Sunday, July 19, 2009

Witches and Weirdness

Today at church, I was wearing these shoes (only they were Navy blue, if you really wanted to know):

The Boyfriend made a comment about the pointiness of the toes and the spiked heels, saying that I was going to scare the 4-year-olds that I was to teach for my mom. He said that they reminded him of the movie "The Witches." We both laughed about how that movie was really creepy when we were young, though I never made the same connection with the shoes. I actually thought no one would say anything about the shoes because my brother is gone and he's the only one who ever says anything about my pointy shoes. He thinks they're "intimidating."

After talking about the movie, it reminded me of a story that I'd read as a little girl and when I described it to him, he'd never heard it. I told him I was going to find it online and did. There is a disturbing reading of it with pictures on YouTube, but I refuse to post the link because of the comments made on it. If you want to find it, that's on you. I'm not advocating the comments, only the creepiness of the voice that compliments the story itself so well.

The Green Ribbon by Alvin Schwartz
Once there was a girl named Jenny.
She was like all the other girls, except for one thing. She always wore a green ribbon around her neck.
There was a boy named Alfred in her class. Alfred liked Jenny, and Jenny liked Alfred.
One day he asked her, "Why do you wear that ribbon all the time?"
"I cannot tell you," said Jenny.
But Alfred kept asking, "Why do you wear it?" And Jenny would say, "It is not important."
Jenny and Alfred grew up and fell in love.
One day they got married. After their wedding, Alfred said, "Not that we are married, you must tell me about the green ribbon."
"You still must wait," said Jenny. "I will tell you when the right time comes."
Years passed. Alfred and Jenny grew old.
One day Jenny became very sick. The doctor told her she was dying.
Jenny called Alfred to her side. "Alfred," she said. "Now I can tell you about the green ribbon. Untie it and you will see why I could not tell you before."
Slowly and carefully, Alfred untied the ribbon and Jenny's head fell off.

What would possess someone to write such a story, for children no less, I'll never know. It certainly left an impression on me, as it's a story that has always stuck with me. Unfortunately. And now it's probably going to stick with you, too! Sorry about that... Sort of.

What was really funny, though, was that the only little girl that I had in my class said "You have witch shoes on!" Within about three minutes of me sitting down next to her. Thankfully, she wasn't afraid of them. In fact, she told me that her mom has witch shoes, too. You've got to love the honesty of a 4-year-old.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Just My Luck

I am a creature of habit. I do the same things, in the same order, day in and day out. It mostly stems from my OCD. Once I figure out the most efficient way for me to do something, I stick to it. And I am ALWAYS trying to figure out the most efficient way to do something.

I also like to use the same products. It annoys me a bit when they change the look or color scheme on my shampoo bottle between purchases. I feel like I’m new standing there in the aisle looking at every bottle like I’ve never purchased this particular product before. “First times” are also somewhat of an issue for me. I’m much better when I know what to expect. Although I’m learning to fly by the seat of my pants more and feel like I’m handling it quite well.

I have a certain product that I’ve come to enjoy from Bath & Body Works and I am starting to run low, so naturally I dropped by during lunch today to re-stock. Much to my dismay, the sales girl told me that they discontinued the product. I’m devastated. The girl that checked me out was kind enough to point out that there would be an 800 number at the top of my receipt and I could call to express my love for the product and there’s a chance that they might bring it back. I thought, that could be a good start.

When I got back to work, I was talking to a co-worker who worked at B&BW for a little while and she said that they keep these “discontinued” products in a warehouse and you can order them over the phone. Imagine my excitement! So I called and talked to a really nice girl who tried her best to help out. Unfortunately, the product wasn’t coming up in her system, but she said she’d send me a list of outlet stores that might carry it; she just didn’t have a product listing for them. So when I get said list, I might be calling all over the country to find this product.

Rest assured that if someone tells me that they have this item, I’ll be buying at least a half dozen. And I really would’ve appreciated them putting them on sale or given some sort of warning that they were going to take it out of the store. I feel like stores should provide their customers with this valuable piece of information so that they’re prepared. I would’ve gone to every B&BW that I could think of and cleaned them out!

I really hope I find my needle in the haystack, but for now, I’m using sparingly and testing replacements.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I'm Going to Make Some Man Really Fat One Day...

After all that searching for the Raspberry-Limeade Cake, there was just no way that I could not make it, especially since I had a great deal of time on my hands. So while my parents painted the outside of their house, I slaved away over every kitchen appliance known to man.

