Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Back to Square One.

I stepped on the scale this morning. Damn near fainted.

Since around the first of the year I have been on a diet. No, not so much a diet as a lifestyle change. I was doing pretty well. I had lost 15 or so pounds. I was happy with that, but of course wanted to go further.

The whole family got sick about a month ago. They all got better, I did not. I finally went to the doctor and was put on an array of meds, including a cortical
steroid. Do we all know the side effects of those? Weight gain (among others). I knew this going in. Ok, I thought, must be extra diligent. It's only a week, what could happen??

You can gain every single pound you've lost BACK, is what can happen.
Right. Sooooo, I'm in a pissy mood today.
Now that I've gotten that off of my chest I can move on.
**FAIR WARNING** Picture quality is super crappy. I used my camera phone for all of these pictures. Sorry.
Do your kids constantly beg for cupcakes? Mine do. I'm not sure why. I don't make cupcakes all that often. Not a HUGE fan of cupcakes myself. Don't get me wrong, LOVE making them, I just doing really love them enough to waste the calories eating them (see, lifestyle change! The old me would never have said that!!).

Anyway, last week I was just in the mood to bake and the kids wanted to help. How, exactly, can two 4 yr olds and a 2 yr old help with cupcakes without making a huge mess???
Enter my smartest investment EVER. No, really, EVER.

I have used these things more than any other kitchen item (that's totally not accurate, but I use them a lot).

You can make the fanciest pancakes using those bad boys: names, numbers, simple designs, shapes, you name it! Takes a bit of the mess out of it too. No stray drops or splatters. I also use these when we're making pizza. I actually bought a bunch for the girls' last birthday party. I didn't think giving a spoon and a huge bowl of pizza sauce to 3 and 4 yr olds sounded like a good idea, but I wanted them to be able to make their own pizzas. Voila! Little bottle comes in handy again!

I also use these a lot when plating. Yes, I plate dishes. Not every day, mind you, but I get this weird little thrill from making things look ultra fancy. A little swirl of chocolate here, a twirl of pesto there. Ya dig?

So yes, back to cupcakes. The kids sort of have a color assigned to each of them. Twin A is red/pink, Twin B is blue and Pickles is green. Naturally, they all wanted the cupcakes to be their color. I divided the batter into three bowls, tinted them in their respective colors, and then I filled the bottles with it.

I assigned each kid two rows of the muffin pan to work with. Using their bottles, they squirted a bit in each tin then we turned the pan and they repeated the process until all of the muffins had each color in them. They were wildly impressed with this but I was not done.

I was not about to make three different colors of buttercream and frost some one color some another. So what I did was I took a pastry bag and painted one red stripe, one green stripe, and one blue stripe on the inside with a gel food coloring, filled the bag with plain white buttercream and went to town. The results were quite fun!

**Special note** I did not even eat these so this is NOT why I gained the weight back!!!! Ha!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Take THAT, Pottery Barn

Oh Pottery Barn,
You think you're so fancy...and you are.
I often get your catalog and dream of having it's contents splashed all over my house.
Then I look at my bank statement and realize, that just ain't happenin'.

Much to my delight, I saw a post on Dollar Store Crafts about making the robin's egg vase filler from PB. SWEET!
PB's vase filler is really cute and would just be fabulous sitting on my table, but there is no way I am paying $14 (plus tax) for those bad boys. I will however pay $1 (plus tax).

Seriously people, these were so easy and turned out so fabulous.

I went to the Dollar Tree and bought these little foam eggs, took them home, pulled out the ribbon, stuck them on kabob skewers (for easy handling during painting) and painted them (*note* use a sponge brush, NOT a regular paintbrush)!

I had the paint on hand. I mixed a couple of colors until I found the shade I like. Even if you had to buy the blue and brown paint, that's like, what, two or three bucks (depending on the brand you buy)?? Paint the entire egg, one heavy coat will do ya, or two thinner coats. When it's relatively dry (or when you've run out of patience, whichever comes first), take them outside and splatter the heck out of them with brown paint. I did this using The Dude's an old toothbrush. I thinned the brown paint with a bit of water first to make it splatter a bit better.

For argument's sake, let's say I had to buy the eggs, buy the paint AND buy the vase they're pictured in (from the dollar store): the total would come to

$1 for the eggs
.99 per paint color (2 needed)
$1 for vase
plus LA state tax
My little project cost would have been $4.30, a far cry from $15.12 (even with the free shipping PB is advertising).

I'm gonna go swipe some Spanish moss from the trees down the street to complete the nest-look in my vase. That little addition will be free-ninety-five, people...courtesy of mother nature.

P.S. the eggs came out looking sort of electric blue in these pictures. I assure you this is not the case. I'm just too lazy to go mess with the color saturation/shadows/crap like that.