Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chelsea + Levi = Baby Tyler

What can I say? I love taking pictures of Chelsea's cute baby belly. As everyone should know by now, Chelsea and Levi are expecting Tyler Levi very, very soon! Her due date is October 11th. 
From the "My Baby Sister is Going to be a Mommy" post, you might see a little shape of the belly change in the pictures below. These pictures were taken on  July 31, 2010 at my grandparents' farm. 
I had told Chelsea that if she liked her maternity pictures that I took, I could take some of the two of them as well. To say the least, she seemed to be sooo pleased with the first set! 
Since school was fixing to get underway for John and I and Levi's work schedule with being a restaurant manager is crazy busy, we figured we better take the pictures when the timing was right! 
My hope is to take some more once Tyler gets here. I want Chelsea to have as many pictures of this life changing event as possible. :) What can I say... I am trying to be a good 'sissy' as Chelsea used to call me... *sigh* those were the days when life was so much easier.. when our biggest concern was who would ride in the front seat and what we were going to 'pretend' play outside on our fort.
Without further wait... here are some pictures... ENJOY!

These three are my favorite... I love the use of the letters! Thank you, Michaels, For having those clearance bins outside that I am drawn to... Sometimes, there is good stuff in there. ;)

This rocking chair picture was taken outside my grandparents' house. My Nana and Pop used to sit outside and just rock away when the family was over. I took this picture because it made me think of my Pop and how over joyed he would be at the thought of another baby in the family. We miss you, Pop!

This is the infamous 'belly to belly' pic. Levi was THRILLED to take this one! Not!! haha.

We had fun with these bench pictures, I joked and told Chels and Levi these seemed more like engagement pictures than maternity pics! We agreed that was okay, since they didn't get any engagement shots taken. No one said that baby Tyler has to know the difference. ;)

Love, love, love the sky in this one.

Heart + Heart = Baby

Beautiful Oak Tree

This picture was taken in their bedroom with a peek-a-boo from the crib and the teddy bear.

Levi practicing, "No-no, Tyler!"

Love you Chels, and Levi I too!! We can't wait to meet the little boy!

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Darla's Birthday & the Red Velvet Cupcake

The last weekend of July was the last days of summer we had left before school started back. So, I used my 'extra' time to try out a new recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes and pulled out the ole' fondant to make some pretty little cakes for Darla's birthday. For those of you that don't know, Darla is my mother-in-law. Her birthday was on the 31st of July.

Let me just say that I should have known from the amount of ingredients in these little cuppycakes that I was asking for trouble. This recipe took me at least an hour and half to make and bake. A little ridiculous I think. I mean, I am all for some homemade cake, but not when it has 4,305 ingredients and takes FOREVER! Yes, I am telling a bit of a lie about the number of ingredients, but it sure felt like there was tons!
Anyways, very LOOOOONNNNGGGG baking story cut short: The cupcakes turned out looking so cute! But, I didn't feel the taste was that yummy! :( I feel like the baking side was a complete flop. (Sorry Darla, I tried! Next time I will use a recipe that I know I can count on!)

Lessons Learned from this baking catastrophe:

  1. It is ALWAYS a good idea to try your recipe out ahead of time. Even if you don't have a lot of extra time. Who wants to take cupcakes to someone when you know they aren't your best?
  2. It is ALWAYS a good idea to use frosting recipes that you know work for you. This stupid, stupid recipe came a with a cinnamon cooked frosting that literally ended up looking like Elmer's Glue gone bad... So, I ended up having to get up early to make a new frosting that I knew would taste good. I know in my heart I can always count on Martha. Even if she is a lady with a prison record. We all have flaws, right? ;)
  3. When using fondant, don't go extra powdered sugar crazy on your work surface (even if you have a bit of a love affair with it. You would have to read the New Orleans post to understand.) OR it will be some kinda difficult to get those tiny, small, micro balls and flowers dusted off. 
  4. I CANNOT bake when I feel rushed, in a bad mood, or have 1,583 other things on my mind and a teacher's to-do list like one would not believe. I just don't get to enjoy being in my kitchen and having my 'me' time with my rolling pin, cheap hand held mixer, ingredients all over the place, and my 'tackle' box full of decorating stuff. 

All in all, the cupcake were very cute, made with some of Darla's favorite colors. John said they weren't horrible, but they weren't my best work either. :( 
Good news: in sharing this event with a good friend of mine, I now have her red velvet recipe that she can always count on. So, no more worries about looking for a good red velvet recipe. 

To continue on about John's mom's birthday... We had a wonderful dinner at Tommy Bahamas Restaurant at Pointe Orlando.  The food is always great and the company was even better! Especially when you have a yummy citrus, rum drink in hand! Great time, even better memories! Happy Birthday, Darla! We hope you enjoyed your cupcakes, kitty cat necklace, and dinner.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

New Orleans Vacation

As our last getaway before school started we took a trip to New Orleans! What a blast we had!! It was the three of us, John, myself, and my Nana C. We flew up on a Wednesday morning and came back the following Saturday morning. I honestly think we did every single thing possible!
This picture sums up our entire trip!

