Sunday, November 26, 2006

I like cake

There is a kid at our office (one of the new adjusters) that has that sign posted on his cube wall. It's pretty funny.

Traditionally, cakes have been my weakest point of all of my cooking. When I was about 23, I tried to recreate a version of my grandma's German chocolate cake. It came out pretty bad. I made it just like the recipe dictated, but it still came out bad. The frosting was great, but the cake was the texture and taste of a Frisbee. Since then, I really haven't tried to make any cakes besides cheesecakes on a regular basis unless it's specifically requested of me to do so.

However, the last year things have started turning around due to the fact that I have a lot of nieces and nephews that really enjoy cake. Kids just like cake better than cheesecakes and pies. My mother-in-law's favorite cake that I made her a few times before she died was a pineapple upside-down cake, which is pretty hard to screw up. The ones with the frosting are the ones that freak me out. Last year, my nephew Z asked me to make him a white cake with white frosting for his birthday, and nervously I obliged. I took my time, let the milk and egg whites warm before using them, and followed the directions to the T as far as mixing and beating times. I even set my microwave timer so I knew how long to let my mixer run when beating the batter. I never do that normally, but as they say, cooking is an art and baking is a science. It turned out pretty good. I'm not sure what I did differently other than to go slower...I did buy new cake flour, so that might have something to do with it, but I had used cake flour with the first GC cake that bombed too.

So, slowly my confidence has returned. I've used several Bed Bath and Beyond coupons to buy some new cake pans...those cool flexible silicone pans that believe it or not, are a LOT more user-friendly than the old metal cake pans that I have. So I have a pair of 9" round pans (red) and a pair of 8" square pink pans. I used the pink pans to make McKenna's cake for her birthday which was a yellow two-layer cake with pink buttercream frosting. Her cake was a single-layer yellow cake in one of the round pans with pink buttercream frosting. Both cakes were great.

And now it's that time of year again...Z requested another cake for this weekend and this time wanted the same white cake but with chocolate frosting. Again, I took my time, used my cool new pans, let the buttermilk and egg whites warm to room temp before using them, let the cakes cool completely before trying to frost them (patience isn't exactly one of my strong suits), and made this delicious chocolate lover's frosting off the back of the Hershey's cocoa container. I even decorated it with writing and non-pareils for color. My cake decorating skills need a little practice, but I'm really excited about the cake. We're taking it over to my father-in-law's this afternoon. I'm not really a frosting fan, but this frosting on this cake is pretty good.

And now, in true Erica fashion, I've decided that I want to master the art of cake-making. I kinda need I said above, kids just prefer cake. I have my eye on some flexible heart-shaped pans and I'm looking into some cake books online...namely The Cake Bible and Great Cakes. What can I say? Cooking is my favorite and most widely-used hobby.

So...I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I've been back from California now for about nine days...and my school went fine. I'm not promoted yet. My office told me when I get back that they want to reinterview me for the position (why, I don't know, since I've already interviewed in August) and supposedly the position will be effective December 1. Well, that's Friday and it's coming up soon. We'll see what happens. I'm not holding my breath.

Not much else is new around the campfire other than my husband got a new job which he is starting on Tuesday and we bought a new bed last weekend. New mattress, new boxspring, new bed (a real bed, not a metal frame), and bedding complete with a duvet. That was very exciting and now I'm getting better sleep since I can rest better.

McKenna's doing fact, she started walking while I was in California. She can't go more than a couple of steps, but it's really fun to see. She's just doing and changing so much right now. It's so much fun hanging out with her!

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their weekend!

Monday, November 13, 2006

I SUCK at blogging!

Where do I even start with this? I feel like I am SO BEHIND on updating my online friends, it's not even funny.

There are a few reasons for my blogging suckage of late...and here they are in no particular order:

1) I've been in Los Angeles for training and this is week #2
2) My company has modified their internet policy during the day (see how I'm blogging at night?)
3) I've been working from the office and quite honestly don't feel like booting up my computer at night

Frankly, and I'm sorry to be so honest, the main reason why I'm even blogging right now is because it's 9:19 pm California time and I am waiting for What About Brian to come on television and have NOTHING to work, no reading, no nothing. I'm SO. FREAKING. BORED.

So, here I am, going to write about everything that's happened the last few weeks. I can't even remember what I haven't written about, so I'm just going back to the last real update I have posted, which was October 15.

First of all, that employee that I blogged about in October quit about four days after I put him on performance management. For obvious reasons, I can't disclose anything more than that, but the fact that my entire team quit during the six weeks that I was supervising them really didn't booster my morale and faith in my leadership skills all too much. So, after I finish my training, I'm going back to Dallas, hopefully to be promoted and hopefully to a brand-new team of adjusters.

