Twilight, Travel, and Treats

Reflections of a Twihard on all things twilight, travel, and treats.

I have been a huge fan of Anna Kendrick's since New Moon's post theatre scene. It doesn't hurt that she's Oscar-nominated as well. She was on Dave Letterman this week promoting her new movie Pitch Perfect and performed what will always be known as "The Cup Song" to most people.

Here's her interview. The Cup Song starts around 6:17.

Right away I had to know how she did it - so cool! Some of you may be familiar with this cup thing. I guess it's been around for a couple decades but I think the singing part is new.

I think this is the original video from Lulu and the Lampshades


And this is the basic breakdown of how to do the cup trick

And here are the lyrics to the song from Lulu and the Lampshades' blog
I got my ticket for the long way round
Two bottles of whiskey for the way
And I sure would like some sweet company
I'm leaving tomorrow what d'ya say?

When I'm gone/when I'm gone
When I'm gone/ when I'm gone
You're gonna miss me when I'm gone
You're gonna miss me by my hair you're gonna miss me everywhere
You're gonna miss me when I'm gone

I got my ticket for the long way round
The one with the prettiest views
Its got mountains its got rivers
Its got sites'll (should be woods, whatever you like) give you shivers
But it sure would be prettier with you

chorus x2

third chorus is a bit different ..
You're gonna miss me by my walk you're gonna miss by my talk
And I know you will miss me when I'm gone.
Have fun!

I rarely get sappy on this blog and I almost never ask for donations unless it's a very worthy cause. Well something important has prompted this post.

As most of you know I'm a family doctor in Vancouver, B.C. One of the fellow doctors in my office told me last Christmas of her good friend Moses who was in the hospital fighting for his life after having caught a rare bacterial blood infection. Very random illness to a great guy who was a single father to a five year old boy and she was very heartbroken. I remember her whole family had a hard time over the holidays finding it difficult to celebrate when a friend was so sick. I had only met Moses a couple times at kids birthday parties but remember that he was the roommate to a med school friend and always a positive influence on everyone around him.

Well Moses pulled through with his life intact but he lost his feet and his hands. Yes both feet and both hands.

As I mentioned before, Moses is a single father of a five year old boy. He used to work as an insurance adjuster but Moses now has no means of income. He is out of hospital now and fighting to get his life back together.

Moses working hard at rehab with his prosthetic legs and hand hooks

Moses and his little boy at Granville Island

He and his friends are trying to raise $100,000 to buy him an electric arm. There will be a lot more costs along the way but at least they're working towards having him hold his son's hand again.

Here is the link to Moses' page


Please take a look and see if you'd like to contribute (there's a link at the bottom). There's no tax receipt as Moses's trust is not a true charity but I hope you'll consider helping him. It seems daunting to raise the funds but I'm thinking every penny counts!

Consider sharing this story if you can. If you have any concerns or questions about the validity of this story please do not hesitate to email me at twimobile(at)gmail(dot)com.

I'm at the end of a three week vacation and I'm happy to report I've used my time appropriately. Read a bunch of smutty books while vacationing over two Hawaiian islands and renewed my love of crocheting miniature food. And finally got around to learning how to make macarons.

For years now I've been aching to return to Laduree in Paris for a macaron. In the meantime we've considered taking a class to make macarons but instead of forking out the money for one I decided to venture it alone first.
"Why make macarons?" you may ask. My hubby swears that they taste only 10% better than cookies but are 100 times harder to make. For me the macaron is kind of like the Holy Grail of baking. It's fancy and elegant with simple ingredients and just takes the right technique. The last part is the elusive thing that I hoped to capture.

I used two different blogs for my research. Both are written by pastry chefs who have each made thousands of macarons. They contradict each other a bit so it took some fiddling with my own oven to figure out what worked.

First blog is PastryPal which is a great resource by pastry chef Irina Kogan. She wrote a Master the Macaron PDF which is a free step by step tutorial with full colour photos.

Amazing that she posts this for free. The reviews for it were good so I followed it to the letter and got pretty good results.

Next blog was BraveTart and this pastry chef Stella Parks has a lot of macaron info including a Mythbusters page to debunk macaron myths. She also has of course macaron recipes.

Stella is super friendly and will answer baking questions very promptly via twitter.

First attempt

I followed Pastrypal's Master the Macaron PDF .

My results:

Before oven - piped free hand

Out of oven - 180 deg for 17 minutes. Notice the wide feet

Please disregard the scary ones kissing at the bottom - they were a last ditch to use it all up - not a good idea.

Please disregard the scary ones kissing at the bottom - they were a bad last ditch to use it all up.

A good variety of sizes to help me decide what's best - that's a quarter for reference
Too lazy to make a buttercream today
After following pastrypal's tutorial exactly I was ecstatic that what came out of the oven looked like macarons! They tasted great and looked good but needed tweaking - alas my shells were hollow and the bottoms were sticking.

Mistakes? I was very grateful that Pastrypal's pdf even has a troubleshooting section. She had suggested baking at 280 degrees for 17 minutes to start. Her oven must be better insulated than mine. Bravetart is lovely and answered my tweet and suggested to up the temp.

Also I hand whipped the egg whites like Pastrypal did in the pdf but I'm obviously a whimp and not an experienced pastry chef because my meringue must not have been as stiff as hers were.

I also learned that Bob's Almond meal/flour has a lot of particles the size of coarse salt. So much of the bag was made of these I had to include them after sifting for almost an hour. The macarons were only mildly grainy on the outside though.

Regarding size I followed the pastry pal guide but think I prefer a slightly bigger macaron than her pictorial shows. I had a lot of trouble finding info online regarding the right size. Apparently Laduree Paris small macarons are 1.5 inches so I used that as my standard.

