Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Getty Villa (Pacific Palisades, CA)

I made a trip to The Getty Villa yesterday. It was so amazing! There were so many different scenes to photograph that I didn’t know where to point my lens. I did get some killer scenery pictures. I might take up landscape and still life photography. I love outdoor pictures. This would be an excellent engagement photo shoot location or wedding photo shoot. The reason I love the Getty is because you drive down the Pacific Coast Highway before you get there. For those who don’t live in California, the PCH is a two lane road right next to the beach. I believe it goes all the way up north to all the beaches along the Pacific Coast but the highest I’ve been is Santa Monica. I happened to cruise by William Rogers State Beach and the Santa Monica Pier yesterday. Entrance into the Getty is free but they do require that you get tickets. You could easily print them and bring them with you. Each of the tickets will have a bar code and time on there. It’s sort of like making reservations at a restaurant. My sister and I went at the 2:30pm slot because it was the only one available. It was perfect because as we were leaving, I was snapping photos non-stop due to the gorgeous sunset at William Rogers State Beach. Parking is $15 unless you’re attending an event that’s after 5pm. After 5pm parking is $10. Here are some of the pictures I took.

PLEASE DO NOT TAKE AND USE MY PHOTOS WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. ALL THE PHOTOS IN THIS POST WERE TAKEN BY ME (FAIL SWEETLY) AND ARE MINE.

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This is their famous pool that everyone congregates at to take pictures. It was hard to take a picture without other people in the picture because there were so many of us snapping shots.
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The sunset from the balcony. It gives a gorgeous view of the pool and surrounding areas.
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Sky shot from the balcony.
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I believe this is an apple or peach tree next to the pool.
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Balcony shot of the pool πŸ™‚ It’s gorgeous!
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Plants by a water fall. They looked cool so I snapped some quick shots.
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The coolest and weirdest fountain I saw there.
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The entrance to and from the parking lot. Isn’t it cool? Even their parking lot is beautifully made.
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Gotta have the palm tree photos. I always laugh when people who don’t live in California come to visit or vacay and they think a palm tree represents all of California. I don’t know why but it’s just funny…
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William Rogers State Beach πŸ™‚
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I love this shot. It’s like the sun is breaking through.
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Balcony shot of the sky.
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Sky shot from the entrance of the Getty.
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Second sky shot from the entrance.
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I love the colors of the leaves. They reminded me of the scenes in the movies.
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The clouds look kind of cool and crazy.
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A beautiful tree..haha I really liked the leaves on this tree.
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Some of the architecture from the inner quad.
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The cafe upstairs! It looks really cool from the outside.
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Look at the fluff on those bad boys! πŸ™‚
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One of the statues of in the pool.
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Gorgeous lily pad!
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William Rogers State Beach sunset πŸ™‚
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Cool plants in the jaguar looking fountain.

It’s a great place to go if you’re into art and architecture or if you’re looking to practice your photography. My sister is a Classics major so she was all for it while I practiced my photography. Pacific Palisades is absolutely gorgeous for those that haven’t been. The houses there are also very beautiful.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

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Bittersweet Treats (Pasadena, CA)

