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Happy Halloween! 

I must confess, I simply thought about my costume all week.  I didn't actually put together any of the details until last night.  Knowing that I would be hanging out with my niece and nephew for part of the day, I wanted to be comfortable.  That is how Suburban Wonder Woman came to life.
blue girl presents: Suburban Wonder Woman Costume
I didn't want to spend any money, and I didn't want to ruin my skinny jeans.  (Although the stars are pretty fun.)  For my shirt, I created a freezer paper stencil and glittered a Wonder Woman logo on an old shirt that was from the clearance section of Target.  A Wonder Woman shirt is cool enough to wear after Halloween - ya know?

My jeans were decorated with stars I punched from freezer paper.  I simply placed them shiny side down and ironed them.  I knew that they would be very temporary - especially since I would be chasing a toddler.  But, that is just what I wanted.  Sure enough, the stars I left the house with were mostly gone by the time I returned.  However, I quickly added more stars.  These are staying nicely, since I am doing less running!  It will be nice to pluck them off at the end of the day and not worry about any sticky residue being left behind.

My crown was quickly made with glitter paper, a glue gun, and an old headband.
The bracelets are just more glitter paper and tape.

The red shoes were a mini splurge from my birthday a few weeks ago.  They are so fun, I want to wear them every day!
blue girl presents:Ingredients for Suburban Wonder Woman Costume
Did you dress up for Halloween?  How about your kids?  I was able to see my Niece march in her school parade.  She was a lovely princess.  It was so much fun seeing all of the kids dressed up in different costumes. 
blue girl presents: Suburban Wonder Woman
A friend of mine said that Suburban Wonder Woman's weapon of choice would probably be a credit card.  I just love that idea, don't you?  Woohoooooo!  This could be dangerous.

Have a terrific Halloween! 
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Hello my darlings!  I have missed you.   Real life always takes a priority, and we have been doing a lot of living lately.  Now it is already the last week of October.  How did that even happen?  As I work on final details for my Halloween costume this year, I thought it would be fun to look back on my costumes from previous years.

It has actually been a few years since I have been to an actual costume party.  However, I tend to invent excuses to dress up on regular days, so obviously, I must embrace the opportunity to dress up on Halloween!

A dear friend recently reminded me that we grew up in the days of plastic costumes.  Remember those?  Basically a plastic pinafore with an image on it.  Every costume included a plastic mask whether it was necessary or not.

These days, I tend to root through my closets and see what I can put together to create a costume.  I am spoiled with tons of second hand clothes (not to mention a ton of my own clothes!), so it is fun to see what I can create without going to the store.

I have rambled enough.  Here we go!


blue girl presents: mime costume
This Mime costume was super last minute.  This was the year that I learned that cheap costume make-up is harder to apply than it looks.  That was the only thing I purchased that year.


blue girl presents: go-go girl costume
This dress was my Mom's when she was young.  My 3rd Aunt designed it!  I am totally in love with the dress.  I need to find more excuses to wear it.


blue girl presents: mad hatter costume
This was one of my favorite costumes!  I won the plain back hat as a prize at a party.  For Halloween, I decorated it Mad Hatter style.  The jacket and vest used to be my Mom's.  The pants used to be my Dad's.  The bow tie was made out of felt.  I used safety pins to add lace to the jacket.  A few more details found while rummaging through my closets and my costume was complete!


blue girl presents: real housecats of northern new jersey costume
I found a Pinterest photo of a girl with braided cat ears and knew I had to try it.  It was actually quite simple with just a bit of floral wire and bobby pins.  As an ode to my new home state of New Jersey and a silly conversation I had with a friend, this costume was born.  The vest was a wedding gift.  The necklace is one that I made years ago.


blue girl presents: wicked witch of the east costume
Another favorite!  I reinvented the plain back hat I had used for my Mad Hatter costume.  A house, a tornado, a yellow brick road, and I became the Wicked Witch of the East.  Apparently, I didn't look wicked enough.  I was having too much fun!  I took a fun long skirt I had and pinned it randomly to make it more witchy. 

