Thursday, March 29, 2012

#48 He Makes Piles

For years I lived in the oblivion that all families make piles.

My brother's girlfriend recently informed me, that no, not all families make piles.

I was shocked. What a terrific, yet terrifying, sibling bonding experience the world has been missing out on!

Many a day growing up, as I was seeking relaxation stretched out on the couch, I'd find myself shaken from my comfort mode into alert mode as brothers piled upon me with the only thought in their minds being to replace my relaxation with discomfort.

And although it takes my breath away every time, making piles are childhood memories I'd never replace.

Here, dear reader, is a pile:

This is a purely perfect pile. The faces of the participants of this pile depict the reality of being a part of a pile. On the bottom layer, we have my brother Joel. He is playing the part of the one who has been piled on. Typically, a person in this position doesn't see a pile coming until it is already in the midst of happening. Then, they're stuck. Note the sheer pain he is going through is represented by the fat vein bulging out in the middle of his forehead.

My sister-in-law, Sam, is on top. I love Sam. She'll jump right into something crazy like a pile without questioning or wondering why. The person on top is always happiest. They also, for the most part, control how long the pile stays in place.

Those in the middle share a sort of satisfaction with the person on top by knowing that they are adding to the person on bottom's pain. (Notice the look of delight on hubby's and Jonathan's faces).

But all piles are not quite as neat and lovely as this one.

Here's an ugly one:

This is a pile gone wrong for so many reasons. Number one, look at how content Joel looks on the bottom.

The person on bottom should never look content.

Second, those blankets just don't add to the mix. They take away from the pure discomfort that a pile should cause.

Third, look at how twisted second layer Jonathan is. This kind of positioning helps to take away the pain from those on the lower levels.

Lastly, hubby, well...I have no words at the present moment.

Regardless if it's a pile done wrong or a pile done right, all in all, I love piles. They are a surefire bonding experience filled with laughter, discomfort, and love.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

#47 He Celebrates Birthdays, aka, Here's Strawberry Shortcake Trifle, baby!

I know. It's a pathetic title for another post from the delicious dessert world of trifles. But you'll be happy I did it.

I made this Strawberry Shortcake Trifle in February. My grandmother's 79th birthday was approaching and I insisted she tell me her dessert of choice. She doesn't usually get that liberty. My family isn't really a fruity dessert family. We love our chocolate and our Acme whipped cream birthday cakes, but please, keep that fruit on the side. Fruit instantly makes one feel that their dessert has become a little healthy. My family does not want such illusions.

Gram, on the other hand, loves fruit in her dessert. So, I scoured the internet for strawberry shortcake recipes that I thought would be perfect. I just couldn't find anything that made me instantly drool onto my keyboard, so I improvised my Chocolate Trifle into a Strawberry Shortcake Trifle. It was so good, my brother's girlfriend asked me to make it for her birthday.

Here's what you need:

  • Yellow cake mix--any kind will do
  • (2) 8oz containers of whipped cream
  • 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 containers of strawberries
  • 3.4 oz box of instant vanilla pudding (I went all fancy and used French vanilla).

Make the cake according to the directions on the box. Allow to cool completely.

(Don't cover with plastic because you have to run out of the house, then come back and rip the plastic off leaving an ugly crater, and then take a picture of it).

In a large box mix together the pudding mix, sweetened condensed milk, and one cup of water.

Mix until it is smooth, of a pastel yellow color, and no lumps can be seen with the naked eye.

Fold in one of your whipped cream containers.

Slice up your strawberries. I cut them into quarters. If you want them especially sweet sprinkle a little powdered sugar on them.

Cut the yellow cake in half. Freeze half the cake for another time when you are absolutely craving Strawberry Shortcake Trifle.

Cut the half of the half into one inch pieces. Then line the bottom of your trifle bowl with them.

Smush them down real good. This shouldn't be all pretty and perfect.

Then. pour in half of the mousse mixture.

Cover with half of the strawberries.

Spread half of the remaining 8oz whipped cream container on top of the strawberries.

Repeat layers.

Gaze upon its beauty, and sigh. Not one ounce of fat, because there's fruit in it, you see.

Then, for extra pizzazz, throw a few strawberries on top.

Happy 20th Birthday Mallory!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

#46 He Buys Snails

In an effort to aide him in his job of cleaning the fish tank, hubby has been buying snails for sometime. Someone, somewhere (probably, say, the pet store?) recommended them to help keep the tank clean. But, all that our snails have ever done is die.

