Tag Archives: chocolate

Monkey Cupcakes

july1 086Aren’t they so cute??

If you know someone who loves monkeys, these cupcakes would be PERFECT for them!

Bonus: They are SO easy!

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Here’s what you need:

  • 24 cupcakes (any flavor)
  • chocolate icing
  • white icing (only about 1/2 cup)
  • red food coloring
  • mini chocolate chips (optional)
  • Mini Nilla Wafers
  • Nilla Wafers
  • sandwich size Ziplock bag or piping set
  • Black gel icing

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Here’s what you do:

  1. Put some red food coloring into the white icing, This will be used to create the mouth later on. 
  2. Cut the tip 1/4 off of the Nilla Wafers. If you look at my picture, I didn’t cut them in half. Just cut off about 1/4. This will be the mouth area. You will need 24 total (1 for each monkey cupcake).
  3. Cut 1/3 off of the Mini Nilla Wafers. Again, look at my picture, you don’t want them in half exactly. These will be the ears. You will need 48 total (2 for each monkey cupcake).
  4. Frost the cupcakes with the chocolate icing. 
  5. Put a Nilla Wafer on the bottom for the mouth area. 
  6. Put 2 Mini Nilla Wafers on for the ears. I don’t lay them flat on, I put the cut side in at an angle so they stick up a little bit. july1 082
  7. Use mini chocolate chips or black gel icing to make eyes on the chocolate icing. 
  8. Use the black gel icing to make 2 nostrils on the top of the Nilla Wafer
  9. july1 083Put the red icing into the Ziplock bag and cut a little bit off of the corner. Not too big!!! Or, alternatively, use a piping set. 
  10. Put various mouth designs on the monkeys! Have fun!

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Go forth and share the monkey goodness!!

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Living in Romania: Things I’ve Gotten Used To

I have been living in Iaşi, Romania for the past month and a half, which  means I’m about halfway through my internship. So hard to believe!

I have gotten used to a different lifestyle than I am used to. Here is a sampling of some of the things I have gotten used to while living here. This has become my life, and it will be weird to go back to my old ways when I get back to the United States. 

1. Walking everywhere.

I was the girl who had a car, had 3 jobs in 3 different cities (within an hour of each other, don’t worry) and drove everywhere. I am now the girl that is used to walking to get groceries, go to work, go see friends, go have fun, anything. And I love it. 

2. Only buying what I can carry home.

I was the girl who was used to shopping at Costco every other month, and driving to and from the grocery store every other week or so. I am now the girl who that is used to walking to and from the grocery store every time I need something, and carrying it home…or simply going without.

3. Running the water for 5 minutes before I can shower.

I was the girl who was spoiled by the convenience of hot water straight from the tap (okay, sometimes I had to wait, but it was always less than 1 minute). I am now the girl that knows to start the water early when I know I’ll want to shower soon.

4. Paying for drinking water.

I was the girl who was spoiled by the clean water coming through the tap whenever I was thirsty. I was the girl who always ordered water when she ate out, because that is my favorite drink. I am now the girl who is used to buying all her drinking water. I buy it at the restaurant. I buy it from the store to take home. And if I forget to bring my water bottle with me during the day, I have to buy it when I am out and about.

5. Cooking and baking without measurements.

I was the girl who was ever so precise when it came to cooking and baking. I had to measure out everything that went into the food I was making. I am now the girl who is very apprehensive to try to bake, knowing that I am guessing on how full the mug is and if I think it’s the right amount. This is something I totally still struggle with, and I can’t wait to get back to my own kitchen gadgets.  

6. Delicious chocolate.

I was the girl who enjoyed a chocolate bars when I was in the mood. Now I am the girl who is obsessed with Kinder (and Milka) chocolate at any time of day, and am convinced that American chocolate is a joke. As my friend Emily says: “The US probably has some FDA regulation about candy tasting too good.”

7. Lighting the oven and the stove.

I was the girl who was just like most Americans, with the oven and stove that starts right when you want it to. Now I am the girl who is used to making sure we always have matches so we can light the stove and the oven when we need to use them.

8. Hang drying my laundry.

I was the girl who would wait until the last minute to do her laundry, knowing that it would be good to go in less than 3 hours once I finally got around to doing it. I am now the girl who has a tiny washer and no dryer, with a balcony, a clothesline, and clothespins. It takes a few days for the clothes to dry on the balcony. Luckily, we have 7 hangers so we can hang stuff inside, and it only takes overnight to dry…usually. Then we can rotate the outside clothes to the hangers inside. I’ve gotten used to this process.

9. Volunteering all day.

I was the girl who was a full-time student, with 2, 3, or 4 part-time jobs (depending on the year), and still found time to volunteer sometimes. I am now the girl who wakes up, volunteers at an orphanage, goes home and eats lunch, volunteers at a hospital (or a Kindergarten, depending on the day), and then goes home and eats dinner. And most nights, I am on my computer becoming best friends with Boardmaker with Speaking Dynamically Pro as I make boards for the 15-year old I work with. Or, you can find me trying to think of ways to adapt games that I love to play, so that he can play them as well. And I love it.

10. Leaving the windows open.

I used to be the girl who would leave my house and not worry about if I’d remembered to leave my windows open or not. I am now the girl that has to remember to crack the windows open before I leave to avoid mold. And I must say, my roommate and I have gotten pretty good at remembering!

However, I realize that when I get back home, most of these things that I’ve gotten used to will no longer be applicable to me in America.
And that’s okay.
It is simply two different lifestyles, and I love them both.

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The Freshman & The Super Senior

My roommate Madeline and I are very different….yet we love each other just the same!

RoomiesThat’s me on the left, and Madeline on the right.
As of this post, we have lived together for 13 days.
We are both doing the same internship in Romania.
That’s how we met. 

College:
Madeline: Freshman

Me: Super Senior (5th year)

We have to leave by 7:30 to get to the orphanage on time:
Madeline: I need sleep! I haven’t gotten up this early since early morning seminary in high school! I don’t know how I’m gonna do this.

Me: I got this. I worked early morning custodial for 22 months (4am-7:30am) during college. And I’ve been getting up before 7 for most of my college career.

Ceapa (onions):
Madeline: Oh, and we can put onions in it!

Me: Or we can just pretend onions don’t exist!

Buying things:
Madeline: We should add that to the grocery list.

Me: Do we really need it? I’m all about the cheap life…saving money….

Pink:
Madeline: Should we get the blue one or the…oh wait…

Me: PINK!!!!!!!! Get the pink one! Get all the pink things!

Chocolate:
Madeline: This is amazing! We may need to get some every week.

Me: Well..
Madeline: Okay, semi-weekly then.
Me: I was thinking more like every other week…
Madeline: Ok, well I will buy it every week, and you will just be jealous.

Me: Again, the cheap life.

Family contact:
Madeline: I email my family every night about what happens.

Me: I emailed my mom last week and she still hasn’t responded…and I’ll probably email her next week…I’ll just probably tell her all about it when I get home. 

Chicken:
Madeline: I don’t want to cook the chicken since we don’t know how to use the oven yet.

Me: We could learn…or we could cook it on the stove….
[I proceeded to teach her how to cook chicken on the stove]

Apartment:
Madeline: It’s so cool! It has a fridge! And look, our own stove and washing machine and sink!

Me: Is this your first apartment?
Madeline: Yes!!
Me: Ah. I see. I moved out like 7 years ago…which is probably why I’m not as excited as you are…

The first time rain was in the forecast:
Madeline: I need to find my umbrella before we leave

Me: Don’t worry, I already have mine. It’s big enough for both of us.
[We were out walking, it started raining, so I pull out my umbrella]
Me: Look, it’s rainbow colored!
Madeline: Oh my gosh, I’m doomed. That screams “I’m American!” They told us to try and blend in! Put it away!
Me: Are you for reals right now? It’s raining, and you want me to put it away?
Madeline: Uhm…yeah….
Me: But it’s so pretty! Look at all the colors! You know what, you’re right.

Umbrella:
Me: Look, the little shops on our block sell umbrellas! I’ll go buy an acceptable one.

[We go down to one of the vendors with umbrellas]
Me: This one is dark and has flowers…is that okay?
Madeline: There’s a pink one…
Me: PINK!!! 
[I proceed to buy a plastic pink umbrella, and I am thrilled! Madeline approved!]
[Walking away, her with her black umbrella, me with my pink one]

Me: Thanks for letting me buy the pink umbrella, and letting me use it!
Madeline: You were just SO HAPPY that it was pink. And it’s Romanian. How could I not let you?