Let me start on the left... I had the honor have getting to meet a local children's book author who has published her first book, with a series to follow along! She even offered to 'Skype' with my students and read the book with them and answer questions... how cool is that?? (Now, I just have to figure out HOW to actually use Skype...)

When you look at my picture you will see two different photographs... one with a cute New Orleans Cat and the other with the fleur-de-lis symbol. An upside to renting no car, nor calling a cab is being able to see sooooo much more of the french quarter by walking it all! While walking the Quarter, we were able to see many local artists' galleries. Our favorite gallery of the entire trip was the Craig Tracy: Painted Alive. Going on his site will totally 'wow' you of such a rare, beautiful talent.

Moving on through our trip... Cafe Du Monde. Need I say more?? The most scrumptious, delicious, tasty, airy-filled beignets one has EVER put in their mouth!! Plus, the frozen Cafe Au Lait (half coffee, half milk) makes the experience so much more amazing! In the two and a half days we were there, we went twice... Yes, my jeans are officially too tight. Agh... summertime, what have you done to my body or should I just say specifically my rear end? Anyways, we bought a box mix to make the beignets at home. John says I have to wait awhile. He is not quite ready for a pound of powdered sugar, but I told him I would be more than happy to eat what he doesn't want. :)

Next up on our AWESOME trip to the Big Easy was the New Orleans School of Cooking. All that I can say about this experience was that it was so much fun! Our host and cook was very educational, but also sooo entertaining! They gave us great recipes to try at home. I have tried one so far, the Crab Corn Chowder. It was wonderful! So says my husband. He is basically the only taste tested I have here all of the time. From the looks of his empty bowl, two servings later. He must have REALLY enjoyed it! So, if you are ever in New Orleans, you like to cook (or watch people cook), you like to eat (yes, they feed you!),  YOU MUST GO TO THE COOKING SCHOOL!!!

In the picture above, there are also some little keep sakes... post cards, a christmas ornament, etc. Yes, I bought a Christmas decoration in July. I just had to! We have been buying ornaments for our Christmas tree ever since we got married. I think we have one from almost every place we have been.

Another thing that I became OBSESSED with while on our trip their was the fleur-de-lis. 
It is just one of those symbols that is: 
A. Just beautiful! 
B. Has a wonderful story of religion and history behind it.
C. Is the TRUE symbol of all things Louisiana!
So, me being an obsessive person, I bought salt and pepper shakers with the symbol, a necklace with a key charm that has the symbol in it, a wall piece, our piece of art that I have already talked about, and knobs. I know, where am I going to put fleur-de-lis knobs, right? Well, I have absolutely NO idea. I just liked them. That I know! I will one day figure it out and John will understand why I had to have them.

Of course on our table spread we also have some business cards from the places we went to eat. If you are a FOODIE, like we are, here are the links: 

  • K-Paul's Kitchen- a wonderful staple of New Orleans, but wasn't anything I couldn't cook at home... BUT we can say that we have been there!
  • Acme Oyster House- Another staple of N.O.L.A. This place was great! I have a wonderful po-boy there! And John tried the oysters. We would go back!
  • Muriel's- This place has a resident house ghost! Cool and corny, I know. BUT the food was also amazing! I had the BEST vanilla bean creme brulee I have ever tasted! I loved it! I just wanted to eat it forever and ever. I miss it already.
  • Court of Two Sisters- We went here for a jazz brunch buffet. It was a grand buffet with all sorts of interesting and delicious things! Very neat experience.
We also took a tour of one the many old homes. It was filled with beautiful furniture, books, dolls, etc. It was a nice historical aspect of New Orleans.

We went on a ghost and vampire tourof the French Quarter... I would tell you more, but I don't have much to say about it... we were at Pat O's for three hours BEFORE the tour. Lord Chaz was VERY theatrical though. And we did have a BAR break halfway through the tour at a local New Orleans bar.

So...speaking of drinking, we stopped at Pat O'Briens every-single-day we were in New Orleans. This is a landmark of New Orleans and if you DON'T go there, then you have not experience all NOLA has to offer.
Words cannot describe the FUN we had while sitting the courtyard area of Pat O's. All I can do is show a picture...


We did soooo much more, but these were indeed the highlights of our trip to New Orleans. I believe everyone should go here at least once while they are young and then again when you have kids or grandkids. We had a blast with my NanaC. Like always, we make soooooo many memories together! Especially when tall, pretty drinks are involved. :)

Next trip: Possibly the windy city of Chicago for Dave Matthew's Band last tour stop...