Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So hip I might need a replacement

Read this post by Falvorwire on stereotyping people by their favorite indie bands, it's pretty funny.

These ones were my favorite:

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Girls who bought checkered sneakers in the 8th grade.

Fleet Foxes
Hopelessly patchy beard growers.

TV On The Radio
Politically-correct hipsters.

Joanna Newsom
People who have considered befriending a squirrel.

Devendra Banhart
People who have considered becoming a squirrel.

Bon Iver
People with self-esteem issues and probably hate Ben Gibbard.

Tegan & Sara
Lesbians and guys who firmly believe that when there are two girls on stage together, there is a 63% chance of them making out.

The Flaming Lips
Self-actualized bros who grow pot.

Sufjan Stevens
People who believe in two things: Jesus and Juno.

Arcade Fire
Frequent transcendental experience havers.

Bros who drink shitty beer without ironic intentions.

Although everyone knows indie kids don't like to be stereotyped. And my favorite indie band wasn't even on the list...maybe I'm just so indie they can't keep up :)

Merry Christmas Everyone, I hope you all have a lovely holiday weekend with friends and family and all the wonderful food, libations and drama that goes along with it.

I'm off to Carmel in t-minus 1 hour, that is if I can get myself off this couch to do it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas party treats

It was a success.

The boys birthday cake looked festive and pretty.

The food at the Christmas party ended up going really well. Like almost nothing was left, and seeing as I was too busy to take pictures of it all before I put it on the table there are pretty much only pictures of the scraps. This was my first Christmas party, and the first time I ever hosted and cooked all of the food myself. I'm proud to say that it all got rave reviews, especially the coconut cupcakes, peppermint cake, peppermint fudge and brie en croute.

Riley was our mascot, she HATED her outfit. So she protested by staying still. The outfit came off pretty soon there after.

The coconut cupcakes were perfectly moist and not too sweet, and if you like the texture of coconut they would make a great dessert for a party any time of year. Here's the recipe:

What you need:

3 sticks of butter
2 cups of sugar
5 extra large eggs at room temp.
1.5 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
1.5 teaspoons of pure almond extract
3 cups of flour
1 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of kosher salt
1 cup of buttermilk
14 oz sweetened shredded coconut

For the frosting:

1 lb of cream cheese, room temp
3 sticks of unsalted butter, room temp
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
1.5 lbs of confectioners sugar, sifted

What you do:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 min. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the almond and vanilla extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In 3 parts alternately, add the dry ingredients, and the buttermilk into the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined, fold into 7 oz of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners, fill each liner to the top with the batter, bake for 25 to 35 min, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool.

For making the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners sugar and mix until smooth. Frost the cupcakes and cover the tops with the remaining coconut. I did this by dipping the frosted top into a bowl full of coconut.

I'm adding the fudge recipe because I have always had a hard time making fudge, it's always been difficult for me for some reason and this one was so easy to make and took no time at all.

Peppermint fudge:

3 cups of sugar
1.5 sticks of butter
1 small 5 oz can of evaporated milk
1.5 packages (12 squares) of bakers semi sweet baking chocolate chopped
1 jar Jet-Puffed marshmallow creme
1 cup of chopped planters walnuts (I didn't put these in)
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 tsp of peppermint extract

Line 9 inch square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan, set aside.
Place sugar, butter and evaporated milk in large heavy saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil on medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 4 minutes or until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees, stirring constantly to to prevent scorching , remove from heat.
Add chocolate and marshmallow creme stir until completely melted. Add walnuts, vanilla and peppermint, mixing well.
Pour immediately into prepared pan, spread to form an even layer. Let stand at room temperature for 4 hours or until completely cooled, cut into 1 inch squares.


Monday, December 21, 2009

looking good

Why does she insist on look fabulous all the time? Even when she's wearing a throw as an outfit? This woman is B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Party time, excellent.

