Baking

32 Before Thirty-Two

So far in my life, I’ve made two attempts at broad “life lists”: the 101 things in 1001 days list, and the 30 Before 30 list that I put here. Both had pretty sad, pathetic results. So I should obviously try again, RIGHT? Right. I’m even going to recycle some from the last list. Here we go:

  1. Become licensed as a Registered Nurse.
  2. Watch Arrested Development, starting back at the beginning, all the way through.
  3. Pay off my credit card
  4. Create monthly music mixes without missing a month.
  5. Mail goodies to 5 friends that live far away.
  6. Scan all of our photos and put them up online.
  7. Open a Roth IRA.
  8. Take a yoga class.
  9. Learn how to put makeup on my face.
  10. Run in a 5k.
  11. Participate in NO PANTS NOVEMBER.
  12. Make or create at least 50% of the gifts I give for the holidays.
  13. Get my first pedicure
  14. Go to a Nursing Conference, preferably about midwifery.
  15. Get rid of our Expedit bookshelf and build a FAUXDENZA!
  16. Complete the 100 Pushups Challenge
  17. Go to the Madison (Wisconsin) Farmer’s Market.
  18. Bake a rainbow cake.
  19. Learn a song on my ukulele
  20. Cull my collection of books to those I actually love and want to own.
  21. Make some infused booze.
  22. Watch the Godfather trilogy.
  23. Design our wedding invitations.
  24. Knit myself some slippers. I keep making them for others, and never for myself!
  25. Hang all of the art/photography I’ve been hoarding away in storage.
  26. Complete a juice or smoothie fast.
  27. Read 10 Banned Books.
  28. Make a braided rug.
  29. Ride in RAGBRAI (I’ll give myself a special allowance for this one, since it comes after my birthday)
  30. Make a batch of soap.
  31. Scooter camping at Palisades

I’m starting this now, with less than a year to go. That gives me 301 days, to be exact, which is plenty of time. I only have to accomplish 0.103 items on my list per day in order to be done in time. Totally doable.

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30 Before Thirty!

I’ll be turning 30 years old on July 12, 2010, and I decided to partake in the project where you make a list of thirty things you want to accomplish before your 30th birthday. I don’t have long to go, but I’m hoping I can polish off everything on this list by making the items reasonable:

  1. Hang curtains (whether store-bought or handmade) in every window of the house, and get rid of every shred of miniblinds that have been haunting my windows and my dreams since we moved in.
  2. Install hardwood flooring throughout the main floor of the house (!!!).
  3. Pay off my credit card.
  4. Brew a batch of stout beer.
  5. Plan and start saving for an autumn vacation in Vancouver/Seattle.
  6. Grow delicious foods from heirloom seeds from Baker Creek, including a healing herb garden.
  7. Get a really great haircut from my bestie JoAnn at G Spot Hair Design, one that is an actual hairdo rather than something I pull back into a bun everyday.
  8. Get new glasses and contacts.
  9. Paint every room in the house something other than “Ultra White”.
  10. Scan all of our photos and organize them somewhere online.
  11. Update my Iowa City tumblr at least once a week.
  12. Continue my weight loss/fitness streak. Weight Watchers is working!
  13. Throw a May Day party.
  14. Organize and clean the basement.
  15. Try sewing another purse.
  16. Bake the perfect Blondie.
  17. Finish watching the whole Arrested Development series (we’re on an extended hiatus, mid-season 2).
  18. Create monthly music mixes without missing a month.
  19. Try making homemade ketchup.
  20. Build a pergola on the patio to continue cultivating an awesome backyard oasis.
  21. Finally part with (donate) the ugly fleece that’s clogging up my fabric stash.
  22. Go scooter camping in Palisades.
  23. Buy a bike helmet so I can safely ride all over town.
  24. Start really using the calendar/scheduling app on my iPhone to help keep my life more organized.
  25. Try raw milk.
  26. Mail goodies to my faraway friends.
  27. Build a respectable cocktail station.
  28. Start a food blog with aforementioned JoAnn.
  29. Make a batch of Navratan curry.
  30. Throw a fabulous 30th birthday party on my patio.
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Holiday Baking Plans

Baking large loads of goodies is one of my favorite aspects of the holiday season, and despite the fact that I’ll be renovating and moving into my new house, this year will be no different! It might just mean that the food preparation will have to happen somewhere other than my new place (although I’m itching extra hard to prepare food in my awesome new gas oven). Here are some things I want to make:

(photos are not mine, unfortunately)

I discovered chocolate cloud cookies last year right before the holidays and they looked so yummy that I went out and made them right away. Totally worth it. I ended up giving some away as presents, and then made up a whole other batch to serve at my New Year’s Eve party. They were definitely a hit. Make lots. Once you’ve made them once or twice, they’re easy as pie. Bonus points for being able to use my cookie scoop!

I’m not even really a big fan of divinity, but I’m going to make it this year. It’s just a little (or a lot) too sweet for me, and I want stuff that I can snarf truckloads of, rather than things that make me swear sugar off for a year. However, this was a holiday food that my grandmother used to make, so I’ll be carrying on the tradition. I’ll post her recipe once I find it in my mom’s stockpile.

I didn’t realize until pretty recently that I really love sugar cookies. I don’t know if it was that I had been eating bad ones all my life, or if there are so many different varieties that I just hadn’t tried the right one yet, but I can say definitively that I’ve found THE ONE. These are easy to make, very mild and not too sweet, and they’re the perfect consistency (slightly crunchy) to make them firm enough to do intricate decorative icing on, but not so hard that they’ll break your teeth. Thank goodness for Real Simple.

I’m hoping to get an icing/piping set soon, and with that I’ll be able to do some fancy work on cookies. I’m looking forward to edible sparkles, nonpareils, shiny silver and gold balls, and all the rest. I have the feeling I’ll be spending too much money at the new Michael’s craft store out at the mall.

Back before I became a vegetarian, I made some very respectable efforts at making homemade marshmallows. I have faith that these efforts can be replicated in a vegan way, so I’m going to try it. I’ve heard that agar agar can be used as a 1:1 substitution for the unflavored gelatin. Let’s find out!

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Holiday homemaker

This holiday season, I plan to take a lot of time out of my busy gift-buying (more on that later), exercise, and work schedule to put on my apron and bake massive quantities of sweets for my loved ones. I had plans to attempt this last year (in my tiny downtown kitchen with mini-stove and no storage space). Grand, grand plans that never came to fruition. I did, however, attempt and achieve baking what might possibly be the yummiest cookies in all the land, some scrumptious almond Sandies-type cookies from a Martha Stewart recipe. They were divine, and my family, friends and I ate them all up before I was even able to put the finishing touches on them.

This year, with a mightier kitchen, more storage space, and more money at my disposal, I’m going to try again to assemble goodie tins with enough crap (good crap) to cause heart attacks and cavities. Here’s a list of some possibilities:

  • almond cookies again, this time with finishing touches
  • divinity, a family tradition carried out by my grandma until her death. I’ve made it a few times since then, but this year I’m going to start it as a yearly tradition.
  • English toffee, aka homemade Skor bars
  • fudge, maybe?
  • chocolate truffles, preferably with booze in them
  • sugar cookies with peppermint frosting, mmm

Have any favorite recipes you’d like to share?

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