Link up here if you're feelin' "easy" today!
Link up here if you're feelin' "easy" today!
Okay, so the mail has brought in packages lately that are of major delightfulness, so the stars of them have been photographed and are ready to share. I've been a busy little bee lately, so I have't had a chance to edit them 'til now. Wanna hear about it? And see some pictorial evidence? Awesome. Read on, then, ye three followers of me.
I totally stink at keeping presents from their recipients when I'm excited about giving them, so I've been, uh, kind of giving the kids the Christmas presents I swore I wasn't going to get (because we're doing Great Wolf Lodge again this year and, you know, I wanted to make it about memories and not stuff and all...), but since I have gotten them, and since, well, they were there when I opened this box from Disney, I couldn't really not gi-- oh, I'll just stop babbling and say that I got a kick-butt deal on these fleece blankets, with free shipping and personalization of their names, to boot! Jack got a Cars-themed one, Chloë's is Cinderella, and Sophia's was Tinkerbell. They LOVED them and carry them around all. the. time. WIN!
Mamacita, which is what MIL and I have decided I shall call her (after 10½ years or so) henceforth, sends us Hallmark Christmas ornaments each year. We have an awesome collection of them, thanks to her. This year's package arrived last week, so we all gathered 'round to see what she chose for us this time. Jack always gets a Santa in some sort of transportation, which thrills him to no end, and this year it was hot air balloon. So cute!
I will say two things: these pictures were taken in my cluttered, messy office-slash-craft room, but my excuse is that things are ALWAYS happening in here, so cut me some slack, will ya? And also, I did a poor job of focusing on the ornaments in several of these photos, but I didn't realize that until today, so since they're already put up in the attic until we set up the tree, I can't fix that. My bad. Chloë usually gets one to do with the year or her age, ever since birth, and she loves her little snowman guy!
Sophia's was, appropriately, a gymnast - with her name on it!! Love it!! Also, the tiaras the girls are wearing in these two pictures are from the same Grandma package, which is why they're wearing them here. They light up, too!
This one appears to have been handmade, but if there was a note about that, I missed it. Mamacita? I'm guessing it's from the childhood of Rob, at least, since we've gotten a few of those in the past as well. Isn't it cute?
Rob's an angler of great enthusiasm, so he's gotten lots of fishing-related ones over the years from his mama. Too bad the expression on his face took precedence over the ornament, because it's The Awesome. So many of these ornaments have such great detail, and this one is no exception!
Ditto the above, about his (hehe) expression and the clarity of the ornament. Boo, me. He always gets a Navy/military/patriotic-themed one, since he's been in the US Navy for about 18½ years, so this year he got a flagged-out Santy Claus.
I love, love, love, love, LOVE the ornaments Mamacita chose for me - not this year, but every year - because she puts such great thought into them (well, everyone's, not just mine, but you know what I meant, right?). IMHO, I saved the best for last, because look! Apropos of the baking business I started this year (which is on hiatus for the time being, although I'm starting to reconsider that idear), I received a Christmas-themed cupcake ornie. Sweet! (Heh. Sorry, pun-haters.)
Also, since we homeschool, Mamacita gave me this "World Class Teacher" one, with a laptop on the, well, top. I adore this!! So very cool. Thanks, Mom/Grandma, for the wonderful additions to this year's tree!
But that's not all that was in the box. There were a few things I forgot to photo, like the Thanksgiving tablecloth and napkins we put away already, but not this train set for Jack! He immediately opened it and started choo-chooing it all around the office and living room:
(Again, 'scuse my mess!)
Oh! This guy was in the box, too! He'll grace our table this Thursday. Mama-jamma, did you make this?
Oops, speaking of trains, this mini-set of ornaments (or should I say set of mini-ornaments? Yes, pretend I did) was included also, for the whole family's enjoyment. Isn't it darling? Maybe it'll go on the fireplace this year, all set up. Of course, Jack thought it was just for him, since he and his gram share a love of all things train.
I got this fabu book of recipes in the box, and don't you think I should make that gingerbread house? I've never made one, but I want to and think about it every single year. This might just be the one. We shall see, we shall see.
And last, but certainly not least, the kids received another one of these recordable books from Grandma, in which she reads the story aloud to them. This year, it's Under The Same Moon.
Sophia immediately sat down to enjoy the book, but the other kids, who had already danced away to other adventures downstairs, heard it and clamored for share-age. So she traipsed on down there, where they all sat around the book and listened to it approximately 18 times. And no, I'm not exaggerating. For once. They love these books from Grandma.
My dad sent a small package of trinkets and things for the kids and us, but I only managed to get this one of Sophie with the toy maze things - you know the ones? - she opted to get. She also chose the mini-Bible he sent, which the girls have sat down together to read on several occasions since then. Isn't that lovely?
