Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mock Mommy Purse

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago my strange need to be prepared for absolutely anything. I remember watching the movie One Fine Day as a kid, and my favorite part of the movie was a scene where the mom has to out of the blue make two superhero costumes using just what she can find in her purse, and I wanted to be just like that when I grew up. (I tried to find the clip on youtube, but no luck. You'll just have to trust me.)

When I was in school, my backpack (and purse as I got older) always had everything you could possibly imagine needing for any school project—scissors, tape, glue, colored pencils, a ruler, a calculator—everything that the teacher usually has for you, but I didn't want to have to bother with that. But once I was out of school, I didn't have anything to be prepared for, so my purse just held the usual phone, wallet, and keys.

But a few months ago, I randomly decided one day that I had to stock my purse with all sorts of things just in case any sort of emergency arose. So I went to Target, and bought a mini first aid kit, Q-tips, a fold-up brush, a Tide To Go pen, and about a million other things that seemed like they might be important to have one day.

But of course I couldn't just throw them right into my purse, or it would be a huge mess and I'd never find anything. So I'd been meaning to make a purse organizer all this time, and finally got around to it today. Hit me with your best shot Murphy's Law, I'm ready for anything!

So what's in my non-mommy bag? Let me tell you:

Tide To Go
Lint roller
Febreeze To Go
Hair-ties (my hair is about 2 inches long, but other girls are always needing them)
Scotch tape
Hot pink duct tape
4 different kinds of glue
4 AA batteries
Safety pins
Cough drops
Band-aids (in all shapes, sizes, and colors)
Alcohol pads
Nail clippers (with file)
Hand sanitizer
Wet wipes
Girly things

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

3 Down, 16 to Go

Samples for my bridesmaids' belts. I like the bottom left one best. Plus, it happens to be a million times easier to make than the other two. Which will help when I'm making 16 more of them.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I so admire people who can be open and let share every part of themselves with others. Sometimes I think of things that I'd like to blog about, or tell someone, or just get off my chest, but I'm so afraid of offending someone that I keep it to myself. I rarely even write in a journal, and even then never anything negative or embarrassing. Because what if someone finds it and reads it? What will my future self think? Or my future kids? What if something happened to me and my mom read my journal to try to feel close to me, and the last thing I had written was that I was mad at her about some unimportant little thing? I guess maybe sometimes I worry too much about what other people think or making other people happy, but that's just part of who I am.

A few weeks ago, I read this beautiful letter, written by a woman to her father who had committed suicide 16 years prior, when she was only 9 years old. One sentence especially stood out to me. She said, speaking of her family, "Everyone is beautiful and funny and full of life, but we're all a little broken and finding our way. Dad, just so you know, most people are broken; so I don't blame you." Everyone has weaknesses and insecurities. Everyone has traits they wish they didn't and things they'd like to change about themselves. I know that sometimes when I think about the things that annoy me the most about myself, I try to blame it on someone else. "It's because my mom did/didn't do this with me when I was a kid" "My dad said this to me and it scarred me for life" "My brother teased me" "My sister did this" "My friends did that"

Sometimes it might even be true that something I do or think now is the "fault" of someone else, but that's just the way life is. Everything that we are is the result of the experiences we've had. And even if I am a little broken because of some of the things that have happened to or around me, so is every single other person on this planet. That doesn't mean I need to hate those who may have affected my life negatively. Because you know what? I'll bet you anything most of them changed my life a million other ways for the better. And even if they didn't, they're still a part of what makes me who I am today, and that's something I'm thankful for.

Monday, June 27, 2011

2 1/2 Weeks

That's how much time I have to finish everything on this to-do list for my wedding.

About 10 down, 65 to go.

And this to-do list for Girls' Camp.

My 10th year of camp, 3rd as a leader, woot woot!

And in my free time, because I'll have so much, all of these unfinished projects.

3 skirts, 4 dresses, 3 purses, 1 tote bag, 1 big floppy hat, 1 swim coverup, 1 pair of shorts, 1 purse organizer, 1 coat, 1 quilt, 1 pillow, 3 wallets, 2 teddy bears, and 22 sock monkeys. That's reasonable, right?

And maybe try to keep my room from looking like this the whole time I'm here.

Why yes, I am using my bed as a closet. I sleep on the couch.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Growing up, like most little girls, I dreamed about being like Cinderella. Except instead of dreaming that a Cinderella story would happen to me—meet a handsome prince, get married, become a princess, live happily ever after—I wanted to be the Cinderella at the beginning of the movie—cooking, cleaning, sewing. I know it's crazy, but I actually enjoy folding laundry, scrubbing toilets, hand washing dishes. I love taking care of people, doing whatever they ask to make them happy and get them ready to go to the ball. When I was 8 and 9 I spent all day helping my big sis get ready for the prom, but by the time I got to high school I never even considered going to my own.

All you feminists out there might get mad at me, but I just really really enjoy being the classic homemaker. I'm not saying every woman's place is in the kitchen, if you want to go to work then that's awesome. But my place—the place that makes me happy, the place I go if I need to relax or de-stress—well, it is the kitchen. I always thought the perfect life would be to get a job as a housekeeper/nanny in some big mansion. I would cook and clean and take care of kids and essentially be a housewife, only without the bother of having to be married. And then my dream came true, and my big sis asked me to be a stay-at-home-auntie. Life was perfect. And then I met Brian.

I quickly fell in love, and within 6 months found myself engaged and preparing to keep my very own house and make my very own home. I cook him dinner and do his laundry and it's the best thing in the world. But then I realized that before I can be a housewife, I have to get married. And I'm finding I'm much more cut out to be a wife than a bride. I hate being the center of attention, I hate having opinions and making decisions. And, I HATE having my picture taken. Which leads me to today.

Brian's boss was kind enough to take our engagement pictures for us. And bring an assistant. And all sorts of lighting equipment. And the best makeup artist in Reno. It was quite the production, I felt like a supermodel. Not fun, for me at least. It was fancy and all, and I definitely appreciated it, but it would have been much more exciting if all the attention had been focused on someone else. Brian kept talking to me and making jokes so I would laugh and smile, and he was even nice enough not to kiss me (I'm telling you, I'm super shy, we've still never even kissed in front of his family). And when all else failed and I felt like running in a corner and hiding behind a bush, I just looked at these beautiful things on my feet, and all was right with the world. I don't even think I'd mind the paparazzi if I was wearing these.

The most beautiful shoes I've ever seen. My first pair of heels (I was convinced that heels made me too tall, even if I am only 5' even) and the first shoes I've bought in 10 months. Even better than glass slippers.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Check, Check, Check, and Check

This has been a quick trip to Reno, but a productive one. We've gotten a lot of decisions made and to-do list items crossed off. Here's just a few.

Figured out the game plan with Lee for my dress. I gave her a sketch and measurements, she got some patterns and muslin, and now we're on our way. I'm so excited, she's an amazing sister, don't you think?

Finally chose and booked a photographer. Brian was very picky, being a photographer and all, and made sure we found someone incredible. I can't wait, we met with her yesterday, and she's so cute and fun, and super talented of course!

Registered! This was my favorite part of planning so far. But of course I've been making wishlists of things for my future home for years, just for fun. Some people waste time away on Facebook or Youtube, I waste time looking at whisks and vacuums.

Looked at cruises for a honeymoon. We haven't booked it, because we want to be sure it's the best choice and we get the best deal, but we're pretty sure which one we're going on.

Tomorrow we'll get another check on our to-do list because we're going to do our engagement photo shoot. I'm kind of excited, and kind of... well, I'll tell you abou that tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

May Cakes

I'm finally getting around to telling you about the cakes I made last month, now that this month is almost over. I lost a lot of the pictures I thought I had taken, so I'll just have to tell you the exciting adventures I had trying to make a Mother's Day cake. But first, here's a picture of my dad-in-law-to-be's birthday cupcakes. Because they're much cuter than anything else you're going to see or read in this blog post.

Before setting out to make these, I didn't realize how few Peanuts main characters there are, nowhere near 24. I also didn't realize how many relatives Snoopy has.

Back to the Mother's Day cake. I don't know if I've mentioned before that all four of Brian's brothers live in Reno, so once or twice a week EVERYONE gets together to hang out or have dinner. It's super fun, and completely weird to me, because all of my siblings had moved out of the house by the time I was 10 and since then we all get together in one place less and less often. Last Christmas was the first time in seven years. It was a little overwhelming the first time I decided to make dinner for everyone and realized there were 10 adults and 5 kids to feed. But I love it!

Anywho, for Mother's Day, everyone was going to get together at Brian's brother's house, and he asked me to make a cake. Of course I agreed, and was super excited. I know that Brian's mom likes red velvet cake, so I thought I'd take a shot at it. I had also seen lots of cute layer cakes all over the interwebs with different colored layers. I had been dying to make a cute pink to red one, and figured this was the perfect opportunity. (What the cake was supposed to look like, only red.)

As often seems to happen, particularly when I really want something to turn out well, I somehow found myself not even starting to make the cake until 9 or 10 pm the night before the big day. And Murphy's law took full effect. Murphy and I are great friends, we hang out all the time.

Problem One: I had used up about half of my red food coloring, but mistakenly thought that half a pot of Wilton's no taste red would be enough for just one little cake. Not true. The layers ended up ranging from sickly beige to light peach. I wish I had pictures to prove it, but you probably don't, they weren't pretty. How in the world do people make red velvet cake such a dark red? For an entire cake, not just one layer?? With regular food coloring instead of the super concentrated fondant colors I used??? If anyone knows where I can get some magical red food coloring that actually works, please tell me. Until then, I'll just try to avoid anything red.

Problem 2: I fell asleep. While the cake was in the oven. The very last layer that had finally gotten almost kind of sort of red. I fall asleep while cooking more than I ought to admit. It's a problem that comes from cooking at 3 am.

For a fleeting moment, I actually thought about using it anyway. But I didn't want anyone to break their teeth.

Problem 3: I thought I had some sort of mixing super strength and that I could whip up a beautiful fluffy cream cheese frosting with only a rubber scraper. I don't know what I was thinking, apparently my brain was asleep the entire time, even when I was awake and semi-functioning. It seemed like a good idea, because I didn't want to wake everyone up by using the stand mixer.

How in the world did people make frosting before electric mixers?

Problem 4: I don't know how to make frosting. In the morning, I came to my senses at least a little and used the stand mixer instead, but it ended up way too soft. Maybe because there wasn't any room in the fridge so I just covered it and left it on the counter for the two hours I slept.

Much better, but I don't think cream cheese frosting is meant for decorating.

Problem 5: I don't know how to use frosting. I haven't done much decorating with frosting, because fondant is much easier for me. But you can't have red velvet cake without cream cheese frosting, so fondant just wasn't going to cut it. But of course I forgot that I don't know how to use frosting, so I tried to copy the cutest fanciest frosted cake I could find.

It looks okay. If you squint a little. And step back a few feet. If you're wondering what I was shooting for, or just want to look at some eye candy instead of all these eye-rotten-tomatoes, go here.

Problem 6: James lives 30 minutes away from Brian. I finished the cake just barely in time to drive it over to the party, but as you might guess, this cake didn't travel well. As you can see in the picture above, the frosting was already to the very very edge of the plate. Add to that my wonderfully soft creamy frosting, a hot day, and a moving car. The frosting slowly shlumped down during the entire car ride, and by the time we got there I had become part of the cake plate. I didn't get any frosting on myself or the car though, so there's something at least. And despite everything, it was delicious. Even I ate a slice, and I hate cake.

And just in case this Mother's Day cake isn't enough of a disaster for you, here's a picture of the Father's Day cake I made last week.

The kids put on the jelly beans, I haven't sunken quite that low. But I did frost it and draw the tie, so I guess that's not much better.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I'm back in Reno right now, only for a week. I've got a lot to cram in between babysitting my nieces and nephew to be, hashing out wedding dress details with my wonderful big sis, getting engagement pics taken, and figuring out a million wedding details because this is all the time I have to get Brian's opinions on things before I go back to Lincoln to do pretty much everything done for the wedding in the mere 2 1/2 weeks of actual planning/getting things done time I have left.

To kick start this big week of decisions, I made some samples of different food ideas and set up a little preview of what the reception will be like for Brian and his family to try out when they cake to pick me up. There are some tweaks needed for a few of the recipes, but the only one that was a definite no was the salted orange caramel shortbread recipe. It seems to be popular right now, but I must admit, I am not a fan of salted caramel. At least not how this recipe did it. It seemed so promising too, but the salt was all you could taste. There may be some hope yet, at least for the carmel shortbread idea, but the salt needs to be cut in half at least.

Monday, June 20, 2011

1 Year

Wow, I can't believe it. Today it's been exactly one year since I very first started this blog. I know some people have hundreds of followers within a few weeks, but I kind of needed to practice and get used to blogging first. Well, today's the day, I'm going to start commenting on other blogs, linking up with buttons, joining flickr groups, and see if anyone likes my blog. It's kind of a weird thing, I feel like I'm going to my first day of a new school and trying to make friends all over again. I've never been one to reach out and try to be popular though, I usually sit in a corner and hope someone wants to come say hi to me. But I'm having a lot of fun blogging, and I want to be better at it and hopefully even meet some of the amazing people out there in the blog world. So thank you to my 8 faithful followers, especially the 2 or three who might actually read this occasionally, and wish me luck!

So, for any new visitors who might stop by and any old friends who want to know why I started this blog, here's a bit about me:

Hi. My name is Kelli, and I want to be a blogger. I want to be a great seamstress and share tutorials for the cutest things you've ever seen, but I've only used my sewing machine about 3 times in the last year. I want to be a fashionista with tips on all the hottest trends, but my closet is full of nothing but thrift shop finds and hand-me-downs. I want to be an interior designer inspiring amazing rooms, but I lived in a neon green and baby pink room for half of my life. I want to be a world class chef with magnificent techniques and recipes, but I'm barely a cook and my experiments fail at least as often as they work. I want to be an adorable momma telling you hilarious anecdotes about my cute kiddos, but I'm just an auntie who's not nearly ready to think about that yet. The truth is, I'm not much of anything yet, and I don't have much of anything to share, but I love doing everything and anything, and I'm setting out to learn all about this big wide world and all it has to offer. So come along with me and join in my crazy adventures, or just laugh at my misadventures.

Friday, June 17, 2011

72 Hours

Most 72 hour kits make for a much more cushy disaster survival, but this is the bare bones, the absolute minimum amount needed to stay alive. If you can make a more elaborate one, that's great, but this is nice and compact, perfect for a college student or young married couple without much money or space.

As long as I can remember, I have loved being prepared. It makes me feel safe and secure, knowing that whatever happens, I will be ready. As a kid I remember having a 72 hour kit—a bag filled with everything I need to survive for 72 hours, the average amount of time it takes to get rescued if you are in a disaster of some sort. Instead of making the kit then putting it in a closet and forgetting about it like most normal people (actually, most normal people probably don't have one at all) I would carry it around with me everywhere. I also had a giant purse with all of my most prized possessions in it, and all the mommy essentials that I might need in a day-to-day emergency, and my entire life savings (stay tuned for my more current super prepared mommy purse next week, even though I'm still not a mommy and won't be for a while). I was only about 6 at the time.

My brother was a pyro, and every time he would play with the fire or even just a candle, I was certain he was going to burn down the house. So I'd gather up my 72 hour kit, my purse, and my cat and sit by the mail box (our meeting spot in case of an actual fire) until he was done. One day, I was playing house with my friend in the front yard—with my purse and 72 hour kit of course—and ran inside to get something. While we were inside, we got distracted by something else, and by the time we came back outside everything was gone.

Since then, I don't think I've really had a 72 hour kit. We have a big one for our family out in the car, but I didn't have anything much for myself, especially away at college and away nannying and all that. But on a whim the other night, I had that urge to be prepared again, so I immediately went to Safeway, bought everything Brian and I would need for three days, and came home and made us our very own 72 hour kits. And if you ever feel the need to be ready for a disaster, feel free to follow along. I've never done a tutorial before, but hopefully this will be coherent enough for you to figure it out.

Milk Carton 72 Hour Kit Tutorial

1. Gather all your food.

I bought what I like and what I could find, but substitutions can definitely be made. Just make sure you stay roughly the same size and nutritional content. Me sure to try to find things with lots of protein, like a beef stew instead of tomato bisque and a nutty granola bar instead of just oats. For EACH kit, you'll need the following:

4 granola bars
1 can of soup
1 stay fresh pack of Ritz crackers
3 packets apple cider mix
4 sticks beef jerky
2 packs fruit snacks
2 packs instant oatmeal
2 packs hot cocoa
2 packs dry soup mix
14 hard candies
18 sticks of gum

Besides the Ritz crackers, I would never eat, let alone buy, any of this. But in an emergency it will have to do. And all of those chemicals in packaged food helps it last until I redo my kit next year.

Can you believe all of that actually fits in a half gallon mik carton? Well, that's because it doesn't. I had to ditch the apple juice carton.

And most importantly, a half gallon milk carton (or cream, or juice), emptied, washed, and dried. If you're actually as prepared as I'd like to be, you can plan ahead. But, if you decide to do this all in one night like me, you'll have to find somewhere to put the milk.

Lovely frothy milk. I know it tastes the same, but there's something about drinking milk from a pitcher that just feels wrong for some reason.

2. Pack your kit.

First, put in your soup can. It will be a tight fit, but it will fit. Make sure that the can is in line with the top of the carton (I don't really know how best to describe it except that the first and last pictures in the image below are at a 90ยบ angle to each other). This will ensure that even when the carton is filled almost to overflowing, you'll still be able to close it.

Stuff the dry soup mixes in the spaces left on either side of the can, then place the ritz crackers between them. Place the oatmeal packets on one side of the carton and the cocoa and cider mix packets along the on side, push them down as far as they will go. Stack the granola bars on each other between the oatmeal and drink mixes, push them down as far as they will go. Push the hard candies into any spaces you can find around the granola bars. Put the gum on top of the granola bars and two sticks of jerky on either side of the gum. Finally, place the fruit snacks on the top and push it all down close up your carton.