Christmas party tomorrow night! I spent all day today prepping food and baking. It makes tomorrow a lot easier and I don't want to be one of those hostess' that spends all her time in the kitchen, I want to be out enjoying my time with friends and having a killer party. Today was the boys birthday and unfortunately because of our prep for tomorrow so far it's been uneventful. But we're heading out to a movie and drinks afterward I hope.

Here's the menu for tomorrow:


Spiked cider with cranberry ice cubes


Stuffed mushrooms
Brie en croute
baby quiches
italian chicken sticks
Artichoke dip
deviled eggs
bread roll wreath


Peppermint fudge
coconut cupcakes
chocolate cake with peppermint topping

I'll provide some of the recipes next week, providing it all tastes good

Here's my inspiration for the week:

Have a great weekend!!

All photos courtesy of Martha Stewart.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

getting crafty over ETSY

Did anyone see this article in the Times about Etsy? Pretty interesting, and inspiring.

I'm mad at Christmas

From this:

To this:

I'm tired of Christmas posts. I'm moving on.

I caught the very beginning of an interview on NPR's Fresh Air with Terri Gross where she talked with Tom Ford about his directorial debut, A Single Man. It was so interesting I went back and listened to the whole thing.

I need to see this movie.

It stars Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. Based on a short story from the 60's by Christopher Isherwood, Colin Firth plays a professor who's long time partner dies and he's so grief stricken he decides to end his life. The movie follows him through his last day as he tries to get his affairs in order and decide if his life is worth living without his lover. It seems so heartbreaking and romantic all in one. I love Colin Firth and I love that Tom Ford decided to do this movie. Dare I say it seems like a Mad Men-esque film but with a more moving plot.

It appears to have gotten great reviews and it is even getting golden globe nods. It seems to only be playing in certain areas (damn you NY and LA) at the moment, but I suggest you check it out if you're in to artsy films as I am.

I'm not surprised that someone so talented as Tom Ford would want to pursue other forms of art but I am surprised that his first film is making such big waves in the film community already and it only came out a few days ago. I suppose from someone who is so driven by the details in things (you can hear that in his interview describing the fashion for the film) that his work would be good no matter what form it takes.

Anyone heard about or seen the film? Go check out the Fresh Air interview here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas decorating

I've finally finished...

I'm having a Christmas party on Saturday and I've finally finished picking up serving dishes (I didn't have ANY at all, at my age why would I?) and finished picking out the menu. I decorated the house from top to bottom getting ideas from all over the place, including the Martha Stewart ideas I posted earlier.
I took this idea from Martha Stewart's website and hung the snowflakes all over the ceiling with dental floss so it looks like it's snowing in the dining room...

I'm even making snow to put on the table around the food by using the left over paper scraps from making the snow flakes. This however, is proving to be messier and more time consuming than planned so I may stop at some point before saturday.

Now all I have left to do is grocery shop...ugh, my least favorite thing to do.

What are your favorite Christmas decorations? Have a lovely day.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Where did the love go?

Ok, I'm furious and I need to rant. I know that this is coming completely out of left field but since this is a forum for my mind and opinions for this I sure have one.

As a woman, this Tiger Woods thing has me in a tail spin. We hear about love affairs and cheating on tv all the time, but this really got me. I actually cried the other day out of anger for the mere fact that women aren't famous for being intelligent or working hard but rather for having a vagina and being a homewrecker.

When did this happen?! When did we as women reduce ourselves to being a life support system for a warm place to put it? Have none of our efforts to prove our worth meant anything at all? And then I hear these awful sexist and demeaning jokes about our gender and why am I surprised when we feed into it? I watched the interview with Jamie Jungers on TODAY this morning and I wanted to punch the tv. She didn't get any money only a broken heart?! Was she expecting money for sleeping with him (and yes, she did eventually ask for money)? And did she not have any idea that there might be other broken hearts in the mix? Say, the woman he stood before God with and married and maybe Oh, I don't know, his 2 small children? One barely out of the womb?

Have we no respect for other women? We stand beside each other and claim that together we will fight for respect but then go an stab each other in the back?

