Welcome to Adulthood

Adulthood is Exciting

This week has been an exciting one! First, I was asked by the lovely and talented Sara over at Sweet Land of Chaos to guest blog for her and I just finished up my piece on “The Budget Bridesmaid” this morning. I will let you know when that goes up!

I was also asked by my bff Nicole over at The Fickle Nickle to do a guest cupcake blog in honor of the Fourth of July. I better get workin’ on that! I am thinking blue velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting topped with a raspberry. A subtle yet delicious red, white, and blue treat. Stay tuned for that and make sure to enter Nicole’s super awesome giveaway from Anne Taintor (yes, the calendar lady actually emailed Nicole directly!) Also, Brenda over at www.peekatmypaper.com has an AWESOME giveaway of bakeware from Le Creuset!! It ends on 7/2 so enter before it’s too late!

Third, and maybe the most exciting, is that my love and adoration of cupcakes allowed me to touch base with the wonderful Lyndsay over at Sweet Cuppin’ Cakes Bakery and Cupcake Supplies. As you all know I’m fanatical about cupcakes and cupcake paraphanalia, and Lyns has got a TON of stuff over there. I am talking like hard-to-find-super-cute-spice-up-your-cupcake/party/holiday-supplies kind of stuff.

So the big news is: right here on Welcome to Adulthood one lucky winner will receive a cupcake windfall prize pack courtesy of Sweet Cuppin’ Cakes Bakery and Cupcake Supplies.

Stay tuned for more details in the next few weeks!

Finally, in personal news, I adopted two rescue kittens this weekend on a whim. More on them to come, but for now, just look at how adorable they are. We named them Mungojerrie and Memory. They are brother and sister, 8 weeks old.



Lavender Heart Scones with a Lemon-Vanilla Glaze

Well, I am off for a mini-vacation with the bf and my family. Until then, here is a great and super easy recipe for you to try out over the weekend.

‘Tis the season for lavender! You can find culinary lavender at your local farmer’s market (I bought about 5 tablespoons for $2.00) or at Whole Foods or another specialty grocery store.

These scones are moist and fragrant but with nuanced lavender taste so even my boyfriend (who often thinks my lavender concoctions “taste like soap”) loved these.

Did I mention they are easy? Trust me when I say they are the easiest scones you will ever make. Also, you can make them ahead and then freeze them. I like to whip them out (thaw first) whenever company comes over. The “oohs” and “aahs” I get when I bust out a plate of these little lovelies is priceless.

Oh, and if you don’t have heart shaped cookie-cutters you can use any shape. Or, just make it into a little lump. Hearts, lumps — it will be delicious no matter how you shape it!


Happy baking!

Lavender Heart Scones with a Lemon-Vanilla Glaze

Ingredients
3 1/2 c flour
2 tbs baking powder
1/2 c unsalted butter
1/2 c sugar
1 1/3 c half and half
2 tsp vanilla
1 tbs lemon zest
2 tbs food grade lavender buds

Directions
Mix the dry ingredients (including zest), except lavender, together. Cut in cold butter, or grate it (yes, with a cheese grater!) into the dry ingredients. Add lavender buds and stir to mix in evenly. Add vanilla and half and half, and mix until you have soft dough that holds together.

Roll out gently to about 3/4 inch thickness and cut out with a small heart shaped cookie-cutter. Place on baking sheet and allow to stand for 20 minutes (this helps the dough rest).

During this time preheat oven to 400F. Bake for 12 minutes or until done. Remove from oven.

While scones are still hot spoon on a glaze made from:
1/2 c melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
Juice from about half of a lemon, to taste
Enough confectioners sugar to make a thick glaze. Play with this. Add some sugar until it looks glaze-ish. If it doesn’t taste right, add some more!
Sprinkle scones with lavender buds to garnish.
Makes about 24.

Wordless Wednesday: Lobster Lessons

"Say Something Interesting About Something Interesting"

One evening, a professor in my graduate program was giving a lecture about our graduate program.

(Note: I am pursuing my M.A. in Rhetoric and Writing Studies with an emphasis in Technical and Professional Communication at San Diego State University. One more semester to go! Woo hoo! Note #2: Obama is not my professor. ::sigh::)

So this professor said to the class (in a thick Polish accent), “Through the years my friends have often asked me, ‘What is this rhetoric? What exactly do you do as a rhetorician?‘ What I tell them is the same thing I tell my students: we say something interesting about something interesting.”

