Saturday, August 29, 2009

Now What?

We spend so much of our time running around from activity to activity, that the random day like today (one that's not packed full of things to do) throws us! Alex threw a fit this morning when he heard that there was no school, no church and no errands to run LOL. I explained that it was a day for us to hang out as a family and his answer...ok but where are we going?

Hmmm maybe I need to work harder to build some downtime into our days.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gluten Free Crockpotting

Ever since Eric went gluten free I've tried to balance my love of cooking against an ongoing effort to eat healthy within the bounds of what Eric can actually eat. At times I find it MOST unfair that going gluten free helped him lose 30 pounds while not helping me at all...but that's the way the cookie crumbles I guess.

One great resource I wanted to share with any fellow crockpotters like me is Stephanie's A Year of Slow Cooking Blog. Tonight we're cooking yet another of her recipes!

Crockpots can make any meal planning momma's afternoon easier! And when you're trying to avoid dairy, wheat and corn like us, it sure helps to not be staring into the pantry at 5 pm hoping inspiration is going to jump out at you!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

End of Year Party and an Incredibly Moist Cake Recipe

Alex and I had a lot of fun whipping up some super yummy snacks for his end of year bash. I'm just getting around to posting this since the start of Preschool has kept me so busy, but this recipe deserves its five minutes of fame and then some!

I always love a new recipe but a new healthy recipe is just great! Recently there was a lot of discussion in one of my Mom's groups about the "Sprite Cake." This cake was a huge hit with my weight watchers crowd back in the day since it cuts all the oil and eggs out of the recipe helping to keep down the calories and fat content.

The added bonus is the INCREDIBLE moistness of these cakes. won't believe it until you try it.

Are you ready...

Take one box of cake mix (any kind) and mix it with 10 ounces of regular soft drink (I used Coke with a chocolate cake, and Sprite with a yellow cake). Add two TBSPs of sour cream, mix it up and bake as a cake or cupcakes. That's it! :)

For the frosting I like to buy regular frosting, whatever happens to be on sale for the week, and make my own lighter whipped frosting. Just put a can of frosting into your kitchen aid (or a bowl and use a hand mixer), add any flavorings you might like, and whip the frosting on medium to high for 4 or 5 minutes. Voila, yummy, light, whipped frosting.

Since this recipe didn't involve any eggs, or oil, Alex got to do the honors of pouring in the coke and turning on the mixer. I handled the sprinkles, only because of a previous Easter cookie incident that involved having to re-sweep and mop all the floors! :)

Hope you Enjoy, the kiddos in Alex's class sure did!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Alex is Starting School...

Ok Preschool, but still I have to drop him off, he has to take himself to the bathroom, he has lessons with weekly tests to see how he's doing...sounds like school to me!

Things seem to be changing so fast that days like today when I get a chance to step back and really look at what all has happened recently I'm just amazed.

A month after ordering it, Alex's new bedroom furniture is in, delivered, installed and finally incorporated in his room! I happened to stumble across the exact bedding I wanted for his room on clearance at Target today so Thank you very much Aunt Christine, Alex loves his birthday gift from you and Derek! See how wisely momma spends his gift cards! :)

Alex is super excited about the newly decorated bedroom.

Tomorrow's our first "First day of school photo!" How bittersweet!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Gluten Free Goodness

Going gluten free had a lot of positive health benefits for our family, but man does it make shopping, cooking, and snacking a whole lot tougher. A few weeks ago I got an email from a great company called GoPicnic asking if I would be interested in reviewing some of their specialty snack boxes. They have vegetarian, kosher, and best of all GLUTEN FREE (GF) boxes full of great tasting treats. I immediately shot off a response offering to taste test anything they could send that was GF. Eric is also avoiding corn, but even then, 4 out of the 5 boxes they sent me were perfect for a quick after work snack, travel food, or best of all since he flies all the time, food to eat at the airport.

If you are looking to try these meals out I HIGHLY recommend the family pack of gluten free snack packs. Here are a few of my favorites. My son, husband and myself all took samples and tasted items in the boxes. We all loved the cookies, the trail mixes, and the beef jerky. My three year old didn’t care for the sunflower crunch, but I loved it. None of us liked the cheese in the boxes, but we’re all a bit spoiled with nice, fresh deli cheese. Outside of the cheese we devoured the boxes.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. The great people at GoPicnic have teamed up with us to give one lucky reader a sample pack.

Read how to enter below and spread the word about this great gluten free giveaway!

Contest Rules: VISIT, and then come back and tell me how you could use some of their boxes! Camp, back to school, travel, how could these meals make gluten free, or dealing with allergies, more convenient for you.

