{photo story} by loopy

Loopy had to create a thematic photo story for her senior photography portfolio. She pulled out her perfume collection (and some of Saucy's) and set up little dioramas. Each one really captures the essence of the fragrance.

Taylor Swift's Wonderstruck

Vera Wang's Rock Princess

Miss Dior Cherie

Juicy Couture Viva la Juicy

Benefit's Ring My Bella and Carmella

Reverence and Pink Princesse

Vera Wang's Rock Princess

Saucy and Loopy are fragrance addicts. They're also easily drawn into marketing schemes like "special editions", celebrity perfumes and perfume collections. The Fan enables this behaviour by treating Loopy to bottles for her collection all the time, and Saucy saves her Shopper's Optimum Points for splurges. 

Loops missed out on Vera Wang's Preppy Princess and isn't to pleased about it. If anyone sees it, let Saucy know.

You can see that Loopy has an eye for photography and some mad Photoshop skills. We've set up a little money-making endeavour for her this summer. If you're a local peep, contact Saucy by email (see sidebar) or on Facebook... she and Loopy are offering photo shoots for one hundred dollars. Saucy will shoot and Loopy will do the post-production. 

All proceeds benefit Loopy's trip to Japan: she was accepted to be a delegate for the Japanese exchange program next year. She has to fund the endeavour herself and she needs to scratch up some major yen for all the Hello Kitty and Pokemon junk she's planning to bring home. Give us a holla!

key lime cupcakes

Saucy had a couple of friends that deserved cupcakes this week. Besides, after Veto said the key lime cupcakes in Chicago were better than hers... she sort of took it is a challenge.

As in... did he just say... awww hell no he din't, gurll hold mah earrings.

So let's make key lime, if it's that important to him.

Key limes can be real little peckers to squeeze. Saucy figured out ages ago that the best way to get the juice from a key lime is to slice it in half and press the juice from it using her kitchen mallet. A very clean garlic press will also do the trick.

For this recipe, you will need the juice of five or six key limes. You'll also need their zest, so do yourself a favour and zest them before you squeeze them. Saucy uses a carpenter's rasp for that task.

Prepare your favourite vanilla cupcake recipe. Before scooping into papers, add the zest of three key limes to the batter (so, about half of the zest). Reserve the other half of the zest for topping the frosting.

Top the unbaked cupcakes with a simple graham crumb mixture. Saucy mixed 1 tablespoon melted butter with 1/4 cup graham crumbs and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Sprinkle on top of the cupcakes, primarily around the edge.

Why? Because you're going to scoop out the centre for the key lime curd anyway.

Bake your cupcakes and cool thoroughly.

making the key lime curd

In stand mixer, beat together one package of cream cheese (softened to room temperature) with the juice of the key limes. Beat on high speed until well blended, scraping the bowl well. Add three tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk and beat until light and fluffy. If you care for sweeter lime curd, add confectioner's sugar, one teaspoon at a time until sweetened to taste. Avoid adding extra liquid, as you will want the lime curd to be creamy but not runny in the middle of the cupcake.

You may wish to add one drop of green food colouring. Use very sparingly! Better to have a natural colour of lime curd inside a cupcake than a garish, unnatural green shade.

Set the lime curd aside.

making the marshmallow meringue frosting

This part will require two pots on the cooktop at once and your stand mixer working simultaneously. Don't feel overwhelmed, just plan ahead.

Place two egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer and get the whisk attachment ready.

Over a double boiler, place 15 large marshmallows and two tablespoons of water. Over the boiling water, bring the marshmallows to a near-melting point, stirring constantly. When they are very close to being melted, turn off the heat and focus on the syrup and eggs.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring one cup of sugar and 1/4 cup warm water to a gentle boil. You can gently stir this pan, but ideally you should just "roll" the pot in a circular motion as the sugar dissolves and no more granules remain. When the mixture is lightly boiling and appears to be a fully dissolved syrup and is bubbling around the edges, it is ready to remove from the heat.

