02 November 2011

All Hallows Eve

Cue the creaking doors and boogie man laugh....

This is as close as Andrew got to dressing up for Halloween...darn those jobs.

This year I wanted to make sure Madelin took full advantage of this free candy holiday (for purely selfish reasons I assure you).  We broke out my old china doll costume, straight from China Town in San Francisco, and headed to Night of the Living Zoo.
Oh my goodness...

Perhaps it wasn't the best idea to take two (yes Jadon came with us) toddlers out to a party that might have been meant for older kids.  There were other little ones, but with all the slow moving lines it definitely wasn't geared toward toddlers.
Oh yea, I had a rough time trying to get into costume.  After no luck finding an outfit that didn't have the word "sexy" or a kimono (really?) I landed on Audrey Hepburn.  My hair is already short and I own enough black to make it work.  Until I walked outside, then promptly walked back inside to grab the most vintage looking coat I own.  So, I guess I just ended up dressing "fancy".  Perhaps it would've been more convincing if I had worn my sundglasses in the picture.

It was worth a try...

  Other than the inflatables the Witch's Zoo was probably Madelin's favorite, especially the pirate who let you pet his cat (hehe).  It was G rated I promise.

 This little girl isn't afraid of anything...seriously.

 I told you so...

There was also Boo Bowling.  They thew pumpkins at a row of ghosts.  We had to stand in line for this one because throwing pumpkins is right up her alley (yea, I try to be funny).  We tried not to wait in too many lines because Madelin had a tendency to help herself to the other childrens' candy or glow sticks.  Which bring me to: since when did flashlights become uncool and glow sticks become the accessory of choice?

Jadon was much better at bowling.  Look at that arm!

Madelin was given a pumpkin, handed it back, and went for the candy.  Smart girl.

I'd like to introduce Mr. Elmo the saloon girl and Ms. China cowboy.  They're very friendly.

There was an entire row of pumpkins lit up and I wish I had a video because Madelin had to stop and squat in front of each one before she could move on to the next.  That was when our group lost us.

 Is it just me or does she look way too happy to have her head in that contraption. 

I hope everyone had a safe and candy-filled Halloween and feel free to share!

28 October 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up

Considering my history of sporadic blogging gaps I thought a little structure may help me out.   Every Friday I'm going to share something that I've been enjoying, working on, or drooling over with you! 
This week has been Christmas gifts.  We're going to try to give strictly homemade gifts this year.  Of course, I can't share everything we're making, but when I can I will.
First on the list is Madelin.  I'm sure she won't mind we spoil the surprise.  She's good at sharing...kinda.

 My name is Ashley and I have a problem.  It usually present itself when a garage sale sign is present.  I don't know what happens. Something just comes over me and I follow that sign like its a road map to Baskin Robbins (ice cream is also a problem, but that's for another time). 
Typically I don't stop unless it has furniture and is located in an older neighborhood.  (I like my purchases to come with history and baggage.)

Last week on my way home from work (with no time to spare, I might add) I stopped at a garage sale in College Hill.  This is one of those neighborhoods where each tree seems to be perfectly placed, the houses (no two are alike) are scrupulously kept up and it just makes you want to sit on their front porch and watch the children play.
 Well...lets just assume you know the people who's porch you end up sitting on. 
Otherwise, that's a little creepy isn't it.

Back to my story.
I found an old nightstand and a bookcase with doors which I haggled down to $20- for the pair!  The bookcase is real wood, by the way, which is very exciting for those of us who like to paint furniture.
I didn't really need a nightstand, but I've been looking at some DIY play kitchens and for $10 it was worth it.
For example...

 I love the modern color combination paired with the classic lines of the nightstand.  Look at those glass knobs; don't even get me started.  This one is definitely for a girlie girl, or the girl who likes to pretend to cook and never will.

 I like the simplicity of this one because, lets face it, I'm no Ana White.  A little paint, plywood and elbow grease equals a great-looking play kitchen.

This one looks pretty similar to the one I picked up.  I haven't decided if I'm going to take both the drawer faces off or just one.  I know I want an hinged oven door, but I'm not sure if I want to attempt a microwave or just the curtain.
Good thing Christmas is two months away.


This is awesome!

Am I too old to play with this too?

This is by far my favorite.  The tile accent and the oven light make it so realistic, plus Madelin loves turning lights on and off.  Two birds with one stone people.

There you have it.  One man's junk really is another one's treasure (or in our case, Christmas present).

27 October 2011

Oops, I dropped the ball...

Like big time.
How long has it been since I've written a post...umm a month (probably longer).
Like I said,

Honestly, you all haven't missed that much.
What have we been up to?  Hmm, let me think...
We hosted a garage sale, rearranged the furniture (just kidding this doesn't count- I do that at least once a week), and introduced Madelin to pumpkins.  Yea I think that covers it.
Our schedule has been packed, as you can see.

It turns out garage sales are no joke (pun intended).
I was under the impression that we'd just quickly label our items and have loads of fun haggling with customers.

Not so sally (That's for you Marty).

