Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Daring Baker (July)

I made it! Ugh... moan, groan, whine, this challenge had me rethinking my decision to join the Daring Bakers. It is definitely more of a challenge that I thought it would be. But, my mom continues to push me through, and I guess I am glad she does. It is fun to learn new skills, and test my limits. As a mommy, I don't get enough of that (said with MUCH sarcasm!). On a side note, tomorrow is my honey and I's 4th anniversary... and he made the Daring Husband plunge, and also made a huge investment for our family! I will post more on that tomorrow, but these are the last DB pictures taken with a "Point and Shoot". WOO HOO!!!

This month the recipe was called: Filbert Gateau with Praline Butter cream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter. I had little french in High School to know that Gateau is cake! As I read the recipe, there were more french words. I printed out the recipe, and got to work... wait... the recipe is 8 PAGES!!!! I really needed to read this, and get an idea of what would be happening during this cake making ordeal. I read in the recipe, and a few times through out, "Do this quickly", "Do not let sit". YIKES! This is going to be tough. It was tough. I completed it with my mom on Sunday morning before church. Nothing like a little heated stress before sabbath worship.

The cake was a lemony cake, with a praline butter cream, and a bittersweet chocolate icing. I don't like bitter chocolate, so once again, I could not fully appreciate the flavor. I always have family be my testers, because a) they know the sweat and tears that go into the dish, and b) they will give me an honest opinion. Joel is BRUTALLY honest, so sometimes I hold back, and don't give him anything, because I don't want to know how bad it is! Alie said, "This is something that you would find in a super fancy bakery, and spend a lot of money on." Joel ate three pieces or so, so I know he liked it. I think it tasted better then it looked!

A stressful and time consuming job! I learned how to make a great butter cream, and will use that skill if anything!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Super Hero!

Joel and I got a sitter on Friday night, aka. the best babysitter on the planet. (No, seriously! If I were to hand pick the best, cutest, funest, 14 year old, she still would not be as good as "Hay J". It was a first for us. With our parents living so close, we are blessed with free babysitting, almost anytime we need it. This weekend, we thought we would give the grandparents the week off! Anyways, how many 14 year olds do you know that will send me a text, saying, "Hope you are having fun, we are!" She is so great! I even had to call her mom the next day, and tell her how much I LOVE HER!)
Anyways... so we went and saw Batman! Everybody seems to have to same opinion on the movie. It was great, erie, creepy, scary, lame story, long, blah blah. I think the Joker made the movie, and would see it again, only because he was so great.
But speaking of SUPERHEROS, Tearz made Superhero cookies with her boys, and they looked so fun, and yummy, I thought I would do it with my kid(s), and my adorable nephew! It was so fun, and they were yummy.

The trick to these brightly colored treats? Food color PASTE! I told the lady at the candy making store, "I want what ever it is that makes their mouths turn BLUE!" Thanks Tearz for your post, and for your friend who came up with the idea! GREAT and FUN!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

68 Days!

It is only 68 days till the 5K race! I was running today, and thought... I AM NOT READY for the race. So I am steppin up the training. I have been really promoting this event, because, I want friends to support ME! But, today I went on to see what the race supports (Maybe I should have done that earlier?) Anyways, it is perfect! It supports a couple of different benefits. The Ann Arbor track and cross country (Joel's stompin turf) and also the Special Olympics. I am really looking forward to it. It is open to all 11-80 yrs old. I have every intention of being beat by the 11yrs olds! But if I get beat by an 80 year old... oh how embarrassing! It is at Kensington Park, and if you are feeling really ambitious, they are hosting a 15K as well, and it has won all sorts of awards for their 15K path. Me, maybe next year. Leave me a post if you are going to run or show up to cheer! Here is the link to registrar! Here is the link to help you train. YOU CAN DOOO IT!

Hancock Experience

We went to the top of the John Hancock building.

Like 95 stories high! At the top there is this great observatory/lounge. So once again, we sat, talked, posed, and DIDN'T EAT! This is where I fell in love... with NIKON! We ordered fancy, fruity, ridiculously expensive drinks. It was our BIRTHDAY! Anyways, I played with the Nikon D80, and loved every minute of it. The other two were a little annoyed, wanting to drink their fruity yumminess, but I insisted that I take 250 pictures before any sips were taken. Then we toasted! and observed this AMAZING city. It has everything... beaches, parks, pools, libraries, hot, cold, I love it there.

