Category Archives: Food

Loads of Cuteness on St. Patrick’s Day!

I just so happened to save Ben’s little t-shirt from the St. Patty’s Day right after he turned one.  As luck would have it (it is St. Patrick’s Day after all), it was the perfect fit (size 12-18 months) for Jude to wear today!  I couldn’t resist putting Jude in the back of the same dump truck and snapping a few pictures.  Love love LOVE the comparison shots…so cute that they are both waving! 


Staff Appreciation.  This year Ben’s preschool implemented a new monthly Staff Appreciation.  Ben’s class was responsible for hosting one day during the month of March…we picked today!  All of the parents signed up to bring lots of yummy “green” treats!  We had such a great time putting this together…everything turned out super cute!  It was a fun way to honor all of the wonderful people who make a difference in the lives of our children each day!  

The Spread.  We served muffins adorned with green shamrocks, cupcakes with green frosting, fruit salad, mini quiches from Panera Bread, munchkins from Dunkin’ Donuts, sweet tea and green punch.  If you’re looking for a green punch recipe check out this one.  I made it for the first time today and it turned out great!  A couple of recommendations…don’t add any of the sugar it calls for (it’s already sweet enough) and add some lime sherbet.  You won’t be disappointed!  A few other favs from the day…the round paper decor hanging from the ceiling, the green flower bouquet and a “pot of gold” for each staff member (little black pots filled with Hershey’s kisses)!!

Leftovers.  While the mommies cleaned up at the end of the day, the kiddos did a little “clean-up” of their own.  They sipped on punch and ate cupcakes, and they enjoyed every. second. of. it!  (I snapped this pic on my phone.  I know, the quality is terrible, but the pic is too cute not to post.  From left to right:  Anabella, Will, Miles, Madison and Ben.)  They are all classmates!  They are also the usual suspects that make it out on all the class play dates so it’s been fun to get to know them and their mommies outside of the classroom.  We love our friends!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Filed under Ben, Co-op preschool, Food, Friends, Holiday, Jude, Orlando

All Aboard!!

Ben turned three years old on February 26th!  We celebrated his special day in the cul-de-sac in front of our house with family and friends and a train to pull us all!  We had a magnificent time!

As the kids boarded the train we handed out engineer hats and whistles!  They got to take them home along with train-shaped rice krispie treats (as seen on the table).  We made the rice krispie treats, cut each one with a train cookie cutter, wrapped them in cellophane bags and tied a ribbon around them.  We even put some of the treats on lollipop sticks and used them as decorations.  They turned out super cute!  We also set up a sand table and train table for the kids to play with when they weren’t riding the train! 

The train was a hit!  It seemed that the adults enjoyed riding it just as much as the kids.  It was actually quite relaxing…I know…a toddler birthday party and “relaxing” typically don’t go together, but seriously, the train was fantastic!  There was a light breeze blowing through the little train windows and the train played music.  It was fun to just sit back and enjoy the company of the other passengers on board!


Some of my favorite things about the party…

The pom poms (as seen hanging above the entrance by the gift table)!  Candice made them by taking ten sheets of tissue paper, folding them accordion style, tying a ribbon around the center and then fluffing them into pom poms. 

The kids’ tables and chairs!  I went back and forth about whether or not to use these cute little tables and chairs and I’m so thankful I did!  I hesitated to even bother setting them up because I didn’t know if the kids would actually sit down to eat, but they did…we used them a lot!  

The train engine!  We also tried to carry the train engine from the invitations throughout the decorations for the party.  The day before the party I started having second thoughts about the pull-apart train cake I had ordered.  It seemed to be a little more cartoon-like than engine-like.  Just hours before the store closed for the evening, I changed the order to red and blue cupcakes.  That night I bought a train engine die-cut craft punch, a circle craft punch, lots of card stock and some lollipop sticks from Micheal’s.  Candice and I spent most of the night (and early morning…try 4 am) making cupcake toppers and finishing up the rest of the decorations.  Thank you, Candice.  I couldn’t have pulled it off without you!  A big thanks to Tim and Jake too…they were very helpful as we instructed them on where to “hang this” and “put that there” while setting up everything outside for the big day!

