Saturday, September 29, 2007

Off to the farmer's market

The season is almost over which makes me sad! When the pumpkins and apples take over, you know the end is near. How I enjoy the flavorful tomatoes and peaches and fresh herbs in huge bunches... now it will be back to the grocery store staples. I think the farmer's markets must take a pretty big hit on grocery stores because the store I usually go to is pretty stocked all fall, winter and spring, but this summer they were seriously lacking in the variety you would expect.

When we lived in Waterloo, Ontario, we lived near a year round market. In summer there wre TONS of outdoor booths as well as the indoor buildings, but in winter, things were still coming, except then it was the fresh mennonite meats and dairy and baked goods. Upstairs was a continual flee market. That place was FABULOUS and in summer? OMG yum!!!! We went twice a week during the summer and weekly during the cooler months... sometimes I miss living in a more rural area. The city wasn't small, but it wasn't this GINORMOUS area like here where there are millions of people all crowded together. It's expensive too!

Well... I need to get going!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Got an interesting freebie issue of a magazine yesterday

I really dislike most magazines because they are so much paper for so little substance. Then I got this magazine freebie yesterday and I was impressed. First, it is 3 hole punched so I can store it whole or take it apart to store in a binder (nice!!!), then... NO ADVERTISING! Third, I actually learned some things and I'm a pretty darn good cook, but I guess I don't know it all! LOL

This is it: I have never (and I mean NEVER) paid for a subscription to a magazine before. I've gotten a few free year long subscriptions, but never have I actually considered a magazine worth getting even for the minimal fee they are. But.... I think I'm going to pay the $22 for the 6 issues because it's not crap!!! Wow, what a concept! LOL

I know, just what I need is more food stuff, but hey, I love it, right?

Anyone else know of this magazine? Am I giving it higher points than I should? What do you think?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

How to test recipes and not get MORE fat!

I really would like to try some new cake recipes. I have a few GREAT recipes, but my repetoire is still pretty small. I don't want to bake and give it all away (minus a few cupcakes) because what if it's BAD? I also want people to be HONEST and say, "this is too dry" or "this doesn't have much flavor" and not be AFRAID to say, "ICK!" (I know, how many cakes are "ick" but it can happen!)

I suppose I can bring things to mom's club and ethical society and just state... "testing new recipe, tell me what you think", though... but that could be chancy! The Momsclub is my primary market so far (gotta change that!).

The recipes I really like are my yellow cake, my lighter chocolate cake and my darker/heavier chocolate cake. I like my pound cake, but I'm not satisfied with my butter cake... a tad dry IMO. I haven't tried a great white cake recipe yet either.

I have a really good buttercream recipe and chocolate buttercream recipe, but my meringue buttercream was a big bomb in April at home. It was like eating a fluffy stick of butter. It needs more flavor or something. The recipe is PRECISELY as in a handful of books I have, but not appetizing unless people really just want the taste of sweetened butter.

I'm afraid to try many recipes from the Cake Bible since my super dry recipe is from there and a lot of other people complain of dryness with that book. But, at the same time, my great chocolate recipe is from that book, so I know not everything is dry from there.

I also haven't tried a SINGLE recipe from my Professional Pastry Chef book or my European cake book. I've made most of the appealing cakes in the Croatian book though, so I'm good to go there.

I'm talking about this and DH will kill me if I make a bunch of cakes for us to try as he just went down a pant size and he would like to stay there of course! And I'm trying to be better about my weight too! Sigh... I wish this was TRUE health food and not a healthier version of junk food that I make! LOL

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

No mixer can do it all I've concluded

I have a heavy duty electrolux DLX2000 stand mixer. I love it... LOVE IT. It makes HUGE batches of buttercream in the 8 quart mixer and can do a double batch of a cake recipe in the smaller bown with the whisk attachment. For whole grain breads, it's hands down the best mixer as it can handle super stiff doughs. However, I've tried mixing cookie dough a few times and find I prefer how it turns out mixed by hand instead. I don't quite understand WHY the texture is different, but it is. Then, I read some reviews, and yep, that's the conclusion by experts too - KitchenAids are better for cookie batter.

