Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Homemade Play-Doh

I was inspired by my friend, Brittany's post about homemade play-doh, and decided to follow her recipe and make some for Ryan. He choose green and at first was not sure what to do with the "po-ta-to," as he called it.  He soon found that rolling it out and making shapes using cookie cutters was his favorite thing.
He made some trains, trees, dinosaurs, snowmen, and LOTS of little stars. He also made a 3D sculpture consisting of adding tiny pits of play-doh to a large glob and told me it was "fireworks."

I may have gotten a little carried away in my own sculpture of a snowman, dog, cat, and mouse.
But, Ryan had fun making them all chase each other.
 It's all fun and games until someone's head falls off, right?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Great-Grandma's Birthday

To celebrate my Grandma's 83rd Birthday, we gathered at my aunt's house for cake and homemade ice cream. Everyone enjoyed seeing other other and visiting again. We were all jealous of her birthday gift from her kids: a new ipad2! (Grandma if you are reading this right now, I just want to say "Thanks for taking a break from Angry Birds!"

Ryan had a great time playing with my cousins Carter and Colin and seemed to develop a bit of a sugar-high after having cake, ice cream, M&M's and mints! Ryan colored a special card just for Great-Grandma and I think she really liked it. Maybe not as much as the ipad, but can you blame her?

Happy Birthday, Great-Grandma!

Birdhouse Cake

 I call this one "White Cake is for the birds"  
(I'm a chocolate fan, but thought I should provide two different kinds for my grandma's birthday open-house.)

I made things up as I went, but here's the general directions:
  1. Bake a cake in a 9x13 pan, removed from pan and let cool on wire rack.
  2. Cut cake in half and stack the two layers (without frosting)
  3. Cut the roof line using a serrated bread knife.
  4. Unstack and cut a round whole in one layer.
  5. Frost the top of the layer without the hole.
  6. Restack, the frost the entire outside of the cake and decorate!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Blossoms Birthday Cake

I made this chocolate sheet cake to go with the birdhouse cake for my Grandma's Birthday. As usual, I used a devil's food recipe and Fluffy Chocolate Frosting from "Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor."  The cake turned out quite flat but I'm pretty sure it will still get eaten!

Cake Frosting Tip

Here's a tip for frosting cakes to leave a clean edge on the bottom:

After wrapping your board (I just use wrapping paper), tear off 4 strips of waxed paper and place them around the edges of the board. 
Then, place your cake on top, so each of the edges has about 1-2" of waxed paper underneath the cake.
 Frost the top and sides of the cake. When you're finished just pull the waxed paper out from under it, leaving a clean bottom edge and no mess on your pretty paper!
It's best to pull opposite sides out at the same time so the cake doesn't slide with you.
(Grab the left and right papers and pull at the same time.)  

You can go on and add a decorative icing border after you pull out the waxed paper, such as a shell border or rope border to anchor the cake, but at least you're starting with a clean edge!

Future Frosting Apprentice?

I strategically frosted some cakes for my grandma's birthday while Ryan took a nap because he's a little less than helpful. When he woke up and ventured into the kitchen, the look on his face was priceless! He said, "Oooohhh, Mommy! Look at dose cakes! I like the black one! I want to have some birthday cake!" He wanted to go show them to daddy and he gave a great introduction, "Daddy! Look at this cake Mommy made! It's pretty!"

Since the cakes are for tomorrow, I showed him that I had saved a few pieces from my carving of the cake shape and told him he could frost his own piece with some leftover frosting.

He frosted, added sprinkles, and then enjoyed his very own piece of cake (the hole from the birdhouse). Maybe I'll have a frosting apprentice sometime in the future, but we might have to work on the "less is more" sprinkle technique first.


It has been entertaining hearing Ryan explain "emotions" lately.  Here are a few quotes--all r's have been replaced with w's to give you a better idea of how it sounds.

Happy: "Mommy! I went potty! You be so happy!!"

Scared: "I'm not sca-wed of buffalo; it's not sca-wy"

Excited: Me: "Ryan, do you want to go to the basketball game?"
Ryan: "Yeah, I'm 'cited!"

Proud: "Mommy! I made it [to the potty]! You so pwoud!"

Crabby: "I'm vewy cwabby. I need to take a nap."

