Thursday, August 30, 2012

Survival Of The Fittest

 Let's get started with some food pictures, shall we? I got asked to do some cake balls for a friend's white party. She did decor, food, etcetera all in white, and it was beautiful. It was fun to make the cake balls all in white, too. A little sugar dust on top helped them to really sparkle!
Just last week, I got a call from an unknown number on my cell phone. I'll be the first to tell you that I don't answer when the number is unknown . I also don't answer if I don't have you saved in my phone. Why should I? Call me from a new number, and I can almost guarantee that I will screen your call. Just a little FYI...

Anyway, I get this call and send it to voicemail. The message is from a really great gal who works for a local placement agency. Since I found my current gem of a job through a placement agency, they hold a special place in my heart. She's looking for a new place (that isn't a grocery store) to make cookies and the like for the employers she works with. Enter me.

I made up a little sample of cupcakes, and she loves them, so we're starting out with an order next week. I love growth in my business, and I'm so delighted that this little moment of growth was a personal referral from someone I've never even met.  
James was at the deer lease this past weekend, so Cullen and I shared some precious Mommy & Me time. I love time with my little guy. Of course, James decided it would be a good idea to bring home some local wildlife. Meet Mister T.
Y'all, I have a turtle living in a cooler in my living room. As I type this, he is eating my over-priced, organic spring mix for lunch. I feel kinda bad for the little guy, but he must get out of my house. He goes back to the deer lease in a little over a week. Until then, Cullen is in love with him, checks on him before bedtime and first thing in the morning, and named him T. I call him Mister T. James says it's too formal, but I think I'm hilarious. If I didn't feel so bad for the creepy little thing, I'd get him some gold mardi gras beads. I pity the fool!


Also over the weekend, Cullen decided that he's afraid of the lion in his bed. He's been sleeping on a little pallet I made for him next to his bed. I wish I could tell you what he's actually afraid of. When I ask him why he's afraid of the lion, he responds with, "I just am." Or if I ask where the lion is, he responds with, "He's gone." Because he doesn't sleep well on the floor, I'm not sleeping well either. If anybody wants to send some prayers our way for better sleep, I'd be ever so thankful.

Cullen got his teeth cleaned on Tuesday. For the first time ever, we talked him into sitting in the chair. He was such a big kid. I love that little guy. 
And just a little feel-good story for your Thursday. I think we all know how I feel about crummy customer service people. Just ask the receptionist at Cullen's dentist's office. She crossed me one too many times on Tuesday morning. Anyhow, I started getting text messages from AT&T recently saying that I had reached 65% and 90% of my data plan. I didn't pay too much attention to it, because I wasn't sure how I could reach 65% of my unlimited plan. As it turns out, I had been removed from my grandfathered-in-never-eligible-for-it-again unlimited data plan. After a couple of hours on the phone and me being seriously polite, I was told that I would find out in the next week if they could do anything to help me. Yesterday, I got a text from AT&T letting me know that my unlimited plan had been reinstated. So there ya go. Be nice to people when they're nice to you, and it can work out for you. As for the receptionist from Tuesday, she was stupid. And ugly. And downright irritating. She deserved what she got.

Coming up soon, we have Labor Day weekend. There will be lots of test kitchen recipes and goodies for friends and family. And naps. Lots of naps. I can't wait!

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Galveston Bay

After a fun summer of family visiting, we finally took an opportunity to be the visitors. For a fleeting 24 hour period, we visited the Harrison's house on Galveston Bay. It was so nice to have some time away from home. And we loved catching up with friends. And, of course, our weekend was really helped by some good friends of ours that helped out with Scout while we were gone. We're lucky. What can I say?

What would a weekend with the Shuler family be without me baking or testing out a new recipe? Last week, I helped a friend build her wedding registry at Williams Sonoma. To say the least, it was a dangerous environment for me. I bought a couple of small items (including decor for the new dining room table I get to pick up in ONE month!), but I steered mostly clear of the things I could have gotten in trouble with.

