Currently {july thirty first}

this weeks themes:
needing, listening, learning, jumping, building

a) I am needing some serious moolah right now.  School starts in our county on August 7th.  I swear the amount of supplies I have to purchase every year has consistently risen over the course of the last 10 years.  I can barely afford to purchase all this junk, much less all the extras that are listed. Sheesh.

b) I've started listening to our local AM radio station, WLBQ - Beech Tree Radio, in the mornings.  I never thought I would reach the age that I was drinking my morning coffee while listening to the local AM radio station for my local news and events, but it's been pretty awesome.

c) This week I'm learning to get back into the groove of early mornings.  Since I made the decision to transport the kids to school this year, we've worked out that they will now be able to get about 45 minutes to an hour of extra sleep.  I will get this extra sleep too! Rowan hasn't had any problems *knock on wood* getting up earlier than usual so I think this is going to work out.

d) I am not jumping for joy that the kids won't be here during the day.  I will admit that there was a time when I was excited that they were returning to school, but time goes by so quickly.  I don't want to miss a tiny little second anymore.  I could homeschool them, but I feel like I am ill-equipped to do so.  Plus there is that whole band and basketball issue.  I don't think a two person marching band will win many competitions!

e) Building?  Hmmm...  Ahhh I know!  My anticipation has been building!  My dad has decided to move back into his camper at the end of August.  He spent one year trying out living more simply and in a more compact space.  Then for the past year, he was living in a 1 bedroom apartment in town.  Both have their pros and cons, but ultimately he decided he would rather enjoy the peace, quiet, and nature that living in the country provides.

Reading: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare.  The last book in the Infernal Devices series.  I very much enjoy her books.  I have read some people complain that she hasn't strayed beyond books about Shadowhunters, but I appreciate the way she has elaborated on many of the characters backstories and family trees.

Watching: True Blood.  I am not impressed with this last season so far.  I guess the series has run its course, but I am seriously going to be missing Lafayette.  He needs his own spin-off show.

next weeks themes:
craving, cleaning, daydreaming, growing, reading

Currently link up is hosted by Harvesting Kale and OT & ET.

**This weeks Currently photo is little Kaia Papaya around the age of one.  I posted it on my personal Facebook page too.  I'm sure she will be thrilled.

Made from Scratch Apple Pie

It's no secret that I love to bake goodies.  I have never attempted to bake a pie though.  For her birthday, Kaia requested I make her an apple pie.  She's on a Supernatural bender.  Neflixing the shit out of it.  Dean loves pie so Kaia loves pie.

I used four recipes to complete the pie.  The crust recipe from the book that came with my mixer, two recipes from the Pioneer Woman, and the super simple whipped cream recipe I shared in June.  It sounds a little excessive, but it was really much easier than expected.

All the ingredients:

Just 10 things.  There are 11 items pictured, but I changed what crust recipe I was using at the last minute and did not use the vinegar.

First up: KitchenAid Pie Pastry (right here is where I would link to the recipe if it were on the internet...)

What you need:  2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup shortening, well chilled, 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, well chilled, 5 to 6 tablespoons cold water.

What to do:

-Place flour and salt in bowl, mix well.  (In stand mixer, stir speed for about 15 seconds.)
-Cut shortening and butter into pieces and add to flour mixture, use pastry cutter to cut them into flour. (In stand mixer, stir speed and mix until shortening particles are size of small peas, about 30-45 seconds.
-Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough is just moistened and begins to hold together. Divide it in half, flatten slightly, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
-Roll half the dough out until it's 1/8-inch thick between wax paper (I used parchment paper), place in pie dish.  Finish it off with pie filling.  Bake as directed.

I only used one of the two because the recipe for the pie itself has THE MOST AMAZING CRUMB TOPPING so I refrigerated the other half to use later.

I peeled, cored, and sliced the apples according to the Pioneer Woman's Scrumpcious Apple Pie recipe.  I used all Granny Smith apples, but it was a little more tart than I would have liked so next time (and there will totes be a next time) I think I may mix in some Red Delicious because my brain was thinking about baked apple, but my mouth said tart apples.  Tossed the apples with lemon juice, sugar, flour, and a little salt.  Then I made that crumb topping.  M'mmmmm..... crumb topping...

