31 January 2012

My New Favorite Chocolate Cake

So, I haven't really been baking much lately because my doctor says that I'm a fat cow.  Well, he doesn't say that so much as he says that pregnant women shouldn't eat sugar and blah blah while he wags his finger in my face and rattles off a list of all of the things I can't eat, a list that could also be titled "Mandy's Favorite Foods."  Shoot.  And then he calls me a cow.*

But I really miss baking, so when I needed a gigantic favor from a coworker last week, I didn't hesitate to try to bribe her with baked goods.  And it worked!  I was figuring that I'd whip up my favorite vanilla cake of all time, but my plan was derailed when she said, after granting my request, "I like chocolate."  And here's the thing: I don't really understand chocolate.  (I know, I know, I'm a dirty blasphemer.  Sorry.)  I have the recipe for the Back in the Day Bakery chocolate cake, but it is a really expensive cake to make (like $15+ just in ingredients), and in addition to being a dirty blasphemer, I'm also cheap.  Then I remembered that I'd seen Smitten Kitchen's recipe for Chocolate Butter Cake recently, and figured I'd give that one a whirl.  I had almost all of the ingredients on-hand already, the process seemed pretty simple, and the recipe had received rave reviews.

So I made the cake and it was the bee's knees.  It did take about 15 minutes longer than Deb had said it would to bake, which could have been either because I was using 8" round pans instead of 8" square pans, or just differences in our ovens.  Other than that, though, the cake was super easy to make.  Of course, it did use coffee, which I had to google how to make because I do not know how to make coffee.  (Some of you are probably unfriending me right now.  No coffee and no chocolate?  WTF?  Here's another: I don't eat seafood.)

Then I faced the task of finding a chocolate icing, another thing I really don't understand.  I went with this Chocolate Buttercream recipe, which was also pretty simple to make and used cocoa powder instead of chocolate that I would have to melt.  I wasn't crazy about the icing when I tasted it by itself, but when it was paired with the cake, it was divine--creamy and sweet, and a tiny bit salty.  The icing really had the best texture. Oh, and the recipe made enough icing to frost the entire huge cake, which was awesomepants.

And the finished product smelled amazing.  Last night after Matt and I ate [a pretty healthy] dinner, we were both sitting around wanting dessert.  So we did some quality assurance testing and cut right into the cake that I was supposed to take to my coworker.  Oops!  How else would I know it wasn't poisonous, though?  You're not supposed to poison coworkers after they help you out.  We were protecting her.  Yeah, that's it.

So, if you're in need of a chocolate cake recipe, I'd recommend this one.  Do you have a favorite chocolate cake recipe?

Smitten Kitchen's Chocolate Butter Cake
Savory Sweet Life's Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

*He never called me a cow.  

29 January 2012

This and That

Consider yourself forewarned.  This is almost all about pregnancy and baby crap.

1.  I think that being knocked up is simultaneously more of a big deal and less of a big deal than I thought it would be.  Sometimes I'm all "whatev" and feel completely normal and even forget that I'm pregnant.  Other times I wonder how this lung-crushing, sleep-destroying fetus is going to make his way out of me, and one of two things happens: either my eyes get really big and then I just change the subject and eat a grilled cheese, or I cry.  Going to have to face that reality soon, I suppose.

2.  Nursery is nearing completion.  We've got a crib, shelves, curtains that are no longer strangulation hazards (at least I don't think they are), and things are slowly coming together.  I can't wait to show it to you!

3.  So, I currently weigh three pounds more than I did at my first doctor's appointment in August, which I think is a huge giant accomplishment (granted, I was 8 weeks pregnant at that appointment and had spent the month before that inhaling grilled cheese sandwiches and orange juice, so I may have actually gained more weight since actually becoming with child, but I don't know because we don't own a scale).  It's good for me not to gain too much weight because I started from a place of way too fat.  Remember Operation: Skinny Unicorn?  Yeah, that was a bust, or, rather, it devolved into Operation: Drink as Much Wine and as Many Margaritas as Possible before You Can't Anymore, which may have resulted in some additional poundage.  I have a secret goal to use this whole baby-growing process as a way to lose weight.  We'll see.  Come spring, my body will be torn to shreds, but I'll be skinnier, dammit!

4.  I already talked about my hypocrisy with 4-d ultrasound photos.  I've taken it a step farther, though, by analyzing the crap out of that picture.  Do you think the baby looks like Jordan?  Or am I just bananas?

5.  Is this is best baby shower invite you've ever seen in your life or what?  Also, how do you feel about a Teen Mom theme for a baby shower?  You know, Ed Hardy clothes and candy cigarettes?  Nevermind, that's a terrible idea.

6.  I had a dream last night that I shaved my legs.  Ha!  Yeah, like that would happen.  Plus, I'm not sure that I could even do that anymore.

