Anniversary Sign

Last week I posted the recipe for a cake we devoured at an anniversary party a few weeks ago. The cake was delicious in the mouth, and this sign is delicious on the eyes. Since we ended up bringing the anniversary party to the couple, I knew I wouldn't have much of a chance to do a lot of decorating. So I decided to bring something over that would make the place feel special and festive in one easy step.

A "Happy Anniversary" sign.


I figured if the sign is easy to hang in one easy step, it would be only a couple easy steps to put together, right?

As much as I want to say, "Right!" I promised I would share everything with you all, so I must answer with a major, "Wrong."

Well, let me take that back: That sentence is wrong for me.

You see, I do not do numbers. I don't work with them. Ever. Mike does all the math in our family. He pays the bills, tips the waitress, heck, he even runs the thermostat in our house, because I hate numbers so much.

Three things that changed my life - Part II

Alright, I feel like I’ve given you enough time to process – on to the number two thing that has changed my life.

Warning: Stop reading this post now if you’re still reeling from the effects of the Ugg boots revelation. I know it was a big day for all of you, and today is going to be another big one. I don’t want to have any lawsuits on my hands for someone passing out from all the amazing products they're finding out about.

Still with me? Here we go.

I will guarantee that ALL of you are familiar with this next product, but not all of you are using it, and if you are, you may not even be using it to its full capability.

Here it comes.

Deep breath.


Triple Layer White Cake with Raspberry Filling and Buttercream Frosting

A few weeks ago I had the honor of helping plan a 30th anniversary party for a couple that is incredibly near and dear to my heart. I hinted at a couple things I was doing for it a few weeks ago, and I've finally had a chance to upload a few photos from the event.

Since, after all, it was an anniversary party, I knew we HAD to serve something similar to a wedding cake. So I trolled my online recipe blogs and combined three different recipes to come up with this baby:


 Photo obviously not taken by me. It was non other than my dear friend, Lindy Nelson.


It's a triple layer white cake with raspberry filling and buttercream frosting. I know it's a mouthful, but I always appreciate it when bakers are descriptive in their naming, so I know exactly what I'm eating. See mom, "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you." It's working!

Anyway, it's a delicious, delicious cake and you should make it next time you're celebrating anything. Here's the recipes and a few pics of the process. I had to call in my reinforcements, Melissa Bock and Heather Flickinger. They were there for moral support, comic relief, coaching and well, to do the work for me.

I love friends.

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake (Makes one three-layer 9-inch round cake.)
3 3/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup buttermilk
5 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
2. Combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and 1 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Mix on low speed briefly to blend; then raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and the remaining 1/3 cup buttermilk until well blended. Pour one-third of the egg mixture into the cake batter at a time, folding it in completely after each addition. There will be 9 cups of batter; pour 3 cups batter into each pan.
4. Bake for 26 to 28 minutes, or until a  wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. Turn the layers out onto wire racks by placing a rack on top of a pan, inverting it, and lifting off the pan. Peel off the paper liners and let cool completely. To make the layers easier to handle, wrap them on their boards completely in plastic, so they don’t dry out, and refrigerate them.

Recipe via: Smitten Kitchen

Here's the cake, all ready to be refrigerated.
Raspberry Filling*
1 10-ounce bag frozen raspberries, thawed
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

1) Puree the raspberries in a food processor.
2) Press the puree through a fine-mesh strainer with the back of a spoon, removing the seeds.
3) Heat the puree in a small pot with the sugar and cornstarch until mixture boils, stirring constantly. As it boils, it should quickly thicken.
4) Let cool before spreading it thinly over three layers.

*Cannot find my source for this! I just scribbled it down on sheet of paper. If it's yours, feel free to claim it!
  
Mel, "pressing the puree through a fine-mesh strainer."
Filling in, next up - frosting!
Swiss Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
26 tablespoons butter, softened (3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1) Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a big metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk occasionally until you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.
2) Transfer mixture into the mixer and whip until it turns white and about doubles in size. (Here’s a tip: when you transfer to the mixer, make sure you wipe the condensation off the bottom of the bowl so that no water gets into the egg whites. This can keep them from whipping up properly.)
3) Add the vanilla.
4) Finally, add the butter a stick at a time and whip, whip, whip.
This baby is a little time consuming and seems like a lot of work, but it is WELL worth the effort.
Heather working her magic.

It's ready!

We did it!
Just one more look at this beauty.

Clearly another Lindy Nelson photo -- just wanted to give you all a peak at the inside.

Chewy Molasses Cookies

I’m a chocolate chip kinda gal. Or I suppose you could call me a chocolate chunk kinda gal. Or even a chocolate chip mini kinda gal. I love anything that is chocolate and is chippy or chunky. I love the chippy, chunky, chocolateness, of chocolate chips (or chunks) and in my opinion, it's pretty much the only cookie worthy of my oven, not to mention my waistline.

Therefore, it went against everything I stand for when I made these Chewy Molasses Cookies. Actually, the technical name is "Paula’s Chewy Ginger Cookies," but well, I changed it.

Is that legal? I’m not sure, but I just felt like the name desperately needed the descriptor “molasses," I didn’t know what was so special about the ingredient ginger, and on top of it all I don’t know this Paula chick — so I changed it. 

Hope that’s okay. 

