Friday, September 30, 2011

Busy Cooking: Apple Whoopie Pies with Vanilla Bean Filling

OH.MY.GOD!  These are soooo good!  Last weekend, we went apple picking for the first time in five years.  Most of our kids had never been before.  The place we went to was a TOTAL ripoff (the money we saved from not picking in five years was just spent on this one trip).  Don't ever go to an orchard that makes each person buy a bag, even the little little kids.  Needless to say, we had fun, got six bags of apples, McIntosh or not, they're still delicious.

On the drive up to the orchard, I was ripping pages out of the Better Homes and Gardens Fall Baking magazine.  This recipe jumped out at me and I couldn't wait to get home to make it.  I wanted to make it that night, but we got home too late.  Combining lots of cinnamon, homemade applesauce, and vanilla bean filling, these are quite possibly the best whoopie pies I have ever made/eaten!

As I was sampling the first one, I was thinking how a cinnamon icing would be delicious inside too, I pulled down a jar of cinnamon red hots and stuck one inside.  MAGICAL!  My assistant helped me pop one red hot in the center of each pie.  (Note:  you do not need to completely fill the pies with icing, I just pipe around the edges- when you bite, it squeezes in and fills the rest.)
Oven: 350

Whoopie Pies:
2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups Homemade Applesauce (or jarred)
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 3/4 cup flour
1 TBSP cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp salt

Vanilla Bean Icing:
3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
3-5 TBSP whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

Homemade Applesauce:
1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice
5 large or 10 small apples
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

If you are going to make the homemade applesauce, which I HIGHLY recommend (it's sooo good), do this part first.  Core and peel the apples (you can leave the peel on, it will soften and make your sauce a pinkish color).  Put the cider, sugar, cinnamon, and apples into a dutch oven over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and let simmer 45-60 minutes or until apples are soft (mine were done in 25 minutes).  Put apples and 1-2 ladles of the juice into a blender or food processor and puree.  You can add more juice if it's not the consistency you want.

For the whoopie pies:
1) Preheat the oven, then line your baking sheets with parchment paper.  I would recommend the parchment paper if you have it, the whoopie pies are sticky because of the applesauce, so it makes it very easy to get out of the pan.

2) In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside

3) Put brown sugar and butter into bowl of mixer and beat on medium high until fluffy and light tan.  Scrape down sides.

4) Add in eggs and vanilla, beat until combined.  Scrape down sides.

5) Add in heavy cream and applesauce, beat until combined.  Scrape down sides.

6) Slowly add in the dry ingredients, scrape down sides, give one final quick mix.

7) Using a cookie scoop or spoon, drop batter onto prepared cookie sheets.  I used a small cookie scoop and only filled it half way, the small whoopie pies I made were about 2 inches wide, they were quicker to cook than the larger ones.  Space them about 2-3 inches apart to account for spreading while baking.

8) Bake until they are a dark golden brown color.  The recommended time in the recipe called for 10-12 minutes, mine were pale colored and raw in the centers.  I ended up cooking for 20-22 minutes, you just kind of have to watch that first batch and adjust for the way your oven cooks.  When you see the dark golden color in my pictures you'll know they're done.

9) Let cool completely on a cooling rack.

10) While they are cooling, mix up the icing.  Put butter in bowl of mixer, beat to soften, then add the confectioner's sugar 1 cup at a time.   Take the vanilla bean, cut it lengthwise, scrape the seeds into the bowl.  Add in the vanilla, and then the milk until your desired consistency.  Make sure to add the milk slowly, because even 1 TBSP too many can result in runny icing.  Be sure to scrape down the bowl periodically too, butter can often cake to the bottom of the bowl.

11) Choose your favorite pastry tip, put it in a decorating bag or ziploc, put in a cup for stability, and fill with the icing.  Swirl the icing around the outside edges of the pies, then add a top. You can also just put a scoop of icing in the center of a whoopie pie and press the top on to spread it out.

