Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cake balls

Tis the season for sweets, and I recently tried my hand at cake balls for a holiday party (also known as cake pops if you add a stick).  I don't think I would have ever attempted them had I known what I was getting myself into (I am not a baker.  not even a little bit), but after a little a lot of trial and error, I think I've gotten the hang of it well enough to do it again with out quite so many tears.

So, in case you were interested in trying your hand at a little balling this holiday season, here's the cake ball recipe I used with tips/tricks I've thrown in for the baking-challenged.

1 box cake mix (including oil, water, eggs, and anything else necessary to make the cake)
1 jar frosting
1 package bark (candy coating that I found hiding out by the chocolate chips on the baking isle)
  • Mix up the cake mix and bake according to package directions.
  • While the cake is still hot (or at least warm), dump it back into the mixer, and turn it on 'low' (essentially destroying the cake you just baked).
  • Spoon anywhere from half a jar of frosting to a whole jar depending on how 'cakey' you like your balls (I used about 2/3 - 3/4 of a jar).  
  • Let the mixer go until your cake/frosting mix is the consistency of crumbly play-doh (you should see a big ball of dough forming at this point in the bowl).
  • Turn the mixer off, form the dough into a big ball (any residual dough on the outside of the bowl will be hard to work with and essentially wasted if you don't scrape it off and let it join the big party ball happening in the middle).  
  • Cover and chill (I popped it in the freezer for an hour, and that seemed to work fine, but if ice crystals freak you out, try the fridge for a few hours)
  • Using a melon baller or a 2Tbs cookie scoop, make all your dough balls.  I used the cookie scoop to get a consistent sized ball, but would also hand roll each ball to get a nice shape.
  • You want to work pretty quickly because I found the dough harder to work with as it warmed up.  If things get too impossible, toss it back in the fridge or freezer for a while and then return to balling.
  • Once all your dough is balled, freeze the balls over night (4 hours minimum).  I put all my balls into a big tupperware container and separated the layers with wax paper since I don't have room for a cookie sheet in my freezer.
The next part was my biggest challenge since I'd never worked with candy coating before, and you may have your own method, but after ruining TWO entire batches of bark and at least a half dozen cake balls, this is what worked best for me.
  • Working with a half of a package at a time, I would heat the candy coating in a small sauce pan over low heat until melted, then turn the heat off but leave the pot on the warm burner.
  • One dough ball at a time, I'd plop it into the melted bark then use a silicon spatula to spoon the coating over the top two or three times until the ball was completely coated.
  • I used a plastic fork, that I broke the middle two tines off of, to scoop the ball out and move it over to a sheet of wax paper to dry.
  • To get the wet coated ball off the fork with minimal damage, I would set the ball and fork down on the wax paper, place my finger behind the ball (where the tines were broken off), then pull the fork back, while my finger held the ball in place on the wax paper.  That probably makes no sense, but seeing as I'm the only one that will read this, I'll hold off on the youtube video for now and just let you use your imagination.
  • I had a bunch of bark left over, so I drizzled it on top for decoration, and to help hide how lopsided and unevenly coated a few of the balls were.
  • All done with beautiful cake balls that looked a LITTLE like this....
 and this...

(images courtesy of bakerella and the cereal baker)
The combinations are pretty endless with cake mix, frosting and bark, but here are the ones I made:
Lemon: Duncan hines lemon supreme mix, lemon supreme frosting, white bark
Red Velvet: Duncan hines red velvet mix, creme cheese frosting, chocolate bark

And the ones I want to try next...
Carrot Cake: Carrot cake, creme cheese frosting, white bark
German Chocolate: German chocolate cake, coconut pecan frosting, chocolate bark

I have a mom-friend who bakes professionally and her cake ball combinations are insane...french toast with bacon (yes bacon!), churro, candy cane red velvet, margarita, strawberry lime, mexican chocolate and bacardi coconut to name a few.  Yea....I'll stick with my beginner combos for now, but if you live in the Houston area and want to try the real thing, you can check out Word of Mouth cakes in Spring, TX.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Guess it's time to get a camera.

The only camera we use these days are our iphones.  We've got a little Canon power shot, but I think it's time to invest in an SLR.  As excited as I am about the idea of (finally) getting a decent camera, it's coming at a price.  Our amazing photographer, Mackenzie Wheatley, of chubbyfoot photography, is leaving us to move to Europe. :(

We were able to squeeze one last mini session in with her, and just to give you an idea of what a loss this is, I've included pics from all the sessions she's done for our family.

