Monday, September 27, 2010

Cookies for Kids Cancer and Antiquing

First up...pralines! Why have I never made these before?
Next weekend I am participating in another charity bake sale. This time it is in support of Cookies for Kids Cancer. More specifically it is in support of two amazing young men (Noah and Caden), one beautiful angel (Chase) and their families that have been affected by this terrible disease. I was asked to break out my mixing bowls and measuring cups. Anything that I can do to help I will. A high turnout is expected because of the overwhelming support of friends and a small write up in the local newspaper (Around the Region),  I thought it might be the perfect time to try out some new recipes. I spent the better part of last week just trying to perfect a red velvet cupcake recipe. I am still working on it but I am determined to get it by the sale. I got the idea to sprinkle homemade pralines on top of the cupcakes to make them extra extra southern. After my first attempt at making them I found myself asking, "Where have these been all my life?" They are crunchy, sweet and salty (with my own addition of a sprinkle of sea salt to the recipe). The first batch didn't last for my second try at red velvets. I am actually grateful that I have not known how terrific these lil guys are because I am sure I wouldn't be able to fit through the front door if I had known about them before now. I can't wait to debut them next weekend.
On Saturday, even though it was scorching hot (at the end of September, I am more than ready for fall weather), I took a little trip to the Antique Warehouse. I was prepared to look and not buy but, for the most part, the prices were extremely reasonable. I got lots of inspiration for future decorating. The store is right off the freeway and when you pull into the parking lot the entrance can be kind of tricky to find. Good thing they have flags up at either side of the door to make things easier to figure out. The great things about this place is that it is comprised of multiple stalls that are rented out by people wanting to sell their collectibles. Every stall is different making it a place for all sorts of different styles. The staff is very helpful and will call the stall renter for you if you want to barter on an item. It had been years since I had last been and it was just as fun as I remembered it. Part flea market, part museum.
Below are some of my favorite and not so favorite finds.
The Good...
I had to show some real restraint when I found the cookie cutters and I loved the old tool boxes. I am a big lamp fan as well, can you tell? 
If I was going to buy anything it would have been a tea set bit nothing screamed out to me. I really liked the weathered cookie jar and the ice crusher might be on my Christmas wish list. I found some vintage linens with adorable retro bows printed on the corners that I thought seriously about buying. I forgot to get a picture of those (I think subconsciously so that no one else would buy them and I could go back and get them). 
My favorite things in the shop that day were these AMAZING porcelain bunnies...could you just die?!? I love them so much. These I definitely might go back to I just need to find out where I would put them...
The Bad...
What tha??? Old timey toilet? Kinda gross. 
...and The Downright Creepy...
Nightmare inducing dolls that follow you with their vacant eyes....creeeeeeeppppyyyy...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Highs and Lows

Today's high point of the day so far:
Turning the down the volume on my own radio to better hear 'Ain't No Fun (If the Homies Can't Have None)' coming from the car next to me so that I could sing along before the light changed. Surprised that I still remembered all the words...

Today's low point of the day so far (when I went to pick up the pup):
Having the groomer ask me as sweet as she could, 'Sadie's an only dog isn't she?'
Me: 'Why was she a brat?'
Groomer: 'Not a brat exactly...'
Me: '...a big baby...'
Groomer: 'Yeah...'

Sheesh dog, I can't take you anywhere...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Just Can't Get Enough

