Tuesday, June 30, 2009

.a list.

A list of Loves:
.journals/notebooks/sketch pads. anywhere you can put your thoughts on paper.
.cookbooks. i read them like novels.
.babies. especially fat ones.
.stories from or about my grandparents.
.lists. (!)
.boyfriend.
.handmade gifts.
.the Wii.
.having friends I've known for 20 years.
.brothers.
.my sis-in-law.
.comebacks.
.softball.
.full circle bookstore.
.Johnny Depp.
.wine.
.Thepioneerwoman.com
.live music.
.cheese. pretty much all of it.
.pictures.
.grand lake.
.fireworks.
.Halloween.
.mix tapes.
.peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
.being barefoot.
.reading for hours without interruption.
.date nights.
.baking/cooking/creating in the kitchen.
.noise and chaos.
.coffee.
.tomatoes.
.the zoo.
.kisses.
.Neil Young.
.having my eyes opened to something new.
.naps.
.farmer's market.
.fresh anything...food, flowers, music, love.
.my dogs. past and present.
.dishes.
.bicycles.
.mountains.
.avocados.
.Pandora.com.
.decorative trays.
.antiques.
.plaid.
.the color green.
.dates with myself.
.wild flowers.
.Oklahoma.
.my big family.
.the perfect song at the perfect moment.
.homemade ice cream.
.Christmas cookies.
.birthday presents.
.lizards.
.butterflies.
.fall, winter and spring.
.holidays.
.simplicity.
.memories.
.thunderstorms.
.champagne.
.Sundays.
.snow.
.learning.
.anything I can eat. except black olives. yuck.

.grace.
1. 2 Buck Chuck, aka. Charles Shaw wine.
2. The New Pornographers.
3. Having to stop short on a list of loves because there are too many to list.
4. Seeing things from a different point of view.
5. Grandparents.

Monday, June 29, 2009

On books, and cupcakes.

I have a horrible memory. I can remember birthdays, appointments, anniversaries, even specific outfits without any problem, but conversations (even important ones), jokes, assignments, and books? Nope. It just doesn't happen. It almost makes me wonder why I even read books if I'm just going to forget them once I've read the next one. Sure, I remember the basic gist of a story, but any little detail just floats right out of my head. I wonder why it is that I can remember exactly what I wore on my first day of 10th grade, but I have no idea who the main character is in the book I read 6 months ago.

So I've decided to cure myself of my selective amnesia. I'm self-medicating, but without the medications. I'll be an experiment of sorts. Nothing too scientific, just some little tricks I've got up my sleeve. I've always heard that the best way to remember your dreams is to write them down right when you wake up. I tried it for a while (a long time ago) and it seemed to work. Week by week, I'd remember a little more about my dreams, without needing to write it down. So that's where I'm starting with reading. For as much as I read, you'd think I'd know more about literature, or at least be able to finish a Thursday crossword puzzle, but alas, they stump me every time.




I'm hoping my experiment, or whatever it turns into, will also help me cure the ridiculous guilt trips I give myself over books. Yes, I have major, anxiety ridden guilt trips over books. I spent the first part of 2009 reading the first three books of a six book series, and loved it. I dreamt nightly about the stories and sometimes talk about the characters as if they're my friends (and they live in 1700's Scotland!), but after the third book, I cut myself off. I just couldn't take the guilt anymore. I have all these other books just waiting, begging to be read, so why am I spending so much time on one series? I realize that I have my whole life to read all the books I want to read, but I still can't shake the guilt I feel when I pick up a book that wasn't already sitting on my shelf just waiting to fulfill it's life's purpose. Isn't it unfair to Denny and Enzo that while they're speeding down the racetrack in the rain, I'm thinking about Claire and Jamie out running Pirates on their way to Jamaica? I certainly wouldn't appreciate it.





So I bought myself a Moleskin notebook. And I've been making a list of books. Books I've read. Books I started but didn't finish (another guilt inducing habit of mine). Books I completely hated but read anyway. Books I want to read. Books I think my family and friends would like. Anything to do with books, I've got a list for it.




But really, it's just a place for me to remember why it is that I love reading so much in the first place. To remind me that when everything else in my world seems out of whack, a book is always there to take me somewhere else.



So what does all this have to do with cupcakes? Absolutely nothing. Except that I got a new Cupcake book. And there's one thing I've found out about cook books; they don't come with a guilty conscience.



