Missing the Midwest

It might be the unusual humidity Southern California is experiencing right now (no thanks to the monsoon coming in from Arizona - blech), or maybe it's the fact that I stumbled upon these photos that I snapped while we were back. Whatever it may be, I'm missing the Midwest today.

If you've never spent anytime in the Midwest I'm sorry. I truly am. The people there are honest and genuine. The pace of living isn't fast, it isn't slow, it's comfortable. There isn't a better place to raise kids; I remember growing up running crazy around our neighborhood without a care in the world. Leaving your front door unlocked wasn't unusual, that was the norm. If it was super hot, or super cold outside, it was almost mandatory you ran into the local grocery store - known as HyVee - with your car doors unlocked, keys in the ignition, and still running. And let's not forget, the sweet corn is to. die. for.
The left photos, top & bottom: I could not WAIT to get out of the car and take a picture with Marcus with corn in the background.
Center top photo: An Iowa sunrise.
Center photo: WELCOME TO IOWA!!!
Center bottom photo: Storm clouds rolled in and gave us a nice little shower, complimented with thunder (something we rarely get in Souther California)!
Right photo: Beautiful row upon row of corn. 


Happy Marcus Monday!

I'm not sure there's anything cuter than a bebe in a tuxedo onesie.
And LOOK at those chunky thighs!!!

Happy Monday :)


Truffle Filled Cupcakes

The little monkey turned four months old this week. I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than to make him some delish cupcakes.

While we were in Iowa a few weeks ago my mom made these for Marcus' baptism and I promptly fell in love. I've been looking for an excuse to make these. A four month birthday seemed fitting. Right?
The batch is a big 'un. Think along the lines of handing some off to your neighbors (which I did), send some to work with your husband (which I did), but don't forget to hold a few back for yourself (which I did).

According to Scott, one co-worker stated these were the best cupcakes he'd ever eaten. One neighbor shot me a text saying how "YUMMY" they were. Still waiting on the verdict from another neighbor. However, as she was closing her door I heard her 6-year old son say that he really liked the frosting.
This recipe is a compilation of a couple different recipes. And, naturally I had to add my own little tweaks and twirks here and there. The next time I make this I plan to use the Vanilla Bean Cupcakes or  French Vanilla Cupcakes, whipped up by Erin over at Lemon Sugar (if you still haven't checked her out you have no idea what you're missing)!

Truffle Filled Cupcakes
1 (18.25 ounce) box white cake mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups water
2 Tbsp vegetable oil, or canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
*1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
4 large egg whites
Approximately 36 truffles (I wasn't about to pay $7 for a pack of 9 truffles. I grabbed a couple bags of Rolos and replaced the truffles with two Rolos per cupcake. It was a glorious decision; my mom used a box of Russell Stover chocolates in lieu of truffles, also a great alternative.)

Preheat oven to 325.
Place cupcake liners in cupcake pans. I needed about 40 liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together cake mix, flour, sugar, and salt.
Add remaining ingredients and beat with a hand mixer for 2 minutes, or until well blended.
Use an ice cream scoop (GENIUS!) to fill prepared cupcake tins - the scoop fills the cupcake liners about 3/4 full, which is perfect.
Bake 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of the cupcake comes out clean.
As soon as you take the cupcakes out of the oven, use a kitchen scissors to cut an "x" about 1/2 way into each cupcake.

Place your truffle (or in my case, Rolo) in each "x." The warm cupcake will cause the truffle to melt into the cupcake (see photo below).
Cool cupcakes on a cooling rack.

Left photo: Creating the "x."
Right photo: The stuffed cupcake.

*The original recipe called for sour cream. I knew Greek yogurt would be a fabulous healthier substitute. I was spot on!
6 oz white chocolate, for baking, chopped
1 pkg cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), softened
1/2 tsp Vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl.
Microwave, uncovered, on high for 1 minute 30 seconds.
Stir every 30 seconds.
Let the chocolate stand for about 3 minutes, or until slightly cooled.
In a clean stainless steel mixing bowl, combine melted chocolate, cream cheese, butter and vanilla.
Beat on medium speed until well blended.
Slowly add powdered sugar; beat well.