My most favorite thing about the day…the birthday boy, of course!  Here’s a cute clip of him blowing out his candles!  

Another favorite…the little round revolving metal cake stand Ben’s cupcake is sitting on in the video.  It plays the “Happy Birthday to you” tune.  It was my mom’s and she used to play it at our birthday parties!  Love love LOVE that I get to share it with my kids!

Happy Birthday, Sweet Ben!  We love you!

Since I had so many photos I thought I’d show the rest of the party in a slideshow.  Enjoy!


A little sidenote:  I found most of my inspiration for Ben’s party from these two websites.  Check them out…you will be inspired too!

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Filed under Ben, Birthdays, Family, Food, Friends, Orlando

Big Red and Sue E.

The night before we flew home from Arkansas in December, Jake and I took the boys to their first ever Razorback basketball game at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville!  Opi, Hunter, Tim, Candice, and Laci also joined us and we all had a great time!

Walking from “The Pit” to the arena.  Two of my favorite things about this picture…1.)  Laci, Hunter and Ben holding hands and 2.) Laci’s pig tails…they’re absolutely adorable!!  The kids were all so excited about the big game that they didn’t seem to mind the long, cold walk to the arena.

Finding tickets.  So we didn’t exactly have all the tickets we needed when we arrived at the game.  Ben was eager to help out by proudly displaying four little fingers.  I mean, really, who could turn him down?!?  We quickly found tickets, made our way inside and grabbed our seats just in time for the tip-off! 

Snacking on concession food!  Ben loves popcorn and he and Hunter are sharing a box of it in this pic.  He also munched on nachos and a hot dog!  A couple of times I heard Ben holler out “defense” even when we had the ball and he’d clap anytime anyone on our team or the opposing team scored a basket!

Cheering on our team!  I wasn’t sure how Jude would hold up considering game time was his normal bedtime.  But, in typical Jude fashion he was pretty chilled out and quite content to hang out on Opi’s lap.  (This picture really doesn’t show just how excited he was…he was bouncing, clapping and letting out little squeals for most of the game!)  I’m pretty sure he was in Hog heaven and happy to be out and about with all of us!

And the most anticipated event of the evening…

meeting Sue E.

and Big Red!!


Filed under Arkansas, Ben, Family, Food, Hobbies, Holiday, Jude, Travel

Loving Christmas 2010…A Little Recap

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Filed under Arkansas, Ben, Birthdays, Family, Food, Holiday, Jude, Orlando

A Tale of Two [Christmas] Parties

(I know…I’m posting about Christmas in February…)

Back in December, the Family Events Committee put on the annual holiday party for all the kids in our neighborhood.  The kids sang Christmas carols while they waited for Santa to arrive.   And arrive he did, on a fire truck!!  (Don’t forget to turn up the volume to hear the cute carols!) 

This was Ben’s first official meeting with Santa!  I wasn’t sure if he’d be scared to meet him this year, but as you can see he was very eager to make his way to the front of the crowd!  Before we left for the party I asked Ben what he was going to tell Santa he wanted for Christmas.  “Guido, Luigi, and the Leakless Truck,” he replied.  Forget about even letting Santa sit down, Ben was ready to give him his wish list right away!

There was plenty to do at this party:  a DJ played music for the kids to dance to and he led them in some fun games; craft tables were set up for kids to make Christmas ornaments and decorate sugar cookies; and there was lots of yummy food to eat.  While Ben had fun doing all of these cool things, this window seal overlooking the lake below is where he and a few of his buddies (Kaden, Sophia and Kailyn) enjoyed playing the most while the party boomed on behind them.

And just in case Santa forgot, Ben sat on his lap and reminded him one more time about the things he’d like most for Christmas!  (Is anybody with me on this one or does Santa seem just a bit…odd?  I know he’s missing his glasses and all, but we all felt Santa was just a little, well, strange.  When referring to Santa, I overheard a party goer say, “All he’s missing is his bottle of whiskey!”)

