Monthly Archives: July 2011

Prayer Bracelets

Last week, while attending a family camp, I learned of this prayer bracelet idea.  A mom of six boys explained that she has one for each of her sons and she wears them on days that she knows they will need a little extra prayer.  I can’t imagine that she would wear all six on any given day, but she mentioned wearing one or two at a time.

I really liked the idea and wanted to get some for my girls.  When we got home from camp we looked at several stores, but couldn’t find anything that we liked and could afford.  I started looking on Etsy and found some that I really liked, but then had the idea that I should just make my own.  This is the dangerous part of Etsy for me.  I am not in danger of spending money on the things that I like, but I am in danger of finding new hobbies.  After about four trips to Michael’s we had the right supplies and I put together my prayer bracelets.

The girls wanted charms with their initials and each picked out their own colored beads.  Now when they see me wearing them they will know that I am thinking of them and praying for whatever they have going on that day.  And you can bet that I will be wearing them both on the first day of school.

Back to School Shopping

I love the idea of brand new school supplies.  There is just something exciting about opening a fresh box of crayons, having markers that work and a stack of blank notebooks.  It means a fresh start and hope for organization and a great school year.

Unfortunately, the first public school we tried with Emma sucked the joy out of this experience.  The supply list was so long.  It included all of the standard stuff plus everything that the teacher was going to need for the year, but the school could not afford to supply.  They even used a check list to make sure that each child donated every item on the list.  Including cash donations for certain items that the teacher would be purchasing for us.  We ended up spending a ton of money and sending our little kindergartener off to school with about twenty pounds worth of supplies.  It was a sad sight.  I understand that the public schools are short on funding.  I know what it is like to live on a teacher’s salary and have to pay out of pocket for classroom supplies, but there has to be a better way!

This year we are trying a new school for both of  our girls.  The kindergarten supply list came in the mail and I was nervous to read it.  However, this school takes a completely different approach to the supply list.  They actually follow the education code, which states that the school, not the parent, is responsible for supplies that are essential for learning.  Wow!  What a relief.  The letter suggested that I may want to supply a backpack for my child and that the classroom teacher would greatly appreciate donations like pencils, tissues, and baby wipes.  The list was short.  The items are on sale right now and there is no pressure to donate.

We just finished our school supply shopping for the girls.  Many of the items we will keep at home for homework time and the rest will be donated.  I imagine sending the girls to school with their backpacks and a small bag of donation items light enough for them to carry themselves.  Thank you, Campus Canyon, for putting the joy back in the Back to School Shopping experience.  I can get behind this approach and attitude towards donations.  It makes me want to donate the things that the teachers are asking for.

Money Cakes

A unique birthday idea from my family is the money cake.  Coins are wrapped in wax paper and pushed inside of the baked cake.  Each guest gets to keep whatever coins he finds in his slice of cake.  Emma really liked this idea, so she designed her own money cake.  She wanted a sheet cake that looked like a six-dollar bill, since she was turning six.  She also wanted her own portrait in the center.  Emma had her money cake, inside and out.  Most of the kids enjoyed finding money in their cake.

Morgan had other ideas.  She did not like the idea of finding money in her cake.  She helped make the rainbow cupcakes for all of the party guests who shared her aversion to finding money in their food.  Emma liked the idea of having a rainbow arranged over her money cake since that is what you find at the end of a rainbow, right?  It’s funny how many of our birthday traditions revolve around the cake.

Butterfly Cakes

My first butterfly cake was for my grandma’s 96th birthday.  This was the first time that I cut a cake to make its shape rather than using a shaped pan.  I made a two layer round cake, cut the pieces and then rearranged them to look like a butterfly.  The hardest part, aside from making the first cut, was frosting it because there were so many crumbly edges.  The best part is going to the candy store and picking out the pretty candy stick for the body.  And of course eating it!

 

My second butterfly cake was for a baby shower.  It was so much easier the second time and I made some cute flower cupcakes to go with it.  I also made a diaper cake, but I guess that shouldn’t really be part of the baking blog.

 

 

My third butterfly cake was for Emma’s 7th birthday.  For some reason I cut the pieces the wrong way, which is why it looks different from the others.  I was not pleased when I realized what I had done, but now that I look at it compared with the others I actually kind of like it.  We also put together cute butterfly snack made from a plastic baggie of goodies for the wings, a clothes pin body and pipe cleaner antennae.  These were a big hit.   I had to repeat the snack later for Morgan’s preschool class.

 

Princess Cakes

 

 

 

 

 

Having two little girls means having a lot of princess themed birthday parties.  I made this princess cake four times.  I like this cake because it is easy to make and easy to customize.  The girls can tell me exactly what type of dress they want for their princess and I can make it happen.  I also made a very large pink princess castle for Morgan one year.  That was exciting!  I think we are past the princess stage, but it was fun while it lasted.

This section is lacking in comments, so I am going to help you out a bit more.  The reason there are roses behind the second princess cake is because we like to get the girls their birthday flower.  Emma gets roses and Morgan gets daisies.  We used to have a nice florist across the street, which made this tradition fun and easy!  It is harder now that the florist has been replaced by a boutique/salon type of establishment.  We were not pleased.

