Saturday, May 29, 2010

Candy Is Dandy: Sweets & Snacks Expo 2010

After skipping last years All Candy Expo, I was really excited to go back with first time attendee, Mos Steph

This year, the National Confectioners Association changed the name of the All Candy Expo to Sweets & Snacks Expo, all the better to describe the swiftly growing snack industry. The Expo is the largest in the North America and takes place at the McCormick Center in Chicago, Illinois. If a food is a snack then it’s represented, from the beloved Hershey to pork rinds, to energy infused gums to gummies in every shape, to every flavor of chip imaginable!

The Expo is intended for brokers, distributors and buyers and as an owner of a retail store that (sometimes) carries candy and snacks I’m entitled to go. So I do. And I did. And it was delicious.

Here is a shot of Mos Steph in the lobby. This is just before we enter and begin about 6 hours of sampling and snacking.

One of the most exciting things that Mos Steph and I got to do was decorate a cupcake under the guidance of Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, authors of the adorable books Hello Cupcake! and What's New, Cupcake!. Karen and Alan were there to guide attendees in decorating their choice of spaghetti & meatball, lo mien or fruit pie cupcake. I picked lo mien and Mos Steph picked blueberry pie.

For the pie, Mos Steph frosted a cupcake in the color of pie crust. Then she used blue M&M, to make the fruit and more icing for lattice and the pretty fluted pie crust edge.

Of course one could make strawberry, cherry, peach, pecan, rhubarb, lemon or any flavor pie, maybe even apple if you find the right color M&Ms!

The lo mien was a little more complicated and first involved putting a naked cupcake in a Chinese take-out box and covering it with frosting "noodles". Then, Karen instructed me in the ways of making broccoli using a green Frootie Tootsie Roll, cutting it lengthwise half way up, dotting the 2 ends in green icing and then covering them with tiny green non-pareils. The result:

Then I used thinly sliced green licorice twists for scallions, a cherry Frootie to shape tiny little shrimp pieces and a vanilla Frootie to make water chestnuts, my personal favorite. You could also make pieces of chopped pork with the cherry Frootie or sauteed beef strips with a chocolate Tootsie Roll. Chopped circus peanuts work for carrot pieces and halved green Jelly Belly beans for peas!

I intend to buy both of their books, which are full of awesome ideas for cupcakes!

These are the spaghetti & meatball cupcakes. Icing noodles, a Ferrero Roche chocolate meatball, covered in jam sauce and topped with grated white chocolate cheese!

Some of their Circus Peanut Goldfish!

I have no problem saying that Karen and Alan's booth was my favorite of the Expo, I'm only sorry I didn't have a copy of the book already to have them sign!

Here are some Marvel themed gummy finger puppets,a sweet but very messy idea. The folks working the booth seemed busy so I didn't get a chance to talk to them but I might try to get online and order some for the store, I think kids would get a kick out of them! That pinky has a bit of a weird curve to it though!

The Jelly Belly booth is always a hub of activity. This year they are promoting their "cocktail" beans, like new flavors mojito, peach bellini and pomegranate cosmo as well as old standards like pina colada, margarita and strawberry daiquiri. These bartenders were shaking up samples in plastic martini glasses.

Jelly Belly also had this giant Mona Lisa made out of their beans.

The Hershey's booth likes to show you more than their candy so they were dishing up S'Mores, giant cookies and cups of chocolate milk made with their signature syrup.

Here are their display cases, one featuring treats from the far East and the other from South of the border.

Here is the Wonka booth. They are all about their new "Exceptionals" line, a little bit more grown up with dark chocolates and gummies with real fruit juices. I really like their Scrumdillyumptions Bar with toffee and cookie pieces.

Dove Chocolate is a member of the Mars family of products and they brought their own little chocolate fountain with a slew of yummy thing to dip into it.

Mars also stocked up a freezer full of their frozen treats, just in case.

