Wednesday, October 28, 2009


...we just need a little snuggle.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Time!

Andrew and I had a quick outing (a.k.a. needed dogfood) to Wal-Mart a couple of weeks ago, and I couldn't help but to browse the gourds and pumpkins. The gourds are my favorites... so many different colors and shapes and sizes! Thinking back to the snow-family I made during March, I couldn't resist picking out some smaller pumpkins to make a little pumpkin family. Of course, upon completion, I sent a picture to my sister titled "The Ray Family Pumpkins." And she cleverly replied back, "The Rumpkins!" Gah, love her!

The Original Rumpkins: Andrew, Chelsea, Copper, Penny and Kitty Bug.

I made these Rumpkins for my sis-in-laws, Mara and Anna, and Mara's kitten, Roger... but, alas! They didn't make it down to Statesboro like I planned, so now they are decorating my front stoop.

Our Big Rumpkin... took forever, but I love it!

The Big Rumpkin all lit up.

Our front stoop... if only Kitty Bug would pose in front of the hay bale for me!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Playing, Sleeping, Being Bad...

...what the pups have been up to this month:

Copper and Penny had a playdate with my friend Sierra's pup, Piper. Copper has a huuuuuge crush on Piper and never takes his eyes off of her. I think it's her little booties. (Head out of the gutter... I'm talking about her furry feet!) Penny is ok with her, as long as she gets some attention, too!

Daddio shows Copper some loving... he is in heaven when he can sit on a piece of furniture and get a belly rub! The best part is... Penny let him have his moment! Usually, she barges in and demands the attention with a sweet snuggle.

One night while I was doing, um, important research on the computer (facebook, gossip blogs, recipe hunting), all of the kids snuggled up together. Our sunroom is an office/puproom/gateway from the deck to the kitchen, and we have a really old hand-me-down chair and ottoman in there. This is the one piece of furniture that the pups are technically allowed on. (Though that doesn't stop them from giving the couch a try a few times a week.) Lately, Kitty Bug wants to be with the pups all the time!

This past Friday night, Andrew was out of town. Being the genius that I am, I decided that it was a perfect night to watch scary movies. Luckily, since Andrew was gone, I could sneak the pups inside to sleep for the night! Guard dogs, yes! They, of course, slept like logs from 9pm until 7am, while I jumped at every single noise and slept with the lights on. Anyway, I put them out at 7 and went back to bed. When I woke up a couple of hours later, I rolled over and looked out the window to see Copper snoozing on top of the patio table. He must've been exhausted from shredding the umbrella. Bad, Copper! Where is Penny? Well, do you see the ripped up grill cover on the railing in front of Copper? She had pulled that down and through the rails to make herself a warm little nest. Oh, kids. The trouble you can get into in just 2 hours!

Sunday was COLD. Frigid. Ok, it was probably 50 degrees, but aren't we all anxious for the holidays? It was cold enough for me to steal Andrew's sweatpants and wool socks. Copper has a body of thick fur that keeps him toasty warm, but poor Penny can not handle the cold very well. She spends every cold outside minute in her doghouse, which her Daddy keeps filled with cedar chips to keep her warm. (And man, does she smell good! Just like a fresh and clean hamster cage!) My lumberjack husband had just chopped some wood the day before, so we enjoyed a toasty warm fire (uh, yes the windows are open). And Penny got to curl up and take a warm nap!

And being the sucker that I am, once the pups were cozy and sleeping, I just couldn't put them outside for the night. I spent the night on the couch so that they could stay right where they were. Next step: gates for the kitchen! If they can sleep in there and not get out and roam the house (I can picture horrid images of mass destruction at the expense of a crappy gate or two), I can sleep peacefully in my bed.

A Walk with Kitty Bug, Take 2

The first weekend of October had a truly gorgeous Saturday. It got toasty pretty quick, but the morning was beautiful. After Andrew cooked our anniversary breakfast and before I was elbows deep in marshmallow sticky-mania, we finished up our coffee outside with the pups. Poor Kitty Bug was just sitting at the door watching our little family, so I decided she needed to participate! I brought out her harness and leash (she loooves to hate those things), strapped her up and brought her out to join us! She hasn't been on a "walk" since March BP (that's Before Pups), and she has never been in the backyard, so it was an adventure for us to watch Kitts invade puppy territory.

Before crossing the border, Kitty Bug had to be inspected by Copper Bud. I imagine him saying (in the goofed-up human voice we give him), "Kitty Bug Lalla-Ray, are you carrying any illegal substances into this great country of Big Kids Backyard, Kitty Bug?" He was easily won over with a sweet Kitty head butt.

Kitty stopped and chatted with Penny... "girls only". Poor Copper pouted through that conversation. He must've been the butt of all their jokes.

She tested out the shade under the patio table, while Copper ran at me saying, "Momma, take MY picture, Mommaaaa!"

Isn't Penny the most precious looking pup in the world?

Copper saying, "Hey Momma, CHEEEEEEEESE!" Goofy butt.

