Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mmmm... cupcakes.

So, I've been craving these cupcakes for WEEKS now. The first time I had them was at my friend Genevra's house. I'd been pretty sure that she was a Domestic Goddess before I had these babies... after my first bite (of cupcake # 1 of 5 consecutive cupcakes that were eaten over the sink, so as not to spill any crumbs in my gluttonous rampage) I was positive that her mad cooking/baking skills were of divine origin.

Seriously, these are SO FREAKIN GOOD! And, they were easy! The bad news is that now I'm fantasizing up ingredients that I can switch out with the peanut butter so I can make other flavor combinations. So far I've got cream cheese filling inside red velvet, chocolate and lemon cupcakes. Orange flavored filling inside white and chocolate cupcakes. Coconut inside white and chocolate cake. Peppermint inside chocolate, and chocolate inside yellow cake. Truly, I am a cupcake baking monster right now. And I may need some guinea pigs, so if any of you have allergies that I need to know about... 'fess up. Otherwise I could kill you if/when I drop off a plate of goopy goodness on your doorstep (it's either share or gain 20 lbs, and frankly, my budget is taken up with cupcake ingredients these days... I can't afford any new (bigger) clothes, so I guess I'll be sharing).

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Princesses Who Know How To Party!

For those of you who don't know my friends Belle & Aurora... please allow me to introduce them. (Belle is on the left in blue, Aurora is to the right of her, wearing black & pink (Flora must've gotten her way this time) and you all know me, Cinderella, there in the back (where the tall kids always go).

Christian, Christine and I took a trip to Disneyland a few months ago. Christine and I are both BIG FANS of Disneyland, and when we realized that our friend Christian had never been, well... we had to remedy that. We were lucky enough to have some free tickets fall into our laps (thank you, Cousins Julie & Bethie!), and we even had a free place to stay (muchas gracias, Aunt Deb & Uncle Rob!)... so all we had to do was buy the gas to get there. We left after work Friday, drove to CA that night and then got up Saturday morning and spent the full day in the park (yup, from open to close). The highlights of the day were lunch at The Blue Bayou (we fell in love with the deep fried Monte Cristo... and who could blame us, really?) and the FOUR, thankyouverymuch, stops by the Dole Whip stand outside the Tiki Tiki Room. And okay, the back-to-back rides on The Matterhorn were pretty sweet... as were the four times getting off and then right back on again at Thunder Mountain Railway at closing time. Let's face it... it was a fantastic day!We drove back to D&R's house that night totally and completely wasted, slept like the very dead, and then got up and drove back to AZ on Sunday. It was the absolute most fun I've ever packed into a 48 hour period. (And I've never been more tired in my life, I'm pretty sure.) It took us almost 3 days back at the grindstone in our daily lives before we started to wonder where else we could buy Pineapple ice cream, and wondering why on earth no one in Sunny AZ knows that they should batter & fry a Monte Cristo. (I mean, honestly, we were ordered every Monte Cristo we could find on a menu, and not one restaurant fried them up right...) We took matters into our own hands, and... gave Google a shot, hoping it would help us in our quest. Sure enough... it's true, what they say, you can find anything online. Enter the recipes for Pineapple Whip ice cream and the Disneyland Monte Cristo - and the first Princess Party.
We had the first princess party in May and the pineapple ice cream and (deep fried) Monte Cristos were so fantastic that we planned our next party straightaway. Our second party was mid-June, and... our third party is scheduled for today/night. This princess party is gonna be special, because... (drum roll please), we're having a sleepover this time. Yes, you read that right folks, a full blown princess sleepover party, complete with biscuits & gravy in the morning before we disburse and go our seperate churching ways (I'm just hoping that no one puts a pea under my 22 mattress. I'd hate to wake up with my princessy hide black & blue from a cursed little pea). We're planning to swim in the princess pool, watch multiple back-to-back princess movies (Ever After is at the top of the list - since we did Beauty & The Beast and Enchanted at the previous parties, I figure it's time that I had some representation), eat ourselves under the table, and... party like we're, well... royalty or something. Wahoo!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Christmas in July

