Wednesday, January 12, 2011

K! A!

Wow this is late, but hubby finally came through with a KitchenAid mixer for Christmas!!! Woo-hoooooooo! Even more amazing than receiving it is the fact that I HAVEN'T MADE ANYTHING with it yet!


Actually, DH got a super deal on my Black Friday mixer and we were both surprised to find out that my bad boy did not include the dough hook and whisk attachments, which I had to order for myself from the Amazon.

They aren't here yet.

BUT! As soon as they arrive, don't you worry your pretty little heads! I'll be whipping up pizza dough post-haste, and I think, just maybe I will attempt my first Swiss/Italian/or whatever other nationality meringue buttercream!! Whoop Whoop!!

Let's get baking! Made anything interesting lately?? Hmmmm???

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A year in the life

And in no particular favorite photos of 2010!!!!
(Disclaimer - these are my faves, to date. Christmas is still 12 days away!!)

The two loves of my life...hanging out, going to see if the lake has alligators. What happens if it does have alligators? I don't know, maybe they'll catch one. We can keep it in the back yard.

So says the little one.

I think this was Easter Sunday - THIS is MY BOY!!

Again, who else could have such a goofy youngin??

Just a bunch of circus clowns! A couple of them even get paid for the gig!!

Mother's Day at the Tallahassee Museum. One of our favorite places!!

Mother's Day Tea at Preschool. Don't you just love my TEXAS-SIZED coffee filter bonnet?

I do.

Possibly my single-most favorite photo from the year. I just love the way his little boy-ness is captured, riding on dad's shoulders, headed to a baseball game. Love.

I think that I would consider this my crowning achievement for 2010.

Real-life, grown-up achievements of maintaining steady employment, a mostly-steady marriage, and raising a precocious 4 year-old notwithstanding.

Just look at him!!! Ain't he a cutie??

So big! When they say time flies, they are grossly underestimating the actual speed at which time passes. It's more like so-fast-that-the-next-time-you-blink-your-eyes-you'll-be-holding-a-grandbaby fast.

This is my vision collage for my weight loss/healthy living/get in those damn size 10 jeans already efforts. I love it, and it's very motivating to look at. As soon as I have it tatooed to my forehead in an effort to not forget to look at it, I'll be smokin hot!!
I just have to find the support group for quitting butter.

THE Girls. Amen. (missing one important member!)

Brothers from different mothers.

Chase and his bestie, Caden, from one of my besties, Cindy.

Yes, we share a name, an anniversary year and 6 months overlap in gestation.
We lurves each other.
And they lurves Krispy Kremes.
Who doesn't?

The Fab 4!!! My weight loss/healthy living/step-away-from-the-butter gurus! I would have given up on the 10's a LONG time ago if not for these beauties! (See the Cindy puppet in the background? They found a way to include me on their D.C. adventures :)

The sad part about the Fab 4 is that I am FABULOUSLY far away from all of them!!
No matter - we have a bond.

Seminoles Spring Game 2010
And so begins the love affair with the Florida State Seminoles.
We bleed the Garnet and the Gold!

See? I told you.

This is me and the Mr., celebrating the occasion of our 6th year of marriage. At a tailgate. We went to the game too. And out afterwards for fried food and beer.

Life is good my friends, life is very, very good.

Yes. That's yours truly on the Slip N' Slide.
Yes. Yours truly was harmed during the making of this film.

Okay, maybe THIS is my crowning (cake-related, not life-wise) of 2010. I honestly had never even SEEN a redfish before I agreed to make a redfish groom's cake! Awesomesauce.

I can honestly say, this is one of the most fun years I have ever had. I hope it's not the best one, cause it was good and all, but as my high school teachers always loved to write in my report cards; there's always room for improvement!!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus and any other reason you have for being with friends and loved ones and celebrating your life - this time of the year or any!

I hope that your 2011 brings bigger, brighter more fantastic things!

Love, Cindy

Monday, December 6, 2010

My poor, little neglected blog

I started this blog on a whim, a frenzied whim, that was preceded by many days and weeks of thought, and reading of others' blogs and lots of thinking "that looks fun" and "what a nice creative outlet" and "maybe one day I'll be like Pioneer Woman". And then, like with many things in life, I lost focus, lost track and lost interest.