Did you dress up for Halloween this year?  What has been a favorite costume of yours?  I love that Facebook gives me the opportunity to see so many great costumes throughout the month of October.  Have a safe and fun week!
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Liebster Award

A few weeks ago, the darling Candace from Healthy, Happy, Quirky, Sappy nominated me to receive the Liebster award.  Liebster means "sweetheart, beloved person, or darling" in German.  As far as I can tell, the award was started once upon a time to bring light to new or lesser known blogs.  It also seems the rules have evolved through time.  In any case, I am most flattered.  I secretly call Candace my biggest fan.  Honestly, I have no clue how she discovered my humble little site, but she is always full of encouragement and kindness.  And she works at Disneyworld, people.  She's coooooooool.

Here are the rules for receiving this award:
1. Answer the questions that the nominator sets for you, and then create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
2. Choose other bloggers & link them in your post (must have less than 200 followers).
3. Go to their page and tell them.

I am horrible at answering questions, but I promised Candace I would do my best.

1. Where are you from and do you still reside there?
* I am from Pennsylvania.  I grew up in Western Pennsylvania (Steelers Country!), but also spent many years in Eastern Pennsylvania.  Now I live in New Jersey.  Even though I miss Pennsylvania terribly, New Jersey has been very good to me.

2. Favorite food?
This is about one of the worst questions to ask me.  I.LOVE.TO.EAT.  Seriously.  When I was a kid, I used to flip through cookbooks and just dream about what each item would taste like.  I get teased because it is difficult for me to eat food I like without saying, "Mmmmmm."  (And I like a lot of food.)  There is absolutely no way I could choose just one favorite food.  Here is a sampling of favorite foods.

  • pizza
  • sushi
  • taiwanese beef noodle soup
  • japanese curry
  • kielbasa
  • ice cream sandwiches

P.S.  I do not like mushrooms.  That's an easy one.

3. What's your favorite hobby?
It seems that one of my favorite hobbies is picking up new hobbies!   I love the opportunity to learn a new instrument or a new craft.  The hobbies I turn to the most are knitting, card-making, and piano playing.

4. Favorite band or musician?
Apparently, I'm dreadful at this favorite stuff...
I am going to say the Beatles, Jack Johnson, and Bebo Norman. 
They consistently make me smile.

5. What's your favorite childhood memory?
I wanted to share something wildly incredible; however, some of the best childhood memories are so simple.  One of my favorite memories was the anticipation of cookies and punch after every piano and violin recital.  We didn't really bake cookies at home, so having access to trays of cookies was exciting every single time.
My other great memory was when my cousins would come to visit.  Before my baby brother was born, his room was my Dad's study.  (That sounds so weird.  Do people still have rooms called "the study?")  When my cousins were visiting, we would lay out our sleeping bags across the room and call it sleeping bag land!  Then my cousins would argue about who had the superior sleeping bag.  Fun times.

6. What is your favorite holiday of the year?
THIS question, I can answer!  I super, duper, triple heart, love Christmas.  I love the smells of Christmas.  I love the sounds of Christmas.  I love the meaning of Christmas.  I love the movies of Christmas.  I love the feeling of Christmas.  Christmas, Christmas, Christmas!

7. How long have you been blogging and why'd you start?
During my current run, I have been blogging for just over two months.  I really just wanted an outlet to document the things that I do.  Making it public motivates me to create more and document more.  Otherwise, it becomes easy for me to simply THINK about creating.  When I just THINK about creating, I get overwhelmed with ideas and forget how fun it is to just start making things.

My first blog was started in 2006.  That was for a very different reason, and it fulfilled a need for a different kind of outlet.  I'll explain a bit more below.

8. What's the best vacation you've ever taken?
I have been incredibly blessed to be able to travel quite a bit through the years.  Many of my relatives lived in Taiwan and Japan.  Many still do.  While my grandparents were alive, it was a priority for my family to see them as much as possible.  Those trips to Taiwan and Japan as a kid will always remain high on my list of best vacations.  I am incredibly grateful that my parents had the means to take me, and that they made it a priority.  As a result, I developed the closest relationship possible with relatives that live on the other side of the earth.  That is quite a feat under any circumstances - but I think it is especially amazing considering I grew up before the internet, skype, and smartphones.  Technology has come so far so quickly, that sometimes I feel like a super old person who grew up in the dark ages.