This cake will definitely not be going into the regular rotation, as it took the better part of five hours to make. I certainly performed functions that I had never and don't normally when baking and I've come to realize that while I do enjoy baking, I enjoy baking things that are relatively easy to make. For example: I love the carrot cake recipe that I have and if I ask anyone who's ever tasted it what kind of cake I should make, that's generally the first thing out of their mouth. The problem is that it takes a really long time due to the chopping of carrots, the mixing of ingredients themselves, the bake and cooling time, and then (the best part) icing it. I usually make it over three days because it's almost too much work for one day.

So back to the reason for this post… I looked over the recipe a few times and tried to come up with the best plan of attack. I made sure to read the most applicable portions of my Cuisinart manual so that I didn’t chop my fingers off. I wish that I had gone with my gut and put my frozen raspberries in the refrigerator instead of back in the freezer after getting them home. The manual says that you can puree frozen fruits and vegetables, but it doesn’t tell you that it’ll leave them in a big frozen clump. That was my first hard lesson. The second, still regarding the raspberries, was that the directions “strain mixture and discard solids” are a lot easier said than done. Those seeds are teeny-tiny and they don’t separate easily. Needless to say, my filling could’ve been a lot smoother.

Once the actual mixing of the filling got going, it was pretty smooth sailing. I’m going to go ahead and attribute some of the soreness in my right arm to having to whisk the mixture while it heated on the stove for eight minutes and then having to whisk the butter while it melted into the mixture. The rest of the soreness is most certainly from the Wii, but that’s a whole other story altogether. So once the filling was being refrigerated for at least two hours, I moved on to the actual cake.

The cake itself was pretty straight-forward. The only “new” skill that I learned here was how to use a zester. Yes, it is a very simple task. But it takes a long time to produce just a little bit of zest and I was quite nervous that I was going to end up zesting my fingertips and/or knuckles, so I was concentrating really hard. I am pretty sweet, but the cake didn’t call for a tablespoon of Jac.

I have to say that I did a pretty good job of separating out my batter into the three separate pans. If you know me at all, you know that I’m completely OCD and you won’t be surprised to know that I thought, more than once, about pouring the batter into a measuring cup to see how much I had total so that I could divide it evenly for all three pans. I resisted this urge and eyeballed it. Thankfully, I had my hearing aid in was right on the money. (Sorry. No one but The Boyfriend will get that, but I couldn't resist.)

With the cakes in the oven, all I had to worry about was making sure that they got done and weren’t over-cooked. It really freaked me out to find that the tops of all three cakes were exactly the same color as the batter when they were completely cooked. I’m so used to off-white batters turning a golden brown that I was quite perplexed when I tested them. I’m still a little confused by it, but it must be because of the limeade or something. It’s really not worth worrying about now because I know they were cooked. And I’ll certainly know for next time.

They cooled surprisingly quickly, so I figured there was no sense in putting off making the icing. By this point, I was ready to be done with this thing. The icing was pretty easy, too, but as I was measuring out the confectioner’s sugar, I remembered that Paula Deen’s icing recipes make about twice as much icing as what is actually needed. I thought about cutting it in half, but I couldn’t find the common denominator for all of the different measurements, so I just made what she said to. (Again with the OCD.) When I expressed this concern to my mom, she shrugged her shoulders and told me to use all of it. This is how much the recipe yielded:

I am glad that I made all of it, however, because this is what was left over:

This is likely due to the three layers of icing that I put on it, but who’s counting? And by the way, if you ever want a fun variation on a cream cheese icing, find the recipe for Cream Cheese-Limeade Icing. It’s fantastic. My mom kept the leftovers to use on sugar cookies. My dad is obsesses with sugar cookies with icing on them.

I did not have to do any cutting of the cakes to even them out for layering, thank goodness. They actually cooked pretty evenly, so I was relieved about that. Here’s what it looked like once the filling was complete:

And I’m a big fan of the show “Amazing Wedding Cakes” and I’ve started crumb-coating my cakes that I ice so that they look prettier. (Relax. I just like covet their talents. I’m not in the market for a baker, much less a wedding cake.) It adds a little bit of time to the process, but I love looking at a cake that doesn’t look like it’s covered in fuzz. This one wouldn’t have mattered much, though, because of the lime zest in the icing. Here’s a picture of the crumb-coat:

This is a picture of the cake after layer number three of icing. I’m assuming that this is what it would’ve looked like had I not been as ambitious as I was.

