Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cork Elves

These really are adorable. One of my favorite Christmas patterns :) Here are a few from this season!
and here's the link to the pattern

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Debby Moilanen's Cheese Chipotle Dip or "Texas Surprise"

Love. Mayo. Walnuts. Raspberry Chipotle Sauce.

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
5-6 green onions chopped
1.5 cups chipped walnuts (toasted, please)
1 cup (or slightly more) delicious mayonnaise
Raspberry Chipotle sauce

Thing 1. Raspberry Chipotle Sauce and Acquisition Thereof:
Just because you've never heard of it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I did have to scour NYC for it when I prepared this for my birthday last year. I called every Whole Foods in NY, but I was looking for a specific brand, and because alot of the stockers hadn't heard of it, I think they assumed they didn't have it. You just have to go look in the barbecue sauce/condiment aisle. I ended up getting it at the Food Emporium on Greenwich St. in Tribeca. Here in Michigan, after searching at Trader Joes (which seemed like the more obvious choice) I found it at Busch's. It looked like this:

Thing 2. Toasting of Walnuts:
You should know right off the bat that I am slightly allergic to walnuts. This is unfortunate because my tongue swells a little everytime I eat them but we all have our cross to bear. I love the taste of them so much that I usually just eat them anyway. I hope eventually that it will be akin to building up immunity to the itchiness of wool-- very much worth it.
In any case, I think walnuts are so much better toasted and I do it by putting them in a pan (I use Calphalon) and tossing them about on Medium-High (closer to Medium) until I can smell them. That's how I know they're done.

Thing 3. Actual instructions:
  • Mix first five ingredients and spread into a pie plate (or other serving dish. I have two pieces of Le Creuset-- one is a teakettle, and one is a small casserole dish which I use to make twice baked potatoes, and which I use to serve this dip.)
  • Spread a layer of Rasperry Chipotle Sauce on top. It should be thin-ish. But you should not be able to see the dip underneath.
That's it! Then you eat it with relish and wait for the swelling in your tongue to die down.
Texas Raspberry Chipotle Love.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Blue Cheese Walnut and Pear Tea Sandwiches

It was very fun to prepare for this tea party, and essential to the preparation was the book Tea Party by Tracy Stern. So many charming recipes and themes! Here's just one of them that was particularly tasty.

Blue Cheese Walnut and Pear Tea Sandwiches

4 Tbs softened butter (I always use salted even though recipes NEVER call for it. Sometimes you just have to follow your heart)
6 thin slices whole-grain bread, crusts trimmed
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
2 Tbs crumbled blue cheese
1/2 c finely chopped walnuts
1/2 ripe pear thinly sliced

Butter each slice of bread.

Mash together blue cheese, walnuts, and cream cheese.
Spread on three slices of bread
Add layer of pear slices
Top with remaining bread (butter side down, obv)
Cut however you want (triangles, squares, you know)

We adapted this recipe for Goat Cheese and Green Apple as well, also tasty!

Also on the menu:

Straight-up cucumber sandwiches
Bread (Crusts cut off)
Chive cream cheese
cucumbers slices
Dip along one side in chopped fresh dill

Nutella and Banana Sandwiches
Bread (crusts cut off)
Banana slices

Cinnamon Raisin Apple-Butter Sandwiches
Cinnamon Raisin Bread (crusts cut off)
Apple Butter

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Magnolia Vanilla Vanilla Cupcakes

I have made these many many times, and love the best of all of the cupcake recipes.
Some links for you:
And finally, the trick to frosting them. I have watched this video no less than 23 times. It's enchanting.

Two drops of red food coloring made a light and lovely pink.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Get ready for Recipe and knitting inundation

Yesterday was my birthday and we had a lovely tea party here at the apartment. It was great fun to host many new friends, and to cook and to knit! AND I finally got to use a lot of the serving pieces that my Memere gave me. So much fun. Alot of red glass dishes and bowls that are dainty and marvelous. A very fun afternoon followed by complete and total exhaustion.

Drake made this lovely photo montage of the festivities :)

We found out that we're having a boy! when they picked him up on the Ultrasound, he was kicking furiously (which I couldn't feel at the time, though I do feel movement occasionally.) I hope that he's not able to kick like that as he grows bigger, or I'm in big trouble.

