More fondant fun…

August 11th, 2010

Things I learned tonight…

1. Marshmallow, very sticky
2. I don’t have a mixer quite big and bad enough to make a whole batch of marshmallow fondant
3. I shouldn’t have had my nails done right before deciding to make 10 pounds of fondant, short would be better
4. Marshmallows are sticky

This all really goes back to 1998, the year I was married. I was so loved (heh heh) that I had three wedding showers. My sister got married the same year and she had ONE shower. Sooo… my grandma (who was one of the very few people invited to all of my showers) gave my sister the KitchenAid mixer and me 3 smaller gifts that added up to the cost of the KitchenAid mixer. It is now 12 years later and if my sister has used that mixer twice, I would be genuinely shocked. The point is that I don’t have a stand mixer and my sister does and I still might wish I’d only had one shower. She doesn’t read this. If she did, this is where I would ask her to give me her stand mixer.

Unfortunately, my truly amazing grandma passed away in 2006. My grandma was a very successful and accomplished woman, but I remember her best for the time she spent in her kitchen. She wasn’t there because it was all she had, she had lots of important things to do — she was there because she loved it. I chose many special things from her kitchen, but her vintage Hamilton Beach Model E stand mixer (that she received as a wedding gift) is my easy favorite (though it’s hard to top the bacon press and the cheese cuber).

Unlike my sister, she used her mixer almost every day. It’s heavy and it’s clunky and the exterior is a little over-loved… but it still works like I just took it out of the box (and yes, I actually have the box, too). I’m so fortunate to have it and with it, the memories of the years I spent watching her make mashed potatoes and never, ever sitting down for a meal until everyone at the table was almost finished eating.

Worth a mention

August 11th, 2010

The tomatoes are rolling in and the keeper of the tomato plants is always quite anxious about the possibility of a rogue army of tomatoes rising up and overthrowing the established regime. So, off I went to the store for tomatoey dinner with nothing at all up my sleeve.

After wandering through the store aimlessly for 10 minutes, I admitted defeat and pulled out my iphone. I fired up my super favorite Allrecipes Dinner Spinner Pro. In about 12 seconds I’d found a recipe that was absolutely perfect! Using my handy dandy phone, I raced through the store gathering the ingredients for Summer Pasta with Basil, Tomatoes and Cheese.

I don’t like mint, so I skipped that part and when I had everything I needed and got to the very last item on the list, I ran into a “living on the crappy side of town” snag. Our grocery store doesn’t carry fontina. Of course I did check (again) that handy dandy iphone to find out if there is a suitable substitute for fontina. Not so much. I already had everything I needed (and my heart set), so I called in an emergency grocery request to Brian, who was on his way home from work and he stepped in as the hero and located my fontina on the other side of town.

This was a 5 star recipe for me, easily. It was just exactly what it claimed to be. It’s served just about at room temperature so it’s great for warm nights… and the tomato marinade mixed with the cheese… yum! A complete departure from anything I’ve made before. Cream sherry in pasta? Neat!

Brandon says…

August 9th, 2010

… this is a super awesome card. Personally, I’m kind of embarrassed how long it took me to come up with something this lame. This is the first year that I’ve flown blind, not having much intimate knowledge of Harry Potter. I saw the first movie when it came out — not exactly an expert. I had to do some major research to find something that wasn’t copyright protected that I could use.

I finally located a photo of the actual Platform 9 3/4 that was used in the movie (allegedly because I don’t remember). I was SO late getting these out because it took me forever to figure out how to make a Harry Potter invitation, but I think this was about as good as it was going to get. :)

We printed these as images (ran out of time for press printing) and mounted them to black card stock.

Counting down to 8…

August 9th, 2010

Brandon’s 8th birthday… just 5 days away. Bailey is 4, so logically, Brandon is older, though I still have no concept of time when it comes to my kids. He’s 8?? Really?? In 8 more years, Brandon will be driving away in our car, dating, and completely uninterested in me… but even though we just wrapped up 8 whole years, the “what will Brandon be like at 16” question seems so ridiculously premature. It shouldn’t, but it does… I don’t want to admit to myself just how quickly 8 years flies.

In my normal and expected fashion, birthday invitations went out late. VERY late. I now have 6 days to plan his very specifically themed Harry Potter birthday party, clean the house, figure out what to serve for lunch, and of course, learn how to make the far too ambitious Hogwart’s cake I promised even though I’ve never made any kind of 3D theme cake before.

