Saturday, March 31, 2012


I was never a fan of icing. Even as a kid, I would take the piece of cake from the middle, because it had the least amount of the sugary goo. And I never liked cupcakes, as they were half frosting. I'd only eat the plain ones, and even then, they had to be plain vanilla, because I hated getting chocolate in my teeth. (have I mentioned here that I was a weird kid?)

And then, suddenly in my 20's, cupcakes were everywhere. Even as I unwittingly toed the waters of Douchey Hipsterism, I sneered at the confections, casting them off as another douchey hipster food trend. Like Indian samosas or anything Ethiopian.

But, now that I'm older, jaded, and way less apologetic, I realize that, yeah, I am a mostly a douchey hipster.

And that I effing love cupcakes.
But this is all thanks to the Absolutely Lovely Back in the Day Bakery Old Fashioned Cupcake. Seriously. You've never had a cupcake with better substance or texture. And you can eat like, a dozen before you get sick to your stomach.

book and plate, both full of Nom's
Mandy recently sent my mom a copy of the cookbook from Savannah's favorite bakery, and I'll admit: it's the first cookbook I've read from cover to cover. Typically, I'm not into cookbooks--I see them as judgement in print form, glaring at me and speaking in a language I don't understand (math), while showing me beautiful pictures of tasty delicious treats that I'll never be able to make--I'd rather learn to cook by actually cooking. Which is something my mom is willing to oblige, and why I'm happy to cook with her, even though I'm much happier just to eat what she cooks.

However. The Back in the Day book is quite approachable, like that awesome teacher in high school who would let you eat in class and take naps as long as you had an A. The recipes seem complex, but are broken down and very easy to follow, teaching you invaluable cooking and baking tips along the way (and the fact that the authors are masters of wit and charm doesn't hurt). So when I came across the recipe for the cupcakes and icing that I fell in love with a few weeks ago, I literally jumped up to make them. 

So, pretending to be a professional baker, and following the wisdom of the Days, I cubed my butter and set out the eggs to get them room temperature.


The mix calls for "cake flour," which I'd never used before, and didn't have, and since I hadn't changed out of my pj's all day and it was raining, and I was nursing a miserable sinus headache, I couldn't motivate myself to sit the 25 minutes of traffic just to get the store 7 miles away (haaaay, NoVa). So I took my mom's advice and checked out her Joy of Cooking book to see if there was an equivalent in flour I could use.

My mom's had this cookbook since she was 17. It's basically become a little a food treasure chest and something of a diary, and I love it.

I find the notation ironic, considering the recipes she learned from this book have stood the test of time, but the marriage lasted 2 years. Cooking lasts, guys.

aw, a baby supplies list.

I love this quote.

apparently the book caught on fire at one point...
I also found this "Diner Menu" that I drew up in the 4th grade tucked in the pages

Yeah, I couldn't spell until the 6th grade.
Anywho, I convinced myself to go the Professional Baker Route, and went out to buy cake flour. Success! I got home and proceeded to make a huge mess. And some cupcakes.

Baking with Audrey the 6 year old

the world's best butter cream frosting
ACTION SHOT. also, that's my childhood apron. aw.
what happens when you over-fill your cupcake cups. #lesson learned

Commander Landmass at the Cupcake Helm

what happens when you try to frost with non-room temperature icing. #morelessonslearned

Area Man Enjoys Cupcakes

woooo, Back in the Day sprinkles (#fangirl)

I ate 5 or 6 in 20 minutes, saved some for my friends at FireHaus, and then fought my parents off for the rest. They're really addictive. Like, "it's after midnight and I don't care, I want to run upstairs and make some more" addictive. mmmmm...

Whatever, looming bikini season. It's cupcake season.

Old Fashioned Cupcakes with butter cream frosting
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cake flour (not self rising)
1 1/4 unbleached, all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking powder (preferably aluminum free)
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (regular salt will work)
1/2 (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 cubes, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 recipe butter cream frosting (following)
sprinkles, if desired.

