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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

chocolate makes everything better

much like my beloved bacon, chocolate is a food group alllll on its own in my diet.  heh.

and so when i saw a picture posted on twitter by my friend (and our day-of coordinator for our local wedding reception) swingingly of a dessert bar featuring a plate of chocolate-covered pringles...well, you know what's coming next.

i surfed the interwebz for details on this magically sweet + salty concoction, and found that it really was as simple as it sounded.  this is all i needed:

yes, for any chocolate snobs out there - i used good old hershey's.  i actually really love the sweet, creamy taste of it, although i sure don't turn down the higher-quality stuff, either.  what can i say?  my tastes are simple.  and cheap.  heh.

i crumbled it up with my fingers because i was feeling too lazy to bust out a knife (which would mean having to wash and dry said utensil).

this is my ghetto-fab double boiler.  it always does the trick, so i stick with it.

i used the two forks dipping method, but because the chips are curvy and stuff, i had to maneuver the melted chocolate a bit with my spatula.

i was totally anal with these things and fished through the whole canister to find the perfect chips, with no cracks or missing chunks.  heh.

my giant bar of chocolate didn't yield many treats, and i scraped the bowl clean.  that's okay though, it was an experiment and now i know how easy it is.  besides, with the teen at her dad's for the week, i'll likely be the only one eating these.  the hub probably won't touch 'em.  he's not much into the whole sweet/salty/out of the ordinary food thing.  more for me!

but they looked a little...blah.  following a tip i'd read on the google, i broke out the good stuff.

i used just a tiny bit of my precious white chocolate chips (procured from whole foods, so you know that shit ain't cheap), because i really didn't need much.

again, i was being unreasonably anal about these, so i scraped the melted goo into a baggie to do the drizzle.


the verdict?  ummmm, YES.  you need these in your life, stat.  trust me.

Monday, May 30, 2011

rivalry in my kitchen

it was a week for graduation goodies over here.  first, some celebratory red velvet cupcakes for my friend quirky's future son-in-law, finishing up his degree at the university of la verne:

those were a snap to make, aside from dying my hands green, since i've done similar ones already.  and the cupcakes themselves were fluffy and beautiful, which made me happy. 

the next project, however, was not quite as easy to get through.  i'd been asked to make cookies for a graduation party where the husband and wife each attended different colleges...and not just any old universities.  oh no - these are bitter rivals.  and because i'm not an artist, i busted out some printed logos and wax paper to make some royal icing transfers:

i'd decided to make pennant-shaped cookies.  cute idea, right?  well, yeah.  except that i don't have a cutter and had to bust out a ruler and my pizza cutter.  even after my best efforts, my pennants were still a bit misshapen.  but i pushed ahead anyway.

turns out i'd made my ucla logos a bit too tall.  damn.  i had to settle for making usc pennants and making circle cookies for the others.  i got to work mixing and tinting the icing, and as i got the first cookie flooded - disaster struck.

those stupid icing logos were too damn fragile to pry off of the paper intact.  eff!  i was really bitter, but i'd had a feeling it'd be a tough task.  luckily, usc doesn't really have a fancy schmancy logo, and after practicing with the icing on those transfers the night before, i was comfortable freehanding it after all.  on the other hand, the ucla logos were big and sturdy enough to work with (verrrrry carefully), and i was stoked to breeze right through them all.

i still had a lot of breakage issues, though.  i'd made three sheets of 15 logos to ensure that i had enough for the two dozen cookies, and after all was said and done this was all i was left with:

after making a couple of extras, i had one sad little naked cookie left.  with my leftover bag o'icing, i had a little fun (and a bit of piping practice):

when the icing was completely dry, i packed the cookies in a bakery box.  because i wasn't sure if the party was that day or the next, i wanted to ensure that they'd be fresh, so i put them into ziploc bags before placing them into the box. 

i'm rather partial to ucla, since i've got family members and some very close friends who are alumni (sorry, claire and lilcee - i love you guys too), so somehow those ended up on top.  heh.

leftovers!  just enough so we don't get too sick of 'em.  yummy!

