Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Why Behind the Tea Party

Yesterday I posted about an upcoming event that is near and dear to my heart: The FHU Associates' Victorian Tea Party. (And almost blew a mental fuse over incomprehensible formatting issues. But that's entirely beside the point. Moving on.) I first fell in love with this tea party eight years ago, the very first year it was held. My friend Ashley and I went together, to celebrate her birthday, I think, which was a few days later. I remember that it was perfect-beyond-perfect weather and we sat, for HOURS, at a tea table in the backyard of the elegant Hardeman House. A portion of the time we sat with Beverly and Olivia Bradford, I also remember. It was so nice to sit and enjoy talking and trying cute little foods and sipping tea. So nice that, not even a month later, I told the committee chair, Debbie McLaughlin, that I would love to be on the committee. And I've been on it ever since.

There have been years that I've thought, "I'm SO incredibly busy that I can't possibly have time to be on the tea party committee this year, too. HOW will I get everything done?" But I just couldn't imagine not being involved. And we have the most fun committee meetings EVER. In the history of the world. I cannot lie. There are scones involved. This year we even had a scone party at one of our meetings, which I think we could present as a separate event at another time - and raise money at that, too! Yes, we audition our recipes - we make notes and tweak and experiment separately and together. At one of our meetings we have a tea-tasting to select which two teas we will serve that year. Debbie, the Queen of the tea party, a rare person whose CPA tendencies intersect quite well with her creativity, has made a spreadsheet to keep track of which teas are the most popular at our tea-tastings. This year we will be serving Madame Butterfly Jasmine, a green tea with jasmine. It is impossibly delicious. It almost reminds me of taking a sip of honeysuckle. Normally, I am not a green tea person. It is much too bland...but with jasmine or citrus or peppermint, well, that's a whole 'nother story! And the other tea we're serving is Norfolk Blend, a more streamlined black tea, which is also very good. Streamlined = no flowers or fruity flavors, for those of you who cannot stand to drink anything flowery. And that's O.K., I previously did not enjoy fruity or flowery teas. And some...I still don't. For instance, rose tea...ah, wouldn't you think it would taste so delightful and sweet? Sigh. It doesn't. It soooo doesn't. It tastes pretty icky. Also, strawberry tea tastes like Robitussin...I am here to warn you. You learn lots of things at many years of tea-tastings. =)

Well, anyway. The actual event is lovely, the hours of planning are lots of fun (for the most part), and I just adore a good tea party. But, over the years, this tea party has become...more than that for me. It represents spending a part of yourself...your time, your energy, your ideas...on something important. Something that's not over with after the event is over. See, the whole point of everything that the Freed-Hardeman University Associates do, all year long, every year...is to raise money for the school. Specifically for student scholarships. Over the years, the Associates have raised over THREE million dollars for FHU. That's nothing to shake a stick at. They've provided money for building buildings and other projects, but mostly, there are the scholarships. Money given to worthy students who would like to receive a Christian education, but might not be able to afford it otherwise. I have fallen completely in love with that idea. I love it because I loved being a student at FHU. And while my dad is a professor there and I received free tuition and, yes, I was one of the lucky ones, I know that if I hadn't been in that situation, I would have done everything I could have to still attend FHU. Which would have meant scholarships, in a big way.

The tea party has become of utmost importance to me because it's something that I enjoy, that I can do, that I'm good at...and it's something that truly MATTERS. It makes an actual difference in young adults' lives. And when you're a teenager and you're trying to "find yourself," it's an excellent time to also find God, if you haven't already - or to get to know Him more deeply. I have always been partial to one of FHU's logos: Learning How to Live and How to Make a Living. How perfect is that?? Because, when you get down to it, you've got to make a living. For many people, the answer is college. But when you can attend a college that also shows you how to LIVE, how can you turn that down? Sure, some godly people have attended state schools and community colleges. Of course they have. (My husband is one of them. He's one of four kids and he didn't think he could afford FHU, even though he knew a lot of people who came here to school. I so wish he had known about Associates' scholarships.) Speak of the "bubble" if you will, but you've got the rest of your life to live outside it. And the Bible charges us with taking the gospel to everyone we come into contact with. It's a beautiful thought that young adults have the opportunity to be strengthened - and then to strengthen in return. When you consider the whole scheme of things...the big picture...that we're here only a very short time and for a very specific purpose, well, Christian education seems one of the most worthy causes to work toward.