Right now we're on the last half of our third pair of snails. (Simply stated, our 6th snail). We would get a pair of snails, then one would die and the other would follow along shortly thereafter. Don't worry about me though. I don't get too attached. In fact, I'm so sentimental towards them that they all have the same name: Snaily.

I know, I'm super original.

This last snail has really amazed me. Not only has he hung on despite the odds being against him, but he's also been very mobile. I get real excited when I see his slimy bottom on the other side of the aquarium glass. Usually, with our other snails, all we could ever see was their shell.

(This is what I get to see on a good day).

And let me clarify, I don't like slugs. I like snails. In my tank. To look at, not to touch.

Okay, I had to say that.

It was mere chance when I saw true incredulousness from Snaily #6 the other night.

Here's how it went down. Hubby and I were already in bed. Like, for a few minutes already. Like, not wanting to get up again for at least a million and one years.

It was then from down below we heard a clang! clutter! crash! Rolling over with a groan, hubby got up, grabbed his weapon of choice, and headed downstairs prepared to meet the villain we assumed was in our kitchen.

I tried to stay upstairs, you know, in case there was an actual real intruder in the house and I needed to call the police and then hop out of my window to run for safety. But curiosity overcame me. I grabbed my cell phone and slowly headed downstairs.

That's when I saw this:

Well, excuse me, Snaily #6! Apparently Snaily #6 loves the nightlife. He's got to boogie...on the disco 'round...oh yea!


I was blown away. Hubby could have been wrestling down an ax murderer and I would have been on my knees, nose pressed into the aquarium glass, yelling for them both to come over and see how awesome my snail was.

Good thing the noise in the kitchen was just something that had fallen on top of the stove.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

#45 He Likes Chocolate

I need to share something with you. But, before reading, promise not to be mad at me because this will absolutely ruin your life.

It is the most wonderful, fantastical, outrageous dessert you will ever meet.

But, the second you make it you'll run into a problem. Either your thighs will explode because you've singlehandedly polished off the entire thing, or you will have to make it at every single family function (and that's only if your friends don't find you out).

The plus is that everyone will like you, a lot.

There will be lots and lots of smiling.

All you need is: a box of brownie mix, a 3.9 oz of chocolate pudding mix, (2) 8 oz containers of whipped cream, and a 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk.

Make the brownies in a 13x9 pan according to the box directions. Resist all urges to eat them when they finish. Allow to cool completely.

Is it bad that I want to just dip my finger in there and eat the batter?

I promise, I didn't.

In a separate bowl, pour in the pudding mix...

1/2 a cup of water....

and the sweetened condensed milk.

Mix it all together until your bowl is full of dark chocolatey goodness. Then add one of the containers of whipped cream.

Mix until no streaks remain. Put the bowl aside.

Grab your awesome trifle bowl and the brownies. Cut the brownies into one inch squares. Cover the bottom of your trifle bowl with half of them.

Pour half of your chocolate mousse mixture on top.

Then, spread half of the other whipped cream container on top.

Repeat the layers: brownies, mouse, whipped cream.

I forgot to mention, it's pretty too. Before even tasting it mouths will burst open with extended vowel sounds. Then, within a few seconds, someone will shout out, "What is that?!".

That's when you just shrug your shoulders and say, "It's a Chocolate Trifle my friends."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

#44 He Takes Me to Meet the Pioneer Woman

A little over a year ago, I was browsing the remainder bin at Barnes and Noble. There were books that had been left over from special events and book signings that were slightly, but not greatly, discounted in price. I fell upon a cookbook that was so awesome I had to have it, even though it was only slightly, and not greatly, discounted in price.

Me and cookbooks just aren't like that. I love to cook, but to find a cookbook that I absolutely have to have, well, I just never thought that was me.

Apparently it is.

The recipes literally had step by step pictures of the process, no matter how simple or difficult. Whether it was salt and peppering a steak or mixing together ingredients, it was pictured.

Glory hallelujah! Something that might actually show me if I was making a recipe correctly. Something that would keep me from second guessing myself until the final product had already arrived and there was no turning back.

That day I learned who the Pioneer Woman was. And my life was changed forever.

Not only did Pioneer Woman have this awesome book that I had instantly fallen in love with, but she also had a blog, something that I had been attempting, but fallen short on.

So daily I began to read her blog, and weekly something or other of Pioneer Woman's creation graced my breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert table.

Hubby heard about Pioneer Woman, often.

