Girl With a Gun

I’ve lived in Texas my whole life.
Well, except for a six-month stint working for a political news service in Washington, DC after college. I got homesick (Dr Pepper and Bluebell ice cream are necessities, people!) and came home as soon as I could.
But I digress.
As a Texan, I am kind of ashamed to admit that until this past weekend, I had never fired a gun.
The thing is, I don’t really *like* guns. I don’t like the power that they contain. This little metal cylinder that brings death.
And people can have such a cavalier attitude about firearms. They act like it’s no big thing.
Especially here in Texas.
When my friend, Morgan, decided to throw a “shotgun” wedding, I had no idea what I was in for.
No, no. Not *that* kind of “shotgun” wedding.
You see, the wedding was at this beautiful ranch in Central Texas. Guests were asked to arrive at 3:06 (30 ot 6, or .30-06 rifle) and the wedding started at 4:10 (.410 shotgun).
After the ceremony, guests were invited to participate in a round of skeet shooting over the lake.
I’m serious.
Here are the Bridge and Groom getting ready for their round.
Aren’t they a cute couple?
Their house is decorated in animals they’ve hunted.
Which brings us to my shooting experience.
Ricky, another Aggie we met at the wedding, convinced me to try my hand at a 20-gauge shotgun.
It is amazing to me how pulling that little trigger ignites such power.
It’s not something I think I could ever get used to.
Well…maybe I enjoyed myself just a little.
But man, oh man, does my shoulder hurt today.
Happy shooting, and thanks for looking!
Don’t mess with a Girl With a Gun. Yup, that’s me, skeet shooting for the first time ever!

Homemade Marshmallows

My friend, Morgan, is getting married this weekend.
At her wedding, she’s going to have a s’mores bar. And what better addition is there for a s’mores bar than homemade marshmallows?
So, being the super-awesome friend that I am (snort!), I set out to make 150 homemade marshmallows for the event.
I started out using this recipe from Smitten Kitchen — it was difficult, and my marshmallows turned out lumpy and not very pretty. That definitely wouldn’t do.
I was so glad that I stumbled upon Beantown Baker’s attempt at Alton Brown’s recipe for homemade marshmallows. It was easier and these puppies came out perfect on my first try!
Homemade Marshmallows
Source: Beantown Baker from Alton Brown
3 pkgs unflavored gelatin
1 c ice cold water, divided
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1 c light corn syrup
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c powdered sugar
1/4 c cornstarch
Non-stick spray
Place the gelatin in the bowl of a stand mixer and pour 1/2 c water on top of it. Let it set.
Meanwhile, stir together the rest of the water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt in a small saucepan. Cover and place on medium-high heat, cooking for 3 to 4 minutes.
Uncover and cook for 7-8 minutes, until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F.
Remove from heat immediately.
Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly add the cooked sugar mixture to the gelatin. Increase speed to high and beat for 10-12 minutes, until the mixture has turned white and tripled in size.
Beat in the vanilla for the last minute.
While the mixture is beating, prepare your pan by combining the cornstarch and powdered sugar in a small bowl.
Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with non-stick spray and sprinkle the cornstarch/sugar mixture to coat the bottom and sides of the pan.
When the mixture is ready, pour it into the prepared pan, using a spatula coated with non-stick spray to smooth the mixture in the pan.
Allow to set for at least four hours and up to overnight.
Once the marshmallows have set, run a sharp knife along the edges of the pan to release the marshmallow sheet from the sides. Turn the marshmallow onto a cutting board and use a oiled pizza cutter to cut it into 1-inch squares.
These are really light and fluffy and will make you never want to buy store-bought marshmallows again.
Oh, and be sure to wash all of your pans immediately. This stuff is hard to get off if it sets!
Homemade marshmallows are light, fluffy and perfect for s’mores or hot chocolate!

Fun at the Fair!

Earlier this week, I posted about the amazing selection of fried foods we tried last weekend at the State Fair of Texas.
Today, I’d like to talk about animals.
Namely, freaky looking rabbit-like animals like these ones. I have no idea what they are called.
Giraffes, which River really liked.
Goats that became so interested in a cute little blonde girl wearing an Aggie cap…
That they came over and stuck their heads through the fence to get a closer look at her.
Of course, she had to reward him for coming to say hello.
She liked him so much that she poured her entire cup of feed into the shovel to feed him.
He was one happy goat.
River got a good look at the rest of the animals…
There was this little guy, who looked strangely intriguing.
And miniature horses that liked to cuddle with each other.
And, finally, zebras! They were so cute!
While we’re at it, let’s talk about rides.
Crazy, swinging rides that you will never, ever catch me riding.
Heck, I’m even a wuss at Six Flags.
And games…
Super-fun games where cute little girls win fun little prizes.
River really liked the game with the duckies.
She liked the swan ride. Her daddy, however, didn’t like the fact that he had to pedal them around the pond. :)
But I think the carousel ride (the horsies!) was her favorite.
By the end of the day, she was all tuckered out.
And so were we.
Oh, the fun we had at the fair!
River had a blast at the petting zoo and riding the carousel at the State Fair of Texas!