Carter in the womb:

Carter 2 weeks old:

Carter 1 year:

 Jack in the womb (Carter 17 months):

Jack 1 week old (Carter 18 months):

Jack 6 months; Carter 2 years;
Married 5 years:

Carter 2.5; Jack 1 year;
Our new house (in 1 month when these pics were taken):

Most recent session
(Carter 3.5; Jack almost 2; Stephen and I married 6 years):

We're going to miss you Mackenzie!!!!!  Thank you SO much for capturing these precious moments in our life.  These pictures are priceless, and mean the world to us, and it has been such a pleasure working with you and getting to know you over the last 4 years.  I don't know what we're going to do without you, but wish you all the best in Europe!!!!

Paint it White

This summer we tackled (and by tackled, I mean paid a professional to tackle) the monstrous brick fireplace in our breakfast/dining area.  We considered white washing it, painting it black or a deep charcoal grey, painting it the same or a lighter shade of the wall color, and what we ultimately opted to do, paint it white.  Here are the "why's"

Why not white wash?
Finding a local pro experienced in true white washing (with lime) was impossible.  I did a lot of looking, and lots of guys were willing to give it a shot, but I figured that was no better than us doing it ourselves (which we didn't have the time or desire to do).

Why not grey or black?
That dark red/black brick and grey mortor was sucking the beautiful natural light out of the room during the day, and making the place look like a dungeon at night.  As a result, painting it a solid, light-sucking dark color seemed counter-productive.    

Why white?
The other end of the kitchen is choc full of glossy white cabinets, so it seemed to make sense that a nice bright white painted brick fireplace would balance things out better than the taupey grey we used on the walls.

And the moment you probably scrolled down for:



Thursday, October 27, 2011


I've gained a dozen pounds (no exaggeration) and I've quit blogging.  I'm not sure if I'm going to ever get it together, but I guess I need to give it a shot.  


Jack is talking up a storm.  Carter heard us say that and one day busted out at the breakfast table, "Jack's just talkin like a storm!" Ok, back to Jack.  He's so stinkin' cute, but he can be a stinker.  He's really developed a little attitude.  He doesn't like being told "no".  Like, at all.  Maybe it's because we really didn't tell him "no" for the first 18 months of his life.  Like ever.  But now we do, and it results in drama, drama, drama.  He can throw one impressive fit.  It's all we can do to keep him from hurting himself in the heat of the moment.  So, he's a little of a loose canon, but 80% of the time, he's awesome, and hilarious.  He's learning his colors, shapes and his letters and can identify about 25% of the alphabet and a few numbers.  He really does not like the number four because his counting goes like this "one, two, three, five, six, seven..."  No matter how many times we correct him.  Who needs 4 anyway, right?  He loves books.  LOVEs them.  We've been bad about reading bedtime stories to him like we used to do with Carter (i.e. unlimited numbers until he was practically asleep in the chair with us), but have really been forcing ourselves to spend more time on that.  We've gotten him off the paci except at night time and nap time, and I think that's really helped with his talking, not having a constant plug in the pie hole.  He's a good eater, but pretty picky.  He doesn't like vegetables or fruit or pretty much anything that remotely looks like it grew from the ground.  He's a meat and cheese and bread kid.  We're getting there though.  The other night he ate a huge serving of green beans, and he does like carrots and apples.  Baby steps.  He's a climber.  He's been throwing a leg over the side of the crib and scrambling up cabinets and tables for the past few months.  I foresee a toddler bed and lots of furniture straps in our near future.  We're about halfway through his first semester of pre school (two days a week) and he's doing fantastic.  He was a little quiet/shy/reserved for the first couple of weeks, and there is still some separation anxiety happening at morning drop offs, but other than that, he's really coming along like a champ.  His teachers LOVE him.  I can hardly get away when I go to pick him up because they love telling me how wonderful and sweet and cuddly and cute he is.  It's a tough life :)   

