Friday, February 26, 2010


Carter has a rat tail. That is all.

Cupcake Catering

My MIL is having a party tonight. This is her menu of delicacies:

Meringue cookies
Wedding cookies (the ones with pecans and powdered sugar)
Hazelnut cookies (hazelnut sugar cookies sandwiched with apricot jam, one side dipped in chocolate)
Chocolate orange truffles

Don't you want to eat that for the rest of your life?

I got to help with three flavors of cupcakes for the party.

Cupcake #1
Yellow cake with a little little bit of lemon zest with vanilla bean buttercream frosting and sugar sprinks

Cupcake #2
Espresso-spiked chocolate cake with tart cherry buttercream frosting and Whopper garnish

Cupcake #3
Walnut carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and lasso of toasted coconut

Can I share a dirty secret here? It's just us, right? Every time I bake a cake (I'm talking chocolate or yellow or white generally) from scratch, using like a real recipe and everything, I always think to myself, "That way way more trouble than it was worth." I made fancy chocolate cupcakes that required sifting and all this hoop-la, and they were HORRIBLE. They were bland and un-chocolatey and had a bitter aftertaste. Really? I had to throw them out. I will store this information away: box it is.

I do think there are a few exceptions. Carrot cake for one. But for the most part, I'm just going to add things in to the box cake mix if I want to fancify anything from here on out.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Here! Here!

picture via here

"Faces of America" on PBS

PBS has a new four-part program about genealogical history and the power of ancestry and origins in contributing to a person's life and success... and can I use the slightly dramatic word "destiny" here?

The Root says that "those who appear on the four-part program include chef Mario Batali, comedian Stephen Colbert, novelist Louise Erdrich, journalist Malcolm Gladwell, actress Eva Longoria, musician Yo-Yo Ma, director Mike Nichols, Her Majesty Queen Noor, television host/heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, actress Meryl Streep, and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi."

I tried to embed a clip, but I think there's copyright issues, so just go to this link if interested.


Jenny let me make cookies for her youngest son's christening. I, of course, forgot to take pictures, so I stole these two that she sent me. Isn't her table beautiful?! Look at those flowers, people. Go visit her blog.

Last summer, I posted on Jenny and her stylish house and her feature on Cote de Texas if you'd like to reminisce with me. The girl has STYLE. Additionally, she is tiny, beautiful, witty, effervescent.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cute Overload, Modern Pups, and Very Serious Hipsters

Just so you know, this post is not just devoted solely to divine, infantine (that is a word) swine. Although that one is so cute I could just eat... uh.

From this post on Cute Overload

This one's caption had something to do with unbeatable peripheral vision.

via Cute Overload here

Last, we have the party house. Lu might have done something similar last night with a Nurf football. I would have been mad if I could've stopped picturing the hilarious vision of what she looked like furiously running around and tearing it to tiny bits like a rabid dog baby. It covered our bedroom floor.

The post is titled "Just Be Glad They Didn't Get Their Paws on a Glue Gun."

This now brings us to a blog I just found today called Hipster Puppies. I think you're going to die. Watch out for mild language. I've included two samples here with their captions, both dedicated to my husband.

"Don’t use the term 'world music' around thurston unless you want a 20 minute lecture."

"Rambo’s appreciation for the music of r. kelly rapidly evolved from 'ironic' to 'genuine' to 'not at all.'”

And last today, please enjoy the humor of the very popular Unhappy Hipster blog.

"The stools huddled together, braced for another one of his incoherent solo poetry slams."

The sad truth was that the divide was rooted in the disappearance of a rare Marimekko maxi dress.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Look right there. (from here.)

Delight and Frivolity

I've been thinking.

Darby from Fly Through our Window recently had a post, "The Sacrament of Living," and quoted The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, a French 17th-century monk. I haven't read the book, but she talks about the idea that "it is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it," which touched on a topic that has sort of been floating around me lately. I love the idea of dialogue and overlap between the supposedly sacred and secular elements of our lives and how daily life and the things we most enjoy doing can be sacred.