When the syrup mixture is almost completely dissolved, turn your mixer on "high" and start the egg whites beating. They should form soft peaks. While the mixer still turns, pour the hot syrup into the egg whites very slowly - like a very thin stream. The heat of the syrup will gently cook your egg whites.

Continue beating the egg whites and syrup for about one minute at high speed. Turn the mixer to "low" and scoop in the near-melted marshmallows. When incorporated, turn mixer back to "high" for about thirty seconds just to fluff things up.

Your frosting is now ready to pipe! Set aside for a moment... while you fill the cupcakes with lime curd. You'll want to use this frosting quickly, but you have time - so don't panic.

Use a small melon baller to scoop out the centre of each cupcake. Reserve the cake balls for something... or toss them at your dog through the kitchen gate... or pop them into your mouth.


Fill the centre of each hollowed-out cake with about two tablespoons of lime curd. The lime curd recipe will make enough to generously fill 24 little cakes.

Pipe the marshmallow meringue frosting atop each cupcake. You can gently brown the frosting with a kitchen torch if you have one. Finish each cupcake with a sprinkling of reserved lime zest.

And that... Dear Reader... is Saucy's rebuttal to the "best cupcake I ever ate" comment. So there!

{phoning in} chicago

Saucy decided for this quick trip over the weekend to the Windy City, she'd pack light and not lug around her camera. With her cool apps and add-on packs for her iPhone, she reckoned she could document the basics with just the phone camera.

From the moment the outskirts began to appear outside the window of the plane, she was fiddling with filters and lenses, right on her phone.

Veto took her to two Red Sox games. They were visiting Wrigley Field to play the doormats of the National League. Don't get her wrong, Saucy is a bit of a Cubs fan... but the Red Sox trump all in her world so she risked life and limb and wore her Bo Sox jersey to both games. There wasn't too much heckling... although a few people asked Veto how the relationship was holding up.

Vince Vaughn threw out the first pitch on Saturday night. Saucy and Veto had excellent seats... right behind home plate.

Saucy was glad to sit next to this little like-minded fella. He was really into the game and followed every play... he was awesome. Saucy nearly spit out her drink when he leaned over and said "well, that was a colossal choke." It was like sitting next to a mini Ben Affleck.

The next celebrity sighting was seeing the Reverend Jesse Jackson come through the crowd. He worked his way right in front of where Saucy and the little Affleck kid wanted to see and the kid was not amused.

Walking down State Street the next day, Saucy realized that Vince Vaughn was in town for a gig... damn. Some fans at the game mistook Veto for Vince. You remember what Saucy's type is... and Vince is a perennial secret boyfriend around here, so, well.

Good for Saucy.

Saucy was bummed to miss the new Target on State Street - it's not open. It will be nicely broken in by December for Christmas shopping. Only in Chicago could Target occupy such an amazing building.

In the beautiful weather, Saucy and Veto dined al fresco almost exclusively. Saucy adores taking her meals at neighbourhood cafes and delicatessens whenever possible. Nothing fancy... more room for cupcakes that way.

Even drinking water at the table takes on a whole new elegance in Chicago.

The iPhone takes decent tourist shots. The buildings are just beautiful in Chicago... strolling the streets and taking in the architecture has Saucy in her element. She won't bore you with typical vacation shots.

Because, you want to see the cupcakes.

It wasn't near-divorce this time (good thing, because this was an anniversary getaway) but Veto fessed up, the cupcakes at (the ironically named) Forever More Cupcakes might be better than Saucy's.

Um, Saucy begs your pardon?

More about that later. There was no bloodshed, don't you worry your pretty heads about Veto's safety.

Sunday night, game two. Can the Red Sox do it again? Will this relationship survive? Will Veto pay the ultimate price for that cupcake review?

 The blimp sails over the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.

