31 October 2011

White Chocolate Raspberry Scones: Recipe FAIL

When people blog about food, they're either telling you how good or not so good it is, or showing you how to make it. Not today.  Today, in honor of Halloween, I'm going to tell you a most terrifying tale about my attempt to stray from the map of a perfectly good scone recipe that ends in complete and utter failure.  Why keep reading when I've just told you the ending?  Because, silly, it's always about the journey.

I'm not the first blogger to show off her culinary catastrophes: my good friend at Simply E3 Design has a similar post.  But unlike Elizabeth and her still amazingly photogenic "failures," mine wasn't worthy to go on visual record.  Seriously-- you'll thank me later. 

I love white chocolate chip and raspberry scones.  White chocolate is so sweet that I like to pair it with more bitter (like espresso) or bland (plain scone dough) flavors. The same goes for raspberries. Anyway, thanks to my oh-so-talented-in-the-kitchen mother in law, I have a great recipe for cinnamon chip scones. No, really, if you don't like scones you will LOVE these and if you do like scones you will love ME for introducing you to them. The dough has a buttermilk base which makes it more moist (or... moister!) and the cinnamon chips are so sweet that they form a nice flavor balance (these scones are very Zen). Thus, I decided to use the dough base and experiment with white chocolate chips and raspberries.

And so, I gathered all my materials, cut the butter into the flour/sugar/soda/salt/powder mixture, and was about to add the buttermilk when... it poured out in lumps (shudder).  I don't know about you, but I think buttermilk is disgusting before it passes its expiration date-- it's even more rank when it's sour.  This was the first warning sign that these poor scones weren't meant to be.  However, I persevered and used the power of the Internet and Google to find a recipe with similar measurements but used 1 cup of milk and 1 egg instead of buttermilk. Success!  (or so I thought)

Once the flour had been ever so gently moistened, I dumped that blob of dough onto the floured part of the counter and kneaded my ass off.  And kneaded and floured and kneaded and floured (this dough was particularly sticky)... then divided that ball of dough in two, patted each ball (heads out of the gutter please!) into a 7 inch pie ready for the butter and sugar coating.  But wait... I forgot something important.  Oh that's right-- I completely forgot to add the WHITE CHOCOLATE and RASPBERRIES!  Shit.

At this point I should have retreated or perhaps experimented by adding the chips and making slots for raspberry jam (which I happen to have on hand at all times... in case of an emergency... you never know, stop judging me ok!)-- that would've made sense.  Instead, I dumped the dough back into the bowl, kneaded in the chips (the scones were still salvageable at this point), and added the defrosted raspberries-- that killed it. More like bloody murdered it.  There was no bouncing back-- the juice was too much, I didn't have the right proportions, and more importantly my hands and the counter were covered in flour and sticky dough.  For a moment I stood, surveying the scene, taking in the damage, trying desperately to find a way out of this.  Into the garbage the dough went.  

Which brings me back to you and this blog.  Once I did the dishes... again... for the FOURTH TIME TODAY (I really miss having a dishwasher)... all I could think of was expressing my sadness the best way I knew how: singing Disney songs (I'm rocking out to "Just Around the Riverbend" at this very moment) and writing.  Learn from me, dear friends.  Unless you know the science of baking and are a wizard in the kitchen (and I'm not talking Harry Potter), consult an expert before wasting time, money, and butter.  That shit ain't cheap ("So this is Love" is playing-- I sound awesome).

Otherwise you might find yourself crooning out a ballad from "Cinderella" and eating your feelings with some not-so-great Pepperidge Farm chocolate chip cookies kept in the pantry for emergencies.

19 October 2011

Reluctant Adult

Ever feel like we're thrown into adulthood like a cat being thrown into a pool?  One day you're passing notes (or nowadays texting them) to your girlfriend about the latest dating gossip among music nerds or jocks or hippy kids, and the next you're expected to choose a career path, pay taxes, and consider dying for your country. Suddenly we're able to decide who is competent enough to run  a world super power and we aren't even running our own lives yet.  "18 = Adulthood" seems somewhat... ridiculous.

