Domestic Diva I am Not

Posted on Aug 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

Confession: My friend Kim and I once put ½ a cup of salt into a cake batter instead of ½ a teaspoon.  The batter never made it in the oven.  Later that night I broke my collarbone by running into a door, so I tend to think it was just an off night.

Yet time and time again, my baking skills prove inadequate.  Sure, I haven’t mistaken ½ a teaspoon for ½ a cup again (that is not a mistake you make twice), but I certainly have had my fair share of culinary disasters.  Let’s examine last night, shall we?

A childhood friend of mine, Sara Stewart, writes a very fun foodie blog: Nourish and Flourish.  Her latest post includes a picture of delectable looking chocolate-chip peanut butter cookies and a link to this recipe.  The PB&C combination is one of my all-time faves, and the web reviews of the cookies were so good, that I set out to bake my own batch.  For someone with the kitchen skills of a four year old, this was quite an ambitious undertaking.

Here’s the thing – the cookies are flourless.  Now I am 100% behind flour products.  But the picture just looked sooo good, why not give gluten-free a try?  Not to mention the recipe was insanely easy.  Only 3 ingredients!  (4 when you add chocolate chips).  How is it possible to screw up a recipe with 3 ingredients?  Well let me ask you this:  How is it possible to mistake ½ a teaspoon with ½ a cup?  It just is.  Especially when you’re me.

I mixed the ingredients together, popped the cookie sheet in the oven, and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  The cookies failed to cook.  At least in appearance.  Sure there was a slight burning smell wafting from the oven, but they were still mushy and looked NOTHING like the picture on Sara’s blog.  My mother kindly reminded me that a flourless cookie would not look like a regular cookie.  Touché.  But why did Sara’s look so fluffy and, well… edible?  I eventually removed the cookies from the oven and inserted the 2nd round.  Maybe this would go better.

No luck.  How is it possible that one cookie can turn out perfectly golden, but the cookie placed immediately next to in on the baking sheet is burnt to a crisp?  Apparently my baking is so bad it inexplicably defies the laws of nature.

As if maybe-maybe not overcooking the cookies wasn’t embarrassing enough, while transferring them to a cooling rack they either a) completely crumbled to bits or b) refused to budge from the baking sheet.

The below images showcase how the final version looks just plain wrong and the remains of the batch after I unsuccessfully tried to scrape them off the sheet.

Do these look cooked to you?

The pathetic remains of my baking experiment

My father wouldn’t even deign to taste these abominations I called cookies.  My mother shrugged her shoulders saying, “Eh.  They’re a little dry,” while fighting back tears of disappointment at her baking-challenged daughter.  My 23-year-old brother, a human vacuum cleaner, rated them a meager “Okay”.  It was a huge blow to my domestic ego.

So distraught was I over this pathetic outcome, I actually emailed Sara asking if the photo she had posted that had inspired this whole endeavor was a stock image or actually what her flourless peanut butter cookies looked like.

Her very prompt response went something like this: Yes, the picture was a stock image (Hooray! Maybe I’m not a total failure!) but was an image that very closely resembled her actual cookies, used only because her original photo did not turn out (I take it back, I am a total failure).  She then very sweetly encouraged me to try again.  Not likely.  However I highly recommend her chocolate peanut butter bars – no baking required! – that I have made and successfully not screwed up.  Those I will make again.

The upside to this complete baking blunder is that I, being pregnant, will eat almost anything, so at least they won’t go to waste.  In the meantime, if you have any flour-included recipes of just about anything you think I should try, please send them my way.  I desperately need to hone my domestic skills.

