Saturday, March 28, 2015

Grey Turns Five

Grey really wanted a Big Hero 6/ Baymax cake. If you've never seen the Disney flick, it's worth the watch, we all really love it! Anyway, Baymax is the lovable "marshmallowy" healthcare helper from that show.

When I asked him (in about January) what he'd like for his cake, he said "Baymax, or Karate Baymax, or the Flying Baymax" - I let him know that we'd only be doing the regular Baymax:-)

So here he is, straight from San Fransokyo!
Cake pops!
Grey requested a red velvet cake for the cake, and for the cake pops? "Green cake, 'cause green is basically my favourite colour" - so I did a vanilla dyed green for the cake pops. They were yummy and adorable!
I made Baymax using 3 cake mixes - 2 barbie dress cake forms (using a whole recipe of cake for each), and then an 8inch round, again, using an entire recipe for that one pan, so it was nice and thick.

I stacked the "Barbie dress" shape on either end, with the round in the middle. It made an egg shaped oval. Then I cut a bit off the bottom of the oval, to make him wider on the bottom than at the neck. This gave him a good and generally realistic Baymax shape. It was actually a tricky cake to make, because of the shape! Lots of "two hands required" moments, and crumb coating that shape was also not the easiest! Also, because of the volume of cake needed to get his shape, he was VERY very heavy, though not very big!!

I made a batch of rice krispie "squares" and formed them instead into arms, legs, and a head. I covered all in fondant, and attached using skewers and toothpicks from the inside of the arm (rice krispie side pressed into the cake).

Because of his weight, I came to realize that he likely wouldn't stand on his legs - but we tried!
 I got him up on his legs, but he needed a little balance. We did this right before eating him, so I didn't bother to clean up the red velvet bottom edge.

It would have been possible - perhaps slightly larger legs, and maybe a few skewers for balance, but he was cute and tasty, that's all that matters!

Grey chose Cookie Crisp for his birthday cereal, and nachos for his birthday meal. We had a nacho/taco "bar" with lots of toppings (corn, beans, peppers, onions etc) and cheeses etc. It was really good!

We invited Uncle Dale and Auntie Noni, and friends, Paul & Abbey (with Vail & Pilar) over for dinner. Here is the birthday song, and Grey, being the typical weirdo/ham. When all attention is on him you never know what he'll do. In this case, sporadically, yet somehow rhythmically lick his cake pop.

 We love our little "mini Brian" - also the class clown. He's a treasure, and a joy - unless he hasn't had a nap, or you wake him up early. Then he's pretty much a bear. We are all his biggest fans, and I think he knows it:-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Jackalope Ben

Grey is about to turn FIVE! I can't even believe it, really. The last five years have been incredible, and fast. Don't even blink, people. Wow.

While he plays great with others, he definitely loves to play alone with "little" toys (busy books, playmobil, small stuffed animals, lego). One of his fave places to play quietly and alone is on the ironing board in my room. I adjust the height to suit him, and he's entertained in his own creativity for hours.
"They're lying down because they're dead"

With a cowboy he named Jackalope Ben. He comes up with great names for all his characters and games:-)

Gallery Wall

I've always wanted a Gallery Wall, but never had the courage to do one. It seems intimidating to place SO MANY things on one wall. But I see them online, and I really like them, so in Dec, I decided to make my own in the dining room. I've added to it since then, and it's pretty much completely full now.
One side of the wall
I basically planned it out on the floor and just basically winged it! I used command hooks for all except the center large (heavy) pic, so there are not nail holes all over the wall, and it's easy to reposition something that is not quite right.
The other side

I recently had these little flat canvases in my stash of craft stuff. I didn't have any ideas for them, and then I thought of making Ireland's flag, because of Brian's Irish heritage. Then I realized I had 5 of this size, and we have 5 countries in our heritage, combined. Brian is American & Irish. I am Canadian, German, Scottish and Irish. Naturally, all our "heritage" flags were really easy to paint, and US and Canada were the most difficult! These are the most recent additions to the gallery wall.

