Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hey! Remember that one time when I had a blog?

Me too!  It seems that the last time I updated this blog was many, many weeks ago.  I fail at life (well, not life...but blogging!). 
 
I haven't been baking much lately, but I do have a long list of baking related blog posts that are in the making...but you're not getting one of those today.  Today, you are getting a birthday story (because it is shorter and easier to write...and fresher in my memory).
 
My birthday was a little over a week ago (happy birthday to me!).  I did most of my birthday celebrating in Iowa over thanksgiving because...well...that is where most of the people who wanted to celebrate with me are located.  On my birthday, however, a wonderful group of friends took me out to eat. 
 
It was...and experience. 
 
The restaurant we went to was nice.  Very nice, in fact.  And the food was delicious.  But the absolute best part of the night, hands down, was our waitress. 
 
The waitress started the evening by casually flirting with the one guy at our table, Matt.  She was a little older than Matt, and wearing those old lady tennis shoes, but he was really liking the attention. 
 
And then someone told her it was my birthday.  She got really excited because, you see, it was her birthday too!  She turned 60 that day.  She had been a wee-bit loopy all night long...but man, when she realized that we shared a birthday, she went into full on awesome mode. 
 
Waitress:  "Man!  I just knew!  I knew as soon as you sat down that we have a connection, you know?!  You know, our sign is Sagittarius.  We've got one foot in this world, and one in the next!What time of day were you born?"
 
Me:  "Um...I don't really know..."
 
Waitress:  "Oh, I bet it was in the morning.  I was born in the morning [side note - she actually told me the time...but I forget].  Oh, this is so exciting!"  Awkwardly watching me with anticipation in her face.
 
Waitress:  "So, what's your name?"
 
Me:  "Rachel"
 
Waitress:  "Oh!  My name is [don't remember] Ray!  That is so interesting, RAY-chel and me with RAY for a middle name!"
 
More awkward staring...then she left.
 
When she returned: 
 
Waitress:  "So, are you like a metaphysical person?"
 
Me:  "Um...I don't really know..."
 
Waitress:  "Oh, if you were a metaphysical person, you would know.  Never mind."  Awkward watching...then she left again.
 
She came back:
 
Waitress:  "So, what are your parents names?"
 
Me:  "Robin and Dave"
 
Waitress:  "OH!  MY DAD'S NAME IS DAVID TOO!"
 
And away she goes...
 
And when she came back, she was carrying a Tupperware container with homemade cookies inside.  She put four cookies in the middle of our table...and with that, we left.  We took the cookies with us...but we were all fairly certain that our metaphysical waitress was probably high...potentially from the cookies, so we didn't eat them. 
 
And that was my birthday dinner.  It was fantastic.
 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Life...Keeping me Humble

It's review time here at the Firm.  That means that sometime soon, all something like 70 partners are going to get together in a big conference room and talk about all of the associates, one by one.  For me, this is my first full partnership review...up until now, I've only been reviewed by a smaller group of partners (the Associates Committee).  So...as you can imagine, the idea of 70ish of my bosses sitting around and talking about me behind closed doors is a little...scary.
 
This week the partners are working on (or should be working on) our written reviews.  All of the partners who I have done work for in the past six months have the opportunity to evaluate everything about me, from my researching and writing skills to my personality to my willingness to participate in firm functions.  And if I haven't done work for someone, well they can always opt to review me just for the fun of it. 
 
Anyway, given it is review time, I was extremely happy with a phone call I received today.  You see, a couple of weeks ago I filed something for a partner with the Clerk of the Appellate Court.  Today he called me and said, "So...I just realized...when you filed that Response, did you make sure to bind it correctly and use the right color of cover page?  I just realized that this was probably the first time you've filed something like that."  And I responded with, "It was, but I looked it up and yes, I filed it correctly." 
 
And then he said something that as an associate you just love to hear:  "Excellent, this is why I like working with you." 
 
I almost said, "Great!  You should probably write my review RIGHT NOW!"  But I didn't.
 
I did, however, proceed to tell some friends that I was feeling good about myself.  You know, always better to go into a review with the partner you do the most work for feeling good about your competence...
 
And then I looked at a motion I filed for him yesterday...and realized that I'M AN IDIOT who COMPLETELY FORGOT to include our exhibits.  Seriously...
 
So, just an hour or so after the partner tells me I've done something well, I walk into his office and explain why I'm an idiot (and then I fixed it, obviously). 
 
Sometimes there is a wonderful balance to the practice of law (at least my practice)...
 
So...today is a wash...
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream & Fantasy Football

 
 
Have you ever noticed how often I start a post on this thing with an apology for not posting in an excessive amount of time?  I have.  It's annoying.  Anyway, sorry for not posting in a month!  I think that is the last apology you will get out of me because if you are reading this blog...well...you should be used to it by now, am I right?!  (Also, you are most likely a family member or friend who expects me to be late/untimely...so why should posts on my blog be any different?!).
 
Anyway, I'm playing fantasy football this year.  And my team (Lindsey and I) is totally kicking some major A$$! 
 
I don't know anything about football.  I know I like the Hawkeyes, I know some of the positions and some basic information like scoring and whatnot from my days of being a cheerleader...but I don't know ANYTHING about the NFL, and I'm being completely honest when I say I've never cared to learn.
 
This year, however, the guy who organizes the fantasy football league at work asked me if I wanted to get an all girl team together and participate.  I'm a lover of infiltrating all things generally male dominated, so I asked a couple of girls here if they wanted to participate, Lindsey (who actually does watch football) said yes, and Team Candy was born! 
 
