Minion Cupcakes

Domestic, Kids

How sweet are these little guys?! I made them once for a fundraiser for our dance company in the spring and then this summer, two of the songs our girls danced to were from Despicable Me 2 so I had to make them again. When I posted these on Instagram the first time, one of my besties texted me to ask if I had extra twinkies left. Haha, little did she know I had already set them aside for her. Duh. Bestie love! Natch, the second time she knew I had already hid hers from the children.

They are so simple to make but I keep getting asked how I did it, so here you do. One of the most simple tutorials ever. πŸ˜‰

Minion Cupcakes

24 cupcakes
12 Twinkies (or just half as many Twinkies as cupcakes)
Smarties candies (in Canada these candies are called Rockets)
Chocolate icing (make it slightly thicker than you would to ice a cake)

Minion Cupcakes Minion Cupcakes Minion Cupcakes

First upwrap (duh) and cut all the Twinkies in half, as evenly as possible. If they’re not even, you’ll end up with some mini Minions! This is when I arrange them assembly line style and give them their little personalities! I have found the easiest method is to use a little icing as glue to stick the Smarties on for the eyes, and then draw the arms of the glasses on with the same icing. Then I used a toothpick to scoop just the absolute teeniest amount of icing and make their pupils, then they need smiles ooooof course.

Minion Cupcakes Minion Cupcakes
Minion Cupcakes Minion Cupcakes

This part is pretty simple, just be careful while you do it! Once you have frosted the cupcakes with plain buttercream (or whatever you feel like using), poke a toothpick into each cupcake. Now, very carefully, pick up each Minion and impale him onto the toothpick. πŸ˜‰ This is when you bust out your kitchen tweezers and use chocolate sprinkles for tiny little tufts of hair. Not all Minions have hair, so you can leave some bald if you’d like. Be prepared for cuteness overload, these guys are adorable and always a hit.

Minion Cupcakes
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Homeschool Meal Planning

Domestic, Homeschooling, Kids

With all the lesson planning and grading and keeping the house straight while homeschooling (plus, you know, actually teaching), sometimes menu planning gets pushed aside during the school year. Honestly though, when menu planning slips, mealtimes can become a source of stress. We are about to start our 3rd year and whether it’s getting breakfast on the table to start the day, taking a lunch break or finishing up for the day and starting on dinner (or fielding 10,000 snack requests throughout the day), knowing what you’re going to serve before it even comes up can really make your day a whole lot smoother.

For breakfasts, I like getting up before the kids do (mainly to help my husband get out the door early) and then I can make fairly simple hot breakfasts while I’m waking the kids up. They have said that waking up to the smell of breakfast cooking gets them pumped for the day more than a bowl of cereal could! Also, I try to save cereal for when I’m sick and exhausted. πŸ˜‰

This is my basic menu plan for an average week. Monday breakfast is usually a big deal in an effort to make Monday less awful haha.


Monday – Bacon, eggs any way they want and toast
Tuesday – Pancakes
Wednesday – French Toast
Thursday – Popovers These also make a great lunch snack
Friday – Brown Sugar Muffins

Bento Box Ideas

*Basically, ‘bento box lunches’ are just visually appealing finger foods in a box. My kids love, love, love the happy rice triangles, so I make them all the time.
If it’s a picnic lunch at home or a field trip lunch at the Science Center, it’s easier when it is already put together.
Monday – happy rice triangle, sliced banana, baby carrots, pinwheel ham sandwiches and mini cereal square
Tuesday – happy rice triangle, apple rings, celery sticks, homemade chicken pieces, mini cupcake
Wednesday – happy rice triangle, berries with yogurt, corn, teeny tiny cheese sandwiches, brownie shapes
Thursday – happy rice triangle, orange slices, nuts, mini hot dog octopuses, mini cookie
Friday – spaghetti nest w/ mozzarella ball birds, sliced peaches, pretzels, cute cutout face sandwich, lollipop

