Saturday, August 30, 2008

My new favorite blog

Ladies & gents, friends & family, random readers, ward members and all blog-stalkers in general... I'd like to take a moment and introduce you to my new favorite blogger: The Pioneer Woman. For those of you who've been following my twitter comments, you know that I was unable to go to sleep (a thing that hardly ever happens, I might add) Thursday night, because I was up past midnight reading Black Heels to Tractor Wheels. This morning I've been checking out her photography tips and the recipe reviews. THIS WOMAN IS FREAKIN AMAZING, and I love that she's sharing her good tips (and bad ideas), as well as life experiences with me, a woman she's never met, online. She's a fantastic writer, an incredible photographer, and it looks like she cooks the yummiest food on the planet. As of 5 minutes ago, there is nothing I'd like more than to be invited to spend a weekend on the ranch (as soon as they finish renovating the lodge), enjoying the digs and the fine food. I have a girl crush on this woman like none other. Oh, how I wish I knew her. I'm certain that we'd be really good friends. (Or, at the very least, I could stop by on my way home from work mooch some of that bread pudding.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cake 101, Class #4

So... tonight was the last class in the series for Wilton Course 1. It was a busy night, let me tell you. We learned the full Wilton Rose (yeah, it deserves caps, I'm pretty sure it's a proper noun) and how to make bows and leafs. (And before you start with me on how those three things don't sound like they'd really take all that long to learn, let me tell you - THEY DO!) I'm telling you, that blasted bow was killing me. And the leaves were pretty bad, too. The roses, well... let's just say that it's a good thing that I'm not a perfectionist. The worst news about class tonight is that I was so busy making all the roses for my own cake that I totally spaced the time and didn't get pics of everyone else's masterpieces. By the time I was done with my little cake and had picked up the camera, both Raina and Angela had their cakes in the carrying case and were headed out the door. It's really tragic that I didn't get pics of theirs, because both of them did a total slam dunk awesome job. The good news is that I did get pics of T, C & C's cakes. Please allow me to share their finished products with you.

This little guy is Tiff's. I thought that the stars amongst the roses was pretty cool. I would have never thought of that, but I liked the texture that they added.

This is Christine's. Please note the bow. She's a friggin genius that she can make a bow look so easy. (I'm telling you people, it looks easy... IT IS NOT EASY.)

And this is the top of Christian's. Again, I was so fetching busy with my 13 (yes, count them, 13) roses that I totally lost track of time and missed all the good photo ops. The border around the edge of Christian's cake was the same teal/burgundy that she did her roses out of, and it was totally awesome. I'm sorry to say that by the time I had the camera out to take a shot, she'd already put the cake in the carrier, so the top shot is all you get.

And by now, I'm sure (I like to flatter myself, as we all know) that you're DYING to see my own little lovely. But first, I have to tell you - I had a vision of what I wanted my cake to look like this week. I wanted to do a tiered number, with an 8 inch on the bottom and a 6 inch on top, with roses (purple roses, actually) all around the top of the 8" tier and then covering the top of the 6" top. Uhm, that plan was shot plum out of the water when I realized that my 8" pan is actually a 9" pan... and is actually closer to 10" than 9", thanks to the weird lip on the pan. (Yeah, I have no idea how I don't even know what cake pans I have until I go to use them. Someone should just shoot me in the head (or maybe just buy me an 8 inch round), I swear.) Of course, because necessity is the mother of invention (or rather, because I'm too dang cheap to go and buy an 8" round when I have a perfectly good, albeit weird sized, set) - I ran with the funky 9 1/2" pan and the 6 incher. Sadly, once I got it put together and frosted, it looked more like a hat. Like, circa 1930's hat. Or maybe the purple ladies hats... you know what I'm talking about. Oh geez. (And yup, as always, there's my Cherry Coke cup there in the shot. Me + caffeine = creative genuis. Or maybe it = distracted woman manned with decorator's tips... Either way, there's my Coke cup. And my funky hat/cake.)