Having run across the "What Crappy Christmas Gift Are You?" quiz last night has led me a on a merry trip down memory lane. For those of you who've known me for a short time (say... 10 years or less), you're probably unaware (but won't be surprised to find out) that I used to have a Christmas in July party every year. It started in 1994, the first year I was in Utah. My cousin's apartment had a Christmas in July party right about the time I moved to Provo, and by that time next year I was living with her former roommate, Weez, and we decided to do it again. By July 1996, Julie, Weez and I were all living together, and... the tradition carried on. Weez got married, and then Julie did too... I moved back to AZ in 2000, and somehow lost the celebratory spirit. Which is a darned shame, because our Christmas in July parties ROCKED. We'd start the first week in December and invite an apartment (usually a boys apartment... hehehe) over to help us set up the tree and get the heavy lifting out of the way. We'd bake.. fudge, sugar cookies, chocolate pretzels, egg nog... the whole enchilada. And we'd have Christmas Movie Night every Friday for anyone in the ward who wanted to come over and watch It's a Wonderful Life or White Christmas with us. Being in Utah, the 24th was a state holiday (and also Christmas in July Eve)... which gave us license to go Christmas Caroling to our friends & neighbors with lit sparklers in hand. I'm telling you, it was fan-freaking-tastic, the fun we had! I'm wishing that I'd thought to do fudge and sugar cookies a little earlier in the week so I could take them around, and I'm missing the time in my life when I knew all of my neighbors, and no one would be surprised to hear me singing in the hallways. I learned in my 20's that it doesn't have to be December to feel like Christmas... I just wish I'd remembered that a little earlier this month, so I might have been able to share that feeling with the ones I love that are here in my neighborhood, and near and dear to me at this phase in my life. I know it's not the same as a personal visit with a sparkler and plate of goodies in hand, but heck... I do hope you all have a fantastic July 25th! Thanks Jule & Weez (and the BYU 3rd ward, really) for helping me make so many great memories! XOXOXO ... and MERRY CHRISTMAS! (in July)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sticks & Stones...

Here's a little something fun in celebration of Christmas in July.... A "What Crappy Christmas Gift Are You?" quiz. Imagine my surprise when I tested fruitcake positive. It was a shocker, for sure.

You Are a Fruitcake!

You taste like nothing else in this world.

And get ready, you're about to get tossed!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Because 2 movies on Friday wasn't enough for me

I took my brother Spencer's kids to Kung Fu Panda yesterday. For any of you who haven't seen this one - GO! It was hilarious, I mean... laugh out loud funny! And it so had a good "kid-friendly" moral message, too. I've never seen Connor so engrossed in a movie. I mean, we've been going to the movies every 8 weeks or so for the last year, and this is the first movie he's sat through without having to ask "is that the good guy.... or the bad guy?"once (let alone his typical thirteen times). He was kicked back in his seat, staring at the screen, for the solid 92 minutes of the movie. I've never seen anything like it and am now wishing that I had a picture of him so... still. So stinkin cute... We had intended on hitting the 11:30 showing, but got out of here just a little bit late... when we got to the theater, it was 10 minutes into the movie, so we opted to head to the ceramic shop by the theater. Here are pics of the boys painting their personalized penguins. (Yeah, we're all about originality in my family - check out the colors of the penguins. These kids ROCK!) After the penguin painting we went and had Greek food for lunch. (Okay, I had Greek food. The kids had personalized pizzas made out of pita bread. But hey, I got to hang out with my nephews and have souvlaki & hummus in the same day. How great is that?) Both the boys had lemonade to drink with their lunch, and they were pretty sure that the lemonade was looking a little green... and that they'd probably turn into The Hulk if they drank it. (Needless to say, that thought alone helped both of them drain their 24 oz soda cups.) They begged and begged me to take them to see Hulk rather than to Kung Fu Panda (and I almost gave in... we all know how much I loved that movie... but I knew my sister-in-law would probably kill me, so I didn't do it). They were so totally and completely obsessed with The Hulk that you can imagine how excited they were when we walked into the theater (30 minutes before our movie started) and we ran into "The Green Hulk" right there in the lobby. Of course we had to have a photo-shoot. Please, we're hams, it's in our blood. (Don't mind the shaky pics. I let the kids take turns taking pics with my phone... the sweet little dudes couldn't hold the phone still enough to take a focused pic, but it's all good.)