I think about (I'm sure I'll butcher the plot) based-on-a-true-story Chariots of Fire, where a young man's family wanted him to become a missionary and believed that a spiritual profession was the only way to live out a life for God, but the young man was a talented runner and felt pulled to run. He had a gift and enjoyed exercising it. (Get it? Exercising it? Ahem...) I think he became the first person to run a four minute mile, and the young man's career and story end up touching many, many people because he followed the supposed frivolous talents he'd been given.

The quote that I remember from the movie was something along the lines of "God smiles when I run." And don't you love the idea of that? I love that God smiles at the small, beautiful, even mundane tasks in our lives when we do them with purpose. I love that our pleasure isn't mutually exclusive from grander pleasure and plan, that things don't have to be practical to be valuable.

How about a list of things I want to do with purpose and delight?

  • Baking sweet cornbread with a golden, just crispy crust on top
  • Playing with Lu
  • Reconciling our accounts in QuickBooks at work
  • Writing essays to apply for a fall teaching/research assistantship
  • Doing lunges at the gym
  • Watching it snow (again!)
  • Planning cupcake flavors for a party this weekend
  • Cutting Carter's hair

Monday, February 22, 2010

Well Done

Artlab on Etsy sells clothing, jewelry, and photographs that are pretty, raw-edged,and/or industrial.

I just noticed that those are lyrical dance shoes. Some use them for modern dance, but most people just go barefoot for modern. I used to have a pair, but I mostly felt like they just got in the way. Mine were tan. and dirty.

Throw Down

Do you watch Throw Down with Bobby Flay? Every once in awhile we do. Last night, tired of hockey and skiing, we switched to the Food Network. It was a paella throw down. Bobby described what one needs in a good paella pan.

Commence marital misunderstanding...

TV Bobby: You need one with a thick bottom.

Carter: That's like you.

Beth: What?

Carter: That's like you. (starting to sense something has gone wrong)

Beth: What's like me?

Carter: The, uh, paella pan.

Beth: Um, WHAT?

Carter: The bottom of the paella pan.

Beth: HOW is it like me?

Carter: It has a fit bottom.

Beth: He said "THICK BOTTOM." It doesn't even make sense for a pan to have a "fit bottom."

Carter: Sorry.

Beth: I'll be out back doing lunges. (Just kidding. I didn't really say that.)

Who knew paella could cause such problems? Throw down indeed.

(Just for the record, I have a flat pancake bottom, so neither thick nor fit actually.)

Friday, February 19, 2010


Our neighbors across the street briefly lost their foster dog a few days ago. We had gone out for a walk, and Carter had seen the dog run across the street earlier. Since I still poignantly remember the terror of Lu's Great Adventure, we walked around and tried to look for her. They found her; crisis was averted; and we got to meet the cuteness of Weezy... which made me think of Weezer, which I think is a great name for a dog.

Weezy is a mix of some kind, but there is certainly chihuahua and maybe dachshund in there somewhere. She was so sweet and docile and shivering from being so small and cold. I wanted her so badly, but I was quickly reminded about our experience with Little Bill and retreated back into a more realistic one-dog-family mindset.

This is not an actual picture of Weezy--just an approximation found in Google images. But she's cute, right? (I still secretly want her... or maybe not secretly at all.)

Old Spice Man

Have you seen this commercial? I thought it was hilarious. We saw it while watching Lost and rewound it so we could watch again. I think that's saying sumpin.

Flying Tomato

We watched Bob Costas interview Shaun White last night. Well, Shaun certainly isn't modest... which I guess comes from lots of money and notoriety and world-renowned athletic ability from a very young age. I should have expected it, I suppose.

On a side note, Carter proposed the theory that Shaun would not be nearly so famous without his trademark red hair. Initially, I disagreed with this idea, but then, the point was made that there are many young and equally successful skiers and skaters and what have you. Shaun probably stood out, especially in the beginning, because he was so easily recognizable. Who would guess that this feature would become so iconic? I guess we should have looked to Carrot Head as a template.

