Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Better late than never...

So I've known about this for a while but was sworn to secrecy first and then got sidelined by doggers and houses second. The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia has a distribution deal with Robert DeNiro's Tribeca Films. Apparently the film will hit video on demand first around the end of April, then a short theatrical run (the initial idea was to release in NYC and LA, but the director is pushing a run in TN, WV and smaller markets), and then DVD release.

*Disclaimer - I was the associate producer on this film but I in no way recommend it to the faint of heart. It is graphic. It is sad. It is painful. But I also believe it gives a portrait of addiction that is incredibly raw. It was hard to live the story and I find it equally difficult to watch.*

Anyway, despite the content of the film, the project itself was a blessing for me and I would love to see the people I worked with move on up the Hollywood ladder. I also happen to know that, if the film manages to turn a profit (a rarity for documentaries), there are plans in place for those funds that will benefit the White family's future.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Why I love Cupcake Hero

I was telling my bloggy buddy Jacque Jo the other day that I just love Cupcake Hero time because there's such a spike in my blog traffic. But I also hate when Cupcake Hero time happens to coincide with a time like the past couple weeks where I've been so overwhelmed with personal stuff that I haven't even baked. It only makes sense that, when cupcake fans come calling, I should have plenty of new recipes available to grab their interest.

But, every once in a while, I'm reminded of the thing that is truly miraculous about the blog world. You can follow a link looking for one thing and find something you didn't even think you were looking for. Or someone can find you when they didn't even know they were looking for you. And that happened to me over the weekend.

I received an email from the mom of a 5 yr old boy with Aspergers. She told me that hearing the stories about my daughter gave her hope. And I can't even explain how much that meant.

For many years, I kept what was going on with my daughter a secret. At a certain point I became too weak to hide that there were problems, but I still never dared tell the full truth. And, to be honest, there are elements that I probably will never be able to talk about. But for years, you would never, ever hear me mention the term Aspergers. My little girl couldn't be autistic. I couldn't or, to be more honest, wouldn't accept it.

As I read this other mom's blog, I was transported back to the past for a second. I remembered those moments, both the terrible and the beautiful. I remembered the times I broke down on Not-So-Ex (who was my actual ex at the time) and he had to comfort a woman who though her daughter was lost. But I also remembered those first few times when I saw the cloud lift and my daughter re-emerge. And those wonderful times were what kept me trying, even after the heartbreak of watching her fall back into the cloud again.

So I would like to say to this mom, and any others, the thing that her doctor said to me one day that meant everything.

This is not because of you. You did not cause this and you can't fix it either. All that you can do is do the best that you can. Sometimes you will fail, and that's ok. Because they need to know that everyone fails. Sometimes things will work and sometimes they won't. But the most important thing is that you keep trying.

And I would also add my own advice as well. Above all else, protect your child. And never let anyone disrespect your knowledge or understanding of your child. Work with your doctor, but do not let their words trump your knowledge or intuition because they can fail too. And, above all else, cherish the good moments. Your child may never be "normal", but they will be so much cooler than that because they'll be themselves.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sweet, sweet Friday...

So I am truly worn down today. In part, that's normal for a Friday but this week it's kicked up a notch due to all the craziness. So here is what I am looking forward to this weekend:

1. Not worrying about the house.
I'm in the process of providing more and more paperwork for the mortgage guy in hopes of being able to save the house deal. While I'm glad there's a chance, it is exhausting. Every time you think "Yay! Got that last elusive piece of paper," you get a call or email saying "I also need x, y, & z." Since it will be the weekend, there won't be a single thing I can get. So that pressure will be off.

2. Bringing Lucy home.
Not-So-Ex just called to check on Lucy and the vet said we can pick her up today! I'm so thrilled! We may have to keep her separated from the Jakester, but we'll figure that out somehow. Also, Jake is showing no symptoms at all so it is looking good for him too.

3. Catching up on sleep.
Our entire household has been sleep deprived this week, primarily due to bad dreams or worrying. This weekend we can all catch up.

Ok... that's all my sleepy noggin can produce right now! Happy weekend folks!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


So I was really upset over possibly losing the house yesterday. Then I got the news about Lucy and Jake and it clarified everything for me.

Our little family has lived over a year in our apartment. It hasn't always been fun, but it's doable. And if we need to live another year there we will.

But our family is tight. We love each other very much. The loss of any of our members, even the newest one, is so much more important that the building where we keep our stuff. While I'll continue working on the house stuff, my priority is making sure that we do everything we can for our pups.

I also have to say that I felt completely blessed yesterday when faced with the prospect of spending $500 to save a pound puppy to have a husband who wasn't even the least bit hesitant. And, of course, there have been times when $500 would have been prohibitive, so I'm glad we're at a place where we could handle it without concern.

