Monthly Archives: October 2011

D’awwww

20111030-083810.jpg

The adorableness continues. It’s times when she looks like this, that I forget she’s pure evil! She is the perfect pet for Halloween though, no costume required!

Advertisements

Like Eating Glass

Because Halloween is my favourite holiday (and yesterday was hell), I decided to not only go all out for my costume this year, but also make fantastic baked goods. I had seen a really awesome recipe in Martha Stewart Living and wanted to bake my own.

For the cupcakes I made a red velvet base and added some dark chocolate chips to the batter as well. I used a cream cheese frosting recipe, but any white frosting would do. You want the “blood” to show up on the glass/frosting, so the lighter the better.

The glass is incredibly easy to make:

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water

Combine in a saucepan and heat to a boil. As soon as it boils, reduce the heat to medium-high. Heat until the caramel reaches 300 F (150 C) and then pour immediately into a metal sheet pan that is sprayed with cooking spray. A metal sheet works best because it is flexible. Tilt the pan until the sugar mixture covers the bottom of the pan in a thin layer. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes and then break it with a spoon or the handle of a knife. I used a beat-up tray, so I didn’t feel bad twisting it and hitting it with utensils.

This was a lot of fun to make!

Then you take the glass, insert it (several pieces) into the top of the iced cupcake. The semi-finished product looks really fabulous:

Up close and personal with the cupcake

I ended up making 24 cupcakes, but four would not fit on the tray. I used the leftover “glass” to cover the bottom of the tray, to give them more “awesome points“:

I can't wait to see people's reactions to these!

Finally, you will need to drizzle “blood” over the glass for that super creepy effect:

Delicious blood (aka raspberry syrup)

20 cupcakes all in a row...

The syrup wasn’t as red as I was hoping for, but the overall effect is nice!

Also, this seems like an appropriate song for the post!

Happy Weekend Before Halloween!

Hallowe'en!

Recipes I Can Cook in My Sleep

Today my, “only living with me for a week” cousin, informed me over my lunch break that we would be having guests for dinner. She hadn’t asked if it would be alright, so I was a little peeved with her. Thankfully it was only three of her coworkers and they were laid back. I decided to make a vegetable soup recipe that I love and the dinner went swimmingly. I felt pretty good about throwing a delicious dinner together on such short notice and it was all because I have stashed away four, “go to” recipes which I thought I would share. These recipes are easy, quick and don’t need ridiculous ingredients.

1. Fish Tacos
– This recipe is fairly easy and the fact that it is highly customizable means you can make a variety of guests happy. I really like fish tacos because they are light, quick and it is often something people haven’t tried. I enjoy introducing people to new foods and this recipe is easy enough that I have used it on plenty of occasions.

Fish Taco leftovers make a great meal the next day!

2. Spinach Pesto

– One of the easiest recipes I have ever made. Its simplicity is what makes it so delicious. This particular pesto is low in calories and can be made in a matter of minutes. It is great when you need to fix lunch quickly or when you would rather showcase a side dish at dinner.

3. Vegetable Soup
– Do you have vegetables that you purchased at the Farmer’s Market that need to be used? Do you have a large stockpot? Then you have the main ingredients for this easy recipe. I often empty the contents of my crisper drawer for this recipe and it has never let me down.

Vegetable soup for the surprise guests.

4. Pierogi
– Not only can I make this recipe in my sleep, I think I learned how to make pierogi before I could even talk. The secret to a good pierogi is the dough/filling ratio. Make sure your pierogi aren’t too thick, but also that they don’t bust when you cook them.

Morel mushrooms make the best pierogi filling, but they are difficult to find and expensive.

Each of these recipes have saved me many times. I recently purchased four bins and filled each with the non-perishable ingredients used to make the above recipes. I figure that, if I ever find myself in a bind, I can grab one of those bins and quickly prepare a meal without having to look up a recipe! Since I used the vegetable soup recipe today, I will have to refill the bin for future use.

Question(s): Do you have go-to recipes that you know by heart? Willing to share?

