Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Learning to be a green thumb

Note for the Bird Cake post: Jan, I made the bird from rice crispy treats. I mixed up a very small batch and formed a large ball and a small ball then pushed them together till it stayed. Then covered it in fondant.
This will end up as a series of blogs, that will last all summer and into the fall. If my garden lasts that long, I hope it does, but this is a first. Well the real first. Last year I did a few seeds with Big Girl J, mostly for her to see the growth. After it went into the ground it didn't survive. However, this year, we have a better set up. I have a 200 square foot garden, with a sprinkler system. The sprinkler system is new to my front flower garden last year. And we extended it into the back flower beds in the fall. We got the vegetable garden 'framed' with the railroad ties, cleaned out, and the sprinkler system was ready to be finished. After finishing it off with the compost from the winter, the last of the sprinkler heads, and three yards of dirt, I think I am ready.
Yesterday I took the girls out back, armed with dirt, potting cups, and a few seed packets, we were ready to rock this garden.
Big Girl J remembered how to fill the cups with dirt, from last year. She started to fill the cups, and was doing wonderful.  Little Miss O was playing else where when Big Girl J started filling the cups. Little Miss O was very interested in what big sister was doing, and wanted to do the same.
So they figured out how to work together, and they filled all the cups. They switched jobs occasionally, however Little Miss O had a hard time keeping the dirt on the shovel from bucket to cup. But she tried!

Next we tried to shove 6 packets of seeds into 15 cups. Can you say 'overcrowding?' Of course the super snap pea seeds looked edible, this picture was just after I had told Little Miss O to take that out of her mouth. I am not sure if it was the dirt or the rock hard seed, but she didn't try it again.
Later that evening, the empty seed packets were laying on the counter and I noticed the tomato packet said the entire packet would produce about 20 plants.
Well then gosh! I have a 200 square foot garden, I might as well get the most out of my packet that I can!
So I went to the local hydroponic store and found a very helpful owner. He set me up with some trays and grow media 'plugs' that fit into individual slots. It is perfect.
The only problem is I spent about an hour digging through my dirt cups for seeds to re-plant them. I had no chance with the tomato seeds, so I will need to buy another pack of those, but the rest have been found and salvaged.

Tada! Wish them luck on a prosperous season.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bird Cake

I made a cake this weekend. I know, you're surprised. Me, making cakes? I must say this one was a bit less frustrating, after the frustrating part.
I made butter cream fondant. I made the grass and tree leaves about 5 days early. When it was time to put them on the grass wasn't dry enough, and the blades that stuck out the furthest wanted to break. So I had to cut a few down. I also made almost all the blades too long and had to cut some down because of that. So my next time note is to mix it with gum paste, for better drying and quicker drying. Or at least that is what it does with store bought fondant, so hopefully it will do that with this fondant, because I really liked the way this one felt and tasted.
Now my second frustration was my own fault. I made two batches of fondant. On the second batch I tried talking and cooking. That is never good when I am trying something new. So I added too much salt. I was told it wasn't that bad, but I could tell a huge difference. I decided that batch could be for decoration and not covering. I was really hoping I could make that work, however I ran out of pink for the bottom tier. In covering it, I had to roll the fondant thin and then piece it together. At least this layer would be mostly covered and the crack/fixes might not be too obvious.
On the middle and top layer, I had plenty of fondant and I was very happy and much less frustrated with how it covered.
The part, I feel, looks like an after thought is the branches, that kind of look like short fat trees. I was having a hard time getting a dark brown. On my first batch I added a touch of black and I though it looked like army green once it was mixed. The day of the cake I tried making a smaller batch of brown with a lot of food coloring. But still a soft poop color. Still not what I wanted. I wish I had thought about doing this before I tried the fondant, but I think melted chocolate would have done a much better job, and I probably could have made them look like twigs and branches rather than short fat trees. I am referring to piping melted chocolate on wax paper and sticking it in the fridge to harden. That would have given me a perfect color and finer lines.
However, this was for a little girls first birthday, so I don't think she looked at my poop color branches and thought, "OMG, who would put that on a cake!" Or at least I hope she didn't....
Next cake, Big Girl J's birthday cake. My big girl is turning 4 and getting even bigger! I will give you a hint, in case you didn't read the post about the invites. It will be fish themed.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Blank Slate

