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The girls and I had the baking bug today but it was just too hot to fire up the ol oven.  So we decided to decorate marshmallows instead.  All you need are some melting wafers (party or craft stores, about $2.50 for 1 lb bag), lollipop sticks, sprinkles and of course, marshmallows. 

It was the perfect fix.  No oven heat and the girls still got to dip, taste, dab, taste, spread, taste, sprinkle and taste to their little hearts’ delight.

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed from your recent trips to Target, Walmart, Kmart… who am I kidding?! If you’ve been in ANY kind of store recently, you’ll have noticed that Spring, and therefore PEEPS are in the air. 

An Army of Peeps by psilver.

Peeps are cute, colorful, and cheap.  However, and I realize I may offend some of you with this opinion but, well, they are a little lacking in tasty-goodness.  I’m sorry!  I’m just stating the facts, folks.  With just a dash of opinion thrown in. 

But I have a solution to your Peep woes.  It’s become a family favorite and this year, I’m even planning on stocking up on Peeps during the post-Peeps Spring/Easter sales.  One word:

S’meeps.

That’s what our family lovingly calls those cute little Peeps, whether they are chicks or bunnies or any other kind of brightly colored marshmallow critter you happen to find in the Peep family, after they have been brutally stabbed, roasted over a roaring fire and then cruelly smashed between two pieces of graham crackers and a chunk of chocolate.  (Get it?  S’meeps instead of S’mores?!)  The result?

A glorious conglomerate of crystallized sugar, gooey melted marshmallow, warm chocolate and crunchy graham crackers.  Sad for the Peep… delightful for my taste buds. 

So next time you find yourself staring at the pile of Peeps left all alone in the Spring Baskets of your home, all the other popular and actually tasty candy loonnngggg gone and already forming cavities in your children’s teeth…  Get a campfire roaring, sharpen those roasting tongs and get to work putting those Peeps out of their misery.

It’s what works for me.

For more tips and advice, go visit We Are THAT Family.

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Four munchkins birthdays + budget = homemade cakes 

 It’s an equation that is a fact of life here in the Runningamuck household.  Every birthday I’d slave over the cake, staying up all hours the night before the big event, cramming to get it all done.  I wanted that cake to knock the socks off that birthday child.  Socks are flying off feet all the time in my house, so the least they could do is fly off in awe and wonder at my labor of love. 

Well, I’m here to tell you that my cake decorating days are over – in a good way.   Because this year I discovered Hello Cupcake:

Hello, Cupcake!

It is seriously the best cupcake book EVER!  Just don’t ask how many I’ve actually read because then I’d have to confess it’s the only one. 

But that’s neither here nor there…

I made the pup-cakes that are on the cover for my 2 year old’s birthday and he LOVED them.  The amazing part is they actually looked just like the picture!  There are cupcakes for all themes and holidays and they will seriously blow you away.  

The best part for me is that all the “recipes” call for pre-made items.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m a firm believer in making things from scratch to drop unnecessary preservatives and chemicals and also the price!  Scratch is almost always cheaper.  That being said, birthday parties are a whole other ballgame.  There is so much to plan, bake, prepare, clean, create (almost everything is homemade at our parties to save moolah) that when it comes to the cake/cupcakes, if it saves me time, I’m willing to fork over a few more dimes.  It means I actually get a whole night of sleep the night before the billions of  10  2 year olds invade my house.  That’s the difference between sanity and a padded cell in my world.   “Hello Cupcake” calls for store-bought icing (regular ol Betty Crocker or Pillsbury or The-Cheapest-Icing-On-The-Shelf) and candy.  Yep. Candy.  You seriously have to check out the book just to see the amazing things you can do with candy. 

And something I just discovered?  They have a blog.  A BLOG everybody.  That means even more ideas, creations and help just a mouse click away!  And you can submit your own photos and ideas too.  Check out cupcake blog in all it’s glory here.

Cupcakes vs. cake?  Well, when you have younger munchkins, the whole idea of having a slobbery, germ-filled, possible snot-flaked candle blower is enough to turn even the strongest sweet tooth from the dessert table.   To be able to restrict the candle blowing to his/her own cupcake means I get to eat a cupcake, without having to worry about what nastiness is crawling around in my icing.  AND it means I can send the extra cupcakes home with the guests and not have a fridge full of cake for the next week that I whittle away at it in the evenings… gaining 10 lbs in the process. 

Cupcakes are a win-win. 

For more great tips and advice, check out Rocks In My Dryer.

It’s gonna be MINE!  I’m a little late in joining in on the torture fun.  But better late than never, right?  Anyway, Jen, over at Daily Mish Mash decided that she needed some company as she whips her bod back into shape.  And I’m a sucker for company.  Especially adult company.  And goodness knows, I could do with a little less jiggling in my thighs, a higher fanny (is it just that my waist has crept up over the last few years leaving my fanny further below?!), and arms that don’t demand attention with their incessant waving. 

You know what I’m talking about! Don’t pretend you don’t.  You can’t live in the good ol’ how-overweight-r-U-SA and not know. 

But I’m changing.  And like Jen says, why wait until the New Year?  I’m ready to start now, get in shape (yes, that means exercise **groan** ), look fabulous for the Holidays and our annual family picture (that this will be first one we actually get done.  I MEAN it this year!)

I don’t know if I’m going to share photos yet… I’m a little to chicken I think.  But I will take them and my current measurements.  But you might not get ’em until the end. 

So I can distract you with the better photos and measurements of the new and improved me.

