Monday, July 23, 2012

Homemade Tiramisu

Yum Yum! So I'm never made tiramisu, even though it's one of my favorite desserts. I think I always thought it was too difficult, though I never actually looked at a recipe.

But over Christmas I went through storage and rummaged out some of my old cookbooks and brought them back here. So I thought I'd try some of the recipes out- expand my techniques and reach outside my comfort zone.

This was an easy easy recipe. It is from Williams-Sonoma, www.williams-sonoma.com, and it's their "ITALIAN" cookbook. Italian is my favorite and some of these recipes are a little on the "expert" side, but always worth a try. Plus, you always learn from your mistakes, and become better, right??

Here are the ingredients:

LADYFINGERS
*1/2 cup sugar
*2 cups freshly brewed espresso (brew double strength Italian or French roast coffee)
*3 Tablespoons dark rum
*45 ladyfingers - they sell at most stores

FILLING
*6 large egg yolks
*1/3 cup sugar
*1/2 cup heavy double cream
*1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese
*1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

*unsweetened cocoa powder for garnish


The cookbook! :) 


My coffee I used and my lil' rum!



DIRECTIONS:

-In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and 1/2 cup water and cook, stirring often, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in the espresso, and let cool to room temp. After it's cooled, stir in the rum.

-Pour espresso mix into a wife, shallow bowl. Working in batches, briefly immerse the ladyfingers in the liquid. Then using a spatula, transfer the ladyfingers to a plate and set aside. NOTE- BRIEFLY is an understatement- this needs to be quick because you don't want them too soggy. 

-To make the filling, (in a heatproof bowl), whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mix is pale yellow (about 2 minutes). Then place the bowl over a saucepan that has about 2-3" of boiling water. Or use a double boiler. Use a handheld mixer on medium speed and beat until very thick- about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

-Then use the mixer on medium (in another bowl) to beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Then add the mascarpone and vanilla to the yolk mixtures. Beat until smooth and well blended. Then using a large spatula, fold in the whipped cream.

-Easy assembly! Use a metal spatula and transfer 15 of the soaked ladyfingers to a 9" square cake pan. Arrange them in a single layer. Then spread 1/3 of the filling over the ladyfingers. Place another 15 ladyfingers on top, then another 1/3 of the filling. DO one last layer of the 15 ladyfingers (so you have 3 layers in total), then top with the last 1/3 of the filling. 

-Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. 

-To serve sprinkle unsweetened cocoa powder on top- I used chocolate shavings! And served with fresh strawberries.

Can I tell you how much my lil' Jack LOVED this. He kept saying, "Awesome Mom" and tried to finish off Daddy's dessert after he had devoured him. Even Henry liked it. Granted it has a bit of rum in it, but certainly not enough to do any damage! :)

A great dessert for a dinner party- simple- and amazing! 

*I actually only did 2 layers because I didn't have enough, but still delicious!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Piriformis Syndrome- Another Running Injury!

You know I've never really had any running injury's ...I can't decide if it's because I turned 30 this year and my body is getting older, or if it's because I'm taking on longer distances. Probably a bit of both, but have recently (and annoying enough!) gotten Piriformis Sydndrome.

I took off about 3 weeks (after I got that hideous burn on my knee) from running, then gradually got back on the treadmill and back in the gym. But I noticed a weird throbbing in my butt afterwards. A tightening of the muscle right on the sciatic nerve- and not only did it hurt when I was standing or walking, but then when I was sitting down. I kept telling Jason, "My butt hurts". So it's kinda been like that the last 3 weeks- on and off. Then last week it got worse after I ran and I could even feel it during my run.

So I did some research on my injury and this is what it is- Piriformis Syndrome- and it's actually a very common running injury. I like to think that I stretch pretty well before and after my workouts (especially my runs) but wasn't doing as much as I should.

