Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Why salt dough ornaments are a tease (and other Christmas happenings)

Pinterest was going overboard with all of the cute salt dough recipes and ornaments on all kinds of pages (Holiday, Kids, DIY, EVERYWHERE!)

It was so easy, the pins promised. It was so cheap, the pins promised. It was so cute, the pins promised.

Bait taken.

Cheap? Sure, when you have most of the supplies on hand.
Cute? The jury's still out.
Easy? I almost abandoned this project three times. It was almost a pinterest fail.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water

Mix all ingredients together.

Easy! Especially when Bubby is helping "cook."

Knead until a ball of dough forms. Bubby played with it for about two minutes before he got bored with dropping pieces of it onto the floor. (I must remember that he is only 15 months old, which means a two-minute attention span is actually an accomplishment.)

Save dough in container for about three days until you summon enough courage to press a toddler's foot into it.

Form two balls out of dough. Pick pieces of dog fur out of dough ball. Press flat.

Press screaming toddler's foot into flattened dough.

Repeat. Give toddler iPhone for two minutes as a thank you.

Poke holes in the top (mechanical pencils without the lead pushed out work nicely).

(There are no pictures of these processes)

Let dry.

For two weeks.

None of the sites I checked mentioned anything about taking two weeks to dry. I set them on a cooling rack. I set them on waxed paper. I flipped them over (and prayed that the footprint would be preserved). I contemplated baking them, but didn't really feel like running my oven at 175 degrees for over an hour for two piddly salt dough ornaments.

On the second day of the drying process, the footprint flattened out and I thought all was lost. However, DO NOT ABANDON HOPE! The footprint will flatten out and then the rest will flatten and you'll be okay.

I finally got around to painting them.

And the painting experience was horrible. Maybe I set my expectations too high. I'm used to painting things like canvas or paper or rocks. Things that are not highly water soluble.

I couldn't figure out why my paint wasn't sticking if I brushed over it more than twice and then I realized that the dough had become wet and softened and was getting all gummy again.

When you paint these buggers, make sure you glob on the paint and dab rather than swipe. Also, don't go over an area more than once.

It dried pretty quickly, and it's kind of a success. One definitely looks better than the other. I think they are very third-grade-holiday-craft-from-art-class-ish. But I like 'em!

String ribbon through the hole and hang on the tree. We aren't cutting a tree this year since we'll be out of town, but you can use your imagination.

We also took our family photo. I was tempted to make it all Pinterest-y, but that's not really our family. We aren't always coordinated and matchy. We aren't always smiley. Rufus jumped into and out of about six takes. Sparkles don't fly in the air around us. There is no bokeh. No cute chalkboard signs.

So this year, it's a good ol' selfie.

My favorites:

The one we are going with:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

DIY Tied Wreath

Our neighbor is a Michigan fan, and every year, he hangs a flag off his front door (and every year, Andy crosses the street to go around his house on our walks). Our neighbor is probably pretty nice (we don't know him very well), but football rivalry blood runs deep in my husband's veins, so sometimes, he takes drastic measures. To show our Buckeye pride, I wanted to make a Buckeye wreath. Normally, Pinterest is my go-to DIY site. However, all of my wreath pins led to Etsy sites where I could buy a wreath for $XX plus shipping, or were dead ends (Oh, 404 Error, how I loathe thee!).

Fine. If Pinterest wasn't going to play nice, I'd wing it.

3 yds of fabric, your choice of colors. I went with red, dark grey, and light grey
1 foam wreath form
pinking shears

1) I'm not big measure-r, so I just started cutting approximately 1-2" strips of fabric and eyeballed the length. I wrapped the first one I cut around the wreath to see what it would look like. Cut to your desired length.
(I'm a naughty crafter and didn't even iron the fabric)

2) Tie strips around wreath form however you want. I'm a bit OCD about patterns, so I went red, light, dark. I thought about doing "rows" of colors, but Andy liked them all mixed together.

3) You can have the knots point any direction you want for different effects.

(Knots facing up, with a few turned back so I can glue something nifty to the corner)

(Knots facing out)

4) I added my Buckeye necklace to the wreath and attached them. (I also bought wooden letters O,S, and U, but thought they took up too much room.)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Do it!

Join a bone marrow registry (or at least think about it). (And make sure you're willing to follow through if you join!)

