Monday, September 29, 2008
Mary is such a super cool mom that she made them this pink ... erm ... red Power Ranger cake for the boys who love Power Rangers more than life itself. Isn't it awesome?
After the bbq, the boys got to blow out their candles.
And then they got to open their presents. How sweet is the look of complete & utter joy on these sweet boys' faces?
All in all, it was one of the most fun Monday nights that I've had in a good long time. I did (gasp!) miss Heroes, but it was worth it. I mean, I can always watch it tomorrow at nbc.com, right? And when else would I get to party it up with the kiddos?
Oh my gosh, I love these kids!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
And the answer is... (drum roll, please)... time manipulation. Please, like there is any other answer to this question. I mean, sure, flying would be cool and all (if I wasn't afraid of heights), and super-strength would be sweet (if my lifestyle was such to ever NEED to be able to bend metal or break through walls), and while I do think that weather manipulation (ala Storm in X-Men) would be fun... I wouldn't want to deal with the whiners who weren't prepared for the monsoon season to strike early. So, it's time manipulation for me. Some of you may not know this, but it's true that I've had a life-long love affair with all things time-travelly. Seriously, time manipulation is where it's at for me. Just look at my favorite books, movies & tv shows. (Time Traveler's Wife, Frequency, The Love Letter, De Javu. Kate & Leopold, Back to the Future, Somewhere in Time, Quantum Leap, Journeyman, 7 days... and the list could go on and on.) I am in love with the theory of time travel. A book/show/movie made with the thought of a break in the space/time continuum brings me joy like none other. The first time I saw Frequency, I sat there with my mom for a good half hour after the movie ended and tried to unravel the whole mom/dad/son/crazed-killer cop storyline. To this day, I have a blockage in my head. I can't help but think that when it comes to the aurora borealis, time travel really is possible. I'm telling you, to be able to move backward and forward in time would be the sweetest thing ever. Hiro's got one heck of a sweet gig. (I just wish he'd hurry up and learn English already. The subtitles were killing me last week)
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Okay, so... this week we did the grand finale cake (yeah, I'm not even kidding, that's what the COURSE calls this cake). As you've seen, we've spent the last two weeks learning how to do various royal icing flowers. This week we learned the basket weave technique. The idea was to make an oval shaped "basket" cake, and then to place the flowers on the cake, trailing down the side. For example, this is the cover of the Course II book, showing their idea of the finale:
Yeah, I know. It seems impossible, right? But, it isn't impossible. It's actually ... pretty easy. I (of course) took pics as I went, so I could document the process for you. First things first (and the one step I don't have photographic evidence of), you mark the cake where you're gonna make the basket lines. It was really easy, we just made indentations in the icing with the spatula, marking 32 lines evenly along the outside of the cake. (There's a diagram in the book, but I went with free-hand marking it in half, and then half again, and then half again). Once the lines were made, you make straight lines up the cake from the bottom to the top.
Then you proceed to "weave" the icing over/under the lines. (Yeah, it's not actually woven - nor does the icing actually go over/under. It's a total fake out, you just alternate by doing one level of icing over the center line, and then the next line breaking at that center line and going over the next.) Like so:
This is the finished product. EASY-PEASY, I'm telling you! It took maybe half an hour to do the weave. MAYBE. And it looks hard. Seriously, who knew that cake decorating was so easy?
Now, to add the flowers. (And again, I'm sorry, I didn't think to take a pic of this.) You dump a boatload (maybe half a cup) of icing out of your bag onto the top of the cake, so you have a pile of frosting... and then you randomly stick flowers into it. (And when I say "randomly stick flowers"... I mean randomly.) Here's a shot of the top of my cake:Deciding how/where to put the flowers was giving me a headache (okay, who's kidding who? I had one to start with...), so I opted not to trail the flowers down the side of the cake. This is the side angle of my finished product. (And yes, there is Dr. Pepper in that Arby's cup you can see in the top right corner of the pic.)
Ooh, and before I forget, here is Tiffany's (aka: Perfect Girl's) cake. I wish I had a close-up of her basket weave. As much as I've love to say that her icing was softer, and that's why her weave was nearly flawless (and not that she's just flat out stronger than I am, and her grip is better), well... we all know the truth (I am a weakling and cannot even squeeze a frosting bag very hard). Oh well... so what if she's a little bit of perfection? (All the friggin time.) She's still nice... and her cake was BEAUTIFUL!
