Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Meet Dexter...

Today I picked up the newest addition to our family. A boxer puppy. I can't tell you how completely I adore this little guy. He is so sweet. Welcome home little one...

And I'm pretty sure nothing can be cuter than his pink nose with black speckles - and all of the wrinkles because his skin is too big for his body. Ohhh, and the puppy breath... Yep, I love love love him!

And as you can see, he's SOOOOOO sleepy (did I mention he snores? - there's seemingly no end to his cuteness!)...I'm sure he'll wake up and want to play just as I'm going to bed!

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's like CRACK on paper...

I'm obsessed. What a shock! I know, I know - this ALWAYS happens. Not since the Harry Potter series have I been so sucked into a book - but now, this Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer has me ignoring the fact that the world is still turning. I started book one a little over a week ago - and have been reading a few pages here and there. Friday night I started REALLY getting to the good part - by Saturday morning I was nearly finished. I came into the lab on Saturday and while I was waiting for various things, read some more. Saturday night I finished book 1 - and without missing a beat - started book 2. By about 10:30 on Sunday morning I had finished book 2. Now - most normal people don't sit and read a 600 page book barely moving, annoyed by the fact that every couple of hours I had to STOP to pee...but hey, we all realized I was NOT normal a long time ago...let's move on. After I had finished book 2, I took a quick shower and headed out to the store. On the way there I had this slight feeling of panic - what was I going to do if they didn't have books 3 and 4? That's when I realized that I had a serious problem. I KNEW they had them, I had seen them earlier in the week sitting there on the shelves - and figured I would pick them up in a couple weeks when I finished the others (at that point, I was only a couple hundred pages into book 1 - and SOOO NAIVE!!) - but still, the thought that they MIGHT NOT BE THERE actually worried me. I'm telling you, it's sick. Luckily I got there and both books were waiting for me (yes, specifically for ME).

I went home, put my snuggly sweats back on (had to wear real clothes to the store - you never know who might be there, looking for a cute, somewhat crazy, but very very fun new girlfriend) and situated myself back on my couch. After another couple of hours of looking outside feeling guilty that I was wasting a perfectly gorgeous day sitting inside with my nose stuck in a book, I did what any rational, perfectly sane, incredibly thoughtful person would do - I went to the park, found a perfectly acceptable tree in the middle of the woods and planted my nose right back into my story - hey, give me a break, at least I was OUTSIDE enjoying the weather...(oh, and I was sure to change back out of my only-to-be-worn-in-the-privacy-of-home ugly sweats first).

After another couple hours I went home and made some dinner, forced myself to read the journal club article I needed to present the following morning - and then tried to go to sleep...but I couldn't...not without....just....a.....few......more.........chapters................and then it was 1AM. Hours had passed in what seemed like minutes. I got up this morning when my alarm went off the FIRST TIME so that I could get into the lab early and get stuff done - because I NEEDED to leave early - why?? Well silly, because I only have a couple hundred pages left in book 3 and I need to end this madness - the only way I see that happening - is to put my life on hold and just get this overwith. And I'm more than happy to do exactly that...

HA! See, I'm being rational....right? right?? anyone??? Okay, fine - I can't even type it with a straight face, how can I expect anyone to believe such nonsense?!?! Now, if you'll exuse me - my vampire friends are waiting to tell me the rest of their CRACK on paper...hello, my name is Gretchen, and I am addicted to these books. Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Lilly

My sweet niece turned 4 a little over a week ago. Due to various conflicts in everyone's schedule, her birthday party had to be postponed until this weekend. Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I asked the little angel what kind of a birthday cake she wanted for her party. She came up with various things and then finally decided on a castle cake - with a DRAGON...because, as everyone knows, castles ALWAYS have dragons. (I have no idea where she got this, but there was no doubt in her mind, so we just went with it) After scouring every store I could find in search of a dragon (with wings, she's a detail-oriented child) I had to give up. I figured I would make her the castle cake and maybe, just maybe I would make her a dragon out of fondant (I'll save you the suspense, that didn't happen). So, woke up this morning and started baking the 4 cakes it would take to make the castle, let them cool, went to the store twice for ingredients (is there some reason I *always* forget something critical during the first trip?), and spent the afternoon building a castle out of cake. Here are some photos from the progress...

And here's the finished product. My kids suggested the windows on the towers, and I put sparkly sugar crystals on the top of each layer. By the time I got to the end - I was so damn tired of frosting, I got kinda lazy - and wasn't very careful. The truth is, the 4-year old isn't going to it's good enough. I hope she likes it - even without the dragon. Hey, life is full of disappointments, she might as well learn that lesson early. Happy Birthday sweetie!!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Finished Product!!!

Here's a quick (albeit blurry) picture of the finished cake!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake!!