Kitty ventured off the deck when Penny offered to show her where the grass is hidden. (In case you are wondering, it is hidden amongst the weeds in the Never-Ending Yard Project. Now there's a post for another day.)

Copper the Customs Agent checking to make sure Kitts does not smuggle any grass back into the House of Rays.

Kitty Bug walking the fence, just like the pups do!

She was in heaven... every which way she turned her head, she took a nibble of grass. This was after she attempted to climb a tree, give me a heart attack, and set the pups into a frenzy of running fits. All-in-all, the Kitty invasion was a success!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Celebrating 1 Year of Marriage

Andrew and I celebrated our 1st Anniversary a day early on Saturday October 3rd. Andrew went to the Metallica concert in Atlanta with his boss on Sunday, and besides- Saturdays are more fun anyway, right? Well, I guess technically we started celebrating Friday night when we went on a date to the grocery store. (Anyone else enjoy grocery dates? Andrew and I started this little diddy in high school... we'd shop for some fun cooking ingredients and then invade one of our parents' kitchens/grills.) After dinner, we shared a bottle of wine and watched Sara Bareilles- Live at the Fillmore on Palladia. That girl can sing. When she broke out the guitar halfway through, I thought Andrew was going to have a conniption fit. Well, actually... um, he doesn't want anyone to know he likes her music. Can't ruin his hard rock image (Metallica, rock. Sara, not.)... but she can sing! And play piano! And play guitar! And she's pretty! Perfectly acceptable for him to crush on her and enjoy her music, right? Anyway, it was a great show and it will be a loooooong while before that one leaves our DVR list.

Saturday I woke up a little early so that I could get a head start on Andrew's anniversary present. We went the homemade route this year, since we are currently penny-pinching. Andrew cooked us a delicious breakfast while I leisurely sipped some coffee (and secretly stressed over several recipes I've never attempted before!). After we ate, I kicked him out of the kitchen with strict orders to keep his eyes closed anytime he walked through the kitchen, and his nose closed anytime he was in the house. Luckily, he was busy lining the fence with logs to cover the holes that our talented escape artist, Copper, dug throughout the past week. ANYwhoo...

Here is our one-year old top tier thawing out that Saturday. I'm not a big cake fan, so Andrew picked the cake for our wedding... and he really really wanted chocolate chip cookie cake. Our wedding cake ended up being stacked cookie cakes covered in frosting and fondant. It looked like a normal cake on the outside, but the inside was all the comfort of a chocolate chip cookie! I was in super-wedding-tradition mode when we got home from the festivities last year, and would not let Andrew even think about slicing into that wedding cake until 10/4/09, lest all the gloom and doom of failed marriages fall upon us! I was dead serious. I even wrapped up a threatening note with the cake just in case he was tempted. I had a little post-wedding Bridezilla moment, I guess.

It hit me about a month after the wedding, and even worse about a month before our anniversary... how in the world would cake that had been frozen for a year possibly taste good? Why did I torture my new husband by taking his very favorite treat and sticking it in the freezer, next to his beer mugs, where he would see it almost every day for the next year and just... WANT it? How will I stand the look on his face when he finally gets to unwrap that delicious treat... and realizes it tastes like frosted doodoo? Especially when one year ago, if his wife wasn't such a post-wedding bridezilla, he could have happily been in a sugar-induced coma? Oh, the horror!

So, Operation Homemade Anniversary Gift (OHAG) commenced: remake the cake. I was inspired by my sis-in-law, Allie, who has been taking Wilton cake courses at JoAnn. I visited her and my brother in September, and watched her work her magic. I thought, "I can DO this! I can redeem my bridezilla act with one simple cake!" So I collected all the necessary recipes to complete OHAG: Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe altered to have a more cake-like texture, buttercream frosting, and marshmallow fondant. As soon as I kicked Andrew out of the kitchen that Saturday morning, my Kitchenaid was working overtime getting the dough ready to fill three cake pans.

Here are those three cookie cake layers stacked and frosted. The frosting recipe claimed it would cover an 8" 2-layer cake. I doubled it since I had a 9" 3-layer cake... and I still could have used more! I used every last bit... there wasn't even much to lick... er, CLEAN off the spatula!

Then came the REAL adventure. Fondant. Marshmallow fondant. Do you know what makes this? A WHOLE bag of mini-marshmallows... MELTED. And 2 POUNDS of powdered sugar. Oh, and a little bit of water. This is literally the sweetest super glue in the world while it is being made. The recipe stressed that I needed to coat my countertop and my hands in Crisco. It didn't lie. Andrew walked in while I was in the middle of attempting to knead this mountainous blob of sugar glue (and completely ignored the 'close your eyes' rule!), looked at me like I was mental (which I really was on the edge at that point), and walked out. That. Stuff. Was. Everywhere. I would've taken a picture, but I didn't want to be Mrs. Camerahands for the rest of my life. Anyway, once glue finally transitioned to fondant-consistency, I attempted to add some food coloring. Once I got to a lovely shade of Shrek green, I gave up trying to get it to sage green and slapped that sucker on the cake. (Well, after 2 tries.)

