Emoji Cookies

As R is currently unloading a basket of clean, folded laundry, I can now post a quick update in my cookie making adventures.  Last month, I made emoji cookies for fun.  I have to say, they are my favorite cookies made to date.0205152151a

I made some small ones and some bigger ones.  This was my first chance to use my new cookie making tools that I received over Xmas.  The food coloring and squeeze bottles were a huge help with making and frosting these cookies.  I did have one squeeze bottle incident with one of the large cookies.  The cap blew off of it as I was flooding the icing… so I decided to go with it and have a laugh about the mess.

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Other than some nicer looking pans for my cookies, I am going to have to get some more squeeze bottles before R’s birthday.  Making up colors one at a time is not the most efficient way to frost these cookies.

Weight Loss Challenge – Week 1 of 8

So, a group of friends and I are doing a weight loss challenge.  Whomever looses the most weight in 8 weeks wins the prize.  We are judging the winner based on who loses the highest % of their starting weight.  We figured that was the fairest way to do the challenge, since there are so many different body types participating.  I have to say, that the first week I am kicking butt.  Hopefully, I can keep this rate of weight loss going!  The first week, I have lost 1.5% of my starting weight.  Woo hoo!!

I cannot credit any insane exercise plan.  I have just reduced my snacking, tried to eat healthier, and been under an incredible amount of stress.  I have not cut out bacon or gluten or any of the foods that I love.  I have done that in the past, and after a few weeks I have been so miserable that I have overindulged on everything I was restricting.  So instead, this time I am going for moderation.  If I crave french fries, I will have a few.  Not a whole massive order of them, but a few; just enough to take the edge off the craving and make me feel happy in my tummy. With the stress that I am experiencing, I need some good chocolate and beer in my life. :)

2015 Resolutions

It is that time of year again.  The time to start thinking about everything in your life that you want to change.  As much as I would like to go to the gym or take a Photoshop class as part of my resolutions, both of those require money that I do not have laying around right now.  Ah, the joy of being a stay at home mom!  So, part of my goal for next year is to get a job that I actually like or to get my ETSY shop making enough money to have that be my job.  Neither of those made it to my resolution list, though.  Here are my slightly vague, setting the bar low, resolutions for 2015.

IMG_20140817_134737I know this is vague, and a picture of neatly folded laundry doesn’t look very cluttered, but there are so many clothes there.  So very many clothes.  L has a drawer that is FULL of shirts, most of which he doesn’t even wear.  Our house looks like Toys R Us threw up in it on any given day.  My closet is filled with clothes that I would like to fit back into someday… hopefully…  So, my resolution is to get rid of some of the crap that is cluttering my life.  How do I measure this, you may be asking.  Well, I haven’t quite figured that part out yet (quote from Will Scarlet in Robin Hood: Men in Tights).

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This past year has been filled with WAY TOO MUCH fast food.  We were doing good with cooking meals when I was getting Blue Apron boxes every week, but when I quit my job, I had to cut that cost out.  Now, we are running to Jack in the Box all too often after the kids are finally asleep (9 pm).  I have tried to cook at home, but with R being uber clingy and L being crazy after being at preschool all day, neither kid has let me even get a pot of water on the stove most evenings.  So, I am going to be looking for (and probably blogging about) healthy and most importantly fast recipes that I can make on the weekday evenings.  It also helps that I have a contest going with some friends on who can lose the most weight in 8 weeks.  Maybe that will kickstart my healthy eating?

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At the end of this year, I dipped my toes into the world of royal icing and fell in love with it.  I also received a beautiful new mixer and many tools to continue my new hobby.  So, I intend to put those to good use!  Speaking of, I have cookie dough in the fridge right now, waiting to be made into cute woodland creature cookies.  Oh, and fair warning to any of J’s coworkers that read my blog, he WILL be bringing cookies into work.  I am going to be making cookies, but if I am going to keep the previous resolution, I need to get them out of the house as soon as they are done.  My philosophy is: If one cookie is good, eight are better.  So, out of my sight means not in my belly.

