Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tomorrow is Another Day, No Tomorrow is THE Day...

Lately I've been hmm, how shall I put this? Not quite myself. Well, maybe that's not the right way to say it. I've definitely been myself, holding down the fort, dealing with some surprises at SJ's new school, preparing for her big birthday, and making due trying to keep everything together while my hubby is intensely busy at work. While I could blather on and on about how it's so hard to be running the household solo for the last month or so, other things are just bothering me more.

Like what a shitty job I've been doing running my household.

Laundry is overflowing from the hamper, a polka dot sock is on the bathroom floor and it's mate is in the corner of the kitchen under the cabinet kickplate. There's a birthday cake sitting on the kitchen table with four slices taken from it, uncovered. It should be put away, but its not. I'm sure the sink and counter contains at least a dishwasher load of dishes. The dog hair has gathered in little clumps on the stairs. The kind of clumps that put me over the edge every single time I walk up the stairs.

And me, I'm not cleaning, I'm typing. Doo-dee-doo, in front of my computer.

I would love to pretend like the CHAOS that is my home doesn't exist, but that's not really possible at this point. I wonder how did this happen. When I see a shoe on the bathroom floor and it's mate under the dining room table, I wonder really? What in the world. I'm a mess.

I'm beyond excuses.

It's time to take back the house, take back myself. This shall come as no surprise that I have in the past month also put on a few pounds, I don't own a scale so I'll guesstimate 5 pounds. Odd. Cluttered house, cluttered body. Direct correlation in my book. I've been coping with baked goods lately, I even bought chips and dip. Baked chips for the record, doesn't that make consuming a pint of dip better if it's on baked chips? I've been really snacking, even late night which I rarely do. Today I had a chai, arnold palmer, and a beer. Three beverages that weren't water, when I'm more like the self I love to be, I drink water all day long and treat myself to a green tea with no sugar. I try not to snack and if I do it's a piece of fruit. I've suppressed my tendencies to live a cleaner lifestyle. That cleaner lifestyle that I love. Now, my habits are all rolled up into a nasty whirlwind that I need to snap out of, like yesterday.

The other day I thought it's almost the end of the month. Live it up. Enjoy the birthday celebrations that were unfolding throughout the week, soon enough my husband will be more present (well until the snow arrives). And I will be more present.

I've decided that October First will be my day to start anew. I'm putting a decorative cloth over the television and unplugging it. I'm waking up and putting on my shoes and lacing them up tight, I'm drinking an eight ounce glass of water with my bowl of oatmeal. I'm taking babysteps, but the best part is I'm going to forgive myself for slipping into an unsightly mess physically and behind closed doors this past month. I'm moving forward, embracing the work that is ahead of me.

Tomorrow is another day and I am happy to say, tomorrow is going to be the first day I start living like the person I know I can be. Oh don't worry, I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Birthday Cupcakes, Abound!

This weekend we celebrated Sj's 6th Birthday! Even though I've been struggling to get through some days lately, I embraced the opportunity to bake for the party. A party with a dozen kids and what do I decide to bake, oh 4 dozen cupcakes. There are always siblings that drop by a party and parents, not to mention passing along a cupcake to a favorite neighbor.  And then there's the baker's dozen in my house, which is not 13, but rather 11. Because this baker needs to always taste test one first.

I probably spent way too long Friday night mulling over recipes in cookbooks and online. I wasn't quite sure what flavor I wanted to make, then I had to decide on which recipe to go with. Billy's Bakery vanilla cupcakes that use the one bowl method or Magnolia's vanilla cupcakes that are just as wonderful in my opinion. Looks like New York City bakeries went neck and neck in the first round. I decided on Magnolia's vanilla cakes with chocolate buttercream frosting. Of course we had to go a bit untraditional for the second batch of cupcakes I made. Sj decided on Sprinkles' Strawberry Cupcakes and frosting! I felt content my favorite cupcake bakeries would be represented at the party, even if I couldn't walk into one of their shoppes, I would simply recreate their treats in my own kitchen.

