TILLAMOOK

My husband is a complete turophile.

So, naturally, when we traveled up to Northern Oregon for Thanksgiving…a trip to the Tillamook cheese factory was in order.

I’ve been here a number of times throughout my life, and it’s always a delightful experience! The self-guided tour is awesome, it’s fun to watch the cheese being made and processed, they give you free cheese samples, and the gift shop is chock-full of every kind of Tillamook cheese ever made (including “squeaky cheese”!) and lots of entertaining cheese-themed silliness. But the best part???? THE ICE CREAM COUNTER. It’s the only place in the world where you will find every single flavor of Tillamook creamery ice cream under the same roof (did you know they make sorbet?!), available for you to devour in freshly-made waffle cones!!! oh. so. good.

Needless to say, I’m a little bit in love with the place. Pretty sure the hubs’ fell in love too.

Here are a couple random photos I remembered to take:

Brother the [blur of a] cow + cousin the farmer

Hubs the cow + Tiptoeing cousin the farmer

Sister the cow + Myself as the crankypants farmer

Crazy kids waiting for lunch! Which is delicious, btw. I LOVED the Centennial Grilled Cheese.

Favorite piece of cheese paraphernalia found on the tour

We grabbed a block of smoked cheddar and vintage extra-sharp cheddar to enjoy at home. SO GOOD. Highly recommended!

And my tiny little cookbook addiction problem led me to purchase the Tillamook Cheese Cookbook as well…but I mean, who wouldn’t want a cookbook where every single recipe is doused in cheesy goodness?! Plus, they have an entire chapter dedicated to Macaroni and Cheese. I think that speaks for itself right there.

Basically, if you’re ever in Oregon, go to Tillamook. If you fancy a beautiful drive, take the scenic route along highway 101 – coming up through Newport and Lincoln City is my absolute favorite 🙂

 

 

And if you’ve never been to Oregon….get there. You’re missing out.

love, Rach

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Spit-spot!

Me + Halloween + copious amounts of hot glue + about an hour of hard labor =

“Close your mouth, Michael, we are not a codfish! Spit-spot!”

Voila! Instant Mary Poppins! Practically perfect in every way 🙂

(except not really):

About two hours before the Halloween party I was supposed to be at, and after days upon days of brainstorming…I realized that all I had to do to complete this look was make a ‘dickie’ collar for a white tuxedo-style shirt I already had. So I got out my trusty glue gun and bits of fluff that I had lying around and temporarily modified my blouse! Yes…I was glued into the shirt for the night. But don’t worry – I got out! And the hot glue came off (I think)! And it was only SLIGHTLY off-center! Perfect? Not by any means. Good enough for me? YUP!

I paired the blouse with the skirt shown in this post (high-waisted style), low-heeled boots, and carried around a lovely umbrella! Err’body got it. It was so much fun!!

And no, I don’t have any pictures of the full getup myself….partially because my hubster was out of town that night (thus thwarting our original Kronk+Yzma costume plan…silly work trips!), partially because my bathroom mirror is currently the reigning champ of being-the-only-mirror-in-the-entire-house-excluding-hand-mirrors…

…and partially because I look about five months pregnant right now.

…..literally.

So yeah, I was a pregnant Mary Poppins, and maybe it was a little weird, and maybe I felt a little huge (mostly thanks to the multiple “WOW you don’t look pregnant at ALL!” comments that I’ve been getting…), but overall I think Halloween was a success this year : )

And oh yeah, I really am having a baby girl! She’s due at the end of February, and the hubs and I are SO excited! : )


I promise these photos are much more legitimate than this one from my sister’s 6th birthday party.

— Love, Rach

PS – I’ve tried to spread the news to everyone personally, but seeing as I’ve got a pretty bad case of the pregnant brain (IT’S REAL. NOT A MYTH.), I’ve probably forgotten a few of you that I love very dearly. If that is the case…I’m sorry! I just don’t feel like having random peeps all up in my business, so I’ve kept it off the social networking radar for the most part : )

The Pie-Maker

**EDIT 10-16-12: after receiving a phone call from a dear friend while she was actually making this recipe, I realized I forgot to mention a couple semi-important things when typing it out the first time! So please take a moment to re-read before making your own. If you have any more questions, PLEASE let me know [if you’ve got my numba don’t hesitate to call, haha] and I’d also love to hear how yours turns out!**

It’s never been a secret that I absolutely adore pie.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were my favorite holidays growing up. My Mom would make a ridiculous amount of the most delicious pies ever during these seasons. We got to eat them for dessert AND for breakfast…..cold pie for breakfast is probably one of my very favorite things.