I escaped to San Francisco again this weekend and it wasn't even my idea.
Friday night my dad invited the Mr. and I to a Linguica Dinner at the local Elk's Lodge. For those that don't know I am an Elk, my dad is an Elk and my grandfather was an Elk...its kinda our thing. I wish I was a better Elk than I am. I am already late with my dues for this year and I have not volunteered for one event. Oktoberfest is coming up, maybe I will volunteer to help out then....Sorry, rambling...
We all had a little too much fun at the lodge that night and ended up shutting the place down. The next morning I woke with a start because I thought my cupcake order was due Saturday morning. Come to find out it was for the next day. Now I am awake, dressed and bored. The Mr. was awake as well and he casually said to me 'You wanna do something today'
Me: 'Kinda...what were you thinking?'
Mr.: 'I dunno, fishing or something...'
Me: 'Eh, I don't really want to go fishing...'
Mr.: 'How about San Fran...?
Me: ' don't have to tell me twice!'
I was up, on the computer checking out day trip ideas before he could even finish his sentence.
I have a book titled 'San Francisco, As You Like It' by Bonnie Wach. I love this book because it maps out wonderful day guides specific to the type of person that is visiting the city and what their interests are. Of course I want to take every single guides but I thought it was a perfect reference for someone like my husband because lots of times he is very anti-San Francisco (I have no idea what is wrong with him either). Of all days I could not find my copy so we ended up winging it. First stop was my brother's just to say a quick 'Hello' and then off to Union Square. On the way there we decided to first go to the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building and then to Chinatown. I parked in a garage in Union Square and we walked down to the market. Last time we were there we spent way too much money. This time we took a different approach. We spent a little money just sampling things. We each had an oyster for $1.50 a piece at the San Francisco Fish Company. The Mr. also had a clam for the same price. The oyster was amazing and so fresh. The Mr. said that he thought so as well and actually enjoyed the clam more.  Next stop was the Cowgirl Creamery. I can't begin to describe the smells wafting out of that place. It was incredible. I could have stood in line there all day.   We were going to buy a little sample of cheese (he wanted a Sharp Cheddar while I was eyeballing the Smoked Gouda) but the line was a little too long for us so we moved one. We passed Sharffen Berger Chocolate (which I have already tried and know how good it is) and Far West Fungi. We stopped at Boccalone and made the most expensive purchase that we made all day there. The Mr. bought a salami gift pack for $25. Miette was there as well and I can't pass that place up without buying at least two macarons. This time it was the Chocolate Lavender and the Chocolate Hazelnut. I think the hazelnut was my favorite this time...mmm....

We made it out of the market without spending all that much money and still feel that we got the full effect. I was starving and begged the Mr. to take me to lunch (although it was already around 3:00 at this point). We took the cable car up California to Grant to get to Chinatown. Many tourists don't realize that at California and Embarcadero the cable car that runs at that stop rarely draws the same crowd as the one at the  Powell stop at the base of Union Square. I hadn't ridden a cable car since I was about six years old and for $5 we spared ourselves a couple of blocks of walking uphill and enjoyed a San Francisco must-do at the same time.

We wandered around Chinatown for a bit before deciding to stop to eat at Yee's Restaurant. Walking into that restaurant was like walking into another world. Plates and plates of food was laid out on several tables when you first walk in and the smells were unbelievable. We were able to get a seat in the back and decided to split three plates. We had the Roast Pig, Broccoli with Oyster Sauce and Yee's Pan Fried Noodles. We ate like kings, had more than enough food left over to take home and were pleasantly surprised when our bill only came to be $24.00 for the both of us. We walked up to Broadway and I wished that I had enough room in my stomach for a little dessert because in Little Italy that is where you go to get amazing desserts. Unfortunately there was no room left. We walked back into Chinatown and stopped in a pet store that had a huge selection of fish. I told the Mr. that 'Who needs to spend $40 at the aquarium when we can go the Chinatown aquarium for free?'. We slowly made our way back to Union Square stopping along the way to look into all the fresh fish markets that dotted Stockton, the best ones being near Stockton and Pacific. The Mr. found a place to buy a few pork buns on Stockton as well.

