"If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." - Ronald Reagan

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Provo, UT Girls

My brother sent me this link a little while ago and I laughed so hard I nearly wet myself. Sadly, I knew a few girls like this (and might possibly have been accused of the same behavior, with my stalking the Man and all).


Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Creche

Sorry for the lack in posting. Internet access has been less than sparse lately. I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas and was able to spend time with loved ones. Blessed enough to be with both sides of the family, my cup definitely runneth over.

I love decorating for the holidays. Easter is all about the Peeps and one day I am going to re-enact my favorite scene from Phantom of the Opera using an all Peep cast. Halloween is perfect for spiders but I also love using candy corn. In my younger days, I even painted my nails to match the trio of stripes. Christmas is all about the candy, too. Candy wreath, candy garland, and gingerbread everything else. But my favorite decorations are the nativities I've collected over the years. Too much focus is placed on material things this time of year and I like to remind myself the real reason for the season: celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

This was a "free with purchase gift" a few years ago. I love it because it is one of the few I've seen that features a cow.

A gift from a friend. It looks like the figures don't have faces but I promise they do.

My oldest set was a wedding gift from the Man's grandmother. It has so many pieces and I find myself always rearranging the animals. Well, I say I'm rearranging...really I'm just playing with them.

Maybe I should just play with this one instead. I leave this set on the kids' table and let them play with it however they'd like (it also keeps their hands off my more delicate sets). This was carefully placed by da Boo for my photo.

My favorite decoration is not a nativity, although it does feature Christ.

Wise men still seek him. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! (Or Rather, English Toffee...)

Christmas cards, school programs, class parties, teacher gifts, neighbor gifts, co-worker gifts, church parties, shopping for kids, shopping for the Man, shopping for family, wrapping, wrapping again after I got more ribbon, sending out more Christmas cards to the people I forgot the first time around because I'm an airhead, decorating cakes, decorating the house, getting the lights to stop blinking, chugging eggnog straight from the carton, and just generally preparing for Christmas. I just want to know when I get my Christmas vacation.

In the midst of the holiday madness, it's nice to give away a fun prize.

Random.org helped me pick the winner: Comment #18.

Tim and Angie said...

I want...some jewelry! Can you help me with that?

December 13, 2010 3:13 PM

Yes, Angie, there is a Santa Claus.

What are you looking forward to next week?

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Kind of Presents (A Giveaway!)

When it comes to selecting presents to give me, I am pretty easy to please. Is it covered in chocolate? I will love it! Does it sparkle? Perfect! Is it handmade? Awesome choice! Is it a handmade chocolate that sparkles? We are soul mates.

So following the adage that it is better to give than to receive, I'm giving you a whole bunch of things that I would love to have. (If you keep them or pass them on to other cake-obsessed friends, that's entirely up to you.)

First, I'm starting with my new favorite book:

Autographed by the author, of course. Remember, we're totally BFFs.

What if an awesome cookbook isn't enough? Okay.

I'll give ya a one pound box of Wendy Sue's English Toffee. Warning: Product is highly addictive.

Then I've got some great jewelry from Shookaloot:

A lovely tile pendant necklace and two ceramic rings.

Have a new holiday dress but it could use some sparkle? How about a pair of long, dangly, sparkly red earrings? (Sorry, couldn't find a picture for ya but they're Vera Wang.)

Need something to hold all that fabulous jewelry?

Here's a handmade decorative trinket dish from Pajego Art House.

Now that you've got chocolate, snazzy jewelry, an artsy dish, all you need are some good tunes to set the mood.

I've tucked in a $15 iTunes gift card. Now, I'm not gonna wrap these and I might be shipping it while on the road (so don't be surprised if it's postmarked from someplace weird, like Omaha) but you should get it in time for Christmas.

Leave a comment for each entry (multiple entries = multiple comments):
  • Comment on this post telling me one thing you'd really like for Christmas. One entry.
  • Follow Duck Duck Cow (or tell me you're already following). One entry.
  • Follow The Cake Cow (or tell me you're already following). One entry.
  • Update your Facebook status with a link to this contest (might need to "friend" me on this one). Worth 3 entries.
  • Tweet about this contest with a link. Worth 3 entries.
  • Blog about My Kind of Presents giveaway and link to this post. Worth 5 entries.
Giveaway closes at Midnight on Thursday, Dec. 16. I'll announce the winner either a few minutes after midnight (because I never go to bed early unless I'm dying or out of chocolate) or early Friday. The winner will need to email me their address ASAP or risk not getting the goods until after the holidays (and by then, I might have eaten all the toffee). Good luck!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Two Cool

Baby is very naughty. Despite my constant warnings, rules, and flat-out begging, she went and turned two years old. The kids wanted to do something very special for her birthday...

Remember our roller coaster?

It's been sitting in the basement ever since the Boy got a little too rowdy. Well, the kids haven't forgotten about their favorite indoor toy. They started pestering me about bringing the thing back out this summer. I suggested it might make a great gift for Baby, since we got it when Boo turned two. They readily agreed. I expected them to forget. They didn't. I told them they had to bring the coaster upstairs all by themselves. They did.

Dang it.

Here's the Boy teaching Baby how to push off by herself.

And here's Baby finding other methods of entertaining herself.

I think we might be in trouble.

Happy Birthday, Baby!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

To Card or Not to Card

It's the big Christmas Card debate. Really, I'm just debating with myself so it's not much of an argument...more like some whining and getting distracted by chocolate.

I love getting Christmas cards! Love 'em. Even the ones with the "aren't we so much better than you" family letters. And let's be honest, it's not that hard to better than me - you just have to eat less cake. My favorites are the ones with pictures of families that are growing up far away.

Last year, I didn't send cards at all. None. Not even to my parents. The year before, I got a cute bundle of cuddliness during the holiday season so I sent out Christmas cards in the form of a baby announcement. In the years previous to that, I sent handmade cards to around 50 people. Handmade, people. With all sorts of adorable accents and ribbons. By the time I was done with those I'd spent far too much money and even more time. This year, I have found the solution: Shutterfly Christmas Cards. Custom cards using pictures from the photo shoot this summer and I am good to go!

