Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Music Thursday


New Music Thursday is an attempt to keep my goal of listening to some new music alive and kicking. Not all of these bands/artists are new to me, but all of the songs are. Also, I've decided I'm gonna start adding an old favorite to the mix since old loves are just as important as new passions.

These are the songs I'm diggin this week:

Feel So Close by Calvin Harris (Nero Remix):



The Death Of Me by City And Colour:



Rattlesnake Smile by Kane:



This song it outside of my comfort zone, but I like it.

Fats Domino by The Features:



Couldn't find a video for this one.

Old love:

Please Me Like You Want To by Ben Harper & Jack Johnson:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake

I know it's been a while since I posted a recipe, but this cake is the perfect thing to break my food blogging fast. I never thought I was a fan of chocolate and orange until I had one of those chocolate candies that's actually shaped like an orange (you break it open and there's a bunch of chocolate orange slices). I have no idea what they're called, but it was love at first bite. When looking for a cake for Ryan's grandparents I came across this one by Ina Garten and knew I had to make it. And I was right, it was perfect. Plus, bundt cakes are great for crowds since you get a lot of cake and they're easy to make beautiful. Gravity does the work for you.

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I honestly don't think the extra chocolate pieces in the cake are needed. For one, all of mine sank to the bottom and I was super diligent with flouring them and even added half the batter to the cake before mixing them in to accommodate the sinking. This kept all the chocolate on the top half and made it difficult to get the cake out of the pan smoothly. Also, the ganache was way too intense for me. Everyone else loved it, but wow it was intense. Next time I plan on adding more cream and cutting the amount way down. Also, I didn't make the orange glaze because I'm lazy. Instead I just squirted half an orange on the cake. It worked well enough so I'll be doing that from now on.

Would I make this again? Oh yeah. Even if you leave off the ganache, the orange cake by itself was amazing.

Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake

Ingredients:


1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup grated orange zest (from 4 large oranges)
3 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups good semisweet chocolate chunks

Syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Ganache:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.

2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the orange zest.

3. Sift together 3 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 2 tablespoons flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pan, set it on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.

5. For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cake.

Source: Ina Garten via Smitten Kitchen

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Camping

Last night I decided to go camping with five of my friends. Ryan hates camping so he refused to join us (oh how I tried to change his mind), but we ended up having a really great time. I'm a bit of an idiot though and left my camera battery at home so these are just a few random photos from my phone.

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After lots of drinks and a few questionable decisions, we all ended up sleeping in Dan's tent (above). It was a tight fit and Dan was quite surprised when he awoke to all of us just hanging out all around him, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Lots of laughs were shared and a few good stories were made.

After we packed up we drove to Heber and had breakfast at this cute little diner called Chick's. It was my first time seeing Heber and I was pleasantly surprised. All in all it was a good weekend. I haven't been camping...well ever really and this was a nice change of pace. We're already planning our next trip.

Now I need a nap.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Music Thursday


New Music Thursday is an attempt to keep my goal of listening to some new music alive and kicking. Not all of these bands/artists are new to me, but all of the songs are. Also, I've decided I'm gonna start adding an old favorite to the mix since old loves are just as important as new passions.

These are the songs I'm diggin this week:

Sad Sad City by Ghostland Observatory:



P.O.S. Is Ruining My Life by P.O.S.:



Everything is Average Nowadays by Kaiser Chiefs:



Okay, the lyrics are what really won me over. I can't help but be amused.

Go Outside by the Cults:



Old Love:

Mr. Jones by Counting Crows:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Simple Gibson Tuck

I came across the most adorable hairstyle that takes almost zero effort (which just happens to be my favorite amount of effort). Apparently it used to be a popular Edwardian hairstyle which makes it all the more appealing to me. I've been on the lookout for new hairstyles since growing out my hair has been a chore. This one is definitely on my list to try.


You can find the amazingly simple directions as well as a quite lovely blog here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Week in Pictures

It's been a while since I've done one of these. Prepare to be amazed by the most irregular and patchy sunburn ever. Seriously, it's ridiculous.

