An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

A Journey Through Movie Season November 9, 2014

I: Independence

It’s movie season in Minnesota. It’s Option A for cold-weather climates. This season, our family is in an interesting era for appropriateness and interest-level for movie-going.  I’ve had my eye on the PG-13 movies for years, even more so now that my daughter is 11 and my son is nine. Just maybe they’re old enough to see some PG-13 movies. I push the boundaries because I’ve paid my PG dues for seven years now.


Lego Movie FansI’ve seen everything from Happy Feet (my daughter’s first movie in a theater when she was four) to Yogi Bear (2010) and Rio (2011) (don’t bother seeing Rio 2; 2014) to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) (don’t bother seeing Cloudy 2). I guess I should be thanking my kids. There were some great films along the way. Their dialogue remains part of our vocabulary and voices inspired by movies like Cars, Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Ratatouille and more recently The Lego Movie.


We own a modest amount of movies on DVD, but I prefer the theater experience. It used to be that my kids really didn’t have a say in the matter of movie selection. I’d choose a movie, they’d happily go along. Now, I have to make a case for the movie. The little critics both have to watch the trailer and it goes up for a vote. Often times, I lose. Their movie over mine or not to see one at all. Sometimes Calvin, my son, will cave with a little pressure because he’s craving popcorn or Gummy Bears. Truth.


Loaded Up with Popcorn for Despicable Me 2A few months ago we saw Captain America based on a family vote as our collective second choice among a list of movies. I went into it with the expectation of seeing yet another superhero action-packed movie. I was pleasantly surprised.The kids both liked it too. It was PG-13, but I still felt it was suitable for them. I thought back to a few PG movies that felt PG-13 to me, like Where the Wild Things Are. Everyone has their own opinion on what’s appropriate, but websites like Is This Movie Suitable and CommonSense help parents sort out movie subject matter, so parents can determine appropriateness. It’s still a bit of a gamble.


The next gamble I took occurred last week when I stumbled on The 100 Foot Journey. No, it wasn’t PG-13, merely PG. Critics and audiences alike gave stars freely. As I read reviews other elements aligned. My daughter takes French, the movie takes place in France. The family in the film is from India with an accent we’re very fond of trying to replicate based on several viewings of Life of Pi. My case was built, but could I convince the kids to go?


Riverview: Our Fave Movie TheaterMy son was an adamant no when I first pitched the movie to him on a Tuesday afternoon. Then he studied the trailer, paused a moment and said sure, we can go. My daughter was swept away from her homework and en route to the Riverview Theater, she watched the trailer. She was an easier sell. This drama film fell into a divergent category outside of our norm. Plus this film runs 124 minutes (as opposed to our usual PG average around 90-100 minutes). I crossed my fingers that it would all go well. Otherwise, who knows when I’d earn their trust back.


This film was a good gamble. All three of us enjoyed it and I found myself wishing for more films like this. The characters were so believable. Every element from culinary to scenery (South France and Paris) enticed me. The family feud was full of life lessons played out meaningful ways. And most meaningful to me: to produce a film with passion and deep context, without the swearing and sexual content that accompanies most dramas of this type. It was simply refreshing and uplifting.


The kids’ review: my son caught that Steven Spielberg co-produced it (with Oprah Winfrey for DreamWorks Pictures) and that meant something to him. He said something like, yeah, well Spielberg produced it, it has to be a great movie. My daughter replayed a few scenes in the car ride home. She thought the relationship between Helen Mirren and Om Puri most curious as their characters cleverly take their status from hate to love.


It was a good adventure in film for this family. What movies are you parents taking your tweens to this season? We are open to recommends.


Cake Pop Culture February 16, 2014

Filed under: Eats — edamomie @ 3:20 pm
Tags: , , , ,

E: Eats

Up Close with CakePops

Up Close with CakePops

Cake pops have been on my radar for over a year. They just got some recent hype on February 1st during National Cake Pop Day, which proves they’re part of pop culture and here to stay. So what better sweet treat occasion than Valentine’s Day to test them out? In hindsight, I researched too much, got lost in Pinterest boards and overcomplicated it. The simple cake pop is a beautiful thing.


