Ok! So as promised, some good food I made myself. I'm still a little embarrassed about my Lean Cuisine revelation, but hey, no one's perfect. Anyway!
So after making a three-layer 9" round strawberry cake for my sister, and 3 6" round 3-layer cakes for the lovely psmee's bridal shower*, I asked Cam what kind of cake he wanted. He wanted the chocolate whiskey and beer cupcakes (aka "Irish Car Bomb" cupcakes) I made once before, in cake form.
I've certainly been learning from all the Smitten Kitchen reading I do, because I knew the batter for a standard batch of cupcakes should nicely fill 2 9" rounds. So I whipped it up as written, then poured it into the round pans, docked the temperature to 325 to ensure flat tops, and baked them till the toothpick came out clean. Then I cooled them, wrapped them in foil and plastic wrap, and froze them. When your man's on the road constantly and unpredictably, cakes in the freezer make it easy to pounce on a window when he's home.
The day after his actual birthday (which he spent outside Columbus, Ohio. Magical, he'll tell you) I got my opportunity to finish the cake. I used the cupcake ganache recipe too, but either I did something wrong, or it was just too runny to go in the middle layer of the cake. So I added in some more melted chocolate, froze and stirred, froze and stirred, and finally got something that would stay in the center without squishing out the sides.
Finally, the Bailey's icing. I remembered that the original recipe made a small amount, which was ideal because it was incredibly sweet. I'm so infatuated with Swiss buttercream after making it for psmee that I decided to hack SK's recipe by replacing the vanilla with Bailey's. It's the craziest icing - for what feels like forever, the KitchenAid swirls away at this gloppy lumpy white mess, and then suddenly, it takes. Worth the wait, and there is no other frosting, to my experience, that's more delicious, easier to work with, or more durable. Success!
As you can see, Cam's cake came out pretty great. He loved it. The only thing he worried about was the leftovers, significant for a household of 2. But! I threw him a tiny surprise party the following night, and the 8 of us managed to make short work of it.
It's a good thing, since I've got quite a few to attend this year! This weekend's going to be standout no matter what goes down at the next ones, though. One of my very best friends got married to a great guy, and I'm so excited for them to build a long future together. The newlyweds are off to Europe tomorrow, and I wish them a great trip! Here are a few of the things I won't soon forget about their nuptials and celebration.
1. There is a video of me twisting - from behind, with Cam, in my Lilly Pulitzer bridesmaid's dress - posted to Facebook. And I don't hate it - rather, I find it hilarious. My posture is tragic, as usual, though. 2. Wedding bands can actually be good! Bravo, "The New Monopoly." Bravo. I never thought I'd hear a band cover OutKast, "Scotty Doesn't Know," and Chubby Checker. And so much more. I'm not sure I've ever danced that much at a wedding! 3. The bride wrote a poem for the groom, which her cousin read at the ceremony. And it didn't suck, not even a little bit. 4. Sea Scallops rolled in shredded phyllo, fried crisp, and served on a bed of wilted spinach, lump crab and proscuitto ham. And Choptank Sweets. And carrot cake. And grade one tuna tartare with sushi rice, seaweed salad, pickled ginger and wasabi vinaigrette. Thank you so much for renting out the best restaurant in town! 5. Dancing with Cam. He's somewhat reluctant, generally, unless the music is old country or bluegrass. But every time a girlfriend grabbed my hand and hauled me back to the dancefloor, he was right behind me. And we had so much fun!
Next wedding is about 3 weeks away, my fabulous new cousin and her beloved are tying the knot in California and I can't wait. Let me back up and explain "new cousin." My aunt, my mom's only sister, got married for the first time when she was about 50, to an amazing man who has 4 daughters from his previous marriage. They all seem really nice, but one in particular is at a similar age and place in her life to my sister and me, and she and her fiancee couldn't have meshed more easily with my family if they tried. They're the coolest. Should be a very different event - much less preppy, much more granola, but equally lovely.
I actually think this meal is pretty good. Like, I look forward to it as it spins in the microwave. I don't dream about it, or even crave it, but yeah. I like it.
Full disclosure, I only resort to the ol' LC's when I'm too lazy or uninspired to pack something better. I'm a die-hard lunch-packer, and sometimes I just get burned out. Stay tuned for future confessions of this sort. There are a handful that aren't too bad. See the "Twice the Veggies" bit on the top corner? Key.
Please don't hate me! I still love good food! I promise! Let me tell you about the cake I baked for Cam, OK? I will. I mean it.
Good golly. It seems we are the proud owners of iPhone 3Gs's! Today has been too much fun. We got to the AT&T store around 6, as planned, and settled into a tiny line. An hour later, the pre-order folks went in, and by 7:30 they were letting us regular people in. We had the nicest woman help us - Chelsea - she made short work of transferring our two separate accounts, on different carriers, into one lovely little family plan bundle. Birthday plan #1, a total success, with no hassle and just enough of a "remember-that-time-we" memory to make it stick. Click on the picture, if you're so inclined - my little beauty takes quite a nice mobile photo!
Yup, we're nuts. You may know that already, but do you know the extent to which Cam and I have lost our minds?
About a year ago, Cam mentioned to me that he'd really like an iPhone. I was having none of it. "You're crazy," I said. "You constantly drop things, and your job is dangerous, and you'll lose it. No way. Bad idea." Of course, I don't have any authority over whether or not he buys one, but he took my concerns and thought some more.
Six months ago. "I want an iPhone." "You'll drop it or lose it."
Four months ago. "I want an iPhone." "Bad idea..."
