Friday, July 12, 2013

A little catching up

Wow!! It's been four months since I've last written. I really had every intention of writing, but just didn't have the motivation. So...without further adieu...

My last entry was a letter to my sweet Bean for her fourth birthday.

Every year, she picks out what type of cake she wants for her birthday. It's a tradition that my Daddy passed on to my brother and me when we were little. only seems appropriate that I pass along that tradition to my kiddos as well.

This year, Ellie's birthday fell on a Friday. That means that she would be a day care and that she needed to take her party to all of her friends in her class.

Fortunately, she wanted to bring cupcakes to her friends. Hot pink ones - to be exact. So...I obliged and created 24 mini cupcakes for her to take to school. Complete with spinkles, glitter and princess crowns.

You can see from the icing around her lips that she already sampled her sweet treat before all of her friends.

Now...we were hosting her family/friends birthday party on Sunday...two days later.

She decided that she wanted a Minnie cake for her birthday. The traditional Minnie cake pans were boring, so we decided to make a cake completely off the cuff.

I had to purchase a few new pans and start designing the cake. This is what I came up with:

Now...I don't do fondat. I'm not good at it and I find it to be incredibly frustrating.

So...I enlisted the other half of Double Dees bakery...and her mom. :)

I made the cakes earlier in the week, so all that we needed to do on Saturday was decorate the cake with buttercream icing and marshmallow fondant. you can see from the pan picture, there were three levels to this cake. The bottom level consisted of three layers.

And before you can even think about applying fondant, you have to make sure that your buttercream icing is smooth.

After we got the bottom layer finished, we started stacking the additional layers.

The second layer consisted of a small, square cake - covered in zebra print sugar sheets. To be honest, I probably should have made the zebra stripes out of black fondant. The sheets were a pain in the butt. was time to add Minnie's signature head. And...add a few finishing touches to the second level.

Finally, after six hours of working on this cake, it was finally finished.

Whew! Thank goodness! That was one crazy cake to create, but the Bean loved it and was her face says it all.

Happy birthday Bean! Until next year...xoxo


Friday, March 22, 2013

A letter to my Ellie Bean on her fourth birthday

To my sweet Ellie Bean,

Today you turn four years old. For months, you’ve been talking about your birthday. You’ve been telling everyone everywhere we go that it’s your birthday soon; at the store, at the bank, at the Y, and even while we were picking up mommy's medicine at the pharmacy. You happily exclaim that "Your birthday is in March!" Your excitement about your big day is pretty charming.

Almost Four

I don't know if you know this, but you’ve done a lot of growing up this year. You’re leaving the shell of your toddler years behind and you’re headed straight into kid territory. It’s kind of terrifying and exciting all at once.

As a mom, there’s this small side of me tangled up in emotions about the reality that most of your life lived so far you’ll never remember when you’re my age. And that’s kind of sad when I think about it. All the cuddles we’ve shared and giggles we’ve delighted in, you won’t remember when you’re older. Some of the best moments of my life shared with you, won’t really be a part of your memories.

One year

On the other hand, a few moments when I’ve really blown it, you may not remember those either. Like the time you decided to get into my vanity and splatter-paint our bathroom floor with seven different colors of nail polish. Oh yeah...flourescent pink, orange and green; midnight blue with sparkles, red, purple and of course...shocking pink. You were playing so quietly in your room while I was doing dishes after our day out together. I remember Lucas walking down the stairs and telling me that I "had to come upstairs"  I was surprised to smell nail polish in the middle of the staircase. I was shocked to see that it looked like someone took enormous amounts of paint and went all Vincent VanGogh all over the floor.

Ellie Van Gogh's Artwork

I should’ve laughed and grabbed a camera for one unforgettable picture (actually...I took a picture with my phone, but not until HOURS later), but instead I was frustrated and ticked-off. It was such a huge mess and I'm pretty sure that I was high from the toxic fumes of nail polish remover for three days. Truly, that was not one of my finer moments in parenting: scrubbing dried nail polish off of a linoleum floor with nail polish remover while you cried your eyes out. I’ve found comfort in thinking and hoping that maybe you’ll never remember that moment.

But now you’re four, and you’re bound to remember things. After all, I remember a lot of things when I was four: I remember climbing up onto a mantle and jumping off of it - landing on a brick, breaking my toe.

I remember my Dad decorating the best Wilton cakes for our birthdays. It was incredible to watch him transform those cakes into works of art. To this day, it is one of my best memories. Hands down.

I remember riding Mr. Banana-Man on the sidewalk in front of our condo with Uncle Kyle. Actually...I think that he was riding Mr. Banana-Man and I was pushing him with all of my might - praying that he didn't fall off and get hurt.