It’s really the perfect bite – actually three bites in one cake pop to be exact. In my opinion, it’s a better (less caloric) option than a sliver of cake or a cupcake with frosting whipped up into an insane tower that makes a dainty bite messy and nearly impossible. However, the cake pop is three times more labor intensive than your standard box cake mix spread with store-bought frosting.


Is it worth it? When I was up til 1:00a.m. making four dozen cake rounds in my NordicWare Cake Pop Baking Pan, I did not believe so. Each box cake mix for one 9×12 pan makes 48 cake pops. If I cake pop again, I might get another pan so turnover time is quicker. I had to wait 10 minutes in between 20 minute baking cycles to let them cool properly. The pan needed to be cleaned each time too.


Pops with Mustaches

Pops with Mustaches

You can also make the variety that doesn’t require the pan mold. You do this by making a standard 9×12 cake then mixing the finished cake with frosting and forming that into balls, much like a cookie, then dunking in frosting. I did make a yellow cake to test this version out, but the family ate it before I could come back to it two days later.


The cake pops we made were from a strawberry cake mix, for Valentine’s Day of course! Out of the 48 I made, only 25 actually made it to mustached cake pop art (when the yellow cake was gone, they started popping the unfrosted cake rounds). And because I waited four days, I also missed Valentine’s Day treat bags. It’s just how it goes sometimes. No mother guilt here.


I think I was hesitant to tackle the frosting because of burnout due to futzing with cake pop round baking. I also had to make another run to the store because the kids ate the white chocolate melting drops I bought last week (not helpful!!). So with a second round of Guittard Melt’n Mold White Chocolates melting in the pan, I called the kids to the kitchen for detailing duty. My son stuck the cake rounds in the center with the cake pop sticks, I dipped (and double dipped) them in white chocolate, drizzling the top and edges as needed, and my daughter sprinkled (Target brand white, purple pink and red four pack of Valentine’s Day Sugars), mustached (Wilton brand decorations) and resprinkled them.


Cake Pop Stand

Cake Pop Stand

The decorating was quite easy and much more fun than the baking portion. Although some of the cake crumbled off into the frosting by the last five pops, the others looked smoothly frosted. One tip I read somewhere was to make sure frosting covered the base where the stick and round connect – very helpful as it kept them from falling off. By assessing the rounds pre frosting, I thought they’d turn out smaller than your average Starbucks cake pop, however, they were comparable if not a little larger.


For a first attempt, we were satisfied. Note: I am not a baker or decorator (although I did work at a bakery for three summers while in college) so this is meant to be inspiration for the average non-baker to take on the cake pop. In the decor category, we could’ve added some eyes to the cake pop face, I guess. Ava, my 10 year-old, styled the shoot for the final cake pop photography and opted to stick them in an apple so they’d stand up in display mode. And our random pencil jar covered in mustache duct tape came in handy too. Clever!


For future, I’m taking decorating cues from Pinterest boards (see fishbowls, Valentines, rainbows, Frozen) and pinning them to my own Sweet Eats Pinterest Board, my sister-in-law’s cake pop book and a newly discovered cake pop and cupcake artist – Heather of Playful Cupcakeations. Ava and I liked the flavor combo, Calvin, my 8 year-old, commented that it wasn’t his favorite combo. I’m thinking chocolate cake pop with salted caramel frosting next time round.  Other yummy suggestions?


Blogging: A Three-Year Disappearing Act February 1, 2014

Filed under: Independence — edamomie @ 9:25 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

I: Independence

It’s been eons since I’ve posted a blog. Since my initial blog in November 2010, when the kids were five and seven, I went from weekly postings (Nov 2010 – Oct 2011), to bi-weekly postings (Nov 2011- Dec 2012), to monthly (Jan 2013- Oct 2013) to a significant hiatus (Nov 2013 – Jan 2014). Now, three years into edamomie, the kids are eight and ten. I’ve posted 102 blogs and seen almost 20,000 views. So what’s with my three-month leave of absence? I’ve been pondering this for a while and recently, when checking out 200 some food-oriented bloggers for a client, I discovered a pattern. Many blogs run about three years, then disappear.


