Monday, October 18, 2010

Creepy Eyeball Cake Pops

These were so fun and easy to make. You can find ideas and directions by googling cake pops or looking up Bakerella.
Here are a few tips -
Wait for the cake and icing mix to cool before you form the balls. It will help keep them on the stick.
Don't make them as big as we did. A one inch in diameter pop is easier to dip in the melted chocolate.
The details were made with store bought gel icing. It looks great but it never really dries. When I did a trial of wrapping one it still looked fantastic but when the wrapper came off it was a sticky blob - but still delicious.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What's for lunch?

yogurt, cheez-its, fortune cookies, and cherries

mac'n'cheese, peaches, pretzels, and pumpkin cookies

cottage cheese, cheez its, and pears

raviolis, banana, Z-bar

Ahhhh, the age old question "What do I pack my kids for lunch?" I started packing my kids lunch when Greta started kindergarten. Up until then Gigi always had the hot lunch at school and took her lunchbox on occasion. When Greta started school she didn't like the hot lunches and always got the alternative - which had very little nutritional value. I also volunteered for lunch duty and actually saw the lunches provided. I knew I could give my kids a healthier meal.

Now, Gigi picks one hot lunch a week from the school menu and takes her lunchbox on the other days. Greta almost always has a home packed lunch. I feel better about what they are eating and I try to make it interesting and easy.

At a friend's request, I kept track of what the girls had in a week. So, this is what the girls would normally get in their lunches but it has changed a bit. Both girls have braces and foods that I may have packed last month are off limits - such as carrots with ranch dressing or an apple. Salt eggs are favorite - salted boiled egg whites - as well as leftovers from dinner that are kept warm in the thermos.

On a different note, even though we reuse our sandwich bags whenever possible, the number of sandwich baggies that go in the trash makes me break out in a cold sweat. I started using reusable containers last year but my new goal for this year is to try to eliminate the useage of the ever mulitplying baggies. Would it be innapropriate to make a joke about rabbits multiplying? Anyhoo... ETSY has a ton of reusable sandwich bags for sale and they are super cute; however, I am one of those people who look at something and think "I can make that." So, I am in the process of sewing my own. I'll post them with a tutorial at a later date.

I hope this post inspires you to pack some crazy lunches. I'd love to hear about the inventive lunch items you send to school.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Easy Pumpkin Cookies

It's time to break out the pumpkin recipes. This is one of my favorite and is from my dear friend Elizabeth.

1 can of pumpkin

1 box of Spice Cake Mix (or any other flavor - you can add the cloves, cinnamon, etc. just read the back of the can of pumpkin for measurements)

chocolate chips (optional)

mix the ingredients

drop the cookies on a cookie sheet

bake at 350 for 15 minutes

I have also made pumpkin bars and topped it with cream cheese icing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

When Troops Come Home

This week, while volunteering at the arsenal in the Exceptional Family Member Program I read this article: When the Troops Come Home from the National Journal magazine. I know I sound like a broken record but when it comes to deployments the water works are turned on... I had to grab a tissue.

For years I have wondered if anyone is keeping track of the divorce rate of military families since all the deployments have begun. I wonder this because I can tell you that after three deployments... it ain't easy. I have this image of this fairy tale relationship that keeps me pining away for my guy. I carry it in my heart and mind during the deployment even though I know it is not reality. It is almost like a teenage love. Then real life strikes. The event the girls and I have waited for... redeployment. Time to make the signs and try to lose those last 100 lbs.

I can sum it up in one statement from Gene that he said to our marriage counselor... "Sherry does everything so well there isn't room for me." That is a sad compliment. After a year of doing things on my own, not always so well, it is hard to find a space for my Prince Charming. It is stressful and yes, I am resentful. He has been home a year and I still find that aspect a struggle. He left me for a year to try to successfully manage our lives. I know, before I am labeled non supportive, he in no way wanted to leave his family behind to work 6.5 days and nights a week in a sandbox. He did it because he believes in what a soldier stands for, plus, he is taking care of his family.

Back to the marriage counselor part I casually threw in there... Gene and I have been married for almost two decades and we hope for another four or five. We knew after this last deployment that we needed help. I hope other military families who have the struggle with redeployment get someone to help work out the kinks. The funniest thing that our counselor told us is 'with all the things life has thrown you, it is a miracle you are still married'. My sick sense of humor finds that hilarious. Miracles do happen.

Anyhoo, I am rambling. My main point (yes, there was one) is that if you ever wonder what it is like for many families when they are reunited and life begins again, this article is a pretty darn good one.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Buffalo Bob went camping!

It is a miracle... Gene and the family got me to go camping. I am literally the princess and the pea. I only like my bed sooooo... camping doesn't appeal to me. Or, I should say that camping didn't appeal to me. We went this past weekend and had a great time.

Keys for successful camping:

1. Have a designated camp song for the family to sing.

Ours was 'Buffalo Bob Only Ate Baked Beans'.

2. Have a fairly decent crib.

We didn't sleep in a tent but we came pretty darn close. Our tent was an A-Line camper. It was just for sleeping but that is cool since the idea of camping is enjoying the great outdoors. Here's a run down of the weekend.

For future reference...put down the support feet at the back of the camper before you and your spouse go to bed. It could hypothetically tip to one end since there is only one set of wheels and they are in the middle. I guess we didn't have the weight evenly balanced - adults on one end and kids on the other. I vaguely remember something like that in math class.

3. Pick your sight carefully.

We stayed about 40 minutes from our house. That wasn't by accident. I wanted to be able to come back home if I just couldn't take it any longer. The campsite was small - only 25 spaces. When we pulled in we had to do a recon of the entire camping area to pick the perfect spot for us - the one right next to the outhouses. I REFUSE to walk long distances in the middle of the night with critters to powder my nose.

4. Eat junk cooked over an open fire.

The campfire was the best part. We planned simple meals like hot dogs and hamburgers and lots and lots of s'mores. I bet we ate our weight in charbroiled marshmallows. The black crusty outer layer is the best part.

5. Have great weather with lots of fun things to try.

The fall weather was perfect, not too cool and not too warm (well, until it was 40 degrees on Saturday night - which happened to be the night we decided to pack it up and come home).

The First Evening:

Play with campfire. (The girls poked at the fire with sticks and threw everything naturally flammable in it while I nagged and fretted like a good Mom would.)

Eat s'mores.

Day Two:


Play at Old School Playground. (Greta and I went for an adventure walk while Gene and Gigi napped. We discovered a great playground. This playground was old school - like I had when I was young. The slide was two stories high and it had a REAL merry-go-round that went so fast you couldn't stand up when it stopped. The girls loved it.)

The Second Evening:

Fix dinner while the girls and Gene went fishing again.

Eat more blackened marshmallows and s'mores. (Don't worry, I continued my constant nagging of the girls getting to close to the fire.)

Play laser tag and look for critters in the woods with our night vision goggles.

Day Three:

Go back to the old school playground.

Have a picnic.

Go Geo Caching. (Gigi is the champ when it comes to finding the micro caches.)

Evening Three:

Go home to sleep in our own warm comfy beds. (The weather continued to get chillier and we hadn't planned for such a cold night.)

The camping didn't stop there. On Sunday the girls and their friends played in the camper all day. We definitely got a lot of use out of that little camper we rented.