Paw Patrol Birthday Cake

14th March 2016

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We celebrated Ellie’s third birthday over the weekend and one of the birthday girl’s only requests leading up to the Big Day was a Paw Patrol birthday cake.  She had her heart set on a Marshall sheet cake she had seen at the grocery store but it was way too big and way too expensive – so I decided to make my own.

I scoured Pinterest and found this amazing Rubble birthday cake.  It looked easy enough but Ellie was adamant that she have a white cake – so I turned it into an Everest cake instead!

Here’s the How-To:

1.  Make two round 9″ cakes.  I used this recipe for Buttermilk Vanilla Cake, replacing the Rodelle Reserve Vanilla with plain old artificial vanilla extract.

2.  Place one of the cakes on a cake stand.  Frost the top of the cake,  then place the other cake on top.

3.  Frost the top and sides of the cake.

4.  Place white chocolate KitKat sections in the frosting around the side of the cake, leaving a gap for the “snow”.  If I had read the tutorial properly I would have known to put a little bit of frosting down on the cake stand to stand the KitKat pieces in so they would stand up better, but oh well.  It worked!

5.  Build a ramp with frosting.

6.  Arrange white chocolate cookie pieces around the inside edges of the cake and down the ramp.  My frosting wasn’t thick enough – and I didn’t have enough left! – so I just stuck cookie pieces down the side of the cake and piled some on the side.

7.  Place Everest toy on the top of the cake.

We added a number candle beside Everest for Ellie to blow out.  She was so excited that she didn’t even notice it wasn’t a Marshall cake until after she had eaten an entire piece and been excused from the table!  “Wait – where’s my Marshall cake?!”

Sorry babe.  Mama’s on a budget ;)

Enough

7th March 2016

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Ever since I stopped working I’ve struggled with being enough.

I feel like such a hypocrite writing that, since it wasn’t that long ago that I shared this post about my decision to be a stay at home mom – but I want to be honest in this space, so there it is.

I have spent weeks trying to figure out how to make more, do more, and be more.

I explored work at home opportunities.  I researched ways to monetize a blog (ugh!).  I even debated whether or not to become some sort of direct sales consultant (Jamberry, perhaps?)

Then I decided that maybe I would feel better if I did more, so I cleaned our entire house from top to bottom, purging and reorganizing, doing minor repairs, washing walls and windows.

That didn’t help (well – maybe it did a little.  I do love a clean house!) so I volunteered to teach Topher’s Sunday school class.  I’m still debating whether or not to coach his soccer team.

I’ve been writing (and writing and writing and writing!) – building my portfolio and enjoying every second of it –

But nothing I do feels like enough, and I have no idea why I constantly feel like I should be doing something more.

Sometimes I forget how valuable it is that I’m able to be at home for my family right now.

I forget how important it is that I’m available to drive Topher to school – a good school, in a different neighbourhood.  I’m free to volunteer in his class or on field trips if that’s what I want to do.

I forget how important it is that I spend my mornings with Ellie.  Of course most of that time is spent driving her Paw Patrol pups from one room to another, or zipping them down the waterside into her Barbie pool – but we have lots of fun no matter what we’re doing!

I forget how important it is that I’m able to cook for my family every single day – and that we’re able to sit down at the table and eat as a family, without me skipping out early to start work in my corner-of-the-kitchen office.

I forget how important it is that I can coach Topher’s soccer team, if I want to.  Last year I had to book those days off – and almost missed one game because it got switched to a different day.

And I forget how important it is that I read the kids their bedtime stories and tuck them in at the end of the day, after two years of relinquishing the task to my husband.

Why do I need to remind myself what a privilege this is?

This is exactly where I want to be …

And being here is okay.

Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies

12th February 2016

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Today is Topher’s Valentine’s Day Celebration at school and I volunteered to make cookies for his class.  The kids and I make (and decorate!) sugar cookies for every occasion, so making some for Valentine’s Day wasn’t exactly a stretch!

Here is our favourite recipe:

  • 1 cup of butter (room temperature works best!)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder.

Mix butter and sugar together.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix together flour, baking soda and baking powder, then add to wet mixture.  Roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut into shapes.  Bake at 350*F for 8-10 minutes, until edges are barely tan.  (They’ll look like they’re not done but they are!)

To make the frosting:

  • 4 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • Milk, as needed

Mix first three ingredients together.  Add milk, a little at a time (i.e. a Tablespoon at a time) until desired consistency is reached.  Colour with food colouring if desired.  Frost cookies after they have cooled and decorate as desired.