Yes, our name is Team Candy.  One of our newest associates, Paige, named us.  I believe it is technically Team Eye-Candy, but we like to keep things appropriate (although I don't know why considering one of the teams is the Champion Whoremongers...).
 
Anyway, Lindsey, Paige, and I went to the chaotic, loud, booze-filled draft and picked ourselves a wonderful team!  While I've never been in to the NFL, I am very competitive.  Now that I'm invested in this team, I'm learning everything I can about my players and the NFL.  Actually, it has become so bad that Ian recently asked me to stop spouting off about the NFL and told me that if he broke up with because of my new found interest in football, people would totally understand...(he was joking, I think...).
 
So far we have won both of our games, which means we are ranked number one! I know, there is still plenty of time for our team to go down in a flaming ball of crap...but for now we rock! 
 
Because we are competitive, awesome, and women, we went to the mall and ordered the most girly team t-shirts we could find:
 
 
And Lindsey has been arranging/hosting team watch parties at her house:
 
Matt shown for scale...
Lindsey's basement has an awesome setup for football watch parties, which includes this lovely projection T.V. and the NFL red zone package, which makes sure you are watching whatever game currently has a ball in the red zone.
 
My contribution to the first watch party was cupcakes, of course!  Lindsey is always trying to coerce me into make certain kinds of cupcakes for her.  She recently sent me a recipe for Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream frosting and all she said was how delicious they looked and how excited she was for fall.  But I knew.  I KNEW she wanted me to make these cupcakes...
 
And I did.  I mean, making cupcakes is kind of a team effort...I like to make them, she likes to eat them...so I might as well make a flavor she wants to try, no? 
 
Seriously though, I imagine it must take a lot of effort to host even a small gathering at your home (I wouldn't know, I don't let people enter my home due to the fact that it is in constant disarray and every place I have to sit only seats two...), so the least I can do is make cupcake flavors she suggests. 
 
As I alluded to at the beginning of this long stream of consciousness post, I have a tendency to run behind.  I woke up on the Sunday of our watch party, went to the grocery store and purchased the ingredients for cupcake making, made the cupcakes (and a dip, yummy!), and then showed up one hour late to the party...but when you show up with cupcakes, I like to think that people don't care about your lateness.  I might be wrong. 
 
These cupcakes are deliciously fall flavored.  I thought they were good, they were a hit at the party (meaning Lindsey and I ate a lot of them), and when I took them to work I received numerous compliments on them (as well as numerous complaints about the general lack of cupcakes in the recent past...). 
 
I changed the recipe to use store bought caramel (what?!  I was already late!) and instead of one stick of salted butter and one of unsalted butter in the buttercream...I just used unsalted butter and added more salt...I'm too lazy to purchase two different kinds of salt for one freaking recipe!
 
Oh, and just an FYI - if you double the cupcake recipe, you should also double the frosting...
 
Quit judging the pictures in this post...I forgot my camera at work when I baked the cupcakes, so these were taken on my messy desk.  You can actually see highlighters reflected on the side...
 
Pumpkin Cupcakes - (original recipe says you get 18 cupcakes from this...I got closer to 24)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add dry ingredients, and mix on low until smooth. Fold in pumpkin puree.
  3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.
Salted Caramel Buttercream -
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste and to garnish
1/2 cup caramel sauce, more to taste and to garnish
2 cups powdered sugar
  1. In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy.
  2. Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel. Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes). 
  4. Frost cupcakes and garnish with more caramel and a SMALL sprinkle of salt.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Second Anniversary - the Toddler Years

Today is my second anniversary at the Firm, and it's really hard to believe that I've been a lawyer for TWO YEARS!  In honor of my second anniversary, I went back and read my post from my first anniversary...and I gotta say, I'm funny! 

My second year at the Firm has been another great one, and I feel lucky that, just like last year, I still LOVE my job!  So, here are some highlights (and a couple of lowlights) from the past year:
  1. One of the biggest highlights of the year is that I feel a lot more comfortable in my job.  The first year as a lawyer, you literally know nothing.  I mean, you know basic information about the law, and you know how the research and write...but you don't know how to file something.  You don't know what a motion or a memorandum in support look like.  You've never taken a deposition and you have no idea how to ask questions or treat witnesses (or object, if need be).  The best part about my second year at the firm is the fact that I am finally to a point where I know what I'm doing at least some of the time!  It's wonderful!
  2. This year I argued my first motion in front of a judge.  By myself.  It was both awesome and terrifying.  I lost my place in my argument and I think that I may have stuttered once or twice, but I apparently made my point because I won!  And it was GLORIOUS!  (it was also fun to be told that I have a lovely speaking voice as I was leaving the courthouse.  Gotta love compliments!).
  3. Opposing counsel panted at me.  Like a dog.  I'm not sure whether to call this a highlight or a lowlight...so I'm going to go with an interesting-light.  So here is the story: I was taking the deposition of a younger, single man.  He was represented by...let's say the epitome of a sleazy plaintiff's attorney (think, bars on the windows of his office while he drives a Porsche or something, older guy with a fake tan, plastic surgery lines, half unbuttoned shirt with gray chest hair sticking out...).  Person I'm deposing is very nice to me and gives me lots of answers that are great for my side (but not so great for his own case).  Later in the day, while the sleazy attorney is speaking to my supervisor (on speaker phone with me in the office, which he knows), he describes his client's reaction to me by panting like a dog.  The next day, when he took my client's deposition, he panted at me again.  He is...interesting.
  4. For the first time, I wrote a Court of Appeal Brief.  I didn't get to argue in front of the Court of Appeals, but I did get to help shape what our arguments were.  And we won! 
  5. I had my first experience where I told a client that we were likely going to lose and that we should settle, and they asked me to press ahead to trial anyway.  I appeared for the oral arguments in front of the judge, and we lost.  It was a very good lesson: while I am invested in the case, it isn't "mine."  It is up to the client to determine how we proceed.
  6. For the first time ever, someone called my office and asked me, personally, to represent them after a prior client sent them my way.  And at the end of my representation of my very first personal client . . .
  7. The client called me and genuinely thanked me for all of my work on his case, promising to come back to me with any future legal needs. 
  8. A combination highlight/lowlight is the ever changing group of associates at the firm.  I was very happy this past year when Amelia and Lindsey started and I was no longer the one and only unmarried and childless associate.  But, I'm sad to say that another associate and friend quit the Firm to move on to an opportunity elsewhere (this one is a selfish lowlight...because her new job is wonderful for her and her family!). 
  9. I have not yet been able to convince any of my friends or family from home to move to Kansas.  That's a definite lowlight. 
  10. A random farmer in Middle of Nowhere, Kansas, admonished me that I needed to get some sun while I was sitting outside of a courtroom waiting for a hearing.  Apparently the paleness of my skin in February did not please him.
Clearly, these are just a couple of the things I can think of that have happened in the past year.  Overall, it has been amazing and I'm really looking forward to many more years here! 


