Monday, February 22, 2010

Manic Monday

This should be hanging in the waiting room at all of the American Idol auditions.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Where's a Hammer When You Need It

I still haven't watched LOST. That just goes to show you how much I LOVE the Olympics. I've never missed an episode of LOST since it started 6 years ago!!! Anyway, I do have another cute kid story....which is probably more interesting to all of you anyway.

On the way home from church.....

Kinley: Ava's little brover (brother) had a hammer and he turned around and hitted me with it right on the head and I cried.

Brian: Well I'm sure it was an accident. Did you hit him back?

Kinley: No.

Brian: Good.

Kinley: I didn't have a hammer.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Sorry LOST. I know this is your day. The day I gush about the intricacies of your writing and the depth of your intrigue. But the Olympics are on and they take precedence. After all they are only on tv for two weeks every two years. I still love you but I will have to watch you online tonight (while waiting for my DVR to get far enough ahead in the Olympics that I don't have to watch commercials). So maybe tomorrow there will be a review posted here. Maybe not.

Sorry blog. I know I should post on you everyday. I was, and then.....FACEBOOK. It is so easy to just write a little one liner about the funny, odd, disgusting or cute things that happen during my day. I can whip out a status in just a few seconds, whereas it takes up to 10 minutes to post the same information here on you, blog. I recognize however, that you are permanent. You are a record of my life as a stay-at-home-mom (which may be over sooner rather than later) and I can return to your catalog of my life any time. Facebook is a passing flash, lost forever after a few weeks. So I will try to remember to put all my precious information right here where it belongs as well as on my Facebook status, and if it bores my readers who are also my "friends" then so be it.

With that in mind: Here is Kinley's take on our recent bout of snowy weather: "Some people don't like cold snow but lotta people like rainbows and unicorns."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Day Yumminess

We do Valentines Day up big at our house. I don't why, but we always have. I always make the kids handcrafted cards and they get a small gift and some candy. (In the case of the boys, they get Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, which gives us days of amusement...or disgust depending which flavor you get.) Our menu always consists of heart-shaped pancakes and strawberry milk. Sometimes I add chocolate covered strawberries or homemade truffles as well.

This year Cainan wanted to try making some Jell-O hearts that he saw on the cover of Family Fun magazine. They looked simple enough so I told him we could give it a try.
They were even easier than I had imagined, AND they turned out exactly like the picture on the magazine, AND they tasted really good. A success all around! So I thought I'd share the recipe with all of you that don't subscribe to Family Fun. I know Valentine's Day is over but you can make these in any color and any shape you want and use them for other parties and events.

Layered Jell-O Hearts (Source: Family Fun Magazine)


3 (3 oz) pkgs. red Jell-O
2 (1/4 oz) envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk


Dissolve one package red Jell-O in 3/4 cup boiling water. Add 3/4 cup cold water. Pour into a 13x9 pan. Refrigerate 1 hour or until set.

Stir together 1/2 cup boiling water and condensed milk. In a separate bowl, dissolve all the unflavored gelatin in 1/2 cup cold water for 1 to 2 minutes. Thoroughly mix in 3/4 cup boiling water, then combine this mixture with the condensed milk and let it cool at room temperature. Add half the mixture to the pan of red gelatin, pouring it over a spatula to slow the stream, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Repeat to alternate layers, ending with red Jell-O on top, chilling each layer for 20 minutes. (Do not wait much longer than 20 minutes because the condensed milk mixture will start to set up even on the counter top.)

Create individual servings with a cookie cutter.
This post is linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays and Tuesdays at the Table.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Manic Monday

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Games of the Winter Olympiad

Did you see that counter on the right of the screen? You know, the one that's been there since the day the Summer Olympics ended two years ago. It now shows less than 24 hours until the start of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. I'm so excited!!!

I feel like this Olympics has gotten very little hype and publicity until just this week. I find that very disappointing but probably a sad indicator of the fact that we don't have a whole lot to be excited about in this country. Our medal hopes aren't real high this year, unfortunately. But I can't throw stones. My blog has been silent on the subject as well. But never fear, I have all of your 2010 Olympic predictions for you today....just in time.

