Maverick “Mad Dog” Miller

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Maverick is growing up!

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Lola especially loves to snuggle him while he sleeps.

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She loves to say goodnight to him :)

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Those eyes!

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He loves to lick ears…Doing crunches was near impossible because I was laughing so hard! IMG 3675

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Valentine’s Day

I finally got my hair done! Amazing what a good mood it gave me just booking the appointment.

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Here’s what it looks like now! Thanks for the endives, California Endive! I’m making these with them.

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Valentine’s Day breakfast was Pink Heart-Shaped Whole Wheat Pancakes! I used our family’s recipe and just mixed everything in a freezer-size Ziploc bag and added pink food coloring. Snipped the end off the corner and made hearts! The girls were in heaven.

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The doorbell rang and it was a motorcycle tire. : / Talk about anti-climatic! Plus it was the wrong size, so we had to send it back and get a new one.

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Maverick was happy with it:

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I was happy with my box of See’s candy! All Milk Chocolate Butters. The BEST! Mmm :) I sent Matt to work with a See’s Bordeaux egg, Cadbury eggs (I don’t get the hype but the boy LOVES them), and a card.  

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My grandpa picked Ada up to go to an adorable Valentine’s party with her friends! They decorated cookies, made Valentines, and played. She wore ALL pink in honor of the holiday :)

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Matt & I dropped the girls with my mom for a slumber party! They made the most adorable Valentines and had a blast with their Nonnie! Then we went to SLO for a run. We planned on going to the shooting range, but got up there too late. Then we went to Firestone to get tri-tip sandwiches and they were all OUT of tri-tip!!!! We were so sad! We ended up trying out the new Splash Cafe Grill downtown and were pleasantly surprised! It took us forever to decide since we were set on Firestone, but I got the Crab Melt and it was insanely delicious.

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It’s funny, when we were first married – this probably would’ve been classified as a “bad” Valentine’s day. But since having children and being busy busy busy…we were just so happy to have time together! Amazing how your perspective changes. We didn’t care that most of our plans fell through. We were just glad to be able to talk without being interrupted and eat without having to take someone potty or prevent a meltdown. :)

When we came home – the Valentine’s Fairy had left a gift for us! In Matt’s family, their parents do this every year and the girls loved their balloons & we’re loving the gourmet food inside!  

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Matt had been crazy busy with something every night that week. The girls went to bed before he got home, so they were missing him big time. Ada woke up crying and I went in, took her potty, gave her a drink of water, and she was still crying. I put her in bed next to Matt and she grabbed a hold of his arm and went right to sleep. She just needed her Papa :)    

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Hope you all had a great Valentine’s Day! xoxo

Shopping Trip & Missing Your Kids

My mom and I went up to Gilroy & San Jose for a little getaway & shopping trip last month. It was awesome! Look at us in our new stripes & skinny jeans :) We definitely have the same taste when it comes to style!

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It’s weird being away from the children that you are accustomed to being with 24/7. I yearn for quiet when I’m with them. Then when I have it – it feels awkward. But nice! When we ate out at Cheesecake Factory, my mom & I both said how quiet it was compared to when we’ve been there before with both girls!

Marc texted me this pic of Ada putting on her shades after he and Matt had gone surfing :) 

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And Matt sent me this picture of the girls visiting Nana & Bobba :) 

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The second night I was gone, Ada called in tears saying that she wanted me. It broke my heart! I welled up in Macy’s and just wanted to be there to hold her. I told her to go sleep with Mommy’s pillow and that I’d come snuggle her when I got home in a couple of hours. That made her happy :)

I got these adorable flats at Nordstrom Rack – the best! I also found a pair of Brooks PureConnects that felt like clouds on my feet…but they were too big :( 

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I came home to my babies and was a much better mother. I need to remember to schedule away time because I come back refreshed and recharged. It’s about time for another break. Girls’ night anyone?? :)

I’ll leave you with this: Ada as a fairy. My mom got the girls these dress up clothes for Christmas and they’ve been loving them! Ada’s poses crack me up. She loves all things girly!

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Easy Microwave Caramels & Gingerbread Houses

First of all, let me give you the easiest caramel recipe in the history of caramel making. These little beauties are made in the microwave! The only tricky thing is getting to know your microwave and how long you need to cook them. Once you figure that out – you can bust them out every year and impress your friends and family! My Nana bought these plastic wrappers from a place in UT, but you could just use waxed paper if you can’t get your hands on any.

