Sunday, October 24, 2010

A little fall baking...

When I think of Fall culinary treats, the usual suspects come to mind.... pie, cider, roasted turkey, etc. Sorry to disappoint, but my latest urge to bake came in none of those forms. Inspired by the Fall's ever-present spice (cinnamon), I decided to make Devil's Food Cake cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.... doesn't that sound DELICIOUS? 

Yeah, well... hold your salivating for later. I made the cupcakes based off a Devil's Food Cake recipe from my cookbook Baked, and I made a sub-par substitution... the recipe called for cake flour, and all I had was wheat flour. I *love love love* wheat flour in cookies, I think it adds a depth of flavor that most cookies benefit from. But cupcakes? Well... cupcakes aren't meant to be deep

So, my cupcakes had the consistency of a chocolate bran muffin, which is really *not* an attractive quality in a cupcake. On the upside, I found a frosting recipe that I love, and I think that if I use the correct ingredients, the cake recipe will be a winner as well. Picture? Don't mind if I do...

Super cute muffin tins c/o my mom. Because she is super cute.

Cookbook c/o Jules last Christmas. (I will *always* love the gift of an awesome cookbook.) 
If you want the Devil's Food recipe, ask and I'll send it. But really, you should just buy this cookbook. The lemon scones? Amaaaaaazing.
The frosting comes from Emeril. I added some red food coloring to make it pink, and I wanted a smooth texture so I nixed the cinnamon and subbed 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon extract instead.

1 lb confectioners' sugar

8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk
With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, cinnamon and milk- keep on low until incorporated. Then, kick it up to medium and beat until smooth. Yield: 2 cups frosting. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Road-tripping is where it's at...

...And you should know, Portland really IS as cool as people say it is. As evidence I submit this fact: while in Portland, we ate breakfast at home one day... and through the course of the day still managed to sit down at 4 restaurants. Best part of this story? It was happy hour at EVERY place we went. A New York Times article explains:

"While other towns — notably Seattle, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Charleston, S.C. — also serve cheap eats in the late afternoon, Portland has been doing it since the
last recession. If you ask restaurant owners, they’ll tell you the back story: a state liquor law forbids businesses from promoting discounted alcohol, so it made sense to lure in diners with at-cost food. (Though this law has recently changed, $5 plates are more ubiquitous than ever.)"

Highlights include the custom brews at Laurelwood and delicious eats at Nostrana - a James Beard nominated restaurant, where the earliest reservation we could get on a Saturday was 9:00pm. Since we had hit up 3 other places between 2 and 9, it wasn't an issue, and if this happens to you, I promise the food is worth the wait.

Laurelwood in the Alphabet District - Pic a la their website

Nostrana deliciousness - Pic a la

The best part of this whole thing was being able to connect with good friends, new and old. Well, mainly all old friends, but their fiances were new! I took absolutely no pictures on this trip, so I failed on that part, but quite frankly I was too busy soaking up the beauty of the whole weekend to worry about any of that...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Long Overdue Post!!

Hi Friends,

Thanks for being patient with me. This has been an exciting week!!

1. I finally bought the text book for the piano class I started taking. Even though I don't have a piano at home, I carry the book around the house, looking at the notes and trying to sing along. I'm enthralled.
2. My beautiful, dear friend Kim has challenged her readership to 21 days of doing something uncomfortable. I decided that I would be waking up at 6am every day. (y-i-k-e-s.) I find it nearly impossible to get myself out of bed in the morning, so the thought of doing it at 6am was quite literally terrifying. (The first day, I sat on my couch at 6:10am and my first thought was, "How did I just DO that?!") Although I gave myself a break this last weekend, I've been doing pretty well. In fact, my body pretty much comes to full alertness by 5:55, even before my alarm goes off. I should be thrilled, but it's really just strange to me - I can't believe 26 years of a bad habit can be broken in a week!! So what do I do with all that free time in the morning? Well...

3. There's a book called The Artist's Way. It basically guides you through finding the Artist within. One of the exercises is to write 3 pages of stream-of-consciousness-thought when you first wake up in the morning, before you do anything else with your day. So, for about the first 30 minutes of my day, I roll out of bed, head down to the couch with my notebook, and write whatever happens to be on my mind. Sometimes, I'm pretty deep at 6am.... but most of the time I'm just exclaiming about the fact that I'm up at 6 in the morning :)
The Artist's Way also has you go through different exercises every week, and to have weekly check-ins with people going through the book as well. My people are Elaine and Mary, and we are checking in via our blogs! How fun!!

For this week, I want to share a couple things. First, is that I totally yanked Elaine's idea for her artist date and went down to Art Essentials downtown. BUT, I bought a couple canvases and some oil brushes for a mere $20. And now the next time I feel like painting, it will not be on a National Geographic poster ;) The other thing (this is such a fun exercise), is that the book asks you to pick 5 imaginary lives. What would you do? Who would you be?? Here were mine:

Broadway singer/actress (not only for the career, but also for the fact that I would be in New York!)
Model (I hear you get to keep the clothes sometimes :D)
Movie Critic (Go to all the premieres? check. Get paid to watch movies and write? check. Get to wax philosophical about story lines and directing styles? double check.)
Novelist (I thought my first office job was crazy and I had stories to tell.... then I moved on to my second office job, and honestly you wouldn't even believe me if I told you....)
Casting Director (I underlined this one and put exclamation points after it. I think that means I was pretty excited at this idea.)

