Aha Moment!

When you tell someone “You’ve been moody, unapproachable and standoff-ish for the last 3 days,”  what you really mean is “I’ve resented you for the last 3 days and I’ve been moody, unapproachable, and standoff-ish waiting on you to notice.”

That is all.  One day I will see this for what it is without the retrospection.  I may be fully grown, but I’m still growing in wisdom.


My Girl’s 5th Birthday Sleepover Party – with GF rainbow cake

My soon-to-be 5-year-old is 4 going on 14. This girl wanted to have her whole pre-K class over to sleep at our house for her birthday. Instead, I let her invite 4 girls with her “Pajama party – sleepover optional” party. We ended up inviting one more little girl the morning of the party when I saw her mom dropping of her daughter at the girls’ dance recital.

We had 6 girls (5 and under year olds) from 6-9pm in their PJs at my house last Saturday night. Thankfully, only two of the little girls decided to stay over. We decorated sleep masks a la Fancy Nancy style with glitter, glitter glue, googly eyes, lace, ribbons, feathers, and rhinestones.IMG_6545

We had pizza (dominoes has a GF crust option) for dinner.IMG_6543

We had rainbow layered gluten-free cake with cream cheese frosting and Neopolitan ice cream.  IMG_6558rainbow GF cake

They sprayed silly string all over our “target” (a blank poster board I had planned on using for our Family rules, but abandoned when I found art at Bed Bath and Beyond that was premade and good enough.)IMG_6574 They also put on clip-on earrings, makeup, and a feather boa (dollar store find) and had a fashion photo shoot.IMG_6578IMG_6583IMG_6586IMG_6587

All of this was done from 6-8PM, because 5 year olds still have short attention spans. So, I attempted putting in for a movie (trying to reign in the energy and my demanding birthday girl) and ate popcorn while snuggling up with blankets and pillows. movie watchingThey watched Bolt… for about 20 minutes when everybody was off playing in different rooms in the house again. Next, I tried putting on Just Dance on the Wii. We played it with just girls dancing in front of the TV (no remotes) so that “everybody wins.”  This is them dancing to Call Me Maybe.IMG_6609

The parents (of 3 of the girls) came while we were playing Just Dance. After the day party-goers left, my daughter and two of her friends were left to get ready for bed. They brushed their teeth and we washed the makeup off their faces with no problem. I set up the trundle bed in my daughter’s room into a King-size bed and lined them up (no pictures). We read three books (two Fancy Nancy and one Llama Llama book). The guests settled in easily and went to sleep after I had to pull my party girl out of the room for talking too much.

Overall it was a good night. I will likely wait another 2-3 years to have another sleepover. There’s a reason most people don’t have birthday parties for little kids from 6-9pm. These kids are still very dependent on adults. As one mom jokingly asked “is this a trial for running your own daycare?” She was so right. One kid asked for another slice of pizza while everyone else was having popcorn. A few minutes later she came back and said “I ordered pizza.” Another time I had one kid tattling on another kid saying “she is being mean to (another girl) telling her she’s not her best friend anymore.

The sleepover part went surprisingly well. They woke at 7am (much to the chagrin of my sleepy daughter). We had chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon. The girls were picked up by their mom’s at 9am. The sleepover part of the party was definitely the easier part.

Also, I have to thank Dollar Tree for all our treat bag loot, the boas, and the supplies for our sleep mask craft.  That place is so handy for stuff like this.

Here’s the recipe for the Gluten-free Rainbow Cake (adapted from this recipe for the Tiffany Cake by Gluten Free Mom):rainbow GF cake


  • Shortening (to prepare cake pans)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cup milk (use coconut milk for dairy free)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups Gluten-free mama coconut flour blend
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ¼ cups baker’s sugar
  • 16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter (use Earth Balance for dairy free), softened but still cool
  • Blue, Yellow, Green, Red food coloring


Follow the very detailed directions (with pictures) at Gluten Free Mom’s website.  http://glutenfreemom.typepad.com/gluten_free_mom/2013/05/recipe-for-the-tiffany-cake-a-gluten-free-ombre-delight.html  I eyed the color to get the right amounts for this bright cake.  I used a cream cheese frosting, coconut shreds to conceal the  side layers the showed too well under my too soft frosting, and turquoise sixlets to add some extra flair.

The cake was phenomenal!  Seriously, the best tasting cake I’ve ever made (gluten-free or not).

Weekday Breakfast Variety – 10 Quick Breakfast ideas

10 Quick (weekday) breakfast ideas:

1. Toad in the hole (fried egg cooked in slice of bread with fun cut-out shape).

2. Design your own Oatmeal – cook basic oats, top with a pat of butter, and lay out the toppings for them to choose. Toppings can be anything available. We choose from raisins, cinnamon, nuts, granola, chocolate chips, craisins, coconut flakes, breakfast cereal, maple syrup, etc. My favorite is a simple raisin-cinnamon-maple syrup. Don’t forget to top with milk to cool the oatmeal and make it creamy. (You can add diced apple to the boiling water when you cook it to add a little extra flavor.)

