Thursday, December 29, 2011

brain dump

- It's been way too long since I've blogged. Penny is almost ten months old now, and it's almost 2012! I could make a lot of excuses, but really I've just let a lot of other things get in the way. I really do want to keep these memories of Penny's first year though, so I'll probably be putting up some catch-up posts soon.

- I just got back to work after having almost two weeks off. Ouch! It's so great to have the time off, but it's hard to get back into the swing of things. Thank goodness for having a long weekend coming up!

- Penny is super close to walking. I see her take a step or two pretty much every day now! I'm excited for her, but I'll miss her little one-leg scoot.

- Cory and I got each other Kindles for Christmas. I'm so excited about reading more! I just finished Tina Fey's Bossypants and I just started reading Chelsea Handler's first book. I made a new feature on the sidebar to show what I'm reading, just in case you're interested.

- I also got the new Legend of Zelda game for the Wii. It's a lot of fun so far - exactly what you expect out of a Zelda game, plus flying and a little more action because the remote is the sword (aka a lot of swinging around and jabbing things). It came with the 25th anniversary CD of orchestral versions of the game songs and I can't wait to listen to it.

- Work has been busy and interesting lately. I'm starting to work on mobile apps (think Android or iPhone apps). Let me know if you need an app for something and can't find it; I might be able to make it for you!

- That's a good start for now. Just trying to stretch my blogging muscles and get back into it!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cake week part two

Well, Tuesday was pretty busy, so I just baked the last layer of the groom's cake. Then, last night I got started on building and icing the bride's cake. I started out by making the filling - strawberry cream cheese filling. Yum!

Then, I set that in the fridge and made a batch of buttercream icing. The cake is supposed to be a tan color, so I tinted the icing.

I always start by putting a smear of icing on the cake board, to keep it from slipping.

Then I take the layers out of the fridge, and one by one put them on the cake board, pipe an icing border...

and fill in with the filling...

and repeat...

until you have a filled and stacked cake!

Then I do what's called the "crumb coat," where I put a thin layer of icing on the cake to trap in loose crumbs. It makes it so much easier to go back a put a smooth, pretty coat on later! I learned my lesson with this, though: make your crumb coat the same color as the final coat, because you don't want a different color peeking out!

Two more tiers the same way, and you have one refrigerator full of cake!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wedding cake week!

On Saturday, my friends David and Margaret are getting married, and I am very excited to do their wedding cakes. I was going to start the baking on Sunday, but a snafu with the ingredients (picked up the wrong kind of vanilla) pushed it back to yesterday. I'm making a three tier round cake for the bride, and a sheet cake for the groom in the shape of his guitar.

Last night, I baked four batches of cake and refrigerated them. It came out to nine round layers for the round cake, and one (of two) for the groom's cake.

This is really the grunt work, mainly because the mixer does half but the second half must be mixed by hand. Also, I am constantly washing dishes and preparing pans for the next round.

I have to admit, it's still scary to me every time I flip over the pan to get a large cake out! I have cracked and broken several cakes doing this (though none this time, whew!).

By the time I was done with the fourth round of baking, I was beyond ready for bed. One last round tonight and then I can get to the building and decorating! The layers stay wrapped in plastic in the fridge so they stay fresh while I'm working with them.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New poll!

I'm working on a new batch of posts, but while I get my pictures going and my words flowing, check out the new poll! I know a lot of people have Halloween as their favorite holiday. Is it yours? What are y'all doing for Halloween this year? I haven't even thought about a costume - I'll be baking all week for David and Margaret's wedding! I might work on a series of posts about that. Maybe to atone for the cake series I never finished a couple of years ago.

Enjoy the fall weather! Don't get too cold!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Brain dump

Oh my gosh! Where does the time go. It has been really rare for me to have a free night anymore. I have really gotten lax on the blogging. I really want to keep a good record of these years, though, so I ought to get to it!

- Cory and I are still on the kickball team. We have a game this Wednesday, but the low that night is going to be in the 30s. Yikes!

