Ok, well they're only famous in my family, but still. It's the one single recipe that I know I make better than my mom, so to me that's something. She can take care of the gourmet chicken recipes and apple pie (seriously, nobody else on the planet should be authorized to make apple pies -- hers put all others to shame) but when it comes to brownies, nobody else in my family even bothers. It's my territory.
I've been making these in some form or another since I was old enough to bake -- the recipe is actually adapted from a kid's cook book I had when I was a child! They might not suit everyone, but these are exactly what I look for in a brownie. They're dense enough to warrant being called "brownie" instead of "cake," but not so dense that they're fudge-like. They're sweet and chocolatey, but it's not like Willy Wonka's factory exploded in your mouth. There's such a thing as too sweet and too chocolatey. And they end up with a really amazing, thin crusty top that I've never been able to duplicate with any other brownie recipe.
Ok, so here's what you'll need!
1/2 c. melted margarine
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 350'. Melt the chocolate in the microwave on low heat. Mix the margarine and sugar with a wooden spoon. (I always taste test at this point. Margarine + sugar = yum!) Add vanilla, eggs and melted chocolate. Mix well. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the batter and stir well. Oil a 9" square baking pan (note: you can use an 8" pan, but for some reason they come out sooo much better in a 9" pan) Spread batter into the pan, bake for 30 minutes. Once cool, serve and enjoy! (And if you live with hungry siblings, you should stash a few brownies in your room so that they don't eat them all.)
Last week I got I Like You, Amy Sedaris' party planning/cook book that's been on my want list for ages. It's jam-packed with great recipes, funny stories, witty anecdotes and silliness. My favorite part is the recipes (ok, and the silliness.)
She has a lot of meat recipes that I might try with tofu or fake chicken, but, as usual, my first inclination was to skip to the index and look for all recipes with "potato" in the title. I tried the most scrumptious-looking one last night -- Roasted Potatoes in their Jackets.
The recipe is SO simple. Just preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat the bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil and sea salt. Add your little potatoes (This really only works with little potatoes. The best part is the skin, and if you cut large potatoes into chunks it just wouldn't be the same!) and toss them in the oil/salt combo. Amy doesn't say whether to cover the pan or not, so I covered it for the first 25 minutes to make sure the insides of the potatoes cooked well, then took off the lid for the remaining 20 minutes to let the skins get crispy! The result is so delicious! The insides are like perfect mashed potatoes -- creamy and flavorful without even adding any butter or seasonings. And the skin (the skin!!!!) is salty, a little crunchy and utterly mouth-watering!
The potatoes looked so amazing, but, alas, I made dinner at 10pm so the lighting wasn't exactly suitable for taking photos. Thankfully, there was this pretty cool photo from the cookbook that I could steal instead :)
Making sure your pictures look great on etsy can be tough, since the "list view" has pictures cropped to even squares and the "gallery" view has pictures cropped to wide rectangles. But if you use this photoshop action (or just follow the steps on your own) your pictures are pretty much guaranteed to look great in both shop views.
For treasuries and front page features, etsy always uses the gallery view -- so you want your photos to be cropped to look their best in this setting. I've found that if the sides of your picture are missing a little in the square view, it's hardly noticeable and doesn't take away from the image. But if your top and bottom are cropped out, it's usually VERY noticeable and detracts from the item.
So here's what you do:
1000 x 806 is the exact ratio of a gallery-sized photo, and reducing the size to 600 just makes the upload process go a little quicker. It's also a good size for uploading to your blog or facebook.
I combined these steps into a photoshop action (aka one of the best computer inventions ever!!) so that I just have to hit the play button when I open my photo and POOF! it's magically resized!
If you'd like to download the action, just right click on the file and save it to your computer:
coat- Old Navy
Thanks to a few Old Navy rewards checks and a pretty hefty coupon I got last week on facebook, this tan trenchcoat with awesome yellow lining AND a black trenchcoat are mine all mine! Now I just wish the hot weather would be on its way so I can start wearing them! :)
Somehow I stumbled upon a boat-load of pink kitchen appliances on Amazon, and now I'm itchin' for a kitchen of my own.
