Wednesday, April 26, 2023

What's Up Wednesday, April 2023 Edition


It's almost May, but you wouldn't know it from the weather that we continue to endure. I swear, this has been the longest winter in the history of winter. I have yet to get any of my usual April chores done on the porch or in the yard and I am feeling less than happy about it. Fingers crossed that May will be the turning point and we will finally get some relief.

Anyhoodle, as usual, I am bringing the month to an end with a What's Up Wednesday post, hosted by Sheaffer and Shay. I'll try not to be too maudlin in regard to the weather.

What I'm Eating

I have nothing of interest to report on this topic, unless you count the coconut macaroons that I baked recently. Otherwise, my culinary exploits have been uninspired. I'm ok with that; I could stand to lose a pound or twenty.

What I'm Reminiscing About

Ok, this is the dumbest thing ever to reminisce about, but bear with me. A few weeks ago, I was in one of my favorite antique stores in Hooterville, perusing the album collection in search of a new record to add to my collection. When I saw this...

I was immediately transported back to Easter of 1978. I was ten, Barbie was eight, and Midge was just about to turn thirteen. Midge wanted this album so bad. My parents were less than enthusiastic about the ask (if I recall correctly, the words Satan and devil worshippers featured heavily in the conversations) and really appeared to put up a fight. So, imagine our surprise, nay, shock, when the Easter Bunny delivered it in Midge's basket on the very day that celebrates our Lord and Savior rising from the tomb. Midge's spiral into full-blown teenage rebellion ensued immediately following. Coincidence? I'll let you be the judge (sidenote: Barbie and I were secretly quite happy to listen to said devil worshipping music because We Will Rock You was da bomb).

What I'm Loving

Sunday, April 23rd. The only day this month that we had anything resembling a normal spring day. Of course, it snowed again on Monday, but a girl's gotta take comfort where she can...that day was my comfort...

What I've Been Up To

I had the privilege of doing a cake smash session for Anthony and Bethany's second-born son this past weekend. It was just three years ago that I was photographing his older brother's cake smash. Time flies!

What I'm Working On

So. Many. Things! In addition to all of the small events that I have been working on-and attending-in recognition of National Child Abuse Prevention Month; I've also been planning both a wedding shower and a 60th anniversary party. That's right; Oscar and Emily will be celebrating 60 years in June, so Hugh and I are throwing a party for them. I gotta admit; I'm a little rusty in the event-planning department, at least when it comes to something unrelated to Not So New Job, but, it's starting to come back to me.

What I'm Dreading

I'm not really dreading anything at the moment. That's a nice departure.

What I'm Excited About

Pickin' at the Pea, my favorite antique sale, is taking place again this Saturday. The sale never fails to provide me with inspiration for displaying my own vintage items and, more often than not; I find a new treasure. The donuts made fresh by the lovely Mennonite ladies never disappoint, either. The show is held twice a year-in the spring and in the fall-and, last October, Hugh accompanied me for the first time; he became an immediate fan of those donuts. This time, I will be attending with Erin and Kristi, who always make the treasure hunt fun.

What I'm Watching

I finally broke down and watched all eight season of Game of Thrones. Then, I watched the first season of House of Dragons. They were both ok. I still don't get all the hype, though. Please don't come at me.

What I'm Reading

April has been a really busy month at Not So New Job, so I haven't really had any time for reading. In the spare time that I have had, I've been catching up on Queen B's scrapbook. The Man-Cub's comes next.

What I'm Listening To

Last month, I wrote about how much I enjoyed watching Daisy Jones and the Six. Not only did I like the story, the acting, and the costumes (the costumes were spot-on!), but, the music was great, too. So, I ordered the album, and, yes; I know this is not a real band. The question is: Do I care? No, no I do not. I'm listening to it on repeat as I go about my household chores.

What I'm Wearing

Sweaters. Goddamnit, Mother Nature.

What I'm Doing This Weekend

After I get back from Pickin' at the Pea, Mom and I are headed to Mayberry to watch my great-niece's first ballet recital. We haven't been back to Mayberry since we moved Mom to Hooterville, so I'm fully prepared for it to be weird. In addition to seeing the recital, we are going to drive to Mount Pilot to visit with my cousin, who is cleaning out his parent's house following the death of my uncle, who joined my Aunt Pat in heaven this winter. We will also be checking on the old house, which has not yet sold. I'm thinking we may need to dig up the Saint Joseph statue that we buried last fall and try burying it in a new location. Also, did I mention that a squatter was arrested at the house in February? Yeah...we need to get it sold.

What I'm Looking Forward To Next Month

Assuming Mother Nature finally gets the message, I will be planting my garden and opening the porch. I have big plans for Porch Night Season this year and I'm anxious to get the party started.

Ready to be here, glass in hand, dog at my feet

Favorite Amazon Find This Month

Obviously, I have several events coming up in the next few months (two showers, two weddings, the anniversary party...) and I'd kind of like to look good at them, so I've been on a dress hunt. This dress is cute and seems like it will be comfortable, assuming I can find a bra that works with it. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Recipes From the Porch: Coconut Macaroons

When I went looking for a good macaroon recipe, I looked no farther than The Food Network, and Ina Garten's version of the cookie. I read the reviews on the recipe, and made one small tweak that was recommended by other folks and the end result has been very well received (I took the excess cookies to work yesterday and got rave reviews from my staff and several of our partners who were in the house for interviews).

The recipe is fairly simple and requires only five ingredients (six, if you include the minor tweak I made to the recipe, which, you should).

The ingredients:

14 oz. sweetened shredded coconut

14 oz. sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp vanilla

2 extra large egg whites, at room temperature

1/4 tsp kosher salt (I used regular 'ol Morton's, because that is what I had on hand)

1 tsp flour (optional, but helps keep cookies from spreading too much)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine shredded coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla (and flour, if you're using it).

Mix, thoroughly. Mixture will be extremely sticky.

Set aside and whip egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Fold egg whites into coconut mixture, being careful not to over-mix.. Using a large scoop, drop dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown (mine got a titch too dark). Allow to cool on cookie sheets. Store in airtight containers.


Monday, April 10, 2023

Easter Shenanigans

We had a great Easter weekend at Casa de Chelle! I started the weekend off on Saturday morning, baking my first-ever batch of coconut macaroons. Coconut macaroons seemed "Eastery" to me, so I went for it, despite the fact that Hugh detests coconut and I wasn't 100% sure who would join me in eating the damn things.

I need not have worried; both my Mom and Emily were big fans of the macaroon. So, there, Hugh!

The recipe I used was Ina Garten's and I will post it, soon, in case you, too, want to bake something that makes your beloved gag in a distinctly unattractive way. 

I gave Hugh no further cause to gag the rest of the weekend; in fact, I made some truly amazing brunch food, but I'll get to that, later.

Saturday evening, Mom, Hugh, the Man-Cub, Shanti, and I dyed Easter eggs. Mom "accidentally" dropped one, which the Man-Cub was quick to volunteer to eat. He's such a giver, that one.

Sunday morning, I was up early, getting a glazed ham and an egg casserole (absolutely ah-may-zing! Rceipe to follow, so I don't ever forget how to make it!) into the oven for our planned brunch. Mom, Oscar, Emily, Shanti and the Man-Cub, Kristi and Erin, Hugh and I all dug into the feast, following a round of mimosas that were, quite possibly, the tastiest mimosas I have ever consumed. I think it was the champagne, and now it occurs to me that I need to dig the bottle out of the trash so I can document what brand it was for next time.

After brunch, Hugh, the Cub, Shanti, and I headed over to Mama Jill's for her annual Easter Shenanigans Beer Hunt. What is a beer hunt, you ask? It's like an egg hunt, only with bottles of beer (plus wine and shooters, just to cover all the bases). We also had a great potluck dinner (I contributed my Mediterranean pasta salad and got rave reviews; that recipe is already posted on this blog), and generally enjoyed time in the sunshine, which we haven't been able to enjoy for quite some time. Praise the Lord.

Today, I start another busy week at Not So New Job. I'm not looking forward to it, but, a girl's got to eat. Speaking of which; have I mentioned that I ate really well this weekend?

Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Just In Time For Easter

 Easter is just days away and I haven't posted my decorations yet, despite the fact that they've been up since the end of February.

Let's remedy that situation, shall we?

We shall.

We'll start with the tulip display on the coffee table; these are the faux tulips that I have been collecting recently. I love how realistic they look and they definitely brighten the spaces in which they are placed.

One of my 10,000 bunnies. Ok, I don't have quite 10,000; Hugh just seems to think I do. Anyhoodle, this one is an antique that I picked up at an antique show years ago.

More tulips...

...and some of the Walmart bunnies that went viral this season. I'm not sure I love them and may rehome them; we'll see.

More bunnies...

...and now I'm starting to see Hugh's point.

For God's sake, don't tell him.

And, that's it (sort of; I didn't post a photo of everything, I mean, life requires a little mystery). On Sunday, we will be eating brunch and then joining Mama Jill and her family for an adult Easter hunt; we'll be hunting bottles of alcohol. Then, of course, it will be time to store the bunnies away in the attic for another year; giving them ample time to multiply, since that is what bunnies do in my attic.

At least, that's what I'm telling Hugh. You can't fight nature, after all.

The Weekend in Review

I intended to publish this yesterday, but, the day got away from me and I never did get around to it. Better late than never, I guess.

Saturday morning, I pulled out my large Kitchenaid mixer to make a large batch of buttercream frosting. Mom was going to come over to help frost the Easter cookies that I had baked previously and I also wanted to practice using my Russian tips because that is what I plan on using for the cupcakes for Mia's shower.

I also wanted to break in the new sifting attachment that I got for my mixers.

It had occurred to me on Friday that I would need something to practice on with the Russian tips, so I baked a batch of lemon cupcakes. Lemon is one of my very favorite flavors, so that decision was an easy one.

The sifting attachment made quick and easy work of sifting the eight cups of powdered sugar called for in my buttercream recipe, so it's definitely a keeper.

My go-to buttercream recipe was perfect for the cut-sugar cookies, which I knew it would be since it's what I've used for years.

It wasn't so great for the Russian tips, unfortunately. So, I am on the hunt for the perfect recipe for that particular project. I've been watching Instagram reels for inspiration and I am hoping that I will discover the perfect one. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I have two dozen cupcakes that taste delicious, even if they don't look as pretty as planned.