“Desserts is ‘stressed’ spelled backwards”

I am abundantly blessed.

Truly and beyond measure.

But when this world throws me curves, as it sometimes does, I find my comfort in baking. I could probably pay a therapist to analyze this, but they’d just tell me what I already know: its about control and “nesting”. It’s fairly easy to bend dough to my will. And nothing is more “home-y”  to me than the smell of something buttery and sugary reaching it’s delicious destiny in my oven.  So hold the therapist, please. I’d rather spend that money on chocolate chips. To catch you up:

My littlest is a vivacious, moxified, contagiously smiling little pistol.  But this week more than her giggles have been contagious.

“Strep”.

It’s not what any momma wants to hear.  Ever.  Beyond having to dole out the “no one drinks from Babygirl’s cup OR shares a spoon with her!” admonitions for the brothers, and keeping all the medicine dosing straight, I really just hate that it makes my usually sassy little girl feel crummy. Fever and chills, sore throats and body ache. Ugh.. my poor baby. I’m grateful to have a daughter who loves reading and can easily get lost in a book. It made the 3 days home from school much easier on all of us.  I’m also grateful that she was feeling well enough to be begging to get back to class today~ kudos to Mrs. Jenkins for making learning so fun!

A week ago we got some seriously scary news about my Momma’s health. My brother and sisters and I are hopeful, and encouraged, but each of us has an unfortunate firsthand knowledge of this path and its ugly realities. It will require a fight. But know this: if anyone will face it with beauty, and calm, and pure grace, it is my Mother.  My youngest’s moxie comes by way of her. I am certain of it.

After just 6 months in our apartment, we are on the move again. This comes with the challenges of organizing and repacking and unpacking and organizing, and meetings, and inspections, and negotiations, but also the incredible blessing of more room and the perfect place for our family. I am so grateful to be gaining a new, larger kitchen to feed our crew of littles.  We number 9 when everyone is home. Can you say “double oven”?  And my Firefighter assures me that I will never again have to pack and move if I don’t want to. I love that guy.

Speaking of the Firefighter… He received his base transfer from Joint Base Langley-Eustis to Grissom ARB, and were able to whittle down our distance apart from 800mi to just 86mi.  Did I mention that I really love my fella?

Now for goodies.  Here’s what stress spawned this week:

Nothing bad ever started this way… just saying.

candy, chunks, AND chips choco chunk dough

warm, chewy goooey deliciousness.  “Cooky Therapy”… that’s what it is. chewy choco chunk cooky

See? Feeling better already. Cookies as effective as meds… someone should look into it. cooky therapy

and just a reminder: always practice fire safety and keep your firefighter nearby ;) fire safety at SweetGrubs

Sweetest Regards,

~ Jenny

Mi Vida Loca

Tunes and baking.

It’s what gets me through.

There is ALWAYS music in the SweetGrubs kitchen because, well, it’s a necessary thing to ‘shake your sugar’ while you’re baking.  Just is.  Like sprinkles on babycakes, cheese and macaroni, or cute on a baby.  It just happens, and its good, so don’t fight it.  This week, featured on the ever repeating soundtrack in my head is “Mi Vida Loca” by the lovely Pam Tillis.  Sums up the crazy in my life lately.

Hospitals.

Graduation.

Finding new digs.

Moving.

Found dogs.

Crazy.  But I thrive on a challenge.  And I am truly flattered that God thinks I am capable of handling all that he sends my way.  I sometimes wish I had the same confidence in me :)  So I bake when I’m stressed.  And we dance and sing in the kitchen. It’s my ‘consistent’, my ‘never-changing’, my ‘constant’, my ‘catharsis’.  And it makes me smile.  There is a sense of completion in baking.  I may not be able to control some of the events of my life, but I can control the rise and texture of a yeasty cinnamon roll dough.  I can determine the outcome on a batch of muffins bursting with fresh berries, or I can bend a dollop of buttercream to my will.  It may sound crazy, but sometimes small, happy victories are all you’ve got.  There are two things that I’ve learned that emphatically ring true:  “worry changes nothing”, and “…don’t sweat the small stuff.”  I have a friend who, when upset, steps back from the situation and takes a backward count from 10 or 100 depending on her stress level.  I think that’s brilliant.  But I take it a step further.  When I do my backward count, I count my blessings.  It doesn’t take long for me to stop feeling defeated and realize that I am so abundantly blessed <3