Easy Microwave Caramels
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 pound (2¼ cups) brown sugar
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Butter a 9x13 pan. Combine first 4 ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 17 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Remove and add the vanilla, stir well to incorporate. Pour into the pan and let cool. Cut into small rectangles and wrap in cellophane or waxed paper wrappers. Enjoy!

 

Now for some more Christmastime fun! We always go to Santa Barbara for the holiday sales…Ada loves to go try on lipgloss at the MAC counter :)

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We made gingerbread houses at Devin & Liz’s…it was so much fun!!

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Ada made her own Candyland:

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Becca made a Tribal Village, complete with teepee and bonfire!

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Devin & Liz made a Metropolis with Teddy Grahams ice skating in the middle! Some of them were even on one leg/paw. It was so cute.

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Sean made a Gingerbread House with the cutest cars & best garden, in true Portland style!

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Matt & I made Santa’s Semi Truck!

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Santa needs to work on his driving skills. :)

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I was pretty proud of my cinnamon bear Santa :)

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Napa Ragnar 2013 Recap

In September, I ran my second Ragnar Relay and my very first as a Team Captain! We were the Wet Bandits and had a team made up of 12 awesome family members & friends. This was my 2nd with Rach, Jared had done at least one before, and I think it was everyone else’s first! I am SO proud of my team!!

Jared, Rachel, Lindsay, me, Matt, & Casey – Van 1 at the start line in Golden Gate Park, SF!

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I was runner 2 and was completely unprepared for how fast Lindsay was going to run! I was sitting in the van at 10 AM when she rounded the corner and had to scramble to get my stuff together. I was running and trying to pin my number on. haha She talked the whole time before about how slow she’d be and how she’d take forever…not the case! I am so proud of my little sis!! 

My first leg was just unreal! The scenery was breathtaking and the hills were killer. It was 5.84 miles with a total climb of 1,023 feet. 

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All through the Presidio, along Land’s End…

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On the beach where we had family pictures taken…that sand was deep and my ankles felt it afterward. Also what no make-up and no sleep plus 4 miles looks like! I am wearing lipgloss, but that’s it. Can’t run without it!

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Across the Golden Gate Bridge! I’ve now walked and run across this bridge.

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The fog made it look like the cables plugged into the clouds. It was so beautiful!

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After my first leg I handed off to Rachel! Whose then-boyfriend-now-husband Jared was very protective of and made sure we stopped exactly where she wanted us to :)

We borrowed my Aunt Liz’s megaphone and had way too much fun with that thing! A definite must for every future Ragnar!

Melissa, our 12th runner in van 2, handing off to Lindsay, runner 1! I love the intensity in this pic. Go Meliss!!!

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All lit up for my night run at 8:40 PM! Safety first. 

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This run was through Petaluma and stunk to high heaven (literally). I was running through cow farms, the road wasn’t lit at all, and when oncoming traffic came, their lights temporarily blinded me. Plus I only saw one other runner out there! Scary stuff. Bushes and random things snuck up on me because it was so dark and kept making me jump. One time when a car blinded me, I thought the white on the road was the shoulder line. Wrong – it was the dirt. So I rolled my left ankle and hobbled on. I got a little rain toward the end but nothing too bad. Needless to say, I was happy to be done with the 4.71 miles! I was really surprised by this because during Ragnar SoCal my night run at 3AM was my best and most favorite run.  

I sat in the van and iced my ankle, cheering on my teammates and trying to rest. Sometime after my run, during Casey’s leg, it started to torrentially rain! It was a downpour like I’ve only seen in the tropics! The forecast hadn’t called for rain, we were all expecting heat. Poor Matt was already soaked while waiting for Casey and was doing pushups to stay warm. It was freezing out there!

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The handoff from Casey to Matt. We passed Casey in a forest and he looked like a Cullen! The words machine, robot, and speed demon were all used as we passed him. He was flying through that  pouring rain!

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After Matt’s run we had a minor hiccup with the other van not being there in time and he was calling but his phone was so wet that we couldn’t hear him. So he waited at the exchange for a bit and he totally killed his mile time. Something about the rain at night made both of those guys fly! We took showers at the college and it was open-style…worse than Girls Camp! Good thing we can laugh about everything :) We tried our best to sleep, and most did. Thanks to Jared & Rach who found a spot to sleep outside so that the rest of us could stretch out on a bench! I barely slept because I was so paranoid about missing Melissa and sleeping through the text that she was almost there! 

The van 2 to van 1 handoff!  

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As I was getting ready for my longest run, I couldn’t find my hat. I went into panic mode because we saw a hat that looked exactly like mine in the showers the night before. After about 5 minutes of searching our filthy van, I finally found it at the bottom of my bag just in time to get the bracelet from Lindsay and go! 

