Friday, July 30, 2010


I forgot to add:

Since I bought the house as "Bonnie Benjamin" and am selling it as "Bonnie Lawrence," I was listed as 'formerly known as' on all the closing documents!

I felt like Ron "Tater Salad" White....a nod to Blue Collar Comedy*!

*I don't know whether to feel at home or disturbed, but since I've lived in The South for five years, Blue Collar Comedy makes more sense now. The humor seems more familiar. To make sure I don't forget my roots, I may need a dose of jokes about snow suits, corn and meat/potatoes delivered with a Yooper accent! :)

It's Closed!!!

You know how they say the happiest day of your life is the day you buy a boat.....and the second happiest day is the one where you sell the boat? The same logic applies to those holding two mortgages!

Well, we have closed on our old house! It was purchased by a couple from Gainesville who is sending their daughter to UNF for undergrad and physical therapy school. Her parents preferred her in a house rather than an apartment. We asked what they liked about our house (since they were seriously considering two of them), and apparently, the girls liked the colors of the bedrooms! Go figure!

We couldn't be happier! But, this sale did not come without it's obstacles along the way:
- Minor termite damage in the garage...remember: in Florida it's not if you'll get termite damage but when
- A broken air compressor for the air conditioner...the darn thing blew out 10 days before closing!!
- An incorrectly recorded lot parcel number...from when I bought the house!

When we walked away from closing, we were the ones going home with a check (rather than forking over a big one like when we bought our house)! It'll be enough for a couple frappuccinos...and a scone if we want to splurge! :)


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Vacation: Part Three

The marathon wedding day started at 8:30 for Scott. He headed to Mama & Papa Streiff's new house to get ready for the wedding.

Grandma, Grandpa, Mikey, Shelby and I got to the church at 11:00. The Church of the Saviour was just gorgeous - an old Gothic church with a LOOOOOONG aisle! Even Shelby signed the guestbook! Since music is such a big part of Fritz's life, his gift to Alison was the beautiful music played during the ceremony. There was a trumpet voluntary and organ music before the processional. Then, alumni from Fritz's classes sang some wonderful choral arrangements Fritz picked out. When Alison walked down the aisle with her dad, Fritz had the biggest smile on his face. It was so cute!!

Shelby saw her dad up front and said, "Dada" every 10 seconds. And, during the 90-minute ceremony, it got to be a bit much! Grandpa walked up and down the side aisle with her. They stood in the narthex, and had the coolest seat in the house with the cross breeze! They checked out the playground and outdoors, too. The groomsmen released each pew to go through a receiving line of the bride, groom, and their immediate families. With 450 guest, it took over an hour to release the whole church!!!

The FIRST reception was in the church's new (air-conditioned!) Great Hall. There was a live band, dancing, six-tiered cake, and a wonderful lunch spread. Poor Shelby (having been kept up late by her party animal grandparents the night before*) was starting to poop out. She got to enjoy the food and the music for a while. But, she was sent home with the grandparents to nap.

Scott and the bridal party left for portraits in the sanctuary, and soon left for more pictures at the country club thereafter. Sarah Kaplan - my wedding widow friend - and I helped deconstruct the reception hall. Then we headed to Beechwood Mall to kill some time before the next reception. Sarah and I were dressed up in our pretty wedding clothes and jewelry and heels. I tell you the truth: I have never gotten as much attention from sales staff as I have on that afternoon! We were stalked and doted on in every store we went in! It was crazy!

In the evening, we went to the SECOND reception (an intimate 250 people) at Manakiki Country Club. It was fantastic: wine, gin and tonics, cheese, and crackers for the appetizer. We had a chance to talk to the Streiffs and our other friends. The "young people" (Fritz's definition: 33 years and younger) sat outside. It was a bit stifling at first. But, we finally got a breeze. The cake was a delicious cassata cake from an Italian bakery in Cleveland's Little Italy. You can't go wrong with strawberries and cream inside the cake.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Week 28 Menu

Sunday: BBQ at a friend's house; we're bringing fruit, fruit dip, and some homemade wheat rolls
Monday: Something quick!
Tuesday: Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich with Charred Spring Onions (both from Bitten Word)
Wednesday: Pulled Pork (in slow cooker)
Thursday: Spinach lasagna (from the freezer) for Lasagna Day!
Friday: Homemade pizza
Saturday: Out.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Vacation: Part Two

While on vacation, Friday brought even more fun!!

Shelby took Grandpa to the lake to throw rocks in. She points toward the lake and says, "Wa wa!"

