I'm in Luv with Craig...

... Craigslist that is.

As our ever-dwindling countdown ticks on and inside projects are completed (or nearly just) the yard has been left simpering in the cold; mangy and starved for attention. Now that spring is nipping at our backsides, not to mention the in laws, the thought of 'needed' landscaping projects came crashing down like a ton of rock.

Yes, we need rock.

Tons and tons of rock. Big rocks, little rocks, holey and lichen covered rocks. Sure, rocks in landscaping look natural and such but handing over moola for them is either for the idiots or brainwashed children eager to own one as a 'pet'.

Luckily, Craig has been there for me, keeping me with my money. I found a listing for free rock near the river and all we have to do is pick it up. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we will be hauling rock, oodles of rock.

And as an added bonus, Craig connected me with two yards of nearby bark. The Farmers and I, armed with shovels, tarp, and trailer brought it home. It was enough to cover all the front landscaping and Maple Hill in the back - all for free!

As we were driving home with the bark in tow, Devin asked, "Where's my mom and what have you done with her? This isn't like you. You're happy about bark." (I was ha-ha-ing a la Nelson at all of the empty trailers as they went by.) It wasn't until we passed a landscaping supply store two days later that he understood my giddiness. "$48.00 a yard? Mom, you just saved us a HUNDRED dollars!"

I luv Craig!

The Unhappy Happy Easter

(Maddy's Mad)

Easter crept up on us this year. I knew it was coming but with all the other 'stuff ' I had going on, it was here before I could catch my breath. Nine eggs were dyed that morning and hidden in the Great room hap-hazardly; the sooner the hunt was over the better. A last minute hop to the Dollar Tree Saturday night filled in the rest; bubbles, Peeps, etc.

Maddy was upset (as if you couldn't tell from the picture) about her hair, her dress, her shoes, her nails and the fact that Daddy took her strawberry Bubblicious away. Pictures were F-U-N!

Instead of remembering the real reason of Easter, we were all rather grumbly, forgetful (three trips back to the house during church) and more than happy to change into comfy clothes and dive into the lasagna baking in the oven when it was all through. F.H.E. was ditched for family calls (Grandma's like to talk) and two hours later it was nearly time for bed.

All was not lost in the end when the family had an impromptu discussion about the Savior, His Resurrection, and an Atonement explanation for five year old's. Granted, it was over in five minutes time but given the 'mood' of the day it was an accomplishment.

Hope your Easter was great!

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

Maddy's birthday party was a blast!

She was so excited as her guests arrived, especially when they came bearing gifts. They played, ate heart-shaped, strawberry and peanut butter sandwiches with strawberry milk to drink, made personalized bracelets, played some more, and finished up with strawberry cakes and strawberry icecream. It was a very strawberry day.

The first words she uttered this morning were, "When are my friends coming over?"

Maddy's Mini-Cakes

As if I don't have a bazillion-gagillion things to accomplish this week, I decided to make mini-cakes for Maddy's birthday party tomorrow. Cupcakes are overdone and I wasn't about to make a full-blown, strawberry-filled, three layer, two hours worth of decorating masterpiece to be ravaged by a bunch of four and five year old ladies before the last high-pitched note of "Happy Birthday" stopped ringing in my ears. Using whats left of my noodle, I broke out the mini-loaf pan buried at the bottom drawer of baking tins and went to work.

Calling upon the Michelin Man's dwarfed cousin, I enlisted the help of Mr. Doughboy for the strawberry batter and K-E-double L-O-Good for the accents. I've never used pre-made fondant before but Wilton definitely has it covered; so easy to use that even I can do it. Think of it as somewhat better tasting pie crust. Knead, roll, cut, lay out, smooth, done. Food coloring can be added too and makes a neat-o marbled effect if not mixed thoroughly.

After getting my kindergarten PlayDough fix, I covered the loafs with 1/8" thick fondant and used the Yogos Rolls as edible ribbon. The trick with the gooey fruit snack is to trim it on the paper backing and keeping a small bowl of confectioner's sugar close by. Apply the 'upside' to the cake with glue (H20) and show the smooth 'paper side'. Watch out, each roll is a different width. It took just over one roll to decorate each mini-cake - oopsies included. However, the ribbons do not hold their shape for very long. The loops were curved and rippled when finished but droopy by the time I completed the next cake. Don't try to pry them apart... it's hazardous to ones sanity and will only make matters worse. Play up the imperfection by claiming 'artistic freedom' and flaunt it like a rockstar, baby.