After we took pics with Hulk, they were totally in the mood for hamming it up, and wanted me to take their pics with the posters for various upcoming attractions. (How funny are they? My faves are Con-Man in front of the T-Rex, looking like he's gonna get eaten, and Seth kissing the girly chihuahua. Funny boys!)

When the movie was over, we headed back to my house and met up with the kids' parents, my parents, and my sister for dinner.
After dinner, we grown-ups (sans Kate) wanted to turn dinner into "dinner & a movie" (I'd been raving about my BF Batman, as you can imagine, I am sure), so we got one of the YW in the ward to sit with the boys and we went to the 8:00 show. (I'm telling you, that movie was as good the 2nd time around as it was the 1st. I caught bits of plot that I'd missed the first time around, it was FABULOUS!) When the show was over, we came back to talk and hang out (read: analyze the heck out of Batman & The Joker). It was well past midnight when Spence & Brea hit the road with the kiddos, the folks ended up staying here with me. We got up this morning (mid-when-I-should-have-already-been-at-church) and talked about Batman, Hancock, and various other superhero types who we've learned lessons of service/redemption from (yes, we're spiritual folk, my family, we liken not only the scriptures - but also cinematic representation of superheros - unto us). I did run over for the last hour of church, and drug the parentals with me. After church we came back and watched... get this... six episodes of Now & Again (it's an old ABC sitcom...only lasted one season) on YouTube. I'm telling you, we know how to party. (I'm just bummed that I didn't think to take a pic of Mom & Dad on the couch holding the laptop between them, staring at the "lost" episodes of what was one of their favorite shows ever.) We laughed a lot, talked a bunch, ate way too much food - and even more cake & ice cream. It was a great weekend! I do love all y'all...

Friday, July 18, 2008

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

This fine Friday night I went to the movies - twice. I was lucky enough to get out of work a little early for an appointment that was over by 3:30, which allowed me to sneak into a matinee of Dark Knight just as the previews were getting started. I won't say too much, I know that it's early yet, and most Razzzberry addicts aren't the type to go and camp out for Batman on opening night. (This is why I deserve to have Christian Bale in my life and you all don't. I'm dedicated and devoted, his biggest fan. And his one true love, which I'm sure he'd realize if he only ever met me.) Anyway, without saying too much... I know how we all hate a spoiler... Oh my gosh, the movie was SO MUCH MORE than I'd hoped for (and I'd hoped for quite a lot). I l-o-v-e-d Batman Begins, I love the drama, the character development, the true yuckiness of the bad guys, the... well, Christian Bale in (and out of) a batsuit, frankly... and I'd been concerned that Dark Knight might not hold true to that. Wow, was I wrong to be afraid. This movie rocked. I would have bought another ticket and walked right back into the theater for a 2nd showing if I hadn't been afraid that it would kill me. Seriously, I was so tense for the good last half hour that when the movie ended I realized that I'd been forgetting to breath. Yup, I'm not kidding, I was winded from watching this movie. (Or maybe it was from having to concentrate on 'holding it' so I wouldn't pee myself.) Possibly it was the super sexy bat cape that took my breath away. There were so many reasons for me to love this movie, not the least of which was that the ending sequences had me all choked up. Oh man, I loved this movie! Ya'll can rest assured that I'll be watching it again. LOVED IT!!!

And now, to take a moment and tell you about the movie that I didn't love, Mamma Mia. Did anyone else see this? I don't know what exactly I was expecting... but... well... I was expecting more than this. And at the same time, much much less than this. There wasn't as much Colin Firth as I'd hoped for. (But, to be honest, there never is. I can't get enough of the man. I adore him, with his smooth English accent....yummah!) There was too much over-the-toppish-ness. I literally laughed out loud five times in the theater over the ridiculousness of it all. (But mysteriously enough, I was the only one laughing. Hmmph, that's probably a sign. Shoot. Maybe it was just me that thought it was too much.) I don't regret seeing it. I'm an ABBA fan of the first degree, so it was fun to hear the songs... and now I'm wanting to go to Greece like none other... I just don't want to run into Pierce Brosnan while I'm there. At least, not as long as he thinks there's a song he needs to be singing. (Egads & bless his heart... the dude should not be allowed to sing.) It was funny more than fun, not something that I'd see again... but it was fun to walk out of the theater singing "Thank You For The Music" to myself. I figure that anything that ends with me wanting to sing out loud can't be a complete failure in the cinematic arts.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How on Earth....?

