We had our Young Women in Excellence activity tonight. The theme was "Your Once Upon a Time is Now," based on the talk "Your Happily Ever After," given by President Uchtdorf in the April 2010 General Conference.
My second counselor made this cake! It was sooo amazing. And so perfect for our theme. (And it tasted delicious too!)
Little crown favors. (And the little tulle bags have mini "glass" slippers and raspberry M&Ms.)
Luckily the Relief Society had tons of lace we could borrow. And a piano. And a podium. And electric tea lights. And flowers. . . . Basically, thank goodness for the Relief Society.
Our girls displayed some of the projects and experiences they had done with Personal Progress this year. (One of our girls even finished the program!!! I'm so happy for her!)
My first counselor (and friend) Kerri and I are thrilled it's all over.
But look at their faces. All the work was worth it for them. :)
Last weekend I went to DC for the National Book Festival where I saw Lois Lowry, Jerry and Eileen Spinelli, Jeff Kinney, Jewel, and R.L. Stine.
In honor of Mr. Stine, I took a creepy stalker picture of him and Jewel. Jewel probably wouldn't appreciate it. R.L. (or Bob, as it turns out his first name is) probably would. I mean, he's kind of made his living off the creepy.
All those inspirational authors made me want to go home and write. Which is weird . . . because I'm not much of a writer.
Although, in all fairness, I haven't written a word since getting home. Meh. Maybe one day.
Well, today was a sad day. It was friend and coworker (but mostly friend) Lisa's last day at Highlights. We will miss her!
It's kind of a thing to take pictures with Giggy. We encourage our tour groups to do it and we encourage ourselves to do it. But Lisa had been here an ENTIRE year without getting her picture taken with her head inside the giganotasaurus's mouth.
And that just wasn't going to work.
So here it is: Our photoshoot with Giggy! (And thank you to Linda who stayed after work to take all the pictures!)
Oh, and then we decided to let Spot join in the fun.
We took him on a walk and--
Oh no! A dinosaur!!!
Luckily Lisa is really good at bringing people together.
Oh, and an added bonus: Bailey in bowtie! What a dapper gentleman.
That's right. I'm now "old." (Well, according to my Young Women.) 24. Oy vay.
To ring in the new year, Mom and Caitlin came to visit and we went to NYC! We went on a tour at 30 Rock, which pretty much was a dream come true. I got to see the SNL set, soooo...yup. Pretty cool.
We had dinner at Ruby Foo's, saw "Anything Goes" on Broadway, and had the following dessert from Junior's:
The next day was all shopping on 5th Avenue (you know, classy places like Tiffany's, Saks . . . and the American Girl store.),
then a tour through Central Park and a visit to the Met.
On our way out of town, we passed through Times Square on our way to eat dinner at Junior's and to pick up my birthday cake!
Yup, here it is. It was amazing.
Maybe some of the best cake I've ever eaten. Of course, I am only 24. I may come across one that is better in the upcoming years. But I'm not hopeful. It's a shame to have peaked so early in life--but it was worth every bite.
All I can say is I'm sorry you weren't at my ward's potluck this afternoon, mainly because it means you didn't get to eat this:
"Oh! Tell me more about this creation!" you're saying. Well, OK.
It's a salted caramel chocolate shortbread bar. Uhh...yup. It's like I combined everything good in this world into one dessert. And it was amazing.
So, because you missed out on eating it today, here's the recipe so you can make it on your own. I hope you're not afraid of butter and sugar...they're kind of key ingredients.
Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars
Yield: about 5 dozen small bars
For the shortbread layer:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
For the caramel layer:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp. light corn syrup
2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk
For the chocolate layer:
8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp. light corn syrup
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Fleur de sel or sea salt, for sprinkling
To make the shortbread layer, preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir with a fork to blend, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well blended, about 1-2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed blend in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and press in an even layer over the bottom of the pan. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden. (If the crust puffs up a bit while baking, just gently press it down while it is cooling.) Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.
To make the caramel layer, combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, stirring constantly. Continue simmering and stirring until the mixture turns an amber color and thickens slightly. Pour the mixture over the shortbread layer, smooth the top, and allow to cool completely and set. (I chilled at this stage to ensure that the caramel layer would not melt when the warm chocolate was added.)
To make the chocolate glaze, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour evenly over the caramel layer and use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Allow to cool for a minute or two and then sprinkle with fleur de sel. Chill, covered, until ready to slice and serve.
(I got the recipe from the blog Annie's Eats. It's like it was made for me!)