October 25, 2012

Another Ordinary Day, Transformed

I feel like I got major mommy points last night. What started out as any other kind of day filled with laundry, cooking, cleaning up after the cooking, whining children, and sneaking in a teensy nap, I decided to forgo the normal dinner/nighttime/bedtime routine with the kids and switch it up a bit while I still could.

It all started with a Groupon that was expiring.

I bought a Groupon months ago to a fabulous cafe and bakery in town. Of course I forgot about it until last Friday. It was only valid Mon-Thurs, so I thought to use it for my good friend's birthday, which was also yesterday. When I contacted Valerie about wanting to have some birthday fun that day, she told me her husband had beat me to the plan-making. Back to square one.

I didn't want to spend the whole value ($14) on "just food", especially $10 worth of kids' meals. Their food is great, but my sweet tooth has been working overtime. So lunch was out, especially since I have fabulous leftover options in my fridge at all times. Ted couldn't join me until his work was over, but I knew if I took the kids to get pastries and cookies, they wouldn't touch any dinner.

What started out as a problem turned into making a fabulous pot of Lentil Sausage Soup and slicing and buttering some homemade Dilly Bread (mom's recipe), picking up Daddy and going to the park for a nighttime picnic. The cold weather hit hard yesterday, so I packed ski jackets and hats and our fuzzy waterproof picnic blanket to make sure we were comfy. We found a well-lit pavilion with grassy spots all around, and there we sat, bundled up for winter weather holding warm bowls of steamy, savory soup and sopping up the broth with homemade herb bread. I had a moment of pure content. Then we packed it all up and went to Gourmandise to try to choose from the wide variety of gorgeous, tasty treats. Our waitress was a joy, kids were gleeful, and I got a dense chocolate raspberry brownie that I will try to duplicate soon. The best part? Our whole Groupon was spent on SUGAR!!

And just in time. It snowed while we were sleeping. I can do a 40-degree picnic, but not a 30-degree one. :)

July 1, 2012

Tell me how you really feel

I thought I would include yet another amusing conversation in our household tonight. Ted graduated from law school and is now working on his bar prep for SOOO many hours a day. I took the kids to my brother's house this afternoon so he could wallow in technicalities all by himself. It was a fabulous visit with my bro and his 3 teenage kids, with fabulous food to go with. I was recounting parts of the day with Ted tonight and this exchange took place, nothing more, nothing less. Me: Jessica (my almost 17-year old niece) wants to be a lawyer. Ted: Did you discourage her? Me: No. She was excited about it, so I told her how many areas there were and to go for it. Ted: Be careful. She could sue you for negligence.

April 21, 2012

On the cooling rack: Cake fit for the Oscars

Yes, yes, I know it's been a while. Let's just chalk it up to "issues".

Some friends of mine in the movie-making business hold an annual Oscar-watching party akin to most people's Super Bowls. There is commentary (always a riot), yelling ("get off the stage! No one wants to listen to you!"), and a most divine spread of food. Ohhhhhh, the food. While Jeff gets his jollies with friends in front of the TV, Jana is in the kitchen making dish after dish of gourmet goodness. I asked what I could bring and this was the conversation:

Jana: Well, you could either bring syrups and cream for the Italian soda machine, or you could make a dessert. But don't go all out - it's not a big deal. Don't stress over it at all.
Me: Oh, yeah right. I know you all too well, Miss Jana. What are you making for dinner?
Jana: Just 5 different kinds of gourmet pizzas - probably around 20 of them.
Me: Uh huh, well, I'll make a dessert, of course.
Jana: Seriously, don't stress over it.
Me: Ok, I'll just make a pan of brownies from a mix. But since it's the Oscars maybe I'll make TWO pans.

I decided to bring this instead:

Did you see the stage show by Cirque du Soleil?? I need to get my fat butt to Vegas!

December 8, 2011

A nighttime conversation

A friend and I have been teaching our almost 3-yr-olds preschool in our homes. It's been awesome. It's little more than structured playtime, but every so often we see a light bulb go on, so we press forward. Lessons are based on one letter per day.

