Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake

When your a mom birthdays take on a completely different meaning. For one I just don’t care about getting older and I’m not really in the mood to celebrate me. It all sounds like an awful lot of work. I already throw parties for everyone else all year long, but the truth is kids love a party (and cake). It’s also good for kids to learn to give back to you the person who cares for them. So this year I took my 3 year old shopping with me on my birthday for cake ingredients and when my oldest got home from school we all baked a cake and they frosted and decorated it themselves. So it may not be the prettiest cake but it was special because we made it together.

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This cake is so easy and so delicious. I used one box of Betty Crocker gluten free cake mix and followed the directions on the box. I then added 1 can of pumpkin pie filling and one bag of chocolate chips. In the spirit of moms birthday I baked my cake in the mixing bowl (less dishes) for double the time called for on the box because the pumpkin adds a lot of volume and extra moisture to the batter. You just want to cook it until it’s firm.

When the cake was cool I flipped it onto a tray opened a can of frosting and set the kids loose.

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Tis the Season for Mulled Wine

I love the fall and one of the things I love best about fall is a warm glass of mulled wine. Mulling wine is easy and a fun treat for any fall festivities. We usually make mulled wine on Thanksgiving or for Fall parties. This year we mulled some wine for the wet rainy walk on Halloween night trick or treating with our boys. I think we may have started a new tradition.

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Making mulled wine is easy. For each bottle of wine you mull you will need
1 large cinnamon stick
6-8 whole cloves
4-5 whole peppercorns
1 orange peel
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of vodka

The measurements can be adjusted to suit your taste. This is just a guideline that I go by. You start mulling by pouring your wine in a pot adding the spices and turning the burner on high. When your wine starts to simmer turn it down to a medium heat add your sugar. Let the wine simmer in the pot for 5-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and then add the vodka. Alcohol evaporates when it’s heated which is why we add the vodka at the end the vodka adds back in some of the alcohol that has evaporated from the wine. The more of a kick you want your mulled wine to have the more vodka you should add. If you want it a little sweeter or less sweet you can adjust the sugar to suit your taste.

I would recommend choosing a less expensive bottle of wine since mulling it changes it’s flavor anyway. I find the best mulling wines are ones that are a little on the sweet side already and that you already enjoy the flavor of. Traditionally mulled wines are usually red though I find a nice Catawba wine is really delicious mulled as well. This Halloween we used Bully Hills Banty Red to mull. So delicious and helped us keep warm on our wet walk through the neighborhood.

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Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Party

For my sons 5th birthday party he wanted a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse party. This year he was finally old enough to really help get ready and plan. He had the most fun picking out silly Mickey Mouse names for all the food. He laughed and laughed about “Donald’s Cheese and Quackers” and “Goofy’s Goof Juice”. He had fun painting styrofoam balls to make the Mickey Mouse head topiary centerpieces. He jumped for joy when we finally figured out how to make the basket for the glove balloon out of poster board and hot glue. It really was a joy to help him celebrate his big day.

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Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Cake

For my sons 5th birthday party he wanted a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse birthday party. He insisted on having a Clubhouse cake something I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull off but I was willing to give it a try. I learned a few lessons like a head made out of cake is heavier than you would think and it needs a lot of support. You can actually see from the pictures how the head began to sink. If I ever made another one I would build in a platform for the head to sit on. To make the cake I used a ball cake set made by Wilton for the head and I used a metal bowl for the body. The ears and the foot wrote made from fruity pebbles rice crispy treats that were molded by hand and covered in fondant. Even with my mistakes the cake was great. Everyone was impressed with the effort and my son LOVED it! It looked enough like Mickeys Clubhouse to impress him and that’s all that matters.

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Peanut Party for Our Little Peanut

For my babies first birthday we thought what better way to celebrate our little peanut than with a Circus Peanut Party?! We had so much fun!

The menu was circus of course. We had popcorn and peanuts for snacks as guests arrived along with apples (I like to throw in a little healthy fruit or veggie option). The main meal was hot dogs, nachos and chili which was great because everything overlapped and went really well together. The adults and the kids were all happy with the meal choices. Dessert was cupcakes topped with circus peanuts and brownies dressed up with frosting and rainbow sprinkles. Circus peanuts were also set out with dessert along with little favor bags that said “Happiness is a Peanut” filled with circus peanuts.

