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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Baby Brain

No...I didn't say baby on the brain.  I said Baby Brain.  Literally the baby is stealing my brain cells.  There is research to back my conclusion, I just can't remember where I found it right now :-)  Convenient, I know....

But seriously....it started with being a little forgetful.  Ya know, when you can't remember the word you want when you want to use it.  Or you can't find your keys, oh wait that happens even when I'm not pregnant.  Then the strange stuff started happening.  Like I put a sealed plastic bag of....oh stink, I can't remember the word (baby brain).....um fondant!  Marshmellow fondant!  Anyway I put a sealed bag of marshmallow fondant in the cupboard reserved for my plates and bowls.  I couldn't find it for days and then finally found it when I went to get a bowl down for cereal.  

So tonight I was making a cake and I had stirred everything together (or so I thought), put it all in a pan, stuck it in the oven, and set the timer.  I came back in a minute or so later to put some things away in the kitchen and I noticed my half cup of oil still sitting on the counter.  With Will already licking out the mixing bowl I wasn't really sure what to do :-)  I finally decided on mixing the oil into the pan of cake batter with a whisk.  It turned out fine but I was a little stumped as to how I could have missed that.  Quite frankly I'm amazed that my homemade pizza dough has been turning out nicely lately.

Poor Will....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

To The Praise Of His Glorious Grace

It appears that I am a terrible blogger.  It's been two months since I've blogged.  Granted my life has been in a little bit of an upheaval since learning that our lives are going to be changing drastically on or around January 25th (hopefully not after :-)  However now that I'm feeling better I'm making more of an effort to keep up with something that I really do enjoy.  Unfortunately I fear that my blog post today will make some of you melancholy, though that is not my intent in the least.
Most of you know that Will and I have been blessed by God to become parents in 5 short months.  However many of you do not know that we are already parents.  Many of you are probably scratching your heads and wondering what in the world I'm talking about.  Last December Will and I became parents to a wee little one in Heaven.  This was undoubtedly one of the darkest times of my life and as my due date, July 27, 2011 approached  and passed I wanted to talk about the amazing work God completed in my life during the past 7 months.

We found out we were expecting our first little one about two weeks before Thanksgiving 2010 and were ecstatic that God would bless us in this way.  Thanksgiving held a different meaning for us last year.  We couldn't wait to break the news to our families and were making plans for fun Christmas gifts to let them in on our secret.  

The first few days of December brought with them fear, pain, and the knowledge in my heart that our little one was not long for this world.  I spent a lot of time crying out to God to protect what we had been yearning for.  I also spent a lot of time just plain crying.  Will was a wonderful support to me during this time and I was and continue to be thankful for how he loved me even when I wasn't very loveable.  

During this time God made Himself very present to us in the form of two friends.  The best part is that until we told them about this recently they had no idea God had used them in such a way in our lives.  On December 3rd I had the first of several blood tests to confirm that I was losing our precious baby. That night Will was with a friend who casually mentioned that he and his wife would be more than willing to talk to us about miscarriage or infertility if those were ever concerns for us.  

When Will came home that night and told me the story I was blown away by the implications.  While God may not have answered my pleas the way I wanted He was letting us know that He was providing support for us and realized that we were going through a difficult time.  While we didn't take the friend up on the offer we felt peace in knowing that God was aware of our situation and was guiding our lives in His perfect way. 

God used another friend who shared a timely poem about Christmas through the eyes of a miscarried baby in Heaven to further encourage us, and more specifically me.  This was especially encouraging because Christmas was nearing and our hearts were breaking.  Again I felt God's strength which I sorely needed.

I spent a lot of time reading my Bible and on my knees begging God to show me why we had to experience such euphoric excitement followed by the depths of despair.   God brought me to a realization that I had somehow lost track of in my sadness.  That realization was that God and only God knows the perfect will for my life.  There are so many things that I know nothing about but praise God that He can see the big picture and knows exactly what I need.

Unfortunately I am human and a sinner and while in my head I understood that God had His best in mind for me when I lost our baby it was hard to remember that in my heart when my arms ached to hold our wee little one.  I began to get sad and upset hearing (what was to everyone else) the joyful news of other lady's pregnancies.  I wondered why God allowed them to get pregnant but I couldn't keep my baby.   It was a terrible, selfish feeling and I'm not proud of myself for feeling that way. 

