Sunday, June 14, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Destin Trip

Kyle goofing off in a gift shop




Some beach and pool pics
















On our way back we stopped at NAS Pensacola.


Naval Aviation Museum







Lighthouse - we got there too late for a tour but it's supposed to be haunted so I am looking forward to a tour next time.



Fort Barrancas - Kyle thought it was boring but I thought it was one of the most interesting forts we have been to.





We had a really great time. :)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Brownie Bites


I made brownie bites and some cupcake bites for Kyle's Pre-K Celebration. These are similiar to the cupcake bites in that the candy foil cups are filled with chocolate candy melts. Bake brownie mix in a mini muffin pan and push brownie into center of chocolate filled foil cup. Ice with more melted chocolate and add some sprinkles. This was really easy.

I also did cake pops again but found that chocolate cake and buttercream icing didn't work as well as the red velvet and cream cheese. It required more freezer time.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Boating - Blind River, Diversion Canal and Lake Maurepas

We finally made it out on the boat! Either our schedules or the weather has prevented us for weeks. It was a great time.

A sea plane right by the Blind River Bar!





Blind River Bar

Yes, this is actually Kyle driving the boat in Lake Maurepas and he did quite well. Unless of course you work for Wild Life and Fisheries, then no he wasn't driving it. ;)











Thursday, May 28, 2009

Schools out for summer...




I know finishing Pre-K isn't some monumental accomplishment but I am filled with incredible pride for how much Kyle has grown as a person and learned this past year. I had no idea how different Pre-K in an elementary school would be from a pre-school program in a daycare/pre-school environment. If it was this different for me as a parent I can only imagine how different it was for Kyle. I am constantly grateful that he is in a school that not only excels academically but also nurtures the student's creativity, treats them with warmth and gives them the tools to further their knowledge while not in school.

I wonder often which memories of his childhood that he will cherish later and which friends that he is making could be lifelong friendships. I am proud of him every day for being such a caring, gentle soul and I am constantly in awe of how much he absorbs and understands. On a few occasions after a school activity we walked home from his school and stopped to get snowballs or another snack. It's moments like this that I treasure where we have one on one time together when nothing else matters.

It means so much to me when I am able to participate in school activities so I can see him interact with his classmates and get to know his teachers, classmates and the classmates parents. I have never wished more to be a SAHM so I could take every opportunity to volunteer at his school. Being a parent to a school age child is really a completely new journey filled with so much joy, amazement and opportunities for personal growth.

The end of the year celebration for Kyle's class was wonderful. The class sang several songs (videos of two below), the Principal handed out completion certificates and then there was a breakfast. I cried through most of it! I can't believe how much he has changed this last year and that soon he will be in Kindergarten.

video


video

Monday, May 25, 2009

Last Weekend - Lafreniere Park and WWII museum

Just some random pics from last weekend. We went to a b-day party at Lafreniere Park on Sunday and then to the WWII museum last Sunday.



Honey Butter Rolls


Kris picked up some Country Crock honey spread from the grocery and we both thought it would be like the honey butter that restaurants serve with hot rolls. I decided to make some rolls to go with it but I didn't like any of the recipes I came across so I winged it and the rolls came out great. They were moist and really flavorful. I probably could have cooked it tad longer so I plan to re-heat the leftover ones in the oven to brown them a bit more. The honey spread tasted like chemicals so I just whipped together some softened unsalted sweet cream butter and honey. Much better. The recipe that I threw together is below - it's pretty basic so it leaves room to customize it.











Easy Honey Butter Rolls
Ingredients:

1.5 cups bread flour

1 cup baking mix

1 tsp. yeast

1 cup water

4 tbsp. honey

4 tbsp. softened unsalted sweet cream butter

Procedure:


(I used a bread machine but ingredients could be mixed in a bowl and left to rise in a warm place for one hour.)


