Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A few of you asked about the French foreign exchange student disaster, so I figured I'd write about that. Hopefully I'll be able to do the next recap tomorrow night. I never seem to have time anymore thanks to my new 2nd job, season 1 of Dexter on dvd, and taking naps when I can. ha.

When I was in 6th grade, I convinced my parents to let me participate in French Back to Back. They wouldn't let me go to France because they said I was too young, but we hosted a French student for 3 weeks. Since I didn't go to France, I was one of the last ones paired up. There were more French boys than girls participating in the program, so I got stuck with a boy. Back then, my friends and I were just starting to get interested in boys. I had my first crush in 6th grade. But I wasn't interested in having a French boy stay at our house. I wanted a girl, because I was convinced we would become best friends.

Well, we got Phillipe. He was probably the worst match possible for our family. He was into sports (soccer) while my family is all about studying. He refused to even try to talk to us. The French kids knew some English, and we were trying to learn French, but this kid would not even try to talk to me. He was weird. He refused to let my mom wash his clothes, he wouldn't eat the food she made (she once served corn with dinner & apparently that was a huge insult. I don't know, I love corn) and he would stare at my friends in class. Also, since we got stuck with a boy instead of a girl, we tried to get him and my brother to be friends, but they didn't get along at all. If I remember correctly, I think Phillipe hit my brother or something. I think my brother hated me for years for that!

One weekend, my family got to host one of the French girls, Sandrine, because her host family was going out of town and couldn't take her with them. We got along great! I only wish we had been paired together (we probably would have, if my parents had let me go to France!)

I think my family tried to keep in touch with Phillipe's family for about a year or so, but that was it. However, we do still keep in touch with some of the other families here that hosted French kids. It's funny that we still remember that, even though it was so long ago. I kinda even remember the French song we had to learn for the show we put on for the French kids. It was about a suitcase (valise) and listed all the things inside of it.

Oh, but one cool thing... Philippe brought us a bunch of French souvenirs when he came. One of the things he gave me was a bright colored sticker from the Eiffel Tower. Even though my French Back to Back experience wasn't what I hoped for, I was still hooked on France. I was so excited to learn French in high school and always dreamed of the day I would finally get to go to France. Well, I finally did--exactly 10 years later, in 1999. And, I got myself a colorful sticker from the Eiffel Tower, that is similar to the one Phillipe gave me.

Back to the Sleepover Friends... I bought a bunch more books on ebay. I am close to completing my collection!

#8 Lauren's Treasure
#14 Lauren Takes Charge
#17 Patti Gets Even
#18 Stephanie and the Magician
#26 The New Kate
#27 Where's Patti?
#33 Lauren's Double Disaster

Sunday, October 19, 2008

#11 Stephanie's Family Secret

It's Friday afternoon and school is almost over. Mrs. Mead, the girls' teacher, is taking down names of students who want to participate in the school's 5th grade talent show. Karla, who the girls think is the dullest girl in class, says she'd like to do a ballet routine. Lauren, who is busy hiding the magazine she is reading, wonders if Karla will wear a brown ballet outfit. Jenny Carlin, the girls' enemy, says she will play a clarinet solo. A few other people raise their hands. Then, Stephanie says she, Kate, Lauren and Patti will do something in the talent show! Lauren, Kate and Patti are not thrilled about this, but she talks them into it. After class, Stephanie comes up with an idea--they'll lip synch to a record, do a few dance steps and call themselves The Four Aces.

The sleepover that night is at Kate's house. Kate's dad takes them for Mexican take-out from a new restaurant, Pancho's Villa. Stephanie shows up late because she decides to have dinner with her parents since they've been acting weird. When she finally gets there, the girls try to guess what could be going on. Patti thinks Stephanie might be moving. Kate thinks Stephanie might be getting a present, like the time Stephanie's parents surprised her with a VCR. Stephanie recalls a movie they saw recently, where a guy loses his job and assumes that her father must have lost his job at the law firm. She said her dad mentioned a big meeting with his boss and figures that it was bad news. In the movie, the guy didn't want to upset his family so he'd get ready for work in the morning, hang out at the library all day and then come home at the regular time, so they'd think he was at work. Stephanie decides that they should all follow her dad on their bikes on Monday morning, and see where he goes. Kate is mad that they'll be late for school, but they all agree to do it.