I was also frustrated that another pregnancy didn't seem to be in God's immediate plans for our lives.  In hindsight I realize that yes, His plan really is perfect as I was not spiritually or emotionally ready to deal with a 2nd pregnancy.   And throughout all this time the words of a song sung at our wedding reverberated through my mind.  To The Praise Of His Glorious Grace.  Was I praising God's grace in my life in this situation?  One verse in particular spoke to my heart which did not want to listen:  

Providentially ruling all things,
To conform to the end He designed,
He mysteriously governs and brings
His eternal, wise plans into time.
He works out every step, every trace,
To the praise of His glorious grace.

Ironically enough it wasn't until Mother's Day that I finally gave my burden of frustration, anger, and sadness over to God.  I finally felt the peace I had been seeking for several months.  I was able to rejoice with friends who were expecting and think back on the short little life of my baby without tears or anger.   And I knew in my heart as well as my mind that just like the words written by D.A. Carson stated, God works out every part of our lives and His plan for our lives and the life of our little one was perfect and best for us.

Shortly thereafter God blessed us unexpectedly with a positive pregnancy test.  We were exuberant, yet reserved in the wake of our loss last year.   But God continued to provide encouragement, the best of which was being able to hear the melodious sound of our baby's heartbeat.  

However I was aware of the approach of July 27th, the day on which we had expected our first little one to make his or her entrance into our world.  Thankfully I was reasonably busy on that day and did not have time to dwell on what it meant.  When I finally did have time to reflect I shed a few tears which were a mix of sadness at the empty feeling in my arms and happiness in knowing that our precious baby was in Heaven with our Savior who loves our baby much more than we ever could.  It's a comfort to know that our baby is being taken care of and loved by the only one I know that can do it better than we could have.  Again I was reminded of the song and God's plan for our lives that was set into motion long before creation.

While I of course wish that I had my baby in my arms right now I am thankful for God's loving care and provision in my life.  I am thankful for all the things God taught me during this time, truths I possibly would not have learned had I not had to go through this trial.  God used this trial to strengthen me beyond what I thought capable and I am grateful that I serve a God who knows everything and cares deeply for even the most innocuous parts of my life.  I take comfort in the knowledge that even if I don't know the path upon which my life is headed God, my Heavenly father who loves me so much that He sent his own son as a sacrifice for my life, is in control.

To The Praise Of His Glorious Grace:

With astonishing mercy and power;
In accord with His pleasure and will
He created each planet, each flower,
Ev'ry galaxy, microbe, and hill.
He suspended this planet in space
To the praise of His glorious grace.

To the praise of His glorious grace.

Providentially ruling all things,
To conform to the end He designed,
He mysteriously governs and brings
His eternal, wise plans into time.
He works out every step, every trace,
To the praise of His glorious grace.

To the praise of His glorious grace.

We were blessed in the heavenly realm
Long before being included in Christ.
Since we heard the good news, overwhelmed,
We reach forward to seize Paradise.
We shall see Him ourselves face to face
To the praise of His glorious grace.

To the praise of His glorious grace.

- D. A. Carson 



Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hey Ash, do you need a good cry??

Wow, it's been a really long time since I've posted on here.  My apologies.  I'm sure you've missed me terribly ;-).  Things have been crazy busy at our house with finishing up construction projects and taking care of numerous orders for my new business . So I've taken my hiatus and I'll try to be better in the future.

FYI: You might want a Kleenex or two, or the box.  Yeah, get the box.


In his spare time, which he doesn't have much of, Will has been watching Ken Burns' Civil War documentary on Netflix. He just finished with the first episode and as I was walking past he said, "Hey, do you need a good cry?"  Always a glutton for punishment I was curious so I came and sat down on the couch next to him while he cued the final scenes from the documentary.  Soon they were reading the letter of a US Army Major named Sullivan Ballou.  He had written this letter to his wife as they were preparing to move to a new location.  


While the letter was being read aloud the song Ashokan Farewell came on.  This song alone is a very moving piece, but using it as the background to the letter put me over the edge.  I was a mess of tears as I listened to the words Army Major Ballou had written so very long ago on July 14, 1861.  In one of the most eloquent letters I have ever heard, he pours out his love for God, family and country and his regrets for a life he wished he could have lived better.  I was able to find the letter online and thinks it's worth the time it will take you to read it.  I was moved to tears and am so thankful that people like this man have gone before me and made sacrifices so that I can enjoy the freedom we have today.  I may be a week late for Memorial Day but shouldn't we be thankful everyday to those men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom?   Unfortunately Major Ballou did give that greatest sacrifice.  He died during the first battle of Bull Run on July 28, 1861, a mere two weeks after he wrote that letter.  