Friday, August 10, 2012

Apparently I'm a Farm Lawyer...

Currently, I have three cases in my overall case load that are keeping me crazy-pants style busy:
  1. A case involving a dispute over damage to a rented tractor;
  2. A case involving a contract for the sale of hay; and,
  3. A case involving the sale of soil amendments, which are used to increase the root growth and density to improve crop production.
Add to this the fact that I have appeared in front of the Kansas Farm Service Agency state board a couple of times to talk crop insurance, and it appears that I'm becoming a regular farm lawyer...

I wish I had known this was where my life would lead when I was growing up on a farm.  Maybe I would have paid more attention...


In other news, today one of the male associates told me I look tired, which I'm certain actually means, "You look like poop."  (He is Mormon, so I don't think he swears...).

I told my friend and coworker Lindsey about this exchange and her response was, "I'm sorry you look like shit."  THANKS LINDSEY! 

Edit: Lindsey would like you all to know that she immediately followed up her statement with, "But I'm sure [he's] wrong."

I'm not so sure, though.  Not too long after this exchange, a paralegal came in and told me I look like I don't feel well...

 
Thanks for reading my non-post...I promise a better one some day in the future!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Warrior Dash Iowa - 2012

Last weekend I finally participated in a Warrior Dash and it was AWESOME!  Really, the whole weekend was awesome...so now I will give you a play-by-play so you can be jealous of my awesomeness.  You're welcome.

Pre-Warrior Dash Photo!  Look how cute we are!
I slept fitfully on Friday night because I was very nervous/excited about the Warrior Dash.  I have some travel anxiety issues, so I had already read through the Warrior Dash website a few times, I shared the website with bulleted important information for my friends (like what to bring, when to arrive, etc.), and I carefully prepared my weekend packet (which included hotel reservation confirmation, directions to the hotel just in case my GPS stopped working, Warrior Dash waivers for everyone in our group in case they forgot theirs, directions to the dash from the hotel, etc.).  Seriously, I have issues.  But...I was still fairly certain that I was forgetting something...so I didn't sleep well.

Morning came and we were actually ON TIME!  If you know Ian and me (or any of our friends), you should know that we are almost never on time.  I should clarify...I'm on time to things that matter to me (think anything that involves the courthouse or when I was in school, class, or really anything where someone tells me that I need to be somewhere at a designated time and that someone is not my mom, my sister, or my grandma...and by "on time" in those situations I mean 10-15 minutes early or I'm freaking out and a mess).  But for other events, I'm generally late. 
 
Ian has a more fluid definition of "on time" for everything.  For instance, if I'm going to be two minutes early to class, I'm not going to class because that's "late" and that is embarrassing...if Ian is going to be two minutes early to class he finds something else to do that will take him 10-20 minutes and then he will go to class.  This little difference sometimes causes a wee bit of strife...you see, my travel anxiety combined with Ian's fluid relationship with time...combined with the fact that me nagging him makes him move slower = a really stressful situation for everyone involved.
So...I slept fitfully because I just KNEW we were going to be LATE to the Warrior Dash...and we all know the world ends when you are late to the Warrior Dash.  Right?!

Ok, rant over.  So, we weren't late.  Everyone was actually very prompt and we got out the door and to the middle of nowhere (where the event was staged) in plenty of time!
The first shocking thing about the Warrior Dash was the fact that there were like a thousand people out there at 9:00 AM.  I just assumed that people want to sleep in on Saturday...I assumed wrong.

So, we got ourselves all registered and checked our stuff in to the appropriate places, and then we stood around and waited for the race to begin.  When it was time to line up, we purposely got toward the back of the pack...saving the serious athletes from the added obstacle of passing us.  Two things happened at this point: (1) I was very, very thirsty, so I wandered up to where the table with the water and grabbed a cup and then came back...but everyone had started moving forward and I had a frantic moment where I couldn't find my group.  I felt like a child lost in a clothing store.  It was embarrassing.  (2)  I had a moment where I was like, "You really don't want to do this...GET OUT NOW WHILE YOU STILL CAN THERE IS STILL TIME!"  I didn't listen to the voice freaking out in my head.  That voice lies.

