Sunday, July 26, 2009

Grillin' it up!

Either I've had a boring week or I'm not a very good blogger! Probably some of both mixed with a bit of laziness because I haven't felt like uploading pictures from our very enjoyable trip to Chincoteague.

Also I've been a bit busy talking about SYTYCD over at Crafty's blog! Not to mention buying tickets for the Tour! That's right, Renee and I are going to see the Top 10 (eh..12 I mean!) when they come to New Jersey in September- less than 2 months away! I took it upon myself to buy the tickets and believe me you did not want to be in the room with me during this process (unfortunately the kids were, making it that much more frustrating). I was online and got what I thought were pretty good floor seats, but the way they were labeled made me hesitate and I didn't want to spend other people's money on seats that were horrible. So I was on the phone with Renee having her try to look up info while I filled out all the pertinent info before my time expired. I went through all the steps and couldn't find out one way or another so I just told Renee I was going to ahead with it and confirmed the tickets, only to find that I wasn't at the final screen and the tickets expired. Urgggggh. Eventually I got seats, but I can't help wonder what could have been. Sigh.....and I'm over it.

It looks to be a warm week so I want to give you all a yummy easy meal idea that won't have you heating up the kitchen.

Grilled Pizza! I've heard and seen posts for grilled pizza many times in the past but have also skimmed right over them and just thought it seemed like extra work and was it really worth it. After doing it I think that it IS worth it and not really that much work! Rather than go through it step by step I want to link you to a great tutorial over at Our Best Bites. They do a great job of taking you through each step of the way and giving tons of pointers.

A few things I want to emphasize.
-Definitely either make your own dough or buy pizza dough either at your grocery store bakery or an Italian speciality bakery (if you're lucky enough to have one nearby like me!). I don't think a Boboli precooked crust would cut it in this case!
-You must be prepared/organized. The dough cooks very quickly and the grill is very hot, so once you flip the dough you need to add those toppings quickly so the other side of the dough doesn't burn/overcook.
-We made a number of small to medium sized pizzas and tried different toppings. Our favorite was bbq sauce (not too much), chicken, red onion and mozzerella. It went so well with the smokey flavor added by the grill. Definitely try different toppings and types of pizza (We did pesto chicken with feta and pine nuts, but the feta didn't melt well and it was too dry) and figure out what you like best (and then let me know!).

I hope you get a chance to make some grilled pizza this week. It really is pretty darn easy and inexpensive if you use what you most likely already have in your fridge (if it's anything like my fridge)!

I am planning on being back a bit more this week with pictures and stories of our beach trip.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Many random things to share so I'll do it in list format...

1. Today we met friends at a cool Spray Park nearby. We brought one of Ella's preschool friends along as well and kids alternated between running around in the water and playing on the playground a few feet away. After heading home all three girls immediately ran into the backyard and played for 40 minutes in our family pool. Then they came in, dried, ate every piece of fruit in our house, colored, sniffed Ella's scented markers and ended up with multicolored mustaches and then eventually sat down to watch Zaboomafoo.

But the day wasn't over. We were still planning on swimming somewhere else around four, when it was still hot (it just seemed really hot today) but there wasn't as much risk of sun burn. I wanted to double check with Ella before we started the process of getting suits on again. She responded with "no, I'm worn out, I want to stay home."

Mark that date in history. Ella deMontaigne was worn out. There are many times I thought it would happen, but that girl is the energizer bunny and keeps going and going.....

2. But it could also be because of this...both Ella and Catherine have got some sort of mid summer cold going on. We ended up going to the doctors when they woke up Monday morning with deep coughs and Ella was complaining of a sore throat. So they are both on day 3 of medicine...most likely the reason Ella's a bit worn out. It still counts doesn't it?

3. The girls are both attending a summer arts intensive (camp) two mornings a week through the month of July. I love it because it's all of their favorite activities, dance, music, art, cooking, story time and it's not too much time- twice a week for a few hours is perfect for us. It's through ACPPA Community Arts Center, a nonprofit organization that make arts available to children in the community. I ask them every morning when I pick them up what their favorite activity does and they answer, but I really struggle to get any details out of them.

Tuesday afternoon I was making lunch and asked Ella what songs she was learning at music time. She shrugged and I thought that was it but then she looked at me with a sort of puzzled expressions and said "The Beatles?" Then she started to sing "We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine." So I sang along with her. The look on her face was priceless, "Mom, do YOU know the Beatles?" I explained to her that yes I did and that I thought it was so great that they were learning The Beatle's music at art camp.

