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A Trip To Paris At Home

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Alright. I’m not gonna lie to you.  When we got the call yesterday morning at 6:30, I groaned. I did.  I’m pretty sure I whined shamelessly.  It went a little something like this: “Seriously?! Again?! AH! That is the fourth time in seven days. You’ve got to be kidding me!’

Yeeeeeeeeep.  Here in the snowman capital of the world we had ANOTHER snow day. Sheesh!  With subzero temperatures verging on fifteen below, I guess I can see why they thought it necessary to cancel again. But, really, could they have asked me first? I have orders I am behind on, not to mention dishes, housework and Downton Abbey!

Alas, though, I gave in and accepted that all of that would have to wait. Again.

A very sweet friend sent me some tea in the mail and I caught a glimpse of it sitting on the side table while aforementioned tantrum was transpiring. It was so charmingly called “Breakfast in Paris” tea. Ah! Breakfast in Paris, I thought to my little ol’ self. If only……

The best part of being a parent, in my opinion, is that I really don’t have to act like an adult all the time and I have a great excuse for it: I’m just being a good mom!! If I want to take the whole day and pretend that I am strolling the streets of Paris, shopping and visiting the Louvre and sitting in cafes admiring the Eiffel Tower, then by golly I will! You know….for the sake of the kids….

Here is the schedule for our day.  We started by listening to the “French Traditional” station on Pandora to set the mood. Then, I taught the girls the three French words I actually know: Bonjour, Au revoir, and Merci. Of course I used a very obnoxious and completely off accent all day and called the girls Mademoiselles.

We put the kettle on and used our finest china, pretending that we were taking our tea and breakfast in a street café.  We imagined it was sunny and warm and there were birds chirping (or at least I did. The girls kept contradicting me saying, “Nu-uh, Mom. There are no birds. It’s cold!”).

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Then we made crepes using this yummy recipe. I did add a little canned pumpkin for nutritional benefit as well. We filled them with jam and fresh fruit. We sipped tea and talked in accents and dreamed of a warm morning in Paris gazing at the Eiffel Tower.

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After breakfast we took a stroll down a street lined with blooming flowers (or really took a walk up to our second story bathroom) to the “salon” where we had French manicures and did our hair in French braids.

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Then, alas, because the house and messy kitchen sadly won’t clean itself we pretended to be French maids. The kids weren’t really buying it, but we had to stay in theme, right? 😉

Then we went “shopping” at the Le Petit Closet (again, insert me in French accent, “Oh yes! Dis is da finest Fraunch boutique in all of Par-ie.” And the girls groaning, “Mooooom. It’s our closet!!”) We put on our finest duds and put on a fashion show.  I draped a tablecloth over the door as a backdrop. Verrry hip this year on the Paris runway. Then we struck some serious and very chic poses. Do you see the pure diva sass I’m dealing with here, people?!

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Before lunch, we took virtual tours of the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. They both have A-M-A-Z-I-N-G sites with 360degree views. On the Louvre’s site you can click on paintings and statues and such and get a larger view of them and information about them. You can see the museum room by room. I was IN LOVE! Je T’aime, Louvre! They also have a whole wing dedicated to Egyptian history which was a great opportunity to tell the girls about the ancient Egyptians and what they believed and how it differs from what we believe as Christians.  It turned into a little theological/Bible lesson. Bonus.

After all of that, we took a tour of local attractions via our very own, personal tour guide, Pinterest. Do you know there is a trampoline bridge over the Seine?!!! WHAT?!! That alone makes me want to visit the city of love for real!!! Did I say yet that I like to act like a kid sometimes?

 Then for lunch we had veeeeeeeeery authentic French cuisine: French (garbage) fries. Hey! I did crepes, alright?

Then we strolled to what I would like to pretend was an outdoor theater in the park and watched the movie “Madeline” (on Netflix).  It’s a story about a little French girl in Paris who is trying to save the girls’ home where she lives. Cute.

After the “theater” we had pumpkin lattes (DECAF!) with chocolate on a veranda overlooking the Seine river.

Then I about collapsed from exhaustion. Who knew touring Paris could be so tiring?

So I made the girls rest for a few minutes while I prepped for our next item on the venture.  I told them we would paint pictures of the Eiffel Tower (because, honestly, you can’t go to Paris and NOT do something artistic, right?). So I googled a silhouette of the Tower and then traced it onto a piece of watercolor paper. Then I used some handy dandy rubber cement and painted over the silhouette.