It may seem like a bit much for me to give step by step instructions on packing it, but it's harder than it looks. I had to try at least 5 different ways before I could get it to fit.

Fold one edge of the top of the carton slightly over the other, and tape it up.

If it's as full as mine was, taping it closed is probably a two person job.

Print out a menu/instructions (see below) and tape it to one side of the carton. I taped along each edge then added an additional strip down the middle to make sure the whole paper was covered and somewhat protected from the elements.

Day One

Breakfast: 2 Granola Bars

Lunch: Canned Soup, 5 Ritz Crackers, & Apple Cider

Dinner: 2 Sticks Beef Jerky & Fruit Snacks

Snacks: 5 Candies, 6 Sticks of Gum

Day Two

Breakfast: Oatmeal & Hot Cocoa

Lunch: Granola Bar, 2 Sticks Beef Jerky, & Apple Cider

Dinner: Soup Mix & 6 Ritz Crackers

Snacks: 4 Candies, 6 Sticks of Gum

Day Three

Breakfast: Oatmeal & Apple Cider

Lunch: Soup Mix & 5 Ritz Crackers

Dinner: Granola Bar, Fruit Snacks, & Hot Cocoa

Snacks: 5 Candies, 6 Sticks of Gum

SAVE CAN from canned soup to mix in.

For oatmeal and soup, add to can and fill to top with water.

For cider and cocoa, add powder to can and fill halfway with water.

The 3-day menu. We'll be living like kings.

Each person will also need water to survive the three days. If you want to stick with the bare minimum, a 2-liter bottle will be just enough to make everything for your meals. If you also want some extra drinking water, it's probably best to have two 2-liter bottles for each person.

And there you have it. One beautiful, space-efficient survival kit.

P.S. Today I looked up the visiting teaching message, and it just to happened to be on self reliance. That can't just be a coincidence, can it? So I decided to be a wonderful person and selfless* friend and give the two kits I made to the lovely girls I visit teach and make new ones for Brian and I.

*Okay, so I mostly only gave them away because I already had enough of everything except the soup to make two more kits anyway. Plus, I was totally selfish and opened up the kits, dug out the yummy granola bars I had bought and replaced them with dinky ones I found in my mom's pantry. I'm a little disgusted with myself, but they're really good granola bars!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Paper Hearts

One day as I was roaming around Etsy, I stumbled on this adorable paper heart banner. It was an amazing idea, but seemed simple enough, so I filed it away in my brain as something I should try to make some time.

Now that I look at them again, I realized I forgot the strip down the middle. It does help shape them a little, but I kind of like it without, if I can find another way to hang them. Oops.

Well, now that I'm getting married, I have something to make them for.

Trying out a few styles to see what I like best.

My mom was kind enough to help me cut out a zillion strips of paper.

All glued together in neat little paper heart packets.

Trying to mix them up randomly, because it's too much effort to

A few hours and two glue sticks later, I have 50 paper hearts, ready to be strung and hung!

I love the way they turned out, I just might even do a tutorial some day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Piggy Party

I feel like it's been ages since I've made a cake, I guess I just got so used to making about one a week for a while. I still haven't even posted my May cakes, because Brian has the pictures, but hopefully soon. There were some cute ones.

I learned from experience and filled the pans much less than a normal cake pan.

Yesterday I went to a "Pink Piggy Pigtail Party." I can't exactly do pigtails with my super short hair, so I thought I'd better go all out with the pink piggies. And with my wedding coming up I need to learn how to use those mini tiers, because last time didn't work out like I'd hoped.

They definitely didn't sink like last time, quite the opposite.

I used the cake recipe I used a while back for Lee's birthday cake, the first time I stepped away from a boxed mix. Mostly because I knew that I could bake it almost twice as long as it called for and it would still taste ok, so there was no way I could mess it up.

Some bakers smash down their cakes to make them flat, but I prefer to cut off the tops, because then there's some to snitch.

I tried to do the frosting for the crumb coat without a recipe. Bad idea. It was really runny, which was a little hard to spread evenly, but actually helped it to dry quickly.

I've gotten decent at cakes, now I need to work on my frosting.

Then I decked it out with a quick batch of bubblegum pink fondant.

Just a simple dotty pink cake.

I've decided I enjoy making pudgy little animals.

No piggy is complete without a curly little tail.

I even won the Pink Ribbon for the best dish at the party!

The adorable award was made by Tessa of Perfectly Precocious.