Thursday, May 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Allison!

No, I haven't lost my mind! I know Allison's birthday is July 16th. I could hardly forget. I did give birth to her afterall! Anyway, since Allison has a Summer birthday she can't celebrate it in school with her classmates. So we celebrated it a little early. Her teacher gave her a cute birthday certificate with "Happy 6.8 Birthday" on it. Allison got a kick out of that. Her teacher suggested that I come in about 2:45 and if I wanted, I could spend the rest of the day with her class. Of course I wanted! I love watching them. It makes me realize that although I think Allison does some strange things, she is more behaved than some of the kids in her class. One little girl pulled up her sleeve, put her mouth on her forearm and started to blow loudly making a "gas" noise! Crazy! And she continued after she was told to stop! Okay, moving along here. Allison requested cupcakes and those "Little Hugs" that is pretty much sugar water or as her teacher described them..."melted popsicles." Even though they are cheap, cheap, cheap, I have never bought them. I'll stick with the 100% fruit juices thank you!

I also put together take home treat bags for the kids. I put little bags of pretzels, a Rice Krispie Treat, a little bag of M & M's, a Reese's cup and two Dum Dum lollipops in them.
Here's a close up. I found the balloon cellophane bags at Wal-Mart. They were in the party section. I'm glad I fought my urge to avoid Wal-Mart because they were very inexpensive. I hate Wal-Mart but that is a whole other post.
I gave Allison some choices for cupcakes and she picked penguins. Aren't they cute? I just love them and they were so easy. I found the idea on the Family Fun website. You can see their link over there. ------> As I've mentioned several times before, I love their magazine and website.
Here is a close up of a little penguin. The recipe said to use dried apricots cut into triangles for the nose and feet. However, I wasn't going to sit there and cut out 72 triangles to have the kids pull them off and say "Yuk, what is this?" So I improvised and colored some icing orange and piped it on with a Wilton #3 tip. I actually liked how they came out better than the apricots. The cookies are the Keebler Grasshopper Cookies. One package will make 24 cupcakes with a few left over. However, when you cut the cookie in half, use a sharp knife and start at the top first and then run the knife down to the bottom. If you put the knife on top and press down, you will not get a clean edge. The eyes are mini M & M's "glued" on with a little white icing. I found the minis at a convenience store and I bought two tubes to get 48 brown ones for the eyes. You could use different colored eyes if you wish and use all the colors but I liked the brown better.
Speaking of Penguins....Whoo Hooo! The Pittsburgh Penguins won game 3 last night of the Stanley Cup Finals! Here's a victory photo "borrowed" from their site. They lost the first two games and won the third. We need to win 3 more out of the next 4 to bring the cup home!
Go Pens!
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My House Smells So Good & An Ouch!

My lilacs have finally bloomed! They are just gorgeous and the scent is amazing! I've had 5 neighbors over smelling them in the last couple days. I can smell them through the window in my kitchen. Yes the window where Princess is sitting. Click on the picture for a better view but please ignore my shutters. We badly need new ones or these painted but the home owner's association hasn't yet decided what to do! you can see the bush is huge! After the blooms are done, I am going to trim it down so I can keep it in the front flowerbed where I can enjoy it daily. I'm not sure how long the blooms will last but I better get to thinking what flowers I am going to plant when they are gone. I always go with pinks, purples, whites and yellows. Hmm, maybe I'll be inspired by something different this year. Stay tuned and see what strikes my fancy!
Can you just see my poor baby's face? She got bit by a mosquito on Saturday. It bit her on the side of her nose. This picture was taken Sunday night after her bath. It's a little shiny because we put neosporin on it but can you see how swollen it was. Even her eyelid was swollen. Curtis went to his brother's on Sunday to watch the race and when he got home, he asked what happened. He couldn't believe it was the bite from Saturday. Thankfully it went down by Monday morning or I would have taken her to the hospital. It looks much better today but she sort of looked like someone punched her. By the way, that dang mosquito lost it's life for what he did to my baby. Allison smacked him dead! Good girl!
I am thinking of the lilac-trees,
That shook their purple plumes,
And when the sash was open,
Shed fragrance through the room.
- Mrs. Anna S. Stephens, The Old Apple-Tree
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Monday, May 26, 2008

Have a Safe Holiday!

