So I know that I am SUPER late for the 4th of July – blame it on camp season – but I’m posting about our dessert anyway. We had a really low-key Independence Day weekend, spending most of it cleaning (you’re jealous, I know), but we did stop working long enough for a mini cook-out. I thought we should have something festive, so I threw together these berry “parfaits”. Parfaits is probably a generous way to describe them, because they consisted only of layers of strawberries, blueberries, and Cool Whip. Maybe I’ll call it a Lazy Girl Parfait. Anyway, I thought they were pretty, so I took photos!
I can’t take credit for this idea – I saw it on Pinterest a while back and even as a non-chocolate-lover I stopped to take notice. I can, however take credit for the brilliant idea (because I’m sure I’m the first person in the history of the planet to have this idea) of using 100% store-bought ingredients. I executed this diabolical plan around 2 am the night before/day of Randy’s birthday and I just happened to have my trusty new iPhone with me to document the process:
Step 1: Get a husband or friend who likes chocolate to have a birthday. Or I suppose you could make them for yourself if you yourself like chocolate for some reason.
Step 2: Buy a package of Double Stuff Oreos and some chocolate chip cookie dough. For maximum laziness purposes, I suggest the type of dough that is already pre-formed into perfect cookie portions. Also, if you happen to have some Hershey Bars lying around the house leftover from your husband’s last go around with s’mores (since you don’t like s’mores, even if it makes you a bad Girl Scout), go ahead and throw those into the mix, for garnish.
Step 3: Get the chocolate chip cookie dough ball ready for its big date by slimming down a bit (flatten it with the palm of your hand). Then, gingerly introduce the Oreo, ensuring that you provide them plenty of time for small talk and to get to know each other.
Step 4: This next part could get a bit awkward, as you are going to introduce a third party to the romance. Place another flattened chocolate chip cookie dough ball on top of the Oreo. Don’t worry – they’ll grow to love each other in time.
Step 5: Much like at a middle school dance, you will need to encourage mingling. Smoosh the sides of the cookies together, completely encasing the Oreo in a chocolate chip cookie bear-hug. Repeat Steps 3 – 5 until you run out of chocolate chip cookie dough. Then eat a couple of the leftover Oreos and remember how much you like them, despite their chocolatey nature.
Step 6: Place your Hershey Bar garnishes on top and put your Frankenstein cookie creations into the oven that you preheated even though I didn’t tell you to, because you are proactive. While you wait, eat a couple more Oreos and perform the “experiment” wherein you make a quadruple stuff Oreo out of two Double Stuff Oreos.
<quadruple stuff Oreo not pictured due to extreme distraction caused by eating quadruple stuff Oreo>
Step 7: Check on your little darlings after about five minutes. Most likely, they have become unruly and started spreading all over the place, trying to morph into unattractive blobs (similar to how I’m starting to look after eating the quadruple stuff Oreos). Crack the whip – that is to say – the spatula! Get those cookies back in line and mold them into round, respectable fellows.
Step 8: Leave your cookies in the oven a little longer than the package recommends, since you have more than doubled their size. Keep checking on them and when they look golden delicious, snatch them up (use a potholder). Once they’ve cooled, place them on a cute red plate and admire.
Step 9: Try to resist the urge to cut a cookie in half to see it in all its glory. Resistance is futile – cave in and cut away.
Step 10: (Even though the process is essentially complete, you have to have a Step 10 because the ever expanding Mr. Monk part of your brain absolutely WILL NOT tolerate having only 9 steps.) Be glad that you went ahead and cut a cookie open once you see how scrumptious it looks in the photo. Be seduced by the scrumtiousness and take a bite only to discover that its just too much chocolate for you. Decide to leave the rest for your husband or chocolate-loving friend and stick to the safe confines of Oreos. Delight in watching their head nearly explode when they see the awesomeness you have created for them.
Feeling kinda lazy lately + lots of other things to do = photo heavy blog posts here at Hitched and Stitched. Randy and I are currently in the process of taking back our lives (we’ll let you know when this has happened) and hope to get into some kind of regular posting routine soon. Until then, we hope you enjoy looking at lots of pictures. Actually the pictures are probably better because, as you know – each one is worth 1000 words – so this post is technically something like 14,000 words long. Sweet – now I don’t feel like a slacker at all. I’m actually an overachiever!
