Saturday, December 13, 2008

Something to think about…

Must have something to do with the economy…

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rain rain go away…

… come again another day!
It's been raining a lot lately in New York, which I've learned can be quite hazardous for the normal, everyday walk down the street. Trying to make it to the subway without loosing an eye or poking someone to death is more difficult then it was to get into college, I swear! It's like a sea of deadly metal spikes pushing their way down any given avenue, and New Yorkers just don't seem to care. I at least dive out of the way to avoid impaling some small child or tall man, but others, nope! They just walk along as if they don't have a deadly weapon floating in wait above their heads, ready to stab any unsuspecting sidewalk mate. It's frightening actually!
Having not often used an umbrella in my former "run from house to car and from car to building" kind of life, the concept of investing in a good rain shield has never occurred to me. But today, the third day of having my cheap, borrowed from my sister umbrella turned inside out by the wind, it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, a good umbrella in New York is just an important in a heated loft (another lesson I'm learning the hard way!)
So tonight as my wool jacket sits soaking and smelling in the corner of my room, I decided to search online for something cuter than the rest of the depressing black canopies that haunt the streets of this city. I struck gold when I wandered upon Umbrellas.net! I'm totally loving their adorable designs and I just thought I would share the ones I'm drooling over! I just can't decide! Go check them out, they are so darn cute!




Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hm...

I have begun to wonder if I might in fact be a Manhattanite versus a Brooklyn girl? Five more leased months to figure it out. 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sexy new discovery

One of my five roommates, JS, got back from Los Angeles the other day after assisting on a very cool photo shoot for the latest Tim Burton film that's in the works. The moment he walked through our big, beautiful steel door, I ambushed him and dragged him off to the bar where one of our other roommates, AC, works. I had been in the house for days and really needed to get out, so I forced him to go with me :) That's the beauty of living with five other people, there's always someone around! 

So JC and I went off to Hugs on North 6th in Williamsburg, where he proceeded to pull out his iPhone so we could geek out together. I was not prepared for what would follow! Just about the sexiest thing any iPhone nerd could dream of. A beautiful solid wood case for the beloved Apple masterpiece. Seriously, solid wood! It's stunning and I cannot help but dream of the day when I can afford to incase my little buddy in a oak wood cozy! I cannot justify the purchase at this time, but you can bet it's been filed away in my brain and my bookmarks and I will venture back to Miniot.com where the lovelies live as soon as humanly possible. 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

First impressions

So I'd like to think that first impressions aren't everything, but in reality they are. And with that said allow me to share a few of my first impressions of the Big Apple! 

It must be said that I have been working non-stop since two days after I arrived (those two days were spent unpacking and painting) and so that means I've been stuck doing anything other than what I want to be doing for the last 13 days straight. No complaints, it's work, and as a freelancer I need all the work I can get. But 13 days without so much as a single morning to smack the snooze and a girl can go a little crazy. Today is the final day of this photo shoot and that means that tomorrow will afford me a little sleep time. But I digress… 

For now I'm sitting on set trying to appear busy even though I actually have nothing to do. Nothing to do until the final 30 minutes before we have to vacate the studios, at which time it will be a mad scramble for me to pack up five shots worth of props, slap the proper label on the box or bag and arrange for the appropriate messenger service to come and whisk it away before anyone can rummage through it all and score a sweet little something or other under my nose. All while the client and photographers head off for a $150 a person dinner at some great spot in the city. 

Again I digress… onto my impression…

Editors note: This is a two parter even though it doesn't seem like it! The first part was written on Saturday the 15th and the following was written today the 23rd. I had planned to write it all last Saturday, but promptly after we finished the shoot I came down with an insane cold that holed me up in my cold apartment for five days unable to climb down from my loft let alone write my blog. 

First impression:

I'm amazed at the ability of hundreds of people to squeeze themselves into a tube that hurtles itself through the ground at breakneck speed and yet not look one another in the eye. It's hilarious actually! It's all so anonymous, and in a city were anonymous is not hard to come by considering we normal folk share the streets with actors, musicians and models, it's amazing to me that one can get more anonymous. But the subway affords that easily. Eyes sweep the advertisements that line the space above our heads, then they close and magically reopen focused on the ground. There seems to be this invisible zone that no civilized person would dare allow their gaze to wander - the zone occupied by our bodies. I say civilized because I'm not including the crazies who stare at you and continue to stare even after you have looked them directly in the eye as a sort of challenge. Nope, doesn't work. Not that I should be surprised that one who stares would not be intimidated by a stare down. Those who "sub stare" as I now refer to it in my head, can appear to be totally normal while waiting in the station. And if you saw them on the streets you'd have no idea they enjoy such a depraved hobby as staring at people on the subway. But no, they are not normal - they stare! 

The non-starers may also spend time fascinated by their cell phones despite the fact that they do not work underground. Those with iPhones can do this without looking dumb (in my iPhone owning opinion) because our magical hand held sent from the gods device does much more than relay a voice all over the world. I can pop bubble wrap, listen to music, take notes, organize my calendar, look at pictures, and any infinite number of etceteras, all while not staring at people on the subway. But come on, you pleebs with your flip phones, your not fooling anyone! 

I've grown to love my time underground. There is something soothing about the way the train moves (except when it stops and starts!) and it allows for some wind down time like no hour commute from Alexandria ever could. Luckily my sister lives on the same line as me, the good old L train, so it makes my life easy when traveling to and fro to Williamsburg. Me, myself, I live in Bushwick. Now if you don't live in New York or one of its lovely boroughs, then you do not know Bushwick. Let me say this - living in Bushwick gives me "street cred" as someone pointed out to me on my last photo shoot. It is quite obvious that I am several years ahead of the gentrification curve, no matter how high the prices are at Northeast Kingdom, and that very fact is made quite obvious by the stares I receive each day on my trek to and from the subway. No big deal, I smile my white girl grin each time I think it will keep me from getting shot, and the rest of the time I look down as if to apologize for my whiteness. Note to my neighbors: I did not move here because I am some rich whitey who wants to take over your neighborhood! I mean really, if I had money do you think I would subject myself to the creepy guys that hang around C-Town on the corner of Wyckoff and Hart - I think not. 