SO... this is just a mini-post to tell you that I'll be posting a number of recipes (and links to recipes) that I used at the party-- thought it might be fun to share, and would love to hear what your go-to dishes are for entertaining. I'm starting with Debby Moilanen's Cheese/Chipotle Hors d'oevre, which I call "Texas Surprise" :) I first had this as a Thanksgiving appetizer at the Dantzler's house, and immediately was enchanted and have since made it several times. Before you read the next post with the recipe, you must just trust me that this is seriously delicious. Don't be a mayo-hater.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Drake's sweater

I've been working diligently on Drake's sweater in an attempt to get it finished before we find out the sex of the baby on TODAY! The appeal of knitting baby things is just too strong as they are both adorable and quick to knit. From a knitting perspective I wish that I'd married a shorter man, or at least one with shorter arms as Drake has very long monkey arms and is over 6 feet tall, thereby making his sweaters take the REST OF MY LIFE to knit. I think it'll be worth it though with this one-- Smokin by Jared Flood (who has a fancy new layout for his website, Brooklyn Tweed)

I woke up early this morning (so excited to go to the Doctor!) and am going to see if I can knock out most of the shawl collar on this sweater before we go in. I'm aiming for this being finished in time for my knitting birthday party on Saturday. :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Things that I like about our apartment

Curiosity wall with old ironing board (a.) I have my small but wonderful sheet music collection (b.) on top which I collected to leave on the tables at our wedding. Three of the pieces are framed, but we're aiming to frame most of them, since they're too delicate to play from. I have them stored in comic book sleeves.

Above the ironing board (purchased in Brooklyn at a Flea Market) are a collection of old pictures--
(c.) Drake's dad as a child,
(d.)his grandmother Dantzler and her sisters,
(e.) his grandparents in front of their first house,
(f.) my mother with cute little cinnamon bun rolls on the side of her head (she hates this picture and I LOVE it),
(g.)my grandmother and Great Aunt (Theresa?) when she was a novitiate

The rest of the pictures are various tin types that I've picked up in antique shops over the years. they're framed in 3D box frames, so I put some marbles in with the tintype of cross-eyed children for fun.

Keep Calm and Carry on Poster that we bought and had framed in NYC and Drake's electric guitar.
Marble collection in Drake's Grandpa Dantzler's cigar box

The horns (our first piece of taxidermy...) and the mini mystery door that we bought at a gallery when we were on tour in Brazil
My Memere Girouard's Cukoo clock that my cousin Jeff bought for her when he was stationed in the Air Force in Austria

Hand-cut stone bookend made by Drake's Grandpa Stanley. He did a lot of beautiful work with stone and jems, we have two sets of his bookends and they're so wonderful.

Drake's Big Game Fish of North America Antique map and Fritz the Brown Trout. We have two Brown Trout that Drake caught on a fishing trip with his dad. (Taxidermy pieces numbers 2 and 3).

Just a little peek into our apartment in Michigan!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Upholstery ideas

Remember these? I was deciding whether or not to go with a bold graphic pattern and paint the woodwork a glossy black. Risky since these are antiques as well as family heirlooms, and yet I want them to be featured and preserved and treasured and USED-- I don't want them to be
"front room pieces" that are never really sat in, and never quite fit in with our style. So risky, yes, but also possibly fabulous.

I chose fabric from IKEA in the end because realistically, I'd have to wait for years to save up enough to buy any of the designer fabric that I've been looking at from, say, Amy Butler.
This is Inger from IKEA and is priced at 5.99/yard. I feel strongly that this option would require painting the wood glossy black. A fun mod option.

The other option is to stay with a fabric that flatters the wood, and just refinish the wood naturally (though probably still glossy.) You'll remember that the wood carving is pretty intricate, and I don't want to overwhelm that either. And so we have:

Stockholm Blad from IKEA 8.99/yard

A more delicate pattern, and I think I could leave the wood as is, maybe gloss it up a bit. I'm opting most toward the black, but an intriguing option is to pop up the big chair with a little something like....
This!! Wouldn't that be fun? And it's glorious pink-ness would assure that I and I alone would sit in it.

Something to do while we're waiting

I fully intended to do a post on the fabric choices for my living room set months ago, and here we are in November. November! leaves! pies! my birthday! I've been horribly distracted by many things:

1. My coat doesn't snap. I am rapidly expanding and my coat will not contain me. This is both distressing and exciting.

2. Due to a scheduling snafu we did not get an ultrasound last week and I was horribly
distressed to the point of making myself sick. I can no longer predict my reaction to things except to say that it will probably be more dramatic than anticipated.