Now on to the goodies :)

this happened on a random Wednesday:

Chunks, chips and m&m'smonster cookies

 

Yes. Chips, chunks, AND m&m’s. If you’re gonna go, go big, right?

Then the graduation parties started.  CONGRATULATIONS to the Class of 2013!

Mountain Dew babycakes

 

These were Mountain Dew flavored.  The teens LOVED THEM!!!

Then we threw in a birthday party for the beautiful, lively Miss Rylie who is currently obsessed with Essie’s Mint CandyApple nail polish. Happy 11th, Rylie!

Essie Mint babycakes

 

“Nailed” the color, don’t you think? (sorry for the pun, couldn’t resist…)

And then my oldest had his grad party.

Merrick's Grad

 

Four of my blessings in one photo. That’s him in the back .  The uber-tall, handsome fella. He’s graduating with High Honors and is going to be a History teacher.  I am one proud momma.

Don’t blink.

That’s all I can say with out becoming a puddle.

I made these yummies especially for him.

Graduation babycakesPeanut Butter Brownie Bombs

 

 

What can I say?

“…If you’re coming with me you need nerves of steel
‘Cause I take corners on two wheels
It’s a never-ending circus ride
The faint of heart need not apply…”

 

Mi Vida Loca… it’s like cornering at Indy for this girl and I’m lovin’ it. :)

Sweetest Regards,

~Jenny

 

 

Brownies!

It was an exciting week in our household.  My oldest got a long awaited college acceptance letter in the mail (so proud of my kid. Watch for the details of that party in a future post), and my littlest bridged from Daisy to Brownie in her Girl Scout troop.

I am whole-heartedly in love with Girl Scouts.  And my daughter is blessed with some of the best leaders. These are ladies- mommas, grandmas, aunts, big sisters- who give not only their time for twice monthly meetings, but give countless hours behind the scenes.  These angels plan crafts, tote girls to camp, man weekend cookie booths, soothe ouchies (both emotional hurts and regular boo-boos), organize community volunteer work, guide the girls on their journey, and are far more stellar role models than any pre-teen, microphone-wielding popstar. They have families and jobs and countless obligations of their own, and yet they generously volunteer their time for no more payment than a hug or a smile or a “thank you”.  They are amazing.  They ROCK.  It’s that simple.

The bridging ceremony is an end of year celebration for the whole troop and especially the girls who are moving up from their group to the next.  From Daisies to Brownies, Brownies to Juniors and so on.The girls are recognized for their accomplishments during the past year, and then are officially welcomed into the next level of Girl Scouts. There is a symbolic event where the girls share a moment with their current leaders, step across the bridge and are greeted by the women who will lead them on their next journey with Girl Scouts.

This is my little one, who was very, VERY excited about becoming a Brownie, taking her walk across the bridge.

Bridging

 

And there’s a meal, of course.  The families, who have come to know each other through their girls, bring a dish to share, break bread together and celebrate all the troop has accomplished during the year. We signed up to bring a dessert.  My little one insisted I make Brownie bombs since she was moving from Daisy to Brownie.  I gladly agreed, of course. How could I not? She’s pretty stinkin’ cute after all.

I  wanted something fun.  Something the kiddos would love. I decided on Oreo-bottomed, Dirt & Worm brownie bombs. They start like this:

IMG_1713

Then you add the thick fudgey brownie batter on top. They get a dollop of chocolate buttercream, some crushed Oreo “dirt” and a supersour gummie worm on top.

