i did myself a favor today.

10.29.2009

the shortage of canned pumpkin in the grocery stores has been distressing. after 3 unsuccessful trips to different stores, i finally hit pay dirt and scored a few cans. a couple of weeks ago my momma sent me a recipe that i've been dying to try - pumpkin cookies with brown butter frosting. seeing as how i'm on a brown butter kick* lately, AND since i've also failed 3 times whilst trying to score pumpkin donuts from Dunkin Donuts, i had to make something with pumpkin.

we are talking serious delicious right here. the cookies are very cakey, and moist, and the pumpkin flavor is light. their consistency is almost spongy. and the frosting with that nutty brown butter flavor is bowl-licking amazing. i just ate another one right this moment because i got all revved up just describing them!!


*ok, i made one chocolate chip cookie recipe with browned butter, which was my very first attempt and it was awesome!!!!1111

mmm ok. here they are. and the recipe via good ol' Betty Crocker. mine don't look just like theirs, but they are so yum.

Cookies:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup (from 15-oz can) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 eggs
2 ¼ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt

1. Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, beat granulated sugar, brown sugar, ¾ cup butter and 1 tsp vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until well blended. Beat in pumpkin and eggs until well mixed. On low speed, beat in flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

2. On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls.
3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched in center. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 45 minutes.
Frosting:
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup butter (do not use margarine or spread; it will burn)

1. In medium bowl, place powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and 3 tablespoons milk. In 1-quart saucepan, heat 1/3 cup butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until light brown.

2. Pour browned butter over powdered sugar mixture. Beat on low speed about 1 minute or until smooth. Gradually add just enough of the remaining 1 tablespoon milk to make frosting creamy and spreadable. Generously frost cooled cookies.

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skele-grow.

10.27.2009

we recently became the proud parents of a magical growing skeleton. it's true! 'twas a present from jesse's mom and dad. you put this little guy in water and watch him double, triple, and quadruple in size over the course of a few days. magic!

we decided to stick him in this big glass jar i've had for years and make him a halloween specimen of sorts. i don't know if we'll ever get him out of there. at least not in one piece.

observe:


his condition is serious. very serious.

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fall in the district.

10.26.2009

i know that fall is everybody's favorite time of year and everything, but having spent the first 25 years of my life where there are no seasons, i appreciate every last drop of color that bursts from these deciduous leaves. yesterday we went out to the National Arboretum - another awesome, free place to go see/do stuff in DC. it was absolutely beautiful out there, and perfect weather to boot. everything just looks and smells better in the fall. i don't know how i lived with construction paper leaves in a sea of palm trees for so long. mmmmmm.

now, more importantly . . photos.

found this little guy at the beginning of our walk:


jesse taking a breather under a tree:


ooooh those colors:


and a smattering:


man. that is good stuff.

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my cedar box of weird.

10.21.2009

whilst digging through some unpacked stuff yesterday in search of a hanging lantern cord, i came across my old cedar box. before i was born, my grandfather had a thriving furniture store in my home town. as a promotion one year, they gave out these little cedar boxes. my brother always had one when we were little, and i coveted thy box. my grandfather's sisters, elinor and lynn, also worked for the family business. they were very close and lived together ever since i can remember. lynn was once married, but after world war II her husband experienced some pretty severe post-traumatic stress disorder and divorced her. she never remarried, and she and elinor spent the rest of their days together. literally until death did they part.

when my great aunts moved into a smaller space in their later years, many of their things needed to be weeded out. my mom came across this cedar box and i instantly asked if i could have it. i haven't looked inside it in years, but i found some kind of weird and definitely random stuff in it.

the box:


and inside, the key, naturally:


a tiny measuring tape, i think it came with the box maybe:


a plaster mold of my bottom teeth, taken for a retainer when i was 9 (this is the WTF??? moment):


more happily met, a polaroid-esque (but is kodak) photo of me, my great aunt lynn, and my brother mykel - look at those pink on pink leg warmers!! i was probably 5 or 6, so this was around 1985:


and coolest of all, an old christmas card that my aunt elinor sent with her picture on it:


the back reads, "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Sure wish I could see you two lovely people."


what a great find. it's like a treasure box!! now i'll put everything back inside of it, thank you very much.

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i'm not even going to add it up.

