Monday, January 31, 2011

Just the tip- just to see how it feels.

Yes, this is a story about a tease.
After all the complaining I have been doing about finding a house that is even CLOSE to something we could call home, we found one.

It needs some major revamping, but the bones, property and neighborhood are everything we want. We made an offer on Thursday on our way out of town to go skiing in Idaho.
We got a phone call from the realtor Friday telling us the seller countered back.
We didn't care for her offer back... and decided to move on..there will be more houses to choose from we told ourselves.
 I continued on with my ski trip, convinced this must not be the house for us.
We got home last night and our realtor called us.
The seller made another counter offer back to us... even though we never countered her first counter offer. Confusing, i know.
Basically we played hard to get and it worked.
But, by this point we had talked ourselves out of this home and decided we should keep looking.

So, back to the drawing board. I'm more stressed and confused than I was before... and disappointed that I found something I loved and then had to say goodbye.

Mentally, I hard already packed and moved into this place.

I redid the floors and replaced the shag carpet.
 ( that is still in excellent shape BTW! They built stuff to last back in the day)
And added a mantel to the brick fireplace

I tore down the wood paneling and painted the walls
I put together our new king size bed in the master

and fit our dinning room table that seats 12 into the formal space.

It all fit... in my mind.
It all worked out perfectly in my mind.

Sometimes it is so much easier to live in my head than real life.
 Real life can be so discouraging
Steve said we could live in a cardboard box and be happy as long as we have each other, which is true.
I know we have a lot more than so many people in this world.
I feel guilty being this sad over not getting a house that we were maybe kinda going to get.
Thank god we have families and jobs and clothes on our backs ....and a cat.
I really can't complain I guess. But, I do.
"Every party needs a pooper, that's why we invited you! Party pooper. Party Pooper."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Our house. In the middle of the street.

This week has been overwhelming.
 I have been preparing for our ski trip this weekend in Idaho as well as going out and looking at potential properties to move into.
Everyone says shopping for a house should be fun.

“That’s the fun part” I hear repeatedly.
I have yet to come to the fun part.

I feel like we are running around looking at places that are a waste of our time. At the moment there isn’t an incredible amount of listing in the area and price range we are looking in.

Plus the fact that it’s winter and people tend to sell in spring and summertime.
Tomorrow we are looking at a few more places before we head out of town.

For the first time I am feeling a little anxious about looking. In my opinion, tomorrow’s group of houses has the most potential so far.
At the same time, I don’t want to kid myself. The photos, we have found, are deceiving. Everything online looks amazing… in real life, it is a different story.

In between this all, I need to grocery shop, make cheesecake, pack our things and get myself out the door in time for work.

I need a vacation.
Here are tomorrow's picks.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Why does it smell like dead bodies in here?

We have a second freezer in our garage.
It stores extra groceries but mainly game and meat Steve brings home from hunting.
It plugs into an outlet near the door inside the garage.

This outlet had an extension cord plugged into it during Christmas so that we could run our Christmas lights from it.
Steve took down the lights a few weeks ago.
I went in the garage the next day and saw the extension cord still plugged into the wall .
I yanked it out assuming it had been forgotten about when the lights were taken down.

Saturday I come home from my tattoo appointment and as soon as I walk in the front door I can smell something weird. I mention it to Steve when I get up stairs. He doesn't smell it; I clean the litter box and take out the trash. Then we go to dinner. When we get home, Steve agrees there is a smell in the house, but we can not locate it. We end up blaming it on Bentley and figured she pooped behind the couch or something.
Sunday we get ready to leave to go house shopping but first we need to unload some stuff out of the truck into the garage. Upon opening the garage...the smell is strong... I look around and there is a stream blood on the floor... coming from under the freezer.

