Wednesday, June 30, 2010

South By Southeast

By the time you read this, I will be somewhere between Albequerque and Amarillo.

My sister and I are moving our mother to Texas, to live closer to Jennie.

One moving van towing one trailer full of food storage followed by one stationwagon -- all driven by three women.

And Zombieland on my iPhone.

Should be a good trip.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Mouths Of Babes

This is an actual conversation I had with Daphne today:

Me: Daphne, I'm going to turn the TV off now.

Daphne: But why?!? This show is about LOVE!!!

She was watching Garfield. The cartoon.

I did let her keep the show on because, well, I guess I'm a sucker for a good love story.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Segullah Writer's Retreat

> My brain is alive! I have spent the last 7 hours talking to and
> learning with people who haven't asked for a drink, or to be wiped, or
> to find a shoe. Heaven. Heaven plus writing. What does that equal?
> Nirvana? Ya. I guess Buddhism trumps Christianity. Nirvana.

Plus I Iearned how to post from my phone. Like this. Seriously, best day ever.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Non Dairy-Assult Moon Cake (Not To Be Confused With Non-Dairy Assault Moon Cake, which has no dairy in it and may cause broken glass.)

In case you didn't read my post from yesterday, where a near disaster involving whipped cream, a mixing bowl, and my wall, was barely averted, click here.

If you did read it and would like the recipe, the REAL recipe (not the one that caused the baking crisis that forced me to break the 4th commandment), here it is. I promise it's delicious! Just let me give you a piece of advice: Buy INSTANT pudding. Oh, and get the right size. Also make it WAY ahead of time, just in case. That's a lot of advice. But trust me, follow it!

Moon Cake (Also known as Eclair Cake. But not the same as lots of people's Eclair Cake online, I found out when looking for this recipe. Also not the same as Chinese Moon Cake, which looks good but is nothing like this.) (I'm starting to realize this dessert really needs its own name. I think I'll rename it now: 4th Commandment Cake. How's that?)

4th Commandment Cake

• 1 cup water
• 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
• 1 cup flour
• 4 eggs
• 3 3.4oz packages vanilla INSTANT pudding
• 3½ cups milk
• 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened extensively
• 8 oz. Cool Whip (or whip up 1 pint of heavy whipping cream with 1/3 cup powdered sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Tastes better.)
• Chocolate syrup
• Toasted Sliced Almonds (optional)

Bring water and butter to a boil. Add the flour. Remove from heat and stir until a paste forms. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each egg into the dough individually (by hand). Spread dough into greased jelly roll pan and bake @ 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool completely. (The crust will be very high and lumpy when it comes out of the oven, like the surface of the MOON, hence the former name.)

Make sure cream cheese is very soft. I even like to pre-beat it in the mixer first to get it smooth. Remove it from the mixer to a separate bowl. Combine pudding and milk in a large mixing bowl. Mix on high until blended. Add in the cream cheese. Mix for 3-4 minutes or until pudding is smooth and begins to thicken. Spread onto cooled crust. Place in the fridge to chill for 1-2 hours.

If you have not thrown your whipped cream at the wall, spread it evenly over the pudding layer now. Drizzle chocolate syrup over whipped cream in straight rows about 1" apart. Drag a knife through the rows in alternating directions to create a marbled look.
If you want to add nuts, roast 1 cup of sliced almonds in a pan on low heat with 1 tsp butter until they begin to brown. Sprinkle over dessert just before serving.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. And if not, I happen to know that Harmons sells a decent cheesecake.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

How Big Daddy Saved Father's Day

Tonight I ruined dessert. I am a pretty good cook, so usually things don't go awry that often. But tonight things were wry. Very wry. So wry, in fact, that I actually shed tears and came very close to throwing an entire Pyrex mixing bowl of whipped cream across the room. Fortunately, Big Daddy stopped me. But I'm getting head of myself...

