Friday, May 30, 2008
The other night I was driving home when I heard a strange sound coming from underneath my car. I couldn't identify it, but the sound got louder when I accelerated and dropped off when I braked. I worried it might be a flat tire, so I pulled over to inspect it. I got out of the car and checked the tires. All appeared to be in working order. Then I leaned over and looked under the car. There was a small stick, practically a twig, stuck in the undercarriage and dragging against the ground. Ahhh, the perils of driving a Mini.
My boss came up to me a while back and told me she had a dream about me. She said in her dream I was leaving the office, wearing a summery shorts ensemble and flip flops. I was really, really tan. Then I got on my motorcycle and drove away.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
I promise I haven't forgotten about my baking goal. It's just been slow-going. I wanted to challenge myself with this goal, which means using recipes that I would normally shy away from due to their complexity or ingredients. It's been a little difficult just finding recipes that intrigue me and stretch my limits.
This Cassata Cake was definitely intriguing. It's described as a traditional Sicilian dessert, similar in flavor to a cannoli. Cue The Godfather. I made it a couple of weeks ago for a small gathering of friends. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and I thought the flavors worked nicely together. The only problem I had was getting it safely to the party. As you can see, it toppled over in transit. Fortunately, the tumble didn't affect the taste.
For the cake:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 325. Grease 2 9-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Separate the eggs and set the whites aside. Beat the egg yolks on medium speed until very thick, about 4 minutes. Gradually add the cold water. Slowly add the sugar and beat well for another 3 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Sift the flour mixture over the yolk mixture and mix well.
Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into the yolk mixture. Divide batter between the pans. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and then turn cakes out onto rack and cool completely.
For the filling:
2 lbs. whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Beat the ricotta cheese well and add the confectioners' sugar and cinnamon. Add the vanilla and stir in the chocolate chips. Chill until ready to use.
For the rum syrup:
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 Tbl light rum
Put sugar and water in small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil for 1 minute and then remove from heat. Add the rum. Cool to room temperature.
For the whipped cream:
1 pint heavy cream
1 1/2 Tbl confectioners' sugar
1 Tbl cold water
1 tsp unflavored gelatin
Whip cream with confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form. Dissolve gelatin in water over low heat. Remove from heat, cool slightly. Whip gelatin into cream until stiff peaks form.
Cut each cake layer in half. Place one of the 4 halves on a cake board or plate and sprinkle with a little of the rum syrup. Spread a third of the ricotta filling on top. Place the second cake layer on top and repeat these steps. Top with the final layer of cake. Frost with whipped cream and garnish with additional mini chocolate chips. Chill at least four hours.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I didn't want to return home from North Carolina. The weather was perfect. The scenery was picturesque. The flowers were in full bloom. And I felt like a southern belle while sitting on the veranda of my lovely plantation-style hotel, pictured below.
But of course I had to come home. The honeymoon...er...conference couldn't last forever. I returned to Houston. The weather feels like someone left the front and back doors of Hell open and threw in some molten lava for good measure. The view is polluted. The plants are shriveling in the heat. And I felt like driving in the traffic on Westheimer is asking too much of anyone, as pictured below.
Yes, that really is a picture I took yesterday afternoon on Westheimer at Hillcroft. There were two ladies and two children in the car. They escaped literally moments before the whole car was engulfed in flames.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I'm not making this up. Last night a young missionary named Agook visited with a few people at our house. He's one of the Lost Boys of Sudan and recently joined Aid Sudan as a missionary to his people. He travels back to his country a few times each year. They help to repair water wells, bring food and medical supplies and provide pastoral training and church support. On his last trip he met a girl named Grace. He said by the second time he met her, he knew she was the woman he is supposed to marry. The only problem is that several other men are interested in marrying her as well and therefore her dowry is quite high. Agook needs 50 cows. He is confident that the Lord will provide and hopeful that he may be married as soon as this summer. Pray for Agook's safety and ministry in Sudan. And pray for 50 cows.
Friday, May 16, 2008
We went to a little mom-and-pop joint around the corner from my office. Highlights of the visit included:
A mysterious item on the menu called 'funeral beans.'