Unfortunately, despite my many good qualities, one of the bad qualities that really sticks out to me is the fact that I don't really invest myself in many things. My family? YES. My friends? Totally. My job? Eh. I like it and it's a good place to be and I'm beyond thankful for it, but it's not my life's work or anything. Hobbies? Projects? New ideas??? I'm all full-steam ahead and then poof! What blog? I started a blog? Oh, yeah. I did. Oops.

My husband says that I have ADD, and while I've never been diagnosed, I can see where he gets the impression. I'm a master at multi-tasking, but only for a minute, and then there's something else shinier and prettier that catches my attention and I'm off to the races again.


I want to be focused and successful. I want to have this blog read by lots of people and entertain the masses and all that jazz. I want to do a million fabulous things, all before I'm 40. Cause when you're 40, you're too old to start anything new.

Haha. Just kidding! It doesn't happen until you're 50 :)

Now that I've alienated every woman over the age of 40 (not that any of them are reading my blog), let's continue, shall we?

I guess I wanted to get this off my chest and down in black and white, because I haven't been feeling that I had anything "important" to write about. What's wrong with that statement is that my life, the tiny details, the funny thing that monkey says on the way home, is blog-worthy. It's MY blog. No one is critiquing (at least not yet - Thanks, Anne!) what I'm writing, or the "importance" of it all, and it's likely that no one ever will - blogs are tiny glimpses into people, their thoughts, recipes, disasters, triumphs and heartbreaks.

If it was meaningful or funny or poignant or just plain goofy, it's worth writing about, and it's worth reading about. Some days I read blogs about cooking and get inspired. Not that Susie Q's macaroni and cheese is earth-shattering, but I saw it, read the recipe and wanted to get up off the couch and make it. Susie probably lives is Saskatchewan and will never have any idea who I am or that I made her mac and cheese, but hey, that's what comments are for!

Time next time, dear reader(s)!

Trying to keep the ADD under control,

Promise to blog again before 2011,


Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's been awhile...

I can't believe I haven't posted since September! What have I been up to? Not much of note, save 3 batches of cupcakes for Cupcake Camp Tallahassee, 150 miniature pies for a wedding reception AND the groom's cake topped with a 3-D redfish!??!??!

Yes, ladies and gentleman (for someday when a man actually does read my blog) I have been baking!!

So, little bitty Tallahassee had it's first Cupcake Camp to raise funds for the Jessica June Children's Cancer Fund and it was a smallish, albeit successful event, especially for yours truly!
I'm not bragging, I swear, but I WON! I entered 3 of the 4 contest categories and WON ALL 3!!! I was so excited and proud and validated and couldn't have been happier and more surprised. Yes, I have to admit that I did expect to win something, being that the contest didn't have a ton of entries, but to take the whole cake? SO awesome!!!
(p.s. yes, pun intended)

These are all the AWESOME prizes that I won, courtesy of the amazing cupcake community. Here are some links to the sponsors:

Bake It Pretty (where I bought my supplies prior to the event)

So, I suppose you're all dying to know what kind of cupcakes I made, aren't ya? Hold onto your knickers!!! I made:

Apple Pie Cupcakes for the Fall Flavors category

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes for Favorite Drinks category


and my hubby's favorite vanilla cupcakes with strawberry filling and strawberry cream cheese frosting, which was entered in the Most Awesomest Cupcake category!
I did make some personal flavor/texture adjustments to the Annie's Eats recipes, but she is definitely the one to thank for the awesome ideas and base recipes. Everyone gushed over how yummy they were!!! Thanks Annie from Indiana!!!

I guess now you probably want some pictures, huh? Who am I to deny the public? Ha!

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes
I was going to skip the straws, but DH insisted that I add them.
They make them extra special, don't you think??

Apple Pie Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting
I added chunky sprinkling sugar to the tops before baking, it added
some yummy crunch!

Here they are before frosting - yes, they were yummy!!!
My favorite part was the gingham cupcake liners - adorable!

