Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy (almost) birthday...

... to Sensei!

And as a little homage to him turning a year old, here's his sort-of birth story. Or at least how Bill and I became his parents :)

Now, growing up, I always thought those people who were so obsessed with their dogs were strange. I mean, it's only a pet, right? It's not like it can talk to you or take care of you when you're sick or take you out to dinner. It's just an animal. Maybe it's because I never had one (my dad's allergic), but I was always just content to play with my friends' dogs and then head back to my pet-free home. Don't get me wrong, I love dogs, but I wasn't necessarily a dog person. You know the type I'm talking about. Dog magnets on the fridge, hit up PetSmart once a week, know their neighbors only by their dogs and not their actual names, hang out with other dog-owners at the dog park and trade stories...

But on to the story. After a few years together, Bill had promised me that we could eventually get a dog, though. He had one when he was younger and really loved her, and I knew I could totally get into being a dog-owner. I liked them, and I knew it would be fun. Bill told me he'd probably get me a puppy for Christmas last year, which was really exciting for me. And if you know Bill, you'll know that he researches any decision before he makes it. (As a side note, this is a wonderful trait of his, as it completely balances out my tendency to just do things impulsively without knowing what I am doing.) Anyways, over the summer he had researched dog training techniques, types of dogs, crate training, and so on. It was a little overwhelming, but I knew we would be ready by Christmas. Let's face it, Bill actually already knew what he was doing, but he was giving me plenty of time to prepare for a puppy. I'd never had a pet before, so I wanted to be ready... I can hardly imagine what people go through when they are preparing for human babies! So by this time, it was late July and we still had about five months to prepare ourselves by puppifying Bill's home and getting everything we needed; but all that changed. It was getting to be the end of the summer, and one hot humid afternoon, we decided to take a trip to the local humane society. During my time at Furman, I had visited one of Greenville's animal shelters to play with the puppies, and I know how important volunteers are to organizations like these. I figured Bill and I could play with the puppies, maybe look into how to go about adopting one, etc. Once there, we found a group of three puppies (two girls and their brother) who had just been brought in. They were only 8 weeks old and ADORABLE. I'm talking the kind of adorable that made me want to put all three of them in my purse and run. Bill and I were able to take all three of them into an open pen and play around with them. Right away, Bill and I both fell in love with the little boy. These dogs were some kind of black lab/border collie/terrier mix, and while the two sisters looked like baby labs, the boy puppy had the scruffiest little face. We were hooked. This dog had chewed on my purse and almost peed on my foot, so you know it must have been love if I still wanted him. Bill and I filled out the applications that day and the next week of waiting was awful. What if we didn't get him?! The Forsyth County Humane Society actually takes adoptions very seriously - they called our references, even! But soon it was August 5th and we were taking him home! Originally named Guy, we changed his name to Sensei. First off, because he just plain looked like that should be his name; secondly, because Bill and I met at the karate school where Bill was a sensei (it means "teacher" in Japanese). We love telling people his name, because if they get it, they think it is so cool! We did debate for about a day whether we should name him Splinter, after the rat from TMNT, since he has that whole scruffy beard thing going on.

And from that day on, I became a dog person. And you know Bill is, too. I'm that girl that takes pictures of my dog constantly, Bill takes him to puppy classes and videotapes him being crazy, I know some of Bill's neighbors only because of their own dogs, we go to dog parks and bond with other owners - it's a whole different culture I never knew existed. I love this puppy so much (can I still call him a puppy? He's so big now! And old.) that I brag on him, and talk to him like a person, and I promise you, Bill and I treat him like he's our child. Seriously. When I talk to Sensei about Bill, I call him "your daddy." And on this Friday, May 28, our little dude is turning a year old (see what I mean about pretending he is a person!) So here's a little nostalgic shot of the day we brought him home...

