Archive for March, 2010

Welcome, spring?

Ava keeps reminding me that spring is here. I’m not so sure.

Olivia Fix

Found objects

I have been saving wine corks for years, tossing them into a pretty crystal bowl in our dining room. Mom and Dave recently made me a set of trivet bases, which I filled with a few of my favorites.

The cork on the bottom was from the bottle of wine we shared on a recent anniversary.

I snagged this one following a fabulous dinner with my Madison girlfriends a couple of years ago.

This set also reminds of them…

Some don’t have sentimental meaning—I just find them interesting. I love the red stains on the ends.

Corks could be completely utilitarian. They are concealed from sight until a bottle is opened, then likely tossed aside without notice. I admire the attention to detail and effort devoted to something that could be so plain.

My collection, though, isn’t growing like it used to. Now, many great wines have screw tops, and I often skip over a bottle in favor of a box, because it’s . . . um . . . better for the environment. Sure, that works.

In case you’re wondering if all this wine—and my tendency to attach meaning to seemingly useless items—will land me on the next episode of “Hoarders: Buried Alive,” rest assured I’m not saving the boxes. You have to draw the line somewhere.

“Smile really big this time.”

Mint chocolate cupcakes

I made these for my birthday last week (it’s office tradition to bring your own treats to share . . . kind of like preschool, actually). The recipe is from Martha Stewart Cupcakes. I used the one-bowl chocolate cupcake recipe, which I know I have raved about before. I added mint extract and cut down on the vanilla just a bit. The cakes are super fast and very moist.

The frosting is fresh mint buttercream, made by steeping fresh mint leaves in milk. I can’t say I’ll make this again–it was extremely complicated and time consuming. And, in the end, it tasted like minty butter. It did set up nicely for frosting, though, and this giant star tip is quickly becoming my favorite.

I topped each cupcake with a leaf, which I made by painting melted chocolate on the back of a mint leaf and peeling it off.

“Our trip to the zoo” or “Mom’s a pushover”

We ended up taking the girls to the zoo last Sunday—we had a few errands to run in Topeka, and it seemed cruel to be in such close proximity and not stop, especially after the shenanigans the day before. I’m glad we went—the rest of the town was there, too, and the weather was gorgeous. We even ran into friends!

Perhaps most notable, we saw the new mountain lion exhibit for the first time.

Olivia called to him, “Here kitty, kitty, kitty.” It worked!

The rainforest is also one of my favorite stops.

We found this guy roaming around . . . Bryan was certain he should have been caged, and Ava was not amused.

And, just as my dad used to visit the zoo only to make “you otter…” jokes, Bryan trotted out the favorite, “Hey, let’s go see your cousins” line once again.

All in all, Ava was right: It was a pretty good way to spend a weekend day.

Make a wish

Bryan and the girls made me a birthday cake (from scratch!) earlier this week.

The only one more surprised/excited than me was Olivia.

For what more could I possible wish?