Kitchenaid mixers, on the other hand, are not great at heavy doughs. Most bread making sites say that KA motors will burn out or strain with the load of a heavy, whole grain bread dough. Many cake bakers also lament that it strains with making fondant. Yet for cookie dough and cake batters, it does great.

But... both of these are expensive machines. Especially if you are a serious baker because the smaller KAs are too small for avid bakers. So, you are looking at $500 for the DLX and about $300 on sale for the KA Pro 6 quarts. Set aside the cost, now let's look at how BIG they are. As it is, I don't keep my mixer on the counter, because who has ROOM????? I take out that monster every time I make a cake. I don't even keep a coffee maker on the counter either because we don't use it enough to justify it to be out. Enough space is gobbled by the microwave, toaster oven and the canister set (which holds 5lbs of flour/sugar each).

However, I know a lot of bakers own two KA mixers because when you are baking, it's nice to have more than one machine working at a time. I don't think I'll ever get there, but there are plenty of times I'm tempted to get a Kitchenaid mixer, but I think my husband would kill me as he barely thought it was worth getting the mixer I have and that was an ebay STEAL (got it for $250 SHIPPED on a mislabeled auction).

Though, that doesn't keep me from dreaming and drooling! I have a pretty nice kitchen, but I definitely dream of an even better kitchen that can hold ALL my stuff. Of course, space would be a LOT better in my kitchen if I had a PANTRY!!! Sigh... can't have everything I suppose!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Colette Peters book on cake decorating

Another book I got at the library last weekend was a book on cake decorating by Colette Peters. I can't recall the name offhand, but it's her birthday cake fun book with cake themes from the zodiac and birthstones.

I must admit, it's fun to look at these cakes as they are quite amazing, but I just wonder about these, and ALL the super big or fancy cakes, who PAYS for these? Is there a market for cakes that take tens of hours to make? And cost a lot in ingredients/supplies too. Or, are there just enough hobby people who want to make these special cakes for their own kids/grandkids?

I like a fancy cake to look at, but I would hate to spend ALL that time on a cake and I have a quite a bit of patience, but IMO, a cake should not take DAYS to do. The only times I can see exceptions to that is for weddings and other HUGE parties/celebrations where lots of money and effort are going into the rest of the party too... but for a kid's first birthday? For a boyfriend's birthday? Um... no!

A couple of them I think are super cool looking, but then I wonder, "how do you EAT it?" One is covered, COVERED in M&Ms in a very pretty mosiac pattern. The cake takes like 1200 M&Ms which is a really cool effect, but how would biting into a cake studded with M&Ms taste? I would have to scrape it all off to eat it. Others are covered so much with Royal Icing FLowers or gumpaste items...again, all this effort, just to be brushed aside and tossed out. By the time you can EAT the cake, it's UGLY from being disassembled. Again, just my preference, but I don't want my cake to get "naked" just to be eaten. I want people to just be able to dig in.

So... while it was fun looking at the pictures, I would never make a cake like this - even if I had the talent to do so. That's just too much "stuff" for me to get over in the "cake should be food" thoughts. I know I'm in the minority in thinking that way, but what can I say? that's how I feel about it! LOL

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Sleeping is still good AND he's napping

I don't quite get it, but he's been napping 2-3 hours a day AND sleeping most of the night. He DOES wake up during the night a couple times, but is back to sleep until 7 am. It's kind of funny, most people would probably be bemoaning waking twice during the night with a 29 month old, but when you've been through what I've been through with the lack of sleep, waking twice to be able to sleep until 7 am is HEAVEN and the best it's been yet in his life!

Last night we went to a mini concert at a friend's house and had a great time. I made an apple cobbler and it was gobbled up. I think so few people make things from scratch any more that these are super treats. I just can't imagine BUYING a dessert...ick... They just don't taste the same, especially things made with fruit! Yummy Apple Cobbler.

Speaking of baking, I picked up a great book at the library and it's been confirming things I have decided and teaching me things I didn't know too. It's Cooks Illustrated Baking Illustrated. I just did a review an actually. LOTS of nice tips in there and a lot of their conclusions I've also concluded too. I like that the recipes are BASIC. I'm soooo tired of the fancy schmancy cookbooks these days. Basics should be a staple all cooks should know to be a really good cook, but so many things now are too detailed and too complicated. You can't open your pantry and refrigerator and make anything in most cookbooks... not a good thing IMO!

I haven't tried any of these recipes yet, but I plan to! They sound great!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Getting closer to being ALL organized!

We got the playroom all together yesterday and now my living room is FREE of baby toys! YAY! The room all of sudden looks amazingly bigger! Of course, with all cleaning and reorganizing, you find MORE things that need to be done, but this time it involves DH's stuff and not mine. He'll be busy!

Of course, my older son reminded me that in his room he still has that drawer unit FULL of craft stuff which is my next organizational task. Some goes to the cake studio room and some goes to the playroom depending on what age it's geared towards. And I'm thinking... once that is done... I think we are done with all the switcheroo. Now... how many rooms really are affected. The craft room went completely out of there. The one drawer unit and one toy unit went to older DSs room and some things from older DS's room went to the new study. Then because of the bookcase fiasco, the bookcases downstairs had to go upstairs and then we had more storage in the rec room with those bookcases, so some things went there from the craft/play room. Then some things from the craft/play room went to the storage room and the bulk went to the new play room. But, to make room for things in the storage room, I needed to move some things out of there to the furnace room (behind the furnaces is a storage area under the stairs) and to the laundry room (moved the tool chest to the laundry room and moved the table out). Lastly, all the toys and stray books from the living went down to the play room and rec room. Oh, and how can I forget. With making the cake studio, I removed a lot of cake stuff from the kitchen to put in that rolling cart to be put in the storage room. So... our house has 11 rooms if you count the three storage areas (storage room, furnace room and laundry room) and ALLLLLLL of those rooms were reorganized to some degree except for my bedroom and I can hardly leave that out because for temporary storage while switching rooms, LOTS of boxes landed there temporarily.

NO WONDER this is taking forever and seems so complicated, we are basically reorganizing our whole home!!! Hmm... have you ever wondered about those shows "Clean Sweep" and "Neat"... they do two rooms, but you HAVE to know that if two rooms are a mess, there are areas of the ENTIRE house that needs help and probably LOTS of stuff in those rooms really belong in another room! I suppose it's meant to be a starting point for people to get better organized if two spaces are in good shape, but I bet it's hard to get it all done because, well, it's OVERWHELMING to sift through your belongs while you live there. I know I've been doing it closet by closet, one small area by one small area.... NO WAY could I do it all at once.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What to make for a cake display?

My moms club is having a business open house at the next meeting. I would like to make one or two display things (I have some styrofoam dummies) and then I would like to make something edible for them to TRY my cakes... so cupcake.

Now, most of them have eaten my cupcakes, the yellow cake, so I'm wanting it to be either my chocolate or a mixture of the two. I first thought of making the hamburger cupcakes because those are so cute and have both yellow and chocolate cake, but this meeting will also be the Halloween dress up (second week in October). Maybe I should make pumpkins instead?

Decisions, decisions!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Some age related musings

Now, I KNOW I'm not old, but I was an older mom with my second child. I got married at 23, had my first at 26, we waited several years while DH was getting his PhD, then we started trying, had a miscarriage and then dealt with two years of infertility after that before I got pregnant with Henry when I was 34. He was born when I was 35.

So, here I am, turning 38 in a few months (December) and I have an 11 year old and a 2 year old. All of that seems fine to me now... no biggee, but when I start looking FORWARD, I realize that when my oldest finishes high school, my younger one will be only finishing the 2nd grade!!! When my oldest is done with college (if he does it in 4 years) then my youngest will just be finishing 6th grade... I have a 6th grader NOW, so to think of a graduated college student AND a graduated elementary school student is like, WOW!!!

Then I start thinking about how old I will be when Henry finishes college. I'll be 57 years old, my spouse will be SIXTY!!! and my oldest will be 30 years old!!! OMG!!!