Perfect Halloween Decoration

20111016-110540.jpg

If I could just get her to sit in my front window and arch her back….

Eat, drink and be scary.

It’s that time of year and the season to rule them all has officially arrived. The air has a certain crispness to it, everything has a bit of pumpkin in it and the leaves are covering the ground in a gorgeous array of colours. It means that fields of corn are about to be harvested and people are finally breaking out their newly purchased jackets/coats. The best season ever is here! It’s finally fall and I couldn’t be more excited!

I'm jealous of this random woman who gets to enjoy fall. In fact, I hate her!

Ok, that’s a lie. I could be more excited about the autumn weather if I was actually able to experience any of it. Back home, autumn means all sorts wonderful things are happening. In Hermosa Beach, however, it’s just another gorgeous, sunny day. Another perfect day, just like the other 325 days of the year. I haven’t had a single loaf of pumpkin bread, a pumpkin cookie or a piece of pumpkin pie since fall began. Since the weather here is rarely below 60 degrees (F), I don’t even have to wear a heavy coat. Living in Hermosa Beach has put me in a serious Fall Funk and only one thing can get me out of it.

                                        HALLO-FREAKING-WEEN

Yes, I totally picked this for YOU.

Halloween is my favourite holiday. I love everything about it. The food, the festivities and especially the crazy people I always meet. It is the one day of the year where it is ok for me to dress like a crazy person and it is completely copacetic. My costumes on Halloween are always over the top and I pour every ounce of energy I can spare into making them look amazing. Who wins every Best Costume Award at every Halloween party they attend? Yup, it’s me. Winning this particularly coveted award is a source of pride for me and I go all out to make sure I blow the competition out of spiked, green punch.

Growing up, my mother would make sure that all of our costumes were the most fantastic in the neighborhood. One year I wanted to be a dinosaur, except that my best friend also wanted to be a dinosaur. Not to worry, my mother had the most-over-the-top-dinosaur-costume-ever thing covered. She spent countless hours in the weeks before Halloween sewing and painting in her craft room. The day of Halloween, she proudly zipped me up in my homemade dino costume and I was the envy of all my friends. I put my best friend’s costume to shame (something I feel bad about now, but back then I was more like EAT IT BECCA)! So you could say that I have been a “competitive costumer” since I was young.

Each year, I start planning my costume well in advance. Months of prep work are required for fine-tuning and I spare no expense when it comes to the details. My costumes are never based on what is popular at the time and they aren’t always “normal girl costumes.” One of my favourite costumes was the one I made in 2009. After much deliberation, I decided on Alex from A Clockwork Orange. I special ordered a lot of the items needed for the costume and had to take the pants to a tailor to make them fit properly. I even scoured thrift stores for the perfect pair of boots and a cane that I could paint to more accurately match the one in the film. Needless to say, my costume was a massive hit with those who had seen the movie (and even some that hadn’t.)

Except...a girl...

Last year, I finally constructed a costume I had wanted to make for a while: a valkyrie. I purchased a handmade leather valkyrie mask*, Roman style sandals, a shield and I rented a sword. I then sewed a costume based on this picture (which was not easy since I don’t sew well):

I didn't have a horse to complete the look though.

The costume was absolutely incredibly and I need to find out if my aunt kept any pictures of it. I only got to wear the costume twice (sadly), but I have kept it for when I want to wear it again.

I am absolutely thrilled this year though! I have been invited to not one, not two, but THREE costume parties. The first costume party will be happening Thursday night. It isn’t that big of deal, just some people from work. The invitation said that it was a masquerade party and that we only had to bring a mask (no full costumes). Since I have a ridiculous collection of masks*, I am going to wear:

I totally wore this around the fair all day.

This mask came from a Renaissance Fair a few years ago (yes I went to a Renaissance Fair, what of it?) I decided to wear the Seraphim Mask with a shimmery dress and hopefully the costumes simplicity will make it a hit.

The second party I am going to is on October 22 and I will be dressing as this little guy:

I’m excited to wear the costume I created, as I had a jacket made to match the The Little Prince in his “formal” uniform (seen above).

