All things motherhood and more!

My son is in Cub Scouts and needed to make a theme cake to bring to the Blue and Gold Banquet for his pack. This is a father and son project to come up with an idea and decorate their cake for this competition. They went over many options to go with the theme of “resourcefulness” like a pocket knife, camp fire, recycling, and a compass. My son chose a compass. Instead of trying to frost and then decorate a cake with frosting tips they decided to try fondant instead. We have a close friend that decorates cakes that advised us to go online and find a recipe for marshmallow fondant because it was really easy.

Although I can follow recipes I always worry about trying something that in my mind is hard, even if someone tells me it is easy. In the spirit of adventure I decided to jump in feet first and make this fondant. It is simply melted marshmallows, a bit of water and a ton of powdered sugar. Using my KitchenAide Mixer with the dough hook made it even more simple! I just added the melted marshmallow and water and began slowly adding the powdered sugar until it reached the consistency I wanted. I then pulled it out and continued kneading it with some additional powdered sugar until it was no longer sticky. Since we decided to do more than one color I did not add the coloring with the initial mixing. I had to separate out the dough into the amounts I needed and then put it back into the mixer one at a time adding the color. I did some additional kneading to make sure all the color was consistent with no streaks. I then wrapped each color in plastic wrap and placed them in the refrigerator as the recipe had stated (I found out later from our friend that refrigeration isn’t necessary if it is wrapped properly and will be used within a few days).

We had already made a cake which we had frozen. This makes it easier when trying to press the fondant on and around the cake. Before starting with the fondant they spread a thin layer of cake frosting on the cake to help the fondant adhere properly. For the fondant they placed it in between two pieces of plastic wrap and used a rolling-pin to roll it out thin. They cut out the pieces they needed for each part and placed them on the cake. Where corners met they were able to mold and pinch them together to make it more seamless. They also made templates for the letters and markings on the top, cut them out and placed them on the top of the cake. It was done in no time!

They had so much fun making this cake and seeing how quickly everything came together we want to do more. I think over spring break and the summer I will make some cupcakes, fondant of different colors, and get small cookie cutters and stencil templates to let my children decorate some cupcakes! We may even become adventurous and do a layered cake together.  LET THEM EAT CAKE!

To see the website for recipe and instructions on this easy marshmallow fondant click HERE.

Have you ever used fondant for your cake decorating?

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Photo Credit: musicnotes.com

My daughter has a singing competition in junior high and has been searching for an “oldies” song that is from the 1980’s and older. First of all I am depressed to hear of songs from the 80’s being considered “oldies” cause that then directly refers to me as an “oldie” too!

My husband and I sat down with her the other day and started playing video’s on YouTube of the best music from the 80’s. Be warned if you ever decide to do this you will lose hours out of your day. We could not turn it off! Each song we would say “this is a good one” or “I love this song”. We would sing along and talk about all the famous groups and singers from that time, the cool music videos, or somewhere we remember hearing a song like a dance or party. We remembered when MTV actually played music video’s all day long. As we watched we would cringed at the different clothing styles in the videos not wanting to admit that was ever in style. Even worse I was trying to forget the memories of the big hair. I swear I was brain washed into doing that and I will stick to that story. I hope I have burned all those photo’s so they cannot be used against me later!

The next day my daughter was again playing music and videos from the 80’s. She said that she loves the music from “our” time and how lucky we were to grow up with such awesome music. After spending hours listening to it the day before I have to agree. There are some great songs throughout all time but the 80’s music will never die. Maybe it is because it was during my teen and young adult years but I like to think we had some music with style!

What are your favorite songs or groups from the 80’s?

Photo Credit: buriedwithchildren.com

I hope I never stop loving my car because I really am spending more and more time in it. Along with the other hats I wear during the day my “taxi driver” hat is being worn a lot! It appears that each year my kids grow older we find additional things that require me to take them here, there and everywhere. I swear that my seat never gets cold because as soon as I get home I am right back out the door to go somewhere else. My kids are only involved in a few school activities, clubs and our church youth group. I don’t know how other parents do it whose kids are involved in many other outside activities.