Jude was well into his morning nap when the Christmas party started so when he woke up, Jake brought him up for a visit with Santa.

We managed to get both of the boys to sit together on Santa’s lap for half a second.  I love their cute smiles in this pic (even if Ben is covering most of his mouth with his hands)!

Oh, and did I mention face painting?  Ben chose the tiger design!!  He’s very into tigers these days.  He loves the book Rumble in the Jungle because it has a tiger that goes “Grrr”!  Every time we get to that page Ben pretends to put his finger in the tiger’s mouth and we have to make pretend noises like the tiger is eating his finger.  Funny, that boy!


The day Ben’s preschool let out for Christmas break they put on a small presentation in the corridor right outside their classroom for all the parents.  The older preschool kids put on a much larger Christmas production in the church sanctuary, but since Ben is only in the 2’s class they scale it way back for the little ones.  Ben is considered to be in the “older 2’s” class based on the date of his birthday so that’s his class you see standing up behind the “younger 2’s” class sitting in the chairs.  I should also note that I was only able to record a little (and I mean a little) bit of the actual singing because my camera memory card ended up being full.  Bummer, I know.  I even made sure to clear all the pictures from the card the night before, I guess I just had more video on it than I thought.  The good news is that my friend Steph (the one you’ll see in the video) did get all of it filmed so I hope to get a copy from her and I’ll try to get it posted here at some point!  Anyway, Ben did a great job!  The first song they sang was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star…I love his little twinkling fingers!

After the big show we mingled with Ben’s classmates and their parents while munching on muffins and juice!  Before we left, Ben handed out these little bags of cookies to his classmates… 

…and he delivered boxes of homemade fudge to his teachers, the office staff and security personnel!

This homemade fudge is to die for!  I just so happened to have the Food Network Channel on one lazy Saturday afternoon while Ben napped and Jude played on the floor next to me.  The show Dessert First with Anne Thornton came on and she was making her Fabulous Fudge recipe.  I grabbed a pen and jotted it down while she cooked.  Here it is…you should tuck this one away for next Christmas…it’s yummy and so so so simple!


1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup milk chocolate chips

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pinch of salt

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped walnuts


In sauce pan combine sweetened condensed milk, milk chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Stir to make sure condensed milk coats chocolate chips. Stir in pinch of salt. Put on stove and heat stirring frequently. When melted remove from heat. Add vanilla and walnuts. Stir to coat walnuts. Pour into foil lined pan and smooth out. Let fudge come to room temperature then put in refrigerator for three hours. Remove from pan, cut and serve.  Enjoy!


Filed under Ben, Food, Friends, Holiday, Jude, Orlando

My Heart REVS For You!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ben’s preschool class celebrated Valentine’s Day last Thursday by exchanging cards and small goodie bags.  This year we opted for homemade Valentine’s Day gifts.  We took our inspiration from a car show that Jake and Ben stumbled upon while out running errands one Saturday afternoon.  Jake just so happened to snap some cute shots of Ben standing by various cars and trucks and I thought they’d make great Valentine’s Day cards!  So, I let Ben pick out three of his favorite photos, we printed them, glued them to colored card stock and then wrote some catchy little Valentine’s Day phrases on them. 

Here are the photos and phrases we used… 

“My heart REVS for you!”

“Have a MONSTER sized Valentine’s Day!”

“Glad you DROVE into my life, Valentine!”

A special card just for his teachers…

“You make life SWEET!”  (This is a photo from Ben’s Christmas party in December.  That’s his teacher Mrs. H on the left and the assistant Mrs. B on the right.  We absolutely LOVE them both!  They are really REALLY wonderful!)

Ben decorated the back of each card with Valentine’s stickers and we attached each one to a bag of homemade chocolate dipped pretzels with heart sprinkles.

Ben had so much fun acting as the “sprinkler”.  His philosophy…some for me, some for you.  Each time he sprinkled a chocolate covered pretzel, he sprinkled his mouth!  I got the pretzel inspiration from my sister-in-law.  She made these for Christmas and Ben loved them!  Thanks, Candice!