I’m not too chicken for that.

Jen asked:

What is your favorite type of exercise? bench pressing ding-dongs, triathalons (eating sweets, eating salty, eating whatever strikes my fancy)… JUST KIDDING!  I actually really like to walk. Especially as the weather cools and the evenings begin to be calm and breezy.  Except that doesn’t usually work with my schedule of feeding, bathing and putting four kids to bed.  SOOO, my darling sweet Hubby bought me an Eliptical exercies machine and it’s not bad.  Not the fresh air I crave but it’s better than sitting on the couch eating bon-bons. (I miss them already! sniff, sniff)

How often do you work out? Since I’ve only just begun (instead of starting a week ago), I haven’t.  But I’m starting out at 20 minutes a day, every day.  Then I’ll go to 30.  I have to do it daily because otherwise the habit doesn’t develop and I just end up forgetting more than doing.

How do you find the time and motivation to keep up with it? Having the Eliptical in the familyroom, staring at me, sending me guilty vibes when I’m thinking of eating something sweet or past 7pm helps a lot.  Evening time is “my” time.  After the kids are in bed and all is quiet.  I try to get on right at 8pm, as soon as the last kiddo is tucked in and I can turn on the tv to distract me.  Course, I have to turn it up loud in order to hear it above my wheezing and groaning.  If I wait until later I usually lose my momentum and can’t pull myself off the couch.  And like I said in my previous answer, doing it daily keeps it in my brain enough that I usually won’t forget.   One of my favorite shows is Biggest Loser.  And I’ve found I enjoy doing sit-ups, push ups, etc. during the commercials. ‘Cuz if those folks can do it for HOURS every day then I can spare 20 minutes.

Now you’ll have to excuse me.  Tonight is trash night and I have a kitchen of sweets to toss.  Have to do it tonight so that I don’t have time to change my mind, go back and dig out anything.

So, here in the Runningamuck Household, we celebrate Easter, the day our Savior rose from the grave and forever changed the way we sinful, ugly humans can experience the Forgiveness and unconditional Love of our Creator.

And then we celebrate Spring, with all the candy hububabaloo the weekend after Easter.  That’s how my parents did it when I was growing up and it was a natural progression of things for Hubby and I to do with our kids (since Hubby thought it was a great way to separate the two holidays). 

From a purely financial standpoint, let me just tell you, there is nothing like shopping for Spring Fling candy when all the “Easter” candy is 50-75% off!  That’s cause for a celebration in and of itself.  My veins start to shake in anticipation of the sugar rush as soon as my feet hit the floor of the candy aisle.  The downside?  Well, I tend to go a little overboard since it’s all so cheap.  Now, before you start calling Child Protective Services to take my children and do an emergency sugar-detox on them, most of it doesn’t go to them.  I work really hard at making sure their Spring Fling baskets are a good balance of sugar AND toys.   See, I think there’s no better combo than sale candy and cheap annoying little toys that break after a few days and/or leave tiny bits of themselves all over the house for me step on and get lodged in my foot.   Great huh?!  Hubby REALLY loves it when they end up in his feet!  

But here my problem.  I have a lot of “leftover” candy.  The bags of my favorites that I just couldn’t pass up because they are less than a $1 each.  NOW what do I do with it all?  I can’t just leave them in the cupboard and reward myself with one little tiny piece every now and then.  Because you know what ends up happening?  It starts at 6am when I manage to drag myself out of bed for my quiet time and coffee.  Hey! I was a good girl!  That deserves a mini Milky Way.  7am: Make a nice healthy breakfast for the kids, Mummie Points for me (did I ever mention I grew up in England?  Story for another post) and I’ll reward myself with a Peppermint Patty (on really hectic mornings, this doubles as teeth brushing since it leaves my breath minty-fresh.  Never you mind those chunks of chocolate left to rot out the crevices of my molars).  Fast-forward through both kid and mummie (I think I’m going to keep using this, makes me have a flash back to the 80’s every time I type it, and who doesn’t like a little 80’s flashback?!)  morning chores and BAM! it’s 9am and time for school.  Sneak in another little reward called a Cadbury Mini Egg from the freezer (my most favorite at the moment) for staying on schedule and getting the house cleaned up properly before the rest of the day destroys it (note to self: must take picture daily to prove to Hubby that it actually was clean for a brief moment in time that day).  Struggle through balancing three different grade levels (1st, Kinder, and Preschool/Distract-Everyone else) simultaneously.  All lessons completed?  Yippee! Reward time = a handful of pastel-colored peanut M&M’s snuck into the bathroom while I take my luxurious 2.5 minute shower.  This goes on all day long.  Ya know, I never realized how much I have to reward myself for!  Not that I really deserve any of it…  But you get my point.  I have no self-control.  But I can’t leave them be.  So I see only way to resolve this problem.

Eat my way through them.  ALL of them.  As fast as I can.  So I can get to working it all off as soon as possible. 

p.s. Hubby is no help because he just started a “Biggest Loser” contest with a bunch of people from work.  And let me tell you, there is no way I’m letting him anywhere near my stash (or is it stashes if I have them hidden all over the house for “safety” reasons?) when the prize money is up to $1,200?!! Hellooo?  That spells a great vacation with my hunky husband if you ask me.  No way I’m letting that one get away!

So here’s to eating my way through this big ol’ Candy Mountain that was once my home.  Stop by anytime to help me out… but avert your eyes while I access a stash.  That’s top secret information my friend.

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