09 10

30 January 2008

Cute Kids for Ron Paul

OK, this one's not kids, but it's funny.

Weight Loss Progress

I'm down one pound since last week's weigh-in: 190. I did very well with my exercise this week, and did yoga 4 or 5 times (I'd have to look on my chart to see exactly how many). While I was mindful of my food, I didn't count calories this week much at all, which is perhaps why it's only 1 pound rather than 2. But 1 pound is progress and I like that!

28 January 2008

State of the Union

So, I've got C-Span on tonight, and I'm listening to the State of the Union address. I must say that my first impression of our Congress (I've never really watched before) is that they're no better behaved than the average high-schooler at a football game. I mean, all the hooting and hollering is crazy! Folks roll their eyes at that sort of behavior at high school and college graduations, but our Congress is just as bad.

One thing that I didn't really expect to find in a "State of the Union" is so many requests for stuff that President Bush would like to see happen in the future, and so little of what he thinks the actual STATE of the Union is right now. I suppose that an address like this would be easily shifted into that sort of thing. But it struck me as less of the progress report that the name of the address implies, and more of a wish list through much of the speech. Of course, I didn't get to listen to the whole thing: my toddler wanted to talk to his Grandma and Grandpa right in the middle. As he used words to say so, we stopped to call in the middle and tried to keep half an ear on the proceedings.

One thing that bothered me was how so many of the members of Congress were just plain rude to the President. I can understand not standing or even applauding if you disagree with the President, but several people seemed to think it was some sort of study-hall, designed for them to catch up on their paperwork. My own Senators are democrats, but I hope they were at least courteous. I didn't see them, so I don't know.

On a relatively random and unimportant (but fun) note, one of the military men that President Bush shook hands with on the way out of the room looks remarkably like General George Hammond, from Stargate SG-1. Only thinner.

27 January 2008

Weekend Snapshot: Just Can't Go On

Tonight, the Monkey just fell asleep on the floor. One minute he's playing happily, riding his sea-horse, then next he's asleep. Too funny. But I'm not going to complain about him falling to sleep without a fuss! Now all we have to do is move him without waking him up. Wish us luck!

Sunday Scripture

According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the brights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;

That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.

Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.

And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.

Doctrine and Covenants 101:77-80

If you would like to participate in the Sunday Scripture meme, drop a note in my comments and I would love to list you in the blogroll!

24 January 2008

First Official Science Experiment

We went to the library yesterday and found an awesome book: Mudpies to Magnets: a preschool science curriculum. It's got some fun science experiments for little kids. The great thing is that they're labeled for the ages the book targets: 2+, 3+, 4+ or 5+. We tried one of the 2+ experiments today: put a slosh of vinegar in a cup of water. Drop in 3 raisins and add a scoop of baking soda. Watch the raisins dance to the top!

Weight Loss Progress

Well, I'm back to loosing weight again. There for a while there was some question about a possible pregnancy, but I'm not pregnant yet, so we'll get to working on the whole weight loss thing. In learning that I'm not pregnant, I'm forced to admit that there are quite a few of those tasty Christmas cookies still keeping me company in the form of a larger belly. Oh. Boy. So as of Monday, I'm officially working out and getting into the whole weight loss thing again. And it's working. I've lost the bloat that came from not drinking enough water. And I've lost a pound as well. In spite of the sad sad peanut butter chocolate cupcakes that I made yesterday. (Sorry to any Tales from the Scales folks that came & saw temptation rather than an update: my Monkey has the stomach flu and I didn't get my updating done yesterday, just a check-in on the TFTS blog.) So, as of this morning, I'm at 191. I was at 184 just before Christmas, so I've definitely lost some ground, but not tons, and I think that I'll be able to get it back in relatively short order.

I was playing around with a BMI calculator yesterday, and I was amazed at how little they said I could (theoretically) weigh and still be considered "normal." I'm 5 foot 8 inches, and at 191 I'm "overweight," though not "obese" anymore. 175 - my short term goal - is actually still "overweight." 150 and 125 are both listed as "normal" weights for my height. It'll be interesting to see where I actually end up when I get down to that range. I plan to use a mirror to decide where I want to be, when the time comes. Ultimately I'd like to have an athletic body. I'm back on track to get it with daily yoga and regular calorie tracking with BabyFit's tools, which are wonderful.

