Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Movie Reviews

It's been a while and Bryan and I have manged to watch a few movies from our Netflicks queue. By the way, our queue is over 300 movies long. We will never, ever get to the end of it.

Really cute movie about a pregnant waitress in the South, stuck in an emotionally abusive marriage and dead-end job. I loved Kerri Russel in this movie - she is adorable! I did have to suspend my disbelief as she made pies - it seemed like she kept making a ganache and pouring it into a pie crust. If you do not bake, this will not bother you in the slightest.

At the end of the movie is a memorial for the writer/director shown below on the far left. She played one of the leading roles in the film and was murdered before the movie came out. Such a sad story - she was married and the mother of a two-year old little girl who plays Kerri Russel's child in the film. Kerri was also pregnant during the filming.

Bryan and I both LOVED this little film!
A modern day musical set on the streets of Dublin. Featuring Glen Hansard from the Irish band "The Frames," the film tells the story of a street musician and a Czech immigrant during an eventful week as they write, rehearse and record songs that reveal their unique love story.

The actors in the film have never acted before and they wrote all of the music for the film. One of the songs just won the academy award for best song. The music is really beautiful and the story is wonderful - well written and so very real. Go over to the website for the movie and listen to "Falling Slowly" - my favorite song from the film.

One word of caution if you do not care for swearing (which I do not). In the first scene, Glen's guitar case is stolen and he chases after the guy in the street and they drop about 50 f*bombs!! The scene lasts about 5 minutes and the rest of the film is very clean except for a few more language spots. Excellent film.

Long Birthdays

Max is officially 8, but I have not managed to send out any invitations to his party (maybe he'll forget about it?!). He did however, get a nice package from his Grandparents Erickson and had a great time opening it. His favorite part - the Happy Potter card and bookmark. It does not take much to make him a happy kid.

Fight the winter blues

I'm not the only one who thinks the best way to deal with this ridiculously LONG winter is to cuddle under a blanket with a good book!

The only other option is to eat your way out of the winter blues. I am also exploring this option. This banana bread seemed to alleviate the pain for a while - well, until I ate three loaves and stepped on the scale. Yikes! (the recipe is the classic Betty Crocker version)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Goofy Girls

Gary took Susan out of town for the weekend so I had Natalie and Johnny for the whole weekend. Sophie was super-excited to have a sleepover with Natalie for two nights, and planned all sorts of fun games to play together. She had me pull out sleeping bags so they could sleep on the floor in her room.

Everything went well though I must say after a weekend with 5 kids and Destination Imagination practice here on Saturday morning (with 8 more kids), and primary kids on Sunday I am pooped. I need a girl's day out soon!

Speaking of girls, here are the goofy duo. They were practicing expressions for me.

Scared, scary?

The reason Why I am Now on a Liquid Diet

Ahhhhh, hot fudge. How do I love thee?

Here is the recipe for the most sinfully delicious hot fudge know to man. Ken and Kelly came over for a few games on Friday night and I decided to whip up a batch of hot fudge - without reading the recipe beforehand. So, here are my tips. You do not really need to cook the stuff for one hour in a double boiler. I had no time for this nonsense. Just throw it into a pot with the creme and cook it on med-low until all of the sugar is dissolved.

Add warm brownies and some mint chocolate chip ice cream and you have yourself a party!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Happy Brithday Max!

Max turned 8 years old on Sunday and we celebrated with some friends by having cake and ice cream together. Max shares his birthday with his Grandma Ramsay (Bryan's mom's mom) who just turned 90!

Max's favorite gifts were The Chronicles of Narnia Collection of books, a new Webkinz (though I think that phase may be slowing down), some other books and a new sweat suit from his Grandparents.

