Could be better. Could be raining. And 20 degrees cooler.

The only things hotter than a St. Louis summer are molten lava and the sun. If the thought “Hey, I’d like to visit St. Louis in the summer” ever crossed your mind, IGNORE IT. Yesterday it was 106 degrees and today it was 102, but felt like 107. It’s so hot here that you start sweating just thinking about going outside. Blah. I’m moving to Ireland. It’s cold there, right? I mean you never hear about Ireland exporting bananas or coconuts, so it has to be cold.

As of right now, my friend is in Spain. For a month. I spent the other night helping her pack and listening to music we bought in 7th grade (and weren’t sure if we should be proud or depressed that we knew every lyric to every Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, and Justin Timberlake song). It was really fun, until she started talking about Spain. She said “I think it’s going to be a breezy 80 degrees when I get there, and it’s right on the ocean so it won’t feel too hot.” Hate. Jealous. So many emotions. I threatened her with her life if she didn’t send me a postcard or buy me something, because…uhhh…that’s just the person I am. I’m not crazy, I promise. Or maybe I am, but people are just very accepting of me. I really appreciate it, guys.

Then I realized that almost most everyone I know is either leaving, going to college, or going to a Spanish speaking country. Or people on a Hispanic scholarship are leaving to go work at a college. Hmmm. I think I just need to kidnap all my friends and lock them in my closet. Would that be weird? Yeah, maybe just a little bit.

In order to ease the pain of people rudely leaving my life, I made cookies. I brought 9 over when I was helping my friend pack and we ate all of them in 20 minutes. I really appreciate people who have similar eating habits to mine. I’ve made these and posted about them before, but for those of you who just started reading my blog (hello, 6 new followers), let’s pretend that I’ve never made these before. HEY, look at this new recipe I found!

I’ve tried 20+ cookie recipes, and this is definitely my go-to recipe. Part of the reason they’re so good is that you get to tear them apart and then squish them back together. Fun and delicious. Could you ask for more? Well, yes. They would be much better if I had put Reese’s peanut butter chips in them. Every time I use peanut butter in a recipe my mom threatens to disown me a little bit more. Also, they would be much better if I had made these with Freddie Mercury. Although that might be creepy…? Since he, uh, bit the dust a while ago. But knowing me, I’d pull a Dr. Frankenstein/Igor and dig Freddie up from the grave. Aaaannnndddd now this is getting really weird.

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies

From How Sweet It Is

makes 18 large or 36 small cookies

2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) of salted butter, melted and coole
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup mini m&m’s or anything else that you love. Don’t attempt to fold in Ryan Gosling. I already tried with disastrous results.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix the flour and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. Boring. I feel like every recipe has you combining the dry ingredients and then just ignoring them. In another bowl, mix the butter and sugars until they are combined.  Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until mixed. Gradually add flour and mix until a dough forms. I made the first mistake of cookie making and dumped all the flour in at once, and then realize I forgot to put the eggs in. *sigh* Fold in the m&m’s.

Divide the dough how you choose (1/4 cup portions for 18 large cookies or 2 tablespoon portions for 36 smaller cookies). Shape each portion into a ball with your hands then pull each ball into two equal pieces. WHACHA. Turn each half so that the rough side of the half (what used to be the inside of the ball) faces upwards and then squish both halves together. Make sure to squish them, or they’ll look super weird. Place the dough rough-side up on a baking sheets. If you’re doing large cookies, I’d leave about 2 inches in between each.

Bake for 12-15 minutes (large cookies) or 8-12 minutes (small cookies) or until the edges are slightly brown. The centers should be soft and puffy. Do not over bake, or they’ll be gross. Let cool completely (or, uhhh, not), and I give you permission to eat all of them at all once.

Why you should never go through old drafts of blog posts…

You know what’s fun? Annoying people. They rank right up there next to Leonardo DiCraprio as my favorite things on the planet. Except, not. I’m trying not to let this one person ruin my life/summer, but it’s not really working. So I shall now attempt to make you become as annoyed as I am, because that’s just how I roll. Ehem. As of a few days ago, the days are now getting shorter. Soon we’ll be back to the sun never rising at all (apparently I live at the north pole or something…). Also, the season premieres of Downton Abbey and Psych aren’t until this fall. And June 22nd marked the 4 year and 6 month anniversary of Heath Ledger dying. Ok that’s more depressing than annoying. I love that guy.

