Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Channeling my inner Ree.....

For the last few years one of my favorite blogs I follow is The Pioneer Woman.  I initially started reading her blog because of all the posts about her basset hound, Charlie -- then as time went on I started to enjoy her photography tips and cooking posts.  As some of you are aware, she now has a show on The Food Network -- so now I'm also following her on television.  One of the reasons why I like her is she has a really laid back style and cooking seems to come naturally -- something that I can not identify with.  Cooking has never been something that I've felt confident in, and I'm trying to change that.  This year I've set out to write down a number of things I'd like to accomplish, habits I'd like to break, habits I'd like to start, and new things I'd like to try.  One of the numerous things I'd like to try is cooking more at home.

Today I decided to try my hand at baking something new.  Peanut butter-filled brownie cupcakes. Mmmmmm..... it just sounded delicious.  My mom had told me about the recipe she had found in a magazine and had left the recipe at my house last time they were in town.  It seemed really easy to make, so I gathered all the ingredients together last night and made them this afternoon.  They turned out pretty good!

Last time I was at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, I picked up these silicone muffin cups -- they are reusable, how cool is that?  Unfortunately, I didn't think to wash them before I started on my baking adventure, so I had to use the paper cupcake liners last minute.  Next time though, I'll definitely be busting out the Betty Crocker silicone cups!

Anyway, the ingredient list is pretty small actually -- definitely a plus for the novice baker.  Anything to complicated and I lose interest fast.  Basically you need one box fudge brownie mix, peanut butter, cream cheese, mini semisweet chocolate morsels, eggs, sugar, and oil.  Basically the only thing I needed to go to the store for were the mini morsels.

You prepare the brownie mix according to the instructions on the box, then add 1/2 cup of the mini semisweet morsels to the mixture. 

To make the peanut butter filling you combine 3 tbsp softened cream cheese, 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter, one egg, and 1/4 cup sugar -- mix until smooth.

Then you fill the cupcake liners 1/3 full with the brownie mix.

Next you add drops of the peanut butter mixture to the cups.

Finally, you fill the remainder of the cups up with the brownie mixture.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  I actually had to cook mine for about 30 minutes, but that is typical for my oven, I always have to cook everything longer than the recipe calls -- I think my oven doesn't run as hot.  I should probably just cook everything about 25 degrees hotter than the recipe calls for.

Once your brownie cupcakes are done baking, you want to cool them in the pan for 10 minutes, then take them out of the pan and finish cooling them on a wire rack.  Don't they look delicious?!?  Store them in the refrigerator after they are finished cooling.

Yummmmm!!  Enjoy!!

Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman is coming to Third Place Books in Bothell on Tuesday, April 24th at 6pm. I think I'm going to try and get one of her cookbooks signed. Let me know if you're interested in joining me :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Belated Christmas Post -- Snow Day Edition

Merry Christmas Friends!

So I'm a little late getting to this post -- business as usual as far as my blog is concerned :)  I have a lot of goals written down for 2012, but not one of them includes this blog. Why? Because whenever I've made promises regarding my sweet blog in the past I've failed miserably. I've blog failed, so to speak. I figure if I, henceforth, have no expectations for this online diary situation I can't really let anyone, or myself, down. Sure, sure, I'd love to be the Pioneer Woman or Dooce of Seattle, but that just isn't in the cards. For one, my cooking and photography skills are crap compared to most bloggers I follow. And two, most bloggers I follow work from their home so they seem to be able to squeak in some blog time inbetwixt tending to their career and family duties.  I should probably quit my job so I can blog more.

Onward! Christmas 2011 flew by like bird shit with Paul Newman's face on it. If you've never heard that saying before then you obviously are not a Pauly Shore fan. I wouldn't call myself a fan, per se, but I'm familiar with his work. He released a comedy album in the 90's that remained on repeat in my life for a good year. Gina knows what I'm talking about -- we had that whole album memorized. Anywho, what I'm saying is Christmas came and went, quickly. The swiftness of it's presence was not lengthened any by the fact that I had to work the day before and the day after Christmas. The holidays are just not the same when you are a single adult. My days run together, but I'm cool with it. I'm sure if I had some sprouts running around I'd discover the magic of Christmas again. But my womb is a barren and rocky place, where no seed has found purchase.  So basically what I'm saying is Christmas can suck on deez n-u-teez.

