Friday, October 30, 2009

The Most Gigantic, Super Scary, Pre-historic Moth

Oh my goodness.

I was leaving the apartment for work on Monday or Tuesday morning this is what I saw on the wall in the stairwell:

So, at first you might be thinking, it's not that big. Well, here's my hand so you can get an idea:

Yes - that is my hand. And that is that ginormous moth.

And here's the thing, you guys.

It has been there for like 4 days. FOUR DAYS!!! I don't know if it was there today - I didn't notice - but I was in a hurry. Anyway, the crazy thing is, it hasn't moved. And it's still alive. Maybe it is going to die there.

Until it does, though, I will continue to be freaked out every morning. This pic is of me the first morning I saw it, totally freaked out. By the way, I'm totally keeping it real in this pic. Confession: I put my mascara on in the car. White girls like me have zero pigment in the eyelashes, making it look like they are nonexistent. Probably shouldn't put mascara on the car...

Hopefully the moth doesn't kill me.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

And the Winner is.......

We had our 4th annual pumpkin carving competition, and right before we left the apartment, Mark and I picked out an awesome, super difficult, cool pumpkin pattern to carve. We got to the competition early,  started working before everyone else, and we finished after everyone else.

The judges arrived and everyone was sizing up their pumpkins to see who they thought would win. I have to be honest here. I REALLY thought we had it in the bag. I mean, we've had some good pumpkins over the last few years, but I felt like this year was a "down" year as far as the other pumpkins went. I really thought our pumpkin was above and beyond the level of the others.

No offense to the other competitors - they were all great, I'm just saying.

So - back to the judges.

They had it down to the top three (mind you, there were probably about 12 pumpkins or so in the competition). All thirty of us were outside, and the judges began to announce the top three. There were murmurings of..."Kathryn's got this in the bag" and  "Kathryn's is totally the best". The funny thing is, every year Mark and I have what most people would consider to be the best pumpkin, yet we continually get 2nd place. It's actually comical. So, we were all anxiously awaiting the reveal of the pumpkin. Third place came and went - and I knew our pumpkin was still up there... we were top two. (Big surprise).

So.... the judges began to reveal the "2nd place" pumpkin.



We cheered and pretended to be excited, and my brother-in-law started laughing hysterically. He said quietly amongst the crowd, "every year Kathryn has the best pumpkin, and every year she gets second place."

Now, you may wonder, "if hers really is the best, why doesn't it win?" Well, people, that's the problem we've been trying to overcome. It boils down to the judges. Judges get too sentimental. They let their kids vote. They like pumpkins with a certain "theme". Okay. As we mentioned previously, this is NOT ABOUT THE THEME. This is about the BEST. I mean I could carve a heart and probably win because the judges would like it because it's about love. Seriously. Ever heard of levels of difficulty? Did they even notice how hard my pumpkin was? THE SHADING???!!! BUT, since we've gotten beaten out by the theme issue before, this year, we went with the Halloween theme AND had the difficulty and awesomeness. We carved a wizard. Doesn't get anymore Halloween than that!

And who won first? My friends, Levi and Dayna, that I INVITED! They beat us. With an inferior pumpkin!

Anyway, so then, here I am, totally perplexed at how we didn't win. Then the judges come out with it. One of the judges totally throws the other under the bus and he's all like "Kathryn, I thought yours was the best". I'm thinking, then why the heck didn't we win? Then the other sentimental judge, starts talking about the eyes on the other pumpkin, the "winner". That the eyes were so cute because they were looking out the window. See below:

THE EYES??!!! That's why they beat us? THE EYES???!!!!! Oh my word.

So you want to see our pumpkin? Our "Should Be 1st Place Pumpkin"? (It's really hard to capture the awesomeness of our pumpkin because of the intricacies and a digital camera. I wish you guys could see it in person)

Yes, that's Harry Potter.

And everyone knew it was Harry Potter. And we didn't win.


Maybe next year....

Here's our family pic from the competition:


Monday, October 26, 2009

Cooking with Kat: Apple Pie with Dayna

***Tune in for the results of the pumpkin carving competition coming later this week! (-: ***

Okay, everyone! It's pie time! Fall is perfect for apple pie! You know the saying "easy as pie"? Well, it's really not hard, you just have to know how to do it. The apple pie we are making will have a very flaky crust and be filled with awesomeness. Make this and I PROMISE people will love it. It never fails - unless someone just doesn't know what good is! (-:

Also, the crust can be used for any type of pie, even chicken pot pie! (-: It's a staple recipe that is awesome.