Friday, May 27, 2011

sappiness runs in the family

the bean has mostly been good since the ILs left on monday.  she woke up on tuesday morning, came in and chirped "mommy! wake up!" at my bedside like always, and then crawled in next to me for a morning snuggle.  and then she said "i miss grandma," and her little face crumpled into the saddest expression on the face of the planet.


luckily, it was short-lived and she went back to her cheerful self.  "can we have pancakes?" she asked, and i was so relieved i got right up and busted some out.

aside from that little episode, she's been okay.  she'll ask for grandma, we'll remind her that she's in texas, and she'll nod her head and move on.

yesterday, we went to the mall with the teen to run a few errands and look around.  her favorite stop is, of course, the disney store.  i generally save it for last - you know, for bribing purposes:  "be good, or we won't go see mickey at the disney store" always results in perfect behavior.  i know, i know, mother of the year i ain't.  but it works.  and we always go, so it's never an empty promise.

as she sashayed happily around the store, picking up fun stuff here and there, she was drawn to something new.  she grabbed it, tugged it behind her all the way around the store, and wouldn't let it go.

the teen checks the price tag at my request and eyeballs me for a second before delivering the news.

me, shaking my head at the $35:  "babe, let's put that away.  you don't need that thing."
bean: "yes, i do.  i need a suitcase."
me:  "no, you don't.  what do you need a suitcase for?"
bean, smiling sweetly (and likely thinking, "mom, you dumb ass, what do you think i need it for?"):

"because i need to go to texas."

the teen's gaze fell on me as the words sunk in, and we both teared up.  silly, right?  but it was just so sweet and innocent and pure.  i don't know, i'm a sap.  and apparently, so is my older daughter.  heh. 

oh, and no, i still didn't drop the cash on that thing.  but you know i was tempted to, just because.

i think we'd better start planning a visit to the lone star state sometime soon.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

whooooo's back at the sewing machine?

muahahahahahahaha.  yup, i managed to squeeze in a bit of sewing time in the last few days.  with the excitement of the teen's birthday, all the junior league crap, and cousin r's birthday behind me, i was finally able to work on a couple of projects i've had sitting around for a while.

my friend mrs. client is about to be a grandma for the first time, any day now.  her beautiful daughter is due to deliver what will most likely be an equally gorgeous baby girl, and i wanted to send a little something from us.  after an quickie surprise visit with the soon-to-be granny, i decided to get a little matchy-matchy and bought some super cute girly owl-patterned fabric since that's the nursery theme.

i turned to my tried-and-true newborn itty-bitty baby dress from my friend rae.  and this time, i decided it was time to learn how to get that darn piping sewn in properly at the bottom of the bodice.  after checking out this video, i finally got it right.  yippee!  and i threw in a matching blanket too, which took me literally 15 minutes to cut, pin, and sew.

after checking my stash of trumpette socks, i was stoked to see that i had a pair that went perfectly:

cute, right?  i'm throwing in a copy of goodnight, moon and putting it in the mail to phoenix pronto.  i'm so proud of myself for finally getting a baby gift sewn and mailed before the baby is born.  it's a first!

when i bought that owl fabric, the bean was with me (and actually helped choose it).  of course, she begged for me to make her a dress with it, too, so i made sure to buy enough yardage to cover all three projects.  and after perusing my superlong list of bookmarked links for cute dresses, i settled on this one - the yorkshire mini.

and failed.  miserably.  BAH!  even the bean thought it was hilarious.

son of a... those sleeves are a freaking disaster.  but only because they're so damn big - at least now i can say i've done them.  i'd always tried to stick to sleeveless or strap-style tops before.  i was pretty terrified of sewing sleeves, and now i can try other stuff.

now let's see if i can salvage at least the skirt and make something actually wearable with it.  send good thoughts.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

mission accomplished

the long months of planning my cousin r's wedding finally paid off this weekend, starting with the rehearsal.  she'd grown up right around the corner from the old san gabriel mission, and so for her it was a natural choice for the ceremony.

although i'd been to her house a bazillion times, i'd never been to the mission before.  it was really cool, and super old - from the 1700s.

the bean wanted to know if this was jesus.  heh.

and then the big day was finally here.  being a cheap ass, i'd chosen to hit up a salon in pasadena for my hair instead of having it done by the girl r had hired to come to the house.  i also decided to do my own make-up - after being pleasantly surprised by my own handiwork for last month's junior league formal ball, i was confident in my cosmetical skillz.  so by the time i arrived, the girls were all in the process of being all done up.  but i think i managed to do okay.  this is my new favorite picture of me.  taken by...me.

r's dress was beautiful, simple, and totally her.  i tried to get a good shot, but realized my uncle's golf bag was in the background.  no matter - yellow was one of the wedding colors anyway.  ha!

i'd stopped at dots cupcakes to pick up some sugar for the group.

along with a cute pair of gray and yellow flip-flops and our jewelry for the day, r gifted us with these cute clutches, adorned with a peacock feather (which were also incorporated in the wedding flowers).