With that said, I got some pretty bomb stuff this Christmas. Here's a breakdown of this year's spoils.

Cricut cartridge holder. Perfect for the scrapper on-the-go. And one of my goals for 2012 is to scrap more! So this will be a useful tool when scrappin' at another location. Each slot holds the key pad, cartridge, and booklet. It's purdy cool. Thanks Gina!

The Hunger Games books. Since these suckers came out I've heard nothing but positive praise about them. Another of my goals for 2012 is to read one book per month. I used to read a bunch when I was younger, and for some reason I got out of the reading habit a few years ago and have been missing those stories. 2012 is going to be my book nerd year. And The Hunger Games books will fill up 3 of those 12 spaces. I'm hoping I actually read more than a book each month, but again, I don't like setting unrealistic goals for myself. I'm working on trying to read more pre-sleep. I think I'll be able to bust out some serious stories as a before bed ritual. Thanks for the books, Paula!

As most of you know, I had to have my gall bladder removed in the spring of 2010. Although I am super pumped to never experience a gall stone attack again, I do miss the role my gall bladder played in the digestion of food. For those of you that don't know what the gall bladder does, I'll drop a knowledge bomb on you, right here, right now. The gall bladder is a holding tank for bile, the liquid that helps your body break down fats. My doctor described bile as a Dawn soap of sorts. Breaks down grease, works great on stains. Well, breaks down fats mostly. Anyway, without that holding tank for the bile, my liver is constantly dribbling out bile. This constant dribble makes my digestion somewhat unpredictable. I live in constant fear of going boom boom in my pants (only partially true), and I've heard stories from other people regarding their unpredicable digestion after gall bladder removal. Stories that make you want to carry an extra change of clothes with you everywhere, as if you are an infant. Pretty attractive, huh? Please contact me if you'd like me to go into great detail regarding my unpredictable digestion, then we can make out and feel eachother private parts, over our clothes of course. Where am I going with this story? Big sister got me a new gall bladder for Christmas!!

It doesn't really function quite as well as a real gall bladder, but she didn't have to kill anyone for it. And it isn't suffering from chronic infection like mine was prior to removal. You too can buy yourself an organ if you visit the I Heart Guts website! My sister and Mike also got me some other bad ass swag.  Check out these coasters!

No longer am I worrying about damaging my mahogany furniture pieces (everything sounds more expensive when you refer to it as a "piece" unless of course you're referring to it as a "piece" of shit) with Cristal overflowing the sides of my diamond encrusted champagne flutes. In true Hilton Sister fashion, we both got eachother a mix-n-match set of these coasters from the same vendor at this year's Urban Craft Uprising. We also got eachother necklaces from the same vendor. Silly sisters! We must have been birthed out of the same vagina!

My necklace, as you can see, is birds. The one I purchased for Chris was a deer. She's a sucker this season for deer. The lovely artist can be found at Fernworks.

Some gorgeous prints by Rachel Ann Austin. I've been eyeing her work at the last few Urban Crafts, so I'm happy Chris sprung for them. Now I just need to get them framed and I'll be set! My plan is to put them up in my office / scrapbooking space, which I hope to revamp in 2012 (another thing on my list of shit to get done in 2012 -- busy year folks!). 

Spuzz was not left out of the Christmas spirit! Chris and Mike got him this Oh! Nooooo! stuffed toy. I can't help but laugh whenever I look at it. It looks like it has the mouth of a blow-up doll. Spuzz doesn't seem to notice or care. He packs it around like all his other toys. Although his mouth isn't big enough to squeeze it's mid-section to make the Oh! Nooooo! sound play. I have to do that part for him. It's a big job, but he's my lil' guy!

What would Christmas be without buying a few presents for yourself, right? I've been big in to different types of tape and stamps for my scrapbooking and Smash booking stash. I found these gems one day at Anthropologie when I was checking out all the clothes that I can't fit my fat fanny in.  Anthropologie needs to look into making clothes for the more curvaceous female. I'm sure I'm not the only mid-30's woman with an ass that looks like a bag of wet clothes that is willing to burn $175 on a pair of vintage inspired denim sailor pants.

Hope your Christmas was fantastic!        

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Santa Fe -- Wrappin' It Up!