Grumpy: Me: "Let's go upstairs."
Ryan: "No, I can't."
Me: "Why not?
Ryan: "Because I'm too gwumpy."

Mad/Angry: Ryan: "I'm ma-ad." (Not sure where the Southern drawl came from.)
Me: "What are you mad?"
Ryan: "Because I'm angwy!"

Tonight about an hour after he was put to bed, Ryan came out in the hallway and announced, "Mommy, I'm ma-ad." After several long explanations, I started video-taping. Here's Ryan explaining why he's ma-ad:

Be Vewy, Vewy, Qwuiet....

...I'm hunting wabbit.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sledding Hill

After a significant snowfall on Thursday night, we had a blustery Friday and Saturday. On Friday we went to the basketball game for a while and Ryan loved seeing Uncle Wade, Aunt Abbie, and Saylor again.  On Saturday, we stayed home all day, cleaning, taking naps, and cooking, then had several friends over for chili, cinnamon rolls, and games at night.

By Sunday, it had finally warmed up enough to go play outside, so after his nap, Ryan was eager to bundle up and get outside. First, we tried out the slight slope in the backyard on the sled. He did NOT want Daddy to pull him. I wonder why.

Next it was my turn to pull him, but I didn't fare any better trying to keep him on the sled. I'm pretty thankful this didn't result in a broken arm.

Then, we got a little braver and started from the hill created by the city clearing the short road that ends behind our house. It took a few tries before we got it right.

Here was one of best runs:

After a little snowball fight (Nika lost), we came in for some cocoa and marshmallows.

One quick story from today. After eating our popcorn during the football game, Adam asked Ryan to bring his empty bowl to the kitchen counter. Ryan turned around and said, "Mommy, you all done, too?" and then took my bowl, added it to the stack and brought it to the kitchen! Then he ran back and said, "Mommy, you all done with your cup?" and wanted to put that away, too! What a big helper!

We had a great weekend and enjoy so much the time we get to spend together!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

NFL plans

Adam: "Ryan, who are the Giants playing?"
Ryan: "Foh-ty Niiiiners"
Adam: "Who are the Patriots playing?"
Ryan: "Raaa-vens"
Adam: "Are you going to play for the Vikings?"
Ryan: "Nahhh."
Me: "Yeah, let's picker a warmer place."
Adam: "Maybe somewhere farther South."
Ryan: "How 'bout Dolphins."

We've never talked about the Miami Dolphins.

I get the feeling we watch a little too much Sports Center.

New Word

My niece, Emily, is famous for making up new words which, when analyzed, actually make a lot of sense. Ryan has inherited this "wordsmith" gene as well. When he went ahead of me out to the van the other day, he would not go down the stairs and yelled back "No, mommy! You carry me!" When I asked why he couldn't walk down the stairs he said,

"Mommy, it's too wuggy!"
 [top view]
 [side view]
ruggy: (pronounced "ruh-gee" or, alternatively for two-year olds, "wug-gee") [adj.]  the condition or state of a stairstep that has an overhanging floor rug on the top step so as to prevent safe stepping on lower step. Ryan could not walk down the steps because they were too ruggy.

Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls

I pinned a picture of blueberry cinnamon rolls on Pinterest and since we're having people over for chili and cinnamon rolls tonight, it was the perfect time to try them out.

I used the blueberry cinnamon rolls filling recipe from beantownbaker, but used my own bread-machine dough recipe. I also used her cream cheese frosting recipe. The rolls were pretty good and nice for something different, but I still like caramel rolls better so I'm in the process of making a dozen of those for tonight. 

Ryan thought the frosting was something pretty special, although he was hungry by 11 because he never got beyond just licking all the frosting off. Apparently cinnamon rolls serve as a "plate" to serve frosting. I blame myself :)

New Uses

Empty box that came around new mirror = art canvas!

Ryan had another "new use" to add:
White tee shirt = art canvas!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Quick Convo & Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adam : "I really like laying my clothes out the night before. Then I can go downstairs in the morning, take a shower, get dressed, and when I come up, my coffee [prepared the night before] is all ready. I always tell my students to get their stuff together the night before...just practicing what I preach."

Me [who has been hanging my clothes in my bathroom the night before ever since we moved to our new house]: "I know, me too. I never thought I'd be the type of person who lays their clothes out the night before. It always seemed to be one small step away from the type of person who eats 8 almonds as an afternoon snack. Look at us...we're this close to becoming a bunch of almond eaters."