After some yummy meals, some cupcakes, a few deadly watermelon martinis, some ball games that were good for Saucy, it was time to blow out of the windy city... until next time.

She got home tonight and had a crack at those cupcakes herself. The deed is done, she'll post them tomorrow. She'll not have Veto living under the false assumption that anyone other than her can satisfy his cupcake needs.

Just sayin'. It did not sit well at all.

{copycat} starbucks passion tea lemonade

Saucy has quite the fixation on the Passion Tea Lemonade served over ice at Starbucks. She's almost obsessed with it over the summer months and she gets a little agitated when the baristas serve it over so much ice that she only gets two sips of drink in her grande cup.

She decided to take matters into her own hands and make the beverage for herself. She did a little search on Google and she gently probed Roxy, who secured a job there recently and wouldn't spill her trade secrets, but yes, she did confirm that syrup would be required.

Saucy thought as much... syrup. Simple syrup. You can purchase Starbucks Classic syrup at your local outlet, or you can make it yourself.

Simple syrup is truly that, simple. It is one part water to one part granulated sugar. You can make it in small batches and keep it in your refrigerator all summer long to sweeten tea or lemonade. It has a pretty decent shelf life if stored in a tightly closed bottle in the fridge.

See? Just bring the sugar and water to a rolling boil for thirty seconds and remove from heat. Don't overcook it or your syrup will quickly turn into candy

Brew a double-strength batch of Starbucks Tazo Passion tea. You can buy the tea at Starbucks but it's also pretty readily available at most grocery stores. Saucy used two tea bags in one litre of water. She let it sit out on the counter and steep until it was as strong as it could be, then she poured it - with the teabags - into a plastic juice jug to store in the fridge.

To assemble your beverage you'll need plenty of ice, a martini shaker, a pitcher of prepared lemonade (not concentrate, pink or regular are both fine), the cooled simple syrup and, if you have any, some raspberry syrup. You don't absolutely need it, but it adds a little extra kick.

Saucy keeps all of her ingredients (except the raspberry syrup) in the fridge so they're ready to go when she gets her thirst on.

Put some ice in your shaker and pour in equal parts lemonade, strong tea and simple syrup over the ice. Shake, shake, shake it, baby! If you like your drink on the sweet side or you like the extra kick, add a shot of the raspberry syrup before shaking.

Ten good shakes should do it... like shaking a martini. Pour into a tall glass over ice.

 There you have it... passion tea lemonade. For pennies!

we're into it

It's that time again - Saucy likes to share the things she's been trying, sampling and exploring with you. She's not advertising, she's just sayin'. She tried it, she liked it.
Loopy picked out four of the new Revlon Lip Butters last weekend. She's pretty smart and readily admitted that the marketing had sucked her in: Emma Stone uses the phrase "lip butter" about seven thousand times in the commercial, and the names of the different shades are just about as enticing as the giant plate of macaroons she appears ready to dive into.

She picked out Cotton Candy, Creme Brulee, Sugar Frosting and Cherry Tart. The colours are sheer and light, seemingly perfect for every skin tone. Consider yourself warned: Saucy will hurt you if you try to wrestle that delicate neutral Creme Brulee stick from her neatly manicured arthritic hands. Hurt you bad.

If you love cooking with olive oil, you must check out the Oliv Tasting Room. Get this - they have three locations, one of them here in Saucy's hometown. The first in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The second, in Scottsdale, Arizona (the Biltmore Fashion Plaza).  They've opened a store on Broadway in Saskatoon... so if you can get into one, check out their plentiful selection of olive oils and balsamic vinegars. The staff can answer questions about oil and balsamic vinegar the way a good sommelier can discuss wine pairings. You can use flavoured balsamics as a glaze when barbecuing, in vinaigrettes, or on fruit or with fresh bread.

Don't fret if you don't live near one of their stores, you can order online here.