And speaking of BEAUTIFUL cakes, you HAVE to check out Christian's. All of the examples we'd seen were springy cakes (ala my "baby shower" cake... and no, I didn't actually make it for anyone's baby shower... it just looked like that was its plan in life). As this was the first week of Fall, Christian wanted to do something Fall-ish (even the cake itself was fall themed, and I'm telling you ... it was a-freakin-mazing! ... spice cake with maple/cinnamon icing ... I was literally dipping my finger in to her frosting bowl all night long ... that icing was soooo good, I could not get enough of it!) Also, she went with the star tip rather than the basket tip. It had much the same effect, but because the star lets more icing out at a time, she had a different texture in her weave. It was bigger and bubblier (and there was more icing on the cake, which is always a good end result, if you ask me). Also, she did the color flow pumpkins - totally thought of it on her own. She's a creative genius. Check it:
And, as I'm sure you noticed, she did trail her flowers down the side. Wasn't it AMAZING?! The colors were freaking awesome... the colors, and the shapes, were so perfect! Here's a close-up, so you can better see the design/texture of her flowers. Oh. My. Freaking. Gosh. BEAUTIFUL!!!
Christine, sadly, erm.... forgot her cake at home the morning of class (we bring our cakes/supplies to work on Thursdays and then go straight to Michael's after work), so she didn't have anything to deliver. She's gonna do hers over the weekend, and then I'll post it for the world to see, too.
Ooh, but while I'm thinking... I think I will do a little show & tell that my cousin Becca told me about. (She's taking the same classes in Utah that I'm taking here in AZ, how awesome is that?) She gave me a helpful hint about making roses that I've been meaning to pass on. The book tells you to make a column/cone of icing for the center of your rose, then attach leaves as you go around. Said column should be roughly the size/diameter of a Hershey's kiss. Becca's helpful hint: just use a Hershey's kiss for your center (that way, you don't have to worry about the cone being too soft, not the right size... not meeting your quota of chocolate for the day). Please allow me to show you. It's pretty awesome. You start with the kiss. "Glue" it to a piece of parchment/wax paper with some icing:
Then take your icing around the tip of the kiss (to cover the chocolate and form the center of the rose):
Add petals in rows down. The royal rose is, I think, 7 layers of petals from the top - and the butter cream rose is 5. (Again, I think. We all know that I never follow the rules, and if you'll recall, my roses are prone to look more like hydrangeas than roses, anyway.)
The kiss is pretty cool - you can use it for either a royal icing or butter cream rose. My only suggestion would be to buy those random specialty kisses (like the strawberries & cream, or peppermint that you can get at Christmas), so you're trying to cover white chocolate instead of brown chocolate. If the rose isn't tight enough, you can see the brown chocolate coming through, and I think that white would be less noticeable. (OR I could squeeze the bag harder and make a tighter rose... Always a nice thought, but we all know that it's never gonna happen.)
Anyhoo... that's the update on cake class this week. Sorry that it was so late in coming, for those of you who I know have been looking for it (that would be you, Cousins Julie & Becca). Also, just an fyi: I know that I've talked before about there being 4 courses, and how we intended to take all 4 of them. ... While we do intend to take all 4, we're .... well .... a little bit sick & tired of making cakes every single blasted week of our lives, so we're taking at least a month off. So, no cake class posts for the month of October. As a substitute, you can look forward to posts regarding my upcoming birthday celebration, as well as exotic vacation destination teasers. Don't worry, I'm not falling off the edge of the blogging world. I'm just freeing up my Thursday nights for a bit. (And who could blame me, now that The Office is back?) Look forward to seeing a posting of Christine's cake in the next few days... You know that I do love to play show & tell with everyone's cakes. (to be read in a sing-songy voice) Thanks again for checking my blog (and the cakes) out. You know we love you... (Yeah, I did just share ownership of loving you with my cake... like it's a proper noun... CLEARLY, I need a break from cake class. It's gone to my head...) But really, thank you. And, as always, comments (and compliments) are welcomed (and graciously accepted).
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
So, this morning I woke up (on my own at 6:28, two minutes before my alarm was going to go off) in my half-lit room, and as I gathered up the gumption to throw my legs over the side of the bed and get up (like a good little grown-up), I just about had a heart attack when I saw what I thought was a rat by the side of my bed. Now, the reason(s) that I thought it was a rat were simple A) I didn't have my glasses on and so all I could make out was a fuzzy outline, and B) ...I'd just woken up, and who knows where my mind/imagination goes when I'm in that place between sleep and awake. So, I sat there (in my bed, thanks, no way was I risking it and putting a foot out), staring at the "rat" and wondering why I happened to get the one cat in the world who would have left a rat by the bed just to scare me. (Don't ask. I don't know why I thought Frankie would have done that to me... I mean, she is a stinker, but she also likes to maim straws and rubber bands. She does have some fight in her.) I sat there for nigh onto 2 minutes, during which time I talked myself down on the rat theory and decided to just get myself up and out of bed and check it out. (I mean, what are the chances, really, that I'd have rats in my apartment here in the Valley of the Sun? It's not like I live in the middle of a cornfield or something.) And when I sucked it up enough to get out of bed, bend over and check it out... I laughed myself sick that I am such an idiot. Below is a picture of what I had thought was a rat. Are you freaking kidding me? The "tail" is unnaturally long & straight, and if I ever saw a rat with a body shaped like a mum, I'd have to laugh out loud. Yeah... I cannot explain myself. It's just further proof that I wake up crazy every single freaking day. Good grief.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