Make Ahead Snacks

I usually make these on the weekend and put them on out the ‘lazy Susan’ for the kids to snack on.
Homemade Granola Bars (wrapped in parchment paper)
Chia Seed Peanut Butter Cookies (in zipbags)
Pretzel Bites (in zipbags)
Fruit Roll Ups (rolled in parchment paper)


Most of these recipes are slow cooked on the stove all day, but you can just as easily make them in the slow cooker. Some are quick meals you can make even quicker with a little prep.
Monday – Chili and Cornbread
Tuesday – Chicken Alfredo (prep the chicken earlier in the day and either make your Alfredo sauce in advance)
Wednesday – Dr Pepper Shredded Pork
Thursday – Spaghetti
Friday – Pizza Night (combo game night, so no prep and no cleaning makes the night smoother and way more fun)


I have found it necessary to plan meals and snacks so I can just pull it together or offer it immediately without having to look through the cupboards to see what we have, plan what to make and get started. The time lost throughout the day really adds up, especially when you’re trying to teach two children and a teen and keep your home from falling to shambles!


Week Thirty One Photos

California, Kids

Can we gloss over the 4ish months that I totally neglected posting these pictures? Haha, I did take their weekly photos I just didn’t upload them all and, never fear, I will not assault you with heaps of photos of my children but I will share some of my favorites that were taken between week 12 (the last weekly portrait post -eep) and now.

Resolution #8 is to post a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.

I am trying to choose one picture of each of them that hopefully shows what their week was like

Our oldest turned 14. I realize this is to be expected but since I’m not even 35 this is a little startling.

Tiny dancer, at her last show of the season this summer.

Little Miss is by far our little fish.

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I Have Missed You!

California, Kids, Marriage

Ugh, being without a computer is rough. I mean, the phone and the tablet and access to the other laptops in the house make it not such a big deal, but when it comes to your pictures and docs, it’s a little unnerving waiting for them to be ‘recovered’. The wonderful news is that my husband managed to recover all my stuff. Go husband! The bad new is, it took forever and I’m pretty behind in my weekly portraits, but I will just jump in this weekend with week 21!


In the meantime, here’s life right now, 25 things edition.

1. Our girls are obsessed with Frozen and our Tiny Dancer wraps a blanket around her neck, cape style, belts out Let it Go and tosses the blanket off with ‘…the cold never bothered me anyway…’ As a Canadian family that is bothered by the cold, I find this hilarious.

2. Oldest is preparing for his 8th grade grad next week and I know it’s the ultimate cliche, but I can’t believe he’s starting high school! How, how, how is that possible?!


3. On that note, my husband and I just celebrated 14 years of marriage! So rad!

4. We recently started #100daysofbarbecue but we are skipping some days, (because when your husband asks for your grandmother’s chicken pot pie, you just make it for him, ok?), and keeping track of the number of days we’re on. I think we’re on day 9 right now.

5. Dance is on a break until July. OMG an entire month without evening classes?! Note that our Tiny Dancer has chosen to continue with her private lessons and practice every afternoon, so we’re not actually taking a month off, but you know. Some kind of a break is better than none!


6. For our anniversary, I made my husband the proud owner of this rad shirt and also this one.

7. I’m more determined than ever to finally finish my Beekeeper Quilt.

8. I’m obsessing over Classy Ladies on Cooking.


9. Also obsessing over Sugarpill lashes, but what else is new…

10. We are finally starting to properly furnish and decorate our ‘new’ apartment – it’s been over a year since we moved but we have been really indecisive about staying.

11. I want to start spinning and dying yarn so now we need to find room for a spinning wheel. πŸ˜‰


12. The Fault in Our Stars comes out next week and I’m all set to cry my eyes out the whole time because I’ve read the book so many times my heart is already broken for Hazel and Gus.

