Celebrate, Day 21 (or, I Love Barre)

One quick glance at the blogs I read on the regular, and it’s quite clear I’m getting hit over the head with the message “Enjoy the Everyday” every day.  And mostly I love it.  Because I’m totally into that idea that every day may not be great, but there’s something great in every day, and Pinterest-y quotes like that.

But on some days, it’s a challenge to enjoy the little things; some days are tough.

And on those days, it’s imperative that I hit up barre.

I heard about barre from Elise, who got Queen Cupcake started on it.  Then Ali went this summer, and like the next domino in the line, I fell.  I’ve been barre-ing it up for about a month and a half now and it’s not just that I love it, it’s that I don’t remember life before it.

I love barre because it works parts of me that I hate working on my own.  I will run, or walk, or bike, or zumba, or engage in any kind of cardio you can name.  But toning up muscles?  Ew!  I should do crunches and push ups at home, I should.  But I find it so mind numbingly boring to do so and I haven’t figured out a way to stick with them through the pain.  Oh, the pain!

Enter the best hour of my day.  And I go almost every day.  It’s a great workout, it’s a great atmosphere, and I can’t recommend it enough.  If you’re thinking it’s expensive, you’re right.  If you’re thinking it might be worth it, you’re also right.  Give it a try, dear readers.  I guarantee if you’ve had a frustrating day, you’ll leave it all behind after you’ve hit the barre.

Celebrate, Day 20

I’m throwing a disclaimer up here at the top of this post, because I have to show you where I stand.  Dear readers, I get to design a kitchen.  And I am so excited to do it.  But please don’t think I have an endless budget, and can put anything I want in the square footage I have to work with.  I’m just a girl with a Pin button and a dream.  And a husband who is tracking our spending like there’s nothing else he’d rather do (there may be some truth in that).

But here I am anyway, putting everything I love right here in this blog post, so that when all is said and done, I can look back and see how the real space compares.

farmhouse sink.

First of all I’m going to have a pantry.  And you may be wondering what that has to do with a farmhouse sink with a gorgeous window on top.  But dear readers, that pantry means I don’t need (to pay for) as many cabinets.  And that means I can put windows on top of my lower cabinets.  Let the light in!  (source…I couldn’t get back to the original blog)

biiiig.
This is the layout our kitchen will have, and I’m super into the idea of a sink on the island, and another at the counter for the heavy dish-doing.  (source)
stunner.
I love the look of the runners on either side of the island here.  This also reminds me of Ina’s kitchen with that vaulted ceiling that is to die for.  But our kitchen won’t have that.  (source)
backsplash wall?
The idea of taking tile all the way up one of the walls is appealing, but it would have to be some killer tile.  (source)
double wide.
I’m totally into a butcher block counter on the island, for aesthetic and practical purposes.  But do you think it’d be too high maintenance?  I love that built-in cookbook storage no matter what.  (source)
beautiful.
I don’t think I’m brave enough to paint all the lower cabinets this deep, deep blue,  (source…again, can’t find the original)
navy island?
but I could do the center island in navy, a la Young House Love (RIP, source).
back of the pantry.
I think that’d pair so well with a pop of yellow on the back wall of the pantry.  That has to happen. (source)
f yes.
And the idea of glass-front cabinets makes me giddy, but do I have enough cute kitchen paraphernalia to store in them?  (source)
I can’t wait to get started on this particular aspect of our house-building.  Obviously, the kitchen will be white–the cabinets, the walls, #allwhiteeverything.  And the floors will likely be a deep, dark, cherry-ish wood color.  It’s going to be so rich.  It’s going to be so great.

Celebrate, Day 19

Or, I love a long weekend

whale's tale pale ale.

This one was a revelation.  I’m used to an annual trip to New York each fall.  It tends to be filled with all my favorite people, places, and things.  And this year it isn’t happening.  And that’s a bummer for sure because if there’s one thing I love more than New York, it’s New York in the fall.

vineyard vines maryland hat.

But I sort of got my New York weekend.  This weekend.  Here.  In Maryland.  This is a huge deal.  Maryland and I have a love/hate relationship in which it does nothing wrong and I hate it anyway.  But now it’s kind of official that I live here, and I have no choice but to embrace it.  Aside from buying obnoxiously preppy items emblazoned with the flag, I’m even starting to like life here.  I think I could even get used to it.