The finished products!  Ben was really excited to hand these out to his friends!


Filed under Ben, Co-op preschool, Food, Hobbies, Holiday, Orlando, Projects

A Train, The Tree and Thanksgiving with Oma

At the end of November, Oma Leah flew in to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with us!  Since we live on opposite ends of the country, it is always a special treat to be together…especially for the holidays!  Since Jake had to work some while she was here, we made a trip to the mall one afternoon to meet him for lunch and let Ben take a train ride around the first level of the mall with Oma!  (Are you seeing a blog pattern here…Ben and trains!!  Anytime we step foot in the mall Ben will stop, put his hand to his ear and say, “Can you hear that, Mommy?  It’s the train!”)

As we made out the menu for our Thanksgiving dinner the two desserts on the top of the list were pumpkin pie (my favorite) and pecan pie (Jake’s favorite).  Oma made a delicious pumpkin pie “from a recipe in her head.”  A bit of this, a pinch of that and a sprinkle of something else and viola…pumpkin pie goodness.  I’m always impressed when someone can just throw together a recipe from scratch because I’m a follow the recipe exactly kind of girl.  Jake definitely inherited his momma’s fantastic cooking skills because he cooks just like her and everything always turns out a-mazing!  Thank you for my pie, Oma!  I enjoyed. every. bite!  (And, yes, I did share!)  She also had planned to make the pecan pie, but before she had a chance to get it started our nice neighbors (Emerson and Mindy) from down the street pulled up to our front door towing their two boys (Drake and Walker) in a wagon and delivered a pecan pie!  It was a huge pecan pie (pretty sure it would have fed a small country) and it was de-lish.  We were thankful for their thoughtfulness!   

We thought it would also be fun to come up with a dessert Ben could do (almost) all on his own.  What better than chocolate covered marshmallows with sprinkles (of course…he requests sprinkles on everything) on a stick!  We made these for the first time earlier in the year at our Halloween playgroup party so I thought we’d give it another try at home.  It was just as fun and just as yummy the second time around.  We used Wilton Candy Melts (in fall colors) and melted them in glass bowls in the microwave.  To dip them we improvised and used toothpicks since I was out of lollipop sticks.  Once we put all the marshmallows (you can also use brownies cut in small squares, but marshmallows are easier for kids) on toothpicks, we let Ben dip them in chocolate and then the sprinkles.  We set them aside to let the chocolate harden and in no time at all they were ready to eat!  (Another fun tip…if you use the lollipop sticks, once the chocolate hardens you can put them in cellophane bags and tie them with ribbon.  They make great little treats to hand out to friends!)  Super fun, super easy!

On Thanksgiving morning we all worked together to make monkey bread!  You can get the recipe here.  In my opinion this is the best monkey bread recipe ever!!  Thanks for sharing, Sarah!   Once again, I was too caught up in eating to stop and take a picture of the finished product, but you can see pictures of the awesomeness on her blog!  It really does turn out that beautiful!  It’s also another really fun and easy way to get your kids involved in cooking.  Ben loved coating the biscuits in cinnamon sugar by shaking the ziplock bag.  We had no problem devouring the sugary, buttery goodness!  Hmm, once again another post all about food that is making me hungry and I haven’t even gotten to the main course yet!!  

Another team effort…Thanksgiving dinner!  I’ll admit I was a little anxious thinking about how it would all come together.  It’s not too often that we host Thanksgiving at our house.  Minus me dropping a glass jar of baby food that broke into a million teeny tiny pieces in the pantry right as we were putting dinner on the table, everything really did turn out wonderful!  On the menu…fried turkey.  I have to give credit where credit is due and the turkey was all Jake.  “She’s a beaut, Jake!”  The bird not only looked amazing but tasted even better!!  The rest of the menu…mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, bacon wrapped green beans, corn casserole, sweet potato casserole, whole cranberry sauce, rolls and sweet tea.  And as an extra special treat we sipped on sparkling grape juice.  Sparkling grape juice was always a family tradition around our house during the holidays.  It was cute to watch Ben’s eyes get big as he’d take a drink, swallow and then turn to me with a big grin on his face and say, “It’s bubbly!”