At first, I thought the recipe was a misprint because it states to cut 1 1/2 sticks of butter into 1/2 cup of flour, but it is totally correct and as I was cutting it in I realized it mixed up very well.  Then you add in brown sugar, quick cook oats, and a little salt.  Put the apple mixture in the pie dish and top with the crumb topping.  I meant to take a photo because this pie was heaping!  I thought I was going to need a bigger dish!  Instead I just squished it all down, covered the edges of the crust with aluminum foil and baked, baked, baked.  After about 25 minutes, I removed the foil and continued to cook for another 30 minutes.  With five minutes left, add some chopped up pecans.

While that was cooking, I moved on to the caramel sauce, another first, and I followed the Pioneer Woman's Easy Caramel Sauce recipe.  Ermahgerd.  So easy.  So damn good.  You just put brown sugar, butter, half-and-half or heavy cream (I used heavy cream because I also made my own whipped cream), vanilla, and salt in a sauce pan.  Warm and stir. Sample. Sample again just to be sure.  If you think it's too thin, continue cooking.  I followed her directions though and once I let it sit and cool a bit on the counter while the pie was cooking, it thickened up nicely on its own.

As soon as I took the pie out of the oven, I drizzled it with caramel sauce.  When I thought I had added enough, I added more.  I had a lot left over so I put it into one of those El Cheapo condiment dispensers and I may or may not (of course I did!) put some in my coffee in the morning.  Letting the pie cool was the hardest thing to do, but it gave that caramel sauce time to form a nice caramelly crustiness on top of the brown sugary crumb topping.  M'mmm... camamelly crumb topping.....

Then I smacked some whipped cream on that shit and drizzled yet more caramel sauce on top.  And we all sat around drooling, mmmmm'ing, and in awe of the fact that the pie crust turned out awesome!

I was pretty apprehensive about this whole thing.  Pies look so intimidating to me, but this all came together so well.  And really, just 10 ingredients.  I'm already thinking ahead to the holidays.

You get a pie!  And you get a pie!  And, yes, YOU GET A PIE TOO!

*I included the pie crust recipe because it was from a book, but I didn't share the exact recipes of the others because they are easily found online.  Plus I didn't want to even remotely be accused of infringing on anyone's copyright.  Ya feel me?

Currently {july twenty fifth}

this weeks themes:
watching, searching, missing, growing, ignoring

Sooooo... I'm a little late again.  Whoopsie.  Shit happens.  And around here it's flying everywhere!  At least I'm getting it done today.  Better late than never!

a) I have been watching my knits and purls.  I found an amazing slouchy beret pattern this week.  It's knitted flat, which I LOVE.  I haven't quite gotten the hang of knitting in-the-round yet so this pattern gives me the warm fuzzies in my belly.  Also I knitted one for Kaia for her 13th birthday (OH MY GAWD! SHE'S THIRTEEN!) in just a few hours.

So quick, so easy.  I ended up making another and then another.  The third was an experiment that was meant to be one for Rowan, but it was too small.  No problem as I have a friend with a 6 month old.  Except it was too small for her head too!  Haha!

b) We have these trees in our yard.  We call them stick trees.  They are tall and skinny and are good for nothing but sticks because inevitably half of the tree dies.  Usually the bottom half while the top is still green. I've been searching like crazy trying to figure out what kind of tree they actually are.  No luck yet.  I took a photo of one of the leaves (see above) to help identify them.  I have a possible match, but it's just not quite right.

c) I am missing the Summer!  While Neil is the only one entering high school, Kaia was asked to be a part of the marching band this year as well.  Monday began band camp and I had forgotten what it meant to get up so early every morning.  I plan on driving the kids to school this year so this gives me an opportunity to get our schedules figured out as far as wake up times and leave the house times.

d) My first little girl is growing up.  She turned 13 years old today.  I feel like she was just born.  Now she is in the official teenager zone.  How did this happen?!

e) I have been desperately trying to ignore my want of sodas.  Or, as we call them here, cokes.  They are so bad and so good at the same time.  It's such a struggle.  (Ok, clearly I had to stretch it on this one...)

Bonus! Reading:  Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

next weeks themes:
needing, listening, learning, jumping, building

Currently link up is hosted by Harvesting Kale and OT & ET.

A Vacation Story: The Bad

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this journey, we don't vacation well.  The morning of the day we were leaving, I woke up with a stopped up nose and a sore throat.  I had hoped it was just a sleeping with my mouth open all night problem, but nerp.  I had an itchy, running like a faucet, sneezy nose the entire time we were there.  Do you think I took any Kleenex?  No.  I had to use napkins.  I looked like Rudolph.

