Make A Soldier Smile

Before I tell you all about my day, let it be known that I have absolutely no affiliation or advertising agreements with Soldiers’ Angels.  In fact, they have no idea I am posting this.

Actually, there’s only one person who even knows me and he’s in Afghanistan right now.

And for future reference, please know that I don’t talk to anyone before I hit “publish”.

Just ask Miss MacGyver, who I texted in a panic after posting yesterday.

To let her know she’s on my blog.

That’s just how I post.

Today I put together a care package for a soldier in Afghanistan whom I have never met.

Care Package For Our Soldier

It’s really easy to do and it makes someone smile.

I like for people to smile.

Care Package Goodies

And you know me.  I always have something to say.

This is an opportunity for me to write a letter.  woohoo!

Letter To My Soldier

The post office makes it relatively painless to ship to service members.

Yea, I know!  The USPS making anything easy?

A total shock, right!?

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An Elmo Birthday

When I made this cake, I did not have a blog and never dreamed of posting these pictures anywhere.

If I could go back in time, I would have taken pictures of every step.  A picture is worth 550 words, you know?

Since I did not take pictures of every step, I will use 550 words to describe the process.

I made this cake for my daughter’s 1 year-old birthday party.

Her name (made with tip 2 blue buttercream) is blurred out on the sign for privacy.

An Elmo Birthday

The cake design is from a Wilton Yearbook.

If you follow the directions exactly from the book this is what you’ll get.

Broken Elmo

An Elmo Tiered Birthday Cake

Here’s how I made this cake:


2 tier cake, bottom layer 14 inch, top layer 12 inch.

This cake serves ~120 people, but I only needed ~70 slices, so I made the 12 inch layer using styrofoam rounds instead of cake, and covered the rounds with fondant.  You can find these rounds at Michael’s.

The bottom tier that I served was iced with buttercream instead of fondant, because I don’t care much for the taste of fondant.

Outside of America, fondant is used to preserve the freshness of cake.

Only in America do we eat fondant!  Everything that is edible should not be eaten.

Yellow Triangles Surrounding Elmo

The curved yellow pieces are made from fondant.  I cut the triangles from rolled fondant, then laid them on a round surface to dry.

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Miss MacGyver Pops Corn

Eight weeks into motherhood I met Miss MacGyver.

She had been mothering twice as long and that made her an expert.  We became instant friends and bonded over the joys of post-pregnancy hair loss, never-ending sleepless nights, baby weight, breastfeeding and surviving life after a career.

I have Alexander Graham Bell to thank for our flourishing friendship.  Motherhood is Those early days of motherhood are isolating and lonely with no sleep, nursing around the clock, exhaustion that only a new mother understands and the abrupt absence of work friends.

Miss MacGyver was always a phone call away and I dare say that our young’uns have been raised in the presence of the other mother glued to an ear.

Miss MacGyver can make a dinner for four from two beans and a mushroom.  The Mister never comes home to leftovers.  And I’m sure The Mister thinks I’m certified crazy because every time we all get together I remind him of how great his wife is and how lucky he is to be married to such a wonder woman.

And Miss MacGyver knows how to date kid-style.  Recently my girls and I went to her home for an amazing afternoon play date.  We The young’uns made homemade pizzas and while that was baking, Miss MacGyver pulled watercolors out of her ear for the young’uns to paint a special picture.

Her timing couldn’t have been better.  The last stroke of color was on the paper when the bell rang for the pizza to come out of the oven.  Just as we were setting the watercolor art aside to dry and wiping up the last of the paint, the artists had their hot and steamy pizza art ready to munch.

After lunch, as we cleared away the last of the pizza bites, Miss MacGyver whipped out an entire play-doh set complete with the play-doh factory and mentioned out loud that this was store-bought play-doh (oh, the horror!!!).

For the first time in almost 5 years, play dates are becoming more doable because our youngest kids are getting a little older with more flexible schedules.  But I still cling to the phone for sanity.  After all, who else in my life would still love me after hearing me laugh, cry and sit through my blabbin’ on about all the scary stuff.

All in the same phone call.

Only Miss MacGyver is woman enough to brave this territory!

It was during one of these random afternoon phone chats when some kids were sleeping, some kids were bouncing off the walls, some kids were mesmerized by a movie and some kids were sticking fingers into light sockets that I began hearing a popping sound.  Ummm, Miss MacGyver, what are you doing over there?

“Oh, I’m just popping some corn.  On the stovetop.”

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Meet Your Steak

Shot with my iPhone.

Holdin’ my young’un.

Remembering Yoda

In 1994 I came to California with a duffle bag and a dog.  I had $22 in my pocket because my Grandpa couldn’t let me get on a jet to a faraway land with only $2 to my name.  I am pretty sure that $20 was all he had at the time.

Yoda was still a young whipper snapper with a whole lotta spunk.

Unfortunately I don’t have many pics from his early years.

It would be another 4 years before we would meet his paparazzi.

In fact, all the pics on this post were shot by The Hub.

Except for the out-of-focus and slightly crooked ones.

Those are mine.

Yoda and I were great pals.

When I wasn’t at work, the two of us were hanging out doing everything together.

We were a pack.  Sometimes I was the pack leader and sometimes he was the leader of our pack.

OK, most of the time he was the pack leader…he just let me feel in-charge now and then.