As luck would have it, the hubs loves pie just as much as I do! I discovered this when we were dating. His birthday was coming up, and I asked him what he wanted to do to celebrate….his picture of a perfect day involved baking pies with me and devouring them while watching college football. D’AWWW ; )

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to fulfill that dream on his birthday weekend, for reasons I can’t remember. BUT. I sneakily baked him a strawberry-rhubarb pie (his favorite) (after going to a billion grocery stores to find some dang rhubarb) and made a special delivery on his birthday….he loved it. And ate it for every single meal for three days straight [it was a biiiig pie. and, well, that’s how bachelors’ eat. haha]

Thus began my journey into pie-maker-dom.

Since then I have been finding every excuse to bake a pie, test a new crust recipe, find intriguing filling combinations, etc. etc. etc….and I thought I would share a piece of my most recent success with you! [not literally though….I wish I could!]

Feast your eyes on the rustic blueberry pie I made last weekend! Served with fresh, home whipped chantilly cream of course. mmmmm…

The main success here was perfecting my most favorite pie crust. The original recipe is from renowned pastry chef Emily Luchetti, published in her cookbook  A Passion for Desserts. Why is it my favorite?? Because the crust alone is deeee-licious. It has just a touch of vanilla bean and sugar – thus transforming the ENTIRE piece of pie an amazing piece of deliciousness. None of those tasteless hunks of flavorless, empty carbs hanging off the ends, as you sometimes get with storebought pies/crusts. It’s also made entirely with butter – no lard or shortening or any of that nonsense 🙂

The original recipe is quite fantastic, but I have tweaked it just a bit to give it a touch more flakiness [my personal preference]. Every time I’ve tried my hand at Ms Luchetti’s recipe, it just wasn’t as flaky as I hoped. So here’s the recipe, with my little adjustments! If you’d like the original, hit me up.

BASIC PIE DOUGH

adapted from Emily Luchetti

yeild: top and bottom crust for one 9″ pie

(for a single crust pie, divide the recipe or save half the dough for later)

ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

2 tablespoons sugar

pinch of salt

8 ounces (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter

1/2 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or 1/2 vanilla bean)*

3-4 tablespoons ice-cold water

2 tablespoons white vinegar

to make the dough by hand**: Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and butter.

*now here comes the vanilla. You can use a traditional vanilla bean, but I opt for this lovely stuff right here:

I didn’t use my stand mixer at all for this pie – this photo is from my chocolate cheesecake experiment (recipe coming soon!)

Neilsen-Massey’s Pure Vanilla Bean Paste. It’s a mixture of vanilla extract and vanilla beans – you get the benefits of vanilla bean (no additional water content, flavor, and those lovely speckles!) without having to buy vanilla beans. Use it anywhere you would use vanilla bean or vanilla extract! 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste = 1 vanilla bean. However, if you do go with a vanilla bean, I will include those directions for you as well. And of course, if you only have vanilla extract, use that! You might want to use 1/2 tablespoon less water to offset the liquid content (see tip at the end)*

mixing by hand, continued: Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and add them to the flour mixture; reserve the bean for another use (or add 1/2 tablespoon vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract to the flour mixture). Using two knives or a pastry blender (or your hands), mix together until the butter is pea sized. Pour the ice-cold water and vinegar into the flour and mix just until the dough comes together.

**you can also make the dough in a food processor or stand mixer, I just prefer the old-fashioned way so those are the directions I’m including!*

prebaking the piecrust: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut a parchment paper circle 12 inches in diameter. You can also use plain wax paper, with no ill results – if you do this, be SURE the waxy-coated side is NOT touching the crust!