Of course, when I was eighteen I knew everything, could run the country myself, and still have time for a thriving social life (ok... my social life has never been "thriving" but you get the point).

Obviously everyone matures at different ages.  Some kids are ready for responsibility at 18 (or 5-- Dakota Fanning anyone?) while others shouldn't have it until their forties.  Other than the government wanting more money and more soldiers, who can really say who's an adult and who's a giant child with facial hair?  Not that I'm trying to promote free-loading adult children, I just hope the previous generations will be patient.  I have some friends with homes and babies and others who live with their parents to get back on their feet.  Some are still partying 24/7 and some are reaching pivotal points in their careers.  All different ages, different backgrounds, different perspectives, yet all trying to find their place in this world and what makes them happy.  It's interesting to watch everyone grow and change.

In case you're wondering... I have days when I feel so grown-up I could buy a house, raise five children to be doctors, take on dogs, and write a memoir about how I did it.  Then there are days I hate adulthood with a passion that will never die (those are the days I pay bills or have a hangover).  And finally, there are days when coloring with that amazing 64 crayon box (glitter crayons!!!) and making a Play-Doh buffet sound absolutely perfect. 

For me, full adulthood is still on the back burner.  Children won't come around until my 30's and I may never feel ready enough to take on a mortgage-- though in this economy who can blame me?  Don't misunderstand, I have the utmost respect for everyone who runs households, raises children, and possess thriving careers-- I am not ready.  Although I love being married, getting into bars, watching rated R films, and forming my own home, I love cartoons, staying up WAY too late, and spending days being useless (the kind of days when your parents would nag at you to "be productive").  Some times I'm tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, and I just need to STOP.  Take a break, watch a cartoon, play a video game, LAUGH, and forget I'm 26 with debts, work, and cares.  Not run from my problems-- no one likes a quitter-- and not reminisce about times past, but every once in a while see the world with innocent eyes and love the little things. And laugh at myself... taking yourself too seriously will age you by decades.

I will always be a kid at heart and try to see the humor in everything (even road rage)... It's time to stop feeling guilty for wanting that Lego set or Fisher Price kitchen (those babies are pimped out btw) and get into a Nerf gun war or make a finger painting self-portrait.

17 October 2011

Halloween Treats

As I said before, I've never been into Halloween, but with the parties coming up and the atmosphere in LA (Halloween is big out here if you hadn't guess)... I'm getting excited.

This is what I would need were I to plan an amazing Halloween party.  First up? Accessories to get you into the All Hallow's Eve mood.
This AWESOME sketch Dooney & Bourke Disney tote.  No, it doesn't scream "HALLOWEEN!" but it does scream "I LOVE DISNEY AND PEOPLE IN COSTUME AS ENTERTAINMENT!"
Halloween isn't complete without SOMETHING that's "Nightmare Before Christmas," hence this awesome razor back dress-- perfect for party planning in LA.

Witch Tinkerbell.  Man I wish this was a costume...... or that I had skills enough to make this a costume.

And don't forget the kids...

Now that you've got your costume, it's time to decorate the place!  I like these...

...they happen to look awesome in the Ghost Gallery.  And you can't forget the pumpkins for the Pumpkin Patch!!!

Now for some FOOD:

And of course drinks...

For entertainment, you should definitely do a bit of light pumpkin carving. 

Psh!  Cake.
And watch movies!!!  Be sure to get a variety for every taste, i.e. wusses like me vs. people with brass ones.

Be sure to add some cool make up to your costume.  I was thinking this for mine:

Well... I guess that's everything I'd pick for planning a kick ass party.  Hope you got some good ideas!  And if you have any money left over in your Halloween budget for yourself, take a day off and get your nails done!

I love this OPI set. You can give yourself Pumpkin nails (orange nail with green tips) or do a black and white French manicure... Black Tips and White Nails would be my preference.

Ummmmm..... are these not AMAZING?!

11 October 2011

And the winner is...

The WITCH!!!!

"Say what?!" you ask?  Well.... I was going to pick the Grecian Goddess because I'm practically divine anyway BUT... their plus size doesn't quite reach MY size.  Sad Panda.  So this is the runner up.