Then, Scott and I went on a lunch date to Nordstrom Cafe at Beechwood!
Trivia: Nordstrom Cafe was our first date when we went to a wedding in Minneapolis!

Grandma and Uncle Mike entertained Shelby with a $3 swimsuit, turtle sprinkler, and Little Tykes slide!

Later that evening, Scott and I went to Fritz and Alison's rehearsal dinner at Church of the Saviour in Cleveland Heights. It's a beautiful, Gothic church with one problem: no air conditioning. The weather forecast called for ninety-degree weather, and the wedding forecast called for 450 guests. Yikes!

Scott was a groomsman. So, I sat in the "wedding widows" pew with another Ohio friend: Sarah Kaplan. Sarah's husband Phil was another groomsman in the wedding.
Trivia: Fritz met Sarah and Phil on an airplane on the way down to our wedding in January, 2007! They have been friends ever since!

The rehearsal dinner had 80 people!....Ummm, the same size as our wedding reception! The dinner was catered by Fritz's friends. They are IT people by day, and foodies by night. This dinner was their first professional catering dinner. It was fabulous!!! My favorite was basil ice cream with balsamic strawberries.

Family Portrait

Silly Hijinks with the Lawrences and Streiffs!

Video courtesy of Scott Lawrence Photography

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vacation: Part One!

Scott, Shelby, and I went to Cleveland last week for Fritz's wedding and, of course, to visit with the Lawrences!!!!!! The vacation will be split into several posts as SO MUCH fun was had during the trip!
You may not know it to look at them, but Grandma and Grandpa Lawrence (AKA Bappa and Abappa) are party animals!! Let me elaborate:

Dave picked us up at the airport at 4. By 6:30, the house was filled with Streiffs*, Streiffs-to-be, Streiff-in-laws, and Connavinos for burgers on the grill!

Nancy had originally invited Beth (Streiff) & her husband John to dinner because they were driving Uncle Mike home. Then, Mom and Dad Streiff came after picking Gretchen up at the airport. Peter and his girlfriend came over when they drove in from Nashville. Even the Groom and Bride-to-be came over after getting back into town after a pre-wedding getaway! Oy!

I've known Fritz for several years now, and enjoy catching up with him when we're back in Ohio. I have heard about Beth and Gretchen from Scott and Mike, but I had never met them. I had my chance, and they are so awesome! I'm sad it's taken so long to get to know them! They are the type of girls I would have been best friends with in high school and college.

Barbecue #2! This one had the usual cast of characters: Lawrences, Connavinos, Mary Jane, Michael, Jerri. Michelle and Karen made mojitos. Yum!! Emily brought the twins. Shelby was enthralled with them! She just kept pointing and quietly saying, "bebe....bebe...." She loved them until Nancy or I would pick one up. then, she would get upset and demand to be held in the other arm. Nancy got her a plastic container to hold Goldfish Crackers (it's shaped like a Goldfish, conveniently). She loved it and would eat out of it. Once it was given to the babies as a rattle toy, Shelby would have nothing else to do with it. She may be little, but, man, is she territorial!!

*The Streiffs are Methodist ministers who serve in Ohio. They are longtime family friends of the Lawrences. Their son Fritz was the one getting married.

Week 27 Menu

YES, menus usually get posted on Sundays. YES, it is Wednesday. Well, I think I have finally recovered from vacation (sad, really). It was SO MUCH fun!!!!! More to come later. Well, here is my improv'ed menu for the week.

Sunday: Airport food in Atlanta
Monday: Pasta with pesto
Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie (from freezer)
Wednesday: Steak and broccoli
Thursday: Mini-quiches
Friday: Pumpkin pancakes (some good comfort food!)
Saturday: out. don't know where: just out.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Week 26 Menu

It's a pretty lame menu this week. We're out of town most of the week. I'll be doing my stock-up-cooking-extravaganza this week, but not much on the what's-for-dinner-tonight-cooking front this week.

Sunday: Pizza
Monday: Stuffed Peppers and veggies
Tuesday: Whole roasted chicken with homemade, crispy tortilla chips
Wednesday - Friday: Vacation in Cleveland (AKA Cooking with Uncle Mike!)
Saturday: Wedding Food in Cleveland

Friday, July 9, 2010

Knife Skills

Once I recovered my wallet from my felonious toddler on Tuesday, I headed off to a cooking class at Publix Apron's Cooking School! Mike and I had talked about finding a knife techniques class, and surprisingly, Publix offers one! Publix keeps five chefs on staff to teach these classes!

The class was simply fantastic! There is a test kitchen with room for about a dozen student cutting boards. The kitchen was outfitted with Wolf appliances, and the chefs had the best ingredients from the store in their kitchen. There were only six of us in the class. The chef had laid out some cheeses for us to nibble on during the class.

