About Me

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I am a multifaceted woman, living with intention and passion. I always see the glass as half full (ok, almost always). Currently into: jewelry design, glass beadmaking (aka lampworking), visual journaling, cooking and web design everything. Things that bring me great joy: my family, friends, Scrabble, British period pieces, Shabby Chic, Austin, TX, mini art tiles, autographed cookbooks, chocolate, Chianti, pedicures and beach glass. I don't "do" and/or dig: dishonesty, guilt, intolerance, unkindness, drama and goat cheese (it's a long story, but I love all the other cheeses!) So you now have a teeny tiny little picture of me, with a few warts thrown in. Welcome to my world!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pinch Me!

        I Am Done!!!

Feeling very Rocky-like...
     After going back to college to prepare myself for a new career in web development, I'm finally finished. In two and a half years, I've taken 50 credits (give or take), worth of classes, spent countless hours reading textbooks, taking notes, researching topics, completing homework assignments and class projects, and studying for quizzes and exams. I won't lie, it was hard. Really hard. I think it was the hardest thing I have ever done. It required many sacrifices, not just on my part, but on the part of my entire family. I missed my kids’ concerts, soccer games, conferences, holiday events and more. Many times, my family ate meals out of cans, boxes or the drive-thru. I spent more time with my laptop than my family. I spent many late nights working on school work, up way, way, waaay past midnight, getting by on just a few hours of sleep. I shed a good number of tears over code, sometimes privately, sometimes not. My husband, who owns his own business and already works well over 40 hours a week, picked up the slack, how, I'll never know. My parents, extended family and friends were tireless in their support of my endeavor, offering encouraging words (many times on facebook) and forgiving me a multitude of times for not visiting, not returning calls and not staying in touch outside of school breaks. I missed birthdays, get-togethers and sadly, several funerals as well. I neglected my flower and vegetable gardens along with a lot of home maintenance. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.
     In the end, though, I accomplished what I set out to do. I gained a new skill set and got a job doing what I love. Actually, I got a dream job. I went in to interview for an internship and left with a job I couldn’t wait to start! I’ve been feeling like the luckiest person on the planet lately, but when I think about what it took to get to where I am right now, I have to say, I contributed a lot to that “luck.” I worked incredibly hard (harder than my first time through college, in all honesty), made many sacrifices, stayed determined and kept a positive attitude throughout this adventure. Unlike my first time through college (when I was a very young adult), this time around, I knew what I wanted, what I was working for and where I wanted to go with my future. My eye never left the prize, not once. I often said, “I’m on a mission,” and I meant it. Still, I do feel very lucky that NMC offered the web developer program, that my husband was so supportive, that I was able to rewire my brain to think like a coder, and that the company that hired me exists in my town and needed someone like me when I needed a position.

     I am done... and so incredibly thankful and joyful!!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Baking Bonanza Snow Day!

Carrot Muffins

     It is my youngest daughter's birthday today AND the second snow day of the school year. The kids have MLK Day off on Monday, so a four day weekend for them! I, of course, start back to class at the local community college on Monday. Needless to say, I have been in the mood to get my baking "on" and spent the afternoon making muffins and a raspberry "jellyroll," something I have never made before. My kitchen is nice and toasty, and the house smells just divine. I'm lucky my kids like to eat my cooking/baking (usually), and hope to freeze some of the muffins for breakfast and their lunches for the next couple of weeks.
Raspberry Jellyroll
     My oldest son saw all the food porn on facebook and asked if we planned to go for a long run after eating all these goodies, and I had to laugh if he thinks we will eat ALL of this in one day! If you want the recipes, just click on the caption, except for the Blueberry Bran muffins, I'll add it to the end of my post, that one is not online. I also modified the Carrot Muffin recipe by substituting 1/3 cup melted butter, 1/3 cup Greek yogurt (full fat) and 1/3 cup vegetable oil for the corn oil. It took an extra 10 minutes for them to bake due to my modifications, so keep that in mind.
     With all the snow, gingerbread sounded so good, I had to find a recipe for gingerbread muffins. I modified the recipe I found to make just a third of the batter, since I wanted to try them first before making so many. Although the flavor is excellent, I let mine go an extra 5 minutes since they did not seem close to ready at the original time. However, 5 extra minutes was probably 2 minutes too long, they were just a little dry. However, a smear of butter will fix that. My birthday girl loved them though, without any butter or glass of milk. The Gingerbread muffins did not include a glaze, but I added one. It is just the juice from half a lemon mixed with enough powdered sugar to make a thick glaze, really simple. Just be sure to stir until there are no visible lumps of sugar left. Drizzle while muffins are still warm, but not hot.

Gingerbread Muffins with Lemon Glaze
     The Raspberry Jellyroll was something I have never attempted before. I had no concept about how to do this, though I have admired them for years. This recipe was posted on another blog, Cook Can Read, using a recipe from Martha Foose, a lovely chef I had the pleasure to meet at the Epicurean Classic a few years ago. It is from her latest cookbook, A Southerly Course. Its actually her Blackberry Jellyroll recipe, but I did not have blackberry jam on hand, so I used raspberry jam instead. I had to push it through a strainer first, in order to get rid of all the seeds. I have to say, I am pleased as punch at how it turned out! I added some fresh blackberries, which I did have, and whipped cream. It was sublime. The cake is light, flavorful and a perfect foil for the jam. I can't wait to make this again, though I will try to use blackberry jam next time.
Blueberry Bran Muffins
The hardest part of making the jellyroll was beating the room temp eggs for at least 6 minutes on high, which is the minimum that Martha suggests. I beat it for 7 minutes and then quite a bit more after adding the sugar. Other than that, the ingredients are simple and the directions are easy to follow. If you have never made a jellyroll before, I urge you to give it a whirl. One last tip though, beat the eggs in a medium to large bowl, they seem to triple in volume.
     The Blueberry Bran muffins are the healthiest muffins I made today. I have made these before, usually during blueberry season though. They have wheat bran, whole wheat flour, and applesauce in place of butter or oil. I love these for breakfast with a glass of milk. I modified the original recipe to include some lemon zest, cinnamon and an extra 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries. I have made them with frozen, and they turn out just fine. Here is the recipe if you are so inclined to make them...

Blueberry Bran Muffins                   Makes 12 muffins
Preheat oven to 375°F

1 ½ C bran (I use wheat bran, but don’t see why you couldn’t use oat bran or another type)
1C milk (I use skim)
1 egg lightly beaten
2/3 C brown sugar
½ C unsweetened applesauce or plain yogurt (could try vanilla, lemon or blueberry I bet)
1 tsp lemon or orange zest (optional)
1 tsp vanilla
½ C whole wheat flour
½ C unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp cinnamon (optional)
½ tsp salt
1 ½ C fresh blueberries (original recipe calls for 1 cup, but I like a LOT of blueberries in my muffins!)

·         Combine bran and milk in medium bowl and soak for 10 minutes.
·         Combine egg, sugar, applesauce (or yogurt), lemon (or orange) zest and vanilla in a separate bowl and then add to bran and milk mixture.
·         In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining dry ingredients: flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
·         Add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix until just combined.
·         Gently fold in blueberries.
·         Fill lined or greased muffin tin.
Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick or knife inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.

Happy Baking Y'all!!!