Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Settling in

Well, I had a nice, quiet birthday. Snort! I couldn't help it, since I couldn't talk!

Emily took the last of my cake outside for this lovely photo -- isn't it pretty? I kinda wish there were more cake... On the other hand, this is a good illustration of how much we all love Apricot Nectar Cake.

The flowers were from Wesley. I am an absolute sucker for those garishly dyed daisies. I'm embarrassed to confess how much they delight me. They're so fake. They're so trashy. They're so CUTE! Nature never intended daisies to be that color, but I surely do love the addition of dye. We used to put Queen Anne's Lace in jars of water with food coloring -- remember? Ah, nothing like messing with nature.

Wesley said the daisies stood out in a display of autumn mums like neon lights on a dirt road. They do look like lollipops, don't they? Wesley knows I'm not fond of autumn colors. I prefer ... less earthy tones.

Should I post Aunt Sybil's recipe for Apricot Nectar Cake? The heck with it, I'm gonna share. I think the world would be a better place if we all had Apricot Nectar Cake once a year.

(Besides, having lost the recipe and retrieving it from Kathi -- thanks, K! -- I've decided to compile all my favorite recipes in one book. Maybe two books. So when I kick the bucket, the kids will still be able to find my recipes.)

Apricot Nectar Cake

Mix together:
1 box yellow cake mix
3/4 c. apricot nectar
3/4 c. vegetable oil
4 egg yolks
3 tsp. Lemon extract

Beat 4 egg whites very stiff and fold them into mixture.
Pour into a greased, floured tube pan.
Place in cold oven, set at 300 degrees, and
bake for 1 hour.

Glaze --
Zest of 3 lemons
Juice of 4 large lemons
2 cups powdered sugar
Mix together while cake is baking.

When cake is done, cool for 5 minutes. Poke holes with long utensil (like an ice pick or bamboo skewers), and dribble glaze all
over cake, allowing it to soak in. Let the cake cool completely before
turning it out of pan. (The longer the glaze soaks in, the better the
cake is.)

Note: This cake is incredibly sticky and if it can stick to the pan, it will. That's OK. Broken cake tastes just as good.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

And then... ya turn 40.

So. I've been sick. It hasn't been fun. I went to the doctor's office, and a nurse practitioner in training -- with her supervisor in tow -- declared me to be not at all sick. I didn't even fight her over it. I mean, it was either believe the nurse practitioner in training, or go back to the Nazi doctor in a different time zone, and I decided the student nurse was at least a more pleasant human being. Even if she didn't give me my favorite cough syrup.

I came home, I slept a LOT, I went back to using Afrin (even though I was hooked on it when I was 19 years old, but that's another story), I pretended I wasn't sick.

There was other stuff to worry about, after all. Bills and packing for WDW and stuff like that. I can't be sick forever; this'll pass and then Amy and I can podcast about it.

Well... no. Not really. Why?

Because I lost my voice.

And I can hear you asking, "Seriously?" And I'm telling you -- seriously. No voice. I open my mouth to say something, and nothing comes out. Sometimes it honestly feels as if I have no vocal cords.

And... that's *weird*.

I know this is hard to believe, but I used to be a lyric mezzo. As in, classically trained, medium high soprano voice. Can belt out the E two octaves above middle C. Gets kinda wobbly after that, but does a damn fine job on the E below middle C, and can still carry a few operas if you're into that, which I never really was. Great range for Broadway musicals. Except "Kiss Me Kate." And honestly, I preferred "Cabaret."

The only upside to this whole episode is that it has opened a whole new venue of potential Halloween costumes. I can hang a slate around my neck and pretend to be a member of the Ellen James Society! (Extra points for you if you actually *get* that reference.) I can paint some lines around my mouth, hang out with Wesley, and be a ventriloquist's doll! NO! I know!!!!! I can be a Gallaudet student protestor!!!! YEAH!!!

Anyway. I have no voice. And this has never, ever happened to me, not even when I had the horrific sinus infection in '96 that turned into a major infection that wiped out my upper register. That's cool; now I can do a Bea Arthur impression. Heck, I can do Howard Keel if I want to. I sorta miss squeaking, but I've found other ways to cope.

All day long, I kept forgetting that I have no voice. I can't talk on the phone. I can hardly whisper to my family. My birds are extremely confused because I didn't sing with them at bedtime.

Part of me really thinks my vocal cords have staged a protest. "We're NOT SPEAKING until SOMEONE turns BACK THE CLOCK!!!! Seriously!!!!! There's no WAY we could POSSIBLY be FORTY!!!!!"

