Saturday, July 25, 2009

So while in Vegas I saw these totally cute aprons by Kaydee Designs that I think I am just have to break down and buy... The one that I really want (top picture) has a herringbone black and white print on the bottom and a pink bow and straps and says 'Domestic Diva' on it because, face it, that's what I am! (Not really!) It is just too darn cute not to buy!

SYTYCD Weeks 5, 6 & 7

I still can't believe how good SYTYCD has been this summer. The couples are just fantastic. So week 5 had Ade & Melissa in the bottom! After their great disco and waltz!! I was disappointed to see that but neither went home so it was ok. Ade's 'dance for your life' solo was phenomenal! So I was happy to see that. He just always looks so joyful when he is dancing. He has a gorgeous smile that just lights up the room. And the Seven Nation Army (by The White Stripes) group piece was pretty good. Caitlin and Phillip ended up leaving. BUT they still get to go on tour with the Top 10 which I thought was a nice enough prize as long as Caitlin & Jason don't end up doing that stupid alien dance. I did see the end of the show while we were in Vegas since we were in pretty early because of the time difference so I knew who went home.

Week 6:
The Top 10! New Partners! I have said that my favorite partners were Melissa & Ade and Brandon & Janette from the beginning... well tonight they just ended up switching! I still get my fave 4 together! The 5 girls started the night with a Bollywood dance that was fantastic. I am really digging the fact that they have brought Bollywood onto the show. Kayla & Evan did a respectable Vienesse waltz despite their height difference. Well, Evan wore heels and Kayla was barefoot (with a jewelled strap top thing that made it look like she had shoes on). I really did think it was beautiful. Evan makes lifts look effortless even though he is short and doesn't seem to be super muscular but I guess he's strong. Brandon's solo was fabulous! He had the best solo of the evening. Ade & Janette did a super cool and funky hip hop number. That was my second favorite of the night. Both of them just look great no matter what style they are doing. Jason & Jeanine were next with my favorite number of the night choreographed by Travis from Season 2. It was a contemporary piece to If It Kills Me by Jason Mraz and man, oh man, it was SO passionate and so believable that I wondered if they had a relationship off stage (which I don't think they have time for...). Kupono & Randi's Paso Doble was awful. I didn't like it one bit. And as a result they went home on Thursday. Melissa and Brandon's Aquarius piece was great. Brandon is so strong and athletic that it just astounds me. At one point he did a move that was a forward roll into a standing straddle on the balls of his feet that I had to watch over and over because it was amazing. The boys did an African dance that was high energy and exhausting to watch! It was fantastic! On Thursday they did a group Asian fusion number that was good. That's it for week 6!

Week 7:
Ellen was a guest judge tonight and was adorable as ever! I love her. She's funny. They opened the show with the glowing contemporary fusion group dance choreographed by Season 2's Travis. Great! I was digging the glowy things they were wearing!! Evan & Janette were up first and did a jazz piece that was fun. They followed up with a rhumba that was ok except for the 'thread the needle' move that was really cool. Janette is a firecracker. Nigel said something dumb about Evan's eyelids being heavy which I believe made the audience rally back and vote for him. He should have gone home on Thursday but he didn't and he wasn't even in the bottom 2! Nigel, FYI, you can't change your freaking eyelids so don't rag on Evan's- they had NOTHING to do with the dance! He's not 'sexy' and you can't change that either. He's got a fan base regardless. But Janette, even though she was excellent in both dances (Evan brought her down...) ended up going home which was such a shame. Brandon & Jeanine were paired together for a really S-L-O-W waltz. It was good but what was that choreographer thinking? Is he trying to send them home? The song was snooze inducing. It had nice controlled lifts though. Then they had a pop jazz piece that was excellent. Again, Brandon has this really athletic way to him and did especially awesome. But HE ended up in the bottom 2 (but didn't go home!) on Thursday. Ade & Melissa were back together again! Yay! Although, Eeeek!, their first dance a cha cha wasn't very good but I liked the end move. I was scared they'd be in the bottom since they were the last 2 weeks... until their next piece which was SO beautiful and after that anyone would have to be crazy NOT to vote for them. Tyce choreographed a number about breast cancer and it was so moving and emotional that the whole audience and all the judges were crying. M&A were the absolute right couple to dance it. The lifts (or should I say catches?) were so trusting of each other. Melissa jumped into Ade's arms from a distance away that could have gone horribly wrong but because of the trust it was amazing and flawless. Kayla & Jason did really well tonight together (too bad Jason went home on Thursday). Their first dance was Broadway and was VERY good as was their zombie hip hop. So cool. As far as solos, Ade and Jeanine's really stood out as being excellent. Jeanine chose Let the Drummer Kick by Citizen Copeand had really controlled movement to the music which was really cool. On Thursday they did a group piece to One from Chorus Line that was good. They also broght back a few Emmy winning dances from a couple of other seasons. The Bench (Travis & Heidi- Season 2), Ramalama (Wade Robson's group number from season 2) and The Hummingbird and the Flower (Huk & Jamie (I couldn't remember her name in an earlier post!)- Season 3). Yay! I loved all 3 of those dances so it was fun to see them again! Katie Holmes also performed? Not sure what the heck they were talking about... It was a televised performance- I thought she was going to be on the SYTYCD stage. That was my impression. Anyway, she sucked. Boo!

