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Monday, May 30, 2011

A Tasty Giveaway!

I've been wanting to do some type of give away for a while. I've had a hard time thinking of something fun to do so after thinking on it for a while I simply decided to stick with what I know: Baking.

Some lucky winner (chosen at random by random.org) will win  two dozen personalized and decorated sugar cookies(or a different treat if you prefer) from yours truly. How does that sound? To make things even more fun, the winner can pick one friend to give/send a second set of cookies to. Who wouldn't like a random surprise package of cookies in the mail, right?

Here's how it is going to work:

1) Leave a comment below** telling me one random act of kindness you do this week
2) Leave a comment telling me when you have completed said task
3) If you do more than one thing for more than one person, let  me know!
** Sorry folks, only comments made on the blog will count, no facebook comments.**
Each comment is a chance to win! Please include your email address in atleast one of the comments so I can notify the winner!

You have until Saturday June 4 at 11pm (Pacific) to enter.The winner will announced on Monday June 6th

Memorial Day

Last night I was asked what Memorial Day is. The technical definition is this:

me·mo·ri·al dayNoun

1. A day, the last Monday in May, on which those who died in active military service are remembered
What it really stands for is something so much more. So much deeper. It is a day to stop and remember, to be thankful and to be proud. Every military family sacrifices time with their loved one so that person may serve our great country and keep us safe.
For many (too many!) families, that hug or kiss before deployment will be the last one they will share for eternity. It is the last time they will utter the words "I Love You" to eachother in person.  Our service men and women walk into battle with their heads held high and they game faces on knowing full well this could be the last battle they fight. Memorial day is a day to honor all of those that have the willingness to fight and possibly die for our country.
So on this Memorial Day will you stop for a moment and honor those that have served and are currently serving?  Are you willing give thanks to God for those that defend our freedom and the families that sacrifice right alone with them?
Right here in this sacred moment, bow your head and give thanks with me.
P.S. I read this post the other day and it moved me to tears. If you have a few minutes, read it. It is a great tribute to our military and an eye opening glimpse into the lives of some military wives.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Strawberry Lemonade Scones

When I saw this recipe for Strawberry Lemonde Scones, I had to give it a try. A few weeks ago I froze some fresh strawberries and I have been dying to use them. So I thawed and used those instead of fresh and freeze-dried strawberries. I also didn't have any Lemon Curd on hand so I used this recipe. It was so easy and didn't take much time!

2 1/2 Cups Flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup butter (chilled, not softened), cut into cubes
1 Cup diced Fresh Strawberries
1/2 Cup Freeze Dried Strawberries
1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 C Heavy Cream

Lemon Curd
Sugar/Sanding Sugar

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With a pastry blender, cut in butter cubes until mix is coarse crumbs. Gently add both kinds of strawberries and the lemon zest. Make a well in the center of mixture and set bowl aside.
2) In a medium bowl mix eggs and cream. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Gently stir until well mixed.
3) Place dough onto a well floured surface. Gently knead the dough by folding and fressing about 7 times, turning a quarter turn after each fold. Move dough onto a lightly floured parchment paper lined baking sheet. Pat dough into a 3/4in thick circle. Cut circle into wedges and separate slightly.
4) Brush each scone with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 16-20 minutes.
5) Drizzle with lemon curd and sprinkle with sugar again or coarse sanding sugar. Makes 8-12 scones.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Last Wedding Cake

Saturday marked a bittersweet moment as far as cakes are concerned. I baked, decorated and built my very last wedding cake. Forever? Maybe, maybe not. For a while? Absolutely.

I know what you are going to say... "but you do such a great job!", " you can't stop making them, you're so good at it".

What a lot of people don't understand is how much work they are. It takes about 5 dozen eggs, 10 lbs of flour, 8-10lbs of sugar, 6 cups of oil, 10 table spoons of vanilla, 4 cups cocoa powder,1-2 cartons of pastry pride, 6 cups of crisco, 8 pounds of powdered sugar, various spices and flavor extracts, 8 hours of baking, 6 hours of mixing, 4 hours of decorating (depending on the details involved), an hour of leveling and an hour of filling and crumb coating and the entire space of my refrigerator. I can't go grocery shopping for 2 weeks leading up to making the cake because there won't be room for groceries and cake in my refrigerator. Plus hours of cleaning and dish washing.

This last cake for Cory & Heather pushed my stress level over the edge. The cakes weren't setting up like they normally do and the crumbs seemed excessive. On the day of the wedding the fondant stuck to the boxes so large chunks of findant were coming off while I was trying to set it up at the wedding venue. Thankfully I had some pure while buttercream frosting with me and I was able to patch everything make it look nearly flawless.

All that said, it has been an absolute honor and pleasure to have made so many wedding cakes. It is a special thing to be asked and be part of such an important day. I am proud of my work. There has , literally, been blood, sweat and tears involved with each and every cake.

So here it is:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cory & Heather

There's a new Mr. & Mrs. in town. My good friend, Cory and Heather, finally tied the knot on Saturday. They've been together around 6 years or so. This day was much anticipated by a lot of people. It was a beautiful warm day in Temecula.

