Friday, March 27, 2009

Getting Older

A few days ago we celebrated Anton's birthday. He couldn't decide what he wanted to do for his special day so we kindof just winged it. We left the kids with a friend and drove downtown. We wandered Pike Place Market, sampling all the foods. We got some specialty cheese to nibble on while waiting to get piroshky from a Russian bakery. Then we decided we were cold enough, so we went and got hot chocolate.

We headed back home and got the kids. Then Anton opened his presents.

We got him a light that clips on his hat for while he's running, and an iTunes gift card.

Grandma and Grandpa got him a shirt...

and a weather station.

He loved all his new stuff and played with the weather station for a long time.

For dinner we had buffalo chicken, just like last year. It was super tasty. We invited friends over for cake and ice cream later. I made Anton a coconut cake from a Paula Deen recipe. It wasn't the kind of coconut cake I had wanted to make, but it ended up really good. I made coconut because when we were dating we had coconut cake all the time.

He blew out his five candles (only 5 were real, the rest were left overs from the RS cake), and then we ate. And that's about it. Not a terribly exciting recitation of the birthday festivities, but I guess I'm not feeling the writer's spark tonight.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Relief Society Birthday

Yesterday was our Relief Society Birthday Enrichment night. (The Relief Society is the women's organization in our church for those who don't know.) We had a service auction for our activity and decorated the room like a birthday party, streamers and ballons everywhere. Not only was I in charge of the activity, but I also decided it would be fun to make a birthday cake for it too. So while trying to get all the last-minute details in order, I was also baking a cake.

I had the cake gods working against me on this one. First of all, the bottom layer of the cake was in the oven for almost 2 hours and still wouldn't cook all the way through. Finally I deemed it cooked enough and just chopped the uncooked top off. Then when I was taking that layer out of the pan and layering it, it was cracking like crazy. Then I made a new type of frosting, and while it was a super smooth frosting, it tasted like Crisco. So double the amount of sugar later and it was finally passable. Then it was time to make the filling. Instead of boiling down raspberries to make this filling like I normally do, I decided to just mix some seedless raspberry jelly into some of the frosting to make a raspberry cream type filling. I mixed and mixed and mixed and mixed, and no matter how nice it looked while I was mixing, as soon as I stopped it seperated. It looked like pink cottage cheese. Not good. So no raspberry filling.

After all of this I was ready to head to the grocery store bakery and call it good. But I gave it one last go, threw it all together, and managed to make it work out in the end.

The bottom layer was bright pink in my kitchen, but under the gym lights of the church it looked salmon. Oh well.

It was the 167th birthday. It's not everyday you get to put that large of a number on a cake and I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

And since we couldn't have real candles in the church, I made them out of chocolate. Those were my favorite part. Yum.

As far as the rest of the activity, it seemed to go well. I was too busy running around arranging things to even notice much that was going on. People gave good feedback, and someone even said it was the best Enrichment they had ever been to. This was huge since it had been a bit of a struggle to get the powers that be to even let me do the activity. So all in all everything worked out in the end. And now I can take a week break before starting to plan the next one.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Chandelier Project

I finally found freezer paper! This means the chandelier project could move forward. And because I'm a fickle person who can't make up her mind, the project has changed yet again. But never fear those who voted on the chandelier placement for the chair, your advice has been heeded. But due to finding a cheap black pillow at IKEA this last week, I decided to paint it on a pillow rather than the chair. It's what I had wanted to do in the first place, but since I didn't have a pillow I was just going to paint it right on the chair.

But on to the project. First I printed the pattern out on paper and then traced it onto the freezer paper. If the picture had been small enough I would've just printed it right on the freezer paper, but the pattern was too big. Then I cut the stencil out of the freezer paper. This step took the longest. I had to keep track of all the little middle pieces, which is not so easy with kids lurking nearby. Then I ironed the stencil onto the pillow.

