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The ones that got away: poll

Thanks to all who voted in our poll yesterday.

Our clear winner was  The boy at the birthday party.  CONGRATS!

These are some great photos, but not necessarily the ones you’d want on your wall (unless you’re me.) I love the quirky faces and funny expressions.   I need to find my ice-cream-covered-face shots for later…

Vote for your favorite and the winner will get a free 5″x7.”

(You can only vote once.  If that’s your kid, encourage your friends and family to vote.)

Contest ends at 9am July 23, 2010.

A.  Brothers on the porch

B. Boys praying

C.  Girl in pink close-up

D. Boy with hat talking

E. Blond girl who won’t smile

F. Boy looking away

G.  Girl with curly blond hair and koolaid-stained mouth

H. Boy getting psyched to swim

I.  Boy at the birthday party

[polldaddy poll=3502657]

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Is it the camera or the operator?

My answer is both.  Here are some snaps that I took last summer with my old faithful SONY point-n-shoot camera.  I can still get good photos with it, but for me, it’s all about control.  With this great little camera I could only control a few things (mostly composition.)  For the rest, the photos and I were at the mercy of the camera’s built-in functions.  I took a lot of bad, blurry, under- or overexposed photos because the poor little camera didn’t know what to do.

And Photoshop helps, too.  SPL

first day of school

rudee inletgas pumps

crowd control at lowe's

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I had my kids three years apart, but their birthdays are one month apart.  Between the four of us in the family we celebrate our “burfdays” (as Carter calls them) from April to July.  We have the last one this Sunday.  Here are a few snaps from Robert’s 7th at Hunt Club Farms.  The kids were tired, hot and dirty, which in my book makes for a good day.

This would only happen when Pappa's watching.
Getting sassy in his hat


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standard silhouette
classic silhouette

A classic silhouette goes nicely in any room.  For a black and white image, it’s surprising how expressive they can be.

Silhouette sessions are $75-$150 (5″x7″ to 11″x14″).  All sessions include one printed image and a set of 50 enclosure cards.  Other packages available upon request.

Order form: click here

Damask background
A damask design can be quite stylish.
Asian background
Asian patterns are always lovely.

Stripe background
A little stripe for some more flair.

reversed silhouette green
A reversed silhouette is a twist on the classic design. A little color goes a long way.

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Dinner for six in two hours. It can be done.

I had a wonderful girls weekend this past Friday and Saturday. It was a nice time to get away from the normal pace of raising two small boys, dealing with the laundry or the cat litter (two of my least favorite things), and generally preparing and organizing all that goes on around here.
My husband, meanwhile, invited two couple for dinner on Saturday night. I got home at 5:30 and our guests started coming at 7:15.
Less than two hours after coming home, dinner was not served, but we had fun. We ate lots of hors d’oeuvres and drank a few glasses of red wine. Dinner was served at 8.

Julia Child’s Potage Aux Epignards (Spinach Soup)
It was pretty good, anything with that much butter and cream can’t taste that bad. It took no time to prepare. French cooking doesn’t have to be hard. It can be, but it isn’t always.
Brick Fried Chicken
from Lynne Rossetta Kasper’s How to Eat Supper. It was wonderful and juicy. You actually cook a butterflied chicken in a skillet with a brick on top of it. Don’t let the title fool you; this is sauteed, not deep-fried. I heard once that sauteing was a snobs way of frying. However, you get some of the crispy skin, but it is not coated like that brand formally known as Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Arugula Salad
with strawberries and polenta crisps (I used this recipes, but cut them a lot smaller for crisps) I dress most any salad with balsamic vinaigrette and this was no exception. I keep a bottle on the counter all the time. It’s easy to make and a little goes a long way. (1 part balsamic vinegar, 2 parts extra-virgin olive oil, a tsp or two of Dijon mustard- depending on how much you’re making. Blend together with a whisk or right in the cruet.)
(we skipped this, because there was already enough food on the table and I had really forgotten about it until the last minute.) I have made this recipe before, though and it is a great, easy side dish. My husband would prefer that I add roasted pine nuts or walnuts next time; he likes the crunchy nutty taste with the chewier taste of this oversized couscous.
Steamed Asparagus
Vanilla Ice Cream with homemade chocolate sauce and orange zest
This I adapted from Julia’s chocolate sauce. I added a little orange zest, because, why not? Her recipe is great plain, but it comes in a much longer recipe for profiteroles. Those are a thing of beauty, but not for a dinner in two hours.
I didn’t have time to take photos of the event, but here are some taken of the aftermath. Well, this is what was on my counter the next morning. I was so exhausted, that I didn’t clean up until Sunday morning.

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Rolling with the fondant

So here is my first attempt at a fondant cake. Fondant is actually easy to make; it’s not as easy to make it look like something.

I was worried that it would taste awful. It’s made with marshmallows and confectioners sugar. Yes, sugar and more sugar. But, it was really edible and not so thick that you couldn’t put a fork through it. But, buttercream is still my preference for tastiness.

The cake was good too. Under all of that icing, it stayed nice and moist. I was shocked, because a lot of fondant cakes I’ve had in the past have been very dense with a hint of dry-as-a-bone texture.

I was completely covered in cornstarch, powder sugar and food dye by the end.

More photos: This is a link to the website that guided me.

I also like this cake website for ideas. Let me know if you have any favorites.

Here’s the recipe for homemade marshmallow fondant:
Marshmallow Fondant
16 ounces white mini-marshmallows (a bag may only be 10.5 oz.)

2 to 5 tablespoons water

2 pounds confectioner sugar

Vegetable shortening (you’ll need about 1/4 cup to coat your hands and work surface)

  1. Melt marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a double boiler or microwave: Put the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, open the microwave and stir, put it back in the microwave for 30 seconds more, open the microwave and stir again, and continue doing this until its melted. It usually takes about 2 minutes total. Place 3/4 of the powdered sugar on the top of the melted marshmallow mix.
  2. Now grease your hands GENEROUSLY (palms, backs, and in between fingers), then heavily grease the counter you will be using and dump the bowl of marshmallow/sugar mixture in the middle.
  3. Start kneading like you would bread dough. Keep kneading; it’s sticky at this stage! Add the rest of the powdered sugar and knead some more. Re-grease your hands and counter when the fondant starts sticking. If the mix is tearing easily, it is to dry, so add water (about 1/2 tablespoon at a time and then knead it in). It usually takes about 8 minutes to get a firm smooth elastic ball so that it will stretch without tearing when you apply it to the cake.
  4. It is best if you can let it sit, double wrapped, overnight (but you can use it right away if there are no tiny bits of dry powdered sugar). If you do see them, you will need to knead and maybe add a few more drops of water.
  5. Prepare the fondant icing for storing by coating it with a good layer of Crisco shortening, wrap in plastic wrap and put it in a re-sealable bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible.
  6. Marshmallow Fondant icing will hold very well in the refrigerator for weeks.

The recipe for good buttercream icing can be found in another post. Click for BUTTERCREAM LINK.

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Who stepped on the duck?

Why are farts so funny?
We all break an occasional wind, just like we all walk, talk, sneeze, or sleep. So why is the fart such a hilarious moment that needs to be celebrated with snickers and high fives.
Belly-busting for busting tail.

I live with three men (two under the age of eight and one who should be old enough to know better), but for some reason if anyone cuts the cheese all decorum is lost. Even the stink-eye from mommy can’t bring them back from the brink.

Taco and chili nights are the best gas-producing dinners (unfortunately meals that I don’t have to threaten or bribe them to eat.) And now that we’ve entered into spring, the produce section is teeming with the green leafy veggies, those toot-fueling monsters. I admonish, “eat your greens,” but with my trepidation knowing what vapors lurk in their little bowels yearning to break free.

The only thing funnier than a fooster from my boys would be one from me.
High fives all around.