Add dry ingredients to bread machine sifting to combine. Add wet ingredients. Set bread machine to dough setting. My machine is set for an hour and a half but I removed after an hour. It will be more like a batter so it's not necessary to roll out and cut dough. Preheat oven to 350 degress. Grease a muffin pan and use a spoon to drop 3 tsp. (about 3/4 full) for each roll. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Use a tablespoon to loosen sides and slide under roll - they should pop right out.


Yields 12 rolls.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Great children's books with a New Orleans flare

Enjoy sharing these lively stories with your little ones as they learn about some unique New Orleans traditions and are tickled by the Cajun dialect.
New this year, Good Night Nola is a quick read with gorgeous illustration. It’s an excellent introduction for young children and it pays tribute to things unique to New Orleans in a rhythmic prose.
The four-legged artist of New Orleans ' French Quarter takes a ride on the historical St. Charles Avenue streetcar. While attending a birthday party aboard a streetcar, Jenny Giraffe has the opportunity to learn about the history of New Orleans.
Another great book in the classic Jenny Giraffe series written by a former school teacher. While preparing for her ride in the Krewe of Orpheus, Jenny Giraffe discovers the tradition of float riders, masks, costumes, the origin of Mardi Gras colors, king cake and more.
Way down in Bayou LaRouche, a Cajun mawmaw bakes herself a gingerbread boy, who runs away, and is chased by everyone he meets. Told in a rich Cajun dialect, this interpretation has a removable gingerbread boy that easily slips from one page to the next so young readers can help him escape his pursuers. As the Gingerbread Boy attempts his great escape, the reader gets a feel for the lay of the land as we follow him through swamps and bayous, past vegetation and wildlife. The last page includes a recipe for Cajun Gingerbread Boys. A Children’s Choice Book in the International Reading Association Children’s Book Council

Cajun Night Before Christmas
This story is well known as an animated light show display in City Park's Celebration in the Oaks.

Mimi’s First Mardi Gras
Seen through Mimi's eyes, this pictorial tour of Mardi Gras provides an interesting introduction to the holiday. Preparations for the annual festivities include the all-important choices of costume. Though her parents are dressing as clowns, "Mimi had her heart set on being a beautiful princess." The depiction of the parade vividly highlights MG foods and throws as well as the arrival of Rex, King of Carnival. When the parade is over, an exhausted Mimi joins her cousins for gumbo and jambalaya.
This author was recommended to me by my cousin, but I have not read any of the books yet. It looks like she has some great books on her website with titles like 'Why the Crawfish Lives in the Mud' and 'Down in Louisiana'.

Nancy's Corner carries several of these great titles. You can also check with your local library.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cupcake Bites and Cake Pops!!!

Teddy bear nose saved the day...but more about that later.

I was looking for an excuse to make Bakerella's Cupcake Bites and Cake Pops, so I made some for a birthday at work. Michael's was out of the candy mold that Bakerella used but I improvised just using some foil candy cups in a mini cupcake pan to pour the chocolate. The cupcake bites when complete are the same size in diameter as a mini Reese's peanut butter cup and the cake balls used to make the cake pops are about the double the size.

I'd rather not divulge how long this took me as to avoid discouraging anyone else but even so I will say that it was well worth the time. The taste is divine. I really didn't imagine they could be this good. The texture is like a perfect creamy truffle.

Cupcake Bites Process:

1.) Prepare one box of red velvet cake mix as directed. Bake as directed for 13 X 9 cake.
2.) Use mixer on medium setting for one minute to mix softened cream cheese with 1/2 jar of vanilla frosting.
I'm okay with using boxed cake mixes but I generally have an aversion to store bought frosting however I had purchased some vanilla frosting specifically for cake pops and the like in order to have the precise ratio so I just mixed it with some cream cheese. It wasn't as sweet as just vanilla frosting or homemade cream cheese frosting but with all the chocolate I think that is actually preferable.
3.) Once cake is done baking and cooled, crumble cake into a large bowl. Mix cake crumbles and frosting thoroughly. I started out with a spatula but then just gave in and used my hands.
4.) Roll mixture into quarter sized balls. I found it helped to keep the cake moist by patting down the mixture regularly. I started off using a melon baller to get cake balls about the same size but it really didn't help too much. Once I had made 48 of them this way I decided to make larger cake balls to finish more quickly - this is what I used for the cake pops which I will list the procedure for next.
5.) Chill the cake balls in the freezer for a few minutes until they are slightly firm, but not frozen.
6.) Place foil candy cups in mini cupcake pan.
Technically the baking pan is not necessary since you won't be doing any more baking but it did help hold the cups in place so if you have one or something similar I do suggest using it for this step.
7.) Melt cocoa candy melts per directions on package. Pour chocolate into candy cups - approximately 1.5 tsp. Each dozen took about 50 chocolates. Yes, I counted. Allow chocolate to firm up for about 2 minutes so it creates a base at the bottom of each candy cup.
8.) Gently push cake balls in center of chocolate so that chocolate flows up the sides to the top of the edge without overflowing. Only melt a few pieces of melts at a time because they starts to thicken as they cool. Place tray in freezer for about 3 minutes to firm up. Remove from tray and place on wax paper.
9.) Melt lavender candy melts per directions on package. Hold the bottom of the cupcake and either dip the top or use a spoon to swirl on candy melts.
I used a spoon but next time I try I want to get it smoother. If using sprinkles stop every third one to sprinkle before chocolate hardens.
10.) Store in an airtight container and enjoy!

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Cake Pops Process:

***See above steps 1-5***

Now about that teddy bear nose... Once I gave up on the melon baller I rummaged through my cookie cutter and selected a piece of the stackable set indicated below. I found that once I patted down the mixture one teddy bear nose was the perfect size for the cupcake bites. For the cake pops I pressed down a second time letting some of the mixture come out the top and then rolling it into the shape of a ball.

- Melt lavender candy melts per directions on package.
- Dip the tip of your lollipop stick in a little of the melted candy coating and insert about half way into the cake balls.
- Bakerella suggests placing the cake ball into the candy melts by holding the lollipop stick and rotating until covered.
I was quite tired at this point so I just rested the tip in the melts and used a spoon to cover the rest of it. Tap lightly and rotate until the excess chocolate falls off.
- Add sprinkles or otherwise decorate as desired and then place in a styrofoam block to dry.
- Store in an airtight container and enjoy!


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Cupcake Bites and Cake Pops Ingredients List:

1 box Duncan Hines red velvet cake mix

1/2 can Duncan Hines classic vanilla frosting (8 oz.)

1 block cream cheese (8 oz.)

2 14 oz. bags Wilton Candy Melts in light cocoa (recipe will use 200 melts for cupcake bites)

2 14 oz. bags Wilton Candy Melts in lavender (recipe will use 100 melts for cupcake bites and roughly 150 for cake pops)

1 package Wilton silver tone foil candy cups (1 inch diameter)

672 sprinkles (just kidding - I didn't count exactly)


Optional - Mini cupcake pan/s
Optional - 1 small nose cutter from Wilton Stackable Teddy Bear cookie cutter set

Serving size: 1 cake pop or 2 cupcake bites
Makes 48 cupcake bites and 24 cake pops for a total of 48 servings






























Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mother's Day

We used to mostly visit City Park just for Celebration in the Oaks and Storyland on occasion, but we have gone there a little more often lately and I have to say I am really falling in love with the park, which is why I decided to spend Mother's Day there. Our lunch debacle delayed us, so we didn't do everything I anticipated but it was a wonderful outing. We took a walk on the Arboretum Trail in the Couturie Forest. I am looking forward to spending some time there this coming fall. Afterwards we went to the Sunset Sundays concert in the Botanical Gardens. I had not seen the gardens in daylight previously so I really enjoyed exploring. I took a few pictures of the decorative birdhouses representing different neighborhoods of New Orleans. We also stopped in the train garden and it was nice to be able to look around in there without it being crowded. It was a really lovely weekend overall including the Mother's Day tea at Kyle's school on Friday and celebrating Mother's Day with Kris' family on the northshore Saturday. I received some very nice gifts as well. I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day!