There you can see the stencil ironed onto the pillow, the cut out part, my freezer paper, Xacto knife, pattern, etc. Freezer paper is fabulous because you can print on the paper side, and the waxy side will stick to fabric when ironed on but peels right off when done. Fabulous stuff.

Then it was time to paint.

I used acrylic paint with this stuff mixed in that makes it like fabric paint. I had to do two coats because the black showed through after the first coat making it all look grey.

Then the moment of truth. Once it was dry enough I peeled off the stencil.

You might not be able to tell from the picture, but the edges are all jaggedy. This is because the fabric was really textured and the paint seeped under the stencil in some places. But I figured this would happen and I don't really mind.

And then even though the slipcover says it's for a 20 inch pillow and the pillow I bought said it was 20 inches, when I stuffed them together it's like Ella wearing size 6 clothes. The cover is just way too big on the pillow. Oh well. I'll have to get a bigger pillow sometime.

There it is, on the chair.

Looking a little saggy, but not bad. Not bad at all!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Breakfast Bliss

What's better than a giant bowl of Lucky Charms?

What's better than a fluffy Belgian waffle?

How about a giant stack of chocolate pancakes?

Yes, I said chocolate. It's like eating cake for breakfast and it's about the best breakfast food ever. Try them. You'll like them!

Chocolate Pancakes
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Combine sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and oil. In a separate bowl combine the rest of the ingredients. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour about 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto a medium heat griddle or nonstick skillet. Cook until bubbles form on top, 1 to 2 minutes, then flip and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Then smother with maple syrup and eat like a pig!

(A substitute for buttermilk is to put 1.5 tablespoons of lemon juice or white vinegar in a measuring cup then add milk to the 1.5 cup line. Let sit for a minute or two, and then you have buttermilk! It's basically a 1 tablespoon to 1 cup ratio, lemon juice to milk.)

(Recipe courtesy of The Essential Food Storage Cookbook.)

Friday, March 13, 2009

My Smart Little Girl

So it's probably not terribly good form to talk about how smart and wonderful my children are. But since this is my blog, I figure I can get away with it.

The other day I came home from doing I don't remember what, and I had left the kids home with Anton. Ella came running up to me with a paper and yelling, "Mommy, look! I got a Great Job!!"

She showed me the paper, which was a bunch of math problems.

Anton had gotten enthusiastic and printed her out a page of math problems to do. But you know what? She's really good at them. She can add any number from zero to ten to any other number from zero to ten all by herself.

I wanted to see this for myself, so the next day I printed out another page for her to do.

And sure enough, she did them all by herself. And you want to know how she does it? She uses sign language. Since you can count to ten on one hand in sign language, she will count out the first number on one hand, then continue counting while signing up to the second number on her other hand. That probably doesn't make sense, but it's amazing to me that she can keep track of the number she is adding and the number she is counting at the same time. Crazy stuff. Should a four year old be able to do math already? Having never had a four year old before, I'm not sure, but it seems to me like this is a bit early to be doing math.

I also tried doing some subtraction, but she has stated definitively that she doesn't like taking things away. Oh, well. We'll just stick with addition for now. Crazy, smart girl.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Is my oven crooked?

I don't know. Maybe just a little bit?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Toad in the Hole

The other day I didn't feel like making oatmeal for the kids for breakfast again, again, again. So instead of feeding them I was chatting online with my sister. I lamented to her my woeful breakfasting situation and she suggested that I make Toad in the Hole. She gave me some quick instructions, and the kids and I headed off to the kitchen.

First you have to cut a hole in a piece of bread.

If I let the kids do this we get some nicely off-centered holes. But that's okay.

Next you need to grab yourself and egg, and make sure you have the most important element on hand, the non-stick spray.

Spray your pan, put in your bread, and crack an egg in the middle.

Let it cook for a bit, then flip it over.

This is the part that I think give it the name Toad in the Hole. The egg starts to poof up like a toad's throat. I let it cook just long enough to solidify the white but not the yolk. We all like runny yolks around here.

Then cut up, eat, and enjoy.

