Saturday, April 30, 2011

Summer Plans

I found this great photo on one of the multiple blogs I read.  I can't remember the last time I made a summer list with any hope of finishing any of it.  As I've gotten older, I find the concept of "self-editing" at times to be a crippling attitude.  Why put it on a list, my older self seems to say, if you know it won't get done/get finished or even be started?  The energy level starts out at about 70% of what my thirty-year old self used to have (maybe 50%?) and goes downhill from there, so that by the end of the day, I'm reduced to clicking my way through the web and drooling as I read about other people's productivity.

But the sign above doesn't just speak to productivity--it's about experience.  I love the entries "learn some Spanish" and "back-yard movie night."  (I have to assume also that "make paella" is more the child's mother choice, than the child.)  So, in this spirit of experience (and well, some productivity), here's my first run at a Summer: The Extended List.

Drive through a small town
Get a tan on my legs
Make a berry shortcake
Travel to family reunion

It's a start.  Now to find some poster paint and a cute child to hold it up.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Yes, Dave and I are up at 3:19 in the morning in California, watching a young couple halfway around the world get married.  The Brits really do it right, we've decided, from the ultra-shiny cars, to the pomp and circumstance and the heraldic trumpets.  We also liked the cheering crowds, heard over the ceremony's words, cheering at the critical parts.  Here's some screenshots. (Sorry they're so small.)

All images are taken from the live feed from Buckingham Palace's YouTube Channel: The Royal Channel.  The palace (and other news services) have done a great job in keeping us wedding-o-philes filled in on all the details.  Like the fact that the trees, shown above, cost 80, 000 pounds to place inside Westminster Abbey.  They also released the wedding program.  The hymn, by John Rutter, "specially commissioned by the Dean and Chapter of Westminster "was beautiful.

This is the day which the Lord hath made: we will rejoice and be glad in it.
O praise the Lord of heav’n: praise him in the height.
Praise him, all ye angels of his: praise him, all his host.
Praise him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars and light.
Let them praise the name of the Lord.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee: to keep thee in all thy ways.
The Lord himself is thy keeper: the Lord is thy defence upon thy right hand; so that the sun shall not burn thee by day: neither the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: yea, it is even he that shall keep thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in: from this time forth for evermore. He shall defend thee under his wings.
Be strong, and he shall comfort thine heart, and put thou thy trust in the Lord.

The  address, by "The Right Reverend and Right Honourable Dr. Richard Chartres, K.C.V.O.
Lord Bishop of London and Dean of Her Majesty’s Chapels Royal" was lovely.  I'll hunt for it later on the web--hope they publish the remarks.

Congratulations to Catherine and William!

Updated. I found the Lord Bishop's address:

‘“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.
‘Many are full of fear for the future of the prospects of our world but the message of the celebrations in this country and far beyond its shores is the right one – this is a joyful day! It is good that people in every continent are able to share in these celebrations because this is, as every wedding day should be, a day of hope.  In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future. 
‘William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.
‘And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.
‘A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.
‘It is of course very hard to wean ourselves away from self-centredness. And people can dream of doing such a thing but the hope should be fulfilled it is necessary a solemn decision that, whatever the difficulties, we are committed to the way of generous love.
‘You have both made your decision today – “I will” – and by making this new relationship, you have aligned yourselves with what we believe is the way in which life is spiritually evolving, and which will lead to a creative future for the human race.
‘We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril. Human beings are confronting the question of how to use wisely a power that has been given to us through the discoveries of the last century. We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.
‘Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coercion if the Spirit is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom. Chaucer, the London poet, sums it up in a pithy phrase:
‘“Whan maistrie [mastery] comth, the God of Love anon,
Beteth his wynges, and farewell, he is gon.”
‘As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive, we need mutual forgiveness, to thrive.
‘As we move towards our partner in love, following the example of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is quickened within us and can increasingly fill our lives with light. This leads to a family life which offers the best conditions in which the next generation can practise and exchange those gifts which can overcome fear and division and incubate the coming world of the Spirit, whose fruits are love and joy and peace.
‘I pray that all of us present and the many millions watching this ceremony and sharing in your joy today, will do everything in our power to support and uphold you in your new life. And I pray that God will bless you in the way of life that you have chosen, that way which is expressed in the prayer that you have composed together in preparation for this day:
‘God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.
‘In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.
‘Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding

This is what I purchased as my souvenir: a Royal Wedding Cup with the picture of Kate and William on the front and a tiny one just below the lip of the cup at the back.