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I find that whenever I have a free moment, I end up folding laundry or vacuuming the carpet or just picking up some of the clutter that is everywhere.  I rarely just sit and play with the kids.  I can do a project with them, but if I am asked to wait while L cooks dinner for me in his kitchen, I find myself cleaning or checking my email or doing anything except being in the moment with him.  So, one more resolution is to play with the kids more.  Be in the moment and just play.  Try not to think about all the other things I need to be doing to keep the house running.  Just play.

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I seem to have lost it somewhere between growing up and feeling old.  Uncaring bosses and screaming kids have sucked the joy right out of me.  This past year, the few things that I have found happiness in doing, have had the joy taken out of them by someone else.  So, I am going to keep looking for things that I can find joy in doing/making/being.  I am going to do those things that make me happy and eff anyone that has issues with it.  I am a Maker.  I find joy in making beautiful things.  (I am good at it too)  So, I am going to focus more on doing those things that bring the joy back into my life and avoid the things (and people) that take it away.  Just looking at the picture of R, so happy, makes me more determined to make this goal happen.  I want my kids to remember me as a happy person, not someone that has been run over and depressed by life.

2014 Resolution Recap

Time for my yearly look back at how badly I failed at my resolutions for the past year.  Not being negative, just realistic. ;)  I set the bar low this past year, knowing that I would have some major changes in my life; I did not set the bar quite low enough, though.

Blog More
First up was to blog more.  59 posts published in 2014 compared to 45 posts published in 2013.  I would say that this resolution was a success  I set the bar pretty low on this one, but it was an achievable goal.  Having 2 kids has really made it difficult to find time to write coherently; nap time is usually reserved for laundry, cleaning, and coffee.  This year, I also feel like I had much less to say in general.  So much of my day is taken up with the small difficulties of being a mom that I don’t have anything to say outside of that.

Eat More Family Meals
Technically, we did this one, but not as well as I was hoping to.  Once R was here, it was much more difficult to sit down for a meal than I expected.  Now that things are getting into more of a routine, we end up feeding the kids together around 5 pm and J and I eat together after the kids go to bed.  One or both of us always sit with the kids while they eat so I am going to count that as a family meal.  I hope that with R eating more solid food, we can get better with this as the new year evolves.

Write Thank You Notes
Christmas thank you notes are still pending, but I actually did this one. I wrote thank you notes for L’s birthday gifts and for the baby shower gifts that I received for R.  I am also in the process of writing them for all of the Christmas gifts we received.  I did miss on writing them for my birthday, but that just gives me room for improvement for next year.

Re-Read Books
This is one that I was able to do as well, but not as much as I was hoping to. I read 3 old books for every new book that I bought, but I did not hit the 5 old books per 1 new book that I was aiming for.  Over the past year, I have become addicted to my Nook.  I now do not like reading paper books if I can help it.  As much as I would like to keep reading paper books, if only for the vintage appeal of it, I cannot ignore the benefits of eReaders any longer.  Light included with the book, not as heavy as a real book, easier to hold, and much easier to find the next book in a series (and way too easy to buy a new book with the click of a button).

Go To 10 New Places
I failed abysmally at this goal.  I will use the excuse of having a new baby in the house as my reason for not going to new places.  We did go to quite a few places, which were new to R, but not many were new to all of us.  The few new places we went to were

  1. San Jose Ramen Festival
  2. Parts of Las Vegas – namely some very nice resteraunts
  3. L went to Tatum’s Garden with his grandparents
  4. L and R went to San Francisco for the first time for my 4th Trimester Bodies photo shoot

So, in the end, I would say that I made a solid B effort on completing the resolutions.  I am hoping too either set the bar lower this next year or to make an A+ effort towards getting the resolutions completed.  Considering how much I already have on my plate, I think I will be setting the bar very, very low.

