Monday, June 27, 2011

{TWD} Chocolate Biscotti

 Welcome to Tuesdays with Dorie....what? It's Monday? Oh well I must be ahead of the game! What? This was the recipe for June 14th and Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes has had the recipe up that long? Please check out her site with the recipe and see how other bakers fared making these!
Well, that can only mean one thing...I am way behind on my baking! Or it is summer time and we are on the go...or that I am just a slacker! However I should not have been a slacker on these because they are fabulous! Back in October of 2008 we made Lenox Almond Biscotti. Mine tasted fine but it didn't look that great. Not so this time. This time they looked like biscotti and tasted delicious!

Do you have random mugs? I do. I think I have 4 green mugs that match and 4 red mugs that match. The rest are a random hodge podge. A friend gave this one to me many years ago. I think it was my friend Cyndi but it could have been Kristin. Help me out here ladies! Even though I have not been single in 17 years I think it is funny and have kept it in the collection.  I thought this mug did a nice job of showing off my chocolate peanut butter biscotti. The biscotti was supposed to have espresso powder and almonds but I had neither. So in went peanut butter chips instead. I handed them out at the ball park and came home with an almost completely empty bag!  Yay for biscotti in a funny cup. :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

If I Got to Choose....

There will come a day when my daughter is going to want to get married. Of course I don't get to choose but if I did I know several families with boys that I wouldn't mind arranging a marriage with. ;) We get along with the parents and know that the boys are being raised to be gentlemen and to know Jesus.
One of those families came to see Little Mans last baseball game a couple of weeks ago. Munchkin and their son get along really well and I got a photo that someone said will be in their wedding slideshow:

A couple of months ago Munchkin wanted to call her friend on the phone so they could discuss Lemony Snicket. We had gone to lunch after church a few days prior and they had talked about where they were in the Series of Unfortunate Events. Their phone call was so cute! It wasn't an "I am boy crazy and want to talk to a boy" conversation. It was a "we are reading the same thing and we can have an intelligent discussion about it" conversation. Obviously, I could only hear one end but my friend and I talked about it later and were amazed that the two of them had such an in depth conversation on the phone!

Anyway, I know I don't get to arrange a marriage or even a date but I hope that my sweet daughter will choose a well mannered, intelligent, creative, Jesus follower to marry some day! :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Zoo Fun with my New Lens

 We love going to the  Nashville Zoo! This week was fun because I got to use my new lens when we went. That gave me a chance to get up close and personal with some of the animals. This is only a small sampling of the photos that I got that day!
 Meerkat, dominant male. He was on lookout!
 Hello says the goat.
Love the clouded leopards. We also got the see the cubs in the Critter Encounter.

If you do not have a membership to the zoo, it is definitely worth it. My kiddos love it and we love that they are consistently adding new animals.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

NKOTBSB

 In 1988 I was 13 years old, in Jr. High and I was the target audience for New Kids on the Block. My friend Sharolyn mentioned that she slow danced to Please Don't Girl and I am sure that I did as well!



My friend Alli is 5 years younger than me. She and I met in our Newly and Nearly Wed Sunday school class at church and ht it off. We both play flute and we both sang in the choir. Her being 5 years younger is not really significant except that she really enjoyed Back Street Boys more than New Kids and I enjoyed New Kids more than Back Street Boys. BSB debut album came out in 1996...the year before I graduated from college. I was more into No Doubt, Sublime, Something Meaningless Under the Sun, Smashing Pumpkins, Oasis, etc.... In full disclosure..I thought Nick Carter was Nick Lachay until about halfway through the concert.

The best part of this is that she and I have been friends for around 9 years now. When she called several months ago to see if I wanted to go with her I jumped at the chance. Not just to see the concert but to hang out with my friend as well.

Ashlyne Huff opened the show last night. She was pretty good. It is always hard to be the opening act. The good sound and lights are saved for the band you came to see. Alli posted a status update that Ashlyne forgot her pants. The girl can dance and it was fun to see her in Nashville as she is from here.

