Category Archives: Projects

>My Pumpkins

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I had some compliments on our carved pumpkins, but I can barely take any credit. Dave did most of the the cutting, cleaning and scooping. And cleanup. Luke did the actual design and carving on his and I did the carving on mine. But all the credit goes to Dave.

Luke’s is on the left on top of the cooler and mine is on the right. Dave did both of the lower pumpkins. The grim reaper was from a stencil and he did his own alien design.

They look even better in the dark!

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>Catching Up

>Back again – this time from another medical near disaster: a corneal ulcer. The good news is that I will not be going blind in one eye at this time. The potentially bad news (for my looks) is that even though I have been told I can wear contacts again, I am considering a break. So I may be requesting help picking out my next pair of glasses. On the one hand, I fear that asking the glasses person at the doctor’s office to take pictures of me in each and every style may be annoying. On the other hand, I have been in that office 5 days out of the last 7, and I’ll be going back several more times in the next few weeks. I’ve already tried on every pair of glasses in the store, so I think they won’t be surprised.

One of the doctors suggested that I figure out how to do a better job taking care of myself and managing stress. So I ordered a book about simplifying my life. And then I added some cake decorating tools to the order while I was at it. I may have a problem. Speaking of embarrassing problems, since I was shopping anyway, I added the last Twilight book to the order. My wonderful sister sent me the first one when I was convalescing a month ago. I bought the second one on my way to a doctors appointment for a complication, and I saw the third one (out of one eye) when I was picking up eye drops. 40% off! The pharmacy tech guy asked if I wanted a bag, and I said yes, to hide my book. Hopefully since I have already bought the book, I won’t need some sort of new and terrible medical emergency to give me an excuse to find out what happens with the sparkly vampires.

I still have all my Yellowstone posts to do, and now you can all look forward reading about my adventures with the Twilight series, simplifying my life, and then decorating some fancy cakes.

In the meantime – here is Luke doing a little rock climbing at the best raft/climb/guide/kayak store in Cody, WY.

>April Fools

>A few weeks ago, when Dave caught Luke and I whispering about April Fools Day, he put in a polite request that I not make meatloaf and mashed potato cupcakes again. I was happy to oblige.

I had read about a trick that I wanted to play on Luke, and then he flipped through my magazine and saw the trick and he wanted to play it on Dave. I figured Luke would forget, and he did, so I tricked him and then he and I tricked Dave. The trick: Put a drop of food coloring in the bottom of a cereal bowl. Add cereal. Then when you add the milk, it turns a crazy color. I went with blue for Luke and red for Dave:

From April Fools

Then, after school, we made a spaghetti dinner and a spaghetti and meatball dessert:

From April Fools
From April Fools

Luke insisted on having both types of spaghetti on his plate at the same time and he wanted to eat the spaghetti cupcakes first, but we managed to talk some sense into him.

From April Fools

After dinner I had to run out to the school for the school improvement team meeting. Before I left I whispered into Dave’s ear, “I short-sheeted Luke’s bed. So make sure he doesn’t just get under the comforter.” I wish I had a picture of the look that Dave gave me. I was something along the lines of, “What the heck is wrong with you?” But about 2 seconds later, Luke said, “Mom! Remember that you were going to play more tricks on me. When are you going to do that? You have more tricks planned, right?” That continued right up to until he couldn’t straighten out his legs once he got into bed. Ha! Got him.

In other news, here is Luke’s leaning tower of snowman right before we got another 4 inches of snow:

From April Fools

>Hello Labor Intensive Cupcake!

>I bought Hello Cupcake this year with a Christmas gift certificate, and I am on my third creation. The first was simple, and the second wasn’t worth photographing. The third, and the reason I bought the book, turned out quite well:

And it was easy. All I had to do was bake the muffins, and then have my father in law cut mini donuts in half, my sister in law cut starburst and chocolate cookies, my mother in law cup up marshmallows while I iced everything together. Then after the last layer of icing, my sister in law and mother in law helped me assemble all the pieces. Then we spent about 20 minutes figuring how to transport them to school. Huge success! They were devoured in under 5 minutes.

Thanks for your help, family!