But don't you worry, I still went to class fully intending on making enough flowers to cover the now 11 inch (thanks to the icing, it grew an inch) bottom layer. Thus... the 13 roses. These are pretty much lined up in the order in which they were made. As you can see... it... uh... took me some time to get good. (Check out #3 from the left, this is what I'm lovingly referring to as my hydrangea. Hey... it's in the flower family, okay?) And then as soon as I got good (by about #4), my icing got warm and squooshy and... I got bad again (case in point, #5). But, like I said, it's just a good thing that I'm not a perfectionist... and I just kept going. I whipped through every blasted spot of what-I'm-loosely-calling-purple icing that I had and ended up with 13 roses. 10 for the outside rim and 3 for the top. (Okay, 12 roses and 1 hydrangea. But still.)

After I got the roses on, I TOTALLY FAKED some leaves (it's a really fun tip, the texture is totally awesome... but it's killer to get those suckers to come to a point) - I found that if I drug the end of the leaves out a bit over the edge of the cake they looked more leaf-ish and less, uhm... weird-blob-of-green-ish. But that still wasn't enough color for a colorful chick like me, so... I added the yellow border around the bottom and at the top. All in all... I'm pretty happy with the end result. It isn't my total dream come true (so much for the idea that I could see the future... because this cake is so not the vision that I'd had earlier this week), but I've found that as I've been able to let go of the perfectionism thing and just have fun... the cakes turn out pretty, even when they don't turn out they way I'd planned them to. (And if I wasn't so determined to just start posting pics right about now, I think I could probably turn that last bit into a life lesson and wax all profound. Lucky for us all, it's time to show some cake and you're all spared my Thursday night philosophy lecture. Woohoo!)

And because I'll all kinds of proud of this sucker, here's a pic from another angle...

And yet another of just the top. (Yeah, that's Hydrangea up there amongst the roses. I figured since she was the biggest flower of the bunch, she should have prime seating.)

If I wasn't heading right into Wilton Course 2 next Thursday, I'm pretty sure I'd be weeping bitter tears of sadness that it's over right now. But... I am heading right back into class next week, and so I can cope. Next week we'll be starting on the royal icing (flowers, flowers and more flowers... that I can keep in a tupperware in the pantry for WEEKS - it's my own personal version of Heaven, I'm telling you). Of course I'll be keeping you posted. And sharing pics. You know me...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Because the 100th post is quite an occasion

In honor of my 100th post, here are 100 totally and completely random things about me.