So because I am obviously annoyed, I wasn’t going to blog about anything today because grumpiness doesn’t make for very entertaining blog posts. But then I was going through post drafts I had saved on WordPress and found this from October 17th of last year:

I went on a date yesterday. Yes, my first date. Ever. Who was the lucky gentleman? His name was Craig and we met at the Apple store while he was trying to fix my Mac. It was a bit of a blind date, actually. And it all happened so fast… I mean one minute he’s looking at my computer, the next moment we’re an item, and then I’m pretty sure when he said “Seriously, there’s nothing wrong with your battery,” I know he meant “Will you marry me?” But he forgot to propose and I’m pretty sure he didn’t even know my name. But we were meant to be. I mean, he’s a Mac dork and he has blue eyes. Check.

It would have been the best day ever if I didn’t have to sit through a 3 hour football game. My church decided

And then it stops. So, my question to you is what do you think happened next? What did my church decide? Did it decide that Craig and I should live happily ever after? Are we goin’ find Craig, so you can run and tell that, homeboy? Was Craig actually Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Awkward? Why are the only things I talk about Newsies, Christian Bale, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Do I need to get a hobby/life? What’s your favorite food? Why are you still reading this?

Oh, and I’m sorry for making you annoyed. As a token of my appreciation, if you answer my questions or continue the story of When Picco Met Craig, you can look at the picture of my new sunflowers.

Yeah, I’m really boring today. Sorry?

No! I will not hide in the fruit cellar! Ha! You think I’m fruity, huh? Well, maybe the cake I made is…

If you’re reading this, then chances are you can read. Or you’re a high-functioning illiterate, in which case please excuse me whilst I marvel at your brilliance. That made sense to me…

I feel like you and I have a good enough relationship (even though, chances are I’ve never actually met you. Hi, I’m Picco.) and I can tell you my innermost secrets. Here goes: I don’t read. There, I’ve said it. That’s probably not something I should proudly announce to the world, but as of last week it was true. I used to read all the time when I was younger, but being homeschooled (no, I don’t do school in my pajamas), I really haven’t had a “set” highschool reading list, so reading has kind of fallen to the wayside. What books do normal people read in highschool…? My problem is I have a really hard time pretending to be interested in books that bore me (unfortunately, that also applies to not just books, but movies, sports, people, etc.) and I guess I thought I was too “busy” to read. Busy with what? *silence* Now that I think about it, I realize I spend my free time watching mindless/amazing shows like Downton Abbey, Sherlock, Psych, and House, and listening to mindless/amazing music like The Beatles, Queen, and Adam Lambert. Ok, Adam Lambert is the only mindless one. But I’m going to marry that man someday. Once he, you know, breaks up with his boyfriend and stuff….details, details.

So now that I have become a reformed book addict, I’ve been speeding through fantastic books and basically can’t stop reading. Does that qualify me as a dork? No. I don’t watch Dr. Who. Ergo, me=not dork. Although I think using the word ergo is points against me. In the past 5 days I’ve finished Dante’s Inferno, read Catcher in the Rye (pretty much my new favorite book), and I’m halfway done with Brave New World. I kind of have eclectic tastes when it comes to books, obviously. I told my mom last night “Wow, I love reading.” and she gave me the I-can’t-believe-we’re-related look and said “Um, you should…”

I’m reading now. Check. AND I even ordered frames from Target and framed a Damian McGinty poster I’ve had since I bought it at the Celtic Thunder concert a bajillion years ago. Where did this new-found drive to accomplish things come from? But I weirdly haven’t had any appetite for days. I’m pretty sure I’m dying. I think this is the 3rd? 4th? death scare I’ve had this year. Although this isn’t as bad as the lead paint incident a few months back. Remember that? Even though I was only exposed to it for 1/2 hour, and I don’t even think it was lead paint, I still think that it went to my brain and messed me up for good. I’m going to start speaking in Esperanto or something, because that’s what happens when your brain is messed up, right? I’m not sure why I’ve had this weird obsession with Esperanto lately. I blame lead paint.

No appetite, no desire to check blog stats or approve comments, not answering texts or emails. I’m just kind of blah. What’s wrong with me? I decided that I needed a Snap Out of Your Stupid Mood cake. It’s a wonderful cake, really. Marshmallows, fruit (hmmm…I’m still not totally sold on the whole fruit thing. I only eat it because, knowing me, I’d get scurvy. Which might be a better way to croak than from lead poisoning.), and cake. Delicious. And it helped me behave like a normal person again. Ah, the magic of non-healthy food.