Actually, I've been itching for a kitchen (I can only drop a 'g' so many times in one post before my inner grammarian gets angry) for eons now. I already picked out my table set, and I'm debating whether or not to buy it now and keep it in storage, or just keep my fingers crossed that IKEA is still selling it in a couple of years. Wanna see?!?!
Now I'm picturing it in a little kitchenette with lovely pink appliances and.. hmm... baby blue/teal walls? Ooh! With classic film posters on the walls for movies like Breakfast for Two (1937), Dinner at Eight(1933), The Man Who Came to Dinner(1942) and Our Daily Bread (1934)!
Since my number one favorite way to spend my time (besides watching movies, playing with my cats and drinking grapefruit juice) is fiddling around with my blog designs, I decided to use that enthusiasm in a more constructive way, and open up an etsy shop for web design! I might add more things in the future, but for now I'm offering my services (that sounds so cool, by the way!) for blog design, blog headers, etsy banners, tumblr design and blogger overhaul! It's all at slightlyterrific.etsy.com (Scathingly Brilliant is taken. BUMMER!) So exciting! :-D
Belt- Old Navy
So... I've decided to do outfit posts every now and then. The main reason is that I desperately want to be comfortable in my own skin, and I think this will help. I eat super healthy and I exercise, and yet I am perpetually about 15 pounds overweight... so I think I need to just get used to what I see in the mirror and learn to love it. I think that posting outfit photos, and putting myself out there will help me to do that. Also, I think there's a serious shortage of short and pudgy girls posting outfit photos, so I want to help fill that void :)
A couple things you should know about me:
1. As you can tell by the fact that I placed a red oval over my face, I also have some insecurities in that area as well. I'm hoping these posts will help me overcome this hurdle too.
2. I don't have designer clothes, so what you should expect here are "how to look not-half-bad wearing cheap clothes from Old Navy and Forever 21 while being short and pudgy" posts ;-D
3. While I don't want people leaving comments saying I'm fat (seriously, that will be just plain mean) I also don't want people trying to be nice and saying I'm not pudgy. I know I am, so let's leave it at that, shall we?
4. I do not get out often, so my room will be the backdrop 99.9% of the time.
5. If you can't tell already, these will probably be really boring posts (I don't get out often, I don't wear designer clothes.. blah blah blah...) but just bear with me :-)
One of my favorite lunches is a quick meal I throw together with chick peas and tomatoes. It's probably the simplest, fastest dish I make -- and by far one of the most delicious! Me and my dad always fight over who gets the last bit of food left in the frying pan :)
Just heat up some oil in a frying pan, and add a nice helping of tomatoes (I like to use one container of grape tomatoes, cut into halves.) Rinse off a can of chickpeas and add them to the mix. Once the tomatoes are softened and the chickpeas are a little browned, add about 1/4 c. of panko (Japanese bread crumbs, but normal bread crumbs work ok too.) I like a lot of bread crumbs, but you can just add them until you get the consistency you want. Then toss in some garlic powder, oregano and parsley. Let it all cook for about five minutes and you're done! I love eating this as a main course, but it's also great as a topping on crusty bread, and could also work as a side dish for dinner!
So many of the reasons why my mom is wonderful are private and personal to me, and I can't share them here. Suffice it to say, she's come to my rescue so many times when I had dilemmas or crises, and supported me through everything. She's my personal hero, and my absolute best friend in the whole world. She's the humblest person I know, and the person who has the most reasons not to be humble.
She's awesome in a gazillion different ways, and I seriously think I'm the luckiest person in the universe to have her for my mom.
Today we had to put the cats away in my bedroom for a few hours while my great aunt was visiting (she's scared of cats) so when I went upstairs to let them out, this is what I found. (Obviously I did not have a camera handy)
I spent about a half hour Chloe-proofing my room prior to locking them in (I don't have to worry about Hypatia, but Chloe is an ornery little thing!) but no matter what I do, she always manages to get into SOMETHING. Somehow she literally tugged the string from my thread rack, pulled it across the room and sat there eating it. This afternoon was spent laughing at how hilarious this sight was when I first walked in and saw her, and heaving sighs of relief that I found her before she had eaten the whole spool!
ps. Don't worry, when we pulled the string out of her mouth, the little bit she had swallowed came with it. A tad gross, but I thought the postscript was necessary :)
Hypatia's been sleeping with this little squirrel toy as if it was a stuffed animal. Even if we play catch and it ends up on the floor, she puts it in her mouth and brings it back up to bed each night. It's adorable!!!