No, I don't get paid for my work with the FHU Associates...I don't get paid with actual green money anyway. But never you fear, I do get paid nonetheless.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Real-Life, Non-Political Tea Party!

Be our guest at tea time! The FHU Associates invites all ladies to our eighth annual Victorian Tea Party on Saturday, May 1, 2010 from 1:00-4:00pm, once again to be held at the lovely Hardeman House. This has become a premier event for the ladies of Henderson and the surrounding areas, and it continues to grow from year to year, as ladies of all ages keep bringing new friends to share the experience with. Leisurely taking tea at a pretty table laden with delightful finger foods is a wonderfully special way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Not only is there the tea party itself, but there are numerous venues ranging from making paper dolls for the little ladies - to interesting lessons on the preparation of hot tea - or needlework projects, such as this year's candlewicking, for the grown-up ladies. A much-frequented area is the Tea Boutique, whose offerings will allow one to recreate their own tea parties at home. Wonderful memories are made at this event; for a tangible remembrance, there will be family, group, or individual portraits taken by Jud Davis, which can be purchased for a nominal fee. 

Yes, there are many families with multiple generations who attend this event every year, but if you don't have daughters or granddaughters, please don't let that stop you! We think YOU especially might need a girls' day out. =) Bring a friend or three to relax and enjoy a lovely afternoon. 

Tea Menu:

Savory Cucumber Sandwiches

Spicy Cheddar Pimento Sandwiches
White Chocolate Cherry Scones with Chocolate Cream and Cherry Butter
Chocolate Raspberry Tassies
Mini Spongecakes with Jasmine Tea Buttercream
Rosemary Parmesan Hearts
Lemon Turnovers
Fruit in Season
Madame Butterfly Jasmine Tea
Simply the best green tea with a heavenly jasmine fragrance.
Norfolk Blend Tea
A robust black tea blend perfect for a morning wake-up call or a lovely afternoon tea party.
Tickets for this event are now available! Check with the FHU University Store, Lookin' Good hair salon, or Happy Kids' Consignment Store...or call Doris Maness at 989-2641. You may also contact me at Kristen4815@gmail.comADVANCE ticket prices are $15.00 for adults and $8.00 for children 3-10; Tickets BOUGHT AT THE DOOR are $18.00 for adults and $10.00 for children. Children under 3 are admitted free of charge. Payment is by cash or check; checks should be made to the FHU Associates. ALL proceeds go toward student scholarships.

Go to: http://www.fhu.edu/associates/teaparty.aspx for more information and pretty pictures. =) Feel free to spread the word to any other ladies who might be interested.

Thank you!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Try to Contain Yourself...

So...we didn't have such good luck with our full garden last year. And when I say "we," I really mean Jeremy. Bless his heart, I have to admit, I was stressed out at work last summer and the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was to brave the sweltering heat that we know so well here in the South. Even though I was all gung-ho to plant things at the beginning because...I love herbs! And tomatoes! And squash! And sunflowers! And I love cooking with them! Well, not the sunflowers, but you technically could. Now, the sunflowers did sprout up beautifully and I enjoyed them. A lot. See?

But the rest of the stuff didn't do so great. Man, I hate weeds. We did have a very few new potatoes that were quite delicious, but it was kind of pain to figure out when they were ready to be harvested. ("Are they still too small? Should we dig them up? Should we not? How can we TELL?") Those potatoes, they were tricky. But anyway, we had one teensy ear of corn that Jeremy brought to me. I cannot lie to you - the taste was amazing...so sweet! But it was only a few inches long - and it was the only one! So disappointing!

So my husband made a stand. "No more gardens until I'm retired!" And I completely understood.

But I've always grown herbs...well, "always" is not quite correct...but for "several years" I have grown herbs in the summer. In pots. Basil, most particularly. Because it is quite ridiculous how much I adore basil. The smell makes me swoon! Sometimes...even at Lowe's, where I am not even the owner of it yet...I rub one of the leaves of a basil plant and then breathe it in. I'm pretty sure I close my eyes, too. I inherited my love of basil from my mother. She, too, swoons at just the smell of it wafting in the air.

Cooking with it is pretty marvelous, too. I have made pesto many times in my day and I will still want to order anything containing pesto when I eat at an Italian restaurant.