I’m usually very proud of my cooking creations, whether they turn out or not, but I’m especially proud of this one. Not only was it my first attempt (AND SUCCESS) at making a yellow cake from scratch, it also is words-can’t-possibly-describe-it good. I was going to follow How Sweet It Is’s recipe exactly for the cake and icing, but I didn’t feel like melting chocolate on the stove to make the icing (lazy with a capital L), so I decided to make a buttercream frosting. Then I remembered buttercream frosting is made with powdered sugar and it always tastes disgusting. Does anyone else notice the weird taste that powdered sugar has? Blech. So I made a marshmallow frosting, which, you know, is pretty awesome. This is a cake to make when you have rediscovered your love for books, or when you’re in a bad mood, or when you have to accept the fact that you and Adam Lambert will never be together. Sigh.

And yes, I did write Picco in blueberries.

Yellow Cake with Marshmallow Frosting

Cake from How Sweet It Is, frosting adapted from some random website. The berries were my own creation. Impressed?

makes two 8-inch layer cakes

Yellow Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Sift flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl and set aside. Can I just say that sifting flour is really annoying?

Beat butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing fully until each is combined, then add vanilla. I kinda spaced on the fact that the recipe called for 3 eggs, so I only used 2. But it turned out fine, in case you cared. After the mixture has come together, add in half the of the dry ingredients and mix. Add in the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Pour batter in two 8-inch buttered and floured cake pans. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until cake is not jiggly (heehee, jiggly…) in the middle and is golden on top. Let cool completely before frosting.

Marshmallow Frosting

32 large marshmallows
3/4 cup COLD butter
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place saucepan on burner on LOW heat (I maybe started to burn my marshmallows…I don’t remember…yeah) and combine your 32 marshmallows and 2/3 cup of milk. Allow to heat until marshmallows dissolve then remove from heat. Mix, then set aside, ignore, and go watch House. When you finally remember that you made frosting, it will probably be room temperature, which is what it should be.

On the medium speed setting of your mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy, like the opposite of the Catcher in the Rye plot.

While still beating the butter, slowly add the marshmallow/milk mixture, and then the vanilla. Mix until thickened.

One Day in the Life of Picco Denisovich

Have you ever wondered what goes on in a typical day in my life? If you have, then you’re kind of creepy. But if you have wondered in a non-creepy way, you’re in luck. I documented my entire day today on a Netflix envelope. Enough said.

Here’s a glimpse of what goes on in a typical day:

6:29 I had a dream that I was making scrambled eggs and for some reason I needed to add paprika. Just as I’m adding the paprika, my alarm clock went off and I dumped the entire bottle of it on the eggs. These are the things I dream about.

6:30 Woke up in a grumpy mood. Obviously.

6:31 Resolved to get out of bed and start the day.

7:00 Half-asleep I finally got up and got dressed wearing the same dress that I’ve worn the last 3 days. In my defense I bought it from Urban Outfitters and it was originally $70 but I got it for $30, so I’m very proud of my purchase. And it has pockets. Gotta love pockets.

7:30 Half-asleep I remembered that there were peaches that were overripe sitting in a brown bag on the kitchen counter, so I decided to make peach crisp. I googled some recipes and begin making it.

7:55 Half-asleep I took a break from preparing the crisp to eat a piece of gum, and 5 seconds into it it started to taste like vaporub.

8:26 Half-asleep (it takes me a while to wake up…) I finally got the crisp into the oven and began preparing a hearty breakfast for my siblings and me: cereal. We go all out over here.

9:17 Took crisp out of oven, stared at it, and wondered if it’s supposed to be brown. I ignored the fact that it looked disgusting and ate it anyway.

9:45 Went on Amazon to buy screen protectors for my phone, and then got sidetracked looking at Psych, The Beatles, and House merchandise. Amazon has an awesome Psych sweatshirt, in case you were wondering.

10:20 Looked at local colleges to start applying to and almost passed out from how insanely expensive they are. I sound like my mom, but it’s true.

11:34 Started a math packet that my lovely ACT tutor gave me (no, she really is lovely). I may or may not have been reviewing Algebra 1…hey, I got a 34 on the reading part of the ACT and I got a…uhhh…less than 34 on math. We all have our strengths, right?

