thanksgiving in pics


[1] girls making place tags
[2] place tags: "i love it when a plan comes together." - mom
[3] dining room table
[4] dining room table - aerial view
[5] centerpiece = collaboration by mom, jayne & me
[6] dad & jayne's awesome hors d'oeuvres
[7] cute bangs, bangsy.
[8] six/eight of our thanksgiving party
[9] katie beth & little karalyn
[10] look at that smiley little love!


sneak peek 5


Today's auction sneak peek involves 2 amazing blogs:

Check out Emily's tales of life as the mother of soon-to-be SIX kiddos!
Entertaining, heartfelt, beautiful - this momma has her hands full of love & laughter.

and learn a little more about this sweet family of four!

Is your curiosity piqued?! 
Dec. 5-9


sneak peek 4

Some artwork...
[Rachel Shockey]

Some photography...
[Jeremy Gerhardt]

And some jewelry... 
[Calista Miakoda]

Be excited!
I am!

Dec. 5-9

P.S. Want a sneak peek of all the AWESOME donors so far?? Check it out! 
And be sure to check out their websites for more great products!


a story about cupcakes.

... a post in which I both brag and complain. It's like an American miracle.

On Thursday afternoon, the female teachers at my school had a shower for our co-worker, Elise, who is expecting her first baby - a daughter! - in January. I volunteered to make (surprise, surprise...) cupcakes!

I was inspired by this ruffled cake by Sweetapolita and this tea-party that she did. Then I saw this pin by Manda and knew I had to make pink cupcakes. And finally, since I love raspberry as a flavoring in... pretty much anything, I wanted to re-visit these cupcakes by Annie that I've made before and maybe tie in these cupcakes by Annie as well.

So. I had a glorious picture in my mind of dainty, pink ruffly cupcakes with raspberry filling.
I was pretty pleased with the result. The end!

Just kidding, because if you know me, you know that there were obviously some bumps in the road. 

I started out with ridiculously high and lofty goals, and decided that I would try to make the pink of the cake fade from light to dark. I had purchased gel food coloring, which I've never used before in my life, and thankfully, I had the gut instinct that a little would go a long way. I dabbed the tip of a knife into the food coloring - barely anything. Wiped the blade on the paddle of my mixer and began to stir it into the cake mix, and the batter turned, like, neon pink. So, there went my idea for changing the shades of pink. Oh well, the cupcakes will be pink, which is cute.

Baked the cupcakes. All was well. Made raspberry filling, all was well. Started to make raspberry buttercream frosting. 

I opened the cream that I had purchased THAT DAY, and huge clumps of nastiness plopped out into my half-made frosting. Now, I don't know if I should admit this online, but if I were just making these cupcakes for myself or maybe even family members, I might have just scooped out said clumps of nastiness and gotten different cream and continued. But I was taking these to a baby shower, and there was a chance that the guest of honor might eat one and who knows what bad cream could do to an unborn baby, because I didn't really pay attention in biology, and frankly, I don't even know if we covered that. Then I thought about what would happen if I made all the female teachers sick, where would we get that many substitute teachers, and how would our school survive if only our male co-workers were there? So I just threw away the tainted frosting. 

Thankfully, I had purchased another container of cream, and could successfully create my raspberry buttercream. My illustrious dream of ruffly pink goodness was about to become a reality. I pulled out a Ziploc bag (to pipe with - I keep it classy.), which I had also just purchased that day... and realized that I had mistakenly grabbed a box of 2-gallon bags. Why are there 2-gallon Ziplocs? 1. Who has that much freezer space? 2. What are you storing? Leftover turkeys? 

Anyway, I cut the bag in half and put the box back, lacerating my index finger on the cutting edge of the parchment paper box. I made some weird, pained noises and Doug came in and helped bandage my poor, afflicted finger. The show must go on!

I started trying to make pretty, ruffly, ribbon-like frosting decor on a cupcake. The operative word being "trying". Sweet mercy, these things were ugly. In fact, I saved a picture on my computer as "ugly cupcake".
Maybe you can't really tell, but take my word for it. These things were not living up to my expectations.

At which point I decided to try to make roses. Which, surprisingly, were much easier than I anticipated. But I realized I was going to run out of frosting. So, in a last minute effort, I made some chocolate ganache and finished my cupcakes. Ta-da! They ended up looking kind of cute, and the shower was really fun and people liked them. The end? 

The next morning, one of my co-workers told me she had an allergic reaction to the cupcakes. I'm not joking.   (She was okay - just lip & facial tingling and minor swelling... no breathing problems or anything.) Apparently she's never had a reaction to any of the ingredients I listed before, so she thinks she might have developed an allergy to raspberries...

Lesson learned? Maybe just buy some cookies for school-related events. 

Also, I had a cupcake for breakfast today.


auction sneak peek 3

Less Ordinary Designs is donating a card design & print credit to our auction!
I absolutely love Sara's work.
You may have noticed her adorable button on my sidebar.
Be sure to check out her Etsy shop and blog
And make sure you jump at the opportunity to work with her creative genius!
Dec. 5-9


another sneak peek!

Check out this beautiful necklace from sTuckintheCoop
It could be yours...
Dec. 5-9

(p.s. Take some time to look at the other beautiful work by sTuckintheCoop!)


in the kitchen with rachel... clara.

My mom & Jayne came to visit last weekend. We had a full weekend of touring Canton, thrifting, getting coffee/hot chocolate, going for walks with Zooey, baking, playing Euchre (Jay & I beat Mom & Doug... twice!), and so much giggling. I had planned on making Mom's mac n' cheese for lunch on Saturday, but I forgot to start the process in the morning (needs 4 hrs in a crockpot), so we improvised and made homemade tomato soup & grilled cheese. I was worried, because I do like Campbell's tomato soup, but I loathe raw tomatoes, so I wasn't sure if I'd like homemade tom soup. Answer: I DO. Delicious. We got the recipe here & adapted it a bit, but this is a good start. 
And who doesn't love that amazing stretch of cheese when you pull apart the triangles?!
I also baked a pie for Ethan's 21st birthday. He was supposed to meet Mom & Jay in Erie, PA on their way home, but kid was a no show. What's the deal, E? Apparently it's in Mom & Dad's freezer, waiting for you. For shame. Could have had a fresh pie. For shame.
 Okay, this last pic is from awhile ago. Remember how I said I had an awesome culinary experiment involving the caramel cream cheese dip? Well, I decided to try it as frosting with these apple pie cupcakes. It was pretty good, but shockingly - jot this one down in the record books - maybe too sweet. I know. I just said that.
That picture looks pretty disgusting, but it tasted good... sigh, the pictures on my blog leave a lot to be desired... I should take more time to take pretty pictures for my blog & make them look fancy. Maybe someday.

On an unrelated note, we had our first 2 home studies today! Hooray! (Edit: you can read a brief story about my thoughts surrounding the home study here!) Now the paper chase begins...


auction update and sneak peek!

What: Adoption Auction
When: Dec. 5-9
Why: to raise money for our adoption 
How: browse through the great list of items & simply comment with your bid!

It's just in time for Christmas! There are some incredible items & services that will make great Christmas gifts.

If you like golf, then you'll be ecstatic about a donation package involving Victoria National Golf Club - voted #35 of the Top 100 golf clubs by Golf Digest!
                                                                                                                                                      image from VNGC website      
Stay tuned for more sneak peeks!
& help us spread the word - tell your friends & families & blog readers about our auction!


catch up: 10-on-10 and conferences

Well, I did remember to do ten six-on-ten, but that was the day we had parent-teacher conferences all day. So, I got 6 pictures. Because I thought it might be awkward to snap a picture of parents.

[1] I could get used to waking up at 7:30 each morning.
[2] Taking pictures at red lights.
[3] Peppermint mochas (one for me, one for Patti - I promise!)
[4] Back early from lunch. (Morning: 9-12pm, afternoon: 1-4pm). More caffeine. Lesson planning.
[5] Hi Patti! We LOVE conferences!
[6] Outside of Office Max on the way home for dinner (yeah, had to go back for more conferences from 6-9pm!). Can you tell it is SNOWING?