But please keep us all in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Prayer Request

Our new pup, Lucy, has parvo. She's been put in the hospital. Please pray that she can pull through. Also, please pray that Jake did not get infected. He's had two parvo shots and is getting a booster one today, but we'll have to watch him carefully.

My heart is breaking right now and I haven't even had to face the kids yet.

Here are the facts...

Well it turns out that while I had been marveling at how much easier the house buying process was this time around, I just hadn't gotten far enough for it to get really messy. I hit that point yesterday afternoon. I had been operating under the assumption that the bank lady had been honest with me and that, when she said that everything looked good, it was basically a done deal.

To be blunt, the house may not happen. I should know today.

If she says no, we will go somewhere else and see what happens. I find it all very confusing, but that's not really surprising. I don't have a mind for this kind of thing.

Yesterday, I was devastated. In my mind, we were just about to move in so to be knocked back so hard and so fast was rough. It took some time before I could step back and see the full picture. Worse case scenario, we're stuck in our ghetto apartment for a few more years with a pretty considerable amount of disposable income. While we would of course be squirreling away money for future house buying, we could also be doing some wonderful traveling. And we'd all love that.

Anyway, everything is quite a bit hazier than it was a day ago. I can see the good and bad in both sides of things so we'll see what happens. I'm sure the result will be good for us one way or another.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Too tired to talk...

So here's a lovely pic of Lucy and Jake bonding.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A huge thank you!

I won the popular vote for Cupcake Hero March!

I would like to thank those responsible for the 96 (yes I said 96!) votes I received! I never thought it was possible and I'm so pleased that so many friends and family played such a huge part.

But I also wanted to make sure that everyone realized that Cupcake Hero isn't just a popularity contest. Clara, the Goddess behind Cupcake Hero, will take the recipes from the cupcakes that receive the most votes (MINE!) and one that she chooses. She bakes up both recipes and picks her fave. And THAT is the winner.

So, yes, I could still lose (or "not win" as I prefer to think of it). But I really think my recipe is a winner so we'll see!

Monday's hazy thoughts...

So it's a Monday morning and I'm still a bit addled from a very busy weekend. So I'm just gonna throw some bullet points at ya and hope they make sense.

1. Welcome to Armageddon...
Ok, I have the strangest assortment of facebook friends on the planet. I grew up in private schools and in a very religious world, so I have a bunch of the rightest wing folks on the planet. I happen to be a big time liberal though so the other half of my friends are like minded. I always will uphold any person's right to believe what ever they choose and speak accordingly. What I will never understand is how the passage of healthcare reform is a sign of the end times. You don't like the bill? I get that and, to an extent, I agree. Personally, I don't think the bill that passed goes far enough, but I am glad to see the government making a start at least. But "the end of times"? Really? *sigh*

2. A more likely sign of Armageddon...
Today's finally my daughter's birthday. At 1:50 pm, she will be a teenager. If it wasn't for her uber geekiness, I would be more concerned.
Jakester showing off his collar...
3. Spring cleaning fail...
I was determined to start spring cleaning (plus packing) this weekend and I did. To help in this endeavor, my parents lent me their carpet shampooer and I was super psyched to get the Jake smell out of the house. I did the entire downstairs twice. The Jake smell is mostly gone. In its place is a bit of a perfumey smell, which may well kill Jake and I. My allergies are full fledged kicking this morning. Jakester hasn't quite been himself either. I think I'll have to go over the floors again with clean water tonight if there's time after all the partying.
Our beautiful new family member...
4. Our family is growing...
Over the weekend, a friend that volunteers extensively for the animal shelter mentioned a dog that needed a home. After finding out the dog was already spoken for, she mentioned that there was a similar breed at the pound and that we should check it out. So yesterday we went to look for a dog that is smaller than Jake but around his age so that he'll have a friend to play outside with once we move to the new house. We walked past cage after cage of beautiful dogs until we got to the last one. I looked at the little dog (supposedly a lab mix but that's gotta be a lot of mixing) who sat quietly and looked back at me. Then I looked up and saw a sign on the cage that said "Save Me" and it was a done deal. Once I saw that sign, that dog was ours. So I walked back out of the kennels while averting my eyes from all the other dogs and signed the papers. We'll pick her up from the vet today. So far, her name is Lucy (for Lucille Ball) but we're still negotiating that one. I'm anxious to get her home to meet Jake, but I'm even more anxious to get them both to the new house where they'll have more space.

Friday, March 19, 2010

1-800 Flowers... when you really don't care when it arrives...

Monday is my daughter's 13th birthday and today is their last day of school before Spring Break. So I sent her flowers to be delivered at school today through 1-800 Flowers. But they never arrived.

I called customer service and was told that they were out and it was my fault for not responding to their email. Except I never got an email, which the person finally conceded to. I was promised gift certificates for their mistake, which is all well and good but I'll use them on something that isn't important, since they clearly can't be counted on to deliver on time.

I should also point out that, in the two times I've ordered from them, something hasn't been delivered both times. So if you ever order through them, know it's at your own risk.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Vote for me - The March edition

You can make my Samoa Cupcakes the Cupcake Hero champ for March by going here and voting for me! They were damn good cupcakes so they deserve to win!!!

Happy Bedroom to You

My baby girl's birthday is Monday. She'll be 13. I truly can't believe it. I vividly remember her birth, which with the passing of time has gone from looking like an episode of ER in my mind to a messy episode of I Love Lucy. From the fact that the epidural fell out of my back to me answering a phone call from a wrong number while in hard labor, it's gotten much funnier as we both age.

I was 19 and single when I found out I was pregnant. During the pregnancy, I pretended that her biological father was actually gonna stick around, but we all knew better. I remember leaning over her while changing her in the hospital and just looking at this gorgeous little girl and wondering if we were tough enough to make it on our own. I looked into her blue eyes (although they turned to green like mine) and said to her, "It's just you and me against the world baby."

In some ways I was right. Her biological father was gone by the time she was about 3 months old. But we weren't alone. We had (and have) all the support in the world. My parents offered to babysit in the evenings so I took college classes some nights and, when not in class, worked. It wasn't long till I met Not-So-Ex and our own little family was born.

During the divorce, I felt like I had lost my family and, in a lot of ways, I had. Since rebuilding the strength of both our own little family and my larger family as well, I'm constantly reminded of just how much support I have. Like when we decided to buy this home and mentioned our lack of furniture, my mom was full of ideas. She knew one family member was giving away furniture because she wanted to clear out her storage and she offered her own dining room table and china cabinet to me, which was a huge offer since Mom always has beautiful furniture.

Of course the biggest thing was her offer to buy both the kids bedroom suites for their birthdays since they currently have almost no furniture to speak of and share one room. Right now the two of us have been window shopping like mad to fix up the perfect room for a teenager. But I still got quite a giggle, as did my daughter, out of the birthday card they left for her yesterday. Inside it read "Happy bedroom to you, happy bedroom to you, happy bedroom dear Rena, happy bedroom to you." Apparently I actually DID inherit some of my goofiness from my mom. Here I had always thought it was Dad's fault! LOL

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Luck of the Irish indeed!

So I went to the bank today. All my paperwork is in, we have a few more hurdles to jump, but it's all looking very good. And April will probably see us moving! Yay!

And, again, just to share my excitement, here is a superbad iPhone pic of the piece de resistance... the kitchen - or at least half of it (you should hear angels in the background as you read that).

The eating of the green...

So it's St. Patrick's Day and I had to have some special cupcakes. I mean, this is the girl who used to convince her kids that their last name changed to O'Hill one day a year. But, I will admit, while the cupcakes are festive, they're just my Vanilla Bean Cupcakes w/ Cream Cheese frosting.

Anyway, this St. Patty's is off to a horrendous start. So, to distract from the awful start to the day, I'm gonna keep it light.

In honor of St. Patrick's, here is my list of the things that I thank Ireland for on a (somewhat) daily basis:

1. U2 - Not-So-Ex may think Bono is one cocky bastard (not that I disagree), but he's also one of my first loves. My aunt, who was in her early 20s when I was a kid, introduced me to U2 at a time when pretty much every radio station in our area was banned by my parents. And I have to say thank God for that. The first album I ever bought was Live Under a Blood Red Sky, which I bought for my aunt for Christmas, and Boy was bought soon after for myself. I also came very close to putting myself into labor when I went to a U2 concert in Lexington against my doctor's advice. But, luckily, my son held off another week or two.

2. Guinness and Bailey's Irish Cream - Now I'm not a huge drinker and I can't take Guinness on it's own, but I love that both these can be used in a million different recipes. You could easily have an entire meal with Guinness involved in every course. And, of course, I have to point out that there are tons of recipes for Guinness Cupcakes. It's even less surprising that there are tons of Baileys cupcake recipes, and of course the Baileys coffee. And, even better, you can make your own Baileys! I haven't tried it yet but one of these days I'll have to.

3. Irish Stereotypes - Now I'm not a fan of stereotyping, but has there ever been a stereotype that has provided more fodder for comedy than the drunk, loud Irishman? And God knows there's a pretty large portion of the male population looking for that fiery redhead (*sigh*).

