Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Baa Baa Bout Time

As promised.
You totally just want to poke at their pudginess, don't you. Don't lie.
Did anyone else grow up watching the Lambert cartoon? I've had the theme song stuck in my head throughout this entire project. Gah!
If you kiss me, I'll turn into a prince! Or, maybe just a sugary ball of goodness.
Let me out!
Sheepy voices in unison: Hellllllp!!
I only include this one because, hey, it's my blog. I probly should have a photo of me buried in here somewhere. Even tho I haaaaate having pictures taken of me. Yicky!
Please don't judge. I've only had piles of not-enough sleep over the last two days. I'm so ready to pass out at this point. Also: My kitchen is a disaster. I'll clean it up tomorrow. Please don't judge that either. kthxbye.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Where in the World

Where in the world is Sara San Diego?

I hate that I haven't blogged in a whole week. It means that I've been too busy and too tired, and I'm really bad about slipping into that mode of life. It's a yicky habit I have - I pile on way too much and then run myself into the ground and vow to never be so ridiculous again. Then things slow down, I feel ambitious (and rested), and think, "Hey, I'm a lil bored. I should learn 8 new hobbies to fill this gaping hole of time." Yeah. And then we're back to square one.

Today, I'm tired and stressed over sheep. Well, Lamb Pops to be exact. I'm shipping out an order of 30 of them this week, and the little buggers are giving me grief. I lost a chunk of time by having to re-shape all the body parts (30 heads, 60 ears, and 120 legs) to make them smaller. Gah. I hate having to do re-work. But it was necessary, and thank goodness Bo suggested it to me. Actually, it wasn't a mere suggestion. He could tell I was about to have a stress-induced cryfest, and straight up told me to do it differently. And then proceeded to re-do all the legs for me. Total knight in shining armor, ain't he? Anyway, because of the changeup, we only got halfway through assembling the things. But on a positive note, they are flipping ridiculously cute. Like seriously. I'll post some photos here (maybe tomorrow?) after they're all finished and packaged up.

On another front, I guess I will finally admit that I've been on a diet. Well, sorta. Nothing hardcore, and nothing that makes me feel immense guilt for eating cake. I've just been counting my calories and trying to keep them within a budget. I've been roughly following that plan for a couple of months now, and I've for sure lost 5 pounds. That may not seem like much and you may dismiss it with a wave of your hand. But 5 pounds opens up a whole new wardrobe for me. Today is Day 2 of wearing pants that haven't fit for 2 years. Well, I could get them buttoned and zipped, but they looked obscene from the back. Like, rated R. It was really gross. So, I'm starting to dust off old clothes, and it feels great. I honestly love my butt again, and my thighs are starting to be less problem-child and more something I can work with. My goal is to lose another 5 more pounds, nothing crazy. Just to be able to wear the stacks of cute clothes I own but currently can't.

And on that note, I just noticed yesterday that Subway came out with a new sandwich which totally fits within my calorie budget. Anybody try this yet??

It's their new Buffalo Chicken sandwich, and the 6" is only 390 calories (w/out cheese), awesome! There's a news article about it here.

Well, that's about all I got today. Cross your fingers that Lamb Pops photos will go up tomorrow. They really are disgustingly cute. (I'm not above bragging when they've eaten up this much time already.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First Day of Autumn

Today is the First Day of Autumn. Which means that it's offically my favorite day of the entire year. Fall is my most favorite season, and I eagerly await its arrival every year, even in San Diego where the only indicator of the season change is a slight evening breeze. Because the weather here isn't even close to real Fall weather, I look to celebrate my favorite season in other ways. Ahhhh..want to join me?

I really miss Fall on the OSU campus. Isn't it so pretty? With the sound of crispy leaves swishing along your pantlegs as you walk to class...Bliss.

Fall on the OSU Campus

I just discovered that The Coffee Bean brought back Pumpkin Lattes for the fall. Um, yes please! They are so dang good, even with non-dairy creamer and splenda. They're so good at helping me pretend that it's chilly outside, that I could drink them all day long.

Fall is the best excuse to wear cozy thick sweaters and my Frye boots. With tights. Funky ones.

And fall wouldn't be complete without a sleepy dog.

A really sleepy dog. Who isn't fond of my taking photos of her while she's snoozing.

Friday, September 18, 2009

True Shoe Love

Let me introduce you to my new friend, the Tsubo Acrea. I'm wearing these today.

They love my feet. My feet love them.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sparkly Fireflies

I've been quite the crabapple lately. Everything annoys me, and people are just intolerable. I'm cruising on like no sleep, so I know that once I catch up, I'll be in better shape. Ditto for the running I haven't been doing since Monday.

But, without fail, this makes me happy. I've been listening to it on repeat, like all day. Something about it is happy and soothing to me. Ahhhh...The acts of violence have been staved off for another day.

(Here's the url for you Facebookers who don't get to see the embedded objects in my posts.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Asphalt Therapy

my head

it loves to go for runs.
because it loves the chance to think.
to have long conversations with myself.

and every time i feel surprised.
i never realized how badly we needed to talk.

Years ago, I found this poem as a magazine page cutout on someone's bulletin board. It seems so simple, and it's quick to skim over. But the words hold so much meaning. And it holds completely true.

This morning, I went for a run. Which isn't horribly surprising news. But what's important to note is that the run was hard. Really hard.

I'm not that person who just loves to run and thinks it feels so great and can't imagine my life without it, etc. No. I'm not that girl. It's a struggle for me. Some days, it's a struggle to make myself go right up until the point I hit the start button on my watch. And a lot of times, it feels hard for most of my run. I don't get a runner's high or catch my second wind. But what is fantastic is how I feel afterward. The rest of my day is better and more clear and happier. Running makes my mind relax, which is crucial for someone like me whose brain is always racing and pacing. Running helps me think of creative ways to tackle life's problems. Running gives me one on one time with nature and the beauty of the earth. Running makes me happy for how it makes me feel on the inside. It's my own personal therapy out there on the pavement.

And, for that reason, I look forward to my run tomorrow.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dyin' for a Chai Tea Latte

(You so need to click-zoom in on this photo.)

Dyin' for a chai tea latte....Albeit in cupcake form. You knew that was coming, right?

Last week, Sidenote and I were on a chai latte kick and kept thinking of things to eat or make or listen to. Yeah, I just said "listen to" right there. Click your mouse here to go check out her theme-coordinated blog entry for today. She's got the Chai Tea Latte song embedded, and it's too freaking adorable to miss out on. Go on over there. Go on!

Ok, are you back now? Isn't that song too cute for words? It makes me think about Fall and lattes from Coffee Bean. Yumm....I suppose that chai is so popular in the Fall because it hints at the spicy heaviness of Thanksgiving, but in a teensy bit lighter form. It's the perfect summertime transition drink. Or cupcake, rather. Ahem. Topic at hand, sara.

So, I modified one recipe for the cupcakes and then mix & matched two different recipes for the frosting. Aside from the obvious choice of flavor, I chose these recipes for a couple of reasons: The cupcakes are vegan, and the frosting is a style of buttercream that I'd never tried before. So, I got to test out two things at once, together. Perfect. The cupcakes turned out deliciously moist, and were super simple and quick to mix up. I did reduce the amount of spice because it was a little overpowering, but they still made my house smell amazingly good while they were baking. And for the frosting. Well. That stuff turned out sooo freaking good. Sooooo good, I'm telling you. It's my new favorite buttercream style for cakes.

My versions of these recipes and pictures are below. Enjoy!

Soaking the tea bags in almond milk. I used regular Lipton tea bags because I don't have any real black tea. So I'm not sure if you'd get more tea flavor using black tea. Let me know if you try it?

I drink almond milk, so I swapped out the soy milk in this recipe for almond milk. The tea-infused almond milk is a rich nut-brown color.

I tried this recipe twice, and I have to admit that using cake flour yielded a lighter cupcake with tops that didn't crack as easily as they did with all-purpose flour.

The batter is thin, so it's easier to pour it into the pan with a measuring glass.

Spiced Chai Latte Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes.
Adapted from Love and Olive Oil

1 c. almond or soy milk
4 black tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose leaf black tea
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground nutmeg
1/3 c. canola oil
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Heat milk in a small saucepan or microwave until almost boiling. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Allow to steep for 10 minutes, then remove teabags, squeezing out as much milk as possible. Re-measure, and add more milk to make exactly 1 cup. Whisk in cider vinegar, and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Pour in the milk mixture, along with oil, sugar, and vanilla, and stir just until no large lumps remain.

Fill cupcake liners with 1/4 cup of batter (liners should be 2/3 full), and bake for 20-22 minutes or until puffed and golden. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

It took roughly 5 melted squares to yield 1/4 cup.

As the directions indicate, the frosting can mix up soupy. Keep adding butter, one tablespoon at a time until it reaches desired consistency. (I like my buttercreams a little more rigid so that they hold shape at room temperature.)

White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Will frost 24 cupcakes.
Adapted from Whisk Kid

1 c. granulated sugar
5 egg whites
1 - 1 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened slightly and sliced
1/4 c. white chocolate, melted and cooled
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cook the egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it's completely smooth, it's done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-slow speed, add one cup butter, one tablespoon at a time, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. The buttercream may turn into a soupy curdled mess, but I assure you it will be ok; just beat it for a few minutes longer. It'll come together! Beat in additional tablespoons of butter until the buttercream has reached the desired consistency. Add the cinnamon and the melted and cooled white chocolate carefully. Try not to get any on the walls of the bowl as it will cool and harden there. Whip to incorporate.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

On Cloud Nine Point Five

So, yesterday was like the very very best day I've had in a long while. A quick summary:

