Monday, June 30, 2008

The Dog Days of Summer

The heat took a bit longer to reach us this year, but boy is it here now - - over 100 degrees these past two days. We've officially moved down into the basement for the next couple of months, as of tonight. Steve , smart man that he is, slept in his office last night (in the basement), but silly me thought our bedroom would be just fine. It was about 90 degrees in there, and needless to say I tossed and turned until after midnight, and then smartened up and moved out to the couch where it was a little cooler. All in all I didn't get much sleep. So, the basement it is. All I can say is, I am so thankful that we have a basement to move to!

In a nutshell, here's what we've been up to:

Swimming lessons!

Playing in the mud

Swinging

Playing with the garden hose

Building with Lego's

Tackling more wood paneling. I'm starting to wonder if there are any surfaces in this house that aren't covered in paneling. This just so happens to be my "secret hiding place" - - for the past two years it has been storage space. It use to be a root cellar when this house was built over 50 years ago. Mr. Haney (the previous owner) put in a floor (and some wood paneling) and used it for storage. He use to call it "the fruit room". I'm convinced that I am going to turn it into a beautiful, peaceful, secret hideaway. Stay tuned.

Making simple, cold summer salads. This one was made with quinoa, one of my favorite things right now. Yum!

A trip (Griffin's first) to the Naughty Chair, which, it just so happens, was hand-crafted with love by an inmate from the Maine State Prison in Warren. Griffin seemed to think the Naughty Chair was a fun game - - he probably would have sat there and giggled all day if I'd let him.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Yet Another Reason I Love My Husband

When I find a kitten head and upper torso in my front yard (yes, you read that right - - bottom half of kitty was missing), he will remove it for me. Poor kitty.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Wonderful Weekend

We had a very busy weekend here, and it was wonderful. Camden had his birthday party on Saturday, Steve and I attended an Army Ball Saturday evening, and all throughout the weekend, Steve was working on replacing part of the roof on our rental property. A special thanks to Terri for watching our boys so that we could enjoy a very rare evening out among adults!

Here is the crazy cake I made for Camden. I did a little research on the internet, looking for an idea, and then kind of came up with my own cake. I used an 11x13 sheet cake for the water, baked a little cake in a cereal bowl for the island, and then for the ship I used an 8x5 loaf pan for the large part of the ship, and then a mini loaf pan for the top section of the ship. Camden so excited when he saw his cake on Saturday morning, which was the best part of all. He had a great time with his friends and cousin at his party - - they all dressed like pirates, got pirate tatoos, and did lots of running and playing.

After the party was over with, I did some quick cleaning up and then got ready for the Army Ball. It was so much fun! The food was delicious, the company was great, and it was so nice to get all dressed up and get out for a bit. I even managed to get my husband (and my brother-in-law!) to dance with me...gasp!

I love seeing a man in uniform...this one in particular is my favorite though, because this is what Steve wore when we got married.

My lovely sister-in-law, Kasey, and my brother-in-law, Rex (Steve's brother, as if you weren't able to tell!). I like Rex's hat.

There's a bit of ceremony involved in these Army functions...some of it funny, like how all of the soldiers stand on their chairs during the toasts, and then some of it very sobering, like the ceremony remembering prisoners of war, and soldiers who have been lost in combat.

Here's Steve, toasting the non-commissioned officers

I think the absolute best part of the entire weekend, though, was this:
video

Steve took the training wheels off Camden's bike, and that was that!
Happy Monday, everyone!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Recent Find

I found this sweet porcelain Holly Hobbie plate at the thrift store the other day, for 50 cents. It says, "A good example is the best teacher". Very Holly Hobbie-ish. I loved it right away, because I adored Holly Hobbie when I was a little girl. I wish I had saved my Holly and Heather Hobbie rag dolls from back then! The only thing wrong with the plate was that it was just begging to be piled high with brownies.


There. That's much better.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sweet Boy!

My sweet Camden is 5 years old today! He is on a total birthday high as I type, and I'm pretty sure he won't be coming down from that any time soon. I made him a simple little cake for all of us to share tonight, but will soon start working on a massive pirate cake for his birthday party on Saturday.