As all of you know, I’m a sweets addict. I get absolutely giddy and jump up and down like a 4 year old when I hear there’s a new bakery in town. Bittersweet Treats is coowned by Linda and Danielle. Linda is such a sweetheart. When my cousin and I walked in, it was as if we knew her personally. She chatted with us like we were her bffs so that was great. Danielle is one of the finalist on Top Chef Just Desserts. I believe I got a glimpse of her? I was too excited for the baked goods. Linda was amazing and piled us with tons of samples. The name doesn’t do them any justice. All the staff were super friendly and very helpful when it came to recommendations. I really wanted to get everything. I sampled the snickerdoodle cookie which was fabulous. Hands down, it was the best snickerdoodle cookie I’ve ever had. I also sampled the banana cream pie, mint ice cream, and lemon poppy seed cake. GO FOR THE PIE!! The banana cream pie was delicious!! I’ve never been a fan of banana cream pie because I’ve never had it the right way. The way Danielle makes it, it’s always right. The pie was so delicious, from the creamy smoothness to the sugared pecans on top, and the crust. There were also chunks of banana in the pie which I loved. It’s really like creme brulee meets banana. The sugared pecans are to die for. I really just wanted a handful so I could eat it separately. My sample was so delicious, I ended up buying a slice. I finished that bad boy in no time. The mint ice cream was also delicious. It’s very hard to find authentic real mint ice cream. I guess they really don’t call Danielle Mint D for no reason. It was so authentic I really wanted to buy some but I was way too full on their banana cream pie. The lemon poppy seed cake was okay. I like the glaze and the candied lemon slice on top but I’ve never been a fan of lemon poppy seed. I hate lemon poppy seed muffins so it didn’t wow me. I wished they had the earl grey ice cream or honey lavender because I heard those were delicious. My cousin got a brownie and a caramel latte and loved both. She gave me part of her brownie too! πŸ™‚ I bought the snickerdoodle cookie, chocolate chip cookie, red velvet whoopie pie, crumb cake, and coffee crumb cake to go. I’m having a feast for my sisters birthday πŸ™‚ The service was excellent and the staff were knowledgeable in helping me choose items for my mother. Linda was a total crack up. After I finished my pie she gave my cousin and I samples of the snickerdoodle cookie. I think next time I will be back for the ice cream and one of the barreos. Those looked pretty tasty too πŸ™‚ I’d definitely be back again. Their red velvet whoopie pies are huge. I’ve never seen a whoopie pie that big before. The decor inside is also super cute. It’s very trendy and somewhat hip. It has a very home-y feel yet it’s a sophisticated business which is awesome because those are hard to come across nowadays.
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The chocolate chip cookie. I’m a big fan of chocolate chip cookies but I like them crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The one I got was a bit hard and I didn’t enjoy it. Taste wise, it was great. Texture was eh.
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Best darn snickerdoodle everrrrr! πŸ™‚ It’s so delicious.
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Red velvet whoopie pie! FINALLY a place that makes red velvet the right way. The red velvet taste like cocoa, wasn’t dry, AND the cream cheese filling doesn’t make you want to gag. It’s not overly sweet which is just perfect.
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Crumb cake..weird color but it taste great! I got this for my mom and she loved it.
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Coffee crumb cake..aka my moms favorite. She’s a big coffee fanatic so this was right up her alley.

You have to give them a try. I’d go just for the banana cream pie and snickerdoodle. SO DELICIOUS!!!

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

world war 2 oatmeal molasses cookies

These cookies are awesome! I’m a huge cookie fanatic. Chocolate chip cookies rank at the top of my favorites but I enjoy oatmeal raisin cookies as well as white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. I was browsing on allrecipes when I saw a recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies that uses molasses instead of white sugar because during WW2, sugar was rationed. I love recipes with history to them and the person who posted the recipe got it from her grandmother. I think it dates back to 1914? Anyway, these are delicious. I like them crunchy and chewy πŸ™‚
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WW2 Oatmeal Molasses Cookies (adapted from all recipes)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
2 cups oatmeal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons molasses
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups raisins
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 sticks of unsalted butter

– preheat oven to 350 degrees
– in a large bowl, mix flours, oatmeal, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and cloves together
– using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until smooth
– add in eggs one at a time
– add vanilla extract and molasses
– add 1/3 of the dry mixture and keep mixing while alternating
– add raisins and don’t over mix during this step or you’ll break the raisins
– chill dough for about 10 minutes
– form dough into golf balls and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes
– let cool on cookie rack for 10 minutes before storing (feel free to eat a couple!)

