It’s not Monday, it’s not Mocha, but please accept this offering anyway

Happy December, yinz 🙂  It has been uncharacteristically warm this week here in the Burgh.  A week and a half ago, I went paintballing in 30 degree weather. This week I went to work without a jacket. Make up your mind, PA!

Despite Mother Nature’s mood swings, it’s getting very Christmassy in this apartment. Our Christmas tree has survived scrutiny and several taste testings from our kitten, Rocco (and indifference from our cat, Bob). We’re accumulating a pile of gifts for friends and family under its enthusiastically decorated artificial boughs, and we’re attending two office Christmas parties this week.

I’ve got several projects and recipes in the works that I will be sharing soon, but in the meantime there is one more part of the Christmas season you can indulge in: Hobbit Week with Stephen Colbert!




About a month and a half ago, I attended a pumpkin cooking event at Woodville Plantation. We made pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread pudding, roasted pumpkin stuffed with apples and spicy sausage,

and these:

Pumpkin fritters.

Even if you have your Thanksgiving Day menu set already, make room for these!  They’ll make a great appetizer, side dish or dessert.

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Everything old is now in my apartment

This weekend, Nick and I went on a trip to Ohio to go antiquing (because we’re 80 years old). Over Saturday and Sunday we walked through two giant antique malls. If you’re thinking “just two stores? In two whole days?” don’t judge: these places are huge. So huge that they have little delis inside so you can eat and then keep shopping for a few more hours. Heart of Ohio Antique Center, the mall we went to on Sunday, was so expansive (116,000 square feet!) and confusingly laid out that any time Nick wasn’t right beside me, I was lost. If I had to go back out to the car at any point, he had to walk me to the front door.

Most of the time antiquing is like being in a museum, seeing things from way back when that are too delicate or expensive to touch, but amazing to see nonetheless. Nick and I do have a few things that we collect, and we both hit the jackpot on this trip.

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Doing my best to avoid ‘vest’ puns

In our office closet, there’s an ever-growing pile of clothing rejected from my wardrobe. Items that don’t quite fit right. That are a little worn out or damaged. That probably should not have been purchased in the first place.

But see, I have a sewing machine. And I take something old out of my closet, or buy something ill-fitting on sale and think, “I can fix it. I can save it.”

This is one of the rare moments when I actually followed through on that.

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A Bushel and a Peck

Apples are my favorite. I loved when either of my parents would peel and slice up an apple for me when I was little. Dad would sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on it. Mom and I would watch closely while she peeled the apple, to see if there was any pink or red beneath the skin.

I stopped eating sliced apples as much when I was old enough to do it myself because, well, I don’t always like to put in twice the amount of prep time for something as it will take me to eat it.  Especially just for a snack. With that in mind, there’s no reasonable explanation for why, this weekend, I decided not only to cut and peel multiple apples, but to cook them on the stove for our own homemade applesauce. But I did. And it was worth it.

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Can I just say, I love October

Hey yinz! I hope you’re enjoying October. We’ve seen some really beautiful trees already. It’s been a busy month, too!  Nick and I got to celebrate the wedding of two wonderful people. The next day I made it to homecoming to catch up with the college crowd.  I’m still tired from the weekend. Soooo I haven’t done much craft or cooking/baking-wise, but I did want to share pictures from last week’s cake decorating class.

We learned how to make drop flowers, leaves, and basket weave.  My hand was ready to fall off by the end of class, but I’m sure I’ll get better at these icing techniques with some practice.  Disclaimer: the flowers were a very vibrant pink in the lighting at class. When I brought the cake home, in the yellowish light we have in our kitchen (ick), they looked almost gray.

October is my favorite. I went on a mad pumpkin-cooking spree early last week (the cake below is a pumpkin cake with cream cheese filling).  I’ll tell you more about that soon, and I plan to share a recipe for pumpkin fritters, and perhaps one for a roasted pumpkin! 


Croque and Roll


One of my current favorite recipes comes from our friend Sara at By the (Cook) Book.  In one of her Foodtography Friday posts, she gave a quick recipe for pizza rolls.  They are so good and so simple. I’ve made them for dinner and as an appetizer for parties.

One of the greatest things about the recipe, though, is how adaptable it is. Why limit yourself to pepperoni and mozzarella? That’s how I decided on a roll-up version of the French sandwich, the croque monsieur, which roughly means “crunchy sir” or “crunchy gentleman”. It’s a fancy way of saying “grilled ham and cheese sandwich.” And it is oh so yummy.

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If You’re Happy and You Know It

In an effort to live creatively but not chaotically, I recently signed up for a cake decorating class at a local school! I love baking cakes, but their presentation never quite does them justice. I’ve tried using books and online tutorials to learn how to decorate cakes, but it makes such a difference to have someone who knows what they’re doing help you out.

Last week we learned how to level, fill and ice the cake, and how to smooth the icing out (I struggle with this). We also practiced with star tips and round tips to fill in pictures on cakes. This week, we worked on a shell border, reverse shell border and rope border. Then we learned how to use piping gel to transfer an outline to a cake to be decorated. Next week: basket weave!

If there’s an activity or craft you’re interested in learning, or you just want to see if maybe it’s something you’d like to pursue, see if your county or local churches offer any public classes for it. The community colleges here offer short courses on everything from cake decorating to grant writing to basic auto repair.

Because I am irreverent and insensitive to the plight of the T-Rex, here is my first decorated cake!



Grab a Cheap Seat and Settle In

I think I just one of my own DIY wedding projects left to post, and better late than never, right? Of course right.

I already showed you my invitations and head table sign. My last big DIY contribution for the wedding (well, the last one I have any photos of to share a how-to with you) was the display for our place cards.

The initial inspiration for this project came from two simple thoughts: “I have vintage suitcases!”, and “I want people to see these vintage suitcases!”

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