Using a recipe for fondant that I found on my beloved, I made a practice cake to see just how much I could screw up fondant. It was quite an experience, but I’m pretty excited to learn something new. Secretly, I’ve always wanted to make awesome decorated cakes. I’ve just never been able to trust myself around a cake, so…

My first practice cake was not so much a disaster, even though I made it egg-free for Brandon and cakes without egg tend to fall apart. I really think I can do this castle cake. I really, really do! I think I can, I think I can. :) As long as my mixer holds out… we’ll just ignore the fact that it was smoking just a little tiny bit. No reason for alarm… move along. :)

Pictures of my first practice cake… just learning how to drape the fondant over the cake. It went well, I think. The rest of the decorating was just me wanting to play with my decorator tips. Perhaps I should practice on cardboard from this point forward? :)

So I figured I could bribe Bailey with the promise of a lollipop for a few minutes of her time. Her rates are more reasonable than Brandon’s, but you get what you pay for, don’t you?

She gave me these 4 shots and she was ready to go. These were taken at 3pm and the sun was out in full force. The light was actually better when we were there at noon and some of the areas we used were in full harsh sun today. Even with the unpredictable light patterns that I haven’t quite figured out, I really like shooting down there and I hope I can do more of it soon. :::hint, hint to the locals:::: :)

It’s pure insanity. It feel like summer just began a few days ago, and I realized last night that the longest days of summer are already behind us. From here on out, the days start getting shorter and we work our way right back to sunset at 4:22pm in the middle of December. FOUR TWENTY TWO.

Most of our fun times were had on our late winter and early spring vacations, so summer has been spent mostly at home, meeting new neighbors, finding new things to do close to home, and visiting family.

I will give a brief mention to our very short trip to the Highland Games in Oak Brook…

…but that was a bit of a disaster. I had a bad feeling about the day before it started and it just ended up being unpleasant for everyone. It was oppressively hot and incredibly overcrowded. We had no plan and no purpose, we just wandered aimlessly with nowhere to be. The kids enjoyed the activities that were decidedly not Scottish in nature, but I was cranky just being there. I can say with some certainty that mom will not be inviting us again next year. That’s fine with me because to be honest, I feel pretty lame wandering around the Scottish festival when I haven’t the slightest bit of Scottish blood.

There was my fun little get together on Saturday with a couple other photographers. We just wandered around downtown looking for fun spots. It was noon when we got there, so we had to be creative with the light, but it was really fun to just shoot for me, no pressure, no expectations. Bailey stayed home because I couldn’t trust her to stay out of traffic, but Brandon allowed me to contract him for a day’s work as my model for the hefty sum of $5.

And just to be fair, I asked Bailey to spare me a few minutes of her time for a few pictures in the backyard.

And yes, I am getting a little tired of pictures in the backyard, but these really were the last of the summer. The corn is already too high to catch any more evening backlight.

… before heading to bed tonight. Well, aside from the 456 pounds of food I found myself cooking at midnight after realizing that the freezer outside was left open for 4 hours. :( This isn’t the first time we’ve lost everything in our freezer… like all the other times, I promise this is the last time I’m going to let that happen. It may be the universe trying to tell me that it’s time to clean out the freezer… but why can’t the universe tell me that when it’s 18 degrees outside so that I’ll at least have a choice about whether to keep or toss my expensive new stash of low fat sweet treats??

So, anyway, I’m all ready for my newborn session tomorrow and I want to be focused, so I got these images edited and ready for upload in record time! I don’t want anything hanging over my head after I get those newborn images home — FUN FUN!!

Bailey was uncharacteristically cooperative today and she tries SO hard to be a good model, but she doesn’t seem to have the patience or capacity to smile on command. I do feel a bit like an out of control stage mom when my 4 year old has to tell me that she’s only letting me take one more picture and then I’m going to have to let her go have fun. heh heh. It’s so rough being a photographer’s kid. :)





… but we still haven’t had a good long run of warm weather. Still, there are a few flowers blooming behind the house. Brandon was apprehensive about walking over to the edge of the field. “That’s not our yard, mom…”

Well, it really wasn’t our yard, but it was just right there on the edge. Pretty sure my neighbor didn’t mind. Good to know that rules mean something to Brandon… at home. Now he just needs to put that whole thing into practice at school. 😉