Thursday, March 31, 2011

New addition - to the nursery, that is

Do you know what this is?

You guys.  Y'all.  We registered for this booster seat.  A few days ago it came while I was at work.  Drew is physically unable to keep from opening boxes that arrive while he's home - he's the worst surpris-ee ever because he's too curious for his own good.  It's not that big a deal to me so when he called and was like "A box came for you," I knew better and I just said "Go ahead and open it babe."  When he told me it was the booster seat we registered for I was very happy and asked him who it was from.

You guys.  Y'all.  Naijababelove sent this to me.  She reads my blog.  We email but we've never met.  Do you have any idea how cool that is?  Do you have any idea how freakin awesome that is!  Oh, and she totally gave me goosebumps because the message she put on the label is the exact thing we're putting on the birth announcements.  I haven't told anyone that, and I'm not telling it now.  I want that reveal moment because it's that special to me.  But she put that on the message!  But more than that, we've never met and she got us something for the baby!  Do you have any. idea. how amazing and wonderful and awesome that is!  It's amazing.  It's wonderful.  You'd think I'd have more words because I'm such a chatterbox but I was struck speechless at her generosity.  Amazing.  

And guess what else?  My canvas came!!

When painting the mural ceased to be an option, I began thinking about a canvas with my poem on it.  Through random clicking around, I stumbled across  When I tell you to run, don't walk to this site if you want a canvas I mean it!  Y'all know I love words and when I saw their bus rolls?  Subway rolls?  I was in love!  I found the Etsy shop first and sent an inquiry email to the lady asking about her prices for custom canvases.  Whenever you hear 'custom' you think kabillions of dollars, so I was very happy to hear her very reasonable prices.  I hadn't yet decorated the nursery, so I wasn't sure what direction I wanted to go, but Stephanie was more than courteous, offering suggestions about what she could do, attaching pictures and offering her thoughts.  And I hadn't even bought one at this point!  Most people wouldn't even give you the time of day until your money hits their Paypal account, which I can understand, but I sure do appreciate her giving me the chance to figure out what I liked best without being like "I'll talk to you when I get my money!" 

After about 12 back and forth exchanges I was finally ready to pull the trigger and order my canvas.  By this time I'd decorated the nursery and I sent her a picture showing her where the canvas would go.  Within minutes, she sent me a mock-up that seriously made me start crying.  It was perfect!  For that room - at that time.

It was a striped background with white type and it fit perfectly with the room.  I wanted something a little more timeless, that could grow and change with our kids, something that they might want to keep or if not, that I could keep in my own house without it looking too childish.  She heard me, made a couple of changes and sent me the second mock-up, one that made me bounce in my seat squealing because that was the one!!

Okay, enough words - look at my beautiful canvas!
No lie, I read this at least every other day.

I am so happy with the way it turned out, Stephanie made it so easy for me to give her my money, and she made my vision a reality.  I hung it the second I got it and so often I just stand there and read the poem over and over, smiling a little bigger each time.  It's perfect and I love it!
Dude, seriously.  Stephanie.  Go there now and just bask in the awesomeness.

PS - I was not paid by or anything.  I'm a regular person who paid full price for an awesome product and I just wanted to give her mad props.  One of these days people will give me stuff for free but today's not that day.  I'm just gushing because she for real did an amazing job and I'm one satisfied customer!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Getting showered pt. 3: Surprise!

I had been on my job exactly one week when I found out I was pregnant.  Remember?  I had no idea what kind of person my boss was, how she would react to my pregnancy and whether or not she'd be cool with being out for doctor's appointments.  Thankfully, I didn't have to call out with morning sickness and every time I had a doctor's appointment, I made them for early in the morning so I would miss the least amount of work.  I have been very blessed with an amazing and understanding boss who has begged me to come back to work.  I hate that I finally found a great place to work with a boss I love and awesome colleagues and I'm about to leave!  Of course, my new boss is going to be way cuter but I'm sure much less laid-back than my current boss.  You can't win them all.

She called me into her office Friday afternoon to discuss my maternity leave and the exact dates I'll be out.  Originally, I wanted to stay at work until I went into labor because I figured sitting at home twiddling my thumbs would drive me nuts.  However, after talking to Drew we decided that a week of rest might be best so my last day of work is April 8th - that's two Fridays from now!  We wrapped up our conversation, and as we were heading back to my desk, she asked me to have a look at something in the conference room.
My work people threw me a baby shower!

Drew had flown in that morning, took me to lunch, and secretly came back for the party, all without me knowing!  I was so happy and surprised and I immediately ran back to get my camera.  
One of the girls in the office made all the balloon decorations and
they were so cute!
I loved the centerpiece!
Cute little decorations
April showers bring....babies!!
I mean, baby.  ONE.  One baby.  That's it.
Writing advice cards - I love this idea because I need all the help I can get!

