Archive for March, 2014

Baking, Lately

March 29, 2014

If you know me at all you probably have an idea about how much I love to bake, if you don’t know me then this post should make it obvious, ha! Here’s a look at some things I’ve baked and managed to document over the past few months.

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I’m quickly gaining a reputation for these sugar cookies and to be honest they really are the most delicious sugar cookies you’ll ever gobble down. The secret is in the recipe (found here), it uses powdered sugar instead of regular granulated sugar which gives the dough a soft, pillow-y texture and helps the cookie to hold its shape during baking.

I boxed up some of these Christmas cookies to send to our grandparents up in Massachusetts. Naturally, I made a couple lobster cookies to top off their care packages. Aren’t they cute?!

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Cupcakes for our Superbowl watching party…I clearly just have way too much fun with this, it’s an addiction that I don’t care to break :)

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A recipe for a delicious, moist, rich, full-flavored chocolate cake is something that I’ve always searched for and I finally found it. This is literally THE. BEST. CHOCOLATE. CAKE. EVER. The recipe came from Smitten Kitchen and when paired with some homemade raspberry filling, it’s just divine.baking04

When I make this cake I always have a little leftover batter because the recipe is for two 9″ pans and I use 8″ pans. No big deal, I use the extra to make half a dozen little cupcakes. I made this cake for our New Years Even party and it was a huge hit.baking05

These earth sugar cookies were for a “welcome to the world” themed baby shower for a friend. It’s fun to experiment with new decorating techniques, I think this was the first time I tried lining and flooding.

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And here are some more baby shower cookies from last weekend. I loved making the little onsies and the smiling sunshines.

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They just look so happy!

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I’ve also dabbled in some bread making lately. Even though we don’t eat bread much, I love to make it from scratch; there’s just something about working a ball of bread dough in your hands that’s therapeutic. This is a honey wheat loaf that was super simple to make, recipe is from Life In Grace.

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I love to volunteer to bake a cake when someone’s birthday falls on or near a small group event and last week we had our first outdoor cookout of the season so this hamburger cake seemed appropriate. Nobody believed me when I told them but this was seriously the easiest cake I’ve ever made. Instead of delicately icing the entire outside of the cake layers all I had to do was squirt some on with a couple piping bags. White for mayo, green for lettuce, yellow for mustard and red for ketchup…throw a few sesame seeds on top and voila it’s a burger!

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Nothing brings me more joy than seeing something I’ve made bring happiness to someone else; cookies and cakes are pretty good at doing that ;)

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Bear Valley 2014

March 28, 2014

This spring we made the drive to Arnold, CA to once again have a fun winter weekend with our small group friends. We’ve nixed the title of “ski trip” and officially dubbed it a “winter weekend” since most people have children now (except for us and the Krouts, holla!). Mark and I still hit the slopes for a good part of the day on Saturday while everyone else did some sledding and playing in the snow.

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It was quite warm with temps well over 50 degrees on the slopes so we quickly regretted any and all layers that we had put on. There were plenty of people wearing shorts, jeans, t-shirts or no shirt at all which was hilarious and reminded me of when we used to ski in New Mexico. Only a few of the trails had icy spots so overall I’d say the snow quality was pretty good. We survived without sweating too much and had a nice time just the two of us.

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We’d been hearing from everyone in Tahoe that the snow was pretty weak this season thanks to little rain and an early spring. Here’s a photo looking down one of the runs and you can clearly see a line where the snow ends.

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And here’s a shot from that same vantage point on our trip last year. What a difference! Regardless, the views were spectacular, the skiing was fun exhausting and the company was tops :)

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Marin Headlands

March 27, 2014

Mark and I finally made the drive up north of the city to do some hiking in the Marin Headlands last month. The views of the Golden Gate bridge with the backdrop of San Francisco were absolutely breathtaking.

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There are lots of places to stop and take in the views on the way up and then all of a sudden the road turns into a narrow, one-way drive on the steep trek down the backside of the hills. With nothing but the vast Pacific in front of you, it almost felt as if you were driving off into the ocean.

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The western side was unbelievably picturesque, like something straight off of a postcard.

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We hiked over to this small lighthouse that you could only get to by foot; you also had to cross a swaying footbridge to reach it.

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It was great to venture out and experience a new part of NorCal. With the weather starting to make a turn for summer hopefully we’ll be spending more time outside and finding new places to explore!

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2014: Q1

March 12, 2014

What? We’re almost through the first three months of 2014? And my last post was about Christmas? Oops. In my defense I have a legitimate excuse…I started my own business! At the end of January I quit my job at 24hr Fitness and got to work submitting paperwork to obtain a business license and all that other fun stuff that comes with becoming a small business owner. It’s been quite a process, sometimes challenging, sometimes frustrating, but at the end of the day I’m finally doing what I love full time and I couldn’t be happier. Big shout out to my incredible hub who let me quit my day job and who is letting me stay home and build signs all day long; he’s the best.

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My business is called Would You Believe Wood and I design and build hand painted reclaimed wood signs to be sold on Etsy. If you’re not familiar with Etsy, it’s basically an online marketplace for individuals to sell their handmade goods (anything from jewelry to home decor to art to clothing). I’ll be sharing another post soon with more details about my new venture.

But for now back to the original purpose of this post, a photo dump from the past three months. It’s honestly the easiest way to “catch up” without actually writing a bunch of posts…some might call it cheating or lazy but I prefer the word efficient :)

Let’s start from the beginning, aka: 12:00am, January 1, 2014. We rang in the new year once again with great friends, great wine and great food. Last year our wine won second place in the blind tasting but sadly, this year we got second to last. Womp, womp.

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We are bound and determined to make our California friends love football as much as we do but that’s no easy task, they weren’t brainwashed growing up in the South like we were. These pretty cupcakes for our Superbowl party helped though!

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The first week after I quit my job I helped a friend renovate her bathroom; we had almost no idea what we were doing but we were excited to learn from her dad and brother who are both contractors so we figured we’d be ok. Basically every morning Haley’s brother would stop by and give us instructions for the day, then we would get to work for a solid 8+ hours and go to bed exhausted. It was fun…most of the time…if you call mixing thinset a billion times fun. It was definitely fun learning how to use a wet saw to cut tiles :)

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We started by tearing up the existing vanity, floor tile, hardware and shower insert. Then after lots of prep-work (the part you never think about but takes the longest) we laid the floor tile and lined the shower with waterproofing. Here we are a couple days later laying the floor to ceiling subway tile in the shower. Haley was the butterer and I was the layer, the dynamic duo!

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And here’s the beautiful shower after grouting! I am in love with that pebble floor…it was a pain to install but I still love it.

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Here’s a before photo during the demo…

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And an in progress photo before the subway was grouted and before the shower door was installed…

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And finally the gorgeous after photo!

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For Valentine’s Day Mark and I spent a weekend in Monterey and we stayed at a cute little 18 room boutique hotel called Hotel 1110. It was super nice and a welcome change from your typical Marriott, very “hipster.” We had an amazing dinner at our go-to fancy pants place, Restaurant 1833, where we tried bone marrow for the first time and indulged in their famous bacon cheddar biscuits with maple chili butter. The weather was quite beautiful and sunny while we were there so we spent our afternoons walking along the beach searching for sand dollars.

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Things are finally budding, flowering and greening up around San Ramon thanks to a few good rains over the past two weeks. I don’t want to speak too soon but unless something else blows through in the near future I think we’re in the clear for our 8 months of non-stop sunny gorgeousness. I personally cannot wait for the temps to break 80, this girl misses her long Texas summers.

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