* I tired to substitute Greek yogurt for the cream cheese. In this instance it was a flop. The frosting came out much too runny. In the end I had to make a second batch of frosting using 1/3 less fat cream cheese. 
These little gems would be fabulous at a bridal or baby shower (I'm picturing truffles filled with pink or blue - how fun would it be to announce the baby's gender that way?!). Or, if you're like me, you'll use your infant turning four months as a perfectly good reason to whip these up.


Source: Cupcakes - Adaptations from Recipe Girl and Pampered Chef
Frosting - Pampered Chef


Class of 2002

I wasn't joking when I said we packed a lot into our midwest trip. Time spent in KC. Time spent in Iowa. A baptism. And, a class reunion.

How the heck is it possible that 10 years has gone by? It doesn't feel like we graduated 10 years ago. I don't feel like I'm 28, though some days my body has its own agenda...

It was great to catch up with old friends, meet new spouses, and let things fall back into step, as if 10 years hasn't really passed us by.
Night one.
It's so good to know some things never change. :)
Night two.
Though we were missing a lot of our classmates, those of us that were there sure did have enough fun for our entire class. :)

I have to give a shout out to my husband for being such a good sport. He knew a total of two people prior to all the festivities. By the time everything was said and done, he'd made a few new friends. A couple of my girl friends commented on how lucky I am to have such a great guy. But of course, I already knew that.
Thanks for being such a supportive husband!
My friends all love you :)
To the class of 2002, I can't wait for our next reunion!


Date Day!

To say we were spoiled while we were home is a serious understatement. On top of seeing a plethora of family and friends we were treated to the pleasantries of having family offer to watch the little monkey so Scott and I could enjoy some guilt-free adult time.

We had a free day to do whatever we pleased. Off to Omaha we went!

First stop, the Henry Doorley Zoo.
The last time I'd been to the zoo I was in fourth grade. No joke. I'd forgotten how awesome Omaha's zoo is. This year Trip Advisor (the world's largest travel site), named the Omaha Zoo as the number one zoo in the US.
When Marcus is old enough to enjoy the zoo - and it's not an outdoor inferno - we'll be sure
to get him to Henry Doorley.
Snapping photos of animals in their exhibits bores me a bit, however, I left you with a few photos (above) that made me smile. 
The dessert (that dome thing you see in the upper left photo) is awesome. While we were at the zoo it was H-O-T. It was cooler inside the dessert than outside. Eek.
The aquarium was fabulous, and a nice retreat from the heat and humidity. 
And the butterfly garden! That right there, folks, is pretty much all I needed for our zoo trip to be a smashing success! 
Should you ever make a trip to Omaha (which I'd highly encourage) be sure to stop by the zoo!

To cool off from the blazing heat - keep in mind, in SoCal a "hot" day along the coast is about 86 degrees without humidity - we headed to the Old Market. Seriously, one of my all time FAV spots. No trip to Omaha is complete without a stop in the Old Market.

To the Upstream Brewing Company we went. I love the exposed brick walls, the hard wood floors, and unique food choices on the menu. Oh, and let's not forget their BEER!
We noshed on a cheese and artichoke dip and washed that down with a raspberry lager (for me) and a wheat beer (for Scott). I ordered a to die for shrimp pizza while Scott ordered a burger (yawn!). Looking for a place to grab lunch/dinner in Omaha? The Old Market. Upstream Brewing Company. 

Lastly, I COULD NOT WAIT to head to my ALL-TIME favorite spot in Omaha (in the Old Market, naturally)
There is this quaint little ice cream shop, Ted and Wally's, that makes my mouth water just thinking about their homemade ice cream. Of course I insisted we walk to the shop for a scoop, or two.
I was giddy just thinking about what flavors they would have to offer. Then, I saw the sign on the door (see lower left photo)... They were CLOSED! The freezer was broken. Whaaaat? Shut the front door! Rather, OPEN the front door!
It was practically 100 flippin' degrees, and the ice cream shop's freezer was broken. Insert serious sad face. Guess that just means we'll have to try again the next time we're in Omaha.