Have Fun and Be Safe!

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Guess Who Turned 1 Year Old Last Week????

Ginger did!
She's my sister's dog. Her birthday was May 16th and my sister had a party at my parents' house last Saturday. Yes, I said party. Yes, for a dog! Why not a party? She deserves being celebrated too!
Doesn't she look excited in her birthday hat?
Here's my sister, Alesia with Ginger. Did I mention that Ginger is an English Springer Spaniel? She's really pretty and so sweet....for a dog!
There were presents!
This is a little blurry but Aunt Cindi bought some gourmet dog treats at a "Just Dogs Gourmet." Can you say $15.00 a pound???? And you thought gas was high! I got her peanut butter stars, chicken fingers (in the shape of little hands...too cute) and little bones that were dipped in peanut butter, yogurt and carob. I packaged them in little cellophane bags tied with paw print ribbon. I then put them all in the little paw print bag. Too festive if I do say so myself!
The Springer pillow is from us too. Well it's more for Ginger's Mommy than for Ginger. I know it wasn't her birthday but seriously friends, what do you buy for a dog that has everything for her birthday?
Yes, there was even a piƱata that looked like Ginger! I wasn't allowed to play! It was for the kids! It was raining outside so we thought the safest place was to put all 4 kids at the table and have my brother, Albert, be the holder.
It worked just fine as you can see. That sweep of the arms Mya did netted a lot of candy! Which was fine with me...less for us to take home!
What a pretty pic of the birthday girl with her little friends! Can you see Ginger's all natural dog birthday cupcake? My sister made it herself. Impressive, huh?
Left to right is Abby (my brother's girlfriend's daughter), Mya (my brother's daughter), the birthday girl, Ginger, my Allison and Derek (my brother's son).

Yum! She loved it!
Cake and ice cream time! Please notice the cups and plates...they have little doggies on them!
Here is the close up of the cake. The cupcake cake to be correct. Yes I made it. I just whipped it up in 5 1/2 hours...from start to finish! If you click on it, you may be able to view a closer look of the icing. It looks like fur. I tried to make it look like Ginger. She has that little "V" of brown on the top of her head. Also, her white isn't even on the sides of her nose thus the reason it isn't even on the cake either. The piping of the icing on the cake took 2 1/2 hours. The rest of the time was for baking 2 batches of chocolate and one vanilla. As you can see I used the chocolate for the ears. All of the icing is vanilla and an old family recipe. I made four batches and ended up using about 3 1/2. I had to use the whole 1 oz. container of Wilton brown paste coloring to get the brown color. My sister liked it and that was my goal. My brother made some off handed comment about knowing whose going to be making all of the cakes in the family. If you know my brother, that is his way of giving a compliment. I'll take it!

Overall I think the party was a success. My sister also had dinner for us too but the only picture she got was of me feeding my face...which is not a picture I will share with all of you! Alesia also made gift bags for all the kids with a ton of stuff in each of them. We enjoyed ourselves. I think Ginger did too!

Happy Birthday Ginger! May you have many more spoiled years ahead of you!

"A dog is the only thing on earth that will love you more than you love yourself."

- Josh Billings

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Quick Post Before I Go To Work!

I took the trash out this morning and as I was walking back in I saw this:

That's right! My lilac bush is starting to bloom!!
What a great way to start the day!

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Hair Art!

"Hey Mom! Can you put 5 ponytails in my hair?"

I'm not much of a stylist but this is what I created. Miss Allison was happy so I was happy!

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Rainy Sunday Morning!

