Monday, February 29, 2016

Cake Pops Made Easy... or infinitely more complicated

For Bentley's first birthday, I had the genius idea that making cake pops would be easier than going the cake/cupcake route. Obviously. While they ended up being a ton more work (and time) then expected, they were awesome, tasted amazing and everyone was impressed. We didn't follow any recipe or procedure, just went with the general gist of how we thought they should be made.

You need:

  • Cake mix (and whatever ingredients your cake needs)
  • Frosting (3/4 a can per cake)
  • Lollipop sticks
  • Chocolate chips or melting chocolates 
  • Candy/sprinkles
  • bowls for mixing cake, crumbling cake into, and melting coating in
  • saucepan for the dipping stage
  • baking pans for cakes
  • waxed paper
  • cookie sheets
  • Styrofoam blocks
  • plenty of counter space
  • no place to go for several hours


Step 1: Bake cake(s) as directed on the cake mix box. Or go all fancy and make a cake from scratch if you're going to be all ambitious... though if you're that kind of baker you're probably not looking here for advice. We baked a total of 4 cakes for Bentley's first birthday and turned three of them into cake pops.

Step 2: Crumble the entire cake once it is cool. This is oddly satisfying even though you're essentially just ruined the hard work of baking a cake.



Step 3: Add frosting. We went with about 3/4 of a can of frosting per cake to get the right consistency. Basically you want it to be almost cookie dough-like consistency. You want it to stick together when you roll it. You can mix with a spoon, but I found that the batch that we mixed with hands was easier because we could tell when we had just the right amount of frosting. 


Step 4: Roll into balls. I saw on the internets that some people use a cookie scoop or a melon baller to get just the right size/shape. We're not that fancy around here, so we used an ice cream scoop to get the amount we wanted, then rolled them in our hands until they were semi-roundish. Ours ended up being bigger then most people probably want, but they tasted good and that's all that matters. We put the finished balls on a waxed-paper lined cookie sheet. Once your cake balls are rolled, stick them in the fridge for a couple of hours to set.
We didn't do that with these ones,
and the sticks fell off as we tried to dip,
so we ended up redoing them.

Step 5: Put the stick in. We discovered by trial and error that if you put a little of whatever coating your putting on your pops on the stick before you put it in the ball, it stays a lot better. So we dipped each stick in chocolate chips (for the chocolate ones) or melting chocolate (for the vanilla cakes) and then put them back in the fridge to harden. This made dipping the pops a lot easier.


Step 6: Dip your cake pops. For the chocolate pops, we dipped them in melted chocolate chips and I highly do not recommend this. It was really hard to get the right consistency. It took forever to coat the entire pop, and it was a mess. We did those first and it took us almost 2 hours to dip all of the pops. The blue ones we did with melting chocolate took about 20 minutes. Lesson learned. To dip them, melt your coating of choice in a small bowl over a pot of hot water. I'm sure there's a technical cooking term for this, but it kinda looks like the picture to the left. We also used a grill brush to make the coating even. The ones we didn't do this too ended up uneven and odd-shaped. This does leave little lines on the pops, but we thought they looked kind of cool


Step 6.5: While you are dipping pops, you need to add candy/sprinkles/crumbled cake pieces to the tops of them before they cool. We used m&m's and rainbow sprinkles on ours. Sprinkles were easier because they stayed on by themselves, the m&m's I had push on individually to make sure they stayed on the chocolate and not all over the floor. 




Step 7: Place dipped and candied pops upright in a piece of Styrofoam. Luckily we had some still in the garage from a Christmas present. I've also seen people use an upside down colander for this. Whatever method you use, you want your pops as upright as possible and not touching each other.



Step 8: Refrigerate. Once the coating hardened, we laid ours down upside-down on waxed-paper lined baking sheets, so they would take up less room in the fridge. Since the coating was already hardened, we didn't have to worry about making flat spots on the tops. We left them like that overnight before the party.


Step 9: Display and enjoy. We put ours on styrafoam blocks inside these containers (cups? vases? no idea) so they would stand up right on our lovely cake table. And then we ate them. And people loved them.