Anyway, please (try to) enjoy a photo tour of the official 2011 Hitched and Stitched Birthdays. (For those of you who don’t know, Randy and I were born exactly 7 days apart in the same year, so June includes a LOT of combined celebrating.) We’ve moved passed getting each other many traditional gifts on birthdays/anniversaries/Christmas in favor of a fun big purchase for both of us to enjoy or special trips/activities. We MUCH prefer this system. This year we decided to each plan a surprise day of fun for each other and we both ended up centering our activities around a theme all day. Without further ado, our birthday outings in 2 parts:
Part One: Randy
For Randy’s birthday we were sent on a scavenger hunt by Doc Brown who was inexplicably trapped without a flux capacitor in a year he couldn’t identify. He needed Randy to follow the clues he sent to deduce his whereabouts in time. Spoiler Alert: the year was 1979 (which coincidentally is the year Randy and I were born). The day included stops all over the tri-state accompanied by a soundtrack of Billboard Top 100 hits from 1979. Here’s a peek from the day:
Part Two: Kimmie
The overall theme for my birthday was “A Very Pinteresting Birthday” because I am supremely addicted to the website Pinterest – a kind of online bullitin board where you can “pin” and organizes images you like from anywhere online onto different boards you create. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes. Also, it allows you to browse pinboards created by other friends and even other random people. Basically, its an internet black hole that sucks up WAY too much of my time (and even more now that I have the iPhone app). Randy realized it is also an excellent tool for figuring out what someone is interested in without having to ask them and spoil surprises. He created a pinboard on Pinterest just for my birthday that gave me clues as to what would be happening throughout the day.
The theme of our outing for the day was PIZZA CRAWL! Randy realizes that my first true love was pizza – and he knows how to use it to get straight to my heart. We sampled pizza from three different restaurants around the area and made local touristy stops between each to let the previous pizza digest a bit. Our favorite pizza was the Barbecue Chicken White Pizza from Mt. Adams Pizza and Deli, and our favorite stop was the Cincinnati Art Museum to see the Circus Poster exhibit.
We have declared our birthday adventures raging successes and we loved the Pizza crawl idea so much that we want to plan all kinds of crawls. Ideas so far include: ice cream crawl, park crawl, museum crawl, Chinese food crawl. Stay tuned for more!
Remember how I said there were big changes in store for The Spotted Elephant? Its time to unveil some of them RIGHT NOW! I think I’m embarrassingly excited about this and I’m afraid I’ve built it up a bit too much…. but its just nice to be excited about something again! And so, without further ado….
We’re Moving! And changing the name of the blog AND our business! Eep! Why would we do this? The main reason for the change is that we want to break into the Etsy world and, wouldn’t you know it – there are other Spotted Elephants out there. In fact, there is a Spotted Elephant Boutique which is doing lots of business selling (of course) baby and children’s items. And as much as we love the Elephant, we certainly can’t take over the world with a repeat name. At first, the idea of changing our name and identity was difficult to swallow – but the more we thought about it the more it made sense and began to sound like a great idea.
The Spotted Elephant started out as just my little blog in 2006 (and even that was originally called Zipperific for a short time) – a disjointed place where I occasionally wrote about random topics for the fun of it. Back then, I rarely even crafted and had just learned to knit. In 2009 I started using The Spotted Elephant as my business name for the custom crafts I would sell once in a blue moon. But so much has changed even since then. The most important change being the addition of Randy to the team. Of course he was always there for moral support, but in 2010 he became an integral part of the actual production team as well – knitting hats, piecing quilts, building display structures, designing our website, and plotting our eventual world take-over.
When I reflect on how much of a joint venture this is now, changing our name to reflect that seems like the only thing that makes sense. We have felt a sense of “us against the world” during certain times of turmoil that has bonded us even more closely than we already were (and we’re coming up on 18 years of bonding time – as we met 18 years ago come August – WOAH – typing that number has floored me a little.) And this time of reinventing our lives as solidly childless (for now) has caused us to want to loudly celebrate the things we do have going for us – the biggest, bestest of which, is our marriage/friendship/partnership. In other words, we love us. I know – we can be kind of unbearably happily-ever-after at times. But we feel like we’ve earned it and we’re going to publicly revel in it for a while (think of it as our version of a wallet full of photos of our kids).
So. Without FURTHER ado…. we are pleased to introduce…..
