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SS moves in….

30 Aug

… for a couple days.

For the past two years, SS has been planning a major renovation to his apt. This project was in the works long before we met, and has him very excited.

The past six months have been interspersed with architect meetings, permit applications, visits to kitchen showrooms, samples from Home Depot and god knows what other legal dealings he had to take care of to get his dream abode on the runway. Oh, and for the past few months he’s been living in a place full of holes that the contractor requested he create so he could figure out if the architect’s plans were feasible. (You should have seen me bounce out of the bed when I was there alone and heard a scamper in the wall. Ooooooh boy!)

So after years of anticipation, today’s the day! SS left his apt his morning never to see it the same again!

We got up early to finish the last of the emptying — moving the mattress out back and the rest of his belongings into my car — and as he got ready for work, three “gorillas” showed up armed to demolish the place. (Apparently they were the voiceovers for the “Snatch” cast.)

As luck would have it, he’s got a few weeks of travel planned so finding a place to stay isn’t necessary, except for the next couple nights. And I’m the lucky one! (No, I’m not being sarcastic!)

I am also the unlucky one. His trips and my cross-country road trip overlap so I won’t be seeing my SS for a good three and half weeks or so. I think subconsciously it’s taken a toll on me.

Travel, no matter how well planned, always comes with a small black hole: There is always the potential for an unknown outcome. It’s this unknown possibility that triggers my desire to visit somewhere new. But it also instills fear. A good kind of fear. The kind that leaves you sitting on the edge of your seat wide-eyed craving more.

I guess from that perspective, it’s not completely abnormal to feel a sense of stress about watching the one you love fly off one way, while you drive the other.

I am going to miss him. But at the same time I couldn’t be more excited for his vacation. Having lived abroad, I understand the “travel-bug” and what it can do to a person when left unfulfilled. It’s not pretty! It’s the reason that I’ll be singing in the car with my little brother somewhere amid the rocky peaks of the West when SS’s plane touches back down in NY. We may be off on different journeys for the next month, but his sense of adventure is one of the things that draws me to him.

It’s a trip he’s be anticipating for a long time. Just like the renovation, it was part of him before we met!

And just like his brand-new shiny apartment, I’ll awaiting his return.

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Birthday Cupcakes: Semi-Successful

21 Jul

So a little over two weeks ago, while everyone in the USofA was out and about enjoying the sun on the Monday after the 4th (bank holiday for you foreigners), I was at the airport waving good-bye to my SS.

My SS is a computer programmer for an big unnamed company. And along with being so brilliant comes important responsibilities around the world. I’m not sure the travel is always necessary, but there it nothing wrong with exploiting your company for a bit of foreign face time. (See why I love him?) So for the past two weeks he’s been in Asia sharing his knowledge, eating yummy sushi and traveling to dangerous places.

SS's birthday presents!! (Yes, that is a stuffed cat!)

He comes home today. And you know what’s even better? Tomorrow is his birthday.

I took advantage of his lack of presence and planned some little surprises. For example, sitting on his kitchen table are an array of wrapped pressies. (I never wrap pressies; I use cardboard and newspaper. It killed me to BUY paper that is inevitably gonna be thrown into the garbage, but I thought he deserved at least one nicely wrapped celebration before introducing him to my ‘save the planet’ ways.)

The other part of my surprise, besides dinner reservations at a delicious place that, get this you’ll never believe it, HE’S NEVER BEEN TO … (This is no small feat people, he’s been evvvverywhere!) … was CUPCAKES!

I came up with this fantasticly creative idea to make him a variety of fun flavors. The tasting menu was as follows. (All were with chocolate cake.)

S’more Cupcakes: Graham cracker inside with marshmallow frosting
Fluffer Nutter Cupcakes: Peanut butter chips inside with marshmallow frosting
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes: Jelly-filled with peanut butter frosting
Nutty Cupcakes: Crushed nuts inside with peanut butter icing
Minty Fresh Cupcakes: Crush star mints inside with butter cream icing
Birthday Cake Cupcakes: Chocolate cake with butter cream icing and sprinkles.

Now imagine a dozen of those. Appetizing right? Yeah, well, didn’t work out as planned.

First off, I used a chocolate cake recipe that I didn’t read thoroughly until in the process of putting it together. It was a recipe for Smore cupcakes that required a graham cracker/sugar baked bottom and then a layer of cake on top. I was making just the cake part and it oddly called for “1 cup of boiling water.” I have no idea WHY it called for boiling water, but as the batter looked ace without it, I didn’t add it.

Was this a mistake? I have no idea!

What I do know is that you can’t baked crushed mint into this recipe. Instead of growing to be fluffy and mushroom topped, like the plain ones, or small and solid, like the graham cracker stuffed batter, these collapsed on themselves.

Mint-infused cupcake failure.

At this point I was losing confidence and stamina. My baking partner AAA — who was ridiculously sweet to help me bake for my SS, and is solely responsible for the icings — was her typical optimistic self, attempting to focus me on the positives — and eat her way through the failures.