So, even though my husband has stated "No garden"...I automatically think that the herbs are not part of that. They're just not, O.K.?? But I had a difficult time growing the basil and mint last year in the containers I had. I'm not sure why, but I think it was a drainage issue. So...somehow...we started thinking about a container garden. Here are the reasons:

1. They are contained. This is obvious, but important. This is not a HUGE garden area that we will have to spend LOTS of HOURS weeding and watering and picking and caring for.

2. Speaking of weeds, a container garden is supposed to be superior about keeping out the weeds in the first place. And seeing as how we HATE weeds (the dandelions are the bane of Jeremy's existence right now), this was just sounding better and better.

3. This container garden can be reused every year without a lot of fuss and prep.

We went to Lowe's. This is not unusual. Jeremy loooves Lowe's. Oh, how he loves Lowe's! And I really enjoy it, too, especially when there are plants and containers and garden things to look at. Lowe's had a 4x4 container garden that you could purchase. We had looked at it in the sales circular and we looked at it in the store, cocking our heads from side to side, trying to make a decision. It was $69.00. Finally, my husband, aka "The Frugal One" (though I can be quite frugal a majority of the time, too) says,"I think we can make that for a lot cheaper." So we did. Of course, I had seen how to construct a container garden not too long ago on the Pioneer Woman's website, so that had sold me. =)

We decided to construct a 4x4 container much like the one Lowe's offered (but was sold out of - they're pretty popular) so that it would be easy to reach anything inside very easily. We chose cedar wood because treated lumber is a no-no for areas where you'll be eating the fruit of your labors. We weren't sure about that so we had to look it up...because Jeremy said, "I'd hate to be saying, 'This bell pepper tastes great! But suddenly I don't feel so good,'" as he doubled over in almost believable agony outside the treated lumber area at Lowe's.

We bought exterior screws, which won't rust (thank you, Pioneer Woman!). We bought potting soil- mostly the cheap stuff and then some of the better variety; it's apparently best to mix it. We chose sweet basil, cinnamon basil, mint, romaine lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, green and red bell peppers...and two lovely, lovely strawberry plants! I have never grown strawberries, but my friend Margaret always does, so I wanted to try. I buy them often at the store and they are usually stinkin' expensive, so I'm hoping this will stop me from having to spend so much money on strawberries!

Here's the kicker...we spent the same amount of money on EVERYTHING we needed that we would have spent on ONLY the 4x4 box container. We would have still had to buy the potting soil and the plants, so win-win. (Or win-win-win if you've seen The Office episode "Conflict Resolution." One of my favorite episodes.) We were pretty excited.

In the Pioneer Woman's tutorial, she spoke of the need to drill pilot holes. I had to ask Jeremy what those were...apparently, you have to drill a hole where you are going to put in a screw or else the wood will not have a place to go and the wood will split. Makes sense. I don't have any pictures of us actually putting this box container together...because I was the one drilling the pilot holes and screwing the whole thing together! Can you believe it?? It's the honest truth. I'm a girly girl, but my dad has always showed me how to do things and now Jeremy has taken over. I kinda like to learn new things like that, so this whole experience was so much fun for me! It was a little bit of hard work, but I loooved getting to spend the whole day with Jeremy working on our project. I mean, I really loved it. =) And then we went to Makin' Music that night. So now you know what a great day it was for me! ;)

Jeremy already had some weed prevention netting or whatever that we rolled out and tacked to the inside of the container. Then we dumped in the potting soils and got to planting. I did decide to plant the mint elsewhere because it would have taken over the whole area. It is now contained somewhere else.

Oh! And we also discovered some volunteer leaf lettuce that we had planted last year, but it never came up. So I transplanted it into the new space.

The finished project...

We had too many tomato and bell pepper plants to fit into the original container garden, so a few days later Jeremy started a new experiment. Some guys he works with always put huge sheets of cardboard on top of the ground in their garden. They cut holes in cardboard and the plants grow through it, but the weeds don't. Woo hoo, right? He staked it in the ground with pieces of wire coathangers so it wouldn't blow away. I gotta tell ya, this was one of the strangest ideas I'd ever heard, but I decided to roll with it. And the plants LOVE it. We had some really puny-looking pepper plants that immediately got really happy with their choice of location. It holds in the moisture super well.

That wasn't a pepper plant, lest you want to correct me. It's one of the tomato plants. But it's definitely happy, too!

