Monday, December 27, 2010

Profile Silhouette

Here's any easy idea for a gift. I have seen silhouette's everywhere this year, from stationery to Christmas ornaments to family room walls. There are many ETSY sellers who will let you submit a profile photo of your child and turn it into a wonderful keepsake for your walls, your tree, or your keychain. For me, seeing that someone else can make it, gives me a challenge to try and create one on my own rather than paying someone else to do something for me.
{our youngest nephew:2010}

I tried to stick to handcrafted Christmas gifts this year, and I'd say about 85% of our gifts we gave were in fact handmade by either Nick or myself. Not too shabby for a couple who both hold down full-time jobs.

To make a silhouette of your child, take a photograph of your child's facial profile. Have your child stand against a solid background to make your next step ( photoshopping) a bit easier. Next, play with the contrast and lightness/darkness settings on your photo editing software. Make the face as dark as possible. Print out photo once this step is completed. Then, using a sharpie marker in black, color in the profile's lighter spots with sharpie for a uniform "blackness". I then cut out my silhouette with my scrapbooking scissors ( this was a time consuming activity), laid it on my scanner and scanned it back into my computer ( re-scanning made the silhohuette pitch black..which is the look I was going for). I then picked out a light blue colored cardstock, added "2010" below the silhouette and printed onto the cardstock from my printer. Add a cheap frame or go big and mat it.

Voila, instant gift!

Side note: I am hoping to make silhouette ornaments next year just like YHL did of their daughter Clara. I think I just need to adjust my scale size, scan it to my silhouette cutting machine and anything is possible! How neat would it be to have your child's silhouette year after year to watch them grow in a shabby chic way?

Super Hero Capes

Check out the Puking Pastille's blog for the FREE superhero cape tutorial. I made one for each of my nephews and used the first intial of their first name as part of their alter ego logo. The logos are easy to make. Just iron on fusible webbing to fabric, cut out the design ( cut letters out backwards) and iron-on. For the closure, I used a small velcro tab on each cape.
The red cape is approximately 20" long from neck to bottom, and the navy cape was scaled down to approximately 16" long since it was made for a younger child.

2011 Calendar Project

I finished our 2011 calendar today! Here are the proofs! Each page prints individually, and are all 8x10 in size.

Total cost: about $4-5 per calendar.
Photo Paper: 12 sheets x.25 cents per sheet= $3.00
Ink from printer: ??? We just put a new cartridge in..I suppose I will find out how quickly it goes through ink!
Hanging Device: FREE ( I used an alligator clip we had in the office already)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

I {heart} Santa

Look what Santa left under the tree for me!!!

You're probably wondering what this's HOURS of endless crafting. That's what it is..

But really, it's called a Silhouette digital cutter and it hooks up with my computer to provide me with endless possibilities in crafting. This machine can cut out any design ( custom or purchased through the website) and allows for projects such as glass etching, card making, iron on decals, box making ( see my friend Liz's clear ornament box here) and beyond.

I've already been ape-ing with it all morning and am itching for the craft store to open so I can buy some colored cardstock and get my thank you cards finished.

Thank you St. Nick!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The shack

I made a gingerbread surf shack this year, complete with surfboards, flip flops and a towel made of marshmallow fondant thanks to tutorials by my sister, Stephanie at the Sweet creations by stephanie blog.

The curtain

I'm hoping that some day in the future, that Nick and I can re-create this photo with our own kids on Christmas morning.

{NZ, OZ & MZ: circa 1983}
You see, the house we live in is all of 6 houses away from the one he grew up in as a kid. How they fit 5 children and two adults under a roof this size is still a mystery, but none-the-less, Nick is quite familar with our floor plan because our house is exactly the same as his childhood home...ahhhh, tract housing..LOVE it! Apparently, on Christmas morning, Santa put up a big sheet at the end of the hallway, which blocks off the view to the living room...and all the presents.

I love this idea. I love this picture. Christmas morning, jammies, and little wheels turning wondering what Santa delivered the night before..and as a parent, I can't imagine how cool it will be to watch our kids tear through the curtain and rip open their gifts from Santa.