The bottom of the cup, as if you didn't have enough reminders on the rest of when the Big Event is taking place.

It's a relative to the one I have when Lady Diana Spencer married William's father, Prince Charles.  I'd asked someone to get one for me when they were traveling to England, as there wasn't Amazon or the internet yet. It's pretty funky looking.

And Diana's is a relative to the cup I bought at the time of Queen Elizabeth's Jubliee.  This was from a catalogue.

It kneels in homage to the Queen.
All the cups with feet were made by Carlton and were called "walkingware."  You can find some on Etsy now, but Carlton no longer makes them.  In fact they basically shut down the factory and now only produce "collectibles" in batches.  I tried to find a walkingware cup for Kate/William's wedding, but to no avail.

Here are all the Royal Souvenir Cups together: William, Diana, and the Queen.  I'm looking forward to the Royal Wedding, where I'm sure that Kate and William will be cheered on by many friends.

"Foot" note:
The three eggs cups (one for each child at the time).  
One of them had catastrophic damage done to it when the babysitter was trying to hit a fly and hit the egg cup instead.  I didn't find out about it for some time as the babysitter had glued it all back together with Elmer's glue.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Royal Wedding Souvenirs

Now you can have a cross-stitched sampler of Kate Middleton!  Prelude to the wedding on Thursday, the Guardian published this for its stitching fans.  No?

Then how about a poster celebrating the big day?  Not for you?

Here's another sampler, this time in simple colors. Still no?

Then how about some pizza?

Next post, I reveal what I bought to commemorate the Big Event.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Eggs

I made up some little treats for my family over Easter.

I'd read about this over on GiversLog.  Amber Lee likes to mail strange and wonderful things, and she posted about doing this.  I thought I'd like to try it, so I bought some eggs, some wind-up toys, some candy.

I printed up little notes, and tucked them inside.

I wrapped the seams with sticky tape, then put address labels on them.  I taped over the addresses with packing tape because I was worried about them coming off.  When I took them to the Post Office, the counter clerk smiled as he weighed each one.  I smoothed out the postage label, and then he took my bag from me, filled it up with eggs (smiling all the while) and plopped them all in the giant bin. I made up twelve, and all but one arrived.  Not a bad event, all in all!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

L plus 6 hours

Yes, it's over.  
I woke up this morning at 4 a.m., lay in bed for a while and finally gave up at 5 a.m.  After getting ready, packing the car up (again), and trying to eat breakfast (I couldn't) I was on the road at 6:55 a.m.  Only 5 minutes behind schedule.  Not bad. A stop to pick up the 18 boxes of spinach brought further freak-out when she saw me and said, "I have your 8 boxes."  I guess she saw the look on my face and the panic in my voice, but happily they managed to find the other 10, and I was on my way. 

Lots of lugging in from the car.  Dave was headed over to Costco to get the rolls.  Here are all the million batches of cakes, wrapped in foil.

Here I am, a poster child for the ingredients for the chocolate ganache: butter, cream, chocolate.  So I made up one batch and when I came back to it after some time, there were little bubbles in it, and it looked lumpy, greasy.  So I made a new batch, and that one was silky smooth--and I barely let it heat up before I turned off the burner.  It's hard to figure out someone else's stovetop.

Sue started on washing the mini-pearl grape tomatoes and draining the cornichons (little French pickles), so the crew could start putting together the garnishes.

Take one tomato, one cornichon, and spear it onto the pick.

The presidency of our women's organization stopped by.  We all look pretty dolled up for 8:00 in the morning!

 Dave and Carrie work on slicing open the rolls, and stuffing them with either turkey or ham.

Lora is spreading the "jam" onto the cake tops. 

I wanted a shot of her putting the kumquat decoration on, but she told me no more photos!

The cake, ready to go out onto the tables. You try putting 10 almonds around the cake, evenly spaced.  I had to re-do a few.

Here it is, bird's-eye view.  The quinoa salad is lower, the confetti pasta salad, upper, and Le Petit Sandwich (with garnish).  The chocolate eggs are decoration.  I snagged one at one point, but lost it again.

Robyn, Jana and Sue in their assembly line. I had an amazing crew of women who really made the process feel easy and relaxed.  They were so efficient, we were all done with all the plating, the setting out by 11:00 a.m.  So the kitchen crew sat down to eat.  It felt really good to sit down!

 Here it all is, waiting for the ladies to get out of their workshops. Photo courtesy of Dave, because I was running around like the proverbial headless chicken.  Or something.