The Promotion in Motion company is responsible for the Sour Jacks brand and to promote their new watermelon flavor they had a watermelon carver on site. His work was impressive and it smelled delicious!

World's Finest Chocolate, makers of those great bars you often buy for fundraising, was catering to the local sports fans with this FIFTY POUND bar of chocolate supporting the Chicago Blackhawks.
Later, Mos Steph and I sorted our goodies and cleaned up any messes that had occurred thanks to the unseasonal heat and weight of the samples as they sat in the car. Here is Steph with her haul. What you can't see is the giant blob of chocolate on her chin from snacking as she sorted!

Here is my haul, all sorted and put into bags for transport. Certainly not as much as previous trips but enough to get me though the summer!

If you'd like to see more pics from the Sweets & Snacks Expo please feel free to visit my Facebook page! If you are reading thins, mostly likely we are already friends!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Conan O'Brien in Kansas City Missouri

A few months ago Superfro and I got tickets to see Conan O'Brien in Kansas City, Missouri. After his very public and very bizarre divorce from NBC Conan decided to take his act on the road for a 32 city "Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour." Since Coco can't, due to his contract settlement with NBC, perform on television until November, he's keeping his staff paid and the public laughing with this mixed act comedy tour. And by mixed I mean a mixture of comedy, music and special guests.

Superfro and I had never been to Kansas City proper (Worlds of Fun doesn't count) we decided to make a weekend out of it. Turns out that Kansas City has a lot to do in it and a lot to see and we could have spent a great deal more time there, eating our way from neighborhood to neighborhood.

And does Kansas City ever love their named neighborhoods! And their fountains! And their BBQ And, as it turns out, their Conan O'Brien!

I'll go straight to the Conan pics, just for all you Google image searchers out there! Enjoy!

Here's the view from our seats, we were about halfway down, not terrible but not great. And, The Midland, where the show was, doesn't have much of a grade until you get closer to the front so anyone with a big head was going to block our view. Thankfully, there was a screen above the stage, for our viewing pleasure. Plus, this new camera of ours has excellent zooming capabilities!

See?!?!? Check out that zoom! This was the image projected onto the screen before the show.

Here we are. Man, that flash is bright! Our seats were directly in front of where the sound board was set up, giving us a great place to stash our coats and also giving us a free license to sit on our folded up seats, giving us a few extra inches of height. I remember employing this same tactic in movie theaters when I was younger! I don't know why Superfro looks like he's going to kidnap me...but I was there willingly!

First, the band came out. They got the crowd all riled up and excited.

LaBamba did the singing in addition to walking up and down the aisles playing his trombone. Pender, the trumpet guy was wandering all over, along with the saxophonist, whose name I cannot remember and I'm too lazy to look up.

Then Conan came out. Amen for that big screen because everyone was standing and clapping and cheering and yelling, it was very difficult to see. Conan looked very smart in his suit and he seemed very energetic.

He did a bunch of jokes about the origin of the tour and about not being on tour, and also about Kansas City itself, including this one, regarding a sculpture garden at the local art museum that features SHUTTLECOCKS.

Conan also got down and dirty playing the guitar. Well, maybe not "dirty"...but he's very adept at playing the six-string and singing songs in which he's replaced certain lyric with other, more funny lyrics.

Oh! Hey Andy Richter! Of course Conan would not go on tour without Andy!

Here Conan and Andy are showing off a giant inflatable bat that they got for the tour. I thought it was pretty righteous but they questioned it's hefty price tag.

Even Triumph the Insult Comic Dog made an appearance, in a recorded statement that was tailored to Kansas City.

Conan has some wardrobe changes, one which found him wearing a replica of the leather suit that Eddie Murphy wore when he recorded his live album, Raw.

Posing for a photo in said outfit...

And Andy, on an inflatable horse.

Here Conan gets ready to lick the face of LaBamba, after be "asked" to by the audience. This was part of a bit that involved Conan wanting to have an intimate conversation with the crowd so he gave us "lines" to read from the screen...