>Gingerbread House

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From December

Last weekend was the Annual Gingerbread House Making Party at my over-achieving friend’s house. The house plans were designed by an architect friend and I really want him to publish a book of gingerbread house plans before next Christmas so that I can purchase it.

I have arrows pointed to all the outdoor equipment that Luke built for his house. Starting on the left and going clockwise, we have an orange gumdrop snowboarder, a police car (already partially consumed by Dave), an orange gumdrop scooter, and finally a sled.

I made Dave redecorate 3 times because I hadn’t taken a picture yet and he kept eating all the gumdrops. But now that the picture has been taken, the house can be eaten! In the past I have made everyone wait until after Christmas, until it’s good and stale. Then I say, “I’ll leave this out for one day and we can eat as much as we want and then I’ll get rid of the rest.” Then we forget and go somewhere and leave the gingerbread house on the counter and Bean eats the whole thing. So this year, we aren’t waiting. In fact, the awning has already been consumed. Yum!

One more view of the scooter/snow jet ski and a shot of the peppermint ATV:

From December

>On Being Careful What You Wish For

>I have sent a lot of cookies to a lot of people over the last several years, and the recipients always say, “thanks” and “they were delicious” but I always wonder if they mean it. I mean, what else are you going to say to someone who baked you an assorted variety of Christmas cookies, then lovingly packaged and shipped them? “Um, they aren’t as good as store bought” or “They were a little stale” or “Well, they were broken into a million crumbs, but I ate them over ice cream”?

I thought I solved the problem of wondering how they taste by trying to slowly eat all the cookies that I didn’t send over the course of 5 days and noting any change in freshness or deliciousness. But that process does not take into account the shaking of the box, temperature fluctuations, or as Laura pointed out yesterday, the amount of exhaust the cookies would absorb.

So this year, after I sent Dave off to the shipping store, I was thinking about the whole thing all over again. Do people like to get cookies in the mail? I think I have received cookies in the mail twice and Bean is the only one who knows how the first set turned out. The second set were professionally made and were part of a miscarriage related care package, so they were delicious, but tinged with grief.

And so, and so, and so. So I thought, “Maybe I should ship some cookies to myself and see how they taste when they get here.” This thought was dismissed after about 5 seconds of contemplation because, “only a crazy person would ship cookies to themselves to see how they taste. Right?” and “that seems like a lot of work.”

Then I checked voice mail the other day, for the first time in several weeks apparently, and I found out that the cookies I had shipped to my cousins girlfriend, who I have in the handmade-gift exchange, did not receive her cookies because they had been returned to sender. So two days later, I finally made it to the package store to pick them up and when the guy handed me the box I said, perhaps a little too excitedly, “well, now we have a box of cookies to eat! And we can see if they still taste good!” I was talking to Luke, but the guy at the counter said, “Wow. Way to find a silver lining.”

So the cookies were pretty much as good as they were when I sent them, so I still don’t really know if the cookies are as good as they are in my mind, but they weathered their travels to Cleveland and back pretty well. Some were a little stale, but my instructions say specifically to dunk them in milk or coffee if they are stale, so that solves that problem.

And all I had to do was think, maybe I should ship some cookies to myself, and poof! It happened! Well, I had to make the wish and transpose a 9 and a 2, but you get the idea. This is not the first sort of lame wish I have made that has come true.

New Years Resolution Number 1: Start wishing for cooler things!

>Where in the World is MetaMegan?

>This weekend, when I could have been working on Christmas cards

From December

I was baking.

From December

I made Challah bread from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. (Aside: since I had a loaf of challah bread on hand, I decided I needed to make the number 57 sandwich from the now defunct Zachary’s Deli in Athens, OH. It is a grilled cheese, with spinach, tomato, and garlic aioli on challah. But what kind of cheese? I can’t really remember. If any MetaMegan readers know the answer, please leave it in the comments. Thanks!) *** Update – it’s the #41 Drey’s Fusion, and it’s provolone. Thanks Eliot!

