Monday, October 31, 2011

Owen’s Birthday: The Party

Okay, enough about the food, let’s get on with the fun!

There was pumpkin decorating.


And swinging and sliding.



Bri and I looked super cute together in our stripes and aviators.


Then Shannon and the big kids joined us.


Time for presents!  Everyone was very generous and Owen got tons of great stuff.  Per Shannon’s suggestion, we got Owen a bike.  It was a team effort; I bought it, the McHusband put it together.  And Tucker?  Well, he provided the moral support.



While Owen was busy with the last couple of gifts, I got the bike from my car and parked it behind a post.  Shannon manned the camera and caught Owen’s reaction for me.  I think this picture’s worth more than a thousand words.




Owen rides his new bike

A few party details.  My mom and Shannon did a terrific job of using what they had to create the party’s John Deere theme.



At one point, I was leaning over a picnic table refilling my cup with diet Coke.  I felt something on my butt and knew exactly what it was – Owen with his new grabber toy – but I figured Calvin put him up to it.  When I turned around, sure enough, there was Owen, but no Calvin.  What a little stinker!  His Uncle McHusband would be so proud.


I can’t forget about the babies.  Olivia was really good during the party.  She was pretty content to hang out in her stroller so long as someone was with her.



G'ma was really happy to get her hands on Miss Maxie.


Toward the end of the party, Owen came rushing back into the picnic shelter from the playground.  He was heading in my general direction and I decided to take advantage of his momentum and see if I could get a hug.  He jumped right into my arms and gave me the BEST hug as I lifted him up.  I could just tell it came from his heart and even now thinking about it and writing about it, it makes me tear up.  Surely being an aunt is second only to being a parent.

I drove 2.5 hours to Statesville, stayed there for 4 hours, then drove 2.5 hours home.  It was worth every minute in the car to be there that afternoon.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Owen’s Birthday Party: The rest of the sweets

I’m kinda behind with my posts and tonight’s not really going to help because I’m just now, at 10:00, sitting down with my computer, Parenthood on the TV and the McHusband on the couch next to me.

I used my Baking Illustrated to find a tried and true yellow cake recipe for half of Owen’s cupcakes.  I’m not even going to post the recipe because I was disappointed in how they turned out.  Now, it may not have been ALL the recipe’s fault as I think I might’ve overbaked them a touch (I really gotta get an oven thermometer so I can test the temperature), but still the flavor wasn’t as good as I hoped although I did like the texture, which was a little denser than what you get from boxed mixes.

The other half of the cupcakes were chocolate, made with that recipe that doctors up a boxed mix with sour cream, pudding mix, and coffee.  Those have been perfect every time I’ve made them.

I took my swivel cupcake thingie to the party and added my mom’s themed party picks to the cupcakes.



They caught Owen’s eye.  He’s saying, “I want a cupcake.”

Owen wants a cupcake

So of course I had to give him what he wanted.


Once he got a cupcake, Lyla wasn’t far behind.


I also made some white chocolate chip pumpkin cookies, which went over really well.  They had a really good flavor, but I didn’t like the cakey consistency.  I like my cookies crumby – not to be confused with crummy – so these just didn’t work for me.  But it seems I might be the only one who felt that the cookies were less than great because feedback from everyone else was very positive.


I’d left two cookies for the McHusband and by the time I got home that night, he’d eaten those and was hoping I was bringing some leftovers home with me.  But I let Shannon keep the extras.

More on the party coming up!  I also have to catch you up on the two costume-mandatory Halloween parties we went to, not to mention the treats I made for them.  And then there’re my Halloween decorations…  Like I said, I have lots of catching up to do.

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Recipe Recap: Pumpkin Pie Fudge

TGIF!  I don’t know about where you are, but NC’s been having some really nice weather lately – sunny and 70 to 75 or so degrees.  Let’s just say it would seem that Father Time was being REAL good to Mother Nature because she’s been in a terrific mood.

Not today though.  The high’s around 50 degrees and it’s going to be cloudy and/or rainy all day.  But it’s Friday, I’m leaving work early, I’m hosting Women’s Night tonight, and we’ve got a Halloween party tomorrow night so I’ve got lots to look forward to; a little cold rain isn’t going to dampen my spirits.