I look forward to that magic. Someday.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holly Jolly Memory game

Here's a little "Holly-Jolly" memory game I made my three-and-a-half year old nephew for a little Christmas fun. He's become such a pro at our color matching mini-memory game (link to previous post here) that I decided to make him one for the holidays and challenge that noggin of his a bit more with matching holiday images & words instead of colors.
A while back I picked up some wooden disks at Michael's and found a pack of stickers at Target that included 2 sheets of Holiday "seals" which, to me, are stickers, right? I suppose "seal" sounds more fancy, but whatever, they work for this project perfectly.
I applied my stickers to the disks, and then modge podged them to seal the sticker on the disk and give them a little more durability.
The travel-box that they are contained in is none other than an Altoids tin, spray painted white.
These little games are so easy and fun to make..even if you are not crafty as so many of my readers claim to be..try it, you just might see how EASY this is..and if you are a parent...this is a great interactive activity to play with your kids!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

DIY-Silver polish

I have a champagne bucket that was given to me a long while ago, from the same cousin that sent us the recent bottle of wine from their vineyard. It's one of those items that rarely gets used, but I'm happy to have in my artillery of entertaining devices. I pulled it out of storage today in hopes of repurposing it as a beautiful pointesettia holder. I planned on putting a piece of floral block in the bottom (for height), and placing a pre-potted pointesttia in the bucket.

Unfortunately, when I pulled it out of it's storage place, I found that it has seen better days.

A quick search for DIY silver polish and I was off to the kitchen pantry to concoct my own polish. I figured it was worth a try, even if it didn't work, at least I tried!

Here's the recipe I used:
  • 1/2 cup baking soda

  • 1/4 cup salt

  • 2 sheets of tin foil
  • sponge
  • water

This is how:

  • Plug sink

    Line sink with foil

  • pour in salt and baking soda

  • fill sink halfway with piping hot water

    Soak silver 10 minutes

  • rub silver in circular motions with sponge

  • rinse

  • dry with soft cloth

Since my item was so large, I had to rotate it and continue to fill my sink with hot water as it cooled. I also made a paste of baking soda and salt and applied it to my sponge for the hard to clean areas.

And voila, a little teeny bit of elbow grease and it's ready for a pretty red pointsettia plant.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Coral Tree on etsy

{photo: Coral Tree}

Just a quick plug today for my sister-in-law Charlee's new etsy shop, called Coral Tree. She makes beautifully coordinated baby items, that are one-of-a-kind and not available anywhere else. They make wonderful shower & homecoming gifts to new parents and parents-to-be!

Please check the Coral Tree shop out and show her some love!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holiday Cards

My sister and I usually get together for a craft weekend in late October ( our husbands usually have business travels or car races around that time of year..which leaves us with an entire weekend to craft and ignore our normal wifely duties). Both my sister and I love being wives, both of us work, but I think that if given the opportunity, we'd make some pretty kick ass stay-at-home housewives. You know, the kind that vacuum and mop every single day, the kind that iron their bed linens and have a fully prepared dinner on the table when the Mr. gets home from work. Our mama raised us right. So don't get me wrong, we love doting on our homes and our husbands, but there is something so grand about a weekend of crafting minus our normal responsibilities.

And this year, we missed the window of opportunity.

So, instead of a weekend of brainstorming and creating my yearly family photo calendars and cards, I had a stack of cardstock and no creative juices flowing what-so-ever. My sister has every craft supply known to man, and a multitude of craft and cardmaking magazines to draw inspiration from...
me....not so much.

As you can see, this weekend was a self-made craft-fest, and I finally settled down and made some Holiday cards. I'm a huge Mad Men fan, and all things mid-century so this cute little silhouette that I found of a man and wife and their kitty ( yes, our kitty Beaver is still alive and kicking) was right up my alley. I especially love how she is wearing a dress and heels to adorn her tree. So classy. I added a little playful retro font thanks to Picnik photo editing that wishes our friends and family to "Have a Swell Holiday". Isn't the word swell, so kitschy? All I did was upload the photo to Picnik's site, added the text and printed directly onto my cardstock. Fold, stuff and mail!
Anyhow, they aren't my fanciest cards to date, but they're done.
....if I could just get my butt in gear to address and mail them all before December 25th!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Let it glitter..let it glitter..let it glitter

I've found myself in a crafting mood this weekend.. This past week had a couple craptastic days sprinkled in amongst some average ones, so I found myself wanting to hole up in the house this weekend and craft my little heart out. Crafting has always been my go-to..some people eat to soothe, some people drink for comfort...I workout and craft when I get stressed.
(Haha, Isn't that just aweful?!)

