Thursday, March 29, 2012

Party Preparations

One great thing about our new, larger house is the ability to actually have guests over. We already held the small family party for Jellybean's birthday, but this Saturday, I'm excited to host a real two year old birthday party and invite some of her little friends.
In preparation, I've been putting together a few things for the party.  Today I put together the gift bags and experimented with some chocolate cupcake toppers. 
The party is musically themed, so I drew a simple note on each bag
 and filled them with some musical goodies.
I decided that the cupcakes were going to need some musical notes as well. I experimented with free-handing some notes and treble clefs.
Sure, they say they are microwavable, but I prefer the old fashion method.
Make-shift double boiler
Mmmm, melted chocolate goodness
Melted chocolate ready for piping
Free-handed chocolate notes and clefs
chillin' in the fridge
The glue sticks were also chillin' in the fridge.  That's where I keep mine. Is that normal?
 I think these are going to be adorable on the top of each cupcake. Yum.

Tomorrow's task? Baking the cupcakes!

I've been a bit remiss in my posting this week.  Between party planning, discovery of a food allergy and about 20 hours spent watching Korean dramedies, there really hasn't been much time to blog.  I promise a future post on at least two of those excuses. 

Have a Happy Day!

~MJ

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jellybean Turns Two

On Sunday, my little girl turned two!!

Here she is as a newborn:
One year ago:
And here she is now:

We opened a few presents after church. The vacuum was a hit:
Then we drove to my inlaws' for dinner.
Please, no more pictures!



I baked a "sunshine cake" for the occasion.
My attempt at a pretty cake.
Look at those pretty ringlets!
Delicious cake! Who needs a fork?
I had to snap a photo of Jellybean and her Great-Grandmother. She knit the beautiful sweater that Jellybean is wearing.
This was well after bedtime, but the photo op could not wait.
Here's a lot more about Jellybean.  She is two years old and I'm telling you now, here comes trouble...

- She absolutely must touch (or lick) EVERYTHING!
- I swear that she barely eats, but guzzles milk like crazy. A common phrase around the house: "Milk, milk, my milk, milk!"
- She likes to tease her older brother and I have even witnessed her do so until he cries.
- In her mind, every gift she receives automatically has a baby doll in it. 
-She absolutely must do everything by herself stating,"my turn" at every opportunity. (i.e. getting into her own car seat, "cooking" with me, "cleaning" with me, and even getting "dressed").
- I rue the day that she realized that the step stool from the bathroom is also useful for looking over and taking things off of kitchen counters, reaching light switches and even an easier way to climb onto the kitchen table.
 - If she sees a set of animals together (think three cats), she will dub them Mama, Dada and baby regardless of age or gender.
- When she takes off her shoes, she will put them neatly away with the socks tucked into them. I wish she was as tidy with her toys.
- She likes to choose what she wears and has very particular taste.- She says the following almost every morning to indicate what she wants me to carry out of the crib for her, "Owl, other owl, big owl, my bear." Though, with the addition of a new play kitchen the first thing she says in the morning is, "my kitchen!"
- She dances around like a maniac when she is excited and especially when she gets to put on underwear.  (think "She's a Maniac" from Flash Dance)
- She LOVES Caillou.  In fact, she is incapable of staying still unless she is watching that little bald boy on the TV. - I love to hear her sing along to songs on the TV and in the car. She'll also sing along to her favorite songs with me. (Lullaby, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and The ABC Song)
- She can often be caught raising her shoulders, a habit that we're pretty sure she learned from her Daddy.
- Wrestling with Robbie is a fun pastime.
- When Daddy comes home from work she'll whisper, "hide" as he's opening the door to come in. Hiding is one of her favorite things.
- She has decided that she loves her Grandpas and she especially adores her Papa B. I'm pretty sure it's because she can order him around.

She truly is a sweet, fiery, wonderful girl.  We love her!  Happy Birthday, Jellybean!!

Have a Happy Day!

~MJ

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Going Green

We went green for St Patty's Day this last week! I realized on Thursday that none of us had a scrap of green in our closets. I began to have elementary school related anxiety about my children being pinched by others more zealous in their holiday celebrations. So, we headed out to the store to remedy the situation. Then on the day, we held an impromptu photo session. D agreed to be the photographer despite his exasperated sighs. I had to bribe the children to stand still. I don't know why Buddy has a spoon, but hey, it's green, so who am I to complain.
Yep, that's one great spoon.
Apparently, Daddy is doing something that is both funny and disturbing.
Anything to keep from looking at the camera and smiling. Here you can see a hint of the orange leggings my little fashionista chose to go with her denim skirt and green shirt.
Look at that handsome kid! This photo was captured a split second before he pulled a face.



I hope all of your St. Patty's Day celebrations were a success!

Have a Happy Day!

 ~MJ

Come Embrace the Camera with the Anderson Crew!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Caught in the Act

"I think Jellybean got a hold of the camera." 
"How can you tell?"

