Just call me Susie Homemaker

Because not only am I a Stay-at-Home mom, I'm also a connoisseur at whipping up homemade delicacies. (feel free to gag at the pompous nature of that statement)

Here are some imitation 'goldfish':

I used this recipe - worked like a charm. But next time (cough, cough - this week) I'll make the crackers much bigger. I made them small so they'd be easy for Eva to pop in her mouth, but I'd rather save time on cutting, rolling, cooling, REPEAT and just break apart crackers when it's time to eat. If you're wondering how I made little round ones, I popped off the 'horn' of my turkey baster and used that end to cut out the dough ;)

After a couple rounds of CRCR (cutting, rolling, cooling, REPEAT) I just started cutting random triangles just so I could be DONE! But the little buggers were good. And relatively easy. Hence why I plan to torture myself bake these again.

Then I ventured into the land of graham crackers using this guide. Sorry, no pics - graham crackers enter this home and are soon nothing but a memory thanks to me Eva's love for them. After making the goldfish, these were cake, because you don't have to cut as much. I'm going to make some more this week, but only because I got lazy and left the last of the dough in the fridge, so really, it just needs to be popped in the oven. Next time I make it though, I'll use a different recipe OR will use the recommended ingredients. I used unbleached flour instead of whole wheat pastry flour, and light brown sugar instead of dark. But I also think the honey was somewhat overwhelming, so I'm going to probably use a recipe that contains molasses instead. 

In the midst of cracker heaven, I attempted this fro-yo recipe twice. And I will never try it again.

I will mention first of all, that I have made homemade ice cream several times before. My dad bought a homemade ice cream maker back when I was in high school. During the summer months, I'd make the base, he'd set up the ice cream maker, and together we made our family and friends very happy ;) Fast forward a few years and I got an electric Cuisinart ice cream maker (highly recommend!!!) And I've used it several times in the past to make ice cream and frozen drinks with no problem.

I think the first batch was ruined because the gelatin and sugar did not adequately dissolve into the milk - which meant that when I mixed in the yogurt and vanilla, it was all lumpy. I thought maybe the paddle in the ice cream maker would fix it. I was wrong. The texture and taste was OFF, to put it mildly. 

So I strictly follow the instructions for batch #2. I put it in the fridge to chill for a bit. I take it out to put it in the ice cream maker - it's the consistency of jello/thick pudding. Which meant that the gelatin had set! Again, I thought maybe the ice cream maker could fix this, and yet again I was wrong. The texture was okay, but the taste was still off.

The only thing I can think of if I were to try this again (and I'm not) is to use high quality yogurt, maybe even organic and to NOT chill the mixture before putting it in the ice cream maker. But I'm sorry Tom, I gave you a try and you let me down, horribly.

Oh, and I guess I'll add that last week I made the infamous Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls.

First of all, if you have not heard of the Pioneer Woman, can I ask the color of the rock that you have been under these past few years? Please check out her website now. No really, NOW.

Now that you've perused her site (you have perused her site, right?) don't you agree that it's just the bee's knees? (by the way, who came up with that expression? I've used it lots before but I'm now wondering what the heck is the origin...) I recommend that if you have all the ingredients for her cinnamon rolls (which you probably do) that you stop what you're doing and make them. Right now, the knowledge that I have another batch in the freezer that simply needs to be reheated and frosted is hurting my soul. 

That is all for now - I must go channel some June Cleaver at once!


Y3W | My new baby!

The past week I've spent countless hours on my computer. Because this is what I've been working on:

My new event-planning business! I'm so excited about it! Even though I have two business degrees, there's still a lot for me to learn 'on-the-job'. So I'm asking my followers (even those of you who anonymously follow!) please check out the website and follow 5-9 Events on facebook.

Much prayer and good vibes requested on this new endeavor!!!

P.S. I have to say thank you to my graphic designer, Desi Design, for my great new logo. Check out her great work here!


Eva's Birthday Party - part three

Soo, this is the last post recapping Eva's party. Visit part one to see the theme and decor, and part two for the food and desserts. This one is all about the activities and other pics from the party. Enjoy!

First up are some of the photos from our pre-party photoshoot. Eva refused to nap that day, so we had a mildly cranky baby on our hands. Mr. Binky was always within arms reach.

I love this picture of her!

She looks so innocent here, hahaha.

I had a few activities planned for the kids. When they first walked in, I had a coloring station setup for the kids to color and create a book for Eva. I got the idea here.

As you can see, there is sheet music fabric on the coloring station. I got this from the fabric scrap bins at Hobby Lobby for about a dollar - the same place I found the fabric backdrp for Eva's monthly photos.

Next we played a quick game of musical chairs. There were only 4 kids in attendance, two were too shy to play and our only boy was off playing somewhere else. Ah well. With kids, you have to be prepared to change plans. Plus, the party was only 2 hours so there wasn't a need to fill every minute with activities.

After we ate, I gave the kids a shot at the pinata. At this point it had started raining, so I was thankful I could just hold it and let them pull the strings, instead of the old-school 'beat-it-with-a-bat' technique.

