we be jammin: 2010

Yesterday afternoon, as I was washing jars & lids, I asked my dad if 3 years was long enough to call something a tradition. He said yes. Therefore, I proudly present to you the Third Annual Jam Making Extravaganza of Victoria Gerhardt and Rachel Parton.

Or, as we like to call it, our 3rd Jammin' Tradition.

Of course, we had a little help this year.

This year we made 4 batches, which is the most we've made together yet! Our work station pretty much took over V's kitchen.

The "full, rolling boil" - a dangerous time in jam making! Notice how Victoria tries to stand as far away from the pot as possible, while still "stirring constantly".

When all was said & done, we sat back and admired our work while enjoying strawberry sundaes. You can't make jam and not use the leftover berries for strawberry sundaes.
Sweet, strawberry bliss!


new ... friend?

Probably on the Top 10 list of Things Zooey Never Expected to Occur in Her Life:

Getting head-butted by a baby goat.


overheard in preschool vbs

First 3-year old boy: "I have to pee!"

Second 3-year old boy: "If you push your belly button, you pee faster!"


cooking class

Last night I took a cooking class with a bunch of girl friends. I learned a ton, the food was delicious, it was a blast AND I conquered one of my biggest fears! We went to Edwards in Northville, which I highly recommend. The chefs, Kris & Vivian, were awesome - funny, encouraging & so helpful!

Our theme was "Cooking for Two". We started off with Saganoki Toasts, which were basically gourmet grilled cheese - Kasseri cheese on baguettes with lemon zest & butter. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of one. Then we made a basic vinaigrette - very zesty & fresh tasting. Our main dish was Greek Chicken.

Here's Andrea, pounding out the chicken with gusto.

Mom & Internet - I gutted a raw tomato. WITH MY BARE HANDS.
And I have photographic evidence. If you didn't know, I loathe raw tomatoes. I like salsa, I like spaghetti sauce, I like ketchup... but in the raw form - barf. And I have honestly tried to like them! I've tried them in salads, I've tried them with various dressings - every time, gag reflex. I hate the taste, the seeds, the SMELL... However, I overcame my weakness last night! Next thing you know, I'll be growing my own. Maybe.


The finished product, complete with tomato-skin roses, crafted by Rose and Ellie. Doesn't this just look lovely?!
The chicken was stuffed with feta, oregano & tomatos. YUM!

Then dessert. Ohhhh dessert.
Lemon Raspberry Pistachio Galette

We used puff pastries and lemon curd, put some raspberries in the middle, baked them & sprinkled pistachios on top. SWEET BLISS.

And after we were all stuffed, they brought out an enormous slice of chocolate-raspberry torte as a surprise for Andrea's & Sara's birthdays.

Patti, me, Ellie, Vanessa, Rose, Madelyn
Katy, Sara, Andrea, Tracy, Char

Such a fun, delicious evening with awesome girls!


zooey: 1 year

It needed to be done, so I did it. Here's a look back on Zooey's first year of life.

Born: June 19, 2009

July 2009: Back when she was still "S-2"... this was the picture that made me fall in love with her.

August 2009: Zooey comes home.

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 19, 2010
"Mom, stop. You're embarrassing me."


the tale of a baby shower

So all week I'd been having a blast planning Debbie's baby shower, thinking of fun ideas, getting suggestions from my friends - so exciting! There were some, uh, minor setbacks along the way, but the shower ended up being delightful!

Last night, I was leaving Meijer around 10pm, and when I walked out, it had started sprinkling, it was super windy and it was lightning. And suddenly unattended grocery carts are rolling across the parking lot. By the time I got home, the power was out. The storm was awesome - I've never seen such crazy colors of lightning. Doug & I propped some pillows by the window & watched.

An hour later, I started getting a little nervous, because the power still wasn't back on. I went to bed. I woke up at 5:00am, looked at my alarm clock... and it was black. At which point I realized, uh oh. I may not have power at all today! I lay awake panicking for about half an hour, then fell asleep for a couple more hours.

