Sunday, February 28, 2010

Shop 'Til Ya Drop-Cowgirl Style


This ain't my first rodeo....literally. Here is a past shower I did take a couple of pictures at (a work shower, so the guest list was broad, and the fixin's were a little slimmer with this in mind). http://christyrobbins.blogspot.com/2007/05/baby-buckaroo.html I've used the decorations four times total, with a fifth time on the way. I always add a few 'somethings.' I have a 'Western' Tub in my garage in my party supply stash (which is basically my whole garage). It's filled with hay, and galvanized tubs, horseshoes, and lanterns, but....I DEFINITELY need a few more things for baby Alexis. It's my first shower for Alexis, ya know? I still have some more things I'm planning on getting...and lots more I'm planning on making, but I'm pretty excited about the start.
-I don't know where I'll put her wooden name, but I won't be painting the letters....I like the wooden look.
-I found the pink pails at Target for 2.50 each....and they were the exact size I was wanting, and I didn't even think to want them in pink when I was hunting down a 'new size' I didn't have (I didn't even think this was possible because I have about 4,000,000 galvanized tubs and buckets, I puffy heart them, but I didn't have 'these.') This will be for a small, dessert-filled favor bar. I only got 5 so I'd cut myself off at 5 desserts. I tend to go a little crazy when prepping candy/dessert stations. There will be 10 little kiddos present, so....I'm limiting the sugar this time for my own sanity.
-I found the tin pie plates at the Dollar Tree (I love looking there, there are so many great finds). I'd really like to have enough of these for the kiddos attending the shower to eat from, but they are all ages, and this would only be appropriate for about half, so I'm either going to fill them with fixings for the BBQ meal, or line them down the kid's tables with goodies inside (Maybe trail mix? Maybe western toys? TBD!)
-I put the forks in the picture b/c I needed to emphasize my restraint. What I WANTED to get were bamboo forks and other utensils, but you have to buy them in really large quantities. I found these for a buck at the Dollar Tree instead (sad face). Instead of buying more 'real' bandannas to wrap the silverware (which I usually do), I have pink bandanna print napkins on the way to tie them up, and close with raffia. By the way, I think raffia, and tulle is a basic human need. I'm not sure how I'd function without water, shelter, raffia, and tulle. I think raffia could bring about world peace if everyone would get on board with the stuff. I'm a fan.
-I think the wooden crate will be lined with the bandanna fabric, and hold some chips, or side dish....or not.
-The pink table cloth is nothing exciting-I'm actually still on the hunt for some western/cowgirl fabric in pink that's price won't give me heart palpitations, or I might use some quilts as some of the table throws, but this pink will probably go under the messiest of the food stations.
-Sheriff's Badges-These are either for the kid's place cards, or on dish descriptions...not sure...I have not made it to this point. I'm actually thinking about throwing quilts out for the kids to sit on...
-What is missing from this picture (among many other things) are:
mini-foil pie pans. I'm going to try out a restaurant supply store b/c this is the dessert I wanted to serve-mini pies, and banana pudding, but I've come to a road block. Nobody has had 'just the pans.' It keeps me up at night....
I also would like some big hay bails for sitting, but I may have to nix this unless I can find a cheap supplier in Austin b/c I don't think I have the space, or the allergy stamina to cart them to Austin.
And there you have another installment of: The things I'm doing to make a difference in this world.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Cowgirl Invitation....Dave Ramsey Style


Here are the invitations (about 10 months longer than it usually takes me....yes, I usually start planning showers before you people start planning babies) for my friend Carla's Baby Shower (Co-Ed, with kids) at the end of this month. Expect to see lots more details to come (Threat? or Promise?, you decide...) in the next few weeks. I actually have not taken very many pictures of things like wedding flowers, cakes, and showers, (case in point-I have zero pictures from the first baby shower I threw for Carla (John Ross), and three pictures from her wedding shower, the year before that) and so over the last few years, I've tried to document them better, but by the start of the event (and the end of the planning), I'm so tired, I don't even care about anything but having a good time, so...I'm going to be more careful documenting the process from now on so I can 'remember' for future plans.
As far as these invitations go: I'm on a budget-it makes life very boring, but I can proudly say I made 22 invitations for 7 bucks using the brains in my head, the scissors on my desk, and the hours between midnight and 6 am. I bought three different papers from Hobby Lobby, and cut them into the following shapes. It's very mathematical....I cut the largest piece to the size of my envelopes, and the rest a 'little smaller.' (4.5 inches for the pocket, 4 inches for the pink, etc) I took a brown ink pad and rubbed it along the edges of the brown paper to make it look a little weathered (already done in this photo)....it was VERY scientific. All these curriculum ready lessons, I should have had my students do this....

Then I used my sewing machine (thanks again, 10th grade Home Ec class) to sew down the 'pockets.' I wavered with the idea of using a fancy stitch, or even making a fun pocket design, but then I remember that half of these invites were going to boys (no offense, I'm sure they will love this pink slip of loveliness), and the other half are going to people that would toss them in the garbage the day after the shower-which means 100 percent of these have a life span of exactly 1 month, and I just did a 'regular' stitch. Whatever that means. (By the way, I save invitations-they inspire me.)