1) My favorite color is red
2) I haven't grown (taller) since the 7th grade
3) I turned 16 1/3 of the way through my Junior year in high school
4) My high school driver's ed teacher gave up on teaching my how to parallel park (explains a lot, doesn't it?)
5) I have the movie You've Got Mail pretty much memorized
6) I played the flute in jr. high/high school
7) I'm the shortest person in my family (including my mom & sister)
8) I love banana popsicles
9) Ladybugs make me smile
10) I cheated my way through high school algebra (and still barely passed)
11) My first pet was a black cat named Snow White
12) I've been cracking my knuckles since the 6th grade
13) I HATE being called Lori (the name is Laurie, it rhymes with sorry)
14) I don't allow myself to make fudge, because I'll eat all 3 lbs by myself (sad, but true)
15) Homemade ice cream is my favorite
16) I don't really like brownies
17) I've always wanted to be in a play, but I never have been
18) I read over 300 books in the 4th grade
19) When I was in 2nd grade, I loved Spencer Decker
20) When I was little, my favorite color was blue
21) I've always wanted to get laryngitis (but I never have, it's tragic)
22) My first celebrity crush? Bruce Boxleitner
23) The first country song I ever left on long enough to listen to all the way through was a George Straight song (yup, I'm a country music convert, thanks to my friend Jo & The Chair music video)
24) I usually cook/bake without a recipe... I just make it up as I go
25) I started painting my fingernails when I was 11, haven't stopped since
26) I cut my own hair
27) I've been a grammar nazi since grade school, I use to fight with kids on the playground over whether ain't was a real word or not
28) I use to T.P. my high school English teacher's house every Tuesday/Thursday
29) I once tried to set a toilet on fire (it didn't work)
30) I was blond when I was little
31) My hair didn't get really curly until my mid-20's
32) I own over 200 movies
33) I can sing along with the entire Evita soundtrack
34) I sleep in the same pajamas, with the same bedding, all year round
35) I love chocolate cake
36) I'm a candy snob... I don't eat Nestles.
37) Benjamin, hands down, is my favorite of the 7 Pontipee brothers
38) I love root beer floats
39) I got 2 tickets (in one night), 2 days after I got my license
40) I get pukey at the sight of blood (even thinking about the sight of blood, actually)
41) I don't like Ruffles potato chips
42) I made myself sick in jr. high eating Cool Ranch Doritos - haven't really enjoyed them since
43) Coke is my fav soda
44) Nutty Bars are my fav Little Debbie snacks
45) Raspberry jam is my fruit spread of choice
46) I'm not much of a dog person
47) I could eat cake every day
48) My favorite Matthew McConaughey movie is How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days
49) My favorite X-Men movie is X-2
50) I love Peter Petrelli
51) True story movies always get me
52) I love the book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
53) I love a good acronym
54) I don't own a dictionary (tragic)
55) Or a thesaurus (strangely enough)
56) My favorite Disney princess movie is Sleeping Beauty
57) I use to ride horses every weekend with my friend Holly when I was a kid (her horses)
58) My childhood dreamhouse is now an abandoned mobile home that sits by the creek in my hometown
60) I always wanted an easy-bake oven (never got one)
61) My mom use to make homemade clay (play-doh cost too much)
62) My favorite hot cereal is cracked wheat (with brown sugar and half & half... YUM)
63) I want to go to Rome like none other
64) I love cold OJ with my warm chocolate chip cookies
65) I've worn glasses since the 5th grade
66) I've never taken a foreign language class
67) I love Jello Pudding Pops
68) Christian Bale is my fav Batman of all time
69) Who's kidding who? Christian Bale is pretty much my favorite everything he's ever done
70) I love to make pie - all kinds of pie
71) My fav vacation of all time? DC with Mom last summer
72) I can't make good bread to save my soul, it's always too thick & tough
73) Mint chip and cookies & cream ice creams are SO FREAKING GOOD together
74) I don't love pizza
75) I do love lasagna
76) I love to go to the movies
77) I like both black & red licorice
78) I've never read the Bible from beginning to end (I really should, I know)
79) I'm thinking about making a paper chain to count down the days until Heroes is back on
80) I sewed my finger to my hot pad in jr. high Home Ec class
81) I love to color (with crayons & colored pencils)
82) I played the cymbals in the marching band (yup, I was a band geek)
83) My current fav snack - cheese crisp with ham rolled up inside
84) I'm not big on maple syrup
85) My 2nd grade teacher had a piano in the classroom - we sang every day
86) I use to re-sell suckers on the playground in grade school to make money (I'd inflate the prices, of course)
87) My first dog's name was Harvey, I named him after the dog in E.T.
88) Hugh Jackman's my favorite singing movie star
89) I do not love Stephenie Meyer's books
90) I like to mix ketchup & A-1 together and dip my fries in it
91) I could eat mashed potatoes every day of my life
92) I prefer fluffy waffles to thin/crispy ones
93) I actually like to have my picture taken (usually)
94) I dig a man in uniform
95) It's A Wonderful Life is my favorite Christmas movie of all time
96) I LOVE crackers and spray cheese
97) The Count of Monte Cristo is my fav classic book
98) I scored an accumulative 12 on the math section of my ACT (go, me!)
99) Sayid is my favorite character on LOST (though I do love Dr. Jack, Sawyer, and Desmond as well)
100) I love to make lists

What better way to celebrate Hump Day?

I'm pretty stoked. Tomorrow I am going to see Goonies in the theater. Yes, you read that right. Goonies. In the theater. How sweet is that? There are a couple theaters here in town that are running a "classic movie season" (my guess is that they're trying to boost business - this is a pretty good way to do it, if you ask me). *The shows are on Wednesdays only, and the tickets are $5. Not to mention, this theater has THE BEST POPCORN OF ALL TIME. Seriously, Goonies for $5, plus a 32 oz coke & killer popcorn? What's not to love about my Wednesday nights these days?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kindred Spirits

Did anyone else see this article? Apparently there is an organization (TEAL - the Typo Eradication Advancement League) that has a couple members who've been on a cross-country mission this summer to "stamp out as many typos as we can find, in public signage and other venues where innocent eyes may be befouled by vile stains on the delicate fabric of our language". (How great is that?) I understand they've been traveling cross country this summer, removing typos found on signs along the way. They'd stopped in AZ for some R&R at The Grand Canyon, when on a day off, they came across a sign that begged to be amended. Too bad for them, they got caught this time. Even more too bad for them, this sign was a one-of-a-kind original made by an artist in the 50's and cannot be replaced, so they got into BIG TROUBLE for messing with the sign. Of course, I think the whole thing is pretty hilarious. Also, of course, I have a bit of a love thang going on for this Herson guy right now. I mean, how could I not? He's been cruising the country, taking care of excess commas and inappropriately placed apostrophes (not to mention, in his journal entry, he compared himself to Mr. Gadget, in that he simply cannot "shut it off"). I ask you all, what's not to love?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bows for Baby & Me

For those of you who aren't caught up on the current events of my life... I have a new niece. According to all the pictures that my brother/parents have emailed (and or pixed to me), she is adorable. I, sadly, have been unable to meet her as yet, due to an infection that started the week she was born, and just keeps on hanging on. (Per the doc, the antibiotic that I'm on now should clear any and all traces of the infection and I should be able to see her on Friday... on her 2 week birthday. Halle-freakin-lujah, and it's about time!)

Anyhoo... though I have been unable to actually see/hold/play with Baby Hazel, I've been thinking about her A LOT. So when I went to my friend Lizzie's Girls Night In Party last night, I commissioned matching hair flower/bows to be made for both of us. Check it.
Lizzie made these for us. (She is THE NICEST!) Aren't they awesome? I wore them on my head just over my ears for most of the night, Princess Leia style. (Anything to get Han Solo, y'know.) I ended up moving them up to the top of my head, for the sake of my hearing and... the claustrophobia. Not to mention, Han was nowhere in sight, so the obtrusive flower/buns on the side of the head look wasn't doing anything for me. (And yeah, I know I'm looking a little peaked in this photo... Don't be cruel. I told you I've been sick - my color is still a bit off. Clearly. And yet I continue to post pics of myself online. I know, it cannot be explained.)
I live in anticipation of the day that I get to see the new babe and we can have an Aunt/Niece photoshoot in our matching super cute really really big flower clips. Wahoo! (Oh yeah, you gotta KNOW I'll be blogging about it as soon as it happens!)

What my bed says about me...

What Your Bed Says About You

Outward appearances are a concern of yours, but not your primary concern. You try to take care of yourself and your home, but it's not an obsession.

You try to be an organized person, but you often fall behind. Certain parts of your life tend to fall into chaos.

You are not very high maintenance in general, but you are high maintenance about a few things.

In relationships, you tend to be quite dominant. You enjoy taking charge.

You tend to be a dreamy, head in the clouds type of person. You think in terms of possibilities.

You are a traveler. You are comfortable anywhere, and you rarely feel homesick.

This quiz nailed me pretty well. I'm impressed. Who knew that lying on the right side of my bed and using 2 pillows would cast such a defining light on my personality?

I don't know that I agree with "certain parts of your life tend to fall into chaos"... chaos is such a strong word... but I will give that "mi vida loco" was one of the names I'd thought about giving to my blog. (I mean, sometimes things do get just a little bit crazy around here.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cake 101, Class #3

Hello again, curious blog readers. It's time for another report on how my cake decorating is coming along. And don't you worry your pretty (and/or handsome) little heads, this is gonna be another post chock full of pictures. (Yeehaw!) So, tonight we were supposed to experiment with the thick icing and learn how to make roses & clowns. Uh, yeah, please note the italics used in the previous sentence. We did not learn step 2 of the rose, nor did any of us opt for the clown cake. Our teacher, Ilene, did make this clown, though.

