Clean up

Just prior to new years I have decided it is time to clean up my room at home. It's not a resolution, just a job to be done and a big one at that. Let me explain to you something that perhaps I left out, I'm a bit of a pack rat. There I said it. I mostly attribute that to being an art student and never knowing what you might need or when. Thus results in the hording of the most odd items (I won't go in to detail). But beyond the potential art supplies, I like knick knacks and cute things and anything with a pleasant memory attached or that I might have picked up at a yard sale with my mother. To top it off I have a difficult time getting rid of things either for sentimental reason or the fact that at some point there may be a use for whatever item. I won't subject you to the horror that is my closet but rather show you a collage that has been on my wall since high school, and yes indeed my walls are bright pink and florescent green. You're jealous don't deny it. 


So I've taken this break to dive into some reading that I've been meaning to do all semester. I can't properly justify books for pleasure if I'm not even doing my readings for school. Sadly this deprives me of a great deal of reading. Luckily I've brought some books home with me and received a few for Christmas. That as you can guess includes The Hunger Games trilogy. Which I successfully finished between Christmas and today, meaning I found them very enjoyable. They aren't the most quality books that you will pick up and they aren't the most original either but the characters are lovable and it's easy to become attached. I've started a new book today and I'm already missing them. I hope to work at least five more books into the rest of my break. 


Jenny's Birthday

To a lot of people December 26th signals Boxing Day. People rush to the malls, stand in horrible lines, deal with a crazy volume of people all for some bargains. This is something I've never understood as I have never experienced this boxing day business. Today is a much more important day as it is my one and only sister's birthday. She is one of the sweetest most lovely people ever and without a doubt the best sister in the world. Featured above is an image of her from one of my many art projects which she always was an amazing help with.


Hello...Good Morning

Merry Christmas! I cannot quite believe that today is Christmas but alas the presents and stockings were out this morning so it must be true. The usual Christmas routine has been shuffled around a bit this year with people getting older and babies existing. It's not a bad thing, just an adjustment. The usual Christmas morning would feature me trying desperately to sleep until 6 am, waking jenny up then us proceeding to getting our stockings and watch the original Grinch cartoon in the basement. Then we would visit mom and eat the cinnamon roll Christmas tree and fruit tray/make a little noise so the rest of the family would get up so we could open gifts which generally takes until around 9 am. In my house we have equal number of gifts and we open them one at a time guessing and joking and having fun. So this year we will postponing the festivities until Jenny's arrival with Aaron and Rosalyn, oh and I slept in, way in. I may have woken up at 4, 6, 7, 8 each time going back to sleep and then finally deciding it was time to get up.



It has been quite some time now that I have wanted to make Parisian Macarons and today I successfully achieved that goal. I made traditional almond macarons with my mother. I did make some substitutions, though I would not consider them unwise. Specifically, I ground almond slivers for my almond flour and ground my normal white sugar for super fine sugar.
 All in all it turned out splendidly, my macarons rose, had feet and a very small number cracked a bit. I filled them with a chocolate ganache, both random recipes from Martha Stewart which can be found here and here. Oh yes for the ganache I deviated in the order of things as I melted the chocolate a bit prior and may have used whip cream but all's well that ends well. So I highly recommend this recipe. As for the rest of my day I spent almost the entirety of it in the kitchen preparing for Christmas and the days following with my mother.


So my dearest Abed departed for his homeland this evening which has made me a bit melancholy and lonely but alas I will survive. I've also headed up north to my home where I will spend the holiday with my family. Hopefully I can use this time to relax, catch up on some arts and crafts maybe throw a little baking in there. 


As you know yesterday was Abed and my Christmas, it was very cute and full of sweet gifts for both him and I. You can see mine above: egg tarts, a adorable mug, a soft watch, comfy leggings, charcoal pencils and a small canvas. I apologize for the crappy photo but what can I say I'm a bit lazy at this current moment, clearly since I neglected to photograph Abed's gifts. As an aside I think you can tell if someone is a good gift giver by a number of different methods. The two I go by are whether they can pick out something that is your style (check) and or give you something that you didn't even know that you needed or wanted (check). On a similar note I may have purchased some boots for myself for Christmas, from my lovely mother. I am unable to wear them yet as they must first be wrapped and given to me but I'm very excited and can't wait until then to show them to you. So I present to you my cowboy boots! Yes I went a bit of a different direction but if you trace my steps back to the original five million dollar boots they did have a cowboy inspiration. 


