Monday, April 30, 2012

Favorite Photo of April

Click It Up A Notch

As a bonus in this here post, since I failed to post either February or March's favorite photos - I've included them here just for continuity sake.  :)   I love my sweet snow angel in the soft black and white edit and it's even more fun next to the vibrant shot of Mr. Peacock that I shot at the zoo in March.  Both make me happy and I think that is a key component in the making of a 'favorite' photograph. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Sunny Walk

In early April on a sunny Saturday, Mae went on her first walk with her dada (and the rest of us came along too!)  Her big brother has long enjoyed walks with his father and now Mae gets to enjoy them too. We walked to a local park and played on the playground, picked flowers, ran across the fields and enjoyed a sunny weekend afternoon as a family.   It was delightful. 

 then, she {snapped}

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Sister for Kaylee

I have been woefully slacking in the announcement department.  I'm not sure why, but I would be remiss if I did not document the arrival of my second niece with equal fanfare and excitement that I did when Kaylee was born!    Megan Alexis was born March 6th weighing 10lbs 11oz and 22" long. 

She arrived early, but healthy and happy.   They kept mommy a bit longer to help make sure that her blood sugar was acting appropriately, but I think Jennifer would agree that the delivery of Megan was a much more idyllic situation than her first delivery with Kaylee.    Hooray for happy and healthy. 

Grammie was probably equally if not more excited than the proud parents.  You see, grandbaby #4 was the first that she got to meet BRAND NEW!   Yes, with both Ace and Mae they were over a month old before she got to meet them, and when she met Kaylee she was nearly two months old, so to meet hour-old Megan was a special treat and a special experience just for Grammie and Megan to share. 

Megan has of course been thriving and at her one month appointment was pretty similar in weight but had stretched long, just like her daddy.   She is a good sleeper and I am told she loves to be hugged and cuddled.  

When Megan was just a few days old, I finally got to *meet* her... via Skype.   Sadly it hasn't worked out just yet to make a trip there personally.  Still trying to work that out.   Ace and Mae both enjoyed seeing both of their cousins.

Megan has already enjoyed her first holiday and season change which has included evening walks with the family, trips to the park with her big sister, mommy and other Auntie, and lots of warm weather to get used to.  :)

Kaylee is a great big sister and loves her sister and Derek is loving being a dad of two.  Here is my favorite picture of my little brother to date.   Cuddling in the rocking chair with his two daughters.

Welcome to the world, sweet Megan!   I've enjoyed every picture of this little girl that I've been given and can't wait to meet her in person!  And after nearly two months they have finally given me a family of four picture!  

Friday, April 27, 2012

Babycakes Cake Pops

I recently purchased the Babycakes Cake Pop Maker and the Babycakes Cake Pop Cookbook.  I had previously seen the machine for sale and thought that would be neat, but I quickly dismissed it because I figured it wasn't worth $25 to just make cake pops every now and again.  Then I stumbled upon the cookbook and the fact that I can cook appetizers and other things specifically recipe-calibrated for this machine.   Hooray, I bought away! 

Did I buy for a specific event in mind?  No. Have I ever eaten a cake pop before in my life? No.  Do I think I'll get $25 worth of use of it? Yes, and then some! Are they delicious? Yum! 

For my first attempt making any cake pops this machine made it super easy!  I decided that I'd make some for our community group when it came our turn to bring dessert.   I used their lemon cake recipe.  Considering I didn't have an actual lemon as called by the recipe and only the lemon extract part, they were still quite yummy.  Can't wait to try it with a real lemon! :)

The recipe is super easy, relatively small, and easy to mix together.  After everything was combined, I tossed everything into a ziplock back and cut the end and created a easy device to feed the maker (and throw away when I'm done!)   Finding the right level of batter to create the perfect sphere took a bit trial and error but overall it was very easy.

I have to say that the cookbook does a great job walking you through the ins and outs of the cake pop maker.  Tips on just about anything you'd come across, and I greatly appreciated that.  The cake pops cook quickly only about 4 minutes and they were nice and fluffy.   They pop out of the maker pretty easily too!   Now after doing a lot of reading about 'cake pops'  I have been enlightened that the Babycakes Maker does not make 'traditional' cake pops - which apparently involve regular cake crumbled and a frosting mixtured rolled into a ball.   Forgive me if I say THANK GOODNESS for that!  That sounds disgusting to me.   I like the nice solid cake center.  :)

The book walks you through how best to affix the sticks to your cake pops.  Oddly enough you don't just jam the stick in the cake pops.   After I completed cooking them all (so about 4 rounds of using the maker) - I tossed them in a bowl and put them in the freezer for 15 minutes.   After that I melted a little candy, dipped the stick in it and then speared my cake balls and then I tossed all of those back in the freezer for 15 more minutes.   Then it was time for the fun stuff!

