Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pathetically Pumpkin

I think I'm sick.  No, not in the ralphing, wheezing, sneezing sort of way--in the I-have-an-obsession-and-it-may-be-unhealthy sort of way.  My roommate Jake and I are addicted to pumpkin.  Ever since the autumn season has rolled around, we can't get enough... Whenever we see a pumpkin or hear of a pumpkin recipe, our eyes get big and our mouths start salivating.  I suppose you could say that we're starting to suffer from Pavlov's Dog Syndrome (no, I don't know if that really is a diagnosed syndrome, but it works well enough for me).  

Just last Friday, Wallis invited my apartment over for a Sunday dinner party.  Wallis and I were sitting in the kitchen and Jake was in the living room nearly konked out in the lovesac.  Kyle politely declined (not rude... he had his birthday dinner with his family already planned) and Jake somewhat acknowledged the invitation.  Wallis then mentioned that we would be having homemade pumpkin ravioli.  Jake all of a sudden shoots up out of the lovesac and looks over at us with a gleam in his eye (much similar to what I imagine would be in Santa's eye upon seeing a plate of cookies and a glass of milk).  He just sits there and smiles at us, a silent, but most definite rsvp.

Really though, we've made TONS of pumpkin stuff... pumpkin cookies, pumpkin fudge, baked pumpkin, pumpkin french toast, several pumpkin soups, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin pie, pumpkin oatmeal, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cheese ziti... sweet or savory, pumpkin has officially taken over our lives.

We've realized that it's been comical over the last few weeks (we finished off 16 cups of pumpkin puree in a 2 week time period), but last night, we finally conceded to the fact that yes, it is an addiction.  We've had 4 large pumpkins from our other roommate Jim's family's garden sitting in our kitchen for about a week and a half now.  We've been wanting to turn them into puree, but just haven't gotten around to it.  Until last night, that is.  So what do we do? We, two 23 year-old men, start up 4 pots of water and get going on the boiling down of pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin until the wee hours of the night.

Pumpkin cooking in all of it's Autumn glory
Jake, the pumpkin master

Ok, so I lied... I didn't really start doing the pumpkin cooking... I was actually on the phone with my sister in Hawaii when Jake decided to begin his pumpkin conquest.  I came upstairs and was blasted with a good, hard shot of hot humidity.  With water boiling non-stop, our upstairs became quite the sauna.  Nearly everything was fogging up (including my glasses, the clock, and the windows... even the doorknob had a good amount of moisture).  The best part, though, was opening the door because steam just billowed out (unfortunately, it is that cold that you can see steam leaving your apartment).

Yes, that is steam leaving out of our door
Once I got up there, I got to work skinning pumpkin and chopping it all up... because of our lack of quality knives and the excessive amount of cutting, I got a blister at the base of my index finger.

A trash can full of pumpkin peel (plus an empty box of Charleston Chews that Jim has most likely forgotten were in the freezer until he reads this... oops!)


 It was a lot of pumpkin, but at the rate that we went through our first batch of 16 cups, I doubt that we'll struggle using it all.  The night did take its toll on us... we're just not as young as we used to be.  We keep on telling ourselves that we're not going to keep staying up late, but we continue to make the same mistakes over and over.  Because we keep disregarding our better judgment, we end up looking something like this at the end of the night.

Anyway, we obviously have a lot of pumpkin in our house right now... We've tried a lot of different recipes, but if you have any good pumpkin recipes, post a link or the recipe!  We wanna try them!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Flashback Friday--Stand Out!

So once upon a time, back in elementary school, I may or may not have dressed up as a little-known rock star named Powerline for dress-up day at school.  It wasn't Halloween or anything like that... just a day that allowed us kids to do something fun.  Anyway, I felt unbelievably cool as I walked around school dressed in slick sunglasses and a sweat suit with an atom that my mom so lovingly fabric-markered on the front.  My parents were such sports about the whole thing... I remember it being the night before and going through several stores trying to find a yellow something or other that would work for the outfit.  We finally settled on a white sweat suit from Wal-Mart (that's the first and really one of the only times I remember going to Wal-Mart as a kid... we were totally a Target family).  I wish I had pictures of it because I was awesome, but alas, I don't.  The only problem was that when I went to school, no one really knew who I was... they just weren't as cool as I.

Seriously though, who could not love Powerline or A Goofy Movie!?  It was kind of a defining movie and soundtrack of my generation's childhood.  I totally remember going to the movie theater right next to the K-Mart that our neighbors John and Connie worked at.  We parked on the back side of the theater at the bottom of a hill that was covered with that weird plant that grows like weeds... it has kind of thick leaves and if you break the leaves, white stuff strings out.  Anyway, that's completely unimportant and you really don't care.  However, it's my blog and I'll write what I want... On top of being the coolest movie I had ever seen, the movie was extra exciting because my mom bought the kids snack pack (you know... the box with popcorn, a drink, and a tube of m&m minis) for both my sister and me... yup, I got my own!  But I was absolutely enthralled by both the movie and the music.  I wanted to be Max.  When the movie was done, we walked out to the car and I totally danced the entire way to the car, imitating (or at least trying to imitate) every move that Max and Powerline did to their hit singles, Stand Out and I2I.

