Sunday, July 25, 2010

Carrot Cake Recipe


CARROT CAKE

FOR THE CAKE
Butter, for greasing the cake pans
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
                Plus more for flouring the cake pan
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
4 lrg eggs
1 ½ cups canola oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 packed cups peeled and grated carrots             
                (About I pound)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

FOR THE FROSTING
1 cup (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk or water, if needed
2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans.

DIRECTIONS
1.       Make the cake:  Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325F. Heavily butter and flour 2 round 9 inch cake pans, tapping out the excess flour.   Set the cake pans aside.
2.       Place the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a lrg bowl and whisk to combine.
3.       Place the eggs, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
4.       Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine.  Add the carrots and nuts and stir to combine.
5.       Evenluy divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the edges have pulled away from the side of the pans,  55 to 65 minutes.
6.       Place the cake pans on wire racks and let the layer cool completely, about 1 hour.
7.       Make the frosting: Place the cream cheese and butter in a medium size bowl and beat with an electric mixer until very smooth and creamy, about 3 min.  With the mixer running on medium speed, slowly add 3 ½ cups of the confectioners’ sugar and beat until it is fully incorporated and smooth, about 3 minutes.  Add the vanilla and beat until just combined.  If the frosting is to soft, slowly add the remaining ½ cup of confectioners’ sugar and beat to combine.  If the frosting is too stiff, add the 1 tablespoon of milk or water.
8.       Run a knife around the edge of each cake layer to loosen it from the pan.  Invert the cake layers to unmold them. Place one cake layer on a plate.  Spread some of the frosting on top. Place the second layer on top of the frosting and frost the side and top of the cake.  Press the 2 cups of nuts onto the side of the cake.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lovely birthday party





Dinner was fabulous.  Marietta made lasagna, and it has this beautiful cinnamon taste that perfected the dish.  Everyone loved the carrot cake.  I guess that I'll just have to post the recipe here when I get back from CHA.

Put your party shoes on....


Josh and I are heading out to a birthday part this evening for two of my nearest and dearest friends, Marietta and Jaime. 



As usual, I jumped at the chance to bake and was really excited when Marietta said that she wanted a carrot cake.  My aunt has an awesome carrot cake recipe.  It was fun to make something new that I hadn't ever made before.  The cream cheese frosting for this cake is fantastic...I know because I tried it, of course!  So a big happy birthday to my girls and a big thank you to my aunt for her fantastic and yummy recipe.  Yum!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rest and Relaxation


Finally, a weekend where we could relax.  If you are looking for a way to get a great work out and live in Arizona, I suggest trying yard work in the middle of summer.  I spent only about an hour outside today, right around noon, and it was hot, hot, hot!  But, I did get the grass cut, the rose bushes trimmed and the yard watered.  Thankfully, I was able to jump right into the pool after the yard work and cool down. I'll so miss having a pool when we move. This was a great weekend to just relax.  The next few weekends will be busier, so we took full advantage.  We caught a few movies, "Inception" in the theater and "Paranormal Activity" back on the home front.  I really enjoyed "Inception", it was very creative.  "Paranormal Activity" was a deal that I made in order to watch  "Valentine's Day" with Josh.  It was definitely creepy and I'll definitely be sleeping with one eye open tonight.  Also, I got the chance to finish my book - The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo.  This book was definitely a little too violent for my taste, but the story was solid and it kept me turning page after page to find out what would happen next.  I look forward to the next book in the 3 part series.  Mostly, life is good and we were just both thankful to have time to take a deep breath, rest and reboot.  I'm really looking forward to Josh's birthday and our upcoming camping trip.  Only a few more weeks....

Monday, July 12, 2010

Honey keeping cool in the Arizona heat



Who knew Honey was so smart?  On the way to the Wag N Wash today, she put her nose right up into the air conditioner in Josh's truck and she did not hardly move for anything.  I think it was a little slice of heaven for her.  

In other news, Josh won the "Best Boyfriend in the World" award today for being so lovely and supportive. I really am such a lucky girl.  I think back to my single days and wonder how on Earth I even made it on my own.  Life is so much easier and better and more fun when you have someone to lean on when things just aren't quite going your way....when your car battery dies....when your dog needs a haircut...when your pantry is empty....when it is well over 110 degrees.....and worse when you are already far too stressed to be able to cope with just simple things going wrong.  What could have very easily been a rotten, no good, very bad day turned into a nice evening of quality time.  I feel very loved and very fortunate.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Irrigating our new yard



We learned the basics of irrigation this morning and met a new neighbor.  I know that we will so enjoy living here so I really do hope that everything keeps going in the right direction and we can make this house our first home.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Papers, papers and more papers



We are getting really good at initialing and signing documents.  It seems like this is something that we have to do daily.  I have heard that this is nothing as compared to the closing papers.  Late this afternoon, we met with our loan officer and got all of our preliminary paperwork squared away.  We haven't locked into an interest rate yet, but it is unbelievably low right now.  We'll lock in next week on Monday or Tuesday.  The last I checked it was at 4.875%.  So that is very exciting.  Recently, I read an interesting article from Sun Time Media entitled Low mortgage rates just got lower.  "According to Freddie Mac, benchmark 30-year mortgage rates peaked at a whopping 18.45 percent in October of 1981 during the last Great Recession. Rates fell below 10 percent in April of 1986, then bounced in the 9-percent to 10-percent range during the balance of the 1980s."  Maybe all of you lovely readers know all about mortgage rates and how high they have been in the past, but I'm a newbie and am just learning the ropes.  I was in shock to think of an 18.45% rate.  Of course, I was barely turning 2 that year and was not tuned into the financial market.  So, I feel thankful that we are able to buy at a time when there are such affordable rates.  Maybe being too late for the $8,000 tax credit isn't such a bad thing at all in the long run.  