-position rack in lower 1/3 of the oven and preheat the oven to 350*F

-line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners

-in a large measuring cup or small bowl, mix together milk and vanilla, and set aside

-in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer) combine both flours, the sugar, baking powder and salt and mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes until thoroughly combined

-with the mixer on low speed, at the cubed butter a few pieces at a time, mixing for about 2 minutes until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

-with the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

-turn the speed to low and gradually add the milk and vanilla, then mix 1-2 minutes

-remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, incorporate any ingredients hiding at the bottom of the bowl, making sure the batter is completely mixed

-with a large ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop the batter into prepared cupcake cups, filling each cup 2/3 full (editor's note: can't stress this enough)

-bake for 20-25 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean

-let cool for at least 20 minutes

Butter Cream Frosting
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
6-7 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
liquid gel food coloring (optional)

-in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a hand held mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes)

-add 4 cups of the confectioner's sugar, the milk, and vanilla and mix on low speed until smooth and creamy (2-3 minutes)

-gradually add up to 3 cups more sugar, mixing on low speed until the frosting reaches the desired light and fluffy consistency (3-5 minutes)

-if desired, to tint the frosting, add a drop or two of food coloring to the frosting, mixing well; add more coloring as necessary until you reach the desired shade. If you want multiple colors, scoop the frosting into several bowls, then add the food coloring

-the frosting can be stored in an air-tight container for up to 2 days.

*editor's note: if you leave butter out for an hour before you start baking, it will reach room temperature. When it's ready, you will be able to leave a finger print on it, but it should still be on the firm side. For eggs, but them in a bowl, add hot water, and carefully swirl them around for 1-2 minutes. It's really important for your ingredients to be at room temperature, otherwise your ingredients won't bind together correctly, and you get dry, crumbly cupcakes.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Guest Blogger: Cara!

Today we finally have a guest blog by my common-law best friend, Cara!

It's about time, considering I asked her to write one in January (ahem). She's been over sharing with me for the last 15 years, and now she's over sharing on my blog. I feel like we've reached and broken a new boundary in our friendship. *tear*

5 o'clock Shadow & You: One Girl's Tale of Triumph

So, this text conversation happened today -

Me: If I fell into a coma, would you come live near me with the
sole purpose of plucking my eyebrows while I'm incapacitated?

Audrey: Hmm... How much would your estate pay me?

Me: All the Cheetos you can eat. And we'll have cable internet
for you to use. But bring your own computer. I don't want you finding
my porn stash.

Audrey: Yeah... I need benefits and 3 weeks paid vacation.

Before I get into what I want to talk about here, I'd like to point
out that never did my BFF ask me what the crap I was talking about or
why I was asking such a daunting task.  She did immediately ask
for some sort of compensation, but being the great friend she is, she
didn't question my motives.  She's a good friend. Albeit a greedy
friend, but a good one too. (Editor's Note: You'd better be careful who you slander, lest 
you end up in a coma with wonky eyebrows)

Anyway, lately I've been contemplating the irritation that is body
hair.  Body hair is gross.  Every day, I dread looking in
the mirror to discover where a new rogue whisker may have emerged.

 The main cause of my problem is that I have really dark brown hair.
 Like, almost black.  It's the same color as my moms, but
she'll flip her lid if you tell her it's black. "NO! IT'S DARK BROWN,
NOT BLACK!" I'm not sure when my mom became a hair color bigot, but
that's a conversation for another day.  But I digress.  The
fact of the matter is, my hair is dark, so any time there's a new
sprout that pops up to say "hello", it's immediately noticeable to me,
and probably to everyone within a 2-mile radius.  Or at least,
that's what I imagine. 
(Editor's Note: birds of a feather.)

My first taste of body hair embarrassment
was when I was 8 years old. My babysitter, a 16-year-old blond who
probably didn't have a speck of unwanted foliage anywhere (or at least
not dark enough to see), got a laugh from her friends at my expense when
she pointed out how hairy my legs were.  Dude! I was 8 friggin years old!
What do I know?! I remember sneaking a razor from my mom that night and
cutting the crap out of myself before finally asking her to help me
learn how to do it properly.