One of the items that intrigued me was a Brookster pan. It's a special pan that looks like an over sized muffin tin. It's specially made for these fantastic little brownie/cookie treats. You could even buy the mix if you wanted to be really lazy. Since we all know that I am cheap and like the more difficult route, I went home and made my own Brooksters from scratch. With a pan I already own. Winning recipe right here.
Cullen's greatest excitement about Galveston was getting to see boats, so we made the pier our very first stop. Cullen got to see so many boats, and he really loved watching them go on the water.  
James flourished in his dad duties by pointing out the fun things to Cullen.
Last time I was at the Harrison's bay house was almost ten years ago. A couple of hurricanes and the passage of time later, the house looked very much the same and so much more beautiful. Ann did an amazing job with the landscaping and decor. I took quite a few pictures this weekend of things that inspired me for our dream home.
 Of course, Cullen was thrilled to find a swimming pool in their backyard. As a mom, it was such a relief to know that we didn't have to get into the open water. Cullen was even a good sport for sunscreen application.
And he was so patient while we got ready to swim.
He couldn't be any happier here. Not at all. 
Of course, Cullen and James shared some deep talks before Cullen decided that it was time to go upstairs.

After a short passage of time, he passed out next to me on the couch. I cherish moments like these.
  We all know that Cullen looks like his daddy. He also snores like his daddy.
After Cullen's late afternoon nap, James wanted to take Cullen fishing. We didn't catch anything, but Cullen enjoyed watching the fish jump.
The next morning, we woke up to an amazing rainstorm. I took Cullen out to the seawall, and we sat in the car and watched the surf roll in. It reminded me so much of loving the beach as a kid.

Of course, Cullen enjoyed lunch over the water before we left town. I felt so classy walking into a restaurant holding the hand of the kid carrying a bag of Cheetos. He was happy, so I think it worked.
After his Cheetos snack, he played with a plantain. He loved making his sad face and happy face. His favorite was pretending to be Grandpa Wiley, because Grandpa Wiley has a mustache. 
Considering my remarkable job of feeding him earlier in the day, Cullen passed out of the car ride home with a jalapeno chip in his hand. I promise we feed him nutritious food... 
Last night, Cullen and I met my mom for dinner at Piatto's to celebrate her birthday. Cullen was such a great sport for a long dinner. He ate loads of bread and played with Wiki Stix. I've never seen them before, but I don't understand why every restaurant doesn't have them instead of crayons. I spent the entire meal making new shapes for Cullen while he played quietly. Such a precious boy and great time with my mom. 
 This weekend, James is headed to the deer lease, and Cullen and I get a quiet weekend at home. I'm holding out hope for a nap together on Saturday!

xoxo ashley

Friday, August 17, 2012

I'll Have S'more Fun

Does anybody remember this little guy from last week? 
His little buddy came in the mail on Monday. And by little buddy, I mean two canisters of butane. Of course, I decided that flaming things up on Monday night was more important than sleep, so I proceeded to make my own marshmallow fluff.

It seems to me that marshmallow is always nicely accompanied by some chocolate, so I whipped up some chocolate cake. Let's be honest here, I only ate one of these cupcakes, and it didn't happen until Wednesday night. On Monday, I ate the toasted marshmallow fluff with a spoon. I have no willpower. None. Not even a tiny little bit. 

Back to the good stuff. I lined up cupcakes along the island, toasted one side of each, spun the entire row, toasted the other side, and boxed them.  
I love how you can actually see the flame hugging the curves of the fluff in this one.  
James was impressed with my skills.
Of course, there was leftover fluff, and James didn't see the merit in eating the fluff straight out of the bowl. So we made s'mores. Tell me you wouldn't have done the same thing.
This has been a fun week filled with time with friends. Lunches, dinners, Williams-Sonoma shopping/registering... I love getting to spend time with our friends, and I've been blessed with lots of that time this week. Next up, we have a weekend filled with more friend time. Can't wait!

xoxo ashley

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Keeping Up

We have really been keeping busy this summer, and we had so much fun while I was at home. I got so many projects done (and so many more started), and we got in a ton of family time.

In July, we got to go to precious Joshua's firefighter themed birthday party. It's a pretty rare occasion that we can get Cullen to wear something other than James' Baylor hat on his head, so I was so happy to see him wearing a firefighter's hat and a smile.