I was calling the container garden, well, "the container garden" - and I was totally planning on calling the other one "the cardboard garden." But Jeremy had better ideas.

Meet the Cedar Garden:

And the Cardigarden:

I'm quite positive there will be more posts concerning these two plots of ground. And I'm pretty positive one of them (or more) may concern the lengths we'll have to go to to keep certain squirrels, birds, and rabbits out of them.

Happy Earth Day! To celebrate, I'll leave you with a few more pretty pictures of growing things in our yard...I love the fact that God chose to gift us humans with beautiful things to surround us. As someone who appreciates great design, I marvel at the variety of colors and shapes and scents of outdoorsy things. I like feeling that I'm a kid again when I discover some new flower or how much something has grown since last summer.

A new calla lily!

Our crazy tree...

Wild violets...they never last long enough in a vase, but I love them!

A lone, pale pink tulip...

...a home for a tiny spider.

Our plum trees that bloomed a few weeks ago - I'll planning to make plum jelly this year!

I just love phlox! Love it.

And vinca vine, too...

May you soon find yourself digging in the dirt, too. =)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Top Ten Favorite 2010 Makin' Music Moments

I did not take this picture. I'm guessing that Kristi Montague did? 
You can see more here.

Oh, there are soooo many things I want to post about these days...Jeremy and I have been digging in the dirt all weekend - and though it's been quite tiring, I've loved every minute of it. We constructed and planted a container garden, which I am beyond excited about. If you've never heard of a container garden, you may be wondering something along the lines of, "You're growing containers??" - like my friend Ashley thought. Well, it seemed like a good idea...we're always losing those lids to our Gladware containers - and now we'll have an endless supply!

Just kidding. ;) But wouldn't that be cool?? I'll answer that. It would. It would be very cool.

I'm going to keep you in suspense, though, about what a container garden reeeally is (well, except you...you Googler! *Disclaimer below) a little longer. Because what you want to know FIRST is what I thought about Makin' Music this year. Right? Am I right?? Maybe not. I had no comments on that last post. ;) But I did have lots of comments on Facebook when I posted it last year, so here goes nothing!

Top Ten Favorite 2010 MMM:

1. The finale! It sounds funny to talk about the finale first, but I can't help it. It was unbelievably awesome. I'm posting the link again for the Finale sneak peek - though I'm hoping they'll put up the real thing later! Hint, hint. It might have been the best finale ever. Throughout the show the hosts and hostesses sounded just fantastic - separate AND (most of all) together. Tight harmonies, the whole bit. It was seriously impressive. I have not watched American Idol this year, but from what I've heard...any of the six Makin' Music hosts and hostesses are faaar better than any AI contestants this time around. 

2. The theme. Well, actually I loved the description of the theme the most. It was so nice to hear one of the emcees read the words of the two student coordinators. It made me extremely proud of my alma mater.

"This year, our theme is love.

Love is just one of the gifts God has given us, as beings created in His likeness. And we are commanded to love - to love ourselves, our families, each other, our God - even, to love our enemies. It is at the heart of Christian living. Love requires nothing and, yet, requires all. Neither wealth nor success is necessary to love. Everyone can love. And nothing can keep us from showing our love. It is love - a Christian love - that ensures our students, staff, and community understand what guides our lives. So, in love, the students have chosen to make a donation to a worthwhile organization in our community.

'And now abideth faith, hope, love these three; but the greatest of these is love.' (I Corinthians 13:13) Love is the thing that holds us together and ensures that we help others along the way. Love is the reason we have hope for an eternity with our God.

We dedicate this program to love - love for all those around us, love for all things good and right, and love for God. Show your love for others throughout the coming year. 'How 'bout love?' We can't live without it.

We love you all. Thanks for sharing this experience with us."

3. The videos were quite hilarious. I enjoyed 'em all! Most of them starred the emcees and they really did a great job with them. Funny stuff. Never heard of that Nate kid before but I'm gonna be looking out for him from now on! Jeremy thought he was hilarious, too. That Dr. Phil impersonation! I'm giggling right now. To see some of these videos - and deleted and behind-the-scenes stuff, spend some time here: Backstage Stuff.