I was trying to think of how to describe Max at this age. He loves reading - especially Harry Potter, Animorphs, Deltora Quest - really almost anything. He is smart, very smart. He loves to laugh and torment his little sister and brother. He tries to stay up late every night reading. He loves games and soccer. He has a lot of energy, but can also spend an entire day in his room, quietly. He likes to figure things out on his own. He is impatient. He is very handsome. He is quite the ladies man. Last week at Destination Imagination, he was reading some facts about the planet Venus and said "Venus is the goddess of love and beauty" while getting this goofy grin on his face and leaning over to put his arm around his friend Rylee. Scary.

Max chose spaghetti and meatballs for his dinner (I talked him out of peanut butter and banana sandwiches, couscous and chicken soup). He was very specific that the spaghetti was to have NO vegetables in it - just red sauce.

I hate cleaning up kids after they have eaten spaghetti.

Max originally wanted a butterscotch cake but I could not find a recipe for one. Instead, I made a cake from Epicurious that I would never make again. The layers were very thin and concave and the lemon curd never set up enough. It tasted great, but when we cut into the cake, all of the lemon curd from the layers oozed out onto the cake stand. Koo called it "cake over easy" and Bryan "my cake runneth over".

These are the little gift bags I made for Max's class. He is planning on having a few friends go to the movies in a couple of weeks for his birthday party so I'll take more photos then.

The laughter when I turn the cake is because I am trying to hide the side where the cake is oozing!

Valentine's Day

Ahh, Valentine's Day (aka Single's Awareness Day). I had many a sad Valentine's Day in my youth - in fact it always seemed like I managed to break up with my boyfriends at really inconvenient times like before holidays that required gifts.

The kids took Valentines to class and I decorated some Target mailboxes and filled them with candy for their teachers.

Here is a photo of the Valentine's Day cards I made for all of you . . . and then never mailed. Yes, I have a few of them addressed and ready to go so do not be surprised if one comes your way sometime before Easter - but don't expect it either as I am not getting a lot done right now.

Here are the flowers Bryan brought home for me before our date (our official Valentine's Day celebration). He had to work late on the 14th.

Here is my gift to Bryan. I made him a shadow box of items from his first marathon. He is still running and preparing for an even longer trail race in April. How he can go out and run in this weather is beyond me!
This is a cute idea that a friend of Sophie's sent to her. Lauren moved to Texas last year and Sophie has been very worried about her because there are tornadoes in Texas. The heart is made of card stock and plastic sheeting and then laced on with ribbon. So cute!

Hope you all had a Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Instructions for taking 5 kids to the grocery store

1. Circle the parking lot looking for a car cart. Find a car cart. Do not enter the store without a car cart.
2. Start in the produce section. Give every kid an apple to eat. Trust me, the produce manager would rather your kid be eating an apple than screaming.
3. Work quickly. Get only the necessities. Your car cart cannot hold enough food for a real grocery trip.

4. Make the kids take turns riding in the car cart. It is a definite flaw that only two kids can drive the car.
5. Keep calling back to Max who is not paying attention as he is reading a book.
6. Help the kids find a garbage for their apple cores.
7. At the deli counter give every kid a cheese sample. Even if there are no cheese samples out, if you have enough kids either crying, whining or screaming, the deli will jump at the chance to give said kids a piece of cheese.
8. TRY and keep the 3 year old away from the glass jars of tomato sauce.
9. In the bakery, give each child one of the free cookies. If they are out of cookies, ask. There are always free cookies somewhere. Now all of your kids have had essentially, lunch. If it is actually lunch time, I find the cracker snackers are a great thing for sharing while Mommy tries to shop.
10. At the checkout it is inevitable that every kid will get out of the car cart and become fascinated with the vending machines, the bank ATM or the candy in the check-out lane. Try to leave with as few packages of opened candy as possible.
11. Pack the bags as quickly as possible and bark at all of the kids to hold onto the cart as you go out to the parking lot.

12. Tell all of the kids to get into the car while you load the groceries. Vow never to come to the store with kids again. Realize you will have kids with you every time you come to the store for many years to come. Weep.