Long story short, no power all day! The party still came together - it looked great & everyone seemed to have a good time. From about 1:45-2:30, things were a little insane - I was trying to get changed and put together finger sandwiches simultaneously... In fact, it wasn't until halfway through the shower that I went the bathroom, was washing my hands, looked in the mirror and jumped in shock because I had forgotten to put makeup on. Yeah.

I need to give a huge shout out to my amazing friends, Sara & Katy - I could NOT have pulled this whole thing off without them!! They were such lifesavers. Girls, thank you SO much for everything!
Oh - here's the onesies I made for Debbie! Kind of hard to see in the picture, but I sewed little felt... things... on them. "Li'l Slugger", a tie, "Sweet Pea" and "Li'l Monkey".

As I was doing dishes, the power came back on, and I shrieked & starting dancing around - I think I scared Zooey. Doug went to a baseball game with Kress, so after the house was back in order, I looked at Zooey & said, "We are going to slob around like no one's business." In the words of my mother (and her mother): Having fun is hard work!

Okay, one last thing - today is Zooey's 1st birthday. Happy birthday, you sweet little freak. You drive us crazy, but we do love you.
If you're thinking that looks like a dog treat with frosting... you're absolutely right.


delicious summer dinner

Just made this tonight for dinner - loved it, had to share!

Caribbean Chicken with Four-Fruit Salsa
Grilled Basil-Lime Corn on the Cob

For salsa (recipe from Taste of Home: Simple & Delicious)
1 medium peach, chopped
1/2 c. each: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries
1/4 c. chopped red onion
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 c. chopped sweet red pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro*
2 T. lime juice
1/8 t. salt

I didn't have, but recipe also calls for:
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & minced
1 t. minced fresh gingerroot
1 t. Caribbean jerk seasoning

Combine all ingredients and chill until serving.
*I might use a little less cilantro; it gets pretty overpowering after a few bites.

For chicken:
The salsa recipe said "serve with grilled meat, fish or poultry" - I wanted to spice up my chicken just a bit, so I improvised! I used honey and a little generic "kickn' chicken" rub. If I had the Caribbean jerk seasoning, I would have seasoned my chicken with that.

For corn:
The recipe was from Taste of Home, but I ended up improvising. Here's my recipe.
6 T. butter, softened
1/2 t. dried basil
1/4 t. sugar
dash salt
dash garlic salt
a few shakes of lime juice
(If I had had a real lime, I would have used that instead, with some zest as well)

Mix all together in a small bowl (I just used a spoon and mashed it all together). Peel back husks gently, use a little of your butter mixture on each ear, and close back up. Soak in cold water for about 10-15 minutes. Drain, and add a little more butter. Grill on medium for about 20 minutes. Use remaining butter before eating if desired.



good things these days

- No school & sleeping in!

- Fresh strawberries on my cereal this morning.

- Looking for houses with Doug.*

- Sunny mornings, even if it rains later in the day.

- Finished Deb's shower gift (& can't wait to share a pic after I give it to her!).

- Beautiful flowers from Doug yesterday out of the blue.

- Design*Sponge - I am obsessed with this blog. I mean, look at this picture. Doesn't it just make you smile?
Image from Design*Sponge.

- Zooey's sleeping positions. She's so weird.

- 11 days until WNY!

- 20 days until Jamaica!

- 44 days until Africa!

*Okay, family in western New York, I know. I KNOW. I'm sorry. That's the bad thing about looking for houses with Doug - we aren't looking in WNY (that, and short sales, which are the bane of my existence). Believe me when I say it breaks my heart. Someday we'll come home to you.

What are some good things in your life lately?


an offense equated with terrorism, clearly.

I forgot how patriotic everyone gets whenever there's an international sporting event.

I made the mistake of posting this Facebook status regarding my preference for England over the US in the World Cup:

Rachel Parton sorry, america, but i'm cheering for the mother country.

And suddenly, America struck back.

: Nooooo!

: traitor...

: lame

: Both you and your husband should be deported.

: Benedict Arnold!

: i'm so disappointed in you

: reading you and doug's wall makes me not want to watch the game with you

It's funny how people who never comment on anything I ever put on Facebook suddenly feel the need to weigh in on my opinions! I never knew there were so many passionate soccer fans in the States...

best co-sponsor ever

After some drama surrounding swimwear for our end-of-the-year class party, the following text messages were exchanged.