It's yucky and been raining here for most of the week. Isn't it supposed to be April showers? Anyway, I'm trying to get motivated here to get started on my weekend chores. I didn't do any yesterday. We had a birthday party to go to. It was quite a party. I'll share that with all of you soon. As for today, I thought I would share some pictures I took this week when Mrs. Sunshine peeped through the rainy clouds.
These are my lilacs and I wish they would BLOOM!!!! All of the other lilacs in the area have already bloomed and are starting to die off. This is a Miss Kim Lilac. It usually blooms about 3 weeks after all of the others. When it does, I'll be sure to share it with you. It is a beautiful soft lavender-pink when it's in full bloom.
This is my azalea. I just love the bright hot pink color of it. It makes me happy!
Violets. They are so beautiful. I remember as a kid picking them from the backyard for my Mom. Allison now picks them out of our yard for me. Nothing brings me as much joy as my daughter with a hand full of fresh picked flowers for me.
This is my neighbor's geranium. She normally gets a red to plant in a pot for the front porch but this year she spiced it up a bit. Hmm, maybe I'll look for variegated pink ones for my flowers this year!
We have a little mushroom family in the corner of the front flower bed. They sprung up by my azaleas. I think I'll let them stay there for a while.
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Friday, May 16, 2008

Too Good NOT To Share!

Allison requested dippy egg, Bob Evans sausage and toast with butter and jelly for breakfast. I obliged. As I'm packing her lunch she says:

"Mom! Your cooking splats love into my mouth!"
Oh, how I love that girl!
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Definitely A Dinner Repeat!

Whenever I try a new recipe or dinner idea my family rates it as either a repeat or not. Last night's dinner was definitely a repeat. I had planned on making soft chicken tacos but when I went to get the spice pack from the pantry, I found this packet of McCormick's Fajita Seasoning Mix. I had forgotten that I bought it! I gave Miss Allison the choice and she decided to try something new. Good girl! I made it with red and yellow peppers because that is what I had on hand. Green peppers don't agree with me anyway so any time I can avoid those is a good thing.

The prep was super easy. I just had to cut the boneless, skinless chicken breasts into strips and marinate it in a plastic bag with 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 cup of water for 15 minutes. I used that time to clean and cut the peppers and a medium onion. And the best all went into one large skillet! All I used to make this very flavorful dinner was a cutting board, a knife, a large skillet and tongs to move the food around in the pan. That's it! Easy Peazy Lemon Squeezy. (as Allison would say) I served it with warm flour tortilla shells, shredded lettuce and shredded cheddar cheese. You could add diced tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole and salsa also if you like. I also thought about making rice but I'm glad I didn't. We didn't need it and all left the table full.

After I started cooking it, Miss Allison wasn't too sure about her choice of dinner. I told her that I could take out the peppers and onions for her and she could just have the chicken, cheese and lettuce. Her reply was "No, I think I want to try those." Good girl! However, after we assembled her fajita, she turned up her nose and complained that it was yucky and didn't want it. Curtis told her that Mommy doesn't make anything bad (thanks Honey!) and she needs to eat it. I told her just to try it. She whined. We left her alone. Moments later I saw her out of the side of my right eye take a little bite. Then Daddy noticed she took a BIG bite! He commented and she started with "MMMmmmm!" Yay! She loves it! She ended up eating the whole thing and wanted another one. As she was eating her second one, I told her that I wanted to take her picture to send to my Mom (who is at my sister's this week so she can see it on my sister's computer). Allison asked if I was going to put the picture on my blog. LOL! I said "sure." She told me to tell the people on my blog that she ate 2 fajitas! She actually ended up eating one and a half but was so proud for trying something new. I'm proud of her too! She's very good at trying new things. We have the two bite rule in our house. She has to try two bites of something before she can say she doesn't like it. There's actually not too much that she doesn't like. She even tried artichoke hearts on Mother's Day. She didn't like those but she did try them. Curtis wouldn't.

“Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.”

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

A First Grade Field Trip!

Wow! Two posts in one day! I know! I know! Unbelievable, huh?

A week ago today, I volunteered to go on Allison's field trip. We went to Youngstown, Ohio to see "A Year with Frog and Toad." It coincided with their school studies. We went to the Youngstown Playhouse and all I can say is that I'm sure it is not what it once was. As Allison's teacher commented, it certainly looked better on the website than it did in real life. I guess a picture isn't always worth a thousand words. Lesson learned. The play itself was cute. I guess. We had a couple of first grade boy critiques behind us. They weren't too impressed.

