Sunday, November 29, 2009

La-di-da-di, we like to party

Saturday was the USC v. UCLA game and I threw a party with LOTS of food. It's all about the food. A party can be decked out, but if you don't put effort into good tasting food - FORGET IT.

My friend and his two kids were here from Hawaii so I invited all of our old local college buddies over. Coincidentally everyone is originally from Hawaii and while I try to see everyone fairly regularly, all of us haven't been in a room together in about 14 years. Back then you we wouldn't have guessed we'd all have kids running around.

While it was really about the game, the Baby thought it was about his birthday. Ok...sure it was. So I sort of integrated Batman into the party. I made more Bat-snacks (M&M cookies this time), and I made the same Batman favors, but this time I made little personalized blank cards with the kid's names.

Now, at the Baby's school-party I had made cupcakes and I didn't think anything of it til he said, "Where was my birthday cake?" Um, oops. So I told him I'd make him one hoping he'd forget but instead he said, "Make it Cookies n Cream." Sheesh. What a dicatator.

Batman towered above fondant-Gotham while I served up the rest of the menu:

Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Not-Zippy's Chili
Fruit Salad
Broccoli Salad
Spam Musubi
Red Velvet Cupcakes
Pretzels, Goldfish, M&M cookies
Batman Gotham City cake (how-to, here)

The party didn't end until late and the kids went to bed around 11:30pm. (They normally go to bed at 8!) The kids were still going full blast, but us adults? We were kind of dazed. It was nice to see everyone again, but man, college was a long time ago - we are all old now.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

When I wake up people take up mostly all of my time

Can I just say that my biggest pet peeve is when people commit to you and then CANCEL on you? It's just so rude, and no, I never do forgive. (I am reluctant to make plans with those people ever again.) Thusly - I am throwing a party tomorrow - so thanks for cancelling today, peeps. Rude.

Since I'll be doing the bulk of my cooking tomorrow, I didn't do much for Thanksgiving. While pie was in full effect, I thought a little chocolate was in order. And by little I mean mini cupcakes. Our family eats ALLLL day so these were good to just pop in your mouth as you moved from the couch - to the food - back to the couch.

The leftovers of these cupcakes will give me pep to prep for tomorrow's party. If anyone else cancels they will feel my wrath. That's a real Black Friday, yo.

Mini Espresso Mascarpone cupcakes recipe, here.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Yo ho!

Hope you have a great Thanksgiving and don't kill yourself shopping. Shop online. It's safer and you can wear your PJs.New for the holidays are these Pirate Notepads - perfect holiday gifts for creative little pirates and they are personalized! Now on sale in the shop.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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You say it's your birthday? It's my birthday too, yeah!

If it's not Batman around this here blog, it's Disney, that's for sure.

You knew this was coming though. With the Baby's birthday coming a stop at Disneyland was inevitable. The last time we will go for 'free' since their offer ends this year. Since we have annual passes we actually get a $62 giftcard instead of a free ticket - and I am beyond fine with that.

It is the worst time of year to go but hey, it's his birthday - we don't have a choice. The park is PACKED with tourists, to the point where you can't even walk. Surprisingly though, we had a nice leisurely day, with only one incident. The one ride the Baby insisted on was Winnie the Pooh. I trekked all the way down there and the guy said, "It's closed down, Happy Birthday!" Eh, eff you.

Then the Baby promptly passed out for his afternoon nap so my mom took the Kid and went god knows where. I happily sat down and drank a frozen lemonade because dammit, it's 80 degrees in November!!! Crazy.

We ate lunch at the Tomorrowland Terrace, a place I usually despise but the Baby INSISTED on eating Arroz Con Pollo for his birthday. They have the tiniest little cup of it, but he wanted it. I was happy to see that they now serve healthy alternatives to their normal fast food menu - since I refuse to eat standard burger and fries-type park food. My mom and I ate off the 'healthy menu' and had focaccia sandwiches that came with a nice apple slaw. The Kid went for his ultimate meal: A power pack of cheese, yogurt and apples. Ew. First time he ate his whole lunch though, so I'm not complaining.

