Sunday, October 23, 2011

Halloween treats

While the rest of the hip world gets their ideas from Pinterest, I am still reading magazines to gather some inspiration.  I never overlook the value of a good craft find in Better Homes and Gardens.  It's really just another sign that I am getting old.  In my defense, Better Homes and Gardens publishes some great ideas and even has a monthly highlight of one of the up-and-coming DIY blogs out there.
I guess that doesn't make me that old.
These Halloween treats were just to cute to pass up.  Here is the step-by-step guide - broken down into 5 easy steps (because I'm usually intimidated by any project that requires more than 5 steps or involves pages and pages of directions):

1. Prepare any flavor cake mix according to the package directions (I used traditional vanilla cake mix).  Cool, then remove cake from pan and crumble into a large bowl.  Add one cup of frosting (homemade or store-bought).  Beat with a mixer on low speed to combine.
2. Roll into 1 to 11/2 inch balls.
3. Melt an ounce of vanilla candy coating in the microwave.  (These are the little wafer-like chocolates that you can purchase at Michael's or A.C. Moore.)  Dip one end of the pop stick in the candy coating, then carefully push into the cake ball.  Repeat.  Freeze one hour to set.
4. Melt about 2 lbs. of vanilla candy coating in the microwave - stirring occasionally to melt.  Dip pops into the coating.
5. While the coating is still soft, create creatures with chocolate chips (or anything else you desire).  I stuck with the ghosts - the other options were a cute, but complicated.
 Now the real trick in creating these cool pops, is keeping your 2-year old lion away from them.  A few little ghouls didn't quite make it to our neighborhood Halloween parade...

And this poor little polar bear is wondering when he will be able to enjoy these treats.  
Next year buddy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Simple stitches

My project list keeps growing, but I have come to terms with the fact that I can only perform very simple tasks at this point in my life.  The pillows and curtains have taken a back seat to bows and onesies.  I need predictable projects.  Ones that take less than an hour, ones that I can leave and come back to, ones that don't require dangerous tools (yes, I've had to put away my chain saw, but I do have one great project post coming up that does include some major cutting), and ones that serve a daily functional purpose.  Here are some of my latest - inspired by the ongoing 2011 baby boom (which has involved the birth of about 10 boys and only 2 girls in our circle of friends).  I've had to get creative in the onesie department to tone down the frills and make them boy-worthy.  A simple name is always a good option that again optimizes my love for personalization. If it were up to me, all clothing would be monogrammed.  It's like my secret wish that all of life was really a musical and we could break out into song on a whim.
 Austin and Charlie were my recent models...
Baby Ryan has just entered the world and will soon grow into his onesie.
And if you see Julia on a typical day, you will most likely see her with her hair in her face.  She has the cutest haircut (which she is quite proud of), but her bangs just haven't figured out how to grow themselves out.  For the amount of bows that I have made this child, one might think that she should be all set, but she typically pulls them out in moments of frustration or just for the heck of it.  The 'hair in the face' look is her signature style.  Here is a rare moment when she is put together:
This bow is adorable and so easy to make.  I drew from a few bow designs on this Prudent Baby post.  For those of you just learning how to sew, this is a great one.  
Sorry to ruin the surprise, but for anyone close to me, this is likely your baby gift if you are expecting in the near future :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

it figures...

Yesterday will go down in history as the most productive day as a mother of 2.  I had a beautiful, "I can do this" moment as I was sitting down on the couch feeding Charlie, with a meal simmering on the stove, trying to look up another recipe for an easy dinner to freeze, with laundry in the washer, and two projects drying on the kitchen table.  This sense of awe over this accomplishment is magnified by the fact that we were just away for the week - out of our element in the wonderful state of Florida with my family.  We made so many preparations for this trip, but as many parents know, the best of preparations do not quite prepare you for the unexpected potential of 2 little ones. 
Well, traveling was seemless.  Julia did great when she hunkered down with a DVD player and Charlie opted to sleep through the whole traveling ordeal.  Florida was amazing.  I couldn't have asked for anything more than time with my family!  We prepared dinners everynight, indulged in Julia's daily request for time on the beach, took Charlie in the ocean for the first time, and Charles and I even had some time together and stole away to a beach bar (or 2).  This may sound like a naiive statement, but I never thought that I was capable of feeling so much like a fun adult at this stage of parenthood.  So, we are home, unpacked, and ahead of our game. 
I can just hear the announcer:
"...and the parents swing into the lead!"
I will run the bases slowly and relish this pull ahead from behind.

Next week I return to work. Maternity leave is over.  Ugh, just when I felt like I was on top of things.
Once again we will teeter on the brink of trying juggle priorities while managing a busy schedule. Sometimes I feel like just when I am at the end of my "to do" list, it starts all over again. In the end, I just have to remind myself that productive days are a luxury. We are all happy...most of the time, everyone is fed and content...pretty much always, the housework will get some point, I don't need to run away with the lead on this one :)

Here are some snapshots of our week in Florida.  Since we had a newborn this summer, this vacation was our mini summer all rolled up into one week.  Well worth the wait!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

On our time.

It's here.  Several months late, but it made it to production.  It's the Gray-year - the one that spans from June to June (conveniently, since every great event in our marriage seems to occur within a 4 week span between June and July).  I started a baby book for Julia, but after filling in the "firsts" and carefully noting every step in her development that I could possibly come up with, (yes, I have even documented her first scraped knee), the baby book is bursting at the seems.  I needed a new outlet to capture this phase of our lives.  This blog does just that.  It provides those little snapshots of our lives that never make the cut for the baby book, but are never-the-less greatly important.  This sums up the ups and downs of our life - it captures our learning curve, celebrates our minor victories (major in our minds), provides us an opportunity to look back and recognize where we were days, months, weeks ago and helps us to always remember the greatness found in those moments.  
I decided to put it to print so that each year is bound and available for review. My Publisher has a free publishing program to create your own book.  The software is free for download and once you create your design, the albums are great quality and very reasonably priced!  Every summer I take the blog, cut and paste pieces of the posts, add some pictures, and create a sum up of our year.  I honestly usually do this at the last minute - usually putting in hours and hours to finish at 11:59pm when the midnight MyPublisher discount is about to end.   
But it's here! Year TWO of this endeavor.
For those of you who also have a blog or for those who find yourself occasionally jotting down milestones, but aren't really sure what to do with it, these albums a another great way to categorize these precious events.  For me, there are many things that never make it to print - letters for Julia on her first birthday, notes from her babysitter that discuss her cute ways of letting us know that she is ready for potty training, thoughts to Charlie before his arrival...and then there are the recipes and silly little things from the blog that don't quite need republishing.  These yearly books capture everything in between.  Here you go - a little view of year two. 
And a happy new year to come! :)