Even now, I still jam out to those songs, and yes, I most definitely do know all the words.  I still sing along at the top of my lungs and bust out whatever dance moves flow through my body.  It's juvenile, it's "Goofy" (yes, pun absolutely intended), it's absolutely ridiculous, but I have the time of my life doing so!
P.S. You totally do it too!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Party EXTRAVAGANZA!!!

Ok.  So being the activities committee co-chair is a lot more work than I thought it would be!  Well, maybe not... maybe it's just because of the fact that we decided to invite 3 other wards!  Lets just say that this was possibly one of the most epic ward Halloween parties anyone has ever experienced.  I mean, just look at the invitations that I whipped up to advertise this amazingness!

As you can see, there were plenty of activities.  We basically split up the activity amongst all of the members of our amazing committee (bless them! they were absolutely amazing in everything that they did to get this party on it's feet and rolling), which left me with two activities to be in charge of: the fortune-telling booth and the dance (which I might say were two of the biggest successes of the night, but others are more than welcome to dispute this statement).  Not gonna lie, I was really nervous about how they were going to come together.  I mean, I'm good at coming up with ideas and getting people to come to things, but the actual logistics of the ordeal is not necessarily my forte.

 But let me rewind for a moment.  The costumes! Oh were our costumes fantastic!  You see, with my hair being as long as it is, I've gotten a lot of suggestions for possible Halloween costumes: Jimmy Neutron, Johnny Bravo, a greaser... but of all the suggestions, one shone above the rest--Syndrome from the Incredibles.  I got all of the stuff together for my costume (worst part: the fact that you can only buy whitey tighties in 4-packs!) and I borrowed my aunt and uncle Rochelle and Dale's Incredibles costumes for my roommates. (Yes, this is the wave at the bus uncle that you readers are oh so fond of.)  We looked great!

Kyle: Mr. Incredible   Me: Syndrome   Jake: Dash   Jim: Jack-Jack

Helping Jake get his mask on

Wallis wasn't able to get into the Incredibles garb until actual Halloween, so she opted for a pirate for the tail-end of the party that she was able to go to (she got called into work, much to her dismay).  But it worked out fine and she was an amazing Violet for our trip up to Rochelle and Dale's on Monday night.

Pirate Mode

Ok, so now that I got all of my costume excitement out of the way, the party.  The fortune-teller booth that I got set up was Un.Believable!  The way the party basically worked was that each activity was hosted in a different apartment down the street, and the apartment that we chose for the fortune-teller booth couldn't have been more perfect!  For whatever reason, the girls in that apartment happened to just have tons of trinkets and fabric and pillows and whatnot--all perfect for what would probably be in a gypsy's lair.  I went over to their place before the party to see what kind of stuff they had that we could use, and they confidently told me that they had this one down.  I went in to see it right before the party and I practically fell to the floor!  The decor couldn't have been more perfect.  Anyway, if the ambiance wasn't perfect enough, the fortune tellers I got were the best ever!  My friends Kylie and Lauren were kind enough to come to the party and entertain the guests.  They even did it last minute because the people I had originally gotten bailed last minute.  So not only did they save the day, but they did it in great style.  Heck! they aren't even in my stake, let alone any of the wards that attended!  I definitely owe them all sorts of baked goods because they were most definitely the main attraction of the evening.

Kylie the Fortune Femme Fatal and Lauren the Gorgeous Ginger Gypsy
Just one of the shrines of gadgets and gizmos a-plenty
The line of people out the door waiting to get their fortunes told

The rest of the activities were great too and it everyone really had a great time.


We ended the night with a dance... there were a few scares with getting it all set, but it was of the most epic proportions!

Me just being Mr DJ
The only bad part was trying to get all the gel, hairspray, and coloring junk out of my hair.  I swear, I washed it 5 times and it still felt like there was all sorts of nastiness in it!  Also, all four of us guys looked like we had hard-core mascara on during Stake Conference the next day because of the leftover residue from the black face paint that we used for masks.  We tried, but I guess there really are reasons for products like make-up remover.

It kind of looks like someone was trying to make orange jell-o in our tub.

So, outcome of the party? Epic Success? I think yes!  
I'm just glad it's over!

Monday, October 31, 2011

"You have a funny face."

