on the road

We're off on a little road trip to Calgary for a couple of days to see Loopy's orthodontist, visit with Veto's mother, and have Loopy's iPod repaired at the Apple store there. After our to-do list is complete (including getting some cupcakes from Crave) we'll head straight back.

I'm feeling better and Veto will be doing most of the driving until we part company at the Calgary airport and put him on a plane for business meetings elsewhere. Loopy and I will drive home by ourselves. 

I really, really hate the drive from Calgary. Hopefully those cupcakes will ease my pain. See you when we get back!

let's talk about winners

I told you I would log in right after American Idol ended to tell you who the lucky winner of the iPod earrings would be. I tried, but there were so many other winners to keep an eye on. 

Let me just say, Loopy and I were riveted to the television watching Joannie Rochette skate through her grief after tragically losing her mother earlier this week to a heart attack. Imagine skating a perfect short program on Tuesday and holding onto third place tonight to win the bronze medal for Canada... just imagine her strength. Her bronze medal is as good as gold to us.

I am so hoping that Joannie will be given the honour of carrying our flag during the closing ceremonies. We're proud of you, Joannie!

And more winning? Canadian women win Olympic hockey gold! There was actual clapping in this house tonight. 

The announcer said that sometimes winners step on the ice and pretend that their Olympic performance is just another day in practice... but a true champion steps on the ice at practice and pretends they're at the Olympics. I'm going to have to spin that around and use it on the Cheerios.

Oh, and since I like to come out early on in the Idol season (last year picking Adam Lambert) this year I want you to know that all of my Farmville coins are riding on Crystal Bowersox. You heard it here first... the girl's a winner.

Our last winner of the day is comment number one - it must be a sign - Lizzy Post, you are the winner of the iPod earrings! Email me (my address is in the sidebar) and send me your snail mail info... I'll get them into the mail over the weekend with some Etsy orders that came in this week.

Reader, what do you think it takes to be a winner? 

Are you enjoying the Olympics? Do you have a favourite moment so far?

Are you watching American Idol? Is there a standout for you yet?

Do you think commenter number one will be thrilled with her win?


earring giveaway for my peeps

So how 'bout a little giveaway? Giving presents always makes me happy, and you want me to be happy don't you?

This one is simple and straightforward: if you are a follower of this blog (one of my peeps) then just leave a comment on this post and you will be the winner of a pair of iPhone/iTouch earrings from my Etsy. New followers are welcome.

Don't have pierced ears? You can regift them. Surely you know a teenager that would enjoy them. If you'd like, I can send them directly to the recipient. We can hash out the details later.

A random winner will be chosen on Thursday night when I'm finished watching American Idol... I'll post it here right away.

getting there

Thank you to everyone for your encouragement, your thoughts, your kind words and your input. I value absolutely all of it. As I near two weeks of taking these new medications, I think my general pain has subsided... at the very least, I'm taking less Tylenol, and for that my stomach is grateful.

I wasn't prepared for the sleepiness - which should start subsiding any time now - or the general malaise that set over me. It seems that an antidepressant, when prescribed for pain rather than depression, shouldn't cause these low feelings. I've always been sensitive to the side effects of medications so really, at this age, nothing should surprise me anymore.

Today, I absolutely made myself do something small and creative after I tackled the housework. I used some zippers to make this rosy necklace for Loopy... even though I saw the idea in San Francisco almost three years ago and now they're everywhere (including Claire's) I still had it rolling around in my mind and wanted to give it a go. It was as simple as it looks but if you try it yourself, use the sharpest needle you can find. Also, I backed it with a bit of black felt so the stitches on the backside wouldn't be rough against her skin. The heavy black chain actually is from Claire's, I snipped it apart and repurposed it for this.

Friends, how long does it take for you to get creative again after a setback of some sort? Like I said, I think I'm just really at the point where I'm going to have to make myself do things. Will you hold me to it?

not feeling too juicy

I managed to complete my conversation heart necklace that was largely unfinished after the event that Sassy and I hosted last weekend... you know how it is... you get to visiting with your friends, you get to swapping, and next thing you know, it's time to go home and your project isn't finished. That said, I'm happy with the way it turned out and I plan on getting some good use out of it next year. I embellished it with a few extra strings of chain I had on hand leftover from some other projects and it feels... well, downright juicy. I'm surprised I even took the time to finish it but I'm glad I did.

