Monday, December 28, 2009

Top Nine Albums Of 2009

Christmas came and went faster than it ever has this year. As fast as it was, it was extremely enjoyable and fun. We traveled to and from both family Christmases in very nasty weather, so I'm grateful for having made it home safely. Despite all of those positives, I am sitting here with post holiday let down. I am sad to see the holidays go! Everyone who knows me knows I am not a big fan of New Year's Eve/New Year's Day. The thought of another year gone by just makes me want to freak out. 2010sounds insane and I think 2009 just went by way too fast. So ya, not my favorite holiday. Even so, I busted out a playlist full of New Year faves - lots of classics mixed in with some newer, retrospective favorites. I mean, you can't have a New Years playlist without Frank. And if 'Long December' doesn't make you want to sit and bawl your damn eyes out, I don't know what will. I can definately remember a few years where I just wanted to get December over with. So I'm thankful this wasn't one of them!

Instead of the typical 'New Music Monday' I thought I'd post a top nine of my favorite albums of this year. It would take me all of 2010 to put them in order of my favorites, so they're just all over the place. Typical for me. Here we go!!!

Metric 'Fantasies' - my favorite Canadians!! Haven't stopped listening to it since I bought it and probably never will!!!

Phoenix 'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix' - 80's inspired synth rock born in the garage of a Paris suburb - how could you NOT love it?!?!?!

Imogen Heap 'Ellipse' - there will never be anyone as talented or unique as Immi, or as weird. Great album!!!

Olivia Broadfield 'Eyes Wide Open' - I haven't blogged about this gal yet, but don't let that stop you from checking her out for yourself! Good stuff and one of my tops for 2009!!

Mat Kearney 'City Of Black and White' - Kevin and I had the pleasure of seeing Mat live when he opened for Keane - he's one of my favorite artists and this album is amazing!

Lily Allen 'It's Not Me, It's You' - if honesty is the best policy, then Lily's your gal! If you can't handle explicit lyrics, well then maybe you should move on.

The Raveonettes 'In & Out Of Control' - another one that never made it to the old blog! Guess you'll just have to check them out for yourself... 'Last Dance' and 'Heart of Stone' are my absolute faves!! 50s era rock with a dark and twisty flavor.

Green Day '21st Century Breakdown' - didn't think they could top 'American Idiot' and I was extremely wary of the album format with the whole narrative thang, BUT this is still one of my faves of 2009.

The Sounds 'Crossing the Rubicon' - what's old becomes new again, so are we suprised then that 80s synth is making a huge comeback? No and that's ok with me!

So there you have it - my top nine of 2009!! All in all it was a great year for music, and 2010 promises to be even better. Happy New Year to all who follow this strange little blog. See you in 2010!!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Where Have YOU Been??

That's what I've been thinking lately. Every time I sit down to type something up on this blog, something interrupts my thought process and I'm just not able to finish. That's the story of my life - one unfinished thing after another. If I told you how many half written compositions were waiting to be posted, you would laugh your ass off. As usual my intentions were good but the follow through was lacking. I had every intention of doing a Christmas version of New Music Mondays, but honestly I've just been listening to all of last year's favorites anyways. I was meaning to post some favorite holiday cookie recipes, but I haven't had the chance to type them out - we've been too busy eating. I was meaning to post a holiday shopping guide of some of my fave affordable gifts, but it seemed a little too materialistic so I deleted it. And here we are! A couple of weeks to go until Christmas and this is the first thing I've posted for the month of December!! So I decided to put it all into one post and hopefully this will break the 'blogger's block' I've been experiencing!

My Top Ten Holiday Albums (Dave Letterman style)

10) Maybe This Christmas (various artists)
9) This Warm December - A Brushfire Holiday Vol 1 (various artists)
8) The Hotel Cafe Presents Winter Songs (various artists)
7) Narada's Nutcracker
6) James Taylor at Christmas
5) Elf Movie Soundtrack
4) Loreena McKennitt's 'A Midwinter Night's Dream'
3) Jars of Clay 'Christmas Songs'
2) A Charlie Brown Christmas
1) Ray Coniff 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas'

If you're in the market for new holiday music you should definately check those out!


Peppermint Bark is one of my fave Christmas-y treats. The kids and I made some the other day and we're still eating it. They love helping me smash the candy canes to bits!! Here's the recipe!!!

2 bags semi sweet chocolate chips
2 bags white chocolate chips
box of candy canes - crushed

Melt the dark chocolate in a microwave safe container (I like Pampered Chef's micro cookers!). Spread carefully on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Freeze for 5 minutes or until set up. Melt the white chocolate and then carefully spread that over the dark chocolate. Spread crushed candy canes on top and let cool in the fridge. Lift wax paper off of cookie sheet and break into pieces. Eat and enjoy!!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Lesson In Giving

I'm sure you've noticed my playlist (please excuse the Bon Jovi song, oh GOD and the Kelly Clarkson one) is all ready for Thanksgiving, as is my family. We're headed back home to celebrate with my family for the day and looking forward to it as always. I can remember going to my grandparents as a little kid for dinner and eating the delicious food my grama made at the kid's table in the kitchen with my cousin and brother. Then we'd sneak upstairs and work on our booby trap for when our parents told us it was time to head back home. That usually involved lots of yarn, tinker toys and a barrel of monkeys. Lots of good memories of Thanksgivings for me. :)


This month I've been trying to think of something I'm thankful for every day and it's really helped me realize just how truly blessed I am. There were certain days when things weren't going very well when it was a little more difficult to find something to be thankful for, but when I did I was reminded that it's the little things for which I am most grateful. That's especially clear now when there are so many Americans struggling to find work and meet basic needs.

