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Group trip idea!

Posted on 14.01.2009 at 15:11
Mood: excitedhaving a Eureaka! moment
itachimusume and I have oft discussed the possibility of a group trip to Japan, particularly in the spring when the sakura are blooming. We've never really gotten around to planning it because we are lazy and a trip like that requires a lot of planning and money. On the other hand, the Las Vegas trip worked out fairly well, but would have been better if ATA had not tanked right before it, stranding many peoples in Hawaii. So I think it's time for another trip.


The National Cherry Blossom Festival is held in Washington, DC every year. This year it's March 28 - April 12. So it's spring and the sakura will be blooming. The downside: it's not Japan, there won't be sakura everything, we won't wander aimlessly around a foreign city, laughing at weird shit. The upside: we'll understand what everything says, it won't cost nearly as much, and we get to go to the Spy Museum.

So what do you guys think? itachimusume and I have never been to DC, J hasn't been in a really long time. I suspect it will take more than a couple of days to really see everything, so maybe a week?

I was also thinking (dunno if it would be cheaper on your end), what if you guys flew into PGH, stayed with us a day or so, then we all road tripped it to DC (Takes about 4 hours), stayed in DC a week (or less), road tripped it back to the burgh, hung out for another day or so, and then you guys (unfortunately) went home.

Any takers?


Happy New Year!

Posted on 01.01.2009 at 00:08
Been trying to call peoples, but all the lines are busy. Hope everyone is having a great time and best wishes for the new year!!

omg omg omg

OMFG Gamers: Dorkness Rising

Posted on 06.09.2008 at 23:23
Hi-larious! Seriously, freaking hilarious. Watch it.


Why is the rum gone?

Posted on 14.08.2008 at 16:16
Mood: amusedMore validation
Because I keep using it to make cakes!

So last friday I made a Coconut Rum Cake and Chocolate Almond Cherry Cupcakes for my co-worker's going away party. They both went over really well and my admin boss said it was the best cupcake he'd ever eaten. Go me. For the Coconut Rum Cake I used a fantastic Ginger Rum Cake Recipe as a base and made it coconut instead, added mac nuts instead of candied ginger, and threw in some shredded coconut. I used the same rum glaze in the original recipe to glaze the cake while is was still warm from the oven. I made a coconut rum icing in the morning and J iced the cake before I took it to work. Tastewise, it was very yummy, very moist. The icing was almost haupia in it's coconuty-ness. I consider it a success. However, it was not pretty. No-siree. If everything went right earlier in the week when I made the birthday cake, everything went wrong making this cake. I used my silicone bundt pan (I put my faith in it that it would work properly for once) and it decided that it didn't want to give me my cake. It almost ripped the cake in half (which, we covered up with the icing, but still). So yah, I still hate that pan. It never works properly. I'm sorry, I'm just not on team silicone just yet. It has yet to prove it's worth to me as a baking pan. The icing refused to smooth out on the cake, making it look slightly melted or goopy. I sprinkled some mac nuts on the top for a distraction, but I still wasn't happy. I was told at work that the cake didn't look ugly at all, so perhaps it was just me. Anyway, the recipe is below:

Coconut Rum Cake with Coconut Rum IcingCollapse )

Now, the chocolate cupcakes I made ended up being more like brownies. Dense and chewy, but very very tasty. I think people liked them better than the cake, actually. I cobbled together the recipe from a whole bunch of places and them threw in some things of my own.

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes with Almond Cream Cheese FrostingCollapse )

Yummy yummy yummy. Also, I made the banana upside down cake again this week. I tried it in a bundt pan instead of a springform and didn't lose any caramel. It was still fantastic. Even better since it retained all of it's caramel. I think I'd like to try it in a regular round cake pan next and see what the results would be. I think tonight I'm going to try an banana caramel cake...