A Step into the World of Royal Icing

For L’s preschool winter festival, I volunteered to make one dozen cookies.  Rather than make the standard chocolate chip cookies that I normally would (haha I would probably just buy them from the store), I decided to try sugar cookies.  I have always loved the smooth icing and fun shapes of fancy sugar cookies.  And being a SAHM, I feel like I should be able to actually make cookies for L’s school.

1215141344To start, I found a recipe online for super soft sugar cookies.  Super Soft Sugar Cookies from I Heart Naptime. They turned out AMAZING!  I used half the dough that day and then used the other half the next day.  I wrapped the unused dough in saran-wrap and stored it in the fridge.  Since I am limited on cookie cutters, I decided to go with a simple circle… not that I had much choice.

I also made my first attempt at Royal Icing that evening.  I used the Wilton recipe and it came out great.  I whipped the icing into stiff peaks, divided it into 2 batches, then put one half in the fridge for later and colored the other half red and green.  I found that to thin the icing, adding 1/2 tsp of warm water at a time let me get the proper consistency without over-thinning.

I did not have the proper food coloring, so my red and green “ornament” cookies came out more pink and mint colored.  I had a pastry bag for drawing the lines and I spooned the flood icing onto the cookies.  After doing this, I added squeeze bottles, more food coloring, and more pastry bags onto my Christmas list.

If anyone is interested, here is the Royal Icing 101 Tutorial from I Heart Naptime that I used to get myself started.  I only worked on 3 cookies at a time.  That gave me the perfect amount of time to flood the icing, then go back an lay down the dots and stripes so they would lay flat into the flood and not bleed the colors together.

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The one sad note in this whole project is that my hand mixer died while making the cookie dough.  Luckily, I have some awesome neighbors that let me borrow their stand mixer so I could finish the cookies.  Now I also have a stand mixer on my Christmas list.

Do I blame Christmas?

I don’t know if this happens with all kids, but L has gone insane over the past month.  Is it due to his age or due to Christmas, I can’t tell.  I can say for sure that this is the first year that he has really understood that Christmas is coming and that he is getting presents (contingent upon good behavior).

This past month has been a challenge and I only foresee it getting worse.  Blatantly ignoring the rules that he once had no problem following.  Screaming “NO” at us when we ask him to do a simple task.  Crying at almost anything.  Constantly whining.  And oh the potty training.  The potty training is a whole different post.

Is this the transition from being a three-nager to the effing fours?  Is this just Christmas and we get to look forward to this every year?  I will let you know next month when the holidays have passed and hopefully the attitude has too.  ::fingers crossed::

Invisalign – Tray 3

Yesterday, I had my attachments put on.  They don’t really tell you about that part in the Invisalign adds.  The attachments create pressure points that help to move your teeth.  They also make your trays fit much tighter.  So tight that I can barely remove my trays.  I have 3 chips in my gel manicure from prying them out.  I have never chipped a gel manicure before!

Since I don’t feel like taking a picture, here is a diagram of my attachments.  They are tooth colored in real life, not blue (thankfully).

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My teeth hurt.  It doesn’t help that I am super stressed out right now, which is causing me to clench my teeth all night long.  So, I have 8 weeks of just attachments, and then I will get my rubber bands put on too.  Joy.  I have to keep telling myself that it will be worth it in the end… and it damn well better be!!  I really miss being able to taste what I am cooking without thinking about it.  And I really, really miss being able to enjoy a cup of coffee.

Invisalign – Tray 1

Yesterday I started my journey towards straighter teeth.  Many friends and family have told me that my teeth don’t seem that crooked, but 2 years of planned Invisalign would disagree with that statement.  Two years.  Well, technically 20 months, but orthodontic treatments somehow always seem to go longer than they first estimate.

For the 3 people that are reading this, if you do not know what Invisalign is, it is “invisible” braces.  Clear and quite stiff trays that you wear for 2-3 weeks at a time that will slowly straighten your teeth.  Some teeth movement is not able to be done with this treatment, but it seems like many people are candidates.

