Fancy Nancy Birthday Party!

Can't believe how fast my sweet nieces are growing up! Meg threw the best 2-4 yr old birthday party I have ever been to. Whew, with 10-12 kids in attendance, it was quite the busy backyard of the neighborhood for a few hours! We had beautiful blue sky and surprisingly high temps - 88 degree weather in APRIL!

The kids were all in heaven, Meg planned lots of fun activities to keep things moving along - it worked perfectly (*note to self* hire Meg for all future children's parties!) :) She had different "stations" set up - the kids absolutely loved it. After the pinata (see below), everyone was so pooped from the hot weather and worn off sugar rush, it was time to all go home and take naps! Of which, I will say, Eric obeyed...as soon as we got home, he conked out for 3 hours. ;) Don't need to ask him twice for a nap...he must have been the best sleeper in the world when he was a baby. ;)

Here, I am painting Fancy Annie Claire's finger nails PINK - she was very excited about that. Look at her little sweet face - it is adorable. Also, she was very good at "holding very still" - I was impressed that every little girl seemed to know the importance of that!

Fancy Molly with her fairy wings on...she and her friend from soccer are making fancy necklaces/bracelets. This station was a HIT!

The Birthday Girls' Daddy reading a Fancy Nancy book during lunchtime. They were all so attentive!
Candle blowing, singing, and cupcake decorating time!! Everyone loved this; between frosting, cupcakes, and all kinds of candy to throw on there, who wouldn't be interested? ;)

A Fancy Nancy Pinata! I loved that all the balloons, napkins, plates, etc had "Ooh La La" on it - so girly and fun. So this was a new concept to me: the pinata had about 25 strings coming from its underneath and each girl got to pick one string to pull...the magic string pulled the bottom out and all the candy came tumbling out! A little less aggressive and potentially dangerous than the old school "using a baseball bat, try to annihilate the heck out of the pinata...all with your eyes closed!" This idea was much better for little ones, especially fancy girls. :)

Eric and I had such a fun time - thanks for having us, Meg and Josh! And a very special Happy Birthday to Molly and Anne! Glad we could celebrate and join in the fun!


Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!! I want to challenge myself as well as everyone else to remember that "going green" shouldn't just be 24 hours per year that we think about!

Here are a few others we share our beautiful earth with:

http://earthday.net/footprint/ - take this Earth Day Footprint quiz and see the impact you are having on our planet!


Soccer Season!

Spring soccer is in full swing...here are a couple shots for a game a few weeks ago. I love when the games are on sunny afternoons; it is such a relaxing Sunday activity to sunbathe, chat with the other fans (aka wives) ;) and watch some quality soccer being played. Go FC Regal Pumas!! ;)


More Pictures...

Being introduced to the world outside his Mama's cozy womb! Proud Mama and Daddy!

Look at this sweet litle face? And spiky hair! I love it....wish I could just jump into this picture to kiss his soft skin! Without even meeting him yet, his Aunt Bets is already SMITTEN.


My Nephew, LUCA!

I am shouting from the rooftops - my precious nephew is finally here!!!!

My beautiful sister, Katie, with her sweet baby, Luca Ellis Walker.

The original due date was May 8th, but due to uncertain circumstances, low fluid throughout the pregnancy, and breech position, his scheduled C-section was April 21st.

Well yesterday, Katie's fluid was only 3, so she was admitted to the hospital for a c-section. At 9:15 pm, April 15th, Luca Ellis Walker was born weighing 5 lbs 14oz. Luca in currently in the ICU, to be closely monitored and looked at for further testing.

God is so AMAZING (why am I surprised each time?), but it blows my mind how He has had His hands on this little baby and on Katie and John, who are learning about trusting Him with the most precious gift they have ever been given. Please pray for this little baby, sweet Luca, to continue to fight and grow strong.

I can't wait to meet him; 5 weeks from now (when my ticket out to Seattle is) feels like a reeeeally long time.


Coconut Cupcakes

Easter and spring are upon us this week! And I have the best coconut cupcake recipe to share with you. No, really, the BEST. They are light, moist, sweet, tropical - the perfect prelude to summer. I admit that I did not alter very much in this recipe...most of the time, I am trying to sneak in some ground flaxseeds (for healthy Omega-3's!), grated veggies (yes, even in cakes), or whole-wheat flour. But the line had to be drawn this time; I could not bring myself to changing the recipe - it just seemed so wrong. It is perfection as is. The only change I made was to reduce the amounts of butter in both the batter as well as the frosting. Also, I prefer Neu-chatel cheese instead of cream cheese, because it is much lighter, without compromising the creamy taste and texture of the frosting.

Barefoot Contessa's Coconut Cupcakes

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract (SO vital here...this ingredient makes the recipe for me)
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 c. buttermilk
7 oz sweetened, shredded coconut
For the frosting:
1 package Neu-chatel cheese (8 oz) at room temperature
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (again, SO GOOD)
3/4 lb confectioners' sugar, sifted
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in about two thirds of the coconut.
Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar (important to sift, to avoid lumps) and mix until smooth.
Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Now the best part - eat and enjoy! ;)


Oma's 89th Birthday!

Well, if your 89th birthday isn't a milestone, I don't know what is! My Oma (Swedish Grandmother) will be NINE DECADES old next year- she was born in 1920. It just amazes me how much she has gone through in her life. She was born and raised on a farm in North Dakota, as the oldest of 8 children, she certainly was no stranger to strenuous life/work on a farm! As a school girl and teenager, she suffered through the Great Depression (no, not this current economy slump, but the real thing!); she has always told me, when I ask what it was like, how thankful her family was to be able to live off the food they grew & harvested on their farm. She met my Opa, got married young, and had to kiss him off to World War II, while she stayed on the homefront nursing their newborn babe. She was only early 20's - just so hard for me to fathom!! In her lifetime, so much history has taken place: The Great Depression, Women's Suffrage, invention of cars, radio, TV, even refrigerators!, World War II, Civil Rights Movement, Vaccines, Airplane travel, Space travel, Berlin Wall, JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr., Vietnam, Internet, AIDS epidemic, and on and on and on. What we read about in our history books, she was reading about in the Sunday paper, or experiencing on a personal level! What a rich life she has had. The stories she would tell (before dementia) were just amazing - my favorite time with her has always been to take walks together and listen to her stories.

I am thankful to have so many other sweet memories of her; learning to make homemade bread & cinnamon rolls, drinking coffee & eating cinnamon toast in bed, numerous hikes in Arizona near Superstition Mountain, eating homemade cactus jelly, watching her do countless crossword puzzles (she sure loved those back in the day), having her and Opa visit each summer, even some while we lived in Germany, just to name a few.

It was an honor to be able to host the celebration of her life and her role in each of our lives. Happy Birthday, Oma!!