The last party is the night of Halloween. I’m not sure if I will be able to go though. If I am able to make it, I have considered using the valkyrie costume again, since I love it so much. If I do, I will take lots of pictures!

Scary

Happy My Favourite Holiday!

*Since the purchase of my first leather mask, I have acquired around 25-30 more (10 of which were custom-made). I plan on amassing some sort of crazy leather mask collection and I have a blast picking new ones out. Bet you didn’t know THAT about me, huh?

Question: What are you doing for Halloween? What costumes have been your favourite? What are you going as this year? What was your favourite Halloween candy as a kid?

How to Procrastinate Like a Pro

Even though I’m a very driven person, I am also a top-notch procrastinator. In high school I would wait until the last-minute to write all of my research papers. Often I was up early in the morning, finishing an article review or journal entry for an 8:00 a.m. class. I would stand around, clutching a Pop-Tart, cursing our printer as it slowly spit out my last-minute project. I always received high marks for the work, but I’m sure it wasn’t the best I could do. My procrastinating never really hurt me, so I assumed that it would be the same throughout college.

Must...get...paper...done...

In college I started to become obsessively organized. I developed a system that allowed me to highlight, mark and find notes easier. I had a massive collection of Sharpie highlighters and Post-It flags for the sole purpose of note taking. I would read all the assigned chapters well in advance, again the day before and then highlight the important parts discussed in lecture. During lecture I would take notes using the Cornell method, highlight those notes in ROYGBIV. I gave sections highlighted in RED the highest priority (and so on down the spectrum).  I would then flag the paragraphs in the book with a corresponding Post-It flag colour, so I could easily find the page when studying my notes. Then I would re-type my notes in an outline format. Every class had its own folder which I tabbed and colour coded. It was a little embarrassing.

You would assume that this kind of obsessive organizing meant that I was always prepared for every course. This was, however, not the case. I was constantly waiting until the last-minute because I used the organization as a crutch. I assumed that if I was organized and I understood it to the nth degree, I would never have problems. Throughout medical school I was constantly waking up in the middle of the night because I had a case study review or lab write-up due in a matter of hours. My repeated procrastination lead to me walking around like a zombie, a ridiculously organized zombie, but a zombie nonetheless.

That was me, sans the cannibalism.

As medical school wore on, I continued to let things wait until the last-minute. My procrastination branched out from academia and eventually started affecting my relationships. I was often buying ridiculously expensive presents for people I barely knew because I had forgotten to buy their gifts in advance. While I was in NYC for my residency, I remembered that I had a party for a relatively new friend in 20 minutes. As I was on Canal Street, I literally walked into the first shop with a dress in the window and bought a purse for the birthday girl. The store was Derek Lam and the purse was something like $700. Needless to say, the girl was thrilled. I however, was less than thrilled that my procrastination had set me back $700.

Even after graduating from medical school I continue to wait until the very last second to do anything. Asking for time off work, purchasing plane tickets, having dinner with friends, the list goes on and on. I’m not really sure why I always wait so long to do anything. Some people have said that it’s a control issue, and others view it has one of those things that makes me, me. Regardless of why I do it, I wish it was something I would outgrow. I don’t see the point in being insanely organized if it doesn’t seem to do me any good!

Maybe this post is like an introduction at an AA meeting. Perhaps I am crying out for help or some sort of intervention.  In that case:

My name is RO and I am a procrastinator.

I will get addicted tomorrow..

Questions: How did you stop  procrastinating? What tips/tricks would you suggest I try?

Update: 30 Books Challenge

Since I have been feeling under the weather and I have basically been camping out in bed, I thought I would update my “Books I Have Read” list:

Still To Read 2011
:
– A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
– The Map of Time by Felix Palma
– Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
– Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake
– Titus Awakes by Mervyn Peake
– Busy Monsters by William Giraldi
– The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities by Ann Vandermeer
– The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
– The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
– Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
– Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
– The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
– A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
– The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
– The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

I can also add to the list:

The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

I promise a much more substantial post when I feel up to it!