Saucy and Loopy are also into Mio liquid water enhancers. Zero in calories, they're just a little dash of flavour for plain water. Saucy has the peach/mango in her purse and Loopy is fond of the fruit punch. Saucy's not lying when she tells you she had an idea like this a very long time ago (she's not fond of Crystal Light nor those little powdery packets) and it kind of works for her but she'd like to see way more flavours.
Nobody loves doing laundry as much as Saucy does, and a new detergent product will get her heart pumping faster than a fistful of dollars. She tried the new Tide Pods and she would like to report to you that she really likes the scent but she had a problem with the purple side of the packet completely dissolving in the "light load" cycle of her wash. Therefore, consider yourself warned: a light cycle or cold water might not dissolve the pod completely, no matter what the folks at Tide say. But for regular cycles or warm-wash loads, pod away, peeps.

If Amy Sedaris recommends a household product, Saucy's all over it. She's kind of like the Emma Stone of laundry freshener. Saucy had to try the new Downy Unstopables (even though unstoppables should really be spelled with two p's but whatever).

This isn't a fabric softener, it's an in-wash scent booster, which is a fancy way to say perfume for your laundry. The Fresh (blue bottle) really is fresh smelling, the Lush (purple label) is a little too perfumey for Veto's laundry... and Saucy's not really sure about that red one. It doesn't seem to be available in Canada, if at all. Regardless, you don't need many of these little pellets to scent a load of laundry, so go easy on them. They could get a little overpowering if you are heavy-handed. They're also kind of awesome tossed in some less than fresh footwear for a day.

The local Cabela's has opened to much fanfare and Saucy couldn't care less about a hunting and fishing outfitter... until she found out they have a freaking fudge store inside. She rounded the corner last Saturday and ran smack into the glorious counter and its contents and the very next thing Veto knew he was leaving Cabela's about thirty dollars lighter with a couple of pounds of fudge to go. It's deliciously smooth and creamy. Check out Seagull Schmoo (a kind of rocky road flavour) and Snickers (it has little bite-sized Snicker bars on top of each square).

Great. Now Saucy has to start making fudge again.

Check out the cute picture of the fudge! Saucy downloaded the Hipstamatic app and a whole slew of lenses, film and flashes for her iPhone. Phone photography has taken another leap. Digital pictures have never looked so analog. The app itself is only a couple of bucks, film and lens packs are only 99 cents each after that. With the basic app you can take some pretty sweet shots and upload them right to Facebook. Saucy is going to try going on her summer getaway with only her phone to document it!

If you already have some digital shots and want to retroactively add instant nostalgia to them, check out the SwankoLab app. It's "a handheld darkroom for your digital images", this app allows you to give your pictures all sorts of cool treatments. You can agitate your print as it develops, hang it to dry and keep track of your favourite chemical mixtures, just like a real darkroom - but without the smell. And you don't have to worry about anyone opening the door to use the john.

Lastly, we were finally able to catch the premiere of Bunheads on ABC Spark (ABC Family in the US) last night. If you were a fan of Gilmore Girls, check it out. When Saucy first heard about it, just the name of it sounded a little silly but when she heard it was created and written by Amy Sherman-Palladino of GG fame, she gave it a shot - and lurrved it. It's comical but not sappy, with snappy dialogue and some pretty interesting characters. Keep your peepers peeped for old inhabitants of Stars Hollow to pop up in new forms.

That's it for now. Tell Saucy, Dear Reader... because she always likes to know... what are you into right now? Give Saucy a heads-up.

grounds for divorce

Veto came up to Saucy over the weekend with a cookie in hand asking, "when did you make these and why were you holding out on me?"

Saucy gave pause for a moment and considered her answer carefully. It seemed she could either a) lie and tell him she just made them and he should have at it and enjoy them or, b) confess that she made them a day ago but didn't bother to tell him because he doesn't like raisins. Or nuts. Or dried cranberries or cherries. Or oatmeal. He's kind of fussy that way.