I remember curling up in my Mom's lap - just so that I could be near her. I always thought that I would remember the way her heartbeat sounded and the way that she smelled. While I can't remember those things, I do remember what it felt like to be wrapped up in her arms and to feel her unconditional love. 

Which makes me think, Ellie, that you’re about to do the same. At four years old, you’re going to remember some of these memories that we’re making right now – you’ll be able to recall details, like what you were wearing when you took a fall, or if your dad helped you pick out your birthday pan or if I responded in a way that made you feel loved and cared for.

Of course, there are memories that you and I have shared that are already impacting your world view, and they will continue to do so for the rest of your life, but it is unlikely that you’ll be able to recall the tiny details of those memories. Instead, like small candles, they cast a glow over your view of self and the world.

I hope I’ve been a good steward of your heart, so far, little dove. I hope I’ve lit good candles in your life. It’s my prayer. I breathe it out with a sigh every time I see you sleeping soundly in your bed (or Lucas'). The remnants of the tiny cherub-baby I held in my arms for the first time when I gave birth to you, me - overcome with love and crying uncontrollably till someone asked me if I was okay. That baby is still there in my arms. I see her in the corners of your mouth, in the tips of your fingers, in the way your arms fold around your face when you sleep.

The other night, when I was pondering all of this: the memories I’m leaving on the hearts of my children, I was absent mindedly getting Lucas ready for his shower. I was thinking about this coming of age that you’re in and how much I hope to do you both right. Exactly as I was thinking those thoughts, Lucas wrapped his arms around me, put his hand over my heart and said, “I know. I know.”

I gasped audibly and looked at him like a ghost had just spoken. How did he know?

Leave it to your spirited big brother to speak to me like a prophet about my own mothering.

Someday, when you’re a mother, you’ll know this to be true: the child is the prophet and the mother is the disciple.

I promise you, it is true.

But you’re not a mother just yet. At four years old, you’re in the cradle of childhood. I hope that you enjoy it all. I hope that I can help you gather up each carefree lesson of the day, and that you’ll enjoy the innocent happiness of your youth. I hope that I will help fill your years with insightful and beautiful memories.

I pray that I’m a good steward of your love, of your childhood, of your innocence. I pray this for you, I pray this for myself, on your fourth birthday, my sweet and dearest Ellie Bean.

With all the love a heart can hold,

Friday, March 8, 2013

Finding my groove...he was wearing orange

My emotions have been on a roller coaster today. I've been frustrated, down-right pissed, humbled and loved. And that was all within an hour!
My morning started off busy as usual - fifteen projects to complete without enough money, time and resources. And that's at my 7:30 - 4:30 big girl job.
Unfortunately, I was sent over the edge by a company that I did some freelance work for. I designed a marketing piece and created a branding standards manual, submitted the files and have heard crickets from the company. No response, no "I hate your work", no payment...nothing. Zilch. Nada. Zip. 
Um....ain't nobody got time to work for free! Pay me.
Anyway. I decided that I was going to go for a run to work off some of my frustration.
I headed over to the Huber Heights YMCA and hit the track.
While I was warming-up, I noticed a group from Montgomery County MRDD start walking on the track also. The coordinator that was with them made sure to keep everyone in a single file and along the railing.
During the middle of my run, I still hadn't found my groove. I was struggling, out of breath and thought that I was going to die. As I ran past the group, the gentleman at the front of the line gave me a thumbs up and the biggest smile ever - like I was winning an important race.
It was at this particular moment that I found my groove - he was on the track wearing a flourescent orange shirt and smiling at me.
I couldn't help but reach out and hold his hand - even if it was only for a brief second. I wanted him to know that his act of kindness didn't go unnoticed.
I'm not sure what his name is or what part of town he is from, but I want it to be known that he made a difference in my life.
In today's world, we use the word "retarded" so flippantly. Do you think that those individuals that use it actually know it's true meaning and definition?
To let it be known...I DESPISE that word. It's offensive when using it to describe someone or a situation. It makes you look ignorant when you use that word, so please...stop.
Each person has his or her own unique abilities. That's what make us all different, beautiful and quite frankly...US.
The man out on the track today didn't see differences between me and him. He saw an opportunity to show me compassion and seized it. Little did he know that I needed it at that exact moment.
You never know what struggles other people are facing, what battles they are enduring or what's going on in their life. Fortunately, LOVE is a universal language that we all speak and can understand.
So...thank you. Thank you for showing me love and compassion today when I wasn't able to give it to myself. Thank you for showing me that the way to inspire can be as simple as a thumbs up and a smile. And thank you...for allowing me to share your gift to the world.
When I grow up, I hope that I am able to touch the lives and hearts of those around me like you did to me today.
So...until we meet again on the track, this is adieu. xoxo

Monday, March 4, 2013

Beans, beans good for the heart...and chocolate chip muffins!

Yesterday, I hosted a 31 Gifts party. My girlfriend decided to sign up as a rep and sent me a text asking if I would host a party for her. Umm....OKAY!!!! I heart 31 bags - they are so practical and useful. And because this is my blog and I can do whatever I want, I'm totally going to shameless plug my party. lol. If you would like to place an order, here is the link:


I decided to make all of my guests test pilots for a new recipe that I wanted to try. (Don't worry...they thanked me later)

A few weeks ago I had a Vegan Mini Chocolate Chip Muffin that was to die for! It was made from garbanzo beans! I know...I couldn't believe it either. It just melted in my mouth and tasted like gooey cookie dough.

So...I decided that I wanted to make them. Fortunately, everybody loved  them! Thank could have been awkward if people were getting sick and spitting them out into my trash can.

The recipe came from Veg News ( Just in case you don't want to head over to their site, the recipe is below:

WW Points +
3 per mini muffin


1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons applesauce
1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease mini-muffin pan or cookie sheet. In a food processor, process oats, garbanzo beans, applesauce, vegetable oil, vanilla, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and brown sugar until completely smooth.

2. In a medium bowl, combine batter and chocolate chips. Into mini-muffin pan, scoop dough. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from muffin pan.

Makes 24 mini-muffins

Now...just in case you are like me (a complete visual), here are a few pictures of my process. And's okay to drool.

I don't have a food processor, so I used my blender 

The processed dough and chocolate chips 

Waiting for the oven to preheat. I really should follow the directions. 

Ta-da! Finished muffins! should make yourself some. They are delicious in your mouth.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Star Wars Cookies

Truth be told, I cannot wait for this weekend to be over! Not gonna lie...I'm a little Star Wars'd out.

On Wednesday, my mom, Ellie and I made buttercrisp cut-out cookies. I have to admit...they were pretty BA. We used my Grandma Gert's recipe, rolled out the dough and cut out almost six dozen Storm Troopers, Yodas, Darth Vaders and Boba Fetts.


Even though they are super adorable as is...I couldn't leave them unfrosted.

So...last night I put myself through sheer torture.

I whipped up a batch of royal icing, divided all of the icing up into six different air tight containers, tinted the icing, and began my five hour adventure.

Oh...that's right. It took me five hours to frost those buggars. was all a labor of love for the birthday boy.

I have to admit. I'm pretty bad ass. I mean...the cookies turned out pretty amazeballs. Don't ya think?


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Double Dees Bakery...Pun Intended

January is the month of not-so-little-anymore prince.
He recently turned the big seven on January 13th. I know...I say the same thing! I'm not old enough to have a seven year old! And oh...aren't you sweet, but I already know that I don't look 35!
Anyway. Enough about how young and adorable I am. Back to Lucas.
Like any seven year old his age, he is obsessed with Star Wars.
So when it came time to ask him what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, it was a no-brainer - R2-D2. Everyone's favorite and lovable Droid.
You see, I make Wilton cakes for birthdays. It's a tradition that my Dad started when my brother and I were little. He would spend hours upon hours picking the perfect pan, baking the cakes (my Mom actually did that part), and decorating them to perfection with what seemed to be millions of tiny stars.
It's a tradition that I fell in love with and was eager to pass on to my kiddos. It's a special moment to have your child pick out their own pan, make an amazing cake and give a piece of art and yourself to your child for his/her special day.
Unfortunately, Wilton stopped making the R2-D2 cake pan in 1980. It's now selling on eBay for a small fortune. sister-in-law and I decided that we could make our own 3-D, R2-D2 cake...and ROCK it!
I made four double-chocolate fudge cakes in two 6x3 Wilton pans during the week. After the cakes cooled, I wrapped them in saran wrap and stuck them in the freezer.
I also used Wilton's ball cake pan in order to make the top of R2-D2's head. So...all in all, there were five cakes that were made.
Meredith (SIL) came over on the Saturday before the family party and we got to work - making three different types of buttercream icing, construcing a stable design to stack the cakes on, and making rice krispie treats for his legs.
And by the way...we are both messy bakers. This is what my kitchen looked like as we started this adventure.

This is the rest of the process....


And after five and a half grueling hours....R2-D2 was complete.

 Lucas and Aunt Meredith

 Lucas and Me!

And finally...Double Dees Bakery!
So there you have it...our first 3-D cake that was a complete work of art that we could share with the birthday boy.
Happy birthday sweetie boy! Love you to the moon and back!
P.S. Still wondering about our bakery name? My maiden name is Dees and Meredith married my brother - so, she's the new Dees. Get it? Double Dees Bakery?! Buahahahaha!  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Oh...can it!

Within the past few years, I've had a small obsession with canning.

