Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Icing on the Cake

The Was:

The Is:

What Happened:

I put Obama on a cake!  This is actually going to be a birthday cake for Jonathan's brother, Christopher.  Christopher is a big-time Republican, and when we first met, I had just carved Obama's face on a pumpkin.  He gave me a hard time for liking Obama, and ever since then I have bought him greeting cards with Obama on them.  I don't know if you know this, but there are Obama cards for every occasion, and Christopher has received them all over the past couple of years.  This year, in addition to his Obama birthday card, he will be receiving an Obama cake.

One of my favorite things that I learned in my cake decorating class was how to trace the outline of a picture and then transfer it to your cake.  We practiced using the outline of a cupcake, and we had the option of using a stencil of a clown or something like that.  Pssshhh, amateurs.  I knew that I would be using this technique for something even better - Obama!  The outline helped me figure out where to fill in with icing, but it was still difficult.  It didn't help that my stencil got smudged and that my lighter color of icing ended up not being light enough at first, forcing me to add extra white icing to the mix.  If I had it to do over again (and let's face it, I'll probably do it again), I will save some white icing to fill in instead of just leaving that area bare and letting the white background show through.  I will also use less piping gel on my outline, so that it doesn't smear.  I will also check my colors side by side before I put them on the cake.

This cake was really fun to make...  I think it will be even more fun to see Christopher's reaction when I give it to him.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

The Was:

The Is:

What Happened:

Well, if it isn't obvious, I got a haircut.  I have this really bad habit of letting my hair grow out really long until I just can't stand it anymore before I will finally go and have it cut.  This time, I used the excuse that I didn't want to have to find a new hairdresser here in Raleigh, and I would just put it off until I could go have it done back home.  The truth is, I don't even have an official hairdresser back home, either, so there was really no excuse to let it get so bad before having it cut.  The Was picture is actually a little worse than I thought it looked...  and maybe I'll just tell myself that was taken on a bad hair day.  With wavy hair like mine, if it's warm outside, I usually don't dry it and I just let it do whatever it wants to.  In these colder months, I basically have to dry it straight unless I want to be miserable when I step outside.  It will never look as good as the Is picture, though, because that was taken right after I got back from having it cut and I don't own a flat iron.  Honestly, even if I did have one, I don't think I'd be able to successfully use it on myself.

My HLM has one of the best New Years Resolutions I've ever heard of:  Wear More Glitter.  The interpretation of this resolution is to take more time to primp yourself in the morning, whether it's just putting on a little more eye make up, or (in my case) taking the time to get your hair straight and not looking like a rat's next.  So, I've adopted her resolution as my own, and I've decided that I'm going to put a slight bit more effort into my appearance each day...  In actuality it will probably be so slight that it will probably not even be noticeable to those around me, but it's an important thing to just do for myself.  I'll know the difference.

Of course, we'll see how long it lasts once this semester gets under way - we're in the first week, and I'm starting to think taking 3 electives on top of the normal course load may have been a bad idea.  Eeek!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What?! A New Post?!

Well, it's been a while...  I was challenged last night by my best friend to update my blog, and while I didn't get it in before the midnight deadline, I am posting now.  I hope that I'll be a little more responsible and start updating more often...  maybe that should be my New Year's Resolution.  I've been doing a lot of things that are blog-worthy, I just haven't taken any pictures.  I plan to change that, though.

The Was:

What Happened:

I had my first cake decorating class last night!  Jonathan signed me up and bought all the supplies for the Wilton's Beginner's Cake Decorating class at Michael's for one of my Christmas presents.  It was a total surprise, and one of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever gotten.  There are four classes (one every Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:30 for the next four weeks).  Last night, we were supposed to bring in our kits and some plain cookies to practice on.  I was so nervous about having the perfect cookies, so I baked them around lunchtime, just in case I needed to start over again.  I used the lid to one of my cookie cutter tins to create gigantic circle cookies, so I'd have lots of room to decorate.  I also made a few smaller ones for back ups.  Turns out the giant circles baked perfectly!  I was so excited and felt completely prepared.  

The class was taught by a little old lady who was sort of like Paula Deen but not quite as jovial.  She did call me 'shug' a lot, though.  She showed us how to make homemade icing, how to ice a cake, and how to make the little star details you see on some of the cookies above.  She also gave us tips for baking a cake, then leveling it off, and then icing it.  My favorite thing that she showed us was how to transfer a stencil to the top of a cake.  Also, did you know that you are supposed to always freeze cakes before you decorate them?  Not only does it make it easier to decorate but apparently it also makes it taste better.  Next week we are supposed to bring in a cake and some icing that we've made and then we are going to ice it and decorate it in class.  I can't wait!!!