Monday, September 29, 2008

Change of plans!

The plan had been to move overseas and have some adventures while teaching in South Korea. The plan has changed! I'm moving somewhere even crazier – New York City! I will be moving as soon as I can find an apartment, which in New York could mean months! I'm going to live in Brooklyn where the rents are still reasonable and my sister and her hubs live. I'm going to freelance, so that means that I will soon become a union gal – who knew that would ever happen!

So stick with me as I transition and I promise as soon as life settles back down I will get back to baking and blogging!  

Sunday, August 31, 2008

An explanation

Okay, so I know I haven't been posting all that often, and that there hasn't been a book update in over a month, but I have a really good excuse! My thoughts and time have been completely wrapped up in my new big plans! 

I've been spending ALL of my time working towards a teaching certification in English as a second language, and once I'm done in the next two or three days, I will be getting ready to move abroad to teach! I've always wanted to live overseas and travel and see the world, and this is the perfect way for me to start my adventure. I'm not sure where I will end up living, but my thoughts and intentions are focused on Thailand, so think Thailand thoughts for me! 

No worries, the book is still one of my top priorities, it has just been pushed to the back burner so that I can get myself set to move. Once things settle in, I will get back to writing every day and posting updates when I can! 

I'M SO EXCITED TO MOVE OVERSEAS!!! 

Daring Bakers Challenge

This months Challenge was hosted by MeetaK of What's for Lunch Honey & Tony, who kindly choose Chocolate Eclairs! I'm a big fan, so I was excited about this challenge to say the least. 

I decided to wait until all of my family was having our annual end of summer gathering, mainly so that I wouldn't eat them all myself. The recipe we used comes from Pierre Herme, a famous French baker. Well as luck would have it, my brother-in-law has actually eaten Chocolate Eclairs in Paris at Pierre Herme's patisserie ! Why does this always happen to me? When we were making Dorie Greenspans Perfect Party Cake, which requires a French Meringue Buttercream icing, a family friend who just happens to also be a French pastry chef (!) stopped by that day! I mean really, can't a girl get a break! 

So I made the Pate a Choux which turned out wonderfully, and was remarkably easy as far as I am concerned. My eclairs baked up perfectly, but they required more time than the recipe called for, which always seems to happen to me. I decided to make a typical vanilla pastry cream, which I adore, and to top them with the traditional chocolate sauce. 

I enjoyed making the eclairs a lot, and I'm thankful to Meeta & Tony for picking such a great recipe so that I could test my baking skills yet again! Check out Meeta's blog for the recipe! 

Addtion: I was doing too many things yesterday while posting my challenge, and I totally forgot to put in that my brother-in-law loved my eclairs! He said they were just as good as any others that he has had, even in Paris - but I think he was just being nice!!  

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Operation August!

It's time again for Operation Baking GALS! This month there were lots of different soldiers to choose from! Susan's blog was littered with great posts about several different soldiers - the host for that soldier would provide some background info on their choice, and then we could pick who we wanted to bake for. Susan herself was baking for a group of six soldiers who have been stationed in Fallujah for some time and who don't really get any love from back home, so I decided to join her group, Team DoughMessTic! 

As usual, I sent along some butter press cookies because they are one of my absolute favorites. And this month I also sent along some yummy swirl brownies, which I hope make it to Iraq in edible condition! 

As always, if you're interested in baking for our brave men and women serving in Iraq & Afghanistan, check out Susan Wetzel's blog Operation Baking GALS - it's really easy to get started, and there's still time to bake in August, so go check it out! Things are really exploding for this group, which is really wonderful! It's such a great way to feel like you are making a difference for our troops! 



Monday, August 11, 2008

A big thanks from Iraq!

I got an email from Jason in Iraq today, and since I promised to share, here it is – 

Kathryn

I wanted to send a quick note to say 'THANK YOU' for sending us some homemade goodies! You folks will never realize how much Soldiers appreciate your kind gestures. Just the simple act of baking goodies and mailing them across the world means more to us than you'll ever know.

Also, I very much appreciate you taking the time to write me a note. Your nephew is very lucky to have such a great aunt in his life. I promise you that we Soldiers will do our very best to protect him from the dangerous men who wish harm on the American People. I assure you that under our watch your nephew has nothing to be afraid of. I am fortunate enough to serve alongside men and woman who value Duty, Honor, and Country, more than their own lives. Each day I am humbled and amazed at the heroics of American Soldiers.

Thanks again. Please take care of that nephew of yours. I know he has a bright future.

Best wishes,
Jason

We're gearing up for round two in the next few weeks, so if your interested in baking, click on the Operation Baking GALS picture in the sidebar and it will take you to the blog where you sign up to help out! I'm baking for a group of six soldiers outside of Fallujah and I'm really happy to send them some yummy treats!! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My first package for the troops!

I sent out my first Operation Baking GALS package to Jason and friends in Iraq today and it felt really good! I made about nine dozen cookies, but only around seven would fit into the containers I had, so poor little me, I've got some extra cookies to eat. 

I made pecan nut balls that are yummy mainly because they have a thick outer coating of powdered sugar. I also made butter cookies with my handy dandy cookie press, which are sweet, vanilla-y and buttery - who could ask for more! 

The woman at the post office said it could take four days to two weeks for the cookies to get there, so obviously I'm praying for the earlier delivery. I'm not sure exactly where our cookie man is stationed, but hopefully he's close to one of the air bases and not too far out in the middle of nowhere. 

If I hear anything back I'll be sure to post it! 


Pecan nut balls

Butter cookies

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Operation Baking GALS

While roaming around the Daring Bakers message boards this evening I came across an awesome thing – Operation Baking GALS (Give A Little Support!)! 

It all started not very long ago with Susan from She's becoming doughmesstic – she decided to send out an email to just a few foodie friends and ask if they might want to bake something and then send it off to her cousin Jason in Iraq. Little did she know that it would grow and grow and grow! 

