Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bathroom Transformation

Cue the Hallelujah chorus, it's (almost) done!

I love my bathroom so much that even though it is still the size of a postage stamp, it makes me feel content every time I step through the door.  

We went from 15 year old builder's basics to a slightly customized, cool, calm, and collected retreat, and with some tough decisions we kept it within budget, too.  


Honey oak cabinet transformed by Martha Stewart's "Magnetite" paint.  We kept the faucet (but will replace eventually).  Medicine cabinet replaced with white framed mirror.  We sacrificed space for looks.  Worth it.  Wall color: Martha Stewart "Heavy Goose", color matched to Behr's Premium Plus Ultra. Hard to see, but it's a pale blue-grey.  The walls were an odd grey-green color before.



15 year old carpet (in the bathroom!) replaced with TrafficMaster Allure Vinyl Plank Flooring in Clear Cherry.   Flooring was our toughest decision.  Laminate?  Tile?  Vinyl? Peel-n-Stick?  We were pretty set on peel-n-stick "for now", with the intent to tile later.  Instead, we went vinyl plank, and I am so happy.  It is a snap-together plank flooring that is waterproof, has a wood grain, and resists marks. It also has a lifetime warranty! It was in-stock at Home Depot, and the color is "Clear Cherry".  It looks like more of a beech or maple to me, but it has the light color & dark variations I wanted.  It took 2 boxes to floor the tiny, tiny bathroom, and was our biggest expense at about $50/ box.  We love it so much that we plan to (eventually) re-do the other bathroom floors using the same product. 


New towel rods from Target.  I lucked out, and these were on clearance for $8 each.  This replaced the single wooden dowel that was off-center under the window.  The mat & towels are also from Target. They were clearancing a huge aisle of bath items, so I snatched these up & they match!
                                     



Disgusting ceiling fan no more!
We took it down, vacuumed the inside, painted the ceiling, ran the light cover through the dishwasher, sprayed the plastic part with brushed nickel, installed a cfl, and VOILA! Clean & updated. 


Last but not least: mirror & vanity light.
This mirror replaced the one I custom painted to match the vanity, and then broke trying to put back into the frame.  So sad, but lesson learned.  I think it works because it echoes the white in the shower curtain and trim. The light was also a Home Depot clearance find.  It is more modern than I would usually choose, but I liked the frosted covers, and I liked that it projected the light up instead of down (down light casts hard shadows - who wants that?).  The pull on the vanity has the same curve & the towel bars also have slim, brushed nickel lines.  

What's not done:  well, my shower curtain is still at least 12" too short, the TP holder should be arriving any day, I haven't found a coordinating fabric to turn the blinds into a roman shade, still need to find shelves to go over the toilet, and I'd like to replace the faucet & shower head.  All those are minor because in the big picture I looooooooooooooove it.  Those little not-done items are the "cherries" that will make it even sweeter, but so far this bathroom is my favorite room in the house. 

Note about paint:  I am totally on board with Martha at Home Depot. The colors are really great, and the paint formulas apply & dry exactly how they are supposed to.  I also LOVE the Behr Premium Plus Ultra.  I was skeptical about a primer+paint, but it delivered the goods.  The only reason I even tried it was because they were out of stock in the Martha Stewart paint I wanted & HD agreed to price match it while using the more expensive formula.  I love it when a store does the "right thing" for a customer.  Home Depot is a 40 mile round trip for me, but I won't buy paint from the other home improvement giant again.     

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Of Spiders and Bathrooms

Good gravy.  It's been so long since I've posted that I actually had to go in and check my own blog to see what was important enough that I wrote about it.  It's only been a week, but it feels like a month.

I feel like I've run into a case of writers block.  Or boredom.  Or maybe it's really apathy?  Mixed with a touch of lethargy? And a dash of Pinterest burnout.