While I don’t plan on being a rhetorician by trade, what I took away from that lecture helps inspire me, but also challenges me, when it comes to this blog.

Here at Adulthood my goal is for us all to think about things that affect us, stir us, motivate us, enliven us. I try to examine topics that are meaningful — to say something interesting about something interesting.

And while my posts are long[*], I promise I will continue challenging myself to bring you stimulating content and food for thought[**].

And did I mention how much I value your comments and emails? That really keeps this blog alive–in a kind of collective-blogging-brain sense. And that’s what keeps it interesting. So thank you for your thoughtful words and to all those silent readers, thank you too for your vigilant companionship to the little-blog-that-could.

I felt really depressed after my kitty died, so much so that I didn’t even have the energy to write in my blog for a while. But your comments and emails trickled in: vignettes about your beloved pets, and words of strength and kindness during a time of loss and transition. I realized what a special little community is growing here.

This weekend I went to Sonoma for a bachelorette party of one my best friends. One of the girls at the party asked me, “Mara, what is your blog about?” I thought about it for a bit before replying, “I try to say something interesting about something interesting (adulthood).” No more. No less. “Hmmm,” the girl replied, “Sounds pretty cool.” I smiled.

Yeah, it is pretty cool.

[*]At Bloggy Bootcamp a speaker once said don’t write more than 250 words! Yeesh! How can you say something interesting about something interesting with such limited word count?

[**]And sometimes, not just ‘food for thought’, but just food. As in recipes. Because I love to eat. And because, as I have said before, one of the perks of being an adult is being able to use sharp knives and hot ovens and stoves without supervision. And while I have a few battle injuries (4 burns on my arms from reaching into the oven without long enough mitts), the fruits of our efforts are just delicious.

Wordless Wednesday – In Memoriam

This Not-So-Wordless Wednesday is in memoriam of Bluesy, my pint-sized blue-eyed Siamese kitty with a big meow and lots of unconditional love. She would wake me up every morning meowing for me and then spend 20 minutes snuggling. This week she died suddenly and tragically and far too soon. She was a very sweet friend to me for many years and I miss her so much.

Sometimes, adulthood is about tough decisions. In the span of one hour I found my cat paralyzed on my bathroom floor, took her to the emergency vet, and then my bf and I had to make the very tough decision to end her life. She had undetected heart disease (it shows no symptoms sometimes) and had a blood clot in her aorta which paralyzed her. She was also in great pain. We wished we had more time with her, but it was the best choice for her. She died in my bf’s arms with me patting her head and whispering to her in a secret language that can only be known to a girl and her dearest kitty friend.

The First Annual Adulthood Blogging Awards

There is a lot going on for Adulthood these days. Firstly, we have more readers than ever before – and all of your thoughtful comments, emails, tweets, and good vibes keep the dialogue continuing and the laughs coming! So, thank you!!

While just a few blog entries ago I wrote about the challenge of balance in adulthood, today I celebrate just how fun adulthood is too. What makes this blog fun for me is hearing from all of you. So, before I continue, I would like to say keep thinking about things, and if you have a contribution you would like to make to our discussion regarding adulthood – write it down and send it to me in an email at mara@welcometoadulthood.com.

Now, on to more fun stuff: somewhere in this big blogosphere I have connected with some really special people. They are like-minded bloggers with lots of interesting and funny things to say. They support me when I feel like I am juggling dogs, and they encourage me with tweets, comments, advice, and general awesomeness. They have bestowed upon me a virtual award and have spoken such kind words about Adulthood on their blogs. This award means a lot coming from seasoned bloggers with such awesome content and a great niche. So thank you to Nicole at http://www.theficklenickle.com/, Tricia and Siana at http://2girlsonabench.com/, and Rachel at http://www.rachelintheoc.com/. Check out their blogs too and become a follower. Oh yeah, and tell them Mara sent ya’…

Now down to business. Here are the rules that go with the award:
•Thank the person who gave you this award. (Check!)
•Share 7 things about yourself.
•Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic!

Here it goes.