The race started and we were off!  Kinda.  Really, the people at the front of the line started jogging and we walked forward until it was our turn.  Then WE WERE OFF.  Kinda.  You see, we ran for about 20 feet and immediately started walking...because everyone was walking.  The first approximately half mile was straight up a hill...and I wish I was exaggerating but I'm not.  I swear!

So...how to describe the course...I was unprepared for the course.  I knew we would be running around in the semi-wilderness, but I really hadn't contemplated what that means.  We were running through a partially patted down path.  There were tree limbs in the way, tall weeds, steps carved out of the dirt, big toe-stubbing rocks, etc.  There were portions of the path where you had to run single file...there was poison ivy in the path...it was definitely the wilderness.  Also...there were A LOT of hills.  I don't care how much I train to run, as long as my training takes place in Kansas, I will never be prepared to run on hills (PS: I'm not saying I actually trained properly for this race...because that would be a lie!). 

The obstacles were awesome and I'm proud to say that both Ian and I completed every obstacle!  Words of wisdom: if you are planning to do a Warrior Dash...part of your training should include crawling around in the woods.  Seriously.  That's not pleasant...and there is definitely more crawling than you would expect! 

Finished!
In other news, I didn't fall off of anything!  Some of those obstacles required you to climb something really high...and there is no safety "you're dumb and you fell off that really high wall" mat to catch you.  If you fall, you land on the ground.  So yay!  There is a rumor that someone in the 10:30 wave compound fractured his arm (with bone sticking out and all that gross stuff).  I have no idea if this is true, but I also wouldn't be surprised.
 
Our group ended up walking a large portion of the Warrior Dash for a variety of reasons...but I'm proud to say that we all finished and we all had a good time!  I think the very best portion of the event is when you get close to the finish line and you can hear everyone cheering...you run around the bend and out of the woods to jump over fire and then into the mud pit for the finish line!  So awesome! 
I'm definitely planning to do this (and other runs like this) again!  (I've started trying to convince Ian that we need to do one in October!).

The rest of the day was really awesome as well!  We drank our free beer, listened to some music, and ate giant turkey legs! 


I know, it's a wienie bite!
 
Cheers?

He is actually dancing with the turkey leg...

Drinking double...

I'll spare you the pics of us going at the turkey leg lady and the tramp style...

Then we went to the hotel and sat in the hot tub/went swimming all afternoon!  It was great! 
We continued to celebrate our awesomeness into the evening when we went out on the town.  Did you know that Des Moines is actually a somewhat happening place?  Or that a German restaurant with a live polka band would be the place where all of the youngsters want to booze the evening away?  Me either!

We went out with our fuzzy warrior helmets on...because really, why wouldn't we?!  All night long people would yell "WARRIORS!" at us...which was strange.  A stranger asked to take a picture of us...and we obliged...

WARRIORS!
We finished up the weekend with Sunday lunch at a place called Zombie Burger.  It was awesome (in a "my heart wants to die just thinking about what I ate) kind of way! 


I made it look strange...but this is their sign!
Front of the Menu!
Description of what I ate...
What I ate...
Description of what Ian ate...

All in all, I call this weekend a success (and I'm thoroughly impressed with Des Moines!).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Blueberry Pie



The most important thing you need to know about pie-baking is that you shouldn't just up and decide that you would like to make a pie from scratch and also be able to eat it in like 4 hours.  Pie baking doesn't work like that.  Apparently. 

About a month ago, I decided that it would be a really awesome idea to purchase a gallon bag of fresh from the farm organic blueberries:

Ian says I am obsessed with Instagram...he is possibly correct.
I made this decision because (a) blueberries are delicious and (b) I wanted to bake with them.  Much to Ian's consternation, I baked gluten-full and gluten-free blueberry muffins as soon as I had these blueberries in my possession (I haven't written about these baked goods yet for multiple reasons...but let's just agree to blame laziness). 

Ian, who is back in Iowa these days, was a little peeved...he may have been the one who put the blueberry muffin idea in my head in the first place...and I may have rubbed in how delicious the muffins were every chance I got.  Not on purpose, really, just because I happened to be eating a lot of delicious muffins around the times I happened to be on the phone with Ian. 

Anyway, I baked a lot, ate a lot of the blueberries, and then put the rest in the freezer to use for baking purposes at a later time.

So, Ian came to visit me this past weekend and we semi-invited ourselves to our friends' house for dinner and hanging out on Saturday.  While we were lazily hanging out during the day, the idea of how delicious a blueberry pie would taste just came to me...and Ian got a little sad look on his face and said something about how it did sound delicious but that it didn't matter because I was just going to bake it when he was in Iowa anyway. 

At about 2:00, I decided that I wanted to bake the pie right then and there.  We were supposed to be over for dinner at 6:30 and the drive would take about 20 minutes...I figured we had time to "whip up" a pie. 

I'm not going to walk you through the specifics of baking this pie or even give you the recipe, because it is a complicated process that you have to do 100% correct to end up with delicious flaky crust...and with this being my first pie and all...I think you are better off relying on the real instructions.  Crust (doubled) and filling.

I will, however, tell you what I learned.

So, first things first, apparently in order to have good crust you absolutely NEED everything to be as cold as humanly possible. The directions I followed suggested keeping butter in the freezer at all times just in case the urge to bake a pie strikes. Clearly, as this is the first pie I've ever attempted to make outside of high school home ec class, I did not have butter in my freezer. So I quickly threw some butter in the freezer and waited minimum amount of time before I began preparing my dough.

