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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cause it's Ross-craft, wicked Ross-craft.

Kai-lan paper lanterns.

Recently, Lauren and I had a couple of mommy & me days where all we did was craft. She has little interest in anything else these days, so I'm very thankful that there are so many wonderful websites (Like Nick Jr, which provided the means to make these Kai-lan paper lanterns that Lauren absolutely loves to crank out.) with great crafting ideas for kids. And Lauren should be thankful that her mommy has amassed so many craft supplies that we can pretty much make anything we want on the fly!

Perler bead pets.

Lauren had her first experience with perler (or hama) beads at pre-school, so naturally she want to try some at home too.

Blue bird.

This super cute bird collage idea came from Kaboose. The nest is made from basket filler that I had left over from Christmas.

Yarn octopus.

Some of the crafts that we've stumbled upon have been a little advanced for Lauren, but they're so irresistible that we have to give them a go anyway. Take this little yarn octopus, also from Kaboose. Lauren picked out the colors, but I did all the heavy lifting, thus defeating the purpose of it being a kids craft. I'm not ashamed to admit that I struggled a little with it myself. Remember: fiber and fabric crafts typically hate me.

Marie Claire Idees.

I too have found myself to be a little craft obsessed lately, although I don't get much of a chance to craft for myself. One of these days, I will settle down and read this big stack of Marie Claire Idees. These are fairly tough to find (It is published in France afterall!), so I count myself very lucky to have found someone selling the last year and half worth of issues. Also lucky for me is that I can read a bit of French, but besides that, there is so much eye candy to enjoy in each issue that I probably won't even bother to break out the old French-English dictionary.

Awesome crafting books.

I also picked up a few books in English. Rainbow of Stitches is written by a Marie Claire Idees contributor. Once I cracked it open, I had to immediately put it down for fear of being driven insane by all the adorable embroidery inside. Each chapter is dedicated to a color: red, pink, green, and blue. Just about everything is stitched on white fabric. Very clean, very simple, very Martha. Love it.

From The New Handmade

The New Handmade contains directions to make several stylish bags. Lauren has already picked this one out for herself. I'll have to add that to the list after the giant strawberry pillow.

Ipod cozy.

Lastly, I've finally found a form of knitting that even I can do: loom knitting. This iPod cozy was my second project (The first was a newborn sized hat that Lauren uses as Mommy Elephant's sleeping bag.). Some of my stitches were wonky, but that was fixed thanks to the amazing process of felting. After two times in the washer's hot cycle, I was thrilled that my pouch shrunk to just the right size. I want to tackle a larger bag after I get my hands on some more yarn.

On a figure skating note, I'm so excited that Lysacek won the gold medal! Somewhere in Canada right at this moment, Plushenko is still whining about it. Maybe this means that the curse is lifted and that my AI Season 9 pick will win too!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Exciting developments.

Our first resident.

Okay, maybe these aren't exactly exciting, but when your life is as routine and uneventful as mine, you have to get your kicks where you can find them.

As you can see above, we were thrilled to discover that our first feathered tenants have taken residence in our birdhouse.

Marcus in his happy place.

We are also proud to announce that Marcus caught a ball in mid-air not once, but twice. However, he still lets cheese, cereal and other bits bounce off his nose, so I don't know if he'll ever reach Daisy's level of proficiency when it comes to catching food.

Lastly, remember the movie Miracle on 34th Street (Although it seems silly to have to say this for a 63 year old movie, consider this a spoiler alert if you haven't seen it)? Attorney Fred Gaily was able to prove the existence of Santa Claus because a government agency, the U.S. Postal Service, recognized Kris Kringle as the one true Santa Claus by delivering Santa's mail to him at the courthouse.

The postal service has officially recognized me with a title.

It's official, as I too have been formally recognized by the U.S. Postal Service, but as "The Ross Trendsetter"." And before anyone asks, yes, they meant me because Mark doesn't shop for women's clothing and New York & Company doesn't sell anything in Lauren's current size. Don't worry - I won't let my new title go to my head.

On an unrelated note, I am very stoked for the men's figure skating finals tonight, even though there's no way I'm going to be able to stay awake until the end. I get such a kick out of Evgeni Plushenko's Soviet style posturing, but I'm totally routing for Evan Lysacek (Tall guys with dimples for the win!). Unfortunately for Evan, usually the person that I route for in this situation tanks, so we shall see!

(Alright, maybe this post was just really an excuse for this...)

***Begin American Idol blabbering***

After weeks of enduring the seemingly neverending audition episodes, we finally made it to my favorite part of the show - the Top 24! Actually, for me (for you, for me - TM Randy Jackson), Top 24 through Top 8 is my favorite because that seems to be when the most memorable performances occur. After that, I think the contestants (and me) start to burn out from the stress and strain.

I feel AI has gotten back on track this year. Returning to the top 24 format alone is enough to redeem the show in my eyes, but the quality of the contestants has also improved. At this point last year, there were no less than four people that made me want to throw stuff at my tv (Norman Gentle. Tatiana Del Toro. Nathaniel Headband, anyone?), but this year, everyone is fairly likable. I also appreciate that we've actually gotten to see and hear the majority of the Top 24. Usually, there are only a handful that are shoved down our throats, giving the poor unknowns with little to no screen time a big disadvantage to overcome.

So, in an unprecedented move, I'm going to try to predict who will be in the Top 12. Here we go (in no such order):

Andrew Garcia
Tyler Grady
Casey Jones
Michael Lynch
John Park
Aaron Kelly

Crystal Bowersox
Ashley Rodriguez
Haeley Vaughn
Lilly Scott
Katie Stevens
Didi Benami

(That last one was a really tough pick because all the blonde girls are running together for me.)