Oh well, I hope this works out so that next year I can use the same dress and be a Renaissance Woman-- I even have shoes to match!  And since me wearing glitter seems to be the general consensus, I shall incorporate it anyway I can.... I may even buy a wig to get into the ghoulish spirit! Plus this costume will give me a chance to use my amazeballs Harry Potter wand my lil bro got me for my birfday.

If it doesn't fit... I'll just paint my face, get trashed, and no one will care!!!

09 October 2011

Halloween Costume Contest!

It's that time of year again!  Ghosts, ghouls, goblins, guys can dress as superheroes and.... girls can be as slutty as they want! (but for only one day... okay, weekend)

I'm going to be honest with you: I am not into Halloween.  Perhaps it's the annual struggle to find decent costumes for my plus size awesomeness; or maybe it's the fact that I can no longer go door to door begging for candy.  Either way, Halloween is a holiday I've always appreciated from a distance-- I'm not into scary movies, candy hurts my teeth, and dressing up is for thin/pretty people.  I LOVE seeing people in costume, I'm just not a fan of doing it myself.

HOWEVER-- this year we've been invited to a Halloween party and I need to get a costume soon before I miss the boat and have to get a psychedelic shirt and claim I'm a "hippie." BOOOOORING!  So I went to "Ye Olde Trusty Google" (that's what I'm calling it now) and found a few not-so-bad options of all different prices. What do you think?? Just remember a few things: I am plus PLUS size, 5'11", live in California, and am a bit shy when it comes to dressing up.  

Let's start off simple: Supergirl. Classic, not slutty, and definitely worthy of my nerdiness.

Marilyn Monroe.  Yes, I have shoes for this, but I would need to buy a wig.

Fairy.  (I secretly love this)

This is, by far, the most complex costume: Vampiress of Versailles (or something like that).

Dragonfly (but I have a feeling I'd be mistaken for a fairy a few times)

Grecian Goddess.  Also would need a wig. I like it but perhaps I should go with something a bit more subtle... like this:


Then I found this HI-larious couples costume:

Opinions are welcome!

07 October 2011

The Watcher in the Woods

I have a mild obsession with bad awesome films. The poor dialogue, the bad acting, horrible SFX, the cheesiness of a less than subpar story-- a perfect storm of film crapitude.  There's something to be said about movies that are so bad they're hilarious.

This film is in honor of Halloween: The Watcher in the Woods.  Take a look:

It's old school Disney, the kind that liked to scar children for life (Pinochio, Dumbo, BAMBI). It has the great (yet slightly horrifying) Bette Davis.  Kyle Richards is the younger daughter (Real Housewives of Bev Hills woot! woot!) and the mother is the woman who plays the awful, wanna-beat-her-over-the-head-with-a-baseball-bat grandmother from Kindergarten Cop. Plus, it was made in 1980 so you still get those great 70's hairstyles, clothes, and electronic music. Honestly, what's not to love?

To sort of explain the plot, it's about a family who needs to rent a home in the English countryside for reasons still unknown to me (especially since the musician father keeps traveling to the city for work).  Not surprisingly they come across a HUGE SECLUDED MANOR (the all-caps is my "it's so creepy it's obvious" meter) owned by a RECLUSE OLD WOMAN who LIVES IN THE COTTAGE OFF THE MAIN HOUSE.... and she had a daughter THE SAME AGE AS THE ELDEST GIRL who WENT MISSING DECADES AGO.  All of this you learn in the first 10 minutes of the film. Obviously the story goes into the mystery of what happened to the daughter but this isn't the time for spoilers.

It's actually based off this book:

So I definitely think the book is worth a read since so much is left unexplained in the film (what a surprise).  I remember this film from my childhood-- one that creeped me out as a kid even though I'm really a wuss brave-- along with Something Wicked This Way Comes (another creepy Disney adaptation). If you get a chance, rent both of them and tell me what you think; and if I get to see SWTWC, I'll write you about it! Happy watching!