10.20.2009

funemployment is weird. it's not fun, or bad . . it's just kind of weird. and a bit boring. i've never not had a job before, so not having a real reason to get up in the morning and put real clothes and makeup on is off-putting. strangely, the days go by just as fast though. this is week 3 and i can't believe it. it's fine and all, i'm just used to having more of a daily purpose. yesterday was highly productive, but mostly i'm starved for attention and social interaction.

today i went to have lunch with my friend ashley down around GWU. such a beautiful day, it was nice to get out and walk around the city. upon exiting the train station, i was harassed by 2 different people about some social issue and would i listen blah blah blah. after lunch, i walked to georgetown to shop for some things i needed. was harangued on every dang corner by homeless people. one of them yelled at me. par for the course, but still. what has gotten into people? several people asked me for directions. and two guys from Poland stopped and asked if they could take some pictures of me (they had some pretty decent equipment). he asked me to hold up my left hand to show my tattoo. he wanted me to do something with my hair. and then kind of just point it at him. i obliged, but i was thinking " . . strange . . ".

i walked the 1.2 miles back to the train, in hopes of catching some photos of my own. i lugged my camera around with me the whole day so i could capture some fall colors. nothing grabbed me. the leaves aren't that pretty yet. between there and home, i was asked for money twice more.

i got into my apartment, put my bag down and went to pee. i then heard a knock at my door. "shit." as i'm buckling my belt, i hear a key turn in the lock and the door opens. "UMMMM, HII????". the apartment peeps were going around because there was a flood up on the 10th floor and had to check if i was affected. the carpet in the bedroom is all wet. they are coming back in half an hour with a shop-vac and a dehumidifier.

i know i said i was starved for attention and social interaction, but save for the lunch with ashley (which was so nice!), all this is not what i had in mind.

eh, when it rains it monsoons i guess?

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gloomy days are my favorite days.

10.15.2009

it's true. i'm happiest when it's rainy outside. a big plus if it's also cold. today's high: 48°. and that = yay!

maybe i prefer it because sunny days ultimately give me a headache no matter what. stupid sensitive eyes.

maybe it's because i don't feel obligated to "get out and enjoy the day" and therefore, i actually DO get out and enjoy the day.

or maybe it's because i can sit around and no one will blame me for it.

regardless, i love living in a place where i can actually experience fall, and that's what yesterday, today, and apparently the rest of this weekend feels/will feel like. i always think of fall like living inside of Sleepy Hollow.


mmm rain. and gray skies.


just taking it in.

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speaking of skeletons . .

10.14.2009

i just love halloween time. when i was little, there would come a day in october when the air would change ever-so-slightly (remember, south florida, not much of a change). my brother and i would walk home from the bus stop and into the house, where we'd notice the windows were open. once we got inside there was the unmistakable aroma of freshly baked cookies and the halloween decorations were up!!! my favorite was this big lifesize paper skeleton with brads at the joints so his limbs were pose-able. it was the best day.

fast forward to now: jesse is obsessed with halloween decorations. we've lived together for the past 3 (pause - wow) halloweens and he is always rarin' to bust out the decor. the last 2 years, he has put out our stuff in AUGUST. yes, seriously. but i love it. one year, i was enamored with this spooky light-up tree that target had, but it was like $80. so jesse gathered up some wire, a coffee can, some cement, and a bunch of grapevine from his parents' and their neighbors' yards and MADE ME my own halloween tree!!!


i always complain about it when we move because it takes up so much space, but (not-so-) secretly, it's one of my favorite things ever.

as are these guys: skeleton lights from restoration hardware (from forever ago?), and little ceramic pumpkin and skull candle holders.


and rounding out the list of my absolute favorite things ever: the fiber optic pumkin/scarecrow duo from my momma.


halloween decorations make me so happy, dangit. it's always so depressing taking them down. then again, it will be about time to replace them with the christmas stuff. that i can deal with. the real depression will set in come january. ha.

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i used to draw.

10.12.2009

it's true. i used to draw. i didn't think i was ever really that good at it, but i did it anyway. i actually won an award in 6th grade: "Student of the Year in Art". i have a plaque to prove it!

i didn't enjoy drawing that much, so i kind of stopped sketching anything. then my senior year of college hit and i took Human Osteology. it was hands-down my favorite course ever. we were stuffed in a lab with real human bone samples from all over the world. we had to study every single bone and be able to identify the bone (and its laterality in many cases) from fragments using certain "landmarks". sometime the professor even threw in non-human bones to make sure we knew what was what. did you know that a bear humerus looks very similar to a human's? it's true. it was like a mystery and i loved solving it.

for the class we were required to sketch every bone we studied, and i took it seriously. i like these drawings, but i can't help thinking they would be so much cooler on the whole if i had better hand-writing.

we spent the most time studying the skull, since it is made up of so many bones (some say 22, some say 30 . . somewhere in there). these are the first 2 pages from my sketchbook:



and a sample of the rest:


if you want to see the rest, click!

p.s. i got an A+ on my sketchbook. heeeeee.

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a tale of 2 post-its.

