Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tasty Surprises

I love surprises. Ok, no I don't. I am a planner, but this kind of surprise is always welcome. One of John's coworkers brought him two pints of black raspberries yesterday. YEH!  

John wanted muffins. I wanted cake....Tony Horton (p90x) wanted us to have neither. So, as with all good marriages, we had to come to a compromise. Black Raspberry Coffee Cake. Cake that tastes a lot like a muffin.Sorry Tony, but you are out-voted. We'll do an extra workout to make up for it. 

ahahahah... That was a lie.

(If you are wondering why I cropped the picture this way; the cake is sitting beside the kitchen sink. My sink was full of dirty dishes. I like to keep my mess to myself... )

I actually didn't change the recipe very much at all, so, Thank You Saveur for this lovely gift. And, if anyone else wants to surprise me with berries... or peaches.... or really anything.. I promise I will share whatever I make with it. 

Black Raspberry Coffee Cake
For the topping:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp chilled butter 
1/3 cup Dark Chocolate chocolate chips

For the Cake:
1 cup All purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled (I used salted butter... because I like it better... )
1 1/4 cups fresh black (or red) raspberries

1. Topping: In a small bowl combine the sugar, flour and butter. Using a fork, mix throughly, butter will be crumbly, and then add chocolate. Stir well to combine. 

2. Cake: Preheat oven to 375 F. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.In a seperate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and melted butter. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon. 
3. Pour batter into a lightly greased 8" spring form pan. Sprinkle raspberries over cake and then cover with the topping. Bake until well browned, around 40 minutes. Serve Warm. Or cold. With coffee. Or chocolate milk. Or, don't serve it at all and keep it for yourself.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


With decorating almost complete, we have begun exploring our new city. Little bit more time on our hands. Last weekend was beautiful so instead of going to King of Prussia (evidently a big fancy mall outside of Philly) we went to Wildwood Park just outside of Harrisburg. It is a nature preserve and marsh with great trails and lots of wildlife. Lots. Chipmunks,egrets, herrings, ground hogs, orioles...

This is the first time I have really "used" my camera since we moved. It felt good to get back "behind the lens".

Lovely little frog.

 The vastly different areas of the park kind of blew my mind. In the span of a few acres are dense forest with huge trees, marshes with water lilies,  and swamp-y areas. The teaching degree in me just screams that this would be the best field trip. 

 Two little chipmunks. The one in front kept coming closer and closer. 

 See? And no, we didn't feed them. 

He posed. My favorite picture of the day.

If all of our adventures in Harrisburg are this stunning, I think we are going to like it!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


To the man who will always be there to bait my hook (because I can't stand to do it myself);

who taught me how to doggie paddle, dive, touch the bottom of the pool, and body surf; 

who spent hours on math problems that we just didn't get;

and,  my favorite Neil Sedaka impersonator:
You will always be my Superman. Thanks Dad. Loved you then, Love you now. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Have your cake....

A couple of weeks ago I was approached by a family at church to make their daughter's birthday cake. Honestly, I was pretty hesitant to say yes. While I love to make cakes and put lots of fluffy icing on them, I haven't done a ton of detailed cake decorating and haven't used my decorating tips since before we left for France.

I know. I will be going to pastry school and haven't used icing tips in over 2 years. Don't yell too loudly.

Anyways, I did say yes, only because they said they weren't expecting a masterpiece and I could pretty much do what I wanted as long as it said, "Happy Birthday". Those guidelines I can work with. Alas, the little girl was sick the day of her party and so the cake was frozen (again, don't yell too loudly) until Wednesday of this week. It came out pretty great, I think. 

Pepto bismal Icing anyone? Add some yellow and you have a pretty peach. 

Hopefully you can see my circles on the cake. I placed my polka dots with fondant cutters and went back with icing to outline and fill them in. Eyeballing a circle? Yeh. Right. 


And, the top: 

So, what would I do differently next time? Make it 3 layers, more to decorate! Buy a smaller offset spatula. Relax. haha.  Hopefully, it won't be 2 years before I get to use my decorating tips again! 

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Monday, June 13, 2011

First Blooms

Thunderstorms and flowers make for great photos of our first blooms. I should have some yellow and pink cosmos soon.
Spider plants have buds and so do the snap dragons. Hopefully by the end of the week I'll have some pictures of those!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Things to Do When You're Home Alone

Well, John is out of town on business for a few days. This is the first time in our almost 4 years of marriage that I have been home alone without him. Not. A. Fan. So, in case you are ever in the same situation, here are some things for you to do.

1. Catch up on your current favorite TV Show. For me, this week it's Prison Break. Most. Addictive. Show. Ever. I can't stop watching. If you happen to have lived out of the country for a while, like me, you probably have quite a few shows to catch up on.

2. Read a book. Suggestions: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.That gives you a few categories to choose from....

3. Watch movies that he wouldn't want to watch. I.e.- romantic comedies. Some of my favorites: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Pretty Woman, Breakfast at Tiffany's, You've Got Mail, Casablanca, Julie and Julia

4. Do a few extra workouts. Work on that bikini bod. Or board short bod.... Girls go out of town on business too. Maybe I should go back and add a few action thrillers to the movie list?

5. Bake. Bake. Bake. Woooooo!

6. Work out a plan to get that nosey neighbor to leave you alone. My goodness, John and I have had some doozies. Abby, if you are reading this, we miss you guys. It has all gone downhill since you guys moved from Lexington. And, does anyone have any ideas? Not mean ideas, just to... run someone off....

What do you like to do when your significant other is out of town? Or, just when you have a little extra time to yourself?

Color works

Sadie, modeling our new rug.

Yes, it is shag. And, yes it is gold. Evidently we are quite retro. ha. 
While at my Mom and Dad's for Memorial day, Mom and I whipped out a couple of pillows. That's right, I can now at sewing (to a very limited degree) to my hobbies. Hopefully, my skills will improve with time. It took me 20 minutes to do something that took my Mom a total of 2.

I think it's all starting to come together. Next up- ART! Everything is currently being custom framed so sometime in the next year we might have it all done. Then it will take another 3 years to pay for all of said custom framing. C'est la vie!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Farm

John and I have joined a local CSA, otherwise known as Community Supported Agriculture. We paid a fee for about 4 months worth of fresh, organic, locally grown vegetables and once a week I go to pick up our box. So far we have had a LOT of wonderful lettuce mix, radishes, spring onions, bok choy, and arugula and are loving every single bite. And, of course, it is all "P90X approved". ( By the way, this program is the real deal. If you don't want to go to the gym and don't want to spend the money for a membership- do P90X for awhile.)

I can't wait to see what comes in this week's box!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Still Growing...

Look where we started! 

This was taken before Memorial Day. I actually meant to blog it then. I'm sorry. I have decided that life in the US is just way more hectic than life in France ever was. I don't know why... but there is never enough time to get everything done.

And now:

So, I have successfully raised chives, cilantro, snapdragons, spider plants, cosmos, and some very healthy basil! If anything in these pots gets much bigger- I am going to run out of patio.