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We decided we're gonna go camping next weekend and my friend Stephanie and I drove out to check out the spot yesterday. It was so pretty. I'm not really the camping type, but I can't help but be amazed by how beautiful Utah is.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Golden Nugget of Thought: Growing Apart

500 Days of Summer is one of those movies that actually surprised me. I like being surprised and I love this quote:


This is essentially my general attitude about life. Sometimes people grow apart. The end. As heartbreaking as it can be, sometimes things change and they don't change the way you'd hope. This epitomizes my first relationship and far too many friendships for my liking.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Products I'm Loving (vlog)

I didn't post a New Music Thursday yesterday because I haven't had the time to find any new music lately. I've also been cooking family favorites lately and really focusing on getting back on track with everything. That's why my blog has been a little slow, but I'm gonna work on that. If you've heard any good music or made any tasty recipes lately I'd love to know.

For today's post I decided to do something different and post a video I made talking about some products I've bought lately that I really like. I'm always super embarrassed whenever I make a video (I'm just really animated), but I thought it might give some of you a chance to see/hear me for the first time.



I had to cut one product out since the video was too long. I also got attacked by a fly when I was talking about the brushes so that's why there's that cut there. Also, Josephine makes an appearance around the eight minute mark.

I might make another of these videos in the future, but I'm not sure. I kind of feel silly assuming people care about what I buy, but I'm one of those people that's always researching products and looking for new things. Seriously, I'll get sucked into youtube review videos for hours straight. If you're like me you'll probably enjoy the video. If not...oh well. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ringleader Costume

I talked about my Halloween party plans in my last post, so I thought I'd stay with the theme and talk about my costume plans. Since our party will have a carnival theme, I want to dress up as a ringleader. Instead of buying a costume though, I definitely want to make one. I've looked at tons of pictures trying to find something both festive and simple and I've got a loose plan so far.

First of all, this is an example of what I don't want:


That's just gross.

Luckily, I was able to find a few other images to take inspiration from.


I really love the white/red/black combo of the top right image (I even own a black and white striped blazer), but I want the quintessential red jacket. Finding the right jacket has definitely been the hardest part of this project so far. That red jacket in the middle is to die for (made by Michelle Law). It's exactly what I'm looking for, but considering the fact I'm a broke college student I decided a thrift store blazer was my best bet. I was fortunate enough to find one that should be long enough to convert into a tail coat. So far I've found one tutorial that describes how to do just that, but I'm hoping to find a few more.

Not wanting to abandon the stripes though, I've decided a black and white striped skirt is in order. Since full skirts are the one thing I can actually sew, I just need to track down the right fabric and I'm good to go. After that's been taken care of, all I need is a top hat and a petticoat. I plan on wearing a simple grey vest and some boots to round out the look since it's simple and I already own them.


I don't know what it is about the shape of my head, but hats hate me (sadface). If a standard top hat isn't in my future, then I'll just make my own mini-top hat. There are tons of tutorials on youtube and I love anything in mini form.

I found this makeup tutorial and I think it'd be perfect for my costume:



Instead of green eyeshadow on the bottom I'm thinking yellow. Bit weird I know.

So that's it. As you can see I've spent far too much time thinking about this. Halloween is my favorite though and I can't help but get excited. I have no idea what Holden and Ryan are planning on wearing, but I think it'd be adorable if Holden was a lion (even more so if Ryan was, but that's not gonna happen).

Friday, September 9, 2011

Halloween Party Planning Already Underway

Some of you might find it crazy, but I've already got my mind on Halloween. I've probably mentioned it dozens of times before, but Halloween is my favorite holiday. Last year we had a costume party that worked out spectacularly so we're having another one this year. I'd love for it to become a yearly thing and this year I'm going with a circus theme.

While the theme is gonna be the circus, I don't want to go too crazy with everything. I have a tendency to go overboard and I'm hoping to avoid that. While I'd love to make a red and white circus tent like the one below (found here), that's just not gonna happen. Instead I'm gonna focus on making lots of paper bunting, Christmas lights, and balloons.


