkward social tendencies (or they hid their disdain well.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Baby Einstein Schmeinstein

I recently read the New York Times article regarding the whole Baby Einstein debacle. In case you haven't heard, Disney is offering $15.99 for each Baby Einstein DVD that you return to them. "Why," you ask. Well, you are not going to believe this, but apparently sticking your child in front of a movie as an infant will not make them a genius! WHAT? I know, I know... how the hell are these kids supposed to learn anything?

Seriously, I read that whole article just waiting for the irony to be revealed... it wasn't. It was a deadpan commentary relating how this loon from the 'Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood' (good luck with that endeavor, lady) is basically forcing Disney into this situation with threat of a class action lawsuit (lord knows she could never find dozens/hundreds/thousands of people to take part in a frivolous lawsuit). Luckily for Disney they are a gazillion dollar company so this won't hurt too bad. I continued to read about the issue on other websites and blogs where (seemingly intelligent) people were all up in arms over these products.

Are you freaking kidding me??? There are parents out there that want to honestly admit that they believed these videos were going to make their children smarter? You should probably be more concerned with the IQ that you handed down in the gene pool.

I have many of these videos here at my house. We started back in 2000 when we had Ariana. Let me assure you that Colby and I did not stand in the video aisle contemplating which DVD was going to turn our new baby into the next Einstein. We just wanted something to grab her attention for 15 minutes so that we might eat dinner together quietly or so that I could have a phone call without a wailing infant. Of course I know that it said 'educational' and has the name Einstein in it, but I also had educated myself enough to know that putting babies in front of a TV will affect their future attention capacity. I also knew that the best way to teach them was to get on their level... communicate... talk constantly about everything... play... interact... you know, all that crazy stuff. Am I alone here? Am I in the minority for thinking these parents are ridiculous for expected something so grand from a freaking TV screen? I would certainly not cast stones regarding using the TV to entertain your kids... but that's just it... entertain.

If we need to anticipate companies to pay back for products not doing what we expected, I have a house full of kitchen utensils that did not make cooking easier. (I have decided that only a personal shopper, a chef and a maid will do that.) I also have lots of diet books and fitness videos that certainly did not do the trick. And those Baby Einstein videos did not make my babies geniuses, damn it!

Come on, people... parent your children already! I am not even going to link to the refund site on here because I am so astounded an the lunacy. If you want to make a quick buck in this crappy economy, that's one thing... eh, whatever. But if you are a parent that, in good conscience, want to be paid for your poor judgement in in educating your children... Here's your sign!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin Carving Party Success

It's over. All nine girls and their pumpkins have departed. All that is left is a huge mess and about 30 pounds of pumpkin guts!

Here's the treats...

A few tips on the treats:
The jack-o-lantern/orange/fruit bowls:
It was a pain in the tush to get the 'guts' out of the little oranges, but they carved easily with the pumpkin carving tools. These were a hit with the girls, a couple actually took them home. We also had a 3 year old guest who really enjoyed them.

The doughnut hole eye balls:
I do not have a double boiler so I can not work with melted chocolate well. If you are good with working with this stuff, these are probably a very simple, quick project. But, since I am not, these took a long time. Again, the girls loved them though.

I just went with simple cupcakes as our 'sugary' treat. I stuck in some cute haunted picks and they were good to go.

I also made some hot butter apple cider in the crock pot, which was not a hit with the kids. One mom liked it (or she was just being polite) but not one kid wanted hot cider, they all wanted it cold.

Annika was very excited to have a guest over as well. Clearly I was not going to have them carving pumpkins but I did not want them to miss out on the festivities. So I ran to trusty Michaels, bought 2 craft pumpkins, 1 can of chalkboard paint and some chalk. Voila, jack-o-lanterns fit for 3-4 year olds!

I'd say it was a success. Fun was had by all and thankfully a couple of moms stayed to help with the actual pumpkin carving. One pleasant surprise was that I had a bunch of the kits and stencils and only 2 girls used them. Everyone else wanted to use their imagination and go freehand. Ah, yes, good old imagination.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tattoo You

*This post is totally not a hint at all and if you see any resemblance to you or any event involving you, it is totally a coincidence.*

You all know I love to give ideas on gifts, especially around holidays and special events. One I have not covered is birthdays for that special someone (and I am not talking about those little special someones). I think that a birthday is a very special day. It is the one day of the year that is your own special holiday. You do not need to share the adulation with anyone. I think it is the one day of the year you should be spoiled. You should get exactly what you want, no matter how silly, crazy, mundane or selfish. (Remember the whole designer jeans debate?)