I trimmed the edges, and then...
I printed the wording on vellum. I printed 4 per sheet, and cut, cut, cut. I rubbed my ink pad along these edges too b/c...they just looked a little too 'new' for my weathered invitation. I won't post this picture b/c the address is on the vellum, and I don't have time to photoshop, and I don't have money to feed anyone random that wanted to show up, plus, there is that whole "...it's a public blog, things could get a little scary if you start throwing real addresses out there" thing.
Hole punch. Tie Ribbon. Insert in Pocket. Address. Send. Hope for lots of RSVP savvy guest.
The old me (who I really like a whole lot better than the new me, but....such is life) would have (and has) sent a bag of trailmix in a little bandanna and a rope tie with invitations attached, or a real blue jean pocket, or a dangling horseshoe charm on the ribbon at the very least along with these invitations, but the new me is on a budget. She's really quite boring. My friends-the old ones, and the new ones....they are OK with any invitation I send, but....there is a part of me that feels a little disappointed that I didn't need to take out a loan to send out these invites. I'm really working on developing a frugal me that can be impressed with the money saved. In the end, I'm OK with these, I'll be able to pay my electricity bill this month, but it would have been a lot more exciting to send those little trail mix packages. OK....and the me that will always be me is ready to start slapping rhinestones on those pockets, so I better get the envelopes sealed, and stamped so there is no 'going back.' You can't trust the rhinestone cowgirl....she's almost as scary as button girl, who I also turn into with any craft.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hostess with the Mostess


I like to call this dinner.

I ran across this recipe a few months ago on the net http://heatherdrive.blogspot.com/2009/03/look-alike-hostess-cupcakes.html (Her cupcakes are a million times prettier, probably 100 percent tastier, and I'm OK with that. By the way, someone please teach me how to create a link!). I don't know how I ran across these....the forces of evil had something to do with it, no doubt. We are having a lunch at school this Thursday, and I thought I'd bring these, but I had some issues.
I have about 12 cupcakes that worked out OK (out of 24)....and lots of frustration along the way. Let me just say-the cake batter is delicious, but it burned sooo quickly, and really didn't rise very well, which wasn't a problem since I needed it to be 'sunken' in the middle. BUT it also stuck around the edges to the pan, and fell apart on half of the cupcakes.
The inside icing was OK....I have a feeling that most people with quality taste buds would prefer this, but I kinda like artificial flavor, so it was a little more vanilla, and a little less artificially sweet than I had hoped. I also had trouble whipping it up...not unusual-egg whites and I don't get along. Please let me know if you have any tips for getting egg whites fluffy! I just used a ziplock for piping on the swirls...I was over it by the time I made it this far!
It also called for a bittersweet ganache...and I really prefer milk chocolate, but it scared me to deviate....so I didn't. I also think you should double the ganache-it barely went over the twelve that did turn out....but that's just my humble opinion, and trust me, from the results here, I'm not the expert.
For the sake of photography, I cut one in half, your welcome ;o). Most of the icing does go deeper than the one I chose. I dug out the middles with a spoon just to make sure....bad luck on choosing this one...and at the risk of setting myself back 2(more) weeks on this diet (I also call "my life")....you'll just have to take my word for it.

I guess the hostess cupcake factory is safe for one more day. I'm off to make some 'back up cookies' since I am lacking in quantity, and quality here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yucky Goodness


I absolutely dislike chicken pot pie...a lot! It makes me want to gag (aren't you ready to cook it right now with that lovely description?). Creamy, chicken, gooey, gaggy stuff messing with my bread-it's a sin. I haven't found it in the bible yet, but I'm sure it's because I have not read it carefully enough-it's there "Thou shalt not mess with the breadeth by adding creamy junketh to it.' All this to say-this is a recipe for chicken pot pie that I like....a LOT. Which is sort of an antonym for all I stand for on creamy, chicken, yuckiness. A gal at work brought this years ago, and she offered the rest of us some. I cringed inside, held my nose, and took a bite ('cause I'm charming like that), and....I found there is an exception to that whole creamy chicken rule after all (because it's none of those things)! I always like breaking rules. In addition, it's just about as easy as chicken pot pie gets (not that I'm going to try out any other recipes to compare-I'm not that crazy). I bet there are food snobs out there that would turn up their nose b/c it doesn't involve broiling chicken, shelling peas, and creaming potatoes (I have no idea what I just said). BUT....if you need an easy dinner, I recommend this. The NICE thing is it makes two pies, so you can freeze one, or make it for friends that you are delivering food to...which then gives you an excuse to hold their cute babies. It all comes back to holding the babies, and this pie'll get ya in the door. I like babies. I like this pie too. I've always liked babies. I haven't always liked chicken pot pie. ...and if a train is traveling east from Chicago at 3.2 mph...well, I hope they serve this pie in the food car.

Ingredients:
2 boxes of refridgerated pie dough.
1 12 oz can of chicken chunks (drained)
1 can of cream of potato soup
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 14 oz can of mixed vegetables (drained)
Egg wash
Instructions:
1. Place pie doughs in the bottom of two pie plates.
2. Mix all the ingredients, and pour half into each pie shell.
3. Top pie shells with the top piece of dough. Trim edges, roll, and crimp.
4. Brush with egg wash, and cut slits in the top.
5. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes (until crust is golden brown).

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Project...Because it's Monday...

I got this frame at Michael's for a dollar a few weeks ago...they have tons of shapes and sizes in the unfinished wood section, I know...'cause I was there again today. I didn't get any more frames, which was really difficult for me, because I had a little Dave Ramsey moment. Did I mention it was really hard for me to leave the others there? It was...really...hard...for...me. It's just a dollar (or 6 considering how many I'd usually get), but....you should see my project pile. I should hope the local fire department NEVER sees my project pile, I could be ticketed as a fire hazard.

What is not shown is that it's actually a pretty thick wood (maybe 1/3 of an inch? ...and yes, I use the term 'wood' lightly...). It comes with a little spoke so that it can rest on a table, or hang on a wall. There is no glass, but that would be easy to rectify if you wanted. I don't 'want.' Because it was Monday (which has nothing to do with anything) I decided instead of shoving this into one of the many...many...many unorganized locations that I keep project 'stuff' to mess with someday (in case I get snowed in and can't get to the craft store?)....I'd turn this into something. I had some paper from Hobby Lobby (seen below on the frame) and ribbon (I think I already mentioned this little 'problem'-I have a huge tub (OK tubs) of ribbon rolls), and decided tonight was the night. Carla's upcoming baby, Alexis is going to have a girlie animal themed nursery, thus-the giraffe print. Side note: I might be a little addicted to animal print-someday I'll detox.
OK...as for this-simple, simple, simple. I painted the edges brown. Then I used a gluestick to slap down two pieces of scrapbook paper. Next I used my Cricut (I might be a little addicted to this too) to cut out her names (stickers would work too). After that I used Mod Podge (another addiction, I like to diversify), and then slapped down a ribbon (I might be...oh, nevermind). It was still drying when I snapped the picture, but you get the idea.