I think half the reason I love baking is the compliments I get from other people

Posted on 05.08.2008 at 17:43
Mood: bouncyvalidated through baking
Been a long time, I know. Lots going on though. J is almost done refinishing the kitchen floor and it looks fantastic. He and Z scraped off the horrid linoleum tiles and tar before Z went off to Zurich to stay w/ GnE. J has sanded a whole ton and revealed the very pretty wood underneath all that crap. There's so much wood in the kitchen now, the floors, the countertops, the cabinets, there's a warm feeling to it all now. We're also repainting the kitchen. Instead of pale yellow, it's now a very very very light grey,an almost-but-not-quite-white shade that brightens up the room without being starkly white. I am not a fan of stark white walls, but I think you all know that by now. We haven't decided what we're going to paint the trim with yet. I'm still thinking a nice brick red sort of color would be pretty, but I can't decide on a shade. I have color swatches tucked into corners all over the kitchen where we've painted test patches of the new color. Eventually the cabinets will need refinishing. Under incandescant lighting they have a nice red tone, but it becomes more yellow under flourescent light. I'd like to recapture that red.

I brought a cake in today for a co-worker's birthday, and everyone liked it a lot. I consider it enough of a success that I'm posting it here.

Buttermilk Mexican Chocolate Bundt CakeCollapse )

I'm making another cake for work to bring in Friday, one of my coworkers is moving to a new position, so we're throwing her a going away party. For that I'm thinking a Coconut Rum Cake with a Coconut Rum Glaze and Macadamia Nut Streudel. It's mostly based on a Ginger Rum Cake I made that had a candied ginger streudel running through the middle (it was crazy yum and gingery) with some tweaks and an amazing looking glaze I found from another recipe. If it goes over well I'll post that here too.

Speaking of food, if you ever want some tasty inspiration, check out Tastespotting, it's a food blog soft of link aggregate with pictures. It's awesome.

I suppose there are non-food related things going on right now that I could post about but now that I've spent so much space discussing baking, all I want to do is write about how awesome fresh popovers are and caramelized banana cream cheese brownies and how easy and tasty homemade sorbet is (I've made strawberry and mango so far. Next will be cucumber lime.). The garden is bursting with stuff this year. Roma tomatoes, onions, green onions, chives, oregano, mint, basil, thai basil, cilantro, jalapenos, beans, cucumbers, and honeydew. The cucumbers are ripening like crazy. I think we have about 6 in the fridge and another six on the vine that are about ready to pick. Cucumber madness. Any suggestions on what to do with them?

Edit: J and I had the last piece of cake this morning and it was heavenly. Soft and smooth and not dry at all. Don't bother keeping it in the fridge unless you like firmer, denser cake.

nya nya nya

Happy Birthday itachimusume!!!

Posted on 20.07.2008 at 22:25
Your present is sort of on the way. I'm gathering all the bits together and am going to send it in a big package. Hope you're having a good day! I tried to call earlier, maybe I'll call again later tonight.

omg omg omg
Posted on 04.06.2008 at 16:37
These are so adorable, I feel all fangirly just looking at them. Want is not a strong enough word to describe my desire for them. Also, while I am still trying to think of a birthday present for J, I have found a cute anniversary present for the two of us.

cythenocturneand I have been discussing baking and decided I should post recipes here so she can try them, knowing they've already been tested and are yummy. To start things off, I offer this:
Banana Upside Down CakeCollapse )

I have to say, this cake is fantastic. Really. It's like Bananas Foster in cake form. It's so good. We had it plain, but I imagine it would be amazing served warm with vanilla ice cream. For serious, you need to make this cake. That is all.

nya nya nya

itachimusume went home, now Pinky is sad

Posted on 20.05.2008 at 16:07
Poor puppy. He misses her. I'm a little bummed I didn't get to cook more while itachimusume was here, but it was nice trying out new places to eat. Now that I know Lulu's is yummy food and proper bubble drinks, I expect J and I will eat eat there more often. Unfortunately, I wasn't that impressed with Rose Tea Cafe. The bubbles were good, best in the city so far, but the drink size is small and they're expensive for what little you get. Plus the food was...not quite what itachimusume and I were expecting. Not bad, but not fantastic either. The sheep and fiber festival was waaaay smaller than we though, but an interesting experience. I have no real fondness for sheep after I had to clean up after them at the petting zoo, and after the festival my final conclusion is that sheep are indeed dirty, dirty creatures who cease being even remotely cute once they are no longer little lambs. Herding dogs, however, are awesome, especially when herding ducks. Duck hearding is, in fact, hilarious. Also, alpacas are very cute and clean. Unlike sheep. Fake sheep (i.e. drawn sheep, animated sheep, stuffed sheep) are adorable. I don't understand how there could be such a huge difference between them.