Celebrate, Days 17 and 18

Sorry I missed yesterday, dear readers.  I had every intention of posting, and then I had one of those days where you’re swept from one activity to the next, and before I knew it, I was at home, crawling into bed after a day well-spent.  This weekend is magical.  The weather is cooler and crisp; just how I like it for fall.  And I have plans with so many of my favorite people.

pops.

One of the best parts about being between homes right now is that I have fewer responsibilities than I used to.  I’m not responsible for cleaning as much, doing as many dishes, or performing as many house related chores.  I’m taking this as an opportunity to say yes to as much as possible.  Yes to dinner with Pops when he’s in town.  Yes to the football games and tailgates, and yes to barre (more on that later).  Happy weekend, dear readers.  I hope yours is as wonderful as mine.

Celebrate, Day 16

On October 10, a coworker and I celebrate an Anniverthday.  What’s an Anniverthday, you ask?  It’s a combination anniversary (mine), and birthday (hers).  This year was even better because another coworker of ours got married as well.  When she came back from her mini-moon, we were ready to celebrate.

The only rule about an Anniverthday cupcake is that it must be some sort of hybrid, as our invented holiday is also some sort of hybrid.

chubby hubby cupcakes.

The new bride requested something chocolate and peanut butter in nature, and I went straight to these.  I love when someone gives me the opportunity to make a cupcake I’ve been waiting for.  I debated splitting the recipe in half and then I realized that there’s no such thing as too many peanut butter frosting-ed cupcakes.

These are some of my favorites.

To make about 30, you will need:

For the cupcakes:
3 cups cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
1 cups malted milk powder
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1¼ cups buttermilk, at room temperature

For the filling:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups coarsely chopped pretzels

For the frosting:
3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Pinch of coarse salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. heavy cream

To garnish: 
Mini pretzels drizzled with melted chocolate (I used Flips)

 

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add in the sugar, about ¼ cup at a time, mixing for 1 minute after each addition. Blend in the malted milk powder. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl and mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing each addition just until incorporated.

 

Divide the batter between the prepared liners. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Add the cream to a saucepan and bring to a simmer (or warm in the microwave). Remove from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chocolate; let stand 1-2 minutes. Whisk together until a smooth ganache forms. Whisk in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time until completely incorporated. Let stand at room temperature, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened.

 

To fill the cupcakes, use the cone method to fill the cupcakes part way with ganache. Top off each ganache center with some of the chopped pretzel pieces (or a few pretzel M&Ms). (You don’t need to replace the cake tops for these cupcakes but you can if you would like.)

 

To make the frosting, combine the butter and peanut butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar and salt. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the vanilla and cream just until incorporated. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whip until light and very fluffy, about 4 minutes. Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip (I used Ateco #809). Pipe a swirl of frosting on top of each cupcake. Garnish with a chocolate drizzled pretzel.

Celebrate, Day 15

One thing I am beyond excited to celebrate this year is Halloween.  I haven’t had trick or treaters stop by my house since I lived with my parents years and years and years ago.  I am going to buy bags and bags and bags of candy and live it up with these ladies, as we watch our favorite children come by.

halloween prep.

 

Celebrate, Day 14

Over the weekend, we hosted our first shindig at the new house.  It was amazing in that I’ve discovered the secret to no-stress entertaining.

Empty your house of every single item and ask people to bring stuff.

the secret to entertaining.

We said we’d supply pizza and bottled water if our friends brought everything else.  Tables, chairs, plates, glasses, flatware, napkins, beverages, salad, and dessert.

When I entertain under normal circumstances, I balk at the idea of people bringing things.  I may ask for a bottle of wine, or an easy app like cheese and crackers, but I like to give off the impression that I’ve got things under control.  And in truth, I do.  It doesn’t stress me out to prep for parties; I like the process.

But there was something freeing about this.  Something that made me feel like maybe, just maybe we could have people over every week if it was this easy.  I mean, I think eventually we’ll at least provide the table and chairs.  But maybe not much more.