I got a package I ordered from Old Navy, but it didn't contain the Christmas outfits I bought, so boo. They better come soon, because they're awesome. I mean, so we can take our holiday card photos ASAP, y'know?? Anway, there were a bunch of shirts I got myself on clearance, as well as four fleece hoodies for the girls, in this package. The lady-babies insisted on trying them on straight away, which is the sole reason I took their picture. Plus, they're cute, are they not?
And these are the other two. No, I didn't pose the girls; they linked arms of their own volition. ♥ Yes, Sophia is now taller than her sister, who is 3½ years older, which Chloë definitely does not appreciate. Sorry, darling.
Okay, so technically these three sundaes I made for the chirren didn't come in the mail, but the ice cream, caramel sauce and whipped cream did get delivered by Oberweis, so I'm including them in this post. Can you stand it? They look so good, I want to make (them?) some more right this minute!
Okay, so I made one for myself, too. I got about five bites in before I passed it to Rob - not because it wasn't delicious, because it was, as is every-dang-thing we have gotten from Oberweis. I didn't want to overdo it, though, because I have such a grumpy pouch!
And that is all. I have to go break up an argument. Oy.
Lately I've had several orders come in for You Take The Cake! - which is GREAT except for one very big problem: It's like, 900º out there (and in here), and we currently don't have air conditioning. We have a fan. That's it. You know what doesn't like heat and humidity? Buttercream frosting. You know what cakes are made with, lotsa times? Buttercream frosting. I've had to turn down a few jobs, or at least not pursue them, but I did take on some orders this week that I thought I could fill.
This one, above, was for a gentleman who was helping plan the baby shower for his wife and their first child, a little girl. She had mentioned petits fours to him, so he wanted to get some for her. We settled on 80, for 30 guests. He mostly left the rest up to my discretion, but he mentioned that his wife liked pink and green. So here's the breakdown:
40 Vanilla cakes + 40 Chocolate cakes
Of those, 20 were pink fondant, 20 were white, 20 were green, and 20 were chocolate - 10 of each cake flavor.
Of the vanilla cakes, half were layered with rich buttercream, while the other half were layered with hazelnut chocolate creme.
Of the chocolate, a third was the buttercream, a third was the Nutella (duh), and a third was homemade key lime curd, which turned out to be outrageously delicious. (I have more of that on refrigeration and will be looking for a good usage of it soon!)
The petits fours were oodles and oodles of work. If I'd known how much, I might've charged double! I will remember that in the future. They turned out bigger than I wanted them to be, but I could've easily controlled that. I chose to go with it, and after staying up all night, what, Thursday night, baking the cakes and filling them, I froze them and then spent Friday alternating between making up and dipping them in their various fondant coatings, and working on the baby blocks cake the client also wanted for the main cake, spelling out the baby's name.
As far as the petits fours, I asked my husband over and over if they looked okay, and over and over he said they looked great, very professional, blah blah blah. This man also tells me I have a sexy body, which I clearly do not if you have ever seen me in the nekkitude, so I accepted his assertions only with serious dubiousness. I mean, really, do they look okay?!
Once those were finished, nestled on their foil-covered boards and boxed, I kept them in front of the fan so they wouldn't turn into so many goobly gobs of pink and green poo, and turned my attention to the block cake.
Oh, the block cake. It should have been SO easy. Really, blocks? What's the trouble, bubble?
That damn humidity did a serious number on my buttercream. It just would NOT set. And my cakes, apparently they didn't like the barometric pressure in the house or something, because they kept crumbling in my hands. Which necessitated using MORE buttercream-as-glue to put it back together, and Oh, My Gosh, I literally sat there and cried when I saw that it was not just going to come together.
Other than my Topsy Turvy Cake Wreck (did I ever blog about that? It was fugly, but a fun practice effort), this was the hardest confection I think I have ever tried to put together.
I frantically emailed the daddy and told him of my predicament. He told me, take your time, and let me know if there's anything I can do to help. I retorted something like, "Yeah, bring me a stiff drink," or some such unprofessional inappropriateness.
Long story short, Mr. Client arrived while I was still tearing what's left of my hair out over the blocks cake and weeping in my buttercream, toting a bottle of rum and a, well, a very sexy smile. Rob was asleep upstairs. Whatever. He could have come down at any time and joined us, and we certainly didn't try to be quiet.
We raided my shot glass collection (as he laughed at my Ocean Breeze one, but hey, if I've been there, I want it represented in an inch and a half of two-dollar painted glass), and he poured us each a shot. Woo. I haven't done shots since college, maybe? Or maybe I have, but nothing so burn-y and wow-ee. You know that kind. They were nothing to him, but to li'l ol' me, they were quite the thing.
Of course, being post-gastric bypass, one shot and I was done. Toast. Positively inebriated. So you can imagine how I felt after five. Yes, five. I'm not proud. But it was fun.