And as cool/easy as she did make it look, none of the rest of the class (myself included) opted for trying to repeat the experience. Mind you, Christine, Christian and I had planned on doing clowns (mostly because we thought we had to), and so we went into class with the "teamwork" mentality. Since we'd thought we were clown-bound, we'd decided pre-class that we'd each do a primary color with our icing and then we'd share bags (and thus all three of us would have a super cute multi-colored clown). But then, uhm... we decided not to do a clown, and so we were each kind of stuck with only one color of icing. Oops. (Lucky me, though, because I chose red. We all know that I'm a big fan of red, so it turned out well for me.)

And since this post is (as they pretty much all are), all about me... please allow me to show you a close up of the top of my cake. Look at all those red flowers. They make me absolutely giddy! (And I just learned how to make them tonight... I'm in love with this tip!)

But now I'll move on to the rest of the class... Angela (of Starred Cake Fame) was the only other girl to bring an actual cake (the other four ladies brought cupcakes, which looked fun and easy... but since when do I go the fun & easy route?). This is her Lovely from this week. (Seriously, I think she's gifted. She claims not to be gifted, but rather, to be a practicer of the art. So, if she's practicing throughout the week, I guess we can still be friends.) Seriously, isn't this bee-yoo-tiful?

Here's a shot of Christine showing her school spirit ("Go, Lobos, go!"). Pretty sweet blue & white cupcakes, if you do ask me. Of course, as a fellow SHS grad, I am always a fan of royal blue & white.

And here's a shot of Christian's primary colored collection of cakes. (Her "assigned" color was yellow, and then she made a bit of blue and borrowed some of my red to offset the yellow.) My favorite of hers was the yellow all-starred guy. He reminded me of a crustacean, and literally had me wanting to sing Under The Sea in class. (I held back, but only because not all of the ladies know me well enough to know that my life is a musical. Yet. Maybe I'll let them in on that little secret next week. I'll keep you posted.)

Tiffany and Raina (the mom & daughter team that were killing me with their perfection last week) are up to all kinds of cute things. Check their cupcakes... Those little creative geniuses were coming up with THE CUTEST ideas! Oh, the cherries... they were so stinkin cute! I only wish I'd walked around to the other side of the table to take their pic, rather than taking it from my side of the table. They look very upside down and not as cute as they really were. That's my bad, not Tiffany's. Oops. :(

All in all, it was a VERY FUN night. I hadn't been sure if I was up to it this week, but I'd frosted myself this little white top hat... just in case. (And yup, there's my McD's cup there in the pic along with. I'm nothing if not predictable. I've gotta have my Coke, y'know.) The good news? This week my icing wasn't as crumby. It turns out that what the teacher said is true... If you put a thin glaze on the cake while it's still warm, and let it get hard, the glaze'll hold the crumbs in and they won't get into your icing. GENIUS!

It turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. (The cake, not me so much... but I was so proud of my red flowery creation that I had to be in the pic - even if I have been sick all week, look dog-tired and am still a little swollen from the crud.) I'm a silly goose (and a bit of a camera hog), what can I say?

AAAHHHH!!! I love this class! It's the most fun EVER!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Because I Grammar

As it's the beginning of a new school year for almost everyone I know, I thought that this might be fun. Here are some timely reminders of my fav grammar "do's & dont's". (For those of you who are wondering... No, I did not write this myself. I simply found it online, laughed out loud as I read it (twice, because I enjoyed it so flippin much), and then promptly posted here for you all to see.)

Grammar Advice for the Coming School Year

1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They're old hat.)
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually)
9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments.
11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used unless you don't want to seem too formal.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not always apropos.
13. Do not use more words, phrases, sentences, or other linguistic elements than you, yourself, actually really and definitely need to use or employ when expressing yourself or otherwise giving voice to what you may or may not be thinking when you are trying to say how many words you should use or not use when using words.
14. One should NEVER generalize.
15. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
16. Don't use no double negatives.
17. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, i.e. etc.
18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
22. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
23. Kill excessive exclamation points!!!
24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others elude to them.
25. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth shaking ideas.
26. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
27. Eliminate distracting quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson is said to have once remarked, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
28. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
31. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
32. Who needs rhetorical questions?
33. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
And finally…
34. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Baby Hazel