4. Denis Leary - While I may be a little pissed at Leary right now after the way the last season of Rescue Me ended (and it started with such promise), I have always had a super soft spot in my heart for assholes. And he is an asshole. I loved his comedy. I loved his movies - the ones where he played the same persona he always does (The Ref), the ones where he actually had a softer side (The Thomas Crown Affair), the ones where he goes all serious (Recount), and even the ones where he's just a voice (The Ice Age movies). He even makes me like Oprah a little more. Anyway, while there are tons of gorgeous Irish Americans, he's my favorite!

Well I think I'm gonna leave it at that. I may add other things as the day moves on and, if you have a fave I haven't discussed, feel free to shoot me an email and I'll add it to my list!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Well I've never done that before...

A truly terrible iPhone pic of my grandparents' car in front of the Capitol

So today was the day that my papaw went to meet with Governor Manchin. Since I work on the Capitol grounds, I was the obvious choice to help get the plan all worked out. I started making phone calls last week since we needed a loaner wheelchair and because I didn't know the best route to take for wheelchair accessibility.

When I called about the wheelchair, they said it wasn't something they normally did, but that they would make exceptions for a man who just received the Legion of Honor for protecting our country.

When I asked about where to enter and meet them for the wheelchair, he gave me directions but they didn't quite make sense. Now I'm pretty geographically challenged. It's a miracle I don't get lost every morning on my way to work. As he was giving the directions, I tried to write down every word and then asked my co-worker if they made sense to her. They didn't. So, being anxious and confused, I called again.

On the second phone call, it became clear what he wanted me to do. I had to actually drive onto the Capitol campus and take Papaw directly to the steps of the Capitol building. And the person I spoke with made it clear that I was to drive the car, not my grandma.

This whole thing made me so nervous! Yesterday I went to my boss and Not-So-Ex asking the best way to get him there. This morning, I walked over to meet them early so I could look at it all first-hand and make sure I knew what I was doing.

In the end, it was a breeze. I rolled right up on the grounds and across to the Capitol without any hassle. They met me with the wheelchair and we got him right in. I also got to meet the Gov and we all got pictures.

While it was cool and all, it was really just nice to be there with Mamaw and Papaw and actually do something for them. They've done so much for me, not to mention my kids, and I really wanted to be able to pay back at least a tiny piece of that.

Anyway, it made for a pretty good morning.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Blah, blah, blah...

So today is a dark, rainy, hazy sorta Monday morning. I had a roller coaster weekend thanks, in part, to my daughter having a huge report due this morning, which stressed me out to the nth degree. But, thank goodness, we were able to get her report done, her salt map painted, labelled, and keyed, her stamp cut out, and enough flan made for 5th and 6th grade to taste (with a bit left over). In the end, I was so happy to just kinda collapse on the couch. She should be doing her presentation even as I'm typing.

Outside of that, my weekend was mostly calm.

Friday night I went to a premiere of three short (and some trailers) from other students at WVSU, which is where I'm working on my masters. I hadn't planned on going, but got a last minute invite from a friend and I'm so glad I did. In our area, it's rare that people turn out for events like this. But, this time, we had a mostly full house. It was really incredible to see. It's good to know that the film community in a small area like ours is growing fast. And it's even better to know that I'm a part of it. It made me even more excited to get my thesis done and work on as many other films as I can until that fateful day when they force me to graduate and return full time to the grown up world.

Saturday morning I had planned a bit of shopping with my mom. She has decided to get the kids new bedroom suites for their rooms and she wanted me to see what she was considering for my daughter especially. What I thought would be 3-4 stops over a couple hours turned into 7 stops over like 6 hours. I had forgotten how good Mom is at shopping! I came home with sore feet and one beautiful picture for my kitchen-to-be!
Papaw with his new medal

Anyway, last week I mentioned that my papaw was going to DC to get a medal from the French Embassy (making him part of the Legion D'Honneur or Legion of Honor, which includes the likes of Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, and Laurence Olivier to name a few). They had a wonderful trip and, according to Mom, the French Ambassador made every single man feel as if they were singlehandedly responsible for saving France, and eventually the rest of the world, from Hitler. I just had to post a couple pics since I'm so overwhelmingly proud of him. As Mom said, everyone should get the chance to be celebrated in their last days.
Mamaw and Papaw in DC

He's being honored here in Charleston this week too, so I'm very excited to be able to be a part of it all this time. I've just gotta figure out how to get them where they need to be, which is trickier than it sounds! But I'm sure it will all turn out just fine.

