Monday, September 29, 2008

Life's Riches

Doesn't it seem that too often we don't reward ourselves? I know, for myself, that I always feel a sense of guilt if I splurge on something special, or buy something that I know I shouldn't, or even eat something that isn't necessarily healthy. I beat myself up over these things and even am to the point where I sometimes feel that I don't deserve my splurges. I scold myself for "rewarding" myself.

It wasn't until recently that I realized how unhealthy not splurging is. If I tell myself that I can't have a hamburger or a donut, I'll end up binging out on ice cream. If I tell myself that I'm not worth a pedicure twice a month then I feel like I can't spend my hard earned money on two days a month of pampering myself. If I don't allow myself to buy things for my new apartment, then I always come to home to an empty house, which makes me feel depressed.

Now don't get me wrong, I"m not saying that I'm gonna run out and buy a brand new car just because I've been wanting one for a few years and fell like I deserve it. I think there are smart ways to splurge on yourself to keep you from getting stuck in a rut. I also think that the occasional smart splurge can take you to a higher place, mentally.

For example, when I'm able to eat the finest food in my little one bedroom, 812 sq ft apartment, it takes me somewhere else mentally. I can picture myself sitting at a fine dinning restaurant, surrounded by first class people. It's incredible to be able to bring that sense of "high class" home with you. That's exactly the feeling I got with this week's
TWD recipe.

I have always thought of Creme Brulee as something very fancy, hard time make and only worthy to touch the lips of people who have a lot of money. I don't know where this impression came from, but I'm sure My Best Friend's Wedding didn't help my thoughts of Creme Brulee. And I had my doubts when Mari of
Mevrouw Cupcakes chose Dorie's Creme Brulee. But I was amazed to find out how easy the recipe actually is.

I wanted to kick my Creme Brulee up a notch, since plain Creme Brulee just wasn't fancy enough, so I steeped some Chai Tea bags into my milk, and added cinnamon to my egg mixture. Within five minutes I had completed my Creme Brulee batter! It was just that simple. The result was amazing! Very creamy and exotic tasting, yet comforting to the soul. Which taught me one thing. I don't have to be high class or non-splurgant to enjoy in life's riches!

Friday, September 26, 2008

My Big Fat...

There are so many things that could finish this title.

First things that comes to mind is My Big Fat Crazy Family. (But I'm sure many bloggers could say the same thing). I'm tellin' you my family is a crazy group of people. First there's Dad, who is ultra reserved until Coors Light shows up, which turns Dad in to a fun loving, joke crackin', "what'd you say?", kinda guy. He often has many moments of forgetfulness too. You can tell him something one minute, and two minutes later he'll have totally forgot what you said.

Then there's Mom. She's a crazy lady who can totally keep herself entertained. I remember, as a kid, she would make up the dumbest jokes and she would die laughing over them for about an hour. For example, here in New Mexico there's a little city know for its caverns called Carlsbad. Well we had gone down to Carlsbad for a family vacation, and Mom's big joke was "Oh Carl's bad". We just looked at her with a blank stare as she broke out in laughter. Thank goodness she decided not to become a comedian :)

Third is me. And I already know that I'm a nuthead. I'm ultra controlling, things have to be done my way or no way. (Which is something I'm working on desperately to fix). I'm also very silly and stupid. Andy hates it, but I always talk in weird voices or constantly quote from movies.

Finally is Chris, my younger brother. He's always making up these crazy inventions. We used to have a big huge trampoline outside called, The Tramp. Well Chris came up with this crazy idea to take the wheels off his bike and put padding all over the frame. He then proceed to use the padded bike to do flips and tricks on The Tramp, kinda like a motorcross rider does tricks off a dirt ramp.

But, I guess every family has their crazy stories. With those stories come some of the fondest memories, hardest laughs and face streaming tears. And there is no way I would trade my crazy family for anything in the world.

However, of all the things that I could use to complete the My Big Fat title , I would say that My Big Fat Chocolate Chip Cookie would have to be the best choice! Months ago I watched Bobby Flay throw down with
Levain Bakery, and I was star struck. These cookies from Levain were the biggest cookies I had ever seen. I slowly started seeing copycat recipes pop up and finally decided to give them a try. I used this recipe from Cookie Madness, but made one small change. I found a Lindt chocolate bar that had a cherry chile filing, so I chopped that up and substituted it for half of the regular chocolate chips.

I cannot tell you how good these were! Each cookie is 4 ounces, which you can see from the picture. They were so big that the 12 cookies were overflowing out of my cookie jar. I'm sure this shouldn't be a problem though seeing as I don't think they'll last very long. So here's to many Big Fat things in our lives that end up being
the greatest blessings (in disguise).