(Finished size: 4"L x 2" W x 2" H)

(It's really green...not blue. She wanted a Strawberry Shortcake Doll Theme)

Chaos Unorganized Pt. IV: Pantry Party

What better way to spend an entire Monday than cranking up the 80's play list, belting out 'Love is a Battlefield' quite convincingly in my best Pat Benatar angst while wading waist-deep into the chaos of what was once thought to be a pantry.

From the shame of it, the before picture didn't happen, just trust me - it wasn't good. The little room off the kitchen became The Projects for anything too big for the junk drawer and finding multiple cans of the same slop was asking too much in my usual 'what-am-I-gonna-fix' dinner panic.

It took some re -rearranging, scrubbing, emptying those over-flowing crumb trays at the bottom of the toaster, the discovery that potatoes, onions and garlic can grow anywhere and I mean ANYWHERE, sugar mixed with spice is anything but nice and honey should replace super-glue as an all-around household adhesive. A special thanks go out to the Farmers for that 2 quart nightmare of golden goo.

Things are much better now that I don't have to pretend to be a modern day Moses and part the 'seas' just to get to my broom. (Cross off excuse #204 of why my floor hasn't been swept.) The left side is chalked full of foods etc. and to the right, an army of small appliances. Five Salad-Shooter rings, four Kitchen Aid attachments, three Crockpots, two food-processors, and a Teflon-coated extra large griddle.

A little battle weary but trudging on...

My Ballerina Girl

("Mom, you're embarrassing me!")

Today was Maddy's first day of dance class. It's a combined Ballet/Tap program full 0f pink and black clad princesses between the ages of four and five. She loved it. The floor was slick, her tap shoes were loud, and her skirt splays out when she twirls. What more could a girl ask for? Her friend!

We had a bit of an issue this morning, the pink tights I had bought specifically for ballet - that had been sitting on my kitchen counter up until Sunday - were missing. Time was running out and still no tights. Maddy suggested that we ask Heavenly Father to help us find them and pray about it to which I replied dismissively, "You pray and I'll keep looking."

Sure enough, I found them at the bottom of her recently reduced stuffed animal basket. "It worked!" she said as I got her ready, "Heavenly Father helped us find the tights." Testimonies can grow in the strangest of places and my almost five year old can put me back on the straight and narrow, teaching me a thing or two about humility.

Pirouettes and Plies...


March's Food Group Activity is themed around eggs and Easter. This is the demo I decided to do for the sisters. I found the recipe online (no pictures or tips), they used a lot of fancy-schmancy stuff so I dumbed it down for the rest of us. Okay, maybe just for me, I'll be honest!

First things first, pucker up and blow! Fill the 9" balloons so that they are roughly the size of a giant Naval orange. Wash, dry, set aside. With a cookie sheet lined with was paper, spritz some cooking spray then do the same with each of the balloons, especially on the bottoms and sides. Major step, don't forget.

I don't have a double-boiler so I stuck a pot on top of another filled 1/4 of the way with water, lit it up and tossed in the melting chocolate. Vanilla, pretty inexpensive at Winco in the bulk section or you can use white chocolate chips, either one will work just hunky-dory. When the chocolate is melted - and cooled a bit - dip the balloons. This step seemed a lot like making taper candles. Dip, hang, dip, hang, dip, hang... etc. etc. until you've achieved a decent coating. Then set on the greasy wax paper. If it's lopsided, no worries, I know you're just off center too! lol

WARNING: Be sure your chocolate is warm but not hot. If you can stick you finger in it and it doesn't feel warmer against your skin then you're good to go. Otherwise... POP!!! I had chocolate spots 13' away! Learn from my boo-boo's unless you really like cleaning your kitchen and need an excuse to slurp the melted chocolate up off your counter.

Once the balloons are covered, place them in the fridge for awhile. Meanwhile, go try to clean the mess you just made. Twenty minutes later I brought them back out into the sunlight and carefully snipped the necks. Ease the air out slowly. Sounds of flatulence may occur and when they do, the kiddo's will think your cool in a gross, boyish sort of way. I discovered that sometimes the balloon gets stuck and you need to help it along a bit. Remember, its supposed to look like a cracked egg so don't stress if chunks come off. (I had to keep telling myself that.)

Next I made my two-second, disposable piping bag (Ziploc filled with goo and the corner snipped off) and filled the bottom of the egg with Cheesecake flavored pudding. Finishing the egg-look off was the lemon pie filling as the yolk.


Everyone will think you've turned into Martha Stewart with this egg-cellent Easter dessert. Just smile, bat your eyes and say sheepishly, "It was nothing, really."