Worse for Wear, though Still in Bloom

comments: 14

Aftersnow2Here are the primroses after yesterday's snowy coverage, a little floppy, a little disheveled, but who's not. I took the day off yesterday, completely. It felt really good to do that after such an emotional week! (And, just real quick again I wanted to say thank you to everyone for your comments lately that are still coming in, and your emails, and your references on blogs -- I know I won't be able to answer most of them personally because, quite frankly, whenever I read them I start sobbing again, but I just wanted to make sure that you know how important your words were to me. I printed that whole thing out and put it into my special folder of things that I keep forever. Thank you.) So, I puttered around alone and watched the snow fall -- by the way, it's falling again, big fat hockey-puck-like snowflakes. I've never seen snowflakes so big. I watched the news yesterday afternoon and they said the snow on the mountain (Mt. Hood, a 14,000 mountain about an hour away from Portland, seen rising luminously above the east side when it's clear) was the best in several years. So exciting for them there! We didn't get up to Timberline Lodge this winter. If you ever consider coming to Portland, you should definitely try and make this a stop on your tour. It's the ultimate monument to the saving graces of handcrafts. Built at the height of the Great Depression, Timberline was commissioned by the federal Works Progress Administration and built entirely by hand -- from the construction of the building itself (on a remote site on the side of the mountain, no less) to each and every piece of furniture, rug, watercolor, and banister -- by unemployed craftspeople who taught others, others with no experience whatsoever, to hammer, nail, stitch, carve, and weave that building into existence. And what a cathedral of spirit is it. It's a place that is dear to me and to generations of Oregonians. When you go there, try to stay overnight at the Lodge if you can. It's not the height of luxury by any means -- but in some ways, it's the most fantastic place you'll ever stay, especially if you are someone who believes in the power of handmade things. The optimism and healing that the project must have engendered in its creators is evident in every step of that circling tower. It represents the best of Oregon, and is beloved. And covered in new snow!

Cupcakes2_1 Anyhoo, yesterday I decided I desperately needed a day of puttering, and cooking, so I made Thai Yellow Pumpkin and Seafood Curry from Nigella Bites (which was delish, although I used halibut instead of salmon because I don't like salmon) and some St. Patrick's Day cupcakes for the girls at work. I know this will probably get me kicked out of the craft-blog community for saying so but: I just don't really like chocolate. I want to. I want to experience the life-changing I-don't-even-need-a-vacation-after-this-one-bite-of-Scharffenberger, but all I can think of, every time I cave and do something chocolate, is Nice, but I wish I'd left out the chocolate. Also, if anyone has any cupcake-baking advice, please advance it this way. Almost every single time I bake cupcakes, two things happen: I wind up with way more batter than they say I'll have, and so I have to make more cupcakes than they say I will, and then when they come out of the oven they shrink like little old wrinkled marshmallows, pulling so far away from the sides of the tin that they're just floating around. I put the two biggest cupcakes in the front of this picture, so they look better here than they actually do in real life. I want a dense, heavy cupcake, not a miniature one that feels like a March breeze will blow it out of my hand (mouth). I think you'll tell me that I'm beating it too much, and there is too much air in the batter. Maybe I should mix the flour in by hand, instead of by Kitchen Aid?

Well, I have to go to work today, so I'll be able to catch up on blogs I haven't been reading. Also, I hear that the Family Circle Easy Knitting spring issue is out on newsstands, though I can't find it. I have a capelet pattern in there I've been wanting to see. The magazine has been in a bit of transition -- no longer published by Soho, it was sold to Meredith (who owns Better Homes and Gardens), though it's still called Family Circle EK. To further confuse, my pattern is crocheted. Also, the web site associated with the mag is out of date, and the editor says they will eventually have a new site but no current plans for that now. So it will be interesting to see what this looks like, and if it is good. There are so many new grocery-store-type knitting mags out there all of a sudden, have you noticed? My question is, is it better to have more magazines or better magazines, in general, in the industry? I guess we'll see.


you're not the only one who's ambivalent about chocolate. people treat me like i'm really weird (especially at my female-dominated office), but it's not really all that unusual.

i'm always wishing cookies didn't have chocolate chips or that white cake didn't have chocolate frosting. it's not bad with the chocolate; i just want to get more of the other taste.