Here is an article from WEB MD describing the syndrome (very useful for runners):

http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/piriformis-syndrome-causes-symptoms-treatments

And here is another article with some GREAT stretches to do:

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/flexibilityandstretching/qt/Piriformis_str.htm

I looked up all of this information Thursday night (because I was in sooo much pain!). So Friday I took a nice long HOT bath - heat is good for injury's like this, then I did some stretches. The best one was where you lie on your back and cross one leg over your knee (as in a triangle) and then pull your leg up to you. Such a good stretch for your hamstring, hips and sciatic area.

Can I tell you that after doing those stretches for two days (about 3 times a day) I could tell a HUGE difference. Major! I went running yesterday and I can still feel it a little, but not nearly what I was.

Anyway- thought I would share as it's SO very important to get in good stretching before any workout or running! :) Run on! :) City to Surf run is in 3 weeks- 75,000 people signed up for it. 9 miles! SO excited! :)

Missing Tulsa

Jack got in the car on Friday and told me he was ready to go home to Tulsa and see everyone, so I said, "sure honey, we'll get to go there soon enough". And he said, "how about in 2 days". Um, not exactly. In fact, we're not going home until Christmas. This has been the first summer that we haven't gone home and I think we're all really starting to miss our family, friends and Tulsa!

Of course, it makes sense. I mean, Jack is right in the middle of his school year, so I don't really want to pull him out of his classes. And in order to make the trip worthwhile, we need to go home for at least 4 -5 weeks. Trust me, after traveling for close to 24 hours with two small boys- you need that much time to rest in between! :)


Needless to say, we are missing out on seeing our family and friends and having summer in Oklahoma. We love going to the lake, eating ice cream and snow cones, lazy days and nights at my parent's pool, nights out with our friends, fireworks, and seeing our family. 

It's hard to think about- but we haven't called Tulsa our home in over 4 years. We first moved to Shanghai on April 12, 2007. And we'll be celebrating our first year in  Sydney on the 30th of August. Cannot believe that it's been almost a year! 

Well, thought it would be fun to reminisce and post some pictures from our summer last year....

Dinner out with some of our best friends in Tulsa! :) 

Little dinner time at Cheesecake Factory- a favorite spot!

Jason's 30th Birthday Party- got to celebrate with all of our close friends and family! 


My Mom, Eva & T.C., and Jason's Dad. 

And we got to reveal our new move to Sydney!

And...in town to celebrate my lil' sister's 18th Birthday! 

My two best friends!



Henry's 1st time in the lake @ Sutton Lake House! 
Ohhh he had a fun 4th of July!

Jack getting some fun time with his 2nd cousins, Kenna & Kallie!

Swimmers, suckers, puppies, water and sun! Perfect 4th of July!

Watching Jack's performance at the end of Bible School at Redeemer

The group preparing....Jack was so good he even learned his verse for the week!

We took a visit to see my grandparents in Ft. Smith- so very glad that we did, because he passed away in September of this last year. 
My first cousins, Parker and Sunny came up to see us from Ft. Smith!
A trip with Zsa Zsa, Olivia and the boys to Branson, Missouri!
A performance to see Noah's Ark- then dropped Olivia off at Kanakuk!

Lots of dinners and fun times with the boys only cousins, Hollace and Langley!

Our Lady Toulouse, we miss her so! She stayed with my parents because the quarantine time here in Aussie land is 6 months!!! 

These boys- flying business class! They don't know how good they have it- but look at what pros they are!

Our first night in- they both fell asleep on the couch like this!

And poor Henry the next day- passed out at lunch with a cookie on his chest!


Then after arriving back in Shanghai we just had 1 month (well about 3 weeks) before all of our stuff was packed up and we were on a plane to Sydney! A whirlwind of a summer! :) Miss you Tulsa but we'll see you in 4 1/2 months!




Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Weekend Wrap Up- (late!)

I'm really trying to get better about my posting- and on time, but sometimes that just doesn't happen!

Jack's last weekend before Term 3 starts- cannot believe that he is already 1/2 way through his first year of kindergarten. It's going too fast!

Friday was our outing to "Disney on Ice" so that night we just stayed in with the boys. Henry has preschool on Mondays and Fridays and by Friday afternoon that child of mine is quite a mess. So tired and ready for an early night!

