Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pecan Bundt Cake to start the New Year

For Christmas I tried baking a spice cake and it just did not work out.

I followed the directions exactly on the box, but apparently it didn't matter. Though I managed to make some amazing cream cheese frosting to put on top, I couldn't save the cake.

I threw the whole thing away.

I think baking is something that takes practice and experimenting to see what works. I don't like the clean up that comes with baking and I lack self-control in the sweet department.

So I don't bake.

I decided I had to redeem myself because I made the spice cake for my mom's birthday and I was so bummed that I wasn't able to make her something she could enjoy.

A couple of years ago my mom bought me a Christmas tree bundt cake pan. Not sure why. Maybe it was a hint?

She's subtle like that.

I had some pecans in the pantry and brown sugar left over from a casserole I made recently so I wanted to use things I already had.

I also know that bundt cakes are the hardest to make, so the ENTIRE time I was making this my OCD kicked in. I must have checked on it in the oven a dozen times.

But you know what?!

It turned out PERFECT.

I couldn't believe it was something that I made.

I took it over to my mom's right away and she loved it.

My very picky step-dad also had some and liked it too!

Here's the recipe~

1 package of yellow cake mix (Duncan Hines preferably)
1 package of Jell-O Vanilla Instant Pudding (either the regular 3.4 oz box or the sugar free 1 oz box- I used the sugar free one)
4 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon (you can use more if need be)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350.

Spray tube pan with cooking spray and sprinkle pan with 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.

Put first 6 ingredients in large bowl and blend well. You can use a mixer for 3 minutes instead.

Add brown sugar and nuts and mix again.

Pour in pan and bake about an hour or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Mine was done at 54 minutes.

Cool cake in pan for 15 minutes (not on top of the stove).

Loosen cake from sides and place on a wire rack to cool completely before sprinkling (or dousing) with powdered sugar to serve.

Oh and just incase you were wondering why I posted a picture of my dog in this blog.

There isn't one.

He's just awesome.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Starbuck's Fix

I haven't been to Starbuck's in MONTHS.

That is completely unbelievable. I use to go everyday, sometimes twice, for 11 years. I am almost positive that what I must have spent is close to what I still owe in college tuition as of today.

This year I skipped out on the limited holiday drinks, the pastries and the repetitive holiday music.

I have been brewing my own coffee for about a year and half, but only in the last six months have I started to feel like it's a chore to get to Starbuck's.

I love the fresh coffee smell throughout the house, the instant gratification and the comfort of being in my pajamas in the mornings.

One of my Christmas presents this year was a coffee grinder so I can buy fresh beans!

I am not sure how much money I am saving by making everything at home since I buy lots of coffee, half & half and other creamers, but I think it's definitely a time saver.

I have been craving a cinnamon dolce latte so I went to get the grande size with 2.5 pumps of syrup (instead of 4) and easy whip cream.

Can you believe I still thought it was too sweet?? I don't put any sweetener in my coffee, just a splash of a flavored creamer with my half & half once in a while.

I do kind of miss seeing how they would spell my name on their cups and I was always so impressed when it was right very occasionally.

Today was actually the most creative way I have ever seen my name spelled..

And totally un-related to coffee- I picked up my fashionista mom to go to church Christmas morning and we were in matching colors and jackets..

I hope you all enjoyed your holidays! I am still in 'holiday mode' which means I am still eating as if it's Christmas everyday, but just until New Year's Eve and then I'll be starting a diet along with 29 million other people.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

'Tis the Season to be Nice

Or so at least I thought...

I never see grocery stores as crowded as I see them right before Christmastime.

Pretty sure that is one word.

I am surprised that my car and myself came home unscathed.

As I was driving, an SUV in front of me didn't turn left for several minutes- she had at least 10 chances to make a I waited, semi-patiently, thinking there must be a hesitant car in front of her I couldn't see.

Nope, she was just preoccupied with something.

Then as I was parking some lady hit my car with her ring walking by.

I didn't say anything. And what do you say in that situation? "Excuse me, do you mind not flailing your arms when walking by parked cars so that you don't do damage to the vehicles around you?"

Halfway through my shopping a lady ran right into my stomach with a shopping cart, almost spilling the coffee sample I just got. I looked at her and she said she's sorry and that she didn't see me.

At least she admitted it.

Then I was looking at some decorations when some lady walked right in front of me as I was touching things on the shelf and announced to her husband that she came back for these, practically knocking me over.

She did not acknowledge my presence.

Lastly, I lost count how many people actually ran into me at the store without apologizing. What is going on here?!

You would think that this is the one time of year people would actually be a little more watchful, courteous and friendly. Maybe go out of your way for someone?

I feel like in general many people have been getting less courteous, but it just seems so much more heightened around the holidays. It's like at airports when you see people who only travel on must be the those same people going to the store once a year.

I didn't say anything in any of those situations. Mostly because I was just shocked at what was happening, but also because it's not worth my energy.

Hopefully there are people out there who have resolutions in the new year to be a little bit more courteous..

Friday, December 2, 2011

Baby Fever

I was the neighborhood babysitter in high school, a nanny in college and a house manager for a couple of homes with kids in Los Angeles.

Obviously I loved being around kids and I found it effortless- for the most part.

Many of my friends have children, but not until recently did I start feeling this overwhelming desire to bring my child into this world.

In the past couple of years a handful of my friends had them and a few are pregnant right now. That's eight women in 24 months!

As an only child and taking care of children with siblings, it has made me realize how much I would prefer not having an only child.

Of course there are many advantages to being the only, but as I get older it would have been nice to have someone around that I share a bond with that time nor distance could ever change.

So how do I know if this is baby fever or just my environment?

I knew when..

Every child I see, I wonder what characteristics mine will have.

I started bookmarking websites of baby furniture (last year).

At stores, I slightly route myself to go by the baby aisles.

I think about how happy my family would be if I were to announce a pregnancy.

I think about names ALL THE TIME.

I can't get myself to get rid of clothes that are too big because I don't want to spend money on maternity clothes.

I think about how my dog Dexter loves children more then other dogs and how happy he would be with someone else to focus on in the house. Is that crazy?? Maybe, but that dog makes me so happy.