The next batch I tried sprinkling the crushed mint on top mid-way through baking. This didn’t work either. They instantly went from having a healthy dome top to being sucked into the black hole of the cupcake tin. Argh. The other ones that proved uncooperative were the PB&Js. Attempting to correct my mistake from last week’s PB&J mishap (all the jelly slid to the bottom when baking), I put the jelly in half way through the baking process in hope that the bottom was baked enough to support it. I have no idea if that worked or not but they didn’t seal over on top in the way I had hoped.

There are holes in the PB&J cupcakes.

At this point I was stomping around the kitchen, spastically shaking and moaning about my baking failure. I was at a loss. Should I bother bringing any to the city for him? Should I take a few? And if I do that, should I ice them before I go? Should I bring the icing and do it tomorrow? Should I just pick up Billy’s on the way over? He has no idea I’m going to see him tonight. But even though he has no idea cupcakes were meant to be waiting for him upon his return home, I felt like I was letting him down by giving up so easily. And after 2.5 a half weeks of planning, if my surprise failed in any way it would just break my little heart.  I’m not the type to give up and, well, he knows that. So I persevered.

In the end I salvaged six that agreed with my oven. There were three S’more-themed cakes and three Fluffer Nutter, which were just turned into Peanut Butter and were iced with PB instead of marshmallow. I would have liked to decorate a few plain ones too but they grew so big, they wouldn’t fit in the carrying pan. I’m guessing the boiling water may have changed that outcome somehow.

Either way, the final product looks pretty nice.

Half a dozen delic cakes are better than none.

This also left me with a challenge. That is to master the art of baking mint into cupcakes. But in the meantime, I am definitely going to make the collapsible cupcakes again. This time in a bowl in which they can be served to guests with a big spoonful of ice cream in the middle. Yummm… now we’re talking.

As for the failed ones, they stand at home waiting to be enjoyed. And the handicapped ones, well, the ladies of the house seemed to like them just the way they were. (Seriously, this was taken like 20 minutes after they came out of the oven!)

Mint-infused cupcakes flavor-success.

Now I’m scheduling this to post just as I should be surprising SS at the airport. But if he somehow catches this post before my face, WELCOME BACK SS!! Now come home and eat!!!

I heart Gordon Ramsay

20 Jun

Who is my favorite chef?

Anyone…?

If you didn’t read the hed on this entry, it’s Gordon Ramsay! I love the loud, brash, foul-mouthed kitchen guru. I don’t, and won’t, watch Hell’s Kitchen, but that’s because of my distaste for reality TV — I have no grievance with the host. I do love Kitchen Nightmares (the British version of course; I love when he visits quaint pubs in the middle of the English countryside).

Someone once asked me, “If you could marry three famous men, who would they be?” My number one? Gordon Ramsay. A girl’s gotta eat, no? (If I remember correctly, my number two was David Beckham, but purely for his thighs, as I’ve had more interesting convos with my dog than he offers in interviews.)

Anyways… I love Gordon. I love his recipes; I love his personality.

So you can imagine my excitement when SS planned another fancy dinner date night, this time at… [drumroll]… Gordon Ramsay at The London.

I squeaked like a lil’ girl when he told me, and secretly prayed that the master himself might happen to be in NY and decide to pop in for a visit during our meal. (A girl’s gotta dream, no?)

Our meal was FABULOUS! And not only because we were we sitting in my food-idol’s NY haven, but the tasting menu sported all my favs — scallops, lamb, cheese (brillat savarin, which I had no idea was cheese until then), and I even loved the foie gras. It was fantastic!

SS wasn’t as impressed as he was with our Jean George adventure. I can agree that it was a close call, and if eaten side-by-side, based on taste alone, I may agree with him. But I’m only human, and my taste buds knew they were eating something [marketed] by Gordon Ramsay. Sigh.

I have very few extravagant desires. Eating at Gordon’s restaurant was one of them. Thank you SS.

With all that said, I must offer some criticism as well (I am a Negotiator personality; it is only fair): Work on the cocktail menu — more vodka mixes — and get an interior designer in there, pronto!

They gave us a copy of the menu as a souvenir.

Bride-to-be goes to the Kentucky Derby

4 May

Someone went to the Kentucky Derby…
Nope, not me; it was creative odds n’ ends Bride-to-Be…

Let’s Follow the Bride and her Derby Delight.
(I am having a hard time pronouncing Derby the American way; I keep wanting to say “Dar-Bee” as in the English Midlands city.)

Still Following the Bride…

27 Apr

Our “Follow The Bride” has posted her second post…

Follow the Bride: Meet the Bride and Groom

Let’s find out a bit more about the soon-to-be Mr and Mrs…

It’s the little things…

23 Apr

I strongly believe everything happens for a reason… even the little things. I believe I have a little karmic guardian angel who makes sure I have exactly what I need when I need it most.

