Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wilton Color Spray and the Story of the Three Birthday Cakes

I mentioned yesterday that I made three birthday cakes for Pipsqueak. You've already seen the first one... the rainbow cake. I did the colors with Wilton Color Spray which I loved using. I was afraid it would run since I was putting it on a vertical surface, but as long as I held the can back six inches as instructed, it held beautifully.

I loved using the color spray so much that I used it on the next project... cupcakes for her class on her birthday. I made them bakery-fancy with piped on frosting and used two colors of spray in sort of a yin and yang pattern. Then I topped them with coordinating sprinkles. I was really happy with the way they turned out, and plan to make color spray and regular part of my kid cake repertoire (as if I had a repertoire). I recommend Wilton Color Spray, and no one paid me to say that.
Finally, I made the family cake on Friday morning. We have a family party (me, Sweetie, my mom and Pipsqueak) on her actual birthday. It was nearly 90 degrees on Friday, and if you've ever tried to frost a cake in that kind of heat, you know it can be disastrous. It was just a standard yellow cake with cream cheese filling and chocolate frosting. The layers kept slipping, so I used skewers to hold them together. Then the filling started oozing out the sides like lava. When I started putting on the chocolate, it was slipping down the sides almost as fast as I was putting it on. I had to work really fast and put it in the fridge. I'm glad I wasn't trying to impress anyone. It wasn't pretty but it tasted good.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Jane, stop this crazy thing!"

Do you remember that line? It was at the end of "The Jetsons" title sequence when George was on some sort of contraption that kept him spinning around and around. That's what I've felt like the past two weeks. There have been so many thing that HAD to be done. That crazy contraption was life and I wanted it to stop.... well, at least slow down. There were Pipsqueak's birthday celebrations which required me to make three (I mean, really) THREE cakes, various appointments, getting the veggie garden ready for planting and the actual planting, an semi-spontaneous overnight trip, and all the usual things like laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, bill paying and trying to keep the house from looking like a hurricane blew through.

Oh, how I've neglected you, my internet friends. Tomorrow, I will put up a real post... hopefully something to sink your teeth into, but at the very least, something to nibble on while you sip your coffee.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Just Kidding Around

A friend of ours has five-week-old pygmy goat kids, which we visited on Sunday. If you're unfamiliar with pygmy goats (which I was), they like to jump up and stand on high things. When they're small, a person's back makes just the right platform.

Pipsqueak couldn't wait to have a goat on her back.
Sweetie's broad, manly back had room for two. That IS NOT his best jacket. That's his gettin'-dirty jacket... perfect for muddy goat hooves.
Kids are like puppies and... well... kids. After a little play, they get tired and enjoy curling up in a lap for a little rest.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pipsqueak's Birthday Party

Pipsqueak turns 7 on Friday, but we had her party on Saturday to avoid the Memorial Day weekend. This year she chose a pottery painting party at Tip Top Pottery. Having a party off site makes my life easier... I don't have to get the house ready or clean it up after, and the kids don't get distracted from party activities by Pipsqueak's toys.

She invited six friends. I always insist the invitees be kept to a small, manageable number. They spent at least 45 minutes painting their pottery. That was followed by cake and punch. Sweetie likes to show off his pouring technique to the delight of the girls.
Pipsqueak told me she wanted a pegasus unicorn cake, but I asked how she would feel about a pegasus jumping over a rainbow. Once she readily agreed, I had to get down to the business of figuring out how to make that happen. It was easy thanks to Wilton Color Spray.
Two hours from when it all started, the presents were opened and the goody bags distributed. Now to enjoy the 364 days until we do it again.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Remember When-sday - Prom Season

It's the middle of May... the height of prom season. It's a night on which dreams can be made and shattered. So much weight is put on one night. It's a teenage right of passage. K at BlogGoggles tagged me in a prom dress post last week, so I'm about to show you my prom photo from senior year. I loved my dress. Now I think it looks frumpy. It was a Gunne Sax, which was all the rage then. I was so freakishly tall that my mother had to sew a wide lace trim to the bottom to make it long enough for me.
If you grew up in the 70s or 80s, you probably remember Gunne Sax well. Here's a little blurb about the company that I found interesting.