If she didn't confess the ingredients readily, chances were pretty high that he'd consume the cookies and enjoy them - they are just that delicious. She'd tell him afterwards that they'd had high quantities of dried fruit and other fibre sources and he'd just laugh it off.

Or not.

It's sort of like the banana situation. Veto hates bananas... or so he says. Then for a while, Saucy was throwing bananas in the waffles, the french toast and most recently she used mashed bananas in a chocolate bundt cake and after she told poor Veto he'd in fact been consuming bananas all along, he got a little upset with her. "You know I do not like bananas," he said. Emphatically. Hmmm. After that, she vowed to cop to whatever ingredient she was trying to pass off, even if it is good for him. She just cannot stand to see him disappointed, brow furrowed, staring disparagingly at a perfectly fine slice of cake filled with potassium.

So, she told the truth. These are what some people call kitchen sink cookies, meaning they have every ingredient in them but the kitchen sink. Veto's nose wrinkled up and he said, "Are you screwing with the chocolate chip cookie? Those are grounds for divorce!"

He's kind of dramatic that way. At least he tries. He said it emphatically two or three times, as he helped her fluff the pillow propped under her sore arm. "You just don't do that to a cookie. I don't know why you would do that."

Um, basically, because they're delicious. And kind of good for you, packed with nuts (protein) and fruit (fibre). And a good bunch of chocolate (the dark stuff is antioxidant, right?).

2 and 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Benefibre powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter (room temperature)
1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup Craisins or chopped dried cherries (or mix of both)
1 large chocolate bar, broken into pieces

Sift together flour, salt, baking soda and Benefibre (obviously the Benefibre is optional but Saucy liberally shakes it here and there, here and there all day long when she cooks for the family.

In mixer, beat brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and corn syrup. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.

Mix the dry ingredients into the sugar and egg mixture.

Stir in the oats, chocolate, raisins, nuts and fruit.

Drop by ice cream scoop onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Give each scoop a little flatten with your palm and press in a piece of chocolate bar.

Bake at 375 degrees for 14-16 minutes, until the cookies are slightly flattened and golden around the edges. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet before moving to wire rack.

These cookies are soft and chewy on the inside with a nice crusty edge. Excellent served with cold milk or divorce papers.

raspberry-jalapeno jam

This tasty, spicy jam makes a sweet gift for anyone who likes things that are sweet... and hot. Saucy made a small batch this week and the recipe put up five jars (250 ml/one cup) of jam. 

She didn't have a recipe but Darling had a jar of this kind of jam at the anniversary party a couple of weeks ago and she'd served it with cream cheese on wheat crackers. Veto went mad for it, so Saucy picked up some berries and got to work. How hard could this be? Saucy makes small batches of jam all the time, as she needs it.

Wash four cups of ripe raspberries. Very carefully and finely chop one whole jalapeno pepper that has been cored. The pieces should be as small as you can make them. Saucy had a small red pepper on hand so she chopped and threw that bad boy in as well.

There's nothing like burning your esophagus on some jam. What the Hell, right?

This is the part where Saucy brags about being a rebel and not wearing kitchen gloves when she chops peppers. She just kind of works carefully with the biggest knife she has and tries to touch only the outside of the pepper. 

She was okay. This time.

Because the insides of the jalapeno pack a powerful punch, she didn't discard the seeds immediately. She tied them in a little pinch of cheesecloth and threw it into the berries after crushing them.

You want the directions? Here they are.

Prepare five or six small jars in your work area before making jam. Jam is hot and can set up fast, you don't want to be scrambling for jars at the last minute. They should be small jars, holding about a cup of liquid each. Make sure they're super clean. You know the drill.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and place 4 cups of white sugar in a baking dish in the oven to warm.

Wash the berries and place them in a large, heavy pot. Turn the heat to medium/high and use a masher to crush the berries. Throw in in the jalapeno bits and the little sack of seeds. Bring this entire hot mess to a boil.