Friday, March 12, 2010

We have a winner!

I just received the inspection report on the house we're trying to buy and everything is as we had hoped! I go to the bank next week to turn in the reams of paperwork requirements and I'm waiting for a call back from the realtor so I know what we need to do next.

Just to share a bit of my excitement, here's a lovely, hazy iPhone pic of the living room!

Welcome to Fishnet Friday!

Yes it is Friday (woo hoo) and yes I'm wearing fishnets! In fact, I think today's look could be best described as Hippy Dippy with just a pinch of hook thrown in for fun. And my full tatt is visible too. Go fig.

Anyway, I'm in an excellent mood (despite having forgotten my phone) and just sure I'll get my house inspection report squared away today.

On the negative side, my workplace has gone seriously block happy lately! I totally didn't see that coming but whatever.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Stealing from ETW...

So I totally stole these questions from the Evil Twin's Wife cause my mind is bouncing all over the place this morning!

1. How old is the oldest pair of shoes in your closet?

None of mine are too awfully old right now. I have a pair of chucks that is probably 4-5 yrs old but that's it. When we moved into our current apartment a little over a year ago, I donated most of my older shoes that I never wore. Since we got Jake the Wonder Mutt, I do well to keep shoes at all since fake leather is one of his favorite treats.

2. Did you buy Girl Scout cookies this year? If so, what variety?

I bought Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, and Trefoils. I love them. I'm always a sucker for sugar but it's extra nice that they're really good and I didn't have to make them myself.

3. Do you know how to ballroom dance? If not, would you like to?

I so wish I did. When we first got back together, Not-So-Ex wanted to take a class, but I put it off and I wish I hadn't!

4. Were you a responsible child/teenager?

I was an uber-responsible kid. As a teenager, not so much.

5. How many of this year's Oscar-nominated movies did you see?

I'm a (fledgling) film geek so I actually saw most of them. I saw Avatar (yawn), Up in the Air (wonderful), Up (even more wonderful), Inglorious Basterds (effing awesome), and District Nine (meh). I will be watching Hurt Locker, for which I've heard absolutely nothing but praise, soon. I can't decide if I'll watch Precious, which just looks so incredibly good but in a painful sort of way, or A Serious Man, but I probably will eventually.

6. If you're going to have a medical procedure done, such as having blood drawn, is it easier for you to watch someone else having the procedure done or have it done yourself?

Having blood drawn doesn't even phase me. I despise IVs though.

7. What is your favorite day of the week and why?

I think I'll have to go with the obvious and say Saturday. That's the day when work doesn't even enter my mind and there's no pressure to get the kids ready for school or anything.

8. Do you miss anyone right now?

I'm not sure miss is the right word, but I'd love to have the fam with me instead of being in my office!

9. Do hospitals make you queasy?

Normally, no. But I will say that visiting my papaw in a VA hospital a few years ago almost took me out. There was just something about that place.

10. At which store would you like to max-out your credit card. Not that you ever would, you responsible person, you.

There are a few places actually. I could burn through some serious plastic at Old Navy. Plus, Target has a very special, warm spot in my wallet. Krogers also gets a good chunk of my paycheck on a pretty regular basis.

11. Are you true to the brand names of products/items?

I'm normally a cheaper is better sorta chick. But I do buy name brand chocolate chips and chocolate baking bars when I'm baking something special. And Hershey's dark cocoa powder is awesome too.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Today could possibly be one of the best days of my life (thus far). And I totally didn't see it coming.

I took this morning off from work cause I had a million errands, the house inspection, and then my daughter's birthday lunch at her school.

I got up, ran all the errands and got to the new house at just the right time. The inspector got there and was immediately impressed by the house. We went on in and I got to meet one of the owners, which was incredible luck. He sat and talked while the inspector worked and gave me the full history of the house (which is almost 100 yrs old and in pristine shape), the neighborhood, and the family that originally owned the house (and owned it for about 3/4 of the life of the house). He talked about the neighbors and how great they are. He talked about the best places to take our dog to play. He talked about the work they had done on the house. I was in awe of all of it.

As the inspector would work his way in and out of our area, he would remark over and over about what great condition the house was in. He pointed out several positive things that neither Not-So-Ex or I had noticed.

I hated to leave the inspection, but had to so I could get to my daughter's school for her birthday lunch. I got there, sat down and ate with her, and was just blown away by the changes even since last year. Not only was she just kind in general, but when I mentioned I hadn't had time to get lunch, she shared hers'. And then came a moment I may never forget. All the kids in the lunchroom sang happy birthday to all the kids with birthdays, but then, a few minutes later, a group of girls from her class got the teacher's attention and asked to sing just to my daughter. And in that one moment I realized that my daughter had friends. She was accepted. And I really had to struggle not to tear up. Maybe it's the treatment that's helping. Maybe she's maturing and learning to read some of the social cues that have always mystified her in the past. Whatever has helped, I was so overcome with thankfulness, both for the changes in my own daughter, but also for the chance to see the kindness of those other girls.