Here is the concept – we bake it, we ship it to Iraq to Jason, and he shares them with all his buddies (or he will get too fat to stay in Iraq – so wait, maybe that's a good plan!) Sure the men and women over there need other stuff in care packages as well, however, homemade baked goods are way better than chapstick etc. 

So I'm hitching my little wagon up to Operation Baking GALS! I'm going to bake some yummy stuff on Sunday (after I sell all my stuff in a yardsale on Friday and Saturday! And my oven gets fixed!) and then it's off to Iraq to get gobbled up! 

If your interested in joining up – and why wouldn't you be? – here is the blog that's been set up to handle all the insane traffic that Susan is getting. There is a link where you can email her and she can further instruct you on what to do! 

I'm so excited to help out! This is such a great way to show our beloved troops how much we care! 

Daring Bakers Challenge

I wanted to make the Daring Bakers Challenge so very much this month, but I made the mistake of putting it off until the last few days! My plan was to bake Monday and assemble Tuesday, and then that plan came to a crashing halt on Sunday when the oven (just a year old) decided to quit on me! There is only one guy in town who works on my type of oven and he can't get here until Friday! I'm so bummed! I'm going to try and make this cake very soon though because it sounds and looks delicious!!
Make sure you check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see what other members created! 

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another book update!

It's been a little while, so I figured I should post some more from the book! This is the beginning of a chapter set in New York City where the main character Eddie is working for one of her sisters for a week on a photo shoot. 

          “I don’t think my feet have ever hurt this bad in my entire life,” I said to Anna as I stood outside of Pen’s building trying to get some fresh air. I pressed my cell phone tight to my ear so that I could hear her response over the trash truck that was backing down North 3rd Street, beeping like nothing I had ever heard beep before.

     “Why do your feet hurt?” she asked.

     “Because their floor is concrete and I’ve been standing around doing work for days on end,” I said, glaring at the trash truck in an effort to hurt its feelings.

     “What is that horrible noise?” she asked.

     “The freaking trash truck. If you think this is bad, try listening to it at freaking four a.m. when it does the same thing while your trying to sleep. I really don’t know how they live here, it’s not possible to relax!” I exclaimed, my nerves already frazzled after only a few days.

     “Are you having a good time? And what are you doing outside anyway, you’re not smoking are you?” Anna asked in parent-like tone of voice.

     “No! Are you kidding, never again!” I said.

     “Ok good, it’s just that that used to be the only reason you would be standing outside of her building, so I was just making sure,” she said.

     “No, we needed milk and I offered to walk to the store because I needed to get the hell out of there. I used to think their loft was big, but now it feels like all three of us are living in a shoe box!” I said as I smiled at the guy who was walking his bulldog past me. “And there are no doors to close! I don’t know how they do it, how they don’t kill each other!”

     “Sorry about that,” the dog walking guy said as he began to hurry away.

     “Sorry for what?” I said looking around and then down. A small stream, growing larger by the second, of dog urine was flowing down from a puddle the size of baby swimming pool right in front of the two bags of groceries I had sitting by my feet. Before I could grab them fast enough, both bags were wet on the bottom.

     “Oh my god! I’ve gotta go Anna, some assholes dog just peed all over the place and the food is sitting in piss!” I screeched as the guy broke into a semi-jog to get away from me.

     “Are you serious? That is disgusting! Why would anyone do that? What are you going to do?” she said, hours away in friendly suburbia where no one would allow their dog to urinate near someone else’s something.

     “I don’t know, I gotta go, I’m sorry,” I said as I looked around in a vain attempt to find a solution among the filth of North 3rd Street.

     “Okay, I’m sorry Eddie, I hope the rest of your trip goes better. I love you,” Anna said sincerely.

     “Thanks, I love you too. I’ll call you later in the week,” I said. We said our goodbyes and then I shoved my cell phone into my pocket. I looked down at the two bags and wondered how in the world I was going to lug one container of lactose free organic milk, four bottles of Fiji water, two bags of chips, one container of humus and a box of cookies up the three flights of industrial stairs that loomed before me.

     I pulled all the thankfully dry items out of their soaked bags and placed them out of the floodplain that had developed around my feet. Then I picked up the wet bags and held them out at arms length as I walked to the nearby dumpster, saying, “Ew, ew, ew, ew,” the entire time and praying that the pee wouldn’t drip on me. I stood over my hoard and dialed Pen’s house line, which neither of them answered. Then I called Aidan’s cell, and he finally picked up after four rings.

     “Yeah?” he said, sounding annoyed.

     “Can you come help me, some guy let his dog piss all over my grocery bags and now I have to carry all this shit upstairs without bags and I can’t do it!”

     “Are you fucking serious?” he said to me. “Some dude let his dog piss all over Eddie’s bags,” he said to Penelope. “God I hate this fucking city, I’ll be right down.”

     I shoved my cell phone back into my pocket and glared at the corner where the asshole and his bitch had disappeared around. It seemed to take Aidan an eternity to come down and help me.

     “You have got to be fucking kidding me! There is no way one dog pissed that much!” Aidan said as he surveyed the scene after finally showing up to rescue me.

     “It was a bulldog!” I said, just at that moment realizing how much more absurd that made things.

     “There’s no way,” he said as he began to pick up the milk and cookies. “Does this shit have piss on it?”

     “That makes it sound even worse,” I said.

     “What do you mean?” he asked.

     “You said ‘Does this shit have piss all over it?’ ” I said staring at him, wondering why he wasn’t picking up what I was putting down.

     “What?” he said in his special exasperated way.

     “Oh my god, why are you not getting this?” I said as I picked up the last bottle of Fiji water and began to follow him to the door. “You said, ‘Does this SHIT have PISS all over it?’ ” I said, placing great emphasis on the words shit and piss.

     “Yeah, I still don’t get it,” he said as we began to climb the endless stairs.
Three flights later he still didn’t get it. “Never mind, forget it!” I exclaimed, now doubting the humor that I thought had been evident.

     When we finally reached the door Aidan knocked with his foot and Penelope opened the door a few seconds later. Just as I, the last one through the door, was trying to shut it quickly behind me, Sophie, their sneaky black cat, squeezed by and made a mad dash down the long hallway. Luckily there was nowhere for her to go. Aidan put the milk, cookies, chips and humus down and went running after her.