Turns out I had too many cookies to really practice just that one little star.  But I practiced and then I brought it home and showed Jonathan what I had learned. Then he practiced (he's a natural!) and then I just started playing with the icing... It looked a lot better before I squirted icing all over ever cookie.  Hopefully next week I'll have something even better to show you guys!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Muffins Are More Than Just Ugly Cupcakes

The was:

The is:

What happened:
Yay Autumn!  I'm so excited about it being Fall that I don't even care that it's like 89 degrees outside.  I am celebrating the season by enjoying 'autumn' flavors, including pumpkin.  I actually got the inspiration for this treat from my friend, Sarah.  She always makes magnificent dishes and luckily for me, she has been in a pumpkin mood for the last couple of months.  She posted the recipe for these pumpkin muffins on her blog a while back and I thought they looked delicious, but when I got to sample one on our visit to Asheville, I was sold - I knew I would have to try to bake this muffin for myself.  I used all the ingredients from the Cooking Light website recipe, but I followed Sarah's lead and switched the oil for applesauce...  it was a chunky cinnamon applesauce instead of plain, but it was all I had in the fridge.  I also added an extra dash of ground ginger and a little sprinkle of allspice because I didn't have any straight-up nutmeg or ground cloves.  I ended up making 12 regular muffins and 24 mini-muffins.

They. Were. AMAZING!  They were super light and fluffy and very moist.  Absolutely delicious.  They also made the house smell soooo good.  Jonathan, a self-proclaimed hater of all things pumpkin, ate three of them.  The only thing I regret is not putting more sugar/brown sugar sprinkled on top...  but that's a minor detail that can be remedied with the next batch.

These muffins were pumpkin-y and delicious, but they were also a little bittersweet for me.  Not in the actual taste department (they're actually pretty sweet), but in the memories they bring forth of my very best friend, Amber.  She loves all things pumpkin, and every time I see anything pumpkin-flavored, I always think of her.  I don't get to see her very often these days because we both have busy schedules and we live far apart, but I think of her frequently and I miss her oh so much.  She would have especially approved of my mini-muffin cups:  they had pumpkins on them!  What could be a more perfect accessory for the already-perfect Pumpkin Muffin?

Monday, October 11, 2010


The was:  Jonathan and his brother, Christopher, were returning from Ohio last night, flying in to FAY (the Fayetteville Regional Airport) at 11:20PM.

The is:  Jonathan and his brother, Christopher, had a canceled flight from Charlotte to Fayetteville and ended up being stuck at CLT.

What happened
Y'all I got two hours of sleep last night.  No lie.

Last Thursday for Christopher's fall break, he and Jonathan went to Ohio and some of the surrounding areas to view multiple museums (Motown Museum, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ford Museum, and the list goes on).  The plan was for me to pick them up at the Fayetteville airport (about an hour and a half from our house) last night when they arrived at 11:20.  I had missed Jonathan a lot while he was gone, and I was so excited about getting them at the airport, so I left a little early at about 9:30.  It was actually a pleasant drive...  I heard lots of songs about how tonight was going to be a good night and about how JoJo was going to get back to where he once belonged.  It all seemed to build my excitement for finally seeing him after he was gone for so long (you know, 4 days).

When I was 15 minutes away from the airport, I got a text message from Jonathan.  I thought they had landed early, and I was even more excited.  I was also completely wrong.  The text said:  "problem with plane...  stuck".  Not. Cool.  So, I text back (illegally, mind you, since I was also trying to drive) and ask what I am supposed to do, given that I am already all the way in Fayetteville.  The reply?  "I think we are stuck in charlotte for tonight... trying to figure it out."  Great.  This is one of those really terrible "oh shit" moments.  What was I going to do?  I immediately pulled over into a trucker parking lot, made sure all the doors were locked, and then pulled out my GPS (Tom's cousin, Tom) to try to find the fastest way to Charlotte.  Guess what?  It was back the way I came.  There was no shorter route from Fayetteville to Charlotte; I was going to have to drive right back through Raleigh.  For those of you who don't know me, my #6 most hated thing is back-tracking.

At this point there were two options:  they could rent a car and drive to Raleigh, or I could go pick them up in Charlotte.  (Christopher could not miss his Monday classes, so they couldn't stay in Charlotte overnight.)  I figured either way I was going to be heading back towards the triangle, so while that decision was being hashed out I turned around and resumed my journey in the opposite direction.  I later get text message confirmation from Jonathan that there are two rental car places open:  one that was "sold out" of cars, and another that does not allow one-way trips.  Decision made - I was driving to Charlotte.

