Saturday, August 20, 2011

my sweet girlie's 12th birthday...

my lovely niece's 12th birthday is in a few days and since she couldn't decide on a cake i was going to pick up an ice cream cake... and then i saw this:

from the amazing blog Hostess With the Mostess, and i knew i'd have to make her a colorblock cake.  silly me asked her what colors she wanted (instead of just picking them) and we ended up with a more crazy and less elegant version of the beauty i was hoping for!  she picked green, purple & blue and picked crazy zebra pattern flowers from michael's in those colors to go on top... i guess a zebra/purple/blue/green theme works for a tween, right?

this cake was super duper easy... it's the first cake i've made with more than two layers that wasn't for a wedding but with the help of my trusty kitchen scale i could figure it out.  i used two cake mixes and divided each of those in half before adding the food coloring, as far as mixing the color in, i ended up using three different methods jut because the first two i tried didn't work and, sadly, the best method by far didn't involve the kitchen aid (eep!) it was actually mixing it by hand with a wisk

mixing by hand with a knife (my usual method for small batch frosting) left coloring chunks in a swirly pattern, see the purple cake layer? and the kitchen aid left chunks of color in the bottom of the bowl as you can see as flecks in the green layer but once it was all frosted with my amazing (if i do say so myself) buttercream it looked great and i don't think that anyone noticed the uneven coloring so i probably would have been fine just using the mixer for all of them

she was super excited to have a surprise waiting inside her cake

and it looked pretty cool when lifted up from inside

other than a little smearing of the frosting i think it turned out better than i had expected and just made me realize that i need to work a little bit more on leveling my cakes because the blue layer wasn't quite level enough and it was pretty noticeable... although i'm not sure than anyone really cared all that much about it being a bit uneven because they were too busy eating it!

happy birthday sweets, i hope you like your cake!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

brenza's apartment...

 what to do when you move into your first apartment and have practically zero dollars to spend on artwork? you call your friend the designer and ask her what she can do for you... at least that's what the lovely brenza lou did (real name brenda but brenza lou just sounds better to my silly self), after seeing her super bare apartment i decided she needed some art, big art, and fast! we went through the mounds of photos on my laptop and she picked a few photos from the garden walk i took my grandmother last year.  we printed them jumbo size and framed them (thank you sam's club for the value priced poster prints and michael's for the 50% off sale for the frames)

for the one she liked the most we framed it extra large and added some metal artwork (hobby lobby 40% off!)

the only problem was finding something to go over her tv... it was a big blank white wall with nothing going on.  after finding some inspiration on blogs and of course pinterest we came up with using tissue tubes (aka toilet paper & paper towels) cut into pieces, arranged into flower shapes (see the top pic, thats the close-up) and then grouped further.... after some spray paint, some additional hot glue and a few nails the first two sections are in place, we just need to finish the center but weren't sure how big so we made the side pieces first

i'll keep you posted on the final project but here's what you get for now, are any of you working on new, pinterest or otherwise inspired art pieces?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

we're craftastic!

my seester and i saw this and this over on pinterest and knew that a crayon wreath would be amazing for the girlies' teachers as a back-to-school or christmas gift.  last week we decided that after church we'd make a final trip to the local pool and then we'd work on them...  fast forward to today, it's rainy and cool (low to mid 70s) so we're not heading to the pool.  after church, lunch and a quick snack run (we always need snacks for crafting...snacks and giant mcd's diet coke that is!)

we started with two (two girlies = two teachers) chipboard/wood wreath forms that both got quick coats of red spray paint

then i had to figure out how to attach the ribbon hangers and make a bow at the top.  after some trial and error i figured out that putting a large loop of ribbon on each wreath hanger and then tying a bow separately and threading the bow onto the closed ribbon loop would be the best solution and not have any seams showing

then we started gluing down the crayons next to each other to make the sunburst pattern... this is not a good method because things get very crooked very quickly

after jhubs so lovingly pointed out the problem (quote: 'that's super crooked and you're doing it wrong') he suggested a better method that had us place the crayons on the vertices first (picture a clock - not a digital one though) put the crayons at 12, 3, 6 & 9 first, followed by 1:30, 4:30, 7:30 & 10:30 and fill them in section by section by subdividing each section to fill in the spaces.