So now I sit at my desk at work and I can't help but realize that it's been a really long time since I've felt so blessed in so many different aspects of my life. And, this time, I'm going to appreciate ever single second!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How Dell made sure I will always be a Mac

I prefer macs. I had an iBook that I used myself (I say had because the poor ancient laptop gave up the ghost over the weekend), an old iMac for the kids, and Not-So-Ex and I both have iPhones. However, before we got back together, Not-So-Ex purchased a nice & shiny new Dell.

I will point out here that right around the same time he bought his Dell, I purchased my iBook, a 3-4 yr old model that I got on ebay. I've never had a single issue with my mac. I added a wireless card and additional memory without issue.

When the hubby moved in like 8-9 months ago, he took to my mac pretty quickly. It came up much faster than his Dell and he didn't have to worry about all the security and virus stuff.

Then, a couple months ago, the Dell got a virus. He had kept absolutely everything from when he bought the computer, and we're both pretty computer literate folks, so I thought it would be easy enough to fix. Nope.

We tried everything and then decided to just reinstall Windows and start fresh. The reinstall went fine until we realized that there was no disc with the drivers for the modem and the speakers. I went online at work to download the drivers figuring that would fix it, but there were 6 different drivers and only one had a name I recognized from his computer. So I downloaded that one. It didn't fix it.

I figured we were being silly and just needed to call Dell and ask what exactly needed downloaded or if they could just send us the disc we needed. But, after being on hold for 40 minutes and being transfered to three different departments, I was told that I could download drivers online but they couldn't so much as tell me what drivers were needed without a charge. So I asked if they could just send us the disc and was told there was a charge for that too.

So, Dude, if you're getting a Dell, you're getting one expensive paperweight. As for me, I'll stay a Mac.

Monday, March 8, 2010

My kind of perfect (with a recipe of course)

So I had the absolute best of weekends. There was tons of family time, lots of good movies and tv, and even a trip to church! And, like all good weekends, there was the perfect cupcake experiment too.

I knew the weekend would be awesome when Not-So-Ex walked in Friday with Girl Scout Cookies. As a fan of all thing sugar based, I love cookie time. As I looked over the ones he bought (Tagalongs for me, Thin Mints for himself and Hunt, and Trefoils and Samoas for all of us), I remembered that I needed to get baking for Cupcake Hero this month, especially since I had taken a couple months off. Plus this month is all about caramel, which is a favorite substance of mine.

As I looked at the Samoas, I thought how perfect it would be if I could make a cupcake version. So that's what I did.

I started with a shortbread cupcake base. I forgot to buy shortbread cookies at the store, so I made my own from scratch. But I'm sure the store bought would work just as well.

Shortbread Cupcakes
Makes 12-14 cupcakes / 350 F oven

What You’ll Need...
1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup of milk
1 cup of flour
1 1/2 cups of shortbread cookie crumbs
1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/8 teaspoon of salt

What You’ll Do...

1) Beat the butter for about 30 seconds until well creamed. Add the sugars and mix for 3 minutes using a paddle attachment until light and fluffy.
2) Add the eggs, one at a time, being sure to beat for 30 seconds for each egg.
3) Place cookies in a food processor or in a plastic bag and crush into small crumbs and powder.
4) Mix together the flour, cookie crumbs, baking soda and powder, and salt. Add about 1/3 of the flour/cookie mixture to the butter mixture, then add some of the milk. Continue to add the ingrdients in a dry-wet-dry method, ending with the dry. Continue to mix until just combined.
5) Scoop into cupcake papers and bake for 15-18 minutes in a 350 F oven or until a cake tester comes out clean.

For the filling and topping, I wanted a good caramel base. I had never made homemade caramels but thought it would be fun to try. So I made a batch of caramels and, since the recipe makes a ton, I poured half into a greased pan to eat as regular caramels and then I thinned down the remaining caramel mixture with milk. Again, I'm sure store bought caramels (I only like Kraft ones though) would be good too.

So here's my attempt at making up a recipe for the filling and topping.