Hitched and Stitched
Get it? Because we’re hitched…..and we stitch. I guess it doesn’t really need that much explanation.🙂
Hitched and Stitched will be our new business name (we will be converting The SpottedElephant.com to HitchedAndStitched.com) and the new name of the blog. From here on out, this blog is moving, and we’re tickled pink to invite you to drop in at our new address (if that’s not where you’re viewing us from already!):
More on why we decided to move from WordPress to Blogger in a later post. For now, bask with us in the glow of our shiny new space and get acquainted with the new surroundings. I’m sure that as we settle in we’ll do some rearranging and redecorating from time to time, but for the time being, we’re proud as can be of our new little home. Stop by and see us!
P.S. I know you’re probably not worried at all about Sweet Pea (the Spotted Elephant), because unlike me you probably don’t anthropomorphize everything you come into contact with- but if you are worrying, don’t! Sweet Pea is not going to get left behind or forgotten (ohana). We’ve packed him up along with is peanut stash, and he’s moving with us and will still be a part of the parent “company” – probably as the mascot of a future product line. Ha – don’t we sound fancy – product line!
Check out the making-of the change purses we custom-created for a 7-year-old’s birthday party. The party theme was “Girls Night In” and featured a movie and snack bar from which the guests had to purchase their refreshments (with play money provided by the host). Enter the personalized change purses complete with wristlet feature to meet the needs of the modern 7-year-old about town. They were given to each guest as party favors and were, I’m told, a big hit.
The friend of a friend who ordered the pouches had the idea for them but was super flexible about the particulars – she just told me she wanted them to be girly, have a secure closure, and preferably be personalized with a wristlet. Colors, patterns, shape, and construction methods were left up to me. This is the kind of project I LOVE – I’m not really great with precision, as I think I’ve mentioned before. So I fiddled around with ideas and made a couple of prototypes to figure out the way they worked best for me, and then I went to town- one-woman-assembly style.
I got so into making these change purses that I cut out fabric for extras to sell on my (yet to be fully launched) Etsy shop. Have I done a thing with them? NO (but I’m blaming two weeks of helping run Girl Scout camp). Anyway – loved making these and loved working with my friend’s friend. And some glorious someday, when I finally launch the Etsy shop, maybe it will feature some pouches like this!
I know I haven’t been around much lately, but most of June was a blur for me because of this place. Please enjoy a brief photographic essay on Girl Scout Outreach Day Camp. (Special shout out goes to Miss Sara Marksberry – my trusty side-kick through the somewhat rocky but always entertaining 2nd week!)
In the dining hall – one of the things I love about the camp is the advanced age of many of the structures. Makes me feel like I’m in The Parent Trap. (You know, the real one with Hayley Mills.)
One day for lunch we were served hot dogs. On hamburger buns. I understand that they are the same as a hot dog buns only in a different shape (like spaghetti and penne). But try explaining that with any success to a picky 6 year old who is already leery of the “burn marks” on the nicely grilled dog.
During our second week the camp ranger was setting this up for a group coming in the week after us. We had no idea that we owned such a thing. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, I think we might be requesting this next year. I think it would make an excellent home base for the directors🙂.
One thing at lunch that nearly everyone ate happily. I say nearly everyone because I don’t particularly like watermelon. (Please send your hate mail to KimKnowsSheIsUnamericanForDislikingWatermelonAndChocolate@yourmom.com)
Ahh- tie dye. The craft I have a love-hate relationship with. I run the tie dye station every year. And every year I HATE tie dye while I’m setting up the gallons of water that must be carried from the dining hall out to the picnic tables and mixing the endless bottles of dye which gets EVERYWHERE and soaking and wringing out hundreds of t-shirts in the soda ash solution that dries out my hands and comforting a panicked child who just got dye on her pants after she was REPEATEDLY warned not to walk around the table with the dye bottle in hand and finally convincing skeptical girls to WEAR GLOVES only to watch them take the gloves off when finished with their shirt and then dip their hands into the puddles of dye leftover on the tables because it “looked fun”. And then the next day I start to forget all of that and begin daydreaming about what dye designs I’ll use next year. And when next year rolls around I’ll sign up for the fun all over again.
This long and painstaking process which results in to weeks during which we bus girls out to the wilds of camp from their city neighborhoods is so involved and full of stories that I can’t even begin to chronicle it all here. But I will leave you with my most potent memory of camp this year – what will affect ME (not just the Work Me). This year we had a very high number of girls who came to camp without something important that they needed. Particularly bathing suits and/or shorts. A tiny little fire cracker of a girl named London told me she forgot her suit the first day so I gave her some shorts and a shirt we had in our “extras” stash to swim in that first day. The next day she told me she forgot her suit AND the clothes I had given her and could she please have some more clothes to swim in. After some digging we learned that she didn’t just forget her suit – she doesn’t own one. We were able to get her a suit on the third day and when I called her over to give it to her she took one look at it and screamed. “Its PINK! And I can keep it?!?” I nodded yes and the smile she flashed actually gave me goosebumps. She attacked me with a bear hug adding, “my momma’s gonna be SO happy!”