Apparently this "keep everything cold" rule follows through all of the pie making process.  You need your dough cold when you roll it out if you do want a flaky crust and don't want it to stick to the counter.  I pulled my dough out of the fridge, rolled it out all carefully so it was a circle, trying hard to make sure it would fit my pie plate...and then asked Ian to check it.  He came in and was like, "Oh...this is totally stuck to the counter.  You are going to have to try again."  FML.  So, keep it cold and work fast!

Pie making isn't for the impatient (which I am).  Because of the whole "keep everything cold" crap, there is just a lot of time hanging out while you are waiting for stuff to get cold.

The entire pie making experience turned in to a team exercise at the end.  I prepared the dough and the filling; Ian assembled the beautiful pie!  I'm very impressed with his pie assembly skills!  We've been showing off the picture of the pie like it is a child.  Seriously.

Anyway, the most important lesson I learned in regards to baking a pie is that when the directions tell you that you need to let the pie cool completely before cutting it, you actually do need to let the pie cool completely.  We took our assembled pie over to our friends' house and baked it there while we were preparing and eating dinner.  It came out of the oven right when we sat down to eat.  It cooled for maybe two hours, and we thought it was fine to eat. 

It wasn't.

Don't get me wrong, it tasted awesome and it was cool enough to eat.  But it was like pie soup.  Delicious, blueberry, pie soup.

We ate half of the pie that night and took the rest home.  When we woke up and ate pie for breakfast (stop judging me), the remaining pieces had filling that had miraculously firmed up!  There is a purpose for the waiting, people!

But if you can't wait, warm but soupy pie is still delicious...so you should feel free to dig in!

The only thing I regret is that there is only one slice left:
(I'm eating it tonight!)




Friday, July 6, 2012

Warrior Dash



Two posts in one day?!  I know, I'm CRAZY!  But, this one is short and awesome.

Next Saturday, Ian and I (and a couple of friends) are participating in the Iowa Warrior Dash.  If you've never heard of it, the Warrior Dash is essentially a 5K obstacle course.  Every course is a little bit different, but ours includes such obstacles as climbing through some rusted wreckage, climbing a barricade wall, crawling through dirt/under logs, crawling under barbed wire, jumping over fire, and crawling through mud (There is apparently a lot of crawling...).  Participants get a stein of beer, a fuzzy warrior helmet, and a metal. 

I'm excited for the Warrior Dash, but I'm also excited that Ian and I signed up to be St. Jude's Warriors.  Essentially, this means that we are trying to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.  Our goal was small - $500 - and we have already raised it...but more money = helping more children!  So, please go to our website and make a donation!

St. Jude's helps thousands of patients every year, all through donations from wonderful people like you!  Any amount helps...so go here, donate now!  Thanks!

40th Surprise Party

So...remember that post I had almost a month ago where I talked about Red Velvet cupcakes and told you to check back later in the week for a post about my first order...well...this is that post you've been waiting for.  I know.  I suck.  You love me anyway.

Anyway, my first ever order was for 1 dozen Pina Colada Cupcakes, 1 dozen S'mores Cupcakes, and 2 dozen red velvet cupcakes.  This also happened to be the very first time baking in my new kitchen.  Oh, and it was the first week of the summer associate program where my law firm has activities that involve drinking booze literally every night of the week.  It was an interesting baking experience...or, and interesting experience in time management, to say the least.

First, I love my new kitchen:


I especially like the lovely island in the middle.  The one problem is that once you pull out your ingredients and your "cookbook" (aka, my iPad)...and my computer for watching TV, there really isn't a whole lot of room on the counter.  So, it took some work to figure out where my cooling racks would work best, where my ingredients should sit waiting patiently for me to use them, etc.  I did figure it out, though.

Baking for actual events makes me nervous...but happy.  It definitely makes me feel good that someone liked my baking so much they wanted to order it!  But...it makes me nervous because WHAT IF I MESS UP?! 

To accommodate all of the drinking and working I had to do that week, I baked the order over the course of a couple of days (which my customer knew was likely to happen since she ordered some complex cupcakes).  It actually went a lot more smoothly than I anticipated.  I didn't mess up the recipes at all...I had an order for baking...the S'mores turned out even better than the usually do...I made colorful Pina Colada Cupcakes (it was a 40th birthday party for a man...so I figured all pink was a no no):


I even got to use my new mini fridge for its intended purpose for the very first time:

Please see the beautiful cupcakes...and ignore the beer).
I was a little nervous that the Red Velvet Cupcakes were messed up.  You see, usually before I let anyone else eat a cupcake, I taste-test the batch first.  But, the customer ordered 2 dozen Red Velvet Cupcakes, and the recipe makes exactly that...so there weren't any extras to taste.  I was petrified that I had left out an important ingredient (like...idk...sugar!) and just didn't know it.  If they were messed up, you know, no big deal...just the birthday boy's FAVORITE FREAKING CAKE.  So yeah, that part made me nervous (they weren't messed up, in case you were concerned).

The most nerve-racking portion of the whole experience, however, was the transportation.  All I needed to do was get 5 dozen cupcakes to the customer without messing any up, and I would be good to go...but I was so nervous I was going to drop them!  I mean, I had to get them from my basement, to my car, to the fridge at work, back to my car, and then to the drop-off location.  It was a lot of travel...

