Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fun at the Pumpkin Patch with our two little Pumpkins

Today was a picture perfect day to visit a pumpkin patch.
We went to Wahlvogel's near Beaver Dam.  It was a new pumpkin patch to us and it was a great, fun filled place.
Courtney and the girls met us there and the fun began.
 Of course, there were lots of head cut outs for photo opps.
 There were the mandatory goats to feed.
Soli was so cute as she approached the goats and would wave and say "Hi" to them.
Here Tiz is either showing her how to feed the goats or she is actually feeding the goat her sister's hand.
 Soli absolutely adores her grandpa and she loves to spend time with him.
 Here are John and I living the American dream.  I like how my head fits perfectly into the hole, but John claims he couldn't fit his head in there.
 There was mini golf.  Here is Tiz posing after her legitimate hole in one.  When we were on a vacation with Mallory and Kev many years ago, we played lots of mini golf and anytime anyone of us got a hole in one, we had to pose like this.  The tradition continues.
 We enjoyed a moment watching the geese in the pond.
 Here we were involved in an intense duck race.  This was a unique, fun activity.

 There were these bouncy horses that you could ride and race on.  I did see other adults on them or I would not have attempted this for fear they would have popped.
 Tiz is clearly in the lead on this race.
 There were big bikes to ride around a track.  Both girls enjoyed doing this.

 We all enjoyed a train ride.
 Tiz, John, and I went into the corn maze and almost did not get out.  Tiz was our leader and she would keep telling us, "I think we are lost," and then she would laugh.
It was lots of fun and we did not have to call 911 to come get us out.
 On the hayride out to the pumpkin patch.
I love how Tiz and Courtney both tilt their heads the same way.
 Tiz picked out this huge pumpkin-40 lbs.  Here grandpa carries it for her while she carries his camera bag.
 Here we are with our two little pumpkins.
After our fun time at the pumpkin patch, we went to Culver's for an ice cream treat.
Soli and Grandpa had so much fun with a few napkins.  They are both easily entertained.
We are now home watching the Badgers and resting.
These big days wear a grandparent out!
I have a favor to ask of anyone reading my blog.
I am having trouble with the comments.
I made a few changes and I am asking that you leave me a message just so I know if things are working better.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Painting project

We are really hoping to be able to redo our kitchen.
Laurie Peirick (former kindergarten student of mine and kitchen designer extraordinaire) has been over, drawn up plans which we love, and has given us estimates for the work.  We will proceed with that project if and when we get some money from the sale of John's folks' condo.
I am getting antsy to do something and until we find out about the remodeling, we are very limited to what we can do. 
I would love new flooring  and carpeting, but our remodel involves quite a bit of construction so we can't redo floors yet.
I did decide a little paint would do us well, so I hired a great painter who works for beer, food, and cigars.
Courtney and Mallory both helped me pick out the colors and I am loving them.
Not sure if I blogged this or not, but we did switch the dining room and living room around awhile back to see how we liked it, since that is ultimately one of the goals in the remodel.  Happy to report we like the change.
Anyway my painter husband started his work on Saturday morning.
This is the color when we first saw it.
It was love at first sight.
 My intention was to do just the one wall in this ginger color, but I liked it so much we went ahead and did another wall.
Eventually, if all goes as planned that second ginger wall will come down, but for now it looks good.
 The other walls were painted a sandy color.
 I used the sandy color to paint the, shall we say, very dated and rather ugly bricks in the kitchen.  This is the painted bricks above the stove.
Of course, this would all go, too, but I just wanted to lighten it up.
 Here you can see the dark bricks and compare them to the new sandy wall on the right.
Those bricks were hard to paint, so uneven, but I managed to get it done.
 This is the dining room before I got it all decorated.

 These are our Ethiopian treasures which were the inspiration for the ginger color.
Courtney and Paul brought us the wall hanging, the basket, the cross, one of the pictures and the scarf.  I purchased the Ethiopian prints on the wall, the giraffes were a gift from a favorite family at St. John's. 
I also have a memory angel for Natnael and pictures of my three precious Ethiopian grandchildren.
At any rate, it was the ginger color that made me want to choose paint in that color.
 The dining room table all decorated.

 This was the inspiration for the sandy color.
This print was a gift from Courtney and Paul for all we did to help with their wedding on St. George Island, Florida.
I love the print because it reminds me of that wonderful place where we have made so many memories.
And here is a shot from the living room which used to be the dining room into the dining room which used to be the living room.
I really am happy with the way it all turned out.
It is amazing how something as simple as paint can change the way a room looks.  I don't even mind the carpet as much anymore, well, for now anyway.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Soliana comes for a visit

 I did not have school on Friday.
Courtey and Soliana came out to spend the day.
It was a great day.
 Gigi pushed Soli around in the doll stroller while she ate oyster crackers out of this big container.
 She was not about to let that container get away from her.
 We went shopping and had lunch at Steakfire, then it was time for more playing.
Here she is playing with Courtney's Sesame Street playhouse.  It was the gift we gave Courtney for her first Christmas.
 Soli had fun pushing Tizita's little cart around.

 Here she is feeding the Teddy Bear.

