Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Vanilla Almond Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

So I don't bake much, and I blog about what I bake even less because most of the time, let's face it, the results aren't blog-worthy.

(You know where this is going.)

Last Friday, Henry and I made some seriously tasty cupcakes that the world needs to know about: Vanilla Almond Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. That's a delicious mouthful, no?

The recipe came from the site Ming Makes Cupcakes, which is now named "Cupcake HEAVEN" in my bookmarks list. You really have to follow that link to see what I'm talking about. Henry's already asking which one we're going to make next, and he's not even the cupcake fan in this household.

I was mostly impressed with the cake portion of this cupcake. Cream cheese frosting, though yummy, is not that exciting to me, but this vanilla almond cake was perfection. Worth every penny for that expensive almond meal.

So go, check out Ming's cupcakes, and let me know if you make any. It will be hard to choose which one to try next!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Infinite Hope

I haven't had the greatest day. I have a cold or a bad case of allergies or something that has me feeling less than my best, and my emotions have run the gamut today. Earlier, like much earlier in my first few hours of this day, I thought about writing. It was a time before the emotions that accompany sick, tired, and hungry crept in, and I was thinking about hope.  I read a talk on faith by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and it reminded me, I felt it, but then I forgot. Remember, tired and hungry crept in. Nothing good comes of tired and hungry for me.

Then tonight, as I was preparing for tomorrow (hopefully I'll return to work), I opened up my OhLife email. It read:
Oh snap, remember this? One month ago you wrote...

I had the best day today. I had the privilege of going to Time Out for Women in Plano with my mom and Denise last night and all day today. The messages were so inspiring. The theme was "infinite hope." I felt uplifted. It seemed like the underlying theme was that we each are doing well. We need to focus on our strengths to find happiness. Our Heavenly Father accepts our offerings even if they are not our "best." We are saved by grace after all WE (Jesus Christ + us) can do. That means the Savior does not make up the difference for us, but He makes ALL the difference. The last speaker talked about that. He gave a great analogy of a mother paying someone to teach her child piano and then in turn requiring her child to practice the piano. She doesn't ask the child to practice because it will pay the teacher or restore the money that was given to the teacher; she asks her to practice so that she will learn how to play the piano. He extended that to the Atonement. Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want us to be transformed to become like them; the commandments they have given us are for us to become like them. It's not about repaying a debt because we can never measure up to that. It's about the change, so that when we return to our Heavenly Home, we will be comfortable there in the presence of God. That gave me such great comfort to think about those truths.
Of all the short little snippets I've written to OhLife, it was that one that showed up, the one that I needed tonight. It was the perfect reminder that even when the things I hope for are uncertain, the things that I hope in are not.

Tall Grass, Growing

By Miriam W. Wright

I see the tall grass swaying in the breeze,
The slender stems supporting nature’s store of life,
Not useless stalks nor tares but headed grass
Which stands so firmly rooted in the soil.

A day comes to my mind (now of the past)

We stood together. You had faith and stood so tall
And I was doubting. “Weeds,” I said, “Just weeds.
Or like this place,” I scruffed the earth, “Just dirt.”

“Our home” you answered. “There will be tall grass,

And we can build together. We can plant the seeds.
The Universe is His and He gives life,
And we can truly give a servant’s care.”

I looked at you, “To work, and work and fail.”

Your hand made motion up, “Then plan and work again.
See the warm sun” (Your tones so promising).
Then reaching down, I pulled a clump of weeds.

You smiled, “Already you have marked

A place to start. Right here can be our cornerstone.”
You placed a smooth-shaped rock, as if ‘homebase,’
To outline substance that was yet to be.
I looked into your eyes. “Perhaps, some day,”
But I could see no home …

And now, I stand and see—

No time from then ‘till now, but there was time
For storms, for drought, for strength-consuming hours.
The plans and efforts seemed so giant-high,
Yet now, so vapor thin that they are far out-shown
By window lights of home, and well-worn paths,
The firm clasp of your hand, your smile, your love.

The harvest-ready field,

I see it now.

You saw this field, the day you spoke those words:

“Tall grass-growing.”

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Halloween Costumes 2010

We actually had not one, but two Halloween costumes this year. We weren't being overzealous in our celebration of Halloween; it's just that our *real* costume only worked with three people, and we were missing our darling third wheel for the first costume-required party.

Costumes one and two were both really simple though.

Costume 1 was recycled: Price is Right contestants. This was my costume my freshman year of college (can't believe that was seven years ago!), so I already had the shirt. I just bought some new iron-on letters to cross out Bob and add Drew. I bought a sticky-backed foam sheet for our name tags, and done. Easy, and it cost about $4. Not bad at all.

Costume 2: rock, paper, scissors!

Also very easy and inexpensive. We did have the advantage of getting large pieces of cardboard and a grommet from FedEx (Henry's former employer---so excited to be able to say former by the way).

After that, we took it home to spray paint the handles red and to cover the blades with aluminum foil.

Henry went "3-hole punch Jim" style for his paper costume. We just cut out three circles from a sheet of black foam. Now might be a good time to mention that some people were confused about Henry's costume. The Office fans recognized him as 3-hole punch Jim, but others thought he might be a domino. Not paper. If we were to do this again, I think we'd add blue horizontal lines to his white shirt.

Deciding how to make April a rock was the toughest part. We thought about stuffing a black garbage bag or painting/chalking up a black shirt, but luckily Henry had the brilliant idea of wrapping her up in a scarf I already owned. She really didn't want to wear it at first, but somehow we got her to concede.

The cost of all three of our costumes was approximately $10. Sure beats the hundredsomething dollars we spent last year to be Mary Poppins and Bert!

You're looking at the "Most Original" costume winners, Rutherford Ln. Trunk-or-Treat 2010.