12:12 Ate yet another hearty meal, but this time it was guacamole. Just guacamole. Well, and some chips, but I ate 2 avocados worth of guac.
1:27 Texted my friend to see if she is free this weekend. I texted her meaning to say “Chillax this weekend? Wanna go shopping?” but autocorrect decided that I AM a felon and changed shopping to shoplifting. Luckily we’re good enough friends that she texted back “totes chill with me, broski.” and seemed unfazed. Thank goodness for people who understand me.

2:57 Looked through the pockets of my dress and pulled out a comb, 2 gum wrappers, a pencil, some bobby pins, and a St. Louis Cardinals 2012 schedule. All of this accumulated just from today. How.

4:19 Read some more Dante’s Inferno. I started that book a few days ago and I seriously haven’t been able to put it down. I’m going to have to get a hip holster to carry it or something. Or I could just finish it and move on. Decisions decisions.

4:24 Had another piece of disgusting vaporub gum. I need serious help.

4:39 Attempted to do some more ACT work

4:42 Gave up

6:40 Ate a hearty dinner of gluten-free peanut noodles. That might have been the most substantial thing I’ve eaten all day. I guess you could count the peach crisp as substantial since it had a stick of butter and a cup of sugar on top of it. And it had fruit. That’s the whole food pyramid right there. Oh, and I had a carrot earlier. I’m set.

7:19 Started cleaning out my brothers’ closet with my mom and sister. Why are boys so…the opposite of tidy? Since I’m really awful at organizing, my job was to put the clothes my sister and mom gave to me into bags, and to draw on the bags. Drawing on the bags was an unspoken command from my mom, because she knows how well I draw stick people and snowflakes all over trash bags. It’s a talent, I know.

9:13 Looked at my newest copy of InStyle magazine and saw the most amazing haircut ever. This:

I’m getting it. Like, now. I’m seriously making my mom set up an appointment tomorrow so the cool chick who cuts my hair can work her cosmetologist skills magic stuff. I figure if I don’t like it (which, psh, how could I not?), it can grow out enough for my senior pictures. Or I can have a really wonky senior picture, which might actually be funny.

10:20 Watched some Alfred Hitchcock Presents with my sister. That guy was so weird and so cool at the same time…next to George Harrison, Christian Bale, and Adam Richman, my man Albert is my hero.

Now: Blogging while eating Moose Tracks ice cream. My eyes are repelling against my contacts and I’m having a hard time seeing, but I’m too lazy to take them out because I’m thoroughly enjoying my ice cream. You know, priorities.

So that’s my life. Pretty uneventful. But I keep things interesting by listening to really loud Italian opera and eating oreos sporadically throughout the day. Speaking of, this weekend I shall marry (Mawage. Mawage is what bwings us togeda today.) Oreos and Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups to create one amazing cookie/thing, and then dip them in chocolate. Of course you’ll be getting the DL complete with pictures. Prepare to start drooling.

Slow and steady wins (second place in her age group) the 5K

In between the thoughts of “Are lungs supposed to not work like this?” “I really should have more Michael Jackson on my iPod.” and “Wait, I’ve never run a mile all at once before. So why am I in the middle of attempting to run 3.1 of them?”, I had a revelation. So you have a lioness ok? She has two sons. She names one of them Mufasa and the other one Scar. What the heck was going through her head that she thought she wasn’t going to run into problems down the road? Exactly. I really should exercise more often because with enough thoughts like that, I could-dare I say it-rule the world.

Let me give you a little bit of my background story. Life was never easy for me. I was born a poor…wait, not that. A few years ago I was a bit of a chunky monkey. Those awkward beginning teenage years weren’t good to me. And that’s an understatement. As I grew out of them (although I’m still not quite out yet), I went back down to normal size, but continued to exercise even less than I already did. So I was exercising less than not exercising at all. Wrap your mind around that. Anyway, a little while back I decided I should probably get in shape, because, you know, I hear it’s good for you and stuff. I’ve already gone through every exercise-type activity from volleyball to pointe, so I thought that maybe I should start running. Since I don’t really like people, but I am super competitive, I figured it would be good for me. Then about 5 different people recommended I should start running. It was creepy. It’s like when you learn a new word, like nuncheon, and then every other word out of everyone’s mouth is nuncheon. And yes, nuncheon is a real word. You will now hear it all the time. Or…not.

