Dial 9-1-1. We Have a Fashion Emergency.

I’ve never been what one would call stylish.  I “dress up” for church, anniversaries, dining out, etc. but at home it is (or was)  strictly yoga pants and a t-shirt.  Shoot, I even wore them to the grocery store.  It was okay because yoga pants and a t-shirt are kind of the official uniform of the stay-at-home-mom.  I also didn’t mind wearing the hair in the messy bun/ponytail.  All. The. Time.  Now that I’m a lunch lady and it’s my only option, not so much.

Now I don’t go about in yoga pants but I’ve traded one uniform for another.  Now it’s scrubs that are two sizes too big for me.  Nobody told me I was supposed to go smaller for the things.  I don’t wear make-up as it would melt off with the sweat.  My glasses are always dirty, foggy with steam, and sliding down my nose.  I limp because I have hematoma on the bottom of my foot.  Add to that black, non-skid tennis shoes and a hair net and you’ve got a big, sloppy, limping, hot mess.

Did I mention that this week Mount Vesuvius erupted on my face?  And that I got a Cindy Crawford-esque beauty pimple to go along with it?  Acne was bad enough as a teenager.  But now?  What is that all about?

I’ve noticed that Molly has stopped coming over to see me when she goes through the lunch line.  It’s probably because it’s not new anymore.  But I can’t help wondering if it’s because I’m a little embarrassing.  I’m embarrassed of myself.

What am I supposed to do about it?  The scrubs, shoes, and hair net can’t be helped.  I’ve also ordered contacts and decided to start wearing eyeliner.  Beyond that, I’m clueless.  Does anyone know of some super make-up that won’t slide off my face?  Some cute hairstyles that will fit under a hair net?

I need help!  Surely, I’m not destined to look like this for the next 8 months?

See that mole? That's where Mt. Vesuvius resides on my face.

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An Interview, Some Cake Stuff, and a Dancing Toddler

It’s Monday and I hate Mondays.  So, how about a little fun and some cake?

First, I did an interview for Stewie over at This Little Thing Called Life.  For those of you who don’t know Stewie, doing this interview was a risk.  He’s…satirical, to put it nicely.  He absolutely demolished Apostle Jack who, admittedly, deserved it.  What made it worse (or better) is that Apostle Jack was clueless. (See here and here.)  I didn’t want that happening to me.  But he was kind.  He only called me a racist arsonist.  I suggest you check it out.

Second, cake.  People love cake.  I get a lot of questions about my cakes.  (For cake photos, see here and here.)  The number one question is, “How do you get the icing so smooth?”

It’s not that hard.  The secret is “crumb-coating” or “dirty icing.”  Basically, you get the smallest amount of icing possible and spread it really thin all over the cake, not caring whether there’s crumbs or not.  Be sure to fill in all the holes and cracks with icing.  It’ll look like this when you’re done.

You let the icing “crust.”  That can take up to an hour, but when the icing is hard, the crumbs will be sealed in.  You’re now ready to ice the cake for real.

This time, put a butt-load (technical term) of icing on top of the cake and start spreading it with a spatula, pushing the icing down the sides.  Then ice the sides, making sure not to dig into the crumb coat.  Add extra icing as necessary.  Then use the flat side of a plastic or silicone bowl scraper to smooth the icing, beginning with the top and ending with the sides.

A turntable makes this easier, but it’s not necessary.  Again, let the icing crust.  If there are still some cracks, place a piece of paper or a paper towel on the icing and smooth over it gently with your hand.  And voilà, a smoothly iced cake.

The next question I get is, “Do you use cake mixes?”  The answer is yes, but with modifications.  Here’s the recipe.

Doctored Cake Mix

Ingredients:

1 box Duncan Hines Cake Mix (they taste better)
Oil and Water called for on the cake box
4 Eggs
1 cup cake flour or 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1/2 tsp. baking powder + dash of salt
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla (optional)
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup cocoa (If making a chocolate cake)

Directions:

1.  Mix cake mix, flour (or flour mixture),  sugar, and cocoa (if applicable) in large bowl.
2.  Add water, eggs, and oil.
3.  Mix on low-speed until all ingredients are incorporated.
4.  Beat on med-high for 2 minutes.
5.  Add sour cream and mix on low until blended.
6.  Bake according to package directions.

Yield:  Makes (3) 9-inch layers.

Tip:  Grease cake pans with shortening and flour or use baking spray with flour to ensure easy release.  Let cake sit in pans for 10 minutes before releasing.

