Thursday, April 29, 2010

Grills Gone Wild

I got the fabulous idea to turn an old grill from trash to something useful from here.... loving the results! Plus my hubby pointed out that it is sort of ironic that I am using a grill to grow I can't wait to fill up the condiment tray and other places on it with flowers so it doesn't look so out of place!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hot and Not

There are so many things throughout the day that really catches my interest and at the same time there are lots of things that seriously piss me off! Here is today's Hot and Not:

* 31 cent Scoop Night at Baskin Robbins! (Us preggos looooove ice cream, and cheap ice cream is even better!)

* Another great Regretsy find: Tie Dyed shorts gone HORRIBLY wrong, lol! Check the post out here =)

* Finding 50 Things that Elementary School Kids can make for their Teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week.... tons and tons of great ideas there!

* This Peanut Butter Pie....mmmmm

* Participating as a vendor at Fair On the Square yesterday at Playhouse Square, what a great experience and a wonderful venue for Usborne Books! 

* Love this little girl's bedroom... so many cute ideas there!

* These two Anti-Abortion bills that passed in Oklahoma today.... wrong on so many levels of wrongness....

* Hello Kitty Nipple Tassels....need I say more?

* Articles like this one that grossly misunderstand what unschooling is truly about... pure ignorance and blind trust in the main stream system to educate our kids...ugh! I especially love the articles that claim that unschooling parents are lazy and unconcerned about their children...WTF!

* Sabres getting their rears handed to them by the Bruins... hopefully they golf better than they play hockey!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mmmmmm Rainbow Cake

I just found this cake and looooooove how pretty and colorful it looks! Wouldn't this be a perfect cake for a Mother's Day celebration or a special birthday???

(image and recipe via Birthday Girl,originally posted here!)

Rainbow Cake
White Cake (but not really)
2 sticks (226 g) butter, room temp
2 1/3 c (466 g) sugar
5 egg whites, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 c (375 g) flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 1/2 c (355 g) milk, warmed for 30 sec in microwave to bring to room temp
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple GEL food coloring. Liquid will not be vibrant enough!

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Oil and line how ever many 9” cake pans you have (I have three and I just reused them).

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Cream the sugar and butter, then add the egg whites (I cracked them all into one bowl) and add them a little at a time. Add the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Then, alternating between wet and dry, add the milk and flour mixture in two parts.

Divide the batter amongst 6 bowls (I did it by weight. Weigh your mixing bowl before you begin adding ingredients and then subtract the weight of the bowl from the final measurement after the batter is completed. Divide that number by six and add that weight of batter to each bowl), and then whisk a fair amount of the appropriate food color into each bowl. Pour into the pans and bake for 15 minutes each.

When you remove them from the oven, let them rest on the cooling rack, in the pan, for ten minutes. Then flip, cover, and stash them in the fridge to cool quickly.
Lemony Swiss Meringue Buttercream

To fill and crumb coat:
9 egg whites
1 ¾ c (350 g) sugar
4 sticks (532 g) of butter, room temp
2 tsp lemon extract

To frost:
5 egg whites
1 c (200 g) sugar
2 sticks (226 g) butter, room temp
1 tsp lemon extract

Cook the egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it's completely smooth, it's done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-slow speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. After all the butter has been added, turn the mixer back to high speed and whip until it has come together, about five minutes. Add the extract, beat briefly and then use.

If the buttercream seems soupy after all of the butter is added and does not come together after whipping, refrigerate for 5 to 7 minutes and continue whipping until it becomes fluffy and workable.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Sorry for the lack of posts dear readers.... I have a serious case of afternoon/evening sickness instead of the more common morning sickness which is severely hindering my blogging, painting, basic living.... seriously, it sucks! (WARNING: Preggo Whining Alert) 

I hate the fact that eating, one of my favorite things, is now a chore... nothing sounds good, and since I am so nauseous I could care less about painting, sitting near a computer, or cleaning the house in any way. I am great from 7-12-ish, but after that it is all downhill. In short it sucks.... 

Lucky for me there is no actual vomiting involved and hopefully in a few short weeks all these nasty symptoms will be gone. For now bear with me...I promise to keep the preggo whining to a minimum! 