We found the culprit.
Steve and I both look over at the outlet, where nothing is plugged in.
Steve says to me,” So , when did you unplug that?" To which I respond, "oh about 2 1/2 weeks ago."
Little did I know, in Steve's finagling of lights and cords, he had plugged the freezer into the other end of the extension cord.
The remainder of our Sunday evening is spent bagging rotten meat and sopping up the smelliest bloody liquid you can imagine. The garage door was open and I was a driveway 2 cars away and I could still smell it wafting out to the street.

I can't imagine what our neighbors must think; they had to have smelled it too.
It was strong enough that we had to gulp fresh air and quickly work while holding our breath before stepping away and taking a minute to break in between.
I felt like we needed respirator masks to carry out our clean up like we entered a Meth Lab or something.

To my knowledge , I have never smelled a real dead body. I estimate this scent was fairly close to it though.
Scrubbing the hardened blood off the cement floor with my latex gloves on made me feel like a real CSI agent .
 That part was kind of cool. The rest really sucked.
Not to mention all the wasted food! Sorry Steve.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Auction

Thursday night was the Chocolate for Choice Auction.
 There was a great turn out and a lot of delicious treats!
Patty Murray showed up and spoke and my blog even got publicly mentioned!
( Not by Patty, although, that would have been pretty cool. * "Yeah... Ol' Pats reads my blog..I'm kind of a big deal" That's what I would call her, Pats.*

Anyway, back to reality.

An interesting dude that I had met at this benefit a few years ago was set up next to my table so I got to hang out with him through the evening.
 His name is Steve Whippo.
The year before last, he did a great chocolate display of hands.
It was completely 3 dimensional and awesome.
This year he did a solid chocolate replica of a Picasso painting.
Which was neat since I has just seen the real thing in person a few weeks ago at the Picasso exhibit in Seattle!

I didn’t win the tasting award as I had hoped. Although my auction cake brought in a nice donation from a Seattle Counsel member.  
This cake is always such a hit, I really thought I had a good chance.
 I also got a chance to talk with the owner of Cupcake Royal. 
She was a real doll. All in all, the night was a success and I am ready for the weekend.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Could Gluten-Free set me Free?!

I haven’t disclosed any real info on my diet yet via blog and I still plan to do so.
Until that fine day of writing occurs I wanted to share some of the new foods I have been adding to my diet. In my research during dieting, I learned that calories and fat really aren’t the devil for me.
It’s carbs and strange genetically modified ingredients that my body doesn’t recognize that are.

I have been making an effort to eat more organic foods and cutting out processed and genetically altered products from my diet.
I am feeling a lot better and haven’t gained any weight back since my 17 lb loss.

In the past my “diet” consisted of 100 calorie snack packs, pudding cups, skim milk, non fat dairy products and low fat frozen dinners. While focusing only on the amount of fat and calories in everything, I wasn’t paying any attention to the ingredients in anything. Or for that matter, my own body and how it was unable to process certain foods, thus causing weight gain and energy loss.

I switched to 2 % milk, use all regular fat dairy products, but make sure they are organic or natural, no processed cheese products and switched to Greek yogurt. I changed my bread, cereal and crackers, not choosing them by the carb. or calorie content but by ingredients and whole grains.
I started using gluten free rice pasta in place of regular noodles and make gluten free pancakes or scrambled eggs for breakfast on the weekends.

I figured I am not going to eat perfectly clean everyday all of the time.
Although if I try to do so when I am at home or at work, then when I do happen to go out to a restaurant where there are less healthy options, it’s okay to splurge.
I found a good rule of thumb is that "if you are going to eat naughty, make it yourself."
 You want French fries? Fine but you can’t get them at Burger King. Make them at home.
You want cookies? Fine, but you can’t get store bought. Make them from scratch.
Living by this rule, allows you to eat “naughty” foods in a healthier way.

For example homemade foods have less preservatives, additives, fats and sugars than something you might get from a restaurant.
Plus, you are going to eat a lot less of these things if you have to make them yourself.
How convenient is it to make your own French fries?!

Last night I wanted to try out a new package of Gluten-free bread mix I bought.
 I used it to make pizza dough. It was great!
 Mind you, it wasn’t going to fool anybody into thinking it was gourmet style from a restaurant pizzeria… but for gluten free, it was damn good.