In the end, he decided he couldn't accept the blocks cake, because it just didn't work out. And I didn't blame him, because really, it just didn't work out! I'm embarrassed to show you, but of course I'm going to, because that's all you want from me right now:
No, the "N" didn't really lean over that far; it was the angle of the picture. And no, it's not gasp-worthy or anything like that. But it's really, really not terrific.
Honestly, though, I did the best I could under the circumstances. And like Mr. Daddy (that sounds dirty, hee) said, "It's just a cake." He was very chill about the whole thing. You know I was waiting for him to leave so I could pop eleventy-five anti-anxiety pills, which I did, because it was all very stressful.
So in the end, while we did those five shots, I mashed up the cake and made him set up little bitty boxes. I turned the blocks into little cake balls, using the leftover pink fondant from the petits fours, and decorated each with a little pink florette. I told him he could toss those out the window on his way home, use them at the shower, or whatever-the-hell, but just take them to make me feel better.
And so he did.
P.S. I'm making him cookies for his birthday in a couple of weeks, and you know I can kill some cookies. And he promised I haven't lost his business. So it wasn't a total cake-tastrophe. Oh. Did I really just go there? I think I did.
P.P.S. Totally forgot: He said the petits fours were a hit at the shower. So yay. I'm not a total screw-up!
... But some days, it could be changed to "Melancholy." Like this weekend. Saturday, the 18th, was my gran'pappy's 85th birthday, and I was a little weepy with missing him and not being able to call and offer my well-wishes and love.
And today was Father's Day, of course, so I again wasn't able to call Grandpa and wish him a happy day. Furthermore, it would've been my own parents' 40th anniversary. I talked to my dad about it, and the two of us got weepy together. We both admitted to the other that sometimes, it's okay to think about sad things for a minute and move on, but other times, if you need to, it's okay to wallow in the sad thing and just allow yourself to feel all the feelings that it brings. Don't you think?
So while I've had a day of celebrating Father's Day with the dad of my own four children, those things have been tugging at my heartstrings and, well, making me melancholy.
...However, so far it could NOT be changed to "Melanoma," a nickname one of my high school BFFs bestowed upon me way back when. I went to the doctor last week to have a skin cancer screening, because I've had a number of spots causing me serious consternation for a little while now. But I'm in the clear! I do have a number of things on me with long names I can't remember, but nothing that gave the dermatologist (who was quite hot, thank you very much) pause. Whew!
...Immediately after the derm., I visited the endocrinologist for a bone density screening, since I'm technically in menopause. (April 9, 2008: Hysterectomy, with total removal except for one ovary, if you're keeping track of my medical history. And I know you are.) Everything looked okay except for my hips, which are non-dense. I was prescribed to walk more often and take a 'D' supplement, which I'm supposed to do anyway.
I don't have a "Melan...density" nickname to go along with that paragraph, sorry; I just felt I should share that since, well, I know you worry about me being dense. Am I dense? Quite, thank you.
I'll be back later. Maybe. I don't feel tired, so I think I'll bake the cake that's due Wednesday and stick it in the freezer, and then come back and write some more stuff. M'Kay? So come back and read it, if you will be so kind.
A day late... link up here if you played along!
1. What is the craziest thing you've done in the last year?
Started my own custom cakery on a whim (and a prayer), in April!
2. What is something that you've lost recently?
The visual hallucinations I'd been having, thanks to an increased dose of Abilify... heh.
3. Where does your patience suffer the most?
I like things done the way I want them, when I want them, which is like 2 seconds after I ask. I don't have the patience to wait and wait while the other person is literally sitting there doing nothing, and I can't proceed with my thing until they've done their thing. Really? Don't get me started. I'm not a very patient person. Hubs will agree.
4. Have you ever re-read a book?
Yes, but very rarely. I've re-read Evergreen by Belva Plain, the Anne of Green Gables series, and a few others, not counting children's books, of course.
5. What is a TV show that you absolutely HATE to miss?
Well, now that we haven't had regular TV service in a year and a half, it's a moot point, but I really miss Dexter and The Big Bang Theory!
6. How old do you wish you were?
I'm happy with my current age. I actually enjoy the aging process. It's fascinating to me.
7. Do you know your neighbors?
Yes, on both sides and many around us.
8. Do you believe that opposites attract?
Yes, oft-times they do, although that doesn't necessarily mean they will last...
9. Who was the last person that made you laugh?
My son, Jack River. He's 8 and for the last couple of months, he's become funnier each day. It's awesome.
Link up here if you're playing along with Kailani!
So my question for you this week is:
Assume you're paying top-dollar for someone to decorate a big, fancy cake for you, and for whatever reason, there has to be a trade-off somewhere between looking great and tasting delicious. Which would be more important to you?
Hopefully, I'm accomplishing both in my cake biz, but since I don't eat the product, I hope for delicious and aim for beauty.
Thanks for stopping by! Have a great weekend.