I predict......

....that not a single American male wearing skis on his feet will medal. Our best hopes are Patrick Deneen in Freestyle Skiing and Bode Miller in the Downhill Combined. Bode is certain choke and cause a media circus in the process, that's just how he roles. Deneen can kill the moguls but I don't know if he can take out the awesome Aussie Dale Begg-Smith.

I thought we had a great chance of capturing gold in the new sport of Skicross until I saw Darron Rhalves carried off the course on a stretcher two weeks ago at the XGames in Aspen. I don't think he'll be up to snuff enough to contend.

I don't think we have any chance of beating the Nordic countries in Ski Jumping, Biathlon, or Cross Country Skiing. But that doesn't mean they won't be exciting to watch....well as exciting as watching men ski for 3 hours with frozen snot hanging from their chins can be. Remember Ole Einar Bjorndalen from Norway? He is the most dominant Biathlete in recent history. He is absolutely amazing and will likely win the gold for the third time in a row. I don't know much about Nordic Combined, since it is never televised outside of the Olympics, but I do know that it is a team event that is a combination of ski jumping and relay cross country skiing. Sports Illustrated says that the US has a good team this year and may medal in this event for the first time ever, but it will be a hard podium to top, I'm sure.

Pop off those skis and strap in to a snowboard though and US guys have a much better chance. Of course Shawn White is the favorite in the Halfpipe event but Americans Scotty Lago and Louie Vito may be on the podium with him. In the hazardous sport of Snowboardcross there are two very dominant guys wearing the red, white and blue: Nate Holland and Graham Watanabe.

On skates our men may bring home a little hardware. I'm really pulling for Evan Lysacek and Jeremy Abbott in singles figure skating (thank goodness Johnny Weir won't be an issue), but the real star of that show will be Evgeni Plushenko (Russia) who won in Torino, retired for three years and is now back, supposedly at the top of his game again. We'll see. For the first time in years, and I mean a lot of years, the US could have two, count 'em two, medals in Ice Dancing. Both Belbin and Agosto and Davis and White have won numerous competitions over the last several months and they are favorites to win in Vancouver as well.

In Speed Skating you can bet that Anton Apolo Ohno will be burning up the track, but he'll have a hard time getting past the always dominant South Koreans for the gold. As much as I hate to admit it the anti-establishment, anti-social, anti-authority figure of any kind distance skater Shani Davis will probably end up with a medal or two as well. I won't be cheering though. Hockey players wear skates but they just can't compete with the hometown Canadian boys (or the Russians or Czech teams).

Unfortunately we probably won't be able to hang with the big boys in 2 man bobsled, luge or skeleton either. Our only real chance for a medal on the sleds will be with driver Steve Holcomb leading our 4 man bobsled team. If he brings home the gold it will be the first time since 1948. We really need to break that losing streak!!

So, what about the women? Well, I had high hopes but they are growing slimmer every minute that passes and every news story that comes out. Lindsey Vonn was supposed to be the gold medal winner in two out of five Alpine Skiing events. Now she supposedly has a huge bruise on her shin that makes it too painful to even put on ski boots, let alone ski. I say supposedly because the day before this news broke I read two different articles about Vonn that portrayed her as the toughest and strongest and most physically fit woman on any country.

She trains more and trains harder than anyone else. They actually showed pictures of her standing on two jump ropes that were hanging four feet off the ground, simulating balancing on skis for 2 minutes while she visualizes the course at Whistler. Remember how she nearly broke her back in training in Torino and still got up to ski (with poor results, but still a valiant effort) the next day? I have a feeling that while she is truly bruised and battered she is mostly a) taking this opportunity to psyche out the competition and b) get more media attention now, and after she wins a couple of medals. (Just think of the drama that story would make. After all, she is the only really marketable athlete at these games. If she wins gold look for her to be the Michael Phelps of Vancouver.)

