Saturday, November 23, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 47 - cream cheese pound cake

YOU GUYS! My computer died! Blue screened all to hell. My computer was real old and funky, it was only a matter of time. BUT Brendon was trying real hard to make it run faster so the other day he backed up everything on an external hard drive, cleared everything off, and restored the factory settings. And then when it tried to do an automatic update restart, it just died. Not sure if it was the backing up that caused it (Brendon says no, I say YES), but it died. Luckily, we had just backed up everything so all my pictures are safe and sound saved onto our little hard drive, and LUCKILY Brendon has wonderful friends at pharmacy school. A sweetheart computer guru friend of his took my computer home, took it all to pieces, upgraded the RAM, put it back together, and brought it back to life! I'm even running Windows 7 now, y'all! No more Vista! It's like  a brand new computer! Like brand new as in it doesn't have any programs on it except Solitaire and Free Cell. I don't even have Word or Excel on here. And the photo editing capabilities are: MSPaint.

Soooo these photos aren't edited! You probably wont be able to tell a difference because the program I was using to edit photos was like "Microsoft Photo Editor" or something and incredibly lame and incredibly limited. I suck at computers, so whatev. 

ANYWAY, I made a pound cake. I have been thinking about making a pound cake all year and it just never happened, but my mom shared this recipe with me recently and it was so dang easy I just had to try it. It is a freaking winner you guys.

I think pound cakes are traditionally made with a pound of each butter, sugar, eggs, and flour, and this is pretty close, with welcomed addition of cream cheese. It makes SO MUCH BATTER! It is fluffy and heavenly and very tasty. There are six raw eggs in there, and I licked that batter off of the beaters without a second thought. Cake batter and cookie dough for life.

I made this baby in a bundt pan that my momma gave me instead of the suggested tube pan because I don't have a tube pan. Surprising, I know. It worked just fine.

This cake is soooooo good. The consistency is on point. It's thick and fluffy and rich and creamy and smooth and just really perfect. I did not glaze it (GASP) because of laziness. (Tiredness! My life right now you guys. You don't even know.) There is no recipe for a glaze in the recipe I used, but I think 1 cup of sugar and a couple tablespoons of milk would be perfect. This cake would be lovely with a glaze but it is delicious all on it's own.

This pound cake is pretty flawless and would be an excellent starting point for a flavored pound cake. Strawberry cream cheese pound cake? YUM. Get after it!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 46 - snickerdoodle cookies

PHEW! Cutting it close this week, this post is going to be short and sweet. This week has been BUSY and I feel like I haven't had a second to breathe. But I did squeeze in some baking Friday! I wanted to make something that we could share with our friends, because I feel like we've been hogging (and eating!) all the baked goods lately. Cookies are the best for sharing! I used this recipe and they turned out nothing like the pictures and were not thick or soft, but whatever, they were good!

Snickerdoodles are always a good option. Sugar and cinnamon. You can't go wrong. BAKE ON FOLKS!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Flower power dress

I was extra creative with the name of this post, no? This dress is Simplicity/Lisette1878. It's a simple shift dress with different sleeve options, I went with the three-quarter sleeve. It was a breeze to sew and offered zero complications. It's super straight forward and it fits great, straight from the pattern. This is my first dress, not costume, that has longer sleeves on it, and it will be a welcomed addition to my closet! I've got sundresses galore.

Excuse the terrible apartment lighting.

I made this dress in some extra soft cotton with a cute flowery print. I thought the dress had a little of a 60's vibe, so I rolled with it and went flower child. There's some actually pretty extensive top stitching on this dress that you totally can't see because of this pattern. The top of the dress is actually four panels, two large that form the skirt as well and two small yokes for the top of the bodice. It's quite fun and the top stitching would be neat in a contrast color, and if you weren't sewing onto a sea of flowers. It just looks like one big piece of fabric, but that's okay!

Props to the zipper for not giving me hell. I hate sewing zippers. HATE IT.

Aaaaand most of the pictures Brendon takes of me look like this:

I'm a fairly tall chica, but Brendon makes me look short! Big head little feet.

This dress is seriously comfortable and I'm sure it will get plenty of use this winter. I have some red tights that would love to meet this dress. And I find the sleeves to be completely perfect. Sleeves usually a little weird on my since I have stretcho arms, but these hit at a great length and fit so well. They have just the slightest flare at the end and I love it!

I already have ideas of making other versions of this dress because it was so easy and it's so comfy! I'd like to try it in a solid color so that you can see the top stitching. Because sewing in a relatively straight line should be celebrated!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Thoughts on "Marriage Isn't for You"

I interrupt the normal broadcast of food and projects for some actual thoughts from my head. I know that doesn't happen often around here, so forgive me and please don't take me too seriously.