I am sure some of you have birthday traditions…. *cue crickets*

More birthday Cakes

For Emma’s 2nd birthday we had an Elmo themed party.  That’s her cake in the top left corner of the photo.  This was probably one of the easiest cakes I have made because there is a pan designed specifically for Elmo.  The hard part was making the frosting red.  This may be my only cake that has genuine red frosting.  It just takes way too much food coloring.  For her gift she got to go to Build-A-Bear and make her very own Elmo doll.  It was a fun experience and when she hugs him he says, “Elmo loves you!”

The cutie in the top right corner of the picture is Morgan.  She is my little monkey, so she had a monkey party when she turned two.  The monkey face was made from a bear shaped cake pan.  I baked the cake, then cut the ears off of the top and moved them to the side.  The hard part was adding the details to the face.  I had to ignore the bear indentations from the pan and draw my own monkey details.  The bananas were cut from a round cake and I just piped the details on top.  She also got a trip to Build-A-Bear and made a monkey that says, “Ooh, ooh, ah, ah”

I’m still waiting to hear your birthday traditions… 🙂

First Birthday Tradition

Traditions have always been important to me.  I like to latch on to them and never let go regardless of how annoying that may be to those around me.  I guess I find them comforting and I love passing them on to my girls.  I hope that they love them and pass them on to their families someday too.

The traditional first birthday cake in my family was a 3D teddy bear cake.  My mom made one for me and my brother when we turned one.  So, when my first daughter turned one I decided that she had to have the same cake.  It was my first attempt at cake decorating, so basically I had no idea what I was in for.  This is probably a good thing.  I made the cake at my parents’ house, so my mom could help.  This is also a good thing.

We mixed the cake batter, poured it into the fancy mold, baked, cooled and … the cake fell to pieces!  Unfortunately, we did not start this process in the morning.  I believe we started after dinner.  After the first cake turned into that night’s dessert the panic started to set in.  The second cake was in the oven and I new this was my last chance.  If it fell apart we simply would not have time to make this teddy bear cake for my daughter.  And if you know how I feel about traditions, then you know that this would have surely been the end of the world for me.  I am sure I was near tears and completely stressed when it was time to peel the mold off of the second cake.

I was fortunate that the second cake held together an my mom helped my pipe all those little stars on the bear.  In the end, we had the perfect first birthday cake for our little birthday girl.

 

 

 

 

This teddy bear cake was the beginning of a new hobby for me.  I began decorating cakes for family birthdays and started acquiring a lot of supplies, including all of my mom’s stuff that she wasn’t really using anymore.

When my second daughter was turning one, I was ready to make another teddy bear.  This time I started early in the day, I learned my lesson, but of course the first cake I made held together perfectly.  I made some changes based on the theme of her party and once again had the necessary first birthday cake.

 

 

 

What are your family birthday traditions?  Do you have any special first birthday traditions? I want to hear from you!

 

 

Movie Night

The girls and I decided to have a girls only movie night tonight.  We popped some popcorn on the stove, which was exciting.  Luckily I had a large pot because apparently 1/2 cup of kernels makes a lot of popcorn!  It started popping so I was holding the lid while shaking the pot.  That’s when I started to feel the pressure on the lid.  I was getting nervous, so I took the pot off the heat and slowly lifted the lid.  The girls were very impressed!  We ended up with a perfectly popped pot of popcorn.  How’s that for alliteration?  We each grabbed a bowl: one plain butter, one butter and salt and one butter and cinnamon sugar.

 

Our chick flick for the night… Lemonade Mouth.  I don’t know if it actually qualifies as a chick flick, but it’s what the kids are into right now.  They are learning a clogging routine right now that goes with the last song of the movie.  So, we watched the movie, ate our delicious snack, danced the dance and it’s time for bed.  I would say that our first official movie night was a success.  I promised them that we would make it a once a month event.  I am looking forward to it!

Preschool Artwork

Today we decided to clean out the coat closet in our living room.  The top shelf was full of artwork that my five year old brought home over the course of the last school year.  We pulled it all out and piled it on the floor.  It was rather overwhelming once we unleashed this mess from the closet.  Morgan was excited to see it all again and instantly fell in love with all of it all over again, which of course means we can’t part with a single picture or project.  Luckily she got bored and I was able to sneak away some of it.  I am sure she will never notice.

 

 

 

After much sorting, weeding, cutting, and gluing… this is the finished product!  

We actually have four of these neatly stacked in our now clean coat closet.  Each girl has two from their two years at preschool.  I don’t know if they will keep them forever, but it was my way of saving their work just a little longer.

Homeschooling

I just finished a year and a half of homeschooling with my oldest daughter.  We had a blast doing it, most of the time, and I set up a blog to record our adventures.  At Adventures in Homeschooling, you can read about our journey from start to finish.

I will be writing more about education once the girls go back to school in the fall.  My youngest will be starting kindergarten and my oldest, who isn’t very old, will be starting fourth grade.  I know I will have a lot to say about it come September!