Add a red hot if you have them and want to add some zing!
12) Eat them and try to contain yourself, I seriously ate 6 yesterday!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Busy Cooking: Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup

Here I am sitting at Starbucks, using their free Wifi, and I'm typing up a post about how to make your own knock off pumpkin spice lattes.  I couldn't just stop at making the pumpkin spice latte cupcakes, I had to keep going and try to make my own pumpkin spice lattes.  These are the things that keep me busy late at night while I'm up with a sick baby.  I found a few versions when I was searching, but I decided on one from Cooks Like a Champion.

I bought the Starbucks pumpkin spice syrup a few years ago to make my own while living in Japan. Quite honestly, they never tasted like I wanted, they were too sweet.  I made the syrup yesterday and it smelled like potpourri.  Well, I was worried I was going to feel like I was drinking a bag of spiced pinecones when I used this syrup.  The end result was shockingly delicious, enough to make me think once I get internet at my house on Tuesday, I can kick my Starbucks habit and save some money ;)

Pumpkin Spice Syrup:

1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup water
4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
3 TBSP pumpkin puree (I might add 4 the next time I make this)

1) In medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water until sugar is dissolved.

2) Whisk in remaining ingredients, let simmer 6 minutes (try not to let it boil).  Mine did (oops)

3) Let cool slightly, strain with a fine mesh sieve.  My sieve had a ton of stuff (mainly the undissolved spices)- I actually got worried it was going to detract from the flavor of the syrup and I saved them until the syrup had completely cooled and I could test it.  I wanted to make sure it would taste right before I threw them all away and it was delicious.  So, don't worry if you have 2 or so TBSP of leftovers on the sieve.

4) Put in a container with a lid and store in the refrigerator.  Some settling will occur, so stir each time before using it. If you look at the picture below, you can see a line towards the bottom where the settling began.
Pumpkin spice latte:

1 shot espresso ***
1 1/2 TBSP pumpkin spice syrup
8 oz steamed milk

Put syrup and espresso into cup, stir in milk.  Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.  I think the whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice really make the drink go the extra mile.
***If you don't have an espresso maker, a shot of really strong brew can work, or just add the syrup to your favorite hot or cold coffee drink.

Maybe all this coffee will help me unpack faster so I can get my sewing stuff out.

Happy fall!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Busy Partying: Super Mario Brothers Birthday Party #3

For some reason, this year, we have moved within days of my kids' birthdays.  There was a birthday in August, only 4 days before we made our final big move.  There was cake, oh lots of cake, but not so much in the area of games, decor, and favors.  There were ideas, but no time to implement them, so you will just be seeing lots and lots of sweets here.  Oh, and this birthday t-shirt-  a birthday in our house just isn't complete without a birthday outfit!
For this shirt, I found some fabric printer paper at a JoAnn's Fabrics going out of business by my parent's house.  I skeptically bought it, but it turned out to be AWESOME!  Only thing, if you don't follow the directions and handwash, the ink will fade drastically after several washings (learn from my mistake).  It was soo easy to use, just create the image (I even downloaded super mario font), print it out, cut it out, and sew it on to the t-shirt - I used interfacing on the inside of the t-shirt to help feed it through my sewing machine easier.

For decor, I bought a pack of white stars (I was going to decorate them like the power up stars)- the kids took care of this for me:
I made this cupcake stand, it's my first one, so it came out a little sketchy, but I can't wait to make more.  I found the tutorial online here at Annie's Eats.  All you need is a glue gun, some soup cans, pretty paper, ribbon, and 3 different sizes of styrofoam circles.  You can customize one of these for any occasion!
I cut Mario pictures off a box of trading cards we had and glued them to the stand.

