24 October 2011

my baby loves giraffes

Right when I announced my pregnancy, my sister chimed in with the desire to plan my baby shower. She loves babies, and she plans a good party, so of course I'm letting her.  The first thing she asked is if I had a theme in mind.  A theme??  Huh? Well, as I was registering with my mom, I kept gravitating to one thing.  GIRAFFES.  Other than a few trips to the zoo, I'd never given them too much thought.  But I guess Baby W must love them!  (Now that I mentioned this to my sis, and also mentioned a pink and brown color scheme, she called me "anal."  Well, you asked!)

I've also decided that the baby giraffe stuff in stores is slightly more adorable than actual baby giraffes.  I think it has to do with how they usually make the features round instead of angular to mimic baby humans more.

Here are a few of my top giraffe-arific picks!

Giraffe footies?  Sold!

From Cake Central member cytosteph
Via The Young Retiree, STAMPED!
Reason #458 I need to figure out how to crochet!  Source
Or maybe this is why.  Source.
An all-giraffe mobile?  Now there's a cool find!

The good thing is that once I realized I liked giraffes, a zoo nursery theme was an easy choice.  I'll be driving up to Georgia for my (first) baby shower this weekend, and maybe I'll be driving back with some adorable giraffe stuff for Baby W!


20 October 2011

DeLuna Fest music

Earlier this week, I posted about my experience at DeLuna Fest, and now I want to share some of the good music with you!  The cool thing about festivals is discovering new music.  We saw a band called Telekinesis on Saturday, and I actually really liked them.  They're apparently from Seattle, so they probably don't come this way often.  Only a few hundred people came to their set since it was early afternoon, so it was nice and intimate.  They even took a request from a fan and played a song that wasn't on their playlist.

So here is Telekinesis:

I also just wanted to share my favorite Cake song with you, since I got to see them and all.

That one was really fun to hear live because the whole crowd knew it and was really into it and doing the shouting parts right on time along with the "ahh ahh"'s.

Linking up with Goodnight Moon today!  (It has been entirely too long since my last one.)

19 October 2011

from the 101 list: my first graphic novel

Successfully crossed another one off!

✔ 52. Read a graphic novel

A graphic novel is kinda like a comic book, but longer and possibly with better writing.  As I perused the shelf of them at the library, I learned a few things:
  • Almost all of them are geared toward teenagers.
  • Some of them from Japan read right-to-left (and "back" to "front")
  • There are even classics like Romeo and Juliet that have been made into graphic novels.
I thought about picking up one of the classics, but I had read them all already, and this mission was to read something entirely new.  I settled on a book by an American woman called Page by Paige, written and illustrated by Laura Lee Gulledge.

The book is about a teenage girl named Paige who moves from Charlottesville, VA, to New York City.  Her parents are writers, but she's more of an artist.  She picks up a sketchbook upon moving there and basically documents her new life in the city and her exploration of herself as an artist with sketches and panels.  Even though it's in grayscale, there are some really beautiful full-page sketches.  The book turns sorta "meta" as she shows her sketches to others, and it's basically the same book you're reading.

I actually liked this book more than I thought I would.  It was a super-quick read, since it was mostly drawings.  But it took me back to my 16-year-old self, who was full of quirky ideas and had the friends to help execute them.  There were even instructions on how to play what they called "drawing telephone"--I blogged about this game last year, calling it "Picta-phone."

This book was also a very recent publication (2011), so there were references to certain internet sites and bands that helped me feel connected to the characters.  (Maybe it's because I get most books at the library that I expect them to be dated so much??)  The book also had a subplot about Paige's relationship with her mother, and toward the end there was this really great page/panel about it.  Being pregnant with my own daughter, it really struck me:
I suppose all moms have an idea who they HOPE their daughters will be.  Like a connect-the-dots picture where you think you know what shape it will become.  But then it's the daughter who draws the lines, and she might connect dots you didn't intend, making a whole different picture.  So I've gotta trust the dots she's given me, and she's gotta trust me to draw the picture myself.

So have you ever read a graphic novel?  Do you have any recommendations anyone new to the genre?


17 October 2011

pregnancy vs. a music festival

This past weekend, B and I got the opportunity to attend DeLuna Fest for "free." I use that term loosely because we had to volunteer to sit behind a table for four hours on Saturday to get our tickets.  And we had to pay $20 for parking on Friday night when we went to see our bands (and the $1 toll both days).  At least we found free parking on Saturday.

DeLuna Fest is a 3-day music festival here on Pensacola Beach, and it's only in its second year.  I was originally interested in it because of some of the headlining bands, namely Weezer and Cake.  Linkin Park was also slate to perform, but they dropped out all of 2 weeks beforehand.  Lame.  The tickets were super-expensive, so I'm glad we were able to volunteer our way into it.

The two bands I mostly wanted to see both performed on Friday night, so we headed out to the beach.  The last time I went to a big musical festival with multiple stages was when I was in high school and went to Music Midtown in Atlanta (does that still exist?) and saw Hole, 98°, newly-famous Kid Rock (gag), and a pre-famous Jessica Simpson all in one weekend.  B had never been to anything like this, so I'm glad he got the experience.  The cool thing about DeLuna Fest is that the two main stages were right on the beach, in the sand. This was awesome later when I just needed to sit my pregnant butt down.

