Happy Birthday "Where's Waldo"!

The boys were thrilled to receive costumes from The Morris Company to celebrate "Where's Waldo"'s 25th birthday!  It's hard to believe that he is 25 this year!

The boys love the books and were more than happy to act the part of Waldo in their new costumes.

Thanks for sending them and happy birthday Waldo! 

what I made for Monday - Perfect cake - delightful frosting & rolled marzipan!

Sometimes you find a recipe and think "I'll never make this another way".  And this is that cake recipe.  I have tried TONS of cake recipes and they are never quite what I want them to be.  They are either too heavy, or too dense, or too vanilla or too flat or too something that keeps them from being a recipe that I will come back to again and again.

This recipe is not one of those.  This recipe, both the cake and the icing one are ones that are going into my "never making this another way" file.

And while I am a self confessed cake mix snob, this recipe requires just enough tweaking that I feel like it's OK that it's based on a mix.  The result is the perfect textured cake that is tasty and wonderful.

I made these recipes twice this week and lost count of how many times I (or Doug) was told "This is the BEST cake I've ever had".  Yesssss.  
Here's how to make the PERFECT white cake (or cupcakes)
1 box white cake mix (18.25 oz!!)
1 c flour
1 c sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups water
1/8 c vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla (or you could sub any flavor you would like to try!)
1 cup sour cream
4 large egg whites
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together with a whisk.  Add remaining ingredients and beat until well blended.  Pour into greased and floured cake pans or cupcake tins lined with papers.  Fill cupcake papers about 3/4 of the way full. 
Bake for 18 minutes or so for cupcakes and a little longer for cake.  Test with a toothpick in the center for done-ness. :)

Makes 36 Cupcakes
And then you MUST top it with this amazing frosting recipe.  This is easily altered for flavor, this time I used strawberry.

Delightful Cake/Cupcake Frosting
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter room temp.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond, or strawberry or anything!!)
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream (or more if needed)

Cream together butter and sugar, add vanilla (or flavor of your choice) and slowly add whipping cream adding more if needed to achieve a good spreading consistency. 

One recipe is enough to cover about 12 cupcakes. 

And based on the awesomeness of the cake and frosting recipe I decided to venture into making Marzipan...a big deal in Doug's family.  I'm pretty pleased with how well it came out for my first time making it and it got great reviews from my panel of testers.  In case you want to try it for yourself...

Rolled Marzipan Recipe
1 lb almond paste (or two 8oz cans)
1 lb 12 oz (about 7 cups) powdered sugar
4 ounces (1/3 cup) light corn syrup
3 tbsp water (or more)
3 tbsp almond extract

Break up the almond paste into small chunks.  Add sugar and mix until it reaches a sandy consistency, break up any chunks of almond paste.  Add corn syrup and extract.  Add water by the tablespoon and mix completely before adding the next.  Keep adding water by the tablespoon until the dough reaches a state where it is no longer crumby and stays together.  Once you can shape it into a ball it should be good.  Wrap in cellophane and refrigerate for 24 hours.  The next day you can knead and roll it out to use the same way you would fondant.  
I made this one for Doug to take to an employee celebrating her 40th year in her job.  She loved it and raved that it was the best cake she had ever had.  Yay!! :) 

Inspired by Food Network for Frosting, &  Wedding 101 for cake.

helping out the new mom - a huggies post

I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

This week we are talking about those first days home from the hospital...what's the best way to help a new mother out?

The first thing on my list, upon bringing home a newborn, was space. I didn't want a lot of visitors. It's tough to get that space, because everyone REALLY wants to see that new baby. When we had both of our boys, we limited visits to one a day or at the very least, one at a time. If you need to do so, feel free to leave a polite note on the front door and change your voice mail to say something like, "Thanks for thinking of us and wanting to check in. At this time we just need a little space to adjust to our new family. We'll be open to lots of visitors soon!" The people who love you will understand, especially those who have had babies themselves.

Don't make the mistake of feeling selfish for wanting that space. Speak your needs in kindness to your friends and if they love you, they will get it.