It wasn't until a few years later, when I thought it was a good idea
to scratch an itch on my knee with a disposable Bic, that I fully
understood the power that tiny pink razor held. This thing could kill
me if I let it.

Yeah, pretty much just like that.

I was around 16 years old when I became aware of how hairy my arms
were.  Think Robin Williams arms on a young girl's body.

Yes, Robin. It is sad.

So I started shaving my arms.  I still do it to this day.
 I've never admitted to it in public, so feel privileged. And
then forget I ever told you.  Dammit, I need one of those Men In
Black mind eraser thingies.

Then I was 19 or so when I discovered the benefits of
shaved genitalia.  I won't go into too much detail about
this, but just know that I typed and deleted 4 different sentences
involving itchiness and ingrown hairs. Blegghhhh.

Here I sit, 27 years old, married, with a young son, and I still
remove the hair from basically my Super Mario Mustache all the way
down.  That the hell?  Why am I still so concerned with
feeling like a newborn baby?  It's so weird.  Part of me
wishes I could let go of the social stigma of hairy armpits or sandals
with monkey toes.  But I just can't.

Thus, it will be part of my living will that my best friend from high
school move halfway across the country to tend to my eyebrow plucking
needs, lest a sexy doctor think I'm some sort of a cave woman.

Dr. Big-Bulge, at your service.

Find a lot of cute pictures of my kid, and my thoughts on life at

Monday, March 26, 2012

But then, Babies.

Three women I know gave birth over the weekend, which, to my knowledge is the most babies born on a single weekend in North America, ever*.

Normally, this get my neuroses all worked up in a "do I want kids?" tizzy. The same kind of estrogen-induced whacked out tizzy that happened when all my friends got engaged or married or bought houses. It's inevitable, I think, to start comparing yourself to those around you, especially when you get older and you start feeling like those "goal posts" that meant nothing to you in your teenage years actually start to mean something. So, to stave off attacks of Self Sads, I just avoided the internet.

But then, boredom defeated me and I looked at pictures of the new little humans. And to my surprise, I didn't think much of them beyond how cute they were (which is notable in itself; I didn't think babies were cute until I was in my 20's). Blame it on the break up, or my lack of career and private housing, or that I have yet to meet someone who I like so much that I want to make tiny, controllable versions of them, (except, maybe, Jon Hamm)

but the actual desire to have kids wasn't on the radar. So I went on with my day, and took a coma nap.

But then, I woke up and opened the thank you card my "niece" sent me:

she's really sharp for a 3 year old
and I started to think how cool it would be to form a little person into someone awesome. To share my old toys with. To teach how to spell and how to write essays.

But then, I stood up and nearly fell over, because somewhere between Saturday night and Sunday morning and the beer-mosas I was drinking, I felt the need to show off my intense physical prowess** with pilates, squats and lunges, which has resulted in complete and utter pain from my hips to my ankles. (I also won my first ever arm wrestling match, which is a victory for me and all the other T-Rex arms out there)

Oh, the quandaries of adulthood. I figure, when drunk calisthenics and staying up til dawn and sleeping til 3 PM and sitting around writing all day in my pj's is no longer fun, then I'll consider kids--and by kids, I mean, human children. Not baby goats. Even though baby goats are just about incredible.

can't. handle. cuteness on bucket.

In other news, I had an amazing weekend, even if Hunger Games was a big let down (at least it was for me). Oh, and speaking of Jon Hamm, MADMEN IS BAAAAAAAACK, and despite a few hiccups, it seems to just as engrossing as ever. And speaking of babies and TV shows that are back, 16 & Pregnant starts again tomorrow.

You know where I'll be.