Yesterday while spending a nice afternoon getting a little holiday shopping done, I learned a lesson in true generousity from my daughter Abby. She had brought her own money and found a pretty Christmas ornament she wanted to buy. As the sales person rang up the ornament she asked Abby if she'd like to make a donation to St. Jude's. Abby asked what that was and when I told her it was a children's hospital, she said 'Okay, sick kids.' Then she reached into her purse and proceeded to pull out the rest of her money and put it on the counter. I was blown away, but not at all suprised. Abby has always been one of the most generous people I've ever known and is always putting the needs of others before her own. It made me so proud of her. I hope that as we head into the heart of this holiday season that I can give as freely and from the heart as she always does.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all - I hope it finds you surrounded by the people you love and that you never run out of things to be thankful for!!

New Music Monday 11/23/2009

Last week on one of my favorite shows, 'So You Think You Can Dance' - a brilliant choreographer named Travis Wall showcased a beautiful dance to a song called 'Your Ex-Lover Is Dead' by a band called Stars. Although the song was cut in several places to the point where I personally feel the meaning was a bit lost, it was still a beautiful piece. And I bet a lot of people heard the song and downloaded some 'Stars' stuff. So this week which will be the last week for non-holiday music blogging, I decided to post about 'Stars.'


I actually first heard 'Stars' on the pandora website, which is where I get a lot of new stuff. 'Elevator Love Letter' was the song and it's from their 2003 album called 'Heart.' Since then, I've become hooked and bought two more of their records. Their sound is the perfect mix of soft vocals and rich instrumentation. You'll hear strings, keybords and horns in their songs - but while there's a lot going on in the way of instruments, it's complicated but never sounds overdone. 'Stars' is a canadian group and are also members of the very talented, well known band 'Broken Social Scene.' Both 'Heart' and 'Set Yourself On Fire' have been nominated for the award of Alternative Album of the year. Here are a few favorites from 'Heart.'

'Elevator Love Letter'

'Look Up'

'Life Effect' LOVE these lyrics

It's no secret that 'Set Yourself On Fire' is my favorite album from these guys. :) It's permenantly in my rotation. I feel like they tackle some really great stuff with the lyrics in a lot of the songs, particularly 'Your Ex-lover Is Dead' which is about a one sided relationship gone wrong. All of the tracks on this particular album will resonate with anyone who has ever been able to get over someone and move on, made the wrong decision, chosen to stay with someone despite the fact that they weren't good for them or just been in a relationship period. 'Stars' is for everyone!

'Your Ex-lover Is Dead'

'Ageless Beauty'


'Soft Revolution' set to extreme skating??? Ha ha!!!

'First Five Times'

That's it for this week! Stay tuned for fun holiday music posts every Monday through Christmas!!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Music Monday 11/9/2009

Technically it's Tuesday, but I didn't have time to post this with all of the fun birthday happenings around here!!! This week's new music is from an LA band (a chick band!!!) called 'Uh Huh Her.' So I guess if you are already sick of my chick band posts, you should move along and not read this one!!! This indie electro-pop band was originally made up of three members - Camilla Grey, Leisha Hailey (played Alice on a show called The L Word and is on some Yoplait commercials... random) and Alicia Warrington.... but Alicia up and quit. Too bad so sad for her!!! If you're a big PJ Harvey fan (if you don't know who PJ is, you must have slept through the 90s) you'll recognize the name 'Uh Huh Her' as it was the title to one of her albums.


'Common Reaction' was released in 2008 and is the only album they have this far. It's a perfect blend of rock and electronica. This album comes highly recommended *by me* to anyone who likes Metric, Esthero, Feist or Tegan & Sara type lady bands. It's an easy listen - smooth yet edgy......

'Say So' - this is the Thom Russo mix which I *heart*


'Not A Love Song'

'Wait Another Day'


'Common Reaction'

All in all, a great find I think. I don't know if there will be more albums in the future or if this was a one time deal, but it's good. Like staying in your pajamas and reading books all day good. ;) Ha ha.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Birthday, Abby!!!

Abby is 7!!! Wow, time flies. As usual on one of my kids' birthdays, I dug out all the old pictures. It's always so fun looking at how much they've changed over the years. Abby has changed so much!! She has always been so much fun. She's creative, crazy and such a kind hearted little person. Here's a look at her through the past seven years of her life......

Happy Birthday, Abby!!! We love you!!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I Know It's Not Monday, but Oh my Gawd!!!!

Has this ever happened before??? No! I could wait until Monday to blog about my latest music find, but I physically cannot. As Buddy the Elf would say, "I'm in love, I'm in love and I don't care who knows it!!!"


So, his name is Sanders Bohlke and he's from Oxford, Mississippi. His voice is like butter, I kid you not. He's currently unsigned and I think you can only buy his stuff through itunes and amazon's Mp3's, but you should do one or the other because you will be sorry if you don't!!! I originally heard his song 'The Weight of Us' and I literally stopped what I was doing and said, "who is this amazing man with a voice like butter??" The rest is history. I downloaded every single song of his I could get my hands on and have not stopped listening to them since. The depth of emotion in his music is like nothing I have ever heard. Dude's got soul!!!!!

'The Weight of Us'

That is really the only song of his I could find on youtube that wasn't live, so if you want to hear more you should check out his myspace page.