For the cake, the main thing I wanted to do was make these power up star cake pops- yes Bakerella, I did it!  Victory is mine (with cake pop making).  I made a vanilla cake, homemade vanilla icing, crumbled up the cake, mixed in the frosting, spread it out in a big cookie sheet, froze it, then used mini star cookie cutters to cut out the star shapes.  I froze them some more, then I dipped the sticks in a bit of melted chocolate, put them in the stars, and put them back in the freezer to anchor them in.  I dipped the stars in melted yellow chocolate, my key to success:  I added a few teaspoons of oil to the melted chocolate to make it smoother.  I used chocolate sprinkles for the eyes- these were quite a hit!
For the cupcakes, I used my new favorite vanilla bean icing and vanilla bean cake recipe (to follow soon)- oh these are just so yummy, no one can eat just one- no one!  I used rainbow colors because Super Mario Bros. is such a colorful game!
For the chocolate you saw in the cupcake stand, homemade yodels (what's a yodel?, stay tuned for a future post on those too)- you'll never buy store bought again! Not super mario themed, but a request from the birthday boy!
 Who doesn't love a birthday filled with lots of cakes and sweets?  What a SUPER day!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Busy Cooking: Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Living in a country where Halloween isn't celebrated, means you go without certain staple fall items, such as Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  Two years ago, when I was really missing them, I had my mom send me over a bottle of the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice syrup so I could make my own- they just never turned out the same.  Now that I'm back in the US and pumpkin spice lattes returned last week, I have no need to buy the syrup.  I do have to say though, once you have experienced the consistent goodness and perfection of your coffee order at a japanese Starbucks, it's hard to come home and get a drink.  Don't get me wrong, the pumpkin spice lattes I've had this week have been good, just some better than others.  (I'm fearing the release of gingerbread lattes because the ones in Japan were so delectable, in fact, I got one EVERY day last winter, knowing that the ones in the US could never compare).

I saw this recipe come up on Annie's Eats last week and I immediately had to make it, like that night had to make it.  I have a friend in Japan that has an affection for pumpkin spice lattes like myself.  I thought if I made the cupcakes and taste tested them, I could let her know if it's worth her time to make them.  I may have surpassed my chance to fit into my pre-baby winter jeans in this round of cupcake making.  I tried the cupcakes before each phase to see which way tasted best (plain, with espresso brushed on, frosted, frosted with cinnamon sugar, frosted with pumpkin spice topping- multiple of those) to come up with what I think any expat without the luxury of a Starbucks serving pumpkin spice lattes this year would enjoy.

Adapted from Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes by Annie's Eats.  I cut down the amount of espresso she recommends in her recipe because both Dave and I thought it overpowered the pumpkin taste in the cupcake, I omitted the caramel topping because I've never had it on a pumpkin spice latte, and I added a sprinkle of straight pumpkin spice to the tops. (I also am mentioning here the recipe for a half batch).
Oven: 350'

1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 TBSP espresso powder (I cut open an espresso pod- you can also finely grind coffee or espresso)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/16 tsp nutmeg (pinch)
1/16 tsp ground cloves (pinch)- I omitted because I didn't have them
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
7.5 oz pumpkin puree (1/2 jar)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs

1/4 cup brewed coffee or espresso for brushing

1 1/8 cup heavy cream, chilled
1/8 cup confectioner's sugar

pumpkin spice for dusting

1) Preheat oven and prepare cupcake pans with liners.

2) In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, set aside.

3) In bowl of mixer, with paddle attachment, combine pumpkin puree, sugar, brown sugar, and oil.  Scrape down sides, add in eggs one at a time, scrape down sides after mixing.

4) Slowly add flour mixture, scrape down sides, mix until just combined.

5) Add batter into cupcake liners about 3/4 full.  Bake until stick inserted in center comes out clean.  For minis, approximately 14-17 minutes, big ones about 18-22 minutes.  This made 6 large and 22 minis.

6) Let cool, then brush tops with 2-3 coats of the brewed espresso or coffee.  Let dry. (You can leave some plain if you have crazy kids that don't need any extra energy ;))

7) For the icing, beat heavy cream on high (with hand mixer), once it begins to thicken ~2 minutes, add in confectioner's sugar, continue to beat on high until it thickens.  You will notice it gets thick enough that it keeps its shape when you move the mixers around, about 4-5 minutes.  Don't overmix or it will appear slightly lumpy.