3. This means that we get the ultrasound this Thursday, and that we will find out the sex of the baby just in time for my birthday knitting extravaganza. This is a very good thing. I have been earmarking some lovely patterns which are all dependent on this information-- not so much in terms of color choices but in terms of trim/notions etc... here's what I'm thinking about:

These are all patterns from Special Knits: 22 Gorgeous Handknits for Babies and Toddlers by Debbie Bliss there are INFINITELY more patterns in here that I want to knit, such as the Eyelet Vest, the Organza-edged cardigan, the Hooded Kaftan (yes, a kaftan. it's lovely.) Right now it remains my favorite baby knit book.

Velvet edged jacket via Anny Purls flickr

Ribbon-edged cardigan via Anny Purls flickr

Friday, October 23, 2009


On Tuesday I was invited by Dr. Sean Cooper to come and do a Mezzo-mania master class at Bowling Green State University, and was very happy to oblige-- had a wonderful time guiding some lovely young mezzos. I may or may not have invoked Cartman from South Park at one point. but I swear it was necessary. and pertinent.

AND I got to visit the whole family, Jen and Hudson-- who I met a few years ago when Sean and I were performing in Pirates of Penzance in North Carolina and their new family member Sam, who is adorable and as happy as I've ever seen a baby-- even at bedtime. So great to have friends so nearby and the double bonus is that together we form a full quartet! Concerts will certainly ensue...

SO I left a day early and headed out to Columbus to visit the Grandey's and especially Lila who has grown sooo much from our last visit a couple summers ago. and LOOK! she's wearing the sweater that I made for her :)
My heart is glad... this is the first time I've actually gotten a picture of someone wearing my knitting. glee!
We played alot and danced and Lila showed off her adorable Halloween costume and Ali took me to baby stores including Babies R Us so that I wouldn't be so scared to go there alone....

We decorated Lila's room with adorable woodland creature decals, and I just about died of cuteness overload when she walked in to see it and whispered over and over "Oh my gosh!" it was pretty much the sweetest thing ever.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


pattern source
When I updated my status on facebook to alert all present that I would be "felting pumpkins" I was asked if I invented a new verb tense and was molesting a seasonal squash. Not so! I was doing this....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reupholstery project.

Phase 1. The raw materials.
And by that I mean the actual pieces of furniture that I will be recovering. I have a three piece living room set inherited from my Great Grandmother. It was recovered by my Great Aunt Evelyn. I'm betting that this took place somewhere between 1940 and 1960.... the fabric is rough and not too comfortable to sit on, and it is also pink. So there's that. Without further ado....Pink chair
Pink couchGreen chair
and a detail shot to show the woodwork....
So the questions/options are this, and I need you!
1. Paint the wood a glossy black and recover with a graphic print?
2. Keep the wood (maybe gloss it up) and pick a print with natural colors that enhance the wood?
3. Keep it neutral.
It's tricky. They are striking pieces and I don't want to take away from that, but I think that glossy black with a graphic print could be very striking.

Next post... some fabric options. Please feel free to suggest some in the comments too!

First picture

We went and got the first Ultrasound today which was great fun. Again, I couldn't stop giggling, though I had to because between me giggling and the baby wiggling, the technician couldn't take the measurements that she needed. (we're conspirators already, the baby and I...)

They did a 3D ultrasound too, but those pictures kind of freaked me out-- it looked like cro-magnon baby and I prefer this cute *familiar* look. You can tell in the picture that it's either about to suck its thumb OR if you have a very fertile imagination.... you can picture it as a fist-in-air gesture for a high note! Like the old baritone claw. :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tiny Dantzler!

Yesterday Drake and I went to the Dr. and got to hear the heartbeat of our new baby! It was so much fun... about 160 bpm which, if you are to believe heartrate predictions, indicates that it may be a girl. We're holding out for the Ultrasound and the end of October, but are looking forward to finding out then!

We're getting ready for a concert tomorrow with the Rochester Symphony and were going through some of the music at the office while waiting, then once we heard the heartbeat it became the official tempo everything we sang on the way home! and 160 is pretty dern fast...