Our mantel is HUGE and I also really love it's "hodge-podgy-ness". One side

Other side.

Guinness - Recipes

Trying to reinforce the Irish side of our heritage to the kids, I like to attempt about one Irish meal per year. LOL :-) Here are recipes for corned beef, and Guinness cupcakes!

For a few years now, I've used Guinness to cook the corned beef in. It's soooo delicious!

Put corned beef in crock pot, and sprinkle with seasoning packet. Add 2 cans of Guinness Draught (14.9 size), and 1/2 an onion and a bunch of garlic cloves, cut in half. You want the liquid to almost cover the meat (smaller size meat might only need 1 can). Cook on low for 9hrs. It's easy, and SOOOO yummy.



Use about a cup or so of the beer "gravy" once the meat is done, to add to the water to cook the cabbage in.

This year also, I bought a 4 pack of the beers to use for the cooking, and kinda wanted to use them up. (I needed 2 for the main corned beef, another 1 for the smaller corned beef we'll use Reuben Loaf), but I had one can left. I found a recipe online for Guinness Chocolate cupcakes. Why not!

Well, they are actually delicious! So if you ever find yourself with an abundance of Guinness on hand that you aren't drinking - well, make a cupcake! They are moist, and the perfect balance of fluffy/dense. We really enjoyed them. The beer scent is obvious in the uncooked batter, but really not detectable by taste once baked. A very nice from scratch chocolate cupcake recipe.

Green, white, and orange, naturally.
GUINNESS CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE WITH BAILEY'S IRISH CREAM FROSTING
1 C unsalted butter (or use salted, and decrease added salt by a bit)
1 C Guinness Draught or Stout
2/3 C dutch processed cocoa powder
1 C brown sugar
1 t salt
2 C all purpose flour
1 C white sugar
1 1/4 t baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 C sour cream

Preheat oven to 350

In a saucepan, heat butter, beer, cocoa and brown sugar, whisking until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temp.

In your mixing bowl, combine salt, flour, white sugar and baking soda. Add the cooled beer mixture and beat on medium for 1 min. Add eggs and sour cream and beat on medium for 2 mins or until smooth.

Divide batter evenly among cupcake cups. Bake for approx 20 mins, or until done. Cool before icing.

ICING RECIPE
** I didn't want to buy real (alcoholic) Bailey's for this, because it uses so little, and I knew I'd probably never use it again - and alcohol is so $$. So I substituted for using Bailey coffee creamer instead. The flavour is probably lighter and less intense than using the real deal as suggested in recipe, but this does make a nice "light irish cream" flavour.
1/2 C  butter
4 C icing (powdered) sugar
1 pinch salt
3 T Irish Cream (Bailey's or Carolan's)*
1 T milk *

*Or substitute approx 4 T Bailey's coffee creamer in place of Irish Cream and Milk

Mix together until sugar is incorporated in the butter and liquid - then beat on high until light and fluffy.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sawyer

Our cats have quirks. I'll have to get some pics of Huck and post his, - he is our prettiest cat, but definitely the most annoying:-)

Our little Soya-bean kind of acts like a dog. He's generally the favourite cat, because well, he's the friendliest. (Kenna took these pics)
However, the niceness does cross over a line, into the range of obnoxiousness from time to time daily
He loves to be petted. Demands it really. He will not leave you alone, and wake you up from a dead sleep to be petted at 2am. The kids do not like this.
If you throw him out of your room and shut the door, he will meow and paw at the door, until you let him back in. Yelling "SAWYER" will make him pause for a minute, and then he's right back to it.
Thankfully though, this is his only fault. He just loves to be with us 24/7. The kids are...kids...so they are fairly crazy with dragging the poor things all over the place, and Huck gets tired of that really fast and likes to hide and sleep for hours, but Sawyer is never more than an arm's length away it seems.