I promise that I won't be putting up a new picture of my niece every single day of her life... but it's only day 2, and her dad did send me this new SUPER CUTE pic of her with a pink bow on her head this afternoon. I can't resist...So, here's a funny turn of events. Remember how just yesterday they weighed her in at 7 lbs 4 oz? Yeah, today she was 8 lbs 7 oz. Turns out that the ladies at the hospital didn't know how to use the scales last night. (Which, frankly, makes a lot more sense. You all saw that fat little baby's face. NO WAY did that 21 inch long baby girl weigh 7 pounds.) Oh, and she has a whole name now... Amy Hazel. They'll call her Hazel, which we're all pretty excited about, since we've missed our other Hazel a lot.

This is my mom's mom... isn't she gorgeous?

I love that we finally have another Hazel in the family. There've been a few Russells (one of which also belongs to Kirk), but she's the first Hazel amongst the grandchildren & great-grands in my mom's family. It's so cool to see family names going into another generation. What's really cool is that Hazel is a family name for Mar, too, so I know her family is as stoked as ours is that this sweet little baby girl is here and is carrying such a beautiful name.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, Baby!

This is my new SUPER SWEET NIECE, Hazel.

She was born today at 5:53... weighed 7 lbs 4 oz (I think) and looks just like her dad (who, btw, looks just like mine). Isn't she a doll? I love her!

Cake 101, Class #2

For those of you who doubted the ugliness of the cake I took to class this week, I took this picture.

Un-freaking-believable, isn't it? And the worst part was? It didn't even taste good. Nope. Why? Because, for one thing... the icing was terrible. It seems that I am unable to measure butter flavoring in its proper dosage. I, for some unknown reason, thought that the recipe was calling for a teaspoon of vanilla AND a teaspoon of butter flavoring. (For the record, it was an "either/or" recommendation. Oops.) Turns out that I had movie theater butter popcorn with just a hint of vanilla flavored icing. Uhm... not a treat. But since the bottom layer of the cake was burnt (Mom cooked the bottom layer - and I'm not judging when I tell you that... I'd asked her to bake the cake, but forgot to tell her that my oven cooks hot... it was so not her fault), I figured that a burnt cake didn't need yummy icing. So, rather than pitch the burnt offering and the butter flavored buttercream, I did just stacked and iced them. And, let me tell you... when I got to class and saw the beautiful, even, white creaminess that was the cute & perky blonde girl's cake... I wanted to crawl under the cake decorating table and die.

To recap: this is my HIDEOUS cake, stuck on a piece of cardboard that I cut out of a box that I had in my closet that I covered in tin foil. Laid out there on my nasty old towel, surrounded by frosting in ziploc baggies and my other supplies strewn from here to kingdom come. Oh, and... uh, yeah... that's my Taco Bell cup, too. Classy.
And this is The Beautiful Blonde's beautiful cake. Check it, creamy white icing with nary a crumb to be seen, atop a lovely cardboard cake holder that I'm sure she paid good money for. What you can't see is the pristine AJ's cake carrying box she brought The Circular White Beauty in - what you can see are her lovely plastic containers full of extra icing, beautifully and aesthetically arranged. (And the real kicker? She is as lovely as her cake. In every way. She's gorgeous, but she's funny and nice and... one of those women you want to think doesn't exist, but she does. Ugh.)

This week we learned how to work with the different consistencies. We did wrote with the thin icing (with a little piping gel mixed in). I was in love with the letters. Clearly, as I not only traced over the sample letters, but also wrote "congratulations", "ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho", and "Laurie" along the borders. I'm telling you, I get absolutely giddy when I get to write with icing!

We learned (in theory) how to make frosting roses. This is Christian with her FIRST TRY EVER. (She's kicking my butt in this class.)This is me (HA!) with my first try ever. (Note the lack of all capped excitement.) Yeah, I had a hard time even getting the rose center to come out right. This was, amazingly & sadly, my 4th try.