Not only was this Thanksgiving extra special because we had Oma to share it with, but it was also Jude’s first Thanksgiving!  While he couldn’t fully participate in eating all of the delectable offerings, he did enjoy some potatoes (both sweet and mashed), green beans and fruit!  And after that savory meal, we were all ready to go into hibernation for the evening!  


Without missing a beat, we were all up the following morning ready, willing and able to perform the duty of finding the perfect Christmas Tree.  Of course there was no one more ready and willing to help out than Ben! 

I had to post this picture because every time I look at it I am reminded that even though we’ve lived in Florida for five years (yes, five!), I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the idea of  warm weather during the holidays.  Nothing says Christmas like t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops!!

Another first for Jude…picking out a Christmas Tree!  And after searching, selecting, shaking and scrutinizing (i.e. checking for holes, fullness, and height), we found the one.  And in Clark Griswold fashion we tied it to the top of our vehicle and headed for home.  

Oma, we are so thankful for you!!  Thank you for coming to visit…we loved having you here!


Filed under Ben, Family, Food, Holiday, Jude, Orlando

O is for Opi

At the beginning of November my dad flew in for a visit.  As a special treat we let Ben stay up late to go to the airport with me to pick him up. Ben was beside himself as he waited for Opi to come down that escalator.  He made sure to hold up the sign the entire time we waited.  Are you wondering about that cute little pumpkin he has for a sidekick?  That’s Fluff.  Yes, Fluff.  Ben picked him out at the pumpkin patch, named him Fluff and they were best buddies until, well, you know.  Fluff slept with Ben (the rule was he had to stay on the nightstand), Fluff rode everywhere in the car with us…he even went grocery shopping a time or two.

We got our man…that’s Opi!


The next morning Opi, Ben, Jude and I were off to visit the Central Florida Zoo.  

A ride on the Little Florida Coast Line Train is always one of the highlights of any zoo visit.  

Another highlight…a ride on the Animal Carousel!

We made our way around the zoo visiting some of our favorite animals like the monkeys, cheetahs, elephant, alligator and snakes.  We also had a brief encounter with this strange little creature.  I can’t remember his name, but the zoo worker had him out so that people could pet him.  Jude thought he was pretty cool.  Ben on the other hand wasn’t at all interested in getting close to this little creature much less pet him.  Of course Opi wasn’t scared either, but I was right there with Ben.  It took a lot of courage for me to pet this guy!!


That evening our babysitter came over to watch the boys while we took Dad out for a special treat (well, really he treated us, but we picked the restaurant)!  Thanks, Dad!!  =)

The restaurant:  Hollerbach’s Willow Tree CafeThe food:  German.  The entertainment:  Two guys singing German songs in German.  The experience:  German Gemuetlichkeit. Gemuetlichkeit is a sense of well-being and happiness that comes from enjoying the company of friends and family while savoring good food and drink.


I’m pretty sure this was one of the most fun dining experiences I’ve had.  The atmosphere in this place is amazing.  It was crowded.  This place is always crowded.  And loud.  Oh yes, we sang and we even did the chicken dance.  And for those of you that know my side of the family, the chicken dance is a big deal.  It is a family tradition…learning how to do the chicken dance was a rite of passage growing up. 

We started with the sausage sampler.  (As you can see we dug right in before I thought to take a picture.  The pictures really don’t do it justice…this food is sooooooo good!)

Next up, schnitzel.  We all had different types of schnitzel and they were all equally good.  I had the Schnitzel Champignon Art, Sauerkraut and Kase Spatzel.  Is your mouth watering yet?


If all that wasn’t enough (and it was…we took a lot to go) we had dessert.  In our defense we were sitting right next to the dessert display.  We’d been staring at it all night.  Just writing this post makes me hungry…anyone up for some German food?