- Speaking of kickball, I have been super accident prone lately. Injured my finger at practice, have a huge bruise on my leg (have no idea where that came from), and cut myself with a safety pumpkin carving knife! I need to be more careful, for real.

- I haven't posted Penny's seven month blog yet, but I'm working on it. She is growing so fast!

- Cory and I upgraded to the iPhone 4S last week, and I love it. It's a real breath of fresh air from the slow 3G phone I used to have. I find myself checking Facebook on it and then wondering what I can do with my spare time when I'm done, because it's so much faster!

- I'm working my way through reading the Song of Ice and Fire books. I just started the latest one today. I can't wait to finally talk about them with people! Although I find that they're long enough I have forgotten a few details from the earlier books already.

I'm not ready for it to get cold yet. I find myself looking out the window at work, being sad I'm missing the last few warm days outside. Enjoy them while you can!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Have you heard of Pinterest? It's a bookmarking site that allows you to save links and pictures from any website. It's a great way to see what ideas other people from around the world have for homekeeping, organization, parties, recipes, fashion... anything, really!

My sister got inspired by one site that consolidated a DVD collection by putting all the discs into sleeves an storing them in a decorative box. She asked me if I wanted to do it too, and we hunted down some cute boxes this past weekend.

Our DVD collection went from this...

... to this!

I made a little space on our existing bookshelf for the box, an now we can get rid of our entire DVD rack. I'm always looking for ways to save space in our house!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Six months

Penny has accomplished so much this month! She has started to crawl, is starting to sit up, and is eating a big variety of foods!

This month, we got into all kinds of vegetables, fruits, rice crackers, and puffs. She's really good at holding things, and often when we're feeding her she tries to grab the spoon or hold the bottle herself.

She's totally on the move now! She went from scooting and rolling to really moving several feet in one direction, crawling. Big girl!

She's also noticing everything around her. She pays attention to anything and everything, and has taken a special interest in Buster. She's grabbed him a few times, and he's attempted to give her kisses more than once. :-) She also totally notices if you have a bottle nearby, so we have to be a little stealthy about it to make sure she eats plenty of food, too!

Six month stats: 25 inches, 16 pounds 0.5 ounces

Friday, September 02, 2011

Happy Friday...

From a six month old girl!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Food Adventures

I tried a new food last night. Well, it isn't a new food in general, just one I haven't tried before. I've had Vietnamese food a couple of times with my knitting group, ad they always rave about one particular thing that I've always been afraid to try.


Well, last night I bit the bullet and tried it. We were at Pho Binh on Madison (highly recommend, by the way!), and I ordered the lemongrass tofu.

It's basically tofu that is cubed, fried, and tossed in seasoning and served with a side of rice. It was actually really good! It was crispy on the outside, and softer on the inside, and the main flavor was all the seasoning. Savory and a little salty and spicy. I ate until I was full, and there was a ton left over. Cory even tried a bit of the leftovers and approved.

Have you tried anything new lately? Any suggestions?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

brain dump

I got the ball rolling today on getting Penny baptized. I've been putting it off, but it's time to get it done before she gets any older. I just get nervous about doing big things like that, and standing on ceremony in public. But the church is the one I'd like her to grow up going to, and where she'll most likely go to school, so I'm excited to get her started there.

I made a Boston cream pie last weekend. I meant to take pictures, but it was probably better that I didn't. It was super ugly (all the cream spilled out around the sides) but at least it was tasty! I used the recipe from here and would probably make it again, only use less pastry cream (or try a different recipe for the cake part).

My house is slowly becoming a disaster area again. I really need to make a clean sweep but it seems like we've never been home lately. Soon! Maybe later this week.

Penny is blowing raspberries all the time now. She's still super smiley, and crawling all over the place. Pretty soon we're going to have to start using a baby gate!

Labor Day is coming up and we don't have any plans yet. What's everyone doing?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Baby snacks

We've been trying out some baby snacks with Penny. First, we tried the rice crackers (I think they look like little surfboards), and she does pretty well with them. She can even grip them to hold on to them and eat them by herself!

