Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pixar Passion

Trae and I are children at heart. We love Disney, especially Pixar. (Proof of our love: Our first dance as husband and wife was to Married Life from Pixar's UP.) Well, as mentioned in my previous post, we have not been on a lot of dates lately and have not had a lot of "us" time. We have spent the last couple of months meeting up with others or driving to South Carolina or Tennessee. So for Valentine's Day, I figured we should incorporate our love of Pixar with our desperate need to relax. The idea was inspired by a winery review on the Disney Food Blog, because Trae and I also enjoy a good bottle of wine about as much as a great Pixar movie.

from Pixar Corner

The review introduced me to the fact that John Lasseter, the guru of Pixar, has a winery. Even better, the winery had Valentine's Day specials. I called to order the wine and talked to the nicest lady on the phone. She seemed genuinely interested in why I was ordering the wine, especially when I told her my husband does digital animation and admired Mr. Lasseter. The order was for the Rosa bottle and two wine glasses that arrived in a very snazzy black box and even slightly chilled. I'm a sucker for someone who is nice on the phone, especially in the day of automated voices; she was so nice that I would tell anyone to call up and order from this winery. (Side note: The wine was good, very subtle but tasty. We normally prefer more pronounced flavors, but this wine was prefect for the occasion. The glasses are super nice too!) 

After getting the package, my brain went crazy with thinking of the perfect Valentine's Day dinner to go with this gift. Steak? Lamb? Fancy pasta? I then realized I was calling on the spirit of Julia Child to guide me when instead I needed John Lasseter to lead the way. So I came up with a menu inspired by all the Pixar movies:
Pizza Planet Pizza (Toy Story, but really all the movies)
Ha! Ha! Humorous Hummus (Monster's Ink)
Mine! Goldfish (Finding Nemo)
No Capes Cheesesticks (Incredibles)
Remy’s Parisian Popcorn
Sep-tua-centennial Cupcake in a Cup (Wall-E)
Kevin Catchers (Chocolate, UP)
Slim Sticks (Pretzel Rods, Bug's Life)

Flo’s Fuel ( Cars, Coffee to stay awake during the movie-thon)

I then went in search of Pixar related items to help set the scene. Lucky for me we already own some Pixar stuff, like a stuffed Remy, Jessie talking doll, a decent sized Wall-E, and a small Flick from Bug's Life.(Told ya we are kids are heart; we own and still buy toys!) Yet, I wanted to add to that collection to help make the setting even better while not spending a ton of money. With creative thinking, Internet searches, and clearance racks, I managed to set up a pretty cute Pixar slumber party for pretty cheaply.

I started off by thinking about Pixar icons, such as the boot that held the plant in Wall-E or the BnL logo..

I painted cups with the BnL logo for our cupcake in a cup and I had my own version of the boot.

The boot is Trae's. I'm lucky he didn't notice it was missing!
I love Ratatouille, especially the scene where Remy is caught fixing the soup. 

from Born for Geekdom

By using a small cooper pot and a stuffed Remy from our Disney trip, I was able to recreate the scene:

The Buzz Lightyear in the background is actually a favor box!

I also looked on the Disney Family website and found a cute pattern for Nemo invitations, which I made out of felt and attached to ocean blue ribbon to hang from the table.Since I imagine I am a crafty person, I have craft supplies at the apartment and already had the right felt colors and ribbon.

The wine bucket that held the Lasseter wine was a cheap sand bucket painted to look like Mike Wazowski
 from Monsters Inc.

from Pixar Corner
The finished bucket:

The frame was an awesome Ebay score

Overall, by adding fun touches, like balloons for UP and Cars party plates with various Pixar themed items found at Party City, I think the set up was pretty whimsical.

A dollar plastic bowl decorated with Sharpie markers

The party was a slumber party, so I fixed blankets on the floor to give it a full slumber party feel instead of laying out the futon. We even wore Pixar themed pjs!
Trae's shirt was a Target clearance find. I made mine out an old tank top
and Cars fabric with the no-stitch ironing strips.