It's like real work.
In addition to our junk, we had stuff from both parents, the Shaffer's, and two of our friends.  That's too many people to keep track of when you're totaling up someone's tab.  Not to mention setting up and taking down for three days.  After sitting outside all day doing, well, nothing, I've never been so tired in my life.
Thank goodness for grandmas.  I'm not sure what I would have done had Madelin been here all day with us.

All in all, it was a mess success.

Family picture count = 3
That's pretty bad isn't it.

We spent an afternoon at Cox Farms with my brother, his wife, and their adorable son Jadon.  It was a nice (not so crisp at 80 degrees) fall day and we figured we better get a pumpkin before Halloween.  Little did we know these were $8 pumpkins.
Note to self- next year just buy pumpkins and skip the patch.

This was Madelin after we told her how much her pumpkin cost and that she better appreciate it.
Wait, no, this was her, "Get your camera out of my business," look.
Sorry, they look so much alike.

Madelin did gave us a couple good photo ops throughout the day. 
Sadly I didn't get many pictures of the actual farm.  Probably because I was a little disappointed.
You didn't even get to pick your pumpkin off the vine. 
They had already picked them and put them in an open field full of hay bales, scarecrows, and a dead tractor.

  Can you see the attitude this girl has already.  It makes me nervous.  God help us if she's anything like I was when I was a teenager.

So after we "picked" our pumpkins we found the goats.  Oh boy, goats never disappoint.
Let me present you with exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Madelin. Loves. Goats.

Madelin tried to share her love of goats.

Jadon wasn't that impressed.

As the afternoon wore on, the thumb went in,

and the head went down.

So we took our fancy $8 pumpkins and headed to QT to get some refreshment but we decided we couldn't afford to $5 drinks and funnel cakes (darn it).

That was a good day.
Even though it definitely was no Corn Dawgs.

25 September 2011

Homemade Goodness

Oh my goodness.   It has taken me a ridiculous amount of time to get this post published.  I'm not quite sure what happened this last week to make us so busy/tired.   My apologies.
I've put off writing this post because according to my father/ taste-tester "we needed to sit down and have a bread-making talk."
Apparently he wasn't impressed by my pastry skills.

I'm going to write it anyway.

We're eating homemade bread starting last week now.  That's the plan anyway.
I want my daughter to grow up with a momma who cooks, bakes and has yummy homemade goodies instead of supermarket snacks.
Don't worry, I'm not so naive that I don't realize when she gets older Twinkies and Nutty Bars might make it onto her list of requests.

Besides, I went through that.

I loathed my mother for not buying us Lunchables (and for not writing notes to me on a napkin in my lunchbox)  Silly me...

I remember standing on the stool with my little apron on as my mom tried to teach me how to bake, and now I regret not paying more attention.
Cookies, brownie's, and cakes I can do.
Bread is different.  Bread is a living, breathing pastry.  It's finicky and cocks an attitude when the weather changes.
Also, I was also taught to follow a recipe religiously when it comes to baking.  It just doesn't work like that with bread.  The recipe is more like a set of guidelines.  Use your own discretion.

I don't know about you, but using my discretion was hard to do when I didn't know what the h%$# I was doing in the first place.

Okay, so first I tried a couple recipes out of the America's test-kitchen cookbook.  It's like the cookbook for dummies so I thought it was a pretty safe choice.
(If you're a visual learner, this would be a great cookbook for you.)

They were... alright.

The white bread was almost too easy to make.  It got my hopes up, then, ever so kindly SMASHED them as I attempted the wheat bread.  Thanks.
So I did a little googling.  I'm not a gambler, but Google is like Russian Roulette for recipes.  Most of the time you get lucky, but ever once in a while you get a rotten egg.
Hey, sometimes I like to live on the wild side.  .
After browsing awhile, I found an oatmeal wheat bread recipe over at Epicurious.    It looked harmless enough. Besides, I wasn't about to give up on wheat bread.  The nutritional value of white bread isn't enough to keep me around no matter how easy it is to make.

So here's how it all went down - in a nutshell.

So besides white flour and wheat flour, this is what you'll need.
Milk, yeast, honey (or sugar), butter, and Old-fashioned oats. Oh yea, and some salt.

Basically, you proof your yeast in the liquid, whether it be milk or water.  Keep your liquids around 95 to 115 degrees or you'll kill your yeast.
Then, here's the best part, throw it all together in your blender with the dough hook attachment.  No kneading here.
Your hands will thank you.
When your dough is the correct consistency (I told you I'm just skimming the surface here) let it rest a couple minutes then put it in a greased/ buttered bowl.  Cover the bowl and let it rise.

Here's where you use your discretion.  It may say 1 hour, but just let the size be the judge here.

After the dough doubles its size, think of everything your significant other has done that day to bust your chops then PUNCH that dough down (one time is enough) as you recall.

Now dump that dough out on a floured surface and flatten it out into a rectangle so you can roll it into a loaf.
This particular recipe made enough for two loaves so I decided to try one in a metal 9x5 pan, and the other in a glass 8x4 pan.
Let those loaves rise again in the pans after swiping the top with a little water/butter/oil, whatever you like.
Again, let the size be your judge here.