On the other hand, if you know a new mom, offer help of any kind. You may need to be persistent and firm (you know how to do this with your best friends) and be willing to do whatever they need. If they need someone to take a colicky baby for a walk so they can sleep for twenty minutes, do it. If they need their bathrooms cleaned, do it. Offer to do things that you don't think they would ask you to do. And do them with joy. Bring a meal by and leave quickly, be sure to use throw away dishes!

If you are the new mom...speak up! Don't be afraid of hurting peoples feelings by making requests, especially if they are offering help! Take them up on it and return the favor when you can! Don't let guilt keep you from taking advantage of offers to cook, clean, hold a baby or do some laundry! The worst thing you can do in your post-hormonal crazy state is assume that anyone just KNOWS what you need. They don't. It's not because they don't love you or want to help. It's just because they aren't mind readers. Especially keep this in mind with husbands. My Doug was always willing to do anything I asked him, but whenever I ASSUMED he knew what I needed, ugliness ensued. Just ask.
I guess what I am saying here is ask for help and be willing to take it. And make your requests and desires known!

And be sure you read up on all my other Huggies posts HERE! There's some good stuff in there!
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app!
Find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on BlogHer.com.

coming home - a huggies post

I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

I can clearly remember the day we brought Moses home from the hospital. It felt so strange to walk out of there with this tiny little person that wasn't with you when you came there. Both Doug and I felt like we were doing something wrong as we crossed the threshold of the hospital and walked to our car. I think we both were thinking that surely someone would stop us from just TAKING this baby away with us. It is so surreal and strange to leave with someone that you are 100% responsible for in every single way.

It is a very strange feeling to put that teeny little person in their carseat for the first time, make sure they are buckled in the right way, and carry them off to a new life. All the while wondering if they are warm enough, too warm, are they hungry or tired or will they stay awake? Can they make it home before needing to be fed? How will you know if they've had too much to eat or not enough?

Oy! Being a first time mom is crazy overwhelming. A good way to make those first days a little less crazy is to do your research! You can Google the reviews on just about any baby product. Do this with your carseat and then head on over to your local police or fire department. A lot of time they will make sure it is installed properly. One less thing to worry about.

If you are unsure how to dress your baby for the season, bring two to three different outfits and choose one based on the weather. October in our area can be anywhere from chilly to summer like so thankfully we came prepared with a couple of different outfit choices. Having a blanket or two on hand helps broaden your choices even more.

Have meals in place and know who will be in your home when you arrive.

The good news is that you will make it home. I also clearly remember walking in our front door, sitting Moses on the coffee table in his little bucket carseat and looking at Doug thinking "Now what?" And here, nearly six years later we find ourselves asking the same question.

"Now what?"

Motherhood is a crazy adventure...and what they never ever tell you, is that it never gets easier. The problems and challenges just change.

Be sure you read up on all my other Huggies posts HERE! There's some good stuff in there!

Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app and find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on BlogHer.com.

i'm curious - chime in. :)

We're approaching our first birthday with a child in elementary school.  It changes things a bit in that Moses has this huge pool of people that could potentially be included in his birthday celebration, but Doug and I have concluded that we aren't that family. 

I find huge kid parties overwhelming and Moses is naturally introverted so that made our decision of who to include easy: we let Moses pick who he wants to come.  As it turns out, he chose four boys from his class whose names I hear often.  He's happy, we're happy. 

We will be sending invitations in the mail or via email and we've talked to Moses about being sensitive to others in regards to his party.  We will also be sending treats to share with the whole class on his birthday so everyone is included on some level.    

I asked the question on my Facebook page: What side are you on: everyone should be invited to the party or let your child choose?  And the answers were both interesting and varied. 

While I don't feel the need to invite every child in the class, I would also never allow Moses to exclude one or two people purposely.  I would never hand out invites in front of other children or allow Moses to make others feel bad about not coming. 

My kids have been excluded from things in the past and I am sure it will happen again in the future.  That's part of life right as I see it and a chance to teach them valuable lessons.  I don't think less of the parents or the kids who have excluded my kids but maybe that's not normal of me.  Of course, I also don't believe in participation trophies either...so there is that.