The problem now is trying to decide which one I like best.

First, I started with Sharing the Love.

I like that I can include a little bit of the family letter without having to wax poetic. And the colors are great, too. The hard part is deciding which text box should go with which picture.

I love the red and I get to showcase my kiddos' little faces. It was really hard to narrow down my choices. There are several similar formats like this one, in different colors and accents.

And then there was Gifted Tag Christmas.

So simple and so elegant. I have to say that I'm leaning toward this one. Certainly makes my job a lot easier.

Might just have to take that same photo shoot and make it into a calendar. I'm already obsessed with talking about myself, now I can look at pictures of me (oh, and the kids...maybe) all year long. And while I'm at it, I can finish off some hard-to-shop people on my list with a photo book or personalized mug. I can be like some of the mega bloggers and give mugs with my logo and picture as the prize in my next giveaway. You'll just have to promise me that you won't drink Pero out of it...that stuff is nasty.

Are you sending Christmas cards?
Which of these three formats do you like the best?

* I was given 50 free holiday cards by Shutterfly for this post. I picked out the cards and the split modifiers.
*Are you a blogger and interested in participating in this promotion? Go here to get more information.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Learning Process

Well, it's over. My seventh year of insanity has ended.

Here are a few things I've learned along the road to writing 50,000 words:
  • My husband's noise-canceling headphones are uber awesome for when I need to focus. I dedicate this win to them. Unfortunately, the Man won't let me wear them during the day.
  • I cannot spell "restaurant" correctly the first time through. (Including just now...even when I was thinking about it.) What did writers do before spell check and whiteout?
  • Planning a Christmas party for 300 people is not fun when I've got a word count to meet. Then again, it's not all that fun at any other time, either. I just hope we don't run out of food. Or that I make children cry. Again.
  • My kids are perfectly fine eating cold cereal for three meals a day. But I have to make sure at least one of those is a high-fiber brand.
  • Usually when writing, my muse comes in the form of an iTunes mix and copious amounts of hot chocolate. This year, my only muse was Gerard Butler in Phantom of the Opera. This is possible the only reason I'm sad to see the month end.
Now that I'm not spending most of my day writing or researching so I can write more, maybe now I can get around to doing the laundry, come up with some meaningful blog posts, and reconnect with my neglected kiddos. Or I could just put on the Man's headphones and have Gerry Butler sing to me until the kids are in college.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gotta Post Something

Have I really disappeared for an entire week?? Geesh. Well, you aren't the only ones who noticed.

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

The upstairs hallway was nearly impassable from all the various piles of clothes. And Boo was getting rather creative with her outfits at school...hey, when I'm wearing pajama pants and t-shirts daily, I don't make a lot of laundry. Active children and husband? Different story.

The writing is progressing. I don't totally hate my characters yet this year. And I haven't been bursting into tears while simultaneously smashing my head into a wall, trying to figure out what to do next. I'm reading blogs instead of doing that...

Any ideas on how to uncover the previously unknown Big Bad Guy? No? I'm so screwed. *sigh*

Friday, November 19, 2010

Don't Quote Me On That

It's late. I can't sleep. So I'm gonna blog. Lucky you.
(I reserve the right to delete this post once I get some rest.)

Sometimes I have to watch what I say around the kids. It's not like I swear like a drunken sailor but it's the phrases, sometimes the seemingly innocent ones that the kids pick up on. Take this evening for example...

I took the kids out because I was feeling a little cabin fever from getting over a cold. Perhaps staying indoors so long had deluded me into thinking that this was a good idea. We were at a local bookstore. Boo found a joke book (See? Total lapse of judgement) and Baby found a flip-book. The Boy couldn't find anything he liked. There wasn't anything Lego. Or Star Wars. Or Lego Star Wars. So I let him get a bag of chocolate covered pretzels instead. As I swiped my credit card, I noticed that half of the pretzels were dipped in white chocolate. Suppressing a shudder (and perhaps a little bile in my throat), I signed the receipt and we were off.

Once the Boy had a couple of his treats, he was all smiles and beneficence. So he offered me one. A white chocolate pretzel. After I stopped foaming at the mouth, I then had to explain several of the words I'd used, such as "abomination" and "blasphemy." Care to place any bets on how quickly those little gems are going to stop popping up in conversation? Maybe they'll get bonus vocabulary points.

While the Boy acquired his passion for chocolate (however impure it might be) from me, he also got my temper. Just a little.

The Boy, like most boys his age, likes to build forts out of couch cushions and sheets. I usually don't mind as long as he abides by a my rules, like don't attempt to take the cushions I am currently seated on and he has to allow all siblings to enter. Which means Baby gets to come in.

Baby is not exactly gentle. Nor is she careful. And she doesn't pays attention to structural support. The fort fell down. A lot. Finally, the Boy let his frustration get to him.

"Baby!" he shouted. "You are gonna be the death of me!"

Hrmm. I wonder where he got that little quote? Why is it that he can't remember what I asked him to do two minutes ago, but he'll remember what I muttered under my breath last month? Maybe I ought to change my strategy. Starting tomorrow, I'll start mumbling when I want him to do something. Hey, asking nicely doesn't get me anywhere. Maybe my passive-aggressive grumblings will be the thing that gets him to clean his room. It's either that or using the Force.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Question for you...

How many Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches can I eat in an evening before it's no longer considered low fat?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Writer's Block Sucks

So I'm slogging through National Novel Writing Month and I've run smack dab into a brick wall. I think I might have bruised my knee. Got nothing for my novel. I hate Week Two.

In the midst of my agony, I have a little something for you. Here's a video I found while goofing off researching:

And just because YouTube is so much more fun than slamming my head repeatedly against the keyboard...

