Monday, December 28, 2009


Uuuuggghhh.....stupid cold. Yes- we are all sick. Thank goodness it didn't start to affect us till Christmas evening. The kids have had a cough/cold for a few days but it has finally hit mommy. What's that saying? If mama isn't happy, no one's happy. So very true. I'm going to "try" to rest up over the next couple of days (I know- it's an oxymoron! Mama resting?! Crazy! Yes- I know it's only a dream).
I also need to somehow manage to get my house to look clean. It looks like an atomic bomb of toys went off in here. Kinda overwhelming. Yikes...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Yule Logs

As always I have to balance family life with work. Not so easy when it comes to Christmas. And throw two sick kids into the mix and it's enough to make me want to lock myself in the bathroom and not come out- LOL! Sad thing is I really feel that way today, no joke. It just seems like there's so much to do and with sick kids it's nearly impossible to do anything. I'm just going to have to do it when they sleep (I hope they sleep well tonight and don't wake up every 20 min).

This morning I finished up the Yule Logs that I'm selling. It's a semi sweet chocolate sponge cake with a double vanilla cream filling. Topped with a whipped chocolate buttercream and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Yum!

Here's a picture of the log getting iced:

And the final product for Christmas:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chili Weather

It's stormy outside. Rainy, windy and cold. I was reminded of my childhood and those amazingly yummy comfort foods that I crave on days like today. Guess what's for lunch? Chili! I'm not sure why I don't make chili more often-- it's so easy. And sooooo yummy! Well, I dove in and made it today- not sure if my kids would really eat it..... no worries, I will. It turned out so good. We topped ours with some shredded cheddar cheese and Fritos (just like my mom would make for me as a kid). And the most amazing thing is my 4 year old ate almost all of it! My 2 year old only ate the chips....whatever. I ate all of mine! :D hahaha. For our chili I substituted ground beef for ground turkey and it was so yummy! You have to try it!

Recipe for Chili (it's so simple it's sad):
1 lb. ground beef
1 can Hunts diced tomatoes with Chili seasoning
1 can chili beans (pinto beans in a chili sauce)

Ta-Da! Just brown up your meat. Then add in the tomatoes and beans and simmer a few minutes and your done. Throw in some cheese to the pot to thicken up the chili a little bit. It's so simple! Feel free to try your own creations!

Making Breakfast Special

This morning I pulled out the pancake molds. And yes- I rocked breakfast! We have molds from Williams and Sonoma that make pancakes in the shape of Santa, Frosty and a Reindeer.

They are very simple to use. And my kids now think I'm the best mommy in the least for the next hour :) But you know what- maybe my kids will remember this breakfast next year and look forward to it... or maybe I'll just be super mom for an hour. Either way- it was a special morning and the kids were very excited.

I really liked the reindeer! Not sure why but my kids were more into the Santa and Frosty. I ended up having to make 2 Santas and 2 Frostys - one for each kid. So I ate the reindeer :)

Ok, so Santa kinda looked funky but the kids didn't care- they gobbled him up happily.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tis the Season

If your house is anything like mine- it's filled to the brim with holiday decorations. I just love Christmas and all the fun decorations. My husband loves some of the decorations too. I say some because 11 months out of the year he complains about the space in the garage being taken up by all my decorations. But...they aren't going anywhere. In fact, over the next couple years I'll probably have to get another tub because my "collection" is still growing. I have not informed him of this yet...but soon enough I'm sure I'll have to have that discussion.

Last night I pulled out all the wrapping paper and decorative gift bags. This is the part of Christmas that stresses me out. I'm not sure why, but I don't really enjoy wrapping presents. Not sure what that says about me - but I'm just like that. I feel the same about laundry. It's not really a difficult task - I just don't find it "enjoyable". hmmm.... I'll have to think about that more.

Well, this morning was slightly disastrous when the kids came down and descended on the wrapping accessories. There was a lot of "don't touch that" and "no jumping" some "Kaden put that ribbon down now". It was lovely...... yea. In addition to that- my little princess who is a little over 2 is potty training and decided to pee on the carpet. Uuughhh. I was just glad she didn't pee on any gifts - lol.... but I'm so serious. Mental note: after the holidays, I'm buying a new rug for the family room. I figure with little kids and a great dane it's necessary to buy a new rug about once every other least.

