Saturday, August 24, 2013

Celebrate Good Times

It seems like there's always something to celebrate around here. Last month, I spent an afternoon with one of Ben's cousins, making her birthday cake with her and teaching her some decorating tricks. She asked for a teal cake with purple polka dots. Here's where we ended up!

After a disastrous failed attempt at making fondant and gum paste flowers, I used candy wafers to make the flowers. Just melt some wafers in the microwave (follow the instructions on the bag, and DON'T add any other liquid!) and dip a plastic spoon back into the bowl to coat it with melted candy. Don't get any candy anywhere else on the spoon. Put the spoon in the fridge (candy side up) for a few minutes to harden the candy, and then slowly peel it off. Expect that about half of them will break - so be patient!

I used regular plastic spoons for the flowers on the sides, and a larger serving spoon for the flower on the top. (I think it came from the dollar store.)

I used some additional melted candy and extra buttercream as a glue to hold the petals together. I finished them with some aerosol food coloring - although the color didn't absorb as well as I would have liked.

The cake looked so pretty all lit up, and I think the birthday girl was happy with it too!

Also, a few months back, Ben and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. 10 years! Wow, time flies. Anyway, since the idea of taking two small children to Hallmark grips me with fear, I made Ben a card.

Actually, I made him two cards. I couldn't decide. Here's the other.

I used to come up with the numbers. Don't forget to account for all those leap years!

And finally, check out this canvas that Janet made for her husband for Father's Day with hand prints from their three boys. Isn't it great?

Staying Dry

Remember back in March how I mentioned that our basement always seems to be wet? And that I was sick of it?  Things were getting so bad around here, that we had the wet vac on standby in the basement every time it rained, just in case.

Well, in June, our basement took on some water yet again. And again it was a silly, pointless sump pump failer. Another late night workout with the vac. Hey, at least it's good cardio.

Well, this time we decided we weren't going to mess around. We walked past the pallet of the cheap-o sump pumps at Lowe's, and headed straight for the mother of all sump pumps. Ladies, and gentlemen, I give you the extremely expensive, yet extremely effective Basement Watchdog. Because you can't put a price tag on keeping the junk in your basement dry.

Backup pump, backup battery - this thing has it all. And after a couple of serious rain storms, including the return of the lake in the back of the yard and some nice little marble sized hail, the basement is still dry.

Hooray! I remain optimistic that this will fix things. Although I did buy a couple of water sensors for the basement floor. Just in case.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Garden Goodness

Remember a couple months ago when the garden looked like this?

Well, today it looks like this!


Lots of growing going on around these parts. The organic garden soil mix I used in the new containers has been great. I'm always amazed at how fast everything grows.

In the other corner, here's the blackberry bush, which also gets bigger every year.

Because of this year's mild summer, it hasn't been that tough to keep up with everything. My tomatoes are stuck at green, and my blackberries are stuck at red. E and I walk to the garden every day to see what's ripe and it has been a great lesson in patience.

I have harvested a few cucumbers and some dill for pickles...

Some delicious green beans...

And some of that lemon balm for shortbread cookies.

I've also picked a few handfuls of blackberries, but they usually don't make it out of the backyard. Yum yum!