One bag unwrapped caramels
1/2 c milk (more or less)
One small bag coconut
Some melted chocolate for drizzling

Melt the caramels in a saucepan. Once they're melted, add milk until they reach the desired consistency. You want them still thick enough to not be watery, but not so thick that, when cooled, they'll turn into sweet little rocks. Once you feel comfortable with the thickness, let the mixture cool.
While it cools, take the bag of coconut and spread it on a baking sheet. Put it in the oven at 350 and wait 10-15 minutes, then stir and put back in for about 5-10 minutes. Keep stirring and toasting till it's all toasted. Keep a close eye on it though. Coconut will catch fire in a hurry. No one wants flames shooting out of their oven. (And yes I know they will catch fire from personal experience)

Once cooled, I put the caramel in a bag and piped the filling in. I know some people prefer to scoop part of the cupcake out and spoon the filling in, and that will work too. It doesn't take much to fill all the cupcakes, maybe 1/2 - 3/4 of a bag full.

Once cupcakes are filled, add the toasted coconut to the remaining caramel mixture. Let it sit for just a few seconds, put it in a bag and pipe it on. I just use a tipless bag and cut the end off. It's not going to be pretty no matter what but it won't be too messy.

Once they're all topped, melt your chocolate and drizzle away. Then put them in the fridge for a bit to help them firm up and not be too messy to eat.

The end result was absolutely delicious!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Frak that I'm going nowhere!

Yesterday I received what I perceived to be a threat to my readers. In response, I was going to shut down this site and start fresh somewhere else and keep the new blog anonymous.

But I realized this morning that I don't want to. I like my blog. I like my readers. I like sharing when I feel comfortable and holding back when I don't.

I have things in my past that I'm not proud of. I have no problem discussing them, and have many times in the past, but I am moving forward and will not discuss them in a public forum. I'm not scared of my past. And I'm not tortured by it either.

If you come here looking for a person who has never lied or cheated, you are in the wrong place. I am a person who is flawed in many, many ways. If you are here to pass judgement on me or others, you are in the wrong place. I will accept a lot, but I will never, ever allow anyone to be treated as less than in my space.

And that's exactly what this is... my space.

For now, comments are private for everyone's sake. If you want to talk about the past, please feel free to email me. I am not afraid of discussing it, but I refuse to air my dirty laundry in public. If you receive unwanted emails from anyone, I apologize again.

Update: I just had to say a huge thank you to all the folks that have emailed or facebooked or messaged me! It's meant so much!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I'm assembling my army as we speak (mwahahahahaha)

So last week I had a conversation with a friend that included a foray into our favorite candies, Easter candy especially. And I mentioned my infatuation with Peeps.

Peeps and I have an interesting relationship. I love them. I think they may possibly be the most beautiful candy I have ever seen with their bright pinks, yellows, and blues. I know they now come in a million different shapes and colors for every possible occasion, but only the Easter chicks and bunnies (chicks first as I'm kinda meh on the bunnies) have possession of the special little squishy spot in my heart. The second those bright little chicks hit the grocery store shelf, I must buy them.

However, like all relationships, there is one flaw in my adoration of Peeps. I don't like to eat them. I don't like the taste or the texture. I just like to look at them. When I had kids, I thought they would be the perfect way to use up all those Peeps but, daggonit, they don't like them either. So every year I look for something to do with them. I'm not an artist (unless you count cupcakes) so I've never done the dioramas (although I now desperately want to). I'm always looking for recipes involving Peeps, but I don't want to torture the little beauties either.

Of course, while I may not be an artist, those little Peeps should be thankful I'm not a scientist either. I mean the worst I would do to them is plop them on a cupcake!

PS - If you're not a link clicker, you're really missing out!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hello shark... I think it's time to jump you...

I love my tv, as I believe I've mentioned before, but a couple nights ago a show I dearly love jumped the shark completely.

Now some may argue that Big Love actually jumped the shark over a week ago when a grandmother cut off a gangster's arm with one swing of a machete. But I have to argue that, while insane, that moment may actually come in second to this moment of utter stupidity.

For the sake of argument, the machete-wielding, polygamous grandmother at least was necessary for the plot. However, nothing has ever, EVER rested on the results of a serious game of tetherball. EVER. Secondly, are we to believe that the hotter, younger thief of half of Bill's female entourage would 1. Get that sweaty playing effing tetherball in the backyard and 2. Loose to a man about 10 yrs older and still wearing a tie. Oh wait... and 3. Why would two grown men be playing tetherball by themselves anyway?

Anyway, I watched the first three seasons of Big Love on DVD and, once I started I couldn't stop. Now I DVR them and don't get to them until I watch Chuck at least once, How I Met Your Mother, and Big Bang Theory. Before long I'll be forgetting I even DVRed them.


Much like I always say about Weeds, it all went bad once they changed the opening. So, just cause I miss the old one, here you go...