I made Moon Cake. Moon Cake is delicious. And easy. And fattening (which is proof that it is delicious), and it is Big Daddy's favorite dessert. I was excited to make it for him. Then for some reason, I couldn't find the recipe. So I looked one up online. It appeared to be the same. I proceeded. But the eclair crust batter didn't look right while I was mixing it. That should have been a sign right there that something was wrong. But I carried on, and, after baking, it turned out flat and unattractive. Next came the pudding disaster. The middle layer calls for two 3.4oz packages of instant vanilla pudding mixed with one 8oz cream cheese, softened extensively. I softened it, pre-beat it to make sure it was truly smooth and not lumpy (lumpy will ruin Moon Cake), and then got out the pudding mix to add in. This is when I realized my main problem. Well, problemS. First of all, I bought a 5.1oz size of vanilla pudding and a 4.8 oz size. (Different brands are slightly different in size, it appears. Who knew?). I figured I could weigh out some of one package and add it to the other to get the right amount. But more importantly, I bought one instant and one Cook and Serve. Crappity! I didn't have time to cook and chill it, as I was already running about 1/2 hour behind schedule. So I used the 5.1 oz instant and added just enough of the cook and serve to make it 6.8oz total. I figured that little wouldn't hurt. WRONG. It did hurt. First of all, it wouldn't thicken as I beat it. Next, because it wouldn't thicken, the cream cheese wouldn't blend in. So despite my careful efforts at softening and pre-beating, little chunks of cream cheese floated at the top of the pudding soup no matter how long I mixed it. I hoped that it would thicken as it set, so I poured it over the flat, ugly crust and put it in the fridge. However, 20 minutes later, it was still pudding soup. LUMPY pudding soup. Lumpy pudding soup on top of a flat, unattractive crust. The whipped cream, which goes on top and should be covered in marbled chocolate sauce, turned out fine. But at this point I was so frustrated, and so late for dinner, that I figured the only logical thing to do with the perfectly good whipped cream was to chuck it at the wall.

And this is where Big Daddy stepped in and saved the day (and my small mixing bowl). He uttered the three most important words that a woman can hear during a baking crisis. Words that aren't spoken often around here, because it just isn't our style, but which, at the right time, with one person's hand laid on the other one's hand, can be the most wonderful words on earth: "Let's buy dessert."

And that is how we ended up 45 minutes late to dinner with store-bought cheesecake.

And that is why Father's Day 2010 will always be rememberd as the day that Mommy didn't end up being committed to the insane asylum for dairy-related assult. Gotta love that man of mine.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Look at Me! I'm So Different!

Big Daddy saw this crop up on Facebook told me about it. I love it when people give me good blog topics! Especially lately since I have been SO lame about blogging. My brain is just so boring lately and I don't want to force the tedium on everyone else. So anyway, here is a fun sort of game/tag to try. I actually had to think about it a lot longer than I would have thought...

A) Name one thing that you hate which everyone else loves.
I guess I would say crispy french fries. As far as I know, everyone else likes the crispy ones. But not me. I like those ones that are nearly white and are bent over and soft in the middle. If they are crisp and straight, I throw them out. But give me a batch of slightly underdone fries and I'm in heaven!

B) Name one thing everyone else hates that you love.
Sleeping with my socks on. Big Daddy for one would rather be poked by hot pokers under his eye lids than sleep with socks on. And I'm pretty sure it gives most people the willies. But for some reason my body heat seems to be entirely controlled through my foot temperature. So if my feet are cold then my body is cold, and if my body is cold, then I can't sleep. So thick ski socks in winter, lighter "sleep socks" in summer, but only during the 100+ days of July and August do I sleep without socks. I love it!

What about you?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Great Pizza Debate

You wouldn't think crust, sauce, and a few meats and veggies could have so much variation, and cause serious marital strife, but sometimes they can. When it comes to pizza there have been a few heated discussions around here about what kind to get and where to get it.

MY favorite is Pizza Hut with the pan crust. Because grease is delicious, of course! I like the regular crust OK too, but I'd rather have the golden, crispy-fried goodness of the pan crust if I'm going to blow the calories.

Big Daddy is my pizza opposite. My foil. My bizzaro pizza person. He likes thin crust, the thinner and crunchier the better. He always says that if it tastes like you're eating pizza on crackers, the crust is perfect. (Um, BLECH!)

Because of our extreme differences, we usually have to meet somewhere in the middle with a normal hand-tossed crust that neither of us is crazy about. And since he doesn't like the sauce or toppings or some unidentifiable factor about Pizza Hut pizzas, even with the crust compromises, Pizza Hut is not an option for him. He likes Papa Johns. I'm OK with Papa Johns, but I find their sauce a bit too zesty for my taste.

When we just can't agree, we usually solve the issue by going cheap. And by cheap, I mean Little Caesar's. I think neither one of us can feel too awful about not getting the Pizza of our Dreams when we only paid $5 for the whole thing.

