Photo Friday: New Lens, New Year

One of Garen’s new toys was is a new artistic lens.  So, I’m really just the lady behind the man with the camera so all I can do is be supportive… and buy him cool stuff.

He got some great shots playing with it.  Here’s a few to share for Photo Friday.

Enjoy your weekend!


Photo Friday: Sweet Holiday Memories with Sugar Cookies

A couple of weekends back, the kids helped me to make Christmas cookies. We had such a good time, even if my kitchen became a disaster zone and the control freak, perfectionist side of me struggled to let them decorate them however they wanted.

Garen caught a few good photos of us in action. Yes, I was brave enough to let Clara and Kate “help.” Sprinkles. Everywhere.

My Mom and my Grammy would always let us kids help decorate sugar cookies. Besides it being a great memory and fun (yet messy) activity, they actually taste really good. Here’s the recipe that my family uses. This is my Mom’s handwriting. I think. My Grammy wrote almost exactly like it. And it must be genetic because I write almost like it too!

This year I used a new icing recipe thanks to Pinterest. The recipe from In Katrina’s Kitchen was wonderful. It was tasty and hardened up for beautiful cookies just like her blog says it will. I’m not big on Crisco BUT it was good in this recipe. If you don’t use it and substitute with butter, you’ll get a similar effect but it won’t harden as well. If you’re not stacking cookies, that may not be an issue.

I hope each of you will take time to make some sweet memories of your own this holiday season! Tis’ the season to be busy with everything (which is why I’ve not blogged much) but I’m really making an effort to do things with our little (big) family that will create memories that they’ll cherish as well.

Happy Photo Friday before Christmas!

Sweet Saturday: Salted Carmel Pretzel Brownies

Today I’m gearing up for Nacho Night. More on that in a separate blog. I had some boxes of Hershey’s Triple Chocolate Brownie mix that have been calling to me. Judge me if you must but if you’ve not tried this mix, found at Sam’s Club, you are missing out. They’re super easy and every time I make them for something I get requests for my recipe. So, you’re in luck. Today I’m sharing my guilty, cheating “secret recipe.”

They’re also great for doing different spins on the traditional brownie. That brings me to today’s “experiment. ” Once again I am working to use what I’ve got on hand and the first thing that jumped out at me was a bag of pretzels that needed to be used. My mind instantly flew to creating salted caramel brownies and I remembered that I had a jar of salted caramel from my cousin Kim’s wedding (which was AWESOME and Kim, if you’re reading this, please send me the recipe.)  Best wedding favor EVER!

Salted Caramel Pretzel BrowniesSalted Caramel Wedding Favor

Of course, now I had to break one of my cardinal rules of hosting a dinner party: never try something new on guests. And tonight I broke it twice since I also made Pumpkin Sopapilla Cheesecake.

Ok, ok. Enough back story. On to the my made up, super easy, half-cheating recipe for Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies.


  • 2 bags Hershey’s Triple Chocolate Brownie mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2-3 cup pretzels, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel


Follow the recipe on the back of the box of brownies (see below) except at 25 minutes into the baking, stop and top the brownies with the broken of pretzels. Then drizzle with the salted caramel and bake the remaining time or until the brownies are finished. Salted Caramel Pretzel BrowniesSalted Caramel Pretzel BrowniesBest Brownie Mix Ever

The back of the box says it makes 40 brownies but in reality with the large pan I used and the size brownies most people eat it’s more like 25-30. Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies

You could do the same with another brand of brownies or even from your own scratch recipe if you’re an overachiever like that. I’m sure it would still work. The key is getting the pretzels and caramel on there at the right time so they sink into the mix a bit but not too much.

I whipped up some real whipping cream and, together, they were pretty delicious (sorry to sound braggy.) Ice cream would’ve been equally delightful with them straight out of the oven or even microwaved. I happen to be thinking about how good they’d be paired with a big, cold glass of milk for breakfast!

They do come with a warning: These are really rich but, being the girl that waits all year for Starbucks to start serving their salted caramel mocha again, I loved them. My guests said they were good too but I think when it comes to something like this some people love them and others not-so-much.  If you’re looking for something less chocolately but still really tasty in the “brownie family,” check out these blonde brownies.  They’re always a hit too!

I hope your Saturday was as sweet as ours. More on our nacho night later!

Disclaimer:  I didn’t get paid in any way for this blog post.  The opinions and randomness are completely my own doing.  Feel free to share!

Photo Friday: Will’s Spooktacular Costume Birthday Party

A few weeks ago we had Will’s VERY belated birthday party. His birthday is always the first week of school, meaning there’s really not enough time to invite any of his classmates besides the ones we already had addresses or parents’ phone numbers.

As we got closer and closer to Halloween, we all settled on having a Costume Party. It was fun and REALLY crazy!

Here was his Spooktacular invitation by Holly at Denleys Design Shop on Etsy. She did a great job, don’t you think? She was super fast at getting it to me and priced very reasonably!

