my quote of the moment: "if you can attain repose and calm, believe that you have seized happiness." ~julie-jeanne-eleonore de lespinasse

September 29, 2010

my obsession for group theme costumes

it's that most wonderful time of year again in a child's life: halloween. when otherwise responsible parents allow their children to dress up and go knocking on doors at night asking strangers for candy.

ok ok, so most parents don't just let kids throw on a costume and go out and about. i'm sure most subscribe to the same practices that i do, which is we go with our children in well lit areas, only going to houses of people that we know. still, the getting free candy and running home to gorge yourself is pretty sweet to anyone under 10. and many over 10 i'm sure.

well, knowing halloween is coming fast, and not wanting to have to dig through the lame costumes that get left behind (really, what kid wants to be uncle sam?), i went this morning and picked out what my kids are going to be. of course, we sat down together and decided what kind they wanted and i went and got it for them. or, really, it was we sat down and they decided to agree with what i wanted them to be.

it may sound strange to some, but i really care what my kids dress up as. i mean, they're boys, and until fishie gets older, i don't really have to worry about costumes like "sexy nurse" or "sexy fairy" or "sexy black cat." i do want them to dress up as something different every year, and even though it may sound crazy, i like to pick a theme for them to be. i'm really not sure why, but i like it when my kids dress in theme costumes. like last year they were both ninjas, and the year before that they were transformers, and the year before that they were both superheros. four years ago would have been lumpy's first halloween, and i wasn't in a position to buy them both costumes, so we raided the dress up chest, and bumble was a fire fighter and lumpy was fighter pilot, which kind of works as "cool occupations" theme.

so now, to continue the tradition of themes, my boys will be knights, which they were totally fine with. much like letting them be ninjas last year, any costume where they get to carry around a sword is fine by them. now, i know i could have dressed up fishie as a princess to match, but i think she'll make a much cuter dragon. i even plan on sewing bows on the little head piece, just so people know she's a girl dragon.

so this year is done. now to start planning the costumes for next year. i mean, it never hurts to be prepared and look ahead, right? and discounted, end of season costumes are so much cheaper. maybe bumble would be uncle sam, and i could probably throw together a statue of liberty costume for fishie, now what could lumpy be?

September 27, 2010

just one of those days

you ever have one of those days where you just wanted to stay in bed but you knew you couldn't because your alarm clock happens to be a seven month old without a snooze button? yeah, this morning was like that for me.

i knew i couldn't stay in bed anyway because i had tons of calls to make and tons of stuff to get done. and i actually accomplished everything i needed to do today. so why don't i feel like i got anything done? probably because there are still so many things that i need to do, even though i wasn't planning on doing them today. so yeah, tomorrow is looking like a busy day also. this whole week in fact is looking like i should start taking notes so i don't forget anything. and hopefully i won't lose my notebook, which has happened and was awful. i write things down so i won't have to remember them, and then i lose the thing everything is written down on, it just makes me want to cry.

oh well, onward and upward or some such happy hopeful stuff. i do believe that if i can survive this week, i'll be able to get through anything.

September 25, 2010

the best laid plans...

so when last we spoke, i talked at length about apples and pie and such. as much as i would love to tell of how many wonderful pies i made, and how great they smell and awesome they taste, if i want to be honest i really can't say any such thing. now, it wasn't because things didn't go well in the kitchen, it's more like i found other, better things to buy at the farmer's market on friday. concord grapes for instance, which were so ripe they made my car and the fridge smell fabulous, a smell which also reminds me of long ago and far away when my family would visit my great grandparents farm, because they had vines in their yard. i also bought peppers, which i am turning into stuff peppers as we speak. so even though things didn't quite go as planned, i have plenty of good things to eat.

