Tag Archives: red velvet

Home for the holidays

Merry Christmas! / ¡Feliz Navidad! I hope that you are all enjoying some kind of a slowdown or a break right now, and that you have plenty of time to spend with your loved ones, wherever you are.

I came home from school on the night of the 21st, in the middle of a big snowstorm that ended up dumping about 8 inches of the white stuff in our neighborhood. The next day involved lots of shoveling. On the 23rd, I went shopping (I swore I’d be done by then), baked three kinds of cookies, and wrapped all of my gifts. In my head, I was going to be finished with all of those tasks by about 5 o’ clock. I finished at 12:30 AM.

Idyllic, until you have to shovel it out of your driveway. (Oh, why am I complaining? My family did most of it.)

Idyllic, until you have to shovel it out of your driveway. (Oh, why am I complaining? My family did most of it.)

Cookie baking started at 8 AM...

Cookie baking started at 8 AM…

...picked up again around 5 PM...

…picked up again around 5 PM…

...and finally ended around 11 PM.

…and finally ended around 11 PM.

The next morning, I did a little cleaning, prepped a breakfast casserole, and baked a coffee cake for Christmas morning. After all of that, the huge payoff was a slow and lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We like to draw things out in my house- wake up, make the coffee, maybe open the stockings, then eat breakfast, then open a few presents, then take a break to talk to family, then a few more gifts, then a break…and so on until it’s all done. We may have established a new record for longest Christmas gift-opening this year- not because we have hundreds of gifts, but because we take our sweet time. I will be doing the same with my own children and they will probably lose their minds.

No words.

No words.

Just about sums it up.

Just about sums it up.

In other news: I got the grant! And…I’m not going to Chile this time around. For one thing, flight prices went up and would exceed the entire award. For another (and more important) thing, it would just have been too much stress to organize a trip right at the end of finals week, and then be traveling for almost the entirety of my shorter-than-normal break. Conversations with no less than two advisors, my boss, my parents, and four friends confirmed my instinct that all of the craziness would not be worth it. So I’m taking a break and spending more time at home than I have since last winter break.

I knew barely a day into it that this was the right decision. I haven’t been this relaxed and relatively unoccupied in months. My life would be so incredibly hectic right now were I to be heading to Chile next week. This is not to say that I don’t miss everyone and everything in that skinny little country and that hot, bustling city I’ve called home, but sometimes you just need to stick around in one place for a little while longer. And for me right now, that place is here. I know that I’ll be back in Santiago one day. The links are too strong now for it to be any other way. But this was not the time. If I were supposed to be going, I would just know, and I would not have agonized over the decision, and it would not have caused me so much stress. Being an ambitious person makes it really difficult to say no to an opportunity like a paid international trip. But I also needed to realize that the bigger opportunity may have been this very vacation that I’ve got right now. Everything happens for a reason- and so far, it’s turning out very, very well.

Life is good, friends. I hope that you can celebrate the holidays a little while longer, even beyond New Year’s. If you’re Catholic like me, remember that Christmas doesn’t technically end for us until Epiphany- so don’t stop until then! Appreciate the time you have with your loved ones, and let them know that you’re happy to be there with them. Put away your phone and shut your laptop down for a while (…says the girl writing this on the Internet). Just sit. And smile. Think about how good this year was- and how much more awesome next year will be.

Wishing you peace, joy, and above all, love,

Gaby

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Keeping on

When I say I’m going to blog 3 to 4 times per week, I mean it! This is post #3 this week. What. Up. So let’s get to it!

I made red velvet crinkles, as promised.

Line those ingredients up.

I figured out how to insert a link! This recipe can be found at Two Peas and Their Pod, a baking blog often referenced by my other blogs which I will surely have to explore more soon. Yes, there’s cake mix in those ingredients. No judgment. It’s easier! Frankly, I didn’t feel like getting cocoa powder and red food coloring all over the place today. There’s also cornstarch pictured up there, but actually, you use flour.

Mix flour and cake mix together. Then add vanilla, eggs, and oil. The dough will be thick and glossy.

RED. And shiny. Not like a firetruck.

Break off tablespoon-ish pieces of dough, and roll into balls, then roll in powdered sugar. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, and that’s all!

I took a decent photo!

Bear with me when I rejoice about good photos. I don’t have a fantastic camera, nor do I always catch the good light in my house, and so my shooting abilities are limited. The sun managed to make an appearance late this afternoon, and the light in the kitchen was perfect.

It’s like being at the eye doctor. Option 1…

…or Option 2?

Those photos are essentially the same, but in one, the light is warmer/yellower, and in the other, it’s cooler/whiter. Very happy with the light distribution and focus in both.

In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned that I’ve been trying to get some reading done while I’m home. So far, I have finished both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, and I’m nearing the end of Half the Sky.

A lot of you have probably already read all of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, so I’ll spare everyone a summary. I read both of those books in less than 2 days each. Holy goodness. They’re probably the most exciting, plot-driven books I’ve read since Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Is the writing necessarily on par with Larsson and other books I’ve read in between? No. It’s not the best use of language I’ve ever seen- although it’s certainly not the worst (the winner of that prize may be the Twilight series). But the plot. The story. The twists and the turns! I was honestly surprised several times, and only set the books down when a) Donald Driver was on the finals of Dancing with the Stars and b) my little brother was reading them. I highly recommend them as a summer read, and I can’t wait to go pick up Mockingjay.

Half the Sky is a nonfiction piece about the necessity of female empowerment on a global scale. I took a class on international development this past semester, and two of our class readings were from this book. The authors, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, are well-respected journalists and incredible writers. The most memorable and inspiring readings from my class were emotionally compelling, driven by clear data, and grounded in a practical plan of action. The entire book is constructed just like that. It’s not overly sensitive or cautious: they don’t beat around the bush, and they admit that they are politically incorrect when they have to be (i.e., how men in the developing world tend to manage and invest money worse than women). I appreciate their honesty, transparency, and straightforwardness. It speaks to my feminist side and makes a strong case from various angles for a global effort to lift up women in the developing world. The point: raising girls equal to boys and ensuring that they have the same opportunities could end poverty. Read the book if you want to know exactly how. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in international affairs, international development, poverty, and women’s rights/feminism.

How do people do this blogging thing every day? Jeez.

Random thoughts: If you pin a lot of things to Pinterest from one site in a short amount of time, they will think you are a bot and ask you to complete one of those Captcha things. I’m sorry I love Modcloth, Pinterest…

It’s really exciting when one of your favorite bloggers responds to a dumb question you had about shipping baked goods.

Chile is five weeks away. Moment of panic. Resume life.

That’s all I’ve got right now. Don’t know what’s coming up for next week, but surely some baking or cooking will be involved, as well as further Chile preparations.

You know the drill: comment! Pretty pretty please with whipped cream and a cherry on top!

Have a happy weekend, everyone!

With love,

Gaby

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