After grabbing a quick coffee to get me through drive home, we made it back to our car. I was fully prepared to pay $40 for our fare but I must have read the sign wrong when we parked because our fare was only $14.00. We were back on the freeway in no time. Crossing the bridge and heading home I could see the sun start to set and a wisp of fog start to roll in and hover over the bay in my rear view mirror. I just can't get enough.
I forgot to mention this because it seemed so fleeting. While the Mr. was popped into a fish mart on Stockton I waited outside. All of a sudden I heard 'God Bless America' coming from half a block away. At the corner was a police escort directing traffic. When the song was over, the band quickly dispersed. Some left in convertibles directed by the police while others scattered on foot, headed in the opposite direction of other band mates. It really was the strangest thing.
Last thought I promise...
Below are pics of this weeks cupcake order. I used my cinnamon recipe and my chocolate recipe with a new chocolate frosting recipe that I liked much more than the one I posted previously. It was for a baby shower that a friend of mine hosted.
Very Chocolate Frosting
2 oz (1/2 stick) of butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
3 Tablespoon hot milk or water (I used coffee left over from this morning)
Whip butter until lightly fluffy. Mix together powdered sugar and cocoa power. Mix in half the sugar and cocoa into butter. Add the other liquids (milk, water, or coffee in my case) Mix in remaining sugar and cocoa until desired consistency is reached.

Sensing Sunday: September 12, 2010

(photo of Knight's Ferry from last year)

What I am:

Hearing:  'Maverick' with Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster and James Garner

Seeing: The leaves outside rustling in the late summer breeze. I can't wait for autumn to get here.

Smelling: Bed Head 'Dumb Blonde' and antibacterial soap.

Tasting: The last licks of homemade chocolate icing that was left over from today's cupcake order.

Feeling: Domestic. I have big plans to clean the house and grocery shop today...and of course Mad Men tonight!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Drinks With Dino Revisited

(photo credit Daily Icon)

When I abandoned that-other-social-networking-site-that-is-now-a-ghost-town, I had left behind some blog posts that I had put up before I found my new home here. I went through them tonight and had forgotten what gems some of them are. This week I am dedicating my posts to those long lost entries.

Its funny, I loved this before my infatuation (ok, obsession) with Mad Men and before I had ever experienced Palm Springs.

Drinks With Dino 
(originally posted in the 'best of' on Craigslist in 2006)

"I'm moving to Canada." Since the 2004 Presidential election, this phrase rings out in most political discussions. In fact, Canada does welcome Americans. They'll welcome you with open arms if have a post-graduate degree, own your own business, or already have a job lined up with one of the big accounting firms in Toronto, eh?

These next four years of military spending, education reforms that emphasize standardized test scores over actual learning, and the invasions of a pair of countries I can barely find on a map overwhelm me. I, however, won't contemplate moving to the Great White North. It's too damn cold there, and their money has ducks on it.

I have a better plan. I'm moving to another era.

Look in a box of old postcards. This is easy for me, since I live in Palm Springs, where the detritus of yesteryear is catalogued and sold. Retro is very popular where Sinatra's hangouts are treated like the Stations of the Cross. No question about it, back in the 50's and early 60's, this place was the bomb! Swimmin' pools. Movie stars. Dean Martin knocks a golf ball through your window: he comes over to apologize, and ends up staying for dinner. What a time we had that night! I'll never forget his story about playing blackjack in the steam room of the Sands Hotel. Oh, did we laugh.

Let's look at some other towns. How about New York City in the 1930's? Sure, there was rampant unemployment, but who wouldn't want to be there for the construction of the Chrysler Building? Especially if you knew a brand-new Gershwin musical was opening next week? Take me there!

Let's try Los Angeles during the Second World War. All the women all have great jobs building battleships. The music coming over the radio is so good, and it helps you forget that Johnny is off fighting in the Philippines. And the news is heartening! With the help of our staunch Russian allies, Hitler is on the run.

Honolulu in the 70's. Miami in the 80's. San Diego in the 60's. San Francisco in either 90's – the 1890's has loose women hanging out in saloons with feathers in their hair. The 1990's were much the same, only with men.

I've decided to move to Palm Springs in the late 50's. I'm going to go to the library to print out four years of newspapers off the microfilm spools. (Sure, it's going to be expensive, but it's nothing compared to the price of a condo in Vancouver.) I'm thinking of starting in 1957 and going to 1961. Each morning, I will smoke my pipe and read one full day's paper, sitting out on the verandah in my slippers. Oh yeah, I gotta go buy a pipe. And slippers. And a verandah. When I get home, I'll play nothing but Ella Fitzgerald and Elvis records, and cook dishes like tuna croquettes and beef roasts. Big beef roasts. I have a recipe for – get this – cherry Jello made with Coca-Cola and pieces of Twinkies floating in it.

