Sunday, August 30, 2009

You say it's your Birthday

In lieu of anything else interesting to report, I'm here today to give you a blow-by-blow account of how my recent cupcake making went the way of Murphy's Law.

One of my closest friends had a birthday party recently. Our birthdays are pretty close, so a while back she emailed me to ask if I'd be offended to attend her birthday party on the actual day of my birthday. I'm a LEO wife, right? Of course not! Who has to celebrate their own birthday on their actual birthday?!?!

It was a semi-potluck event ~ guests were to bring sides, appetizers, and desserts. Since it was on my birthday I thought I would go all out and make cupcakes. And not just any old cupcakes, mind you! Chocolate Chai Spice cupcakes. My mom made them for my birthday last year so I knew they are quite tasty.

I started off this project the day before the party. I have three kids, I knew it was going to take me two days to assemble two dozen cupcakes! Did you click on the link for the recipe up there? Did you see how Chai has some "weird" stuff in it, stuff you might typically have laying around? Whole fennel, whole cloves, ground cardamom, ground cinnamon, ground ginger?
Would you believe it, I had every ingredient for this entire recipe (including a Scharffen Berger chocolate bar and Scharffen Berger cocoa powder!) except the whole fennel, a stick of butter, and powdered sugar. So, bright and early on the day I got busy sifting flour, measuring cocoa powder, and then the fun began. Some of the high(low)lights were:

  1. Early on in the process we treked up the street to the hole-in-the-wall "medicinal" store to get the whole fennel. Oops, they only take cash for purchases under $7. I dug around for some coins in the stroller and with my three quarters got an ounce of fennel for 70 cents. Ok, maybe this trip won't be so bad after all...
  2. We booked it down the street in the 90 degree heat and picked up our butter. Success, albeit a sweaty one.
  3. Back home for lunch and naps. In between making everyone else happy, I melted the chocolate, beat the crap out of the batter (as directed!!) and soothed a fussing baby when Austin came to tell me "Mom, I can't do anything else to make Dallas happy!" (Oh I *so* know how you feel son!!)
  4. By 2:30 I'd baked a batch of cupcakes and the nightmare was beginning. I guess when you beat the batter for a total of almost 8 minutes with EIGHT eggs... you're bound to get some souffle-like qualities. What I *didn't* like was having the top look like a beautiful souffle and the inside being a regular, dense, yummy cupcake. That meant this huge air pocket at the top into which the crunchy top just crumbled.
  5. I decided to peel off/smoosh down (yes, the culinary term is "smoosh") the crunchy meringue parts on top and frost these babies.
  6. Austin was soooo excited about frosting the cupcakes. I'd bought some plastic frosting tips earlier in the week and he had been carrying them around, reading the package. "Mom, do you want to use the round tip, the leaf tip, the star tip, or the flower tip?"
  7. Of course I was too cheap to buy the fancy frosting bags, so I cut off a corner of a giant ziploc bag and started frosting the cupcakes with that.
  8. Things weren't going so well. The frosting wouldn't come out of the tip without a lot of pressure on the bag. Know why?? Two holes had sprouted on the side of the bag and the frosting was gushing out there. uh... yeah.... piles and piles of frosting all over the counter and cupcakes right where I DIDN'T WANT IT!!!!
  9. I ditched the bag idea (don't have to tell you how disappointed Austin was!) and started frosting them with my new fancy offset spatula. Dear Lord, come quickly!
Here's the end result. They looked like crap but tasted amazing. It was interesting to hear people's guesses before they ate them: "Ginger? Cocoa? Cinnamon? Peanut Butter?"

Maybe next time I'll go my mom's route and just add the spices to a box of chocolate cake mix!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Wow, I just googled "ch-ch-ch-changes" and you would not BELIEVE how many people use that online. Anyway, I was trying to find the lyrics and with all you unoriginal people out there using this for your blog posts it took me a few tries. I wanted to see if the lyrics to the song actually apply to my post, but... well... I was too lazy to read through them all. (You can read them on your own.) So here 'goes.