9. What's your most embarrassing moment?
As if I would tell you.  It's my most embarrassing moment for a reason!

Something that was embarrassing when I was a kid - I accidentally went to a recital wearing one sneaker and one dress shoe.  They were both pink, and we ran out of the house so quickly it went unnoticed.  It was a combined recital, so I played a violin piece and then a piano piece.  I didn't notice my shoes until my piano piece, when I was reaching for the pedals.  Little did I know, my Mother was holding back laughter as soon as I walked up to play violin.  She had tears streaming down her face because she was laughing so hard.  I ran to tell my parents after the recital was over, not realizing that everyone had noticed.  All the grown-ups kept asking if I was starting a new style.  My parents still enjoy reminding me about that day.  I was kind of cute back then though, so it's not embarrassing anymore.
  (Funny that it was embarrassing that my shoes didn't match each other, but not so embarrassing that they totally didn't match my outifit.)

blue girl presents: mismatched shoes

10. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
This one is a bit strange to answer, because my proudest accomplishment isn't really a personal accomplishment, and it wouldn't normally be classified as an accomplishment.  Here's the story...

In 2006, my first husband was diagnosed with
Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS).  He had a bone marrow transplant at the beginning of 2007 which went smoothly.  All seemed well, until it didn't.  My husband developed full blown leukemia and things went downhill.  We literally lived in the hospital for the last three months of his life.  He died almost exactly 6 years ago.

I blogged through the entirety of that experience.  It was extremely therapeutic, and it kept all of our friends and family up to date.

The experience gets put in the category of accomplishments I am most proud of, because I am so proud of how God used us in that journey.  People would tell me about how they rekindled their relationship with God, how they rekindled their relationship with their spouse, how they decided to start a family - all from our story.  None of that had to do with me, more of it had to do with my husband.  All of it had to do with God's hand at work.

I am proud of the marriage that I had, and how adversity only made our bond stronger.  We believed in extreme positivity, and that's how we lived each day.

I am proud that God surrounded us with family and friends who rallied around us and provided us with a constant stream of encouragement, support, and love.  Strangers, and people we had never met in person would send us cards.  Hundreds of people showed support by joining the
Bone Marrow Registry.  People ran marathons, organized walks, and climbed stairs to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  It seemed as though we were going through the toughest challenge of our lives under the best possible circumstances.  Crazy, but true.

I am proud that even though my husband died entirely too soon, at too young of an age, he died with no regrets.  He felt he had lived a full life, and he gave me the blessing to continue living life and to find love again.

I am proud that the experience taught me to love more fully, to be more patient, to be more understanding, and to not sweat the small stuff.  I am still learning.  It's still a process, but I grew so much during that time.  Even now, I feel I am still growing and learning from my experience.  I experienced such grace from God and from other people.  I want to be able to extend that grace to those around me.  Everyone has a story.

That was a pretty long-winded answer... and that was the super condensed version. 
 
11. Who is your best friend?
My Hubby is definitely my best friend.  He puts up with me on a daily basis, which is no small feat.  He knew me before I met my first husband, he was an usher at my first wedding, and he knew me during my "year of super sad."  It takes a man with a heart of gold and supernatural patience to endure and LOVE me, having all knowledge of my history and all of my neuroses.  I am way thankful for him.

And my dear friend that I call "Cousin" is my best girl friend.  She is the girl I can talk to for ages about everything under the sun.  We will be laughing one minute, crying the next, and being super analytical after that.  Okay, she's the super analytical one.  I'm the dreamer.

Because I'm blessed, I also have a list of super duper amazing special people.  However, I feel that it is unfair to bore you any longer.

