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Lilypie Kids birthday Ticker
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
A Little Inspiration to Keep Us Going!

Sunday, February 21, 2010
Uh Oh

This is what happens when you let your child watch Project Runway.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Five, Schmive
Sera got one of those 20 piece puzzles for Christmas.  The pieces were still on the larger size and it was recommended for ages 3 & up.  She and I put it together one time.  After that, she would pull it out and put it together over and over again.  She's been asking for more puzzles, so the other day we picked out this one.  It's 100 pieces for 5 & up.  As you can see, it didn't take her too long to knock it out.  When I opened it and saw it was regular puzzle pieces and no longer the special toddler type, I was a little concerned.  That went away when she had two pieces together within seconds.

Now she didn't do the whole thing alone.  Jim and I both worked on it at different times with her, but she did the majority of it herself.

Jim isn't a big fan of puzzles, but I have fond memories of hours spent with my mom and my sisters working on huge puzzles.  In fact, we rarely ate dinner at the table because it usually had a puzzle on it. I look forward to spending many hours over the years working on puzzles with Sera.


Saturday, February 20, 2010
Understudy in the Audience
The high school where I work is performing their Spring (?) musical this weekend.  It's Beauty and the Beast. I waited until Thursday night to let Sera know that we were going to see it on Friday.  She was very excited and asked to wear her Belle dress.

Needless to say, Sera loved it.  She especially enjoyed meeting the actors afterward.  She was shy at first, but soon got into it.  If I had been seconds faster taking this picture, you would have seen the biggest smile.  She was practically speechless when she met Belle.

Sera's best buddy, Lily, and her mom met us there.  Lily wore her best Snow White dress.  You can imagine the reactions they got from the crowd.  I think they stole the show.

And, no, this was not the Lone Ranger version of Belle.  Since she's a student at my school, I thought it prudent to mask her. Between that and the Belle wig, she's pretty much disguised.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Flying While Fat
The biggest story the last few days has been about Kevin Smith's (director/writer/actor) experience with Southwest Airline and their size policy.

In a nutshell, he was flying a one-hour flight home from a convention.  He'd purchased two seats round-trip because he can afford it, and he wanted more personal space.  He arrived at the airport early and went standby on an earlier flight.  He was the last person seated. Within moments, the same person who had just called him to be seated came and told him that he had to leave the plane because he was too large for his seat. He showed the agent that he fit the criteria.  He was able to buckle his belt, without an extender, and had the armrests down. The agent insisted he deplane.

In a phone conversation with a Southwest corporate employee, she admitted that he had been chosen because he was the last passenger and not because of his size, but they've refused to admit that publicly.

You'll see countless stories out there making fun of "fat" Kevin Smith.  If you read the comments, you'll find some horrific statements by typical internet trolls.

For a different perspective, read this story.


Saturday, February 13, 2010
Is There a Better Way to Spend a Saturday?


Friday, February 12, 2010
I So Cited I Cwy
Today is the first day of our four-day Winter Recess.  Our usual morning routine on school days is for me to get up about 5:15 and get dressed.  I then get Sera up about 5:45 and get her dressed.  On non-school days, Sera is always the first one up.  She comes to our room and climbs into bed. She will usually sleep until 7:30-8ish if I don't wake her.

Not this morning.  She was up at her usual school morning time.  She climbed in to bed with us and dozed until 6:30ish.  The first thing she said to me was "I really want to go to school today, Mommy."  She knew we were doing the wrong morning routine for a school day, but today is a very special day at her school. It's the Valentine's Party.  Our girl never met a party she didn't like.

She carefully planned her outfit for today. I bought this dress for her a few months ago on clearance.  I bought it in a size so she could wear it next year.  it's kind of an odd dress because it's like a Christmas dress.  It's that soft thick velvety type material, but instead of being red with white trim, it's pink with light pink trim.  It has a hood and hearts along the hem.  She didn't care for it when she first tried it on because it's a little big, so it's been hanging in her closet where she can't even see it waiting for next year. In the car on the way home last night, she asked if she could go buy a dress for the party.  I told her no, that we could find something in her closet for her to wear.  She shouted out, "I know.  I can wear my dress with the hearts on the bottom."  It took me a few minutes to remember that she had this dress.  She has her complete wardrobe inventory in her head. 

We still took it easy this morning with Jim not taking her in until 8:30.  In the last few minutes before she left, Sera was sitting by the living room table.  She told me she was so excited about the party that she was going to cry.  Of course, she didn't actually cry. She did leave quite happily with her bag filled with Valentine's, grapes, & bananas.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Who Dat!
It might be Wednesday, but I'm still loving the idea of the New Orleans Saints being the Superbowl champs.  I grew up rooting for the underdogs known as the Saints.  My mom was raised in New Orleans, and I have lived there many times in my life.  I've really been missing New Orleans for a while now.  The last time we were there was just a few months before Katrina hit.  I'm seriously in need of a New Orleans fix. 

Up here in northern Indiana, they try to imitate one New Orleans tradition.  King Cakes are available in the grocery stores from Twelfth Night until Mardi Gras Day.  I remember going to King Cake parties when I was a child.  If you got the piece of cake with the baby, you were supposed to host the party the following year.  I moved back to New Orleans about a year after I graduated from high school and worked for a couple of hotels before returning to college.  The king cake tradition in the office was to bring one in every Friday.  The person who got the baby had to bring in the following week's cake.  It was fun and gave us something to look forward to during some busy weeks. I have absolutely no idea where the idea of baking a small plastic baby into a cake come from.  I do know that originally it was a nut.  Sometimes a dried bean is used.