8) Frost cupcakes, garnish with pumpkin spice, and enjoy with your favorite hot beverage!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Busy Cooking: Harry Potter Butterbeer Cupcakes

This summer, as part of our Thrill Challenge, my kids had to watch a scary movie.  I was trying to think of something that would scare them, but not enough to cause nightmares and them ending up in my bed every night.  I decided on Harry Potter.  My brother had them over one night to do a double thrill, watch a scary movie and stay up all night.  Unfortunately, no one has made it up all night yet (probably a good thing).  The movie was a hit, and they fell in love with the series.  I am dying to unpack the books because I know they won't be able to put them down and I don't want them to see the other movies without reading the books first.

I came across this recipe last week accidentally on a new blog I found AmyBites, and I HAD to make it for the kids (yeah right).   Whenever I read the Harry Potter books, I always wondered how butterbeer would taste.  These cupcakes sum it up quite nicely if I do say so myself.  My son wanted me to color the icing the colors of Griffindor, but I didn't feel up to it.  I did try to ice them high to be similar to the sorting hat (however, when I make them again, I think I'll hold back a bit, it's quite sweet icing).
Oh, and AmyBites had an even more genius idea, butterbeer cake pops- my kids are going to love those!

Oven:  350'

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter flavoring (I omitted because I didn't have it)
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used 1/2 cup milk w/ 1/2 tsp white vinegar)
1/2 cup cream soda

Ganache Filling:
1/2 cup heavy cream
5.5 oz butterscotch chips (1/2 bag)

1/3 cup butterscotch ganache
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter flavoring (again I omitted)
3 cups powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1-2 TBSP heavy cream (or just use extra ganache)

1) Preheat oven and prepare cupcake pans with liners.

2) In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, set aside.  In bowl of mixer, with paddle attachment, cream butter.  Add in sugar and brown sugar, cream for about 5 minutes on medium high until light and fluffy.

3) Add eggs to butter mixture- one at a time, be sure to scrape down sides of bowl.  Add in vanilla (and butter flavoring if you are using it).

4) In alternating additions, add the flour, milk, and cream soda.  Lightly mix until combined.  Scrape down sides, give one more quick mix.  Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full.

5) Bake in oven 14-17 minutes for minis and 18-22 minutes for large cupcakes OR until stick inserted in center comes out clean.  I made 7 large and 22 minis with this batch.

6) For the ganache, while the cupcakes are baking, heat cream to a simmer in a pot, pour over the chips in a bowl.  Let sit about 2 minutes.  Using hand mixers, beat cream and chips together until smooth.  The mixture will be very runny- you can refrigerate it or freeze it for a while, and it will harden more.  Unfortunately, my impatience didn't serve me well and look what happened when I was trying to pipe the ganache into the centers of the cupcakes:
Next time, I'll make this first and set it in the fridge for 30-45 minutes while I'm making the cupcakes. I feel like it makes a delicious difference to have the cupcakes with this piped into the centers as opposed to without it.

7) After the cupcakes have been filled with ganache, make the icing.  Beat butter in bowl of mixer with paddle attachment.  Add in 1/3 cup ganache.  Add in vanilla (and butter flavoring if you are using), beat in the confectioner's sugar.  Add more ganache or heavy cream to reach desired consistency.
Fill pastry bag with icing and pipe on.  After I piped on the icing, I drizzled on some of the remaining ganache- yum yum!
Don't you just want to curl up with a plate of these on a cool fall day and have a Harry Potter marathon?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Busy Cooking: Cinnabon Knock-offs (cinnamon rolls to knock your socks off)

I posted about the cinnamon rolls I used to make here (they're still good- but these take it up a notch).  I found a recipe for Cinnabon Knock offs at Sweet as Sugar Cookies blog- tried them like that minute, and have been hooked ever since.  I actually made them before leaving Japan, but never got around to putting them on the blog.