When they've reached their peak go ahead and brush the top with an egg wash and add some oats if you'd like.
Throw 'em in the oven, and you're done.
When they are done the bottoms will sound hollow when tapped or you can insert a themometer (not the one you use when you're sick) and if it reached 200, you're good to go.


This picture is a it deceiving.  The front loaf is about half the size of the back. 
Lets just say, I'm not a fan of baking bread in glass pans.

So that's an amateur take on bread making for ya.  I apologize if you're a seasoned baker and my directions just made your shudder, I'm sure. 

How did they taste?
Better than store bought, but nothing impressive. 
(That is what my father wanted to "talk" about.)

What is something new you've tried lately?  
How did it come out?

18 September 2011

Oh Andrew...

I started to organize our photos the other night using Picasa.  This was long over due.  For example, I still haven't printed more than 5 wedding photos.
I know I know, its bad.
After almost 3 straight hours looking at the screen (ouch!) I'm disappointed to say I'm still not done.
It's my own fault.  I like to reminisce as I organize, but something blatantly obvious stood out as I worked. 
After flipping through folder after folder I started to notice a lack of a certain someone.
I'll give you a hint

Perhaps he is always the one taking the photos, I don't know.  Either way  he was definitely in the minority.

So I just wanted to leave you all this Sunday with a highlight of someone I like to call daddy; I don't want Madelin to get confused.
I know what you were thinking...shame on you.

Bird watchers

I just want you all to note, he was as long as a bald eagle.
You're impressed I'm sure.

 Feeding the goats is now one of Madelin's favorite things to do.  He's right, we should be farmers.

This is from Madelin's birthday party.  You can see more on that here if you missed it.  Mmmm chocolate orange cupcakes.

Look at that shiny black hair, perfect smile.  Clearly I married him for his looks.

No really, I'm going to have to make it a point to get some good decent pictures of him. 
Is it a guy thing not to smile in pictures?  I thought they grew out of that.

So there you have it.  The man of our house.  (Love you Andrew)

Does anyone else have a noteworthy man they'd like to share a little something about or some tips/ tricks about Picasa since I'm a newbie?

14 September 2011

Shifting Winds

Does anyone else feel like the big guy upstairs has taken pity on us and blown us a cool breeze. 

I do. 
And believe me, I thanked Him.

Then, I started packing up our summer clothes.  I needed to free up some space anyway.  Our closet is the size of a port-o-potty, maybe smaller (smells better though). 
This whole budget thing has really cut into my shopping time.  Oh leisurely Target trips how I miss you.  Instead, I have to hide my wallet and "window shop" online.  I've also had to become a little more creative about my outfit options unless I want to wear the same thing every week. 
I may be poor, but darn it, I'm going to make it look good.

Lucky for me my mother kept a good portion of her clothes from the 70's, and they just so happen to be back in style.  After flipping through this fall's edition of InStyle magazine I will promptly be pulling out her cape and sending it to the dry cleaners. 

All her jewelry and dresses have already been retrieved and stashed in my "closet."

Since I don't get to go on shopping sprees anymore I believe in buying investment pieces, if you are going to purchase a new item.
But if its 80% off hanging on the clearance rack and you really want it, then anything goes.
(Quit rolling your eyes Andrew)

Here's my fall wish list to give my wardrobe a little push in the right direction.

A saddle bag (as in purse, not my hips) is something I've been eye-balling for a while now.  I found this baby at JCPenny for 19.99.  I just can't bring myself to spend more than that on something that will be sitting on the floor for the majority of its life.  
The blouse I also picked up at Penny's (thanks mom).  It reminds me of either my grandmother or a secretary.  Either way, I like it.  I'm picturing it with a high-waisted skirt or flared jeans.

Okay, lets stop a minute.  I need to talk about something no woman wants to talk about: legs.
(You chicken-leg women don't have to listen to this)
I have small feet, but if you were judging by my calf size, you wouldn't know it.  A size 6 boot never fits over my calves!  I have longed to have a good-looking pair of boots for years now, but all the wide-calf (aka plus size) boots are, well, ugly!  Even at my lowest weight (115), my wedding weight, I couldn't have pulled on a pair of those suckers if I had wiped a whole tub of Crisco on first.  I resigned to tights and decided it just wasn't going to happen for me.
Then I saw those puppy's up there (I should stop giving my accessories pet-names huh) and knew someone special was thinking of me this year.  They are semi-stretchy, but also have a clasp on the back that loosens  (or tightens for you lucky ones).  They fit like a charm.  At 39.99 I'll take em!
Oh, and by the way...
If any of you ask me about this conversation later, I'll deny having it.

Last, but not least, the dress.  I could wear a dress every day of the week, so something long and ladylike is what I'm picturing.  Realistically, this Mango, is way out of my budget, but I'm hoping to find something a bit more affordable.   

What is something you are looking forward to getting this fall?  Better yet, name something in your wardrobe that is a must-have.  Please people, I like to hear what's on your minds too!