Our bathroom is done for the most part, albeit it still needs some tweaking. And such little tweaks that we just can't manage to get together. We bought a new toilet seat, but we still haven't bought a new rug or toilet seat cover. Our new shower head and arm leaks. We don't have any art on the walls. And it needs some touch-ups. That's the reason why I haven't posted any pictures yet. BUT, we have used the shower, and it's AWESOME...I love it. I hate the shower head, but I do love the tiled shower stall. It's kind of like standing in a hotel shower stall...the extra foot of room is really great.

McKenna is great. I actually flew home this weekend to spend it with her and P. I spent seven hours in the air, three hours on the road, and probably about two hours in the airports, but it was SO worth it for the precious hours that I got with her. She is such a sweet pea. She's not walking yet, but she's awfully darn close.

So let's see...our latest project around the house has been inspired by a couple of reasons. We have decided after ten long years of sleeping on an extremely crappy mattress and torn-up box spring sitting on a metal bed frame that it is time to replace our bed. Actually, P wanted to replace it several years ago. He started complaining about our bed about three years ago. It's not a horrible bed...well, at least it wasn't until I spent a week sleeping on this ultra-soft comfy bed at the Renaissance in Agoura Hills. After a week of that, my bed at home seemed like a torture device. It's soft. It's lumpy. And there is a permanent dip in the center. It's awful. Pair that with the motivational speaker the other day that lectured our training class on the importance of creating a heavenly bed to human beings' need for rejuvenation, and yes, we are getting a new bed. When I am promoted hopefully in a few weeks, I receive a nice car bonus for surrendering my company car. It's not much...but since we were smart back in 2001 when I got my company car and paid off our cars rather than selling them, I feel like we are entitled to buy a new bed. It was further supported by the backaches that I had Saturday and Sunday mornings when I woke up. So we spent a good chunk of time Saturday afternoon checking out beds and mattresses, and I think that we are going to buy them this weekend. And of course, that will involve new bedding, new sheets, new pillows, the works. I want a duvet SO bad!

So, that's kind of the story right now around the campfire. How about a meme or two or three to close out the entry? I had to really search to find a meme on my list that is still active...I guess I need to find some new memes.

Monday Madness:

1. If you could only read one blog every day- which one blog would be on your daily list? I really enjoy reading the Waiter Rant in my blogroll. If you don't read it, definitely give it a try. It's a waiter in New York City who blogs about his experiences as a server and life in the city.
2. What do you do to de-stress from a hectic day? I usually just sit on the couch and watch television. Boring!
3. What is your favorite piece of clothing to wear in the winter? Well, we really don't have winters to speak of here in Dallas, but I do really like wearing sweatpants.
4. Do you prefer discussing problems with a sibling, a parent, a significant other, a psychologist, or a total stranger? My numero uno person to discuss problems and issues with is my husband, P. Definitely.
5. How long have you been blogging? 2 1/2, has it been that long?
6. Which side of the bed? Left if you are looking at the bed from the door.
7. How often do you pig out when you eat? I really pig out when I go out to one of those Brazilian churrascarias...but how can you not for that much money?
8. Do you watch the space shuttle launches? No.
9. What's your favorite leisure-time activity? I can't definitely is a toss up between shopping, cooking, scrapbooking and cross stitching.
10. When is the last time you said, 'I love you' and to whom? What about hugs? Who is the last person you hugged? Answer to all three of those questions is my husband, P.

The Friday Five:

1) If you had to move 100 miles or more to the north, east, west, or south, which would you choose, where would you end up, and what's so great about there? That's actually a question that has come up this past week since I've been here in Los Angeles since I probably WILL have to relocate at some point with my job if I want to advance with the company. The answer is that I would probably consider moving to Denver or somewhere in the Colorado area. The reason why is because I would love to live somewhere with snow more than once a year and I ADORE skiing. Plus, my company does a lot of business there. There you go.
2) Do you have a favorite stretch of highway or byway for driving, touring, or wandering? I really enjoy driving up and down the North Dallas Tollway. I don't know why.
3) Are you happier to start a trip or return home? Return home.
4) Plane, train, automobile, bicycle, or foot? I prefer driving.
5) Do you overplan or underplan your travels? (Assume that "no" is not a valid answer.) I'd say I overplan if I had to choose, but I don't think I underplan either.

Okay, two minutes till my show. Thanks for tuning in! (Please don't give up on me yet.)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Hello from La-La Land

Yup, I'm out in Los Angeles again for training...this time for the training that is going to make me a leader. I'll be back in a few weeks.

I don't have much to update on right now other than to announce that my daughter turned one year old yesterday. We had a small family party on Saturday...I made spicy chicken tacos, fruit salad, and a yellow cake with pink buttercream frosting for my little princess....but she got a cake of her very own. Daddy decorated it by lettering it with the following: "You want a piece of me?!?" and she proceeded to do just that in about a matter of ten minutes. She put a pretty good dent into it for sure...she ate about half of it! Anyway, the party was a huge success.

And I miss her like crazy right now!