Abed and Rachel Christmas
So I've just finished wrapping my gifts for Abed as you can see above. No you do not get a better shot of my crappy wrapping skills, I'm not Lisa (my sister in law and master gift wrapper). I may have spent my time wrapping on my bed listening to Lily Allen and eating a mountain of bubble gum so I will blame these factors for the poor job I did.
Originally our Christmas was to be tomorrow but we bumped it up and now it's tonight which means I must tidy the apartment, turn on the Christmas lights and watch the rest of that episode I was going to....


The glorious day is almost upon us! You may think that I am referring to Christmas but no I'm talking about the day when I can once again feast upon the sugary goodness that is candy. Luckily in the past few days I've been holding myself over with the gumballs which you see above. I chew one till it loses its flavor, spit it out and put a new one in. This cycle repeats for quite a while as the gum lasts about 30 seconds max. 


I just realized I missed my minimum post quota of the day which is only one. I got distracted by some photoshopping of Abed's grad photo and now I feel sad. I'll apologize to you with an image and promise two posts for tomorrow... or rather today.  But for now I present to you the Defenders, otherwise known as my sister/best friend Jenny, the husband Aaron and baby Rosalyn. Enjoy the cuteness and pretty fall leaves. 


 Cookie Times

So I promised cookies and here you have them. These are the jars of cookies in my living room at home. You have from left to right 1. Chocolate Chip 2. Oatmeal 3. Oatmeal with Raisins 4. Crinkles 5. Ginger Snaps 6. Sugar Cookies 7. White Chocolate Macadamia Nut 8. Gingerbread Cookies. As a note these do not include any bars such as lemon squares and skor bar squares...Its basically just pure delicious temptation at your fingertips. 



So today my family acquired our Christmas tree. To do this a few things are necessary, firstly the entire family must attend. Secondly they must be bundled to the max to survive the extended exposure to the winter weather. And then we must be left in the Christmas tree field until we are all cold and disgruntled enough that we finally decide on a tree. This can take several hours depending. This year was a bit unusual due to the warmer weather, the addition of babies and significant others. The only sad part was the lack of snow. Usually with about a foot and a half of the fluffy stuff we can have snow ball fights, tackle people into the snow and make some lounging snow angels. This was not possible this year, none the less it was fun and we ended up with a not bad tree. It's a bit dense, and a little skinny but still quality, especially now that it's decorated. 



So I'm heading up to the small town from which I hail. This weekend will be spent acquiring the Christmas tree, decorating and having the extended family gift exchange. This means my home will be packed full of people and babies and cookies mmm delicious cookies. Oh you will see them they are magical and delicious and are a staple of most rooms around this time of the year.  I hope to be less of a lazy woman when it comes to my picture taking and art making. You'll see the results. 



My exams and final assignments are officially complete as of one o'clock today. I've so far spent my day lounging around being happy to no longer have to study this semester. Now looking into the near future I need to figure out Christmas gifts for the family, do some more art as time now allows and hope for snow because come on what is Christmas without it. I'm also trying to organize all my images which resulted in this image above popping up from last winter, it seemed appropriate. 



So my plans for last nights evening didn't go quite as expected. Due to my slowness I was about to walk out the door when Abed called to say he had finished his exam. He wasn't super keen on waiting for me to walk over to him so he returned home. I was a little bit sad that my plan didn't work out but we still had an ok evening in. We watched a movie and ordered sushi. Here is our picture for you on abed's little camera with no flash. Later that evening I submitted two assignment that were due today. I had one exam today so I'm almost at the completion of this semester. My last exam is tomorrow then maybe a class on Friday, not certain if I'm going to that or not.