~ I wore purple patent leather heels.
~ And a flower in my hair to match.
~ And slacks I couldn't zip up 5 pounds ago.
~ My brother called to order some Pops and catch up.
~ I mailed a care package to my little sister to cheer her up.
~ Sidenote found me some waterproof eyeliner in fabtastic colors.
~ I spent my evening running and baking up new recipes (photos to come soon) (of the baked goods, not of me running).
~ Brandy generously and sweetly wrote up a review of the Pops on her blog. For all the world to see. And she said the sweetest, nicest, gushiest, make-me-cry-happy-tears things imaginable. Seriously, I'm going to read it every morning to start my day off feeling smiley and bright. You can read her awesome review here!
~ And to top it all off...this. THIS THIS THIS!Is that little girl not the most adorable thing ever? She's so stinking cute with that Pop that I want to make her my official Pops Mascot. How could anyone resist buying them with that kind of photo joy staring back? Awww, L-O-V-E it!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Echo, Echo, Echo

....Anybody home?


(mind-blowingly boring silence)

Yep, that about sums up my leave of absence from my blog. I wish that I had tantalizing tales of travel and fascinating people. But, alas, no. I spent my long weekend up to my ears in ants and bleach and dog hair. And then after I was finished cleaning until my clothes were soaked with sweat (yes, they really were because I'm gross like that), I showered and got pretty and spent hours making Cupcake Pops. Whew. Next time, I'm going to try my hand at relaxing over a holiday weekend. I'm the opposite of good at relaxing, so it may take some practice and concerted effort on my part.

Oh, I did do a ton of online shopping this weekend. I'm hoping that the shoes I ordered are nothing but pure fabulous, so I can show you some photos. Also, I found a new perfume that is Just So So Amazing And Good And So Me And Where Has It Been All My Life. It smells like a mix of my 2 favorite perfumes, so I was in heaven when I smelled it. I've already picked up the gift set from Nordstrom, and I'm beyond ecstatic about having found it. Next time you're at the mall, swing by Sephora or a department store, and smell Philosophy's Unconditional Love. Yep, that's what I smell like. Next best thing to a scratch and sniff blog, right?

Incidentally, today is 09/09/09. My sister, Magpie, loves stuff with numbers. Anybody doing anything cool today to commemorate the repetition?? I may just eat 9 donuts at 9:09 this morning to do my part.

I needed something to make me laugh at dinner last night. Bug-shaped pasta so did the trick!

Bloody bugs, hurrah!

(I warned you about the boringness, did I not?)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Flower Garden in My Hair

I so love rocking flowers in my hair. I don't know if it's my inner hippy or a desperate gesture of femininity or because I get bored with having to pull my hair back every other day. With Fall approaching, garden flowers will be in short supply, and I'm too poor to go buying a zillion silk flowers from a cute boutique.

Enter, crafty projects. Over the years, my mantra has too often veered toward, "Why buy it if you can make it?" Unfortunately, I take on way, way too many projects at once, so I rarely beyond mildly proficient at any particular crafty area. (Knitting? Check. Crocheting? Check. Quilting? Check. Skills immediately forgotten once blanket put down? Triple-check.)

But once again, I was inspired to pick up something new and give it a try. And the online tutorials and instructions I read really were very simple. So here we go: Homemade Chiffon and Silk Flowers.

First step: Buy some fabric. I bought all of this off the Walmart clearance shelves for less than $20. Most of it was $1 a yard, so buy up a bunch of different textures and colors. And when all was said and done, I had only used about 0.005% of the total fabric, so my cost for 6 flowers was probly less than a penny. You do the math, I'm currently on a math & science strike.

The next step is to cut some stacks of wobbly circles. Don't aim for perfect circles because your flowers will look too geometric and not enough romantic. For each flower, you'll want to cut layers of varying sizes of colors and textures. My flowers pictured have 7-10 layers in each. (The top row in this pic is post-edge-melting, for comparison.)

In order to get those curly, ruffly petal edges, you need to melt the fabric over a flame. I won't tell you to be safety conscious with gloves and goggles and fire extinguishers, because I'm constantly doing things with bare hands (Bo can attest to that, because he's constantly hearing me say "OUCH" from the kitchen). Hold the circle edge over the flame and, as it curls, rotate the circle until you've melted the entire circumference. For best results, do NOT trim the candle wick down. Otherwise, it doesn't generate enough heat.

I finished each circle by melting the center just a little. That made the whole thing crinkle and not lay quite so rigidly flat.

(Heads up - not all of my fabric melted. Some just caught on fire and burned.)

When you start stacking the melted circles together, they'll begin forming a ruffly flower. I opted to anchor them all down with a button center, but the original directions suggested small beads. I just used a regular needle and thread to stitch through the layers and attach the button.

I attached a button and hot glued a loop of embroidery floss to it. That way, I can either slip a bobby pin through the loop or string the flowers onto a thin ribbon for a necklace.

Finished flowers. I'd like to make smaller versions of these someday, so that I can wear more than one at a time. We'll see if I actually ever dig my fabric back out to do that.

And, voila! A homemade flower tucked into my ball of messy hair.