It’s a Cake!

I baked a cake… and took several pictures. It was the first time i’ve used my cake decorating tools on a full cake, so I was a wee bit excited that it wasn’t a disaster! It was both my parents birthdays recently, and I wanted something classic, but still pretty to look at. End result, classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

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I picked up some sparkler candles to test out. They didn’t sparkle, much to my dismay. A new brand will need to be tried next time.  On a funnier note, they kept relighting as well, even after blown out. They weren’t advertised as trick candles, but they added some extra entertainment to the birthday celebrations.

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake

I’ve been on a bit of a baking kick lately. Any thoughts on what to attempt next?

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A Springtime Cocktail, and a Pinterest Success

Its been fairly springlike in Seattle, and considering spring started a few days ago, it’s nice that the city is staying on track seasonally 😉 With the turn of the seasons, I was in the mood for a spring cocktail. Now my extent of cocktail mixing has consisted of pouring either wine or whiskey into glasses, but I am determined to expand my skills. In my never ending quest to actually make things I find on pinterest, I was pleased to find this fairly simple cocktail recipe, and was further inspired to make in once I realized it was a Joy the Baker concoction (Love her, and all her recipes).

Original Recipe:

Pimm’s Cup Cocktail

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Pour a shot and a half of Pimm’s over ice.

Add cucumber and lemon wedges, squishing them in there to release the juices.

Top with some delicious ginger ale.

Enjoy!

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I’m happy this recipe isn’t ending up on my pinterest fail board, never to be tried again. I’ve had some real doozies lately, but I will pin on.

Happy monday everyone!

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Birthday Blog

Guess What? It’s my blogger birthday! Shenanigans has officially existed for one year! I thought this might be a passing fad for me, last a couple of months and then fade into obscurity and disappear from my radar. Alas no, it has happily become a place to document my happenings and my projects. So yay! Here is to you blog, Happy Birthday (and really, any reason to buy a trophy cupcake and drink tea)!

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Did you make a wish? I did.

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Semi Sweet Pistachio Torte

For years I thought I couldn’t bake. What it really comes down to, is that I cannot bake chocolate chip cookies. Even though I followed the recipes to the letter, batches and batches of cookies have been turned into puddles, bricks, and charred black circles. I can even destroy tollhouse ready made cookie dough… I’m not kidding, ask my mother. Once I realized that I seem to be the bermuda triangle for cookies, I started testing out some different types of dessert making, and joyously discovered that I can indeed make other tasty treats.

Now that my baking mystery has been solved, I have loved making the desserts for my family’s holiday gatherings. This year for Christmas I tried out Martha Stewart’s (love her) recipe for Chocolate Pistachio Torte and it turned out amazing, so I thought I’d share a few things I learned along the way.

Original recipe link here:

http://www.marthastewart.com/313305/chocolate-pistachio-torte?czone=entertaining/holiday-entertaining/holidaycenter-foods&gallery=923519&slide=313305&center=276958

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Many of Martha Stewarts recipes call for a double boiler, which I don’t own. Not realizing that I needed one until after I bought the ingredients and got started, I came up with the above contraption and it worked great! I filled the pot about 1/3 of the way up, placed my cooling rack on top and then placed a heat safe pyrex with my butter and chocolate on top of that. It took about the same amount of time as a double boiler would have, and still gave it the right consistency.

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A bit of my cake stuck to the pan while baking, as I don’t think I floured well enough. Fortunately the chocolate ganache filled in the whole 😉

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Ta Da!

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I think this is the closest one of my desserts has ever come to resembling the original picture. I was quite pleased!

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And a little ravenous.

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Don’t worry, If I can do it, you can do it!

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I Am Thankful

I LOVE Thanksgiving! Who doesn’t love a holiday based on spending time with loved ones and eating really delicious food? I got to spend a whole long weekend at home, eating good food, baking, black friday shopping, and spending time with friends. Here are a few of my favorite things from this past weekend.

My star studded apple pie. Boy was it yummy!

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This is what happens when I request to take a picture while my dad is carving the turkey, and my sister is making gravy.

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Which quickly erupts into giggles!

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Isn’t Leavenworth lovely with all it’s Christmas lights? I still remember the first time I saw Leavenworth at Christmas, it was magical. The only thing that was missing this weekend was a fresh blanket of snow.

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My wee little Charlie Brown Christmas tree. I love it. It’s three feet of Christmas excellence!

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I hope your holiday season is starting well!!

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Macarons and Bubbly

The first time I tasted a Macaron I was 20. There isn’t much call for these delicate cookies in Leavenworth, so I didn’t partake in one until someone convinced me to buy one while I was in London. At first I wasn’t sure what could be so special about this tiny cookie that I should part with my limited travel funds to try one. Assured that it would be worth it, I took my first bite.

It WAS worth it, and thus began my obsession.

Upon my return to Seattle, I quickly set out to find the best local macarons, so as not to have to wait for my next venture to Europe. I have found a few places that definitely meet my needs, but simply cannot justify the exorbitant price for one cookie more than once every month or two. Thus, the plan was born to learn to make my own! Knowing that it was going to be one tricky cookie, when I came across Cake Envy’s Macarons and Bubbly class, I was in.