I keep feeling like I had this unproductive weekend, because I didn't accomplish my singular goal at all, so here is a run-through of what I actually did do, to make myself feel better. And to share with you, because I know you hang on the edge of your seat, waiting for me to post these scintillating things I talk about, right?
First, like I mentioned, there was desire to paint in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Now. So I painted the pantry door. And the little bitty corner of wall next to it, which of course meant that more painting in the kitchen would need to happen, or else that little green section of wall would like mighty curious, all by itself.
Well, the real first first was making the pizza cake, from Friday night into the wee hours of Saturday morning.
And the second thing, immediately after finishing the cake, was scooping up the leftover cake and frosting and constructing these cake pops. These are long since gone, sold right away, but like I (think I) posted yesterday, more can be made if you need parting gifts for Teacher, or a special graduate, or Dad, or, well, anybody, because I really don't care whom you give them to, as long as you buy some. Heh.
So the third thing, then, was painting the door.
I went back and forth all day Saturday after that, moving kitchen furniture (that would be the full baker's rack, the deep freezer, and the table and chairs), scrubbing sections of wall piece by piece, paint first, second, and the exasperatingly always-necessary third coat... and coming back here to play on Facebook and run my stupid Farmville. (I call it "stupid," but I really like it. It gives me a quick opportunity to take frequent breaks from whatever I'm doing, and I've always been a girl who likes taking frequent breaks. Maybe I do have ADHD, but that's how I manage it. Whatever. Moving on.)
As part of this parenting course we're doing right now (more on that later), Rob and I are each supposed to spend 10 minutes of true quality time with each of the kids, twice per day. So Sophia and I spent one of our ten-minute sessions painting the back of the kitchen wall. I did all the cutting in around the edges, and she painted in the middle. I guided her with the correct way to hold the brush and move it back and forth, back and forth, and then she went and did it her own way. Which is fine. You can lead a horse to water...
Chloë wanted a painting turn after that, too, so I spent another segment of quality time showing her the same things I'd shown Sophia. She did it more exactly like I showed her, because that is her way. She, being a Virgo like me, is quite a bit of a perfectionist. I am doing my best, now, seeing this, and knowing how difficult it is to be that way, to guide her away from that tendency. It's not easy. Anyway, so they helped me paint the walls.
Jack wanted to paint, too, but he was never available when I was ready for him, because he spent a great deal of the weekend outside with the neighbor kids, riding his bike, driving his Cadillac Escalade Power Wheels, using the girls' scooter, and generally getting dirty and having a ball. So I didn't force the 10 minutes on him, although I do think it's especially important that he and I connect for those 20 min per day. I'll work on it, getting it in.
So eventually, the bottom half of the kitchen got painted, as far as I could go without moving the refrigerator. Luckily, I have plenty of paint left, for whenever Rob gets around to helping me with that. (I tried, but I'm a weenie.)
In the eight-plus years we've lived here, the kitchen has always been at the top of my "gotta change this" list, but for some reason, it has escaped my ministrations thus far. I even have the paint for the top half. Well, now that we've had to keep the windows open all the time (no AC), the cats have scratched out half the screens in the house, and they've all but shredded the café curtains covering the kitchen windows. I hate it. And I hate the country-cottage-y wallpaper on the top half of the kitchen walls, too. That's fine and good, but I am just not a country-cottage-y type of person. I like bold, striking colors that pop.
So I got up on the chairs and started to RRRRRRRRRIP the wallpaper off the walls, tossing big strips of it onto to floor, to the kids' shock and dismay. "Mom! What are you DOING?!" they demanded.
I just laughed and let their father explain. That's often the way things go around here. I laugh, and he's left to explain why.
I pulled off all the copper molds from around the top of the walls, too. I'm going to sell them. I collected them years ago, when we lived in Panama City, FL. And while I still absolutely adore copper - it's my favorite precious metal - it's just not the look I'm going for anymore. So they have to go. I don't have them listed anywhere yet, but I do have some interest. Let me know if you, too, want to stake a claim. I'm willing to break up the lot.
Because we didn't get Rob's Navy paycheck the first of the month and things are uncomfortably tight right now, and also because I'm trying to walk more and drive less in the interest of Saving The Planet, Chloë and I walked to the grocery store late Saturday evening. The kids were begging, crying, for milk, so I decided to break down and spend some of our very little money on a gallon. I mean, it's milk, and they're kids. Not exactly a luxury.
Chloë and I had the best talk on our way to and from the store. We discussed physical beauty and why that might not be the most important thing about a person, and what things might be more important. She decided that being healthy was the most important thing, and being safe, so we talked about ways she could be healthy and safe. She came up with lots of fantastic answers, like eating junk foods in moderation, always wearing her helmet when she rides her bike or scooter, and getting the proper amount of sleep. I was impressed.