I am not smart enough to know if these gals have more than 200 followers or not.  I just know that their blogs are new to me and very special.  So my picks for the Liebster award are,
Rachel from Crafty Cucumber and Phyllis from The Napkin Hoarder Rachel is crafty, and does a little bit of everything.  I've been really loving the cute crochet creations she has been sharing.  She makes cards too, and you know how I love cards.  Phyllis and I were actually in the same college fellowship many, many, many moons ago.  She writes stories about life and family.  She is open and frank.  It's very refreshing.  Candace, you can answer my questions too!  (But no pressure.)

Here are my questions:

1. If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and what would you do with it?
2.  If you were to create a bucket list (or already have one), what are some things that would be on it?
3.  What can always put a smile on your face?
4.  If you were granted an all-expense paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?
5.  What is the weirdest thing you have eaten? 
6.  What is a strange habit or quirk of yours?
7.  What are some of your favorite scents?
8.  What do you consider comfort food?
9.  What has been one of your greatest challenges?
10.  What new skill would you love to learn?
11.  What is one book you loved as a child?


That's all folks!  Thank you again,
Candace for choosing me!  And thank you readers for visiting.

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Joy.

8/28/2013

1 Comment

 
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I have been busy working on a number of projects for myself and for others.  However, I'm not quite ready to share any of them right now.  So instead, I will send you over to Christina Montemurro Photography to see what I got to be a part of over the weekend.  My dear friend, who was showered with an Up Theme party, got married.  From my vantage point, the day was perfect.  From Christina Montemurro's vantage point, it also seemed perfect. 

Rachel, was the complete opposite of a bridezilla.  Christina, was an extremely humble and unobtrusive photographer.  The wedding, was one of the best I have been to.

I woke up a bit to early to meet up with Rachel and the other ladies of the wedding party at 8am.  Three ladies with trunks and suitcases stuffed with make-up, beauty products, and tools spent the next 5 hours making two Moms, two bridesmaids, a matron of honor, a flower girl, and a bride look beautiful.  We got to wear fake eyelashes, and it was so much fun!  Of course, I decided that I wasn't hungry for the array of fruits and pastries provided until after I got my make-up done.  I'm pretty sure I managed to lose all the crumbs stuck to my lip gloss by the time the ceremony started.  Good thing the bride was the main attraction.

The ceremony was in a beautiful church with a high ceiling, beautiful stained glass windows, and an incredible pipe organ.  The bride and groom wrote their own vows.  I love that.  They were personal and sweet.

The reception was filled with personal touches.  The Father of the Bride is amongst the nicest people I know.  But at the reception, he was totally mean!  First, there was a traditional Father of the Bride toast.  Later, there was a slideshow of the Bride and Groom through the years.  Instead of just plugging any old song in, the Father, and the Bride's two Brothers put on hats and sang, "You've Got a Friend in Me" from Toy Story.  It was the sweetest thing, especially knowing that this is a Disney-loving family.  I do not mean Disney-loving in the way everybody loves Disney.  I mean, Disney loving, in that I suspect they were all born with Mickey ears.
In case that wasn't mean enough...before the Father-Daughter dance, Dad played this little tear-jerking gem from The Little Mermaid.

AND read a heartfelt letter he wrote shortly after Rachel was born.  AND broke out an ukulele and serenaded Rachel again.  See?  I told you he was mean.  They should have handed out tissues at the door.  But really, it was all so very beautiful.  Everything about the day felt personal and thoughtful, without being over-the-top or trying-too-hard.

What a privilege it was to be a part of such a truly special day.  Go look at photos and be blown away.
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blue girl presents
blue girl presents: praise report
blue girl presents
Hello darlings. I hope you have found ways to be thankful this week. Hubby and I took another lovely walk on another perfect day. It is so nice to see everything so lush and green. Soon it will be fun to see the leaves changing colors!

In my Raspberry Short Whips post I mentioned attending a BBQ over the weekend and hanging out with some ladies at the beginning of the week. It is always a treat to spend time with people I may not see often. I really appreciate those who make get-togethers happen. I enjoy time with friends, but I am not usually good at initiating those times.