The past week and a half have been a lot of fun, too bad the weather wasn't better. Apparently, next week the weather will go back to warm and sunny. Ah well, next time. Now it's time to start thinking about the next trip.

Before I get into anything else, I need to mention this. It's rather upsetting and yet funny at the same time. Apparently, Catholic nuns are forced into retirement when they reach age 70. At that point they are apparently kicked out of the order and left to take care of themselves. Unlike priests, nuns don't get any kind of pension or retirement either, so essentially they get put out on the street with nothing. Nice, eh? In the old days, the order would take care of the old, retired nun until she died. However, possibly due to the current shortage of nuns, this isn't necessarily done anymore. I wonder if, even with retirement, they are still considered married to God. Do they get to keep the ring? Regardless, isn't that a little harsh? No wonder there's a nun shortage.

Baking this week has been a success. I learned that while I still can't make a chocolate cake from scratch, I can make yummy, fudgy brownies. As much as I love cherries, I think I liked my strawberry kuchen better than the cherry pound cake I made, but both were yummy. Tonight I'm going to try something new with my alfredo and add bacon. Because bacon makes everything better. I anticipate excellent results. I'm thinking of baking cupcakes this week, but I haven't decided on exactly what kind yet. I think something lemony would be nice for spring, though perhaps a lemon or orange chiffon cake would be even better. Or perhaps mini chiffons? I've been itching to try my hand at a filled cupcake, but the standard chocolate w/ cream filling seems done. Plus, as I've already stated, I seem incapable of making chocolate cake.

nya nya nya
Posted on 18.04.2008 at 18:54
Upon returning from Vegas, J came down with an awful chest cold. He's mostly better now, and I'm only kind of sick. So, he hasn't had a chance to make an ftp server for everyone to exchange Vegas pictures just yet. It'll happen though, promise.

I've been experimenting in the kitchen again, with interesting results. For starters, I still can't make a chocolate cake from scratch and have it come out the way I want it. That being said, my cherry chocolate cupcakes were pretty tasty. But not chocolate cake-y enough. Peanut butter bread is actually pretty tasty. You bake it up like banana bread (hmmm...peanut butter banana bread...) and eat with with jam. It also goes well with nutella (or any other chocolate spread). I'm now wondering what to do with the rest of it...I've only eaten about 1/4 of it and the novelty is wearing off. J has no real interest in eating it at all.

Varekai is my new most favorite Cirque show. Netflix it. Or maybe don't. Cause we did and it just made me regret paying so much for Ka. Speaking of netflix, check out The Great Challenge if you like martial arts and parkour. Plus, it's got a guy who looks kind of like an asian Colin Farrell and a guy who looks kind of like Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Dragon Tiger Gate was pretty damn amusing, and about everything you want from an over the top modern kung-fu movie. Hitman, while not god awful, wasn't all that great either. Not the worst video game movie ever, but that's not saying much. Actually, I'm generally a fan of Timothy Olyphant, I've liked him in pretty much everything I've seen him in, except this. J and I have finished Miami Vice, so now I'm looking for a new series to netflix. Arrested Development should arrive today, and I've heard it's awesome, so maybe that will be it. I have to admit though, part of me is tempted to marathon Forever Knight.


Attn: itachimusume

Posted on 13.03.2008 at 12:44
I just found out that the Sheep and Fiber festival near Pittsburgh is May 17-18 this year.


It's about an hour and 15 minutes from our house in Waynesburg PA.

There's also one in September 6-7 in Harford, PA which is somewhere past Scranton, so about a 6 hour drive, but seems to be a larger festival. With that kind of drive I'd prolly take a day off work and we'd make a long weekend out of it.


Unfortunately, the 2008 Ligonier Highland Games are the same September weekend...but there's another, much larger Highland Games in Bethlehem later in the month....of course it's also a 5 hour drive as it looks to be roughly an hour outside of Philly. Ah well. A long weekend either way.

Anyway, just throwing those out in case you were considering coming up to visit this year.

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