So here's the recipe:

8 apples cut into 1/2 inch lengths (4 granny smith, 4 red delicious)
1 cup sugar
3 Tbls flour
1/4 teas salt
1 teas cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

2 cups sifted flour
1 cup crisco
1 tsp salt
6 Tbs ice water

Okay! First of all, here I am with my sweet friend Dayna, ready to make some pie!!!

So, first you work on your filling! The apples are obviously the focus of an apple pie, so it's important to get good ones. We used granny smith with red delicious in order to get a good mix of tartness with sweetness. You have to make sure your apples are the same size, or the tart/sweet with be stronger than the other.

So. You take your apples and peel and slice them. Dayna brought a handy dandy slicer/corer thing, so we used that, and then we peeled them by hand with knives. Here she is, in action:

This is about the size they should be, pre-peeled.

Next, you peel them until your finished apples look like this:

Next, you take your dry ingredients (sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon) and mix them together in a bowl.

Then you pour those ingredients on top of the apples and mix it together - by hand is really best. Go, Dayna, go!!

Then you set that bowl aside - the filling is just about done! Easy as pie! (-:

Next comes the crust. Okay people. I know. I've heard all the excuses. I've failed more than once at making my own crust. But don't we ALL agree they taste INFINITELY better than storebought? And doesn't it just make your heart happy knowing that you made your own crust? So, if it doesn't work the first time, try again! Occasionally, I still have to throw out a pie crust because it just doesn't work. But I just start another one! Live and learn. You can DEFINITELY DO THIS.

Okay.... here we go!!! Get excited!!

First, you sift out your flour. This old flour sifter was my Nana's. Every time I went to her house she would have pies ready for us, and she would always have leftover pie crust dough in the refrigerator because she knew how much I loved it.

Then you mix in your salt. Next is where it starts to get a little tricky (DO NOT FREAK OUT!) You are going to take the crisco, and mix it in with the flour and salt. The best way to do this is with a dough separator, as you can see below. A fork also works, but your hands really don't at this point. You want to get the crisco mixed in enough to where it is a coarse mixture of flour/crisco.

Once you have the flour and crisco mixed until coarse (the crisco pieces will be pea sized or smaller), you start mixing in your ice water. This part is where you really have to be on your toes. The water has to be ICE water, because once your dough is formed, you want it to maintain its shape so you can roll it out. As the crisco sets at room temperature, the dough will not be able to be worked with, so you have to work quickly. Mix the water in one Tbs at a time, until all six are in there, then comes the fun part. Use your hands to work the dough to where it is a firm ball. Don't knead it too much or the dough will become leathery and won't work. Work with it just enough to get it to a ball.

Here's Dayna, using her hands! Oh, take off your rings unless you want them covered in Crisco! (-:

Here's the ball of dough:

See all that flour? Yeah, that's how much you need when you start rolling the dough. And more. Cut the ball of dough in half, and put half in the fridge. What you see above is half of the dough. Okay now, remember, we are still working quickly. Put the dough down, and push it down, flip it, make sure both sides are covered in flour, and press again. Flip and cover with flour, and you are ready to roll... ha ha.... get it? ready to roll... anyway... so basically the concept here is that you have to keep a good amount of flour so the dough will not stick to A. the rolling pin or B. the countertop. Also, if you start using the rolling pin immediately, what will likely happen is the dough will crack all around the edges and you will be hard pressed to get one nice round piece of dough.

Now we start to roll the dough. Work from the middle out, and work clockwise (or counterclockwise - it really doesn't matter) around the dough, so that each side is getting equally thinner and rolled out. If you aren't sure how large to make it, take a pie plate and hold it over the rolled out dough to see if it will be enough to cover it.

Once the dough is rolled out, you are going to fold it in half, twice, so it looks like this:

Okay, oops, we already put it in the pie plate. Basically, once it's folded into quarters you can lift it much easier and put it in the pie plate, and then you can unfold it so it covers the entire plate. Then you can work with it to cut off excess or patch places that didn't quite get enough dough.

Next, you pour the apples into the crust, and take that 1/4 cup of butter and cut it up and dot the top of the apples with butter! Lookin' good, already!

Almost done, you guys! Hungry yet? (-:

Then you get out the other half of the dough and roll out your second pie crust, fold it into quarters, and lay it on top of the apple filling, and unfold.

