Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sugar Filled Skeleton Cupcakes

You know those annoying people who complain on Facebook about aspects of their life they have some control over, but repeatedly do things to make the situation worse? So yeah, that's me. I am tired pretty much all the time. It's not worse than any other parent. I'm just Mom Tired. Busy Tired. Just plain tired. Buuuuuttttt, I also really miss baking. I complained about that too. Then proceeded to spend the next 5 hours on cupcakes. Totally logical.

Weeks prior, I'd scheduled a competition at work that I called "Spooky Food Day" where the only prize was bragging rights. And I had picked my entry. I knew the moment I saw them that I needed to make them. Skeleton cupcakes from Cookies and Cups. Things had been hectic and by the end of business that day, I knew I didn't have time to do them. Naturally, I went ahead and did them anyway. Here's how the eve of Halloween Eve went down.

I'm alone with a 3.5 year old and 6 month old while my husband is at a conference. This means I am making cupcakes from a box. While the toddler eats dinner (he requested marshmallows and we negotiated and landed on a Lunchable) I put the baby in a wrap and whip up the boxed cake mix. Don't judge. 

The husband returns home and sees me dipping pretzels in white chocolate. He offers to go to the store for me to buy pre-dipped pretzels. I decide to be lazy on this front too and let him go. I was 11 in and already sick of it.
Plus they were really ugly.

While the husband is at the store, I start putting marshmallow heads on sticks. Since I had the white chocolate out anyway, I dipped the stick tips in it first, as though that's what I actually planned to use it for. It made me feel slightly more organized.

The husband calls from the store. They don't have white chocolate dipped pretzels but they do have dark chocolate. Or white star shaped pretzels with peppermint flakes. I debate whether I would like to have disgusting cupcakes by mixing peppermint with red velvet or weird looking brown skeletons. I opt for the brown skeletons. 
A little later, I'm making buttercream frosting and run out of powdered sugar. I call the husband but he doesn't answer, so I text him. Around this time, I decide that dipping the cupcakes in sprinkles would be easier than shaking them out of the container, so I try to pop the lid off and end up doing this: 

Husband returns from the store with the brown chocolate pretzels. I get mad and ask why he didn't answer his phone because I still need powdered sugar, but then he hands me a McFlurry, so I shut up and head off to WalMart. I think about how much I hate that place and this is the second time it's saved me in a late night baking emergency. I take a look and find 2 small bags of white chocolate covered pretzels left on the shelf, so the night starts looking up a bit. I have no pictures of the WalMart trip, but you might check out People of WalMart if you're interested.

I return from WalMart, start piecing things together, find it's a huge pain in the ass and curse myself for deciding on this project. Sometime around 11pm I decide that the skeletons don't need arms all that badly.

I'm finally done

And here are the "rejects". I had run out of sprinkles (see 9:22pm) and white chocolate pretzels, so I had to finish out with chocolate.

It slipped my mind, so I don't have pictures of the competition, but there were some really creative entries in there. Someone on my team won, so I was pretty happy about that. 

So that's that. I hope you're now inspired to bite off more than you can chew. I'm off to bed :)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Corn Flake Peanut Butter Bars

You wouldn't think that those two things go together, but add what basically amounts to a bunch of sugar and you've got yourself a tasty treat. Not to mention, it comes together fairly quickly. Here's what it ends up looking like. It's much better looking in person than in these iPhone shots. I can no longer blame not knowing where the camera is due to moving, I'm just being lazy and don't want to mess with the camera right now.

Here's what you do. Measure out 2.5 Cups of Peanut Butter. It's not essential that you do this first, but I get nervous when I have sugar boiling and I'm struggling to measure out a ton of peanut butter. Two and a half cups is a lot more peanut butter than one might think, so if you don't shop at Costco and buy in bulk, you may want to have 2 normal sized jars on hand. In case you were wondering, this is a 3 lb jar and it took over half of it. That's a giant ass jar of peanut butter. Enjoy.

Then, bring 1.5 Cups each of sugar and light Karo syrup to a boil. <- that is the bunch of sugar I was talking about. It will look like this:

And now that you have your peanut butter all prepared, remove the pan from heat and dump it in there with a shot of vanilla. Stir till it looks smooth like this:

From here, dump in a box of corn flakes. Don't go cheap, use Kelloggs. Just trust me on this. Stir it up. I did it right in the pan and I think that prevented me from getting it all mixed well. It still tastes alright, I just have a preference for things being well mixed. If I had more time while I was prepping it, I would have alternated the corn flakes and peanut butter mixture in a very large bowl instead of trying to stir it in a too small pan. 

I sprayed a 9x13 pan with Pam and pressed the cornflakes in. No baking, no refrigeration, just let it cool/set overnight and serve the next day. We have a small team at work and that was a large pan. We (and by we I mean I) ate it 3 days in a row.

I got the recipe 10 years ago from a manager I had while I was an intern. I don't measure the corn flakes or vanilla or butter the pan, so if you like a little more measurement than I gave, the recipe is below. Thanks Tami!