Maybe all of this is wishful thinking on my part, but women's skiing has had such a pitiful showing in the last couple of Olympics that I'm hoping Lindsey can help us redeem ourselves to some degree. If she can't at least we've got three great moguls skiers that might make it to the medal stand. Be watching for Heather McPhie, Hannah Kearney and Shannon Bahrke.

Once again we seem to be stronger on snowboards than on skis. Kelly Clark, Gretchen Bleiler and Lindsey Jacobellis all have good chances of winning top spot....if Jacobellis can keep her ego in check and her board on the snow this time. (Her little stunt in Torino is still one of the worst moments in Olympic history in my opinion and a sad testimonial to the mindset of Olympic athletes since "professional" (paid and sponsored athletes) were allowed to compete.)

As with the men, the Nordic women will most likely continue to dominate Cross Country Skiing and Biathlon. But unlike the male Americans, our women's hockey team is supposedly very talented again this year and is predicted to meet up with the Canadians in the gold medal game. Sadly, we have no real contenders in women's figure skating or the pairs competition. Gone are the days of Michelle Kwan and Kristi Yamaguchi. Maybe 2014 will hold some special promise for us.

In speed skating the Chinese and Canadians will probably dominate all of the medal podiums and our women will be left in their proverbial dust. The only name I have heard mentioned in American women's speed skating is Katherine Ruetter. Of course speed skating is famous for spills, chills, disqualifications and anything can happen. Don't blink, or you'll miss it.

On the sleds our women have a couple of slim hopes for medals. The driver of our two woman bobsled team won silver in Torino, but she has a different partner this year. We'll see how they do together. And Sports Illustrated predicts that Erin Hamlin has a good chance for at least Bronze in the singles luge. Skeleton will likely elude us and women are not allowed to compete in Nordic Combined or Ski Jumping.

So that's about it. Oh yeah, except for my new favorite Olympic sport. As a kid I always had Olympic dreams. First it was gymnastics and then figure skating, but by the time I got really interested in the Olympics (7 or 8 years old) I was already too old to get started in a sport and train long enough to be competitive on the Olympic level. Its sad to be too old to pursue your dreams when you haven't even hit double digits yet. But 8 years ago I fell in love with a new Olympic sport. One that I could still compete in today if 1) I trained every day for the next 4 years, 2) I moved to Minnesota and 3) I had even ever played it or watched a match in real life.

The sport? Curling. I love it. It is so competitive and interesting. It always comes down to millimeters on the final throw. The athletes are incredibly intense and yet.....OLD. They are like 40!!! It's crazy. If you haven't watched it before you really should. (It is usually on all night long on MSNBC or CNBC.) It is easy to learn and the skill and strategy are very impressive. The US probably won't have a chance at a medal but our neighbors to the north, the Canadians should be right up there at the top. And here is some behind the scenes drama for you. A Canadian curler went to China and got a women's team together. This will be their first Olympics but they are already so good that they will likely threaten the Canadian women for the gold.

Well, that's the summary. By all means watch the always entertaining, if rather long-winded, opening ceremonies. Admire the Canadian fashions (which are always the best at the games) and listen to the inspiring stories of the flag bearers. Rock out to Nickleback and stare in suspense as the lighter of the flame is revealed (my bet is on Wayne Gretzky). But don't stop there. Watch the events....even the obscure ones. (Trust me, biathlon will amaze you. You've never seen marksmen like this.) Cheer for the underdogs, the favorites, the lone skier from Ghana, whoever you like. Join with the world and celebrate athleticism, dedication and, truth be told, obsession. Enjoy this incredible festival of sports.

I'll be watching every second of coverage and sitting on the edge of my seat for most of the next two weeks. I'll be a sucker for all of the sad underdog stories and I'll be laughing at the wacky stuff Mary Carillo digs up. I'll be drooling over Bob Costas and rolling my eyes at Bode Miller and the Russian ice dancers (just on principle). We'll be humming the theme song all day long and letting Ryker stay up late every night just to watch "one more race".