Now, "The Swing" short wasn't hilarious - it wasn't meant to be - but it was moving. I admit it...I teared up. Over a swing. It was too cute. I'm positive it had something to do with the background music from "UP" - and the sweet girls and their mama who starred in it. Surely they'll put them online soon! I gotta say (or maybe I don't gotta, but I think I'm gonna) that I enjoyed the videos more than the onstage emcee skits. Is that bad? I think the audience as a whole would prefer the videos interspersed in the show and then have the emcees just announce things live at the appropriate times. Just a thought...;)

4. The club shows, as a whole. I love the idea of them...the idea that these kids work for a year on each club production. They think up funny lyrics...they pick awesome songs to insert funny lyrics into...they scour fabric stores for the perfect costumes...they make up synchronized choreography...they teach their whole club to sing in harmony. And then the whole cast practices for HOURS on end to get everything just so. If you're never actually gonna be in a Broadway production, this is a stinkin' great way to pretend for a little while! Or if you're never gonna be a NY tourist, this is a stinkin' great way to pretend you are.

ALL of the clubs worked so hard. I commend every single cast member of every single show...it was a thoroughly entertaining production! =)

5. Chi Beta Chi's "Ear-Replaceable." This was my pick to win first place - and they totally did! The farmer's daughter had an amazing voice (loved the song from Wicked), the scarecrows were adorable, the moves of the cornstalks mimicked a real cornfield, and the tin men machines had appropriate sharp choreography, too.

Yes, I am a proud former member of XBX, it's true. But I can admit it if one of their shows just doesn't measure up. (By the way, I do not believe in the possibility that only one club has the ability to win every single time. Whenever I hear that someone else has a differing view, I often feel the desire to instruct them to, "Get a grip!" That may not be helpful. I don't think I've ever actually said it. But I've thought it...oh, I've thought it.)

Anyway...beside the point...this year's Chi Beta show made me smile a big, goofy grin the entire time they were onstage. They looked perfect, they sounded perfect, their moves were perfect, their plot was perfect. Basically, if you hate perfection, you would hate their show. You may be telling ME to "Get a grip!" right now. That's O.K. if you are. But it was more than perfection...I happen to know that the cast members totally enjoyed their show this year...and that they would still have enjoyed it and have been proud of it even if they hadn't won. I strongly believe in enjoying yourself during Makin' Music. If you're not having fun with it, something is wrong.

6. My other favorite was the new club - Theta Nu Epsilon. If Chi Beta didn't win, I knew Theta Nu was going to. The costumes were beautiful and I loved their songs. I thoroughly enjoyed the fireflies (they had blinking lights...don't try to tell me that wasn't just cool) and wished their intro. to the Justin Timberlake song could have been longer. The "Mason jar" that the nerdy "little boy" "caught" them in was awesome - "No Air" was the best song for that instance. (Boy, there were a lot of quotation marks in that sentence. All warranted.) Mason is the real name of the "little boy" and he was so funny. Loved it all! The grasshoppers, the butterflies, the ladybugs...great Makin' Music show!

7. Sigma Rho's song and choreography to "Thriller." It was a superb ending to their show and the audience ate it up. Excellent job!

8. LOST references in Gamma Tau Omega's "Cruise Control" show. Those guys made me very happy when I saw that their cruiseliner was named Oceanic. ;) Clever.

9. The showband. Seems like they had fewer members in it this year, but they sounded fabulous! Nice cameo by Dr. Kippy Myers in "Sweet Home Chicago," too!

10. The entire cast and audience holding hands and singing "A Common Love" at the end of the show, as usual. It wouldn't be the same without it. It sounded sooo pretty that I thought of Heaven...and how the singing will sound there...and how we're all trying to get there...together. Which is the whole point of Freed Hardeman's existence. 

11. There's a number 11 that's trying to sneak past me...alright, I'll give in. ;) The awesomeness of this show would not be possible without these three people: Tony Allen, the producer; Kim Scott, the clubs director; and Peggy Weaver, the host and hostess director. And numerous students who worked on the program, the merchandising, and so on and so on. Once again, I applaud these people for the sheer amount of time and energy and creativity and just plain hard work that they put into this show. Thank you.

*"Googler" is actually a very positive term, in my book. I am a proud Googler! When I think back to the days of bound encyclopedias, I just shake my head...now, I'm not for getting rid of books altogether. I'm not sure I could enjoy a book on Kindle as much as holding one in my hot little hands. I mean, my dad is a book publisher...so buy books! Buy lots of books!!! But just not encyclopedias. I love Google. End of disclaimer.