We had a dinner outing with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and their kids. Even though we see each other often, we don't always have time to just relax and hang out. It is a gift to live close to them and enjoy their company.

Our dear friends are getting married tomorrow. This means seeing lots of people I love and getting pretty. Hooray! The bride and groom are so special to us and we have created some pretty fun memories. Once, we were attending the same wedding. At some point, they said, "we're going to Disneyland the week of 4th of July! Hey, you should come!" We laughed the way people laugh at ridiculous invitations. Then Hubby was curious and discovered he had time off that week, and we had enough frequent flier miles to cover the trip. At the reception, we leaned over and asked our friends, "soooooo...were you serious when you asked us to go to Disneyland with you?" And just like that, we planned our next vacation...while on vacation. (Not usually how we do things, but we like to pretend!)

Thanks for visiting. I super appreciate my readers. You are so sweet.

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blue girl presents: confetti hello greeting card
Sometimes, simple is best.
blue girl presents: simply diy greeting card
These cards were nothing more than cut, fold, cut, paste.
blue girl presents: simple diy greeting cards
I used my nifty Cricut, from my nifty Sister-in-Law
blue girl presents: hello greeting cards
But I have been known to find a good movie and cut letters out by hand.
blue girl presents: hello greeting cards
So a fancy machine is not required.
blue girl presents: simply diy greeting cards
Enjoy your day!
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blue girl presents: raspberry short whip bites
Growing up, my parents were part of a monthly Bible study.  Each family would take turns hosting.  Dinner would be potluck, but the host was always responsible for making extra dishes, drinks, and desserts.  Naturally, my Mom was the best cook. (I'm not biased.  Yes I am.  But, she really was!)  So when it was my parents' turn to host, I knew that dinner would be especially yummy.

Although an amazing cook, my Mom didn't do much baking unless it was from a box.  A friend shared a recipe with her once for "cheesecake."  It became my Mom's go-to dessert for Bible study.  Turns out it became my most favorite dessert.  Also turns out, it wasn't really cheesecake.  The first time I had real cheesecake, I was SO disappointed because it wasn't the light, fluffy, creamy dessert I was always told was cheesecake.  (Hubby's family has since reformed me.)

We went to a BBQ over the weekend with tons of yummy food.  I was asked to bring dessert.  I knew that the burgers and hot dogs would be amazing and filling. (They were.)  I knew there would be tons of other yummy food. (There was.)  I knew there would be a fire for roasting marshmallows and making s'mores. (There was.  I always burn my marshmallow, but it was still great.)  With all of that in mind, I wanted to bring a dessert that felt light.  My Mom's cheesecake seemed like a winner.

The original recipe layers all of the ingredients in a 9x13 pan.  There is a shortbread crust. Smelling it baking in the oven always made me swoon.  (Actually, it still makes me swoon.)  There is a layer of cool whip, powdered sugar, and cream cheese.  Sweet, fluffy, goodness!  Then there is a layer of vanilla pudding and  a top layer of cool whip.  I am pretty sure that many families have a variation of this dessert in their recipe box.  My Mother-in-Law makes a pistachio dessert that is similar-ish.

For fun, I decided to create mini cups instead.  I also decided to replace the cool whip in the original recipe with fresh whipped cream.

Hubby's family believes that all good recipes need a good name.  I let Hubby name these little treats, and he came up with Raspberry Short Whips.  I like it.
blue girl presents: raspberry short whip bites
Here's how I made them.

Prepare Whipped Cream.
1 pint of heavy Cream
1/2 powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla

Beat the cream in a chilled bowl with chilled beater.  Slowly add sugar and vanilla until fluffy and thick enough to spread.

First Layer: Shortbread crust.
2 sticks unsalted butter (if using salted butter, do not add additional salt.)
2 C. flour
1/2 t. salt
Melt butter in a sauce pan.  Add flour and salt, and mix to create a soft dough.
When cool enough, scoop a tablespoon of dough, roll it into a ball, and then flatten into a disk.  Place disc in the bottom of a foil mini cupcake liner.  You should be able to make 30-35 cups.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes. 
(If you underbake the crust and decide to check one of the cups...you may or may not end up with a kitchen floor covered with crumbs...)
Cool crusts.

