Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cake Class Finale

This month I took the Wilton Course III cake decorating class at Michael's. It was one night a week for four weeks and we learned how to make some new flowers and several techniques using fondant. I have previously done a lot of the things that were taught, but loved learning new tricks and tips as well as how to make the fondant roses! (Fondant is like edible play-doh...great to work with, but I recommend making your own or trying any brand EXCEPT Wilton's--it tastes horrible!)

Last night we had a our final class where we each constructed and decorated a tiered cake. It was fun to see everyone's creations! Some of the gals are really new to decorating and did an amazing job. Our instructor, Linda, was a lot of help...but she didn't want her photo taken. Here we are after 2 hours of work (not including the hours spent baking, filling and frosting at home):

On a side note, though our Michael's is 15 miles from home, three of us live just blocks from each other in the same strange is that? Plus, we didn't know each other before the classes!

My cake is on the left. After hours of making fondant roses, I'm hoping it will be like riding a bike and I'll never forget! I went from starting out at 30 minutes to 15 minutes per rose after making 20 of them. Shew-whee! I'm giving the top part of this cake (chocolate) to my friend Angie as a thank-you and the bottom cake (cinnamon w/apple filling) will be our dessert for LifeGroup on Friday night.

I think I'm done doing classes for a while. I have some fab books from pros in the sugar art world that I'm going to study and learn from on my own. This is certainly a hobby that encompasses a wide range of study: baking, construction, design, sculpture, painting, floral design--the list goes on and I love it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Moose?

My kiddos love the Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond book series...If You Give A Mouse a Cookie, If You Give A Pig a Pancake etc.

Well, my sister, Jodi, woman of great insight, has declared that I am the Moose in If You Give A Moose A Muffin. We have it checked out from the library this week, and I read it at least twice a day to the munchkins.

It's taken me a week or so to absorb the truth, but she really is right! Probably has something to do with that #7 Enthusiast personality that I have (see my Go 7! post).

SO...if you REALLY want to know what my daily life is like, go to your library and check out this book. Bet you'll want to take a nap after a day with the MOOSE! And I'm off to make some sock puppets..........

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Garden Pix #1

Okay, so here's the fab and famous "Mel's Mix" getting mixed on our huge camping tarp. Seeing the stuff for real was a thing of beauty! I mean, really, how exciting is composted cow manure & mushrooms, peat moss and the much-sought-after COARSE vermiculite!!! (Yes, I am a garden NERD, and proud of it, thank you very much). I ended up having to have the course vermiculite special ordered...but it only took one day...kudos for the great service at Suburban Lawn & Garden!

Here is one of my helpers, my niece Naomi, who I may mention, is a big fan of dirt! She is standing by the bed that will eventually hold our strawberries. The planting mix is in and now I just need to add the grid, plants and mulch. Dude, strawberry plants are expensive! Like, six bucks a pop...I'm going to have to find a cheaper route than where I've looked so far. I need at least 16 plants...and really want the specific varieties that I've found in my research. Why do I have to be such a perfectionist in some things?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Garden Time

I'm venturing into new territory this spring: VEGETABLE GARDENING!

I come from a long line of flower gardeners and am always experimenting with different flowers and rearranging the beds around my house. The only edible fare I've tried to grow has been strawberries. My dad has always grown at least tomatoes...I can remember a much larger vegetable plot when I was a little squirt.

Add in the fact that I'm fairly lazy and you might think I'm in for trouble...BUT...I think I've found the perfect solution: Square Foot Gardening! My friend, Diem, in Knoxville tried it the last year we lived there and just raved about the ease and tremendous crop for little work & space. Since I'm addicted to information, I've read and researched all sorts of square foot gardeners and think I'm ready to roll.

The basic concept is that you build raised beds, fill them with a "perfect" planting mix, divide them into 1' squares and plant one crop/square. Depending on the crop, you can plant from 1 to 16 plants in each square. Large, sprawling crops such as zucchini, squash and pumpkins are grown vertically up strong trellises. SO...if you're not bored yet, feel free to read on as I'm starting my garden journal here on my blog...mainly for my own records! If you are a gardener, I'd love to hear comments, ideas or suggestions as I go through the season.

