Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Recipe and first days of summer

So I made these a few days ago. My neighbor, Ann, who told me about them, calls them the "3-3-3." Because you need 3 ingredients, and you bake on 300 degrees, for 3 minutes.

They are SO easy and such a quick fix for a salty and sweet craving.

A bag of Rolos
A bag of pretzels (the smaller size of pretzel, the size where if you put a Rolo on top it would fit)
A bag of regular M&Ms

Put down a piece of wax paper on your baking sheet. Put pretzels on top of the wax paper.

Then, put a Rolo on top of each pretzel. See my glass of wine in background? That is an important element too.

Bake on 300 degrees for 3 minutes.
Then, take them out of the oven and put one M&M on each one while the Rolos are still soft.

Now eat. A lot. They are awesome. Then make some more.

On to other stuff:

Summer is officially here.

We have been to the pool and we have scraped our knees on the cement. Aren't those two things that define summer?

We have taken bike rides and explored a nature path.

Lily's idea - and it was a great one! Put a skewer stick (like one that you use to grill kabobs) inside of a yogurt cup (we use Danimals). Put it in the freezer. Once frozen, cut the plastic part with scissors and it is a yogurt popsicle!

Today was one of those mornings where I just couldn't get motivated to do all of those things a mom needs to do. It was a struggle getting the dishwasher unloaded, the laundry changed over, the kids dressed, myself showered. I am always thinking in the back of my mind...I should be doing more to entertain my kids. I always try to plan at least one fun "outing" or "event" per day that is JUST for the kids. So I look forward to that while we are doing the humdrum of the day's necessary tasks. Today we went to a school's playground that has always caught our eye. It has this giant climbing thing with circles in the middle. Kids were pumped to try it but we couldn't figure out exactly how to use it.

They didn't care. Lily was adamant about figuring it out. She gets that from Daddy. I would have given up after 1 minute. 

Had a little PB&J on the asphalt under the basketball goal. Kids played "pirate ship" for a long time. Then  they were both thirsty for water. Lily took a sip and then dumped out half of the water on the cement. Then Cole took a sip of the remaining, then dumped out the rest. I have no idea why they did that, but our huge ice water was now gone. Lily screamed that she was thirsty and so she started a meltdown that lasted about 10 minutes. Good times!

As for Lily Cole Designs, I have been working on an embroidery project for a customer. Her children drew 2 pieces of artwork and I am embroidering the images and also stitching on fabric for some of the background. Here is a before picture.

I'll be sure to post "durings" and "after" too. ;-)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Kicking off Memorial Day Weekend

Lately, when I have been telling my children to get dressed for the day, they know to head downstairs to the dryer. That makes me laugh. My laundry priority could use some improvement.

Last night we had a BBQ with some old friends. We are so blessed to have this group. The guys have become close on their own over the years, and we girls have formed our own bond too.

It still amazes me that we produced all of these children. When we first started becoming friends, there were only 2 little ones.

The night carried forward with the dads playing with the children in the backyard. At one point I see Chris trapped in the next door neighbor's yard with the children throwing balls at him. He kept saying, "Ok - enough. Time to stop. Ok, I really mean it this time." He had lost all control and they kept him in that backyard retrieving balls for a while.

Then they all started playing baseball. Dads had a beer in left hand and would pitch, throw and catch with their right hand. Seeing this choked me up because it reminded me of playing with my own dad in the backyard - with a beer (always a Coors Light) in his hand. There was great familiarity and comfort in that moment.

Every few minutes we would hear a loud bang of the plastic bat hitting the ball and shortly after there would be mom, dad and kid cheers from every section of the yard. The kid who hit the ball would run to first base - sometimes left, sometimes right - didn't matter. They were happy.

Lot of sweaty heads and giggles. My kind of night. 

I was sitting on a big purple ball in the yard and Cole "backs it up" into my lap and makes himself comfortable. Don't you love it when your kids do that? I do. Too bad I ended up sitting in the rain soaked grass, getting my ass soaked through my jeans. Ah well, it was worth it. 

The other cute part of the night was watching the littles follow around the first graders. Boy, was Lily ever enamored. And the older girls were so sweet with the little ones.

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Funny day

So this is why I love having a business like Lily Cole Designs. Look at the fun family "portrait" I got to create for a customer. This is a Grandma and Grandpa with their 5 grandchildren. 11 by 14. So much fun. Hopefully it is something that will be treasured.
I am also in the process of creating a logo for an INCREDIBLE new company that will be opening soon in Olathe, KS. I wish I could share more, and I'll be able to soon, but I think it is something that the creative people in this world will adore!

So this morning was funny. Kids and I woke up and slowly got around. The house was a mess, lots of laundry needed to be finished, etc. It was one of those mornings where I would go to put a shirt away and I'd realize I forgot to put on deodorant. So then I put on deodorant. Then I noticed in my cabinet that I was almost out of hair spray. So I go to my grocery list and add it. Then I see my list and realize I had to renew a sold item on Etsy. So I relist it. And then I see I needed to change an illustration for a customer right away. And...and...and. And before I knew it, it was 11 am and we were all still in our pajamas. So at 11:30 we load up in the car. Plan was to go to the Overland Park Arboretum to eat a sack lunch and walk around. Locals - if you haven't been there yet, we highly recommend. Pull out of our driveway and my mom calls. She is sick and needs to go to ER and I need to take her. Yet Lily is starving and mom says "take your time - go to the park to eat your lunch and come get me when you are finished." Well I didn't want to drive in the opposite direction to the Arboretum, so while on my way to mom's general direction, I look at the navigation system for a park. Holy toledo there is a park right off of 151st and Lowell called "Kingston Lake" something. If anyone is still with me through this long story - congratulations - you rock.

Anyway, we pull up and it is FABULOUS. The greatest a "have-lived-here-for-15-years-and-never-knew-it-existed-and-now-we'll-go-there-all-the-time" type of find. 

And we are getting out of the car and I realized I forgot to put on Cole's shoes. God was laughing out loud because any plan I tried to make today flew out the window. We rocked it at the park anyway. Cole didn't care. Who needs shoes anyway?

Holla! There is a lake AND ducks AND geese. Are you kidding me?

See how the babies are dunking their heads in at the same time? Kids. In. Heaven. Fed them most of our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and then an hour later both kids were starving again. Go figure.

Cole is the goose in our family. Love his expressions.

And they even had those cool swings that look like they belong in 2025. I swear I thought Lily was about to fall asleep. I think it is funny how Cole crosses his legs at the ankles. All prim and proper.

Ok, it is 10:55 pm and I need to get back to Lily Cole Designs. And then BED.

Cup runneth over

Lately I have felt like my cup runneth over. Feeling so incredibly blessed for not only the major types of good fortune that has come our way (healthy children, a roof over our heads, love from our family), but also for the fortunes that can easily get overlooked. We have had the most beautiful weather the past 5 days. Better than anyone could ask for. We have embraced that by - during the lighted hours - being outside more than we have been inside. We have glorious friends to share these days with. Markedly, our neighbors. Here are just a few examples of our "outside time."

A little loving on Daddy.

I think Cole might have a little crush. He is always laughing when "Peachtree" is around.

And Keigan? Well, he is pretty much a member of our family. Cole and Keigan are two peas in a pod.

Cole has this new thing where he will lift his shoulders, tip his head, fold his arms and smile a shy smile.

My girl totally rocks her new bike and her Cars helmet. She wants to take the training wheels off this weekend. Chris will get a workout and I need to expect some bloody knees. My girl is so tough, though, she'll probably get it all figured out in no time. She has ridden this bike so much that the tread is already worn off on the back tire.

Today marked Lily and Cole's last day of preschool.

Oh my, all of these children are so special to us.

Some of the moms of the preschool children went out for an italian fare lunch. Of course, we sat outside. After school a bunch of us went out for ice cream. Little Cole is the only boy in this huge group of girls. He has never minded it a bit. As you can see, I think he embraces it.

I wish I would have brought my "good" camera. There were so many more sweet little girls there.
Signing off. Tonight I plan to write about our silly morning today.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Stay young forever. Please.

Cole told me today that when he is 30, he will still hold my hand. I need to get that in writing and have him sign it.

We have had a full day today. I love waking up long before the children because I can not only get work finished for Lily Cole Designs, I can also get myself ready. Translation: easier transition into our morning and more time for FUN.

Cole, aka "DJ Jazzy Jeff" played some Usher and we had dance party USA. He probably shouldn't know all of the words to the "Yeah" song. But he does.

Lily got a manicure with each finger painted a different color.

We played outside this morning. It truly couldn't be a more beautiful morning. Did drive-thru of Chic-Fil-A and had a "back of the SUV" picnic in the parking lot of a nature trail (because the park across the street looked like 2 entire schools were there).