Corn Flake Peanut Butter Bars

1 1/2 C Sugar
1 1/2 C Karo Syrup (light)
2 1/2 C Peanut Butter
1 Tbsp Vanilla
9 C Corn Flakes

Bring the sugar and syrup to a boil in a large pan. Remove from heat and add peanut butter and vanilla. Stir until peanut butter is melted and creamy. Stir in corn flakes. Stir until nicely coated. Press mixture into a buttered cake pan. 
Eat and Enjoy!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Covering the Assets - DIY Nursing Gear

I had a minor nursing in public (NIP) "incident" a few weeks ago. We were taking our toddler to the park and the baby needed to eat. You gotta do what you gotta do, so if you're a nursing mom who doesn't want to or can't be home all the time, you need to NIP. I fully support NIP and the way the mom chooses to do it, covered or not. But I'm shy, man. I have GOT to be covered.

To illustrate my point, while my husband took the toddler to the park, I was across the street facing a water tower, hidden from park view behind a large tree AND covered with a nursing cover. NOBODY was seeing these boobies. However, it was extremely windy and as I was holding down my cover on the left side, a huge gust of wind blew the right side right off. And there it was. A boob in the open. 

Since I was behind the tree, I felt pretty safe from view but I looked up anyway to make sure nobody saw my little mishap. I saw a truck driving right by me on the way out of the park. There was no way the driver didn't see. I drew attention just by being a person sitting up against a tree, facing away from the park. I looked away as quickly as possible, not making eye contact with the driver. I totally wanted to die of embarrassment. 

I'm still going to have to NIP from time to time so I wanted to make sure that I don't have any more of these boob sightings occurring. Before little O was born, I found a few things on Pinterest that might help, so I went ahead and made them. 

The first was this nursing shawl. I was taken in by two things. First, the beauty of the model. Man, I love red hair and she is gorgeous. Surely, I would look JUST like her if I wore one ;) Second was the simplicity of the project. Cut, pin, sew a short line. That's it! Knit fabric doesn't fray so you don't have to worry about finishing the edges so the project goes quickly. 

Needless to say, I do not look like the lady modeling the shawl in the tutorial, but it's going to do the job. Mine ended up a little shorter than I would have liked, but I didn't have the full 30 inches as recommended in the tutorial, I was working with 27. It's still functional and I think it looks good enough anyway. Gotta work with what you have! And my toddler wanted to know what was going on under there. That's proof of good coverage :)

So that took care of the boob coverage, now I needed some for the gut. I'm not just embarrassed of the boobs :) I also found this tutorial to make your own nursing cami. I can't believe they charge 25 bucks for those! I got 2 cami's at Old Navy for $3.50 a piece, so I'm saving some serious cash here. You wouldn't think so, but normally, sewing doesn't really save you all that much money on things. My husband is always shocked at how much I spend on fabric, so I'm glad these projects were such money savers. The knit was on sale at 

The cami's were also quick to put together, but since the area being sewn was so small, I made a huge mess of it. It doesn't look anywhere near as good as the tutorial, but I'm covering that part with the shawl, so who cares?

Below is an "action shot". You're welcome for not being in this one :)

Now I'm all covered for my adventures in NIP. I can lower the cami and the post baby gut is still under wraps and the boob is all covered up by the shawl. Easy peasy projects, money saving, boobs and gut covered. Loving it! Try them out and go get your NIP on! Or go uncovered if you like!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Baby Got...Pie

It's been a crazy few weeks around here. We put our house on the market and bought a new one. With all the fixing and cleaning required to put our house for sale, my husband's 34th birthday quietly came and went. No big deal he said, we can celebrate a few days later when the craziness dies down. So a Father's Day/Birthday celebration it would be. I was getting excited because since the baby was born 8 weeks ago, I've completely neglected my other blog, Baby Got Cake. Without being at work and having people to eat it for me, I needed a real reason (other than something like, "It's Tuesday! Yay!") to make a cake.

But my husband decided to break my heart. He's told me this before, but no matter how many times he says it, it just doesn't compute. "I don't really care for cake." Every cake making occasion that rolls around for him, I ask because I really can't comprehend someone NOT liking cake. What's wrong with you? But it's the man's birthday and he's a great father, so I say give him what he wants. French silk pie it is.

Please don't mind the bad pictures. They are (gasp) cell phone pics. The real camera is packed away. Oh, and for that matter, so are my piping bags so excuse my Ziploc decorating. This moving stuff is really cramping my style...

Anyway, it's not quite your typical french silk pie. It's a graham cracker crust (not homemade per my husband's request and I was happy to oblige). Most of the time, these are made with a nice flaky pastry crust. You may also notice that the whipped cream is chocolate. More on that later. 

The base recipe is from the Pioneer Woman. She NEVER lets me down. But in my typical fashion, I managed to screw up a very simple recipe. I used some leftover Ghirardelli baking chocolate I had in the cabinet, but it was missing the wrapper. I figured that each square was an ounce like the other brand I normally use. I figured out later, I was wrong. I gave the beater to Nate to taste and he asked, "What flavor is this?" It's a French silk pie, so it's obviously chocolate flavored. This was his way of telling me he couldn't taste it. I got all offended and stormed off to continue to make my pie. How dare he question my baking ability?!

But then I put it in the crust and noticed it looked a little...light colored? I had thrown out the label on my baking chocolate so I looked it up online and sure enough, each square was only a half ounce. It had half the chocolate flavor it needed. Don't tell my husband he was right, he still doesn't know.