To receive these extra opportunities for entries, you must fulfill the first REQUIRED entry. But for extra entries, you can:
* Tell your own story about how going gluten free has turned your life upside down.
* Tweet the contest with the following text “Traveling the Tightrope Gluten Free Giveaway—GoPicnic Makes Gluten Free Life Convenient:”. Leave the Twitterlink in your comment.
* Blog about the contest - add a link to Traveling the Tightrope and the Sponsor GoPicnic
* Add Traveling the Tightrope widget (on the right under the blogroll) to your site OR add Traveling the Tightrope to your blog roll.
*Become a Traveling the Tightrope follower.

One person will be randomly chosen when the contest ends on Friday, 21st at midnight CST. I will contact the winner directly through email or the blog link that you leave when commenting.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Beach Cake

I loved this cake! Not only was it right up my ally being pretty simple and yet impressive looking, it tasted fantastic! I'll be the first to admit that I typically go overboard with my son's birthday parties, but I did make an attempt this year to keep myself in check with everything but the cake.

Our decor consisted of a few inexpensive banners and one beach bucket full of snacks, some paper plates and napkins and we were set. We did go in with most of the family and get an inflatable water slide for Alex's birthday present this year. Throw that in with a regular kiddie pool, and the inflatable soccer goal Alex got last year for his birthday, and my backyard became a kids inflatable land dream. :)

Then there was the cake. My brother joined our decorating team this year and made such notable contributions as the teddy graham chicken fight, and the bouy. My sister carefully crafted a kayak, helped with the bouy and served as general managing director of the decorations, and I was the brains behind the surfer, the beach babes, the lifeguard and the tree. All together we got a nifty cake that served the 50 or so people who came with very little leftover.

I used 3 boxes of funfetti cake mix to make the 11 x 15 cake, a thin 8 inch round and two cupcakes so I could test the results before the crowd. :) Once both cakes were cook, I put them in the fridge over night to lock in the moisture. The day before the party I brought them back to room temp, arranged the 8 inch round in pieces to create the beach and added a crumb coat to make frosting it easier. Once the crumb coat had set for a bit I tinted store bough whipped white frosting with orange extract (colorless) and did a white layer over the entire cake. I quickly added finely blended graham crackers (they were powder like consistency) all over the beach by patting them into the icing. Then I tinted another can of whipped white frosting blue for the water and mixed it with the white to create white caps in the water. Then came the fun with the teddy grahams and gummy drops rolled and cut up into shapes. Here see for yourself!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Prep Day

We've been prepping for Alex's party all week. We always use entertaining as an excuse to get the house in tip top shape. And I entertain enough that we get a good deep clean once a month or so. Between, cleaning, decluttering, shopping, baking, and more cleaning you would think we would be exhausted...but nope I love this!

Last night Alex and I made his cake. An 11x15 funfetti cake, and an 8 inch round funfetti cake, and two funfetti cupcakes. There's a method to my madness! :) I always recommend making a single cupcake out of any cake you make. Just use a small spoonfull of the batter. that way you get a preview of what you're going to serve. :) The 11x15 cake will be a beach cake, and the smaller 8 inch round will be carved on the corner to give rise to the actual beach portion (pictures later today).

Ever year this is one of my favorite parts of Alex's birthday. My sister comes to town and together we spend far to much time making his birthday cake. I love the time with my sister, love knowing I made Alex's cake when I see his face the next day.

Here's the last two years...

plus about a zillion of these

Then the next year...

And a ton of cupcakes decorated in boats, planes and cars. (We did a Planes, Trains and Automobiles party :).

This year it's surfs up and a beach cake. And I promised no I did brownies instead. I really just can't help myself! :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Three Years Old Today


Hard to believe that three years ago today we were in a hospital room in Dallas, anxiously waiting for Baby A to make an appearance. We didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl, how little sleep we were going to get, and I asked Eric yesterday if he could believe it had been three years and he laughed and said Yes. men are so funny that way...

Alex was 7 lbs 6 oz when he was born and 21 inches long.

Two Months

Six Months
Nine Months

One Year

By two he was thirty pounds and 34 1/2 inches

and now he's hovering right around 35 lbs and 37 inches tall.

Growing, growing, growing! We had the first of three celebrations planned last night and had a wonderful time celebrating with some golf, some pool time and some cake.

For those of you checking back in, here's a walk down memory lane and an absolute OVERLOAD of pictures from the last year. I snuck in a few sneak peaks of our family photo session for those brave enough to watch the whole montage! :)