A self-serve carafe of water labeled 'Houston Superior Water.'
And our personal favorite shown in the picture below...
There was also a little boy there who was charged with stealing. The judge looked at him sternly and asked him if he understood why it was such a bad thing to steal. She then questioned his father quite loudly about their finances and ended up giving them a court-appointed attorney to represent them at trial.
Then this little teeny elderly couple was called up to approach the bench. All I could think about was this:
Thursday, May 15, 2008
For most of my life this dream was about as likely to come true as it would be likely for me to be the next great basketball star. My hair was lifeless and unruly (is that an oxymoron?). But last summer I went a little wild and got a crazy, edgy, fun new haircut. Men flirted with me. Women complimented me.
And finally, this week, my dream came true. A friend emailed me and told me how much she liked my haircut and asked for my stylist's information. And the best part is this friend has really great hair that I have always admired.
"Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them."
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
This is another story from Sunday night, involving a different guy. Here's how it went:
Guy: "Laurie, are you going to class dinner tonight?"
Me: "No, I don't think so."
Guy: "Why not?"
Me: "Because I don't really like the restaurant we're going to. If people were going somewhere else I'd probably go."
Guy: "You won't even come for the fellowship? Well I'll go with you if you're taking a group to another restaurant."
Me: "I don't want to splinter the group. If you want to go somewhere else with me that's fine, but I don't think it's a good idea to break up the group."
Guy: "I don't think it's a good idea for me to go to dinner with you. That's 'fellowship' with a completely different connotation."
Me: "Are you saying you wouldn't want to go out to dinner with me?"
Guy: "I...uh...I'm not saying...I just..."
Me: "I'm walking away before you dig yourself into an even deeper hole."
I think he just DTR'd me!
And to top it off, the whole conversation took place in front of another guy...so it was a PUBLIC DTR!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
The confusion. NOT ONE PERSON knew where the parade was going to be. Of course we knew that it would start (or end) at Red Square. But nobody knew what street it would go down. It wasn't in any of the papers (or on-line). I'd never seen so much hullabaloo about a parade, and not one person could tell you where it would be. I had seen on the news that it would start at 10am. But that was all I knew.
With that little bit of knowledge, I got up Friday morning (we had the day off for the mystery parade) and walked down to the end of my block to find that the streets had been barricaded off. This was great to see as it meant that they'd be coming down my street! As luck would have it, they did come rumbling down my street. While the tanks and missile launchers were cruising by, we had helicopters, jets, and huge bombers flying overhead. I have to admit that it was pretty cool to see all that hardware close up.
All that said, I think I should write a letter of criticism and send it to the Kremlin. If you're going to have a parade of that size and grandeur you should at least let people know what street it's going to be on! For that matter, you should have a big name celebrity as the Grand Marshal (I'm thinkin' Britney Spears, Drew Carey, or even Hall & Oates). And can't they have the soldiers throwin' beads, commemorative plastic cups, or even 'moon pies'? Makes me long for New Orleans…
~The Moscow Correspondent
Monday, May 12, 2008
Last night I went out for coffee with a guy. Now, this guy is a great guy and happens to be in a position of leadership in a ministry. Which just goes to show that girls can never let their guard down, even when with a guy who has outstanding credentials.
Here's how the evening started:
Guy: "Is your drink ok?"
Me: "I'm not sure. It's scalding hot. I can't drink it. I keep blowing on it, but it hasn't cooled down enough for me to taste it."
Guy: "You should take your top off."
Me: "Excuse me?"
Guy, with look of horror on his face, stammering: "I mean...not your top...uh...the top...the lid...I didn't mean...dammit!"
Me, laughing: "Did you just ask me to take my top off?"
Guy, head in hands: "This is going on the blog tomorrow, isn't it?"
Friday, May 09, 2008
I dialed the number and was waiting for dispatch to pick up...but before I even got through I noticed a police cruiser driving behind me. He soon saw what was going on and turned on his lights, zoomed around me and went after the (apparently) drunk driver.
The car didn't pull over! There I am driving down the road thinking "I'm about to witness a high-speed chase"!
The car just kept driving, with the police officer tailing right behind. I don't know if the driver was trying to get away or just completely oblivious.