We got there on Friday night, just in time to see the last song from a duo called Matt and Kim.  (I'd heard of them before, but don't know their music.)  We realized then that we didn't have a program--actually, I'm not even sure if there WERE programs available--had no idea what stage we were at, and I couldn't remember which band I wanted was coming on first.  We also don't have smart phones, which is probably why there were no programs readily available.  Somehow we ended up running into an acquaintance (we know all of like 10 people in this town, so that was a slight miracle), and she looked it up on her phone.  It was sort of wrong, but I asked some other guy and Cake was indeed playing on the stage we were at in just under an hour.  So we sat around and waited.

Some people around us "lit up" in true music-festival-sense (if you know what I mean).  I knew the smell right away and was trying to get away from it, if anything, to protect my baby.  Somehow B cannot smell this stuff.  I told him to take a big whiff and remember that smell for later (especially when our kids are teens), and he kept saying that he didn't smell anything.  What.  The.  Heck.  The things I learn about my husband . . . guess I'll be the narc of the house.
Another thing that kept bothering me, especially once Cake started playing, was people walking by us and bumping into me.  (This is the opposite of what I thought would happen--I thought we were all going to get pushed forward and smooshed up once the band came on the stage.  Apparently, there is no pleasing me.) I've always been protective of my space, but now it's even more so.  We were pretty close up, and I just don't see why people find the need to mill around to get over there or leave only minutes into a set.  I was trying to perfect a certain stance with my hands on my hips and elbows out so that people wouldn't think I make a good passageway; it was semi-effective.  There were also beach balls and playground balls being bounced around through a lot of it, and one of the more rubbery playground balls totally smacked me in the bump during the first song.  B did a great job of protecting his pregnant wife from falling crowd-surfers though.
via Wikipedia
As for the music, Cake was really good.  Apparently they have some new stuff out, so I didn't recognize that (or even like it too much), but they mostly stuck to their crowd-pleasing classics.  Here's where DeLuna Fest needed to fix their logistics.  Cake ended at 9 and Weezer started promptly at 9.  A large handful of people left Cake early to haul it down to the other end of the beach to see all of Weezer's set, and the rest of us waited until the end, then trucked it down there.  I was in sneakers because I needed the support and hauling butt through sand was not easy.  Also, my knees had apparently locked during the hour watching Cake and it was so hard to move my pregnant behind anyway.  B refused to take me piggy-back.  Almost everyone at Cake went to Weezer, so it was just a cluster&*^$! of people trying to get down the beach as quickly as possible.

I made it through about 3 songs at Weezer before I plopped my butt down in the sand and just listened.  Weezer has a ton of good music that everyone knows, but for whatever dumb reason, they were playing a bunch of not-so-good stuff for most of it.  This included a cover of "Pumped Up Kicks," which is currently on the radio.  It wasn't even a very good cover, in my opinion.  I told B to take another whiff of the air when they started playing "Hash Pipe," and he still couldn't smell it.  Sigh.

The next day we saw a band that we'd never heard of (more on them later this week), and then The Shins later that night.  We made it an hour through that set then left because we were both really exhausted.  We also realized that we're getting old, especially being around all those beach-bum-hippies.  B's back was starting to hurt, and of course I had the normal pregnancy woes.  I've pretty much decided that my rock concert days are behind me as I didn't really enjoy the concerts as much as I once would have.  That's probably the last "standing up" concert I'll go to for a long while.  The next concert I see I will be sitting in a comfy chair/church pew with a bunch of gray-haired ladies around me.  And the only standing I'll be doing is for the Hallelujah chorus.

As for the volunteering we did, we were right next to the USO tent and they gave us Girl Scout cookies.  Can't argue with that!


12 October 2011

autumn touches around the house

I don't usually do a lot of seasonal decorating. Usually I'll just change our tablecloth and centerpiece and call it a day. But fall stuff? I actually have some of that!

It probably helps that B and I got married in October, so our wedding colors were a dark red, orange, and yellow.  There were even fake fall-colored leaves in my bouquet.  My aunt did a lot of my decorations (and all my flowers), so I got to keep a few of the centerpieces from the rehearsal dinner.
Yup, I bring this out every year.

The tablecloth was a random gift from another aunt the first year that I hosted Thanksgiving for my parents when I lived in Virginia (before I was even engaged).  She nailed it.

My mom has a friend or something who sells PartyLite, so she keeps buying me stuff.  I've never specifically asked for any of them, but every year I seem to end up with another black cat votive holder.  They're now my Halloween display for the bar.
The one in the center has a fishbone in him :)
That's another centerpiece up there, too, if you were wondering.

All of that stuff was given to me by others.  But this year, I decided to add my own touch.  I've always loved the idea of wreaths, but when I went to store to get one, it gave me sticker shock.  The pretty fall ones were $40 or more!  So I did the only logical thing and made my own.  Spent about $10 total, and it only took me an hour.  I didn't use hot glue, just wire, so I could perhaps re-use the base.  And yes, I had to call my mom while walking around Michael's to get her advice on how to do this!