I just mailed my kit back Monday. Who knows - maybe I can save someone's life :)

If there is ever anyone I know whose life depended on a bone marrow transplant, I hope their match registered.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

In the Misty Morning Fog

Who knew that I'd be thinking of Van Morrison at 6:30 this morning? (Actually, it would have been 7:30 if not for Daylight Savings Time, but since babies don't usually get that memo, we were up "early.")

It had been a fairly cold night last night, and the sun was ready to start burning up the fog. It was so pretty, I grabbed my camera and took a few pics while Hayden was playing with blocks.

You can literally see the steam rising off of the fence and our neighbor's lawn.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


In my Monster Mash post, I claim that I am obsessed with monsters when it comes to babies. Further proof is below.

Andy and I had a little fun with Halloween this year. We kept it pretty simple and allowed ourselves (and Hayden) a few treats.

We had mummy-dogs and homemade mac'n'cheese for dinner.

(Our mummy is a little naked, but hey! a lot of that wrapping stuff disintegrates over the millennia)

I also combined a bunch of fruit cups in some leftover jello-shot plastic cups we had and made some candy corn fruit cups (pears on bottom, mandarin oranges (which are great sources of nutrition for babies!) in the middle, and pineapple on top).

(Adult version next year: add pineapple juice and vodka and soak overnight in the fridge. Do not confuse with the kiddo ones, although the baby will sleep VERY well if you do.)

 Dinner got the Hayden stamp of approval.

The monster costume we trapped him in did not.

At bedtime, we switched over to cowboy mode (that is, if cowboys wear puppy pajamas when they're on the trail (which they do.)).

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Happy birthday, Roo!

Five years ago yesterday, our squishy, fluffy, doofy Rufus was born.

("Whurs ma cake, lady?")

For those of you who don't know his story, he was born to a purebred Boston Terrier in a puppy mill in Cleveland, OH. The lady had been charged once already with animal hoarding, was told that she could no longer own animals, and all of her animals were removed from her property. When they went back a few months later, there were dead horses on her property covered with some tarp and manure, and she had a bunch more dogs, all in puppy-mill-style cages. Rufus's momma was rescued and there were no male dogs on the premises so no one knew what the puppies were mixed with. Rufus, his mother, brother, and sister were all taken in by Midwest Boston Terrier Rescue.

A few months later, Andy and I were trolling, fell in love with Rufus's sister, and sent in our application. Rufus's sister had been adopted a few days before our app went in, so we were told if we'd like we can pick between the two remaining males ("do you want the hyper one or the non-hyper one?").

On New Year's Day 2009, a very hungover Andy and a very excited me drove to Cleveland to pick up "Bo."

("I needs cake! I'm a angel!")

Rufus has been through a lot with us. Two moves, one baby, Stella passing away...he is my constant shadow and a wonderful furbaby. We love you, Roody Poody! Happy Birthday!

Remember, friends, OPT TO ADOPT! Rescues rule (not that I'm biased or anything).

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Monster Mash

When it comes to baby stuff, I The proof is in the pictures.

Hayden came home from the hospital in a monster outfit.


For his first Halloween, he was a monster.

(Hey....RAWR again!)

For his next Halloween, he will be a monster (new costume of course, already purchased thankyouverymuch). 

So of course his first birthday party was monster-themed. 

Initially, Andy and I wanted to keep Hayden's first b-day low-key...just the three of us going to the zoo or the library or something like that. It's not like babies remember their first birthday, right? 

Well, it just so happened that I had a slight Pinterest addiction (Andy would disagree with the "slight") over the summer and the more cute monster stuff I saw, the more I realized that I just had to have a monster-themed birthday party for Hayden. 

And poof! One guest list and about eight hours of crafting, cooking and baking later, Hayden (I mean, Mommy) had a monster birthday bash. I told myself we were celebrating the fact that Andy and I had made it through our first year as first time parents and we were both still alive and happily married. In my defense, I scaled Hayden's party wayyyyyy back from what I'd envisioned based on my Pinterest board, which included a cardboard cutout city as a cake-smashing venue and a building-shaped cake and Hayden dressed up like a monster and smashing the building-cake in the building-shaped can see why Andy was worried when I first asked him about it. 

In case people forgot why they were at our house...