To prebake the piecrust, place the parchment paper circle on top of the dough in the pie pan and fill it with dried rice or beans. Bake until the edges of the crust are lightly brown, about 15 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and weights and continue to bake until the bottom is slightly brown, about 3-5 minutes. Crust will be a bit crisp on the edges, but still slightly spongy in the center. Remove from oven, allow to cool. Fill with your favorite pie filling and bake according to recipe instructions – making sure to wrap the edges of the crust with foil to prevent burning them. Remove this “crust shield” for the last 10 minutes of baking.

planning ahead (or saving the other half, if you’re making a one-crust pie): From Emily Luchetti: “Tart and pie dough can be made several days in advance. If the dough has been in the refrigerator overnight, let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, making it easier to roll out. Dough can be formed in the pan and kept refrigerated for up to 3 days and frozen for 3 weeks. For maximum flavor and flakiness, tarts and pies should be baked the day you are going to eat them.” — I would also add that you could probably freeze the dough as-is (aka not in the pie dish), wrapped in plastic wrap and sealed in a freezer-safe ziplock bag. Just transfer the dough to the refrigerator 24 hours before you plan to use it, and proceed from there! I haven’t done this myself, but I wouldn’t have any qualms about trying it. I have, however, kept my leftover dough refrigerated for longer than 3 days and it’s been fine. Not quite as awesome as the day-of crust, but still great.

et voila! the beginning of a delicious dessert : )

Some tips (about this pie, and about crusts in general) :

  • Specific to THIS recipe: I am not a pre-baker of crusts, usually. But I do follow the book on this one, aside from baking it for a shorter amount of time (original recipe says 20mins+5mins). Baking it that long made a crust that was not as soft as I like.
  • You CAN get away with not pre-baking at all. The main reason to pre-bake is to ensure the bottom crust does not get “soggy” from the filling – if you are making a fruit pie with a high water content I would recommend pre-baking at least a little, but if you like soft bottom crusts and are making a cream or custard style pie (think: pumpkin), then you will be fine baking in the raw crust.
  • In all crust recipes: The liquid measurements are flexible. Only add enough for the dough to just come together – stop before it becomes sticky!
  • Vinegar evaporates as the crust bakes, thus producing a flakier, lighter crust.
  • If you over mix or over work the dough, it will become tough. Don’t knead it like bread, handle it as little as possible.
  • Allow the dough time to “rest” between mixing, rolling, and pre-baking. I refrigerate my dough for 30mins immediately after mixing, rest 5-10mins on the counter before rolling, and refrigerate another 15-30mins in the pie plate before baking. This helps alleviate bubbling/cracking/shrinking while baking and discourages toughness!
  • If you do pre-bake a crust, the pie weights (or dried rice and beans) ensure that the crust does not shrink or bubble up. I’ve heard of people poking the crust with the tines of a fork as well, but this can cause some fillings to leak through.
  • When baking the entire pie, be sure to protect your edge crust! Wrap the edges with aluminum foil before baking. This ensures they cook slower than the rest of the crust and prevents them from burning.

Anyway. Those are my pieces of pie-making wisdom for the day 🙂 If you try this recipe or have any questions, let me know! Happy pie season! : )

love, rach

PS – the blueberry pie recipe in the photo IS the one I used as a basis for the pie shown here!  taken from Gourmet Today.

PPS – I really hope you’ve seen Pushing Daisies. It tickled all of my pie fancies! There are only two seasons and they are beautiful. And it’s free to watch if you have Amazon Prime. BAM.

the latest from embroidery land…

I will give you exactly 30 seconds to get the reference here.

If you don’t get it by then, we are officially no longer friends.

……….

OKAY JUST KIDDING I STILL LOVE YOU! Please watch this clip from Nacho Libre and be enlightened:

And now go find a way to watch the rest of the film right now. I promise your life will be better for it.

So anyways, back to the embroidery business…

hug hug, kiss kiss, hug hug, BIG KISS, little hug, kiss kiss, little kiss!

I made this for my hubs! I wanted to make something for him that said “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH”, but in a less cheesetastic way, so that he might actually want to display it to the general public. And also because I’m just not a cheesy, lovey-dovey person like that.

One of our favorite movies is Nacho Libre. It gets quoted in our home at least five times a day, minimum. And I have always loved this sentiment! Thus the idea to recreate it with a needle and thread was born.