I had to fix it somehow because I didn't have extra ingredients and was already invested time-wise. I thought maybe I'd put chocolate shavings on the top and bottom of the whipped cream and make the whipped cream chocolate instead of white. As usual, I asked my Baby Got Cake blogging partner for advice and she concurred so that's what I did. I swear, if I had my own baking show, it would be called "J Saves the Day".

So there it is with the shavings on top. I meant to do curls, but the bar was too frozen at the time. No matter, this worked out better anyway. I'm learning :) The chocolate whipped cream recipe comes from  The Joy of Baking. This stuff is good enough to eat with a spoon. Not saying I did. But I might have. 

So, I hope my cake hating husband loves it. If I remember later, I'll take another lovely cell phone picture of a piece and update. Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Homemade Zebra Cakes

I think Kristan from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen is my hero. I was checking out Pinterest the other day and came across a pin containing a recipe for homemade Zebra Cakes. I'm pretty sure I audibly gasped. The post is a few years old, but it was my first time hearing of such a thing and newborn baby or not, I was going to find time to make it happen.

When I was in high school (and could eat more than I can now with less negative consequence), they used to sell single Zebra Cakes in the cafeteria. Don't be fooled, it wasn't any less calories than the 2 pack, this was a massive single cake. I used to get them more than I'd like to admit. But once I was an adult, it just no longer felt appropriate to be eating Little Debbie's for some reason, so I just didn't buy them. Plus, if you open a package only wanting one, you are forced to eat the other one, right?

I was totally craving them during my pregnancy, but never bought them. I have since had the baby but seeing that post brought back the cravings and I knew it wouldn't go away until I made them. So here it is.

They ended up a little bigger than I expected. I think my jelly roll pan was slightly smaller in dimensions than the recipe calls for so the cake rose more. I didn't figure out until the end that I should have cut each piece in half (from top to bottom) instead of stacking two pieces. No big deal. A giant zebra cake never hurt anyone.

I only made 3 deviations from the recipe. First was the use of white cake instead of yellow. I don't think yellow is a good description of a cake flavor so it weirds me out. I also doubled the recipe for the filling. Because I am a fatty and I like filling. Don't judge. Finally, I didn't cut circles because I didn't want to waste a bit of cake. That's just crazy.

Let me tell ya, these things were every bit as good (down to that weird, slick feeling on your tongue after you eat it), dare I say even better than Zebra Cakes and the effort level to make them is quite minimal. That's a dangerous combo, so I'm going to have to forget I ever found this recipe.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Craft Room Curtains - Take 2

I put things off a lot. Like A LOT. Back in January, I posted about my craft room curtain fail. FOUR months ago, I bombed the curtains and I'm just now getting around to fixing them. Want to know how long they were without curtains before that fail? According to my notes about all the things I wanted to add to my new craft room... about a year. Guess how many of those other things I've done. You're correct if you said none :)

Anyway, we are about to put our house on the market (really easy to do with a newborn by the way) and I needed to fix the single/too short curtain issue. Another thing I was concerned about was that the green and white chevrons might be too bold for a perspective buyer. From what I hear, chevrons are sooo 2011. I don't care, I still love them. But I needed to get with the times. Here's a reminder of what the one panel looked like. I never made a second one as I originally intended. I was too defeated from bombing sewing 101 with that curtain.

After the first curtain fail, I was perusing Pinterest and found some beautiful curtains on Apartment Therapy. I figured I could do them on a smaller scale for the craft room. I also wanted to go easy on myself. I don't have a whole lot of time with a one month old so I wanted to use the drapery rings like last time. These little things are handy. I've also used them for other fun projects like this one..

These came together easily, but the trickiest part for me was piecing it together. No matter what I do, I can't seem to cut or sew a straight line. But I made do. Top to bottom, the window was 3 feet, which made for nice, even stripes. I wasn't too sure how wide to make it so I just added 8 extra inches to half of the window width measurement. I didn't put too much thought into it, but it worked out. I didn't add black out backing or clean up the back that faces the neighbor's house. Why put all that effort in for someone else? When I moved in here, the first thing I did was take down all their hideous window treatments. If I'm to suffer the same fate, I would rather not waste my time with the extras, ya know? And the neighbors probably won't even see since it's lower level. Look at their view.

Despite my inability to cut or sew straight (and being in a rush hoping to get done before the baby woke) the pieces came together pretty well.

It took a total of 8 hours to get it finished. It was done between 3 feedings, 3 naps and dinner. I estimate about 2 hours without the non project related activities. I actually like it better than the Chevrons. I hope a buyer will feel the same. I'm starting to really love what this room has become. I may not want to move away :)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Boy Meets World - O's Birth Story

It's a boy! A big beautiful boy! And we are in love. We chose not to find out the sex of either of our babies. Well, I chose not to. My husband really wanted to know, but thankfully he went along for the ride with me each time. There's something about hearing "It's a boy/girl)!" in the delivery room that has really been worth the wait for me.

Here are the stats. The little guy was 9 lbs 11 oz. and 21 inches long. Head was 14 3/4. To me, he looks quite normal, but every nurse has commented on how big he is or about the fact that they hope I haven't bought newborn diapers or clothes. Either way, the little dude is perfect. And that's about all for the non gross, non emotional, or non controversial stuff. Just a warning ;)

Why a VBAC?
I'll start by saying anyone's reasons for attempting a VBAC are intensely personal. I'm just sharing because they are mine and if anyone can find anything helpful in it, sharing is worth it. I'll note that in the telling of my story, judgement of others for making different decisions or choices should not be inferred at any time. 
There were a few reasons I chose to attempt a VBAC. First, I really didn't ask a lot of questions during my first pregnancy, just took things at face value and unfortunately, didn't research much. The things that have become so normal in birth these days, I simply did not think to question. I went into my first son's birth thinking I would go into labor naturally, go as long as I could without an epidural, push him out and go home. Easy as that. A C-Section was not part of my plan. Instead, I had an induction at 40 weeks. That led to pain I couldn't stand so I was having an epidural by 5 cm. The more natural birth I wanted turned into intervention after intervention, ultimately ending in a C-Section. After doing some research and learning about the correlation between all the interventions and C-Sections, I was determined not to let history repeat itself. A vaginal birth is what my research told me is best for my baby (obviously there are times when a CS is necessary) so that was the most important reason for me to attempt a VBAC.

My other reasons are very personal and I think one would have to go through them to really get it, but I'll try to explain. They are more emotional. As I told my OB, I felt very absent after my first son's birth. I was out of it (literally in and out of sleep), shaking and nauseous from the anesthesia that I could not physically hold my son for a few hours. That's time I can't get back. I also spent so much time grieving the loss of the birth I felt I didn't have. That kind of statement tends to bring out the "healthy baby is the only thing that matters" sentiment from everyone. I've heard it a lot in 3 years. And I completely agree. I just don't think that grieving over something you wanted and didn't get means you aren't over the moon excited about your new, healthy addition. Because I definitely was and I am now as well.
The whole C-Section experience was just traumatic for me. Not just emotionally, but physically. The CS recovery was a pain like I'd never had before. At the hospital they had to force me to get out of bed. It just hurt too much. It took about a week before I could stand fully upright without blinding pain. I'd never heard of a reaction like that and don't really consider myself to be pain intolerant. There was so little I could do on my own for so long, I'm not sure what I would have done without my husband staying home with me for 3 weeks.

My final personal reason will likely be hardest to understand, but to put it out there, I just felt defective. It was like my body failed me so many times and I needed this experience to help me feel like my body does know what it should do. In 2007, I was diagnosed with Graves disease. It's an auto-immune disorder. Essentially, my body thinks my thyroid is foreign and spends its time attacking my thyroid. The condition has been a roller coaster for me. It improves then gets really bad. I gain tons of weight then lose tons.
I had a miscarriage in 2008 after seeing the heartbeat - when your odds of miscarriage become 1%. That was followed by another in 2009.
Then there was the CS which you've heard ALL about :)
Shortly after my son was born in 2010, he had severe weight gain issues. To the point where he was about to be labeled a failure to thrive. He had been diagnosed with reflux, but as it turns out, he never had that. My body was just not making the amount of food he needed. To this day, I get upset thinking about it and wondering how I didn't know, but the pediatrician missed it too as he was eating constantly. It was a trip to a lactation consultant that confirmed the supply issues.
The following year brought another miscarriage after seeing the baby's heartbeat.
None of this is meant to make anyone pity me and I'm hoping nobody thinks I believe I have it the worst. My medical condition is manageable and despite 3 miscarriages, not being able to deliver the way I wanted or make enough milk, I have the most beautiful boys and I'm very blessed - and I know it. I'm simply explaining why I feel as I do. I want to know that my body can do something right and that I'm not damaged, broken or defective.

O's Birth Story
Little O's journey into the world began a minutes after his "due date" passed. Everything up until then felt really normal. The occasional tightness in the belly that I thought might be a contraction, but those only happened a few times a day, so it was nothing too exciting. Then, about 12:20 am (day after due date) I had the overwhelming urge to use the restroom. It wasn't an abnormal occurrence being that pregnant, but I had just gone to bed less than 2 hours earlier and hadn't had anything to drink in hours. When I was finished I stood up and felt a quick gush of fluid. I was sure that I was not done using the bathroom and got embarrassed. But then, another gush. And another. Even there in the dark, I knew what was happening. I was scared because I expected to feel something. Anything. But I felt nothing except more fluid loss every time I made a move. I yelled for my husband and hopped in the shower because I didn't know what else to do. I couldn't go back onto the carpet. So I just kept yelling and showering until he showed up.

Being that I was hoping for a VBAC, ideally, I wouldn't go to the hospital until I at least had contractions and was well into labor, but something about the color of the fluid worried me. It was green and looked like it had tons of specks in it (we later found out it was because there was meconium in the fluid) so I called the on call OB, who had us come in. My husband called his brother to come stay with our son and we were on our way.

We arrived at the hospital shortly after 2am and were sent to triage. I answered a million questions I had already answered and was feeling pretty crabby and tired. They said they would have a doctor come check to make sure my water had really broken (do people really go the hospital after peeing themselves, thinking it's amniotic fluid???) but after taking a look, the nurse decided I was right and cancelled the doctor call since a check would put me at risk for infection.

We were finally admitted after 4am. We slept on and off until my OB came in at 8. By that point, I had mild contractions here and there but nothing major. I was sleeping through them. She told me she wasn't optimistic due to my history, but I was still committed to doing this my way unless there was a medical reason not to. We slept more after that but not for long.

