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Ta-Da!

14 Jun

Some of you may know that I’ve been working on a website re-design for…ummmm…awhile.

It involved learning the absolute fundamentals of website structure, like what exactly is HTML?

It involved hours and hours spent in front of the screen trying to figure out how to put a straight line right where I wanted it (or almost where I wanted it) or how to make the background white or figuring out how to get the social buttons to align horizontally rather than vertically.

There may have been some fist shaking. And some cursing.

It’s harder than it looks.

And the perfectionist in me wants to continue nit-picking and obsessing over details. It’s not even finished and it could always be better. But the timer went off. The deadline has come and gone. It’s time to let go. It’s time to share. So let’s call it a work in progress.

The new website can be found at kissymonsterblog.com. Tell me what you think. What is working? What needs to be improved? I know about some glitches and gaps (darn content reformatting) but let me know what could be better.

In the meantime, I’m just going to hide over here. I can’t look. I’m too nervous.

Yay Me! Cake

10 Jun

Celebrations require cake. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And since we were celebrating my big promotion this weekend, I made the ultimate chocolate cake. Its official title is the Wellesley Fudge Cake and I found it here on Cakespy but I’ve decided instead to call it the Yay Me! cake.

It’s so rich and fudgy- this isn’t the kind of cake you make often. This is a special treat. An extra indulgence. Tender chocolate cake layered with thick fudge frosting.

And oh man, is it good.

The highlights reel

9 Jun

Well hi. I feel like it’s been awhile. That was my fault really. Time does fly, doesn’t it.

To catch you up on the latest news, here are the top 10 happenings in the last few weeks. Our little family highlight real, in no particular order:

1. I got promoted! It’s now Assistant Director Rebecca. Yay me!

2. The impossible has happened- I managed to get 100 people (half of them kids) through a culinary extravaganza and no one got hurt. There was even liquid nitrogen. And knives. And hot surfaces. You can read about it here.

3. I officially decided that my maternity leave starts August 6 after learning that my place of employment does not (as standard practice) offer paid maternity leave. As in ZERO days of paid leave. But if you work a little magic with sick days (and vow to yourself that you won’t get sick next year) poof!, a three month paid maternity leave appears.

4. Henry learned how to kiss. To kiss- you smush your faces together and say “Mmmm-WAH!”

5. Henry laughed victoriously as his long hair continued to mock me.

6. Our family started its trek into normalcy as we consider (ugh) a second car and a double stroller (double ugh).

7. My little brother and his lovely fiancee FINALLY announced their wedding. I can hardly wait!

8. This might be the best banana bread ever. Especially when you add a ton of chocolate chips and walnuts then sprinkle sugar on top.

9. Reality TV season started. I know you’re all excited.

10. Deron continues to impress me for many, many reasons. I love you hubby!

In retrospect

29 May

You know those times where you’re really glad you did something because it had unintended results?

That’s how I felt yesterday.

I made this Smitten Kitchen cake on Saturday. It’s delicious and super easy to make. My cake didn’t turn out quite like the pictures but it’s probably my own fault for not following the directions exactly:

Anyhoo, I ended up sick with a cold yesterday, sprawled out on the couch, moaning in my own self-pity. One of those “Woe is me. Sick on Memorial Day” type things.

But knowing that there was a yummy layer cake waiting in the kitchen, that made the sickness just a little more tolerable. So I cut myself an extra big piece of cake and between the sneezing and snorting, was still able to enjoy my day off.

27 May

See these little flowers…

Those little flowers represent something big for us.

Living in the Chicago-area, in an apartment, without a balcony or a porch or even a sunny window, we’ve never had the chance to grow plants during the summer. No marigolds or petunias or geraniums. No basil sprouting in the kitchen. No flower containers bursting with life.

And it’s made me sad.

Gardening is such a simple pleasure. To get my hands dirty while planting something with a beautiful color or shape or something that smells wonderful, that is a small joy for me. It calms me down. Helps me focus. Gives me something to look forward to. But it’s never been for us. Not here.

But guess what?!

After seven years of living in a dark, plant-less apartment, I now get to grow something! Okay, it’s nothing that big. But our new apartment has a teeny-tiny balcony, no more than six inches deep. And even better, there are planter boxes hanging on the balcony rail. Which meant that summer = plants!

I eagerly waited for the weather to warm up. And when the time was right (which just so happened to be today), I hustled down to buy some plants for our window boxes. I spent an hour wandering up and down the aisles at the Home Depot Garden Center, trying to decide what to plant in our very first window box. In my zealousness, I bought marigolds and geraniums and celosia and creeping jenny and sweet potato vines. Probably too much for our little boxes but I couldn’t help myself. It was too exciting!

The whole family helped plant the flowers. We all watched as they took their place on the balcony. And now that they are hanging in the windows, I walk by every so often just to look at the pretty flowers outside. I’m a happy girl.

So now we wait. And watch. Hoping that our little plants will grow into something bigger.

Happy three day weekend!

26 May

Hey everyone! Guess what? We don’t have to go to work on Monday. Yay!

That gives us plenty of time to luxuriate in the weekend. To find time to relax. To pursue hobbies. To put our busy lives right again.

We’re taking it easy but I have a few fun things planned:

I hoping to make this killer layer cake from Smitten Kitchen.

It’s finally warm enough to plant our window boxes. I’m giddy with the thought of plant shopping.

We’re working on finishing up apartment decoration before the baby comes.

Plus, the beaches officially open this weekend. Time for fun in the sun.

Hope y’all have a great Memorial Day break!

 

Mountains out of mole hills

20 May

In case you haven’t heard, the NATO summit has taken over Chicago. Dignitaries from all over the world are meeting amidst the skyscrapers of downtown and those of us that live here are on red alert.

The protests might get out of control.

Terrorists might try to attack.

The firefighters and police are on stand-by.

Helicopters are circling the city.

People are staying home from work.

“Don’t go near the city unless you need to.”

Traffic is supposed to be a nightmare.

And so far, with all that warning, with all that hype, the biggest conflict we’ve seen involves a 17-month-old little boy that doesn’t like his carseat and who can’t be consoled. Not even with goldfish crackers.

Let’s hope that Henry’s tantrums are the worst drama of the week.