I feel like we're fed these messages from the feminist agenda, like "We're all in this together" or "We have each others backs" and I guarantee you if there were a girl in a bar getting the poor treatment from a dude a bunch of girls who don't even know her would stand up for her, but then what are we supposed to do afterward...go sleep with her husband? I'm sorry I didn't get the memo.

How have we done this? How have we ended up here? Where no marriage is sacred, Jamie Jungers says, “It was a thought in my mind, of course,” Jungers responded. “I mean, I’m not raised to do something like I did, and I’m not saying it’s OK … [but] I had a crush on Tiger for many years. I was very excited and honored that he was interested in me.”

Why couldn't you just say NO?! We're that selfish of a society, that we just don't care anymore. We don't care that people are married, we don't care that other people, including small children might get hurt in the deal, we don't care about respecting other women.

And this just breaks my heart.

I know that he's rich and famous, and maybe that makes his relationship more vulnerable, but I can tell you right now that this doesn't happen to just famous people, I was a child of a marriage just like that one, and I know many people who have been in the same situation.

But here's the thing, there are many men who are rich and famous for their success and the hard work that they have done, and there are many many women who are rich and famous for having sex with men. What kind of message does that send young women? You can work hard and be smart and maybe you'll be recognized for it or you could just go sleep with a rich and famous man and take the fast track? Just ask Marianne Faithfull or Pattie Boyd.

I know that it isn't women's faults that these things happen, theres a man there too, and the media have bought in to this and glorify these situations, but why has there been no one willing to take responsibility for this? And why can't women have more respect for themselves?

I'll end with this, and I'm sorry for my emotional explosion but I couldn't bear it any longer.

In response to a question from Vieira, Jungers said she is uncertain whether she feels like she owes Nordegren an apology for the year and a half she had an affair with Woods. “Yes, and no; I mean, I wouldn’t want somebody to do it to me, but I’m not going to take full blame for this,” she said.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Martha Style

I really like Martha Stewart, I love watching how bossy she is to her guests, she's not intimidated by anybody. I also especially love that she went to prison, and then came back from it...Tiger you should take some notes on how to recover gracefully. I don't usually buy craftsy magazines like Real Simple or Martha Stewart, I get overwhelmed; so I ignore them. There are times when I break down though and pull one off the shelf and throw it down with the rest of my groceries, and that would be right around Christmas time.

So I did, I broke down and got the Martha Stewart magazine Christmas edition. Probably because she looks so lovely on the cover, and there were sparkles...and really cute dogs in fabulous outfits.

She did an article on artificial trees and how to work with them and all the colors that they come in. She said she buys vintage ones and uses a simple color combination on each one.

I like the idea of vintage but I'm not really an artificial tree kinda gal, I love the way a real Christmas tree makes the house smell. I know it's not environmentally friendly and I know it saves money in the long run to buy an artificial one, but there's something so magical to me about going and picking up a tree and bringing it home to set up and decorate, as opposed to pulling it out of the box and following instructions. However, all of the trees supposedly set up in her house are all different colors and each one is really beautiful, especially the gold and lime green ones. I guess that's the point of an artificial tree, you buy ones that don't look real, and that's the way they're supposed to be. I did see a pink one the other day, that I really liked, but I knew the boy would freak if I brought it home. And if you had as many rooms and hallways as she does it might be fun to set up a different colored one in each room.

She also had crafts in there I liked, things like how to make these cute angel ornaments on this tree, or cover your candles in frost, which is basically to paint on decoupage glue and roll them in salt. And an instructional article on how to make these really beautiful delicate little knit wheels without knitting at all that you can turn in to ornaments, or things like this gorgeous scarf.

She included a recipe for croquembouche, and it's so pretty, I'm thinking about making it for my Christmas party I'm having in a week. It looks like a lot of work but they swear it's easier than it looks.

I loved this table setting, it's really fantastic, and would be lovely for just about anything, not just Christmas.

So there you have it, my highlights from the Christmas edition of Martha Stewart. I suppose all the inspiration it gave me was worth my moment of weakness.