It was a fun but exhausting experience to bake, decorate and transport 72 cupcakes, in a 24-hour period, but I did it and I was super proud of myself. For a girl who dreams of cupcakes/cakes/baked goods as a way to earn a living someday, this little adventure was a tiny peek into the life of a baker. It's a good life!

Thanks to all my friends who showed up to support me: Kate, Jaime, Dona, Della, Sangeetha, Fred and Dylan - big hugs!!!

Adventures in redfish cake (looks like, not tastes like...eeessh!!) coming soon !!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bread and cheese and pasta with vitamins thrown in to avoid scurvy. Amen.

No, this is not the newest recipe in my repertoire! Although....No. No, I'm just kidding.

I stole this statement from a good friend, but it basically sums up my feelings on food these days. Whatever I can get my hands on would probably more accurately sum it up, but this sounds much better than that.

I know I'm not the only food-lover that struggles with their weight. I know that people on TV aren't always the healthiest or as skinny as they look (dubious belief...ahem GiadadeLaurentiis ahem). I know that my pants size or the number on the scale shouldn't dictate how I feel about myself, but some days, it does. Today, luckily has been a cute and sassy day. Did my hair, extra time on the makeup, good outfit on, etc.

Some days, though...

Well, those days are "wish-I-could-live-in-my-PJ's-and-not-leave-the-house-and-not-let-anyone-see-me" days. I feel huge and frumpy and dumpy and basically unattractive. But still I eat. And cook. And bake. And I dream up new cupcake combinations to try when I have the opportunity. I read cooking blogs and recipe websites and even when I'm feeling like I shouldn't ever have another bite of cake, EVER, my brain says "hmmm...I wonder if that Snickers filling would do okay in the middle of a cupcake...maybe I should try it on ice cream first..."
Really, C???


I love the food.

That is all - just putting it out there.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pirate Ship Birthday Cake!!!

Weeks and weeks of planning and internet research finally got me up to speed on pirate ship birthday cakes! I looked at dozens of images from quite a few sites, some even with directions to get me started. This was a labor of love for my little man, and it was a challenge - a fun challenge - but it had me doubting myself right up to the very end! Here's the play-by-play:

Earlier in the week, I baked off four 9x13 marble layer cakes and froze them, but only ended up using 3. I used Duncan Hines Supreme mixes, and spiffied them up a bit with pudding mix, milk instead of water and an extra egg - moist and delicious! (Thanks for the tip, Anne!) Baking the cakes early and freezing them was a must - being partially frozen made them easier to stack and carve, and easier to frost. I didn't notice any difference in the taste or texture.

I started with 2 layers - leveled them off then began building up the ship. The bottom layer is one whole 9x13 and an additional 3 inches from the second layer cake. Before assembling, we whipped up a big old batch of chocolate buttercream and a smaller vanilla batch for piping work.

I used the remaining bits of the second and third layers to build up the bow and stern portions. I always stack cakes with the cut-side down to make frosting them a bit easier. Less crumbs that way.

An additional cut piece on the stern end to give some height and another layer of deck - more "pirate-ship-like" in my opinion. I'm sure there is a technical term for it, but my research only carried me so far.

Once the layers were stacked and fairly even, I used two dowels in the stern end to keep the ship from falling over. The front was fairly sturdy, so I skipped them. I carved the front end into the bow shape with a smaller serrated knife. Semi-frozen cake very helpful here.

This is the crumb-coat or, as my good friend* Buddy Valastro says, it's "dirty iced". I used a small offset spatula to make the grooves in what would be the decks - I wanted it to look different than the sides.
I used a basketweave tip to pipe on the ship's planking for a wood look, varying the length of the piping to mimic the wood. Covered the entire outside of the ship this way.

I used a larger round tip to pipe over the seams of the ship. It tidied it up and gave it a more finished look, in my opinion.

I used orange-tinted frosting to make windows (portholes?). The frosting was supposed to be golden colored, but copper and golden yellow tints apparently make orange when mixed together, so I went with it. Meh. I wasn't thrilled, but 2 1/2 hours into the project and something had to give. Turned out fine - I didn't hear anyone exclaiming about the scandalous orange windows/portholes I had made, so all is well in cake land.

