Monday, November 21, 2011

My Christmas List

People (mainly Hubs) ask me all the time (not really) what I want for Christmas. There are always a few things I'm wanting. But it seems the second someone asks you, every thing you have ever wanted completely escapes your memory.

So... to make it easy (on myself!) I thought I'd post a list of what I'm hoping finds its way under my tree this year.






And away we go..

1. Some vinyl. I have a bunch of projects swimming around in my head that I'd really love to actually make.

2. Some fabric ink. See reason #1.

3. Some heat transfer material. See reason #1.

4. A Food Saver. Lots of people I know have them, and even more people recommend them. I think it would make my life a little easier.

5. A Keurig coffeemaker. I've lost my taste for coffee, but that's pretty normal for me during pregnancy. I have not, however, lost my taste for hot tea or hot cocoa. And I'm sure I'll get my taste for coffee back. I'm thinking one that brews multiple sizes of drinks (i.e. 4 oz, 6 oz, 8 oz, 10 oz, 12 oz), and one that has a large water resovoir.

6. A pretty casserole dish. A big one.

7. Fancy-pants kitchen cannisters.

8. Pretty much anything found at Pottery Barn or in the Willow House catalog.

9. A new set of king-size sheets. Preferably white or pale blue.

10. New pajamas. I just looooove new pajamas. I think I'm due for a pair in a toile print.

11. A Le Creuset (apparently "Le Creuset" is French for, "HOLD ONTO YOUR WALLET, SISTA!") dutch oven. (Side note: HOLY CRAP! I just looked at the price of these things, and all I can say is "WOW!") So it doesn't have to be "Le Creuset." Any pretty-colored enameled, cast-iron dutch oven would be nice. Lodge makes nice ones, I believe.

12. Fluffy white towels.

13. This chandelier. But Plow and Hearth doesn't have it listed anymore, so good luck finding it! Seriously, I've tried. So if you happen to find this chandelier and give it to me, you'll be my hero forever.

14. An embroidery machine. It's my list, and I can be as extravagant as I want with my wishes!

15. A NEW CAR!!! (yelled in Pat Sajak's voice) But not really. Because I absolutely loooooove my vehicle. And it was last year's Christmas gift. But it's not a car. Not by a long shot. Heh heh heh. But you can give me a gift card to any gas station! That would be great!

16. And... while I'm dreaming big, a pool for the new house. Specifically, this pool. The other items above I'm willing to take your choice on the sizes or colors, but I must put my foot down somewhere. And I choose here. I'm taking a stand, and I say if you get me a pool for Christmas, it should be this one.

SINCE WE TOOK OUR CONTRACT AND PAPERWORK TO THE MORTGAGE COMPANY TODAY!!!!!! YIPPPPPPPPEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!! We may actually have a home to put a pool behind very soon!!!

17. Since we're building a new home, Lowe's and Home Depot gift cards WOULD BE MOST APPRECIATED! Any little bit helps the bottom line.

18. While we're on the subject of our new home, I would love to have a Command Max HVLP Sprayer by Home Right. We have sooooooo many pieces that need to be painted (an unfinished pine armoire, two dressers, nightstands, beds, walls, exterior siding!) and the Command Max would make that job so much easier!

19. Apparently, the baby has developed a fondness for Whataburger fries. So a big orange "W" card wouldn't be inappropriate, either. You know, to nourish the baby. The BABY. NOT my bottom. Which seems to possibly be getting a little too much nourishment.

20. I have beautiful babies, and, since I'm about to have another one, I'd love a new camera lens. Specifically, the Canon EF lens, 50mm 1.8. It's a great lens for shooting portraits, or other subjects up close (read: cakes/crafts) and I have been wanting one for some time.
And, if Santa's not too busy, he could bring peace on Earth and goodwill to men and all that jazz.

But only after he brings me my pool.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stenciled Cake

I haven't posted many cake pictures lately... mainly because I haven't made any cakes lately. I've taken a bit of a break in cake-making, but I'm happy to report I'm back in the saddle again.

Which is not to say I won't take another break, if I so choose!

This cake was for a little girl turning two. Her mom wanted a sugar figure of her daughter, wearing a black t-shirt with a pink "2" on the front. She also wanted a rainbow pettiskirt on the girl.

The cake was to be two tiers covered in white fondant, with black damask, and pink accents... so here it is:

This was my first attempt at stenciling. I found a damask pattern I liked, cut it out, and stenciled black royal icing onto the white fondant.