There are some cakes I would never use mixes for.  Carrot cake, Red Velvet, and Sour Cream Pound Cake should always be made from scratch.  I do have the recipes for these but they are closely guarded family secrets.  If I told you what they were, I’d have to kill you.  Or marry you or force you to marry someone in the family.  Trust me, you don’t want the recipes that bad.  (Kidding, for any family that might be reading this.)  No, I’m not.

The last thing I want to leave you with is a cute little video of a dancing baby.  In case you haven’t seen enough of those in your lifetime.  I know I have, but this one is different because it’s MY dancing baby.  And like the excellent mother that I am, I happen to think she’s the cutest baby in the world.  And you will, too, even if you won’t admit it.

Blog Awards. Thank You!

I didn’t have a lot of trophies when I was young.  I had ONE really impressive one.  Our cheerleading squad won 3rd place for the ENTIRE STATE.  I was 11 and the team was the Overdale Chiefs.  I still had the little outfit until it went up in flames.  I kid you not, it had a little sailor’s flap neckline.  Very old-fashioned.  Here’s a picture.  Unfortunately, the only one I could find was on a dog.  Picture this, but red, on little girls with super curly pigtails.  So cute.

Those days are long gone, but I did win a couple of blogging awards recently.

The first one I want to accept came from Lafemmeroar.  She passed it on to me…3 months ago. (See here.) I feel so bad that I haven’t acknowledged it yet, but she being the cool crazy chick that she is, will understand and take no offense.  The other award I won is the Versatile Blogger Award.  I was given this award by Rebekah Loper, Writer.

As with all awards, there are certain things one must do when honored.  Both of these award have the same requirements.  As they are pretty demanding, I’m only doing the process once.  So the bloggers I choose get double awards!  Yay!

1.  Thank and link to the person acknowledging you.

Thank you so much, Lafemmeroar and Rebekah!

2.  Share 7 random facts about yourself.

1.  I am jealous of the Little Caesar’s employee whose job it is to stand on a busy street corner, hold a $5 pizza sign, and dance like a maniac.  I would kill for courage like that. And his dancing skills.

2.  I don’t eat anything gelatinous.  No Jello and no mousse of any kind.  Especially salmon mousse.  *shudder*  Disgusting.

3.  I never remember my dreams (except when I’m pregnant.)

4.  I love mopping.  My dream home would have a mop sink in the floor and one of those mop buckets they use in restaurants.

5.  I am afraid of mirrors at night.  I know that I’m going to look in one and there will be something scary staring back at me.  And I don’t mean me with bed head and puffy eyes.

6.  I don’t let the food on my plate touch.  If there is something runny or juicy, it gets its own plate.

7.  I like to use big words like “prestidigitation” and “ostentatious” because I think it makes me sound smart.  Of course this might work better if I actually used them correctly.

3.  Pass the award on to 15 deserving bloggers.

Personally, I think 15 is a little ridiculous, but this is the rule and I follow rules.  Not that it’s hard to come up with 15 great bloggers, but it’s a little time consuming to link to all these great folks.  Anyway, here it goes:

1. MaximsMadness  This is one weird dude.  I love weird.  It’s fantastic.

2. Brown Road Chronicles  A funny guy who occasionally writes something serious, just to keep you on your toes.

3.  This Little Thing Called Life  This Brit likes to poke fun at people and call them funny little names like “Arsonist.”  He’s also goes on a lot of really bad dates.

4.  224   This inspiring man is on a journey to a healthier lifestyle and He Can Do It!  He is doing it.  He’s awesome.

5.  Dribbling Pensioner  British.  Old.  Forgetful.  Troublemaker.  Questionable punctuation.  Charming.

6. Zishaanshafi A little politics, a little philosophy, a little of everything. He also included me on his “List of Sucky Bloggers.”  An honor, truly.

7.  Invisible Mikey  Movies, Music, Art of all kinds.  I never leave Mikey’s blog disappointed and rarely without an epiphany.  He’s not the Awards type, but he deserves a ton of them.

8.  The Problem With Young People Today Is… @  http://crabbyoldfart.wordpress.com/  I had to post his link just because it describes him perfectly.  He’s not the Awards type either, but oh my.  He is fantastically crotchety!  And brilliant.

9.  She’s A Maineiac  A great writer who’s willing to show us her 6 AM self while making fun of her accent.  I’ll have to drive up to Maine so she can tell me to “pahk the cah in the yahd”.