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You can also use art masking fluid but it is WAAAAAAAAY expensive and a bottle of rubber cement is only a couple of dollars and change and does the job nicely.  I told the girls to paint all over the paper in any colors they so desired.

While they worked I serenaded them because that’s what they would do in France, right? Artists need mood music to get the creative juices flowing. In this case, “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor because that’s pretty much all I know at this point.

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Then when it was done and all dried and the masterpieces were created, I took an artist’s eraser and rubbed off the rubber cement revealing the tower beneath it and voila (as the French would say).

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We ended the day with French onion soup for dinner (which I would not recommend. I don’t believe it’s really French or a favorite with kids). Lesson learned.

All in all, it was a pretty romantic day….for me at least! A couple of times Ev said, “This is the best day EVER!” So I think they enjoyed it as well.

Disclaimer: I do always like to have a reality check though, for those of you who might think this was all kittens and unicorns and kittens riding on unicorns and are tempted to be discouraged. It wasn’t all sunny. I did plenty of scolding in my French accent, the girls didn’t dig all of my ideas, and at one point I just threw my hands up and really scolded…in clear English….and SUPER loudly. It was fun, but not perfect, even in Paris!

Here is a FREE printable in case you feel inspired to do your own stay-cay vacay to Paris!

Revoir, mes amours!

paristicket

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Princess Cake

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This is Nora. Isn’t she cute? I took this picture when she was five. That was yesterday. Today she is six and my heart is broken!!! How in the world did this happen?! From five to six, just like that. Anyway, thankfully she is not too old yet that she requested a princess cake for her birthday. We scrounged Pinterest together, oohing and aahing over all of the princess cakes. I need to add that last year, my other daughter, Evie, also requested a princess cake for her birthday and I will show you the horrifying pictures of that later (if you are faint of heart, I suggest you turn back now or skip that part).  It was a complete and utter disaster. I naively thought, “Ah, what is there to it but shoving a Barbie in a cake.” As you will see in the pictures, it shows. Anyway, this year I did some massive research to try to redeem myself. First off, I made fondant for the cake using this surprisingly easy method I found on Pinterest.  It really only took me about ten minutes to make. I made it purple and I wish I had taken the time to do more colors, but that is a moot point. Anyway, then I carefully used this method to make the cake (also found on Pinterest) and painstakingly took pictures of each step, until my defective camera card erased them all. I baked the cake first, though, in this large measuring cup because I thought it would be the perfect form for a bell skirt.

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A little disclaimer thought, when using this method, it took (in the words of Squints) FOR-EV-ER, and the outside is dry while the inside was a little doughy. Live and learn, I guess. Still, this is what I had to work with and there was no going back. So, I started trimming off the edges of the cake (as seen in the cornerhouse blog) and used chocolate frosting as my mortar, so to speak, to paste the cake onto the bottom half of the doll’s body. This Tianna doll, FYI, I got at Walmart for only $5. I was pretty proud of that, and thought I would mention it. Anyway, I had pictures of this as well. Just imagine a doll plastered with crumby pieces of cake all of the bottom half of her body.  Then, I rolled out the fondant and went to work adding the bodice and sleeves.

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Be sure that when you roll out your fondant you use powdered sugar to keep it from sticking to the cutting board.  Once I had the bodice and sleeves attached the way I wanted to, I rolled out one long, skinny piece for the skirt. I just wrapped it around and attached it to itself in the back, then cut off any excess from the bottom of it.

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What I love about fondant is that it is like working with edible clay, so it’s easier, IMHO, to work with. After that was done, I used a clean, dry cloth to brush off what excess powder I could and went about embellishing it with edible pearls (only one dollar at Walmart) and some icing with a rosette tip.

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This part was fun and fairly easy. Anyway, here is the finished product.

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Now, I understand when you compare it to the ones in the other blog, she blows me out of the water. But, when you compare it to this catastrophe from last year:

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…..it ain’t too bad.

