Our First Tree

Friday, December 21, 2012

Is everyone ready for Christmas?I know I'm not! 
Where did the last month go, and why are there still so many things to do? 

We did at least manage to get a tree this year. Yay!
 I know that may sound kinda dumb to most of you, but this is our very first tree. Like ever. 
In the 3 years we dated and the four years we've been married, Ant and I have never had a tree. 
And for those of you running the numbers, Yes. Aurelia has never had a Christmas tree either. 
(gosh, why does that make me sound like a bad parent?)

I know Ant thinks I'm kind of a scrooge. (He's still shocked that I've never seen most of the holiday classics like Charlie Brown, It's a Wonderful Life, or even A Christmas Story) I'm not exactly sure when I started to be such a grinch, but we've never actually spent the holidays in our own home so I didn't feel much need to have a tree. Especially one that our cats would just try to eat and knock over while we are gone. So last year we made a deal that we would finally stay home for Christmas, and get our first tree. (It was even one of my resolutions!)


Now Reli certainly seems to like it and tells everyone on the phone that it's her tree, but I'm honestly not convinced. Maybe I haven't been trying hard enough, but we haven't bothered to turn the lights on more than a handful of times, and neither of us can seem to remember to water the darn thing! I'm beginning to think that all these years of apartment living have stolen my Christmas spirit. Am I the only one who feels this way, or is this year just not as Christmas-y as usual? What do you think? Maybe we just need some snow!
What do you do to get your family excited for Christmas?
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Aurelia's My Little Pony Birthday

Thursday, December 6, 2012

*Update* - This cake has become so popular that I felt the need to add a list of some of my
frequently asked questions to help anyone who might want to make a pony cake of their own.

How did you make the rainbow topper? You can find the rainbow tutorial here.
What kind of icing did you use? That's my favorite bakery style icing made with almond flavoring. Yum!
What did you cover the cake with to make it so smooth? The blue and green are simple marshmallow fondant. It's so easy!
What flavor is the cake? I just used a plain white box cake mix and colored it using these directions.

That's it, but if you have any other questions feel free to send me an e-mail.
I love seeing your your versions of this adorable cake!


You may have figured it out from our Halloween costumes (here and here), but My Little Ponies
are kind of a big deal at our house. So I wasn't exactly surprised when Reli asked for them to
be the theme of her 3rd birthday this year. (Way back in October! How late am I at sharing?)

My Little Pony Birthday Party

Anyway, we don't do one of those big fancy parties where everything matches like you see so many of around blog-land. Those parties are adorable, but we usually travel home so that my family can be part of the day too. Plus Reli doesn't have any friends to invite over anyway. I know that sounds terrible, but she doesn't have any cousins yet, and every time we make new friends here in Virginia, they move away. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
(Hi Heather, I'm talking about you! ;D)

But even though it's just for grandparents, we still like to plan something that Reli will enjoy.  
And besides, I REALLY like decorating the cakes! (here's last year)

My Little Pony Birthday Cake

This year was especially fun for me since I was a HUGE My Little Pony fanatic when I was little,
and probably had them as the theme of my first 10 birthdays! The characters may have changed from
back when I played with them, but rainbows and flowers are always part of the MLP deal. 

My Little Pony Rainbow Birthday Cake

I used this tutorial (just the technique not the recipe) to make the inside of the cake a special rainbow surprise, and everyone loved it. Most of the other decorations were made of marshmallow fondant, like the rainbow, river, and large flowers, but obviously not the ponies. I might be good, but I'm not THAT good! Then the grass was just green butter-cream with flower sprinkles, and the white is an amazingly fluffy marshmallow like icing that made the perfect clouds.

Fluffy Cloud Icing
(This recipe was originally posted here, but has been moved. So just in case...)

1 egg white
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla (if you’re using other flavoring start off with a tsp, taste and then add more if necessary)

Combine the egg white with the sugar in a heat proof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan with simmering water (bain-marie) and whisk for 5 minutes. The icing should become thick and glossy. Take off the heat, add the flavoring and coloring (if you’re using any) and whisk for another 2 minutes (5 + 2 minutes = 7 that’s where 7 minute icing name comes from). Ice cupcakes, sprinkle with decorations and leave icing to set. Icing enough for 12 cupcakes.