Contractions took a noticeable step up an hour or so after she left so I felt it was a good sign that maybe it would happen on its own. We asked the nurse if I could walk the halls were told no because the doc's orders were for constant monitoring. I commented that it wasn't helpful for my labor so she called the OB and approved me for monitors that didn't need to be hooked into the wall. She knew from my paperwork that I did not wish for any pain meds unless I asked, so she simply stated that I knew where to find her if I needed them and she never once asked me if I did. This was most helpful. In my first son's birth I was asked over and over until I said yes. It was nice to have someone respect my wishes.

By 11, things were really rolling. And fast. The nurse got me a birth ball to sit on and that eased a lot of the pain of each contraction.  She soon did a first check and found me at 5cm. I thought it wasn't so bad and I really started to feel like it would happen.

The rest is a real blur as far as the time. It felt like minutes went by and I was a 9. It seemed really crazy how just a few hours before, I was feeling nothing and in a matter of hours, the contractions went from being 3 minutes apart to right on top of one another. I was getting no breaks between them (I think this was around 3pm). Admittedly, I wanted to ask for the epidural, but I reminded myself of my mission. I felt like my VBAC odds were better if I didn't do it. Hearing that I was at a 9 helped too. Almost done! I thought to myself...

Just like with my first son, we got to pushing and there were heart decelerations that concerned the OB and nurse. My nurse had me change positions frequently, doing her best to make sure I didn't get sent to the OR. There were also position issues. Baby was head down, but for weeks, had been looking to the left instead of face down. That can change at any time during labor but never did for me. The nurse tried to move him in my belly and massaged my hips, but the little guy wouldn't budge. My pushing was getting us nowhere. I remember at one point wearing oxygen to help with the decels along with all the position changes, but nothing was working. The OB was telling me we were going in for a CS. She didn't ask, so I knew something was wrong, but I was in so much pain I couldn't respond.

The surgery was another blur. I was still having bad contractions while I waited for them to get the epidural in so they could do the C Section. Once it was in, it was like I didn't realize it was happening. Maybe the meds weren't as strong with my first, but then, I could feel pulling and tugging, so I knew what was happening. And it took longer. I didn't feel anything this time. I was later told that baby O's heartrate took a dangerous dip shortly after getting to the OR so they had to go faster. I was asking for him, but my husband wasn't brought in there until they were about to pull our son out so I know things went much faster than expected by anyone.

Now the most important part. I turned and saw my husband there and the doc asked him to call it. I bawled when I heard him say "it's a boy". The moment we'd been waiting for. Baby looked good so they wrapped him up and handed him to my husband so I could be stitched up and we could have our family time before they needed to do all of his measurements.

I've been surprised at how at peace I am with the outcome. I mean, I have wanted this since the day my first son was born. It was the last question I asked the OB before consenting to that first C-Section after 3 hours of pushing, "Does this hospital allow VBACs?" I guess it's because in the end, despite getting the C-Section, I got almost everything I wanted. First and foremost, O is healthy. He chose his own birthday. He was without any drugs as long as possible - they kind of have to give them to you for the CS :) I got to hold and feed him pretty much right away. So except for those last moments, it was really everything I wanted. And the healing this time is going a million times better. I was up sooner and doing things on my own and having much less pain.

So I won't spend years this time rehashing the experience and wondering if there was something I could have done differently. I did it. I did my research. I fought against all the unnecessary intervention. I fought against weeks of pressure to just do the C-Section. Some will ask what that gained me since I ended up in the OR anyway. Well, that's the one thing I really can't put into words.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Last Hurrah - Sewing and Baking for Teachers

Today was teacher appreciation day at my son's daycare. He attends a Montessori daycare that's onsite at work and I love what they do. Every day, they work so hard teaching lessons, manners and caring for him so gently. I love to think of new things to show our appreciation when this day rolls around. I've done the coffee cozy thing before and baked goods in the past. This time, I decided to sew and bake. And why not? At 39 weeks pregnant, the sewing and baking days are numbered, I'm afraid.

I decided on reversible totes using this Made by Rae tutorial. I had three teachers to make one for. Here
is side one.

The prints are for ladies and the Mizzou bag is for a male. He went to Mizzou, don't hate on me KU fans :) Side two is below:

I love how they came together. The only thing I did differently from Rae's tutorial was to buy cotton webbing for the handles instead of making them. Made the process much faster, which I needed. I'm quickly running out of energy over here! I was also excited about how easy they were to make. Unlike the usual way my sewing projects go, I never once screwed up the direction of a print when cutting it nor did I have to get out my seam ripper. I call that a win. Eventually, I want to make one of these for myself. Aren't they adorable?

Finally, I added some quick cupcakes. I found these cute boxes at JoAnn's and not only did they happen to match the colors of the bags I was making, but they made perfect bag fillers. Admittedly, I cheated and used a box mix, but the crazy colored buttercream is all mine. I'm hoping to get back to baking from scratch soon...if the baby lets me get some sleep :)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Why am I here?

It's not the deep, philosophical question it seems like, it's quite literal. Why am I here? In this hospital with its old rooms and dry air. Missing my family. There's nothing wrong with me, I'm just pregnant. This is my second go-round at this and I feel that my eyes have been opened to so many things I missed before because I was too consumed with worry all the time for anything to sink in.

