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Archive for April, 2011

The Nursery

I think we’re finally ready to start a family.

I say “finally” like we’ve been together for 12 years, when it has been, in fact, one year, one month and one day since we first went “official”. One year, one month and one day since Lobsterface and I started our romantic relationship with a monster truck rally and Baconaters and Frostys (is the plural of “Frosty” “Frotsys” or “Frosties”?) at Wendy’s. It was a magical night.

I did not eat one of these.

And I say “family” like we’re planning to have a baby.

Not Really Us

We’re not. And that’s not us. Just so you know. Although I may or may not have looked like that after the Baconator.

The family we want to start includes us and a Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

Corgi!

Or several.

Corgwyn!

Just kidding! Kind of. Right now we only want to adopt one, but eventually I want a herd of them so that we can do this:

Also, when I say “nursery”, I mean “crate in the library”. But don’t you worry, it’ll be a very well-decorated crate.

At the moment we have applications out to three different shelters that have corgwn (yes, that really is the plural of “corgi”), but purebred shelter dogs are few and far between. We discussed adopting a corgi/other breed hybrid, but Lobsterface has his Lobstery heart set on a blond Pembroke Welsh Corgi. That man is particular about the most unexpected things. We might end up adopting a puppy from a breeder, but we’re starting with the shelters.

So wish us luck! I’ll keep you posted.

Goodnight, and here is a corgi in a swing:

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Sometimes my Lobsterface makes me very sad. A few weeks ago he told me that he’d never had pineapple upside-down cake and it made my heart weep.

He’s also never been to a livestock auction, but I plan to fix that this summer.

In the meantime I decided to do something about his pineapple-upside-down-cake-free life. So I threw a party. Well, I didn’t throw a party JUST to have an excuse to make cake (who NEEDS an excuse, amirite?). Lobsterface’s birthday was coming up, so I Facebooked a few friends, bought some festive decorations and got to work.

It’s really dense and the cake part isn’t super sweet (which I like) but the pineapples and the caramel topping are REALLY sweet (which Lobsterface likes), so it was a hit all around. I topped it all off with homemade whipped cream; that recipe is all the way at the bottom. Yay! A twofer!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (originally from Simply Recipes)
Cook time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
12-14 servings

1 cup of firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 can (20 oz) of pineapple slices
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
6 Tbsp cake flour
6 Tbsp of ground almonds (from about 2 oz of whole almonds)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups of sugar
4 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream

Topping:
Melt the brown sugar and 1/2 cup (1 stick) of the butter in a saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbly. This should take several minutes. (After sugar melts, don’t stir.) Pour mixture into a 10 inch diameter nonstick cake pan (I also sprayed my nonstick pan with cooking spray) with 2 inch high sides. Arrange the pineapple slices in a single layer on top of the caramel mixture.

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Cake

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Whisk the flours, almonds, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the sugar and 1 cup (2 sticks) of the butter together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add dry ingredients alternately with sour cream in 2 additions each, beating well after each addition.

I didn’t have any almonds, so I substituted a few extra tablespoons of vanilla extract in the wet ingredients. This approach would also work if you’re making the cake for someone who is allergic to nuts.

You could also put the juice from the can of pineapple rings into the batter (at the same time as the vanilla). I didn’t think to try it, but I bet it would be tasty.

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Pour the thick, fluffy cake batter over the caramel and pineapple in the pan. But be gentle about it, the caramel will still be pretty runny at this point. Then you can either eat the batter left in the bowl yourself or feed it to your Lobsterface who is surfing the internets in the other room. I left plenty on the scraper and ate that myself, Lobsterface got the bowl.

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Bake the delicious cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes. Then let it cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a platter.

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Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream. Unless you don’t like whipped cream. But I don’t think people like that exist.

Whipped Cream

8 oz heavy or light whipping cream
confectioner’s sugar (to taste)
a pinch of salt

Start with cold whipped cream. It also helps if you chill the bowl you’re using, too. Pour the cream into a nice chilly bowl and whip it on high with an electric hand mixer.

I don’t know why, but I just don’t trust stand mixers. But then, I’m a control freak.

As you’re whipping, add in confectioner’s sugar, tablespoon by tablespoon until you reach your desired sweetness level. Toss in a pinch or two of salt, it adds depth to the flavor. Keep on whipping until the cream is nice and stiff. It’ll only take you about 5 minutes…maybe even less than that.

