Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010. Hello 2011

Happy New Year's Eve!

"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man." – Benjamin Franklin

My family is busy playing Wii Party followed by the movie Bed knobs and Broomsticks (an annual favorite) then a camp out in the living room floor. I'm sure there will be some chocolate eaten in there somewhere, as there should be.

I hope you all have a fun and safe New Year's Eve followed by a Happy and Healthy 2011. May the next year bring you much Happiness!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cake Pops

My daughter has always been interested in art, drawing and anything crafty. And as with all kids, she loves candy, cake, ice cream and anything sweet. Lately she's been combining these by taking a cake decorating class and wanting to make her own candy and other crafty food. For Christmas I got her a couple of crafty food books and associated tools and accessories. One of those books was Cake Pops by the author.

The basic concept of a cake pop or a cake ball involves mixing crumbled cake with pre-made icing then forming the mixture into small balls and chilling or freezing. After freezing you coat the balls with candy melt coating and then decorate.

The first attempt at making these pops didn't go very well. They fell off the stick into the candy and made a general mess. After trying unsuccessfully to make a few, I put the balls back into the freezer to harden up more before trying again. It turns out that for me, a frozen cake ball works much better than a chilled one. Secondly, found that trying to dip the balls into the candy coating also usually resulted in the balls falling off of the stick into the candy. So I improvised by spooning the coating over the balls instead of dipping. That worked much better.

The rest of the project is pure decoration and imagination. Finding the perfect sprinkle to mimic a monkey ear or a chick's foot is all part of the fun. The book gives you a ton of ideas, but I think coming up with our own will be something we try to do as we make more of these. It was a lot of fun once we figured out the technique that worked best for us. And we'll definitely be making more of these in the future!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Well, I'm happy to say that this year I finished all of my Christmas shopping, mailing and wrapping a good 2 week before Christmas! But to clarify that, I don't have that many people on my Christmas list. I don't believe in giving people useless things just to have things to give, and most of the people on my Christmas list buy what they want when they want it rather than waiting until Christmas. My adult family members have known for years exactly what they will be getting from me for Christmas. I always make a photo calendar for each person and send it with several prints of photos of my kids and family. I try to get this calendar put together by the end of November and mailed by the first week or so of December. We also make donations to a few of our favorite charities in honor of our family members. Our current favorites are Habitat for Humanity and Heifer International.

So really, my shopping is reserved for the children in my family (my kids and nieces), my hubby and donations to toy drives. I've found that using to organize my shopping ideas works great for me. I search the site and put my ideas into my shopping cart. They'll sit there for a bit while I do more research or think about the items some more. I usually don't buy everything from Amazon, but the shopping cart is a great way to organize my ideas in one place while I look at other places for better prices or better items. This year I was lucky enough to find a Mamapedia Sweet Deal for $100 of AmazonFresh for $50. Turns out Amazon fresh has a lot of the items I was planning to buy from Amazon for the kids. So I got some groceries and some Christmas gifts delivered to my door the next day for half off!

I also, don't really wrap presents. I know the wrapping is a big part of Christmas for a lot of people, but I just can't stand to think of all of the paper waste that results from wrapping everything. So I use reusable cloth bags for our presents. A few years ago I bought some really nice bags from a friend, then found a few more on sale at Joann's after Christmas. If we use all of those and still have presents to wrap, I grab a few pillow cases from the closet, tie some ribbon or a tie around the top of them and we're set! Stocking stuffers still get wrapped in tissue paper, but I guess for now that's good enough.

So all in all, I don't really have a lot to do for Christmas. So it's not too surprising that I've already done it all. But I am really enjoying just sitting back and relaxing for these 2 weeks knowing I'm going to be able to go do fun things with the kids while they are on break and not rushing around to finish Christmas preparations. Merry Christmas to you all!

Did we DS or not?

Well the DS or not discussion lasted a while, but in the end I took the advice of one of my friends who commented on the original post. I asked the kids if they wanted a new electronic device enough to spend their own money to buy it. Both kids have really never spent much of their birthday or Christmas money from grandparents. It's just been sitting in their piggy bank for the last several years. I think they still don't have much of a concept of money and consequently haven't asked to spend it. So when they went to count what they had, both kids had enough (along with a $30 Fred Meyer coupon that was in the paper) to buy the device they wanted.

Son has been a big Nintendo fan for a while and loves Mario and company. So his choice was the new 25th anniversary DSi that comes with a Mario Cart game. After I explained the different devices out there right now, Daughter chose an iPod Touch. I downloaded a bunch of free games and apps for her, and she's in heaven. I think she would have gotten bored with the DS sooner than the iPod, and I think son would have dropped an iPod touch and broken it on day one. So both made good choices for them. And I think having them use their own money was the correct choice as well. I'm still not sure they have a grasp of the concept of money, but I think they felt some pride in being able to use money they've saved to buy something they wanted.


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