Friday, October 28, 2011

like caramel.

Listening To: 20 Years by The Civil Wars
Line Obsession: "... Music is never perfect. It has flaws, it has character. It has to start rough. Especially when that's what you feel." - from There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones

On Monday night, I cranked up The Civil Wars and drove over the river and through the woods to Hannah's house.

The drive was pretty sweet. Actually, the drive was pretty perfect.

Even though I'm a mountain girl through and through, and even though I've seen these mountains for thousands of days, I still sometimes get weirdly emotional when I drive through them in the fall.

I love them in Spring, because yellow flowers bloom sweet and starry on the hillsides and cloud-shadows take their sweet time wandering across the fields.

I love the mountains in Winter because snow tucks them in tight. I like the way tree shadows bloom against snow. Sometimes the shadows look like flowers and sometimes they look like skeletons.

I love the mountains in summer ... mostly just because I love them. Summer is my absolute least favorite season ever but love knows no bounds, know what I mean? Summer does bring fireflies and warm winds and wildflowers. (Also, it brings mosquitoes and sweat.)

But Fall. Fall is the season that does me in. My mountains go wild in the fall. The trees turn yellow-red and rusty-gold, like they're trying to mirror the sunset. Like, they know they don't have much time left, so they're going to show-off big before they go.

The wind howls through the trees but they don't break, they dance instead. The branches make pretty click-clack sounds when they shake their tambourine leaves. They trees flicker bright against the stormclouds, brightest against the blue sky.

I love it when confetti-yellow leaves blow across my windshield.

And when they swirl down ticker-tape-style to the dark pavement while I'm walking Biscuit. And when they flutter in the rain.

And when they finally let go of the branches; when they're finally done as dirt, I like to watch how they fall. Just when I think they're goners, the leaves catch a last-minute ride on the wind. And the wind spins them down to the lake. They touch down on the water, peaceful-easy. Gentle as a kiss. That's when they slide across the surface and write a better beginning.

Change doesn't always have to be painful. Change can be pretty too. 

The drive was gorgeous. I should have just left it at that, I guess. :) 

I took the Civl Wars with me. (... I took their music with me. I didn't actually have Paul and Joy in the car. But I bet they'd be fun on road trips!) I also took a Caramel Cake which, despite some adversity early on (including a power outage which may, or may not, have prompted a call to my power company in which I hollered, "Yes, I understand the power is out everywhere. But I have to make a cake before tonight and I am not finished and can you just pipe like an hour's worth of power to my oven?!"), I managed to complete. And the cake managed to be freaking delicious. My sister taught me how to make this particular Caramel Cake. I think, subconsciously, this is why I was so excited about making it for my friends. I like to make it for people I love, because I think about my sister whenever I make it.

I also think/pray/hope my endeavor doesn't lend itself to pyrotechnics. I'm not so good with kitchens and the like.

The base of the cake is white cake mix, plus a few extra ingredients stirred in. Nothing fancy. The cake-part is not the star of this recipe, even if it does smell amazing while it bakes. My whole house smelled like warm vanilla.

The star of this dessert is not the cake. The headliner is the caramel frosting. That's the part that will make your taste buds shout hallelujiah. I'll link you to the caramel frosting recipe at the end of this post, because it is so easy and seasonal. It would be amazing on so many things. (It's a great Thanksgiving day dessert, especially if someone you love is not down with The Pumpkin.) (By which I mean: I make this on Thanksgiving mostly for myself. I'm very family-oriented that way.)

I also think caramel frosting would rock on a chocolate cake but if you're not hardcore with the sweets, that probably sounds to intense (Or maybe a banana flavored cake? Something with apples? Or, just ... on a spoon by itself? The possibilites are truly endless.)

If you like clean lines on your baked goods, you work a little faster than I did with the icing, smoothing the sides until the cake looks like it's surrounded by thin caramel ribbons. That would be pretty. But "pretty" is never an adjective I associate with my baking adventures. This time I "accidentally" let the icing set up too fast so I had to make a second batch. To cover the sides. And stuff. So it looked a bit more abstract. I like for the icing looks as fudgy-delicious as it actually is.

It doesn't need to look perfect to have a wow-factor to it. Trust.

(Those roses came out of the back yard! In October!)

So I took the cake to Hannah's house. From there, we drove to see Roya. Roya made Persian food; red chicken and potatoes and rice with saffron. I wish I'd taken a picture because the color combinations were so pretty. The food was delicious. She knows how to wrangle with some unique spices. The rice with saffron is a particular favorite of mine; there's a brightness to saffron, isn't there? Not just the color but the flavor. We ate lots of that and then we dined on Caramel Cake and watched Little Bill. (Roya's little girl, Addison, got to pick the TV show.) (Did you know that Little Bill calls his great granny "Alice the Great"? I think that's the coolest thing!)