20. I hate stinky cheese.
19. Mmmmm... Carrot cake.
18. I look great in yellow!
17. My favorite pie? Cherry, hands down.
16. Please tickle me... please.
15. Could you pass me the okra?
14. I love gory movies!
13. Jack Weyland is my favorite author!
12. The red jellybeans are my fav.
11. I'm a dog person.
10. Growing up, I wished I had more brothers.
9. I heart water sports.
8. My dream job is to be a dental hygienist.
7. I dig short guys.
6. My favorite day of the week? Monday, of course!
5. Oatmeal is the best!
4. I've always wanted to be a waitress...
3. My dream vacation? Safari.
2. I love to workout.
1. Yup, Lori. That's my name.
This is my lamo attempt at making daisies. Yeah, when I found out we were doing daises, my first comment was "daisies are the friendliest flowers". Uhm, it turns out that while that might be the case for actual daisies, these buggers were definitely not the friendliest to make. Seriously, those petals were RIDICULOUSLY HARD. And, yeah, I know... they still look dumb. Oh, well. (And I threw away the truly ugly ones, so don't even start with me.)
This is my pansy. And while I know that it doesn't look like an actual pansy, I'm still pretty proud. (I know. I shouldn't be prideful, but I am. I can't help it. Isn't it cute?)
And... the primrose. (Yeah, I know. It looks suspiciously like the apple blossom from last week. Must be why I liked it so much... It was VERY EASY to make, which I'm always a fan of.)
And... the daffodil. I am, of course, crushed that this looks so dorky. I am a BIG FAN of daffodils, and had been so excited about learning how to make them. It turns out that it's nearly impossible for me to get the petals the right size/shape.
Here's the recap of all...
Aren't they cute, all nestled up in their flower trays? I am in love with these curvy white trays. Even when I make flowers that don't look like, erm... flowers... if I put them in these trays, the edges turn up and the petals look perky. Wahoo!
Stay tuned for next week's finale cake. We'll be learning the basket weave with buttercream and will be topping the cakes with the flowers we made this week and last. Should be quite a show. :)
Sunday, September 14, 2008
and me now
Isn't it great that I learned how to smile for a camera? Oh, and look into the lens when a picture was being taken? Not to mention... learning that if I just learned to let my hair do its own thing, it would turn out so much better than it did when I tried the braid/crimp/curling iron approach back in the day. Oh, right, and the eyebrows... there are not words for how grateful I am to have found out about tweezers.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Let's start with my bangs. I cut them myself, and I did a horrible job. To clarify, when I say "horrible job", I mean, they were an inch and a half long. Hardly enough hair to hold a spike. And when I was asked what'd happened by one of the super cool high schoolers at the bus stop... I blamed my mother. (And it's not like I only did this one time. I probably sheared myself bald up top about once every other month... my hair has always grown like a weed. Mom was constantly taking the fall for my bad bangs. Bless her.)
Jr. High was not my first foray into the world of forced athleticism, but it was the first time I was opened up to the world of physical torture for an hour and then was GRADED on my non-athletic abilities (some people called it PE, I called it my own personal version of Hell). The first 6 weeks of 7th grade PE were spent at the pool. I wrote letters excusing myself from swimming, due to being on my period, for the first 4 of those 6 weeks - and I signed my mother's name. At the end of the 4th week, Miss Smith handed me back my pencil written "please excuse my daughter" note and told me that I either had something that I needed to tell my mother (that I'd been forging notes) or there was something I needed to tell her (did I have a medical situation and was slowly bleeding out and death was imminent?). Man, I hated PE... Out of respect for my elders, I won't say how I felt about Miss Smith.
I was one of the 5 tallest kids in the entire school, and ... if you people think I'm clumsy now, you have no idea how bad it was then. I remember tripping up the stairs, multiple times (once, I fell at the feet of Chance G., Lathan F., and... gasp... Allen B. and the Trapper Keeper busted wide open, as did my head, and I had no other option but to stand up and gather things up and run away in embarrassment... good times). I fell through the bleachers in the gym (or at least, my leg did), more than once.