So, I found this awesome download on Thursday on eighteen25, and immediately printed out their subway Christmas print and popped it in an existing frame. Easy, peasy...FREE!!!!!!!!

I also happen to have a Dollar Tree store just a hop-skip-and a jump away from where we live ( and unfortunately, I am way to pumped about it for the simple fact that when I just can't hold out any longer, I can run over and buy up a bunch of pregnancy tests to bring home and torture my impatient self with..So far, they've let me down, but if I didn't have the Dollar Tree, I'd send my husband and I into debt with the cost of those bad boys. Seriously, First Response..$20 for one test?) I digress...I love the Dollar Tree because they have lots of craft supplies on the cheap.

My Dollar Store Craft of the Day? Inspired by these trees seen on eighteen25

{photo: eighteen25's glitter trees}

Glitterific Trees on top of spraypainted candlesticks...For a whopping grand total of $3

And as a special treat, I'll let you see where the magic happens...the inside scoop on where all this crafting goes down...Ladies and gents, my craftroom for the day....

...are you ready....

..don't be jealous......

...Here it is....

Yes, this is our backyard...and yes, those are bags of rocks I'm using as sawhorses.

Glamourous, right?

The BIG Advent

I've always wanted an Advent calendar. Those neat ones with the little cardboard doors and windows that open to reveal a piece of cheap chocolate or instruct you to do some random act of kindness.

I never had one as a kid. Not that I was vocal about my desire to have an advent calendar, but I have secretly always wanted one. I've even reasoned with myself as an adult making my own money---that I could in fact buy one of I wanted, but the allure wore off when I could actually buy one on my own..It became one of those, "ohh, that's cute, but I don't want to spend $20 on it" (insert husband's nickname for my thrifty-ness here) items.

Well, leave it to Martha, then improved by the painter family blog for a DIY advent that I went nuts for upon laying my eyes upon this fantabulous idea.

{photo: Painter Family Blog}

A trip to Joanne's on Saturday (where I may or may not have ruined a cashier's day by insisting my gift card had $40 on it, when he told me I owed $3.27 after a $12 purchase...only to realize as the manager was being called to remedy my complaint...that I was using an old card..pulled out my newest GC and lo-and-behold...there was my$40 credit..I apologized profusely, by the way) lead me to realize that buying 25 paper mache boxes of varying sizes was a bit more than I wanted to spend...So, I bought 10 18x18 sheets of black and white polka-dotted scrapbook paper and headed to the Dollar Tree to attack plan B for my rendition of an advent calendar..I had seen another cute idea where clothespins were used to hold cellophane baggies filled with treats, so I purchased a set of clothespins for $1, came home and spray painted them red, and got to MOD podging my scrapbook paper to a remnant piece of plywood my husband had laying around the garage.

While the board and painted clothespins were drying, I used my new scallop punch from Fiskars to punch out some christmasy paper, and printed out the numbers 1-25 in a variety of fonts on white cardstock. I punched the numbers out with my 1.5" circle punch and adhered them to the scalloped circles with my gluestick.

Once the clothespins were dry, I counted out 5 rows of 5 clothespins and spaced them randomly and glued them to my board with Elmer's wood glue.

When the clothespins set up ( overnight), I then used Elmer's to glue my number cut-outs to each clothespin.

And lastly, I filled each little cellophane baggie with two candies ( one for NZ, and one for ME!) to eat each night as we countdown to Christmas morning! I can't wait till we have little ones to share this with!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Do I scare people?