I recently saw this idea for a Birthday Table, linked at my new favorite blog, at MomAdvice.com. I thought it was a neat idea, so I set one up for Camden last night, so it would be the first thing he saw when he came out of his room this morning. I kept it pretty simple, but I can see that it will be quite easy to go totally overboard, decorating with balloons, mementos, etc. each year.
Camden had fun opening his gifts this morning, and is still busy playing, as I type. Soon we'll head for Boise to pick Daddy up, and then the four of us are off to the theater to see "Kung Fu Panda". Happy Birthday, Camden...we love you so very much.
A new guitar from Nana and Papa
Riley always comes running when he hears wrapping paper tearing...
Meanwhile, Griffin rides Dandy the Rocking Horse, as only Griffie can

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

So Long, Fire Truck Bed

We bought this bed for Camden back in 2004, right before Steve deployed to Iraq. At the time, I thought it was probably one of the most impractical purchases I'd ever made. As it turns out, it was actually one of the best. Camden has loved that bed since the moment it came into the house. He started sleeping in it at the tender age of 18 months, and not once did he ever try to "escape" during the night, or at nap time (Griffin, on the other hand, will be two in just three short months, and the thought of putting him into a toddler bed makes me want to run for the hills! That boy will probably be in a crib until he is at least five, and handcuffed to it, at that!). Anyway, today marks an important transition for Camden - - moving into a Big Boy bed. Technically, it should have happened quite some time ago, because he is very tall, and has been folded up in that little toddler bed for months, poor thing. Last week I hit the jackpot on Craigslist, and scored two matching rock maple beds. I picked them up over the weekend, and they are just beautiful. They are around 70 years old. I bought them from a woman who told me that her two boys had slept in them throughout their childhood, and before them, she and her sister had slept in them, and before that, her mother had slept in them. When she told me all of that, it made the beds even more special. Bright and early this morning, the furniture store arrived with a new mattress and boxspring. The boys and I put Camden's new pirate bedding on his bed, and it has been the most popular spot in the house ever since.

The bed is very high, but of course Griffin has already figured out how to climb up on it, and as you can see, stand up. I predict a bruise or two in his future. Hopefully no broken bones, though! I just put Griffin down for a nap a few minutes ago, and he was determined that he was going to sleep on Camden's new bed. I'm thinking I will need to get some toddler rails and set Griffin's bed up sooner, rather than later. Maybe someone makes some teeny-tiny restraints? As for the fire truck bed, I will be posting that on Craigslist in the next day or two, in hopes that it will make another little boy as happy as it made Camden.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cherry Festival Happiness

We were pretty busy with the Cherry Festival in town last week! We managed to go every day, even if only to wander around for a few minutes. Camden mostly wanted to watch the rides, and on Saturday, he used his day pass and rode until he practically had a meltdown!

Brendon (Camden's good buddy) and Camden, on Camden's favorite ride

Unfortunately, Steve was still at Annual Training so he missed all the excitement this year. My dear friend Terri's husband Stevan was so good to Camden, and took him on some rides, which really made Camden's day. Thanks, Stevan!

Stevan, Camden, and Hayden tackle the big slide

Banzer and Griffin, watching the parade

Steve arrived home from AT just in time for the parade. I'm pretty sure the last place he wanted to be, after two grueling weeks of Army craziness, was roasting to death on the sidewalk, watching a parade. However, in true Steve fashion, he was a trooper. We had a few minutes of panic when he realized his wedding band was missing. Luckily, our sister-in-law found it in the grass. Phew!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Local Goodness

Lots of excitement in our little town today...the annual Cherry Festival began this afternoon, and it is literally a block from our house, so you can imagine the state poor Camden has been in since he woke up. Plenty of carnival rides, games, fried dough, corn dogs, lemonade, etc.. Seeing Camden today reminds me of how excited I use to get when the Topsham Fair would come to town. He has a day pass for rides, but I think we are going to save it for Saturday, when he can go with his friends. The parade is Saturday night, and we love to go to that every year, too. I don't know if Steve will be back from Annual Training in time for any of it, so that's a bummer (for us, anyway). I decided not to enter the Cherry Bake-Off this year, and neither did my partner in crime, Terri. She has a good reason, being that she is extremely pregnant right now. My only reason is that I couldn't really find a recipe that I was really excited about. Maybe next year. For now, we'll just continue to ride on the wave of our win last year!

