Saturday, December 29, 2012

Seinfeld Themed Birthday Party

I apologize for my unannounced holiday break.  I think that every year I underestimate just how busy this time of year is!  It seems like it's been pretty quiet in the blog world, so apparently I'm not alone.

But, I had a goal of telling you about my husband's birthday party (that did eventually happen, despite the setbacks!)  before the end of the year.  I have to apologize though, since I had to throw it together in a hurry, I didn't get as many pictures as I'd like.  If you aren't a Seinfeld fan, this will probably mean nothing to you, but if you have whole episodes memorized like the hubby, I think you'll like it!

First things first, the invitations:

Next, dinner.  I cooked for almost two days to get all this food done, but it was delicious!  Each thing had a card next to it with a quote about the food from the show.  Here's some (pretty terrible) photos of the meal:

Here's what we ate:

Crab Bisque: I had two quotes for this one, I just couldn't choose...
#1 is from 'The Yada Yada':
Elaine: I met this lawyer, we went out to dinner, I had the bisque, we went back to my place, yada yada yada, I never heard from him again.
Jerry: But you yada yada'd over the best part!
Elaine: I mentioned the bisque.
 #2 is from 'The Soup Nazi':
Elaine: So, essentially, you chose soup over a woman?
Jerry: It was a bisque!
Elaine: Your top priority is soup!?
Jerry: Have you tasted the soup?
Elaine: Yeah, all right, you made the right decision.
I used this recipe for the Crab Bisque, substituting apple juice for the wine.  It was incredibly delicious and I will most definitely be making this again!

From 'The Soup Nazi':
Kramer: Well, a bowl of mulligatawny would hit the spot.
Elaine: Mulligatawny?
Kramer: Yeah.  It's an Indian soup.  It's simmered to perfection by one of the great soup artisans of the modern era.
Elaine: Oh.  Who? The soup nazi?
Kramer: He's not a nazi! He just happens to be a little eccentric.  Most geniuses are.
I used this recipe for the Mulligatawny.  Honestly this is my new favorite soup.  It was absolutely incredible!  I will most definitely be making this one again soon.

Marble Rye:
"Uh, excuse me... I know this is gonna sound crazy but I have to have that rye!  It's a long story, but a person's whole future may depend on it!"
-Jerry, 'The Rye'
I bought my marble rye from the grocery store.  We love rye bread!  I could've made the rye into croutons for the salad, but ran out of time.

Big Salad:
"What I would like to know is, how does a person who has nothing to do with the big salad claim responsibility for said salad and accept the thank you under false pretenses? Huh? Huh? You know, when you buy a big salad for somebody it would be nice if they knew it!"
-George Costanza, 'The Big Salad'
My Big Salad was pretty basic, just lettuce and veggies, but it was big and got eaten as I had some vegetarians and gluten free attendees who couldn't eat the soups.  We thought about having poppy seed dressing, but opted for a non-Seinfeld-esqe Ranch and Bleu Cheese.

"Vile Weed!!"
-Newman, 'The Chicken Roaster'

"These pretzles are making me thirsty!"
-Kramer, 'The Alternate Side'

Chips and Dip: Two quotes here as well.
#1: "You double-dipped the chip! You dipped the chip, you took a bite, and you dipped again!  That's like putting your whole mouth right in the dip!  From now on, when you dip a chip, just take one dip and end it!" -Timmy, 'The Implant'
#2: "Hey, how come people don't have dip for dinner?  Why is it only a snack?  Why can't it be a meal, you know? I don't understand stuff like that." -David Puddy, 'The Face Painter'

Cinnamon Babka:
"Cinnamon takes a back seat to no babka!  People love cinnamon.  It should be on tables at restaurants along with salt and pepper.  Anytime anyone says, 'Oh this is so good, what's in it?' The answer invariable comes back, Cinnamon! Cinnamon! Lesser babka... I think not!" -Jerry, 'The Dinner Party'
I used this recipe for the cinnamon babka.  It was pretty good, but a lot of work to make.  Just because it was a lot of work, I probably won't make this again.  I'd just make cinnamon rolls if I wanted something similar.

Black & White Cookies:
"Oh look Elaine, the black and white cookies!  I love the black and white - two races of flavor living side by side.  It's a wonderful thing, isn't it?  The thing about eating the black and white cookie, Elaine, is you want to get some black and some white in each bite.  Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate, and yet somehow racial harmony eludes us.  If only people would look to the cookie all our problems would be solved.  Look to the cookie, Elaine, look to the cookie!" -Jerry, 'The Dinner Party'
I used this recipe for the black and white cookies.  It was delicious and pretty easy.  I would love to make more of these!

