Horseback Riding in Montserrat, Spain

Trail ride at Three Rivers Ranch, Spain

On our excursion to Montserrat, my family hiked half a day and rode horses the other half. We descended the mountain and arrived at Three Rivers Ranch where we met Juan, a Spanish cowboy. His primary focus is his cattle which explains the variety of cows lazing in the sun adjacent to the stables. We learned that he leads trail rides as a way to exercise the horses. We enjoyed getting to know our horses’ personalities and learning best riding practices.

The beautiful countryside that is part of Montserrat National Park reminded me of Tuscany– rolling hills, vineyards, and gorgeous landscapes in every direction. Hon, I felt grateful that the day worked out so well, and that Hubby and I had an opportunity to share a full, active day with three of our four kids. We all love adventure, exploring, and being outdoors.

Writing this post reminds me of other trail rides, one of which was local and a great activity with tweens and teens. (info on that coming soon…)

Hon, do you like to horseback ride?

Calling Dibs, Jinx, Shotgun, and Other Things No One Knows the Rules To by Theresa Julian

Humor Expert At It Again!

Theresa Julian’s newest book, Calling Dibs, Jinx, Shotgun, and Other Things No One Knows the Rules to is a natural third book in her series with the The Joke Machine and 101 Hilarious Pranks and Practical Jokes. Like the Joke and Pranks books, illustrated by Pat Lewis, Calling Dibs, illustrated by Kim Griffin, is a funny, punny guide on “who gets dibs on the last slice of pizza” and “who’s ‘it’ when two people call ‘not it’ at the same time.” The book was written with 8-12 year-olds in mind, but anyone who wants to connect with kids and nostalgic adults will laugh-out-loud at Theresa’s rules and game challenges.

Theresa, critique-partner, writer-friend, and fellow triplets-mom, is getting good press! Time for Kids magazine featured her “How to Write Funny” advice and Highlights for Children Magazine asked her to share some “tips and tricks of the trade.” So cool!

Published June 29, 2020

Connect with Theresa on Twitter @Theresa_Julian, Instagram tm_julian, TikTok @thefunnyu

Cake-In-A-Cone

Cake Ice Cream Cone
Cake-In-A-Cone with Icing and Extras.  Yum!

Do you need a cool, kid-friendly dessert?

Cake-In-A-Cones were a hit with the middle schoolers at my daughter’s New Year’s Eve party. You know how much I love a theme, but this pre-decorated or decorate-your-own dessert would be fun at any party.

Happy Sweet Tooth, hon!

Combining ingredients of cake mix.
Combine ingredients to make cake batter.

Line muffin tin cups with foil so cones will stand.
Line muffin tin cups with foil so cones will stand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cake-In-a-Cones right out of the oven.
Cake-In-A-Cones right out of the oven.

Cake-In-a-Cone ready for icing and extras!
Ready for icing and extras!

Cake-In-A-Cone

Ingredients:

1 box of cake mix

eggs, however many the cake mix calls for

vegetable oil, same as the eggs, check the box

24 flat-bottomed ice cream cones

regular sized muffin tins

Icing and Extras, such as sprinkles, mini-marshmallows, M & M’s, cinnamon candies, etc.

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  Prepare muffin tins by lining each cup with aluminum foil.  This will help the cones to stand.

3.  Combine cake batter as directed on cake box.

4.  Stand cones in muffin tins.  Fill each cone about 3/4.

5.  Bake for about half the time noted on the box, then check to see if cake is done.  If not, keep in oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

6.  Cool before decorating.

Melted Snowman Cookies

Melted Snowman Cookies
“Oh nooo, I’m melting!”

Melted Snowman Cookies

My tween daughter came home from a holiday party with the cutest melted snowman cookie.  She and her sisters decided they HAD to bake their own!  Sugar cookies and Royal icing transformed into snowmen “bodies,” marshmallows stuck on cookies turned into heads, and decorative icing and food coloring, carefully applied, created faces and outfits.  These cookies were a lot of work…but the result?  A collection of cool cookies (and they tasted great)!

Happy baking, hon.

Make and bake sugar cookies.
1. Make sugar cookie dough.

Rolling out cookie dough.
2. Roll cookie dough to desired thickness.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Juice glass rims doubled as cookie cutters.
3. Cut cookie dough into circles.  Juice glass rims doubled as cookie cutters.

Bake sugar cookies at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.
4. Bake sugar cookies at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Cool cookies a few minutes,  prepare surface with parchment paper and ice cookies.
5. Cool cookies a few minutes, line counter or plate with parchment paper.  Ice cookies, dripping icing over sides.