Then you work around the crust, fixing it, so it looks all pretty! (-:

Then, use your fork to cut holes in the top of the pie so it is vented while cooking. You can use a knife, as well, and I usually cut some sort of shape in the middle, like a heart. yay!

Next, mix some sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle on top so it looks awesome!

Doesn't that look good? Okay, now you bake that pie for one hour at 350 degrees.....

Then you take the pie out and slice it and put ice cream on it and OH.MY.GOODNESS.

And here's our taste tester:

Okay, now, everyone, ready, set, and go bake a pie! I promise you will love it! (-:


Friday, October 23, 2009

My Little (Big) Pumpkin

I just couldn't resist:

Happy Friday, everyone!!!! Brinkley says Happy Halloween!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Soup Nazi

On Tuesday I ate lunch at a little restaurant that has wonderful sandwiches. I ordered a fancy sandwich, and chose the soup of the week for my side.

Pumpkin soup with cran-apple relish.

Before my order came out I was wondering if the soup would be good, and whether it would be hot or cold.

I got my plate, and felt the soup cup - it was warm. I got excited - I'm more of a hot soup kind of girl. So I tried the soup.

I don't think I can adequately describe the soup to you. It was divinity. Mostly savory, with a little sweet, it had chopped apples and whole cranberries in it a little, but it was definitely pumpkiny, with nutmeg. I mean, this stuff was awesome.

So now I had a dilemma. I didn't want that small cup of soup to be the only one like that I ever had. I start to think about how I would love to make this soup. I asked the waitress if they give out recipes, and she said she wasn't sure - I would have to talk to the owner. She did divulge, however, that they get their recipes from the internet or from customers sometimes. So I'm guessing it isn't an ORIGINAL recipe.

So, I sit there and think about the best way to politely phrase my question so that I might be able to get the soup recipe. I decided to go with flattery first.

(SIDE NOTE: a couple of years prior to this, they had given out a butternut squash soup recipe to my mom, so I know it's been done.)

So I go to check out, put on my biggest grin, and say how WONDERFUL the soup was. I then proceed to ask if I could have the recipe, or even buy it.

What does the not-so-friendly-owner-lady say?

SHE SAID NO. Then, to add insult to injury, she said, "No, but we can make you some." She could make me some. Really? REALLY?!! I then told her that I was from out of town, so that wouldn't really help me.

I was so mad. I don't get mad that often - maybe it was just the day, but that lady really infuriated me. I mean seriously. Does she think I'm going to move to her little town, build a restaurant next to her, and only serve Pumpkin Soup with Cran-Apple Relish all year long? I mean COME ON. The other thing is, I guarantee she only serves that soup seasonally, and more likely, one month out of the year. And did I mention this is not likely an original recipe? Is she really THAT worried?

I have a cookbook from "The Melting Pot" where they actually put their recipes in there. Famous restaurants do things like that. They share, because they realize, even if people can make it themselves, most of the time they don't want to go to the trouble and expense and will just go to the restaurant.

So, I left in a huff, and called Mark. I had him google soup with that title. He probably thought I was crazy. He only found one recipe with the exact title. And you better believe I'm going to be making it and figuring out how to make it like theirs.

And, then, when I do, maybe I will mass produce it and hand it out to all the customers at her little store.

(PS - if this makes me sound like a psycho, just tell me, and I won't rant on here anymore! I just had to get it out!)


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Bittersweet Day

***This post is a little sappy, so beware***

Yesterday I visited my alma mater for an all day event that was held there.  I have gone back to my college since graduation before, but yesterday, for some reason, I was overcome with emotions. I got a little choked up.

I know everyone’s collegiate experiences are different, but mine was extraordinary. I loved my school. I loved my professors, my friends, what I learned there, and how it changed me.

It’s always so odd going back to a place where you were once so integrated. I was flooded with memories yesterday and it was so overwhelming.

I walked into the student union and walked by the mail area. I saw the lady that always gave me a package if I had one in my mailbox. She was still there, handing a package to an excited student. The smells were so familiar. A student asked me if I would be interested in attending an on campus event – I informed her I wasn’t a student.

I saw my freshman dorm and thought about all the wonderful friendships I formed there and the fun nights my friends and I shared.

I ate at the tea room that a dear friend of mine and I used to eat at every Friday. But she doesn’t live there anymore, so I sat at a table alone, and kept an open seat in her honor.

