This all started with an idea. Why should one celebrate turning 40 with a black cake (or cupcakes)? Why not be happy? Go for bright. Celebrate spring coming! I was a March baby, and as I write this post…it is sunny outside. I am sure it won’t last, but I’ll enjoy the late winter promise of spring.
I considered dried cherries, then fresh. Finding fresh wasn’t going to be easy or fresh, the produce man asked if frozen would work. Maybe it would….and off home I went. Helped I had a huge bag of frozen cherries waiting for me there.
- 1 cup unsweetened cherry juice
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- ¾ cup granulated sugar, preferably organic
- 1/3 cup neutral vegetable oil
- 2¼ tsp pure almond extract
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch, preferably organic
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 2 cups cherries, pitted, drained and finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350°, line 18 muffin cups with liners, such as Reynolds Stay-Brite.
Whisk the cherry juice and vinegar together, add to a medium mixing bowl with sugar, oil and almond, whisk until dissolved.
Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large mixing bowl, pour wet over dry, stir until just mixed, fold in cherries.
Divided equally between lined cups, rap on counter to settle.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool, then frost as desired.
Makes about 18 cupcakes.
If using frozen cherries, thaw, drain and pat dry, then chop.
- 1 cup palm shortening
- 4 cups powdered sugar, preferably organic
- 1 tsp pure almond extract
- Unsweetened cherry juice
Beat the shortening with a stand mixer until light. Add in powered sugar, beating in. Add almond extract and 1 Tablespoon cherry juice at a time, beating in, until spreading constancy is reached (mine took about 1/4 cup juice).
The frosting will be a light pink.
Frost as desired.
Now then…how did I spend my birthday weekend?
In a ton of emails one caught my eye awhile back. It was from Lake Quinault Lodge, which sits on Lake Quinault in Olympic National Forest. I have stayed there several times, it was an email with deals for previous visitors with a winter deal. I nearly deleted it, then I took a look. It was a bargain. Buy one night, get one night free, at a fabulous low price ($79 weekdays, $99 weekends plus taxes).
And pretty much all of the rooms were up for grabbing at the lodge. Being that we are a family of 5, I grabbed the Beverly Suite in the Boathouse, which sits between the lodge and the modern lakeside hotel wing. It is rustic, but large, and more so, the only suite (ie. a bedroom for us!) at the lodge. For 2 nights we payed less than $138 (with taxes included). Considering that this same room can run for $239 to $289 a night, you can see what a bargain it was.
Yes, those mailing lists can be a good thing! The Boathouse is the oldest building of the lodge (built in 1923), the suite is the top story.
They don’t lie, you do get a 360° view from the suite, with large windows and views of all sides, especially of the lake. The “suite” is a one-bedroom cabin. Very rustic but comfortable, and yes, large. It has a bathroom (with a very tiny shower), hide-a-bed couch, 3 roll-a-way beds, 6 person dining table, a partial kitchen that has a refrigerator, microwave, sink and a hot plate to use, along with dishes and tools. The bedroom has a king bed and love seat. Lots of ceiling fans and huge windows that open. You do have to climb a very narrow indoor staircase (though the landing before you head up is a great storage area for wet gear and getting boots on). The staircase is NOT child friendly, so we blocked off the top with one of the roll-a-way beds. A baby could take a very scary fall, so be wary. We brought his pack and play for safety. It was a great choice otherwise for our large family. Just be wary of the very slanted ceilings in the bathroom. Our poor teen kept knocking his head. Hehe.
At the price we paid, I was happy. No 5-Star, but for the price it was a good deal. (Although I can’t believe people pay $239 and up for the rack rates for this room!! It isn’t worth that….)
We woke up early on Saturday morning to rain. Gee, no shocker there. It is a rain forest and it is March 😉 It is nice to lay in bed listening to it – and not be in a tent dreading getting out. After wandering around on the covered veranda below – and just enjoying the misty morning, we headed up to the lodge.
Traveling with three kids isn’t the easiest thing I suppose, I learn new things every time. One is a lot of patience. And not over-planning. I let them wander and have fun. The baby had eyes only for the lanterns, his brother, The Toddler, for bossing around his little brother.
Which resulted in “B! You get back here!” (B is Alistaire’s nickname) and B running away. It was one of those moments when life is good and all is well.
After a fun breakfast (yeah, roughing it…maybe not) we set out for a hike. Where upon it dumped as it should in a rain forest. And kept dumping. Our trail eventually ran out, with it under a good foot of water. At least we tried 😀
When Walker was young, I picked up a Deuter Kid Comfort Deluxe Rain Cover to go with our Deuter Kids Comfort III pack. It has been worth the cost, Alistaire was bone dry inside the kid carrier and even took a nap.
Walker, me and Alistaire on my back –
I loved the tree. It looks to me like a large tree with legs, sitting down on the nurse logs (which was taller than Walker). Walker loved playing in the creeklet of water. Finally we got so rained out and with the trail under water, we called it a day. We headed back to the lodge, used that handy landing to dry our rain gear and spent the early afternoon in the lodge’s lobby, soaking up the heat from the fireplace, reading, talking and playing. Lots of other folks were doing the same. Add in a warm mocha and it was very relaxing.
Walker enjoyed finding a tiny rocking chair and a pile of books –
Late in the afternoon, the weather started clearing. Kirk watched Alistaire while he napped and told us to go hiking. I took Ford and Walker out on a short hike –
We found a stream to enjoy –
A set of waterfalls –
And a bridge that Walker had fun crossing over and over –
It was an odd hike in that it was sunny and 60° out!
After, we went out for dinner. We ended up having a 2 hour dinner that was so relaxed I wondered who had switched all my kids 😉 The kids all passed out happy.
The clear skies lasted through Sunday morning. One of the prettiest sunrises I have seen over that lake. We got up and had a nice family hike, all of us, before checking out.
Me, Alistaire on my back, Walker and Ford (Kirk took the photo) –
It was this small window of perfect weather. As soon as we got done hiking and were finishing loading the van, it started raining.
My little hiker, Walker –
The lake was calm –