We saw the sign tonight when we arrived for play practice. It's awesome...and huge! While Axel doesn't have his own name in lights, he is so proud of what he's been doing with Charlotte's Web that he totally struck a pose for the camera.
People who know by boy well will tell you two things about him. 1. He doesn't pose for the camera. 2. He NEVER runs...
...until tonight. That kid will pose like Travolta and run for the STAGE door – faster than I'll run for an avocado sale at Aldi.
This is where we leave you. No sneak previews allowed.
I know, I know – the rest of the world has been Instagramming for eons. I've just recently been bit by the bug and this year for Axel's bowling alley birthday I've Instagrammed each of his friends to put a final vintage touch on that crazy party. Here is Axel blowing out his candle.
"I just can't believe I'm five." - Axel
I know I've featured these cookies before, perhaps a couple of years ago. I remember saying what a royal pain they were to make. The same is true. What is also true is that my hospice patient happened to mention how she is craving "the cookies my grandmother used to make" and went on to describe these exact cookies.
While the Children's Miracle Network may focus on extravagant dreams and lofty bucket lists, I'm noticing that in terminally ill adults, the further they get to exploring the place after this, the more their senses are heightened and cravings for particular smells, tastes and memories of their years here on earth come to the surface.
I thought that just maybe, I could take the recipe that Jahred's great-grandmother left behind and bring my patient something yummy and nostalgic when I see her tomorrow.
For the rest of you, I will give you this recipe. Of course I don't have permission to do so, and if I'm breaking my in-laws "secret family recipe code" I'll pay the price later. However I gotta believe that every woman would relish her reputation be attached to a recipe that is notoriously rich and timeless.
Frosted Molasses Ginger Cookies
1 c sugar
1 cup shortening (this is the ONLY recipe where I actually use shortening)
1/2 cup molasses
3 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
4 1/2 cups flour (I only use 4)
Combine and mix well. Roll out or use a cookie scoop. If using a cookie scoop, press down in center to flatten slightly.
Bake at 325 for 7-10 minutes (I like my cookies slightly under-baked and 7 is perfect).
1 envelope Knox gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
Combine the two above, letting the gelatin dissolve in a large mixer bowl (or the bowl for your electric mixer if you have one.) Let sit on counter while you cook the remaining ingredients.
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
1 dash salt
Cook the three ingredients above to thread stage (230-235 degrees). Pour over gelatin mixer. Using a hand or electric mixer, beat the tar our of this mixture until it is spreading consistency. It will take some time. 20 minutes isn't out of the question. If the humidity is high, it may never work (be warned).
That is the recipe! Below you can see how mine turned out. I'm working on animated images...this one's a bit wild. I can't get it to slow down. Some sort of glitch in Photoshop where I can't set the delay. Hmmm.
** Update. I wrote this yesterday and brought the cookies to my friend today. Turns out I'm about 1 day too late for cookies. She did recognize that I was there, but hasn't the strength left to taste them. I'm a little sad that I'll never know if they taste like her grandmothers, but certainly don't regret putting in the effort. It's always the thought that counts.
So I receive a convo on Etsy today that reads like this:
I stumbled across your beautiful fingerless gloves today, I am not sure if you are aware but the name Wristies is trademarked. You must use a different word to describe your product, please avoid litigation and change the name immediately on all website and printed references. If you have any questions about the trademarked word Wristies® please contact me at any time.
What? When I was trying to think of a name for the darn things I googled every possible option and settled on the name (which I will not use because it is banned). Frankly I thought it was a lame name, but other describing words seemed to already be used.
I googled it just a little while ago, after receiving above convo and it appears that their website and I'm assuming their name was trademarked in 2013. Wow, I definitely had the name/product last year, when I googled it and came up with nothing in my search.
So one of two things happened. Either they found the name on my product, searched for a patent and realized that I am not so anal as to have applied for one or they already had the name in mind, trademarked it and then proceeded to attack me when if they had done any research, they would see that online I have sold all of a few pairs.
While I have spent so much energy in the past 4 years sewing things that are pretty, have function for me and that many other people have come to enjoy, it's such a small-scale operation in the big retail world that if they feel the need to bully a small fish like me...HAVE AT IT!
Anyhow. Maybe this is a good time to announce that my Etsy days are coming to a slow conclusion. I do still have quite a bit in my shop and my slow decline in production started after the Holidays this past year. I may continue to make guitar straps, maybe not. Either way – this little minnow is ready to find a new and exciting pond.
So another post today. Mom and I made this cake yesterday. Of course if will go under-appreciated by the 5 kids coming to his birthday party today, but I figured it wouldn't be lost on all of you.