7.  Oh yeah, totes gave my stomach bug plague to Matt, who in turn gave me his cold.  We're not usually such a sickly bunch, and it's been a little bit on the miserable side (except for the popsicles!).  We just keep telling ourselves, "better now than in a few months."

Well, there you have it.  I would take a little "here's how fat I am now" picture for you, but I'm covered in dirt and dressed like a cross between one of those people on those "customers of Wal-Mart" email forwards and Pete from O Brother, Where Art Thou?.  (Too bad I can't r-u-n-n-o-f-t since I can hardly get off of the couch.  Stupid limited mobility.)  I've got big plans for today.  They include George Clooney, a shower, probably a spicy chicken sandwich, and some Downton Abbey.

What are you up to?

23 January 2012

Notes from Tom

Background information:

1.  I am from Westminster, Maryland, which is about 40 minutes outside Baltimore, and is the town where the Ravens hold their training camp.  People in Westminster are VERY into the Ravens.  Many of these fans go bananas on Facebook griping about Shittsburg and giving the play by play of each game.  It gets pretty annoying.

2.  My brother is one of these fans.

3.  I like to torment my brother.  So does my sister.  We will, on occasion, bomb his Facebook page with tormenting comments, which usually elicit some response from him like, "Well, if it isn't my bitchy sisters."  He especially likes it when we call him Darryl, which is what he was almost named.

4.  I think Tom Brady is handsome.

5.  On Sunday, Jordan's Facebook status read, "Tom Brady's a punk!"  Today, after the Ravens lost to the Patriots, Jordan's Facebook status read, ". . .he's still a punk."

6.  The Super Bowl is on February 5, Jordan's birthday.

This afternoon seemed like the perfect time to bomb ol' Jordan's page again.  We took turns posting some handsome pictures of Mr. Brady to Jordan's page.*

I just love the internet.  Think about how long it would have taken to harass little Jordy-Pooh without the wonders of Google and the book of faces!

*Matt would like me to note that he had no part in this torment.

Weekend Roller Coaster

Cassie and Hugh gave Mitch Camel two years ago.  It is still the only toy he won't destroy, 
maybe because they "dance" every night before bed.  Kind of gross, but mostly just hilarious.

The first part of our weekend was awesomepants.  There was Mexican food and frozen yogurt and catching up on TV shows and talking and snuggling with the pup.  It was a return to real life that we needed after two months of pretty frequent traveling and visitors.  Saturday, I went to Back in the Day Bakery (passed my glucose test which means that I'm now inhaling as many baked goods as I damn well please--should be fun to see the scale at tomorrow's appointment), and finally had the motivation and the energy to begin tackling some of the nagging projects on our "buckle down before baby" to-do list.  And since the weather was absolutely glorious, I opened all the windows and rocked out with organizing and purging (trash) and projecting.  Hell, I even sewed some stuff and only almost-cried once!  

 After we smelled burning plastic, it was time to bid adieu to the bistro lanterns.  Safety first!

Organizing, but clearly not vacuuming. 


I am obsessed with this little walker.

Matt and I had planned to make Sunday a day of delicious feasting and football (I don't care about football but I do like to see Tom Brady throwing and being handsome, and I was just happy the games were on at home so I would have a Matt around all day), and when I went to Publix to get the goods, it had started pouring and the Publix people had me pull my car up to the front of the store where they loaded my groceries for me (see: Publix is amazing)! I came home, kept the windows open, and listened to the rain.  And Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina primary!  It was awesome.  

Until Sunday morning, when I woke up with a stomach bug.  "Stomach bug" is way too kind a word for this dehumanizing, awful illness that I had.  And then, all day, there was purging of a different variety.  Mother F!  Everything made me puke.  At one point, Matt had gone into the other room to ellipt and I turned the channel to HBO where Valentine's Day was playing.  Matt warned me: "Don't watch that, or you'll have to vomit again."  I should have heeded his warning, because sure enough, after witnessing about 3 minutes of Ashton Kutcher working at a flower stand, I was saying adios to my glass of ginger ale.  On top of feeling like complete horseshit, I kept feeling really guilty, thinking that I was starving the baby.  He'd kick and I just knew he was trying to remind me that he needed some food.  We're making up for that today, since I'm mostly better, showered, and going all Velveteen Rabbit on our stuff (but with the washer and dryer instead of fire).   

Kraft mac & cheese = miracle food.  It's not good or good for me, but something about the comfort and 
nostalgia of the orangey goodness made it the only thing I could keep down all day.

I'm not at school today (trying to prevent this from happening), and I'm going for a take two.  Let's just pretend that yesterday never happened.  Except that I just put it on the internet.  Shoot.

Let's try this again.

What did you do this weekend?  And are you so happy that we'll be seeing handsome Tom Brady again in a couple of weeks?