So I drove.  And I drove.  And I drove.  And then I slept a little while I was driving.  And I drove some more.  That's not actually true, I managed to stay awake, but just barely.  I'm embarrassed to admit (but since my mom is the only one who reads this, and she already knows) I like to go to sleep between 9:30 and 10:00PM.  I just get really sleepy and it's hard for me to stay up late, let alone do something that requires me to be fully conscious but only requires the functioning of my cerebellum.  Somehow, 3 and a half hours later, I arrived at CLT and loaded the boys up in the car.  Jonathan drove us back and they told me all about their trip, which was actually the one perk of this entire fiasco of a night:  we had an extended period of time while the trip was still fresh on their minds to talk all about it.  Great news - they had a good time.

After we dropped Christopher off at his apartment and made it home, it was 5:00 AM.  That's right, ladies and gentlemen (or just lady - hey mom!), I was in the car last night from 9:30PM until 5:00AM.  May I repeat?  Not. Cool.  To top it all off, I have classes on Monday morning and had to be up by 7AM to get there on time.  I ended up going to my classes and then spending the rest of today sleeping.  And I'm still exhausted.  In fact, I think I'll turn in a little earlier than my normal bedtime tonight - perhaps around 8:30.  

Saturday, October 2, 2010


The was:

The is:

What happened:

I hate trees and I want to cut them all down.  Okay, okay, not all trees...  Just coat trees.  They're ugly.  It's just a fact.  They just become these big burly coat monsters that get in the way and look messier and messier as more coats get piled on top.  Jonathan has a coat tree used to have a coat tree.  Now he has a nice pile of firewood for the winter.*  - insert evil laugh here - 

I found these really simple coat racks at Marshall's for 8 bucks a piece.  I thought that was really too good to pass up...  not to mention a sign from God that it was finally time to get rid of that hideous coat tree.  Fortunately, Jonathan was on board with the idea, and he totally loves the 'is'.  He was really helpful with the hardware on this transformation, so "mad props" to the love of my life for all his help.  Now we have room for a new piece of furniture...  and as you may (or may not) know about me:  I love to buy furniture.  Chairs especially.  Unfortunately, this isn't a chair location (despite the chair hidden in the 'was' picture...  notice it is not in the 'is' picture).  I'm thinking china cabinet-slash-cupboard-slash-writing desk.  Actually, the writing desk would be pretty awesome.  Then I would have an official place to compose my memoirs --> read:  "blog".  

Also, for possible future reference, note the color of the walls.  Not only is this the wall color in the foyer, but it is also found in the dining room, living room, and hallway.  Let's just say... it's not my favorite.  Maybe because it is so close to the exterior color of the house that I grew up in?  Or maybe because it looks like baby poop.  Either way, it doesn't look like a color that should be so dominant in the house.  Just keep this in mind for a potential future 'was' and 'is'.  Color suggestions anyone?  We're thinking grays with blue undertones... and guess who gets to paint it?  Me!  I'm actually really excited because I love love love to paint.  But Jonathan has 12 foot ceilings in the living room...  and I do not love love love heights.  

* No coat trees were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

TLC (minus the T-Boz and the Left-Eye)

The was:    


The is:

What happened:

Fall weather has finally arrived in the Triangle!  And nothing goes better with rainy, cool weather than a big bowl of spicy chicken chili.  I was super-excited about this chili because it is a really simple recipe and because, let's face it, who doesn't love a delicious chicken chili?  I don't have classes on Thursdays, so I usually spend the whole day at work; however, I had today off to study for tomorrow morning's exam.  That means I really had all day to sneak into the kitchen and see how my chili was doing.  It all started this morning when I dusted off the ol' crockpot (I'm serious, guys, I actually had to dust it...  I obviously need to clean more often.  Or maybe just use my crockpot more often!) and then lazily dumped all the above ingredients in.  That's right, this was overall a totally lazy process.  Actually, that's not true - I did have to chop that onion.  But even that took minimal effort.  Anyway, I threw everything in (except the salt and pepper, I forgot it and, in the end, it didn't need it), set it on low, and left it to cook until about 6PM this evening.  Okay okay, that's just slightly inaccurate.  I did let it cook that long, but I definitely didn't just leave it - in fact I probably checked on it about every 45 minutes.  I wasn't actually worried that it wasn't working - crockpots are pretty much fail-safe.  I was just procrastinating.  It's really what I do best.  Why do you think I'm updating this instead of cramming right now?  Oh well, I do consider this entire day a success even if I got minimal studying done because technically I worked really hard today...  I did spend the whole day 'cooking' after all.