Finally, right when we reached downtown, the driver decided to pull over. Unfortunately she exited and stopped in the exact place I needed to go to get to work. So there I am sitting behind the police cruiser, which is sitting behind the drunk driver.
I didn't want to immediately pull around them -- I was worried I might make the police officer nervous. So I waited until he was in conversation with her and making her step out of the car and then I went around them.
The really awful part is that all of this happened at 4:15AM. Seriously, you need to get help if you're plastered at four in the morning on a Thursday.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
WHEREAS, much of the community’s knowledge and opinions about the Houston Independent School District (HISD) rely on responsible reporting by local media representatives who decide which news to share with the community, how much attention will be focused on various issues, and what the tone of the reporting will be; therefore
NOW BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Education of HISD nominates Laurie Johnson of KUHF Radio (et al) for the Texas Association of School Boards’ statewide Media Honor Roll, calling attention to the ongoing responsible and exemplary nature of their reporting on HISD. The Board expresses its appreciation for the balanced and accurate approach to sharing with the Houston community both the challenges facing our schools and the success achieved by our teachers and students.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Why do listeners feel compelled to call or email their "corrections" to us? Do they really think we don't know when we make a mistake? I assure you, when I slip up on the air I am the first one to know and cringe.
I got an email from a listener this morning correcting me on my pronunciation of a particular word. I knew I mispronounced it as soon as it came out of my mouth. I didn't need him to inform me. In fact, I suspect he's mispronounced words on more than one occasion in his life. But no one was broadcasting his mistakes to millions of people.
Sometimes I just want to challenge the complainers to come in and do my job for one day so that I can point out all of their mistakes. It's not easy to be on the air for four hours, reading dozens of announcements, timing all your words to a clock and making it all sound smooth and pleasant -- all without making a single mistake.
Monday, May 05, 2008
So there I am at the corner store, balancing six bottles of water in my arms when I notice the transaction taking place in front of me.
A clean-cut, 30-something guy was checking out. His grand total rang up to $147. His purchase was $135 worth of scratch-off tickets. And Skoal.
Friday, May 02, 2008
The issue is my lifelong tendency to build strong friendships with guys. This isn't really a problem in and of itself, but it does create problems from time to time.
As far back as I can remember, I've had really close guy friends. My very first best friend was Matthew Bailey. We were BFF from the age of about 6 months on up to middle school. There was also Shawn, Chris and the first love of my life, Ben. The list goes on.
I never have been able to figure out this part of my personality. I don't know why guys feel such a connection with me and I don't know why I feel so comfortable being close with them. I'm not exaggerating when I say that men who I barely know will confide in me, seek advice from me and share all their junk. I don't seek out these friendships. They come to me. Then there are other friendships that develop over time and are much more intentional.
Most of the girls I know feel the opposite about guy friendships. They say it makes them uncomfortable to share 'real' stuff with their guy friends. Or sometimes it's just a basic misunderstanding of how to be friends with men and how to respond to their thoughts and concerns.
I've also encountered a lot of girls who disapprove of male/female friendships. I've never understood this. I totally get that those friendships can become confusing or misleading or sometimes even inappropriate. But I don't understand the mentality that it's wrong to be friends with a guy. Unfortunately, I've heard that message from quite a few girls. And I've been made to feel like there's something wrong with me because I have close guy friends.
I think that's probably where my freak-out moments stem from. I'm not worried about whether it's right or wrong. What nags at me is that I'm different. And because of being different, I'm misunderstood and sometimes even judged. And then I start to question if maybe there really is something wrong with me. Commence the over-analysis.
I don't know why I'm sharing all of this on my blog. Chalk it up to lack of sleep.
NB: If you're reading this and you happen to be one of my close guy friends, there's no cause for concern. You don't need to do or change anything. :)
Thursday, May 01, 2008
It says "Tone your body, blow your mind. The ORIGINAL Pole Dance Workout For Women."
Yes, there's a picture.
It's of a woman bent in half and hanging upside down on a pole.
In all fairness to the company, the woman is tastefully dressed in a ballet-style leotard and is not posing in a sexual manner. But STILL!