Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Baking 2015

Hello! I finished up my Christmas baking today, which is pretty good, since I started yesterday. The bad news is that I only made a few things. The good thing is, you may find the recipes here!

I am going to post links for cookies that I have made in the past, as well.

So, what did I make this year?

Czech Pernicky
In the Czech Republic, you can buy these treats at all of the Christmas markets. They are puffy and delicious. Originally made with rye flour, I believe. They are donned with the most beautiful and intricate icing designs. Pronounced per-knit-ski.

Butterscotch Fingers
This is a simple recipe to bring together and they taste wonderful!

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

We can all thank my best friend's little sister for this recipe. She brought them to  my cookie exchange last week. They are so good, that I had to make them myself! (Origin of recipe unknown at this time.)

2          cups old-fashioned rolled oats

2          cups all-purpose flour

1          tablespoon baking powder

1/2       teaspoon baking soda

1/2       teaspoon salt

2          teaspoons cinnamon

1/2       teaspoon ground nutmeg

1          cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1          cup light brown sugar

1/2       cup sugar

2          large eggs

1          teaspoon vanilla extract


2          cups confectioner's sugar

3          tablespoons milk (I used more to thin icing to my liking, don't be afraid to do the same.)


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray baking sheets with cooking spray and set aside.

Mix oats with flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars.

Add in eggs one at a time, then vanilla.

Gradually add in flour mixture until combined.

Roll dough into 2 tablespoon size balls and place on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10- 12 minutes, or until bottoms begin to brown.

Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Glaze once the cookies are cool.


Mix confectioner's sugar and milk together in a medium bowl.

Quickly dip tops of cookies into glaze and let excess drip back into bowl.

Place on wire rack until glaze sets.

Store cookies in an airtight container.

Cranberry Swirl Bread  From Stiers Aesthetic
Makes one loaf




1/3             cup sugar

1                package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast (or  equivalent 2-1/4 teaspoons)

1/2             teaspoon salt

3-1/2         cups all-purpose flour

1/2            cup water

1/2            cup milk

1/3            cup butter


1-1/2        cups chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen

1/4           cup packed brown sugar

1              teaspoon cornstarch

1/4           cup water

1              tablespoon butter

1              tablespoon lemon juice

Confectioner's sugar for dusting

1. In a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with dough attachment, mix sugar, yeast, salt, and 1 cup flour (you'll use the other 2-1/2 cups later). If you do not have a stand mixer you can simply use a large bowl and mix sugar, yeast, salt, and flour together.

2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat water, milk, and butter, until butter is melted. Let cool until mixture is lukewarm.

3. Once cooled, add mixture to dry ingredients in stand mixer and mix on speed 1.

4. Stir in flour, one cup at a time, until a smooth dough is formed, increasing speed to 2.

5. Mix together until dough comes together in a clean ball. Shape dough into a smooth ball, transfer to a large lightly greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (Baker's note: If your dough is too sticky add more flour, one spoon at a time. If you dough is too dry, add a little olive oil.)

6. While you're waiting on your bread to rise, combine cranberries, brown sugar, cornstarch, and water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens, about 10-15 minutes. Make sure to cover slightly as your cranberries will start to burst.

7. Remove from heat and stir in butter and lemon juice; cool.

8. Punch down dough and turn onto a lightly floured surface.

9. Roll into a 10x20-inch rectangle. Spread the cranberry sauce out 1/2-inch from the edges. Starting at one of the shorter sides, tightly roll up dough, pinching sides as you go. With the seam facing down, use a sharp knife and carefully slice completely through the dough, lengthwise down the center, end to end.

10. Braid dough (with cranberry sauce facing up), and transfer to lightly greased 10-inch loaf pan.

11. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 30- 40 minutes.

12. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bale loaf for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.

13. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

14. Dust with confectioner's sugar and top with fresh cranberries (optional), for a pop of color.

Previous Treats:

Peppermint Sugar Cookies

Gingerbread Men Cookies

Nantucket Cranberry Pie

Melt Aways

Spiked Eggnog Chews

Spicy Apple Pancakes with Cider Sauce

Snickerdoodles and Pepprakakor

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pumpkin Sugar Buns

I just discovered this recipe from The Candid Appetite. They looked so good, I had to give them a go!