Then we tried the cereal puffs. We sat her in the Bumbo chair and let her try to eat them. Here's how that turned out:

Not a fan! She'll eat them but they're definitely not her favorite. We'll keep trying new foods!

Friday, August 26, 2011


I put up a poll on the right hand side of the blog. I'll try to change it about every month or so. Right now, I'd love to know what you guys like to read on here and what you'd love to read more of. Let me know if there's something you'd like to know that I'm not writing about.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sweet tooth: cake and gelato

I've been having a horrible sweet tooth lately. It seems it's always that way when you're trying to eat healthy! I made a couple of things this past week. I made the icebox cake again that I made last week, only this time using chocolate chip cookies. It was so tasty! I used Chips Ahoy, but you could use any kind of cookie, even homemade ones if you have the time.

I also got a hankering for some pistachio gelato. I got the The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto from the Borders closeout sale, and decided to give it a try. You make the plain base (it's a custard base), and chill it (and let your ice cream maker bowl freeze) overnight. Then you grind up some pistachios and blend them into the base, and put it in the ice cream maker.

Five minutes before you're done, throw in some whole pistachios. I thought this was super delicious, Linkbut I used a coffee grinder to grind up the pistachios and next time I might use the food processor to try to get a good paste. I might also exclude the whole pistachios so it's creamy all the way through. Not bad for a first try at gelato, though!

Now I have my eye on some blueberries in the freezer. Time to bake a pie?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cutting the cord, part 2

Well, we did it - we put our satellite TV package on hold to see what it would be like. The verdict? Not as painful as we thought!

Right now, during the summer, there aren't as many TV shows on as in the fall, so we weren't watching as much TV anyway. Also, the few shows we do watch are accessible through the internet. We don't have an antenna, but we haven't really needed one. Also, we're watching older shows through Netflix (like right now, Six Feet Under).

The one difference I have really noticed is how much more productive I've become. Because I can't just sit and channel surf, we've been listening to a lot more music and I've been quicker about getting little chores done here and there. It sounds boring but it's actually been really great!

I don't know that we'll get rid of pay TV for good, but it might be nice to have the summers off. We've got the hold until January so we can keep the experiment going through the fall if we want. Right now, I'm not yet in a hurry to turn it back on!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Baby giggles

Here's something to make you smile on a Monday. This is Penny and Aunt Kim having a laugh at Nana and Papa's house!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Long weekend in Baton Rouge

We spent a lovely long weekend in Louisiana last week. We hadn't been to visit Cory's family since Memorial Day weekend, so I took a few vacation days and we loaded up the car and hit the road. We drove down on a Thursday night so we would have the whole weekend ahead of us.

Friday morning, we woke up at our leisure and enjoyed the morning. We had lunch at home, and then I went out with Cory's mom and sister and Penny for a little shopping! We didn't go overboard, but we did take a picture since it was Penny's first trip to the mall. :-) We also went to Target and I picked up the ingredients to make Smitten Kitchen's icebox cake. Side note: the wafer cookies called for in the recipe have tiny bits of coconut which are only noticeable after the cookies soften. It doesn't bother me, but it does bother some people so I substituted the cookie part of Oreos.

We made it home in time to feed the baby and get everyone together to go out for dinner. We went to La Fonda's for Mexican food (a tradition). When we got home, we put Penny to bed and Cory's mom and I put together the cake, which involved taking apart a lot of Oreos. Some icing may have been consumed during the demolition - I'm not telling how much!

Saturday was another lazy morning. For lunch, we got sandwiches to go from a place called Fat Daddy's, which, it turns out, has an excellent muffaletta. Penny's cousin Steve came back from his dad's house and we spent the afternoon playing. Penny worked on her crawling skills and took a turn in the walker.

Saturday night was Cory's grandmother's birthday party at La Carreta, another Mexican restaurant and family favorite. We brought the icebox cake and it was a big hit! It was really great to see everyone. Penny wore a smocked bubble suit that Katie wore when she was littler.