Then go directly to itunes or amazon and purchase all of it!!!! Here's the link his mp3 downloads from amazon:

Oh, and you're welcome!!!! :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

New Music Monday 11/2/2009

Happy November!! Halloween was chilly here, but tons of fun as usual. Now it's like the final countdown til Christmas. I am super excited to start blogging about holiday music, but I think I should at least wait until after Thanksgiving. I was always one of those people who started listening to Christmas music as soon as November first hits. I love it!! So get ready!! My holiday recommendations will be coming your way shortly!

This week I chose a band called 'Via Audio'. The drummer is actually from the band 'Spoon' and the rest of the band members are all from Brooklyn. Their first and only album to date is called 'Say Something.' I really love the fact that they have the female lead singer with male back ups - it makes for a really great sound. Not one of the most upbeat albums you'll ever hear, but it's not depressing either. It's just one of those nice chill records. Here are some of my favorites from 'Say Something.'

'Modern Day Saint'

'Developing Active People'

'We Can Be Good'


Unfortunately a lot of the other really great songs from the album aren't on youtube, so you'll just have to check them out for yourself! I have no idea if these guys are planning to put out another album any time soon or ever, but 'Say Something' is definately great and I know I'd love to hear more. Good stuff!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Music Wednesday???

It just doesn't have the same ring as New Music Monday does it? I would have posted this Monday, but I didn't get time to finish it. I just don't seem to be having an abundance of down time lately!! So this week it's New Music Wednesday.

'Phoenix' has been around awhile, but I've just recently gotten into them. Blame it on a commercial for a Cadillac playing their new hit '1901.' Honestly, did you know there's a whole website devoted to music heard on commercials?? So Phoenix. They're french, but we won't hold that against them will we. ;) They are an electro-indie pop band.... which quite simply means lots of synth and great dance beats. We're starting with their latest release 'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.' Nothing big headed about that album title right??? But it's actually been called their best album (and they have four in total) so I guess they're allowed to be big headed. I am addicted!!! It's very easy to listen to and booty-shakingly fun as someone else put it. AND and and it's also only $7.99 at amazon right now!!! Let's listen...


'1901' heard this one on Q101 the other day!! It's also in a Caddy commercial.



'Fences' hello, disco-rock!!!!

I haven't purchased their previous three albums, but once I wear this one out I will definately be doing so!!!! Happy Wednesday to all. The weekend is just around the corner!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fall Along the Fox

It's been feeling like fall (more like winter at times) temperature wise for awhile now, but we haven't had much of a chance to enjoy it yet. We're so lucky to live along such a beautiful river with so many fun things to do. It was a little chilly, but we thought it would be a good day to go to the Fabyan Forest Preserve for a picnic and some fun.

What a cool place!! There's tons of bike trails, a japanese garden and even an old windmill you can tour. Here are a few pictures of our day.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New Music Monday 10/5/2009

This week I'm going a bit indie with a great band called Sea Wolf. They're an amazing group based out of LA. Their album 'Leaves In the River' has been one of my tops for quite awhile now. I thought it would be a good time to put it out here on the blog because it has a very fallish, folk sound to it. It's perfect for curling up on the couch with a cup of coffee and your blanket!!!

Band leader Alex Church was originally part of the late 90s group called 'Irving' but the songs he wrote for them didn't really fit their style. So off he went!! He started performing locally as Sea Wolf with a few other musicians and eventually hooked up with the producer of the groups Band of Horses, The Shins (HELLO!!! Luv them!) and Fleet Foxes. Major greatness!!! Disclaimer: this album will grow on you and the more you listen to it the more in love with Sea Wolf you will become. You will not be able to stop listening to it. They are that brilliant! Oh and errrr, ya..... they're gonna be on the 'New Moon' soundtrack with a song called 'The Violet Hour' :) So excited!!! Here are some great songs from the 'Leaves In the River' album. Seriously. Buy it.

'You're A Wolf' - best song on the album for me

'Middle Distance Runner'

'Leaves In The River'

'Winter Windows'

'The Cold the Dark and the Silence'

'Black Dirt' the guys who made this vid did a great job! It's friggin sweet!

Sea Wolf also came out with a new album called 'White Water White Bloom' on the 22nd of September, so I don't even own it yet! But based on the reviews I've read I will most definately be purchasing it soon. This is 'Wicked Blood.'

'Wicked Blood'

Hope you likey! See you next Monday!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Flu Shot - Are You Getting One?

I'm not going to lie, this new H1N1 flu virus scares me. Hell, the regular flu virus scares me. But I'm trying to decide what scares me more - the flu itself or the vaccine given to prevent it. Let me be clear before I go any further here that I am NOT anti-vaccine. But I'm not pro-vaccine either. With my first two kids, I went to the health department on time and got their shots without asking any questions. Why would I question vaccinations? It was just what you did. I had no reason to wonder why I was doing what I was doing - that was until my third baby was born.

As a mother, Olivia has made me question EVERYTHING I have ever done or will do from now on. From nursing to solid foods to sleeping to you guessed it, vaccinations. She made me wonder and worry about things I never had to before. I don't neccessarily think that's a bad thing. It all started the week after I had her. She was having a hard time nursing and I didn't know what to do. She seemed uncomfortable and would just scream and we didn't know why. She started getting this awful rash all over her which was very different from the normal baby pimples that happen to some newborns. I did some research and wondered if she was having issues with something I was eating. After many tears and lots of attempts, I completely gave up breastfeeding and switched her to Nutramigen hypoallergenic formula. It was awful stuff, but it worked for her. We were able to lay her flat without fear of a reflux episode and she slept over over an hour for the first time in her two months of life. She was content. I cried tears of joy. Do you have any idea how much crying you do when you're a mom?? Anyways, the rash even started to go away and she was this happy little baby I didn't know existed.