I have to be straight with you. I'm not feeling very juicy myself these days. I don't often mention it on the blog, but I struggle with a few health issues, not the least of which is pretty severe arthritis. The pain gets me down in the winter. Last week my doctor suggested that I try Cymbalta, a mild antidepressant to combat my general pain - it seems to help diabetics experiencing neuralgia. I thought it would be a good idea and after my specialist agreed I am giving it a genuine whirl... but I feel a bit like I've been hit by a really big truck. With a forklift on it. At a high speed. While wearing a miniskirt. So... vulnerable.

So rather than wallow on the couch and shuffle around here in my housecoat (as I've been doing) I thought it might be an idea to put it out to you, in blogland. I've never taken an antidepressant before (and I really do like my pills - better living through medication, you know) so I wasn't expecting to feel so low... so mentally low. Especially when I'm taking it for pain, not for my state of mind. It seems as something that is supposed to make you feel happier should not do the opposite; and it's particularly frustrating when I wasn't feeling low in the first place.

In fact, I came home from Las Vegas all charged up and full of ideas. My camera is stuffed with images of all sorts of inspiring things to try in the kitchen and the craft room - but I just can't muster up the enthusiasm. Aside from the fatigue, the tummy problems and other unwanted side effects like losing my appetite (but remember, you're always just one stomach flu away from your goal weight!) I just feel a general malaise that is hovering over me like a cloud and I'm wondering... do you know when it might go away? 

It might be two to four weeks before I see a difference in my pain reception, so I promised my doctors I'd give it a good go. I know it's a personal question to ask, but if you have any experience with this, please give me a word of advice.  I simply cannot lay on the sofa and watch Toddlers in Tiaras for the rest of the winter. That would be a new low, even for me.

I did promise to share some of the Valentines from the swap so here are a few that particularly tickled my fancy - I thought you might like to see them and file them in your idea file.

Karen of the KAGS fashioned delightful three dimensional tea cups and saucers in a Valentine theme, complete with tea bag and a message, "you're my cup of tea." A signed and numbered edition.

Let's all ask Erin, how did you do this? I should have snapped this unopened - it was a sealed can with a pull lid! How fun... and stuffed with conversation hearts. So Erin, how did you do this?

jkiddz came up with something very personal for everyone - a photo tile featuring every swapper with their Valentine. You can find her tutorial here.

Our resident Team Edward enthusiast, Jenn, came up with these adorably embellished cans of Crush - turn the wheel to reveal:

Her beloved vampire. She loves boys who sparkle.  You can see even more of the loot from the swap here.

Well peeps, I want to tell you to tune in tomorrow and I'll be here with something to show you but it seems that I can't promise that. I'll promise to try. Even if I could get into the kitchen and make some cookies - the kind of cookies that The Fan used to call desperation cookies, cookies that you make when the world seems a little bleak and you need a pick me up. I guess I could start there. 

what's going on

We had a busy week around here, and I'm sorry to say that some of it didn't get documented because I didn't have my camera with me. Bad Saucy!

Last weekend was the Valentine necklace party that I hosted with Sassy. You can see the project on her post, but in fact, mine isn't quite finished and I suppose now that Valentine's is over, I really should get on that. The Valentine swappers were inspired and some of the things they came up with were simply tremendous and if you'd like, I can take pictures and post them still.

Also, the Cheerios decorated cupcakes for the school staff on Wednesday after school - nine dozen of them. There was plenty of frosting "sampled" but I must say, I'm the most bummed out coach for not having pictures of the work bee. The girls were so enthusiastic and really gifted with the piping bags. If I ever open a cupcake store, I've got a few more potential employees!

The Cheerios have been waiting for a while now to stuff a team mascot. Since they cheer for the "Bears" we knew it had to be a teddy. To kick off the weekend, we hit Build-A-Bear Workshop as one, big, noisy group to get the job done. The first task was simply to pick a bear to stuff... I knew there'd never be a consensus but when I saw this bear named "Champ" I knew he was for us. Besides, a portion of his sales go to children's charities.

Every team member brought something to stuff inside the bear's tummy, something to represent themselves.

For starters, one of the girls wrote a dedication note - she also included the nail she broke at practice.

Our Australian exchange Cheerio put in a flag from down under.

One of the girls cut up a bit of her baby blanket in the shape of a heart... there were a few teary eyes. I put in a cupcake charm and a lucky chip from Las Vegas, Loopy stuffed in the green gummy bear we found on the gym floor during practice - a gummy bear in school colours? It had to go inside. Surely it was lucky candy trash.

