Tuesday, December 16, 2008

the anticipation is KILLING me!

Although it saddens me a little bit to leave this lovely scene so early in the season...

notice Aaron's NOODLE angel? Perhaps my favorite ornament (and his too).

or this delight. love it. (sorry these pictures aren't the greatest. a little blurry).

notice I still haven't finished (or let's be honest, STARTED) Matilda's stocking.

new BEAUTIFUL tree skirt. I want to wear this, I love it THAT much.
Special thanks to Home Goods for carrying this wonderful item.

Sad to leave that site, but happy to see these sites/peeps featured below.

okay. I know. It may seem a little cheesy, but it is awesome to me. I told my friend about our family's Christmas Eve tradition the other day---she laughed, as did I, but really---what is there not to love about this??

Nothing. Love it all. (In case you were curious, my brother Jesse, was in Asia for two of those pictures---and yes, we have a picture similar to these EVERY year, but these were the only ones I could find on my family's website. Dad, get on that. j/k).

Gotta love matching pajamas.

Also, gotta love these people.

Can't wait to have so much fun showing ALL the above peeps (except tyler, who is on a mission in North Carolina--hOLLa! to you, Ty!), this little dolly...

busting a groove, here.

and welcome this girl back to the our mother country---U.S. of A.

and have so much fun.
all around.

here's a lovely image I found of my dear husband, circa 1985ish? I love it. He's the only BOY pictured. And, what a darling boy he is/was.

get a load of that cheesy grin!

(Oh, and a side note, that blue striped pj ensemble featured at the top---I discovered it is designer. I found "Oscar De La Renta" on the tags. That's right. Fancy schmancy.
We do pj's right, apparently. Who knew you were so "fashion forward", mom?!)

MeRrY cHrIstMaS!

p.s. if you look closely in that last picture of Aaron and his two darling sisters, you will notice on the tree, a red felt hand cut out ornament. If you scroll up further to look at our tree, you will see it again! SOO fun!!

thanks to the fiddler... on the roof.

here are some shots from the month of December that we especially enjoy.
merry merry.
the fruit of his efforts.
in his words, not mine, "what should have been a 45 minute job, took the entire saturday. grhbh."

shopping at the outlets.
we have a BORN shopper on our hands.
SHE LOVES shopping. Especially when her dad is toting her around.

Pictures we thought about doing on our Christmas card... but instead, did something entirely different. Enjoy WAY too many pictures of us.

and last, but not least---here's the doll, herself, relaxing. Notice her feet. She kills me.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

lessons learned in baking.

So, this past weekend we had a Christmas party at our church, and I had volunteered to make cupcakes for the event a few weeks ago. It was unfortunate that I didn't remember how busy this time of year is AND how involved cupcakes were. But, alas, it was a good excuse to be somewhat domestic and create something beautiful---so, what do you do, but fully embrace it----and buy a new frosting tip for the occasion AND white sprinkles? Nice.

I learned some lessons while I was doing this 4+ hour project. Feel free to glean from my wisdom.
1) Do volunteer to help---but be mindful of WHEN the event is happening and how involved the "recipe of choice" will be (see above). In hindsight, a two pans of brownies would have been a good idea.

2) When doubling a batch of cupcakes (48), feel free to start the NIGHT BEFORE. Thus allowing the mini cakes to cool and your dishes to be clean for the next day.

3) Red Velvet Cake batter is BEAUTIFUL. Remember that tidbit always. (I've never seen something so red and delightful in a mixing bowl before!)

4) Silicone muffin "tins" are great to clean, but take EXTRA caution when you are loading a batter filled pan into the oven. If you don't pay attention, or are sloppy with this process---you will pay. Seriously. Batter will be all over your oven racks and everywhere else.

5) ...which brings me to my next hint, cover the bottom of your oven (below the heating coils) with aluminum foil. It makes for easy cleanup when you make dumb mistakes.

6) Don't put "cling wrap" or any other type of "wrap" on top of warm cupcakes---that is, unless you want to ruin the tops of them---then, by all means, go for it.

1) When mixing butter and cream cheese, room temperature is best. Seriously. Straight from the fridge is COOL, but not the COOL we want for frosting (if you catch my drift).

2) Consistency is EVERYTHING--especially when you are going to "decorate" with a frosting bag. If you are noticing that it is so stiff even BEFORE you put it in your bag, then stop, add a little more liquid (like milk) and try again. If you don't stop while you are ahead, your body will ache from squeezing the life out of the little bag. Your back will ache and your arms will be dead.

3) Don't try to save yourself an extra thing to clean---feel free to use the measuring spoon when adding more ingredients. Don't try to be a hero by "eye balling it" when you are dumping something like meringue powder into your frosting. More will come out than you want and you will be covered in powder---not to mention your cupboard, floor, rug, fridge, etc. True Story. I promise, one extra utensil to wash is WORTH it.