Brightest bulb I am not...

So yeah today seemed like the perfect time (despite the fact that it's mid 30's outside, I am taking meds for ear infections, and I'm wearing high heels) to walk over to the new house and take a couple pics. You see we bought the house before it was even actually posted so we don't have anything to show friends and family.

I came back to work with a runny nose, throbbing feet, and a couple decent pics which I promptly showed to my co-workers. If any of my friends in bloggerland wanna see, just email!

What a red-letter day!

So yesterday was pretty awesome. Work was smooth, I was feeling better, and then I had good news in pretty much all areas of my life. There was news on the personal front (with the house deal), the professional front (which I'm not discussing yet), and on the family front too (which I'm gonna talk about now).
Pic stolen from my brilliant photographer cousin Eric Conner

My papaw is one of the 30 remaining men from his division in World War II. His division, the 95th Infantry, received a lot of recognition and rewards, not from our own country, but from France. You see his division was responsible for liberating and defending the city of Metz, France, which was, at that time, an important military holding for Germany for both political and historical reasons and earned them the nickname "The Iron Men of Metz." The 95th, along with other divisions, were involved in the Battle of Metz where they were led by General Patton. After France, they went on into Germany where they were involved in liberating the concentration camps, something that haunted Papaw for many years. In the end, his division lost over 10,000 men in World War II.

As a kid, Papaw's war experience was something that was whispered about and told as a secret. We often went to reunions of his war buddies and all of their families, but the true battles were rarely discussed. I heard the stories of my incredibly mischievous Papaw liberating and frying chickens, which weren't hard to imagine at all, or how he managed to arrange for two of his three enlisted brothers to all meet up in Germany (Papaw had four brothers, three of which fought in WWII, and all came home safe). But I never heard the horrors, I was protected from that. As I grew up, more details leaked out and my Papaw grew to be a hero in my eyes. Sometimes I made him more of a legend than he really was, such as when I was in junior high and just convinced that he barely missed saving Anne Frank (yes I was clearly a voracious reader with an imagination to match). But I was always told not to ask him about his service and, even though I didn't understand, I obeyed.

As Papaw aged, he gradually stopped going to the division's yearly reunion saying it was just too depressing to see less and less of them there as deaths became more common. But the bond that they shared was a tight one. And, next week, the 30 remaining men were invited to DC where they will be receiving an award from the French Embassy for their service.

I'm very proud of Papaw, and all the men just like him.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Woo Hoo Baby!!!!

We have a house deal folks! Now we still gotta go through the whole inspection process again but I know this house is in way better shape so I'm sure all will work out just fine.

I also got some other good news, but I'm not allowed to discuss it yet! LOL

What a weekend!

As I said in my last post, I woke up with an ear infection Friday morning and it was driving me nuts! I put going to the doc off till Sat morning when I woke up in pretty considerable pain. Since it was snowing and still early, I figured they wouldn't be busy and I was right. I was in and out in less than 45 minutes. Turned out I had an external ear infection in my right ear (which was what sent me to the doc in the first place), but I also had what looked to be the beginning of internal ear infections in both ears and a red throat. So I spent most of the weekend laying on my side with drops in my ear and taking antibiotics.

That may not sound like the best weekend, but it was pretty great actually. For one, by the end of Saturday, the pain was mostly gone. By Sunday, there was no pain and the antibiotics were helping to lift the vague ickyness I had been feeling for a while. Plus all that time on my side meant plenty of good tv and movie viewing!

And that was all wonderful since we went to look at a house Sunday afternoon. It was the house that our realtor had emailed about last week. She told us she thought we'd really like it but I wasn't sure how much attention she had been paying to what we were looking for. Turns out she was paying a lot of attention. Want a nice kitchen? Check. Original hardwood floors in good shape? Check. Three nice sized bedrooms with decent closets? Check. Fenced yard for the dogger? Check. Unfinished basement for storage? Check. Wanna be close to the Capitol? Big, big check! It even had things that we didn't think we would find like great paint jobs in all the rooms, a nice front porch, and a street full of what appears to be decent houses rather than the popular East End houses far past their prime turned into apartments.

Of course it's not perfect, there are some concerns about the location being a bit noisy. And, while the paint job is wonderful, I may have to change some of the colors. They did a wonderful job of giving the house a nice, calming, toned-down palette, but my Snoopys could use a brighter, jewel-toned background. But that's something that could come in time.

So we made our offer and we'll see what happens now. But it's nice to be excited again and see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'll definitely be thrilled to leave our apartment behind. I have a feeling that, in a few years time, it will become that first apartment where everything was crappy but you were really happy anyway. But for now, it's just crappy! LOL