Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Very Harry Potter Party

My Katia is 12.  I can't believe it.  She's obsessed with the Hunger Games right now, but her friend was having a HG party, so we decided on Harry Potter, which she will always have undying love and loyalty for.  I love Potter parties, because I can mostly just use the Halloween decorations we already have.  Don't get me wrong though, we still worked a whole day decorating and shopping and cooking.  We had a great hall dinner, with roast chicken and potatoes.  We made wands, which was really fun and they turned out so cool that even Dan made a couple.  There were Every Flavor Beans and chocolate covered wands and butter beer, and of course a showing of one of the movies.  I'm a fan too, so I loved it too.  But I was exhausted by the end of it.  What ever would I do without Pinterest?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How about some more yellow?

We finally got our house painted! We originally didn't plan on the yellow, and when we began talking about it, it was always a subtle straw yellow in my mind.  But Dan insisted it should be bold.  I think I have to give him kudos for that.  Sometimes when I look up at it, I laugh out loud because I can't believe we did that.  But it makes me happy.  I must say though, I'm not sure about the orange door now.  The mustard yellow kind of stole it's thunder.   I wonder if we should paint it black.  Dan says it would be too hot.  I say beauty before practicality every time.  Sigh.  We can never agree on that.  Votes?
The sprinkler system and house painting were huge weights on our shoulders, and thanks to a saintly friend of ours, those jobs are mostly done.  It's such a relief.  However, the projects keep on coming.  Right now we're working on the flower gardens.  We purchased some flowers on sale at Rock Creek Growers, and Dan's co-worker and his wife supplied us with some more things to plant.  It's overwhelming.  I hardly know where to start sometimes, but It's so fun to see things transform. 
We've also been picking peas, lettuce, zucchini, and squash from our garden.  I keep waiting for our plump tomatoes to turn red.  It's an awesome feeling to eat things we grew ourselves. 
I made a super yummy chocolate zucchini cake that involved a cake mix, butter, sour cream, etc. and added chocolate frosting.  I was going to post the recipe, but Dan of course went and one-upped me.  He made chocolate zucchini "bread" that didn't even require frosting.  I think I'll post that.  Of course you never know what he did differently.  He's like one of those old ladies who won't give out his secrets.  I'm guessing he added extra chocolate chips.  Here's the recipe.  It says to moan at the end.  I don't know about that.  But I did imagine myself as gollum, guarding the rest of the loaf and keeping it to myself.  "My precious."

Chocolate Zucchini Bread from One Ordinary Day
1 & 1/2 Cups Shredded Zucchini
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup high quality Unsweetened Cocoa Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
Dash of salt
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Canola Oil
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup packed Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
3/4 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips
In a mixer, combine your oil, sugars and vanilla. Mix in your eggs and shredded zucchini. In a separate bowl, sift together your flours, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder. Slowly add this dry mixture into your wet mixture. Beat until combined. Mix in your chocolate chips.
Scrape your batter into a greased 9x5x3 loaf pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 50-65 minutes, or until done. Eat and moan.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pretty sure I'm hitting overload

So sometimes I can't sleep because I'm writing a book in my head and I'm thinking about how I simply must buy a retro trailer and renovate it and should I design it shabby chic or glam but of course everything inside will be painted white either way and is there any way to hook that up to our van, will it do us any good if we can't get it anywhere or is it perfectly acceptable to leave it in our yard as a playhouse where I can sneak inside and work or nap and our friends can sleep there and how do you even use the utilities in those things, I think I'd better google that right away.  And that is why I get out of bed after midnight and write a few paragraphs of the ya fairytale novel I'm trying to write, google retro trailers, and blog.  I have done this MANY nights this summer, and Dan doesn't like it.  Also, I feel like crap during the day because my body doesn't like it.  And of course I'm running my photography business too, slow though it is, and my five kids are home from school so I barely get a minute to think, although I'm pretty much stuck to my computer chair anyway.  But don't judge me too harshly because I take them to the park, the drive in, the book store, let them have play dates and play in the sprinklers.  But why do they want my attention as well.  ;)  So that is how this summer is going. 
I'll add that Dan made me a delicious hamburger, fries, corn on the cob, fresh watermelon and pineapple dinner, and a giant chocolate cheesecake with ganache and raspberry topping for my birthday.  Seriously.  And I wonder why I can't sleep.  I'm still dreaming about having that cake again tomorrow.  It's in the fridge I have to wait?
It was sad not having the Haake's and our other friends to party with today, but we did alright.  Dan got me wicked tickets awhile ago for my birthday present.  We're going in August, I'm so excited!  He also got me dark cherry almond cluster things from Costco and a Niel Gaiman book.  Yes, he knows where my hear lies.  Don't they say the way to a woman's heart is through her stomach?  That's weird.
Here are a few trailer pics so you can understand my angst. 
Feast your eyes and fall in love.
Wouldn't that little thing be the perfect thing for two.  Not sure how to work it with seven.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