I'm sure no one wants to hear about how I'm enjoying my new organize/grocery/clean/laundry routine & how it's working out (pretty great except I am going to have to split up laundry day so I don't end up burning out by the 5th load).  And no one wants to hear about how I continue to stall on painting the 2nd, 3rd & 4th coats for the trim in the upstairs (but I have figured out that next time, it's TRIM FIRST, then walls).  Or how I've still been spending too much time on Pinterest, and have decided that while awesome, it's also a bit intimidating.  I mean really, as much as I'd love to be crafting googly eye wreaths and glittering faux crows, the fact that the nearest decent craft store is a 2 hour drive has put me into a bit of a funk.  And while I'll eventually respond with moxie and determination, I don't really care enough about Fall decor to get too bogged down by my lack of enthusiasm/readily available wreath forms.

Besides, I am actually a little too concerned with battling real spiders to worry about crafting darling fake ones from pipecleaners and ric rac.  For reals - we have one the size of a silver dollar who has set up camp next to my front door, and her little sister is spinning a home across my front columns.   I was really hoping that we'd get a cold snap & Mother Nature could do the dirty work, but our recent hot/sudden rainstorms/blue skies & fluffy white clouds weather is not working in my favor.  So Ms. Spider spins & I plot.  Arachnid Showdown begins at 10am tomorrow.  

Image from Familyfun.go.com


But in the Good News column: The Master Bath is DONE.  Well, except for the No-Sew Roman Shades I want to make, and the toilet paper holder that I just ordered from Amazon, and the shelves we need to drive 4 hours round trip to buy, and of course the adorable-yet-reasonably-priced baskets I have to yet to locate to go on the shelves... but otherwise, it's done!  I had high hopes (because really, almost anything would have been better than the boring builder's basics that had been in place for 15 years), but even I am amazed at how well it turned out.  Considering that we couldn't afford to replace the vanity, and that I broke the mirror I custom painted to match, and that my once-beloved white quilted shower curtain has shrunk 12 inches (Machine washable?  Apparently not.), it still looks fabulous.  I am not posting pictures yet because I will be making the shade this week, and I need a nice sunny day for pictures, but a full post is coming with images, sources, and a scintillating review of my many mistakes opportunities for learning.  So stay tuned, all 3 of you loyal readers.  I promise, I'll Hulk smash the apathy once it actually starts feeling like Autumn (this week?) & get back to regular posting.  Happy Fall!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Limitations


I am not SuperMom.  Or SuperWoman. Or even SuperAmy.  I want to be.  I wish I were.  But I am not.  I have so many limitations, and I struggled against them for years.  But I am tired now.  Or perhaps that truly is just code for "older and wiser".  And as the days and months seem to increasingly fly away from me, acceptance begins to creep in and wrap itself around those struggling thoughts, soothing them into a placated state.

I find that the more accepting I become, the more peace I find in my life.  My husband would likely disagree.  He sees my moments of productiveness, and he sees my hours of apathy.  But in between those lie moments of sweet peace.  Of knowing that I can't have it all, or do it all - and I don't want to.  I don't have to try and Go! Do! Be! every minute of every day.  Some days it's OK to revel in the moment.  To take joy in the sweetness of a brunch date with my Boy, to wallow in long, long moments of "just browsing".   To steal that hour and get lost in the pages of a book.  It's all Enough.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

To Coupon or Not To Coupon?

I have never been a fan of grocery coupons.  And yet with a new budget and a new location, I wonder if I'm missing out on some big secret or club.  We all know I love to save a buck.  But my grocery bill is pretty stable from month to month, and I'm racking my brain to figure out a way to bring it down.  I already plan meals, avoid impulse trips to the store, eat leftovers, bake my own bread, and divide & freeze larger portions of meat, breads, tortillas, soups & stews.

I have yet to see Extreme Couponing, but I've read some of the stories (and criticism).  Would I love to save 90% off my grocery bill?  Heck yeah.  Do I want to store 10 year's worth of baking powder in order to do so? Not so sure.