Hair:
Madeline: Short straight pixie cut

Me: Medium length and curly

Fashion:
Madeline: I just LOVE European fashion, it’s so pretty!

Me: I don’t care about fashion, I just do what I want.

Grocery list:
Madeline: Oh, let’s write that on the list

Me: Oh, it’s gotta be in Romanian! Where’s the dictionary?

Bell peppers:
Me: Oh, and let’s add bell peppers!

Madeline: Let’s pretend they don’t exist!

What DO we have in common? We both love the Milka raspberry crème chocolate bars. And Kinder Surprises.

I LOVE THIS GIRL.

Chipmunk Roomies

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One Week of Learning

Bună ziua (hello)! I’ve been in Romania for almost a week now, and here is a bit of what I’ve learned so far:

1. Streets don’t need names displayed.

You can just use landmarks. We were walking on the streets in Iasi with our Romanian friend, we’ll call her Mary, and she was showing us how to get somewhere. She said something like “when you get to this street, you turn left.” I asked her what the name of the street was and she said “I don’t know, you just turn left here at this building.” Then I noticed that there were no street signs, so I asked her about them. She said “It’s not like there in America with fancy street names you can read. Sometimes you will see a street name on a building, but you don’t need them.” And she was right! It’s been a week and we’ve figured out how to go many places, just by using landmarks.

2. Trams don’t need flashing lights.

Just be aware! Right outside my window there is a big traffic circle, with tracks running right through it. When a tram comes, it just comes and cars have to notice it. And they do! I haven’t seen an accident yet! And when you are walking, you walk right across them, and if you see a tram coming, you just have to stop. Even kids know this – I saw two young girls walking around, and they looked, stopped, and waited for the tram to pass before they crossed. Yes, they were standing very close to it, but still. No flashing lights to warn them, they just knew. We just need to be observant. I think that’s how it should be.

Iasi Tram

3. Make linguistic mistakes.

I told my Romanian neighbor and friend, Bianca, that we had onions and pepper for dinner…not what I meant to say. I couldn’t figure out why she was laughing, until she was able to collect herself and explain it to me….boy, that would’ve been disgusting! It took me less than 24 hours to make my first real Romanian linguistic mistake…it took me about a year in ASL. Romanian is hard!

4. ASL is not a substitute for Romanian.

I am struggling to learn Romanian, even though I am practicing every day. When I am out and about, I find myself using ASL (American Sign Language) when I don’t know the Romanian word for something…not my best tactic, I know. It turns out alright, though…I start with English, then pause as I try to think of the Romanian word. During that pause, I use ASL, and when I see that it’s going nowhere, I use gestures, which seems to work itself out. I just really need to learn Romanian….fast!

5. Skittles taste better in Romania. And so does chocolate.

My friend Emily said that the US probably has some FDA regulation about candy tasting too good. I might have to agree. I mean, why does European chocolate ALWAYS taste better than American? It’s just not fair. At least I can enjoy it while I’m here. And the Skittles…I don’t know how to describe it, but let’s just say they have a more intense flavor. 

6. American music is popular worldwide.

I didn’t realize how far American music travels! At the mall on our first day, we heard songs from Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Carly Rae Jepsen, and people I don’t even know, but I know the songs. Oh, and most of the songs aren’t censored. Also, at the orphanage we are volunteering at, they have the radio on. The DJs are talking in Romanian, but playing American songs in English. I was pretty excited when Return to Innocence by Enigma came on, that’s for sure!

7. Not everything needs to be told.

Some people asked me to update my blog all the time about everything I do. First of all, ain’t nobody got time for that. Second thing, you don’t have time to read that. Third, I want to keep some of these experiences between me, the other people who are here with me, and my journal. Not everything needs to be told. Yes, I will update y’all about what is going on in general, or specific trips that I make. However, a lot of things that happen, you may never know about unless you sit down with me, or call me on the phone, and ask to talk about it. My roommate, bless her heart, is a Freshman and I don’t think she’s lived away from her family for very long. It’s been 7 years for me, so we are just on opposite ends of the college spectrum. However, I love her! She Skypes or emails her family every day, I think…and sometimes when stuff happens, like dinner becomes a disaster, she says “I have to tell my mom what just happened!” and I’m over here like “I’ve ruined so many dinners in my lifetime, my mom wouldn’t expect anything less.” Home will be there when I get home. For now, I’m living in the moment, and loving it!