I found out the day that I picked up Drake from the airport in NYC--right before we drove back to Michigan, and flew to Dallas to pick up our stuff. So perhaps that helps explain why all I've been doing lately is watching Golden Girls and napping. untrue, I've been doing LOTS of photoshoots, but there are days that I feel abominably lazy! No morning sickness thank goodness! People ask if I've had any cravings, which makes me laugh because I think you'd only have to had dined with me once to know that I have cravings ALL THE TIME. Like since birth. But no, I have had no strange cravings that are out of the ordinary. I did lie down on the ground once totally inconsolable but for the thought of garlic bread pizza. But that's not the first time that has happened...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


It's funny that the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser turned out to be the inspiration I needed to return to blogging.

When we moved into the new apartment in MI, there were a few scuffs on the wall, and we've been trying (unsuccessfully) to get some paint from our leasing office. Finally this morning I decided to try the Magic Eraser and after the first successful swipe I immediately looked all around for someone else to appreciate the magic. This is where you come in, blog.


I should've taken pictures. As it stands now, all you'd see is a lovely white wall.
As it should be.

Speaking of Magic, things have been super busy around here and I have some big news to share next week... I'll leave you to speculate until then.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Well here we are

In Michigan. all of the boxes are unpacked but all of the rooms are not put together. We hung a few things in the living room today.... pictures will follow when we're all finished, but I will tell you that I never expected to have this many taxidermied items in my living space. (Stew on THAT till the pics are up.)

So much has happened since the last post! All of the things that I listed here as a matter of fact.
Except that I didn't have a crying fit. Much as I had hoped/expected, as soon as Drake got back he took over and wrapped up the move like a pro. I was very thankful for that. Then I slept for a week.

An aside... Does the new Mercedes E-Class really drive itself? It stops the car if you don't, wakes you up when you're sleeping, and nudges you back into your lane if you wander.

OK. So you all know about the Cash for Clunkers program? Well, if you've ridden in our car you would assume (as we did) that our car would qualify handily. well it doesn't. the gas mileage is too good! curse you, Toyota, for making such a durable and fuel-efficient car!

Also I have a terrible cough. I went to the doctor, and she said that it sounded like it was only upper respiratory-- but what she didn't know was that I had just eaten a peppermint which had cleared it! Drake said that there's no way that a single peppermint could make the difference between early detection of pneumonia and upper respiratory congestion. He lacks imagination.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The dwindling summer days

Know hope, originally uploaded by Alta Marie.

What a great week it has been!
I've been taking a million photos. Packing a million boxes. Seeing friends, eating great food and getting ready for the big move.

I've been playing with a million different layouts with my new floorplan and furniture cutouts, imagining what on earth we'll do with three times as much space as we have now (hallelujah!)

Meanwhile, Drake finally has some time off in Colorado and tells me of meals out and swims in glacial lakes... summer is finally unfurling in all its glory

Monday, July 13, 2009

Feeling a bit overwhelmed...

chicago-5399, originally uploaded by Alta Marie.

In case any of you are tracking my whereabouts, wondering when I might be staying at your home or am visitable, I present to you my schedule for the next three weeks. (I also present to you this cat, Maui, who had such beautiful sea-blue eyes.)

July 13-18 NYC wrap up/pack up. I will be lunching/dinner-ing, shooting headshots, and doing a photowalk

July 19-22 Colorado visit. Seeing shows shooting fight scenes, doing headshots

July 23-24 (25?) in MA to pick up MA stuff, truck and my brothers

July 25-28th-ish Michigan!

July 30-August 2 Birthday extravaganza (not my birthday, my friends. It will rule all birthdays)

August 3-4 NYC- Drake comes home
(Michigan at some point)

August 8-? Dallas to visit/get our stuff

August 15- begin permanent(ish) residence in MI

I'm planning to have some sort of crying fit/breakdown somewhere between the 8th and 15th. Probably whilst driving the second moving truck up from Texas. Just planning ahead...

Friday, July 10, 2009

The wheels in my head are turning...

old time radio., originally uploaded by sunsandbeach123.

And I'm thinking that I would like to do a podcast. "Alta's Old-Time Radio Podcast" or something of that ilk wherein it is indicated that I will be hosting and also that Old-Time radio songs will be incorporated. And here's how...

My Memere at one time or another 30 years or more ago made an excellent barter-- she traded her hair salon services for a player piano. This is the piano that I learned to play on. Sometimes when she was watching General Hospital (that was my practice time-- 3-4 in the afternoon) I would sneak a piano roll in and pretend that I was playing. I would smack the keys at random intervals and yell "OH NO! I HATE PRACTICING!" to make it seem legit.