After dinner Cory's parents brought Penny home so we could have a night out with friends (and I could have a daiquiri). We went to visit our friends Matt and Amanda, and Cory got to spend a little quality time with their crazy dog Rolo. He would bark and bark until Cory picked him up.

Sunday, I slept in and then Christy came over to play with Penny and go have a girls' lunch. We ate at BJ's, home of the Pazookie (a big, warm cookie in a skillet with ice cream scooped on top). It was delicious. We checked out the closing sale at Borders, where I picked up a book on making gelato and sorbet. Looking forward to trying that out! I met up with the family to have dinner at the Mellow Mushroom, and after that, plus dessert at Yogurtland, we called it a night.

Monday was the last full day in Louisiana. Cory and I brought Penny to Izzo's to meet Matt for lunch. On the way back to the house, we stopped at the Whole Foods in Baton Rouge. It's so much bigger than the one in Memphis, and it sells wine! Cory got some snack mix, and I picked up some baking chocolate, some pistachios (for the impending gelato, hopefully) and some wine. We carted it back to the house and didn't get out again that day. We grilled out for dinner - burgers, hot dogs, sausages, the works. We always eat well with family, whether it's mine or Cory's!

Tuesday, we woke up, loaded up the car, and hit the road. Penny was a little cranky at first, but slept most of the time. After a particularly long nap, she was her super happy self again. When we were almost home, we made a stop at Nonie's work to visit and see everyone.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip and we hope to go again really soon!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

FO: Baby gifts!

I knitted some gifts recently, one for a friend who just had a baby girl, and one for a friend who's having twin girls! I decided to give the twins some hats and booties, and made another of the hats for the other little girl. These were really fun and went quickly.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Making baby food

I know it's trendy, but I've always wanted to make Penny's baby food. I love to cook, and it was one of the things that really excited me when I found out I was pregnant. I already had a food processor, and I bought one of the Beaba freezing trays so I could freeze baby food jar sized amounts.

So far, the things I have learned are: steam, bake or cook the baby food plain, with no salt or butter, in as little water as possible if you have to use any. Don't overcook to keep in as many nutrients as possible. Then, put into the food processor and blend! That's it. If you used water to help cook them, you can add some back in to the food processor with the food to make it smoother and add back any nutrients that came out of the food and cooked into the water.

Then, you just put it in whatever you want to freeze it in. I used a tray made specifically for this, but many people just use ice trays. After they're frozen, you can just pop them out, put them in a freezer bag labeled with the food and date, and just grab one and heat it when you're ready for it.

End result: yummy!

Monday, August 15, 2011

FO: Maxi top/dress take 2

Here's the second of these two dresses - this one's for Katie! This one is meant to be worn more like a tunic (like with leggings) than a dress.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Five months

Five months! Wow! Penny has started to do so many different things this month! For starters, she started to roll from back to front about a week after she turned four months. Now, she rolls so much she'll roll until she gets to the couch. :-) Bye bye, playmat - hello, queen size blankets!

Also, she has really started to take to the jumparoo. We keep it in the kitchen and she smiles and bounces while we cook dinner. Her feet can finally touch the floor so she's good to go!

We've been taking her for a couple of walks here and there. I think she really loves seeing the outdoors and looking around.

She's definitely teething. Still no teeth yet, but chewing on everything and everyone, including herself!

She's started scooting around. She's been pretty strong at this already, but now we can really see how close she is to crawling. Nonie estimates she is 99% there. :-) She just needs to coordinate arms and legs.

We started solid foods right at the end of this month. First try was green beans made by her mommy! She definitely likes veggies better than rice cereal. Her first veggie was at Nonie's house with me, Cory, Aunt Kimmie and Katie!

I still love her smiles in the mornings. Happy happy all the time!

She's also getting more flexible. Nom nom nom on baby toes.

We've started letting her play with Katie's activity table. Most of the time she needs help but sometimes she can stand and play solo!

Also, we are definitely done with pacifiers. I guess she's just going to suck her thumb like mommy did. Oh well, can't throw those on the floor, anyway!

Big girl in her five months old picture!