I will reprogram my TV to just two channels, Turner Classic Movies and American Movie Classics. The radio will be locked on our local station KWXY, which I used to refer to as "the old people's station" but now I'll welcome for its nonstop Nelson Riddle with the occasional adventurous foray into Jo Stafford.

Sure, the plan isn't perfect. I can't quit my job as a criminal lawyer, so I will still deal with my drunk drivers, methamphetamine addicts, men who beat their spouses, and meth-addicted drunk-driving wife-beaters. A real 1950's man could only dream of a car like mine, my color television the size of an oven, or that amazing telephone I carry in my shirt pocket. Mr. Nineteen Fifty-Seven would have a heart attack if I took him to Costco. But it evens out – I covet his satisfaction about America's place in the world and his belief that the future holds nothing but good. He knows we beat the Jerries outta Europe and the Japs from the Pacific. Everyone has a job, and we're getting television-phones any day now – I know because they showed it at the 1956 World's Fair! Now if I could just stop referring to people as "Jerries" and "Japs" – that can't be nice. I also can't wait for my car that converts into a boat. Saw that one in Popular Mechanics.

So join me, will you? Imagine if all our neighbors moved to the 50's together. We could probably get a group discount on our cable service – remember? Just two channels. And we could hire a neighborhood kid to ride a shiny red bike every morning, delivering the antique newspaper with a satisfying thump against the front door.

Jimmy. The kid's name has to be Jimmy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"Like Buttah..."

All week I have been thinking that I should bring in something sweet to work. Later in the week a friend of mine asked me to make cupcakes for a baby shower that she is hosting and another friend asked me to make cupcakes for her sister-in-law's 30th birthday party (both parties are this month, score!!)  I have been wanting to practice and perfect a chocolate cupcake. To kill all those birds with one stone, I made chocolate cupcakes this evening. For the cake part I altered the French Toast Cupcake recipe. Instead of yellow cake mix I used Triple Chocolate Fudge cake mix. Instead of the vanilla pudding I used chocolate fudge pudding. I was trying to get these puppies as chocolaty and mouth watery as I could. I altered the recipe a tad more but those secrets I am keeping to myself. Sorry guys. I have to say, for the cake part, mission MORE than accomplished!
Now here's the tricky part. For the frosting, I used a recipe that called for 3 sticks of butter. It seem excessive but the chocolate I was to use was semi-sweet and I was to add at least 2 cups of powdered sugar (more to reach the desired consistency). I thought that maybe all of the ingredients combined would even out the flavors. I kept tasting the frosting and kept adding more powdered sugar until I felt I couldn't add any more. It still tasted a little too buttery for my liking. I frosted all the cupcakes and tasted the completed package and, although it tasted better, it still tasted too buttery. This is only my opinion though. You my very well like a buttery frosting, lots of people do. For me, I think I will keep looking for one that is more rich in dark chocolate flavor. I still have time to experiment.

*Magnolia Chocolate Buttercream
(from Suzybakes)

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 Tablespoons milk
9 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

1. To melt the chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Stir occassionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain. Remove from heat and let cool 5-15 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, on the medium speed on an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the milk carefully and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat well, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat on low speed until a desired consistency is reached.

* Yes from THAT Magnolia Bakery.

Although I used sugar crystals to decorate the cupcakes, I considered using sea salt. Opinions anyone? I had a chocolate cupcake topped with Fleur de Sel before and really liked the saltiness combined with the sweetness and the richness of the chocolate. I couldn't find Fleur de Sel at my local grocery store (go figure) but I was willing to improvise. I didn't this time because the frosting was so buttery that it already seemed a little salty and the sea salt might have been a little too much. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Headed West