Alrighty, I'm going to try and wrap up my Santa Fe trip in this post because truthfully, I'm ready to move on. Plus, with the weather being kinda shitty while I was there, I didn't get that great of photos. And blog posts are so much better with photos, no?

So on my third day in New Mexico, we stayed in Santa Fe and went to a place called Canyon Road -- a shopping and art gallery section of town. It was really cute and it wasn't raining -- probably one of my favorite days in Santa Fe!  There are so many art galleries in Santa Fe - it is incredible. Lots of sculptures everywhere. We stopped to look in a few shops along Canyon Road and found a cute little area with a ton of brass sculptures.

I think my dad was pretty pumped to get to sit next to Mark Twain.

I liked this not-so-little-piggy. If I had an extra $15,000 dollars hanging around, I would have brought him home to live out his days in my back yard.

I thought this archways was super cool - for those nerds out there, those brick like pieces are actually books, complete with little kid reading on top.

This lady was incredible in person.  In this same area there was a home decor and furniture store called Leslie Flynt. I found and fell in love with a cabinet by David Marsh. I didn't think I'd end up buying a piece of furniture in Santa Fe, but I thought why not?  I loved it and I had a way to have it transported back to Washington, so it was a done deal.  Here's a photo of it in my house, still love it:

It's bright, quirky, and one of a kind. Not something I'd probably ever find in Seattle, and it will remind me of my trip to Santa Fe forever.  Definitely my favorite acquisition from my trip.

Santa Fe is super colorful -- lots of bright colors and bright signage.  And art, lots and lots of art.

On my fourth day in New Mexico, we drove to Albuquerque -- to the plaza of course :)  I didn't take but a few photos because the weather sucked, again. Did get some red hot chili pepper shots though!

My last day in Santa Fe, we went back to the plaza in town. My mom and I had both seen some souvenir items that we wanted to pick up.  And of course, we had to check out The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

This church was, by far, the nicest one we had visited the whole trip. Lots of super cool stained glass.

We decided to take a few photos outside as well.  I think I ended up getting in to like 2 photos on this trip, this is one of them.

Despite the cruddy weather during my trip, I'm glad I was able to check out Santa Fe! If you're ever in the area, definitely worth stopping by for a few days. Not sure when, or if, I'll ever visit again, but I'm happy to check it off my list of places I want see :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Santa Fe -- Part Two

On my second full day in New Mexico, we went for a long drive to Taos.  We took "the high road" there, which was this really narrow, windy road through the mountains. At one point the two lane road turned into a one lane road and I thought for sure we were going to meet our maker. Luckily we made it to Taos in one piece. More on that later. 

On our way to Taos, we stopped at another church in a town called Chimayo.  My mom and I had fun singing "Schlameezle Chimayo Hassenpepper Incorporated!" (our version of the Laverne & Shirley theme song) all the way there. The church is well known for being a place of miraculous healings. There is a small room off the sanctuary of the church that holds photos of people that are praying for miracles for either themselves or people they know -- there are also a bunch of abandoned crutches, wheelchairs, walkers, and casts of people that have come to the church and have been healed. In that room there is also a little hole in the ground filled with dirt.  Supposedly the dirt has healing powers.  People come and rub their hands in the dirt, or take some of the dirt with them when they leave to heal a family member back home. Here are a few pictures from our trip to Chimayo:

My parents at the entrance up to the church. Pretty cool doorway!

Entrance to the church -- pretty rustic, but beautiful.

There was an area where you could light a candle and say a prayer.  My mom bought a candle in the gift shop and said a prayer for our family.  Coincidentally, while we were there, they held mass. My dad decided to stay and check it out while my mom checked out the grounds, gift shop, and small street in town. We managed to get talked in to buying some spices by a smooth talking Chimayo resident. I managed to find the oldest, mangiest dog resident in Chimayo. I love a crusty old dog - wanted to take this guy home.

After leaving Chimayo, we made our way to Taos. It was there we decided to fill our starving bellies with only the most authentic New Mexican quisine -- Applebee's. I think by this point in our journey all three of us were so ready to not be in the car, we didn't care what sort of food we were eating. It was at this point that my mom wrapped one of her fried mozzarella cheese sticks up in a napkin and put it in her purse for future snacking purposes. I think she also put about 5 jam packets in her purse as well. You never know when you're going to happen upon a rogue piece of toast and need some jam. She'll be covered. Can I offer you some orange marmalade? Why yes, thank you!