I really think that car manufacturers could make a mint on the “taxi driver mom’s” if they included a kitchen and laundry room so that we could get more chores done while on the road and waiting in the car rider lines! Technology supplied us with all kinds of entertainment in our cars from radio, navigation systems and DVD systems so why not a microwave and washer? You are probably now thinking that they do make that. They are called motor homes. Believe me I have thought about it!

With gas prices rising it is a fear of mine on how these increasing trips everywhere will play out. I go through almost a whole tank of gas a week and I basically only travel within a 5 mile radius from my home during that week. We certainly want to encourage our children to participate in a variety of activities but I do worry how families can continue to afford all these trips with higher gas prices.

On the flip side I do love the time I can spend talking with my kids and connecting with them. We enjoy singing songs and talking about the day. My car has become the place to catch up with them even more than the dinner table anymore!

How many hours a day do you spend driving your kids?

As a customer service phone agent I have heard all kinds of email addresses. There are however many people reluctant to provide their current email because something they thought what cute or sexy is now embarrassing to say to a complete stranger. Most people will use their name or a nick name. Some even have emails that refer to their favorite hobby like crafts, sports, books, movies, etc. Then there are those who think that “sexyman4u”,”urluvbuddy” or even “grannygrannybobanny” is a great idea until they are providing it to someone they don’t know or even worse in a professional setting such as a job application. Most customers I speak with want their confirmation email or shipping notification for their order so they feel obligated to supply an email address. Usually there is the awkward pause and then they spell it for you like you won’t notice what it is really saying but seriously…..I CAN READ! I do like the customers that own up to it and just say it with pride and have nothing to hide.

My advise is to pick an email address you feel comfortable giving to everyone. You can certainly obtain a separate email address for times you don’t want to give out your main email. Many email providers offer a way to link multiple email addresses together to receive and view them from one main email account. There are hundreds of free email services from G-mail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AIM, and so many more if you search the internet.

This brings me to safety for our children. We have been trying to keep up with our children’s interest in technology and one thing we are big on is their privacy and security. When using the internet and other sites requiring email addresses it would be better to have an email name that does not have your child’s name in it. Have them pick an email address that refers to their favorite book, movie, cartoon character, stuffed animal, nick name, etc. Get them involved in personalizing a fun email name for themselves. If you are like us you may also want to have their password!

What do you think about email address names?

People sometimes just have no clue! In an effort to be conversational or maybe even a show of support often comments are made that just don’t come out right and can offend someone. Nothing could be worse for an already hormonally challenged pregnant woman.

I came across this article on Yahoo that originally appeared on WomensDay.com which had me reflecting on not only my own pregnancies but the times I have witnessed offensive comments being made to others. We certainly cannot control what others say and of course we can find offensive comments being made at any time, to anyone, for any reason! It just seems that those un-welcomed and uncomfortable comments are more common at a time when a woman can be more emotional and insecure. Just because a woman is pregnant does not mean she is ready to listen to other women’s birth stories. Particularly if they were not a good experience! Not every woman wants people touching her belly, especially strangers. During one of my pregnancies I actually had a woman (stranger) in the grocery store ask if she could rub my belly. Uh, NO!

Thankfully I never really got any of these comments because being a sarcastic person I am I probably would have given them an equally rude comment  right back. Here are some I have heard said to others though:

  • “Was this a planned pregnancy?”
  • “You look like your going to pop!”
  • “You really waddle when you walk now!”
  • “You are really swollen!”
  • “Who is the dad?”
  • “Wow, you’re going to have a fat baby!”
  • “It’s about time! We thought you would never have children!”

……………..and the list could go on!

Here is a list of the Top 10 Things Never to Say to a Pregnant Woman as listed in the Yahoo article.

  1. Are you sure your not having twins?
  2. Your so tiny you can barely tell your pregnant! That can’t be healthy.
  3. Are you disappointed it’s not a girl? (or boy)
  4. You’re going to breastfeed, right?
  5. Oh, you’re wide! You’re definitely having a girl!
  6. I was back in my skinny jeans a week after giving birth.
  7. I hope the baby gets your nose!
  8. Did you see the show about the baby with …(insert horrible disease here)…
  9. That must have been a surprise!
  10. Aren’t you too old to have a baby?

Oh if everyone would just think before speaking! Click here to see more of this article on Yahoo.