If you can't afford to completely redecorate your own house...

this is a pretty good creative outlet. Usually I don't really want to play dolls with my kids.  I know, sad, but I feel like most of my imagination has drained away.  I don't really know what to do with them. But one day I got the idea into my head to renovate my daughters doll house.  Suddenly I was really excited about dolls.  Well, that and they were la la loopsy dolls, which I'm kind of in love with.  I actually bought one for myself, Scarlet Riding Hood.  I somehow parted with Alice and the Mad Hatter, but I was really jealous of Savy for getting them.  Come on, she doesn't really deserve them, doesn't really appreciate Alice- and the little tea party.  I am not, however, very taken with the Loopsys that are inspired by food items, such as jell-o.  Moving on.  I had so much fun with this, and the kids loved it.  I bought scrapbook papers for the walls and rugs and mostly used furniture we already had.  Don't laugh, but I spray painted that living room set silver, just like I spray paint everything in my own house.  I played with some ric rac (which, incidentally, I am in love with as well, although I never get to use it), and buttons.  Loopsys require that kind of thing.  Of course I did have to go buy the set that included a claw foot tub.  So cute.  The nice thing about these little sets is they come with cute furniture and accessories for $12 or so, whereas it seems like if you buy doll house furniture it costs quite a bit.  Well, I didn't quite finish it.  With me, the magic happens when I'm excited about a project and as soon as my enthusiasm fades I'm done with it.  But the exciting thing is I think I see some kind of apparition in the princess room.  Creepy! Okay, I'm sure it's a reflection from her little mirror but that's not as fun.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Joy of Curtains

I have been obsessing over curtains for this dining room for ev er.  You'd think there would be more important things I could concern myself with but turns out, no.  Matching the odd green in my kitchen proved difficult, and they had to be long enough.  Finally I had my fabulous friend Leslie make me some. I wish I'd bought a little more green fabric so they could be a little wider, but I mostly pull them back anyway. I think they make a big difference, and I love them. This room needed some fabric.  I almost feel like this room is done now.  Obviously the table could use some work, and maybe a runner or something, but we are very close. I suppose I should have taken a vertical shot here, sorry.
Also, I'll post a pic of my girls with their Gaga bows.  We're playing around with hair a little, since we have more time on our hands. 
Next goals for the summer; try to find some school-type activities that I can do with the kids.  Also, this house will be painted.  I am dreaming of the day I can cross it off the list. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fab Find and Some Spray Paint! My Favorite!

