how many licks does it take? {a tootsie pop sponsored post}

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I don't know about you, but when I was growing up and was told I could choose ONE piece of candy from the trick or treat loot or ONE treat from the Easter basket I always chose the Tootsie Roll Pop because as everyone knows...you get two candies in one!
My boys became the same way once they learned the secret to eating a Tootsie Roll Pop. There is still something exciting to a kid these days about finding a little extra something inside what they thought was just a pop.
Times and fads have changed, but there is something that has always remained awesome about these treats. I remember as a kid looking for certain pictures on the wrappers and saving my favorite flavor (grape!) to eat last. I see my boys doing the same things, and it's fun. More than one classroom full of my friends got these dressed up as "ghosts" for a Fall treat.
And who doesn't remember that cute little cartoon owl and his age old question "How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?" I can replay that commercial easily in my head. The boys usual answer to the question? Seven. Or five. Which is generally about right for their patience level.
Whether or not their guesses are accurate, it's a fun little something to share with my kids that I also enjoyed as a child. Do you have any Tootsie Roll Pop memories that you enjoy (or look forward to) sharing with your kids?
Tootsie Pop is also having a "How Many Licks?" video contest where you can win prizes by submitting a video which answers the "How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?" question. You can check that out, including the prizes (and grand prize!) by liking their Tootsie Roll Facebook page and Tootsie Pop Facebook page and going to the How Many Licks tab. The contest is happening from October 1st at 2:00 a.m. PT till October 25th at 11:30 p.m. PT.
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talking about emergencies (how to call 911)

With the death of a local mother of small children, my brain started to spin with the "what if's"...I am pretty good to not lean into those thoughts and let then take over but instead approach them with a practical "how can I help this situation" kind of thinking.  So while turning it over in my mind, I realized that while my kids can play games on my phone with ease, they have no idea how to use it as a phone OR what to do if mom doesn't wake up one morning. 

As NOT FUN as these conversations are, I think they go a long way to peace of mind and I pray they give the boys something to think back on if they ever need to use it. 

In our case, we told the boys that if after trying really hard they were unable to wake me one morning, to go to our neighbors house and bang on the door until they answered to tell them that they needed help.  We even talked to the boys WITH that neighbor to relay the same information and he even showed the boys which was his bedroom window and told them to bang on that until they woke up. 

We've also been sure to talk about what is an emergency and what isn't.  We've reminded Moses that he needs to keep his brother with him, to watch out for cars, etc.  They seem to get it as much as they can at their ages.  We will continue to discuss it as different issues or concerns come up.

In case that doesn't work, I'm making a "picture book" of sorts and we will be reading it together until the boys have it memorized (which has been done with dozens of books by this point!).  
This book will basically teach them how to call 911 on my phone if getting help from the neighbor isn't possible.  I will even allow them to "practice" some to get the idea.

I will be having these pictures printed and put in a couple of small photo albums for the boys to have and one that we will keep in a central location.  

I will fill in the last page with our address, which we will help the boys memorize, and the phone numbers of our relatives that live nearby. 

I'm putting these up here for you to use as well.  
Feel free to pull them to your desktop and print them to make your own picture book and talk to your kids as well!  Make the scary things less scary and talk to your kids about them!









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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! 







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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?
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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".
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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! :) 
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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!

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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!


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