I’m super happy with the way it turned out. I love how simple it is, and the unique dimensions just tickle my fancy! I was so happy to find this frame that fit it perfectly.

AND, my husband is even going to take it to work to decorate his office. SCORE.

Anyway! I’m still working on a piece that’s superbly awesome, it’s just taking me a while because I’ve been neglecting it a little bit…but I will have it ready to show you shortly! Maybe stating that in writing will give me more motivation to finish 😉 thanks for checking this out!

Love, Rach

ps – see my previous embroidery post here [yes, sadly, there is only one other one at the moment] 

pps – I know my version doesn’t exactly match what Nacho wrote in the movie, BUT it goes with the verbal description of how he read the x’s and o’s. 🙂

An introduction of sorts…

My husband has a pretty cool job. It also happens that he loves it, is great at what he does, AND it pays our bills! How lucky is that?! I truly do feel blessed to be stuck with such a winner : )

Before meeting the hubs, I had only met one other person in real life that had a similar career. So I thought it might be fun to share snippets of what it’s actually like to have his job! Or rather, my perspective on what it’s like to be the spouse of someone in his line of work….

So now to answer the big question:

What exactly does he DO??

although his cartwheels are mighty impressive, he is not a gymnast or male cheerleader…

To keep it simple: He worked for  Pixar when I first met him (his name is in the credits for Brave), and will be working for Dreamworks in the near future.

To be more specific, in simpler terms: He is in the field of 3D animation.

To be even more specific: He is an FX Animator/Effects TD

FX/Effects = Special effects (smoke, fire, explosions, giant robot fights, etc).
TD = “Technical director”. It’s a fancy name for 3D artist. 
Fun fact = In the industry, people who are referred to as “Animators” are typically only the people that create the “performance” (make the characters move, create facial expressions, etc). People who specialize in other areas often have a qualifier for the type of animation they do (Effects Animator, Crowds Animator, etc).

DISCLAIMER: All of these terms and definitions are subject to change depending on which animation studio you are working with. There are no standardized job titles. Just FYI.

I could go on…
But that little segment right there will tell you everything you need to know about what the animation industry is really like.

Let’s just say the industry is like a simple, small, quintessential American “white picket fence” home. It looks beautiful, simple, and quite pleasant from the outside! Then you walk in the front door, turn down the hallway, pull book on a shelf which then swings out from the wall and reveals a stone staircase leading 200 feet underground. Once you reach the bottom, you enter a room full of revolving doors like unto the one in the Department of Mysteries*. All of the doors have solid brick walls behind them, with the exception of one that leads you into another room exactly like the first. Repeat this scenario two more times. Eventually you reach a room filled with a tropical rainforest, and you spend 274 days fighting your way through said rainforest (wild animals, quicksand, tropical storms and all) until you find a small tunnel at the back of a cave. This tunnel is directly vertical, with no ladder rungs or a rope or anything to help you climb, yet somehow you reach the top and find yourself in the backyard of the initially described nondescript house. Turns out, the backyard is also a mine field, and all entrances to the house and exits from the yard are heavily guarded, and you can’t really escape and you have no idea how you got there in the first place , but isn’t it a pretty-looking house from the front?!

AKA….it’s a lot more complicated than it looks.

Most of the time when my hubs says he can’t tell me what he did at work today, it isn’t because it’s top-secret. It’s simply because what he does is so esoteric that I wouldn’t get it. (I’m kind of starting to understand more though!) (and he might know some secrets after all…but I can’t tell you or I’d have to kill you….)

But it’s still totally, 100%, a career worth having.

I mean, how many people can say that every day they walked into work they were greeted by larger-than-life Lego models of Woody and Buzz Lightyear to one side and a case chock-full of Academy Awards on the other? Or that they had unrestricted access to the world’s greatest cereal bar in existence?? Or that they ran into JL in the bathroom a couple of times?!?!?

Not very many, I can tell you that.

I haven’t seen the Dreamworks campus yet, but I bet it’s full of awesomeness too. I’ll be sure to let you know : )

Love — Rach

have any questions about my hubs’ job or the animation industry in general?? let me know and I’ll answer as best I can! and of course I’ll solicit his help for things I don’t know much about! comment or email wafflesandcereal@gmail.com

*If you are not familiar with this Harry Potter reference, go read the books again right this minute

**image courtesy of my awesome sister, Sarah!

Disneyland!