Applesauce-Spice Cupcakes, with Brown-Sugar Cream-Cheese Icing
Ingredients:
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (I used ground)
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temp.
1 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 c. pecans, toasted and chopped. (optional, but totally worth it)

Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 cupcake pans with liners.
~To toast pecans: Spread pecans in an even layer on rimmed cookie/baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until slightly toasted and very fragrant. If they look burned, they are.
. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
. Cream butter and both sugars on medium-high speed of electric mixer, until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, and scraping down the sides with spatula as needed. Reduce speed to low, and add applesauce then flour mixture. Beat until just combined, do not over beat. Stir in pecans by hand.
. Divide batter evenly into prepared pans* filling each cupcake well about 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes, rotating once half-way through.

*If you don't have enough batter for all 24 cupcakes, remove liners from unused wells and fill about 1/3 way up with water to ensure even cooking.

Brown-Sugar Cream-Cheese Frosting:
1 stick butter, softened
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 c. packed light-brown sugar

Beat with electric mixer on medium-high speed until combined. Use immediately or store in refrigerator. Bring to room temp before icing.

*NOTE* These cupcakes are aahhhhmazing. You might be tempted to eat more than one in a sitting, but don't. The icing is sweet and carmely and will make you sick if you eat too much. Consider yourself warned.

Grace.
1. Moleskin notebooks.
2. Offset spatulas
3. 96 degree weather. It's been a nice break from the two weeks of 100+
4. Ginger peach tea
5. Ricotta cheese.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Whoops.

I know, I know, I missed a day of blogging. Shocker! I guess I didn't realize how hard posting everyday would be until I decided to take Mizzle up on her challenge. I forgot that I barely even look at a computer screen on the weekends, so I don't really know how this is going to work out. But I will try to make up for being so careless yesterday.

I had big plans of baking yesterday. I was going to use up the fresh blueberries I've been hoarding all week with a blueberry coffee cake. I was going to experiment with Martha and make applesauce cupcakes with brown sugar cream cheese icing. I was even going to make some snicker doodles. But then something happened. Something called an allergy attack. Do you have allergies? I do. And if you happen to know me well enough to know what allergies do to me, then you're probably surprised I even made it through the day, because I have the kind of allergies that seriously make me worthless to the human race. I sneezed no less than 200 times, and went through 1 box of Kleenex and three rolls of toilet paper. But I survived, barely. So I decided that baking in my condition didn't make for the most sanitary of baking environments. Instead, I spent the day with my mom. We dined, we shopped, we came home and read magazines and books together and then I passed out in a big leather chair for two hours. And I had a wad of Kleenex stuck up my nose the entire time. It wasn't awesome, but it wasn't too bad for a Friday either.

Grace:
1. New K Cup coffee flavor. Butter toffee. Can't go wrong with that combination, can you?
2. A delicious (and healthy) breakfast of fat-free vanilla yogurt topped with fresh strawberries and blueberries and a sprinkling of Splenda.
3. Having a pool to jump in when it's insanely hot, like it is today. And has been for the past two weeks.
4. Shopping with mom.
5. Homemade spaghetti and meatballs on a Friday night. Yum.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'm sure you're not surprised...

What do these....




These.....


And this.....



Have in common???

They all make for a fun filled and delicious Friday!

Blame it on my mom. She gave me the Martha book last night, and although I can't stand Martha, the chick knows her way around a cupcake. Don't worry, I'll document it all and let you know how it goes.

So, who wants cupcakes?!


GRACE.
1. Farrah. Love your hair, love your smile, love your grace in your dying days. Rest in peace.
2. MJ. Oh man, there's too much to love. I can't even type his name without my head bopping to the tune of "Beat It." It's the end of an era. I'll be moonwalking tonight in your honor.
3. Hamloaf. Hmmm....hamloaf. Bet you didn't know something that sounds so disgusting could be so insanely delicious, did you? I don't know how to make it, so don't ask. But if I ever find out, I promise to share.
4. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. It's crazy good. I've read half the book in one sitting so far.
5. Braum's ice cream when it's 106 degrees outside.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sunny memories.

