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Angry Birds Cake & Cupcake Toppers

Maybe you've been in these shoes of mine.

Our 4-year old has been asking me in his sweetest, most optimistic little voice ...

... every single day for the past eight weeks ...

"Today my BIRFday????"

"No, but pretty soon!" I've replied ...

...every single day for the past eight weeks!

And each time, without fail, 1) out comes his lower lip and 2) in his best whiney/demanding voice...

"my birfday TO-DAY!"

Well, I COULDN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE! I just couldn't take it.

So you know what!?

He got it.

Today he got his "birfday." We celebrated it 19 days early.

And IT'S OVER AND DONE WITH, and mom couldn't be happier.

When it comes to birthdays, my kids pick out the theme months in advance. Our little man's choice for his 5th birthday was Angry Birds. No problem! With fondant, you can create anything.

A big thank you goes out to my sister-in-law for helping me pull off a last-minute party and for making these Angry Bird cupcake toppers.

I've shared in past posts how I use fondant and food coloring for creating toppers for cakes and cupcakes. It's a fun, easy, and flexible medium to work with—we just don't eat the stuff (the combination of the corn syrup and sugar in the fondant and the artificial colors in the dyes spell one big fat tummy ache). The kids know it's "just for decoration."

Well, we had a great little party and our guy was absolutely thrilled with his cupcakes. We thought they were pretty stinkin' cute, too! So had to share them with you.


What's in the Lunchbox?

This week I am contributing to the Healthy Lunchbox 2012 event over at And Love It Too. Sunny has hosted a slew of bloggers over the last weeks, each sharing their fun, creative and healthy lunchbox ideas.

So please head on over for my contribution.

I packed a couple of sample lunch boxes and shared a few of my kids' favorite lunch quesadillas.

You'll also get a peek at the home lunch "system" we use. I have finally landed on one that works for us. Roomy enough to hold a Sistema Klip It Lunch Cube, a 9-ounce LifeFactory Glass Beverage Bottle and a Kids Konserve Squiggle Sweat-Free Ice Pack (my favorite accessories) the Sugarbooger Zippee! Lunch Tote line has been a proven winner. It is BPA, phthalate, lead and PVC-free and meets or exceeds U.S., Canadian and European safety standards. They come in a bunch of cute motifs and are priced right.


Allergy-Friendly School Lunches

Happy Back to School everyone!!

I wanted to share this "round-up of round-ups" for those, who like me, who are ill-prepared (yeah ... understatement) for the school year. Today I frantically turned to the blogosphere to hunt down some of the best collections of allergy-friendly school lunch and snack ideas. There's a wealth of inspiration here to help you (and me) keep school lunches from becoming same old same old.

Got a dynamite addition for this list? Just leave a comment with the link and I will add it in.

I've also started a "My Healthy Lunch Box" Pinterest board. Let me know if you want me to add you as a pinner to this board. I'd love to do so. It's empty right now, waiting for you to fill it up : )

Back to School 2012 Lunch Box Ideas

100 Gluten-Free School Lunch Ideas

Gluten and Allergen-Free Lunch Box Ideas

Printable List of 50+ Allergy-Friendly Lunch Box Ideas

What's in the Lunchbox?

Allergy-Friendly Lunch Box with Brain Power 

20+ Resources, Tips and Tools

Healthy Lunch Box 2012 

Gluten-Free Lunch Ideas and Allergy-Free Snacks

12 Healthy Snack Ideas

52 Healthy, Packable Back-to-School and Work Snacks

Easy Kids Lunchboxes

Gluten-Free Lunch Round-Up

Packing a Gluten-Free Allergy-Friendly School Lunch

What to Pack

Top Foods for a Healthy Lunchbox

Bento Lunches

What's for Lunch (packed in Laptop Lunchboxes)


Google+ Moms are Hip

Alright, so being a Google+'er may not propel me to "hip"ness, but by golly, today I'm feeling mighty hip.

Last month if you'd asked me what Google+ was, I'd say "no clue."

Today is a different story. Recently, I was fortunate to be schooled on this thing called Google+ — from a Google "insider" no less. It was kind of like being invited to the popular girl's house to play after school and she let you use her make-up ... and it was the coolest day ever (because at 11 your mom still didn't let you wear make-up, much less shave your legs)!

Anyway, Ms. Google as I fondly refer to her, threw buckets of techie words at me as she explained Google+. Today I am going to attempt to share what she shared—and offer my take on Google+.

What is Google+?

Google+ has been referred to as a social networking service. I'm kinda seein' it as a rockin' "interests" forum—an interactive venue where voices may be shared and heard. It launched in the summer of 2011. You could say it's kind of like Facebook—but offers more functionality and is significantly more robust.

You ask how it compares to Facebook or Twitter? Think of it this way:

  • Facebook is for checking in and keeping up with, friends and family.
  • Twitter is for surface interaction, quick updates.
  • Google+ is for people who share the same interests. It is interest-based. It's about finding new people and them finding you based on your interests.

How Does it Work?

Before we dive in, having some basic Google+ lingo down helps. Words you should know:

POSTS: You have a stream of "posts" just like you do in Facebook.

YOUR CIRCLES: With Facebook, you have "friends." With Google+ you have "your circles".

