Friday, August 27, 2010

Cheesy Lunchbox Muffins

I found this recipe from The Sneaky Chef by: Missy Chase Lapine and it's a great way to sneak in carrot and sweet potato as well as some apple into your child's diet!

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vege or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup orange puree
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced cooked ham, turkey, salami or bologna if desired (I didn't add it since I typically spread peanut butter on his muffins for protein)
  1. Preheat oven to 375, line muffin tin with paper liners (if used, I just sprayed them)
  2. In mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  3. In another mixing bowl whisk together eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce, orange puree, cheese and optional meat. 
  4. Fold dry ingredients into the wet, mixing until the flour is just moistened - don't overmix
  5. Fill each muffin cup almost to the top, spooning about 1/4 cup batter into each 
  6. Bake 25-27 minutes until tops are golden brown
  7. Serve warm or wrap and store in refrigerator (for up to 3 days) or freezer (for up to 3 months)
  8. Defrost and place in lunchbox with an ice pack

    Kye loves them and I think they will be SO useful for when Kye has a little lunchbox to take to school. I like that I'll be able to offer him variety other than just pbj and that he'll be eating something healthy without even realizing it!

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Purple Puree

    This is used for all recipes that call for "purple puree" it is from the cookbook The Sneaky Chef by: Missy Chase Lapine.

    • 3 cups raw baby spinach leaves
    • 1 1/2 cups blueberries
    • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
    • 1-2 tablespoons water
    1. Fill bowl of food processor with spinach, blueberries, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of water
    2. Puree on high until as smooth as possible. If needed, use another tablespoon of water to smooth-out puree
    3. This recipe makes about 2 cups of puree; double if you want to store more. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days or you can freeze 1/4 cup portions sealed in plastic bags (this is what I did).  


    This is the grossed looking puree of all! While it's gross looking, it was the easiest to prepare and I think it's one of the healthiest ones since it has both blueberries and spinach!

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Dip

    This is a GREAT one for a party or when having company over for dinner. If I make it for just my little family we'll eat it as our entire meal. It's super easy to make and always a crowd pleaser :)

    • 1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts
    • 1 pkg (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
    • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
    • 3/4 cup light mayonnaise
    • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1. Preheat oven to 350
    2. Drain and finely chop artichoke hearts
    3. Mix all ingredients together in a 9 inch quiche dish or pie plate
    4. Bake 20 min
    5. Serve with crackers or veges
    • We buy a loaf of French bread from the bakery at whatever grocery store we're at and I will cut it up into pieces and stick it in the oven for the last 5-10 min that the dip is in so it gets a little crispy!
    I like that I can make this in advance when we have company and just keep it in the fridge until I need to heat it. I've never had anyone not like it and it's a good way to get Zach to eat some spinach :)

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Orange Puree

    This puree is used in all recipes that call for an "orange" puree. It's a blend of carrots and sweet potatoes and is from the cookbook The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine.

    • 1 medium sweet potato (or yam) peeled and roughly chopped
    • 3 medium to large carrots, peeled and sliced into thick chunks
    • 2-3 tablespoons of water
    1. In a medium pot, cover carrots and potatoes with cold water and boil for 20 min until very tender (especially the carrots). 
    2. Drain the carrots and potatoes and put in bowl of food processor with two tablespoons of water.
    3. Puree on high until smooth. No chunks or pieces of carrot or potato should remain.
    This makes about 2 cups of puree. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or you can freeze 1/4 cup portions in sealed plastic bags (that's what I did!).

    White Puree

    This puree is used in all recipes that call for the "white" puree. I also call it the "cauliflower puree." This recipe is from the Sneaky Chef by: Missy Chase Lapine.

    • 2 cups cauliflower florets (I used frozen)
    • 1-2 medium zucchini, peeled and coarsely chopped
    • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (I used some from a bottle)
    • 1-2 tablespoons water, if needed
    1.  On the stovetop, pour about 2 inches of water into a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Put a vegetable steamer basket into the pot, add the cauliflower, and steam for about 10 minutes until tender, drain. 
    2. OR: to prepare in microwave (this is what I did) place cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl, cover it with water, and microwave on high for 8-10 minutes until very tender. Drain.
    3. Meanwhile, place the raw peeled zucchini with the lemon juice in your food processor (I don't have one so I used a blender) and pulse a few times. Next add the cooked cauliflower and 1 tablespoon of water to the food processor (work in batches if needed) and puree on high until smooth. Stop occasionally to push the contents to the bottom. If necessary, use another tablespoon of water make a smooth puree, but the less water, the better.
    4. This recipe makes about 2 cups of puree; double if you want to store more. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days or you can freeze 1/4 cup portions sealed in plastic bags (this is what I did). 

