My Avery Turns 12 + Cakepops!

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Oh if the whole world could know my Avery Rose!  I cannot believe she is 12 years old.  My baby…a year away from being a teenager.

She has been a joy her whole life, even during her 2′s & 3′s when the stubborn streak in her could turn a simple grocery shopping trip into the best lesson in humbleness for me as her Mom.

Now that she is 12, I rarely see that stubbornness used in negative ways, but boy do I see a strength in my girl that is going to take her far.  There is a resoluteness about her, a grounded-ness that shows the world that she is more concerned for others than herself. She has not gotten caught up in trying to impress those around her with artificial-ness, but instead shows her love through deeds and  gifts…most of which are homemade, whether through the arts or through her amazing ability to bake.

She lives for a celebration, whether a holiday or a birthday, because that is where her gifts thrive.  She goes around this house, usually in a sneaky manner so to ‘surprise’ those she loves, and will go all out in her creations to signify that what we are celebrating at the time is important.  She will spend hours on Pinterest coming up with ideas of what would be the best way to love on her family, and will come to me, perch on the end of my bed in the evenings when she has the most of my attention, and whisper her best laid plans. She shares with me as I am the one who has the car keys to get the supplies she would need, and she knows I too, love to love others in this way.  There is always a carefully drawn-up list of all that will be needed, and discussion led by her of how to make it the most frugal.

My girl had to take the reins in planning her own birthday this year, as I have been down and out the past 2 weeks with medication side effects that I won’t bore you with in this post. I will say it was severe and knocked me down harder than I have been knocked down physically since my chemo days.

Because I was not well, Avery was extra independent in her birthday planning, but still would come and sit at the end of my bed to fill me in on updates, as that had become just about the only place she could find me the last 2 weeks.  She was so sweet in reassuring me that she didn’t mind making her own birthday treats and plans.

We celebrated her birthday this past Sunday, and the day could not have been better.  The day before, my symptoms had let up in the early evening enough for me to get my girl out with her list and to buy her birthday supplies.  It was sweet time with her, the day was warm and it felt so good to get out. I was slower than usual, and honestly, the forced slow pace made the time even sweeter.

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She had her list in her hand and was on a mission at Target, and I followed with my heart just bursting with pride for my girl. She chose some fun chevron napkins that had a color in them that matched some leftover party balloons we already had at home.  She chose some Starburst candies to sprinkle on the table, careful to get the kind that had wrappers to match the napkins.

Her birthday plan was to come home from church, eat one of her favorite meals with lots of treats, then go with the family and a friend to a place in town called Defy Gravity.  It is an indoor trampoline park that is fairly new in town.  I loved the plan.  It was simple and doable.  I prayed that my stomach would feel well enough to watch my lovlies and their friends bounce up and down.

With her list in hand, we bought all the groceries we would need to make her favorite sandwiches.

Here was her menu plan:

Baked Ham & Cheese Party Sandwiches

Potato Chips

Strawberries

Mini Cans of Sprite

Cakepops

I saw her eyeing some fun easter mini-cupcakes, and she had been so sweet about being frugal that I told her to grab them.  They came a dozen and would be perfect to stick 12 candles in.  Her eyes and face lit up at my suggestion, and that alone was worth the artificial color and ingredients, plus the $2.99 they cost.

She scoured the dollar section for some treats to make treat bags for her friend and sisters.  She looked over some super cute treat bags, then said she didn’t need the fancy bags that cost over 3 dollars.  She came home and made her own adorable treat bags out of brown paper sacks and washi tape. Again, my heart almost burst. What a sweet, creative, frugal girl.

When we got home, Avery got busy making the table festive & blowing up her balloons, then got to work on the cake pops.  I thought she would be in the kitchen for hours making those cake pops.  Well, she wasn’t.  She made the cake part and we watched a family tv show as it baked.  When the cake cooled and it was time to make the pops, I left her alone in the kitchen and hoped she would have good luck.  It was not even 30 minutes later that she brought the finished cake pops up to me.  They were perfect and so cute.  She told me she had read up on how to make the perfect cake pop and how all the tricks that she learned really helped make it easy.

Here is the recipe she used, with tips from my Avery to follow:

Cake Pops

Ingredients:

1 cake mix + ingredients listed on box

1/3 cup prepared frosting

candy melts (available at most craft stores)

6 inch lollipop sticks (available at most craft stores)

sprinkles (optional)

food coloring (optional, to tint candy melt if desired)

styrofoam (to hold the pops upright to dry)

 

Instructions:

Prepare a boxed cake mix as directed on the box.  (Avery used a chocolate cake mix.)  Let the cake cool, then crumble the cake into fine crumbs with your hands in a large bowl.  Mix in about 1/3 cup of icing (Avery used store bought milk chocolate frosting) using your hands.  The mixture should be dense but not gooey.  Using a cookie scoop (Avery used a 1 T scoop) scoop out mixture.  Roll the mixture into your hand and pack it tightly into a ball.  Continue until mixture is gone.  It should make about 18 cake balls.

