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Chocolate perfection and a tiny little secret


Perfection...a big claim, I know. And as for the tiny little secret, well, we'll get to that in a minute. For now I want to tell you about the most marvelous, the most delicious and decadent thing I've tasted in quite some time. On second thought, replace 'quite some time' with 'my whole life'. Seriously. Hence the title. Let's get to it, shall we?

This cake, this Double Chocolate Layer Cake, is AMAZING. This is what I brought to my extended family's Thanksgiving. And they were thankful, oh they were thankful. The cake is so moist and soft, the frosting rich and ganache-y, the results divine. And all from my kitchen! Which leads me to that tiny little secret.

I've been keeping something from you. I'm quite ashamed to admit it because it shows my utter selfishness and disregard for your own personal enjoyment. But here goes: (deep breath) there's a blog I've been reading called smitten kitchen and it's a food blog and it's wonderful and all the recipes are delicious and I've known about it for months and I didn't want you to know about it because I wanted to keep it all to myself so I could make the prize-worthy food and not you. Ok? There, I said it.

Now that I've got that off my chest, there's an excellent food blog by the name of smitten kitchen that I think you should visit! I discovered it by visiting luke's blog one day, and now I'm hooked. The food is heavenly, the pictures are gorgeous and the posts are clever, well-written and witty. You're going to love it. It's where I discovered this Double Chocolate Layer Cake, which I have already made twice. The cake is so good that I saved a piece for my sweet geno (after I had already eaten my own piece), and then ate his before he even had a chance. Sorry honey! I've made a few other recipes from smitten kitchen, I've wanted to eat the entirety of them and I have plans to make many more. And with that, I have officially added this gem of a site to my little 'links' section over there in an effort to be a better sharer. Enjoy!

Disneyland...in pictures


the view from our room (thanks pam!)

testing the bed (standard prodecure)

geno and the matterhorn

the best salad i have ever eaten in my life
....so good i ate it twice...

the new nemo ride!

geno's artful photography


my photography (less artful, higher handsome quotient)

our beloved stone!

what, you say?
this picture isn't from disneyland?
that's right! it's the newest addition to our extended family!
hello audrey! congrats cathy and jon!



This past Saturday was a day to remember in the younger Pensiero household...

We purchased our first wreath! A momentous occasion, to be sure, simply because we've never ever had one before. It certainly adds a bit of color to our beige and white exterior, and I'm excited to add yet another touch of Christmas to our lives. Geno is a dear about selecting home decor with me and always adds excellent input as we make these little decisions. Thanks, honey!

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

'Tis the Season


I have officially broken out the 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' soundtrack to ring in the holidays. (Actually, I broke it out two weeks ago when geno wasn't home, but we won't count that time.) I know Thanksgiving is still 5 days away, but it's already Christmas in my heart!

For those of you who have never had the privilege of listening to this pleasant music, hear this: it is, to me, the epitome of Christmas excitement in musical form. Please do yourself a favor and download it from the itunes music store.

For those of you...fascists...who refuse to let the Christmas season ring itself in a bit early, please do yourself a favor and relax your "standards". Those "standards" are probably the very thing that has been keeping you up at night with the terrible fear that you've forgotten to do something. That something is Christmas. Early.

Happy (almost) Christmastime!

Happy Halloween


This post is a bit late in coming, but I assure you it is worth it. You see, at the apartment complex where geno and I live there are a number of elderly people. In fact, the complex was originally designed and marketed as "an active senior community", but apparently it was overpriced and they couldn't fill it up. Which leads us to where we are today: half elderly shut-ins, half the rest of us. It's a relatively quiet complex, and we like it quite a bit. And here's why...

After about two weeks of living here we found a paper taped to our door. At our old complex this usually meant something bad, like a rent increase, so we rolled our eyes in unison as we approached our door. IF ONLY we could've known what excitement awaited us, we would have never rolled a single eye, never sighed a big annoyed sigh. What we found on our door was a newsletter...but not just any newsletter. Believe me when I tell you that this is not your ordinary newsletter. THIS newsletter is drafted each month by the self-proclaimed President, Founder, Social Chairperson and Editor-in-Chief of the "Butterfly Tenants Club". And I'm not exaggerating. These are the names that she lists for herself on said newsletter. And OH the laughter that ensues every month when we see it on our door. These newsletters have been known to be four or five pages long, always have the most atrocious grammar and spelling, and occasionally include hand-drawn comic strips. Oh, and poems. And I almost forgot - invitations to attend and/or act in the play that this lady wrote, produced and directed. (She made sure to include all those accolades in the August newsletter.) People, I am not making this stuff up.