At her two month check up, I politely declined her vaccinations. Despite pressure from our doctor, something told me it was the right thing to do. I was concerned at how sensitive she must be due to the reactions she'd had with her diet so far. Thank God I didn't do it. At age four months, after giving Olivia a bottle and laying her down to bed she had her very first seizure. I cannot put into words what an absolutely terrifying thing it was to witness. After vomiting what seemed to be her entire feeding, Olivia's eyes rolled back into her little bald head and she paled to a color that I have never seen a living human being turn. She was limp and unresponsive and so cold. We didn't know what was happening. By the time we got to the ER, she seemed much better. They checked her vitals and sent us home, thinking it was some sort of stomach virus not knowing it was actually a seizure. I slept next to her crib (sleep isn't the word I would use) that night. Little did I know, the horror we'd just witnessed would surface again.

Olivia has had five seizures in her three years of life, the most recent one being last December. I pray every single day that it was the last one she'll ever have. It's not something I will ever get used to seeing or forget or get over and the image of it will haunt me probably forever. (I try not to live in fear, but I wouldn't be honest if I told you I didn't worry like a crazy person every time she got sick!) Olivia underwent lots of testing to determine the cause of her seizures and we never found one. The term mitochondrial disorder (google that if you're curious as it would take me quite a long time to explain) was thrown out there by her peds neurologist and we did some testing that was in conclusive as far as that went. So we still don't know and maybe we never will. And we still haven't given her one vaccination. Does that bother me? Yes. But right now I still feel the risks far outweigh the benefits for her. That doesn't mean I don't worry about my decision and it doesn't mean I won't ever vaccinate her for anything.

That being said, I still have to think really hard about this upcoming flu season. I can't figure it out. Either we're all screwed or the media/government has done a great job of trying to scare us all to death. I haven't decided which one it is yet. For most people, the decision to get a flu shot is black and white. You either get them every year because you think they work or you take your chances not getting the shot. I guess everyone is taking their chances if you think about it - either by getting the flu shot and hoping it doesn't have any awful side effects or not getting the flu shot and hoping you don't get sick. I guess it wouldn't bother me so much if people knew for sure if the shot actually worked. I am curious how many people who have never gotten the flu shot before are getting it this year. Will you get the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available? What chance are you taking this season???

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Comfort Food Makes a Comeback

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: I love fall!!! Don't get me wrong, I am sad to see summer and the warm weather go. But there's something about cute sweaters, football and comfort food that makes me so happy. Food in general makes me happy. I love to eat probably more than anyone should. I look forward to my meals. As soon as I'm done eating one meal, I am already thinking about what to have for the next one!!! I am not ashamed to say it. I love food.

Comfort food is high on the list, although it's not something we have as often as I would like for obvious reasons. It tastes good, but it's not always good for you! My family's all time favorite meal is a simple one of creamed chicken served over biscuits. It is the definition of comfort food - warm and filling, inexpensive and uncomplicated, and easy to prepare. My mom used to make it for us when we were little and it never disappointed. It was one of the first things I made for Kevin when we were first married! I happened upon a cute little blog called The Big Red Kitchen one day and was so happy to find a good recipe for the beloved creamed chicken. It is probably the best blog about food EVER. She takes the most beautiful pictures of the food!!! Of course you can't just look at the pictures. You have to make the food. And eat it!!!

What did I tell you about the pictures??? Thanks to 'Big Red Kitchen' blog for allowing me to use your delicious photo!!!!

Anyways, here is her amazing recipe for Creamed Chicken which my family and I enjoy on a very regular basis during cold months. Hopefully it will make its way to your table for you and yours to enjoy!!!

Creamed Chicken

1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk
4 cups cooked, shredded chicken- about 3-4 chicken breast halves
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot over medium high heat, melt butter. To melted butter, whisk in flour until smooth. Slowly whisk in milk. Turn heat down to medium and cook until thickened. Add chicken then salt and pepper to taste. Serve over hot buttermilk biscuits with steamed peas and enjoy!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Little Mermaid

We had a fun family birthday party yesterday for Olivia. My parents, grandparents, brother, Kevin's mom, his brother & twins were all on hand to help us celebrate. Olivia decided on a mermaid theme since she loves them right now. I was able to find this adorable costume on ebay used for a really great price!!

Doctor Lulu in the house.... she loves her new doctor kit!

Olivia was so excited for her party!!! Here are a few pictures!!!

Happy Birthday to you, Lulu!

She loved it!

Blue frosting = blue tongue!


I really took the whole mermaid/under the sea theme and ran with it, which was super fun. We had fish tacos, lime cilantro shrimp skewers, chips & salsa, shell pasta salad, pineapple dessert salad and "seaweed" spinach with tropical fruit salad. The kids had "sushi" (I took white bread without the crust and spread cream cheese on it with celery and lunch meat and rolled it up like sushi!), goldfish crackers and blue fish jello jigglers. It was an amazing spread!!! I was also really brave and made the cupcakes from scratch this time!! We had coconut cupcakes with buttercream frosting and key lime cupcakes.

Blue frosted coconut cupcake and key lime cupcake

Here are the recipes in case you'd like to try them!!!

Key Lime Cupcakes with Lime Frosting


Recipe by Buttersweet Bakery

September 2008
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
1/4 teaspoon neon-green food coloring
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard muffin pan with 12 paper liners. Whisk both flours in medium bowl. Beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar; beat to blend. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then next 3 ingredients (batter may look curdled). Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions. Spoon scant 1/3 cup batter into each liner.
Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool.