I decided that if I actually signed up for a 5K, it would convince me to train. And then I didn’t train at all. As of last Wednesday I could only run 3 minutes until I was on the brink of death. I was kind of (kind of?!) having second thoughts about running 3.1 miles. I decided if I could finish it in 50 minutes I’d be happy, and I figured I’d be walking most of it. Last night I probably should have gotten pre-race jitters, but instead as I ate my peanut butter and jelly at almost 11pm all I could think is how I am so dumb for doing this. So I guilt-tripped my aunt into running the race with me, which was great because the friend I was going to do it with couldn’t make it, and it would have been so depressing to awkwardly run/trip over myself across the finish line and there was no one there for me. Sniffle.

(This post is getting long. Bear with me, because the story gets better. Maybe?) So this morning I woke up at 5, ate another peanut butter and jelly, and then attempted to painfully put in my contacts multiple times when they were flipped the wrong way. I think I was a little tired. When my aunt and I got to the race, we pinned our number bib thing to our shirts (I was representing the UK with my England shirt, and she was wearing a Baghdad shirt. We’re so cultured.), and joined the pack of runners. Group of runners? Gaggle? Apparently the gun that signals the start of the race went off, but none of us heard it. The guy next to me said to me “Uh, I guess we start running now?” So I started running. I had read enough articles to know that that you should always start off slow, you shouldn’t wear the race shirt during the race unless you want to look like a dork, and that seasoned marathon runners laugh at the fact that there are water stations at 5Ks. Hmmm. I was timing myself and I looked at my watch and I was still running after 8 minutes. And then I saw the 1 mile marker and saw I had just run a 10:17 mile. I stopped and kind of gawked at the sign and marveled at the fact I just ran a mile without stopping…and someone ran into me. It was nice to get the first awkward moment of my day over before 8am. The second awkward moment quickly followed when I saw the photographer taking pictures of the runners. I tried to pull a Mr. Ridiculously Photogenic Guy and smiled at the camera. And smiled can be interpreted many different ways. One way is that I probably looked like I was going to hurl.

Long story short, I finished the race with a time of 36:38 and came in 123rd of 231. I was really shocked. Almost to the point of crying shocked, and I’m not an unnecessarily emotional person, in case you were wondering. So I ate my complimentary bagel, drank an amazing orange energy drink, looked at my time, and my aunt and I left. Then when I got home I got an email from the race director. He said that I finished 2nd in the 19 and under category. All I could think is wait, I…ran…me finish race…finished before other human beings…huh? The top three finishers in each age category got an award and we had left JUST before the award ceremony. So we drove back so I could get the award and they didn’t have my award. So I’m getting it mailed to me. And then I found five dollars.

I was on serious I-just-ran-my-first-race-and-I-actually-did-well high, and then I crashed. Multiple times. Unfortunately my sister and aunt wanted to go to the mall and I went with them and almost fell asleep at H&M and Macy’s. Moral of the story is 5Ks really aren’t as hard as I thought they were, I’m already looking at other 5Ks I want to run this summer, and never stop to stare at the sign that says you just ran a mile. Apparently it’s not what cool people do.

And yes, I made cherry pie. But the story behind it is not nearly as interesting as my 5K story…or is it? Tune in next week/post to hear my story about me eating this pie for breakfast. You’re excited already.

Cherry Pie

From AllRecipes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup shortening, chilled
1/2 cup cold water
1 pinch salt

2 cups pitted sour cherries
1 1/4 cups white sugar
10 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Cut the shortening into the flour and salt with the whisking blades of a stand mixer until the crumbs are pea-sized. Mix in cold water by hand just until the dough holds together. Divide the dough in half and form it into two disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled through, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Roll out one disk of dough into a 11-inch circle. Line a 9-inch pie pan with pastry. Refrigerate until needed. Roll out the dough for the top crust, transfer it to a plate or baking sheet, and refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Place the cherries, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium-sized non-aluminum saucepan. Allow the mixture to stand for 10 minutes, or until the sugar draws out the cherries’ juices. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Lower the heat; simmer for 1 minute, or until the juices thicken and become translucent. Remove pan from heat, and stir in butter and almond extract. Allow the filling to cool to lukewarm.

Pour the filling into the pie shell. Cover with top crust, crimp the edges to seal, and cut vents for steam.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree F (190 degree C) oven on the baking tray for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for several hours before slicing.