If you are active on Facebook, you've probably read Seth Adam Smith's post "Marriage Isn't for You". Once you come to the realization that he is talking about marriage in a good light (this should happen relatively quickly) you find an article about a man realizing that he was being selfish in his marriage and declaring that marriage is about your partner, not yourself. It's fairly sweet and I congratulate him on becoming less selfish. However, I have all kinds of issues with this article and the fact that it has gone viral over the internet like it is telling some sort of highly classified secret of matrimony. It is not. It is not ground breaking. If you thought marriage was just for you and this article was some sort of awakening, marriage probably quite literally is NOT for you. Not yet anyway.

I have been married to Brendon for two and a half years, so I am by absolutely no means an expert on the subject. We are very young and are still, in my mind, in the "newlywed" years. And they're wonderful, may they last forever. However, Brendon and I have been together for almost eight years. We are, like the Smiths, "high school sweethearts" (did you just cringe? because I did). And thus through these eight years, we have gone through some crap together. Big things and scary things and lots of petty things. Lots of growing up. Luckily we got most of the petty nonsense out of the way before we got married. BUT we were wild and wily rebels that lived together for years before marriage so we had an opportunity more traditional couples did not. I'm assuming the Smiths are more traditional. So we cheated with a head start. We entered into marriage knowing an awful lot about each other and an awful lot about how to make us work.

And there's the difference for me, and it's really quite simple. It's about us. Marriage is not about one person, whether it be you or them. It is about two, it is about you both. I mean, clearly. Marriage binds two individuals together, publicly, legally, and spiritually. It's an agreement between two people. And goodness, to assume all marriages are the same would be such a silly thing. All marriages are not the same. And all marriages, I'm guessing, function incredibly differently. What works for one couple may not work for another. Pretty common sense stuff, everyone is different, yadda yadda. Oh and EVERYONE should be able to embark on this marriage adventure if they want to. Ahem.

But for Brendon and I, being married is about We and Us. It is for each other. It is compromise after compromise and giving and taking and loving and fighting but always agreeing to stick it out forever because it's worth it. It is knowing that you will do anything and everything for the other, but still being your own person. Brendon and I have our own individual lives that are wrapped together in a big ol' tangled mess that I never want to unravel. We put our big kid pants on and make it out there in the world on our own, but we've always got each others' back. And that makes that crazy world out there easier to navigate, knowing that we have each other. Having someone to bounce ideas off of, having someone to make those BIG decisions with, having someone to tell us it's okay when the poop hits the fan and it feels very not okay. We both have goals for ourselves and goals we want to meet together and they are ever evolving and changing because that's the adventure of life and it's never what you think it will be.

And let me stress this point, marriage is about both of us. Which means in some ways it is about me. I love Brendon with every fiber of my being, from my multiplying wiry grey hairs, to my chipped toenails, I love that man. And I would do anything for him. But I also love me. Our marriage is very much about me in a sense because that man makes me happier than anyone in the world. So I married him and I'm not letting him go. But because he makes me happy, I want to make him happy. Because why wouldn't I? I want him to feel the same way about me that I do about him, because that feeling is real nice. I want him to want me, I want him to always want me as his wife. And that means giving. And that means making it about him. It's a cycle, y'all. It's the damn circle of life marriage. My life does not completely revolve around him and his not around me. They're more in very similar orbits that are fixed together forever by gravity because we want them to be and we just happen to love to bump into each other. We're planets now clearly.

So yes yes yes, it's about both of you. Always and forever. And it is also to some extent about your family and your friends that you build into your life, because they make you who you are. If you have children, they become a part of the Us. We are childless so I can't speak a lot about marriage with offspring, but I don't think marriage is about one person, your child included. If we have a family I still want it to be about me, Brendon, and our child(ren), all together and as individual people, working and loving and living together. Marriage is about living! Oh goodness is marriage about living. If it is not about living, I can't imagine it would be much fun. And although marriage is not always fun, fun should be the end game.

As I hope you did with Smith's article, please take all this nonsense I just spewed into the internet with a grain of salt. My marriage is not perfect, and I don't think anyone's is. I am 25 and have only seen (hopefully) a quarter of my life and have only seen a couple years of marriage. I am not all knowing when it comes to marriage and I am sure as hell not wise. I just had to get real for a moment and deal with that article. Because this is what marriage is for me, right now. It's simply about the two of us. It might not be like this in ten or twenty years, but right now, this is it. And it's good.  Really good. So forget "Marriage Isn't for You", because it is. It's just not at all just about you, and if you think it is, you'll probably have a Seth Adam Smith moment, except your partner might not be so sweet.

And to wrap it up, I leave you with this article my friend shared, on Facebook of course, that is a great example of what marriage can be. Sorry if you cry.

(And that photo of our extra cute hands up there is by J. Noel Photography.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Candy cane dress

This dress was seriously, like half a year in the making. It is the same pattern (Simplicity 1803) as my Purple Princess Dress, just a different version. I bought and prewashed the fabric back in April right after making the purple dress, and it has been sitting on my desk along with the pattern pieces since then, begging to be sewn. Brendon has been giving me crap about it for ages, so I finally knocked it out since Halloween got me back into my sewing game. And I'm so glad I did because this dress fits like a glove and I love it! It's rare that I don't have to make any sizing adjustments at the end, but this baby just came together and fit perfectly. Too bad it's fall now and I just made a sundress...