06 October 2011

Current Favorites

I know there's supposed to be a "Part 2" to the Cali blog buuuuuuuuuut... it's time to lighten things up.  I missed the September issue (for obvious reasons) and now have LOADS to share.

Fact: Zooey Decshanel rocks. This show is hysterical, no joke-- watch it.  And if you're like me and don't have TV (tragic!), you can watch the episodes online (hooray for internet).

The Americana in Glendale, CA.  One sexy outdoor mall made to look like a ritzy European (probably French) shopping district.  There's a movie theater, Sephora, Barnes & Noble, Kate Spade, and a fountain (anything with water and cobblestones wins me over every time).

Though you don't know this, I have GREAT hair.  I might be exaggerating (only a little) but I do have healthy and soft hair. Sexy Hair's tri-wheat leave in conditioner is what I've used since high school.  I stopped using it for a couple weeks-- just used crappy normal conditioner-- then got my haircut. It was the first time EVER a stylist told me my hair was dry. Never again!
(and your actual shower is shorter since you don't have to condition)

Plus you can look awesome doing this:

Moving on... this is Monkey Picked Oolong-- my FAVE loose tea ever. It helped me lose 17 pounds (until I gained it back exploring the restaurants in my new area... don't judge).  It aids in digestion, boosting the metabolism, and has fluoride for your skin and teeth.  It's $25 per 2 oz at Teavana BUT I found this website that has it for $15.30 per 2 oz.  I haven't had a chance to verify if it's the same tea but I'm pretty confident it is-- I'll get back to you on that.
Nails Inc. rocks, and not just because it's British but that's a huge part of it.  This particular shade I love for fall (and winter, let's be honest) is Piccadilly Circus.  Found at a Sephora near you.

Starbucks's newest fall treat: the Salted Caramel Mocha.  It's delicious hot, iced, blended... and the whipped topping is fabulous. To kick it up a notch, make it a WHITE MOCHA. My drink this season: Grande nonfat 2 pump white mocha 2 pump toffee nut Salted Caramel Mocha without whip (what? I'm watching my girlish figure).
For all you cat owners out there... Tiki Cat is the best stuff around!  My cats won't eat any other wet food (except Mack and Jack by Weruva) and frankly I don't want them to.  No preservatives, chunks of real tuna, crab, chicken, salmon-- YOU could eat this with your cat.  Major pet supply stores don't carry it, but I've found Tiki Cat at a few independent stores, as well as Kriser's, and it runs about 98 cents a can.  You can also get it on Amazon in 12 packs.

My husband is the true gamer in our household, but I'm a sucker for this PS3 exclusive: God of War. It's a hack and slash (you bet I'm hip to the gamer lingo, yo)-- which means I get to viciously kill everything without aiming and worrying about combos plus it's super violent.  Definitely a girl's game.  It follows Kratos, an angry Spartan royally fucked over by the gods and out for blood.  The dude's a bad ass.  The technical term is adventure game with some puzzles mixed in for good measure.  There are 5 games total: God of War 1 and 2 (remastered for the PS3), 3, and "Chains of Olympus" & "Ghost of Sparta"-- both for the PSP and now remastered to the PS3.  So. Much. Fun.

Lana Del Rey. 
Her music is my new obsession thanks to this gal.  Check it out on Grooveshark but make sure to YouTube the music video for "Video Games." It's all LA and reminds me of video footage from the 60's.

What are you in love with at the moment???

02 October 2011

Journey to California

Like the new look?  I figured with the new location, new life, new beginning... a new template was in order. And so... we moved. Hubby and I made the trek cross country with our two cats and are officially residents of California. As I write to you, I'm surrounded by boxes, bags, crap strewn everywhere (I should really be unpacking)-- it's lovely chaos.  To most people it looks like a damn mess, but to me, in my current reflective state, it's the evidence of change, growth, the future... my dreams becoming reality.  Sure, there are still the logistics of daily life: health, bills, jobs, networking (can't forget about those); however, we took the first step.  Many people never even make it out here-- half the battle has ended with our gorgeous new apartment.