Saturday morning I did a photo shoot with a family- they have a 3 year old boy, then twins (boy and girl) who are 8 months old. It was hilarious to try and get them altogether. Was a bit of a task too because they asked me to come right before their older son's birthday party- and it was a bit crazy! Needless to say we got some cute shots.

Since Mommy was away, Jason got to take both of the boys to Jack's soccer game. I love that they get to go do their "Men" outings, as Jack calls it. Always makes me giggle just a little to think of Jason with them by himself! ha ha! :)

AND...another sleepover for Jack! His friend Lachlan (whom he went over to last week and had a sleepover) came over Saturday afternoon. Jack was giddy- beyond excited. I love seeing him like that. Makes all the little things in life we get bogged down with seem so silly when you see a child and the joy that life brings them.

So a big night- big pallet made on the floor, pizza, movies, legos, cars, swimming, you name it...we did it. Then Sunday morning we skipped church and headed out to Brays Bay Reserve- a beautiful park on one of the bays here. Just stunning- and we had gorgeous weather.

The boys played on the park equipment, then we dabbled in some baseball (classic American sport), some soccer and frisbee. Well Jason and I played- and I attempted. :) Needless to say the boys were exhausted and ready for a good rest afterwards, even thought Jack never wants to admit that he's tired.

A lazy Sunday afternoon, then I fixed dinner. Parmesan risotto, lemon/oregano/garlic chicken (sauteed and baked), and peas. I LOVE risotto and it is definitely tricksy- you have to be perfect with the amount of liquid you add. I've been watching Masterchef Australia here and I've learned quite a few things. Obsessed with that show- and obsessed with learning/studying the art/technique of cooking and baking. Such a science and an art!

That was our weekend...and a few pics...


All ready for bed! Spider man and Transformer pjs with Star Wars sheets- doesn't get any more "boy"! :) 
Close up of Jack's friend, Lachlan...

All the way up on top! Made me nervous!

Who knows what he's doing!?

How pretty, right?

Far off he is, but looks like he might be up to something...

Another view of the park! One of the playgrounds.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Disney on Ice!



Ah, another great Friday outing with my favorite big boy! :) I think I've mentioned this, but Jack is on holiday from school. And Henry goes to preschool on Monday and Friday's so that leaves me wonderful quality one on one time with Jack- something we don't always get so much.

I saw tickets for Disney on Ice about 2 or 3 months ago and mentioned it to one of my friends here- who has boys that are Jack's age. So we got tickets to go- not cheap- another $100 date. :) Good thing my lil' one is worth it! It was a great show too- I loved it and Jack was beyond thrilled to be there.

Of course it was a torturous 3 hours of "Mom, how long til we meet Adam and Ben and go to Disney on Ice?", "Mom, how many minutes til we get there?", "Mom, are we going now?"....ugh...terrible!

Here we are outside of AllPhones Arena in the Sydney Olympic Park area- right before the show!

And here is the big boy before the show started- Mickey Ears hat and a bag of Cotton Candy.
Although they call cotton candy "fairy floss" here and it was $15! 
Not a great shot- but our show! I took this with my phone- realized that my small camera was out of batteries when we got in the car! Bummer! :(



So Jack and I, of course, discussed our favorites of the show afterwards. Mine was, yes!, the disney princesses! Belle, Ariel, Mulan, Cinderella, Snow White- all that find their true prince! And the great thing about the show was that they were actually really talented skaters- beautiful and graceful. I loved their outfits and it brought me back to my childhood- loving all my Disney princesses! :) It was funny though because I realized that Jack doesn't really know any of them- he's never watched any of those- just all the "boy" disney movies. I guess we'll have to correct that! 

Jack's favorite was the "Halloween" segment, with Jack the Pumpkin Man from "The Nightmare before Christmas". Guess that shows you what he likes- all the villians. It was a cool part though- I think he more loves the fun Halloween music. He also liked the "Lilo & Stitch" part because they did the fun Hawaiian themed music and had a part with fire. It was "awesome" as Jack said. :) 

Were definitely going to have to go back to the area- they had the coolest "Monster" skate park- boys riding their scooters and skateboards up and down. Jack would have loved it. They had huge playing fields, a big splash park, and lots of playground areas. Looked like a good place to go back on a sunny weekend day! 