Now to the root of the problem. I didn't make this for her baby shower (in a month, which is what I SHOULD have been working on b/c invites need to be made, printed, and shipped out at the end of this week). I made it for no reason. I already know what I'm getting for her baby shower, I already have her Christening gift, and so I guess that leaves a 'first time I get to see her gift.' It will be no problem filling a package with animal print goodies, 'cause I'm a little bit addicted. I was thinking about all the potentials of these frames-table number signs etc, but then I made myself stop...it's not good for my health to have these thoughts. I wonder what tomorrow will bring....because it's Tuesday.

Expectations


I was sitting in my car the other day waiting on an order, and I noticed this cleaner in a shopping center I've been frequenting for years. It looks like it's been there awhile, so I guess other people are as indifferent as I've been up until this point regarding the name. When I really sat and looked at it...I couldn't decide if I was disturbed by their lack of ambition as a place of business, impressed by their honesty, or confused by the willingness of people to drop their dry clean only products off at a place with an acclaim to mediocrity.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Scary Bedtime Stories

...so last night at 4:30 am...or so. Someone started slamming their finger on my doorbell. They rang it at least 8 times consecutively (I wish I were exaggerating). I woke up, Lilly gave a little 'ruff' from her post at the end of the bed (useless, dog). I laid in my bed, my heart pounded, and I thought "Please let that be my doorbell malfunctioning!" About two minutes went by, and then....at least 6 more rings, and then pounding on the door. NO, not knocking, POUNDING! They probably pounded ten times, which was 10 times, and 14 rings too many for me....and so I called the police. I pay taxes....and pay all my speeding tickets, so...I knew this was the safest choice. There was no more ringing, no more pounding, and nobody around when the police got here five minutes later. I don't know who it was, why they were ringing my door, or what they wanted, but I figured if they were still around....they saw the police. I did wonder if it was my brother somehow locked out (my dogs have been known to leap up and lock the door with someone on the outside). When enough time had passed, I ran across the house to check. Nope, not him-he was sleeping, and didn't hear anything. I didn't make him go outside. I did make him get up. Have I mentioned how annoying it can be to have your sibling staying with you while they 'get back on their feet'....8 months later (OK, minus 3 months or so where he moved to the country to get away, but...he's back)? Well, I changed my mind! So either Jason stays forever, or....I'm going to learn how to shoot a gun. I know, I know...there are all sorts of political ramifications to this statement....I think I've just taken all sorts of sides to issues I never knew about, but....it was the first thought I had, and lingers today. I'm sure it was someone at the wrong house, but....I feel sorry for whoever they were heading over to see b/c that's no way to wake anyone up...ever!

Ribs-And a Plea to Texas


I was feeling a little guilty this week after confessing my love for Oklahoma. (I'm still thinking about taking up the offer to feed ducks at the Oklahoma family farm from Heidi ;o), but in the meantime...) I don't want to be kicked out of Texas (yet), so I tried out a recipe that screams 'Texas'...to me. I've never actually been a huge fan of ribs. I wouldn't say meat has a prominent place in my life. This is probably due to the fact that 'meat' came in the forms of casseroles when I was growing up. I like casseroles, but you can only eat so many between the age of 2-18. Therefore, I'm not terribly great at cooking large slabs of meat....I'm working on adding it in. Well, until I can get those people who make that food pyramid thingie to agree to place skittles under the 'fruit and vegetable category'....hello-five a day-there are five fruity flavors, coincidence? I think not! Such a teeny tiny request I have, and when it goes through-forget you meat. I'd taste the rainbow daily, and ribs and skittles just don't merge well. I got this recipe from my friend Sonia. Her husband is a grill master. He does a LOT of research, and a lot of trial and error, and then...when he's done trialing, and erroring, I go over for dinner. He makes ribs so great....that I now can't say 'I'm not really a fan' of ribs, I double heart these ribs. The original recipe comes from a book called Smoke and Spice and the official title is 'Dry Rub-Wild Willy's Number One-Derful Rub' I call it 'The first ribs I ever ate, and really liked.' I guess you can choose which title you like best if you decide to add them to your recipe book.
Mix 3/4 c. paprika, 1/4 c. freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 c. course salt (or kosher, or sea salt), 1/4 c. sugar, 2 T. chili powder, 2 T. garlic powder, 2 T. onion powder, 2 t. cayenne.
You can leave this mix in a jar to use...whenever, and it's enough to cover 3-4 racks of ribs, depending on how 'spicy' you want it to be.
I halved the recipe when I made them, and used the whole thing, but I'd probably cut back a little next time, it was very spicy with that much coating. I know there are a lot of smoking methods to meat, but I just slapped them on the grill over some charcoal for 6 hours, and they were falling off the bone great.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Life-The Musical

Sunday kicks off my season tickets to the Dallas Summer Musicals. This year my cousin, Mom, Aunt, and I all bought tickets. We start the season with Phantom. This reminded me that once upon a time, I caught an episode of Ally McBeal in which she looked for her life's 'theme song.' I don't remember all the ins and outs, but throughout the episode she tried out various songs in her life situations. Since that episode (yeeeears ago), I've put my life to music. It's true, really-there are constant theme songs playing in my head. They aren't even songs I'd choose if I were making a list of favorite songs, but they chose me. Here are just a FEW....I have a song for just about every friend, and a plethora of life events that pop up. Please...send...help.
1. I'll be at work...perhaps having encountered an obstacle or two...or three, and I'll start singing (outloud, or inside my head-it all depends on the distance of the obstacle)....
I'm Still Standing-Elton John