The weather.  You can't really predict the weather you are going to have more than a week-ish out, but it was like Mother Nature was playing a seriously cruel joke.  The days leading up to arrival were hot, but pleasant enough.  The day we left was the most beautiful day I have seen all Summer.  The four days we were there?  Hot.  Heat index in the 100F+ mark, every day.  Temperatures themselves were in the high 90's.  Plus there were chances of at least 40% of rain and/or thunderstorms.  You know it stormed.  If you didn't already guess that the rain cover on the tent leaked, you haven't been following along.  The Vacation Gods hate us.

Every time Chris would try to go fish, it would start to rain.  Camping + rain + toddler = no fun.  Trying to keep her cooped up in that tent was not the most exciting thing.  Yes, that is an arm floatie in my face.  She wanted to go swim. Which we were only able to do one time because... weather.

Bridges.  I'm terrified of large bridges.  There are two bridges here.  One over Lake Barkley/Cumberland River and, the one pictured, over Kentucky Lake/Tennessee River.  This particular bridge is called the Eggner's Ferry bridge and is currently under construction because a barge hit it and destroyed two portions.  In the second photo you can see the repaired portion because it's a different color than the rest.  I mentioned it was still under construction right?  Because I am terrified of bridges of this size... again the Universe was like, "Hey y'all!  Watch this!", and told the construction workers it would be HILARIOUS to stop the traffic (already down to one lane) in the middle of the damn bridge!!!

While not exactly part of the "Bad" category, the Golden Pond Planetarium wasn't on the "Good" list either.

As evidenced by the looks on my kids faces, not the best experience.  They have different shows throughout the day and I chose one that I thought would be a good mix for us all.  I thought it was going to be about the different constellations in the current seasons sky.  And it was, to some extent, but they really should have mentioned a target age group for the different shows.  This show was clearly not meant for adults or older kids.  Also it only covered a couple of the constellations.  The demonstration of the laser lights at the end was better than the actual show.  Overall, we were not impressed.  Thank goodness it only cost $18.

The coup de grĂ¢ce came on Monday.  While we were out perusing the animals, the animals were perusing our campsite.  Particularly, squirrels.

The squirrels at Land Between the Lakes have a serious hot cocoa addiction.  This is a regular hot cocoa container made of cardboard with a metal bottom and plastic lid.  It was inside our tent on the table with the rest of our food stuffs.  They also took out the majority of a loaf of bread.

But how did they get inside the tent, you say?  For your viewing pleasure...

That's right.  The cocoa-crackhead squirrels CHEWED A HOLE THROUGH THE TENT to get to the cocoa that was all closed up and minding it's own business!!  What's even better than all this is that I had to pick up squirrel shit from all over our bed because in their effort to escape the scene of the crime, they also tried to chew a hole through one of the windows next to the bed.  They were not successful in that plan, but did manage to get their cute little raisinette crap all over our bed.

Originally we had planned on going swimming the morning we were to check out because check out time isn't until 3:30pm, but that night is rained.  Again.  And on top of everything else that had gone wrong...

Broken zipper.  BROKEN ZIPPER!!

We were up, packed, and on the road in an hour and half the next day.  On the most beautiful day of the year.  The most camping worthy day.  All we wanted to do was get the hell out of that place!

A Vacation Story: The Good

*Fair warning... long post with lots of awesomesauce photos!*

For me, the best part of this vacation was visiting the 1850's Homeplace located in the southern, Tennessee part, of Land Between the Lakes.  If there is anything you should know about me, it is this...  I was born in the wrong era.  I love to see and hear about all the history.  Though I am partial to phones and internet as well as electric and indoor plumbing, I would like nothing more than to buy some wooded acres, build a tiny house on it, throw up some solar panels, and call it home.  After visiting the Homeplace, I have new ideas banging around inside my head on what I want that tiny home to look like.  On to the photo tour!

First off, I forgot to take a photo of the actual entrance which is this sort of earthen mound.  You go inside the doors to the gift shop and museum type area that held artifacts and information.  Walk out the back doors and follow a little wooded path that opens upon this wonderful old farm!

This is the main house called a double pen.  It has this amazing breezeway, also called a dog trot.  While not exactly a "tiny" home, it's smaller than most modern homes.  The dog trot area is what immediately set my brain to thinking.  It was stupid hot and humid that day, but this home was cool and breezy.  All the windows were open.  The curtains were all gently blowing in the breeze.  This house was cooler than my own house is with the air conditioning on.  Why do we not build houses like this anymore?!?!

