Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I chopped off my hair....again

In keeping with my hair maintenance habits, I got my yearly short hair cut.  I love it.
My girl Sloan did a great job.  As always I hope to maintain it, but knowing my habits it is doubtful.
I will enjoy it while it's short though.  No more pony tails!

Haircut

Haircut

My inspiration was this picture found on pinterest.
I know my hair isn't that curly but I think it translated my idea well.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving was good

Thanksgiving was good.
Karlie (our niece) thought the desserts meant it was Aya's (me) birthday again.
She sang Happy Birthday to everyone, I think.

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Frank and I love to bug her and she loves us.
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We got her!
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Karlie rode the train that Poppy made her (twice) to see the horses on the other side of the neighborhood. 
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We fed the horse that came to the fence.
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Karlie and I both have sparkly shoes. 
I found them both at a thrift store on the same trip.
She Loooooves shoes.
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The desserts were great, though there were way too many. 
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Lemon Curd, you are sinful.  My first time to make you will not be my last!
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Millionaire's Shortbread was shared with family friends that we visited, more will be shared tonight and some will be frozen.  It goes a long way.
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Frank's smoked Turkey didn't come off the smoker until 2 AM yesterday but it was well worth the wait. He did a great job!
I slept for eleven hours last night and I think I have recovered from Thanksgiving at Central Market. Good thing since I'm back to work today.
Have a great weekend.
xoxo
Ashley

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wow, yesterday nearly did me in at work!
The degree of business and mayhem has steadily increased since Saturday.  Monday afternoon I simply couldn't fight the crowd to do my own shopping when I got off work.  I finally got it done last night.  I came home so tired, but got a second wind and made two desserts last night.  I baked a pie pumpkin for the first time and used it for Pumpkin Cheesecake.  I used this recipe because I liked the proportions of crust to cheesecake.  It isn't a rated recipe so I'm a little nervous how it will taste. 

Cooking

Cooking

It sure looks yummy.
Pumpkin cheesecake

I also made Millionaire's Shortbread, sort of a super indulgent and rich homemade Twix bar.  I used the Salted Caramel and Chocolate Ganache that was left from my birthday cake.  I made the shortbread layer and then just melted and spread the caramel and chocolate.  I chilled it in the fridge freezer because I had to taste it last night.  You don't need much, and this filled a 9 x 13 pan, so we will be sharing with friends.  The inspiration and shortbread recipe came from this recipe in my Baked book.  Though I'm sure the results are different since I used Martha's caramel and chocolate ganache.
Either way it's delicious!
Millionaires shortbread

My friends know how much I love to cook and bestowed me with some seriously awesome cooks tools for my birthday.  I got these gorgeous handmade cutting boards, made by family friend Justin, a Cast Iron Grill Pan, an Enameled Cast Iron Skillet, and not pictured, new measuring cups and spoons.  I love cooking tools and gadgets! 
Cooking

My birthday flowers.  The sunflowers outlasted everything else, so this was actually the second arrangement that I made with them. 
Cooking

I still plan to make a Lemon Almond Meringue Tart from the Baked cookbook.  I have to get my act together and do that before work.  Tomorrow I will also make that Scalloped Sweet Potato and Sweet Onions with Cheddar Cheese thing that I mentioned before, yum. Then I relax, eat, hang with Karlie, etc.  I have almost survived my first holiday at Central Market, but I feel like I need a few days of sleep to recover and that is not going to happen.

I'm a bit scared to go to work today, only slightly kidding.  I close tonight.  Yesterday there were employees from all over the store and even from the district offices in to help bag groceries.  I was on a busy register most of the day and it was just non-stop.  If you have to shop today I would go early (too late) or late.  Wish me luck!

Happy Thanksgiving to you. 
I hope you are spending the day with people you love. 
I am thankful that my entire family will be together for the holiday. 
It is and always has been my favorite holiday and I don't think the mayhem at work can ruin that for me.
xoxo
Ashley

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Gretchen!

Today is my friend Gretchen's birthday. We have celebrated each others birthdays for twenty one years, along with Christmas, graduation, weddings, etc. Gretchen is my oldest friend and I love her to pieces. She is one of the most talented and driven ladies that I know. I have talked about our friendship beginnings and her talent before.

I shared an old photo booth picture of the two of us with her earlier this year and she said, "I wish we had done that every year of our friendship". Well, we didn't do a photo booth picture each year but I was inspired to find pictures of us from each year since 1990. I did find almost all of them, I'm only missing four years out of twenty one.

Some of my favorites.
1993
1993 Visiting Gretchen in Austin

1995
1995

1997
1997 Visiting G in Santa Fe

2004
2004 At mine and Frank's wedding








I love you G!
Happy Birthday, I hope it's a great one.
xoxo

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Birthday Desserts

I haven't seen much of my friends and family since I started working at Central Market. I got the notion that I wanted to have a birthday party so that I could get everyone together in one place and cook and eat lots of good food. I have to admit it was a lot of work, but Frank and mom helped me out with the cooking and preparations and it was well worth it in the end.
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We had a crowd, so like I mentioned last week I went a bit overboard with desserts.
I chose this Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake from Martha Stewart.  The recipe is a keeper!
I also made my Tres Leches cake, doubling the recipe with whipped cream and berries in between the four layers (I split two layers into four this time).  I opted for the Italian meringue topping like I did on the cupcakes, but didn't have a torch to brown it.  You can see where I attempted to use a lighter and gave up.  I was over being in the kitchen at that point.

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Since lots of kiddos were coming I also made Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting.  Delicious!  Unfortunately kids seem to like to lick icing off and throw away a perfectly delicious cupcake.  They don't know what they're missing!
Believe it or not almost all of that cake was eaten by the end of the night!