Date Night

On Saturday night Bryan and I actually got out of the house and went on a date! My sister Koo had mentioned she was free and could babysit (I think perhaps she thinks I am on the brink of a "sick-of-winter" breakdown) so we jumped at the chance to get out of the house!

We drove up to our favorite little restaurant, Jasmine Deli, for spring rolls, basil rolls and Vietnamese sandwiches (yum!) and then went to our favorite pastry shop, Patrick's, for dessert (yuuuuum!).

We decided to go and see Juno at the movie theater. The movie was written by a woman from Minnesota and we both loved it! It is quirky and funny and the dialog is fast and witty and just really funny. I do not remember the last time we have been to the movies so this was a great treat for us. Thanks Koo!
The girl who plays Juno is adorable.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Book Club Birthday

Last night was book club at my friend Stacey's new home. It was also the birthday of the book club, so we had a pot luck dinner and a book exchange along with our book discussion. I lucked out and managed to snag A Thousand Splendid Suns in the book exchange - something I have wanted to read for a long time.

We discussed The Goose Girl which I have already reviewed on the blog. If you have not read it, do. It is a lovely fairy tale and so very well written. I tried to take some photos last night since I have been feeling guilty about my lazy blogging, but none of them came out well (darn this winter and indoor lighting!). I love book club. We have a wonderful group of women who really enjoy books and reading and spending time together.

Pumpkiny Goodness

I made these little gems for my friend Lori's birthday. The cupcake recipe was taken from Martha's website. I love this recipe - very moist and delicious cupcakes but they needed a bit of dark chocolate and toasted pecans so I threw those in as well. There are very few recipes that do not taste better with chocolate and pecans. The frosting is a basic cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and fresh lemon juice. Um, these are not low fat - but boy are they good!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Sundays around here

Our church moved to the 9:00 hour this year. As much as I am thrilled to see 1:00 church behind me, it is a task of momentous proportions to get our family to church on time each Sunday. I sound like we have managed to accomplish this task. We have not. Not even once. The church is a good 20 minutes away and I have Max and Bryan who are so not morning people.

Here are the kids last Sunday. Sophie looks so prim and proper here. Do not be deceived. By the time we returned from church she had a hole in her tights and had beaten her brother up in the car on the way home.

Here is handsome Max. What is that book in his hand? Are those the scriptures he is so dutifully reading while he waits to leave?Uh, no. That would be Harry Potter. He's reading them again.

Here is my baby. Sniff. Where did the baby go?! This little cutie is a sunbeam this year.

Bryan and I would be hosed if either of us were ever called to something where we had to be to church on time - like chorister or pianist. We did well last year only because choir was before church. We were never on time for choir, but we were on time for church by default.

Warm yourself with a hot waffle

The weather hates me and it is bitterly cold here again. I cannot remember ever having such a hard time getting through the winter than I have had this year. Maybe it is because this is the first winter that it has actually been really cold for really long stretches of time - kind of like a normal Northern winter should be without global warming. Whatever the reason, I have found it hard at times to shake the winter blues. I am longing for spring and sunshine and warmth.

To combat the freezing temperatures, we are still hunkering down indoors and baking warm foods. Today Sophie had a play date with a friend of hers. I suggested they bring her over here since there was no way I was A. Going outside or B. Getting out of my green Christmas flannel pajamas.

Bryan headed off to work and to run (outside - madness!), so the kids and I faced our boring day with our slippers on. This entire day I accomplished 1. making cookies with the girls, 2. about 7 loads of laundry and 3. a whole lot of laminating for church. That's it. Le sigh.

Here is a photo of some tasty waffles. I found the recipe on Epicurious, but I did not have prosciutto, though I bet they would be amazing with it added!

Friday, February 8, 2008


On Monday evening, Bryan's grandfather Forrest passed away at the age of 89. His burial service is today. I know that Bryan admired his Grandfather, so I asked him to write a few lines about him for me.