The awesome cake balls.  They made them a little darker
because she's going to be a mixed baby!  
I had a big lunch and I can't eat too much these days, 
but I always have room for cake and grapes!
All the ladies thought Drew was soo cute and soo funny
and he just ate it up!
Isn't this gorgeous? 
I'm adding this one because this is my life.
Drew is surgically attached to his phone - he starts to twitch
if he goes too long without checking it.
Drew was very happy we got some non-pink stuff from one
of the guys in the office.
 I could make this cute with a little blue bow in her hair and 
maybe a little blue skirt and some white ruffly socks?
Yeah, it could work!

I was so touched that they threw a party for us, especially since I haven't been here that long.  A couple days later, I even got some giftcards from other people in the office who weren't able to come to the party.  I thought maybe just the girls on my team would maybe take me out to lunch or something, at most.  This was so unexpected and I am so grateful to all of them.  And it was so super special to have Drew there - that was the icing on the cake!

Dangit, I hate that I'm leaving!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Getting showered pt. 2: How not to make cake pops

While I don't consider myself a cook in the slightest way, I am a teensy bit handier when it comes to baking.  Of course, I'm not talking pies from scratch or anything like that, but even I can't mess up cake-in-a-box.

For the Dallas shower, I wanted to try my hand at cake pops and give them out as favors to our guests.  As usual, I turned to the internet for a good and easy recipe.  Incidentally, I love the internet.  I can find almost anything I need and I don't know how I survived before Google.  If it's not online, it doesn't exist.  But back to the cake pops.

Cake pops and cake balls are apparently the new 'it' dessert so there are tutorials all over the internet, just a tiny Google search away.  I found one pretty quickly and it seemed easy enough so I went for it.  Now, I know my limits and had zero intentions of trying to decorate them or put little designs on them.  I was going to do well just to get them made and it turns out, I couldn't even do that.

This is my PSA and this is the recipe that I followed.  You can either tell me what I did wrong or you can read what I did so the same thing doesn't happen to you when you make cake pops, which I totally recommend because they're not that hard.  And you know if *I'm* telling you it's not that hard, it's for real not.
First, make a cake.  I wanted the cake to be pink, because
although I didn't want it in the nursery, I'm not opposed to it in cake.
Once the cake is done and cooled, crumble it up and mix it
with a 16 oz can of cream cheese frosting.

Then you roll them into balls and put them in the freezer for 'several' hours.  I hate when recipes are vague like that.  I need precision!  I put them in the freezer from 10am until 2pm, thinking that would be enough and I would be able to assemble them before our party at 3:30.  I was wrong - apparently, 'several' means more than four.  I took them out but they warmed up pretty quickly and started falling apart when I tried to coat them with the candy melts.
My plan was to have the white exterior, pink interior and
covered in pink glitter.  They were going to be so cute!
I even got some cute ribbon on sale at Michaels!

Alas, the cake pops were a bust and I had no favors to hand out at the shower.  I felt bad but Brittani and Kesha reassured me that it was okay and nobody would be mad at me.  However, I had all these cake pops in the freezer and I certainly wasn't going to eat them all!  So, Sunday night Drew helped me and we finished them so I could take them to work Monday morning.
Even though they were firmer than they were on Saturday,
they were still pretty soft.  Was it the can of frosting?
Did I mess up somewhere else?  I don't know.

So, you dip the lollipop stick in the melted candy and stick them in the cake and then cover the cake ball.  Once the candy is hardened you dip the cake pop in the glitter.  I had it in a bowl but found that putting it in a baggie was much easier to control and you get better coverage, hence the uneven-ness - I was learning as I went!  Once you've done that, you put the pops in a sheet of styrofoam to store them.  Then you put the wrapper over it, tie the ribbon and you're done!  It went much faster with two people and you don't even need to refrigerate them when you're finished.
I got everything at Michaels - 
anything crafty you can think of, that store has it!
My glitter application wasn't precise and I ran out of
the baby carriage ribbon but it's not bad for my first try.
Man, I wish I'd finished these before the party!
This is definitely not a one-day thing!
Trying them before I take them to work.
Holy crap they're sweet!
Like omg, sugar shock sweet!
I like cake, but holy hell!
No, they're good, I swear!