*Totes loaned my camera to a friend, so we've got all Instagram pictures today.  Obviously I'm far behind the times on this one, but what fun!

21 January 2012

My Boyfriend Can Sing, Too!

In case you missed it. . .

And he can dance, too! (Well, he can dance better than I can, what with my 5 years spent in Baptist school.)

20 January 2012

Love and Marriage

After getting home from work, starving, and remembering that we had basically no food in the house, I put on my sweatpants, got into bed, and texted Matt: "I need a sandwich or else the fetus will begin to eat my heart."  Seconds later, I heard a buzzing.  It was the vibration of Matt's phone on his dresser!  Oh no!  How was I to get a sandwich now?!?!

Now, an exchange when he finally returned home from work, sandwichless.

Me: Well, I was going to just call work but then I thought you might be unnecessarily worried that there was a problem.

Matt: I would have known it was about a sandwich.

Me: Because a lack of sandwiches IS a problem!

12 January 2012

Lazy, Negligent, Impressive, and Exciting

Oh, shoot.  I've totally become one of those people who feels the need to apologize in every post for not posting as frequently.  So let's just toss out one big giant sorry that will cover all past and future blog negligence.  We've been busy soaking up the last couple of months of being a family of three, lying around and snugglin', eating too much (but like 75% healthy food, so that's okay, right?), and watching too much TV*.

The most impressive thing that I've done all week (if you don't include whipping up a batch of candied bacon ice cream) was taking down the Christmas stuff.  I think I need to find someone who will do that for pay.  Don't you think that person could make tons of money?  I mean, who actually likes taking down the Christmas stuff?

The most exciting thing that has happened lately was our discovery of the new dog park that the City of Savannah built FIVE BLOCKS away from our house.  I've basically been freaking out about its awesomeness since I found out about it.  There are red decorative fire hydrants, and picnic tables (for humans and for dogs), and there's a water source, and. . .wait for it. . .they are putting in dog pools that are SHAPED LIKE BONES!  I think this dog park has restored my faith in the universe.

The second most exciting thing that has happened lately is that I only gained 2 pounds over Christmas (for serious--I usually gain ten times that over a normal, non-pregnant Christmas holiday) and I passed my sugar test, so I don't have to feel guilty every time I inhale a loaf of bread or eat a 3 lb. serving of macaroni and cheese.  And the boy is looking good in there.  It was a little less exciting to learn that his head is measuring three weeks ahead of schedule (thanks, Matt) (giant head for giant brains?), but good to know that the boy is healthy and happy.

And my favorite friend of Matt's came to visit and now I'm trying to find him a bride (preferably not child or mail-order) and a dog so that he'll be less crotchety (but let's be honest--it's his crotchetiness that makes me love him).

We've got a big ol' exciting weekend ahead of us, so stay tuned for that.  And I think I'm giving myself a March 1 deadline to have the nursery done, so at this rate it'll only be like four blog posts away.

Baby wolf was so tired after dog park fun.

 If you insist on making silly faces, I will put them on the internet.

 Goodbye, old friend.  I will fill this void in my heart with ice cream.

 Why is pot roast so good?

 It makes me feel better about myself to put my Sam's club purchases in bags from hipper, more respectable stores.

 I think they thought they were in a police lineup.

 This man needs a bride.  Any takers?  Also, should he get a husky or a golden retriever (for a dog, not for a bride)?

Mitch loves his brother.  Either that or he is trying to smother him.  Let's hope it's the former.

I totes need to wear a big ol' H on my chest.  I have hated these 4-d ultrasounds every time I've seen one because I think they are scary and terrifying.  But when our sassy ultrasound lady flipped it into 4-d mode (which I didn't even know she could do), I was mesmerized.  Also, I think he is about to nibble on his toenails.  And Chloe says he is melting.

What was the most impressive or exciting thing that's happened to you all week?  And did it involve a pool shaped like a bone?

*I don't know about you, but here at M Cubed we LOVE presidential election time.  The Republican primaries have been especially entertaining, though they have caused a little bit of division in our home.  Mitch, our staunch Tea Partier, was devastated when Michele Barkman dropped out of the race.  It was almost as sad as when his previous favorite, Herman Canine, dropped out.  Now he's all about Ron Paw.  Matt and I were rooting for any of those, or just for Jon Huntsman--the others because their craziness was sure to lose the GOP the general election, and Huntsman for his actual brains and raw good looks.

04 January 2012

Two Down, One to Go

Today I am 28 weeks, which means that I'm officially in the third trimester.  So far I think I've been a little bit of a rock star of a knocked-up gal (excepting, of course, The Great Meltdown of December 30-31, 2011).  I've been exercising and eating better than I did before and not been the incarnate of Satan that Matt and I both feared that I would become in this condition.  Plus, I can still totally touch my palms to the ground from a standing position, so I'm proud of that.  