So I'm curious...what's your stance?  Does everyone get an invite or do you let your child choose?

proof of good in the world.

I just LOVE this video.  Could not watch without tears because I just know it would be like this for either of our boys. 
Here's the boys with their versions of "ah ah"..."doggy" and "koufax".

what I made for monday - mini pumpkin pies - and mini mini pumpkin pies

Hello friends!  I hope you enjoy this mini pie recipe as much as you enjoyed my last one!  This one is even easier than the mini-apple pies!  Tis the season for all things pumpkin and I just couldn't hold out making something to suit the tiny feeling of fall in the air.  Want to make some mini pumpkin pies and/or some mini-mini ones?  Let's do it!  
Here is what you need:
1 15oz can of pumpkin
1 12oz can of evaporated milk
2 eggs
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2tsp of salt
2 boxes of ready made crust (how many you use will determine if you need three or all four)
Pillsbury makes me feel like I don't have to make pie crust from scratch, it's pretty good.  
You will also need a cookie cutter (or some sort of circle) that is about this much bigger than your muffin tin, both the regular and the mini one.

You should also lightly spray your pans with cooking spray.
Unroll your crust and cut out circles, lay the circle on top of the muffin hole and gently press down to the bottom.  From there gently press the crusts to the sides, covering the whole muffin cup.  Once I cut out as many circles as I can with the pre-rolled out dough, I combine it together and roll it out again and again. 

I made the edges look a little nicer by pressing the edges with a fork. 

This recipe will make 24 mini pies, 48 mini mini pies or 12 mini pies and 24 mini mini pies.  So cut out circles according to what you want to make.
Combine sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt together with a whisk.  Beat eggs and then slowly combine pumpkin and add sugar mixture to that.  Once that is all combined, stir in the evaporated milk.  
I used a 1/3cup measuring cup that wasn't quite full to fill the regular muffin cups.  I used 1/4cup measuring cup that wasn't quite full to fill each mini muffin cup.  
Fill all your mini pie shells to just below level with muffin pan top.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes for the regular sized ones and 25-30 minutes for the mini ones.  Check done-ness by putting a knife in the center, if it comes out mostly clean they are done.  
Enjoy with some fresh whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice...by the forkful or by the bite! 

This batch made me 12 regular mini pies and 24 mini mini pies. :) I am guessing that if you make all regular size you would get about 24 and if you make all mini pies you would get about 48 bite sized ones. 

The 12 regular and 24 minis used three of the four crusts that I bought. :)

Here's a recap for you:

Mini Pumpkin Pies by Little Bit Funky
1 15oz can of pumpkin
1 12oz can of evaporated milk
2 eggs
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2tsp of salt
2 boxes of ready made crust (4 total crusts though we will only use 3 for the combo I did here)

Spray pans.  Decide what size you want to make and roll and cut crust and use to line muffin tins.
Combine dry ingredients.  Beat eggs and add pumpkin in.  Add sugar mixture and then add in milk. 
Fill crusts to nearly full.  

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes for the regular sized ones and 25-30 minutes for the mini ones.  Check done-ness by putting a knife in the center, if it comes out mostly clean they are done.  

Have fun making tiny pies and feel free to pin this recipe and share with others! :) 

what i made for monday - zucchini cardamom bread

3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom (or more to your taste)
3 eggs
1 cup veggie oil
2 1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini

Preheat oven to 325. 

Combine first six dry ingredients.  Add eggs and oil.  Combine.  Add sugar and vanilla.  Combine well and mix zucchini in until blended through.  

Bake in two 9 by 4in pans that have been greased or lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 40-60 minutes or until a knife entered in the center comes out clean. 

Freezes well!

what i made for monday - easy oreo truffle bar - only six ingredients!

Oh man.  I know I say this a lot...but you are really not going to like me for showing you these.  They are AMAZING.  A close number two to the No-Bake Peanut Butter bars from a few days ago.  
I found a recipe for these on Chef in Training and tweaked it a bit.  Brownies are one of those things that I don't feel needs to be made from scratch.  So I don't.  I hope you enjoy my simplified version of these AMAZING Oreo truffle bars.