Mom enjoying her cold cheese stick on drive back to Santa Fe
While in Taos, we visited the "plaza" -- it seems like every New Mexican town has a plaza with a church and lots of shops. While in Taos the sky opened up and dumped an ass ton of rain. It was like torrential down pour type of rain -- rain you only see in the desert.  The Pacific Northwest may be known for its rainy climate, but we had nothing on the rain in Taos that day. It was like build your arc and put on your water wings because we'll be lucky if we don't wash away type rain. So we headed back to Santa Fe.

More Santa Fe to come......

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Checked Santa Fe off my bucket list ;)

Santa Fe was never actually on my bucket list -- but it was a place that, if given a reason to go there, I'd visit. My parents have travelled several times to the American Southwest, and like Santa Fe quite a bit. So when they decided to go on a trip to the southwest this past fall, I decided to meet up with them during their stay in Santa Fe.

I arrived in Albuquerque, NM on a Sunday in early October.  My parents picked me up at the airport and we made the roughly one hour drive to Santa Fe.  They had parked their RV at a campground just a few miles outside of Santa Fe. During the week I was visiting, the Balloon Fiesta was going on in Albuquerque -- a hot air balloon festival where balloonists from all over the country, and world, come to get their balloon on.  So the RV park was pretty busy.  Lucky for all the balloonists, I brought the rain with me from Seattle. The week I was in Santa Fe it rained, torrentially, for like 3 days.  Yay! Vacation!

My parents and I didn't really have a set itinerary for my trip. We had a rough outline of what we planned on doing each day, mostly shopping and visiting churches.  There is one exact buttload of churches in New Mexico. My first full day in Santa Fe, we drove to The Plaza and checked out quite a few shops -- so much art and jewelry in Santa Fe!

Lots of adobe, archways, and crosses.

This is the San Miguel Mission -- apparently the oldest church in the United States. I was having a hard time believing this, but I guess it is true. I mean, oldest Catholic church maybe. I can't imagine the Native Americans didn't have some sort of place where they would worship their gods before Christianity was brought over.

Lots of ornate alters. Pews. All things Catholic. Peace be with you, and also with you.

Here's my mom next to, what I assume, is some sort of important historical bell. If you know my mom, you know that she pretty much says whatever she is thinking, as she thinks it. At least in front of people she feels comfortable with. Which makes for some pretty entertaining situations. One of my favorite lines of hers, from the entire trip, was said while we were in the San Miguel Mission. We were looking at some sort of ancient nativity scene, carved out of some sort of stone that looked weathered and falling apart, and she points at the baby Jesus in the nativity and says "Hey, look, they left the balls on that kid!" Love it!!

Across the street from the oldest church in the US, was the oldest house in the US. I'm still skeptical. I've been told I need to just have faith, but these claims seem somewhat hard to believe. I mean, really?!? The oldest house in the US is located in New Mexico? I'm not losing sleep over this, but lets just say I could probably write a 5 paragraph essay supporting my argument about why this house probably isn't the oldest house in the US.

Oldest house in the US had a pretty colorful doorway next door.

About a block from the San Miguel Mission is another church called the Loreto Chapel.  The Loreto Chapel if famous for it's spiral staircase that was built by a mysterious stranger who built the staircase then skipped town. Long story short -- when the Chapel was built, the genius who drew the blueprints failed to connect the choir loft to the main floor of the church -- so no one could actually get up to the choir loft without use of a ladder. That is a lawsuit waiting to happen. So the nuns prayed and prayed and prayed -- and what happened? Some strange man arrived in town and built a spiral staircase using no nails, only wooden pegs -- then boned out after he was finished. No joke. No one knows who the guy was or how the staircase hasn't fallen to the ground yet. A movie was made about the story called "The Inexplicable Stairs" and it stars Barbara Hershey as one of the nuns. It was playing in the gift shop while we were there.

Pretty impressive staircase. No nails people, no nails.

Outside of Loretto Chapel.

First day of my trip to Santa Fe? Success! In my next trip installment, I will cover our trip to Taos.

Bailey shot! While Spuzz was contracting kennel cough back at home, I was cheating on him with Bailey, my parent's cute lil' Westie.