It was so great to get out and have our own little "date day." But, when we got home I couldn't have been more excited to be greeted by my little monkey..
Marcus and Uncle Tyler hanging out.
Can you tell the little monkey was a bit wiggly for the photo?? :)


Four Months Old!

My little man is four months old, yesterday! Due to operator error I wasn't able to get pics loaded on the computer, so I'm a day late. Whoops.
Unofficial stats:
Height - 27ish inches (96th percentile)
Weight - 18.5ish pounds (95th percentile)
We see the doctor for the four month check up and vaccinations (EEK) next week, so we'll have the official ruling on height and weight then.
Generally speaking, we have one happy, healthy little boy!
In the past month I've learned:
- Every 90 minutes a nap is needed.
- You can't successfully get much anything done in 90 minutes.
- There's a non-stop faucet of drool happening 24/7.
- Bibs are simply crucial these days.
- Thus far, traveling via plane has been a fairly easy gig.
- Sleeping through the night is happening more often.
- Diapers these days are simply disgusting (and how is it I'm the one who usually gets stuck changing the really dirty diapers?!).
- Marcus insists on "standing" (assisted, of course) rather than lying or even sitting. Being up high to see everything is a must for the big guy.
- Marcus is beginning to enjoy his bumbo, and assisted sitting, more often. Tummy time is becoming more and more tolerable.
- If the little guy can find a way to get something into his hands it's inevitable what ever the object may be will end up in his mouth, and covered in slobber.
- Marcus LOVES looking, and laughing, at that little monkey in the mirror.
- Giggles are starting to happen. I. Love. Giggles.
- We will do just about anything to solicit a giggle.
- Along with giggles, we are hearing screeches and screams (most often of joy) as the little man communicates more and more with us.
- I would give anything to slow down time. My baby boy continues to be my pride and joy.
To celebrate Marcus' 1/3 birthday I'm making cupcakes. Stay tuned. :)
Upper left: Ah, the spit bubbles. Also know as the fountain of drool.
Upper right: Something is perplexing.
Lower left: No photo shoot would be complete without Marcus tilting.
Lower right: The photo shoot abruptly ended after this pic - he was D.O.N.E.!


Happy Marcus Monday!

As I posted last week, Marcus was baptized while we were back in the Midwest. And, during our trip home my best friend Amy, and her little one, Lorelei, came to visit us.

Amy brought her awesome camera and snapped some very snazzy photos of Marcus in his baptismal outfit.
I'm no fool, there will be days when my little man frustrates me to my wits end. On those days I'm going to have to revert back to these photos to remind me what a little angel I have.

Happy Monday!



There was a lot going on while we were back home. But, one of the main reasons we made the 1,500+ mile trip with an almost four month old was to baptize the little man.

Upper left: Proud Mommy and Daddy with the little monkey.
Upper right: Godfather Tyler and Godmother Carolyn
Bottom: Grandma and Grandpa D and Grandma and Grandpa M
Newly baptized!
Check out that sweet bow tie :)
Even my bestie, Amy, her hubs, Kevin, and their little Lolo made the trip for the baptism!
Upper left: The babes right after the baptism
Upper right: Spending some quality BFF time together.
Lower left: The babies doing well for yet another photo op.
Lower right: Two point five seconds later, the kiddos had enough.
Below is a quick, 12 second, clip of my big guy getting blessed with holy water. I was sure he'd hate it. I was pleasantly surprised by how well he did.

