Game of Thrones Cookies

On Sunday some friends had a Game of Thrones viewing party. I had some time to spare so I wanted to make some themed cookies. Sadly as I had already beaten the butter I realized I had no eggs! Lucky for me the internet has plenty of no egg sugar cookie recipes to the rescue! I tweaked one a bit and then I was good to go. They were still soft and the cardamom I added gave them the right amount of umph. Topped them off with some chocolate frosting and a white chocolate symbol for some of the Game of Thrones house flags.
The viewing party was topped off by the lovely hosts dressing as wildlings and experimenting with dry ice to make a White Walker drink. Also there was cheese, a ton of cheese :)
Eggless Sugar Cookies:
makes about 24
1/2 cup butter; room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
3 tbs milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp baking powder
1   preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2   beat butter until light and fluffy then beat in sugar
3   beat in vanilla, almond extract and milk
4   slowly mix in flour, salt, cardamom, and baking powder- don't over mix
5   flour a large parchment paper surface and roll out the dough to be about 1/4" thick
6   cut out desired shapes and place on cookie sheet, gather dough roll out and repeat until there isn't any dough left
7   bake for 7-10 minutes, the tops should be a light golden brown
8   set aside and let cool
3/4 cup butter; room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 tbs milk

1   beat butter until light and fluffy
2   slowly beat in powdered sugar and cocoa powder
3   beat in vanilla and milk until it is a good spreadable consistency
4   ice the cookies and top with sprinkles or some Game of Thrones white chocolate flag symbols :)


Shined instead of Rain

The forecast for last weekend said rain, so we thought we'd sit inside all weekend and do laundry and adult things. Then Saturday morning came and it only came with lots of sunshine and warm weather so we ditched responsibility for a bit and headed into it. We've been wanting to casually ride our bikes around for awhile so we hopped on them, grabbed some to go sushi and rode to the locks to sit in the grass. Our sushi was slightly unhappy we put it through a bumpy bike ride, but I didn't mind.
Then we're sitting on the grass talking and I feel like the people behind us are starring at us, I think they may ask where our sushi is from, then I hear them quietly say "Josh?" Being awkward like I am I say "Hey Josh I think those people know you" Sure enough it was one of Josh's mom's good friends. She is just visiting Seattle as part of a West Coast trip and happened to walk up this random path and we happened to sit somewhere we don't normally sit. It was so many things come together and bam we found each other, funny!

I also had a lovely Friday happy hour with a
co-worker and we are so fancy we drank out of coconuts!


First Gluten Free Birthday Cake

I had the privilege of making a birthday cake for a fabulous woman, but it came with a tough challenge! This was to be my first gluten free cake. Flourless chocolate cake, cheesecake, no problem but this woman wanted & a deserved cake! I've done vegan cake but never gluten free. I'd heard some of the problems are that they're dry, gritty textured, and have a bad aftertaste. I spoke to a few of the GF people in my office and they gave me some good tips.
I feel like it turned out really well. I actually really enjoyed the cupcake that I made to test it.  I took I the extra cupcakes to give to the GF people in my office, who are normally left out of my baking treats, and they seemed to enjoy it too. So here it is- what I consider to be a pretty darn good GF cake recipe. It is key to use the GF flour mix that I've specified as I did a lot of research on which flour to use. I've also used the liqueur in all parts of the cake but it wasn't overwhelming and it keeps the frosting from being too tooth-achingly sweet.
GF Irish Cream Cake:
1 cup butter; room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 eggs; separated
1 tbs vanilla
2 cups Bob's Red Mill All purpose GF Flour mix
2 1/2 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Irish Cream Liqueur + more for brushing onto layers
1   preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 8" cake pans with parchment paper and flour them
2   beat butter until light and fluffy, then beat in 1 3/4 cup sugar
3   beat in egg yolks 1 at a time, then add in vanilla
4   in another bowl mix together flour, xantham gum, baking soda, and salt
5   mix on low and add in 1/2 buttermilk, then 1/2 flour mixture and repeat with remaining milk and flour mixture, don't overmix
6   in another bowl beat egg whites until they form soft peaks, add in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until they form soft peaks
7   fold into batter and drizzle in the Irish cream liqueur as you go
8   once it is all incorporated separate into the cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean
9   set aside to let them cool completely
10 using fork tines poke holes gently all over the top of the cake layers, then brush more of the irish cream liqueur onto the top of the cakes to soak in
Irish Cream Ganache:

4 oz semisweet chocolate chips
/21 cup heavy cream
 pinch of  salt
a few tbs Irish Cream Liqueur
2 tbs cup powdered sugar