Adam: "Are you going to blog that?"

Me: "Probably."

Sorry folks. We've been a little less than blog-worthy lately. I blame it partly on some long work days/nights that leave my eyes screaming for less screen time, and partly on the most exciting parts of the night being seeing if the Gator Boys caught that fence-climbing alligator so the guy's pet pig was safe in his own Florida backyard.

I just spent about 2 hours browsing the internet in search of inspiration to accomplish 2 goals.

1. Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies
2. Get some sort of crock pot meal ready for tomorrow

What do I have to show for this?
1. Three chocolate chip cookies. (Adam and I ate the other four I baked) The rest of the dough will have to just chill.out. until I have time to bake more. I also have a counter full of dishes that need to be washed sometime before Jimmy Fallon is over.
2. An idea to just bake some garlic chicken tomorrow after I get home and make some wild rice from the box. I KNOW I will regret this when Ryan is yelling, "Mommy! I need go potty now! No, I don't need to go! I need go potty! No, I don't want to go!" throughout the cooking process tomorrow. But I'm fed.up. trying to find a recipe that I have all the ingredients for and that won't be dried out after 10 hours in the Crock Pot.

Two chocolate chip cookies

Screw the almonds.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Dog Whisperer

This afternoon, after a family walk, Ryan decided he wanted to lay down in his bed. He'd already taken a short nap, but I complied and was sitting in the chair next to his bed reading. Nika came in the room and was whining, as per usual, and I was tuning her out. After a while, though, Ryan lifted his head and we had the following whispered exchanged:

Ryan: "Mommy, water!
Me: "Do you want a drink of water?"
Ryan: "No, mommy, Nika wants water."
Me: "What?"
Ryan (signing "more"): "Nika wants more water."
Then he laid his head back down.

I went to the kitchen, and sure enough, Nika's water bowl was empty and as soon as I filled it, she greedily lapped it up.

Future career as a dog whisperer?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Snowy Day=Time for Cocoa!

When we looked outside this morning, Ryan started jumping up and down, saying, "Let's go sledding!" Sadly, we informed him there was not quite enough snow for that activity. Later, when Adam was going out to scoop off the inch of fluffy snow on our driveway, he asked Ryan if he wanted to help. Ryan hurried up the stairs, saying, "I can use my scoop! Mommy, I need to get my snowpants and coat and boots on!"  He happily bundled up and then spent at least 30 minutes outside clearing the driveway and the sidewalk next to our house.

When he came inside, Ryan decided he needed to have "cocoa" just like Curious George. "With mawsh-a-mallows!" He's been enjoying reading many Curions George books lately, including Curious George's Snowy Day. I didn't know how he'd do with a "hot" drink, but warming it up only 30 seconds made it drinkable for him. He loved the marshmallows on top and thought he was pretty big stuff drinking out of a mug just like mommy & daddy's coffee.

I am happy to report this is only the second snowfall of winter and that the snow is completely gone as of 2:00 today. My kind of weather! I think Ryan will look forward to the next snow, and maybe next time it will be enough to go sledding!

Monday, January 9, 2012


Have you ever wondered if you could say something in 200+ words instead of just 2? Hire a Patent Attorney.

A technique for molding pieces of popcorn candy having different geometric shapes that are interfittable, making it possible for the user to integrate the pieces in any desired manner to create art objects that are both displayable and edible and have a flavor predetermined by the user. The technique is carried out by means of a corn popper which converts kernels of corn into a batch of popcorn and a family of molds having different geometric shapes. A bonding agent is prepared by boiling a blend including sugar and syrup to create a molten cream and then adding flavoring thereto. A portion of the molten cream is intermingled with the batch of popcorn and the resultant flowable mix is used to fill the molds. After cooling and hardening, the shaped pieces of popcorn candy are then removed from the mold and interfitted as desired, using the same molten cream to integrate the pieces to form an edible art object. ...or it's a POPCORN BALL.


On Sunday we enjoyed dinner at my parents. Well, enjoyed was a bit relative. The food was good, and it was nice to visit with my parents, sister, BIL, grandma, and Saylor was all smiles. Ryan was the opposite of all smiles. Refusing to sit at the table or eat, crying, bossing, and spending more time in time-out than not; it was not his best showing. In fact, it was one of his worst public displays.