The next opener was Jordin Sparks. I really liked seeing her live last night! I loved her on American Idol and I am glad she has done so well. She debuted her new single "I Am Woman" and of course the crowd seemed to love it.
When the lights went out in anticipation of NKOTBSB the crowd went wild! I am not sure I have ever heard that much screaming in one place. New Kids and Backstreet Boys took turns singing their songs. My favorites, of course, were Right Stuff, Please Don't Go Girl, and Hangin' Tough.
 One of the most exciting moments was when Jordan Knight headed into the crowd near us.
 Once the New Kids were back on stage the Back Street Boys came down the same staircases NKOTB had just been on. One lady jumped past security and grabbed one of the guys in a big hug...and wouldn't let go!
 My little sister Ally asked me to get a picture of AJ for her so I was excited when he was this close to where we were sitting and I could get a good photo! :)
 The finale included Hangin' Tough and Backstreets Back in kind of a West Side Story, Jets vs Sharks, faceoff. It was really well done!
This was such a fun night and I am so glad that I go to go with Alli! Now parking was a little crazy, although I think we only sat in the parking garage for about 20 minutes before hitting the street. Not terrible for a sold out show at the Bridgestone Arena! I wonder if my daughter will have fond memories of Justin Beiber when she is in her 30's and go to a reunion tour....hm...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Ball Field

Tonight we had 2 couples over for dinner. These are some sweet friends that we have known for at least the last 7 years who we do not get to see nearly enough. Little Man's last ball game was rescheduled for tonight because we have had so many rainouts. Our friends graciously said they would come for dinner anyway and then go to the ball game with us.

In the past we were part of a Dinner 8 group. 4 couples would get together and whoever was hosting would provide the main course. Everyone else brings the sides and dessert. Since we were hosting this time Baked Ziti was the main dish. Our sides were salad and garlic bread and dessert was chocolate oatmeal cookies with lemon glaze (yum!!). We ate a very speedy dinner and headed over to the ball park.

Now I have to say my one friend is not a fan of baseball anyway but is really not a fan of little league. You have heard my rants about parents who are insane and I totally get where she is coming from. So, I was really glad she agreed to come anyway.

Here is the funny part....our other friends that came brought their sweet baby girl. She just turned one on Sunday and is just so very very sweet. She was all smiley and happy and then all of a sudden she puked all over the bleachers, her mama and our friend that does not like baseball! Baby cried because all of us went "Oh Nooo!!!!" or "EEEWWWWW"! Apparently it was her first time throwing up and it was a doozie! It was also her first baseball game. Hopefully those two memories won't go hand in hand for the future. Munchkin and our friends son ran off to get paper towels to help clean the bleachers while mama and our other friend wiped the puke onto the ground.

Everyone took everything in stride and got everything cleaned up. Gotta love being a parent. You never know what will happen! It was definitely  memorable! And to make the evening complete, Little Man's team won their game!! :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cooking Club: Arrington Vineyard Edition

This last week was week 1 out of school for the summer. By the end of day one I was convinced I was going to send my daughter to sleepaway camp for the rest of the summer. We have worked things out though and she is going to try to choose to have a good attitude or spend a very large chunk of time alone in her room.

At Arrington Vineyard missing Kenna
I love nothing more than having my kiddos home for the summer but obviously it is an adjustment for all of us as I am the main one they get to spend time with. It is not teachers that they have to listen to and obey and me...just me and daddy when he gets home from work. I have several things I have been doing lately. One is Bunco (which I split the big win with my friend Amy last time) and the other is Cooking club. Now that may not seem like a lot but when I am teaching a couple of classes I feel kind of guilty for going off to do these extra activities. Not this week though.... :)

I
This month was Anne's month to host. Instead of heading to her house, and because it is summer, we decided to head to Arrington Vineyard for dinner. Anne brought the most delicious ingredients for sandwiches and even assembled them for us. They had Brie cheese, Black Forest Ham, Granny Smith apples and Apricot Preserves. She also brought a Greek salad. Knowing that I do not eat black olives she told me to pick them out :) so I did. More for Vanessa. 