Catherine decided to get involved and proceeded to sing Yellow Submarine for at least the next ten minutes while dancing around the dining room table. Good times, I tell ya, good times!

4. A little bit of what's coming...I grilled pizza for the first time last weekend and loved it! I'll be back to give you the rundown on it as well as the different combinations we tried and what we liked and didn't like!

5. But I won't be back until after the weekend. We are leaving Friday morning to head out on our once a summer trip to Chincoteague VA. This time my parents will be making their first trip to the island to join us and Matt's parents. I haven't been the beach yet this summer and I am so looking forward to a few days relaxing in the sun (and having a 2:1 ratio of grandparent to grandkid!).

6. Oh yes, I can't forget two final bits of info. Tomorrow night I am joining a bunch of friends to go see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. It's been so long ago that I read the book that I really forget so much of it (except some of the major, unforgettable stuff - don't worry, no spoilers from me) and I'm really looking forward to seeing the movie with some fellow fans.

7. Last, but if you've been around here for any amount of time, it's certainly not least....Renee is blogging tonight's episode of SYTYCD. I watched the first hour, and then came down here to write this post and let my DVR gain some time on me. Definitely looking forward to discussing tonight's show! I hope you join in!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Summer Salads

I love salads as a main dish during the summer. Not just lettuce and tomato salads, but jazzed up salads that fill you up without being too heavy and requiring too much work!

I want to share two with you that we've enjoyed recently.

Not Your Mama's Tuna Salad
From Rachael Ray Magazine
1 cup pesto, either store bought or homemade
Juice of 1 lemon
Two 6-ounce cans water-packed tuna, drained
4 scallions, cut into thin strips with kitchen scissors or chopped
1 jarred whole roasted red pepper, cut into small pieces with kitchen scissors or chopped
Handful of grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 pound medium shell pasta—cooked al dente, rinsed under cold water and drained well
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine pesto and lemon (the recipe calls for more than I use, I love pesto, but I think using a cup with that much pasta is too much - I would say use less pesto or more pasta), add tuna and flake. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss. So easy! Definitely not your typical tuna salad, you get all the benefits of tuna, without the fishy taste that some of you might not like (me not included - I'm a fan!). If you really aren't a fan I'm sure you could try this with canned chicken.

Poppy Seed Chicken Salad
from Sisters Cafe
Spinach leaves
Romaine leaves
Grilled chicken, sliced (grill with lots of lemon pepper seasoning)
Red onion, sliced thinly
Crispy bacon, crumbled
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Toasted almonds (or you can sugar the almonds. Put sliced almonds in a pan with lots of granulated sugar (about equal amounts). Cook on medium heat until sugar melts, coating the almonds as they brown.)

The Dressing:
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dry mustard
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
3 Tb Maui or Vidalia onion, chopped
2 cups canola oil
3 Tb poppy seeds
Mix the first 5 ingredients in a blender, then slowly add the oil, blending until thick. Stir in poppy seeds. (or just put them in one of those salad dressing thingies and shake it on up)

I keep the dressing separate from the salad and allow people to add on their own. The dressing is super yummy, but I like being able to control the amount I add and then the salad doesn't get all soggy and you can save the leftovers (but I doubt there will be any).

This makes a ton of dressing. Both times I've made this I've halved the dressing and it's been fine. Basically you can make this salad as big or as small as you want, depending on how many you are feeding. I made this for the first time a few weeks ago and then made it again less than a week later when I was at my parents. Everyone loved it and requested that I make it again when we do our family beach trip next month. (Which is a bit ironic, because the Tuna Salad recipe above is another meal I made at the beach and it was a hit.)

Hopefully you enjoy these yummy salads!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Down to 10

Results night! This is the night when we find out which top ten dancers we'll get to see on the tour this fall. Speaking of tour, the dates and cities have been released and would you believe it that there are NO Pennsylvania dates?! Craziness! But there are two New Jersey dates (huh?) that aren't too far for me and Renee. Maybe we can summon some of our fellow sisters to join us?

Any thoughts on the judging this year? I did some scanning of the old internet earlier because I love to read what others are saying and it's seems like a general consensus that people are annoyed by the judging. I know I get annoyed when Nigel critiques a dancer's hairstyle rather than her dance!

Love the opening number choreographed by NappyTab, music Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes.

We find out that it's Nigel's birthday and that we won't get to see a Michael Jackson tribute show. Happy for Nigel, too bad no MJ.