So today marks Abed and my one year and three month anniversary. Yes we celebrate monthly cause we are awesome and by celebrate I mean go on a date of some kind. Its just a good excuse to do something a bit special, take a photo and watch a movie. It's tradition, at least the movie part is. I may have been forced to watch The Waterboy on our one year anniversary as it was tradition and then Abed fell asleep. For now I'm going to attempt to catch Abed and he comes out of his exam and take him to his favorite Thai restaurant. I'll update you picture wise tomorrow. 


Mmm...Pie...and Sugar Cookies?

So today saw two kinds of delicious baked goods come to life. Firstly a delicious apple pie from Dessert Lady in Yorkville which Abood and I devoured prior to dinner. We both concluded that it had an amazing crust. This is odd because generally neither one of us likes pie crust but no not this, this was buttery, fluffy wonder that melts in your mouth. To summarize it was amazing. Beneath the magic crust was some fairly delicious apples, I'm quite partial to cinnamon with my apple pie and they were a bit scant with it. None the less it was a treat and one I would pick up again. If you interested in picking up said pie or other delicious baked goods here in the website for more info: Dessert Lady.

Now you might think that having pie would mean that I was done for baked goods for the day but oh you'd be wrong. I am going to partially blame this on the box cupcakes, now let me explain. The box cupcakes called for egg whites, and since I was making them with Abed he actually followed the instructions. I'm entirely certain without him there I would have looked at the diagram of three eggs and follow suit. But no I did not put three whole eggs in and as such I was left with three egg yolks. You see where I'm going here don't you. So to not be wasteful I made cookies because I mean come on what else can you do with egg yolks? Ok lots of things but still. I stole the sugar cookie recipe from Food.com. I followed the directions to a certain degree, they were guidelines if you will. I left some things out put some things in like salt because I've been told all cookies require a pinch. Either way they turned out alright. A little gigantic in the spreading but delightful none the less.

As a random aside I once read this gigantic list of things that rookie bakers and cooks do. It was a nice article full with pictures and funny comments.Until I was confronted with "You make unwise substitutions in baking." Those words...so true...yet I can't not. I bake with what I have and my mother has always been very cavalier about her baking and it's always delicious. So it tells me to use cream of tartar, I don't have it/ So it tells me to use some heavy cream, whipping cream works too it's just lower fat or this is how it works in my head. Maybe one day I will become a stickler for recipes but that day is not coming very soon at this rate.
The evening prior

 So last night went a bit differently than expected...ok that's a lie it went exactly as I anticipated. It was full of reminiscing, oh so much reminiscing and drinking and discussing the intimate details of everyone's life. Simply put, catching up. It was wonderful but what it was not was full with pictures. 
Chris' apartment is beautiful but not the brightest space and I decided chatting was probably a better idea than photographing or at least that is my excuse. After a few hours Rebecca, Sarah and myself decided to head home and at this point in time I snapped four photographs. Two are blurry I'm going to blame the poor lighting not the alcohol because that's what Jamie Foxx tells me to do and I'm not so trusting of that. And the other two well, here they are for you.
Rebecca and her impressive hat and the floor with my feet and crackers as a result of Chris/ I was just an innocent bystander I swear. Man those photos don't go together at all. As a note I made Rebecca stand by the washroom so there was enough light.



This evening I'm going to visit some of my best friends from back home for a Christmas gathering of sorts to catch up. I'll post pictures later, but now I must go as I'm already running late! 


Box Cupcakes
So in this busy time I haven't been able to keep up my baking habit. That and the fact I exhausted my supply of white sugar, powdered sugar and brown sugar... oh and a most of my flour. So I resorted to box cupcake mix to curb my sugar desire. Witness the sad funny looking cupcakes. I attempted to fill the batter slightly higher and cook at a lower temperature to make them rise better but alas I didn't really find it made a difference. I've yet to eat a cupcake as a chose to take their picture prior, but they are funfetti cupcakes which means they must be delicious and ever so slightly rainbow colored on the inside. I'll let you know the result.