Saturday, May 26, 2012

I have photos now. Photos are cool.

Yes yes, shut up, I know it's been another three-month hiatus from posting but I've been sucked into the glamerous-ish grind of car sales and my life is no longer my own. Or I just haven't felt like taking the time. You pick. Go with the option that makes you feel the best, because as we all know, I"m all about the warm fuzzies.

"Lies. Lies and slander."

Please ignore the Pirate Pants Peanut Gallery, he's mad because I make him go for boring runs that involve not ripping my arm out of the socket to go chase rabbits.


Oh yeah, I run now. Running is cool.

Not having clothes that fit anymore is less cool, but it's cool they're all too big, right? Right. Moving on...

So anyway, car sales (finding my footing), re-joining the ranks of the Swingin' Single (God this is weird) and getting ready to move out of Les Parentals (another step in I'm A Real Adult Now Land). 

"You're taking away my back yard. Bitch."

But there are kitties where we're going...


"Kitties are my favorite. I like to hug them and squeeze them and pet them and call them George."

Another little update: There was an unfortunate gravity-induced incident that resulted in the violent death of the D80, so I've been borrowing my parent's D40 (the above pictures) and then begging the use of the D300 that belongs to one of the finance managers. I almost feel like there are too many buttons on that camera. The learning curve is steep like WHOA. I'm still not 100% sure how I feel about it, but I did get to use it for the Supermoon that happened earlier this month.

And the final piece of news: I HAVE A GALLERY SHOWING. Someone is crazy enough to want to put my photos up on their wall and charge money to other people who want to take them home. O_O

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A picture

Yes, you heard me. A picture. Singular. Solo. Un. 

It is a picture of a cupcake, so that counts for something, right? 

This is one of the Blue Moon cupcakes from the last post. Yes, it's an iPhone picture. I abuse my laptop enough by having it near the baking area, I'm not going to kill both my top electronics at the same time. 

Anyway, they turned out quite well! The cupcake itself was very moist and fluffy at the same time, though I really need to invest in a microplane for the orange zest. I also added a lot more OJ to the frosting than what was called for, because I really wanted that orange taste to counterbalance the "wheat-y" taste of the cupcake itself. 

That recipe also makes enough frosting for oh...a bajillion cupcakes, so bake accordingly. I took in this first batch to the dealership and the reviews were favorable, so guess what I'm doing tomorrow?

If you guessed "using the rest of that frosting" you are correct, sir!

The new job at Subaru is going brilliantly, I have to say. There's enough structure so I know what to do from day to day, but the people and situations are vastly different. And there's a lot of positive reinforcement, both from the managers and from that particular adrenaline high one gets when closing a deal. 

In short, this is an addictive personality's dream job. 


I've got four cars on the board already and I just really started selling last weekend. Some of the guys that have been doing for a very long time don't have a single one up yet. I am hoping beyond hope this means that I'm actually good at this and it's not just beginner's luck/flash in the pan. I'm also getting the vibe that I'm pissing off some people by doing having numbers like this right off the bat and I'm not quite sure what to think of that. I'm taking it as part flattery and part "I'm still way too new to be wanting anyone to be upset with me."

I do get to drive anything I want on the lot and whatever trades come in. The other day this meant I got to take a spin in a Honda S2000. That was nifty. 

And I'm privy to sneak peeks of new models, such as the new BRZ.
I may have needed a moment to myself afterwards.

The hours are a bit killer; I pulled 11 hours straight yesterday and 10 today. I'm very glad I got used to those types of days at the stables and that there is enough going on to make the time fly! At least tomorrow is Sunday and I can chill out. Sort of. There's the plan to do some major spring cleaning/reorganization, so we'll see if that actually happens. 

Hey, I'm being an adult in a bunch of other ways now, what with the getting up early to go run with Sawyer (who is LOVING this idea), why not try and drag my sporadic cleaning abilities along for the ride?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Moar cupcakes, part troix

Or something like that.

There's an experimental batch of The Bitchin' Kitchin' Blue Moon Cupcakes in the oven right now. I saw these pinned on Pintrest and then this happened:

I'm writing this as I'm waiting for them to get out of the oven. The only change I did on these to compensate for the altitude was bake for 15 minutes at 365F instead of 18 minutes at 350F. So far they seem to turning out just fine, so take notes, chocolate things!

I've been asked for the recipe to my Deconstructed Red Velvet Cupcakes, which is trickier to post than it sounds. See, I sort of made things up as I went along, but I said I'd try. Results may vary.