No one ever wants to think that they, themselves may have something to do with other people's fears. I've never intended to scare anyone, but it's come to my understanding that even without trying to ( actually, doing my best NOT to), my experience with baby loss has had an impact on those around me who are trying to conceive and those who may also be pregnant and expecting.

I don't like that one bit. I have had multiple friends succeed in getting pregnant (so many in fact, I lost count long ago) and delivering healthy babies since our initial loss. I've got a couple of friends who, like myself, can't just wink at my husband and pop out a baby 9 months later..They too understand the 2 week wait and the anxiety it entails. I've got three friends who have had stillborn daughters, and a handful who have had complications but went on to deliver otherwise healthy children.

I keep tally, cause I'm like that. I may curse statistics, but I still obsess over them.

What I didn't understand, in writing about my loss on my blog, was that it may affect those I care about per chance that they get pregnant. No one has said anything to me about it, but I started thinking about it today, and how naieve most pregnant couples are, but those around us..those who supported us through our loss ( me moreso than my husband--because he "got it" even way back then--that we needn't scare others just because we had bad luck...too bad it has taken me 18 months to come to the same realization) are acutely aware that things can go wrong..and I feel responsible for the loss of their naievity during their pregnancy.

Should I feel responsible? There is no way to really go back and "eat my words" and I really think blogging has helped me cope and get through the stages of grief in a healthy way. How do I shield those around me from letting my experience have any weight on theirs? Am I being too hard on myself?

This is just one of those things, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. To blog about it or not to blog about it? Either way, even if I didn't talk about it to anyone, those who did support us through our loss would still be aware that losses do happen, so maybe I am just being hard on myself.

My question...Any other baby loss mom's struggle with the idea that your experience and talking about it may taint someone else's naievety during pregnancy? Or do you think "hey, it's just a fact of life--deal with it?"

Edit: After this blog was first posted, I received an e-mail from one of my college bestie's, childhood besties, who reads my blog with lovely note about how it got her thinking...and in turn, she blogged about "The Other Side" and wanted to link to this post. In turn, I would encourage readers to check out Jenn's post for a view from a woman going through pregnancy, and the feelings she has after being surrounded by loss.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Buon Apertito

Instead of posting a whole slew of photos, I made a slideshow to one of my all-time favorite songs by George Strait. Thanksgiving 2010 was our first attempt at hosting supper for the Zentils, Aguirres, Santanas and Vendrame's..and it was a success, with only one small hiccup, that caused us to go hopping the fence to our neighbors to cook the ham in their oven when we realized our bottom "oven" is a broiler, not another oven.

Everything went smoothly, thanks in part to our organization and kitchen stadium dodging of one another in the kitchen. We stayed on track all day, with the help of a timetable that we outlined earlier this week. Hey we may be geeks, but it de-stressified the entire experience to the point that if asked to do it again next year, we'd jump at the chance.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Stumbling into the Holidays

photo courtesy of

Ever since NZ returned from India, we've been go..go...go, with every single weekend filled with some sort of to-do from our list...As soon as he got home, we went to Santa Barbara for a weekend get-away, the next weekend was Halloween with friends, then the next weekend we went to San Diego..I think you get the picture..

All of a sudden, my birthday came and went without much hurrah. It's okay, I didn't want much of a fuss, and believe it or not, I requested NZ NOT make a cake for me this year. This totally broke the tradition of our relationship. Every year since we have been together, he has surprised me with some sort of cake. This year, however, I just wasn't feelin it. Instead we had icecream sundaes ( minus the fudge, but in lieu of fudge, my sis-in-law made some to-die for cookies) with my husband's brother and wife.

And now we're prepping Thanksgiving supper, our first one in our house even though we have lived here three and a half years. It dawned on me today that we have just stumbled into the Holidays..the same holidays that saw me at my lowest point of grief last year..and this year, staring down the barrel of Christmas upon us, I think I'm doing alright. I can't even describe how much different I feel this year, and really, what has changed, except for the passing of time.

I'm relieved. I think that despair is one of the worst feelings in the world, aside from deceit, and I have to admit, I had both despair and deceit last year, feeling like my little girl and my dreams were taken from me. I felt decieved by everyone who told me things were going to be okay with my pregnancy, and when things didn't go as planned, I was mad at those people.