One great gift that will last and can be beautiful, fun, individual and cathartic is the gift of a tattoo. Most people don't budget tattoos into their spending, so getting one is truly a gift. Especially if you couple it with a day out, away from the kids, with a girlfriend. Imagine if you were such a great husband that you could say, "Ok, honey, you go out today. I will take care of the 3 kids. I have arranged for your wonderful, smart, funny friend to go with you while her husband takes care of their 3 kids. You ladies relax, get lunch, go get a couple of tattoos and we will wrangle the 6 kids all day." Can you imagine what a great husband you would be then? Do you know how much all the other wives would love you? They would be so jealous of your wife and her amazing husband! You want to be the cool guy on the block, right?

Just an idea.

*This is not a sponsored post and I was totally not paid or coerced by anyone to write it. Definitely not by a beautiful blond with a birthday coming up.*

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

1 year old and I love her!

I just love her so much I can't help but smile every single time she walks into the room. One year olds are just the perfect stage... not laying around like a lump puking on herself but not yet old enough to think she is smarter than me and not afraid to tell me so.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

I love watching her imagination grow. Like when she is putting the Little People in the town and walking them around.

I like that supersoft spot on the side of her head that is always silky smooth and warm when I am kissing her a hundred times.

I love her beaming smile with those 4 lone teeth that she has had for months now.

I love when I put her in her crib, she looks up at me with a smile as her baby fingers absentmindedly start smoothing the edge of her pink blanket.

I love watching the smile spread across her face as Ariana walks into the room.

I love that she will kiss us over and over and cuddle into my chest and hug me and love me...

I love watching her snuggle into the Dora couch that both of her sisters have loved for so many years. Pulling in blankets and babies and her Boppy like she is making a cozy nest.

I love when I give her a stern "No", she giggles and turns quickly to run away.

I love her eyes and ears- because they are my eyes and ears.

I love when the 5 of us sit down to dinner, she joins in the conversation with loud squeals and laughter. She loves to be part of the family.

I love when we go through the construction area that she squeals, "Ahhhhhhhhhh..." so that she hears her voice bouncing around with each bump.

What am I thinking? I love pretty much every stinking thing about her. I keep asking her to stay my baby Cady-bear, but I don't think she's listening.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Like Kermit, Going Green: The Children's Edition

Of course our endeavor to live more simply has to include the kids. Thankfully, Ariana has a good grasp on treating the earth with respect- way more than I ever did at her age. But, it is obviously an ongoing effort with all 3 girls to lead them by example and to educate them.

The internet has some great sites to keep kids interested in living sustainably:
The EPA has science experiments, printable activity books, games art projects and more.
KidsPlanet has great online interactive games. (Ariana has tested these and enjoys them.)
National Wildlife Federation has some great adventures with Ranger Rick (you all remember him, right???)
Nickelodeon even has a green zone with games with favorite Nick characters (iCarly Cafeteria Recylorama- what 9 year can resist that?)

And here are a few random products that I love for my kids:

This snack cup is a lifesaver. The kid can put their hand in to get the snack- but the snack won't spill everywhere! Why don't I think of these things??? Its also BPA, PVC and Phthalate Free

Here is a tutorial from Lu Lu Bird on how to make a boo boo bag. If you make these homemade ones, you avoid the chemical ones sold at retailers. We have a homemade one that must get used 3-4 times per week. I actually need to make a couple of more now for each child.

I have actually mentioned this product before- but with the swine flu- this teether is even more relevant. Smart Mom markets jewelry that doubles as teethers and they are non-toxic, phthalate, BPA, PVC and lead free. Now you can be sure that you have something on you at all times for the baby to chew on so she is not sticking random things in her mouth.

Do you have any great products or websites to help get the kids involved with going the way of Kermit?