In honor of the fall weather, here’s some Pumpkin Pie Fudge that I made this past weekend for another Halloween party.  I finally used the candy thermometer that my mom got me for Christmas.


I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to keep whisking the fudge during its 10-minute boil so I didn’t.  But that meant that some of it got burned onto the bottom of the pot and imparted a little of that toasted taste throughout the fudge.  It didn’t ruin the fudge, but I was a little disappointed by my mistake.


Sugarcrafter calls this Maple Pumpkin Fudge, but I didn’t taste the maple syrup.  The spices were fairly strong, but in a good way.  And I loved the bites of white chocolate chips that didn’t melt all the way.


I sent the extra fudge with the McHusband to his office and his boss’s reaction was to tell the McHusband, “You’re fired if you don’t bring me more of this.”  And since we can’t afford for him to be a stay-at-home husband, I guess I’ll be pulling out the candy thermometer again this weekend.


And I’ll try that whisking thing to see if I can avoid my fudge tasting like I left the crust in the oven too long.


Have a great weekend!

{Recipe here}

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Owen’s 3rd Birthday: The Big Cupcake

Shannon asked me if I would make “a few dozen cupcakes” for Owen’s birthday and pleaseprettyplease could I do them with yellow and green frosting to go along with the John Deere theme?  And would it be possible for me to also make a small cake or one of those cupcake cakes?

Did I mention she asked me on Thursday and the party was Saturday?

But I was up to the challenge.  I got some colored gels for dyeing the frosting, and I bought some yellow and white cupcake liners.

Luckily, the McHusband had gone to VIR for the weekend so I had all Friday night to do nothing but bake.  And it’s a good thing because I started as soon as I got home from Walmart, which I hit on my way home from work, and I didn’t finish until just after midnight.


Vickie had one of those cupcake pans from Zachary’s first birthday so I borrowed it for Owen’s special cake.  I used a Funfetti cake mix for this one and saved my from-scratch and sorta-from-scratch baking for the cupcakes.



I cut off the domed parts so that the two halves would sit flush against each other.  Those parts made a cake sandwich that I saved for the McHusband.  Hey, I wasn’t about to throw away perfectly good cake!

So my green frosting wasn’t exactly John Deere green.  Turns out those gel dyes I thought I bought were just gel icings for writing and decorating.  Luckily, we have a few St. Patrick’s Day parties under our belts so I have green food coloring in my cabinet. 

I “glued” the two halves of the Big Kahuna together with frosting then followed along with those perfect swirls to cover the rest of the top in frosting.



Not the prettiest frosting job, but it was almost midnight and I was running out of steam by this time.  I realized later that there was some malt powder blocking my tip and that’s why the frosting was coming out funny.

I had to use my cake carrier to get the oversized confection to Statesville, but it made it safe and sound and found its way to the cake stand I also brought.


Owen didn’t seem to mind the not-John-Deere-Green, less-than-perfect frosting on his cupcake.


Save some calories, more cupcakes and some cookies coming up!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Creature Comforts

Or maybe that should be “comfortable creature.”


I came home from the Y and found Morgan looking way too comfortable on two of the decorative pillows.


She barely looked at me much less got up to greet me.


Sorry to disturb you, Morgan.  As you were…


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kim’s Wedding: Dinner and Dancing

Kim chose to assemble jars of cookie mix and give those out as her favors.  So they were on the tables ready for us when we sat down for dinner.  I designed the tags for Kim, but she and some other friends did the hard work of putting everything together.


Our table was right next to the cake, which worked out great when it was time for the toasts as we had the best seats in the house.



After that, it was time to paaaaaah-tay!

Self-portrait time!


Time to dance!  How low can we go?




The bride joined us on the dance floor.


Heather was the life of the party.


Cliff and Sara were out there, too.


The last picture of the night.  Sandra was an awesome dance partner.


Congratulations, Kim and Greg!  Your wedding was a blast – what a perfect way to begin your married life together.