After a day of driving and flying, we are HERE. Lights, Crowds, Traffic, Noise, Food, Fun. I’m feeling strangely overwhelmed, even having been here twice before. Maybe it’s the Saturday evening crowds (we happened upon the line waiting for Fleetwood Mac – chaos), maybe just from the traveling. I feel it is too early to be in my room on a weekend night in Vegas, but yet I am oh-so-thankful to be in my room on a weekend night in Vegas. The weather is beautifully warm, and the forecast is near perfection. Our hotel room windows look out on the New York New York roller coaster and the intersection that has NYNY, the MGM Grand, the Tropicana, and the Excaliber. It really is something to see at night – all lit up and exciting. I am looking forward to the day and week ahead. Also, so far we have only lost $4.50 gambling. We controlled ourselves. Today.
Monthly Archives: May 2009
And now enter my cupcakes – unicorn rainbow explosion. I meant well, really I did.
Here was what I was going for:
Here is what I got:
Obviously, something went very very wrong in the construction or baking process. Instead, we got tye-dyed, but oh-so-tasty, cupcakes. I had originally planned to just do some nice white frosting. But as the cupcakes were so far gone, I decided just to kick them right over the cliff’s edge with the color-blend frosting as well.
And while 1992 didn’t really treat anyone all that great in the fashion department, it really isn’t a good look for cupcakes either!
After pouring over this blog for the last few days, I knew I wanted to try to make a a batch or two of the homemade Girl Scout Cookie recipes, namely the Thin Mints and Tagalongs. Tagalongs have always been my favorite. Vanilla Shortbread Cookies – yes please. Dollop of Peanut Butter Filling in the center – two please. Covered in chocolate – just one more please! And this recipe is spot on. The result is almost identical (possibly better?!) than the original, and thoroughly addicting. The main reason I don’t order any girl scout cookies is to prevent me from eating an entire box of Tagalongs in one sitting. Now I actually have to practice some self-control and keep out of the kitchen.
I already feel my resolve wavering…
Easy and effective!
When we were in Ohio, we went to Jungle Jim’s grocery store. Quite a trip. It’s not so much a grocery store as it is an amusement park where you buy food. There’s lots of weird stuff going on in there. Anyways, while we were there, I bought a bunch of bottles of weird sodas I had never tried, and we (Beth, myself, Julie, Lynn, Sally, Alex, and my dad) did a taste test of them all:
Yes, I do realize that one of the sodas has an inappropriate name. I thought it was “Funkola Cola”. Whatever, just deal with it.
First up was “Thum’s Up”. Apparently this is from India. The checkout guy was incredulous that I actually wanted to buy this. I wish I would have taken his advice. I thought it tasted like Coke, but with about 1/2 the normal amount of sugar. Sally thought it tasted like laundry detergent and Julie though it tasted like cleaning chemicals. Not exactly what you want in a soda.
Next on the docket was “Almdudler 50 Jahre” – the national soft drink of Austria (my dad’s comment was “Isn’t the national soft drink of Austria just beer?”). This one tasted kind of citrusy, with a hint of pineapple, but mostly it just tasted like bad ginger ale.
Next up was Cheerwine. I first had this in South Carolina last year. Definitely the best of the bunch. It’s basically a black cherry soda. Very good.
Fukola Cola, the one with the inappropriate name and slogan, was normal-ish cola, but Beth and I both experience unpleasant bubbles-up-the-nose. Meh.
Inca Kola was up next. I had heard about this from Peru trips, but had never actually had it. It smells like a banana popsicle, and tastes like the bubble-gum flavored flouride at the dentist. Not the greatest thing in the world, but not the worst either.
Faygo rootbeer was just normal rootbeer, nothing great or bad about it.
Frostie Vanilla Root Beer was probably my second favorite, behind Cheerwine. It basically tastes like a rootbeer float after the ice cream has had a chance to dissolve. A couple of people mention cotton candy, but I think they are confused Definitely the second creepiest mascot of the bunch.
Manhattan Special Sasparilla was up next. This tasted pretty much like Rootbeer flavored Kool-Aid, which apparently they don’t make anymore.