Since Ryan's parents got us a popcorn maker for Christmas, popcorn is a must and it'll add a lot to the atmosphere. I really want to make a circus sign like the one here, but it might be too much work. We'll just have to wait and see about that one. I will make some apothecary jars like these ones if I can find the right candlesticks though. While I'm not entirely sure about the rest of the decorations, I think I have my menu pretty much figured out. My main issue now is keeping the list small and manageable.

Menu:

1. Nachos

I have one of those mini-crock pots for dips and I'm thinking a little nacho bar would be easy and fit the theme perfectly. Plus I can skip regular chips and dips.

These pics actually come from a Baseball Themed Baby Shower (which is adorable), but you get the picture. i also found a way to make your own Paper Food Baskets, but it just depends on what I find and how lazy I'm feeling.

2. Mini Cheesecake Bites

I'll be honest here, I'm probably gonna buy a cheesecake from the bakery and just cut out little bites with a circle cutter. Even though this recipe is pretty easy, I tend to put too much on my plate and I want things to be as simple as possible. Plus, I don't even like cheesecake.

3. Tomato Soup Shooters with Mini Grilled Cheese

I was considering making Ina Garten's Pappa Al Pomodoro, but now I'm thinking of just doctoring up some store bought soup. Ina is my woman, but I want to keep things simple. Maybe I can make the soup before hand though. (Photo on the left from Fresh Tart. Photo on the right: unknown.)

4. Mini Caramel Apples (pic by Christaface)

I had planned on making full size caramel apples, but this is a much better idea. Seriously, I think I squealed a little when I saw these. They are so stinkin cute.

5. Baked Mini Corn Dogs

Again, I might just buy mini-corn dogs from the store, but these look adorable and simple. I make a full size version using Pillsbury bread sticks so I can always do the same here for a shortcut.

6. Cupcakes

This is where I'm a bit torn. Should I make something colorful like red velvet or should I make something less sugary like my all time favorite Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins. I'm leaning towards the pumpkin and I can always put little flags or cupcake toppers on them to make them more festive. (Circus Cupcake Kit from Meri Meri.)

On top of all that, I want to serve a lot of candy and other things (like animal crackers). I'm planning on making Paper Cones for cotton candy and caramel corn. I already have little popcorn containers I bought forever ago. I also plan on serving lemonade and having a bowl full of fake mustaches. I don't know why, but mustaches make everything better. Some veggies in a cup with dressing might be a good idea too (like this). Gotta have something to cut through all the sugar.

Now I just have to figure out my costume.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Music Thursday


New Music Thursday is an attempt to keep my goal of listening to some new music alive and kicking. Not all of these bands/artists are new to me, but all of the songs are. Also, I've decided I'm gonna start adding an old favorite to the mix since old loves are just as important as new passions.

These are the songs I'm diggin this week (bit of a weird mix):

Green Lights by Aloe Blacc:



A Better Place, A Better Time by Streetlight Manifesto:



Friday Night by Valencia:



Ocean Man by Ween:



This is a user video, but I thought it was amusing.

Nothing But The Water by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals:



Old Love:

I'm the Only One by Melissa Etheridge:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I'm Back!

As most of you know, I've been in California for the last few days. It was great seeing my family and friends but I'm also happy to be home. I noticed I felt like I was going home on my way to San Diego and on my way to Salt Lake. It's kind of a strange feeling when I think about it, but I suppose that's just the way it is when you move away from all your loved ones. I also found out that five days can feel like both a heartbeat and a millennium. I guess there's just no pleasing me.

Here are some pictures from the trip. I took far too many, but these will give you some idea of the fun we had.

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This trip was Holden's first time on an airplane and visiting the beach. It was also my first time in New Mexico since we had to fly there before heading back to Salt Lake. While it was mostly uneventful, I did have some amazing chicken enchiladas at the Sheraton in Albuquerque. Plus the view from the plan was the most beautiful I've seen so far. The clouds were incredible and I felt like I was a Care Bear. All in all we had a lot of fun and I can't wait to go back.

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Now it's back to the daily grind.