I swiped the basic cupcake recipe from Baked Perfection

Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 - 3 Tablespoon(s) red food coloring (depending on how bright you want them)

  • Put a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  • Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute in between each addition. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture alternately with the milk and red dye in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating until just incorporated.
  • Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes, or until the cakes a pick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes then remove cupcakes from muffin tin and let cool on a wire rack. 
Cream Cheese Frosting
recipe from Martha Stewart

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners' sugar, sifted
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, and then vanilla; mix until smooth. Frosting can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; before using, bring to room temperature, and beat until smooth.

Here's where I started to improvise. See, most Red Velvet cakes have cocoa powder to them, making them essentially chocolate cake in disguise. As you might have notice, there is no chocolate to be mentioned in either of the above recipes. 

And we just can't let that happen!

So, to the frosting, I added a couple tablespoons of ChocoVine Espresso Chocolate Wine (between 2-4 depending on what frosting consistency you're shooting for)  and somewhere around a heaping teaspoon of cocoa powder.

I also whipped up a chocolate-wine-infused ganache.
  • Bring 1 cup of heavy cream to a simmer and pour it over 8 oz of finely chopped chocolate chips, using a heatproof bowl (something that will retain heat; I love using my grandmother's Corning bowl for this). I also prefer using dark chocolate whenever possible and this was no exception. I love the Ghiardelli baking chips!
  • Let this sit undisturbed for one minute and then stir from the middle outwards to combine. Add in a couple Tbsp. of the chocolate wine again and mix well. 

Using an apple corer if you have one, or a sharp knife if you don't, cut out a small hole in the cupcakes, about 3/4 of the way down and pipe the cooled ganache into it. You want the consistency to be something like warm chocolate pudding, so it doesn't just run right out of your piping bag/ziploc bag with the corner snipped off. Don't overflow the holes.

Frost as you want. I used an open star tip and the traditional frosting swirl. You could sprinkle some additional cocoa powder on top for a finish, or just leave as is.

So, there you have it. Tell me how these turn out for you! I'll post pictures when I make another batch.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Baking spree

Cold and snow always bring out the domestic side of me. If you follow me on Facebook or Pintrest, you're probably already well aware of this fact. In the summer, I turn heathen again and refuse to be indoors for any longer than absolutely necessary.

Cupcakes have been my running experiment for the past couple of months and I've learned some interesting things. One, altitude really does make a huge difference when baking things that require some sort of rising action. I've been able to counter this in most recipes by simply adding an additional bit of flour, anywhere from a tablespoon or so to a 1/4, depending on the size of the recipe. However, this apparently doesn't work with chocolate stuff. Both the Carbomb cupcakes I've made before and the Black Magic Cake I made last week have fallen like a drunken giraffe. I don't know if it's the oils in the cocoa or what. So, those are still works in progress.

However, the White Russian cupcakes and my Deconstructed Red Velvet have turned out just fine.
Anyhow. I also whipped up a new frosting to go with the Black Magic "Swimming Pool" cake I made for a friend's birthday last week. I even made the cake twice and while the second batch came out *slightly* better than the first, they both resembled swimming pools. I finally said screw it and hoped the frosting would amend for my failures.

" "Better than You Hoped" Mocha Bailey's Frosting" started off as a regular buttercream frosting with butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Then came in a bit of coffee, Bailey's, cocoa powder and just because it was lacking a bit of that "oomph", I melted up about 2 oz of chocolate chips and mixed those in. The result is that I now have to get that damn chocolate cake figured out, because I'm getting requests for this again!

Tuesday will mark a week of me being at Subaru. I'm pretty sure my brain melted out of my ears that first day, what with the hundreds of pages of reading and cramming for my licensing test. I passed, so it was worth it. What brains I had left are being filled to the brim with product knowledge and general selling tips. Coming from a direct sales background, I don't have quite as far to go with learning how to "sell" and such, so mostly I'm learning the difference between the trim levels and what makes the CVT so different and all.

Eventually I'll get around to including pictures again.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Starting tomorrow

I will have a regular routine again.

The next morning after I wrote the previous post, I was awoken by Subaru calling to say all came back clean on the background check (I knew they wouldn't find those hookers for at least another two weeks!) and I needed to go take the requisite drug screening for the final step. Something about not wanting coke heads driving fast cars? Anyway, got that done after an episode of performance anxiety aka I hadn't drank enough coffee yet. Waiting in a screening clinic is an interesting experience to begin with, because there is such the wide variety of people coming in for screening. Some were like me and doing it for pre-employment. Some were doing it for workman's comp; one lady had just taken a bad spill on the ice and was jumping through WC hoops. Another guy probably had to come in as part of his probation terms. Interestingly enough though, with the exception of the one guy who left, it was all women sitting in the waiting area.

Ever had coffee so bad it made you dizzy? I have. Second worst cup of coffee in my life and that's saying something. First worst was in an airport in Glasgow, which can almost be forgiven because while the Scots know how to do a lot of things, coffee is not one of them. American waiting rooms make bad coffee out of sheer spite.