But with all the chaos it's still my favorite time of the year. And over this next week I'm going to sit back and enjoy a lot of it. Even though my great dane is using my wrapping tub as a head rest and the presents that the kids wrapped slightly resemble crumpled trash- it's all precious. I'm savoring every moment.... because it only comes once a year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chick-Fil-A Family Night

At our local Chick-Fil-A every Tuesday night from 5 - 6:30 is family night. What does that mean? It means you can buy an adult meal and get a kid's meal totally FREE! Oh yes. I said And in addition to that they often have a craft or activity for the kids to do. This Tuesday a lot of our neighborhood moms met up at Chick-Fil-A with the kids. We had a lot of fun! The moms got to chat and the kids talked and played. This Tuesday night the kids made these fun candy cane ornaments. It was a great activity for kids of multiple ages. I realize that by the time I post this it'll probably be a little late for you to make it to your local Chick-Fil-A (if you even have a local one). So I'm going to tell you how you can make these ornaments.

Candy Cane Ornaments:
1) Take white pipe cleaners and make a loop at one end, or knot to act as a stopper for the beads.
2) Alternate placing white and red beads on your white pipe cleaner.
3) Make a loop or knot at the other end of your pipe cleaner right up against the end of the beads.
4) Curl your beaded pipe cleaner into the shape of a candy cane and add a ribbon.

Viola! Your done. I love simple crafts :) Good luck!

Tea and Cookies

Between my husband's and my schedule it's really hard to schedule time to hang out with friends. Well, last night we had some of our close friend's over just for a couple hours to chat over tea, cookies and some M&M's. It was so nice. And we didn't have to pay for a babysitter or spend money on food. Everyone had a great time telling stories and reconnecting. It was really nice to just have some time to sit and relax...not having to rush. I highly recommend doing this activity with some friends this holiday season. And my wonderful friend Kim brought over these adorable kitchen towels. I instantly put them up on the handle of my oven. It's another little thing that makes me smile when I see them. I also highly suggest surrounding yourself with things that make you happy.....whether that be gingerbread men kitchen towels or wonderful friends.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Stress

This time of year it seems like so many people out there are in a hurry and just down right obnoxious. You wouldn't think that two suburban moms would roll up their sleeves and get ready for a throw down over a parking spot- but I swear that is whats going on in the parking lots! It's insanity! All these people are in such a hurry to buy the perfect gift or trying to squeeze in too many activities. Kinda makes you want to pull your hair out!

But try to remember the reason for the season... take some time to just enjoy the holidays! Do you remember what it was like when you were a kid and the tangible magic in the air. I don't remember being bussed around from activity to activity. But I do remember sitting at home with my mom making sugar cookies. And I remember waiting for the big night to arrive. There are so many wonderful things about the month of December and if we try to do to much we'll miss out on them completely. I'm going to try to be a little bit lazier in the next few days. I'm going to get down on the floor (without thinking about cleaning it) and play with the kids more. No more stressing for me -- oops were my fingers crossed? Ok- I'll try to relax and not stress so much. Let's enjoy this magical time and no more fights over parking spots ladies! .....seriously... it's kinda embarrassing to watch. Kinda entertaining....but that's not the point.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gingerbread Houses for Preschoolers

When I was a kid there was always a mom who would bring in these graham cracker houses to decorate at Christmas time. I always remember being so excited when she would come to our classroom. I have wonderful childhood memories of decorating those houses. I knew that when I became a mom I would be making graham cracker houses for my kids. And maybe my kids will pass it on and if not my kids, maybe another kid will have wonderful memories and pass those traditions on.

I brought these into my son's preschool class about 2 weeks before Christmas and the kids had a blast decorating them. To make the houses I put graham crackers together using royal icing (recipe below). You have to use royal icing to make them sturdy enough for kids to decorate. Regular icing will not hold these houses together. For the class, I put 1/2 a cup of buttercream in zip lock bags for the kids to use to decorate their houses. The teachers provided the candy and the rest is history. I stayed and helped the kids make their houses and the looks on their faces were priceless. I hope this is the beginning of some lifelong memories.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Royal Icing and Sugar Cookies

Mmmmm....there is something about the smell of sugar cookies baking that just makes me happy. I think it makes my husband and kids happy too! For as long as I can remember sugar cookies have been made in my house around Christmas. I guess it's a cookie tradition :) I can understand because they happen to cook really quickly which is perfect for kids......especially mine.... who don't seem to understand that we can't just eat the dough. Although my husband doesn't seem to understand that either.... I saw him snag a piece of the dough and pop it in his mouth when I was cutting the cookies.