September 23, 2010

pie in the sky plans

it's finally fall, which just happens to be my favorite time of the year. the cooler weather, the longer nights, getting to wear jeans again, and of course the awesome food. now i've never really limited myself to making food when it's seasonally appropriate, but somehow those warm and comforting flavors taste better when it's the kind of day that you want to curl up on the couch and snuggle with a loved one. or maybe it's just when you're eating foods in season, things are fresher and more full of flavor, they're perfectly ripe and ready to go. whatever the reason, i've set my sights on getting a bunch of apples this weekend and doing some serious pie making.

i've always loved apple pies, and i've got quite a collection of recipes. i have been tweaking things for years so that i get the perfect consistency of sweet apple and spicy cinnamon, and my pie crusts are always light and flaky. when i was growing up i used to help my mom make apple dumplings, and we would make dozens in one afternoon. now, i don't really have the time or patience to make all those little dumplings myself, so i've switched to making pies, which i can wrap and freeze and bake as needed.

i'll admit i look forward to making these pies every year, the simple act of making dough and filling i find calming. and knowing that with a little heat and time, my creations turn into mouth watering dessert just makes me so proud. the other bonus is that frozen pies make wonderful gifts, all recipients have to do is pop one in the oven for an hour or so and they have a homemade apple pie hot and fresh and just for them.

now i already have all the flour and sugar and butter i'll need, so hopefully tomorrow i'll be able to hit up a farmer's market to get the apples. i personally like to use mackintosh or smokehouse, nothing too juicy, and definitely nothing that turns to mush in the oven, but something that still has the clean flavor of apples when it's all said and done.

this year i'm going to try and keep things simple. a few years ago i got two bushels of apples, and all my help left me high and dry, so i was left to peel and cut and roll and wrap and freeze 18 pies all by myself. it was way more work then i wanted to do, and i almost called off pie making the following year. last year i tried to keep things simple by just getting apples off the trees in my dad's yard because he had tons, it had been a great growing year. the problem was that he didn't spray for bugs or anything, and i spent hours cutting out the bad spots just to get enough to make four pies. so this year i plan on one bushel of apples. i'll make as many pies as i can with that, maybe 8 if i'm lucky, and i'll call it a day. i'll let you know how it goes.

September 22, 2010

fashion unconscious

it is officially fall now, which of course means cooler temperatures. or at least i thought that's what it meant here, even though the weather channel tells me it'll be 94 on friday(?!?!), but warm weather isn't what this post is about. technically it's not really about cold temperatures either. it's going to be about how fishie needs to stop growing so quickly, and that she only had two sleepers that fit her big bottom, and that after having two boys i was sorely lacking in the baby girl clothes department.

i honestly didn't know what i was going to do.

well this morning it was mommom to the rescue!

she had been talking for awhile about taking fishie and i out on a shopping spree, so she could spoil her precious grandbaby with new outfits, and finally our schedules clicked and we were able to go.

on my random errands out and about over the past few weeks i had been looking at the winter clothes as they were being stocked. i had noticed a sad trend in little girl clothing. it seems that the in style is long shirts or dresses and leggings, which is all well and good on a skinny girl, but on a chunky monkey like my fishie leggings just get caught up around her diaper bottom, and instead of going to ankles they'd stop at her knees. that's all well and good during spring, but when it's down in the 60's, i kind of want her whole leg to be covered. this is why i wasn’t sure how i was going to manage clothes shopping, because i knew i’d have to try clothes on fishie, and for some reason they don’t actually have changing areas for babies. i guess most people know exactly what size they need to get for their kids... lucky people.

so really, that's why i was so thankful that mommom was able to come along. having an extra hand while trying to manage to squeeze a squirming baby into a pair of pants perched on a display shelf is not the easiest thing to do by yourself. it was also very nice to have someone help pick outfits also. anyone that really knows me could tell you i am not the most fashion forward or trendy person. my style is past casual and into the realm of pajamas. i pity my girl when she gets older, at least she has five aunts to show her the way. and now she has a bunch of cute outfits to keep her warm in the coming months. until she grows again.