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp Lime zest
1 tsp vanilla ext
1/8 tsp salt
16 oz powdered sugar
3 Tbsp lime juice
1 to 2 Tbsp milk

Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, lime juice and milk, beating at low speed until blended and smooth.

Coconut Cupcakes


3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:

1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 pounds 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 7 ounces of 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 and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy 3rd Birthday, Lulu!!!

Wow! I am in utter shock that my youngest baby will be turning three this coming Monday. It seems to hard to believe! My pregnancy with Olivia was far from normal. Well, far from normal for anyone else but pretty typical for me I guess. Lots of worry from the beginning with bleeding and placenta previa. I gained a ton of weight too. Everywhere. Oh well.

I was scheduled for an induction early the morning of the 27th and it couldn't come soon enough for me! But of course that wouldn't be the way it went and we ended up waiting around all day to get a room so they could start the induction. By the time the hospital called me to come in around 7 pm that evening, I would have given birth in a broom closet if they'd have let me. They started the liquid evil (otherwise known as pitocin) around 9 pm. The contractions weren't super awful, but I wasn't trying to be a hero so I told them to bring me the good stuff aka epidural. And in walks the hottest doctor I've ever seen. Seriously, he put McDreamy to shame. I felt so bad for this poor guy for having to look at my huge ass while he gave me the epidural!

With that taken care of, I thought we were all good. Not so much. Control freak + panic disorder doesn't mesh well with epidurals. The minute I couldn't feel my legs I started to freak out. I made Kevin go get Dr. McDreamy so I could tell him I was going to die. He tried not to laugh when I told him I couldn't feel my face and proceeded to pinch my own neck to the point of drawing blood. Then in true Molly fashion, my heart rate skyrocketed. People started looking worried and I swore I could see Jesus. It was bad stuff. Finally, I started to feel a little better and it was time to push.

In walks my doctor wearing a hazmat suit??? Seriously, she had on hip waders and what looked like a welding mask. Was she planning on welding something??? Whatver, she could have been Krusty the effing clown for all I cared, I just wanted this baby OUT! After a few good pushes Olivia Margaret came into the world quite beautifully. She was gorgeous and instantly won the hearts of everyone in our family and still has them!! Olivia is by far the most fiesty of my three kids, but I wouldn't have her any other way. She had a rough start in life with some underlying health issues, but she has overcome every one of them. She is my fighter and we feel so blessed and lucky she's turning three. She loves wearing dresses, dancing and anything girly. Her hair gets more curly every day. She is Lulu and we love her!!!

The song playing is by KT Tunstall and I used to sing it to her when she was tiny, if you can picture that. She used to like my singing, but now she says, "mommy, don't sing." :) Happy 3rd Birthday, Lulu!!! We love you!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New Music - No Boys Allowed

How much am I completely loving chick rocker bands these days??? So much!!! In honor of the angsty, of pms, lip gloss, high heels and of all things girly - this music post is girl bands only!! No boys allowed!


There have been some amazing chick bands in my time I have to say - The Bangles, The Go-gos, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (and of course THE original Joan Jett rocker band The Runaways), Hole, The Breeders and sooooo many more. But I don't feel like there's been a really solid selection up until recently. I made a new playlist to go with this post rather than trying to embed a bunch of youtube vids and taking up a ton of space. Waste not, want not. Here are some of my faves - I tried to pick my top three of each group. There are all girl bands and there are just girl lead singers so I guess you could say some boys are allowed. But whatever we're not getting THAT technical here!! A few of these you will know already, but hopefully you'll hear something new that you like. Some are straight up rock, there's some indie rock and then I have some trip hop (my latest obsession is trip hop) going on as well to break it up a little. It's a well rounded playlist and it's all about the ladies!!!!

Metric, a Canadian indie rock band, has been in heavy rotation on my playlist these days. Emily Haines (also performs with Broken Social Scene) leads the group with her edgy, melodic vocals.... 'Live It Out' and the latest album 'Fantasies' are both well worth buying! Top three faves of mine include:

'Soft Rock Star'
'Gimme Sympathy' I love the lyrics of this one
'Help! I'm Alive' as someone who suffers from anxiety, I can totally indentify with the entire sentiment of this song tho I'm not sure if that's what it's *really* about

I stumbled across this next little gem about a month ago and am so glad I did. Nina Kinert wouldn't exactly fall into the "rocker" genre, but she earned a spot on my blog anyways. She's from Sweden and it's hard to place her in a genre because her style differs greatly from one song to the next. These songs are from her 2008 release 'Pets & Friends.'

'Combat Lover'
'Beast' - this is a HUGE play on Gary Jules 'Mad World'!! Good stuff
'Pets and Friends' :)

Next, we move onto Ivy. 'In the Clear' is the only album I own, but I hope to change that soon. Dominique Durand's (born in Paris) voice has this whisper like quality to it that works so well with the atmospheric, meloncholy, trippyness of the whole record. Good stuff.

'Corners of Your Mind'
'Tess Don't Tell'
'Thinking About You'

Hello, stranger. Hello Stranger. Catchy name for a girl lead band with catchy songs to boot! Mark my words that this LA based band will be doing very well, very very soon.

'Take It To the Maxx'
'Her In These Lights'
'Here We Go Again'

The Action Design is another Cali band on my hit list. It's rock, it's punk, it's dance, it's HOT. Their album 'Never Say' is good all the way through, but here are the stand outs for me.

