My 3 Monsters: September 2010

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What's the Big Deal? Free Headband, That's What!

Is it close enough to midnight??  October 1st, tomorrow, is the official Grand Opening of my new Etsy shop!!!!!!!!! Go there by clicking on the banner below and then come right back, OK?

Well, it's a big deal to me anyway.  Inspired equally by my obsession with making things and my house being too tiny to hold it all, I've decided to try my hand at running a little Etsy "Boutique".  I'm a little bit excited about it.  I want people to feel like they're getting a great product and a super deal at the same time.  I want to leave my mark here in the "burbs" in a kinder, gentler, legal-er way (Get it? Graffiti? Or the suburban mom's version of it.)  Mostly I just want to keep on making "shtuff" without feeling like my walls are closing in on me.

SOOOOOOOOOOO . . . to celebrate my "Grand Opening" and to get the word out, everything in the shop is 50% off from now through October 7th!!!!!  The headbands and flower pins are just $3 each for this limited time offer.  I will also be adding some super cute baby onesies very soon, so check back often.  If you're interested, I mean.  (I'm a little bit bashful about putting myself out there like this . . .)

AAAAAANND . . .  To test the waters and see if there's any interest in my products, I'm giving away this pretty, pretty headband with detachable flower pin.  I have one just like it! :-D 

 The headband is braided grosgrain ribbon and can be worn all alone or with the black and kelly green flower pin attached.  (That is my very most favorite fabric in the world right now!!!)  You can purchase other nice flowers in my shop to switch out and pin on your fancy headband, too.  I'm just sayin'.  All you have to do to win is visit my shop, Suburban Graffiti, then come back and leave a comment here. Tell me what's missing.  What colors would you like to see?  What is your favorite item?  I'm just looking for some productive feedback here. I'll give you a second entry if you mention my shop or this giveaway on your blog.   If you like the product, that is.  Just leave another comment about that, too.  (Yes, I'm shamelessly begging and attempting to bribe you to help me get the word out.)  I will announce the winner Wednesday morning, so get your comments in before that.  C'mon, you know you have a good chance of winning -- this isn't one of those ginormous famous blogs that usually give stuff away.  Thanks for helping me get things rolling!

Thumb Watch 2010

Still numb.

***  Big, BIG news coming tomorrow!!!!  Stay tuned . . . ***


Ahhhhhhhhhhhh . . .

A clean house is as good as:

a tall drink of water on a hot day
fresh air in my lungs
losing twenty pounds
a first kiss

I didn't even realize how much it had been wearing on me, my messy house, until I felt the relief when it was clean.  In my current anti-anxiety medicated state, I can consciously ignore the walls of chaos closing in around me when I get busy, but my subconscious is ever aware. And ever anxious about it. Restoring order is the best kind of therapy.  Mama's gonna sleep good tonight. 


Numb Thumb and Glory Hog

So, I have some issues.  Physically and emotionally, I guess, if we're trying to put a point on things.  Firstly, my right thumb is numb.  You heard me.  I was cutting out a thousand circles out of fabric last Sunday night in preparation for Super Wednesday and didn't realize until I was done that my hand was really sore and I couldn't feel my thumb.  It happens.  OK, not ever before, but no big deal.  I'm a little bit concerned now, ONE WEEK LATER, that it is still numb.  Time to get some more ergonomic scissors.

