Monday, April 28, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake

The Birthday Cake is a traditional part of birthday parties.  It has been an integral part of the birthday tradition in Western cultures since the middle of the 19th century.  The Greeks were some of the first to celebrate birthdays with cakes, however these were the birthdays for gods and goddesses.  The celebration for the Greek moon god, Artemis included a cake topped with lit candles

The cake or sometimes a pastry or dessert, is served to a person on his or her birthday, and is often decorated with small novelty candles.  The phrase "Happy Birthday started to occur on birthday cakes when the song "Happy Birthday To You" was popularized in the early 1900's.

With that said, here is a sampling of past Packer family birthday cakes, at least those in 2008, many made by Sharon.  She is very talented, if I say so myself.

Apologies to those whose cakes aren't shown

THE PRINCESS CAKE--What can I say?  Princesses get Princess cakes.

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RAND'S 5th Birthday--pretty amazing.  It almost fell apart on the trip to Sartoga Springs

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REBECCA--A Packer family favorite--White cake, cream cheese and raspberries  We had a family  birthday dinner for Rebecca and Spencer.  Rebecca objects to the fact that she has to share her birthday with someone else.  In her mind, March 2nd should be a national holiday.

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SPENCER--Grandma Packer used to make cream cheese pies for family get-togethers.  She would always make an additional one for Spencer and give it to him on the sly for him to eat at home.  Bryan isn't very happy that this happened, and doesn't let us forget about it.  He also got a Costco cake.

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CALEB'S 2nd birthday--Really cool Elmo cake.  Those 'sticks' of butter in the background are cake too.  Caleb really loves butter.


THE RESTAURANT BIRTHDAY TREAT--Who doesn't enjoy going to your favorite restaurant on your birthday and being serenaded by 5 or 6 strangers who can't sing?  At least you get a free dessert.  At the Red Robin, you used to get the big dessert free, but now they give you a sundae.  We had to pay for Nate's "Mile High Mud Pie".  Caden and I ate the chocolate sundae.  It was delicious.

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AMBER--April 28th--Birthday cupcakes are always a hit, especially with the kids.









THE MOTHER OF ALL CAKES--When I was growing up, my mother always made us a "Mother's Chocolate Cake" for our birthdays.  The frosting is the key to this cake.  When done right, it is smooth and chocolaty and totally good.  When not done right it has a grainy texture.  Mom always got the frosting right on.  Sharon hit a home run with the frosting.  It was perfect!!



Sunday, April 13, 2008

Boogity, boogity, boogity...let's go racin' boys!!!!


If I had a 'bucket list' which I don't, going to a NASCAR race would probably be one of the things on that list, so I can now cross it off the list that I don't have.

Blair (older brother) was bitten by the NASCAR bug several years ago and has attended races in Las Vegas, Phoenix and at Lowe's Motor Speedway (somewhere in North Carolina I think).  Last summer he extended an invitation to go to the Subway Fresh Fit 500 held this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, AZ.  PIR

The 500 part is a misnomer.  You would think that in the good ole US of A where rednecks rule that it would be a 500 mile race.  NOT!!  It was a 500 kilometer race!! What's with that???  Anyway, the 312 mile race was appreciated because that is a lot shorter than 500 miles, and yes, I figured that out all by myself.

The adventure started on Friday, when I flew to Phoenix and met brothers Barry and Blair, along with nephews Curtis, Chris and his wife Heidi.  We checked in to our hotel in downtown Phoenix near Chase Field and US Airways Center, after which we had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.HRC Phoenix

The weekend featured two races, with the Nationwide Race (NASCAR's minor league) on Friday night and the Sprint Cup race on Saturday night.

We headed for the racetrack out in Avondale, about 15 miles west of downtown Phoenix and in the same  area where Nate went to school.  On the way we stopped off at a vacant lot where there were several trailers and tents with white trash selling NASCAR stuff that is cheaper that you can get at the racetrack.  Chris bought a Jimmie Johnson jacket so he will now have matching jackets with his two boys.