'Pale Horizon'
'Ten Feet of Snow'
'All That Night'

Esthero is the next lady on the list and she is unlike any other! Canadian born, her music features mellow bass lines, jazzy trumpets and Spanish guitar. Think Sade meets Bjork meets Dido. Super friggin cool!!

'Better Life' fun, upbeat tune!
'Wicked Lil Grrrls' featured on Sex in the City!
'Heaven Sent'

CSS (also known as Cansei de Ser Sexy) are from Brazil. Their band name was taken from a quote from Beyonce who said she was "tired of being sexy." Ha ha!!! Love their sense of humor AND their sound.

'Left Behind'
'Move' this is the album version, but there are several other good mixes as well
'Off the Hook'

Minipop is a Cali band and a quite young one as they've only been around for about five years. They're considered indie electronic or "dream pop." Whatever, they're good.

'Someone To Love'

Let's hear it for the California girls!!! I was hesitant to put Silversun Pickups on the list because they're becoming pretty popular. They're pretty great though and really remind me of the Smashing Pumpkins in female form - lots of distorted guitars.

'Lazy Eye'
'Panic Switch' played quite frequently on the radio now!!

Santogold, now known as Santigold will close out this edition of New Music - No Boys Allowed. How confusing though! Way to be like Prince and Puff Daddy and change your name like a million times so no one knows what to really call you. Anyways, she's really weird but most creative people are.

'You'll Find A Way'
'Shove It' ummm, love it!
'Lights Out' now featured on a beer commercial, I thought it was the perfect song to end the list :)

Well, that's all for now! If you weren't into chick bands before you will be now!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hello, Fall!!!

My poor, neglected blog!!!! Will it ever forgive me for being too busy to post on it?? I hope so. Things have been balls to the wall (pardon the term, but it just works) around here for the past couple of weeks. I started school with the kids and that's always a major adjustment for everyone. I didn't think I was ready to start, but it's been nice to have a solid schedule during the day again. So far, so good!! Ethan's doing 4th grade workbooks & readers and taking piano lessons this year, Abby's doing first grade workbooks & second grade readers and still doing gymnastics. I started doing some reading aloud with Olivia too and might work up to some 'letter of the week' if she seems interested enough. We're coming up on her third birthday next month! I can't believe it!!!

Summer went out on a good note, even though I wasn't quite ready for it to be over. We got to go to the county fair in our home town which is always the highlight of summer for me. There is nothing better than fair food!! I had a list that I was working from as far as what I wanted to eat and I pretty much made it happen - jumbo corn dog, lemonade shake up, fried oreos, red caramel corn, cotton candy, homemade vanilla saltwater taffy....... Ya. It was an amazing day. The week of the fair always signals the end of summer for me. That and the sound of the locusts in the tree out front. Those two things right there mean that fall is on its way!! Even my playlist is ready for fall. There are some good tunes about autumn and even more songs with the word "fall" in them. Who knew??

I happen to love fall - Halloween (dressing up and hello, the candy!), the cooler weather, football season (Go Bears!!), wearing jeans and cute sweaters, baking yummy treats, going to the orchard and winery, cooking in the crockpot. All of these are my favorite!! So, in celebration of the upcoming season I am posting a very delicious recipe for apple cake. And guess what, it's in a bundt pan. You know I love bundt pans - they look cool and bundt is just fun to say.


Apple Cake

2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 and grease bundt pan. :) Stir all these together in mixing bowl and set aside......

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs, beaten
3 cups chopped apples

In small mixing bowl, stir together water, butter, applesauce, vanilla and eggs. Add to flour mixture. Mix well and add in chopped apples. Pour into greased bundt pan and bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely. Then.......


3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla

Stir ingredients into small saucepan and heat over medium heat until golden brown. Pour over cooled apple cake!!! Yay, fall!!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Music Monday 8/10/2009

This week is flying by already!! One of my regular blog readers (love you, mom!!) has kindly pointed out to me that it's been awhile since I posted some new music. So here you go!! The indie band 'The Feeling' could be compared to the likes of Keane and Coldplay, but it would only be because of the piano and vocals. The similarity stops there.

'The Feeling' is a five man band from Sussex, England that met in school and played gigs in the Alps to get started. Their debut album 'Twelve Stops and Home' is one of the happiest, most upbeat and joyful albums my ears have ever heard. F-U-N! It's got this 70's vibe going on, but is still very current. I just can't imagine anyone who wouldn't love these guys!! Take a listen...

"Sewn" great love song

"Never Be Lonely" - do you feel the 70s??? LOVE!!!!

"Love It When You Call"

"Fill My Little World"

"I Want You Now"

"Rose" as in the wine, not the flower....

"Same Old Stuff"


The Feeling also put out a second album called 'Join With Us' last year. It's a lot louder and missing some of that good stuff that the first album had, but it's still got that energy and happiness that IS 'The Feeling.'

"I Thought It Was Over"

"Without You"

"Turn It Up"

All in all, I really like this band and their sound. Can't wait to see what else they come up with on the next album!!!

Friday, August 7, 2009


I can hardly wait for this album to be released! Imogen Heap comes out with her new album titled 'Ellipse' this August 25th and I am chomping at the bit. If you're an Immi/Frou Frou fan, check this out!!!

'First Train Home' new single!!! soooooo good!!!