All of the buildings were picked up and moved to this location from the LBL area, with the exception of the main home which came from a nearby location in Tennessee.  I was just amazed that these homes/buildings were not reproduction, not made to look old, but actual original buildings.

This is the back porch area.  The open space in the wall to the right is the dog trot area that also includes the stairs leading to the upstairs open landing between two bedrooms.  To my right is the parlor and to my left is the kitchen.

Holy awesome kitchen Batman!  The crocks!  The iron skillets and pots!  THE STOVE!!  

 Looking out the front part of the open upstairs landing is a view of some of the crops from the era.  Tobacco and corn were growing in this field.

From the back view, you can see the kitchen and the smokehouse building.  As well as getting an upclose view of the shake roof.

Resident mouse catcher.  Do you see the width of these wooden floor boards?!

This was the large fenced-in garden.  What a great way to keep out unwanted critters.  Never occurred to me to fence the whole garden.  Nearby was the corn crib and garden tool shed.

 I fell in love with this sweet little single pen home.  It's much too small for our family of five, but was so cozy and efficient.

Plus it had this flower and herb garden right out back.  Who wouldn't love to just step out the back door for fresh flowers or to grab some parsley?

There were lots of animals (horses, oxen, chickens, ducks, sheep, pigs), a small blacksmith building, a huge tool barn, and lots of little outbuildings to house tools and food for the specific animals they were near. Absolutely worth a visit if you are near the area.

Next up on the tour of Good Things... the Woodlands Nature Station.  The Nature Station houses native animals that are unable to be released back into the wild.  I wanted to go to the Nature Station so I could see the red wolves.  There are fewer than 300 of them left in THE WORLD.  Recently (May) the wolves here had a cub!  Great news!  Bad news... we waited and waited and waited outside their pen, but no sighting of a single red wolf was had.  No sightings of their coyotes either.  Apparently they were all hiding out due to the rain that was moving in later.

We did see turkeys.  Much prettier on the table for Thanksgiving.  Very mean in person.  Several different types of owls, which were scary and fascinating.  Do you know how tiny a screech owl is?  A bobcat who gave no shits whatsoever that we were there, like any other cat.  A groundhog, a few deer, an opossum, a bald eagle, and lots of hummingbirds and other birds.

Inside the learning center, there were all types of skulls and butterflies plus pelts of various native animals.  A skunk is surprisingly soft.  They also had snakes which Rowan was fascinated with.  Next time we visit we will try to go earlier in the day when the animals may be more active.

Lastly, before going we decided that while we were there we would pick a place to eat out one night.  I looked over the restaurants in the area.  Considered visiting Patti's 1880's Settlement, but I decided I didn't want to visit the place that every one else visits when they go.  I wanted off the beaten path.  I found it at Belew's Dairy Bar.

It was the best decision I had on the whole trip.  Do you see these prices?!  I had no idea it was going to be such a great value.  Cheeseburger? $2.80.  Grilled cheese?  $1.85.  Most expensive item on the menu was the shrimp basket and it was only $6.20.  Oh and these prices included tax.  AND!  Do you see "curb service"?  That's exactly what we got.  They come right up to your car and you don't have to be parked right next to the building either.  When your food is ready, it gets put on a nice stainless steel tray that hooks right on your window.  We ended up talking to each of the three carhops.  They were the nicest, most friendly ladies.  Each had a smile and were very helpful.  The burger was a little flat, but tasted great and the milkshakes were amazing!  I can see why they have been in business since 1951!

I have been thinking about that Homeplace and how sweet the ladies at Belew's were and it's a good thing too because if I focused on the bad stuff, I'd have a stroke.  More on that tomorrow.

Do-Dads and Cars and Crayons! Oh my!

That's right y'all!  The Etsy shop is now open!

After I made Rowan her cute little purse so she could carry all her little do-dads, I knew I had to make more and share the love.

They are the perfect size for a few crayons, a My Little Pony or two, a couple of Hot Wheels, and various other weird things that only toddlers and small children can find.

There is a button closure without a buttonhole so little hands will be able to close and open.  I picked out lining fabrics that match up nicely with the exterior fabric!

The best part is that even though I made them with toddler age children in mind, they could easily be used by little girls, teen girls, or even we ladies who only need room for our phone, wallet, and keys!