Muffin Tops:
Woman: I can't believe somebody pulled the top off of this muffin!
Elaine: That was me.  I'm sorry, I don't like the stumps.
Mr. Lippman: So you just eat the tops?
Elaine: Oh yeah.  It's the best part!  It's crunchy, it's explosive, its where the muffin breaks free of the pan and sort of does it's own thing.  I'll tell you, thats a million dollar idea right there!  Just sell the tops!

"Why do they cal it Ovaltine?  The mug is round, the jar is round, they should call it round-tine!  Thats gold Jerry!  Gold!" -Kenny Bania, 'The Fatigues'

Next on the agenda was the Airing of Grievances (telling funny or embarassing stories about the hubby) and the Feats of Strength (challenging him to some arm or leg wrestling).  Since I figured he's been through enough that weekend, we skipped it.  But we did have Pez dispensers for the winners.  We then played Seinfeld Scene-it.

Finally, we had favor sacks for the guests.  I won't bore you with more quotes (although I had them printed on a card in each sack), but we had Tic-Tacs, Twix, Jujy Fruit, and Junior Mints.  We also had a card for a donation to the Human Fund. :) 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Finding Joy in the Journey (when it all goes wrong!)

I apologize for the shot blogging break... once you hear my story you may understand. I had some great posts ready for you this weekend, and then... well... it all went wrong.

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Saturday was supposed to be hubby's birthday party.  I spent Friday and Saturday preparing food (my hands still smell like onions! ugh!) But then, the real excitement began. He had thought that he passed a kidney stone earlier in the week (this happens once every few months at our house) but it came back with a vengance on Saturday.  Not wanting to spoil his party and all the hard work I had put into it, he tried to ignore it.  He went out and got me breakfast.  He shoveled the driveway, he shoveled a walking path through the yard to the church, he shoveled the neighbors driveway, he came in and said he was going to take a break and then help me with the preparations.... and then told me that the pain was back. He couldn't take it anymore, and it was time to go to the hospital and get 'real drugs' to help him manage the pain.  So the party was cancelled, the afternoon was spent at the hospital, and the evening was spent watching movies together while he was in and out of drowsy sleep. (which was also a lovely break from the holiday/birthday stress I'd had all week!)

So why did hubby wait so long to go to the hospital? He didn't want to make me upset.  Just by doing this, instead of make me upset, he made me so happy.  He showed me how much he loves me, which was better than being able to host my party!

So the lesson learned was in finding joy in the journey.  Don't place all your happiness in the end destination, because you may never get there.  Find joy along the way, and realize that although sometimes you end up somehwere you didn't expect, that place can be just as wonderful.  I heard a story from a friend once who has a disabled child.  It was a poem about how everyone wants to go to Italy, and she dreamed about going to Italy her whole life, but then when she tried to get there, she ended up in Holland.  She kept hearing from all her friends who had gone to Italy, but instead of being upset that she didn't get there, she found that Holland, although different than Italy, was just as wonderful.  I think that this story applies to many things in life, not just having a child with a disability.  You can choose to be happy with what you have been given, and you can choose to realize that although what you have been given might be different than what you initially wanted, it is in many ways just as wonderful.

(But don't worry, we still plan on hosting the party, and I will share it all with you.)

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Simplicity 2149 Pattern Review

Okay so I should have posted this like a month ago... I always underestimate how crazy things get in December.  This was a sample that I made for JoAnn's, Simplicity 2149.  Ite gave me more trouble than it should have (my fault, it was all bad fabric choices, not bad patterns).  Here's the story:

Simplicity 2149
I really liked the pictures on the pattern envelope... until I found out that I was supposed to sew the one view I didn't like (view E). I was also supposed to use plaid (which doesn't bother me, I like plaid.)  But I hated view E. View E is a crop jacket with 3/4 sleeves and fringe trim.  I wanted the pretty long jacket.  And so, I compromised as much as possible.  I knew I would still have to do the fringe, but I lengthened the sleeve by adding a cuff, and I lengthened the jacket to be waist length (views C and D).  I used a thick woven material I found in the red tag clearance at JoAnn's.  I don't even know what it was, but it was pretty much a blanket, and the end was frayed so I didn't have to buy fringy trim.  The material/blanket is very warm and cozy... but I'm pretty sure I should've had an industrial machine to sew that stuff!  If there were more than two layers, it hardly fit under the presser foot.  I had to yank that sucker through, meaning that if you look close enough, you'll notice the sewing quality is extremely sub-par. The pattern itself wasn't bad.  Quite a few pieces but easy to assemble.  No lining, easy to mix and match elements of different views.  I would recommend this pattern and would love to sew it again (view B this time!)  As far as my actual garment is concerned, eh.  I'm going to have to do some alterations when I get it back.  I think I'll remove the trim, add a triangle collar, and add buttons the full length of the front.  It fits well (and looks so much better on a body than on a hanger) but that fringy stuff... It really looks like I'm wearing a blanket from the 1970's.

