Friday, December 28, 2007

Holiday cupcakery

During the holiday break I tried a couple of recipes from Cupcakes! I made gingerbread cupcakes for a Christmas party, topped with honey cream cheese frosting and a few pomegranate seeds.

Gingerbread cupcakes
Gingerbread cuppies in the setting sun

The recipe calls for filling them with lemon curd, but I used apple butter from the farmers' market instead.

Inside the gingerbread cupcake
Inside the cupcake

Dan and I did not stay too late at the party, so not sure how everyone liked the flavor combination...hopefully the cupcakes were enjoyed by all. The weekend before Christmas I made reindeer snacks at Joanne's, for Wii-playing, Elf viewing, gift-exchanging, and general merriment.

Reindeer snacks
Dimly-lit reindeer snacks

The chocolate sour cream cupcakes were topped with white chocolate buttercream and crushed peppermint candies. The menfolk helped smash the candies. I couldn't believe the grocery store ran out of candy canes!

I made the placemats from InStitches as part of Joanne's gift, though I used regular heavy interfacing instead of the dreaded Timtex.

Placemats for Joanne
Lavender & brown color pairing

The dotty edge fabric was also the lining of her Swing Bag, a gift last Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Winter white

No snow in San Francisco...in fact, there has been very little rain so far...eeks! But last week I got infected by a cool weather bug, so I had to skip a couple of holiday parties that I had been looking forward to...phooey! However, during my recuperation I did some knitting...hooray!

Winter white scarf
Winter white scarf

Pattern: Seed stitch, I think I cast on 9 stitches
Yarn: Rowan Biggy Print, in a discontinued colorway, 3 skeins
Needles: US 19 bamboo straights

I got four skeins of this lovely white and silvery gray yarn, sadly discontinued, on sale a couple years ago. The wooly scarf is super warm, and I like the white and gray colors with my cheery red wool coat. But now I only have one skein left...will it be enough for a hat? Hmm...I wonder...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Peanut butter cuppies

Over the weekend my friend Jeff and his honey Drew celebrated their birthdays with a joint birthday bowling extravaganza, which I thought was the perfect opportunity to try this peanut butter cupcake recipe. The cupcakes turned out quite moist with a nice peanut buttery flavor, kind of like a peanut butter cookie, but in cupcake form...

Peanut butter cucpakes
Peanut butter cups

Even though the recipe recommends using Skippy peanut butter, I asked Dan to make his signature homemade peanut butter, grinding organic peanuts in the food processor with a bit of salt. I also swirled some of the peanut butter into chocolate ganache for the frosting, and topped with some chopped peanuts. The cupcakes were a hit with the bowlers at the party, except one. Birthday boy Drew likes peanut butter, and he likes chocolate, but not together! How can that be?? I still don't understand. But I ate his cupcake for him. Next year I must remember, just chocolate for his birthday...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dog-filled weekend

On Saturday Dan and I drove up to Santa Rosa to see my favorite cartoonist at the Schulz Museum, with Arrow in tow. She wasn't allowed in the museum (phooey), but we met up with Sally outside the Warm Puppy Cafe.

Arrow and Sally on Snoopy's bench
Beagle meet-up

Sally sniffed Snoopy's chocolate chip cookies.

Sally sniffs
Mmm...can I have one?

The beagles also met a bassett hound!

Arrow and Sally meet a bassett hound
Hello hound friend

I was pretty excited. Then on Sunday Arrow went to Sally's house for a doggie Halloween party. Arrow went as Snoopy, same costume as last Halloween. Sally was the queen bee-gle, sitting in her own little chair too!

Queen bee
Who invited all these dogs over?

Brody the golden retriever puppy was a moose, and Si the samoyed went as himself.

Brody and Si
Are you a dog? Or a moose?

Dodger the black lab/border collie puppy was a spider, but he was too fast for my camera. He tried to chew his own tentacles, which was hilarious for the humans to watch. Sally changed into her Snoopy costume later in the evening, so there were two beagles-as-beagles. The humans enjoyed many deep-fried delectables at the party, including oysters, zucchini, and sweet potato fries. I made orange-ginger doughnuts and strawberry pie.

Strawberry pie
Piles of strawberries

Dan and I picked the strawberries last weekend at Terra Firma Farms' annual Farm Day, and making strawberry pie has become a sort of annual tradition...a bittersweet end to the strawberry season. This year I made a chocolate cookie crust...it was very tasty with freshly whipped cream.

It was a weekend full of doggie fun!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tri for cupcakes

I took a road trip to Tahoe over the weekend, so cupcakes were in order! I made banana cupcakes filled with salted caramel, topped with chocolate ganache and toasted coconut.

Banana caramel cupcake
Cupcakes for the road

I thought it was a nice combination of flavors, and they were well-received. Here is a just-frosted cupcake in the morning light...

Banana caramel cupcake
Solo shot, ready to eat

And a peek at the caramel inside...

Inside the cupcake
Gooey filling

Also, earlier this month I participated in my second triathlon event, Tri Girl Tri...and I finished! I was rather nervous about doing it, since I haven't been working out consistently since school started (swam once and just a short bike ride). Here I am crossing the bridge near the end of the bike course...