Yet another testament to the importance of having a copy editor on staff. (Mind you, I'm pretty sure that the person who wrote this caption is the same person who owned & operated the local paper, sent the copy to print, and then distributed the newspaper from behind the counter of the one & only gas station in town as he/she sold Big Gulps to fellow townspeople, so I shouldn't judge too harshly.) But honestly... this was in the paper?

Monday, July 14, 2008

My Servicable Sibling Spencer

As I was trying to sleep through my alarm this morning (as I try to do most every workday, but especially on Mondays), my phone just would not turn off. It kept buzzing and buzzing and buzzing. At 6:20 (my alarm goes off at 6:05 - don't start with me, 6:00 is just too early...), I gave up and got up. As I rolled over to turn off my phone, I realized that I had a message (no wonder it'd been buzzing and buzzing... someone had been trying to call me at 6:15 in the AM). When I listened to the message, I found out that my brother Spencer (who by the way, lives on the West side) had read my post regarding my on-death's-door windshield wipers and had driven over here at 5:00 in the morning to change my wipers for me. He'd wanted to surprise me, but since my apartment complex has this new fangled gate system (that not even I can figure out how to work - thank heaven I have a key... if I had to rely on the code alone, I'd have to become a street person, for lack of being able to get in), he had to call and let me know that he was here and needed to get in. Oh my gosh, can you believe how nice he is?!? (Let alone that someone so kind and servicable would be related - by blood - to me.) Yeah... he learned that from his parents, not from his older sister. Bless him! Here's a photo (that he did not want taken, but smiled for anyway) of Roon. He not only changed out my wipers, but Rain-X'd my car so the rain'll just slide right off. Isn't he awesome?!?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Weekend at Maxwell's House

This is Max. Max is my friend Christian's dog, and he's about the cutest thing since... well, since my cat, Frankie. (Hey, I'm a cat person, I can't help it.) I spent the weekend over at Max's hanging out, feeding him popcorn and pita bread and chicken pot pie. (Dudes, he begs. With the cutest little face. I couldn't help myself, I had to give him food. The good news is, his people give him table food, too - so hopefully I didn't do irreparable damage with the pot pie crust.) While his people were at Lake Powell, Maxie and I went swimming in our private pool (okay, I went swimming while he ran frantically up and down the side of the pool, looking at me like I was gonna drown and should get out of the water, already), we played tug-o-war with the sock/bandanna thingie and pseudo-fetch with the tennis ball. We watched a load of movies (Dan In Real Life, I Am Legend, National Treasure II - and a bunch of trashy tv ala Lifetime: Television for Women), and when I wasn't luring him back into the house with a bag of chips, I was reading (finished one and a half books!), usually in the hammock. All in all, I'm gonna have to say... that was a sweet weekend! Love you, Max! :)

Monsoon Madness

For those of you not familiar with the weather that is July in the great state of AZ, let me tell you about the monsoons. Picture a beautiful day, the sun is out, the weather is warm, all signs point to a simmering hot summer day in the valley of the sun. But... when the clock strikes 3:00, que the clouds to come in, the thunder starts, and KABOOMB!, you've got a monsoon on your hands. The rains can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours. Usually the storms are on the shorter side, but lately they've been... well... lingering. We had an all nighter on Thursday last week, and then again today, we've had a good one that's been stopping and starting for the past 4 hours. And while I know we need rain (and I do love the rain, don't get me wrong), I have a problem. And the problem is... my windshield wipers. How is it that I never think to have them changed when it's not Monsoon season? Check this out.

This is the wiper on the driver's side of my car. Yup, those things flipped up... that's my windshield wiper. The rubber has torn from both sides... there are about 3 inches of rubber still holding on to the middle of the wiper. You should see my trying to drive in the rain with this sucker. I literally laugh out loud every time I start the wipers up, because the loose ends flap about in the wind, as well as up and down my window. One of these days it's just gonna tear off and I'm gonna be scraping my window with a piece of metal. OR, I'll strike it lucky and somehow make it to August with what I've got. I'll keep ya'll posted, of course.