Of course, to DH is is all probably normal as his parents were older, his aunt and uncle even older than that, but for MY Family, that's ancient. My parents were 21 and 19 when I was born and I was not an "oops" baby. I was born 10 months after they were married and was WANTED... My Mom has four kids and by the time the YOUNGEST was 22, she was only 48 years old. My dad, if he were living, would only have been 46!!!! When I was 22, mom was only 43 years old and my dad only 41... can you see what it's freaky to me?

Even now it seems weird that young people probably think we are middle aged. DH is 40... I'm married to someone who is FORTY... How did that happen? He was 26 when we got married! (And he still looks so young, so that makes it even weirder to think he's 40!)

Man, when I was a teenager I thought it was so long ago that my Mom was a teenager and how could she KNOW what I was feeling/thinking? Well, I remember like it was YESTERDAY!!! It's freaking me out that some of my high school classmates have kids graduating from HS already.. on the other hand, some are still having babies!

This aging stuff is just weird!

Despite the nap, some good sleep!

Are we setting a new world record for the amount of sleep both of us are getting? It's unbelievable! He did wake twice during the night, but both times for just a little bit and then slept until 7 am. I cannot DESCRIBE to you how nice that is!!! Nice? FANTASTIC!!!

Yesterday was running errands day (which involved him falling asleep in his stroller for two hours!), so today is a "home" day. I will work on the cake studio and play room today. Now I'm SOOOO close, it's just getting it all lined up and organized. I'll have to ignore the walls that still need papering! Sigh... always something!

No cakes today, but I think I will make an apple cobbler - yum!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Doin' the successful sleep happy dance!

This one is for the baby books! Henry slept through the night for the FIRST TIME in his life last night! He was in bed asleep by 8:20 pm and he woke for his "ten minutes" at 6:15 am this morning!!! That is TWO hours later than usual! It is now 7:20 am and he's STILL SLEEPING!!! OMG!!!! Doin' another jig!

Yesterday it was hanging around the house day and finishing up all the "yuck" of the three room (sort of four room) switcheroo! Well, not all of it, but the bulk of it.

Oh, the little one is up! He heard the tea kettle and now he's sitting nicely beside me drinking orange juice... and is HAPPY! YAY!!! 11 hours of sleep which is about 3 hours more than usual! No less than 2 hours... skipping around again!

Anyway, back to yesterday. He had such good sleep at night the last two nights that he wasn't sleepy at ALL yesterday until about 5 pm and by then, to late for nap. I checked to see if he wanted to go to sleep all afternoon and got a resounding "NO!" each time. He's strange, since he was itty bitty, he would always TELL ME he's ready to take a nap/go to sleep. Now, we do follow a schedule, but he would be bouncing up and down at the mention of nap or going to bed and later, would tell me if he needed an earlier nap or earlier to bed... strange... I know. But, yesterday he didn't act or ask for sleep and so I decided to see how it would go and lo and behold, he slept great last night!!!

Maybe today he'll be sleepy and need a nap, who knows, but the shorter naps (like one hour or less) is KEY!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Found the key to getting more sleep at night!

And that is to NOT let Henry sleep much during the day. It seems he needs about 11 hours of sleep a day, but if he gets 2-3 for a nap, then that means he sleeps 8-9 a night. Now, if I went to bed the same time as he did every night, that would work out, but I would like to spend SOME time with my older son in the evening alone and with my husband.

Last night Henry went to sleep after his bath at 8:30 pm. I went to bed at 10:30 pm. He woke up at 4 am for about 10 minutes, and then slept until 6 am. SOOOOOO much better! Yay!

Because of all our running around yesterday, he had to sneak in a nap in the car. I drove around and parked the car in the shade and sat and waited for Adrian's school to let out which allowed Henry to get about an hour's sleep before I turned off the engine - once the car was off, pop, opened his eyes. He was NOT happy to be awake and for the first 30 minutes he was crying and throwing fits, but after that, he was fine the rest of the day....