This came less than 24 hours after Adam and I had just discussed how hard it is to figure out how to discipline your child, especially when you're outside your own house. Do you hold firm even if others think you should give in? (I'm talking to you, Dad, who offered Ryan a cookie after he ate exactly zero bites of dinner :)) Do you let them go play when everyone else is eating to avoid a scene? We don't do that at home, but we're a little more immune to his piercing protests than others. Do you make everyone listen to him scream while in timeout or try to get him to stop crying? Anyway, we decided to just take off shortly after dinner. Ryan fell asleep on the way home and slept for 3 hours, so I think we know what part of the problem was. He's also two, so there's that rainbow of an age to consider as well.

As soon as he was transferred to bed and I started on my Hymnal Picture Frame project, I realized that in the rush to get out the door, I had left my entire purse/phone/camera/checkbook at my parents. Grrr! My mom called later and said she and my dad would drive it up later in the night. I felt really silly for forgetting my purse but my mom informed me that I was not the only one who had forgotten something that day. After my sister and her husband left with Saylor, my parents looked around and found one tiny thing had been left behind. Again.  This was the 2nd time they'd gone home and forgotten their dog, Milo! Ha Ha! I think we all know how your priorities change when you have a kid...you forget all about the dog...sometimes literally.

But something tells me Nika would have been a better dinner companion than Ryan that day.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hymnal Picture Frame

Pin It
For a total cost around $5, this project was a fun addition to the music room I just painted! 

  1. Buy an unfinished 8x10 wide wood frame. I  got mine for $4.99 at Hobby Lobby after negotiating the price down since the wood didn't match up well in the corners.
  2. Pick up an old hymnal at a garage sale, from a family member, or ask if your church has any out of service. I knew my mom had a stash of these from the church I grew up in, published in the 60's and she was happy to give me two.
  3. Carefully cut pages from the hymnal using a scissors. I picked out some of my favorite classic hymns. I also cut off the leather front cover using a scissors.
  4. Remove the frame back and use Mod Podge and a sponge brush to apply glue to the back of each page, then wrap it around the frame. Be sure to start from the top of the frame so that as you layer them, the titles won't get covered up. Smooth each of them around the groove of the frame with your finger.  Apply 1-2 coats of Mod Podge to the entire frame once it is covered to seal everything in.
  5. Paint the frame back-board and let it dry. I painted it the same color as my wall so the hymnal cover would look like it was "floating". You could also try scrapbook paper, but I was afraid the weight of the hymnal cover would be too much.
  6. Glue the front cover of the hymnal to the center of the back-board. I used Super Glue but Mod Podge might work depending on the weight of the cover.
  7. Insert the backing into the frame and hang on the wall!
Here's the final project hung in my music room. I actually made two of these to hang on either side of the window. You can see how the hymnal cover complements the accent wall in my room, which is one of the reasons I choose this hymnal. It also is a great memento from my home church and these are all songs I grew up loving to sing and play.
You could modify this idea in so many ways. This room also serves as our "library" and I think a large display of classic book covers with popular passages on the frames would be cool. It could also be great in a kid's room with a collection of Dr. Seuss books, Little Golden Books, or other favorites! But for now, I love the idea that for around $10 I made two cool pieces of art that are meaningful and classy!

How else could you modify this idea? Please feel free to share in the comments!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Music Room/Office Before and After

Although this room is far from complete, I wanted to post an update on our office/music room since I spent a day and a half over Christmas break getting it and the bathroom painted.


Piano Before:
 Piano After (opposite wall):
It's amazing what some paint (Red Clay Hill and Hawthorne Woods from Diamond Vogel) and a mirror can do! Those were the only things added to the room!

Future plans: Red curtains or wood shades of some sort, a desk and low filing cabinet on the wall where the toy chest is now, updated pictures in the frames on the piano, and more wall art.