I cut up two different fruit salads - one had fruit cut up in itty bitty bites. One of the hardest things about going to parties with a toddler is trying to cut stuff up with those plastic forks and knives!

Monster cupcakes!

The balloons weren't supposed to be crooked, but I doubt Hayden noticed...

I was super-excited about my awesome monster rubber ducky find! We taped them to the tops of play-doh containers and wrapped the play-doh in green duct tape and drew monster faces on the duct tape.

Cute birthday onesies are all over, but it is much more economical to buy white onesies from Target, some iron-on printable sheets from Jo-Anns, fire up the old GIMP skills and make your own. Cute babies are not for sale at any of those stores.

I found the fishbowl things at a thrift store and pretty much my favorite food thing we made was the Cheerios-cups-with-marshmallow-and-Craisins-eyes.

Hayden is fortunate enough to have a birthday in the beginning of September, when the weather is perfect for indoor/outdoor fun. We set up the water table and the kiddos loved it!

Hayden's smashing cake was a double-tier vanilla cake decorated with the grass-tip and with cake-pops for eyes.

Hayden was a little intimidated by the cake. He was also full of Cheerios and fruit.

He wasn't so keen on the overload of sugar. It did make me question for a moment his genetic make-up considering both his parents have fiendish sweet-tooths (or is it sweet-teeth?)

One of the birthday gifts was a wagon, which Hayden absolutely loved. He also loved being outside shirtless. He probably would have preferred to be full-nakey, but a momma's gotta draw the line somewhere.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


I can appreciate a variety of tough topics in literature and novels. I survived The Kite Runner (of course, not without sobbing). I made it through George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones series right after having a baby, and that man kills off babies like it's his job.

Now, tell me why I only made it through twenty-two chapters in Dan Brown's newest best-seller Inferno (which isn't far at all if you're familiar with Brown's 2-3 page chapters). What is wrong with me?!? I love Dan Brown! I even liked Digital Fortress and the one about the Arctic frozen stuff!

Apparently I can handle demonic forces of evil and anti-matter-particle things, but there's something about human overpopulation that just bumps my blood pressure up to the point that I can't read any more. I confirmed the validity of the scary graphs in the book on Wikipedia (it's true!) and had to put the book down for good.

Andy's taking it back to the library this weekend.

What about you? Is there a book that you've had to put down because you couldn't handle the subject matter or premise?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Singing in the Rain

So this is shaping up to be the last semi-warm week of the year. It was my bright idea to take a walk this afternoon despite the menacing gray clouds.

"Looks like it's going to rain," Andy said.

He's my husband, so it's my right (and in my job description) to ignore about 50% of what he says. He returns the favor, so that's why it's a good partnership.

"Yeah," I agreed. "Are you coming with me?"

It's a football day, so the answer was no. Ten minutes later, Roody poody was hooked up to his leash and Hayden was strapped into his tank stroller. Let me digress here for a moment, only because it is (semi) relevant to a later part of the story. It's only partly relevant, but it is also a chance for me to brag about Andy's creative skills, so you're hearing about it.

I have a stroller problem. Three of them to be exact. One that is the all-in-one carseat-stroller contraption for bitty, bitty babies. One is a jogging stroller for all of the, um, jogging that I do. One is an umbrella stroller I am borrowing from a friend for when we want to go somewhere but don't feel like running over dogs, small children, and adult ankles in a crowd. The carseat stroller is nice because the expandable visor thing can move. If the sun is right in front of us, I can bump the visor all the way down so the sun isn't in Hayden's eyes. On the jogging stroller, the visor is securely and permanently attached to the top back part of the stroller. I justified keeping the carseat stroller because I liked the moveable visor. Andy fixed the problem by creating the tank stroller. He took the moving visor from the carseat stroller and attached it to the jogging stroller. When the sun is super crazy, Hayden goes into tank mode. We put the carseat visor all the way down, which leaves a gap at the top. Then we put the jogging stroller top down and the entire stroller is covered by one visor or the other. It's pretty fancy, even if the visors don't match.

So, I figured that if it started to sprinkle, Hayden could go into tank mode. No biggie.

We embarked on our walk, smiling and waving at neighbors we didn't know. I got to the point in the neighborhood where I could either turn left and go around the block and head home, or I could turn right and head past the newer houses, but would have to turn around when I wanted to go home.

