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purls before wine

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the good, the bad and the ugly

Once upon a time there was a tiny, poorly designed kitchen whose pantry held a washing machine, dryer and hot water heater. One day the handsome king started the washing machine and left for work. The washing machine so loved the king that she decide to run and run and run the entire day.

Unbeknownst to the king and queen, water flowed through the castle for hours and hours until a kindly villager notified the queen of water flowing from the front door. Though the hardwood had never been cleaner, sometimes too much is in fact too much. Upon his return to the castle, the king assembled knights from the realm of homeowner’s insurance and disaster care who worked feverishly to mitigate the damage.

The knights were able to rescue several areas of the castle, but, alas, the hardwood floors in the kitchen were beyond repair.

The wicked queen upon learning of the washing machine’s treachery, banished her and her companions to an isolated laundry room in the garage and ordered a complete renovation of the kitchen.

And this, dear readers, is where our story begins…

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Facebook Won

So the mommy blogging thing lost steam and the mommy thing stole all my crafty time and Facebook is just easier.

House reno courtesy of a washing machine flood may be the thrust of the 2014 blogging year. Stay tuned. Or not. Your call.

In the meantime, how cute are my kids?

mario and luigi costumes

Fashion notes:

The hats were purchased through Amazon (direct from China). The t-shirts are FOTL from Walmart and the overalls were sewn using McCall’s M6592 and some pants fabric from JoAnne’s. Tada.

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Check out the soccer star.


i’m a soccer player

The big guy is on his first team. He really seems to enjoy it. Well, the socializing at least. He sort of loses interest in the actual game after about 20 minutes. So, the second half he’s pretty much checked out.

Still, he’s cute as can be running around the field.


go, go, go!

He’s had two games so far. They were fun to watch (for a while). More importantly, we went for ice cream (and beer) at the Smoky Oak afterwards.

The “not a baby” has a great time watching the game.


go bulldogs!

And an even better time not watching.

kellan and daddy

what game?

So, there you have it. I’m a soccer mom. Sob.

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merry christmas!

Yeah, it’s March. So?

We did some stuff in December.

Stuff like building this adorable christmas tree from old pallets. B broke up a pallet and trimmed the planks and the boys painted each plank. Then B screwed the trimmed planks to a 2×4 and added a base.


building our tree!

The boys then painted a few birdhouses and spread peanut butter and bird seed on them.


hard work making these decorations

And voila!

liam and the tree


pallet tree

our new christmas tree

Also. We met santa. So that was pretty cool.

liam and kellan with santa


Then we spent some time in PA, which was cold and white.


yummy snow!


snow kellan

Maybe there will be a seasonally appropriate post some time soon.

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so much fun, so little time to blog

Where to begin…

So, Liam is 4.

liam gregor

black fondant!

Crazy, right?

We had a big kid, Bumblebee Transformer party.

transformers invitation

mission: celebrate

The invitations were printed on 4×6 photo paper. The background image is from Digital Citizen. I added text in Picasa using free Transformers Movie font. Super fast and great results.

It was a casual backyard party. B set up an obstacle course (boot camp) using water noodles and reclaimed wood balance beams. It was really cute and set up in like 15 minutes.

obstacle course

boot camp

The kids enjoyed it… but still wound up in the dirt.

digging in the dirt

nothing better than a pile of dirt

Burgers, dogs and chili were served at our fabulous new picnic table.

picnic table

thank you, brian!

We always have some project or another in progress around the homestead, for better or worse. Lately, Brian has been hitting them out of the park. The table was inspired by the fresh exchange, with a gutter in the middle for icing drinks. It’s nice and low so we can sit on the ground and the legs are removable, so we can slide it under the house when not in use. The legs and supports are reclaimed pallet wood and the top is 16-foot 1×6 pine planks. He stained the top wood “sunbleached.” It probably needs another pass or two to get to a color similar to the legs. I adore this table. Just love it.

underside of table

removable legs

I promise to take more pics when it’s decked out for a grown up party. It is so awesome.

Back to business… Obviously the party would not be complete without a Bumblebee cake.

bumblebee transformer cake

more than meets the eye…

The bottom cake was for grown ups. It’s Colette Peter’s Bourbon Chocolate Cake (I skipped the coconut) with bourbon ganache filling and basic vanilla buttercream frosting. I have found my new go-to chocolate cake recipe. It is a crazy simple recipe – you don’t even need a mixer – and made an incredibly rich moist cake. 1-1/2 recipe made two 10-inch layers. No joke, this was still moist after a week. It was frosted with yellow buttercream using this excellent technique to smooth. The paper towels that we had on hand were rather textured, so I expect it would have been smoother with a different brand.