after figuring this out it, the whole process went very quickly, i'd say start to finish it took about 40 minutes per wreath but i didn't really time it.  i hung one inside my back door for a few pictures and played with the bow placement

sorry it's dark but i definitely like the bow a bit further down

here's the cost breakdown, not sure that ya'll need it but i like to keep track and this is the best way for me to do it:

wreath forms: $3.99 at michaels (not enough advanced planning to pick them up with coupons but we will next time!)
crayons: $1.20 for three 24 count packs of crayons at target (yay for $.40 crayons at back to school time!)
ribbon: $3.99 at michaels - 25% off coupon
total: less than $10!! which is way less than some flowers or something else and it lasts ways longer, plus i love the way it turned out and i really hope their teachers do!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

the goings on this month

first things first, sorry, i'm a lazy blogger, i do have a really good excuse though! i's been soooo busy, really i promise... we planted a garden in early june... a really ridiculously big garden.  it's about 60'x8' but 1/2 of that depth is our grape vines so they're definitely a lot lower maintenance.  this is the garden the day jhubs and his minions finished it (thanks minions, you're amazing!), and was taken almost exactly two months ago

and here it is a week ago... which looks bare compared to what i wandered out to find tonight because we had a major watering last night, lots of sun today followed by a downpour tonight and it's getting a bit out of hand.  see those pumpkin vines in the way back growing out into the yard?

these pumpkin vines are taking over in a big big way... last week when i took this picture the 6 or so pumpkins that i could see were about the size of a golf ball and now, a week later, they're baseball sized and there's lots more golf ball sized ones too.  so much for having so much room in our garden we might not know what to do with all the space!

other than pumpkins we've got basil that i've dried several bunches of

pickles that ive canned 5 quarts of already and that was from only one great day of harvesting

4 english cukes, some hungarian peppers (hot and regular) that are just starting to mature, a small green pepper that i picked too early, a couple watermelons that we thought were ready but as it turns out were picked too early as well (at least we're learning!) and loads of tomatoes that better not ripen all together or i'm gonna have sauce coming out my ears!

along with all of our gardening the jhubs surprised me with a lovely early birthday present and i feel completely spoiled (thanks babe!)

i also got to head to the pool with my seester, nieces and mom on a couple of days and have helped teach the PH (youngest niece) how to swim without her lifejacket, she's also gotten up the courage to jump off of the 1 meter spring board and platform and go down the waterslide... that's a big deal for the girl that wouldn't go into the 6' deep end of the pool a few weeks ago

 oh, and i went to my 10 year high school reunion and got to wear this great dress

and these super adorable shoes!

oh! and work has been super busy and i'm working around 40 hours a week, every week, which doesn't seem like a lot but my position is supposed to be for around 25 hours a week so working the extra hours and doing everything else has been tiring.  the worst part is that everyone else has been working lots of extra hours... 

well, maybe not the worst part because keeping up morale is a big part of my manager's job and she does this by throwing quickly planned employee appreciation days (as in, pick someone working today that might not be feeling appreciated or maybe just a bit overworked and throw them a 'you're appreciated and super awesome and we love you please don't not come to work tomorrow' party).  the best part about these parties is that we get cake, or cookies, or something equally smile-inducing... usually our awesome boss gets the cake but one particular day i decided to get one kind of for our awesome boss and kind of for everyone.  i wanted to put "you're appreciated" but when i said that to the lovely bakery worker at Wal-Mart she said it might not fit, i asked her if "you're awesome" would fit and she asked me to spell 'awesome'... i should have spelled both words, serious cake fail

on the upside though, it earned lots of smiles and laughter and boosted morale right on up... so much that for a lovely lady's last day, our awesome boss decided to purposely misspell her cake as kind of a running joke

 oh lordy, they totally did misspell it and it was awesome...

we also had VBS last week at church but that's a different post for a different day, it was 5 of the most tiring and rewarding days and i wouldn't have traded it for the world :)