Friday, October 16, 2009

I blame the parents.

I have been writing this post in my head for close to two weeks. It is one of those that I cannot seem to mold into a nice cohesive rant. I typically try to keep my posts short and my rambling thought process in check... but when I saw this news story yesterday about 5 boys setting another on fire, all bets were off. This post will pour from my head/fingers/ heart, might get off track, will piss people off and will most likely earn some hateful comments from anonymous.

It all started October 4th when 4 teen boys entered a home in a rural, 'picture perfect' New Hampshire home sometime before 4am. They brutally attacked a woman with a machete, killing her and then moving on to her 11 year old daughter. The little girl's throat was slit and leg broken among other injuries. 4 teens... in New England... in a sleepy town... in a quiet community.

This story is eerily reminiscent of a brutal murder of 2 Dartmouth professors on Jan 27, 2001 in their secluded New Hampshire home. In both cases, the teen boys involved stated they just wanted to know what it felt like to kill somebody.

And as the community, media, friends and family try to rationalize and figure out 'how could this happen?'... I know the answer. It is the parents. The horrible parents of these murderers. The level of pure evil exhibited by our youth is simply out of control today. Setting other children on fire? Taking a human life with a machete? It's disgusting. It's frightening. And what do you want to blame? An onslaught of peanut allergies? Seasonal depression and global warming?

Nope. It's your parenting. It sucks. You suck. You should have never had children because you do not know how to care for them. I am sorry to break the news to you, but I do not feel bad that you have 'lost your child too.' Your child was not dragged behind a truck until all the flesh was pulled from his bones. Your child was not dismembered and stuffed in a trunk. And perhaps if you used a condom, that fate would not have fallen on those poor victims.

The comments I see from these ignorant 'parents' in the media make me want to hunt them down with a Zippo and carry out some justice. (Although, my parents did not raise a monster so we know I am not capable.) The mother of one of the arsonists (they were ages 13-15, by the way) stated "What was my son supposed to do once the boy was on fire? Try to put him out and catch fire himself?" You dumb bitch. How about knocking the bottle of rubbing alcohol from the other kids hands? How about telling an adult of the murderous plot? Geez, I can think of a million way to not set a child on fire and laugh as their flesh melts from their body.

The parents of the 4 murdering teenage boys in New Hampshire have similar profound explanations. "I knew that boy was bad news. I told my son not to hang out with him." Really, you knew he was bad news? So what the hell was he doing with him at 4am on a Sunday morning torturing an innocent mother and daughter in a completely random act of violence? Where were you? Where were all of these parents? And it is just a vicious cycle that will continue on. Do you think these scum bags will now be able to turn around and raise the next generation of pillars of society? One of these boys has a 17 year old girl carrying his unborn child. I am sure that baby won't have any issues in life.

What is the wake up call going to be? Do parents need to be held legally accountable for their child's behavior? People need to stop multiplying or give a shit about creating human life. And I don't mean physically, I mean the life that they are creating. At my 9 year-old's last teacher conference, it really hit me that I (along with my husband, of course) am out on our own island when it comes to raising a socially conscious child. When I walked into the classroom, the teacher had a stack of papers set up for me to exhibit Ariana's multitude of excellent test scores. Honestly, I couldn't care less about these test scores. She always scores off the charts and we know she is quite an overachiever in her academics. Wonderful. However, there are plenty of brilliant, psychopathic, anti-social people out there in the world. I immediately sat down with the teacher and said "I am aware of the test scores and I know she does fantastic at academics. I really want to discuss her social skills and interaction with others." You'd think I had just walked in naked with an owl on my shoulder. She was literally speechless. She fumbled with that stack of papers, neatening, sorting, breathing slowly. "Umm, I really don't have the opportunity to see her interact with the other children. With these new programs, our day is very structured."

What? How about recess, lunch, hallways... snacktime???

"We do not spend time outside of the classroom with children these days. There are volunteers for that. We spend that time planning lessons and reporting. There really is no way for you to have a global view of how she interacts with others here at school."

Now I was speechless. My daughter was great at spelling and algebra, so who cares about integrity, character, empathy... or silly things like that? I have always been of the mind that parents should not rely on schools to raise their children. But, now, as we are actually nurturing a real live human (or 3) of our own, it is really hitting home.

