30 June 2011

Banana walnut Cake

Sometimes I get a little overboard when buying bananas and then half of them usually end up brown and squishy. 
This time a Banana Walnut Cake was in order!

Here is my recipe. I had never baked a banana cake in my life and was so happy with the results. YAY! The mixture fills a 9x13" pan or two 9" layer cake pans. I halved the recipe (below) since the only cake pan I ever use is the top tier of my wedding cake tin pans (I was once determined to make my own wedding cake.) It's the perfect size for just the 2 of us. Well... make that the ONE of us since my husband is an absolute weirdo who doesn't like cake! WHO doesn't like cake? 

You will need:
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon baking soda (add to pureed bananas)
3 pureed bananas, very ripe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray your pans with non-stick spray. 

Cream the butter, sugar & eggs together with an electric mixer. (or a whisk for the bonus of an arms workout!)

Sift the flour a couple times and add the salt and baking powder

*SIDE NOTE: I didn't have any baking powder so I used a 1:3 ratio (math baby!) of cornstarch to baking soda. 
P.S. I think its better to use half cream of tartar and half baking soda.

Add the milk and flour (alternating, beginning and ending with flour) to the butter mixture.
Add walnuts, vanilla and bananas.

Bake in the oven for 25 - 35 min

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 stick butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 box powdered sugar (1 lb.)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix cream cheese and butter until smooth, add sugar and vanilla and blend well. Spread on cooled cake.

29 June 2011

We got matching tattoos!

Don't freak out!
The hubby and I did not get matching tattoos (despite my aparently unconvincing plea).

The other day I walked past this bush and a particular leaf caught my eye. This leaf had a section missing that looked just like The African continent I have tattooed on my wrist.
Or was it just me? You be the judge.


See? I'm one with nature!

28 June 2011

Just another manic monday... in pictures.

Yesterday I took my camera around with me EVERYWHERE in order to capture a typical Monday. You are invited to see what an average Monday in my life looks like. Here we go...

I wake up at 5:55am. Jealous? I think hit snooze at least 2 times before I make it out of bed.

6:30am drive to work. At least the sun is out at this time these days. :)

Arrive at work just before 7 and it's breakfast time.

Mini wakes up and what better way is there to be greeted in the morning, huh?
We play, sing, do a bit of screeching (a new vocal fav) and before we know it, its lunch time and sometimes this happens.
While Mini is down for a nap...
I get my bloggin' on...
...and eat lunch. (Today's lunch is my fav salad!)
Afternoon. Sun is shining. A trip to the pool is a must.
Arrive home after 6pm and Netflix in my mailbox is a very happy sight.
 Start preparing dinner before...
...it's back in the car to go pick up Hubby from Trader Joe's (best store everrr right?) where he has been working in between studying.
I get to hang out with these two cool guys for a bit
Dinner time and catch up on our favorite YouTube family: The Shaytards
Mike has a half hour of his xbox fix while I sneak in a old Russell Brand podcast and edit pics

So there you have it! A typical life of a South African living in New York. Not everyday is an episode of 'Sex in the City'. 

27 June 2011

Meatless Monday. One day a week, cut out meat.

I am a huge meat lover and sadly enough, just not a fan of many, MANY vegetables. So I am joining in with Meatless Mondays to start my week off on a more healthier note and hopfully discover and learn to enjoy a bigger variety of vegetables and meat alternatives.

This weeks recipe is probably not the most healthiest of dinners, but we had a huge bag of potatoes that had begun sprouting and I felt like this was the perfect opportunity to use them up.

Kate's make-up-as-you-go-along Potato Bake

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and spray an oven-proof dish with non-stick spray.

2. Peel and slice 6 large potatoes and boil in salted water until they are softened (but not soft enough to mash) 
3. While the potoatoes are boiling slice and saute 3 small onions in 1 Tbsp butter until they start to turn goldern. (this should take about 10min)

4. Add 100ml milk to the onions along with 1Tbsp grain mustard, 1tsp mustard powder, 1/2tsp crushed red pepper, 1/2 tsp onion powder, salt and pepper (to taste)

5. Heat milk mixture till almost boiling.

6. Drain potatoes and layer with onion mixture and chesse (I just guess-timated the amount of chedder I used) ending with a thin layer of cheese ontop.

7. Bake in the oven until cheese forms a goldern-brown layer (aprox. 30mins)

8. Enjoy! Serves 4 with a crunchy side salad. (This potato bake would also be perfect as a side dish at a BBQ)

Weekend roundup

  1. New York finally legalizes same-sex marriage. No matter what your thoughts on homosexuality are, I feel that you deserve to be happy and marry whoever you love.
  2. Friday Night hibachi dinner with friends
  3. My celebration after I managed to catch the flying shrimp from the hibachi chef, in my mouth (I never catch them!)
  4. Baking on Saturday morning... recipe coming up later this week.
  5. Cocktails at lunch (hey! It's Summer) with brother-in-law
  6. Dinner with the hubby at this little pub I have been wanting to go to for ages!
  7. I saw a total of 2 bunnies this weekend. :) I love them!
  8. Hubby gets haircut
  9. While strolling in the park we came across an emergency/disaster communication set-up practicing. 