I remember my Grandma Bea canning everything from her garden - green beans, pickles, and the like. The ball jars lined an earthy ledge in her cellar. As a matter of fact, I would be willing to be that she still has green beans from 1982!

Unfortunately, I am not gifted when it comes to the world of food. I know, I know. You totally wouldn't know that by looking at me. lol

I have a tendency to burn water, turn homemade yellow cake into cornbread and generally screw up anything that I try to cook or bake.

However, Justin got me an amazing gift for Christmas - one that I had put on my list a few years prior but never received. (Probably because he knows that I would mess everything up. Good thinking on his part)

I received a Ball canning set for beginners, a collapsable funnel and a jar gripper (to pull the hot jars out of the boiling water).

Now...this may not sound exciting, but I was all sorts of giddy! There are so many things that I can make and preserve!

So...I put my abilities to the test last night - I made homemade no added sugar apple butter and preserved it!

To be completely transparent, I made it for my mom for her birthday (which is on Friday). The girl that has everything is receiving homemade apple butter and freshly baked bread (by me, of course!) for her big day! I mean really...who doesn't love delicious food?!

And just in case you want the how to's of this delicious recipe, they are listed here.


Monday, January 14, 2013

A letter to my sweetie boy for his birthday: Seven is a big deal!

My Dearest Lucas,

Yesterday was your birthday. The big seven! I won't scar you with too many details of our first meeting, but I can tell you that even though it was a rough beginning for both of us (your dad, Eema and the medical staff too), it still melts my heart thinking about you and hearing your "cry" for the first time.

You have brought me nothing but pure joy since that very first moment. Watching you grow, absorbing the world around you, inquisitive and delighted to learn, I’m reminded each day of the treasure you bring into my world.

As all mothers do, I have goals, dreams and wishes for you. I have, as you can imagine, dozens of them, but on this seventh anniversary of  our first moment together, I will limit myself to the seven that I wish for most.
 I wish for the kind heart I see you in now to stay firmly in place.  Keep it, nurture it, handle it with care.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are too sensitive. You are the first to hold your sister’s hand when she is scared, the first to run for the ice pack when someone is hurt, the first to tell me that you love me when you see that I am upset.  The best part of my day is the joy infused by your smile, your hugs, the tender way you put your hand on my face or suddenly say, “Mommy, how was YOUR day?”  I couldn’t live without your affection and kindness.

Don’t ever apologize for who you are, for what you want, for how hard you have worked or where you are going in life. I don’t doubt you will work hard, but I can already see signs that you are quick to apologize, to back down. Don’t. You have learned this from me and I wish I could take it back.  Stand your ground, be proud of you.  Do not live to make others happy or to measure up to someone else’s expectations.  Be Lucas.  This is enough.

Be a student.  Be a teacher.  Learn at every opportunity.  Read. Be inquisitive. Ask. And when you know something and know it well – teach others.  Do not hoard your knowledge, your gifts – share them.  There is inherent beauty in being both student and teacher.  It is a gift to learn and a privilege to teach. After all, you teach me something new every day.

I wish you wins and losses, trophies and empty shelves.  As much as I would love to see you succeed in everything you do… as much as I believe in your gifts, I must wish you challenges.  For it is within the losses, the 3rd, 4th and 5th places, and the failures that your character will be built. It is my job, as your mom, to do my best to guide you through these moments. If everything was to be easy for you, you would be ill-prepared for the ‘real’ world.  I promise you, life is not always easy.

Your dreams: do them.  Your heart: follow it.  Your family: treasure them. Your friends: be loyal to them. Your fears: embrace them and allow them to make you stronger.  The money you earn: respect it. Your passion: LIVE IT.

Seek joy.  Every single day, find something that makes you happy and do it.  Be it big or small – an act of kindness, listening to a song you love, calling a friend, watching the Browns with your dad  - it quite simply doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you spend a portion of each day smiling and laughing. You have such a beautiful smile and a belly laugh that I love to hear. And for the record, even when you think that I'm not watching or listening, I am. Those moments bring joy to my heart, tears to my eyes, and a smile to my face. Thank you.

And my ‘one to grow on’ - I wish to be here for each of your moments…. to keep you on track.

Lucas, you are what bliss looks like in a little boy.  You are dirty and messy, you snuggle and love me. I melt when you say, “I haven’t had my hugs and kisses yet today, Mommy” or "Huggie!" I adore that you need to be all sprawled out in your bed at night in order to sleep. I love it that you still sleep with Bear, Snoodle, and Smokey.  I will never forget your need for a story before bed, how you still love to snuggle with me and how a good dance-a-thon can bring out the sillies in all of us.

And nothing gets to me more than hearing you say, “I love you, Mommy”. Thank you, my sweetie boy – for picking me to be your mommy. There is nothing better in this world.

I will always love you, my buddy.