Monday, February 26, 2007

Outside the Snow is Falling...

Who would've thought that after multiple days in the 70s in January, we would have such a blustery snowstorm so late in February?! I woke up yesterday and looked out the wasn't even raining. I went about my Sunday morning routine...lounging, reading, having a leisurely breakfast...we switched to afternoon church this year, which doesn't start until 1pm, so I have plenty of time on Sunday mornings to go at my own pace. (At first, I was bummed about the switch...I had afternoon Church at BYU almost every single year and I was thrilled to finally have the afternoons to take Sunday naps when we moved to the Arlington ward...but, I decided to find the brightside of the change, and I have really gotten used to having a long morning on Sundays to spend as I please!) Anyway, by the time I was dressed and ready for church--just putting the finishing touches on my makeup--Michael calls to me from the other room and says, "Taryn?...Church is cancelled." I looked out the window and it was a winter wonderland outside!

It didn't take me long to get back in my pajamas before Michael and I made grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon watching movies. I had been a little under the weather, forgive the pun, over the weekend, so I was secretly really happy that it happened to be this particular Sunday that Church was cancelled. With such a powdery snowfall, Michael really wanted to go downtown to walk around the Monuments...and, since the rule in my house when I was little was "if you are too sick to go to school/church, you are too sick to go play," I decided that the opposite must also be true. I rested up all afternoon and by about 4:30, I was ready to get out of the apartment and get some fresh air. It was a little bit rainy by the time we got downtown, but it cleared up shortly thereafter and it was quite pretty!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

This week, while I was at Wegman's Super Market, I was surprised to find an extensive display of Easter candy (I mean, it was only the middle of February!)... shelves and shelves of Peeps, chocolate bunnies, Snickers' eggs, Butterfinger eggs, M & Ms in Easter pastels, Reese's peanut butter eggs, jelly beans, and Whopper eggs. There were egg-dying kits, bowls that looked like decorated eggs, and baskets full of plastic grass and plastic eggs. But what made me most excited for the coming East Holiday were the sugar cookies, cookie cutters in the shape of bunnies and easter eggs, pastel sprinkles, and pre-assembled kits that contained all of the above!

I know it's a little ridiculous that all of these things are on display before February is even over...much less before St. Patrick's Day has come and gone...but I love Easter, so I was thrilled! I think of all the special holiday candy, Easter candy is my absolute favorite! There is something about a Snickers bar in the shape of an Easter egg that tastes so much better to me than a normal Snickers bar...something about a Reese's egg that I like so much more than a normal Reese's Peanut Butter cup. I'm sure this has a lot to do with the memories I associate with all of these novelties. For example, Peeps will always remind me of when my twin sister Lauren and I would roast them over a candle in our bedroom. And Reese's eggs will always make me think of my roommate Heidi. So, I will always love these both!

I fully intend to make a Wheatley family tradition of decorating sugar cookies in Easter shapes and dying hard boiled eggs. That was always such a fun part of Easter for me when I was little and I can't wait to carry on the tradition with my own little ones someday.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Black Bottom Cupcakes

I'm not sure exactly what my deal is, but I have had a serious sweet tooth lately! Maybe I always have a sweet tooth, and I just don't indulge very often. But, to celebrate Valentine's Day this past week, I went a little choclate crazy in the name of love and haven't quite gotten my will power back completely. Anyway, tonight I made these yummy, yummy treats and they were fantastic! They are a little bit like molten chocolate cakes, but in the shape of a cupcake with a cream cheese gooey center. If you like chocolate, you should try these as soon as possible!

Here's what you need:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temp
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper or foil baking cups. Using an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Add the egg and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3/4 teaspoon salt, the baking soda and cocoa powder. Add 1 1/2 cups water, the oil, vinegar and vanilla and stir until smooth.

Fill each baking cup two-thirds full with the cake batter and top with 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture. Bake until the edges are firm to the touch, about 25 minutes.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

My Latest Obsession

Ever since my favorite morning show on DC's HOT 99.5 FM got canned, I've had a hard time finding the same kind of stimulating entertainment on my morning commute. The replacement to the HOT MORNING MESS is a guy named Kane--not funny, not entertaining, but usually quite annoying and frequently crass. The morning shows on the other radio stations aren't any better. I got some relief for the six weeks or so that I listened to a non-stop loop of my 6 favorite Christmas CDs...Celine Dion, N'Sync (silly, I know, but still fun!), Jewel, and a few mixes. But, once the holidays were over, I was dreading going back to the radio. (You are probably wondering why I don't just listen to my other CDs...a valid question. The thing is, I listen to my ipod all day at work, so I essentially listen to my CDs all day long. And I wanted a break, I guess. Plus, I don't want to have to do anything: flip stations, skip tracks, or change CDs to find a song I want to listen to.)

Shortly after Christmas, I also finally got around to getting a library card to the Arlington library that is less than a block away from my apartment. I happened to mosey over to the books-on-tape section and was thrilled to find a few titles I recognized! It's not a huge selection, mind you, and there aren't many new releases; but it is definitely workable. I am on my third book-on-tape and I have become completely obsessed! I almost can't wait to go to work in the mornings just to listen to what happens next! As soon as I finish one book, I rush back to the library for a new one. It's addictive, really. I will say, some narrators have more pleasant voices than others; and, of course, some "character voices" that the narrators use for characters of the opposite sex take a little getting used to. But all in all, I am so happy to be enjoying my 40-minute commute once again!