 


Sunday, February 28, 2016

For posterity and all

You know you're failing as a mom when your kid's Facebook birthday invite reads "There would have been an actual invitation, but, you know, second child and all". That pretty much sums up poor Bentley's life thus far. Where Fynn had her monthly update posts go up within a day or so of her "birthday" each month... Bentley has not had an update since he was 6 months old. Fynn has a 1st year baby book full of stats, firsts, and pix... Bentley has an empty album tossed in a shoe box with a handful of pix I've actually printed. For posterity sake and before I forget all his milestones, here's a semi-update for each month from 7-11. Hopefully he'll be one of those boys who doesn't care about this crap and I'll be all set.

7 months (9/20/15):

By 7 months B was officially crawling up a storm and impressing people with his mad motor skills since he looked like he was only about 5 months old. He also started cruising along furniture at this point. This was also the month sleep went to crap. As soon as I went back to work at the end of August, he started getting up 4, 5, sometimes 8 times a night. It was not pretty. For me, Bentley was somehow fine with his pathetic amount of sleep and continued to be his happy, smiley, self.


8 months (10/20/15):

B started pulling himself up on everything within his grasp and cruising along furniture which made us all nervous about super early walking potential and the need for many, many baby gates. This month he also said "dada" for the first time when referring to Drew.

9 months (11/20/15): 

Finally got around to saying "Mama" and then didn't stop saying it for about three weeks straight. Sleep hit an all time low as he started sleeping in 45 minute stretches and we desperately grasped for any sleep tips we could find, and boy did we try them all. Through it all, all he wanted was to nurse all night long which was fine and all except that it meant no sleep for me and I became even more of a mess. But this is about Bentley. He was fine. Aside from crying all night if I wasn't holding/nursing him, he was still happy and content with the world. 


10 months (12/20/15):

We tried cry it out for the first time while Drew was on a work trip for a week and I was spending all of my time sobbing about how I couldn't even put my 10 month old down for 15 minutes without him screaming. Joke was on me though because cry it out just meant Bentley cried for an hour, threw up, and I caved because I am weak and because what kind of monster mom lets her kid scream until he pukes just because she wants 20 minutes of sleep? Back to co-sleeping on a mattress on the floor where I resigned myself to hating the rest of my life.


11 months (1/20/16): 

B started walking and went from one to two steps a day to running all over the place in the span of about a week. I honestly think that he was physically able to walk weeks to months before this, but just didn't have any interest, so he kept crawling. We attempted sleep training again, this time with a vengence as Drew was gone 2 out of 4 weeks this month and this mama couldn't handle it all (even with the amazing help of my mom who moved in with us for both week). After the first couple of nights of letting him scream while my heart broke, he finally figured out how to settle and fall asleep. It still took 5-10 minutes of crying/fussing, but he was sleeping for 3-5 hours at a time which was amazing.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fynn-isms

I want to get better at documenting all of the funny things Fynn says, because she constantly cracks us up and .01 people on the internet will be interested. 


While settling in for a snuggle on the couch with a blanket with my college mascot on it. Go Beavers! (No, I couldn't make that up):
Fynn: Wait, Wait, I can't see the fever
Me: The beaver?
Fynn: Yeah, the Bieber 
Me: [shudders at the thought of a blanket with Justin Bieber's face on it]

While watching a Doc McStuffins commercial:
Fynn: I want to have a little sister AND another little brother.
Me: I don't know kid, that's a lot of babies
Fynn: I just want one more then
Drew: No!

In the shower when I gave her some of my body wash
Fynn: You can put it on your butt, mom
Me: Thanks kid.

Talking about tumbling class:
Fynn: I'm a little nervous that you will leave me. Can you stand at the door until I tell you? 

After bringing me a handful of nasty, rotting leaves from the yard at daycare
Fynn: Isn't it nice I gives you my leaf allection? 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tuesday

Yesterday was just one of those days where I felt like it was "go, go, go" from the moment the alarm went off at 5:30 until I went to bed at 10. It wasn't a bad day, just a crazy busy one where I felt wiped, but still had tons to do.