     “Freaking insane cat!” he said with a smile and a laugh a few minutes later as he deposited her on the couch and then walked back over to his computer and sat down. Within seconds he was fully immersed in whatever he had been doing before and he returned to ignoring us.

     I spent the next seven hours making paper flowers while Penelope perfected every last little detail for the party set that would be shot on Tuesday. I literally made several hundred flowers out of all different types of paper. Some were crafted from crepe paper, while others from hard card stock. There was marbleized paper and flowery paper and polka dot paper and pretty patterned paper and even ugly patterned paper.

     And then there was the paper cut to end all paper cuts.

     It happened so quickly and there was so much damn paper surrounding me that I have no idea which behemoth three-foot by four-foot sheet was the culprit! My money is still on the green marbleized bastard, but I have little evidence to back up my claims.

     The paper sliced through the tip of my right index finger as if it longed to remove the whole damn thing from my hand. Blood instantly oozed and dripped as I grabbed my finger and squeezed it tightly. Not wanting to know, but unable to resist, I slightly spread the two halves of my finger apart in order to see how deep the cut was, and only then did I scream out in agony.

     I’m famous for fainting – well in my family that is, not nationwide – and so I can tell the instant it’s about to happen. The sound that had moments before been clear in my ears was now seemingly coming from somewhere far off in another world and my vision became obscured by gold and silver sparkles. There was no denying it, I was going down.

     Concrete floors may look cool, but they do little to break your fall except threaten to break you more.

– Copyright 2008 © Shoo Elephant Shoo

All Rights Reserved 2008 © Books and Bakes 

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Brayden!

I had the joy of making my nephew Brayden's birthday cake for his party today. He is really into cars, trains, tractors and motorcycles, so my sister had a trains and cars party theme. Just thought I would share the cute cake… I'm proud of it and everyone said it was yummy! 


All Rights Reserved 2008 © Books and Bakes

Friday, July 11, 2008

His Dark Materials

I finished His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman last night and the critics were right when they said it was the last great work of fiction in the 20th century. It's truly a wonderful collected works including The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife & The Amber Spyglass. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy and anyone who has yet to discover that they do. This work will bring you into the fantastical fold if only you give it a chance! 

It's rare that Fantasy writers are able to communicate love in a heart aching way - most of the time it's done one such a large scale, with characters that are stoic and brave, therefore loosing the tenderness of true love in the scope of the story - but Pullman has pulled it off. 

Here is my favorite moment in the collected works… I cry each time I read it. I know you must know the characters to really feel the moment, but I hope it translates how wonderful of a writer Pullman is! 

"I will love you forever, whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I'll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again…"

"I'll be looking for you, Will, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we'll cling so tight that nothing and no one'll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… We'll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those specs of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won't just be able to take one, they'll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we'll be joined so tight…" 
From The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman © 2000 


All Rights Reserved 2008 © Books and Bakes 

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers

My Daring bakers June challenge will be posted shortly! I am on vacation and trying to stay as far away from my computer as possible! I promise to post my disaster in the next few days! Check back soon! 

Here is a sneak peak of my "braid." My sister Rebecca says it looks "rustic" and delicious. I'm still deciding whether or not I'm offended! 


All Rights Reserved 2008 © Books and Bakes 

Monday, June 23, 2008

Or maybe not

I got two comments from two lovely Daring Bakers on the Swoon excerpt that I put up the other day and both seemed to want more where that came from. Karen from Do Better wanted to know what was wrong with the guy and so I figured it was only fair of me to fill her in! And Clumbsy Cookie said she wanted to keep reading, so how could I deny her that! 

So here is a little more from that yet to be titled chapter. This portion, as well as the one I posted the other day, takes place in a train station. Eddie, the main character, is on her way to New York from D.C. for a freelance job in the Big Apple. I picked up right where the other post left off. 


“Have you ever been to Philadelphia before?” he asked.

“Um, yeah I actually grew up right outside the city in Bucks County,” I said, realizing I had momentarily forgotten this fact due to the hotness spell I was under.

“I’m from Bucks County too! I went to CB East, where did you go?” he asked with a stunned but happy look on his face.

“Oh my god! I went to Council Rock! I cannot believe you went to East! Didn’t we always kick your asses in football?” I joked, having no idea if we had ever in fact kicked their asses in football.

A dark cloud seemed to pass behind his eyes, but it went as quickly as it came and I soon forgot about it. He stuttered for a moment and then said, “Uh no, definitely not. There was never a time when Council Rock beat me in football.”

“Oh you played in high school?” I asked, not really caring, but pretending to.

“Yeah, I was all state! Bobby Masterson, don’t you remember my name? You gotta remember my name!” he said enthusiastically.

“Oh, um,” to lie or not to lie, “no, I’m sorry, I don’t. I wasn’t really all that into football in high school,” I said.

“But you are now though, right?” he asked with an eager look on his face.

“Oh totally!” I lied. “Go Skins!”

“Go Skins! You’re a Philly girl rooting for a Washington team?” he said, shock and disappointment spreading at lightening speed across his handsome features.

“Nooo! Of course not! I was just teasing,” I said, rolling my eyes in a goofy way.

“So you’re an Eagles fan then right?” he prompted.

“Totally!” I said, grateful that he told me where it was my loyalties should lay.

“Phew, that could have been awkward! I meet this beautiful girl in the train station and she turns out to be a Skins fan, what a nightmare!” he joked.

I’m sorry, did he just call me beautiful!? Today I met the boy I’m gonna marry!

“Nope, not a Skins fan, how could I be coming from Philly?” I laughed, shaking my head and rolling my eyes while fluttering my eyelashes at the same time. Freaking exhausting!

“I had no idea you were a football fan Eddie. All those months we spent together and I only ever heard anything about NASCAR,” Dr. Johnson chimed in despite the fact that my back was turned to him.

All I could think of was Son of a Bitch! Which then made me feel guilty because I had just learned that his mother had Alzheimer’s. How about Bastard! Yes, I could see no problem with Bastard! You Bastard!