It's a candy cane dress, just in time for the holidays! Even though I bought the fabric in the spring... I had been eyeballing this fabric for months before I bought it, I just needed an excuse to use it. It's a super soft cotton blend with a little stretch to it. It's fairly sturdy and not see through at all, yay no lining! It was a dream to sew on and this baby came together so easily, I knocked it out in an afternoon.

Even though it's a sundress, I shall be sporting this all winter with sweaters. And I mean it is Texas, so maybe without a sweater too. Today ironically was one of the chillest days so far this fall. I was a little cold taking these photos, hence the clenched fists.

I miss sewing (dresses, as I sew drapes weekly!) and need to get back into it. Not only does it keep me entertained and challenged, but the finished product is a new outfit. Win-win situation here.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 45 - apple slab pie

HOLY COW. This pie. It is a winner. Favorite apple pie ever. It's a Smitten Kitchen recipe, and homegirl knows her pies.

Rolling out that gigantic crust was interesting, but not impossible at all. Also, this pie is baked in a seriously shallow baking dish! It's like a cookie sheet!

A slice of heaven. Seriously. It is very very very good and I've had two pieces tonight. I love pies for their crust and this pie has an excellent crust to filling ratio. Deb's pie crust recipe is unbeatable and in NEEDS to be in your baking arsenal, stat. Also, this pie is totally sturdy enough to hold in your hand. PIE ON THE GO! Such a winner.

And because I could go on for hours about this pie, I'm just going to highly suggest that you make it as soon as possible (it would be excellent at a Thanksgiving feast) and leave you with this blurry shot of Brendon thoroughly enjoying a slice of this baked masterpiece.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wurstfest 2013

Yesterday we donned our German gear and went a Wurstin'. Gosh I love Wurstfest! Polka music, abundant greasy food, and people watching galore. Yes please! We went with my mom and my sister and had a blast. Unfortunately there was no 2013 dirndl this year, although I had all kinds of plans for one. Time went by too quickly and as I was finishing up my Halloween costume the night before, there was zero time for a new dirndl. Sad! I sported my 2011 dirndl and my sister rocked my 2012. Yes, they are dated now.

An all lady polka band, rocking out. Respect!

More polka respect, this chica at the end played like, no joke, at least five instruments. Also the guy playing the accordion could yodel like no ones business and the sax player was killing it on some solos.

We finally got Brendon a real German hat! He's wanted one since he was a kid, and it's about time he finally got one. It will hold up a lot better than that cheesy, but cute, "Wurstfest" hat and we can do as the German Texans do and add pins to it every year. We got a cute little 2013 one for this year. 

Here comes the food. We had a funnel cake (heaven!), a sauerkraut pita pocket (two actually), kolache style danishes (good, but they've got nothing on West, TX), and not pictured was the potato pancake (worth the line everytime) that we inhaled. This was my first Wurstfest as a vegetarian and I did just fine. Didn't have a bite of meat. I sure did want some damn sausage though. Brendon may or may not have given in and had a couple bites. Fun fact, my mom worked the funnel cake booth when I was in high school! Band mom duties. Best mom ever!

And for your viewing pleasure, these were Brendon's stockings:

Clearly they are mine, but he rocked the hell out of them. One day you'll have real German socks. And real leather lederhosen. One day.

I had a blast and can't wait until next year to go again! Although I would much rather have gone on a weekday, the weekends get so dang crowded! This was just the first weekend, so if you're around New Braunfels in the next week, go go go! Eat another potato pancake for me.

2012 and 2011 Wurstfest adventures.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 44 - lemon gingerbread muffins

Pumpkin month is over! On to the next holiday season! I found this recipe over the summer on Sally's Baking Addiction and was like omg these sound heavenly, I must make them. So on the first day that it was officially kind of okay to bake something gingerbready, Novemeber 1st, I made them. Specifically because I was holding a holiday meeting at my store and needed a "holiday" treat for a snack. I thought these would be perfect!

I was a tad disappointed in these muffins. This will be the first recipe of Sally's that I raise my eyebrow at. I'm not sure if I screwed something up or what, but these babies are dry. The flavor is great, the lemon and gingerbread combo is phenomenal, but these were extra dry. Maybe they cooked too long? They're very pretty and smell heavenly, but when you bite into it, it's just not what you want in a muffin. Maybe the cook time/temperature just needs a little tweaking on my end. Although something must be said for how high they rose. Sally has this trick where you bake them at high heat (450) for five minutes to get them to rise and then you lower the heat (375) and bake them for the rest of the time. Worked like a charm.

I think they'd be wicked dunked in tea. Chai tea for you spice loving folks or plain black tea like English breakfast for the simpler folks like me. It sounds divine. Anyway, big shout out to my staff for eating them up like champs. I think it was out of politeness, but whatever, I'll take it. ;)