These are fantastic oatmeal raisin cookies. I used a combination of brown sugar and molasses because I want that sticky and gooey texture. The brown sugar helps the cookies sort of caramelize which makes them super yummy if you leave them in the oven a little longer. These cookies taste great when they’re crunchy and they taste great when they’re chewy. I packaged these babies in cello bags and I’m planning to give them away as Christmas gifts πŸ™‚ I made some white chocolate cranberry walnut cookies last year and my family seemed to really enjoy them so I’m making them more cookies this year! Happy Holidays! πŸ™‚

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

s’more/hot cocoa gift bags

For Christmas I made simple goodie bags for my students. I’m not good at wrapping cello paper so I used Ziploc bags because they’re basic. I bought all the goodies because I was working and driving all over so I didn’t have time to bake them cookies and such. I bought regular and mini marshmallows, hot cocoa mix, graham crackers, and Hershey’s milk chocolate bars. I didn’t have time to take pictures because it was so last minute but the kids LOVED them! They kept jumping up and down and telling me I was the best aide ever..it was a crack up πŸ™‚

S’more/Hot Cocoa Gift Bags (makes 12-14 bags):
4 packets of graham crackers (each packet has 9 big crackers)
2 bags regular marshmallows
1 bag mini marshmallows
2 boxes of hot cocoa mix (8 packets in each)
2 packs of Hershey’s milk chocolate bars (6 bars in each pack)

Each goodie bag consist of one hot cocoa packet, 3 graham crackers (6 crackers in total if you break them in half), 6 regular marshmallows, a handful of mini marshmallows, and one Hershey’s milk chocolate bar.

The mini marshmallows is for the hot cocoa pocket and the rest are for the s’mores. The kids were super excited because they’ve been writing about hot cocoa in their journals. The s’mores were an excellent touch because the kids had a blast trying to toast the marshmallows with a magnifying glass. I had to take the glass away..it was quite the rowdy party πŸ™‚ Feel free to use cello wrap and the like! I was in a hurry and I didn’t have enough cello bags at home.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

guest post by Adam Holland

It has been said about me that I am an oft-complaining malcontent … a killjoy who carries around a wet blanket … a partypooping grinch. In a strange twist of irony, those are just the labels my wife pinned on me during our first Christmas together.

It all began to unfold before I topped off my first cup of coffee that morning.

Traditions
Everyone has their own way of doing things. Back in the day, my mother in-law did everything after the sun went down on December 24 β€” put up the tree, wrapped gifts, made (and fed the family) lobster fra diablo, and goodness knows what else. Christmas morning, according to my wife, revealed a New York City apartment that had gone through a magical transformation.

Thankfully, we don’t have Mom’s desire to punish ourselves on Christmas Eve. Also, we don’t have her work ethic, so we decided early on that we’d go more the way of my family β€” put the tree up a few weeks before the big day; wrap gifts as we go along; and enjoy finger foods the night before (to allow us more time to toast the holiday with my Anchor Steam and her Champagne).

Before we sit down to our biggest breakfast spread of the year, we begin the morning with a cup of coffee or juice as we rotate through unwrapping everything in our stockings. Yes, I am almost 42 and Christmas stockings are probably my favorite part of the day.

Except in 1994.

Neutrogena vs. dice
I reluctantly accepted the fact that all Christmas stocking bric-a-brac was to be wrapped β€” right down to the last candy cane. But my stick was drawn directly to the mud when I realized that my wife had shopped for the entire contents of my stocking on the shampoo/soap/deodorant aisle of the local Walgreens.

Careless? Oblivious? Remiss? Yes β€” she was! Christmas stockings, I told her, were supposed to be fun.

β€œWhat’s wrong with your stocking, Adam?” she asked. β€œPlease don’t start. It’s Christmas.”

β€œDon’t start?” I said, with a crooked smile on my disappointed face. β€œSeriously? You tell me not to start while you’re sitting there with a stocking full of fun?”

β€œFun?” she asked sarcastically, as she pointed to a pile of electronic gadgetry, pear-scented lotion, orange-flavored chocolate and a pair of dice. β€œYou got me dice, Adam!”