First up for the cuts.
Brandon and Janette and Caitlin and Jason. I think we all have a pretty good idea who is safe and who isn't. At least I hope. I hope the producers aren't pulling a fast one on us. And the couple in the bottom three surprise, Caitlin and Jason.

Randi and Evan and Philip and Jeanine. My fear is that if R&E are in the bottom Evan will get cut because he's short and will be hard to partner with any other girl. Won't be fair since he really only had one off night. The judges just seem to hold back from fully praising him. Philip really is the weakest, but I imagine the judges want their hip hopper in the tour.
And the bottom couple is....Philip and Jeanine. Wow! Can't believe it!

Ok now it's down to Melissa and Ade and Kayla and Kupono. Tough call. Both performed well last night and I think Melissa and Ade have a stronger fan base but didn't have as memorable of dances last night.

What do you guys think about Nigel's statement about the solos? Basically saying that they don't give very much weight to them? But often when they are talking to the bottom three guys and girls Nigel seems to reference their solos pretty frequently. What gives? I would like some consistency please? I'm glad that after this week it's all up to America.

And the final couple in the bottom three is....Melissa and Ade. I think they're safe. No way should either of them be let go compared to the other two couples.


Caitlin did a cute solo to Stand by Me. Not sure if it's enough to save her...

Jason did his typical routine. Good dancer, but his performances do nothing for me.

Jeanine - I thought her solo was pretty cool but I was distracted by her hideous outfit.

Philip - amazing in his style of course. no denying it. but he hasn't adapted to other styles well.

Melissa - wow, muscles. Lots of beautiful leaps and twirls. I love when she's en pointe, it gives the impression that she's flying/floating...

Ade - best solo of the night. totally cool and funky. Amazing back glad we got to see a solo from him. I am convinced he's one of the top guys and it will be a travesty if he's cut.

Special performer - sorry I went right past her so I have absolutely no input to give.

Based on the snippets, are you excited for Season 6 yet?

Nigel gets right down to it and trying to be as positive as possible, lets Caitlin know it's the end of the road for her.

The guys. Jason looks so resigned. So does Philip. But we find out that it's the end of the road for Philip. I'm pretty surprised, I think ultimately it was the right decision but I just didn't think the judges would cut Philip. I think P. is a great guy but unfortunately wasn't able to find success in the other styles. Nigel then says that Philip and Caitlin will both be on tour. Great, but what's the significance of the top 10 if the top 12 tour? Not that I mind at all, I think Philip's presence would be missed!

Surprised, happy, or outraged?

I really did think Jason would go since without Philip they are left with five contemporary male dancers. But the judges pretty much set themselves up for it with how they cast the top 20. I'm definitely missing Joshua and Twitch! Also, I think the girls are stronger than the guys this year. I think all five girls have the tendency to outshine their partners. Now that we vote as individuals it will be interesting to see who has a fan base and who doesn't.

Ok, sisters, let me hear what you thought!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Dancing times two!

It's been a long Wednesday and we've been on the go since this morning. It's so nice to come home from a full day and know that I have SYTYCD to look forward too! Not only do I love it, but it gives me the excuse I need to plop myself on the couch for awhile. Especially when it's my turn for the traveling blog - those dishes can wait until morning, my dance sisters are counting on me!

As usual, I'll probably just blog my thoughts as we go... (I'm going to pause before the judges speak to give my honest feedback - love my DVR!). Now that I'm done I can warn you that a long line of incoherent observations are coming your way and be prepared for me to fizzle out at the end. The judges liked everyone so got sick of writing it over and over again. It was a long night of dances, but there were many bright moments - I wonder if we'll agree on what they were!

After introductions Cat comes out looking very chic in a knee length black number with a gorgeous hair do - it's pinned up into a bob with some finger curls and a cool silver pin.

Tyce is our guest judge. I hope he's left his diva like attitude from the auditions far behind and can channel some constructive criticism towards the dancers.

Ade and Melissa - Disco with Dorianna Sanchez. Again and so soon? I'd rather have more hip hop and less disco. I like this couple and hope they can bring it!

Definitely not as fast as Brandon and Janine's, but I thought they did well. A few times the transition from the lifts seemed slow, but I thought they had good "swagger". That upside down split lift - wow!!! Overall I enjoyed it and was entertained but the judges so rarely like disco - I bet they won't rave as much as they did from Brandon and Janine's. Oh yeah - Melissa fell at the end but I think it doesn't count!

The judges love it! 3 for 3. I went back to see if I could remember more of their feedback and I can't - so they must have been unanimous in their loving of it!