Don't feel too bad about chocolate. I'm just like that. I like it but I can't eat one of those chocolate cakes with chocolate icing and chocolate sprinkles that so many other people swoon about.

About your cupcakes, does it happen with every recipe you use? How much batter do you put in each one? Maybe if you tried filling them up a bit more?

I'll have to look for the spring issue with your pattern in it. How exciting!

I picked up a copy two days ago. I'll email you a scan of the capelet. Very cute.

Knit Simple by Vogue is also out on the stands with some very cute crocheted flowers on the cover made out of embroidery thread.

i am sorta the same way with chocolate. my mother in law makes a few deserts that i just love, but i end avoiding or ignoring the chocolate bits altogether. my husband, on the other hand, would prob. choose chocolate over a good shag with his wife (and I swear that is NOT a poor reflection on me!)...that is just how much he loves his chocolate!!

I have a cupcake recipe for you! It's from Cook's Illustrated and makes a delicious, dense cupcake. It is also NOT chocolate. It does call for a chocolate ganache frosting, but I'm sure you can change that.

I just want to say that you are my all-time favorite blogger. I anxiously wait for your entry every single day (even down to checking a couple of times a day to see if you've written yet or have you written more). I've recommended you to friends and most of all, I've enjoyed your posts. Your anniversary post had me weeping, your post on the snow and your flowers had me laughing (in Toronto, Ontario, Canada this is not news to us)... thank you, thank you, thank you!

The simplest trick for the perfect cupcakes is to weigh your eggs first, then add exactly the same weight of caster sugar (v.fine white sugar), self-raising flour, and soft butter, optional - splash of vanilla, splash of milk.

Easy to do easy to remember.

Never fails to produce light, fluffly, vanilla cupcakes, I promise

i'd pick vanilla anything over chocolate something any day.

about those cupcakes - same thing happens to me everytime. i'd love to learn a trick or two on how to make the perfect cupcake. i'm curious to see if America's Test Kitchen has anything on cupcakes...

I am not a chocolate fan either and I always wish I could enjoy those dense bowls of hot chocolate French style, but yuck! I would recommend filling up your cupcakes more, adding the flour mixture a little at a time and not mixing too much. I have the recipe for the Magnolia Bakery cupcakes in NYC here: http://www.daciaray.com/?p=114 The amount of sugar involved is ridiculous, but you've got to live a little, no?

Stephanie says: March 10, 2006 at 08:08 PM

I love what you have to say about Timberline Lodge. I have incredibly sentimental feelings about the WPA projects I've seen. It's an amazing part of American history.

Hi! You don't know this yet, but I love your blog--your stories, the way you put your feelings into what you write and what you make, and the way that every time I visit I see something beautiful and feel inspired. So, hi! :)

Now, about these cupcakes: You might also check your oven temperature using a new thermometer. Even 25 degrees too hot can cause shrinky-cake syndrome. Although maybe you just need a new recipe? Like something on the lines of those old-fashioned "quick cake" ones that use creaming of butter and sugar to give air instead of eggs or lots of baking powder. Mmmm, cupcakes....

hmm..interesting, I've noticed the same thing with the last batch of cupcakes I made...way more batter then they said!! That is not really a good thing, because that means I will eat way more then I intended ;)

Thank you for the link! xo.

Timberline is a gorgeous place! Dh grew up in Hood River and when we go back for a visit, we always head up to Timberline.

Good advice above about weighing everything, and checking your oven temp. I was wondering where you got your cupcake liners? The blue and white are so cute, and I'm obsessed with cupcakes. Thanks, and love your blog!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com