All you need is:
your favorite box brownie mix (and the ingredients listed to prepare them- oil and eggs)
one package of Oreos
5 oz of cream cheese
10oz of chocolate candy coating
I used chocolate...but you could try white chocolate or peppermint? 
Line your brownie pan with parchment paper or treat the pan per directions on the box.  But really, if you aren't using parchment paper when you bake, your life is harder than it needs to be.

Bake the brownies as directed in a 9 by 13in pan and leave them in the pan when done. 
 Meanwhile...get out your handy food processor...or use a ziplock bag and hammer of sorts...
And crush the Oreos into a fine mixture with no big lumps. 
Add the crumbs to a mixing bowl...
And add in the cream cheese.  Mix until it's all incorporated together.  
Spread the Oreo and cream cheese mixture on top of your cooled brownies.  
Spread until smooth...
Melt the candy coating in the microwave according to the directions on the package.  My chocolate said to heat for 20-30 seconds, stir, heat, stir, etc until smooth.  You could also use a double boiler for this, too.  Once it's fully melted, pour on top of Oreo/cream cheese/brownies.  Spread all over.  Sprinkle the still melted chocolate with broken up Oreos, sprinkles, candy bits, etc.      
Once it is set, use your parchment paper to lift the bars out in one big piece. 
Using a SHARP knife score and cut into just the chocolate shell...
Then with a plastic knife or spreader cut into the bottom layers.  This will keep the brownies from sticking to your knife.  

Enjoy and share with friends!

Inspiring good in our kids - a sponsored post

I don't know about you...but I'm raising kids who will make a difference in the world and stand up for what they believe in.

It's so tough, in a world so full of corrupt thinking and ways, to teach children to navigate the world in a way that is loving but also firm in the belief of what is right. It's so hard when your kids may be surrounded by people making wrong choices or maybe just different choices than your family would make.
As my kids get older, the problems get more complex, the answers get trickier to navigate as you weave in and out of the areas they understand at their ages, both emotionally and spiritually. At the end of the day we spend most of the time talking about loving others.

I work hard to model love to my boys as the best way to inspire change in others. The boys and I show love to our mailman, to our UPS carrier, to their teachers and peers. I involve the boys in choosing items and drawing pictures for our Operation Christmas Child boxes every year as a way to love someone they don't even know. We donate toys and clothes to charity together.

We are teaching our kids to live out Proverbs 16:24: Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

We are loving to each other, to our friends, to our family and to the people in our neighborhood. As they get older they will see us model this kind of love to all sorts of people we come across...even those we don't agree with because at the end of the day, there is not a more powerful change inducer than love.

I was excited to see Fox's new movie trailer "Won't Back Down" because there seems to be so few movies these days that inspire good change. Our society seems to focus on the bad, the sad, the ugly and the things that tear down our society.

In case you haven't heard about it here is Fox's description: Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis play two determined mothers, one a teacher, who will stop at nothing to transform their children's failing inner city school. Facing a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, they risk everything to make a difference in the education and future of their children.

Fox is using this new movie as a catapult to inspire change...and it comes out September 28!

You can check out more on their Facebook page HERE to get some inspiration and use that inspiration to answer the following question and enter to win one of two $40 Fandango gift cards! (Because movies aren't cheap ya'll!)

To enter you must leave a comment on this post answering the question:

"How can you be an agent for change in your community? What gives you courage?"
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
"b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the
following unique term in your tweet message: ""#SweepstakesEntry""; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post"
c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 9/5/12-9/30/12.
Be sure to visit the Won't Back Down brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts and find more chances to win!


Daily I am reminded in our own little neighborhood, just how good God is to us.  This double rainbow is a bold reminder but regularly I can find smaller examples of how awesome God is (bigger ones too sometimes!).

I encourage you, if you need a little reminder of the Saviors love and how he still looks after his people...take some time to read my Ebenezer posts...be encouraged and set out to set up your own...

before and after...

I turned a $10 meh stool into an awesome addition to my kitchen!

