Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Got my butt kicked this weekend!

I feel better able to write this post than I did yesterday! I was in a bit (okay, a lot) of a funk because I disappointed myself with Max's party. First because there was so much work involved in getting ready and I feel like it was all over so quickly and, as usual, I couldn't seem to slow down and enjoy it. And secondly, I barely got any photos and I'm not happy with any of the ones I did get. I don't know what happened here:
I was trying to get a pic of Max and his cake and instead got a group shot! The cake turned out yummy, but after going to five stores and not finding plastic spider rings, we had to settle for an empty spider web. Here are some lovely "after the party" pictures since I am too much of a SlackerMom to actually get any good pictures.
I was really excited about these bats that Carmen and I cut out and hung over the table. They didn't photograph very well, but in person they are pretty cool. 19 bats in all, just swayin' in the breeze. I also used Jenny's free alphabet to make the word BOO on our front door. It looks adorable and I was reminded of Oscar when I was hanging it and asking the family, "Does this look cute?"
Greasy Mummy Dogs made with refrigerated bread stick dough and hot dogs. I made these for the kids and they were a hit. For the grownups there were homemade chicken nuggets, Caesar salad and a yummy corn/sausage chowder. And lots of appetizers too like South Georgia Caviar , spider deviled eggs (Sunset magazine- so cute- thanks, Sandra!) and a veggie tray. It seemed like so much food, but it went really fast. Here's a view of the carnage:
After the food, cake and present opening, we went to our decrepit neighborhood bowling alley where I forgot to bring the camera! We bowled two games and I don't think Max broke 30 on either game, but he was smiling from ear to ear the whole time, so who cares about the score anyway? (BTW, bowling is expensive! $80 for eight people to bowl two games. Wow!) The bowling alley is decrepit, but kind of cool. It is a true midcentury relic. It's called Fireside Lanes and the lounge is so cool. Great pendant lamps hanging from a black ceiling and a big din0-rock fireplace that is probably never lit anymore. I should really get some photos for my neglected flickr group.
What I really want to learn how to do is to throw a party and not have it throw me! There was a time in my life (when I was a SAHM), that I was able to do this. Since becoming a full-time working mommy, it has become so hard. I may be holding myself to the same standards I had during that earlier period. It's hard to know for sure. Our own experience is so subjective, isn't it? I may be too hard on myself...or I may really be a slacker who is too easily overwhelmed by tasks that other women don't struggle with at all. Anyway, I will focus my memory on Max's giant grin and his obvious delight and I will try to learn ways to entertain that don't involve me getting into an absolute tizzy!
In other news, Cissette got the nicest little parcel from her benefactor, Princess Nimble-Thimble! Look at this beautiful little shawl! Thank you so much, Danielle! She loves it! Do you see the little box at Cissette's feet? Danielle made that too and a super cute card that didn't make it into the picture. This shawl is so soft and lovely. I can't wait to try it on her with her black outfit. Unfortunately, that new black skirt requires some alterations, so that might be a while! Anyway, I love it and I think you can see that little Wendy loves it too! I see squabbles ahead!

Friday, October 20, 2006

X years old!

Gosh, my birthday boy is big! He's like a giant! Of course, he was big when he was born too! When I was pregnant with him, I carried him just like I carried Carmen, out front and high. Eric had been low and wide! I was sure I was carrying a girl. And when I had my ultrasound, I was told I had a girl. I had a girl's name picked out, Grace Kelleen, and pink gingham flannel bedding in the crib. Um, surprise? Poor little baby didn't even have a name! Earl and I had to study the baby name book the night he was born, hoping something would strike us right! When I saw the name Max meaning "the greatest" I knew I had struck gold! You see, at 8 pounds, 5.6 ounces he was my biggest baby. My MAXimum capacity! And that is how Max Ethan got his name!
These are the cupcakes that went to school with him. Apparently they were a big hit. Yay! They were a little tricky to make. I learned the hard way to be very careful about not overfilling them! 2/3 and not one drop more! I can't believe that I'll only get to do this one more time. Next year he will be a sixth grader and it will be my last cupcake drop off. The problem with the youngest child is that every milestone is my last milestone and it always makes me sad. Darn them for growing anyway! I told Max he wasn't allowed to do that and he didn't listen. I think I'm going to be a terrible empty nester!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thank you, Friends!