Then there's the classic NaNoWriMo song from a little while back. But I already posted about that one. I think it's my favorite.

And if anyone has any ideas on how to turn a suspicious, arrogant sheriff into the good guy, I'd be interested in hearing it!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Open Letters Because I'm Feeling The Need to Emote

Dear Local Radio Station,

I am a faithful listener and have been for some time. Your station is currently number two on my car's settings, wedged between a slightly more modern station and talk radio, literally between rock and a hard place.

However, I do have a complaint: the Christmas carols that have taken over the airwaves since last week. I am not emotionally ready for the Christmas music. As much as I love hearing Michael McClean's Forgotten Carols and Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas, I'd rather not just yet. I am still mourning the loss of my beloved Halloween decorations (especially that spider by my front door that drops down and completely freaks out visitors...oh, the joys of seeing them duck and scream upon entry to my home). It's just...too soon.

Please forgive my absence. Know that I will return once we're done with the turkey and I'm in need of spiritual support to face the mall crowds when shopping.

Yours...but not until December,
Jessica G.


Oh, how I love you! You are the reason I look forward to autumn every year. (Well, you and Halloween.) There's nothing more thrilling than watching my word count climb and my characters come to life. It's fun creating new ways to torture and break the hearts of the otherwise innocent figments of my imagination. I've immersed myself in your literary madness for the past six years and have jumped in with keyboard blazing again this year.

But it's Week Two, my precious NaNoWriMo. And Week Two is when the plot holes start to gape, characters fall flat, and I end up feeling like a talentless hack whose time is better spent hiding in my closet, chewing on my hair, then attempting to write a novel.

And? The grocery story is out of Diet Pepsi with Vanilla. How am I supposed to tap into my muse without the proper caffeinated libations? If it weren't for all the leftover Halloween candy, I'd be ready to toss my laptop in the kids' bedroom, where it would be assimilated by the mass of toys, clothes, and lost socks until we start spring cleaning.

Yours but please remind me the difference between "effect" and "affect" before I go mad,
Jessica G.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Silly Obsession

Have you seen Silly Bandz? They're rubber bands in various shapes and colors that the kids are collecting. They come in theme packages and usually include two of each shape, making it easier to trade with friends and get a great collection going. Here are a couple samples from Boo's collection:

Unicorn (fantasy theme), angel (fantasy), cupcake (baking), weiner dog (dogs), and perfume bottle (beauty). I see them everywhere I go now. Boo loves them. In fact, she may love them a little too much...

And she just got even more for her birthday. Oh boy. It's a good thing she's not allergic to rubber!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Happiness Comes in a Box

In a lapse of better judgement, I signed up for three swaps during the month of October, including the one that I hosted. The post office staff got to know Baby pretty well during my many visits. But the upside of that was getting three packages in the mail!

First, Mind Games hosted a Halloween swap for kids. Boo and Boy had a great time planning what we would include for our partners at Family of the Vine. And Uno, Dos, and Tres certainly didn't disappoint us!

Amazing! Most items came in threes, so the kids each got one.
  • Halloween Cut-Outs
  • Pumpkin Carving kits
  • Pumpkin bags
  • Halloween tablecloth
  • Frankenstein's Monster bucket
  • Mini cookie cutters (you know how I love those tiny cutters!)
  • Green Halloween cups
  • Ceramic pumpkins
  • Spider notepad
  • Harvest-themed foam craft supplies
  • Halloween napkins
  • Witch's Brew dishtowel
  • Noisemakers in pumkin and bats shapes (umm...had to hide those after the first day, sorry!)
  • Halloween cupcake liners (woot!)
  • An assortment of plastic bugs, spiders, and skeletons
The kids had a definite favorite: homemade Halloween playdoh.

These are their creations: spooky Halloween rides for the skeletons to enjoy. Thank you, mamagames, for hosting a fun swap. And thanks to Vallimasoos for being such a great swap partner!

Next up, ATLYankeeBelle hosted a Halloween swap and I was partnered with the fabulous Kate from Southern Belle Simple.

First, I have to explain. I took a picture of all the goodies when they first arrived but, while preparing for the kids' costume parade and freeing up space on my memory card, I accidentally deleted it. When I realized my mistake, I rounded up everything I could get my hands on and took another picture. I know I am missing the bag of PB Twix bars (because I ate 'em). There seems to be other items that I can't remember...but I will say this was a cool package and a really fun swap!
  • Candy corn tealight
  • Big bag o' goodies
  • Pumpkin dip bowl with spreader spoon and Italian dip mix
  • Halloween cookie cutters
  • Halloween-themed erasers
  • Gel pens (also not pictured because I was already using them)
To see what I sent Kate, visit her here. Thanks, AtlYankeeBelle, for putting it together and Kate, for being a cool partner (and sharing our dorkiness).

This got me thinking about my next swap. I had a great time getting the kids involved with the Halloween package so I thought I might do a kid-themed swap, where your kids not only have a say in what goes in the box but are also the end recipients. What do you think?

Would you participate in a kid-themed* swap?

* I initially wrote "kid swap" but that has completely different connotations and I ain't never giving Baby up. The other two, however, are open for discussion.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dress Up Time!

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I have almost as many Halloween decorations as I do Christmas decorations. And I always dress up, in theme with my kids, if possible. This year, we planned on going on the cast from The Wizard of Oz. Boo was on-board, as long as I got her a stuffed Toto dog (although there was much discussion about the color of her shoes, since she's read the actual book). Baby would go as a flying monkey (mainly because I thought it was hilarious). The Man would once again resume his role as a stick in the mud. That left the Boy to choose any male character he wanted. But I couldn't talk him into anything. I even showed him the movie, pointing out how the Tin Man looks like robot.

Me: Wouldn't that be cool? Going as the Tin Man and dressing like a robot?
Boy: He acts funny.
Me: Oh.