September 21, 2010

a beary cute story

as you know, i went to j-town for my sister-in-law's baby shower on saturday. now, she's having a girl, and i just had fishie back in february, so as she's growing out of all her little baby girl clothes, i'm able to pass them along to my coming-soon niece. plus, i've passed along a travel swing and a few other random things, and once i have the rest boxed up, it'll all go too. so, being that i was also making the cake, i really didn't feel the need to buy anything for the shower. still, i would have felt weird going and not having at least something to give then.

now some of you might not realize this, but i am a pack rat. and worse than that, i like to try and keep the things that my family are given looking as nice as possible. i've loosened up in recent years concerning the stuff my boys get, but for a long time, if they got something really nice, i didn't really let them have it because i didn't want them ruining it. which of course means i had boxes and bags full of toys and clothes they outgrew that were in like new condition.

most of their old things have already moved on to my nephews, and a very few extra special things i'm keeping to give to my own grandchildren whenever i should finally have any (i know, bumble is only seven, but it doesn't hurt to look towards the future). so of course i still had the bear, and i think no one else but me even remembered its existence.

there is, of course, a story behind it.

when my niece bri was born, her uncle (not my hubby) gave her a bear. her very first bear. and so it wouldn't get lost, my sister-in-law, her mother, wrote her name on the tag. now, when bumble was born, sweet girl that she is, she gave the bear to him. it sat on a shelf in the nursery, and there is sat when lumpy was born. soon, my boys weren't babies, and their little baby toys got packed up.

recently, i was cleaning out a closet and found a box of baby stuff i didn't even remember i had. i went through and gave away what i didn't need, and saved for fishie the stuff i could use. and there i found the bear, still perfect, just a little dusty.

and so, evil woman that i am, i wrapped up the bear and gave it back at the baby shower. she opened it and looked at it and i had to explained what it was. then she looked at the tag which still had her daughter's name on it. and then she started crying.

making pregnant women cry, it's what i do. like i said, i'm evil.

i don't think she even remembered that bear existed. which of course made it even more perfect.

and hopefully the bear will still be around, ready to get passed on to the next generation. because i think that would make for a beary cute story.

September 19, 2010

a quick word

just wanted to say that i'm back from j-town. the weekend went almost exactly how i thought it would. which of course means i'm absolutely exhausted. the cake didn't quite survive the trip up. honestly, it didn't survive the trip to the car to go up. friday was a alexander type day. you know, a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and forget all this, i'm moving to australia. anyway, the kids could tell i was having a bad day, they always know somehow, so lumpy was trying to be helpful with loading up the car and he decided to carry the cake. it was a big cake, and the icing was still wet and hadn't hardened, and it all shifted and slipped and was a mess. it was bad, but still it was just a cake. we got up and i mostly fixed it. perfectionist that i am, i thought it was just ok but everybody else said it looked great. at least it tasted good. anyway, more tomorrow, or not if i think of something else to talk about.

September 17, 2010

birthdays and cake

dear fishie,

happy seven month birthday. you are adorable. i love you very much. i wish you could stay this little forever. now you just need to learn how to say "mama" because i'm tried of hearing "da da da" all the time.

stay golden pony boy love,

now then, on to making a baby shower cake. i kind of got volunteered for it, though really for all my complaining about having to do it, i don't mind. i actually enjoy making huge cakes for people, practicing my skills to make things beautiful and delicious. and the best part of making cakes? no matter how crappy they might look, i know they'll taste good. i had plans for something more complicated then what i'm going to attempt, but i have to make it at home because i won't have time before the party tomorrow morning, so i had to change the design to something that will survive the trip to j-town. still, there's so much that could go wrong, fingers crossed everybody!