What comments have you experience during your pregnancy or heard said to someone else that was pregnant?

Cash vs Debit Card?

Photo Credit: budgeting.thenest.com

I thought the introduction of Visa/MasterCard debit cards was genius! I hated carrying around and writing checks, carrying cash or using my credit card for purchases only to have to write a check to pay off that amount from my checking account later. Having quick access to those funds makes my life simpler for certain, but does it also have its drawbacks?

The other day my kids had asked if I had any money and I realized that I usually carry less than $5 in actual cash at any time. I always rely on my debit card. It also got me thinking about experiences in the past that maybe I should have learned a little more about the pros and cons of cash vs debit cards.

First we have been victims of identity theft. Around Christmas one year we found someone had spent almost $1,500 fraudulently from our account. Thankfully the charges were flagged immediately at our bank because they were coming from Canada and not where we live so they shut down our debit card access. This was both good and bad. Certainly no further funds were taken fraudulently however we had no use of our cards for transactions we normally use like gasoline purchases. We had to rely on checks and cash until our new cards came in. We also had automatic payments assigned to those cards which we then had to contact those companies to set up a new payment option. By using our debit cards as much as we did it put us at greater risk of identity theft. Although we still use them we are more cautious about where they are used.

The second thing we learned about debit cards is they mean nothing when you have no power! During Hurricane Ike everything you wanted required cash. Checks were not even accepted because there was no way to verify funds. So even if I had a million dollars in the bank there was no way to access funds. Thankfully many stores and gas stations had power restored within a few days either by the electric company repairs or a power generator. Those few days without any power around town made many people realize how vital an emergency supply of cash is.

The third thing is I have been somewhere and had a purchase that was only a few dollars and without cash I had to use my debit card. Stores are charged a fee for card purchases so I am not doing them any favors by making them pay a fee for my small purchase. If I had a little more cash it would be a better option in those situations.

I am sure there are plenty of other pros and cons of both debit cards and cash. I certainly still like the convenience of the debit card but know that cash cannot disappear completely without effecting our lives at some point!

Which do you prefer to use? Debit Cards or Cash?

Photo Credit:artisanbreadinfive.com

I am a pro at making bricks instead of bread! My family loves homemade bread but even using a bread machine it was not always coming out the best or consistent. I also could not find a recipe that was simple enough to want to do every day. We have been trying to build a food supply and find things that we can , stock up on, store and easily make meals with. This was my dilemma because bread is one food that we felt was important to have as part of our food storage and learn to make it ourselves for times when it was necessary and not just for fun.

We had a friend at church show us an simple to make bread recipe and I couldn’t believe just how easy it is. This Artisan Bread recipe only requires 4 ingredients so anyone wanting to stock up on supplies this would be perfect to add to your food storage. You make it in a large batch and can refrigerate the remainder of the bread to use later in the week. Of course you can always do a 1/2 batch if you prefer. What is fun is you can also experiment with this bread and incorporate just about any flavor combination by adding mix in’s. I have tried Garlic Parmesan, Jalapeno Cheese, Italian Herb, Garlic & Green Onion, and 3 Cheese before but there are so many others you can try if you are creative. It can be fun to let your children help knead in the mix in’s. Although I have never tried it this recipe can be used for pizza dough, rolls and more.

Making the actual mix is also very easy so even first time bread makers can do it. The original prep is just adding and mixing. Then it will sit for about 2 hours to rise. You can then bake some of the bread at that time if you want or put the dough in the refrigerator. This does not require a bread pan but actually bakes on a flat baking sheet. If you have a stone pizza pan those work great too!  For future use during that week you simply pinch off the amount of dough you want and let it sit on the baking sheet for about 1/2 hr until it reaches room temp and it is ready to bake. You don’t even have to take the time to shape it pretty because you can literally just plop it down on the pan and bake it. Let’s be honest too, it can be pretty but it is getting cut and eaten in no time so does it really matter for most occasions? This smells amazing and I promise you will want to make more than one loaf each time.

I am posting a website here for this Artisan Bread that has the recipe, instructions and great step by step photo’s. You do not have to use the brands they list and certainly any large container with a lid will work too so just keep it simple with what you may already have!

Try this recipe and let me know what you think!