26 June 2011

Stalk me!

Hi bloggy friends.

Just wanted to let you know that I have finally updated my profile to include an "About Me" page and other buttons on the right side column so you can get to know me a little better. *click *click *click away! blog.

Let's get to know eachother!

I would love it if you left a comment below introducing yourself and linking your blog!
Let's be friends.

24 June 2011

My imaginary house, garden and kids on pinterest

Can we just jump on the pinterest bandwagon for a second here people?

Pinterest is a new addiction for me. I can spend hours pinning recipes, DIY projects, fashion, you name it. But I have found myself pinning projects to complete in my own home (which I don't even own yet), vegetable garden ideas for my non-existent backyard and sweet outfits, nurseries and photography-ideas for the kids that I'm not even pregnant with yet. I guess you can say I'm pinning for a rainy day.

One day I will DIY absolutely everything in my awesome pad, my garden will look like a fairy tale and my kids will be the coolest little Llamboks* on earth!

*Llamboks are what my husband and I call our future children. My sister made a topper for our wedding cake that was a Llama (representing Peru) and a Springbok (representing South Africa) and figured out if they ever had children they would be Llamboks. (this took way to long to explain, sorry!)

I would now like to share with you a very random selection of things that caught my eye so far. Feel free to follow me here! on pinterest.

Can baking get any cooler then this?
I think not.

These Hiking Journals kept by The hike Guy are beautiful and so inspiring. 
Now bring me my backpack & some trailmix!

How awesome are these tattoo stockings?
You could really freak your parents out at Sunday night dinner with these!

Movie night in my imaginary backyard of my imaginary home. You are all invited!

Im already thinking how to DIY this onesie for my (not even germinated) Llamboks.

22 June 2011

I feel relatively neutral about New York

New York, New York - It's a hell of a town

I still consider myself to be a huge tourist, although I have lived in New York for nearly 3 years. One of my first purchases as soon as I landed here in 2008 was a "I <3 NY" sweat shirt which has since come to a demise, and I am strongly considering buying a replacement. 

For the first couple of months living here I made the short 30min train ride into Manhattan frequently, hitting all the tourist spots, ice skating in central park, touring the NBC studios and macking on Magnolia cupcakes while uploading more and more photos onto facebook for the jealous eyes of others. 
But what happens when you have visited the top 10 tourist attractions? What if you find 5th avenue a little bit daunting? And what if 'Sex in the City' is just not your kind of lifestyle?

Don't get me wrong, I love many aspects of the city. I got married in Central Park, so chilling there on a sunny day has new meaning; I still get excited when a whole string of yellow taxi cabs drive by; people watching becomes an extreme sport in the city and there are so many fun events and happenings (I once ended up as a film extra in the movie 'Get him to the Greek'.) But sometimes I feel like I take living so close to such a cutting-edge city for granted. There are people that would kill for an opportunity to live here while I complain that rent is too expensive and you can't for the life of you find a parking spot (and don't get me started on the parking ticket Nazi's).

If I can be really honest, New York City is not my kind of place. (yes I said it) I am loving living here for now but the small town girl inside of me wants to eventually move to a mountain town, almost in the middle of nowhere and buy a house with a backyard, picket fence and a mail box shaped like something that isn't a mailbox (okay, maybe forgo the picket fence).

As Summer hits (maybe its the warm weather talking) I find myself always wanting to escape. I would rather be spending my weekends hiking or camping then swiping my credit card (if I even had one) at an overpriced NYC boutique or squashing into a NYC nightclub and paying $20 for a drink.

New York will always hold a special place in my heart and in a way I hate to admit this: I feel relatively neutral about New York.

Have you ever been to New York? Have you ever dreamt about living in New York?
What is your favorite thing to do here?

21 June 2011

Happy Summer

Despite all the amazing weather we have been getting in New York lately, today officially marks the 
~First day of Summer 2011~

It feels like just the other day when my drive to work looked like this:

I am happy to report that it now looks a little more like this:

When I was just a little South African kid, I always wondered why they made such a big deal about American Summers in movies or TV shows. I then discovered there is a 3 month vacation involved! WHAT THE WHAT? Not fair, considering the longest vacation from school I ever got was over Christmas break (our Summer) and that lastest a measly 4 weeks. On the East Coast we did have Summer temperatures all year round so the warm weather was nothing too exciting either. I then heard about Summer Camps. What? You actually get to go hang out in the woods with your friends for weeks at a time? Where do I sign up? Am I too old? I loved the idea of summer camps so much in fact that it was my first choice of job when I first wanted to come to the states. I had bad timing though and ended up working at a ski resort instead.