I'm also very happy that the Farmer's Market has started back up - - there aren't a lot of vendors yet, but today I got some delicious radishes, some lovely peonies for my kitchen table, and a loaf of chocolate cherry brownie bread. I love the fresh produce, and I love being able to support local farmers and craftspeople. This year, I have just a teensie little garden, with tomatoes, red bell peppers, and green bell peppers. Since this is my first try at gardening, I didn't want to go too crazy. Now, I'm wishing I'd planted more! Luckily, the Farmer's Market is just a couple of blocks from here, each Wednesday and Saturday.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Beautiful Boys

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of watching my nephew, Banzer, for the afternoon. The boys had a great time playing together, although Griffin was a little put out at having to share his mother. This makes it very obvious to me that the boy needs to get out more. Camden had daycare for three years, so he didn't really have that problem. Anyway, we were busy all afternoon, swimming, painting, cooking, and just acting silly.

I made a pizza crust and had the boys make the pizza. This was taken right before Griffin whacked Banzer up side the head with his saucy spoon. Banzer wasn't having any of that, so he whacked Griffin right back. I stepped in, wiped their heads off, and they went right back to their pizza-making.
Yes, I'm aware of my weed problem. Haven't gotten around to that yet...

I'm also aware of my lawn problem.

Camden had a roly-poly crawling around on his arm here

Yes, that is a dog biscuit. No, he never actually ate it...just sort of licked it a few times. Don't act all shocked - - this is Griffin we're talking about. You should be use to this by now.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

What We've Been Up To

I'm pretty sure the boys (ahem...Griffin) wore out their welcome with Steve approximately 2.7 seconds after we arrived to visit him yesterday. Although Steve has been holed up with a bunch of stinky Army men for the past week, working extremely hard and not sleeping much, he quickly became desensitized to Griffin's insanity. The minute we arrived at Steve's office, Griffin wasted no time and immediately started pounding on computer keyboards, upending random items, and generally driving his father crazy. I think I saw a blood vessel bulging on Steve's forehead as we were on our way out the door. Needless to say, I'm pretty sure Steve's had his fix of us until he returns home next weekend.

The boys and I are enjoying a lovely Idaho day today - - I'm feeling super ambitious and have gotten tons of laundry, cleaning, and general organizing done. I've mowed part of the yard and hope to finish the rest, as well as the rental yard, tonight. We still have groceries to buy this afternoon.

Tomorrow we are heading for Boise to check out a nifty-looking set of beds that I found on Craigslist. I'm so excited about it, and I hope that they are truly in good condition. Camden is in desperate need of a big boy bed, but after visiting a local furniture store earlier this week, I was a bit appalled at the price of a simple twin bed. So, I've been perusing Craigslist, and am in hopes that something will pan out relatively soon. I took Camden to KMart the other day and he picked out some pirate bedding, so he's pretty excited for a new bed.

It is becoming clear to me that Griffin may end up out-talking his big brother. It is funny to think that he really wasn't saying much of anything back in March - - maybe 5 words or so - - and now he talks all day long. He's even stringing some words together now, and nearly killed me when he said, "I wuv you, Mummy" a couple of days ago.

Camden had his physical for Kindergarten earlier this week, and he is doing great. He is very tall for his age, has super-powered eyesight (just like his father!). He managed to crack the doctor up when he informed him that he is "obsessed with ships." See evidence, below:

He's still enamored with the Titanic, and frequently builds his own version, with Legos.
As for me, I am nursing a sinus infection - - my contribution to the seemingly never-ending cycle of illness in this house. Nothing some antibiotics won't cure, I'm sure. Tonight I plan to go to bed early, with a good movie. I have to hurry up and watch all of the movies I've been wanting to see, that Steve won't watch with me!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Man Pleasin' Cookies

Steve called today to let me know he'd have a one-hour window tomorrow when the boys and I could come out and see him (he's away at Army annual training, so we haven't seen him since last week). Knowing that he's been getting little to no sleep, he's stressed, and he misses his boys, I knew I needed to whip up a batch of his favorite cookies to take to him. He claims that I lace them with an addictive chemical, because he cannot seem to stop eating them, whenever they are in the cookie jar. These cookies are nothing more than two great tastes that go great together - - chocolate and peanut butter. Oh, and they stay nice and soft, even days later. Try them. You won't be disappointed!