*this is probably a lie

*this is definitely a lie

Friday, March 23, 2012

Prelude to the Weekend

My dad's brother Stuart, aka Uncle Smedge, came up from Knoxville last night. He's an ordained Baptist Minister, but between the dense sarcasm, the slap-stick routines, the off-color jokes, and the extreme irreverence in which he conducts himself, you wouldn't know it.

We spent the morning bonding over our favorite Whitest Kids U Know sketches, drunk history, and the escort who mistakenly showed up at Shayne's house last night.

Good times.

Man, this weekend is going to be 3 straight days of Fabulous. Tonight, I'm going to B-More Careful with Scott and Cindy, who I haven't seen since I've been home. There will be Boh. There will be Hunger Games. There will be Charm City Couch Town. There will be Lucille 2. There will be Juan Pedro. And about 700 other inside jokes.

Tomorrow is Kate's birthday, which includes suishi feast, the Ashburn Feepits, hilarity and camaraderie.                      

Sunday is the Caps game with Mary and a ceremonial visit to the two story H&M in Chinatown. I haven't shopped at H&M in years (much to the relief of my credit card).

Monday, there will be work. And sleeping.

I did some revision work yesterday, and even started a new piece! Huzzah for kinda/sorta breaking through my writer's block. I feel like things are finally starting to get better. I just hope they keep on the up and up.

Also, the cherry blossoms are blowin' up around my parents neighborhood:

which means my allergies are on high alert.

It's ok, Virginia. I didn't like breathing comfortably anyway. Also, we are apparently skipping spring and jumping into summer, which is ok, because we skipped winter, too. MAKE UP YOUR MIND, WEATHER.

Anywho, onward to a weekend of awesome!


Thursday, March 22, 2012


When I had my tonsils removed, I asked the doctor if he could preserve them for me so that I could see them. He laughed, because he thought I was joking. “No,” I said, “I’m really that interested.” And, creepy. As I was waiting in the recovery room, watching The Golden Girls and trying to convince my mom to push my morphine button again, my doctor brought in two infected looking pieces of tissue, baby shit green in the yellow preservative. They looked like pasty boogers suspended in apple juice. “To think—these were in your body!” Nice, I thought. These two pea-sized organs that had swelled to nearly golf ball size one month ago had the power to completely incapacitate me for 3 months, as well as keep me home so much my freshman year of high school that I almost didn’t pass. These little things could’ve killed me. It blew my mind. 

I had my wisdom teeth taken out in a pain study at the National Institute of Health. Wisdom teeth extraction is expensive. Even more expensive when one doesn’t have dental insurance—like me. So I when the offer appeared to have free surgery from a qualified agency, in addition to being able to help advance SCIENCE, I jumped at the chance. 

After a few preliminary questions to see if I qualified for free surgery (“Are you an American born citizen? Yes? Are you currently abusing pain medication? No? Alright, you qualify.”), it was explained to me that I’d either take a placebo or a pain killer before the surgery. I wouldn’t know, and neither would the doctors. A double blind test it’s called, if my twelfth grade psych class memory proves correct. They’d put me under heavy local sedation, give me laughing gas, and do the extraction. Afterwards, they would collect what was pouring out of the holes in my jaw and study the hormones and chemicals. I asked if I got to keep my teeth, and they said, “of course!” I was excited. 

The laughing gas made me feel as if someone had pumped my brain full of helium and circuses. I couldn’t feel the pain, but my fascination was more than alive, and heightened to an unbearbly obnoxious state. All I could see were huge chunks of teeth hitting the tray beside me, and even though I was completely numb, I could feel—and hear—the “yank”--and the instant hollow sensation being quickly replaced with blood flowing over the hole and down the side of my mouth. I kept trying to say, “wow let me see those fuckers—they’re soooooo huge” as they pulled more quarters of teeth out. The doctors kept muttering things to me, trying to get me to be quiet, but the laughing gas made me feel too stoned to do anything but giggle at the thought of me fighting a saber tooth tiger wearing a Rainbow Afro. 

