have a great weekend…

IMG_2257things are just as busy as ever here at the house of mayhem and chaos!  last weekend we went to portland to the oregon museum of science and industry and then to hood river.  we had a blast!  IMG_2280 IMG_2296i have work tonight and tomorrow night but on sunday, i am hosting a little gathering for my best friend’s 3rd annual 29th birthday (see what she did there?)  i’m looking forward to friends and food and kids running around!   then, on monday, christopher and i are thinking of taking the boys to see the new minion movie.  it should be a fun, action-packed weekend with a little relaxing mixed in. IMG_2331

i hope you have plans for a fantastic weekend!

around the house…

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you may have been wondering what the hell happened at the house of mayhem and chaos because i’ve been quiet for so long.

well, a lot, to put it simply.

i took a very last-minute trip to phoenix to see my family after some “family stuff” was happening (everyone is ok, so not to worry), the boys got glasses, finished preschool and we got them all registered for homeschool kindergarten. and, well, it’s just summer and that means our calendar is super full.

i’m trying to not overdo our schedule, but there are so many people to see and things to do!  i’m also trying to not spend as much time online (it’s a working goal, anyway) and focus on just “being” with the boys.  we have lots of fun things planned for the summer: t-ball, swimming, playdates, tending our garden, working on reading and math, camping trips and some museum visits.  ok, i’m already tired just writing out this list!

but, things are going really well.  the boys are getting so big and will be five next month (FIVE!!!!) and they have requested an epic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles party, so i have that to work on look forward to.  so, that’s what we’ve been up to.  please stick with me, i’m trying to get better at creating writing goals for myself with this blog and i have a lot of fun posts i want to share with you.  like i said, working goals.

cheers!

e

cake of the mondays: strawberry lemonade cupcakes

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yesterday was gloomy and today isn’t much better.  only little bits of blue sky peeking out from behind some seriously grey clouds.  and, the boys are cranky.  so, what could be better for a house with a Case of the Mondays (that continued into tuesday) than another Cake of the Mondays?

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christopher and i had gotten a giant box of strawberries from costco last week and some weren’t looking so great anymore and i needed to do something with them before i had to toss them out.  so, i cut up about two cups of strawberries, added a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of lemon juice and smashed them up with my potato masher.  then i mixed up a quick batch of Bisquick® Velvet Crumb Cake.

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this is my favorite easy cake recipe.  i use it as the base for my strawberry shortcake, raisin cupcakes and just about any other simple white cake i need.  it’s a little heavier than a normal cake but not quite like a pound cake.  i also never have made the coconut topping in the original recipe.  i always just make the cake part!  and just in case you are wondering, this is not a sponsored post.  i just really like this recipe and i use Bisquick® pretty often from pancakes to muffins.

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i lined two cupcake tins with papers (i got 21 cupcakes out of this recipe, but you could fill the cups with more batter and get about 16 cupcakes) and preheated the oven to 350°.  i zested one lemon and juiced it.  i used 1/2 cup of lemon juice in place of the water/milk in the recipe because i wanted a nice, zippy lemon flavor.

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then i mixed all the ingredients together.  it is kind of lumpy and a little thick, so don’t worry.  then i took about 1 1/2 cups of the strawberry mash (reserve 1/2 cup for the frosting) and gently folded it into the batter.  this makes the batter way thinner than the recipe usually is, but that’s ok.  also, because of the lemon juice, your cakes won’t rise as much.  i didn’t care about this and sometimes, i like a denser (is that a word?) cake anyway.

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i used our good ol’ ice cream scooper to measure out batter into each cupcake liner.  bake for 15 minutes on two shelves in the middle of the oven and then rotate the tins.  bake for another 15 minutes.  baking times can vary and because this recipe is a little runnier with the strawberries in it, you may need to bake a bit longer.  i needed to let mine bake for an extra 10 minutes.

once the cupcakes are done baking (when a toothpick comes out clean,) cool on a cooling rack, completely.  i had a hard time figuring out what to frost these with, but finally decided on a simple strawberry whipped cream frosting.  whip up 1 cup heavy cream, 4 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  when the cream is stiff and whipped, gently fold in the remainder of your strawberry mash and the lemon zest.  use an offset spatula or piping bag to frost the cupcakes.  store in the fridge until ready to eat.

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i love the big chunks of strawberry and lemon zest in the frosting!  the boys gave them two very enthusiastic thumbs up and they were a nice treat for an icky day.

such a great way to turn around a monday!

cheers,

e

around the house…

i know i said i’d be back with some new posts, and i am, but it just took longer than i thought.  we’ve been really busy around the house and i just haven’t made the time to blog as much as i thought i would.  i’m also trying to stay off my computer a little more because i am actively trying to be more “in the moment” with the boys.

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a few weeks ago i was able to take a never-before whirlwind trip with my three best girls to portland to go to ikea.  harry had broken his bed and i wanted to get the boys new twin beds.  i made sure they were in stock before we made the four hour trip.  we made a day of it and stopped at pFriem Family Brewers in hood river on the way.  once we got to ikea, of course they didn’t have the beds i needed!  i am not gonna lie: i was pissed!  but, i changed my outlook and just enjoyed the day with my girls.  even though i didn’t get a bed, i did get the much-needed light fixtures for my kitchen, and for the first time ever, i didn’t spend a ton of money at ikea!  we had lunch at Miss Delta in the mississippi district (which is just the coolest neighborhood, aside from my own) and, as always, it was incredible.