Ahhh, candy!!!

Singing to the birthday girl!

I'm not sure about this cake thing, mom

She loved playing in it. Eating it - not so much. And she had the same reaction on her actual birthday two days later.

The after-effects:

All of her presents! Very spoiled girl!

Ready to dig in and open gifts...

Happy baby!

Playing outside

All in all it was a great day and fun was had by everyone. Now the only struggle is refraining from planning her 2nd birthday party ;)


Sorry for the cliffhanger! Eva's Birthday Party - part two

So it's been over 2 weeks since I posted part one of Eva's party pics. My apologies! I definitely did not intend to have that big a gap between parts one and two. If you missed the first one, check it out here.

This post is all about the food and dessert tables. I purposely had the party in between lunch and dinner, so guests wouldn't expect a meal. I kept the food simple to cut down costs, minimize any 'day-of' prep and because after all, it was a party for a baby. I wanted the food to stay with the theme, so I named everything accordingly. 

Here's a photo of the full food table:

I got a deli tray from the grocery store, and used two-toned bread to resemble a piano. 

Here's another shot of the 'Keys to a great sandwich':

I got honeydew, canteloupe and watermelon from a local farmer's market. It was so stinking good. This picture makes my mouth water for more. Anyhoo, I used a melon baller to cut the fruit up and called it 'Whole Note fruit salad':

Chips and dip were simply 'cymbals':

And had to have Chicken 'Drumsticks' to round out the meal:

The food label cards that I used were courtesy of Hostess with the Mostess. I had intended to also use the patterned paper printable, but in the end it was cheaper (and easier) to use the scrapbook paper I found at Hobby Lobby. LOVE her website, it gave me lots of inspiration!

Here is the beverage station. I found the yellow straw holder and purple/white straws at Michael's in the dollar bin. A plus about selecting a theme and color scheme early means that you can buy random things you find ahead of time, instead of getting all the party supplies those last couple weeks prior.

I made custom labels by using the label setting in Word, and printing them out on sticker paper. There are actually waterproof bottle labels you can buy and print on your home computer, but they're not available in most stores. I looked them up online and it wasn't worth the cost or hassle to me. So I left the water room temperature - otherwise the condensation would have ruined the labels!

I had a recipe for this lemonade punch, but we were running a little behind before the party-goers arrived, so everything just got dumped in there - very unscientific! I do remember that it included powdered lemonade mix, pineapple juice, lemon-lime soda and water. It turned out pretty good!

On to the dessert table!

Another view:

I had actually made this candy dish while in Texas at a military spouse activity. I specifically chose this color because not only could I use it at the party, but it matched some of my home decor.

Eva's smash cake was simply yellow cake with buttercream frosting. I wasn't worried about the sugar content, because most babies hardly eat their smash cakes, and even if she did, it's only one day. Everything in moderation!

The 'stand' for her cake is actually a little basket with a ribbon handle. I found it at Target in the $1 bins! It matched her sparkly crown perfectly!

I made the cupcakes as well. If you look closely, you'll notice the cupcake wrappers matched the corresponding frosting color.

White chocolate-covered oreos, courtesy of Sweeties by Kim. I have to add that I won these through a contest on The White Library, but Kim still treated me like a regular paying customer - great service!

Chocolate cake pops - so good! I should add that I used one box of chocolate cake mix for the cupcakes and cake pops, and one box of yellow cake mix for the cupcakes and smash cake. I doubled my buttercream frosting recipe, but didn't need to. So doing these myself was very economical!
In the next party post, I'll cover the activities and of course include pics of the birthday girl!


13 months old

Soooo, apparently I have a 13 month old child. When did this happen? I'm trying to understand that.

Anyhoo, I intended on continuing the monthly photo shoots, complete with the custom stickers. However, those 'good intentions' got lost in the shuffle, a.k.a. our big move. BUT, by happenstance I did snap some photos of the little diva on June 9, so they will have to suffice.

I probably should preface these photos by noting that she was playing 'peek-a-boo' with her Grandma ;)