After about a minute, the mixture will thicken slightly. Remove your warm pan of sugar from the oven and dump it in the pot. Warm sugar melts more readily and the process will be smoother. You'll be activating the natural pectins in your fruit and won't want to overcook it.

Bring the sugar and fruit to a rolling boil and reduce heat to medium - but keep it up high enough to continue a full rolling boil. This will be different on every stove. Work super carefully - hot jam is liquid sugar, that's like molten lava. Stir the mixture constantly and use a timer: boil it for four minutes.

Remove from heat, place on a heatproof surface near your work area and continue stirring for two more minutes. You may have to skim some froth from the top of the mixture before ladling it into the clean prepared jars. You absolutely, definitely, have to find the little cheesecloth sack of jalapeno seeds and discard it.

Proceed with normal canning... which Saucy does not do. She's just not that into it and she rather likes to put this stuff in the fridge - it's such a small amount - and she pulls it out as needed.

In this case, to serve with the cream cheese and crackers when friends come around. Or, quietly, in the pantry with a glass of wine when everyone else has gone to bed.

tea time sandwiches

It's very easy to make fancy finger sandwiches and pinwheel sandwiches for special events. Heck, it's so easy to make them, you can just do it for everyday fun. Peanut butter and jelly pinwheel, anyone?

The only thing that might be a little tricky is finding the right bread. Saucy goes to the bakery counter at the grocery store and asks them to set aside a long white sandwich loaf, cut lengthwise. She learned that trick when she used to work there. It's only a problem because you have to plan ahead. Long sandwich loaves aren't made every day and when they are, they're cut into regular pieces to be turned into dreadful white bread grilled cheese sandwiches.

The only thing a long white sandwich loaf is good for in Saucy's eyes is to turn it into pinwheels. She makes ham salad, chicken salad, egg salad, cucumber and PB & J too. Don't try tuna... it's just too soggy for words. Salmon works if it's well-drained and doesn't have too much dressing in it.

Anyway, plan a few days ahead and pay a visit to the store. Ask the clerk to push a loaf or two through the slicer lengthwise and set them aside for you. It shouldn't cost you a penny more than a regularly sliced loaf.

At home, use a serrated knife to trim the crusted edges off all four sides of each slice of bread. Put the scraps plus the two end pieces to aside for bread crumbs to use on chicken and in meat loaf. Waste not, want not.

Use a rolling pin to slightly flatten the piece of bread. You're doing this because it will roll up a little easier and tighter... a fluffy fat piece of bread will want to break while rolling and is sometimes a little too light to hold the filling.

Spread your filling evenly across the surface of the bread. If you're serving it to guests, don't forget to add bits of chive and relish to make it more festive when it's sliced!

This is old-school. This is how Granny used to do it.

When tightly rolled, secure the ends together with toothpicks. Place covered in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. This step is key. You won't be able to slice them a lick if they aren't chilled through.

Again, using your serrated blade, gently slice the rolls after you've removed the toothpicks. You shouldn't make them too thick - about a half an inch will do. They should kind of look about the size of a cookie or biscuit. They're bite-sized sandwich bits. You'll have to discard (um, snack on) the end pieces because they're not super tidy.

You can also use "regular" slices of bread if it's all you have on hand... just trim off the crusts and gently stack bread and fillings - you can go crazy and make a double decker sandwich if you like. Wrap it securely in plastic wrap and refrigerate thoroughly. When chilled, cut into tiny, slim rectangles. This shape works exceptionally well for long thin slices of cucumber that have been peeled and sliced on a mandolin (or very carefully with your kitchen knife).

Oh, and cucumber sandwiches are best prepared just with butter and a tiny bit of salt. Nix the mustard and the mayo. Cucumber sandwiches are supposed to taste delicate.

This is how Loopy ate her sandwiches when she was a tiny wee thing in her high chair - just finger sandwiches in her tiny little hands.

Fancy, fancy. Cute.