I don’t carry a wallet; I have a black leather wristlet that I store all my wallet-type items. Any day of the week you’ll find it stuffed with a pile of change, a wad of CCs and loads of receipts.

In the midst of last night’s packing panic — literally, I was on the brink of tears, as I always am when I pack — I started cleaning out all the crap and unnecessary bank receipts that had accumulated. It was then that I stumbled upon a small piece of green index card with markered handwriting on it. It read: “I love u more than I can fit on here.”

Instantly, my scrunched-up, on-the-verge-of-self-murder face broke into a giddy smile. When SS snuck this in there I have no idea, but why I hadn’t found it till that moment was clear: I was in a self-critical mood, iced with exhaustion, and really needed a pick-me-up.

I LOVE surprises. And although I appreciate extravagant acts, what tickles me the most are the small thoughtful gestures. Cards, e-mails, notes, flowers… they all speak to my heart with sincere meaning and affection.

SS’s thoughtfulness shines through everything he does…

actions always speak louder than words.

To love or not to love…

22 Apr

I’ve been pondering this post for, well, almost seven weeks. One of my favorite bloggers, capclassique, invited one of her avid followers, Santaslil (yes, all bloggers talk in code) to guest blog. His entry “Perfect Mate” got me thinking—big time, as you can tell from my massive commentary on the entry.

I don’t pretend to know the first thing about Star Trek so I can’t comment on the message implied by the referenced scene. But when it comes to relationships, I’ve ridden the ups and downs—and even been through a few muddy trenches—so I think I have a valid opinion on the matter at hand.

Obvious by my initial commentary, I was strongly opposed to the concept that love was a decision you could commit to. How can you control or decide on a feeling? You either connect with someone or you don’t, it’s not up to you who that person is.

This made me consider my past relationships and what it is that held me there—or didn’t. Sometimes I had made a decision to love thinking it was the best course for me. At other times it was an emotional connection that drew me in and I ignored my subconscious telling me it was a bad move. Therefore, I couldn’t comprehend how anyone could explain or stand behind this idea of commitment. And being cursed with a genetic handicap of indecisiveness, I wasn’t sure if I, personally, would ever be capable of such a feat.

In the entry, Santaslil quotes M. Scott Peck in reference to his ex: “Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional. The person who truly loves, does so because of a decision to love. This person has made a commitment to be loving, whether or not the loving feeling is present.”

The discussion between me and Santaslil revolved around the balance of commitment and inexplicable attraction. And I couldn’t even commit to an opinion on the matter. I wanted to believe that making a decision to love someone was possible; but it went against my long-trusted confidence in intuition and emotion to guide me through life’s toughest decisions—something that may sound like a cop-out to those of rational mind, but for me, my subconscious knows best and has never led me astray. My decisions to listen or ignore it on the other hand…

One of his responses brought a lot of insight. He said: “The interesting thing is, passion alone, can pass for love, just as intimacy can. Either of these separately, or combined can trick us into thinking we have love, but it is only the passage of time that will help us reach that point where true love is achieved…by committing.”

Weeks later this concept had receded to the back of my mind. SS and I were talking pretty seriously about our thoughts, feelings and some of our past experiences that turned us into what we are today. I know little about SS’s past relationships, and contrary to previous relationships, I’m ok with it. It took a while to understand, but I realized it is because I don’t have anything to worry about. In the past, my “e-sense”—that’s what I named my intuition—was always on its guard, and for good reason. None of the pain or discomfort I experienced in relationships ever showed up undetected—it was ignored.

I feel no reason to be on my guard… because there is none. For the first time, my conscience and intuition have made peace. I am with a man who I feel an emotional and inexplicable (“always trust the inexplicable” is my motto) connection to. And at the same time, I have a deep respect and admiration for who he was as a person and what he stands for. He is a good man. (And the first thing he’ll disagree with in this entry is my referring to him as a man.)

I remember looking at him and thinking, “I am going to love this man.” And like an internal smack to the brain, I understood what it meant to commit to love. And it wasn’t a hard decision to make; I was listening to what my heart wants and what my brain thinks is a good idea. And I feel lucky that they finally agree.

Back to the Star Trek example: They weren’t so lucky, but at least the alien-chick (I’m so clueless about this show!) was able to find a way to reconcile her conflict, kinda. If she couldn’t bond with the man she was destined to appease, than she had at least experienced both at some point in her life. Right? Better to have bonded and then married someone else, than to… oh whatever.

I think I am still torn on the topic, but I’ve accepted that that’s normal. Loving someone is a combination of attraction and commitment. Without both, you are doomed to go nowhere. The attraction holds you together when your willpower is weak, but that commitment is what helps you drive on through the obstacles that plop themselves in front of your couple-dom.

Eh?

Well, those are my thoughts at least. Capclassique has her own opinion on the matter as well: “Choosing to Love.” And for me, what stands out in this entry is not her decision to love versus falling in love—which she makes clear. It’s her attitude. Being open to love will bring it into your life… whether it’s a choice or a free-fall!