We don't get a lot of fall color here in north Florida, so this puts a smile on my face every time I come home!

Have you done any seasonal decorating for fall this year?

05 October 2011

adventures in champagne cake

I have a quest. It might even turn into a lifelong quest, but I'm hoping it doesn't.  See, my husband and I had an amazing wedding cake.  And not just amazing in its decoration, but amazing in its taste.  Speaking of husband, he just looked over my shoulder and saw what I wrote and called it "a little dramatic."  It's the best cake I've ever had, so I'm allowed to be dramatic.

The cake even kept so well in my parents' freezer that after a year, I was still in love with it. Yeah, most people HATE their year-old wedding cake, but I was begging for more.  Obviously, I need to figure out how to make it.

The cake: champagne cake with strawberry mousse filling (and buttercream icing).  Here's a picture of it after a year of freezing and then thawing.

It was actually even better the next day--it somehow got fluffier.
I decided that I'd try to make it for our anniversary this year.  I asked around on a few message boards and got a whopping ZERO responses.  So much for that.  I found a recipe that sounded decent and committed to it.  It included both the cake recipe and the strawberry mousse recipe.

The night before our anniversary, I made the frosting from my Wilton books, so that was easy.  Then I decided to tackle the mousse.  The mousse recipe had a few jobs in it that I'd never done before.  The first was whipping heavy cream.  I have a handheld electric mixer (no room in this tiny kitchen for a fancy stand one), and whipped the cream like a pro.  I was feeling pretty confident at this point.

Then I had to separate eggs and whip the whites.  I didn't do any research on this, and the recipe was just very bare-bones about it.  I've never separated eggs before, but I do have a tool for that.  It fit nicely over a cup, so I just kept adding them to the cup.  The yolk broke on the fourth one (out of six), so I now learned why this method is a bad idea.  (Pro tip: dump each egg white into the bowl right after you separate it.)  I couldn't get all of the yolk out, so I just moved on.  Once I got my 6, I tried to use my whisk attachment for the mixer to whip them.  Twenty minutes later, I still didn't have stiff peaks.  I've sorta watched my mom make meringue before, so I knew something was wrong.  But it was past bedtime at this point, so I said screw it.  And so I mixed my soft-peaked egg whites into the rest of it.

The result?
That's a 5-quart bowl, about 4/5 full of runny mousse.
The next day, when I tried to put it between my cake layers.  Major FAIL.
Even if I'd gotten it all right, I'm pretty sure this recipe would have still made at least eight times the amount of mousse needed.  There was a frosting recipe included too, and I'm glad I stuck with the one I already knew.

The good news is that the next day, when I actually made the cake layers, the recipe called for another six egg whites whipped to stiff peaks again.  I was definitely not gonna screw this up a second time!  I turned to YouTube and found an informative video about doing it by hand.  I decided that was the way to go.  Of course, I had already done a full workout that morning, including dumbbell activities, but I didn't let that stop me.  Boy, was it another workout!  I had to take a few breaks.  But in less than 5 minutes, I had my stiff peaks!

Then I had to open a champagne bottle for the first time by myself.  There were directions on the bottle that made me think this thing just might go everywhere, even though it was a screw-top Wal-Mart variety champagne.  The sink was full of cake stuff, plus I'd rather not have to clean the floor if it came to it.  After giving it a bit of thought, I decided to do it outside on the patio.  That was a good call, since it ran all down the bottle.  We'll call that a success.

All in all, the cake did NOT turn out anything like our wedding cake (which is also why I refuse to link to the recipe here).  The cake was way more dense--almost like a pound cake.  And the mousse obviously didn't pan out, but the taste wasn't even that great.  I shouldn't be eating raw egg whites anyway, so maybe that's a good thing?

At least those Wilton classes I took last year paid off!
The decorating was the best part.
We're still eating it, but I'm definitely on the hunt for a better recipe to try next year!

The list of firsts I experienced with this cake:
  • First time whipping cream to stiff peaks (success!)
  • First (and second) time separating eggs
  • First and second time whipping egg whites (failure and success)
  • First time opening a bottle of champagne (it was a screw top, but still)
  • First time baking a cake without using a box of cake mix
Have you had any mousse mishaps?  Or are you on a quest for the perfect recipe for something?

03 October 2011

a picture and a winner

It's me and B's 2nd anniversary today!

I've been slaving away in the kitchen trying to re-create our wedding cake (and not doing so hot; that story to come later in the week).  We're going out for our fancy dinner tomorrow night, since the restaurant is closed on both Sundays and Mondays.  Gotta love the South.

I also decided to try on my wedding dress. At 24 weeks pregnant. Yeah, I'm nuts.  But here was the result:
The back zipped all of an inch.  The goal is for it to fit next year!

And, in other news, let's share the winner of the Amazon.com gift card giveaway!
Okay, right in the middle.  The winner is Lily I!  All those extra Swagbucks referral entries paid off.  I will be emailing you shortly!  Thanks everyone for entering.