I've probably mentioned more than once that Hubs works graves, going in to work a little after the kids are in bed and getting home a little after they wake up. (It sure would be nice if he'd get home a little earlier in the morning because I could stay asleep and he could be in charge of morning wake up call! But I digress...) I was recently thinking about how Hubs has only been on days (my dream schedule!) for maybe 12 months of his career. The remainder of his time on has been graves, and mostly by choice. At least I'm pretty sure that's how it's happened. I was just thinking that come the next shift change, I'd be excited to try something new and I was thinking of suggesting the "dreaded swing shift." It starts around 2 or 3 PM at this dept, and Hubs has always said he thinks it's the absolute worst for families. Except for a short stint while on FTO "we've" never been on swings (and you LEO significant others know it's a WE in this!). I'm willing to try anything for a time given enough breathing room and advance notice. Aren't I the gem? So I was somewhat surprised when Hubs called the other night and told me it was his turn for shift sign up. What a ko-ink-y-dink. "Already??" I asked incredulously. So we went around and around for half an hour...not a good idea on my part at midnight, but oh well.

The verdict?

Swings it is.

Give me a few months and I'll either be singing it's praises or begging for mercy and a return to graves. Only time will tell!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Are they bulletproof??

I received a link to this article from Police Link, which I guess at one time I subscribed to out of sheer frustration and need to connect on any level. Well, a few days back I was rewarded with this hilarious article. Well, the article isn't necessarily hilarious but the title of it is:

Sheriff's Office Fighting High Crime Areas With Sumo Suits

What's your first thought? Of course mine, as mentioned in the title, is "Are those sumo suits bulletproof? Probably not the best outfit for undercover work, but, ok..." Hope you get a good laugh like I did out of the inconsequential.

Friday, August 14, 2009

and... We're back!

What a rude return to "real" life I've had the last 36 hours! Wow! Of course none of my processing or "solution creating" that I mentioned in the last post really happened while I was gone. That's OK. The one -- probably ONLY! -- thing I came up with was that I really use this blog as more of a complaining thing than anything else. To have a LITTLE bit of balance I'm toying with starting "Thankful Thursday" ~ because it sounds neat and I need some BALANCE here people!! So stay tuned for that. You'd think I could (and should!) be grateful every day but I'm just taking baby steps here....

Being with my family was INSANE. It was non stop from morning 'til night -- but enjoyable because I didn't have the added burden of keeping up my whole life that I normally have here. When the kids were in bed, my day was over. Period. No cleaning, straightening, cooking, laundry, etc. Unfortunately Hubs and I had some more major spats via telephone which is always fun, and now that I'm back we're both still in our own separate corners. Before we were married an older, wiser couple encouraged us to always try to "Get in the same foxhole." If you know what a foxhole is, good for you. Basically, if me & Hubs are in the same foxhole it's us shooting against the world, instead of us being in separate foxholes shooting at each other. I feel like we more often engage in the latter, and in fact sometimes we try to get in foxholes with OTHER people instead of each other. Ok, this is getting a little esoteric but it's on my mind.

It just so happens that at this very blissful minute both Charlotte and Dallas are sleeping so I'm going to go make the most of it and quite possibly catch my own little cat nap. G'night!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

thanks :)

I want to quickly say thank you for the thoughtful comments regarding how to "keep it all together" in the family. :) Intellectually I know I am not the only one, but it really was nice readi1ng through those comments and seeing how some of you attack the whole "opposite schedule" thing.

We didn't necessarily "kiss and make up" over our spat from the other day, but we did get to discuss it a bit. That's progress, I suppose. I'm still frustrated, because I think "The Job" is taking a large emotional toll on my man and that really makes me mad. Some of it is politics, some of it is the stress of the actual job, and who knows what-all-else. I'm a "fixer" and this is one thing I can't really fix. So... what to do???

For one thing, this blog will be on vacation for a bit. I think I mentioned my mom and brother had surgery within a day of each other a few weeks back. I'm heading there tomorrow with the three kidlets (it will be Dallas' first flight!!) and will be helping out -- or at least distracting them -- for a while. Given that my mom's husband is headi1ng back to work and my brother's wife is heading out of town, it's good timing. Not only that, but they have both, within the last week, been in and out of the hospital with complications. I don't know what drug I am on to think that I will have the time while being away from hubs to get perspective on the family and maybe come up with some "solutions" to try when we get back. I put "solutions" in quotes because I'm sure that's NOT what they will be -- maybe I should use the word "options" instead. I think it's going to be insane but I'm really looking forward to a little change of scenery before school starts.

If something uber exciting comes up, I'll let you know. Otherwise I'll see you in a few weeks. Speaking of school starting up, I've heard that a good number of "first responder families" homeschool their kids because it works out much better family-schedule-wise with shift work. Any of you out there homeschool, or is it "traditional" school for your family?