Friday, April 17, 2009

Two weeks

We're two weeks out now. Most of the stuff on my to-do list is done, but I'm a bit worried about my wedding shawl. The border is taking a LOT longer than I thought it was going to. I've jut got to keep plugging along with it and hope I get it finished in time. I'm planning to spend most of the day tomorrow knitting; I hope I'll be able to get the first end finished (I'm about halfway done with the first end now, and truly, it takes forever to knit this part).

I got another RSVP today, and this brings our total guest count to EIGHTY-FREAKIN'-FIVE. Oh my god you guys, I cannot believe it. I can't believe that my tiny 30-people-max wedding has morphed into this enormous party. I am so excited, though! A whole bunch of people are coming that I truly never expected to come; people I haven't seen in years are showing up! And about a third of our guest list is kids, which I think is awesome. What could be more fun than a bunch of families playing in a park for the day?

We are totally planning a bunch of fun activities, too. We've got hula hoops, frisbees, bubbles for the little ones (including a battery-operated bubble machine), coloring books & crayons, and a "guest book" that is a big blank sketch book where people can write advice, draw little pictures, whatever. We're bringing some other games for the adults & older kids, too - cribbage, liars' dice, etc.

I just can't wait for the day to get here!

Friday, April 10, 2009


Anyone out there used Mirena before? I just got it, uh, "installed" on Tuesday. I had discussed it via email with my gyn a couple of months ago, when I was still employed & still planning to get married in October. I was hoping that the lower dose of hormones, delivered locally rather than systemically, would eliminate some of the things that I hate about birth control pills (the moodiness, the monthly bloat, etc.). I figured I'd get Mirena when I went in for my annual exam, which falls in April. Even though we've moved up the wedding I still thought it would be a good idea to get it now.

I'm rethinking that decision.

I've had it for three days now, and although the spotting has basically stopped, I am still getting intermittent cramps. Some of them are really bad, much worse than I get with my period - and they're mostly in the lower-right quadrant of my abdomen, not generalized in my abs/lower back like period cramps usually are. It's definitely worse when I am driving or have been driving recently. Something about sitting up in that position, instead of the semi-reclined position I'm usually in on the couch, is really aggravating things.

So I'm wondering: if you've had Mirena before (or have it now), how long did the cramps last? Should I be concerned?

And another thing - we've been waiting to resume, ummm...relations. The doctor said to wait three days. It's been three days. But quite frankly I'm a bit scared because I'm worried that any jostling or, you know, rhythmic abdominal contractions (*cough, cough*) could result in serious abdominal pains. It would be ironic to get 99+% effective birth control only to find out that it acts as a deterrant to the one thing that could result in pregnancy.

So...Mirena. Discuss in the comments, please! Or email me, if you prefer.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cupcake extravaganza!

I've been MIA for a while now, I know. But in my defense I 1) got engaged, 2) lost my camera for a while, and 3) got laid off. So my wedding, which was initially planned for October, is now taking place the first weekend in May. I'm a bit overwhelmed. :)

Today I did a trial run for my wedding cupcakes. I'm not much of a baker, but I figured i could manage mini cupcakes for the shoestring-budget potluck BBQ wedding we're planning. So I bought three boxes of cake mix and got them all gussied up:

Spicy Mexican Chocolate Mini Cupcakes
1 box milk chocolate flavor cake mix
water, eggs, oil as per directions on box
1 1/2 tsp good cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1 Tbsp excellent cocoa mix (I used Sharffenberger cocoa mix)

Mix it all up and bake in mini-cupcake tins lined with paper liners for 13 minutes at 350. Frost with ganache:

1 c heavy cream
1 pkg good semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1-2 Tbsp orange liqueur

Put the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl and toss with the cinnamon. Heat the cream in a small saucepot over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the cream just reaches a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and walk away for 2 minutes. Then slowly whisk the cream and chocolate together until the chocolate is completely melted. If you still have bits of unmelted chocolate, put the bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure boiling water does not touch bottom of bowl) and whisk slowly but constantly until the chocolate JUST melts. Whisk in the liqueur. Chocolate should be smooth and glossy. To frost cupcakes, turn them upside down and dip the top in the chocolate, swirling a little bit to coat completely.

Pina Colada Mini Cupcakes
1 box white cake mix
3 egg whites
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 small can pineapple chunks in juice, pureed in small blender
1/4 c white rum
3/4 c shredded coconut, plus 1 cup for toasting

Put cake mix in bowl of stand mixer and add in 3/4 c coconut, and mix together. Prepare the cake mix as directed, substituting 1/2 c pineapple puree for 1/2 c water and 1/4 c white rum for 1/4 c water (you should end up adding a bit more than 1/2 c water to the mix). Save the rest of the pineapple puree for the frosting. Bake in mini-cupcake tins lined with paper liners for 13 minutes at 350. Frost with pineapple cream cheese frosting:

1 8-oz block cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 box powdered sugar
reserved pineapple puree from cupcakes (about 1/4 cup)
reserved 1 c shredded coconut

Beat together cream cheese and butter in stand mixer until fluffy. Add in powdered sugar and pineapple puree, beating until completely mixed and fluffy. Toast shredded coconut in 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even browning, then sprinkle on the frosted mini cupcakes.

Lemon Mini Cupcakes
1 box white cake mix
3 egg whites
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 lemons

Zest the lemons and add to the cake mix in bowl of stand mixer; mix together. Juice the lemons. Prepare the cake mix as directed, substituting 1/2 c lemon juice for 1/2 c water. Bake in mini-cupcake tins lined with paper liners for 13 minutes at 350. Frost with passionfruit buttercream frosting:

1 stick butter, softened
1 Tbsp meringue powder
pinch salt
1 box powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp passionfruit puree
1-2 Tbsp milk

Beat butter in stand mixer until fluffy. Add in salt and meringue powder. Gradually add powdered sugar and passionfruit puree. Add in a tablespoon or two of milk at the end to get frosting to proper consistency.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bearing fruit

You may recall, a few years ago I spent a full autumn day planting over 250 spring bulbs, in the hopes that I'd wind up with a garden full of my favorite flowers to cheer me up during the high hay fever season. Unfortunately, I didn't realize at the time that gophers LOVE tulip bulbs, and not only that, but they can easily get into my planter boxes. I ended up with a few hyacinths and daffodils, but only ONE lone tulip escaped the gopher feast.

This past fall, Mr Wonderful cleared out my designated "cutting garden" planter box (we have several huge boxes), laid down plastic netting, and filled it back in with fresh, happy dirt that was left over from our new lawn project. Then I spent a day planting spring bulbs again, hoping that this year, they'd escape devastation.

Obviously, from the picture on the right, you can see that they did, and our labors are bearing fruit at last...dozens and dozens of tulips and daffodils, and scores of grape hyacinths (the little purple flowers in the mid-ground here, also known as muscari) and crocuses. This is the garden I hoped for.

Click the photo to go to my flickr feed, where I have another shot of the planter box, showing off pretty much the entire thing, and a picture of our beautiful lilac bush as well.