At 7:41 AM I started my third and final leg. It was 8.41 miles with a total climb of 555 feet. I ran from just east of Sonoma to a bit south of Napa. Van 2 took this pic of me moving verrry slowly (my ankle was swollen & bruised but my compression socks helped)! I saw lots of roadkill on this one. 

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The vineyards were stunning! I took this picture right before the rain started. It rained. And hailed. And rained some more.

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I ended up on a freeway for a good portion of the run, and there was so much runoff coming down at me that I’d lose my footing a bit and water would wash over my feet! My shoes felt like big sponges and I was soaked to the core.

I decided about mile 4 that I was just going to go crazy and have fun amidst the cars and trucks splashing me with mud and water. So I danced/ran my little heart out to Van Halen’s “Jump” and every other song on my playlist and made every big rig honk as they drove by! Boy was I grateful for my hat and glasses with all of that rain coming down.

Finally made it, and we realized that our team name was literal. We were all SO WET!! Casey designed the awesome decals for our vans and Stacy made them out of vinyl! They looked so good and really helped while running because you could spot your team so easily.  People LOVED our name! Credit goes to Lindsay for the 2AM stroke of genius :) 

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We were all STARVING and hit up Napa’s In-n-Out. Casey was stoked:

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A burger and fries have never tasted so good!

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After eating, we passed through Napa and cheered Katie on and some of our other runners in Van 2. There were vineyards, fields of flowers, and Eric running barefoot! I was glad that the rain bypassed them for the most part. 

We then headed to the finish line and waited for our final runner!  

It was so fun to run across the finish line as a team! I cannot believe what a huge feat an event like this is and had such a blast. My first Ragnar was 110 degrees and my second was freezing rain. Talk about two extremes! Both times I have come away with such a sense of accomplishment. When and where will you get the opportunity to run with your friends and have them cheer you on in the night/rain/crazy terrain?! Not to mention how you realize what your body is capable of.  

Cousins/sisters :)

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Bandit with bling! I wish they’d give out the Gold Rush medal no matter what year you ran SoCal & Napa :)

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Got a massage that felt like heaven after all of that running!

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We drove our vans to church the next day :)

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Thank you to all of my awesome teammates: Lindsay, Rachel, Jared, Matt, Casey, Stacy, Maddy, Katie, Eric, Amy, & Melissa!!! You guys amazed me and it was so much fun to run with you! Also our incredible volunteer – Devon. He got soaked setting up and worked through the night for us so THANK YOU! And our driver, my dad. He got out of the van to meet Matt when the rest of us stayed in the van to stay dry, harassed us while running with the megaphone, and stayed up all through the night to drive! Not to mention the fact that our van was broken into in SF and his laptop and everything was stolen. It was a crazy ride! 

I’m ready for another one…who’s up for it? Or a Ragnar Trail? 

Christmas 2013

Why hellooooo there! Happy New Year! Can I still say that on January 16th? I didn’t mean to take such a long break from blogging, but it was a much needed one. I worked hard in December and was a bit burnt out…the post-holiday migraine told me so. :)

We had a wonderful Christmas and I hope that you did too! Here’s a recap.

We went to see Santa in SLO and Ada was so cute with him. He asked what she wanted and she said, “A pink scooter!” He said, “And what else?” She answered, “That’s all!”

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Lola was absolutely terrified of Santa. I was the heartless mother who wanted to get a picture of her screaming and send it into Ellen but my mom couldn’t bear seeing Lola in such distress! It was pretty sad. So I have a picture of sweet Nonnie rescuing Lola from the grips of creepy Santa.

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We enjoyed Christmas magic…Ada was having trouble falling asleep one night so I said she could come lay on the couch by me. I left all the twinkle lights on and I said, “It’s so magical with just the Christmas tree lights on.” and she said, “Yeah, it’s like Disneyland.” Then immediately fell asleep.

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I love these ornaments that the girls made at church! These will have a permanent spot on my tree forever.

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We had family time with Uncle Sean and Auntie Becca in town!

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Excited little girls going to bed on Christmas Eve!

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The tree before Santa and his elves went to bed! :)

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And my phone died after I took this picture. It was kind of a good thing because then I was focused on the girls during Christmas morning and not on taking pictures and videos. I put Matt in charge of that and he made this beautiful video. It’s titled the way Lola says Christmas :)

As I was excitedly wrapping all of the gifts that I’d bought and made for my family, I kept having this thought and shared it on Facebook: You know the excitement you feel as you watch someone open a gift that you’ve been waiting for them to open? The perfect gift that you know they’ll love and have been wanting? It’s the best! I keep thinking that this is how our Heavenly Father must feel as we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and allow his Atonement, the greatest gift of all, to wash us clean and make us whole. I hope you all had a wonderful time with your loved ones…Merry Christmas! :)

Avila Beach Break

We took a mini vacation up to Avila Beach last week thanks to Matt’s aunt & uncle! Thanks you guys!