When people make endless excuses for their deficiencies in parenting, it really drives me mad. I mean, it is not rocket science. I always think back to when Ariana was in 1st grade. She had her first 'best friend.' She hung out with this girl for months, at dance, at play dates, at school. She loved her. And then, the family stopped inviting her for play dates and started declining our invitations. After a few months, Ariana asked her little friend why the weren't playing anymore. The girl said, "Well, when you were at our house you lied to my mom and she does not want me to hang out with kids who lie."

Wow. Now those are some great parents. Not only did they teach their angel lessons on honesty and choosing good friends, they inadvertently taught me daughter the same lessons. These parents are great... very involved, very kind. They slowly let Ariana back into their lives over the past couple of years and the girls are close again. And you better believe that Ariana is on her best behavior when she is around them!

It is small things like that, early in life, that make a difference. How many people just have kids over and don't even interact or pay attention to what is transpiring? How many people actually sit down to dinner every night or read a book at bedtime... just take the time and involve yourself in your child life? The people of these children who are committing these crimes always say they have no idea. The mother of one of the Columbine boys just recently came out and said she had no idea he was suicidal until after the shootings when she read his journal. Really? Your own child living in your home and you suspected nothing?

Let me tell you that while my children live under my roof, they will have no expectation of privacy. I have no issue reading a journal, installing a Chaperone service on their cell phone to stalk them, listening to their phone calls. I would not even be opposed to setting an alarm on their bedroom door if I thought the were sneaking out.

Basically, I am not afraid to parent them. I do not need to be their friend. I do need to set a good example, teach good life lessons, love them, lead them, bully them and threaten bodily harm... whatever it takes. And if you can't figure out your own ways to raise a not-abhorrent human being, call me, I will send you some condoms.

I just wanted a add a teeny post script here. I do understand that there are people and children out there with actual mental defect or other biological dysfunction that can complicate their interactions in civilization. However, I still charge that the parents have a responsibility to recognize these issues and work through the proper channels of therapy, medication or whatnot to protect these children.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Goodwill Rocks

I stopped at Goodwill the other day to get some Halloween costume supplies (got everything for Annika's witch costume for $6 and Acadia's ladybug for $5). I always get sucked in to looking around for unique houseware items. That day, the vinyl records were calling me... as I perused through them, I was really taken by the artwork. It came to me that these could make for some great pieces to hang in the nursery/ guest room. Some of the children's records had gorgeous covers and some brought back some wonderful memories.

For only 99¢, I could not resist buying a few...they are so sweet as artwork in a child's room. AND then to top off my day, while looking for info on the albums, I came across this site that has not only the album cover art, but MP3's of these records! Seriously, everything from Grimm's Fairy Tales to Jack and the Beanstalk to The Princess & The Pea in a free downloadable MP3. I already made Annika a CD with a few of the stories. Hopefully she will love to hear them as she falls off to sleep. You should really go to that site, it is one of those finds on the internet that makes just makes me smile.
Oh, and I could not resist a couple of pieces of art for myself. I happen to love Cat Stevens and this album cover will look great hanging on my wall.

And I am not a Tull fan, but I thought this cover was very interesting.

Also... today I had a great opportunity to guest post on another New England mama's blog. My Messy Paradise is a blog written by a mom in Massachusetts who is also raising little girls. She is a really funny lady and I am honored she chose me to write her guest post (ok she just had nothing else to talk about and I was a last resort but, hey, nobody needs to know that, right?)

Go check it out and leave her & I your tips on raising a young lady.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It's A Crafty Day: Halloween Fun!

It is closing in on us... Halloween will be here before you know it. We have our orange lights up (yes, I take every opportunity to hang strings of lights in our windows) the Halloween decorations are scattered about and the sound activated witch is antagonizing the girls with her LED eyes.

Now we can start to work on some fun Halloween printables and crafts.

I came across cute coloring pages, word puzzles, Mad Libs, paper dolls and Dora printables with a Halloween theme. This blog also has some great printable masks that Annika loved when we printed them and cut them out.