Second attempt

Made the following changes:
- ran almond flour through food processor pulsed a few times before adding to powdered sugar
- all parchment paper used - less risk of sticking than my old silpat and ability to draw 1.5 inch circles on the other side of parchment for piping guides
- insulated cookie sheet and regular baking sheet didn't seem to make much difference so used both
- per Bravetart's advice I whipped the egg whites until they were so stiff I could turn the bowl upside down and they stayed put
- turned oven up to 300 and watched them after 15 min - it took 19 minutes with a pan turn halfway since one half of my oven is hotter than the other.
- used a more flexible silicon spatula to make sure I didn't deflate the egg whites while folding them with the dry ingredients.
- between batches in the oven I cranked the temp to 320 for a few minutes to compensate for heat loss from opening the oven door
Things I did despite Bravetart's debunking them as necessary:
- I didn't age my egg whites in the fridge but did microwave for 10 seconds to dry them out a bit
- I left them to dry after piping until the skins formed - took min 45 minutes in our Vancouver sunny day

Well I got macarons that lifted off the sheet easily after a bit of cooling and were still chewy inside. Some were a bit "dome" like but not all so I may leave the shapes alone.

Glad this second batch was successful.

Things to change for the third batch
- sift icing sugar first as the Bob's Almond flour clogs up my sieve
- to smooth out the tops after piping for any macarons that have a bit of a peak after resting for 5 minutes as that peak will get baked and set

Next up is flavored macarons and also nut-free ones too since I actually have a minor almond allergy but can't help myself around fancy French desserts.

Thank you to my lovely talented friend DreamySim for the beautiful wallpaper for my desktop. I won this in an auction and sent over my favourite photos of Henry Cavill. They are from his 2009 Dunhill fragrance campaign. If you don't know who he is please see my previous Henry Cavill drool post and remember that he was in Immortals and will be the new Superman.

Click for the original size (1920 x 1200)

Which one do you like better?

I've added these to my master 50 Shades of Grey page - which is getting 1000 hits a day!

Last year I read A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and loved it. It is part of a trilogy and the second book, Shadow of Night, was just released this week. I couldn't put it down and now that I've finished it I feel bereft. Can't wait for the third book!

Plot - of the first book: The main characters are a historian named Diana and a biochemist named Matthew who both teach at Oxford. Diana is denial of her family destiny to be a witch and Matthew is a 1500 year old vampire who becomes interested in her. Their original story revolves around their interest in an ancient book that only Diana has been able to call up from the library but then Diana becomes threatened by the other creatures who are also interested in this book. Matthew becomes her protector and then they fall in love, breaking all the rules that forbid relationships between witches and vampires.
Lots of supernatural dangers and mysteries ensue. Quite enjoyable fantasy world that has made it difficult to return to reality while awaiting the third book.

I find it most amusing that there are official Facebook pages for both main characters Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont. Very cute to watch them sending messages between each other.

The books are being made into a movie and I have a hard time picturing who will play these characters.
Matthew is the classic vampire with hair dark as night and beautiful angular facial features. Diana is blonde and frankly I don't remember how they've described her otherwise :)

If you read them let me know what you think.

While making a card this weekend I was in the search for a good Cricut stencil font I realized there was no comprehensive list. So I made one :)

Here are all the ones I could find (please click on the cartridge name to go to the applicable Cricut site):
3 Birds On Parade
Alphalicious - Matchbook

Ashlyn's Alphabet - Standard
Calligraphy - Gratitude
Calligraphy - Matrimony
Creative Memories Cheerful Seasons - Cheerful Shapes
Creative Memories Divine Weddings - Font3
Creative Memories Reminisce Accents - Monogram

Creative Memories Storks Delivery - Monogram
Creative Memories Tis the Season - Monogram
Cricut Alphabet - Font 2

Cricut Everyday - Font 1
Cursive 101 - Notebook
Cursive 101 - Puzzle
Cursive 101 - Tile
Dinosaur Tracks - Letter
Disney Pooh Font Set - Honeypot
Don Juan - Marquee
Don Juan - Puzzle
Doodletype - Stencil
Jasmine - Italic
Jasmine - Standard
Kate's ABCs - BabyGirlFont1
Learning Curve - Puzzle
Learning Curve - Tile
Learning Curve - Traincar

Letter Envy - Font
Lovely Floral - Font
Makin' the Grade - Apples
Makin' the Grade - Awards
Makin' the Grade - Lockers
Makin' the Grade - Tiles
Martha Stewart All Occasions Cake Art - Banneret
Martha Stewart Birthday Cake Art - Medallion/Banner
Martha Stewart Elegant Cake Art - Flourish Frame
Martha Stewart Seasonal Cake Art - Postage
Mini Monogram - Standard
Nate's ABCs - Font1
Nifty Fifties - Font
Nursery Rhyme - Monogram
Old West - Rope
Once Upon A Princess - Monogram Banner
Opposites Attract - Standard
Opposites Attract - Upright
Opposites Attract - UprightRound
Plantin SchoolBook - Endcaps
Printing 101 - Instruction
Printing 101 - Notebook
Printing 101 - Puzzle
Printing 101 - Tile
Printing Press - Clip
Printing Press - Standard
Quarter Note - Font 2
Quarter Note - Font 3
Rock Princess - Skull font
Sanrio Hello Kitty Font - Flower
Simply Sweet - Blocked
Simply Sweet - Heart
Simply Sweet - Stitched
Simply Sweet - Tab
Songbird - Bird
Songbird - Birdhouse
Songbird - Flower

Songbird - Flowertop

Songbird - Standard
Tie the Knot - Monogram
Type Candy - Standard

Type Candy - Taffyscript

If you have anything to add please email me at twimobile (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks!