Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Wedding in Santa Fe

First: another dear friend graduated! Congratulations to Dr. Luc! He and Meg left Princeton today for good and started their road trip to California. Best of luck to them! I'll miss them!

Congrats, Dr. Luc!

July 24-26, 2011

This summer, I visited Santa Fe, NM, for the wedding of my lovely friends, Laura and Adam.

I left hot, sticky, gross NJ and arrived in hot, dry, fabulous NM with about an hour and a half to spare before the first wedding event. The hour-long drive from Albuquerque to Santa Fe was gorgeous. The open space of the southwest was refreshing.

After a quick change and attempt to fix travel-hair, I walked a short five minutes to the art gallery for the dinner and jazz reception. Weddings are typically fantastic reunions: several former classmates were there! We thoroughly enjoyed the food, music, and art.
Me, Nate, Monica at the reception the night before the wedding
Fun art at jazz dinner and reception.

This statue startled pretty much everyone with his eerily realistic face:
Nate and a very realistic statue.

Saturday morning, I woke up bright and early to run. My goal was to run 6.5 miles along this route:

View Larger Map

After huffing, puffing, and almost fainting through a very slow mile, I remembered that Santa Fe is over 7000ft above sea level. This sea level girl decided that a walk would be just fine. Plus, it allowed me to stop and take tons of photos.

I saw lots of artwork:
Love the artwork

Pretty neighborhoods:
Desert neighborhoods

And desert:

I was incredibly thirsty and out of water by the time I got back to downtown, so my sweaty self bought an Odwalla green juice and bananas in a grocery store next to my hotel. Best idea ever. Then I swam in the pool for a few laps. Second best idea ever.

Laura and Adam did a wonderful job of choosing the hotel, chapel, and gallery all within a few minutes' walk of each other and downtown Santa Fe. For lunch, I found a cute cafe near the main square serving green chile nachos. (Okay, based on empirical evidence, every restaurant in New Mexico serves green chiles.)

Soon it was time to get fancied up for the afternoon wedding ceremony at the Loretto Chapel!
Famous Loretto Chapel: site of ceremony
More Loretto

This beautiful Southwestern chapel is famous for its "miraculous" staircase, which was supposedly built by a strange man who disappeared without asking for pay once it was finished, and is apparently a marvel of engineering.
The Miraculous Staircase

We eagerly anticipated the arrival of the bride.
Getting ready!

Soon, the ceremony began!
Bridesmaid and Groomsman

And beautiful Laura walked down the aisle, escorted by her parents:
Bride and her parents!

(I didn't realize how poorly my camera settings reacted to the lighting until too late.)

They said their vows:

And got MARRIED!
They did it!

Princeton classmates rejoiced:
Princeton contingent!

The reception was held at the Hacienda Dona Andrea, a lovely 45-minute drive out into the desert. They provided buses for the guests, from which we saw the big Albuquerque fires:
Fires near Albuquerque

What a perfect reception location! It was gorgeous!
Amazing views
Down to the bar
Pretty tables

Dinner was delicious, toasts were lovely, dancing was fabulous, and the night pretty much perfect.

First dance in the setting sun!

The next morning, we enjoyed a brunch reception at the wedding hotel and said goodbye to the gorgeous Southwest!

Princeton friends!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Childhood Friends

Way back in June, I took a road trip all the way down to North Carolina. A couple of friends bummed a ride as far as DC, and then it was just me, my latte, and the open road.

Drivin' down 95.

After about eight hours, I arrived at the house of my dear, life-long friend Laura. Our parents were friends before I was born, so she seriously has known me my entire life. So many memories of my childhood involve her and her family. We played American Girl dolls, Barbies, and dress-up. We ran around the fort in my front yard and climbed up the scary muddy hill in hers. We giggled about boys and planned our weddings. We were homeschooled buddies, and then community-college-in-high-school classmates. She now has three beautiful children!

Though in June, she only had two: Hannah and Luke.
Luke and Hannah!!

They called me Miss Jessica and were DARLING. Extremely energetic, engaging, and exhausting. Eight-months pregnant Laura, the kids, and I played several games of Dora the Explorer Candy Land and Thomas the Train Memory Match (I had NO idea there were so many different train characters). We dressed up Hannah's American Girl dolls (one of which was Laura's Samantha when we were little!) and took them on walks to the park.

Jess and Laura (and wee Mary Anna)

We played Legos:
We played Legos.

Do you see that canal Luke and I were making with the blue Legos? It took a lot of blue Legos.

On our way out to lunch one day, we locked ourselves out of the house. This would not have been a huge deal, as she lives on a military base (her husband is deployed this year) and security said they'd come by in 20-30 minutes, except that it was over 90 degrees, and she was eight months pregnant. Thankfully, we had water bottles with us, and the pool on the deck was full and refreshing, for at least Hannah:
We swam in the pool

Everyone kept cool and hydrated. We were off to lunch in no time! (After someone changed into dry clothes.)

