Thursday, June 28, 2012

It's Too Darn Hot - A Giveaway

I'm in a land of misery. And misery loves company so I'm dragging you along for the ride.

First of all, I'm very frustrated with myself for not backing up my computer more often. (Read: at all. Ever.). My go-to machine has died - I'm pretty sure it was heat stroke that killed it. There have been a couple of times that I've fallen asleep with it in my lap (not on a hard surface) and even on a board or table it gets pretty hot. And I KNOW better. Thus the frustration. It's looking pretty much like I've lost most of my photos from the last two-plus years and some of my favorite "original" recipes that I've not yet shared via the ol' blog-a-roo. (This is however a plus for publishing some of my favorite recipes here...) We've tried "enclosures" and "expensive recovery software" and the toasted hard-drive just won't give up the goods. (I understand very little of that last part I just typed...)

Second, my husband has been out of town ALL.week.long. I'm not cut out for single parenting. You might think that as a homeschool mom I can't get enough of my kids and I'd rather be with them than anywhere else. Nope. I need some time away. Daily. Don't get me wrong, I like them well enough, but they want to touch me and lay on me and ask me questions. I need to pass them off to their dad now and then.On the up-side, everyone is going to bed on time if not a little early -- so that I can lay awake in my room in peace all night long, filling the hours with Downton Abbey on Netflix....

Third, it's hotter than a burnt boot here. We've had at least three consecutive days of temperatures of 112° F and higher.I don't take the heat well, people. Just ask my friends - they'll tell you I get about 60% more cranky and whiny when I'm hot.And my brain stops working. And I want to eat fudgecicles and sit around in my underwear in front of the fan with a wet cloth on my forehead. It's not a good combination, nor is it pretty.

And finally, I'm in the mood to bake. Isn't that ridiculous? You step outside and your face tightens up like a snare drum and the air turns to dust in your lungs, but I want to light the oven and bake something. Well, that's clearly a bad idea. So instead, I stay up late until it cools to the high 80's outside and then I bake something. Then when it's done (around midnight) I want to eat it! It's a horrible cycle to be stuck in.

To make myself feel better I've decided to have a little give-away. It makes me feel good to give other people presents. I know you know what I mean. Humor me while I take my mind off the heat for a minute.

I finally went out and got some patriotic fillers for my apothecary jars (AKA over-sized candy dishes...) and while I was hunting around for blue candies (those are pretty hard to find, just so you know) I came across these nifty fireworks 3-D viewing "glasses". They make little prismatic rainbows out of all kinds of light sources. I bet they'll even be fun for viewing Christmas lights when it finally cools off around here in another six months!

I picked some up for our family and yours. 

I will send 4 pairs (why are they pairs of glasses when you only put one on your face?) of these clever 3-D fireworks viewing glasses to one lucky winner.Look how much fun Jacob is having just wearing them without any fireworks around! Your kids will love these.

  1. To be entered, just leave a comment on this post telling me what you plan to do for Independence Day next week.
  2. I'll give you a second entry for sharing the giveaway someplace else - leave a second comment telling where you shared (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, at the drive-thru at Dairy Queen...)
  3. Be sure there's a way for me to contact you! If you haven't completed your profile you might need to leave your email address in your comment - but make it all words -- you know... You AT someplace DOT COM so the spammers and scammers can't find you as easily.
  4. This giveaway is open to addresses in the USA only -- besides, I'm sure they don't have fireworks anywhere else in the worlds. They're uniquely American, right? Only made in China.

I'll draw for one winner at 8 PM, Friday, June 29. That just gives you two days... hurry up now!

Edited to add:
The winner, according to (sorry... I can't figure out how to cut and paste with their new format...) is comment number 3 - Lisa! We'll be sure you have your 3-D Fireworks glasses in time for the Fourth of July!

