Monday, October 8, 2012

Autumn Apple Ring Pancakes & Maple Syrup

These pancakes are just bursting with Fall goodness so I figured they were a good place to end my extended Summer hiatus and kick off some post for my favorite season and a quick and absolutely delicious place to start this is! This recipe makes enough for a crowd, but can easily be halved for a small family breakfast.

Autumn Apple Ring Pancakes

2 cups pancake mix (Bisquick)
2 eggs
1 cup milk (I use ff half & half)
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Sprinkle of cinnamon sugar
3-4 medium apples, peeled & cored
Good quality Maple Syrup


Peel, Core and Cut apples into 1/8″ slices (an apple peeler, corer, slicer is perfect for this!)

In a medium bowl, whisk baking mix, eggs, and milk until smooth. Mix in pumpkin pie spice, sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and lemon until incorporated

Dip individual apple slices into the batter and place on a medium-hot (325) greased griddle. Cook until golden brown (about 2 minutes per side)

Serve hot with maple syrup or butter and another sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar 

So full of Fall deliciousness, try these, you'll be a kitchen hero!

TTFN, Andrea

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Healing Mail!

Our friends (Laurie & Mike) are on what has to be one of the hardest journeys I can imagine as a parent. Their super awesome 4-year-old son Connor is fighting cancer at St. Jude's and just starting his fourth round of chemo. This kid rocks and he ♥ loves getting mail; really makes his day. So if you'd like to send a card or postcard or some stickers or just a post it with some get well wishes, it'll only cost you a few minutes and a stamp, but could go a long way in turning a yucky day right side up, and he deserves every non yucky day he can get! :) You can find out more about this incredibly awesome family at or follow their story at 

Please send cards to:

Connor Johnson

Target House II
1811 Poplar Ave Apt 414
Memphis, TN 38104

Fight Connor, muster up all the super power you have in you and Fight on kid, there's not a day that goes by that you're not in our thought and prayers!!! ((((HUGS))))

Thanks guys! TTFN, Andrea

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Splash! Sponge Bombs Away...

I love seeing the kids outside in the Summer romping around a classic Slip n' Slide, shooting water guns, playing in the sprinklers, it's all good, wet, Summer fun! Alas it is inevitable, at some point they bust out the water balloons and they can never ever do more than a handful before they run inside asking for help. But let me tell ya, I despise the tedious chore of filling and tying ridiculously little water balloons, like I'd rather distract them with Popsicles, a UFO sighting, anything to get me out of doing water balloons, ack!  That is where the Sponge bombs come into play! I first saw these in Family Fun, but a version on Pinterest reminded me and  I knew I had to make some for one of our Survivor Party challenges. They are so easy to make and irresistibly fun for everyone. Even better you just fill a bucket with sponge bombs and water (the kids can even do it themselves, score!) and you're in business :) 

For Each Sponge Ball You Need:
  • 2 Plain Sponges (Multi-Colors)
  • Scissors
  • Zip Ties (look in the auto supply area)
  • Pliers
  • Small Nail Clippers
  • Bucket & Water

For each ball, take 2 plain (no scrubby side) kitchen sponges from the package Use scissors to cut each sponge lengthwise into 4 strips about a half-inch wide (cut in half long ways and then those pieces in half as well) Stack the strips as shown

Hold all eight strips in a bundle, place zip tie around the center of the stack, using the pliers for grip pull until engaged and locked in place. The tighter you tie them together, the better the strips fan out to create a ball shape. Now just bend the tail of the zip tie back and forth until it breaks off. If there is any remaining sharp or snaggy edge a quick snip with the clippers will do the trick. just make sure to watch out for flying tid-bits of plastic, you don't wanna shoot your eye out! ;) (Now you could tie them with strong string & double knot if you don't have zip ties.)
It did take some time for me to make this many for our Sponge Bomb Lacrosse Challenge, but for a normal quantity they are easy-peasy to make and reusable all season long!

Love this shot from Martha Stewart
from Martha Stewart

Now say it with me "No More Water Balloons!" Run, don't walk, gather your supplies and make some of your own;  I promise you will thank me :) 

TTFN, Andrea

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Message in a Bottle Invitations: Survivor Style

If you've followed my blog you know how I feel about party invitations. I love them,  I think they set the tone, build excitement and give a little peek into the party to come. This year for our Survivor Birthday Island I was thinking of attaching name tags to tiki torches with all of the party info, but I was so far behind the power curve due to crazy work schedules and quickly running out of time. I wasn't sure about the logistics of the tiki torches, they are kind of big and I wanted them at the party, but didn't want to tell people they had to bring them back with them, so since I couldn't work it out in my head I moved on to plan B, Message in a Bottle invites!
But since I had waited so long to come to that conclusion I had to scramble to find good bottles as there was no time to order. They had some bottles at Michales, but they were expensive and not really what I wanted. Luckily in a stroke of divine party intervention I was sitting in the parking lot of a party store lamenting my dilemma, since they had nothing I could use either. When I looked in my rearview mirror and saw our local Home Brew supply store right behind me! And guess what, they had perfect little bottles with lids, and they were cheap! I was so happy :)

Next was the message scroll. On tan parchment paper I used this cool survivor party logo on the top with the party info written below 

You’ve been chosen to join our Tribe…
Now will you survive celebrating XXXX's XXth Birthday?!