Hearts were kissed and wished upon...

... and Bo the Bear was stuffed with love.

Ummm... fifteen year old girls still really get into stuffing bears. It's true! They took turns washing and dressing him, it was very cute. They even yelled one of their cheers into a small speaker that got stuffed in his paw - now he can cheer along with them.

Stuffed and done! He's ready to accompany us to competitions, sleepovers, or wherever furry friends are required.

Veto and I went to a movie for Valentine's Day over the weekend. From Paris With Love looked promising, but I can say this with all certainty: wait for the DVD. I'd read somewhere that it had beautiful shots of the gritty side of Paris scenery so I was looking forward to that, but alas, I can only say it looked sometimes like a sound stage. Gah. I don't even mind the whole action/adventure genre, but this movie just tried too hard. If you do go, there's a little reference to Pulp Fiction that tickled my fancy but wasn't worth the admission price.

I'm struggling to give From Paris With Love even one cupcake, but Veto enjoyed the action, so one cupcake it gets.

check out marlys

Veto and I were pretty excited to hear the news... our friend Marlys got to carry the Olympic torch in Vancouver this week. How cool is that?  It's very cool.

What a thrill for her!  I can't wait to find out the crazy details... like, did she get to keep the suit? Her husband just sent these photos and I thought you might find it as interesting as I do.

This photo was called "The Kiss" and I guess that makes sense. Olympic fever is in full-throttle up here in the Great White North. Actually, I might get a little sick of it before it's over but I'm enjoying moments like this and I'm really looking forward to the opening ceremonies on Friday night... are you? Now you can say you know someone who knows someone who carried the torch.

Happy Birthday, Loopy! She's really got the hang of this teenager thing: the cell phone, the Facebook, the chatting, the cheerleading. She's a good kid and she's fun to hang out with so I am enjoying these times with her. We didn't plan an all-out birthday party this year, but the Cheerios are meeting at Build-A-Bear Workshop on the weekend to stuff a mascot, so that will be like a little party. I'm putting together some Valentine treat bags.

I always find Loopy some sort of conversation heart goodies for her birthday... this year it was pyjama bottoms and some cologne.

Oh, and a reader left a comment on one of my recent posts about having problems with my new buttercream recipe. I assured her that it would be fine, as I was myself going to be using it over the weekend. It seemed her buttercream was turning runny and goopy and no amount of mixing could fluff it up.

So, off I went to the kitchen, eggs at the ready and whisk in hand. Things were going along nicely... until I had the same problem. Undaunted, I tried again... same thing. I started to worry about perhaps the moon going out of alignment or some such thing and gave it a third try - same gloopy, gloppy mess!

Veto stepped up to the plate, ran out for more butter. Then he ran out for more eggs. Then, sensing my frustration, he realized that I'd swapped out the measurements of water to sugar for my simple syrup! I checked the blog, and my recipe was correct there, but I'd switched it in my mind... so I'm wondering if that happened to Jenni, too. It was a simple mistake, I just wasn't reading carefully and Veto reminded me that I was tired, we'd just returned from our trip, and thought perhaps I should just stick to the tried-and-true recipe I usually use. 

No way. Once I realized that I had to use the thick simple syrup, I was on a roll... and at close to midnight... wrapped up the conversation heart cupcakes in time for the weekend event. I'll share that business with you tomorrow.

We interrupt this blog for a public service announcement!

Action For Nature is a non-profit organization looking to recognize youth ages 8 - 16 for their creative environmental projects or activism. Previous "Eco-Heroes" have created websites, organized events, and even built garden habitats for butterflies! 

It's amazing what kids today are passionate in. Some of the Cheerios take part in the environmental programs at school, and Loopy herself makes those fabulous albums out of repurposed bags and envelopes. If you know a student who might qualify or be interested in applying for a scholarship from Action for Nature, let them know that the deadline for applications is looming... February 28th. You can find out more information about the awards here. Check out some of the amazing things previous winners have accomplished... you'll feel compelled to put down your coffee and go sort your garbage. That's where I'm headed... see you tomorrow.

las vegas by the numbers

Well, I lurrved it. Las Vegas was everything I thought it would be... it was energizing and exciting. It was the perfect break. I'll break it down for you, by the numbers.

Zero: the amount of dollars we gambled. I just can't do it. It's not in my nature. We walked through all of the casinos and looked around, and on the last day, Veto suggested that maybe I should let that ten dollars of change ride in the slots. Well, I didn't have it on me, so I couldn't, but that's just as well. I mean, that's ten things from the dollar store, right?