In the end, they didn’t bring me my teeth. Bummer. And, as it turned out, I was in the placebo group. Even MORE of a bummer. This meant I sat in immense pain for 3 hours with tubes running from my mouth into sterile cups, while nurses measured my pain reaction from 0-10. 0 being, “eh,” and 10 being “HOLY SHIT TO FUCKING GOD I HATE YOU IF YOU DON’T GIVE ME MORPHINE I WILL RIP YOUR OVARIES OUT YOUR MOTHERING FUCKING ASSHOLE. Ohhhhh goddd I’m in pain, wahhh.” Clutching my throbbing jaw and feeling tears roll down my face, I guessed a level 8, although it’s definitely hard to judge what level of pain you’re in when they’ve just extracted 2 molars with roots about half an inch long from your jaw. I kept expecting the pain to get worse. And when it did, I wasn’t surprised. 

Such is my love for medical science, I would put myself in harm’s way just to further it.

I think it’s the lingering engineer gene from my father’s side lying dormant somewhere within me, but I love science. All but two men in his family became engineers of some sort: agricultural, civil, rail road, mechanical, etc. (of the two who didn’t, one became an Artist and one, a Baptist Minister. Go figure). The Turner family is really good with numbers, logic, spatial reasoning, music, and I’m really good at… drinking, writing, and complaining, more like my mother’s side. Believe me, if I weren't absolutely inept at math and science, I would totally be a forensic pathologist and it would probably kick more ass than I could possibly fathom. Science is fucking amazing.

Anyway, I have this mild obsession with learning how life sustains itself. The fact that millions of microscopic processes have to occur in specific moments just to keep me alive fascinates me. I hate cancer--obviously--but it’s amazing how the body can turn on itself, even if you lead a life free of smoking or drinking—or conversely, how someone can live to be 94 while smoking two packs of Lucky Strikes everyday (like my great-grandma on my mother’s side). How you can overdose on water, how toxic human shit is, how you went home with that asshole from the bar because you both were reacting to scents you were giving off that you weren’t even cognizant of—amazing! 

I was always the first one with gloves and a scalpel whenever there was a dissection in class, and most of my teachers made a comment on my “almost disturbing” excitement at getting to cut through an animal. Why not? What’s not to be excited about? It’s much like a teenage boy getting to see for the first time what’s really under the girl’s bra. I never get a chance to see internal organs in the flesh, so to say. There’s a whole factory going on inside me that I’ll never get to witness—outside of a glass filled with formaldehyde or on an ultrasound, or should I ever start that “murdering strangers in alley ways” side project. 

I read as much as I can, and took as many classes as my slacker-creative-writing-concentration-collegiate schedule would allow, but I’ve never really been satisfied. Really, more than anything, I want to sit in on a human autopsy—preferably someone who was mauled by a bear or murdered horribly. I want to see jagged, bloated, purple skin, gag at the stale, irony smell, get a glimpse of what a thousand mile stare really looks like. I want to take each organ out and weigh, examine, dissect, follow trails. I want to be utterly terrified that the cadaver will come off the table and rip my heart out of my chest. 
I'll just go ahead and add "sit in on autopsy" to my bucket list. 

*side note, I love forensic pathology, but I hate, hate, hate every incarnation of CSI. I feel like that's important to note here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bassets and Bakeries and Plans for Self Improvement

 On Friday, mom and I took the girls and my niece, Neve, to Shirlington to have lunch with Mary and Dad.

Commander Land Mass attempts to jump over the back seat

but, upon further inspection, realizes that the backseat might be vast a hurdle, as her legs are wee
and thus, the land mass retreats to her den of sloth
It's interesting, the effect that dogs have on strangers. I know that I see a friendly looking dog in public, I'll instantly turn to mush, dog-talking and d'awwwwing while quelling every urge I have to go up and hug it. And 99% of the people who passed the girls on Friday had the same reaction.