2. Sometimes, when I'm feeling a little lost in the world....I have to sing this next song...it really-involves just about every situation b/c I have this passion for wanting everyone to like me. I think the "You're gonna love me..." part is where I get stuck. I need everyone to like me (even if the feeling is not mutual)..and I need to know why you don't...if you don't....and then I need to know your favorite cookies, your home address, and if you prefer me to pay you in cash, or cashier's check in order for me to make you like me. I'm working on this, but I still will probably always sing...
And I'm Telling You-Jennifer Hudson

3. This next song just makes me happy...no matter how unhappy I'm feeling. I can't even say I LOVE this song, but it always reminds me to be happy.
Dancing Queen-ABBA

4. I don't know why this is my 'driving' song....but it is...I go a little nuts singing along...and driving...anywhere...
Footloose-Kenny Loggins

5. ...and before I know it I'm crossing the Oklahoma Border b/c I was too busy singing....which then brings on a bad rendition of the O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A....where the wind goes sweepin' down the plains...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cream Broulee French Toast


I acquired this recipe a few years back from a group of ladies that I met on a quilting retreat. We all took turns providing meals, and a few of the gals prepared this for our breakfast one morning. It's made with Challah bread, which I LOVE. I sometimes think about crashing Jewish festivities just so I can have a slice, but then I remember-you CAN buy this at the store, with a little less controversy. This dish is not as 'sweet' as the traditional french toast, it takes on a more eggy/buttery flavor. It's a really fun twist on an old classic, AND something you can make in advance-this is a good thing!
1. You start by melting 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 lb of unsalted butter, and 2 T. of Light Corn Syrup together. Pour this in the bottom of a buttered 9x13 pan.
I could stop right here and just lick this up....it's so good.
2. Take a loaf of challah bread, and slice it into 1 1/2 inch slices. Place these over the syrup mixture. Squeeze all the bread into the dish. You may need to cut the slices into smaller squares to fit them into the nooks and crannies of the dish.
This is really hard for me b/c it's at this point I want to lick the syrup, and gobble the bread, and I have no interest in squeezing little bread squares anywhere but down my throat.
3. Whisk together 5 eggs, 3/4 cup heavy cream, 3/4 c. milk, 1
t. vanilla
, and 1/4 t. salt, and 2 t. Grand Marnier. Pour this over the challah bread. Cover the dish with Saran wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours/or overnight. I actually made this a day in advance and it was fine, even after sitting for a lengthy amount of time. I also left out the Grand Marnier the last time I made it-it may take away some of the sweetness, but not enough that you can't make it without it.
4. Take the dish out and let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes while a 350 degree oven preheats.
5. Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Top with powdered sugar, syrup, and drunken (or sober ;o)) strawberries, whipped cream etc.
-You can make drunken strawberries by mixing 1 c. of strawberries with 2 T. Grand Marnier, and 1 T. Sugar. Stir and refridgerate for 2-24 hours.
Ta Da-Breakfast is served.
Excuse me now while I go defend my membership to the Southern Baptist Church...;o)
Here is a picture (after baking, and pre-toppings) that shows you how the bread slices are 'squeezed together.'

Weather Forecast...a Recipe Rain Storm

I was just sifting through all my recipes for a project I completed last month (but can't talk about yet b/c I've got that whole-'wait until the person's actual holiday etc' thing going this year on my blog. Such a novel idea: surprises, some people actually like them (just not me)). BUT as I was wading through the mess of recipes I've become obsessed with making them all again....which is not good b/c I also have this large box of recipes from family, friends, and assorted chefs, cooks, bakers, and websites that I am drawn towards-and always eager to add to a weekly menu. This is why I had to reconcile with the stupid gym. No backtracking while going back into the ol' recipe box.
I think photography, and cooking are two things I like best (...this week), regardless of all the gluesticks, and fabric in my house that would lead you to believe otherwise, along with the less than stellar kitchen skills I sometimes exhibit-which is why I love 'other people's recipes.' They are tried and true, and more difficult for me to mess up. I'm always asking people for recipes, and I love it when people post things that really work for them, because I've made more meals that DON'T work than those that actually do-this is not fun for me.
So, I'm going to start my hand at sharing more recipes (though I can't say that I'm also going to take time to work on 'food photography'...I'm too busy chasing my dogs around with my camera). I've posted a few through the years, but now in an effort to keep track of my own experiences (which is what I use this blog for-private journaling-open for public consumption to keep me a little more censored).
I felt I owed an explanation to the direction some of these post are about to go. I don't know why I have to explain things on a personal blog, but that's just the kinda girl I am.
P.s. Did I mention I love it when people share recipes with me?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Teacher Gift: Clipboard