Kupono and Kayla - contemporary with Mia Michaels! I always get excited for a Mia routine, but these guys have had a lot of contemporary/jazz. Interesting....During rehearsal Kupono shares how the theme of addiction hits close to home with him and tears up talking about it. I know his voice is a bit annoying...but come on...that was moving.

Holy cow. Speechless. I thought it was intense and amazing. I thought they both did amazing. I had chills. So dark and intense. Kayla trying to escape Kupono was just so....intense. Sorry for my lack of creativity there! Kayla truly had the look of an addict- no makeup, wild hair, and I was rooting for her to break free.

The judges all liked it. Mary and Tyce both hit on the reason I'm a fan of Kupono - the character and acting he brings to each dance makes it seem like more than a dance. I will never claim his jumps or spins are up to par with any of the others, but he brings something different to the dance floor that I enjoy. But hey, we all have our opinions and I'm fine being in the minority on this one.

Caitlin and Jason - Foxtrot by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin.
Oooh I like the skirt Caitlin is wearing during rehearsal.

So I don't think Jason does macho too well. He's got the market cornered on cute, but not macho! Some crazy lifts and it's definitely fun, nothing outstanding (but it's foxtrot, kind of have to wait for the judges!). I LOL'd when Caitlin's dress was covering Jason's face during one lift - I thought for sure we'd have some sort of wardrobe malfunction! Looks like they struggled with one lift at the end.

Nigel likes it - complimented both of them on their technique and footwork. Mary thought it was tremendous - that's why I have to wait for the judges because I wasn't blown away by it. Tyce said they look like stars but could have glided more. Is Tyce hitting on Jason? He def gave him a look there at the end.

OH my, Russian folk dance and hip hop coming up -

Philip and Jeanine - Russian folk dancing with Youri Nelzine and Lilia Babenko (don't ask me how many times I had to rewind to get those names)

This seems like punishment for them.

Ok, so didn't think it was that great. I love this couple and want them to do well but it just didn't seem to work. Perhaps the rosy blush circles on Philip's cheeks distracted me too much?

Nigel is doing the slow clap. Doesn't look good....he thought it was too folky and recommended vodka. He's more criticizing the style/choreography. Mary was 50/50 with it. Tyce thought they did well with the style and was very positive. They both look relieved to have positive feedback at the end!

Randi and Evan - hip hop with our favorite duo Nappy Tab! Yay - can't wait to see these guys do hip hop! Loved Randi's reaction to what her character will be! I am just imagining Matt and I breaking out into hip hop after I told him I was pregnant! I enjoyed it because it seemed so sweet and loving and joyful.

Nigel is caught up with the reoccurring theme of pregnancy this season and I guess he liked it. He really likes the two of them overall - he made that clear. Mary thought it would be a trainwreck but it wasn't. She was watching for Evan to slip up and he didn't. Tyce enjoyed the story telling of NapTab, thinks Evan needs to bring "more" and loves Randi.

Janette and Brandon - Argentine Tango - Leonadro and Miriam. This is supposed to be about sexiness. Nothing about Brandon screams sexy in rehearsal but I have a feeling he'll pull it off tonight. As long as he doesn't laugh. Or talk.

Love Janine's sparkly number. I love the spin she did while lowered a few inches form the ground. Her footwork looks sharp. Brandon pulls off the sexy b/c he's not talking. I loved the final sequence- amazing!

The judges give them a standing O! Wow. I didn't see that coming although I knew it was good. Nigel says it was close to perfection. Mary screams about how good they are and gives them their first class Hot Tamale tickets. My ears are now bleeding. Tyce joins in with a little chest shimmy. Tyce is talking about making OJ and getting all the juice out - basically he loved it too!

Melissa and Ade are up again (I totally missed that they were each dancing twice) and we find out this is their last time dancing with their partners. Sad.

How sweet that Melissa tears up!

Waltz by Ron Montez
I think Melissa's gracefulness and Ade's strength will make this a good performance - plus the chemistry they have helps.

I think they performed beautifully. Melissa looked like she was floating and Ade supported her amazingly.

Nigel, beautiful and played to their strengths. Ade needed more rise and fall. Mary agreed with beautiful but criticized Ade's footwork. Melissa was mesmerizing and flawless. Tyce says the dance needs to rise to the music and they needed to elongate and stretch their lines. Ade was making it look too easy?

Kayla and Kupono.

Broadway by Joey Dowling. Love at first sight. All about acting - definitely plays to their strengths. Joey seems like a tough choreographer.