July the 14th, 1861
Washington D.C.
My very dear Sarah:
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.
Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure—and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine O God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.
But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows—when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children—is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country.
Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar—that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.
Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.
But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the brightest day and in the darkest night—amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours—always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.
Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for me, for we shall meet again.
As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.
Sullivan

Monday, April 25, 2011

I like to serve my cake on the floor!

Tonight I was a cake baking fiend!  I made a strawberry cake, double fudge cake, a white cake and a peanut butter cake for various cake ball/pop orders that I have going on.  Unfortunately the cake baking night coincided with what could possibly be my worst food mishap of 2011.  It's a really busy week for Delightful Bitefuls with roughly 300 cake balls and 50 cake pops needing to be finished by Saturday.  Oi, I get a little stressed just thinking about.  That being said, every minute counts and I'm micromanaging my time. 


So I had just finished crumbling my first ever peanut butter cake that would soon be turned into peanut butter chocolate cake balls for a baby dedication (it smelled fabulous!).  I got up from my workspace with the bowl of crumbled peanut butter cake in hand and headed to get the frosting.  Then, the unthinkable happened.  I tripped and peanut butter cake crumbs went flying!  I laughed SO hard.  I think it was either laugh hysterically or cry, so I chose laughter, which was probably a wise choice.  Anyway, it was quite a mess and wouldn't ya know that it's really hard to sweep up uber moist peanut butter cake crumbs from a wood floor.  But on a side note I found out my cats like peanut butter.  And please, no worries Miss K, I didn't save the crumbs I swept up, I'll make another cake tomorrow morning :-)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Oh Football, How I've Missed You!

Just a word of warning: This is a UofM Football Nerd Post.  You've been warned.


Today I was able to do one of my most favorite things with my most favorite person.  I got to go to the Big House and watch UofM football.  Yes, I know it's not fall.  But that doesn't really matter to me because I LOVE football, especially UofM football!  I know, I know, I'm a girl and all that, but does that really matter either?  Psssh, I give that an emphatic NO!


Will and I decided to take a little weekend away and left for Ann Arbor Friday morning.  We visited a couple antique stores, a couple book stores, some UofM clothing stores (where I got an adorable knit UofM hat), and drove around the UofM campus which is gorgeous!  Then Friday afternoon we were able to go on a tour of the football team's locker room.  Walking in and seeing all those helmets lined up in the lockers was pretty awesome:






After we walked through the locker room we were able to walk down the tunnel onto the field.  It was neat to know that the guys walk through there on game day!




Being out on the field was a great experience too.  I felt so small out there standing with Will on the giant "M":










And finally today we sat in the Big House to watch the results of the team's spring practicing.  It felt good to be back in the Big House and I'm loving this tradition that we started last year!  The band was also there and I always love hearing them play!


Please note the adorable knit UofM hat Will bought for me :-)
As we were walking back to our car after the game we saw a couple of the players signing autographs for little kids which was really cute.  THEN all of a sudden I could hear pounding feet coming up behind me and several guys yelling.  I felt like Simba in the herd of wildebeests in The Lion King.  Several football players including Troy Woolfolk and Kenny Demmens went flying past.  It was interesting to hear them talking and goofing around:




So all in all it was a great weekend which included a trip to Blimpy Burger where I felt like I perspired grease after we left :-)  AND I can't wait for football to get started for real!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Calling 99V or was that 66A?

So today I had one of those "DUH!" moments.  You know the kind, when you feel a little bit, no, a lotta bit ridiculous?!  Yeah, those ones.  Today I was at the Secretary of State renewing my driver's license and plate tabs.  I went through the initial paper check area and the lady handed me my paper-clipped packet of papers, current license and the ticket which read 99V.  I looked at the blinking red numbers and they said 11.  You've GOT to be kidding me.  I have to wait for 88 people to go ahead of me?!  I happened to be at the Supercenter at the mall which ended up being a good thing.


I texted my friend who told me to go shopping.  I was a little nervous because what if everyone left and suddenly it was my turn and I wasn't there?!  She coaxed me into going so I roamed the mall looking first into Old Navy, then TJ Maxx, then Nordstrom Rack, and on the list goes.  During that time I frequently passed the SOS office to check the flashing red number.  I finally decided to give up my trekking and head back in around number 58.  I watched as they flew through numbers 62-70, all no-shows, and rejoiced at the stupidity of the people who had missed their number being called.  Their loss was my gain!


At number 78 I looked at my cell phone clock.  I'd been there for one hour and 15 minutes and I still had a ways to go.  At that time I also happened to look down at my packet of papers, which was turned upside down. The ticket had become dislodged from the paper clip and I stared in horror at the number-letter combination that stared up at me.  66A. I couldn't believe it.  They were now on 80.  I had missed my number!  I was one of the stupid ones I had so recently mocked!!