Full glasses of bubbly in hand, we got to work 🙂

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Our instructor demonstrated the process first, pointing out all the little tips and tricks to help us with these finicky cookies. She made it look so easy!

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The color looks so bright before the flower is added.

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Ours weren’t quite as even or pretty. Alas, practice will only make me better and I’ll get to eat all of my delicious mistakes along the way.

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Time to fill!

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Only about half of our cookies turned out, due to over-mixing the meringue and under-mixing the flour, but I think it went pretty successfully for a first try.

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Armed with a bag of cookies we made and Cake Envy’s macaron recipe, I finished my champagne with the other ladies, chatting and snacking on our treats. We were all very excited about our new found skill and can’t wait to practice in our own kitchens.

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Here goes…

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Crunch…

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Good heavens thats delicious!

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Now I just have to make these in my apartment. Yikes!

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Life Lately in Photos

I learned to make tortillas! So much easier than I thought it was going to be. Now I just need to buy a tortilla press, so I don’t have to borrow my friends.IMG_1592 IMG_1593 IMG_1595

Went to the Gerald… One of my favorite restaurants in Seattle. Seriously, go and don’t order off the drink menu. Just tell the bartenders what you like, and let them surprise you. Chances are they will bring you something delicious that you would otherwise never have thought to order.

http://www.thegeraldseattle.com/

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Also, their grilled cheese with apple slaw, is to die for.

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T’s good friend from college was in town this past weekend, so I of course spent some quality time with those silly boys.

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Meet Millie! My new hat making friend. I’ve been meaning to try out making some new hair accessories, and Millie will be my new helper. Not gonna lie though, she’s a little bit creepy, especially when you walk around the corner in the dark, and there is a large styrofoam head illuminated in moonlight sitting on your ironing board.

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I made my first ever meringues! Filled with a lemon/orange curd, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. They weren’t very pretty, but they turned out really delicious. I was pretty pleased since I have never made anything like it before. Light and delicious, perfect for a summertime treat!

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Lately I’ve been….

Reading– Geisha by Liza Dalby, the only women of non-Japanese origin to become a Geisha. Liza’s book gives a fascinating look at what this world actually looks like, breaking down a lot of Western ideas and stereotypes of what this culture involves.

Listening To– A whole lot of country music. What can I say, it doesn’t feel like summer without country. Particularly  Cruisin, and Wagon Wheel, by Florida Georgia Line and Old Crow Medicine Show.

Watching– Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns…. it just doesn’t get old.

Eating– Boatloads of hummus and Castelvetrano Olives.

Enjoying– Sitting at my sewing machine again, it’s been too long since I had any weekend time to sew.

Looking Forward To– Fall! As much as I love summer, Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. I love the sweaters, the weather, the football (at least the idea of it), the smell of new school supplies even though I have no reason to buy them anymore, pumpkins, and boots! My beautiful boots have been gathering dust in my closet for too long!

Happy Monday!

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Home Again

Every once in awhile, it’s just nice to go home. I try to make it over the mountains to my parents once every few months, to get out of the city and really relax. Now normally I spend this time lying around, visiting with my parents, sister, and nephews, reading, and eating home cooked meals, but his time, I tried to make it a bit more adventurous.

I love that I can still find new things to do around my home town! Provided, it is a tourist driven town, so surrounding areas are always trying to come up with new draws for the people, so it’s most likely easier for me to find new things around Leavenworth WA, than other areas of the same size. Either way, I had a lovely weekend at home with my dear family!

First stop, Crazy Larry’s Berries, for some good ole fashioned blueberry picking. My mom usually goes every summer to pick enough to freeze and last her through the winter. I usually steal a few of these bags of goodness, but since I was home this year, I figured I would go along and pick my own. We made this a lovely little group outing by bringing along my Dad, and my sweet little 5 year old nephew.

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The little nephew was thrilled that they had a spiderman bucket  for him to use. Each childs bucket holds 1 lb and he filled two all by himself!

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Proper lessons in blueberry picking from Grammy!

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We picked about 30 lbs of berries. I only took about 5 home, so I may need to snag a few bags out of my mom’s freezer when I run out (wink wink ;)).

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The berries are so deliciously plump and sweet. I had to stop myself from eating just as many as I picked!

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We also tried out a new winery just down the road from my parents house, Plain Cellars. They are just getting the place up and running, as it has only been open for about a month, but it was well worth a visit. One of the owners was working the tasting room, and was perfectly happy to give my parents and I a plethora of info on the winery and the wines we would be tasting. I love when people are passionate about what they do, and this gent was so happy to have us and share his love of wine.

http://www.plaincellars.com/index.html

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My parents, still happy to share each others company :).

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I totally get my sass and sarcasm from them, and boy am I the happier for it!

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My mum insisted on getting a photo of me…. in all my too much sun, allergy glory. Oh well, at least there was wine!

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There is even a faithful/friendly watch dog to keep the customers in line.

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I came away with a bottle of the Petit Sirah and the Eclipse blend. They were definitely my favorites, though I was pleasantly surprised by the riesling, which is shocking as I have never found a riesling that I am willing to drink before. It’s good to know that there is a place for good wine, so close to home.

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All in all, a lovely weekend home! Hopefully i’ll find something new and lovely around Leavenworth next time i’m home as well.

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