At the store, she "helped" me shop, and by that, I mean she pushed the little cart around and mostly observed as I made decisions about what to buy and what to leave at the store. We talked about the importance of shopping the perimeter - she remembered what "perimeter" meant from her studies in math - and, like eating junk food, using the processed foods in the center aisles in moderation. I had decided to make a Key Lime Pie for dessert, to use up the Key Limes I'd picked up at a roadside citrus stand in Florida a few weeks ago, so we bought the condensed milk and graham crackers I needed for that, comparing prices-per-unit and all that we always try to do.
And since I have a partially-made batch of hummus in the freezer, I decided that I should get a lemon or two (of which there were none, so I'm going to try Key Lime hummus instead!) and the tahini I need to finish it. We spent about six years looking for the damn tahini, which used to be much easier to find, back when they had a separate section for "health foods." (Now it's next to the mayonnaise and other condiments, in case you're wondering.)
Having "gone green" by walking to the store instead of driving, I'd have felt pretty crappy about getting one of those God-awful plastic grocery bags in which to lug our loot home, so I bought yet another 99¢ canvas bag, too. I just can't stand those plastic bags. They, among other things like inconsiderate smokers, people who drink copious amounts of bottled water and don't even recycle the bottles, and folks who take nine hours to make the right turn in front of me, are the absolute bane of my existence.
So we walked home, me lugging the bag full of milk-and-schtuff, and continued our nice, Mom-to-Daughter talk. Somehow it morphed into what life will be like as she eases into her teenage years, and how it's natural for girls to butt heads with their mothers frequently in those times. That really upset her. I made her promise to remember one thing: that no matter what she said or did, and no matter what I said or did, I would always love her more than she could understand until she was a mother herself. That eased her mind a bit.
Then that translated into a conversation about the pressures of being a teen and experimenting with things like drugs, alcohol, smoking, and sex. I told her my hopes and expectations, and she asked good questions. Overall, it was a very productive conversation, and I'm so delighted we had the chance to have it.
So we got home, and I made the pie, and oh, my word, it was freaking delicious. Beyond expectations. I still have plenty of Key Limes, so I plan to bring another pie to our Gardening club this Thursday. Assuming I still have the gas to get there. Jack didn't like the pie, but everyone else devoured it with gusto. I had way more than I had any business having, but after cheesecake, Key Lime Pie has to be my fav... well, no, there's Dutch Apple Cream Pie, and Chocolate Chip Cookies, and... Uh. I just love sweets. I'm in the right business, I think. (And I'm glad I've discovered the power of prunes to help me take off any extra weight I might gain from sampling my own wares! Phooo, do those work well. Golly. *ahem*)
So that was Saturday.
Sunday, we didn't make it to church either, which was sad, especially since I'd visited their food pantry on Thursday after Girl Scouts, and they serviced us quite nicely. (That's something I've never done before in my life, and it's quite humbling. Thank you, to any and all of you who donate to the Food Bank. We haven't needed it before, but with this paycheck snafu, I'm certainly glad it's there for us in this time of need. Now if only there were a Gas Pantry, eh?)
I napped a lot on Sunday. Rob napped a lot, and Sophia did, too. The other two mostly watched Nova shows on the Wii, from Netflix. Jack is especially fond of the Nova programs, and particularly the ones that feed his transportation and mechanically-oriented brain. He'll watch the same ones about plane crashes or rockets taking off over and over, always going upstairs to get a toy that goes along with the program, and making-believe he's part of the action. It's pretty cool. Rob gets a huge kick out of his doing that.
For my evening 10-minute session with Sophia, she just wanted to play with the discarded boxes I'm trying to get rid of on Freecycle. She's decided she needs them for her tiny toys instead, like finger puppets and the Squinkies a friend gave her at her birthday party in April. Here she is admiring the bunk bed she made for her bunny finger puppet.
This is her favorite box, though, because "it's the biggest, and it has a window, so I can see what they're doing in there." She asked me to punch holes in the window with my knitting needle, so her bunny could breathe. And so I did, until she told me, "enough."
While Sophia had been napping earlier, I got started training Jack and Chloë on the way we do laundry, from beginning to end. They collected all the laundry in the house, sorted it into the proper piles, learned how to run the washer and the dryer, and then I showed them how to fold their own clothes. For now, I'll leave it at that, until I feel they're ready to start folding Mom & Dad's, and the towels and sheets. I've just always done the laundry myself and only had them run and put away their things. But with the parenting course, I see the error of my ways. I don't know why I didn't, but I guess I figured they would just pick it up eventually. Foolish. So now I'll be working on their "training," and we don't call them "chores" but rather "contributions." It's working out well. They feel important and significant, and Jack even commented that doing the laundry was "fun." (Not to me, but to his big sister. No way he'd let me hear such a thing on purpose!)