Dogs are just fabulous, fantastic creatures. Even if they are slothful, barking, drooling stink factories. 

being adored by passing crowds is exhausting
Ellie prepares to receive a crowd of ladies. Notes to single men: get thee a dog and head to the park. Dogs= panty peeler.
OMG! A picture of Lucy smiling!

and then, as soon as it arrived, the happiness was gone.
Neve can't leave the house with out wearing an elaborate head piece or a ball gown. Apparently elaborate head pieces and ball gowns are only acceptable if you're 3 years old or a drag queen, not if you're a 27 year old white girl. Snap.

Commander Princess Bride at the Milkshake Helm

We also went to Old Town Warrenton so that we could swing by The Red Truck Bakery. They sell these red truck cookies that Neve is obsessed with.

I told her to look at the camera and smile, so she looked at the camera and picked her nose. Alright, Neve.
she has the best little kid curls
Virginia has the best Old Towns. I need to do some more exploring in OT Warrenton, but I love OT Alexandria and Manassas. They're filled with great little shops, fantastic restaurants, and beeeeautiful old, genteel Southern houses.

In other news, I woke up this morning  with a stomach flu and feeling like an absolute space cadet zombie in a room that's so messy it's embarrassing. It's like a Trash and Clothing Bomb went off in here and the devastation is incalculable, but my motivation to clean it is...

except I don't have a boss afro. /sigh
So, to that end:

Shit that needs to be taken care of this week:
-wean myself off xanax, learn to sleep/control Feelings Monster on my own
-excavate room
-excavate car (or, as my dad calls it, "de-skanking Audrey's car") (my car is pretty gross, guys)
-hire someone to pimp out my resume
-write something, damnit
-make cupcakes and buttercream frosting from the Back in the Day Bakery cookbook

So I'm off to begin quest for self-betterment, version 6,789.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy [belated] Birthday, Lucy!

I'm a terrible fur-mother. I forgot to mention that yesterday was the 4th birthday of Ms. Lucille Franchesca Von Turner-Stein, Lucy Goosey, Roose Groose Spruce MaGoose, Roose's Gooses, RRRRRRUUUUUUUCY!

our first night
Oh my god, she and Ellie were such sweet baby puppies.

baby basset battle royale!

ah, god, so cuuuuute
my wee behbe wino
 And now look at them...

useless and beautiful

Happy Belated Birthday, you stinky, mis-proportioned beautiful beast! May you have many many more years of eating Mom's hydrangea's, snuffle-barking at the window, walking battlefields, hogging the bed, and chewing on soup cans.

I ruv ewe big, big, much.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Some Good Things

--It took me 2 days, but I finally purged and read through 1, 156 company emails that piled up because I haven't bothered to check them since I moved. (eeek!)

best employee ever!
--I covered the back of my phone in puffy sock monkey stickers because my inner 13 year old told me to:

--Yesterday evening was spent in the company of Daron, mimosa's, cheese, and ABBA.

havarti and sourdough bread: things I could live on for $500, Alex.
Daron and her dad are some Dancing Queens
I'm going to steal this chair
I challenge anyone out there not to just feel amazing when this song plays:

ohhhh, yes, my jam! Seriously. What's up with the Swedes and how everything they produce is absolutely, inexplicably lovely?

--Today I fell into a deep coma nap that was not medicinally induced for the first time in weeks. I sat down to read on my parent's new sofa, aka World's Most Comfortable Sofa, and I was done for. Within minutes, I was splayed out, every single muscle relaxed, clutching my mom's kindle, eyes rapidly moving, drooling, and breathing so deep and even I could hear it in my dream.

ohmygod it was amazing!

But, as serene and peaceful as I felt, I'm pretty sure I looked like a stranded, un-showered hobo in a tye-dye mumu. And I'm ok with that, because I miss being able to fall into an unconscious sleep like that on my own. 

--I'm slowly making my way through the third Hunger Games book. I'm a little worried about how it's going to end. We'll see what happens.

--I joined a gym! It's down the street from me, and it's open 24 hours a day. Excellent.

Good things, guys!
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