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Friday, April 30, 2010

Not Expecting that!

No sooner than I had closed the browser from my last post, I felt something wet and the little furry paws of my kitty cat. I looked down, she was gone already. Spinning in my chair, there she was behind me, little legs hanging out of her mouth. She caught another lizard! That would be lizard number three in my house!!! I think we can safely say that the cat was how they got in the other two times. We thought they got in and she simply found them and decided to play.
Of course she dropped the bugger! I ran for a cup or whatever I could find. When I came back it had burrowed its head in a piece of fabric under the table. I put the cup over top so I could find something to put underneath, but simply couldn't resist the camera for a sharing moment! Aren't you glad!?!
Simply disregard the mess on the floor. I had a slow start today and didn't get the vacuuming done, like I always do first thing in the morning (wink*wink)  Anyone want to move to Arizona now?


Proof that I saved the guy before he became lunch. Judging by the tail, I think he is one of the guys we had in here before!  Yuck.  I feel gross!  Madison isn't hungry anymore :0)

What a Day, BABY!

On a lighter note, we had a baby shower last night for a sweet new mom, who is rather new to the area, to feel some love and meet some ladies from around here.  Her darling little girl, Sapphira-same name as the dragon in Aragon :0) is 7 weeks old.  None of my children have ever been that small, ever.  She was like 5 lbs when she was born.  At 7 weeks, I think she is 7 something.  Anyway, I just thought I would run down some of the decorations since I did such a horrible job of taking pictures last time.  We re-used some decorations since we decided to do the shower like two weeks ago, and then I made some new ones.
This was the table.  I should have put the extra cupcakes somewhere else.  Technically I was not in charge of this shower, thank goodness, so I just put things where told.  That is my first attempt at a cupcake bouquet. 
A little closer...
I made those fabric baby blocks out of scraps from Madison's Paris quilt.  I was thinking about making them and then, like two days ago, I saw that one of my favorite bloggers POSTED them on her site!  Thanks for the info and encouragement!  I put bells in mine so they would be noisy too.  Had I thought about it sooner, I would have appliqued some kind of cutesy flowers or something on the sides.

I made cake pops.  I have quite a lot to say about that.  They were a pain, and I had a casualty!  My last glass bowl, the only one not broken by the children-sniff, sniff :0( 

So, you bake a cake, any kind of cake. Let it cool. Next, take two forks and rip that baby to shreds. That is right! Tear it apart until all that remains is a pile of crumbs. Dump it into a large bowl, along with a container of frosting. Honestly, I chose carrot cake(usually do chocolate) because I had a box that had been hanging around a while and was begging to get off the shelf. Added a container of cream cheese frosting. Wasn't sure I would like it, but the pops were a HUGE hit. Anyway, mix the crumbs and frosting together until completely combined. Roll(I use my cookie scooper) into balls about 1 1/2 inches, stick a sucker stick in the business end, then freeze. I froze mine over night. That is the best tip I can give you! When I was dipping the pops, I had the tray on the counter. When the bowl hit the floor, dip splattering everywhere, mom crying, a whole lot of time went by. The balls ended up thawing, then the sticks were popping through the tops, through the chocolate. Aaarghh! I even eventually pulled the sticks out and just dipped them as balls. I have been making cake balls as a Christmas treat for a couple years. Adding the sticks definitely adds stress. Just make sure your balls stay frozen. Clean minds ladies!

As far as dipping, the pink were dipped in the Wilton Candy Melts.  I personally think it is too thick.  The next batch was dipped in almond bark.  That was way better.  It is thinner, spreads over the places you miss.  Only problem is that it keeps dripping.  I was resting the balls on my cooling rack, sticks down through the holes, and the bark dripped and cooled to the rack.  I lost several pops when I tried to pry the balls off the rack.  I am so glad you don't have a dirty mind like the rest of my friends and family.  I am not sure I can take much more of this ball talk.  Oh, if adding sprinkles, sprinkle when the chocolate is still wet.
Long story short, have chocolate nearby for emergency stress relief...and don't be to set on the professional results the Bakerella gets...at least, I know I am not that good!  She definitely has a Fairy-Cakepop Godmother!

Finally, you can see the top of my beaded ball (there you go again) behind the sign.  At someone else's house you can't just go punching holes in ceilings to hand your decorations, I guess, that is what they tell me anyway.
I made this sign for the baby.  I took a scrap piece of wood, drilled holes for the ribbon you can only barely see (there for her to hang it with at home), and painted it brown-all sides.  When dry, painted it pink, three coats.  I printed out her name in a font I liked, cut out the letters and used the paper outside as a stencil.  I stippled the letters with the same brown I used to paint the sign.  When dry again, I sanded the whole top lightly to make it all blend in and bring out some of the base brown.  Finally I hot glued the flowers, gems, and tied on the ribbon.  I loved the look of it on the table and the mom was WAY excited to get to take it home.
Here is my cupcake bouquet.  I posted the instructions last night if you want to know how I did it.  Next to that are the cake balls I dipped in almond bark.  YUMM!
Last minute I decided to make this banner.  It was rather quick.  I finally decided to do it in paper cause the shower was at someone else's house and I know how funny some people can be about putting nails in the wall so it needed to be light enough for tape.