I appreciate all the cake love left for me in comments! I came up with an idea that I thought was original, but after searching, I have found that it's already been done! I'm doing a spider web cake. Except, since I'm in the mood for spice cake, that's what I'll make! I'm thinking a cream cheese frosting and then doing the web in chocolate. I think I'll add as many plastic spiders as there are children attending and then they can take them home. If time allows, I think caramel apples would be a fun take-home favor too. Later (when I pick up my camera where I left it at home), I will show you the cupcakes I made for his class today. So cute! Today is his actual birthday. Today he is 10! Or as he says, X!
Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Too Funny Not To Share

Funny Talking Cats
Worth the click!

New Level of Gross

Kitty Litter Cake. Mmmmm! What's next? Frat house floor cake? Ugh! If I went to a party and this was brought to the table, I'd have to leave. I can barely stand to even look at this picture. Yesterday, I got laid up with a very bad sore throat. I was worried it might be strep, but I feel better today, so I'm not going to stress over it. Anyway, I decided to hunt online for a good birthday cake for Max's party this weekend. I'm not opposed to some grossness for Halloween theme stuff, but this just goes beyond anything I'm willing to make. Or eat. A few years ago when Eric turned eleven, we did a fun Nickelodeon type party with really active, gooey games. I did an awesome cake for that. I made a lemon cake in a sheet pan. Then I cut it into squares and mounded them into a pyramid shape. Then I made the filling for lemon meringue pie and tinted it with neon green food coloring. When it cooled a little bit, I poured it over my cake mound and then added gummy worms to the layers. It was very cool- kind of like a big Shrek sneeze! The coolest part was how good it tasted! I'd like to make that again in a pretty version. I am still without a cake idea for Max's party though. Any suggestions? He does want a Halloween theme.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Affordable Self Publishing: Lulu

They say that everybody has one book in them. If this is true for you, you need to see Lulu. I've just browsed there briefly, but they seem very comprehensive and suprisingly affordable. I can think of lots of uses here. Geneologists could publish family histories. Schools and charitable groups could publish recipe collections. There are even calendars. I'm not sure what I want Lulu for, but I know I want to remember it!
Monday, October 16, 2006

Fast and Easy, my A**!

I actually said that out loud yesterday, with real s's instead of the wimpy asterisks. My 13 year old Eric said, "Mom, you swear all the time now." That is so not true! He does not like swearing at all. Good boy. Carmen, however, is another matter. Bad girl. Eric loves to tell me all the things she says when I am not there to act as censor. Isn't he helpful? We're really not a swearing family. I remember when I was little, if I heard a swear word, it made my stomach feel funny. I think Eric is like that. The best non-swearer in the family is Earl who has been know to use such expletives as "Heck, Shoot, Darn!" Oh my frickin' ears!

Anyway, I'll say it again: Fast and Easy, my a**! Look at the picture I showed you on Saturday. It says it right there- Fast and Easy! Liars!

After hours and hours of sewing this is all I have to show for it. There is a lot of hand sewing to this dress. I like hand sewing, but I don't like being lied to. I expected it to take a long time until I was cutting out the pattern pieces and saw those words. Then I thought, "Great, maybe I'll be done by Monday and can wear it to work!" I remember a time when the easy patterns even told you how long it should take to make the garment. Apparently they don't do that anymore.

Okay, enough ranting! Here's a close up of the fabric:

I didn't see how "lizardy" it was when I was at the store. Oh well. I like it. So there.

Earl was much more productive this weekend. First he and some friends (and Eric) went down to Tiburon for a day of fishing. Secondly, he planted this beautiful river birch in our backyard:

So cute! (OMG, is this man fine or what?!)
Saturday, October 14, 2006


This has been a nice Saturday. Especially nice is the pot roast on the stove! This is a super easy recipe and I thought other busy moms might like this one. It does take 2-3 hours, so for me, it's a weekend meal only. When Carmen was a baby, I was a SAHM. She slept 12 hours every night and she took two 2-hour naps everyday! Needless to say, I had lots of time on my hands for crafting and cooking. Back then I would have turned up my nose at this recipe because it uses soups for flavoring, but it's very yummy and since those early days of parenthood, I take easy where I can get it!

