2014 Life Review

I think I say ever year was a good year, but when I look back on the highlights it's hard to feel like it could be anything else. We had our moments of struggle but we were blessed this year and all they were was moments. Mostly I'm struck by how many things happened this year. We had our 3 year anniversary in Utah, we became backpackers, my brother and sister got to make it out to Seattle for their first time, my mom and another sister made it out for a visit, my pen pal since high school came out for a visit, we got to go home to celebrate 2 awesome weddings, threw a Cincy party in Seattle, both turned 26, took a trip to San Francisco, had campsgiving on the Oregon Coast, added to our checked off list of mountain hikes, and moved to a new apartment
It was full, it was busy, sometimes exhausting but this year I feel like we focused on being present. Not trying to find something better but leaning in on a moment, a gathering, or a conversation. Life felt more savory this year. Sometimes it was fleeting but we tried to notice that and reign it back in. Obviously it's nothing we've perfected but a good lesson to sum up this year for the Elrod's.


1920's bash

We got all dolled up in our glad rags and headed to a joint to get our wiggle on to celebrate a spiffy dame on her 30th birthday. (we went to a 1920's themed birthday party for our friend Ashley)

It was a lot of fun to dress up, luckily we were able to use what we owned already. I'm pretty sure Joshua had on every article of nice clothing he owns all at once. We partied in friend's upper attic which had been decked out in string lights and a liquor bar with a great 1920's-ish music spinning on the record player. Everyone looked fabulous and it was a lot of fun to get to celebrate Ashley!

There was a 1920's slang sheet which was used amusingly all night. Her brother was making a great Between the Sheets drink behind the "bar" and there was gold tinsel all over.

got to use my temporary gold tattoos from Ephemera Tattoos that my friend created!

She let me make her a cake too! I made a sprinkle cake iced in chocolate frosting, drizzled in white chocolate ganache and to top it I laser cut some cut 1920's font #30, piped some dark and white chocolate squares and scattered them around. It was the 1920's it had to be a bit much!

Sprinkle Cake:

2 3/4 cups sifted flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 tbs sprinkles
preheat oven to 350 degrees F
1   Sift flour, baking soda, and salt until it is all fine powder, no clumps.
2   In yet another bowl beat the butter until creamed and then add 1 cup sugar and beat until mixed and well  mashed
3   Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture along with some milk a little at a time, beat together each time you add more
4   Mix in extracts and then beat until smooth
5   In another bowl beat egg whites until foamy and add 1/2 cup sugar gradually until it forms soft peaks
6   With a spatula mix in the egg white mixture thoroughly, then mix in the sprinkles
7   Pour mixture into a floured cake pan of your choosing. I did 2 8x8 cakes and they took about 25 minutes each
(I doubled the recipe to make 4 layers)
Chocolate frosting:
I used this recipe
White Chocolate Ganache:
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
10 oz white chocolate
1   in a small saucepan bring cream to a boil
2   remove from heat and quickly whisk in the white chocolate until it is all melted
3   white chocolate ganache takes longer to get to a good pouring consistency so I put it in the freezer and stirred every 3 minutes until it was thick enough to hold once poured over the cake.
4   then spoon onto cake and gently push some of the ganache over the edge to create the drips
Top it off:
1   draw squares on parchment paper and flip over
2   pipe half of each square with dark chocolate and half with white chocolate, place in fridge to dry quicker
3   scatter around the cake in clumps and use piping of extra chocolate frosting left to put on back to hold squares onto side of cake


Gingerbread house Bonanza!

This past Friday we had the whole small group over to our place. Now we thought "hey only like 10-12 people will come right?" We were wrong around 20 people invaded our place and it was an amazing candy smooshed people pizza fest. We all made personal pizzas with a toppings table so deep that broccoli was a selection option.
Our dining room table was also overflowing with candies. It was almost to excited to choose from. I've never had such a large selection to create from, it rocked! I made a bunch of bags of icing and we all set to work with our graham cracker structural knowledge and built some pretty sweet stuff.

ours had a fire pit with sourpatch kids, gingerbread man
making marshmallows and a snowman with a beret


Sadly not all are pictured but they were all great, one was a double decker, a sleigh, ours was a tent campsite, a house complete with hot tub, a-frame houses, elephant shingled house, hobbit doors...
It was loud and merry and sticky!

Our friend Molly made a smiley face pizza, cutest!