Our show was followed up by an Italian lunch- Jack's choice!- spaghetti bolognese and afterwards a big chocolate gelato! :) Love spending time with my big boy! :) 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Jack's Big Day!

So Jack is on school holiday- I think I mentioned this before, but they have 4 different terms and in between each term (usually 9-10 weeks) they have two weeks off. I thought it was weird at first but have decided that it's genius!, especially for kids this age. They get so burned out from school that it's just a nice breather and break for them to relax and stay home, then they are ready to go back to school.

Anyway- we had a pretty big week. Kept as busy as possible while Jason was away in Hong Kong. Lots of plays at the park, baseball plays down in the garage and playdates. But Friday was by far the best day for Jack. He had been anxiously and not so patiently waiting for Friday. Don't you remember when you were that age and so excited about something- I could barely even sleep because I was so excited. 

SO Friday morning we went and took Henry to school (not a happy man- I think he knew we were going to do fun things) and then off to run a few errands. It's now time to get Jack a watch so he can tell time and not ask me EVERY 5 MINUTES when we are going. "Mom, how many more minutes til we go?" Thank goodness us Mommy's have enough patience to endure this.

We met our friends at the cinema in Chatswood to go see Ice Age 4 in 3D! This is the first movie that we've actually been to see in Sydney. And here's why- two tickets for Jack and I (a matinee too!) was $35, then add in popcorn and a drink, $13, parking, $18 and then lunch afterwards, $25. A $100 afternoon for just two people! Oh- and did you know that they have assigned seating at the theatre- weird huh? 

Anyway- we met 4 of his "mates" from his class, and an older sister and brother. I actually really enjoy these Mom's too. The movie was great! I actually really like it- really cute and had some pretty funny parts. 

Our cool Ice Age 3 cup we just had to have! 

Jack in his 3D glasses! He looks so grown up!


Jack was cracking me up the first 10 minutes of the movie- this was his first 3D movie and he kept saying, "Mom! Mom! Look! It looks like it's coming right out at me!", then he'd laugh and say, "Oh my gosh, it's so big and so close!". In between my giggles I had to shush him because he was practically yelling. It was pretty humorous. 

Afterwards we walked to a pizza place called "Gourment Pizza Kitchen". It was pretty good. The kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves- they got little balls of pizza dough to play with and little coloring books. 

Nice afternoon of play with good friends! THEN- Jack went on with his friend, Lachlan, to his FIRST sleepover! Oh gosh- he's been excited all week about this. In fact, once we got to the pizza place, he asked me a few times, "Mom, when are you leaving?" Ah- stab in the heart for any Mom! :( But I know he was just thrilled! 



My little boy is growing up too fast for me! That's why I love these holidays because Henry goes to school twice a week and that leaves 4 precious days (out of the two weeks) to spend good quality time with my lil' (well big!) man! 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Rainbows! Rainbows! Rainbows!



I don't know if it's the beautiful clear blue skies here or what? but I have NEVER before seen so many gorgeous and stunning rainbows as I have here in Sydney. It seems after every rain (a big storm or just a little sprinkling) we are blessed with these beautiful creations of God.

Some of them are full so you see both ends and the full arch- others are just snippets of the rainbow. Either way, just a great reminder of God's love for us.

In a technical sense, this is what they are (I got this from www.wikipedia.com ):



rainbow is an optical and meteorological phenomenon that causes a spectrum of light to appear in the sky when the Sun shines on to droplets of moisture in the Earth's atmosphere. It takes the form of a multicoloured arc. Rainbows caused by sunlight always appear in the section of sky directly opposite the sun.

Here are just a few shots that I've taken outside of our apartment:
I loved this one- it was just a big blob of colors- and just right at the touch of the city

I love the way they just disappear into the houses
And yesterday morning we saw a double rainbow! Stunning too! Jack and I get so excited, we scream and rush everyone around so that we can all look at them. Jason says I get just as excited as Jack, but I can't help it. They are just breathtaking! 