I saw this headboard at the DI and knew I wanted it, but I also knew I didn't have a bed the appropriate size and therefore didn't need it.  I actually passed it up because I'm feeling like I need to be careful about buying all kinds of crap I won't really use.  When I showed Dan the phone snapshot of it he actually asked me why I didn't buy it. What? He's usually the guy who asks me why I bought a piece of junk I don't need.  He actually went and picked it up.  So I had to buy a bed and bed ensemble to go with the $7 headboard.  What a deal!!! Actually my two girls kept climbing into bed with each other.  Two growing girls in one twin bed wasn't a very good fit.   I thought we might as well buy them a bigger bed to share.  I  loved sharing a bed with my sister, or is that one of those things that seem sweeter when you look back on it? Maybe for her, I used to do some frightening things in my wake up with a screwdriver.  But I digress.  We also thought it would be nice to have a bigger bed to put guests in until we finally finish the downstairs.  The kids like camping out in one room together every now and then anyway.  So I was so excited to get to use this awesome piece! It was a bit of trouble.  I had to switch all the stuff between the two girl's rooms.  I had made two twin headboards and they have matching-ish blankets and I wanted to keep those so I put them in the other girlie room.  I didn't want to loose the vintage book art I had made either (my grandma used to read us that book, so I bought one on ebay to pull apart rather than ruin the original).  So I put those in this room and made Dan switch the light fixture (re-store find, spraypainted) as well.  He didn't like that.  Apparently one of them was a pain to put back in.  The other challenge was the fact that my girls are growing up and starting to have opinions! My oldest wanted to make sure I didn't use white or grey or anything "boring."  Originally I had painted the headboard white but when I put it up it was very sad.  It just lacked that punch I knew my daughter would want so I went with red.  Also ALL of my kids have serious issues with change so it took some convincing, change just had to happen.   In the end everyone was  delighted.  People just need to learn to trust me around here.  That's the lesson.  Do what I say. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring is really making me want to get out my camera! Also, we've had so many big events lately.  Ayla was recently baptized.  It was really special because we had so many family members and friends come.  We also had chilli and every yummy thing Dan could make in two or three days time.  I made Dreamsicle cupcakes.  I used cheesecake pudding mix in a white cake batter, along with some modifications I found online like using butter instead of oil.  Then I whipped some cream cheese and orange kool aid into the buttercream frosting.  I thought they were yummy!  My friend Leslie sewed a special dress for Ayla.  I helped pick out the style and fabric, Ayla wanted teal or blue in it, and this is what Leslie came up with.  She's magical.
Savy had a rainbow-riffic St. Patrick's day birthday party.  It was very fun but so much work that afterwards I wondered why I went to so much effort for 6 yr. olds who may or may not have noticed that I painstakingly crafted rainbow poofs and a cutesy banner etc. etc.  I think they all had fun though. 
Katia got glasses.  She looks so cute in them.  The nice thing is a few of her friends wear them, so it was no big deal for her.  She's just so excited to be able to see everything clearly.  Dan finally got some new glasses today too.  The guys at the store formerly known as Cheaper Peepers, who always remember us by name and insurance no matter how long it's been, said they hadn't seen Dan in awhile.  I told them that was because they hooked him up with those glasses that never break.  And I hate those glasses!  The ones he had before reminded me of HRG (that's Horn Rimmed Glasses) from Heroes, RIP.  Then he got the boring ones.  Anyway this time he went all the way and got really dark rimmed ones.  I think he got them so he could look like Clark Kent.   He and his brother are always fighting over who gets to be Superman for some reason.  So I think he wins now.  I'll have to get a picture of him after he picks them up.  And I even got sunglasses so I can be one of the cool ladies at the park who make you nervous because you don't know where to look when you talk to them because you can't see their eyes. 
Well, one more day until the lovely weather comes back!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

At Peace with my Kindle...Mostly.