While we ate, we sat and watched kids do Jedi training and fight a real-life Darth Vader. Despite my begging, my kids refused to participate. The Kid was scared and the Baby just wanted to eat his freakin' Arroz Con Pollo in peace. Sheesh!

More Disneyland pics, here.

The best part of the day was when the Baby saw a public phone on the wall and yelled, "WHAT IS THAT??" Geez louise, if there ever was a time I felt OLD, that was it.

Although it was crowded the Baby was happy, and we left at a comfortable 2:30pm. Luckily my kids know when to call it quits too. Like every other poor family in the park who probably traveled far and are stuck there - we all know that 2:30pm is actually Melt Down O'clock. Crying, whiny children, Start. Your. Engines. Forget that. Later suckers, we're drivin' home.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I call it performance art, but my friend Ariel calls it wasting time. History will decide.

You might be sick of Batman, but bear with me here.

Believe it or not, besides Thanksgiving I need to prep for another party on Saturday. Insanity up in here. Since I'm busy - for tonight's After Dinner Art, the Kid put together the materials, concept and showed the Baby how to do it. This Kid is a born art teacher.

He found some of my old drafting supplies - trace paper, drafting dots, prismacolors - and set about putting together an art project using these tools. First he laid out their big Batman Brave and the Bold poster. Then he stuck the trace on top.

Using the prismacolors he went about drawing the characters, but only using colors - no outline, no detail. It was actually an interesting exercise in shapes and colors.

The Kid and the Baby worked quietly and steadily until they had done all the characters. What came about was pretty cool. Even though there were no details you could pretty much tell what each character was. It was almost an Impressionist's view...on Batman.

I'm glad he attempted this project on his own without my help. It gave me some insight into his artistic point of view. AND it was an easy project even for the Baby. Who knows what the Kid will tackle next, Cubism? Abstract Art? Soon I'll have a full gallery of different genres of art, except they will all be of Batman.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stormin' through the party like my name was El Nino

The Batman party was probably the easiest and fun party I've ever thrown. Mostly because I didn't have to clean up. We had it at one of those kid's activity centers - I was wary at first, but turns out they do all the dirty work and really entertain the kids so I could just kick back and relax. It was awesome.

While I'm not really a fan of 'party pizza' it was definitely the easiest way to feed 24 crazed starving children. And since the Baby insisted that Batman loves pizza and spam musubi - that's what we had.
I also laid out some snacks - mostly for the adults. Since the parents just stand around and chat at these things, it's nice to have something to munch on.

I filled my ever-handy glass containers: one with a giant tub of Goldfish from Target, some pretzels and I made some chocolate sugar cookies - in bat shape of course.Instead of making a cake, I figured the best way to serve that many kids was to do cupcakes of course. Just hand 'em out and you're good to go. I made them Chocolate Ovaltine, and yes - I hand cut all those Batman logos 'cause I didn't have a cutter. I also made red velvets for the adults, because you know, what adults isn't craving a little sweet while the birthday treats are being handed out, you know?

It was a lot of fun and the kids had a great time. Now - on to the next party!

Batman fondant how-to, here.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies recipe, here.
More party pics, here.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

It's a world of laughter a world of tears

What is the number one question I get via email? Disneyland tips of course. I just took advantage of their layaway plan and renewed my pass and the kid's passes by paying for it monthly, so we will be making the most of next year, once again.

I know I go waaaay more than the average person, here's an example: I went the other day and bought cotton candy. I noticed the price and said to the seller "HEY! I paid less last week!" I was there...Last. Week. Pathetic.

I've written about my tips before, better park food, best bathrooms, etc - so here are a few more.
Disney tips and tricks

Snack Time
Across from the Matterhorn entrance there are a few little carts, but one that stands out it 'Fanstasy Freeze'. Here, they sell Frozen Apple Juice. If you have kids, this is where it's at, yo. Say you are like me and not entirely fond of filling your kids teef and tummies with frozen colored sugar water. Mind you, *I* don't mind drinking it myself, I'm just looking out for my kids. (Me = Downing a Slurpee right now) Anyway, it's hot. The kids are tired and right there - frozen apple juice. I'm not sure if it's sold anywhere else in the park - but you WILL find it here.

I recently gave out some info on strollers and realized, I know waaayyy too much about this topic. Here is what I think, as best as I can condense it without boring you:

If you are going to the park from the parking structure - let it be known that it is a nightmare to get on and off the parking trams. The wait is LONG both going and coming IF you have a stroller. (There is a secret way to walk there, I'll tell you if you need to know)

If you have a kid under three, I recommend your own stroller, it's more comfortable. Otherwise, rental is great because it's easy BUT they've raised the prices (also I have a germ phobia so who knows how clean those things are, make of that what you will.)

Important: if you are going on the 'big train' that goes around the park, you MUST collapse your stoller. This can work against you, parents. See if you are planning to get on and get off in another land, you are going to have to fold that sucker up. Think of your diaper bags, your drinks, your ballons...I'm getting a headache. Only other option - you'd have to park it and wait til you get all the way back to the stroller, meaning you can't get on and off the ride.

Strollers are good, strollers are great. You will die of exhaustion carrying a sleeping kid on your shoulder through crowds of strangers. Trust me.

Pooh Corner - read: candy store
This gem is hidden in the furthest back part of the park which takes forever to get to and back. It's usually overlooked, but it's located right next to Splash Mountain and the Winnie the Pooh ride.

It's a small Pooh themed store, but half of it is also a candy factory. Treats made fresh, and the crowd is MINIMAL compared to the Main Street candy store. It is here that they also make some adorable Pooh theme caramel apples. You can thank me for this advice by paying me in toffee.

The holidays are here, so good luck with the crowds, but the decorations are worth the trip!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

He really drives us bats

Ok. The Baby's Batman birthday extravaganza is in full effect, yo. 24 kids have rsvp'ed. TWENTY. FOUR. What...have I done.

I kind of hate those generic plastic treat bags, I don't know why. So I decided to make my own party favor - not to say that these won't be tossed immediately, but I thought it might be a neat craft challenge for myself. I wanted something simple and clean - just something nice and stylish, even. Yes I know these kids are 3 - but 3 year olds can have nicely designed things too...can't they? Hm.

I took my Easter craft of making a bunny out of an envelope and just knew that I could do it with Batman. I got some black envelopes and it was as easy as that. I am putting up the step by step process, I also made a pdf template for you to make your own. It's easy and fun and so very Batman-like.
Well, off to party prep and make cupcakes or whatever else Batman likes to eat. According to the Baby, Batman likes pizza and spam musubi.

Batman envelope craft pdf, here

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time it's's tricky, tricky, tricky, tricky

The Baby loves meat but has been turning up his nose at any and every vegetable. Meanwhile the Kid loves the veggies and won't touch meat. These kids are killing me. But let's deal with the Baby today.

Ground chicken meatballs are pretty common in Japanese cooking, sometimes they are skewered or there is sauce - I change mine up but this time around I did something a little...sneaky.

I hid edamame beans in them. Tricky, I know. I call them Chicken Meatballs, What, cause that's what the Baby said when he found out my evil plan. All was good until the kids decided to bite them instead of just popping them in their mouth. I WAS FOUND OUT. The Kid got a kick out of it and LOVED THEM. The Baby on the other hand, is now suddenly suspicious of everything I feed him. Oh well. If you can't trust your mother then who can you trust? Poor kid.

Chicken Meatballs, What - recipe, here.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Heroes in a half shell!

The kids are always making me come up with crazy craft ideas on the spot. Yesterday the Baby decided that he needed (insert whine here) a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume, stat. Nevermind that he's never seen the show - I guess his friends at school have? I don't know - but he is now an expert, apparently.

When they come up with these ideas they don't want bought costumes, they don't even want me to sew them (thank god-not in the mood), they want to make them out of...paper. Aha! Proof that these are my children.I busted out the big roll of butcher paper (I don't butcher my own meat, but I do draw large things) and drew outlines of turtle shells, straps and masks. I made them do the dirty work and color it in however they want.

Ah, what fun packing tape and paper can make you. They both did them very much their own way, and once cut out, I thought they were pretty cute. Now the Baby wants me to make him an Optimus Prime out of boxes and paper. can FORGET IT.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

If ever I believe my work is done, then I start back at one

Turning one is a big deal in some cultures. With family from Hawaii - I can tell you that my kid's parties were no exception. But I'm beyond that now, so it's fun to watch other people go through the same process.

This weekend I got to make the cupcakes for a little girl's big 1st birthday party. 120 of them to be exact. It was ladybug themed AND pink, which was so very cute.
I made fondant ladybug cupcakes, polka dot sparkly green cupcakes and pink cupcakes. Yes, I overcame my fear (temporarily) and did something with polka dots. You probably won't be seeing that happen again. For some reason varying sizes of dots don't bother me, but the same size does - so I went with the former. I think they came out super cute.

Whenever I bake something new I always sketch out my ideas, and I knew I wanted these to look a certain way, therefore they'd take a lot of fondant. A LOT. I haven't rolled that much fondant in a long time and I sort of...can't feel my arms. The ladybugs themselves were over 180 pieces. Ow.

The cupcakes were red velvet and I think they went perfectly with the ladybug theme. The mom of the birthday girl made the awesome cupcake toppers, which made the cupcakes even more festive. Happy first birthday - here's to many more!

Ladybug fondant how-to, here.
Sparkly Dot cupcake how-to, here.

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World's smallest slice of bundt cake

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fish heads, fish heads, rolly polly fish heads...

These kids are growing fast and always, always hungry. I can't keep up. I need to pack a snack for school, snacks for the car, snacks on the weekends. I try to change things up so they don't get bored. I made up this little fishy snack mix and it was a big hit!

When I was a kid I'd go fishing with my Grandpa- he always used marshmallows and those seemed to be the most effective bait. The strawberry marshmallows reminded me of that, then I added pretzel sticks for 'rods' to catch the cinnamon graham goldfish cookies. A stretch, I know - but I am trying to make food more interesting, and you know what? It totaly worked. The kids were all over this snack.

On the weekend I added a little yogurt dipping pond for the fishies and they were good to go. Snacktime success!

Goin' Fishin' Snack Mix recipe, here.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's just a rumor that we spread around town, by the women and children, soon we'll be shipbuilding

During our usual after-dinner art project, lately we can't get past anything Superhero related - which is fine by me after a two day run of drawing Transformers. Nevermind that the kids have never seen the movies - I now have twenty drawings of Bumblebee.

The Kid - super nerd recycler - is always on my case about throwing things away and always digging through the recycling bin. I can't toss a freakin' egg carton without getting the third degree. Recently he found some small cardboard and went to work. In ten minutes he had built a little recycled pirate ship. Huh. Not bad.

More on recycling, ever since I brought home the freaky Batman mask, the Kid has been wanting to make his own. So he went with Batman, I was told to make Green Arrow - let's just say working with nubby crayons ain't easy fo' sheezy. The Baby opted out, probably knowing I wouldn't keep a Green Arrow mask for myself. Smart.

Here comes the ultimate in recycling - I didn't have string for the masks, or even sticks to hold them so I dug in a drawer and pimped them out with...
That's right. A single chopstick and a Sprinkles cupcake spork. Talk about renew, reuse recycle...ghetto style. Except now how am I going to eat cupcakes?? Man!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's peanut butter jelly time!

What's the first theme park you think of - here in Southern California?? Ok. Forget it. What's the second? That's right - Knott's Berry Farm!

Although nowadays I consider Knott's janky-town, back in the day it was great and it really did used to be a farm and they are known for cultivating the Boysenberry, which is a combo of raspberry, blackberry and loganberry. Frankly, I think it tastes like grape - but what do I know I'm no jelly expert. We ate a lot of it as kids and I thought it'd be a nice twist to a peanut butter and jelly cupcake.

I have been working on this cupcake for a long time and I just love the peanut buttery cupcake together with the creamy frosting. Then again - anything peanut butter tastes like heaven to me while I'm standing in the dark corner of the kitchen stuffing it into my mouth. LOOK AWAY KIDS.

My friends remarked on the pure HEFT of them...I don't know if that's good or bad, but I did try to put a lot of jelly in them to get the peanut butter to jelly ratio just right. Again, I'm no jelly expert, I'm also no math expert.

I got the adorable liners at Bake it Pretty and they sure liven up a beige peanut buttery world. I handed these cupcakes out as gifts - now everyone really is Jelly Filled.Peanut Butter and Boysenberry Jelly cupcakes recipe, here.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

But ask me why, and I'll spit in your eye

Last week the Baby was full on SICK. It felt like the Aporkalypse but he recovered after three days so I guess I'll never know. How did I know he was well? On the third day I caught him cannonballing off the sofa. Yeah...back to school for you, sucka.

Even though it hasn't been exactly cold, when there is sick - there is soup. And even though the Baby wasn't feeling well, he definitely wasn't feeling clear broth of any kind. That boy wanted meat, stat.Since it's near impossible to leave the house with a sick child, I just pulled from the pantry and came up with a quick but hearty soup. Luckily I had leftover meatballs in the freezer.

I'll probably make this a lot more since it was pretty satisfying and even the meat-hating Kid loved it. I think it will make anyone feel better Hamthrax or no Hamthrax.

Meatball Pastina Soup recipe, here.
Sweet Cornbread Muffins recipe, here.

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

The waitress said "Well no, we only have it iced," so we jumped up on the table and shouted "anarchy"

This is the last week for the Hello Kitty 3 Apples exhibit at Royal T. Seems like just yesterday I was celebrating the opening. The place is packed as people try to get their kitty fix on before it ends.

This past Sunday a small group of us got together to have the cutest tea ever. Hello Kitty Kawaii Tea! There were Hello Kitty sandwiches, cupcakes, cookies and of course - tea.

Our group just so happened to be filled with food bloggers/people who love food and Hello Kitty. The wait was a little longer than expected but it gave us all time to catch up.

I would love if this exhibit was permanent, but its run has been short and sweet. You have until this Sunday to stop by and check it out and get your waffle on...or you can just make your own. Shh.

More Hello Kitty Kawaii Tea pics, here.

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Doin' it, doin' it, doin' it well.

So much to do this weekend. Like R. Kelly I'm cleaning out my closet but not in a gross way. I put a lot of stuff up on ebay - purses I've never used, things I bought for gifts and never gave - Kate Spade, Tokidoki, etc. - if you want the link send me an email.

Now that the closet is cleared the rest of the day consists of: cupcakes and flu shots. If I could somehow marry the two, I'm sure I'd be a millionaire.


Friday, November 06, 2009

Good morning hustlers that's if you're still living

Breakfast for dinner is my go-to around here. The kids just LOVE it and it's pretty much a guarantee that all the food will be eaten. That and it's so darn comforting.

I like big breakfasts so I usually have a lot of things going at once. Waffles, potatoes, eggs - bacon is a must, but frying it? UGH. Not only is it messy but when I have a lot of pans going the last thing I want it to be attacked by popping bacon greaze.

The next best thing is to bake it in the oven. No. Wait. The BEST thing is to bake it in the oven. No popping grease, no mess, and crispy crispy bacon.

I like to use thick Applewood smoked bacon, it has the best flavor and is pretty hearty. My trick? I have two secret of them is to drizzle the bacon with a little syrup before you bake it. The other is to twist the bacon so that you don't have to stop in the middle and turn the suckers. I'm a busy woman, no time for turning! It's so good, you can't beat the flavor combo, I promise.

I served up the bacon with some bat-shaped French Toast. What could be more festive for a Halloween, I mean breakfast.

Cut-it-out French Toast recipe
Maple Syrup Bacon recipe

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Aw, nuts.

I love nuts, haw! In my mind, the kids were just mules for me to get my hands on peanut butter cups on Halloween. But for some reason my plan backfired, and much to the happiness of the Kid, they got one. ONE measly peanut butter cup?! I can't live on that!!