I think I have a love/hate relationship with Disneyland.

I know, I KNOW, it’s the happiest place on Earth! how could I even THINK of having hateful feelings toward the epitome of childhood and smiles and all things good?!?

well.

I do love that place. I love it a lot. the rides are great, the people are nice, the shows are awesome, the souvenir shopping is fun, the food is yummy, the background music is lovely and catchy, and you get to meet real live princesses and other awesome cartoon characters that have been brought to life!!

I guess the only part I don’t really like is the “Disney hangover” that comes from walking around a theme park for fifteen hours in the heat and consuming copious amounts of MSG. and also the times when I forget to bring a sweater because it was 70 degrees that morning and suddenly it is night time and 50 degrees and I am freezing my booty off.

that’s about it, really.

our family vacation was truly wonderful 🙂 I’m so happy I got to hang out with my awesome family!

photographic evidence of awesomeness:

just chillin, ridin coasters, doing the YMCA….nbd.

Love — Rach

Dopplegangers, round III

this is a conundrum I have discussed many times before.

I blogged about it here and here. [that’s how much of an issue it is, it’s warranted TWO whole blog posts!] and if  you are a good friend of mine, it is likely that you are sick of hearing about it by now, therefore you are excused from reading any further. kbye, besties!

I like to call this phenomenon, the “if there is any woman that has ever had brown hair and brown eyes, I am apparently identical to them” syndrome.

my husband has never previously expressed any symptoms of this queer phenomenon.

however, as we were sitting down to dinner last week, he stared at me for a little longer than usual.

and then he said it.

“you know, I figured it out. you look JUST like Demi Moore! only prettier. you’re like a pretty Demi Moore.”

I think our hair is similar in these photos. And that's about it.

*facepalm*

I laughed. I reminded him that I’ve heard that one before. and then I listed off some of the other celeb comparisons I’ve had.

AND HE AGREED WITH MOST OF THEM.

“I can see that! but Anne Hathaway is definitely your sister, not you.”

They both have very nice teeth that look similar. That is all.

*facepalm x 2*

I don’t know why this bothers me [and my sister] so much, having countless dopplegangers.

but it does.

possibly because it feels like you’re stripped of your individuality when you’re compared to others? that your beauty only counts because you look similar to someone the media/general public has deemed as beautiful?? or simply because WE LOOK NOTHING LIKE THESE PEOPLE??!!?!?!?!!?

I don’t know. I don’t spend too much time analyzing these things, because they don’t actually matter. it’s just a pet peeve, and a rather ridiculous one at that.

my husband still thinks I’m hotter than Demi Moore [and all other celebrities], and that’s good enough for me 🙂

Love — Rach

Kiddos.

Today, I helped my cousin-in-law watch her children and the children of two of her sisters.

I. loved. it.

I really, really, really enjoy playing with and taking care of kids. I’ve really been missing it, too. hanging out with kiddos has been a huge part of my life, but after you’re in college people just don’t ask you to babysit anymore….unless you are a nanny [which I was].

I was talking to the husband after I got home and said something about how I wasn’t sick of kids yet because I’m not a mother.

and he said, “I don’t think you’ll ever get sick of them…” (sweet, right?) “…..it takes a certain lack of maturity to enjoy a lack of years.”

then he started giggling maniacally and gave me a big fat hug and kiss.

he sure is a tease. I love him a lot : )

PS – I asked him what that statement says about him, trying to tease him back (he’s six years my senior)…he just laughed and said “That you’re AWESOME.”

I can’t win.

Love — Rach

I have the sweetest husband…

I think my husband is the greatest. He always says the absolute most wonderful things.

The first words out of his mouth one morning:

“You know, you would have to chop off your head and bury it in the ground, cover it with horse manure, leave it there for four days, and reattach it. Then maybe, just MAYBE, you would be able to disguise your beauty. But that still might not cut it…actually I don’t think it would…”

That’s my sweet-talkin’ Romeo, right there. I love his guts.

🙂