And this is a picture of the finished product:

I might have gone overboard with the garnish, but I thought it turned out really nicely. So nicely that I just had to take a picture of the inside once it had been cut.

And a picture of a piece of it on a plate.

I probably shouldn’t do this, but here is a link to site that I did NOT take the recipe from. I was hoping and praying that my cake would look at least moderately better than theirs. I can’t say what the issue might have been and their cake may very well have tasted twice as good as mine did. But we’ll never know and, quite frankly, I doubt it.

I will never have my own cooking or cake decorating show, but no one has told me to find a new hobby… yet!

We Know You're Not A Terrorist, Just Bring Your BBQ On The Plane

Edwin McCain plays at the House of Blues in Orlando twice a year, around Christmas and the 4th of July. Since at least December of 2006, Kevin and I have been to see him every time that he's been in town. Obviously we enjoy him or we wouldn't keep going back. We even joke about how he tells the same stories at every concert.

This past weekend he was in town, so we (of course) had to go. Obviously I wasn't about to leave The Boyfriend at home by himself on a Friday night, so I asked him if he wanted to come with us. Kevin was perfectly okay with it, but did warn that if we "got all lovey-dovey during our song" he would have to be like the annoying little brother and separate us. (Kevin is still getting used to not being number one in my life.) To save someone from being the third wheel, Kevin brought a friend of his from work.

The day before the show, we were trying to firm up plans and decide if we were going to meet for dinner beforehand, where we would meet, what time, etc. and I called to find out what time the show would actually begin. When doing this, I found out that Sophie B. Hawkins would be opening for Edwin McCain, which was a pleasant surprise. Usually it's someone that we've never heard of and we suffer through it just because we, more or less, have to. Kevin had no clue who she was, but The Boyfriend was pretty excited that he knew a song or two of hers, so we made plans to be there to see her as well.

Dinner was good. Kevin showed stupid pictures of me that should've been deleted off of his camera a long time ago but, in general, the evening was progressing well. Now, I must tell you that Kevin and I always, ALWAYS have a problem. We always get involved in some sort of shenanigans that are not our fault. It's like the crazies are attracted to us. This night was no exception and we were so pleased that we had someone else to witness these things.

When we walked in, Sophie was already singing her one hit, "As I Lay Me Down to Sleep," so I was a bit disappointed that we missed the one song of hers that I knew. It was a good thing that she added about 10 minutes on to the song of her just improvising lyrics that we could barely understand. I think The Boyfriend even asked me if I could understand what she was saying. Of course I couldn't! Partly because she was speaking so quickly and partly because of the way she was "singing."

It only got worse from there. She kept whipping her hair around and had I had a hair tie on me, I would've thrown it up on stage for her to use. At the end of practically every song, she went into this whole improv thing that she started. The only thing that I can really remember her saying was something along the lines of "We know you're not a terrorists. Just get on the plane and bring your bbq with you and we'll have a good time this weekend." It was out of control. She also announced that she had a baby seven months ago and having this baby has made her very forgetful. That was evident when she thought she was going to sing one song and her band started playing another. Maybe having said child is also why she was lying on the stage for a good thirty seconds... while still singing. Oh, and there was an awkward moment or two when she was doing some sort of suggestive jiration, followed by turning around and shaking her butt for the crowd. I can only assume that that's why she has to sell her own t-shirts and CDs after the set. Everyone that she had working for her couldn't take the erratic behavior and quit.

I really think she was on something.

Thank goodness Edwin was fantastic, as always. He's got a great voice and is good with the crowd. Frankly, just hearing him sing "I'll Be" and "I Could Not Ask For More" makes him worth every penny for me. I love that song and hearing it live is 10 times better. If he put tickets for his next show on sale right after that song, I'd buy them right then, without thinking twice about it. And we behaved ourselves, so Kevin didn't have to get between us. I'm still waiting to hear what he really thought of the evening. I'll be getting that scoop later on.

Edwin actually ended up coming down into the crowd and was probably 10 feet away from us. On his way back up on stage, The Boyfriend gave him a pat on the back. As soon as I saw this happen, I knew what the next words out of his mouth were going to be. "I'm never washing these hands again!" How teenage-groupie of him!

All in all, the night was a lot of fun. I can't complain about Edwin and I certainly can't complain about spending any amount of time with The Boyfriend. And I don't think I'll have to drag him out the next time Edwin rolls through town either. They just need to leave Sophie at home.