The wedding cake. Angel wanted it to be huge. It didn't necessarily have to taste good, but it had to LOOK good. It was a challenge that suited my perfectionist disorder perfectly. So, in the past few months I have made a couple "practice cakes" and worked out some of the particulars of the whole procedure. The first issue was that she wanted it all covered in fondant. This isn't a problem except that once you cover a cake with fondant it can't be refrigerated. If you DO refrigerate it, when you take it out, condensation will mess of up fondant because the cake is cold and the air would be warm. SO, that meant that I had to use buttercream frosting, which is SUPER sweet. Then I thought that maybe I could use some sort of jam-type filling because that would make the cake more yummy - but it turned out to be too "squishy" and when the cakes were stacked, it mushed out of the middle and made a little bubble all the way around the middle of the cake. These are the types of things that you don't learn if you don't do a trial run...and luckily, there were lots of people willing to eat the test cakes.
I took two vacation days to make this cake. The wedding is on Saturday. Yesterday afternoon (Wednesday) I left work a little bit early and finished up the shopping so that I had all the supplies on hand before I got started. I had 21 cake mixes (a couple extra, guess I couldn't count!), 5 lbs. of butter, a huge tub of shortening, 20 lbs of powdered sugar, 6 dozen eggs and a giant bottle of vanilla, lots of oil. In addition I had wooden dowels, pillars, cake plates in 5 different sizes, a cake leveler (looks like a hacksaw), 7.5 lbs of fondant, and some gumpaste for the flowers. we go.

I started baking cakes on Wednesday night and got 6 of the 10 done, saving the largest 4 for the morning. Each layer needed to be baked separately because the pans wouldn't fit in the oven otherwise. While those were baking, I made about 300 light purple royal icing flower and let them dry overnight.

This morning I got up and baked the last 4 layers and let them cool. While those were going I was making batch after batch of frosting - starting with the smaller layers. Each had to be leveled with the cake leveler, covered in frosting, then the fondant needed to be rolled out and put on each cake. Sounds much easier than it is actually.Here are some more pictures of the progress...The layers are:8" - red velvet cake, 10" - yellow cake, 12" - white cake, 14" - chocolate cake, and 16" - strawberry cake.

And here are the finished cakes. I have to make little green leaves tonight so that they can dry overnight. Tomororw, Angel and I are going to get the ribbon that goes around the bottom of each layer. Then I will "glue" the little purple flowers and leaves on with icing, and arrange the flowers that go in between each layer in the center of the cake. On Saturday morning I am taking the disassembled cake to the hall to "build" it there. OH BOY! I'll take some more pictures at later stages. I should have a rather entertaining blog post after the wedding Saturday!


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dear Jackass,

Dear Jackass (aka, ex-husband),

I got your voicemail this morning informing me that I could "just go ahead and keep the girls overnight on Saturday night instead of worrying about bringing them back." While I completely understand that the response you want is a "thank you - I appreciate it" - unfortunately (for you) my response is "the girls will be dropped off at your house around 9 and your sorry ass better be there."

Let me refresh your memory of the last few weeks and our discussions regarding my brother's wedding, that you have known about for over a year. The original plan was for me to pick up the girls (since it turns out that this weekend they happen to be with you) on Friday night before bed. I offered you "replacement time" which you said you didn't want. Okay. Two weeks ago when it was your week to have the girls, you called me and asked me to keep them overnight on one of my visitation days (instead of you picking them up at 8pm) and I said that I couldn't drop them off at daycare the following morning, but that you could pick them up in the morning. You called me every name you could think of and hung up on my numerous times. My simple issue was that I needed to be to work earlier than I could have dropped them off at daycare. Your argument was that you had worked on a case for a long time and needed to be at the police station when everything came to an end that particular night. I have no problem with this - but your "needs" are not more important to me than my needs...and the "needs" of the police department is your problem. Let me repeat - YOUR PROBLEM. I was more than willing to work with you on the schedule issue - but instead, you just said "fine, then you can't pick up the girls until right before the wedding and you have to drop them off right after." At this point, I expect you to throw tantrums like a 4 year old when you don't get exactly what you want - I expect that you are unable to compromise in any way to make things easier for the kids...becasue, as you said yourself, "it isn't about what they need, it's about what *you* want."

So, in response to your little hissy-fit, I cancelled the babysitter I had lined up for Saturday night and I re-arranged stuff that I had to do, which is not by any means minimal. Then, this past weekend you call me to tell me that I can once again pick up the girls on Friday night. Well, I can't do that now. I have made arrangements already according to your last tantrum. I will, however, make arrangements to pick up the girls from you early on Saturday morning so that you don't have to get a babysitter. I did this to try to C-O-M-P-R-O-M-I-S-E (look it up).

This morning's voicemail is really the final blow. I cannot keep changing my plans around your mood-swings. Now, all of the sudden, you have to work Saturday night - and I'm supposed to view that as *MY* problem? No, I think not. I realize that you think I'm just being a mega-bitch about all of this - but what you don't seem to understand is that there is a LOT of planning going on here and your bullshit affects more than just me. Everyone has had enough. I offered to attempt to find another babysitter for Saturday night but you were too upset at my "this is your problem, not mine" reaction to even bother listening to what I was saying. So - my response is this "screw you - the girls will be dropped off around 9pm at your house - your happy ass had better be there to greet them."

Once again, thank you for reminding me why I divorced you.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Lazy Blogger

I'm afraid that it's time I admit to what you have been thinking. I'm an INCREDIBLY lazy blogger. I'd love to blame it on the up-coming wedding, and the preparations that go along with that...or on the kids that seem to somehow make time disappear almost instantly...or on my job that has become a mad rush to finish up experiments to get this damn paper finished...but that wouldn't be fair. After all, they could be worthy blog fodder. Instead, I am forced to just say, HELLO, MY NAME IS GRETCHEN, AND I'M A LAZY BLOGGER." I will try to do better.