Chicago Cool Down!

These next pictures are of the coolest way to cool down! The city has these two structures that are about 100 feet high, an 100 feet apart. They have live faces on them. Water pours from the top, and then shoots out the mouth of the live face. There is about an inch of water for lots of splish splashin. It is almost like the local swimming pool! We splashed around for a few minutes, then we really missed out babies, so we had to go do something else. It was so fun to see the kids go crazy though!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Jumpin Bean! (Mirror Style)

I got a belated birthday present! J. Urbin, photographed our Chicago trip. Her business has been extremely busy, and I couldn't wait any longer for pictures, so I FORCED her, against her better judgment to GIMME the pictures, SOC (Straight out of Camera). HOLY CRUMB, there were over 500 pics... we were only there for 2 days... she didn't even take out her camera till the 2nd day. I didn't think I would post anymore Chicago trip stuff, but it was so fun, and when I looked at the pics SOC, I was laughing OUT LOUD! I had to do Chicago posts! It was so fun, how could I not post about it? Years from now, I will look at these pics, and still laugh, and still remember the trip. So, here we go. Sorting through over 500 pics of a truly talented photographer, is a dream come true for me! Anyone ever want to hand over their full flash cards... I would love it!

Anyways, we did all the fun Chicago things in 2 days. River Tour, Hancock Building, Buckingham Fountain, City Water Park?, Magic Mirror Bean, and of course EATING!

My first plethora of pictures is "Magical Jumping Mirror Bean". It is this HUGH Bean in the middle of the city! We were there forever! Taking wild crazy photos, watching wild people, jumping, talking, NO EATING THOUGH! It was amazing how long we were there. What the heck!?

This is only on here, because look at the people in the background, they thought I was such a freak! Yeah, they're right!!!
Get ready for some seriously GRACEFUL JUMPIN BEANS!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Another way my church is seen...

The other day I was checking my email, and I saw this advertisement! I NEVER HAVE SEEN THIS BEFORE! Maybe a small, simple thing, but a first for me, and I was ECSTATIC!!! Anyone else?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Painting the Town RED!

I am trying to teach Nora her colors. She learned blue first, about a month ago. It must be her favorite color, becuase everything to her is "Blue". Last week we learned green, and sometimes if I ask her "What color?" It is first "Blue". Then I say, "No", she says, "Green". I was very proud that she learned those two colors as fast as she did. So I have been working on red. Not as easy! Everything is Blue... sometimes green! So today we cut into my people magazine, looking for red! We ate only RED popsicles. RED tomatoes, RED suckers, RED skittles, RED juice.

Me: "Nora, what color is mommies finger nails?"
Nora: "Blue"
Me: "NO"
Nora: "Green"
Me: "NO, Look, what color?"
Nora: "Blue"
Maybe more tomorrow!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Another "FANCY" Favorite

I just put "Moo" down for nap number two today! I should really be cleaning, and not blogging, but I was reminded of something, and had to post it. Another one of my favorites. Remember, whenever I think of something to go on my "Things I love" list, I have to try to stop whatever I am doing, and put it on. So I was reading her a nap time story, and remembered, I LOVE FANCY NANCY! There are three books by the author, Jane O'Connor. I think Nora loves them, but I know I LOVE THEM! They are total girl books, and so fun. The author and illustrator are both SUPER FANCY! If you ever plan to have a little girl in your life, or if you already have one, please read her these books! Nora is still too little for fancy tea parties, but she is learning quite nicely with Fancy Nancy. "The Posh Puppy" was our first book, and "Bonjour, Butterfly" was the second. So cute, So fun, and SOOOOO FANCY!

Thursday, July 17, 2008


In my very own yard! I wasn't even looking!!!

Shopping, talking, posing!!!

Can you believe that I have been posting so often? I am averaging one post per day! WOO HOO!!! I think because Joel has been super busy, and hasn't been home since Saturday. Tomorrow we are reuniting with him at the Ann Arbor Art Fair. Always a fun freaky place to be!