I humbly returned to the line where tickets were given out and waited for about 10 minutes.  I then confessed my inability to read properly to the lady who had a good laugh and sent me to the Return line.  She and I were able to work out what had happened.  The lady had pulled the ticket off in a manner so that she could read 66A.  Then she tucked it under the paper clip so she could still read it, with the curve of the paper clip laying in just such a way to cover the cross-bar of the A thus making it look like a V.  Boy did I feel chagrined :-)


Anyway, I figured a nice lighthearted, laugh-at-my-expense story was just the thing to bring me back to the world of blogging from my time away!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I'm baaaaaaack!

Just a little note to let you know that I'm back after my unintended "internet at home" fast.  I'll be up and running soon with some new posts and exciting news about my new business!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cake Ball Contest!

Don't forget to try your hand at naming my new dessert catering business!  You could win a cake ball catered event! I've had several submissions that are awesome and it's going to be a tough choice!  Email your name and your business name idea to awagnercakeballs@gmail.com.  Also, if you're interested in reviews from people who have had them all you really need to know is the following a) they couldn't quite give a review because they were too busy shoving their face with cake balls and going "Mmmmmm!" b) I rarely have ANY leftovers (unless I set some aside for myself:-) and c) I can't remember what c was anymore, oops, guess it must not have been too important!  But seriously I can give you some reviews if you want them :-)  Ooooo I remember c now: c) whenever there is a work function involving food it is just assumed that I will bring cake balls and my co-workers want very much to be my proving ground for new flavors such as Coffee Toffee!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

If you will kindly turn your attention to my blog....


You thought I forgot didn't you!?  Well I didn't.  I'm just a master procrastinator and this brought back my fondest college memories (much to my mother's chagrin, right mom?)

And much to what I perceive will be the disappointment of many, no I am not pregnant.  But that doesn’t mean you should stop reading because I have a job for you!  I will shamelessly admit that my Facebook post was a little stunt to get people to come to my blog.  Why you may ask?  Because I need business for my new business! “New business??!!” I hear you incredulously inquire.

Yes I am starting a business.

A cake ball business to be precise.

As you can tell from my previous post I love cake balls. A lot. They are so much fun to make and decorate!  Every time I make them more and more people tell me they would pay me to make some for a party or get together. Which got me thinking…maybe I should start a business that caters cake balls?  I decided to commit my idea to prayer.  I began to pray that God would show me which way I should go, whether I should move forward or wait, and that He would open doors for me if I were to proceed. 

After several weeks went by amazingly doors began flying open presenting me with unique opportunities. These particular doors are ones I never would have come across on my own.  So I began preparing a list of flavors and prices and started my journey!  My flavors are as follows:

  • Funfetti
  • Strawberry Shortcake
  • Vanilla Chai
  • Pink Lemonade
  • Cherry Cordial
  • Coffee Toffee
  • Banana Split
  • Double Fudge Delight
  • Cheescake (Strawberry, Cherry, or Chocolate)
  • Grasshopper
  • Orange Sherbet
  • Pumpkin Spice
  • Lemon Meringue
I'm still working on the price aspect but that should be coming soon.  On to the part which requires your assistance.  Unfortunately my creativity in cake balls does not extend to naming things.  That's where you come in.  I need a name for my new business.  Therefore I propose a competition.  I would like any and all of you to submit your name along with a name for my business to me via email (awagnercakeballs@gmail.com).  Options submitted as a comment on FB or this blog will not be considered, but that doesn't mean you can't leave general comments :-)

I know, I know, you're all wondering what the prize will be for this little competition.  Besides recognition on my internationally read blog (I have visitors from Canada, Taiwan, and Singapore, so says my ClustrMap, no that's not a typo, it's really called ClustrMap) I will provide one event of your choice with cake balls (any flavor and design) for free.  I do have one small rule.  Eventually I would like to extend my business beyond cake balls so please try to refrain from using the word cake balls in the title unless it was being used in conjunction with something else.  For example Cake Balls & More.  Also, using my name in business name is acceptable but not required.

Alright, have at it.  I will officially close the competition one week from today at which point the suggestions will be perused by myself and my esteemed panel of judges to choose a delightful name.  Once I have a name I will be able to come up with some more marketing type stuff.

And for those of you who persevered to the end I apologize that my announcement wasn't as exciting as you might have hoped...  I'll have "that other" announcement to make some day, God willing :-)

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Funny Valentine, Sweet Comic Valentine...

As today is Valentine's Day I thought I would write a mushy post about how I have the most wonderful husband in the world on so many fronts.  Seriously!