The morning was our usual hectic for the days the kids go to daycare. Bentley slept like crap the night before (the sleep issues is a whole novel in itself), so he was sleeping in our room which meant tiptoeing around to get ready and still having him get up earlier then we wanted. Fynn was a grouch when I turned of her "chine" (aka, white noise machine) and I thought she was going to be a nightmare, but when I went downstairs to get ready, she got up, dressed, brushed her teeth and came down asking for "2 pony tails" which I, of course, obliged. After packing lunches (Drew and me), pump (me), workout gear (me again), winter gear (kids) and bottle (Bentley), we were able to scurry out the door at 6:39, a whole minute early. Go us!

Did my usual one-handed pumping session on the drive to work and got there with 10 minutes to spare before meeting with the new teacher I mentor. I spent those 10 minutes fighting with the copy machine, because c'est la vie of a teacher. Mentor meeting bled into student arrival. Prep period was spent observing the new teacher, followed by pumping. Was late to pick up my kids because I was pumping and didn't realize we had inside recess. Followed that up with lunch duty because what teacher doesn't love scarfing down her own lunch while watching 180+ 3rd-5th graders eating. 

Taught my afternoon classes. Pumped again. Changed and joined my BABS group (which stands for awesome ladies when you make it family-friendly) where we rocked out the Total Body Cardio Fix workout from the 21 Day Fix. By the end we were all soaked with sweat, but feeling pretty awesome. Hauled it out of there to pick up the kids and head home. We got home at 5:45 where I scrambled to get them fed, help Drew bring in groceries, and shower before 6:30 when Bentley NEED to go to bed. Was a little late, so I ended up not getting him down until 7. 

While I was doing that, Drew had to leave for a neighborhood board meeting, so I snuggled with Fynn for 20 minutes while we watch Sophia the First. At 7:30 I got her down, came downstairs washed my pump, picked up the kitchen, worked on a long-overdue blog post, made some dinner for me and Drew, graded 38 pre-and post- reading assessments, ate, and went to bed.

Why did I write all this?

No idea.

You're welcome. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Love UR APparel

Yep, this is sponsored because LURAP sent me this dress in exchange for my review, and I'm not hating it. (The dress or the sponsorship)

If you haven't heard of LURAP before, it's a customized online clothing company with adorable clothes that you can alter to fit your size, shape, and style preferences. They have tons of adorable styles, and I had the hardest time choosing just one to review- ask Drew, I kept handing him the iPad with 20 tabs open of all the options I was considering such as this or this

Clearly Drew is not a fashion photographer
masking as a project manager.
Dress: c/o LURAP
Leggings: D & K via Amazon
Fuzzy socks: always
My co-model... because mommy can't do
anything in this house without friends joining.

















    
Since it's winter and I'm getting into dresses lately, I went with the Star Crossed Jersey Dress. I kept the long sleeves and the original length of the dress after much debate, but I could have changed either which is pretty cool in my opinion. It also gave you a choice of pockets, but I always end up looking super wide in dresses with pockets, so I opted out.
Because my phone is full
 of selfies I never share

I love the color of this dress, and the cowl neckline which makes it just a little different. The fabric is not quite what I was expecting as it was called a jersey dress, so I thought it would be that soft floppy jersey-knit material. It's thicker than that and a little...shiny? I'm not sure what word I want to use, but we'll go with shiny. It's also not nursing/pumping friendly which means I can't wear it to work right now, but I'm hoping soon because I really want to wear it to work with some leggings and tall boots. Also, a note, you may want to order up a size. I ordered up a size larger than my usual, thinking it would be a bit big, but (as you can tell) it's not. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Winter Running Gear (in Maine)

While I'm no running expert, or even all that good at it, I have some serious must-have to make it work for me. Even though it's cold here in Maine, I actually prefer running in winter-mostly because I like wearing extra layers to cover up all my extra layers but also because I'm that masochist that loves the feeling of icy air burning her lungs when running. But only when running. When not running I just complain about how it's too cold here.