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The girls and I had a blast exploring the property while Papa was at work. San Luis Bay Inn would be perfect for a family reunion!

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It was perfect because I cleaned my house and then we left. So when we came back on Friday night it was all ready for Ada’s bday party on Saturday morning because these two little loves couldn’t destroy it :)IMG 2771

We were so excited to have a little getaway at our favorite beach. It was so beautiful because it was freezing cold and the moon was full. We are used to being there at least once a week in the summertime so this was a really nice change of pace.

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One night, my mom came up and met us at the new Ocean Grill for dinner. I shared the filet and scallops with my mom. The filet mingon was good, but none of us were impressed with the scallops. For the price, it was very surprising that no bread or salads were served.

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The day we checked out, the girls and I went to lunch with Matt at Firestone Grill then headed to the Mac store to see if the keyboard on my lappy can be cleaned. Short answer – no. Not unless I want to spend tons of money.

I asked Ada if she had any change and she goes, “I’m just a kid!” Then I said, “Well you usually have a nickel in your pocket or something.” Then she came over and showed me her empty pockets.

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Me in Apple drinking Dr. Pepper…which is what was spilled on my keyboard by a certain 2-year-old.

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Pottery Barn at Christmastime is one of my most favorite things! Ada really took a liking to that fluffy bird ornament. And Lola thought that the basket was for a baby to sleep in :)

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We love Avila & SLO…so happy that they’re in our backyard!

Kidoodle TV!

I participated in a Blog Blast program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Kidoodle.TV. I received a promotional item and a free trial as a thank you for participating.

I have always worried about my daughters having access to wholesome entertainment. We have been extremely careful with what they are allowed to watch and the type of shows we allow in our home. One time, Ada was watching Sesame Street online and a suggested video came up afterward that was NOT Sesame Street! I hurried over and turned it off before anything inappropriate was seen or heard, but it was enough to make me stop letting her use the browser for videos. 

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Kidoodle.TV solves the problem of unwanted videos showing up. It has videos and shows that are age appropriate and meant for  ages 12 and under. You can set up profiles for up to 5 children and customize the colors and characters to their liking. Another huge bonus: no ads! Both of my girls love it, and I love the peace of mind it gives me. 

Kidoodle.TV is having a giveaway!!!

  • Try Kidoodle.TV for FREE and enter by December 31, 2013 to win 1 of 10 tablets or 1 of 10 Kidoodle.TV year-long subscriptions!
  • To enter the giveaway, go to Kidoodle.TV to sign up for a free trial. Follow the on-screen directions and submit!

Easy peasy. Good luck!

Follow Kidoodle.TV on Twitter & Facebook


Ada’s Nutcracker Suite 4th Birthday Party & Sugar Plum Surprise Cupcakes

My first baby is 4 years old! She had a party with her Sunbeam class, cousins, & playgroup friends.

I was pretty proud of the invitation I put together on PicMonkey (I don’t do Photoshop)! I blurred out our address, that’s why it looks funny.

We decided on the theme because I’ve had these adorable cupcake toppers and liners for a couple of years and still hadn’t used them! We were watching the Nutcracker ballet on Netflix one day and Ada loved the dancing and everything so this idea was born and she loved it!

We had pomegranate lemonade and water to drink, chips, carrots, broccoli, & dip, orange slices, grapes, raspberries, and apples to eat. I love living near a Fresh & Easy again!! I made sure we had all finger food for little hands :)

I borrowed my best friend’s beautiful Nutcrackers to decorate with…they were perfect! Thanks T :)

We had Nutcracker magnets the kids colored (& left on my fridge…I brought them to church the next day to give to everyone).

Then we played pin the star on the stable with a wall-cling Nativity that a Secret Santa left for us. The kids were adorable while playing it and helped each other out so much. A couple of them (including the birthday girl) didn’t want to wear the blindfold. Kind of defeats the purpose of the game, but they were all still so tickled when someone put the star on top.

Then we sang Happy Birthday to Ada and she blew out her candle. Lovely see food :)

Ada requested pink and purple cupcakes with pink frosting just like the sugar plum fairy. Then I told the kids that if Ada was a good girl then the Nutcracker would show up at her birthday party!