And here he is last week! He's grown from 9 pounds to 32 and among other tricks, will shake your hand when asked :)

And I must say: if you are at all thinking about getting a pet, please please please go to the humane society. They do great things there, they are always overcrowded, and these pets just need some lovin' like everyone else does! Sensei has been such an awesome blessing in our lives and he is just so cool. There's no other word for him, and I can't imagine what I would do with all my time if I couldn't hang out with that puppy. Even if you can't adopt an animal right now, think about volunteering time with the animal shelter or supporting events like Woofstock. The humane society website has lots of ways you can help!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cake pictures

Here's an inside shot of the rainbow cake from last week:

Yesterday I made a cake with oreo filling, and it is delicious. It was really simple - I just used the same buttercream icing recipe as usual, but mixed in several oreos' worth of crumbs (I crushed them by rolling a glass bottle over a ziploc freezer bag with about 10 oreos in it) and added a couple tablespoons of light corn syrup to thin it out some. I don't have a picture of the inside, but I do have one of the top. I used these new cake stencils (for lack of a better word). I think it turned out pretty well, except my cake was too small, so I wasn't able to fit the exact design I wanted. But it looks nice and it tastes great!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Showing off

My new camera! I love this shot of Sensei.

Monday, May 17, 2010

my first weekend as a Carolina alum..

... was pretty eventful! I have to say, if this past week is any indicator of my life as a UNC graduate, I am going to be pretty busy (but blessed!)

My rainbow cake was completed, though not without some hitches. This is an important note to anyone attempting this: DO NOT skimp on the batter. Basically, a rainbow cake involves making a many-layered white cake, and dying each layer a different color. I used some neon coloring I have, and I made 4 layers: hot pink, purple, blue, lime green. Cute, right? Well, I decided to just use one cake mix, and made my layers fairly thin. This actually was a problem. I know now that next time I will just use 2 mixes, and make normal-size layers. These were so thin that two of them literally broke in half when place on top of another layer. (They were too thin for me to cut off the tops to level them...) I thought I could fill it in with icing, but it ended up being a little difficult. All in all, the cake looked fine once it was iced, and it received rave reviews (both for the taste of my mom's buttercream icing recipe! and the decorating job) but it was stressful. But that's what baking/cooking is all about - trial and error. So now I know. I have a couple pictures, but they've not yet been uploaded to my computer...

And speaking of pictures - after years of desire, and a very long decision process, I decided to splurge and buy a new digital SLR! The Nikon D3000. I've had it about 38 hours and I am loving it. My wonderful grandfather gave me some graduation money and told me to use it for something I wanted (not needed) and that pushed me over the edge. I have taken a lot of photos so far - my best friend's hooding ceremony at Wake Forest (she got her Masters - yay Michelle!); my adorable puppy (who is almost a year old!) and the house Bill and I are looking at. Sadly, nothing has made it from my camera to my macbook yet - that's an adventure for later this week.

But I'll leave you with two photos: the first is of Sensei on the day Bill and I brought him home from the humane society when he was almost 9 weeks old... The second was taken on Bill's birthday in February, when Sensei was about 9 months old. Look how he's grown!

Oooh and a little PS - summer is here and that means it's time for all of my favorite warm-weather foods. Bill and I tried a little berry cobbler in the slow cooker this evening and it was delicious! I just googled "berry cobbler crockpot" and a simple recipe popped up - I highly recommend it. We used blackberries, raspberries and strawberries and paired it all with ice cream. My stomach is growling just thinking about it all!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Nintendo characters.... or cupcakes?

My mom needed treats to take to work the other day, so i attempted polka dot cupcakes. One of my goals of this summer is to really work on my cake baking and decorating skills. (Watch out, KI: Bill has volunteered you all as my guinea pigs... my parents would kill me if I made a cake every week for the 3 of us to eat!)

All was going well until somehow water splashed from the double boiler into my melted chocolate, causing it to seize up and harden. Sad, I know, but I am determined to make all of my cake creations using icing a/o chocolate - no fondant for this girl! It just doesn't taste good... Anyways, I had only made the big polka dots at this point, and no little ones. Sadly, what I had envisioned as adorable cupcakes (adapted from a design at the Riviera Bakehouse ) ended up looking more like Toadstool from the Nintendo Mario series...