Girl opening My Little Pony presents

I was super proud of how the cake turned out and would call the party a success...
but that also may have been because of the pony toys. Who knows?

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7 Months

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Chunky man alert!

Right off the bat this month I quit breastfeeding. 
Yup. I'm a quitter! 

I know some of you are shaking your heads thinking "Oh man, you could have made it a year..." and others 
of you are thinking "Wow, That's damn good. Longer than I made it..." Well, I'm sure as heck not judging either group, because I was actually thinking both things when I finally gave up. Ant on the other hand was solidly in the "Great job...now STOP IT!" group. Once those top 2 teeth broke through I kept hearing something about
baby teeth + boobs = blood and pain. (Ain't that the truth!)

I really did want to make it a whole year this time, but I'm also super proud of myself for sticking with it as long as I did. I truly feel that each baby/family/situation is different, and everyone needs to do what works for them. It turns out Corbin (all 20+ pounds of him!) was just too hungry for me to keep up with. Heck, when Reli was born we didn't have a busy toddler running around, and I couldn't make it for 3 months. This was a big improvement!

One of the biggest deals for me this month is that Corbin has been kicked out of our room. He began saying MaMa & DaDa, and is already using it against us. He seems to really know which one of us he is addressing, and would peek through his crib bars at me in the wee hours repeating "mama...MaMa...MAMA!" at ever increasing volumes until I finally got out of bed. The little stinker! 

So now he has been relegated to bunking with Reli, and it could not have been an easier transition. Thank goodness! Aurelia evidently sleeps like the dead and completely ignores any noises Corbin makes before 7 am. If I had known that was the case I would have moved his little tush down the hall ages ago!

Now we're just waiting for this little monster to take his first steps. He has already learned how to pull himself up and cruise around holding on to the furniture, but he hasn't tried letting go just yet. I don't particularly want him to start walking. He is already fast enough to keep me busy, but I'm definitely over the head bonking stage. Maybe I should try to convince him to go back to crawling...all the mobility without the injuries! 
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Apple Streusel Muffins

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

You may have seen this post last week about our trip to the apple orchards which yielded 10 lbs. of golden delicious apples.
What the heck do you do with 10 lbs. of apples?

Apple Streusel Muffin Recipe

Well after I made my dad a batch of apple butter for his birthday, I decided to find something more original than the standard dumplings and pies. (I'm not exactly know for taking the easy road ya know. ; ) Of course these little delights may be no surprise if you were around here last fall and already know about my muffin habit. Last year was all about the Pumpkin Muffins with cream cheese filling that Ant likes so much. Then in the spring Reli begging for the Strawberry Banana Muffins. So now it's my turn.  
Apple Muffins for all!

Apple Muffin Recipe
Use the largest size holes on your grater, or the shreds will just disappear while baking.
Apple Streusel Muffins - makes 12+ 
2 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter - soft
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 heaping tablespoons applesauce
3 large apples - 1 chopped - 2 grated

Streusel Topping - blend with a fork to form crumbles
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the apples into a large bowl and stir in sugars to bring out the juices. Set aside and mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. When the apple mix becomes juicy, stir in the eggs, vanilla and butter. Add the dry ingredient mix and combine thoroughly. Divide into muffin cups and sprinkle with topping. Bake for 20 minutes and Enjoy!

Apple Streusel Muffin Recipe
In case you're wondering, this is what I mean by "Let the apples get juicy."
Obviously I wouldn't be sharing this recipe with you if I didn't think they were good, but these were toddler approved, and beyond delicious. I could. not. stop. eating them, and have made 4 batches in the past 2 months! They also reheat beautifully, so make sure you freeze the extras (if there are any) for a super quick breakfast on those busy mornings. 

Apple Streusel Muffin Recipe

Any suggestions on what my next muffins should be? I've been thinking maybe cinnamon raisin,
but do those even exist or am I making it up?
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