Over the end of last summer and the last week I have been working towards a goal. A very large vegetable garden!
I'm not the best at math and figuring out square footage, but that is a big garden!
I got a very nice plastic compost bin, last summer from my mom, and it belonged to grandma prior to that. It had So I started the compost at the end of last summer. I hadn't done much other than add some stuff and so had Wonderful Husband. He at one point put a few too many grass clippings in the bin, that prevented some of the pre-compost from composting during the winter. Now that area of pre-compost must have seemed perfect to some mice, who had gross food to eat and a sheltered home. That I found last week. ICK!
Our house backs to open space, where the mice and the fox run free. Our back yard is fully fenced, so no worries about the foxes however, those dirty little disease carring vermin, don't care about the fence. They literally can't take a hint.
A week ago I bought 15 packs of seeds. I borrowed a grow light and a tray from mom, another thing that used to belong to grandma. On monday I went out with my pitch fork, my shovel, my gloves and my gardening shoes. Ready to get dirty! I picked up the compost bin and dug in. I started to spread and dig, and hold my breath. Then I found the nest. I flipped a chunk of compost to the side a large mouse went running, then a couple babies just kind of wiggled around. Too young to do anything more than bury themselves in the compost. Another reason to not like mice, they are horrible parents. Just leaving the little babies to take care of themselves when they are much too young for that.
I can't just kill them, they are babies. So I used the pitch fork and flipped them closer to the fence in hopes they will find their way to another home with slight abandonment issues and a slight fear of flying. Back to the grind, and another 4 larger mice scatter. This time I jump. And yell. And yell. Then I said in my yelling voice, "I hate MICE!!!!"
A small voice behind me says, "I found a mouse."
I am still trying to calm down when I hear this. I turn to see Big Girl J walking towards me, holding her hand out, showing me a dead mouse. One that she seemed to be proud of, until mommy went crazy and started shouting "drop it!"
That poor little girl looked so surprised and didn't think she had done anything wrong. But mommy was yelling at her like she had done something horribly wrong, like picking up a disease carrying dead vermin, that probably died of one of those diseases that is carries.
After taking Big Girl J inside and scrubbing the skin off her hands in hopes of decontaminating her, I was drying her hands and realized how scared or ashamed she looked. I finally had the realization of how she was showing me something she was proud of, but then randomly got yelled at for.
Thinking back to every time we have taken her to the pet store and let her look at fish, the cats, the birds, and finally the hamsters and the mice, I decided it was my own fault. She thought she had found a new pet, a dead new pet. And now she isn't allowed to go in the pet store with me anymore.
I left the mess and the other mice that might be there and stayed away for a week. I did let the dog have free reign and dig through the compost in hopes of making the mice mad enough to move. I also saw the cat staring at the piles, waiting. Like a good cat. Today, I ventured out and finished the job. I spread it out, wet it down and Wonderful Husband brought me a truck load of dirt. We shoveled it out with Big Girl J's help. She thought the shovel was too heavy so she used a small plastic cup. And with her help we finished with the second load of dirt just in time for the sprinkles and cold front that cooled us all off.
I am hoping for a good harvest this year!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Search for the Ring

Wednesday, I woke up to my bed moving. Our bed is tucked into a nook in the wall. We don't have a traditional bed frame, so when my husband dreamt that he lost his ring in the night, he was able to pulled the mattress out from the wall and successfully woke me up. At first I laughed at him, because I had no clue what this statement would mean to me having to search for this ring. I told him it was bed sheet day and not to worry. I was sure it would show up. But now that I was awake, I might as well get up. And he immediately started to strip the bed. This made me laugh a little more because he admitted to feeling naked and really wanted his wedding ring back. Now it has been five years of constant wear, and I very much understand feeling naked without mine, but for him to act as I would if I lost mine, made me happy.
Without success Wonderful Husband left for work, and left me with a pile of bed sheets and a missing ring. I had thought a few days prior about rotating the mattress so that our personal divots could fluff back up. My thought was today must be as good of day as any. So I prop the mattress against the dresser. Move the box springs completely to the side and find.... nothing. Our custom built bed frame has shoe cubbies underneath. So out comes the super bright flashlight and get down on my hands and knees. Still nothing. After putting my room back together, making the bed and washing the sheets, there was still no ring.
Next stop, closet. Now I don't have reign of the closet. It is a small closet and I moved into this house that my husband was living in, and he had a full closet. I have roughly 5 items in the closet, good thing I don't wear dresses. So 7 or 8 years ago I adapted and have essentially been without a closet to call my own. So this closet has a pile of snow boots and other uncommonly used shoes, a backpack and a few other random items. I pulled it all out, acting as an actor from CSI where I inspect everything with a flashlight, except my flashlight was too big for the job. However that did not help. The ring was not there. After another search of the shoe cubbies, and a few other far fetched places in the room, I decided there was no way that ring was in the room.
Even the girls helped in the search.

