Thursday, July 31, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I went to the American Idol Live Concert last week with some great friends. I'm a recent convert to AI...this was just the second season I have watched. And I know what you're thinking. American Idol? Didn't most of those kids have to leave the show because America didn't like them so well? But seriously. It. Was. AWESOME. Elizabeth and I both agreed that about 8 of the contestants were significantly better performers than when they were on the show. Sorry Ramiele and Syesha. You still get voted off the island.
The show actually got off to a rocky start. A giant Pop-Tarts mascot came traipsing down the aisle and knocked the girl in front of me to the ground. Nice. But then...
CHEKEZIE. Totally love him. Great performances.
MICHAEL JOHNS. Seriously, how did he leave the show at #8? What a shame. This was my favorite performance, yes, even edging out my favorite David Cook. He rocked onto the stage with "We Will Rock You", drifted into "We are the Champions" and ended with "Dream On". If you can imagine it sounding better than when he performed it on the show (I know, it seems impossible), but it did.
KRISTI LEE COOK. A good performance. I thought she did much better than she ever did on the show.
CARLY SMITHSON. One of the standout performances of the night for me. Didn't like her that much on the show, but she rocked out to Evanescence "Wake Me Up Inside" and I loved it.
BROOKE WHITE. Three great performances by her. She and her piano came up on the stage from below playing "Let It Be" which was, of course, brilliant.
JASON CASTRO. Oh, my cute Jason. No Bob Marley, thank you producers. He did sing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" with his ukulele which made me very happy as that was one of my favorite moments from the show.
SYESHA. I have nothing good to say about her three songs. Or her outfit. Or her Diana Ross hair.
DAVID ARCHULETA. What is there to say about dear David. "He could sing the phone book and we would love it." Absolutely incredible performances. And still as cute as he was on the show. More than a little disappointed that he didn't sing "Imagine" though.
DAVID COOK. Rocked out. I'm afraid most of my energy was spent by the time he came out, but he delivered fabulous performances and was sweet and gracious. After his first number, a strip of fabric had ripped off of his pants, so he announced that he would sit down and fix it now. And he did. He brought out his little video camera and videoed the crowd with the preface, "I have to record this so I have proof in 10 years when no one believes me that I did this." His encore was "Billie Jean" which I enjoyed a million times more than I did when I saw it on the show. I'm still glad he won.
You can see ALL the pictures I took from the concert by clicking to this blog post and then following the link to the pictures (thanks Adam!).
Monday, July 28, 2008
We recently celebrated J's birthday, and what says 'happy birthday' better than a banana cream pie?? Isn't it beautiful? I love the toasty meringue peaks. Check here for the recipe.
I had a bit of cream and bananas that wouldn't fit in the crust, so I made some banana cream cups that turned out pretty well. Boo enjoyed them.
I have to admit I'm a little disappointed that my family isn't into the traditional birthday cake thing. I have been looking forward to using my creative genius to make some great birthday cakes. But J opted for the pie rather than the cake. I spent days searching for the perfect puppy cake for Brookie's birthday, but after finally finding it, it occurred to me that she doesn't even like cake. As fun as it is to make cakes, it's a little disappointing if no one wants to eat it. So I think I'll do a layered ice cream cake for Boo instead of the brilliant puppy cake.
