Friday, August 5, 2011

puddles and stars

About a month ago, when my newspaper suffered from layoffs, my German cousin Isabel shared a beautiful sentiment with me.

"Head high otherwise you can see the stars only in the puddle." 

I haven't been able to forget it since that day, and I've been thinking about it more often lately. Just thought I would share.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Twitter and lavender cupcakes

Twitter is an amazing thing.

Delaware has a great social media scene, something I learned soon after I started co-tweeting for @del_editor. Delaware Twitter legend, @LaurieBick, tweeted this and Rhina (my fellow @del_editor tweep) picked up on it:

My favorite cookbook, from the Hummingbird Bakery, has a recipe for lavender cupcakes. Since I'm new at this whole grown-up thing, I had no idea how to obtain fresh lavender, so I pushed aside the idea of someday baking lavender cupcakes.

But alas, Laurie Bick sent out that magical tweet and was kind enough to share her beautiful lavender with us. I jumped at the chance to try the new recipe. I came into work on Tuesday to see this perched by my keyboard (actually, I think I smelled it before I saw it).

Rhina delivered my beautiful bundle of lavender. Made my day.
Tuesday night, I soaked some of the lavender in milk in preparation for the cupcakes. My kitchen smelled amazing at this point.

And last night, I was able to finish the cupcakes.

I've decided I cannot wait to have my own house just so I can grow lavender in my garden.
I found the cookbook and the measuring spoons at Anthropologie.
And here's how they turned out! As always, I was nervous and mentally preparing myself to have a test cupcake for breakfast just to make sure they turned out all right.

I became excited all over again when I realized I treated myself to an icing gun a few weeks ago! Now was the perfect time to break it out. In typical Ashley style, something had to go wrong in my baking adventure. I didn't have any red food coloring left (used it all on the red velvet cupcakes I made a few months ago), so I had nothing to mix with the blue. Le sigh.

Look at that icing job! I was so pleased. (Minus the fact that it wasn't lavender colored, of course)

I decided to top one of them with a sprig of lavender just for kicks.
The cupcakes were brought to work today to be shared with a select audience (the co-workers who would continue to love me despite a potentially poor attempt at baking). Luckily, I had good reviews and no one minded the blue icing, the one fault of the cupcake. Phew. Success. I will be having lavender cupcakes again in my future.

And thank you, Twitter legend Laurie, for making my dream come true.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A little Longwood

Sometimes, I just need an afternoon for me. After a stressful (and unsuccessful) morning apartment hunting a couple Saturdays ago, I decided to just drive up to Longwood Gardens. Mama Dent and my mom bought me the yearlong garden pass so I'm free to visit whenever I like. I am loving it and I plan on getting it every year I live in Delaware (and probably even after that since it's worth the trek to Kennett Square, Pa.).

During my visit, and despite the humidity, I decided to explore new areas. When I visited the last couple of times, it was with some Ya-Yas. It was sad to go alone this time, but at the same token, it was good to see some spots I hadn't before so I know where to explore further when I have visitors again. Here are some of my favorite finds from the beginning of summertime at Longwood...

To quote Elizabeth, and Coldplay, "And it was all yellow."

The texture of the treetops against the sky reminded me of a Bob Ross painting. "Oh, that's good, that's nice, that's good, that's nice."

Straight out of Pride and Prejudice

A hidden little waterfall near the Italian water garden

Don't sting me as I try to get this shot!

So excited to finally see the lilies

One of my favorite inhabitants of the conservatory: Old Man Cactus

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My little plant family

At the end of March, mom bought me an orchid at Longwood's Orchid Extravaganza. It was a mystery orchid...we had no idea what color or pattern it would turn out to be! About a month later, my orchid began to bloom. It was beautiful. Sadly, I don't have the green thumb my mom does, so I sent my orchid to "Connie Camp" so it would continue thriving in her perfect sunlight. Here's what my little orchid looked like at its peak:

Once my orchid was at Connie Camp and my South African orange star plant (featured in this post) stopped blooming for the summer, I decided I needed some new pretty things to keep me company.

I went to Longwood for a Saturday afternoon and came away with two pretty plants.