Okay, so maybe I never realized how effeminate the Tin Man is in the original production. Undaunted, I hauled the kids to the costume store, sure that trying on an actual costume would win him over. They had *nothing* for boys. There were plenty of Dorothys for girls, and her older, less morale sister for adults. So I did what any realistic person would do in that situation and totally caved.

They're still in theme, though. I didn't give in completely. And I never did get a picture of me in costume. Since we were all being heroes (or sticks in the mud), I went as the ToothFairy and Baby is my fairy-in-training. I wore flannel pajamas with matching wings, a glittery tiara, wand, and bag with a big tooth on it. If you're my friend on Facebook, you might catch a glimpse of me in some of the ward party pictures, but I was too busy to stand still for too long.

Unfortunately, it was cold and rainy when we went trick or treating. Baby went home with the Man to hand out candy. Boo made it about eight houses and then headed home. Boy would have stayed out all night but I was cold so we headed home. He didn't get very much candy from the neighbors but we didn't get nearly as many trick-or-treaters, either, so we had plenty leftover.

Arriving back home shivering and wet but before bedtime, the kids jumped into their jammies and cuddled up for a movie.

Awww...makes me want to give them more chocolate.

What did you and your family dress up as for Halloween?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

True Colors Swap Results (Updated with Pictures)

Hey, sorry about my absence. My computer that has access to my camera hasn't been connecting to the internet all week, so no pictures going up. However, I did get my fabulous package from kibbygirl for the True Colors Swap! She's from Canada so I was expecting bacon, a Mountie hat, and maybe a goose or a hockey puck. Instead, I got a box of awesomeness. But I can't post a picture yet so you'll just have to use your imaginations until my computer genius of a husband finishes watching college football and figures out what went wrong with my hookup.

Can you tell my favorite color?

There was so much in this box, I hope I don't forget anything:
  • Dishtowel with flower details
  • Martha Grimes book about the publishing industry (goes with the whole "wannabe writer" thing as well as my bookworm-ness.)
  • Polka dot picture frame
  • Glass perfume bottle (Love this!)
  • Handmade journal (I'm about three pages away from needing a new one so perfect timing.)
  • Small bag (Very cute!)
  • Coasters (Almost too pretty to use...now I have to teach my kids what "coasters" are.)
  • Box of Japanese art-inspired notecards (Just lovely!)
  • 3 decorative flowers (Thinking I'm gonna attach these to a headband.)
  • Pretzel M&Ms (Blue and chocolate? She read my mind.)
  • Fuzzy socks (With the chilly weather setting, these are great for those nights when the Man isn't around to warm my feet on his legs.)
  • Napkins (I guess we'll have to stop using paper towels...we're getting fancy around here!)
  • Crafted box full of handmade tags (Gorgeous! She has all different styles and occasions, all with blue. This girl is so talented!)
But here's my favorite thing:

It's tiny; only about a inch. Found it in the bottom of the box after I took the picture of everything else. I need to find a good place for this so I can see it daily. It makes me smile.

Let's share the goodness! If you participated in my swap, please use the Mr Linky below to connect us to your post about the package (please link directly to that post and not your main page). It's fun to see what everyone else received as well as getting ideas for the next time around.

I also have pictures from two Halloween swaps I did (because I am a crazy person) to show you! Betcha can't wait, eh?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chocolate-Covered Winner!

Okay, time to pick a winner for the scrumptious "Chocolate Never Faileth" by the equally as tempting, Annette Lyon.

As usual, Random.org helped me out.

And the winner is...

Comment #29: Cheryl!
Cheryl said...

I follow you on Cake Cow already

October 19, 2010 10:40 AM

Congrats, my friend!

Giveaways are fun. I need to do another one soon...any suggestions on what you'd want to win? Jewelry is always fun. Maybe another cookbook? Gift certificate to The Chocolate? What do you think?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Boo Hoo

Sometimes, I take things a little too personally. A random comment (or lack of comment) can leave me deflated for days. Perhaps the person totally did not mean it that way; it's just my low self-esteem filling in the blanks. I'll mope around, eat a little too much chocolate, and just generally feel sorry for myself and the wretch that I've become, while the person - or as I like to refer to them, the super big meanie dummy head - had no clue that anything is other than as it should be.


Our family moved to this lovely community seven years ago. The following autumn, I started a fun little game. You might have heard of it. It's call a Boo. Or a Halloween Phantom. I'd print up a cutesy poem explaining that they had just been "boo'd" and now it was their turn to find another family to give anonymous treats to, thereby spreading the fun and calories around. The first year, I really made an effort. I got a trick-or-treating bucket, filled it with candy, homemade cookies, and a couple decorations. I cackled with glee every time I passed that house and saw the little ghost in the window, indicating that the house had already been boo'd. More of those little ghosts began to haunt the neighborhood! It was really cool to see my game spread. However, I couldn't help but notice, when skeletons were reburied in storage and the sugar buzz wore off, we didn't get a ghost.

The next year, I sent around two buckets, slightly toned down, as it might be intimidating to continue my awesomeness. Our neighborhood was growing and there were more people to share in my game. Same poem, same picture. Same results. Nobody boo'd us.

I carried on the tradition for two more years, always secretly hoping that every after-dark ring of the door bell would bring a ghost bearing a plate of goodies. It gets hard. The rejection starts to get personal when it happens so many years in a row. I wondered why we were never picked (was I too short? maybe too awesome? were we really part of some form of the Truman Show and my little game wasn't figured into the script and no one was allowed to contact us?). So I stopped. The past two years, I didn't try. I saw ghosts going up in windows so I knew someone else had picked up the torch, but they didn't pick us.

Tuesday night, it came: an almost-bedtime ring of the doorbell. A tinfoil covered plate of love sitting on our steps, with instructions on how to continue the game. I tried not to cry. It was finally my turn, like being asked to sit with the cool kids at lunch. Such a small thing, really. Nothing that would ruffle anyone else's feathers but to me...that ghost in my window is like a seal of approval that I've applied for year after year and was denied. But not this year.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cookbook Giveaway!