It was by no means perfect, but I think it's a very pretty cake. Especially for a first try.

And I really love the bows. I think they make the cake look so sweet and girly.

Sometimes I have to put something in my sugar figures' hands, to cover a flaw in their fingers. This time, as I made her left hand, I thought, "Wow. I think that's my best hand ever." And then I made her right hand, and thought the same thing, so I put posed her with them spread on her skirt. My stepmom saw it, and the first thing she said was, "Wow! Her hands look really good!" So I figured it wasn't just me.

It was a really fun cake to do, but way more time-consuming than I counted on it being.

I had to wait for each stenciled section to dry completely before I could move on to the next section. It really added to the total decorating time.

But I think it was worth it this time!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Most Epic Post Ever

Exactly three months ago today, Hubs & I helped my dad and stepmom move my grandpa and his wife into a nursing home. 

It was a difficult day for so many reasons. It was unbearably hot, being the first week of August. They weren't really ready to go, either. Not physically, anyway. Nothing had been packed or cleaned, and there weren't any boxes to put their belongings into. The fridge and pantry were full of food, and stuff was everywhere.

Grandpa is nearly blind, and Marie has Alzheimers, so that didn't make things any easier.

But the hardest part of the day came, not when we loaded up the trucks and trailer, but as I unpacked my Grandpa's shirts, and hung them in his new closet. It just broke my heart, condensing his entire life into such a tiny little room, barely big enough for their beds and comfy chairs.

That's when the tears came for me. It was just really, really hard to face the fact that this was his last move.

But God makes all things beautiful, and out of that difficult day, Hubs and I both were extremely blessed.

We got such a sense of family and joy, knowing how much we were blessing Grandpa, and even my parents. My dad was just getting over being really sick, and there was no way my stepmom could have done all that by herself. I love knowing I was there for Grandpa on such a hard day. I got some special time with him, and loved on him, and I wouldn't trade that for anything.

Since he and Marie would have hospital beds provided by the nursing home, my parents asked if we would like their twin beds to give to the boys.

Funny thing is, the day before they made the offer, I had been thinking about looking for twin beds to buy for them. I went so far as to list their crib bedding sets on e-Bay that night!

So after a long, difficult day, we were blessed with twin beds for the boys, and even a new couch for the playroom!

Now I had a new challenge: outfitting the boys' new beds with matching bedding.

I really love a quilt a friend made for Cavan when he was born, and wanted to attempt something similar.

I started searching for the fabrics. Since the fabric collection was in stores more than two years ago, they were all discontinued. It took many, many late nights, looking at quilt fabrics online, but I finally found and ordered what I needed. There was only one fabric that was completely unavailable, and the pony print had been changed a bit, but other than that, I came pretty close.

My stepmom is a talented quilter, and she gave me some pointers that I never would have figured out on my own. I cut out a few pieces, and sewed my first quilt block. It wasn't perfect, but it gave me the confidence that I'd be able to make an actual quilt.

The next day, my parents came over, and my stepmom helped me cut out all the pieces for two twin quilts! She showed me how to sew them together quickly, and that day we got 36 (3/4) of the blocks sewn together. She was at the table cutting, and I was at the machine, sewing. It went so much faster than I ever dreamed it would.

I sewed all the blocks into strips, and then sewed the strips into one huge piece. That took an afternoon; again, way faster than I thought. The next week, she came back and helped me put all the sashing and pony print borders on.

I cut all the remaining fabric into strips and pieced the backs together in an afternoon.

Then I bought all the finishing supplies and went to her house to quilt them. I had NO IDEA what I was in for!

She showed me (and added CONSIDERABLE help!) how to lay out the fronts and backs and sandwich them with the batting. Then it was time to start quilting.

I did it on her fancy-schmancy machine, and I'm so glad I did! It was physically exhausting, pulling the quilts tight, and feeding them through the machine. They got very unwieldy, very quickly.

My stepmom is a very good, very patient teacher, and I would never have gotten as far as I did without her.

Before I did the quilting, she embroidered each boy's name on the back,

along with a little label (right below each name) that has the date, and who made the quilt.

The labels were the perfect finishing touch, but they make me laugh a little. I'm not going to show them to you, because they have both our last names on them, but they say I made them "with help" from Grandma.

And to that I say: "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!"

I think it's actually the other way around. These quilts would still be nothing but a pile of fabric if it weren't for her.

She also finished them both for me, sewing the binding on by hand.