Me: So, what are you wearing to the party?!
Marisa: I was thinking of wearing my two piece under my clothes. I have a really low cut shirt on that shows my cleavage and the best booty shorts u have ever seen!

I love her.



I know what you're thinking:

Is she really going to do a blog post saying that she's done with her "stressful school year" when she knows that those of us with real jobs are still slaving away all summer??



life lately

Classes are DONE! Just 4 half-days of exams and then I will be done with my 2nd year at PCA!

My 6th period class wanted to have a party, so I made a berry pie (but forgot to take a picture after I baked it).

This time I made Doug a personal pie so he wouldn't feel left out!

Last night, Doug & I had an amazing summer dinner: cheeseburgers, corn on the cob, bbq chips, edamame, and chilled cherries, complete with homemade chocolate milkshakes for dessert. YUM! I could seriously eat hot dogs or hamburgs and corn on the cob every single day in summer.

We tried to eat outside, but got rained out...

Then Zooey was being hilarious, as usual. We call this "nesting".

Last week was our small group party - we decorated cupcakes. I made a cute frog.

Two of my girls made babies for me & Doug. Caption says: "We made these babies for you, we hope they behave, if not, you can eat them."

I took pics at graduation last week too.

Oh, and I spoke at Imprint Friday night and sang in church yesterday.

Sooo, yep. That's pretty much what's new with me.


wishes i'm wishing...

I wish that all of us Bannister girls could get together at least once a month for lunch or dinner or ice cream or craft nights or cooking nights...

Sometimes I wish that our whole, crazy Bannister family lived within 10 minutes of one another...


real life conversations, pt.7

After stumbling out of bed this morning and haphazardly throwing my hair into a pony tail, I walked into the office to say good morning to Doug.

Me, still groggy: "Good morning."
Doug: "Hi cutie! Your hair is cute!"
Me: "For real??"
Doug, laughing: "No."
Me: "I'm totally writing that on my blog."
Doug: "No! It'll make me look bad."
Me: "That's what you get for making fun of my morning hair."


horse feathers!

Played most frequently on my iPod recently:

- "Curs in the Weeds" . Horse Feathers
- "The Man Who Isn't There" . Oren Lavie
- "Imma Be" . Black Eyed Peas
- "... And as the Ship Went Down, You'd Never Looked Finer" . Woodpigeon
- "Somebody to Love" . Glee Cast
- "Skydiving" . Rachele Eve
- "I Already Know" . Mandi Mapes
- "The Mess We're In" . PJ Harvey
- "Hourglass" . Brandon Schott
- "Autumn Sweater" . Yo La Tengo
- "You Belong with Me" . Taylor Swift
- "Coffee Girl" . The Tragically Hip
- "I Can Transform Ya" . Chris Brown (feat. Lil Wayne & Swizz Beatz)

What a weird combination.

Anyway, here's my newest obsession. Enjoy.


things that are awesome

1. Weekend at home - so fun. Hilarious conversations, shopping with the girls, steak dinner for Mom & Dad's 28th anniversary, changing cow pastures, laying in the sun, pre-Memorial Day picnic at the pond! So blessed to have such an awesome family who loves getting together and just hanging out!

2. Going back home in less than a month!!

3. The end of the school year is almost here! 3 more full days, 4 half days of exams and that's it!

4. Just found a $25 iTunes gift card the other day! Doug is trying to claim that it's his from Christmas... I tried to tell him I have better taste in music.

5. Mocha milkshake that I just made for an after-school snack. (So much for getting rid of the winter weight...)

6. Small group "Feast Party" & cupcake decorating tonight!

7. This picture of Zooey. SO WEIRD.

8. The movie Fantastic Mr. Fox. I think we watched it like 2 months ago or so, but I just randomly remembered how much I loved it. I think Roald Dahl would be pleased with their interpretation.

9. How calm and cuddly Zooey is when she's tired.

10. Junior research papers were due on Thursday - I'm already half done!

New header:
June 2010: the pox of such antic, lisping, affecting fantasticoes!
-Romeo & Juliet (Mercutio's line, of course)