The blanket fit the theme and I've had it since I was a freshman in college.
Both Wall-E items we already had.
Sam Libby had to join the fun!
We ate "Pizza Planet" pizza and enjoy the snacks while watching Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Monsters Inc. We finished the night with homemade cupcakes being turned into milkshakes in painted BnL cups. 

The cups were painted by cutting out a BnL logo and laying it on the cup.

Trae was super surprised by it all. I had him shut his office door while I set up. After getting everything laid out and pretty, I cracked the door open to hand him his new shirt with an invitation (a colored page from a Pixar coloring book) attached. He changed in his office then stepped out to his surprise. Trae's face was the classic astonished face, which told me my efforts had not been in vain. Trae's face let me know that this date night was the perfect "us" time and just what we needed: a reason to curl up with no worries or places to be.

The night was fun and made us feel like kids again. Trae had a blast watching Pixar movies he hadn't seen in awhile. I never knew how much he liked Finding Nemo; he can quote that movie as well as I can quote Beauty and the Beast! Having to stop and veg out in front of the TV while pigging out really let us relax and recharge our solar power. (Sorry, bad Wall-E reference!)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Preview of What's To Come!

I am giddy with excitement about planning Valentine's Day for my husband. Now I normally despise the over commercialized holiday. The cards, the hearts, the chemical tasting chocolate crammed into red shimmery boxes. I can't stand any of it. I don't want a man to buy a five dollar Hallmark card to tell me he loves me or roses that have been raised over double their normal price.

From: Operation t-shirt

Yet, this year,  I am over the moon excited with planning. Trae and I haven't had time for the two of us in awhile, so we have decided to take time off from the world and celebrate the holiday of love. We use to have a monthly date night. McGee's Irish Pub in Anderson, SC had theme nights for 30 bucks a person. The dinners included three to four courses, drinks and entertainment. The food was always wonderful. Most of the time an improv group put on some very funny murder mysteries, but we have also seen a Celtic band and had Titanic themed music with trivia. A lot of the dinners encouraged diners to dress the part, which appealed to me very much!! After each night was over, we would put down our deposit for the next month's dinner. Then we moved, and our mandatory dates stopped.

Our last Irish McGee's dinner...a Roaring 20s Murder!
Side note: We went on this date the night before we moved!

The dates acted as monthly services to the marriage, sort of like how a car has tune ups. We would go out and let go for one night. Now, we don't have marriage problems, but without maintenance things don't last. Sadly, since we have moved, we have really gotten out of the habit of going on dates. We have had pressures of job interviews, GRE test taking, family illness, unpacking, etc.

Also, we got lazy. McGee's was the perfect answer. Pay, eat, enjoy, leave. Each date was planned for us, and we didn't have to go in search of fun. Now we have moved, and nowhere around here does themed dinners like McGee's. We enjoy looking and finding new places, but motivating ourselves on the weekend can be hard. We became passholders at the Biltmore Estate to encourage us to get out more, and we do have a lot of great fun things to do around the area. We just haven't. I think this date I am planning with restart our desire to do our once a month dates.

I truly think what I have planned for him is just what we need! Note, I am not excited about what Trae is doing for me, but instead, what I can do for him. I know this might seem odd to point out, but having time to plan a date and decorate for it is a present for myself. I don't like how during this holiday the stereotype is that all women want shiny things in jewelry boxes and men just have to listen to the ch-ching of the register. I receive a lot of happiness planning and doing things for others, especially when it is a surprise!! 

But Carrie, you are blogging about it?!?!?! How will it be a surprise? Hakuna Matata. He knows I am planning a surprise at home date. If I didn't tell him, the night might be taken away with "life-stuff" getting in the way. Therefore, he has been told "Saturday night is our night. No questions allowed."