And that’s it! You’re all done! Put on some coffee and call all of your friends (well, 12-14 of your friends, anyway)!

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Sinkholes and Romance

My original plan was to wait until our double sink for the bathroom was all done and installed and pretty to write a post about it, but that project is taking a VERY long time. Not because it’s a particularly difficult project, but because Lobsterface and I are both rather easily distracted. But we’re about halfway through!

We were inspired by this post by John and Sherry over at Young House Love, but we decided to do things a bit differently. We turned a tall (because Lobsterface is 6′ 4″ and doesn’t like to hunch over if he doesn’t have to), wide (because we both want to hog the mirrors), shallow (because, if I haven’t mentioned before, our bathroom is Lilliputian. It was most likely designed by a man back when indoor plumbing was the height of modern technology.) dresser into a double sink with drop-in basins.

Our first step was finding a dresser to fit the space. Anything deeper than 18″ would leave almost no room for walking into the bathroom, so that eliminated about 70% of the dressers out there from our search. The first one we LOVED was the Hemnes dressing table from IKEA. The color was perfect, the height was perfect, but it was just a bit too wide for our space. Harumph.

On to the next!

We were all set to buy the Aspelund dresser, but we don’t actually live near an IKEA, so we’d either have to drive 5 hours to pick it up or pay hundreds of dollars to have it shipped here. I’m not kidding. Literally hundreds of dollars. Not happening. Also, we’d have to paint it when it got here, because it only comes in white.

So we started hunting around our local furniture stores and eventually found this one (this was before Nikon came to live with me, so it’s another crappy cell phone pic).

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Don’t worry, we didn’t pay $799 for it. That was the price for the whole bedroom set. We payed something like $300 (it’s been a while, I don’t remember exactly how much).

Next, we tore it apart. Here’s a tip: if you’re going to deconstruct a piece of furniture, don’t buy a well-built, high quality piece. Go for the junk. This solid dresser was a pain in the hindquarters.

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We removed the particleboard back, the drawers, and the metal tracks to which the drawers had been previously affixed. And yes, while the dresser waited to be turned into a sink, it served as our tool bench. One of these days we’ll have to actually build ourselves a tool bench.

I would like to take a moment to point out the groovilicous pink shag carpet. Isn’t it horrible/fabulous? It’ll be going away soon, our plan for The Pink Room is to turn it into my design studio/yarn habitat. I’m a graphic designer with a very severe yarn problem.  If anyone has any ideas for yarn storage, send them on over! Currently it’s stuffed in bags and cabinets and baskets all over the house AND my apartment. I’m pretty sure there’s some left at my parents’ house from years ago, too.

Here’s another pic of the dresser, the tools and The Pink Room:

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The next step was to carve out some holes for the sink basins. The basins came with a paper template that we cut out, taped down and cut around with a saber saw. The basins are a bit too wide for the depth of the dresser (we didn’t quite realize that until we had purchased them and noticed that there is a lip at the front that sticks out about 2 inches from the actual body of the dresser). It would have definitely been simpler to install basin sinks that sit on top of the dressersink, but after we pondered that for a while, we felt that basins were a bit too modern for our dignified old Victorian. Part of our goal is to keep the antique feel of the house without being too stodgy. Also, the faucets for those sinks are like $200. EACH. And since we were putting in two sinks, it was just too pricey.

Here are the holes. We cut one hole just a bit too wide at the back, but there isn’t really anything to be done about that, so we’ll just forge ahead and hope that it’s not terribly noticeable when all is said and done.

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We weren’t huge fans of the glossy finish on the dresser, so I scuffed it up with some superfine sandpaper and slapped on  a few coats of Minwax Polyurethane (someday I will learn to spell that word without Googling) in a satin finish. The poly does double duty, protecting the surface of the wood from moisture AND getting rid of the high-gloss finish (it’s still drying, so no satin pics yet).

AND that’s as far as we’ve gotten. The next step is installing the sinks, faucets and all the plumbing nonsense. Speaking of plumbing nonsense, Lobster and I spent our anniversary at two separate Lowes’ (Lowes? Loweses?) buying PVC pipes. It was very romantic.

Until next time, my darlings!

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