So when I return to Massachusetts in 2 weeks (God help me. I am not ready to move!) I will pack up the piano rolls and take them with me to Michigan. I will do this because then we will find a player piano (I've already located an appropriate candidate) and I will host a radio show. This way too, if people come to visit me I can have them on as guests. (see! it won't just be ice-fishing!!)

Heads up, Greg and Ben, as my first visitors(/movers) in Michigan, you will be my first guests and since won't yet have secured my player piano, I invite you to sing your much lauded version of "Rock me Momma Like a Wagon Wheel" (we'll have to splice in Dad on the spoons)

A new day is a'comin' ladies and gentleman...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 2

I was speaking with my dear friend A recently about how she quit smoking. One of the things that struck me about the way that she did it was that she didn't phrase it as "quitting." She knew she could smoke if she wanted to, but decided that she didn't want to. She chose not to.

I've decided to try this to break myself of Diet Coke. This might seem ridiculous and laughable, but I do feel strongly that this is a real addiction! Google "Diet Coke addiction" and see all of the sites that come up. This is no joke.

I'm behaving like an addict too, marking off the hours or days that I've successfully not had a diet coke. I've purchased a number of substitute beverages to scratch the itch... (2 cases of diet snapple-- and DON'T tell me that that's not any better because of the aspartame! I can't handle it! A girl's gotta live)

I have to say that this isn't the first time that I've tried to stop, but this is the most successful--at a whopping 2 days, which should tell you something about the addictive properties, or about my self-restraint...
I think it's because I do feel like it's a choice. I am choosing not to permit Diet Coke to act as formeldahyde and pickle my insides (something that I heard from a former addict.) I decided not to snatch the little 8 oz can that's been in the fridge at work for months, and now that I think of it is probably mine from a leftover business meeting so I should drink it and just get it out of the way.... I could if I wanted, but I decided not to.

I hope to decide not to drink Diet Coke for a long while. I'll let you know how it's going. If you find asleep at my desk, go grab that little 8oz can. I'm pretty sure it's mine.

Blogging vs. living

PJ and Whiteface, originally uploaded by Alta Marie.

I am sparse here!

In the battle of blogging vs. living, living is winning (I'm always glad of that.) It's strange, that when you have the most you want to share/talk about/think about you hardly have the time to do so.

Since the last entry I have gone home to MA to visit, photographed a wedding, and gone to Lake Placid for 4th of July. It was so wonderful there (as always) and I ate too much and relaxed a lot and spent a wonderful few days with many friends who I will miss terribly when we move.

My attempts to lure people to Michigan with promises of ice-fishing and cookies are falling flat in most cases. I hope to throw in the added lure of a player piano with countless piano rolls of hits of the 30's and 40's AND several operas. This WILL happen. mark my words-- Mom, that means you too. When we get a functioning player piano you're coming over to sing "It takes a long long train with a red caboose to carry my blues away" Ben do you remember that? that was your favorite player piano song when you were little and the piano worked. Ah memories...

Too bad Hammy (the hamster) ate the internal workings of the piano years ago before he died in a horrible hamster rollercoaster incident.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Beyond the wonderful photoscapes...

centraljune-4731, originally uploaded by Alta Marie.

Why did I trust my GPS so blindly?!? This is the part where the lack of a guardrail became exceedingly bothersome. You see, there is nothing protecting me (and my cousin's car) from the precipice!!

You may think it odd that I took some time to take photos on the way down this abandoned mule-path that I happened upon, but in fact I didn't.

When I first encountered this "short-cut" I drove it. Slowly. At 1 MPH while sweating profusely and containing heart palpitations. Seriously. My heart spent the whole ride trying to escape my chest, which I didn't appreciate since my mind was busy focusing on the road in front of me, and on trying to brake safely on wet gravel. At one point I had to exit the car to move large fallen rocks out of the way and that's when I started to worry that when I got to the bottom of the road it might be barred, and I would have to turn the car around and come back up. PANIC!

To make matters worse, I didn't even have my camera with me. I was really upset with myself, because I knew I would NEVER drive this road again.

When I finally got back to Central City after my adventure (Drake was in rehearsal, you see) I was shocked to hear that everyone had heard of this road! "Oh you went down Oh My God Road? in the rain? that's awful, I'm so sorry Honey!" I was comforted and affronted by this acknowledgement. Comforted because it meant that people knew about it and felt bad for me. Affronted because-- people had previously discovered this abandoned mule path and not blocked it off?!?! Are they trying to kill tourists? (Not that I should talk... we do the same things in MA, but it's more of a vehicular homicide. We induce the peril on the roads. sick but true.)