4) You can wash out disposable frosting bags. And, you can use a ziploc bag when in a bind. Just cut off the corner.

5) Always have some pre-made frosting in your pantry. You never know if you are going to run out of powdered sugar, butter, or your sanity. And no one ever thinks they will have 7 cupcakes left to frost in the end. So, that pre-made jar I've had for a while---worked wonders. (these are the ones that look a little yellowish on the picture. I'm thinking that "butter cream" kind is SUPER healthy).

6) Sprinkles are known to make things extra beautiful when used correctly. They can also be used to make a royal mess if you are not careful.

7) It is always easier AND less time consuming to clean up the mess, especially when frosting is involved, SOONER rather than later. When frosting dries, it takes on a "cement like" form. Be warned.

8) Do all the above mentioned when your child (if you have 1 +) is asleep. Trust me, it's better this way.

So, that is it. Who knew you could learn so much from one project. !!! In hind sight, I would have chosen Aaron's new favorite, Rainbow Chip mix (from the box, of course), instead of venturing out with the Red Velvet. I was trying to be festive, but in the end, taste is always king in my book. As my mom told me AFTER it was all over, "Yeah, I would agree with you that red velvet cake seems a little weird to me… kind of dry and maybe a hint of chocolate taste, but not any real taste-- that I love-- at least." There you go. Lessons learned. They were all eaten. I didn't have to bring any home. In the end, all's well.

And, I realized why I like to bake so much. Baking and making food pretty is really like a functional art form. It gives you an excuse to make something beautiful. I guess that is why I like it so much. And, why I think in another life I could maybe be a pastry chef?

Nah, it's too depressing to spend so much time on things only to be eaten in the end. With a painting, it can be enjoyed for MUCH longer. So, I think I will stick to paper, but enjoy an occasional stint in the kitchen. Occasional.

Happy Holiday Baking.
from my burnt oven to yours.

p.s. everything i ever learned about decorating cupcakes, i learned from my kid sister, becca-face. by and by, I get to see her THIS WEEK!! she is coming home from Israel, and I couldn't be happier!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

started a new blog.

Yes, that is right. Because it is "just that easy" (to be said while snapping), to create a new blog, we did just that.

Back in college, I had the idea to do a piece of artwork every day for three months. It would be a journal for me, of sorts. I would draw and paint pictures and then write things that I was feeling---I was thrilled about the idea and started right away. I did great for the first two weeks, and then I had a review with my class.

I was so excited about this idea. I thought it would be a wonderful "final show" idea. I could frame all the images and display them in a "Barry McGee" crazy style. I was confident my professor and my class would love the idea. Well, the students did, but my professor did not. I was shocked.

His reasoning was that it wouldn't be REAL. He asked me what the purpose of my "so called journal" would be---and I said to express what I was feeling day to day and to record it (or something along those lines). He said, "Yes, exactly. But that's not what you'd be doing. If you know you are going to be displaying it at the end of three months, you will do it differently. If you are writing for an audience, then you won't be entirely honest. You will hold back, and it won't be REAL or TRUE." ---of course, I wasn't recording his words verbatim, but that was his drift.

So, don't get me wrong. I am a HUGE fan of the public blog world. Perhaps one of the biggest fans out there. But, because there is "an audience" of sorts out there, Aaron and I decided to start a new blog where we can write WHATEVER and WHENEVER we want.

With this, I'm not saying that I haven't been "REAL" on this blog. I feel as if I have. But, lots of times I want to "RECORD" things that may be a little personal for public cyberspace--as in emotions, frustrations, elations, sweet notes to Matilda, mushy love notes to Aaron, and the like. Let's be honest, sometimes you feel a little invasive reading that on other people's blogs. Am I right, or am I right? Thank you. Yes, I am right.

With that said, I am still going to post on here and I will be as "REAL" (notice a theme here?) as I can and have been.

But, I think you should do it too. But, make sure you still do the stuff we can see too. We all like a little entertainment and escape once in a while. Am I right, or am I right?

(p.s. it's not like I am coming up with this idea. Aren't we supposed to be keeping a journal? Yeah, I think I heard that somewhere... hA!).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

dear printer.

well, the trusty-hand-me-down printer that my parents so graciously bestowed upon me a few years ago is about at it's wits end.

as I was printing out our Christmas cards, we got a JAM. A bad jam. One that made me wonder if-I-could-finish-my-Christmas-cards-Jam. We were so close to chucking the thing out the window (well, I was) and then, I told Aaron, "I didn't work at the BYU copy center for 1.5 years and then at Moon Mippy for 2+ more years (working mostly with printers, mind you) to lose a battle with my own printer! I can fix this! I am the queen of fixing paper jams!"

I really said that. Maybe I didn't use exclamation points while doing so (matilda was asleep in the next room, duh). But, I did say those words.