Last, my father-in-law is at the Olympics right now! Maybe he had dinner with Shaun and Mr. Costas and Apolo and Johnny Weir. He probably did. I mean if I had to guess. They're probably hanging out right now. Best friends.

Monday, February 15, 2010

We Celebrated.

We set our table.

We made filet mignon with creamy bleu cheese sauce, sauteed mushrooms, and crispy cornmeal onion rings. Plus, we made a pink cocktail that involved pomegranate, vodka, and a splash of Champagne.

We made raspberry curd meringue tart with a dark chocolate crust. Isn't meringue beautiful? You don't want to know that the raspberry curd didn't set and oozed out like a straight up sauce. Carter even remarked that "it looks like lava," when I cut into it. Nevertheless, it tasted just fine when I shoveled a disgustingly large portion down my gullet. Nothing makes one feel sexy like a stomach distended from inordinate amounts of sugar. And chocolate. And steak.

I also made dark chocolate balsamic truffles. This is the box I put them in. I can't take pictures of the truffles because they're gone. Earlier that day, Carter saw some in a magazine and tried to talk me into making them, but I said no, that I wanted something nicer for our special dessert, but actually I had already made them and stowed them away. Surprise!

I wanted to get him a set of Table Topics for Couples cards like Erin of Elements of Style suggested, but I figured that I could make them just as easily. I did a little research and found a suitable list of about a hundred probing questions, and made our own little stack. Things like "Where do you go for advice?" and "Did you take your lunch or eat school lunch?" and "Do you believe there's one soul mate for each person?" and "Who was your worst boss?" I thought they were fun and would make a nice little tradition for after dinner.

Carter was work, work, working away on something Saturday. He made me a scavenger hunt around our house! He put so much thought into it, and I laughed so hard at his thoughtful and witty clues. Each of the ten clues included a sweet compliment, and each of hiding places hinged on things I do throughout the day. We finished up at the scrapbook I keep of our momentos, so we got to look through that, too, plus an extra outpouring of nice things he had to say.

In sum, good things to eat and lots of laughing and declarations about my greatness. What's not to love about that?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The best husband...

"An archeologist is the best husband a woman could have. The older she gets, the more he's interested in her." Agatha Christie (via Fly Through Our Window)

or my version...

A real estate appraiser is the best husband a woman can have. He knows her inside and out and confirms her value to others.

Fortunately, Carter doesn't take a tape measure around my middle. ;)

Why I Love Him (or A List for Carter)

  • He is passionate about many, many things. If he loves something, he's all in.

  • He makes the coffee every morning.

  • He likes everything I cook. (Well, except for that brussel sprout debacle a few years ago...)

  • He takes establishes staunch opinions and has reasons behind them. No one ever called him wishy-washy.

  • If we were in a movie, he would be the kind of character who would chase after me or do something dramatic in the end.

  • Lu loves him, too. Nothing makes her happier than playing with him.

  • He is a curious person, a person who likes to learn.

  • He is deliberate about not gawking at other women--not in restaurants, not on TV, not anywhere--whether I'm around or not. It means a lot to me. In my eyes, it is proof of his respect for me and the value he places on our marriage. He is faithful and wants to be faithful and won't even toy around with something that would endanger any part of it.

  • He is unbelievably sincere and generous with his compliments--even we're just sitting on the couch and I'm looking a mess. He still sees the good in me. His main "love language" is encouraging words.

  • He is the best communicator I know.

  • He doesn't stand for my passive aggressive bull corn. If I have a problem, he helps me talk it out.

  • He sits on Anthropologie couches for extended amounts of time.

  • He has the best memory of anyone I know.

  • He doesn't put up a fuss if I ask him to clean the bathtub or mop the kitchen, and I only have to ask once. He's quick to help. I think my strongest "love language" is acts of service, so it's a really big deal to me that he would work at some pretty unpleasant things so that I don't have to.