1   in a double broiler melt chocolate into the heavy cream on low until all the chocolate is melted, stir frequently.
2   remove from heat and stir in salt. Then pour it into a mixing bowl and let sit a few minutes, then stir in desired amount of liqueur. Let sit until mixture is room temp, or put in fridge and watch closely to have it cool faster
3   whip the ganache until it is light and fluffy
4   whip in 2 tbs powdered sugar to get a less runny texture, add in another few tbs if you'd like it a
Irish Cream Frosting:
1 1/2 cup butter; room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar
4 tbs Irish Cream Liqueur
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1   beat butter until light and fluffy
2   slowly beat in powdered sugar
3   beat in Irish Cream until frosting reaches desired consistency, you can also substitute milk for the tbs if you want less liqueur
4   beat in vanilla and any food coloring you desire
1   pipe a thick boundary around the edge of the bottom cake
2   then fill in the center with the ganache
3   put on the top cake layer and crumb coat the cake, place in fridge for 10 minutes
4   pull out and ice the cake as desired
5   in a double broiler melt about 6-8 oz dark chocolate and put in a piping bag
6   cut a sheet of parchment that is the circumference of your cake and cut it down to the height you desire the chocolate collar to be above the cake layers, then I sprinkled down edible glitter
7   then start creating desired pattern or swirls on the parchment and let sit. You want the chocolate collar to easily come off the parchment but not be totally cooled. (When it is humid this can be hard. To help it cool I've cut the design in half and put each half into the fridge to help it set.)
8 Then once it can start to peel from the parchment wrap it around the cake and press the chocolate collar lightly into the frosting, then place it in the fridge and let the chocolate set completely
9   remove from fridge and remove parchment paper
The chocolate collar seems intimidating to make but I promise it's pretty simple and always turns out. If the parchment paper sizes seem overwhelming just cut them into more manageable pieces, most swirling designs hide the seams well.


Ramblin Home

After all of our climbing amazingness in the dry desserty air we decided to road trip it home through the Mt. Hood forest. The drive was significantly longer but it was maybe one of the highlights for me. We had nothing to do all day except eventually make it back to Seattle, the sun was shining, James' car had a sunroof and none of us had a plan. Rarely do I feel like my life allows time for rambling and getting the chance to turned into a magnificent day.
Joshua found us a hike called Castles Canyon in the Mt. Hood National Forest. It was only a mile long but gained 1,600 ft. elevation. It looked like a nice way to stretch our legs, good walk, turns out Joshua is a stellar hike finder. This mini hike through the trees opened up onto these huge pocketed rocks jutting up from the ground. They were covered in moss and boulders. We didn't know the name of the hike until we exited and I happened to say they looked like the little sand castles you build when you make the sand all wet and let it drip. Something about them was striking and intriguing.

I decided to venture out onto the edge of the top "castle." The boys thought this not such a good idea and hung out before the  bridge." I worried Joshua a bit, but I promise I was safe, and I have photo proof that I crawled over the "bridge" just to be extra safe. It was a great little break from the car and super lovely to get to hike around without running into a hoard of people.

Our other major pit stop was Solera Brewing in Parkdale, OR. As we were driving there were miles of apple trees blossoming. I've never seen them all in bloom like that. A few mountains were standing up behind them watching over as the sunshine lit all the little blossoms. The whole drive was quite beautiful but this was my favorite part. I really wanted to stop but had no reason to until James remembered this brewery. Best brewery location ever! It is in a small one stoplight kind of place where every store/restaurant has an outdoor patio. At the brewery we all got Cuban sandwiches & beers and lounged on the stage. The backdrop was Mt. Hood and blooming apple trees. Obviously we sat there and tried to come up with ways to live here and get jobs, obviously!

Finally managed our way home and we all ate ramen, threw our stuff on the floor and went bed!


Taking on Smith Rock

After our snowshoe adventure- We then proceeded to spend the next 2 days climbing a bunch of tall red-orange rocks at Smith! The sun was out all day, in the low 80's, 2 dogs, beer & snacks in the backpacks & endless routes. It was an amazing few days. I love the pace of climbing and the way everyone helps out and how the puppies roam all over. Also sitting around in warm weather for 4 days was bliss.
sweet photo of Joshua repelling by Cynthia!

Below are Joshua & I's first unsupervised lead belay and lead climbs. It was only a 5.7 but I was still super nervous! We both made it to the top safe and after a few minutes of a very fast heart beat I was excited to try another one. Joshua holds his nerves in and just climbs slow and steady. I'm more of a nervous babbler, thankfully he was encouraging. The rock was super rough on your fingers but there were also nice small rock holds popping out of the faces to pull up on. I'm always surprised that those weird blobby and juggy holds in the gym actually exist in real rock formations.

my day was made! Within 5 seconds of walking up to the crag
Rex walked over laid down next to me an put his head on my lap!
 If you know me, this was a top life moment,
I didn't solicit him all and he came to me!


Smith Snowy Hike

We road tripped down to Bend, OR go spend some time climbing with a group of friend's this past weekend. Three of us decided to drive down Wednesday night, as in I slept in the back and brought Star Wars Mad Libs, so we could hike on Thursday. Pulled into a campsite late at night and threw up something to sleep in.