Still, it was nothing a massive dose of sugar couldn't help.

I've gotten so spoiled by my French press. Holy em gee spoiled.

The results of the screen came back today, so I got another phone call to tell me tomorrow was for sure my start date and where the HR office is to go get processed. The Real World sure has a lot more steps for getting a paycheck than just about anywhere else, sheesh. But it's all gravy from here, the glamorous world of people walking in for a BRAND NEW CAR! /priceisright

I also went to the Scentsy Spring Spring (spring product launch) today and have a lot to gush about, but that's going to wait until tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Maybe not the traditional type; once I go to sleep I can usually stay asleep. However, my circadian clock, when left to it's own devices, gets all sorts of screwed up. Or on English time. Something. Did you know there's some really neat stuff on BBC at 2am? There's this new show called "The Fades" and incorporates zombies and higher beings and fantastic accents all into one show.

Soon though, I'm going to have to force myself into some sort of regular routine, seeing as how I've landed a Real Job. Or at least I'm 98% sure I have. I find myself simultaneously amused and saddened that I just can't take a good thing at face value anymore and keep waiting for something to happen, for some sort of cosmic "PSYCHE!" thing to come about. So you know how in my last post, I talked about my younger, taller and luckier other half coming to visit? A handful of months ago, she told me how she had talked her way into a sales job at a Mazda dealership. Like literally walked on to the lot, chatted with another sales guy and ended the day with a new job.

She also has an overwhelming desire to be awesome and move to Colorado, so her last day here, we skipped around to a handful of dealerships around here and attempted to repeat that experience. It didn't pan out that day and so she headed back home with the hopes she'd have some phone interviews and be back out soon.

Instead, she was head-hunted by Audi. She's awesome like that.

So early last week, gripped by a vague restlessness and an over-riding desire to be earning some sort of sustainable income,  I decided to hit up Dealership Row on my own. I started with Acura--honestly because it was the first lot I came to, not because I'm THAT OCD--and worked my way down to Subaru. At each one it was some variation of the same. "Fill out this application, our sales manager is busy. Go online and fill that out, we don't take paper applications. We're not looking currently, but feel free to leave your resumé." Being in direct sales for the years I've done, I'm not exactly a stranger to various forms of rejection.

It doesn't make it any nicer to hear, just that I can now make a game of how many tally marks I can get in one day and keep hunting for that YES.

So on down through Lexus, Honda, Toyota, one after the other, watching my handwriting alternately swing between improving with use (it's never been that great to start with and the countless hours of typing hasn't improved it any) and getting shaky because I was getting famished for dinner, I walked into Subaru, rattled off the same line I'd been using and sat down to fill out yet another generic application. I never thought I'd have my high school address memorized again 10 years after graduation, but there you have it.

I handed it in...and that's where things changed. A manager talked to me and didn't blow me off. In fact, I had an interview on the spot. Then another one.

And then they offered me a position.

I had pulled a Stefanie. 

Now I'm just left doing what I do worst--waiting patiently. They said they had to do the background check and that was going to take a handful of days and then the drug test and then the paperwork. I'm still waiting to hear back from the background check because of the weekend and this brings us back to the beginning of the post.

With every passing day--and the fact that I gave my two weeks notice at the boarding kennel and they just decided yesterday was going to be my last day--I keep waiting for that other shoe to drop. It just doesn't seem like things could finally coming together to the point that I will actually be gainfully employed at a Real Job with Real Money, Real Benefits and all that jazz on my 30th birthday after years of scraping by, making do, wondering why all of it just wasn't coming together like it should have been doing, yadda yadda yadda.

So in the meantime, I'm cramming brochure facts about features, horsepower and model differences so that when I do officially start, I can get off to a running start.

I have a puppy to buy!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Friends, Frosting and Fotos

Ah, alliteration, you have such an amusing...oh forget it. I'm too tired to be clever tonight but I figured I owe you good people some type of post since that cheater post about SOPA/PIPA. It's been a roller-coaster of a New Year already, what with getting completely and utterly addicted to Pintrest. What with the cooking and the crafts and the photo ideas, I feel like I'm becoming a  Real Adult. Then I look on Twitter and realize there is no such thing as a Real Adult anymore. You just get more stuff and less sleep. But at least I'm keeping busy.

  I do have some decent pics to share, so, allons-y!