We then went on a nature walk. Picked lots of dandelions, investigated any holes we saw in the trees, asked if the water was a creek or a river and wanted to know the difference.

And yesterday - well, that was a great day too. Chris and I went on a lunch date to the Bristol. We never get to do that. Then we headed to preschool graduation for Lily. Lily has been singing her songs to us a lot in the past few days. As the children were heading down the hallway between all of parents, I saw that Lily's head was on a swivel looking for us. She finally spotted us and we were waving like lunatics - "Here we are! We are so proud of you!" And she beamed. That is the moment that just kills me. I was wiping tears before the program even started. It didn't help that Chris was rubbing my leg saying "she is really growing up." I asked him to only say funny things from there on out.

See that sweet face?

What really cracked me up? The director read off what the kids had answered to a question a few weeks back. Question: what do you want to be when you grow up? Lily's answer: an airplane driver. My baby is going places. Literally.

I was so glad daddy could make it. Last minute he could come. 

Lily's sweet friends. 

After the graduation, we had our first Lemonade stand. Oh boy, Lily was so excited. Most of the kids in the cul-de-sac were not only customers, but also helped make more lemonade and signs. Some of us moms/neighbors and dogs lounged in chairs on our driveway and chatted. These are the most perfect days.

Best part about the sign: it says "Pink Lemonade" and "Plane Lemonade." 

So pumped because I FINALLY listed some onesies on Etsy. I can't wait to make more. Also busy working on a cool custom order. And a couple of embroidery projects came through too. I love my life. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Creative Thoughts

My favorite part of any biography is the part where you learn about not only their childhood, but also about their early career. The part where they are working their asses off to figure it all out, to make it big. They might work odd jobs, they might start something out of their parent’s basement, they might risk every penny saved for their dream. I am always at the edge of my seat at this part. At this stage, these people learn the most about themselves, about risk, about business and about relationships, but more than anything, I believe they figure out what it is they really WANT. Their dreams become even more clear. They are on the brink of becoming rich and famous, yet at this stage they are still real and true and not yet marred by their popularity.

For example, take Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of I was listening to a radio show about him the other day and was fascinated by his “early career” story. In 1995, Bezos and his wife drove a 1988 Chevy Blazer from Texas to Seattle. His wife drove while Bezos typed up the business plan during the car ride. They set up shop in the garage of their 2 bedroom home. Orders started coming in, and the husband and wife pair were packaging/shipping each book themselves – crouching down on their knees on the floor of their garage, no less. As sales picked up, Bezos says, we need to do something to make this process easier. He says “we need to buy knee pads!” And his wife says, “no Jeff, we need shipping tables.” Apparently, what they really needed (and of course acquired) was a warehouse with hundreds, then thousands of employees. Within 3 months, they had $20,000 in sales/month. By the end of the decade, the Bezos’s were billionaires.

Not that I am expecting myself to become famous or rich or anything, but I do really love this stage I am in with Lily Cole Designs right now. I have new designs/ideas/products coming out of my ears...constantly, yet I am hungry to learn and do even more. At this stage of my life, I choose to spend much more time with my kiddos than on building out all of these designs and new products, but it sure is glorious to create, think and dream during these pockets of non-kid time. And it sure is fun to think about the future risks we'll take, the opportunities that arise, and the relationships that will form.  

I also find myself daydreaming about what my kiddos will become someday. Lily is a lot like "Olivia" in that she wants to be a doctor, a pilot, a truck driver, and today she wanted to be a dentist. She played with this play-doh dentist toy for almost an hour on the driveway tonight. 

Cole wants to be a superhero. The other day Cole said to daddy, "Daddy, I don't want to play sports" and I thought Chris was going to wreck his car on the side of the road out of disbelief and despair.   ;-) Hilarious.

Speaking of designs, here are some new illustrations that are in my Etsy shop (this was originally a custom order): 
And here is a card designed for a friend who is getting married and wanted thank you cards for wedding gifts, showers, etc. 

Here is another custom order I created for a gal's mother in law who loves to cook. She always uses her big green tupperware bowl and wooden spoon. I really love custom orders. Bring 'em on! I swear, the best ideas come directly from customers!

It's only 9:26 pm. Earliest finished post so far! Now it's time to work on some more custom orders while possibly watching Shark Tank in the background. I hope everyone is having a great week!