I had to take matters into my own hands. I dug through my pantry and luckily found a bar of chocolate. Then waaaaaay in the back I opened a new jar of peanut butter. I keep it far away from the kids, it's like a secret stash.

Working late at night on this secret operation made me feel very sneaky but boy was it worth it. To me, they were the best peanut butter cups ever. Still, I wouldn't pass up a store bought one wrapped in orange paper if it showed up on my doorstep. Just sayin'.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups recipe, here.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I'm Batman

I went to a party store and I happened upon this plastic mask. Very old skool, like the kind they sold in the 70s. I thought it was cute so I gave it to the Baby. Um. Big mistake. I was driving the kids to school and was going to change lanes, so I looked behind and saw this:YIKES. I mean really. What were the cars driving next to me thinking, I'm wondering? Suddenly it's like a scene from Point Break - I felt like I was being mugged. The Baby paid no mind. He was perfectly content wearing his freaky mask, just chillin'. If you see us on the freeway, don't worry. He won't mug you, he's only 3.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Venkman: What did you DO Ray?
Venkman: "It's the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man."

Nothing sounds as warm and toasty as a chocolate marshmallow cupcake on Halloween. Yeah well it was 75 degrees that day and the kids were sweating. Not what I had in mind. I may always be complaining about the weather here, but let me say that an almost full on body smothering Flash costume coupled with the heat, may or may not have contributed to the Baby falling victim to the flu over the weekend. Sad. Poor kid didn't even get to enjoy his Halloween candy. Um...cause I ate it.

I saw these little snack size packs of mini marshmallows and I thought they were the perfect size - for what I have no idea. I just liked the fact that they came in different flavors, chocolate, strawberry, marshmallow? I guess that's what white is.

Anyway, cooking with marshmallows can be explosive in the oven, but I think I got it just right and no one died a la Ghostbusters. (I gotta say, I'm shocked that you can get Ghostbusters 1 AND 2 for just $6.99. Merry me.)

In any case, I like how the cupcakes turned out - maybe I'll make them again with some hot chocolate when the weather finally turns...whenever that is.

Chocolate Marshmallow Cupcake recipe, here.


Monday, November 02, 2009

Jim: Yes, I am the popular networking site known as Book Face.

Halloween was weird this year. It didn't feel like it was a big deal, and I think the neighborhood agreed. No one had their lights on, a lot of houses were up for sale and empty anyway. One house that did have his porchlight on answered and said, "OH. Uh, I don't have anything" as if he had no idea it was Halloween. Oh well.

Despite all that, we spent a nice time at block party playing with friends until the sun went down. Eventually we did hit some houses who were in the spirit. I constantly had to remind the kids to SPEAK UP and say the words 'trick or treat' and 'thank you'. There's nothing ruder than a kid just standing there with a bag open, good lord. We ran into a lot of nice people and I guess the high would be the people who gave out GIANT PIXIE STIX, and the low would be the dude who gave out toothbrushes with the address of his orthodontics office. Come on, man.

Dragging around two kids by myself was exhausting. The Kid didn't want to go anywhere "scary" i.e. dark - hello it's nighttime, sucka. And the Baby, well he was just losing steam. Slowest. Flash. Ever. Eventually I gave up and we made our way to O.G.'s house. I suppose I got the best trick or treat prize cause she gave me an 1/8th of an already eaten sandwich and a pickle....What.

I told the Kid that they couldn't eat the candy til I looked at it and separated it all. No peanuts, you know. So when I came back to the kitchen apparently he took it upon himself to separate it all, complete with signs. I could not stop laughing. "Really bad" was the stuff with peanuts. "Kind of good" was the chocolate (that the Baby could eat) and you can guess the "Good Stuff" according to him, was for him - gummies, tootsie rolls, sweet tarts - anything without chocolate or peanuts.The best part about this weekend was Daylight Saving. For the first time ever, the kids actually SLEPT IN, instead of the reverse and I got to rest until a very late 6:30am!! Which is really 7:30, but who's counting, I'll take all the zzz's I can get.