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.


More pics

Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
Here's the link for more pics from the party


Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
We had a big graduation party in MA for my brothers Greg and Ben who graduated from high school and college (respectively).

It's so fun to go home and visit. Definitely the best part of living in NYC :) It seems like only yesterday that they were wrestling each other in the back yard and now look at them! Graduated and wrestling each other in the back yard. Now it makes me more nervous than when they were little because they are actually man-ish and can damage one another. I found myself yelling "Wait!! stop!! you're hurting my feelings!!" more than once.

On Saturday we put some foam tiles down in the basement and THEN we went and saw Up! and it was wonderful. I don't want to give anything away but I will say that all 4 of us were laughing out loud and crying (silently) within the first 4 minutes. This continued throughout the rest of the movie. When it was all over Greg said "If you don't love that movie, you simply don't have a heart."

Inspired by the excellent balloon usage in the movie, I went and got a dozen balloons for the party on Sunday-- I attached them to a little ceramic basket and went inside to get longer ribbons and when I came back (after an hour or more-- I'm easily distracted...) it was gone! they blew away. Mom said it was the Holy Spirit, since it was the Feast of the Pentecost.

I was unphased and went to get more. Which also blew away. I then gave up on the balloon idea and decided to jump in the bouncy castle. I then became addled and sat with the other elderly family members for the rest of the day and chatted and reminisced. It was the most lovely weekend.

Congrats Ben and Greg (and Joey who just finished his first year at AMDA and has been surviving and thriving in NYC!) You have all three grown into fine men, you have. Fine men with good strong arms who will help me move at the end of July...