I'm not gonna go into what happened on Halloween in 7th grade, as this is a public forum, but please believe me when I say that I caught a lot of flack from those jr. high boys over my costume.
Since I've already borne my soul regarding my 8th grade year that was all about Allen B., I'm gonna spare you all that drama and move back in time to my oh-so-secret love affair with David S. in the 7th grade. Oh, how I loved him. Did he even have a clue? HECK NO. Did he know I existed? Yes, I think so, but that was more due to our families swapping plates of cookies back and forth (not to mention our being in the same ward and his dad working for my dad), than it had to do with, uhm... me personally. And yet, I loved him. I couldn't help it. He was taller than me, and he had brown eyes just like Ralph Macchio. I mean, really, what's not to love? Only, I couldn't EVER let him know. So my friend Holly and I made up a code name for him. You know, so we could talk about him "in public". So what was the code I came up with? Yeah, it was pretty genius. "Somebody." You know, as in "Who do you like, Laurie?" "Somebody." (insert ridiculous girly giggling here) I mean it, we called him "Somebody" all the freakin time. In the halls, on the bus, in the relative privacy of our own homes when we'd talk on the phone into the wee hours of the night (by which I mean 9:00, because that was bedtime). We thought we were SO COOL. (I'm not gonna go into how I would just about swoon every time they'd play I Want To Dance With Somebody at one of the school dances. I was pretty sure that Whitney was singing that song just for me. Nay, us.) Oh geez, what a dork.Let's take a moment and talk about Mrs. Flake, who was possibly the world's meanest Home Ec teacher of all time. She made us pick out and re-sew so many lines in those stupid hot pads that I swear I went through an entire spool of baby pink thread on one hot pad. Yeah, even the day that I sewed my own finger into the interfacing... did I get sympathy (or even a barf bag... I never have been good with blood)? No. She took one look at my left index finger attached to the pink gingham covered interfacing and said "you'll need to pick that out and start over". Oh, how I hated her.
Now, about my hair. Oh my gosh, I wish I'd thought to have my mom send me a copy of my 8th grade school picture so I could show you all how, well, awkward I was. My hair was the worst. It was between almost-brown and actually-brown, that sort of dishwater color (it didn't get truly brown until I was in high school, and not as dark as it is now until my early 20's). It was frizzy, but not curly, and too heavy to hold the "wings" that were so very popular in the late 80's. Since I couldn't talk my mom into paying for a perm, and I was too lazy to get up at 4:00 and curl every strand on my head with a curling iron, I came up with what I thought was the perfect "almost permed look" solution. I'd wash my hair at night, then separate it into about 20 sections and braid it so it could dry with the kinks in it... then I'd get up in the morning and curl the tails of the braids. Well, usually, I'd curl them. If I got up in time. Some days I'd go to school with hair that had braid waves and then the obvious rubberband mark about an inch into the hair. Oh, I was so very very classy. So sophisticated. How humiliating.
Oh yeah, Jr. High was NOT the best time of my life. I'll grant that some of the best friends of my life came out of people that I met during those two years, and a lot of those friends are still part of my life, for which I am very grateful. Having spent an hour or so looking back at the idiocy/clumsiness/dorkiness that defined my life when I was a teenager I'm torn between thinking "some things never change" and "oh my gosh, I'm so glad that I'm past that". At the end of the day, life is funny. I do think it's funny-er if you can laugh at it, of course, which is why I really am gonna call my mom and ask her to forward me some photographic evidence of the perm/crimp/braid thing I was trying to pull off 20 years ago. (And if that teaser doesn't get you coming back for more in the next 24 hours, I don't know what will.)
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I have never experienced anything close to how I've felt all week. I've been absolutely flooded with emotion... the good, the bad and the ugly. (And if you really know me, you know that when I say "flooded", I mean it. Literally.) But through it all there has been an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the people I have worked with, and for, over the past two years. So, to all of you bank people... I just want to say "thank you". Thank you for teaching me so many things that I couldn't have learned from anyone else, anywhere else. I've always been blessed to work with great people, and this company was no exception. You all know who you are, and hopefully you know that I love you, and why. And to the rest of you... I want to thank you for your friendship and your support in this, as well as in all of the other areas of my life. I love you, too.
And... all of the mushy stuff having been said, it only leaves one thing... Does anyone know anyone who's hiring? *Because I need a job. Seriously. Anyone? ...Anyone?
*To clarify, before anyone has a freakout and panics about my ability to keep myself in the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed - I am not completely destitute and/or jobless (as yet). We are working with the FDIC as they put our loan portfolio together and then go forward. I have a job as long as they need me there, but since no one can be sure how long that'll be, I'm looking. For a job OR a man. I'll take whichever comes first, as long as the money's right. (HA!)