25 February 2010

WU Ball at the Vienna Hofburg

We went to the ball in January, but we were waiting to get some pics from our friends since we didn't take many (we were using our babysitter's camera, ours was broken). By the way, Chris typed the first half of the post, and Karen the second, so it might be confusing, but just assume if the commentary is about women's footwear or something, it was probably Karen who wrote it...

The WU Ball at the Vienna Hofburg is at the Vienna Imperial Palace where up to 4000 students, alumni, or faculty get together and party until 5am. Yes, the ball starts around 9pm and ends at 5am. It's a black-tie thing, so men need to wear a tux or at least a suit with bow tie and women need to have a floor length evening gown. We've blogged about part of the Vienna Hofburg previously.

The first thing we were greeted by inside was a mob-packed entry way. We had to wait in a big line to pick up our tickets from the will-call, but. Austrians don't really believe in orderly lines so it was easy to nonchalantly move our way in front of everyone else. Fortunately, when you look like James Bond its easy to be nonchalant.

Here's Karen showing off her Damenspende, a free gift that all women get at the ball. She got some breath mints with a mirror inside and some hair spray. The men got a bar of chocolate!

We met up with some friends from school: Everton and his wife Andrea, and Thomas and Elisabeth (on the right)

Couples were taking turns making poses in front of this bust/statue of the Kaiser (emperor), so we decided to abandon all protocol and act like the awkward and out of place Americans that we are at a fancy European ball in a palace.

The ball inside this section of the palace is arranged into a series of rooms. It's basically a mixture of bars and dance floors with live music in each room.

Karen is enjoying her $5 glass of orange juice that is literally about 4 sips worth of liquid! It may be for students and faculty, but it is still very expensive. There were some tables, which were available for reservation to sit at, and the prices were as high as $1400 for a table with 9 seats. Not including food, drinks, etc.

All Viennese Balls open with the traditional Waltz dance. Dance couples who have signed up in advance can take part in this fancy dance they do. It's pretty impressive.... if you can see it.

As you can see, we couldn't see through the crowds lined up to watch the opening dance, so once again the awkward-tourist-American persona took over. But the Austrians must have been impressed because several people took pictures of us, and two people even handed Karen their camera for her to take pictures for them as well while she was up there.

As we wandered through all the rooms we came here... where this random band dressed like they're right out of the civil war was playing 50s Rock and Roll music. This was definately our favorite place to hang out, it was so funny.

Here we are pretending we know how to waltz. We tried to learn from some videos on youtube, and while we got the basic idea, I think it still needs some work. We must have looked pretty confidant however, because Elizabeth told us we looked good walzing... hmm, maybe she doesn't know how to waltz either...

This fancy schmancy room had big band music, and the weird part was that no one was swing dancing... they were all waltzing!

There was a room sponsored by Loreal where ladies could go get their hair fixed up during the evening by professional hairstylists. My hair was looking a little messy... a combination of running for the bus, dancing, and the snowstorm outside...

Here was the orchestra playing in the main Festival Hall.

Since it felt like we were at a fancier version of a high school prom, we figured we should take some traditional Prom Pose pictures. If only I had a corsage.

And some not so traditional prom poses...

So we saw this girl laying on the stairs, and I mean Laying Down on the stairs, getting her picture taken. It was very strange. So Andrea and I decided it would be funny to pose on the stairs too. Chris says, if having a red carpet on the stairs encourages women to crawl around like a tiger, then we need red carpet in our house. Nice.

Everton talking excitedly on the phone about chicken sales (he sells chicken... turkey too!) I (Chris) keep asking him to get a deal, but he says to get a deal I have to buy the chicken in tons - guess we need a bigger freezer...

Who is that handsome man? I just had to take his photo and ask for a dance... or two...

Chris was fan of the wood floors. A comment on my footwear - I had planned on wearing cute heels, but it was very cold and snowy that week. I kept debating about it, but in the end, the snowstorm outside and the fact that we had to walk to the palace from the U-bahn helped me choose the boots, very classy. On the plus side, I was the only woman there who was not complaining that my feet hurt by 11:00.

And now for the traditional ball food - hot dogs with a roll. I saw people eating this with their hands and I thought, "At a ball? You have got to be kidding me!" But this is a very traditional Viennese ball food, was easy to eat without getting messy, and tasted really good.

A very handsome couple.

And there we are again...

One more time! Here we are leaving the ball at 1:30 am. We didn't make it until 5 am on account of the fact that we were leaving to go skiing at 6am the next morning. But! I could have stayed all night without being sick of it, the ball was so much fun.

24 February 2010

Man Catching Beignets

We took Elora to see the movie, "The Princess and the Frog". It takes place in New Orleans and the main character cooks something called beignets. They looked good, so we set to work trying to figure out what they were so we could cook some too! We looked up a couple recipes, and modified and combined some based on what looked good and what ingredients we had available... Our recipe is at the bottom of the post.

After the dough rose, Elora helped roll it out.

Ollie thought it looked fun, so he came and helped pat out the dough. You can see that Elora was taking her work very seriously, while Ollie just thought it was a great game.

Next we cut the dough. Oliver kept trying to eat the dough. Notice the rectangles closest to him don't look very nice anymore...

Then into the fryer! Who doesn't love fried dough? Apparently these are a specialty in New Orleans. They were originally from France, but were modified into a New Orleans version that uses yeast. It is so cool because when you put them in the oil, they poof up to three times their original size.

Hot sweet fattening goodness! They are like doughnuts, only WAY better!

The recipe made TONS... so after eating all we could stand, and giving some to the neighbors, we fried the rest only halfway and stuck them in the freezer to finish frying another day.

I definately caught a good looking man with my Man Catching Beignets. I don't know if ours taste like the ones from New Orleans, but we thought they were amazing and will make this recipe a new favorite!

Vanilla Pastry Cream - Do this first!
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Heat milk and butter in a pan until simmering. Mix sugar, eggs, and flour in a bowl. Pour hot milk over sugar mixture, whisking constantly. Pour egg mixture back in pan, heat over medium low heat or in a double boiler until thickened. Then add vanilla. Cool in fridge with plastic wrap touching top of cream.
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup milk
2 cups pastry cream (above recipe)
7 cups bread flour (or 8 cups all purpose flour)
1/4 cup butter

Mix water, sugar, yeast. Let sit five minutes. Add eggs, salt, milk, pastry cream, and two cups flour; mix thoroughly. Add butter and mix thoroughly. Add flour one cup at a time, until you can't stir anymore. Knead in remaining flour until you have a soft smooth dough. Let rise 2 hours. Roll out dough 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 3x2" rectangles. Fry in hot oil (about 350 degrees), flipping constantly until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel. Toss in bag full of powdered sugar (and cinnamon if you want!) Best hot! Microwave leftovers for 15 seconds before eating.

21 February 2010

Bubbles in the Kitchen - an oldie but a goodie

These pictures were taken a few weeks back, but we've been busy and hadn't put them up yet.

What do you do in the winter when the kids are sick of being inside, but it's too cold to go out? It's bubbles in the kitchen time!

Elora tries to eat and lick the bubbles while Ollie squeals and waves his arms around while jumping. It's very cute and also amazing that he doesn't fall over.

Who knew bubbles could be so dangerous? We're going to keep this photo safe to show Elora when she gets older. Look at that face. A bubble popped in her face, but what's funny is she didn't really notice when it happened. It was just a split second captured on the camera and she continued with the running and shrieking and laughing.

Then we let Oliver and Elora blow bubbles. Elora tried to let Ollie have a turn, but he just wanted to lick them.

So Mommy resumed control of the bubbles and the fun continued!

19 February 2010

Happy Birthday Oliver!