IMG_1723

 

They were a big hit. And I think that worm right there knows he’s about to meet his demise.

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Could be worse. Could’ve been a hook.

There is a song that the girls sing at the end of each meeting that I am particularly fond of.

“Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.

A circle is round,
it has no end.
That’s how long,
I will be your friend.”

Who couldn’t use more silver and gold?

With Sweetest Regards

~Jenny

 

Contest Winner!

and the winner is….. Ms. Grace Rowland!

The whole thing started a week ago.

I was in the tank (aka: my car), radio playing, talking to the teen on the way to school when the news broke in with the local crime report.  Fort Wayne isn’t a huge city.  Not tiny either, by any means.  We have our share of “ugly”. But for some reason, paired with the perfectness that is a discussion with the teen on ANY subject (please… how many of you thought your parents were even half human at the all-knowing age of 17?), the report rubbed me the wrong way.  Murders, theft, domestics… just gross.  All of it.  Enough to make my stomach turn. And enough to make you question the direction of the human race.  If you lived out of state, or even out of town, and heard that report, you’d probably think, “I am NEVER visiting there…EVER”.

But see, I know better.

I know the Fort is filled with lovely people.  People who look out for each other.  People who take the time to smile, to lend a helping hand, to make someone’s day a little easier. And thus, a FB contest was born.  “Do Good, Get Goodies”. The rules were simple: post a good deed in the comment section at https://www.facebook.com/Sweetgrubs telling me of any small thing you had done that day to make someone’s life a bit sweeter.  And I decided a day of goodness wasn’t good enough, so I let the contest run all week.  The entries I got were AMAZING.  Re-affirming. Gracious. Thoughtful. They ranged from helping elderly neighbors with yard work (and that one from a teen- this next generation ROCKS!), to knitting prayer shawls, to helping at an animal shelter, to everyday tasks like making a favorite dinner for a loved one.  I picked the winner randomly and it was this:

  • Grace E Rowland Watch my nephews and give them sweets
  • April 30 at 8:25am

Smiles.

Complete smiles.  Do you know why?  Because not only was Grace making her nephews’ day sweeter by spending time with them, but they most likely did the same for her.  Total Win/Win.  And Grace winning the contest made  my day sweeter because Grace is momma to one of the world’s cutest babies on Earth and I would get to see that gorgeous little one with the long eyelashes and chubby baby feet when I dropped off the goodies.

The winner of the contest got to choose a dozen goodies of their favorite flavor.  I would have a hard time choosing.  Gracie almost picked something deliciously, puckerabley lemon, ( a wonderful choice, btw) but at the last minute chose….. Peanut Butter Brownie Bombs!  These are probably my most requested item.  They start with a thick fudgey brownie babycake dotted with chocolate chips.  As soon as these babies come out of the oven, I nudge a full size peanut butter cup into the top so it can get all melty.  Once they’ve cooled, I add a swirl of rich peanut butter buttercream, drizzle on some fudge sauce, add some sprinkles, and top off the whole decadent dream with a mini Reese’s cup.  They are cuh-razy good!

I have pics to prove it ;)

nothing bad ever starts this way...

nothing bad ever starts this way…

 

oh... yeah :)

oh… yeah :)

 

yes, please :)

yes, please :)

 

seriously... got milk?

seriously… got milk?

Wow.  On that last one you can see how the pb cup is still all melty and delicious. {…drool..} But I don’t want the goodness to end here.  I would love to hear more about what you, and those you know, young and old and in-between, are doing to make someone’s life sweeter.  Share your good deeds- BIG or small- and I’ll share them in an upcoming post.

As my Southern friends would say, “C’mon over here and gimme some sugar!”