An appearance from the bear formerly known as "The Masturbating Bear"......

...who is now know as the "Self-Pleasuring Panda!"

Conan introduced that night's special guest, Kansas City native and Saturday Night Live cast member, Jason Sudekis. I about peed myself. Jason Sudekis is...the...MOST, the absolute MOST! He's as boss and boss can be.
He got to help pull the lever formerly known as the "Walker Texas Ranger Lever", which, when pulled will play a clip from the T.V Show. The lever is now renamed the "Chuck Norris Handle"

And then there was some more music, with Conan sporting a snazzy jacket with classic car appliques.

Curtain call!

I didn't get any video of the show but there are some clips on that I urge you to check out! Hope you enjoyed the pics!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mobile Masterpieces VI

I've really turned into one of those people that I hate; using a camera phone to document way too many things that mean nothing to anyone but me. And now you, because I'm sharing them with you and you're pretending to enjoy them. It's a beautiful relationship! On with the show!

These fish live in a take at out favorite Chinese restaurant, China King, on 7th Ave in Marion. You should go say "Hello!"

This sign was posted in the bathroom at the Colling Road Hy-Vee, just reminding people about the lesson we were all taught in kindergarten, how to wash your hands. A very astute reader noticed a conflict in what the sign says compared to what the sink offered. According to Hy-Vee shift manager Sean Wedding, the bathroom does indeed offer hot water, it just takes a while to come out. So there!

Here is my own little Girl Scout cookie display that I made! I was selling cookies for 2 nieces on Superfro's side, Kaelyn and Abbey. By far the best selling one at Alter Ego was Caramel Delight! I don't know why I put "Girl Scouts" on the sign, it really should be "Girl Scout"...durh.

Oh heeeeyyyy! It's Dad! All dressed up for Mardi Gras with his crown and some beads. Dad and his wife Lana were in Orange Beach, Alabama and according to the pictures I saw were spectators at not one, but TWO Mardi Gras parades, one during the day and one at night. I have it on good authority that no snowbird boobies were exposed.

Coconut macaroons!!! These tasty gems were made from a mix found at my local Target, something from their exclusive Easter line. Because Easter = coconut! (?) Instead of dipping these in the dark chocolate the mix came with I topped them with some Coconut M&Ms I just happen to have sitting around.

Hey! How did this get in see...I found this purse. I know what you're thinking "Didn't she JUST get a new purse?!?!?" and you're right, I did. But I found this one at T.J.Maxx and it was REALLLLLY cheap. Like, less than $20.00! Less than $18.00 even and that's with tax! It's a LeSportsac too, my favorite brand! And it's in a size and print I don't, I bought another purse when I had not even had time to break in my other new one. IT'S AN ILLNESS, PEOPLE!

Paxton and I had to work all day on St. Patrick's Day. I was wearing the "Erin Go Bragh" pin that my Mom gave me when I was like, 10 years old but Paxton wasn't wearing any green. I didn't want her to get pinched so I made her this little leprechaun outfit. It has a matching hat but she refused to wear it. Killjoy.

Our local movie rental place, Family Video, has racks and racks of kids movies that are free to rent. Including "The Legend of Sasquatch" that features a FURRY cover. Sadly, you only get to rent the DVD, not the case.

Donuts are a special occasion treat for me and Superfro. On this occasion we were celebrating a Monday with creme-filled long johns, a cherry and a chocolate peanut donut. Happy Monday!

Sometimes Paxton and I look for new and interesting poses so we can send pictures to Superfro. On this day Paxton was posing on the marble table with three of her friends; Lopsided Head Bear, Ugly Deer and Valentine Dog.

Other times I just make Paxton pose with signs on things she's thinking but can't say.

Maybe it doesn't look like it from this vantage point but that bird was frickin HUGE! It waddled across the street like a duck! Oh, and all that snow is gone now.

That's it for today. Next time I'll have MORE Paxton pics, plus pictures of the outdoors, Denver and maybe even a picture of Superfro!