When these blogger’s posts trailed off, they acknowledged this gap, explained their absence – I moved, new career, no time/something had to give, started a new blog, etc – and either recommitted or as in most cases, disappeared. I’m not sure which category I’m in yet.


What’s behind this common disappearing act?


The Fun-Factor and Freedom of Choice:
Bloggers all start with a passion to share their thoughts and ideas and many of them set a consistent schedule, i.e. committing to one post a week for one year, like I did. No one’s forcing a post. It’s sharing for fun. When the novelty wears off and there’s no one telling you that you have to post something because they desperately miss you (although my family and friends have wondered, What’s up?), you can stop. That’s the beauty of it too — free choice.


Forced Exploration:
For many, adhering to a schedule and generating content forces the exploration and discovery process. When I was blogging weekly, I was engaging the kids in projects, ideas, outings, etc. Some of this happened spontaneously while other times, I deliberately sought out content for my blog. Either way, it caused me to be thoughtful, frequent and proactive in planning in the types of activities we did.


The Purpose:
Bloggers don’t always receive comments and the futility of posting something no one will read weighs on us. For me, I started writing about my experiences with my kids as a form of scrapbooking, which I abandoned shortly after their third birthdays (read: guilt complex). My purpose for blogging was to create more of a picture album and diary of our lives. Of course, my family soaked this stuff up, but beyond that, what did I care who read my blog? It was a positive, creative outlet for me and a glimpse back into the kids’ lives for them at some future date.


Community and Interaction:
There’s also this blogging community where bloggers of like-minded subjects follow and comment on each other’s blogs. Interaction happens and this is rewarding, inspirational and educational at times. In the absence of interaction, we look at our stats and if xx people viewed us yet we have no comments, we tend to be okay with that. However if our goal is to gain likes and comments and there are few, this becomes a reason to jump ship.


Stop the Photo Madness!

Stop the Photo Madness!

Social Networks:
I also considered how the rise of new social networking channels played a role. For me, I became an avid Instagram user in Nov 2012 and essentially started posting my stories previously in blog format, with instant, filtered photos that captured an immediate slice of our lives. Did I really need to blog about the entire experience?  It seemed redundant and less compelling. Or maybe I was just getting lazy.


To top it off, my subjects who started as my five year-old son and seven year-old daughter, grew up. Last year at ages seven and nine, they turned into sometimes non-compliant participants who did not always want to have their picture taken or their lives documented in detail. Often times, I would take photos of their silhouette or obscure them in the background, but when they began expressing their concern with my writing/posting, it became clear I needed to back off.


In summary, the causes cited for a blogger’s exit include lack of interesting content, fading fun-factor, disinterest in the topic(s), shortage of time, decreasing rewards and interaction, new and improved social channels for sharing and other focuses. And in general, it takes about three years of blogging for these causes to equal an exit.


I talked with my kids about my (our) blog. I told Ava, As a parent, I have so many concerns about issues, I could refocus my efforts there. She asked me, what do you want to write about? I listed a few topics like super-short school recess, parental slavery to kids’ athletic and extracurricular pursuits, allergies: food and environmental, online and technology norms and behaviors and how to make dinner when your parents are out. She said, Cool, you should write about that then. She would say that.


Going to the Sun Road and Beyond September 2, 2013

Y: YOLO (Travel Adventures)

Posing Outside of the Prince

Posing Outside of the Prince

Well, the kids are officially world travelers now. They have several stamps in their passport books to show for it: Calgary, CAN, Carway, Alberta, CAN/ Babb, MT, Chief Mountain Port of Entry, Alberta, CAN and Roosville, MT/ British Columbia, CAN. All from our recent 9 day vacation to Glacier and Waterton National Parks and Banff, Canada.


What originally started as a drive out West from our home base, Minneapolis, grew to a more full-blown trip when we tallied drive time to Glacier (20 hours, not to mention drive time while in Glacier), considered venturing to the Canadian side of Glacier – Waterton (geographically, it functions as one big park system) and a realized how close Banff, Canada, a destination we’d wanted to check out for quite some time, was in proximity to Glacier.