Second Layer: 
1 block Cream Cheese
1/2 C. powdered sugar
2 C. whipped cream

Blend Cream Cheese and sugar until smooth.  Fold in whipped cream.
Pipe a layer of mixture into each cup.

Third Layer:
1 package instant vanilla pudding.

Follow instruction on box for pie filling.  Pipe a layer of pudding into each cup.

Fourth Layer:
Pipe remaining whipped cream on top of each cup.

Garnish:
Top with fresh raspberries for a Raspberry Short Whip, or choose another favorite garnish!


blue girl presents: chocolate raspberry short whip pie
I met up with some lovely ladies last night.  Since I had extra ingredients, I decided to turn them into a Chocolate Raspberry Short Whip Pie.  I only used one stick of butter and one cup of flour for the crust, pressing the mixture into an 8 inch square pan.

I had always been curious what the dessert would be like with chocolate pudding, so I finally tried it.  I love chocolate, but in my opinion, the vanilla pudding wins hands down.  There is just something about how it combines with the cream cheese layer and the shortbread crust for the ultimate flavor combination. 

At some point, I would like to try this dessert with homemade pudding!
blue girl presents: chocolate raspberry short whip pie
Did you grow up with a dessert like this?  It is so versatile.  You can change the type of crust, the pudding flavor, and the garnish to create all different flavor combinations.  Let me know if you try my versions or another version!
blue girl presents: raspberry short whip
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blue girl presents: nature
What a beautiful week.  Aside from a crazy downpour on Tuesday morning, the weather has been amazing.  Another week with plenty to be thankful for.

* We visited Uncle last weekend to celebrate his 91st birthday.  We had good weather, good food, and good company.

* While visiting Uncle, we were able to pick fresh blueberries!  Apparently, he has always had the blueberry bushes (trees?), but the birds always got to the berries first.  It was my first time picking fresh blueberries, and hopefully not my last.  It was so much fun!
blue girl presents: fresh blueberries
* I super duper like kielbasa, and Hubby's family likes to tease me about it.  But I know they love me, because they planned a dinner with burgers and KIELBASA at Uncle's, and didn't tell me so that I would be surprised.  Hooray!

* It is pretty common knowledge that I super duper like striped socks.  They make my feet happy.  That's a fact.  I hadn't realized how much I like stripes in general until this week.  I went on a spontaneous shopping trip, and everything I brought into the dressing room had stripes!  Nice to know that something that makes me happy is so popular right now.  As I was folding clean laundry this week, I realized that I have several striped pieces in my current wardrobe.  Yay for stripes!

* On Hubby's day off this week, the weather was so lovely we were able to take a leisurely walk.  We were adventurous and walked a part of our neighborhood we hadn't walked to before. 

Have a wonderful weekend.  Thank you so much for visiting!
blue girl presents: bridge at sunset
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blue girl presents: suit greeting card
Today, I have a confession, a bit of history, and my latest card.

My confession: This is the third time that I have started a craft style blog.  Third time is the charm, isn't that right?  The first two times never felt quite right because I constantly felt like I was trying to do too much, or I was not being true to myself.  I knew it too, so I rarely told people that I blogged. 

This time around, I am having tons of fun.  I am enjoying the process and not trying to be anyone but me.  If you are one of the few people who encountered one of my former blogs, you may see some familiar photos if they relate to a current post.

Today, I'm sharing some old photos so that you can see the progression to today's card.