While I drove home I thought about how much I'd experienced that day, even though it was, by all standards, a fairly normal day. It was full of spice and sweetness though. Every sense got stirred up. It was a day made for jeans and hoodies and Caramel Cake. And good novels and story-songs and cuddle time with my dog. And long dinners and funny conversation with people I love so, so much. It was a day for dancing leaves and falling stars.

A day when roses that have no business blooming this time of year decided to bloom anyway.

Change doesn't always have to be painful. Change can be pretty too.  Sometimes change makes me feel numb and sad and bland. But sometimes it's as sweet as caramel. Sometimes new beginnings make my soul shout hallelujah.

Care to share your favorite part of Fall (so far)? I would love to hear it! Happy Weekending :)

* When I went on vacation this summer, I became a little better acquainted with tumblr. I liked it a bunch so I'm giving it a try again. My tumblr will not be the same format as this blog; I'll be posting mostly pictures and quotes and whatever makes me smile. Think of it like a very-mini inspiration board. It is a work in progress. You can find it here, if you're interested. 

* Here's the recipe for the caramel icing I made (scroll to end of the page). A couple of tips: 1.) I actually think this cake tastes better the second day than it does the first. So it's a good go-to if you wanna make something in advance. 2.) The caramel frosting is a stove-top thang, so it starts off soft but hardens to a fudgy consistency very, very fast. If you can, keep the cake you are frosting beside the stove. You can put the frosting back on low-heat and stir it until it gets soft again. 


  1. That cake sounds really good. Even though I'm usually not big on caramel. :)

    I love that song by the Civil Wars. And all of the other songs on their album.

    I just love the sights and smells of fall. I was feeling a little cheated out of autumn this year, since a lot of the leaves turned and fell during the week we were gone. But yesterday me and Mom went walking on the farm and everything was so beautiful, and the leaves were crunching beneath our feet. And my dad lit our outdoor wood heater, which makes the delicious burning wood smell that I always associate with fall. :)


  2. How I would love some beautiful fall weather right now! Unfortunately we're supposed to be getting a few inches of snow tomorrow...
    Oh the joys of living in Northeastern Pennsylvania

  3. Two things:

    1) My friend Andrew met the Civil Wars. In Paris.

    Jealousy x2, right there.

    2) Your tumblr is all kinds of awesome. :) I'm 82dayss and I'm for sure following you!

    Have a beautiful, sparkly weekend!

  4. Your whole day sounds pretty amazing. Those kind of days are my favorite--where I can't point to any one thing that was spectacular, but all if it together just made it perfect. And your caramel cake looks delicious.

    I love the way you described the seasons in the mountains...I could just picture it all. I've never particularly cared for autumn, but this year I've fallen hard. I adore it. And I basically adore the way you write in general. YES, I just got Paperdoll in the mail yesterday and after several recommendations and much excitement, I can't wait to start it. (:

  5. I always look forward to your posts. They never fail to make my day brighter! And of course, this one was no exception :)

    I absolutely love fall, and it's my favorite in Tennessee, in the mountains. Even though I've seen it a million times--never gets old. I'm definitely planning to take a drive this weekend to enjoy it (if it would just stop raining!).

    Also, I'm a huge fan of caramel. That cake sounds delicious! I'll definitely have to try it sometime.

  6. yay a tumblr!
    i'm so glad your cake turned out well, but i'm more happy about the fact that PB said she wants to make it:)

  7. I love fall too! I used to not like it because I had only experienced Texas falls. It wasn't until I moved to Italy that I realized how wonderful fall can be. I think my favorite part about fall is just walking outside and feeling the cool breeze on my face and the smokey smell of the season. I also love how blue the skies get and all the trees changing colors. And the pumpkins. I adore baby pumpkins, they make me so happy :)

  8. 1. I love your tumblr.
    2. That cake looks amazing!!!
    3. Have you ever watched Doctor Who?

    My favorite thing about fall is the weather, the fact that hot tea doesn't make me break out in a sweat in the middle of the afternoon (I drink hot tea in the summer too :), scarves, dark nail polish, bookstores and usually all the good magical, dreamy, adventurous movies come out in the fall. Like Hugo for this year (HP in the past few years) and Sherlock and such. I love going to the theaters so I'm stoked for all the fantastic films hitting the cinemas. :) I love to spend my fall days (when I'm not at school or work) scouring through Barnes and Noble or reading a good book or watchig a good movie :) I'm sort of a homebody.