No one wanted to go to the balloon festival with me. I begged the Mr. all week and was hopeful that he would go with me but he bailed at the 11th hour. I was left to go by myself. I wish that I had an earlier start because by the time I got to Color the Skies it was already 8:00 AM and most of the hot air balloons were already down for the morning.
Lowlights of my time there:
I missed most of the balloons.
I didn't stay long enough for the Patriots Jet Team
I missed my chance to go up in a hot air balloon for the bargain price of $10
I paid $5 parking and was only there about 45 minutes.
I had to go alone. I wasn't sure if dogs were allowed and when I got there I realized that I could have forced the dog to go with me. Unlike the Mr., she really has no choice in the matter.
Highlights of my time there:
All the bright colors turned up fantastically in the pictures I took.
The kite show was in full force.
I got a parking space right up front on account that someone was leaving.
The weather was gorgeous.
It wasn't too crowded.
...and the best part of my time there?
 On my way out of the parking lot I noticed the cutest older couple walking in holding hands. I had just enough time to grab the camera and snap a picture before they disappeared into the crowd.
The Festival
The Hot Air Balloons
The Happy Couple

After I left the festival I wasn't ready to go home yet. I was feeling adventurous and started to travel West. I called my brother to see if he had any time to meet up before he went to work if only for a few hours. No answer. I decided to keep driving and came up with a plan to head to Ikea. I hadn't been there in forever and a day and, although I barely had a dime to my name, thought that maybe I would just take a look. My brother returned my call when I had reached Livermore (about the halfway point from where I live to SF). I changed my plans again and headed into the city. It was a beautiful day and by the time I got there it was that grey area  between breakfast and lunch. You know, brunch. My brother and I took a walk through his neighborhood and ended up at Judy's on Chestnut. He ordered the Sourdough French Toast with Strawberries and I followed suit. We split an order of the Apple Sausage and we each had coffee and a glass of water. First up was the coffee. It was amazing. I took a sip and it stopped me in mid conversation. I can't pinpoint what it was, some earthy berry flavor...I don't know, whatever it was it gave it a very unique flavor. Next came the french toast and it was to die for and the sausage was the same. Everything was absolutely divine. For some reason, everything taste better in San Francisco. To work off our brunch and to kill time before my brother had to be at work, we walked around the Marina. As we walked by St. Francis Yacht Club (or as my brother and other 'locals' call it, St. Fancy Yacht Club on account of all the hoity toity rich patrons), I got a quick education on sailboats and a little history of the club. We walked alongside Chrissy Field and though the Palace of Fine Arts. Up a few more blocks we were back in the Presidio. I brag all the time of the sweet sweet neighborhood that my brother lives in and this time I got the pictures to prove it. We ended our trip with me dropping him off at the bookstore he works at on Chestnut and then I headed home.
This is Judy's and this is what we ate. The top was the before and don't worry, although I wasted a bit of food, I didn't finish it all. The bottom right made me laugh because every table had a 'pot of jam' and for some reason it reminded me of Six Degrees of Separation.
This is literally my brother's neighborhood. I wasn't kidding when I said he lives in a forest. The bottom right picture is what I called 'The Secret Starbucks' because during the weekend it stays pretty empty even though it has some of the best views of the entire city. Shhh...don't tell a soul.
This is from our walk around the St. Francis Yacht Club, Chrissy Field and the Palace of Fine Arts. 
I wanted to show what I am openly jealous of...see that white truck in the first frame? That is where I get to park when I visit. There is always a spot waiting for me in a city that stops people from visiting because of its shortage of parking. The second frame is one street over from my brother's apartment, could you just die? The third is on the corner across the street where he lives...nothing but meadow. Not fair. 

On my way home I decided to detour and take Altamont Pass Road. Instead of going through the Altamont, I drove somewhat around it. Without wasting much time, I was given a completely different view of the pass. 

That was my a nutshell. 

Sensing Sunday: September 5, 2010

What I am:

Hearing: "It's So Easy" Buddy Holly

Seeing: The pics that I took of my friend's baby shower and the ones that I took today from my adventures.

Smelling: "Romance" Ralph Lauren

Tasting: Sugar Free Mountain Dew Amp. Horrible, I know.

Feeling: Accomplished. I was go go go all day long and have only now sat down to rest my barking dogs.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Your Morning Cry

Danny & Annie.

Sobbing...thanks Cup of Jo
Related Posts with Thumbnails