So many idea are floating around in my head right now!  Future bags are floating around waiting to be made! Stop by the shop (or click the "Shop" tab in the menu) and use the code 5OFFJULY31 to get $5 off your order until the end of the month!

A Vacation Story: {Energy Lake}

I wanted to stay in the state of Kentucky this year.  At first I was eyeing the eastern part of the state, but ultimately I decided on Land Between the Lakes.  I had never been and The Husband hadn't been since he was younger.  It's only 2-ish hours from where we live.  I looked over the map of LBL and decided to pick a spot at Energy Lake campground because of it's central location.

According to the reservation website, check-in time isn't until 4:30pm, which I think is a little late.  However we arrived about 2:30pm and didn't have a problem checking in.  In fact, the attendants were so friendly!  Very accommodating and pleasant.  When we were checking out, they asked us to stay on a few more days.  The ice, firewood, and other items were not overpriced.  We only had to buy one package of wood for the three nights we were there.

There are four sections to the Energy Lake campground.  We stayed in Area C.

The site itself was big enough for our large tent and the kid's smaller tent.  The picnic table was concrete which I liked because it was much sturdier than others we've seen, but impossible to move.  Which left a very small area for chairs around the campfire.

We could see the water from our site.  Much fishing was done.  Not many fish were actually caught.  Most of the sites are within spitting distance of the water.

It was pretty quiet for most of the time.  I think I might have heard one boat the whole time.  The campground offer canoe and kayak rental, but for $10 per hour that was not happening.  Especially when we would have needed two of them.

We arrived on a Saturday so most other campers left the next day.  It was fairly quiet except for the occasional screams of our three year old.  I never realized just how LOUD she is until we were in a quiet situation.  We will definitely go back.  Probably stay in the same section, but in a different site.  Probably without the kids.  As much as I love a good family get away, I was so exhausted when we got home on Tuesday afternoon that I barely remember doing anything once we got here.

Next up:  The 1850's Homeplace that I wanted to move right into and begin my pioneer life, the Nature Station, and a great little throwback eatery.

Currently {july seventeenth}

This weeks themes:
saving, closing, loving, despising, throwing

a)  Saving?  Whaaa ha ha ha ha!  I would love to be able to save some money, save my sanity, save the world!  I, however, can save diddly squat.  Three active kids means every single penny goes to something other than the savings account.

b)  We will shortly be closing the books on tent camping.  It's all well and good when you are young and/or don't have young kids.  Right now we are smashed between the teenagers who are always bored and the threenager who is constantly moving.  I've always complained that the point of camping was to camp, but I am quickly realizing the benefits of a camper.  Guess I need to get a little more motivated with that saving issue, huh?

c)  This weather!  I am loving it!  It is so Fall-like outside.  Crisp air, cool breezes.  *sigh*  Bring on October!

d)  Right now I'm despising the Facebook app on my phone.  It updated not long ago and it now forces me into "Top Stories".  Why do they even have this option?!  No one uses it.  I want to see the current feed and I hate that I have to click through several menus to get to it.

e)  Since returning from vacay, I've been throwing tons of clothes in the washer.  I packed three outfits for everyone plus jammies.  How do we have mountains of laundry?!

next weeks themes:
watching, searching, missing, growing, ignoring

Currently link up is hosted by Harvesting Kale and OT & ET.

A Vacation Story: Part One

The Bewley Family vacations are always a thing of beauty.  National Lampoon has NOTHING on all the shit that goes wrong or is just plain crazy when we leave home as a group.

Two years ago we vacationed to the Gulf coast.  Pensacola area.  We'd never been and I booked a campsite, sight unseen.  We arrived late, exhausted from our 10 hour drive with two teenagers and a baby.  We had to then spend more than an hour setting up the tents and supplies.  In the hot and humid Florida weather.  We both nearly passed out and none of us could sleep worth a crap because it was just so damn hot.  I was suddenly mad at myself from making fun of the people with air conditioners in their tents.  The next day we discovered that our particular campsite was a virtual marshland.  It stayed wet and soggy our entire trip and the mosquitoes were in heaven.  We could not sit outside our tent.  While we were away on the third day, there was a thunderstorm.  Guess who had all the windows on their tent unzipped because it was just soooooo damn hot?! That's right, we did.  And remember we couldn't sit outside because of the soggy site and mosquitoes.  It was lovely.