Our lovely host hung our flower balls from the sides of her curtain rod.  Here is a closer look, finally.
This is the one Madison did, bravely sacrificing most of the flesh on one finger to the glue gun.  She did rolled flowers out of streamers.  This picture doesn't do it justice.  It is simply breathtaking. 
Here is my rather lame flower one.
I made over a hundred flowers that did not turn out breathtaking. I will not be making one of these again.
On the table a few pictures back is the third ball.  We hot glued a string of beads to it and then spray painted it white.  Very cute!

All in all, a cute, shower on a budget of scraps for a sweet new mommy in the neighborhood.

It's John Day!

This is a picture of myself and my little brothers and sisters from back there in Minnesota.  This picture was taken at Christmas 2003.  Little did we all know that just after Easter, we would never be all together again.  My brother John, middle of the back row, was killed in a car accident April 30th, 2004. I so can't believe it has been that long.  I so can't believe it still brings so much pain, so many tears to think that he is gone.  6 years the world has been turning without him. 
John was the kind to jump into life with both feet. 
As children, he was my biggest confidant and my biggest foe. 
Uncle John was always excited to see Madison and Eli.  They loved their crazy Uncle John.  He would style their hair and chase them around the house.  He shared his love of music with them.  They loved him.
My mom posted this on her facebook page today.  I love it.  Here are all three of my missing brothers.  John, gone from this world, Chris and David sacrificing their own plans and lives to serve our country in Iraq. 

John taming the wild animal cousins-sadly not a very clear picture-even sadder, one of the very few pictures I have of John.

As we grew, we went in different directions, but John and I always shared those years and memories.  When John died, I not only lost him, I also lost huge pieces of myself.  My little brother remembered everything, and I remember almost nothing of our youth.  He remembered every moment and detail about the life we shared.  Now that he is gone I no longer have that link to my past.

I wanted to remember him today.  I want to remember the happy, not the sad.  When loved ones pass from this life, I don't think the very thought of them should be sad.  I have termed April 30th, 2010 as John Day.  It is my day to remember the crazy kid my brother always was, and how much I love him still today.

Crazy things I want to remember:
Him in his leisure suit after church trying to sell me his broken toy-age 4
John telling Mom I ate all the chocolate chips when it was HIM!(he finally admitted it one day)
Our late night sleepovers-we spent hours writing letters one each other's backs and tried to guess what each other wrote
Him being dragged behind the dog when he was supposed to be walking the thing(not the other way around)
A really good hug when John was having a hard time-age 12
Around the campfire at the family vacations
John spiking Eli's hair when Eli was 6 weeks old
The Easter Egg hunt I insisted on my brothers and sisters participating in 2 weeks before he died

I love you John

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Baby's Cupcake Bouquet!

My first attempt at a cupcake bouquet and I have soooo much to tell you!
First, how I started out...

I made one box of Golden Vanilla, died pink for our guest of honor, and one box of Milk Chocolate.  I threw some white cupcake liners into my very rustic muffin pan.
I took two 1/4c measuring cups, one in each bowl, and poured them both into the same cubby at once.  That was how I got....
THIS!  I won't go any closer in case this totally grosses you out.  Cake Batter = YUMM
Bake.  Here is a tip, if you are going for big round tops, preheat the oven to some insane temperature, like 425 or 450, and bake those cuties for 5 minutes, then lower the temp back to 350 (i turn off my electronic oven, turn it right back on to 350 and set the timer for the remaining time-don't just leave your oven open or anything like that :0)
When the 5 min is up, lower to 350 and finish for another 11-15 min.  PLEASE start at 11 minutes.  Nothing worse than rock hard cupcakes!  OK, lots worse, but not when you are making a cupcake treat!

So, on to the bouquet part.  I read and read online.  Most sites tell you to use a pot, terra cotta pot for plants, and stick a styrofoam ball in it.  You stick popsicle sticks into it, then shove the cupcakes on those.  After the LEGO Head Cake incident, I am much more leery about pushing the force of gravity on cake!  I opted for the make-a-cup-bouquet-and-stick-ur-cupcakes-in-them technique.  More on that later...
Since I had not a huge terra cotta pot, I used a no.10 can.  I buy tomatoes from Costco when I cook for millions and clean out the cans to use to keep my project leftovers in.  I emptied out one of those, lined it with paper, and hot glued a cardboard plate to the top.  Then I turned the thing over, not trusting the glue that actually stuck to the rim, and added another ridge of glue.  Theory: if the glue doesn't stick on top, hopefully the ridge of glue around the outside will keep the plate from sliding to the floor, maybe.
Like-a-dis!