23 January 2008

Peanut Butter Day!

Today is our first fun holiday of the year - Peanut Butter Day! And of course the best way to celebrate that sort of day is in the kitchen! Happily, a friend of mine just got his yellow belt in Tae Kwon Do, so I'm making cupcakes and we'll give some of them to him, so as not to mess up my weight loss efforts too much.

I googled peanut butter cupcakes to see what I could come up with, and found this recipe. Sounds tasty, but it's missing a couple of things. For instance, the directions say to add sugar to the filling, but there's no sugar listed in the filling's ingredients. Also, there's no baking instructions. But I tried it anyway. Balling up the filling and baking it right into the cupcake sounds very interesting! Here's what I did:

1 T butter
1 T milk (I don't have the heavy cream it called for)
1 oz milk chocolate, grated (used my cheese grater & my food scale)
1/4 c creamy peanut butter
abt 1/2 c powdered sugar.

Have the chocolate grated before you start. Melt the butter & bring milk & butter to a boil. Add chocolate. Stir till smooth. Add peanut butter. Stir till smooth. Add powdered sugar a little at a time till the stuff starts pulling away from the sides of the pan when stirred with a whisk. Very scientific, I know. But that's how I did it. At one point I had a little too much powdered sugar, so I added a little slosh of milk. But make sure that if you do that it's a little slosh or you'll get all runny. Chill for about 40 minutes. Or long enough to post about it and move the wash and maybe sweep the kitchen (if the Boy sleeps that long).

6 (1 oz.) squares semi-sweet chocolate
6 tbsp. butter
2 lg. eggs
2/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. unsifted flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Melt the chocolate and butter together. If you have a double boiler, that's what the original recipe says to use. But I don't have that particular toy, so I just grated and chopped the chocolate and then melted them over low heat in a glass pan until they were smooth. In another bowl beat eggs until foamy. Add sugar and vanilla and mix till cream well. Stir in chocolate mixture. Cream some more. Add dry ingredients and stir until incorporated.

Now is the part where things get really interesting because the original recipe ends here. So I guessed, and, as it turned out, I didn't guess very well. I put the chocolate batter into 12 cups and rolled the peanut butter stuff up into balls and set it into the cupcakes.

It was looking very tasty, and I was anticipating something like brownies, since the batter was so wet. But I baked it for about 17 min at 350 - until a toothpick came out clean - and then pulled them out of the oven. Bad things started happening. The cupcakes split and fell. And they were clearly still all sorts of raw in the middle, so I put them back into the oven for another few minutes. The tops were over cooked, and the bottoms very chewy. I think that if I try this recipe again I'll try cooking it for a long time on 300 or something low like that. Anyway, that's my best guess as to what went so horribly wrong with the poor cupcakes! I'd love to hear any suggestions for what might help these: the flavor in the chewy part was very good, and the peanut butter stuff has real promise, if I could just get the cupcakes to cook up a bit nicer.

For the rest of Peanut Butter Day we had peanut butter on a spoon for a snack and sang a Rafi song about peanut butter.

"Peanut butter sandwich made with jam!
One for me and one for David Amram,
A peanut butter sandwich made with jam!
Yum yum yummy yum yum!

"I can think of witches good and bad.
But the best witch that I ever had
Was a peanut butter sandwich made with jam!
Stick stick sticky stick stick!
Yum yum yummy yum yum!"

20 January 2008

Playing in the Kitchen

It being so cold this weekend, I wanted to bake. Discovering Bread Baking Day gave me a direction to go! This month they are doing shaped breads. I've been doing round loaves with slashes for quite some time: they're easy to d and bake up so pretty! So I wanted to do something new. A bit of browsing around and I realized that it seemed like a number of folks were doing Challah, which I had never heard of. Turns out that Challah is a traditional Jewish bread & is used in both Sabbath and Holiday worship. It is also very beautiful & the symbolism in the braids & various other traditional shapes is also beautiful. So that's what I decided to do.

I took my recipe from here - Grandma Rosie's Fabulous Challah Recipe - and made it just like the lady said to do, no changes.

Monkey helped make the bread. (Warning: I apparently wasn't at my steadiest when I made this video... it's a bit jiggly.)

Then he helped me clean up the mess.

