Archive for the ‘Hobbies’ Category

The Lost Chapter of Genesis

07 Nov

Lego Adam and EveTo the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; and in sorrow you shall forfeit sleep from the child’s 4th month of age until a time seeming befitting to the Lord, for whom a day is a thousand years. Your desire shall be for your bed, but your child shall rule over your night.”

And the woman besought the Lord, saying, “Oh Lord, my punishment is greater than I can bear. Wilt thou not have mercy on me?”

And the Lord relented and said, “It will come to pass that the season of the sleep regression shall end.”

And the woman thanked the Lord, but then the Lord continued, “And then there shall be puke. And the puke shall come without warning, like a thief in the night. And the child shall bring forth puke abundantly, which shall go up and come into your house, and into your bedchamber, and upon your bed, and upon your people, and upon your clothes, and into your hair, and onto your floors. And there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth whilst you clean the puke from the child’s ear canals.”

And the woman asked, “Where then is my hope? Who can see any hope for me?”

And the Lord laughed heartily, for his sense of humor is great. But the woman was not amused.

And so the Lord God took pity upon her and provided a leafy plant and made it grow. And the woman asked the Lord God what was the purpose of this plant? And the Lord God presented the woman with a good and perfect gift taken from the plant, which renewed her strength.

And she called the gift Coffee, which means “The Lord Has Preserved My Sanity.”

So the woman was very grateful for the plant. But as the day drew on, the effects of the coffee faded. And it happened, when the sun set, that the child let loose a vehement east wind in the form of a tantrum; and the tension overcame the woman, so that she grew faint. Then she wished death for herself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

Then God said to Eve, “Is it right for you to be overwhelmed?”

And she said, “It is right for me to be overwhelmed, even to death!”

And so the Lord God created a second plant, one which bore fruit. And again when the woman asked the purpose of the plant, God bestowed upon her a gift taken from the fruit of the plant. She looked upon the gift and declared, “It is good.”

And she called the gift “Wine” because she said, “Again, the Lord God has restored my soul.”

 
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Posted in Parenting, Writing

 

Xander Day

09 Aug

One year ago today, my son lost his best friend.  Xander‘s last act upon this earth was holding a 3-year-old girl above the water so that she could breathe, while he drowned.

Xander’s parents have been such an inspiration to us over the past year.  They have found the strength not only to move forward in the midst of a heart-wrenching tragedy, but also to use their son’s memory to make the world a better place.  They strive each day to emulate Xander’s compassionate nature, and have continually worked toward saving lives and making a difference in the lives of others.

In a similar vein, we wished to honor Xander’s memory today, and decided to implement what we have started calling “Xander Day.”  Jens and I both took off work today, so we had a full day at our disposal.  Every member of our family brainstormed to come up with acts of kindness we could carry out throughout the day.

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We made and delivered teacher gifts.

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We purchased school supplies for underprivileged kids.

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The kids helped me bake cookies, which we put in these cans as gifts.

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We delivered the cookies to neighbors.

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The kids helped Jens make a donation to The Water Project

We also made donations to Goodwill.  We took a big box of shoes and clothes, Kaelin donated some books, and Koren picked out some toys to give. The kids even managed to do kind things for each other.  Koren took the initiative to go ask the hostess for a coloring page for Kaelin while we were at lunch, and Kaelin later volunteered to help Koren clean a mess he had made in the pantry.

It’s been a busy day, but one full of blessings.  Many of our neighbors weren’t home, so we branched out and met some people on our street that we don’t know.  We even discovered that one of our neighbors knew Xander as well.  And it warmed my heart so much to see the kids doing things for each other, and also making other people smile.  Today was an example to us that sometimes God can make blessings bloom in the midst of tragedy, and I hope that we are able to continue this tradition as we honor Xander’s memory in the future.  As always, we’re keeping Xander’s family in our thoughts and prayers, and look forward to spending some time with them soon.

And now I need to go put up the leftover cookies to keep my kids from raiding them.

 
 

Dino-Mite Party Decor

16 Jun

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Koren has themes already picked out for all his birthday parties through the age of 12.  This was the year of the Dinosaur Party.  I was super disappointed that the Herd Museum doesn’t have their Dinosaurs Live! exhibit up this time of year, but we probably would have melted in the heat anyway.