I can't wait to hear the whole album!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Peach Blueberry Crisp

This past Tuesday the kids and I went over to the farmer's market down the road to partake in some produce-y goodness. I stocked up on Michigan peaches and blueberries. While they are super delish to eat just by themselves, I couldn't resist the urge to conjure up some sort of crisp or cobbler. I found a good recipe at that I thought I share!!! With 216 calories and less than 6 grams of fat per serving (minus the vanilla ice cream on top!), it's not too terrible for you either!!


Peach Blueberry Crisp - serves 8

4 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 TBsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon


1 cup quick-cook rolled oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 TBsp soft butter

Combine peaches and blueberries in a casserole dish. In small bowl, combine flour, sugar and cinnamon. Add this mixture to the casserole and mix well with fruit. In another bowl, combine oats, sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly and sprinkle over fruit. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until bubbling and fruit is fork tender. Serve warm or cold. Yummmmmm!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Fireplace Re-do

Is re-do even a real word? I'm not sure, but if it isn't I just made up a new one. This summer has been beyond weird for a lot of reasons - the weather has been weird, we've had a lot of weird health stuff... so ya, just weird. A re-do on this summer might be nice!!! Just as summer is winding down, things are starting to fall into place. I've been shopping for curriculum for the kids and have made my decisions on what we'll be doing as far as school this year. I am going to order next Monday and hopefully start the last week in August. Olivia will be doing a little school this year too! I think as much as I don't want summer to be over yet, getting back into a regular rhythym will be nice.

Last weekend we got to work on a few things inside the house that have been labeled as "in progress" for far too long. The fireplace is finally just about done! Here are the pictures of its transformation through the years.....

bare drywall.... this was our first walk through of the house in '04

'nother one

then we added some wood, tile and molding to it... looks better, but still awkward



in progress....


Ta Da!!!!!

I finally got some pictures in those frames above the couch too!!!

We still have to add some small molding to the fronts/side of the columns and around the wall sconce to finish it

I am on the look out for a cool mantle clock and some candlesticks too!!

Kevin of course did all of the hard work and the building and I did all of the painting. And much like all of our other home improvement endeavors, this project wasn't without its share of catastropies. Upon trying to vaccuum up the drywall dust after sanding, our beloved shop vac had a little malfunction. The filter slipped and shot all and I mean ALL of the dust out the back.... all..... over.... the house! And of course all over Kevin and me. But it's done!!! I also finally painted that bookcase Kevin made last year! It was unfinished, so I finished it!!


It feels good to be able to check some things off the list and I'm super happy with the way these latest projects turned out. Big ups to my man for being able to turn the ideas in my head into something beautiful!!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Growing Too Fast

Just a few new photos of the kids!!! They're growing so fast. Ethan just turned 9, Abby is 6 1/2 and Olivia will be 3 in September. I think they're pretty cute!!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Growing Green

It's been awhile since I blogged about our garden. It's HUGE!!

We've already had a good crop of lettuce and spinach and we've enjoyed a couple of tomatoes too. Everything has been very tasty so far! Abby and I picked some green beans and wax beans this afternoon which we will be eating with dinner tonight!!! I can't wait to taste them!

I am so happy with the way everything is growing. We should be enjoying some of the cherry tomatoes, carrots, more lettuce and some cucumbers very soon. I am so happy with the way everything has turned out and how easy it's been to take care of. I think all of the rain we've had has definately helped. Speaking of rain, check out my new playlist. I never realized how many songs were written about rain and storms!! There is quite a variety of styles too. "Stormy Weather" was a song I used to sing when I was little. I think my dad taught it to me?? Funny!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Eleven Years

Nothing but sappy, emotional posts coming from me lately! Wonder how many regular readers I've turned away?? ;) Hang in there, people! I just have to get this one out and then we'll be back to all the randomness. This July 4th is my 11th wedding anniversary!! I think if you can make it past ten, you're in the clear right?? Seriously though, I cannot believe I have been married to this wonderful man for eleven years. And we started dating back in 1993, so we've been together for...... well, I'm not even going to go there! It's been a long time!

Marriage is an interesting union, that's for sure. Wikipedia says that marriage is a social, religious, spiritual, emotional and/or legal institution of individuals which creates a kinship. Kinship seems like the right word to me. It's better than friendship. It also said that marriage is often viewed as a contract. Huh. Neither one of us really knew what we were in for when we signed that contract. If someone would have told us what to really expect, we probably would have run in the other direction and not looked back!!! Just kidding! It hasn't always been easy though, that's for sure. Lots of things have changed over the past eleven years. We started out in a simple apartment in the city with just the two of us and now we have a house in the suburbs with kids and a dog. And now we don't get to spend as much time together as we used to, but I can honestly say there is still no one on the planet I would rather spend my time with. I guess that's why it works so well. We still like each other!!!

So what has being part of this particular contract taught me???

1) to err is human, to forgive is divine - so he forgot to put the seat down again. Choose your battles, don't sweat the small stuff..... forget about it.

2) just because you have a fight doesn't mean you don't love each other and just because you don't fight doesn't mean you do - you know??

3) what's yours is mine and what's mine is mine ;) share stuff

4) communication is key. And it's more about listening than talking so shut up!