(taken from Toys N Joys website)

But here they are anyways. My mom said everyone at work enjoyed them and thought they were cute... and they tasted yummy, which is really all that matters!

Tomorrow I tackle a rainbow cake to donate (as a surprise!) to the Masters' Council meeting at KI Saturday. I just finished baking the cakes- yes, at 12:30. I've become a bit of an insomniac the past couple of months - so here's hoping they're still as cute in the morning as I think they are now!

And in the spirit of updating as a true blogger would, I am happy to say that this has been a great week! Bill and I found a house we love, so please keep your fingers and toes crossed for us. It is in the best location possible for us, has a beautiful deck (one of my dreams) and a workshop (Bill's dream!) I also found out some terrific news about grad school, so it appears that things are actually all coming together even better than I could ever have anticipated. AND only 128 days til the wedding! Eek, I better get to work! And more good news: my brother is unexpectedly coming home tomorrow for EIGHT DAYS. As he's a manager for the basketball team at UNC-Charlotte, he rarely is able to come home more than a couple of days at a time, so this is going to be a real treat for my family! Especially me, because my potential job doesn't start until June 14, so I'll have someone to hang out with, rather than making cakes and getting fat or talking to my dog all day like he's a human.

Good night!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Worst blogger ever?

That would be me. The worst blogger ever. It's been almost 3 months since I last posted! Needless to say, the end of my career at UNC was insane. I have never had a more busy or bittersweet period in my life. I am really excited to be moving on (and getting married!!) but leaving Chapel Hill is much harder than I ever imagined it would be. Sitting in Kenan Stadium under the Carolina Blue sky yesterday, listening to John Grisham advising me to read a book a month and call my parents at least once a week was a very surreal experience. It feels like just yesterday I was leaving for Furman University, and then transferring to UNC, and now I am a 22-year-old college graduate. Ahh!

I moved back home today, which isn't as sad for me as some might expect. I absolutely love my parents, and it's fun to be home with them for the last time of my life - eek! Talk about another bittersweet experience!

So to reflect on my last semester at UNC, I am sad to say I didn't complete all of my bucket list. I never had a kvetch published in the DTH (although not for lack of trying), I didn't make it to the Bosh, and I didn't climb the Bell Tower (not my fault though - I had plans to go until the date was changed and I was out of town for a BON JOVI show! But Wandaly was sweet enough to sign my name when she climbed it! What a wonderful friend) But I did make it to Mama Dip's - and sat at the table behind her, actually! - I went to a movie at the Varsity (The Princess Bride - one of my favorites!) and I even saw the streakers in the UL... It may sound gross, but it was one of the funniest experiences of my time at UNC. And I got to experience it with Sara, Jon and Travis, so you know it was a fun time!

Moving on, before I think too much about how much I am going to miss everyone and all of the memories we have. (Even though I am watching DWTS right now, and Chad Ochocinco is cracking me up, I am missing Sara since we always watched it together!) A little preview of my summer:

Finding a job.
Preparing for grad school - that's right, I was accepted! I found out on my last day of classes at UNC - a great way to lose motivation right before finals, huh? Watch out, world, I'm going to be a Master of Education :)
Finishing up wedding planning.
Concerts - I am going to see Neil Young in just a few weeks!
Cakes, cakes and more cakes.
Shopping - I have a lot of money for IKEA, thanks to my beautiful friends from my bridal shower, AND I am in the market for a DSLR.
House decorating - my mom found this cute little carolina blue side table during bulk pickup in Winston, with the goal of her and I refinishing it - I am so excited!

Here are a few pictures from the past few months to catch everyone up... more will follow!

A picture with some of my favorite UNC girls during one of many graduation photo shoots

With all of my best friends (and my fantastic mom and FMIL) at my bridal shower in March

Bill's Boba Fett birthday cake - I am proud to say he LOVED it!