This is what the buns look like, when you run out of cinnamon and cannot make the cinnamon sugar coating and are forced to ice them instead.

Pumpkin Sugar Buns Makes 24


1/2          cup warm water (about 105ºF to 115ºF)

2             (1/4 ounce) packets active dry yeast (or 4-1/2 teaspoons worth)

1/2          cup milk

1/2         cup sugar

1            teaspoon salt

1/4         unsalted butter, melted

1            cup pumpkin, purée

2            large eggs, lightly whisked

2-1/2      teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

5 to 5-1/2   cups all-purpose flour


4            tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2            tablespoons granulated sugar

2            teaspoons ground cinnamon


6            tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/2         cup granulated sugar

1            tablespoon ground cinnamon


1. Dissolve the water and yeast in a medium bowl. Let rest in warm spot until frothy and foamy,a bout 10 minutes.

2. Warm the milk, butter, and sugar in small saucepan until sugar dissolves. Set aside to slightly cool. In a large bowl, stir together the milk mixture, salt, pumpkin purée, eggs, and water/yeast mixture, until evenly combined. Add the pumpkin pie spice and half of the flour in batches, mixing until well incorporated. Add as much of the remaining flour as needed to form a smooth and somewhat sticky dough. It should pull away from the bowl while mixing. Knead on high for about 8 to 10 minutes to form a soft dough. Transfer to well oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel. Set in warm spot and allow the dough to rest until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

3. To make the filling, in small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Punch the dough down and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Cut in half and then roll each half into rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Brush with half the melted butter and sprinkle with half the sugar mixture. Roll into a tight log, lengthwise. Cut into 12 even pieces and place in well oiled muffin tin. Cover both muffin tins with plastic wrap and let rest in warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake the buns until golden brown and puffed up, about 20 to 25 minutes. make sure your oven racks are spaced far enough apart as buns tend to rise high while baking. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on cooling racks.

5. Meanwhile, make the coating by mixing together the cinnamon and sugar. Brush or dip the cooled buns in melted butter and then roll them in cinnamon sugar. Serve immediately or or cover tightly with plastic wrap. Will keep at room temperature for 2 days. You can also freeze the baked buns and then thaw and roll around in butter and sugar when you are ready to serve and eat.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Best Persimmon Cookies I've Ever Had!

These also happen to be the only persimmon cookies that I have ever had. I had never tasted a persimmon before and I was curious about what they tasted like. On Halloween, I got into a conversation about persimmons with my friend's mother -in-law and it just so happens that my new apartment has a persimmon tree just outside... so, I decided to whip up a batch of cookies.  I found this recipe on Pinterest. It seems old, but who knows these days.

I hope that you try these out. The are truly scrumptious. I took some on a road trip to the Hoover Dam this weekend and my friends loved them. My friend's mother-in-law also received a few and she begged for the recipe.

So, without further ado...

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Bon Appetit Desserts: Caramel-Walnut Upside-Down Banana Cake

This is definitely caramely, walnutty, and bananay cake! It is also quite tasty!

Caramel-Walnut Upside-Down Banana Cake
6 to 8 servings


              Nonstick vegetable spray

1/2         cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1            cup (packed) golden brown sugar

3            tablespoons dark corn syrup

3/4         cup walnut halves or pieces


1-3/4      cups cake flour

1            teaspoon baking powder

3/4         teaspoon baking soda

1/2         teaspoon salt

1/2         cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2         cup sugar

1/2         cup (packed) golden brown sugar

2            large eggs

1            cup mashed very ripe bananas (2 to 3 large)

3            tablespoons sour cream

1            tablespoon dark rum

1            teaspoon vanilla extract

              Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

TOPPING: Spray 8-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Bring butter, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil in medium saucepan, stirring constantly until butter melts. Boil syrup 1 minute. Stir in nuts. Spread topping in prepared pan. Let topping cool completely.

CAKE: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, the mashed bananas, sour cream, rum, and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients in 2 additions just until combined. Spoon batter into pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Run small knife around pan sides to loosed cake. Place platter over pan. Using oven mitts or pot holders as aid, firmly grasp pan and platter together, then turn over. Let stand 5 minutes, then gently lift pan off cake. Cool at least 15 minutes for topping to set. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Blue Blueberry Muffins

My mom is a huge fan of Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swenson Mysteries. Over the years I have purchased a few of these books for her. If you do not know, Hannah Swenson runs The Cookie Jar, a popular bakery in this mystery series, and she also solves crimes! Each book comes with a few recipes.