Thank you to our family and friends for making the trip to partake in such a special moment for Marcus. We are so blessed to be surrounded by such love and support.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such a these."
~Matthew 19:14 (NIV)


BBQ Baby

It's an absolute MUST that we stop by Oklahoma Joe's when ever we are back in Kansas City. Sure, sure, there are about a billion 'que joints in the city, but this one is consistently reviewed, and revered as one of Kansas City's BEST!
It's inevitable, he's going to grow up lovin' him some good BBQ.
Marcus even got to meet Ryan!
Thanks for joining us for lunch Ryan.
Joe's sauce is now being sold by the bottle.
You'd better believe we stocked up on this stuff and flew it home with us. :)
We didn't let the little man have a taste, but he sure was eyeing my sandwich.
Turkey Z-man, only the BEST. sandwich. EVER.
The original joint is found in a gas station near downtown. How cool is that? If you're ever in the area do yourself a huge favor and grab some slow smoked goodness!


Marcus and Lorelei

Words can't even begin to describe how thrilled I was when I found out my best friend, Amy, her hubby, Kevin, and their little angel, Lorelei, were planning to visit us while we were in Iowa.

To have our little ones together made me happier than I'll even be able to express. My heart was bursting with joy and love as our babies were introduced to one another.
We didn't plan it but our kiddos were decked out in team favorites.
If Amy and I have anything to say about it, these two will become best friends! Let's face it, we're  not really going to give Marcus and Lorelei an option. They're going to be BFFs and they're going to love it. :)

Amy brought her super sweet camera and we had an impromptu photo session.
Marcus was having NONE of this.
Lolo posed like a pro!
It quickly became obvious who was the better subject for the pictures. Of all the pictures snapped of Marcus only one made "the cut." Lolo, on the other hand, was a champ. She had several photos taken, all of which turned out ADORABLE.

To have our babies so close in age (five weeks apart) is nothing short of a miracle. As Amy says, it's as if God had it planned all along. 


Jalapeno Corn Dip

While in Kansas this past week/weekend I had the perfect excuse to make a dip I'd been squirming to try. My sister-in-law is expecting October 2, and we were celebrating her little peanut with a baby shower. She's not finding out if she's having a boy or girl and it's killing me - however, I believe I'm psychic, and firmly believe she's having a girl. I digress... Back to the dip...

Holy geez-oh-Pete's. This stuff is so, so, SO good. I did a little taste testing before the shower and it took a heckuva lot of will power to stay away from the dip after the first bite.

Jalapeno Corn Dip
5 cans Shoepeg Corn
5 jalapenos
2 green onions
1 cup fat free plain Greek yogurt
4 cups of Mexican blend cheese
Drain the cans of corn.
Slice, seed, and chop the jalapenos.
Slice the green onions.
Add all ingredients to a large bowl, mix it up well.
Serve and experience instant addiction.
P.S. Don't let the Greek yogurt scare you. You will never, ever know you're eating yogurt, pinky swear. The original recipe called for mayo and I knew I could health-ify the recipe with my beloved yogurt.
Pretty sure everyone who tried this dip fell in love. I can't tell you how many people asked for the recipe. For the love of corn and jalapenos, try this dip out and bring it to your next party/BBQ/pot luck.

Source: Adaptations from Never Trust a Skinny Cook


Happy Marcus Monday!

Marcus made another trip to the Midwest! We packed in a LOT during our time home. And, we were greeted to the heat and humidity that only Iowa and Kansas can offer.

With all the cute clothes hanging in my son's closet I try to keep him well dressed.
My little monkey.
However, it appears we will have to rock the birthday suit more often, especially when it feels like a sauna when you open the front door.

Happy Monday!



Over the 4th, and through the weekend we had some very special visitors.

Our little monkey finally met the rest of the family!
Cousin Ethan and Marcus.
Some of my favorite memories from my childhood involved countless holidays and summers spent at my Grandma's spending hour upon hour playing with my cousins. I hope for the same for my little man.
Cousin Nick and Marcus.
The whole gang, at one of our favorite local Italian restaurants. 
Thanks for visiting Aunt Susan, Uncle Bryan, Cousin Ethan, and Cousin Nick. We loved having you!