homemade gelato

i love treating my kids on their birthdays.  like, big time.  i mean, what halfway decent parent doesn't??
so, about a month before their party, i start planning.  i always let them choose what theme they want - they are all about that and they take it very seriously.  like, they talk about it all year and they plan and change their minds all year long about what they want for the theme of their next one.  they even plan for the following years, too.  so funny.  and i also ask them what they envision as far as cake, ice cream, music, snacks, etc. 
for molly's birthday she wanted cake and cupcakes.  one chocolate, one pink.  fun!  however, she doesn't like ice cream (i know, what little girl on planet earth doesn't like ice cream?!?!).  so i get to choose every year for her! 
now, for the past couple summers i've been pinning homemade ice cream recipes to my summertime pin board.  and every year i put homemade ice cream on our summer list.  last year i even scored an ice cream maker on clearance! 
so guess what i made for molly's birthday party?  you guessed it! 
i perused my pin board finding the recipe that sounded and looked the best.  and, ironically, the one i found didn't require an ice cream maker.

so i ended up making a test batch back in june.  and eric, julian, and i loooooooved it.  it actually tastes more like and has the consistency of gelato.  so then i figured for molly's birthday i wanted to offer two different kinds, a fruity one and a chocolaty one.  so i just adapted the original strawberry cheesecake swirl recipe and turned it into chocolate cookie crumble! 
although we all (minus molly) loved it and thought it was amazing, as the party approached i was worried people would expect something and be disappointed once they tried what i made.  but i'm really happy and thrilled to report that they were both a total hit!  seriously, people wouldn't shut-up about them.  : D

and for the latter, here's the recipe!
(sorry, i'm keeping the strawberry cheesecake one a secret)

homemade chocolate cookie crumble gelato
1 can (14 oz) organic sweetened condensed milk
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 container (8 oz) cool whip
1 package (3.4 oz) chocolate pudding powder
1 stick organic butter, softened & divided
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
16 double chocolate oreos (about half of one package), crushed
1 jar of good quality hot fudge

1)  in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese, cool whip, chocolate pudding powder, half of the butter, and the vanilla extract until blended and smooth. 
2)  in a medium bowl, add the oreos and the remaining half of the butter.  mix together until the cookie pieces are coated.
3)  dump the cookie mixture into the center of the gelato batter.  don't mix. 
4)  over the cookies, drop spoonfulls of the hot fudge, using the whole jar.
5)  using a large silicone spatula, gently fold the cookies and hot fudge into the gelato batter.  careful, you only need to use 3-5 strokes!  you want swirls and it's easy to over-mix and incorporate everything instead if you are not careful.
6)  pour the mixture into a cute air-tight container and freeze overnight. 


summer fun to the max

we went to action city last week knowing the kids would LOVE it and have a total blast (plus, it was on our summer list).  and i thought we would maybe spend two/three hours here at the most before they lost interest.  nope!  we were there for five - right up until closing time.
they took full advantage of the fun and by the end of the night all six of us were pooped.
needless to say, we all slept in the next morning.


sweet & sassy six

dear molly moo,

whenever you and your brother have a birthday, i like to think back to the very day you were born.  you were born on a beautiful & sunshiny day in mid-july.  i could not WAIT to meet you.  what would you look like?  what color of hair would you have?  how much would you weigh?  what would your cry sound like?  what would your personality be like?  would you be an easy baby?  would you like me?  sooooooo many questions that a mama with a new baby thinks about not only the nine months that she has a darling babe growing in her womb, but also when she's younger and daydreams about what her future everything will be like.  yes, i dreamed of you when i was a young girl. 

dad named you; he always wanted to name his girl molly.  and i was ok with that.  i liked how it was a name everyone knows, but simultaneously not a name every other little girl has.  i still have yet to meet a molly in a mom's group or church children's ministry.  in fact, i meet more dogs named molly.  i think it's such a popular doggie name because people associate it with cuteness, love and affection.  i considered naming you iris.  i've told you that before and, now that you and julian like and watch pokemon (where one of the character's names is iris), you tell me you wish i named you that.  i responded by saying that if i did name you iris you would have wished i named you molly.  that's just how things are!

your middle name, as you know, is scarlet.  we named you after your great-grandpa on dad's side.  his nickname was red because he had red hair.  so it's really just a play on that.  and boy were we surprised when you came into the world with beautiful locks of bright red hair.  dad and i are still astonished about that.  whenever someone calls your hair 'red', however, you correct them right away and insist that your hair is 'auburn!' 

you were the best baby in existence of all babies of all time.  you were constant smiles and you radiated joy and happiness.  you slept through the night from your very first night.  you rarely cried the first year of your life; really only when we would take too long to prepare your food or take the spoon out of your mouth to give you another bite.  so cute - we will never forget that! 