I've seen these clipboards around for several years now. Our fabulous PTA made the teachers at my school clipboards for Christmas, such a fun surprise. I've always meant to try one out....and finally...I did.
In the near future I'll be visiting with a friend of mine who is currently going back to school to get her teaching certification. I wanted to take along a little something, so I decided it was about 'that time.' I bet ya didn't know there was a 'clipboard time.' Gosh, I hope you didn't miss it, you don't want to know the consequences.
She's not really a bows, and frills kinda gal, so I TRIED to make her a clipboard that was a little more subtle than the animal print and be-ribboned clipboard I would make for...me. Let's face it, teacher's lives are also filled with things like this they may...or may not get use out of, but it was fun to make, and it'll be fun to give. It's the thought that counts-at least that's what my Mom said when I was little and got her a really large pair of yellow plastic star earrings with large clear 'stones' in the middle. She still claims it's her favorite gift....guess the love of glitter and buttons I have now was manifesting itself at an early age.
Back to the craft-it was really easy, I would definitey recommend it. I was looking at the second board that came in the pack and thinking someday I can make these for homework clipboards for kids I know. Maybe when I run out of recycled crayons, and the kids run out of a love of crayons. :Buying stock in clipboards now!:
As far as the making of a clipboard goes, easy. I found three pieces of paper (blues, and greens-and a little watermelon shade b/c I just couldn't stick in the blue/green family for the whole project). The blue paper originally just had flowers at the bottom, but I cut some out to scatter throughout the edges. I used a gluestick to slap the paper down on the clipboard. I chose to paint the edges of the board a green color, though I have seen where people wrap the paper all the way around....it seemed too complicated for me. I used Mod Podge to build up a layer of protection, though it kept wanting to bubble. I should investigate the cause of this-I'll add that to my 'someday I'll figure it out' list....which is even longer than the 'crafts I'll someday try' list. I will never be a perfectionist, so list one will forever be ignored. I also added a ribbon to the top b/c I couldn't handle not adding a ribbon...somewhere. I showed great restraint to leave buttons, glitter, and flowers out of this. And there you have it, just what you were waiting for....another craft. Moving on...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wants Vs. Needs

Things I want to spend money on right now...real bad:
1. test tubes (...don't ask, I'm sure you'll find out sooner than later)
2. pink bandanas (...yes, plural)
3. half pint mason jars (...the box I had dropped and they shattered, and now I 'need' them for an upcoming shower)
4. dutch oven (...maybe in red?)
5. pony ride rental (...here was my conversation with myself today regarding some party plans I'm making for a friend's co-ed/family oriented baby shower. You will NOT rent a pony. :looks up rentals online: You will NOT rent a pony. :checks prices: You will not rent a pony. :...ohhhh, and what about a bounce house for the kids that don't want to ride the pony?:
Things I need to spend my money on right now...real bad:
1. Today I arrived home to a small river beginning the erosion process across my yard....flowing across the sidewalk, and down the street where a rushing flow was entering the gutters. The city has assured me it's 'my broken pipe' to deal with. My home warranty has assured me they only cover stuff 'inside the house.' It looks like I'll be taking care of no-man's-land-pipe tommorrow. All the sudden, I was able to distinguish between the two list that are battling for my financial future. Please rewind my life 20 years, being a semi-responsible grownup is not fun for me right now.
P.s. $540 dollars later...I may 'need' a second job if this run keeps up. I see God is re=prioritizing my spending life, again. It is not my favorite lesson, but I'm listening.
P.p.s There will be no ponies at the party!

That's sooooo 2009...

The 70's had fondue.
The 80's had the feather bangs.
The 90's had the Hammer-Time Pants.
...and the 00's....they had-the diaper cake.
I can't get over the diaper cake, I blame it on Jodi. She made one, and shared her cute design with me. I made her dissect the process for me, and I have been 'baking' them up for showers ever since. It's a calorie free cake. Are they 'dated' though? No opinions were actually sought in the asking of that question. We have a shower coming up at work for a gal giving birth to a little boy. My team decided we were going to get her diapers-or rather, they decided a big package of diapers and other necessities were the best gift for this new Mom. I asked how we were going to 'wrap' the diapers because I was trying to wrap my mind around a package of diapers...they looked at me like I was crazy for worrying about the wrapping. They usually look at me like I'm crazy, so I should say-they continued to look at me like I was crazy. I told them nevermind, I'd take care of it...and I remembered....'the diaper cake.'

...thus completes another unnecessary to the world, but essential to me, project under the label 'Diaper cakes, does the concept age like slap bracelets?'
And just in case you don't have friends as fabulous as mine to show you the makeup of these...this is the innards of the cake...

I buy a tube of wipes for the middle (Walmart is the only place I've found that sells wipes in the round tube, and not the flat boxes). Roll the diapers to go around it. Jodi uses the little clear rubber bands you can buy at the dollar store to hold the diapers. I just started using little strips of tulle....because I have a few million yards of the stuff, but let's not talk about the amount of ribbon in my house-I'm a little worried someone is going to put me on the show Hoarders if I talk about this sort of obsession much more. The bottom layer I usually create with two rings of diapers (from a 48 pack), and I tie them together in the circle with string....or tulle. I cover the tie up with ribbon (like the one on this cake) or another colored tulle to match the other 'stuff' on the cake. The second layer is just stacked on this one, and tied into place, and then I usually just 'rest' the last layer on top of that. You could stick a dowel rode through the cake to hold the three layers together, but I've never had any trouble with it toppling. I like to live dangerously. Just so ya know....they are a little bit addictive...but I'll probably get over it...and go back to eating fondue in my hammer pants before too much longer.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cupcake-A-Thon

Does it get redundant to post pictures of cupcakes? Yes, I thought so too, but here you go anyway, all both of you.
My teammate is also a Mom at our school, and she volunteered with the PTA to collect used books to put towards the district's used book sale. The incentive for the classes was that the class in primary, and intermediate that brought in the most books would receive a special treat. If we do worse next year, I'll take it personally.
She's planning on going into each winning class to read a snippet from a familiar kid's book, and then serving up the cupcakes I made to match the theme.
Primary is going to read The Very Grouchy Ladybug

I googled "ladybug" cupcakes, and found a picture via google made with fondant. I don't know who did it, but I'm just saying-the idea isn't mine, and I didn't use fondant, but I'm OK with that.

By the way, I took a photo of this guy, and went to grab his 23 friends, and when I turned around he had flown off. I asked Max if he had seen him fly by, but Max was too busy licking his lips. Those ladybugs with their wings sure are tricky. I also remember anytime I make something with red or black icing how much I don't like making red or black icing. Even adding some powdered coloring to the gel color leaves a little bit of a strange taste. I recommend avoiding red and black, especially if I'll be involved in the mixing.
Next up are Intermediate's cupcakes. The book selected for this read aloud is How to Eat Fried Worms


I didn't need to google this, I've made enough 'dirt' dessert in my life, but I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to find a few million cupcakes on google that look exactly like this.