So for Valentines Day Dan gave me a Kindle.  I was surprised because I've always said I didn't need one of those.  I like to hold a real book in my hands.  There's just something more genuine about that, and these days I seem to always have a battle in my heart to try to keep some real-ness around me in a world full of plastics and composites and personality-less chain stores (which I must admit I shop at).  And of course in my mind a book is associated with being in a book store or library where you can smell the books and feel the pages or curling up in a chair with a cup of cocoa and a sense of blissful calm.  I finally decided to keep it and I must admit I like it.  The kids love the games. I love flicking to the next page of a Neil Gaiman book that I only paid $4 for  with a slight brush of my pinky finger.  I love that I can browse Pinterest or maybe even catch up on Downton Abbey from my bathtub.  However, there are still a lot of books I'd rather buy used than pay $12 for, regardless of the instant gratification.  Often I can buy them on Amazon and have an actual book for less.  I have been buying a lot of used books lately though, and they do take up a lot of space.  Maybe it won't hurt to keep some of my library in a more compact location.  I do hope that soon someone cares enough to make a good web browsing content blocker, I did some research and they all look crappy.  Anyway, on to my super glue craft.  To make peace with myself  I made a Kindle holder out of an old book.  I tried to dig a hole in the book but it was too small and the edges kept ripping.  So I just removed a chunk of the pages and super glued some fabric on there.  One of the chapters was titled, "In which Andrew Reale improves an aquaintance and eats one magic dinner than is supposed to be healthy for a young man."  When I saw that I felt bad for destroying a book with such delightful chapter titles.  The Kindle does slide down in there even though it doesn't look like it in the photos.  I'd like to make a little velcro strap to hold it in safely, but we didn't have any, so this will have to do for now.  I did favorite a bunch of fabric cases on Etsy, and I will probably buy one eventually.  They are very cute and will bring me joy.
I also want to attach a picture of the faux fireplace Dan made me!  Please disregard the above segment in which I expressed my loathing for all that is not genuine.  BUT that is an antique piece there in the middle which I purchased off Etsy.  Can you imagine it in an old home somewhere very far east of Idaho many years ago?  That makes it okay, right?   I'm so proud of Dan, and so happy to have this up! Love it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Sweets

I made a goal recently.  Not the one where I eat green smoothies and loose weight, but a different one, where I learn to make beautiful cupcakes.  It's a plus if they taste good as well.  So I'm here to report that I think I did it! That was a much easier, and more enjoyable goal to attain than some of those others.  The keys were buying some equipment and learning to make buttercream frosting. I always wondered what makes buttercream different from the frosting I usually make.  Turns out, the answer is a lot more butter!
For equipment I first tried a $10 cupcake kit from Target.  It was pretty nice.  It had an easy handle you squeeze and came with a few tips.  Everything was made of plastic, though.  The second time I used it one of the connecting pieces snapped.  I had put something on in the wrong order, but I don't think it should have broken so easily.  So I took that back and bought one at Michaels.  It was $34 but I printed out a half off coupon.  Most of it is metal, except for the connectors, but those are thicker at least.  You push with your thumb on this one.  The only down side is I think your thumb could get pretty tired if the frosting or filling is thick or you have to do a lot of cupcakes!  There are less pieces to put together.  Overall it's a thumbs up!
So it seems the key to buttercream is you have to put your room temperature butter and shortening if you choose (some swear by it, other shun it), and cream cheese if you want it, in the blender and let it whip up for five minutes or so.  Then add your powdered sugar gradually, then vanilla, and whatever else you want.  I think the recipe I first tried was a cup of butter, cup shortening, 5 cups pwd. sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 cup or so cocoa powder (opt.) I'm excited to try some more variations.
SoI have to share what I made for Katia's Valentine's party at school.  I used a stick of butter, cup of shortening, didn't measure the powdered sugar but used extra and added a few tablespoons of milk to make it go farther, vanilla, and part of a packet of tropical punch Kool-Aid.  I thought it was super yummy, and fun for kids!

Monday, January 9, 2012


I thought this time I'd post some family pics and New Yearsy thoughts.  I was reading a blog earlier and it said you're supposed to pick a word for the year, that would inspire you to improve something in your life.  The first word that popped into my head, probably because I was thinking about it last night, was "enough." Not my usual "enough" as in "It's a good enough thing," but is what I'm doing enough. Not to be negative, I just feel like it's time to step things up a notch.  Is the attention I'm giving my kids enough?  Am I teaching them (by word AND example) enough?  Am I signing up or offering to volunteer when I can? Am I doing things, spiritually speaking, that I know I'm supposed to do but have let slip?  I hope I keep this word in my head when I'm tempted to be lazy instead of taking opportunities to be what I should be.  And I guess this could extend to, "That's enough ice cream, thank you."  The end.

 My favorite kind of mom photo.  How many times have we looked down and seen this?  And I have to admit, it's usually associated with frustration because when they go through this phase, it's not always easy.

Leave it to Savy to ask for a bb gun.  Needless to say she got a pop gun and they all got nerf guns.  She slept with this thing like a teddy bear.

Here are some Christmas and miscellaneous pics, just for fun! I tried to give some of them a retro look, but I'm not sure I fully succeeded.