After dinner, when I wanted some knitting time on my sparkle! dress, and Chloë wanted a break from folding laundry, I asked her to spend a little quality time herself with Sophia. The two of them have been fighting a lot again lately, so I asked Chloë read Sophia some stories. She grumped and grumbled about it at first, but in the end, she read three stories to Soap without me asking her to go past the first one. And I made lots of progress on my dress:
Pretty soon, I'll be at the placket, which is my new favorite word to say. I can't wait to finish the front.
Jack went to bed first tonight, so again, I didn't really get to spend my QT with him. I'll give him extra tomorrow. After story time between the girls, Chloë wanted her ten minutes with me. Sophia and Dad spent those ten minutes together, too, playing and Soph telling cute, six-year-old stories to her Daddy. Chloë and I went for a moonlit walk around the smaller lake.
I took the Nikon along, just in case I found anything cool to take a picture of, but most of my pictures didn't turn out. I liked the way these branches stuck out far into the light of the street lamp, so I snapped it.
Halfway 'round the lake, I spotted a "frog" hopping off the path, toward the water. I managed to catch it for Chloë, who immediately squealed when she felt it and dropped him. So I caught him again, and then, of course, I could see it was really a toad and not a frog at all. We agreed to bring him home to show Daddy and Sophia. We took turns holding him and talking about what we learned months ago when we covered Amphibians, about the differences between frogs and toads. Chloë surprised me by remembering quite a lot of them without my prompting her, and I felt a lot of pride inside me.
There were a lot of ducks and drakes pairing up along our walk, but those photos didn't come out. I'm glad this one of Mama and her four ducklings did, though - how cute are they?! I just adore baby aminals of all flavors and varieties. I'm definitely a Woman in that regard. Baby people, baby ducks, baby anything, and my heart melts.
Chloë could barely wait to burst in the front door and show them the toad. We had to shh-shh-shh her, because the windows are open, and our neighbors sleep early. Of course, they gave her all the attention she was due, and there was even more fun when Sophia, holding the poor toad, dropped him in the house. I was in the powder room when that happened, but the sounds of them all gadding about, trying to catch it, were amusing to hear.
Chloë went to bed shortly after that - no, she had her ten minutes of Dad time first, and they looked through an American Baby magazine together, of all things - and Sophia and I shared some more time while I knit. She drew pictures of different things, like Chloë and I taking a walk, and of an "alien monster mouth" coming out of the sky and eating our entire unsuspecting family. I'm not really worried about that one, since she was giggling while she told me what it was. Sophia loves to color and draw, and she has become quite good at it, actually. I'll have to show you some of her drawings next time.
For now, though, I'm going to wrap up my weekend by trying to knit at least to the placket and making my To-Do list for the coming week. I hope yours is a good one.
Who knows what the hell I'm talking about there. It was one of those things where you think you're being clever and esoteric, but really you're just being a boob. You know?
Here's another offering from You Take The Cake!:
Yes, more cake pops. They are just so yummy! And as such, plus the fact they are fully customizable for your needs, they would make a great gift for Dad, grads and teachers. Think about it, hm? $25 for a basket of twelve.
Thursday night, I got a semi-frantic phone call from a mother in search of a last-minute cake baker for her daughter's 14th birthday party on Saturday. Could I help? Could it be a giant slice of pizza? On and on. I agreed to take on her cake, at a fraction of the cost she had been quoted by other bakers looking to capitalize on the rush job. I underbid a little bit. I should have asked for more. Live and learn.
Anyway, so tonight, I started - and finished - the cake. It went well! Better than I expected, actually. I think it turned out okay. The only hitch is that I lost my notes, and I can't remember how to spell the poor birthday girl's name! So I'll have to write that on when the mom comes to pick up her cake tomorrow.
With the leftover cake and frosting, I'm now making some cake pops to photograph for the website. I'm going to advertise them as gifts for Dads, Grads, and Teachers, none of which I really needed to capitalize. But I can do that, because I'm a free-spirited wood nymph. Or something.
So... you like?
Here's where I am on the dress now. I think it's looking so cool. I can't wait to wear it!! It's double-knit, thick wool, so unless I develop coolant in my blood, I think it will be relegated to Winter wear after all. I'm fine with that.
We didn't do a whole very lot this Memorial Day weekend. On Saturday, we... Hm. Lay around in the un-air-conditioned house and moaned about how hot we were. On Sunday, we did the same. Today, Monday, we actually managed to get to the pool for some respite from the heat. Five minutes into that excursion, I was whining about being bored and having forgotten my knitting. After an hour, I gave up and walked home, leaving Rob at the pool with the kids. I grabbed my knitting and, still soaking wet and wrapped up in my towel, I lay on the couch with my project bag and... promptly fell asleep. For like, four hours. Awesome. Go me.
Part of that sleepiness might be from what is an enormous change I've made in my life, as of yesterday: I gave up my major Diet Coke habit! I have multiple reasons for doing so, including economic, health, and environmental ones. If you want me to go into more detail, say so in the comments. I won't bore you with those here.
