Archive | November 2011

A Bit O’ Baking

A couple of years ago, I really got into baking cupcakes. I still enjoy it; it’s just more tricky with my supplies drastically limited by last April’s pack-up. These days, I aim for the simpler recipes. I had some over-ripe bananas and some time to fill, so I found this recipe on the Martha Stewart website. Banana cupcakes with honey-cinnamon frosting! The best part about this recipe is that it is something both the hubs & I can enjoy. My dear sweet hubby isn’t a big fan of desserts. He only likes certain sweets, and a lot of times my little frosted happys don’t make the cut. However, Sam, I have recently learned, is a big fan of honey. At the local, large outdoor flea market that happens every weekend, we came across a man with a table full of different types of honey; Sam was very excited. He lets you sample all the ones you like until you find your favorite. We chose the Mountain Wildflower variety, and Sam has been eating it on his waffles ever since. Sam also likes bananas, so I thought this one would be a definite win. If you are wondering what I like, it is sweets, in the most general sense. Here’s what Martha’s cupcakes looked like:

The batter was very easy to mix up. My cakes turned out nicely & plenty moist – make sure to use very ripe bananas. In fact, sometimes I freeze my bananas when they get too close to bad to use later for baking. After following the instructions, my frosting was nowhere near white and too liquid-y still, more of a glaze. I have a couple of theories: 1. lighter colored honey – our honey variety is rather dark, almost like a honey mixed with molasses color; 2. she had a better machine with which to whip hers fluffy. My lovely KitchenAid also fell pray to the overseas move pack-up, so all I have is a hand mixer. One other complaint is that I don’t like when frostings get too gritty from the amount of powered sugar. Enter improvisation, I added milk to smooth it out, brown sugar to stiffen it up, more cinnamon because I like it, and I had already added more honey than called for because I knew hubs would like it. Got it to a spreadable consistency and smeared it on. It definitely came out more like a cream-cheese frosting texture than a fluffy buttercream, but it’s delicious so who cares. Hubs didn’t! He gave them a whopping two thumbs up and has actually eaten more than just one or two. The recipe yielded me 16 cakes, and I ate one hot. There was just enough frosting for a moderate enough smearing, which is fine because the man also doesn’t like to be over frosted. Geez, he’s picky! Here’s the result:

They aren’t perfect, but they are extremely eatable! I will definitely use this recipe again. Baked anything good lately yourself? With as many holidays floating around, I bet you have! Do tell…


The Cards of Christmas Past

Trying to decide on this year’s Christmas card. Yes, I do them. I usually try to have one with pictures. Since we’ve been married, two have come from WalMart & one I did as a newsletter. The WalMart ones were kind of last minute; it works because everywhere has a WM and you can do 1hr prints. The newsletter was useful for updating everyone on our status. I don’t feel like I need a newsletter this year because unless you are hiding under a rock, you are pretty well updated on us all of the time. Thank you, internet! I like sending ones with pictures because it can show our current locale & our sweet puppy, but if I’m going to do that this year, I think we need to go take some pictures up the mountain or something. What do you think? The other good thing about Christmas cards is that it gives people our most recent address. Here’s the Christmas cards from our first 3 years of marriage. The pics might be blurry because I got them from screenshots; all of my originals are packed away.

Year One: our puppy was still little, & we posed in front of our house in the Rio. I included a note-card sized update.

Year Two: the newsletter made me feel like I was back in yearbook again, but I liked the way it turned out.

Year Three: Beach shots to fit the feel of our Corpus time. This one is super-blurry because WalMart’s website wouldn’t load a full-size version – boo!

Hmm, maybe we should do one that says: Yes, we are still in the U.S.!

Another example of how princesses always win…

Have you seen Sophia Grace Brownlee? I first saw her (8) & cousin Rosie (5) from the following video posted on Facebook, and I was enamored! I love Super Bass, and this sassy little Brit was rocking the rap, vocals, moves, & a fully pink outfit. Just check her swag out. I love how she ends it all fierce.

With millions of hits, they had to get noticed. Ellen, who is always so quick to spot youtube talents, brought the pair on her show. Turns out Sophia isn’t only talented, but also hilarious, and Rosie is her perfect side-kick. The exchange between them & Ellen is just presh. Then, she heads straight into her edited rap & full-power belted chorus.

The next clip from the show has them meeting their girl Nicki. They go nuts! They even show a shot of one of their dads boohoo-ing in the audience. I love that Nicki tells them to stay in school. Then, Sophia yelling “I’m the second Nicki Minaj” while her wig is covering half her face. Then they tear it up together.