To top off the baked treats, Sj also chose a design for her cupcakes to be decorated in. We found a great link to make "Mouse Cupcakes" on Martha's website. Of course, we decided to make them colorful with strawberry licorice, bold colored chocolate covered sunflower seeds, and Necco wafers. I was on a little wild goose chase hunting down all the necessary candy supplies, but really it's all a part of the fun.

Even though baking is a very sensitive process, especially at 5,400 feet here in Colorado, I love the rush of baking. I know the sound of my KitchenAid stand mixers motor at varying speeds, I don't have to look. I most prefer the hum of a number 4, not too fast but not too slow. I sometimes raise a weary eyebrow wondering if the batter turned out too loose or too thick, but seem to smile when I can anticipate it's just right spooning it into their little paper wrappers. I wait not so patiently until the timer beeps, wondering if the cupcakes will be a success or if I will peek through the oven window to find little caves have taken over the baked delights.
Saturday night, I baked to my heart's content. 48 cakes total in two batches, one strawberry and one vanilla. Luckily most cupcake recipes make a double batch so it's easy to get them done and baked in one safe swoop! Sunday morning I left for decorating and frosting. The cupcakes turned out wonderfully. I feel so content baking, through out the entire process. My usual everyday life stress, just melts away when I am surrounded by bags of flour, baking sugar, pounds of butter, fresh organic strawberries, measuring cups/spoons, and bowls with remnants of cake batter.

Although this weekend I realized pursuing cupcake baking on a retail level isn't something I see in my cards, even though I love to dream about it, I will always love baking. I love feeding others baked treats. Maybe I'll just insist to bring a cake to every party we are invited to. I don't think I can get enough of it.

Who's birthday is next...

Want recipes? Try Martha's Favorite Cupcake Bakeries recipe section! Thanks Martha!

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's Birthday Party Time...

Every September, I find myself doing the same thing as Sj's birthday looms. Big party, little party, family party? I'm over at Rocky Mountain Moms today talking about my daughter's party this year!

Read the post here!

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Bakery, My Words, Dancing In My Mind...

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night. I toss and turn, kick the covers off or cover up to my shoulders, move onto my stomach, back, flip and repeat. Then my brain seems to take over any potential chance of settling back down to where my body is.

Resting body, racing mind.

It's funny what enters my mind during those restless moments. You know the ones, when you feel so awake but in all reality you are really like 75% asleep. In the middle of the night is when I dream about my future. My aspirations, my inner most desires to be successful in the business world. To kick bakery ass.

I lay in bed thinking of what I would name my bakery or the flavors of cupcakes I would stock. How many of each flavor I would bake daily, what my hours would be, what days I would be open. What flavors would be in my rotation, I would have to offer a gluten free cake. Dreaming of concoctions that don't exist, that i've never made. Quirky names or serious names for my cakes? Where I would actually bake, my hair pulled back in a ponytail and my pink New York Yankees cap on, I'm so not the hair net type. Where I would buy ingredients, what websites to order super funky packaging from, and savvy friends I would ask to create my logo. I see the building, the sign, I see me smiling behind the counter of lovingly made treats with a sugar charged smile, but underslept eyes. I see customers stretching out the door and laughter from their eyes in anticipation of the first bite. So many lucid details.

Or then my thoughts move on. Drift into another moment. Quite truthfully, I think about blogging in those wee hours on the edge of reality. Is it really 3:33 am? Nah, can't be. And boy do those mental posts have StumbleUpon written all over them, StatCounter through the roof, and Blogger servers crashed. I could write a post over and over in my head, dancing with words and the opening sentence across the dance floor of my mind. And of course, simultaneously convince myself I WILL remember it in the morning. I don't need to dig out a pen, flashlight, and paper. Nah, I've got it. Locked and sealed. Reality is, I rarely remember.