I thought he would want to outsource the party this year, but upon hearing about the possibility of a Dino Dig in our back yard, decided he really wanted to have it at home again.  I was fine with this because I have a feeling that our years of having home parties are limited and it will be all Pump it Up or Chuck E Cheese in the future.

Out of fear that the cake would melt in the sunroom, I opted to have the food in the dining room this year, which meant covering up my purple wall.  A few paper plates and table cloths did the trick.

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I’m annoyed that I didn’t get better pictures of… well, anything.  But I was running behind schedule and having to take pictures in between greeting the guests and everything was kind of a blur.

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The cake was fun, and I finally figured out how to do palm trees that are structurally sound (enough) and look decent. As long as I can keep the cat from playing with them.

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Our standard “plywood-over-a-coffee-table” worked nicely this year also, with JUST BARELY enough room for all the attendants.  We moved our actual dining table out to the sunroom, where it served nicely as a come-and-go crafts table.

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I usually don’t bother with party hats, but these little triceratops were too cute to pass up, and stood up when placed over a punch cup.

 

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And of course, food.  This was a big party day, and a lot of the kids (including mine) were attending multiple parties this day… so I couldn’t in good conscience have nothing but cake to offer.

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…Ok, so maybe Jello Jigglers aren’t exactly a healthy alternative, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to use my dinosaur cookie cutters.

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We had very little food left over, which made me very happy.  I hate having to find room to store a bunch of leftovers after a party.

And last but not least, party favors.  I put the kids to work assembling these, so I hope everybody got the same distribution of goodies inside.

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2 Down; 8,612 to go…

05 Jan

One of my goals during this Staycation was to make a major dent in the 6 years of scrapbooking I haven’t done.  Unfortunately, that just didn’t quite work out as I had hoped, but I did manage to put together two pages today:

2012-12-24 Christmas Elves

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Angry Birds Cake

25 Oct

Kaelin has had her heart set on an Angry Birds theme for her 7th birthday party since approximately the day after her 6th birthday party.  Since it wasn’t Disney, I was happy to oblige.  Really, I’ve been pretty fortunate in the overall lack of Disney princess obsession she has developed.

We ended up having her birthday at a pumpkin patch located on a ranch, so Angry Birds became Western Pumpkin Angry Birds.

I scoured the web for Angry Birds cakes, but  couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for.  So I invented it.

I neglected to take as many “in process” pictures of this cake as I usually do.  But you’ll probably get the idea.  It took me a full day plus a couple of evenings.  I did attempt buttercream for the first time in a long time.  Not sure what I did the first time I tried to make buttercream (several years ago) but that time it tasted like straight butter and was disgusting.  This time, however, I had success and created a pretty delicious (if I do say so myself) frosting that is a lot cheaper than buying the decorator frosting tubs.  It’s a relief to no longer be scared of buttercream.

My initial model

Chocolate piggy halves

Stone tower covered in fondant

Stone tower – these were made of styrofoam because a) it’s sturdier, and b) I didn’t need that much cake

The base of the cowboy hat was made of gum paste. I dried it on a cake smoother to give it its shape.

Cowboy Piggy and the logs are made of cake.  I did learn something very important.  Moist cakes and buttercream frosting get very soft when luke-warm.  Next time I will freeze the cake before covering it in fondant so it will keep its shape.  It’s really disheartening when you suddenly discover that your piggy has aged 30 years in an hour, and now has wrinkles.

Extra bird… because you can’t really have an Angry Birds cake without any birds. Another lesson learned though… you can’t turn gum paste into chocolate gum paste just by adding cocoa powder. It gets very dry and cracky and will not absorb the powdered sugar you have to use to roll it out.

At the party. Remember that “buttercream gets soft when warm” thing? Piggy took a nosedive into the grass halfway through the party. Fortunately, everybody thought it was funny and fit with the theme.

 

 
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Posted in Birthdays, Cakes, Kaelin

 

Craft Project

08 Oct

Koren had a day off school today.  I’m finding that the problem with having kids in two different schools is that they have different days off.  I’m really looking forward to only working around ONE school calendar next year.

Anyway, I was able to work from home this day, but still had to work.  So we went to the craft store and stocked up on projects to keep him busy.  He chose a pirate ship, so we spread out the activity map and he painted and painted. (What?  Doesn’t everybody do craft projects in their underwear?)