But I'm out of iron and unloaded from caffeine, so I am quite the drowsy girl right now. It sucks. All I want to do is clean the house, but it's far too hot, and I'm far too tired, and I've done exactly nothing on that front.
Excuse the kids sitting around in their drawers, but it really is frickin' hot in here. Anyway, this is them starting on our new Top Secret! Adventure series from the Highlights magazine people. We're starting with Australia. So far, they're semi-into it. Maybe I can make it more interesting for them this week, because we have the China package to do next, and the third one should be here soon. Should be a fun way to explore geography, though!
Right now, while the AC is out of commission, You Take The Cake! is on hiatus. For one thing, it's too hot to bake, and for another, all my goodies will melt! So that stinks, because I am really eager to kick it into high gear.
And on a final note, we're trying to get out of our house. Anyone want to assume our mortgage? We don't even want to make any money on it; we just want OUT of here. Stat.
And on that note, have a lovely week. Think cold thoughts for us!
(Click collage to embiggerate.)
We had a busy weekend, of sorts. I had to make those cookies from the previous post Friday night and Saturday morning, get them delivered by noon, and then get the house cleaned for the company we were having that night.
Which wasn't really "company," per se, but keeping two kiddos overnight so their dad and his new wife could have an adults-only wedding reception. They are both in Scouts with our kids, so we know them well enough that it was easy-peasy and comfortable. Still, I hate my house. My husband and kids are total slobs, and I'm, like, the only one in this house who seems to be bothered by the constant mess. But I don't want to go there; I already went on a rampage a few hours ago!
After we straightened up, I let the kids play out front with the garden hose. They got soaked, and so did I! When the little girl who was staying overnight arrived, I was in the middle of filling up a bucket of water balloons for them to throw around. There's just something special about water balloons, isn't there? I think they should be a part of every sad occasion, to make things fun and happy. Like, at my grandpa's funeral a couple months ago, if we could've just thrown some water balloons, I probably would have cried less.
I don't claim to make sense.
So here are a few of my favorite pictures from that day, taken out of the collage so you can see 'em better, because I know you aren't going to be clicking on anything to embiggerate. I know your type. I can see it in you.
Sophia watering her 4th-birthday Crepe Myrtle Hopi
Sophia, again, having a drink from the hose
This photo just makes me happy. Like I could just reach in that squishy pile of balloons and hurl one at ... you?
A surprise attack from Daddy!
Nothing better than watching a Dad play with his kids
Later, we took our kids and the little girl (her brother was still at camp and got dropped off much later) to Baskin-Robbins for dessert, since I had won a $10 gift certificate from a Facebook contest of theirs a little while back. All six of us ordered a kid-sized cone (mine was sugar-free, natch), so for some odd reason, the very nice Indian lady running the store at the time decided to give us a half-dozen empty double-scoop cones "on the house." Really? For... what? It still makes me laugh.
Providing another giggle was that each was labeled, "DUBLE HEDER" - I don't know why that amuses me so much, but it does.
This little stinker... I had decided I would use those cones for something cakey for You Take The Cake! when Jack asked me if he could look at one. Next thing I know, he starts chomping away on it! What! Jack!! So this was his expression of, "Hey, I didn't know!" that kills me so much.
That's about it for pictures from Saturday night, which passed quickly for the overnight kiddos and not so fast for Team Odette. THEY were exhausted and fell right asleep. MINE were too excited about the sleepover/living room camp-out to settle down. They wriggled and writhed in their sleeping bags for half the night, keeping me awake next to them on the couch. And then the overnight kiddos woke up, hungry and raring to go, at 0630! *Groan* I was so not ready to get up then, but I managed.
I made pancakes and then realized, to all six kids' dismay, that we were out of syrup. Ugh. Overnight girl commented, "There's not much to eat around here!" after that. So we scrounged and managed to feed them, but man, their energy was limitless that morning compared to the rest of ours. We took everyone outside to the lake across the street, driving PowerWheels around the lake and fishing with Rob.
It wasn't that disappointing when I realized I had to duck out for an hour for a blood donation appointment at the Red Cross. I'd made that date before I knew about the overnight, and I was behind in my donations, so I didn't want to miss it. I like to give my six times a year like clockwork, and I was already a month late. So, sorry, Honey! Rob was all, "Thaaaaaanks."
(On the positive side, I wasn't deferred for low iron and was able to give, so yay! I'm often deferred...)
Later, I played with my camera a little and captured this halfway-decent self-portrait. I have yet to take one that's clear and with good lighting, though, and that's because I haven't really figured out the timer or the remote control on my new camera yet. But hey, if this is what 35 is going to look like for me, I think I'll take it!