I managed...but then that night I got a text message from my friend that said, "My worst nightmare just happened.  The bottom of one of the tupperwares just fell out!!!!!  Thank God the cupcakes were salvageable.  F*ck my life."  And my heart dropped...

Luckily, no cupcakes were harmed in the drop...

Anyway, the experience was good, the customer passed out some of my business cards, and maybe someone else will order in the future!  Until then, I'll just keep baking for the fun of it! 

(P.S. - the customer was going to take a picture of the cupcakes sitting out, but was too busy having fun...so no finished product pics for you this time!  Sorry folks!).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes - Two Ways



About a month ago I was contacted by the sister of a friend who asked if I would be willing to bake cupcakes for a surprise 40th birthday party she was throwing for her boyfriend!  You want to order cupcakes from me?!  OF COURSE I'M INTERESTED!

Now that that's out of my system...

I (semi) promptly emailed her back, and we got to work ironing out the details.  The most important detail is that the birthday boy's favorite cake is red velvet cake.

I immediately thought of a problem...I don't recall ever having red velvet cake.  So, either I've never had it, or it wasn't worth remembering.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

An Open Letter to Delta Airlines

Dear Delta,

I hate you.

Hugs & Kisses & Fluffy Stuff,

Rachel


It's been almost a month since I've blogged anything...I suck.  Also, I've been busy (lame & true).  In exciting news, I moved a week and a half ago from a 1.5 bedroom apartment with an angry (Ian says serial killer) old neighbor who complained that I was being too loud even when I wasn't home into a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom, beautiful town home! 

In sad news, my aunt passed away last week.  I don't feel that this is the appropriate place to discuss her, her life, or her death, but it is the appropriate venue for my rant re: Delta Airlines.

I spent most of last week at home.  Ian was moving back to finish school, so I went with him in his car to Iowa, and then purchased a plane ticket to get me back to Wichita on Sunday.  Itinerary:
Leave Iowa at 4:25 pm, land in Atlanta at 7:31
Leave Atlanta at 8:30, land in Wichita at 9:45.


So it's Sunday, I'm all prepared to leave, and I get a phone call from Delta.  Apparently my flight has been delayed and I am now set to arrive in Atlanta 8:24.  Ok, a six minute layover isn't great by anyone's standards, but I figure that since they are both Delta flights, the airline will work with me.

A couple of minutes later, I get a second phone call...I'm delayed for a second time and will be arriving in Atlanta at 8:59, 29 minutes after my scheduled departure.

And then five minutes later, all of a sudden I'm not going to be in Atlanta until 11:44.  Clearly this doesn't work for me.

I get online, find a new itinerary and even though I'm pissed, I just suck it up because really, what are you going to do about it, right?

Ok, so new itinerary:
Leave at 11:45, arrive in Minneapolis at 12:51
Leave Minneapolis at 2:20, arrive in Wichita at 4:12.

The next morning, I'm all ready for my flight again and I get another phone call.  My flight is delayed AGAIN!  Now I'm not going to arrive in Minneapolis until 2:33, 13 minutes after departure. 

So Ian and I go to the airport because I'm angry and I need to get home.  We walk up to the counter and the customer service rep tries to make a joke, sees that I'm pissed, and gets a little serious (but also condescending).  I tell him I want to get home as soon as possible, he says the earliest flight out of Minneapolis he can get me on is at 7:30.  I say that doesn't work for me and tell him to get me home earlier, on Delta or some other airline.  He clicks and clacks on his computer for a few minutes and says, "Sorry, but that's the earliest I can get you there.  It will have to do."  So I say, "Fine.  I don't care what time I get home, I want to fly on a different airline because clearly your airline has issues as every single flight has been delayed,"  (as we are talking, Delta is making an announcement that another flight has been overbooked and they are looking for people to volunteer to take a different flight).  He goes over to American Airlines and when he comes back I am miraculously on an earlier flight, arriving in Wichita at 4:30.

Many things about this experience pissed me off, but this "customer service" guy was the worst.  First, I shouldn't have to ask twice for you to check flights with other airlines.  Then he told me that one of the reasons the flight may be delayed is regularly scheduled maintenance.  WTF?  Finally, he talked to Ian and I like we were children and/or idiots. 

Moral of the story = I hate Delta. 

I promise to post about cupcakes soon.  :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Read this Book! Seriously! DO IT!


Ok, the picture is terrible and you can't really tell what it says...so you should purchase and read Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess).  I know that you don't really want my opinion about what you should read, but here it is anyway!

I read The Bloggess's blog and it is freaking hilarious all the time, so I pre-ordered the book in like January or something equally ridiculous.  Anyway, I patiently waited for the book to arrive (for about a month...then I impatiently waited) and about did cartwheels when I actually got it!  I immediately went out on to my patio to read!

I opened up to the introduction and started reading...and then I started laughing...I laughed so hard I teared up a little bit.  Seriously.  I laughed so hard that I had to come back inside.  I was fairly certain that if I stayed outside, my neighbors would think I was crazy for just sitting there all alone laughing out  loud for an extended period of time...

So I came inside and continued to read.  And I laughed so hard that Ian asked me to stop reading because it was distracting him from whatever he was doing at the time (playing video games...reading his own book...etc).

So, the moral of the story is that this book is freaking hilarious and I promise you will laugh so hard you cry at least twice.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Personal Baked Oatmeal "Bars"


I'm  not much of a morning person.  At all.  For some reason, I am perfectly capable of waking up at 5:30 am for a gym class (most of the time) and when I do I manage to make myself something good for breakfast (and by "I usually make myself," I mean "Ian cooks" - at least for now).  But on days that I don't go to the gym, I CANNOT get my lazy butt up out of my bed.  Which also means I don't eat breakfast.  If I don't eat breakfast I AM STARVING by 9:30 am, which is obviously too early for lunch.  Or I eat something gross out of a vending machine.