You see, Thursday is my birthday. Yep. I turn 40. Like... now. And I have to say, I still think the way I thought when I was 17. My only problem is that my body is not in tune with my brain.

Not that anyone around me would know. Why? BECAUSE I CAN'T TELL THEM SO, THAT'S WHY!!!!


I think I'll make myself a cake. Big, honkin' thanks to Kathi, who dug up my aunt Sybil's sublime Apricot Nectar Cake recipe for me. I lost it. Maybe it's in hiding with my voice..........

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Perils of Podcasting & more

This weekend, as Amy and I prepared for another podcast, we decided to change the method by which we record. Although we love the Skype ringtone, we've had significant problems recording via that service. We get all sorts of skipped moments, and weird, ringing, springy sound effects by accident.

When Yamy attended the Podcast Media Expo a few weeks ago, she was alerted to the idea that we could each record our own end and then edit the two tracks together. So I downloaded a free audio recording piece of software, and we got ourselves all synched up and tried to record a podcast.

There were two problems with this method.

First of all, without the Skype skips and the occasional lapses in sound, we talked and talked and talked without any way of knowing that we were just gushing endlessly. We got to the end of our recording session, and instead of the partially rational 38-minute long piece of podcast, we discovered we had blabbed for almost an hour. Sheesh!

Then, after I compressed my massive sound file and sent it to Amy, she started trying to synch up the two channels and discovered that three minutes into my file, the sound turned into garbage. My voice sounded like Mr. Roboto. Seriously!

All that work, and for nothing! We'll be re-recording our podcast on Sunday, I guess. Hmph! I hope we keep it shorter than an hour this time.

In other news, I have lost my mind and I'm selling things on eBay that no sane person would sell. People are being quite kind about my listings, but I just know I'm going to regret this.

Finally, the last few days have been faaaaabulous in terms of movies on TV. In fact, I'm quite curious as to why I don't have all these titles on DVD so I can watch them any time I want! Here's a rundown of movies I've really enjoyed recently....

Dazed & Confused -- Originally released in 1993 and marketed as a "party movie," this film has long held my husband's admiration as a film that accurately portrays the atmosphere of high school, circa 1976. I was in elementary school, so it's more of a study in cultural differences for me. In any case, it's wonderful, and the soundtrack is phenomenal. I was reminded of it because it was on a local WB affiliate as a filler movie after a football game. Dang! I should get it on DVD!

Bring It On -- A cheerleader movie? Yes, a cheerleader movie! I love it. It's a remote tosser for me; if I see it, I'm stuck until the end. I love the puns. I love the cheerleading. I love just about everything about this infectious little flick, and I was never, ever a cheerleader.

Sixteen Candles -- I'm almost 40. This movie came out when I was in high school. Although everyone else picks "The Breakfast Club" over "Sixteen Candles" as the best John Hughes high school movie, I disagree. I can't tell you how many lines I still quote from this movie, from, "I can't believe my grandma just felt me up" to "I can remember LOTS of things" and up to "Yah - MALLIED!" and "greasy bo-hunk." Joan Cusack was the best character ever on film without an actual line. I mean -- this movie rocked. Why don't I have it on DVD?

Memoirs of a Geisha -- A new favorite. Bawled my eyes out, and then watched the special features with director commentary when I rented the DVD from Netflix. I'm going to have to read the book someday, huh? And let's face it -- Ken Watanabe is *hot*!!!

The Bourne Identity -- I'm a total sucker for an action-adventure movie, and this one's fabulous. I love Franka Potente. I love Matt Damon. The script is darned near perfect, and the action is non-stop. Much, much better than the sequel! It was on network TV Saturday night. I prefer the uncut version. I'm just sayin'. Is all.

The Shawshank Redemption -- When Andy cranks up the Mozart over the prisonyard, I cry. Every time. Never fails. I loved the novella. The movie is almost as good.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hot Cranky People & I wanna report!

First of all, Sara, if you're out there, I have been meaning for two weeks to do a segment on Grits to Glitz about your fictional band name segment on How Much Do We Love and ... Hot Cranky People.

For the other readers, Sara is half of the magnificent duo who present the fabulous HMDWL podcast. When she revealed that her fictional band name, Hot Cranky People, was inspired by an August trip to Disney World, I shouted with laughter and understanding. I have been to WDW in August. It is *hot*. And there are lots of people who don't respond well to that kind of heat. Me included. I much prefer May in Orlando (for the Garden & Flower Festival) or November (for the sublime Food & Wine Festival). Not only is the weather much more pleasant, but there's some kind of festival to distract you if you do get overly warmish.