Carter is 3 going on 30.  He's started sounding out words, which is just mind blowing to me.  He's been "reading" for a little while now, but it was more memorization.  He would see the letters d-o-g and know that it spelled dog, but not because he was sounding anything out.  Just in the past few weeks, he's really gotten good at sounding out and figuring out words he's not familiar with.  He's still a very early reader, so consonant clusters (ck, sh, th) are tricky, as well as vowels that don't say their long or short sound (like the silent 'e' or the 'a' in ball), but he's getting there.  He's really intuitive and sensitive when people around him are upset, so I have to be careful about wearing my feelings on my shirt sleeves.  He loves music and watches more TV than he should.  He memorizes things he hears really quickly.  He will recite entire versus to songs he's only listened to once, but that I don't know after hearing a dozen times.  As a result, I have to REALLY watch my language these days.  He also has the ability to outsmart me.  A lot.  Not on purpose, I just get stumped on how to answer him sometimes.  I gave him a spanking when he was about 2 and a half and sent him to time out.  He was sobbing and told me "Mommy, we don't hit!"  I haven't felt good about spanking ever again.  That's not a recent example, but it's stuff like this that just make me really have to think before I interact with him sometimes.  We had a slew of flys in the house after having a window replaced.  As I'm up on a chair swatting them, Carter asked me what I was doing.  I told him I was swatting flys.  Later that night, he said, "Mommy, can I ask you a question?" When I said, "yes", he said "why did you kill those flys?"  I told him I didn't want them in the house.  He told me "Mommy, we don't squash bugs.  They just want to go to their home."  Seriously!?!  I think a lot of kids are like this, but Carter amazes me because he is our first.  You just don't think that a little human that has only been on this earth for 3 years can put things together like that, but they do.  He also can do some basic math, make patterns, recognize patterns, recite the planets (in order from the sun), and tell you the colors of the rainbow. After lots of back-and-forth, he's using his left hand enough that we are 90% sure he's left handed and 100% sure he's left-footed.  Did I mention we think he's a genius?  I know, we're really unique, thinking our kids are super special and super smart.   

Stephen is doing well.  He likes his work.  I like him.  He puts up with me.  It works.  Oh, I ran my first half marathon last Sunday.  Came in at 2:28 which was a few minutes under my 2:30 time goal.  yippee.  I'm running another half in November, and my goal is to run the whole thing (I only ran 10 straight miles of the aforementioned race before stopping and walking periodically).  I'm training for a full marathon in January, and, fingers crossed, will see the finish line in one piece.  My time goal for the full marathon is 6 hours, and I have no intention of ever doing a marathon again. I just want to cross it off the ol' bucket list.  I do like half marathons, though.  I might keep those up.  Half the distance, twice the fun.        

Off to bed.  I've been cheating on blogger with Kindle.  It's awesome.  I wonder how many times I said awesome in the course of this blog.  Probably not enough.  Have an awesome night.  I'm out.   

Monday, September 26, 2011


I was reading through blog posts of yore last night, and I came across this little gem as well as this bittersweet post.

I'll let you take a sec to read them.  I'll wait.  No seriously, go ahead, read them.

Ok, so I just have to say that a lot of what I was worried about came true...Carter didn't really understand what was going on when Jack showed up.  He did have to grow up faster than I would have liked.  I do have to split my time, and there were more days that first year than I care to admit when I was still in my pajamas (and still hadn't brushed my teeth) when Mr. C got home from work.  Between conflicting nap schedules, feeding schedules, or because someone always seemed to be sick, we didn't get out much, and a mental breakdown always seemed to lurk in the shadows of laundry piles waiting to pounce.  BUT, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and I could have never foreseen was how much joy, love, laughter, discipline (good self discipline), and perspective Jack would bring to the table.  Our little family and just life in general is so much better because he is here.  SO much better.  He is just awesome.

Our family is so blessed.  My heart is so full.  I love both my precious boys so much, and I can't imagine one without the other.  2 under 2 was no cake walk, but it certainly wasn't the unbearable nightmare I envisioned.  In fact, now that they are older and we are on the other side of the baby days (pretty soon, I won't even have ONE under two...sniff. sniff.), I just love how close they are in age, because they are each other's best friend.  I might even venture to say it has been a dream come true for this stay-at-home mom.  Ok, not when they are fighting, but the rest of the time, it's pretty great! :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Setting Up the Pins

Recently had the privilege of seeing musician and song writer Sara Groves in concert.  I fell in love with her music and just her personality in general.  This song especially captured my heart since in speaks to our life and really the whole idea behind this blog.  The song is by itself is great, but the music video is just so darn cute, I had to include it.