We settled on flights into Calgary, Canada and booked in February for our mid-August vacation. The kids, Ava (10) and Calvin (8), began the countdown. My husband planned the itinerary based the top activities on our list and created a round-trip route. Calgary, East Glacier (4 nights), West Glacier (2 nights) and Banff (2 nights). We booked two of them in April and the final stay in July. We started the passport process in June. I needed a renewal (after 3 letters from the gov, it finally arrived five days before our departure) and the kids needed their first. It was still quite expensive to get theirs, which are only good for five years.

Hiking at Hidden Lake

Hiking at Hidden Lake


Four hundred and forty-four pictures and nine days worth of vacation is too much to cover in-depth via blog. I do have a 60-page album with select pictures (200) and deets coming from Shutterfly this week and a 72 picture album on Facebook. The photo book was a 20-hour project to complete including gathering pics from the family and details from my daughter’s daily journal on the trip.


Here are the highlights, because who isn’t a fan of top ten lists?:


1. Growing Accustomed to Customs: we put our passports to use six times from US to CAN (flight, Day 1), CAN to MT (Day 1), MT to CAN and back (Day 2), MT to CAN (Day 7) and CAN to US (flight, Day 9). Lines were not long, but questions from Border Patrol could tend to be.


2. Scenery: Treacherous roads with breathtaking views and the construction crews who risk their lives: Looking Glass Road (East side of St. Mary Lake to East Glacier), Going to the Sun Road (through Glacier park, crossing the Continental Divide at Logan Pass). Common site: ambulances.

Zip Lining: Ready, Set, Starfish

Zip Lining: Ready, Set, Starfish


3. Hiking: Hidden Lake, a 6-mile roundtrip hike from Logan Pass, with a dip in a chilly 45 degree Glacial Lake. More moderate hikes/walks included Swiftcurrent and Trail of the Cedars. Difficult hike (my solo venture) in Canada – up Sulphur Mountain.


4. Lakes: Pristine, aquamarine lakes with rocky beaches: Swiftcurrent Lake, Hidden Lake, Lake MacDonald, Linnet/Waterton Lakes in Glacier/Waterton Park system and Bow, Louise and Moraine lakes in Canada.


5. Zip lining in Whitefish at Big Mountain – 2.5 hours and 7 zip lines. With Calvin at 62 lbs, pushing the minimum 60 lbs requirement, he has two adventures of coming up a bit short on his zips. Learned positions: pencil, starfish and landing.


6. Whitewater Rafting on the Flathead River – 3 hours and an 8 mile journey. From Bonecrusher to Freddy Flipstone on Class I&II Rapids, it was a lesson in trust on our 11-person raft.


7. Accommodations: Travelers Rest in East Glacier, a lofty tower with a B&B feel; Apgar Village in West Glacier, rustic cabins in a very young-family friendly locale (park rangers, constellation viewing, canoeing, kayaking, etc); and the Rimrock Resort in Banff, 5-star hotel built into Sulphur Mountain next to Hot Sulphur Springs. Room service!

Chasing Waterfalls - GTTSR

Chasing Waterfalls – GTTSR


8. Eats: Notable: Serranos in East Glacier – authentic Mexican; Belton Chalet, West Glacier – historic and gourmet on the balcony; Prince of Wales Hotel, Windsor Lounge – starving, ordered all three app on the menu, English fare; Magpie&Stump in Banff, a cantina with Build Your Own Nachos – enough to feed a family of four for dinner; and Eden, a 5-star in the Rimrock Hotel, adults only while kids watched Epic back in the hotel room. Not so notable: Eddies in West Glacier/Apgar and Luna’s in East Glacier.


9. Nature: hikes, swimming, campfires – especially our evening campfire on the beach on the shores of Lake MacDonald. S’Mores of course. Not a soul around.


10. Wildlife: bear cub on our hike around Swiftcurrent Lake; moose at the entrance to Kootenay Park, mountain goats (rock-kickers) on our hike to Hidden Lake, cows on Looking Glass Road, and a gray fox in East Glacier, roaming the streets of town.