Oliver turned two years old on February 14th. We had a party for him on the 18th. Our friends Christine and Elcid came over early to help us cook up tons of Filippino/Chinese food. Here we are preparing spring rolls (which as it turns out is super easy and super good!)

While we cooked, the kids all played! We filled Elora and Oliver's frog tents with balloons, crammed the kids inside and left 'em to it!

Little Charlotte waited until the big kids left so she could enjoy the balloons on her own. Oliver came over to jabber with her.

Then to keep the kids entertained, we did what any good parent would do, and broke out the crossbow! Right away Oliver sat down and tried to load it. There is something cute about pictures of kids loading weapons...

The kids built lego towers and then took turns shooting at the towers. They did a great job on the towers, none of them would fall over - if I ever build a fort, I'm letting these kids handle the construction!

Food was still being prepped - so we got out some cookie dough and let the kids roll out some cookies. It might look like Ollie is putting one on the tray, I think he is actually trying to take it so he can eat the dough...

Fertig! We had spring rolls, chop suey, and rice noodles. It was all super amazing. Thanks to Christine and Elcid (and now we know how to make it ourselves!)

After the kids finished eating, we let them decorate the cookies with frosting, sprinkles and chocolate chips! Then we had to wrap the cookies for the kids to take home so they wouldn't make themselves sick eating them all before we even had cake and ice cream! Kids from left to right: Elora, Ellie, Zach, Oliver, Benjamin, and Hannah.

Time for cake! Oliver was so happy to see his cake, and especially excited for everyone to sing Happy Birthday to him. He usually spends all day singing on his own, so it was a special treat for him to have a room full of people singing to him!

Oliver blew out his candles all by himself. But he had to blow them out one at a time... Very cute.

Here he is clapping and congratulating himself on a job well done blowing out his candles. I tried out a new chocolate cake recipe for Oliver's cake, and it turned out really well. Super moist and chocolatey. I think we have a new favorite! The only changes I made to the link above, was a used applesauce instead of oil and added almost a cup of cocoa instead of 3/4 cup. Yum yum.

Om and Sarita were very nice and brought Elora a present so she wouldn't feel left out. What good friends! Elora loves her new Snow White coloring book (auf Deutsch!)

Ollie has finally figured out that it is exciting to open presents. With every tear of the paper he would say, "ooooohhhh." This is a nice bucket of wood blocks from Om and Sarita that he liked.

He got some candy from the Mitchell's and also from Ben, and it was very difficult to convince him to keep opening presents after that. He kept saying, "want open that." We finally convinced him to open his present from us - here he is saying, "oooooo... ball!" After opening all the presents, Oliver was very sweet and shared all his candy with everyone.

Oliver saying, "twooooooooo!" He says "two" every time he sees this picture!

After the party, Om, Sarita, Christine, and Elcid hung around to go sledding at the park. Here is Sarita taking Ollie down the hill. Sarita said she has only been on a tiny sledding hill, so our big sled hill was pretty fast compared to her previous sledding!

Om has wanted to learn to ski for awhile, so we took Karen's skis to the park to let him try it out. It took Chris and Elcid holding Om up for him to get in the skis... Funny stuff.

Look at that great snow plow! He fell the first few runs, but then started to get the hang of it. We'll have to take him to some real mountains now! The downside of skiing at the park is that you have to pop off your skis and walk back up the hill every time... as he walked up the hill the third time Om said, "I feel like an elephant, this is so hard!" It's great to know people from Nepal, because you just can't imagine anyone else seriously saying they feel like an elephant!

Elora wanted to bring her skis instead of sledding. That's our girl!

Elora is really excited to be carried all the way up the hill into the trees so she can ski out of the trees. She is so proud of herself because she can ski all the way down the hill, turn, and stop now.

We came home and enjoyed watching some of the Olympics on the computer before calling it a night. By then Oliver was so tired he actually asked to go to bed. We had a really fun time celebrating Oliver's birthday! Elora is already making plans for her party next month....