We got to the racetrack and walked down a big area with 40' trailers, all selling memorabilia.  Every driver and sponsor either had their own trailer or shared one with another driver.  Some, like Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had FOUR trailers.  There was even a trailer for his dad, Dale Earnhardt, who has been dead for six years.  It was amazing.  Lots of places to spend lots of money for stuff you'll probably never wear (unless you're Uncle Blair...see photos below).  Don't worry, nothing I say can offend Blair.

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The Nationwide race was 200 miles and ended up in a duel to the finish between Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards.  Both are Sprint Cup drivers who also drive in the Nationwide races.  Kyle pulled off the win.

Carl Edwards                Kyle Busch

For you unfortunate souls who don't follow NASCAR, Kyle is the one on the right.

After a relaxing morning sitting by the pool at the hotel, we headed once again for the racetrack, with a stop at Borders so Barry could buy a book (he ended up with three) and then lunch at Chick Fil A .

We stopped again at the redneck swap meet/flea market and then on to PIR.  The raceway seats around 125,000 people.  At the Nationwide race on Friday night, there might have been 50,000 people there.  On Saturday, it was PACKED.  It was a total zoo, and a people watcher's bonanza.  It's definitely not the type of crowd that you will see at a baseball game, a Jazz game, or even General Conference!!!   All I can say is you have to see it to believe it.

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The race got underway a little bit before 6:00 pm after all kinds of introductions, Air Force jet flyovers, skydivers, an opening prayer and the national anthem. 

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One guy on the row in front of us and to the left didn't remove his hat and really caught a bunch of crap from another guy sitting behind us. Man, talk about white trash.  Driver loyalty is very intense in NASCAR. (And I thought BYU fans were bad)  Dale Earnhardt, Jr is by far the most popular driver in NASCAR.Jr.  He drove the #9 Budweiser car last year and the majority year  and the   majority of the fans would be wearing  red #8 gear.  He changed teams this year  and is now driving the #88 AMP/Mt Dew/National Guard car.  There is hardly   a red   shirt in sight anymore.  All of those people got rid of the red and bought new stuff.  The guy who wouldn't take off his hat was a Jr. fan and was a total jerk all night.  Whenever Jr. was leading the race, he would stand up and clap every time the #88 passed by us.  Problem is, when he was standing up, he totally blocked our view of turn four, so we couldn't see the cars coming around turn four to the front stretch unless we stood up too.  I don't think his momma taught him no manners.  It got worse toward the end of the race when Jr, who had been leading the race for a long time, lost the lead and then ended up back in fourth place.  He was leading, and then just lost it.  This really frustrated the #88 fans.  By the way, Dale Jr. hasn't won a race in his last 65 tries.


This was our view of turn four for the last 1/4 of the race.  Once Dale Jr. lost the lead, this guy wouldn't sit down at all.  I hope he didn't take it out on his wife when he got home.

It was an exciting race, especially at the end.  Mark Martin in the #6 had the lead at the end, but was afraid that he would run out of gas, so with about 9 laps to go he pitted for fuel and Jimmie Johnson in the #48 took the lead.  He was tossing the dice and taking the chance of not pitting with the possibility of running out of fuel himself.  With the other leaders getting gas, he had a 20 second lead on Clint Bowyer and with his crew chief telling him to slow down to conserve fuel, he won the race by 7 seconds, and then ran out of gas on his victory lap and had to be pushed into victory lane.

                              Jimmie Johnson

This made everyone happy, especially Uncle Blair who some would say likes Jimmy Johnson more than he likes Aunt Lynda!!  (just kidding, Lynda)  But then again, he doesn't wear clothes with Aunt Lynda's picture  or number on them does he???

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Anyway, we had a great time.  It's definitely an event to remember.  In closing, all I can say is....boogity, boogity, boogity.

Here's some more pictures.

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                      checkered flag