Lightly grease a plate and your fingers and slightly melt marshmallows in the microwave.  Marshmallows on plate shouldn't touch.
6. Lightly grease a plate and your fingers and slightly melt marshmallows in the microwave. Marshmallows on plate shouldn’t touch.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Place one marshmallow on top of each "snowman body."  Lightly press on marshmallow so it sticks to cookie icing.
7. Place one marshmallow on top of each “snowman body.” Lightly press on marshmallow so it sticks to icing.

Decorate your snowmen with toothpicks dipped into decorative gel and food coloring.
8. Decorate your snowmen with toothpicks dipped into decorative gel and food coloring.

"Oh no, my nose fell out!"
“Oh no, my nose fell out!”

Typical teenager texting!
Typical teenager texting!

Bikini-clad snow-woman.
Bikini-clad snow-woman.

Harry Potter snowman.
Harry Potter snowman.

Directions:

Ingredients other than those needed for sugar cookies and Royal icing:

1 bag regular sized marshmallows

decorative icing, food coloring, toothpicks for decorating

1.  Make and bake sugar cookies.  (See recipe below or click on link above.)

2.  Mix Royal icing.  (See recipe below or click on link above.)  Prepare parchment paper, wax paper or tin foil on a large, flat surface or plate before icing cookies.  (Icing these cookies is messy.)

3.  Ice cookies after they’ve cooled a few minutes. Drip icing over edges of cookies to make icing look like its melting.

3.  Prepare marshmallows.  Test a marshmallow in your microwave to see how many seconds it takes to get slightly melty.  Then, lightly coat a plate with either cooking spray or vegetable oil.  Place marshmallows, not touching, on plate and microwave a few seconds. Lightly grease your fingers with cooking spray or vegetable oil so marshmallows won’t stick  to your hands when you place each on a cookie.

4.  Stick one marshmallow, slightly melted from microwaving, on top of each sugar cookie.

5.  Wait a few minutes for marshmallow heads to cool.

6.  Decorate cookies to look like snowmen. Decorative orange icing was formed into “carrot noses.”

Sugar Cookie Recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Ingredients:

6 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to butter/ sugar mixture in increments until the flour mixture is completely incorporated.

Chill in fridge for about one hour then let sit on counter while you prepare the surface you are using to roll out the dough.  Roll dough to desired thickness and cut into circles.  We used rims of juice glasses as cookie cutters.  I line my cookie sheets with parchment paper before baking.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges turn slightly brown.

Yield:  Whole recipe makes approximately 4 dozen cookies, depending on cookie cutter size.

Royal Icing Recipe

Ingredients:

3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar

3 Tablespoons of meringue or dried egg white powder (I used the brand Deb El and a product called Just Whites.)

6 Tablespoons warm water

Beat about 4 minutes by hand. Thin icing, if needed with extra Tablespoons of warm water.

 

Thankful on Thanksgiving

Third Grade Poems
Third Grade Poem

Third Grade Poem
Third Grade Poem

Hon, I came across these Thanksgiving poems written by my triplet son and daughter when they were in third grade.  Where’s my other triplet daughter’s poem?  I’m not sure, but hope its already tucked away in her Memory Bin.

I hope you had a lovely long weekend spent with family and friends.  If Thanksgiving isn’t your holiday, then Happy Holiday to whichever holiday you celebrate.

Triplets age , , Plus one age
Triplets age 10, Plus one age 3

Triplets age 18, Plus One age 11
Triplets age 18, Plus One age 11

I had to include a picture with Lucy!
I had to include a picture with Lucy!

DIY Fall Wreath

Inspiration Wreath
Inspiration Wreath at Michael’s.

A new session of After School Enrichment started and I’m so excited to be teaching two classes.  One is called Creative Minds for 3rd to 5th graders.  Last week, we made Fall wreaths inspired by one hanging at my local Michael’s.

Here’s what you need and how to make your own.

wreath supplies
wreath supplies

Supply list:

Foam wreath form, whatever size you want

Burlap, we measured 6 feet of burlap for each form

Coiled Wire, used to secure floral spray before gluing

Wire Cutters, we used two sizes, one to trim the floral sprays and one to trim the coiled wire

Hot Glue Gun

Floral Decorations, we used colored beads, leaves and floral sprays (leaves with fruit and berries)

Ribbon

Twine, knotted and looped for hanging

Steps:

1.  Unroll burlap and guesstimate how much you will need to cover your wreath form.

2.  Wrap burlap around wreath form, tucking ends in on what will be the back of your wreath, hot glue ends.

3.  The floral sprays had long stems so I cut the ends off with a large wire cutter.

4.  Use coiled wire to secure floral spray to burlap covered wreath form.  We used a fairly long piece of coiled wire, wrapping it around spray stem in a criss-cross fashion and twisting in back of wreath.

5.  Hot glue floral spray to wreath:  We glued the spot where the coiled wired secured the floral spray and also under the leaves so they would lay flat.