Secondly, I am not a good delegator.  I do most things myself.  I don't like to ask for help.  If something is going to have my name attached to it, I need it to be perfect. Which is maybe fine in my personal life, but problematic in my church responsibilities.  I have surrounded myself with really talented women to help with all the activities and events that we have to plan throughout the year.  They are awesome.  And yet for some reason I still try to do everything myself. I didn't ask for any help with Super Wednesday, which was stupid.  These ladies showed up, figured out some of the crafts on their own and helped teach the girls.  I couldn't have done it without them, really.  So why do I make it so difficult for them to help me?  I hope it's not because I want all the attention for myself when things turn out well.  I don't think it is, but I do love a compliment so,  maybe . . .  I keep thinking of the line from Wicked where Elpheba says, "Was I really seeking good, or just seeking attention?"  Is my heart in the right place -- do I want what's best -- or do I just want to show off? I'm really struggling with this.  We have an event coming up in November for which I have a million ideas -- the decor, the invitations, the programs, the food -- I've got it all figured out in my mind.  It would be over-the-top beautiful and the girls would love it.  I know they would.  But I can't do it all myself.  It wouldn't be right.  I shouldn't even ask these fantastic ladies to just bring my vision to life by giving them assignments and telling them exactly how I want it done. I don't want to be that kind of leader.  We need to come up with something that is our combined vision for this event.  It will probably turn out better than my own idea.  And yet I'm having trouble letting go because I think I'm a glory hog. And I HATE that.  Being the organization president is more complicated than I thought.


Crossing the Finish Line

Done. Finito. Fin.  I made it!!  The wedding cupcakes are done and delivered (with much less drama than I half-way expected).  It all went of without a hitch.  Here's a closer look at each of the three styles:
. . . loving the stamped fondant monograms . . .

. . . my personal favorite . . .

. . . and the yellow.

But the piece de resistance (photographed with my phone when the camera died). . .

The giant cupcake for the bride and groom to cut.  I don't have a Big Top Cupcake mold so I just had to wing it with what was on hand -- a 6 inch round cake pan and a Pampered Chef large batter bowl. And a truck-load of buttercream frosting.

I was so impressed with the marshmallow fondant.  It was my first time ever even touching fondant, let alone making it from scratch, but it was really easy.  All the decorative pieces are made with the fondant.  They're imperfect, but I think that adds to the charm.  Anyway, that's what I had to tell myself after rolling out those yellow frames for the monograms three different times trying to get perfectly round, perfectly centered stamps.  Whatevs.  It's done.  I'm happy.  The bride and her family are happy. It's a dang good day.  Later I'll post my marshmallow fondant recipe and some pointers I learned along the way if anyone is interested.



What's that old saying?  No good deed goes unpunished.  Or unappreciated, apparently.  The bride took apart the bouquet I made for her, bought her own candy and remade it herself.  I should have known.  She was completely underwhelmed when I dropped it off yesterday.  I got a deadpan, "Thanks.  I like it."  and that was it.  Whatever.  I don't know if I can bring myself to go to the reception tonight.  It's just disappointing to spend a long time trying to do something nice and have it torn apart and replaced.  As if I didn't have anything better to do than drive all over town and scour the internet for old fashioned lollipops.  I'm done crying over it -- I did my best, which I think was darling and that's it.  Now the dilemma:  Do I take the cupcakes over for the other wedding tomorrow early enough that the other bride can change those OR do I take them over right at the last minute so she doesn't have a chance??  *sigh* 

OK, I JUST HAVE TO ADD:  We went to the reception, which was really cute and I was told that the bouquet I made got broken somehow. Which is why they bought new candy and remade the dang thing.  And now I feel like a toad for jumping to conclusions. Oh, man.  It looks like I'll be eating humble pie tonight instead of cupcakes.


Candy Bouquet 2.0

This revamp is a little more true to the inspiration photo the bride found, though I still don't like it as well as the first one she hated with the long pointy lollies. And that beautiful robin's egg blue ribbon I used looks really washed out in the photo.  Whatever. 