Anyway, I enjoyed most of my day. There was a last minute cancellation from one of the chaperons so Allison's teacher picked an alternate. Fortunately for me, it was Allison's best friend's Mom. We've talked a couple of times on the phone, met in person before and did the Valentine's Day party together. This gave us the opportunity to visit on the bus for the over an hour trip back and forth to the playhouse. I like her...a lot! I'm not getting too excited here but I think I may have my first Mom friend here in this town! I am so pathetic! I miss having friends close by to do things with. I've always had friends that live close to me. When I moved here I didn't know a soul. And I pretty much still don't. It's really hard to meet friends if you work an hour away from where you live and don't have much time for anything else. I know my neighbors but unfortunately I think the youngest is pushing 70. There isn't anything wrong with that either, it's just nice to have friends with the same interests to chat with or do things with...and ones who don't live an hour away! Okay, let's get back to the field trip! The picture below is of Miss Allison and her best friend Miss Lena. They are just about the same size and are so adorable together! I pulled the camera out and asked them to pose. They immediately hugged each other! So sweet! On a side note: I had emailed my sister the picture over the weekend while she was talking to Allison on the phone. Apparently she asked Allison if that was her friend. Allison's response was "I wouldn't be hugging a stranger, would I?" Oh! Out of the mouth of babes!

"A best friend is a sister that destiny forgot to give you."
- Unknown

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You've Got To Love Popsicle Sticks!

I know I'm back a little late with this post. It kind of slipped my mind. Thanks to my friend, Sandy in SC, here it is! This is what Allison made in school for me for Mother's day! Isn't it cute? I just love the handmade gifts. They are so sweet! As you can see, I hung it above the kitchen counter under the cabinets. She said when I run out of paper, she'll make me more. You can't beat that!

She also completed a Mother's Day book. This is too cute and I will save it forever! She spelled the words that she didn't know in her "turtle talk." This is when she says the words slowly to herself and sounds it out. Too funny! The part in black is what was printed for them and then they had to finish the sentence.

  1. My Mom is as pretty as a kittin and a cat and a puppy. Puppys are pretty. I love puppys and dogs! They keep you bizzy. Thats why I like puppys. I wish you could get free gas!
  2. My Mom is so smart! She even knows that a tomato is a fruit and a lielack can grow on a tree or a bosh! And any questun I ask her. And who my firends are.
  3. My Mom is special because she is funny!
  4. I like it when my Mom sings silly songs that is hlaryes! (hilarious)
  5. My Mom is so strong! She can even lift the holiday tree! Lift me I em geting hever (hevier) and she dosn't lift me alot.
  6. My Mom helps me by backing my birthday cake.
  7. My Mom can do many things! I think she's the best at cooking. Loveing. Huging. And kissing and calling my cats and holding them for a long time.
  8. My Mom has a pretty smile! I like to make her smile by having the cats atack me. That makes her laugh and my dad laugh too!

And then it is signed:

I hope you have a good Mothers day.
Love Allison
by Allison V. - - - - - - -
from Allison
to Mom
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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope you all have a great day! I'll be back later to share what Allison made at school for me!
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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Some People are Just Born Lucky!

A few weeks ago we attended a builder's supply show at Bennett Supply Company in Cheswick. It's an annual show they put on to showcase the latest and greatest in building supplies. If any of you are wondering, no, we are not building a house. For those of you that don't know, Curtis sells building supplies to contractors and builders. Anyway, I had talked a little about the show here. When you enter the show they give you a bag with a few goodies in it. Also in the bag are two tickets for you to enter for the 5 door prizes. Two years ago Curtis won the 19 inch flat screen television with dvd player. This year they had another tv, a patio set, $400 worth of certificates to local restaurants, a Wii game system and I can't remember the other. I'm sure you can tell by the picture that Miss Allison won the Wii Game System! Whooo Hooo! She's such a lucky duck! The prize package consisted of the Wii Game System, an extra remote and 9 extra games. We are SO excited! She had played one at Aunt Marsha and Uncle Ron's over Christmas and loved it. I tossed around the idea of buying one but we don't buy those big of gifts for her birthday or Christmas. It's not the message we want to send to her. I'm sure one day, we'll be buying big gifts for her but right now, we don't want her birthday or Christmas to be about what she gets. Anyway. I also thought about buying one lately when I saw them in an ad. Imagine our surprise when Mr. Bennett called Curtis on Monday. I can't begin to tell you how thrilled she is! We told her on Tuesday night before dinner. When I told her that she won, she looked over at her Dad and said "Is this real?" She kept questioning it throughout the night if in fact that she really did win. Too funny! She also told us that she prayed that she would win it and that's why she won it. I'm glad she sees that prayer works.The sales rep from Bennett delivered it to Curtis yesterday and as you can see by the picture, her smile can't get any bigger! On a side note here...This isn't the first time she has won something. My sister, Alesia, takes us to her company picnic every year. The first two years Allison won a door prize there too! I guess Allison and Curtis are just lucky people. She won those three things, he won the tv and they both won ME! Wink! Wink!