Enjoying the early morning with AJ in our PJs!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The List 4.15.10

I am feeling pretty off kilter here, trying to adjust to my body's needs (like being tired and nauseous in the evenings when I usually craft), still keep the house tidy (FAIL), and attempt to keep the kids from killing each other. I have a whole new realm of things to search for and discover on the web though so for all you mamas out there with teeny ones or expecting (and who isn't expecting it seems?!) there will be a lot more links for you!

I am already looking into switching to cloth diapers for this little one since we are currently spending waaayyyy too much on Pull Ups and I hate the thought of sending more disposable diapers to landfills! I love this site that has patterns if you are a craft mama so you can sew your own! (We will be using BumGenius 3.0)

Speaking of the environment, here is an awesome article about switching to non-toxic household cleaners as well as an easy peasy recipe on how to make your own!

And instead of throwing away all that plastic, why not use it to make something beautiful from this list? Like this awesomely cool little zipper container?

One of my biggest complaints about pregnancy is the clothing choices. Luckily thanks to Homemade by Jill I can now take an old pair of jeans and turn them into a super stretchy maternity skirt!

Seems like everyone is pregnant these days, even Jill is! I think I am going to stock up on some ultra hip balms from this Etsy store to send to all my pregger friends! With names like Tough Titties and Bad Ass Booty Balm you can't go wrong!

Oh, and also from Etsy I just ordered some pants from a very eco-conscious seller from Thailand who supports the native artists in the area. They are traditional Fisherman pants, one size fits most, and perfect for me to dance in!

Even though crafting is the last thing on my mind for once, I would love to see if one of my more craftier friends could make me a couple of cute bean bags from this pattern... Looks a little much for my novice skills, but sooo cute for the playroom!

One of the projects that I have been doing with the kids is planting our fairy garden as well as thinking about the rest of the garden space. I think this DIY Seed Tape would be a perfect gift for Teacher Appreciation Week!

Lastly, I am always on the lookout for cute party ideas, favors, and food and these wonderfully delicious looking Chocolate Spoons caught my eye. Not only are they pretty, but sooo yummy looking!

Have a great day and enjoy looking around at all the goodies here!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

All About AJ

A Few Facts About Amelia (aka The Terrorist)

1. AJ is a compulsive neat freak, if there is an open drawer she will close it at all costs.

2. If it is not "AJ-approved" clothing, it WILL NOT go on her body. 
Trying to force her to wear something will only result in you getting bit and 
the offending clothes will come off right away.

3. Shoes shall not be worn in the car... 
try to keep them on her and she will wing them at your head while driving. 

4. Books are treasured more than any other toy or doll by AJ, especially her Princess collection.

5. Going to bed is a process that requires a menagerie of animals, books, and accessories. 
Try to get by without something will only result in a massive meltdown. 

6. When in a bad mood, a half hour tub party will turn her mood sunny and bright.

7. AJ is a morning girl who always is smiling and waving, it is adorable.

8. AJ wears her Poodle costume everywhere... the grocery store, to bed, the mall... everywhere!

Now you know some facts about the little smiler up there... be warned though, she is adorable but rotten!
We love her though!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Great Expectations

"The most important story we'll ever write in life is our own-not with ink, but with our daily choices."
— Richard Paul Evans
Let's just start by stating that I SUCK at keeping secrets.... not the realllly important, spit in your hand and shake on it secrets, but the kind of secrets like Christmas presents and unexpected proposals.... I just can't help myself and want to blab it all to whoever will bend an ear! This secret however, is a little more complicated, and I didn't know if I was ready to share yet. The deciding factor was the simple fact that this blog is about my life, the ups and downs, the craftiness and parenting fails. And right now I have a secret in my life.... I am pregnant.

(Whew! Ok, well it is still secret to some. I didn't shout it out yet on Facebook or Twitter, for some reason I feel better sharing it here first. Weird huh?)

So... yes, I am pregnant. No, it was not planned... in fact my lovely husband was supposed to have a vasectomy appointment on March 12th that he missed for some obscure and minor reason. (I guess even when you make plans, karma just swoops in and changes it all around.) And since we were not planning on adding to our little family, we used protection and such... so this really took us by surprise. I didn't even THINK about the possibility of being pregnant until dear sweet hubby called and asked me if I wanted a double cheeseburger, and the simple thought of it made me want to run straight to the nearest bathroom. Ugh! I hate that!

