Saturday, December 31, 2011

So Long, 2011

This is the background on my phone right now. There are no words for how much I love it.

According to urban legend, this may well be the last New Year's Eve we ever celebrate. I could stop and think about this for a while, and let the anxiety run its course until I find myself curled up in the fetal position muttering things like "water supply" and "food storage," but instead I will opt to move on and think of happier things. Like a new year looming in the very near distance, bringing with it a chance to throw out things in my life best left behind, and a chance to introduce some much-needed things that have sadly been missing from it. I'm not going to list what these things are. This is not a resolution post. History has proven that if I speak it, or write it down, it will inevitably crash and burn a painful, fiery death. Call me superstitious, or call me smart (both are accurate, in my opinion). Or better yet, text me. Either way, mums the word. I'm not declaring my resolutions this year, but I have made them, and I'm very excited to begin bettering myself.

Okay, maybe this is a resolution post. But not that kind. I resolve not to set myself up by revealing what I've resolved to do. Otherwise I may as well call it a list of things that will most definitely not happen in 2012.

There is one thing about 2012 that I can talk about, though, because it is incapable of being jinxed. It will happen, no matter what I do or say: 2012 may just be the biggest year of my life, with the obvious exceptions of 1979, when I was born; 2000, when I was married; 2001, when I had my daughter; and 2003, when I had my son. It will undoubtedly make the list of top five, and, if the doomsday-ers are correct, and 2012 is the last year we'll be here, then let's just say I'll go out with a bang.

In April my book will come out, and that is a fact. And after that...I have no idea. I have no idea how it may or may not change my life, and that giant question mark is no small amount of exhilarating. I love the unknown, at least about this. I can't wait to see where my little ol' book will go, or not go. Maybe I'll be the next Stephenie Meyer, and within a few years I'll be a household name and my book will be made into a movie and my husband can quit his job because of the millions I'll be making. Or maybe it will only be read by my friends and family and a handful of others and that'll be that. And that will be fine with me. Because all I need is to see my book, with my name on the cover, sitting on a shelf in some bookstore, and I can die happy. But no one knows. And I love that. What an exciting year 2012 will be.

So goodbye, 2011. 2012, I welcome you with open arms.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Heck Yes, I'll Blog

So my sweet sister told me on Christmas that my blog was calling my name, demanding my attention. I thanked her graciously then politely informed her that my blog was the only one missing my presence in the blogosphere. Her response showed the wisdom I've always admired in her. She said, "So what. Write anyway. Write a little bit each day and pretty soon people will start reading again, and maybe, hopefully, even commenting again." (This coming from the woman who deleted her own blog after about five posts in as many months.)


That's basically what she was saying. And I realized she was right. And even if she's not, I don't care. I want to write, and I want to write every day. One of my very besties made it her New Years Resolution last year to blog every day of 2011. (Less than a week to go Rach!) While she didn't quite make it every single day, for the most part she did it and it was awesome. At the time I thought she was crazy but now I'm doing what I do best which is eating crow and doing something I said or at least thought to myself I'd never do. Hopefully this resolution fares better than my own ambitious one last year, the No Sugar For a Year project that was doomed before it began.

Anywho, I'll be here, most days, jotting down a thought or two (or ten or twelve) and basically saying whatever the heck is on my mind. Cause that's the beauty of blogs, and that's why I started this thing in the first place 5 years ago. If you feel so inclined, stop on by and pay me a visit. Maybe drop me a note in the comment box if you feel like making my day. Or not. Whatever. I'll still keep writing, regardless. I may even throw in a picture or two sometimes, if I'm feeling fancy. Who knows? It might get crazy up in herr.

But now I must sleep. And by sleep I mean read for another hour.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Greater Power

Lately it feels like life is spiraling out of control. For awhile it was just because I was so busy, busy, busy finishing my book, but now it's more like things are constantly happening in the world around me that I have no control over, reminding me just how much this life is not ours, but our Heavenly Father's. It's hard for me to think about, that it's His hand allowing all these things to happen, unimaginable things, but I try to have faith that He knows what He's doing, that there's a reason for it all.

I've struggled lately, for a few months now, with a hot bed of not-so-pleasant feelings, primarily numbness towards things I should care about and anxiety, which has peaked to levels it's only been at before when I was pregnant and hormonally crazy. I didn't know why it was, but it was scary. Really scary. To the point where I was scared to leave my house. I went to a new doctor who determined that one of my meds was all wrong for me, and the other had simply run its course after 11 years. Stopping both of these cold turkey and starting two new meds in the same week my final book revisions were due sent my anxiety levels through the roof. I was certain the med changes would make me sicker than a dog, despite the doctor's insistence it would not. He told me to be optimistic. My mom told me to have faith. I tried both, and learned a great lesson in trusting in the Lord and in doctors. I was mildly nauseous and a little drugged-feeling for about a week, but nothing I couldn't handle. And I finished my book, days before schedule.

Throughout all of this, which is and always has been (and will undoubtedly always be) MY trial in life, I have been repeatedly humbled to witness the trials that others are going through. I know everyone has their own trials, and something that can seem minor to one person can be another person's Gethsemene, so to speak. I truly, truly believe this. But I also believe that there are some people in this world whose trials are more than anyone should ever have to bear, more than what most people could ever dream of handling. And as I hear of their suffering, I realize the only term to describe the way I feel is "heavy-hearted." When I think of these precious spirits going through these nightmarish physical ordeals, and the pain and anguish their loved ones must endure watching them go through it and having no knowledge of what the future may bring, I feel a pit in my stomach and a weight in my chest that I know is but a fraction of what they are feeling.

It makes me feel guilty, for spending so much time lamenting my own problems, so minor in comparison. It makes me grateful, that I do not have to go through such a baptism by fire. It makes me grateful for the perspective it provides, for the slap-in-the-face-get-over-yourself wake up call it gives me that I so badly needed. It makes me feel helpless and desperate feeling, that I can't do anything for them, and it makes me grateful, for once, to know that I'm not in control, something that has almost always caused me anxiety. It's these times when I NEED to know that someone much greater than me is in charge, and that through Him, it will all be alright.

I feel so blessed to have the knowledge that I have, and that those I know of that are suffering have it too. It is this, I know, that will get them through their trials, just like it will get me through mine.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Emerald City

My book, Emerald City, is officially available for pre-sales at!
Set for release in April 2012
Go check it out here.
And find it on Goodreads here.

Only six short months away!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's 1:00 am and I refuse to go to sleep. I don't know why I'm so backwards. During the day all I want to do is sleep. At night I hate the thought of shutting down. This time of night, when the house is all quiet and dark has become my favorite time of day. (Even though it's night). It's just me and my phone and a million things to look at, read, and write. Without the guilt of thinking I should be doing something else, cause, hello, it's 1:00 in the morning.

I have begun the countdown for school to begin. I love my kids but they are wearing me down emotionally, which wears me out physically, with their constant fighting. And I know when I say constant fighting you picture typical sibling bickering that happens periodically throughout the day. But no. When I say constant, I mean constant. As in all the time. As in they are literally incapable of talking nicely to each other, or even neutrally. I honestly believe it causes them physical pain to be nice to each other. And I reached my breaking point about a week ago. I've tried threats, grounding, guilt trips (you know, that it breaks my heart as a mother that my children hate each other. I may or may not have lied and told them I cry myself to sleep at night over it), sending them to their rooms, forcing them to give each other compliments, you name it. More often than not lately I come hide in my room and take a nap just so I don't have to listen to it for a couple hours. (oh yeah, I used that one, too: "It's your guys' fighting that makes me want to sleep all the time." I really thought that one would work. They hate it when I sleep. Apparently, they hate being nice to each other more.)

We are definitely in the lazy days of summer. After the chaotic whirlwind that was June and half of July, I've simply boycotted anything that requires me to do more than sit and play Angry Birds all day. My greatest accomplishment of the day today (who am I kidding, of the entire summer) was completing the game. Like, 100%, 3 stars on every possible level. You laugh, but I've been working on this for months! It wasn't easy. Is it sad that it's a toss-up between that and being published for the thing I'm most proud of?

Speaking of being published, did I mention I'm writing the book that never ends? "It just goes on and on and on." Not unlike the Energizer Bunny. New release date: April 2012.