When I was in high school, I dated my friend Rory for a while every now and then. We were both always in and out of those really BIG high school relationships, but never with each other. You know the ones, where you date a guy (or girl) all through high school, but throughout the years there are numerous breakups, fights, childish comments, and just drama in general. But you eventually make up and get back together. The pure definition of tumultuous. I know I had a relationship that was exactly like that. But whenever I found myself single, I always managed to find some cute boy to pass the time with. And that cute boy was usually Rory. And man, was he cute. He had these eyes, these eyes, that were so pretty that it was almost sad they were wasted on a boy, because I put on thousands of coats of mascara trying to achieve the look he was naturally born with. And not only was he delicious to look at, but he was so much fun to hang out with. He loved to play and laugh and genuinely have fun. And he loved to eat, and I loved to eat. We spent countless hours eating massive amounts of food and then seeing just how big our bellies had gotten. Sounds romantic, huh? Somehow, it was. And for those of you who knew Rory, you know how much fun he was and the zest for life that he had. His was a sad soul to lose.

I've never really been sure why Rory and I never worked at the dating thing. We were crazy about each other, but we were also the best of friends. And at 16, 17, and 18, being the best of friends is hard to segue into a relationship. But we gave it our shot, and every time it ended we'd go back to our old routine of being best friends and dating whoever it was that drove us the craziest. It was almost as if nothing ever changed.

My favorite memory about Rory is from one hot summer between my junior and senior year in high school. I think I was at my friend Megan's house, probably up in her room with all our girlfriends, drinking wine coolers and getting ready for a night out. When we all made our way outside, I looked into my car, and sitting there on the driver's seat was the most gigantic sunflower I have ever seen. Seriously, this thing was the size of my head. My window had been down, and Rory had left it for me. He later told me that he'd been driving around with his guy friends, mind you, and saw the flower on the side of the road and just knew I had to have it. It is still, to this day nearly 10 years later, the sweetest thing that's ever happened to me. And every time I see sunflowers, I think of my dear friend Rory, and hope that he's looking down on me from whatever heaven he's in.


Grace.
1. A Sam's size bag of powdered sugar. You really can never have too much.
2. A new cupcake book. Thanks, mom!! (And thanks for putting out such beautiful sunflowers.)
3. Mango tea.
4. Seeing my best friend in a potential wedding dress. GORGEOUS!!!!!
5. Tats. Mizzle knows what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Walrus and The Carpenter

The Walrus and The Carpenter by Lewis Carrol

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright--
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done--
"It's very rude of him," she said,
"To come and spoil the fun!"

The sea was wet as wet could be
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead--
There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
"If this were only cleared away,"
They said, "it would be grand!"

"If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year.
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each."

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head--
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat--
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more--
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,
"Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!"
"No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
"Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed--
Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."

"But not on us!" the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue."
After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"The night is fine," the Walrus said.
"Do you admire the view?

"It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf--
I've had to ask you twice!"

"It seems a shame," the Walrus said,
"To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"The butter's spread too thick!"

"I weep for you," the Walrus said:
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?"
But answer came there none--
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.


When I was in lower school, our school had an "Alice in Wonderland Day" for the 4th graders. It was something that was done every year, and when I entered the 4th grade, it was one of the things I looked forward to most. There were months of planning; "roles" to be assigned, costumes to be made, poems to be memorized, etc. And when the big day came, I arrived at school with my, suspenders, bow tie and twirly hat to play my part as "Tweedle-Dee." Or maybe I was "Tweedle-Dum." I really don't remember, nor do I remember if we were actually assigned these roles or if I chose to be one half of the bumbling duo. Knowing me as a child, it was probably my choice. In any case, pretty much the only thing I remember about that day was having to recite this poem in front of my whole class, our teachers and all our parents. Had I known that public speaking was going to be part of this Tweedle job, I surely would have passed. But I managed to spit it out, and I've remembered this poem almost verbatim ever since. I even recite it to myself when I'm feeling blue. And tonight, I'm feeling blue. It hasn't cured my blues completely, but it definitely took my mind off of them for a few minutes. So next time you find yourself feeling a little down, let The Walrus and The Carpenter cheer you up.


Grace.
1. Mexicali cerveza.
2. A gift of home grown lettuce, fresh from a garden.
3. Feeling passionate about anything at all, be it a book, a band, or preferably, a person.
4. Blind Pilot. Especially the Blind Pilot station on Pandora.
5. Cheese. Can you ever be too thankful for cheese?

Monday, June 22, 2009

A challenge of sorts.

