Monday, June 29, 2015

fake cake

Matthew's 1st birthday! I can't believe it - the time went by so quickly. I wanted to do pictures, so I ordered a cool vintage outfit for him to wear. I also got a red rocking chair and I wanted to feature a cake. I looked around and thought a fake cake might be a good idea. Something he can't destroy by touching and I could use over and over again.

I found some online but they wanted $60. I just too cheap to spend that kind of money, so I started looking at making my own fake cake.

I spent probably $30.00 on supplies and I have enough to make at least 3 different cakes. There's alot here but the main things I used were:

  • hat box (the basis of the cake)
  • lightweight spackle
  • plaster of paris

There were other things I used, but these items were the main ingredients. You obviously want to use something to mix the ingredients that can be disposed of. Wear gloves while doing the mixing.

Mix the lightweight spackle. I bought a 1 quart container and used half of that... about 2 cups. The I poured in about a cup of plaster of paris. 

I used a couple a tablespoons of water to get the right consistency. About what icing would feel like.

I used another bowl and a lazy susan to prop up the cake and turn it as I was spreading the texture. You need to work fast because it will start to dry in about 10 minutes. Don't spend too much time getting it perfect as it will start to pull off and become to chunky. Get it on the hat box and leave it.

After the cake dries, make up another mixture of spackle and plaster for the piping. The first time I did the piping I used an old piping contraption and I ended up breaking it trying to protect it with plastic bags. I ended up throwing it away and just getting decorating bags. 

Once it dried, I hot glued it onto this cool cardboard cake thing.

I wanted a topper that I could switch out based on occasion or years of birth. At first I tired Velcro, but it wouldn't stick to the plaster. I tried several times - but it just wouldn't stick. So my husband broke out the power tools.

He drilled a hole the size of my dowel into my topper.

We used just a bbq skewer actually. Worked good.

Then he drilled a hole in the cake itself. You can see how it's built up in the middle where I tried spackling in Velcro.

I used some acrylic paint to paint it. I really like the way it turned out - and it's super lightweight. I'd totally do it again and I already have everything I need to do it!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

ann arbor derby dimes (a2d2) fresh meat - 2015

My daughter Jackie joined a roller derby league this year. She has spent many weeks with other "fresh meat" participating in a fresh meat boot camp.

I like the cool outfits and teeth guards.

Yep, hard at work? :)

She asked me to come take some action shots of her group.

And no one thought that was a bad idea.

It looked like fun! Until I saw someone fall hard on their hip.

Then I envisioned myself with a walker because of a broken hip.

So I'll leave it to the younger crowd. 

They go through drills every practice, practicing twice a week.

After completing 16 weeks, you have to take a skills test. 

Once you pass your skills test, you go into a bank of players. You also get to pick an awesome cool name like, "Infliction Vixen, Skim MILF, Murder".

Where you keep practicing until there is a spot you can try out for on a team.

There are competitive and non-competitive teams.

In a match, two teams compete against each other.

Each team has 5 players on the floor.

One player is called the "Jammer"

The rest are "Blockers"

The Jammer earns points by passing players, hitting and body slamming your way through the blockers.

While the blockers keep her getting through the line.

We watched a scrimmage while the fresh meat was doing skills training and it really looked like fun while getting a good workout. Now if they only have pads for the hips - I would be there!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

chair project

Holly and I went shopping for William's room makeover a year ago and found this chair at the local salvation army. She really wanted it sooooo I got it. It was in decent shape when we bought it.

Of course, it did not look like this when I bought it. :) This is the new and improved version. I believe I paid $15 for it.

It looked like this when I removed it from her room. She used it for about a year when it began to fall apart. I bought her a nice chair for Christmas, and she didn't need it anymore. I liked the chair and needed one for our guest bedroom, so Burke and I set out to recreate it.

I purchased some new fabric from I got some heavy duty duck canvas listed for $8.98/yard. I ordered 2 yards, but I only needed 1. I love the duck canvas and I'll find another use for the extra yard.

Burke and I began to strip down the old fabric - taking out all the staples making sure to keep the fabric in tact so I could use it as my pattern. He used my seam ripper to disassemble the fabric.

We bought some new foam from JoAnn Fabrics and Burke cut it down to size. I can't remember how much in particular we paid for the new foam - maybe $10. The difference is quality from what was on there is amazing.

Burke reinforced the underside with some heavy duty stuff he bought from Ace hardware. He just strip tied it to what was already there.

Using the old fabric as my pattern - I cut out and sew'd together the top and bottom covers. The duck canvas is super tough fabric and perfect for a chair. I double stitched everything to make it nice and sturdy.

Burke got some smaller pieces of foam to put on the seat around the wood to make it comfy for your legs. He cut it to size and used the glue gun to glue it in place.

He put the new cover on it and used the staple gun to put everything back together. I love the way it turned out! It much better quality and will last forever. It now sits proudly in our newly remodeled guest room.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

ode to Alice

I first met Alice back in 1982 not long before her son, Bruce and I were married. My very first memory of her was meeting her and her husband Bill for dinner. I was 19, pregnant, and her son and I had planned to get married and this was going to be the topic of conversation for the evening. Not bad for a first dinner right? I was so upset and nervous that I had a glass a wine to calm my nerves which just made things worse - cause then I felt sick.

