Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cake, cake, cake, cake

By the time you read this I will be hanging out with my bestie Alexis who is flying into spend Thanksgiving with us. The girls are super excited but not nearly as excited as I am. And seeing as how I will be spending all my time over the holidays enjoying her company and stuffing my face I thought I'd schedule a post for you.

I just finished reading Beautiful Redemption. It is always bitter sweet to end a series. Especially a series as amazing as this one. Check out my review on goodreads here. This completion brings me back on track with my Reading Goal for 2012:

After my burn out last year in October I decided to not push my luck and just got with an easy one book a week. I'm right on track. How are you all doing? Any favorites that I must read before the end of the year? These are the three books vying for my attention right now. I'm still unsure which one I will pick to read first.

And since it's almost thanksgiving and since that means pumpkin pie and since I despise pumpkin pie, I'm going to share with what I made for "pumpkin pie day" at work. Last year I made this delicious chocolate layered pumpkin torte:

That was fun, my first go around I forgot to add the flour. The year before that I made my absolute favorite go to when you want to impress people layered pumpkin cake. Sorry no picture but here's the link to the recipe. You use brown sugar to make the whipped cream frosting... Trust me it's amazing.

This year I wanted to be lazy and do something easy. And thanks to pinterest I had options. I saw a Better than Sex Pumpkin Cake pin floating around and was pretty set on trying that. Better than Sex Cake other wise known as Skor cake, is amazing. You use a whole can of sweetened condensed milk, how could it be anything but amazing? I started out with this recipe from Something Swanky. However as I assembled the cake I was immediately put off by the consistency of the batter. The pumpkin and the dry cake mix alone looked like some that would bake up to be dry and dense and completely unappealing. So I googled easy pumpkin cake and noted that several other recipes said to still use the eggs that the original boxed cake mixed called for. Then because I was feeling wild I threw in the spices that make up pumpkin pie spice. No measurements just shaking a little here and there. Like I said WILD.

The result was pretty darn good. For someone who doesn't like pumpkin this cake was great. It had a VERY light pumpkin flavor and despite the entire can of sweetened condensed milk and entire tub of cool whip it wasn't too sweet. 

1 box yellow cake mix
1 small can pumpkin puree (14.5 oz)
3 eggs beaten
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
1 - 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 - 8 oz. tub cool whip
1 -2 Heath bars crushed

Mix together the cake mix, the pumpkin puree, the eggs, and the spice.
Pour batter into a well greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake at 350º according to the directions for a 9x13 cake on the cake mix box.
Using a chopstick poke holes all over the top of the cake (The original recipe links to a post that has "great step by step photos for this part". Really? You're just stabbing the cake).
Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the cake, filling the holes. Refrigerate until ready to serve. It's best to let it sit over night to really soak up that sweetened condensed milk.
Before serving spread the cool whip over top of cake. Sprinkle on the heath bits. 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The end of a saga...

Sniff sniff sob... The last Twilight movie came out last week and true to my obsessive book nerd form I bought tickets for the movie when they went on sale way back on October 1st. We avoided the crazed screaming crying teenagers by going on a Sunday evening instead of braving the midnight showing (just a tip for you Utah people, Sunday evening is the BEST day to go to the movies).

I wouldn't be me if I didn't have some Twilight paraphernalia. So at our monthly craft day I made a Breaking Dawn shirt. 

"I came to witness. I stay to fight." It wasn't in the movie but it was one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite vampires in the book.

We had a great big group of 12 and my awesome sister made us swag. Blood bites, cake pops, and Breaking Dawn themed pins. My nerd posse if fierce. 

Yes, I did take Beautiful Redemption to the movie with me. I literally don't go any where without a book. And one of the highlights of the evening was when the trailers came on. The first one was for Beautiful Creatures. Here's one of my weird traits cute quirks, I don't watch trailers. At least not for movies I'm really excited about seeing. So I covered my ears, closed my eyes, and sang to myself. I really hope my coworker who came to the movies with us wasn't too freaked out by my bizarre behavior. Then when we thought the City of Bones trailer was about to start I was ASSAULTED from behind by my sister. She grabbed my face and tried to pin my head to the seat so I couldn't look away while yelling "watch it!". Luckily for me, unfortunately for her, they did not show the City of Bones trailer. 
A quick movie review. It was good, probably the best of the 5. You probably won't believe me but Kristen Stewart actually had various facial expressions and conveyed emotions. The CGI Renesmee was creepy as hell - as in super creepy, gross, not cute at all. I had to work hard not to laugh too loudly when they first showed her on screen. I don't want to give away any spoilers but at one point in the movie I nearly walked out. I was seething mad at the deviation from the book. I mean ridiculous, no way you could even pretend this happened, holy SHIT that did not just happen deviation. I think the people around me were scared because I was radiating rage. But in the end I stay and they did an excellent job of working the deviation into the story in a believable way. Pretty much everyone in the theater exploded into chatter when we figured out what was going one. My exact words were "well that was unacceptable." But over all I like it a lot. And I want to go back now that I know what's going to happen so I can actually pay attention and not be distracted by my book nerd indignation. 

So who else went and watched Breaking Dawn? Thoughts? 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book Nerd Parenting

Today was a good day to be a book nerd. I'm reading the wonderful Beautiful Redemption, the fourth and the final book in the Caster Chronicles by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia. It's really a wonderful series for YA paranormal fans.

 I'm also listening to The Eyre Affair which is a fun mystery crime novel for literature loves. Someone is stealing characters right out of Jane Eyre.

I picked up the LONG awaited spin off series of Fever, called Iced. I absolutely cannot wait to start reading this.

I also hosted a book club meeting: The Scarlet Letter held at Red Ginger. It was probably the best book club meeting I've been to in months. A good group, who talked, had read the book, and were fun to hang out with.  It helps that the food was delicious.

But the best part of today was that the naughties got to go to their first book signing. You really can't expect children with a mother like me, an aunt like my sister (who made the dress from the book Matched just for the release party), and a grandma like my mom to not be book nerds.  They have no choice but to become book nerds even if I have to beat them... with a copy of Wuthering Heights. The signing was held at the lovely Kings English bookstore. Rosemary Wells is the author of the Max and Ruby series and was there promoting her newest book, Max and Ruby's Treasure Hunt.

I unfortunately had to be at that silly place called work so I wasn't able to go. But my amazing mom got the answer to every parents burning question: Where are Max and Ruby's parents?! Mrs. Wells explained that the characters were based on her own kids, 5 and 1. And her five year old was always bossing the one year old around, telling him how to act and what to say and what to do. And she's be listening from another room, which is why you never see the parents in the story. The girls were super excited when they got home and told me all about how they met Max but Ruby couldn't come, and how they met Rosemary Wells who's the author of the Max and Ruby books, and how she read them a story and signed their new books. It was a proud moment for this nerd parent.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Boston Cream Cupcake = Heaven

Last week my co-worker, Amber, and I walked over to the cupcake truck. Yes the cupcake truck. The wonderful people over at So Cupcake (you might remember them from our annual birthday cupcake excursions) drive around town delivering and selling sugary goodness. Bless them. I had their Boston cream cupcake and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since.

Fast forward to today.  A friend of mine pinned a Boston cream cupcake and I took that as a sign that I just had to make them. I decided to at least pretend that they were - maybe not healthy - but not as bad for you as they could be. I started with the Joy of Baking vanilla cupcake recipe. But made a few adjustments:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup of apple sauce 
1/3 cup granulated white sugar, scant
1/3 cup Swerve
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla paste
1 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flouer
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk

The apple sauce gives them a nice chewy texture and obviously cuts down on the fat. I won the Swerve from the amazing Darla over at and have used it a few times. So far we've only tried half and half and you can't taste the difference at all.

Cream the butter, apple sauce, sugar, Swerve. Add one egg at a time. Add vanilla paste. Sift dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and milk to the butter mixture, alternating (I had three little helpers for this! Baby L really seemed to enjoy baking with the girls). Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Let the cupcakes cool completely. Be sure to take them out of the cupcake pan. I've noticed when I use apple sauce and then leave them in the pan the cupcakes tend to get soggy.

Make some chocolate ganache. I used the Joy of Baking recipe and it was the PERFECT consistency. I will never ever use another ganache recipe. I only made half and it was just the right amount for 12 cupcakes. 

Next (here's where I cheated) I mixed two packets for ready made snack pack vanilla pudding with equal amounts of cool whip. If I were really trying to impress you I would have made a vanilla custard with real whip cream but I was lazy. Be careful when you fold in the cool whip. Next cut out a hole in your cupcakes and fill them with the pudding mixture.

Once your ganache has cooled to a spreadable consistency you can top the cupcakes. I cut the very top off of the center part of the cupcake and put it back over the filling. You don't have to do this. 

All that's left is to try and eat just one. I really loved this because the cupcake was moist and not overly sweet. And the cool whip mixed into the pudding made it light and delicious. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

I'm Adorkable

I'm a self proclaimed nerd. A book nerd more specifically. One of my book-y obsession is the Hunger Games Trilogy. If you follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook you've been bombarded blessed with my frequent Hunger Games quotes/mentions/fanaticisms. I'd say sorry but I'm not I love it. Two weeks ago in true nerdy fashion my sister threw a Hunger Games party. I mean really what can you expect from people who celebrate Harry Potter's birthday?