And, yes, with my renewed vision, I was able to conquer.

Black sooted hands and a few scrapes later (real battle wounds), I won.

However, the printer is looking grim at this point.

Pray for printer.

Must pull through.

too many things to still print ....

(the extra spaces was to add emphasis on the sputtering out motion).

In case you wanted to see last year's card, I'll show it to you.

front of card.

inside the card.

This year's card---well, let's just say, Aaron and I are thinking we are pretty clever!! But, I won't ruin the surprise... yet!

Also, a word to the wise... for all your holiday baking and transporting, please feel free NOT to use the following product:it doesn't CLING as the title implies. Can we say LAME??
Instead, feel free to purchase this product. You can thank me later.
(remember how these images I pulled off the internet have a huge white area around them, making them seem a little more important than they really are. Sorry. That's what happens sometimes.)

okay, that's all for now.
happy holidays. stay cool over the summer. i mean, the holiday break.

or my favorite was always, "See ya next year!" as I headed out the school doors. I was always pretty clever like that.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

crowns. show and tell.

So, I've been making a bunch of different crowns for the last few months.
Why? Because I wanted to.
They've mostly been for little kiddo birthday presents and the sort.

Matilda and I have been staring at each other all day---and although she is great, she really doesn't care about things like this... yet!
So, whether or not YOU care, it's show and tell time.

Recently, some of my friends and their family members have asked me to create some crowns for their little princesses' Christmas. So, I did. They were pretty fun to make. Here's some pictures of the latest three. I hope Princess Caroline, Emily and Lucy like them!

ok, ok. and who can forget the future QUEEN of ALL? Presenting, again, for yet another appearance, Princess Tillie Mae.

"can I get a what?! what?! hollllah!"
(these were some of the out-takes from that photo shoot---i had to post. sorry.)

this one her face isn't entirely in focus, and yes, that is the camera strap,
but I love her face in this one.
who am I kidding? i love her face in all of them. You do too. I know.

AND! I would certainly be UNGRATEFUL if I didn't mention what a wonderful Thanksgiving we had!!! We went over to the Jessop's again (remember this year? look how tiny Dylan is?!?).
It was laid back and wonderful---just like I like it. Of course, tons of food was to be had, just like it should be. We loved it and love that we have such great friends who have become our family while we enjoy our time in Tejano-ville. Here are a few pictures Aaron snapped. Too bad we didn't get very many, or a big group shot---but these are the few we have!

Dylan (who was a baby in the link two years ago! and such a DOLL with these little babies!), Easton (about 5ish months, right? melis?) and tillie mae (7 months). Easton and Matilda look so similar! It is crazy!

some of the delicious food! And there was more too!! WOW!

awesome shot of our family. hA! are we full or what?!

and the happy baby!

man, I wish we had other pictures, but alas, this is it. We do, however, have a 5 minute video clip that includes most of the fun guests---so we'll have THAT memory forever. :)

HaPpY ThAnKsGiVinG and now MeRrY ChRisTmaS!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

old timers.

great wall of china, circa 2005

well, as they say, "it's the most wonderful time of the year"--- and I totally subscribe to that.

black friday wasn't too BLACK in tejas, rather a grey color. Literally. It was nice to do some Christmas shopping for myself in "non-south-texas" h-O-t weather. Yes, Aaron and I purchased some goods to give each other (a joint combined effort, really), and we are glad.
Merry Christmas to US!

New WIRELESS speakers were on the agenda. Can we say "sub-woofin'-awesome"? Yes, please. And, yes, we'll take two. That's right. We loved the one so much, that we ventured BACK to Sears a few hours later, only to purchase ANOTHER one from the SAME cashier. Poor fella. He definitely remembered us from 7 hours previous.

What can I say, we're unforgettable? Or maybe it was the fact that we made him track down his manager to give us the CORRECT and ridiculous sale price from the ad. What? Because of people like us the economy is going down? Hmmm... well, let's grab some speakers before the money is gone. At least we'll be able to dance our way to the slums.

And, boy, we danced. And sang. And danced. That is what happens when you add things like "sub-woofer", "tweeter", and "mid-range" to my vocabulary.


Life is good.

Now we can pump up the jams like our Puerto Rican next door neighbors (whom we love, in all seriousness). Ask me to do an impression of all the songs they play. I know the exact beat to bop---salsa style.

Just one of my many talents.

AND! for your viewing pleasure, I have been archiving all of our photos, just in case my computer decides to crash after I have hit it from my spinning and shake shake dance (remember the new speakers? i GOTTA dance. just GOTTA).

Here are some OLDIES but GOODIES from when we taught english in china.
Keep in mind that we really enjoy sweating. RAD!

i still DIE laughing every time I see this picture. yes, he is a man---and yes, that is a bow.
triple threat awesome. I felt SO sneaky when I took this picture.


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