Gunne Sax is a clothing label which specializes in formal and semi-formal wear for young women and is owned by Jessica McClintock, Inc. It was founded in the 1960s and bought by Ms McClintock in 1969.
While Jessica McClintock, Inc., is a large and diverse style house, the term "Gunne Sax" is often associated with its 1970s fashions, which could stylistically be called "prairie-revival", drawing on many elements popular in late-19th and early-20th century American fashion such as pinafores, gingham prints, and calico. The company was named after the "gunny sack" or burlap trim used on some of the earlier dresses.
Gunne Sax also revived a kind of "renaissance" look, with empire waistlines and middle placket, usually with more modern textiles such as velveteen. Often there was a high collar in the back with a low neckline in the front, making for a more demure variation on the medieval "wench" look. The puffed sleeves were usually tightened below the elbow, a style known as "leg o'mutton." Many of the dresses have laced bodices resembling corsets.
The characteristic puff sleeves and leg o'mutton sleeves found in many Gunne Sax pieces started the puff sleeve craze that prevailed throughout the 1970s and '80s and into the early '90s. Imitators of Gunne Sax included Candi and Young Edwardian. Collectors consider clothing with the original "black label," used only in 1969, the most valuable. A "hearts label" was used for a short time following, until the 1970s and early '80s larger label with scrollwork was put into use.
Gunne Sax dresses are still manufactured, though the 1970s style associated with the term is no longer used by the company. Contemporary Gunne Sax dresses tend to follow modern prom dress sensibilities, such as tight, strapless bodices and full skirts, favoring fabrics like satin, taffeta, and tulle.

My date, a boy I invited from another school, owned his own tuxedo because he's was involved in youth politics and had to give speeches at events frequently. I thought that was pretty cool. I remember very little about the night except when I thought my date left in the middle. I thought he'd gone to the bathroom, but he'd been gone a long time. I asked a friend to check the bathroom and he wasn't there. I looked everywhere for him and was getting pretty upset about being ditched when he showed up again. He'd gone to the car to change his shirt because he had two tuxedo shirts and couldn't decide which one to wear, so he thought he'd surprise me by changing half-way through. The second shirt was blue with ruffles in the front. I wish he'd had that one on for the photo because nothing says retro like a ruffled tuxedo shirt.

I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you're scrambling for something to blog about, pull out your old prom photo to share. I'd LOVE to see it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

On Saturday night, a tornado touched down in Washington, Vermont causing considerable damage. There was golf ball sized hail in South Royalton, Vermont. Mother Nature dished up a bit of minor drama in our corner of Vermont.

It had been sunny and warm all afternoon. Pipsqueak went to a birthday party, and the kids spent a lot of time outdoors chasing each other around with water balloons. When we got home at 3:30, I started prepping for our dinner guests. We were having tandoori chicken on the grill with mango jasmine rice, a salad and crème brûlée for dessert. Sweetie made the crème brûlée in the morning. When our friends arrived just after 5 pm, the chicken was marinating, the ingredients for the rice pre-measured, the salad in the fridge, the dressing made and table set.

About the time the first round of martinis were served, the clouds had rolled in and it was getting windy. Beginning with one major gust of wind, our power went out and the deluge of rain and pea-size hail fell. Being the unflappable family, we lit some candles and made another pitcher of martinis. Before long, it began clearing and we were treated to a beautiful double rainbow, which we all went out in the remaining sprinkles to fully enjoy. I should have taken a photo, but being well into my second martini, I probably would have taken a photo of my finger instead. Geez, a tornado and a rainbow! Where are the tin man and the scarecrow?