    I think this will probably be the most useful puree out of them all. It's white so it's easy to sneak into foods and I've heard that cauliflower is basically tasteless. I plan on using it not only in the recipes that call for it but also in mashed potatoes!


    I found this recipe online out of the cookbook The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine. It is a great summer treat that sneaks in both carrots and sweet potatoes!

    • 1/2 cup Mott's Medleys Juice, Tropical Flavor
    • 1/4 cup Orange Puree
    • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • rainbow sprinkles, optional (I didn't use them, my child isn't old enough to notice!)
    1. Blend ingredients except sprinkles together in blender until smooth. Drop a few spinkles (if desired) into each popsicle mold and then pour equal amounts of the mixture in each. Insert stick and freeze for at least 3 hours. (I have that popsicle making set of 4 molds and it fit perfectly!) 
    I haven't had Kye try this yet as I just haven't been home around snack time but I'm sure he will like it! Especially since he's teething right now and anything cold always helps :)

      Green Puree

      This is taken from The Sneaky Chef by: Missy Chase Lapine I don't have her cookbook but I found the recipe online :)

      • 2 cups raw baby spinach leaves (or 1 cup frozen, which is what I did)
      • 2 cups broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
      • 1 cup sweet green peas (frozen)
      • 2-3 tablespoons of water
      1. If using raw spinach, thoroughly wash it, even if package says "prewashed"
      2. To prepare on stovetop, pour about 2 inches of water into a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Put a vegtable steamer basket into the pot, add the spinach and broccoli, and steam for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the frozen peas to the basket for the last 2 minutes of steaming. Drain.
      3. OR to prepare in microwave (which is what I did, of course) place the broccoli and spinach in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with water, and microwave on high for 8-10 minutes, until very tender. Add peas for last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain.
      4. Place the vegetables in the bowl of your food processor along with 2 tablespoons of water. Puree on high until as smooth as possible. Stop occasionally to push the contents to the bottom. If necessary, use another tablespoon of water to smooth out the puree.
      This makes about 2 cups of puree. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or you can freeze 1/4 cup portions in sealed plastic bags (that's what I did!).

      Thursday, June 10, 2010

      Apple Breakfast Bars

      I got this recipe from Wholesome Toddler Foods and it's really great! It "sneaks in" healthy nuts, grains, and plenty of fruits! If you use Mott's Meadley's Juice then you're also getting some vegetables in there too!

      • 1 1/2 cups quick rolled oats
      • 1/4 cup flour (whole wheat if you have it, I didn't)
      • 2/3 cup dates, chopped
      • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
      • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
      • 1/4 cup orange juice (I didn't have orange juice so I used apple...I think they would have stuck together better if I'd had the orange. And next time I plan on using Mott's Meadley's to get in some vegetable!)
      • 1 1/2 cups raw apples, shredded
      1.  Preheat oven to 375
      2. Combine all ingredients, let stand 10 minutes
      3. Press mix into an 8x8 baking dish and bake until lightly browned, about 25 minutes..
      4. Cut into bars while warm and serve hot for breakfast or a snack 
      5. Freezes well. I put in a freezer safe bag and get one out when needed for a snack and heat in microwave for 25 seconds.
      This is a Kye favorite food! Of course, I wish there was a vegetable in there somehow (but the Mott's adds it so I feel better about it!) but again it makes for a nutritious snack. I have offered it at breakfast but since our normal breakfast uses vegetables I typically keep these for snack time. The dates were TOUGH to chop up and I may try to find some already chopped or shredded next time if they make such a thing. Overall though it's a pretty easy recipe and they hold up VERY well when frozen!

      Snack Cracker Spread

      This is a GREAT snack food! Super simple, quick, and nutritious. As well as filling enough to get him through until dinner! It's great to give some extra grains and fruit into the diet.