TA-DA!

Ada & Evelyn were both stoked on Mr. Nutcracker, the rest…not so much. It turned into beat up the Nutcracker!!

Everyone keeps telling me what a good sport Matt is, but the truth is that he loves it :) We both do!

We had the Nutcracker Ballet playing on TV; such beautiful music. Reminds me of being a snowflake and soldier when I was in it as a little girl!

In the party favor bags we had a Nutcracker sticker scene, assorted Nutcracker Christmas tree ornaments, and bouncy balls.

Thank you to all of you that came and showed Ada love on her birthday! She’s still talking about the time that all of her friends came over and played and ate cupcakes :)

Gray, Evelyn, Emma, Ada, Lola, Sephora, & Ava. Cole & Darby didn’t want to be in the group shots :)

Everyone just needs to look at Ava (white coat) in this picture!! bahaha

Happy Birthday Miss Ada! Love you and your independent, smart ways. Can’t believe you’re a big 4-year-old already! xoxo

The cupcakes were so much fun to make! I used the flavorings and food colorings that McCormick sent me, along with the OXO cupcake corer!

We had the Sugar Plum Fairy, Nutcracker, Christmas Tree, and Rat King. Ewww. Nobody wanted him!

Aren’t they pretty?

I flavored the batter and frosting with raspberry extract, then used the food colorings for dusty rose and purple.

And here’s the surprise! M&Ms tucked into the center of the cupcake :) It was so much fun to watch everyone get to the middle!

Sugar Plum Surprise Cupcakes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: cupcake
Cuisine: dessert
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1 can cream cheese frosting
  • M&Ms candies
  • Food coloring
  • Raspberry extract
Instructions
  1. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Add 1 Tablespoon raspberry extract and mix to incorporate flavor.
  2. Divide batter into two equal parts.
  3. To one half, add 12 drops red food coloring and 4 drops blue to make dusty rose.
  4. To the other half, add 24 drops red food coloring and 16 blue drops to make pretty purple.
  5. Line 24 cupcake tins with liners.
  6. Drop Tablespoons full of the pretty purple cake batter into the liners. Top with Tablespoons of the dusty rose cake batter.
  7. Bake cupcakes as directed, until a toothpick comes out cleanly.
  8. Let cool completely before coring and frosting.
  9. Once cupcakes are completely cooled, use your OXO cupcake corer to remove the centers of the cupcakes.
  10. Fill each cupcake with M&Ms candies (I found that 1 teaspoon was perfect).
  11. For the frosting, add 6 drops of red food coloring plus 2 drops of blue to make dusty rose. Add 1 teaspoon raspberry extract to flavor. Mix until the color is completely even throughout.
  12. Frost cupcakes starting in the center to cover the candies and work your way to the edge.
  13. Enjoy!

 

Early December Happenings

Lola just being cute after church in a sweater dress.

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When Matt pulled down my mom’s Christmas decorations, he found my old Emerald Elegance Barbie from 1995! I still had it in the box because I heard as a kid that they’d be worth something later on. On eBay they were only going for $30 so I let my excited daughter play with it instead :)

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Ada helped me decorate the tree and I haven’t moved a single ornament. It’s just too cute how they’re all clustered together!

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Most days, Lola wakes up from her nap happy. Some days she just needs extra snuggles & “touch cheek” time.

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Matt put lights on our house! The first time ever!! So exciting, I love having them on every night. He looks like a raccoon with his eyes glowing in this pic.

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On Ada’s birthday, I made crêpes for breakfast and put sprinkles in them. She was on cloud 9 and Lola insisted it was her birthday too :)

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Lola + Nutella crêpe = monster!

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That night I made our advent calendar activity to go out to frozen yogurt as a family since it was Ada’s 4th birthday!

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Ada wrote her first letter to Santa! Well, started to. She started to cry when her R didn’t turn out right. Then got really upset when the letter T went into the letter N. I kept telling her that her letters were beautiful and for a barely 4-year-old, she was doing a fabulous job! She insisted that I write the rest of the letter for her. After that, she wrote on the envelope and wrote POLE all by herself (with us spelling it aloud)!

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I just love all of our cards coming in the mail! Makes me so happy to watch the holder fill up and hear about all of your families!

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In love with our mantel, fireplace, and stockings. Merry & bright!

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Ada got a birthday treat from Bishop on Sunday and he gave Lola one too :) Cuties in their Sunday best!

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Lola while watching the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. She said, “Cozy.” Wasn’t Elder Nelson’s talk awesome?! I was in tears with the children singing.

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Hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas season!