man in a silk tie heads downtown
setting up the pins for knocking em down
people in cars all rushing around
setting up the pins
let's get rich find a way around
setting up the pins for knocking em down
we'll get gadget with a whirring sound
for setting up the pins
everyone everywhere some way some how
are setting up the pins for knocking em down
you can find joy in the fertile ground
setting up the pins and knocking em down
you can try to fight it till you're anger drowned
setting up the pins
everyone everywhere some way some how
are setting up the pins for knocking em down
it can feel simple but it's really profound
setting up the pins
rent a tent, build a stage, throw a party, get a gown
buy a ticket, rent a car, pack a bag and leave town,
cook a dinner, clean the kitchen hit the light
brush your teeth, read a book, say a prayer good-night
everyone everywhere some way some how
are setting up the pins for knocking em down
it can feel simple but it's really profound...
my grandmother had a working song
hummed it low all day long
sing for the beauty that's to be found
in setting up the pins for knocking em down

Hope you all are enjoying this beautiful Labor Day.  We haven't done a whole bunch, just mainly setting up the pins for knocking them back down tomorrow :) Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Work in Progress

We've had some big things happening around our house lately.  We replaced all but one of the windows this past week, and had a carpenter/handyman do a little bit of work including building a new mantel, removing the runner from the stairs, adding crown to five rooms, replacing lights in the kitchen, replacing the front door and adding french doors to what used to be the dining room (we are using it as a study).

In the midst of all the construction zone mayhem, Carter had to have some dental work done.  Nothing major, just a filling and some sealants, but because he's three and not cooperative with a teeth cleaning let along a drilling session, they had to put him under general anesthesia to do the work.  So there was a whole day in there that had some added stress with all that mess, but luckily Mr. C's mom was here to help with the boys and the house and just generally be amazing, as always.

I didn't really get any 'before' pics, but here are some 'progress' pics.

New windows and mantel...and a really messy kitchen table.
Room with a view, we love these big windows
New door from the inside (buh-bye leafy glass!)
New door from the outside - I love the brass hardware.
Trim in progress, still needs another piece, paint and our house numbers! :)
New french doors keeping munchkins out of the office

Last window to be replaced is the big one above the door, but it's taking longer to arrive than the rest.
Stairs minus the carpet runner.  Next step, sand and paint!

New windows/door - curb shot.

Painters arrive next week - I promise more pics when they finish!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Slipping Through the Cracks

No new posts lately because we've been incredibly busy, and because I'm desperate to get to a stopping point so I can print the blog.  A few posts seem to have slipped through the cracks over the past three years, and this post is purely to remind myself of events I want to document with some date-adjusted posts before printing.  I'll try to update this with hyper-links as I get the new/old posts up for the few of you who actually read this (i.e grandparents).

Carter's 2nd Birthday Party Pics - Pancakes in Pajamas Theme
Jack's Baptism
Stephen's Surprise 30th Birthday Party Pics
5th Anniversary trip to Seattle/Portland Pics
Running/Broken Toe
Jack's 1st Birthday Party Pics - Tough Cookie Theme
Carter's School Picture
Carter's 3rd Birthday
First Family vacation to Galveston
Stephen's 31st Birthday
Stephen's New Job
6th Anniversary/Trip to New Orleans
New House - 'Before' and 'Progress' Pics (haven't quite gotten to the 'afters' yet).

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Easter 2011

It's May?!?!  Where did April go??  Ok, let's play catch up.  Easter with the little guys was low key (theme around here) and fun.  Jack really got into Easter eggs once he figured out they had treats inside and Carter was all over those plastic eggs like white on rice.

We started the day by digging through the Easter loot, then celebrated with our Church family and then headed to LJ for a fun afternoon/evening with my parents.  The boys had some good clean dirty fun and wound up needing baths before we could head home.  Not wanting to put them back into their dirty play clothes, we were faced with taking them home in the buff, or waiting an hour while Grammy R laundered the offending textiles.  As luck would have it, we didn't have to do either.  My mom found these two old shirts that had been my brother's when he was little that said "My Granddad was a Paratrooper"  It was awesome.  My Granddad's paratrooper story is one that deserves it's own blog post, but just know, it was way cool that she had them still, that she happened to have two different sized AND that both sizes fit the boys perfectly.  Of course we had to get a picture (or 12).

So here's the day, Easter 2011, in photo form.