So, today while Nora and I were doing some grocery shopping, I was talking to "Dada" on the phone, and "Nona" wanted to say "HI" too. It was so funny! He was talking... she was saying, "Yeah... yeah... yeah...". It was a great distraction for her while I was able to get some shopping done. This went on for about 5 minutes. I had no idea what they were talking about. Then I remembered I had my camera in my purse. So, I snapped a picture, then started to record it. She saw the camera in her face, and said, "CHEESE!". It was truly a classical moment. Then I ran out of memory. So I switched memory cards, and then she was all done. So here is what I got. Short, but funny! I can't stop watching them. My little girl is such the socialite! Hmmm? Maybe I shouldn't be proud of that?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer Lovin!

The story on the allergy outbreak, has been great! I have been able to play outside, and even breathe and see while doing it! Which leads me to believe, maybe it was all in my head? I have been getting my allergy shot regularly, but they specifically told me, that it would not help my allergies for the first 40 treatments. I would like to think it was all in my head, but that doesn't explain why my face looked like it was ready to explode, and why I broke out, and why this happened...

Either way, I just keep pluggin along with getting my shot every week, and in the mean time, play outside as much as I can with Nora. She loves being in the water. When she plays in her sprinkler, she makes faces that I have never seen her make before. It is hystarical, but a treasured moment. The young life she has, makes me really appreciate the newness, and freshness life offers. I love exposing her to new things, but then I realize, that the next time she sees it, it won't be as exciting. So as she gets older every day, I grow more and more appreciative of her example of fun, and happieness! I think all moms should take a moment, and let the load of laundry go a little longer, and just have fun. The amount of time that they are kids, it a lot shorter then the amount of time they are adults.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Great Geeky Sleeky Hair Care!

I know that if anyone reads this, they are going to think I am a total geek! Heck, even I think I am a HUGE GEEK!!! Whatever! I don't care! Sometimes I see things on Blogs that say, "Things I love" or "My favorite things". Everyone knows how bad I want to "fit in" in the blogging community, so here is my attempt. On occasion, I am sitting in a coffee shop, eating a scone, and I think... "I love this! This scone would go on the "Things I Love" list." Then I sit down to make a list, and all I can come up with is that dang orange scone! (From Panera Bread by the way!) I am starting my own thing, and I am telling you right NOW, I am a Freakin' GEEK! GET OVER IT!

So, here is my first item on my posts of things I love...

This is my favorite hair care product ever! I have tried A LOT of products that range in price from $.98/bottle to $35.00/bottle (I am so glad Joel doesn't ever read my blog!) This is the only product that makes my HAIR SOOOOO Happy!!! The first time I tried it was two weeks ago. My AWESOMEST sister-in-law Alie, got this set for me for my birthday. Honestly, I didn't know if I should be offended or not. Then she told me what a great thing it was, and everyone in her family uses it, and I will love it. I said, sure, great, thanks... on with life... So a few days later, I saw it sitting there on the bathroom shelf, waiting till the current bottle of same old, same old poo was all gone. Joel didn't like the current product because it smelled too "girly", so he put it in the shower to try out. He probably used it on his legs, and arms too, such a GUY! Then I tried it! I have been in love ever since! Instead of having to blow dry my hair right when I get out of the shower, I can let it air dry, and my hair dries so soft, straight, and silky smooth! I have never had that before! It is great! I am not sure where she got it, so as my personal shopper, Alie, would you share the secret? And the next time you are in the market for a new and FABulous poo, give it a try. Your hair will thank you!

"Taste" Chicago!

Every year for two weeks the city hosts a Festival just about FOOD!!!! I desperately try to save up the calories for that day I get to visit. It is great for those of us who love food, but ya gotta love lots of people as well! Of course Chicago is known for the pizza, blues, hot dogs, baseball, ect. But, The Taste of Chicago has hundreds of local restaurants all in 5 city blocks! The admission is free, but you pay $8.00 for 12 tickets. It is located in Grant Park which is also in the Financial District. Besides the food being the best, the people watching is great too. You see all walks of life, business men on lunch break, SAHM's, nannies, MISSIONARIES!!!, old, young, BIG, and little! Each restaurant has a "Sample Menu" where you can purchase a taste of something ranging from 2-10 tickets! Mostly you just get a "Taste" of something, but you can also get a HUGE something. Here are some pics of the fabulous food. I may need a TUMS after the post! It gives me heartburn just by looking at this food!!!!

Chicago does GUACAMOLE!

Chicago does frozen chocolate bananas!

Chicago does Smokin BBQ Ribs!

Chicago does Pad Thai! A couple of different ways actually!

Sittin, restin, pickin, poppin Tums!

I have been waiting for pictures from my girls, so I could post some on here, and I can't wait any longer! You are BOTH in big trouble! This post is super lame! But it is in my drafts box, and screwing up the chi in my life!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

First Daring Baker Challenge (June)

Super fun for me!!!! I have been following a few blogs of cooks, chefs, and bakers, and I notice one common denominator...

There is a forum that is known throughout the world world amongst bakers, who bake the same recipe every month. They then post their results on their blog. This month was my first time, and well, I have been a little behind. Better late then never. After today, I will be working on July's Challenge!!!

For my first challenge, I was really challenged. When I first learned of the Daring Bakers, the recipes I saw seemed pretty self explanatory. Then I got the instructions for my first challenge, and I was more then perplexed! Of course! Maybe that is why it too so long for me to complete it. I was beginning to think, maybe I am not "all that" of a baker. Maybe I am in way over my head. My mom is a great cook. She has a catering business, and she always makes the food look fabulous! So together I knew we could, "Make it work". Thanks Tim Gunn!!!

This month they called for all Daring Bakers to make a Danish Braid. The filling was baked apples, or your choice. I chose Raspberry Cream Cheese. The technique is a lot of folding, rolling, folding, and rolling some more. That is how danishes get that flaky layerey effect.

I took pictures through out the whole process. I noticed some D.B. ers do just the final product, and some from start to finish. This month I will try it the hard way, and next month we'll see if I want to go the easy route. I also just started using Photoshop, why? Don't ask me! I regret using it so soon, I have NO IDEA what I am doing. I thought, "Play around with it... can't be that hard..." It is completely GREEK! Maybe after a few forums and tutorials, it will be better next month. I may have screwed up the pics even more. YIKES! Too many new things in my life! Must stop!!!

I really, 100%, want to hear the criticism of these pics. I NEED to hear it! PLEASE, don't make me beg. I am a sponge. Will listen to anything! Please post the comments, so I can reference back. Thanks and here it is....

So once you have to dough made, it has to be measured out. Since I can't eyeball things AT ALL, I used painters tape, and a tape measure. Roll out the dough,

After you have the dough measured out, you spread a layer of a butter spread over 2/3 of the dough.

Then you fold the dough over the butter, and make a poke! That means 1 fold! Then you chill it, roll it, fold it, poke it, and repeat 4 TIMES!!!

Once the dough has been rolled and folded a billion times, then you are ready to braid the bread. Each side has to have 5inch long cuts, 1 inch apart. Hence the tape measure!
Once the cuts have been made, you are ready to add the filling. This is where you get creative. Or in my case... add what you have already in the pantry. Raspberry jam, and cream cheese. I am so glad for food storage!

Then just start braiding! It was so fun, remember when you were like 7 and loved to braid your dolls hair... Memories!!! I love it!

Once the braid it complete, it must rest for 2 hours. Then it is ready to go in the oven. It bakes for 30 minutes, and honestly, you can't screw this up! It comes out beautiful. If you know me, and you know my mom, you know, she is the DOILY QUEEN! Feast your eyes on this...

This was the perfect Sunday morning treat. The reviews on the taste were... mixed. Joel doesn't like cream cheese, so he said, "Errr". My parents on the other hand thought it was great. I thought there was a weird taste, which I know now is the cardamom. I am not a fan of the spice, but I didn't know that before baking this. Other then that, I thought it tasted alright. I will definitely be baking more Danish Braid in the future. I am thinking chocolate though!

That is my debut of The Daring Bakers!!!!