When Kaelin got home from school, she helped also.

The finished product:

 
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Posted in Crafts

 

Ahoy Matey! Pirate Party Decor

09 Jun

For Koren’s fourth birthday, he chose a pirate theme.  My goal was to go for “cute pirate” rather than “scary pirate” for obvious reasons.  I originally intended to stay completely away from any skull and crossbones imagery.  Unfortunately, I soon discovered that it is pretty much impossible to throw a pirate party without the famed Jolly Roger.  Still, I tried to minimize it as much as possible.  After an obscene amount of time spent on Pinterest, I narrowed down my ideas and ended up with the following:

 

The Setup - before the chaos ensued.

It was going to cost me over $100 to rent a bunch of kiddie-sized tables and chairs for a few hours, so I sent Jens to Home Depot for a cheap plank of plywood. We placed it over a coffee table and covered it with a tablecloth. In lieu of chairs, I used foam puzzle floor mats for the kids to sit on - which also helped protect the carpet.

Kids' table, complete with Ship Sale Sandwiches (thanks Mom & Dad for the PB&J cutouts!) and Scallywag Shish Kabobs

Cake Table with cardboard ship's mast. I'm pretty pleased with the ship's mast, which is part of a cardboard ship I plan to assemble for Koren to play with in the near future. Kaelin got a cardboard tower playhouse as souvenir from her Tangled party, and it was something both kids were able to appreciate for months after the party.

Cake Table

The Cake. See the previous post for details on this bad boy.

"Oz-ARRRG-ka" water ... Get it??? ARRRG! That was Jens' idea. I can always rely on him for a good pun. Or a bad one.

Fish & Chips (Goldfish crackers and carrot chips)

Cannon Balls (chocolate donuts)

Jolly Roger Jello (blue jello with an orange slice, a recycled idea from Kaelin's Tangled Party)

Because you can't have a pirate party without Pirate's Booty.

Blackbeard's Berries - these were a hit with the kids.

It kind of bugged me that my bowls said "POPCORN" on them, so at the last minute I sliced up some thank you notes and taped over them. Because I'm a little obsessive like that.

Pirate's Loot Table

I was pretty pleased with how everything turned out.  After weeks of planning and assembling, it was finally time for the festivities to begin!

 

 

Pirate Treasure Cake

09 Jun

This was my first time experimenting with ganache instead of frosting.  It went pretty well, though I ended up layering it really thickly because I wasn’t very good at smoothing it effectively before it hardened.  Even though it made the cake sturdier, it was kind of difficult to cut and ganache is really, really rich – so next time I will make an effort to keep it thin.

This was after the first layer of ganache - I added a white chocolate layer on top of this.

I covered the ganached cake in marshmallow fondant and added red stripes.

I molded the lid for the chest out of gum paste.

I then painted the lid with melted chocolate in the hopes that when the chocolate hardened, it would help keep the gum paste in the proper shape.

I discovered that my treasure chest base was half an inch wider than the lid, so I had to trim it.

I covered the base and lid of the chest with brown fondant, then scored it with a pizza cutter and painted it to make it look more like wood.

Wet paint.

With gold coins.

I made the gold accents for the chest out of fondant painted with gold and edible glitter.

I assembled the chest base on the cake and accessorized with some raw sugar and chocolate coins.

Finally, I put the top on the chest and held my breath waiting for it to break and fall.

 

Miraculously, it held together.

And even stayed put through the party the following day.

AND I even kept my kids' fingers out of it (not an easy task) for a full day. Though Koren periodically snuck into the laundry room to open the fridge and "just look at it."

Overall, I’m pleased with how it turned out.  It’s no Tangled tower, but I also didn’t as much time at my disposal as I did for the Tangled cake.  It ended up about half as detailed as I had initially imagined, but by Thursday night, I had hit that “Screw it” point that seems to happen toward the end of every large undertaking.  You know when you’re trying to move and instead of packing up those last two boxes of Random, you just start chucking stuff in the trash bag and don’t even care because you’re too busy freaking out about all the other stuff you still have to do?

Yeah.  It’s like that.

But really, it was mostly fun.  And by the time the next birthday rolls around, I’ll probably be ready to do it again.

Probably.