It will be the ultimate challenge, tribes forced to work together while battling the elements and each other. You must adapt to remain ahead of the game, in the end only 1 team will remain…


Saturday, May XXth
5:00-8 :00 PM

Make your way to Last Name Survivor Island;
XXXX Island Drive

Dress to survive! Wear comfy clothes you don’t mind getting dirty/wet and please bring something to change into once all of the challenges are done!

RSVP: xxxx

I printed them 2 per sheet and when cut in half each measured 8.5"x 5.5" and just the right size for rolling and bottle stuffing. I used a chopstick to roll them up, tied them with jute string/twine and slipped them into the bottles with some hanging out for easy extraction. There was also a drink umbrella and supposed to be a layer of coconut M&M's, alas the candy was like 1/2 a centimeter too big to fit in the bottle opening and I had to resort to cutting (yes cutting!) dang M&M's in half so there could at least be a few shards in every bottle, oy! (P.S. I hate coconut anything, so I didn't enjoy this in the least!)

I finished them off with their caps and name labels and called them good

Can you believe that on the way out to deliver these with my son, Mr. Details actually asked if I could maybe just do invitations we could mail ever?! Short answer...No! lol, good thing I didn't go with the tiki torches, he would have had a fit ;) 
TTFN, Andrea

Survivor: Birthday Island!

This past weekend marked my baby boy hitting his first decade. Still trying to process the fact that I'm the mom of a child in the double digits, but we threw one heck of a party to celebrate this milestone :) Welcome to our version of Survivor Birthday Island!

There were so many moving parts and pieces to this party I've decided that the best way to share it with you all is to do a quick overview and then add more detailed follow up post about specifics later, like the invitations...I decided to go with messages in a bottle. They didn't turn out exactly like I wanted, but definitely cute and totally fit the theme and feel we were going for. We hosted this party in the early evening so we could have a feast and get to light the torches and fire pit after dark.

Message in a Bottle Invitations

This year the boys outnumbered the girls by a large margin and there were some Jr. Survivors in attendance so we had all of the big kids pull buffs out of a sack which determined if they were on the Red or Blue Tribe, then the smaller kids were just directed to go with one or the other to make it fair. This seemed to work well and our tribes were pretty evenly split with about 14 kids each.

We had two camp sites set up, and the tribe that won the reward challenge got first pick.

They were given buckets of supplies, including shelter building materials with laminated instructions, fish nets, Dixie cups, wet wipes, flag making materials, a tribe mascot and directions to tree mail and the clean water well :)

With the camps and ground rules set up, it was time to really get the challenges going...

This consisted of the teams in 4-man heats, given 45 seconds to fish as many gummy worms they could out of a pile of chocolate pudding and deposit in a jar using only their faces, after the final heat, the team with the most worms won!

Lacrosse sticks, big containers of water and these awesome sponge bombs. Teams picked two people to be the thrower and loader on one side of the yard  while all remaining team members went to the other end of the yard to be receivers. We did 3 1 minute heats, teams had to catch as many soaking wet sponge bombs they could and deposit in their tams basket before time was up, dropped sponges were out. between heats teams were allowed to strategize and switch out their thrower/loader, really fun.

Jumbo marshmallows and oversized straws! Each team member got a straw, the yard was marked off in 4 sections (2 per side) with each team having a home base on their respective end. Teams had to split into their sections, giant pile of marshmallows dropped in the center and you had to suck a marshmallow up with your straw and carry it to the end of your section for another teammate to then suck it u and get it to your home base. This challenge was well underway when I ran in to check on or feast; when I came back out it was over and those crazy children were going wild eating all of the marshmallows, gag :)

For the Water Brigade, teams stood in line with a bucket full of water at one end and a tube with a ping pong ball at the other. First perdon in line had to scoop up a cup of water and then pour it into their neighbors cup and so on down the line until the last person poured the water into the tube trying to get their ball to float over the line marked on the tube first. Problem was, there were several holes in random places in all of the cups, really fun to watch them come up with ways to adapt :)

At this point everyone was starving like real Survivors, so we had an all tribe reward feast!

We had island delights like BBQ Pulled Pork, Crisp Slaw, Hawaiian Chicken, Jasmine Rice, Hot Dogs, Tons of Fruits & Veggies, Chips and an array of different Salsas, Smores on a Stick,  Lemonade & Punch (this was the only time they were allowed anything except water)

We were running behind schedule but we got in another challenge that they loved! :)

The Tribal Counsel Score Board kept a running tally

And the final piece, a Survivor Style roasted pig cake to finish it all off.

That pig didn't stand a chance against the ravenous hoards. After cake service most of the adults/helpers headed for the hills (aka the Margaritaville drink blender, lol) and set them free...wild, sugar-rushing children with torches and nets and the sun going down made our backyard look more like an outtake from Lord of the Flies vs. Survivor ;)

Everyone went home with a torch, tiki cup and these authentic Survivor style eating scoops that I picked up here. I'm bummed we ran out of time and didn't get to do our puzzle/food challenges and like always there were other things (like hidden idols, more tree mail & names on parchment attached to the torches)  I planned to do, but just ran short of time/hands, oh well. Overall this party was a huge success and a real blast for us to plan and host since my son and I are huge Survivor fans! Hope you enjoy this peak at our party.

TTFN, Andrea


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