Like a hole in my head

I need another DIY project like I need a hole in my head, but seriously, how cute is this little wreath??  Last minute mother's day idea??  Maybe! :)  (Moms, hope you are not reading this!)  
Isn't it darling?  Project is courtesy of and you can see this image in a full page (printable) layout in the new (and completely FREE) e-zine at  (if you haven't checked out their blog yet, wait until nap'll need at least an hour).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

No words...

well, maybe a few because JACK WALKED TONIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I just am so overwhelmed with emotion right now.  I am extremely disappointed I didn't get to see it - Mr. C had that honor.  I'm also secretly in disbelief that maybe it didn't happen at all, just because I can hardly believe it finally happened!

Ok, so I have to back up...Jack has had lots of minor motor skill issues (for unknown reasons) since he was tiny.  He is right on target for all the cognitive milestones, but has been in physical therapy for almost a year now to help him learn to sit, stand, pull up, etc.  Honestly I am so glad he is our second child because I have been able to take the delays more gracefully that I would if this were my first rodeo.

Anyway, I had gotten so used to Jack needing to be carried everywhere, that I think I kinda forgot he'd eventually walk.  I know that makes no sense, but it's like waiting for a package that takes so long to arrive, you forget about it, until it lands on your doorstep.  Well, when Mr. C called down to me this evening to tell me that Jack walked, I was in complete shock!  I was so relieved and happy and in disbelief and also a little sad to be reminded that Jack is actually growing up (despite my best efforts to convince myself he'll be a baby forever), that I just started bawling.  I sobbed...and I'm sobbing now...there are just no words...well, maybe a "we love you Jack!!"  and "we are so incredibly proud of you and grateful to be your parents...may all the shocks we get from you in life be as wonderful as this one!!! :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's a sickness really.

It's basically the most dangerous thing I have gotten involved in on the internet to date.  It's just wonderful, and did I mention dangerous.

You really must try it out.  It's free, and easy, and terribly addicting.  Just don't say I didn't warn you :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jack's song

As promised :)

-The Dixie Chicks

They didn't have you where I come from
Never knew the best was yet to come
Life began when I saw your face
And I hear your laugh like a serenade

How long do you wanna be loved?
Is forever enough, is forever enough?
How long do you wanna be loved?
Is forever enough 'cause I'm never never giving you up.

I slip in bed when you're asleep
To hold you close
And feel your breath on me
Tomorrow there'll be so much to do
So tonight I'll drift in a dream with you

How long do you wanna be loved?
Is forever enough, is forever enough?
How long do you wanna be loved?
Is forever enough 'cause I'm never never giving you up.

As you wonder this troubled world
In search of all things beautiful
You can close you're eyes when you're miles away
And hear my voice like a serenade

How long do you wanna be loved?
IS forever enough, is forever enough?
How long do you wanna be loved?
IS forever enough, 'cause I'm never never giving you up

How long do you wanna be loved?
Is forever enough, is forever enough?
How long do you wanna be loved?
Is forever enough, 'cause I'm never never giving you up.
Is forever enough, 'cause I'm never never giving you up.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Godspeed Little Man.

I used to sing this song to Carter when he was in my tummy...every time I hear it I cry. It will always be 'our song'.

Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)
-The Dixie Chicks

'Dragon Tales' and 'The Water is Wide'
Pirates sail and lost boys fly
Fish bite moonbeams every night
And I love you

Godspeed little man
Sweet dreams little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angel's wings
Sweet dreams

The Rocket racer's all tuckered out
Super man's in pajamas on the couch
Goodnight moon, we'll find the mouse
And I love you.

Godspeed little man
Sweet dreams little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angel's wings
Sweet dreams

God bless mommy and matchbox cars
God bless dad and thanks for the stars
God hears "Amen" wherever we are
And I love you

Godspeed little man
Sweet dreams little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angel's wings
Sweet dreams

Jack's song tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Season

Last week I made a difficult decision.  I broke up with friends.  I was reluctant to admit that's what I did, but in hindsight, that's exactly what I did.  Not because I don't love this group, and not because I don't hope to run into these people again, but because I realized our season had come to an end.

When I made up my mind that it was time to move on there were tears, followed by sadness, and then just a deep feeling of lonliness. But then my wonderful husband reminded me of this incredible poem.

Reason, Season, or Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

— Unknown

Monday, April 11, 2011

Strawberry Picking

Ever since we went blueberry picking last year, I've been itching to try out more pick-your-own places, and our trip to Froberg's in Alvin, TX this past weekend did not disappoint. We had a great time, the strawberries were plentiful and delicious, they have a farmer's market with an incredible produce selection  (and some amazing fried pies), and they have a nice shady picnic area to enjoy lunch. We will definitely be back, if not this year, then next!