More 10-on-10 here!

Some fun tales from parent-teacher conferences:
- I made a mom cry. But it wasn't bad. I told her I was praying for her child who is struggling with something right now... I still felt bad for making her cry in public.
- I found out that a parent has read/maybe still reads my blog on occasion? Hello, parents! I'd like to take this time to reiterate that I love my students and the school where I teach!
- I did not get yelled at by any parents. No matter how many good conferences I have, this is always my fear.
- The best quote of the night that made the whole day worth it? "Thank you for educating my daughter.  Teaching is the most difficult and honorable profession I know." Wow. I can think of some other professions that are more difficult and more honorable, but I surely appreciate the sentiment.

Coming next: adoption auction update and a sneak peek!


recently i'm... (21)

Excited About: Our home study!! We were accepted to our agency & have our 1st two home studies scheduled! Hooray! (Lots of exclamation points!)

Also Excited About: (More exclamation points ahead!!) Mom & Jayne coming to visit this weekend!!!

NOT Looking Forward To: Parent-Teacher conferences tomorrow. Ugh.

Sewing: My friend Lindsay ordered three outfits for a baby shower - one more to go! (Pictures will be coming... sometime...)

Reading: Still working through Orphanology, and also working through The Connected Child. Loving both of them.

Overwhelmed By: the generosity of friends, family and people I don't even know. We have received so many great donations for the adoption auction - you are all seriously AWESOME. I'm so humbled and so, so grateful... So be sure to spread the word! There are some sweet products that you will NOT want to miss!

Enjoying: Mornings of "daylight savings time". People. This week it hasn't been pitch black when I leave my house in the morning! Granted, it's darker in the evenings, but mornings are so much easier when it's light out!

Cooking: Quick, awesome story. While Victoria & Jeremy were here, I made Pumpkin Spice Pancakes (ala - who else - Annie). They were delectable. Monday night I told Doug that I was going to make them for dinner on Tuesday (yesterday). True story: Victoria texted me last night to say that she was making them for dinner. We did not plan it. We are the same person. Another true story: I will be making them for breakfast on Saturday. I want one right now just thinking about them.

Listening To: Coldplay's newest album, Mylo Xyloto. My favorite song (for now) is "Charlie Brown".

Doing A Lot Of: Sewing, soliciting, cleaning, grading.

Slacking On: Taking pictures (but I will do ten-on-ten tomorrow!). Working out. I don't even want to talk about it.

Needing: To get my bangs trimmed... badly.

Headed out: To dinner at Zac & Patti's!


adoption auction!

Friends & Family -
We are so excited to announce our newest fundraiser!

Coming in DECEMBER -

an online adoption auction
to help bring our babe home!

We have already secured some awesome donations,
but we are asking for YOUR help to make this a success!

Do you sew? Crochet? Knit? Paint? Make jewelry?
Do you have a service you'd like to donate?
(photography, babysitting, baking, etc)
Do you own a business that sells exciting products?
Do you sell Pampered Chef? Lia Sophia? Mary Kay?

OR - do you know of someone who does?

If so, please leave a comment with your email address,
or email me at rachel.parton@gmail.com.

Please feel free to pass along information about our auction
and my contact information to anyone you think might be interested!
We'd love to advertise your shop or Etsy store!

Stay tuned for more details and sneak peeks of some of our fantastic items.

A huge thank-you to Emily & Jim for the adoption auction idea
and for all their support in our adoption journey!


orphan sunday.

Missing these boys pretty intensely today.

Praising God for His faithfulness to these boys.
Praising God for organizations like World Orphans.

Pray for the orphans in Ethiopia and Kenya.
Pray for the over 143 million orphans across the globe.
Pray that God will continue to stir the hearts of His people to care for His children.


thoughts for thursday.

A Psalm of Life
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! -
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act - act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.


image take 10.2010