When Bill left the table to go to the bathroom, Bruce seized the opportunity to tell his mother the news. I just remember him saying, "Tammy's pregnant." Her looking at me for a few seconds which felt like an eternity and then she said, "Congratulations." We left it to his mother to tell Bill and got through the rest of dinner. Sick, so sick.

Bruce, Alice and Bill - 1982

We were married quietly, inexpensively in Chelsea, Michigan on August 13, 1982 (Friday the 13th) at a court house. Alice became the mother I sometimes wished I had and she treated me like her own daughter.

She was about the age I am now when I first met her, and her funeral was last Wednesday, June 2, 2015. She was 84. She left this world peacefully, in her sleep. Her body just gave out.

This post is about Alice, and what she taught me about being a mother, a good host, and reflections on getting older.
They were married in 1951, at least I think that's right. I don't know a lot of the wedding, but I do know that she was a stay at home mom while Bill worked 2 jobs and put himself through college. They got busy with 3 children and he rose through the ranks at Ford Motor Company, eventually becoming Plant Manager for the Windsor Plant in Canada.

She didn't drive for the longest time and walked everywhere with the kids in tow pulling a wagon. She dedicated her life to them and her husband until his death in 1994.

Alice was beginning to think she would never had grandchildren and then both myself and her daughter became pregnant at the same time. We ended up delivering just 3 weeks apart. Alice took me in and became a role model for nurturing. My mother didn't have a proper role model for demonstrating good nurturing and wasn't very good at it herself.

Alice with my girls, Jenny and Jackie

She loved her grandchildren and her heart was big. We always had holidays at her house and it became clear to me that I was lacking as a good hostess. She taught me how to make guests feel comfortable and welcomed.

One of things that I've begun to notice is how people to talk about the difficulties in life with respect to the hard things in life - raising children, getting older. We walked about aging several times during our lives together.
Alice and Bill

I would go with her to visit Bill's mother who was in the nursing home. She was a shell of a woman, waiting for her life to be over. Alice always said she never wanted to be that way. Alice spent the last 2 years of her life in a nursing home - becoming what she never wanted.

Alice and Gale

This is her and her youngest daughter Gale. She was very young here - but when she turned 60 we talked about growing older. The conversation stuck in mind. She was always so conscious of her appearance and looked her best everyday. She looked great for 60. She told me was upset and anxious about being 60. I reassured her that Joan Crawford was past 60 and still looked amazing.

She shook her head slowly - not convinced. She knew she would not be able to convey her feelings to me - 30 years her junior. I was in my 20's and age was not even conceivable to me. It was the small comments that she made about her changing body that left an impression. They were never large gestures - just small conversations.

Alice with Jenny, Jackie, and Jason - my children.

We never did talk about sagging skin, dark spots and a general awareness of aging in our bodies. Then there's also the pains of menopause - migraines, hot flashes, memory lapses and those battles. We talk of them - but you never know how absolutely horrid they are until they happen to you.

Youth gives you a sense of immortality, an arrogance about who you are and that all melts away with the realization that you will become one with the earth again.

Alice continued to care and nurture her grandchildren and great grandchildren through the years always putting their needs in front of hers. We stayed friends even after her son and I divorced just 10 years after marrying.


Alice was survived by 3 children, 5 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren. Here's to you Alice, gone but not forgotten. We will miss you.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


End of the school year, end of Holly's middle school years, Julia's 18th birthday and the end of Julia's school year in America. I think it deserves a special trip so off we went to Muskegon, MI.

And Michigan Adventure.

We stayed at the KOA in Muskegon. We stayed in a cabin right on the lake - very nice.

It was a great weekend for family fun time - and they were packed.

The lake was full of fish, ready for swimming.

Julia grabbed the bottom bunk and refused to put a sheet on the bed, stating her blanket was big enough to be a sheet and blanket. She brought her tiny little pillow and crawled into bed.

We watched the Emperors New Groove that I projected on the bedroom wall - then off to bed we went.

The next morning we set out for Michigan Adventure. Jason talked Julia into going on the largest, scariest roller coaster in the park as her very first ride. Her hands were shaking when she got off the ride.

There were many other rides.

And the water park.

Sitting under an umbrella - looking at the blue sky. Beautiful day.

After which we headed back to the campground. We had some dinner and cake for Julia's birthday. We ate at the Harbor View Grill in WhiteHall, Michigan. It was the most delicious dinner - everyone's dinner was amazing and it was reasonably priced. The service was great - I highly recommend it! There was also chocolate cake for dessert.

Holly and Julia wanted to go to the park.

So we did. Holly went down the slide.

And jumped up and down on the air pillow they had.

While I got ate by mosquitoes.

The girls had fun.

Jason fished. For a couple of hours.

But never got anything.

Looking for wood to build a fire.

Where we made smores.

And told ghost stories, staying up until 11:00pm by the fire.

Poking the fire around all night long.

An awesome weekend in Muskegon, Michigan. The weather was beautiful, the company was awesome and it was a great day.