I'm over those deep dark feelings for the most part, now. I have hope again. I am thankful for the ability to acknowledge that I am moving forward, and I am thankful for some of the opportunities that Nick and I are able to take advantage of. I am thankful that time has helped heal my broken heart, although there is a piece that has been taken and will never be replaced.

Who knows what the future has in store for my husband and I, and our journey to adding to our family, but I do feel quite fortunate to be able to look forward to the holidays with hope and happiness again.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On my doorstep

We had a note from UPS on our doorstep earlier this week, indicating that they had a delivery for us, which would need to be signed for by persons over the age of 21. Nick and I looked at each other and wondered which one of us ordered something and forgot about it..What on earth could it be?

So, today, after a horrendous workday ( my own fault, no one else's..damn hormones!), I schleped myself over to the UPS station and signed for our package.

I looked at the box to see if it indicated who it was for.

Nick & Brie Zentil

Hmm..okay, so it obviously wasn't something either of us ordered, but who could it be from?

I opened it up, while in the UPS lot ( I am impatient, if you didn't already know!) and smiled for the first time today.

Inside the box was a bottle of GUFO wine, and a wonderful little note from my dad's cousin & his wife. They have a vineyard in the Santa Cruz mountains and they sent us a bottle of their Pinot to share with our family on Thanksgiving since they heard that Nick and I are hosting this year.
How sweet is that?

Tonight, I am thankful for my family and it's deep roots.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chevron Pillow Cover

I have had an infatuation with the simplicity of the chevron design since first seeing this photo from Jess at make Under My Life

She has a tutorial on how she made these canvases, and I adjusted them to substitute a 20x20 inch piece of muslin instead. I used my current favorite accent color, burnt orange ( perfect for Fall, right?) and got to painting my fabric with fabric paint.

[My chevron pillow and it's striped partner]

A simple envelope back to my pillow with muslin, and I have a new pillow cover, just the way I wanted it. My motto is becoming..."Can't find it? Make it."

The best part?

It was cheap!

The Cost breakdown: $1.49/yd of muslin + fabric paint $1.99= A new pillow cover for under $4!

Iron Me Pretty

I gave my old delapidated ironing board a make-over last night. Believe it or not, I love ironing. I even iron my pillowcases and flat sheets when I have time. The crispness is freshly ironed sheets are to die for. You should try it sometime. You will be hooked too.

It took about 30 minutes, and it was a free project since I was re-purposing some extra fabric from a Kingsize Duvet cover that I cut down a while back. It takes about a yard of cotton fabric to make a cover for a fullsize ironing board.

To make: I removed the rope that was encased and laid the previous ( hello's that for dating an instyle ironing board?) cover on top of my pressed fabric. I didn't even use chalk to trace, I simply cut around the old cover with 2 inches added. I then removed the old cover and pinned the new cover edges in with a 1 in. seam allowance.I then sewed the 1 inch casing with a zigzag stitch to prevent fraying if I ever decide to wash the cover ( which I probably won't, but just in case) and left an opening of 2 inches at the top end of the board to thread the rope through. Just slip a safety pin on a knot at the end of your rope and ease it through the casing. The next step is easy...just slip the cover on your ironing board ( replace the foam if it is all old and wrinkly) and pull both ends of rope so that the cover cinches around the board. Tie a bow or a not in the end and you're done! Now get to ironing!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A few good Women

My goal as a gymnast, was not to go to the Olympics, but instead to stretch my career as long as I could--with an ultimate goal of competing at the collegiate level. I had been riddled with injuries throughout my career ( which gymnast hasn't?) with the worst of the lot being a fractured back Freshman year...But, for me, there was no option. Gymnastics was life. There was no offseason, there was no other option. Eat, Gym, Sleep, Repeat.

Did I miss out on High School football games? Dances? Parties? You bet, I did.

But, the important thing is I didn't feel like I was missing out, because I was doing something I loved, and had a great group of friends on my gymnastics team...Besides, I got to travel, compete and see things that other teens my age were missing out on.