As usual, I'm ahead of myself. I went in for my one of my final weekly appointments on Monday. There had been some concerns about the swelling in my feet, hands and ankles from the week before. Alone, it's not much, but coupled with other factors, it could be. It's not comfortable by any means, but I had swelled much worse with my first child and make jokes about my cankles on FaceBook. Seems like a normal part of pregnancy.

Monday's appointment brought a slight increase in my blood pressure so the doctor was a little worried. Labs were drawn to check my kidney and liver function and I had to return Wednesday. Wednesday came and the blood work was normal, but then they found protein in my urine. Another of the risk factors of pre-eclampsia. A 24 hour urine collection was ordered and I would be back to the office on Friday. I just can't get enough of the place.

Friday, things took a crazy turn. I went to the office late in the day with my 24 hr collection. Blood pressure was the same as it had been for weeks. The swelling was the same. The big difference was an increase in the urine protein (from the office sample, not the 24 hour). This one seemingly small thing set off a chain of events that I'm still trying to wrap my head around. I was immediately sent to Labor and Delivery and essentially prepped for a C Section. I was sent to get more blood work done as well as wait for the 24 hour collection results. Oh and while I was there, I would be getting an IV and not allowed to eat. Hmmm. Sounds like I'm having the baby to me.

I had a mini meltdown that I won't talk about, but I'll just say that I was not ready to have the baby at that point.

When the doc came back, my labs were normal, urine collection had come back OK. Fetal monitoring and blood pressure had been normal. We were OK. So I thought I could breathe a sigh of relief. No C Section and I would get to go home. Instead, there was a long conversation. Essentially what it boiled down to is that while I was not diagnosed as preeclamptic, the fear of pre-E was still there. And we would have to watch it very closely and worry the entire time. Oh and if I want another C Section, it's mine for the taking. The reason this is so tough is because I'm a previous C Section patient who wants a trial of labor. My doc really wanted me to say yes, let's do it, but that's not the way I want this to go down.

My hope is to have a VBAC but I get the sense at times that she might think I'm letting that dream get in the way of what's best for baby and I and that's why I keep refusing this C Section. I was told I am not preeclampic so why is it necessary to have a section? Yes, I am aware and have been told several times that babies odds outside of the womb are great at this point. But why take any risk at all? Especially if baby and I are doing well. Just because it is medically considered full term doesn't mean to me it needs to be out. What ever happened to having babies when they are ready? We live in a nation now where nearly a third of babies are sectioned out and it seems rare to meet a mom that wasn't induced into her labor. I'm not judging these things, nor is it my business what a mother decides to do in her birth. I just want (as much as nature allows anyway) to be able to choose my birth too. Why can't I do that because it's not like the norm?

I know inductions and C Sections are necessary at times. They both happened to me on the first go round. But when I explicitly state that I do not wish to have a C Section and there is not an apparent medical reason to do so, why am I treated like I'm crazy? I don't need to be told over and over that the baby can survive outside the womb, I know that. But maybe I'd like him or her to stay in there until its ready. Can we remember a time when babies were allowed to do that?

My ranting has lead me off the story, but basically, even after being told I was OK and feeling lots of pressure to get a C Section anyway, I was told I was staying overnight for observation. I was just glad to not have the C Section so I didn't get to thinking about how ridiculous a hospital stay is for someone with nothing wrong. The longer I stayed, the more I realized, I'm just here to leave urine samples and get my blood pressure checked a few times. A total of 4. Some fetal monitoring this morning. All still good by the way.

I'm out now. Doing my best to stay calm at all times and dedicated to my beliefs. I'll fight whatever battles I need to in order to do what I think is best for my family, but dammit it would sure be nice if providers were supportive. Aren't we all on the same team?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Planes, Trains and Curious Cake

I don't do parties. Don't get me wrong, I like them a lot as long as other people are doing them. I just stress out too much. They just seem like lots of work and stress for a few short hours in which no one will care if things aren't perfect. Seems very "bad mommy" of me, but I like to call it practical. It's a sanity saver for me :) I talked about how practical I usually am in my last post. I keep it simple. Make a cake, have family over, sing happy birthday and have a good time. I also mentioned in that last post that I have had the tendency lately to go over the top with no idea why. I'm still not sure. All I knew is that my son NEEDED an awesome 3rd birthday cake. Luckily, since I don't have real parties, I'm not stuck with any one theme. So I made him a Curious George cake and threw some airplanes on it. 

I also blog about cake with my friend Jessica on BabyGotCake. I had no idea what to make since my son loves so many things. Elmo, George, Thomas, Mickey, etc. I posted to our Facebook Page that I didn't know which to do and the answer came back loud and clear that Curious George was the way to go. I think deep down, I knew that was it. It's the only television show he watches and I had the perfect inspiration.

Facebook also helped me with this decision. My inspiration photo was a tiered cake. I made my two tiers and quickly realized it was going to be entirely too big. My husband voted to keep it two separate cakes. All the Facebook friends who commented completely outvoted him. Majority rules!

Almost forgot about the train part of this post. I didn't make these, but since we aren't allowed to bring in goods from home due to peanut allergies, I ordered these Thomas cupcakes for daycare and we had some leftovers. So adorable!