                                     
Vanessa brought some delicious Dubliner Irish Cheddar cheese, crackers and some bread. 
Melissa brought a gorgeous fruit salad. Vanessa got a great photo so you will have to go see it on her site
I made Blueberry Brown Sugar Plain cake. This was actually my Tuesdays with Dorie recipe for last week. Cindy at Everyday Insanity chose this and has the recipe on her site. I did finally get it made and everyone really liked it. My kiddos got the leftovers and raved about it!



I know I have mentioned before that I am not much of a drinker. Alcohol gives me heart burn so for the most part I don't really drink. However, we were at a winery and they had a free wine tasting AND they had chocolate truffles to taste with the dessert wine! How could I say no to that. My favorite wine was the raspberry dessert wine. The last wine tasting I went to was at the Biltmore in Ashville, NC with my mom and dad. 

Not only did we get to have some lovely adult conversation we also were able to enjoy beautiful scenery and some mellow live music. We also go to to be a bit silly. :) I highly recommend finding some girlfriends with whom to have dinner and fun conversation. I feel blessed to know these ladies! 

Monday, June 06, 2011

Happy Birthday Little Man!

How is it possible that you were born 7 years ago? I cannot believe how fast the time is flying by! You have accomplished so much in this last year and I am so proud of you! You pulled 1 stick the entire time you were in Kindergarten and that was for talking in PE. You ended Kindergarten reading on level 6. Level 4 is the end of Kindergarten. You love to add and to sing. You were so sweet in your end of the year program singing "I want to be a part of it! First Grade, First Grade!".

You are playing baseball and even though it is hard and you tell us often that you don't want to go you try hard. In your last game you hit the ball and got all the way to third base!
You love to go to church, love to play with your cars and love to bring your little Bible in for us to read to you. You love to pick out books at the library and read them to yourself. You love Star Wars and Blues Clues. One of your favorite songs is Lead Me to the Water Now by Salient. You also love Justin "Beaver" and insist that we are saying his name wrong. You have lost 8 teeth (four of those since the beginning of the school year).

You are starting to exert your independence and that irritates your big sister to no end! She does not like it when you do not want to play a game by her rules. You are becoming more and more independent. For instance, we were out at Qdoba (which you despise, or did, up until last week) and you just got up to go refill your drink. We have never had to tell you to ask before because you have never had any inclination to go refill your drink alone. So we are learning right along with you in where your boundaries are.

You still fall asleep in the car every time we drive anywhere farther than 10 minutes away. At least you are not too cranky when you wake up again. You are still my sweet mellow child and all you have to do to melt my heart is look up at me with those big blue eyes and say "I love you mommy!".

I pray that you continue to be the sweet loving boy that you are, that you will continue to grow into an even more independent boy and that you will love God and your family. I pray for your first grade year that you will grow in leaps and bounds in all that you will be learning and that you will love to learn. I love you little one!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Death(Egg) Star Pinata

 I am trying to remember if my kids have had piñatas at all of their birthday parties. I don't think they have but we always like them. I know yesterday I was wondering if I was a geek but this might confirm it. Since I couldn't find a Death Star piñata I had to make one. Good thing Munchkin's girl scout troop made one a few weeks ago so I had a starting point in my mind.

                                     
 I used a punch balloon as a base and covered it in strips of newspaper. I mixed plain white glue with water, ran the newspaper strips through the glue and then wiped off all of the excess. (As a kid did you ever cover your hands in glue, wait for it to dry and then peel it off? This is an excellent opportunity for that little pass-time. :) )I did one layer of newspaper, let it dry and then did a second layer. I wanted it to be strong so each of the kids at the party will get at least one whack at it.
 I have a very specific memory of my mother making a piñata when I was in elementary school. I don't remember what the piñata was or even what color it turned out to be. I just remember it hanging in the laundry room in the basement of the house in Illinois and her covering it in newspaper. Help me out mom! Was that one for girl scouts too?