Wannabe triathlete
Wannabe triathlete

Friday, September 28, 2007

Fall color

School is keeping me busy, and I am (hopefully) getting over a cold. Some fall color in the sky on a recent weekday morning at Chez Arrow...

Fall color
Sunrise over Bernal Hill

It's autumn!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cupcake gig

This weekend I made cupcakes for a children's birthday party. The party had a carnival theme, so there were polka dots all over. (The decorations were beautiful, but I foolishly forgot to photograph the main room.) The client wanted neutral colored frosting with colored dots to match the party colors.

Cupcake table
Dotty cupcake table

I made 50 cupcakes and 50 mini-cupcakes, plus a bunch extra of each. The color-coded flavors were chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate buttercream, coconut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, lemon cupcakes with Meyer lemon buttercream, and vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream.

Cupcake sign
Flavor signage

Transport went smoothly, thankfully...even though I have made cupcakes for two weddings, I still am a bit nervous until the cupcakes have arrived safely at their site.

Cupcakes to go
Cupcakes ready to go

I have not heard back from the client yet, but I hope the cupcakes were enjoyed by the partygoers!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Arrow's new friend

Joanne's sister Jenny adopted a beagle...meet Sally!

Arrow and Sally
Arrow blinks for the picture

The beagles joined some knitting ladies at Opera in the Park this weekend. It was a lovely afternoon...knitting, listening to arias while noshing and petting two beagles! Sally is smaller than Arrow, and she has cute freckles on her paws. The beagles were very busy...

Arrow at Opera in the Park
Sally naps

They took turns napping...

Sally looks at Arrow
Arrow naps while Sally looks on

I made apple cardamom cupcakes for the occasion, with apples from a fellow teacher's apple tree.


Apple caramel cupcakes
Apple cupcakes for a picnic

The cardamom seeds I ground up in the mortar and pestle were so fragrant that I decided to use only half the amount, and I think the resulting cupcakes were spiced just right. I filled them with caramel and used my favorite cream cheese in the frosting...a tasty combination...Sally seemed to think so!

Sally sniffs Maia's cupcake
Can I have a bite?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Birthday clutch

It's been over a year since my last finished knit...too long! So for Joanne's birthday, I made her the felted clutch from One Skein.

Felted clutch
Pattern model next to actual bag

Pattern: The clutch you'll never give up from One Skein
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulky, wild violet colorway, almost 1 skein
Needles: US 15 bamboo circulars (16")

The bag didn't turn out quite so neatly as the model in the pattern photo, but it's still pretty cute. And it was a fairly quick knit...even for this slowpoke knitter! Here is the bag pre-felting...

Pre-felting
Not seamed up yet

I definitely want to try another pattern in the book...of course, I still have a lot of other unfinished knits...sigh!

Friday, August 31, 2007

End of summer

Even though the official start of fall is still weeks away, summer vacation is over...the children returned to school this week, and I am exhausted. I did manage a final cupcake bake before the kiddies arrived though, mocha caramel cupcakes, for a fellow teacher's birthday.

Holes were made in the vanilla cupcakes with an apple corer, then filled them with rich caramel filling.

Filling caramel
Blurred cupcakes filled with caramel

Swirls of mocha buttercream finished the cupcakes...I think the espresso powder in the frosting and hint of salt in the caramel provided a nice foil to the sweetness of the cupcake.

Mocha caramel cupcakes
Cupcakes ready to go

A delicious end-of-summer cupcake....and like summer, they're all gone too...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bountiful

Late summer in California = lots of yummy things to eat!

1. Dan planted four blueberry bushes in the spring, and they are finally ripening...just a few berries, but oh-so-delicious with yogurt and peaches.

Blueberries
Berry harvest

2. Pretty striped heirloom tomatoes from our CSA Terra Firma Farms and garden-variety red tomatoes from my mother's garden...

Tomatoes
Tomato tableau

One of my favorite summer foods is tomatoes marinated with basil, garlic and olive oil, piled on top of grilled bread...so tasty!

Bruschetta
Mmm...tomato-y

3. Green figs from Terra Firma Farms and little red plums from a neighborhood tree...

Plums and figs
Fig and plum

They are the key ingredients for another favorite summer treat, fig and plum cake.

Fig and plum cake
Enjoy with afternoon tea

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Rockin'

button

Jennifer of Piddleloop says I'm a Rockin' Girl Blogger! (She says Arrow rocks too.) Aww...thanks, Jen! Awfully nice ego-booster, especially since I've been in such a funk recently. I am supposed to pick five rockin' girls...but there are so many rockin' girls in blogland that it is hard to choose just five! Here goes...

  • Joanne and her bunnies rock
  • not martha, first blog I ever read and always an inspiration...Megan totally rocks
  • African Kelli rocks...triathalete saving the world while crafting and baking with such spirit...where does all that energy come from?
  • Portia rocks, dissertation mommy of two and always so positive...
  • Molly rocks...one of my favorite food reads, with a side of gorgeous photography
Keep on rockin'!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Stitch 'n Pitch returns

The second annual Giants Stitch 'n Pitch event was last week...so of course I made cupcakes for the occasion! I brought mango lime cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for the knitting ladies who attended with me, including Joanne!