Since I haven't been posting, I figured it was going to take some serious bribery to get you back here to my blog. So here it is:

The scrumptious cookbook from Annette Lyon! "Chocolate Never Faileth." I've had my copy for a week now and can't stop drooling over it...

Sure, it's a chocolate cookbook - which is completely awesome - but for someone not as chocolate obsessed as myself, what's so great about it? Well, let me tell ya!
  • Lots of chocolate quotes and anecdotes! Every recipe has one. Makes my chocolate quote calendar unnecessary.
  • Annette doesn't just give you the "what" for a recipe but also the "why." This is one of the reason why I love Alton Brown's Good Eats, because it explains the reasons behind doing things a certain way, not just bossing me around and leaving me uninformed.
  • There are the classic recipes (like a basic chocolate cake - several, actually) but some new twists on old favorites (I'm dying to try to chocolate pavlova).
  • Not only are you getting over 125 recipes to recreate heaven on earth, but the one I'm giving away is signed by the author. 'Cuz we're, like, totally tight and stuff. Seriously, we are! I've even been to her house (of course, I bribed my way in the door with cupcakes...).
Are you chomping at the bit now, dying to win this cookbook? Well, you should be! Here's how to enter:
  1. Leave me a comment here saying something about chocolate. Anything. Except that you hate the stuff because then I'll have to block your access to my blog and blot your name out of the records.
  2. Visit Annette's blog and tell her I sent you (I will verify this because I'm all about promoting me).
  3. Follow me (or let me know that you already do).
  4. Follow The Cake Cow.
  5. Share this giveaway on Facebook (helps if you're also my friend so I can verify this).
  6. Blog about my giveaway with a link here.
Now, you must leave an additional comment for EACH entry. Doesn't count as multiples when ya lump 'em all together. I will leave it to Random.org to pick the winner next Sunday at...let's say 8 pm MDT. Sound good? Okay, then, leave me some comments, people!

AND IF YOU'RE PARTICIPATING IN MY TRUE COLORS SWAP...How is everything going? Are you finding some good items to send to your partner? Need any suggestions or tips? Shoot me an email. Deadline is this weekend!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Breaking News

I've been hosting my very own pity party for the past week so haven't been posting...or reading blogs...or cleaning my house...

But this week is looking better so I gotta get back in the saddle.

First up, the package from my Guilty Pleasures Swap partner, Amy from WannaBeAmy.

OOooo...getting this box really made my day! How can you not get addicted to swaps? (If you want to see what I sent her, go here.) Lookit!
Semi-Homemade Magazine - I admit that I've watched her show and she's got some great ideas.
Movie - I haven't seen this one since college!
Candy Pumpkins - These have been the main source of bribery for the kids around here.
Bracelet - Really cute for Halloween! I love Halloween.
Baseball Cards - Sadly, I've never heard of most of the athletes on these cards but Baby sure loves to play with them.
Ghiradelli - Amy and I are going to be BFFs. And yes, I had to reclose the bag so I could take this picture. Yummy!
Hot Chocolate - Amy prefers coffee but since I don't drink it, she sent me the next best thing.
Dish Towels - Love these! They're already hanging on the oven.

And remember this cutie?

Well, the Co-ed got a new accessory...
The Co-ed is getting married!
We are so excited for her! Her fiance has been enduring Sunday dinners with us for a while. He's a good guy and the Boy's best friend. And I have to keep reminding myself that I DO NOT make wedding cakes so I don't offer to make her's. I would love to make her cake, though.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Find the Boy

The Boy is a good kid, but can be a little on the sensitive side. Luckily for him, he knows when a situation might get quickly out of hand and tries to prepare for it (like attempting to smuggle the mee mee into church or getting a second package of fruit snacks so he doesn't have to share with his little sister). When it was time to watch a new movie, the Boy got everything ready, just in case things got scary: mee mee, his stuffed dog, and a nice safe place to peek out from.

The movie was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Boo is reading the books and as a reward when she finishes one, she gets to watch the movie version. So far? She's not impressed with what the script writers did to the books. Aren't we all, though? (I'm tempted to have them watch The Never-ending Story or Dark Crystal, 'cuz I'm mean.)

Also, I've extended the sign-up date on the True Colors swap until Friday, October 8th. We're currently at an odd number so hopefully we can even things out a bit. Encourage your friends to sign up!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What's a Birthday without a CAKE?

On any given day, I love decorating cakes. Love it. But on my birthday...well...I'd rather have someone else put forth all that time and effort for me.

Aunt Denise baked the cake and then (bravely) let all three kids decorate it. You can almost tell which sections match which child. There's a horde of chocolate chips (pirates, I'm told) swimming in sprinkles. That has to be the work of the Boy. Then the careful writing (it's harder to write on a cake than it looks) and flowers. Obviously da Boo's contribution. Those smudges of color amongst the fingerprint up in the corner could not have been made by anyone else except Baby.

And it all tastes really good with rocky road ice cream.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

True Colors Swap

Because it's my Birthday Week and I'm allowed to do whatever I want for the next seven days, I'm hosting a swap!

For those of you who don't know or have never participated in one, a swap is where a host blog (me) assigns participants (you) to a partner, who will then exchange a package with you that is prepared with the swap theme in mind. I'll give you all the rules here in a bit.

The theme I chose is True Colors. Basically because I love 80s music. Each participant will send me a little information about themselves, the most important of which will be their favorite color. Your partner will put a package together containing items in this color. Now, you don't have to have the every item completely monochromatic. For instance, if my partner loves lavender, I could obviously send lavender-scented items but also a color of nail polish, a pair of silver-tone earrings with lavender beads, and maybe some chocolate that has a lavender-colored label. Look at your partner's blog for ideas. Do they have a dog? Send a pet toy with that color. Does your partner love classic literature? Find her a book that has cover art containing that shade. See? Easy enough.