Family Letters

I finally finished a project that's been in the works for months and am really happy with out it finally worked out! The pictures are poor, as usual, but hopefully it gives you an idea of the final product. Here's a little "how-to":

Materials & Instructions:
  • Chip board or light-weight wooden letters. I picked mine from a variety of styles at Hobby Lobby. (the F,I,Y are from one set, A,L,t,h,b,n from another in 2 sizes, M from another and the e's and o's after from yet another)
  • Paint and paintbrush. I used leftover purple latex paint from painting my kitchen because I wanted it to help pull the two rooms together. I gave it two coats on the top and sides with a small paintbrush. Hint: Don't let them dry on newspapers--they'll stick and you'll have to use a nail file to get all the newspaper off!
  • Sandpaper. After drying, I sanded the letters to give them a more weathered look, especially on the edges.
  • Scrapbook paper, scissors, Mod Podge, paintbrush. I bought a pack of scrapbook paper as a set and since my scrapbook paper wall didn't stay up, I used the paper I'd taken down and just cut out pieces I liked and glued them to the letters by brushing the back with Mod Podge and wrapping them around the letters. My favorite part of this paper was that parts have a metallic finish, so they catch the light and add some shine to the otherwise-flat-looking letters.
  • Poster Strips and Mounting Tape. Trust me, sticky-tack doesn't work. For the large letters, I used Command Poster Strips, either one or two per letter so if I ever take it down, it won't damage the wall. It was tricky to find something thin enough for the small letters, so I ended up using Scotch Foam Mounting Tape and just cut it in tiny pieces. It's labeled "permanent" but I'm hoping it will be minimal damage in the small amounts I used.
Here's a wide shot of the room so you can see how it fits in with the colorful look of our living room. I know it's not for everyone, but we like it just a little bit vibrant!

Living Room Before and After

I've done a Living Room: Before & After post before, but thought it was time for a little update. If you want close-up pictures of some of the details, see the original post

Living Room Before:
 Living Room After:

(need to find decor for the shelf yet)

Here are few details on where we got most of the decor over the past 6 months:

Diamond Vogel: Paint--it's a tan with a gold tone that we also used in the hallway and stairwell.
Nebraska Furniture Mart: Leather couch and chair, accent chair, end table, entertainment center.
Bed, Bath & Beyond: curtains, accent pillows, four medallions wall decor
Hobby Lobby: Vase and silk flowers, chipboard letters for "Family" wall letters (see this post for more info on how I made these)
Ver Hoef Custom Woodworking: I designed the shelf to match the style of the entertainment center and my mom had Ver Hoef make it for me for Christmas! I love it and can't wait to find things to put on it!

Future plans: We'd love to replace the carpet sometime since it is very stained and a little too light and gray for our taste. I'm still contemplating painting the wall behind the TV an accent color, but not sure which direction to go...purple like the kitchen? blue to match the top of the curtains? I think I'll wait to see what I can find for the shelf to see if that spruces it up enough!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2 Years + 3 Months Old

Ryan had a fun month with Christmas and lots of family time. One of the best memories was sitting at the dining table on Christmas night with my family and he went into a long, drawn-out speech after which he announced in his best preacher voice, "Now we pray!"  He talks a lot but has a few "miscues" including calling pears "parrots", chocolate milk "chlockate chip melk", lemonade "ehmalade" and M&M's "lemon-ems". One thing we've noticed is his use of pronouns. He started saying "He has one, she has one, and I have one" instead of "Daddy have one, Mommy have one, Ryan have one." We're still working on colors, letters, and counting, but have seen a little progress.

He's loving the new toys he got for Christmas, especially his Hot Wheels cars and race track. He also loves the additions to his farm animal collection. With the odd weather this winter, I can see how he is confused because sometimes he'll ask to go outside and play in the (non-existent) snow and other times he wants to go play soccer or football. He loves chasing Nika around, wrestling, and playing downstairs in his toy room.

Ryan's become a bit clingy lately, especially to me. He used to go to nursery willingly but now it's virtually impossible to peel him off us to leave him, so he's sat through church the last two Sundays. We hope this is just a phase. He also has new excuses of why he doesn't want to do things (like sit on the potty) which include "because because I too scared", "because because I too sad" or "because because I crying". He never says "because" just once!

Ryan's favorite restaurants are "Old Donald's" (brought on by a few road trips) and Pizza Ranch! His eating habits at home are generally good, especially liking vegetables (corn, peas, carrots, but not green beans), mashed potatoes, cheese in any form, muffins,  but like most kids, he's constantly negotiating for ice cream cones, cookies, fruit snacks, or other  "sthnackths".

What a funny little dude we have. Despite all that comes along with the typical "two's" we have having fun watching him discover new things and learn new skills. We're looking forward to a great new year!