Steve's Favorite Cookies

1/2 cup shortening
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, cream together shortening, brown sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Stir in egg, milk, and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the peanut butter mixture until well blended. Form into balls, about the size of a large walnut shell, and then flatten slightly with your hand, after you place them on the cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Feelin' the Love

I really love blogging. It is so nice to be able to have somewhere to write and to be somewhat creative. The best part, though, is that people actually come here to read what I have to say. I get so darn excited when someone leaves a comment - - I practically get up and do a cartwheel whenever I see a new one! So, thank you to all of you take the time out of your day to check in with me. You are the best!

Imagine my excitement to find out that I'd been given two blog awards in the past few days...that is a first for me! I know, I know - - some of you seasoned bloggers get these ALL the time, and maybe I'm a nerd (okay, I am a nerd), but I've never gotten one so I just about burst with excitement.
The first one came from my Aunt Jean, who blogs at Molly's Folks Down Under. She started her blog to chronicle a recent trip that she and my Uncle took to Australia, and has continued writing. You will find her blog chock full of beautiful photos, gardening, cooking, and lots of crafting. Thanks, Auntie J.!

The second one came from my cyberfriend Jen, over at Jennifer Has Spoken. I love Jen's blog because she tells it like it is, and when I check in on her blog each morning, it feels like a little visit with an old friend. She also has a great photo blog called Say Click, so check that out, too. Thanks, Jen!

Now, the rules say that I now get to bestow these awards upon some of my favorite bloggers! I think I will bend the rules a little and just do 5, rather than 15. Griffin only naps for 2 hours, you know! Some are from my blogroll, so if you haven't already paid them a visit, please do.
The first "Make My Day" award goes to Kate at Here's What I'm Thinking. Kate and I have known each other since grade school (gulp!) which means we have known each other for a long, LONG time. The woman has touched Patrick Dempsey, people! Kate's blog is relatively new, and she is such a good writer. Hey Kate - - I know you are kinda busy, working full-time while raising children and all, but you need to blog more often so I don't feel like I am stalking you, waiting for a new blog post. Thanks.
Next, I'd like to send an "I Love You This Much" award over to my Aunt. Reading her blog makes me feel a little bit closer to Maine. Aunt Jean, you need to do a post about your Two-Egg Sponge Cake sometime. Hmmmm. Now I need a snack...
Now, another "Make My Day" award goes to Cocoa at Chocolate on My Cranium. Cocoa inspires me in all kinds of ways, and takes the most beautiful pictures. I just love your blog, Cocoa.
Next to "Make My Day" is Andrea over at Punk Rock Mommy. Andrea is a 37-year old mother of six, who is battling Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Her blog is raw, honest, and life-altering. Please take a moment to learn about Andrea, and about IBC. Andrea, so many of your words have changed the way I look at life. You are an amazing woman and a wonderful writer.
Finally, an "I Love You This Much" award to Lisa at Out of the Slush Pile, and Joy at El Mundo de Mamacita. Lisa's blog is the perfect mix of updates on her family, combined with her work as a freelance writer. I love being able to read about what is going on in her life, as well as her work. Joy is my "oldest" friend here in Idaho, and although we only live about 30 miles apart, our busy lives keep us from seeing each other as often as we'd like! So, I get to keep up on what she's doing through her blog. She also has lots of "green" tips, and cooking, too. Hope to see you soon, Joy!
Another blog I'd like to mention is Cake Space...oh my goodness, I love, love, LOVE to look at all the cakes on this blog. I happened upon it a few days ago, but then forgot to bookmark it. Luckily, I found it again!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different...

I came across this video yesterday, and it has been cracking me up ever since. Enjoy!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Cakes

I've been thinking a lot about cake decorating recently, and how I'd like to brush up on my skills and start making cakes again. This is my own wedding cake, that my mother and I made, back in 2001. I've only made one more wedding cake since then, in 2002, for my dear friend Joy. Life got pretty of busy after that, and I kind of stopped making cakes all together, with the exception of birthday cakes for my boys. Lately, though, I've been reading all sorts of cake decorating blogs, and I am just amazed at the beautiful and unique cakes that people create. I stumbled upon a blog last week, written by a homemaker, and her cakes were amazing. I'm really kicking myself though, because I failed to bookmark it, and of course, I can't find it again. Oh well.

I originally took cake decorating classes about 16 years ago (gulp), and a lot has changed since then. Decorating techniques are so much more elaborate and artistic now, and I really would like to learn them. I found some Wilton classes at Michael's in Boise, so now I just need to get myself signed up.
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