So, some pointers if you ever want to make an old fashioned candy bridal bouquet:
  • Instead of driving all over town (and driving yourself crazy) looking, get your Whirly Pops at Cracker Barrel restaurant in their little gift shop up front.  Or you can order small quantities online at Bulk Candy Store.  Most places I looked at online wanted you to order full cases (which might be fine if you're doing the whole wedding party).  This site had some cute colors (the blue/white and lavender/white) and you could order individual pieces.  Shipping wasn't outrageous and it got here really quickly.
  • Just use good old packing tape or duct tape to hold it all together.  I tore off a bunch of 3 inch pieces and stuck them to the edge of my table before I started arranging so I could line up the lollies where I wanted them and just grab the tape without having to set everything down.
  • Saw off any long ends of the wooden sticks.  You don't really want those poking out the bottom of your ribbon.  Or maybe you do.  I didn't.
  • Wrap the sticks with some pretty ribbon so it looks all professional-like.  Stick some pearl tipped pins every so often to hold it all in place.
  • Make sure the bride is doing bicep curls for weeks before the wedding because this bad boy is HEAVY!
I'm linking up here:


Mile 13.1

My marathon of a week is just about half-way done work-wise.  Super Wednesday Craft Night was a huge success last night.  The girls all made some super-cute things which I , of course, forgot to photograph.  I'll post some pictures of my finished projects -- when I finish some.  I spent all last night helping the girls.  They made braided ribbon headbands, fabric flower pins (to attach to the headbands or backpacks or whatever), zipper flower rings, penny pendants, corsage bracelets, gathered fabric cuff bracelets, and candy wrapper belts.  Those are some talented girls -- they picked everything up really quickly.  OK, here's just one picture:
So cute, huh?  I made all of those last night after I got home while Brent and I were watching TV.  I had already cut the fabric. It needed to be used, right?

Here's what I've been up to so far today:
The candy bouquet and boutonniere for the wedding tomorrow.  The bride didn't like the long pointy lollipops so I took them out. (But between you and me, it looks waaaaayyyyy better with them.  Whatever.  It's not MY wedding.)  I was beyond thrilled when the cute pastel lollipops came in the mail yesterday. Now I can't wait to get them all out of my house.  If this bouquet gets broken I don't want it to be my (or my kids' or dog's) fault.  Now onto the cupcakes. . . .


Coming Right Along

The armoire is finished and we LOVE it!!  I should have painted it years ago, but I always thought it would take a really long time and be a huge hassle.  It didn't and it wasn't.  Two coats of primer and two coats of paint applied with a brush took maybe three hours spread out over two or three days.  (Plus a half hour or so to decoupage the doors.)  It would probably be faster if you used one of those little foam rollers, but there was a brush sitting right by my paint can and I was too lazy to go dig out anything else.  I didn't even move anything off of the shelves.  There are too many wires in there to be bothering with all that.  I was on a roll.  I was motivated.  I just wanted to strike while the iron was hot and get it done finally.  At some point I may go in a decoupage that cute polkadot paper onto the walls of the upper section to match the doors.  But not today.  My favorite part about it is the drawer pulls I found at Michael's for $1 each.
They're just a little bit quirky and funny.  Like us.  The drawers say pull and the doors say open.  It was the only expense, but it was the $4 that MADE this project.  Here's a quick before (which is way too dark and cluttered and dirty, but you at least get an idea) and after:
I guess somewhere along the way we removed the upper doors, too.  (They've been sitting in the garage and I have just devised a plan for them . . . next week.) I just love how much cleaner and more modern it looks.  And the way that it actually goes with our other stuff now.  Success! Now here's a sneak peek at what I've been working on so far this week:
Marshmallow fondant is sooooo easy to make and really pretty easy to work with.  Can't wait til Saturday to see the finished products!


Cabinet, Craft Day, Cupcakes, and Candy Bouquet

Oh, I am so excited about the projects I have in the works right now!!  Next week is going to be Soopah-Fun for me.  I'll share good pictures next week, but here's a preview from my cell phone:
In the past three days I have painted my old entertainment center and taught a class on Budget Decorating. In the next seven days we will be having our Young Women's "Super Wednesday" Craft Day, and two weddings (hence the cupcakes for one and candy bouquet for the bride of the other). I lu-uh-uve having fun things to do and look forward to!! And while finished creative projects have been scarce around here lately, there will be a bountiful harvest of results in the next couple of weeks.  IF my marshmallow fondant turns out right, AND the craft supplies and cute pastel Whirlie Pops I ordered online show up on time.  Why must everything come down to the last second no matter how carefully I try to plan?!  (And why must local stores only carry the bright, rainbow-colored lollipops???)

