Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Just a heads up, Mr. Wonderful:

Image from Middleagedmum.com

The house will not be clean when you get home today and here is why:

Today is payday. We are so very grateful for your diligent work every week to earn the money with which we pay our bills and allow me to stay home with the babies. This is a gift and a treasure which I cannot thank you enough for.

So, being payday, this morning was spent making sure that everyone got their due dollars. Well, that and trying to save Sunshine from Little Prince's idea of fun (aka. covering her head with a blanket, stealing whatever toy she had and shutting her in the dark laundry room.)

And as you will recall, Daddy's Girl left her lunch at home again. So I had to do a little arranging to be sure she could eat, further her education, secure a nice salary and pay for the retirement villa we are looking at on the coast (with unlimited golf, of course.)

And of course everyone in the house knows that it is the end of the month. How do they know? Because most of our conversations before mealtimes go something like this:
"Can I have some cereal?"
"Sure, do you want Kix?"
"No, circle cereal." (Honey Nut Cheerios)
"We don't have any. All we have is Kix. And we are out of milk, so you will have to eat it dry."
"Can I have a breakfast bar?"
"We don't have any."
"Can I have toast?"
"Yes." And I then dig out of the bottom of the bag the remaining ragtag end-piece of toast.
While there is food in the house, there are many essentials we are missing and it is that blessed time again where I make our grocery list which causes me no shortage of stress and anxiety.

In order to partner with you in providing the most for our family, I am attempting to coupon. It all sounds simple in concept. But my dear, there is an intricate formula involved that takes a Ph.D and some studying abroad in China, I am convinced, in order to understand it much less put it into practice. I have friends who make it look effortless, but I was never good at word problems and it is frankly just over my head. But I am trying. I have my coupons, my flyers and my engineering calculator and am going to spend the better part of naptime trying to to make sense of it all.

Just so you feel better about the care of your children, I did feed them PB&J made with loving hands and pretzels for lunch. Then after they played a bit, I read them a book, Dr. Seuss or course, and tucked the little dears in for their nap.

At some point I will have to get a shower because, as you know, we have a school meeting tonight and I just can't go looking like this. We have to stop on the way for some supplies too, by the way.

I think I'm going to have to give Little Prince and Sunshine a bath before we go because Sunshine's hair is looking like that creepy uncle who was trying to win the radio contest on One Crazy Summer with Jon Cusack. And since she will most likely be screaming tonight throughout the meeting, she better at least look adorable.

Then I'm sure Daddy's Girl will have homework, and I've promised her a very long discussion about the responsibility of remembering to take your lunch to school. Plus, I've got to work some sort of culinary magic so we can eat dinner in 15 minutes and be off to our meeting.

So like I was saying, the house will not be clean when you get home. I'm just sayin'.

Disclaimer: My husband is not neanderthal or a pig and is extremely helpful with and supportive of domestic duties. He is...Mr. Wonderful. I just felt he needed to be prepared for what awaits him.

Monday, August 30, 2010

On to the next occasion...

photo from www.starling-fitness.com

So now the wedding cake is complete and my new mission is to find a really delicious cupcake and frosting recipe.

It is for a little girl's birthday and needs to be:
1. not chocolate
2. something little kids won't look at and go "ewwwwww!"

So to all you baking gurus out there, send me your best recipes or links! Help a sister out!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cake is more than eggs, water and flour. Just so you know.


Sweet friends and readers, 
Whew!  We finished the cake and danced the night away.  
It was fun and hard work.  And I'm glad it's done.


Tier #2 - Butter Recipe Fudge Cake...yummy.
2 of the 3 layers cooling, for 2 hours 
Just one of the many, many, many bowls of buttercream icing,


that would be slathered all over the cakes.

My sweet little baking zone.

The Mixing Zone

Tier #2 frosted and trimmed.


This is not EVEN all the powdered sugar and marshmellows used.




Tier #2 draped with fondant.



My sweet friends Jeremy and Beth came in town just to help. 
(Ok, and see a few friends and attend the wedding.)
They loved rolling little balls of fondant until the wee hours of the night.


I'm really not sure whether he is showing you his creation 
or about to slap me for making him roll hundreds of tiny marshmallow spheres.


However he did invent the "dot-o-matic"
which was indispensable in making swiss dots for the cake!
Way to go Jeremy!


See!  Lovely dots.


Jeremy and Beth's diligent work.



Tiers #1 & #2


Red Velvet cake mix just looks like carnage.

Tier #3 - Red Velvet




The beginnings of the swirls.



Swirls, swirls, swirls

Beth and Jeremy planning their dowel strategy.
Seriously, the entire cake would have caved had they 
not done such an amazing job!
One of our biggest worries was overcome when I placed the second tier on 
and nothing fell.


Third tier was placed and it was apparent to me that accuracy and attention to detail are key.
The second tier wasn't completely flat on top and it caused the top tier to not be flush.  
This made placing the beading difficult and cause for much discussion.
The ribbons never would stay flush against the cake and our options were to pin them and have pins showing or use frosting and have big greasy smears all over the ribbon.  We decided to leave the ribbon as is, but I was never happy with it.


Sweet pretty Beth.  Such a servant's spirit!