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How to Torture Your Husband: Part II

Posted on Aug 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

It’s finally here:  The conclusion to my baby-shopping saga. After two painful hours of shopping – no, not shopping, that is inaccurate – more like weight lifting car seats, the thought of more shopping seemed unbearable.  But we were on a mission.  We summoned what teensy bit of strength we still possessed and forged on.  Enter Pottery Barn Kids. Clouds part. Rays of light pour through.  A chorus of angels breaks into song.  This is what we I had been waiting for.  Bliss. I know a lot of people have beef with Pottery Barn and their franchises, like Phoebe from Friends. It is over-priced, massed-produced commercialism at its worst.  Blah, blah, blah.  Whatever.  I embrace that over-priced, mass-produced commercialism.  Takes all the guesswork out of home shopping.   Instead of obsessing for hours if my home décor will accent my furniture properly, I can just flip open a catalogue and all the guesswork is done!  Am I feeling Shabby-Chic? There’s a collection for that!  Urban-Sophisticate?  Another collection! How about Modern-Coastal? Yup! Another collection! The shop-by-room concept is simply brilliant. Pottery Barn Kids is just as glorious.  Because I had properly researched before entering the store, I knew what bedding I wanted.  This is what I chose: Penelope Bedding How adorable is that!  It’s cute with a touch of sophistication.  Because yes, my baby needs sophisticated bedding.  Wouldn’t want to get overly cutesy.  And this is what is so fantastic about PBK – I can match the bedding to the stroller blanket to the lamp to the wall decals to the valances.  What’s a valance?  I don’t know but I’ll take two!  All this perfect coordination sets my little OCD heart a-flutter. So there we were: Retail Heaven.  Damon didn’t stand a chance.  “Why is everything so… pink?” he asked.  I couldn’t be bothered to answer such a silly question, so instead I took him over to the bedding to discuss color options:  Pink/Chocolate or Pink/Green?  These are the decisions that keep me up at night.  I had initially decided upon and already registered for the pink/chocolate combination – I felt...

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Can I Get Your Digits?

Posted on Aug 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

I have a slew of wonderful girlfriends, all of whom I love dearly.  Yet they all share one major flaw: They live very far away from me. This wasn’t a problem until recently.  I’ve had plenty of opportunities and occasions to visit and connect with these ladies, and as an added perk I’ve gained a lot of Southwest points doing so.  However with my jet setting ways rapidly coming to an end, I was recently hit hard with the realization that I have no close friends where I actually live.  Damon and I moved to our current hometown eight months ago – what the heck have I been doing? Well, for one thing, I used to work from home.  While my dining room is very comfortable and cute, it is not the best place to meet people.  Combined with the fact that I’ve spent probably 85% of my weekends (not an exaggeration) out of town, I haven’t been Ms. Social Butterfly of Norfolk.  Sure, I chat with the other moms-to-be at my prenatal yoga class, but it’s very superficial.  Yes, I volunteer with a local Girls on the Run Chapter and absolutely adore the elementary school girls I help coach.  But they aren’t going to join me for post-pregnancy cocktails; at least not without me getting arrested.  I’ve even signed up for a church small group and a MOPS group, but those don’t start until mid-September. To avoid turning into a lonely old hag, disheveled and crazed with no friends to stop by and help out with the baby or more importantly, drop off home-cooked meals after I deliver, I needed to take action, STAT.  So here goes: The other night Damon and I are out to dinner.  He recognizes a woman who enters the restaurant as the wife of a fellow Naval Academy friend.  As we walk out, he stops by her table to say hi.  This is my chance.  We get to talking. I find out she has three little girls and loves to shop.  This could be something.  As we’re leaving, she hands me her phone. ...

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Apologies for the Earthquake

Posted on Aug 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

I have a confession: I caused the earthquake.  Actually, I think my unborn child did. In case the earthquake has rattled your brains to the point of memory loss, there is a hurricane heading toward the East Coast.  As a Southern Californian, I haven’t gotten all caught up in all the hurricane hoopla.  I mean, it’s just rain, right?  Apparently not.  Damon came home in the middle of the day and moved all our important stuff off the first floor of our condo, so I guess it’s kind of a big deal.  Irene is not even supposed to hit till the weekend, and we’re already relocating our furniture and buying non-perishables? So at about 1:50 today I left my condo to walk to my 2:00 pilates session.  As I stepped outside, I started thinking how East Coasters totally take their natural disasters for granted.  They have days to plan and prepare; yet they act as if the sky is falling.  What’s a little house flooding and electricity loss when you know it’s coming?  In California, we have earthquakes.  No warning for those babies, thankyouverymuch. I was berating East Coasters in my head for their inferior natural disasters when I walked into my pilates studio.  “DID YOU FEEL THAT?” my instructor shrieked.  “WE JUST HAD AN EARTHQUAKE”.  While reflecting on hypothetical earthquakes, I completely missed a real one. “I was literally just thinking about how we have to deal with earthquakes here!” I shrieked back.  Now that timing is just weird.  My instructor, Mary, glanced down at my stomach.  “What are you growing in there?” Suddenly it dawned on me: I am breeding a demon child with supernatural powers strong enough to cause earthquakes and national panic!  There is no other explanation for the freak timing.  I’ll make sure to have a discussion with her about this when she’s born. In the meantime, I apologize on her behalf.  It won’t happen again. Share...