...But secretly? I kind of wanted him to have it. See, last year, on his birthday, I was a reallllly bad girlfriend. How bad? I went away for the weekend with my girlfriends to celebrate all of us turning 30 that year. On his birthday. More than a month before I actually did turn 30.
He had a good birthday anyway, and I tried to make it up to him, but ever since then I've known I really have to hit it out of the park this year. So I started to think, "What if I did get him an iPhone? He'd never expect it, since I've been dead-set against it for all this time..."
Once I decided to go for it, and did the research, I realized 2 is better than one, money-wise. The service plan's a lot more reasonable. And my contract was up. So I decided we'd get two. So I just needed to try to delay him till his birthday. My awesome bro-il helped, sending me an article filled with rumors about a new model being released in June, just weeks before Cam's birthday. So I sent him that, and he was excited, but it was all just rumors. And when he came back from a big trip abroad, he broke the news to me: "I think I'm buying an iPhone."
I took a deep breath, then confessed my plan. So ever since then, it hasn't been a secret, and we've been having fun trading Apple rumors. Sadly, I never learned there was a pre-sale option, that one could order the phones and have them delivered to the AT&T store for pickup on the release date, June 19th. So here's how it's going to go down. AT&T stores will open at 7 for pre-sale lucky ducks, 9am for the massses. We are the masses. So we're planning to get in line at 6 tomorrow morning. Best believe I'll be bringing my camera, and the sweet camp chair Cam made an REI run for today. Wish us luck!
Because we're classy and have an enormous condo, Cam and I eat at the coffee table. We could eat in the breakfast nook, or the formal dining room, but that's absurd (and also more flat out lies. We have neither.). The coffee table's got shelves - a 2x3 grid of cubbies. Winston likes to lie in the one below my plate, per the above picture.
Then, at some point during the meal, he creeps out. Mom? Food? Me? Aren't I cute?
He then spends a lot of time staring at my plate, hoping. This is actually really polite behavior for him - he thinks nothing of standing up on his hind legs and fishing around on the counters for goodies. I'll try for a picture of that next.
Dinner, by the way, was rigatoni in a roasted red pepper & parmesan cream sauce, topped with windowsill basil, zucchini on the side. With homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Not too shabby!
I've recently come out of my cave a little bit by entering contests on a few of my favorite websites. What could it hurt, right? The Pioneer Woman has frequent, insanely awesome giveaways, which I love. Any excuse to visit her site, really. Tangentially, she also has a really simple philosophy about updating her blog: Do it daily, so people never waste their time visiting. Food for thought.
Anyway, it's the giveaway going on over at Decor8 today that sent me straight to my Blogger account. Holly Becker's giving away two Jonathan Adler gift certificates, and to enter the contest, you had to list 2-4 items you'd love to buy there. My typing wrists are resting in a puddle of drool after making my list. Here are my choices.
Pie-in-the-sky selection: chain rug Slightly closer to earth: meurice mirror And finally, affordable: helix bath jar
Of course, the likelihood I'll win contests on these fabulously popular sites is slim, but it's so fun to enter!
Me, for one. I've got that ridiculous bird in the oven right now. Ridiculous because he weighs 5lbs. I wanted a nice yummy organic birdie in the 3-4lb range, but ye olde Perdue was my only option. I think it'll be fantastic anyway. It's destined for the belly of my friend who could use some comfort food. We'll let you know how it turns out, because you need to know.
So, the many many wall-ready pictures aren't up yet. I'm weirdly indecisive about this particular decorating decision. Just about every piece of furniture we've got I've loved and felt sure about, and I know I want all those pics up, but I'm having a hard time with it. I need some opinions, but I think that'll be hard to do electronically. So would you please come over and help me with that? I'll feed you chicken!
So, the framing saga continues. While I was waiting on my custom frame job for that little zebra, I headed over to American Frame on my bro-il's recommendation. There, I picked out frames and mats for just about everything else we needed framed. I have to say - easy to use website, much less expensive than in a brick & mortar shop, and everything arrived quickly and with all the pieces. Some might see it as a drawback that they're covered in plexi, not actual glass, but it looks great and these aren't priceless heirlooms. I'm pretty pleased, I have to say.
Cam and I (OK, mostly Cam) assembled everything Monday night. Now the fun part - where are we going to hang all these beauties? Speaking of beauties, here are the credits, from L-R:
-A print of a tern we picked up on a daytrip to Ellicott City, MD -A signed, numbered Jay Ryan print from the Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs tour. This one's called "opposite day." Jay toured with Andrew and sold his prints, especially a collection of 14 based on Andrew's songs. And when Andrew came by work, Jay came along. He gave me a stack of his work - seriously, about a dozen different prints. They are each amazing. I gave some away, hung two in my cubicle, framed these 2, and have a few more. He's incredibly talented. -A papyrus from Cairo Cam brought back. It's of a big black cat. -"black and white and read all over" by Melissa Bryant, also known as mywireempire on Etsy. That's the one I got framed for $70. -Gingko leaves in a wreath from Bold&Noble, also available on Etsy. -Another Jay Ryan. I'm a lucky girl. This one's for "masterfade." -And another papyrus from Cairo. This one's my favorite of the stack Cam brought home.
Now we just have to figure out where to hang everything. That's the sort of project I enjoy!
Hi there! Check out my little runner girl, down there on the left - she's so pleased! Just synced some new runs. Post to come tomorrow night, a follow-up to the framing post - we now have 6 framed beauties in need of wallspace, and I had a top-secret project that turned out well, so details soon. Sleep well, my friends!