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Chicken Enchilada Lasagna

There were two meals that were my husband’s absolute favorites, and two meals I could never get right.  First of all, he loves lasagna.  When we were first married, I would try to surprise him with it, but we had little money, so I was be a little conservative with the ingredients. I didn’t add as much cheese or sauce as necessary. I was so proud of myself, I didn’t even really notice how dry it was…..until my husband finally had the guts to tell me, five years into our marriage. Talk about embarrassing. Then, of course, there were the chicken enchiladas that I mentioned in my ice cream cake post.  When I tried to improve upon the lasagna, even adding sausage (how can you go wrong with sausage?!) he would take a bite and say, “It’s good, it’s just that it’s not like they make at Olive Garden.” I love to create my own things, and hate following a recipe of any sort. I have since learned, though, since these few mishaps, to just follow the recipes he gives me and don’t ask any questions.  We are both much happier that way. However, I decided to try to combine the two. It seemed like an idea of pure genius!  This way, he could say that someone else’s recipe was not quite as good as mine:) I really like that idea. I made this last night, and he loved it! So, I thought I would pass it along to you! Hope you enjoy it, and I would love to hear feedback if you have tried it!

1 10.5oz can cream of mushroom soup

16 oz. sour cream

8oz package of shredded cheddar cheese

2 skinless chicken breasts, boiled and shredded

1 box lasagna noodles

Cook noodles according to package instructions, boiling to the taste and texture you prefer. I prefer them to have a little bite left and not too mushy. Lay them out in one layer on the bottom of a greased 9×13″  pan.  Mix cheese, chicken, sour cream, and soup in a large bowl, being sure to leave out just some cheese and soup to pour over the top of the lasagna.  Spread the mixture on top of the noodles.  Add another layer of noodles, and spread with remainder of the mixture.  Add a little milk to the remaining soup and cheddar and pour over top.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes until it is heated through.  Let cool for a few minutes before cutting and dishing out. Enjoy!

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Valentine’s Day Ice Cream Cake

When my husband and I first got married ten years ago, he was constantly requesting me to make his favorite things his mom used to make. I have to admit this used to be a source of contention at one point when I tried to surprise him by making chicken enchiladas, only to have him take one bite and say, “These aren’t like the ones my mom makes.” After being married for awhile, we have both grown a bit wiser :). I have learned to embrace the meals and desserts his mom has made, and he has learned to accept that I can’t help but add my own flavor to anything I might make in the kitchen. He has also learned the valuable lesson that should be written in the Wives 101 manual: don’t ever tell your wife she doesn’t do something as well as your mom. So, I will give you two alternatives to this recipe: 1) the original recipe my mother-in-law used to make, and my own version of it. Let me clarify by saying that I do not believe that my recipe is better than hers, I just wanted to give you both alternatives because hers is so super yummy too!

1) My version 🙂

Ingredients:

-1 package for sandwich cookies of your choosing

-Jar of hot fudge

-candy of your choosing, preferably chocolate of some sort:)

-2 half gallons of ice cream of your choosing

Put sandwich cookies in the bottom of your pan and smash. If you have children, this is a great way to get them involved. If your kids are anything like mine, they love getting the chance to smash things, and it’s better when they actually get permission to do so!Melt hot fudge according to the instructions on the jar and spread it over top of the cookies. Spread a layer of ice cream on top of that, and cover with candy. It helps if you set the ice cream out a few minutes before you are going to use it to soften it up a little. As you can see, I opted for chocolate ice cream and peanut m and m’s, but you can use so many variations. I just made an Andy’s Candies cake for my dad’s birthday, and it was to die for! I used a layer of chocolate ice cream, the candies, and then a layer of Andy’s Candies ice cream they had at my grocery store. It was even generic. Go figure!
Crush a few more cookies and sprinkle them on top of this layer, add more hot fudge, another layer of ice cream, and put candy on the top layer. Put it in freezer. That is it! It only takes about fifteen minutes to make.

My mother-in-law’s:

-1 stick butter

-1 Jar hot fudge

-1 Jar caramel or butterscotch

-1 Jar of peanuts

-2 half gallons of ice cream

-Candy of your choosing

The instructions for her version are much the same as mine, only you melt the butter and mix it with the cookies in the bottoms of the pan to help them stick together. I have found that this is not necessary, because the filling in the cookies, and the hot fudge, plus putting it in the freezer all do the trick well enough. In this recipe you  also add the caramel sauce and peanuts to the candy and hot fudge.

The reason I have altered the recipe is mostly because I am cheap and eliminated elements of it that I didn’t feel were absolutely necessary to make this a great cake. The ingredients add up really quickly. Also, the original recipe is super rich and sweet, and I like things “toned down” a little bit. I am not as fond of things that are super rich, and my recipe is still rich enough. Anyway, I will let you decide for yourself! Enjoy!