And this is where I have to thank Pinterest and the amazing people who post amazing ideas on it!  PINTEREST SOLVED MY LAZY BUTT BREAKFAST PROBLEMS!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The People of Walmart

So I did some baking for Easter, but this post isn't about that.  This post is about my trip to Walmart to get my baking supplies.  I'm a procrastinator, so I waited until Sunday morning to go to the store to purchase my ingredients.  I wasn't really sure what stores would be open on a holiday (in the bible belt), so I opted for Walmart because I figured it was a sure bet. 

During my time at Walmart, I had multiple interactions with strangers:

(1)  Within 5 minutes of being in the store, as I was wandering around by the checkout lanes trying to find one that had cold Diet Pepsi, an older gentleman walked up to me and asked me to verify that he was purchase the correct light bulb.  He had his old light bulb and the new one he wanted to purchase...we agreed that there was a little indentation at the top and that appeared to be the only difference.

(2)  A few minutes later, a middle-aged man in an...interesting suit approached me.  He had a full gold "grill" and a very nice hat.  He was looking for a woman to help him re-tie his tie.  I was apparently the 18th to turn him down.

(3)  While looking for peanuts, and older gentleman started talking to me about where to find the powdered popcorn flavoring.  We agreed it should be near the popcorn.  He encouraged me to eat more popcorn and told me his favorite brands.

(4)  Finally, while getting some food coloring two black men approximately my age came into the aisle and asked if I happened to know where they could find Easter egg dye.  I said I did not but told them they could use food coloring, water, and vinegar and it would work the same.  They thanked me and turned to walk away and I heard one (who had his goatee in pigtails) say to the other, "See, white people are so smart."  Seriously. 

Anyway, the people at Walmart were very, very friendly on Easter. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Rootbeer Float


Around November of 2011, I got an email from my sister, Dani, with the subject line "Challenge."  She issued me a challenge to create a cupcake that used at least one flavor of Pinnacle Vodka, preferably more.  Specifically, she wanted me to use a the Pinnacle Whipped.  She may have even strongly suggested that the cupcake be a Rootbeer Float flavor.  I promised to do so...

I intended to make these cupcakes shortly after she issued her challenge.  I purchased the Pinnacle Whipped vodka and intended to purchase the Rootbeer flavor as well.  However, the liquor store I went to didn't have it, so I just purchased Rootbeer and made a mental note to go to another liquor store.

I drank the first bottle of vodka.  It's really good.  Mixed with Rootbeer, it's like the perfect adult Rootbeer float.  No joke!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Doctor's Orders!

I promise to post about cupcakes again very soon (about Rootbeer Float cupcakes...yummy!).  But first...

I went to the doctor yesterday because I've been a little dizzy and my hip hurts.  The doc ran some tests and took some x-rays.  Turns out, I have low blood pressure (100/60) and a random issue with my hip.  My doctor has instructed me to eat more salt and stop running.  No joke.

How many of you can eat bacon, cheese, and chips and blame it on your doctor?  Well...I CAN!  Jealous???

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Not a Real Post

Every once in a while (aka - like 10 times a day) I check to see how many hits my blog has gotten and how people find their way to my ramblings.  Today I hit a jackpot.  You see, when you type a search into google, and it leads you to a blog which you choose to click on, the owner of that blog can see the search terms you used.  Usually the search are boring like - corona cupcake or libatious litigator.  This time, it turns out there are two oddities.

And now, I present to you the odd search terms bringing people to my blog:
  • Why does my limoncello look like pee
  • ganchen pastru fejsbooh
Clearly the limoncello pee question pulled up my homemade limoncello post...where I clearly compared my giant bucket of limoncello to pee...well...the look of pee...

I haven't the foggiest clue what the second search was.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I'm an Idiot...or...I'm REALLY Dedicated to my Job!

Obviously this post isn't about cupcakes.  Sorry...

Anyway, on Tuesday I was sitting in my office, pouring over a plaintiff's medical records, doing some research into the various pain medications he has been prescribed over the two years since his accident.  I do some google searches for the uses of the medications, side effects, etc.  One is a muscle relaxer, one is an anti-inflammatory, and the third is a narcotic pain med.

Then I leave and go to hot yoga.

If you've never tried hot yoga, you should.  It's awesome.  But you should be careful.  Very, very careful. In this particular yoga class we do a lot of inversions (we go upside down).  Well, near the end of class I attempted to do something that is similar to a headstand.  I failed in a painful way.  Nothing big happened, I just put my legs up and my neck went slightly to the left.  And then there was pain.  Nothing bad at first...but gradually it grew.  And now I'm on the same pain meds as the plaintiff!  (minus the anti-inflammatory).

So, the moral of the story is I'm really dedicated and just wanted to know first hand what the side effects of these pain meds are.  So, thank you hot yoga.  

PS - if one more person tells me about the STUPID New York Times article from a month or so ago that details the dangers of yoga, I may scream!  Yes people, yoga, just like every other athletic activity, can lead to injuries.  If done improperly.  Like I did.  