I have a bunch of stuff to blog about just as soon as I send out those cards! And to tide you over, here is one of the many outakes from the many Christmas card photo shoots:

From December

OK, one more:

From December

>Play Date with Pinchy

>Jack had a play date today with his friend Katie, who as you can see in the picture, was all over him. Jack likes to roll to his tummy, play for a while and then scream bloody murder. This is the reason that I have not been keeping up with the section called “Hours of Sleep for Mommy.” It’s just too depressing to keep track of the fact that I get up every three hours to flip my baby over onto his back. Katie, on the other hand, only rolls from front to back and never gets any tummy time at all. She is supposed to sleep on her tummy, so her mommy gets up periodically in the night to roll her from back to front. So, I had the brilliant idea to make coordinating velcro outfits for them. I figured if I attached them back to back, they would be an unstoppable rolling machine. We put Jack down on his back so he could show off his skilz and Katie was on her tummy. They just stayed there happily not rolling at all. There was a lot of “seriously, this never happens!” from both mommies. And now I have to find a receipt for a bunch of velcro.

Also, we biked all over town this afternoon, and I have a picture of the Dave-Luke-Jack train – the best I could do while we were all in motion. (This picture was taken last week – I should have taken one today since part of our trip was to Target and we returned with a box of diapers bungee-corded to the back of the trailer.)

>Periscope Up

>The subject of periscopes came up recently, as did the subject of experiments. As in, “Can we do an experiment? Why haven’t we done any experiments lately? When are we going to do that one experiment?” So I had been casually saving the necessary parts of a periscope for a rainy day, a day when there would be another sudden interest in experiments. That day was today.

I got out my mirrors and my long, skinny cardboard box that I had been saving for such an occasion and we got to work. We held the mirrors in different positions and talked about reflection and angles. (OK, I actually made no attempt to explain how the process worked, but I would be an awesome mom if I had!) Maybe my mistake was to attempt to make the periscope in such close proximity to the basketball hoop. Maybe I am just slow. If I had made the periscope in 30 seconds then I would have had Luke’s attention for the entire time. “Oh well,” I thought, “At least this gives me something to do while I watch Luke play basketball.” And, really, I had fun making a periscope all by myself. When it was finished he looked through it and said, “Cool.” I said, “Hey, let’s sneak upstairs and spy on Daddy and Jack.” Luke said, “Yeah!” So we started crawling up the stairs, quietly. So quietly. And I slithered across the floor and got the periscope in position behind the couch and whispered, “Oh, I see them, come look.” And I turned to look over my shoulder. And I realized I was alone. Alone, at the top of the stairs, on my stomach, whispering about a periscope. Alone except for Dave and Jack who were looking at me through the other end.

Luke may not be impressed now, but just wait until we incorporate the periscope into the giant cardboard box I want to turn into a pirate ship!

>Thank You Notes

>Emily Post says you have a year to write your wedding thank you notes. Does anyone know the policy for your fifth birthday? We did a big push to get the thank yous out for the kids who attended the party, but the family thank you notes have been a long time coming. I had been writing it in my planner every week, and then I don’t know what happened, but tonight we were back in business.

Our strategy is this:
1.) I write everyone’s name on a list
2.) Luke writes the person’s name at the top and his name at the bottom and then tells me something to write in the middle.
It seems simple, but there are so many ways it can go wrong. First of all, I have terrible handwriting. My r looks like a v. Luke read back the letters in Scott to me as “S – O – O – H”. So there is that. And Luke is also a perfectionist, so that leads to other problems. Many tears were shed on Valentine’s Day over an “A” that looked like “It’s pants were falling down.”
So today, Luke was writing while I was making chicken, pineapple, red pepper skewers for dinner. I needed to spell out every name, and the list was only useful in creating a sense of satisfaction when a name could be crossed off. Chicken, pineapple, red pepper skewers are sort of labor intensive for a week night so I didn’t always know where I was in the spelling of a name. This led to an Anthony with two Os. Tragedy. Luke was also trying to write in block letters and had trouble with an N. I had a huge internal debate about showing him how to do it. Because all prior Ns had been written backwards. Do I show him the correct way and risk having to redo all the thank you notes? Do I dare contemplate making a backwards block letter N? Rest assured I did the right thing. And I was rewarded with a resigned sigh, “If you are right, then all the other Ns I have made are backwards.” Sigh.
Such a relief! Thank you notes are finished!
* Please allow another 1-2 weeks for me to find stamps, envelopes, addresses, etc.