Cory was the picture of calm before the ceremony. Honestly, I have never seen him so happy. He was even giving me a pep talk when the cake was trying to ruin my day.

Heather was a stunning bride and I could see the joy and excitement all over her face as she walked down the aisle towards her awaiting groom.

Jared had the chance to meet some of my Cal Fire family and I saw some old friends.

Some of the Cal Fire family in attendance: me, Kris, Cory, Heather, Merrick, Jason, Sean

Us and Mr & Mrs Buckley. One of my favorite couples!

There was good food, great company, dancing, music and toasty warm fire pits when the evening turned cool.

I even got to dance with my love :) He's not much of a dancer but the Groom requested all couples come out to the dance floor. How do you say no to the Groom when it is his special day? All in all it was a great time!

Congratulations Cory & Heather Costa!

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I don't think it comes as much of a shock to anyone that Jared and I are planning on spending our lives together. A few weeks ago he mentioned that we should go ring shopping sometime soon. This news was via text message so he didn't hear the squeal of excitement or see the happy jump I did in my kitchen. He did experience my pestering (I'm sorry again babe) and my not so subtle hints of "sooooooo what do you want to do today??"

On Friday he finally said we were going to go look at rings. This particular trip was not to purchase a ring but for me to try on different ones and decide what I like. Being a woman, I may have thought once or twice about what kind of ring I would want (Three stone round cut white gold band) but I actually found a few that were different form that, who knew!

We started out at the mall and cruised stores like Zales, Kay, Daniels, Levi & Sons and Helzberg. First of all, both Jared and I are aware that the mark up on the rings in these particular stores are pretty high so our rings probably won't be purchased at one of them. Secondly, every single sales person was exactly that, a sales person. Only one lady introduced herself to us before starting to show us rings. Only one of them asked what I like and what I had in mind. Even if I wasn't asked, I would tell them what I liked yet they still didn't show me those rings. They still went for the biggest stone possible and the most bling. I am a simple girl. I don't want anything too big or too flashy. So yeah, the almost 2ct giant Celebration Solitaire ring that the Zales lady showed me first thing, not so much. No joke, that was the first ring she showed me... without even asking my name or what I had in mind. See ya!
I had absolutely no problem walking out of every single store at the mall. We thanked them for their time and moved on. We went to probably 5 or 6 stores and it took less than an hour. I saw nothing that I liked. Some even asked if we had set a date. UMMM we aren't engaged yet... that's why we said " we are just looking today to see what I like". Guess that confused them?

I figured we were done ring shopping for the day so we headed to the Corvette Diner for some delicious lunch then to the Zoo in hopes of spotting the new baby Hippo. For the record, we did see the Baby Hippo. Like its legs and butt. He was being a little shy, the little booger.

The Zoo closed early and once we were in the car we tried to figure  out what to do next. Jared said we could go look at more jewelry stores. Like I would say no to that?!? I think it took about 2.5 seconds for me to reach my phone and google San Diego jewelry stores. We were soon on our way to Robbins Brothers.

We were greeted immediately and soon after Judy , the sales associate, introduced herself and offered us water or a soda. She was very sweet and not pushy at all. She opened her folder and immediately asked what I would like and what my tastes are. She explained the process and eventually lead us over to start looking at rings. She stood back while I looked in the case and showed me the ones I asked about. After I started choosing rings, she made suggestions and showed me similar ones. Funny as it was, every ring fit my finger. Apparently I have an average size finger of size 6. WooHOO! Atleast something on my body is a size 6! Moving on...

Judy was very helpful. She took her time and explained everything along the way. She didn't get caught up in the designer mumbo jumbo that Jared and I wouldn't understand or care about. At the end there were 4 rings that I really liked. She had me place them in order 1-4. #1 was probably the first ring I tried on. I l-o-v-e-d it. So I ranked them and right away she said "ok let's be honest, the decision isn't between number 3 and 4 so let's put those away. Let's look at number 1 and 2". I was pretty impressed with that.  When it came time to leave we explained that it was our first day looking and we weren't ready to settle on something. She was so understanding and gave Jared her card that had the product number of the ring I love.

In a total girl move, I started crying when Jared and I were alone and saying good bye for the night. I was overwhelmed with how wonderful the day was. In a matter of hours, reality set in that all of my dreams really are coming true. It is one thing to talk and talk and talk about it but it is a whole other ball game when the process actually starts happening.

Oh, and I may or may not have looked at that particular ring every day since I saw it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pineapple 5K

Today I completed my second 5K run. This one was a little different from Chelsea's Run in March.
This one had a couple of these:

One of these:

These guys:

And so much much.

The Hawaiian theme run was hosted here:
Also known as Spanish Landing Park.

It was a fun and festive event help by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I ran for Katie's sister, Kayla. She is currently battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma and kicking its A** :). Kayla isn't the only one I was running for though. A friend of a friend's husband is a Lymphoma survivor, a classmate from high school is a Leukemia survivor and my teammate knows someone as well. I thought about every single one of those people while I was huffing and puffing it around the obstacle course.