Spooktacular Birthday Bash Costume Party Invitation

Spooktacular Birthday Bash Costume Party Invitation

Obviously, my I tried to plan a few games to keep the boys entertained. I think the easiest and most exciting game was the donut eating contest. We also did the spider throwing contest, glow ring toss, and the pumpkin racing contest….none of which I recommend for 3rd graders. They didn’t keep their attention long enough. But, hey, I tried. I get points for that, right?!?

Donut Game NinjaDonut Game WinnerDonut Game Full MouthDonut Game Cleopatra and Sleeping BeautyDonut Game MomEveryone had a great time I️ think…even Mammy (my mom) enjoyed the fun!

Garen didn’t get as many photos as I had hoped due to our little monsters (Clara and Kate) running around as well. I think the ones he got turned out good though.

Halloween Snacks Brain Cream Cheese Mold

I did try to do some spooky food. Can you tell that’s a brain??? I️t was super easy. Cream cheese and red pepper jelly molded into a brain mold from the Dollar Tree.

We had a great time but, like after all kid parties I’ve had at our house, I’m now pondering where we want to have it next year that I can just show up with cupcakes.

Happy Photo Friday!


Happy (Second) Birthday/Halloween!!!

Halloween is a big holiday in our household- it’s Clara and Kate’s birthday.  Today they turn two.  I sound like a broken record every single birthday for the kids but, man, how time flies!

It seems like just yesterday that this was happening!

Or this:

And now, here we are:  Two Two-Year-Olds.  Double, Double Trouble.

Maybe there’s a reason we chose dragons (or maybe I really just wanted to buy the “Mother of Dragons” shirt). I guess you’ll never know.

They’re a blast.  Every day we are watching them learn something new.  And almost always something different.

Kate prefers savory stuff (hence the sausage roll for birthday breakfast- she wasn’t happy about having her photo taken this morning)…

While Clara is all over anything slightly sweet.

Happy Birthday Little Pumpkins/Dragons.  We love you!!! 

And Happy Halloween to all of you fine folks from Cleopatra, Scary Jester, and Dragon A and Dragon B!


(Not so) Tall Tale Tuesday: What Makes a Great Mom

Today’s prompt for (Not so) Tall Tale Tuesday is:

Write about the woman who has had the greatest impact on your life.

This didn’t take more than a few seconds for me to know exactly who I’d write about- my Mom.

We’d both freely admit that we don’t always agree about everything- far from it. But I have a long list of the great reasons she’s had the greatest impact on my life and what I think makes her a great mom:

  • She’s taught me to love unconditionally. I was a hard teenager to deal with. If I could take it back I would. But I can’t. What I can do is learn from how she continued to love me despite it all. I have a feeling I might need it- what are the chances that none of my four kids are not going to give me some heartache?!?
  • She loves my dad and he’s her best friend. I have married my best friend I aim to keep him happy and show him how much I love him every day.
  • She’s the money-lady. My mom has diligently kept the financial side of my parents’ companies going for 30+ years. She’s taught me how to save money and how to spend wisely. Many think I was brought up in a house where I got whatever I wanted. Ha. So far from the truth. My mom was pretty close to the budget-Nazi growing up. And while I was sometimes upset that I didn’t get to always have Tommy Hilfiger or Guess brand clothing (am I dating myself???), I sure am glad now that I got to experience that.
  • She gives freely. Part of her above mentioned budgeting always went to either the church or to fundraisers, etc. I don’t remember her ever turning anyone down unless she had already bought more Girl Scouts cookies than our family could eat.
  • She taught me to love to read. Not just because she read to me or made me read. She also was always reading and was always willing to help find me a book that I found interesting. This is something I worry about at our house because my books are now on my phone and iPad so it looks like to the kids that I’m “playing” while I’m really reading my book on my Kindle app.
  • She loves family get-togethers and has hosted them almost every holiday for a long time, especially as my grandparents got older. Getting together with aunts, uncles, and cousins has always been a big part of our life.
  • She’s taught me to party plan and to cook for others. This is similar to the above point but still a little different.  It drives Garen (only a little) crazy but I love planning parties.  I’m pretty sure the cooking doesn’t drive him crazy (unless he ends up cleaning it).  I’m not as good as my Grammy or my Mom but I think, like them, I’m getting better with age.

I could probably go on and on but I’ll stop. She’s a pretty great Mom and an even better Mammy! Happy (not so) Tall Tale Tuesday!  And thank you, Mom, for being a great Mom and friend.


Spooky Saturday

We love Halloween in our family….and not just because Clara and Kate’s birthday is on October 31st. Although it does make for an easy party theme.

We like to decorate the house with lots of spooky stuff. We didn’t go all out this year because we’ve been so busy lately but here’s a few highlights from the decor.

Our skeleton is affectionately named Bob. The girls really have enjoyed playing with him. Plus, he’s a great listener.

Have a spook Saturday everyone!!!