your personality is my favorite.  i've written time and time again how you adore cats.  and adore is the understatement of the century.  i don't even think there is an accurate enough word in the english language to describe your love for them.  i have videos of you from when you just learned to walk chasing after gracie as fast as your little legs would let you.  you called her 'ceecee' then.  a year ago we got dan the cat.  he was made for you, and you him.  i love finding books for you about cats, love dressing you in clothes with cat patterns on them, and love looking for any cat stuffed animal or trinket at thrift stores i go to. 

some other qualities that make up your amazing personality are as follows: 
you have great confidence, but you're not overconfident.  and, going along with that, you are very decisive.  you know what you want and know what you like without a doubt.  in your mind there is no wavering.  and there is no convincing you of anything otherwise.
you also have introverted tendencies, which actually came as a surprise to me.  you talk our ears off day in and day out, but i've observed that you can get overwhelmed and want to be away from the crowd whenever we are at special gatherings.  and you know what?  that's ok!
independence.  you always have been independent.  which sometimes, i must admit, pangs my heart.  don't get me wrong, i think it is such a strength to be so independent and actually wish i was more like that myself.  it has just made me cherish the special moments you want to snuggle me and embrace me with your sweet kisses and strong hugs.  but you've always been so good at playing by yourself, finding something for yourself to do, and being alone.  when we've tucked you in and closed your bedroom door behind us, you usually (unknowingly) serenade us belting out songs from twinkle, twinkle, to let it go, to girl on fire.  you also take it upon yourself to read through a huge stack of books until you fall asleep, or get into your basket of cats, or set up a tea party, or play with your frozen castle.
you are a sweet and very special caretaker.  this, also, has taken me by surprise.  you have said to me before how you don't like babies (although that's changing.  now, you say you when you grow up you don't want to get married and kiss a boy, but you want babies.) so i just thought maybe it would take some time for you to develop a mother heart and intuition.  but, especially in this past year, whenever dad or i aren't feeling well you take it upon yourself to bring us pillows and blankets, a box of tissues, a glass of water, and some stuffed animals and set up a nice place on the couch to tuck us in.  it is the sweetest thing on the planet and it really makes me feel like i'm taken care of.  i think you are probably the most nurturing and sweet-hearted caretaker i've ever had!  and for that, i'm grateful.

some things you love:
disney movies
girl singers and music in general
animals, especially felines
gymnastics and ballet dancing
pink, purple, and red
fashion (you are very particular about what you will let me dress you in)
silly jokes and funny film shorts
having FUN - action city, nick universe, etc.
hello kitty
mac & cheese, pizza, and green goodness juice
swinging on the play set or porch swing
lift-the-flap board books

molly, i look forward to every day i get to wake up to you in my life.  you bless us tremendously.

love you so much,


last photo of you as five, the night before your birthday.


ten on ten: july 2014



 and, coincidentally, it is my beautiful sister's birthday today!  happy birthday, shelby!!
can't wait to see you in a couple days!


a craft for summertime

so i pinned this a while back.  and as i was looking for inspiration for some summer crafts back in may, i stumbled upon it again.  i thought, "how easy, cheap, and kid-friendly!"

i decided to use acrylic paint, even though i kinda shudder every time i let my kids use it.  but i just really wanted the colors to be bright, and i wanted this craft to last in case i decided to hang it outside.

so i gave them their smocks, placemats, some ground rules, and watched them with my eagle eye.  and they did fine.  they were excited about it!  and they really did a great job.  i didn't want the paint job to be perfect.  i wanted it to look like kids did it, if you know what i mean.  once the cans were done drying, i got eric to drill a hole in the bottom of each can.  i found a good stick in the brush pile in our backyard and wrapped it with embroidery floss.  that only took about an hour and is really just as therapeutic as knitting or crocheting!  lastly, i took some twine, threaded it through the hole in the cans, and tied the other end around the stick.  i hung it on our 3-season porch and it fits perfectly!



sunshine & rainbows

i've gotta say, the weather so far this summer has been
for example, today's high was 75°.  in july, people!!!!!!!  typically it would be closer to 90°
it's just been so ideal.
yesterday was also beautiful:
sunshiny all day long until the evening when it rained.  but it was a peaceful and really pretty rain.
and then all of a sudden the sun came out and eric called us into the kitch, and before us was the most magnificent double rainbow i have ever seen in my life.  i really couldn't believe it and was just utterly astonished. 
i grabbed my camera and headed outside in the rain.  i'm glad i captured this, mostly for memory's sake, but these photos do the rainbow no justice whatsoever. 

do you remember the most amazing rainbow you've ever seen?