Thursday, April 28, 2011

Scardy Cat

*My state was affected by the tornadoes last night.  My particular city was NOT affected, and my family and I offer up condolences to those who lost loved ones and prayers for those who are hurting.*

I am terrified of thunder storms.  Terrified.  Especially at night.
Maybe it is that I can't see the storm coming or maybe it is because the thunder at night disturbs my precious sleep.  Either way, weather last night had me up way past my bedtime and set me up for what will be a long and tiring day.  We are all okay and our home is okay, but those storms were whoppers and do nothing for my blood pressure when they rolled through.

As I'm sure you experience when there is "Severe Weather", the tv stations call in everyone on the weather team.  Our morning weather person was in the studio at well past 1am.  I felt a little bad for her since she's the one who gets to the station at 4am for the 5-7am morning news.  I bet she's going to be way more tired than me.

They  pull out all their weather tools--radar maps, wind speed dectors, 3-D maps that show formations of tornadoes (NOT something a person with a fear of storms wants to see), lightening strike counter, hail diameter size estimator, tornado probability calculator, descending reflectivity calculator and on and on and on.  They all take turns explaining what different meteorological phenomena we are looking at.  I feel like I'm taking an advanced Weather Science class.   They try to remain calm, but in the back of my mind, I'm sure they are quietly High-5-ing each other that they get to do more than just stand in front of the green screen and talk about the highs and lows from the record books.

Again, all of this is great, but now I, the complete chicken in storms, am hyper-aware of "hook echos" in rain storms because those indicate tornadoes...or at least rotation.  Thus making me more neurotic than I already am.

Here's to Spring becoming more gentle and lady-like.  I think we all could use a little gentile behavior from Mother Nature.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

THAT is NOT a red ninja?

My son is 5 today.  Besides the fact that I can't believe he's 5 already (I *know*! 5 years isn't enough time to get that pre-baby body back! Thank goodness for empire waist fashion!) he wants a red ninja party.  Ummm....yeah.  Ok.

Google is my friend in this situation and we found a super cute party that was...wait for it....

Photo from Life Right Now
Awesome, right?  I'm all about seeing an idea and stealing it!  (So thank you Susanne Ashby for taking pictures and posting your super cute red ninja party!)

This post isn't about my ability to completely mimic someone else's idea.  It's about my inability to create the one thing for special snack that my son ninja cookies.

I was trying to recreate this...
etsy store design studio

Only my guy wanted a red ninja.  Not hard, right?  Round cookies, some red icing, black dots for laid plans.  

I should have known that things were going to be going downhill when I had to start with this:

I know.  Boxed Sugar Cookie mix.   I just didn't have it in me to do the whole "from scratch" thing.  Anyhoooo....

I added the extra flour, per the directions, and rolled it out on the floured surface.  Think I have enough flour on my surface?  

I tried to be fancy and add some extra flavor with my super special Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste.  It just sounds fancy.  
Actually it's been sitting in my cabinet for a while and I just wanted to use it.  

So the dough is mixed and circles are cut out and are on the baking pans in the freezer.  Evidently freezing the cookies before baking them helps them hold the shape.  
While I was letting the cookies chill, I made the royal icing from Bake@350.  When you go to her site, marvel at the beautifully decorated cookies.  Then come back to reality and join me over here in my kitchen for ninja nightmare.  
Do you see my icing? It isn't red.  It is a coral/salmon color.  My little guy walks in and wonders what the heck I'm doing because *that* isn't a red ninja color.  Also notice my fantastic supplies.  That is a Food Storage Bag--or at least that is what it said on the box.  Truth be told, it is the cheapest plastic bag ever made.  It sprung so many holes that my hands are now stained red and it looks like I've become some sort of axe murder.  

Here are the cookies before they have eyes on them.  Remember what I was going for?

I figured I'd add some mini-chocolate chip eyes and BAM! Red Ninja.  My little guy (and my other two kids and my husband and some friends I texted a picture of my cookies-in-progress to) disagreed with me. In fact, they laughed at my salmon/coral colored ninja cookies.  I lauged too...
 Besides, my sub-par supplies had my icing looking a little ratty around the edges.  For those of you who know my Type-A tendencies, this was driving me crazy.  

Bummer.  Cookies in the trash. 

Thank goodness for Fresh Market and their yummy, ready-made, egg- shaped, pink- sprinkled cookies.  

Note to my friends---ninjas are NOT salmon colored.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Laundry. Sort of.