Seven things about myself:

(Okay, so I took a non-traditional approach…)

Mara the thinker. Mara the bright. Mara the lover of cats, chocolate, art, and sunshine. Mara is always learning. Mara dreams big. Mara laughs loudly. Mara gives strong hugs.

Fifteen Outstanding Blogger Awards (in no particular order) go to ::drum roll::

(Okay, so I didn’t do 15, but this is a more targeted approach. Now you can check out these select few. They have great blogs, and many of them are just getting started so now more than ever we need to support them! So, do me a favor, next time you are taking a break from work or are having a lazy morning with a cup of coffee, check out these blogs. No one likes just lists, so I have given you some context about each blog’s most recent entry.)

Decadencefactor – Yum! Rhubarb Tart!
Sweetlandofchaos – Her Wordless Wednesday photo was her childhood home burnt down this past weekend. 🙁
Datingafter40 – On her “pre-celebrity status.” She is one comical blogger!
Supersavingsense – Sizzling summer deals in AZ and beyond
Peekatmypaper – What do a blossoming artichoke, a Laker game, and a Chinese grocery store have in common? Find out.
Coffeenerdedlawyer – She answers questions about law (and sometimes Jon Gosselin). And she is super smart. Score.
Vicariouschelsea – cute, cute kids and give-aways galore!
Highschoolpoetryslam – One of her funniest entries yet, where she continues to deconstruct the poetry and writings of her high school self. Yes, I am talking about her high school diary.
Jackmcclane – A critical review of the Lost finale. And he lives in Australia. And he is a great writer.

Congrats fellow Bloggers!! You deserve it!

Wordless Wednesday

Cinnamon+apples+homemade bread+icing/brown sugar/spices= MMMMMM.
See post below.

Guest Blog – Making a Meal: Adulthood Never Tasted So Good

Guest blogger, Danna Belski, sent me this lip-smacking, deliciously easy recipe for a meal that will make you so happy. It is simple, savory, sweet, hot, soft, crunchy, all-together! I know, because I made it last night! (So, tonight I had another delicious meal to come home to!)

Also, I learned two things: 1) Silken tofu is the perfect substitute for cream or dairy in “creamy” soups and sauces. 2) Vegan cinnamon roles are now my FAVORITE kind of cinnamon role. In fact, this was a completely vegan meal, straight down to the homemade dinner bread. Hats off to Chef Danna! Happy cooking!

***

Making a Meal: Adulthood Never Tasted So Good

by Danna Belski

The thing I love most about being all grown up is that I get to have my own kitchen.

Everything in it is mine, from the red Le Creuset dutch oven, to the matching kitchen towels draped over the chairs. And, all the food is mine too – the piles of fresh veggies arranged on the counter, the fruit neatly stacked in the decorative bowl, and if I want two kinds of ice cream in my freezer at all times then that’s what I get.

Being responsible for feeding yourself isn’t always glamorous. Sometimes I must eat scraps of cheese and stale bread – but that isn’t what this post is about. This is about making a meal. A delicious, healthy, compliment-inducing meal.

I love cooking, and I love it even more when I get out a recipe and then don’t follow it. I love to be unconventional and break rules. “Creamy soups must be made with real cream” – Ha! “Vegan desserts taste weird” –Never! “Bread is hard to make without a bread machine” – Not in my kitchen!

So here is my recipe* for a great Sunday meal. Invite friends over or make it all for yourself and have great lunches all week.
*This is merely a suggestion for how to prepare things. Follow it as you will.

Tomato-Basil Bisque

Ingredients:
Olive oil
6 celery ribs
1 onion (I prefer yellow), chopped
1 red pepper, chopped (or roasted for extra flavor)
Three (3) 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 T. tomato paste
Fresh basil, 1 cup, loosely chopped
3 t. sugar
Dash of salt and pepper
1 pkg. silken tofu

Directions:
• You will need a pretty good sized soup pot. Heat about 2 T. oil and sauté the celery, onion, and pepper until soft. Add the tomatoes and paste, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 40 minutes.

• Remove the pot from the heat. Add the basil, along with 3 t. sugar, some salt and pepper.

• Bring out the blender. You’ll want the soup to cool a bit before attempting to blend it. You likely have to blend a little at a time, so you will need another bow to transfer the blended bisque to. Add a bit of tofu with each blend. This will give your soup a very creamy texture without the heavy diary and fat (and if you don’t tell people they will never know the difference! ) Blend the soup as much or little as you like.