CIRCLING: In Facebook you "follow" someone. In Google+ you add them to a "your circles."  Circles are all about organizing the people you "follow" and "share" with by interests (for example; gardening, photography, cooking, etc). When you have something to share, you select the circles you want that "post" to feed to—perhaps all of your circles or just one in particular. It's targeted communication made easy!

ADD YOU BACK: When you "circle" someone, they will be notified. And if they are interested in what you're all about, they'll likely "Add You Back"—meaning they want to see your stuff, too. 

+1: If you like someone's post, you can "like" it by hitting "+1".

PING: If you're looking for a fast, easy way to start communicating live with your contacts, you can "Ping" them. Much like instant messaging. 

HANGOUT: And then there are the Hangouts—super coolness! Think video chatting like Skype, iChat, Facetime—but conveniently located right there in your Google+ window. You can Hangout with one or multiple people at a time. It may be kept private or go live with an "Air" broadcast (streamed live and then uploaded to YouTube).

What Stuff Do They See? What Stuff Do I See?

If you are out there posting, only the Circles you select your post to post to will be able to view it in their stream. For example, I know my gardening friends are not interested in photography so I'll leave that circle out when posting about macro lenses. But if I have some real cool content to share that would interest everyone, I simply click "Everyone."

Like with Twitter, you can "follow" or "circle" anyone you want. Whether you see posts from them depends on which circles they are posting to. Oh ... and you can post to a single person—much like "messaging" someone in Facebook—but it shows up in their stream rather than in a dedicated message window. This is where you want to take care. You don't want inadvertently send a private message to your public circles. Read more of my thoughts on privacy below.

What Makes it Robust?

The cool features I've discovered in Google+ are:

LOCAL: Click this button and you can find and rate local business. This could become a powerhouse of a tool for those of us on special diets. The more restaurants we review, the more help we can be to our little community. 

EXPLORE: See what's hot on Google+ by hitting the "Explore" button. You can then search by word or topic (such as "dairy-free" or whatever it is you are interested in exploring).

EVENTS: Create an invitation to an event (or dinner party or baby shower). Share photos from the event instantly in "Party Mode." Upload everyone's photos in one place after the event. 

HANGOUTS: These video chats allow us to communicate easily with our family 7,000 miles away—for free. AND it will allow me to communicate with Lexie's Kitchen readers via broadcasted Hangouts.

I recently hungout with Anne-Marie of This Mamma Cooks on a Diet. (She was a delight, and yeah, I look TOTALLY confused in the beginning ... I was still getting the hang of it ... it gets a little better, promise. And oh, how Ann Curry makes interviews look so easy!)

How I Plan to Use Google+.

I tend to be a private person. I rarely, if ever, broadcast sensitive and private matters over social media. That said, I like the way I can keep up with close friends and family with Facebook, but I've found it a little limiting when it comes to following communities that share my interests. This is the gap I think Google+ will neatly fill.  I believe it is a great public forum for exchanging ideas and following the "voices" of people, businesses, and bloggers that interest you.

If you have an audio/video-equipped computer, I think you will definitely enjoy the Hangout. Hangouts are private unless you click the Hangout Air feature which will then broadcast your Hangout on to your Google+ stream and then upload it to YouTube (so use with care!). Great for business. Not great for chatting with your girlfriends about the family that just moved in next door.

Get in There and Play.

The best way to get acquainted with Google+ is to get in there and play. I still have a lot to learn. Want to jump in? Head over to the Google+ homepage and create an account with your Gmail or Google log in.

And don't forget to "circle me", Lexie Croft, so that we can connect. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Tutorial and Sample Hangouts.

I will leave you with a few videos to further illustrate what Google+ is all about. I hope this has been a tad bit helpful.



Crabapple Jelly Recipe

This post is linked to Allergy-Free Wednesdays and Gluten Free Fridays.

I am in love with this lower-glycemic crabapple jelly.

Last week the boys, my brave friend Hannah, and I did some raiding or—rather—foraging at dusk of a loaded crabapple tree down by the kids' school.

[Yes, you can eat crabapples]

We just had to do it. The fruit these trees put out is exceptional. They are palatable green-apple-tart (not all crabapples are so always sample the fruit) and were there for the taking—and for the making_of crabapple jelly.

Fresh piced crabapples. Fresh pressed crabapple juice.

I ended up doing it a little differently. For this jelly I used a reduced measure of coconut sugar. The result was a darker, tart, mildly sweet jelly that I can't get enough of. It reminds me of the guava jelly my mom makes. So good!

Thank you dear Laurel V. for digging out your Pre-WWI worn and tattered copy of The Settlement Cook Book 1903 which inspired this jelly makin' project. I ended up ordering the cookbook and found it quite entertaining and useful.

A smear of Earth Balance buttery spread and crabapple jelly atop our favorite Food for Life yeast-free, gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free and vegan bread.



3/4 cup COCONUT SUGAR or other granulated sugar
2 tablespoons PECTIN


  1. Using a juicer, juice enough crabapples (about 1-1/4 pound?) to yield 1-1/2 cups crabapple juice.
  2. Add juice to a medium pot. Gradually stir in pectin.
  3. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat.
  4. Stiring constantly, add coconut sugar, stirring to dissolve.
  5. Return to full rolling boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  6. Remove from heat. Skim off foam if necessary.
  7. Transfer to glass jar and refrigerate.


Mind you, this is my way of doing it (I used pure juice, no addition of water). If you want to go with the experts, here's a fantastic Pectin Calculator for making jams and jellies.