I'm linking to:

Giveaway Day

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lemony Snippets–A Series of Fortunate Cupcakes

I’m not sure why, but I’ve had a real hankering for lemon lately. It probably has something to do with the official start of summer, but then again, it might just be the influence of the recipe books I’ve been perusing lately.Lemon Curd Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream

We needed a portable cake for my daughter’s 10th birthday, so the obvious go-to was cupcakes. The hiccup was in the fact that she wanted lemon meringue pie. The solution was lemon meringue cupcakes.


My twelve-year-old son actually baked these and I topped them with the meringue. We decided to cut the calories a bit and use vanilla yogurt rather than oil in the cupcakes. The flavor was good, the texture was heavy and moist, but they didn’t rise quite as high and did stick to the papers a bit. I’ve read than you can spray the papers with oil, but I haven’t tried it.
The meringue was piped on while the completely cooled little cakes were still in the pan and then set and browned in the oven for about 10 minutes. I gave them a little extra browning with my kitchen torch. It’s a little harder to get them into the plastic cup without messing them up so I called “do-over”
The ingredients were basically the same for our second batch of lemon cupcakes.
Lemon Cupcakes

For extra tang and zip, my helper and I replaced half of the water with lemon juice – that’s 2/3 cup on this standard mix from Duncan Hines (my preferred cake mix). This time we used vegetable oil in the cakes rather than the yogurt, got a fluffier cupcake and a clean peel from the papers.
Try to keep yourself from being distracted by my hip and stylish faux butcher block countertops. I know you’re jealous – try to rein it in.
Kitchen Helper

To take the lemoniness (not sure if that was a word before, but it is now…) over the top, we filled our cupcakes with lemon curd. You can make your own or use a store bought variety. Remove the lid and microwave the jar about 15-20 seconds. Stir well and fill a quart size zip top bag with the lemon curd. I like a freezer bag since they’re more sturdy. Snip off about a quarter inch from the corner of the bag so you can easily fill your cupcakes. (I made the hole in my cooled cupcakes with the handle of a big wooden spoon.)

Lemon Curd filled Cupcakes

Overfill them just slightly and then spread the lemon curd over the top of the cupcake before you ice it.
This batch got iced with a Lemon Buttercream.
Lemon Buttercream Icing Recipe
Lemon Buttercream Icing
    • 1 Cup butter, softened
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon lemon oil or lemon extract
    • 2-4 drops yellow food color
    • 32 ounces powdered sugar
    • 1/4 Cup whipping cream
Beat first 5 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with cream, beating at low speed until blended after each addition. Beat at high speed 2 minutes or until creamy.
If you’re going to be hauling these around and want to wrap them in a 9 ounce cup in a treat bag put them IN the cup before you pipe the icing on top. This will assure you don’t smear up the icing.
Monopoly Themed Cupcakes To Go
 In case you’re wondering, these cupcakes are topped with Monopoly game pieces. We took the opportunity to share them with a friend’s family that was having a “Monopoly themed day” at their house. I was therefore able to prevent them from becoming my breakfast and eventual chair padding.

Lemon Curd Filled Cupcake with Lemon Buttercream
Overall, I think I liked the meringue topping better. The lemon buttercream is very sweet bordering on too sweet, but it did look prettier. And, sadly, sometimes that is what matters.
Brace yourselves -- I’ve been baking a lot lately. I’ve got at least three more summer recipes in the line-up for you. Start your exercise programs now…