Here is the recap

The bread mix
( Super easy btw. It comes with its own yeast packet. Add water and Olive oil, mix and rest 1 hr. Done!)

Salad and pizza toppings ready to go
(Peppers, Tomatoes, Avocado, Goat Cheese, Apples)

Almost done

Tah-Dah! The Spread

Some other delicious snacks I picked up!
I am normally not a huge fan of Kashi products as far as taste, but these cookies are great.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Maybe we aren't all Pro-Choice but we can all be Pro-Cake!

Tomorrow I am participating in an auction for NARAL Pro-Choice.

If you aren’t familiar with them, here is their “About me”;
NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is the leading grassroots pro-choice advocacy organization in Washington state, and we believe that every woman should be able to make personal decisions about the full range of reproductive health options. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington works to protect every woman’s right to access the full range of reproductive health options, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is the state affiliate of NARAL Pro-Choice America.”

I have a few close friends who are involved with the organization and on the members board.
 I have been asked for the 3rd year in a row to donate my services and be part of the auction.
I was unable to do it last year but the year before
I had a lot of fun and my cake brought in a couple hundred dollars!

Here is the Bollywood Cake I created

Rockin' the hawk

This year I am doing samples as well as a show cake to be judged and auctioned off.
It is a bit intimidating being side by side with many local bakeries and chocolatiers.
Although, I have ample training and experience, let’s face it, I am no Cake Boss!

This year I am making an amazing White Chocolate Coconut Cake.
I have done this cake a few times before and everyone loves it. Except Steve, who hates coconut.
I also chose this cake because I didn’t want to do a cake covered in Rolled Fondant.

Fondant allows you to create some pretty awesome things, but taste wise, people tend to dislike it so I felt like it might not do as well on auction.

The cake is 3 tiers stacked. I decided to go with a Woodland Theme.
I really wanted to be able to display it on my neat log cake stands that Steve built me.
It will have some little kitschy deer, trees, elves and marzipan mushrooms on it.
Hopefully it will raise some money for a great cause!

The auction is tomorrow at Safeco Field.
 If you are interested in attending, the info is here

Come on by and eat all the chocolate your heart desires!
It’s basically like a wine tasting but with sweets and an auction!

Not too shabby, huh!?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Finding a place for Grace.

At the moment Steve and I aren’t sure where we are going to end up in the next couple months.
 Thus making it rather difficult to make any decisions as to where we need to move.

We are waiting for Steve’s job to tell us where they plan to send us for his next project.
It could be local or it could be out of state. It could be next month or it could be next fall.
We know that we have to be out of our current house by the end of April.
That is when our landlord is getting officially foreclosed and we get the boot.
(Till then we get to live rent free!)
By April we should know what the deal is with Steve’s job too.
If it turns out to be local, we want to buy a house.
So I have been spending a lot of time looking and looking and looking.
It’s really just a big tease because I find something I love but have no idea if we will even be around to attempt to buy it.
 Still, it gives me something to look forward too …. Kinda.

With the way the market is, we can really get some bang for our buck.
I am in love with Craftsmen Bungalows… so that is what I have focused on.

Steve likes them too, but doesn’t have the same emotional attachment I have to them.
He sees the age, wear and potential money suckers they could be.
 But, I don’t care! “Look at the built in shelving and the cute heater vents!!”

Here are some details of places I have been eyeing

Doesn't the aqua room look like a magical dream!? Ahhhhh.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Red Velvet & That Little Boy's Smile

Oh red velvet you are the envy of all my friends.
I still haven't given into the dark side though.
Yes, you taste good and look pretty on a plate but why all the rave?!
Most people don't even know what is even in RV cake!
 Can YOU tell me?
Yeah, that's what I thought.

What makes it red? Do you know?!
If someone who has never had Red Velvet asked you what flavor it is, what would you tell them?