I didn't quite understand the directions for braiding the Challah, so I did a search and found a couple of U-Tube videos to help with that part. First, I did a 6 strand braid working with this video's directions:

Hmmm... looks like I'm going to have to head back to U-Tube and look for better video links... There. That's better.

Then I started a 5 strand braid for the second lump. I was a bit surprised at how hard it was to make strings out of the bread dough, but I eventually got it to work and this second one was easier, perhaps because I didn't need as many strings.

Errrr.... this video's having problems too...
OK, now they're both working. Not sure what that was all about.

We had some family stuff that I had to pay attention to, so I just did a simple 3 strand braid for the last lump of dough. Then I put them in the oven to rise. It's terribly cold, so I took the suggestion in the recipe to warm up the oven and have the bread rise in there. Worked like a charm, although the 1st rise took longer than it was supposed to and it was still only barely double when I started shaping the dough. The second rise also took longer than the recipe, but this time it was because I forgot to keep track of time and left them for almost an hour longer. They looked fine, so I declared the 5-strand braid to be my favorite (although the 3 strand came out surprisingly nice in its simplicity; the 6 I think perhaps needs longer strings than what I used to show its pattern a bit better), brushed them with egg, and popped them in the oven. At 20 minutes they were smelling great, but the recipe said that they were supposed to take 30 minutes & you may have to tent them with tinfoil to prevent too much browning, so that's what I did and I also rotated things around in my oven to get more even cooking. I've decided recently that the back (upper?) left is hotter than other areas.

Of course, the real reason for doing all this was to eat it!

Sunday Scripture

Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.
-Psalm 61:1-4

It's so cold today. I wanted something that somehow invoked the idea of being sheltered and protected by the Lord.

17 January 2008

Bits of Bird Data

I like to watch the birds. We have a feeder on our back porch and I will often write down the birds that visit us and enter them on eBird.org. It's fun in a number of ways. First, because they keep a list of all the species of birds I've entered; I've seen 33 species to date:

Canada Goose
Trumpeter Swan
Wild Turkey
Great Blue Heron
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Downey Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Norther Flicker (also a woodpecker)
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tree Swallow (observed with my brother!)
Black-Capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper (they walk down the trees)
American Robin
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing (they started me in birdwatching)
Dark-eyed Junco ("snow birds")
Northern Cardinal (we had a pair in our yard all summer)
Red-winged Blackbird (they have my favorite call)
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch (several pairs live in the tree behind the garage)
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

I would have no idea that there were so many birds that I've seen if I hadn't been telling eBird about them. Matter of fact, I wouldn't know the names of several of those birds had I not been watching and reporting. Other cool facts that I have learned, looking at the data summaries they give:

I have seen 19 species in my yard.

I submitted 108 checklists last year listing birds seen at 12 locations.

94 of those checklists were for birds seen at my house.

I saw 889 birds (well, since so many of them were seen at my house, there are likely a lot of repeat visitors, but there's really no way to tell for sure that I know of.)

Also, thus far this month I am the only person our county to report any birds to eBird.

The really cool thing? Real Scientists may use my data: they do that at eBird. You ought to check it out!

11 January 2008

Another Batch of Coloring Sheet Links

Printable Coloring Pages - a pretty good collection of animal pages, some Angel and Bible verse pages, holiday coloring pages with a few projects mixed in here and there, including some smaller holidays.

Three R's Coloring Pages - these look like coloring and activity pages, covering shapes, colors, letters comparisons (big & small) and numbers.

Previously posted coloring pages are linked to near the bottom of the sidebar.

Baby Steps Preschool: lesson 13

We have continued with school activities, but in a haphazard sort of way and it's time to get back into the swing of things with some planning and preparing. Monkey is almost 16 months now, and can do more and more things; it's so much fun!

One area we need to improve on is Bible study. I have not been very good about actually using the stories that I've been picking out, and I need to figure out a way to actually work those into what we're doing. I want the Monkey to be just as familiar with Bible stories as he is with Book of Mormon stories, and right now I'm not doing a very good job of teaching them. Any suggestions? Because I haven't actually done anything with the stories that I picked last time, I'm keeping them for this time.