And I have to share my favorite affirmation. What a fiercely confident statement that what we do is worth it: All my work comes to good.

So much more to share about the Artist's Way - and I already have a killer idea for my artist date next week. Can't wait!!


Monday, September 13, 2010

Photo Shoot!

Just a few of the things I love about my house... Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A painting

Today I watched a couple of documentaries - the first was "The September Issue" which chronicles the making of Vogue's largest volume made at that time. It largely follows Anna Wintour, the infamous editor-in-chief from which The Devil Wears Prada was modeled. If you have any appreciation for fashion, I think you'll enjoy it, if for nothing else because it makes you feel close to the all-powerful of the fashion world. As the documentary points out, even though we may hate to admit it, we all want more celebrity. (Which in my book, is perfectly OK. I will be the first to admit that I joined twitter almost exclusively to feel closer to my celeb faves.... knowing what Ingrid Michaelson is up to tonight? Yup, LOVE IT.)

The second documentary was "Objectivity," which I found boring, but, it made me realize something important. The documentary follows designers of.. stuff. People who design chairs, or pliers, or cars, etc. and it talks about how their creativity touches each of us, since ultimately we all consume these things. (I'm actually making it sound more interesting than it is, I promise.) But the thing it made me realize is that, although design is not my thing, one thing I do love is making people FEEL a certain way. I think that's why I'm so attracted to the arts. If I play a part a certain way or if I can recite a meaningful song on the piano, I can effect emotions. Unfortunately it's a Sunday afternoon and I just don't have the energy to work through this thought, but it will definitely be something I come back to.

In the meantime, I painted today! After watching documentaries on creating things, naturally, I had to create. I used the only canvas I could find (a framed National Geographic poster that Nick and I picked up at a thrift store), and oils that were shoved in a drawer in the garage. The cool thing that happened was that the paint and the brushes kind of did their own thing, and I felt like I just got to sit back and kind of watch as it came together.

The young partiers, the confidants, and the lovers. 

These two women are my favorite. In my head, the red woman has just found out her husband is cheating on her, and has called her good friend to this bar in the middle of the night to talk about it. 

Oh, and I also did a photo shoot around my house. Those pics will be up tomorrow. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

a question for you

I feel a bit preachy with this one, but I found this a valuable exercise, so I'm hoping you do too. Maybe it will feel less preachy to you if I first say that I'm not going to give you my answer for this question. I'm simply putting it out there so that you can find your answer.

This morning I was asked to contemplate the following scenario:
Imagine it's your funeral. Imagine you have just died, but somehow you are still standing up at the front of the church, or the funeral home, or the meadow at your favorite camping spot, or wherever you want to have a service. Imagine all your friends and family that will be walking through, imagine co-workers and neighbors and anyone else you think might show up. Actually close your eyes and picture it.

Now, you are allowed to say one thing to all of them. All these people you LOVE - you are allowed to give them one brief message. One parting thought. What is it? ... Think on this one, because it's critical to answering the REAL question below.

(Do you know where I'm going with this?)

Now here, in the non-hypothetical world, are you living out the message you would give at your funeral? Is your life speaking those words for you? Is your life speaking those words loud enough that others can actually hear them?

I thought about this, and in terms of life-guidance, I think this is a pretty good one to go by. I know that HOW to live out your parting words is a whole other challenge in and of itself, but clarifying what those words are is a big step. It just dawned on me that I think these words need to become my mantra. I've never really had a mantra before and I don't really know how they work, but simply repeating something over and over seems like a good way to make it stick. Especially repeating them to myself in the face of the unknown and the uncertain. I like this idea. It's comforting. Plus it feels very Elizabeth Gilbert-esque a la Eat, Pray, Love. How chic of me. ;)

Ok fine, if you REALLY want to know my mantra, I'll tell you. (You're just so persuasive.)
Love one another... that's it. And again, I know "how" to love other people might be the logical next question, but how would I change if I really loved every single person I came across? I think that's where we really get tripped up, is when we start de-valuing other people. And it's hard because love can mean so many things and it plays itself out in so many ways, but I know when I love someone that I want that person to see their full potential and to have the best life possible. To give and grow and stretch and love as much as they possibly can. That's what I want for people I love, that's what I want for me. You may not agree with me, but that's why it's MY mantra.... go find your own.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


At first glance, I thought this was bogus.

A musician is trying to get people to fund the production of his next full-length album, and he has a website where you can donate to him.... sounds lame, right?
But here's the thing... IT'S COMPLETELY UNLAME.

Reading more, I find out that kickstarter is a website where you can help fund creative projects. The projects always have a set monetary goal that they have to reach by a certain date, and if they do not reach that goal, your credit card is never charged. Plus, most artists offer really cool stuff if you donate to their projects upfront. (Example: donate $15, and you'll get a copy of their CD once it's released.) It's kind of like a CSA program for artists, filmmakers and musicians. What an AMAZING way to show support for the things you love and encourage the creative community. And the beauty of it is that if you're the person trying to get funding, you get to connect with those that support you. Plus it's a way for you to gauge interest on projects you're working on. Amazing amazing.

This guy is the reason I saw this website in the first place, since his plea for funding was tweeted by one of my favorite music chicks, Ingrid Michaelson. (Greg opened for Ingrid at a show in LA that I caught last year.) It looks like he is already well on his way to getting the 20k he needs. So check it out... and if you thought your dream projects were just too expensive to happen... let me know when you start your own kickstart project. I'll donate. I promise. :)