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As you can see, Topher and Ellie tend to go overboard with the sprinkles – but is there such a thing as too many sprinkles on a cookie?

When I Feel Pretty

18th January 2016

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Last Friday I was getting ready for my riding lesson while Topher played with his Leappad in our bed.  “You look pretty, Mommy!” he said, looking up just as I finished pulling my hair into a ponytail.  I was wearing an ancient pair of breeches, boot socks that went up to my knees, and a ratty hoody.  “Thanks, bud!” I said, dismissing the compliment as nothing more than Topher trying to be extra sweet so I would bring him to the barn with me.  I didn’t feel particularly pretty.  Happy, yes – I love going to the barn! – but pretty?  Not so much.

Later that evening – after the kids had been tucked into bed and I had had a rather luxurious shower to warm myself up – Nathan complimented me.  “You look pretty!” he said when I joined him on the couch.  Or maybe he said I smelled pretty? Either way – I immediately dismissed the compliment as nothing more than my husband being nice.  I was wearing Christmas tree pajama pants and a tank top, with my hair in a braid and glasses instead of contacts.  I didn’t feel particularly pretty.  Happy, yes – I was warm and clean! – but pretty?  Not so much.

I’ve been thinking about beauty ever since, trying to remember the last time I felt pretty.

* * * *

I was in my best friend’s wedding earlier this year. It was a fancy affair: She hired a professional hair stylist and a make-up artist for the day, and I spent almost half as much on my bridesmaid dress as I did for my own wedding dress.   When she tagged me in pictures from the wedding that she had posted on Facebook I got dozens of likes within minutes. “You look amazing!” “You look beautiful!” “You’re so pretty!”

I was confused by the response. I don’t get those sorts of comments when I post regular pictures of myself, the everyday “mom” version of me in jeans and a t-shirt and glasses, with my hair pulled back in a ponytail. I don’t wear make-up on a regular basis and if my hair isn’t up it’s probably because my daughter has pulled the elastic out. So many people thought I was pretty at the wedding … Does that mean that I’m not pretty when I’m not all dolled up?

The thing is, I didn’t feel pretty that day. I felt sick. I had been fighting a stomach bug all week and hadn’t had anything to eat or drink all day. My dress was so tight that I couldn’t stand up straight for fear of ripping it, and I was so worried about the kids and how they would behave that apart from the pictures, I don’t think I smiled all day.

* * * *

I’ve spent the past several months learning how to wear make-up. I’ve scoured Pinterest, I’ve watched YouTube videos, I’ve even watched make-over shows!

For my birthday my sister gave me money designated specifically for make-up, directing me to ask the experts at Sephora so I could learn how to apply it properly.

My new make-up kit is almost as big as my son’s backpack.   It’s filled with moisturizer and toner and primers and concealers and foundation and blush and eye liners and eye shadow and lipstick and lip gloss and more tools and brushes than I can remember the proper use for.

I’ve been practicing, and I’m trying to wear make-up on a regular basis.

Friends and family and even other moms in the pick-up line at school compliment me on how I look now.

* * * *

I like wearing make-up. I like the way I look, and I feel more comfortable facing the world without enormous dark circles under my eyes.

I have confidence.

But I’ve learned something more important than contouring techniques; something my husband and my five-year-old son – the two boys whose opinions mean more to me than anybody else’s – already knew:

The packaging doesn’t change who I am on the inside.

Audrey Hepburn put it best:  “Happy girls are the prettiest.”

 

When do you feel pretty?

Around Here

13th January 2016

I finally took the Christmas tree down – much to everyone else’s disappointment!  I love Christmas, but I love having my house back to normal too!  We’ve decided (once again!) to list our condo, so I’ve spent the past few weeks purging, organizing, and cleaning.  I’m going to tackle the kitchen next, then the kids’ room.  Is it horrible that I’m planning to get rid of a lot of toys while Topher is at school?

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I spent an entire Saturday evening sorting through my clothes so I could make more room in my dresser for books.  Amazon is my weakness.

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I found a lump on Chloe’s right hip back in October.  She’s had lumps before that never amounted to anything so I didn’t think much of it – until it started to grow.  She had it aspirated last week and we found out that it’s not cancerous, but there are inflammatory cells so she needs surgery.  She’s due for a dental at the same time – poor, sad pup.

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We’re bracing for another cold snap this weekend.  I think it’s supposed to be -21 on Saturday, plus windchill.  I was planning to get my hair cut but if it’s going to be that cold I might just spend the day under a pile of blankets on the couch!  I’m sure I can convince the kids to help me build a fort …

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What have you been up to lately?