While one could turn to each book for their recipes, it's much easier just to find your favorite treat in the Lake Eden Cookbook, like my mom does.

One of our favorite recipes is the Blue Blueberry Muffins. My mom makes them often and I get happy when she sends some home with me. I am currently making a double batch of these muffins for my students.

I hope that you will try this recipe out. They are sure to please!

Blue Blueberry Muffins

3/4          cup butter (1-1/2 sticks)

1             cup sugar

2             eggs, beaten

2             teaspoons baking powder

1/2          teaspoon salt

1             cup fresh or frozen blueberries (no need to thaw)

2             plus 1 tablespoon flour

1/2          cup milk

1/2          cup blueberry pie filling


1/2         cup sugar

1/3         cup flour

1/4         cup butter, softened


Grease of muffin tin only.

Melt butter and pour into large bowl. Mix in sugar. Add beaten eggs, baking powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly.

Put blueberries in medium bowl, sprinkle 1 tablespoon flour over berries and mix gently until berries are covered; set aside.

Add one cup flour and half of the milk to the butter mixture. Add rest of flour and milk, mix thoroughly.

Add pie filling. Mix well. Fold in blueberries. (Mixture will probably turn blue and that is okay!)

Fill the muffin tine 3/4 full, set aside.

Crumb topping:

Mix flour and sugar in bowl. Add butter and cut in until crumbly. Fill in remaining space of muffin tins with crumb topping. Bake at 375ºF for 25-30 minutes. Let cool 30 minutes in tin before removing.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Bon Appetit Desserts: Apple-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake

It is beginning to feel a lot like fall in Southern California... psych! It is still pretty warm, but I have got to believe that cooler weather is on its way.

This is the perfect recipe to set the stage for all of those cool autumn evenings!

Simple and delicious... simply delicious!

Apple-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
Serves 6 to 8

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

8             tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided

1/2          cup plus 2/3 cup sugar

3             7- to 8-ounce Granny Smith apples, peeled, cut into eighths, cored

1             cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/4          cup yellow cornmeal

1/2          teaspoon baking soda

1/4          teaspoon salt

1             large egg

1/2          cup buttermilk

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350ºF. Generously spray 9-inch diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup sugar and stir until sugar melts and turns golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add apples and sauté over medium heat until apples are just tender and coated with caramel, shaking pan occasionally, about 12 minutes. Immediately pour mixture into prepared pan; distribute apples and caramel evenly over bottom of pan.

Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat remaining 6 tablespoons butter and 2/3 cup sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in egg. Add half of flour mixture; stir in buttermilk. Add remaining flour mixture and mix well. Drop batter by spoonfuls evenly over apples and spread gently with offset spatula.

Bake until cake is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 5 minutes. Cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Place platter over pan. Using oven mitts or pot holders as aid, firmly grasp pan and platter together and turn over. Gently lift pan off cake. Serve warm.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Bon Appetit Desserts: Cranberry-Maple Pudding Cake

Cranberry-Maple Pudding Cake

Pudding cakes form two wonderful layers all on their own as they bake- the pudding layer settles on the bottom, and a spongy cake forms on top. Serve this warm for breakfast or dessert.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

2             cups fresh or frozen cranberries

1             cup pure maple syrup (Grade B or Grade A dark amber)

2/3          cup heavy whipping cream

3/4          teaspoon finely grated orange peel

               Pinch of salt plus 1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3          cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/3          cup yellow cornmeal (preferably stone-ground)

1-1/2      teaspoons baking powder

1             large egg

3             tablespoons sugar

1/2          cup whole milk

1/2          cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1             teaspoon vanilla extract

               Creme fraîche, softly whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream

Postion rack in center of oven and preheat to 400ºF. Combine cranberries, maple syrup, cream, orange peel, and pinch of salt in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Whisk egg and sugar in another medium bowl. Whisk milk, melted butter, and vanilla into egg mixture. Add flour mixture to egg mixture; whisk to blend.