The dinner went off without a hitch thanks to a grill, a gas stove and a blow torch. (The blow torch was to caramelize the crème brûlée.) Now how do we top that next time those friends come over?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bridgewater Raft Race - 2009

Last Saturday, we went to the Bridgewater Raft Race. This is an event that never disappoints... plenty of interesting, hand-made raft, plenty of interesting characters, and plenty of destruction.

Some rafts are minimal and are built for speed more than entertainment...
for some, it's all about style...
or costumes...
or supporting their favorite team...
For others, it's a feat of engineering...
For most, it's just a matter of seeing what junk you have laying around that might float when strapped together...
or maybe they just want to channel their inner Wizard of Oz...
A few required a little on site construction...
There was even an Elvis sighting...
At the cannon blast (I'm not kidding. There's a real cannon.), everyone runs to their raft from the starting line and chaos ensues. Many have never been float tested and some instantly discover, they don't. There's some instant destruction, as some discover that a little more duct tape and a couple more screws might have been helpful. And there are the inevitable log jams as around 50 rafts hit the water at simultaneously....
Whatever their reason or method, it isn't about coming in first. It's about having fun and thinking about how they'll do it differently next year.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo

We always celebrate Cinco de Mayo, because even though we don't need an excuse to eat tacos and drink Caronas and margaritas, it's nice to have one. My tacos weren't photogenic. I don't know how Taco Bell does it, but I'm guessing it's specialized lighting and chemically enhanced food. The margaritas were especially pretty ...
but not too pretty to drink.

I don't even know what Cinco de Mayo is about. I should probably look it up so I'm not totally ignorant... after my tequila buzz is gone.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Superfudge by Judy Blume - A Book Review Every Parent Should Read

Last night innocence was almost lost... a moment in childhood was teetering on the edge of the cliff, but I yanked it back in the nick of time.

A few months ago, I bought tickets for Pipsqueak and I to see the play, "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" based on Judy Blume's book. I read her the book beforehand, so she would have a better idea of what was going on. We loved the book and the play.

Last month, I was looking through the Scholastic Books flier and saw a set of sequels to the book, "Superfudge", "Double Fudge" and "Fudge-a-mania". I ordered them and we started reading "Superfudge" soon after it arrived. The main character is Peter, who is now in sixth grade. His younger brother, Fudge, is the real star. He's 7 years younger and is starting kindergarten in this book.

All is well until Chapter 10, entitled "Santa Who?" Two pages into the chapter, I'm reading along when Peter says, "When I got home that afternoon, I cornered my mother. 'I don't think it's a good idea...'" At this point my eyes shot ahead of my mouth because I sensed what could be coming and I saw the words... "for you to let him go on believing in Santa." I had to think fast! I needed to buy some time. I'm getting over a cold, so I started coughing, feigned a frog in my throat and said I had to get water.

I took the book to the bathroom with me and sped read ahead while continuing to fake cough, clear my throat and drink water. In the upcoming paragraphs, Judy Blume was going to blow the whole Santa myth right out of the water! How could she do that? There should be a warning on the book cover or at the top of the chapter! If I known ahead of time, I could have skipped the whole chapter without it being missed. In her defense, the book is about a sixth grader, but with funny Fudge being the scene stealer, I can't believe Pipsqueak is the only 6-almost-7 year old that enjoys the series. As soon as I find a way to contact Ms. Blume, she's going to get a piece of my mind, but my first order of business was to warn you, my dear readers.

So here I was in the bathroom trying to figure out how to preserve the excitement of Christmas for what I hope will be years to come. I decided to skip some paragraphs, re-write a few sentences, and pray she didn't notice. She can read now, and most nights she points out parts she wants to read. Thankfully, I had painted her fingernails bright blue with a top coat of glitter earlier, so this night she was more interested in looking at her fingernails. I pulled it off, finished the chapter without her noticing it was a bit disjointed, kissed her goodnight and left her room with my hands shaking.

We, as parents, have enough worries and fears without our bedtime stories becoming myth busters. And now I must make an appointment with my colorist to cover the gray hairs that I got last night. Perhaps I'll send Judy Blume the bill.

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