I haven't gone running in many weeks. Too many, in fact. Today was a challenge but I did run most of it. I also completed most of the obstacles. The rope climb was kind of scary so I went up one side and down the same side instead of swinging my leg over and going down the other side. Visions of falling 10+ feel kept floating around in my head. There were two wooden walls that I just couldn't get over. They were too tall and my legs just aren't long enough. Staci was a champ and did all of them. The one thing I did that she didn't do (because only one person per team needed to do it) was take off our shoes and socks and wade into the frigid water of  San Diego Bay. I had to put our Pineapple on a boogie board and pull the boogie board down the bay a little. Maybe 50 feet or so. Maybe not even that far. The water went to just above my knees. Good thing I wore Capri workout bottoms and brought a change of clothes! brrrr.

Yes, I wrote "Our Pineapple" a minute ago. The MC, Captain Jack Sparrow (or his really good double), announced just before the race started that each team had to carry a Pineapple with them through out the whole course. Why? Because it is the Pineapple run and it would just make the day that much more entertaining.

There were quite a few obstacles along the 3.1 miles.
Monkey Bars
Parallel Bars over pools of water (Miracle, I didn't fall in!)
Tunnels to crawl through
Rings to crawl through
Tires to climb over and more tires to run through
Pineapple Melon bowling
Pineapple ring toss
Hula Hooping
Tarzan Swing and so much more.

Staci and I had a great time! We are hoping to get a larger group together next year. Be ready to dress the part though:

Just because it is fun and everyone was decked out. One guy was even dressed as a Pineapple.
Here's one more of us and our Pineapple, Gary (named after a sponge bob character).

Thank You to everyone that donated for this run! Those generous donations raised $210 for my individual run. Overall our team raised $305 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Today, lives were touched and funds were raised to help beat these cancers.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 115 Thru Day 120

Day 115:

Captain Dan is retiring from Cal Fire. I made a cake for his party.

Day 116:

Apparently there's this "Man Rule" that states you must have a beer while BBQing. So Jared enjoyed a cold one while he made is some steaks.

Day 117:
April 27, 2011 was a bittersweet dsay for those of us that work in the ECC. Captain Dan has been my Captain for the last 4 and a half years. Today was his last day with Cal Fire. Though all of us are excited for him and his new adventures, we are so very sad to see him go. We had a huge party to send him off.

Day 118:

Uncle Jared and I took Tyler to Sea World while Mommy and Peyton went shopping for his "Little Slugger" Birthday party. He was squealing and laughing at the Walrus. Adorable!

Day 119:

I always have a great time putting together cake for my precious nieces and nephews.

Day 120:
Easter Baskets w/ removable liners on clearance for $2/ each? Yes please. 2 pretty white baskets are now resting comfortably in my hope chest waiting for that very special day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tyler is ONE!

My littlest nephew, Tyler, turned 1 on April 22nd. I can't believe how quick this past year has gone. It is still pretty easy to remember the day he was born but it feels like yesterday.

He is honestly one of the happiest kids I know, except when he is hungry. He has the most precious little grin that shows off his two bottom teeth.

Tyler is quickly becoming a charmer when it comes to the ladies. Those dimples and big eyes will get you every time. He's walking all over the place but is still finding he gets places faster if he crawls. One of these days he's going to get up and go and there will be no stopping him!

This past weekend we celebrated his first birthday with family and friends. It was a GREAT time!

He was a little unsure about the cake until daddy stuck his hand in it. I thought I was being nice by frosting it with white frosting. I figured it would stain less.

Even Big Sister was willing to help.

He liked it but when he was given a cupcake with blue frosting, he was all about it. What a stinker!

He wasn't so much into opening his mound of presents but all of the other kids were. This kid made out like a bandit. Where they will put all of those new toys is anyone's guess.

I think little man had a great time playing baseball and hanging out with all of his little friends.

Happy 1st Birthday Sweet boy! Auntie loves you so much!

Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made this and I fell in love. Hope you do too!

2 Stick Butter, softened
1 C white Sugar
3/4 C Brown Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
3 1/2 C Flour
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
3/4 C Chocolate Chips
1 Bag Reeses PB Cup Miniatues, the "big bag"

1) Preheat Oven to 350
2) Cream together Butter and Sugars until well combined
3) Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each additon
4) Add Vanilla
5) In a separate bowl blend together flour, salt, baking soda
6) Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until fully combined
7) Gently mix in the chocolate chips
8) Using a cookie scoop or large table spoon, take one scoop of dough, split it in half then place the peanut butter cup on one half of the dough. Place the other half of the dough on the top and form dough around the peanut butter cup. Place the ball of dough on the the cookie sheet.
9) repeat until you run out of dough or PB cups.
10) Bake 9-13 minutes. Let cool a full 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.

** I have also used Rolos (2 candies per cookie) and I plan on trying with snickers minis as well**