Kickapoo Joy Juice had the best name and creepiest logo of all the sodas. It also has a weird tagline: “Original dogpatch recipe”. It wasn’t bad, it just kind of tasted like flat Mountain Dew. I am slightly concerned that I somehow was duped into drinking dog pee though.
All in all, a successful taste test. Luckily no one had any bad reactions, so the authorities didn’t have to be called:
(from left: Dan, Dave, Gramps, Maggie, Pete, John)
Over six months ago, plans began for a Gasper family reunion. Justin’s dad and his siblings worked at getting everyone together at a state park near Cincinnati, Ohio. Reservations were made and rough plans put in place for the weekend. We all may have had different expectations for the weekend, but God certainly had something else in mind for this gathering. About two weeks ago Justin’s grandmother, Gigi, went into the hospital and had her galbladder removed, but then doctors continued to find masses within her, presumably cancer. Things advanced very quickly, much more so than anyone imagined. Though in her late 80′s, Gigi has been incredibly active, helping with her church, with adults and children, delivering bread and food to a local pantry, visiting with a multitude of friends and family, writing monthly letters and prayer journals to near about a billion people on the planet (slight exaggeration, but still, a lot), caring for Gramps, and feeding and protecting just about every stray cat in their neighborhood. She possesses the characteristic Gasper sense of humor and makes every attempt to show Christ’s love to everyone around her. On Saturday, her children and grandchildren were able to visit with her at the hospital, laugh over memories, and show and receive her love.
(Cousins from left: me, Justin, Beth, Sally, Lynn, baby Carson, Andy – and be sure to notice the sweet mural on the wall!)
Later in the day, Uncle Dave and his wife Jan drove Gramps out to the park, and we were able to share a meal together at the restaurant in the lodge. We continued to catch up on news with other family members and sang Happy Birthday as loudly as possible for Sally’s 28th birthday. Afterward we played games, drank entirely too much crazy soda, and laughed around a campfire.
Though exhausting, the weekend was a good one, and we’re so thankful to have been able to go.
The tulips really came in beautifully this year. They multiplied, came in loads of cheery colors, with an array of heights and variances. And now begins the rather rapid demise of petals and stems, as they have served the purpose of attracting bugs and bees for another spring season. How I wish these days went by slower, lengthening the buds’ lifespan. Distracting eyes from the weeds growing and gaining strength beneath them. For awhile we have a gorgeous, healthy flower garden. In a week or two, we will have a seemingly forsaken patch of weeds. At least the dandelions will add some color!
A group of students and adults from our church are taking a trip down to Lima, Peru this summer. They will be partnering with a local Peruvian church to help teach ESL classes, organize and put on a children’s carnival, and do some other outreach activities in the community. In order to raise the (much needed) funds, the team held a fundraising banquet at church this evening, and they asked if I might do the desserts for the group. I happily agreed, and the ideas immediately began to form. I played around with the alpaca cookie cutter idea for awhile, but then I found something so much better. I wanted it to be a surprise for the team, so I couldn’t post anything on the blog (even though I’ve been busy in the kitchen all week!). I was so excited to see everything come together this afternoon. These cupcakes, with their chocolate alpaca candies, are one of the cutest creations to have left my kitchen. And I was just as excited to find the miniature Peruvian flags! Add in chocolate cake pops painted like the earth and alfajores (Peruvian almond cookies with dulce de leche filling), and I couldn’t wait for others to partake. And while I try to shy away from receiving credit, it always gives me a thrill to have people enjoy something I made. Though, I have to admit, it seems kind of silly to make a statement like that and then write about it on this blog! Really though – I hope you enjoy the pictures at least!
And Kudos to Jim for creating the rockin’ alpaca cut-out photo booth, to Madie (and others) for helping me set up, and to the entire organzing team for the banquet – you really did a fantastic job and the night was a hit!
We had a great time tonight catching up with Dan & Bethany around the campfire, as well as smiling and laughing at/with their one-year-old daughter Jillian. She just started walking, which is obviously her favorite thing (other than terrorizing Justin, that is). Bethany had all the fixin’s for pudgie pies ready, and we happily burned our tongues with the molten lava hot filling (not to be confused with these).