This baby is 100% from scratch*. Feast your eyes on Axel's "Charlotte's Web" cake.
* Fact check: I did not make the plate or the knitting needles. I did not mill the paper myself – or sheer the sheep for the yarn.
Someone should probably put this on Pinterest.
I cannot believe my first baby is turning 5 today.
While motherhood feels like you're always hanging on by a thread and flying by the seat of your pants, over the past 5 years I have learned plenty from Axel, had plenty of "stop and smell the flowers moments" and I'd like to share my "fave 5" lessons from Axel with you today.
1 - Know a white lie when you see one. Never take someones word for something if you think they might be "dumbing it down for you." Require the full scientific explanation for EVERYTHING.
2 - Sometimes you just need to tell yourself out-loud, "It's a great day." Axel says this literally on a daily basis. Not sure if it's based on the thing that occurred just prior to his statement or if it's some kind of positive affirmation, Either way, it's a great thing to do.
3 - Don't be afraid to admit you're too tired to do something or to just say "no." Axel is very good at rationing his energy, stopping for drinks and stopping to smell the flowers. Maybe we all should just slow down.
4 - Bake something yummy. Every day. Enough said.
5 - Stick up for the little people in your life. "Mom, Oliver is NOT naughty. You should NEVER say that." He's a fantastic brother. Love that about him.
Last weekend Grandpa had his snow blower out again. We had one more friend from Radiator Springs that needed to be built (well...one more until we tell him about Mater...maybe next year).
Holley Shiftwell turned out so well and we had a fun photo-op with her yesterday. What I love about building a snow car in the city is that EVERYONE can enjoy it. I can't tell you how many cars stopped out front to photo just their upside-down snowman (not pictured). It's awesome that they pull right in the driveway and snap away! Glad Holley will have a steady stream of fans!
"Jahred, because your swimmers only carry Y chromosomes, I have been driven to be a Mary Kay lady," I let my husband know last Monday after signing my life away (no...just my pride...for saying I would never do so) to join the elite squad in pink.
"Are you kidding?" he responded to me, "If you had a house full of girls you would use that rational and would have ended up in the same place. 'You're doing it for the girls.'"
"So are you saying that Mary Kay was my destiny?" I urged him to confirm.
"Yes. It is in the stars. I always knew it could come to this."
If you remember a few posts ago I mentioned that I was contemplating joining Mary Kay to get myself a discount on the products I have sworn by for years. I decided to do so, on my own terms of course, and ordered my "starter kit" earlier this week.
So I've been telling myself all week that it will be so great to get a discount on products and I will NEVER admit to anyone that I'm a "Mary Kay Beauty Consultant." Aaaand then a BIG box arrived on my front steps.
As soon as I saw this bag, PACKED with goodies, I stopped lying to myself and decided to tell EVERYONE that I've got a pile of makeup and cannot wait to do makeovers.
Of course I'll be kicking off my "Not Your Mama's Mary Kay Lady Tour" with my very own discount program called, "Friend are Family discount." And if someone doesn't book a makeover party soon I'm going to scream!
Book your date with me now get me out of this house of boys! I'm like a kid in a candy store with all this fun and amazing product!
Wow. Can't believe what I got myself into.
Sure. I've wanted a cookie scoop my whole life and guess who gets one for his birthday this year? Axel. Now he thinks it's his. Darn kids, they get to have all the fun. LOVE how he instantly picked up the technique and am looking forward to more evenly baked cookies.
So Valentine's is one of those funny holidays, created/exaggerated by Hallmark which focuses so much on materialistic love between romantically involved couples. I like to think that although they've raised awareness to needing more love in the world, they've missed the mark entirely on the true meaning of this day.
My thoughts on Valentines day this year began when a "nasty gram" came home from Axel's Montessori school banning Valentines and so-much-as a loving thought from their curriculum. While it's no secret that I LOVE the methodology of Montessori teaching and I'm a huge fan of many of their ideas and outcomes, I've become a little jaded by the last 6 months of Axel's Principal expressing her personal views and sending home rudely worded notes on how we should be parenting/"recognizing" (not "celebrating") certain days of the year. Just the same as people interpreting poetry, the Bible and other texts for their own personal use, this particular principal stands on the firm structure of Montessori and interprets the years of research only how she sees fit. Valentines Day is not the first example she's given, but this day of love was perhaps the proverbial straw that broke this camels heart. My love turned sour long before that note hit the trash.