Inspiration Sunday: When Something Seems Impossible

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Have you ever had an experience that just seemed impossible?  Like a "How did that just happen? That is just not logically possible!" experience?

In my (short, yes) life, I have observed that whenever something seemingly impossible happens, it is most definitely the hand of God.

In my lesson today I was discussing my journey through education with the girls.  I explained that 10 years ago, when I was their age, I never planned on being a wife and a mom - I planned on being a scientist.  I was going to cure diseases, I was going to be famous, I was going to change the world!  I wrote this in a time capsule that we made for a youth activity.  It was to be opened this summer, 10 years later.  "Dear self: You had better be pretty close to being a world renowned neurologist by this time.  Don't you dare let me down, I've worked hard for this! Love, me."

I was well on my way, taking some very advanced courses and set to get my bachelors degree early with a double major.  I was interning for some big labs.  I had connections in high science-y places.  I was involving God in my education, asking for guidance as to which classes I should take, which direction I should go, and the answer was always 'keep going, you can do this!'

Then, the impossible happened.  I went from a 3.8 GPA to failing in 1 semester.  I tried to register to retake the classes and got a letter from the school informing me that they had lost my registration.  They had no record of me being a student.  It was gone.  Gone.

How can years of hard work just disappear like that?  How does a computer system loose ONE person in tens of thousands?  I had disappeared. How?

I turned to God, totally devastated, lost, and confused.  I got an answer, and my answer was: "That was your answer."

So this summer, as I opened that time capsule and read about how I had better be changing the world as a world famous neurologist, I wished it were possible to write a letter to my fourteen year old self.  If I could, it would say: "Dear self:  You are going to change the world.  You are going to have the most important job there is - you are going to be a mommy.  Trust me, I didn't let you down.  You'll see.  Love, me."

Your Heavenly Father has plans for you bigger than you can ever imagine.  If you face an 'impossible' fork in the road, remember: With God all things are possible!  You just may be witnessing His guiding hand.

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Modest Monday

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cooking a whole pumpkin

Whew... it's been quite a week, as you can tell by my severe lack of posting anything to keep you occupied!

Well, I looked at the calendar and realized it was December, so it was time to get rid of my pumpkin.  I saw on one of the blogs I follow that you can cook any pumpkin whole and thought I'd give it a go! Prior to seeing this, I thought that you could only eat the special 'pie pumpkins' and that you had to clean them and slice them before cooking.  Way too big of a pain for me.  But I just used your typical carving/decorating pumpkin, and yes, I cooked it whole.  Easy Peasy!

First, you've gotta stab some good holes in your pumpkin, just like you are baking a giant potato.  Then you put him in a glass dish and bake him at 350 until he's soft.  Mine took two hours.

Going in the oven (be sure to lower your rack and make space before turning it on!)

After baking
 Then I skinned him, cleaned him, and separated him into three bowls:
Preparing the cooked pumpkin

Three bowls - flesh (to be pureed) seeds (to be roasted) and scraps (to be fertilizer)
 I roasted the seeds.  I mix them with olive oil, worchestershire sauce, and salt, then roast them on a cookie sheet at 250 for about two hours, stirring every 20 mins or so.

Then I pureed the flesh.  This will be used in place of canned pumpkin in recipies.  It stays good frozen in glass jars for up to two years!  Freezing is so much easier than canning.  A can of pumpkin has about 1 3/4 to 2 cups of pumpkin in it, so thats how much I put in my jars.  Be sure to freeze with the lid off, then put the lid on after freezing for a few hours (in case it expands while it freezes - if the lid is on it will make the jar crack.  If the lid is off it will just spill over the top.)

pureed pumpkin ready to go in the freezer

After it was all said and done, I made me some Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins! Yummy! 

Because I got my pumpkin for 8 cents a pound, the whole thing cost me about a dollar.  I scored 8 cans worth of pureed pumpkin plus yummy roasted pumpkin seeds for $1!