• Also, feel free to experiment with spices. If I’m in the mood for something spicy I add cayenne pepper.

• Return the finished product to the heat to prepare it for serving.

Dinner Bread and Dessert Dough All-in-one!

Put these things in a food processor (using the dough blade):
4 C. Flour (I don’t recommend all whole wheat flour since half of this recipe is
dessert.)
1 t. salt
1 T. sugar
1 pkg. rapid rise yeast
3 T. cold “butter” (I use Earth Balance, a non-hydrogenated oil blend)
2 C. hot water (not boiling)

Give these a spin in the processor (using the dough blade). While mixing, add butter. Process just enough so that ingredients are evenly distributed. Get the water ready, start the processor, and slowly add the water until a ball starts to form. Don’t feel like you have to use all 2 cups, it may take more, it may take less. Once you have a ball, let it process for about 20 seconds. (Count slowly: one Mississippi, two Mississippi.)

Put the dough in a bowl, cover it with a damp, warm paper towel, and sit it in a warm place to rise (but not too hot – so if the over is on do not place the bowl on the oven) for about 30 minutes.

For the Dinner Bread

After the first rise, take half the dough and, on a floured surface, work it into a shape (baguette-like, or get fancy and braid it). Place it on a lightly greased baking sheet and cover again with a damp paper towel to let sit for another 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. After second rise, bake for 8-15 minutes. Really, it depends on the thickness of your loaf. I test for doneness by tapping on the loaf and if it sounds hollow-y it’s probably done. Enjoy while warm!

For the Dessert

Prepare crumb mixture by combining the following ingredients:
2/3 C. flour
1/4 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. white sugar
4 T. melted butter (again, Earth Balance)
Add cinnamon, maybe all-spice, nutmeg, whatever, to taste.
(These are approximations – play around until it looks crumbly.)

Take the second half of your bread dough and roll it out into a rectangle. Spread the crumb topping on the dough. Roll it up into a log.

These are best baked in a spring form of drop bottom cake pan. To get them there, slice up the log and arrange in the cake pan. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until done.

These are best served hot with sautéed apples (sauté sliced apples in butter and cinnamon until soft) and sweet icing (mix sifted confectioners’ sugar with milk, I use rice milk) drizzled over top.

Coming Up: Making a Meal and Other Lessons on Growing Up

Guest Blogger, Danna Belski[*], has sent in a post that is as delicious as it is meaningful. She talks about what making a meal means to her in adulthood AND she gives us an easy recipe for one of her favorite meals — which is complete, right down to the Apple Cinnamon Role dessert. (YUM!)

Stay tuned!

[*] Danna is no stranger to Adulthood. In fact, you have seen her in the process of getting her back tattooed in all its morning-glory-pain-and-beauty in the entry found here. Ahh, that was a good one!

The Key to Balancing is Never Looking Down

Balancing priorities in life has to be one of the biggest challenges of adulthood for me.

For example, I want to blog every minute of every day, I want to breathe blogging, and sing blogging, and listen and learn from blogging. And yet, I have to make choices. I go to work to pay the bills (luckily I like my job too), I attend graduate school, I have homework for said graduate school, I have a bf, and friends, and two cats, and a blog. Blogging always gets pushed to the end of the list. It’s the tough choice that I have to make, and let me tell you, it is a choice based on survival and not on preference:

Must.work.to.pay.bills.Must.go.to.class.Must.Sleep.

But that is part of being an adult I guess — putting aside dreams for pragmatism. Realizing that responsibilities trump pastimes.

Lately, I am balancing not only my responsibilities, but also my checkbook. One of my best friends is getting married in July and her wedding involves travel and is going to be very expensive for me. And I love her and adore her, but sometimes I don’t think she realizes how hard it is to balance. How I have to choose between eating, paying rent, or putting aside money for her wedding and events. Must.eat.Must.pay.rent.

Being an adult also means you can’t please everyone. You just have to do your best and hope your blog-friends and your soon-to-be-married friends like you enough to understand.

How does everyone else cope with balancing life? Do you have any advice to offer those of us who struggle every day? How do you approach your friends who may not understand your balancing act? How do you find time for doing the things you enjoy? Discuss.

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