Long story short, I thought about what weirdness I was feeling, grabbed a simple preggo test, and 30 seconds later had a blazingly obvious plus sign in my hand. ("Shit! Shit, shit shit!" I believe were the words coming out of my mouth at the time!) Well that explained the long afternoon snoozes, the nauseous tummy, and the weird craving for olives- of which I ate half a jar already.

There were a bit of tears, because of course I was completely and utterly shocked, but at the same time we took a deep breathe and knew that everything would be fine. We would figure it all out along the way and be thankful that for us it really is a snap to add to our little family. (I am most thankful for my husband not looking at me and running for the hills... instead he has taken over where I needed him to without me even asking.)

I haven't even hit the 8 week mark yet, or had my first OB appointment, but like I said before.... I suck at keeping secrets!  More a little later... I need a nap!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cute and Easy Craft Alert!

Aren't these adorable?!
All the little girls and I spent a VERY chilly Thursday making them
thanks to this awesome tutorial found here at AlphaMom!

All you need are some watercolor paints, coffee filters, clothespins, and googly eyes! 
Soooo easy and super cute hanging around the garden!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Peaceful Parenting- Take 2

I have come to realize that with the Spring cleaning of my house also needs to come a Spring cleaning of myself. Lately I have let myself get too wound up, especially at bedtime, too quick to lose my patience, and definitely too quick to yell louder than is necessary. I haven't been keeping my cool or looking at the big picture when it comes to everyday stresses like trying to cook when the girls are bickering or getting AJ to bed with as little up/downs as possible.

So here are some changes I decided to make myself and the girls tonight:
1. No more yelling- well,as much as I can remember to... after all I am reforming here. =)
2. No more fighting about bedtime. We do the routine and instead of me going up and down while AJ stalls I will simply chill in the spare bedroom and read so I can deter any escape plans.
3. More smiles and less saying the word, "No".
4. No sitting on the computer while they watch their evening Avatar episode... I can't expect them to sit and relax if I am over here typing away and not relaxing with them.
5. Making a chore schedule and sticking to it so that I am not nagging at everyone allllll day long to help me clean and then getting upset when no one wants to. I am going to try Motivated Moms which seems to make a lot of sense as far as the cleaning schedule. (I just remove the Bible readings since we are not a Christian household) One of my friends sent it to me and I am wowed with the details!

Lucky for me too that there are tons of blogs out there that have great tools for moms like me who are trying to run herd on the kids all day, run a business, and keep the house from looking like squatters live there instead of a family. Many of them are on my sidebar- blogs like The Parenting Passageway, SouleMama, Simple Mom, and Our Suburban Homestead. Check them out and may your home be peaceful and full of sunny smiles too!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I love Hair Pins and Things!!!

Now that my hair is in that awful awkward stage where it isn't short enough to just sass it up but isn't long enough to pull back I am searching for cute ideas on how to make it look as if I actually cared about how I look. (lol!)
I noticed that there is a huge trend on Etsy with fabric flowers, bobby pins, clips, and such... most of which I can create for myself quite nicely. But there are some that just caught my eye enough that I would send my lovely profits right back into Etsy buying them...

Here are some of my faves, please check out the stores... seriously, these are beautiful items for even more beautiful prices!

Satin Poppies in Purple and Oyster

Raspberry Parfait Hairpin Set

whimsical orchid comb

Sweet And Simple Hair Pins

Lemon Yellow Felt Rosette Bobby Pins

There are sooooo many more that I can show, but these are my favorites....
aren't they all lovely?
Maybe they can keep me from really wanting to chop my hair back off and just let it grow out!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Zip Over to Zibbet

Since I like to check out the Etsy Forums daily I get to hear the scoop on what is up and coming in the crafts world. One thing that I heard about 2 days ago is a new website similar to Etsy called Zibbet! Basically these creators took Etsy and all the good about it, but also improved what sellers were complaining about. Things like Listing Fees, one at a time photo uploads, difficulty having store sales.... none of those are a problem on Zibbet.

I read about Etsy seller's thoughts about the new site, took a tour, and signed up right away after reading the perks, the biggest of which is a flat monthly fee for Premium Seller accounts. (Premium accounts give you a lot more customization, something that really appeals to me since I want to stick in a buyers mind!) Looking at my last couple of Etsy bills they have been pretty substantial since I have been listing a lot and selling a lot... upwards of $20 most months. While that .20 listing fee on Etsy looks minimal, it adds up when you list 70 items in a month, plus Etsy takes a small cut of the selling price...again, it adds up. On Zibbet there are no listing fees, no selling fees, and that rate I got my store for is for life!

