October 9, 2013

Baby's Big Reveal

Have you ever found yourself in one of those moments when you have the opportunity to really help someone out but at the small cost of your own sanity? You absolutely know you should keep your mouth shut, but you can't. And you don't. And you most always end up biting off more than you can chew.

Well on Monday afternoon I sent a good luck text to my friend Sondra who was having an ultrasound done the next day that would reveal her baby's gender. I asked if her husband Erwin had been granted time off to go with her to hear the big news. Naturally, the Army does not care about such matters, and as any superwoman military wife would do, Sondra seemed to have accepted that that was just the way it had to be. After I decided that simply would not do, I found myself once again in one of those 'can't keep my mouth shut' moments. Gender reveal party planning in 24 hours? No sweat!

Brad said it well post-party last night as I collapsed into the couch, cursing my sore back, depleted bank account, and tired eyes: "It wouldn't have been true Kayla if you hadn't put your whole heart into it." Half the battle was finding everything I wanted to make my vision come together at our only local store, Walmart. Ugh.

But it did come together! Quite fabulously if I do say so myself. And even though we will be finding pink and blue glitter confetti hidden away in obscure places all over our home for the next few months, it was so worth it. What a privilege it was to be the first to lay eyes on that one simple word that means so much to a growing family and will define the next years of their life.

The actual reveal was done with cake pops, and they turned out so cute! I made them with just the inside core colored pink or blue, so the mom and dad-to-be found out if it would be a little princess or prince after biting into them. I've had many people ask how I made them, so I thought I'd share the idea here:

Colored-Core/Gender Reveal Cake Pops


Inner colored-core:

1 box funfetti cake mix
1 jar funfetti frosting
Food coloring of your choice
  1. Mix cake batter according to box directions, adding food coloring of the desired core color
  2. Bake as directed and allow to cool completely
  3. Add food coloring of the desired core color to frosting 
  4. Break cake into crumbles and mix in entire jar of colored frosting
  5. Roll sticky mixture into balls the desired size of core, keeping in mind that the outer later will make them much bigger (mine were about .75 inches) 
  6. Place in the refrigerator for a few hours

Outer layer:

1 box funfetti cake mix
1 jar funfetti frosting
Lollipop sticks
  1. Mix cake batter according to box directions (NO food coloring)
  2. Bake as directed and allow to cool completely
  3. Break cake into crumbles and mix in entire jar of frosting
  4. Cup small amount of sticky mixture in the palm of your hand and create an indentation in the center with your thumb
  5. Place colored cake ball that has been refrigerated into the center and continue to add to it until an enclosure has been made and you cannot see the color anymore
  6. Roll until smooth and place on a cookie sheet
  7. Press lollipop sticks into the middle of each ball
  8. Allow at least a few hours or overnight to chill in the refrigerator

Cake pops:

1 bag white candy melts
Cake pop stand (optional but helpful)
  1. Melt candy melts according to bag directions
  2. Dip refrigerated cake pops into the melts, holding onto the lollipop sticks
  3. Place upwards in cake pop stand and immediately add sprinkles
  4. Allow candy coating to melt and refrigerate until served

Congratulations Sondra and Erwin on your sweet baby BOY! We are so happy for you and honored to have been a part of your celebration.

October 1, 2013

Ruby Tuesday

Brad grew up with an incredible canine companion named Red Rover, or simply, Red. He was handsome, a self-proclaimed lap dog (although very large), loyal, and a bit of a doofus at times, but above all he was very loved. Red passed away peacefully of old age this December. Although, much to Oliver and Lola's pleasure, Brad now classifies himself as a "cat guy," I have always known that his heart carries a special place for dogs because of Red.

Now we all know I am about as crazy as the crazy cat ladies come. Owning a dog was never something my heart truly yearned for, and the training challenge always felt beyond my scope of knowledge. As an all around animal lover, I of course enjoyed time spent my friends' playful pups, but I even more so enjoyed watching them pick poop up out of the grass after scolding he or she for attempting to eat it. YUCK.

Well, karma and puppy fever have finally won. My days of poop scooping are here as are days full of what I am finding to be one of the best kinds of love --- puppy love. Brad brought this sweet girl home to me last Thursday.

Although she is not quite the same bold hue of Red, "Ruby" just seemed to fit. Her name is a small tribute to a great, old dog and a new one, who will hopefully bring the same amount of happiness to our lives. Ruby amazes us every day with her abounding love, trust, and expanding world. It is such an incredible thing to watch her learn. Her most recent achievement has been successful stair climbing. You would have thought Ruby just won an Olympic gold metal the way Brad and I cheered for and praised her at the top of the steps. We are proud pup parents, to say the least.

So far Ruby has been a dream to train, and her temperament really cannot be beat. When it's quiet time, she cuddles. When it's play time, her happy puppy prance says it all. She has not had one single accident inside. Yes, you read that correct. Not one! She doesn't make a single peep from her crate at night. She trots happily right along beside us on our walks. She lays right down in the passenger seat and rides quietly in the car. When you pick her up she leans hard into your chest, which is possibly the best feeling in the world. In the words of one of Brad's friends, "Is this real life?! It's like I'm snuggling a fluffy cloud!" Everyone who has met Ruby has fallen hard in love with her. She has absolutely stolen our hearts.

And the best part? Ruby is so gentle and calm with Oliver and Lola. My biggest fear of getting a puppy was that it would ruin the personalities of our perfect cats. I researched very in depth how to appropriately introduce them, and so far it is going really well. It will be a slow and cautious but worthwhile process. Right now we have a gate up between Ruby's room and the rest of our place. The cats have been creeping closer every day for a view of the (fluffy and harmless) beast of the master bathroom. We joke that they think they are at the zoo peeking between the bars. So far they have gone nose-to-nose through the gate with no hissing, escape runs, or fear in general. Stay tuned for future pictures of the three of them snuggled up together. Is that too much to hope for?

Even though she is already so well behaved, we will soon be enrolling in some basic puppy training classes together. My ultimate goal is to train Ruby to become a therapy dog. I've experienced first hand on the oncology unit I used to work for how they can completely change the mood of a hospital room, and Ruby's personality is perfect for the job. Everybody can use a little canine love in their lives. Even me. The crazy cat lady who is currently in transition to equally crazy dog lady, all thanks to our little Ruby.