I wonder if my mom felt the same way - once I got to be 12 or so, I never wanted a birthday cake either.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
A few months ago I read "A Girl Named Zippy" by Haven Kimmel on the recommendation of a friend, and loved it. I just finished the sequel, "She Got Up Off The Couch, And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana." I loved it even more than "Zippy." One of those books that I enjoyed so much I almost wanted to ration it out to make it last longer. It's a fun ramble through her childhood in small town Indiana. The author has a great, quirky sense of humor about herself, her past, and her friends and family. And, a bit of inspiration, as the title indicates.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I really enjoyed this walk through the past few decades of major Supreme Court decisions. It was fascinating to learn more about the individual justices - their personalities, their political and philosophical views, and the way they interact with each other and their clerks. It was a great crash course of the cases that have come through the courts since Rehnquist became Chief Justice. The author clearly is a huge fan of Sandra Day O'Connor and the book does have liberal slant. But a great,...more I really enjoyed this walk through the past few decades of major Supreme Court decisions. It was fascinating to learn more about the individual justices (their personalities, their political and philosophical views, and the way they interact with each other and their clerks) and how the Supreme Court actually functions. It was also a great look at some of the major cases that have come through the courts since Rehnquist became Chief Justice, for instance Casey v. Planned Parenthood and Bush v. Gore. The author clearly is a huge fan of Sandra Day O'Connor and he talks about some justices more than others. But I heard somewhere that only some of the justices spoke to him while he was researching for this book, so that could explain it - he just had more material for some than others.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
We've had a mild summer so far, but this week we hit the 90's with plenty of humidity to go around. Perfect time for a two year old air conditioning to break, no? We spent three days with no AC, and while it wasn't as bad as I imagined, it wasn't that fun either. There was a lot of celebrating when the repairman came with our new new fan motor this evening.
But we beat the heat, and Boo beat the diaper game. Wahoo! That girl has been accident-free during the day since Wednesday. Who knew dark chocolate M&M's were so motivating. Maybe a little too motivating...she asks to sit on the potty at least twice as often as she needs to, peeks in the empty potty, claps and says 'yay' and demands her treat.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
So while I am having second thoughts, Boo is doing great. She's only had one accident, and that happened outside, so cleanup was a breeze. The hard part comes with letting it out once she's sitting on the pot. But by late this morning she is even getting the hang of that. We'll see how the rest of the week progresses.
18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 cup sour cream at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
For the icing:
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 half-pints blueberries
3 half-pints raspberriesHeat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter and flour an 18 by 13 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed, until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and stir until smooth.
Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature.
For the icing, combine the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mixing just until smooth.
Spread three-fourths of the icing on the top of the cooled sheet cake. Outline the flag on the top of the cake with a toothpick. Fill the upper left corner with blueberries. Place 2 rows of raspberries across the top of the cake like a red stripe. Put the remaining icing in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe two rows of white stripes below the raspberries. Alternate rows of raspberries and icing until the flag is completed. Pipe stars on top of the blueberries.
I serve this cake right in the pan. If you want to turn it out onto a board before frosting, use parchment paper when you grease and flour the pan.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Last year the Fourth was miserably humid, but last night was perfect weather. My friend made this fabulous cake - it's a dense white cake with cream cheese frosting with raspberries and blueberries lined up to make an American flag. Beautiful and oh, so good.
Unfortunately, this is the only picture I got, with my camera phone. I remembered to bring the camera, just not the memory card.
After dinner and cake, we walked to the pond behind the house to set off fireworks. By this point, it was way past Boo 's bedtime, but she was hanging in there. There were about 12 older kids there (older than Boo), and when we got to the pond, all the kids huddled over the pond looking at the fish. For a really long time. Who needs fireworks when there are fish swimming around in a pond? Eventually the fireworks got going, and I wished I had brought my video camera. All 12 kids would gather around the firework as it was about to be lit, and then they stampeded back to the blanket to see it go off.
Boo was not as unaffected by the fireworks as she was last year. The first one went off and she about crawled inside my shirt. I think it was a combination of too tired, and unfamiliar. She and I walked back to the car to get her blanket, and it helped to have that around. I told her that the fireworks go "pop", and that made a huge difference in how she felt about them. She LOVES to say "POP"! By the end she was clapping and saying "yay, yay" after each firework. A friend asked me if we were going to see any more fireworks shows, and Boo popped her head up and shook it and said, "No! No! No! NO!"
While I had my arms full of Boo, J had his arms full of boys. Two little guys toddled over to him and sat on his lap for the fireworks show.
We're looking forward to the real fireworks show tomorrow night.