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No Longer a Newlywed

Posted on Aug 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

As I mentioned in my last post, yesterday was my one-year wedding anniversary.  One year down, and we’ve already survived a true test to our marriage: sharing a bathroom.  Not just any bathroom.  An inconceivably small bathroom with no storage for my products and a door that didn’t shut all the way.  I place a lot of value on my privacy, and being forced to use a bathroom with a door that didn’t shut properly was mildly traumatizing. But we have since moved on to bigger and better – and separate – bathrooms, and with separate bathrooms comes marital bliss.  So how did we celebrate this momentous occasion?  Well, Damon had to work a bit on Sunday, so he determined we weren’t going to just celebrate our anniversary day, but our anniversary weekend.  Hey – go big or go home. Therefore on Saturday we spent eight hours in a childbirth and delivery class where the instructor told us that labor is going to hurt a lot, and then showed us incredibly graphic videos of childbirth.  It was so romantic. That evening we caught a Norfolk Tides game.  Damon loves baseball, and while I typically enjoying catching a game, this past season I have not been so inclined to sit in oppressive heat for hours on end, not drinking beer.  I have been much more inclined to sit on my couch in my air-conditioned living room eating ice cream.  But I had the feeling Damon had gotten me a better anniversary gift than I him, so I figured I better agree to the game just in case. Sunday morning, our actual anniversary, I woke up to a homemade breakfast in bed!  Just kidding.  I actually woke up to a text that read something along the lines of, “I got called into work this morning, but will be back in time for brunch”.  Because I am such an understanding and loving wife, I didn’t let this irk me. (Plus, I respect my husband’s work for this country and have accepted his schedule won’t always be convenient.  At least I accept it...

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Have My Cake and Eat It Too

Posted on Aug 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

Today is my one year anniversary.  Crazy!  I know it sounds cliché, but it really feels like yesterday I was having a nervous breakdown over floral arrangements.  But apparently it’s been a year – a crazy, wonderful, life-changing year.  Had you asked me on my wedding day if I thought a year from then I’d be almost seven months pregnant and preparing to uproot my life to Japan, I’d have said, “Well, yeah, that is a pretty realistic prediction”.  But then it actually happened and it’s completely incomprehensible to me. Anyway, I have a wonderful husband who somehow puts up with me, and you know how I would like to celebrate that fact?  By eating cake.  Specifically, my wedding cake.  Tradition dictates that the bride and groom freeze the top layer of the cake to share on their first anniversary.  I LOVED my cake.  It was unbelievably delicious – a dark chocolate and french buttercream cake with mocha toffee and tiramisu fillings.  None of that white cake with fruit filling crap for me.  Bring on the chocolate!  It was to die for.  I honestly think that the thing I was most looking forward to on my wedding day was the cake (besides the whole marriage thing, I suppose).  Besides being sinfully good, it was also beautiful – simple and elegant with a gorgeous sheen. FYI – it is 10 AM, I am waiting for my husband to go to brunch, and I am hungry.  Hence the obsessing over cake.  While I’m obsessing, here’s a picture: The picture doesn’t even do it justice.  All this is to say, I would kill for a piece of that cake today.  Except I can’t have any.  Why not?  Because my mother decided cake doesn’t freeze well and served it to our extended family while Damon and I were on our honeymoon.  Thanks, mom! So while today is a joyous day, it is also a day tinged with sadness.  Never again will I taste such divine goodness.  Unless, perhaps, I order another cake from the baker.  Which at this point I am seriously considering....

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