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christopher and i have been doing some spring cleaning and improvements around the house lately too.  we found a great leather couch at goodwill–my karmic reward for not getting the bed i wanted at ikea–and our good friend found us the perfect bed at the Habitat for Humanity store in town!  now i just need another similar twin bed and the boys’ room is almost done.  i built a console for the living room to store our vinyl records (see picture at the top); we had our first-ever garage sale, and got rid of a lot of stuff that was cluttering up the garage; and i also totally refinished our front porch, which badly needed a new coat of paint and/or a complete new surface replacement.  i chose to go the refinishing route and used the Olympic Rescue It paint/resurfacer from Lowes (this is not a sponsored post–i wish–but i just liked the way this product worked and wanted to give a shout-out.)  now my porch looks awesome!

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you can see how it filled in the cracks in the wood!

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we still have a lot to do as the weather continues to warm up: planting the vegetable garden, re-seeding the lawn, adding a small patio extension in the backyard and getting our compost bins going.  whew, that seems like a lot!  oh, and we decided that we will homeschool the boys for kindergarten, so i have curriculum to research, classes to choose for them and all the planning that goes into this new endeavor.

i have some fun things in store for the blog too: a tutorial on re-covering a midcentury chair, some home decor styling tips, a peek at the boys’ room decor (when i get it done) and i’m going to start doing some room tours through the house!

hope you have a happy monday!

cheers,

e

back with a fresh start…

i decided to take a break from the blog for the month of january because we had a lot of family stuff that needed my full attention and i needed a little bit to recharge my batteries after a very hectic holiday season.

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but, i’m back with a fresh start for the year.  i  began by moving some things in my house around (of course!) and instead of resolutions, which i never keep, i made a list of intentions for the year.  just some things i want to focus on.  already i’m seeing a difference with the boys.  i am trying to speak with kindness and a calmness in my voice when i address the boys.  so far, they are doing really well in response.

they are back in preschool after winter break and i am gearing up to do some observation at the school(s) where they might attend kindergarten this year!  we need to decide if we want to waiver them to a different district (if we even can) and whether or not we want them in the same class.  honestly, the idea of them in school full-time is really bumming me out so i’m looking into half day kindergartens.  i don’t like the thought that they will be in a classroom setting for 6+ hours a day.  harry will do fine, but i’m worried that jack won’t be able to sit still for that long and will get in trouble and burned out on school.  i’m sure these are the things all parents think about, so i guess it’s my turn!

anyway, thank you for sticking with me and this little blog.  i’ve got some fun things planned for this year, so stay tuned.

cheers!

e

that maddening season…

do you ever think “if i can just make it though these next few weeks, things will slow down and get back to normal?”  i do, but now i am starting to think that there is no such thing as slowing down and going back to “normal.”  fall is here and that means that halloween, thanksgiving and christmas/new year are just around the corner.  this is the maddening season:  obligations, parties, gifts, crafts, buying, cooking, going, doing…

i am trying to prioritize some “me time” in my days, which just really means that i struggle with feeling lazy when i decide to get a cup of coffee (the most incredibly large cup of coffee-cue mike myers voice, hello!) at my local coffeehouse in between dropping off and picking up the boys from school, because i should be at home cleaning and cooking instead of visiting with my lovely neighborhood barista and reading the newspaper.

but, i’m trying not to be too hard on myself and remember that i can only do what i can do and that i need to make time to enjoy the boys and my home.  i’m learning to say “no” to some obligations and to say “yes” to things that i want to do and to things that will make life easier and more enjoyable for me and my family.

here are some things i’m doing to make this maddening season a little less hectic (starting with that coffee on school days):

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i accomplished one project, in that i think our halloween decorating is done.  bats, tombstones, pumpkins and skulls are all placed strategically around our house and they boys are delighting in the season, which, really, is what it’s all about.  bring on the spooky, i say.  i’ll be leaving all the skulls out after halloween and incorporating them into the regular home decor.  something else i don’t have to put up next year.  i also especially love halloween because all the spiderwebs in my home the rest of the year look like very delicate, handmade-from-etsy, decorations.  yay spiders and yay me for being too lazy short to clean them!

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jack and harry are happy we can still spend some time outside and that it’s not too cold yet.  the little cat loves jack jack and lets him snuggle her and pack her around.  she is so patient.  i’m loving watching this special bond they have and i’m really having a hard time with the fact that we need to find a home for some of the stray cats that have come to live on our porch lately.  maybe some cats will be a part of my holiday “giving.”  watch out, peeps.

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also got my hair cut again.  i’ve come to the realization that i am not good at doing my hair, especially now that it’s gotten much thicker and unwieldy after having the boys.  i went back to my pixie cut and i’m way happier.  i can just run my hands through it on the mornings i have to get the boys to school and i don’t look like the mom who just fell out of bed.  even though, i am the mom who just fell out of bed.  chalk up one for making a good hair decision and doing something for myself that i know would make life a little easier.  it’s not the best picture, but hey, that’s what you get when i take a quick selfie just before i walk in to work.

oh, and a good friend of mine has started selling nail wraps, so i’m jumping on that bandwagon too, because a) no drying time, b) two week wear time, c) i like having my nails done and these are cheaper than going for a manicure and easier than me doing it myself and d) no nail polish smells, which drive my husband batty.  it’s a win-win and i’ll talk about them more when i have given them a good trial run.

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finally, here is a sneak peek of the boys’ halloween costumes.  something i love is crafting, and i was thrilled when they asked for costumes i could make.  harry’s is completely different and i’ll put them both up on the blog when i make some time to take pictures.

how do you deal with the “maddening season?”  i’d love to hear your tips and tricks for making life easier and more enjoyable.

cheers,

e

in the garden…

after a really lame garden experience last year (except for the zucchini!  god, there was so much zucchini!) we have a bumper crop of veg this summer.

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i love spending time in the garden with the boys.  they love eating all the veggies they are growing.  harry is especially proud of the sunflowers.  he planted some last year and the ones we have this year are volunteers.  i love seeing life sustain itself.

how does your garden grow?

cheers,

e