Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Idol Wrap-Up

Since we are down to the top 10, I will give my two cents on all of them and I will keep it short and sweet.

In order of appearance:
Siobhan – Yikes. I thought everything about her was a train-wreck last night.

Casey – He was on fire last night! He just continues to stand out as the most “natural” on stage. I loved it.

Big Mike – LOVED everything about this performance. I dug the guitar, loved the song choice and thought he sang it so well.

Didi – I don’t think she did as badly as the judges made her feel she did. I do agree with them; I miss the singer/songwriter Didi. I do think she is a little lost, but I still think she is good.

Tim – PLEASE tell me this kid is going home tonight! He’s cute as a button…but that’s all he has going for him.

Andrew – HE’S BACK! I LOVED his version of Forever. So, so great.

Katie – She just underwhelms me all.the.time.

Lee – My #1!!! He was always neck and neck w/ Alex for my #1 spot, and he owned it last night.

Crystal – Though I prefer her as 'the hippie with the guitar', I really liked her last night.

Aaron – I think he lost some of the intensity he had during rehearsal, but he still sang well. Was it my favorite of the night? Hardly, but I still like him.

Who did I vote for? 6 of the 10, in order of who I liked most: Lee, Casey, Big Mike, Andrew, Crystal, and Didi. I probably should have voted for Aaron too.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chicken Piccata

We had some delicious Chicken Piccata last night, so I thought I'd share the recipe we used from Jamie. [We modified it slightly.] It's such a light, tasty dish. Its not super Weight Watchers friendly, unless you exercise portion control. ;) This is one of those meals best served with a then, I eat more salad and less pasta goodness.

2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white whine
2 tablespoons brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.
2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.
3. Immediately add minced garlic to the pan and mix until fragrant. Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock, wine and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with basil.

Serve on top of angel hair pasta if desired. [We always do. When we plate, we put the pasta down, top it with chicken then pour the sauce on top!]


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Idol Wrap-Up

I have to start this Idol Wrap-Up with the obvious elephant in the room. Miley Cyrus as the musical mentor?? Really?? I mean, I get that she is “current” to tweens, but what about the rest of us who watch?! Not ok, Idol.

On to the actual competition; I actually voted for 6 people last night, including one who is becoming a favorite that hadn’t been before:

Lee Dewyze – A lot of people out in the cyber world have compared him to David Cook and Danny Gokey. The raspy voice and adorable personality among the top reasons. But, I really do think he is good all on his own, without any comparisions needed. I loved his performance last night. I thought it showed some versatility and I actually really like the song choice.

Crystal Bowersox – I knew it was only a matter of time before she tackled a Janice Joplin song. She did well. I liked that she didn’t try to sing it like Janice did, she put her own [or apparently Pink’s] twist on it and I dug it. I also thought she showed more of her personality [which we’ve been missing] by asking Ryan to plop down on her carpet square with her for the interview.

Mike Lynche – Oh how I love me some Big Mike! He is the first legit R&B singer in YEARS. Probably since season 2, honestly. I know some of the judges think he dips too far into the Velveeta, but I think he is great.

Didi Benami – I am sticking by my girl Didi. I agreed that last night’s song was a bit cabaret, but I still love her vocally and I think she sang it well.

Casey James – I just think this guy is by far the best overall musician this season. He just looks at ease on stage. I think no matter how far he goes in this competition, he’ll be fine. I’d buy his album tomorrow.

Aaron Kelley – Here is my newbie. He proves himself more each week. I’m not a big Rascal Flatts fan, so when he was only channeling them, I wasn’t loving him. But he’s become more of his own performer and I like him more. I thought he sounded really good last night considering he has laryngitis.

On a separate note, since I’m still not over Alex going home…Can I just say, Siobhan’s weird Technicolor faux-hawk bouffant thing was just as horrible as Alex’s little “fashion mullet”.

Who should go home tonight? Paige or Tim. If I had to pick one? See ya Tim.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Meet Cooper!

This weekend, we welcomed a new family member into our home. A new kitty! Chloe is wonderful and we love her SO much, but she gets bored and lonely during the day while we are at work, which results in unrolling entire rolls of toilet paper, scattering anything left on the bedside table around the house and, worst of all, pulling her hair out! So, we got her a playmate. She is still not totally sure how she feels about this "intruder" but I think she'll warm up soon.

So -- Here is little Cooper! He a 10 month tabby/Maine Coon mix [probably]. He has medium length hair on his body with the size and coloring of a tabby but the "M" on his forehead and big bushy tail of a Maine Coon. He is tiny - only 6 lbs right now - and the foster Mom didn't think he'd get much bigger then 10 lbs full grown because he was a bit of a runt. His name was Sean for the first 9 1/2 months of his life, but we thought Cooper [or "Coop"] fit him better.

A blurry shot of his sweet little face:

He curls up like Chloe!

He loooves having his belly rubbed.