See the over sized flashlight, but still did not help us find the ring. So the girls kept looking.

 It was not in the bathroom, or in the bath tub.
It was not under Big Girl J's bed, but I am glad they checked, because they did find toys and other random items.
Then the horrible thought crossed my mind. What if the dog ate it. Oh crap, literally.
So, my Thursday morning, while Big Girl J was at preschool, Opal and I spent an hour and some picking up a winter's worth of doggy poopy from the back yard. And it is a big back yard and our dog seems to not want to poop within a foot of another pile. So that wasn't fun. But now we had a clean slate, for the fresh poop search. Now to wait a day and then more searching. UGH!
Now it's Friday, I have things to do. So I will do whatever I need to do to avoid the poop. On a trip to the near by town and then to the local library for story time, I received a call.
Wonderful Husband called from work, seems he found his ring, in Wisconsin! Yes, my husband's ring came off while loading up a box for a customer in Wisconsin, and he only dreamt about it that night, he didn't actually loose it in bed, nor did he loose it with in five hours of bed time. But alas it was found and more importantly it was discover in said box and not thrown away for us to never have a clue about.
So all is well. I got the bed sheets cleaned, the dog poop picked up and I didn't have to dig through any of it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ginger Bear Update

Since my picture of Ginger Bear that I took 3 days ago, Little Miss O has fallen in love with it. Now she has become a bit of a hoarder of stuffed animals. She has grown attached to a certain blanket that goes to be and nap with her, she insists on both stuffed animals that have pacifiers attached and now Ginger Bear.
It makes me happy to see my little girls get so excited when I find Ginger Bear and hand it to her with a final goodnight kiss. I also like that Ginger Bear is getting love on a regular basis, not just sitting on a shelf holding onto its own memories. Now Ginger Bear and Opal get to make their own memories!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ginger Bear

My family has been closely affected by ovarian cancer. Not so much breast cancer. We have had our fair share of lumps but not much more than multiple annoying tests, biopsies, or other. I don't want to sound mean. But I do feel we are all aware of this problem. We have all been pinked. We have been pink washed with the raising of awareness. But we, as a nation, have been splendidly unaware of ovarian cancer. My family, not so much. Until recently I was unaware that there were races or fundraisers or whatever for this cause. A good friend of mine posted on facebook that she would be participating in 'Jodie's Race' for ovarian cancer awareness. I was excited, I need a reason to get into shape and making running this 5k a goal, I will have a shot of getting in shape. But more importantly, I have a cause that is very meaningful to me.
I don't have many memories of Aunt Ginger. I vaguely remember seeing her at my other Aunt's house. Being so young and unaware of the pain she was suffering through. Not understanding why my mom was upset. I do remember her funeral. I am certain I didn't understand what was really going on there. I remember thinking how cool it was to ride in a limo.
In reading old postings on my mom's blog, in regards to Aunt Ginger, there was one statement that stood out to me. This may not be verbatim, but it has been in my thoughts for a few days and seems so fitting in the strangest ways. She said, the moment that Ginger passed, things that Ginger kept as priceless keepsakes became worthless and things that she considered minuscule or worthless became priceless possessions for others.
One thing I do remember and will always, is being taken to her room and told I can pick out one thing to keep. I chose a small teddy bear. Not a very comfy or fluffy bear. Just a plain ordinary teal colored bear. I carried it with me almost everywhere for a while. One of the places I carried it was a friends house, who asked me what I had. When I told the short story of picking out my bear, the response that came stuck with my little bear forever. That little boy said to his mom, "Look, she has a Ginger Bear."
I have cleaned out my childhood room, I have packed up memories and have mostly forgotten about them. I have donated many things that I had once called special and grew out of. But I have never allowed my Ginger Bear to be in a box. Ginger, until today, has been in the nursery on a shelf.
In looking at the website about the race I noticed the 'color' for the cause is teal. I had bought new running shoes this weekend, in looking through the shelf for the purple ones, I found my size, the only pair left in my size. I tried them on and when I opened the box I was bummed to see that they weren't purple, they were grey with teal stripes. But now I see that is okay. Because with my teal bear, my teal shoes and my teal cause, I will run this race for Ginger.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Oh Frick!