September 16, 2010

realizing my dreams, one baked good at a time

i love cinnamon rolls. i mean, i really love cinnamon rolls, so much so in fact that whenever we go to visit the inlaws, and we have the money, i force my hubby to stop at the midway travel plaza of the pa turnpike, simply because there's a cinnabon there. then i would buy their gooey, overpriced, slightly underdone rolls and try not to get icing all over the dashboard. it is strange and awkward and shamefully wonderful, and i am totally ok with that.

the crazy thing, though, was that i never actually tried to make my own cinnamon rolls at home. anyone that knows me knows i have a thing for baking, and i've been told i have some skills, but for some reason making cinnamon rolls always seemed out of my league. (kind of like making caramel, but that's another story for another day.) now i'll admit that i've used those pop tubes to bake some when i really needed a fix and i wasn't willing to drive two hours, but it was never as good.

as i've mentioned, i follow various food blogs, and lately it seems they've all been talking about cinnamon rolls. maybe it's because cold weather is approaching and we like warm and comforting things this time of year, or maybe cinnamon is the hot new food trend, or maybe it's just that everybody else has begun to realize how awesome cinnamon rolls are too. whatever the case, i felt the need to try out one of the recipes i've found, especially since it said the word "foolproof" in it, and this fool just had to test that out.

and so i made cinnamon rolls. i started last night, in fact, letting the dough have a cool rise overnight in the fridge. the recipe i used makes a ton of rolls, and i was only planning on baking half today and the rest tomorrow, just in case things didn't go well with the first batch and i needed some time to prepare myself. after bumble and lumpy were off to school, i rolled out the dough and made cinnamon sugar filled pinwheels of awesome. yes, it was a bit sloppy, a bit messy, the dough ripped in a few places that i had to patch, the filling oozed out the ends, but eventually i got them in the pans. then another quick rise, utilizing my new favorite kitchen gadget: a heating pad. i mean, in a drafty house like mine, where else am i supposed to find a warm and happy place for the yeast to do its thing? anyway, after that the pans went into the oven, which smoked like crazy because of butter and sugar spillage due to overcook, but the house still kind of smelled delicious, even with the smoke detectors going off. then, out of the oven and covered in icing. eventually they were cool enough to dig into, and they were every bit as glorious as i hoped they'd be.

so i finally did it, yummy gooey cinnamon rolls out of my oven made by my own two hands. i am so proud of me. and it's especially wonderful, because on a day were it seems like nothing went right, i have happy little treats in my kitchen to help make the world a better place.

September 15, 2010

starting over again, take 4... million

i know i know, i have started this and erased everything here many times over. but seeing as nobody has ever read a word of it, i don't feel so bad. so now here's to a fresh new start.

yes, i know i've said those exact words before, and things went well for a few weeks, or one week, or three days if you count that one time. and then, as it seems with all of my "projects" i gave up or lost focus or got distracted by that shiny piece of string over there. but this time will be different, this time i know i can stick with it, this time i shall follow through!

look at me, so cute and full of hope and promise. really though, there is a very good reason that i know i can do this, and it's simply that i have done this blogging thing before. for the past little while i've been reading different blogs, mostly about food, and i starting thinking that i'd like to try keeping a blog, because maybe people would be interested in the things that i have to say. of course i'd think of this and realize that technically i had a blog, one all covered in dust that i never really did anything worthwhile with. and so i'd forget about my desire to blog and move on with my life. i really don't think i ever forgot completely, it would always be there nagging me in the back of my head, that maybe this could finally be the thing that i could start and stick with.

i don't know what may me think of it, i was probably contemplating blogging's beginnings, but i suddenly realized a very amazing thing: i used to be a blogger. only, i didn't call it blogging back then, i don't think that term existed back then, it was more like online and public journalling. so yes, i was technically a blogger for a good two and a half years, i wrote everyday, and i even had a following! of course, that was ten years ago, and i doubt the site even exists now. and also, i remembered the sad occurrences that happened that made me give it all up. still, i was successful and did it then, so as long as i keep in mind those important lessons i learned, this should all be a piece of cake! right?