So the next day I took Drake to the point at which I turned right and everything went wrong. And it turned out that it wasn't Oh My God Road. I actually exited Oh My God Road in order to take a "short cut" (so determined by my GPS) down a short part of Two Brother's Road, only to rejoin Oh My God Road at a later point. This made me feel better/worse.

Naturally, I parked the car, and Drake and I ran down the road a while (it's very easy to run down, back up was an entirely different matter) so I could capture a bit of what I saw on foot. On foot, where you can turn and flee when it gets perilous.

Do you remember reading about all the UK drivers who followed their GPS's to imminent doom? I CAN'T believe that I am their American counterpart. I turned off a paved road, and after having passed several abandoned mines and buildings, as well as signs that said "Abandoned mining grounds. Please stay on road" "Road not maintained during winter" I kept going. The problem is, you see, that once you get to a certain point, you have no choice. You can't turn around on a narrow winding mountain road without guardrails by yourself. You have to keep going until you get to the bottom and determine whether you'll be permitted to rejoin civilization or forced to turn around and make your way all the way back up the mountain.

I guess this is where I should say that it's like life in that way...

Another.... would you have turned back yet?

centraljune-4729, originally uploaded by Alta Marie.

one of the abandoned buildings found along the way

centraljune-4724, originally uploaded by Alta Marie.

This photo represents the nicest part of Two Brother's Road

centraljune-4723, originally uploaded by Alta Marie.

Notice two things first.
1. See where the road appears to stop? Well it doesn't stop there, it just gets a whole lot steeper.
2. See how there's no guardrail? not as urgent at this stage of the road (which is very well maintained in comparison to what's coming) but it soon becomes a source of great distress.

I have to break this up into sections. I only have the ability to post through Flickr, and it only permits one photo at a time, so bear with me...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shop update

tribeca-4266, originally uploaded by Alta Marie.

I've put up a few Fine Art prints for sale on SmugMug. I've been waiting to announce this until I was able to confirm the print quality for myself and I'm happy to report that the quality is wonderful! All prints arrive carefully packaged and with a great return policy if you're unhappy for any reason.

I ordered this photo in both Lustre and Matte. I prefer the Lustre, and was so pleased with how true the color was on both papers! To order one for yourself, visit my SmugMug gallery by clicking on this link. Thanks for your support!

Mary Lou Bunch Day Brass Bed Races

centraljune-4536, originally uploaded by Alta Marie.

Well I went to Colorado this weekend to visit Drake in Central City, and I guess I must have arrived on the perfect weekend! Lots to say, so I'll start with the Brass Bed Races and go day by day from there.

I arrived on Saturday and my cousin Alyssa picked me up in Denver and gave me her car to use for the weekend (so awesome of her) we had a lovely time chatting in the car, it was good to catch up for her. Mom wanted me to try to find out if she was "working for the secret service" but if she is, she's good enough at it not to tell me that... :)

So I drove up to Central City and as it just so happened it was Mary Lou Bunch Day. She was a Madam in CC during their boom-time when they were "The Richest Square Mile on Earth." And once a year they have a festival to celebrate her, and I happened to arrive about 10 minutes before the famous brass bed races on Main Street. It's a pretty straightforward affair-- each team consists of two men and one woman-- they race down the street pushing a brass bed, then the men switch positions and switch pajamas (just the "over-pajamas" they keep their union suits on...) then the other guy pushes the bed back up main street. There are judges. I'm not sure what the judging criteria is... The team pictured won it, and rightfully so. They also had a girl chasing them with a pinata.... That definitely wasn't in the criteria, but I'm sure they got bonus points.

For more, see my Flickr set. I have many more pictures that will be added tonight. And many more adventures, including my death-defying drive down Two Brother's Road-- a portion of which appears to be an entirely abandoned mining road. ...

Mary Lou Bunch Day

centraljune-4622, originally uploaded by Alta Marie.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Joseph and Lorraine got married in Dallas :)

sarles-4421, originally uploaded by Alta Marie.

It was really fun to be back in Texas for a visit. Oddly enough, I was glad for the 12 hour delay on my flight, as it let me finish the entire Twilight series!!