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A Very Cherry Day

How’s everyone doing?  We had a weekend of family fun.

Our friends had the great idea to go cherry pickin’ and invited us along.

We went in search of these beauties.

Cherry Goodness

I can’t believe we are just now going cherry pickin’!

After all, The Hub and I love cherries so much, we served them with our wedding cake.

Our Wedding Cake

Our journey to cherry goodness was a very scenic one.

We drove through miles and miles of windmills.

Sticks Of Windmills

and more windmills…


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10 Things I Learned From My Father And My Husband

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there.  I love having this opportunity to write about the first man I ever loved.


He’s gone now, which is still hard for me to believe.  Lots of times I have a question that I think only he can answer.  And for a split second I almost reach for the phone.

Daddy’s spirit still lives on in how I view the world and how I interact with those around me.

He was the first man I ever trusted.

About To Walk Down The Isle

Daddy’s humility helped me to understand what is really important in life.

Daddy’s courage fueled me with tenacity.  His confidence in me as a little girl was just what I needed.  Under his watchful eye, I explored the world more freely because he was there.

When I met the man I would eventually marry, I felt an immediate connection to him after learning he had a passion for cars and loved to drive them fast.  Somewhere in my subconscience, I was looking for things he had in common with my Daddy.

As a kid, we spent a lot of our weekends at race tracks or impromptu races with other “fast cars” on country back roads.

My brothers and I stood for millions of hours huddled around hot rods with the hoods raised discussing the finer points of carburetors, the love hate relationship with fuel injectors, small blocks vs. big blocks and high-performance transmissions.

Let’s not forget shiny valve covers.

The shinier the better.

When I was a little girl, my goal in life was to rebuild a carburetor faster than a boy blind-folded.  Just like Daisy did in one episode of Dukes of Hazzard.

via Google Images

Yes, these are all influences from the first man I ever loved.

There’s only one person I know who perfected the freezing time for soda to achieve just the right icy consistency to have small flakes of ice without loosing the bubbles while taking care not to burst the bottle.

Yes, only my Daddy, with his eye for precision could pull off such a maneuver.  And he did it well.

Every detail was important.

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Home Keeping – Week End Wrap-Up

No fancy (completed) DIY projects for me to share at the moment. Just a whole lotta keeping up the home is what is happening in these parts.

Before you judge my dirty home. Let it be  known…ummm…nevermind.  Go ahead and judge.  S’ok.  I’ll still love you.

Here’s the deal.  Everyday I look into two little faces and hear tick-tock-tick-tock and I realize time is just passin’ us by and I better seize the moments.  The days are L-O-N-G, but the weeks are short and the years are even shorter.  Really, how does that happen?

I am practicing slowing down and seeing the world from the perspective of a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. They don’t seem to notice a dirty kitchen or a mountain of laundry until they are out of pink socks.

So.  I have decided I’ll work on the stench of dirty laundry and wash those crusty dishes when my kids are grown-ups. go to bed.

Remember earlier this week, when I posted about family time at Blackhawk?

While we were out livin’ it up, enjoying the beautiful weather and watching ducks, there was a messy situation brewing at home.

This is the playroom from my iphone’s perspective.

I gotta clear the memory card on the “real camera” cuz this is just plain awful!


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Summer Nights – Blackhawk Style

Today was a normal day. Went to the market for dinner ingredients. Couldn’t find curry leaves for my recipe. I became delusional and figured we could go back out for them after the young’uns had naps.

I’ll skip to the punchline.  That didn’t happen.

But it was definitely a night to remember.

Do you ever wonder what times in your life will be at the forefront of your memory when many years have passed and the day-to-day routines blend and fade?

Tonight was one of those nights.  A night that started like a lot of the others. We’re headed to a restaurant for dinner because my original dinner plans were sabotaged didn’t work out.

But little did I know a magical evening was in store.

You know the kind.

When nothing goes according to plan and then you realize that the spontaneous activity was way better than anything that could have ever been planned.

The weather was near perfect.

I’m not asking for sympathy here, people, but to put it in context, this is what we were dealing with just 2 weeks ago.

Girl In Gown In The Rain

In California, this is not supposed to happen in JUNE.

Yes, that is my young’un walking in the pouring rain in her nightgown.

It was 55 degrees.

In June.

Did I mention it was June?

At least one of my young’uns accepted the offer for an umbrella.


What do you do on a rainy day or sunny day or hot day or cold day or?… [Read more...]

Modern Meets Chic Glamour

Have you seen this Dream Home Tour from Apartment Therapy?

I am loving this style so much!  I’m sharing a few of the pics from Apartment Therapy, but there are many more in the tour, so click on over and check it out!

I’ve got decorating on the brain.  OK.  Nothing new there.

I have a too-big bedroom with some great elements and some err….not-so-great elements.  I’m definitely borrowing some ideas from this room.

I’ve been on a traditional streak for about 10+ years, and I’m feeling a little more…glamorous.

So simple: clean lines and warm color.

Check it out.

source: Apartment Therapy

Lovely pillows that would surely annoy my husband but provide tons of entertainment for my kids.

source: Apartment Therapy

I love it when the bath style and color complements the bedroom.  *Love* this wallpaper.

Makes me wanna put paper on something!

source: Apartment Therapy

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