Writing this also reminds me of Jack. We have a Children's Bible that we've been reading quite regularly and the other night we read (again- he loves this story) of Noah's Ark. And I remind Jack everytime we see a rainbow that it's God's promise to us. A rainbow was shown to Noah after the flood as a promise that God would never again destroy the Earth with water again. And in return, it is for us to promise to be faithful and true to our Heavenly Father. I love when Jack and I have these conversations.  I hope that it forever remains in his mind and heart each time he sees a rainbow. 


In searching, I found this song and I just love the lyrics. From 


God's Promise/Rainbows in the Night, by David Meece


www.lyricsmania.com


Deep within this darkened heart of mine
The Word of God still shines with hope
Deep within this frightened life I live
A voice so soft and still grows
And when the sun is hidden
And shadows cloud my starless skies
Amazingly I turn and see a light

God's promises are rainbows in the night
Shining hope inside when shadows cloud my eyes
His promises are rainbows in the night
Guiding through the darkest times
God's promises are rainbows in the night

Looking back on all the roads I've known
The echos of the songs I've sung
Looking back there's a thread of love and grace
Connecting each line and space I've known
And all the years I thought were lost
On empty searching without clues
Now trace a journey to the highest truth

God's promises are rainbows in the night
Shining hope inside when shadows cloud my eyes
His promises are rainbows in the night
Guiding through the darkest times
God's promises are rainbows in the night.





















Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Honoring from Afar...

You know I think I have been in a little bit of a funk....usually at this time we are either home or getting ready to go home. And by home, I mean, back to the States. Our home for 24+ year (well Jason and I anyway)- not so much for Henry and Jack.

The 4th of July came and went yesterday for us- just another day- although I was constantly thinking of our family and friends back home. How they were celebrating- the hot summer winds in good ole' Oklahoma. Cook outs, backyards, swimming and fireworks. Does make me a little sad. It's been 6 months since we've been home...and we still have another 5 1/2 to go before we go back for Christmas. Sometimes it seems like an eternity, but then I think about the last 6 months and how they've flown by.

Really I am feeling quite settled here ...and happy. Jack is thriving in school- loving his friends-loving his classmates and everything about everyday! Henry is loving his 2 days of school and then his special days at home with Mommy. And yes, I am feeling quite content here. I've definitely made some friends and finally starting to get out a bit more and meet more.

I have also just started my own photography business here and I'm LOVING that. Really thrilling to be able to go to other countries and just start fresh. To do whatever you want to do. And in a few weeks I'm starting a new book club- AND all Americans. Should be fun. I haven't actually met too many Americans here and it's always nice to meet people from your own country that know what it's like to be an expat or outsider (sometimes you definitely do feel like that here, even though you may look the same).

Anyway- the boys and I are going to make 4th of July cupcakes today for Henry's class tomorrow. He doesn't go on Wednesday or Thursday but we promised some festive cupcakes to celebrate with his "mates" on Friday. :)

I'm putting a few pictures below- these men are who I think of on the 4th. My two grandfather's and Jason's grandpa. Two of them (mine) are no longer here on Earth, but of course still in my heart and surrounding me everyday. I think of them often- and so much yesterday as the USA was celebrating Independence Day!

My grandfather, Tony Jack Lyons, who Jack was named after. Papa Jack actually passed on when Jack was about 9 months old, on July 14th, 2007. I wish Jack could have gotten to know him better- he was such a great man! 

And Jason's grandfather, Carl Sutton. I love this man like he's my own grandfather. This was last summer and I just adore this photo! He's just turned 90 and still in the best shape! 

And my grandfather, Leo Ray. He passed away last September, only a few weeks after we had moved here to Sydney so I didn't get to go home for the funeral. Was so fortunate that we took a trip last summer to Ft. Smith to see him- was the first time for him to meet Henry.
His Birthday is actually today, July 5th- he always said he was the "dud" firecracker that didn't go off! :) I miss this man- so many wonderful memories with my PeePaw!



Definitely one of the hardest parts about being so far away is missing your lovedones, and not getting to spend enough time with them. 4 crazy weeks twice a year is just not enough. 