It's the Olympics! It's only here every 2 years and we wouldn't miss it for the world.

P.S. The big story of course will also be the weather. Vancouver has a climate similar to Seattle. Yeah. Rain, rain, fog and more rain. It's altitude and proximity to the Canadian Rockies provide some nice snow, usually. This year it is warm, which is very bad for skiing in particular. Officials are actually hauling in snow from nearby mountains and dumping it on the slopes necessary for the competition. There isn't even a dusting of snow in the Olympic village or around the media center. On the Today show this morning, live in Vancouver, the reporters were sitting outside in long sleeved sweaters, no coats, hats or scarves in sight. According to reports I've read Vancouver was already the warmest place the Winter Olympics have ever been held and they are currently experiencing the warmest winter ever on record in British Columbia. That is not good. Not good at all.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What Kate Does

My observations on last night's episode of LOST:

I think we all know how Kate plans to "make Sawyer stay" in the other Other's compound.....

Wow, housing Jacob's spirit is not an easy job. Ouch!

So far it appears as if everything that happened on the island will now happen in a similar way in this alternate universe where they are all living now that the plane didn't crash. Claire won't give up her baby and Ethan will be her obstetrician. Kate will run around with a gun. I assume Artz will soon die in a fiery crash of some kind.

Whoa....Claire has really gone downhill since last we saw her.


Now that Jack doesn't work for Dharma anymore can he get rid of that ridiculous side part in his hair? Please!!!!

Best line of the night:

Hurley, "You're not a zombie, right?"

Next week:

I'm happy to see that we will be seeing more of Locke. Can't wait to hear his "explanation".

Monday, February 8, 2010

Moist and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

These are the absolute BEST peanut butter cookies I have ever eaten. They are very moist and chewy and not excessively peanut buttery. I made them for my LOST party, froze them for two days, let them thaw on the 900 mile trip cross country, and served them from a suitcase and they were still super delicious. They also looked spectacular.For years I have heard that you should scoop your cookies with an ice cream scoop to make them all look uniform like professionally manufactured cookies, but I had never really tried it. First of all, I've never cared much about what my cookies looked like and secondly who wants people to confuse your homemade goodness for some preservative laden store bought cookie?

But since it was for a party I decided to try the cookie scoop thing. It was wonderful. Every yummy cookie was a feast for the eyes. Perfectly round and sized exactly like his neighbors. I'm not saying I'll give up the two spoon scrape off method just yet but I'll definitely use the cookie scoop again. Especially if I really need to impress someone. :)

Peanut Butter Cookies (Source: King Arthur Flour Blog)

1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup (7 1/2 ounces) light or dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup (4 3/4 ounces) peanut butter, creamy or chunky
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream the butter until it's light and fluffy. Add the sugar, salt and egg, and beat until fluffy. Add the peanut butter, butter-vanilla and baking soda, and beat until well-blended. Stir in the flour, mixing slowly until the dough is cohesive.

Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased or parchment-lined cookie sheets; flatten the balls slightly. Bake the cookies in a preheated 375°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes; the cookies will be soft, but will become chewy as they cool. Be careful not to overbake them; they burn easily. Remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool on a rack.

Manic Monday

I love the Bittersweets that Despair, Inc offers every Valentine's Day. Unfortunately (?) I don't dislike anyone enough to give them to....well almost no one.
They say things like "Infinite Agony", "Let's Fight", "Luv 2 Bug U" and Parole is up". Isn't that hilarious?

Friday, February 5, 2010

LOST in Colorado

I attended the most awesome LOST party ever on Tuesday Colorado! Our best LOST-watching buddies moved there 18 months ago. They have continued to host the same amazing LOST viewing parties that they did when they lived here but we haven't been able to attend...for obvious reasons.

But this is it. The final season. The beginning of the end. We had to go. So we acted like crazy college kids and took off on a road trip. We drove 13 hours straight through the night, stayed for two days, attended the party and then drove 13 hours straight through back home. I have to say that it was COMPLETELY WORTH IT.

