Sunday, October 26, 2008

I love to cook and bake.

I really do. It is just that I don't particularly like to clean up the kitchen. This past week, I hosted (along with six other women) a shower for a coworker.. Luckily, the party did not take place in our home.

For my contribution, I agreed to make the cake, and I made petit fours, instead of a traditional cake. Petit fours are most certainly, in my opinion, beautiful 'shower food' and perfect for an all-ladies event. They are delicate and seem to be the perfect size for a tiny bite of sweet.

I had never made petit fours before, so it was a great learning project for me, too. I did not have any luck finding a decent recipe online at my usual sources:, or, or of course, . . . so I went to the best resource I have, my mom. She had a recipe and sent it along to me. I also found some great guidance in the "Joy of Cooking" so I was able to blend the two resources for a perfect outcome.

Essentially, you bake a thin layer of pound cake, fill it with pureed strawberry jam, glaze this with strawberry jam, and then glaze with a very thin vanilla frosting. (Traditionally, there will be fondant for a perfect smooth finish, but I just didn't have the time for fondant this week.)

Before deciding to make the petit fours, I had checked around with a number of bakeries in town to see what these little beauties cost. . . . and one source quoted a price of $4.29 each. I now know why. They are a ton of work. It really was a three evening process. I cleaned the kitchen multiple times and I am pretty sure that there is a fine glaze all over our kitchen that will take months to really clean up. I baked the cakes the first night, cooling, chilling, and slicing into strips. The second night, I warmed and pureed the jam, filled the strips, chilled them, then cut the strips into small squares, then chilled them again. The third day, that morning, I glazed the little cakes with the pureed jam, put them back in the refrigerator, came home at lunch and glazed each cake three times with the vanilla frosting/glaze. Just before the party, I decorated the cakes with pansies and other edible flowers. *I had great plans to decorate the petit fours with a firmer piped frosting for a very chic look, but I ran out of time. . .

Anyway, it was a ton of work, but the recipe was by far the best-tasting petit four I have ever eaten. I think generally, when we eat petit fours, we are eating a piece of cake that probably is two to three days old, and it is a little dry and stale. The jam helped retain the moisture, and these cake and frosting recipes were just plain delicious.

I have pictures forthcoming, and will post when I get them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Everyone else's babies.

I have kind of had it with being excited or happy for everyone else. There is a fantastic list of things that people shouldn't say to women who have had miscarriages. It isn't that they're inherently mean to say - it is just that they don't make us feel better and they just make us feel instead that the person saying it is kind of ignorant to our true feelings.

My miscarriage was almost a year ago. I am still very bitter and emotional about it when left alone to my thoughts. It has all come up again because a dear friend of mine has recently had her second miscarriage. I am hurting for her quite a bit.

Here's some insight on things not to say. Please pass this on to people who might need the education.

1. "At least you know you can get pregnant!" This is an attempt to be kind, however, the desired result is a child, not a positive pregnancy test. It doesn't really address the problems we are going through now.
2. "At least it was early" From the moment one has tested positive, hopes and dreams are building and a loss, even twelve hours later, is very significant and requires a woman to work through her grief process.
3. "This is God's way (or nature's way) of fixing it." It is understandable that people think this would be a warm way to address the difficult situation, but the truth is, many of us never find out what caused the miscarriage, and now we fear that there is something wrong with us that may never allow us to carry a healthy baby to term.
4. making any type of suggestion as to what you think caused the miscarriage. don't, unless you're my personal physician or a reproductive endocrinologist who has read my chart and clinical results. Are you an RE? Then you don't know. Don't begin to think that your suggestions here will be interpreted as anything but insulting and overstepping.
5. "You can always try again" - This is definitely true, and something that every woman will consider and feel better about over time, but at the beginning, in the stage where people are trying to console us, this does not make us feel better because we can't look forward quite yet.

Instead, just say, "I am so sorry for your loss." or just, "I am sorry". . . Acknowledge that she is grieving and that there has been a loss, and be there to listen or talk if she needs you.

The sweater. Still. ugh.

I am super tired of houndstooth at this point. I have knitted the back, both front pieces and one sleeve. I would prefer to hire someone to finish it. I was hoping to finish before my parents leave for their polar bear watching excursion next week, but that ain't happening. I can only sit for so many hours in a day! It will most certainly be completed before Christmas. I have a list of wonderful things I would like to knit for myself and I can't wait to get started!!!

my final twenty five.

I feel like the last one should be something really profound, like, "I'm five years older than everyone thinks" (not true) or "I just got a new job" - (I didn't) - so I couldn't come up with a good profound last word. I will have to continue to think about what might be profound. . . Right now, all I can think is that bed is sounding pretty good. . .

76. I love fireflies. It is difficult for me to not run after them and catch them.

77. I also still like to run after pigeons but not because I love them.

78. I crave salty and sweet things - not one or the other like most people.

79. I think that the contractor who redid our kitchen and master bath did a substandard job. The work is all about a year old. The caulk in the kitchen is cracking and crumbling out of the spaces in the tiles. He didn't bring the electrical outlets up to code in the kitchen or bathroom. He used plate glass on the bathroom window (not tempered glass), etc. This all happened about six months before we purchased the home. I wish I knew his name.

80. I love antiques and wish our house was full of them.

81. I like vacationing but would rather take a trip where we do stuff. We took 'doing stuff' trips when I was a child and few 'beach only' vacations. I like beach only trips, too, but it has been a while since we had a do stuff trip.

82. I do not eat leftover seafood.* I think that is positively foul. *The one exception is grilled shrimp. I might, depending on how my stomach is that day, eat them in a salad but there will need to be a lot of dressing and croutons and cheese, which sort of defeats the purpose of a salad.

83. Of all of the artificial flavorings, my favorite is orange. The most repulsive to me is watermelon.

84. I have a little bit of social anxiety. I get nervous when I know there will be a crowd and will look for reasons to not attend. . .even if I know everyone there.

85. I wish I dressed more classically, like in all black and white all the time with colored accessories. I would look good, I think. . . but it would probably get old.

86. I always get a flu shot.

87. If someone misspells my name, particularly if they have seen it before, I think they are rude.

88. I love musicals. The old fashioned cheesy ones with brightly colored film and costuming are my favorites - example: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

89. I also LOVE Doris Day movies. The innuendo for the time is hilarious.

90. I make gingerbread houses every Christmas. I used to have to give them away because we had a rodent issue at our house. I am really looking forward to the gingerbread sticking around this year! I candy shop all year long to find certain things that will look good decorating the gingerbread.

91. My hands are almost always a little swollen. gross.

92. I love a thesaurus. I love the online version, at, but it isn't nearly as good as a good old paper version.

93. I like terrariums. I think they are so very interesting to look at, and they look like the kind of place where fairies would be born.

94. I love going to baseball games.

95. I have a chicken pox scar on the side of my nose just below my right eye and a scar in the eyebrow over that same eye.

96. I love the "shabby chic" style of decorating, but I am afraid to commit.

97. I am a sucker for pajamas. I love long sleeve, long pants pajamas. Not so sexy, am I?

98. I prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate and do not like white chocolate, at all.

99. I read all seven of the main "Little House" books over the course of the second grade.

100. I believe that feminism today is having the ability to choose my own destiny instead of having society dictate my path.