I don't know what I did wrong because I followed the recipe to the letter.  The candy coating didn't have much of a taste to me, although Drew said it was pretty sweet.  The cake was strawberry, which wasn't too bad and the frosting was cream cheese so that shouldn't have been that sweet, right?   But there was something about all of them together that would send you straight into a diabetic coma!  I really want to try them again, maybe with a less sweet cake like carrot cake or banana bread-like cake.  They were also super moist, almost mushy so I wonder if I shouldn't have used the entire can of frosting.  Maybe they would have stayed together if I'd used only half the can?  Maybe if I used a moist cake mix I wouldn't have to use frosting at all?  I'm just not sure.  I'm brainstorming what to bring the nurses when we go to the hospital but since these should really firm up overnight, that's a tiny bit of a challenge since of course I don't know when I'm going into labor and I'm totally cool with that.  Or maybe they don't have to firm up overnight if I use less frosting - I really don't know where I went wrong but these were way too sweet for my taste.  They were also too big - they almost didn't fit inside the wrapper but I didn't want dinky cake pops!

Anyway, I took them to work the next day and they were all gone by lunch.  There's something about the break room and free food - even if it tastes like crap, they'll take it.  At least no one came back to me and complained.

Now this is what cake balls are supposed to look like!

I'll tell you where they came from in a minute!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Getting showered

The Dallas baby shower was wonderful and finally I can write about it!  Work was really hectic and I was going through writing withdrawals!

Anyway, the shower was casual and low-key and it went off without a hitch, which was just what I wanted.  It was really amazing to leave the planning to someone else with my only job being to enjoy myself.  Well, that and make vegan strawberry cupcakes.  And cake pops - sort of.

Saturday morning, we got up bright and early to clean the house and get ready for our guests.  Having the floors refinished really made a difference in cleaning time, as the dust just kind of sits on top of the floor and sweeping goes much more quickly.  My wonderful blog friend Gem was coming up with her husband and I wanted to cook for her.  It's kind of a thing now, since I cooked for her the last time she visited.  This time I found a recipe for vegan strawberry cupcakes and I got started early.  Thankfully it wasn't too hard.
Cut up some strawberries.
Puree them.
Mix the puree with the dry ingredients.
Get excited because they look like the picture!
Give them to your friend because you're so very very happy
she came all the way from Houston to your party!  
She really liked them and that made my day!
Brittani did everything, from getting the food to making the pompoms.
Kesha came over early and helped with the set up.
I seriously didn't have to do anything!
The big cake was lemon, the purple flower cupcakes were chocolate,
the yellow flower ones were carrot and the white frosting ones were vanilla.
I had all but the chocolate ones.  More than once.
Doug and Brittani even brought me flowers!
The DIY bug is rubbing off on Drew.
This formerly was a catch-all space for junk and he turned it into a bar.
He ran the lighting, built the shelves so the bottles would be at different heights,
and furnished everything himself.
Even though I won't be able to drink for the next year or so,
I have to admit it is a nice addition to the dining room.
Doug and Brittani talking with Susie Smith
and her husband.  You remember them, right?
They are seriously so nice!

We just hung out talking and laughing, which is exactly what I wanted.  We didn't really play any games, but they did leave advice cards for me which I really appreciated.  One of these days I'm going to make a baby book and it's all going in there.  Maybe that will be my labor activity!

Anyway, we had so much fun and we had a full house.  I think we had about 25 people?  The house was full of laughter and energy and it was such a great time! 

Now, the really interesting thing is, I barely got any clothes this time!  A lot of the people we invited were new parents themselves and they gave us the things that helped them in their first year which is was perfect!  It really was a great balance - at the Kansas shower she got her closet stocked and at this one, she got all the practical stuff!  It really was perfect!  Opening gifts was still a tiny bit awkward, but I had Drew next to me even though he refused to open even one!
He's so animated when he talks!  That also might have been the sangria.
I was practicing how to hold a baby - I don't quite have the hang of it.
Opening Gem's present - have I said how happy I was that you came?
Kristina was my very first blog friend and she MADE this quilt for me!
I mean, for the baby.  
The back side
Isn't it gorgeous and perfect and classic?  I love it so much!
I even got some Rock'n Green soap!
I was seriously so excited about this!
That reminds me, I should probably buy the diapers sometime soon.
The gift that always fits! 
Saving the best for last - my girlfriend Carolyn sent a present too!
Reading her sweet card
How amazing and beautiful is this blanket!
She hunted it down for the baby and it's so gorgeous!
I totally see some baby photo shoots on this fabulous blanket!

It's so funny though, the baby has these amazing gorgeous blankets but I don't want to let her use them because they're so pretty!  All I can think of baby bodily fluids all over them and I'm like, nope!  These are look but don't touch!  But I guess that's what they're for right? To get used and loved on and passed down?  Oh my goodness, what if my grandkids use this blanket?  How cool would that be!  You guys, I'm so seriously blessed with such amazing friends and this little baby is so very very loved.  You hear that little baby?  You see all these amazing things that wait for you?  I'm going to wrap her up in all these blankets and never ever put her down.  Gah, I'm so mushy!


This post is crazy long so I'll end here but next up!  How not to make cake pops!


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