The cookbook offers several recipes for toppings to use on your cake pops, but for this time I chose to use the Wilton Candy Melts. The cookbook also walks through good techniques for using the candy melts to get a less drippy effect, etc..   This part is actually a lot of fun :)  I'm not sure why I found it so exciting, but it was.

Next up to add some fun color I broke out the sprinkles and got to shaking.  For things like sprinkles you want to do it while the candy is still wet.  For other decoration you want to wait for it to dry, just depends on the technique.   I love that the making of cake pops can be so multifaceted.

After making a good portion of the pops white with sprinkles, I thought that I would add in some hot pink dye to the melted candy to make some pink pops.   Apparently that was a grave error!  As soon as the two drops of dye hit the melted candy it turned into this grainy sandy mixture.  Eventually by adding a LOT more candies to the mix and melting those in it finally yielded back into a liquid form.   I guess that's one way to ensure that you buy the specific bag of colored candy melts!   So baker beware - candy melts don't like traditional food dye.  They require an oil based dye and Wilton makes some specifically for their candy melts (of course they do!.)

Ace was my taste tester... he loved them... as said with a mouth full of cake.   :)  Next up was cutting a piece of Styrofoam and then the rest was simple arrangement.  I left several off the sticks and some even completely uncandied for variety sake.  I put those in mini muffin cups and in the end they were all devoured.  Yum!

This was a very fun project and the maker cleaned up with an easy wipe down and thus clean up was a breeze.  :) Can't wait for more occasions to try out different recipes and decorating techniques!  Babycakes has not sponsored this blog, but I'd happily do business with them if they did want to.  Their cookbook is full of recipes and what I find even more invaluable than that is all of the great tips on perfecting your baking and decorating experience.   Stay tuned on a post about making meatballs in the maker!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Tea Party

Last Saturday a boy and his dad set off on a 7 mile hike, Ace's first!  They had a grand time.    Us ladies stayed home and had a tea party.  There were guests, hats, bracelets, purses, food, dishes and most importantly lots and lots of fun!

Mae enjoyed gathering all her babies to join us.  For a little girl under the age of two she certainly already has amassed quite the collection of baby dolls.   She loves them all and after gathering over TEN of them she hugged each one and shook her body back and forth in a rocking hug motion.  Adorable.  

Mae chose a less traditional method of getting 'tea' out of the teapot - less pouring and more scooping.  She enjoyed giving some to her dollies, but mostly herself and mommy.   It was delicious.

This made her very excited.   It made mommy smile an awful lot too.

Mae decided that tea time was over so she grabbed her purses and was off. Thanks for playing!

After a raging tea party she reclined back on her exersaucer and let her feet be her guide to some tunes from the tree.     It was a fabulous way to spend an hour with my favorite girl.  :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sibling Update

I haven't really given a concentrated update specifically on the siblings.  Yes, that can be said with an ominous voice.   You see the last time I really focused on how they were doing was shortly after Mae became mobile.    Ace had been doing very well with that.   So how is he now???  How is Mae?

Overall the two of them are doing very well to not only to coexist together but also to play nice.  Ace is an extremely loving brother and for the most part patient.    He loves to take pictures with her and asks to pose for them.

Ace loves to tell us (the parents) "Look at your daughter!" when Mae is doing something silly. It's amusing. He loves to hold her hand, pick her up, show her how to do things and tell her things.   

Mae loves these things as well - to a point.   Mae is a typical little sister more and more each day.  She wants to do everything Ace is doing, she doesn't understand "that's his" just yet, and seems willing to explore every location her brother is.  She loves him a lot and wants to be just like him in many ways.

They have their moments of tug of war over a toy, a seat, or a piece of something - they scream refuse to relent without intervention - so you know - normal.   :)  These moment are still more the exception than the rule and that makes us pleased.  

We want them to continue to love and respect one another as their personalities and roles in the family alter and change.   They are adorable individually and together and I think if they work together could cause all sorts of trouble, in the fun kid-sort of way!

They certainly are off and about on their adventures.  Sometimes together, sometimes on their own.  But really, by choice or objection they can almost always be found togheter.  :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Crafternoon with The Ravenna Girls

Last Saturday Brianne and Danielle of The Ravenna Girls invited a few local bloggers to an afternoon filled with inspiration, crafting, and lots of shutter clicking in capturing the festivities!   They put together an excellent space outside on a lovely sunny Saturday in Seattle!   You can see more of their layout and how to set up your own Crafternoon over at Joy of All Crafts.

It was a delightful afternoon of crafting, wine, sun, and good company! It was nice getting to know some talented and crafty new people, Melanie and Jenny.   Bri and Danielle had a lot of options for us to craft with: paint, glitter, dye... you name it - we probably could have crafted it! 