I've decided to take on Mizzle's challenge and post everyday. I can't make any promises about the "living life to the fullest" thing. Not that I don't want to do that, it's just that sometimes setting such lofty goals like that makes me feel inadequate when I can't live up to them. It's much easier to make a small goal, like trying to eat one red jellybean everyday for three weeks. That's a challenge I can tackle. But living life to the fullest? I might die from a self-induced guilt trip if I decide to take a nap instead of go running. Which is exactly why I only work out once a week. I can however, promise to live my life as myself and to do what makes me happy, so maybe that really is living it to the fullest, in my own little way.

So what do I talk about in my first post of this daily post challenge? I baked a boat load of cupcakes last week, but we've all seen cupcakes before. I also attended two parties this past weekend, which means that I went out two nights in a row, which also means that I will be spending this Monday evening on the couch, in my PJ's, and will go to bed at 10:00 but secretly wish it was 8:30. What is it about going out two nights in a row that is SO hard? I mean, I'm not 21 anymore, but it's not like I'm 100 either. I'm 26! These are the days of my life! I should be able to party til dawn for at least 4 nights a week. But in reality, I don't want to party til dawn. Ever. I'm over it. If I'm up past midnight it's a miracle, which is strange considering that I used to stay up until all hours of the night doing absolutely nothing just because I liked to stay up late. That and my mild case of insomnia that has miraculously cured itself. But now when the clock strikes 12, my eyes immediately start sagging, and I can feel the narcolepsy settling in. From insomniac to narcoleptic? There's one for the medical books.

I really didn't want to post a random rant about nothing, but it looks like that's what just happened. I apologize for my scatterbrained-ness, but didn't I say I was going to do what makes me happy? Well rambling on about nothing in particular makes me happy. It probably has something to do with the fact that I'm a child of the two most talkative parents in the world and I'm fairly quiet in "real life" so this is where I let myself talk incessantly. Maybe one of these days I'll have something productive to say, but until then, here's some....GRACE!
1. Cable network season premieres! True Blood, Weeds, Dexter....I love TV.
2. Father's Day. I love Father's Day. And Mother's Day. They really make me want babies. (Shhh...don't tell anyone.)
3. Having working AC in my car. Because I don't right now. And it's 101 degrees outside.
4. Animal Collective....and my little bro leaving awesome Cd's in my car.
5. La Baguette. It is so choice.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Scenes from an iPhone

I have a really busy day today. Lots of business meetings and such. So instead of telling you about how awesome the deadCENTER fest was (it was aaaamazing, by the way) I thought I'd just share some pics with you all. Not of the fest, just little views into my little world.


This is Colonel Mustard, my fish. I once had a little mishap with a label maker and labeled his bowl as "Colonel Nustarded" so that's what we call him.
Colonel Nustarded died this week. Boyfriend gave him a sailor's funeral, which is fitting since he's a Colonel and all. I swear, he was the oldest Beta Fish alive. He was just around the corner from his 1st birthday, which is like 97 in fish years. True story.


My mom pulled out all her old photo albums this past weekend and I found this picture of my parents celebrating their first week of marriage with their friends up at Grand Lake.

I love their clothes. I love their hair. I love that they look ridiculously happy and that despite their marriage not lasting, they are still friends with all their old friends and with each other.



Here's some delicious pizza boyfriend and I made for dinner last night.
Prosciutto, portabella mushrooms, toasted pine nuts, thinly sliced red onions, cheese, arugula....




The view from a cracked windshield.




My dogs snuggled in their chair...

Our movie theater on Saturday night @ deadCENTER...

Late night wine....



Billy and toes...

Caddo....


Flowers for my mom....
The End!


Grace:
1. Little bro reliving his Bonaroo tales to me over coffee.
2. Polarize app for iphone.
3. Plaid shirts, preferably old and showing signs of an old life.
4. Wavy Gravy.
5. A new cupcake tree.

Friday, June 12, 2009

deadCENTER

I love OKC. Have I said that before? Get used to hearing it, because I'll probably say it a lot in this blog's lifetime.

Not many people understand the wonderfulness that is OKC. Outsiders tend to think that we still drive on dirt roads and ride horses to school. True story. I left OKC for a short time to go to school in Kansas, and even people there thought we rode horses everywhere. I was like "You're from Kansas! It's the same freakin' thing." Anyway, needless to say, I don't appreciate any trash talking OKC. It's clean and pretty and the people are ridiculously nice. Not to mention the low cost of living, not-to-terrible traffic, and change in the seasons. It's a great place. A place that I may leave at some point, but will surely return to and will forever call home.