Once all that is taken care of, they stuff themselves with Mexican food and then practice their routine for the talent show. They choose the song "I Wanna Be Your Girl" by the Polka Dots. Later on, they head downstairs for food. Lauren takes a bite of some mashed potatoes when Kate's little sister Melissa catches her. Turns out the mashed potatoes were really Melissa's map of the United States for a class project, and Lauren ate several states!

The girls listen to some dedications on the radio and they think their enemy Jenny Carlin might have called in one to Steven G. "from a secret admirer." They decide to call Jenny and pretend to be Steven's little sister to see if it was in fact Jenny. They make Lauren call, and Stephanie says she'll let Lauren wear her black jacket. Lauren bursts out laughing though, and Jenny figures out it's them. She vows to get even.

Monday morning, the girls go to Stephanie's house and wait for Mr. Green to leave the house. When he pulls out of the drieway, the girls follow behind him on their bikes. Unfortunately for them, they have to ride right past their school and Jenny sees them as they ride by. They continue to follow Stephanie's dad but since he's going pretty fast, only Patti and Lauren are able to keep up. They follow him all the way to a bank. Lauren goes inside but can't see the writing on the door where Mr. Green went. The other girls show up and Stephanie decides they have to go back in and try to find out what is going on. She asks a bank employee about opening up an account for a club at school. Kate asks about Mr. Stufano, whose office Mr. Green went into. Turns out, Mr. Stufano is a loan officer. The girls rush out of the bank. Stephanie is convinced her dad needs a loan because he's been unemployed for weeks already. The girls try to think of ways to earn money, such as a yard sale and entering contests in magazines.

I have to admit something here. When I reread this book a couple months ago, I decided to enter some contests as well! I could use the extra money and it sounded like a good idea. Most of the contests don't offer cash prizes, but there's some pretty cool stuff you can win. And the best part is that you can just enter contests online--no need to waste a stamp! I entered a ton of contests. Unfortunately I didn't win anything, but I'm going to continue looking for cool contests to enter. All thanks to the Sleepover Friends. ;) ha.

Anyway, the girls head to school and they are very late. They have to check in with the principal and their punishment is spending lunch in the principal's office. They also have to write a one page paper on why it's bad to be late for school.

The next day after school, Kate and Stephanie spend the afternoon getting stuff together for the yard sale while Lauren and Patti go through Lauren's mom's magazines to find contests to enter. They collect about 50 different contest entry forms, and Lauren says she will fill them out and mail them. The next afternoon, the girls go to Stephanie's house to see what she has decided to sell. Lauren is shocked to see what Stephanie is going to sell:

I couldn't believe what Stephanie had decided to sell! Her newest red sweatshirt with the big black squares; her red-and-white striped turtleneck sweater from a boutique in the city...and the black leather jacket, the one I was supposed to be wearing for calling Jenny Carlin on the phone!

She is also selling her black western belt, her beaded moccasins and her red leather pocketbook. Lauren offers to buy the jacket for $20 so "it'll stay in the family." Patti buys the belt and Kate buys a sweatshirt. The girls take the rest of the clothes and stuff to Kate's house, where they will be having the yard sale on Saturday. The girls are contributing some of their own stuff to sell. Then they make some posters. They stick star and rainbow stickers on the posters to brighten them up. Cute. Obviously they aren't too worried about money though, since they then go to Charlie's Soda Fountain for some double-dip pistachio cones, to Sweet Stuff for some chocolate-covered almonds and to the Pizza Palace for a slice of pepperoni pizza. At the Pizza Palace they run into some guys from their class and tell them about the yard sale. The guys ask if they can come over with their own stuff to sell, and the girls say yes.

At their Friday night sleepover, the girls go through their stuff and price it. They eat taco chips and bean dip, and a strawberry ice-cream chocolate-cookie pie. Yum! What are taco chips, though? They eat them a lot and I don't think I've ever had taco flavored chips. They sound good.