My big problem is that most of the coupons I run into are for items that I wouldn't normally buy.  While I am all for trying new things, with a picky husband, and 2 fairly picky kids to worry about, I am not super excited at the prospect of saving 15 cents on 4 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup with New, Improved Smoky Flavor!  I also don't have the extra space to store 98 rolls of toilet paper or 112 packs of spaghetti.  And really, can anyone even eat that much food before it spoils?

Do you have any tips & tricks for saving on groceries?  Using coupons?  Stretching your dollars?

PS - I once tried to access an online coupon for some item I wanted & would use.  I ended up getting more junk messages than I ever received in the history of my email account.  Totally not worth saving $2.50 on soap.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Changing Things Up

For me, a move always signifies the chance for a new beginning.  An opportunity to change things I don't like and expand upon what's working.  Coupled with the new school year, and a whole new layout for our house, and we are ripe for an update around these parts.  

I've never been one to work from a set schedule, always preferring to fly by the seat of my pants.  I always get the job done, but maybe not in the most orderly - or sensical- fashion.  This year I'm trying out a loose, weekly household schedule.  It goes like this: 

Monday: Organizing, Dance, FHE
Tuesday: Library, Grocery, Baking
Wednesday: Cleaning
Thursday: Laundry
Friday: Fun Day!
Sat/ Sun: Open

A friend of mine in Michigan always cleaned her house on Wednesday.  It offers the chance to get it all done, have it tidy for the weekend, and keeping up on the cleaning means that it doesn't become overwhelming.  With more space to worry about, I am all for staying underwhelmed.  And I'm not so organized that I have a cleaning checklist for each room - it's usually pretty apparent what needs to be done.  If this goes smoothly, I do plan to enlist a Seasonal Checklist like those found at Martha Stewart. (seriously, I know she has a polarizing effect on people, but I can't help but love me some Martha). 


The above schedule isn't set in stone, but I'm really hoping that it helps me stay on top of things.  We've also set stricter limits on TV time, re-instituted chores for the kids, and are working towards a solid weekly bedtime.  I don't want to be a rigid household where we live and die by the clock, but a little structure is good, right?  

Do you have a daily or weekly routine that helps keep you & your household sane?  Any tips to share for staying on track?   

Monday, September 12, 2011

About the Move: ABF

This move was both one of the easiest, the hardest, the quickest, and most drawn out of the many, many moves of our marriage (this was #7).  We normally go with the DIY method of renting a large truck with car trailer, but I this time I took a risk and we moved by "container".

After surfing the interwebs and price comparing, I decided that ABF was the way to go.  ABF offers a number of options, but we chose the container move.  This means that a 28' truck trailer is delivered to your home, and you pack it.  Then, THEY move it.  YES.  No driving a giant truck while hauling a car trailer behind you.  No $150 fill-ups so you can drive 100 miles and do it again.  And best of all, we had 5 days to pack it up!  

(picture from justinsomnia.com)

The 5 days is where it started to turn into the "longest" move thus far.  5 days meant we didn't have to rush, but it also meant that it felt like FOREVER.  Add to that the transit time (2 days for us), and that the pick-up doesn't count, and well, it turned into an 11 day move.  Despite the drawn-out process, I was totally impressed with the customer service, the price, the timing, and the outcome.  Let me break it down.  

Customer Service:  I first submitted our info for an online quote.  Within 2 days, I had a call from customer service to go over the details.  I didn't make a reservation at that time (this was about 6 months before our actual move), but once we nailed down our timeline, I called and locked in the quote. About a month before the move, I was contacted by customer service again. He verified that I had received the documents I needed, and walked me through the process.  He also answered all my crazy questions, and directed me to some online videos for clarity.  Super helpful.  I scheduled the drop-off, and although I wasn't there when the trailer arrived, the driver was professional, helpful, and very fast.  Same for the pick-up, scheduling the delivery at our new house, and the actual delivery.  Top-notch. 

Price:  Price is determined by number of rooms you are packing, and is approximate.  Cost was comparable to the truck+trailer+pay-for-gas-drive-it-yourself method. They did extend us a $50 veteran discount (I asked).  And we saved another $60 by using 2 feet less than we reserved.  I was very pleased.