I ate delicious Tex-Mex several times, I got pulled over in South Dallas (missing front plate) and I thoroughly enjoyed participating in their wedding. Wish Drake could've been there too!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


tribeca-4266, originally uploaded by Alta Marie.

Every day on my way to and from work I wish that I had a camera to take pictures of some of the things that I've noticed over the past few years and yesterday the stars aligned and the two necessary elements (camera and light) came together!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Renegade Craft Fair

Joey and I went on an adventure today to the Renegade Craft Fair at McCarren Park. It was pretty awesome to walk around and see what all of these Brooklyn-ite artists are up to. Here's a look!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Would a cake make it to Colorado?

Chess set Cake
Originally uploaded by Rieckie
It is Drake's birthday tomorrow, and I sent him a package full of birthday delights (which I can't name here since it's not his birthday yet!)

It astounds me that I can drop a box off in SoHo at 8:00 in the evening and it will reach him by 10:30 the next morning. How can this be? and furthermore, can I go too? I don't want to send him a box of presents, I want to GO THERE! and bake a delicious cake that aspires to look like this one that I found on Rieckie's Flickr photostream...

Happy birthday, old man! I hope that you're enjoying the dwindling days of your youth.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Vanilla Cupcakes with Italian whipped cream frosting

Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
There were a couple recipe requests for the cupcakes I made for this weekend's party-- the cake is an old favorite, and the frosting is a new favorite! I am going to write this recipe out the long way for those people who may not bake cakes from scratch twice a week...

Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (like Softasilk cake flour)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (NOT IN THE MICROWAVE! this ruins everything!!)
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F and get your muffin tins ready. I lined muffin tins with liners, and when I ran out of tins (we have a big family) I put the foil liners on a cookie sheet. They have a big chance to become malformed this way, so be sure to give them room. They'll generally be a bit more spread on top, but they're still tasty :)

In small bowl combine two flours.

In large bowl (or pink stand mixer, whichever you have handy) cream butter until very smooth and shiny. How smooth and shiny you ask? Very. Then add the sugar slowly and beat until fluffy (about 3 minutes.)

Add eggs one at a time mixing thoroughly after each addition (until each is incorporated.)

**you should scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula now and then throughout the process to make sure that you get a smooth consistency at the end

Now! here's the neat part. combine your milk and vanilla, and bring it over to the mixing station along with the mixed-up flours. you're going to add these two things to the mixture in thirds--a third of the flour mixture (beat until thoroughly incorporated) a third of the milk/vanilla mixture (again, beat it.) Flour, milk, flour, milk.

Now taste it. It's heavenly isn't it? it almost tastes like frosting. and don't worry about the whole "raw egg" thing. That's never killed me and I've tasted more batter than you can possibly imagine.

Spoon batter into cupcake tins/liners and fill it to about 3/4. They don't rise a whole lot. You want the cake to come to the top of the liner, but you don't want it to spill over into "muffin top."

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, they're done when you insert a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean. I check right at 20 minutes, and then stand by the door to check again every couple minutes (but I'm a bit compulsive about baking, so there's that.)

Let them cool completely before frosting.

Speaking of which!

Whipped Cream Frosting:

1 box (16 oz? 8oz? I can't remember-- it's the brick, you know.) Cream Cheese (Please don't use the reduced fat/fat free one. I mean you can, but why? It hurts my feelings.)
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1.5 cups of heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla.

Combine cream cheese sugar salt. Cream these. Beat them until very very smooth. Smoother than the butter in the cake even. It'll be longer than you expect. 5 minutes maybe? (this is when the pink stand mixer comes in handy, but really any color will do)

Now you need another bowl to do the whipped cream. It helps if the beaters/whisk and the bowl are cold for this next step so pop them in the freezer for a few minutes before you put in the cream and vanilla. Whip until stiff peaks form. This means when you pick up the beaters out of the cream it forms a peak. It shouldn't flop over (like the top of a DQ cone) it should stand straight up. But!! Don't over beat here or it will turn to butter!

Then add the whipped cream into the bowl with the cream cheese mixture and fold in. Fold means mix lightly with a spatula. Fold is the opposite of beat in baking terms. The whipped cream is delicate and to keep it as fluffy as possible we "fold" :)

The frosting is really sturdy! It looks like it might melt a bit if put in direct sun, but it lasted about 3 hours out at room temperature. It might last longer too, but I don't know because they were all eaten by then.