First of all he fears and loves God and serves Him faithfully.  I am so very thankful for this fact and could not have asked for a better spiritual leader for a husband.  He has been a constant encouragement to me as well as source of conviction when there are changes that need to be made in my life.


Secondly he plays the cello.  And I like it. Alot :-)  Today he was playing "The Swan" from "Carnival of the Animals" by Saint-Saens.  This just happens to be one of my favorite pieces for cello and it made me sigh. He also tells bad jokes. I told him, "I think The Carnival of Animals is at my office (meaning our cd)" to which he responded "That's an interesting way to describe your co-workers"


Thirdly he's tolerating and even getting into the spirit of my coupon craziness.  Case in point, today he sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers.  I was surprised and delighted and was the envy of my female co-workers.  When I told him this do you know what he said?  He told me that the reason he purchased the flowers from Pro-Flowers  was because he could get 900 Swagbucks for doing so.  That's the equivalent of a $10 Amazon gift card!  I love this guy!


Fourthly (is that even a word?)  he's always doing spur of the moment sweet things.  A week or so ago he brought home potted tulips for me to enjoy now and plant later and I LOVE tulips!  Today he fixed the lamp I recently bought with no prompting from me.  He always opens my car door and holds open doors for me.  


Fifthly he cuts a dashing figure in a suit!  Ok this one is a little shallow, but isn't a girl supposed to think her husband is handsome?  In short he is a gentleman of a kind that is nearing extinction in this day and age and I love him for it (while other girls dislike me for it).  I am so glad that God saw fit to bring us together almost 6 years ago.  It's been a wonderful ride and I'm greatly looking forward to God's plan for the rest of our lives!  

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cake Balls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*Note to my readers: I've been in the process of writing this post since before Christmas.  That being said some of the references are a little old.  IE the 5 hours I spent making cake balls was for a Christmas Party at church.  Just so you know!*

This post title deserves an innumerable amount of exclamation points to show my love for making cake balls!  Considering the fact that my blog is called As The Kitchen Burns I figured I should post some more about my hazardous baking habits.  Thankfully the 5+ hours I spent in the kitchen making these babies didn’t result in too much pain.  But first, before I get into that, a little about my cake ball history…

I had my first cake ball at my dear friend’s wedding.  It was one of the most deliciously delectable dessert delights I have ever had (how’s that for alliteration!) and not to mention so classy looking! I immediately HAD to know how it was done! I have a DEEP love of baking, it helps me relax, and someday I would love to have my own little bakery, but anyway, I was so excited to get my hands on a recipe and try them out on my own.  My first opportunity was for my wonderful cousin/friend’s baby shower.  I decided that they would be perfect for a baby shower because they were so little and adorable!  I used strawberry cake with funfetti frosting (the best in my humble opinion) and vanilla candy coating.  I was doing really well with the cake balls when I did a most horrendous thing!  I made the grievous mistake of using regular food coloring in candy coating.  GASP!  The water based food coloring immediately started separating the oil based candy coating, creating a grainy, gross looking candy coating.  I also overheated the candy, causing it to become hard and chunky.  Thankfully I was able to salvage some of the candy coating and the cake balls were a hit!

After that the botched baby shower batch I kind of took a cake ball hiatus/early retirement through the spring and summer.  I did pull out of retirement for a bridal and baby shower for two of my co-workers.  I thought they were rather unmemorable but my co-workers must have thought otherwise because when the Thanksgiving Potluck sign-up sheet at work made its way  around the office I was told that I must make cake balls.  And I came up with the Pumpkin Spice Cake Ball! It sure was yummy, but not my favorite by far.  No, my favorite thus far has been, wait for it, wait for it…..Triple Fudge Cake with Double Fudge Frosting, dipped in Peppermint Flavored Candy Coating!  Oh yes folks, it is just as delicious as it sounds.  I don’t mean to sounds prideful, but have you tried one of these babies?  In all seriousness though, I can’t stop eating them.   So now you have it, my short cake ball history.  So now for some pictures
This picture represents my preparations for battle (cue victorious battle music please)

Next you have my post-dipped, pre-decorated balls taking up crazy amounts of space in my fridge….

And finally, the finished product!

Now on to the kitchen burning part.  No I didn’t actually burn the kitchen at all.  But I got burned while dipping the cake balls.  And how can one burn themselves dipping cake balls you ask?  Let me tell you.  I spilled peppermint oil on my hand and didn’t immediately wipe it off.  And ya know what, when you don’t wipe off peppermint oil on your hand it starts to burn, like Icy Hot, but a whole lot worse.  And it makes your hand red.  And it makes your hand dry.  And it makes your hand chapped.  And it hurts. Did I mention that already?  Cause it did :-) But after a week I’m better now so no worries, my hand will live to make more cake balls again soon. 