This site had the great idea of using Mr. Potato Head to decorate a pumpkin for toddlers! Why don't I think of these things?

Check out this site for a ton of fun Halloween crafts.

has great coloring pages, activities, joke riddles and more.

Make these fun luminaries at Better Homes and Gardens.

Teach Mama has a great counting game with a Halloween theme that you can print for the little ones.

Enjoy and have a fun Halloween!

Click here for NH Trick or Treat times.

Don't forget to enter to win the 4 Halloween Town tickets by tomorrow.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Honey-Do List to Prepare Your Home for Fall in New England

My husband is so psyched for this post (and he doesn't even know it!) He has been away all weekend so I took all that free time I had here with 3 kids (and 1 extra guest) to come up with out fall to-do list. Little do you lucky people in the rest of the country know what a pain in the ass it is to get a New England home ready for winter. Here is a list to clue you in... let me know if I have forgotten anything.

• Replace pillows. (With 15 pillows in our house, I usually grab a new one about once a month while I am shopping at Target, this way it is not a huge expense all at once.) It is recommended to replace pillows every 1-3 years... or when they have been drooled on so much they look like a Pollack painting.
Wash all windows while it is not too cold to have the windows open.
Clean the walls.
Clean light fixtures and ceiling fans.
Steam clean carpets now while you can still open the windows to speed the drying process.
• Complete any painting project you have as well. You will want windows open to aid ventilation and you don't want to do that in the icy winter.
Wipe down the kitchen cupboards. Empty them and reorganize them.
• Use your vacuum’s brush attachment and gently vacuum refrigerator condenser coil.
Straighten the closets. Declutter and reorganize.
• Pack up the kids summer clothes. Either box and label them for the younger kids to inherit or pass them along to Goodwill.
• Pull out the gloves, mittens, hats, scarves and snow pants. Clean them and take inventory to see what you need to buy before the snow flies.
Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries (usually recommended done for daylight saving, which falls on Halloween this year!)
Replace the furnace filter. If you haven’t changed your furnace filter within the past three months, do so now. Call and schedule yearly preventative maintenance for the furnace.
• Remove your air conditioners and store them.
Check weather stripping and caulking around doors and windows. Repair or replace as needed.
Check and clean the gutters. Do the downspouts, too.
Clean the patio furniture. Then store away.
Drain and store garden hoses.
Drain the pool, if applicable. Close it up for the year.
• Clean and store summer lawn ornaments.
• Thoroughly clean and disinfect trash cans/ recycle bins.
• Autumn is a great time to clear brush after the leaves have fallen and you have a clear view of what you want to get rid of.
• Take inventory of shovels, rock salt and windshield scrapers. Make sure you have them on hand before the snow flies!
• Clean out the remnants of the veggie garden and weeds now to save yourself time in the spring.
• Winterize the lawn mower and get it stored. Pull out the snow blower and prepare it, you'll want it up and running BEFORE it snows.
• Get winter mats and boot racks in place for the impending mess.
• Inspect and replace any fire extinguishers- especially if you run a wood stove.

Here is a printable checklist.

Enjoy honey!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's A crafty Day: Sunday Crayon Fun

We have had another 9 year old guest this weekend so I have been trying to come up with activities for all 4 girls. (Of course, no matter how many things I do with them, they are 'bored' the moment we are finished!) I thought I'd share one of the activities we tried this morning. It worked out well and kept them amused for about an hour, which is fantastic.

We decided to take the thousands of pieces of broken crayons from the crayon bucket and make them into nice chunky crayons for Acadia's 1-year-old hands to be able to maneuver.

We started by peeling the paper off all of the little broken crayons. This step was great since it took the girls a long time to complete. The three year old did tire of it after a bit, but the 2 older girls kept at it until all the crayons were peeled.

I then sprayed a mini muffin tin with vegetable oil and the girls placed the crayon pieces in with color combinations they found pleasing.

We were actually able to make a lot of 'muffins' with just a few crayon pieces.

I then put them in the oven for 5 minutes at 250 degrees. Make sure to keep an eye on them as they melt fast.

After they cooled, I simply popped them from their tins and, voila! The color combinations came out pretty cool.

I had the girls test the crayons as Acadia was still napping. They worked great and they had fun playing with all the different colors.