13. Maleficent comes out this weekend and I can hardly wait to get my mouse ears on for the premier.

14. Christmas lights in a little girl’s room is the most magical thing ever.

15. Searching for the perfect black strapless swimsuit is harder than I thought. Last year I got wicked tan lines at the pool from being there every afternoon.

16. Avocados go with pretty much everything as far as I’m concerned.

17. I made a new friend and am crushing on her pretty hard. Dear Scout, you’re so rad. Love, May.


18. Speaking of! I’ve been making some summer plans and I am so happy to have so many great friends down here. I am seriously so blessed to have met such cool ladies. Vanessa, Tami, Kathryn, Brigid, Erin, Tanya, on and on and on.

19. The girls got bangs and they are painfully cute!


20. Every spring I get really motivated to knit for Christmas and usually, I get too wrapped up in the birthdays along the way. Of course, since it’s May, I’m feeling hella motivated. Wish me luck!

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Pretzel Caramel Bites


I love making little shippable treats to send to friends and family, but you have to get creative because cupcakes and fragile cookies are probably not going to make it! These sweet surprises have only three ingredients. I made two versions of these, one with caramel and one with Rolos!

Pretzel Caramel Bites

Rolos or caramel squares*
pecan halves
*I have made these with homemade caramel squares and it doesn’t melt right, use the individually wrapped grocery store kind

Just arrange pretzels on a platter or plate and top with with caramels or Rolos. Microwave for 45 seconds or so and smoosh the pecan halves on top. Then package them in cute cupcake liners!

Pretzel Caramel Bites  Pretzel Caramel Bites
Pretzel Caramel Bites  Pretzel Caramel Bites
Pretzel Caramel Bites
Pretzel Caramel Bites
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Dragonfruit Ice Cream

California, Healthy

This is one of those ‘not really a recipe recipes’. I have a serious love for dragonfruit and when we first moved to California and I saw it at the farmer’s market I was determined to make something summery and fun with local dragonfruit. Just look at it, it’s so beautiful!

This is a very lame way to make ice cream. Seriously, just go buy an ice cream maker (I am holding out for this Cuisinart one). If you don’t have an ice cream maker though, this will do. Essentially you’re just freezing ice cream in ice cube trays. πŸ˜‰

Dragonfruit Ice Cream

There are two types of dragon fruit, some are pink like this and taste a little sweet and some are white and taste blander. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be the white or pink kind when I first bought this at the market so I was pretty stoked that it was the sweeter of the two. I will try this again with the white kind if I come across any.

Dragonfruit Ice Cream

All I did was scoop out the yummy insides and mash them up with about 1/2 (maybe closer to 3/4) of a cup of coconut milk. The more coconut milk you add, the softer it will be when you eat it. Though it will be far from soft, a better description would be ‘the more coconut milk you add, the less rock hard it will be’. Then I added a little sugar, feel free to keep it healthy by adding stevia or natural maple syrup or agave or whatever.

Dragonfruit Ice Cream  Dragonfruit Ice Cream

Pour your finished mixture into ice cube trays, and wait a few hours. Another way to do it would be to put your mixture into a stainless steel bowl and mix it every 30 minutes or so until you reach the consistency you’re after. I put them in an ice cube tray and them popped them out and into a cup when I was ready to try it. I let it sit for just a few minutes and it was ice creamy enough for me!

Dragonfruit Ice Cream

This is not a replacement for triple fudge ice cream by any stretch – but if you have a craving for ice cream that’s beyond the usual frozen banana in the food processor trick, while still keeping it healthy, this is a good option.

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Week Twelve Photos

California, Kids

I feel like the weekly resolution check in is getting boring. So I think I will make it once a month instead. I’m making excellent progress with my pictures and killing it with my weekly cake / cupcake challenge.

Resolution #8 is to post a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.

I am trying to choose one picture of each of them that hopefully shows what their week was like

It’s amazing to see him gaining stripes on his new belt. The progression of belt levels in jiu jitsu is so much harder than others.