They look AMAZING.

I couldn't be happier with them.

The boys slept on them last night for the first time, and they were a hit! Which is shocking. Both boys are pretty set in their ways (at 2 and 4!) and I thought I would have to confiscate the blankets they've been sleeping with.

It's late, and I'm sick, so I'm going to wrap this novel up.

But I just wanted to show off my latest projects! They're something I never, ever thought I'd be able to do.

And I wouldn't have, without Pat.

Thanks, Pat. I love them, and you, too!

Friday, November 4, 2011

It's Here! It's Here! It's Heeeeeeeeeeere!!!

Once we finalized our blueprints, and started talking contracts with our builder, we began looking at all the things that finish a home.

I have been spending mucho, mucho time online, looking at light fixtures and faucets and chandeliers, and kitchen sinks.

I want a farmhouse sink, one large enough to wash my largest cake pans, cookie sheets and canning pots with ease.

So Hubs and I started looking. I found an exceptionally "average" sink somewhere on the Net (don't remember where now) and was determined that it would be the one. Because it was cheaper than any other sink I had found. Which is Hub's love language. Not spending money. :)

But then he showed me this:

And I died. My search was over. Forget that run-of-the-mill, so-very-ordinary stainless-steel sink, even though it did have a rounded apron. This was The. One.

And then I saw the price.

And got sick.

But that could have been the baby in mah bellah, because she's been making me quite sick since before I even learned she was there.

I knew there was NO. WAY. Hubs was going to spend that much money on a kitchen sink. A sink, for goodness' sake. I was so disappointed, and, truth be told, annoyed that he had even showed me the thing in the first place. I knew no other sink could ever hope to measure up. I knew someday, I'd be washing dishes at my run-of-the-mill, so-very-ordinary stainless-steel sink, and think back to the sink that all sinks dream of being when they grow up.

And my heart broke, just a little.

Well, it broke a lot.

I saw the dream of that sink being in my very own kitchen go swirling down the drain. Pun intended.

The next day, Hubs told me to order it.

And then I checked his temperature.

And made him take some Tylenol anyway, cause the boy just HAD to be delirious.

And then I stopped looking a gift horse in the mouth and did the dance of joy.

In exactly two months, we'll be celebrating our 15 year anniversary, and this is his gift to me. Nevermind the annoying little fact that he keeps telling me my real gift from him is the gift of life.

Har. Har. Har.

The traditional 15 year gift is crystal; the modern gift is watches. I think he did waaaaaay better than either of those.

My beautiful, glorious sink arrived today!!!



I'ts handmade, hammered copper, with a nickel-plated accent behind raised scrollwork.

So... it's our first new-home purchase!!!

And, yes, we actually did buy a kitchen sink before the foundation has been poured.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

He Cracks Me Up!

Tonight, it's supposed to get pretty cold here.

And by "cold," I mean down to 38. I think it's the first time it's dipped that low since last winter. We're all eagerly anticipating the colder temperatures, but it gets rough for Bo.

He's a Golden Retriever, and will be 14 years old this December. Hubs and I bought him on our first anniversary.

He's a great dog, but his age is really catching up with him. Sometimes his joints bother him, and he stumbles when he climbs the porch steps.

Christian noticed him doing it tonight.

"Dad, Bo was having trouble getting up the steps tonight," she said.

Hubs told her she should give him a baby aspirin.

"Okay. How do I give it to him?"

"In his heinie."

There was absolutely no hesitation when she said, "I think I'll pass."

We actually had to go find her, to tell her to just wrap it up in a piece of bread so he would eat it!

I don't remember the last time I laughed so hard.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween, 2011

Fall is always busy around here.

That was dumb.

Fall is busy for everybody.

Halloween weekend is particularly busy. I'll get on with it now.

You're welcome.

First up, was Red Ribbon Week. Christian's school did all the crazy dress-up themes like all the other schools do. But Friday was different. She was one of three fourth-graders in her class to be selected to walk in the school Red Ribbon parade. Each grade chose a different theme for their part in the parade. Fourth graders dressed up as famous/notable Texans. She was asked to dress as Barbara Bush.

I bought a suit off e-bay and borrowed some pearls. I found a wig at a costume shop that was the right shape, but it was dark brown. No problem, right? I had Hubs spray-paint it white. Only, it didn't turn out white. It looked more like Amadeus. So I had to figure something else out. In the end, I sewed an old pair of her white tights closed, and hot-glued unrolled cotton balls all over it.