You needed to see this picture because as I was hunting down the ingredients for these and looking for green cupcake liners to look like grass for my ladybugs (I only found red), and then I 'needed' silver for the worms to get that 'frying pan feel' and I thought-there is not one person who is going to notice this, this is one of those things I do 'for me.' It's really all about me in the end. If you too have to make fried worm cupcakes, because I know they are in high demand-I only had to grind one row of Oreo's to make enough dirt for the worms...and I'd probably use chocolate icing next time. I wanted to pop an Oreo in the bottom of the liner and see how they baked up, but I was unsure of how many Oreos I need. Now I have to figure out what to do with those other two rows....hmmm. I also discovered that the silver liners bake a lot quicker than the paper liners, oops, the worms are a little crispy.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Confession

I'm cheating on Texas with Oklahoma. I hope Texas doesn't find out, but I find I can't resist the pull north across the Red River. I've always loved Oklahoma, and I head that direction more often than I head any other direction along these Dallas interstates. If you ask me where I'm from-it's Texas. I'm 'from here'...my family has been in Texas for hundreds of years, my great grandparents +++ lived in Dallas almost as many years as it's been a thriving metropolis. I consider it a PRIVELEGE to be from this state. It's true. We even study Texas history two years in our history courses in school, and it seemed normal to me that we spent an equal share on Texas and United States history-I mean, it's TEXAS...kinda a big deal (if you are Texan, otherwise, it's probably just annoying). I'm obnoxious about it, I'm proud of it, and I feel a little sorry for people who just 'get here as soon as they can' and weren't born into the sisterhood (or brotherhood, or statehood...whatever). I have Oklahoma envy though-I think it's a beautiful place. I like the people. I like the pace of life. I like the state tax rate. I love the state park system. I love the prairie. The prairie doesn't overwhelm me like the beauty of some states, they sneak up on me as I'm driving...you look, and all the sudden...wow. To my knowledge I have no family from Oklahoma, but I want some family from Oklahoma so I can visit, maybe spend summers there, I get off the entire month of July (minus one birthday celebration-I'd want to celebrate in Dallas-it's my hometown, afterall), maybe I could nanny for a month? Mow prairie grass (do people mow prairie grass)? Write travel brochures where I use the word 'beautiful' and 'super' and 'really good' to describe everything. I hope Texas can forgive me. I hope someone from Oklahoma will consider adopting me. I want to be a Texoklian.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Oklahoma City National Memorial



I've wanted to see the Oklahoma Memorial since my Mom went a few years back and came home with some really breathtaking pictures, and moving memories. Growing up, this sad event defined pieces of my youth. Living in a relatively self-absorbed world, sometimes there is something big enough that makes even a 15 year old stop and remember there are tragedies beyond current high school experiences. I'll never grasp the experience completely, and I certainly have no explanation to offer for those that dealt with this on a more pesonal level. I've dealt with personal tragedy, but never anything that was so intertwined with so many other's tragic stories, and a nation's pain. I think visiting the site helped put another piece of that experience into perspective. When I visit my Dad's grave-I know the piece of him I want to have is not there, but it reminds me that he was real...despite all the years that have passed, His soul is STILL real, and his love still remains. There aren't graves at the memorial, but I know it's been visited by many of the families and friends looking for those answers we all seek when tragic events happen.
There is a metal fence that surrounds the outsides of the memorial.




There are an assortment of stickers, pictures, wreaths, baby rattles, crosses, and flags. I know family member's have left these memories of their loved ones. I know visitors have left these momentos to represent their journey here, and their understanding of the loses that were suffered, and it's impact on them. I looked at the items, and I was wondering why they were each left, what they represented. I saw this baseball...

I wondered if it represented an adult's passion cut too short, or a child that would never get to play on a little league team. The one life lesson that struck me (that I'm always trying to relearn) is that all these momentos represent the things, and the passions these people left behind in this life, but the people they represent-they aren't missing these experiences now that they are in heaven. Those of us left back here on earth are missing out on getting to see them go through these events in OUR lives, but if we knew where they were, it wouldn't be sad to think about what they didn't 'get' to do here on earth. I wish I could wrap my mind around missing someone, but being grateful too that they no longer live in a world with so much pain, and tragedy-the opportunity to play on a baseball team never replaces the pain in life. It's OK to be sad for us, but not for those that go before. Life IS beautiful, but it's a whole lot better in heaven, and I forget that far too often.
The memorial sits on the spot where the federal building once sat, and parts of the wall, furthest from the bomb, still remain.
This portion of the walls has a tribute to all the survivors of the blast.

There is a reflecting pool (where the van was parked) that sits between these two entry ways. Each entry is marked with a time. 9:01, and 9:03.

The minute between those two times represents the events that took place. This is where all the chairs sit. They are marked with names, in rows that represent the locations these people were at this moment in history. The smaller chairs represent the children (many of these were on the second floor at a daycare).

I felt comforted in seeing the steeples that stand over each corner of the memorial. It kept putting it into perspective for me. I don't get it. It's not fair. It's not right. It's not what God would have chosen, but for some reason the events were allowed, but it has to be filed under the 'I'm not going to get this on this side of heaven' category, but I have to trust in the ultimate plans.


This tree sits on the other side of the reflecting pool, and it sat here before 9:01 on the day the bomb was set off, and it remains there today.


The new Federal Building sits to the diagonal of the memorial.

I've been blessed with the opportunity to visit many memorials over the years, and I think this memorial did one of the best jobs of bringing me comfort. It really captures the essense of those that were impacted, and the beauty in the lives they lead. I'm glad I went, I'll be going back again.