With Sweetest Regards,

~Jenny

 

Tickled Pink

Miss Morgan’s 7th Birthday

 

I can’t possibly express to you my excitement when my best-girlfriend, Niki, asked me to make the goodies for her youngest’s birthday celebration.  Little Miss Morgan is a joyful, smiling, inquisitive, pink-loving, outspoken pistol of a sweetheart.  I love her like my own.  Truly. What an honor to be asked to bake the centerpiece for her special day. As soon as her Momma shared the news with me that little Miss had never, ever had a big traditional birthday cake, I knew I had to create a sweet she would never forget. Challenge gleefully accepted.  After gathering the essential details about the birthday girl’s wishes and the event~ favorite flavors (chocolate), colors (did I mention: lots of girly pink?), and the theme (also, pink… seriously love this kid!)~ I set about planning the perfect, eye-popping sweet confection. Morgan started her celebration with a crafting party at Michael’s Arts & Crafts where the guests painted unfinished wooden frames in their favorite colors and then decorated them with all sorts of jewels and bobbles and glitter.  This is one creative bunch~ every frame was a beautiful and unique masterpiece. Then friends and family headed back to the house for a wonderful laidback party, lots of presents, and the big “unveiling” of the cake.

By the guest of honor’s request, the cake HAD to be chocolate. A decadent tower of 3 slightly diminutive, fudgey layers of rich chocolate cake. And the frosting. Oh my word. Layers upon layers of whipped girly-pink, white chocolate buttercream ribbons sprinkled with edible iridescent fairy dust and pastel jimmies.

Accompanying this gem were two toned baby-cakes, crafted from the same moist chocolate cake and a classic vanilla bean version, topped with creamy swirls of cookies-n-cream frosting dusted with hot pink edible glitter. Colorful butterflies and dragonflies and bumblebees in jewel tones perched prettily on top of these.

On her presentation cake, I chose to do a bunting topper.  I’ve been seeing them all over Pinterest and I love the feminine, festive look they lend, and how they can make a cake a celebration of its own.  I used pink and black swirled paper to match the babycake liners and hot pink, glitter stickers to spell out her name.

I was very pleased with the outcome. Even more pleased that the birthday girl smiled all day long.  Thank you to Niki and Morgan and family for including SweetGrubs in your celebration!

morgansbday

Happy, happy 7th birthday, Morgan! and many sweet blessings in the coming year!

With Sweetest Regards

~Jenny

 

May Day

Yesterday in the Fort it was absolutely gorgeous.  Not just “nice” or ” pretty” or moderately “fabulous”.  It was absolutely rootin’tootin’ GORGEOUS.  It’s true what they say about weather in the Fort: if you don’t like it, just wait… it’ll change.  We get teased with warm temps for a day or so and then its back to freezing rain, overcast skies and wind that will literally chill you to the bone. Not sure this southern girl will ever get used to these gloomy, lingering winters.  But I digress. Yesterday, May 1st, was sunny and warm, with brilliantly clear blue skies dotted with cottontail clouds.  The kind of day that makes you roll down your windows, crank the radio, stow your cardigan in the backseat, and dig your sandals out of the back of the closet. A day for homemade dishliquid bubbles, grape popsicles, and walking the kids to school. A day for ponytails and sundresses.

And that’s how the inspiration for these little beauties hit.

IMG_1090

Nothing feels more like spring to me than the first day warm enough to slip into my favorite sundress, slide on my strappy sandals, and show off a raspberry pink pedi. You see, I am a fan of all things pink. And this season, I am delighted to see it everywhere.  From the bold, brave shades of 80′s inspired neon accessories, to the delicate baby pinks of  garden impatiens.   For my babycakes, I decided on a mash-up of the two.  I started with a vanilla latte cake batter and then topped it with a rich traditional vanilla buttercream. The frosting technique is a variation on the popular hydrangea icing and the color is a daring raspberry pink. I think pearls and glitter (both edible) were the perfect finishing touch for these dainty treats, don’t you?

Happy May Day and sweet blessings to you!

~Jenny