Candy in a fruit cup was one of my April Fools ‘pranks’ on the kids. πŸ˜‰

Little Miss loved the story time activities at her dance coach / babysitter’s college!

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Pineapple Cream Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting


I’ve been keeping track of the cakes (and yes, I’m counting cupcakes as cakes) I’ve made this year though I have been woefully neglectful about posting them. Here’s the recap so far:

#1 – Nutella Icebox Cake (week 1)
#2 – Orange Creamsicle Cake (week 2)
#3 – White Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes (week 3)
#4 – Pink Lemonade Cupcakes (week 4)
#5 – Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (week 5)
#6 – Dark Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Filling (week 6)
#7 – Pink Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Frosting (week 7)
#8 – Dutch Buttercake (week 8 )
#9 – Birthday Cake Pancakes (week 9)
#10 – Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie IN a Cocoa Cake (I know, I know, I cannot be stopped!) (week 10)
#11 – Chocolate Caramel Cake (week 11)
#12 – Mini Minion Vanilla Cupcakes (week 12)
#13 – Double Chocolate Nutella Rocher Cupcakes (week 12)
#14 – Rainbow Chocolate Cupcakes with Blue Raspberry Frosting (week 12)
#15 – Pineapple Cream Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (week 12)

Just like with Pie Year, there are going to be weeks with multiples, but that’s all part of the fun!

All the cupcakes I made last weekend were super fun, but the Pineapple Cream were the most sophisticated, as our Tiny Dancer would say. I love when there are fruit chunks in cake and most of the time, I love to pair citrus with a cream cheese frosting, which made this recipe so perfect!

Pineapple Cream Cupakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
(via Your Cup of Cake)       
1 box yellow cake mix
1/3 cup melted (and cooled) butter
   I mashed up pineapple chunks for larger pieces
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup crushed pineapple with juice
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 cups confectioner’s sugar
   adjust to desired taste and consistency

Preheat to 350 and line your muffin tin with liners. Sift the cake mix into a medium bowl and set aside. In a larger bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, pineapple and vanilla. Slowly stir in the cake mix until it’s well combined.

I used my large ice cream scoop (though let’s be honest, all three are only ever used as cake batter scoops) and that filled each liner about 3/4 of the way. Bake for 20 minutes (give or take) and let cool before you frost.

While they’re cooling, get cracking on the frosting. Straight up cream cheese frosting. Just beat the cream cheese with the butter until it’s smooth and add the vanilla. Then slowly add the confectioner’s sugar until it’s stiff enough to hold it’s shape.

Pipe it over your cooled cupcakes. Top with cherries and sanding sugar and voila! Beautiful, tropical cupcakes!

Dry off your Maraschino cherries (or take a page from my book and employ one of your helpers to do it). Otherwise, they will bleed all over your beautiful frosting.

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Week Nine Photos

California, Kids

Resolution #8 is to post a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.

I am trying to choose one picture of each of them that hopefully shows what their week was like

Third place this weekend at the Dream Jiu Jitsu tournament in Cerritos!

Feeling better this week after doctor visits and pharmacy phone calls, and we got to fit in a park day!

Having lunch at the American Girl store at The Grove is a very fancy affair.

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Week Nine Resolution Check In

Churchy, Crafty, Domestic, Healthy, Homeschooling, Kids, Marriage

Wait a minute! Nine weeks already?!

It’s almost like time passes even faster when you’re watching it. Or at least when you’re tracking what you’re trying to accomplish and finally really realize how quickly a week can fly by. We completely lost week eight to a nasty bug that tore through our sinuses. Since moving to California, we have had about one cold a year, and this year really hurt. Two out of five have sinus infections, two went mostly unaffected and the last one to catch it is still fighting it. Week nine was mostly a week of doctor and pharmacy visits and recovery and I am so grateful that we live nearby to our general practitioner, our pediatrician and a 24 hour pharmacy!