I'm adding a poem to the selections for the week. The poetry tape idea is still one that I'd like to pursue, perhaps with an exchange with other Moms, but I don't want to just read them onto a tape because I'm not very excited about hearing my own voice during the day. I'd like to find someone else, either family or friend or something, to read several poems onto a tape. In the mean time, until I figure out how to do that, I think I'll get out one of my binders and print out a poem or two each time and put it in there. Monkey really likes the "Gospel ABC Book" that I've been putting together for him. He grabs it and there is a right way to read it: on a lap. He's also constantly into my binders, so I know that he'll be interested in that sort of format. It's possible that something similar would work well for the Bible study, say, coloring sheets in page protectors in a binder. It's something to consider anyway. Maybe I can talk Aunt Kate into helping me out with any stories that I have a hard time finding existing color pages for. Hmmm. An idea worth considering. There's also always the flannel board. But making the pictures is difficult. I need to come up with a better way if that's going to be the main method. Aunt Emma gave us several for Christmas and they're great, so maybe I'll also talk to her about how she went about making them.


Week 1: Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss
Week 2: You're All My Favorites by Sam McBratney

Week 1: Animal Questions & Answers: Bears by Fertl, Reddy & Stoops (part 1)
Week 2: Animal Questions & Answers: Bears (part 2)

Read Aloud:
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle, chapter 3

Poem: Above the Bright Blue Sky, by Albert Midlane

Week 1: Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25-27)
Week 2: Jacob's Ladder/Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 28)

Book of Mormon:
Enos, Jarom, Omni

Classical Music:
Piano Please! CD. Lots of Beethoven on this one.

Game: block tower destruction - Monkey got new blocks for Christmas and this game is a joy to him right now!

Art: finger painting (or we may try watercolors).

Around the House: helping empty the dishwasher (basically, he hands me the dishes he can get out, almost faster than I can get them put away!)

Looks Tasty

So, I was looking for a recipe for peanut butter filling because I thought that it would go well in a chocolate cupcake. Apparently I'm not the only one to have ever thought that sort of thought because I found a delicious-looking recipe. I probably won't use dark chocolate because Andy doesn't like that stuff, but it sounds just tasty!

10 January 2008

Resolutions (Finally)

So, January's almost half over. I guess that I'd best get my goals for the year written down, eh? Goals tend to work better if you have some sort of system for remembering and tracking them. This blog seems like a likely place to do that! With that in mind, here are my goals. They are in no particular order.

1. Finish 4 fleece jackets for Andy.

2. Do 6 chapters of Japanese.

3. Keep up with my chosen topics in the Mom's Educational Course.

4. Finish my Roman Stripes quilt top.

5. Learn CSS & get my Baby Steps website up and running.

6. EITHER have a baby OR loose 25 pounds (start weight: 195)

7. Give gifts that are handmade this year for birthdays and Christmas. (I plan to cheat for any babyshower gifts: I always do books at those.)

8. Get a book on herbs and plant 3 types that I think I might use. Then do something with them. (Lavender doesn't count: I've already got that growing in my yard.)

9. Improve my ability to keep my house clean.

There. That ought to keep me a bit busy. For a day or two at least. I've actually started several of them already, so I'm not as big of a slacker as doing my New Year's Resolutions on the 10th would seem to imply. However, I think at this point I should stop. I do tend to get carried away with this sort of activity.

Fun Holidays

Cocoa listed several of her favorite odd holidays and observances that they plan to celebrate this year and I thought it was a fun idea so I'm picking out a few to add to our calendar too. I thought about 1 a month would be a good amount of unusual days to observe with the Monkey.

January 23: National Peanut Butter Day. This sounds delicious! Maybe make some peanut butter cupcakes, I don't know what exactly. But it's sure to be tasty.

February 18: Play-Doh Day. I've got some, but we haven't played with it very much yet. This would be a good day to try again!

March 2: Dr. Seuss's Birthday. Books! I love Dr. Seuss! This will be a great day to read a bunch of his stuff and maybe try doing something very silly. Since this one is on a Sunday, we may do a "Dr. Seuss's Birthday Observed" on the 3rd.

April 22: Earth Day. It's not very original, but there should be some fun activities out there to do with a Small Monkey.

May 5: Museum Lover's Day> There's a children's museum plus some other ones relatively locally that I've had my eye on. This would be a good day to take the Monkey to one of them.

The first week of May is also National Postcard week, which could be fun to do something with as well.