My dear friend Stefanie from over at MX5 Insanity came to stay for a few (not enough) days and thus we embarked on a chaotic, flour- and shutter-filled adventure. We both love to cook and bake and I had stocked the supplies for just such an occasion! The first night started off with my honey-dijon-bacon and cheese on chicken concotion, to which we added french-cut green-beans cooked in bacon grease with crushed almonds and garlic and Stef whipped up a couple loaves of the easiest and most delicious beer bread EVER. The recipe can be found here. She made two batches and used the beer a friend of my brother had home-brewed. It was supposed to be an English Bitter, but for some reason it was more of an "English Flop". Worked fantastic in the bread though--proof you don't have to use the bestest beer out there. I get paid Friday and assuming I have anything left over, I'm getting more beer to make more bread. 

Waking me up in the morning is never a good idea if you value your life and limbs. However, waking me up in the morning with a cup of coffee and some of the aforementioned beer bread made into toast, now replete with boysenberry jam, will significantly improve your chances of me letting you live through the experience. Also, there's a very good reason Stef is my friend and doing things like this is why.

We spent the first couple of days just sort of hanging around, doing stuff. I had to work the day after she got in, so she entertained herself and took Sawyer out on some nice walks. Thursday is when the real fun started. Sawyer underwent a significant amount of torture in the form of a thorough bath in preparation for a photoshoot we were planning. He promptly undid everything by running through the river when we got to the location. It worked out anyway.

"Papillion Dress" by Anthropologie

The model

Sawyer's contribution

This winter has been unusually warm, which doesn't exactly bode well for the summer, since we're way down on snowfall both for here and in the mountains themselves. But, it does make it very easy to take shots like this!

 And while the water was still plenty cold, at least there wasn't a bit of ice to be seen:

There were a couple of guys doing some fly-fishing just downstream from us and apparently standing next to a highway wasn't enough to clue them into the fact that they weren't up in the High Country and there might possibly be other people around. Sawyer had on a long drag line and was having fun following me around the rocks and such and doing a few laps when he found a tennis ball. He was also barking a little bit at the fishermen, because he learned a few summers ago that fishing poles going back and forth means that at some point there will be fish attached and that means he gets a fish head snack. Hence, the barking.

Yes, this was taken less than 100 yards from a major highway

Apparently this was very offensive and they called the park ranger on us, because it's just too hard to come up and say something yourself.  Did you know that a dog in a down/stay with a long line attached is still considered to be a "Loose Dog at Large" and you have to be physically holding the leash for it to count? I very nearly snapped into Argumentative Mode when Stefanie said she'd hold the leash and the ranger realized that I was just standing around in a river with a camera in my hands for shits n' giggles. Suddenly he got a lot more polite and said that he would also accept the leash being tied around something. I'm guessing he thought we were doing Senior Pictures or something, but he left pretty quickly. Stefanie had had enough of the river and "WTF mosquitos" that were hanging about by that time anyway, so we just moved locations.

I had fun editing

Sawyer made another appearance

We originally had plans to go over to a friend's house that night and play with their indoor studio setup, but after that shoot, both of us were rather tired. So instead, we made cupcakes. Lots. Of. Cupcakes. 

Did I mention she's pretty handy with a camera?

I had tried out a recipe for White Russian cupcakes last week and they turned out SO BLOODY GOOD. I'm going to adapt a few mixing tricks I learned from this recipe into the next time I try the Carbomb Cupcakes and see if I can't make those any better. So for this week's Baking Blowout, we were going to mix up a double batch of White Russians and then I was experimenting with a version of Red Velvet. 

This recipe includes copious amounts of Kaluha, plus some vodka, hence the whole "White Russian" moniker. If you're like me, you like to improvise a little with the directions. My recipes usually include a line for "make as much of a mess as possible because you're a hopeless klutz."

Like so...

Mixing the batter

I do love spooning...

While those were merrily baking away, I started in with the next batch. The basic recipe can also be found on Baked Perfection (same blog as the White Russians) and is the Red Velvet Birthday Cake. About the only "red velvet" part about it is the red food coloring and velvet texture, but whereas traditional RVC is essentially a chocolate cake with red food coloring, this was more of your typical vanilla cake with red food coloring.

Or in our case, red and blue food coloring because we didn't have enough red

By itself, this batter was actually kind of bland. But once I mixed up some ganache with chocolate wine and used that as a filling, it was a great balance to the decadent ganache. We did use the cream cheese frosting recipe that came with the batter recipe, though we added some chocolate wine and a smidgen (maybe 1/4 tsp) of cocoa powder to tie the flavors to the cupcake.

Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the finished deliciousness because we were actually frosting these in a mad rush the next day because we were late to an event where these were highly expected. Suffice to say, the phrase "JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL" would not be out of place in describing just how brilliantly these came out. The White Russians are still my favorite, but the cream cheese frosting on the red ones is amazing. I will definitely be making them again!

We did, however, find time to use the frosting for nefarious deeds: