Category: thirty before thirty

Mastering Macarons, Attempt #3

pumpkin spice macarons So it turns out I was being a little cocky with my raspberry macarons. Because guys, I tried to make Pumpkin Spice macarons, and I utterly failed. And in multiple ways.

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I Made A Fondant Cake And It Wasn’t A Total Bust

First off, who’s the nut who assigned me all these wacky baking projects anyway?

Oh. Right. Me. Fine then.

Here’s my IRL confession: I actually like fondant. I think it makes cakes look pretty and, I dunno, the texture is cool. Overtop buttercream and served with a lovely milky coffee, it’s pretty great to eat.

I’ve always wanted to try making a cake with fondant, and because I hate myself, I wanted to make sure that cake was made with homemadegross-chemical-free fondant. So of course 30 Before 30 was the place to put it.

Here’s the thing: I didn’t actually know what I was getting into with the fondant. Would it be incredibly tricky, like last month’s macarons? Would the ingredients be entirely wackadoo?

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Mastering Macarons, Attempt #2

finished beauties
Don’t worry about that wonky guy on the right. He was the last of the batter, and I sort of cobbled him together with a spatula and my finger.

ICYMI, I’m a dumb-dumb and decided that a really cool thing to try and do before I turned 30 was master the art of making what one person has called “the hardest cookie to make” or something like that. (Sorry, it’s Friday and I’m too lazy to go back and actually pull that quote.)

Macarons are finicky, and they just aren’t worth it, except that they totally are, because one of those addicting little sandwich cookies will cost you upwards of $2, depending on how fancy the place you buy it from is. I’m talking about saving money here — if I can manage to unlock the secret of macarons, why, I’ll be a rich lady.

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I Told You I Had Good News…

it's a baby!

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Mastering Macarons: Attempt #1

This is what the 'rons looked like after ten minutes in the oven. They didn't come off the pan in one piece. Looks like I need to invest in a Silpat!
This is what the ‘rons looked like after ten minutes in the oven. They didn’t come off the pan in one piece. Looks like I need to invest in a Silpat!

Guys, I am not a perfectionist. This may come as a surprise to some of you! Or, well, maybe it doesn’t. Because, seriously? If something doesn’t work for me the first time, I’m apt to abandon it. If something doesn’t come easy, I’m done. It’s not worth my effort.

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Penny Book Review: Cannery Row

cannery row dropcaps

If my love for John Steinbeck wasn’t already official following my reading of East of Eden, this book definitely cemented it in my mind.

Oh, you want a drink to go with this? Here’s what you’re gonna do: you’re gonna go to a bar, ask if you can bartend–but only part time, you really don’t need to work more than every once in a while–and then set up a jug beneath the counter. Whenever someone abandons a drink, or just sort of ignores it for too long, dump it into that jug. Make sure no one sees you, but…do it. Do it for the pals back at home.

Then pour yourself a good glass of that alcoholic Suicide beverage and drink up. (You can also choose to just add random glugs of whatever you have sitting at home. Or just get a six-pack of beer, that works too.)

I don’t have too much time to write about all the reasons I loved Cannery Row, and even if I did, I doubt I would know where to start. John Steinbeck is just brilliant. I love his settings, I love his characters. Everything he writes is so down-to-earth and realistic and accessible.

Take, for example, one of my favorite passages in this book, detailing the sorta-main character’s interest in, and then attempt at getting, a beer milkshake (also an option for a pairing beverage). It’s so silly and perfect, and yes, this is a Penny Book Review, so you get what you paid for. Which is, nothing.

Read the book. It’s short, it’s sweet. It will be your gateway drug into the heavier stuff, like, yes, East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

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Penny Book Review: The Greek Coffin Mystery

greek coffin mysteryI am back from my conference! A summary: it was fun, I hate meeting people, the friends of my friend are my friends. Cheers to getting to D.C. for next year’s AWP! (I’m hoping to find a spot on a panel, or perhaps moderate one of my own…we’ll see.)