The first thing I learned was my knives are not sharp. I mean, I thought they were. But, after using professionally-sharpened knives, I feel like I've been cutting my vegetables with a ruler! Then, we learned the proper way to cut with a chef's knife. I realized I had the basic idea of how to handle the knife from watching Food Network, but I certainly learned some great cutting mechanics.

We spent two solid hours chopping, dicing, mincing, julienneing, and chiffonading. We started off easy by rough-chopping leeks, onions, parsnips and carrots. By pushing down and forward on the knife, chopping was so much more efficient!

We minced garlic and ginger by smashing the heck out of it with the side of the chef knife on the board then mincing the pulp. Less than a minute to mince three cloves of garlic!
Kitchen Tip: You can peel ginger with a spoon!

We moved on to small-dicing tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, potatoes and green beans. It was a challenge to get everybody the same size!

We finished up with chives, scallions and parsley. How many times have you chopped up a scallion only to have the little pieces still connected? I have done it many times. But, after I'd practiced my knife skills for two hours, my garnish came out very clean and crisp! I was so excited!!

The next thirty minutes were spent cooking up our dishes. The class' focus was really on chopping. So, the sous chef did most of the simmering and cooking while we learned with the executive chef. At the end we got to sit down and enjoy all the food. Everything was fantastic!!!

The class menu:

Orange Glazed Carrots
featuring: onion, carrots, garlic, ginger, parsley
Potage au Pistou (AKA Vegetable Soup)
featuring: red potatoes, brussel sprouts, green beans, tomatoes
Pico de Gallo
featuring: tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, garlic, cilantro
Vegetable Broth
featuring: onion, leek, celery, carrot, parsnip
Potato Vichyssoise
featuring: leeks, garlic, potatoes, chives

By the end of the class, I was ready to quit my job and work full-time in the Publix kitchen! I had such a great time! I could definitely be a prep chef in my next life. Need fifty onions diced by daybreak? Not a problem: I'm qualified. I took a class.

Freezer Cooking - July

Ahhhh, vacation again! I have a couple free days before we leave for Cleveland (minus LeBron) to visit family and go to a wedding!

Last month was my first foray into once-a-month freezer cooking. Overall, I think it was a success. The dishes all turned out very yummy. We only had chicken pot pies leftover. But, it was just too hot for pot pies in June!

I have a couple recipes I want to try this month. I got a pizza stone last month. So, I think I will put it to the test!

Pizza Dough x one million! (we are just in love with homemade pizza!)
Hamburger Buns
Schezuan Sauce - for marinade and sauce
Green Meatballs
Vegetable Soup (from Cooking Class!)
Spinach Lasagna
Breaded Chicken Nuggets (if I'm ambitious)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Life with a Toddler

I signed up for a cooking class at the Publix Cooking School (knife skills!). More to come on the class later.

I was going to leave work a little early. I got my keys and noticed my wallet wasn't in my purse. I looked in the car and then in the workout facility at work. No dice. I figured it must be at home as it had been a very early morning.

I came home and couldn't find it. I tore the house apart! I even looked in the bushes, garbage can, dishwasher and fridge....Hey! You never know! Don't judge me! You know you've put a dirty dish in the fridge absent-mindedly before! It was getting closer and closer to the time I had to leave and I had no ID or money. I had to go across town for the class and only had a quarter tank of gas. Not ideal. I took the checkbook to the bank to cash a check.....but the darn bank closed at 4pm! Seriously?!

I came home dejected and apathetic. Scott offered to leave early to get home in time for me to make the class, but I was just so bummed. I figured since I was home, I may as well clean up Shelby's toys a bit. I was thinking, "I can't even blame her! She's still too little." As I tossed Kitty into the toy box, I saw a familiar, black wallet peeking out from under Baby Henry! It took a minute to register.

The Pumpkin pickpocketed me!!!!!!!!

I grabbed it, threw on my shoes, and called Scott that his daughter had stolen my wallet as I squealed out of the driveway. I made it to the class with 3 minutes to spare. And, it was the most amazing class! I'm so glad I was able to go!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Week 25 Menu

Sunday: Steaks and broccoli on the grill; strawberry shortcake for dessert!
Monday: Leftover pasta salad and oven fries; apple crisp on the grill for dessert!
Tuesday: Stuffed peppers (from the freezer)
Wednesday: Schezuan Chicken (from the freezer) and rice
Thursday: Curried Egg Salad
Friday: Leftovers or Homemade pizza
Saturday: Out? Dinner with friends?