Timing: The trailer was delivered on a Wednesday (it was a little cheaper to have it dropped off on Tuesday or Wednesday), and we were given 3 days to pack it up.  BUT weekends don't count!  So we actually had 5 full days to pack it up.  The trailer was picked up on Monday, and there was a 2 day transit time to our new house.  The bonus is that they are flexible on delivery, so I was able to schedule delivery for that Friday.  We took the weekend to unload, and it was ready for pick up on Monday morning.  

Outcome: Our stuff was delivered safely, and any damage incurred was definitely our fault.  I would absolutely use them again, and would recommend them without reservation.  Unpacking was the most interesting part of the journey.  We were light on help when we packed up, and didn't expect much for our move-in (although I had asked for help, and was assured a few people would come).  We got started at about 7am on Saturday morning, and plowed through about half of the truck.  And then we had a dozen people come help!  I was blown away.  They knocked out the rest in less than 30 minutes, put our washer & dryer in place, and then stayed to mow the lawn.  Now that's a warm welcome!

Other tips & tricks:  
  • I had a terrible time finding boxes this time, but was so, so lucky to get boxes from an aquaintance whose family had recently moved.  It was a military move, so they had tons of boxes & paper to share.  I also bought 10 small boxes from Lowe's (super inexpensive & good quality).  
  • We didn't have a hand truck & ABF doesn't rent them, so we rented one from our local Home Depot for $6.  
  • ABF also doesn't rent moving blankets & I blanched at the cost of renting from the other usual suspects ($50 for 12 small blankets).  I got around this by visiting my local thrift store!  I spent $12 and got 6 very large blankets.  Add in our own stack of blankets, quilts, tablecloths & beach towels & we were all set.  
  • I picked up a set of Space Bags at Costco for $20.  This was a huge help in packing blankets, bedding, clothes, pillows, towels, etc.  After sucking out the air, I put the compressed bag into a heavy-duty garbage bag.  Easy!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

This Is How My Week Went:

Monday: Rejoice in a quiet, rainy day at home with the family. Ran to Home Depot & 2 Lowe's stores.  Bought bathroom supplies: cabinet paint, mirror, cabinet handle, light fixture.  Also broke down & bought 2 patio chairs & cushions on clearance (love them!).   I painted the cabinet in the bathroom, and stared morosely at the blobs of paint I fudged on the ceiling.  Decided to tackle that another day.

Tuesday: First "normal" day in months.  Big Sis back to school, Big Daddy off to WORK!  Work, work, worky, work.  Oh work, I rejoice in thy word & shall rejoice even more in the paycheck thy will direct deposit to our checking account in 10 days.  Went to 2 grocery stores, made calzones & apple spice cake as celebratory dinner.  Painted inside of cabinet door & first coat on mirror.

Wednesday: Big Sis was sick, so we stayed home.  Too much TV & not enough sunshine left all of us a little cranky.  2nd coat on cabinet, door, mirror.  Managed to touch up the bathroom ceiling & it looks tremendously better.  Stared at the patches of peeled off ceiling paint in the bedroom & hallway.  Could not muster the energy to tackle the mess of sanding & painting.

Thursday:  Oh Thursday.  I was feeling so ambitious, and then You Sucked.  I realized that I was going to have to take apart the mirror or else I would see a little bit of the brown wood reflected from the inside.  *sigh*  I pried it apart, and painted the inside.  I also painted the cabinet door, touched up the paint on the cabinet itself, and sanded, primed & painted the baseboards.  I decided to try the No-Knead Bread recipe.  Fell walking up the stairs while holding my phone and the computer.  No technology damage, but my hand still feels like something is out of place.   Realized I forgot a key ingredient for dinner & had to face Walmart before dinner.  Then, I threw a temper tantrum while attempting to make Boneless Buffalo Chicken & proceeded to tell Big Daddy that he could "Make His Own _______ Dinner".  Not one of my better moments.