She had so much fun, wearing that get-up to school!

Here, she's waving to her little brothers, who are bouncing up and down with excitement over seeing their big "Stister" walking in the parade. They thought she was all that and a bag of chips. And, truth be told, so did I. I was actually choked up watching her. Dumb, I know, but I'm one proud Momma.

Hubs worked so much last week, that he took the day off to join us. He chased her down for one last picture. She was so proud that her Daddy was there!

After school, it was time to get dressed for Aunt Laura's annual Halloween party. Didja hear the one about a cheerleader, a pirate and a sheriff? No? Me neither.

For all his wanting to be a pirate for the last two weeks, Cavan wanted NOTHING to do with his costume. But did I spend all that time, energy and money putting together his costume, only to let him go in jeans? Why no, no I did not.

We dubbed him, "Pirate McAngrypants."

Laura's party always starts with pictures.

I just love the little vignette she came up with! It makes even my kids look sweet and wholesome and innocent.

We never got the "money" shot, but we got a few cute ones.

My friend Nikki and her little guy Eli came this year. He was supposed to be a "Yeehaw," which translates to a cowboy in toddler-speak. But he had Cavan's attitude, and didn't want to put on his costume. Nikki is much nicer than I, and didn't force him. I did, however, receive a text and picture from her, saying they decided on a Texas Ranger... and I must say, he's the cutest little Texas Ranger I ever laid my eyes on!

We ate a bunch of food... Cavan ate a bunch of "pops,"... we visited and enjoyed a bonfire... and went home to crash.

Saturday evening, the kids donned their costumes again, for our town's 16th annual Scare on the Square. Kids trick-or-treat along the town square, and play games, go on hayrides, eat lots of junk, enter costume contests, and then sprawl on blankets and watch a movie projected on an exterior wall of one of the local businesses. It is so much fun. Especially the movie. We bought hot chocolate and popcorn and wrapped up tight, trying to stay warm.

Christian and Cullen are speed-walking to the square, despite our calls to wait for the rest of the family! There is CANDY to be had!!!

We stopped at the Library's table, where they had a lantern set atop a quilt. A high-school student read the Halloween book, "Hampire," to Cavvie, while he ate the candy they gave him.

Our sheriff always has a candy booth. He has a bowl of candy with a hand in it, and when the kids reach in for the candy, the hand clamps down.

Cullen got a kick out of watching others reach in...

But WOULD. NOT. reach in himself!

We bailed a little early on the outdoor movie. We were tired, cold and hungry... and Cullen had spilled an entire cup of hot chocolate on one of the quilts. So we ordered pizza and ate it while we watched "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," in the comfort of our jammies and warm living room. With the lights dimmed for effect. So it was all good. We still snuggled under blankets and got "all toesy," which is one of Cavvie's favorite things. He loves getting all toesy. Or, cozy, for those of you who do not speak toddlerese.

The Big Day finally arrived. Halloween. The night when children all over our great nation run from door to door and house to house, mindlessly grabbing as much candy as their treat bags will hold.

We started next door to the house we sold earlier this year. Which was one county over.

It's not often that you get your picture taken while trick-or-treating. At least by the person opening the door! Karon gave them suckers that are kind of a cross between ring pops and wax lips. They're ring pop-shaped lollies on one side, and the other has a crazy looking mouth. They were fun.

Next up, was my parents' house, another county over. Christian is SO. EXCITED. She's been wanting to go see them for a while.

They got the stuff from "the good bowl!" And even though it came from my parents, I still must do my own parental duty and thoroughly check those Whoppers, Snickers and Twix. Which sometimes includes a taste test. I'm not one to shirk my parental duties.

Grandma and I took the kids trick-or-treating in their neighborhood.

And this little guy got lazy REAL QUICK. He suckered Grandma into carrying him ALL NIGHT. She got a workout, I'll say that! He'd walk down the sidewalk to her, and jump into her arms, whether she was ready or not!

See that face? He knows EXACTLY what he's doing. Little con artist.

Then this little beauty queen showed up.

Along with the Red Power Ranger. He's really filled out since I saw him last.

They played and ate junk and enjoyed each other. And then we made them sit together for a picture. Cuties, every last one of them.

But, as all good things do, the night came to an end. We loaded up and headed home... which was FOUR counties away. I didn't realize that until we were on our way home. We drove four counties to take our kids trick-or-treating.

But we had fun, and that's all that matters.