I like this photo of Dave's because the woman in the orange shirt is reading off my table card to the woman in the white.  Apparently a lot of the table cards had been taken when the helpers went to break down the table settings.  We had a lot of nice comments about the food.  One woman said she looked at her plate, "and there wasn't a marshmallow in sight!" referring to the CoolWhipMarshmallowPudding side dish that is often served. She was thrilled. Another noted that we "didn't have that old Chinese Chicken Salad" entree.  Which I do like.  Just not every time we have a luncheon.  I had one woman happy as can be that we had a gluten-free dish (the quinoa).  Many of the salad-bringers commented on all the vegetables and the chopping and that they now had new dish in their repertoire. 

Because of all the great help we had, the kitchen was cleared out, dishes done and Dave and I were headed home by 1:15.  It's over.  The Great Luncheon Caper is complete.  Guess what we're having for dinner?  Yep.  Pasta and quinoa salad with Le Petit Sandwiches (complete with garnish).

Friday, April 15, 2011

L minus 19 Hours

The luncheon is 19 hours from now and the feeling I have is like the opening scene from Cats, the Broadway musical.  The cats are prowling, meowing around the stage and all of a sudden a giant shoe drops from the ceiling.

I've several people think that they needed to triple the recipe (because I mentioned somewhere in the directions that it was tripled).  So instead of sweating that I may not have enough salad, I may be drowning in Quinoa, Corn and Edamame Salad.  Or Confetti Pasta Salad. (Links to the single recipe's amounts are at the bottom of those entries.)

I made table cards listing the menu and where the recipes could be found, but forgot to mention that they needed to cut the cakes near them (we're putting them out on the table) into 10 servings.  So, above you see the cake signs.

Some people said they can't find Herbes de Provence.  A pinch of rosemary, pinch of oregano, a pinch of thyme, I tell them--use that instead, and hope that it's reasonably close.  I forgot to buy one helper's ingredients.  She'll get it, she said.

I spent the morning in the car dealer's getting a tune-up for the car.  You have a nail in your tire, they said.  It will have to stay there until Monday, I said.  I picked up the tomatoes from Trader Joe's--not a hitch--but the spinach that I'd ordered from Smart and Final--first 30 boxes, then I called back the next day and revised the order downward to 20--is all in and ready for me to pick it up tomorrow.  And wouldn't you know it--they have 30 boxes for me. I take a lot of deep breaths.  Say a lot of prayers.  Hope that the 300 women coming tomorrow like the menu, the salads, the cake.  And spinach.

L minus 18 3/4 and I'm waiting for that shoe to drop.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Lunch for 300

Recently I agreed to put together a luncheon for 300 women to held at a conference hosted by our church.  I agreed to this after some thought.  The church I belong to encourages fellowship and we, as are any other church women, are known for our adherence to the concept of Casserole Community--that is, we like to eat while we visit, chat, fellowship, and commune with each other. And as a famous baseball movie once said, "If you serve it, they will come."

Shortly after I agreed to this, I began freaking out. The idea of the menu came to me quickly (heavenly inspiration--I'm sure of it) and with some slight modifications is the same basic idea.  I made sample batches of each salad and took pictures on every steps, made new posts for the recipes, put them up on, recruited volunteers to make the salads and I was off!

Nearly every day since that time, I've been baking, working on cost spreadsheets, comparison shopping, real shopping.  Here's some photos from the baking spree of 11 batches of triple-layer cake.  I made six batches and my friend Wendy made five, of which I'll be eternally grateful.

I washed twenty-five pounds of oranges, then peeled them (the rind went into the cake; Dave helped with this).  Naked oranges are on the right, near the sink.

The juice is boiled down to make a jam.  I burned the first five batches because I tried to cook all the juice at once; it took so long, it made it bitter and burnt tasting.  (Toss that.)  So after that, each batch got its own pan.  Here's one round of three batches.

The last of 11 batches of cake, cooling on the racks.

A touch of sunshine to finish up this part of the task.  
Now to make one more batch of each salad, print off the table menu cards, pick up 30 boxes of spinach leaves, 30 dozen Costco rolls, 40 containers of lunch meats stashed at a friend's house, half my kitchen's pots, pans and knives, 32 gold foil cardboard cake platters, 12 bottles of cornichons, six cartons of grape tomatoes (note to self: call Trade Joe's to verify order), 6 twenty-pound bags of ice and all the other stuff in the dining room and get it all the Stake Center next Saturday. 

Note to all: don't call me next Saturday afternoon.  I'll be comatose.