Happy 4th to everyone back home and cherish the times with your family and friends! Celebrate all that they are! :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Weekend Celebration

I am so far behind on blogging- I keep meaning to and then I get caught up doing other projects. It's been a manic few weeks- and the "sickness" floating around our house has NOT helped. Of course, it's starting to get much cooler- you know "winter" season. So the flu bugs and colds are hitting hard- the kids in Jack's class have been dropping like flies! And it's been passed around our house too many times- Jason has been lucky to escape from all of it.

So we got to celebrate Jason's 31st Birthday last week! Wednesday the 27th! Weird because this time last year we were back home in the States, celebrating Jason's birthday with close family and friends and announcing our new "move" to Sydney. Seems weird to now be in Sydney in the middle of winter.

A nice dinner out on the water- near Tunks Park- with a great view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The restaurant was called Ripples and it was superb! I had a great steak! Then back to the house (we took the train of course- public transportation in the big city!) to open presents, sing Happy Birthday and have mini cupcakes. Jason's work had gotten him 2 cakes for work so I didn't want to do too much.

Fun and great weekend though- Saturday Jason took Jack to his soccer game. Apparently Jack ran off the field at one point in the middle of the game to pet a dog! ha ha! I know Jason almost died! He'll grow out of it...right?!? Then Jack and I went to a birthday party- a bowling party in fact! I was taking pictures for a good friend- so Jack came along to play.

Then that night we hosted our very first dinner party here! In honor of Jason and his birthday of course! :) If anyone knows me- then you know I've been itching to have people over. I LOVE it! Thrive on having dinner parties! Our place is pretty small though and sometimes makes it hard.

Anyway- we had two of Jason's co-workers over and their significant others. I served homemade lasagna, grilled vegetable salad, fresh garlic bread and then topped it off with a yummy strawberry cream layer cake. :) Not to mention a beautiful cheese tray with assorted crackers- and it didn't necessarily go but potstickers. I was requested to make them- so I did. A hit- of course (recipe is on a previous post).

It was such a great evening! We ate and talked for hours. It was so nice having them over - another "family" we get to know and love. They gave Jason an awesome gift too- a photo coffee table book, titled "A Day at Bondi Beach". This guy, Eugene Tan of Aquabumps is amazing. Check him out here:

www.aquabumps.com.au

It's a cool book- full of amazing photos. Jason checks the site everyday so it was a special gift for him.

That was our weekend- Sunday was spent relaxing and preparing Jason for Hong Kong! He's been gone 3 days and we miss him already!

Delicious! Cheese is one of my most favorite things!

Strawberry Cream Layer Cake from Martha Stewart- easy and delicious! 

Best Daddy Day!

Didn't we love celebrating! After a soggy and dreary Saturday, the sun and warm weather greeted us on Sunday morning! Just perfect for celebrating Daddy's Day! :) Isn't it funny though- Father's Day celebration for Aussies is in September, but yet the Mother's Day is the same. Don't know why that is? Jason only gets one celebration though- not two days! ha ha! :)

We got out- went to Bondi- one of Jason's favorite beaches and had a beautiful stroll and lunch. Now, remember, we are not in the middle of summer, but in the middle of winter! So there was no soaking up the rays or splashing around in the water.

However, it cracked me up- such a scene! There were people in EVERY type of attire- shorts and t-shirts, flip flops, no shirts, dresses, skirts and then you had people in boots, jeans, sweaters, scarves and thick jackets! Doesn't make sense to me- but then again, alot of things here don't! Quite amusing though!

Burgers and fries for the boys- all of their favorites, then ice cream on the beach! Perfect day ending with Jason and I having some great wine and watching "The Voice".- the Aussie version. :) 

Here are some pictures that the boys and I did for Jason. I had them put in a collage and framed for his office. I thought it was a pretty cute idea. And their in his "Hurricane" jerseys. His Aunt Patty had them made at Christmas. TU jersey's with the "Wiltshire" name on the back and Jason's old TU number. I thought they were just precious and such a cute gift. :)