The ganache was simple. Chop 8 oz. of dark chocolate into your stand mixer bowl. Heat 2 cups of heavy cream to a low boil and pour over the chocolate. Cover with foil and let stand until the chocolate melts. Add 2 teaspoons of bourbon and whip until it’s spreadable. It was more than enough for the filling between the two layers of the 10-inch cake. Probably enough to actually fill and frost, but there were no complaints about eating the extra straight out of the bowl.

The top cake was German Chocolate from The Art of Chocolate. It was good, but so much more work than the Bourbon Chocolate. The three 8-inch layers were filled and crumb-coated with buttercream and then covered in the better part of 2-lbs of Fondarific Black Fondant. What a mess. Black everywhere. E V E R Y W H E R E. The transformer icon was yellow Fondarific and took forever to cut out, using this Autobot logo as a stencil. Took about 2 hours to do the fondant and it was far from perfect. Like really far. Just means I need more practice…cake, anyone?

Saturday morning, the finished cake was met with an enthusiastic, “Awww, that’s not the one I wanted.”


However by party time, Liam was much more excited.

liam gregor

my cake!

We had a great day. The kids party started at 11:00 AM and the last grown ups left at 10:30 PM. And we still had chili and cake left over!

Last, but definitely not least… Thank you, Pam, for taking all the photos! There would be no record of Liam’s big day without you.

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happiest place on earth

We just had the best vacation ever. Seriously. The best. Walt Disney World really is the happiest place on earth as far as I’m concerned. Travelling with great friends made it even more fun. Thank you Ronnie, Brian, Connor and Caitlin for an awesome adventure. Let’s make it an annual event!

with pluto and goofy

group shot!

The boys were excellent travelers, so the six hour drive (each way) in the silver bullet was as painless as possible.

Our adventure began at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The kids had no idea what to expect, so every second of the ten hour day was exciting.

caitlin, connor, liam and kellan

day 1: hollywood studios

Our first stop was at Disney Junior – Live on Stage. It was so cute! As soon as Mickey popped up on stage, Kellan began waving and shouting, “Hi, Mickey Mouse!” I may have teared up a bit.

We wandered around the park and let everyone burn off some energy at Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.


go, go, go

The boys were mesmerized by Lights, Motors, Action! and Brian (not my Brian, the other Brian) had a starring role in Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. And, of course, the Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade was a huge hit. We pretty much owned the joint.

team monahan

team monahan

Day two was laid back. We caught up on a tiny bit of missed sleep then spent the late afternoon and evening at the campsites at Fort Wilderness Resort. We didn’t sleep at the campsite, but we grilled burgers there then spent the rest of the evening at the pool, eating s’mores and dancing at Chip’n Dale’s Campfire Sing-a-long and watching Homeward Bound, the featured Movie Under the Stars. It was a great way to sneak in a low key day to help the kids (and grown ups) recoup some energy. Plus, we received resort privileges and a parking pass that was good at all the parks.

We hit Animal Kingdom on day three. We immediately went to the Kilimanjaro Safari. Everyone loved seeing the animals as we bounced down the road and the animals were all up and moving in the morning. Naturally, Dinoland was a big hit. The kids played for ages in the Boneyard. Honestly, for all the cool stuff to see, the play areas may have been the biggest hit.

laim and caitlin

dinosaur bones

Liam was crazy about the Dinosaur ride. I worried that it would scare him, but he loved it. It’s his favorite part of the trip. We ended the day at the Festival of the Lion King, which was absolutely amazing. Sadly, Liam chickened out when invited to join the performers, but luckily for us, Connor jumped right in!

liam, mickey and kellan

finally meeting the big cheese

I must admit, however, that my favorite part of the day was spent in the shade  behind the Dawa Bar sipping mojitos with my Brian while the hooligan’s napped!

nap time

disney 2, boys 0

Day four was a big night! After a lazy day at the pool, we dressed up for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

halloween party


It was a super late night and though Liam slept through it all, the Kel-Kel monster partied like a rock star.

video of kellan dancing

click to see some moves like jagger

The Boo to You Parade was really cool as were the amazing Happy HalloWishes fireworks. Plus, I got to do my first zombie makeup!


cutest. zombie. ever.

On our last park day, which was also my birthday(!), we ate and drank our way around the world at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. I love, love, love the F&W Festival. Like alot. The boys seemed to have fun too…


i wuv sweedish meatballs



Just when you thought that it couldn’t get any better…we met up with Shawn, Ashley, Emory and Mr. and Mrs. G.

kellan, emory, liam and jen

chillin’ in new zealand

Alas, the boys crashed crossing the bridge from France to England so B and I were forced to sit on a bench next to the Ireland Marketplace. Hard as it was to nibble Irish cheeses and Fisherman’s Pie and sip Guinness, we sacrificed two hours so that our cherished children could rest.

mommy and daddy


What an amazing (and exhausting) week. Can’t wait to do it again!


no nap! no nap! zzzzzzz….