10.  Rebekah Loper, Writer  She inspires me.  She’s also incredibly sweet.  Love her.

11.  JM Randolph, Accidental Stepmom  Step-mother to four children, stagehand, writer, hilarious.  She’s a bit of a crier.  🙂

12.  La Plume Noire  Very talented photographer and writer.

13.  Love Versus Goliath  An amazing woman with an even more amazing story.  She fought for the partner visa that would reunite her with her husband and children and won!  It’s a joy to see her adjust to a large household filled with lots of love and rice.  😉

14.  Mixin’ It Up: Goulash Style   A Southern mama to 4, a great lady, and she happens to be allergic to penicillin.  Her recipe for Southern “Gonlash” sounds fantastic.  Which reminds me, I need to try that when the weather cools off a bit.

15.  Nylon Daze  A Londoner living in NYC.  Photographer, writer, political commentator, and a genuinely nice person.  She insists we could make my blog/life into an award-winning screenplay.  She even picked out a producer.  (Ahem, Raincoaster, you were the lucky winner.  Call me.  We’ll do lunch–via twitter, of course.)

16.  Bonus blogger:  Paroxysm of Outrageous Random News (P.O.R.N.)  Emily illustrates her hi-larious posts with cute pictures she draws using Paint.  It’s impressive.

4.  Contact the winners.  

That might have to wait until tomorrow.  My hands hurt.

So, there you have it.  I hope you check out some of the blogs above.  Believe me, you won’t be sorry.

NaNoWriMo: Are You In?

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) begins on November 1.  What is NaNoWriMo?  Basically, it’s writing a 50,000 word novel in exactly 30 days.  Basically, it’s crazy.  And I think I might give it a try.

Why on Earth would anyone want to do this?  Well, if you’re like me, you’ve read a lot of novels and found yourself wondering, “How in the world did this ever make it into print?”  You think to yourself, “I can write better than that.”  Then you smugly go about your life, resting in the knowledge you could write a novel.  If you felt like it.  If you had the time.  If you knew the right people.  If…

Well, this is an excellent opportunity to write that novel we all know we’re capable of writing.  Expectations are already a little low.  Come on, 50,000 words in 30 days?  You know that a lot of what your writing will be garbage, filled with unnecessary adverbs and long philosophical passages that seem brilliant when you’re churning them out at 2 am but are ridiculously cliché and downright dumb when you read them after a good night’s sleep.  But I think that’s part of the fun.  Who knows?  You might find a new direction in the meanderings of your mind that you can actually use later.  When November 30 is over and you start the excruciating process of rewrites and vicious edits.

This is directly from the NaNoWriMo website:

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

Sounds good to me.

The best part about the whole thing is that you’re a “winner” if you accomplish the 50,000 words in 30 days and you get a PDF certificate and a nifty badge for your blog.  Normally, I’m not a “you participate you get a trophy” kind of gal, but if you accomplish this, you are definitely a winner.

I know one person who participates in NaNoWriMo.  Rebekah Loper, Writer, is where I first heard of NaNoWriMo and instantly thought of “Nanu, Nanu” from Mork and Mindy (which I now say in my head every time I see the word NaNoWriMo.)  I hope she can give me some advice before I start this thing.  I’d like to know what I’m getting myself into.

So, what about you?  Do you think you could do it?  Do you want to join me and the 200,000 other crazy people who think they can pull this off?  I’d love to do this with someone.  It might be fun.

I know I’m not the only one who thinks they can write a novel but has always been too scared to try.  This is the perfect opportunity to do so and probably the most stress-free way to do it.  So what if it stinks?  You only had 30 days to do it.  Maybe, just maybe, it will be good.  Really good.  Potentially good. Kind of good.  Whatever.  What have you got to lose?

It’s now or never.  Join me?  

A Week of Surprises

My blog has been too serious lately.  I need to lighten up a bit and what better way to do that than to do another cake post?  Everyone loves cake.  As luck would have it, I’ve done four cake projects this past week–4 cakes and 24 cupcakes.

The first cake was for a little girl’s 8th birthday.  She wanted a blue, zebra-striped cake. Surprisingly, this was the second request in less than a week that I had for a blue zebra print cake.  Zebras are very cool.

The next two cakes were for a little boy’s 1st birthday.  As we are all apt to do, these parents want to instill a fanatical love for their favorite college football team into their boy as early as possible.  So, Mr. Saks, you got 2 super cute Auburn University Tigers Cakes!

My husband suggested I do a “joke” University of Alabama Crimson Tide cake to go along with these.  I didn’t think Saks’ mommy and daddy would think it was very funny. (For those of you who have no idea what this is all about, see here.)