Lake MacDonald Cruise

Lake MacDonald Cruise


The overall highlight: family-bonding time. Nine days put us to the test. Calvin had a fever days 1-4 and Chad, my husband, the same deal days 4-8, nothing that couldn’t be alleviated with Tylenol, but more naps and downtime was needed. We didn’t always feel like doing the same things and physically the kids couldn’t happily do all of the hiking I would have liked. We compromised and gave everyone a chance to be head decision-maker at some point.


Before, during and after, people would tell us how memorable this trip will be for our kids. They definitely got into the vacation/ tourist groove and have a hunger for more. Ava is on a quest for Paris before her passport expires in five years. Calvin has sights set on Rio for the 2016 games. It’d have to be Prague for me with a side trip to Greece, maybe back to Italy. Take away: There is no shortage of destinations to stamp in our passports!


Our route went from Minneapolis, MN to Calgary, CAN, south to East Glacier, MT, back north for a short afternoon trip into Waterton, CAN, west to West Glacier and Whitefish, MT, 1.5 trips on Going to the Sun Road through Glacier, north through British Columbia and the Kootenay National Forest, NW to Banff and north again on the Icefields Parkway before heading back to Calgary, CAN for our flight out. Amazing scenery and sights! Check out our specific destinations on our map.


The Dogs are Barking April 22, 2013

I: Independence (or lack of…) and U: The Unknown

Dreaming of Dogs: All About Brand Loyalty

Dreaming of Dogs: All About Brand Loyalty

My nine year-old daughter, Ava, has  been dreaming about dogs for a good year now. Off and on. From Yorkies to Pomeranians. Dinner-time quizzes and questionnaires, weekend bursts of chore-activity to show stellar responsibility and more.


After a recent trip to the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley, she is slowly swaying me toward strongly considering getting a dog. Her interest level is so keen right at this moment. Her younger brother, seven year-old Calvin, is not quite as keen. He’s a bit lukewarm, in fact. Ideally, he’d have the same level of interest as her. Or I would, for that matter.


Pitbull Mix

Pitbull Mix

My husband grew up with dogs. I did not. I am definitely a tougher sell.  I think I’m being hit up now because the family thinks the sleepless nights of the toddler years are long forgotten. I’ve had a good solid four years of predictable nightly sleep patterns. Am I ready to be sleepless again?  …maybe let’s forgo puppy stage and get a fully grown dog then? It’s an option, but not one that Ava is too excited about.


Pleeeeease take me home!

Pleeeeease take me home!

For the sake of pursuing this dog-scenario, let’s say we all agree to get a puppy. How to find the right one for our family is the question. The humane society doled out sheets of info in helpful categories based on dog traits and characteristics: Toys, Spaniels, Retrievers, Property Guards, Pointers*, Sled Dogs, Herding Dogs, Scent Hounds, and Sight Hounds.


Then we hit up the library straight after our visit to check out “Everything Dogs,” “Dogs for Dummies, and my personal fave, “Weimaraners*.” Ava is also able to reference recently library books from school: “Yorkshire Terriers Are the Best!” (mid-March) and “Pomeranians Are the Best!” (mid-April) and multiple online sources.


I would say we’re an active family. Active in two senses: 1. we’re on the go (weekends at the grandparents; sports/eve activities, etc) 2. we’re physically active (running, biking, etc). So we need a dog that is fine being on their own for long stretches of time, but when we’re around, they’re eager to be very active and run fast! Leaning toward Pointer here with top as Weimaraner. But would our city lot allow for enough fenced-in outdoor space (which is a requirement for this breed)?


Just try and say no to me!

Just try and say no to me!

We do not need barking. This would rule out Ava’s front-runners in the Toy category including her beloved Yorkie. What about allergies? In this case, Labradoodles are the preferred choice for low-dander coats. However, they fall in the Retriever category which warns “Don’t expect unsupervised freedom in the house until after two years of age.” I’m beginning to believe it’s like finding a mate  — you definitely have your must-haves and the rest of the stuff, you need to overlook!