The best part is that I DIY'd my own vinyl!  Anyone interested in how to do that?  Hang in there, I'm working on a little how to! :) 

Pregnancy test and beyond - a huggies post

I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

So what you may not know about me is that we got pregnant on our honeymoon with Moses. Unexpectedly so, not planned by us but almost six years out clearly planned by someone more in control.

As you can imagine, a couple of short weeks after returning home from our honeymoon, I knew something was awry. My "lady functions" were like clockwork and the clock was stalled. I vaguely remember mentioning it to Doug the DAY that it missed. The very next morning we took a test. So basically, within 24 hours of being overdue, we knew we were pregnant. Approximately 3 weeks into a new marriage, we had new BIG news. You know what most people do? Keep it on the down low for several weeks. You know what we did? We called people the day of.

Yeah, we are those crazy people.

It was a whirlwind year for us. We got married, had a baby, got a job promotion, moved to a new city, quit my job, bought a new house...all in about a year and a half. But that's a story in itself.

I'm pretty sure that within the week we had a doctors appointment. I was fortunate with both of my pregnancies that we lived near colleges that stocked the local hospitals with excellent doctors and nurses. In both cases, we managed to stumble into excellent practices full of awesome doctors. We may have had a recommendation from friends but I think Google was the most pivotal in our doctor research.

How about you? How did you know you were pregnant? How soon? How did you find a doctor you loved?
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app and find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on BlogHer.com.

how to replace your iphone 4 screen - resources for doing it yourself

I lived my nightmare this week.  Talk about first world problems.  My iPhone just flew out of my hands and landed face down on the tile.  I knew before I picked it up that my number had come.  I also never pay for an insurance plan.  I figure the money I save over time there makes up for what I will have to put out to replace or fix a broken phone and usually that is true.

In this case it was definitely true.  I fixed my completely broken iPhone front for around $35 total.  It was either that or pay $550 for a new iPhone since I can't get a discount with my account renewal until February.  I did it myself, with the help of You Tube and Amazon.  And I'm here to tell you that if I can do it...you can do it too!  Especially if you are like me and just need it to make it a few more months for a replacement.  

I ordered THIS KIT  from Amazon for about $25 and paid extra for it to come in 24 hours.  I was mostly happy with the kit except that the phillips head screwdriver was a little too big and the new face didn't come with a speaker screen.  If you keep those two things in mind, you can be prepared and just transfer the old speaker screen to the new.   
The first thing I did before starting was to place clear tape over the broken face of my phone to save my fingers from being sliced up.  You might not need to do this if you just have a little crack but as you can see...I did serious work on my phone.  
Besides the new face, this is what came in the kit.  A star screwdriver, a flat head and a phillips head, two blue puller uppers and a suction cup.  
 The first thing you do is remove the two star screws. 
 ...slide up the back and it pops off.
Then you get down to business...and touch things that you should never have to touch.  
I was planning on doing a step by step but I got too involved in what I was doing so I will just refer you to THIS video to take it apart and THIS video to put it back together.  Fixing it yourself is totally doable.  I am not a "tech" person and even I will admit it was easy, even if it was tedious.  

Helpful hints:
--I would recommend taking a photo of each step for your own help in reassembly.  I may or may not have ended up with a couple of extra parts.
--Have magnetic screwdrivers. 
--Have a large flat workspace.  In my case I used my cutting mat.  It made keeping track of TEENY screws a lot easier and the bright background was helpful.
--Wait until your kids are not around. 
--Breathe and have chocolate on hand.
At the end of the day, I fixed it nearly to the state it was before.  My only tiny issue is that my power button doesn't work, but that doesn't bother me since I never really used it anyway and my phone is set to power off after a minute. 

There is also a small mark on my photos but I can totally work around it.  Both things I can easily live with until February and a small price to pay to save $550.

My sound on/off button works better than before so at least there is that. 

So if you find that your number is up...there is hope.  Have a little confidence in your ability and jump in! Just be aware that this would probably void your warranty and you may be able to sweet talk an Apple nerd to fix it for you.  If that fails, at least you know you have an option!

Also, I was in Best Buy within minutes of fixing it buying an Otterbox. :)

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