And tell me that these aren't just the cutest things you ever did see.  (Matt says I'm not allowed to try to put one on Mitch.  I say I wouldn't do that, duh, because there's no spot for a tail.  Plus, Mitch is housebroken.  Of course, it would be pretty cute.  Get me the scissors!)

I love everything in this picture.
There's so much to be excited about (meeting the boy, decorating a nursery), and so much to be annoyed by (seriously, strangers and students, do not touch me) or afraid of (for real though, I have to push what out of where?), and so much to be fascinated by (the boy can see light now--let the flashlight games commence!).  And after I rock the socks off of my glucose test on Monday, I'm going to go on an all cookies and cake and ice cream diet, which should definitely do its part to keep the baby (and me) from getting too gargantuan.  I'm basically a nutritionist.  

Oh, and on a related note, people are suddenly all interested in how fat I am, so here's a picture that I took in a mirror.  

Happy now?

Also, why is it so funny to do this?

Random person [who is probably about to try to touch me]: Oh, I didn't know you were pregnant!  When are you due?

Me: I'm not pregnant.  What makes you say that?

So funny I can't stand it.  

01 January 2012

This and That

Hey there!  Happy 2012, peeps.  I hope your year is starting off swimmingly.  Ours actually is, which is good considering that I spent most of the last two days of 2011 being an emotional, horomonal sissypants.  (My hypothesis is that the boy was going through a massive growth spurt, which made me uncomfortable, gigantic, and brought with it a surge of horomones that left me a sobbing mess.  If you have proof that that's not what happened, then I don't want to hear it because it's the only way I can explain myself without admitting to be a complete psychopath.)

So we've got some catching up to do, don't we?

1.  Mitch is still the cutest dog who's ever lived.  He's been polishing off the last of the homemade dog treats that we made in Virginia for all of his dog friends and cousins, which means that Matt and I have been finding little cheesy flax-seeded biscuits buried in blankets and couch cushions all around the house.  Right now he is barking at sassing me because Matt is watching football and Mitch hates football.  He'd rather go lie in his dirt spot, which is currently a mud spot because it's raining.  Seems fitting, since I just made our bed up with all white linens.

2.  I love this commercial with my entire heart and soul.

3.  I also love these Asian Turkey Meatballs with my entire heart and soul.

4.  Matt is a crazy ellipting fool.  Did you know that?  Did you know that after he implemented a self-improvement plan a year and a half ago he's been the incredible shrinking Matt?  And that every time we see someone we haven't seen in a while they say something along the lines of, "Oh, wow, Matt!   You look great!  What is your secret?  Amazing!  Oh, hi, Mandy."  It's extra fun now, you know, now that he's knocked me up and I'm getting fatter by the second.

5.  Oh em gee!  I totes forgot to tell you that my former almost fiance Matty Fraker who owns the cupcakery in Richmond, Frostings, was on Cupcake Wars tonight.  It replays on Tuesday at 8 p.m., so if you have the chance you should totally watch it.  Shoot yeah, Matty!

6.  Have you watched Downton Abbey?  If you haven't, you totally should.  It's pretty and smart and a little bit soap opera-y but not stupid.  AND, it's on Netflix Instant, so you have no excuse not to watch it.  There are only 7 episodes in the first season (oh, silly British television's short seasons), but season 2 begins again soon.  Plus, it has the handsome Matthew Crowley who is handsome and has a nice accent and looks good in a tuxedo and is also handsome.

7.  Not really doing any New Year's resolutions this year because I'm a little busy gestating a human, and all I really want to do is get through the year without being a psycho.  So that's my resolution: not to be a psycho. Shecky says that saying not to be a psycho is too definite and possibly unattainable, so I should actually make the resolution to be less of a psycho.  Either way.  My goal is for the crazy to be on the decline.  How's about that?

8.  Our New Year's Eve was pretty lame, even by our homebody standards.  Matt had to work, and I was in such a foul mood that I went shopping with a scowl on my face, so I went to Publix and bought a no sugar added reduced fat cheesecake (which was surprisingly good) and some sugar-free Jello (can you tell I have a glucose test fast approaching?).  I ate half of the cheesecake (it was a little one), and still felt like an angry troll, so I decided to take a nap around 9:00, in the hopes that I would wake up a better person.  Surprisingly, it worked.  I woke up when my neighbors started setting off fireworks at midnight, ate a bowl of booze-less Jello, and Matt and I watched Downton Abbey (seriously, go watch it now).  So the 2011 part of New Year's Eve sucked, but the 2012 part was pretty nice.

So that's what's going on here.  Was crazy, am not crazy now, hope not to be crazy in the future.  Dogs are cute and cheesecake is delicious.

How is your 2012 shaping up?


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