Surprisingly, these awesome people threw in a little extra $$ when I delivered the cakes.  To quote Saks’ super nice daddy, “You don’t charge enough.”  I’m not arguing with that.

The next cake project was 24 cupcakes for my son to take to school.  He turned 6 on Friday.  Un-be-liev-able.   I didn’t take a picture of those because they were just plain cupcakes, sprinkles, and a football ring stuck in the middle. I did, however, take a picture of him in his birthday hat they gave him at school.  He wore it all day Friday and Saturday–even in the Wal-Mart,  to my 12-year-old’s embarrassed horror.

He is beautiful. Not just handsome. Beautiful.

And a little silly. Love that missing tooth!

Surprisingly, my favorite part about these pictures is that he still has chocolate from the cupcakes on his face.

Now for the biggest surprise of the week.

I am horrible at planning my kids’ birthday parties.  We always have the party a week after the actual birthday, partly because my kids have inconvenient birthdays.  (Spring Break, 2 days after the 4th of July, and the first month of summer–when everyone is travelling.)  Mostly because I’m a bad mom procrastinator.   This birthday, my 12-year-old son took matters into his own hands.

He wanted to make it a surprise party.  He picked a date and time, designed the invitations, printed them, handed them out, and even designed the cake.  More than that, he sketched the Sonic characters on the cake for me to fill in.  Folks, he did this on buttercream icing with a paintbrush and liquid food coloring.  And that is hard!  It requires a light hand and a whole lot of patience.  I was blown away that he put so much into it.  Normally, he just calls Billy an idiot, punches him, and tells him to go away.

Finished Cake

Awesome first cake, don’t you think?  Yes, those are Baby Girl’s fingerprints in the border. She loves “tate” (cake.)

Surprisingly, the secret of the surprise birthday party wasn’t leaked.  That is a small miracle, considering those keeping the secret were under the age of 12.  I simply took Billy to the Publix and waited for everyone to arrive, turn off the lights and hide.  When we got there everyone yelled “Surprise!” and Billy jumped and made the best surprised face ever.  Of course, no one got a picture of it.  A head in the way, delayed digital camera, etc.  So we had him recreate it.

As you can see, he was too excited to sit still during the re-creation.  This is surprise in motion.

Just to give you an idea of what life with this devilishly cute little boy is like, I have one small story from that trip to Publix with my beautiful, silly Billy.

Billy shares my love of Mumford and Sons.  Bless him, he’s the only one.  Well, he has one song he adores.  We were playing it in the car and he was singing along.  Then, after one line, he stops and says, “That is gross!”

The line was, “All my bridges have been burned.”  I was confused.  I explained, in 6-year-old terms, what that phrase means.  He looked at me for a second, brow furrowed, and then his face lit up, as only his can.

“Oh! I thought he meant these.”  He patted his pants and guffawed.

The dear lad thought the line was, “All my britches have been burned.”

Not surprisingly, that moment has come to my mind a lot today and every time I giggle and get tears in my eyes.  Both for the humor and the absolute preciousness of it.  Though I still don’t understand what is gross about it.  Then again, I’m not 6.

Happy Birthday, Billy!

It Just Doesn’t Add Up

I’ve got good news and bad news.  I think I’ll start with the good news.

I’m a member of The Mom Pledge Blog whose mission is to “eradicate cyber bullying among moms.”  Apparently there are some mean mommies out there who take pleasure in criticizing, demeaning, and hassling their fellow moms.  As if being a mom isn’t hard enough without dealing with that kind of crap from somebody who should know better.  I’m not a “cause” kind of gal, but this is one I support wholeheartedly.  So I took The Pledge.  If you’re interested, click the link, take The Pledge, and grab a button to display on your blog.

The first weekend of every month, The Mom Pledge Blog hosts a Blog Hop.  Bloggers post links to their posts and everyone who posts visits each others blogs.  It’s a great way to meet other bloggers.  The remaining weekends of the month,  one of the links if highlighted.  This weekend, it’s mine!  So, go on over to The Mom Pledge Blog and check it out!

BWS tips button

Now, for the bad news.