The heather-gray clouds looked like they would hold off on spilling their guts for another hour or two, so I turned right.

I walked a good two blocks before the rain started to splat. Not the nice, friendly tinkle-sprinkle of light rain drops. These were the ones that make noise and make you blink when they land on your face because they're kinda heavy.

"Okay," I thought to myself. "This isn't too bad. I'll just turn around at the next street corner." I put Hayden's stroller in tank mode and trucked onward.

Then the splats turned into a straight-on downpour. I was drenched in 7.6 seconds flat. Rufus was in doggie panic mode and was trying to hide under the stroller. Hayden started screaming.

At the time, I was rather foolishly wearing flip flops. I tossed those bad boys in the little carrier under the stroller and ran barefoot back toward the house. I'm pretty sure I looked like a class-A idiot mother. We were the only ones outside on a walk-that-was-now-a-frantic-run. Poor Rufus was running like a rabid dog, zig-zagging across lawns, alternately trying to hide under trees and/or the stroller. Hayden was screaming in his Frankenstein stroller.

I had that terrible feeling like I wasn't just a half-mile from my house. I may as well have been trekking through a snake-infested jungle a thousand miles from home. That is the type of desperate "Oh shit"ness I was feeling.

At one point in the journey that seemed like a hundred miles back to my house, a nice lady let me cross the street without stopping to look both ways (I did look both ways, but didn't stop because the lady waved me through). She rolled down her window and shouted what I presumed was "Are you okay?" (It was a little hard to hear over the downpour and the screaming baby). I said I was fine and plastered a rain-soaked smile on my face.

I ran barefoot the whole way home, even though part of the sidewalk at one point was gravel from the construction. I didn't even feel it. Not quite the same as lifting a car off a kid, but definitely Momma-power!

Andy met me in the garage with a stack of towels. At some point in our journey, part of the tank-mode stroller collapsed and Hayden was soaked to the bone.

We made quite the pair. I am happy to report that Hayden seems untraumatized by the incident. He may end up peeing the bed tonight, but I doubt it's from our journey today. He is officially 13 months old!

(See, no tears. A little bit of fear in the eyes, maybe.)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Italy-themed bridal shower

My cousin and I threw her sister an Italy-themed bridal shower a few months ago because that's where the lucky girl got engaged (I wouldn't trade my mother-in-law's-house-engagement-complete-with-scrapbook-from-the-hubby for anything, but the seven-year-old in me longed for an exotic engagement).

We scoured pinterest for ideas and here's what we came up with. We really didn't want anything too cartoon-y (thinking spaghetti scene from Lady & the Tramp) and we wanted it as authentic as possible without having it look like a Christmas party. Italy's flag colors are red, white and green, so that was a bit of a challenge.

We purchased tulle from the local craft store. It's super-cheap at a couple of bucks a yard. We ended up having to double it up so that it wasn't totally see-through. We used it as a swag across my aunt's window and as a backdrop for the triangle thing. We cut out the letters using a font from as inspiration, and then we glued it onto scrapbook paper and strung them up with thread. "Sposami" is "Marry me" in Italian...

For the tables, we used frames I already had and printed off cities in Italy that the bride-to-be had visited  and glued them onto scrapbook paper.

I also made the Martha Stewart puffballs you see everywhere in red, white and green. We suspended them from the ceiling with tacks and fishing line.

For the table where the B2B sat, we bought lemons (probably the most expensive purchase at 50 cents a pop) and sprinkled fresh basil leaves over the top and arranged it all in punch bowls we bought from the thrift store.

We also cut out the letters "A-D-O-R-E" and mod podged them onto mason jars and filled them with alstromeria and the white fluffy flowers.

The menu included bruschetta, a variety of olives, salad, pasta dishes, fruit, prosciutto, and lemon and strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

 Games included the toilet paper dress game, where you divide into teams and make wedding dresses in 5 mins or less and the bride selects the winning team. We also had the typical surveys about the bride and groom, word search and word scramble.


 As a favor for the bride, we bought knock-off Jenga and had guests write their names and wedding advice on the blocks.

And I leave you with the shower gift that was a huge hit: Wedding cake a la towels complete with his/hers rubber ducky cake toppers.