Tomorrow morning, we'll learn all about using public irrigation, the security system and many switches for lights around the outside of the home.  The current owner has been really kind about sharing details about the home and the neighborhood.  I'm sure that this will come in handy.  I've been keeping a notebook handy for pertinent details.  He also offered to leave what he deems as a perfect sized lawn mower for the berms on the edge of the yard and the gas stove that is in the kitchen.  2 less things to worry about.  Yay!

Isn't the pink bathroom shown above so cute!?  I don't know how long Josh will allow it to stay pink, but I love its 1950's charm.  Even the lights and mirror/cabinet are original.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Home inspection passes without a hitch - take 2



We had our building inspection today.  It went quite well.  We hired the same inspector that looked over the previous house that fell out in the appraisal process.  He is very thorough and seems like a really nice guy.  He seemed quite impressed with our latest house.  He pointed out many of the same features that we have been excited about and he didn't find anything that was a deal breaker.  I learned more about the house from the owner as we sat around waiting for the final inspection details.  This house was built in 1955 - it has been owned by the same family since November 1959 - 50 years!!!  He told us all about past and present neighbors as well as care instructions for the house and yard.  We're heading back over on Saturday morning to learn how to handle the bi-weekly public irrigation, the security system, outdoor light switches, etc.  We will be living about a block away from the high school where Josh's parents, aunts and uncles all went to school.  So we are right in their old stomping grounds.  He even knew a family that Josh's dad was friends with who lived down the street back in the day.  As if that was not enough, guess where he and his mother are moving? Montana!  It was just one coincidence right after another.  This house, which is in great shape, with a huge yard, in a great neighborhood was on sale for over 700 days!  All along, it was just waiting for us.  I have to really hand it to Joshua for forcing us to persevere and find the home that was just right.  I know that this is a home that we'll live in for many years and we'll both be quite proud to own it.  

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

10 ways for me to decompress


This year has been a roller coaster.  The peaks have been high and the valleys have been very low.  I suppose that most years are like that but this year seems like a year that I might not forget any time soon.  I can feel the stress building up in me, and I seem to have forgotten how to decompress.  So I thought it might be somewhat therapeutic to remind myself of 10 things that make me feel good in hopes that I'll take time to do some of them over the next few weeks and months.  Nothing about this year is showing signs of getting any easier so I might as well do my best to relax any chance I get.

1. Yoga - I love yoga and I haven't been to yoga in months.  I've talked myself into believing that it is too difficult to go.  It's not.  I know that it's not and it feels really great!

2. Swim - This I've been trying to enjoy a few times each week this summer and it really does help relax me, day or night.

3. Create- I've been in a bit of a creative slump and I need to really need to make this a priority.

4. Read - One of my favorite pass times

5. Yardwork and House Cleaning - I know that these don't seem as if they should belong on this list.  I've actually found yardwork to be a wonderful stress reliever and a great work out, especially in the 100+ summer heat.  I always feel better when our house is clean and organized and it really has not been this summer.

6. Cook - Spending time on a nice, healthy meal and/or trying a new recipe is fun.  Cooking the same old meal time-and-time again is not so fun.  I need to remember to watch for new recipes and not be afraid to try something different.

7. Walk - I miss walking.  It's so hot here right now, but I could still get out at dusk and get a little walking in if I put my mind to it.

8. Laugh - I love to laugh.  Working by myself all day long does not afford me enough opportunity to laugh.  Thankfully Josh keeps me giggling through most of the evening - but I'm sure that more laughter would not be a bad thing. Maybe we need to get tickets to a comedy club.

9. Friends - I am fortunate to have so many wonderful girlfriends and I never get to see any of them enough.

10. Volunteer - I have been so busy on this roller coaster that I haven't had time to give to anyone else.  Giving to others always puts a smile on my face. I should sign up to volunteer soon.

Thankfully, Josh, Honey and I are heading down to Mt. Graham for a camping trip in a few weeks.  All 3 of us are looking forward to the R&R and cool weather.  If all goes according to plan, our closing date is set on August 11th, but we won't take possession of the house until August 24th.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bid accepted and we might have a winner


This might just be our new back patio.  We are one step closer to possibly buying a home and we are very excited!  Our bid was accepted and I feel a lot better this time around.  I don't have a nagging worry about the appraisal or building inspection possibly going all wrong.  I really do think that this is more than likely going to be our home and that I can throw caution to the wind and just be downright excited.

So stay tuned!  The building inspection is scheduled for next Wednesday.  I'll take a load of better pictures at that time.  If all goes to plan, we'll take ownership of this lovely new home toward the end of August.  Yay!

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