And now, they are bored.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's A Crafty Day: Easy Bake Oven Recipes

With the long weekend upon us, I will need to come up with a few extra activities to keep us busy. Annika asked that we get out the Easy Bake oven. So I set out to find some new recipes and came across a plethora of Easy Bake goodness with simple ingredients. Check out these websites and you will be shocked at all the fun food you can make while entertaining your kids...

At EBO Recipes you can make anything from Barbeque Chicken Pizza to Strawberry Danishes with ingredients right from your kitchen.

Budget 101 has a lot of recipes to play with as well.

The Hasbro website has a few recipes but these tend to be made from more prepackaged ingredients so it is my least favorite site.

If you make one of these recipes in your Easy Bake, please let me know how it comes out.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Need To Trade My Husband In

When I met my husband, it was on the job... he was an electrician. Score... right? I can always have the coolest light fixtures, outlets wherever I want them and I'll never have to change a light bulb again... Well... not so much. At any given time we have at least 3 light bulbs that need changing (until I get around to doing it!)

But I shouldn't have married an electrician anyhow... What I really need is a plumber! Seriously. In five years of living here, we have had to call on the services of our local plumbing and heating company at least once a year. And I am not talking simple preventative maintenance here. We have had major issues: the main sewer pipe breaking in the crawlspace under our house, basically rebuilding the whole furnace, running baseboard heat around our whole addition. I am talking thousands (and thousands) of dollars! I think when my name comes up at the office, the plumbers draw straws to see who gets the short one. (The poor guy who had to lay in the crawlspace with our raw sewage that had been emptying into it for weeks came out of that space after many LONG hours swearing like... well... a plumber. I never saw him again.) And then there are the guys that have to fit into a closet about 4' tall and about 10 square feet that houses our furnace. Michele Horne needs a service call??? Not it!

Although, I have had great luck with most of them being hot, so that is something. Because you know when I answer the door with a baby on one hip and a 3 year old wiping her snot on the other- they totally want me. And then I have fuel for my Desperate Housewives-slash-porno movie plumber fantasy.

Anyhow, back to my husband. Does anyone have a plumber I can trade him in for? I just can't afford these outrageous bills anymore and I am not getting the bang for the buck out of the electrician.

Oh, and if your plumber could look like James Denton, that would rock. Thanks!

Monday, October 5, 2009

New England Halloween Fun... Oct. 24-25: Halloween Town ENDED

So, many of you know that me... um, I mean, my kids, are pretty much Dan Zanes groupies. We have seen him live 6 times! He is such a great show for the under 8 year olds. So, imagine my delight when I saw that he was in Boston performing for a great cause. He will be performing October 24-25 at Halloween Town to benefit the Kids Fund for Boston Medical Center. He is such a great guy who comes home to NH every year to do benefit shows for a local food pantry and now I see that he is lending his talents to this great cause as well.

He will perform 3 times Saturday and Sunday at Halloween Town. And after you see him, you can enjoy other activities: LazerTag, stories in the MonsterPiece Theater, Monster Midway,
Haunted Mine, Pumpkin Decorating, Trick-or-Treating and tons more. Your children can also meet some of their favorite characters like Curious George, Clifford, Cinderella, Wolverine, the Berenstein Bears, and many more!

It is not often where you can go and have so much fun and support a great cause at the same time! Located at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston- it is 70,000 square feet of safe Halloween adventures.

I hope that everyone that reads this will pass the word on about this great event. In return, I have a family four-pack of passes to give away. You can go anytime Saturday or Sunday. Heck, even if you can't use the passes, why not try to win them for friends and pay it forward?

All you have to do is leave me a comment with your favorite part of Halloween by October 14th. That's it, that easy.

I also found seven other ways that you can win passes. Visit Frugal Rhode Island Mama for another four-pack giveaway, visit the Halloween Town website to win some there or visit Mom's Favorite Stuff. New England Nanny, Wicked Cool Deals, Bargain Becky and Moomettes Magnificents have giveaways on their blogs as well.