Savory Pot Roast

Prep time: 3 min. Cook time: 3 hours (or less if you get a smaller roast)

2 T vegetable oil

3 1/2 lb beef round or chuck pot roast (I actually get about 2 1/2 lb.)

1 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 pouch Campbell's Dry Onion Soup and Recipe Mix

1 1/4 c. water

6 medium potatoes, quartered

6 carrots, cut into 2" pieces (baby carrots work fine here too)

2 T flour

1) In hot oil, brown roast on all sides. Spoon off fat.

2) Stir in mushroom soup, onion soup mix and 1 cup water. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 2 hours. Add vegetables, cover and cook for 45 min. or until fork-tender.

3) Remove roast and vegetables. Stir together flour and remaining 1/4 c. water until smooth. Gradually stir into soup mixture on stove. Cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly.

Truthfully, I never do step 3. I just serve it up and pour pan drippings over all of it. Nobody has ever complained!

Now, I am going to get to work on the dress I'm trying to make. Wish me luck! I've had spotty results with dress patterns due to my apple shape. I'm trying to be very careful and not get so excited that I speed ahead willy-nilly and then wonder why I don't like it after all! It's this pattern:

Butterick B4849. I found some beautiful poly at Hancocks for $1.95 per yard and picked up some thin woven utrasuede for the trim. I'm doing view A, but I think I'll use the sleeves from view B. The band on the cuff just seems bulky to me. If (and that's a big "if") it turns out okay, I will share a photo when I am done. Better get started!
Friday, October 13, 2006

Curiosity Killed The Cat

I was one of those children that peeked at her presents under the tree. No, I didn't just peek, I unwrapped and played with my presents. My brother Jonathan and I both did. (Hey, I see you, Jon! Stop trying to look all innocent!) We were truly awful. As the latchkey kids of a single mom, we had way too much unsupervised time in which to get into trouble. The crazy thing is, we were never caught! Even after we hopelessly tangled up our slinkies and had to act disappointed when we "unwrapped" them, Mom never caught on! I've told my children this story of my misdeeds and I always end the story with how much I regret my actions and how I wish I could go back in time and be a virtuous child.

Why am I telling you this? Because, apparently my sneaky inner child is healthy and well! I could not stand not knowing who Cissette's secret admirer is! I had to go poking about. I studied my StatCounter pages and noticed that I was getting visitors coming to me from a particular page on the Crafty Mamas forum. So, of course, I had to go register and take a look. What do I see there? A thread from dear sweet Dannielle, chronicling her good deed. It seems that the fun of the project needed to be shared and so she confided in her friends at Crafty Mamas since, you know, husbands don't always "get" the whole doll play thing. Now, this might have worked out well if only I had been smart enough to create a secret identity when I registered at Crafty Mamas, but nooooooo, I had to go and create the username "Bettsi". Within minutes of my discovery, I get a private message from Dannielle titled "Nosy much?" !!oh!! Talk about getting caught red-handed! I feel like such a heel! I ruined it for Dannielle and for me and, of course, for Cissette! Dannielle says we don't have to tell Cissette, but I don't know. She's pretty intuitive- I'll bet she knows already!

Thank you, Dannielle, for being so gracious to this undeserving peeker! I hope you'll still be my friend!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My dear Secret Admirer,

I've heard of Secret Admirers, of course, but I never dreamed that I might have one! First of all, just receiving something in the mail addressed to me was a big thrill, but then when I opened the package and found the gorgeous necklace and bracelet! Well, I was beside myself. The card is so mysterious! "My dear Cissette, Wear these in good health. -A Secret Admirer" Since I don't know who you are, I will have to thank you via my companion Bettsi's blog. Thank you so very much! I love them both and they look stunning with my turquoise floral dress and sweater and I think they are very dramatic with this new black dress that Bettsi is making for me. I see from the postmark that you are in St. Louis. What a beautiful city. Not only am I completely baffled as to who you may be, but Bettsi is as well. How I wish I could reciprocate your kindness! Until that time, please know that you have made this little dolly very, very happy. I will treasure this for a lifetime!
With kind regards,

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pretty Good Weekend

How about everyone else? I didn't have a lot of "have to do" stuff and got to do things that I wanted to do instead.