      • Graham crackers or salt free saltine crackers
      • Applesauce or any fruit puree
      • Cinnamon
      • Raisins
      • Wheat Germ
      1. Mix cinnamon, wheat germ and raisins into the applesauce or fruit puree. Spread over the crackers. 
      2. Other than crackers you could also use pita bread slices or plain rice cakes
         Kye loves these! I love them because they are so easy to prepare and he really enjoys them too. Of course he eats off all the toppings first then eats the cracker but that's fine! I wish there was a way to make it with vegetables as Kye will eat fruit all day long but I still feel like this is a healthy snack and better than a lot of the alternatives out there.

        Frozen Ban-Ola

         This one looks very gross but it's a big hit for snack time! I got this recipe from Wholesome Toddler Foods and it is a great way to get your toddler to eat fruit, dairy, and some healthy grains!

        • 1 medium banana, peeled
        • 1/2 cup crushed granola
        • plain or vanilla yogurt (blueberry works well too)
        1. Dip banana in your choice of yogurt
        2. Roll banana in crushed granola
        3. Place in freezer bag and freeze. To thaw just put out for a couple of minutes until soft enough to cut.
          I used blueberry yogurt and I did 1/3 of a banana as a serving as the bananas I bought were rather large. I think I made about 9 servings of it and freezed them. They thaw very quickly so it's a good quick snack food. The cold is great for a teething toddler as well! And it's a very easy finger food for him. He loves this snack but I only give it to him on days where he doesn't eat a lot of other dairy. He eats banana each morning and I don't like to overdue it on the banana or on the dairy as he's a milk lover!

          Sweet Potato Fries

          I got this recipe from Wholesome Toddler Food and use it all the time. I know it's probably a "no brainer" recipe to most people but I do best when given instructions so I thought I'd provide them in case someone out there is like me and needs a recipe to follow :)
          1.  Preheat oven to 400
          2. scrub sweet potatoes (they say 6 medium/large ones but I only use 1 or 2) clean and/or peel them if you don't think your child can handle the skins (Kye likes them so I leave them)
          3. Cut into sizes that will suit your need or cut into strips that you can cut down later (I do the strips)
          4. In a large bowl put 1/4 cup of olive oil and add cinnamon, ginger, brown sugar etc (I put both cinnamon and brown sugar)
          5. Toss the cut up sweet potatoes into the bowl and stir so they are drenched in the olive oil mix.
          6. Dump onto a baking sheet, drizzle remaining olive oil over potatoes on sheet 
          7. Stir and swirl potatoes on baking sheet before placing in oven
          8. bake 30-45 minutes or until tender (I do around 30)
          The only thing I've changed about this is the whole bowl thing. Why mix it in a bowl then pour it on the baking sheet? I just do it all right on the baking sheet to save time and having the hassle of cleaning the bowl haha!

          Kye adores sweet potatoes and often eats them baked from the microwave. I like to make the fries as a nice variety to the same old thing and he enjoys them too. I wouldn't say he likes them more or less than the baked version but Zach said he liked them in the fry version so I guess that's a plus in that direction!

          Magic Breakfast

          Growing up as a picky eater my mom found her own ways to sneak nutrition into my diet by making "Magic Malts." I'm still to this day not exactly sure what was in them but I know it included Minute Maid OJ, bananas, and green beans...but hey we drank 'em!

          My version of a "Magic Malt" comes in the form of oatmeal. Kye started out eating cereal like most babies and he still eats oatmeal just about every morning. He loves it and it's good for him! I've started adding things to it to make it more nutritious (and delicious?!?) and it "sneaks" in two servings of green vegetable, 2 servings of grains, and 2 servings of fruit! Here's a picture of his typical breakfast:
          Ready to hear what it includes?
          • 1/4 cup Gerber oatmeal
          • 1/4 cup water
          • 1/3-1/4 container of Gerber stage 2 green vegetable (either peas or green beans)
          • small my size handful of frozen peas
          I heat the first four ingredients in the microwave for 25 seconds then stir and add:
          • 1/4-1/3 of a banana
          • 1 prune
          • pieces of either apple, peach, or pear
          Sound good? Kye LOVES it!!!  I sometimes will add Cheerios to the mix too if it's too runny. And ANY fresh fruit will work if I don't have apples, peaches or pears! Got any ideas of other goodies to add???

          Sunday, June 6, 2010

          Carrot and Spinach Brownies

          This recipe comes from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld and sneaks carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, peas and spinach into chocolate brownies!

          • nonstick cooking spray
          • 3 oz semi-sweet chocolate (I used semi-sweet choc chips)
          • 1/2 cup carrot puree ("orange")
          • 1/2 cup spinach puree ("green")
          • 1/2 cup brown sugar firmly packed
          • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
          • 2 tablespoons butter
          • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
          • 2 large egg whites
          • 3/4cup all purpose flour
          • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
          • 1/2 teaspoon salt

          1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat an 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray.
          2. Melt the chocolate in a double broiler or over a very low flame (I just microwaved it!)
          3. In a large bowl, combine the melted chocolate, vegetable purees, sugar, cocoa powder, margarine and vanilla and whisk until smooth and creamy (1-2 min)
          4. Whisk in egg whites. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt with a wooden spoon.
          5. Pour the batter into the pan and bake 35-40 minutes. Cool COMPLETELY in pan before cutting into bars. (to freeze I wrapped each bar in cling wrap then put in a freezer safe bag, to thaw I microwave for about 20 seconds)
          • TIP: I read that it's very important not to eat any of them until they are completely cooled as you'll be able to taste the spinach!
          • Toddler: Kye LOVES these! He liked them right away and I give him 1/2 a bar as a dessert. I love that it counts as a dessert but is much healthier than his typical dessert (which is a cracker). 
          • Adult: Both Zach and I tried these. I thought they were a bit dry but I couldn't tell it was "healthy" at all. Zach said it tasted like a health food bar so while it wasn't gross it surely couldn't replace a regular brownie in his book!

          Peanut Butter and Banana Muffins

          This is a recipe that "sneaks in" either carrots and sweet potatoes or cauliflower and zucchini! From Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld.

          • nonstick cooking spray
          • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
          • 1/2 cup natural-style peanut butter (I used Jif)
          • 1/2 cup pureed carrot ("orange") or pureed cauliflower ("white")
          • 1/2 cup mashed banana (I used 1 1/2 bananas to get 1/2 cup mashed)
          • 1 large egg white
          • 1 cup whole wheat flour (all I had was white)
          • 1 teaspoon baking powder
          • 1 teaspoon baking soda
          • 1/2 teaspoon salt
          1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray muffin pan with nonstick spray.
          2. Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, peanut butter, vegetable puree of your choice (I used cauliflower as Kye loves orange veges so I don't need to sneak those in!), banana, and egg in a large mixing bowl (a large wooden spoon is suggested)
          3. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and combine with a whisk
          4. Fold the dry mix into the wet mix and combine just until lumpy. Don't over mix as it's a muffin recipe and you want them lumpy.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup of brown sugar and stir once or twice (this put s a crust on top of the muffins)
          5. Divide the batter between the muffins. Cook until lightly brown and a toothpick comes out clean (15-20 min)
          6. Store at room temperature up to two days, freeze up to a month (to freeze I wrapped individually in cling wrap then put in a freezer bag, to thaw I heat in the microwave for 25 seconds)

          • Toddler: At first he wouldn't try it. But that's typical for a toddler. So I smeared some peanut butter on the pieces and he went to town. He LOVES these now and I typically will give him 1/2 of one with lunch.
          • Adult: Neither Zach or I like bananas and Zach said it smells very banana-ish. I didn't completely mash up all the bananas either so you can still see chunks of them so I haven't tried them. The next batch I plan on mashing up the bananas better and then I'll test one and see what I think, I doubt Zach will try it though as he really loathes bananas. This will probably be a Kye-only food!

          Sunday, May 2, 2010

          Name Your Own Hotel Price

          Zach and I recently used Priceline's Name Your Own Price program and I had to pass along the details! We LOVED our experience with it and got the opportunity to stay in a 3 star hotel room that was SO SO much nicer than the 2 star one we had originally booked for almost the same price! I wanted to use it one more time before blogging about it and Zach did it again recently so we know a little more about the program.

          THE DEAL
          You get to name your own price for a hotel and if they accept your bid then you get the hotel room for that price! We were able to stay at the Embassy Suites in Greenville, SC for $40 a night and when we got there the rooms were actually going for $219 a night!!!

          HOW IT WORKS
          Visit, click on the "hotels" tab then the "name your own price" icon. You're able to enter in the city, dates, and number of rooms. The next screen then helps you narrow your location to a specific region and allows you to select the star level for your hotel.

          After that info is entered then it comes the "trickier" part. You then enter in the price you are willing to pay for the star level you selected in the area you selected. My brother called me and had gotten the deal for the Embassy Suites so we just entered the same price he did ($40) and were lucky enough to get the same hotel!!! You can enter ANY price you want but if it's too low then the website will warn you that your most likely not going to get one for that price.

          THE PROS
's pretty obvious that you get to get an AWESOME hotel for WAY cheaper than you'd normally be able to get it! When we booked the room in SC we actually had already checked all the hotel deal websites and booked the cheapest room we could find. It was a Knights Inn (reallly crappy) for $34 a night. We paid $6 more a night for a MUCH nicer room!!! Totally worth it :) On top of getting a great deal the whole experience gives you a rush. It's super exciting to enter a price and then be surprised at where you get to stay!!! And knowing that the hotel is guaranteed to be the star level you chose means you know you'll be somewhere nice.

          THE CATCH
          While it's super fun and a great deal there are downsides. Once you enter that price you're willing to pay then you are locked in at that hotel. IT selects the hotel FOR you (based on the location and star level) so you can't be very picky. For example we weren't able to find a room that allowed dogs. We just had to enter the price and hope for the best (it didn't allow dogs so we kenneled them instead). We were told, however, that ALL 3 star hotels have refrigerators and microwaves so we at least knew in advance that we'd be okay there!

          It also is really only a great deal if you're traveling very soon from the time you book. The closer to the date of travel then the more likely the hotels are to be willing to give rooms for cheap since they know they probably won't get filled. I plan in advance so we won't get to use this deal very often (in this case it was a funeral situation so it was very last minute planning). It IS great though for Zach as he travels often for work and he can just book a hotel the day before he leaves!

          When Zach went to use it recently for his business travel we did learn another downside. If you enter a price and no hotels will take it then you have to wait 24 hours before you can enter in another price for the same star level and location.

          Also once it matches you with a room it calculates the taxes and fees. When we stayed in SC the $40 a night did NOT include the tax or fees which made the room actually cost more per night. We stayed 2 nights and got charged $16 for fees and taxes so that really made the room $48 a night. Still a GREAT deal and totally worth it but I wish they could tell you the fee amount up front so you'd be able to figure that in when you name your own price.

          While there are downsides to using this program, we love it! Overall it IS cheaper than other sites around. Zach booked his hotel recently in the Atlanta area for $40 a night and all other hotel websites (including the regular Priceline site) had the same hotel (which was the CHEAPEST in the area) for $79 a night! I highly recommend using this program, especially if you're a last minute traveler!

          Have you tried this out before? Any thoughts or things I didn't include???

          Saturday, March 13, 2010

          Mr. Monkey - Lovie

          As you may have noticed on my personal blog, I love Kye's Mr. Monkey! He sleeps with him every nap and at night and I'm so thankful we have him! I think he'll be a big help with weaning off the paci too :) I thought I'd share some info in case anyone wanted a Mr. Monkey of their own.

          My mom actually bought Mr. Monkey for Kye for his first Easter. They make a smaller size (Kye has the big one) and they are great because they are machine washable! We actually bought a back-up one so that way when I do wash the "main" one he doesn't have to go without.
          When he got the monkey I thought it was cute but I didn't want to put it in the crib with him due to SIDS risks. I actually decided to call the company about it. They were SUPER nice and explained to me that their "blankies" are the only ones that have been approved as safe at any age in a crib!!! The material is breathable and it's a good side to insure they won't somehow hurt themselves with it. It's been voted one of the 10 best toys by Dr. Toys and I agree with him, out of all the the baby junk I've fallen for and purchased this is one thing I'm so thankful we have!