June 13: National Juggling Day. I wanted to learn to juggle for this last year, but it's a project that took longer than I had expexted, so maybe this year if I start now I can be ready in time!

July 9: Sugar Cookies Day. We got very cool dinosaur cookie puzzle cutter at the Cinnicnatti Children's Museum, this would be a great day to use it! And by then the Monkey will be a bit bigger & motr able to "help."

August 11: Play in the Sand Day. Sounds like a visit to the lake to me. But it reminds me that I'd wanted to get a sand-and-water table some time this winter to have for next summer...

September 17: Constitution Day. Commemorates the signing of the Constitution. He'll be just a few days shy of 2 years old by then. Hopefully between now & then I'll come up with something the Monkey can do with me for this one!

October 28: National Chocolate Day. What's not to love??

November 4: King Tut's Tomb Discovered. I'm sure we can come up with something cool for this one. And it seems like a good fit, since the idea is to start with ancient history in a few years. Why not catch a little for fun ahead of then?

December 17: Wright Brother's Day. We've already got a book about the Wright Brothers we could read, and maybe visit an air museum or make flying machine.

I got my ideas from here and here and here.

And, the Fluffernutter. Just one of the odd things I ran across making this list. It's even got a Day (Oct. 8).

Are you doing anything with a wacky holiday this year?

06 January 2008

Thought Provoking: Shame, Love, and Discipline

Homeschool Marketplace E-Journal: Mama, We've Got Ourselves a Selfish Little Girl Here

Shame is the only emotion that attacks the self by making one believe that one is inherently defective and unlovable. This crippling emotion destroys self-confidence and prevents one from achieving or enjoying success. ....

The six common forms of shame are:
1. The put-down: "You naughty boy!", "You're acting like a spoiled child!", "You selfish brat!", "You cry-baby!" "You're mean!" "Rug rat"
2. Moralizing: "Good little boys don't act that way" "You've been a bad little girl" “God isn’t pleased when you act that way” “Angels are crying right now because of what you’ve done”
3. Age-based expectations: "Grow up!" "Stop acting like a baby!" "Big boys don't cry ” "You're 10 years old--you should be able to do this by now""
4. Gender-based expectations: "Toughen-up and take it like a man!" "Don't be a sissy!" “Stop being so emotional!” “Don’t be such a silly girl”
5. Competency-based expectations: "You're hopeless!" “You’ll never be good at anything” "You should be able to do this math by yourself " "You should know better than that" "Any idiot could have figured that out"
6. Comparisons: "Why can't you be more like so-and-so?" "None of the other children are acting like you are" "You're not as _____as your sister (brother) "

Shame not only makes us feel like we intrinsically have no value, but it also gives us a distorted perception of what love really is. Why? Because the people who shame us the most tend to be the people who tell us they love us. So we get mixed messages about love. On the one hand we are told we are loved, but on the other we are made to feel like we are not worthy of love.

This, all by itself is food for thought. I found myself more than a little uncomfortable when I read her list of shaming "techniques." How many of those do I use without really realizing it? So far, the only thing that I think she's missing is that her definitions of shame make it sound like a childhood problem. To be fair, she's writing about how Christians discipline their children, but I find some of these thoughts running around my head - aimed at ME. Particularly the competency-based type of shame.

Anyway, she continues, a little later in the article:

You're probably wondering how I dealt with my feelings of shame. What helped me most was to focus on God's love for me. ... I read and reread and reread I Corinthians 13, taking time with each description of what love is like. Love is patient....what does that mean? How would that be expressed? How does God show patience to me? How can I be more patient with myself? Since shame is a form of self-hatred, I focused on loving myself as well as on receiving God's love for me. Love is kind....

Based on my mediations on I Corinthians 13, I wrote out a list of "How a Father Treats His Daughter When He Really, Really, Really Loves Her" and looked at the list often, meditating on what it would be like to be loved that way and asking God to let me experience that kind of love from Him since I had only known glimpses of it from my own father.

What a wonderful idea! I think that the lists that I would most like to see - ones that I think I will be making myself - are lists titled "How a Mother Treats Her Children" and "How a Wife Treats Her Husband." But first, I have to study that chapter.

Sunday Scripture 15

And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the iof men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to th commandments which God hat given.
-2 Nephi 2:26

This could be Dangerous!