A lot of my inspiration has come from the creative ladies at Dating Divas. This website has a lot of fun and cheesy ideas for dates, and I took the foundation of some of their ideas and have come up with a great stay at home date for the two of us. One of my favorite idea of theirs is the activity jar for two. I've been collecting flyers for places near us, so I think I will use those to create my activity jar. The bulk of my inspiration has come from their movie-themed dates. (I am longing to order wishing lanterns like the ones from Tangled. Thanks to Dating Divas, I now know they exist and aren't expensive!!) My exact date assure cannot be found on this website, but inspiration sure can be on Dating Divas for anyone who is looking for fun and unique at a non-expensive price!

So, to give you hints on a post I cannot wait to write, I will give you a few things that we make an appearance on Saturday for this date:
-a sand bucket
-two large plastic cups
-a unique picture frame
-homemade pizza
-cheesy theme
-food to go along with cheesy theme

If Trae reads this, then I can say no more. I can just leave Trae and you with the anticipation of what is to come!

Could this photo be a hint?? Hmmm...who knows!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Party Wars

My husband has crossed over; he is officially in his thirties. He is 31 to be exact.  So to celebrate this adult milestone, we threw a Star Wars party. (Nothing says adulthood like lightsabers.)

Since school had just started, I did not have a chance to make a huge menu, but with some internet searching and creative thinking, we did come up with a pretty fun Star Wars inspired menu. We had X-wings (chicken wings), Leia buns with Han-burgers, Lando Lays (potato chips), Alderaan Ash (chex-mix coated in peanut butter and powdered sugar), Vader Tots, Ewok Munch, and Chewie Bits. I also labeled the coffee maker as the Java the Hut station. I found a few good websites for inspiration, mainly justJENN had the best ideas.

We haven't added all the food yet, but overall not a bad spread!

Overall, I was shocked about how little there was to find for Star Wars food inspiration. I did like the idea of pretzel rod lightsabers. A lot of blogs used the Williams-Sonoma cookie cutters, which are awesome. The problem with the cookie cutters is they are very time consuming, and normally I am all about time consuming projects. (Sounds odd, I know, but I love taking the time to develop one awesome looking treat.) I do feel bad about not making the cookies because Trae requested them, but alas, adulthood called.

I think if we had more time, Trae and I would have gone over the movies to think of theme food to serve. I would have love to found a way to make food inspired by asteroid fields, Dagobah, the Death Star, Hoth, and Cloud City. (For Cloud City, I did like the idea of marshmallows!)

One thing the party did have was an awesome cake with "hoth" cream!

Yep, have to brag. I made that R2D2 cake, which you can read about here on the Sing Along Kitchen!  The best part is that I had a lot of left over cake, and the next day my parents came to visit. My dad's birthday is right after Trae's birthday, so I made Dad a Star Wars cake with the leftovers. I felt very brave after my fondant success, and decided to do a fully covered cake. 

I figured that since my father and Trae are two peas in a pod, then they needed buddy cakes. Trae gets R2D2 and Dad gets C3P0! (It is also a very fitting cake, because Dad and I saw Star Wars in Concert that was narrated by the actor who played C3P0. Very awesome night.) 

The cake wasn't as hard to cover as I thought, except when I first laid the fondant on the icing. I had the sheet of fondant a little off and it was impossible to pull the sheet back off, so one small side is a patch job. 

My dad with his cake

 The color wasn't too hard to achieve. I mixed a regular yellow with a gold yellow and then dusted the whole cake with bronze edible dust. (I had it left over from making bronze chocolate stars for a Trae's grandfather's birthday and he was awarded a bronze star.) A little bit of that dust goes a long ways, so even if it is a little pricey to buy, the dust will last a very long time.

The rises were just puzzle pieced together scraps of cakes and the eye sockets were cut out with cookie cutters. The pupils were chocolate chips, flat side up. My favorite tool was used to create the divits along the headband looking piece. Over all, while it might not be a spitting image of C3P0, I would consider my first fully-fondant covered cake a success.

Cake carnage