To dog-lovers out there: What’s your advice on breed, appropriate age for kids to have a dog, puppy vs dog, over-thinking, costs, training, etc? Need to be enlightened so we don’t end up barking up the wrong tree.


— all photos via Instagram and Instapics at instagram.com/jengilhoi


Happy Trails for Cross-Country Skiers March 6, 2013

A: Activities

Selecting Skis

Selecting Skis

An excerpt from the list of questions we pondered as we toyed with the idea of cross-country skiing with the family:


1. Hey, we’re Norwegian, shouldn’t cross-country skiing come natural to us?

2. Don’t we live in a climate ideal for outdoor activities, especially in February/ March?

3. Is it not safer than downhill skiing?

4. Are we not going stir crazy inside with no hope of winter vacation release?

5. Don’t we have some great trails nearby?  … Yeah, that place where Grandma Susie gifted us our membership last year that we only used in the summer: Wood Lake Nature Center


A few Sunday’s ago we answered yes to all of our questions. We considered heading to more serious trails – either Hyland Park Reserve in Bloomington or Highland Park in St. Paul – but landed on Wood Lake due to its simplicity, our novice skills and its proximity to our home.


CC Racers

CC Racers

The sun is brightly shining, the snow cover is decent and the temp is hovering around 30 with no wind.  We dress in our downhill skiing gear and set out for Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield, just a short 5 minutes away. The parking lot is packed at our 12:15 arrival time, only 15 minutes after opening. Everyone has the same idea as we do today. We hop in line to pay and discover it’d be much cheaper to get a full membership than pay for one time rental for a family of four. IF we go at least two times.  (an annual membership including rental for boots, skis and poles is $50.)


We measure for boots, select our sizes and head out to the skis and ski pole racks. We have some loose guidelines – skis should come to mid-palm when you’ve got your arm reaching for the sky. It’s lucky we don’t take someone out getting from equipment rentals to the trail’s start. Next time, I’ll give a lesson in transporting your gear.


We Break For Fruit Snacks

We Break For Fruit Snacks

We spend some time hooking our boots into the skis. A group of three girls from my 9-year-old daughter’s school plus one mom are there for the first time too. Good, we can all look like newborn calves together. At least we’re a one parent to one kid ratio.  We start off with two of the girls from Ava’s school intermingled with our skis.


Quickly we come to a fork in the road. We need to choose the long route (2.6km or 1.6 miles) or the short route (.6km). I can’t imagine how it would be worth it to get all geared up just to do the short route. We veer left. My 7 year-old son, Calvin, scrappy as ever, insists on being in the lead. Ava on the other hand, has a nice stride going and actually looks up once in a while to feel the sunshine and take in some nature.


Wishbone from an Extra Large Turkey

Wishbone from an Extra Large Turkey

The paths are easy to navigate and well-groomed. It’s no problem to pass. At this point, just under a mile in, I notice the Mom and other child in the foursome are not to be seen.  Loosely, it’s the six of us now, making our way around the marshy frozen lake. There are plenty of rosy cheeks, complaints for water (which we did not think to bring) and tired little legs.


We stop for a break at the half-way mark. Then it’s time to complete the circle. We all fall a few times. Sometimes when we’re just standing in place. The finale is the steepest hill of the course where you have to point your skis outward and inch up the hill. The downward coast after is well worth it. We reach the end, unhook our boots and carry in our gear. From start to finish = 1 hour and 25 minutes. We agree we’ll have to trek around again very soon and try to improve our time. Then we decide it would be fitting to head to Pizza Luce for slices and a brownie sundae. All that hard work deserves reward!


A few notes: I learned a few days later that the mom as part of the foursome overseeing the three girls, was a bit concerned. The two girls intermixed with us were supposed to take the .6km short route and instead took the long route. Having taken the short route, she was a bit panicked until she met up with the two older girls.
I’m also happy to say that within 1.5 weeks of the first outing, we made it out for a second spin. This time with water and snacks. We discovered more in the woods (due to comfort with our strides and a finer attention to nature’s detail). For example, we came across a tree sculpture that we adequately named Wishbone.