*UPDATE* The winner was comment #5- Kelly. I hope she enjoys it!!! I am totally jealous.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Barbie Cake

Here she is. Four freakin' hours of blood sweat and tears. Well, maybe no blood or tears... but I definitely sweat. I thought I'd give a blow by blow if anybody else wants to make a Barbie cake for their princess.

I got the kit at Michaels a few years ago to make the cake for Ariana. You can buy generic Barbie torsos there as well, but they look really cheesy. I got a real Barbie with a coupon for free so I used her.

You just need to make a recipe that yields 5 or 6 cups of batter (around the amount to make a 2 layer cake.) From the experience with making a cake for Ariana, I came to realize that it is nearly impossibly to get this shape of cake to cook evenly. (I tried 3 times when I made Ariana's!) You might have to settle with it being slightly overdone on the outside.

Here is the fun part... remove Barbie's legs (she's pretty tough, it took some pliers!) The cake skirt is just slightly short for her to be put in with her legs.

I made cupcakes to go with the cake since there is really no place to put candles and I did not want to scar Annika with a memory of her fourth birthday and a flaming Barbie head.

2 essential tools when I am baking... my Hamilton Beach mixer which is he oldest appliance in my kitchen, given to me by my mom when I moved out a week after I graduated *uh-hmm, 15 years ago*. Yes, I would love a KitchenAid mixer, but my $9.99 mixer from Ames will do for now. Also, I have to have my ITunes cranking on the IPod or laptop... how can you cook without tunes?

Ok, here she is after 50 minutes of baking and a coat of frosting. To get this dark pink, I had to use a full bottle of food coloring. I would highly suggest one of those spinney cake trays that she is on. It was way easier to turn the cake tray than to walk around the island while frosting a cake. It was only $6 with a coupon at Michaels, money well spent.

And the details that I cut out from fondant. I have discovered that I really like working with this stuff, it's really fairly easy. I also got that at Michael's- I didn't go too crazy though since I knew she would soon be devoured.

Aaannnd SCENE!

*Mom, can I just say thank you soo much for the Cookie Monster cake and the Strawberry Shortcake cake... and all the others that you made by hand. I now know what you put into those cakes and, albeit 30 years late, I am very appreciative.

Oh, and anyone that wants to borrow the Barbie cake mold, let me know- buying one of these for one use is just plain wasteful.

Friday, October 2, 2009

New England: Adventures for October 3-4

Unfortunately it looks like rain on Saturday, but maybe you can catch up on some of the outdoor fun on Sunday...

Dover is having their Apple Harvest Day Friday night and Saturday.

There are events located all over NH to celebrate Get Out And Play Weekend. There are Sunday events in case of rain on Saturday.

Berlin is having it's 10th Annual Lumberjack Festival and also the River Fire.

I am just not a fan of fairs- but for those who are it's the 133rd Annual Deerfield Fair.

Shaker Village in Canterbury is having their Harvest Days, always great fun for the kids.

NH Farm Museum in Cornish is also having Harvest Days.

Beaverbrook Art Show and Fall Festival is happening in Hollis.

The Jackson Pumpkin People are popping up all over. I have heard rumors of the Blue Man Group being spotted. My girls love to drive around Jackson and spot all of the pumpkin people and it's also a great time to catch the foliage in NH. I believe they will be on display until around the 20th.

There is a Faerie Tea Party in Lyndeborough. Go for a magical time making pumpkin faerie houses and wee furniture. An enchanting Faerie Tea Party will be served with warm apple cider and home-made pumpkin bread

Nashua is having their annual Art Walk.

Portsmouth is hosting the NH Brew Fest. Sample over 90 brews from more than 28 breweries at the NH Brew Fest 2009!

Portsmouth is also hosting the Harbor Lighthouse Open House with a tour of a lighthouse where you can climb right to the very top!

Cranmore Mountain has started their mountain top haunted tour called the Ghoullog. I have never been, but it looks to not be for the faint of heart!

Check out last weeks post for the lists of corn mazes, apple orchards and pumpkin patches.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Parents Say the Darndest Things

At dance class:

"I love your daughter's baby mullet. It's so cute."

Umm... thanks? You know, as soon as her hair started to come in, I was just crossing my fingers that it would grow into an Achey Breaky 'do comparable only to a hockey player circa 1987.