[Bryan:] My grandpa was a great guy. Since as early as I can remember, he was always a very kind person. After we moved away from Michigan and as the years passed, it still seemed like he never changed. He and my Grandma always seemed very close. He will be missed and fondly remembered by many. I will remember my Grandpa as someone who I admired. I'll remember his love of travel with my Grandma, his love of reading and his great sense of humor.

Below is his obituary:

Forrest G. Erickson age 89, of Canton, passed away February 4, 2008, at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor. Mr. Erickson was born July 19, 1918, the son of John P. and Mary (Higgs) Erickson in Salt Lake City, Utah. During World War II he was a Lieutenant and pilot for the United States Navy. His working years were spent as an engineer with Scans Associates of Livonia, Michigan where he specialized in automotive fluid flow, retiring in 1985. Mr. Erickson was a member of Plymouth Ward of The Church of Latter-Day Saints. Surviving Mr. Erickson are his beloved wife, Rowena, two sons Steven (Mary) Erickson and Richard Erickson and daughter Barbara (John) Rohrbeck. Six grandchildren, Heather, Bryan, David, Molly, Paul and Rachael, ten great-grandchildren, Haley, Lindsey, Tristan, Kaitlyn, Max, Sophie, Calvin, Nicholas, Josh and Gregory, brothers, Ross (Julie) Erickson and Max (Ellie) Erickson. Funeral services will be Thursday, February 7, 2008, 12:30pm at Schrader-Howell Funeral Home, 280 S. Main St., Plymouth. Friends may visit Thursday 10:30am until time of service. Burial will take place Friday in Great Lakes National Cemetery, Holly, Michigan.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Koo's Birthday

On Sunday we celebrated my sister Koo's (Kirstin) 26th birthday. She came to our house with a friend from her ward for dinner and games after church. I decided to go all out on the calorie front as it was a special occasion!

My sister-in-law Rachael gave me a great cookbook called Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis and I wanted to try a new recipe. Giada is the impossibly tiny little Italian chef on the food network. The cookbook is hysterical to flip through as it is full of photos of her highlighting her perky and ample "assets" - assets that cannot possibly be real since she probably weighs 90 pounds. See?!

But I digress. I made her Penne a la Carbonara for dinner. I have never made a pasta sauce with eggs in it before, but it was very creamy and very tasty and very fattening. Giada does not eat Penne a la Carbonara.

For dessert, I decided to try Cream Puff’s Very Favorite Coconut Cream Cake. If you recall, this is the same wonderful blogger that gave us the divine crepe cake from Christmas. The coconut cake is a show stopper. The cake is so moist and light and fluffy and the coconut creme filling is truly heavenly. I was worried about the butter cream as I had never made a butter creme that started with making a custard on the stove but holy cow - yum! If you love coconut, and even if you don't (like me), you will love this cake.

No, Calvin was not enjoying the Diet Dr. Pepper. That was Koo.

After dinner we played games with the kids. If you do not have 10 Days in Europe, I would highly recommend it!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Jane Austin Updates

I am a week behind on these reviews, but we have been watching faithfully. Last night we saw Miss Austin Regrets. I admit to not knowing a lot about Jane's life. I have read some biographical material on her, but I would like to read more. I loved/hated the film. I loved that Jane was portrayed as very spirited and strong and witty. The dialog was very well written and I love the actress who portrayed Jane. But, the whole movie felt so glum and the people in her life seemed to say such horrid things to her and I could never really decide if she regretted her choices as portrayed in this film. If you have a day to spare and love Jane Austin, check out this website!

Last week was Mansfield Park. Both Bryan and I are still reading the book but we enjoyed the adaptation. It was short and left out a lot and missed a major theme in the novel (Fanny overcoming and remaining true to her values despite the cruel words, pressure and upbringing of her aunt), but it was fun to watch. I was slightly bothered by the actress who played Fannie. She looked too modern and her obviously bleached hair and black eyebrows were distracting. Come to find out, she is an English pop-star turned actress. Look over on this website for more info. Though only Northanger Abby has really impressed me so far, we still love watching these adaptations!