Pour warm cranberry mixture into 11x7x2-inch or 8x8x2-inch glass or ceramic dish. Pour batter over. Bake cake until golden and cranberry mixture bubbles at edges, about 28 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Spoon warm cake with cranberry mixture onto plates. Serve cake topped with creme fraîche, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.

Florence and the Machine!

About a month ago, I won tickets to see Florence and the Machine, at the Hollywood Bowl. Well, last night, my mom and I went to enjoy the show. It was great. What a powerful voice Florence has. Did you know that she is a dancing machine??! She spins, runs and dances across the stage for the entire concert. She's wild! And she never seems to be out of breath!

You wouldn't get this from Florence's singing voice, because it is so forceful, but her speaking voice is quiet and delicate. I think that if she was born a few decades ago, she would have fit perfectly in the 70s. I mean, at the end of the concert, she told everyone to take their clothes off (some people actually listened to her) and then she tore her shirt off and ran through the audience. She's very free. Ha, ha.

It was enjoyable to look around and see people enjoying the music, in a common space. Music and the arts are a great unifier. One young man in particular LOVED Florence. He did a lot of first pumps and he also shouted 'I love her', 'She's so good', and 'She's perfect', a few times. I always embrace the love of the arts and how they bring joy to lives.

My mom and I had a good time! I've been a fan of Florence and the Machine for a while, but only had one of their albums. Their new album, 'How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful' is lovely. Check it out!

Saturday, October 10, 2015


Over the last month, I have moved and I am mostly unpacked. I just got internet and TV set up at the end of September. Not much has been going on here and because of that, it is my hope to get back to baking!

It is my wish to get some new Bon Appetit recipes posted post haste!

Until I get new recipes up, just know that I am enjoying much more free time in my life, as I only have to drive 30 minutes to and from work instead of an hour and a half both ways. I love it!

Also, tomorrow, I bring home two kittens! I am overwhelmed with excitement. I have been waiting for this moment for over fours years now. I am rejoicing over the fact that my new landlords allow small pets. I love animals!

I shall leave you with one more random piece of information. The city that I now live in has a lot of peacocks that roam the streets. So, I get to see them as I drive to and fro. A bunch of the birds like to gather near my apartment. I was able to capture two of them the other night, via photograph.

Due to the fact that peacocks are rampant in these parts, I decided to learn a little about these birds.

Males are Peacocks.
Females are Peahens.
A grouping of both sexes is called Peafowl.
Despite their large tail feathers, these birds are still able to fly!

And now that you know, here are two of my newest friends!

Aren't they lovely?! If only they sounded as great as they look! They sure do make some horrible sounds!

Thank you for reading this random post! Enjoy the rest of your weekend and may you have a glorious week!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Retro Mouse Stuffed Animal

My mom recently went through her sewing box, tossing the items that were no longer needed. Whilst doing this, she came upon a pattern she purchased when she was a teenager in 1973! The pattern is for a precious mouse stuffed animal, eating a piece of cheese. I decided to make this yesterday, for my friend's daughter who will be turning one next week.

Though the directions were a bit vague, I persevered! I'd like to give an out of this world shout out to my great grandma Esther, who taught my mom how to sew and to my mom as well, for teaching me how to sew when I was in the sixth grade. I've made so many quilts and fun little things like this mouse because of this skill. I shall treasure it always!

I never got to meet my great grandma, as she passed before I was born, but I believe that there is a connection to her as I sew her patterns and bake her delicious recipes!

My great grandma had enough foresight to copy the pattern onto parchment paper. I doubt she or my mother thought that it would be made 42 years later! Here is the cute little mouse. I still need to sew the mouth and teeth on, but I'd say that it looks pretty nice so far.

(Secret shout out to myself for keeping fabric from every project I have ever done. It makes spur of the moment projects like this so much easier! My mom would have thrown every scrap away by now. Good thing I don't live with her. Ha ha. The blue fabric was from the curtains that I sewed for this little girl's nursery just over a year ago!)