AND we got up close & personal with the star tip. Here are some of the other girls' cakes.

This is Christian's super cute (and SUPER DELICIOUS) little number...

This is the Holy Moses, That's A LOT of Star Tips Cake (I can't believe it... she spent about an hour doing this)!

This is the circle cake you saw before, finished. It was pretty as a picture. Even prettier, actually. (She copied a cake out of the book - AND - I liked hers better than the sample pic. I'm telling you, it was a thing of beauty.)

And this little lovely... this is mine. Please note the purple & green loopies around the edge. I couldn't think of a thing to WRITE on the cake, but I was so enamored of the thin icing that I felt the need to get down with it and do some squiggles. The flower in the middle? Uhm, yeah... totally free-hand (which is why it was off-center, HILARIOUS, but I "saved it" with the stem & leaves). Since the bottom layer was an inch smaller than the top layer (don't ask, I'm not sure how it happened, since they were baked in the same exact pan), I went around the bottom TWICE to fill in the gaps. And then went a little nuts with the stars on the sides, so as to hide the chocolate-chip effect that I got from the crumbies in my white icing.

All in all, it was a SUPERBLY fun time had by all. Seriously, this class is the most fun ever! Color me Betty Crocker, I'm a cake decorator! (Cakewrecks, here I come...)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hey, I could be an Olympian, too...

So... Michael Phelps, bless his sweet little gold medal winning heart, has been getting all kinds of press for his 12,000 calorie a day diet. For those of you who haven't seen the daily breakdown, here it is...

Breakfast: Three fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise. Two cups of coffee. One five-egg omelet. One bowl of grits. Three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar. Three chocolate-chip pancakes.

Lunch: One pound of pasta. Two large ham and cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise on white bread, plus 1,000 calories of energy drinks.

Dinner: One pound of pasta, an entire pizza and even more energy drinks.

Now that I know that Olympians can eat 12,000 calories a day, I'm thinking that maybe I should look into becoming a swimmer. I think I'll go have a snack and hit the pool. Maybe if I eat half a pizza, I'll have the energy to swim a few laps. What do you think? It's worth a shot, right?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Two little piggies...

So, tonight Mom and I stayed home for dinner (instead of going to Logan's again, as unbelievable as that may sound). We had some crock pot stroganoff (YUM) and then topped it off with the cake shavings that came from the two layers that I crammed into what is quite possibly the ugliest "decorator's cake" ever known to mankind. We ended up with two pretty HEAPING bowls of cake pieces, then dug out the ice cream and the cool whip (not to mention the Smucker's mint chocolate syrup) and we went to town. Check this... We ate ALL the cake, ALL the ice cream, ALL the cool whip, and half the syrup. And now we're sitting down to watch Hitch and see if we can't laugh the calories off. :) Good times. Seriously, Mom and I have the most fun together, it's unreal!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Logan's Roadhouse

I would like to take a moment and bear testimony to the truthfulness and goodness of the Logan's M-Th $13.99 Dinner for Two menu. My mom, as you may have noticed on the twitter sidebar, is here this week with me and when I came home from work today, I was all "Mom... put on your shoes, we are going out!". (It's fun for me to have someone here, someone I can tell "we're going out!", and then she gets up and comes with. And even better, once I get her out... she pays! It's quite excellent!) Anyhoo, we went over to Logan's. I've been seeing the "2 dinners for $13.99" banner for a while and have been wondering what that was about. Well, hello, we went to check it out, and oh my goodness gracious... it's FREAKIN AWESOME! Mom had chicken fried steak (which she said was good, but a little too crispy), and I had the grilled pork chop (which was also quite good, albeit a little too salty) AND we each had our choice of two sides. (And I haven't even told you about the peanuts (ugh... but Mom was a fan) and the hot rolls & butter ala Texas Roadhouse that came before our dinner did.) Seriously, we got all that food for only $13.99! How amazing is that? Yeah, we're so going back tomorrow and trying something else off the menu. (There were about 15 options. I'm not kidding. It's fantastic!) I'm a fan!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Cake Decorating 101