Here's an outtake from our Wednesday photo shoot :)
In addition to handmade, etsy also lets you sell vintage and supplies. So I'm using my old shop (kategabrielle.etsy) to get rid of some of my craft supplies I don't use anymore and clear out any vintage items I don't want/need before moving. I only have 12 things up so far but I'll be adding more if anyone's interested in taking a peek. I do have up a really cute 1960's orange coat I purchased from LA Vintage last year, and (unfortunately) that white "hat of my dreams" that I purchased a couple weeks ago. I didn't realize that it was real leather, which as a vegan I don't wear. But if you like it, it's yours for the asking :)
I got these super neat stickers at Michaels yesterday. They're scratch-n-sniff in the strangest scents... I got pickles, pizza, popcorn and suntan lotion and coffee for my mom (she's an addict.) The pickles smell like a deli, the pizza smells like pizza with lots of oregano on it, and the popcorn smells like Jelly belly popcorn, not actually popcorn (but that's ok with me because that's my favorite JB flavor!) The suntan lotion is ... just blech.
But seriously, the pizza stickers. They smell SO good.
But they're kind of dangerous. I kept smelling them all afternoon and by dinner time I just couldn't take it anymore, and had to call out for the real thing.
ps. Speaking of Michaels, why oh WHY is Paula Deen selling a line of ugly paper goods there now? Not like Michaels was really that cool to begin with, but this totally ruins it. Speaking of which, why can't I live in a town with a real art supply store, instead of these chains that cater to stay-at-home scrap-booking soccer moms? :-\
Since I use my closet as a workspace, I had to find a place for my clothes and stuff.... so I converted our extra powder room into a dressing room by covering up the bath tub with a sheet of plywood and making it into a raised closet. I use my mannequin for hats, glasses and scarves and hung up some curtains on the walls in the tub to conceal the tile.... I probably took a big chunk of money off our selling price by messing around with the sink counter top. It was an ugly builder's fake marble laminate (blech) and I wanted it to look modern but worn (well, it made sense to me..) so I painted the whole thing a bright orange color with oil paint, then painted over it with light blue latex after it had dried. Then I peeled away some of the latex so it would look distressed. I think it's totally awesome, but I doubt an average suburban family will feel the same :-\
Anyway... it's been pretty awesome having a separate room for getting dressed, and it's one of the things I'll probably miss the most when we move...
Anyway... it's been pretty awesome having a separate room for getting dressed, and it's one of the things I'll probably miss the most when we move...
I am perpetually late (kids in kindergarten used to chant "Kate is late" when I walked into the classroom after the bell had already rang each morning. I am not kidding.) so I guess it's no surprise that, once again, "Gratuitious Picture of Hypatia Wednesday" is being posted on a Thursday...
But anyway, I did take the picture yesterday... that counts for something, right? ;-D
It's been one year since I redecorated my room (before/after picture here) and I still love it just as much as I did last July. Ever since I was like six, I've always been changing things around on an annual basis -- moving furniture or repainting the walls or getting new bedding -- but this year I really didn't need to change anything because I love it the way it is. I did add a couch for a few months, but then I realized it was blocking my A/C vent. It's now camping out in the basement until autumn rolls around.
Our new goal is to be out of the house by Christmas, but with the way the housing market looks I have my doubts that we can unload our house by then :-\ Anyway, I have my paint chips saved, because when we do move I'm going to paint it exactly the same colors. We're going to be getting rid of most of our furniture (including my beloved bed) but I'm hoping I can re-create the look accurately if I refer to the million pictures I've been taking :)
ps. expect me to be posting a lot of pictures of my house, and things from when I was little soon. I want to be able to come to this blog after I've moved and look at the rooms I'm sure I'll miss, and the toys from my childhood that we couldn't bring with us...
filed under: home, moving, my room, notice my epic dirk bogarde tcm poster above the tv, studio
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- If the best things in life are free...
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- my famous brownies
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