For some time now I've noticed my typing on my little iPhone keyboard seems to have slowed down and I couldn't figure out why. I was worried I had some neurological disorder that was slowing my hand-eye coordination. But then I realized what it is, and it's even worse: I have a permanently flattened thumb pad. "Texting Thumb." I'm not even kidding. Before, my thumb could fly around my qwerty like nobody's business and hit every intended key dead on. (I've even won texting wars because of my super-human speed.) But now I have to go slower to make sure I hit the right key with my sausage finger. It totally makes me feel like Homer Simpson when he's trying to push the right button on the phone but he keeps hitting multiple buttons cause his finger's too fat. That's me and my iPhone thumb. So sad.

Which, by the way, is starting to go numb, so I'm gonna call it a night and try to do that thing you do at night called sleep.

Over and out.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mas Pasteles

I came to put on the cakes I've done since the last time I blogged about them and couldn't believe how many I'd done since then. Wow. So here they all are, in no specific order. Sorry to all of you have seen them already on Facebook. Feel free to avert your eyes if you have.

Sombrero Cake

This cake was for a friend who loves all things Mexican. He was turning 30 and his wife requested a sombrero cake. This cake also happened to coincide with my book deadline, so my sweet husband jumped in and baked all the cakes (8 of them) and carved the sombrero. Then he helped me cover the base in fondant as the Mexican flag and I took it from there. The maracas are fondant and the words are piped out of buttercream.

Macy's Birthday Cake

My daughter was turning 10 and loves turquoise, and the colors that make up turquoise. I saw a cake similar to this on a YouTube video and knew it was the one for her. It is still one of my favorite cakes ever. The top says Happy Birthday, done with my Cricut Cake, and that's wire sticking out of the top with little balls of fondant on them.

Pool Party Cupcakes

My sister-in-law had me do these for my nephew's 5th grade graduation pool party. They were so fun, my first cupcake order. All the toppers are fondant, sitting on buttercream. Pretty self-explanatory.

Treasure Chest Cake

This was my very first official order ever, by a friend from high school for her son's 7th birthday party, a pirate theme. It's by far the most elaborate cake I've ever made. It even has a wooden infrastructure made my my sweet hubby. I could never have made it otherwise. The entire chest is cake (other than the wooden support), covered in hand-painted fondant and filled with chocolate coins, ring pops, and plastic necklaces because I wasn't about to make them. The "sand" is crushed Nilla Wafers and the map is gum paste.

Pool Table Cake

This was also an order from a friend from high school, for her dad's 60th birthday party. This cake was my closest Cake Wreck ever, but--again--thanks to my hubby, I managed to pull it off. (Fifteen minutes before it was due at the party I had a bare, frosted cake still.) For being the near-disaster that it was, I'm pretty proud of my little pool table cake.

BYU "Y" Cake

This was for my 14 year old nephew who loves basketball, loves BYU, but doesn't love fondant. His mother requested a simple, buttercream one-tier cake with a fondant Y. Very easy. He loved it. He even had a tiny piece, even though he doesn't eat sugar. Now that's a compliment!

Soccer Cake

This was an order for a 10 year old girl's birthday who lives for soccer. She wanted a hot pink and purple three-tiered cake with a soccer ball, her name, and a 10 on it. I think I did a pretty good job of realizing her vision. The soccer ball was a first for me, and a huge challenge, but now it's one more thing I can add to my list of things I can do.

Payson's Pool Cake

This cake just makes me smile. It was for my son's 8th birthday party, a pool party. He drew me a picture of what he wanted, that, if I'm being honest, didn't look anything like this does. But he loved it anyway, even sans sharks. All the decorations are fondant, except for the slide and diving board, which are gum paste, and the water, which is buttercream.

MacBook Pro Cake

This was a very last-minute order for a boy's 16th surprise party. He desperately wanted a MacBook (a real one), and that's what his mom wanted for his cake. It. Was. Tricky, and I was disappointed that I couldn't make it silver like she wanted (if ANYONE knows where I can find a silver spray or powder that doesn't smell like death and actually turns things silver, PLEASE!! Let me know!) but she said white was okay too. The desk and Mac are both cake covered in fondant, (the desk hand-painted to look like wood), the Stick-It note and pen fondant, the writing done with a food coloring marker.

Thanks for looking!

Monday, June 27, 2011

How do you spell stress? D-E-A-D-L-I-N-E.

If I don't have an ulcer by mid July I'll be shocked. I have tried so hard not to make a big deal about it, or talk about it to anyone, because a) everyone bent over backwards for my last deadline to help me so much, and I do NOT want anyone feeling like they need to do anything again, and b) because it's my own stupid fault for being such an idiotic procrastinator. But I'm on the precipice of another breakdown much like the one I had a few weeks before my last deadline and the only way I can think of to untie some of the knots that have been multiplying in my stomach is to just put it out there.


There. One knot down, 48,611 to go.

Another reason why I can't complain? Because most of my stress centers around the fact that my cake side business has suddenly decided to take off. I've waited a year for people to want to hire me to make cakes for them and now it's finally happening--at the exact time I need to be focusing on my book. Exciting? Yes. Horrible timing? Double yes. The universe laughing at me? Absolutely. Of course, had I started working on the edits/additions to my book over a month ago when I first knew about it, I wouldn't be in this crappy position. But, between the end of the school year, Cub Scout Day Camp, and, oh yeah, CAKES, life just didn't offer up a whole lot of time for writing. Now, six weeks after typing The End (figuratively, not literally), I sit down to the computer and think, "What was my story about again?" It's like I've subconsciously blocked it all out, like my brain was traumatized by a novel-writing overload and now shies away from it as a defense mechanism. Just give me one more week, brain. One teeny tiny little week. That's all I ask.

One bright spot on my black canvas of doom? My cover. I saw it. And it is a-mazing. Amazing doesn't even cut it. It's pretty much the best cover in the known world. Honestly, I'm a little worried it trumps my story. At least it'll get people to buy it. But seriously, it thrills me to no end and any time throughout the day that I need a quick pick-me-up (so, hourly), I just look at my cover and life gets awesome.

Are you done listening to me whine and complain about all my dreams coming true at once? Me too. I'm going to bed.

Monday, June 6, 2011


No offense, but I'm loving this no comments thing. I wanted to post tonight and normally I'd think, no, it's too soon after my last post, people will think it's weird, or I'll get almost no comments cause they're too close together. But it doesn't matter, cause I won't get comments at all, and I won't worry about who might think it's weird cause I have no way of knowing who's reading! Ah, it's so freeing! Of course, I'll be honest about missing your comments that can't be made, but recent studies show the probability of comments being made if I allowed them again is very unlikely. However, I have devised an ingenious solution to the problem I've created for that small percentage of readers who might suddenly be overcome with the feeling that they just have to say something. Email! Crazy, right? Just put the title of the post in the subject line and make your comment. Viola! C'est facile! Oh, and my email address, if you don't already have it, is up in the righthand corner under "email." Ah, see that? C'est logique! (don't ask, I don't know why the French). It's a win-win situation for all! I'm not a slave to my comment box, and you don't have to feel like you have to comment, or don't feel bad when you don't. On the other hand, I still get to hear from someone who really, truly has something they want to say, and they get to say it! Everybody's happy. And isn't that the point? To find happiness?

As always I've got waaay off topic and am already sure I've sounded like a babbling idiot at some point during this post. But I think I'm okay with that.

In the next year my life is going to take a complete 180. I am going to be thrown into the social mosh pit against my will and everything else inside me. Either my book is going to be a success, and I'll be doing interviews and book signings and such, or it won't be a hit but everyone who's ever known me will read it and want to talk to me about it. The 180 will occur when I am on that side of the social barrier, out in the world, talking, being social, as opposed to where I am now--this side, the sit at home alone all day in my silent house, the phone ringing maybe twice at best, texting instead of calling if at all possible to avoid human interaction side.

I'm a hermit. I'm totally already on my way to becoming the typical eccentric, shut-in writer. It gets worse and worse for me and I know I need to change. I'm going to be forced to change, as soon as my book comes out! We'll see what happens I guess. I think I may need a life coach to prepare me for this. Anyone up for the task? I guess I should clarify life coach/personal trainer. Let me know if you need a project! (by email, of course!)

Saturday, June 4, 2011


I'm in a slump. I think it's the combination of coming down from the high of finishing my book and being down with a head cold all week. At first I was pretty miserable and slept the days away but now I'm not sick enough to justify being in bed all day, but still feel lousy, which is just making me irritable. I'm ready to rejoin the outside world again.

As for my book, well, it's not really finished. Yeah, I wrote to the end and sent it in but now I'm supposed to be adding to it and changing parts and basically...I haven't. I've sat down a couple times and tried, but I think I made the mistake of giving myself a couple weeks off from writing after my deadline, and now I can't seem to get back into the groove. I know I will, obviously. As soon as my head stops pounding and I stop coughing and my sinuses actually do explode from the pressure building up...then I'll write.

I've been thinking about change and how much I hate it. I always have. Small change is good, things that don't really matter in the whole big scheme of things; things like finally, after almost eleven years of marriage, getting new (to us), beautiful furniture in our family room. Things like that are good change, the kind that makes waking up the next day a little more exciting. But big change...I hate it. I know they say change is good, blah blah blah. And obviously there are times big changes are good. But I have a hard time dealing with it, no matter what it is. Especially if it's not so good, and especially if it deals with relationships. I hate changing relationships. Hate them, hate them, hate them. Why can't people and relationships just stay the same? It hurts too much when they change, a kind of hurt my poor heart can't handle. And before you go freaking out that my marriage is in jeopardy or I'm currently in the middle of some crazy friendship drama...don't. I'm just reflecting on life. Because when you're laid up in bed and staring at the same four walls for four days, you think about things. Not that it matters, I'm pretty sure no one reads this anymore, which kind of suits me. My dream has always been to start an anonymous blog and just throw it out there in cyberspace and see who finds it, people who don't know me at all in real life. Then I can say whatever I want without the awkwardness of people coming up to me later to ask about it. It's kind of how I've felt lately anyway. Anonymous.

Anyway, now that I've thoroughly depressed you all (all two of you who might be reading this), I'm off to play some more Angry Birds. Sadly, I'm very close to achieving 3 stars on every single level. Heaven, help me.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bloggin' 'Bout Birthdays and Books

Today is my birthday and I feel like bloggin'. Because if I don't, my reader might be disappointed. This could very well be the first birthday I can remember having that I'm not making a whole big thing out of. Remember the year I had everyone comment anonymously and I had to figure out who they were? And then the year I said I wanted as many comments as possible and I got hundreds? That was awesome. This year, I'm a little eh about my big day. Maybe it's cause it's on a Sunday, the first Sunday birthday I've had in 14 years. (Doesn't add up you say? Figure it out.) Or maybe it's because it's been completely overshadowed by the fact that it's tacked on to the end of one of the most emotionally draining weeks I've had in a long time.

This week was impossibly one of the worst weeks and one of the best weeks of my life at the same time, for two completely separate reasons. I won't delve into why it was one of the worst, but I will say why it was one of the best: because after three years and a lifetime of dreaming, I finished my book. That's right, I finished it. I've written a book. A whole book. It doesn't seem real, like something I really did, but I did! I wrote a book. And tomorrow I'm going to send it in to my publisher at which time we will set a release date. Wait, did you hear that? That was me peeing my pants with excitement. You know how people say something feels like a dream, like it can't be real? They're not kidding. This never seems real. I wake up every day thinking at any minute Ashton Kutcher's gonna pop out from behind my couch with a camera and tell me I've been Punk'd. That would be more believable than this.

So you can see how a little thing like a birthday might not be such a big deal in light of other, bigger things happening. Especially a Sunday birthday. Especially a Sunday birthday that I'm turning 32 on. Blech. Not being super over-the-top ridiculously excited about my birthday? I feel like such a grown-up.

Friday, May 6, 2011

All Day She Wrote

I am beyond exhausted and I just need to write something that isn't making my brain hurt.

It's one week till D-Day (Deadline). I can't believe it. The past few months came and went so fast, the last few weeks have gone by in a blur. Each day that passes is one less day I have to finish this book. I've made a ton of progress, thank goodness. But oh, the stress. My headaches have been out of control. I go to bed with one every night and wake up with one every morning, which I've almost never done. Fortunately they go away from mid-morning till the evening, which is when I do almost all my writing, otherwise I don't know what I'd do. Today I went to my chiropractor (aka cousin Marshall) and he couldn't believe how messed up my back and neck were. He said, "You're stressed, huh?" Uh, YEAH! I even had a shoulder out of place. What?? Crazy. I left there feeling like a new woman.

It's amazing how draining sitting in front of a computer all day trying to think of what to write next can be. Seriously, exhausting. Plus, I can't take naps cause it's precious writing time (okay, I still manage to squeeze one in every few days) so I'm that much more tired. Plus, I'm nearing the end (for real this time, not like last time when I just thought I was) and I still have absolutely no idea how it should end. Every angle I take I wind up in a corner somewhere with no way out. In fact, I thought I had it figured out today only to learn that, no, it won't work. Neither did Plan B. Now it's after 10:00 which means it's too late to call my Idea Bouncer Offer, and pointless to email my Help! I Need Advicer because she won't be able to respond till tomorrow.

So I'm blogging. And playing Words With Friends whenever an alert pops up saying it's my turn.

The good news is I got my title back (Emerald City) and I know for a fact the cover is going to be a-mazing. Seriously, whenever I'm having a day like today and I think I'm going to wind up in the hospital for exhaustion or a mental breakdown before Friday comes, I just think of my cover and all the stress and anxiety just floats away. It's not finished yet, but I have an idea of how it will look and you are going to LOVE it. (Yes, all of you.)

So, that's my life right now. My poor kids will be haunted for the rest of their lives by the phrase, "Sorry, kiddo, I have to write." Oh well, maybe by then I'll be rich off of royalty checks and I'll be able to get them the best therapy money can buy.

Oh, and something else making my life soooo much better right now? My freaking awesome friends who are taking turns bringing me dinner three times a week. I can't even tell you how wonderful it is to realize it's 5:30 and not have to play Rock, Paper, Scissors with Bill to see who has to go get McDonald's. My cup runneth over.

Well...I'm out of things to say. I guess that means it's back to writing. My hands are actually swollen, I'm not kidding.

This is my dream coming true, this is my dream coming true, this is my dream coming true...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Still...More Cakes

Okay, so apparently all it takes is for me to be completely, utterly stressed out and avoiding what I really need to be doing to finally get my butt to my desktop and post the rest of my cakes. So here they are, minus my most recent two. They'll come next.

Mother's Day Cake

This was in my Level 1 Wilton class, learning to do buttercream roses (not an easy thing to do, at least not for me). But I have to admit, I was happy with the result. I turned it into a Mother's Day cake (I think I put the apostrophe in the wrong spot, although grammatically it makes more sense to put it after the "s." The day is for all mothers, is it not?) The best part was when I brought it to our Mother's Day dinner with my family, my dad was all disappointed that I brought a store-bought cake. Best. Compliment. Ever.

Clown Cake (aka Blake's Blessing Day Cake)

This was my second Wilton class cake. Buttercream clowns. Yum. I "made it my own" by changing the colors to light blues and greens instead of the obnoxious primary colors they used in the book and turned it into a baby boy cake for my friend Brenda's baby boy, who was blessed the day after I made this. I think my favorite part about making all those cakes (besides decorating them) was working them into any possible reason to celebrate so I could give them away.

Rainbow Cake

First cake ever. Yes, you can totally tell. (Please note I would never have chosen to make a clown cake or a rainbow cake of my own accord.) Not much to say about this one, except that by the time I was done, I never wanted to shoot frosting out of a star tip again. Oh, and it fell on Macy's birthday.

Tomato Cake

This cake also makes me laugh. Because it's a freaking tomato. That's a cake. But when Payson's birthday rolled around, I knew it was what I had to make. (Because the boy eats tomatoes like they're chocolate.) If I were to make this now, I would make it a tad more tomato-shaped and, well, just plain better. But for being my second fondant cake, it was a pretty cute little tomato.

Mario Cake

So my Brenda has been so fortunate as to be the recipient of not one, but two of my cakes. Lucky her. This one, however, gives me the warm fuzzies because she bid on a cake made by me in an online auction to help my aunt who has breast cancer. And she won! And it made my day. She requested a cake that had anything to do with Super Mario Bros. for her son's 6th birthday party. I knew I would never in a million years be able to sculpt a Mario, or any character for that matter, so I bought Nathan a little birthday present and stuck a Mario figurine in the top. Brenda, you can't tell me now that you don't see how lopsided it was!!

That's it for past cakes. Coming up, my two faves to date: treasure chest and Macy's 10th birthday cake!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Blah Blah More Health Crap

Hiya. I'm really really gonna try to make this short.

So...finally, got all the lab test results back. And.....................................a big. fat. SIGH. Sigh because of course it's great news to hear you don't have celiac, and that you don't have the MTHFR gene mutation, along with not having any common food allergies, or any food allergies that anyone knows of, and that everything else checks out fine and dandy with the exception of high blood sugar and the ten kinds of trees that I'm apparently pretty allergic to. Great news, but a big fat sigh what. That's the $1,000,000 question. Well, this is the "now what" that my doctor and I came up with: diet and exercise to control my blood sugar (these doctors and their radical treatment ideas) and taking an antacid daily for my acid reflux, along with actually avoiding the list of foods I was given four years ago that make my reflux go crazy, which it has been lately, and which I'm thinking is the most likely suspect in this case. As for the trees that don't like me, well, seeing as I don't know an elm from a cottonwood or a birch, it's probably gonna be pretty challenging for me to avoid them. Plus I can guarantee their crap is blowing all over the place in this lovely Pasco wind. But doc and I didn't talk about those, so, that's on the back burner of my treatment right now.

So, besides a few OTC meds, it's diet and exercise. Really? After all the garbage, all the testing, the procedures, the meds, etc. it comes down to diet and exercise. Ohhhh, I get it, like being healthy. Interesting. I guess I'll have to give this "being healthy" thing the old college try. Watch, I'll probably try it and something crazy will happen, like I'll suddenly lose all this weight, or something bizarre like, have energy. Ha! Wouldn't that be something.

So that's my health update as it stands now on this here 4th of April. We'll see how it plays out from here. In the meantime, hopefully I can start blogging about interesting things again.

Spring Break....wake me up when it's over.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Results Show...

So today I got my lab results. And as backwards as it sounds, I am ecstatic because I tested positive for something. Somethings, actually. Let's see if I can remember all this. First my doctor told me that the food allergy panel came back normal, but that I had some serious antibody resistance to several environmental allergens. This was surprising, because that makes me think pollen, hay, pet dander, etc. and I've never had an allergy to anything like that before (that I've known of). Next she told me that all the general stuff that they tested, like anemia, kidney function, liver function, Vitamin E, etc. was all normal. She said, however, that my glucose/blood sugar levels were a tad high. Like, tiptoeing across the line of diabetic. Like, one number below the number where you're insulin dependent. They tested my levels now, which were high, and for the last three years, which were high, and have been steadily increasing. I asked her if this was a result of my diet of 40% carbs, 60% sugar, and she said maybe, but not necessarily, that people who are becoming insulin dependent start to crave carbs and sugar like crazy, so actually that's what could have been making me want nothing but sugar to eat. Yeah, we'll go with that theory. So, she said, we need to watch that. You think?

Then she brought up the one I'd been waiting for: celiac. She said this was what she wanted to talk to me about. Here we go, I thought. We have a winner. She told me I tested the same as I did four years ago (halfway positive) but that I only got tested for part of the celiac panel. Apparently she made a mistake and ordered a "complete" celiac test and not an "extensive" test. Luckily the lab people can still test my blood they already have for those other two things and I should hear back in a day or so. She did make it sound like it's a pretty good possibility that I have it, and depending on what these other tests say, she may want me to have another endoscopy/biopsy. THIS time with gluten in my system.

Then she asked me if I've ever heard of the gene mutation called MTHFR. My jaw literally dropped because my friend Mary Ann, the absolute guru of all things food allergies/digestive issues/etc. had told me about this MTHFR just a few weeks ago, the first time I'd ever heard of it. She said it's a hereditary gene mutation that can cause a lot of the problems I'm experiencing, and often goes hand in hand with celiac. I decided to wait to see what this testing showed before bringing it up to my doctor. So when my doctor (who is actually a PA but I love her) told me I should really consider being tested for it, I just couldn't believe it. Mary Ann, you really should be getting paid for this. Anyway, they can't test my blood that they already have for MTHFR so I have to go in and have more drawn and then she'll get those results back in a day or so. So, we'll see if I have that.

So, no definite answers yet, but finally getting somewhere. I start to get hopeful and excited and then I catch myself and think, "No. Don't. It can't actually be happening. After so many years of feeling like crap I can't actually be getting an answer, I won't suddenly start feeling better due to some simple findings." I just can't believe it. But I guess we'll just have to see. I think I'm pretty due. I've done my time, I'm ready to collect on some reward here.

In the meantime, I get to report for jury duty at eight bloody thirty in the morning tomorrow! So super excited. Except I'm not. At all. Unless by excited you mean completely dreading it and having serious anxiety about being trapped in a courtroom all day, then, yes, I'm out of my mind with excitement.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"So...good news. I saw a doc today."

So I saw my regular physician today. It. Went. Awesome. We were both completely on the same page. She ordered up a lab workup of all the general stuff, just to be sure, (like thyroid, cholesterol, all that good stuff), but she added anemia, Vitamin B, celiac, and..........drumroll......
a whole food allergy panel. They'll test my blood for all the common allergy foods in adults and test them for antibodies or something like that. She said it's incomprehensive, like, if it says that I show positive for one food then I most likely do have an allergy to it, but if it's all negative, then I could still possibly have something. So, hope for positives! She wants to compare the celiac report from four years ago with the new one, and she did tell me it was a possibility that since I was off gluten for a month when I was tested for celiac the first time, the biopsy might not have shown signs of celiac. So I finally got that question answered. Anyway, I practically skipped out of the office I was so thrilled to have got what I wanted and to be so close to getting answers, even if it just eliminates some possibilities. So tomorrow morning I'll go in (after not eating for ten hours) and get poked. Has anyone ever been so excited to have a needle stuck in them? Well, maybe drug addicts, but that's neither here nor there. She said she'd get the results back in about three days and she'll let me know. So...pray that in roughly three days I could have an answer, ANY answer! Even if it all comes back normal, those are things I can cross off my list.

Anyway, that's that for now. I wish I had something funny or interesting to add that's not just about my health problems but I got nothing. Although I do find it hilarious that whenever we're reading scriptures Macy thinks "whore" is said "war" and we never correct her, because...why would we? "No, honey, that word is actually whore. Can you say that? Whhhorrrre." Yeah, not likely. So she teaches us about the war of all the earth and the evil people committing wardoms. The best part is that when Bill and I read, we say the word as it's supposed to be said and she never catches on. Love it. Goodnight y'all.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"I'm Just One Stomach Flu Away From My Goal Weight." -- Emily, The Devil Wears Prada

Thanks to all my wonderful friends and family for your advice and supportive comments. They truly were a ray of light during this dark time. I wanted to answer some of your questions and give a little more insight into my health problems. First, Noelle, I think you hit the nail on the head. I somehow forgot to add anxiety to my list of theories. It should have been close to the top, so to speak. I think there is a very real possibility that switching up my meds at the first of the year caused my anxiety to not only return but to return with such a vengeance that it's actually making me physically sick to my stomach. However, the sickness often comes right after meals, and daily, whether or not I feel anxious at all. I know I could be subconsciously anxious and it's only showing itself through stomachaches, but that scares me because then we've just reached a whole new level of anxiety that I don't know how to deal with. How do I stop anxiety that I'm not even feeling? So...I am going to eliminate the physical stuff first, at least narrow it down. I am going to insist on having an IgG food allergy test done (thank you M-A for enlightening me about that) and discuss my celiac tests from 4.5 years ago. (Wow, has it really been that long?) To review for those who know about this and fill in those who don't, 5 years ago I got the flu and it basically just never went away. From the end of May '07 clear through to October of '07, I was miserable: nauseous, sick to my stomach, dizzy, etc. My dr. tested me for celiac. Shockingly, it came back abnormal (one part showed negative for it, the other positive for it). She said it was a pretty good indication that I had it. So she told me to go off gluten right away and scheduled me for an upper GI. After a few weeks off gluten I felt much better, but then the symptoms came back. However, there were a few glutenous things that slipped in my diet that I didn't realize had gluten. Anyway, when the month passed and I went to a gastroenterologist for the upper GI, he did blood work again. It showed it was still abnormal. Then they did the upper GI (sent a tube with a camera on the end down my throat into my stomach). It showed no signs of celiac, but definite signs of acid reflux. But we wouldn't know for sure until the biopsy results came back. They showed negative as well. Then I get a phone call later from the gastroenterologist's office saying they wanted to test me again, because I'd been off of wheat for a month before the test which could screw up their findings. I was so furious and so not willing to go back to the whole celiac possibility that I said " Not gonna happen." Oddly enough, within the month all my symptoms disappeared. All was well, celiac was dismissed forever.

Fast forward to my stomach issues now. Very similar to that summer of gastro hell. It's been going on for months, no rhyme or reason to it, no explanation, same symptoms. So tomorrow I am going back to my dr. and asking to go over all the paperwork from that whole ordeal, have her walk me through it, and see where I'm at now. I'm sure they'll want to run the blood test again, which is totally fine by me. (M-A, are you just bursting with pride right now? ;) So please, cross your fingers, say a little prayer that this time, for real, once and for all, I'll actually find out what's wrong with me. And if this proves ineffective, I am definitely going to look into the naturopath/reflexologist/bio-energetic route. If NONE of these pans out in any way, then it's off in search of a therapist who actually gives therapy, and back to the psychiatrist for another med adjustment, which I'm actually going to do anyway.

Whew! That was probably way beyond more than you ever wanted to know about my health situation. Thanks to those of you still reading. It's friends like you who make me smile even as I'm curled up in a ball of pain in bed. And that's saying something!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Health is Totally Overrated Anyway, Right? Right???

I've spent the last 2 hours scouring medical websites in an attempt to do a brain-frazzling thing called "self-diagnosis." Always a walk in the park.

I'm taking action. I refuse to feel like an elderly person with an over-sized pill divider, constantly complaining about my never-ending aches and pains. But that is what I am, or at least it's what I feel like. But I'm not. I'm a young 31 year old woman who has never been diagnosed with any disease, chronic condition, or illness, other than Acid Reflux. So, pray tell, why do I feel less healthy than the 80 year old man and his drug cocktail? Why does not a single day go by where I don't have at least a headache and some kind of stomach issue, usually nausea and, my current frequent companion, stomachache or pain or feeling sick to my stomach. There have been other symptoms added to the mix recently, of which I will spare you the details.

Bottom line: I'm so over this. It's been 2.5 months and frankly, that's roughly 2.5 months longer than I'm willing to deal with this crap. With no end in sight (and in fact, it's getting progressively worse) I am becoming proactive. I don't trust doctors to have enough of a clue as to what's going on inside my body to be able to make a guess, however educated it may be. When it comes to the perpetually unsolved mystery that is my health problems, doctors and guessing have proven to be less than productive. So I'm researching. And I'm tracking my diet; the time, each ingredient, snacks in between, drinks, even gum--and the resulting effects. Because this is where I'm at now: every time I eat, within a half hour, sometimes sooner, I am completely sick to my stomach. Doesn't matter what I eat, it seems, just has to be food to have me curled up in bed wanting to die. Or running to the bathroom because...well, I said I'd spare you that. It's not vomiting, I'll say that much and leave it at that. So the obvious conclusion to draw would be that it's something I'm eating. But so far I haven't found a connecting factor. I do, however, have a list I fashioned of everything I think it could possibly be. Wanna hear it? Here it goes.

My new anti-depressant. Possible side effect is stomach pain and other stomach issues. Also, can cause ulcers.

Sugar--why not? It causes enough other problems.

Gum--peppermint, aspartame (when I was diagnosed with acid reflux, peppermint was on the list of foods they said to avoid.

fatty foods (fried)--also an A.R. no no.

Pop--carbonated drinks can make the A.R. flare up.

Gluten--I keep going back to Celiac again and again.

Vitamin deficiency--maybe something I'm not getting.

Advil, Tylenol--I've always known too much of these can cause stomach issues, even ulcers. Obviously I've practically lived on them my entire life. Maybe my stomach finally said "when".

Acid reflux--maybe my A.R. has just gotten much worse in general.

Excess stomach fat--it took every ounce of courage in me to put this last theory down, but it's not a big secret where I carry most of my weight, as much as I lie to myself that it is. A big secret. I've been thinking about this a lot lately and wondering if it's actually causing me problems other than trying to buy clothes. Like, legitimate medical problems. It seems totally plausible. I feel like everything in there is being pulled down, down, down. Maybe it's messing up my organs, my stomach. Maybe they'll discover this and tell me I absolutely have to get lipo and a tummy tuck right away in order to save my internal organs and I come out of it with a beautiful flat stomach and no more feeling like death on a stick every day of my life...

Oh sorry, I must have dozed off there for a minute. Dreaming again.

Anyway, I think if nothing else, it's a place to start. My plan is to take my list into my doctor and discuss each one as a possibility. And, depending on what they say, I may or may not demand a food allergy test. (but I really want one). It's just not normal. It's just not a way anyone should have to live. And I'm gonna do something about it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

So I looked back to see when I last did a Teaser Tuesday, and it was over a year ago. Crazy. The funniest part is that I have read and re-read the segment I "teased" several times and I can't for the life of me figure out what part of my novel it would be from. Funny. But weird.

Anyway, I don't have my Teaser Tuesday picture I usually use cause I don't have it on this computer and I have no desire to go searching for it online right now. So without ceremony, here's my teaser:

Something woke me some time later; I had no idea how long I’d been asleep. My head ached slightly and my cheeks were tight with dried tears.

The atmosphere in the room had changed since I was last awake. It was darker, pitch black almost, dead of the night. Silent, except for the rain now pounding outside on my window loudly, which I realized was the source of my wakening. My apartment had grown colder, but I wasn’t cold. Why wasn’t I cold?

I shifted, and instantly felt the body beside me.

© A. Leppert 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ambien Express

Yup. It's 1:42 am, I'm laying in bed awake with my phone, and I took my sleeping pill almost two hours ago. You know what that means! You're about to take a ride on the Ambien Express right into Crazy Town. I'll be your conductor, engineer, all that good stuff. So climb aboard and keep your arms and legs inside the moving vehicle at all times. Enjoy your ride.

Speaking of trains, I'm reading a book about a train. Well, it's not so much about a train as it is an elephant and the pretty lady who rides her and the young college drop-out-turned-circus roustabout who falls in love with her. (the pretty lady, not the elephant. Although--little known fact alert--Robert Pattinson wasn't too keen on playing the main character Jake in the movie adaptation until he saw and fell in love with the elephant he'd be working with. Just a little movie trivia for y'all) Anywho, here's the thing!! I'm pretty sure they completely bloglifted my idea for this story! Ring any bells? Maybe this will refresh your memory:

Rudolfo's sobs could be heard from the trapeze. Ever since Absiddy's confession, he had been beside himself. How could she do it? Renesmee was his sister. Despite her big hair and freaky voice, he loved her. She was the only sister he had. He had been traumatized enough when he'd heard of the freak avalanche that had taken her life while on vacation in the Bahamas, and now to learn that not only was she murdered, but at the hands of his beloved Absiddy! It was just too much. He had to get away.
Putting his unicycle in his pocket, he stalked out of the big top and whistled for Poopsie, his elephant. Climbing on, he patted her head and said, "Well girl, I guess it's just me and you from here on out." With a broken heart and black face paint streaking his face, he headed toward the highway, thoughts of revenge filling his brain. With one last glance over his shoulder toward the tent that had been his home for almost a year, he started on his journey.
He had no idea where to go. Somewhere he was needed. Somewhere he would belong. Somewhere with warm weather and a TGIFridays. Suddenly, he knew exactly where to go. With a new found hope, he turned Poopsie westward. He only hoped Celine Dion could use him in her act.

YeH, just a little too "coincidental" if you know what I mean. I should at least get in on some of these royalties, or at the very least a kiss from Rpatz. See, I'm not unreasonable. I'm willing to negotiate.

Okay, but in all seriousness, I am loving this book. Old time circus life has always intrigued me, and I love the writing. Simple, easy to follow, written like people normally talk, but still amazing writing. The downside is there's been some pretty naughty parts. Well, only one so far but I'm fairly certain more will come. It sucks cause I love the book! If they could just leave out the raunch...oh, in case you haven't caught on, I'm referring to the book Water For Elephants, soon to be a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon and the aforementioned Rpatz. (That's Robert Pattinson to the layman) I'm pretty sure the movie's gonna be rated R and I will cry.

I got a new phone today, through no fault of my own. I was trying to do a good deed and make my husband's dream come true, and it completely backfired on me and what do I get? A brand new phone. I know, right?? So here's the whole heart-wrenching story that for some inexplicable reason I'm going to tell in a caveman/broken English way. Just roll with it. Boy need smart phone. Boy have new busy calling at church. Boy think time to join 21st century. Boy research. Boy say AT&T better. More plan, less money. Also, contracts not over six more months. Girl say AT&T crap. Girl counting down days Verizon get iPhone. It is dream for her. She will wait six long month to finish contract with crap provider even. But boy want phone now. Girl want boy be able have new phone. Much debate ensues. If boy get phone now with AT&T eligible upgrade, girl also have stay with boy at AT&T or pay double if separate. Girl's Verizon dream slip from fingers, to make boy happy, have nice new phone. So boy and girl go AT&T to upgrade. Evil monsters at AT&T say "just kidding upgrade. Not eligible even though we tell you last month you eligible today. Boy and girl very angry. They shake fists and gnash teeth and storm out never return. Boy sad. Girl sad for him. Then girl has idea! "we go Verizon. We pay AT&T kiss-off fee. We make switch, girl get Verizon, boy get new iPhone 4 he dream long time of. Boy and girl go speak nice people in Verizon. They say, you come us. We give good plan. We give new iPhone 4 for fraction of price. But to girl they say, you have to have new phone. No can use old phone here Verizon. You have new iPhone 4. Everyone happy. We do happy phone dance, much like rain dance but drier. Now boy have dream phone, girl have dream phone, both have good network provider not crap, Verizon have business and AT&T are cry very much they miss us. Everybody wins! And that's my story of how my selfless thinking scored me a new iPhone. See? Thinking of others does pay off. In the form of the hottest new technology.

It's 3:00. I really should wrap this up. Tomorrow, if I actually remember, I'll do a real Teaser Tuesday, with an actual exerpt of my book. And one day in the near-to-distant future I'll post the last of my cakes. Okay. There you have it. We've reached the station, the Ambien train has come to a stop and is shutting down for the night. Hope you had a wild and crazy ride like I did. And no I will NOT be sleeping with my phone tonight, why do you ask?

Monday, February 28, 2011

It's 12:47 am and I'm mildly tired but not ready to shut things down yet. I got into the most wonderful routine of reading a book on my phone every night, sometimes for hours, before falling asleep. But this month the book we're reading for our book club my sister owns a paperback hard copy of (you know, like a book with papers) and I couldn't justify paying for a digital copy of it just to have the luxury of reading in bed, in the complete dark when I can read the actual book for free. I'm sort of hating it, reading a real book. Having to turn pages, and find your place when you go back to it, having to use both hands to hold the thing...the worst part, besides the no bedtime reading, is I am a Word Thief. Not to be confused with the Book Thief. No, I steal words, plain and simple. I steal them, and I collect them, and I catalog them away in a gorgeous leather bound journal for later use. I can't tell you how many times I've reached up to tap on a word in the paper book to highlight it and read the definition that pops up. Certainly I could keep the journal next to me as I read and write them straight in there, but, eh...The funny sad thing is that this book, our reading group book, is about a woman who, after getting hit pretty hard with the recession a few years ago, is experiencing the same things her grandparents and great-grandparents did during the depression. She cuts out virtually every frivolous thing in her life and starts living frugally. And here I am whining about having to read actual books, that were, like, so five minutes ago. The irony is not lost on me. But if you think about it, it was my frugality that caused me to choose the free stone age book instead of paying to have it nice and conveniently on my phone. So, points for that, right?

Speaking of buying extravagant "wants" (not needs) when I probably should be making my own croutons out of stale bread and putting on layers of clothes instead of cranking up the heat (which I am natorious for)...I've been typing this entire post with a crazy huge ear-to-ear grin that would probably creep the Joker out. Why? Oh, nothing big. JUST THAT I AM OFFICIALLY A PROUD (giddy, deliriously happy) OWNER OF MY VERY OWN MAC BOOK PRO!!!! seriously, every time I think about it I get flutters in my stomach and I just start smiling like a fool. We researched, price-compared, researched some more, shopped around, and researched some more. Then finally, tonight, after a long and painful drawn-out wait for someone who has less patience than she has the ability to resist taking a nap, it was time. We found the perfect one, at the best price, and hit "buy now". That's it! No going back! Wild horses couldn't drag me back even if I could. No way. I have breathed, ate, slept, dreamed this laptop since I got my first book deal offer last summer. See, the mini laptop that I'm currently working on is Bill's tiny little school laptop that he takes to school. When it's home, that's what I write my book on. Funny thing though, (and by funny I mean putyourfistthroughthescreen infuriating) is it's got this quirky little habit of jumping the cursor to some random paragraph three paragraphs above and decide it would be fun to highlight said paragraph when I go to try and move the cursor back to where I need it, and then...oops! Delete it. Or, two out of three times I try to scroll down the bar on the side, it freezes. Just decides it doesn't feel like budging another millimeter. So I get to shut down my computer while saying a prayer that the auto save happened to catch my last two paragraphs that I'd worked on for a half an hour. So. Much. Fun.

So you can see my desire, my NEED for an amazing, dependable laptop that won't screw around with me for kicks and that will be fast and amazing and silver and pretty! I actually read this in the aforementioned paper book I'm reading: (I couldn't believe it when I read it) "A great computer to a writer is what an arrowhead is to a hunter." Hi, justification! Come on in! Make yourself comfortable. You can have a seat right next to validation and my ugly pet, smugness. Even the writer couldn't get around justifying paying a pretty price for a new laptop for herself. A surgeon couldn't perform without his scalpel, right? I rest my case. Plus, I am using my very first royalties check (eek! It finally came!) to purchase my new toy, so I am turning "business" money right back around into my "business". See? All kinds of justification flying around all up in here.

Wow. It's 2:00 now. And I think I just spent the last hour trashing books, blabbering about stealing words and reading in the dark, Grinning like Joker and going into way more detail about buying a computer than you ever wanted. Hm. Oh well. I promise I'm not drunk. Just high. Don't freak out, it's just a little bit. It's my sleeping pill. Things I've written are already looking a seeming very fuzzy, as is the stuff I'm saying now. Oh what a masterpiece this should turn out to be in the morning.

Ugh...morning. I have to wake up early, actually shower and get dressed and ready to be at my kids' school at 8:30 to help my big Sis out at the book fair. Then I have to go grocery shopping as soon as I'm done there to actually get any form of eat-worthy food in this house, then get Bunco prizes, figure out what to do for dinner for Bunco, and clean my disaster of a house byTuesday evening. I'm beginning to stress out that I won't get everything done.

One last thing, cause I know you're wishing this was over ten minutes ago. Oscars. I can't not talk Oscar for a minute. Colin Firth Best Actor = perfection. Sexy, humble, funny, self-deprecating...seriously doesn't get better than that. Love Natalie Portman, happy for her Best Actress win. Sad that Hailie Stienfeld didn't win best supporting actress cause I LOVED her in True Grit and even more after seeing her sweet princess/ballet tutu dress she wore that was sweet, beautiful, and totally age appropriate. Happy for Christian Bale taking home the best supporting actor, although not so much a fan of the bushy beard. I panicked for a minute that he was going all Joaquin Phoenix on us. And who knew the guy had a strong Welsh accent? I was so blown away! I think every movie I've seen him in he had an American one. Except maybe The Prestige. Yeah, I'm thinking now I have heard it. Anywho, James Franco and Anne Hathaway weren't as painful to watch as I thought they'd be, although I did find myself wondering where James was half the time (Anne was out there almost the entire time, bouncing around stage. When James came on, he always had this goofy, dazed look on his face like he was high and trying not to laugh about it. It's like Anne sucked all the pizzazz right out of him, and he just stood there peeking out from heavy-lidded eyes, baking.

Anyway, I'm really really tired now. I'm going to attempt to go back and read what I've written and if needed, prevent myself from probable humiliation tomorrow.

Leppert. Out.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

More Cakes

Purple Polka Dot Cake

This was my second fondant cake. The whole thing was supposed to be purple but I didn't have enough purple fondant so it became two-toned. And that's all I have to say about that.

Red Black and White Cake

I pretty much love this cake. You know, cause it's my favorite color scheme and all. And it was my first 3-tiered cake. And first zebra stripes.

Rachael's Birthday Cake

My very last Wilton Class (Course 3, Fondant and Gum Paste) happened to fall on a certain neighbor/friend's birthday, so my final became her birthday cake. The orange was actually more of a red that somehow, between class and Rachael's house, turned orange. See the blurry little finger poking into the left side of the picture? That's Addy's (Rachael's toddler), and two seconds after this picture was shot she started squishing all the little border balls with that tiny little finger, one by one.

Snowboarder Cake

I can't look at this cake without laughing. For his birthday, Bill requested (demanded?) a very elaborate snowboarding cake. See, the thing with Bill is that he gets these very grand visions in his mind of what he wants something to turn into, without ever considering the fact that most of us don't have the skills to accomplish said masterpiece. Also, we'd been watching a ton of Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes at the time, and so I think he was thinking I could whip out these amazing cakes as fast and easy as they do on the shows. Um, yeah, no. So I had to gently explain to him that his snowboarder/mountain scene would, in fact, be sans ski lift. Sorry honey. Maybe next year. However, I don't have much room to talk, since the vision I had in my head was, well, let's just say a LOT better than the actual finished product. My mountain could have looked a lot more...mountainy, and although I was pretty thrilled with my little Bill snowboarder, someone pointed out that he looks an awful lot like Mr. Bill, of SNL. "Oh no! There's a cliff! Help! Nooooooooooo!" (Can you hear the high whiny voice?) Anyway, I still loved the cake, but it was a little more homemade looking than I would have liked.

Pumpkin Cake

This cake, however, I think is pretty rockin'. My family enlisted me to bring a cake to Thanksgiving dinner and after searching online, I found one like this that I thought I could replicate pretty closely, with some revisions to "make it my own." My biggest fear in all this cake decorating business has been that I am in absolutely NO sense of the word, an artist. I can't draw anything that's not stick figures, I can't sculpt or mold things to save my life. (See Shayla? One talent I do NOT have!) There is a lot of sculpting in 3-Dimensional fondant cakes and I avoid it at all costs. But I thought I could try a pumpkin. Just a ball with a few places carved out, right? Well, I carved with a little too much gusto in parts, but all in all I was very proud of my pumpkin. Then I surrounded it with fondant leaves, flowers, and acorns (which I also hand-molded, I must say--the acorns, not the flowers and leaves) and put them all in a "basket" which was just a buttercream basket weave cake. I absolutely loved the result! It was exactly what I had envisioned for a fall harvest cake.

Up next: The cakes off my other computer. Yes, there's more.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Okay, I don't really want to do a post for each cake so I'm lumping them together. These are not in order of when I made them, because only some of them are on this computer and I really don't feel like going through the whole rigmarole of transferring them from the other one right now.

Spring Cake

This was my Course 2 (Royal Icing) final.
It's a buttercream basket weave with royal icing flowers on top.

Watermelon Cake

I saw this on the cover of a magazine at the store and knew I had to make it for the 4th of July. However, like most of my cakes, I completely ran out of time, so the finished product didn't look as much like the one in the magazine as I'd hoped, especially since it was pink, not red.

Blue & Brown Polka Dot Cake

Align Center
This was my first attempt at fondant, before I'd even taken the class. I was too anxious to work with it, so I just dove in and tried it. It's hilarious to me how good I thought it was at the time. But I guess it could have been worse for my first time and no instruction, eh?

Cowboy Boot Cake

My wonderful sister-in-law had enough faith in my cake-making/decorating skills to commission me to make her son's 6th birthday party cake, which was a cowboy theme. She found this cake (or something akin to it) online, but, upon making it, I quickly realized the all-red version, however adorable, would not only be disgusting, but impossible, as I still had never managed to get anything redder than pink. I could NOT take a pink cowboy boot cake to a 6 year old boy's birthday party, so I hastily dreamed up this brown version, with a red star I fashioned out of pre-colored fondant. (What would I do without that stuff?) All in all, I was pretty pleased with the end result, and I think the birthday boy was too.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Lower Lights


A Hymn Revival

(See above poster for details)

Click here to learn about the music.

Click here to buy tickets.

Hurry fast! It's sure to be a good time.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Miami Heat Cake

Okay, so I finally stopped being lazy and uploaded pictures off my camera onto my computer. People have been telling me to get my cakes on my blog so I'm finally gonna do it. Also, you can finally see the amazing Christmas gift my sweet hubby got me that I've only mentioned about three times on here. So this is a cake I made for my nephews 11th birthday celebration. He loves basketball and his favorite team is the Miami Heat, and one of his favorite players is Lebron James. When I saw this cake online I knew I had to do it (this is the one I made):

Definitely my favorite cake I've done so far. Bill forged Lebron's signature (his was waaaay better than mine). But I had the privilege of making an itsy bitsy stencil of the NBA logo and drawing it on with less than fine-tipped food coloring markers.

And here is the most thoughtful gift I've ever received:

My wonderful husband had the idea to get me an official chef's shirt to wear when I bake my cakes. He then found patches online, one that was the Food Network logo and one that says "competitor." He had my mom sew them on and embroider my name on the front (in red, so that the shirt was red, black and white). Then, on top of that, he secretly put together my "portfolio" for me that I've always said I need to do. He printed off 8 x 10's of every cake I've made and put it in one of those clear essay folders with my Wilton certificates in the front. It was amazing. Seriously the best present ever. I definitely married a winner. And now I feel so official.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Contest Winner Revealed

Wow. This is going to be so hard to pick one winner! First let me say thank you to everyone who participated and put such awesome thought into coming up with really good ones. I was nervous people would be too embarrassed to put their ideas out there, but you guys rock! I have the best readers/family/friends!

So now to the hard part. First I'm gonna break down the ones I loved in categories:

The Funniest:

--"This Ain't Forks" and "A Stones Throw From Twilight" by Rach. Purely awesome.
--all of Bryan's well-researched historical factual suggestions. Totally made me laugh.
--Oh, Lisa, Lisa, Lisa. You know I love your entire list, you heard me howling as I read it. My particular fave is "Daleesha's Memoirs. And "Ball Splitter".
--Marcus and Ashley's (not sure who came up with it) "Clowdy With a Chance of Love." Love it!!

It's too hard to pick my favorite serious ones, especially cause most of them were really similar. I'll pick a few though:

"Moving Darkness" (Alison)
"Darkness Shining" (Noelle)
"Shot In The Dark" and "Love Under the Umbrella" (Lyssa)
"Emerald Flame" and "Brilliant Haze" (Marilyn)
"Dark Love Rising" (Ashley)

Honorable Mention definitely goes to Lyssa for the most ideas given. You are awesome!

I had too many favorites to pick just one, but obviously I have to narrow it down somehow. Since I didn't see any suggested titles that screamed out at me, "THAT'S IT!! THAT'S MY TITLE!" (sorry guys, no offense, I promise!!) I'm going to have to pick the one that sparked an idea in my head that turned into me finding the first title I think I could really use. Only it was two people, actually. I took one part each of one of their entries. And the tied winners of my Book Title Contest are...........drumroll.........................................................................................

Bryan Davis and Marilyn Lott!!!!!

Bryan said "Maynard Town" which made me think to use a nickname for Seattle ending in City. Then Marilyn said "Emerald Flame" and there it was: Emerald City. Ya know, from The Wizard of Oz? Seattle adopted the name a long time ago. And while I'm not yet officially choosing it as my title, it's definitely the first one to go on the Possible Titles list. And since the whole point of this little competition was to help me come up with title ideas, I think it's an appropriate way to pick the winner(s), don't you?

So, Bryan, Marilyn, you will now be written as characters in my book. Aren't you excited??? You'll be famous! (ha. ha.) As for the rest of you, again, thanks so much for playing along. I loved it!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Title Contest

It's 2 in the morning, I'm wide awake, and I took my sleeping pill an hour and a half ago. You know what that means...It's Super Crazy Idea Time!!! (Picture me saying that like Oprah saying it's her birthday.)

Yes. I have had yet another ingenious idea that may or may not still be ingenious in the morning, but let's just go with it, shall we? So here's today's Super Crazy Idea. (My last one had me heading up a monthly book club the following morning.) I think it would be wicked cool to have a little contest involving my book. (Let's just hope there's no microscopic print in my contract prohibiting me from doing this.) See, I'm having trouble coming up with a title for it. So I thought it would make a great blog contest for my readers to come up with one! Now, I realize virtually all of you have no idea what it's about, but that's ok. It will make it all the more fun. But, because I'm cool like that, I'll give you a couple hints to help you along:

1. It's a love story. 2. It's kinda dark 3. It takes place in Seattle.

So, taking your newfound wealth of information, think up a fabulous title and put it in my comments. I'm not in any way saying I will use any of the suggested titles, but, you never know. However...............drumroll...............the person who comes up with the title that I like the best WILL be written into my book. As in their first name as a character in my book. Wouldn't that be awesome??? I think so! I'd write myself into it if it wouldn't be totally ridiculous! Leave as many titles as you want, I want a ton! The contest will go from now (cause I know you're all reading this right now at 2 in the morning) until Saturday night at midnight, PST. The winner will be announced on Sunday.

I'm so excited! Get brainstorming and commenting! Ready......set.......GO!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Featuring: a cake, a book, a movie about cooking, and orange salad

Remember when my blog posts had a theme or a topic? Yeah, those were the days.

On Saturday I made what I like to think was the best cake of my pretend cake career. (I say pretend because you can't call it a career until someone is willing to actually pay you for it.) I wish so much I could put a picture of it on here, but for some reason the good people at Blogger (or is it Apple? I never know who to blame in these situations) decided they didn't want to make it possible for me to be able to post pictures on my blog from my phone. A plague on both their houses. Tomorrow, though--nope, strike that. Later today--when I'm not laying in bed in the pitch dark I'll get on my actual computer and post a picture of both my super cool cake AND the most amazing, thoughtful gift my husband gave me for Christmas. I promise they won't disappoint. Okay, I can't promise that, but if you're disappointed you're lame.

I just finished The Book Thief. Firstly, let me say how much I love the Kindle app. Secondly, how is it that a book all about death is not horribly depressing? Something to ponder.

Bill and I watched Julie and Julia for the first time over the weekend. I loved it, and here's why: 1) because it features two husbands, both of whom are incredibly loving, affectionate, and unswervingly loyal and supportive of their wives. A rarity on the big screen. 2) because the entire movie is about 2 women doing something for themselves that they are passionate about, to have that "thing" that makes them feel significant, to do something--anything--that truly matters to them and is just for them. This strikes a chord with me. I have always, always felt the importance of this for people, specifically women, more specifically moms, even more specifically stay at home moms. We need to not just be moms. We have to retain some sense of self, something outside of carpooling and washing dishes and (thinking about) making dinner. My sister pointed out to me the other day how, between us 3 sisters, we each have our "thing." She plays the cello and loves it, my other sister digital scrapbooks like it's going out of style and even has her own online store, and then there's me with my writing. So very cool.

I had my first really serious temptation last night at Sunday dinner at my Mom's: orange jello salad. You know, with the cottage cheese and mandarin oranges? Heaven in a bowl. I loooooove it, can't get enough of it, and there it was in all it's lumpy splendor on my Mom's counter, just begging me to take a heaping spoonful. But I didn't. I couldn't. Because then it would all. come. undone. So I sighed and moved on to the broccoli. That's almost as good, right? (You can't see it, but I'm gagging.)

Well, it's almost 1:30 so I guess I better sign off. time, whenever that may be.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Little of This and a Whole Lot of That

Blogging two days in a row?! That's insanity! But I've found something I can do as I lay here waiting for sleep to find me. Plus, Rachael, you've totally inspired me with this everyday blogging. I wish I was reading The Book Thief, but, you know, I wouldn't remember anything I read in the morning. I'm gonna do my favorite kind of post: totally random things I've been thinking about.

-- If I was gonna break my No Rated R movies rule, it would be for Black Swan. It completely intrigues me and it kills me that I can't see it. But never fear. I will stay strong and abstain.

-- On Tuesday I got my hair done, and I went darker. It's like a really light brown. Or maybe a dark blonde is more accurate. Either way it's the darkest I've ever been in my entire life. I'm completely torn between loving it and missing the blonde so much it hurts. But it's closer to my natural hair color now that I've gotten older (blech. Why can no one stay blonde forever?) and for that reason I think it's better. Maybe. The crappy thing is that no one outside of my immediate family has seen it! I'm so curious to know what everyone will think.

-- Something that's not fun, is going through all the "friends" that Facebook suggests for you, and seeing names of people you could have sworn you were already friends with.

-- I can honestly say that learning Verizon will have the iPhone next month and not being able to switch from loathsome AT&T for another 7 months when my contract runs out is causing me physical pain.

-- Watching my kids play the Kinect gives me immeasurable amounts of joy. There is nothing like seeing their little bodies jump and twist and spin like that. I, on the other hand, have only attempted it in complete solitude, and the results weren't pretty. I think I even saw my Avatar personal trainer laugh at me when he thought I wasn't looking.

-- We made a family goal this year to read the entire Book of Mormon, and to read it every day. I am proud to say we haven't missed a day yet.

-- I didn't think I could possibly hate a reality tv star whose show I've never watched more than Lauren Conrad. Enter Snooki.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Every day I think about blogging; sometimes I even have something specific I want to write about. (I can never remember if the word after a semi-colon is supposed to be capitalized or not. I'm gonna say no. Please don't correct me if I'm wrong. No one likes a know-it-all.) But I just cannot seem to find the time. And by that I mean I have been sooooo lazy lately. Which is why I am blogging in the wee small hours of the morning as I lay in bed--the only time I am motivated to do anything. The only problem with this is that I take a sleeping pill before I go to bed. If you've ever paid attention to sleeping pill commercials, they warn against taking a pill and then not going to sleep. Which is exactly what I do. Every night. Why do they discourage this? Because there have been many reports of people doing things they don't remember later, like eating, or driving (???). So, let's just say I've sent many an email, updated many a Facebook status, even sent a few embarrassing messages that I don't remember in the morning, until I get a reply and it all comes flooding back. (It's the closest I'll ever get to experiencing getting wasted and remembering nothing the next day.) So...what I'm about to write may sound fantastic in my head right now, but in the morning, who knows? Guaranteed I won't remember that I posted at all until I see a comment in my inbox. It'll be a fun surprise in the morning. "Ooh, what did I write?!"

So there's lots of stuff I want to update on or talk about, and plunking it out on my phone is sure to be tons o' fun. What else am I gonna do all night? Sleep? Ha!

--Year of No Sugar is still going strong. I am on Day 13 and loving it. I feel so good about myself. And although physically I'm not doing too hot, emotionally and mentally I feel amazing. It's hard to tell if my physical problems are STILL my body's reaction to being cut off of sugar, or due to other unrelated factors but I just keep telling myself it has to get better. At some point I will be rewarded for this. The cravings are completely gone. I don't bat an eye at my kids' sugary snacks. The few times a day I want something sweet, I eat an all-natural, no added sugar fruit strip thing. (I have no idea what they're really called but they taste exactly like the homemade fruit roll-ups my mom used to make in her fruit dehydrater when I was a kid, that we called Fruit Leather). Or, I'll have an apple with peanut butter. Those are my desserts and they totally get the job done. I feel like I can do this forever!

--The unrelated factors I was referring to are med changes. Those two words alone make me want to run away screaming. But it was time, and necessary. But terrifying all the same. Trying a new medicine is scary enough. Coming down off the old one is downright petrifying. I am trying to go as sloooooooow as I possibly can with it to avoid getting sicker than a dog, but avoiding all the withdrawal side effects is virtually unheard of, so I'm just trying my best to grit my teeth and forge ahead. I could be in for months of nausea, dizziness, and basically wanting to curl up and die, but I'm willing to do that if it means finally finding a light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. And, whether it be from the no-sugar or the med changes, something is definitely working, cause I haven't felt this good in a long time. The fog has lifted, the walls are lowering, and I'm remembering what it feels like to laugh.

--Still making cakes and loving every minute of it. Now I'm just looking for excuses to make them and use my Cricut Cake! Want to be my first official customer? Drop me a line.

--And the best is saved for last. Imagine, if you will, a knock on your door. You go to answer it, and standing there is someone who says, "Hey, you know that lifelong dream you've had? Well, today it's coming true." Only in fairytales? Not so, my friend. This very thing happened to me 3 days ago on Monday, January 10th, 2011. A day I will never forget. The day I was told that the contract to finish my book was happening now, not whenever I got it done, as originally planned. Today I signed a contract with a publishing company who will publish my book when it is finished come May. It will be on a bookstore shelf near you come fall. My book. Me. Published. Author. Dream. Coming. True. I still can't believe it. Seriously, I keep waiting to find out this is all some sick joke. Jen, if I haven't said it yet, I heart you.

And that is my life at this point in time. Thanks for hanging in there. My thumb is now permanently indented, and I'm going to attempt sleep now. If somehow in this drug-induced rambling I've said something horribly offensive or self-incriminating that will come back to haunt me in the morning, please don't hold it against me. I blame the pharmaceutical company entirely.