Skipping ahead to our equally-busy Monday, I started off the girls with a page in the workbooks their Grandma gave them so I could get myself settled, and I asked Jack to bring down his Legos and K'nex set to build me some kind of transportation. Anything he wanted. (We've been studying transportation this year as our social studies exploration.) He chose to make a hot air balloon, and this is what he came up with. I was very impressed!! Rob later told me he had instructions to follow for it, which deflated me considerably, but at the time, I was super pleased! After that, I asked him to make this, that and the other thing, and he did, coming up with something new and cool each time. That boy is so mechanically inclined, it'll be interesting to see what he does with it in the future. I hope he doesn't waste his talents!
I think I'll keep blogging. I have a lot of lost time to make up for with you!
Remember the woman who ordered the logo-truck cookies for her mom a few weeks ago? Well, originally, she had commissioned me for these princess party-themed cookies. Two dozen of them, so this picture doesn't show all of the ones she received. Just most.
I went back and forth on how I wanted to ice her cookies and finally decided to go with the Royal Icing, color flow technique that she had been so happy with for her mom's cookies. Adding a generous helping of colored sanding sugars to go with the theme, of course.
Well, I just hate the way they came out. I haven't heard back from her about them yet, and I'm nervous to ask. I know I should... and I probably will, tomorrow (today), because I know she planned to order yet more cookies from me for her upcoming baby shower, and I want to keep in her good graces!
Personally, I think these suck. I'm sure they tasted just fine, but they look like poo in my opinion, and I hate them. Bah.
Well, at least the packaging was cute.
As you know, I've started what was originally just going to be a cake-decorating business, You Take The Cake!, but it has morphed into an all-around dessert and treats thing. Which is fine by me. I can't be confined, you know. I'm just that big a deal. Pretty soon I'll be walking down the street and people will be yelling out, "Hey, Smelly!" And I'll give my pits a little sniff, because, you know, but no, it'll be because me and my fabulous cakes and desserts and treats and stuff are so. damn. good.
Whoa. So not where I was going with this post. Which, by the way, is brought to you via the magic of Firefox, since IE seems to be the Typepad picture-uploading problemator, and not Typepad itself. Ugh. So back to my original subject...
It all started when someone responded to my cake-biz post on Craigslist, asking if I could make iced cookies for her daughter's birthday party in a few weeks. Sure, I can do that. I've been making cookies since I've been old enough to turn on the oven, after all. Then she came back a day or two later, asking if I could make some cookies for her mom's new errand-running business, as a present to her mom for Mother's Day.
Sure, ah, well, what exactly did she want? Turns out she wanted her mom's logo, which was this:
on some kind of truck cookie. Well. Now. That's a whole different ball of wax, kids. I'm not all fancy-schmancy with the equipment (though, oh, how I would like to be), so I told her, em, uh, yeah, I don't know if you would like me to actually draw the logo on there and see? She wanted to see what I could do, so while I was putzing around making some practice fondant roses, like so:
I drew (with edible marker, natch) the fondant mock-up pictured at the top. I figured she would withdraw her request on the spot, but she was actually delighted! Whaa? Okay, then, so she came out and signed her work order and put down her deposit, and it was a go. Yippee!
So last night, I finally got off my arse and got started, since she's picking them up at noon today. Baking the cookies themselves went smoothly, but any ol' monkey can do that. (Thanks to MIL, who gave us a box of 101 cookie cutters about 9 years ago, I already had a truck one. Woot! Those 101 cutters have come in handy on about a billion occasions.)
After outlining and "flooding" the cookies with icing, I had nothing to do but sit around and wait. And wait and wait and wait. You're supposed to let them sit overnight, but after about four hours, I lost patience. Fortunately I had made a few extras, so if I goofed up, I could afford to lose a couple. I did, too. Not on the drawing, but because I leaned on a cookie and cracked the nice crystallized icy-icing coating. Can't fix that! (Rob suggested spackle, but Client's Mom's customers probably wouldn't enjoy that so much.)
Just in case those didn't turn out well, I made some "Go Mom, You're Awesome" cookies as a back-up for the Client, so she would still have a gift to give her. She had okayed that, too. But we've eaten several of these, actually most, so hopefully she likes how they finally did turn out!
And this is them. Each one painstakingly drawn and painted in by hand, with the marker and with custom-mixed icing paint, details dotted in with toothpicks. It was a long, long process, and I definitely low-balled myself on the cost. I'm half-hoping she comes back and orders more - and my cramped hands are half-hoping she doesn't!
Maybe I'll be back later with more stuff I've been making lately - or you can just go look at the pictures on the shop website! Or maybe both, I've been quiet lately.
(For some reason, Typepad isn't letting me add pictures to posts right now, darn it. Argh...)
If you've got a good question today, link up here!
I have two questions for you this week. They are:
What's your favorite kind of cake?
What's your favorite dessert?
Since I've started You Take The Cake!, I am really interested in your answers.
Personally, I can't stand frosting and don't really care for cake, but give me some yummy NY-style cheesecake, like the kind I'm selling, and you've got a friend for life!