“Who is this guy?” my new hometown hottie asked, looking back and forth between Dr. Johnson and I.

“I’m her doctor, Dr. Johnson,” he answered before I could, “and you are?” he added as he reached his hand across me to offer it up for a shake.

Hottie stuck his out as well and their hands met for a strange display of male bravado that more closely resembled an arm wrestle than a handshake. The young lioness inside me leapt with joy, while licking her chops as the two male lions roared to determine who would take possession of her. Wait, something about that is not right. What is unsettling here, the fact that I’m excited that Dr. Johnson is one of the male lions, or the fact that I am excited about the idea of one these two men taking possession of me? Of course I could just revel in the joy that hottie male lion from Philly seems to have won the wrestle shake as his smile seems to be larger then Dr. Johnson. My, his mane is thick and shiny. Um, wait is that hair gel in his mane? Oh well, I can change that given a few weeks.

“Bobby Masterson, good to meet you doc. So why is it that you are traveling with your doctor? Are you sick or something?” he said, turning his attention back to me.

“Oh gosh no,” eyelashes fluttering, “we just happened to be at the train station at the same time, and he sat down beside me. That’s all.”

“He’s not your gyno or anything is he?” he snorted.

Did he just say Gyno? Oh come on, are you kidding me? I have just been taken possession by a handsome male lion that uses the word gyno? What went wrong I ask you? Who or what far off in the cosmos ordered this cruel twist of fate, and why did Aphrodite not intervene?

“I believe the term you are looking for is Gynecologist, but no I am not her gynecologist. I was an ER doctor, but I’m not anymore. And what is it that you do Bobby?” He said Bobby as if it were an insult.

“I own my own business, selling tools,” Bobby answered.

Oh I like tools. “Wait, when did you leave the ER?” I suddenly said, turning towards Dr. Johnson.

“About a month ago. I’ve decided to specialize in Oncology.”

“What’s Oncology?” Bobby asked.

All right, so he wears gel in his hair, says Gyno and doesn’t know what Oncology is. I think Prince Charming just got stripped of his royal title. Now the question remains, is there enough Charming left to cover up the stupidity. God lets hope so!

Dr. Johnson smiled, but he might as well have roared to alert the jungle/train station of his moment of triumph. “The practice of Oncology refers to the treatment of cancer,” he answered, a bit less smugly then I had expected.

“Ohh, gotcha!” Bobby said. “Wait, so you have cancer?” he said, turning his attention back to me.

“Um no, I had a car accident a while ago and he was my doctor in the Emergency Room,” I answered, stretching out the words Emergency Room in reference to Dr. Johnsons mention of being an ER doctor.

– Copyright 2008 © Shoo Elephant Shoo

All Rights Reserved 2008 © Books and Bakes

Friday, June 20, 2008

Swoon

Just another excerpt of my writing. I'm in the groove and wish I could keep writing, but I have to go meet my college girl friends for dinner and drinks! Alas, the life of a writer is never dull (except maybe five days out of the week!) 


“Excuse me, is anyone sitting here?” I looked up to see an extremely hot guy standing next to me, pointing at the open seat next to me.

“No, no one at all,” I said sweetly with a smile and a small eyelash fluttering.

“Great,” he said, returning the smile. “Where are you heading?” he asked as he sat down.

“New York,” I said, “and you?”

“Philadelphia. It’s where I grew up. My best friend is getting married this weekend, and I’m the best man,” he said enthusiastically.

“Awe, how sweet,” I said for no real reason at all.

He flashed me another great smile, showing off his perfectly straight, white teeth. “Yeah, I’m really excited. He’s marrying a great girl and I’m really happy for him. Course this now makes me the last of my childhood friends to not be married, but what can you do.”
“Guys actually think about that kind of stuff?” I said, my mouth dropping open a little bit, which obviously wasn’t all that attractive and was corrected quickly with another smile.

“Sure,” he said. “Well I guess not all guys. But I do, I’m 31 and I definitely thought I would be married by now.”

Hm, 31, hot and wants to get married. And most importantly he is sitting right next to me. And actually even more importantly than that he is smiling at me. ME! Thirty-one-year-old hot guy who wants to get married is smiling at me! There must be some sort of happiness alarm that I should be sounding right now. Oh, I know! Church bells! Not that I want to get married in a church, but still it seems fitting. Suddenly the song Today I met the boy I’m going to marry started playing in my head.

“I actually thought I would have kids by now too,” he added, garnering that sad head tilt half smile half frown kind of reaction from me, also known as Swoon! He’s all I wanted all my life and even more!

“Do any of your friends have kids?” I asked, turning towards him a little bit and gently moving a piece of hair away out of my eyes.

“Yeah a couple of them do. I love playing with them. My friend Joey just had a little baby boy. He’s only four weeks old. I was there where he was born. I mean not in the room or anything, but at the hospital and I was one of the first ones to hold him. It was so cool to see someone that new!” He smiled at me and the music started playing.

“That is so sweet!” I squealed, barely able to contain my excitement over this man. This hot 31-year-old wants to get married and have babies and is smiling at me man!

“And my sister’s kids are awesome, being an uncle is the greatest thing in the whole world. I never knew it could be so cool to watch someone grow and learn new things. But watching my niece and nephew is like watching the world unfold in front of my very eyes.” Here comes the bride when he walked through the door!

– Copyright 2008 © Shoo Elephant Shoo

All Rights Reserved 2008 © Books and Bakes 

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet eating… um muffins

A few months back I had been on the search for the perfect chocolate cupcake, which I eventually was able to put together. But lately my new quest has been for the perfect muffin. Don't ask why… it just has been. 

So last week I made the boyfriend some blueberry muffins. They were good, but they didn't rise all that much, which bummed me out a bit. The next day I used that same recipe to make strawberry muffins, and I filled the cups higher in hopes that they would happily mound up some more. No go. The flavor was there, but the batter just wasn't giving me what I wanted. 

I always find the Foodnetwork website is a great place to go searching for lots of different versions of the same recipe. The recipe I used a few days ago came from Gourmet magazine I believe, so I was surprised it didn't turn out to my liking. I came across an Ina Garten recipe that I figured I should try out. After all, it was the Barefoot Contessa that provided me with the base for my perfect chocolate cupcake… maybe she was a bit of a muffin maven as well! 

I decided that instead of just using blueberrys, I would throw in some strawberries as well. I wasn't really trying to be patriotic, but when I coated the two fruits in a bit of flour so that they wouldn't sink to the bottom of the batter, the National Anthem did start playing in my head! 

Oh say can you see! By the dawns early light! 

The recipe called for sour cream, as most of Ina's baked goods do, but I wasn't really up for wasting my $4.13 a gallon gasoline to run to the store for just sour cream. I had organic plain yogurt so I decided that would substitute nicely… and who can scoff at cutting a few calories whilst baking, not I! 

Hey batter batter batter! 

I was supposed to get 16 muffins out of the batter, and just like always for me, I got 24! I don't care what the recipe says, I always get more out of it. And believe me, I filled these babies up to the top! The first batch came out of the oven and while it had risen nicely, it spread out over the muffin tin giving me that flattened type of top. I'm a rounded muffin kinda of girl, so I was a teensy bit disappointed. 

I'm trying to be more environmentally friendly these days (as evident by my unmentionables currently sunning themselves in the backyard!) so since the first batch took thirty minutes, I figured I would turn on my convection fan and try and speed things up. Yes it occured to me that using the convection would mean I was using more energy. However (!), it would mean I could turn the oven off sooner, therefore pumping less heat into the kitchen, requiring the air conditioning to do a little less work in order to cool the house. See how nicely I justified that! 
I got another benefit from my convection – the muffins rounded out nicely on the top instead of spreading out.

These muffins taste delicious! The combination of blueberries and strawberries is wonderful - I highly recommend it! Once again Ina has done me proud! Unfortunately for my boyfriend, he is out of town for the week and these will surely be gone by the time he gets back! Poor boyfriend! That's what he gets for going out of town for a week ;) 

Muffins out of the sun!

Blueberry & Strawberry muffins

adapted from Ina Gartens recipe for Blueberry Muffins 

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream or yogurt 
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup strawberries, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup blueberries (watch for stems!) 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place 16 paper liners in muffin pans.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula and be sure the batter is completely mixed.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup just over the top, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a cake tester comes out clean. 


Muffins in the sun! 





All Rights Reserved 2008 © Books and Bakes

Paperclip Pig says:


Why thank you Paperclip Pig! You are the most lovely, encouraging desk top organizer I've ever known! 


All Rights Reserved 2008 © Books and Bakes

Eat, Pray, Love

For quite some time people have been telling me to read Elizabeth Gilbert's book Eat, Pray, Love. Some have felt that the book is similar to my own despite the fact that my main character barely leaves her house let alone travels around the world. But still the message is the same, falling in love with yourself is really what the ultimate goal is. 

Last fall I was assisting my sister Rebecca and her husband Patrick with a photo shoot/advertising campaign for a friend of theirs who owns a dress company called Simple Silhouettes. I was their style assistant and they hired another young woman as their photo assistant. Her name was Marlene, and although she was quite a bit younger than me, we connected on a few levels, which made the week of work a little more fun. 

Marlene was the first person to bring Eat, Pray, Love to my attention. She said she had received the book from an acquaintance who felt she should read it. And then Marlene told me she would like to pass it on to me. She brought the book in the next day with the instructions to pass it on when I came across someone who could benefit from it's message. I was really flattered and happily planned to read the book soon and pass it on to the next deserving young woman.

Well life happened for awhile and then I was reminded of the book again, which had been sitting dormant on my bookshelves for months, and I finally pulled it out and read the darn thing. It was wonderful and it aided me on my current journey in many different ways. 

I just wanted to share a few of my favorite lines from the book… they inspired me and I hope they will do the same for you. 

"You've got to stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be."

I want God to play in my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself on water.

Let go and watch the stars come out—on the outside and on the inside.

I found the answer—you can finish the business yourself, from within yourself. It's not only possible, it's essential. 

I was never not coming here. This was never not going to happen. 

– All excerpts from Elizabeth Gilberts Eat, Pray, Love 


All Rights Reserved 2008 © Books and Bakes

Friday, May 30, 2008

More book… less cook!

So as my time winds down on my year off from the real world I have been writing a lot more and baking a lot less, as you can see from my latest postings. So I figured I would give you another bit from my book. Please keep in mind that these look-sees I post have not been professionally edited, so there are mistakes in there that will one day get fixed. I'm a writer, not a copyeditor (much to dismay of my current freelance boss!)! 

Obviously this tidbit has been taken from the center of a chapter. The beginning part is being kept a secret for a reason, as I don't want to give away to much on my blog! Why ever would you buy the book if you already know what happens? So if you are confused at the start, I meant for you to be ;) 