Cut Out Cookie Time

This year's cut out Christmas cookies are pretty fab. While I'm adding the green to the wreaths Joshua always gets started trying to find a way to turn a snowman into something else. I've been decorating Christmas cookies with my family since I was little but he's only been at it for about 4 years and he's way more creative than me. I always start out very traditionalist - a snowman with a scarf, a wreath with berries and than I finally start getting into it a wreath is really a monster mouth with elephant sprinkles upside down as teeth. Then all happy with my monster I look over and he's made a minion from an ornament and Nemo from a snowman. I love cookie decorating!

bird from an angel that got a broken wing, Kirby

monster wreath, Finding Nemo
psychedelic snowman, minion, princess leia golden bikini version,
Pebbles from Flinstones, Creeper from Minecraft



Cookie time of year

Also this past weekend our friend Liz came over, she'd expressed interest in making buckeyes and I'm always in for Christmas cookie helpers! We made a ton of buckeyes, she brought a tasty lunch and then we also made these Walnut Cardamom Cookies which turned out to be crazy delicious. Joshua and Liz were in charge of breaking open the cardamom pods and grinding them up, which was actually quite a bit of work ha, maybe next time I'll buy ground cardamom.
They're great tea/coffee companion cookies but we all totally fell in love with them on their own as well. We all tried one and then proceeded to make 2 more batches because we knew we weren't going to want to share the first batch.
Walnut Cardamom Cookies:
adapted from here1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon peel, grated
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups walnuts; finely chopped (I used the food processor)
1   in a small bowl combine 1 cup of the sugar with 1 tsp cardamom
2   in another bowl beat butter until it is light and fluffy
3   mix in the vanilla, lemon, salt, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 1/2 tsp cardamom
4   then slowly mix in flour and nuts until combined
5   cover bowl and place in fridge for one hour
(skipping this step will result in flat cookies)
6   preheat oven to 350 degrees F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray
7   roll cookies into small balls about 1" big, gently press the cookie between your palms, just enough that it's not a full sphere
8   repeat until all dough has been used, place all cookies on baking sheet, they can be quite close together they shouldn't spread very much
9   bake for 20-25 minutes
10  let cool for a moment then roll each cookie in the sugar/cardamom mixture and place back on try
11  dust all the cookies with a little powdered sugar and store in airtight container


Decorating Dagny

We finally decorated Dagny this past weekend! She was very happy not to be naked anymore. This year we listened to Jamestown Revival on the record player, ordered Pizza Hut, and drank our homemade beer while doing it. 

Halfway through I asked Joshua what we should put on the top this year, we don't have anything officially as a topper, he started giggling and hung Sebastian on top! I love it, he looks totally terrified, so we left the top of the tree long to give him more dramatic effect. I chuckle everytime I see him. 

 song: "Revival" by Jamestown Revival

This is an ornament my dad made us, he tied a fly fishing tie and cut it to look like a Christmas tree with ornaments! Isn't that amazing!


Bringing home Dagny

After our wintery hike we drove a few miles to cut down our Christmas tree. This tree farm had the most stunning backdrop! We got to cut down our tree with Mt Si right behind us as the sun was about to start its descent and it set some tree branches alight, the light dusting of snow on the ground really took the cake.
Our little tree came with a little controversy :) We asked if we were allowed to cut down trees that weren't tagged, the woman inside said yes so we cut down a cute little 5ish foot tree and went to pay. The dudes said you can't cut down trees less than 6 feet, we sheepishly smiled and pointed to the lady inside and totally got away with it! We promised to love it and care for it well.

We always name our tree and we're going in alphabetical order so this year we are at "D." Joshua FINALLY (3ish years later) finished the book Atlas Shrugged and one of the main characters names is Dagny so that's her name this year. It felt appropriate. She's was cut, thrown in the back of Richard, left in the bathtub for her snow to melt of and set up in her stand. Sadly busy busy work schedules haven't permitted us to decorate her classy branches yet, but we'll get to that this weekend!

You pay by the foot so we cut off half the trunk, obviously!


Winter Wonderland Hike


After the dunes and the night in the yurt we decided that the now below freezing weather didn't sound like much fun to sleep in so we headed back toward Seattle, making a lovely pitstop in Portland to visit and have dinner with our friend Kayla.

But the next morning we decided we weren't quite done yet. We were about to dig into giant  bowls of cereal and instead we threw granola bars into a bag and headed out for a crisp wintery walk. The trail ended up being snowier than we expected so we didn't quite finish (we stopped when we were wading through water ick wet feet) But the snow was so magical that day, you'd turn a corner and the sun would be lighting it up just right and it had enough snow that every branch was covered but not to much so that they sagged sadly. Instead it all the branches just held the snow up to the pretty blue sky and let the wind blow puffs of it down on us as we walked past.

After our hike we headed over to cut down our tree, we're only ever here for half of December it seems but my family always does it and it makes me feel a little bit closer to them.


West Coast Dunes


We spent our first year anniversary exploring Michigan's dunes so it was fun to go check out the Oregon dunes. These dunes are the ones that inspired the Dune Series by Frank Herbert. They are so big, and desolate. Since it had been raining the sand was mostly wet, but the sun came out and so dry sand began whirling past us creating patterns over the dunes and blowing the grass so it made perfect circles around themselves.
It was really the only extended time that day that the rain stopped. We got to take a rain free five mile hike across lots of mounds of sand to the Pacific Ocean, it greeted us with happy blue rolling waves.

It was very cool to be the only ones out there. We could run down hills and draw in the sand, make footprints to nowhere. The dunes landscape was commanding and playful all at once. Then we went and slept in a yurt with heat haha.

that sand spot looked too perfect, I needed to mess with it
campsgiving here