Have a lovely day.

Chocaholics Beware

I was going to do a post today on the new Martha Stewart magazine Christmas edition that I just got, and I will probably do that in about 5 minutes; but, I have to share this first. And once you have picked yourself up off the floor from the chocolate induced coma you will thank me. Promise.

It's no secret that I love the Barefoot Contessa. I watch her show just about every morning and I love her more and more every day. When I find out little things like she used to work in nuclear energy research, or be an adviser on energy policy to the White House, I just want to give her a big big hug. She's awesome. Anyway, she did a 40th wedding anniversary episode the other day for her and her husband, it was really cute, and her dessert almost killed me dead. She said when Jefferey was in college she would send him care packages full of brownies so she decided to make him a brownie pudding for their dessert, cute huh?

Ok, here goes...2 questions:

Do you like chocolate?
And when you eat brownies do you like it when they're just out of the oven all warm and gooey and you totally eat the ones from the middle first because they're the gooiest? If yes this ones for you:

Brownie pudding, she says its like brownies and pudding in one, I say its basically warm brownie batter that you have an excuse to eat that way. I read the reviews on it and people were like, "Oh, it's too rich," or "Oh, it's just warm brownie batter;" both of which sound fabulous to me.

What you need:

2 sticks of butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups of sugar
3/4 cup of cocoa powder
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
seeds scraped from a vanilla bean*
1 tablespoon of framboise liquer, optional. I didn't use it.
Vanilla ice cream for serving
* (I find this unnecessary, I just put in vanilla extract, or you could use a few tablespoons of extra strong coffee to bring out the chocolate flavor. I went to buy the vanilla beans? They are EXPENSIVE. I mean like $8 for 1 bean)

What you do:

Preheat the oven to 325. Butter a 9 x 2 x 12 dish.
Melt the 2 sticks of butter and set aside to cool
In a bowl with an electric mixer or your kitchen aid with a paddle attachment for you fancy folk, beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed for 5-10 minutes until very thick and light yellow.
Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.
Once the egg mixture is ready, reduce speed to low and add the vanilla seeds and framboise and the cocoa powder mixture, mixing only until combined.
With the speed still on low, add the melted butter and mix again until just combined.

Pour the mixture into your buttered dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Fill the second pan with the hottest tap water until half way up the side of your brownie dish. Bake for exactly one hour. The center will appear very under baked. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This is what it comes out looking like:

But when you start to serve it the top cracks open almost like a creme brulee to reveal this warm soft brownie center:

So good. I hope you enjoy it, we sure did.

First photo from food network brownie pudding recipe.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thanksgiving and its inspiration

My family is fortunate enough to have a ranch house in the family that is up in Mendocino county, up in the forest, where we spend a lot of holidays. This Thanksgiving we decided to go up there. It's really out of the way, and once you're up there, when it's as cold outside as it is, there isn't a ton to do except stay inside and keep warm telling stories with family, and eating...there's always a lot of eating.

I took along that yellow yarn I bought in San Luis Obispo to knit on the drive and to entertain me while I was up there, and I was done with it the first day we were there. It didn't turn out quite like a beret, but more like a slouchy hat, and I love it, and so did everyone else, the boy even wants one in grey. Since I decided most of this year's gifts would be homemade I started knitting a bunch of gifts for family members, and now I've gone knitting mad. I finished a cowl scarf, very similar to this one here for my sister along with a hat, and a little hat for the baby sister (she's 5) to match ours so she doesn't feel left out...its in pink of course, she won't wear it otherwise. And now I have friends asking for me to knit scarves as gifts for their friends. It appears that people really like what I'm doing, and that's good, it gives me something to do, with purpose.

I found the cutest knitting store here where I live, went in yesterday and left with a bunch of friends and an invitation to their knitting circle on tuesdays, and I just might go.

I took a bunch of pictures on a walk down to the creek behind the house, when my sister and I just couldn't bear sitting in the house telling stories for much longer.