So here is our little setup... the old cake, the new cake, the cards, and Andrew's 'homemade' gift... flowers. He cheated, but at least in a non-expensive pretty way.

So, after a loooong day in the kitchen, I grabbed Andrew with my still-sticky hand and led him to the table. He immediately cut into the old cake... it was as if he couldn't put off the potential disappointment any longer. Especially since he had a whole extra cake to eat! Anyway, we both hesitantly scooped a forkful and ate it. It was... heavenly! It was as if it hadn't spent a whole year in the freezer! It was as if we just sliced into the first time and smashed it into each other's faces! It was the perfect blend of cookie-ness and doughyness all wrapped up with icing. And how could it possibly end up tasting even better than it did on our wedding day?! I have no idea, but thank goodness it did and goodbye Bridezilla guilt! Andrew ate at least four slices of cake that night- 2 of the old and 2 of the new!

We decided to give grilled pizza a whirl (hence the night-before grocery date). I prepped some dough in the breadmaker and we went to town with our toppings. Andrew had mozzarella, parmesan, mushrooms, pepperoni, and bacon bits! I kept it simple and used the fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. When we got those suckers off the grill and tasted them... oh goodness. I. Am. Ruined. No regular old oven baked pizza will do it for me! I want it fresh and I want it grilled! SO yum.

It was a late dinner since I spent so long in the kitchen that day. After we ate the pizza, Andrew turned on the Auburn game and I crashed on the couch and took a 3 HOUR nap. I don't take naps. That was one epic nap. And I only woke up to move from the couch to the bed at midnight. EPIC, I tell you. WW3 could have taken place in my living room and I wouldn't have moved. I kept apologizing to Andrew for taking an epic nap on our anniversary, and he finally said "Chels (which is pronounced 'Cheltz' in his country voice), I was asleep just about as long as you were!" So he did get his sugar-induced coma after all. :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Candlers!

Happy 3rd Anniversary to Shannon and Matt!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Catching Up, September 2009

When we got back from vacation, Andrew's family was at the house waiting for us! They had the pups at their house for the week while we were on vacation, and met us back in Macon to drop them off and spend Labor Day with us.

We went out on the boat and Andrew (successfully!) did some waterskiing. Mara and Anna tubed for a bit, and then we found a quiet cove and floated around for a while. It was a wonderful, relaxing day... and it definitely made coming back from vacation much easier.

On September 8th, Justin and Kara's sweet little Avery Grace was born! (Justin went to high school with us and was Andrew's roommate in college. Kara was also at Georgia Southern with them, and is such a sweet person.) Avery was born with CDH (Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia), and was brought straight to the NICU at Egleston in Atlanta after she was born. She had surgery less than a week after she was born, and has been recovering so well since- she is such a little fighter! Andrew and I got to go and see her last week, and what a blessing she is. She was very alert and content, and made the sweetest little noises. For a little person who has already been through so much, she is perfectly happy! We're hoping and praying that soon she will be leaving the NICU and heading home to her Mommy and Daddy.

And I believe that means we are finally caught up! :) From here on out, I can post about current events and more! Take THAT procrastination... he he he.

Catching Up, Vacation!!!!

August 29 through September 4, we spent a wooooonderfully long week at the beach! We went to Seagrove Beach, which is on the panhandle of Florida, in between Panama City Beach and Destin. It was a beautiful area, and it was only about 4 1/2 hours from Macon. We were just a couple miles from Seaside (where The Truman Show was filmed), and enjoyed a couple of dinners/lunches out. And I enjoyed a LOT of gelato.

Andrew's had it pretty rough at work the past few months, so he spent the majority of his time snoozing and boozing. (Note the slack jaw and tilted beer... it was a close one!) The weather was perfect- a balmy 80ish degrees, so we were never uncomfortably hot. We were on a private beach surrounded by homes rather than condominiums, so there were no crowds. We walked straight down the steps to the water each morning and didn't budge until dinner.

I spent the days snoozing and enjoying my Kindle. I only made it through one book (I read Twilight. AGAIN. Lord help me, I can't move on from that series.) Andrew's iPod and Sirius radio kept me boppin' in my chair (when his snoring wasn't drowning out the music, haha). We saw lots of dolphins and sting rays. Thankfully, we only saw 2 jellyfish. The water was perfectly calm the first 3 days... it was like sitting by a lake! The last few days, the waves picked up and Andrew especially enjoyed that.

It was a wonderful, relaxing, fun, relaxing, perfect (and did I mention relaxing?) week. No crowds, perfect weather, beautiful beach, delicious food, gelato (!!!)... we had a great time. Although we enjoyed it being just the two of us, we're hoping to vacation with family next year. My Ma and Pa's 30th wedding anniversary is next October... I can't think of a better way to celebrate than to be at the beach together! It's been probably 9 years since the Lalla's were together at the beach. I can remember the Astro van parked on the beach with the back open, Pa under his umbrella, Ma soaking up the sun... ah, family. :)