Now, for the rules. I've participated in several of these and have learned what works and what doesn't. One thing I definitely need is a set of rules outlining the whole shebang. If you're not going to follow the rules, then please don't sign up. Good? Good.

1. You must have a blog that is at least six months old, on which you have posted at least once a month. If your blog is private, you must be willing to invite your swap partner to view it.
2. Email me (duckduckcow at gmail dot com) with your name, address, blog address, a few details about yourself (number of kids, hobbies, etc.), any allergies or preferences (if you won't use anything cucumber melon-scented, here is your chance to say so), and your favorite color.
3. Please blog about this swap! The more participants we have, the more fun it will be for everyone.
4. I will send emails and I will expect a response. You'll get a) confirmation email with your swap number, b) your partner's information, and c) a reminder email just before the shipping date. If I do not get a reply, then you might be dropped from the exchange. Keep that in mind.
5. You must be willing to put together a package that is worth $20, not including shipping. I would like at least one handmade item, please. Share your talents! And remember value...while some people see "vintage," others see "junk pile."
6. You must mail your package on Friday, October 22 or Saturday, October 23. No later than that! Please do not sign up if you will be on vacation or too busy. It's not fair to your partner.

Go send me that email! I will close the swap on, Friday, October 8. You will receive your partner assignments soon after. (And if you don't hear from me, please contact me again...you know how I can be an airhead sometimes...) Also, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me!

And LOOK! I even got a Mister Linky so be sure to add your name with a link to your post about the swap. It makes it a lot easier to find your partner, too.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Having a Bad Day

See? I'm not the only that has a bad day every now and then...

That's Baby sitting in the Time Out corner. And for the record, I did not send my 21-month-old to Time Out. She put herself there. She was frustrated and ran crying to the corner. I'm guessing she has watched her siblings go through the same thing on multiple occasions: whenever they're throwing a fit, they go to Time Out. Even Mommy has a Time Out sometimes...although mine usually involve locking myself in my room and eating chocolate.

And now I have Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" stuck in my head. I tried to embed the video here but YouTube won't let me use the real one.
Big meanies.
Maybe they need a Time Out.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Adventures in Cooking..and Explosions

My buddy, Just SO, posted about a pan exploding in her oven. It brought back some pretty vivid memories (I like to dwell on the past a lot, too).

When I was a blushing bride, I decided I would cook most of our meals. Hey, I was pretty handy with a spatula. The Man wasn't a picky eater. No worries, right? I had a small notebook (still have it!) that I carefully copied down my favorite recipes from my mom's collection. It was a treasure trove of goodness and down-home cookin'. The Man would have the Best. Wife. Ever. He was so lucky and he didn't even know it yet.

Then came my first attempt to make my new husband actual food. It was the day after the wedding -- a Sunday -- and we were pulling ourselves away from...uh...gazing deeply into each other's eyes long enough to realize we were hungry. I scurried to the kitchen and pulled out a box of Pasta-Roni. None of that mac n' cheese for my man! I was gonna make pasta in a slightly different shape with a slightly different color of cheese-like product. So gourmet.

That was when I realized that amongst the six wall clocks, four sets of towels, myriad gift certificates, and a planter shaped like a house that we had received as wedding gifts, no one had given us a pot. I had no way to boil water.

I think we ended up eating leftovers from the reception.

From the heirloom recipes, the Man really liked my mom's chicken and rice dish. Who could blame him? It was tender chicken simmered in cream of mushroom soup, laying on a bed of rice, and soaking in love. So one evening, I scurried to the kitchen yet again (see, back then, I was the size of a mouse so I did plenty of scurrying and scampering) and put together a batch. I had it timed perfectly to be finished mere moments after he came home from his last class. I'd made it plenty of times before and thought nothing of popping it in the oven and leaving the room. I then proceeded to practice writing my new name dozens of times study hard for my classes while I waited. So I wasn't at all prepared for the very loud popping noise and subsequent wet slopping sounds that soon emanated from the kitchen.

The pan had exploded.

Along with the "broken windshield"-like glass crumbs, my oven was now coated in creamed mushrooms, crunchy rice, and half-baked chicken. The love was gone.

When the Man arrived home, I was kneeling on the kitchen floor, tearfully scraping the remnants of our dinner and cookware out of the oven. After he stifled the laughter, the Man picked me up off the floor and declared "Let's eat out."

And I fell in love with him all over again.

Of course, that love dies just a little bit whenever he tells friends and near strangers this story as a fine example of my cooking abilities when we first married. But I don't make him Pasta-Roni anymore. We're strictly a mac n' cheese family.

What was your worst cooking disaster?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Battle of the Sexes' Shirts

Since my birthday is fast approaching, I've been sending links to the Man, guiding him in his gift selection ('cuz I'm nothing if not helpful when it comes to presents). The other day, I sent him the link for this shirt:

It's the molecule structure of Theobromine, the chemical in chocolate that makes you feel good. I thought it fitting, given my penchant for a nicely-crafted piece of chocolate.

He countered with this one:

To which I calmly respond:

And if he doesn't watch it, he'll be wearing this:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bake Dancing

Once again, I'm gonna talk about swaps. Sorry, but an addict feels the need to dwell on their obsession at all times. Lucky for me, I have a blog.

I joined the Moveable Feast Swap, where the package was to be food-themed. Oh, this was going to be fun! My partner was A.J. from iKnit.iPurl. She amazingly crafty and posts beautiful embroidery along with her knitted projects. I got to know A.J. a little bit through email and thoroughly loved getting her package together. So when my package arrived in the mail, I couldn't wait to rip it open.

Where to begin...
Pumpkin Spice Bread Mix - Looks soooo good!
Harvest Cupcake Liners - To add to my abundant collection of cupcake liners. I like cupcakes.
Candy Melts - Always handy when designing cakes.
Heart Cupcake Liners - Did she see my Valentine's Day madness? These are perfect!
Handmade Blue Hot Pads - Already in use! Gorgeous!
Vanilla Beans - Ooooo...I feel a creme brulee coming on!
Cupcake Decor - Boo swiped this as soon as I took it out of the box. Stinker.
cupcakes! Cookbook - And I already made a recipe (and wiped drool from the pages). The picture turned out weird but trust me when I say the caramel-covered tea cakes are addictive.