Friday: Broke the bathroom mirror while trying to put it back together.  Scratched the cabinet while hanging the door.  Bought the wrong spray paint.  Had to move the washer & dryer across the laundry room so I could install the new furnace filter.  Almost crushed the furnace filter trying to wedge it into place.  Big J soaked himself going potty at Sears (a first.  the soaking, not the Sears visit.).  Walked the local mall & felt infernally depressed at the plethora of Deb/ Rue21/ Charlotte Russe's & distinct lack of Gap/ Banana Republic/ Sephora.  Cut off the tops of all the buildings I was trying to take pictures of.  Burned the bottom of the No-Knead Bread.  Sent Big Sis off to a last minute sleepover, then got a midnight phone call that she wanted to come home.  *big sigh*    

I have high hopes for next week.  It's GOT to be better, right??    

Friday, September 9, 2011

Product Review: Fels Naptha Laundry Soap


Until a few months ago, I had never heard of this product.  A friend in Michigan mentioned it, and said it worked wonders in taking out stains.  Being the mother of 2 chocolate-ice-cream-loving children, I am ALWAYS on the look out for a new stain removal product.  Well, this isn't new, and is in fact over 100 years old!  

Although it was created as a laundry soap, a common home remedy was to use it to combat the contact dermatitis resulting from touching poison oak or poison ivy.  It can be grated & added to the wash to remove the residual oils left on clothes after touching the plants.  

Personally, I have used it only as a stain remover.  I spray the affected area with water, rub the soap onto the spot, and let the item 'soak' for about an hour.  My best results come when the garment stays damp, and I commonly only let it 'work' for about 15 minutes before starting my wash.  It doesn't work on every stain (if you know a product that does, PLEASE let me know!), but I'd say I get great results 8/10 times.  It has even taken away/ faded old stains!  

Fels Naptha has a strong smell, and I store it inside a ziploc bag in my laundry room.  Because of the smell, I also keep the paper wrapper on the bar, only peeling away as much as I need to expose the surface the soap to the garment.  The bar is quite hard and I expect to use about 1 a year.  I found this in the hand soap aisle of the local Meijer, but have also seen it grouped with the laundry soap at Walmart.  Best part: It retails for about $1.00!    

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day Trippin': Longaberger Homestead

My Mother-in-Law came to visit last month.  She flew into Des Moines, drove back to Ohio with the kids & I, and then kindly wrangled them for 4 days while we were floating on the Caribbean.  When we returned, it was time to show her a little local flavor.

The tour of our new hometown took an entire half hour, so I expanded our Ohio love to include a trek out to the Longaberger Homestead.  I wasn't that familiar with Longaberger - I knew they made baskets, and that's about it - but I had heard it was kind of a big deal, so away we went.  We toured the rolling countryside, and lo & behold, in the midst of verdant farmland, there were several very, very large buildings.

The grounds were lovely.  Being that it was a Thursday morning, we almost had the place to ourselves.  We took a mini shuttle to the Factory Tour, and I came away thoroughly impressed.  Not only was the tour free, informative, and personal, but the product being made is really great.  Yes, they are baskets, but every basket is made of maple veneer, and all the wood is harvested here in the U.S.  Once the maple is made into veneer (again, a process only done here in the U.S.), it is shipped to Longaberger, where it is custom cut, dyed, and woven BY HAND.  Yep, every basket is made by hand.  And boy, were those hands fast! Our tour guide said that she has been with the company for 19 years, and every weaver on the floor has been there longer than she. At one point they employed over 8,000 people, but after 9/11 and the changes to our economy, the workforce shrunk to around 900.  Given the rural setting, and that this is a privately owned, family-run business, this still makes Longaberger a major employer in the area.