The kids love to eat this and ask for it all the time now. And you can always save the circle cut-outs to make little round PB&J for lunch. Round sandwiches are always a hit!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Today's Creative Efforts

Instead of doing all the work I needed to do and instead of doing laundry or any other useful thing today, I continued on in my need for creativity. I can't explain what it is right now, but I just have this crazy urge to do anything and everything artsy crafty. Today was no exception. So here's what I did today.

First of all, I taped a bird to my wall.

I felt the need for a little happiness above my blank window in my living room.

He's just sitting there above my horridly messy desk keeping an eye on everything. I just cut him out of red paper and used contact paper to stick him to the wall. I would've used tape, but our tape is still in a box somewhere. Sad, I know.

Then in keeping with the hangar theme of before, I used another pants hanger to hang up the little shorts that Ella wore home from the hospital when she was born.

I made those letters back when we lived in Florida.

Now they hang exceptionally high above her horridly messy (do you sense a theme here?) dresser that's missing two knobs. Anton hung them. He doesn't understand the concept of even spacing and the like. I'm just lucky they're in a straight line.

I'm now kicking myself for not keeping any of Alex's baby clothes. I was determined to prove that I won't be having any more children and I got rid of them all. So though Alex has cute letters too, he's got nothing fun to hang from them. Sigh.

I also spent a fair amount of time trying to decide on exactly how to paint a chandelier on my chair. Random, I know. But I think it's cool, so humor me. And since I can't decide for the life of me, how about you all decide for me? There are three choices:

First is the large and slightly off center.

Second is small with the ceiling cornice thingy whatever it's called showing at the top.

Third is large and hanging off the edge.

So cast your vote, and once I can find some freezer paper (makes for a great cheapy stencil material), I'll will actually get it painted on.

And my final work avoidance task of the day was to iron piles of plastic grocery bags. I've read a few places about fusing the bags together to make them into a kind of plasticy fabric, and I thought it would be fun to try. So try I did. I had partial success and will continue my endeavors until probably a reusable tote has been created. No pictures of this one yet.

So there you go. If you need something to waste your time, just let me know. I'm sure I can come up with something good! And let me know what chair you like best so I have something to waste my time on another day!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sewing and Stitchey Expo 2009

Yesterday I took the afternoon away from the kids to go to the Sewing and Stitchery Expo. I wasn't sure what my goal was in going, but since I've been doing some sewing things of late, I figured I'd check it out. Most of the show was geared towards quilters or clothing makers, of which I do neither. I had heard there would be great deals on all sorts of things, but the prices all seemed high to me. But it was fun to wander the booths and see the amazing variety of things that people do with fabric and thread. And let me tell you, there are some super duper fancy sewing machines out there in the world. If I had $8000 to blow, (yes, there are three zeros after that 8) I would buy this fancy thing:

It does free-motion stitching and you move it with those handles. The faster you move it the faster the needle goes so your stitches are all the same length. That sure would make my little embroidery projects look much nicer. But alas, no $8000 here.

I got to see a little DIY clothing demo done by the Threadbanger folks. They are all about repurposing clothes and fabric rather than throwing things away. They do cool videos weekly. It's where I got the idea to do freehand machine embroidery.

The coolest thing I saw was a booth where they made quilts that looked like those photomosaic posters. I've tried to find a picture of a quilt that looks like the ones I saw, but I can only find simpler ones. You can check it out here. The quilts I saw weren't pieced with squares. They used shaped pieces of fabric, and they were absolutely gorgeous. If was ever going to quilt, this is what I would do. So sad I can't find a good photo. ... Okay, so after some hunting I found a close example. You can see some in this Etsy shop. The ones I saw weren't all people and there were a greater range of colors and stitching accents, but you get the idea.

All in all it was a pretty good break from the kids. And I managed to get myself a little something too.

Yep, two spools of thread. Such a big spender I am. But it's supposed to be good and it was 40% off, so we'll see how it goes!