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

An Elementary Art Show!

This past Tuesday Allison's elementary school along with another one in the district had it's 1st Annual Art Show before the Intermediate High School's Spring Concert. Allison wasn't sure if any of her art work would be there but we thought we would go before dinner anyway. Can I just say here that I really enjoyed myself. The students are from Kindergarten through 6th Grade. I loved seeing how each student interpreted the teacher's instructions. I also loved seeing the level of skill that each student possessed. I stood there soaking up each of the pieces' beauty. I could tell that every student put time, talent and effort into their artwork. I know that most likely none of these pieces will end up being displayed on a wall in a famous museum. In my book that doesn't matter. The refrigerators they will grace the front of will be improved by their beauty. What does matter is that the students are proud of their work. They are proud that their work was important enough to be displayed in an "Art Show." What a boost to their self-confidence! Kudos to "Mr. B." for putting this together. He not only is teaching art but he is helping to build strong individuals.

Mr. B. also did something else when he put this show together. He also inspired me. Well the student's artwork inspired me but I wouldn't have seen it if he hadn't put on the art show. It took me back to when I was in school. When my favorite subject was art. I looked forward to it every year. My art teacher was Mrs. Louise Librich. She was the best. I loved her and fortunately since I went to a small country school, I had her from elementary all the way through to high school when I took art as an elective. I miss those art classes. I miss being creative. I miss my art supplies. I miss getting my hands dirty with chalk pastels, paints and clay. I need to change that. I will change that. Allison's favorite thing to do is create with crayons, markers, scissors, glue, tape, etc.. I'm sure she would love it if I helped expand her creativity in a new direction. I'll have to work on that. Don't worry, I'll be sure to share our adventure with all of you.

Here are some other pictures of artwork that I took at the show.

This was the 1st Grade project. Isn't it cool? Allison is pointing at her contribution to it. Yes, it's a solid color pink but it's so beautiful! Here's a close up. What is she looking at, you ask? Well, let me tell you!
This is what she couldn't take her eyes off the whole time. If you know Allison, you are probably thinking it's the dinosaur. WRONG! It's the art teacher, Mr. B.! YES! That's right! My 6 year old daughter has a crush on the art teacher! I wish I had a better picture because he is a cutey but I couldn't get her to agree to pose with him. I thought it would be odd if I asked him to strike a pose by himself. So I didn't. Allison probably would have killed me anyway. You should have seen her! She had a smile from ear to ear as soon as we walked in. It never left. Afterward when I was uploading the pictures to the computer, she asked if I was going to put him on my blog. I said yes. She then asked me if I was going to tell her secret about the crush. Boy, she knows me too well! I said I would if she gave me permission. She thought about it for a while and agreed. BUT....only if YOU all PROMISE not to say anything to him or to anyone who knows him. Okay? Do you all agree? Great! Thanks for keeping her secret. This was just too good not to share with all of you!
Here are a couple more Campbell soup cans:

I don't know what grade these were...I guess I should have asked but I really enjoyed all of these. I liked how the expressions were captured. I may (big MAY here) try to do one of these of Allison.

And lastly a few collections for your enjoyment. I love how many different results occur from the same instructions.

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."
~Pablo Picasso
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