Anyway....

If you're needing another reason to think that OKC is super cool, then check out the deadCENTER Film Festival.


Yes, that's right, OKC has it's own independent film festival. The festival started in 2001 and has grown year after year. I happen to know from experience just how fun this festival is. Last year I watched a movie in a tent behind some silos during a torrential downpour in a pool of red mud. And I loved every second of it.

This year's fest has already started, and unfortunately I missed the opening night. It was a screening of "Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo" on Historic Film Row, which means they blocked off a small street in downtown OKC and showed the movie right there in the street. I was at a play a few blocks away, so I missed it, but lucky for me they are showing it again tonight at the art museum. Saturday night will feature "Peace, Love, and Wavy Gravy" followed by the festival awards ceremony and "Saint Misbehavin': The Wavy Gravy Movie." All will be happening on a field right outside of Bricktown. There will be beer tents, and free yoga, and general "hippiness" going on and I can't wait.

If you're in the OKC area this weekend, please make an effort to make it to the deadCENTER. With 100+ films to watch, and 8 different venues to watch them in, there's really no reason to not make it. Support your local festivals, artists, movie makers, entertainers and all the people who have worked so hard to make this happen. Like my dad, for instance. He's known as the "rock star" of the deadCNETER Advisory Committee and Staff.

See you all on Saturday night at 3rd and E.K. Gaylord!

::Grace::

1. Lunch with my girlfriends.

2. Dot Wo, the best Chinese restaurant in OKC.

3. Getting so into a book that you fall asleep dreaming about it.

4. LOST season 3. It's getting weird, but I love it.

5. The Drowsy Chaperone

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A tale of three cupcakes.

It was a messy job...



But somebody had to do it.




I was "hired" this week for the first time ever as a baker. Who cares if it was my grandma who hired me? Or that I was just making cupcakes for her book club? A job's a job, and you've got to start somewhere. Besides, her book club is huge. It's been around for 40+ years and has like 100 members, but only 30 or so meet at a time. They even have a rule book. These book clubbers don't mess around.

Anyway, my grandma "hired" me to bake cupcakes for her to bring to the next meeting. So I baked for two nights straight, and iced on the third. It was half-way through my icing job that I got a sudden wave of self-consciousness and thought about calling grandma and telling her I quit. It's one thing to bake for my family all the time, but baking for strangers is a whole new thing for me. Besides, my icing wasn't looking right, the cupcakes were all different sizes, and some of them had gotten kind of wonky during their stay in the freezer. I was just sure that these book clubbers were going to judge me and my cupcakes and talk about me behind my back. Book clubbers can be vicious, you know. Then my mom told me to get over it, and she reassured me that book clubbers are nice people, and they will love me and my cupcakes because everyone likes grand-daughters and cupcakes. And that "homemade" look is much more charming than store bought any day.

So I decided to keep going.

I made three different cupcakes: vanilla with vanilla buttercream, chocolate with vanilla butter cream, and red velvet with cream cheese icing. (Oh my!) All were easy to make, but each required a few ingredients I didn't have on hand, which means that after all was said and done, I only made about $10 profit. But that's okay. I had a happy grandma, and now I can pretty much call myself a professional baker, right?


Vanilla with vanilla.....

Chocolate with vanilla....


And red velvet with cream cheese. My favorite.

Oh what? You want the recipes? Well, okay, but please, stop begging, it's very unbecoming.

Vanilla Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 1/2 c. self-rising flour
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 c. sugar
4 large eggs, at room temp.
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

. In a small bowl, combine the flours and set aside. (I measured them, dumped them in a bowl, and stirred together with a whisk. A fork would work too.)
. In a large bowl of electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. After each addition, beat until incorporated, but don't over beat the mixture. Scrape down the sides with a spatula as needed. Spoon the batter into lined cupcake pans, filling them about three quarters full. (Or all the way, if you want big cupcakes like mine) Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. (20 minutes was plenty for me)

Chocolate Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temp.
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

.To melt chocolate: place chocolate in microwave save bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval. OR use a double boiler, but I never do.
.In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
.In large bowl of electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the chocolate and mix well. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla, beating well after each addition, but be careful not to over beat. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Spoon batter into lined cupcake pans, and bake for 20-25 minutes. (Again, 20 was enough for me)