Some folks sleepwalk or sleep eat, but not me. I'm a sleep writer, a sleep entrepreneur crushing Donald Trump one sleepless night at a time. Maybe if I could only put my restless will into my daytime consciousness, my life would be complete.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

13 Reasons Why I'll Honk At You...

I've been spending plenty of time behind the wheel the past couple of weeks, with our new school commute. Today I've been inspired by all those folks on the road that think driving is a luxury like watching television. I think the one detriment to the safety and ease of driving today is that so many people take for granted how quickly things can turn dangerous for others when they multitask behind the wheel. You're not on your couch people, you are operating HEAVY MACHINERY!!!

I haven't hesitated to use my horn while driving and this is what some of the people on the road next to me have been doing:

1. Eating with a spoon, like a full on meal, while driving 50 miles per hour in the left lane of a 65 MPH highway.

2. Reading a book while driving on the same highway, book on steering wheel, driver in left lane of course.

3. Driving on a highway and trying to reach for something on the floor of your car or in the backseat, please note, not at a red light, ON THE HIGHWAY.

4. Texting or tweeting or updating your FB status, I don't know which, while driving so you inadvertently swerve into me as I am the poor soul lucky enough to be driving next to you.

5. I will honk at you if the rear door of your minivan pops open while driving and you don't realize it for at least 1/2 a mile. Oh and a piece of luggage falls out. Hi, um Wake Up!

6. Clipboard out on steering wheel and taking notes, jotting life lessons?

7. If you allow TWO children under the age of 5 play in the front seat of a car while driving on a major 4 LANE road in my town, not buckled in. Oh and one may actually take your glasses off while you are trying to operate the car.

8. If I know you and you are driving by!

9. If I am happily driving the speed limit (oh let's say 45) and you blow through a red light with out stopping to take a right on red and then I have to slam on my brakes to avoid totalling the rear end of your Nissan Sentra.

10. Applying makeup, namely eye make up or plucking eye brows. Mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow. Beep, Beep, Beep!

11. Well I won't honk, but I will sure as heck shoot you daggers if you are smoking, windows rolled up, and you have small children trapped in the vehicle with you. Shame on you.

12. You have a dog on your lap while driving, casually sticking it's head out the window, or just nuzzling you. Oh so precious, NOT. I didn't honk, but come on people.

13. While driving you decide to eat a burger, sip a coke, while smoking a cigarette, and talking on your handheld cellphone. Oh don't think I won't.

Consider this my public service announcement. But in all seriousness, I wish people would take driving more seriously, your life could change in an instant.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Getting Back In The Saddle Again...

Miss me? Consider my absence gift for your never ending reader or one less email in your inbox. What's funny about my lack of writing is that I recently had my parents visiting for two weeks, which should have made my time to write more abundant. But rather, I barely sat down at my computer.

Truth be told, August and September is a rough time for me. My husband is in the thick of wrapping the movie, just like he has been for the last 10 years at this time of year. I always get the, "are you surprised" response from him when I complain about his long hours. I'm not surprised, but it just never gets easier. Long days at work, maybe a 17 hour day was the longest lately, turns into a trip to do all the post-production work out of town. A two week trip. Sigh.

To top off all the fun that August and September brings around here, my oldest started school. A new school that's not right around the corner. My hubby usually does the morning portion of the drive, but if you put the pieces together, him not in town equals me driving both legs of the school commute. I really don't mind it much, but the mornings have been the biggest transition for me.

Confession time.

Up until mid-August, I was a morning lounger. My husband always gets up with the girls whatever awful time that may be. And me, I sleep in. Typically J didn't have to leave for work until 8:30 so most mornings you would find me in bed, yes EVEN ON THE WEEKENDS. Most of the time, I had breakfast in bed. Lazy me. Oh the memories. The fleeting memories.

But now, I'm mom to a school age girl that needs a lunch packed daily. I am busy packing a bento lunch every morning, which means I am up and rearing to go at, eek 6am. It's a big transition from the casual morning in bed.