Thank you, thank you, A.J.!

And in honor of my birthday - because everyone should be celebrating it - I will be hosting my first swap. Now tell me how excited you are! (Oh come on...you can fake enthusiasm pretty easy in a 2-D comment.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

And He Says He Doesn't Read My Blog

The day after my cheery, upbeat and enthusiatic post, my husband brought home these:

He might be reading when my blog when he claims to be playing Facebook games. I think he likes me. Maybe he will sit next to me during story-time...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hey, You're Just Too Funky For Me

I'm in a funk.

I'm not reading much, not really writing (I'm sure you've noticed the derth in posts and comments), certainly not editing.

I don't wear make-up every day or matching clothes and some days, I skip the shower.

I don't leave my house very often, don't chat with friends, and haven't had a Girls' Night Out since my mom was here.

And? I'm not even baking all that much. A newly-diagnosed diabetic gave me a bunch of sugar substitutes and asked me to try them out in some of my recipes (so I could tell her which ones were worth using) and I resisted. I waited a whole week before opening a bag.

Enough is enough! It's no fun being like this (and my house is a mess, too).

What do you do when you're just not feeling like yourself?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Too Cool For Me

Why is it that whenever I see a guy riding a motorcycle that looks like this:

I always think of this:

Anyone else see it that way?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

At It Again

Is there a rehab for swaps?


Because I swear I am addicted...I just mailed off one yesterday and here I am, signing back up for another. Mamarazzi hosts the best swaps! This one should be lots of fun. Making a package of my favorite guilty pleasures...but would my partner really want hot chocolate mix, bubble bath, and a mix tape of old 80s music? Who wouldn't, right?

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

*Thanks for everyone who weighed in on the party conundrum. I appreciate the feedback. At this point, I've decided to have the party the week before Halloween. The deciding factor? I have the hardest time deciding what to have the kids do at parties. This way, I can have them decorating their own trick-or-treating bag. It can double as their take-home-the-loot bag. One less stress for me! And if you see any other cool Halloween party ideas, send them my way!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Party Pooper

Hey, I've got a dilemma and am having a heck of a time making a decision. Care to weigh in on it?

Da Boo's birthday is fast approaching. She decides a year in advance what the theme will be and then insists on discussing ideas for her party on a weekly basis. And believe me, I wish that last statement was an exaggeration. It is not. This year, since her birthday is so very close to October 31st, she decided she wanted a Halloween party. Cool. I love Halloween.

Now, here's the problem. Halloween is on a Sunday this year. We don't, as a family rule, have friend parties on Sundays. Breaking that rule just this once is not possible. Ain't gonna happen (we Mormons are hard-headed like that). So that's Factor #1.

Factor #2 is the fact that I am Goddess of the Activities for my church (or Ward Activities Chair, for those of you in on the lingo). I have to plan, prepare, and pull-off four activities per year with an average attendance of 250 people. Not an easy task. The Fall event -- already scheduled and half-planned with other committees contributing -- is set for the Friday before Halloween. Since I will already be going half crazy from the ward event, I cannot, for the love of sanity, mix Boo's party into the same weekend. That takes out a Friday or Saturday party. (And let's be honest, Thursday's gone, too.)

So maybe I just have it earlier; like the weekend before or maybe sooner that week. However, I, like many of my mom friends, usually do not have the kids' costumes completely finished this far in advance. Do I have it early and risk some kids not coming because they don't have an outfit yet? There's Factor #3.

Boo's actual birthday is just a day or two after Halloween. So here's the dilemma you've all been waiting for: I've considered holding the party on her actual birthday. Would this be totally lame? Would the costumes already be stashed away? Too much of a candy overload? Put yourself in the parent-role of a child invited to a Halloween costume party after Halloween and tell me what you would think.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Obligatory First Day of School Posting and Evidence of How Cruel I Have Become

Wanna see da Boo on the first day of school? Of course, you do! Why else would you be here? My contest is closed and it's not like I post much of interest lately...

Anyway, here she is:

We had a bit of a clothing emergency the night before school started. See, I recently discovered Crazy 8's clothes and I really love them. I had an outfit all picked out for that big first impression, but when I went to lay it out for her...the skirt looked ginormous. She tried it on and it slid down her hips. Not exactly the look I was going for. Luckily for us, we were also out of bread and milk and baby wipes so a trip to the store was already essential. I joined the ranks of the forlorn, hunting for correct sizes amongst the picked-over racks in Target (since I'd much rather give them my money than Wally World). And since the mall was already closed. I found this ensemble still on sale. Crisis averted!

The Boy starts kindergarten this year but not until next week. He's looking forward to riding the bus but not actually going to school. I think it's because he's going to miss me. And you can't really tell from this picture but his shirt has a zombie on it, demanding "BRAAAAAINS!" Apparently I am not the only one anticipating an undead apocalypse. We just vary in how excited we are at that prospect.

One of the things I like about my community are the seasonal traditions we developed over the years. For instance, on the first day of school, parents and kiddos gather at the bus stop, bringing breakfast with them. We've turned it into a fun little party; a nice way to send the kids off to school, where we can give high-fives to other moms or maybe even hand over the tissues to the occasional teary-eyed ones, all while we munch on donuts and silently pray that our daughter doesn't dump that whole cup of chocolate milk down her shirt because boy howdy, would we be in a fix. Or at least, most people bring donuts....Remember how I am trying to trim down my fluffiness? And have I mentioned how we're getting much better at recycling? So I stroll up to the party carrying this:

Mmmm...totally drool-worthy. Oh, but wait! I haven't opened it yet! Inside? Are these:

Frozen grapes. Like popsicles without the sticks and in wrappers that you eat! Who wouldn't love 'em? Well, everyone who was expecting cream puffs, apparently. I think they're the perfect snack to eat just before the kids get home from school, you know, so you have the energy to finally get out of bed and get something done, other than determining if those teens shuffling down the street might be looking to increase their grades by eating your brains.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Sweet Smell of School Bus Exhaust

It's that lovely time of year when the bugs are dying off, the weather is cooling in the evening, and the sun sets a little sooner. AND SCHOOL STARTS!