Friday, July 4, 2008

On This Independence Day

I've been reflecting all week on flags and freedom, trying to pin down what patriotism means to me. I've decided that patriotism is a love of country, of home, of things that are familiar... and in this country, and in my life, those things are wide and varied. There are so very many things that bring joy to my mind and my heart as I think of this country that we live in, of the town in which I grew up, of my family and friends who have given service to this land that I love, that I thought... heck, I'll make a list. (We all know that I love to make lists.) So, here's a pretty random list of things that I love that remind me of God, Country, and Family.

John Philip Sousa marches (and Mr. Shumway's arrangements of the same)
Flags flying in yards
Red and white petunias
Red creme soda
BBQ & Navajo Tacos at the rodeo grounds
Home-made ice cream
Watching the fireworks off Grammy & Grandad's front porch
The Rodeo
Swimming in the creek (makes me shudder now, but dang, I loved to get in the creek when I was a kid)
Trifle with strawberries & blueberries
Those red, white & blue popsicles... can't remember what they're called, but I love them!
The MoTab singing patriotic hymns, turned up good and loud
Driving to the top of Solomon's Hill early so you can get a good seat for fireworks
White-washing the fence at the rodeo grounds
Lee Greenwood
Stadium of Fire (oh, heck yeah!)
The Arnold Friberg "Prayer at Valley Forge" painting
The White House
The Vietnam Memorial
Getting up early to watch the parade in Provo with my cousins
Family dinners at John & Ginny's
The Statue of Liberty
Star shaped sugar cookies and burnt hot dogs
Memories of my dad crying at every single patriotic school assembly we ever had
Not being able to get through the last verse of The Star Spangled Banner because I'm too choked up to sing
The 3rd verse of America the Beautiful gets me every time, too
Red punch and sticky fingers
The firing of the anvil, and following the band around town
Giant American flags flying (you know, the really really big ones... Mmmm, I love those!)
Men in uniform
Toby Keith
The Jennings Band (esp the drummer... I so love him!)
Potato Salad
Religious Freedom, and Freedom of Speech (well, actually... all of the freedoms are pretty great, who's kidding who? ... but today these are my faves)
A good book, a blanket and some good grass to read on
Mrs. Tubbs, she had us memorize My Country, Tis of Thee and America the Beautiful in the 2nd grade
Vets - of any war, from any division of the military - we owe them (and their families who support them) so very very much

And now, I'm having to cut the list off... For no other reason than I can't keep typing AND wiping these blessed tears off my face (really, I'm afraid that the 'puter's going to sustain permanent damage as a result of all this water dripping off my fingers and into the keyboard). All of these things make me happy, and grateful, for the country that I live in, and for the life that I've lived. Truly, I am about the luckiest person I know... to have so many things mean so much to me... I am truly blessed. As are we all.

God Bless America, and Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans! (listen to me... I sound like the President with that "fellow Americans" bit... Hahahahaha!)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Bagels ala Lizzie

So, a couple weeks ago I was talking on the phone to my friend Liz, and I was telling her that I needed to go to the store, because (gasp) I was out of bread. And when I said I was out of bread, I meant out of bread... like, there was nary a bagel to be found in the whole house. (For those of you who are not familiar with my eating habits, let me tell you, being out of bread/bagels is about 330 shades of tragic.) Liz commiserated with me over being out of bagels and then, as bagel-fans will do, we started talking about our varied and favorite ways to eat a bagel, and... Liz told me a way to eat a bagel that I'd never heard/thought of before in my life. I guess that this dates back to her restauranting days (so some of you may have heard of it)... This is sheer genius. Here are the directions: 1) take a bagel, 2) smear some butter on the open/bready side, 3) grill it face down (like a grilled cheese sandwich).

Oh my holy crappy cow, people! I cannot tell you how yummy this is... I've posted a picture, but really... the pic's not doing it justice (in fact, it looks a little grody - but since I went to the trouble of taking a picture of my dinner, I'm posting it anyway). Ya'll need to try this on your own. My favorite (so far) is the blueberry bagel. Really, just butter the inside of the bagel, and then grill it face down. The heat from the pan seeps through the bagel, so you end up with a warmed-through bagel with a crispy buttery edge. In a word, they are divine.