3. “Quick eggs” and a sidekick – (scrambled eggs) with a side of breakfast meat and/or fruit.  Try not to overcook the eggs.  Remove from the skillet and on to breakfast plates as soon as they’re done.  They’ll overcook (turn to rubber and dry out) sitting in the hot skillet.

4. Cheesy toast and cinnamon/sugar toast – Top bread with cheese or cinnamon/sugar. Place under broiler until cheese is melted and sugar has crusted. Not the healthiest, but always quick to make and the kids love it.

5. Design your own Yogurt – start with plain yogurt and add any topping of your choice.  We like berries and honey with a sprinkling of cinnamon. 

6. “Your style eggs” and a sidekick – boiled eggs served anyway you want with fruit or a breakfast meat.  “Dinosaur-style” is eating the egg whole and plain with gusto.  “Grandma-style” (named for my mother’s special way) involves mashing the egg finely with butter using the tines of a fork and is topped with salt and pepper.  I like mine classy dinosaur style with lots of pepper and a little salt sprinkled on top. 

Boiled eggs – my cooking style: add cold eggs to cold water and bring to a boil of medium high heat covered.  Once the lid signals a boil (starts rattling), turn off the heat while leaving the pot covered.  Allow the eggs to cool down in the hot water for 12 minutes.  Makes perfect eggs every time.  

7. Banana Bread Toast – Mash a ripe banana, cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg (a couple of swipes across the grater) and a hint of vanilla extract in a bowl.  Spread gooey mess over bread (any bread) slices and place under the broiler (or in the toaster oven.)  Cook until the banana mess on top seems less glossy and more matte and the bread has toasted.  While still warm, top with butter and let it melt.  This tastes JUST LIKE BANANA BREAD!

8. French Toast – Mix 2 eggs with about 1/4 C milk (I just eyeball it) and a couple shakes of cinnamon in a deep bowl.  Add bread and allow to soak a bit, while the skillet is heating up and the coconut oil is melting.  Easy!

9. Leftovers from Sunday – I always make GF pancakes and bacon every Sunday.  And, I always try to make double what we need.  If I’m making waffles, I make at least double so that I can freeze more for later.  It’s easy to reheat pancakes and bacon to serve again on a hard-to-wake-up Monday morning.

10. Dry cereal – our last resort.  Pour it out of the box and add milk.

We also like to add yogurt, berries, melon when we have it.  We also sometimes add kefir or a fruit/veggie smoothie when we have lots of produce on hand. 

I’m looking for more quick breakfast ideas that don’t come out of a box or bag.  These are my go-to ideas to mix things up.  I should start planning these things so the kids know what to expect.

Disclaimer:  Parts of our family eat gluten-free (non-celiacs).  This menu was designed to be adaptable to both gluten and non-gluten diets with simple substitutions, i.e. GF bread for regular, GF oats for regular quick oats, etc.  Also “breakfast meats” are not limited to bacon, ham or sausage – in a pinch, we’ve substituted pepperoni, sliced turkey, and kosher/GF hot dogs. 

Easter Pictures – Sparkman family

Sisters I got the opportunity to take pictures of my friend and her beautiful family yesterday.  I also got the chance to take advantage of some great (albeit windy) sunny light.  Photographing two young girls with such adventurous spirits was challenging, but lots of fun, too.  I feel these pictures really show off their budding personalities and give us a glimpse into the future women they will become.

Xandra and her big sister

Monte and X

Sabrina and JS

JS silly face

Sabrina and the girls

Girls walkingXandraJS hug sparkmanSparkman family color

B&W2 sparkman family

My African Violet

I have an African Violet houseplant in my master bathroom.  (Like the beautiful one shown above except not as healthy.)  It has the tell-tale green leafs with purple undersides. However, this plant hasn’t bloomed in a year.  It gets watered maybe once a month if you don’t count the humidity generated from a few hot and steamy showers.   I have seriously neglected this plant.  Yet, it still has green leaves.  No blooms, but still alive. 

I have decided to nurture this plant back to health.  I want to see purple blossoms on this.  And, I want it to blossum in the bathroom.  Sure, I could keep it alive by the window next to the kitchen sink with the aloe plant and that green/pink leafed plant that always wilts when it needs water.  Those plants have it easy – sharing a glass of tap water with me, getting a sip while I wait for the hot water to come while doing dishes.   This plant (“the easiest houseplant ever”) will survive in my master suite.  And, I will propogate it.  I will have an African Violet family living with me. 

I’ve already fertilized with Osmicote (sp?).  The first bit of water ran right through the pot – it was THAT dry.  It’s starting to soak in.  I will post a picture here when I get it back to blooming and when it starts having “babies.”

I found a few websites to keep me on track.  African Violet care websites:

http://www.gardenguides.com/675-african-violets.html  Propogating AVs are easy, just a leaf and stem is required.  A re-potting is very much needed now and every 6-months.

http://www.theplantexpert.com/africanviolets/frames.html  This one says that AVs love humidity and dream of living in the Amazon rainforest.  Another reason the bathroom is the perfect place. 🙂 

http://www.uri.edu/ce/factsheets/sheets/africanviolet.html  This site goes into depth about diseases affecting AVs.  It also gives more detail about pasteurizing potting soil.  It sounds like it may be too much work for my little AV hobby.