I'm just glad my camera survived being dropped on the hardwood floor. It's tough keeping a camera away from a climbing two year old.

Joining in on Wordless Wednesday.  Come join in, too!

Have a Happy Day!

~MJ

Weeknight Meal: Easy Baked Ziti

One of our favorite weeknight meals is Baked Ziti.  My husband spent two years in Italy. He claims to know Italian food and has given it his stamp of approval. I'll take that.

Baked Ziti is a grand departure from the pasta meals of my childhood.  I recall a few different pasta dishes: Lasagna (good and basic, but no real spice), Spaghetti with a meat sauce (spices from a store bought mix), Mac and Cheese (of course) and my personal favorite "Spiddle Diddles."  One of my older brothers claims that this last dish was invented when my mother was on food stamps. I haven't verified this claim, but it does kind of make sense.  Spiddle Diddles has three ingredients: Tomato juice, cooked elbow macaroni and a little pepper.  D refuses to eat it.  I craved it during at least one of my pregnancies and required it almost every day.  It's a little weird, I guess, but what's wrong with a little simplicity?

Anyway, Baked Ziti is fairly simple, uses good straightforward ingredients and still manages to be leaps and bounds above my childhood fare.
I got this recipe straight from America's Test Kitchen and have altered it only slightly. Definitely enjoy it with a green salad and some good crusty bread.

Skillet Baked Ziti
From America's Test Kitchen

Ingredients:
1 T olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 ts. red pepper flakes
table salt and ground black pepper
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
3 cups water
12 oz. Ziti (3 3/4 cups, I prefer ziti rigate)
1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 C grated parmesan cheese
1/4 C minced fresh basil leaves
1 C shredded mozzarella cheese

Method:
Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees.

*Measure water & pasta before you begin cooking. Prep Parmesan & basil while pasta cooks.

1. Simmering the Ziti: Combine oil, garlic, pepper flakes & 1/2 ts. salt in a 12-inch, oven safe skillet. Saute over medium-high heat until fragrant (about 1 minute).  Add crushed tomatoes, water, Ziti & 1/2 ts. salt. Cover and cook, stirring often & adjusting heat as needed to maintain vigorous simmer, until Ziti is almost tender (15 to 18 minutes or to package directions).

2. At this point, transfer pasta to an oven safe casserole dish if you didn't have an oven safe skillet.  Stir in cream, Parmesan & Basil. Season w/salt & pepper to taste. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly. Transfer skillet (or casserole dish) to oven. Bake until cheese has melted & browned (about 10 minutes). 

Enjoy!

On a side note: while I was cooking my Ziti this last week, I started to smell something burning.  I couldn't figure it out until I went to put the pasta in the oven. This is what I discovered:
My husband had left one slice of left over pizza in the oven the day before. I guess it was keeping warm in there and when he turned off the oven, he promptly forgot it was there. I managed to turn it to charcoal in my 475 degree oven. I was NOT happy when I discovered this.   Yuck.

Have a Happy Day!

~MJ

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Monday, March 19, 2012

Signs of Spring

The snow is falling outside and all I can do is long for the Spring-like weather of last week. The weather was so mild that I donned my new shoes and went hunting for the signs of Spring in my garden.
My New Shoes!
It is so fun to see what is coming up in my garden this year.  We moved to our new house last Fall when most everything had died back for the year. I'm finding all kinds of little surprises coming up. 
Besides the tulips beginning to peek out, I'm finding lots of pretty early flowers that I don't recognize.
Some surprises that I do recognize and am happy to discover that I didn't kill when I cut it to the ground last Fall.

Glad to see I didn't kill you, Russian Sage!
Maybe I should have cut you back more, Vinca.
I even took a little time and began to Spring-up my new porch. Which seems a little silly right now with snow on the ground.
There's my front porch looking slightly Springy.
I also bought a little backyard friend. Meet my new solar powered owl from Target.
Hi, little owl!
It's time to say goodbye, Snow.  Go away and let us enjoy a little more of that Spring weather!

Have a Happy Day!

~MJ

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Embrace The Camera: New Glasses!

In an effort to use up our flexible spending money from last year, D and I decided to get new glasses.  For whatever reason, I was pretty darn excited to get some new frames. I guess it's just fun to have something new and different.
I slipped on the new frames and began to reminisce about my very first pair of glasses.  I was in 4th grade and picked those mauve and gold frames all by myself.  We purchased them in a mall and I still remember looking across to the other stores with total wonder at how clear everything had become. Such a vivid memory after all of these years.  It shows what an impact clear vision can have on one's life.  I could probably come up with some pretty great analogies with that last statement, but I'll leave that to you.
I went through my old photo album in search of a good picture of me, when I was 10, sporting my new glasses.  I found one that made me so happy.  My grandfather, cousin and me (all wearing glasses. Yes!) on the back patio of my grandparents' home. Here it is for your viewing pleasure:
Pre-braces and rocking my purple Oshkosh overalls.  Very nice!

Have a Happy Day!

~MJ 

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