Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Better than Brownies!

What is better than chocolate fudge brownies?? How about chocolate fudge brownies that you don't have to make yourself!
I'm not usually a brownie mix kind of girl, but Princess REALLY wanted to bake something all by herself and I thought this would be easier for her than baking from scratch. She picked out the mix all by herself (I think the word "fudge" is what swayed her!) and then carried the box all through the grocery store. I had to put a halt to the brownie box lovefest when, at the register, she was bestowing lavish kisses all over the box before putting it on the conveyor belt.
Handsome was not pleased to be relegated to the role of observer, but he was pacified by the promise of warm brownies. Meanwhile, Princess did a GREAT job! She read the recipe and did a really good job with it--I did help with the amounts of the various ingredients though. She's great at reading, but we haven't covered fractions yet!
I had her stir with a fork because I didn't want to deal with the huge mess she would have made with the handmixer. She didn't seem to care though!
The brownies were wonderful and Princess was so proud of herself! I'd post a picture...but we devoured them already! Yum!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pumpkins in March?!

My five year old has been taking ballet since September of 2007 and her spring ballet recital coming up--she will be a pumpkin in the Cinderella performance. I'm trying very hard not to think about how much money I'm paying for her minimal amount of stage time...but let's just say it is cringe-worthy! The cost of lessons, performance fees, costume fees, and ticket fees (yes, we must buy EXPENSIVE tickets in addition to all the fees!) really adds up. As in hundreds of dollars. Ouch. They're doing three performances and she's on stage for about three minutes in each performance. Yup. Not exactly a fiscally sound move on my part, but she is very very excited about this. *sigh*

I'm excited that she is a pumpkin (her whole class is) because she's been my pumpkin since before she was born--I painted my pregnant tummy to look like a pumpkin back in October of 2003! She even dressed up as a pumpkin for her first Halloween. The costumes the studio chose aren't exactly my style (shiny orange leos?) but they do the trick. I think tutu dresses (that I could have made for waaaaay less than the costume fee) would have been cuter, but whatever.

The problem is that these leotards and matching headpieces are supposed to be for flower costumes, not pumpkins. So I was volunteered (not quite sure how that happened!) to turn the flower headpieces into pumpkin headpieces.

The headpiece on the left is how they all came to me--not nearly as cute and fluffy as in the picture on the costume company website! I started by cutting off the fluffy bits in the middle of the flower (as you can see in the headpiece on the right.)
Then I korked some green grosgrain ribbon to make the pumpkin vines. To kork ribbon you just wrap the ribbon around wood dowels (use clothes pins to hold it in place) and bake it on a clean cookie sheet. I spray the ribbon-wrapped dowel with water, too, before baking it at 205 for about 20 minutes.
After baking it, you can spray it with starch to help it keep the tight kork (especially if you're making bows with it), but I didn't need to do that. I just took the ribbon off the dowels and cut it into shorter bits. (And yes, I korked more ribbon that what I'm showing here!)
See, nice and curly! This is like the ribbon that stores like Gymboree use to make their hair curlies. You can buy korked ribbon on etsy and other sites, but it is SO simple to kork it yourself.

Anyhow, then I made stems out of felt and stuffed them...then I hotglued everything onto the headpieces. I fixed the "vines" down in a few spots so that hopefully the little girls won't pull them straight.
I think they look very pumpkin-y and the director loves them!
Princess is very excited that her mama made all the pumpkin heads--she's easily pleased!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sibling Love

My children bless my life in so many ways. Yes, they do drive me (and each other!) crazy on a daily basis, but they truly are blessings. I love seeing their relationship with each other. They adore each other and look out for one another. They are each other's best friend and spend hours playing together. They have their own routines and games that make sense only to them.
It truly warms my heart to see them interact with each other. This isn't to say they never squabble because they certainly do...however they freely kiss and hug each other and they almost seem to feel the other's pain if one of them is hurting.
I hope their strong relationship continues to strengthen over the years and withstands the many pressures that are sure to come during the upcoming years.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A quick project done...eight months later!

Way back in July I posted about a pedestal dish project that Cindy at My Romantic Home made out of some cheap products. Well, I finally made mine...eight months later! I ended up not using the original cheese dome that I found at St Vincent de Paul (because I had the worst luck trying to find a plate to go under it) and instead used a different cheese dome and glass plate that I bought for $2.99 at a local thrift shop. I paired them with a candlestick from the dollar store and some E-6000 glue...and voila! I finally finished this project!
Now I need to use it in my decorating...I think it would look sweet with some grass and some eggs for Easter.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Knock, Knock!

After February being such a crazy month with emotional highs and lows, I needed to take a hiatus from my blog...but I'm back now.

In addition to my grandma's death and Handsome's testing, we also refinanced our mortgage down to a fifteen year loan (ack!!) and moved forward with our addition to our house--we're going to be breaking ground in about 1.5 weeks. Yes, February was a crazy month and was more than a bit too much for me to handle.

So, how do I handle crazy amounts of stress? I clean...I clean little areas that nobody ever looks in and that really are kind of a waste of time to clean...so I clean them and then get annoyed that nobody ever notices. Luckily the area that I decided to clean this time around needed some extra attention, so people did notice my hard work...and my family is reaping the benefits of this cleaning spree.

When we painted our downstairs, we never got around to painting our teeny tiny coat closet. In fact, the coat closet kind of became a black hole. Yes, there were coats in it, but there also was a pile of stuff for Goodwill, my camera equipment, miscellaneous packages of bubble wrap, and all sorts of other junk! The children's coats weren't even in the coat closet because they couldn't reach to hang them up.
Did I mention that this is an awkward little closet? Awkward to use and awkward to photograph! Here is another picture with the door removed before I emptied the closet and painted it.
Yes, lots of STUFF in there--including some pretty frames I forgot I bought to hang up in the dining room! Whoops!

I emptied the closet out and used leftover paint to finally give the closet a fresh coat of paint--the first it has had since the house was built 13 years ago! We're the third owners of this house and the first to paint the downstairs at all...so those closet walls sucked up the paint like a dry sponge!
Next I sorted out all the stuff that *was* in the closet and repurposed two bins (from Target) that had been storing puzzles...now their new home is the top shelf of the closet...and they really helped organize the chaos! I had my husband hang up a row of hooks (less than $10 from Target) for the children to hang their coats and I put an extra shoe rack (a castoff from a friend at college about 13 years ago!) in the bottom of the closet to hold our snowboots.
It looks SO much better now...and there still is room for my husband to put his gigantic workbag (backpack/laptop case) as well as for our American flag to tuck into the corner.
I think my favorite thing is this row of hooks. Prior to this the children had their coats hanging from a wall shelf in our entryway and it was getting out of control. Now they're tucked in the coat closet and the children can hang them up themselves!

It's a tiny space (the hanging space isn't even two feet wide) but now it is organized and our entryway looks better too because there no longer are small jackets flung all over the place!

Monday, March 2, 2009

New look to my blog!

What do you think of my new look? I *love* it!!! Kelly at Fabulous K Creative did it for me and was SO helpful at walking me through the process. I highly recommend her! Aaaaand, if you follow her blog, she periodically runs contests for her followers--which is how I *won* this blog makeover!

Thank you, Kelly!! You are THE best!!

Oh, and I need to update my blog bookmark list...I quit updating it because I now just use Bloglines to follow all of your blogs...so don't be offended if your blog isn't listed!!