Update:  I took a brief  break after Christmas but picked up my Cake Ball mantle for a Super Bowl Party.  Below are my pictures of the Steeler and Packer themed cake balls!
I apologize for my rather inferior photography skills... I'm saving up for a new camera! Also of note, my Packers cakeballs were not quite as pretty due to not cutting the right size hole in my frosting piping bag thingy (yes, that is the technical term).


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Of Bloody Hands And Cookie Jars

Ahhhhhhhh!

Ahhhhhhhh again!! 

Just kidding!

So I went to organize my Cake Ball decorating drawer and lo and behold I found my red candy coloring had leaked in the drawer so I decided to have a little fun.  If ever you need to use fake blood I would really choose red candy coloring.  It looked so real!

On a wonderful note two of my co-workers talked me into going to a Goodwill on our way to lunch and I picked up this adorable cookie jar!  I've been looking for a red(ish) cookie jar since before Will and I were married and all I could find was strawberry, cherry, or apple shaped cookie jars.  Not my cup of tea thanks.  But this one is PERFECT!  Thanks ladies!  I wouldn't have gone but for your dragging me! Of note: Will was pleased with my purchase because it means I now have to keep the cookie jar full :-)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Proverbs 31 Woman

Today as I was pondering a tag line for my blog banner I kept going back to the Proverbs 31 Woman.  Could I draw my tag line from this wonderful passage of scripture?  As I was reading and mulling I kept coming back to verse 14, "She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar."  When I read this I kept thinking, "Pfft I do this all the time, that must mean I'm doing pretty well!" I mean, come on, Jimmy John's isn't exactly next door (unless I have them deliver, which I've yet to do, even though delivery is only $0.25 per item!).  It's a least  2 miles away, and in Biblical times that was pretty far away right?  And while we're at it how about verse 16, "She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard."  Didn't Will and I just buy the lot next to our house and aren't I planning to plant a garden there this spring (though not a vineyard per se)?  Check!  And listen to verses 17, "She girds herself with strength, And strengthens her arms." and 21, "She is not afraid of snow for her household, For all her household is clothed with scarlet."  I'm pretty sure two days ago my shovel and I challenged the snow on our sidewalk to a duel and I won!  AND! I wore a red (scarlet) scarf whilst doing so!  I'm practically halfway to being the Proverbs 31 Woman!


While I jest about my so-called accomplishments I know that I have a long way to go, and quite frankly I'll only get there with the help of my gracious and merciful God! It is only through Him that I can come even close to being the Godly wife my husband needs and I'm learning more about that every day.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

If there Was A Kitty Heaven…..

It would consist of the following for each of my kitties: 

For Tallulah it would be eternal head scratching 

And endless toys with feathers attached


For Maisie it would be plastic grocery bags galore

And twist ties.  Lots and lots of twist ties!




Monday, January 24, 2011

My First Cello Lesson

Last night I had my first cello lesson from my very own Yo Yo Ma (personally I think my Yo Yo Ma is much more handsome!):
After much patient instruction I was finally able to play two octaves of the C scale.  I felt quite jubilant.  I should have quit while I was ahead.  From there it was all down hill folks.  Let me just say that having as much music knowledge as I do and playing two other instruments really has little relevance when one is trying to learn a stringed instrument.  Except I can read the notes in the music.  But that's it.  For real.  Maybe someday I'll surprise everyone by whipping out a song on the cello.  But that's a ways away.  Like years, perchance even decades.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

All In God's Time!

Today God answered a prayer Will and I have had for over a year now.  If you would like to read the moral of the ensuing long narrative please feel free to scroll down to the end.  I'm sort of long winded, but I come by it honestly :-)


When we first bought our house at the tail end of 2009 we bought it partially based on the fact that we had a buyer's agreement with the owners of the 1/2 acre empty lot right next door to our house to purchase their land.  The property was being disputed in a divorce proceeding and the land went into foreclosure and was taken over by the city February 2010.  We prayed and decided to pursue the property. Phone calls flew back and forth between Will and the city who informed us that the land would be up for auction at the local land auction.  We decided to attend the auction to see if we could purchase the land that way.  