Since I've come to a roadblock in my preparation process, Brent and I are going to take tomorrow to attempt to install the pretty gooseneck faucet I bought for our kitchen on ebay for $32.00 and the new microwave we got on Craigslist for $50.  Neither one were planned purchases, but when water begins pouring out of the warm water handle of the faucet and the microwave stops heating things up for the second time in as many years AND people are practically giving those things away like that. . . what're ya gonna do?  I also got a chandelier on Craigslist for $10 that matches the one in our dining room.  If you've ever tried to cook in my dark little cave of a kitchen you will appreciate how badly we have been needing to replace the old track lights that do a really poor job of illuminating anything other than the ledge on top of the cabinets. Which is NOT where I do most of my meal prep work. 

I feel so spoiled! For a cheap-o like me it's almost like getting a brand new kitchen.  I just wish I could afford the subway tile I  want for the backsplash right now.  It would be great to get that done while the range-top microwave is down.  Did you know that basic white subway tile is only 22 cents a piece at Lowes?!  If my math is right that's only $1.76 a square foot.  I just always assumed it was more expensive than that.  Even so . . . I've already spent $100 and I am a complete cheap-o.  Really.  Plus, if we do the backsplash, I'd really love to do the countertops.  And if we're doing the countertops AND the faucet AND the backsplash, I'd really love to do the farmhouse sink I have my eye on. And the pot-filler faucet over the stove -- there is already plumbing in that wall . . . But Christmas is right around the corner and the kids would not be as thrilled as I if Santa brought us a new kitchen this year.  Just sayin'.  The selfish little punks.  : ) 

I just hope the kitchen doesn't turn into a marathon project and that it's in working order before I have to produce a couple hundred cupcakes next weekend.  Because I can hardly wait to show you (and the bride) what I'm doing for those!!


Clearly We Don't Grasp the Concept

We stink at training our dog.  We know it.  Cass is a spoiled little brat of a doggie.  We give her treats when she is being naughty to get her to stop.  I know . . .   This fact became blatantly obvious to me the other day when D said, "Cass, you've been a bad girl lately.  You're all out of treats."  Oh man.  On the bright side, I think we're doing marginally better than that with the training of our children.


What a Difference a Half a Century Makes!