Jeremy and his "birthday cake."




Detail of the finished product.



Top tier with topper.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Yes, Checkout Person at Publix, I will be doing a lot of baking this weekend."

Ok, so my latest insanity is a wedding cake for some friends of mine
who are getting married this Saturday.  

Don't ask me why I thought I could pull off a wedding cake, like for a real wedding,
but I did.  

So, I thought I'd give you a glimpse of what cake-making looked 3 days out from the big day.


First of all, there are a lot of ingredients in a 3-tiered wedding cake.

Like eggs, many dozen eggs.  

And cake mixes.
( Because this isn't the Food Network you know.)

And enough butter to cause cardiac arrest just looking at it.
(And this isn't even all the mixes and butter.)


Plus pounds of powdered sugar and marshmallows. 



Step 2
Flip gigantic cake layer over (more of a feat than it sounds)
and let it cool for at least two hours.
This was a definite exercise in my very limited patience.  But it was worth it.

Step 3
Repeat and begin frosting layers.
(And watch kitchen slowly dissolve into a disaster area.)

Step 4
Soak in my precious children.
(A Big Ol' "Thank ye!" to my kiddos for being so much better behaved
than anyone should expect them to be today!)

Step 5
Begin assembly of bottom tier.
(Yep, only two more to go.)

Step 6a
Notice strange burning smell.
Open oven.
Discover that tier 2 is just going to have to wait until tomorrow.

I mean, seriously.

Step 6b
Stop everything in order to clean out as much of this mess as possible 
since bride didn't order a mesquite-flavored wedding cake.

Sigh.

I truly believe I could make it in my sleep.)


Step 8
Fondant.
I will discuss more about that later, 
because frankly, I am not far enough removed from it to discuss it without twitching.  
(However, I should have the most amazingly toned upper arms known to man 
after trying to get this stuff the right size.)

Step 9
Roll fondant over Tier 1 and call it a day.

Whew!  What a day.  But I am loving it!  
I'm can't wait to see how the final product turns out.  
It may be Saturday night before I get final pictures up.  
I'm not sure the bride wants everyone to see it before her big day.
Thanks to all of you who have been cheering me on!

Friday, August 13, 2010

What a woman must do to "find herself."



Unfortunately, unlike Liz in Eat, Pray, Love, most of us do not have the luxury of a-one year sabbatical traveling to some of the world's most exotic destinations in order to get a grip on who we are and what we are about. Whereas she has the area of a football field, metaphorically speaking, most of us have the space of a gum wrapper.

But one of the things that I find so absolutely entrancing about being a woman are the deep and intrinsic inner-workings of ourselves that no one (including most of the time ourselves) can really comprehend.

We are really an amazing creation, and it completely makes sense
why God wasn't finished until He made us.

So ladies, enjoy the crazy journey that you are on. It's not really about you anyway.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wal-Mart...grrrrrrrr!


As if getting ready for back to school wasn't crazy enough, why do I even try to go to make Wal-Mart a part of it?

And really it wasn't even the lack of the supplies on Daddy's Girl's list that got me irked.  It's the complete inability for the "savings place" to keep normal everyday items stocked.  I was just trying to buy this month's groceries.  But it really IS too much for me to ask that you have Kleenex in stock.  I know.  I mean, teachers only ask for them EVERY year.  So, I apologize for the four-letter words I attached to your name as I pushed your crappy buggy through your unimpressively remodeled store.  Especially when I got to the baby wipe aisle and my brand was completely gone.  In fact most of them were gone.  I mean, do you know why people need wipes.  For poo!  So if you don't have wipes, you have unwiped poo!  This does not a happy customer make.

So Wal-Mart, instead of spending ungodly amounts on changing your color scheme and putting in new spinny thingamabobs for your onion-skin thin plastic bags that tear with the slightest provocation (whew), how about you invest a little into management training so that folks know how to keep shelves stocked properly and precious checkout personnel know how to put more than just my box of rice in the aforementioned worthless bags (because frankly, I just can't have any extra bags in my house and I do not have time to recycle them.)   Because folks, I'm looking for shopping to be a pleasure, and if you can't deliver we all know who can. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

We watched them die.

Today, we watched wasps die.  And we loved it.


I'm such a procrastinator.  And I'm a perfectionist.  And I'm OCD.  So you see, all summer I've watched these little perpetrators build their papery nests and thought, "I'll knock that nest down later.  But only when I can do it at the right time.  As long as I don't make them angry and they chase me and my children down the block screaming."

You see my dilemma.

But today, finally, the bug man "cameth."  

It has taken weeks to secure this appointment.  

First we had over a half dozen kids in the house.  Then were going out of town.  He was going out of town.  We WERE out of town.  We got the stomach bug (yuck!).  I had family in town.  And now finally, we are bug free.  

It was bad.  I'm not telling you this to creep you out.  I'm telling you because, well, it was.  It is summer.  We live on a wooded lot.  We couldn't co-ordinate our schedules with said bug man.  With those conditions you get, bugs.

But I tell you tonight, we are now protected.   And life is good.   And Little Man can put up the Dirt Devil, because there are no more little buggies to suck up.  End of little story.  Think less of me if you must.  I DO NOT CARE.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Best of Summer














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