Monday, April 5, 2010

I Heart Makin' Music

Photo courtesy of Becky Welch

There are NEW 2010 video updates below...

It is almost time for Makin' Music at FHU...if you know me at all, you probably know just how happy this makes me! Sure, sometimes the happiness stems from the fact that I don't have to do anything but buy tickets and show up...instead of HOURS of practice instead of doing other (more studious) things, numerous bruises and sore muscles, and a hoarse voice (because invariably I - and lots of other people - would get sick about a week before the actual show....they don't call it "Makin' Mucus" for nothin' ;) AnyWAY, I loved it even then. Even though it took everything I had to memorize that choreography. Seriously, people, I'm just not very coordinated, no matter how much I wish I were. But I worked for it and my arms and feet would finally submit and do what they were supposed to do...what our XBX directors told them to do. And the singing - now that came more easily. I love to harmonize and I love singing with a big group of people! And though I was in some winning shows, which was sigh! wonderful, I cherished singing "A Common Love" at the end of each show with the audience and whole cast every bit as much as performing on stage.

The whole experience is something I already look forward to the next year...while I am exiting Loyd Auditorium after Saturday night's final show of that year. It happens every time. Now, I admit, there have been some years where I looked forward to the next year's show because a certain show didn't really come together like I had been hoping. BUT! Not last year. The past few years have gotten better and better and BETTER. I was never more proud of Makin' Music as a whole than I was last year - the 2009 show. That's why I'll be watching this year's Makin' Music three times, hopefully. (Still looking for two good tickets for Saturday night. Anyone?)

Now, here are three fun behind-the-scenes videos (from 2010) I just came across on YouTube. I am not usually one for spoilers for any TV show I watch, but somehow I am O.K. with this kind of spoiler. Actually, it only makes me more excited. =)

Club show previews

Emcee preview

Finale preview

To make this a superlong post...this next Ode to Makin' Music was written after last year's show and I'm reposting it from Facebook...hope you enjoy!

I Heart Makin' Music...especially the 2009 edition

There’s a great sense of pride for me that my granddaddy, then FHU (actually FHC) President – Dr. E. Claude Gardner – had a part in the creation of this student-based show that’s become bigger than anyone ever thought it would. I mean, I guess that’s true. I reeeally don’t think anyone could have predicted that a small student production that started out in Bader Gym would eventually turn into a musical extravaganza with professional-style lighting and sound, a stunning showband, and hundreds of exceedingly talented students entertaining audiences of thousands. Have you ever seen footage of the really old shows?? It’s literally mind-blowing (alright, not literally – but I needed to stress the point) how much has changed since the inception of Makin’ Music 31 years ago.

But on to the good stuff…I remember, with great fondness, going to as many Makin’ Music shows during a weekend as I could possibly get tickets to. The singing college guys were swoon-worthy, and I couldn’t wait to one day have a costume of my own as I choreographed in sync with my castmates. Sigh! Make fun if you will, but there’s just something about it…the time, the energy, the over-the-top sequined costumes, the finally-getting-it-right feeling that washes over you when the show is ready to be shown. It’s truly something you’ll never forget. Especially that drawn-on fake mustache if you’re a girl and blonde wig if you’re a guy…

Not every year of Makin’ Music is exactly great. I have been let down a few times, but there were always redeeming qualities about each year and always the hope of “next year,” so I was never too horribly disappointed that I couldn’t recover my excitement in time for the next edition. But I don’t want to focus on the less-than-stellar years. I don’t even want to focus on the past years that I truly LOVED. I want to talk about THIS year. I cannot convey to you how impressed I was with Makin’ Music this past weekend. From the beginning to the end, I was loving the feel, the look, and the sound of this year’s production. I saw it twice – Friday night and Saturday night. And I would go watch it again if Tony Allen said, “Just kidding! One more time…Tuesday night at 7:30.” Oh, yeah, I’d be there.

The club shows have always had me mesmerized. (I like synchronized swimming and skating, too…) For years, I have daydreamed about writing a Makin’ Music club show…just for fun. If any of my readers are future directors and need an idea, ask me privately. XBX get first dibs, though. ;) Anyway…Bradley Gean, I didn’t even recognize you the first night! What a great idea that Chi Beta had this year…a black and white TV show becoming color. Clever, clever! I’m very proud of you guys and know you all are pleased with your first place in the sweepstakes.

