Observations Of An Amateur Housewife

Thursday, May 31, 2012

On Growing

We’ve been spending most of our time outside lately, the kids and I.
Making bouquets.
Chasing winged insects…and catching them sometimes!
Discovering grass and clover.
Planting a little garden.
And me just looking. Watching my children be children.
I haven’t been getting a lot done inside, but...I’m really not missing much.
I don't want to miss anything.
Because it grows so quickly, this little garden of mine. The busier I get, the faster it grows.
And if I don’t look now, I’m going to miss it.
So lately, I’ve just been watching it grow.

Today, I'm linking up to Denise In Bloom.

Denise In Bloom

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rainbow 6th Birthday

In the weeks leading up to her birthday, Lily was on quite a rainbow kick. Rainbow works of art were coming home from school almost every day.
So when I showed her all the gorgeous rainbow cakes popping up on Pinterest, she definitely wanted one for her birthday! I was happy to oblige…do you know how much fun it is to plan a rainbow party, even a small one? So much. That’s how much.
Her day started with a wake-up surprise hanging all over her room.
And a rainbow treat with breakfast.
Party guests this year we limited to family which kept the day stress-free. Bowling and playing outside with cousins made for an easy and enjoyable day!

Her favorite cake on my pinboards was a plain white one using skittles and marshmallows for the rainbow. Being the dessert-impaired person I am, I used the hardest-to-ruin least-complicated recipe I could find!

I used:
2 White Cake Mixes (Meijer Brand, because I’m cheap like that) (NO, I didn’t make it from scratch, are you kidding me???)

Food coloring in 6 colors of your choice

2 cans of Fluffy White Frosting

3 (or as many as you have) round cake pans (I did not actually have any cake pans, so I bought a set of 3 disposable ones for like 2 bucks, and they worked great).

Large Bag of Skittles


Directions: Mix the cake according to the package instructions. Divide equally into 6 bowls. With food coloring, create a different color in each bowl. Pour contents of each bowl into separate cake pans. Bake according to package instructions. When completely cool, carefully stack each layer, separating each layer with white frosting. Frost outside of cake and decorate as desired. And voila!

You have a very tall, and very impressive 6-layer cake!


This was actually VERY easy, even for me. It was time consuming, (3-4 hours) but worth it. The hardest part was frosting the sides--trying to hide the gaps in between each layer. And the best part? The look of surprise on everyone’s faces when I cut into it! Even my chef brother-in-law was impressed, AND didn’t know it was a cake mix! (way to go Meijer!)



We made the day a little more memorable by hanging some fun rainbow d├ęcor in the dining room.


The rainbow sky was created from crepe paper streamers and blue wrapping paper. It was supposed to cover the whole top half of the wall, but apparently the wrapping paper company thought $4 for 2 yards of paper was a fair price. :/
The birthday girl couldn’t have cared less about the skimpy wrapping paper though, she loved it all.


So did her brother.


Until he knocked the cake over…


Luckily, the candles had already been blown out, and everyone had already had some cake.


And even though I wish she would slow down a bit with this growing up business, I love knowing that her birthday was fun and memorable.

Anyone else made a rainbow cake or something similar? I’d love to hear about it!

Trifle Epic Fail

Our church holds an annual Memorial Day Picnic on the Sunday beforehand.Its always a ton of fun. Pigs are roasted overnight, everyone brings a dish according to their last name, we listen to some great music from the talent in our church, and play games (or watch our kids play games) outside. There’s even a fishing tournament.

Whenever we bring a dish according to our last name, somehow I always end up in the dessert category. This is really ironic, because I cannot bake to save my life. The fact that I pulled off Lily’s rainbow birthday cake was a small miracle really. Being well aware of my limitations, I usually just buy something. 

This year, though, armed with all of my Pinterest “expertise” I thought I’d attempt to make something. A decorative patriotic trifle, pinned from Fancy Frugal Life looked easy enough. It didn’t even require baking!

60869032434040996_UvXW5Q3p_f (This picture comes from Fancy Frugal Life, you should definitely head over to her site to find lots of awesome ideas!)

