Monday, 30 January 2012

My Crazy Cool Brother

This is my brother Clint.


He's a bit younger then me, the absolute middle child in a family with 5 children.


Yup, that's him in the middle. He makes me laugh - a lot!

I love him.

He is my best friend. We used to do everything together - used to because he moved away from me.

Far, far away.

Three things about my brother:

1. He's smarter then me.

When we were in High School, he took Biology 30 at the same time as me. It was embarresing. Not because my little brother was in the same class as me, but because he got better grades then me. And he copied my homework. And I let him.

See, he's smarter then me.

2. He's braver then me too.

A few years ago he decided that he wanted to go to Australia. So he bought a ticket and jumped on a plane. By himself. And there was no one to meet him on the other end at the Airport. He was traveling solo.

I could never get on a plane by myself, especially if no one was meeting me on the other end. I could never travel solo. I think I would have a heart attack. I'm not very brave.

See, he's braver then me.

3. He's cooler then me too.

He does cool things like moves to Australia for love. He married this ridiculously beautiful woman named Lea.


I'm so happy to have her as a Sister-In-Law. Best decision he ever made.

I made my Australian husband move to Canada because I'm afraid of snakes.

See, he's cooler (and braver) then me.

I didn't get to go to the wedding because I looked like this:


It broke my heart. I missed out on one of the happiest days of his life.

He likes cattle. Always has.


He can tell you more about Beef Cattle, Beef Production and Genetics then you will ever need to know.

He works in Russia and is setting up a Beef Production operation. He can't speak Russian.

See, he's braver then me.

I miss him.

I bet his wife misses him too, she's living in Australia.

He came home for a week over Christmas. Before that I hadn't seen him for over 2 years.

I cried when he hugged me.

It was great to celebrate the holidays with Clint & Lea. We had some great long chats. They weren't long enough.

Thank goodness for Skype and Facebook.

Clint told me to write a post about my Crazy Cool Brother. Here it is.

The End.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Gemma's Pony

I am celebrating (for now anyways). Gemma's hair is finally getting long enough that you can do something with it. She has nice hair, but it's super fine and although it is curly, very rarely does it curl - usually only after a bath or with a little styling product help.

Occasionally it looks like this:

Sometimes like this:

Rarely like this:



Mostly like this:

I'd cry too...





So we've started a routine so her hair doesn't look quite so mop-ish. We've started putting in a 'pony' everyday. It rarely lasts all day as Gemma has a habit of pulling at her hair when she's sleeping, but it helps to pull her bangs out of her eyes as we grow out her hair.


 Although it's a little Pebbles-esq, it works well and it is getting easier by the day - for both her and me. At first, Gemma didn't want me to put anything in her hair and I tried to reason with her (at 18 months that is a huge challenge). Finally I just asked her if she wanted to have a pony like Mommy, and got a yes! So in it went and when I was finished I let her look in the mirror, making a big deal out of it and telling her how beautiful she looks. So now every morning, after doing her hair she stands on the vanity and we admire her pony.

Maybe one of these days we'll make it into pigtails and braids....but we're just taking baby steps.



Monday, 16 January 2012

Birthday Cakes

If you're feeling inspired to decorate a cake, this is how I do it...

1. Choose what style of cake you're going to create. I choose a Bear for Gemma's Birthday.


2. Assemble all the baking products. I used a Vanilla Cake Recipie, but you can make any flavor cake you prefer. I find that the cakes turn out better if the cake itself is a little drier (vs. very moist). If you are using a recipie from scratch, you need to double the recipie. You can also use 2 boxes of cake mix.


Vanilla Cake
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degree C.
Beat sugar & eggs approx. 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Transfer to cake pan and bake for approx. 60 minutes (until knife or toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean).

 
3. Grease the cake pan so the cake will not stick once you try to take it out. I use the Wilton Cake Release and find it is easy and works fantastic. Pour the batter into the pan, be sure not to touch the bottom or the sides of the pan with the spoon/spatula or the cake will have a tendency to stick in these places.