The next morning we traveled to New Symrna Beach for the day.

While most of the country was freezing we were enjoying a gorgeous (yet very windy) day at the beach.

Jude dipped his little toes into the ocean for the first time.  He loved it!

Ben played in the sand with his trucks and worked on a sandcastle with Jake.  (Anytime they’d make a little progress on the sandcastle Ben would bulldoze it down…hence, no picture of a sandcastle.)

We ended a perfectly perfect day with lunch by the boardwalk.  Thanks for a fun visit, Opi!  We love you!


Filed under Beach, Ben, Family, Food, Jude, Orlando


A few things about the video:

  • We started Jude on solids right after he turned six months old.  His first food…rice cereal.  He wasn’t a huge fan, but he’s now enjoying oatmeal very much!
  • He’s a two spoon kind of guy.  The kid loves spoons!  We’ve learned that if we don’t give him one spoon to hold and feed him with another one, he cries.  So, no need to cry through each feeding.  We just give him a spoon and all is well in the world.
  • He is a smacker!  Turn up the volume…it’s pretty cute!

A couple of things about this pic:

  • After introducing rice cereal and oatmeal, we started introducing vegetables…sweet potatoes, squash, carrots and now peas.  He’s not a fan of peas.  I can usually get him to try a few bites before he starts doing a little shiver thing each time he takes another bite, then he just refuses to eat anymore.
  • He’s messy.  We’ve been introducing the new foods at dinner time.  After we’re done, he goes straight into the bathtub! 


Filed under Food, Jude, Orlando

Stalking the Easter Bunny

On Saturday morning we made our way down to the clubhouse for the annual neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt.  Before the hunt began we enjoyed some yummy snacks while talking and playing with friends, neighbors and (drum roll, please) the EASTER BUNNY!  Many of you might remember Ben’s encounter with the Easter Bunny last year.  He wanted nothing to do with that bunny!  This year it was a complete 180.  Ben LOVED the Easter Bunny.  LOVED him!  From the moment Ben spotted him, he followed the bunny around everywhere.  If we wanted to find Ben all we had to do was look for the large furry white mammal with big ears and a fluffy tail and there was our Ben.  We laughed and said that Ben was stalking the Easter Bunny.  I begin to worry that the other kids (and parents) were going to get upset because Ben was literally next to or in the bunny’s face at all times…not really allowing for much face time with the bunny for all of the other kids.  Thankfully, no one seemed to mind a bit and Ben was polite enough to step aside so that others could take pictures with the bunny too!

Ben couldn’t wait for the hunt to begin downstairs on the back lawn.  He kept asking Jake to take him downstairs and Jake kept telling him “no” since it wasn’t time for the hunt to begin.  So what did our sweet boy do?  He asked the Easter Bunny of course…over and over and over again.  “Bunny, go downstairs?”  Thankfully bunnies don’t talk so all he could do was shrug his shoulders at Ben. 

Finally, the much-anticipated hunt began!!  Ben was quite the skilled egg hunter and filled up his entire basket!  This is the best “hunting” picture I got.  The boy was serious about hunting eggs!  If I stopped for a second to talk with someone, Ben (and Jake) were gone.  I actually lost them during the egg hunt for about 30 minutes!! 

Once the hunt was over Ben was ready to check out his loot!  We had stuffed some of the eggs with jellybeans and he was delighted to get to eat them.  He kept asking for “more jellyfish please, Mommy!”  Since the day of the egg hunt, Ben has been carrying his Easter basket full of empty plastic eggs around with him everywhere!  We were playing in his room this afternoon when he stood up and said, “Be right back, Mommy.”  And sure enough he did come right back with his Easter basket full of eggs in tow.  We took them out of the basket, put them back into the basket, opened them, closed them, counted them and named them by color.  I had no idea eggs could be this entertaining! 

Just about every time we drive by the clubhouse now (which is often since we pass by it every time we enter and exit the neighborhood) Ben likes to point at it and say, “Ben hunt Easter eggs right there!”

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Filed under Ben, Food, Friends, Holiday, Orlando