Look how tiny he is! Ryan calls him "our little ferret" :)

Welcome to the family Sean Cooper Naslund! :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Birthday During Basketball Season

My Mom's 29th and holding [for the 27th time] birthday was March 9th. I totally failed to dedicate a blog post to her that day. Consider me ashamed, Mom. BUT, I thought this was as good a time as any, since I finally got around to pulling the pictures off my camera.

So, my Mom LOVES college basketball. University of Kentucky basketball to be exact. She was raised in Louisville, KY and is a 2x grad of UK [bachelor and masters]. In Kentucky, college basketball rules all. In my house growing up, UK basketball ruled all, much to my father's chagrin, since he went to IU. My Mom carefully molded Frankie & I into Wildcat fans. I will admit, Frankie follows more than I do, but I still love my 'Cats.

Moving, my Mom's birthday is in March. In fact, it falls extremely close to one of her favorite times of year. March Madness. So, this year, since Kentucky has had such an incredible season, I decided it was fitting to theme her birthday around that. We celebrated on March 7th, which was strategically chosen for two reasons; one - there was a UK game on, two - I needed free time on the weekend to help my talented friend Jennye create a Kentucky basketball cake masterpiece.

It was a total surprise to my wonderful Mom and she absolutely loved it.

Here are two shots of the AMAZING cake:

Mom's adorable reaction when she opened her eyes to see the cake

I can hear her saying "You guys, this is so cute!"

She is going to kill be for posting these because she "didn't fix her hair", haha.

So, I know it's a week+ late but - HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU MOM!!!! :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Idol Wrap-Up

I write this entry with a still heavy heart after last weeks eliminations. I lost 3 good soldiers; Alex, Lilly and Katelyn. One of whom I am still particularly bitter about...Alex! I am still in shock he got voted off! He has such an amazing voice...and I know he was like a little turtle afraid to poke his head out of his shell but...COME ON. He was one heck of a singer. Moving on...

Last night I was, well, bored. I am finding it difficult to even remember all the performances.

I'm just going to tell you who I voted for and why, in order to keep this from being super long.

Big Mike: He's just so good. His weird tippy-toe dance kind of drives me crazy, but I can look past that and see how darn hood he is.

Didi: I know she doesn't have that many fans [from reading emails, comments, etc] but I adore her. I think she is fantastic and last night, even though her voice cracked once and she flubbed the words once, I think she sang really, really well.

Casey: Last night he was who I "see" him being as an artist. I loved it. It was a perfect Americana blend of country, rock and blues.

Lee: He is my #1 now that Alex is gone. ::sob:: But he really is so great. Easy on the eyes and ears. I see him going all the way [at least top 3] at the rate he is going now.

So...there's this weeks little wrap-up!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Idol Wrap-Up

Here are my Idol thoughts for this week…

Top 5 Guys:
Alex Lambert – 1st…the mullet is getting worse. Someone really needs to nip this in the bud…or pull a Jackass and take an electric razor to the back on his head. That being said…I’m still a fan. I thought “Trouble” really fit his voice and I still think he’s a great singer.

Andrew Garcia – I think Andrew is starting to lose me. I agreed when Kara said he peaked WAY early. Because of that…I think he will never out-sing “Straight Up”.

Casey James – I loved his song choice…but it didn’t blow me away. He sang it well, but for me, it was nothing special.

Lee Dewyze - I really love this guy. It was an…interesting song choice, but I kind of dug it. Parts were crazy pitchy but over all I appreciated the different spin he put on it. There were moments in the song where I think he really shined. I also heard little bits and pieces of what I thought sounded a bit like Counting Crows. Lucky for Lee, I love Counting Crows.

Michael Lynche – BIG MIKE!!! He is my big winner for this week. He did AMAZING. I had goose bumps through the whole song. He was by far the best of the guys AND girls this week. WOW. I don’t know what more to say.

Top 5 Girls:
Crystal Bowersox – She did well. But, we all knew she would. I still like her a lot but she is starting to feel a bit like Adam Lambert last season. We get it. You are great. You are 10x better at your craft [read: style] than anyone else this year. The judges love you, you are going to do great every week, etc. I guess for me, she needs to have a moment like Adam’s “Mad World” last season to really blow me out of the water. Otherwise, she’ll continue to do great, but it will become predictable for me.

Didi Benami – Way to go Didi! I know a lot of you [my readers] are not huge fans of Didi, but I really thought she did an amazing job this week. Her Fleetwood song choice was brilliant and she really showed off how talented she is. Love this girl.

Katelyn Epperly – Eh. She has a great voice, but this week felt sooooo piano bar. I hope she stays one more week to redeem herself.

Katie Stevens – Yikes. Horrible song choice. She did not sing well this week, however I still think she has huge potential…if she could get a little help with song choice.

Lilly Scott – I have to be honest…I kind of forgot about her until I saw her name just now. I had to go back and watch her song on You Tube. It was good. But obviously forgettable. I still think she deserves to stay in the competition…I guess everyone is just being a bit overshadowed by Big Mike right now!