Oklahoma City


I've driven through Oklahoma City many times, and I've caught glimpses of the city skyline. I've always wondered about the capital city, but never deeply enough to make a point of stopping. A few years ago my Mom attended a conference there, and told me she loved the place. She showed me pictures from her trip, and I HAD to get there. I've been trying to plan a trip North along 35 for almost two years to see the things she saw. I didn't want to commit to STAYING there until I was sure I liked it. Nobody talks about OK City. I thought maybe the conference was just REALLY boring, and she was just making the comparison based on that. It's been difficult to carve out a day to make the trip. It's about 3 (3.5) hours up the road from here. I've planned it on several tentative dates, but I also wanted a pretty enough day to do a little walking around, and a slow enough weekend to not be stressed about a day away. This Friday I had the day off work, and after recieving an unexpected day at home, I woke up on Saturday with no Saturday School (rare), snow still covered the roads, but the streets were clear, and so Mom and I drove north.

We stopped along the border to take a break, but the ladies in the visitor center were so sweet, and they kept offering up information, and we accidentally found out that this weekend there was a bull riding competition being held in the stockyards, AND a huge craft show on the fair grounds. I did NOT need to know this....
We arrived downtown, and our first stop was the Memorial-which is really the reason I wanted to go. I have to blog about this separately. It's beautiful. It's moving. It can't be sandwiches in this silly post.

On a side note, the men on duty that day at the memorial were just about some of the kindest, most helpful people I've ever met. I was asked at LEAST 5 times by each man I passed if I had any questions, or needed any directions. They are ALL invited to my birthday party.
After we visited the memorial, we drove down to the stockyards.

Sure enough there were enough cowboys to make the process authentic, but how about this little guy...

:This portion of the blog is brought to you by "My southern roots forget the letter g and other random, stereotypical southern sayin's.": I wanted to steal him reeaaal bad, but his grandfather looked very large. Not only was he stinkin' cute, he looked up at his Grandad as they were waiting to cross the street, and he said, 'Giddyup, Grandaddy.' All I'm sayin' is...it's a good thing his grandfather is so big.
OK, so then we grabbed some 'grub.' I had read about the Cattleman's Cafe in 1,001 Places to See Before You Die (I'm one place closer).

It was worth the stop (I did take pictures of the food, but I'll save you). The important thing is they brought out these huge crouton's with the salad that were soooo good, and giant homemade rolls with the main 'stuff.' I got a Saturday lunch special, and for 8 dollars I got a salad, all the previous mentioned bread, corn, mashed potatoes, and chicken fried chicken. It was a steal. The booths, and innards of the restaurant were 'old,' but I think that's the point, this little landmark has been serving up meals for over a hundred years. We had to wait outside for about 30 minutes for a table (at 2:30 in the afternoon). I don't know if it was the competition in town, or if it's always this crowded, but it was a good choice.
I also managed to run into a little store called Stockyard's Mercantile across the street from the restaurant, and find a few cute things.
After the stockyards we headed over to the craft fair. They were hosting a HUGE craft fair called Affair of the Heart.

I'd never heard of this before, but apparently it happens several times a year (I think the next show is October 22nd). It was 6 bucks to get in, and we didn't even see half of it (because we weren't expecting to be going). There were no less than 7 HUGE buildings full of vendors (we walked through 3, and I managed to buy as many things). There was enough bows, rhinestones, and glitter to keep me happy. (I think a lot of the same vendors sell in Canton-a collection of homemade food mixes, sewn goodies, craft projects, jewelry, antique vendors etc).
We headed back down the road at that point, and didn't have time to see Brick Town (which Mom said reminds her of the riverwalk in San Antonio with restaurants etc built along the river), or hop on and off the trolleys at the downtown stop. They also have a great 3A baseball farm team that feeds into the Rangers (I feel a ballpark dog coming on in my near future). I'm definitely going back, and I'm definitely spending more time exploring the city. I coudn't have asked for a better combination of experience, or prettier skies. I think we are in serious like. Oklahoma City, where have you been all my life?
My entire album (almost) is here: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=3494392&l=8f73bf5093&id=725172809

This Side of Single

In all seriousness....because Serious is my middle name (ask my Mom)-when it comes to this 'love business'...Valentine's doesn't 'really' bother me as a single person (despite my prior post). Nope, it's the other 364 days that get under my skin----kidding....back to seriousness:
I was surfing the net, and reading people's Valetine's post, and feeling grateful that many of my real-(and imaginary) blog friends have found so many people, places, and moments to love today....and all the days that brought them here. I can make a list of lots of things, circumstances, and people I love, but when it comes to that whole 'romantic' love thing-I can only feel very, VeRy, VERY grateful that I am not currently spending this day with the romantic decisions I wanted to make at 16....18....21...24....28....or even 30. I can't say that I look back with any regret, or any discouragement regarding all the things that didn't work out for 'me.' I'm so grateful I can look back with understanding. There are circumstances, and people I wondered (in the moment) how I'd ever get over if it didn't work out, or how I'd ever like anyone more. But today-I'm more single than I've been since I was 17, and I know with all certainty this is exactly where I'm supposed to be right now, because I wasn't supposed to be in any of those other circumstances I tried to squeeze myself into. I don't think I'm supposed to be single forever, but the person I'll someday add to my list of reasons for celebrating love is definitely not the idea that I brought into this world through my own human desires. The closer I've grown to God, the further I've traveled from that image of what I thought I needed. I'm honestly very glad not to have a 'Valentine' (I'm using this term lightly-I have plenty of things I love, but you know what I mean) this year b/c the only Valetine(s) I can think of are memories from the past, and I think I've already covered the whole-I'm glad those plans didn't work out b/c they were mine, and they were messy, and not well thought through (nothing against those old crushes-they were right for other people). Sometimes I forget that I'm perfectly happy where God has me, and I start looking ahead, trying to rush the plan out of frustration. ...but then I look back, say a DEEP, and HEARTFELT thank you to God for intervening on those accounts, and look forward to His plan for the future, knowing its exactly where I should be headed...wherever that is, and enjoying where I'm at-whereever that is. As long as I'm no longer insisting on steering this ship, the sailing should be a little smoother! Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Originality...or Lack There Of