Red Velvet Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350.
3 1/3 c. cake flour (not self-rising)
3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 c. sugar
3 large eggs, room temp.
6 T. red food coloring
3 T. unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

.In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside. (Isn't cake flour already sifted? I sifted it again, anyway.) In a large bowl of electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
.In a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla. (I ran out of food coloring after 3 T., but cupcakes were still really red. I also don't know why these three things need to be whisked together before adding to batter. I think adding them straight to batter would be fine, and save you the hassle of cleaning one more bowl.) Add to batter and beat well.
.In a measuring cup, stir salt into the buttermilk. (Again, I'm not sure what this accomplishes, but I did it anyway.) Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with the flour, being careful not to over beat after each addition.
.In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Scrape down sides of bowl with spatula as needed.
.Spoon batter into lined cupcake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes. (20 minutes for me)


Icing:
Vanilla Buttercream, Annie's way:
2 sticks butter, softened. Salted or unsalted. It's your call.
1 box (1 lb.) powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1-3 T. milk

Mix all ingredients with electric mixer until well combined. For thinner icing, add more milk. All measurements can be adjusted to taste.

Cream Cheese Icing, Annie's way:
8-12 oz. cream cheese
1 stick butter, softened. Salted or unsalted.
1 box powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1-3 T. milk

Same directions as the vanilla buttercream. Add more cream cheese if you really want that cream cheese flavor, or more powdered sugar if you like it sweeter. Both recipes can be easily adjusted to fit your personal tastes. That the beauty of icing!

After baking, icing, and tasting all three cupcakes, the winner (in my book) is: Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Icing!



Whew. I know that was a lot at once, but I've got lots of awesome things to tell you all about all week, so I thought I'd get the sweet stuff knocked out all at once. Stay tuned!

Graces:
1. Driving Carme's beastly truck for the next 5 days, despite the huge gas tank.
2. Honey Bunches of Oats.
3. Lightnin' Hopkins station on Pandora.
4. "What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." Ralph Waldo Emerson
5. My sweet dogs.

Monday, June 8, 2009

All I had to do was ask

About a week before I left for a week for California, I told boyfriend that I wanted a date night. And yes, I asked for a date. Sometimes I don't like to wait around for these things to happen, and besides, the best way to get what you want is to ask for it. I have no shame when it comes to dates.

Well, boyfriend took the not-so-slight hint and went all out. He not only wined and dined me, but he cooked for me. He didn't even ask me what I wanted, or how small to chop the mushrooms, or which pan was a 13x9. He did it all by his lonesome, and it was fantastic.

I don't know what the official name of the dish was, but he simply called it "chicken and mushrooms." With a side of fettucini noodles that were perfectly buttered and seasoned with I don't know what. And bread. All my meals include bread; toasty, crusty, delightful, bread.


Now if that's not a good looking plate of food, I don't know what is. It was enough to make my heart go pitter-patter, that's for sure. So all you ladies who might be reading this, go, be bold, and ask your boyfriend to take you on a date! You may be surprised at what he's got up his sleeve. And all you fellas, go make your girlfriend dinner because she deserves it! Whether it's Kraft Mac and Cheese, or hand rolled sushi, I promise she'll love it. She'll probably even give you a smooch. Keep that in mind.

I don't have a recipe for the main dish, but I can tell you how to make ridiculously delicious bread. I was never a huge "bread with dinner" person until I figured out how to actually make bread worth eating with dinner. It's so simple and easy, you'll be making it with every meal.

What you'll need:
.1 loaf of your favorite bread from your favorite bakery. (My not-favorite-but-convenient-bakery is at Homeland and I love the rosemary and garlic loaf. But a plain french is great too.)
.Olive Oil
.S & P (Salt and pepper, for the laymen)
.1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled.

Preheat oven to 350, or 375 if you're in a hurry.
Slice bread to desired thickness and place on cookie sheet. Drizzle each slice generously with olive oil and top with salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown, about 10-13 minutes depending on how well done you like it. Rub the garlic clove over the hot bread and serve warm. Enjoy!

Grace.
1. Pizza and movie night with boyfriend.
2. Being "hired" for the first time as a baker! Thanks grandma!
3. My little brother. He likes good tunes.
4. Sunday Funday

Friday, June 5, 2009

WTF??