I like that I can upload all my pics at once, that if I have a sale or a coupon code the site automatically takes off whatever percentage I tell it to, and that the store itself looks awesome thanks to bigger banners and profile photos.

Here is what my store looks like:

If you are a seller and want to join, here is a special link to get you started!
If you are a buyer and want to send me some love by buying something, 
please enjoy 25% off any item (not including shipping) when you type in CBLUV into the Coupon space! 
Sale will end April 15th so go get yourself a pretty fairy door or a custom Spoolie now!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday Was Oh So Good!

Not being Christian always makes holidays a little interesting around here. My good friend Joan, who is a very devout Catholic, asked me what we did to celebrate Easter since it obviously means something different for us. Joan is cool like that, never judgmental and when she asks me stuff about my set of beliefs I can be 100% honest because I know that she will NEVER look down on my choices. That is why she is my soul sister... she just gets it.

Anyhow, I digress... I told Joan that we view Easter as a celebration of Spring. Of course we still give the girls Easter baskets with a bit of candy, but I am also including some gardening items like seeds, shovels, and little clay pots. We dyed Easter eggs tonight with Koolaid because all the birds are getting ready to lay eggs, we eat Peeps bunnies because bunnies come out in the Spring... make sense?

Today was Good Friday and even though it had no religious significance to us, it was a VERY good day! It was over 80 outside... a feat for good ol' Cleveland, the beach was packed, and we did a lot of fun things. We started out by taking the dog shopping at the mall (to Moochie & Co) where she got tons and tons of attention. After a nice lunch at Chipotle Gabby and I made some Pom Pom Flowers... look how cute they turned out!

Then we headed off to the beach, YAY!!!! Here are some pics of the girls having lots of fun...

(I do not dress her.... that is all her own doing, lol!)

(AJ hates being wet so was pretty naked by the end of the trip... and she also thinks she is a bird!)
Finally, after dinner I got some cute pictures of the girls that really capture their personalities...
I am pretty sure AJ was a pirate in a past life, she has the scowl down!

Sweet huh? Lol, that is a common look for my lil one.
Gabby on the other hand just loved life today and was sooooo good, yay!

So that was my Good Friday! Was your Friday good too?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Stamps Aren't Just for Scrapbooking Anymore!!!

     I feel like I am so lucky to be surrounded by great, smart, funny women who also have kindergarteners at Gabby's school. Everyday we wait for our little ones to get released from their teachers and have a wonderful time talking to each other and sharing tips and tricks to life. Since we are all from different walks of life, there is so much to learn from one another and right now I am going to share a really cool family activity that I learned about last night from my friend Heidi.

      While discussing activities that our Girl Scout Troop could do (did you know that I am a Daisy Leader?) Heidi mentioned an activity called Letterboxing which I have never heard of. Basically it is similar to Geocaching but minus the GPS and instead of trinkets it is a treasure hunt for stamps. This is the Wikipedia definition:
Letterboxing is an outdoor hobby that combines elements of orienteeringart, and puzzle solving. Letterboxers hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly-accessible places (like parks) and distribute clues to finding the box in printed catalogs, on one of several web sites, or by word of mouth. Individual letterboxes usually contain a notebook and a rubber stamp. Finders make an imprint of the letterbox's stamp, either on their personal notebook or on a postcard, and leave an impression of their personal stamp on the letterbox's "visitors' book" or "logbook" — as proof of having found the box and letting subsequent letterboxers see who have visited. 
Apparently this has been going on since the 1800's!!!  For me it is super appealing because there is no GPS involved, there are tons in our area and when we travel we can still do it, and it is very family friendly. Sound like fun?? Here are some resources to help you get started:

How to Make Your Own Stamp   (if you don't want to buy one!)
AtlasQuest   (Where you find letterbox clues in your area and other places)

My goal is to make our family stamp this week since it is Spring Break here... I am trying to decide between something Buddhist and something having to do with our Vibram FiveFingers since it is an outdoors activity... or maybe I will make two stamps and see which one I like more!! Oh, and the photo above is what a page from your notebook would look like... cool huh???

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