The big excitement for me was that I got my grandmother's Dressmaster threaded and running! Caroline sent me the manual and it was a big help. There were a few difference between her 1920's machine and my 1940's one, but not too many. (Thank you, Caroline!) Next I need to oil it and then I want to try out the gazillion attachments. I'm really excited to try the hem rolling attachments. They come in different sizes so that will be fun. The disappointment in my experience was in the ergonomics. The little sewing table is tiny! And in order to have my knee in the right place to use the presser bar, both of my legs end up getting jammed up against the table leg. Not very comfortable!

I also painted the inside of my china cabinet. This is the "before" picture. What a mess! All the dolls have been evicted. It was just becoming a clutter collector. Plus, it was an unfinished project. I painted the outside months ago and got one coat of primer on the inside. Now the inside is the most gorgeous shade of cream. I'm truly in love with the color - it looks like it is lit from within. Now I am in the process of bringing in my mother's lovely china (Mill Stream by Johnson Brothers-see pic below). It looks great. I'll post a pic when I get it done. It's going to be so beeeee-autiful!

Friday, October 06, 2006

I'm a little confused!

Which is really nothing new for me! My darling little Wendy came today and in my head I knew she was 8", but I was under the impression that she was like Cissette's little sister. Is this not the case? She seems a little too bulky to work as a little sister to Cissette. I should write to Kathleen and see what she knows. In the meantime, if anyone out there knows more about these Madame Alexander dolls, I would appreciate your help. She is darling, but she's not the scale that I pictured.
Thursday, October 05, 2006

Random Pics From The Home Front

I may have shown this before, but I love it so. Buddy, Buddy, Buddy. He inspires all of us to talk in the Buddy voice. (Which kind of sounds like Ed from Ed, Edd and Eddy. Buddy says things like, "Mom, let's go play" and "I like leftovers") He is such a big dog of love and I really like the way this picture is *all* hound doggy nose.
Mr. Maximus working on his homework like a good boy. A moment so beautiful and rare that it had to be captured!

Yoda, getting so big! He loves to be carried around like a baby. He is now an official grown up since he just celebrated his one year birthday.

Yoda, a couple of months ago pretending to be a big, ferocious tiger. Isn't he scary? Actually, Earl has been looking up info on the clan McComb and he found out that our family motto is "Touch not the cat, but with a glove". Weird, but it totally fits at our house where we don't even try to touch Yoda when he's in his kitty kondo 'cause he is one crazy cat!

This is Tiny Little. She looks a little evil in this photo, but she's not. She just woke up. Yes, she sleeps in this itty bitty basket. Doesn't she look like a Jack In The Box?
Pretty, pretty princess Carmen. She is so lovely. I wish she could see that, but in typical teenage fashion, she can only see the negatives and none of the positives.
I have no dolly news today and no decorating things to share, but I do have these treasures. These have been collecting in my camera for a while and they're awfully cute.
Monday, October 02, 2006

Beta Blogger- Good

I made the switch over to Beta Blogger and I have to say that I'm really happy so far. It's been about a week so I'm getting more comfortable with it. The photos upload much quicker and it's also so much easier edit the page. I just added all my links over there and it was so easy compared to my old version. It makes me so glad to see all my happy places over there on one list!

Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine!

In typical toddler fashion, little Wendy has no modesty and is gleefully naked! Is she not darling? I feel so lucky to have scored this little cutie-pie Saturday on ebay. I was in a little bidding war and was really trying not to get too excited. I refreshed the page and couldn't believe my eyes when it said I was the winning bidder! I am particularly happy that she is a brunette like her big sister who, by the way, is delighted about this turn of events. Can't wait for her to arrive!
As you can see, Cissette has a new sweater! This is from a cashmere sweater I bought last year and accidently washed and dried with the rest of my clothes! This is why I can't have nice things! I winged the pattern myself, so I was pretty amazed when it fit so perfectly. The flower is bugle beads and the vine is embroidered with regular sewing thread. Sewing the black braid on the edge was the hardest part and it doesn't do well under close scrutinization, but you're way out there and can't see the sloppy stitches!