What is it that separates a homemade sugar cookie from a professional bakery sugar cookie??? The answer.... Royal Icing. If you walk into your local coffee shop, chances are you'll see some sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. It makes sense because royal icing hardens so it makes shipping and packaging easy. Can you imagine shrink wrapping a cookie with buttercream on it? The frosting would turn into a gooey blob on top. eeeww.... So royal icing is the answer. At BECCA'S blue BAKERY we use royal icing to decorate the tops of sugar cookies. Royal icing is not that difficult to make. But it is a little bit more time consuming than buttercream. But you can do it!!!

Royal Icing Recipe:
mix together with a whip attachment
4 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons Meringue Powder (available at your local craft or baking store)
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup warm water. Add the full 3/4 cup for a runny icing consistency.

Whip together until the mixture turns white and glossy and forms peaks or ribbons. 2-4 min.

See, I told you that was easy. Now- here's the trickier part. It needs to be used immediately. Or place in a zip lock bag until ready to use. To color, you can use regular food coloring but I prefer to use the gel coloring (such as Wilton's - found at local craft or baking store). When you are ready to use it work on one cookie at a time - because when the royal icing comes in contact with the air it will harden. Good luck!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Supporting our Troops.

I think everyone should do this. If you go to this website ( you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq . You can't pick out who gets the card, but it will go to a member of the armed services.

How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one! It is FREE and it only takes a few seconds.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the soldiers received a bunch of these? Whether you are for or against the war, our soldiers need to know we are behind them. the time to send a card and please take the time to pass this email on to others so they can do the same. We can never say enough thank you's.

Thanks for taking the time to support our military!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Beer Bread

Why have I never known about beer bread?! It is the simplest bread recipe ever!!! I love the smell of baking bread but hate the hassle. It's rainy and cold here today so I wanted to bake bread. I have no idea how I stumbled across this recipe, but it rocks!

Becca's Beer Bread:
mix together:
3 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
12 oz. bottle or can of your favorite beer. (for a lighter beer flavor use a light colored beer)

Preheat oven to 350. Place sticky mixture in a loaf pan (9x5") that's been sprayed with baking spray. Or you can butter and flour the pan. Bake for approximately 40 minutes to one hour. I baste it with butter twice through the baking process - yummy. I recommend watching it the last 20 minutes.

This is actually a GREAT recipe to do with kids. It's so simple. My kids loved mixing the dry ingredients together. Then I took it and added the beer which is when it got really sticky. Then I plopped it into the pan and stuck it in the oven. Yay for a yummy rainy day activity --that was mess free!! And it turned out delicious!!!

Yule Log kits

My sister created these adorable kits that include everything necessary to make 2 adorable yule log ornaments. I'm so buying one....or two. They're only $10.00 for the kit! I'm proud to be related to a genius :) hehe... Seriously, I think these are sooo cute. You have to check them out!

Friday, December 4, 2009


My husband and I decided we were done Christmas shopping after we walked out of Target with a cart full of toys and a couple of hundred dollars poorer. And December is my birthday month. So we are now officially broke (I'm sure we're not alone). Not the type of broke where we don't have food or clothes. I'm just not allowed to go shopping for any "extras" or as my husband would say "non-necessities". Which is totally fair. Now, it's back to work- not that I wouldn't be working even if it wasn't December.

I had a custom cake order due on Friday. It's a polka dot fondant cake with sculpture. I love making fondant sculptures because they turn out so cute. Plus, they're totally edible. This cake has a fondant bee sculpture which I think is adorable!

Should you dare to ask what my kids are doing while I'm working? They are totally making a mess! I actually had them set up to decorate sugar cookies. And yes, I bought the Pillsbury snowman pre-cut sugar cookies that you just pop on the pan. I know, I'm a baker. But ya know- that's what my kid wanted and --- it's easy. Obviously, I'd never sell something like that- but for the kids to decorate? Does it really matter? Probably not- they had fun. And made a complete mess.