  • He likes my parents, particularly talking football with my dad.

  • He is very masculine, and yet thinks conditioner is essential.

  • When I ask him which shoes/earrings/scarf I should don, he really looks and has an opinion.

  • He is big and strong. I know many of you have heard this story already, so bear with me. Sometimes I have an inflated sense of my own strength/height. When we were dating, I thought I could do as many push-ups as he, and when he laughed at me and told me he could do more even with me on his back, I was skeptical because I didn't think that I could do that, and if we're about the same strength, then surely he couldn't. Long story short, he is much stronger than me and can do many push-ups with me on his back.

  • He has lots of long-term friendships with really great guys. He talks to them on the phone about what's going on and how they are, which I think is pretty rare. He is loyal, and he's interested in other people's lives.

  • He encourages and pushes me to follow through on my dreams.

  • He takes an interest in my interests. Hello, Barefoot Contessa every day at lunch.

  • He lets me pick what restaurant every time.

  • He loves Jesus and actively tries to know Him.

  • I could be absolutely gross, absolutely real, say anything, be grouchy, be sharp, and he would still love me.

  • I can wear my highest heels, and he's still taller.

  • He likes lists, too. "Name your top 5 meals... your top 5 cities to live in the US... your top 5 Lost characters... and so on."

This is just the tip of the iceberg. He's the perfect combination of things I never thought I'd find in one person. He's a man's man, but he's cultured. He shares my convictions, and he shares my interests, and I'd do anything for him. I love him.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mixing Up Meals

We're trying to add some variation to our weekly menus and grocery shopping, emphasizing frugality. Urban Grace posted on some of her favorite apps and included this free one, Dinner Spinner. You select what kind of dish you want, a main ingredient, and an amount of time you want to spend making it, and the app generates recipe options for you. I can't wait to shake things up.

Does anyone have any go-to budget meal ideas they'd like to volunteer so the Wooten can give them a try? I know I have some good cooks out there. I'm counting on you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


After the anticlimactic Tebow spot and the "Poor Poor Men who Can't Live in Filth and Have to Hold Down a Job" Dodge Charger ad, I'm gonna go ahead and step out and say that the Superbowl commercials were a resounding disappointment.

Please take note of the most effective advertising on TV.

I have a sugar high just watching it.

If it sparkles and pleases...

I don't know where that first one came from, but the bottom three are from the portfolio of Bonesteel Trout and Hall.

Monday, February 8, 2010

We got a living room rug.

February deco vignette... Ignore blackened candles and wilting greens.

My only two minor complaints are that seagrass smells like tea/hay and it is a little rough to the touch... we'll say it's exfoliating our calloused winterized heels. I know a few residents around here who could use a little exfoliation. And I'm not just talking about this little couch potato.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Latest Exciting Thing

Maybe we're slow to the game, but this is what happened in our living room last night:

We activated wifi for the PS3. We inserted our magic DVD from Netflix and entered our secret code on Netflix's website on the laptop. Voila! We have instant Netflix movies flowing into the PS3 and channeling onto the big TV.

This is awesome.

We can watch SNL's Best of Christopher Walken or East of Eden or seasons of Anthony Bourdain or anything else in our Instant Queue. Or we can watch parts one and two of the Lost pilot, which is what we did.

It is very exciting.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I was looking for a cute picture of Giada because of the following interesting tidbit I wanted to spread, and I found this image, which I thought was pretty hilarious.

What I really wanted to share: Giada visits Austin an upcoming episode of Giada's Weekend Getaways on the Food Network. Go check out where she stays and eats.