Monday, September 22, 2008

Life is Full of Dimples

Dimples...isn't that one of those facial features that everyone wishes they had? Dimples are always a sign of innocence and beauty. A feature, whose goal is to cause envy. Envy of a smile that is so stunningly cute that it was poked at the end, like an exclamation point of a sentence. As with dimples, there are many other things about other people, and the way they live their lives that I envy and am jealous about.

One of those things is, and it seems so simple, is belonging to a book club. I, for the longest time, had heard people talk about book clubs and the tons of books that they are able to read, and share with others. I had a friend in college, who was an ARMY wive, that belonged to the "ARMY Wives Book Club". Everywhere I turned, book club, book club! Oprah's book club, Barnes and Nobles book club. U-G-H!!

Until January 2008, when my best friend Annmarie and I had had it! We were going to start our own book club. Our very first book was "Kite Runner". That book ended up being one of my all time favorite books. We try to get through a book a month, sometimes it takes us a month and a half. We are currently reading "The Hours", and I have no complaints so far!

It's so great to share a love for books with someone, be able to sit down, over a cup of coffee and talk about what we as individuals are taking from the book. We have decided to keep our book club at a two person limit. Not that we don't want to share our club with anyone else, but as two young adults we feel that the start of our book club is something sacred. Something that the two of us can share in, hoping that others look at us the way I look at dimples.

While immersed in my September book, I couldn't help but also be introduced to the perfect book reading cake!
Dorie's Dimply Plum Cake (except made with Peaches) was the perfect compliment to my cup of Chai Tea and an hour on the couch with the women of "The Hours". Michelle of Bake-En couldn't have picked a better recipe for me.

As mentioned earlier, I traded plums for peaches. I am a die hard peach fan and decided that grapefruit zest might make an interesting accent flavor. Sprinkle in a little cinnamon and you've got one heck of a cake. The peaches were so sweet, but were hit with a little grapefruit punch right at the end. And the cake is so buttery and light that I had to force myself to stay away from the pan. Here's to everyone whose every turned envy into passion and love!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's Alive!!!

It's Alive! It's Alive! Buhhaaaaha!!!

My camera that is! As many of you know, new puppy Chloe tore my USB cord to shred, so I've been using my cell phone to upload my pictures (which has been a real pain in my ass). But, yesterday Andy and I went to WalMart to buy some groceries. We were kind of wandering around and happened up the Electronics department. "Do you think they'll have my cord?" "Doesn't hurt to get check..." So off I went to the counter to ask the almighty question.

"Well no we don't carry those those cords here," Mr. Man with a big Santa beard said. "But, if you're only looking to upload your pictures on to the computer we have a memory stick for it." He guides me over to the large rack of camera accessories and picks up this tiny plastic package. "This here device lets you take your memory card out of the camera, and upload the pictures to the computer." BRILLIANT!!

I was so excited to get home and try it out. But, I have to admit, I was a little skeptical. I just had a bad feeling that this new toy just wasn't going to work. I took it out of the package (fingers crossed) and stuck it into my USB port. Then, with a hope and a prayer, I took out my memory card and inserted in to the little device.

Next thing I knew I hard a "ba-ding" from my computer letting me know that it had reckognized a new device. And suddenly, to my heart's amazement the screen for my picture download came up!!!! WOO-HOO!

So I give you my TWD Chocolate Chunkers!! Thanks WalMart!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Adventures of Chloe

A day in the life of Chloe...

2:30 am - Wake up with Baxter, follow him to front door and whine to go outside. Keep whining until Mom wakes up and bring me my pink leash. As soon as I see Mom I start swaying this long thing back by my legs that Mom and Dad call a tail. Mom grabs my leash and I start jumping for joy. The big door to the outside finally opens and I am free...for 5 minutes. I love feeling the breeze blow through my hair, but hate the wet pokey grass sticking me in the feet. I run to the front door and scratch to get in, because I am dying for a cookie! I hate when Mom makes me do tricks for my cookie though, oh well. No tricks, no cookie. I gobble my cookie up quick-quick, because Baxter chews fast and I hate sharing. Back to bed now.

7 am - Whoa! It's time to wake up! Mom's in the shower and I gotta get in there to steal the blue things that she always wears on her feet. This is the only time those things aren't guarded so I gotta grab them quick. Aha, got 'em! Now out to the living room to chew on them...ah damn, Mom's yelling at me to bring them back. Quick hide, then she'll never know it was me!

7:30 am - Eat some breakfast. Go out on porch, sniff around for crazy flying critters that I can jump at. I see Baxter staring at me and challenge him to a dual. He hates when I bite the ears, so that's the first thing I go for! Now the feet, now poke him in the side with my nose. Now whack him with my "tail" weapon! Ha ha, he runs away to Mom...I win!

8:30 am - Mom leaves to work, Dad goes shortly after. I hunt around for fun things to play with.

1:00 pm - Mom's back and finds out that I found some treasures. I don't know why she seems unhappy. I did a good job at tearing all those cords up! I even got in the bathroom and cleaned out the trash, I should be getting a cookie for all of my help! Egh- oh well. If I give her kisses she'll forgive me...I'm not worried.

7:00 pm - Mom and Dad stay in the kitchen making lots of noise, but things smell so yummy. I'm jealous. I beg for a taste, but they never give in. Wait, what's this? Ah my squeaky duck it glaring at me, he wants to wrestle. ATTACK! I fling him around to get him a little confused then I bite at his belly, SQUEAK SQUEAK. Yeah, take that, and that! Now I tear at the face, his fluff is going everywhere! I win!!

9:00 pm - Finally it's bedtime, I'm exhausted. At least I know I beat all my competitors today. And now I dream about treasures to find tomorrow.

(The smell that Chloe smelled this particular evening was my Banana Peanut Butter Chip Cake with Caramel Drizzle)
Banana Peanut Butter Chip Cake with Caramel Drizzle
1 box yellow cake mix
1 c mashed bananas
1/3 c water
1/3 c vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 bag of peanut butter chips
Jar of caramel sauce

Heat oven to 350, spray 13x9 baking dish with nonstick spray.

In large bowl, beat cake mix, bananas, water, oil, eggs and vanilla extract with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Pour into pan. Sprinkle peanut butter chips evenly over batter.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Run knife around sides of pan to loosen cake. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Pour caramel sauce overtop and serve.

Monday, September 8, 2008


This week's theme is compromise. I am trying to compromise with my camera (see previous post for info). I had this ingenious idea that my video camera can take pictures, and that was going to be the solution to my problems. Only problem was the battery on the cam-corder is dead, and the charger is at my parents house. Ok, I'll compromise...I'll go over to their house and get the charger. Yes, yes, yes! I was so excited on the way home thinking that I had my camera problem all figured out.

Well, I pull out the cam-corder and realize it's the wrong charger. That's just great! As I look around the house trying to get an idea of what else I can use for my pictures I glance at my phone to check the time. Wait a minute! My phone takes pictures! Yes, that's right. It takes pictures I can totally e-mail them to myself and post them on my blog. Problem solved.

Well, turns out that the pictures aren't the best quality, but you know what, at least it's a picture! And that is good enough for me!

Being on the theme of compromise, I decided to "compromise" this week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe a little bit. Rachel of Confession of a Tangerine Tart chose a most fabulous chocolatey cookie. Da-da-da-daaaaaa...Chocolate Whopper Malted Drops!! And might I say, if you like chocolate, this is the cookie for you! The recipe calls for regular Whoppers and Chocolate Chips, which I had to compromise with Reese's Peanut Butter Whoppers and Peanut Butter Chips. I'm an addict for chocolate and PB, and these cookies hit the spot. The chocolate fudigness of the cookies really brought out the nutty PB flavor, and are great dunkers in a glass of cold milk.

Obviously these were a hit with Andy, because I made these cookies in the morning, and by bedtime, this is what my cookie jar looked like.

Bake on Bloggers!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

This is NOT How I Planned It!

Andy and I got a new puppy!! For Andy's birthday I decided to surprise him with our new little addition. She's a six month old black terrier mix, who has the sweetest face ever! Andy was so excited, because he hasn't had his "own" dog since he was eight!! We decided to name our little girl Chloe. At first she was a little shy, I adopted her from the ABQ Animal Shelter, but she warmed up to us in a hurry.

I had it all planned out that I was going to post about Chloe and show you guys just how cute she is. I planned to introduce her to the world in addition to my TWD post. Keyword her is planned!

After working on Sunday, I came home to find that Chloe loves electronics. So much so that she chewed my USB cord for my camera in half! Yes, people, she had no mercy on the poor little cord.

After my shock and anger passed I thought, "no biggie I'll just go to Best Buy and get a new one". Don't we wish it were that easy. Of course Best Buy doesn't carry the stupid cord, they tell me that I have to buy it from the Sony website. ...ugh! Fine!

I get home, look up the Sony website, and to my disbelief the FREAKIN thing is on backorder!!! WTF!! At that point I was livid because that means that I have no way to post pictures to my blog!!! (And I have no clue when I'll be able to next)

So I plan on writing my TWD post, but it will not have any pictures :(

Blog world, meet my new puppy Chloe (who you can't see)!