One night he was going crazy at our back door - hissing, angry, aggressive. I turned on the light to the screened in porch to see "Pokemon" (named by my kids) on the porch. He's an old grey fluffy cat that wanders the neighbourhood. Sawyer was not amused by his presence at all.

When our friends bring their new bulldog puppy over, Sawyer stands guard on high alert the whole time. He is very protective of us!

Sawyer and Huck both love to jump in the shower after Brian's gets out in the morning, and lick the curtain and the walls. We love our little Soya-bean!

Kenna's Birthday

Kenna was obviously sick on Saturday, but we had high hopes for Sunday, her actual birthday.

I woke up at 6:30am to the sound of barfing :-( She was thirsty, took a drink, and ten minutes later...
I tried her again in about 30 mins, with the same result. Poor kid. After a bath and a popsicle, she really perked up a bit. She was able to keep down the popsicle, gatorade and 3 crackers by noon. And she started to regain her normal personality and get after the boys for touching her stuff, and wanted to play with her new birthday present - an "American Girl" camping set (It's really Our Generation brand from Target - made to fit all AG dolls etc, and made to fit a normal humans budget:-)

A still sick girl - barf bucket handy - watching her new "grown up movie", Maleficent, all by herself. It's a little scary for the boys still, so it's just for her:-) 

Her secondhand AG doll, Elizabeth, camping in her new tent with her new sleeping bag:-)

Our Generations brand (knock off AG) tea set and camping gear
And then we had an intruder! Someone thought the tent was the perfect little cat house!
Huck, made himself right at home for a little nap beside Elizabeth

Sawyer's turn!
Sunday she got much better after her nap! She kept down lots of gatorade and chicken soup for dinner. She had a few Skype sessions with G&G in Canada and G&G in New York.

Monday morning she felt better!! And hungry! Time to break into that birthday cereal!

We made the best of it, but such a bummer to be sick on your birthday! We are still waiting on a reschedule of our tea party - the family we had invited over is now sick with fevers and coughs (they didn't catch it from us! whew!), so we'll have to see when we can get something done! ...because this week - it's Grey's birthday!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Boron, Moron

I adore jewelry that means something. I am not a super "jewelry person" with all the trending statement pieces and such. I do have a few of those things, but I don't think they suit me as well as my everyday stuff. 'Cause I LOVE my everyday stuff. I first heard of The Vintage Pearl on facebook, I think. I fell in love big time, and at the time couldn't afford to get any of it. I think I waited about a year before I got my first piece. Ooooo! I really just love it! That was a long time ago, and since then, I've got a few more pieces from The Vintage Pearl to add to my collection.
The first necklace I got/bought was the circle with the kids names on it, years ago. This past Christmas, Brent had my name in the exchange and got me the 'scrabble tile' necklace, which is the one this posts story is all about:-)

The b + d was the second necklace I bought from them, and opted for the blue pearl instead of a white one. And the Mothers Necklace is pretty addition to my collection - it works out well for the sake of fashion that my kids are March-May-March for their gemstones. Depending on when kids are born, you could have a pretty eclectic/unattractive Mothers Necklace, haha!

I have this gorgeous silver infinity ring

inscribed with: the best is yet to be
Recently, I was wearing my new Scrabble Tile necklace to church. We work with the Youth Ministry in our church during the sunday school hour.

Girl in Youth Group: Oh, I like your necklace. Boron, right?
Me: uh, Boron?
Girl: Yes, B five, it's Boron, isn't it?
Me: uuuuuh, actually, I wouldn't know. It's supposed to look like a scrabble tile. You know, B for Bolger, and there are 5 of us.
Girl, gives me an extremely unimpressed/you're dumb look: Oh ...and she walks away

So basically, she was MUCH more impressed with me when she thought I had a necklace for my favourite of the elements on the periodic table.

And yes, Boron is B5, I checked up on her.

It's been at least 18 years since the periodic table has even entered my mind. But thanks to her, I think about it all the time now. Well, maybe not the whole table, but my favourite element, anyway:-)