All of the club shows were great this year – there were none that I was like, “Oh, bless their hearts” about. One shock I got was that Sig didn’t win first place in costumes…they were beautiful. And I liked the “Nursery Rhyme” theme you guys did a lot. And GTO, those cafeteria “ladies” had me cracking up. Nice makeover! I liked it even better the second time I saw it. One thing I firmly believe is the judges should see at least TWO shows. You can’t possibly pick up on everything watching it only once. That’s my two cents about judging.

So, on to PKA…lucky for you to have gotten Miss Kimberly as your queen – she was a beautiful soloist. (You know, I was impressed with all of the soloists this year. I am so proud of the talent of the FHU student body.) And there was this twist at the end of your show that was a little unexpected, so kudos. =)

Xi Chi, you have a Jeremy Hicks, too, so I love you just for that. And I want one of those Chinese dresses. I might even wear it in public! When have I ever said that about a Makin’ Music costume?? Pretty sure I haven’t. The flashlight fireworks were a nice touch, too.

The showband was awesome this year! At first I wasn’t sure what I thought about not having an all-student showband, but it didn’t take me long to come around. It was pretty cool to still have the Dean brothers involved and there were some students who apparently played with their group, so that was good enough for me.

As for the emcees, I liked the grouping of three…great job, Phillip and Garrett! And I don’t know Whitney, but she did well with the guys. I enjoyed that the scripts were coordinated with the club shows and other stuff. The whole show seemed cohesive, which was super nice. I also loved, loved, LOVED the video work. The Bachelor at FHU…great stuff. FHU Cribs? Brilliant! Of course, I was pretty proud of my dad showing off his “ride.” I laughed out loud many times during Makin’ Music this year and, well, I really like to laugh. That’s one reason I married Jeremy Hicks (mine – not Xi Chi’s/Leslie Oxendine’s) and that’s one reason I loved Makin’ Music this year. There are multiple reasons for both and I’m getting to another major reason why I loved MM ’09…

The hosts and hostesses…brilliant selection of each one. There have been some great voices that have graced the stage of Loyd Auditorium in the past, but not every one of their owners has had “stage presence.” Each one of the kids this year had it. (I can call you “kids.” I’m over 30.) But where were the solos this year? Wait, did I miss them? Oh…nope, I didn’t. I was much too enthralled with the harmonies of all of them singing together. When I heard “Boondocks” last year, I thought it was the most genius host/hostess song I’d ever heard. And apparently, the Powers That Be thought so, too, because we had many more songs along the same lines this year, which made me incredibly happy. I downloaded “Distraction #74,” “Life in a Northern Town,” “Bleeding Love,” and “Home” after I saw Friday night’s performance. (I already owned “Come Home.”) Seriously, I made my own Makin’ Music soundtrack. I’ve got to dig out my Beatles CDs and add ‘em to it. Now if they’ll just do Mindy Smith’s “Tennessee” sometime…it’d be apropos.

Now to choreography…the smooth (and un-dorky) “moves” of the hosts/hostesses have steadily improved other the years and this year was perfect. The Stellar Six (as opposed to the Fab Four…) rocked it out (have I ever used that phrasing in my life?? Probably not.) and had SO MUCH FUN. I could tell. I loooooved that. And I enjoyed that the guys all played instruments and I want to copy the girls’ wardrobes for myself. Of course, it didn’t hurt that they were all handsome and pretty to look at. I knoooow that looks should not be that important, but one time I watched a stage version of “Romeo and Juliet” and Juliet was short, dumpy, and unattractive - and Romeo was tall, gangly, and unattractive. I was so bored, I couldn’t wait for the play to end! That being said, there’s definitely more to “looks” than actual physical looks – I guess it all goes back to stage presence. Yeah, I just consulted my memory and there have been some “attractive” hosts and hostesses in the past that haven’t had “it.” So, ignore my last point. I’m not going to take it out, though, because compliments are nice…but Emma, Madison, Sarah, Jeremy, Aaron, and Glenn…you’ve got more than looks. And don’t you forget it. Please tell me none of you are graduating in May because I am already looking forward to next year’s production…

Thank you to Tony Allen, Peggy Weaver, Frank Bell, Kim Scott, and Jarred Clayton (and EVERYONE else who did anything at all for MM – I don’t know all of you) for creating such a great experience for the cast and audience of Makin’ Music this year. It really was everything (and more) that I always envisioned it could be. I’ve loved Makin’ Music for as long as I can remember, and I’m completely thrilled that it’s growing into the very best version of itself. Keep up the fabulous work!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Strawberry Nutella "Tiramisu"

Don't freak out...this tiramisu doesn't include any coffee! I did use the castoff ladyfingers from the tiramisu, though, and it is a layered dessert - so that's gonna be its official name, albeit in quotation marks. By the way, don't you love when people "misuse" quotation marks? It always strikes me as "so bizarre."