Mango lime cupcakes
Slightly blurred cupcakes-to-go

The cupcakes were very moist, but I had hoped for a more pronounced mango flavor...next time I must find really ripe, flavorful mangoes. I used Nancy's Cultured Cream Cheese for the frosting, instead of Neufch√Ętel, mixed the lime zest into the frosting, and omitted the chili powder....I thought the frosting was quite delicious.

Unfortunately, no yarn in our swag bags this time, unlike last year...instead, there were giant knitting needles, a huge crochet hook, a tape measure, and a cross-stitch pattern.

Stitch 'n Pitch 2
Bag o' goodies

The game was uneventful until the late innings...which was good for knitting progress, I suppose. The Giants rallied and went into extra innings...but ultimately lost the game. Even knitters in the ballpark can't save the game, I guess!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Summer update

1. I rode the Bike for Breath 50-mile course...hooray! Thanks to everyone for supporting me in the ride for Breathe California, and to team captain Joanne for organizing team Aspiration!

2. I celebrated my birthday with friends and ice cream.

3. Dan and I took Arrow camping for a week, with his brother's family....we camped at Patrick's Point and Humboldt Redwoods and had a lovely time relaxing in the great outdoors. We enjoyed the beautiful views of the coast from Trinidad...

Trinidad
Pretty blue Pacific Ocean

Dan and I went canoeing with the beagle in Big Lagoon and Benbow Lake, where we spotted an osprey nest in the trees! We also walked along the beach and through Fern Canyon...

Fern Canyon
Walls of ferns

And while picking blackberries, I spied several bright green tree frogs in the blackberry bramble!

Froggy on blackberry
Hi froggy

With all the blackberries, we enjoyed blackberry cobbler twice two nights in a row...yum! And of course we toasted marshmallows to make s'mores nearly every night...mmm...despite a little rain midway through, it was a great trip to the redwood forest!

Redwood forest
Redwoods

4. I finished the final tome of the Harry Potter series.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Red, white & blue

On the fourth of July, Dan and I rode 30 miles through the hills of the Peninsula in the hot afternoon, with Joanne and Newt...Team Aspiration...I was beat after the ride! I hope I can complete the 50-mile ride this weekend. We went to a BBQ after the training ride...I made blueberry rose cupcakes with white chocolate buttercream to celebrate.

Blueberry rose cupcakes
Blueberry-topped cupcakes

The white chocolate buttercream initially piped into pretty swirls, but had spread out by the time of consumption...due to heat, most likely...luckily, nobody seemed to mind too much, and nearly all were eaten!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Summer hovel knit

It has been over a year since the last sit 'n knit, so over the weekend Chez Arrow hosted a few ladies for knitting, despite the hovel-y atmosphere. I made caramel-filled vanilla cupcakes with mocha buttercream for the occasion.

Caramel-filled vanilla cupcakes
Mocha swirls

Next time I will try putting more caramel inside each cupcake...

Caramel inside the  vanilla cupcake
Inside the cupcake

Dan and I also attended several birthday celebrations over the weekend. I made a knitting needle roll for Jess...

Knitting needle roll
For DPNs and circulars

And a polka-dot zipper pouch...

Zipper pouch & knitting needle roll
All rolled up and polka-dotty

I also made a couple sets of wine charms as part of Jenny and Graham & Sara's gifts...

Wine charms
Colorful markers

Happy birthdays, fellow Cancerians!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Aspiration

I am riding the Bike for Breath next month! Joanne organized team Aspiration...and Dan and I aspire to ride 50 miles with her and Newt. Arrow, our team mascot, is more interested in sunbathing than cycling.

Arrow in the garden
Solar powered beagle

We did a training ride over the weekend, and what better motivator than cupcakes? We're hoping to convince Joanne's sister Jenny and her husband to ride with us. Go Jenny and Andy! In addition to strawberry surprise cupcakes, I made black-bottom cupcakes with chocolate ganache frosting.

Black bottom cupcakes
Mmm...chocolate...

The cream cheese filling was pretty good too.

Inside the black bottom cupcake
Inside the black-bottom

Joanne and Newt recently returned from their European honeymoon, and she brought back lots of goodies! (She always brings yummies from her travels.) The Bueno and Tronky bars have been devoured, and I've sampled the Pear Pims and Bonne Maman tartlettes...tasty!

European treats
Yummy loot

They visited the Museo de la Xocolata in Spain (a chocolate museum...wow!), and got a chocolate cookbook for me...I'll have to brush up on my Spanish to try the recipes.

Chocolate prezzies
Xocolata loot

And she also got me some pretty things in Italy: a cupcake tea strainer, lovely Florentine paper, and a floral glass necklace charm.

Pretty presents
Pretty loot

Thank you Joanne! It's time to ride our bikes now!