As for Lori Davis, sneaking in with a Club Scrap Retreat comment -- I am so jealous! I would love to have gone to Retreat this year. I miss Wisconsin, I miss CSHQ, I miss all of the lovely CS members and all the stuff we learn at Retreat!!! Please send me a trip report about your weekend in Neenah! I'll send you my Disney report. I've just about finished it in a Word document, and it's only 59 pages long. Single spaced. Not including photos. ROFL! I told you it was too frank! The only people who've read it so far are my sister Amy and my longtime Disney-freaks friends ... whom I will be seeing in about two weeks for another bad girls' trip to WDW.

Ahhhh, another good Tuesday. Gotta go pay the Kohl's bill now. Wish I were in Wisconsin... or Florida!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My Disney World wrap-up

OK, Jane and Kathi are my favorite blog readers, so I shall capitulate to their wishes and post a few thoughts about this year's family trip to Walt Disney World.

Dates: 9/25 to 10/3 or 4, I forget which

Resorts: Pop Century the first and last nights, the Beach Club most of the time

The Mouse was fine and wonderful at times, less wonderful at other times. I've been writing a trip report, but I didn't post it here because I am pretty darned frank about ... stuff. It's pages and pages long. It's just too frank. Y'know?

In general, it was a very good trip. Not our best, most magical trip, but very good.

Bad stuff:
- My overall mental health for the last few days
- The heat and HUMIDITY!!!! (Never going in September again -- November is our favorite time for weather and the Food & Wine Festival)
- The crowds as of Friday, Sept. 29th
- The food at Tony's Town Square is barely school cafeteria quality, and it used to be one of our favorite restaurants, with a marvelous shrimp pasta thing that made me fall over in ecstasy and incoherent rapture
- My feet swelled and rubbed against the *tops* of my Crocs, causing really horrible blisters on the *tops* of my *feeties*
- Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (9/29) was HORRIBLE!!!!!!!! They oversold the event by about 20,000 people in my opinion, and it was a massive waste of time, energy, and money.

Good stuff:
- Air conditioned shops, attractions, and our room at the Beach Club
- I didn't start feeling unwell until the sixth day of our trip
- The crowds until Friday of that week were quite low and manageable
- Epcot (including twinkly sidewalks, dancing fountains, Soarin'!!!!!, Mission:SPACE, the Food & Wine Festival, the Rose & Crown lunch, chocolate glace at France, and five nights of watching the fireworks)
- One night, the kids went off together and left me and Wesley to tour Epcot on our own. Magnifique!
- Stormalong Bay (the mini-waterpark pool at the Beach Club which has sand in the bottom, defying all the logics of pool filter systems and delighting Wesley to no end)
- Waiters at Stormalong Bay would actually take my order and bring me cocktails to my deck chair -- HOW COOL IS THAT???
- Dinner at the Concourse Steakhouse at the Contemporary (Woodrow's 14th birthday dinner)
- The creme brulee au chocolat at the France kiosk at the Food & Wine Festival (deserves a line all its own!!!)
- My Tinker Bell flip-flop pins that I bought
- My funky Mickey WDW t-shirt that I bought on our last night (I should post a picture)
- Expedition Everest in the Animal Kingdom, and the knowledgeable CM's in the Maharaja Jungle Trek -- I want a pet fruit bat of my own!
- Mickey's Philharmagic in the Magic Kingdom (I always bawl at Tinker Bell)
- Woodrow finally rode ALL the thrill rides with me and Wesley, and he *loved* them!!!
- Illuminations Fireworks Cruise on our first night -- Captain Josh was wonderful, and the fireworks were magical -- the boat ride was just icing on the cake
- Fireworks, fireworks, and more fireworks

All in all, it was a lovely trip and I was not ready to come home. But I'm going back in November to meet three friends for our usual every-other-year Food & Wine Festival jaunt. I plan to get more souvenirs and drink more adult beverages on that trip... Tee hee!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Pixie dusted?

I'm back from Disney World!!!! It was a lovely long trip, and I'm writing a lovely long trip report, but I probably won't post it on the blog. Sawrrrrrry! I just don't feel like sharing. LOL!!! I know... Bay's Travel Blog, and I'm not tellin' about my latest trip.

Instead, I'll tell you to run, run like the wind, and listen to the latest episode of How Much Do We Love. It's brilliant!!!!! I missed three whole episodes while I was gone, and man, I started listening the moment I had a chance. I laughed so hard, I cried! Go try it. You won't regret it!