If the real tiramisu were Mount Everest, this dessert is just a little hill in my backyard. Maybe a mole hill. (Those creatures loooove our backyard. Yikes!)

Seriously, this was incredibly easy and fast - and mighty delicious, I must say. Of course, maybe I should backpedal a minute. I mean, I did use homemade ladyfingers...but since they were already made and I just pulled them out of a tupperware container, the process felt pretty speedy. Especially since I had spent several HOURS on the real tiramisu a couple of days before. Seriously, I love my husband.

Should you not have had the exact same experience as me, which resulted in leftover ladyfingers, I could imagine that substituting sliced pound cake or Angel food cake would also bring delight to your tastebuds. =)

Do you know what Nutella is? If not, it's that wonderful European hazelnut chocolate spread that the new commercials are trying to brainwash moms to think is actually healthy for their children. Don't be deceived! It may be made with skim milk, but I'm pretty sure there's nothing healthy about it. Unless you include it in a dessert that also includes strawberries, which I did, so there you go.

Here's the lowdown:

Pulled out a pretty blue ceramic dish. (Of course, yours has to be neither pretty nor blue...they are not requirements for a tasty dessert.) Layered one layer of ladyfingers in the bottom. Scattered some sliced and sweetened strawberries on top. Smeared about 1/3 to 1/2 a cup of whipped cream sweetened with a little powered sugar onto that layer. Then, Husband suggested I spread the Nutella (after he stopped and thought for a minute about whether or not Nutella and strawberries and whipped cream would go together - what? I know. It totally does. Why the hesitation?) on the bottom on the ladyfingers that would be the next layer. Good idea! It worked well. Then repeated all of the layers, ending with three layers in all. Whipped cream graced the top layer. And sifted cocoa powder (just like the real tiramisu, folks!) to make it even prettier.

Well, as I said before, it was delightful. We enjoyed it after it chilled for an hour or two, fully knowing it would be even better the next day. And, oh, it was! I don't really know how, but I had honestly forgotten there was Nutella in it when we were about to eat it the next day. And when I took a bite and the whole thing was happily melded together and the sweet hazelnut and chocolate bliss that is Nutella had hardened a bit...well, I was pleasantly shocked. I know, it sounds ridiculous.

Now, I'm going to try to give you more detailed directions for the recipe...in case someone can't really follow my vague explanation. Yes, lots of times I follow an actual recipe...but lots of other times I adapt a recipe or totally make something up, like in the case of this dessert...eyeballing the ingredient amounts, which makes it kinda hard for me to duplicate later...let alone direct someone else in how to do it. But for the purposes of this blog, I'm just gonna have to get better about that! Here's goes...

Strawberry Nutella "Tiramisu"  
Makes about 6 servings

Homemade ladyfingers (or a sliced Sara Lee pound cake or Angel food cake)
About 1 to 1 1/2 cup whipping cream
1-2 Tbsp. powered sugar
Not quite a quart of strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1-2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
Several Tbsp. Nutella (maybe 6-7?) 

Sprinkle your stemmed and sliced strawberries with 1-2 Tbsp. granulated sugar and let them juice for a few minutes. Whip the whipping cream (I can't think of a better way to say that, sorry) with 1-2 Tbsp. powered sugar (to taste) until hard peaks form. Layer ladyfingers (or sliced pound cake or Angel food cake) in the bottom of your chosen medium-sized container. (Something smaller than a 9x13) Layer strawberries and their juice over the ladyfingers, then the whipped cream. Spread Nutella on the bottoms of the next layer of the ladyfingers and repeat the layering process one or two more times, ending with whipped cream on the top. Sift a small amount of unsweetened cocoa powder onto the top layer. Cover and chill the dessert for several hours or overnight. Enjoy!