For my birthday, I bought myself an iPad. Since it seemed pretty redundant to have the iPad and a Kindle, I sold my old Kindle on Amazon. I was sad to see it go, but I am loving the iPad, and the Kindle app is really great.
Of course, the day after I paid off a huge chunk of debt, our dryer started to smell like it was on fire. Since we are SO handy (but not at all), James and I took the opportunity to pull the back off of the dryer and check things out. James Googled some things, and I think that made us experts. I'm not sure what was wrong, but it isn't wrong anymore.
 Cullen and Scout have been best friends for almost three years now. They're pretty keen on parallel play. Here, Scout chews on a rawhide while Cullen plays on my phone.
 By next spring, Cullen will be eligible to get started in all sorts of sports. He's been happy to practice catch with James, so I decided to take a video. How cute, right? Father and son play catch with a baseball in the upstairs living room. Mom sits at a safe distance while videoing. Until it wasn't cute anymore, and Cullen popped me in the knee with the ball.
The next day, I bought Cullen a tee ball set. Hollow ball. Outdoors. Much improved.
xoxo ashley

Noah's Birthday

Yesterday, we went out to the children's museum to celebrate Noah's birthday. It was such a fun place for a birthday party, and Cullen had a great time. As usual, James managed to look like fun to the other kids. This little boy asked James to help put his power ranger on the jet ski. Cullen was not pleased. I love it. Possessive little thing. 
Next, we went inside and played in the pretend HEB for a while. Cullen picked out lots of different foods and checked out with Daddy.
Funny enough, Cullen decided that he loved this fish. I'm got half a dozen better pictures of him, but I love this expression on his face when I asked him to show me his fish. So excited!
 After play time, it was on to pizza and koolaid and cake and presents. Cullen had never had Koolaid before, and I think he's in love.  
 He even let us stick some Mickey ears on him for a couple of seconds. 

After the party, we stuck around for just a little bit to play independently. Cullen and James built a great little log cabin. Cullen had a great time.
xoxo ashley

Scout Creations

As always, Scout is staying busy. Here are just a few of the highlights of the last couple of weeks.

I had two baby showers on the same day for two precious baby girls. We had wedding cake cupcakes with a white frosting and pink fondant flowers.
And we had the same cake with a raspberry frosting. Yum.
Yesterday, I got to make cupcakes for a precious three year olds birthday party. Noah loves Mickey, and I was really pleased with how these turned out. A little army of Mickeys.
 For a nine year olds spa planned birthday party, I made these precious cake pops that looked liked ice cream cones. They were a new project for me, and I had a great time with them.
 My fun Scout purchase this week was this precious little blow torch. James has a huge one for BBQ, and I've got a little one for indoor use. The butane arrives tomorrow, and I'm anticipating a lot of melted marshmallows and fun things in my future. Can't. Wait.
xoxo ashley

Grandma Lynn and Wiley Visit

For the end of July and the beginning of August, James' parents got to come in town for a visit. It is always nice to have some extra family time, and Cullen loves seeing his Grandma Lynn and Wiley. For the most part, Cullen has dropped the Grandpa from Grandpa Wiley. As the first grandkid, I think he gets naming rights, and he's taking full advantage.

Lynn got Cullen an adorable firefighter outfit complete with jacket, boots and umbrella. I'm hoping the outfit still fits Cullen for Halloween, and he can use it as a costume and for fun around the house.

Cullen also got to spend some extra time with Papaw. Papaw was such a good sport with Cullen. He watched Cars with Cullen on the way to dinner.
And a couple of days later, Cullen showed Papaw how to work the iPad.
Cullen also learned how funny Daddy can be. Cullen stacked up every pillow on James, and then James would pull the imaginary string.
The pillows go flying, and Cullen giggles like crazy. It's been so fun to watch his laugh make the change from baby giggle to little boy laugh.
One of the days Lynn and Wiley were here, Corie and Will and John and Connie came into town, so we all got together for a quick lunch. 

Cullen thinks he is so sneaky. He loved standing behind Grandma Lynn on the couch and then popping up in front of her.  
For our last meal together, we had a great dinner at the new Rudy's out by our house. Cullen ate bread, a brownie, and a huge sucker. Sometimes Cullen being happy is all that counts. 

Before we know it, we'll be celebrating Cullen's birthday, and we're hoping to have James' parents back in town then. We can't wait!

xoxo ashley

She Works Hard For The Money

I've got two weeks down at the new job, and it isn't so bad. I've gotten in a day trip to the Dallas office, and I got an award at the annual bowling event. Maybe it was an award for being a part of the lowest scoring team, but we don't need to worry about that.
I've got a great job with a great company. I'll just call it lucky.

xoxo ashley