6 weeks ago I went to get my teeth scanned so they could make my treatment plan and order my trays.  Seeing a 3D model of your mouth on a computer is pretty amazing.  I love the fact that I did not have to get molds made, always a painful process for me.  6 weeks ago, I paid my deposit to start the treatment and set up the payment plan for the rest of the (quite high) cost.

Yesterday, I was finally able to get my first set of trays… out of 38.  It was a pretty easy process, having been a previous acquaintance of whitening trays.  These trays are much stiffer and tighter fitting, but they did not cause any pain… at first.  The first 2 sets of trays for me will have no attachments, but in a month, I go back in to get my attachments put on.  I will have 9 buttons (tooth colored protrusions to help move my teeth) on my teeth and hooks for rubber bands.  Luckily, I do not need any attachments on my front 2 teeth, just 7 of the upper surrounding ones, and one lone one on the lower.  I have seen pictures of people with 3 attachments on one front tooth, and it is quite visible to me.  I was a little concerned that I would be in the same situation, but you can imagine my relief that I am not.

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Now, about the pain.  4 hours after my appointment, the pain started.  Oh man, did the pain start.  I took ibuprofen and it did squat for the pain.  We had pasta for dinner (not al dente, quite cooked), but it was harder and more painful to chew that I expected for the first day.  Luckily, I was tired enough from R not sleeping that I was able to pass out in bed with no problem.  When I woke, my teeth did not hurt at all.  I did notice that my morning breath was way worse than usual.  You would think that excessively brushing and flossing would make it better!  After being up and about for a few hours, I noticed that my teeth were starting to hurt again.

Now, well into my second day, the pain is almost gone.  Just a slight ache and tightness in a couple of my teeth.  Those same teeth are feeling a slight bit loose, but I don’t know if that is all in my head or real at this point.  I know it is a common side effect of the treatment.  Be prepared to hear about all the nightmares I have about my teeth falling out when I remove a tray.  It feels so good to remove the trays right now.  Like when you are bloated and wearing too tight pants, then you undo that top button and sweet relief.

I am committed to seeing this treatment through, but right now it is very frustrating.  I am at home, and R is going through a no nap phase.  So, I am having a hard time distracting myself from the frustration of having the trays in and not being able to sip on my coffee all day.  No more all day coffee and tea.  I am dying a little inside.

Stay at Home Mom – Week 5

Now that I have been a SAHM for a whole month now, I wanted to write about my feelings about it. I have R home with me every day, and L still goes to a full day of preschool/daycare 5 days a week. I had both kids home with me last Friday and I was at the end of my rope by 2 pm. I think that it will get better when L is more used to being at home with R and I. He was just very demanding of my attention that whole day, which made it very difficult to take care of R and give her attention too.

Overall, I am enjoying the time that I have at home. I am able to pursue my dream of having a career where I am able to use my creative side, but I am also able to work flexible hours that I dictate. The day-to-day stuff is pretty tedious, but each sale or custom item request I get through my shop makes each day a little different. I am still trying to find the balance between cleaning, working on my shop, playing with the kids, and cooking that works best for our family. I have been spending more time playing than cleaning, but I doubt I will ever regret that! I am glad that I made my shop, it give me something that is mine. Something that is not about being a mom or wife.

Both kids like having me home, that is clear. R is eating good, gaining weight, and has hit a bunch of milestones this past month. L likes having me take him to school and daycare, especially because when I drop him off or pick him up I am not rushing around. I can take the time and have him show me what he did at school that day, I can give him the extra snuggles he asks for (demands) when he is having a rough morning. Our weekends have also become more fun, because now we are not spending the whole time running errands and cleaning house; we can do fun things on the weekend now!

I don’t know how long I will really be able to stay at home. Financially, it is still a big challenge (especially since we just got another hospital bill from R’s birth), but personally I am finding it very fulfilling. I am noticing the lack of adult interaction, but I am hoping to find a group of moms/dads that I can join. If not, I can always start my own group.

Wow, that is quite a rambling stream of consciousness. Oh well, that is what I came to write today, so that is what you get. Proofreading is for suckers. LOL