P.S. Now, I don't hate precious, little Giada. (I do know someone who has referred to her as a bobble head--big head on a little body.) Her show and Ina's are the best shot shows on the Food Network, and really, the only ones that I get excited to watch. Their shows look like a beautifully photographed cookbook to me... but... Come on with all that cleavage, girl. Good gosh. Every episode. I guess I can't blame her. If she buttoned a few more buttons on her blouse I'm not sure she would have quite the notoriety she now has. Isn't she every man's dream? Big bosoms hanging out, (pretty) good food, and bubbly sweetness. I think I'm just jealous.


from Elizabeth Kimberly Interiors

"Vegetarian" Cassoulet

We love this soup. It's based on this 2008 Gourmet recipe.

1. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in medium pot. Slice 2 carrots, white parts of 2 (thoroughly cleaned) leeks, and 3 stalks of celery about the same size. Add a reasonable amount of salt and pepper. Then saute until all are pretty well cooked through and softened... about 15 minutes.

2. Dice one clove of garlic (or two) with a little bit of ground clove and sautee with veg for about a minute.

3. Add one can of cannellini beans and stir it around and try to mash some of them up a little so they'll thicken your broth.

4. Bury a few sprigs of thyme and one sprig of rosemary under everything. You could tie them together as a kind of bouquet garni, but I usually just fish them out before ladling.

5. Pour enough chicken broth to cover everything. And then a little extra.

6. While the soup is simmering (20 minutes or so), tear about half a baguette into pieces and pulse in the food processor until you have rough breadcrumbs. Do NOT use package bread crumbs. The baguette is what makes the soup. It is essential.

7. On a baking sheet, toss breadcrumbs with olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper. Toast them on 4oo degrees for 8-10 minutes. Then take them out shake them around, and toast them for another 8-10 minutes. Watch them. No burning.

8. Dice up between a half a cup and a cup of parsley. Toss half of it with the crispy breadcrumbs. Stir the other half of it in the simmering soup.

9. Ladle into bowls and top generously with the breadcrumbs.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's a Smitten.

You can get one for your honey on Etsy. Here.

Getting All Archetypal

I'm curious to see how Lost plays out this season and hesitant to think that a clear-cut dark versus light, Jacob versus Esau/Man in Black, hero versus villain (Smokey versus the polar bears? anyone?) showdown is about to unfold. Lost's writers and audience seem a little bit too... is post-modern the word I'm looking for? Post-hero?

A clear-cut good guy and bad guy seems a tad old-fashioned for this audience. Don't we love a little more relativism in our final seasons? Although Lost has always been about a battle between two man forces: Jack v. Locke, Ben v. Locke, Ben v. Widmore, Jacob v. Man in Black, they've also always enjoyed blurring lines with pesky back stories and motivations. Now, having acknowledged that these nuances are a major source of my love for the show, nothing satisfies like Good solidly thumping Evil in the end... but I just don't foresee that kind of ending here.

I want the following this season:
  • Claire answers
  • season one Kate (as opposed to annoying Latter Day Kate)
  • random Vincent sightings
  • Sayid breaking more necks with his feet
  • Hurley and Miles convos
  • Manipulative, creepy Ben but still with the broken-down, primal stabbings and whatnot
  • Jacob and Man in Black maneuvering
  • No Juliet whining or hokey, overacted Jughead busting
  • Dr. Chang's prosthetic hand
  • Rousseau (I know. I don't care.)
  • Eko (I know. I don't care.)
  • Boone and Shannon (just kidding)
  • Jack and Christian showdown
  • minimal Daniel Faraday
  • Sawyer diving off cliffs like in his Cool Water Cologne commercials

Monday, February 1, 2010

This took me all morning.

I found a free sentence diagramming tool online. Don't get me wrong. You have to draw your own diagram and fill it in.

HOWEVER, the fact that I am no good with computers compounded by the impossible-to-navigate and illogical diagramming tool compounded by the struggle to enlarge the finished diagram compounded by trying to convert it to jpeg (what is that?) has, by comparison, made the actual act of diagramming seem ludicrously easy and even childish.

Do you want me to create a power point presentation showcasing a diagram of every sentence in this post for you? I now have the skills to do exactly that.