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Watcher In the Woods

I was on Barnes & Noble's website looking for the cover art for In the Woods by Tana French when I saw The Watcher in the Woods DVD. Have you ever seen this movie? It used to freak me out when I was a kid but we still watched it over and over and over and pretended that she was coming to get us in the very small 'woods' behind my neighbor's house. I caught it on HBO or SHO a few months back and was horrified by how bad it was. Why was I so compelled by this movie? I have no idea but some of the TV shows that we watched in the early eighties were pretty bad as well. Remember Small Wonder with the weird 'robotic' girl or Rags to Riches? What were some of your favorite more obscure (in that we never hear about them anymore!) TV shows? I know I was also a fan of V which is being redone but I don't think I'll watch it this time around. (Poochie, anyone?) Oh the corniness of the eighties! :)

Book Review: Another Day in the Milky Way by David Milgrim

This book is an absolutely darling book for young children! The illustrations are so darn cute!! I loved it (I'm not sure if AJ even liked it but I did so...)! I just ordered it for AJ's bookshelf from Barnes & Noble (which is also where I snag all my book pictures). Give it a read if you have little ones!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Book Review: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Ahhhh, the final book in the Twilight saga. It was great. Ended just like you want a book to end. I thought it was a little bizarre but I don't want to spoil it so I won't tell you why. The one thing I did notice, and this is true of Harry Potter too, is that if they cut out a lot of the 'fluff' this would be a more managable book and not as long. I kept thinking, 'Come on, come on, get on with it!' It was pretty predictable... but I did enjoy reading it thoroughly. I'm not going to read them again though so off they go with a large assortment of other books to be donated to the library. I finished it the day before we went to Vegas which was good because I did not want to lug that big book there! I am reading In the Woods by Tana French which is REALLY good. I don't want to put it down at night but sleepy eyes win that battle. I am looking forward to reading French's follow up book, The Likeness, as well. Already bought it at Sam's!

Another Party!

Yes, we had another party! Ten days after the last one... Am I a glutton for punishment or what? Every year on the Fourth of July weekend we host a family party for Steve's mom's side. Twenty-two people (8 of which are kids). It's growing by at least 2 feet in 2010... :) This one is pretty low key. I did a taco bar this year (and last). Pretty much everything out of a can/bag! I made more pretzel kisses this time with red, white & blue M&Ms. I'll post the recipe for Chicken Soft Tacos & Taco Dip in another post- two very tasty (and easy!) recipes that are suitable for a crowd.

I made the invitations again- this one is a pocket flap card so the written portion comes out of a folder type pocket inside. I love this paper with the fireworks! Glittery and perfect! I am always looking for decent paper with fireworks on it and this one is the best one I found on my many years quest. It is by Best Creation Inc. The silver cord has red and blue beads laced onto it. The star is wire wrapped and has wire curly cues as well as a red rhinestone in the center. I love it!
The party was a success except for the fact that I couldn't find the plugs for the swimming pool. Grrrrr! They are somewhere in the house. I know I have seen them since we moved. Steve's parents came on Friday and they helped clean and organize our garage! Thanks, we definitely appreciate it! And they babysat so we could go out for my birthday (on the 2nd) to the Great Dane, my new favorite restaurant in town. I had a hot wing chicken pizza that was AWESOME!! It had buffalo chicken with a gorgonzola cheese and a garlic oil- YUM. It was just so good that after every bite I said 'mmmmmm'. It is nice to see the whole family since this is usually the only time we do. One family in MN, one in TX and Steve's parents in FL but every year they are here in WI for the 4th. Yay!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Party, Party, Party!