DFW Maternity Photographer

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This weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to take maternity photos of my sister-in-law.
This will be her second baby — a little boy, due in January.
The first go around (with River) she didn’t have photos taken. So, I wanted to be sure to get some this time!
We headed to the Dallas Arboretum to try to get some fallish pictures. It was a fun (but exhausting!) day, and I think we got some good shots.
The whole family — it was hard to get River to smile.
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I love these next few of Alex against the stone wall.
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The purple belly is so fun!
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Isn’t she gorgeous?
This shot reminds me of Notting Hill.
There were lots of sailboats out on the water.
Love her reflection in the water!
River likes to play on Mommy’s belly.
Her personality really shines through here.
Of course, River wanted to play with the blocks…
River and Mommy
Such a wonderful family.
Andy was being silly and put the pumpkin in his shirt. River didn’t quite know what to think…
She loves Mommy’s belly, though.
So does Daddy.
Now everyone has a belly! :)
Thanks for looking!

Maternity photoshoot with my sister-in-law, Alex, and her super-cute family! Can’t wait for baby pumpkin seed to be born!

Fried Goodness from the State Fair of Texas!

I’ve lived in Texas my whole life, so I consider myself a Texan through and through.
So, I’m a bit ashamed to admit that when we went to the State Fair of Texas this past weekend, it was my first time.
You know, to go to the state fair.
Of course, I had to sample some of the deep-fried specialties, as well as the traditional fair food.
First up, was the Chicken Fried Bacon.
This heart-attack-just-waiting-to-happen was The Nerd’s favorite dish.
He’d like his arteries clogged up as quickly as possible.
River’s favorite was the Funnel Cake.
Err…rather, the *powdered sugar* on the Funnel Cake.
When we walked by this stand advertising fried cookie dough, I knew I’d found my new favorite thing.
I mean, look at that! Deep Fried Cookie Dough, topped with chocolate syrup and powdered sugar.
Heaven in a small ball, breaded and deep-fried.
They were *so* good! And tasted remarkably like my Brookie recipe.
Then we tried the Fried Chocolate.
Served with chocolate syrup, powdered sugar and whipped cream.
The Nerd was definitely a fan. They kind of tasted like brownies.
Other things we didn’t try:
Fried Frito Pie
Fried Beer
Fried Margaritas
Fried Peanut Butter, Jelly and Banana Sandwiches
Still, though, my favorite thing was the Sausage on a Stick.
Fried Cookie Dough, Fried Chocolate and Chicken Fried Bacon were just a few of the delicacies we tried during our trip to the State Fair of Texas!

Sophie Jordan and Kiersten White Book Signing

What happens when two of the hottest new YA writers converge on a Dallas bookstore?
DFW book bloggers get silly!
This is me, Melina from Reading Vacation, Michelle from Windowpane Memoirs and Kari from A Good Addiction.
Do you see what we’re reading? Firelight by Sophie Jordan and Paranormalcy by Kiesten White!
These two awesome authors talked a little about their books (and how they came to write them!) and opened the floor up to questions.
You can read my review of Firelight here. I *loved* it!
I haven’t yet had the chance to read Paranormalcy, but I hear great things about it!
This is Sophie Jordan. Isn’t she cute?
I found out later in the night that she’s an Aggie, too! Whoop!
And here’s Kiersten White. She threw candy to the people who asked questions.
One piece of stray candy may have pelted The Nerd straight in his chest.
She was so cute — she gave him his own piece of candy for enduring her bad aim!
Sophie and I commiserated about last week’s Aggie Football game.
Let’s not talk about it right now.
So cute!
Kiersten was really sweet and funny.
And I just love her purple nail polish!
It was such a fun signing.
AND – I bought extra copies of Firelight and Paranormalcy and had them signed so we can do a giveaway on the blog! Woohoo! Be looking for that soon!
Happy Monday!
Lots of fun and nerdy book talk ensued when I got to meet Sophie Jordan and Kiersten White and hang out with a bunch of DFW bloggers!

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a weekly feature hosted by The Story Siren.
It’s a chance for book bloggers to display the books they purchased or received for review each week.
Here’s a look at what I got this week:
Thanks to my special guest host, Kaylee the Beagle.
Also, that is a stuffed bear behind my head. 
Featured Books:

The Jumbee by Pamela Keyes
Release Date: Oct. 14, 2010

**Hardcover copy courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers**

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Release Date: Aug. 31, 2010

Firelight by Sophie Jordan
Release Date: Sept. 7, 2010

What did you get in your mailbox this past week?