A few more predictions:

Season 9 Winner will be...a blonde girl. ;)

Guy Who Will Sing Last on Top 24 Night: Andrew Garcia

Girl Who Will Sing Last on Top 24 Night: Crystal Bowersox

Contestant Most Likely to Annoy Me:

Right now, Todrick Hall kinda gets on my nerves, but someone else could certainly pull ahead of him. The field is wide open!

Contestant Most Likely to Earn My Obsessive Support to the Point of Irrationality: Tyler Grady

Come May, let's see how well I did!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Gimme some lovin' (and cupcakes).

My Valentine's Day gift.

Mark surprised me with a two super Valentine's Day gifts - a cupcake carrier and Martha Stewart's Cupcakes recipe book. The least I could do to repay him was to make some cupcakes, right?

Gimme some lovin' (and cupcakes).

I've discovered that, unlike cookies, cupcakes can't really be made on the fly because they require ingredients such as cake flour and buttermilk that I normally don't have in the pantry. In fact, I went out and bought a box of cake flour expressly for the purpose of making cupcakes, and what did I do? I unconsciously grabbed the all purpose flour and used it instead. Unbelievable. As a result, the cupcakes came out tasty, but dense. These are white cupcakes with Fluffy Vanilla frosting. I went with Fluffy Vanilla instead of the Swiss Meringue Buttercream (which I prefer) because the Buttercream called for five egg whites, and I already used five egg whites in the cupcakes themselves. That's almost a dozen eggs!

In spite of all this, I am undaunted because there are so many different varieties to try. Plus, I can spread the joy of baking far and wide with my handy cupcake carrier!

Rock on, Valentine.

How I miss the days when Lauren wasn't so self aware. Now, every time I try to take a photo of her, she sticks her tongue out at me. And it's not just a little "Bronx cheer" tongue, this is full blown Gene Simmons tongue.

Almost 5.

I tried very hard to get a nice photo of Lauren modeling the cute top that Cousin Noreen sent to her, but it wasn't meant to be (Thanks, Noreen! Lauren looks adorable - you'll have to take my word for it!). Aside from the tongue sticking out, this is the other option. I call it, "The School Photo Smile."

My sweetheart.

Lauren says, "Valentine's Day is boring. Nothing exciting happens on Valentine's Day."

Oh, you say that now little one, but if you only knew...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Did someone say...snow?

Marcus in the aftermath of the Blizzard of 2010

Yes, we got a lot of snow. About 21 inches give or take. It's old news now, but that doesn't mean anyone has stopped talking about it. One thing that I've found is that all this snow makes me feel very lazy. And it makes me want to take up knitting (Which I have, but we don't have time to talk about that now...doncha know that there's TWO FEET OF SNOW OUT THERE?!).

View from the master bedroom.

This is what I saw when I opened my eyes on Saturday morning. Well, at least the shadow of it. The blinds were down at the time.

Me like snow.

Marcus, still in his puppy-hood, gets a big thrill from the snow.

On second thought...

Lauren in the aftermath of the Blizzard of 2010.

Shoveling in style.

Good thing we invested in a pair of boots this year!

The winner of this showcase wins this prize and others if the Price Is Right!

The winner of this "snowcase" wins this prize, and others, if the Price Is Right!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Don't bother me. I'm thinking.

Don't bother me. I'm thinking.

I was going to post these yesterday, but since January was such a washout, I thought I'd start February on the right foot.

I admit that the dogs get most of the attention here, so let's take some time to get to know our very little seen cat, Beavis.

Beavis the Cat.

Poor thing. Saddled with such a dumb name, only because I started calling her that one day, and it stuck. I guess it's a step up from "Kitty." We adopted Beavis from Grandma Gert all the way back in 1998. A local woman had left her with Grandma because her mother was coming to live with her. Even though we lived in an apartment that didn't allow pets, we took her in anyway. We didn't feel too guilty - the woman that lived above us had a bird and the couple below us had a dog.

Beavis was very shy at first. She spent most of her time living in our bedroom closet. I blamed this on the fact that her former owner had her declawed on all four feet. Who does that?! Her feet were also unusually small, which I speculate was due to her being declawed at a very young age. Anyway, in spite of these handicaps, Beavis proved herself to be very adept by catching two mice while we lived there.

You lookin' at me? YOU LOOKIN' AT ME?

Unfortunately for Beavis, we decided that we needed an apartment upgrade, and this time, we weren't going to be able to skirt the no pet policy. So back to Grandma Gert she went. A year and a half later, we moved to our first house and was able to reclaim her. While she lived with Grandma, she put on quite a bit of weight, so for awhile we had to refer to her as "Fat Beavis." She also had to get used to living with not one, but two dogs. Later, she'd also have to share her space with another cat. And still after that, a baby. Nonetheless, Beavis carried herself with the attitude of the one who was here first.

Queen of the jungle.

We have no idea how old Beavis is. When we took ownership of her, Grandma Gert told us that she was 8 years old, which would make her 20. I find that hard to believe, because to me, she looks the same as she did 12 years ago. And don't be fooled by her ornery appearance - that's just her normal expression. She's actually the sweetest kitty you'll ever meet. Even when she's throwing up in Mark's shoe or howling at 2 o'clock in the morning.

I took some extra photos this weekend, so I hope to update again mid-week. Not tomorrow though, because Tuesday is a big night for tv - Idol and the season premiere of Lost!