Today was the day I was going to tackle my mountain of laundry.  I've gotten behind and am about to lose the battle with dirty towels.  I was ready.  I had psyched myself up to conquer the mountain.  I was armed with stain remover, detergent and dryer sheets.  I was ready.

Until I saw that I hadn't decorated the buckets I'd purchased for the little guy's preschool class Easter party.
"No", I say to myself, "You can't do the buckets now.  You have to fold these clothes you took out of the dryer and left in a heap on the floor and you need to get a load of clothes in the washer. Then you can look at the buckets. "  (I talk to myself in my head a lot.  Doesn't everybody?)

An hour later and the pile of clean clothes is still a pile.  There is a load in the washer, but it has finished washing and really needs to get into the dryer so I can get this laundry-assembly-line thing going.

But it's not.  That load is sitting in the washer.  Still.  While I play with my Silhouette SD and some sticky vinyl trying to make the plain silver buckets for preschoolers cute.

Note: Printing words on vinyl is fun and easy.  Getting them to sit straight on the curved surface of a bucket is hard.  Not "world peace" hard, but hard.  And if the letters for the word aren't straight, it looks messy and who wants a messy bucket? Not me, let me tell you.

So here is what we ended up with....

Introducing my hutch of ghost peep rabbits.....

The plan was actually to put the word "bucket" on the buckets.  I thought that would be clever.  But yours truly is not physically capable of getting those darn letters straight on the buckets.

Just so we're clear, I'm officially in awe of those who can do the straight-line-on-a-curved-surface vinyl letter thing. (I know I know! I'm so easily in awe of people!)

 I started over with a completely preschool design.  I admit, they look pretty silly, but I do have white bunny ears to go in each bucket, so I keep telling myself that the white ears match the white ghost peep bunny.  ( I know, I know...just keep telling myself that and maybe one day it will be true.)

Just to review, this is what a truly creative and talented person can do with the Silhouette SD....

Notice how straight the names are.  Fantastic.  Way to go, you vinyl expert!

Now here's a reminder of the preschool version...

Hmmm....not so much Pottery Barn as Sesame Street.  Oh well.  They're done and they're all the same, which you know is the most important thing in preschool.

The washer has stopped running.

Maybe I'll get the laundry done before I fix the treats in the buckets....


Fixing buckets is way more fun than laundry.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Girls, it is getting to be that time of year.   You know what I'm talking about....the time of year when it becomes painfully aware who has and has not been partaking of Extra Value Meals (Supersize that, won't you?).  

Let's put down the Value/Dollar/Supersize/Extra sauce and meet my new friend...

The Kind Plus bar.  Oh. My. Goodness.  I was so excited to try this that I opened the package and ate half of it before I remembered I needed to take a picture of the packaging for you.  It was so good I almost forgot to take a picture.  Gosh, that sounds lame. 

I had been reading about these bars on some fitness blogs and through Twitter from fitness models/trainers I like.  They love these bars for the simple fact that the ingredient list is made up of real food.  There are no crazy sounding things in this bar.  Plus, it is a bit sweet, so it will satisfy the sweet tooth in us all.  

You can see the one I have is Dark Chocolate Chery Cashew.  There are a lot of other flavors, but your humble Southern Belle can only remember Almond Coconut. I haven't tried that one yet, but it is next on my list!

I found mine in my regular grocery store (Kroger) in the health food section.  

So, my dear friends, if you are looking for a snack that will get you through the afternoon lull, this is it. 

Happy snacking...and let's close the window on the drive-thru until Fall. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Craft Hope

Let me introduce you to Craft Hope.  This site was introduced to me by Cheryl from A Pretty Cool Life.  She was participating in a project that would help women in Haiti.

This is a site created by a mom who loves crafting and wanted to find a way to offer tangible help to those who need it in the form of handmade items.

They post projects on their site (or on should "like" them on FB!) and they simply ask that you post a comment to let them gage how many people will be participating in each project.  

I, your humble Southern Belle, is not a crafty sort of southerner.  I'm not a sewer, so mostly I was looking at this site and wanting to learn to sew.  Actually, one would need a sewing machine to sew, but that is another story.....

Their latest project is making bracelets!  Yea!  Something I can do with my girls and their friends.

Photo from Craft Hope

Craft Hope is partnering with Orphan Outreach to send some homemade love to children who may not have much happiness in their lives.

The bracelets can be beaded, sewn, or woven.  I feel certain my girls (and maybe the little guy) will get excited about beaded bracelets!