[Note: For people new to my Idol Wrap-Ups, I don’t always talk about ALL the contestants. Usually just the stand-outs and/or disappointments. And I try to touch on my Top 5’s, which is the direction I went today.]

Monday, March 8, 2010

Locks of Love Challenge

I’m blessed. I have a lot of hair. And it grows pretty fast. I’ve donated my 10 inches once before, back in 2006. My hair was the longest it had ever been and I just decided one day on whim…I’m going to cut it. I did my research and found out how much I’d have to cut to donate it to Locks of Love. Here is a picture of me, right before I donated:

Well, I grew it back out and then after our wedding in 2008, I chopped it off again, only it wasn’t long enough to donate this time. I’ve been wearing it at a medium length ever since. Anyone who has been following my blog for a while knows all about The Gray Debacle of my life. I am going to be 27 this year and I am going gray – fast. I come from a long line of Silver Tops, including my Dad and his Mom, my Gram. I really take after my Gram. I have her feet, her body shape, her height, her chin [thanks A LOT] and…her hair. Gram was 100% Swedish and apparently, upon further research, going “silver” is a Swedish thing. At 18, I started plucking them as they appeared but they were sporadic. By 25 I had a “skunk stripe” around my face. [Think Bonnie Raitt, or Rouge from X-Men, but slightly less dramatic.] I’ve been coloring it ever since.

What was the point to that whole shpeel? I’m rapidly becoming more and more “silver” and I want to donate my locks one last time before I become too gray and have to color so much that they can’t take my hair anymore. It’s pretty short [for me] right now, about 2 inches below my color bones in the front, so it’s going to take me some time. I plan to grow it even longer than the picture above…and then cut it all off for a sweet baby in need!

Anyone want to do it with me?!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Idol Wrap-Up

BACK by "popular demand"! [No lie, I've gotten probably a dozen requests for this.] Let's talk Idol!

I felt hugely optimistic at the start for Season 9. I felt like there was an abundance of talent and I thought I'd have a hard time narrowing it down to my favorite 5 guys and 5 girls. It's been really, really easy.

For anyone who hasn't seen my Idol blogs before [I used to have a whole separate blog for it] I pick my top 5's based on the performances and potential, but I also go to iTunes and listen to clips of their recordings, because I think how they record is important. Then, I pretty much just talk about it.

So - here you go! [In alpha order]

Top 5 Guys:
Alex Lambert - I know. He had a REALLY rocky start, but I really, really love him. He is my Matt Giraud this season. I see SO much potential in him and I think he has an amazing voice. And he records beautifully. I am even willing to over-look his TERRIBLE "fashion mullet" haircut. Will someone please tell this kid there is nothing fashionable about a mullet?

Andrew Garcia - This guy has more talent in his pinky then most people have in their whole bodies. His song choice this week was...unfortunate. But, I still think he is one of the best. He is extremely unique and I get excited to see what he will "do" to a song.

Casey James - I have been rooting for him since day one. And although I am REALLY over them harping on how freaking cute he is [which he is] I still think he is super talented. This week's performance wasn't as strong, vocally, as we've seen him, but he is well rounded. He plays the heck out of the guitar and I really like his presence on the stage.

Lee Dewyze - I have a serious crush on this guy, for several reasons. He is really cute, has a sweet personality and MAN can he sing. I really love his tone. He reminds me a bit of David Cook, but I hope he'll be able to show case what's different too. I do think his style is a bit "taste specific" but, I love it.

Michael Lynche - I've been a "Big Mike" fan since the first moment he was on camera. I know this is a "singing competition" but I do think his contagious personality is important. I loved his song choice this week, because I think that's the musical avenue he does best.

Top 5 Girls:
Crystal Bowersox - I love this girl. I think she is just awesome. I think she has the pipes AND the chops for this business. And, who doesn't love a girl who can play the harp?! [By the way, that's harmonica for anyone who may not know.] I was so worried that her diabetes hospitalization would eliminate her from the competition...but she came through and really nailed it.

Didi Benami - Didi is kind of like Alex for me...I see SO much potential in her. I think she is a beautiful girl and I really like her voice...when she sings the right songs. This week, sadly, her song choice was soooo wrong. I just hope I'm not the only one who sees how great she could be.

Katelyn Epperly - I love her voice. It's so rich and natural. I know it was a really slow song choice last night, but I got lost in it, in a good way. She can get a little pitchy but I think as she works with voice coaches, she will be really great.

Katie Stevens - When she sings, I forget she is barely 17. She has really struggled with song choice, but I think its partly because she is so young and hasn't had much [if any] real experience. Regardless, I think she has so much raw talent and I see her going far in this competition.

Lilly Scott - I think Lilly Scott is a name we should all remember. I didn't love every vocal choice she made in her song last night, but over all, she never disappoints me. She always stays true to the kind of artist she wants to be and I really respect that. I don't think she has the most powerful voice of the girls, but its really different. I'm rooting for her...even if I do think her grayish-purple hair is weird.

So - what do YOU think?!