Thursday, July 14, 2011

Retro Frou Frou

One of our Christmas card photos: circa 2007.

Happy Holidays!
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Pumpkin Butter Cranberry Chutney Apple Fruitcake Twig Potpourri

So I went to Volant, PA yesterday. I'd heard that it was a fancy place to spend a Sunday, even though I should've probably waited until it wasn't hotter than Hades. I found this photo of what I want Volant to look like. So upon first inspection, Volant looks like a cute little creekside town smattered with pretty houses that have been converted into pretty shoppes with porch swings, curtains, and lots of things that smell.

This morning, I was looking in my purse for my awesome Clinique Black Honey lip gloss and all I could smell was that smell. That smelly smell. That smelly smell that smells smelly.

Working in the candle shoppe, I'm the victim of a lot of smells that I don't want to smell. (Who wants a candle that smells like Banana Cream Pie? Dear GAWD)? None, though, are as offensive as the smell that comes from country prim stores. It's like a mixture of those grubby candles that always smell like vanilla buttercream and fake peaches or pumpkin, lacquered twigs, silk flowers and lots and LOTS of outdated potpourri. It's like the candle shoppe married the craft store and had millions of really fragrant babies.

I should clarify, country prim is lovely if you like that kind of thing. I like looking at country prim and thinking about what it would be like to have the kind of house that would be charmed-up with country prim, but I don't buy country prim and I don't want to SMELL like country prim.

Why, you ask, did I go to Volant? I've been trying to do something different every week. The Furry Convention once week, Pride Parade the next and if Nemacolin Woodlands Resort wasn't $400/night, I'd go there, too. (Who do they think they are, anyway? They're in PENNSYLVANIA. HELLO?!) Doing something that I've never done before has really helped me deal with the day-in and the day-out of missing Dustin and juggling the household chores and goings-on.

I was hoping for more antique stores/junk shops full of retro junk or a old-fashioned, but completely functional, percolator. Instead, I got a lot of crinkly snowman faces painted on fenceposts.

I did get some Highlander Grogg, though, and that was awesome. This flavour reminds me of mornings hanging out with Mr. Dustin.  I'm not a huge fan of flavoured coffee, but this one is exceptional. In my new (and unfortunately brand new) percolator, this is quite a treat.

Break out your bagpipes and don your kilts. This butterscotch and Irish cream flavor is sure to bring out the Scot in anyone.

Highlander Grog is one our oldest and most popular flavors. A very creamy, rich butterscotch flavor. Maple, butterscotch, yummy.

Don't let people dissuade you from the percolator. Coffee snobs say that it doesn't work with high-end coffee, but with the right grind and knowing your place in the world, it's delicious. If it's good enough for your grandparents, it's good enough for remove that stick from your ass and have a cup of coffee for chrissakes.

I've seen some wonderful recipes featuring this coffee. I may have to check it 'aht! Well, not this one. It has chocolate in it.

From this awesome site!

Marbled Mocha Highlander Grogg Cupcakes
makes 24

3 oz bittersweet chocolate
3 3/4 cups cake flour
1/2 cup Highlander Grogg coffee beans, ground
seeds of 1 vanilla bean
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups granulated sugar
2 sticks organic butter, softened
4 large organic eggs, at room temperature
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp coffee extract
2 Tbsp bourbon
1 1/3 cups milk
2 sticks organic butter at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk
2 tsp coffee extract
Tbsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place liners in two 12 cup standard muffin tins. Melt chocolate and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the flour, coffee grounds, vanilla bean, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add extracts and bourbon and mix until incorporated. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk until all is added, and well blended. Divide batter into approximately half mix chocolate into one half until well blended. Drop batter into muffin tins alternating plain and chocolate, then swirl with a toothpick. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, but do not over bake. Cool completely on a rack before frosting. To frost cupcakes, place butter in a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add about 2 Tbsp milk, the coffee extract and vanilla extract. Beat until combined, then add powdered sugar about a cup at a time until frosting is a spreadable consistency. You may need more then the 4 cups, and if it becomes too thick add a little milk. Spread frosting atop cupcakes and serve!

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

When You're Driving Home from Volant, PA.

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Nick and Phyllis

One of the only good parts about the summertime is garage sales. While the thrift store is alive and well all the days of the year, the garage sale is a seasonal animal that begins to rear its head in the end of spring and beds down in the early fall.

Because I now have a cube job that affords me the "opportunity" to be out of work when everyone else in the "free" world is, I find that my Saturday mornings, for the most part, are available for the treasure hunting. This was the first Saturday this year that I got up early enough to bother. I was out the door by 800am!

What I've found is that most people like to think that they have good stuff to sell, when in all actuality they have crap that I don't want. This list includes the following:

1. Baby items (if you have a bunch of baby clothes, you should have to put that on the signs that you hang up or the ads that you place).
2. Various broken or outdated pieces of exercise equipment.
3. Broken or warped Ikea furniture (as Gina pointed out, why would I buy this when I can spend ten more dollars and get a brand new one that doesn't have a coffee ring on it?).
4. A CD Tower of ANY kind.
5. Ceramic ducks or geese with country blue bows.
6. Particle board microwave carts.

Anyway, I found an Estate Sale in the newspaper, collected Gina and found my way to streets of Brentwood. When we finally got to the house, we opened the door and found a sale that was organized by one of those professional companies that sells items for families that don't want to deal with the items that have been collected by their loved ones over the years. Immediately, a smell of Anise pizzelles filled my nose. You know, the kind that your grandmother used to make at Christmastime that smelled divine and tasted horrifying (unless you like Anise, of course). I could tell, by so many of the items, that this was a lifetime of items and memories. Specifically, there were two plates, that were clearly handmade, that showed the names Nick and Phyllis. While part of me was madly in love with all of the vintage and retro items that this household contained, part of me was so upset by the notion that I was in this woman's house and rifling through the items that she cared for throughout her life. It seemed as though the door was thrust open and everything was left as it was when they were alive, but instead of "a place for everything and everything it its place," it seemed as though time had stood still and price tags were affixed. Devastating.

In the half an hour that we spent in that house, I really grew to love Phyllis and I really grew to hate her relatives for letting her home by ransacked by strangers. Where was her family? Why was I buying her coffee mug that said, "The Democratic Women's Club Christmas 1975?" I found some great plastic Christmas tschotskes, and I'm leaving them up forever...because then I've got the opportunity to think of Phyllis. Someone should. I also purchased a vintage chopper that is reminiscent of the slap chopper of today, but actually works and self-contains, so that you don't have to try to find a chopping board and the whole nine yards just to slap a few walnuts. Thanks Phyllis, because I'm happy to share your memory in this kitchen item, as well as the memory of my gram's own walnut chopping.

The whole thing was horrible and wonderful and...why can't I even go to an estate sale without having an emotional experience?

After we left Phyllis and Nick, we visited a giant thrift store that is notorious for having shady patrons, no dressing rooms and crappy parking. We did, however, manage to happen upon a great half-off sale. I actually found some wonderful Miss Marple-esque dress shoes that will go swimmingly with the shirt that I purchased last week. For only three dollars, these are quite a steal! With the right skirt and cardigan, I'll have quite a wonderful outfit that reaches well outside my comfort zone. I might even be mistaken for a woman.

With a shine and a new set of laces, they'll be as if they were new!

There is this part of me, even several hours later, that is dying to go back and buy more of the memories that are Nick and Phyllis, but I won't. Some things are better left as they are.Best Blogger Tips