This place had fantastic shakes and shrimp po-boys:

I had a terrific time catching up with Laura and getting to know her incredibly fast-growing children better. Are we seriously old enough to have seven-year-old kids?? Apparently!! It's sweet to reflect and realize that we've grown up. Our lives are dramatically different, but we're still good friends. :) I hope I get to meet her grandchildren someday!

In late July, Laura had that third baby! I shamelessly stole a picture of adorable Mary Anna from Facebook:
Mary Anna

I can't wait to meet HER someday, too!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Backen auf Deutsch, Part XI: #57 Mokka-Cupcakes

While I have momentum and a month-long fast from Netflix, LET US BLOG MORE. Let us do.

...why the fast? Let's just say that after watching all of Star Trek (TOS) in under three months, I need a break.

So, for July birthdays at lab, I baked two batches of cupcakes. One batch was the Schoko-Kirsch-Cupcakes mit Buttercreme cupcake from Cupcakes & Muffins, another German cookbook of mine. All I remember of the baking experience is a huge bowl of pudding with butter chunks that would NOT turn into frosting. Butterpuddingsoup died a painful death in the dumpster. I drove to Superfresh in workout clothes at 7am to buy three tubs of cream cheese frosting (don't judge, Checkout Lady). Problem solved.

They appeared a couple of posts ago, but for completeness, here they are in all their store-bought icing goodness:

Schoko-Kirsch-Cupcakes mit Buttercreme

My second batch was from 1 Tieg, 100 Kuchen.

#57 Mokka-Cupcakes
I'm leaving this translation as an exercise for the reader.

#57 Mokka-Cupcakes

These lovely cupcakes have instant coffee in the batter. Thus, if you visited me right this moment, I'd feed you pumpkin spice cookies and your choice of espresso, French press, or instant coffee. I'm prepared.

Don't come over now. I'm about to go to sleep.

100 grams of brown sugar and more instant coffee, besides the usual 300 grams of powdered sugar, 2 Tbsps milk, and 60 grams of butter, make this quite the decadent frosting. It's incredibly sweet. Lick the spoon at your teeth's risk.

The intended garnish is a chocolate-covered espresso bean, but I used 70% dark chocolate I had lying around.

These were another success! As with most of the Backen auf Deutsch recipes, the cake is a bit more dry than I like, so I'd try more milk or butter next time, maybe? Tips, anyone?

With the frosting, however, the cupcake was delicious.


Changes made:
~Only in the garnish
Next time would:
~Try to make the batter more moist.
Perfect for:
~Caffeine AND sugar rush!!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Backen auf Deutsch, Part X: #46 Schmetterling-Cupcakes

It's been ages since I've baked out of my German cookbook! I tried two recipes over the summer, and will now catch up.

We have to go all the way back to the 4th of July! Friends hosted an Independence Day bash on a beautiful sunny afternoon. We BBQed ribs, we made our own Slip'n'Slide, we drank patriotic drinks (red-white-and-blue Rocket pops in vodka, anyone?), and we ate dessert. Lots of dessert.

My contribution was a batch of cupcakes. Specifically, basic, delicious, vanilla cupcakes.

#46 Schmetterling Cupcakes
Cupcakes=Cupcakes, helloooo.

They supposed to look like this:

#46: 4th of July

See! Butterflies!

Coincidentally, I first learned the beautiful, delicate word "Schmetterling" on another 4th of July, way back in 2008. On the last day of the Lindau conference, everyone (including Erica!) took a two-hour ferry ride across the Bodensee from the island of Lindau to the island of Mainau.


Mainau is owned by the family of the late Count Bernadotte, which also hosts the Lindau meetings.

The Countess (his daughter) was a delightful hostess the entire meeting, and gracious enough to pose for many pictures:
Countess Bettina!!

Mainau has beautiful flowers...
Flower map of the Bodensee!

...statues and fountains...

...a castle...
Schloss Bernadotte

...and a butterfly house!
Flutterby House!

Hello, little German butterfly:

Back to cupcakes.

The recipe was straightforward, with no strange or new ingredients.

Now, butterflies are great, but they aren't classically patriotic. I made small decorating adjustments involving marzipan and food coloring.


4th of July cupcakes!


Changes made:
~Only obvious superficial ones
Next time would:
~Possibly make wee Schmetterlings?
Perfect for:
~your basic vanilla cupcake! Try it with crazy frosting flavors! Any flavor!

A reminder to any new readers: I'll gladly email you an English translation of the recipe if you want to try any of my attempts to date.

This was recipe 10/100! 9/10ths of the way to go, folks!