Dancing to West Side Story. Seemed like a very classical broadway number, didn't seem to excited the crowd. Good but it didn't have that extra oomph...

Nigel agreed....he got up and showed them how it should be, didn't think they brought out the character. Mary said they did a good job, but they could have done more and it was well synchronized. Tyce said that Kupono could have dug in more

Jason and Caitlin. Mandy Moore (yay) with lyrical jazz. It will be nice to see them in their own style finally. What 80's song will it be too this time? Ooops, called that one wrong. Lot of spins and lifts and stuff. I think I'm running out of steam. I guess these guys don't excite me - so sorry to all you fans! Please no hate mail!

Nigel said it was good technically but lacking chemistry. Mary sees the chemistry but it wasn't magical. But then she said great things about them, just not a memorable dance. Tyce said they were in sync and their lines were beautiful but they played it safe. Overall positive feedback but no gushing.

Jeanine and Philip. The jive with Tony and Meredith. Oh no - Randi and Evan did this and they weren't peppy enough. I think Jeanine can pull it off, not sure about Philip. They looked good, Jeanine better. Philip doesn't look too comfortable in ballroom styles, but he was smiling and and bouncing about.

Nigel loved it all around. Mary loved it too and was surprised by Philip and put Jeanine on the Hot Tamale train. Tyce makes it 3 for 3 - he loved it as well.

Randi and Evan. These guys seem to have so much fun together.

They are doing a Samba with....Pasha!!!!! I love me my Pasha! And Anya of course.

The rehearsal footage was so darn cute with Randi feeling embarrassed about sexing it up!

Definitely not a natural fit for Evan, but they have chemistry so that helped pull them through it. Randi did great and they just fit really well together.

Nigel wasn't having it. Evan isn't a hot Samba king, but Randi is. Mary said it was a slow sizzle but they needed to do more and find more fire! Tyce wanted them to be a detective and figure out how to make it hot. Mary jumps in to give Randi the hot tamale shriek.

Janette and Brandon. I knew there was a Wade routine coming up and I've been looking forward to it! Saving the best for last?

Very funky and cool (not surprised)! I loved how in sync they were during the opening sequence on the stairs. I just heard from Renee that she watched it a few times so she can expand on some more of the details of it.

Nigel is calling for them to get the biggest vote of the night! Mary - took the words right out of my mouth (or blog) "the best for last!" Tyce loved it, they all loved it because it was amazing (I agree) and Brandon and Jeanette can do anything.

Sorry I ran out of steam and interesting input there at the end. I thought that overall it was a great night - just a ton of dances to recap! My favorite two performances were Kayla and Kupono's Mia routine (I am a fan of those darker pieces, what does that say about me?) and Brandon and Jeanette's Wade routine. The choreographer has a big impact, I think getting a Mia routine really sets the dancers up because so they both have so many fans.

No clear underdog because they all did well and no one got completely slammed. Janette and Brandon are the definite front runners. I personally think Philip is one of the weakest guys (but I really do like him) and maybe Caitlin for the girls? They are all strong and bring different things to the table. I think if Evan is in the bottom three he might be in trouble.

I know there are many of you out there who are watching and I hope you'll chime in with your likes and dislikes!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Clean Teeth

A few weeks ago Matt and I both had dentist appointments with our new dentist. I don't think I can sum up the nerve to reveal exactly how long it had been since Matt and I had both been to a dentist. Let me put it this way, we didn't love our previous dentist and when we moved we just figured we'd get a new one. Well...we didn't. I won't tell you how long ago it was that we moved and whether or not it was before we had Ella. I am too ashamed to fully admit to how much I've neglected my dental care.

We finally found a dentist nearby and made appointments. Since we were new patients they were well over a month away and Matt even laughed when I told him the date because it was just so far away. Of course things you aren't looking forward to tend to creep up on you rather quickly and before we knew it the appointments were just a few days away.

Matt and I were each certain that our teeth were a mess and we basically began dreading finding out what the damage was.

The day beforehand Matt announced to the girls "Mommy has a dentist appointment tomorrow. Mommy, tell them how you feel about that!"

I looked at Matt liked he was crazy, mustered by some enthusiasm and lied, "I'm really excited about it!"

To which Catherine replied, "no you're not, you're scared!"

It cracked me up that as much as I tried to put up a brave front she saw right through it (or just projected her own feelings on me!).

I am happy to say that both Matt and I were cavity free! When we left we told the dentist "see you in six years!" Oops, I may have revealed a bit too much there!

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