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I received some lovely gifts from my generous friends but my most precious gift was spending time with my favorite little girl in the whole wide world, Karlie Rose.

I had a wonderful birthday and really enjoyed my party. I think I have the birthday party bug out of my system for a few years though, and will stick to entertaining smaller groups of friends and family. I will be back to share our dinner recipes soon. We did a taco and salsa bar and it was delicious!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Grandmother's Necklace

I was commissioned to make a Grandmother's necklace with eight birthstones.
The stones are Emerald, Sapphire, 3 Opals, Diamond, Garnet and Ruby.  We decided to arrange the stones by birth order and I think it worked out nicely.
I'm thrilled with the outcome!

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I'm off to the zoo today with my brother and niece. I have finally recovered from my birthday weekend craziness and will post pictures and recipes soon.

The Thanksgiving craziness has already begun at work. Monday was busier than normal and I'm sure this weekend will be busy too. I have no idea what next week will have in store for me at work! It should be interesting. I need to plan out my shopping list now and not be shopping in the midst of the madness next week. I am in charge of desserts but think I want to make the Mad Hungry Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Vidalia Onion and English Cheddar that I made last Christmas as well. What are you planning for Thanksgiving dinner? Are you trying any new recipes?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Feist

I love Feist!  We got to see her perform in Dallas on Tuesday night at the Majestic Theater.
We had a great time. 

Feist

Feist

Feist

The first time we saw Feist perform she had a visual artist on stage with her creating backdrops for the music. If you are a fan you should check out this documentary about The Reminder Tour. As a visual artist I appreciated her dedication to the visual aspect of her show as well as her collaborations with the artists she worked with.

I might have gone a little overboard with the birthday baking.  I just did a second batch of these Vanilla Cupcakes ending up with almost four dozen (they're perfect and will be topped with strawberry cream cheese icing).  I have already baked the cake and made the caramel for a Chocolate Salted Caramel cake and plan to do a Tres Leches cake too since I didn't get to make by brother one for his birthday last month.  Um, I think it will all get eaten, or taken happily as leftovers, but yes I may be crazy!   I'm looking forward to relaxing and enjoying the company of friends and family tomorrow night.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quinceanera

I attended my first Quinceanera last Saturday night.  The Birthday girl is Frank's youngest cousin.  She is a beautiful and talented young lady, and has always been so sweet and cute.  The first time I met her she was about to turn three and was so adorable.  Bri Anna gave a thank you speech and said that she was the 25th grandchild on one side of her family and the 35th on the other and that she was the youngest grandchild on both sides.  I thought that was pretty impressive.  Frank's dad is one of eleven siblings and family functions with the Cervantez crew are always a blast.  We had a great night.

Bri Anna has been dancing in a Ballet Folklorico troupe since she was six years old.  Her dance group did two performances at tht party and that was my favorite part.  It was the first time we had seen her perform.
Quinceanera

Quinceanera

Quinceanera

Quinceanera

The birthday girl is on the right in blue.
Quinceanera


Quinceanera
I wish I had gotten a picture of her in her ball gown, it was purple and very regal.  She looked like a princess, which she was that night.

Speaking of birthdays, mine is on Saturday and we are having a little celebration.  I started the baking and preparations last night.  Everyone thinks I'm crazy for cooking and baking for my own party but it is something that I love to do.

Don't forget, my Birthday Sale is still going on in my Etsy shop through Saturday.  10% off with the code HAPPYBIRTHDAY

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Birthday Week


My birthday is Saturday.  I will be baking cake and cupcakes to share with friends and family.  I can't share them with all of you, but I can offer you a discount in my Etsy shop so that you can celebrate with me.  Receive 10% off your purchase through Saturday with the code HAPPYBIRTHDAY at checkout.  I will have aspirations to list new items in the shop this week as well, but I can't promise anything. 

Frank and I always joke that it is our birthday week or month and we like to keep the celebration going more than just one day.  This week is a bit hectic, so it doesn't feel like my birthday week so far.  We will get to the fun part soon enough though.  Speaking of birthdays, I attended my first Quniceanera last Saturday.  It was spectacular fun and I will share pictures soon.

Enjoy your day,
xoxo
Ashley

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Welcome November, I love you!

It's November, my favorite month of the year.  November has a lot going for it, it's my birthday month, the month of my favorite holiday and has the best weather that we get around here.

We fully enjoyed October as well and spent the last days of it with our nieces and nephews around a campfire with s'mores Saturday night, walking on the trail Sunday and soaking up the sun on the hammock yesterday.

Saturday night we told ghost stories, well Frank did, that I think will stick with the kids for a long time.  His story ended with fingers in the butterfingers (to which our youngest niece replied, I don't even like butterfingers) and eyeballs in the blowpops.  The kids got a kick out of it and the youngest among them reminded them all not to eat the butterfingers last night, to everyone's delight! 
Halloween weekend

Sunday's sunset walk.  We try to get out on the trail at least once a week.
I wish we could make it everyday but my work schedule and earlier sunsets get in the way of that.
Fall walk

Fall walk

Fall walk

Fall walk

Fall walk

I did some relaxing when I got home from work yesterday. 
I have a hard time just relaxing but the weather just called me outside and I couldn't help but enjoy it.
Halloween weekend

Fall walk

Welcome November, I will love every bit of you!
I'm planning on having a Birthday sale in my etsy shop so that you can celebrate with me, so stay tuned for details.
I'm still obsessing over recipes, as usual. The pulled pork turned out great and is going on our party menu. I will get that recipe up soon.  I'm working on a Grandmother's necklace with eight birthstones that I am really excited about.  I'll be sure to get pictures before I rush it out to it's new owner.
xoxo ashley