Holy Snow Batman!

If you live in New England, you were probably just hit by a giant bucket of snow.  As a kid, your first thought was “SNOOOWWW DAAAAAY!!!!! I’m gonna go sledding, and have a snow ball fight and….who wants to build a snow maaaaaan???”

As an adult and home owner, my first thought was “SNOOWWWW DAAAAAYYY!!! Oh wait, I have to move all of this.  This is MY responsibility.”  Adulthood.  It happens to the best of us.  So I thought about it and realized that this was still a good opportunity.  The husband and I got out there, him manning the snow blower (a necessity in Connecticut) and I with my shovel and broom.  Together we spent the morning clearing out the driveway, porch, deck and made a path through the back yard to get access to our well and garage. It actually wasn’t too bad and as a bonus, we got our physical activity in!  It can be hard work moving snow.  This storm was about a foot:

IMG_0848 IMG_0849 IMG_0835 IMG_0837 IMG_0838 IMG_0845 IMG_0843Now in general, the bitter cold and snow can be a MAJOR exercise deterrent.  Running or even just taking the dog for a walk now has mountains of new obstacles.  Getting out to the gym or a class can also seem daunting.  What is important to remember is that even if your normal activities are no longer weather appropriate, you can still stay fit and have fun.  Shift your thinking and focus on seasonal activities.  Now I know that snow removal although seasonal, is not fun.  Instead think about all those things you enjoyed as a kid.  Get together with friends and have a massive snow ball fight.  You will be puffing by the end with a giant smile on your face.  Sledding is another classic.  You wont even mind running up the hills!

This past weekend, we embraced the cold weather.  Growing up, my husband and his family would play pond hockey together.  We planned it out and had everyone all set.  And then it snowed the day before. 😦 Did that stop us? Please.  We are New Englanders!  The ice was thick enough so we went out onto the pond the day before with the snow blower (I’m telling you, its amazing!) and shovel and we cleared a rink for the boys to play hockey and then an outer circle for the less talented skaters (ahem, me and the children).  The next day the ice was ready for us.

IMG_2408We kicked off the day bright and early around 10, skated all morning and then had a nice batch of home made crock pot chili (recipe coming soon!).  Everyone playing hockey was playing all out.  Some of them had been avid hockey players when they were younger and some were just beginners.  It was really fun to watch because even the newbies were having a good time.  My friend Meagan and I skated around the outer loop chatting and watching, getting our bearings.  We also each grabbed an extra stick to use for balance.  I would highly recommend this strategy for individuals who are not confident on skates.  It gives you such a sense of security and if you actually do start to fall, you can absolutely catch yourself.  By taking the stress out, you can enjoy yourself longer.

The day was a blast and didn’t really feel like exercise.  That night and the next day, however, we all felt it.  2+ hours of continuous skating engages so many muscles and really makes your body work.  It felt a lot like post skiing (another activity to embrace), that really satisfying wiped feeling.  I didn’t get too many photos but we had a beautiful day.

What winter activities do you look forward to?


Perks of Being an Aunt

Last month, I got to celebrate my nephews 2nd birthday! I cant believe he is already so big, and he has a vocabulary I think some 8 year olds would envy.  A fun fact is that he was born the weekend I graduated from college, so he is a nice maker of how long I’ve been in the real world. Yikes, has it really been 2 years since I was a True Blue UConn Husky???  Quarter-life crisis aside, we all had a great time with the little munchkin.

He is super into trains so we went to go see Thomas! Seriously, this thing is like a rock concert for toddlers.

Thomas CollageAfterwards we got together for lunch, cake and presents.  In addition to Thomas, my nephew LOVES the movie Despicable Me.  He cant quite say it, so his requests sounded like “Pickle me”.  When we babysat it was a bit confusing, but eventually we figured it out.  In light of this, I decided to attempt my first Auntie confection.  And behold, the minions were born:

2014-05-05 09.03.51  2014-05-03 18.30.26

2014-05-03 18.30.18Aren’t these so cute??? I kept the recipe simple and made Martha Stewart’s vanilla cupcake recipe.  I then added a generous amount of blue food coloring to represent their overalls.  The batter was slightly yellow from the egg yolks so I had to use a lot of coloring to keep it blue, not green.  For the frosting, I made my first butter cream! Soooo good, but also made me realize just how much butter is in butter cream.  Well worth it.  I love the shade of yellow I was able to get.  Its so vibrant and is a pretty good match for the real characters. Because the frosting dries stiff, I did a base coat and then smoothed it out with a second layer of frosting to make a nice even surface for decorating.

When I was planning out my cupcakes, I was trying to come up with a creative way to decorate.  I was pretty sure my frosting abilities weren’t strong enough to do the eyes in white frosting.  Might have gotten a bit scary.  Instead, the idea to use mini marshmallows popped into my head! Using a toothpick, I drew pupils on the center then added some extra frosting to the bottom to act as glue.  I used a basic black gel frosting for the other details. Viola! To best represent the minions diverse personalities, I mixed up there expressions and number of eyes.  It was difficult to get the classic Whaaaaa? face, but I still got a nice range.

At the party, I think the kids were too young to really get it, but they went over well with the adults.  And the kids liked the flavor so win-win.

What whimsical baking have you done?