Yesterday, though, we tried a take and bake from Costco. I've had their pizza by the slice in the cafeteria. I'd rank it at the lower end of my pizza deliciousness scale. It's very greasy. And not the crispy, golden, magical kind. It's the pools of red-orange cheese-and-pepperoni-byproduct-drowning-the-pizza kind of grease. (NOT magical). But the take and bake was good! The crust was thick enough to satisfy me and crunchy on the bottom, very reminiscent of crackers I believe. The toppings were good, the sauce was just right. I think we might have a winner! When pizza-in-a-pan-of-fat is not on the menu, of course.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Like DownEast? Look Down Here...

Do you like to shop for clothes at DownEast Outfitters/DownEast Basics? If not, you should! Their clothes are super cute and very affordable. Check it out here. If you already do like to shop there, here are two great coupons/sales they are running right now...

First is the 50% of a swim separate. This is a great deal. It's in-store only, but if you live in the west, there are stores from WA to AZ where you can pick up a swim top and then go back in and pick up the bottoms!

For example...

Then there is the 30% off all clearance.

This is also a sweet deal as they have a lot of cute skirts, dresses, jeans, and even some cute handbags and jewelry on sale that will now be marked down further! Like...

I tried on those catwalk jeans and they are very flattering. I wish they were more flare leg instead of boot cut, but I know most people like boot cut, so that's a positive for all of you!

Anyway, just thought I'd share. I already ordered two new skirts and a belt. Yay for payday shopping!

Friday, June 11, 2010

What's Black and White and Red All Over?

As it turns out, ME. I will be doing an Argentine Tango routine at my dance studio's first annual ballroom showcase. Red roses, black lace, an obscene amount of rhinestones and sequins, and my butt-white skin.

So just in case you're not doing anything tomorrow evening, Saturday, and you live in Salt Lake City or thereabouts, and you like the suspense of wondering whether ameteur ballroom dancers will screw up royally in front of hundreds of people, I know a good activity for you! There will also be a few really good routines done by the professionals in case you aren't into wardrobe malfunctions and forgotten steps.

Come one, come all. And if you are really lucky, I might fall on my head or rack my teacher in the nuts as I slide between his legs. You never know!

Email me if you are interested in coming and I will email you back the details. I don't want EVERY psycho out there to know my business. Only the ones I like.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

For The Relatives

I realize not everyone out there cares to see pictures of my daughter's birthday party. But I have to satisfy the family readers every so often. So here are the pics, in case you missed the festivities...

Daphne went back and forth on which kind of party she wanted. First she wanted a Chuck E Cheese party. Then a swim party. Then she wanted a fish party. I thought that sounded promising--I planned on giving away little bags of goldfish as party favors. But then she wanted a gerbil party. I couldn't really see giving away bags of gerbils as party favors, so that idea got nixed. Then she wanted a pirate party. But finally she decided the pool party would be the most fun. And I have to admit I tried to sway her in that direction since an outdoor party means way less work for Mommy.

When the kids arrived, I had them decorate their own treat bags with sparkley foam stickers and markers.

Then the water festivities began. The kids swam in the pool, slid down the waterslide into the pool, skidded along the Slip 'n' Slides, shot each other with water cannons and squirt guns, cried about being shot by water cannons and squirt guns, threw water balloons at each other, cried about being hit by water balloons, and rolled each other in the giant blow-up hamster wheel. (I should have taken more pictures of this part of the party, but I was too busy blasting kids in the face with silly string.)

Next they decorated their own cupcakes. There had been some discussion early on about the cake. At first Daphne's cake requests changed along with the party theme ideas. But eventually she decided on cupcakes, which each child would decorate herself. I was a big fan of this idea. So I made cherry chip cupcakes, dunked them in chocolate ganache (which makes a wonderful, smooth canvas for decorating on), and then made buttercream frosting of various colors. I put the frosting in ziplock baggies and cut the tips off to use as decorator bags. And then I passed out ten different kinds of sprinkles, red hots, colored sugar, and candy flowers. All of this took place outside on the picnic table, of course. So no mess to clean up. I seriously LOVE outdoor parties! I wonder if Beck would want a pool party too. Next December.

What I had invisioned for the cupcake decorating:

How they turned out:

Ah well, at least there were no sprinkles or frosting on my floor.

Next Daphne took a few minutes to ham it up with her presents....

And just as the kids were starting to get their full sugar buzz, it was time to to send them home.