I was out thrifting this weekend, finding nothing good, when I came across this intriguing book.
Now, I have a fondness for old books with interesting covers and clever titles.  Even so, how could I pass up the opportunity to learn "All About Men" for a mere $1.50?  Brent was surprised at how many pages it contained, for how much space to you really need to explain men's enthusiasm for sports, sex, and sandwiches?  Ha ha, funny man.  I'm on to you now and you better be afraid.  This book was written in 1958 and it's wealth of knowledge was nothing short of shocking.  I assumed that the target audience would be women, but after flipping through a few pages I quickly realized it was directed toward men themselves.  Because women are simpletons who trap men into marriages they had no intention of making and should really just be in the kitchen cooking pot roast and doing the dishes, not reading books written by intelligent doctors.  Hmmmmm.  I'll share one of my favorite passages from the chapter titled Fictitious Domination of the Male (with my own emphasis on my favorite parts):
At parties women admire the successful career woman's clothes and tell her how wonderful it must be to be independent.  Then they leave her for the company of some housewife and swap methods of dominating males in a womanly way. . . .
It may be a good thing if she has to work after marriage, but be sure it is a womanly occupation and that she doesn't bring home more money than you do.  If she works you should assume some of the housekeeping chores, but there are certain things that you must not do.
Carry out the garbage, but don't cook or wash dishes unless she is sick.  You may dry the dishes, because in this case you are merely helping.  Let her take the lead in such chores. Clean up the mess you made by dropping ashes and paper on the living room rug, but don't scrub the kitchen floors or make the beds or you will lose face.  She will try to saddle her chores on you, and you may be so much in love you can deny her nothing.  If so, be so awkward and sloppy that she will grab the dish towel in disgust and chase you out of the kitchen. If extreme measures are in order, drop a favorite dish on the floor and break it.  If she asks you to hang wallpaper, louse up the job and she will never ask you again. 
[I KNEW IT!!!  Men, we all KNEW that's what you were doing.  Now we have proof!]
If she insists that you wash the kitchen floor, use a mop and be as slop-happy as you can.  And if she asks you to cook meals, make a mess, and I do mean mess.  If you fry eggs without burning them in the pan, you'll get to fry eggs often.  If you have no luck in burning them to a tasteless crisp, you might try sprinkling them with pipe ashes.  But whatever you do, don't prove yourself a better cook than your wife.  If you do, you'll not only hurt her pride but will be kept at it while she plays golf with the girls, who will marvel at her cleverness in making a sucker out of you. . . .
Buy her new clothes, if you wish, but be warned that she will return them the next day and will enjoy bragging to her girlfriends about your masculine ineptitude.  Your ineptitude may be one of the few things about you that she finds enjoyable.  You may buy her jewelry, but not a hat.  You can tell her how to vote, but not how to wear her hair. . . . You may hint that you like pot roast for dinner, but don't raise a fuss if you get hamburger instead.  You may improve her cooking technique by mentioning how much you enjoyed another woman's pot roast, but just be sure it is one of her girl friends and potential rivals. . . .
Have separate bank accounts, but insist that she pay as she goes.  To her, "charging it" is just like getting it for nothing, but it may mean tears on the first of the month when she finds that she has to return the merchandise.  Hard cash is better than a checkbook.  She won't part with cash unless she really needs something or runs into a gambling machine. If you ever pass through Nevada, change a five dollar bill into nickels.  At the first stop she will get all the thrills out of the nickel one-arm bandits that would come from the dollar machines, and she can play twenty times as long.  It's the pull of the lever that fascinates her rather than the winnings. . . . 
Never get sore and cuss her out.  She wants to be treated like a dear little girl who doesn't know any better.  Scold her, but scold her tenderly.
Wow.  Just . . . wow.  This book was written by a doctor.  Wow.  How about this passage from another chapter:
Divorce may be the only remedy for some situations, but as I have said, when there are children parents should be made to remain together in wedlock as long as the children require the security of a home.  The one who breaks the contract should be thrown into jail and left there a while to meditate on their sins.
I'm not such a fan of divorce either, but c'mon!  Here's another favorite:
You may or may not have proposed to your wife.  Chances are that you don't remember doing so, or of having had any intention to do so.  You may recall that you were mildly surprised to find yourself buying a ring.
My, my, my.   It seems they're on to us ladies.  Our lives of leisure born from saddling our men with all our chores may soon be over.  Good thing we trapped 'em into marriage before they realized what was happening. 

(To be fair to the author, I do find that often groups of women take pleasure in sharing tales of masculine ineptitude.  HOWEVER, we do actually see a lot of really great qualities as well.  Their ineptitude is NOT the only thingt hat brings us pleasure.)