For every party I like to add at least one hand made project. This time it was a circus tent made from hula hoops and almost 20 yards of fabric. It turned out so cute. We had a costume area with wigs and ties and clown noses and face paint.

Despite some gloomy morning weather the clouds cleared and the sun came out just in time. We all had a ball clowning around on Drew’s first birthday!

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Heirloom Christmas Cookie Platter

This weekend I took my boys to a ceramics studio and we made this adorable cookie platter using the two older boys hands as reindeer and the babies foot as a Christmas tree. I can’t wait to see it after its been fired. If its even half as cute as it is now it will be a family heirloom for years to come. To manage my brood I had some help from my husband who rushed the two little ones in and out. My oldest stayed with me while I put the details on and made a few Christmas gifts he can give to his grandparents and other friends and family members.

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Santa and Elves handprint ornament

These turned out so cute. To make these I painted my sons palm white for snow. I painted four of his fingers green for elves and one finger red for Santa. To make the Santa finger just a little bit taller than the elves I started painting the face above the finger tip while the elves faces I painted on the fingers. I used a soy based acrylic paint. I just love these and I can’t wait to share them as Christmas gifts for friends and family.

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Penguin handprint ornaments

I made these adorable penguin ornaments with my two year old last night. They turned out great. I used black acrylic paint which I poured about a teaspoon of onto a styrofoam plate. I stuck his hand in the paint and then hold out his hand. I placed the Christmas ball in his palm and told him to hold it and then let go quickly. I painted in the white and the little faces. I also put little feet on them and painted a little snow under their feet. These are so cute I can’t wait to share them.

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The return of Santa pancakes

This year we have officially made a tradition by bringing back Santa pancakes. The weekend after Thanksgiving we decorate our tree and that Sunday we kick off our Christmas holiday season with Santa pancakes. We use pie filling (cherry or strawberry) for the red on his hat. Chocolate chips for eyes and whipped cream for his beard and the trim on his hat. The kids love it. It’s a great way to start the holidays!

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Blues Clues Birthday Party

My kids are huge Blues Clues fans. This year for my son Gabriel’s second birthday we decided to make his dreams come true and have a Blues Clues themed birthday. The kids had a blast and the grown ups are still talking about it. I made a Blues Clues cake, a card table Blues Clues house and dressed my kids up as Joe, Blue and Steve.

For the main activity for the birthday party I set up a real live Blues Clues game. Each kid got a notebook and a crayon when they arrived. I placed the clues and timed them strategically so that the last clue would come just before cake time. The first clue was a clock, the second was a candle, and the third one was a picture of the birthday boy. The kids loved it. It kept them busy all afternoon. They couldn’t wait to set up their own game when the game was finally done which led to even more fun.

I kept the menu kid friendly and easy. Home made Mac and cheese with stir ins broccoli, peas, tiny hot dogs, and corn was the main meal. To keep the grown ups happy I served vanilla pear cocktails. Fun was had by all.

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Blues clues notebooks come in party packs. People make them at home on their printers and sell them on eBay and Etsy. I paid $20 for a dozen notebooks and crayons.

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I made the blues clues house out of felt and used a hot glue gun to put it together. I used the measurements of my table to determine the measurements of the tops and sides. Excluding the table the materials for this project were less than $15.

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This was my first attempt at using fondant. I learned some lessons for next time like using powdered sugar to help it from sticking to the rolling pin. All in all I was happy with the results a little more time and a little more practice and I might have been ready to tackle making Blue herself.

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I bought the birthday balloons on Amazon. They cost less than $20 and they looked great. My favorite was the giant number 2.

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Me and the birthday boy! He loved his Joe shirt. I made it by taking a turtleneck using fabric glue I glued a stripe and the squares onto the shirt. Easy and cheaper than trying to buy one on eBay though if you’re not feeling too crafty you can usually find Joe and Steve shirts on eBay.

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I found these napkins in the party store. They were with a collection of dog themed party supplies and were the perfect touch. For plates I just used blue paper plates.

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At Buy Buy baby I found birthday candles that spelled out his name. They were the perfect touch on the Blues Clues cake.

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