Can you believe it's over?! Four years of hoping, planning, stresses-- done. Finished. Of course there'll be new ones in this new place and new culture-- such is life-- but God guides the way and hasn't led me astray yet. 

The planning seems so long ago... almost like a dream...

Okay I'll tell you about it (if you're going to twist my arm).  

After switching our moving company at the last second-- like... a week before the move-- because of their scheduling error, we gathered our things together in loads of boxes. Not without help and not without me pulling an all nighter the last day.  Oi.  Too old for that shit.  Saying goodbye to Appleton was more difficult than expected, especially for my husband. He has two grade school age siblings that he loves very much and vice versa (and I do too fyi); we've spent tons of time with them since we moved back to Wisconsin and have grown close.  I miss those kids-- they're great and watching them grow up the last few years has been amazing.  It makes me excited to have my own (some day WAY down the road).  Fortunately the chill of fall also crept into northern Wisconsin as we prepared to leave-- perfect for pumpkin spice lattes, evening walks, and a reminder of why we love the Midwest so much.

Once the movers came and went, we headed down to Chicago to spend a week with my family and say "so long" to friends.  This was also harder than expected. No I didn't cry when I said goodbye to my parents and drove away in the minivan-- I have a heart of stone, remember?-- but I still felt this sadness. On the Wednesday before we left, I listened in to the choir rehearsal at the church where I was baptized, confirmed, taught chimes, sang in choir myself, got married... yeah... that hit me. Though I haven't been involved in the church for a few years now due to location, it always feels like home when I return to Algonquin.  As I stared at the stained glass windows that open slightly to let in a little air when it gets warm (especially on Easter Sunday), wood beamed ceiling, the creaky wooden pews where my brothers and I drew pictures in the sign-in book during the services as kids and where I later observed the smiling faces of my loved ones when I married the love of my life, I felt an overwhelming calm with a hint of heartache.  God was telling me to let go and find my own home, my own place, my own church in which to plant roots.  Such a bittersweet beginning. Yet it meant so much to see the friends we did, to have home cooked meals with family-- my mother-in-law made an awesome Mexican lasagna and my mom cooked a Thanksgiving meal since we'll be on the West Coast for the holidays this year. How blessed we are to have such amazing people in our lives. And it is such a gift to be missed.

And so... we left for Cali in our own procrastinated time.  You see, my family always left for long road trips at the butt crack of dawn. Make a bunch of checklists, pack the day before, cross off stuff on the checklists, load the van with what you can, double check the checklists, and make sure there are drinks and bakery goods for breakfast in the car.  This routine is probably usual for most people actually, but we march to the beat of our own drum.  You see, hubby and I are night owls. So the Friday we were to leave... we slept in, gathered our things up, had brunch with my parents, then loaded the van (which took an hour!), and left at 2pm.  Go us.  But honestly, we had the BEST timing ever during the whole road trip: hardly any construction slow downs, we missed all the rush hour traffice, and we got to see a Midwestern, Mountain, and Desert sunset-- how wonderful.

I won't bore you with details about the hotels, rest stops, etc. but I will offer a few words of advice based solely on my recent experience (in others words, if you think this advice is complete crap that's A-ok):

1. Mountain driving through Denver is scary and intense if you've never done it before and don't know what to expect. Just sayin'

2. AAA is awesome and totally worth the membership fee. Do it.

3. Get a Next Exit book for any road trip.

4. Always always ALWAYS call ahead to check if hotels take pets. Each individual hotel is different. And double check that they know you've got animals when you check in.

5. If your animals are fine in the car there is no need to sedate them.

6. Even if you don't have to go that bad, pee when you need to pee.

Not only was this move to California all the amazing things I stated above, but it offered me the chance to drive across the United States. My one regret was not being able to turn it into a week long road trip to stop and see the sights (we did Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California in one day).  It's impossible to do with two cats.
I know there is so much crap going on with our country right now in terms of politics, culture, economy, etc... but man... the USA is one GORGEOUS place. You don't realize until you drive through plains, mountains, canyon land, desert, and end at the ocean, how lucky we are to live in such a vast and varied country.  

Life really is one hell of an adventure.