8. WiFi is not essential.

I do feel that internet is essential, especially because I have assignments to do for my internship here in Romania. However, there are other things to do besides being on the computer. In my apartment, we have a USB that connects us to the internet. If my roommate is using the USB, I have to wait until she is done. That happens a lot, considering my point above, and I’ve come to not mind so much. I find myself doing things like studying Romanian, writing in my journal, and reading. If we had wifi, then my iPhone AND my computer would always have internet, and I’d just be on Facebook all the time, probably. I think that when I move back to Texas in June, I will not have WiFi on my list of essentials as I look for my new abode. I think I could settle for USB internet. 

9. It’s important to make it feel a little bit like home.

I’m this far from home. I don’t know how many miles it is…..but I’m this far:
Map

I left Utah (A on the above map) and 30 hours later I am in Iasi, Romania (B on the above map). However, Texas will always be home, and flamingos will always be “me,” so I brought that part with me. No matter how far I am from home, I have a little piece of home with me. 

Piece of HomeI think it’s important to take familiar things with you when you travel. That way, when you get “home” after a long day, it feels like home. And I foresee many long days ahead of me for the next 3 months.

10. Bread is hard to cut without a bread knife.

Yes, we could just buy a bread knife..but we’d rather save money. Well, considering how cheap the bread is, we can probably afford a bread knife. This beautiful loaf (pictured with my beautiful roommate) was only 2.50 lei (75 cents).

Bread

It is some of the most delicious bread I’ve ever had! We bought a smaller and more expensive loaf today, which is easier to cut with the knife we have…but we ended up just tearing pieces off, anyways. I love the abundance of fresh food here. 

I know I still have a lot to learn. I’ve only been here a week, and I have 11 weeks left!

Here’s to a lifetime of learning ahead!

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Reindeer Cupcakes

Merry Christmas!

These are some of the easiest cupcakes ever!

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For each cupcake, you will need:

  • chocolate cake mix
  • chocolate icing
  • two mini pretzels
  • one Nilla Wafer
  • one brown or one red M&M
  • two white M&M’s
  • black gel icing

Here’s what you do:
1. Make the cupcakes according to directions on the box.
2. After they are cool, frost one cupcake.
3. Add a Nilla Wafer for the face.
4. Add two pretzels for antlers.
5. Dip one side of the brown or red M&M in the frosting.
6. Place it on the Nilla Wafer for a nose.
7. Put the two white M&M’s on for eyes.
8. Using the black gel icing, put a small dot on each white M&M to finish the eyes.
9. Repeat with the rest of the cupcakes.

Friendly tip: Don’t frost all the cupcakes first, and then expect to go back and add the toppings. The icing will harden as you go, so do each cupcake right after you frost it. 

Where do I find white M&M’s? Well, I got mine at a party supply store, Zurchers. They have M&M’s there that you can buy by color. So I’d suggest checking with your local party supply store. If you can’t find them, you can also just use upside-down white chocolate chips!
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Aren’t they so cute?

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Let me know how yours turn out!

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Phil and Lorena

I got to see Phil and Lorena tonight! They’re my grandparents that live in Vegas. They come to Houston every few years or so…and I love when they do! Tonight we went and saw the movie Sherlock Holmes, and then ate at Applebees. But of course it wasn’t as simple as that! We had the intention of seeing Avatar, but it started at 5…and Sherlock Holmes started at 4:25…and it was currently 4……and so we chose the earlier one, obviously. AND we had the intention of eating at Texas Road House (BEST ROLLS IN THE WORLD!), but the wait was 75-85 minutes….so we went to Applebees. I don’t remember the last time I was there……I’m sure I’ve been. Oh well, who cares…I went tonight! I had fajitas. They weren’t the best fajitas I’ve had, but they weren’t completely unfortunate!

OH AND they brought me some Ethel’s Chocolate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE ETHEL M. CHOCOLATES!!! <<((click on that))<<

And we decided that next time I go visit them in Vegas we’re going to see The Phantom of the Opera! I’m so excited! Once I’m back in Utah, I think I’ll get to see them much more often because I’ll be closer.

I can’t wait!

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