Here is the cold hard truth.
Its chocolate.
 It's chocolate freaking cake... not even GOOD chocolate. It's milk chocolate.
Compared to an actual chocolate cake, it doesn't stand a chance.
 If you ate RV without the red coloring in it, you would say, " Wow, this is a bland chocolate cake!"
I would laugh in your face and tell you it is actually red velvet without the red. 

So there you have it.
But why oh why does everyone and their mother LOVE red velvet?!
All summer long I get orders for this silly cake.
People proclaim it their all time favorite cupcake.
 I will tell you why. It is the cream cheese frosting.
What is Red Velvet always iced with? CREAM CHEESE and its Amazing.

Anything iced with creamcheese is good.

 " Riddle me this Gracie, why don't people LOVE Carrot cake then?"
Well, I'm here to tell you that next to Red Velvet, Carrot cake is my next most popular order.
However, I think carrot cake is something you either love or hate.
 Red Velvet everyone loves because it is so mild & neutral.
You can close your eyes and pretty much pretend it is any flavor your heart desires.

Anyway, as a baker with a refined pallet, I turn my nose up at the RV rage.
Will I eat a slice? Hell yeah I will.
I will eat the shit out of it!
In my opinion though, I think it has gotten completely played out.
 I'm ready  for people to fall in love with something worth falling in love with now.

This 2011, let's all expand our pallets and try something new.
The time has come for flavor explosions in your mouth. Let your taste buds revel in a new symphony of flavors like never before. Can ya do that for me? Thanks.

PS: The History of the Red:

 James Beard's 1972 reference American Cooker describes three red velvet cakes varying in the amounts of shortening and butter. All use red food coloring, but the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to better reveal the red  in the cocoa. Before more alkaline "Dutch Processed" cocoa was widely available, the red color would have been more pronounced. This natural tinting may have been the source for the name "Red Velvet" as well as "Devil's Food" and similar names for chocolate cakes.While foods were rationed during World War II, bakers used boiled beets to enhance the color of their cakes. Boiled grated beets or beet baby food are found in some red velvet cake recipes, where they also serve to retain moisture.

Yes, beet cake. You're in love with beet cake.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hittin' the slopes in style.... or maybe just face first.

Over the last week, I have spent entirely too much on snow gear.
 When Steve and I were invited to rent a house with some friends at Schweitzer mountain we just looked at the price of lodging and travel and said " Yes, we can afford that."
Later on  it occurred to us that aside from my snowboarding coat.... we didn't have anything else we needed!

Obviously my biggest concern is clothing and looking fashionable on the slopes, because let's face it, I don't have a lot going for me besides that.

So, let the shopping begin.
 I bought a pair of Foursquare snowboarding pants for myself. They are boot cut, so they are a little more fitted that regular snow pants but not tight at all. I have plenty of room to move around and wear my Wunder Under Pants!
They are  insulated but I am usually cold, so I figured I would need a base layer.

Here is my jacket. Its Bonfire.
I love it.
 I have infinite pockets and storage in it. When I wear it, I always find something new!

My new Dakine gloves
 ( wish they were white)

We bought Steve these Boarding Pants.
They are Sims brand, which is Sports Authority's personal brand I guess.
They are insulated and waterproof. Should be good to go.

We also got this Columbia Snowboard jacket for him & new boots too!

I am planning on renting all my equipment, since I have only skied once in my life... I don't see the point in buying them.
I won't know the difference between rental trash and decent stuff anyway.

This will be me

As far as lodging goes, were unable to secure the FREAKIN Mansion , we had originally planned for.
 Due to friends who can't seem to make commitments.
Those people, may or may not show up.
In which case they will crash on the floor.
So we ended up booking a smaller abode, but it should be sufficient.

Besides what I will be wearing, my other top concern is food.... for obvious reasons.
 I don't have my full menu planned as of yet but I know I am making muffins for breakfast one morning.

