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I’m Sorry, I Don’t Date Real People: The Best Boyfriends from Books


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Media--whether in the form of books, movies, tv, plays, lithographs, or what have you--has been creating unrealistic expectations of human awesomeness for centuries. You don’t think that people were slavering over Romeo in Shakespeare’s time*? And for good reason: made-up guys are just better on paper (talk about storybook romance!) So, forget real-life dudes. Imagine happy days with the following fictional fellows!

Double Chocolate Bundt Cake

I have learned that there are cake people, and there are frosting people.

I thought I was a cake person, but that’s because I love frosting. So I guess that means I’m a frosting person. I always prefer the corner piece that is covered in frosting and giant tacky roses (whose cake am I eating that has tacky frosting roses? Dunno, don’t care, just give me the frosting!).
 
My fiancé is a cake person. He pushes the frosting off his piece and dives into the cake. We make the perfect pair and can always share a piece. It also makes making a cake for him a bit easier, because I never have to whip up frosting.
 
But, that also means, that the cake has to be phenomenal. There’s nothing more disappointing than a chocolate cake that doesn’t actually taste like chocolate… which is a huge problem with store-bought cakes or mass marketed bakery cakes (all the flavor is in the sugary frosting, and the cake is a bland mess).
 
I’m really proud of this cake. It’s very simple, tastes amazing, and is a crowd pleaser (or fiancé pleaser in my case). You can eat it plain or top it with frosting, but because the cake tastes so good, frosting is totally unnecessary. The ganache adds a little extra chocolatey goodness, which never hurt anybody!

Getting Crafty with the Crawleys: DIY & Downton Abbey

Throughout the first two seasons of Downton Abbey, we often saw the family and staff of Downton crafting. While Cora and Lavinia were seen creating elegant pieces in the sitting room, embroidery hoops and knitting needles were present in the staff quarters as well.

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare!

William Shakespeare was born today in 1564... maybe. Here's the truth: we know he died on April 23, 1616 and we know he was baptized on April 26, 1564. Those facts are enough for most of Shakespeare's biographers, who have decided that his birth and death on the same day of the year is, as Han Solo once said of Luke's being born and dying (or about to die) on Tatooine, "convenient." So April 23rd is the day that bookends Shakespeare's life; he died on (or near) his 52nd birthday.

My love affair with William Shakespeare began in 1991. My brother was a senior in high school, reading Hamlet in his English class. I was a precocious eighth grader eager to emulate my brother, who was four years older but infinitely cooler than I was. On a trip to the Oregon coast, my family stopped at our favorite book store (a glorified flea market), where I bought my first volume of Shakespeare: a worn red copy of Hamlet that looked really, really old. It is from a Scottish publisher -- Blackie & Son, Ltd. in Glasgow -- with no copyright date.

Pretzel-Crusted “Fried” Chicken

With National Pretzel Day (April 26) fast approaching, I have no choice but to celebrate; the Philadelphian in me requires it! I’m clearly not alone: Philly loves their pretzels so much that we apparently eat 12 times the national average.

Pretzels have a long history in Pennsylvania, dating back to the 18th century when the Pennsylvania Dutch introduced soft pretzels to the region. National Pretzel Day was actually instituted in 2003 by none other than Ed Rendell to celebrate the importance of pretzels in Pennsylvania. Although the area is better known for their soft pretzels, legend has it that a Pennsylvania baker “invented” hard pretzels when he accidently left the pretzels in too long. Hard pretzels were also first commercially available from Pennsylvania’s own Sturgis Pretzel House in 1851.

So what better way to celebrate National Pretzel Day than to incorporate them into a delicious dinner recipe? I used Sourdough pretzels in this recipe adapted from Country Living to make another Philadelphia favorite: Fried Chicken! This Pretzel-Crusted “Fried” Chicken is actually baked, but the pretzel crust gives the chicken a nice crunch without deep frying.

Win a Signed Copy of Swissted by Mike Joyce!

This past Saturday was National Record Store Day. Unfamiliar? It’s a day when independent record stores across the country come together with musicians to celebrate their unique music culture. It's a day to lay down your iTunes, break out your well-used, scratchy vinyls, and head to your nearest music store for support. You can further justify your continued commitment to 90’s grunge outfits and band t-shirts, and even celebrate with an all-day marathon of Empire Records.

In honor of this holiday that's near and dear to our hearts (Philly's AKA Music is a block away from our office), we’re doing a giveaway of Swissted, Quirk’s recently released homage to the best in vintage rock music. Swissted is an artistic collection of 200 ready-to-frame posters combining the best in alternative music with modern graphic design. It features iconic bands like Talking Heads, The Lemonheads, Soundgarden, The Ramones, Radiohead, Social Distortion, Violent Femmes, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and so many more! Sorry, though—no Rex Manning here!

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