Not much was accomplished in the way of working on the blog or editing the family photo site, though I’ll go over that stuff anyway. I was sick, so guess what? I knitted a lot! Yay sick knitting! The one upside to being sick is that since I am fairly on top of things otherwise, I can slack a little when I’m sick and our lives don’t fall apart.

Here we go, week nine! I am still striving to get this out on Fridays, though that has only happened once so far. πŸ˜‰

1. stay at least one week ahead of our homeschool schedule
We were almost exactly a week ahead and then last week we were all attacked by the worst head cold we have ever had and cashed in all that extra work! So once we finish Monday’s work, we’ll work a little on Tuesday until we are ahead again. It was such a blessing to be able to not stress over school work while caring for sick kids and dealing with a pounding sinus headache.

2. celebrate everyone’s birthday (local and long distance) with a card in the mail.
Doing several things rushed or halfway is worse than not doing them at all. So, yeah. I give up on this one guys.

3. keep our family photo site updated (in the 10 years we’ve had that site, we’ve always been about 3-5 months behind)
I made no progress at all this week, but last week I actually did get most of the index pages up for each section that was missing one and I converted a load of wmas. Maybe I’ll even end up uploading them next week! HA!

4. start a β€˜what we did today’ journal (index card version is cute)
I love it. It’s so neat!

5. quit social media that’s not blog related basically I just wanted to quit Facebook
Ok so I am still not on Facebook. My issue is that after three months away from it, I can see how it was bad for me but I can also see that a lot of the ‘but how will we keep in touch?’ concerns from friends and family were true. I spent a lot of unnecessary time on Facebook when I’m sure I should have been doing more productive things. Closets usually need straightening, bathrooms need scrubbing, that kind of thing. At the same time, I miss seeing my Texan girl Jennifer’s posts of her kids who I miss so so so much and I miss getting rando messages from my uncle in law about everything that is going on in our absence. There are a lot of friends and family that are just not on other social media and either don’t have a smart phone or don’t use an IM apps on their phone. Who does that, right? Most of our family, that’s who! I’m not sold on rejoining Facebook, but I’m leaning towards a totally locked down profile with no extras.

6. blog 3-5 times a week
I only blogged once this week. Ahem.

7. make a lightbox and get better at food photography
My shopping trip to Home Depot was postponed so I could nurse my sinuses but I know what I need for the lightbox and staging! I may just give up on actually going to Home Depot and order it! This tile is meant to be a backsplash but a few of them together would make a pretty backdrop for a black plate. I also really love this black and grey tile for bright knitting. I am going to get these and a couple others to play with this month and see how they look.

8. a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014
Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four
Week Five
Week Six
Week Seven
Week Eight – not posted
Week Nine – coming later

9. bake a cake every weekend
Week One – Nutella Icebox Cake
Week Two – Orange Creamsicle cake
Week Three – White Chocolate Strawberry cupcakes
Week Four – Pink Lemonade cupcakes
Week Five – Red Velvet cupcakes (with cream cheese icing)
Week Six – Dark Chocolate cake with Strawberry Filling
Week Seven – Pink Strawberry cake with Strawberry Frosting
Week Eight – Dutch Buttercake

10. participate in sockdown 2014
One upside to my sinus infection over the last two weeks has been a lot of knitting! I am almost finished the socks I casted on in January and then promptly dropped for school and life in general. Then I can cast on and knit the socks I should have knitted last month. Whoops.

11. finally finish my knitted beekeeper quilt
Still working on puffs!! Making a dent in the additional 100 that I need for the quilt.

I also said I was going to replace alcohol with coffee and I still haven’t had any alcohol since just before Christmas! I get my bloodwork done every 3 or 4 months to make sure my thyroid medication is still doing what it’s supposed to so I’ve been trying to meet my vitamin and mineral levels since I get to see them a few times a year. I had my bloodwork done in January and I will go back in April so we’ll see then how I’ve done so far.

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