While London’s reaction was by far the most dynamic, her situation was not particularly unique. We’d notice a girl wearing heavy, too-big jeans (the same pair each day) in 90 degree heat and find out from her leader that she also didn’t bring a bathing suit. We’d investigate and learn that she doesn’t own a suit OR shorts. In every case we were able to provide the missing clothing article and allow the girls to feel normal – one of the group. Perhaps the most striking situation we had like this was that of Maria. She was about 6 years old, face-meltingly adorable, enthusiastic, teensy-tiny, and spoke very broken English. She came to camp the first day (90 degree high) wearing a a school uniform shirt, school uniform pants, and heavy sneakers that were at least twice as big as her actual feet. We asked her if she had shorts or a t-shirt she could wear the next day but we weren’t sure how much she was comprehending. The next day she arrived wearing the same shoes and pants and, instead of a short sleeved uniform shirt she wore a long sleeved turtle neck. We found shorts and a t-shirt for her. And this sort of thing just kept happening – at a rate about 9 times higher than in previous years.
Randy and I were discussing this trend, these girls, and I told him about one of our volunteers who helped us get many of the bathing suits we handed out. She is involved in her city community center and with various social programs where she routinely encounters kids who don’t have basic stuff they need (proper shoes, bathing suit, shorts etc.). So she makes it a point in her everyday life to look for kids and teen bathing suits (among other items) at yard sales and thrift stores and whenever she finds them she buys them all up, takes them home and washes them, and maintains a stash to pull from whenever she finds a kid who needs something. We were bowled over by how amazingly simple but potentially life changing this one little act could be. Sure, a bathing suit doesn’t sound life changing at first gander. But think about it. Think about being a kid. At a community center with a pool. And you have no bathing suit. Many pools have rules against wearing street clothes in the water. So you’re out. Ineligible. You will miss out on all of those experiences so fundamental to childhood in the summer. You will feel alienated and deprived. You will feel different. When you think about it like that, a bathing suit can be life changing. And it just takes someone like me, who makes enough money to buy a bathing suit AND a pool membership AND a trip to Florida to spend pocket change and spare time to make it happen. My question to myself is: Why would I NOT do something like this?!?
Randy and I wanted to try something new for dinner and we were in the mood for burgers, so we took Guy Fieri’s advice and went to Terry’s Turf Club in Mt. Washington because it is, according to him, “legitimately wild”. And because it lays claim to Ohio’s Best Burger, according to Food Network Magazine. Lately we’ve been giving in to our more timid and lazy tendencies and finding excuses not to branch out and go to new places like we used to love to do. I think we are afraid of what would amount to restaurant failure – the food being bad, the atmosphere being too stressful, the whole thing generally being a hassle (ugh – we sound so boring). But we pushed ourselves out of our nest and hopped over to Terry’s. And despite having to wait 30 minutes outside in the drizzle for a table AND having to sit at the bar, I can still report…..It. Was. Amazing.
The burgers are enormous – I’m thinking at least 1/3 pound and come with all kinds of fancy topping options. Randy got his with bleu cheese, caramelized onions, and a roasted red pepper/goat cheese sauce. I opted for Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and a burgundy wine sauce with wild mushrooms and truffles. I had to ask for a knife and fork to eat mine because it was literally 3x the width of my open mouth. My eating method earned me some good-natured trash talk from Terry – THE Terry – but it was worth it. Please enjoy a photographic tour of the awesomeness that is Terry’s Turf Club. All photos taken with Randy’s iPod, Hipstomatic app.
Terry’s at first glance:
This sign is fun…except I don’t think they serve hot dogs…
The decor WAS legitimately wild…and I’d imagine a bit over-stimulating for those who suffer from attention deficits.
One of the first times sitting at the bar to eat was potentially more enjoyable than having a private table. One thing that struck me about Terry’s was that the staff all legitimately seemed to be having a good time, which was especially refreshing.
Fun stuff to look at while waiting for our burgers, including several of these colorful, metallic, cylindrical beer coolers.
Burgers…..glorious burger – dripping with burgundy wine sauce. And look at that luscious bun.
And now, to roll out of the restaurant and try to squeeze into the car.