Shortly before the auction we found out that the minimum bid was for $1200 more than we had settled on in the buyer's agreement. After more prayer and discussion we decided not to pursue the lot at the auction as we felt the land wasn't worth that much money and we knew the back taxes owed on the property were significantly less than what they were asking.  We thought this might bring some closure to the situation.  That was not to be however.  I attended the auction in July 2010 with my mom to see what happened.  No one bid on the land and it was left unpurchased.  This was encouraging and we decided to again pursue the lot. 


More calls back and forth and much waiting (patiently on Will's behalf, not so much on mine) with the city led us to find out that the County Land Bank now owned the property.  More phone calls and we found out that County Land Bank was going to auction the lot off in a package of properties at an auction in Ludington at the end of October 2010.  I was upset to say the least.  I mean who sells bulk packages of empty lots at an auction?  And who buys them?  That's crazy!  While I did not attend this auction we found out that the property had again gone unpurchased. 


We continued our now tired pursuit of the lot and had the occasional thought, is it even worth it?  At this point in time even the County Land Bank wasn't sure what they were going to do with the lot.  After much discussion amongst themselves they finally determined in late December 2010 that we would be allowed to place a bid for the lot and that it would be either approved or denied at their next meeting on January 11th, 2011.  Elation!  Will talked to the county treasurer who hinted that the County Land Bank was really hoping to still get the "minimum bid price" from the July auction.  That made me nervous that they wouldn't consider any offer that wasn't at least up to the minimum bid, if not above. 


We talked and prayed and talked some more.  Then we consulted our realtor who encouraged us to give them a low ball offer (lower even then our buyer's agreement offer) as there has been no new housing construction in the city proper for several years and empty lots have been for sale for eons.  We took his advice and offered them half of the "minimum bid" which was also over $1000 less than our buyer's agreement offer. We kindly explained why we offered so little, what we would like to do with the property and that we had the cash on hand to back up the offer.  And today, joy of all joys, we found out that they accepted our offer!  I was flabbergasted!  I really thought they would at least counter offer!  But no!  We are getting a 1/2 acre of land for a pittance!  Will found out from the county treasurer and then we had the following IM conversation:


Will: so i've got some more shoveling to do.
Me: (thinking he said it because it had snowed a little that morning) how do you know?
Will: how do i know what?
Me: that you have to shovel?
Will: i know... because our sidewalk just got longer
Me: YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Yeah, there really were that many exclamation points.  Ask Will!


So for those of you who skipped down here's the moral of my story (in which I am also long winded):  While this may seem a somewhat trivial situation there were definitely times during the process where I despaired that we would ever be able to purchase this lot.  From the very beginning I had big plans for that lot which included a nice sized garden!  So each time purchasing the lot didn't work out I got frustrated with the city and county governments, with the previous owners for not closing the deal before foreclosure started, and even at God.  I felt like at times I was almost being teased by Him as we would find out we could possibly purchase it and then be disappointed,  for example finding out the minimum bid was too high.  Towards the end there I wasn't even sure we would ever be able to buy the lot.  I had started assigning some of the money we had saved for the lot to a new car fund :-)  


I say all of that to now say, God's timing is perfect.  When we started the buyer's agreement process over a year ago I never would have imagined that we would be able to purchase the lot at such a low price.  The fact that we're going to now still astounds me quite frankly!  God's plan was much better than mine could ever hope to be and while I rarely had the patience and faith that I should have during this process I am reaping the rewards of God's goodness! While God doesn't have to prove anything to me He continues to provide me with examples that further establish His love and plan for me and for that I am so very thankful.  Hopefully I'll be more insightful next time!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Creativity Abounds (Briefly...) Part II

Today I had the day off in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.  I spent the majority of the morning and early afternoon perusing old Martha Stewart Living and BHG magazines getting ideas for the new bedroom and purging my rather large magazine collection (Will is thrilled :-)  Then I realized that I was long overdue for a wreath change.


I LOVE wreaths or welcome signs on my front door.  I have such a unique looking front door that I feel it deserves some sort of decoration.  Plus there's a big ugly nail in the middle above the window that begs to have something hung on it.  Plus I feel weird having a clear glass window on my front door in which anyone from the outside could see me walking up my stairs in my pj's.  No thanks.  And I bet they feel the same :-) Plus I'd hate to have it covered up by curtains.


Anyway.


Remember this wreath, the product of my last spurt of creativity?


Well today it became this:


Who knows how long the needles will last but it livens up the BEAUTIFUL bureau that my dad completely refinished for us.  Sigh, I love antiques.  So now that the evergreen wreath is gone this little beauty has taken its place:


No, I didn't make this.  But someone did, so it's almost like I did.  Plus I had to fluff the bow.  So that counts. Right?


