Our dear family friends host this awesome “Christmas in July” event every summer. They rent out the whole rink, play Christmas tunes, and make tons of Christmas cookies. It’s a great time to see everyone, and see all these kids on the ice not to mention a cool break from the summer heat. This was the perfect opportunity to get Lilly on skates.
Since the moment we were made aware of Lilly’s minuscule existence in my belly, we all knew she was destined for the ice.
I spent the better half of the time I was dating Brandon settled into various bleacher seats, wrapped in blankets or sweatshirts, working on college homework, watching him skate. Games that went until 1 in the morning, practices that were late on Sunday nights, tournaments in Ohio and central PA. He was coaching kids at practice, coaching games, or skating in his own games. I knew all his kids by name just from watching them all skate. I knew which rinks I liked, and which ones I hated. Which ones were freezing cold, and which ones weren’t so bad. And I knew that our kids were destined for the ice.
An old high school counselor (you know, one of those “cool” ones that you could actually talk to?) once told me that nothing is more attractive than seeing someone do what they are passionate about, what they love. And I’m pretty sure my friends and I probably rolled our eyes at lunch that day and glanced at each other with a puh-lease kind of look. She was trying to get us to give up on loser nobodies that weren’t interested in anything other than being high school jerks and start evaluating potential boyfriends based on accomplishments, passions, and interests. I may not have understood her then, but boy do I understand her now.
Seeing Brandon skate with Lilly was one of the most this-is-why-I-love-being-a-mommy moments I’ve ever had. This is why I married this man (among all those others reasons of course!). You can see how much Brandon loves to skate (not even hockey itself which is a separate obsession), just the skating itself. And strapping Lilly’s skates on for the very first time was exciting. He was so excited. To be able to share this with her, to do this together, was a great moment for him. Something I know he’s been waiting to do since she was born.
The pink skates came into existence as a 1st Christmas present from my parents. The pink skates only went down to a size 8 so that would have to do. I mean, she couldn’t even walk yet, who knew how big her foot would be come time for the ice?
I love these girls!
Well they seemed to fit all right! Like a glove. In the interest of full disclosure I should state for the record that my little chica’s calf could barely squeeze into them (we have a boot problem) but we made it work.
We were all kind of holding our breath, waiting to see what would happen. Would she scream? Cry? Fall down and get wet then have a fit about wet clothes? Love it? Be so happy? I think the pictures speak for themselves.
Merry Christmas! (in July wink wink)
And don’t worry…
…Daddy got Gracie out there too!
Yes, I realize some of these photos are not in the sharpest of focus, but they were too cute not to post.
And now for the cupcakes.
It’s no secret that we love cake. We go through many a carton of eggs in our house and seem always out of butter and milk. And I have an arsenal full of great cake recipes and cake cookbooks that are fabulous.
But sometimes, people? You just gotta use the box. Seriously. More often than not (when baking for my family) I go the boxed mix route and just add little hints of this and that. Especially when I’m baking with Lilly and the only people judging our little gems is us. With doctors appointments and toddlers, babies, dogs, and errands illing up our schedule, I love having cake mixes on hand.
I’ll let you in on a few of my secrets. But shhh, don’t tell!
My favorite add ins for chocolate cake:
- Espresso powder
- Chocolate chips or chunks
- Extra cocoa powder
- A dollop of sour cream
- Strong coffee or brewed espresso in place of the water
- Chopped up andes mints (mint chocolate anyone?)
My favorite add ins for white cake (and I always use white- not yellow):
- Extracts- vanilla, coconut, almond
- White chocolate or regular chocolate chips
- Fruit- chopped up strawberries, blueberries or raspberries
- A touch of cocoa, bottle of red food coloring and dash of vinegar (this will give you a cheater red velvet that is so much better than boxed red velvet which is really blah and while it is delicious and different- be warned as it does not hold a candle to real red velvet)
- Sprinkles. Instant funfetti.
- Lime juice
- Coconut Flakes
- If you are adding something liquid (juice, extracts, mushy fruit, liquor) add a touch more flour
- If you are adding something dry (cocoa) add a tiny bit more oil
The great thing about this is that cake mixes are pretty stable. They are meant to be fool proof and hard to mess up. So you have a little leeway to get creative or let your kids jump in and add this and that to their hearts content. Plus they are super cheap and always on sale- win!
And now for the frosting. This is my favorite butter cream- by far. It’s my base for most of the other frosting I make.
- 2 Sticks butter
- 1 Stick crisco
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2lbs. powder sugar
- a little bit of water
Cream together the butter, crisco, salt and vanilla. Add the sugar a little bit at a time adding water when the consistency becomes too stiff.
Same rules apply. Here’s some ideas to jazz this up:
- Add extracts, liquors, lemon or lime juice
- Add crushed cookies, chocolate chips or fruit
- Add in melted, cooled chocolate of any kind
- Add in cocoa powder
- Add in peanut butter melted with a bit of butter and cooled.
While baking is a science- faking doesn’t have to be!
These little cupcakes started out as plain ol’ vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream.
To the cake I added coconut flakes, coconut extract, and lime zest. To the butter cream I added the juice of one lime and lime zest. So delicious!