Monday, November 30, 2009

Care to help me with my guest books?

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We have 7 days to go and I'm starting a little project. I know, I'm shaking my head too. But sometimes an idea strikes you and you just have to go with it.

I bought these fantastic guest books on etsy. Actually, they aren't really guest books. They are vintage books that have been turned into journals. They would also make great personalized gifts!

This journal was found on FancyLamb. There are tons of journals as well as other vintage finds.

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Oh how I love books. I love vintage books. I love that these books were given new life. Upcycled. I saw these and I knew I needed to have them for the wedding. Or I needed to have them and the wedding seems a good excuse to buy them. I really wanted a guest book that we would reflect on often and this seemed to be perfect for us.

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Our guests will take pictures in the photo booth (black and white prints, of course) and they will receive 2 copies of the pictures. One for them and one to put in our guest book along with a little note.

But you see, I couldn't pick just one book, I somehow ended up with 3. I want to use them all. Actually I really ended up with 4 but the last one doesn't quite blend color wise. However, its called Essays of Our Day and I'm keeping it for something perfect.

Then I decided I would fill pages throughout the books with pictures from the engagement shoot and quotes!

This journal is from ReImagined which features both upcycled and handmade journals. I love the brown paper interior.

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This is where you come in. I need quotes, sayings, snippets, lyrics and such. Besides, I'd love to have pieces from you added into our books.

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They can be funny or serious. They can be about love, marriage, photos, family, memories, friends, winter or just about anything that would belong in our guest books.

This is from UsefulBooks and features hand marbled paper as well as paper from other vintage books included in the journal itself. I fell in love with the winter scenes.

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Here are a few we'll be including:
A good snapshot stops a moment from running away. ~Eudora Welty

When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible. ~Nora Ephron, When Harry Met Sally

Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam...
And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva...
So tweasure your wuv. ~The Princess Bride

and last but not least

"You know....

you are.....

the only one for me.....

right now."
~B circa 2005ish. My man has a way with words. We will not be writing our own vows.



So brainstorm and leave me a comment and I'll put it in our guest books! I'm thinking I'll just write them in colored pen unless you have a FAST & EASY idea to make it prettier.

Thanks!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kathleen you're a winner!

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Congratulations Kathleen! The winning number is 60 and you are it!

As usual I had a lot of fun doing this giveaway! There will be more freebies soon... like in a week or so.... as I am already behind in my shipping of things... because I'm a bit preoccupied.... my apologies...you'll receive your loot vewy, vewy soon. Kathleen, contact me so I can get your address!

Is there a trick to posting the Random Number Generator? If so, can you please tell me how.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

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I hope you had a lovely, lovely Thanksgiving!
It was a nice day of rest, of family, of delicious foods by the ton.

Someone please remind me why I chose to get married the weekend after Thanksgiving?

My laptop has decided to rebel against me. Its hard drive pushed to the max. Like grody to the max! What?

My sister Sherri is doing some damage control. I have plenty of posts planned and I'm anxious to get my baby back. You see, I can use any computer but my laptop has all my pictures. I just can't post without pictures. It makes me uncomfortable. It makes me squeamish. It makes me sad.

This weekend is like running a marathon without training. I have to complete 99% of my wedding to do list. We have family from Puerto Rico coming in Wednesday to stay with my mom. B's friends from Northern CA coming in Wednesday to stay with us. We need to complete our preparations so I won't be waking up in a the middle of the night and adding things to my excel spreadsheet.

You see? I'm totally rambling!

What I meant to say was I have so much to be thankful for and you are part of it! Thank you so much all you lovelies that visit!

Stayed tuned for more wedding details, more food and more fun.

Also, Friday is the last day for the GIVEAWAY!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm all grown up. I think. Almost. Not really.

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I had to do a quick wedding dress fitting at my parents house before we took it to the cleaners/tailors for some minor changes and a good deep clean. It should be ready by Wednesday. I like to live on the edge like that. I'll tell you more when I have the strength.

Of course, I didn't have my 4 inch blue suede heels with me, so I stole my moms shoes. Her feet are a just slightly larger than mine and I felt no need to take off my socks. Its a beautiful bridal look. I think socks and peep toes are going to be the next big thing. I run around in socks a lot.

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Apparently being 30 years old and about to be married does not make one too mature for wearing Easter socks. Easter socks in November. If you look closely you'll see that those are chocolate Easter bunnies with an ear bitten off.

I do love chocolate. I almost forgot... have you entered my giveaway?

10 days and counting......

Monday, November 23, 2009

Salted Butterscotch Shortbread Bars

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OK, I'm pretty sure these are my favorite. I know I say that all the time but I really mean it this time. This is a very old fashioned bar with a few adjustments (like the addition of salt) to perk it up a bit.

I tried to use it to bribe PW. All I want is to move into The Lodge. Is that too much to ask?

All I want is what I have coming to me. All I want is my fair share.

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Ingredients: 1 1/4 c flour, 3 tbs brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 c butter, 1/4 c butter,, 1/3 cup each of granulated sugar, brown sugar and light-color corn syrup, 1 tbs water, 1/4 tsp table salt, 1/2 c coarsely chopped cashews, 1/4 c whipping cream and 1 tsp vanilla. And about 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt.

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x9x2 inch pan or something kinda sorta like it with foil. I used a 7x11ish pan. Make sure the foil extends over the edges. Now butter that foil!

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Lets make the crust. Do not be intimidated by pastry cutters. If I can do this, you can do this.

In a medium bowl mix 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour with 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder.

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Now cut in 1/2 cup of butter with a pastry blender. I like to cut it into chunks to start with.

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Throw the chunks of butter (I like it cold) into the flour mixture and just press away. After a bit it will resemble course crumbs or sand.

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Keep going and when it starts to cling together its ready.

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Dump into the prepared pan and even out.

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Press the mixture with something flat. Like a measuring cup.

This goes into the oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

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Coarsely chop up some cashews. I use an overflowing 1/2 cup of chopped ones. I adore cashews.

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Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a heavy medium saucepan. When the butter is melted go ahead and add in the 1/3 cup each of granulated sugar, brown sugar and corn syrup as well as the 1 tablespoon water and the 1/4 teaspoon of table salt. Mix it up and add in the chopped cashews.

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Now don't go wandering away. Is there anything shiny by you? If so, please avert your eyes.

We need to bring this to a boil stirring constantly. Once its at a boil, continue stirring often for about 5 minutes. We don't want this practically boiling over or you'll end up with hard candy.

This bar is like me... it doesn't like to be ignored.

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We turned the heat down at this point.

Be careful with this stuff if you have kids running around. Boiling sugar is like lava.

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Take it off the heat and add the 1/4 cup of whipping cream and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

How can anything with vanilla and whipping cream be bad?

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You'll be drooling by the time you pull the crust from the oven. See those divets. Those are divets of love. They are the impressions the butter leaves as it melts. Much like the impressions it leaves on my thighs.

That is completely untrue. Everyone knows that treats made for other people don't count towards points or fat or calories or carbs or whatever. The same goes for treats received from someone else. Thats the glory of the cookie exchange.

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Pour the butterscoth sauce evenly over the baked crust. Put it back into the oven for another 12 minutes.

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It'll be bubbly so take it out with caution. If you have kids that won't stop running 'round the oven just tie them to something before you do this. You know, just for a moment.

Let it cool in the pan on a wire rack.

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Now we are going to salt it. It needs more salt. Trust me on this.

I used sea salt because of the nice big granuals it has. You could also use kosher salt.

As the bars cool keep an eye on them. We want the top tacky so the salt adheres but not so hot the salt melts.

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Just sprinkle the salt evenly over the top. You can ever so gently press it if it isn't sticking quite enough.

Do not use table salt as the granuals are too small and they will just melt right in.

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When the bars are completely cool just peel the foil off and cut into squares.

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Eat 5 and decide whether or not you want to sprinkle a bit more kosher salt on them. Eat another 2 and decide they are just perfect. Drink a glass of milk and put the plate away.

Casually pass by the kitchen twice more. Smell them. Stack them. Eat one more. Give the rest away immediately.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Breaking News: PW and Dandy become BFF

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Uh-huh. I met the one, the only, Pioneer Woman! Wooo hoo! Perhaps we aren't so much BFF as we are two people who just met for a minute. But its almost the same thing.

A few months ago I got my sister Sherri completely hooked on PW. We've been waiting anxiously for her to come to Southern California ever since we heard about her book tour.

When she finally posted the Torrance location I cancelled all plans. Which is totally understandable. Its not like I'm getting married the weekend after next.

Its not like I have 20 past due items highlighted on my knot checklist. Its not like I have baking to complete....random uncontrollable eyebrow hairs to pluck....menus to print....thank you notes to write.....paper bags to hyperventilate into.

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This is P-dub we are talking about. I don't think Borders knew what was coming. I tried to warn them. Most of the staff I spoke with didn't know who she was. I was nervous things would get crazy. But I was armed with a yellow wristband which meant we were in the first group for signing.

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When my good friend Ree first came in, my pictures were turning out like this. Why? Because I still have no idea how to use my camera, thats why. Its pathetic. The very sweet lady in front of me turned around and told me to up my ISO because she could hear my shutter was too slow and didn't want me to have blurry pictures.

How sweet is she?! But I just stared at her like a dear in headlights. "Um... I don't know how to adjust my ISO..." and I handed her the camera. Which is missing the eye piece by the way. I have no idea what happened to it. AND there is cookie dough on it. So embarassing.

Lucy (the sweetheart) adjusted the camera for me and I was able to take some decent pictures. She didn't even scold me for obvious camera abuse.

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The line in front of us looked like this. You probably wish I would stop rambling and tell you about Ree already...I'm sure you are really just dying to hear all about her!

I learned these very important facts:

1. PW is very long and lean and gorgeous and says its on account of The Spanx. OK, she doesn't actually speak like that. Unless they have some new facial mask sort of Spanx I'm going to say Ree is just naturally pretty.

2. The Farm is a 4 hour drive from The House. 4 hours?! Their land must be super gimongous.
2a. I really like The Capitalization today.

3. When asked what advice she can give new bloggers.... Exercise More! Seriously. This will defintely be the case as I cook my way thru her book. Who am I kidding. This will definitely be the case as B cooks his way thru her book.

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4. PW really does do a fantastic Ethel Merman impersonation.

5. There has been no cutting or snipping that will impede further procreation in pioneer land. Hey, I'm just the middle man here, I'm just telling it like it is, I'm just relaying the info.

and finally (drum roll please)

6. P-dub will be publishing Black Heels to Tractor Wheels! (insert spontaneous clapping here)

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Sitting with PW is Sandy. Sandy has 15 kids. She seems like such a sweet thing and I'm wondering if she has a blog. Do you know Sandy and her 15 kids? I think we have a lot in common and we may also become best friends... only by "a lot in common" I mean "polar opposites". I think Sandy could teach me a thing or two.

I want to hear more of her story, she brought pictures and she said that all her kids aren't "homegrown" which I thought was the cutest thing.

update: I have found Sandi here!

I'd also like to note how super stylish Ree is. Look at those boots!

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This is Lucy! Thank you Lucy for saving my pictures. I should have told you about my blog but I get nervous and I forget. Do you give private lessons?

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This is Sherri, my sister! No we did not get a picture of the three of us. But we did think of it afterwards. We are good at coming up with ideas when they are useless.

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This was my reaction when I ever so kindly asked Ree if I could move into the pantry at The Lodge.

I was completely denied. I was heartbroken. There she is laughing as my dreams shatter.

Or maybe I have no idea why I am making that face. I like to think its just one of those awkward shots of me as I am speaking. I look sick. I look weird. I pray my expression had changed by the time she looked up from writing.

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A few things about this picture. Ree looks very purty. I suddenly feel the urge to grow out my hair. I realize I need to expand my collection of accessories. That box in front is a present I brought to Ree containing Salted Butterscotch Shortbread Bars (recipe tomorrow here and on Tasty Kitchen). Next to Ree's elbow is something cute that the very sweet girl in front of me gave her and I'm dying to know what it is. I wish I had gotten her name, also she had a very sweet boyfriend who offered to get us all coffee while we waited in line. We declared him a keeper.