Later, Ellen has the girls be her correspondents on the AMA red carpet. Fav moments: Rosie talking about holding out her cardigan, the Taio Cruz incident, “is that Lil Wayne’s brother,” knickers!, and all the stars’ reactions when they ask them to sing and Sophia immediately obliges.

So, there you go ladies, get out your pink tutus, tiaras, and wands and sing at the top of your lungs. Sophia is teaching us, yet again, that confidence is key. Oh to be young & unabashed again.

Quick blip on another winning princess: Kate gives us another great look in silver Jenny Packham at a benefit dinner with a dapper Wills. She’s so fab!

Pretty, no? As Rosie would say, “umm, yeah.”
Be your inner princess today, lovelies!

A Durham Excursion

We are in Durham, NC for the Thanksgiving holiday. Today, we explored the Ninth Street area and found some gems, which I would like to share with you.

 One World Market has a wide variety of handmade items from all over the world, specializing in fair trade. There are some very unique items, and I liked quite a few things. They have a list of what they supply on the website. Check it out!

A little further up the hill, we stumbled across this lovely when looking for thirst-assistance. The Ox & Rabbit Soda and Sundries: It is a soda fountain and adorable gifties spot, including kid section, paper goods, books, a few shirts, prints, & bags.
Isn’t it adorable? Lots of fun drink options. I gave in to a dark chocolate milkshake, and ’twas yummy.
My paper goods purchases – don’t study too closely, in case they may be headed for your mailbox : ) I love paper goods. Let me share some of the brands I bought today with you…with some examples that I did not buy.
Snow & Graham: Most of the cards I purchased today were this company’s. They are sweet & visually appealing.
Rifle Paper Co.:  I wish I did buy this one. They have oh-so-many cuties.
Egg Press: I couldn’t get their website to work, but I got a fun & quirky set from them that even Sam appreciated. Love quirky humor!

Next time you are in the Raleigh-Durham, you know some places to go!

Hope your weekend has continued to be lovely! Getting some good family time? Video chat at least? Safe  travel wishes for all whether you or your guests are the ones heading home. We’re back home tomorrow after a super-early flight and will get to pick up our love-pup! Can’t wait!

If I was a rich girl…

I made my own Polyvore combination! What do you think? I have loved the idea of buttery cognac leather boots and a matching bag for a while. It took quite a long time to find a satisfactory combination, then form the rest of the look. I loved  the blue coat which let me fall back to my fav, a cream-colored sweater (the particular one was hard to locate). The black skinnies came from not wanting more blue with jeans and the fact that I actually own those pants. Then, the hat was the only accessory I could decide on before being to tired to continue. So, there you have it – the forming of a look. Turns out, though, that I have rather expensive tastes. This whole outfit would cost me $2,360 dollars before tax and not including the pants that I already have. Half of that was the bag. Another interesting factoid: 2 of the items are British – the boots & the hat, so looks like I’m on my way.
On a less fun note: I endeavor to always admit when I am wrong. I did not succeed in my goal to be gracious during the football game. It was rough, and I got caught up. I did not scream obscenities at strangers in a bar, but I had a short supply of patience for friends supporting the opponent. I am ashamed and will do better in the future. Ahh, humble pie, you don’t taste so good. Here’s hoping you were more successful in your holiday grace; I’m sure you were, lovelies.

Thanks is for Giving

Well, dears, I hope you have had a lovely day! Full of food & affection. Calories & hugs. Many of my Facebook friends posted daily statuses for what they were thankful for. I thought that was a wonderful way to spread the spirit of the holiday throughout the month, but it was too much of a commitment for me. Also, I have way too much else to say, if you haven’t noticed. So, here are my 24 days of thankfulness, interspersed with some Etsy funsies:

1. Paper goods and snail mail – it’s a happy thing.
2. To proper punctuation, your the best and its all for you.
3. Jane Austen – for getting me into the big kid book section and a better reading level.
4. Fantasy fiction – for making me a total geek, but I adore you anyway. Yes, I’m talking Harry Potter, Twilight, Chronicles of Narnia, etc. Deal with it.
5. To music in all of your shapes and forms (about 95% of which I enjoy). It’s obvious, but you’re the soundtrack to my life. I like things better when they have a soundtrack.

6. To humor and cleverness for  spicing up our lives.
7. Fashion – for evading me yet inspiring me nonetheless.
8. Food: you feed me & my emotions. Specifically baked goods, starches, & dairy.
9. To cupcakes & baking for giving me a hobby.
10. Mrs. Brantley & robotics club for leading me to my future – PS I’m not a robot-er; that’s where I met my man. I know, cranking up that geek-factor.