5.  Hot glue colored beads and individual leaves.

6.  Tie ribbon and glue if needed.

7.  Find the top of the wreath and create a hanging loop with twine.

Coiled wire wrapped around stem in a criss-cross fashion.
Coiled wire wrapped around stem in a criss-cross fashion.

Hot glueing, watch your fingers!
Hot glueing, watch your fingers!

Pretty!
Pretty!

Seasonal!
Seasonal!

Love it!
Creative!

Mother’s Day Moment

Hon, please indulge me. It doesn’t have to be Mother’s Day for me to say how grateful I am to be a mom, how proud I am of my kids or how much I love them.  But, what I want to do today is spend time with all of them so this post is the prologue to the story of the last 18 1/2 year of my life.

(I can’t take credit for all of the photos. Some are mine and some aren’t.)

Baby A's tiny hand in mine.
Baby A’s tiny hand in mine. This was the first day I was allowed to hold her. She was 10 days.

Baby A was only 2 pounds 9 ounces at birth and stayed in the NICU for 6 1/2 weeks. Despite being tiny, she could breath on her own (the tube in her nose above is a Gavage feeding tube). The nurses said she screamed loudly and a lot, which demonstrated how developed her lungs were. One nurse took to carrying her around on her shoulder to calm her down. As I scrubbed up before entering the NICU to take my smallest triplet home, one of the nurses, referring to my baby, said, “When is that mother going to get here already?” The mother bear in me came out when I answered, “I’m here!”

Baby A at 3 1/2.
At 3 1/2.

Baby A is the teenager with red hair.
As a counselor at a sleep-away camp.  Here she is with some of her campers.

Proud mama (and papa) moving our firstborn into her dorm room for freshman year.

Baby A starting freshman year of college.
Starting freshman year of college.

 

Baby B swaddled and sleepy.
Baby B swaddled and sleeping. He was small but healthy.

Baby B was the largest triplet at 4 pounds, 12 ounces. In the NICU he was considered a “feeder and grower” and was able to come home after 10 days.  His colic lasted until he was 6 months. In an effort to deal with the colic, we switched to a non-dairy formula causing him to smell like a potato! He was such an affectionate baby, he’s meld into my body when I rocked him. As a toddler, he was the ringleader of the games “Let’s Smear Our Room In Vaseline,” “Let’s Step In the Diaper Rash Ointment,” and “Let’s Shred All Of The Audio Tapes Our Parents Made Of Our First Words!”

"Growl, I'm a tiger!"
“Growl, I’m a tiger!”  At his 4th birthday party.

Baby B on move in day,
On move in day of freshman year at a university.

Proud mama (and papa) attending an ROTC Army event at our son’s university and seeing him in his dress blues.

Dress blues.
Dress blues.

 

Baby C in her isolette.
Baby C in her Isolette.  The nurses said her beauty “glowed” from the inside out.

Baby C, 4 pounds 4 ounces at birth, was allowed to come home after 12 days.  She had no problem sharing a bassinet with her brother and the two of them would contentedly stare at each other. But when Baby A came home from the hospital and I laid her down next to her sister, Baby C howled with displeasure as if to say, “Who is this baby and what is doing here?  I had to either lay them head to toe or put my son in the middle.  Hon, I am here to tell you that birth order dynamics are thrown to the wind when it comes to multiples. Baby C established herself as the “oldest” (that’s a euphemism for bossiest) even if she was born third.  She had the world’s best belly laugh and, if I could have bottled it, I’d be writing my books on an island in the Caribbean right now!

Pony ride at 3 3/4.
Pony ride at 3 3/4.

Bed's made up and saying goodbye start of freshman year of college.
Bed’s made up and saying goodbye start of freshman year of college.

Proud Mama (and Papa) have known our daughter was artistic since she was 3 years old.  Her self portrait is stunning!

Self portrait, oil paints.
Self portrait our daughter painted of herself with with acrylic paints.

 

Our Plus One the day after she was born.
Our Plus One the day after she was born. She was happy and calm right from the start.

Hon, do you know what was strange about holding an 8 pounds 6 ounce newborn? She was the same size as our triplets were when they were able to sit up! Our Plus One was an easy, go-with-the-flow child who was happiest when she was surrounded by her family. Many people have asked if she was accident, to which I replied, “No, she was very planned!” More people have said, “Wow, that’s a lot of kids” to which I replied, “Four was always my lucky number.”  And countless people have said, “You had triplets and then another one?!” to which I replied, “She’s G-d’s gift to me!”

Our fourth as a toddler.
Our fourth as a toddler.

No fear on the trapeze.
No fear on the trapeze.

Leaping at ballet class.
Leaping at ballet class.

Proud Mama (and Papa) shed tears at our youngest’s “Moving Up” ceremony, but still celebrated the start of a new chapter in her life.

"Moving Up" from elementary to middle school.
“Moving Up” from elementary to middle school.