Once the newspapers dried I used a CD to mark the Superlaser Focus Lens, cut it out, flipped it over and reattached it with masking tape. I then took it outside for a coat of primer gray paint.
 At this point I realized the Death Star looked more like the Death Egg. Apparently the balloon shrunk or stretched or something.
 The next step was applying a strip of black duct tape for the Equatorial Trench. That was actually easier than I though it would be. I measured with a piece of string, placed the string along the duct tape and cut the tape to size.

Remember I mentioned yesterday my hubs and his attention to detail. I was worried that the Death(Egg) Star looked too much like the moon so he added some detailing with sidewalk chalk. :) Gotta love using supplies you have on hand.

To fill the Death Star I cut a small hole in the back near the top, filled and then closed the hole up with more masking tape. Little Man was pretty excited about the piñata and I can't wait for the kids to bust it open. I think we are going to use one of the light sabers we have on hand.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Storm Trooper Cake


So, my baby is going to be 7 on Monday. SEVEN!!! I cannot even understand where the time has gone. Several months ago we started thinking about party themes and Star Wars was at the top of the list. Two days ago he said he wanted Power Rangers....um no.

I am trying to decide if throwing him a Star Wars party qualifies me as a geek.....or if some of the preparations make me a geek. Last night I came home after winning some cash at Bunco to Return of the Jedi. Little Man was jumping up and down and was so excited with the battles happening on screen.

For any birthday party I think the cake is a big deal. Little Man and I went online to see what kind of Star Wars cakes we could find. He was very excited about the Storm Trooper cakes. So, I decided to make him a Storm Trooper cake. It was my first experience with carving pieces of the cake.

I made a 9 inch cake, an 8 inch cake, and a cake in the Pampered Chef Classic Batter Bowl. I used a recipe from the Hershey cookbook and made 1 and 1/2 of the recipe. I also made the Hershey chocolate frosting but forgot the vanilla. It tasted fine to me without it though so I think it will be OK. I also made Marshmallow Fondant. I used the same recipe last Halloween for some ghost cupcakes so I knew that would come together easily and would be tasty.

I am not sure if I have mentioned this before or not but I am what you might call a frustrated perfectionist. My husband on the other hand has an incredible eye for detail. I get to the point in a project where I think "eh, that is good enough" but he wants the details to be perfect. More than once this week I have said to him that I appreciate his eye for detail and how hard he works to make things perfect. The detailing on the Storm Trooper Cake is done in Black Sugar Paper from Joann's. He helped me get each of the pieces right and made sure they were in the correct places. He also helped me figure out the nose piece. I could see the cakes and the frosting in my head but I am so thankful for a partner that can help the project come to fruition!!



  
Once we got all of the pieces on we stepped back and were thrilled! For our very first carved/fondant covered cake I think it turned out pretty darn good!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Schools Out For Summer!


 As I type I am listening to Alice Cooper sing about no more teachers dirty looks. :) I for one can't believe in just a couple of hours I will have a first grader and a fourth grader! The end of the year has dragged a bit mostly because of the extra snow makeup days. Munchkin mentioned she was a little nervous about 4th grade. She was trying to reassure Little Man. He really wants to stay in Kindergarten and I think it is because he is afraid that first grade will be too hard. I think Munchkin telling him that she gets a little nervous at the end of every year helped calm him a little bit.






I love these comparison pictures to see how the kids have changed through the year. Both of my babies have gotten taller. Munchkin got a new backpack halfway through the year because the blue one couldn't handle 3rd grade books. Little Man is reading at level 4 which is end of Kindergarten. Munchkin is reading past 5th grade level. If I could I would have her tested to see where she actually is on the reading scale. We did an Internet test that said she is reading at a 10th grade level.

Little Man got several new teeth this year and has gotten so much more independent.
I love these two kids so much and feel so blessed to be their mom!! :) Here is to an amazing summer!