Ever have a day where if you kept score, you obviously lost by noon and it didn't get much better after that? I do. It seems like a lot, really there are a lot of those days, they are just spaced well.  Or I can be positive and say there aren't that many and I seem to survive okay. But I am not in that positive mood right now. So allow me to get my pessimism out. Yesterday sucked. And I don't want to relive hardly any of it, I will only tell you of the one thing that I might find funny in a week or ten. But the rest I am going to try and forget.
Obviously, yesterday, I was stressed to the tips of my hair. I felt the strain of the day and wanted it to be done torturing me. It was only 6pm and I hadn't started my fantastic dinner of spaghetti. The "I have to make dinner but don't want to" meal. I got a call from a friend asking if they could come over and let their birthday girl play with Big Girl J, since all day that is all she asked for. I figured there was no harm, but the house was a bit messy and I hadn't started my cop out dinner. So I get up, a bit more motivated but still bitter at the day, and start water on the stove. I then began to pick up random toys laying all over the house. I get the meat cooking, saute the mushrooms and think I may have finally got the perfect amount of noodles in the boiling water. I always do too much and when it isn't too much, I have actually cooked too little and had to make more. But this batch proves my day might just end well.
The girls help pick up their mess, and have been playing nice. They kept running into the kitchen and tickling me from behind, then I would turn around and tickle them back till they ran out of the kitchen screaming. Wonderful husband calls and says he is on his way home, and needless to say all of this happening with in 10 minutes hasn't helped my frazzled brain too much. I pull out my strainer and stick it in the sink. I grab the pan of boiling noodles cooked perfectly and dump them in the strainer. I pick the strainer and shake it gently. I then move to dump the noodles back into the pan and drop one side of the strainer. I then watch the noodles dump down the garbage disposal. I scream. Then I have an idiotic moment and promptly shove my hand down into the middle of the steaming once boiling noodles, my scream changes from that of disbelief to pain. For I have just burned my hand. Only to the point of opening a dry skin crack and causing a slightly goofy feeling in the tips of my fingers for less than 24 hours.
I then decide to walk away.
Big Girl J was kind enough to ask me if I was OK, she was very concerned about mom, because mom doesn't always scream like that.
In all fairness, I am surprised that I don't scream like that more often. After I called Wonderful Husband and held back the tears. I returned to the sink. I found this.
I turned on the water, flipped the garbage disposal switch. Filled the pan with water and put it back on the stove. Then told the girls, "dinner will be just a little bit longer," And walked away. Again.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Because I Love My Big Girl

I am making birthday invites for Big Girl J's fourth birthday. I enjoy making the invites. I have fun coming up with a theme and using my scrap booking items to have a cute and creative card. The problem is I find a theme I like, I make an invite 'template' and I get half way through the hard part of mass producing the invites and think to myself, "Why can't I just buy a pack of cheap invites and fill out the blank lines?!"
Last night Wonderful Husband said it was because I am making all the other mom's jealous. Really that doesn't have anything to do with it. I want my girls to look back at the birthday party scrapbook I hope to make for them one day and think that they always had the coolest birthday party. Maybe it is because we ask people not to bring presents, just come and have fun. We take any reason for a good BBQ and getting friends together.
Whatever the reason may be, I know, deep in my heart, I am crazy. This year I have the most invites to make than any year before due to her 15 friends at preschool. I should have taken that in to consideration. I am making 30 under the sea birthday invites. I decided a cute fish on the front with the colorful 'scales.' I had some really fun shine and glittery paper from a paper pack I had purchase a year or so ago. Each fish needs 10 one inch circle punches of the different colors. Two of each color, then the circles are cut in half and layered on the fish cut out. This means I have had to punch 300 one inch circles. I should have taken the hint at that point that I was in over my head. But no, I am stubborn and crazy. Yesterday I spent a total of five hours attaching the scales. FIVE HOURS! That is only attaching the scales. That doesn't include the 3 hours I spent the other night cutting out the fishes, punching out the circles, cutting the pretty paper, and mostly assembling the card.

Today there is still the wording to 'attach.' In my template I used little embellishments to attach the wording on the front and inside. I am starting to think glue is good enough. I need to conserve my energy and keep my remaining small amount of sanity that may be buried deep beneath the crazy, but if I still have some I am determined to keep it. And the invite for the scrapbook, that one can have the cute embellishments!