we were all so excited for the day!  r's friends and sister were awesome, and i really enjoyed spending time with them.

you know how the time usually flies by when you're getting ready for something big like a wedding?  for some reason, it wasn't like that this time.  it actually seemed like it was dragging a bit.  weird.  but it was finally time to get dressed, and r was stunning as she stepped into her gown.

when we arrived at the church, the florist had just dropped off all of the boutonnieres and bouquets.

not a whole lot of photos inside, because it's always so hard to get good shots with bad lighting and when there are a ton of people sitting in front of you trying to do the same thing.  the teen gave it her best, er, shot, though.

look, it's me!

the ceremony was lovely and very...catholic.  afterwards, we all gathered outside in the gloriously beautiful afternoon sun to do the rounds of photos.

it'll be fun to see this shot - the newlyweds sharing a kiss while the wedding party jumps up in the air in excitement.

can you tell we really loved our shoes?  it was really amazing that we were all able to find dresses and shoes that matched each other so well - without a single group shopping trip.  the overall effect of the gray and bright yellow was quite striking, i thought.

i managed to squeeze in a quick shot with the couple in between poses.  you already saw the actual picture, just the other day.

the bean had fought off a nap all day and fell asleep just an hour before showtime, so she ended up staying home with the ILs.  i was sad as i hadn't seen her all day and really missed her, but i knew it was probably for the best.  she'd have gotten bored and we'd have been really occupied with trying to entertain her.

my beautiful teen and me.

i was thrilled to be able to provide r with her "something old, something borrowed, something blue" - her dress served as "something new."  i'd gone up into the attic into the wedding box (yes, i have an entire box filled with mementos from our wedding, 5.5 years ago) and found the brooch that i'd pinned to my bouquet.  it had belonged to the hub's great-grandma, who passed away only a month before our wedding.  i thought it would be nice to lend it to r for her own flowers.

i'd also gone antiquing in search of a vintage piece of jewelry to present to her on the big day.  but because i wanted to surprise her, i didn't know if she had jewelry to wear already - and i just pretty much assumed (correctly) that she did.  so this ruled out a pair of earrings, a necklace, a bracelet.  i ended up finding a pretty, sparkly brooch by kramer of new york - apparently, a pretty popular costume jewelry designer back in the 30's and 40's or so - in blue rhinestones.  it was really cool to see her use them both.

when we were finally released by the photographer, the teen and i hopped into my car for the short drive to old town pasadena.  the reception was at a relatively newish space called "pandora on green," and we recognized it as having housed a fun vintage clothing shop from a couple of years ago.  it's a fantastic space - bright, airy, elegant.

the tables were beautifully set.

the restroom was really lovely, too.

we were happy to find that cousin seven was seated at our table.  we love us some cousin seven.

the teen REALLY loves her.

there was a fun photo booth set up in the corner, and you could take serious shots or pick up some props and get silly.

we were introduced and made a "grand entrance" just before r and mr. r, and clowned a little just before, with the limo in the background:

then it was their turn.

public speaking is not my thing.  from the moment i happily accepted the privilege of being r's matron of honor (ew, that always sounds so old and...uh, matronly), i dreaded the toast i would make in front of the entire party.  not to mention, i was anticipating being up in front of family members i hadn't seen in a long time - by choice, of course.  and in my typical procrastinating fashion, i really didn't prepare anything ahead of time.  i googled "maid of honor speech" and didn't find anything useful, but there's a pretty basic formula for stuff like that - especially when you're giving toast #3 out of 4.  keep it short and sweet, start off with something funny, toss in something sentimental, and end it with best wishes and congratulations.  i managed to pull it together, totally winging it as i walked shakily up to the microphone.  luckily, i was joined by the bride's sister, her maid of honor.

our traditional "cousins" group photo.  well, part of it.  i'm sure the photographer's version will be much nicer. anyway, it was really nice to spend time with some of them who i hadn't seen in ages:

seven and 420 were alcoholically enhanced - and HIGH-larious.

the teen doesn't dance.  not that she can't - she just doesn't.  it was comical as we tried to get her into it (nothing worked).

we finally made our exit around 11, just as the dj was announcing the last dance of the night.  it had been a beautiful, joyous day - and i was exhausted.  thank goodness the teen drove home.  i didn't sleep, but it was nice to just sit back and relax.

congratulations to r and mr. r!  it's only the beginning, and it only gets better from here.  you'll see.

squeezing in all the sightseeing

this was our NYC home for a whole week: it was one of only a few hotels that i could find that offered two beds in a room rather than, say, ...