Axel was sent to school today, not wearing red, without so much as a Valentine to share. It made made me a little sad to think that these kids were pounded at Christmas time by the message of the "giving tree" – buying expensive, new (by requirement) gifts for people they would never see receive them – and yet they can't even cut out 20 paper hearts, write their names on them and have the joy of placing one in each of their friends Valentine Box.
So on the short drive home I got to thinking about how we would celebrate this day, showing the true meaning to Axel and Oliver, leaving out all the excess "Hallmark," and forgetting all the negative people who feel the need to control even the simplest form of love/friendship. When I got home, I realized that perhaps our message has already been given and my job here is done. I began to see the Valentines we've collected over the last few days, each one being a part of the exact meaning of Valentines Day.
Two days ago, Axel and Oliver got a card from an uncle in Colorado. Happy wishes and a card with stuffed animals on it (Axel's favorite). I remembered that last weekend we received a "moustache" bag full of goodies which made us laugh because as everyone knows – Axel calls my dad "Grandpa Moustache." Yesterday we found a Valentine from Miami in our mailbox from the cutest boy Nolan (the baby of my childhood best friend).
Just a few minutes ago I was going to put away my volunteer bag (the bag I take to visit hospice patients) and remembered that my patient, whom I've been seeing for the past 4 weeks, had given me a heart-box filled with chocolates. Finally, as I was sitting down to blog about all of this I remembered that the other night Jahred bought a card for me at the grocery store and left it on top of the piano. Let me back this up with a little information – we are not known for exchanging gifts/cards/flowers...in fact we almost NEVER do...for any holiday. But anyhow, he had picked up this card for me, left it in such an obvious place that I found it, and then as we began to laugh he pulled out the receipt and said, "And I know you so well that I'm gonna let you read this and you can even return it." He knows me too well. I am a purger. I don't like to accumulate. I would have hung onto this card for a set period of time and it would have been recycled. Once you read the words on a card, I like to believe they are internalized and a reminder isn't needed.
The meaning of Valentines day isn't in the hoopla or the grand romantic gestures. It's in the words, the thoughts, the reaching out to people you hardly know and people you've loved or maybe under-appreciated your whole life. It's about kindness, not control. You don't need a partner, a child or a best friend to have a Valentines Day. You need an open heart and a willingness to receive good thoughts from any which direction.
This morning I tried to wake up early to make heart-shaped scones for the boys in my life. My plan was a bit foiled by Oliver who insisted on waking up and staying up at 6am but I pushed onward, with one arm only, and cranked out the most delicious Valentines I could think of. If I could have added words to them, in "Conversation Heart" fashion, I would have added "Love" "Sweet Boy" "Proud of You" and even a "Thank You" for the biggest boy in my house.
Happy Valentines day everyone. Know that we may not connect by phone of facetime, but you all are Valentines to me and I send my love.
And to think, we haven't even gotten today's mail! Perhaps there's more to come...
"Double-you Tee Eff" mother nature. Was this really necessary? Do you know we don't have a garage large enough for a snow-blower? Do you have any idea what it's like to shovel inches of this heavy crud with a baby in a backpack kicking you from behind? Guessing "No."
Aside from the mess outside we've been on the mend inside. A weekend of isolation, a few germs and plenty of movies has us thankful once again to be in our respective places today. Axel - school. Jahred - sleeping off an all-nighter (the working kind). Oliver - sleeping off an all-nighter (the whining kind). Me - catching up on my shows online while mopping up the damage done by a weekend indoors.
It wasn't a total loss however, we did manage a few new installations...ok, these didn't happen just this weekend, but I've yet to post how cool they are. Check out our new build/gadget in the pics below!
Plug it in, plug it in! LOVE this new gadget – found at the Home Depot. Plug in your regular stuff, plug in your USB chargers as well. No need for the bulky converters anymore. This baby is in the kitchen and charging something 24/7. $20 well spent.
Thank you Jahred for this lovely headboard, built from a birch trunk and cherry branches. The birch was cut from a forest that is scheduled to be clear-cut in the next year. No need for them to bulldoze this beauty when we can enjoy it indoors for years to come!
The cherry branches were cut from our front yard. "Thank you so much to whoever lived here first and planted no-less-than 36 trees on our postage-stamp city lot. Really? Were you planning on grass...or did you just LOVE raking?" The cherry tree is scheduled for demo this spring, but a few branches got the axe early and are now indoors as well.
The banner is made from scraps and the letters were printed directly onto the fabric by my home printer. I simply ironed freezer paper to the back of the blue/white striped jersey fabric and printed as usual. Slick!!
The other banner (not pictured...but hangs over Oliver's crib to the left of the pallet bed) of course says "Daydream."
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