This year will be my 3rd American Summer ever and I just can't get enough.  I am making the most of it by checking off my Summer bucket List which seems to be filling up with more things before I can cross anything off.

20 June 2011

First Hike of the Year

Thanks to a suggestion from Sarah at A Lost Feather our first hike this year was up to the top of High Tor, which is located just over the Tappen Zee Bridge and only a 50min drive from our house.

I counted down the days till the weekend and checked weather.com at least 20 times (we had had thunderstorms all week) because I was just too excited. There is not much that beats getting out in nature, breathing in some fresh air and hanging out with your best friend.

After a pretty easy, 6 mile hike up to an elevation of 832ft we were rewarded with a 360 degree view which included the NYC skyline faint in the distance. We sat down to catch our breath and snacked on some nuts, guavas and candy.

I could not have asked for a better day, although next time I will defiantly remember to pack the bug repellent.

After the short drive back we stopped in at my father-in-law's to feast on some 'ceviche' before heading home, resting our tired feet and watching my all time favorite movie: Into the Wild.

And If you weren't totally sick of pictures of our hike, there is a video too! Enjoy!

On another note, starting from today we are beginning Meatless Mondays in our house. Its a great way to start each week on a healthy note! I admit that we eat too much meat and hopefully this will help us cut down our meat consumption by 15%. By doing this I hope to consume more veggies, improve our health and reduce our carbon footprint. Each Monday (starting next week) I will be posting my Meatless Monday dinner recipes in hopes that you will join in too. You can find more information on their website, and if you do decide this is right for you please sign the pledge.

19 June 2011

I love you, dads!

Happy Father's day to my incredible dad and my awesome dad in-law!

17 June 2011

Happy Friday!

Every friday I get home from work, put down my bag and do a little dance while singing 
"It's friday, it's the weekend, it's friday, it's the weekend."
This really happens, every friday without fail. I just love that feeling you get when you just know that you will not be waking up at 5:45am (in my case) the next morning. The sun is out after a crazy thunderstorm this morning and the weather is looking perfect for a hiking adventure tomorrow. 

Happy weekend everybody!

16 June 2011

The Taste of Summer

Rita's Italian Ice is what makes Summer extra special for me. I discovered it for the first time last year and it soon turned into our answer for everything:

What should we eat? Rita's
Where should we go? Rita's
Im bored. Lets go to Rita's
Its hot. Lets go to Rita's
Wanna go to Rita's? Uh, are you kidding?

The #1 reason I love it so much is that it reminds me of my friends (who have moved back to South Africa) and of last Summer. We would be out all day at BBQ's or the beach and on the drive home (with "I could really use a WISH right now" blaring on the car radio) we would pick up some 'swedish fish' or 'Pina Colada' italian ice and it would be the perfect end to another perfect sunny day.  Yesterday I discovered Gelati. Im Hooked! There is no going back from the 'Juicy pear'/vanilla custard magical-ness that went down. No. Going. Back.
If you have a Rita's near you, get down there. You won't be sorry.

What is your favorite Rita's Italian Ice flavor?

15 June 2011

The ferret with 9 lives

There was an incident last night that almost turned tragic. Our beloved fur son, Gumby (or "The Gum" as we refer to him), is apparently training to become a stunt man. 

While watching some online videos, (probably about ferrets) I heard a faint squeaking coming from the next room, but ignored it at first. The second time I heard it I turned to my husband and asked him if he thought it was our ferret? Mike lept up and ran towards the window. 
Now please picture this sight... Gumby was dangling OUT of the window of our 3rd FLOOR apartment, hanging onto dear life with just 1 little paw! 
My husband hero punched through the screen and grabbed the traumatized ferret. 
We clutched onto him and had a long family hug while everybody's heart beats came back down to normal.

I could not believe what had just happened.

"The Gum" had scaled a laundry bag that was next to the window and, while examining the view, he apparently found a tiny tear in the screen and thought he would get some fresh air or act like spiderman (who knows what was going on in his little ferret brain). GOSH! 

What an event for a tuesday night. It is truly a miracle that Gum is still around to cause more chaos in the future. 

14 June 2011

I used to be a florist, can you tell?

R.I.P Gabby the plant. (named after my dear friend who had to sit with the tree on her lap all the way back from Brooklyn) 

Despite my floristry skills and (this one is the most embarrassing) I actually used to sell interior plants in office buildings, we have seen the demise of not only one little palm tree, but two!
I guess between the out of control heaters (in winter); a crazy, digging-addicted ferret running amock (please note my protective cardboard cover) and possibly a little neglect from owners; any plant life is pretty much doomed in this apartment.
For now my beautiful white ceramic pot sits empty while I contemplate buying a fake plant to save any more heart break.