Now is where we get very weird and where the swearing comes in.  A new stapler is on my buy-me list now after this step.  It doesn't help that I bought my stapler in 1994, abused it several years, and don't think it even started out working.  Moving on... Start with 5oz plastic cups.  If you can, buy them in white.  Mine were clear, not a problem, but white will be that much nicer.  I don't actually think that the 5oz were big enough.  I think I would have gone for 9 or something like that.  My muffin tins are of the average size, but my cupcakes were like my little girl into her shorts, it was a shoving battle between me and the container!  The 5 worked, but I did have a couple pop out occasionally.  So, staple them together.  You assemble like this: one in the middle, staple 6 around the outside of that one, staple 8 more together in twos, then staple those 2s to the 6.  If there is room, not on mine, you can do one more around the outside.  The instructions I found said 19 cups, I only fit 18.  Also, I decided to cut the bottom off of my cups.  Personal Preference, don't know what it actually did, other than made the thing not quite as tall-more room underneath.  You should end up with something like this...
I hot glued my flower-like cup sculpture to the top of the cardboard plate.  I finally, at this point, figured out what they meant when they said to put it on a plate.  I thought somehow this cup thingy was supposed to fit into a pot.  It does not!  Glue to a plate of some sort.  You could even skip the can on the bottom, whatever tickles your tummy.

To add a little filler, hiding my cups, I hot glued tulle to the edge.  Don't know how much, I think about 1/4 yard, doubled over.  Cut off the little bit extra, cut it into 4 squarish pieces, then hot glued into spaces here and there like this:
Ignore the sucker stick.  I was using it instead of my flesh to push the tulle into the holes once it was covered in glue.

Next, for no reason what-so-ever, other than I thought the plate would look funny just hovering over the can, I glued tissue paper underneath, to the can, then tied a ribbon around it, then another, to hold the tissue in place where I wanted it.
This is what I ended up with:
It looks like one of those recycled crafts my grandma would bring home from her summer in the RV park.  Except hers had Christmas lights in the middle of the cups-minus the pink ribbon too.

I frosted the cupcakes with my biggest star tip, not the big one-no.21, the even bigger one that is too big for a coupler.  Start in the middle, go in a swirl, around and around until it looks like these below.  It was recommended, and I SECOND big time, that you do your cupcakes ahead of time so they get crusty and hard-ish so you can move them around without destroying the design.  I actually fit mine in the freezer until it was time to go.
For some reason blogger won't let me show this picture in large...very frustrating. 
Anyway, I was all proud of myself because I took way better pictures at the shower tonight, then realized that this is like the only one I got of the bouquet.  Oh, here is this one too:
Good luck. You have to try this! You can do it the other way if you want, but let me know how it goes!

*Update* I posted a new was to make a cupcake bouquet HERE!  Check it out :0)

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Playroom Additions

Here is our latest playroom addition.  It is a dress-up mirror.  The idea was first conceived when I got totally fed up with the mini trampoline leaning against the wall in our front room/playroom.  Next to it was the baby gate, or at least my version of it-a 1/4 piece of beaded plywood held up by my milk jug.  With a very strong desire to create a home for these two things, and a huge one at that, I headed to Goodwill Half-Price Saturday with what was left of the paycheck.  My idea was to use a half sheet of beaded plywood, put a mirror and some hooks on it, make a cabinet out of the back, and call the front a dress-up station.  Then it could serve two purposes. 