Just cut some star shapes out of store-bought cake, squirt some whipped cream out of a can, add some fruit, and you’re done. Easy! Ummm, right. For normal people maybe. But if you are dessert-impaired like me, you will end up with sad little stars like this:
And after 15 minutes spent cutting out 7 stars, you will just take that cake and rip it into a bowl of cake chunks like this:
You will attempt to arrange it into pretty, decorative layers in spite of the shredded cake:
Then you will swallow your pride and take it to the picnic anyway, because after sampling it:
you know it tastes scrumptious.
So it was pretty much a fail in the presentation department, but at least it was a yummy one.
I had leftover ingredients, so I dumped it all together again the next day for our family cookout. It really made a perfect dessert after a big meal on a hot day: light, fluffy and fresh.
I will definitely be making it again this summer!

Friday, May 25, 2012

High Chair With 9 Lives (or at least 3)

A long, long time ago, on a Wordpress blog far, far away, I blogged about this old wooden high chair I refinished. Back in 2009, my in-laws had found it second hand for me, because I really wanted one.  (I have really awesome in-laws.) At the time, I sanded it down and painted it black. Those were the dark ages before I discovered the magic of spray paint (I have no idea why this blog is starting to sound like a medieval fairy tale, its totally unintentional), and I painted it with some cheap basic black paint and a brush.

 It took f.o.r.e.v.e.r. All those little nooks and crannies, ugh! 
I really liked it when it was done! 

But it was weirdly sticky. The thing never dried! It stayed sticky for the next year or so that I used it. Everything stuck to it, it never looked clean, it was awful. I was happy to put it in the shed. 

Fast forward to 2012. I have another little guy who is outgrowing his bumbo thing and needs a high chair! IMG_4894(No worries, the bumbo thing is strapped to the chair very securely.)
So I dragged the high chair out of the shed and looked it over. Lookin’ kinda sad, huh? IMG_4895 IMG_4896
So I bought $3 worth of black spray paint from Walmart. I still had lacquer left over from the porch project we’re working on. IMG_5028
After scrubbing it with Dawn dish soap and roughing it up with a sanding block, 20 minutes later I had a freshly spray-painted high chair. Have I mentioned that I love spray paint? SO FAST!!! 

I got a little nervous though, because after letting it dry for a good hour, it was STILL STICKY! NOOOO!!! Thankfully, after a coat of lacquer, and letting that dry, it was no longer sticky. Phew! You can heave a sigh of relief now.

Now it looked better, but… I still wasn’t happy with it. IMG_5037
The finish seemed kind of dull, and I could see drops of Lacquer. (I love spray paint, but I’m not crazy about spray lacquer.)

SO I stared at it awhile. Because that’s what I do. I stare until an idea pops into my head. And its a good thing an idea DID come, because that poor high chair, through no fault of its own, was about to get the ol' heave ho. 

 If you’re still reading, its about to get good, so hang onto your hats. Or seats. Or whatever.

I wanted to hide those dull spotty spots, or at least distract from them. So I grabbed this fabric I bought recently for the porch project. Its vinyl outdoor fabric for 2.97/yard at Walmart, (and easy to clean I'm thinking.)IMG_5060
I also grabbed some scissors, tissue paper, a pen, and my Elmer’s spray adhesive.
Placing the tissue paper over the tray, I traced an outline of the tray.
I cut it out, and using it as a pattern, traced the same shape on my fabric.
I cut that out, then sprayed it generously with one of my favorite things:
Elmer’s Spray Adhesive. I let it sit for about 30 seconds, then carefully adhered it to the tray, rubbing out any air bubbles and making sure it was nice and smooth.
Since this particular fabric was vinyl outdoor fabric, the fuzzy cotton backing left me with a problem:
It turned out to be an easy fix though. I just took the edge of my scissors and traced around the edges, and the fray came right off.
I repeated these steps for the seat of the high chair, coated the whole thing once more with another layer of lacquer and:
Can you hear it? Those angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus??? Oh wait, that’s me. Because I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love it!

This project only took me about an hour and a half, not counting the work I did on it back in 2009. Does this make you want to go spray paint something or what? If I can pull this project off, believe me, you can too!

This post is linked up with The Homemaker's Challenge!

Homemakers Challenge