Saturday, March 17: Tonight Kai helped me move the first half of paver bricks from our stack in the garage to two neatly laid out 4x4 square plots in the back yard. I've placed them on the west side of the yard just north of where our deck extends from the house. The super lazy person in me is just plunking the bricks on top of the grass. I'll be smothering the grass in the beds with a layer of mulched dried leaves and cardboard before adding the planting mixture.

Next up is stacking a second layer of pavers on top of the first to make the beds 8" deep. I'm hoping I can just set them on top and won't need to use an adhesive. I still need to purchase the soil ingredients: variety of compost, course vermiculite, peat moss; and also the connectors and netting for the trellis (I have the metal pipes already...a great find in my own attic!)

Bed #1 will be strictly strawberries. We'll be experimenting with a selection of varieties...some June-bearing, some everbearing and some day-neutrals. I'm converting our old strawberry patch out by the swing set into the children's flower garden...we're starting everything from seeds and I'm really excited to watch the kids enjoy and care for it!

Bed #2 will hopefully be a salad garden with a variety of lettuce (I have a feeling this will require I build some kind of rabbit guard...BAD BUNNIES!), carrots, zucchini, sweet peppers, tomatoes and mini pumpkins for fun.

Oh boy, I have so much to learn...but I guess this is the best way to do it because reading more isn't going to make anything grow! I'll add pictures as I go.

Friday, March 09, 2007

What are little boys made of?

Let me tell ya, it AIN'T sugar and spice and all things nice! Here are some observations about our boy, Kai:

-Anything that REMOTELY resembles a sword (i.e. butter knives, wooden spoons, sticks, rulers, pencils) should be considered dangerous in his hands. "I POKE YOU!" His fav now is to get butter knives out of the dishwasher and "fight" them, one in each hand. This morning he even found a sharp knife and thankfully I was right there to grab it before the damage was done!

-By 8:30 a.m. his shirt will undoubtedly be sporting spots of a beverage, something sticky, and either chocolate or dirt. HOW?????

-Great delight is found in chasing anything that will run...Oh! There's Sissy and I have a stick..."I CHASE YOU! " "EEEEEEEEK! Maaaawwwmmmy, he's getting me!"

-A picture says a thousand words:

-Helmets are a good thing...he probably should always be wearing one...if you haven't seen it on Our Silly Rabbits, he acquired quite the war wound a couple months ago. This week, he careened down the neighbors' driveway on his trike and scraped the same spot on his forehead. Guess there isn't much control riding Flintstone-style.

Even so, Kai still has a sweet, tender side. He has a great love for any stuffed animal...this week yellow puppy and orange kitty are getting lots of extra care...even rides in the dolly stroller. He never wants you to tuck him into bed without a lullaby and a love and a kiss. He loves little babies like our friends Tatum and Jet and cousins Zaritha and Stella.

What a gift and delight he is to us!

So, if you have any good boy-stories...please share!

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Learning Continues

Over the last few days I've learned several things:

1. I am determined. And no matter how hard or how many times you try, a screw will not "screw in" if you have the screw gun set to lefty loosy. It will fly off and try to hit you in the eye. Again and again.

2. My just about four-year-old is NOT a baby she reminds me with a "Mawwwm! I'm NOT a baby anymore! Stop telling me things!"

3. Staying home w/just me and 2 kids for 3 days straight with limited outside contact will not kill me. It can even be fun! But I'm still glad my honey is back home.

4. Kai can now express his heart through words. After a naptime showdown where I finally rocked him to hysterics, I now know what he was trying to convey with screaming every time we tried that when he was a baby: "MOMMMMMY! STOP HOLDING ME! STOP HOLDING ME! STOP HOLDING ME!" Poor thing just HATES it. But it tired him out enough that he fell asleep two minutes after I laid him down.

5. Spring is my favorite season! I finally got out to my yard today (probably the 3rd nice day we've had) and was lovin' my dirty fingernails, the smell of the dirt and the satisfaction of four square feet of cleaned up flower bed. (Only a TON more to go!)

6. I have NO will power when it comes to cookies. (Thanks, Molly...I NEED that recipe!)

Have you learned anything lately?