PS Does the bow look a little overwhelming to anyone else?  After seeing it in a picture I'm thinking I might have to tone it down a bit...

Friday, January 7, 2011

"...think on these things"

Recently I’ve been pondering some text that was presented at our Wednesday evening Bible study and prayer meeting a week or so ago.  Our Pastor was on vacation so our Sunday School teacher presented the Bible Study.  He spoke out of a text that is so familiar that I can pretty much recite it.  And much to my chagrin I almost tuned him out.  I’m so thankful that I didn’t because it has had a lasting (so far) impact on my daily life.

 The text was Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”   I’d always equated this verse with the idea that I should always try to think good things and that was that, and I would go about my day, often stumbling and not even realizing it. 

Our teacher asked us if we knew how many thoughts we had each day.  I can’t even fathom the number of thoughts I have that I remember, let alone the fleeting thoughts that I think have no effect on my actions.  That makes me wonder, how many of those thoughts are pure, just, or a good testimony?  How many are unjust, unkind, or a poor testimony? If there were some sort of mind reading machine would I be willing to let my mind be read for 24 hours and have my thoughts published on Facebook or my blog? Yeah, I’m not thinking so.  I’m ashamed to say that the majority probably belong in the negative categories rather than the positive.

In the Bible Jesus goes beyond the 10 Commandments and says that simply thinking hateful thoughts is like killing the person you had the hateful thoughts about.  While I don’t admit to having frequent hateful thoughts (that I can remember) I can think of numerous occasions where I’ve had unkind thoughts about people or their ideas, things of that nature.  In the past I’ve prided myself on not actually saying the thoughts out loud and just keeping them in my mind.  But God says that’s not good enough.  My mind should be so focused on the things of God that I don’t have those thoughts.  But because I’m an imperfect and sinful human I will likely have them, so when I do, I should replace them with something that fits within the Philippians 4:8 categories.

This aspect of replacing your negative thoughts with something pure, honest, lovely, etc really resonated with me as it's something I now realize I've been doing the past month or so.  And it's something I've really been working on in the past week.  But it’s easier said than done for sure and for certain.  I especially fall prey to this at work where I often deal with clients who have complex needs and often express feelings of entitlement with which I do not agree.  I’ve printed out this verse and put it above my desk so it’s right in my line of sight whether I’m working on the computer or talking on the phone.  This in and of itself has been a great help and encouragement to me.  Just being aware of my thoughts and knowing what I’m really thinking about has helped significantly.  I’ve also noticed that “thinking on these things”, whether it be by memorizing scripture, listening to music, or spending time in prayer, has caused me to become more content and peaceful in my daily life.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Good Old Days...

Take a stroll down memory lane with me, will you?  Do you remember the good old days of preschool?  When learning was fun and didn't induce you to willingly pull out your hair (in hindsight that hair pulling wasn't such a good idea right guys)? Ahhh those carefree days when the teachers snuck in little bits of learning here and there when you weren't really paying attention.  I remember my first day of preschool quite vividly because there was a little girl screaming her head off.  That made me a little nervous because, clearly a place that made other little girls scream their head off couldn't be that wonderful of a place could it?  But I put my game face on, grabbed the hand of the screaming little girl, and set off for wonderful adventures.  My favorite activity by far was the rice table:
 This little table provided hours minutes of fun to my rambunctious preschool mind.  So much so that I decided to recreate the rice table in my kitchen the other morning.  No I am not joking.  And no I do not have a picture, my apologies.

The other morning I was making rice for Will for breakfast.  I know, it's kind of weird (to me at least) but he likes rice covered in honey or sugar and cinnamon with milk, sort of like how I like my oatmeal.  So I was being the dutiful wife and put a few cups of rice into the rice cooker.  Only the first two cups didn't quite make it to the cooker.  As I went to walk across the kitchen to the rice cooker (note to self, keep the rice bag near the rice cooker when you're making rice, it just makes more sense that way!) I stepped on a kitty tail and that's when chaos ensued.  

It wasn't really the stepping on the kitty tail that had me throwing rice like I was at a wedding.  It was the horrendous yowl that issued forth from my kitty's tiny little mouth.  Quite frankly I hadn't even realized I had stepped on her tail until she gave me what for.  That scared me enough to send the two cups of uncooked rice out of my hands and scattering across my kitchen floor.  And as I type this post that kitty is sitting next to me glaring at me like I had just completed a catnip intervention with her, because, I'm pretty sure she knows I'm writing about her.  I can never tell quite what she's thinking.... or what diabolical planning she has up her sleeve.  Needless to say, my wish to relive my preschool years was fulfilled as I cleaned up two cups of rice.