Five years ago we visited my friend in south Georgia.  This trip was actually going well.  Until my friend, her sister, and I took a day trip to Savannah.  It was so beautiful!  As soon as we parked and headed toward River Street, I started to have an anxiety attack.  No rhyme or reason, just BAM! having an attack.  Being the attuned friend that she is, she recognized the attack immediately and scooped me back into the car for the return trip to her house.  If that wasn't bad enough, halfway home I get a phone call from The Husband.  Neil had run face first into a big ol' Georgia pine tree in their backyard while he was running around with their dog.

Broke three teeth.

This vacation was no exception.  Friday I'll tell you about the good, then we'll move on to the bad and the ugly.  Yes, I plan on dragging this out in as many posts as possible.  Because, why not?!

Currently {july tenth}

This Weeks Themes:
celebrating, growing, playing, setting, feeling

a)  As you saw in my previous post, we have been celebrating our youngest daughter's birthday!  These past three years have flown by so quickly!  Every day she does something new and I can see her growing and learning even as the minutes pass by.

b)  I should have used her "grown and learning" for this next prompt as well because there ain't much growing going on around here otherwise.  One day I will have the garden of my dreams!  One day damn it.

c)  We've been playing outside A LOT.  It's Summer!!  One day we're going to have a pool too.  Oh the dreams of a stay at home housewife....

d)  We've been setting everything up for camping this weekend!  I'm stupid excited.  We really wanted to go back to the beach.  The real beach with salt water, but after the last time we are a little gun shy.  (It was a great trip to a place we'd never been, but the camping experience was less than amazing.)  I've been making an effort to try to keep everything more local.  I don't know if you know it or not, but Kentucky Kicks Ass. We have some seriously awesome things to see and do here.  One of those things is Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.  In all my 35 years, I've never been and I live only 2 hours away.  That's all about to change this weekend.  No worries I will spam you with a post as soon as we return.

e)  I have been feeling excited about the upcoming camping adventure, accomplished with the birthday party, sad that the Summer is nearly over, and exhausted just looking at the calendar for the month of July.  And the months of August through (pretty much) next May.  I really try not to think about it too much.

next weeks themes:
saving, closing, loving, despising, throwing

Currently link up is hosted by Harvesting Kale and OT & ET.

The Big Three

My sweet baby girl turned three years old!  She has such a personality.  Every day with her is an adventure.  You would think because I gave birth to her that I would know to get prepared for a birthday.  Somehow though, it completely bum rushed me.  All of a sudden it was the end of June and her birthday was looming over me.  AAAHHHHHH!!!  Quick to the Pinterest!

She loves her some My Little Pony so I tried to coordinate what I could without going too overboard.

Everything came together pretty easily.  To make Ro her own hat, I just loaded one of the colored hats into my PSE and erased the dots.  I used graphics from the standees to add ponies to it.  Cut them all out and hot glued the tab.  I made some pompoms from some stash yarn I had.  Used a hole punch to make a place for strings to hold them on.  I used elastic for the little one so it would stay on.  Done!

I printed and cut out the standees, but we ended up not using them because it was just too windy.  They were quite the pain to cut out, but at a cost of FREE, they were really cute.  For the cupcake toppers, I resized the round Pony image to fit a hole punch I have, then manipulated the image for the reverse side to add Rowan's name and the number 3.  Punching out these suckers was probably the hardest thing because I don't use the punch often and it kept getting stuck.  The masks are super easy too.  Just print and cut.  The eyes are a little tricky though.

 I didn't think I would be able to get that hat off of her head, but once she saw presents and cupcakes, she didn't care a thing about a party hat.

 Moms with more than one kid will understand the turmoils of getting a group photo where everyone is looking at you and/or smiling like normal people.  Because we've never claimed to be normal... this will do.

Too windy for standees means also too windy for candle lighting.  Her daddy tried his hardest, but it was a no go.  Again... no cares were given.  She just wanted to eat the damn thing.

The one thing I had prepared for was this present.  I knew months ago that I wanted to get her a big girl bicycle for her birthday.  Her big sister rides a bike all the time and she always cries to go with her.  Now she can!  Of course, we ended up having to take this particular bike back to good ol' Walmart because 1) we realized the front wheel was slightly bent and 2) the bearings had gone out in it and it was so difficult to pedal!  If things had gone smoothly, it wouldn't have been right.