When I was little, I used to have a 'secret' way of cooling off on hot summer evenings. I'd lay in my bed until I couldn't stand the heat any longer, and then I'd flip the pillow over. I was refreshed, because I had discovered that no matter how hot the rest of the covers, blankets, comforter, and top of the pillow were, there was a secret cool side of the pillow just waiting until I was ready to be rejuvenated. I thought I was so smart to have discovered this, and I guess it's pretty obnoxious to think that I never shared this 'secret' with anyone else. BUT THEN, I remember standing in school one day and looking at poster advertising an upcoming party, and the poster maker had written: "It's going to be as cool as the other side of the pillow." I was shocked to discover that other people had discovered this, in fact, enough other people that there is apparently even a saying referring to my secret! I thought I was going to patent this discovery! This summer, we were discussing ideas at work, and the head of the LA department mentioned that even if you have a clever idea, someone has already had that idea at some point in the history of life! Perhaps this was said to keep us humble? Whatever, I'm fine with that-and I openly admit to loving, and 'lifting' ideas from other blogs-though I want to believe I always site those sources! It's perhaps a little bit of a pet peeve of mine to give credit where credit is due!

If You Have Reached this RECORDing By Mistake...


This morning I slept in (thank you, overeager, Dallas, decision-makers), and when I finally crawled out from under the covers...and two sleeping dogs-it was to discover 12 inches of snow had ultimately fallen in the last 24 hours (5 more inches than our record). Wild. I took the above picture last night, but this morning I was feeling too lazy, so you'll just have to visit facebook for everyone else's photos. I had huge limbs all over my yard. I consider this nature's way of tree pruning-it'll save me a buck or 400 later this spring (Dave Ramsey would totally approve). I also have a pine tree, and some bushes in the back that have completely collapsed-I choose to believe they are just resting. There were several snowgiants gracing just about every other yard from here to Fort Worth, snowball fights in full force, and even ice walls being built for protection. I would have taken pictures, but I didn't want to be taken INTO protection for snapping pictures of local kids, so you'll just have to take my word for it. The great thing was that the roads were actually safe to drive-and so, I did. I ran errands, I went to the gym-I turned my twenty minute mile (because I'm serious about exercise) into an 18 minute mile-whoa-I know, I'm thinking about putting my iphone down next time and seeing if I can shave off another two minutes. What's that? I need to do more that be AT the gym to make this relationship work? That's not what my imaginary trainer says, she and my imaginary counselor both agree I'm light years ahead of where I was last week-don't judge me, or I might sic my imaginary body guard on you. ...I may need to call my imaginary friends from now on if I keep up these other imaginary relationships....some people don't appreciate this piece of 'me.' (Insider's Comment: Maggie, consider your friendship with me a little slice of charity-nobody frowns upon charity work, OK?) (Second side note: How was I on my phone all day and I still missed 9 calls, and 4 text?) I did many other exciting things today in honor of no work-I made a diaper cake for a shower, began piecing together a clipboard for a teacher gift, painted a Styrofoam 'sculpture' I'm making for an upcoming floral arrangement, searched for the perfect 'Easter' paper for a gift I bought (yes, I know Easter's in April-I bought it in December, so I think it's great restraint to have waited this long to wrap it), tried to decide the best way to attach some pipe cleaner arms to a cake topper I'm gluing together (and can't stand), melted used crayons in molds, changed socks four times, watched the Olympics at Maggie's house with friends (despite her trepidations about spending time with me), and I'm about to floss-I floss every February 13th, it's a tradition. I'll make sure and post lots of pictures of these exciting adventures, especially the flossing. All true, girl scout's promise. I know what you are thinking, HOW hasn't some guy snatched this jewel up? I ask myself that just about every night, then I roll over next to my three dogs, in my messy room at 3 am when I finally go to sleep dreaming of stickers, and sprinkles, and I leave the mystery for one more day. Notice I didn't clean, enhance my intelligence, volunteer for great works, check my phone messages, or solve world peace....only because those are my plans for tomorrow. Today I had to enjoy my snow day, and then I read Jo's blog, and she tried to one up us here in Dallas by posting pictures of what I believe might be a ski slope that they are building in their front yard in ND. APPARENTLY her snow is bigger than my snow. She's probably crocheting ski jackets for all the upcoming tourist, and discovering a refreshing, homemade juice smoothie she will serve as they come in to refresh themselves. I'm going to get one of my crayons and write down my feelings about this turn of events....P.s. Jo, when you put in the ski lifts, can I come and stay at your resort?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Texas Size Torture


The weather philosophy in the DFW area has always been that they pretty much cancel school in Texas when people spill ice trays on the sidewalk in May. So... to be in school...with actual, real-live, snows on the ground....my mind cannot comprehend! Canceling school with the threat of ice is not unusual, and it's a valid choice-you should see the way we drive with ice on the road. (On a sidenote-you should see the way I drive WITHOUT ice on the road-it's not a whole lot less frightening.) Anyway, the students and I sat here all day watching all that snowman worthy snow fall while the drills went forward....with a prediction of as many as 6-8 more inches (something that has NEVER happened here in my lifetime)....and we waited to be released from prison...I mean school....yes, school-that was the word I was looking for...the good news is the snow has, and will continue falling most of the night so everyone can get their snow-fill.
P.s. This is the fifth time we have had snow this year-something else that has never happened-if we get anything it's usually ice, and it only stick around for half a day. Where are those global warming people now? Probably in a nice warm ski lodge! We've already broken the Dallas record....and we have a few more hours to go.
P.p.s I know I'm old...as I watched the snow fall today-I thought-well, crud-what's THIS going to do to my electic bill?
P.p.p.s. I just got a call-no work tomorrow-that's more like it.