Today is Friday, and it's a beautiful day. The sun is shining, the skies are clear, and there's virtually no wind. It's also my bestest buddy's birthday, and I have the day off. One word to describe this day: perfect. But as I'm driving home on this perfect day, from a perfect lunch followed by perfect errands, my windshield gets pelted by some sort of orange smoothie in the middle of the highway. The car in front of me, filled with grown adults, is throwing the contents of it's fast food lunch onto the road behind it, or more specifically, directly onto my windshield. This really pisses me off. I have enough road rage already, but to get pelted by some white trash litter bug on the middle of the highway just really pushes me over the edge. I got out from behind this car as quickly as I could, with plans of driving by with my finger sticking out the window. But as I drove up next to them, I decided that maybe giving them the finger wasn't the best idea. They looked like the kind of people who would probably follow me home and beat me up if I showed them how I really felt. So I did nothing, but in my mind, the fact that they have to live their life being the trash they are should be punishment enough. And as if their inconsiderate behavior wasn't enough, about five cars ahead of them, was some giant pick up truck on steroids that was sputtering out so much exhaust I had to roll up my windows. No wonder Oklahoma ranks as one of the least green states. Please people, don't lay that trash on Oklahoma!

g.r.a.c.e.
1. Littering fines, although they should be higher.
2. A brand new cook book.
3. OliveBabyCaKes.blogspot.com I love baby K, too!
4. Drug Store french fries.
5. LBC on her 26th birthday!!!! Happy Birthday, Gingersnap! You make me very happy =)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

California

Besides this...



And one very awesome brother......


(looking quite dashing, I might add)

my favorite thing about California was this place.....

Well, maybe not THAT place (I don't really know how I'd get up there). I'm talking about Muir Woods. Muir Woods is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in Northern California. More specifically, it's about 12 miles north of San Francisco.


It is, quite simply, breathtaking.




I was there for a mere (or Muir? hehe) 45 minutes, but I took about 847 pictures in that time. And I've decided that my next vacation to California will be based completely around these woods. I can't wait to hike up the trails on the side of mountains that lead you up to the canopy where you can walk among the tops of the trees. How cool would that be???

The climate alone is reason enough to come. It was cool and misty, and the air was so fresh and crisp, it made me totally forget that I have asthma. It was nothing like the smoggy air of L.A., or even the humid and stuffy air around Oklahoma. Certain types of salmon and trout come through these waters just because of the amount of oxygen it contains. If I were a fish, or really any animal, this is where I would call home.


These are Coast Redwood trees, not to be confused with their close relative, the Sequoai Redwood which is found farther north. The Coast Redwood grows much taller while the Sequoai is much bigger around. They must be huge, because these guys were HUGE!

The cool thing is that because it's a national park, it's all protected. And when a natural disaster happens, like a fire (which is good; it clears away the brush), or lightening strikes a tree down, the fallen trees are left there to remain apart of their surroundings.



Some of the trees in these woods are over 2000 years old.




And some of the visitors in these woods are tiny, like me for instance. Whatever you do, next time you find yourself in California, or anywhere on the West Coast for that matter, please make your way over to Muir Woods. I know I will. And don't forget your camera!


g.r.a.c.e.
1. Grill pans.
2. Sleeping in your childhood bed.
3. Rolling Stone magazine.
4. The Fleet Foxes.
5. Cheerios and bananas.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Frustration takes over...

I had great plans for this blog entry. I was going to dazzle you all with beautiful pictures from my California vacation and wow you with stories of celebrities, wine, and sunshine. But then I tried to upload photos on here, and seeing as how I know next to nothing about computers and pictures, it didn't quite go as I planned. I uploaded a few that turned out to be the wrong pics. Deleted. Uploaded more. Deleted. Uploaded one last batch. Backwards. Why it is so hard to just put a few pictures up here to share with you all? I ended up wasting way too much of my afternoon for nothing, and I might have even blurted out a few of my favorite curse words. So, until I can figure out how to do this without getting flustered, here's a little grace.

1. Spending a few days in L.A. with my brother.
2. Spotting not one, but two celebrities at my hotel.
3. Secret Service giving us directions to Rodeo Drive.
4. Seeing giant Redwood trees up close. Magical.
5. Staying in the same hotel, at the same time, as President Obama. True story.