First, I looked at this little Calandiva, which is so small it fits in my hand. I figured it couldn't be too hard for me to keep alive. =) I found a wee blue pot for its home.

As I wandered around the garden shop searching for the little pot, I decided my Calandiva needed a friend (because who wants to be lonely?). I kept coming back to this Wandering Jew (more info about this interesting little guy can be found here):

Its shiny leaves and vibrant purple drew me in and I decided that would be my Calandiva's friend. I walked back and forth literally 20 times trying to decide on a pot for my wanderer, and finally picked a mint green teacup. I felt it was very Ya-Ya appropriate.

I'm open to suggestions for names! I always like naming my little friends.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Let's get poppin'

I had a sudden urge to make jalapeno poppers the other night. I know, quite strange seeing as I don't like anything remotely hot and/or spicy, but I knew this wasn't going to kill me. I had my very first jalapeno popper at the Sweet 16 Beer Bracket with my co-workers. One of our designers and his wife made these incredible hors d'oeuvres for us and I asked for her recipe right away. Months after trying my first popper a.k.a. Wednesday, I decided I needed to make them myself.
Never did I ever imagine I would have to buy or cook with a jalapeno

I got so excited I forgot to take pictures of what happened in between, but here are the hollowed, cream cheese filled, bacon wrapped beauties before they hit the oven.
Note: I got to use the new broiler pan I bought myself as a present last paycheck. Yes, I buy myself presents each paycheck...they usually consist of goodies for my kitchen.

A little close-up view before baking commences

Sizzlin' success
I made so many, I brought a ton in to work on Thursday so my friends could help me eat. I must admit, I inhaled six of them after I took them out of the oven and before bed. What can I say?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I can make pie!

About two weeks ago, I successfully made my first key lime pie. You may or may not remember I attempted pecan pie months ago and gave myself a C+. And I also have to remind you (and myself) of my lemon cupcake fail back in November.

Well, let's just say my key lime came out stunningly better than I could have imagined. I don't give myself credit for much, but I am calling this a baking success.

It was my first time working with limes

I had to shave those little beasts clean!

Tossing the lime zest in with egg yolks and other ingredients. It was really fun getting to separate the yolks from the rest of the egg.

At this point, I was becoming just didn't look all that scrumptious.

Fresh out of the oven! I was feeling pretty nervous at this point since I still had no idea how it would taste.

Making my own whipped cream was SO much fun

The finished product!
I would say there will be many more key lime pies in my future.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

big day in the life

Yesterday was quite excellent. For a day that started out fairly average, it picked up.

First highlight: I felt like a real reporter today when I got to write my first story for The News Journal. Here's the story (it's a sad one, for sure):


Six horses were killed and three people suffered minor injuries in a barn fire early Tuesday near West Grove, Pa.

Firefighters from several companies were called about 12:30 a.m. to True Prospect Farm in the 200 block of Hood Road in West Marlborough Township.

Eleven horses were inside the barn, and fire officials said four of the surviving horses were sent to the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center for treatment.

After the fire broke out, three people who live nearby -- Lillian Heard, Caitlin Silliman and Ryan Wood -- helped horses escape, according to the United States Equestrian Federation. All three people were treated at Jennersville Hospital and released.

The horses, owned by Boyd Martin, were trained in eventing, which tests the animals and riders both on flat surfaces and over fences.

The horses killed were Call Me Ollie, Charla, Phantom Pursuit, Ariel, Cagney Herself and Summer Breeze, the equestrian federation said. The horses undergoing treatment are Neville Bardos, Otis Barbotiere, Catch a Star and Ambassador's Rose. The name of the 11th horse in the barn was not released.

The barn is rented by Martin from Phillip Dutton Eventing, the federation said.

A relief fund has been set up to help the farm, owners and riders affected by the fire. A link to donate can be found on Martins' blog at:


After work, Borg came into my life. Borg is handsome, shiny and about four feet tall. His job: Keeping me cool at nights. My bedroom is a sauna compared to the wonderfully chilly 68-degree downstairs, so I decided it was time to find a little relief. Thank goodness for Borg. And thank goodness for my Phillips head screw driver and my basic knowledge of IKEA-like instruction manuals. I was ready to take on the challenge.