[hmm, go to a high school party vs. competing in the Bahamas?]

Well, I finally somehow finagled a spot on a collegiate gymnastics team. In August 1995, at age 17...I moved to UCDavis for summer training. There were 7 of us fresh faced freshies. The older girls who had apartments and houses each took a few freshmen on and we stayed with them until the dorms opened.

Little did I know that the girls I met that first day of summer training would end up being like sisters to me. We learned the ropes of bike riding to campus together on big ol hoopty bikes with wide handlebars, found out where the best bagels and smoothies were, and how to keep our backs from getting bike stripes in the rain.
[95-96 Freshman class]

Our team was like a sorority, only minus the cattiness. We all pulled for one another, whether it be to eek out the last tumbling pass on floor, or to help study for an O-chem test that was next to impossible to pass. It was a built in sisterhood, made of girls from all over the place, with gymnastics being the common denominator. We'd plan our class schedules together, so that we could have study groups together to complete homework assignments.
[Note writing in anthro class? Guilty. ..Evidence above]

Who am I kidding???We'd just schedule classes together so we could sit in the middle of the lecture hall, writing silly notes and pictures back and forth until one of us ended up laughing out loud, or in one instance, choke on a carrot stick while eating in a class where food and drink were prohibited. In my friend's defense...we had classes all day, then practice from 2-6 p.m. with a lecture from 7-10 p.m...We were training athletes and had to find sometime to eat a makeshift dinner..Heaven forbid she eat carrots in class!

Once Freshman year was over, most of us moved into apartments together. I lived with 2 other teammates, Missy aka. Pissy Sue ( How affectionate, I know.. She called me Beavis, so it's even), and shared a room with Dawn aka. Mac or Becca (don't ask). Some of the other freshman also moved in together in an apartment that some of our older teammates moved out of. They passed the torch, so to speak.

I guess what I am getting at is that I love the sisterhood that was formed on our gymnastics team. Most of us have all stayed in touch in day to day life, with at least a couple of our teammates, and all of us are on facebook, so we're all in touch in that sense. Many of us have stood as bridesmaids in a teammates wedding (or two or three), taken fresh cooked meals to those who have just become new parents and driven 50 miles to give someone a hug who most desparately needed a shoulder to cry on...Many of us have had heartbreaks and hardships, ups and downs, and we all have those one or two teammates from the UCD team that we know we can call on and count on for support.

[1996 team by yours truly]

I love the fact that it's been a good 12 years since I was a member of that team, and I still feel like we could all get together for a reunion and start right back up where we started... So many good memories made with A Few Good Women.

Monday, November 8, 2010

San Diego

Nz and I took a quick trip ( there and back within 36 hours) to San Diego this weekend to see some of my favorite people, ever...who happened to be vacationing in California this week. We had a great time catching up, and making new memories with big thanks to Liz for setting up a sunset sail through . The boat carried 6 guests, and we made up four and a half amongst ourselves. We poured ourselves some cocktails, and enjoyed the ride.
[Adult beverage time]
[Me & my sunshine]

[Fully bouyant Karsyn]

[Liz & me..Love this crafty bee]
All I could keep thinking as we were looking at the San Diego skyline, was that stupid Ron Burgandy sign-off..."Stay Classy, San Diego..."

P.S. Check out all of Liz' projects on her blog, A crafty bee. Just another reason she's one of my favorites! We could craft hours on end together!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Woe vs. positive me

As I lay in bed last night, NZ reminded me that it's almost my birthday. My first thought was Oh yes, another reminder that I am getting older..tick tick tick, damn biological clock..One year closer to being considered advanced maternal age (which HELLO! There are women in their 40's conceiving so I technically have time left, but not without being considered even more hi-risk than I already will be right off the bat). I started to reflect on the year since my last birthday, as I often do as another one draws near, and was close to chalking it up as one of the $hitt!est ones yet. This was the woe-is-hormonal-me thinking..because as I laid there trying to chalk up my laundry list of "bads", I only came up with one. And ya'll can guess what that was...Yup. The "I'm-the-only-woman-in-the-world-who-is-not-pregnant" cop-out.