On the muffin menu:
Almond Cherry
Maple Bacon
Coconut Raspberry

Yes, muffins are just ugly cupcakes.... but I love them too.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Dancing with Anteaters & Babies in a Jar

This weekend seemed to go on forever.

Not that I wanted to come back to work today, but I felt like I was really treading water these last few days.

Here is a reverse recap.

Last night I got out of the shower and Steve had already gone to bed and turned off all the lights. I walked head first into the partially open bedroom door.

I was in a bad mood all day, Steve and I bought snowboarding gear for our upcoming ski trip. We took our Christmas tree to a Boy Scouts recycling stand in the QFC Parking lot. They advertised that they take donations, which was fine; we planned on giving them money anyway. Although, I felt like changing my mind about that when 2 boys with money cans hovered around my car window as Steve unloaded the tree. Isn’t the point of a donation that I have a choice to give you money?! If you are going to hound me… why don’t you just charge a fee!

We went to see Black Swan with Steve’s brother and his Girlfriend.

It was strange.

I was prepared for that after reading reviews from friends.
 I really hated Requiem for a Dream and it was by the same director.

I can basically sum it up to Fight Club meets Ballet. It’s creepy and twisted and dark. I felt it was very realistic as far as what it’s like to be a dancer though. I did competitive dance and ballet for about 13 years of my life. Though I was far from professional, I grew up in that world a little bit so it was fun to see.

PS: Mila Kunis is hot.

I made some bacon for breakfast and I thought it may have gone bad, but I didn’t want to waste it.
 Pretty sure it was bad, since I felt like puking all day.
The Theater we went to was right by an outlet mall that has a Lululemon Athletica store.
 I love their clothes, but they are on the pricey side for workout attire in my opinion.
Mostly, because I don’t workout much.
I wanted a pair of Wunder Under Pants though.
I am going to wear them as my base layer when we go skiing. I found a pair for about $30.00 less than they normally are in the store. Still expensive, but better than nothing. They are SO comfy! I will probably not wear them in public….. ever! Since they are basically leggings, but they will keep me warm “under” everything. Which is much needed with Seattle’s current weather!

This weekend it was 22 degrees on New Year's Eve!

For new years Steve and I went to dinner in Belltown. I was planning all week on going to Wasabi Bistro. I love that place and their Sushi.
Unfortunately, they are closed for Remolding.
 So, per advice from a coworker we made reservations at Ventana.

It was delicious! They had a special menu for New Year's Eve and it was 3 courses with champagne for $50.00 a person. Steve had Fettuccine Alfredo, it could have used a little more sauce. It also had a poached "hen's egg" onto. Nice touch. We decided it was rather silly that it was called a "Hen's" egg though, because all female birds are technically “hens” and male birds, don’t lay eggs.

I had fried chicken and waffles. Yeah…. I know what you are thinking..." Aren't you on a diet?!" Yes... but this is the first time in more than a month that I kinda didn't care. I ate it all and it was Fabulous! The crispy seasoned chicken and cheddar waffles were served on top of whipped potatoes and sauced with maple brown butter glaze and toasted walnuts. Perfect combo of savory and sweet. I know I will crave this later in life.

Then we finished off the meal with red velvet cake
( I have a strong opinion about this cake and I will voice it in another post)

 And s ‘more brownie something a rather.
We left the restaurant $270.00 poorer (drinks add up don't they!?) then headed to a friend's condo to play games, hang out, drink and watch the fireworks on the Space Needle.

Group Photo

Fast forward to Pajama dancing with an anteater, planning a trip to Hawaii, guessing how many babies we could fit in a jar & me driving home at 3 am with Steve puking out the window.

Next morning, slightly hung over and having accomplished none of the things I planned for the weekend, I went antiquing in Snohomish with my parents.

I bought a deep dish Pyrex Pie dish to add to my collection and a few vintage bottles to use for a craft I have in mind.

Now it is back to the grind. 
 I also realized I forgot to make a new year's resolution ...but I'm kinda over it now.
Did you make one?