Things are not going well.  In fact, things are sucking.  Big time. (Sorry for switching gears so fast)

Our house is on the verge of collapse.  Well, maybe that is an exaggeration, but that’s what it feels like.  We’ve been here 2 months and I’ve already had to pay a plumber to clear tree roots out of the pipes and an A/C guy to recharge the leaking central air unit.  The outdated electrical wiring has killed 3 refrigerators. (Well, the third one works (badly) sometimes.  I can’t store meat in the freezer because it quits working about 3 times a day.)  The lights dim whenever anything is turned on.  My coffee grinder dims the lights in the kitchen.  There is a leak of some sort that wets the carpet in front of the bathroom.  Today, our toilets burped water all over the bathrooms before completely emptying themselves of water.  And there was a really loud noise coming from the pipes–it sounded like the house was about to achieve lift-off.  It needs some serious paint.  I shudder to think what’s going to happen next.

http://morguefile.com/license/morguefile/My job, which I do like (the kids, the ladies I work with, the order of it) is costing us money.  The expenses of daycare, gas, and other minor work-related things per month is almost $250 more than I make a month.  Granted, we’ve saved more than that in other areas by moving, so our budget is about the same as before.  But, if I stayed home, we’d have extra money that we could be saving for a down payment on a home of our own.

We want our own house and we want to move back to the town we lived in before.  We are active in our church and we are 35 miles away.  We love our church family and need to be closer.

There’s also the issue of sick kids.  I worked 1 day and 2 hours this week because my daughter was sick.  She had strep throat and missed 2 days.  She went back to school and was only there for 2 hours before she vomited.  She wasn’t really sick.  Her antibiotic had upset her empty stomach, but there’s a 24 hour rule.  A student has to be vomit free for 24 hours before returning to school.  So I left work with her one day and missed the next day, as well.  I’ve been at work for just over a month and have already missed 3 1/2 days with sick children.  The flu season isn’t even here yet.

So, this whole thing isn’t working, but what am I supposed to do about it?  If I stop working, my kids won’t be able to go to the schools I want them to attend.  I do not want them going to the local schools.  I guess I could home school them, but we’ve tried that before.  It didn’t work out.  Of course, there wasn’t a real reason to do it then.  Now I have plenty of reasons–really good ones.  Like I tell them almost every day when they’re complaining about going to a school so far away, “It’s only 9 months.  We can do anything for 9 months.”  Does that include sending them to the local schools?  I’m so confused.

So, what do you think?  If you were in my place, what would you do?  I’m open to any suggestions here.  I need a different perspective.  Help me out?

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Don’t forget to go see my beautiful face over there on The Mom Pledge Blog!  🙂

I Miss My Childhood When…

I miss my childhood when

…I smell crayons.  The waxy aroma sends me straight back to elementary school.  The back to school shopping for new clothes, shoes, and school supplies.  The excitement of putting notebooks, pencils, glue sticks, and pretty folders into my brand new backpack.  Knowing I’d see all my friends again.  Not knowing it wouldn’t last–that school could be a harsh and unfair place.

Creative Commons License

…I see snow. Remembering the joy of snow days and having the biggest sledding hill in the neighborhood–until my mom leveled it off during a remodel.  Devastation.  My Aunt Gwen smearing chapstick all over my face to ward off windburn.  Avoiding her house at all costs whenever it snowed, I hated it so bad.  An act of love, misunderstood.

http://www.morguefile.com/license/morguefile/

…I feel the freezing cold water of a swimming pool as I slowly lower myself in.  Knowing the best way into the icy water is doing a cannonball as I did as a child, not a thought for the painful jolt because it only lasted a second.  Not a thought for how I looked in a bathing suit.  It was about fun.  Not appearances.

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

…I taste hot tea.  The days my mom would host a tea party for me and the girls in the neighborhood.  Getting to use my very own china she had begun collecting for me.  Feeling very grown up and sophisticated until the day it became embarrassing and babyish.

Image via stock.xchange

…I hear “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes.  At a slumber party, my friends and I danced to the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack.  Not that we knew how to dance.  We just moved to the music and laughed so hard until we fell to the floor in exhaustion.  I haven’t had a night of dancing since.  Now it matters that I don’t know how to dance.  Even if it didn’t matter,  I wouldn’t last 5 minutes without falling to the floor in exhaustion.  And in agony from severe back pain.

Image via Wikipedia

…the refrigerator breaks, the pipes get clogged, money is tight, the kids get sick or hurt, I get overwhelmed, sad, or homesick.  Sometimes, I want to be a kid again.  Carefree and happy.  When I think about childhood, I don’t remember the hard times.  I remember pure, unadulterated, sepia-colored bliss.  Of course, it wasn’t always like that, but my parents made sure it seemed that way.

And now it’s my job to do it for my own children.

So when they’re grown with children, hardships, and responsibilities of their own, they can say to themselves, “I miss my childhood when….”

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This post was written for the Write On Edge RemembeRED writing prompt.

The prompt went like this:

This week’s prompt is to use this image for your inspiration and begin your post with those words…”I miss my childhood…”