Back in June we had a party for some of the work types at Steve's office. These were the invitations that I made. The wings of the dragonfly are glittery and the eyes are tiny rhinestones. The grass is made from green vellum and the cattails are a brown handmade paper. This is a pocket card so the written portion of the invitation slides out of the top.

I made a bunch of new recipes for this party, which I think is kind of daring. I have no idea why I did that but they all turned out pretty well. Of course there were menus and a wine/drink list that matched the invitations as only I am crazy enough to spend the time to do that but I like our guests to know what they are eating and drinking!

I hired a lady to clean our house the day of... and she never showed up! Or called! I called twice only to hear answering machines. I was big time peeved as I then had to spend an unexpected 3 hours cleaning which I could have done a couple of days before instead. It is a good thing that I had a lot of the food prepared the day before.

The Menu:
You can click on the blue items for the recipes!!
*Turkey Tenderloin Sandwiches
*Beef Tenderloin Sandwiches
(I had a caterer make the meat and supply the rolls, but I wish I would have just made it myself since I think it would have been better.)
*Chipolte Aioli (I'll post this recipe later- yum)
*Whole Grain Mustard Aioli (very good- several people asked for recipe which is originally served with roasted french fries)
*Warm Goat Cheese Toasts with Rosemary, Honey & Walnuts
*Caprese Skewers (great presentation & color and very yummy!)
*Crudite with Chive & Garlic Dip or Southwestern Dip
*Spinach & Artichoke Dip with Pita Chips (no one had any idea it was light! I used the whole pkg of spinach in the recipe)
*Fabulous Pesto Pasta Salad (although it was not 'fabulous' more like 'decent')
*Cheese platter featuring White Cheddar, Gouda, Chipolte Cheddar, Blue & Dill Havarti (there was also a sheep's milk cheese with black truffles that my mom gave me because she didn't like it. I never even got to try it but if they didn't like it I probably wouldn't...)
*Orange Chipolte Spiced Pecan Mix (I am going to use the leftovers (they are in the freezer) in cookies. They didn't go over really well. But I think the cookies could be pretty good and very different...)
Sweet Treats:
*Oreo Truffles (I got this recipe from my blogger buddy easy, so good and so hard NOT to keep your fingers out of. Everyone was asking for the recipe.)
*Lemon Cranberry Shortbread (I will post the recipe on a different post- so light and refreshing! My mom had made these for my baby shower.)
*Pretzel Kisses (I blogged about this one already! Yummy! I got M&Ms to go with the invitation colors... crazy, I know!!)
*Rolo Pretzel Turtles
*Cool Peppermint Brownies
*Chinese Chews
*Honey Basil Cookies (people are afraid of these because of the ingredients but I love them and once they get over it they love them too! I'll post the recipe another time.)
*Caramel Sticks (kind of similar to Blondies)

Needless to say, we had food leftover! The desserts went into work with Steve the next morning where they were appreciated by everyone!! :)

The Drink Menu:
Root:1 2008 Sauvignon Blanc (Never got opened...)
Kung Fu Girl 2007 Riesling (This is outstanding! I am a red wine drinker but this was great!!)
Root:1 2007 Carmenere ('The devil's grape'- pretty good)
Beringer Founders' Estate 2007 Pinot Noir (Never got opened)
Old Vine Red Lot #49 (Another great wine. This was enjoyed late into the night...)
Sparkling Sangria (Very nice but I think I like red sangria better)
Beer: Anchor Steam, Spaten, Rolling Rock, Heineken, Miller Lite, Stella Artois, Goose Island Honker's Ale

We moved into our house in August 2008 and this party really pushed us to hang the art that was leaning against the walls and do the little projects that needed to get done (like buy a shower curtain for the guest room/basement bathroom, clean the silicone off the tub from when we took out the shower doors, etc.) which I am glad for! I don't know when it would have gotten done otherwise...