Soon I will scan some of these newsletters so you can enjoy them for yourselves, but for now I wanted to share one special thing our Social Chairperson did for us recently...

Happy Halloween to us! (In case you're wondering what that big "B" looking thing is in the picture, it's the symbol/drawing of a butterfly which identifies us as "The Butterfly Tenant's Club".) We found this in a plastic bag on our doorstep on October 30th. And although the sentiment is very nice and thoughtful, we shall not be eating it. ...because it expired on February 17th of 2007. Mmmmm! Keep 'em coming, lady chairperson!

What has been lost...


...can usually be found. I think. Or at least I hope, because I've lost my voice. Yep. At this point in my life's history I can hardly string two raspy, hoarse words together before they move themselves into whisperings. I don't mourn the loss, but it is weird. And kind of fun. When I was a kid I used to WISH that I would get laryngitis and go to school and be the center of attention all because my voice had magically disappeared. What a spectacle that would be! (You used to wish it would happen to you too, don't lie.) SO on Thursday, when my voice got a little tiny bit distorted due to what I now know is my second sinus infection in just as many months, I confess I got a little bit excited. I had never seen this odd wish of mine fulfilled and maybe I would lose my voice this time and be the talk of the elementary school, she thought. Well...you get the picture. As it turns out I did get that wish, and I was the talk of the elementary school - as long as you count a 6-year-old asking "why do you sound like a mouse today, Mrs. P?" as 'talk'. I sure do. Another precious first grader told me that he hoped I would feel better after drinking some water and taking a pill, as that usually works for all his maladies. Interesting on many levels. Beyond that, I had third graders who gave me their mom's home remedies for sore throats: water, coffee, tea, special tea with honey, and chihuahuas. Yes, someone actually recommended 'chihuahua' as a remedy as he pointed to his throat. I said "the dog?" and he said "yeah". The kids at my school are just...precious.

After heading home, barely being able to squeak out a hello and I love you to my dear husband (who has been lovingly taking care of me, lo, these many days (he cleaned the ENTIRE apartment while I was at work on Friday. BEAUTIFUL. I almost cried, it was so nice of him and soooo spectacularly clean) thanks honey!), we headed to the doctor where I desperately tried to audibly describe my symptoms with a voice box that just wouldn't cooperate. Luckily gene was with me to fill in the gaps or I might still be there, struggling to communicate. With a round of antibiotics and orders not to talk, life goes on. We'll see how I do with the not talking part...so far not so good. But funny.

I was going to leave you with a picture of a real larynx, inflamed and everything, but it only took 5 seconds on a google image search for 'laryngitis' to dissuade me from doing so. It was gross and unseemly. Just trust me.

Congratulations are in order...


(look at his precious zero-days-old face!)

And who knows...


A while back I was reading the book of Esther (in the Bible) and came across these verses:
"Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, 'Do not imagine that you in the king's palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?'" -esther 4:13-14
The Lord impressed me with this. I've heard many Bible studies on the words Esther speaks a few verses down: "and if I perish, I perish" (v.16), and the faith it took for her to say such words to a powerful king. But I really took to these words:
...and who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?...
Who knows? Who knows whether we've been placed at our jobs to witness to that one person? Who knows whether we've attained a high (or low) standing in our communities just so we can share the love of Christ to the people we meet there? Of course, the Lord knows. But isn't it utterly exciting to think that today could be the day the Lord wants to use us?! Mordecai had the foresight in this situation to know that the Lord would deliver His people one way or another, but he encouraged Esther to be a part of making it happen. Who knows...you might get to lead someone to Christ today.

I pray you do!

(For a more in depth Bible study on the book of Esther, click here.)