What is Ms. Eva up to these days? Any and EVERYthing.
  • She is officially walking, almost running. She took her first independent steps about 5 days after her birthday and 7-10 days later she had pretty much abandoned the whole 'crawling' thing. Because that is for babies. Which she is not. Sigh.
  • Still gabbing away all the time. Sometimes I think she says coherent words. Then I think I just strain to hear things and she's not saying what I think at all. She consistently says mama and dada, sometimes bye-bye. Eva does attempt to repeat things we say to her - most of the times unsuccessfully, but it doesn't stop her from trying! I do have to add one word that me, my mom and my husband have all heard at least a couple times. The 'n' word. Which baffles us, because none of us use that word at all. We don't watch music videos. My husband does listen to rap, but usually in his car without us or on his computer with his earphones in. So that's why I tell myself, she's not really saying that word because quite honestly - where would she have heard it? But then she'll genuinely look me in the eye and call me '*igga'. I guess Eva needs street cred at an early age.
  • The milk thing. I'm reminding myself now that I need to create a post dedicated to that struggle process.
  • Loves to play with anything that is NOT a toy. Which results in lots of 'no', 'stop that', 'put that down', 'don't eat that', 'leave that alone'...you get the idea. Toddlerhood is fun.
  • In a related subject, she definitely understands most of our directives. Which is why I find it hilarious when I ask her to give me something and she runs away from me (while giggling). I can tell she will be such a PEACH when she hits the teen years.
  • Went swimming in a pool for the second and third times this past week and was in seventh heaven. We could tell within her first couple months that she loved the outdoors. She'd be extremely cranky and then we'd take her over to our patio doors and just the sight of the trees would calm her down. She continues to love walks with momma, and just being outdoors in general. So her new-found love of the pool is no surprise, really. 
  • She's pretty much sleeping through the night. I never really posted about her sleep patterns, but with all the discombobulation in our lives over the past 5-6 months, it's understandable that she's been all over the place. Lately, she's been going to bed around 8:30-9, waking up between 6-7 to nurse, then she'll sleep for a couple more hours until she's up for the day. And she's pretty solidly on one long nap. Which is awesome. Because for months she took two crappy 20-30 minute naps, which left momma very little 'down time' during the day. So I'm loving that she'll now sleep for 1.5-2 hours midday. HAL-LE-LU-JAH!
  • Eva still only has her two front bottom teeth. I have seen no signs of teething since she got them around 7 months. At her 9 month checkup the doctor thought she'd have a couple more break through soon. Well, I wouldn't use him as a resource when setting up my March Madness bracket, because clearly his prediction meter is broken.
Now that the move is over, I'm glad we're in Virginia, because there is just sooooo much to do here. And a lot of free activities. So I'm looking forward to exploring with the little miss this summer, especially now that she's older and mobile - and basically a mini-person!


    On a Home-made Kick

    Long before I quit working, I had started tinkering with making more things from scratch. One, to save money on buying things I could make myself, and also to reduce the amount of processed foods in my family's diet. Now I make my own pancake mix, taco seasoning, pizza dough and ice cream, among other things. I have to add that convenience is a big thing for me. If something is too much work, to me it's not worth the cost savings - my time is just as valuable. So I tell people that I make my pancakes from scratch and they're like 'Oh, that's too much work!' Soooo, is putting flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a canister really too much work? Because I mix that ahead of time, and then add the eggs, milk and oil when I cook them - just as you would do with store-bought mix.

    This doesn't mean that I make EVERYTHING from scratch or that we avoid ALL processed foods. But I certainly try. And also, I usually make a big batch of whatever it is, so it lasts awhile, and I'm not going through the hassle of making it from scratch every time. This week I'm planning to make the following: ice cream, frozen yogurt (for me, the hubs will get the ice cream) cheese crackers, and graham crackers. Now that Eva is 90% on table food (she's still nursing - another post on that soon) I'm looking for easy snacks that require little-zero prep. However, I want to avoid all the overprocessed crap that they sell for babies/toddlers. So the goldfish and graham cracker recipes are new to me, I'm hoping they work out well and become part of my repertoire.

    While perusing the interwebz, I also stumbled across some delicious looking baked goods like these chocolate chip cookies, oreo fudge brownies, and s'mores mini cakes. But I have deviated greatly from my 'healthy lifestyle' while packing, loading, driving cross country, unloading, unpacking and settling the new apartment over these past couple weeks. So these sinful desserts will have to wait. Soon, my pretties - soon, I will test out your decadance!


    Y3W | Dream Big Dreams

    My high school was a near-dynasty when it came to two sports: softball and wrestling. In the eighties and early nineties our softball team won several state titles. While I was a student, we usually sent 2-4 guys to compete for state titles in wrestling each year.

    Every fall, winter and spring, the athletic teams sold school-spirit apparel to raise money for their respective sport. On e particular year the wrestling team sold shirts with the letters DBD on the front. On the back it read 'Dream Big Dreams' (actually the front said DBD squared and the back read 'Dream Big Dreams, Don't Back Down' - but you get the point)

    This post is all about my 'big dreams'. Now these are different than my life goals, which can be found here. I'm talking about things you occasionally fantasize about, but don't give real thought into. If they happen-great! If not, no big deal.

    • Go to school to become a pastry chef. I LOVE baking. And I enjoy taking the extra steps to make my baked goods look good as well. Sometimes I fancy what it would be like to attend Le Cordon Bleu or some other froo-froo school. This may still be a second career option...someday.
    • Become a certified personal trainer. I like taking group exercise classes. And I like to think I'm pretty good at speaking in public. If I became a personal trainer, I'd HAVE to go the gym and my days of making excuses would be over.
    • Travel throughout the Mediterranean. And I don't just mean the tourist destinations. Like, I would love to also see the countryside in Spain, Greece, Turkey and Italy. This is a big dream because of 1. cost and 2. I don't know who would come with me. My husband likes traveling, but only where 'people speak English' and I don't know who else would be willing to be adventurous with me in this venture. Either way, I definitely want to visit that area of the world, even if it means I only hit the tourist stops...
    That's it for now. I may add on to this post as more random big dreams come to me ;)