11. For good teachers, who inspire and instruct, who make you want to learn. I really liked school. Wasn’t the world great when you still had so much to discover! Remember that you still do.
12. To nursing for providing me with a way to make an impact, be useful, and make a living doing it.
13. College football for giving me something to have an allegiance to, more of a reason to dress in red, and an excuse to yell like a crazy person during games.
14. Technologies for the next few:  I am grateful for gmail chat, Skype, and FaceTime that all give me the ability to see my loved ones any time I want.
15. Google – for helping me know things. Because I like to know things and be accurate.

16. The addiction of Pinterest that makes me feel like I could be a crafty, stylish, home decorator-chef. And making me laugh – seriously visit the humor section.
17. For Facebook who facilitates keeping in touch with numbers 20 & 22. I love keeping in touch.
18. iPhone for making me more hyperactive with a short attention span and the inability to wonder when I could just Google it. But I still like it.
19. Blogs that give me insights into my friends, myself, & my world.
20. Our lovely friends throughout the world.  We have friends all over the place. I can tell you one thing: there are truly great people everywhere, so keep that mind open.

21. My sweet puppy, Jackson. He is a warm & snuggly bundle of mess. He’s a constant companion – a Velcro Viszla. He’s a hoot that has brought tons of joy to our lives, and I lurves him a bunches.
22. Family. Mine is mostly functional and completely fabulous. Lots of love and hugging and good food. A little bit crazy but a lot of fun. Supportive, uplifting, available, accepting. I can talk about them all day.
23. My husband. That sweet, infuriating, crazy fun man is the love of my life. He makes my heart sing. He is kind and logical and ornery, and my life would be vastly different, and not in a good way, if we had not found each other.
24. I wouldn’t have any of these things without a gracious & giving God, who loves us & blesses us despite our daily failings. Thanks, Lord, for all of the above & more.

That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the wonderful things in life, but it’s a start. The list is random and not always deathly serious, but don’t forget to celebrate the little things. They are the frosting on the cupcake of life.

Mentally preparing for the next few days – this is your pep-talk!

We’ve got exciting days ahead! Days where we get off our normal schedules for a while and travel, cook, see family, eat, relax, shop, watch football & parades, and take the time to be thankful.

Today, you are either already where you are going or headed out soon, if you are going at all. Or you may be receiving guests, finishing those last minute preparations. If you travel today, travel safely. If you are on the receiving end, take a deep breath; your guests will only care about being with you, and I’m sure you already have everything as perfect as it needs to be.

Tomorrow, as you spend time cooking, eating, and watching TV, enjoy your time with family and friends. If you are with family, the whole too-cool for your family attitude is so overdone. Don’t spend the time resenting that you have to be with your family, but take the time to enjoy them. Remember that each person in your family is a constantly-developing, in-depth person with thoughts, feelings and views as complicated and worth listening to as yourself. Ditch the old prejudices and get to know them afresh every time. You may be surprised at what you find. Make a vow to use nice words only and love unconditionally if not just because they are your family and deserve it, but also because that’s what you’d want them to do for you. Also, traditions are a beautiful thing, but don’t cling to them so tightly that you won’t let new memories form. Be flexible and gracious during this holiday of thankfulness, and see what an exceptional time you’ll have.

Friday, keep up your good attitude and eat those yummy leftovers. If you are shopping, I admire your commitment to savings! But please be careful and kind to those around you. Let’s have a trample- and fight-free Black Friday. That killer deal is so not worth compromising your values; Black Friday is not a day magically exempt from manners. That also includes Friday’s football games; I know it is getting close to bowl time and these games are so crucial, but they aren’t worth crushing a friendship over. Or starting a fight in a bar. Football games are so not worth compromising your values; if you wouldn’t normally scream obscenities at strangers, you shouldn’t do it because of a football game.

Alright, that was hard. If you couldn’t tell, I was dealing with some of my own issues there. It was so hard to type that stuff about football because I am so guilty of getting caught up in the moment and being completely rude to friends and strangers alike. In fact, I just told my Facebook friends that if they said something mean about my team over the next few days, I would de-friend them….and I meant it. Oh Kim! I also too often take my family for granted when they are the people I should be loving on the most. So, I hope that my pep-talk (mostly to myself) has helped get your head in the right place for the next couple days. Get your game faces on for a happy holiday! Feel free to come back again when you find yourself slipping – I know I will be.