Five Little Things || Six

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Here are the five little things giving me joy this week!

  1. Lilacs – The above photo is my mom’s lilac bush, and my favorite thing in the spring is when it blooms! It’s beautiful and it smells wonderful. It always has birds, butterflies, and bees around it.
  2. New hair – I’m lobbing off my hair tomorrow and getting balayage done – It’s been too long since I chopped my hair and even longer since I’ve done anything with the color and I’m excited!
  3. Crossing items off my to-do list – I’m a list writer. I always need a pen and paper nearby, and I’ll admit to occasionally (usually) writing completed items on my list just to cross them off. I don’t make lists every day, but having a completed list at the end of a day makes me feel accomplished.
  4. Organizing & Simplifying – I’m a notoriously messy and unorganized person, but I’m slowly attempting to change my ways by simplifying all the “stuff” in my life. I’ve been simplifying and purging out a ton of the things I own, and organizing what remains. I’m constantly amazed how much I can come up with to get rid of – especially after I think I’ve already gone through it. Mentally and emotionally I’m at a place to let the stuff go – Life isn’t about the “stuff,” it’s about experiences and people you love.
  5. The WordPress community – I’ve gained a few new blog followers this week via my different posts, and I’m so happy you’re here! It’s so cool to share your interests with people around the world, and I’m humbled that you think I have interesting things to share. I’m looking forward to chatting and building up this global WP community with you.

What little things are giving you joy this week?

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Read || Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

img_0299Fans have waited for this book since City of Heavenly Fire was released back in 2014 and we got a preview of the new generation of Shadowhunters at the end. If Lady Midnight is any indication, this Dark Artifices Series is not going to disappoint!

Admittedly, I was a bigger fan of The Infernal Devices than I was of The Mortal Instruments, and my opinion is that this series is more in the style of the former. While you don’t need to read any of the previous series to enjoy the book (I haven’t even read any of the Shadowhunter Academy or Bane Chronicles), it does help to build the backstory, and all of our old favorite characters make appearances, so we get a peek into where they are and what they’re doing.

This new series is going to provide enough twists, turns, and mysteries to stand on it’s own and I, for one, cannot wait to read the rest! There is so much I need to know, like right now. If I keep talking about it I’ll spill too many book secrets, so if you want to read a more in depth, spoiler-free review, go and visit fellow WP blogger driftinglexi here. Then after you read, we can talk about all the spoilers and theories! 🙂 

“I’m a Shadowhunter. Quip fast, die young.” – Emma (Cassandra Clare)

 

Baking || Chocolate Whiskey Cake

DSC_0072Before I even share this delicious cake recipe found on the New York Times website, I have to admit that I baked this cake twice yesterday for family Easter dinner because, in the most comical lack of common sense in my recent history, I reasoned that “a cup and a half” of coffee did not mean 1 1/2 measuring cups of coffee, it meant a mug and a half of coffee because that’s what one generally means when talking about a “cup of coffee”…  Oy. Yeah… Sometimes I amaze myself. Fortunately, all the excess liquid burned off in the oven so both cakes turned out fine, we got a funny story, and my family had no problem eating, what I dubbed, the “cake soup” version (My dad: “At least you know it won’t be dry!”) and a good portion of the appropriately measured one before I snagged a photo. I will make a few changes when I bake it again, so you can find the original recipe here, and I’ll post mine with changes.

Ingredients:

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (plus a few extra tablespoons to dust the pans)
  • 2 cups brewed strong coffee (take my advice and actually measure that out!)
  • ½ cup Irish whiskey (I used the Jameson I had stocked in my cabinet)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 cup light brown sugar 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shaved chocolate (don’t use chocolate chips)
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Directions: 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter 2 8-inch cake pans and dust with cocoa powder.
  2. In a medium saucepan over low heat (Use the 2 or 3 setting, not the low setting), warm coffee, Irish whiskey, 12 tablespoons butter and remaining cocoa powder, whisking occasionally, until butter is melted. Whisk in sugars until dissolved. Too hot and it will take forever to cool, but too cool and your sugar won’t dissolve. Remove the chocolate mixture from heat and cool completely.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla. Slowly whisk egg mixture into chocolate mixture. Add dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Fold in chocolate shavings.
  4. Bake for 50-55 minutes.
  5. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Notes:

  • I used chocolate chips like the original recipe said and they sank to the bottom and made an only slightly melted chocolate layer that pulled away from the cake (you can see it between the layers in the photo). The batter isn’t thick enough to keep chocolate chips from sinking, so that’s why I amended it to chocolate shavings. Shavings would have a better chance of melting into the batter while baking.
  • Some of the comment recommendations on the NYT suggested brandy over whiskey, because the flavors played better. I liked the whiskey and I thought the Jameson was great.
  • It isn’t a super sweet cake, and the dusting of powdered sugar is enough to give it a little extra. If I were looking to sweeten it up, I may play around with a whiskey & chocolate frosting.