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.

November 6, 2011

On the cooling rack: Birthday cake

I've seen a few ice cream brands come out with a "birthday cake" flavor that's always some sweet cream cake batter vanilla tasting thing with gaudy-colored sprinkles and chalky chunks of Crisco frosting. Excuse me while I barf. This is my version of a birthday cake:

Four layers of chocolate cake layered with fresh raspberry filling and topped with chocolate buttercream and a semisweet chocolate ganache. This thing was TALL - about 9" - and oh so good. The different languages were a nod to uncles' and grandpa's mission locations. I didn't have my usual baking tools since this was at my sister-in-law's house, so please excuse the white chocolate writing that looked a little sad. Dean, the birthday boy, didn't seem to mind.

Grandma couldn't take it anymore:

Okay, okay, I'll clean him up...

Creation: Crocheted Baby Blanket

I really need to take more pictures of the stuff I make, and I should do that before I give them away. I actually did remember to throw this on the bed before folding it up to give to one of my best friends for her 4th baby. I was pretty proud of it. I found the main pattern in a generic stitch book, but made it nice and big (don't you hate baby blankets that are too small? Maybe I'm tainted because my babies are too big...) and then finished it with a border of my own design. Don't ask me what the pattern is. I made this back in June and can't remember for the life of me how I did it.

Anyway, my friend has since had her baby girl and she named her Brooke Allison. I still can't get over it.

A Scalpel Saved Our Marriage

I know it's been a while. We've been up to a lot. Some of which is explained below.

Ah, weddings. You plan and plan, and for a while you seem to know more about mail-order napkins than your fiance's favorite color. The big day comes and hopefully it's filled with family, happiness, music, good wishes, and shaking your butt to "Whatta Man" at your wedding reception.

On to the honeymoon, perhaps to some place you've never been before, and the first night you're sleeping together (and, ahem, actually sleeping) you start to notice little things about the other person's night habits. The one thing I noticed during that time was that my shiny new spouse had issues with sleeping. Meh, no matter. We were in love and snuggly and starting a new life together, right? Nothing was going to disrupt our honeymoon phase that was destined to last until the Second Coming. Except that every subsequent night I began to wonder how long this earth life was actually going to last because Ted sounded like he was about to die multiple deaths.

I very sweetly mentioned this issue to him a few times, but he dismissed it. His reasoning was that if no one (parents, roommates, mission companions, Salma Hayek) had ever told him before that he was holding his breath and gagging during the night, it must not be true and I must be imagining things. Yes, this was MY problem, people.

Until I got pregnant. Then it was the world's problem. I got more and more frustrated about my lack of sleep in the first place, then combined with not being able to go back to sleep because of a certain spouse's snoring, and don't get me started on when baby #1 and then baby #2 actually got here and let's just say buh-bye to sleep altogether. I finally convinced him at one point to just "get checked out" and to his credit, he did, and he didn't even grumble about it. He had to spend the night at a sleep center hooked up to all sorts of who-knows-what, and the diagnosis: normal people's brains "wake up" about 5x per hour. Not a full wake-up, just normal patterns as your brain goes through its sleeping cycles. Ted's brain was waking up 36 times. Per hour. That's waking up more than once every other minute!! Basically, it was one of the worst cases of sleep apnea they'd ever seen. So they prescribed a CPAP. It was heaven for me, hell for him. He'd rip it off subconsciously in the middle of the night, so we were back to the same ol' antics and square one.

It was so bad during pregnancy #2 and post-baby #2 that Ted just took to sleeping in our guest bed every night. Despite the feeling that we were roommates and not lovers (kinky), it worked wonders with catching up on sleep. I got a full night (well, once Dean started sleeping through the night, which didn't happen until a few months ago) and he didn't wake up worrying if I was starting my day off ticked because I hadn't gotten enough winks.

Time to try something else.

A few months ago Ted went in for a consultation about his tonsils. They were massive. He was scheduled for a tonsillectomy on Sept 8, so my very pregnant friend came to babysit while I went to the hospital with Ted. The surgery went fine, but the recovery was awful for him. I had to do some major stocking up on ice cream. He winced over every bite. The doctor said it was going to "hurt like hell", and he wasn't kidding. Ted just plain ol' didn't want to bother eating because it hurt so bad, so he lost 10 pounds. I think I found them.

A month later, we went on a little weekend trip to the Outer Banks, a popular NC vacation spot and one of the points of interest for Hurricane Irene back in August (the 27th to be exact. I remember because I helped throw a baby shower that day -oh, for that very pregnant friend mentioned above- and my hair was a mess). So there we were, glowing in the aftermath of a BYU win over the Utah State Aggies - still trying to figure out how they did it - and I realized I hadn't heard Ted snore once the night before. See, we hadn't been sleeping in the same bed for months, more than a year, actually, so I'd forgotten about the various noises. Before I said anything, though, and jinxed it, I thought I'd sleep through another night. Same result. Could it be????

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, which was also a couple weeks after this little trip. Dean, the worst sleeping child we've ever had, was up to his same old tricks and it was driving us batty, so Ted took matters into his own hands and just stuck him in the office/sewing/guest room, no discussion, to just let him cry and reduce our frustration. Which means Ted had nowhere to sleep except....our bed.

And I'm happy to report that the only thing that bothers me now is how small a queen is when there's another body in it. But no noises - no gagging, no breath-holding, no choking, not even a snore. Just nice, even, deeeeeep sleep breathing.... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thank you a million times over, Dr Snip-its at Duke Hospital. You have no idea what you've done for us.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the main reason his tonsils were massive in the first place was because when we were engaged, he um, contracted mono from me. What can I say? I'm a giver.

The Cooling Rack

Baked goods are only half the story...