It turned out to be a great party. We didn't get to utilize the deck like I thought we would because it was a bit warm & humid but we hung out there late that night with a few stragglers. Fun, fun for everyone!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book Review: 3 Willows by Ann Brashares

I have posted before that I really liked The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and this book is about a different group of girls from the same town as that group only they are younger. Their story is about the summer between 8th and 9th grades. It was good but nothing fabulous and would be suitable for a pre-teen to read. One thing I really liked about it was that they pulled the girls from Pants into it in little ways (like Polly babysat for Tibby's siblings and Lena's sister worked at the same retaurant as Jo, etc) and the Willows totally idolized them. It taughht a lot about self-esteem and friendship.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

SYTYCD: Weeks 3, 4 & 5

I know I am behind but I had a really busy three weeks and now tomorrow S & I leave for Vegas... Steve gave me a trip to Vegas for my birthday for this weekend (my bday was July 2nd and with the 4th... obviously it makes more sense to go the weekend after) that he has been planning since March!! This is his biggest surprise since he propsed to me 9 years ago. He had his sister pay for it since he knew I'd see the credit card bill and arranged babysitting for AJ with my parents... Crafty boy. Plus if just going to Vegas weren't enough, he snuck in a spa package for me at Bellagio for Friday morning. Say it with me... "Awwwwww. He's so sweet!!" I know. I lucked out.

Anyway, back to SYTYCD!! Did I mention that I watch the dances twice? Sometimes even 3 times... I'd love to get all the seasons on DVD just to watch the dancers evolve again. Hmmmm, wonder what those kids are doing these days from seasons 1-4...

Week 3:
Melissa & Ade, Brandon & Janette and Randi & Evan were my favorites from this week. Melissa & Ade did a fabulous Rhumba. It was hot and sexy. Usually I don't like the rhumba (I don't like it on DWTS anyway...) but SYTYCD has more freedom and is allowed lifts so it makes it so much better. M&A have awesome chemistry as do Brandon & Janette who did a super fun hip hop routine from David Scott. It was fresh & just plain slammin'. Randi & Evan's 'butt dance' choreographed by Mia Michaels was SO, SO cute. It was a really fun piece! Kupono & Kayla's Viennese Waltz was very pretty and elegant too. The other dances didn't do much for me. The Thursday night results show always has a dance by the whole group and this one was HOT, HOT, HOT!! I loved it. That was actually my favorite dance of week 3. Jonathan & Asuka were voted off. Shucks. Not really. I'm not sad.

Week 4:
Cat Deely (the host) looked so adorable in her super cute hot pink frock. She can pull ANYTHING off. Again Melissa & Ade and Brandon & Janette had my favorite routines. Do you see a pattern with me? I love these 4. I am bummed for week 6 when the partners split. Melissa & Ade did a classical ballet. Melissa is a ballet dancer and I think they did this on purpose to have it featured on the show since you can't just give someone classical ballet and expect them to do anything with it. Both danced beautifully in the Romeo & Juliet piece. Simply gorgeous. Brandon & Janette's Cha Cha was banging. I think Brandon can do it all but Janette is right there with him. When she tried out she did this split kick in the air upside down that was un-freaking-believable! She is a hot tamale. I also liked Vitolio & Karla's Quick Step to Puttin' on the Ritz and Randi & Evan's Broadway piece. It was kind of a shame to see Vitolio and Karla go after doing that piece because after the freakin' bizzaro alien piece that Caitlin & Jason did I thought they would at least be in the bottom 3 but they weren't. Weird. Although out of the 3, V&K were the ones I would've picked. Thursday's group Broadway piece was fun too.

Week 5:
Two dances per couple!!! Oh yeah!! Tonight was awesome! Cat looked so cute. Her dress (and hair and lipstick I might add) looked great on her. What doesn't though? Brandon & Janette were my clear faves with Melissa & Ade coming in second. Power couples... But all the dances were good. Melissa & Ade did a Disco that was Dyn-o-mite! and a waltz that was beautiful. Kupono and Kayla did a contemporary piece about addiction that was super intense and a Broadway West Side Story piece that was decent. Caitlin & Jason did a GREAT foxtrot and a lyrical jazz piece that I really liked. Phillip & Jeanine's Russian Folk Dance was good for what they got- but not my shot of Vodka. I think the judges (except for Tyce who said exactly what I am saying) were a little harsh on them b/c they didn't like the style of dance not the way it was danced. So obviously don't hire the Russian folk choreographers again if you don't like their cabbage. But P&J's jive? AWESOME! They did it well. Fun & flirty. Randi & Evan's hip hop dance totally suited them- clean cut and not urban. Their samba was good. And finally Brandon & Janette. Hot damn. They were somethin' fierce tonight. Their Argentine Tango was superb. Sexy and just plain hot. And their jazz piece by Wade Robson (God of dance...) AMAZING! And done to one of my all time faves- Ruby Blue by Roisin Murphy (I love Roisin Murphy!!!)! Yay! Such a fun and cool piece. That may be my favorite of the season so far... I am very curious to see who goes home tomorrow night but I'll be in Vegas so I'll let my DVR do the work and find out on Sunday...