Like any other project like this I take on, it wasn't perfect. I'll save that for the BabyGotCake post, but through all the frustration, I didn't cry like usual. Until J saw the cake. He walked up to the counter where it sat and said "It's amazing!" He has never used that word before and it doesn't come out a lot here at home. Tears just welled up in my eyes and I quickly forgot all the pain I'd been in from standing all those hours (hey, it's harder when you are 36 weeks along). He is just amazing. It was completely worth it just for that one moment. Happy 3rd Birthday sweet boy!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dr. Seuss Week Projects for the Coolest kid at Daycare

I'm not sure what's wrong with me lately. I used to be so practical. For some reason, when parents got the email that it was Dr. Seuss week at daycare this week and given the theme of each day, practical was out the window. For pajama day, I HAD to make Dr. Seuss pajama pants. For Wacky Wednesday, I HAD to make the Cat in the Hat's hat. Had to. This might make sense to some, but for those who know me, it's quite out of character. I'm the mom who didn't get her son a Christmas present for his first Christmas because he was only 9 months old and didn't know it was Christmas. The mom who wouldn't have dressed him for Halloween because he didn't trick-or-treat or eat candy. Luckily his grandma stepped in and bought him that first costume before he was even born. Boy was he ever adorable...

I probably spent as much time analyzing the reasons for this sudden change of heart as I did with the projects. It's a very recent development for me (as seen in this post), putting so much effort into such little things, knowing he would be just as happy if I didn't do it. He's such a great little dude! Anyway, I came up with a few things that make no sense.

1. I'm determined to make him the coolest kid at daycare. I was never the coolest kid anywhere. I was always chunky and shy, but at least I was always described as "nice". Maybe this is some odd effort on my part to make sure my kid is cool. Because it's SOOO important when you're 3 ;)

2. I'm 33 weeks pregnant with baby 2. That second part is important. Because I remember what it was like that first year with baby 1. I didn't even start sewing until he was just over a year old because I was simply too tired. Maybe there's a fear that I won't have time to do what I love because baby 2 might not sleep through the night for a long while either.

3. I'm pregnant. Yes, I said that before. But with this pregnancy, I've just been doing some weird things for no real (or sensible) reason. This is my favorite explanation. Pregnancy crazy. Way to be a stereotype.

If you have managed to hang out this long, you're awesome. And probably confused. On to the projects! I'll start with the end result of both because A. He's so cute and B. You can check out faster. You're welcome!

Pajama pants were the theme for Monday. Mommy got a break on Tuesdays Crazy sock day (although for a fleeting moment I considered making dinosaur socks) and Wednesday was Wacky. I figured the hat was a little wacky. Plus, he loves hats. You can tell because of the posing :)

I don't really have much to report on the pants. I bought the Dr. Seuss fabric for this exact purpose probably a year ago. That pretty much sums up how I roll. Big plans, but not a whole lot of follow through. Thankfully, daycare came up with this event to push me along.

I used this tutorial because it was by far the easiest one I found. I only had 2 issues, which is not bad for me. 1. My son doesn't have pajama pants, so I used a pair of jeans as my template. I ended up with the first pair of pants being too small because they wouldn't go over the hips. I did not account for the fact that the jeans were smaller because they open up over the hips. 2. I was trying to save fabric (which didn't work out anyway because of #1), so I ended up a little short on the legs. But this allowed me to add the stripes to the bottom, which I thought was a cute little addition.

There's a bit more on the hat. It just took longer and I added some extra stuff. Don't mind the basting stitches I left in the brim and the top of the hat. I should have taken those out before I took the picture, but it was already 12:30 and I just couldn't wait. 

I had intended to fully use Mama Lusco's tutorial however, I didn't start until the night before Wacky Wednesday and realized last minute that I had to pay for a Scribd account to access the pattern pieces. Luckily, I found this post and sort of flipped back and forth between the two. Both are great.

The one thing I wanted to change was to add interfacing. It looked fine in both posts, but I was sure that my hat wouldn't stand without some interfacing. I bought it intending for it to circle the entire hat, but quickly found I didn't buy enough. So I did this instead.

Keep in mind, I have no clue what I'm doing, but I cut a few strips to the length of the hat and hoped they would be enough to keep it standing upright. It ended up working thankfully!

I ended up spacing them semi-evenly and sewing them on. I was going to be all lazy (or practical depending on how you view it) and use fabric glue, but as I was cleaning the dried glue out of the cap, I inadvertently dumped the glue out of the bottle. Luckily, my big fat gut was in the way so none of it spilled onto the carpet. Yay!

I also put interfacing in the brim. On the left is the felt. I just used that as a template and cut one of the same size from the interfacing. Then I cut a bit off of the inside and the outside so it wouldn't get in the way of my seams. It's craft interfacing so it's pretty thick. All in all, it took more time, but I'm glad I used it. The hat stood pretty well on its own. I might have cut one more strip on the hat itself and not made them as long as I did. They did get in the way of the seams a bit. 

All in all, I thought the boy looked adorable (completely unbiased opinion there) and best of all, he was totally in love with what I made for him. Makes the late nights worth it!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Wedding Shower Cake Balls

I tend to come up with big plans, end off biting more than I can chew and end up having to drop some of the ideas I had. I end up really disappointed and thinking I've let everyone down, but most of the time, no one notices or cares. Then I end up wondering why I thought my plans needed to be so complicated in the first place. I should probably stop rambling and back up.
At work, we decided to have a bridal shower for someone who has already been married for a few years. It's a long story, but she hadn't had one and we didn't want to let that happen. I decided I had to make these super cute bride and groom Oreo balls. Then, I remembered her love of red velvet cake and decided to make cake balls instead and decorate them like the oreo balls. I'm not a huge fan of red velvet myself, but I found that if you make a red velvet cake, dump a bunch of frosting in it and coat it in white chocolate, it tastes pretty amazing.