Photos of the entire process are below.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Getty Villa and The Getty Center

When I was in college, I went to the Getty Center Museum a couple of times and I loved it. Over the summer, my friend Josiah and I decided to make a special trip to the museum again. However, we discovered that J. Paul Getty also had another museum called The Getty Villa. Neither Josiah or I had ever been there. So, we visited both in one day! I've wanted to share these photos for a while, but things have been a bit hectic. I was finishing up my second masters course, I quit a teaching job that I have had for four years, I got hired at a new school (we are in week three with students already!), and I'm moving! Ugh. Talk about change! I suppose it is best to get it all done at once.

Anyway, here are the photos!
(All photos were taken by me, except the one where I am pictured with Van Gogh's Irises. Please ask before sharing any images. Thank you.)

Me and Josiah enjoying the outdoor portion of The Getty Villa.
The photos below are of many of the different floors at the Villa. I loved them.

The atmosphere of the Villa, below.

(I used Instagram Layout for this photo.)

It was a lovely misty and mystical day outside.

The below photos are at The Getty Center.
I was enjoying the foliage.

Check the museums out:
If you go to both in one day, you pay for parking at one location and get free parking at the other!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Bon Appetit Desserts: Double-Ginger Gingerbread with Orange-Ginger Sauce

This recipe makes me yearn for the fall. Such warm and lovely flavors in this cake. The orange-ginger sauce adds an extra element that is wundebar (wonderful)! 

This recipe calls for crystallized ginger. If you live in California, it will be hard to find, because there was a recall due to LEAD being in the product. Many sources vowed not to sell the product again, as part of a suit that was brought against them. However, some companies never responded to the suit, so their product could still be out there. Don't buy it at Target or Trader Joe's. I got mine at a health food store, so there really is no telling if it contains lead or not. I am hoping that it doesn't. All other ingredients should be easy to locate.

Photo by: Tiffiny Hargrave

Double-Ginger Gingerbread with Orange-Ginger Sauce

1-1/2          cups unbleached all purpose flour

1                teaspoon baking soda

1                teaspoon ground ginger

1                teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2             teaspoon salt

1/2             teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2             cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2             cup (packed) dark brown sugar

2                large eggs

1/4             cup robust-flavored (dark) molasses

2/3             cup buttermilk

1/4             cup chopped crystallized ginger

1/2             cup chilled heavy whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks

                  Orange-Ginger Sauce (see recipe)

Preheat over to 325ºF. Butter 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan; dust with flour. Sift flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt, and pepper into small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in molasses. Mix in half of dry ingredients, then buttermilk, then remaining dry ingredients. Fold in crystallized ginger.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake slightly in pan on rack.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cool completely. COver with foil and rewarm in 375ºF oven 10 to 15 minutes.

Cut warm cake into squares and place on plates. Top with whipped cream and Orange-Ginger Sauce and serve.

Orange-Ginger Sauce

3                large oranges

1                cup (about) fresh orange juice **I used 5 juice oranges**

6                Tablespoons sugar

1                cinnamon stick

3                Tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger

Using small sharp knife, cut off peel and white pith from oranges. Working over small bowl, cut between membranes or oranges, releasing segments. Transfer segments to medium bowl. Pour accumulated orange juice into measuring cup. Add enough orange juice to measure 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons. Transfer juice to medium saucepan. Add sugar and cinnamon. Cook over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and simmer until juice mixture is syrupy and reduced to 6 tablespoons, about 12 minutes. Pour over oranges. Add ginger. Cool.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Book in Review: The Suspicion at Sandition

(Or, the Disappearance of Lady Denham)

This is the seventh book in a series by Carrie Bebris. I have read the previous six and enjoyed them all. I was quite looking forward to this installment.

The Suspicion at Sandition find Mr. and Mrs. Darcy in the thick of it, once again.

Carrie Bebris extends my love of Jane Austen. Sandition was the last book that Jane Austen was working on, when she passed away. I have never read the 11 and a half chapters that Austen left behind, so this edition of the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries was all new to me.

I enjoyed the characters and I found myself trying hard to figure out the culprit. I am happy to say that I was kept guessing, but the two characters that I kept going back to were indeed part of the villainy!

Darcy and Elizabeth thought that they were going on vacation with their favorite cousins. They really should know better than to plan a normal family outing, by now. Things never go as planned. Of course I  thought that this was another great mystery. I liked that it all took place essentially in one night kind of like the board game/movie Clue.

You do not need to read the previous books in the series to read this edition, but I highly recommend that you do!