Five: nights at Trump International Hotel. Located just off the strip, a stone's throw from the Wynn/Encore resort and across the street from Fashion Show Mall. The hotel has no casino, making it the perfect non-smoking and quiet haven from the chaos of Las Vegas Boulevard. The lobby smells amazing, filled with fresh orchids - I almost thought we were in Hawaii. The rooms were spacious, well appointed and luxurious. If you want to see Las Vegas but have a restful place to land at the end of the day, check in. Tell Donald that Saucy sent you.

Four: Jersey Boys singing. This show at the Palazzo was great. Saucy lurrves the jukebox musical genre and it is safe to say Veto might be getting on board, too. This is the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons - it's a cross between Goodfellas and Dreamgirls. Toe-tapping but with swagger.

45 dollars: the cost of a straight-blade shave at Art of Shaving in the Mandalay Bay resort. Veto usually finds a barber for a shave when we travel, and it's worth it... especially for the photo op.

67 miles per hour: on the roller coaster at New York, New York. The ride took us up 200 feet, dropped us down 140 feet, spun us around and completely inverted us, all in under two minutes.

275,000: number of cupcakes sold per year at The Cupcakery. We each had one: Veto tried lemon, I tried Kir Royale. I am sorry to report that they were dry and crumbly, the frosting was too sweet and very thick and pasty-like. I've never been so disappointed with a cupcake, and you know I've pretty much never met a cupcake I didn't like. Plus, there was so much yellow dye in Veto's cake, it turned the inside of his lips yellow. I still kissed him. 

1200: the number of jets in the water fountain show at The Bellagio. It was pretty awesome, we saw it on the last night. I was already a little nostalgic for Las Vegas by this point, knowing that we were leaving in the morning, and the Singin' In the Rain water number really thrilled me. Gene Kelly crooning nostalgia by the moonlight... it was just too much for me.

945: dollars for a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes, just like the ones Carrie wore in Sex and the City when she finally married Big. They're for sale at the Manolo boutique at the Wynn Esplanade. No, I did not buy them. But I held them, and really, that's enough.

Five: Juicy Couture stores and outlets that I dragged Veto to in the greater Las Vegas area, some of them more than once. These stops were not just for looking, as I scored a small handbag, a charm for my bracelet, a jacket for Loopy exactly like this one from Glee, and a funky limited-edition numbered book of Juicy advertising art that needs some TLC and maybe even some embellishment but when I am finished with it, it will be downright bloggable.

Do you want to know what my favourite part of Las Vegas was?

Two Sasha Semenoffs

Meeting the famous Sasha Semenoff of the Sasha Semenoff Orchestra and Casino fame. I've followed his career for years, since we have the same name and all, and I finally got to meet him as he strolled through Maggio's Italian Restaurant. I told him "my name is Sasha Semenoff" and he replied, "yes, my name is Sasha Semenoff!", it was so very cute. When we finally established that his last name and my maiden name were the same, he looked absolutely shocked. We had a lovely visit, exchanged cards and had our photo taken together. "Look!" I said to him, "I'm the tallest Sasha Semenoff here tonight!"

You can read about Sasha's amazing life and career here.

we're into it, the loopy and uncle bug editon

Loopy and Uncle Bug are mad about...

The Japanese animated series Sergeant Frog. They watch it on YouTube all the time and they love to quote the crazy subtitles from the theme song: "when you take your umbrella it is sunny", "you forgot to cook the curry rice", "sweep square places circularly" and "strawberry toothpaste is delicious"... huh?

Well, they seem to enjoy it. They're keeping track of how many of the 307 episodes they've seen. I think I'm glad to be in Las Vegas right now.

On Friday, Loopy got up early even though she had the day off school, and we made a Sergeant Frog cake for Uncle Bug's birthday. It was pretty easy, we pieced together the sides of his helmet with crescent cuts from one round layer and frosted them to another.

But that's not all... look what she's been working on since Christmas vacation:

So many little stitches! And without a pattern... this was a labour of love. In a flurry to wrap the stuffed frog at the last minute, I threw him in the bottom of a popcorn box and covered him with crumpled white, ivory and yellow tissue paper:

... and off we went. After the cake was eaten and the presents were opened, Loopy and Uncle Bug sat down on the sofa with Sergeant Frog, the remote control, and some real popcorn. Loopy later pronounced it the perfect celebration of Uncle Bug's birthday... don't you agree?