Looks pretty amazing too, right? And I haven't quite made it to the learning to take good pictures part of blogging so please don't mind the flash here. It doesn't help that I'm also super pale.

The recipe for the cake balls was pretty easy and really delicious. Especially the frosting. It was absolute perfection, I mean, look at it!

The only thing I did differently in the assembly, mostly because I'm lazy, is just dump the cake in right on top of the frosting after I mixed it up. I do enjoy a moister (is that a word?) cake ball so I wasn't worried about leaving all that frosting in there. If frosting is not your thing (what is wrong with you?!) you may want to remove some first and gradually add it back in as needed.

See? Beautiful! Rolling these babies up is the worst part because I'm so impatient. The balls I rolled got progressively bigger as I went on. Luckily, no one minds when it comes down to it. 

By the time I got this far, it was 12:20am. As I mentioned, I bite off more than I can chew and was also working on this Valentine's Day cake that same night. I emailed my team and told them I was giving up for the night, certain that they would be disappointed that they would not get to eat the brides and grooms I had promised them. They probably think I'm crazy. But as long as I keep providing the goods, who's going to say anything?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Putting off Procrastination: Valentine's Day is Done!

This is so completely unlike me. It's February 10th and I'm mostly done with the Valentine's Day treats for my son's daycare. I think I'm more proud of that fact than I am of the almost finished product :)

I saw something similar on Pinterest. Unfortunately, there was no link - only a picture (don't you hate when that happens?) so I don't know who to credit for the idea.

Hi-C didn't seem toddler appropriate so I replaced it with cereal. I also couldn't tell what the arms were made of, so I just used fruit snacks. I'm sure the kids won't mind at all. And I needed to place the spoon in such a way to keep the little guy upright on his own, so on most of these, the spoon was placed on the back, like so:

So the reason I call these "mostly" finished is that I'm not sure about the labels. They turned out really fuzzy (my fault, not the source's). I found some free printables here.  The saying is so cute "I Cerealsly want you to be my Valentine". I'm just not sure if it's worth the effort to put them on for kids who won't care and can't read. I probably will though. I'm also still debating whether or not these guys need eyes. I need to make everything I do more difficult, so I'll probably end up doing that too :)

Enjoy your Valentine's Day!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I do this for me...I think

This right here is why I started blogging :

Not this exact thing, but projects like it. This is pretty terrible. Granted, it's only one of the panels and you wouldn't pull it across the entire window like this, but still... After seeing this, I just couldn't finish the other one. What would be the point? This is the kind of thing I do all the time. Honestly, I spend more time with the seam ripper than I do sewing. The issue this time? Poor prep. I measured the window, cut out both panels, sewed one and took off to the grocery store, leaving my dear husband to put up the curtain rod. 

I should have done that last part first. As it turns out, you are supposed to put the rod a few inches above the actual window. You can see those missing inches there at the bottom of that curtain panel :)
This project was supposed to be me being productive. Me taking a break and finally attempting to finish this craft room. Productive isn't necessarily my thing. I just looked it up and I painted this craft room in February of last year. It really didn't feel that long, but the window has looked like this ever since:

I got a little off track as usual. The blog. There are so many awesome blogs out there and don't these women's lives seem SO perfect? Doesn't every baked good look amazingly delicious and every crafty project seem to be whipped up quickly with precision and ease despite the fact that there are children around? Who are these women? And why do I keep reading even though I end up feeling completely inadequate? 

So I decided to start this blog. It's not a place where perfection lives. This is where random lives. This is where just ok is sometimes as good as it gets. This is where I document my baking and sewing adventures. Adventure is kind of a nice word for me getting frustrated and crying or ripping out seams or throwing out a baking fail. But it's my adventure and I always end up learning something and this blog allows me to laugh at myself and hopefully you can too.

So there you have it. My craft room curtain fail. I hope you're feeling better about your sewing skills right about now :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bake me a Cake...

I don't know if you call it a rule or what, but one of my own baking/birthday rules - Never make your own birthday cake. My husband did offer to buy me one. Psh. I have a huge love of made from scratch cake and that just wouldn't do. I was secretly hoping he would make one for me. But the birthday came and went without cake. We did have dinner out, but I was still feeling the need for cake.
In all honesty, it really had little to do with me getting older. Sometimes, I just feel like having cake and since I don't want to seem like a fatty, I need a "reason" to make one. You think I make all those cakes for people at work because I'm nice? :)

I made a Chocolate Cream cake from this cookbook. A triple layer chocolate cake with a buttercream filling and chocolate cream cheese frosting. It was almost too much, even for me...Almost. 

I had to post the slice picture first because the chocolate frosting hides the yummy cream inside and that's such a shame. Want to know the best part of making your own cake? You don't have to frost it smoothly or evenly. Just slap that stuff on and go, it all tastes the same. When it's just for me, I don't do pretty :)

Even though it's not perfect, the boy appreciates it. He had the biggest smile when I told him there was cake. And it got bigger when I put it in front of him. That's my little guy!