Anywho. Here are my Winter Running must haves:
Jacket: Nike
Tech shirt: via 5k race Drew and I did in Nov.
Leggings: c/o YogaOutlet.com
Snuggles: courtesy of avoiding nap time


  1. Layers: Here I'm rocking two sports bras under a tank with a built in bra (damn nursing boobs) under a long-sleeved tech shirt under a running jacket. Yes, you read that right- 5 layers on the upper bod. I don't think I was overdoing it (sidenote: it was 50 degrees during this run yesterday... but the wind chill). On the bottom just my trusty fave yoga leggings I wrote about the other day. I need about 20 pairs of these because I wear them all the time. Oh, and of course some non-matching socks.
2. Sneaks. Obviously. These ones are NOT my favorites. They're Brooks and supposed to be super supportive and comfy but I mostly bought them because I liked the color accents and that was a mistake. They're heavier then my last pair of runners, were 3x more expensive and sometimes make my toes go numb. Alas, I spent mucho dinero on them, therefore they stay until they bite the dust.   

3. Funky headphones. I have no idea what this style is called, I just know they're the ear buds with wrap around doo-hickeys that make them actually stay in my ears. No matter what size earbuds (even those ones with multiple size options) I try, they don't stay in when I'm running. I don't now what that says about my ears, but so be it.

4. Jams. Right now Cheerleader hits in just as I'm getting to the crazy, steep, nightmare hills part of my run and it's just the pump up I need to make it up and not end up rolling back down the hill. Other faves right now include Beautiful Drug, Break Up in a Small Town, and Can't Hold Us Down circa '02. I never claimed to have good taste in music.

5. Fitbit Surge- Best Christmas gift ever from Mom and Dad. This bad boy tracks my daily steps, sleep patters (which are depressingly abysmal) and, better yet, GPS tracks my runs to tell me time, distance, speed, elevation, and probably a bunch of other stuff I haven't figured out yet. Basically it's the bees knees of running gear and I'm obsessed. 


Apart from the multiple layers, nothing on my list is really specific to cold-weather running, but all if it gives me the warm and fuzzies as I'm huffing, puffing, and blowing myself away with my speedy athleticism. Or not. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

3 Faves

These are a few of my favorite things (tell me you just sang that? Just me?)

1) Corn Bags- A student gave me these two creepy-adorable corn bags and I've only ever used them when achy and ill, but the other night Drew warmed them up and brought them to bed and oh my cozy amazingness. They make the whole bed warm and are awesome to snuggle or rub cold toes on (way better then Drew's legs), so now we pop them in the microwave every night before bed. We forgot to one night and were both super bummed and chilly... though not enough so to haul our lazy butts out of bed to get them



Sweater: Old Navy
Leggings: c/o YogaOutlet.com
Baby: Homemade 
2) Leggings- I know I'm not alone in this obsession, but I wear leggings pretty much every second I'm not at work. I've probably got about 20 pairs right now and constantly feel like I need more, so this week after much research on "best leggings on Amazon" and "cheap leggings that are amazing" I found these bad boys that sounded too good to be true. At $30 for 6 pairs I couldn't pass them up so I clicked a little Amazon Prime and anxiously awaited their arrival 2 days later. They're not as amazing as I had hoped (nothing compares to my Marika Tek leggings I got 2 years ago. Which I sadly can't find anymore despite searching everywhere). 
Sweater: Still Old Navy
Leggings: D & K
Dirty mirror: c/o my 16th birthday 

The description said they're thick enough to wear as pants and while I'm not 100% on board with the leggings-as-pants trend I totally do it all the time. They're not quite thick enough to wear sans-butt-covering-top, but they are the most amazingly comfortable leggings I've ever worn and the waistband is incredibly soft and forgiving (read: no muffin top). For $5 a pair, I can't complain, but if you know other cheapies that are more amazing I can try, let me know... or if you've found my beloved Marika Teks hiding out there on me.






3) Facewash- I'm constantly on the look out for a facewash that doesn't dry out my super-sensitive skin and maybe helps with the redness I seem to constantly sport. This may be it. Brandbacker sent me Oz Naturals Ocean Minerals Facial Cleanser to review. I was unsure at first, because days 1-3 it made my skin feel super dry and uncomfortable, but just as I was giving up, day 4 my skin felt awesome. Even better? It's available on Amazon Prime which I'm obsessed with since we signed up in December because I hate paying shipping, but love getting things in 2 days. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Happy Birthday Bentley!