The result:

Yes, I consider putting a fan together a great accomplishment. That was my glorious "Monday" of a Tuesday.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

old, new, borrowed, blue

A funny thing happened on the way to the cash register.

Is something wrong with a single gal wanting to buy wedding magazines? Well, when the cutest guy in Borders is waiting to check you out at the register, I think yes. Flashing my bare ring finger did me no good.

Just a bridesmaid, people. This is research!

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Oakey

I give everyone and everything nicknames, so it's only fitting that I named my Elon oak "Oakey." I received Oakey on May 22, 2010, the day of commencement, and after seeing some beautiful new leaves on his one-month birthday, I decided to keep track of Oakey's growth each month...with photos, too, of course! Every Elon student receives an acorn during freshman convocation and an oak sapling after graduation. It's one of Elon's most meaningful traditions. 
*Elon means oak in Hebrew.

2 days short of Oakey's 1st birthday
Oakey is growing from the bottom up this spring. I'll pick a spot to plant him soon after his birthday. 

7 months: December 25, 2010
Oakey sees his first more growth, though, since it's winter.

6 months: November 22, 2010
46.25 inches

5 months: October 22, 2010
46 inches
Oakey has his first autumn leaf this birthday

4 months: September 22, 2010
Oakey, now almost as tall as me, has sprouted an arm!

3 months: August 22, 2010
36 inches
Oakey was given a bigger home before his 3rd birthday because he's getting bigger than me!

2 months: July 22, 2010
33 inches

1 month: June 22, 2010 Happy Birthday Oakey!
26 inches

Birthday: May 22, 2010
19 inches

Friday, May 13, 2011

ingredients for a good week

This week, in short, was wonderful because of all the video adventures I got to go on.

Sunday was Point-to-Point at Winterthur. Not only have I always wanted to go to Winterthur, but as soon as I heard about the steeplechase tradition last summer, I knew I wanted to attend this year. The hills were covered with people dressed in pastels and fancy hats laying on their blankets and in lawn chairs. It was the first time I got to see a horse race, and I must say it was fabulous. The horses' names were most entertaining: South Monarch, Music to My Ears, Like a Bee, Flying Contraption and News Flash, just to name a few.

The horses and jockeys parade around in front of the crowded hills before beginning a race

About 12,000 people attended Point-to-Point this year

Video Daniel and I shot:

Wednesday, Justin Williams rappelled off a 17-story building in downtown Wilmington for Anything Once! His daring act was for a fundraiser for Special Olympics Delaware.

 Justin in front of the building before his leap

 A gorgeous view of Wilmington from the top

 I felt so legit for being just a camerawoman

 Another beautiful view

 Justin goes "Over the Edge"

A much scarier view...looking down from the edge

Here's the video:

After my Anything Once adventure, I went to Aqua Sol in Bear for Signature magazine's June/July cover photoshoot. It was a beautiful location. The video going behind-the-scenes of the cover shoot will run next month. I need to rappel off a building and dabble in fashion photography...that's what I took away from Wednesday afternoon.

View of the marina from the ramps at the restaurant

To end my week, I spent today in Bethany and Rehoboth for "Foodie TV" shoots at Matt's Fish Camp and Victoria's. The videos will launch with the new series on June 1. Bonus: I got to try the duck dish at Victoria's and it was supremely amazing.

The patio at Victoria's had a beautiful view of Rehoboth Beach. 
It was a perfect sunny day and there were huge waves.

And the final thing that made this week wonderful: Birthday flowers in bloom. You may have noticed by all the flower photos I post, but I love having fresh flowers in my apartment each week. My birthday bouquets have lasted for weeks and I couldn't be cheerier.

 Bouquet from Mikey's sweet girlfriend Lauren. The flowers were from her dad's garden. 

Bouquet from Mom and Dad

OK, so I didn't have any cupcakes this week, but just thinking about my favorite cupcakes from SAS in downtown Newark made me happy. These are the treats I got for my birthday a couple weeks ago. Flavors: Chocolate, red velvet, oreo, and chocolate with raspberry icing.