I saw all the same buildings, the same walls. Yet the people were different. Some were the same, but they didn’t know me. And not that they should know me.  But in the past, familiar faces were everywhere. It was home. 

I saw a student and for a split second thought it was one of my classmates. Then I realized that no, he wouldn’t be there. He graduated.

I forgot how windy it was. As I walked across campus I had to grab my hair so it didn’t slap my face and wipe off my lip gloss. I remembered how many times I had to do that, and how frustrated I always got with that wind.

When I left it was dark. I remembered walking the campus at night and the evening scent there brought me back to nights of walking or jogging on campus and the time I spent praying while I was out there. It was almost instinctive to start praying once I stepped foot outside in the darkness on those sidewalks.

I talked to Mark on the phone while I was driving through campus and recalled the astronomical hours we spent on the phone that long distance portion of our dating, and then driving home on the weekends to see each other.

I thought about how my four years at that school so helped to shape me into the person I am now. My beliefs, my worldview, my relationship with the Lord, my friends. That school really dug deep into my heart. And not that I want to still be a student there. I know there is a time for everything. I remember that while I was there and hating studying, I always forced myself to enjoy those moments, because I knew there would be a day when they would only be memories.

As much as I love my life right now and am so thankful for everything, it’s a little sad remembering those precious days I won’t get to live through again.

So I work on making new memories and not wishing any days away. And I bought a hoodie from the school bookstore.

God Bless OBU.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Cooking With Kat: Chicken and Dumplings with Mom

This is the PERFECT time of year for chicken and dumplings! I had never made them before, so my wonderful mom came over and we made them together! yay!!!!

So first things first. Here's the recipe:

1 whole chicken
1 chopped onion
1 large stalk celery chopped fine
2 Tbs chicken granules (boullion)
1 c. milk
1 Tbs butter
salt and pepper

2 c. flour
1 ts salt
1 c. milk
3 heaping tsp BP
1/4 cup crisco

So here's whatcha do!

First of all, here's my beautiful mom chopping up the onions!

Chop up the onion and celery finely and then put in a large stockpot with water in it.

Then you drop in the big ole chicken!

Then you boil the chicken in the celery and onion until cooked, and until it easily falls apart. Here's a pic so you can know what that means. Because, "fall apart"? yeah it can be confusing. Really, I guess it's until the meat easily falls off the bone! Here my mom is lifting out portions because it is falling apart:

Then you tear up the chicken into pieces and REMOVE the bone - but really, the chicken is obviously REALLY hot, and we don't want any burns out there, so WAIT until the chicken is cooled to tear it into pieces. It can be whatever size you like, but small enough for someone to eat!

So then once the chicken is cooler and torn, you put it back in the pot  - but not necessarily ALL of it. I mean, a whole chicken is a lot. So maybe a couple cups, or more, depending on how meaty you want your chicken and dumplings! Then you put the butter, milk, and boullion and salt and pepper. I don't know how much, but you kind of need a lot. ha. (Remember, folks, this is NOT baking!) So just taste it already! (-:

So, while made was cooking up the soup, I started on the dumplings. They are made pretty much like biscuits. First, combine your dry ingredients, then put in your crisco and milk and mix well.

Then comes the fun part, use a spoon and get a dumpling size amount, and put the dumplings in the boiling broth until they are all in there...

And here's the pot, full of dumplings! Once you get them in there, you reduce the heat and cover, cooking them for 15 minutes. Turn them halfway through the cooking time to make sure they all get done. I actually didn't do that part because mine cooked with lid was on, but I have waterless cookware.... So just watch it.

So then, once the dumplings are done, it's ready to be eaten. YUM!!! but first, you have to break the wishbone!!!

Also, you can make more dumplings, as you might need more than that... Here's mom and her bowl!

And, unfortunately, I TOTALLY dropped the ball on the taste tester!!! Sorry guys... but you can take my word... it's YUMMY! (-:

But don't you worry, I already have my pics ready for my next segment... anyone like APPLE PIE???!!! And I have a tester for that.

Thanks, Mom!!! (-:

Happy Monday!
Enjoy this BEAUTIFUL fall!


Friday, October 16, 2009

A Funny Story for Friday

To preface this story, I must say that I find things funny that sometimes other people don't, so I apologize ahead of time if you get to the end of this and you're like... that wasn't funny. I laughed. A lot. But you never know. (-:

Okay, so a little backstory: this is my dog, Miguel:

So this week, my boss' daughter was in a car accident (everyone's okay, the car needs some work!). So with everything going on with that and people around, my boss's wife had used Mark's phone to call him. My boss had also been calling a collision repair shop often on his phone.

So yesterday, my boss goes to call the collision repair shop.

Mark's number was still in his phone from when his wife called him.

So instead of calling the collision repair place, my boss called Mark.

Mark was at work, and his cell phone rang and he answers:

"Hello, this is Mark"

My boss says, "Is Miguel there?"

To which Mark replies, "Umm..... no.... he's not here"

My boss thinks he's calling the car place, asking for Miguel the mechanic.

Mark thinks it's a prank call about our dog.

My boss says, "This isn't collision repair is it?"

ha ha ha ha ha

So then they realize who they are talking to. And what are the odds of that? Mark should have said, "no, Miguel's not here, but Brinkley's here if you want to talk to him!"

Happy Friday Everyone!!!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Neeeaarrrr..... Faaarrrrr..... WherEVEEERRR you heart will go on...

We went on a CRUISE! Like Titanic, except our ship didn't sink. I thought you might enjoy a few photos of this fabulous trip.

This is us on the airplane. I would like to say that I REALLY hate flying, but I dealt. We got a free meal on the plane, so that helped make up for it. Here we are... ready for the cruise!

We left out of Miami, and so after staying a night there we got on our ship. We had a "fun ship" (pun intended) and a fun time.

One of my favorite things on the ship was tea time. They had tea at 3:30 and they served little sandwiches and desserts and different tea flavors. I LOVE tea, so this was wonderful. And, inevitably, every time we were there, the pianist would play the Titanic theme. You'd think they'd leave that one out of the repertoire when we were in the middle of the ocean. Here's us at tea time:

At night on the ship we went to the formal dining place and that was yummy. I had chocolate melting cake 5 out of the 7 nights for dessert - it was really good. Our servers were so great, as well, and LOTS of fun. Here we are, all decked out for one of the formal nights:

Our favorite stop was Grand Cayman. The only bummer was that that morning I woke up with HORRIBLE neck pain to where I could only have my neck tilted to the left at a certain angle or experience excruitiating pain, so in all the pics my head is slanted like a big dork. Here I am buried in the sand, with my neck slanted:

That was the only day I got sunburned, and it was on the right side of my neck from having it tilted in the sun all day. ha.

Mark's favorite thing on the ship was the piano bar. He and Levi hung out there a LOT. They got to sing along and request songs and they had a great time, so I had to show a pic of that:

While the boys were doing that, Dayna and I decided to hit the casino... okay we didn't really, but we took a pic:

I also LOVED how they made up our rooms TWICE each day. They made the bed in the morning and then at night they turned it down and put out those awesome chocolate mints and also made cute towel animals like this seal:

Mark totally karaoked while we where there. I need to get a video of that. He sang "Day-O" and man, was it hilarious. That was out on the deck by one of the pools. Here's me embodying the spirit of the seal by a pool:

At night we went to some of the shows on the ship. Here we are, ready for the show! WOO!

We had a great time, and it was fun to go with friends. We also really enjoyed the sushi bar, I enjoyed the free movie channels, I enjoyed the food (although I do admit it wasn't as good as Royal Caribbean's food for me), I loved the ocean, and I loved getting to sleep.

Quick poll, for you cruisers out there, what is your favorite cruise line, and why?
Here's a pic of all of us. We spent like an hour trying to get a good photo, and I think this is the best we came up with. This is really hard to do...

Anyone want to meet on the Lido deck tomorrow morning for breakfast? Oh... wait... we're not on the ship anymore.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Boss's Day Palooza

Today we are celebrating Boss's Day in our office. I'm a "go big or go home" kind of gal, so I decided to go big. Plus, if you have a great boss, you really have to celebrate.

Here's a photo of my boss' office this morning before he arrived at work:

So basically I put up streamers and balloons. Oh, and a pretty awesome crown that was once used in a Christmas program. I had to include that.

Since they don't make Boss's Day Banners... I had to improvise....

Yes, we are fancy around here. Here's the poster I made with reasons why my boss is great. I'm pretty proud of this, if I do say so myself.

The gift I got him is pretty awesome, as well. Any fans of the office?

Yes, that is Michael Scott's mug. My boss now has one, too. 

Okay - and here's the Boss Man himself.... he just arrived so I'm adding this photo:

For food items, I made an apple pie. Recipe to come soon in a cooking segment on here! (-:



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