I'm a Sucker for the Back Story

I am.  I love to read books that give you the back story of a fairy tale.  Or present the same story from someone else's perspective.  How did each character come to be what they are?  Why do they make the choices they make?  It's fascinating.  That's what I so enjoyed about Wicked (the musical more so, but the Gregory Maguire book, too).  I also loved Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (also by Gregory Maguire) which is an interesting retelling of the traditional Cinderella story.  I just finished reading Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen by Serena Valentino.  Sure, it was in the Young Adult section and I should be reading books for "grownups" by now.  Sure, it comes from Disney Press which make it seem like it could be cheesy.  But it was thoroughly enjoyable.  It explains how the queen became so obsessed with the magic mirror and the idea of being the "fairest in the land'.  It explains who is speaking to her from the mirror.  It chronicles her descent from a sweet, kind-hearted wife and step mother into a life ruled by vanity, hatred and sorcery.  And it's so believable.  I really understood where she was coming from.  What that says about my personality, I don't know. Yikes.  It was a worthy read, in my book.

Also, before that I got a copy of Mockingjay from our friends Mike and Sarah and read it just as fast as my little eyes would let me.  I LOVED it right up until the end.  Sometimes things don't have to be tied up with a neat little bow.  I kind of wish it would have ended with the action (when you-know-who was supposed to do that thing to the one person but instead did it to another person) and left the rest up to my imagination.  Maybe I would have been disappointed with that, too.  Ends of series must be terribly difficult to write because they're usually so disappointing to read.  I'm just going to pretend I didn't read the last 15 pages or so.


Back Then

Somewhere along the way, through several new computers and transferring of data, a whole lot of our older family photos got lost in a forgotten file in the back up drive.  Sitting, sadly, in limbo.  Forgotten.  Well, not entirely forgotten.  I always wondered why our photo folder only went back to 2007 when we've been a family for nearly 15 years.  Long story short, I found them. I spent hours on Friday looking through them, my heart breaking at how quickly the kids grow up. Don't get me wrong, I think my kids are "da bomb" now, but I just can't help but mourn the passing of babyish faces and chubby little cuddly bodies.  Just look:
So, we have a (marginally) better camera now, but those were some good old days. Thanks for indulging my mommy moment.


Ahhhhhhh . . . Sweet Silence

For the first time in 10 days I have the house to myself.  I don't have any of my three children home sick.  I'm basking in the glory of a peaceful, mostly clean home for a few hours.  And I'm working on some projects:  laundry (no photos of the skivvies -- you're welcome),
Invitations for Young Women in Excellence coming up, and . . .
before and after shots of my living room:
BEFORE:  Look behind the dorks in the vaguely 80's garb to the UHHHHHGLY slate fireplace.
AFTER:  All gone!!  Well, really just cleverly disguised behind a thin sheet of plywood and some beadboard wallpaper.  A totally quick and temporary fix to the biggest eyesore in my home.  Ahhhhh . . .
Here's my new "office":
Once completely wasted space, now the hub of our living area.
I'm adding a few more photos because I fool myself into thinking you care to see the layout of the room.  This is looking down from upstairs.
And this is standing at the foot of my stairs looking in.

The beadboard wallpaper continues all the way around this side of the main floor.  Now I need to remove those vertical blinds behind the desk and replace them with curtains that match the window on the other side, hang that magnet board, clear up the clutter on the desk, tack down the cable that's running to the armoire, (dust the ledges -- yikes! -- haven't been upstairs in a while) and I'll be in business.  Oh, yeah and we still have to caulk and paint the chair rail.  Brent's parents are coming down on December 22nd which means that project will probably get done December 21st.  'Cuz that's how we roll. Anyway, sometimes I look at my home and wish it was a showstopper -- a genuine Parade of Homes masterpiece, but that's just not us.  Not yet.  Sometimes you just have to go with what works.  Have a great weekend, folks!



Wanna know what is really, really not as good as you might think it would be?  The 125th anniversary Dr. Pepper made with real sugar.  I consider myself a soda connoisseur of sorts.  I've spent years refining my palate.  I can taste the subtle difference between Coke from McDonald's and Coke from . . . well, anywhere else.  And don't get me started on the superiority of fountain drinks to canned or bottled.  So hear to me when I say to you that high fructose corn syrup is the best thing that ever happened to carbonated beverages.   Best thing ever.  And that is the sad commentary on the interest level of my life right now.

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