Then positive me kicked in (thank goodness!) and went through a mental list of good thingssincemy last birthday..We found a wonderful RE who has taken us under his care and is helping us get where we want, he diagnosed a potential cause for the loss of Denise and my other two pregnancies, we have a home, both my 'ol man and I have jobs (with as much security as one can have these days), NZ got the opportunity to take on a challenging task in India, and came home, safe and sound with more experience under his belt, we had a marriage in the family, we spent vacation time with family.. Our family members, for the most part are healthy. No cancer this year, no major illnesses, and that is something to feel good about, and I do. I most definitely do.

So right then and there, lying in bed, nearing my 33rd birthday, I realized, that even if we never have our own biological kids, I am happy with the life I live. I'd be hard pressed to live without my husband by my side, or my family nearby..without them, I'd struggle..but as for now I have to let myself feel complete, whether kids are in the cards for us or not. I can not let the lack of being pregnant outweigh everything that is good around me, cause I am sure there are a lot of people out there who are down and out and see us as the luckiest people in the world--you know, having a roof over our heads and stuff.

Time to be Thankkful for the day to day stuff.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cowgirl & Nerd: Part 2

NZ and I were invited to join some friends at a local bar for Halloween this year. It's been at least half a decade since we last dressed up. I had a tarty little number in the hall, reminicent of Carmen Miranda, but OMG, too much skin! I can't believe I ever galavanted around town in that thing. Cute, yes. Appropriate for me to wear now? Hardly.

{Halloween 2010}
So, after my spirits of being Carmen Miranda were dashed by my body's inability to look 25 again, I started searching my closet for other "free" costumes, and decided I would be my old go-to...A cowgirl. I owned everything but the boots..which, I borrowed from our 12 year-old neighbor who was all excited that we have the same size foot.

{Haaay-ayyy, we're here...arriving at Bogey's}

NZ decided to use his old go-to, and dress as a nerd. He upped the ante this time, by adding some perfectly geeky accessories. New glasses, complete with tape on the bridge, and a dangling piece of toilet paper from his shoe. I couldn't stop laughing at this costume, however, between you and me, I LOVE GEEKS. He's really something special!

{Protect your pockets}

{hey man, You've got something on your foot}

And here we are, nerd and cowgirl back in the day...Lovin my shirt and his pants..and where on earth did I get red pants?

Halloween Candy Brittle

A little late posting, but I found a cheater's recipe for a fun Halloween treat. My definition of a cheater's recipe is one that requires mixing a ton of store bought ingredients and requires no baking skills whatsoever...This treat is definitely for the non-bakers out there.
Line a shallow cookie sheet with a Silpat mat or wax paper
spread out 3 handfuls of pretzels, 1 handful of nuts ( any kind), 1/2 c. raisins, a small bag of candycorn, 1 c. broken up oreo pieces, an individual size bag of reeses pieces (or m&m's) and coconut. And oh yeah, I crushed up a butterfinger somewhere in that mix too..Really, anything goes.
Melt a bag of white chocolate chips in the microwave on low heat. Zap for 30-45 sec intervals till melted. If too thick to pour, add 1 TBSP. of oil to the melting chips and stir. Pour over the cookie sheet covered in candy and pretzels to coat. Use a silicone spatula to spread the white chocolate over the entire sheet. Let set & cool for 1 hour. Break apart into bitesize pieces and serve.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rollie Pollie Fat & Ugly..bullying

There have been a host of events in the past couple of weeks that have really gotten me to think about bullying, what causes it, and how it can be prevented. The topic was first brought up through PEOPLE magazine, in an article about kids who were bullied to the point of death. Then came a blog written by one of my favorite new bloggers, Single Dad Laughing. If you have some time to check out what he has to say, it's time well spent.

And then, never in a million years did I expect the next thing that happened. Those of you who have access to my facebook account, may have seen my status update that read:

"So, i just received a fb message from a childhood schoolmate that was a bit mean spirited..He said he was surprised anyone married me because I used to be ugly! Really?! What a jerk. Once a bully, always a bully."