4. Bake the cake according to directions. Once baked, let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Make the bottom of the cake even by cutting off any excess that has risen over the edge of the cake pan. Remove the cake from the pan by turning onto a cooling rack. Let completely cool before transfering the cake to a cake board or cake keeper.


5. Once the cake has completely cooled you are ready to start icing it. Assemble all the ingredients for the icing. I use the Wilton icing recipie. It will tell you on the decorating instructions how much icing you will need. Seperate the icing into bowls using the decorating instructions on how much and what color of icing you will need.


Wilton Buttercream Icing
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
4 cups (1 pound) sifted confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon Wilton Clear Vanilla Extract

Cream butter & shortening with mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium spped until light and fluffy. Yields about 3 cups. 

6. I always start decorating a cake by putting a thin layer of icing all over the cake. This is something that my Grandma always did and I find that it not only helps fill in some of the holes that may be in the cake, but it also defines the cake shape a little better and makes it easier to see the impression for the outline of the cake.



7. Now just follow the decorating instruction for the cake. If you have a Wilton cake pan but the instructions have gone missing, you can always find the instructions here. Search for the cake pan you are using and download the pdf instructions. The neat thing about the site is that it will also give you additional ideas on how to use the pan to create your own masterpiece.


8. I started by icing the sides of the cake. I use an icing spatula as I find it easier to get it smooth then if using a knife. To make the sides nice and smooth I dip the icing spatula in a glass of very hot water and smooth it out.
Next I outlined the cake with purple icing and filled in the eyes and nose. In the instructions it says to smooth out the eyes and nose by putting corn starch on your finger and smoothing it, but I find that it works much better to wet your finger in a glass of water and smooth it that way.


9. The next step is to start filling in the bears head and paws with the white icing.

10. Next I filled in the purple body of the bear.


11. Then I added the ruffles to the body for the dress and a sash with bow.


And Viola!


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

2011 in Pictures

Another year has come and gone. Despite an effort to blog on a regular basis, my life got away from me and I didn't. I will attempt to do better.
In a quick recap of 2011, here is my favorite photos from each month and a quick description:


January

Blade decided that he would like to be just like Daddy. From this point on he is a Cowboy - jeans, cowboy boots, cowboy hat, belt & buckle included (and non-negotiable!) He can ride a horse and crack a whip with the best of them.

February
Blade & Gemma. It hurts my heart to look at this photo, they grow up so fast *sniff*. And to try to get them to sit together and smile is next to impossible, they just fight now.

March
Gemma was learning to crawl. Look out! Baby #2 is on the move!
We also got a happy surprise in March, we were expecting Baby #3 to arrive in November! Check out Is 5 the New 4?

April


April is my favorite month because it has my 2 favorite holidays in it...my birthday (this year I was 30) and Easter (most years). Blade and Auntie Echo decorated Easter eggs, which was exciting for me because Blade is finally getting old enough that he is starting to "get it" and it is fun preparing for holidays with him.


Easter morning. Gemma checking out what the Easter Bunny brought her.




Blade and his underwear on an Easter Egg Hunt.


May



June

July






Gemma turned 1!


August



Calaway Park is always a favorite and with our season passes it definately makes it worth while to go again and again. I am looking forward to the kids being a little taller so we can go on all the rides together. This was Blade's first time on one of the "big kid" rides, with Auntie Echo and cousin Colton.


September

Blade turned 3 and started preschool in September. My little man is growing up!

October


Gemma was a flower for Halloween this year.


And Blade was a dragon.

November

We awaited the arrival of Baby #3.
Anwyn Daisy Bell finally made her appearance Noember 22, 2011 at 6:50pm weighing 7lbs 4oz.
and Blade & Gemma were excited to meet her.

December
Someone is always crying - lol! Maybe next year when Anwyn is too young to realize what is going on and the other 2 are excited about Santa we will get some smiles.

Anwyn's first Santa photo. This one almost didn't happen, I found I was so disorganized this Christmas with Anwyn being born so close to Christmas and didn't want to fight the crowds to get Santa photos. However, I figured that I would never forgive myself if I missed this photo, and I had help from my good friend to wrangle children.

So cheers to 2011 and we are now looking forward to new adventures in 2012. Hopefully I can keep up!