“Well she pulled this curtain around us both, even though no one else was there, because at some point the other woman must have left without me realizing it. But so she pulls this dark purple curtain around us, which I notice has those little mirrors puffy painted all over it. Do you remember those?” Liv shook her head yes and I continued. “I used to have an entire outfit with them on it. I remember it, it was grey stretch pants and a grey sweatshirt and the mirrors were surrounded with white puffy paint. I thought I was the shit in that outfit!” I paused to take another sip, and then said, “I got it at the Bucks County Mall on Street Road. They had a bunch of different colors but I remember thinking grey was really sophisticated.”
“Um hello! Enough eighties reminiscing, back to the psychic!” Liv exclaimed as she rolled her eyes at me.
“Oh sorry,” I said taking one last sip before putting my drink back down. “So she takes out this wooden flute thing and tells me the blow into it four times high and four times low, and of course once again I had no idea what she meant. But you know me, I didn’t want to seem like a freaking idiot in front of the psychic, so I blew four times high and four times low.”
Liv spit out a bit of her food with a laugh and said, “How did you do that?”
I laughed too and said, “I have no idea, but I must have done it right because she got a big smile on her face and said ‘Good, excellent, good!’ and clapped her hands practically right in front of my face. Then she pulls out some sage and lights it, and it is literally on fire, like I was expecting Smokie the Bear to come in and intervene. So she blows it out and bits of burnt leaf go all over me. Then she waves it around my face and head and starts chanting something under her breath.”
“Why do you have a care bear band aid on your arm?” Liv asked.
“What?” I stammered, totally caught off guard by her change of subject.
“Why do you have a care bear band aid on your arm?” Liv asked again.
“You just now noticed that?” I replied.
“Yes.”
“We have been here for forever, and you are just now realizing that I have a care bear band aid on my arm.”
“Yes! Why is it there, and why do you own care bear band aids?” Liv said, reaching for her cigarettes after filling up on fried onion.
“I had some weird pimply thing on my arm and I picked at it and it freaked me out so I put some Neosporin on it and a band aid, and now it’s not freaking me out anymore,” I answered, myself not full of onion, as I reached for the last bite.
“But why the care bears?”
“Because the purple care bear on the box was smiling at me when I was in Target and you know me, I cannot refuse anything purple nor anything bear, so I brought him home. Low and behold the box contained bands aids, so not only did I get a purple cardboard bear, but first aid as well.”
“You are a crackhead!” Liv howled.
“Yes, yes I am, and that is why you love me in only the way that you can!” I replied with a smile and a chew.
Fred appeared and took away our now demolished appetizer and informed us that he would put in our lunch order now. Feeling like I couldn’t eat another bite, I groaned, leaned back in my chair and started rubbing my stomach.
“I love how you rub your stomach like that and yet back in college you broke up with Tommy what’s his name because he rubbed his stomach after he ate,” Liv said, making me choke on the sip of margarita I had just taken.
I sat there painfully coughing as I laughed and tried to decide how best to defend myself. “Oh my god, how do you remember these things!” I said through another cough.
“I’m like a tree,” she said with a triumphant smile.
“What?” I laughed.
“I’m like a tree, trees are old and have long memories,” Liv said, still smiling.
“What the F are you talking about?” I said.
“That’s what they say,” Liv said, sounding a bit less sure of herself this time.
“Who are ‘they,’ ” I questioned.
“Those people,” Liv said with a doubtful half smile.
I sat there laughing and trying to figure out for the life of me what she could be referring to when it hit me. “Ooohhh mmmyyyy Goddd, do you mean elephants?” I busted out.
She sat there looking from side to side, as slowly a big smile erupted on her face, and finally she laughed. “Yes, I believe I do.”
“Now who is the crackhead?” I laughed.
“That’s why we are perfect for each other!” Liv said, raising her margarita to toast our frienship.
I lifted my glass and tapped it against hers, making that clinking sound I love. I took a sip as Liv put her glass down, prompting me to protest. “Um excuse me, you clink, you drink woman!”
“Sorry, sorry!” she said in her mock annoyed as she picked up her glass and remedied the offense.

– Copyrighted 2008 Shoo Elephant Shoo 


All Rights Reserved 2008 © Books and Bakes

Monday, May 19, 2008

More where that came from

Yet another sampling of my book for your reading pleasure. The writing has been going well, and things are finally starting to make a little bit more sense to me, which is comforting considering I only have two and a half months left before I'm supposed to be finished! I'm confident that things will work out and I will be able to work non-stop until I'm done, so the fears of going back to work so to speak have subsided nicely! 

“I told you, you couldn’t refuse Kohrs!” Pen said. We were looking out over the ocean even though we couldn’t see it by this time of the night.
“I’m fully capable of refusing Kohrs Pen, I’m not a freaking heifer,” I regretted it as soon as it came out of my mouth.
“Cause I was calling you a heifer?” Pen said sounding exasperated. “What the hell Eddie?”
“No, I know you weren’t. But when you say I’m incapable of refusing ice cream it just makes me feel like I’m fat and totally unable to turn down junk food,” I said, trying to make my voice sound calm in an effort to turn the placating on Pen.
“You are not fat at all, you look great! You didn’t even gain weight when you quit smoking! That’s amazing everyone gains weight when they quit smoking. Seriously, you are not fat,” she said, taking a lick of her vanilla custard.
“Here’s what I don’t get Pen,” I said, a stroke of brilliance smacking me in the forehead. “If you say I’m not fat, then how can you go around acting like you are? You weigh 108 pounds! I weigh thirty more pounds then you, thirty pounds, and yet you say I look great. How am I supposed to believe you when you go around talking about how fat you are?”
Pen momentarily froze, the spoon still in her mouth. It was then scary how astonishingly fast she was able to regain her composure and turn things around to suit her own purpose. “I’m not fat, I know that. But I’m skinny fat. I’m not toned at all, my body is all flabby and I have cellulite all over the place.”
“Every woman alive has cellulite Pen,” I interjected.
“That’s not true, look at her, her thighs have no cellulite on them, and,” she sighed “they don’t even touch,” Pen said, pointing to a passerby.
“First of all, it’s night time, so I cannot actually tell if she has cellulite or not. Second of all, and most importantly, she was like 14 years-old! What the hell, you are 33! Your a woman, not a girl. Why the hell would you want the body of a 14-year-old girl?” I stammered.
“Listen,” Pen said, sounding as if she were my boss and not my sister. “When you get around to getting a husband, you will understand what I’m talking about. You have to be perfect all the time. People tell you that once you are married, you can relax, it’s not true. Trust me, you’ll figure this all out when you get married.”
It was another one of those Ally McBeal moments in life, where you swear you can hear the arrow come whistling towards you, and then thud, it lands directly in your already bleeding heart. When I get around to getting a husband, as if it’s as simple as taking out the trash. When I get around to getting a husband. I wanted to vomit my peanut butter and chocolate mixed custard all over the brand spanking new Ipe boards that were under my feet. A roll of thunder sounded far off to sea, as if nature was backing up my angry, hurt emotions.
Pen having no idea of the damaged she has just caused, continued on. “And besides, I’m holding myself to a different set of standards then I do other people. I do think you look great, I just judge myself differently.”
I threw my half eaten ice cream cone in the trash can conveniently placed right next to our bench, and stared at the back of the no thigh touching 14-year-old girl as she walked, unaware, down the boardwalk. I knew in my heart that it was asinine to compare myself to her, especially since I had just been railroading Pen for doing the same, but for a brief moment I wondered if I would be married if my thighs didn’t, in fact, touch.
We sat there, not saying anything, the thunder becoming louder, for at least five minutes before Pen simply said, “I love you.”
I smiled despite myself, and said “I love you too,” as Pen ate her last spoonful of ice cream, before throwing the cup away in the garbage can on her side of the bench, making me wish I hadn’t thrown mine out already. I thought briefly about going back for more, but the idea of facing that stick figure, snooty teenage girl working the counter again made my desire to vomit return, so I opted not to.
“Let’s go back,” I said, hearing defeat in my own voice.
“Alright,” Pen said.
We both stood up and headed down the boardwalk to the closest ramp to the house. As we neared the darkened windows of the psychic storefront, Pen looked pensively at the sign and said, “Don’t go this year.”
“Why?” I questioned.
“Because, you guys get all caught up in what they say. It just freaks me out, I don’t get why you want to know what’s going to happen,” she answered.
“First off, I don’t get caught up in it, and neither do mom and dad. And second, it’s fun. It’s not like they ever tell you something bad. They just say a bunch of ambiguous stuff that could be true for most people. I don’t get why you are so afraid of it,” I said.
We were back down on the street as the first few raindrops began to fall. A large, fat drop landed directly on my right eye, leading my to quickly wipe it away for fear that my mascara would begin to run. That of course led to wondering why I care if my mascara runs in the rain because it’s raining – everyone is getting wet for Christ’s sake! Why do I care so much?
“I’m not afraid of it. I just think it’s wrong somehow. I don’t know, I just have no desire to hear what they think is going on in my life,” she said as she pulled the small hood of her thin sweatshirt up over her head.
“Well, I get a kick out it. Besides, she might very well tell me that I’m going to marry George Clooney, and I certainly want to be on the look out if there’s any possibility in that!” I said with a straight face.
“Well now that would be useful information wouldn’t it!” Pen said laughing.
We stopped on the sidewalk across from the house and waited for traffic to pass so we could run across the street. The rain had grown heavier in the last few moments, and by the time we made it on to the covered porch we were soaked to the bone and laughing.