I'm linking to:
The Girl Creative


Friday, June 15, 2012

Birthday Party to Go

Long ago, when we added a second child to our quiver, we set some ground rules for upcoming birthday parties. You know, the parties with all the hoopla – invitations, friends, goody bags, piƱatas, games etc. Every birthday would be celebrated with immediate family and grandparents when possible (thankfully, we all live within five miles of each other), but there would be precious few hoopla birthdays. Specifically, they would be birthdays number 1, 5, 10, 13, and the rest were up for discussion.
I’m proud to say we’ve nearly stuck right with that schedule, except for Jacob that didn’t know anyone when we moved right before his 5th birthday so we saved the hoopla for birthday number 6. That was an awesome birthday party, by the way, but it happened months before I started blogging… sorry. He’s been a year off kilter since. Remember his Lego party for his 11th?
So my baby girl turned 10 this month. I could spend the next three paragraphs lamenting the fact that my baby is 10, but I’ll spare you. You’re welcome.
Anyhow, age 10, the first of the “oh” birthdays, as in “the Big one-oh“, entry into the double digits, is one of those special years. It was time for a hoopla party.Double Digit Birthday Girl
But I just couldn’t gear myself up for it. I wanted to, really I did, but I didn’t have the energy or even desire to pull off a hoopla party. Not to mention the money.
So we came up with a new plan. We would become “those” parents and host the party in a party room at a pizza place. Not just ANY pizza place, mind you, but the Incredible Pizza Company. It’s an experience in and of itself. BFF's for a birthday
We added just two friends to the guest list (as a surprise) and the formula for a perfect party was nearly complete. All that was left were goody bags and cake – the pizza place was taking care of all the other entertainment and food. Shoot, I wasn’t even breaking a sweat yet!
The goody bags were simple, pink, paper lunch sacks, folded over, punched and tied with contrasting ribbon. Inside were a few inexpensive girly items. Simple Birthday Goody BagReady to Party
The cupcakes were probably my favorite part of the party – easily portable, delicious and cute as can be! The packaging was inspired by a Pinterest find. Portable Cupcakes 2Just a 9 ounce punch cup dropped in a “treat” bag (near the cake decorating supplies at China-Mart) and tied with ribbon and a spoon. The tag is from my QuicKutz stamped with a birthday message.   I’ll share my recipe for Lemon Meringue Cupcakes in a day or two. They were pretty good and easier than pie.Portable Cupcakes
In my overachieving, party planner’s mind I wasn’t doing enough. I was lacking that spark that would knock this one out of the park and qualify it for hoopla status. I achieved it with just $5.50 more. $1 for the car window paint pen and $4.50 for the bag of balloons. (Plus what it cost me to have my boys pre-wash my van…) I don’t count the cost of 6 feet of curling ribbon hanging from the antennae. Traveling Party Van
Balloons falling out of the car when she opened the door and that almost-a-limo-ride feeling of a painted up party wagon made this portable birthday a winner.Van Load of Balloons
Portable Party Wagon
There was no question about it – all over town and on the highway – we were having a party!Surprise Guests
I will confess to you now that this wasn’t one of my budget-friendly parties, but it could have been. What took it over the top was meeting the minimum number of guests at the pizza place, even with the bare bones party package. If I did it over, I’d just take the three girls to the pizza place, leave the brothers and grandparents at home and forego the party room. But they did have a great time and couldn’t stop smiling and talking about it.
And that gets the hoopla stamp of approval.Bumper Cars at Incredible Pizza Company
Incredible Pizza Company

Monday, June 11, 2012

Party in Heaven!

I’m having a hard time setting aside time for blogging lately, but I couldn’t let this occasion pass without throwing some cyber confetti and releasing some balloons.2012-06-09 19

Our daughter made a commitment to follow Jesus over the weekend.

She’s been studying and looking forward to this step for a little more than a year now and she finally got to step into the water for baptism.

Some of our church family members were able to join us in the Texas heat to celebrate at the end of the sabbath as the sun was sinking in the west.In the water raysSin buried

We’re rejoicing with Heaven over her decision!

“Happy are they who come to Christ in their youth and commit their entire life to Christ rather than offer the remnants of the wasted years.” SDA Bible Commentary Vol 6, pg 1001


She’s not perfect and has a lot more growing to do, as do her parents, but we’re proud of her and her desire to be her best for the Lord.

Thank you, Dawn, for some of these great photos.

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