I'm taking a cake decorating class with some girlfriends, and last night was our first class in the first course. So far I've learned:

1) That there are three different consistencies of buttercream - stiff (feels like cookie dough), medium (feels like regular icing) and thin (about the consistency of cool whip)
Stiff icing is for roses & petals
Medium is for actually icing the cake
Thin is to write with
2) You can use a pudding cup as a filling in between layers instead of icing (how cool is that?)
3) The Wilton buttercream icing recipe doesn't call for butter (you add butter flavoring instead of the real thing)
4) You don't have to use couplers with the tips (you can just put the tip right inside the bag, before you add the icing) - I was shocked (my mom always made me use the couplers, and I hated washing them)
5) You can make a dunce cap... I mean a disposable bag... out of parchment paper
6) You can buy unfrosted layers of cake at the grocery store bakery (seriously - who knew?)
7) My instructor's name is Ilene, and she has a (divorced) son who is 40 years old, lives in Flag, and is a carpel tunnel specialist (can we all say "he probably makes more than $9 an hour... bring it on!"? ... awh, heck, even if we can't all say it, I sure as heck can...)

Next week we frost our first cake in class. I'll be taking my camera with, so you all can get a gander at my maiden cake decorating experience. Woo-woo!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Whole Fam Damily

I was flipping through some family photos tonight and I realized that (egads!) I had never posted pics from my 4th of July weekend at home (for shame). So... totally delayed, literally a month after the fact... here are some pretty sweet pics from my 4th of July weekend.

These are from Friday night. We were all home (yup... all 6 six kids, 2 daughters-in-law, 4 grandkids... everyone). It was a party all day long (and into the night). Here is a sweet pic of The Tough Guys.

And here they are in the front yard with Ty, checking out the "HUGE GRASSHOPPERS" (yeah, they were not actually that huge... still disgusting, mind you, but not HUGE)

When it got to be bedtime, Spence's kids didn't want to go to bed and miss out on the party. Seth (who, btw, put the kibosh on me kissing him about 3 years ago) sidled up to me and asked if I had any liptick in my purse... and if I wanted to play chase and then kiss him. (HILARIOUS!) I told him that I did, in fact, have some lipstick in my purse, and that if he'd bring it to me, I'd totally chase & kiss him. Below are the results of that fun game. Silly boys...Saturday morning came early (as it always does). Dad and the boys chased the anvil through town

and Spence & Ty ran in the 2K while Brett played ball at the park.

Saturday afternoon, we all just hung out at the folks'. The little boys played "good & bad guys". Here they are with their "guns" made out of blocks. Oh man, boys are funny!

Here they are having fun with Uncle Tyler, playing a SERIOUS game of CandyLand. Check out Russell-Bear's face. (He's the little one sitting cross legged on the table.)

And what would a weekend at Granny & Grandad's be without ice cream all the way around, all you can eat - all weekend long?
Saturday night, we all went out to dinner - and then Spence & Kirk took their families to the rodeo.

Sunday morning we did the "local" thing and headed over to one of the local hot spots and had our pictures taken. My FANTASTIC friend Mel came and took the big group photos for us, and then we split into smaller groups and Mom, Mary & Brea did the honors. What with the tractors, chickens, cows & pigs... the boys were entertained and happy long enough to get some really good shots.

Kate, Mom & me, for those of you who may not know all three of us on sight. (Looking at this pic I'm suddenly bummed that I whacked off the hair. Granted, I don't have to try quite as hard to keep it tamed these days - but still... HOLY MOSES, it was long, right?)

Seth & The Big Bull. This was as close as any of the boys got to the bull pen. (Go, Seth!)
All four boys sitting on the tractor, playing with the rope. So stinkin cute!

This is Kirk's family. They have 2 boys and 8/9 of a baby girl. (Next time we have a family photo shoot there will be a touch more estrogen in the shot. We're all super excited about their almost-here baby girl!)

And this is Spencer's family. Those of you who are big Razzzberry fans will recognize the boys from The Hulk photoshoot last month. :)

And this... you guessed it, this is the title photo... The Whole Fam Damily, in all of our glory (or silliness - whichever). Love you all! :)