World's Largest Apple Basket

After the tour and a stroll around the grounds, we explored the Factory Store.  Although many items were beyond my budget, I did invest in a medium server and a Christmas basket (love those extra 30% off sales!).  The quality is really top notch and I intend to use these for many years to come.  If you get a chance to take part in a Longaberger party, do it!  Your checkbook may suffer, but you'll come away with some beautiful, high-quality, made-in-America baskets. And if you're in the Columbus/ Cleveland area, you should check out the Homestead & Factory Tour.



I'm sure my husband thinks I need another Christmas item like I need a hole in my head.  
But can you ever really have too much Christmas?  
No.  No, you can't. 

I know.  It's pink.  
But it's going to be really cute at Valentine's Day and Easter!


Note: The information contained in this post is solely my personal opinion.  I have no connection to Longaberger, and was not compensated in any way for this visit, this post, or the purchases I made.  If someone would like to say thanks with a free basket or two, please contact me!  ;)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Trip to Des Moines

When we were given the opportunity to attend Med School graduation this summer, it was never a question of "if" we would attend, but "how".  In the end, it required two separate road trips and a slight re-routing of vacations (My MIL flew in from Provo.  Did you know there are flights out of Provo now?  Indeed, and I hear they are very popular).  For me, it would be 28+ hours in the car with my children. Totally worth it.

And everyone was so excited to return to Des Moines!  So excited, in fact, that Big Sis set her alarm for 4am on the morning of our departure.  I hadn't slept much anyway, and after the adrenaline rush of a cheap alarm in a quiet house, I wasn't going to nod off again.  Away we went at 5:30.  I intended to break up the drive into 2 days, but after crossing Ohio, Indiana, and most of Illinois, I figured I would tough it out & make it all the way to Des Moines by rush hour.  

My reward the next morning was breakfast at La Mie. And then I had breakfast there every day we were in Des Moines.  I'm sure I gained 5 lbs. from the delicious bacon-spinach omelets.  It was worth every ounce.  


We followed up breakfast with a trip to Costco!  Oh Costco, I miss you so much.  Your Organic Strawberry Spread is beyond compare. 
After a difficult few weeks in our new, still-filled-with-boxes house, topped off with 14 hours in the car, the kids earned new dress-up outfits (thank goodness for Halloween product available in mid-August).   Big J especially loves his new muscles. 



OF COURSE we had to hit up the Iowa State Fair while we were in town.  Seriously - La Mie every day & the chance to go to the Fair?  It was like the Universe conspired to bring together the Best of Des Moines just to bring me joy.  If I'd been able to see the dear friends who just moved away from IA a few weeks prior, it would have been an ideal trip.  Close enough, right? 




100 Years of the Butter Cow!


After much begging, Big Sis got to choose ONE ride to go on.  Then, after I fainted from the realization that it was going to be $10 for both of us to ride together, we boarded the Ferris Wheel for a fantastic view of the Des Moines metro area.  



4 days in Des Moines, and I loved every minute of it.  Good Food, Good Fun, and Graduation?  
Good Times, indeed.  
  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Weekend Getaway

A few days after graduation, this handsome devil swept me away for a weekend vacation.  


We took a quick cruise out of Miami, down to Nassau, and back.  
It was 2 days and 3 nights of kid-free bliss. 

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my kids.  But I think every marriage can benefit from time away.  There's just something about eating dinner without having to ask for the 14th time that your companion SIT DOWN AT THE TABLE.



Miami, as the ship left port.


We left on Friday afternoon, and avoided any travel delays resulting from Hurricane Irene. 
The only impact was that there was damage on the "private island" we were supposed to visit on Saturday.  As a result, we left the port & just hung out on the ocean that evening.  It got a little bumpy so we had a very quiet night at sea. Saturday became a day at sea which meant sleeping in, a late breakfast, pool time, nap time, and lots of reading.  It was blissful. 


                                      

The Harbor at Nassau.  Look at the water!


Paradise Island - Atlantis

What cruise would be complete without towel animals?  


The elephant was cute....


 The mouse.... a little creepy.  

Our vacation ended all too soon. A day of flying home brought us back to reality.  But then I had Jeni's Ice Cream for dinner, so it all ended well!