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Hee! B saw this from across the room and started laughing. He said all I'm missing is a thumbs up gesture. I'm so happy my face looks like it may explode.

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Don't you think for a minute that I wasn't thinking of you. Of course I was. Now I realize that some of you already have her cookbook.

But do you have an autographed one? So, because I love you, because I clap every time one of you leave me a comment, because I know you love PW, because I'm getting married in less than 2 weeks, because I fit into skin tight jeans and I can still breathe and because I want you to spontaneously clap as well.... I am giving away this PW signed cookbook!

To enter: Leave me a comment! If you are a follower leave me a separate comment! If you link to my blog from yours leave me a third comment!

Giveaway closes on Friday at 9:00 pm PST. Winner winner chicken dinner to be announced on Saturday morning which just so happens to be 1 week from my wedding day... just so you know.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chocolatey Chocolate and Mint Chip Cookies

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Do you like chocolate? Do you like cookies? Perfect, lets have a chat. These cookies are fantastic and wonderful and you will love them. If you aren't a fan of mint or have never even seen mint chips don't give up on me yet. I am going to give you a list of variations that will please any chocolate lover.

I adapted this recipe from Nigella Lawson who adapted it from Elinor Klivans and lets face it, you'll probably adapt mine as well. Isn't that the way cookie making works?

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Ingredients: 4 oz of semisweet choclate, 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (sifted), 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup softened butter, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (what do you mean you can't see it in the picture?), 1 egg (cold from the fridge), 2 cups of chips... I used Dark Chocolate and Mint chips.

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Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Melt the 4 oz of chocolate. I used chips and melted it in the microwave. Start with 30 seconds and then increments of 15 seconds stirring in between.

A word about measurements. 4 oz is NOT 1/2 a cup when it comes to weight, not volume.

4 oz works out to approx 2/3 cup of semisweet chocolate.

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Measure 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a small bowl and mix. Mix gently otherwise you'll find yourself in a cloud of cocoa powder.

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Cream together 1/2 cup softened butter, 1/2 cup of light brown sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar.

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Fun Fact (for a heart attack): Last year my mom and I went thru 16 pounds of butter in our holiday preparations.

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First add in the melted chocolate and mix well. Then add in the vanilla extract and cold egg.

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Then mix in all the dry ingredients. It will be a sticky batter.

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Now add in your chips. But we have much to discuss in this area.

What you need are 2 cups of chips. The original recipe calls for semisweet. I found the bag of dark chocolate and mint and had to try it. You can also do dark chocolate, white chocolate or a mixture of several.

Another good option is to throw in say peanut butter or butterscotch BUT I consider those to be the sweetest of the chips so try doing part semisweet and part peanut butter chips.

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Mix in your chips, the dough will coat them all and you won't really see the colors but don't worry about it.

One more thing about chips. A standard bag of chips is 12 oz or 2 cups. However, the specialty bags of chips are 10 ounces! So fill a measuring cup with what you have and top it off with semisweet.

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I used a cookie scoop that was about a heaping tablespoon and this was perfect. Otherwise you two spoons or any scoop like device. I got 25 cookies out of the recipe.

Place them on a lined cookie sheet (parchment or foil both work) about 2 1/2 inches apart and do not flatten as they will drop and spread.

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Cook them for about 17 minutes. You can test them with a toothpick to make sure it comes out semi-clean without a lot of batter but I find that I keep piercing chips. Allow them to cool on the sheet for 4 minutes or so and then transfer them to racks. They will harden as the cool.

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Nigella suggested making huge cookies using a ice cream scoop thats about 1/4 cup measurement. She scoops out all the dough and freezes half on the cookie sheet. When its frozen she picks up the mounds of dough and puts them in a bag in the freezer.

The big cookies are an awesome option, especially if you want to serve this as a dessert. If you are having people for dinner just pop these in the oven, giving your guests some time to relax and smell those baking cookies.

Then when you take them out of the oven don't wait for them to cool. Use a wide spatula and transfer them to a bowl, then top with vanilla bean ice cream.

If you happen to have the right dishes you could cook these individually pizookie-style.

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I really like these warm as the chocolate chips are all melty. In fact I may have, at one point heated up a few for breakfast. Maybe.

Enjoy!
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