This past weekend the first movie in the series came out and of course we bought tickets the day they went on sale a month ago. I worked very hard to keep my expectations in check (no one wanted another Breaking Dawn fiasco) but I couldn't help being uber-excited all day Friday. Thursday night I raced over to Marissa's house and made myself a new ultra-nerd shirt to wear. Honestly I looked like the Hunger Games marketing team mated with a DIYer and their child puked all over me.

"My Patronus is a Mockingjay" shirt, Katniss side braid, Mockingjay necklace, Hunger Games Electrify nail polish by China Glaze, and my "I shop the Hob" bag.

At the theater they had costumes from the movie.

Our group afterwards:

And of course, I couldn't resist the super cute necklace they were selling.

So my review is going to be in three parts. SPOILERS GET MORE IN DEPTH THE FURTHER YOU READ SO BEWARE. I didn't watch any trailers because I like to go into movies with a clear mind. If you'd prefer to know nothing about it stop reading.

For those who haven't read the book or seen the movie.
Go read the dang books!! They are amazing. Obviously the movie was not as good as the book but I must say they did a really good job of capturing the spirit of the book and the personalities/emotions of the main characters. Unlike the Twilight movies they found actors who could convey emotions. There was a ton of action, a little romance, and a handful of comedy. I really enjoyed the movie. My friend Sarah who has not read the books LOVE it and picked up on some of the more subtle ideas that I thought would have been hard to grasp if you hadn't read the books first.

For those who have read the books but haven't seen the movie.
Go in with LOW expectations. Let's all be honest with ourselves 99.99% of the time a movie is never as good as a book. It just can't be. With time limitations, the inability to be inside a character's head, and the limitations of special effects books will almost always win. With that said this movie stayed true to the message, theme, feel, direction, everything of the books. Yes there were changes, yes there were things left out, but overall it was wonderful. 

For those who have read the book and seen the movie or don't care about spoilers.
A few things I didn't like. The opening scene was completely made up. I HATED it while watching the movie but have come to terms that it was an acceptable way to introduce the Hanging Tree song. I was and still am really annoyed that they completely ignore the food issue. "District 12 where you can starve to death in safety." Yet on the train to the Capitol she completely ignores the food. I thought that was an important part of the story that was completely left out and could have easily been added with very little time taken up. I didn't expect a metal cornucopia and I was sad but understood why they didn't do the mutts' eyes. I feel like there was something else that really bugged me but I can't remember now.

What I did like. I really enjoyed the behind the scenes with the gamemakers and with the conversations with Snow.  The actors were excellent, but we needed more Cinna. I totally cried at the Reaping and when Rue died. I appreciated that they didn't make it as gory as they could have but still conveyed all that violence and devastation. Stanley Tucci was PHENOMENAL as Caesar!!!  I thought the end scene between Snow and Katniss where they discuss the pin was great, I can't remember if that was in the book or not, but it really started to bring the Mockingjay into focus. There was as good balance of action, character development and plot. And of course the most important to me, it stayed true to the books.

What other's hated but I didn't mind. How the pin came into the story. Everyone who I talked to who didn't love the movie was put off by the way they introduced the Mockingjay pin. In my opinion it wasn't necessary to introduce a new character just to give her the pin. But my sister and friends were annoyed that she was given the pin by a vendor in the Hob instead of just already having it. They were also annoyed that Rue wasn't developed more, but I would almost argue this as people who didn't read the book and watched the movie still felt affection for her just maybe not as strong. Everyone will forever compare YA books/movies to the Harry Potter series which I think will never be a fair comparison but that's a topic for another time.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pi Day

Let your nerd flag fly high kids because today is Pi Day!! 

π (sometimes written pi) is a mathematical constant that is the ratio of any Euclidean[1] circle's circumference to its diameterπ is approximately equal to 3.14. Many formulae in mathematics, science, and engineering involve π, which makes it one of the most important mathematical constants.[2] For instance, the area of a circle is equal to π times the square of the radius of the circle. (

And because we are proud nerds in this family March 14th, or 3/14, or 3.14 is the day we eat pie!

For our main course I busted out a Steak and Mushroom Guinness pie. this is also a nod to The Eagle and Child, where I had my first steak pie when I was at Oxford, and was also Tolkein and Lewis' old haunt. 

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

I got fancy and carved a π into the puff pastry. Unfortunately because of how soupy the filling was it didn't puff the way it was supposed to. No worries it still tasted amazing!
And you can't celebrate properly with out desert so I made a delicious chocolate pie! I baked up a crust, made some delicious pudding and topped it with cool whip and chocolate shavings!!

ETA (thanks Angi)