I have loved origami for as long as I can remember.  My Dad taught me how to fold a lily and a fishing boat when I was a kid.  Then he gave me some books to learn on my own.  My Maternal Grandparents lived in Japan until they retired, and visits to see them always meant purchasing packs and packs of origami paper.  In 6th grade, one of our projects was to teach the class how to do something.  Anything.  I taught my classmates how to make origami containers.  When Hubby and I got married, I folded dozens and dozens of cranes to hang from our arch.  (Not much compared to the 1000 my Cousin folded one year and mailed to me from Taiwan!  I think she folded them all in a month.)  So yeah, I love origami.
blue girl presents: wedding arch photo taken by cherished in hawaii weddings
In 2010, while trying to figure out what kind of card to create for all the important Dads in my life, I decided that adding a touch of origami made the most sense.  I found directions for an origami tie, and started having fun.
blue girl presents: origami tie cards 2010
In 2011, I couldn't stop thinking about how much fun I had creating the necktie cards.  So I made them again. 
blue girl presents: origami tie greeting cards 2011
But this time, I added vests.
blue girl presents: vested origami tie greeting cards 2011
In 2012, I decided to be a bit different and created origami shirts and pants for my cards.
blue girl presents: father's day cards with origami shirt and pants 2012
They coordinated with that year's origami dress Mother's Day cards.
blue girl presents: origami dress mother's day cards 2012
This year's cards had nothing to do with origami...  :)

In one of my Friday Praise Reports, I mentioned that we got Hubby a new suit.  The alterations were finished over the weekend, and we were able to bring the suit home.  Hubby looks FINE.  Mario is the gentleman who fitted Hubby for his new suit as well as the two other suits he owns.  Mario worked with one of Hubby's Aunts for many years, so he is essentially family.  Hubby asked me if I would make one of my tie cards for Mario to thank him.  Hooray for a great excuse to make one of my favorite cards!
blue girl presents: origami tie greeting card
Mario is a suit man, so I couldn't stop with just a shirt and tie.   I had to create a jacket too!
blue girl presents: suit & tie greeting card
Fancy.
blue girl presents: suit & tie greeting card
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blue girl presents: black forest cake
Over the weekend, we went on a mini road trip to visit Hubby's Great Uncle.  Everyone in the family simply calls him Uncle.  Uncle turned 91 last month, which most definitely warranted a celebration.

My Mother-in-Law asked if I could make a Black Forest Cake, because Uncle is a fan.  I had never made one before, but I love an excuse to try new things.
blue girl presents: black forest cake
I used Brown Eyed Baker's Black Forest Cake recipe with a few changes.

For the cake: I threw in a tsp of espresso powder for kicks.  Recipe books and television bakers always say coffee or espresso enhances the flavor of a chocolate cake.  I had some, so why not?

For the cherries: I bought a bag of fresh cherries (which I sadly can not eat fresh due to allergies.)  I pitted them by hand.  (It was very difficult to resist licking my fingers.)  I had about 18oz after reserving a dozen for the top and a handful for Hubby.  I put them in a pot with 1/2 C sugar and 1/2 C water and stirred them around for several minutes.  Then I thickened the syrup with a bit of cornstarch.  I brushed the syrup on each cooled cake layer before assembling.
I tend to be conservative when adding sugar.  If you like things sweet, more sugar would have been fine.  Also, at Uncle's I learned what fresh sour cherries look like.  If I could get my hands on those, I'm sure that the cherry filling would have had even more pronounced cherry flavor.

For the whipped cream:  I doubled the recipe.  Also, in an effort to ensure the cake would survive a three hour car ride, I stabilized the whipped cream with gelatin.
blue girl presents: black forest cake
It survived!!!!!
blue girl presents: black forest cake
The cherry flavor was not especially pronounced.  I am sure it would be more pronounced with the canned cherries and/or addition of cherry Kirsch used in Brown Eyed Baker's recipe.  However, I really liked the idea of using fresh cherries, and using alcohol didn't make sense for this particular family gathering.   If I can find them, I would like to try fresh sour cherries next time.  Perhaps soaking the cherries in juice would also help bring out the favor.
Still, the cake was delightful, and everyone gobbled it down.  The chocolate cake was wonderful and paired beautifully with the whipped cream frosting.

We were also spoiled with a super tasty Berry Crumble from my Sister-in-Law.
berry crumble
Topped with ice cream, it was one amazing treat.
berry crumble with ice cream
Our bellies were full, full full.  They were also happy, happy, happy!
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