Here are the 3 keys to having a great LOST party:

#1: The Atmosphere.

Last year the party theme was "Dharma". They all ate Dharma food and wore Dharma jumpsuits and labeled everything as if it were one of the Dharma stations on the island. This year the theme was Oceanic Flight 815. So an airport and plane crash theme ruled the day.

Piles of luggage (debris) adorned the front yard and inside the house.

We were greeted at the front door by an Oceanic stewardess and then ushered in to the "airport" where we had to present our boarding passes (invitations) and get our pictures taken in front of the Arrivals/Departures board (which unfortunately does not show up in this picture.)

#2: The Food.

You can make almost any food fit with the LOST theme if you give it a Lostie name. Serve pulled pork and call it Locke's Wild Boar, etc. That's what I did with the cookies I brought for the party. I made plain sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies and chocolate cutout cookies, printed out some signs to tie them to the show and served them out of a suitcase. The fish biscuits seemed to be a big hit.

One ambitious baker colored her whipped cream pie topping blue and her husband made a toothpick raft to "float" on top of the "water". Another party-goer made a lovely chocolate cake with a plane crash right on top.

#3: The Guests

Of course the best part of any party is the people. For this year's theme we were all asked to dress as someone who was on the original flight 815. People really got in to their costumes. Can you identify these characters?
From left to right they are: Claire, John Locke (remember he was still in a wheelchair on the plane), Jack (post crash), Kate and Libby.

I thought Charlie looked the most authentic of anyone that was there.
This was the whole crew. Can you spot Hurley and Sawyer?
The costume that stole the show was Christian Shepherd. The doorbell rang and we saw our stewardess open the door to reveal Christian's dead body laying on the front porch, white shoes and all. I almost fell over laughing.Look, he remembered his boarding pass, though. Ha Ha Ha!
Watching the 3 hours worth of episodes that night with a huge group of Losties was SOOOO fun. Everyone groaned when new Others were discovered in the Temple and everybody laughed when Hurley told Jacob he was sorry he got killed. We all understood the irony of Sawyer waking up in the custody of yet more Others and Charlie's line "I was supposed to die." It was great to sit around and discuss theories after the show and speculate about the future episodes.

When the party started I knew our hosts, my husband and two other people. By the end of the night I had had long involved conversations with 8 different people about good and evil, smoke monsters, slave ships, nosebleeds and time travel. Where else would that happen?

You've got 16 weeks to plan your finale party. Get to work!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

LOST: The Final Season

It's that time again. The greatest television drama ever written is back for its final season. That means I'll be watching with tense shoulders and sweaty palms every Tuesday night and spouting my theories and observations here every Wednesday morning.

This week I'm a little behind because I DROVE 946 MILES TO COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO (AND BACK) FOR A LOST PREMIER PARTY and I just got home and had time to blog about it. More about the party tomorrow but for now here are my thoughts on the show.

Jacob now inhabits Sayid's body.

Smoke Monster/Man in Black inhabits Locke's body.

Ben has no idea what is going on and is utterly confused and demoralized.....and that makes me SO happy.

Juliette really is dead.

My Predictions:

In the end time will go back to a point before flight 815 crashed and everything will be reset. The inhabitants of the island will be able to choose what point in time they want to return to. Each will be able to correct, or avoid making their biggest mistakes. (The current situation with the plane landing in LAX may be a flashforward to that time instead of a co-existing alternate reality.)

Ilana is going to play a big role this is Claire.

Richard was one of the slave rowers on the Black Rock (hence the "nice to see you without your chains" comment by Smoke Man).

Sawyer is not going to be nice anymore.

Sawyer and Juliette will meet up for coffee and "go Dutch". (Remember, nothing is ever said on this show that doesn't have meaning.)

That's all I've got for now. Of course all of this will change next week when half of what I thought is blown out of the water by new information, but that's just the way it goes. Tomorrow I'll post pics of our Flight 815 LOST Premier Party. You'll all be jealous. Just wait and see.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Manic Monday