Photo Friday: Brownies

Our Girl Scout troop advanced from Daisies to Brownies on Tuesday night with a great bridging ceremony. We’ve got such a fun and unique group of girls and awesome leaders! We’re looking forward to another great year as Brownies!

Here’s a few photos I got from Tuesday’s fun. Unfortunately Garen had to stay home with the littles since they had a cold (or allergies really bad), so I had to do my best with his camera. Luckily he’s pretty talented at editing. It’s pretty obvious I need some pointers but they turned out better than I would have done with my iPhone probably.

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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!

Mommy Review Monday: Big Block Singsong

I can’t take credit for finding this group because Garen introduced this lovely group to me. If you’re like me, you quickly get tired of kids music.

Enter Big Block Singsong.

Pros:

  • They will crack you up with their off-the-wall lyrics. This may be helpful if you’re ever in the car with everyone yelling at each other….not that we ever experience that in our family….
  • You don’t have to worry about anything offensive or bad words. I guess that’s almost a given with children’s music but a pro is s pro.
  • Even your older kids will like them, despite there being no inappropriate language.
  • They’re educational in a bazar way.
  • As a mom of girls, the “Princess” song is empowering, yet allows them to feel like it’s ok to be a girly-girl. Is that too much to read into a children’s song? Maybe…
  • The music is decent too. Very upbeat.
  • They’re easily found on YouTube or iTunes.

What they could do better:

  • I’m not a huge fan of the videos. I expect too much of them but we never really watched them anyway so that’s not a huge deal. They’re probably perfect for babies and toddlers so I guess that’s really a positive rather than negative.
  • Maybe produce more songs? Yes, I like them that much. No more negatives for them.

There you have it. What are you waiting for? Check them out.

Hair is one of our family favorites if you need a starting point….or a quick pick-me-up.

Mommy Review Monday: CuisinartICE-30R Pure Indulgence Frozen Yogurt Sorbet & Ice Cream Maker

Anna asked for an ice cream maker for Christmas. She saw one in the toy section at Target one day but I knew my patience would not allow for us to make ice cream “Easy Bake” style (although she did get an Easy Bake oven for Christmas).

So, I decided to go with a “real” ice cream maker so we could all enjoy it. My mom had this one: Cuisinart ICE-30R Pure Indulgence Frozen Yogurt Sorbet & Ice Cream Maker. She liked it and it got good reviews so we ordered it from Amazon.

After our first batch, here’s my review:

What I like about it:

  • It looks nice. I like red appliances, so that’s the color we got….not that it’s sitting out a ton.
  • It’s super fast. 20-25 minutes and you’ve got ice cream.
  • 2 quarts is a perfect amount for us.
  • No more cranking…although I do have very fond memories of cranking my Grammy’s ice cream maker when the motor was struggling just before it was ready.
  • No more salt…unless I figured out how to make salted caramel mocha ice cream…
  • It stores nicely.
  • It’s easy to clean and wash.
  • It came with some tasty recipes in the manual…although I probably will refer to family recipes and good ol’ Pintrest going forward.  And maybe a little bit of trial and error with the kids and Garen as guinea pigs.

What I don’t like about it:

  • ….

I can’t really think of anything at the moment.  I guess maybe I wish I had two so I could make two flavors at the same time!

Yes, folks, it really is that good.  They didn’t give it the name “Pure Indulgence” for nothing….

The only thing that beats homemade vanilla ice cream are the smiling faces you see when they taste it… and maybe how easy this machine makes it!

Happy Mommy Review Monday to you!

 For the record:  I am in no way paid for this review.  The opinions above are my own and I purchased this machine for our own use based on our needs and my own research and feedback received.

Adventures with Four: Picnicking with Donuts

Sometimes I think the best way to stay sane with four kids is to load everyone up and go somewhere. Here’s my logic behind today’s early-morning adventure to the park:

  • Donuts are always a big hit with the kids (even if they aren’t the healthiest). 
  • Picking up breakfast meant I didn’t have to cook. 
  • The kids felt special because they got to pick their own treat. Check out the extra-cool donuts at our local shop. 

  • Picnicking with donuts at the park meant no stray sprinkles or chocolate on the floor- one more meal that my freshly cleaned kitchen stays that way. 

  • We got the kids out of daddy’s hair while he tended to the yard. (I think he got the short end of the stick but I did bring him some kolaches)
  • It was beautiful first thing this morning. We were out the door by 8:15 and back around 9:45 or so. If you’re from Texas you know that early-morning park trips are the best. We still had some good shade at one of our beautiful nearby parks. 

  • Sitting in the house all day makes me crazy. Mainly because it also makes the kids crazy. Keeping them moving outside for as much time as possible is good. Will and Anna can burn off energy playing and Clara and Kate are big enough to swing in baby swings finally. 

Part of the morning adventure was selfish reasoning and the other part was the joy in seeing happy kids on a Saturday morning. Regardless, it’s a win-win for us all!