Winter S’more Variation January 27, 2013

Filed under: Eats — edamomie @ 5:11 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

E: Eats


12 Ingredient Recipe

12 Ingredient Recipe

On a Minnesota January Sunday Snowday, I don’t mind resigning myself to the kitchen for the day. Such is the case today. To lure the kids away from the constant call of electronics, we pulled out our Williams Sonoma The Cookbook for Kids recipe book on Saturday, put our list together and shopped. One recipe in particular looked so alluring sweets-wise, we all agreed we would make the S’more Cupcakes.


Typically thought of as a campfire treat in the summer, I love the idea of making this winter s’more variation. I have always had issues with summer s’mores anyway. My kids think I’m fussy, but the three rectangles of Hersey’s chocolate, two large square graham crackers and one cylinder marshmallow proportions always seem messy and not quite right to me. I do have my own solution for this, but it’s complicated….


Blending at Higher than Medium Speed

Blending at Higher than Medium Speed

Mid-afternoon we dive into this recipe. My 7-year-old, Calvin, wanders into the kitchen lazily to help. He perks up at the spread of ingredients and all the mixing, egg-cracking and batter-licking it will require. My 9-year-old, Ava, is curious, but not enough to leave her favorite t.v. personalities… yet. Calvin and I get started by lining the cupcake papers in the muffin tin and completing Step 1 (see below). We’re already two messy bowls into the recipe. Moving onto Step 2 – the blending – I do the pouring in of ingredients and he lightly guides the mixing bowl as it whirls around. The most fun being the flour mixture as it produces poofy whiteness contrasted by the liquid cocoa/vanilla/buttery mix.


We spoon the mixture into the 12 cupcake holders and have quite a bit left over which goes into a separate dish. Calvin then sprinkles the Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Chips on top (the recipe calls for one-fourth cup/ 1.5 oz – we use about one-half of a 11.5 oz bag). In the oven they go. We wait impatiently – turning the oven light on and off. About 5 minutes out, we make the frosting which is seriously yummy. I’m not even a marshmallow fan and I like it. A lot. Probably because it’s more dense and creamy (versus fluffy) what with three-fourths cup of butter and a half cup of powdered sugar. We don’t even have to crush the graham crackers as the recipe directs (this would actually be fun for kids) because I just bought the graham cracker crumbs instead. The recipe calls for a slight amount and we triple that, but I do only go with half the frosting. The point is, we can be a little creative here, kids!


Cupcakes - Completed and Ready to Eat

Cupcakes – Completed and Ready to Eat

Prematurely, I frost them before they’re cool enough (again, impatience!) and it makes for a mess typical of a summer s’more. If you make them – be sure to wait it out. As we taste and review, we all agree that we enjoy this variation on a s’more by our indoor fireplace very much. Delish!


For the record, the first recorded version of the classic s’more was printed in the Girl Scout handbook in 1927.  Here’s the Williams Sonoma version (pg 102 of The Cookbook for Kids):


Step 1: Prepare the Ingredients
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a small bowl, combine the 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder with 3/4 c very hot water. Stir until blended, then add the 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla. Set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.


Step 2: Blend the Ingredients
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 3/4 c butter on medium until shiny (about 20 sec). Add 1 c granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2 min). Add the two large eggs, one at a time, beating until just blended after each addition.  Beat the flour mixture into the butter-sugar mixture in three batches, alternating with the cocoa mixture in two batches.


Step 3: Bake the Cupcakes
Divide the batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle the chocolate chips (1/4 to 1 c) evenly over the cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (17-20 min). Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely (We didn’t listen to this step!)


Step 4: Frost the Cupcakes
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on med speed, beat 1/2 c butter (room temp) until shiny and smooth (about 2 min). Add 1/2 c powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in the marshmallow creme (one full 7oz jar, just as you buy in the store) until just blended. Spread the frosting on the cupcakes. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over the top (if you’re using whole crackers, place them in a ziploc bag and crush two whole crackers with a rolling pin).


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