– Copyright 2008 Shoo Elephant Shoo


All Rights Reserved 2008 © Books and Bakes

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another update from my book!

Here's another snipit from my book… it's been awhile since I posted anything so I figured it was time to put something out there! Hope you likey! 

“So where is the book going?” Liv asked. I was lying in my bed, barely able to move, and she’s asking about the damn book.
“Nowhere. The book is going nowhere. It’s a joke. What the hell was I thinking? I can’t write a damn book!” I said, my voice cracking.
“Did I wake you up?”
“Yeah, but I have to get up anyway.” I said, with no actual plans of getting up.
“It’s 11:30 Eddie, why are you still in bed?” Liv asked, half laughing at me.
“It’s called depression Liv. It doesn’t allow me to get out of bed. It doesn’t allow me to do anything. I’m going to go, I need to get something to eat.” I said, flatly.
“Are you okay?”
“No. I gotta go. I’ll call you soon.” I hung up my cell phone, feeling a little guilty about being so shitty to Liv, and rolled over to fall back asleep.
Within ten seconds my phone rang. Knowing it was her, I didn’t answer it. I didn’t have the energy to talk anymore. I didn’t have the energy to do anything other than slowly move into various positions in my bed.
Another minute went by and my phone beeped, alerting me to a voice mail from a no doubt pissed off Olivia. I didn’t even bother to listen.
I had spent the last two weeks pretending to write in my room, but not actually able to type a single letter, let alone word or sentence. I felt so overwhelmed with the task that I had given myself that I had basically become paralyzed with fear.
Here I was with this unbelievably amazing opportunity in front of me and I was terrified of it. I couldn’t admit it to anyone else though. I couldn’t stand the look of disappointment staring back at me from the mirror, there was no way I could stomach it from someone I loved. So I sat in my room either messing around on the Internet, or reading, or staring out the window and wondering how many other people out there were fucking up their dreams.
When you spend your entire life thinking about this one goal, that if only you had the time, you would achieve it. And then someone gives you the time, and you are completely unable to achieve it because you don’t even know where to begin.
That’s my problem. I have no idea where to begin, and I don’t even know if I have the courage to tell the story I want to tell. I don’t want people to think differently of me because I finally reveal who I am. Even if it’s only a fraction of who I am. What if people hate it? What if they all think I’m insane? What if my dad is angry at me? What if my family is angry that I have spilled our secrets?
But then I keep thinking about how it’s the only story I know to tell. I need to get it up, to get it out. It’s like when you feel like you need to throw up, but you don’t want to actually throw up, but then you wrestle with the idea of knowing that you will feel better once you throw up. It’s exactly like that. Knowing that I want to get this all out, to get it up and out and then be able to move on from it is a great idea in and of its self. However, the actual writing of it is like the physical act of vomiting. It burns and aches as you heave up whatever has been churning in your stomach. It’s painful and you hate doing it, regardless of the fact that you know it’s a means to the very end that you seek. Once you throw up you feel better, and then you can go about your life feeling better.
So here I am with my freaking head in the toilet swallowing hard even though my teeth are sweating and I know I will feel better once I just do the damn thing. Yes it will be disgusting. Yes my throat might burn and my teeth will feel as if I’ve burned all the enamel off of them. But then maybe my insides won’t ache so much anymore. Go on kid, yack it up, brush your damn teeth and and then maybe we can get on with this thing everyone else keeps calling life.
I rolled over, picked up my cell phone, and dialed my voicemail to listen to Livs message. Surprisingly she just sounded worried about me, which made me feel even worse for hanging up on her. I scrolled through the list of saved numbers in my phone (which was depressingly short) and dialed hers once I came upon it.
“I’m sorry I suck,” I said as soon as she said hello.

– Copyrighted 2008 from Shoo Elephant Shoo