Happy birthday little man. Your first year hasn't been a roller coaster of sleep deprivation, laughter, sweet moments, and headaches. Through it all though, you have remained the happiest little baby I've ever seen. Your mad skills in figuring things out combined with your hilarious personality make you a force to be reckoned with. It's hard to believe an entire year has gone by, but I look forward to what the next year brings.

Love, 
Mama

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Grad School: Check

After 2 1/2 years, I am officially done with grad school! Cue silent happy dance because kids are napping (which spurs a second round of happy dance). 

Tuesday night I submitted my final assignment of my final grad school class and it feels... anti-climatic. Why weren't here confetti cannons or at least a margarita or to celebrate the momentous occasion? Instead there was Drew, whose response was "sweet, now what are you going to do with all your time?" So I headed to Facebook where at least my cyber friends were all "woohoo" and "congrats" for me.


But seriously, what am I going to do? Clean my house? LOL. Spend more time with the kids without being a stressed out witch? Perhaps. Consider what degree I want to work towards next? Potentially. Lie, I've already thought about that... but Drew would kill be if I dove back into school again, so I think I'll take a year or two off from higher ed. 

Now I'm just anxiously awaiting my final grade because I'll be damned if my 4.0 GPA gets destroyed by my last class. Seriously, an A- may ruin the entire grad school experience for me. I've managed to get straight A's in all my classes despite working full time, having 1 and then 2 kids, and the last year of epic sleep deprivation. Sorrynotsorry, I'm an overachiever.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Today my paranoia made me look like a fool... but at least it kept us safe

After a wholesome, nutritious lunch out at "Old McDonald's" with the kids today, we headed out to the parking lot where I noticed one of those sketchy vans that you expect to be loaded down with puppies and candy parked right next to the driver's side of my car. Even better, the back door was propped open by a box and the side door (right next to my car) was ajar.
Just like this

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. I have watched way too many episodes of Criminal Minds and CSI to brush that crap off.





I debated going back into the restaurant and a. waiting out the van driver or b. asking the prepubescent teenager behind the counter to walk me out. But then I went with c. look like a fool by climbing into the passenger seat with both tiny humans (the tiniest of which was strapped on my chest via Tula), locked all the doors, and performed a feat of contortionist gymnastics that would greatly impress even McKayla Maroney in order to get both kids strapped in. Note to self: maybe a minivan would make this easier. Nope, still not happening. 

As we peaced out of the parking lot with two blissfully unaware tinies in the back and sweaty, heart racing Mama in the front, I noticed a guy, sitting in the back of the van, looking just as sketchy as one would expect.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The good days, and the not so good today

Today is one of those days where I'm exhausted and frustrated and wishing to have just 2.freaking.moments to myself. One of those days where being Mom 24/7 seems more daunting then teaching for 8 hours a day. Yesterday? Yesterday I was chomping at the bit for a way to quit my job and stay home with the kids because Oh.Em.Gee was it the best day ever.

That pretty much sums up life with kids. Yesterday we "slept in" (oh how my pre-kids self would gag at the though of 7am being sleeping in), played, painted, cleaned, did laundry, rode bikes (in the house, it was -15 degrees here yesterday), and generally had a blast. Bentley took two perfect naps, Fynn took one that lasted for 3 hours and nap times overlapped for 1 1/2 hours of free-Mama time which I gratefully utilized to watch season 1 of ANTM on Amazon Prime because I could. (sidenote- I never realized just how awful-production wise-season 1 was). You know it was a good day because Fynn watch 20 minutes of tv all day when she's usually a screen-time monster of the insistent variety. 
Bumming it on the couch. All day.

Today Drew's alarm went off at 3:50 so he could go plow. Right as I fell back asleep as he was leaving at 4:30, Bentley woke up... quickly followed by Fynn. I manage to keep them crawling all over me in bed until 5:15 when I gave up and we all got up for the day. No one wants to play today. No one wants to do anything. Fynn is determined to stay in her jammers and watch TV and I just don't have the energy to fight her on it. It's 1:11 and I feel like I've put in a full day of work. I'm just hoping and praying that Bentley sleeps for longer than 15 minutes and that Fynn actually naps.

I'm not holding my breath.



**Update: It's 1:41. Both kids are up and ANGRY. Joy.**
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