How could it be? Why now? Why me? It surely doesn't hurt my feeling the same way it would have back when I was 9, but it still makes me wonder, what on earth would make someone our age take time out of their day to contact someone just to throw proverbial dog poo on my doorstep and run away? I have a husband and family and friends who think I am beautiful. Sure, I am no Megan Fox, but I am the best that I can be, and I won't ever understand why this douche felt the need to remind me of what a bully he used to be to me.

{Apparently I was ugly....A dork? Yes. Ugly? No}

As I opened his message, I actually thought to myself, he's probably writing to apologize..maybe it's part of a 12 step recovery.. Was I ever wrong. haha. I received a million responses from friends and family that confirmed the fact that I am loved, and that what he did was uncalled for. Some suggested he may have liked me..I can almost 100% guarantee he didn't. He would taunt me in gradeschool by singing "rollie, pollie, fat and ugly." You don't say that to a girl you like, ever.

But what got me thinking more about bullying, and just how lucky I am to be who I am, and to look the way I do today, was a conversation I had with an older gentleman who came into our office and was obviously afflicted with some sort of birthmark/defect which covered 1/2 of his face. We got to talking about it, and I learned that his condition was actually a hemangioma which he was born with, and had undergone multiple laser treatments and surgeries to reconstruct the deformities it left him with.

{Me & My Big Lip 1979)

At that moment, I felt even luckier to be who I am, and look the way I do today.

Why? Because I was born with a hemangioma which continued to grow on my lower lip. My mother searched high and low and advocated for a plastic surgeon to treat it before I entered gradeschool, for the simple fact that she did not want me to be ridiculed or bullied. Most surgeons told her to wait it out---and that it was a risk to try and remove it because it was intertwined in the muscle of my lip..One slip-up by the surgeon and I could potentially have a lip that hung for the resk of my life.

I asked the gentelman what it was like to grow up with a hemangioma of his magntitude, and he told me he learned how to be tough real quick. He added that he thought it would be much harder for a female to have his condition, than himself. He was terrified his daughters would be born the same, but he hit the jackpot in the fact that neither of his daughters were born with one.

He was bullied, taunted and stared at his entire life. He then became a high school teacher and coach. He said the first day of classes each year were the toughest because of the stares. Even as an adult, he has people covering their kids mouths when the kid asks him what's wrong with his face. This man will never know what it's like to wear the shoes of a person who can go into any situation for the first time, and not cause mouths to drop, or eyes to avert. People rarely look him in the eye, yet my half hour conversation with him was the best one I had all day.

I don't have an answer for putting the brakes on bullying, but am interested to see how many of my readers were bullied, what they did about it, and what they think can be done to teach the kids today a little bit about acceptance. Please share.

PS..Mah, thank you for pushing to find a plastic surgeon that was willing to do the surgery. Imagine what the rollie pollie fat and ugly kid would have called me if we didn't have it removed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall Harvest Apple Cake

I admit, I have not been in the baking/sweets mood lately. I know, I must be sick, right? Truth is, I haven't been sick..I just didn't have anyone around that would eat it. I usually have a bite of whatever I bake, and then ship it off to work with NZ to share with the other growing boys he works with. I am sure their waistlines thank me.

With life back to normal ( read: NZ is home), I have gotten back into reading the baking blogs I used to frequent. I ran across this apple based cake on surprise, surprise, Bakerella's blog. I did alter the recipe a bit. Instead of chopped dates ( I don't like dates), I used raisins ( I love raisins). Instead of walnuts ( I'm allergic), I used chopped pecans. Other than that, I follwed her recipe 95% and it was another success.

As NZ said, " This $h!t's good!"

..Ummmm honey, "this $h!t", is called Apple Cake. Glad you like it.

Here's a link to Bakerella's Easy Apple Cake Recipe. Bake as directed. Or not.

If you don't, don't come blaming me for your cake wreck.

I took Bakerella's suggestion and made a 1/2 batch of the brown sugar syrup, and she's right, it's plenty to drench the cake with.

Poke holes in your baked cake. She uses a skewer stick, I used a knife. Either way works.

Drench it, baby!