Anyway, Paula was a genius because these are de-lic-ious. (Maybe I should keep her name in there…) They truly are the perfect cookie. They’re crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, smell like Christmas, taste wonderful (even without chocolate chippy-ness) and best of all, they’re tiny little guys, so you can eat 10 of them and not feel bad about it. Well, I probably shouldn't, but I love mind tricks.

Food Photography

When I started this blog, I promised you I would share all of my adventures in housewifedom, and one of the main things I’ve been working on are my cooking and baking skills. But to fully share my kitchen experiences with you, I have to have photos of what I’ve cooked or you my never believe that I made Lamb Cocotte Pascal* last night.

Every cooking blog I read has fabulous photos, and I figure if you all are anything like me, if the recipe doesn’t have a good looking photo (or worse, no photo), you won’t even try the recipe. And I don’t want that to happen here. I’m sure it’s shocking to many of you (probably the most to me), but some of the stuff I’ve made is actually pretty darn good. 

I know!

Keep breathing.

The keyword is "some" in that sentence. It tends to easily slip by as people are reading. Make sure you don't let it.

The little rascal.

Anyway, I thought I’d try my hand at a bit of food photography with our seven year old Canon Powershot. This baby probably belongs in a historic exhibit, but it's all I've got. It's a hardy lil’ point and shoot camera that I cannot believe has stood up to my natural (but not intentional!) tendency to seek-and-destroy-all-things-electronic. It’s probably not the right equipment for the job, but it'll suffice for now. (In the meantime, I’m entering every Pioneer Woman contest to win a camera. Competing against 39,854 people every time isn’t working out for me thus far, but hey, maybe I’ll get lucky.)

Deep conversations

Conversation between Mike and I the other day: 

Me: “Why do you love sports so much? I just don’t get it.”

Mike: “Because.”

Me: “But why?”

Mike: “Because I love them.”

Me: “Why?”

Mike: “Because I like them.”

NFTJS6YEA762

Three things that changed my life - #1

Today, I’m going to begin a three-part series on the three things that changed my life. One part for each thing. (Yup, my methods are extremely difficult to understand.) Now I know many of you are expecting me to get very philosophical and deep, but I’m just going to be up-front about it — I’m not going to.

Yes, these three things are shallow, materialistic and take zero brain power, but they really have changed my life.

I’m not going to tell you all three at once. It will just be too much, you’ll be
overwhelmed at the life-changingness of them and won’t be able to handle it. Out of mercy for you, my readers, I’ll give you one at a time, so you can let them simmer, sink in and truly be in awe at how they can change your life too.

Okay, are you ready?

Numero uno — drumroll please!

Ugg Boots.

Okay stop rolling your eyes, right now. They really have changed my life! Long gone are the days of snow down my shoes creating frigid feet with scary-whitish toes and wondering when I’m going to lose my precious pinky toe to frostbite. (It happens to be my favorite toe, okay?)

It’s amazing how my attitude towards winter, and more specifically, leaving the house in winter, has transformed. No longer do I hem and haw about whether it’s worth going outside for the mail or not, going to class (when I was in college I was completely willing to skip many a class in favor of keeping my toes intact), or walking 10 feet to a friend’s apartment. I was crabby and paralyzed from the cold winter and thus kept myself completely confined inside the four warm walls of the house as much as I could.

But, after receiving a pair of these - a bit ugly, but oh so warm - boots from my generous husband — then boyfriend — for my birthday three years ago, I began happily skipping outside as if I was Snow White singing to her little birdy friends (completely embarrassing but true).

Uggs, and most variations of them, truly, truly do keep your feet warm. They’re insanely expensive and I do participate in referring to them as my Uggly boots as so many others do, but the ugliness and expensiveness is completely worth the warmth they provide.

The true moral of the story is: women, get these boots. Men, buy your women these boots. And both your lives will change.

What about you? Do you have something that’s drastically changed your life? What is it? Please share!

Dilemma!

So I have this cardigan. Shawl. Shrug? I don’t know what to call it.

It’s a GORGEOUS cardigan/shawl/shrug/thing that’s from Anne Taylor Loft (one of my
fav stores, for the record) and I love wearing it all day, every day. If I didn’t work five
days a week and need to be seen in different clothing in order to not seem unkempt,
unclean and well, crazy, I would wear it every day to work. Since I can’t, I just settle for
throwing it on after work and on the weekends. (Okay, okay, sometimes I even sneak it
on during the lunch hour.) I’m in love with it.

It’s made of super thick brown threads all kinda knitted together somehow. If you don’t
look carefully, you may mistake me for a very large bat when I’m wearing it because
the arm holes are, well, bat-like. You know the kind of arm holes that are really wide
making your arms look webbed to your waste – like bat wings? That’s what it looks like.

It’s a really good look for me.

But the problem is, while I’m so in love with it, my wonderful, loving husband is not
a fan. Apparently the wife-looking-like-a-bat-thing isn’t working for him. And do you
know what he calls it? My “rug.”

Yes, very flattering. I love wearing rugs around.

What do I do? My life’s two loves don’t like each other! Do I wear the cardigan/
shawl/shrug/thing and offend Mike or do I wear it anyway and hope it grows on him
someday?

*Disclaimer: I do love Mike more than the cardigan/shawl/shrug/thing and he’s never asked me to NOT
wear it, but of course I want him to like what I wear — hence the debate in my head.