Jump on over to Craft Hope and join me in this project!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I don't know about you, but whenever I find a blog I like, I always go to their "Favorites" list and check out who they like.  I've not been disappointed.  In fact, that is how I have found most of the blogs I read on a regular basis.

I hope if you've visited my site you have taken some time to click on the blog links I've listed.  Admittedly,  most are geared toward moms/raising kids/crafty stuff, but each has its own way sharing that I just love.

In my recent blog stalkings, I've found two new links I wanted to share with you!  And, if you're so inclined, click on their lists of favorite blogs and see what else is out in blogland!

The first is Brown Paper Packages.  Written by a mom of 5 (!), this lady is supremely creative on a very realistic level.  Translation: Even I, your humble and oh-so-not creative Southern Belle can even complete some of her craft ideas.

How cute are these buckets?  Really, they are only cute buckets and some vinyl letters.  So simple and so cute and you can bet that you'll be seeing these in my son's preschool class for Easter.

Look at simple, so necessary and did I say simple?  I can't believe I haven't thought of this myself.  I need pictures to help me visualize the finished product and Kierste, the blogger who created Brown Paper Packages, is a pro at the photo tutorial.

Excuse my iPhone screen shot...I'm still a newbie to linking and such...but I love this dress.  It is from the other site I wanted to share with you.

Welcome to Shabby Apple.

This is a clothing site for women and kids and my favorite part?

You can look at clothes by your body type.

You answer a few questions about your body, the site spits out your body type and also provides dresses that are made for that body type.  Fabulous.  The only way it could be better is if you could pick your preferred body type and bam! your body turned into that desired image.  Sadly, this isn't the case, so until then, this site does the next best thing!

These are just two of the new sites I've found.  What are some sites you like to visit?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Hey! I know you're idea of a good time is to sit and look at my vacation pictures!  (I can see you shaking your head in agreement...or is that you looking for the fastest way to move off this site?)
I won't bore you with the gory details, but we did go to Washington, DC for Spring Break and it was, in a word, fabulous.

I am going to share a few pictures with you, just because I can and because it was a truly fun trip.

I picked the most random of our pictures.  The first picture of the car--my husband is 6'9".  I'm 5'9" and our oldest daughter is 5'5".  We were packed in that little car like sardines. Honestly, we were sitting in the front seats with our knees actually touching the dashboard.  We should have joined Cirque du Soliel given the amount of contorting our our legs had to go through just to get in the car.  The 2nd to last picture...I have no idea what they are talking about.  The last picture is at Mt. Vernon in front of a tree planted by George Washington.  Like the disembodied head in the corner?  He avoided the camera at all costs this trip EXCEPT when my husband and I wanted a picture.  Nice one.

I also wanted to share my "To Do" list from our trip.  It's just my thoughts and they may inspire you as you prepare for a trip to our nation's capitol.  They are in no particular order....

1.  Bring cough and cold medicine with you because the temperature at this time of year fluctuates between shorts and t-shirt weather and snow.  Really.

2.  If you can, book the tickets to the top of the Washington Monument.  This requires advanced planning and I'm not good at that.  Our concierge at the hotel got us if you are a last minute planner, ask the concierge at your hotel.  Most will have access to tickets.

3.  GO TO MOUNT VERNON.  GO GO GO.  And if you can, pay the extra money for a "Behind the Scenes" tour.  Again, the concierge rocked on this one and scheduled our tour.  It  was by far what we have talked most about since getting home. And, if you didn't know,  George Washington was awesome.

4.  If your kids are 2nd grade or older,  go to the Spy Museum.  The tickets are pricey, but the museum is pretty neat.  My husband would have stayed there a lot longer if the kiddos would have stopped to read the words under the displays.  Any younger and they would probably be bored except for the one part that involved climbing through a ventelation shaft.

5.  Monticello is a DAY TRIP.  My sister warned me about this and we thought she was crazy.  2.5 hours to Monticello and 4 hours back.  Traffic stinks at all times in DC.  Still, it was a great tour and I think it is important to learn about our founders.

6.  Make time to take the city bus to Dulles airport for the Air and Space Museum annex.

7.  If your kids are a bit older, do the Segway Tour.  We saw them all over and really really really wanted to figure a way to attach a wagon or something to one of them so we could take the little guy, but it was a no-go.  Maybe next time...

This list is by no means complete, just some thoughts after looking back over our vacation pictures.

AND let me send a shout-out for our hotel--Hotel Washington!  It was completely fabulous and located about a block from the White House.  Plus, the concierge, Greg, was spot on and helped us with our trip so much.

Now, if I can manage to get the pictures off the computer and into some sort of album before the kids graduate from high school, I'll be doing really good!

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cool Apps

The fact that I own a MacBook Pro, an iPhone AND an iPad might lead you to believe I'm in the know for technology.

That would be a big fat lie and I'm here to admit I'm a poser when it comes to this technology stuff.
I can  look busy on my laptop/iPad/iPhone if I want to.  I can  walk and text.  I rock.

Let's get real, friends.  Who am I kidding?  Probably no one but myself.  The majority of time if I'm not texting my friends with the obligatory OMG, LOL and IMO, my kids have my phone.

So let's talk iPhone apps.

I found two pretty good ones the other day (they are even educational!) and I wanted to share them with you.

The first is called Stack the States.

My second grader plays this with help from her older sister or me.  My sixth grader can play it by herself and they really enjoy it.  The idea is to answer multiple choice questions about the states.

Each question answered correctly is "stacked" on the ledge.  After a certain number of states are stacked, you earn a state on the map.  The goal is to earn all 50 states.  And the questions aren't just border state questions.  Some are about capital cities, landmarks, or just large cities in the state.  In addition, your child is learning the shape of each state.  My girls played this together for about 20 minutes this afternoon and earned 17 states on the map.  The cool thing is that a question came up that my second grader had missed  before and this time she got it right.  She was proud of herself for remembering the answer and I was proud of myself for finding a game that was teaching her something! Score one for mom!

The other App is called Word Wagon.  

This app is for preschoolers/beginning readers.  My preschooler plays this game with a little help from mom.

The idea is that the little mouse guy with the glasses walks along a road and objects show up in front of him.  Your child can either make the mouse jump over the object OR you can tap the object and try to spell its name.  Notice in the example that the letters are already in the spaces correctly.  The point of this level is matching, hand-eye coordination and understanding the sounds the letters make to form the word.  This is level 1.  If you go to level 3 or 4 the words are a bit longer and the letters no longer appear in the spaces above the object.  My little guy likes the characters in this app and will play this with me for  at least 15 minutes.  Again, score one for mom!

My next task is to search out some interesting apps formatted for the iPad.  

(cell phone buzzing...)
 OMG, I have to go chat with my BFF about some crazy thing I saw on Real Housewives of Miami, LOL!!  TTFN!

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Our birthday season starts with my younger daughter in March.

Next is the little guy.

Then my oldest.

In our town, the "birthday bar" is set pretty high. The invitations are always adorable. The cakes are to die for. The activities are crazy and over-the-top.
Phew! I'm tired just thinking about it.

But I do think about it. A lot. Ever since my oldest girl turned the Big One I've lamented, pondered, and festered about those big days.

And though they've been fun, I've always prided myself in doing pretty simple parties that end up being fun for all.

We've had Dora parties with homemade backpacks and an adventure with Map ("If there's a place you want to go, I'm the one you need to know, I'm the map!"), pretend sleep overs, cooking parties - at my house and at a cooking school - AND my personal favorite, cupcakes-at-a-playground parties. They've all been pretty basic (Except Dora. Those backpacks were tough for this non-sewer to make!) and I like it that way.

This year my younger daughter wanted a science party.  Awww Yeah. A science party.

It turned out really well and I wanted to share the stuff and site I used in case you wanted to throw your own party!

Notice my over-the-top decorations.  The big "9" balloon, some green twirly things and white paper lanterns.  The gourds are usually on my table and I forgot to move them for the picture.  Keeping it real, people.   I figured the girls would be more interested in the experiments than the decorations and that worked well for me.

Of course I browsed blogs for some ideas- and there are lots out there- of what to do and where to  go.  My top site for science experiments is Steve Spangler Science.  You can buy individual experiments or go all out and get a party in a box.  I did the point and click shopping method and bought the party in a box.  I used the extra experiments as party favors for the girls.

I  used Living Locurto for the invitations.  They are cute and she offers them on her site for FREE!! This is a great blog by a mom who must be my exact opposite.  She's creative, goes above and beyond for all things AND doesn't mind her house being messy!  I need to be more like her...note to more "chill". 

Here are some of the highlights of our little science party.

By far the favorite experiment was the Mentos geyser.  We could have done that all night.

The Einstein bag was something I whipped up the night before.  I used it as their goodie bag.  Each girl went home with a lab coat, safety glasses, their experiments we did at home and some extra Mentos geyser tubes.

My little guy wants a Star Wars/Iron Man/ Ninja birthday.  I've got to get on the stick planning that one!

What do you do for your kids' birthday parties?