Photo by: Tiffiny Hargrave

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Book in Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Yet another book purchased with birthday money!

I had wanted to read this book for years. Someone I once worked with suggested it and it piqued my interest. Well, now I have finally read it. It is told, in its entirety through letters. Letters from an author (Juliet) to her closest friends and also from the author and her new friends in Guernsey. It takes place in London, at the end of World War II.

How does a group of people recover after such a war? Or do they recover at all? In this book you'll see how this group of people make each day count.

It was cute and fun. I laughed a lot and I enjoyed the characters.

Photo by: Tiffiny Hargrave

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Book in Review: The Shoemaker's Wife

Thanks to my friends who know that I love to read and support the nerd in me, by supplying gift cards to books stores, for my birthday!

Five words sum this book up: It is so, so sad.

The book has three part and each part is home to a particular sadness... a sadness that increases in each part. Though it was sad, I really enjoyed reading this book. I was captivated. It makes me want to visit Italy even more, now. It also reminded me that life is quick. Love those around you while you can.

A tragedy in Enza's life leads to a chance meeting with Ciro and so their story begins! Most of it takes place in America once circumstances bring Enza and Ciro over from Italy.

This book gave me a list of baked goods to try out, so it wasn't all sadness. Though I did cry a lot (not as much as Firefly Lane, last summer), I recommend this book!

Photo by: Tiffiny Hargrave

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Book in Review: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

I purchased this book with some birthday money that I received, well, for my birthday... in November!

I enjoyed the action and the mystery of the Pink Carnation. There was a bit of romance mixed in here, which I was not expecting, so be warned. This story takes place at the time of war between France and England. Circumstances require a young woman to leave England and return to her birth country of France. The journey over to France starts off this story. It is told through the writings of the main character, as a present day scholar is reading her journal. I found it to be fun!

Photo by: Tiffiny Hargrave

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Finding Vivian Maier

I recently learned about a woman. Her name was Vivian Maier. She was a nanny, but also a photographer. She was not known as a photographer until after her death.

The documentary 'Finding Vivian Maier' was really intriguing. Who was this woman? What was she all about? These questions are not answered all the way, because we can only learn from speculation via those who knew her and through her photographs. I recommend checking this documentary out.

Finding Vivian Maier The diddy from the cover.

When longtime nanny Vivian Maier died in 2009, she left behind thousands of photo negatives that she'd produced over the years. But the now famous shutterbug's unique body of work lay in a storage unit until an amateur historian uncovered the trove.

Rated NR
1 hr. 23 min.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Book in Review: A Mad, Wicked Folly (Plus a Recipe)

Image from

A Mad, Wicked Folly was so fun! I read it in less than 24 hours. I couldn't put it down! I was rooting Victoria on to freedom the whole way through. PC Fletcher is the bees knees and I just loved his character. I'm an avid baker and I was happy to see that the author included a recipe for Victoria's favorite Pikelets. I'll have to give them a go. The history involved in this story was top notch. There were several moments when I actually laughed out loud and some where I shouted 'Why!!!' or 'what??!!'. It certainly kept my attention. I highly recommend this book!

My book is currently on loan, so I did not get to make the Piklet recipe listed in the back of the book. However, I did find this recipe on Pinterest and they turned out well.

In case you do not know, Pikelets are essentially miniature pancakes. Who doesn't like pancakes?!


1          cup self-rising flour, sifted (or 150g)

1/2       teaspoon baking powder

1          banana, mashed

2          tablespoon honey, plus extra to serve

3/4       cup milk (or 180ml)

1          egg

yogurt and fresh berries, to serve

Place baking powder and flour in a bowl. Make a well in the center. Place banana, honey, milk, and egg in a separate bowl and whisk to combine. Gradually add the banana mixture to the flour and mix until smooth. Heat a lightly greased non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add tablespoonfuls of batter to the pan and cook in batches, for 2 minutes or until bubble appear on the surface. Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until a light golden color. Serve with yogurt, honey, and berries. (Or anything you would like, really. Like jam! Or nutella!) Makes 20. (I got 27)

Tip: Place pikelets in zip lock bag for up to two months. 

