Monday, February 24, 2014

Mel's Baby Shower (and Planning a Party for Someone Who Can Hardly Eat Anything)

Confession: In the past, I always thought of people with food allergies as being kind of high-maintenance-types, akin to picky eaters.  (Yes, I recognize that this was terribly judgmental of me.)  Then my beloved sister developed intolerances to dairy, gluten, soy, peanuts, sunflower seeds, most tree nuts, and shellfish.  Most of the time, I'm able to alter recipes so that I don't poison her, but this became even more challenging when I wanted to throw her a baby shower.  Given her allergies plus the added food restrictions of pregnancy (no deli meats, sushi, alcohol, raw sprouts, etc.) and I stepped into a veritable culinary minefield.

After an undue amount of recipe searching and deliberation, my mom, sisters and I pieced together this menu that is friendly to the majority of food allergies.

Cowboy Caviar and tortilla chips
Zeek's Wild Green Salad with Balsamic Dressing - cashews and gorgonzola (aka poisons) on the side
Veggie platter and hummus

Lumpia with sweet chili sauce - this is just an example of a recipe, not the actual recipe.  In fact, there is no recipe.  Mom is just magical like that.
Mom's pancit - Again, I won't even bother with a recipe because NOBODY can make pancit like my mom.

Gluten and Dairy-Free Chocolate Layer Cake - I skipped the coffee and instead made the frosting chocolate, then garnished with toasted coconut, which covered a multitude of frosting sins.  I'm really bad at frosting cakes.

Spa Water
Seahawks Punch in honor of the Superbowl, which immediately followed the baby shower (Yes, there was Hawaiian Punch in it. Don't judge.)

Party Favors
Coconut Macaroons - I substituted all-purpose gluten-free flour for the white flour and vanilla extract for the almond extract.

Lucky for me, the mom-to-be's friend also named Mel handled decorations with the theme of kites and clouds in teal and orange.

I spent way too much time searching for ideas on Pinterest but eventually settled on two games.  One, based loosely off the Newlywed game, I entitled "What Would Nathan Say?"  This is where we learned that Nathan thinks newborns use an average of 3 diapers a day, and yet he still thinks Mel will change most of them.  The next game I entitled "Mel or Nathan," where guests had to guess who played with toilet water at 10 months, who hit his/her baby sister, and who ate a jade plant, requiring a call to poison control (Mel, Mel, and Mel).  Yup, that's my sister!

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Starting Lineup (with yet more crocheted Seahawks hats)

Last week I introduced you to my favorite superfan, Mom, and today I'd like to introduce you to the rest of team Chow and our Seahawks hats.  That's right, we sported a team uniform to watch the Superbowl.  After seeing my mom's hat and the girls' hats, the rest of the family wanted in on the action, too.  So I whipped together a few more beanies so we could watch the game in style.  Chow-style, that is.

Announcing the starting lineup:

Dad: The Psychic Swearing Superfan
In addition to knowing the minutiae of every rule in every sport, Dad possesses the uncanny knack of predicting exactly what is going to happen in each play.  Before the ball is even snapped, he can call an interception, a fumble, or a play-action fake.  This skill is countered only by his inability to hold back expletives in the presence of children.  Final Superbowl tally: accurate predictions 6, swear words 4.  Good thing the Seahawks won, or his stats would've been much, much worse.

For the big game, Dad sported a double crochet beanie based off this pattern.

Mom: The Dancing Superfan
True to form, Mom led the family in a rousing half-time dance party.

See the making of Mom's hat here.

Ata: The Pregnant Superfan

Ata didn't let her bun-in-the-oven status keep her from busting a move during the half-time dance party, nor did it keep her from walking 3 miles and standing 4 hours in 20 degree weather to watch the Seahawks parade three days later.  Now that's one tough cookie.  Pass the woman some chips, please.

Ata & Nathan's baby: The Superfan-to-be
He got his own little hat, too.  Gotta train them up early.

Becky: The Superfan to Rule All Superfans
This girl knows the players, the rules, the stats, and the standings.  She even knows the refs by name.  And let me tell you, she puts the heck in heckle.

Since Becky has enough gear to put a team store to shame, she required something a little different for gameday and sported a  newsboy-style hat in Seahawks blue and green.

Jenny: The Softer-Side Superfan
Her job as a Nike engineer wins her insider knowledge of the players' gear, but her true strength lies in her knowledge of players' lives off the field, especially those traits that endear them to sentimental folk like us.  Because we don't cheer for mean people.  Jenny fills us in on details crucial to our enjoyment of the game, such as who collects teddy bears and who establishes a foundation to rescue sick kitties in developing nations.

Like Becky, she donned a newsboy-style hat to cheer on the Hawks.

Rob & Jeff: The Keep-Em-Laughing Superfans
If these superfans were to have a superpower, it would be their ability to keep my family cheerful in any sporting circumstance.  That's no easy feat considering how the rest of us are all terrible losers.  In fact, Jeff once made us sign a "sportsmanship agreement" before he would play board games with us.

In lieu of a superhero cape, I crocheted like a crazy person to finish Rob's hat during the Superbowl, leading to more than one remark: "Sew, very old one.  Sew like the wind!" (Mega bonus points for recognizing that movie reference)

Poor Jeff didn't get a picture.  Or a hat.  Sorry, babe, you're up next.

Anna: The Sensitive Superfan
The first time I watched a football game with Anna, I kept scaring her with my yelling, so I had to come up with new ways to, how shall we say, express disappointment when the opponents make a good play.  Apparently I didn't tone it down quite enough, when on the day after the 49ers game, Anna looked up with a troubled expression from her smiley-face pancake and asked, "Mama, why didn't you want that guy to be happy?"  Confused, I asked her what she meant.  She explained, "You know, when you said you wanted to wipe that smile off his (Kaepernick's) face?"

Tess: The Fashionista Superfan
Regarding all of our hats: "They would be nicer with a pom pom."

Miri: The Hungry Superfan
Enough said.