β€œWhat’s wrong with dice?” I responded. β€œDice are fun … and they come in handy when you lose dice from a board game.

“When have you ever been willing to play a board game?” she snapped back.

“I’ll trade my antiperspirant and shampoo for your dice and crossword puzzle book. I’m just saying.”

As we again approach Christmas, we still joke about my behavior back in 1994. But she apparently took me seriously, because I’ve been having fun before Christmas breakfast ever since.

And she has 16 pairs of dice, and counting.

Balsam, hollyberry and cloves are Christmas. They are warm, comforting and conjure fond memories of family holiday gatherings β€” when everything was perfect, if only for a short while.

Anticipation of those precious moments is also a wonderful gift. In my home, the aroma that marked the annual countdown was of butter, flour and pecans. Sand tarts always had to be made in multiple batches, because the first batch was rarely even allowed to cool. There are countless variations of this recipe out there, but this version remains unchanged from at least the mid-1950s, when the sweet smell of these melt-in-your-mouth treats wafted through my mom’s childhood home in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Round one of the annual Christmas bakefest: pecan tassies, chocolate-dipped (then pecan rolled) cookies and sand tarts. Confession: All I did was raise my blood sugar by ‘testing’ these wonderful goodies. My wife gets all of the credit for the sweets in this year’s gift bags, except for maybe the fudge that I’ll make later this week.
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Sand Tarts

Preheat oven to 350Β°

2 sticks β€” Butter
ΒΌ cup β€” Powdered sugar
Β½ cup β€” Pecans, chopped
2 cups β€” All-purpose flour
1 teaspoon β€” Baking powder
3 teaspoons β€” Vanilla

Cream butter. Add flour, powdered sugar and baking powder. Stir in pecans and vanilla. Shape into crescents and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until light brown. Roll in powdered sugar while still warm.

– Adam Holland of Unorthodox Epicure

s’more cookies

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These little suckers are the cookies I made for Stylish Food, Melissa Likes To Eat, and Karma Cucina. I received cookies from Duchess of Fork, Life Undeveloped, and Fat Girl Hedonist.

S’more Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3.4 oz box vanilla pudding mix
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup coarsely crumbled graham crackers

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees
– Using a stand mixer, mix butter with both sugars
– Add in eggs one at a time and than add vanilla extract
– Pour in the hot water with the baking soda
– Add the salt and pudding mix
– Pour in the flour
– When the dough is combined, add in the chocolate chips and graham crackers
– Add the marshmallows last and don’t over mix it or the marshmallows will break apart
– Form mini golf balls, place on baking sheet, and bake for approximately 10 minutes at 350 degrees
– Let cool completely and enjoy πŸ™‚

I wrapped the cookies in foil and placed them in Hello Kitty tins. I wrapped the tins in tissue paper and than red cello paper.
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I hope all my recipients enjoyed their cookies!! πŸ™‚

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

cookie swap 2nd dozen received

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I got my second dozen of cookies from Cari at Fat Girl Hedonist. They were white chocolate key lime pistachio biscotti! IT WAS SO GOOD!!! πŸ™‚ They were inhaled in 2 days. I brought a few into work for my coworkers and the teacher I work with said she wanted the recipe! I loved them. They were the best darn biscotti I’ve had. I’m usually not really a fan of key lime but the taste wasn’t overwhelming. All the flavors meshed well together. I like the crunchiness of the cookie and the subtle flavors of the chocolate, key lime, and pistachios. I also loved that it wasn’t rock solid. I usually hate biscotti that way but I guess people usually make it that way? They were delicious πŸ™‚
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Here’s the chocolate covered side
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Look at those lovely pistachios!! πŸ™‚

The cookie swap is awesome..but I think I already said that. Thanks Cari!! I totally wish you live closer to me so I can visit you and stuff my face with biscotti. Wait, what? haha πŸ˜›

Fail Sweetly,
Justina