We first started with dyeing some wooden beads that later we would string to make various necklaces.   There was a whole construction project that occurred in order to have a bit more hands free approach to the dyeing. 

The end result for me was something I'll actually wear! Success!

I brought supplies to create fabric flowers - by twisting fabric and using fabric glue to secure it as you go.   My ultimate plan is to make a springtime wreath for the front door, but for our crafternoon project I brought alligator clips to make them into hair clips.   D also planned to make hers into a pin, broach style.    Lots of possibilities with fabric flowers!

Next up was leather crafting that Jenny brought.  Jenny demonstrated for us how to work with the leather and the tools and we were unleashed unsupervised. 

I have to say the banging hammers and making impressions on leather I am very good at.   However, first cutting the actual leather, I just did not have enough umf to do it...  so my geometric shape really was just a sad little scrappy thing - that's ok I can work with that.  I'll admit I had a bit of crafty envy with the shape of D's.

The use of Martha Stewart Transfer Adhesive and foil with it... I'm less than stellar at. The knowing when to just let a craft - die. Serious fail.   See the foil wasn't work for me, even a few tries and tries again and so I figured why not another step, pile on the awesomeness!  Here was an example that Jenny brought for us all to be inspired by and then to the right is my tragedy stellar effort!

After that fun but tragically unsuccessful craft for me,  Bri brought out supplies to make their infamous neon nautical rope bracelets.  Love them!  Thanks for the tutorial and the help when my brain still wasn't processing it well!! :)

Finally what better way to end a crafternoon than with a delightful cupcake.   All the other civilized ladies thus far have posted pictures of their whole cupcakes.  See Melanie's here.  Me?  ...a picture came second! ;-)

Thank you, B and D for the invite, the creative space, and excellent company!   Can't wait to do it again!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dandelion Days Are Here!

1/750ss, f/3.5, ISO: 100, focused on the dandelion.

I love spring and as much as those dandelions vex my pretty yard - they certainly are a lot of fun to play with!   Ace is also very excited to help entertain his mommy who was excited to capture this shot - the blowing of the dandelion seeds.  Off they go to take over more of my yard!

 then, she {snapped} Miscellany Monday @
lowercase letters

Fifteen Months Old

15 months old!  Such a big girl and in such a tiny frame!  Yes at 15 months and 2 days old Mae weighs 17lbs 6oz (0.38%) she is 28.5" tall and her little noggin is 44cm (14%) for a bit of comparison her mommy was also 28.5" and weighed 16lbs 8oz.    Her mommy reached a great height of 5' so Mae appears to be trending in the same way. 

New firsts for this latest month include:  welcoming dada home from a deployment, a few more words clearly spoken: peease (please), and the most amusing MEEE! which she says with great passion whenever she wants something, thinks its hers, or occasionally when she wants up.  Yes, she's saying "me" :)  It's adorable, but I understand the dangerous potential for it to lose it's cuteness really quickly. hehe.

Illness wise Mae was quite under the weather off and on again this month.   She had two colds that were pretty icky and diagnosed with bronciolitis again. Very sad for her.   For the most part she doesn't let the colds slow her down.  She seems to be catching everything her big brother brings home from preschool - as a result I've deemed it the "preschool plague"

In spite of illness though Mae has really blossomed into a social butterfly and loves to toddle all over the place with (or without) her brother.   If we go to a playdate she rarely is clinging to my side, she's mostly off and about and keeping up with the bigger kids.   It's great to see her gain confidence and independence.  

Mae as far as eating and sleeping go is about the same as last month.  Not so great.   She isn't sleeping through the night, she isn't eating three square meals a day.  This may be a result of breastfeeding on both accounts, so when she gets to feeling better we might start do some nighttime weaning - as I recall with Ace it's not fun and so that is certainly a big part of my delay.  :)   Mae also has QUITE the flare for dramatics and she can wail like no other if she's trying to convey displeasure, so whenever we do wean I'm certain the dramatics won't be lost. 

Giggles are also plentiful though around here.  She's getting more ticklish.  She laughs at her brother's silliness, she giggles as she chases him.  It's so stinkin' cute!   She's still so tiny and cuddly.  For the most part she is wearing 9 month clothes and a few 12 months and in some cases a few shirts that are 6months.   She finally has outgrown in her feet the 6 month sleepers.  Yes, JUST outgrew them. 

It's been a great month and a lot of fun.  Mae loves shoes, hugging dolls, and climbing onto anything she can scale.   She "blows" her nose by making a similar noise with her mouth and still absolutely loves to brush her teeth. Piglet and her blanket are still often clutched in her arm, but quickly ditched as to not slow her down.  She's such a joy and every day is a different adventure.