Ok, rant over!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Butter Cream Frosting



This spring, Ian has an amazing internship working at a prestigious accounting firm...and it has the potential to lead to a full time job when he graduates.  It's a tax internship during the busy tax time, and so far he is loving it.  He is loving it so much, in fact, that he decided he wants to bribe them into giving him a job...or into liking him...which he hopes will lead to a job.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Blue Moon & Corona Cupcakes

I was recently tricked into making these cupcakes:

(can you figure out what is wrong with this picture?)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bacon Whole Wheat Pancakes

(I decided that since the post is short, the picture has to be big!)
As usual, it has been FOREVER since I have posted anything.  Such is life, no?!  Anyway, just a short little post today...Ian and I decided to make some delicious pancakes for breakfast-lunch yesterday (no, this was not brunch.  It was at 1:30 in the afternoon...we just decided to have breakfast for lunch).

Ian baked some bacon in the oven, and then I whipped up these whole wheat pancakes...put the cooked bacon on the skillet and then dump your batter right on top of the bacon!  Delicious!  My sister pointed out that bacon in a whole wheat pancake "defeats the purpose of the whole wheat pancake."  My thoughts = bacon never defeats the purpose of anything...bacon goes with everything!  Also, the whole wheat pancakes (while nutritious) are also delicious! 

We also made some dunk eggs (I believe people outside of my family call these over easy) to throw on top of the pancakes!  All in all, this was a delicious breakfast lunch.  The pancakes were light and fluffy and had a really good flavor.  Next time, however, I will be crumbling the bacon and mixing it into the batter so I can have a bite of bacon with most bites of pancake!  Sounds good, right?!

(Please forgive my terrible photo)


Whole Wheat Pancakes -

2 cups whole wheat flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon (we added a little extra)
2 tsp sugar (we added a little extra)
pinch nutmeg
2 large eggs
2 cups + 2 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  1. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add in all wet ingredients and mix well with a spoon until there are no more dry spots.  Don't over mix.
  3. Heat a skillet on medium heat.
  4. Lightly spay cooking spray on skillet (we used butter).
  5. Place bacon on skillet and cover with 1/4 cup of pancake batter.
  6. When bubbles settle and the edges begin to set, flip the pancake and cook the other side to golden brown. 
  7. EAT!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Picture Coasters (not edible...duh)


Have you heard of the latest social media craze?  Well, the latest craze for mostly women who enjoy cooking/baking/crafting??  It is called pinterest, and if you enjoy any of the previously mentioned things, you should probably be on it.  Essentially, pinterest can teach you how to do things you never knew you wanted to be able to do.

I learned about pinterest shortly before Christmas and it helped me remember that I enjoy making things.  One of the very first things I found was a tutorial on how to make picture coasters.  In fact, I decided that coasters with Ian and my disastrous photo shoot would be perfect for Ian's apartment, and therefore a perfect Christmas gift for him!  I was also fairly confident that they were going to be AWESOME and that everyone would want some...so I decided to make some for my mom (and by some, I mean she got like 16 because who doesn't need 16 coaster?!  Really, her family is just too big...) and for friends (although I still owe some friends some coasters...two months after Christmas isn't too late to give a present, right?!). 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

S'more Cupcakes



Have you ever had a craving for something and it just follows you around, demanding to be satisfied?  Well, for MONTHS, all I could think about was how much I wanted a s'more.  I blame Ian.  Now, he will probably tell you that I blame him for everything, but this really was his fault.  Ian insisted that we go camping (and that experience, my friends, is a whole other story, which I promise to blog about at a later time).  Anyway, on this lovely camping trip we planned to make s'mores and brought all the fixin's.  And we did make them.  Once.  But is once really ever enough for s'mores?  I would argue that it is most assuredly not.

So I went on a quest to find a recipe for s'mores cupcakes.  As you would expect, I found a plethora of cupcake options out on the interwebs.  I combined the cupcake recipe from Bakerella, the marshmallow frosting from the Annie's Eats, and my own chocolate ganache.  Let me tell you, this things are DANGEROUS.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I Made Soup!

In Wichita, we have a fantastic soup and sandwich place called Tanya's Soup Kitchen.  The woman who owns it may be crazy, but that's ok because she works in the restaurant industry!  Anyway, she creates all of these wonderful soups, all made from scratch, using mostly local ingredients, and it is definitely one of my favorite places in town.  She also sells her recipes.

Prior to Christmas, I was in Tanya's for lunch and noticed that her recipe books were on sale (like, buy all six and save $15 or something like that).  I decided I would buy them and give them away for Christmas presents (they are currently sitting in the back of Ian's car...so the second part of this plan backfired).  I figured I would also want to keep a couple...you know, cause I like cooking so much and how hard could it possibly be to make SOUP?

Turns out, making soup is an interesting experience.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lemon-Limoncello Cupcakes


After I successfully made homemade limoncello, I decided I needed to bake with it!  I found this delicious looking recipe on the Brown Eyed Baker and decided to try it out.  These cupcakes are lemon-limoncello cupcakes, lemon curd filling, and limoncello frosting.  The flavor is a little out of season, but I was too impatient to wait for summer, so deal with it!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Homemade Limoncello

I officially fail at blogging...it has been almost a month since my last post.  Good news is, I have a TON to post about, so be prepared for multiple new posts in a (hopefully) short time span (provided my life cooperates). 

Anyway, on one of my many, MANY trips home to Iowa last summer (yes, this is a very old topic), I went to a party at my bother and sister-in-law's house.  At this party, my sister-in-law, Amanda, served delicious limoncello that SHE MADE HERSELF!  Hers turned out so well, I asked for instructions and made my own! 

 (note - this is my finished limoncello, not a giant jar of pee)