My motivation to get them on here is my cousin.  She got married two weeks ago and we all stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, which when you are making a reservation and on hold, they have a whole message about how they have "world famous cinnamon rolls"- kind of like the "world's best coffee" in Elf.  My brother and I were chuckling about how we couldn't wait to get there to eat the cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  My cousin was actually up early the morning after her wedding because her husband was hungry and she was saying how he was looking forward to the cinnamon rolls. While they were good (for a hotel)- I told her I had a terrific recipe and that I'd share it.  What better way to share it than on here?

OVEN:  350'

Cinnamon Rolls:
1 cup warm milk (~110'F)
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter (melted, cooled)
4 1/2 cup flour (bread if you have it, I've used all purpose)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 packet)

1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 TBSP cinnamon
1/3 cup butter (melted/cooled)

3 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

1) Put warm milk in a small bowl, add yeast and  a tsp or 2 of the sugar (it helps activate the yeast).  Let sit about 5 minutes until foamy.

2) Melt butter, add egg and whisk together.  Add milk mixture to egg mixture.

3) Put 2 cups flour, the sugar, and salt in mixer bowl with dough hook attached.  Slowly add milk mixture.  Add 1 more cup of flour, mix to incorporate.  Add another cup of flour, mix to incorporate.  You can keep adding the flour (about another 1/2 cup) until the dough forms a ball and may have a small portion slightly sticking to the bottom of the mixing bowl.

4) Place dough in a greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap.  You can either leave in fridge overnight (yes, it will rise) or put it in a warm spot to let rise until doubled (about 1.5 to 2 hours).

5) Meanwhile, mix together brown sugar and cinnamon, set aside.

6) Once dough is done rising, punch ball down, place on well floured surface and roll out into a rectangle, approximately 15-18 inches wide and 20-24 inches long.  The thicker the dough is, the fatter your cinnamon roll.

7) Melt the butter for the filling and spread it all over the dough- about 1/2 inch away from the edges.  Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture all over the butter.

8) Along the long side, begin rolling up the dough into a big spiral log.  Using a serrated knife, cut out your cinnamon rolls and place on a piece of stoneware, or greased (or parchment papered) metal baking sheet.  I usually get 12-18 rolls depending how thick I cut them, I try to do about 1 inch cuts.  My other cinnamon roll recipe linked at the top has pictures, if you need a visual. (**in the photos below, you will see I had them all close together.  In my husband's tiny apartment, that pizza stone was all I had to bake on :(- Usually I evenly space them out like cookies.  If you arrange them like I did on the stone, bake a little longer to let the inside ones cook)
9) Cover and let rise another 30 minutes (sometimes I get impatient and skip this step, let's be honest, sometimes you just can't wait).  Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until tops are starting to brown.
10) Mix together all the icing ingredients (I thought it was weird there's no liquid involved-but wait).  As soon as the rolls come out of the oven, plop a dollop of icing on top and it will melt on.

I made these for my kids on their very first day of school in the US!

Busy Creating: Hand Painted Ceiling Fan

Okay, I know I just posted about moving into my new house like 30 seconds ago, but I have been DYING to post this!!!!

When picking out ceiling fans for my kids' rooms, I wanted something colorful and fun.  This is what I wanted, but it was too much money.
I found an idea online here, to paint your own design.  Who would have thought???!!!  The very next day, I was at the light store buying cheap contractor's white fans and then at WalMart buying painter's tape and small bottle of acrylic paint.

I painted one fan for Owen and Hazel's room and one for Maeve's.  I did it on the floor of Dave's tiny apartment because I just couldn't wait.