5) if you come to a fork in the road, take it

6) time outs aren't just for kids - if you're super pissed take a break before it gets real bad... like throwing things bad. You want to avoid that if possible

7) look at what's right rather than what's wrong

8) learn to say you're sorry and really mean it

9) some home improvement projects are best if hired out - ex: putting up wallpaper together equals marriage death

10) always remember to say I love you - never assume it's implied

As usual, my playlist sums it up better than I could with words. Most of these songs have very significant meaning to us - 'Iris' was what we danced to at our wedding reception eleven years ago! Happy Anniversary, Kevin. 'I love you' doesn't even begin to touch the surface of how I feel about you, but it will have to do! Here's to many more amazing years together!!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sort of An Update

Wow, is it gorgeous today! I am feeling tons better today, so we've been spending some time outside working in the yard and the weather is amazing! I just wanted to post a small update with news about what's been going on with my health. I still wasn't feeling too good after finishing the z-pack I got for my sore throat. SO back to the doctor I went! I was persistent in wanting them to do another throat culture and not the rapid one they did which had been negative for strep before. So they did that and checked my white count again and did a mono spot test as well. Mono came back negative to my suprise! I figured maybe that's what it was due to the extreme fatigue and awful sore throat. More good news was that my white cells were down from near 20,000 to around 13,000. I think normal range is 4,000-10,000. Don't quote me though!!! But it's good to see that number coming down.

So they sent me home with a tougher antibiotic that I have been taking three times a day and some prednisone for my throat being so swollen still. The meds are helping a lot, but I'm still nasty tired. The nurse called back Friday as well to let me know that my throat culture came back positive for beta hemolytic strep. Evidently it's another nasty kind of strep that doesn't show up in the rapid strep test. But I'm lucky they did catch it and give me something else because I guess it can be pretty serious if it were to spread to my heart or lungs (Jim Henson died of this strep when it spread to his lungs) which it doesn't appear to have done as far as anyone seems to know. I say that without complete certainty because I am still not getting too many answers from anyone!! My only instructions were to finish the meds and take it easy so that's what I'm doing.

I have no idea if that had anything to do with the heart episode or not, but I am seeing an electrophysiologist (cardiologist that specializes in heart rhythym) on Wednesday to find out if there is some type of underlying problem or damage that would have lead to the heart rate issue or not. Either way, there is some urgency there to find out so that it doesn't happen again. There is a lot of focus surrounding sudden cardiac arrest right now due to the untimely death of Michael Jackson this past week. Cardiac arrest is different than a heart attack in that the causes of each are different. Heart attacks happen to people when the coronary artery is blocked and the muscle dies. Cardiac arrest is when the ventricles that pump the blood go into a useless fluttering and the heart stops beating. It's usually related to some sort of underlying disease, arrhythmias, illness or sometimes medication that causes weakness or damage to the heart muscle. When the fluttering or fibrillation happens and it isn't corrected right away, the person loses heart function quickly. Sudden cardiac arrest is the most common cause of death in the US - between 200,000 and 300,000 people die every year. Quite a sobering statistic. And while I wasn't superfan of Michael Jackson, I find his death incredibly sad. I, like many other people, loved his early stuff before he got so odd. Hopefully the medical people can figure out exactly what happened to him so that his family can get some answers.

Well, that's about it for now. Wish me luck on Wednesday!!! This doctor comes highly recommended, so hopefully he's good. Lord knows I'm not a good patient!! ;)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

To Andy

It was a summer evening in June of 1997. I had just graduated from high school and Kevin had finished his first year of college at the technical school in our home town. It was a humid night without much of a breeze. The crickets were chirping and there were lightning bugs out. It would have been like any other summer night, except that it wasn't. Everyone was home because Andy was sick and he was getting worse fast. The doctors had tried everything and there was nothing more to be done. He passed away that night in his sleep. Outside the lightning bugs still lit the night and the crickets still chirped.

I guess it's weird that I only write about Andy on/near the anniversary of his death in June. It's not that I only think about him then or that it hurts to remember him. I think about him a lot. I guess the pain and shock of those first few months after his passing have been dulled and replaced with a quieter kind of sadness that creeps in when I'm not paying attention. Sure it's harder on birthdays, anniversaries or holidays when it's more noticable that someone is missing. But someone will always be missing. He exists only in the memories of those who knew him, a happy and gentle spirit. This is the twelfth anniversary of his death. His name was Andy Reimer. He was 45 years old when stomach cancer took his life.

Andy was one of the best people I knew - that a lot of people knew. Lots of people remember him in different ways, but if you knew him you loved him. He was a happy man with a HUGE personality who would do anything for anybody. He did lots of good things while he was on this earth, but if you asked him I bet he'd tell you his greatest accomplishment was his family. He would be so proud of his boys and all nine of his grandchildren if he were here today. It is a complete tragedy that they'll all grow up without knowing their grandfather. But we make sure to tell them all the stories about him! And there are so many!!

After twelve years, Andy's memory is still strong and so is our family. We have him to thank for that. He may have left us too soon as those who mean the most to us often do, but he left us with a legacy of love and strength and for that I am so grateful.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ethan!!!

Just a quick post with a tear jerker slideshow here! Today is my son Ethan's 9th birthday and I just cannot believe it. I can remember as clear as yesterday bringing him home. All 6 lbs 4 oz of him!! He was so little and sweet. He slept through the night by six weeks old and was probably the best baby ever. He is still a really great kid. He's a quiet, deep thinker but also a total goofball like his dad. But he has my need for alone time and my quick temper. Sorry, Ethan!!!

So anyways, here's a very quick slideshow I put together of pictures I could find!! These are my two fave songs about being a parent. Super sappy, but super true!!! Happy birthday, EThan!!! I love you more than you will ever know!!!

About Blogging Molly

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I am a mom to three great kids - Ethan is 12, Abby is 9 and Lulu (Olivia) is 5. I've been married to my highschool sweetheart for almost fourteen years. I love to paint, renovate and live for anything DIY. I love music and I love to bake. I also teach dance at a local studio. Thanks for stopping by my blog!!!

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