I added Pocky and Twizzler constructed railing along the back of the ship, held together with buttercream. We attempted to do the same railing on the front, but the carved cake was threatening to give way around the edges, so we just skipped it. Slapped down some chocolate Twizzlers and declared it a masterpiece! By the way - chocolate Twizzlers? A new fave! Yummy! Who'd a thunk it?? And Pocky? Thank goodness for Pocky - I had NO idea what this stuff was, but apparently it's an Eastern (as in Asia--maybe Japanese?) treat. Little shortbread sticks dipped in chocolate. I went on a hunt for those candy reception sticks with which to build my railing, but couldn't find any in a store around here. World Market and Pocky to the rescue!

To dress up our ship a little, I added Rolo gunpowder barrels (just stick two of them together with a little frosting), pretzel M&M cannon balls, a Kit-Kat plank and some cannons made with rolled-up wafer cookies, also purchased at the World Market. That place has some neat stuff, and it saved me from having to sculpt gigantic Tootsie Rolls into cannons! Yippee!! Up on top of the very top deck, I made a little treasure box from some cake scraps and plain old frosting. Piped a little bit of detail on it and it was almost done.

This is the finished version at the party. I added sails made from plain old paper and chopsticks. The pirate flag was a serendipitous Joann's Fabrics clearance bin find for 10 whole cents the week before the party. If not for the little wooden flag, I would have just printed out a jolly roger from the good ol' internet. Add a few pirate figurines, a "4" candle and some icy blue buttercream waves and Voila! or Ahoy! or Whatever! = Pirate Ship Birthday Cake!!!

*I do not personally know Buddy Valastro. I do love his show, though. That makes us "friends" right?
**The pink shirt in some of the pictures belongs to my good friend, also named Cindy, who helped me with the cake and with keeping my sanity whilst building said cake, and who also saved my life by loaning me her KitchenAid for a whole week. Dramatic much, nah, not me! :)MUAH Cin!!

For my baby

Four years ago today, at 1:20 a.m., my little man arrived in this world. I've spent the time since his birth staring in awe, wishing him happiness in life, worrying if he's gonna be alright, hugging him, kissing him, squeezing him, tucking him in and trying to get him to eat his vegetables. Everything has been magical, except the vegetables. This letter is for him, my baby, on the occasion of his 4th birthday. I've tried to remember every year to write him a letter for him to have to read when he's older, but as most mommies, some things have slipped through my fingers. I'd like to think I get the really important things right, though :)

Dear Chase -

Today is your fourth birthday and we've been talking about it for months and weeks. It also happens to be your first day of VPK, so we get the bargain of two milestones in one! Unfortunately for you, you will probably share a few more birthdays with the first day of school. Maybe it won't be so bad - first day of school isn't the most horrible thing ever, right? I can't believe that four years have flown by as quickly as they have. I can still remember holding you when you were born and I was just amazed at the happiness I felt looking at your little face. I still feel that happiness when I look at those gorgeous blue eyes of yours, and I'm thankful every day that you came into my and Daddy's life. I never thought I could love one person so much.

You are quite a character at the age of four. You are constantly running, jumping, climbing and making up adventures for yourself. Your legs are constantly covered in bruises and scrapes and my number one request to you is to "slow down". You hardly ever oblige me that one. You start ever day bright and early (you're just like your daddy in the morning). Almost daily, I am awakened by your very loud "Mommy!" When I enter your room you ask "is it time to get up now?" and I almost always answer "not yet", and we get to snuggle for a few minutes before you can't stand it anymore and have to get up.

My favorite time of day with you is in the car on the way to school and back in the afternoons. It's just mommy and Chase time, and we have some of the most interesting conversations. On the way to school we discuss the day ahead of us and you ask the best questions. In the afternoons (when you're in a good mood), I get to hear all about your day, who you played with, what you worked on in school and how much of your lunch you ate. You are almost always red-faced and sweaty from the playground, and always ready for some cold water and a snack. Some days, you don't feel like talking, so you pretend to go to sleep in your car seat and fake snore. “Honk-shoo, honk-shoo”, while trying not to smile. Even those grumpy days make me smile, because you have SO much personality.