          Here is the site to order one for yourself...they are by Komet Creations. You can't actually order off the site but they have a link to find a retailer near you or you can google "komet creations lovie" and a bunch of online stores pop up! I actually decided to write this post because I googled "lovie" (Mr. Monkey's official name) and a MILLION things came up that weren't lovies and it took me awhile to find the actual site! They have tons of different types of animals and things too. I actually told Mrs. Charlotte about Kye's awhile back and now Payton, Kye's cousin, sleeps with a Hippo every night! had to share so other babies out there can enjoy their own "Mr. Monkey" too!

          Tuesday, March 9, 2010

          B. Toys

          Before Kye's birthday I went to Target to make a wishlist for him and I saw these neat toys! They are by a company called (link is to their facebook fan page, their company site isn't up and running yet). I was drawn to them mainly because of the colors the company uses. Instead of the bright, primary colors of every toy on the market these are more modern looking with fun, funky colors and cool designs.
          For Kye's birthday we got him three of their toys: Parum Pum Pum drum, Fish and Splish bath boat, and Times Square. is a new company and I love that on the facebook fan page they ask for fans input on things! It was neat to finally get to open the toys and check them out!!! My favorite is the is filled with musical instruments and they are REAL ones! The tub toy is really neat too, it was cheaper than the one we almost bought by Fisher Price and it came with a lot more fun toys! Our least favorite is the Times Square cube only because it didn't come with directions and took us a while to figure out how to open it as well as how to get the batteries in it. I plan on letting the company know about those issues as I'd hate for someone to get that as their first toy by the company then not like them because of those flaws! 

          Not only do I like the look of the toys but I LOVE the prices! They were all under $20 each which for baby toys is pretty awesome! I highly recommend checking them out for yourself (I know they are available through target!)

          Monday, March 1, 2010

          Green "Jungle" Punch

          I found this recipe on Cooks and I didn't even test it before I used it for the party! After the party started and people kept telling me how good it was I tried some and yup, it's a winner for sure! And it fits my requirements of being easy and cheap :) It was actually the ONLY thing we "ran out of" during the party and we had to make another batch!
          You need:
          2 liters ginger ale (when I went to Publix all they had was Diet but it worked and no one noticed!)
          1 large container of frozen lemonade
          1 large can of pineapple juice chilled (I kept it in my fridge until the day of the party)
          1 qt lime sherbet

          Obviously I doubled this recipe and I was thankful I did as it ALL got gobbled up! I didn't make the punch until about 10 minutes prior to the party and all I did was dump all the ingredients in the punch bowl and stir it up! Enjoy :)

          Jungle Vine

          My mom is an elementary school teacher which can be pretty handy when I need creative help! When we decided to do the monkey theme she came up with the idea to make a vine to hang in the house as part of the decorations.
          If you haven't noticed a theme to my party decorations yet, here it is: CHEAP and EASY! haha! We used brown paper bags (Publix will give them to you for free!). We cut the bags to make them open and long then rolled them up and twisted them to make them vine-like. We attached them together with stables. Then I bought bendable ivy from Hobby Lobby (which was kinda expensive, they were 1/2 off but were still $6 each and I bought two) and we cut it up and wrapped it around random sections. Zach (being 6'5" is so helpful at times!) attached them to the wall in the dining room them wrapped them around the chandelier. They looked better than I pictured in my head and we added a blow up monkey Seth and Crissy let us borrow to hang down from his home!

          Monkey Cupcakes

          I opted to do cupcakes for Kye's party because I didn't want to hassle with cutting a cake (I'm awful at it) or worrying with buying silverware. Cupcakes are cute, cheap, easy, and everyone likes them! I hunted online for a monkey type design that wouldn't require a bunch of different ingredients or time. I found the one I used from some RANDOM site and I think they turned out great!
          I used a box of chocolate cake (I think it's was actually Devil's Food Cake) and milk chocolate frosting (I read that it's better to use the milk chocolate kind b/c it's lighter in color). Then I bought mini-vanilla waffers and Zach cut them in half for me to use for the ears. I used 3/4 of the original sized vanilla waffers for the face. Then all I did was buy black frosting gel and red frosting gel for the eyes, nostrils, and mouth! Very simple and cute! As they sat the waffers actually got soft which people told me made them even better :)