Oh, come on! You can't tell me you're not celebrating, too! And even if you don't have kids in school, those buy-one-get-one-1/2-off shoe sales are pretty awesome.

When da Boo started kindergarten, I got a little teary-eyed. My bay-bee! Now, she's a big, bad second-grader ready to reclaim her place as the best reader in the class (she's finishing up the first Harry Potter and only had to ask me about a handful of words; and those were things that are found mostly in England).

This time, it's the Boy's turn to climb the big yellow bus and start school. He's done well in preschool so I'm not worried about his skills. There are a few friends in his class so I'm not worried about him, socially. Kindergartners only go half the day so no worries about his uber picky eating habits. I got him really cool clothes and he can match his own shoes to what he's wearing so he'll be fine there.

So what am I worried about? No, really. I'm asking.

Nearly every night for the past two weeks, I've woken up at 4:40-ish. When I go back to sleep, I wake up again approximately every 20 minutes after having a nightmare - a vast majority of them feature my only son. The school bus eats him. He turns into a lizard-type creature and is kicked out of school but no one calls to tell me. The beloved principle is replaced by an android who absorbs small boys. And those are just the ones that have stuck with me...no telling how many others I've forgotten.

Maybe I'm not as prepared as I thought I was. Apparently, internally, I am a mess! Are there any words of wisdom from veteran moms or other anxiety-ridden folk? What am I so afraid of? I don't think it's androids...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

You Guys Know Me So Well

Remember my little giveaway? Where I asked you to pick which item you though I got: the cookie press, rose-shaped pan, or the set of circle cutters.

Finals Statistics
Cookie Press: 3
Bundt Pan: 4
Circle Cutters: 12

I guess it wasn't as tricky a decision as it seemed at the time. Yes, I got the circle cutters! They've already arrived (seriously fast shipping!) and I've got big plans for them. Check my cake blog after the weekend for polka dot cupcakes.

I asked Random.org to find me a winner. The first pick was someone who thought I got the bundt pan so I asked again and behold! Kristie won! Congrats, my friend!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fight the Fat*

Yeah, so...I'm fat.

I've come to grips with it. And really, it isn't all that terrible. I don't get too cold in the winter because of all the added insulation. People usually avoid sitting right next to me on airplanes so I get extra elbow room. And our waiter never forgets to bring around the dessert tray. Being fat ain't all that bad.

But then again, I own a mirror.

I'm trying to be better. I have since dropped my addiction to Nutty Bars and switched to diet sodas (and usually only one a day). Even the Wii Fit and I are on speaking terms again. Progress with diet alone is s-l-o-w...so I gave in and started exercising.

I hate exercising.

I especially hate it when the kids are around and want to know why I'm breathing so loud, why I'm all sweaty, and whether or not what I'm doing is any fun.

No. No, it's not fun.

I have a few friends that are runners; even participating regularly in such insane endeavors as marathons. They rave about endorphins and sleek muscles, even about the thrill of the run. So I'd like to ask them: When does running become fun? At what point will I start looking forward to the pounding of pavement?

In my efforts at improved hawtness, I started the Couch-to-5k program. It boasts of taking a couch potato and turning them into a runner fit for a 5k. I would only have to work out three days a week and would be running the races in nine weeks. Easy enough. I even found a 5k that was close enough, supported a cause I believed in, and actually sounded like fun. Sweet.

At Week 3, I fizzled. It was just so hard. And not getting any easier. I dreaded getting on the treadmill. Dreaded it...almost to the point of crying.

So I stopped.

And I gained three pounds.

Now, I've started again. Back to Week 1.

Please tell how I can make it not suck this time around...I really don't want the Wii to yell at me...

* A direct quote from the Wii Fit. It totally hates me.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What I Learned On My Summer Vacation

We've had a busy summer! I can blame my lackluster posting on the events going down amongst the heat and bugs. While soaking in the family time, I managed to actually learn a few things along the way.

Mario Kart on the Wii is really, really fun. Driving a real cart is even better! (Unless, of course, a younger cousin gets in the way...don't worry, he was fine!)

Kansas consists of sunflowers, cornfields, humidity, and bugs. Mostly the bugs.

Grandmas have magical abilities but Great-Grandma is even more beguiling, capable of soothing multiple babies at once.

Most of my cute tops require a shirt underneath (so I'm not scaring young children when I lean over). But layered shirts and high humidity are not friends. In fact, they pretty much hate each other and will make life miserable for anyone who dares to combine them.

Young boys would much rather sleep in a cave consisting of couch cushions and a table than share the pull-out sofa with their sister.

When visiting your cousins, you might discover you failed to pack an essential item: lipgloss. No worries, my Boo. Butter makes an excellent substitute. (And pay no attention to the odd looks you get from the other diners and wait staff...they're just envious that they didn't think of it first!)

(Baby + dumdum sucker)carseat = Impossibly Sticky Mess. I'm just glad she wasn't wearing white.

It's never too early to introduce your offspring to the finer things in life, like expensive cheese, trips to exotic locales, and massage chairs. Baby stayed in this chair for a solid hour, which is quite the feat when she's not asleep.

There you have it! Now you, too, can benefit from my knowledge and save yourself the two-day-one-way trip in a van with three small children. It's been a couple weeks since we've returned and I still haven't recovered...of course, it might help if I actually finished unpacking.

What did you learn this summer?

And if you haven't already done so, enter to win a $25 gift certificate!

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