Anyway, that’s not what you’re here for. What you’re here for is my lil review of Ellery Queen’s The Greek Coffin Mystery, the next up in my quest to read all of the Penguin Dropcaps books before I turn 30 in November. Read more

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Penny Book Review: BUtterfield 8

BUtterfield 8
A note: the white is supposed to line up with the blue, but that’s a printing error. I think it gives the book character. Makes it unique, in a way.

I’m back! Sorry guys, last week was just…just an ambiguous sort of failure for me. And that’s okay. I can’t control my life 100%, after all. As long as I’m picking up and moving on after these sorts of weeks, I figure that’s steady forward progress.

Anyway. Onto today’s topic at hand: my tipsy book review of BUtterfield 8*.

First, a word about the cocktail. It’s 2:30 p.m. here and I’m day drinking a shaken gin martini. There are so many things wrong about that statement. Okay, just two things wrong. The day drinking seems like an homage to the book, though, which takes place two years after the crash of ’29 but still has that Roaring 20’s feel. It’s actually very interesting–characters are worried about the looming financial depression on the horizon, but they don’t know the full extent of what’s about to hit them. Anyway, there’s a lot of day drinking that happens. Because, Roaring Twenties.

As for the shaken martini–yes, it’s made with gin, and so that’s good, but martinis are not supposed to be shaken. It bruises the gin. Whatever that means. But amid all the alcoholic beverages I could have chosen in the book, one of the characters goes on a rant so wonderful about why martinis ought to be shaken that I couldn’t resist trying it for myself. Here’s the Google Books excerpt, complete with yellow highlighting:

shaken martini

Unfortunately, my martini didn’t come out foamy. Alas!

Onward to the book review, though. After last month’s Five Children and It failure, I was delighted to discover that I was taken by John O’Hara’s novel almost immediately. The way he writes is incredibly refreshing and modern. And the dialogue is almost colloquial–for example, at one point, one of the characters is skimming a newspaper and chatting about the headlines with her friend. He asks for a clarification on something.  Her response: “‘No. The Sullivan Law. That’s uh, buzz buzz buzz buzz. Weapons. Deadly weapons in his possession. By Joel Sayre. This is an interesting article…'”

Do you see what I mean? And let me tell you something else. (Sorry, these things are never formatted point-by-point. They follow the wanderings of my mind.) The character that’s reading the newspaper so endearingly–Gloria Wandous? She’s the most conflicting character in the book. She’s no older than 20 and sleeps around a whole, whole lot. Including with a married man, which is sort of what this book revolves around. And you want to hate her for that, except that O’Hara fleshes her out beautifully. She was molested at a young age by a family friend, and then taken advantage of later by a judge or city councilman or something. She’s smart. She just makes terrible decisions. And the whole book, you’re wishing she would come to her senses and change.

I also love that O’Hara jumps around between characters. He doesn’t even close plot threads, which I think is good, because the main thing driving the story forward is Gloria and her doomed affair with Weston Liggett.

My mind has turned to mush now, so I won’t say anymore about this book, except this one last thing, just to close the discussion: if you like F. Scott Fitzgerald, go ahead and pick this one up. O’Hara’s writing style is different for sure, but it’s engaging. You won’t be disappointed. At least, I hope not.

*Nope, that’s not an “Emily’s been drinking” typo. Somehow it’s supposed to represent the number that one of the characters can be reached at? BU8? It literally doesn’t show up in the book at all, though.

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A Cheesecake Kinda Day

cheesecake win(Cue jingle music.)

ANNOUNCER: Welcome to the EmilyIRL Thirty Before Thirty show! Today we have a real winner for you. Emily’s just made a mint cheesecake! Why don’t we all clap our hands for Emily to show her our support?

Okay, you get my point. But…I made a cheesecake, alright? Read more

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All The Other 30 Before 30 Stuff I Haven’t Written About

jane the virgin and ice creamI should just rename this blog to “Emily’s 30 Before 30 IRL.” Well, whatever. Nine-and-a-half months and I turn thirty. (Heh. Then it will be all about the 40 Before 40, which won’t be so easily attainable. Just you wait.)

Anyway, if you’ve been keeping up with the original post, you’ll notice that I’ve crossed a bunch of the smaller items off without really reporting on them. So that’s what this is all about: a summary of the Lesser 30 Before 30 (including a night I’d rather forget). Read more

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