Saturday, March 31, 2012

{Back Yard} Cactus to Veggie Garden

Hubs has been busy over his Spring Break. Maybe some day we'll have the same week (or a few days as I work for a district that doesn't take a full week off) off and can go away for a vacation. Anywho... he was busy. This doesn't show the current state - everything is gone except the big pot of prickly pear cactus. That thing's a big beast and a pain in the butt to move. Well, hand... those things are sharp! The water "feature" (ha!) has been removed and all the rock has been relocated to other beds. We are now ready for the ground to be tilled and planted with veggies! Let's hope the future veggie garden is more productive and longer lasting than the cactus garden. 
PROGRESS!
A walk down memory lane will show us what it looked like in 2008. A year after we moved into the house (how has it been 5 years!?!), we pulled out all of the fence except the fence post that's in concrete. Everything in the ground are plants that will survive our winters and everything that was potted had to be wintered over in our house (except the prickly pear cactus in the big planter in the back - see above). It worked well until all the plants died. Did you know that cacti can rot even when you don't water them very much? It was nasty. The plant in center left (the tall guy) was gross. The arms all rotted off and then the center piece fell over after it rotted from the inside out. GROSS! 
BEFORE

Detail shot of the prickly pear. Man has it grown in the last 6 years! This was actually the only thing in the whole garden and we ripped up most of it (it's super aggresive) and planted some pieces in the pot to help control the chaos.
The TRUE BEfore... Rotting, nasty fence and super overgrown prickly pear.

{Life Lately} Summer Vacation

Is it weird to look forward to summer vacation because I'm eager to finish projects around my house? A few months off work is great too... but I really want to get things done around here!

By May 18th (last day of work), I will *hopefully* (one more class to finish) graduate with my master's degree. I'm working on the last big project and I'm ready to be done!

I have a week of "freedom" (aka Lily's at daycare) before her THIRD birthday party to finish up some loose ends.... mainly four things....

Buy new cushions for our patio furniture after Krypto tore up everything.


Paint front door. Must. Do. This. ASAP.

Find and purchase 95" white sheer curtains. You'd think this would be easy, yet everyone is sold out of the type I want (see these at Target.. they'd be perfect but are too short!)

CLEAN!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

{Food} Baby Shower Cake

Cutting off the top of the cake. I purposely overfilled my pans to make sure I had enough! You hate to have short cakes!!

All nice and even now! It's ready to be stacked.

Think I need a bigger mixer?!? It's a good thing I was only doing a 12" round and a 6" square! I did have plenty of left overs for cupcakes too, but this definitely wouldn't be enough to do much more.

Layered 12" cake for the bottom on a nice silver board.

Crumb coat. Take some of the cut off tops and mix with some frosting. This helps the cake be nice and smooth for the frosting layer.

Delicious buttercream going on. I could have left it at that and smoothed it out, but I wanted to go one step further.

Rolled fondant. It's definitely worth a try if you've never had it... but I do roll mine out really flat (like no thicker than 1/4") and it's placed on top fo the buttercream - something that seemed to surprise many people.

All smooth now.

Added decoration. Baby blue rolled fondant cut in strips (see below).

Strips. This is the time when you need a pasta roller or a pizza cutter so that all strips can be the same width. I eyeballed mine and did a decent job.


The final cake. It's so cute!
A little elephant (his nose had some issues...). I loved how I was able to get the blue icing to match the blue fondant without much trouble.

What was left over of the 12" layer cake. She took the 6" square to work the next day and we all ate some at lunch again.
So there's the cake I made... I'll post the recipes later. The chocolate one is from Kevin and Amanda (delicious! I did use mini chocolate chips instead of regular, but that's the only difference) and I forgot where the white cake recipe cake from but I'll find it on my other computer and put it on here. It's definitely a recipe to try again for another party... they were both delicious! The buttercream came from Kevin and Amanda too but I do still want to find my own. This one is really good but just not as good as I've had previously (like with my previous job... that was to die for!).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

{Yard} Progress

Imagine a giant, ugly, "what is this type of bush" bush in the hole. I'll find a before pic some day this week but I need to get off the computer and go to bed before another busy week...

Anyway, Doug did an awesome job of finally attacking the giant bush. We tried a year or two ago with no luck but he won this time. It took him chopping the root ball into two and then going after each half separately. This whole is seriously like 5 feet wide and about 12-18 inches deep. Giant. It's the start of the front of Lily's flower garden and will hopefully be surrounded by a nice arbor (we saw one today I really want!) and then the start of a path. Can't wait!!!!

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