The second of the two hotels I worked at during this time was the Hyatt Regency.  The Hyatt is physically connected to the Superdome.  In fact, I parked my car in the Superdome parking lot.  I worked as one of the secretaries in the Catering department when I was first hired.  One of the events we catered was a huge Sunday breakfast for the Saints on any home game day.  That year I was able to get Archie Manning to sign a football that I gave my stepbrother for Christmas.

See, it all ties together.  New Orleans, Saints, and King Cakes.

The other day I started looking up the websites for some of the better bakeries in New Orleans to see about ordering a King Cake.  Uh, no.  The going price is $40 plus overnight shipping.  That's crazy!  Then Jim brought home a slice of King Cake on Monday that a coworker had made.  We were talking about it that evening when Jim asked me how hard it would be to just make one.  I had no idea.  I'd never tried.  I checked my computer recipe files and found two I had saved.  I didn't read the directions, but skimmed through the ingredient list.  We had everything we needed. It was pretty obvious on the way home yesterday that today had a strong chance of being a snow day.  I told Jim & Sera that if it were, we'd make a  King Cake.  It was, and we did.

It was so much easier than I thought it would be.  I ended up combining the two recipes.  There were aspects of both I liked better.  A King Cake is basically a brioche that is filled with a cinnamon-sugar blend or a cream cheese and/or fruit filling and topped with icing and purple, green, and gold sugar. I did the cream cheese filling without the fruit. 

King Cake

2 1/4 t dry yeast (or 1 envelope)
1/4 c warm water
1 t sugar
1 t flour
1/2 c milk
1 c butter
1/2 c sugar
2 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
4 c all-purpose flour, approximaely

8 oz cream cheese
1/4 c sugar
2 T flour
2 egg yolks
1 t vanilla

1 16-oz can fruit pie filling, drained, optional

Egg Wash:
1 egg

Icing & Decorative Sugars:
2/3 c powdered sugar
2 t lemon juice, to taste
6-8 t sugar
yellow, green, red, & blue food coloring

Mix the yeast with the warm water. Stir 1 teaspoon of the sugar and 1 teaspoon of the flour into the yeast, and set aside.

Bring the milk to a boil, and stir in the butter and the sugar. Pour into a large mixing bowl.  Let the mixture cool to lukewarm. Beat in the egg yolks, whole eggs and the yeast.

Beat in approximately 2 cups of flour, until the dough is fairly smooth, then gradually add enough additional flour to make a soft dough that you can form into a ball. Knead it, by hand or machine, until smooth and elastic. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer, switching to the dough hook as soon as it started forming a ball.

Lightly oil a bowl, turn the dough once or twice in it to grease it lightly all over, cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Since it's so cold here today, I heated my oven to 110 and then turned it off.  I set the dough inside my oven to rise.

This makes enough dough to make two cakes.  I divided my dough by weight, formed half into a disc, and placed it inside a freezer bag.  It's now living in my freezer waiting to be finished.
Preheat oven to 375.
With the other half, I formed a long sausage-type roll before rolling it out into a rectangular shape.  Roll it out as thin as a pie crust. 
Mix egg with water to create an egg wash. Fold the long edge of the dough over the filling, brush top with egg wash, and then overlap the other edge over the filling as well. It should now look like a long roll folded in thirds. Brush with additional egg wash, if desired, to seal dough. Gently maneuver the cake on to a well-greased or parchment-lined baking sheet forming a circle. As you move the cake to your baking sheet, carefully flip it over so that the seam side is down. Pinch the ends together to form a circle. You can squeeze and form your dough ring to manipulate it into a more even circle. Cover, and let it rest for 30 minutes. Brush with remaining egg wash, and bake for 25-35 minutes. The cake should have risen and be a golden brown. Cool.
Mix powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Add enough water to slightly thin out the icing.  Don't make it too thin like I did.
Separate sugar into three containers.  Mix 2 drops of yellow in one dish, 2 drops of green in the second, and 1 drop each of red and blue into the third.  Mix sugars until you have gold, green, and purple sugar.
Pour icing over cooled cake.  Allow your 3-year-old to sprinkle the sugars liberally over the top.  The messier, the better!


Sunday, February 07, 2010
Stand Back Everyone
Sera's musical tribute to Captain Hammer!

(Sera likes to wear fancy dresses after her nap, but she's not so quick to comb her hair. :O)


Saturday, February 06, 2010
She Wants to Write So Badly

Sera likes to make the shopping list. You can be sure that two of the words are strawberries and grapes.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, February 01, 2010
What Were You Doing Three Years Ago?
Jim and I were walking on the moon.

Three years ago this afternoon, Jim and I received a life-changing phone call.  Here are the words I posted that day:

Jim and I are proud to announce we have a daughter.

Her name is Liang Xiao Sheng. We plan on calling her Sera XiaoSheng. It was going to be Sera Elizabeth XiaoSheng, but we dropped that idea as soon as we saw what letter her name started with. She's from the Liangping SWI in the Sichuan Province, and she was born on April 17, 2006.

We hope to travel in April and have her in our arms before her first birthday. We won't have pictures until next week, but we've been assured she's beautiful. I never doubted that.

These are all the details we know now. Off to make more phone calls and to celebrate.

Life is wonderful!

UPDATE: We will receive more information and photos on Monday.
Here are the photos we received a few days later:

And here's our princess today.  She is a princess; just ask her.  Her name is now Cinderella Tiana Serafina.  Daddy is her Prince Charming, and me?  I'm the wicked stepmother and loving every minute of it.


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