For the original recipe: Donna Hay's perfect Pikelets

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Quitting Life

Have you ever just wanted to quit life? No, not die, but to be free! To quit your job to move to another place and meet new people, taste new foods, learn a new language, see new things?! I feel that way almost every day. Obviously the grass is always greener on the other side, but I cannot help but dream about what my life would be like in another place.

I often feel like I am not quite living the life that I want, but I was raised by a single parent and I am often excruciatingly realistic. This is very hard for me because I am a creative soul and I love to travel and move about. In another life, I must have been a gypsy. I suppose this is the life of an adult. Going to work and paying bills, being an upstanding citizen. Isn't there more to life than working?!

I wonder how I can get the excitement of travel to show itself in my everyday life. Any suggestions? For now, I will dream of finishing my masters and paying off all student debt. That's kind of exciting, but it will take a lot of work.

Sound off in the comments to share how you keep the spunk in your day to day comings and goings. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Bon Appetit Desserts: Glazed Lime Cake

Hello. I made this cake about two weeks ago. I had a week off from my masters program, so I have been reading as much as possible. If I have a moment, I'll post a review of those 5 books. For now, you are going to have to be okay with a recipe.

This is probably one of the easiest cakes that you are going to make from the Bon Appetit book. I tasted it when it had been cooling for a while and I did not like it. To me, it tasted a bit salty. I am guessing that that has to do with the self-rising flour. However, after it sat for a day, I tried it again and I liked it. The salty taste had pretty much gone away. If you do not enjoy the taste of lime, do not make this cake. It is just a lime in the disguise of a cake. It is tart and delicious and a little bit sweet. Yum!

Glazed Lime Cake

If you do not have self-rising flour, use all purpose flour instead and add 1-3/4 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

I'm going to try the recipe again with out the self-rising flour.

3/4        cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature

2-1/2    cups powdered sugar, divided

2          large eggs, room temperature

1/4       cup milk

1-1/3    cups self-rising flour

4          large limes (I had to use 6)

6          tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar in large bowl until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in milk, then flour. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 33 minutes.

Meanwhile, finely grate enough lime peel to measure 1 tablespoon. Halve limes; squeeze enough juice  to measure 6 tablespoons. Stir lime peel, lime juice and 6 tablespoons sugar in small bowl until sugar dissolves. Set lime syrup aside.

Using skewer, poke holes all over cake. Spoon 2-1/2 tablespoons lime syrup into another small bowl; reserve for glaze. Spoon all remaining lime syrup evenly over hot cake. Cool cake completely in pan on rack.

Whisk remaining 1 cup powdered sugar into reserved 2-1/2 tablespoon lime syrup; drizzle glaze over cake. Let stand 1 hour. Cut cake into squares.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Bon Appetit Desserts: Parsnip Spice Cake with Ginger-Cream Cheese Frosting

I don't think that I have ever eaten a parsnip. I may have mentioned before, I am a very picky eater. I didn't want to try this cake, because the parsnip put me off a bit. However, my nerves were settled when I realized they're just like white carrots. When I began shredding the parsnips, a beautiful and subtle spicy scent filled the air. At that point, I was sold on the parsnips. By the end of the shredding, I looked like I had been shaping surfboards. There were white pieces of parsnip all over the place!

I suggest that you allow this to set for 24 hours. At first bite, the parsnips were still a bit toothsome. After I allowed the cake to chill for 24 hours, everything was soft and delicious! This cake certainly is spicy and I like it!

Parsnip Spice Cake with Ginger-Cream Cheese Frosting

1-1/2    cups unbleached all purpose flour

1          cup sugar

1          tablespoon ground ginger

2          teaspoons baking powder

1/4       teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4       teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4       teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4       teaspoon ground allspice

3/4       teaspoon ground cloves

3          large eggs

1/2       cup canola oil or other vegetable oil

1/2       cup whole milk

1-1/2    teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

2          cups (packed) shredded peeled parsnips (about 3 large)

1/2       cup walnuts, toasted, chopped

4          ounces Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, room temperature

2          tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

2          teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger

3          cups (about 12 ounces) powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan. Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, ground ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon salt, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves in large bowl; whisk to combine. Whist eggs, oil, milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in medium bowl to combine. Pour egg mixture over dry ingredients; stir until just combined. Stir in parsnips and walnuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on rack.

Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in fresh ginger and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until frosting is smooth. Spread over cake.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.