I first found a smallish mirror with weird southwest iron designs on the top.  It was $6.  I did figure I could just tie tons of ribbons on the top.  I knew I should wait for a better mirror/better price, but just didn't want to.  In a last minute, "Madison, stand here in line while I run back to the furniture one more time" moment I found this baby!  And guess what....only $7.  That is right.  This mirror is almost 4'X4'-totally huge-What was I thinking!!!  Oh well, it came home with us anyway.  There the thing sat in the garage for a month or two while I tried to figure out just how to do it.  Finally on Saturday, I pulled it out and began my work.  I made a frame out of 2x2's and 1x2's, nailed the mirror to the front, and filled in any missing places with 1x6's.  I am sure someone else could have done a better job, but I am happy.  My plan is to put another level of shelves on top, then cover it all with a frilly girly curtain held up by a scalloped curtain box.  Then I decided I really wanted drawers underneath to hold the displaced toys.  Both those things will need to wait for MO MOney, so this is all you get right now.
I ran frantically to Home Depot last night to buy screws for my metric drawer pulls.  They were 1/2" too short, wouldn't you know it!  So, I will have to wait another who-knows-how-many-days before I can finish this project, but I did get it this far!  I used some old shutters for the doors.  About 3yrs ago I found one of those old western shutter doors at Goodwill.  You know what I am talking about?  The ones the bad guys swing through just before the gun fight begins?  Well that is what these started out as.  I moved those things twice just knowing deep down in my heart I would find a worthy home for them one day.  I simply cut the hump off the top and ShaZam!  Doors for a dress-up closet!  It's like they were born for this.
I don't know what those streaks are in the mirror.  They aren't there when you are standing there.  Must be a flash thing.  I decided to put my cute quilt up there until the top is inevitably taken over by toys.  I wonder if I can avoid that....hmmmm...
I put a magnetic latch(surprisingly easy to install-like, even my Minnesota-hot glue gunning-mother could do it :0) The thing only cost $0.89, so buying two was pretty !cheep! for the satisfaction they will provide.  Do you like the red ribbon I put in the drawer-pull holes?  Why did those screws have to be too short!!!
You guessed it!  No trampoline!  Just toys!!!!  The trampoline ended up in the garage because the kids live in the cupboard now! That is right.  My children and every other neighborhood kid (and there were many here in the last two days) spent their whole day in this cupboard opening and shutting doors, turning the lights on and off since the light switch is right outside the door, and calling "Mom" so I would come, open the door and they could try and scare me by yelling when I opened it.

Long Story short, love the cupboard.  Looks kind of like a fireplace.  Emms is either standing on her potty-foot stool rubbing her fingers all over the mirror or inside the cupboard where I envisioned the trampoline living.  Trampoline has been exiled to the garage.  Oh, and I have to go back to Home Depot...Again.

This is my other project from that same day at Goodwill.  Found this desk for $6!!!  I went looking for an entertainment center to make into a kitchen.  Decided this would do.  I have made an oven, put more shelves in for a fridge/freezer, made a microwave spot for on the top, and painted the whole thing.  My doors are cut, I am just trying to decide whether to add beaded ply to the fronts to make them more decorative, then figure out what accent painting I want to do.  With a baby shower, a skirt to make, did I mention school to do-I really do teach my children on occasion-all to be done by the weekend, the kitchen is not getting done anytime soon.  We won't even mention the special favors that have been exchanged for a light over the sink that operates on a switch-you did read the whole "Crock" post, right?

Stay tuned...

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Musical Praise

Are you a music teacher?  My friend Jennifer is and she asked if I might have an idea in my head she could use.  She is the world's best piano teacher, her studio is simply AMAZING, and wanted a reward for her students that managed to memorize their recital piece.  Here is what I came up with.  My goals, cute, fun for the kids to receive, but CHEEP-I mean, affordable :0)

First, the window tent card.  Notice the lovely scalloped edge, sanded cardstock(found at Joanns 40% off last week*), then let your eyes settle in on all that chocolate  YUM YUM

Gum.  BUBALICIOUS to be exact.  I got it at the dollar store, sold in a bag 4 for $1
I think Jennifer is "chews"ing to use this one for the bribe.

This is a little cake was irresistible!  I had to make it.  Can the Caker in me actually resist the opportunity to make a cake, and a fake one at that!?!  The bottom plate is made of wood, cardboard core, and as below...
FILLED WITH CANDY!!!  Ka-Ching!  Kids around the world are smiling as we speak!  I think I may have enticed Jennifer to go for these too!
My marshmallow pops or another treat of your choice with a stylish layered-paper topper finished off with a saying of your choice.

POP!!!  Got this IBC root beer from the dollar store-it was actually $0.59 each.  They also had Jones grape soda in a glass bottle.  This idea can work great for a pop can as well.

Without the ribbon so you can read it... 

Wooden note magnets!  Painted black then modge podged the paper on the front.  You could even put a little saying or picture on these cute little babies.
Can you say Bigga!  This guy is about 8" tall, 4" wide and can be used as a magnet or put a little hinge and a leg on the back and use him as a standing frame.  I would have put my darling 8yr old piano-playing face on there, but alas, I have not a scanner and that darling memoir is not digital :0(
That is why you get a piece of paper. 
Wooden pianos!  Cut out of 1/4" wood.  Painted black.  Ready to be a magnet, frame, or a lovely pin for your student's shirt.

Here I added a little white line for the keyboard and the empty space on the pedal part.  I can't decide if I like it better all black or with the white lines.  Anyway, Hope that gives you some ideas Jennifer!  If anyone else is interested in the wood or labels, they will be on my etsy site very soon.  You can wait for that, or email me now!!!  Happy Musicing!