At the glorious age of four, you have developed some distinct likes and dislikes:

-Milk and cheese and yogurt.
-Your best friends, Caden and Dylan.
-Fire trucks, ambulances, police cars and taxis, and you want to be a firefighter when you grown up. (Hopefully the taxi fascination wears off.)
-Your dog, Rocco, proportionately with not loving him if he is taking up room on mom or dad's lap.
-Looking at your scrapbooks and commenting on how cute you were as a baby.
-Baseball, namely the Rays. You love to say "Boo Yankees" and then "Go Yankees", just to tease your Daddy. You're a funny little guy.
-Sweets. Chocolate, candy, fruit snacks, cookies, etc. You are a sugar fiend.
-Thankfully, you love both Daddy and I and you tell us every day, with no prompting.

You DO NOT love:
-Vegetables. I can't get you to eat a single one. I'm pretty sure that the tomatoes in pizza sauce don't count.
-Trying any new food. It's like pulling teeth to get you to just taste it. You are stubborn.
-Bugs. You're still wary of bugs, which makes mommy very happy.
-Being told "no", but I don't think anyone really likes that one.

We are so lucky to have you, my little monkey man. You changed our lives, as everyone said you would, and undeniably, it was for the better. Even when we have our rough days, we somehow manage to end them on a happy note, with hugs and kisses and back scratches and a few rounds of telling us "just one more thing". You are the center of our universe and not a moment has gone by that I would change. Every day you grow stronger and bigger and you get smarter and more joyful. My heart practically bursts every time you holler "Mama!" and when I ask you "what?", your answer is "I Love You".

I wish nothing more for you in life than the love and happiness that I have experienced in being your mother.

All of my love, always -

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Slip and Slide

Does anyone else have fond memories of a certain long, yellow, vinyl contraption in their yard as a kid? Well, does anyone? Cause I don't! I don't think we actually owned one ourselves, but childhood friends certainly did, and I remember it being quite the kick in the pants. Thinking about the old slip and slide takes me back to days when I would run and ride my bike until the sun went down. It was PUNISHMENT to have to come inside early. Me and the neighborhood pals would climb trees, sit around the pond, walk, talk, hatch evil plans to snag the boy of our dreams, etc. Do kids even still do that these days? Without the use of a cell phone or text messaging? It's bizarre to me (and has been for awhile) that kids spend hours on end playing video games and chatting on the computer and texting each other back and forth...don't kids play anymore???

Of course, that makes me sound like an old, stodgy person, so I'll stop with that little diatribe right there. What I really want to talk about is my baby, playing in the good old (HOT Florida) outdoors. Specifically, in our backyard, with a slip and slide.

At first, he didn't quite get what it was all about. Mommy had to break out her bathing suit and show him. (Mommy is forever grateful to Daddy for not snapping unflattering pictures of her behind on the tiny, fragile Slip and Slide.) Once he saw the old SNS in action, though, the boy was hooked!

The approach:

The sizing up:

Going for it!

Monkey Boy just giggled and giggled and begged to do it again, over and over. And of course, we let him - until the thunder started, then we high-tailed it back in the house. He was covered in dirt and grass that his daddy had mowed earlier that afternoon, and happy as a clam.

I love that he is developing a sense of adventure outside of the normal climbing all over the furniture and jumping off of things. We just finished our first round of "swim lessons" in which I was a willing participant. We did a parent/child class, and his real, no-mommy-or-daddy-in-the-pool-or-anywhere-near-him classes start on July 10. I am excited to pass along my love of the water to my little man, but nervous with the whole "not being right there" deal. Oh well, what's a mommy to do? Gotta go for it!

I had to get a few action shots in - he was concentrating too hard to really ham it up for my ever-present camera, but I did get a few good ones getting down on his level. I love having a record of these moments and the memories we make as a family.

As long as we continue to omit those of my behind on a slip and slide :)