What's the saying feast or famine, that's my life. There's more coming, it feels good to be back in the saddle again.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Jumpstart: Online Virtual 3D World (with giveaway) & Pet Rescue Wii Game

For at least a couple of years now my five year old has been interested in playing around on the computer. We started off slowly, finding software for her to use that we purchased which was early childhood user friendly. I remember her excitement watching balls pop in a maze, from her simply pressing any key on the keyboard. Now that she's older, as a parent i've found it difficult to find places online that is fun and educational, while of course being safe.

I've been familiar with the JumpStart educational software company for years now. The sell many software titles, but I am most familiar with their grade leveled software which provides learning opportunities seamless intertwined in a game based interface. I was contacted via my blog to check out JumpStart's Online 3D Virtual World. At the time I had no idea JumpStart had a website for children, so I decided to allow Sj to explore the online world. At JumpStart online there are two types of playing, a membership based virtual world complete with 4 downloadable games to play while not online or a limited version to play for free. Please note the downloadable games are only for a PC, so we weren't able to utilize the games using our Mac.

Honestly, I am just amazed at how quickly my daughter picks up games online. I am not alone when I say that, our children at 5 years old are just technologically moving at leaps and bounds! Before I knew it she was creating her Jumpee (character in the game) to her liking. I think one of her favorite things to do is to switch up her hair color and clothing on her Jumpee. To me the best part about the JumpStart Virtual World is that it's a game she can explore on her own. It's a safe environment where she's learning skills without even thinking about it. I allow her a set time (I use a timer) online and since we began our membership with JumpStart, that's really all she has chosen to play. Here's a map to all the places to explore in the virtual world. So far, each day she's become more excited about what she's found in Adventureland, not bored. We all know how quickly our tech savvy kids get bored. The game builds upon her previous skills and is always progressing with her, which is fabulous to keep her attention! There are even parts she has yet to figure out, I can see the determination on her face when she tries to figure out the best way to reach a new part of the world. So many possibilities.

From what I gathered on the JumpStart website the monthly family membership fee for the 3D Virtual World with the downloadable games is $7.99, but there is also a reduced rate for an annual membership.

JumpStart has offered one of my readers a FREE 3 MONTH membership to the online virtual world. I am making this easy, just leave a comment on this post with a valid email/contact info. ONE winner will be chosen at random and please only one entry per person. Comments will close in one week on September 9 at 12pm MST. I will pass your contact information along to JumpStart if you are the chosen winner! Good Luck!

Jumpstart Pet Rescue for Wii
After spending time at the JumpStart website, I noticed there was a Wii Game that was about to be released called Pet Rescue. Even though my 5 year old daughter is very well versed with computer based games, I have to admit we have struggled trying to find games for her on the Wii that she can play independently. Rarely does she play the Wii all by herself, but when I say independently I mean allowing Sj to play the Wii with out any assistance from me when we play a game together. She loves trying out the sports games and Wii Fit, but let's be honest they weren't developed for children (especially Wii Fit). Frequently I find her frustration level on the rise when even playing some games that were intended for children.

We were given the opportunity to preview the JumpStart Pet Rescue Wii Game and when the box arrived I was thrilled to see the EC- Early Childhood label on the front of the box! The game is designed for 3-6 year olds. Hip Hip Hooray! A game my daughter can use as a tool to develop her Wii skills without feeling the frustration like she does with other games developed for older children. And an added bonus that surprised me when playing this game? My 2 year old could even play! Now I'm not saying she mastered the game, but it was really a first step in learning how to press buttons and utilize the remote control in a easy fun manner!

Take a peek at the Pet Rescue world being played by Sj with her virtual bunny named Fuzzy.
Two thumbs up from us JumpStart! Take a chance to stop by and blog for even more educational ideas. While on their blog homepage on the left hand side you can find links to their Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, and YouTube links as well.