I wonder if I can convince Daphne to do this again next year.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Birthday Someone

Someone is very social. VERY.

Someone is finally wearing her appropriate size of clothes (after being two sizes smaller her whole life).

Someone loves animals.

Someone loves to talk and talk and talk.

Someone likes to shake her booty.

Someone asks for a peanut butter sandwich every single day, at least twice a day.

Someone loves to color.

Someone loves to ask questions.

Someone likes me to call her Suckerblooder (when she is a vampire, of course.)

Someone always wants to play with friends.

Someone adores wearing nightgowns.

Someone likes to make up elaborate names for every one of her toys.

However, someone can't remember the names of any actual people she knows.

Someone is practically a fish when she is in the pool.

Someone isn't afraid of grown ups. Or strangers. In fact, she prefers them.

Someone likes to make friends with bugs and worms.

Someone likes to eat her vegetables.

Someone is a good helper.

Someone wants a pet fish, a pet gerbil, a pet hamster, a puppy, a kitten, a pony, and a chinchilla. (Someone only has an unfriendly cat.)

Someone is a meat lover.

Someone is a daddy's girl.

Someone loves sugary treats. For every meal. And after every meal. And between every meal. (I wonder where she gets that from?)

Someone has started liking shows with real people, not cartoons.

Someone is a flirt.

Someone is my little girl, Daphne.

And Someone just turned FIVE!

Happy Birthday, Lambie Pie!

Monday, June 7, 2010

That Was a Nice Week of Spring

I love summer. I really do! It's my favorite season. I love how green and leafy the trees are. I love setting up my patio furniture on the deck and enjoying breakfast or dinner in the shade of the striped umbrella. I love napping in the hammock. I love golfing. I love making watching my kids run around outside. I love the picnics and BBQs, the hikes and gardening, the fresh veggies and fruits, the exercise, the ice cream (the counteracting of the exercise with the ice cream)....there are so many things to love about summer!

But one thing I don't love is the sweat. It's unavoidable, living someplace like Utah, where you are 5000 feet closer to the sun, and where the desert climate makes everything bake during the day. I could deal with it if there was more of a respite from it inside. Unfortunately, I live in a house with only partial A/C. We had the Mr. Slims put in on one half of the house 2 years ago. It helps...if you sleep in Daphne's room, the playroom, or the kitchen (which I've considered. It does have a big island.) Our bedroom, however, plus the dining room, living room, and Beck's room, have no A/C. There is a swamp cooler upstairs, but on a really hot day, or during a really hot night (when I'm too paranoid to leave the windows open to let the swamp cooler do its work), it's not enough. I just sweat. And sweat. And sweat. And then I get sticky. And then I sweat some more.

I really hate sweat. Love summer, hate sweat.

I would say my favorite season was spring, if it would last more than 8 days in Utah. But since we had snow last week, and 95 degree temps yesterday, I just can't vote for fickle, fleeting spring.

So summer gets my vote for favorite season of the year. But can someone just do something about the heat???

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

Yes, I got suckered into another As Seen On TV product. But the ad came in my Publishers Clearing House packet, so of course I had to order it. How else am I going to win a billion dollars???

Actually, though, this one really IS a winner...

The Bottle Top.

We drink a lot of pop around here. And mostly cans. Cans are cheaper. And smaller. And they fit in my cup holders better. But Big Daddy and I rarely finish a whole one in one sitting. We're not gluttons! Ok, he is. But I rarley finish a pop in one sitting. So then I put it in the fridge for later. And that leads to A) flat pop, B) spilled pop in the fridge, C) mad husband, and D) confused wife since mad husband is never the one made to clean it up.

Spilled, flat pop (and marital problems), meet the Bottle Top! Problem solved. Seriously. My husband hasn't been mad and I haven't been confused for months. All that in a little piece of colored plastic!

Might I suggest you get some yourself? And if you want me send in for them for you from my next Publishers Clearing House flyer packet I will. 'Cause I'm kind like that. (But I'm not sharing the billion dollars if I win. 'Cause I'm not kind like that .)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

PLEASE Let Me Be In A Limited Relsease City!!!

AS IF I needed a re-release with built in keraoke-style lyrics to persuade me to sing along at the top of my lungs!

But still, having a license to belt it will be nice.

Wanna Sing-along?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My New iPhone Addiction

Can't. Stop. Playing.

(Best 99 cents I ever spent.)