Here's what I did:

Lay out the white blades on paper:
Use painter's tape to create a nice straight line to paint.  I placed three pieces of tape, took out the middle one, then continued up the blade until I had every other line covered with tape and every other one exposed white and ready to paint.
For Owen and Hazel's, I used a rainbow pattern, the same on each blade.  When it was done, we coated it with mod podge sealant to protect the paint in case it needed to be cleaned.
Three months after I painted it, I finally got to see it hung:
I was hoping in action it would make a rainbow, and CHECK THIS OUT:
I just want to lie on the floor and look at it all day long!

Here's Maeve's, it goes with the colors in the curtains that I made for her.
Don't you just want to go buy a fan and paint your own?

Busy Moving Into MY NEW HOUSE!!!

I've been away for a while, mostly due to the fact that I've been moving, but partly because I have no internet at my new house (don't even get me started on that one).

Over the past seven months, since we found out we were moving home from Japan and decided to build a house to move into, my life has been kind of crazy, kind of.  If you follow my blog, you've read some of my posts along the way about moving, but here, in one post, I'd like to sum up the past eight months of my life.

First of all, I'd like to say THANK YOU to all of my family and friends who have helped me along the way, it would have been impossible without you.  It started in Japan, when we were packing up to leave, and I was seven months pregnant, countless friends helped me clean, pack, organize (probably thought I was being too particular, but now that I'm unpacking, that organization is paying off), helped with the kids, dishes, food, you name it.

Here is the first part of our move, the truck came to pick up 16 of our 19, yes, 19 suitcases.
We had to say good bye to some really great friends:

Here we are at the airport.
Phase two, unpacking, cleaning, organizing, settling in at my parent's house.  If it weren't for the help of my sister and my dad being home sick, I never would have gotten unpacked before this:
Four days before this beautiful girl arrived, my husband made his way back the the US, just one day before the big earthquake in northern Japan.  Fortunately, our friends were unaffected and our stuff was not at sea yet.

There were many decisions to be made for the house, so the kids and I drove 1,000 miles to stay with Dave for a month.  We got to stop and visit some old friends along the way, and I even took them to Niagara Falls:
Once again, it was time to pack up to get ready to move once again, this time to our new house.  For the past five years, my parents let us keep our stuff and car at their house, like our home away from home.  It was time to get all of my stuff out and let my parent's have their house back again.  I tried my hardest to get everything out. My dad even gave my two oldest sons the bunk beds we had when we were kids that he built himself- how cool is that?  We painted them red (because Mario's red of course).

We had to say goodbye to ALL of our cousins:
Conveniently, the weekend we moved my cousin was getting married in Ohio, so we made a pitstop.  This is when the kids had to say bye to Nana and Grampa.
This trip, we were driving with a 6x12 UHaul and I didn't want to travel alone, so my brother and nephew joined us.  I couldn't have done it without them!  They are my official moving buddies because they also came to Japan (with my sister-in-law too) for my last week and helped us move home, so I didn't have to lug all the suitcases and kids through customs 7.5 months pregnant alone.
We got to Illinois, and the house wasn't ready for closing, so we stayed in the tiny one bedroom apartment Dave had been renting since March.
My mom flew in to help us when our shipment arrived.  Luckily she's staying for two weeks.

The closing got delayed by two days, so we were all crammed into the tiny apartment on one king and one twin bed.

Finally, we closed on our house and are together again as one big happy family!  This was the first night in six months that I slept in a room without sharing it with four or five of my kids!  Home sweet home!
The following Monday, the stuff arrived, in not one, but two trucks!!! Here they are driving down the street, I was so excited I had butterflies in my stomach!

Holy cow, this is a LOT of stuff:

This is what my basement and closet look like now:
You'll be hearing from me slowly for the next few weeks as I attempt to become box free ;)

So, if you know someone moving, may I challenge you to do a random act of kindness for them, whether it be help pack, help clean post packing, make them a meal, clean the new place, help unpack, take the kids, bring over a snack, cut open boxes, help break down boxes- do you get the point?  I have had so much help, and I couldn't have done it without every last one of my wonderful family and friends, so thank you for everything that helped to get us here, we love you!