 

Coating:

Add about 5 candy melt morsels into a small jar and melt them in the microwave.  This will be used sort of as ‘glue’ to hold the cake onto the stick.  Dip your stick into the melted candy melt and quickly stick it into a cake ball at least half way down.  Repeat with remaining cake balls.  Set the balls onto a cookie sheet and freeze for about 10 minutes.

Put the rest of your candy melts into a microwavable jar and melt according to the package instructions.  If you are wanting to color your candy melt different colors, used several different jars and add desired color after the candy is melted.

Dip the cake pop into the jar, evenly coating it.  Let the coating drip off.  If using sprinkles, add immediately before coating sets. Place the cake pop right side up onto styrofoam.  Repeat for remaining pops.

 

Tips From Avery:

~using the candy melts as ‘glue’ is key.  Don’t skip this part!

~smaller balls are easier to work with…don’t make them too big!

~when dipping, just tip the stick in several directions instead of swirling.  This is a more gentle motion that will keep that cake ball on the stick.

~using candy melt coating is key! It easily covered dark chocolate and has the perfect consistency.

 

Avery 12th Bday

Her birthday morning came around and I woke up quite sick, still from side effects of medications.  I sent the family on to the early service at church, and knew I had a couple hours to get myself together as much as possible.  The kitchen was a mess from late night cake pop making, and I still needed to put together the sandwiches.  We had a 12:30 appointment at Defy Gravity and would spend about an hour and 1/2 there, so eating needed to take place between church and jumping.

I prayed the nausea would subside, and got to work.  I did fine until dealing with the slimy slices of ham.  Not the best texture or scent when one feels sick!   I just buckled down and did what I had to do. I took a bit of anti-nausea medication, had a few friends praying that I would feel well enough for the party, and prayers were answered.  I started to feel better just as everyone was eating their sandwiches, and I got to go watch my sweet girl jump and jump and jump! She even let her sisters bring a friend, so it was a lot of fun for everyone.  I am so thankful it all worked out, that I got to go, and that I am here to see my sweet girls grow up and celebrate these milestones with them.

……………

Avery Rose – I am so proud to be your Mom.  You make me smile every single day.  Keep being you and remember how very much you are loved!

Mexican Food Pile On

MEXICAN FOOD PILE ON

This recipe is the perfect recipe for when you are having guests over.  It can all be prepared ahead of time so you can enjoy your guests.  For a larger party, all of the ingredients can be doubled.

The recipe consists of all types of Mexican food toppings & a crockpot full of a meat & bean mixture.  There are 2 ingredients that make the recipe extra special, which I will share with you later in the post.  The foundation of the pile-on is a bed of frito’s, the meat mixture, rice & cheese; but really, your guest can choose to make their Mexican Food Pile On’s any way they would like!

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The first time I had this recipe was at a sweet friends house.  I was so intrigued by 2 of the topping ingredients that she set out among all the typical Mexican toppings.  Sweetened shredded coconut and chopped pecans! I piled the typical Mexican food toppings on, and was brave and added the coconut and pecans.  Boy am I glad I did.  Those two ingredients MADE the dish.  The coconut gives a nice sweetness that compliments the savory and spicy of the rest of the toppings.  The pecans add a nice nutty crunch.

The second time I had this recipe it was at a Christmas Party at my dear mentor’s house.  She had quite a group but was not stressed at all about feeding all of us.  She had it all prepared ahead and we just helped ourselves.  Everyone raved about the recipe and what great party food it was.

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I decided it was time to make it at my home.  We had some great friends over, I made the meat/bean mixture ahead of time, set out the toppings, and it was the easiest entertaining I had done in a long time.

I’ve made this recipe a couple of times just for our family, too.  The kids love it.

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Mexican Pile On

2 lbs ground beef

1 large onion

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 can tomato sauce

1 can tomato paste

1/2 tbsp garlic salt

2 tbsp chili powder

1 can chili beans

Cook ground beef and onions in a frying pan together until meat is no longer pink and onions are nice and soft.  Drain.

Put meat and onions into the crockpot.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir.  Cook 4 hours on low, or put into the refrigerator to cook on party day for 4 hours.

To Serve:

Time to pile it all on! In separate bowls, offer the add-ons of choice & let your guest make their own pile-on’s:

~frito’s (I like to use Trader Joes brand, as it uses organic corn and no high fructose corn syrup)

~rice

~onions

~shredded cheddar cheese

~tomatoes

~lettuce

~black olives

~picante sauce

~sour cream

~guacamole

~jalapenos

~pecans

~coconut (sweet & shredded)

Enjoy!

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