I was watching them thinking:
It's really amazing how the frosting ended up smeared on her forehead within 2 seconds of setting it in front of her. Wow- is it in her ear???
"Oh Taylor, don't lick the knife"- well, it's a really dull plastic... they might as well call it a spoon...actually I think I cut my tongue once on a spoon.
Doesn't matter anymore- they've discovered the sprinkles.
Wow- Kaden is being very precise. Hmmm.... is he having fun? He kinda looks stressed. Oh, there's a smile. Never mind.
Oh my gosh, they have frosting everywhere. Kinda looks like a mud fight... deep breaths.
"Don't get down off that chair!!" ok- enough "Time for bath!"

Yea- the cookie decorating didn't last all that long. But the kids had fun and I took pictures to remember. We have a cookie decorating play date next week...I wonder if it'll turn out this messy. Gosh I hope not. Ok, it's for the memories. Do it for the memories. Must create memories. Memories. ok.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hot Cocoa

One of the best parts about winter is being able to snuggle up in a nice warm blanket and sip a cup of hot cocoa. I'm partial to the Starbucks hot cocoa so we buy their mocha powder and mix it up to make the syrup to make our hot cocoa with. It's so good! Even if you live in the desert it will still get a little chilly at night in December. And that's when my snowman mugs come out. My sister bought me the best cups ever. They have a little snowman inside! When I start sipping I see his little head peeking through the cocoa. So cute!

Nothing is worse than getting to the bottom of the hot cocoa- but with these cups I have a happy little snowman smiling at me. It's the little stuff that makes me happy. And these cups do! If you ever see these - buy them! If not for yourself, then gift them to someone- it will make them happier than you'll ever know :)

Finding the Perfect Tree

One very special traditions in our house is finding the perfect Christmas tree. When I say perfect, I don't mean specific measurements. Just one that looks full, healthy and one the kids "approve" of. So we all get bundled up and hop in the car and drive down the street to the local Home Depot. Haha... guess it doesn't sound quite so picturesque. The important thing is that the kids are so excited to pick a tree out. And yes- I'm sure we could drive up to the mountains to cut down our own....but Home Depot happens to have really great prices :)

So first we had to pick out a tree. Which turned out not to take that long. My husband happens to have a great eye for trees. So once the kids pick one out, then we have to run it past Daddy. Which is a good thing- because once he holds them up I realize that the ones I like usually have large holes.

Then our tree gets all bundled up and attached to the top of our car. While my husband does a great job securing the tree, we wait in the car :) I'd like to say I have him trained nicely, but once he realized I was sitting in the car he made me get out and hold a string. Which seemed utterly pointless. But the tree got home safely, so I can't complain. And I must say, I think it's a great tree.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


In our household, we have lots of traditions! But one that I find especially fun is the mistletoe tradition. I hang a mistletoe and garland ball (picked it up at a local craft store many years ago) in our stairwell on December 1st.
I definitely recommend buying a mistletoe replica if you have kids in the house. No one will notice and it's so much safer.....since mistletoe is poisonous. It's kinda interesting that a poisonous, parasitic plant somehow represents a tradition of kissing. But... it does. And I love it!
I wait under it while my hubby is saying goodbye to the kids in the morning....waiting for my turn :) The kids are starting to get into the tradition too. I make a point to stop under it and give the kids a smooch. I believe that sometimes it is the simple things that make the best memories. So go ahead! Add some mistletoe to your decorations and make some special holiday memories of your own. Hope you have as much fun kissing in your house as we do in ours!

Thanksgiving in L.A.

This past weekend we went up to the L.A. area for Thanksgiving #2. It just so happened that on this day it was pouring rain, even hailing while we were driving up there. As annoying as it was to drive in that kind of weather, it definitely put us in a holiday mood. Kinda sad when a little bit of rain makes it finally seem like winter in southern California.

After being buzzed in and riding the elevator up a floor, we arrived at my sister and brother in law's place. We ate so much wonderful Thanksgiving food!.... I really need to go on a diet asap.She made delicious cinnamon ice cream. Maybe she'll give me the recipe and I can post it- it was soooo good! It was so nice to be with family and just hang out and enjoy each other's company. The kids also got into the hat box. They had lots of fun with that! I definitely recommend involving hats in any type of get together. Always makes for fun memories!

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