Saturday morning.  Yuk.  I think that that's most all I can say about it.  So I had TONS of planning and errands to run all day Saturday for my ward's big Halloween party, and the stress of it was weighing heavily on me.  My car needed an oil change, so I scheduled one for 8:30 am, figuring that that would give me plenty of to get everything done that I needed to get done before the party began at 7. 

I get to Firestone (I had a coupon, so of course it's the only option!) and give them my keys and whatnot.  They take it in and I'm thinking, awesome... timing is gonna be fine.  Well, they come out and inform me that I'm due for safety and emissions.  I go ahead and get it done.  I figured that I could save money somewhere else, but the convenience factor of just having it done right there made it worth it to just go ahead and get it over with.  Time goes by and the dude informs me that my car is in great need of a transmission flush, a coolant flush, and something else I can't remember... he explains it all to me and it was legit--no scamming or anything, my car really did need it--so I concede and let the bill ring higher.  What's my new total, you ask? 260 big ones.  Yup, what I was expecting to be a $20 visit then turned $45, all of the sudden racks up an additional $215.  Ouch... it's a good thing that I have some leftover student loan money!

 So an additional hour and a half goes by and I'm wondering when they're going to be done.  It's now 11:00 and I was supposed to be out of there over an hour earlier.  I passed some of the time by by reading ESPN magazine (yes, believe it!  Cameron actually opened a sports mag!) and "making friends" with a two year-old named Cameron.  I put "making friends" in quotations because halfway through my conversation with mini-Cameron, he looks at me and says, "You have a funny face."  The shop was packed and everyone just gave an uncomfortable look--you know, the kind where a kid says something and no one really knows how to react to it... do you laugh or scold or smile, or ignore?  Even I didn't really know what to say other than thank you.

Well I'm still sitting there, and finally, the mechanic man comes up to me and says, "So here's the situation.  The guy that was working on your car dropped one of your transmission clips down the drain, and we're trying to find a place that is open (it's Saturday, remember) that sells your part.  We're having one heck of a time finding one, so it's going to be at least another hour before we can start working on your car again."  What!?  I'm already way behind schedule.  I was supposed to have started all my errands and such started two hours ago! 

I call up Kyle and he graciously gets out of bed to come and pick me up (there's no way that I want to spend another hour in that place flipping through the same old pictures of football players about whom I couldn't care less).  We get home and while I start doing what little I can to get ready for the party, Kyle goes and becomes an even better roommate and makes waffles.  He's such an awesome roommate.  Well we go back an hour later and they found a place that sells the part, but it isn't there yet and they quote me at least another hour.  Ugh.  This is not good; not good at all.

This cycle goes on for another while, and I finally get my car at 2:00 pm.  Yes, that's right.  My hour-long appointment just turned into a 5 1/2 hour long appointment.

Once again, though, Kyle is my inspiration and guides me through what I should say to be tactfully displeased to get some sort of compensation for the inconvenience.  Mind you, I don't do this.  I just feel bad asking for a discount for anything like that; even though it was in no way my fault.  The guy is really nice about it all and he gives me the safety and emissions for free and a card for a free lube oil filter for the future.  It was only discounted to $218, but it was still something to make me feel better about the situation.  I guess it's a lesson to me to be assertive and tactful... 2 things that I'm not good at at all. 

The rest of the day was high stress with the getting everything all set for the party and all (I did lose over four hours of valuable time, after all), but it went unbelievably well and was a HUGE success.  I'll be blogging about it tomorrow (hopefully.... so long as I can find time to get the post set to my liking), so check in to see pictures and some of the drama that went down (not that much drama, but once again, I'm glad that there are some assertive people on my committee!).

Friday, October 28, 2011

Flashback Friday--Your Favorite Big Red Dog

A couple weeks ago I blogged about hula-hooping in Wal-Mart.  What I didn't tell you was that once we got back to Eric's place, I passed one of the best lawn ornaments I think I've ever seen--not because of how clever or cute or grandiose it was, but because of how it brought me right down memory lane.

Yes, that is most definitely a red dog, a miniature Clifford sitting on a front porch right here in Provo!  I may or may not have gotten really excited and made enough of a commotion about it that the people that lived there came out to see what was going on right as we were leaving.  We didn't meet them, but it made me laugh that they came outside because they knew that someone was outside talking about their conversation-piece lawn ornament.

  You see, my mom's a librarian, so the love for books has been instilled in me since before I can remember.  My parents really saw value in books and were consistent in making sure that the books that we read and the books that they purchased for our home collection were of the utmost quality.  If there was an option between hardback or paperback, hard won every time.  I guess that means that Clifford the Big Red Dog fell under the category of quality reading.  That, or maybe they just liked that Clifford's owner and my sister shared the name Emily.  Either way, I'm glad they approved because it was one of my favorites back in my picture book days.

Yay for good books and quality children's literature.  Where would we be without it!?