Printable masks - Etsy - $4
Party hats - Printable Party Decor - FREE (pompom tutorial here)
My Little Pony standees - DeviantArt - FREE
Cupcake toppers - Creative Printables - FREE
Table cloth, plates, pennant banner - $0.97 each at Walmart or maybe $1.97

Weekly Roundup {Photo-a-Day}

July 1st | Red & White |  Zinnias from my back yard.

July 2nd | Something Beginning with K | Two of my kids.  Originally going to just be Kaia, but Rowan insisted on being in the photo too.

July 3rd | Match | Matched broken crayons.

July 4th | Stars. | Three marshmallow stars! Happy Independence Day!

July 5th | On the table. | Party hats I made for my youngest daughter's upcoming birthday.

July 6th | View | Part of our backyard.

Follow along with Chantelle of Fat Mum Slim's Photo A Day prompts by clicking here.

Currently {july third} - UPDATED!!

No graphic this week because I haz the lazy.  So the prompts for this week are managing, missing, thinking, creating, and looking.

a)  I am currently managing to not lose my mind! July is always a busy, hectic month for us.  We have two birthdays and parties to work through, a mini-vacation to take, and then this year, we begin the endless running that is high school marching band.  I might feel a little better if that planner that I ordered a month ago had shipped already.  The page mentioned it would take 3-4 weeks for shipping, but several reviews said that it hadn't taken quite so long.  I'm impatient and I want it like... yesterday.

b)  We are missing the annual county fair/Catfish Festival/fireworks this year.  More like opting out as opposed to having something else to do instead.  I'm all about supporting local, but the only thing that has changed about the festival in the 8-ish years we have been going is the price.  It used to be just $10 per car for admittance, but now it is priced per person.  It's a catfish festival so they have catfish plates (catfish, slaw, hushpuppies, fries) that used to be $5, were $8 last year.  Like I said above, July is a busy month and we already have so much going on, can't afford to be wasteful with the monies.

c)  I've been thinking A LOT about a friend of mine.  Her not yet 2 year old daughter was sick last week.  Wasn't eating or drinking, was vomiting and had diarrhea.  She took her to a local hospital multiple times and kept being sent home and told it was only a virus that would run it's course.  Was even told on the third visit to not bring her back.  But as a mother, you KNOW when something is wrong with your child.  She returned to the ER again and this time her sweet baby had to be life-flighted to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in Nashville because of acute renal failure!  Within 45 mins of being at Vandy, it was discovered she has e.Coli.  She's had three blood transfusions, a surgery two days ago to prep her for dialysis, and a surgery to start a PICC line so she can get medications.  Thank all the lucky stars that overnight she had several wet diapers (!!) and even ate some pudding cups (she hasn't eaten anything since last Wednesday, not yesterday... last week) which means she *knock on wood* will not have to have a feeding tube.  If you'd like to keep up with her or donate for her medical expenses and her parent's traveling expenses, click here. She still has a very long road ahead of her.  Keep sending the good vibes!

d)  I've done the Fat Mum Slim Photo-a-Day challenge in the past, but I wanted a fresh start.  So I'm creating photographs using her prompts and only my DSLR camera.  I don't use it enough and the more practice I have with that new lens, the better I will become.  It's like having homework that I actually want to do.

e)  I've been looking around our yard and wondering how best we can make use of the space.

Recently got the Google Camera app for my phone and I was trying out the Photo Sphere section.
I don't think I did it right because clearly this isn't a sphere.
We keep talking about a garden, but never actually get one going.  Maybe next year.  We've also considered a pond, but the idea of mosquitoes scares me into not considering it too much.

Currently link up is hosted by Harvesting Kale and OT & ET.

next weeks themes:
celebrating, growing, playing, setting, feeling

So that whole Photo Sphere not being a 360 degrees was kind of bothering me. Turns out you have to have a special viewer. I did a little searching here and there and TADA! Here it is!!

Please ignore my less than perfect house and non-manicured lawn. We can't all be squeaky perfect. :) But you can see our re-purposed dog kennel.  That is wisteria we've been weaving in and around the chain link.  We cut it all down at the beginning of Spring, but that wisteria is apparently a hardy plant because it's come back with a vengeance.  Not exactly pretty yet, but eventually we'll have flowers and a butterfly garden around it.

Pros = you can see a whole view! You can scroll and zoom.  I look forward to doing another in the Winter for comparison.

Cons = I don't like that I can't (or haven't figured out how to) not show location. I guess it's not too big of a deal, a quick search will probably give my address anyway...