Monday, March 30, 2009

Testing, testing...1...2...3...

This weekend I did some cupcake trials. I bought a couple of mini cupcake tins, some liners, and a few boxes of cake mix (because I am lazy and don't want to make everything from scratch).

First I made a batch of lemon cupcakes - I added lemon zest to the plain yellow cake mix, threw in some lemon juice in place of some of the water, and then made a simple glaze of lemon juice and powdered sugar. The mini cupcakes turned out great - they cook in 13 minutes at 350, and cool in about 5-10 minutes, so they're ready to frost quickly. Unfortunately the frosting didn't hold up very well; it kind of melted into the cupcakes by the second day, so they looked all patchy and odd. I think I may have to switch to a buttercream frosting (ugh), but if I do that I'm hoping to find some passionfruit puree to use as flavoring. Mr Wonderful & I went to a catering/wedding fair event a while back that had a lemon/passionfruit cake sample we both loved, and I'd like to be able to reproduce it. It would require a bit more work though, as I'd have to pipe the frosting on the cupcakes.

I also tried making chocolate mini cupcakes. I used a Devil's Food flavor of cake mix and when I made the "plain" chocolate cupcakes, they tasted like nothing much. Even the kids didn't like them. However, I did also spice up some of the batter towards the end of the batch, with cinnamon, orange liqueur, and a bit of chili powder. The cinnamon flavor came through, but the orange and chili powder were completely lost. I think I may need to use cayenne instead of chili powder and only use the orange liqueur in the ganache. The ganache was a whole other story - my first try (with half the chocolate chips) turned out grainy & gross; I used Barefoot Contessa's method of melting the chocolate & cream in a double boiler. The second try turned out perfectly; in this instance, I heated the cream just until it boiled, then poured that over the chocolate chips and let it sit for a couple of minutes before whisking together. The cupcakes were super easy to frost with the ganache, too - you just dip them in and swirl a bit, then pull them out and the frosting is beautiful and glossy and smooth. Even better - they still look beautiful the next day. :)

A couple other updates: I found the perfect shoes on sale at Kohl's, ordered my bouquet & Mr Wonderful's boutonniere from a local florist (yay, white tulips!), and we figured out the music situation. Tomboy has a boombox that is battery-operated, has detachable speakers, and has an auxiliary input that accommodates an iPod. We tested it out last night, with batteries & everything, and it worked beautifully.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wedding & job update

Oooh boy, things are in full swing now!

Still no job, but I've been doing some contract work for individual clients and for my old supervisor, who quit working for The Boss and is now opening up her own consulting business. So there's some money coming in. In fact I'm hopeful that I'll be able to just do consulting, as that would solve my issues with telecommuting quite nicely.

The wedding is set for May 2, at a large regional park. We've reserved a lovely picnic spot with a bunch of picnic tables, BBQs, a small deck for dancing, and a beautiful flagstone patio area that will serve quite well for the ceremony. I built a wedsite & found a free web host, and then sent out email invitations. We're doing a potluck BBQ reception, telling guests not to bring presents, but to bring food instead. I'm actually really excited; this is just the kind of wedding I would have wanted originally - something fun and laid back that we could invite all of our friends & family to. We're getting a great response - most of people we've invited are coming, I think.

My dress is in, and it's gorgeous and needs almost no alterations - just a bustle and maybe to tack down the sleeves to the elastic underneath. I made a beautiful silk flower hair clip for about $10. Mr Wonderful is renting a jacket for his tux, and we're getting some of the more esoteric accessories (sporran, hose, etc) at the Scottish Games in Woodland on the weekend before the wedding. And the kids? Well, Kohl's had an enormous sale and we ended up getting Tomboy a dress and Rugrat a pinstriped suit for less than $100. Awesome.

We got our rings too. Mine is a just simple white gold band, so it doesn't compete with my engagement ring. I already had a tungsten ring purchased for Mr Wonderful, but then he lost about 20 pounds and it ended up being too big. Unfortunately you cannot resize tungsten, so we bought another tungsten ring for him (one full size smaller!) on, for about $50. So now if he gains weight, he can wear the bigger one, but if he stays all skinny like he is now, he can wear the new smaller one. They're very similar; just the celtic knot pattern in the center is different.

There's not much left to do -- find a solution for music (speakers or boombox, battery-operated, that will accommodate an ipod), get a bouquet (Grandma has graciously offered to pay for my flowers!), decide on shoes (whether to buy some new ones, if I can find something good and cheap), find someone to do my hair, and figure out the cupcake situation. My wedding shawl is well on its way, and if I continue knitting a full repeat each day, I'll have it done in plenty of time. I'm working my butt off at the gym, so I should be in better shape than I have been in years when I walk down that aisle. Oh, and we have to get our marriage license.

Things are falling into place, and I am so excited! I'm not nervous at all about marrying Mr Wonderful - there hasn't been any doubt in my mind about him. I just can't wait to make things official, and to celebrate with all of our friends and family. :)