10.08.2009

on tuesday i went to get a pedicure. i grabbed one of the magazines off the rack and sat down in the massage chair: it was Cosmo. now i'm not one of those girls who has periodical shameful pleasures . . i don't particularly like thumbing through these magazines. i just do it because it's something to do to avoid looking my pedicurist in the eye as she works away at my feet. i really could care less about this month's "50 great bedroom moves he'll never see coming" or how to make a guy "follow you everywhere".

so i was flipping through some such vapid article about new sex tricks or something, and smack-dab in the middle of the page is this neon green post-it that someone had written seemingly random words all over. i of course stuck it in my bag to pour over again later. see for yourselves:


weird, right? i mean, was this in answer to some Cosmo love quiz? was this an exercise assigned by this person's therapist to come up with a list of words to convey how she was feeling? WHAT IS IT?!?!?! platonic is first scratched out and then re-written as if it matters how it's spelled here? and what is that first word? "wuss"?? so weird.

in a post-it coincidence, this morning i arose at 9 am (which seems to be my "internal alarm clock" time as it's the time i've woken up every day this week), unloaded the dishwasher, filled a bowl full of cereal and almond milk, and got a glass of orange juice (no pulp). i sat down and opened my macbook for my morning read and found THIS post-it waiting for me inside!!!!


the message is much more clear on this one, wouldn't you say? 1 for 1 isn't bad. and it's on a cupcake post-it (courtesy of Kelly). it's already such a good day.

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adventures in baking . . sorta.

10.07.2009

it doesn't really have to be any time of year for me to want to bake something. i suppress the urge much more often than i give in to it. when my mom taught me how to make tollhouse cookies when i was 12, i literally baked them every. other. week. for like 2 years straight. i still know the recipe by heart. go on, quiz me.


and don't get me wrong, i'm not some gourmet baker who comes up with amazing recipes and always cooks from scratch. i'd like to say that i was, but i just don't have that kind of time. well, maybe now i do because i'm funemployed, but heretofore, being home only 3 days a week didn't warrant much time for leisurely/arduous baking.

for instance, a couple of weeks ago was jesse's 30th birthday. he wanted some glamorously halloween decorated red velvet cupcakes. but i only had 2 hours in which to accomplish the decorating. therefore he got rather plain, yet delicious red velvet cupcakes.

sans icing:

i have never seen cupcakes devoured so fast. it was great. i hate leftover baked goods.

and yesterday the weather was just perfect for baking pumpkin bread, so i fought through my sinus headache and busted it out.


the whole apartment smelled amazing. i sat on the chaise right by the open windows catching the slightly chilled air from the cloudy day while i took in that intoxicating aroma. seriously. oh and it tasted good too. jesse even did it up with some of the leftover cream cheese icing from the cupcakes. he's an innovator.

i can already feel myself ready for more baked goods. but i also don't want to weigh 300 lbs at the end of my funemployment, so i'm going to take it in baby steps. or at least half recipes.

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the sunset in the cit-ay.

10.06.2009

yesterday the weather was so fair. high of 74 degrees, and not a cloud in the sky. many times this calls for a boring sunset, but when it's kind of crisp, it can yield something quite beautiful. this is the view out of my living room window, towards the northwest.


*click for bigger*


ain't it grand? a nice end to Day 1 of Funemployment. onward.

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the thinking spot.

10.05.2009

i used to attribute all of my good thinking time to road trips, of which i used to take many. small, 2-3 hour road trips, but nonetheless, that is some solid thinking time.

this summer i had cause to do a lot of thinking. about Serious Life things, you know? i had no opportunity for road trips, but i was taking two flights every week. unfortunately, that didn't quite work because i was not a) alone or b) without distractions. too many goings on, people bumping the back of your seat, reclining their seat all up in your buiness, snoring, the god-awful smell of that blue water in the toilet, flight attendants butting in, their voices and the pilot's over the speakers invading my very soul and interrupting my "i'm watching Six Feet Under, now back off" time . . you get the idea.

out of necessity and by way of complete surprise, i found myself having some Serious Life epiphanies elsewhere - the shower. more than once! and i wasn't even trying! this discovery continues to stun me, even now. i don't know what it is about that small, wet, confined, echo-ey space, but for some reason the thoughts i throw out there just come a-bouncing right back at me, albeit new and improved.

i was discussing this earlier with my good friend (pal and confidante) Mr. Jason Mylett. we were, of course, being silly about the significance of the subject, but he said something almost poetic: "it's the underlying purpose of the room. sanitation, hygeine, cleanliness, etc. bathrooms are basically blank canvases. it's the room we go to to wash away dirt and shit and make ourselves anew." ahhhhhh, yes! i wish Mr. Jason Mylett would write a blog as i guarantee it would probably be my favorite read. but alas, he shuns all things that smack of internet social networking and self-importance. sigh.

anyway . . back to the topic . .

i know it isn't very "green" of me, but there were a few times when i stood/sat in the shower until the hot water ran out - always a disappointment on a few different levels. but the epiphanies were totally worth the weight of my carbon footprint, i assure you.


this little guy lives in my bathroom. i assume he invokes critical thinking.

so the next time you are between a rock and a hard place, or are offered a new job, or are thinking about moving to a new city, or maybe you just can't decide between the custom silk screen or the letter press invitations, just pop into your shower, get clean, and start thinking. you really can't lose.

you're welcome,
raena

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