They've announced the Cupcake Hero for December - and posted links to all those minty cupcakes! Most dangerous. I may have to think up some people to give cupcakes to! Anyone know how you can mail cupcakes? I'd love to send some to my brother who's on a mission, but I don't know how I can get it there. I use my vacuum sealer to send him cookies from time to time, but I think that would seriously smush a cupcake. And smushed cupcakes are just not cool. Anyway, wander over and check out those cupcakes! I think I'm going to have to come up with an excuse to make a batch or two. Anybody want a cupcake??

05 January 2008

Photo Hunt: Delicious

Theme: Delicious

We made a gingerbread house over Christmas, and in addition to being a lot of fun, it was delicious!

02 January 2008

Lovely Article on Home Preschool

LDS-NHA: To Pre or Not to Pre

Luckily, two very wise homeschool mentors (and now my “bestest” of friends) told me to relax. Instead of all the stressful planning, researching and execution, they suggested instead to read with him, play games, go on lots of outings (without specific educational “goals” in mind) and basically sing and “snoodle” him to death.

Life became fun once more. We made cookies, took walks, roamed the zoo, played in the sand at the beach, read and reread our favorite stories, and sang every silly song in my extensive repertoire. It was so much fun that when “kindergarten” rolled around, we were hooked. Homeschooling wasn’t “schooling,” per se. It was relishing life and cherishing every moment together. ...

So, what do you do? Gosh, it’s the glorious part of homeschooling – you make it fit to the individual needs of your children, your family. What one disdains, the other craves, they are different little souls. They are world-conquerors, meant to lead and not to settle for passive following or fitting into pre-set molds. They are creative and alive, with a brilliant future written all over them; we must be sensitive enough to give them their free rein. Give ‘em what they want and need. Frankly, it’s not much harder than a little thought, a little prayer, and a desire to be close to them in these precious, eager learning years.



Well, I found this fun cupcake thing, where they've got a themed ingredient and you build a cupcake around it. Well, the deadline was Dec. 31, and I didn't browse across it until Dec. 30, so there was no way that I was going to be able to get any done in time to enter their contest. But it seemed like such a fun idea. The theme was mint, and I had a bunch of leftover pepperMINT candy canes, so I thought I'd make peppermint vanilla cupcakes.

I used a recipe that a previous winner liked for vanilla cupcakes. But I tweaked it a bit to add a bit of peppermint flavor. That and I don't have all the tools & equipment that the recipe calls for. But here's what I did.

For the cupcake:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 T baking powder
1/4 t, heaping, salt
1/2 cup salted butter
2 extra large eggs
1/2 c 2% milk
1 t double proof vanilla extract
1 t peppermint extract

preheat to 325, line cupcake pan with papers. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder & salt in a large bowl, mix with fork. Add butter, cut with pastry blender until it's large crumbs, well coated with flour mixture. measure milk, add eggs, vanilla & flavorings to the measuring cup & stir. Pour into four mixture & beat on med-low until ingredients are incorporated. Don't overbeat. Fill 12 cupcake papers till something that resembles 2/3 full. (The other recipe says this should make 15, but I only got 12 & they're nice sized.) Bake, rotating pan halfway through, for 17-20 min, remove to a cooling rack.

While those were cooling I made up some pudding, using the pie filling directions. Nothing fancy here, just stuff I had on hand. After all, it was 10:30pm! When the pudding was made I got out my melon baller & cut the tops out with the big side then hollowed things out a bit with the small side. Then I scooped a bit of that pudding into the holes & put the tops back on.

Next, I needed some frosting. So I made up a batch of buttercream & put some peppermint flavoring in it.

1/2 c crisco
1/2 c butter
1 t double proof vanilla
1 t peppermint flavoring
4 c (aprox 1 lb) powdered sugar
2 T milk
2 candy canes, crushed

Cream butter and shortening with electric mixer. Add vanilla & peppermint extracts. Gradually add sugar mixing well & scraping sides & bottom of the bowel regularly. Icing will look dry. Add milk & beat at high speed until light & fluffy. Crush peppermint sticks in flat-bottomed glass bowl with the bottom of a glass cup until it's pretty fine pieces. Add to the frosting & mix again. Frost the cupcakes.


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