Even though it was barely 4 days away, it was a much-needed opportunity to celebrate his accomplishment, recharge our batteries, and remember what it was like to be a married couple (and not just Mom & Dad).  I wish we could do this every year.  


Monday, September 5, 2011

Back to School

Our Summer was cut short with school starting 10 days ago.  Yes, it's already been 10 days.  Although it brought an end to our lazy days (or not-so-lazy August), I was secretly humming the Hallelujah chorus as the thought of a stricter routine and fewer cries of "I'm bored".  While she dove right back into the swing of things, I am still adjusting to the dreaded Making of Lunch each weekday.  More hated than the annual school fundraiser, the Making of Lunch is my most detested of school rituals.  While she would happily eat PB&J nearly every day, I always feel pressured to come up with something more creative than the standard sandwich-water-fruit/veg combo.  Some days we win, some we lose (PB&J on graham crackers). 


She was fashionably attired, as always. 
Umbrella - the must-have accessory!
It complements her outfit, doesn't it? 
(yep, picked it out herself)


New, sparkly lunch bag!


She was excited to see her teacher again. 
We missed the school open house (held a few days before school began), but happened to drop in that afternoon.  Her teacher was kind enough to give us a tour of the school & Big Sis' 2nd grade jitters were soothed after having looked around.  

Another first: she's now a bus rider!  Although we only live about 15 minutes from school, she is committed to riding the bus.  She is picked up almost an hour prior, and dropped off nearly an hour after school.  It makes for a long day, but she swears she likes it.  My girl is growing up!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Guess What?

He graduated!

After 4 of the longest years of our life together, he GRADUATED




Don't get any high-falutin' ideas, though.  

I may have to call him Doc now, but he still has to mow the lawn every week. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I'm Not Even Sure Where to Begin

My little blog, I know I have neglected you.  I know.  You don't need to keep reminding me with your baleful stares and spotty August posts.  I'm back again, and I promise to do better.  We have much to catch up on, so let's begin with a new look for Fall (OK, it's now September, we can proclaim our love for Fall even though it's supposed to be 96 today).

Do you like it?  I think it feels Fall-ish without being too overwhelming.

Anyway....I promise, we will catch up on all the summer happenings, and yes, it feels crazy that summer is essentially over despite the fact that I vividly remember it being June 15th just yesterday, and then feeling like summer was going to be a giant void of packing and moving and unpacking and no fun whatsoever.

I was wrong.

It was mostly about the packing and the moving and the unpacking, but the Fun was there too.  Oh boy, was it there.

So let's begin by showing my geek side, and talking about cupcakes.  Not just any cupcakes, but Harry Potter cupcakes.

Yes.


OK, I can't even remember which cupcake recipe I used exactly...because the blog page I borrowed this from didn't specify, and 2 months have passed since I made these, and I am a giant dork.  I think it was just a basic devil's food cupcake recipe. 

Oh, and let me insert the back story, too.  Harry Potter came out, and some Michigan friends threw a great Harry Potter party.  They asked that you either bring a Harry Potter food, or dress up.  We were already partly packed & I was frazzled, so food it was!  And of course, if it's a party, I have to do cupcakes.  I found a recipe for Cauldron Cakes based on the Felix Felicis potion, and who couldn't use a little more good luck?  I had to modify it a bit because it was blazing hot in my kitchen, and there's no way I could pipe the cauldron handle & have it not melt into a tiny pool of brown goo, so instead of Cauldron 'Cakes, we have just plain Felix Felicis Cupcakes, and boy were they GOOD.  


I won't detail the whole process, but I will say that the secret to the goodness was coring out the center of the cupcake, dabbing ganache inside, then piping in marshmallow filling.  YES.  It was hard not to simply eat the ganache by the spoonful, but when combined with the marshmallow filling and the devil's food cupcake, it was even more amazing. One last time.... AMAZING.    

So there you have it.  Fun party, great food, and I even got to sneak away that Monday & watch the movie in blissful peace.  Yay!