The yard sale is a huge success. However, when Lauren's and Kate's moms check out what the girls have for sale, they see all of the brand-new clothes Stephanie is trying to get rid of, and they call Stephanie's mom. Her mom comes right over and asks Stephanie why she is selling all of her new clothes. Stephanie's mom is very mad, and Stephanie ends up telling her that she knows her dad was borrowing money.

Turns out, Mr. Green didn't lose his job. The big news is--Mrs. Green is pregnant! The loan is to build an addition on the house.

The girls end up making $102.38 at the yard sale. Since Stephanie's family doesn't need the money after all, they decide to donate it to the Riverhurst Children's Hospital.

The 5th grade talent show is on Friday.

We were wearing denim minis, tights, crop-tops, and lots of bangles, and we'd pulled the top of our hair over in side ponytails, just like the Polka Dots.

Karla does, in fact, wear a brown leotard and tutu.

When it's Jenny's turn to perform, nothing happens. She tries to play her clarinet, but nothing comes out. She finally manages to squeak out a few notes, but it's pretty awful. Turns out, someone put a scarf from Henry and Larry's magic act, inside the clarinet. She assumes the Sleepover Friends did it. So when it's time for the Sleepover Friends to perform, Jenny switches the tape and instead of "I Wanna Be Your Girl," the tape plays Karla's ballet music!

Stephanie says to just do the dance steps they had practiced: spreading their arms out wide, hopping forward on one foot, hopping back and doing the moonwalk. Awesome. ha. The audience thinks they did it on purpose as a joke. Finally Larry and Henry stop the tape and they take their bows. Thanks to Jenny, they are the stars of Amateur Night.

That night, the sleepover is at Stephanie's house. Her parents take them all to Mimi's, an Italian restaurant. Lauren makes a pig of herself--stuffed clams, salad, pizza with everything except anchovies, and a butterscotch sundae.

The next morning, the girls are awakened by a strange noise. They go outside and find out that the Greens won a prize from a contest Lauren entered. Their prize is a DONKEY! Turns out Lauren filled out a form for Friends of the Burro, and now the Greens have adopted a donkey. If they give him back, the truck driver says the donkey will be killed. That is so sad! Mr. Green throws up his hands and says they'll keep him until they find a better place for him. The girls decide to name him Sleepover.

Next up (and I promise to not be such a slacker!) - #12 Kate's Sleepover Disaster. It's time for the Riverhurst students to go visit their new friends in Walden. It's my other favorite book. For some reason, I just love the idea of doing exchanges. Probably why I convinced my parents to let me do French Back to Back in 6th grade. Unfortunately they didn't let me go to France (they said I was too young) but we hosted a French boy for 3 weeks. It was definitely a disaster!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Kate's Chocolate Marshmallow Super-fudge

I haven't tried making this yet, because it seems a little complicated. I want to make it eventually though, because it sounds so good! In the Super Sleepover Guide there is another recipe by Kate called Four Star Brownies, and that sounds much easier to make. Basically, the directions are: Buy a box of brownie mix. Follow the instructions on the box. Throw in some nuts or candy. That is it! Sounds much easier to me! Of course, this fudge can't be that hard to make if a fictional 5th grader can make it. ha. Anyway, if any of you are up for a challenge & decide to make Kate's fudge, let me know!

Kate's Chocolate Marshmallow Super-fudge

2 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 can evaporated milk (5 oz.)
1 jar marshmallow cream (7 1/2 oz.)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 package of semisweet chocolate pieces (12 oz.)

Put the sugar, butter or margarine, evaporated milk, marshmallow cream, and salt together in a large saucepan. Stir over low heat until blended. Turn heat up to medium, so that the mixture boils slowly. Stir constantly for about five minutes - the mixture will get thicker. To make sure that it is done, drop a tiny amount in a cup of cool water. It will hold together in a loose ball if it is done, and separate if it isn't. (Don't forget to keep stirring while you are experimenting!) Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate and vanilla. Keep stirring until chocolate is melted. Pour quickly into a buttered 9-by-9 inch pan. Smooth to the sides of the pan. Rest your stirring arm and let the fudge cool.

I am still anxiously waiting for the Sleepover Friends books I won on ebay to get here. I hate media mail! Up next is #11 Stephanie's Family Secret.