This sums up the fun day we had today!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Presenting the Barbie Cake

As you know, from the previous post, each Tiziversary has had a different theme.
The first one I chose because Tizita loved everything about Curious George.  The cute cake was baked by Walmart.
For the second Tiziversary I chose a panda theme because Tiz had visited the National Zoo in Washington D.C. and loved the pandas.  That cake, too, was baked by Walmart.
Tiz chose princessess for her third Tiziversary because what little girl doesn't love princesses at some point.  I baked the cupcakes and displayed them on a princess tiered plate I bought at, are you ready, Walmart.
So, this year, we took her to the Party Store to choose her theme.
She chose Barbie.
I remembered a Barbie cake where a real doll was in the center of a cake skirt.
I thought it was a bundt pan.
I put out a plea on facebook for a bundt pan.
So many people came to my aid with offers of bundt pans, but a few mentioned the pampered chef batter bowl which apparently is just the right size for the skirt.
I was offered a few of those bowls, too, so I took a friend up on the offer and prepared to make the cake.
I wanted to use a black Barbie, so I asked John to stop at West Towne to look for a black Barbie.  I knew we would not have any black dolls in our stores.
He brought home a rather polynesian looking Barbie with straight black hair.  While she did have brownish skin, she certainly was no Ethiopian.  In looking for black Barbies, I have found they do not make them with authentic hair and eyes.  The closest one I ever found was at the Packer Pro shop, her hair was curly and her skin was a deep brown.  Anyway, I figured the Polynesian one would have to do.
(Packer Barbie is up in Oshkosh)
I chose a cherry chip cake, only bought one box since it seemed that was all the online recipe called for.  I also chose numerous tubes of frosting in various shades of pink, plus two cans of white frosting and some of that new flavoring you can add to canned frosting.  I chose a cherry vanilla.
I also chose some pretty pink sparkly sprinkles, white pearl candies, and white and pink heart candies.
I came home on Friday afternoon all ready to begin my project.
I baked the cherry chip cake and soon realized that the Barbie was much too tall for just that cake, so I called John and asked him to stop and buy one more cherry chip cake mix on his way home.  I decided I would bake it in a round pan and use it under the skirt.
He called, after checking two stores and not being able to find any cherry chip.  I told him to just get vanilla and hurry home.  I did not want to be decorating at midnight and I could not do anything until I baked that bottom layer.
I was worried about the cake coming out of the pampered chef bowl.  I do not have the best luck with getting cakes out of pans, but my worry was for naught.  The cake just slid right out.
I placed it on top of the layer cake which did not have sufficient time to cool, but I was impatient.

I had already gotten the frosting all ready.  The tips were attached, the flavoring was in the white frosting, and I had made two batches of my own buttercream with almond just in case we needed more.
Polynesian Barbie was prepared.  I frosted a pretty top on her and wrapped her from the waist down in plastic wrap.
I was so excited to stick her in the cake skirt.
I pushed her down and
much to my dismay, she was just too tall.
The skirt was hitting her below the butt even with the extra bottom layer.
I had to think fast.  I tried to frost a bit more skirt on her, but there just was nothing for it to stick to, so I went to our box of Barbies and selected one with light brown skin and black hair.  I broke both her legs off and stuck her in the hole.
The hole was now too deep for a legless Barbie.  I couldn't figure out what to do.  I tried to fill that hole with lots of frosting, even tried to fill it with some left over cake from the other round layer.
Now the skirt is hitting her on the boobs and she is slowly sinking into the hole.
I pulled her out and continued my Barbie search.
I found a gymnast Barbie with movable knees.
I amputated just below the knees and she was the perfect height for the skirt.
She was white as white can be, her hair was blonde and very messy, but she would have to do.

I put yet another frosting top on her to cover her boobs.  Mind you, this is the third Barbie top I have put on three different Barbie dolls already!
I started frosting the skirt and it was actually pretty easy.
I always get carried away during cake decorating, I have never learned the lesson that less is more.
I did finally stop with the decorater frosting and candies and called it a night.
The Barbie table was set and ready for the party.
And the look on Tizita's face made it all worth it!
She loved the doll cake and didn't care one lick that it was a blonde, white Barbie.
Tizita cut the cake herself and did a wonderful job.
I didn't hold out much hope for the taste of the cake, but it was really very good.
That cherry chip cake was very moist and sweet.
So to sum it up,
Cost of cake mixes and frostings  -  $15.00
Cost of Barbie dolls  -  $10.00
Cost of candies and sugar to decorate  -  $8.00
The look on Tizita's face when she first saw the cake  -  priceless!
As for me, I am not giving up my day job anytime soon! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Happy Tiziversaries over the years!

Just wanted to give you a look back at our past Tiziversaries.
First Tiziversary 2009.
Curious George theme.

First Tiziversary dress.

Second Tiziversary, 2010.
Dessert at Lissa's after our Ethiopian Cottage meal.
Our theme was pandas.

Ethiopian Cottage 2010.
Third Tiziversary, 2011 at the Ethiopian Cottage.

More Tiziversary 2011, theme was princesses.
At the Ethiopian Cottage, 2012.
Theme was Barbie, topped off with this beautiful cake baked by grandma!
I am so blessed and thankful that we get to celebrate these Tiziversaries.
Such a wonderful way to remember and celebrate our first meeting with Tizita.
One of my friends said, "These two little girls were the children that were meant for Courtney and Paul.  God had them chosen for each other long before any of this entered our minds."
It was quite a journey to get these girls home, but every part of the journey had to be traveled including losing sweet Natnael.  Without every bump in the road, this part of the journey would not have ended with these two little girls being together in our family.
We look forward to celebrating many, many more Tiziversaries and adding Soliversaries into our holidays, too.
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