Usually on the nights before school mornings, we try to prep Tessa. She loves school, so the prep is totally enjoyable, like last night's conversation:

Me: Tessa, guess what tomorrow is!
Tessa: [eyes widening and grin slowly uncurling] Schoooool??
Me: Yes! And do you know what letter you're learning tomorrow? "R"!
Tessa: R. rrrr...rrrrr...
Me: That's right. "R" makes the "rrr" sound. What word starts with "R"?
Tessa: rrrrrr.......rrrrrr..........rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.....rrrrrrrrrrockettes!

November 27, 2011

On the cooling rack: Baby Shower Menu #1

We spent the summer in Utah for Ted's internship, then returned to NC where I instantly became deeply entrenched in food planning/buying/prepping.

This first shower was put on by a committee of five friends because when we heard our friend was pregnant, we all insisted to help. I was first to offer, however, so I was in charge of whatever I wanted, which of course was food. But to just divvy out the house, decorations, drinks, and photographer to other people and get their help with the food anyway? Couldn't have been better. Here's the outcome.

The lemonade stand and handmade wreath:

The table:
The food:
Caprese Paninis on Sourdough or Nine Grain
Taste test:
Bell Pepper Slaw:
Mushroom Risotto in the cutest little individual cups ever:
Fruit skewers:

Various finger foods included the Most Incredible Lemon Bars Ever (not the real name, but should be), Oreo balls (Marianne's specialty), finger sandwiches, and sliced s'mores (the pregnant lady had been craving them).

Basically we had dessert first, in the middle, and at the end, a Mille Crepe Cake:
This thing was fabulous. Twenty crepes, each layered with a thin spread of raspberry pastry cream lightened with whipped cream, bruleed on top, and served with fresh berries and lemon curd. For a first time and for something off the beaten path (you know I'm a chocolate girl), this cake was to die for. I saw it on an episode of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the food network and knew I could come pretty close to replicating it. Crispy sugary top, creamy and crepe-y layers, hints of raspberry and lemon, oh heaven.

Action shot:

I've gotta get a brulee torch that means business. I made two of these cakes for the number of guests we had, and by the time I was done burning all the sugar, my hands HURT. That button you have to press the whole time is a doozy. And it was a good thing I brought extra butane.

You can't see it in this shot, but my first two fingers on my right hand are bandaged up from slicing them open on my fancy mandoline for the bell pepper slaw. Word to the wise - when the instructions say to use the safety thinger dinger, use it. I bled all over Annee's kitchen.

Guest of honor:
Ha! Nice placement of the crib mattress, Syphus. Gee whiz. Anyway, Melissa looked radiant her whole pregnancy and since I take forever to get blog posts up these days, her baby is now two months old. I know, I'm so embarrassed.

Creation: Crocheted Owl Pillow

One of my high school friends just happened to move right into my ward here in NC. Since we were in high school together, she has traveled and lived around the world and has turned into quite the seamstress, hostess, decorator, organizer, and I could go on. We've gone to so many of the same functions, and I've noticed she's given a handmade something-or-other to every person. Coming from someone who's trying to convert from giving just diapers and boobie pads (and let's be honest, those are necessary), I've been amazed.

So I noticed she's gotten into owls lately, and she loves making pillows, so I found a pattern on Joann's site and went from 20 pieces to this:

I dropped it off at her house while she was doing an 18 mile run.ON her birthday! Gee, not feeling inadequate at all. Anyway, she's fabulous, talented, and totally humble about it. Happy Birthday Annee!

Here's a link to her blog: Made on Maple

Creation: Crocheted Newsie Cap

My friend had her baby and named him Hank. Come on - I HAD to make this kind of cap:

I thought it was so teensy, but I took it over there and his little head was swimming in it. However, it's been a few months and his head is just about big enough for these cold months. He's a stylin' little kid.

The Cooling Rack

Baked goods are only half the story...