We didn't really research much where to hike until the next day so we didn't realize there was still so much snow. So we ended up doing the hike we'd snowshoed last time in boots. The hike up was sunny and warm and lovely. At the top a few people had come up with snowboards and we wandered around watching them jump off the cornices and fly down.

The hike down was sloppy and wet but being that it was around 80 degrees we swapped for sandals and headed to 10 barrel brewery where we consumed wings, pizza, beer and eventually some tasty mojitos. Took a quick pitstop at Smith Rock to meet up with our other friend's and headed to the cabin.


French Bulldog Cake

 Ok this may be one of my favorites! I was given French bulldog and lemon flavored so we've got a citrus zested white cake filled with lemon curd and frosted with almond vanilla buttercream and chocolate dogs. I can't stop staring at them. I wish I'd made an extra of the one in sunglasses so I could keep it forever! It's severly unfair that after drawing these little guys and having to look at them that I can't go cuddle an actual puppy!

I have never been so excited to drop a cake off! & super sad I can't snag a piece as this cake as it smelled amazing! Can't get over it - Chocolate French bulldogs!


Vantage Newbs

We've heard about the awesomeness that is Vantage and this past weekend we decided all the hype was spot on. Free camping, fires allowed, tons of routes, tall faces & so so much sunshine!

Joshua and I were able to do a few 5.10b's which made us pretty excited. We both did some lead climbing and lead belaying and I learned how to clean routes/repel. Lori was kind enough to take a huge chunk of time to patiently show us how do it all and make sure we were safe. She's a rockstar!

Apparently we were at it from 9am-5pm. Miraculously, Joshua & I came away sunburn free, something we're super proud of. Hanging out all day in the sunshine with those views, spectacular!

We camped out right by the feathers for 2 nights. I love that in climbing people just casually add onto the invite group and then people meander between that group all day while climbing to then end up back around the fire together. A ton of food was made and widely shared, even a chocolate crème pie brought by someone's dad who was better than all of us!


Artwork inspired Cake

 A friend at work needed a last minute cake for a baby shower and asked if I could help out. Then she gave me no rules and asked for flavors- my favorite client! So we went with an 4 layer! orange scented cake with ganache filling and an almond buttercream with chocolate details. She said the couple doesn't know the sex of the baby, doesn't have a theme, she's an architect, he's a metal sculptor. So really they're probably way cooler than me! They did have the print above purchased for the baby room by Kyle Martz. I love it, it's so simple and cute but not cutesy and I was instantly inspired. So I created chocolate details that resembled the linework over top of a lined texture on the frosting and topped it with an acrylic flag inside a chocolate detail sprinkled with edible glitter.

It was a super tall cake, probably around 10" high and I love the way it turned out.


Orange scented cake:
tweaked from this recipe

18 tbs butter; room temp
2 1/4 cup sugar
4 1/2 cups flour
2 tbs baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup milk
9 egg whites
1 tbs vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 oranges; zested and juiced

1    preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 3-8" cake pans with parchment paper and flour them
you can also make a 2-9" layer cake you'll just have to bake it a little longer.
2    in a large bowl beat butter until light and fluffy, then beat in sugar 1/2 cup at a time
3    in another bowl mix flour, baking powder, and salt
4    then in another bowl lightly beat the egg whites, add in milk, vanilla, almond extract, orange zest and 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice and stir
5    with the mixer on low add in 1/3 cup milk mixture and 1/3 cup flour mixture, once all incorporated add in another 1/3 of each & mix, then the last 1/3 and mix only until incorporated.
6    then separate evenly into cake pans and bake 20-25 minutes, a toothpick should come out clean.

Ganache filling:

8 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 cup powdered sugar

1   in a double broiler melt chocolate into the heavy cream on low until all the chocolate is melted, stir frequently.
2   remove from heat and stir in salt. Then pour it into a mixing bowl and let sit until it has cooled to room temperature
3   whip the ganache until it is light and fluffy
4   whip in 1/4 cup powdered sugar to get a less runny texture, add in another 1/4 cup if you'd like it a bit thicker

Almond buttercream frosting:

2 cups butter
8 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp almond extract
4-6 tbs milk

1    in a large bowl beat butter until light and fluffy.
2   owly add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time
2    once all incorporated mix in salt and extracts.
3    add in milk 1 tbs at a time until it is a good spreadable consistency.


1   Pipe a large barrier around the edge of each cake that will get the ganache filling. This will keep it from spilling out the edges.
2    spread ganache onto filling layers, and then stack them
3   crumb coat the cake and place in fridge for 30 minutes
4   then pull out cake and frost entire cake and decorate as you like

my secret weapon is using pocky sticks instead of wooden
dowels to hold the cake layers together!
 then they're edible!