Within a nanosecond of her second book's pre-order listing, my copy was ordered on (another thing my life would not be the same without). Her book tour was listed on her blog and I looked it over instantly hoping she would be at my local Barnes and Noble. Sadly, there were no visits scheduled to New Jersey and the signing in NYC was on the Tuesday night her book came out. Our home in New Jersey is about an hour away from NYC on a good day. The thought of driving into the city, on a school night, bounced back and forth in my mind until I gave the matter a finalized, "No".

I can't remember when hubby heard about it. But, when he did he gave me a finalized, "We're going".

I'm pretty sure I blacked out after that and didn't wake up until two days before the event.

I know, I have issues.

Don't tell me though, I'm in denial.

I'm not sure the last time I was so excited. I was so excited I couldn't sleep.

Seriously, I'm not sure what is wrong with me.

I did this ridiculous thing though. My first thought was, 'I should bring my camera. I can get a picture with her and it will be awesome,'.

And then, when it came time for me to run out the door I forgot my camera.

But, it gets worse.

I remembered that I forgot my camera upon getting into my car. Yet then, I did this too cool for school thing and thought, 'Nah, I don't need a picture with her. Plus, if I really want one, I've got my camera phone,'.

That's how I ended up with this:

Well, at least those books on top of that shelf came out clear.

Nevertheless, I left the bookstore thrilled, filled with inspiration, and

........more in love with my hubby than ever.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

#43 He Chooses Atlantic City

While we were dating, my hubby and I spent many a summer day in Atlantic City. While this is my overriding reason why I will always love Atlantic City, there are so many others.

Oh, so many others.

1. Shopping

The hot spots include:
  • Tanger Outlets The Walk; After all, who doesn't love discount prices on their favorite brands?
  • The Quarter at the Tropicana; My favorite store: The Old Farmer's Almanac General Store
  • The Pier Shops at Caesar's; My favorite store: It'Sugar, pictured below

It'Sugar is one of the places that I have to go to when I'm in Atlantic City no matter what. And even if I'm not particularly craving anything in specific (like that could ever happen) I have to buy something there too. Yesterday, it was a lot of somethings as I came home with a bag filled to .48 of a pound with sugary delights.

2. The Boardwalk

T'was a sad sad day when I learned that there are actually beaches without the magical feel of a boardwalk filled with dozens of pizza shops, game booths galore, and stores pushing $5 souvenirs. Yes, it was a sad sad day indeed.

I've gotten to the point where I never buy anything on the boardwalk anymore (with the exception, of course, being a honking slice of pizza), but I still love to walk up and down the boardwalk filling my mind with wonder of all the strange spectacles that lace up and down the walkway.

3. Seagulls

Because, what would life at the beach be without those pesky creatures?

This guy was so greedy, he tried to swallow a good quarter of a piece of pizza down whole so that he didn't have to share it with his friends.

I didn't say I agree with their morals, we just need to have them around.

4. Food

Aside from numerous buffets that casinos always have which are guaranteed to make me roll out of the casino rather than walk out, there are also other delicacies.

Such as donuts. Donuts, donuts, donuts!

Bally's is home to the best glazed donut I've ever had, hands down. Formerly known as "Gold Tooth Gertie's" the "Corner Cafe" is on the walk from the casino to the Claridge Tower. This is where I have my breakfast, and yes, it is 100% healthy.

How? Because I said so.

5. Free

Who doesn't want something for free?

As much as I love the homey, clean feel of 'dry' beach areas, I'm done with paying $5 (or more) per person to sunbathe and not swim.

I like a free beach.

I also like free hotel rooms. If you gamble, even just a little, you get comps out the wazoo for free rooms.

6. Boardwalk Empire

In the last year, I've become addicted to the HBO show, "Boardwalk Empire", about Atlantic City in the 20s during the start of prohibition. It is based on the non-fiction book "Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City" by Nelson Johnson.

After two seasons, the city finally seems to be embracing the show. During the first season, the most representation the show had was a billboard sign. Now, they have a mock set up of the town from the 20s at what once was a very empty spot on the boardwalk.

Someone also got a brilliant idea to rebuild the Ritz into condominiums with an entryway that strongly resembles that of the past.

I was about as excited as I could possibly get. The only thing that stunk was the condo entrance was locked. So I had to settle with pressing my nose to the glass door, scanning the room with my eyes, and imagining myself standing in the foyer of the Ritz, back in the 1920s.

Bottom line, I really love Atlantic City.

And always will.