We'll see if I have the heart to wake him up while he naps or not. That's so hard to wake a sleeping baby OR toddler.

Now, about cakes. I need to come up with a cake for a 9x13 for the movie "Cars". Surprisingly, that's a harder cake to make "cute" than I thought and it's for a first birthday, so I do want it to be cute and memorable!

Monday, September 17, 2007

What to do today?

I have so little time on Mondays because schools let out at 1pm every Monday. This morning I took in our kitten to get altered, at 1 pm I'm picking up my son and his friend to go for some ice cream and then at 4:30 pm I am taking in Bella (the mommy cat) for her vet visit and I might even have to go BACK to get Pippen as when I dropped him off they are now saying he can go home at 6 pm instead of what I was told on the phone last week (grrrr..) with being able to take them both home after Bella's appt. Well, maybe he'll be ready.

The only thing I know is that I need to get another cat carrier as Pippen has the one and Bella needs to get to the vet too. I had a feeling we would need two carriers today! Oh well, one is HUGE as our previous cat was HUGE, so when I need to take both, I can use the big one and use the smaller one when we have just one to take in which will happen I suppose.

The weather has been so gorgeous that we have been going out every day to enjoy this fabulous cool yet sunny weather. I LOVE it and it seems to be agreeing with Henry too. He slept really well last night, YAY!!! And guess what, I feel better! LOL

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Some days are just weird!

Yesterday, Henry decided once again that 5 am was a great time to wake up. Sure, it gets me day off nice and early, but not in a nice way. I always make him stay in bed until 6 am as I don't want to encourage the 5 am stuff (he remains pretty quiet, but it doesn't seem to be helping his sleep any!)

Then, we got up, had breakfast, and then went to the farmer's market. Again, Henry was my big helper. He really likes helping me with selecting the vegetables and fruit, so once again, it was an easy outing. Came home, got older DS to Tae Kwon Do, and then came home waiting for Henry to SLEEP so I could sleep too.

I was supposed to meet a friend at the park at Noon, but I could see that wasn't going to happen at noon. So, gave her a call and then promptly put henry to bed. That was around 11:15 am. I woke up around 12:30. The phone had rung 4 times and even though Sven was getting the phone, I couldn't keep sleeping through that, so I got up. Henry kept sleeping. At first we said we would try to get to the park at 1:30 pm, but Henry was still sleeping.

So, I worked on that thank you cake, spent time with DS and DH, and Henry was STILL sleeping. FINALLY, FINALLY at 4 pm (yes you read that right) I went upstairs to try to wake Henry "gently". We had been trying to make normal noise while upstairs for the hour before that and NOTHING... so, I started to wake him up... and he was NOT happy about that... I think we worked on that for about 45 minutes. Then, finally at like 5 pm, we got to the park FINALLY.

I thought for sure Henry would have a terrible night of sleep last night. I didn't put him down at a normal time, but at 10:30 pm and he went down IMMEDIATELY and slept until 6 am this morning!!! And then was in and out until 6:30 am snoozing.

Our new plan of action is to not let him nap for more than 2.5 hours. Those long naps (and he's done a few 3 and 4 hour naps recently) CAN'T be good for night sleeping. All of this in the last two weeks has been so weird with his sleeping, but we need to return to the consistent bedtime he's always had, but to do that, we can't have him napping 3-4.5 hours until late afternoon! I said, I had time to decorate a cake yesterday. It was "use my leftover colored icing day" and it turned out pretty cute. This was a freebie cake, so I didn't want to go too crazy!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Started to do some stuff for me!!!

First I ordered some "woman" bras and have decided to retire the nursing bras. My toddler only nurses to sleep, so why do I need to wear those AWFUL droopy bras any more?

Then, I found some new jeans and black slacks and three tops that FIT and aren't mommy clothes. I think so much of the reason i feel like crap is taht I feel like a slob all the time.

Of course, after all that "boosting" yesterday I got 4 hours of sleep last night, so now I feel like crap and could care LESS about looking good! LOL THAT is the vicious cycle.

Off to the farmer's market this morning (love that!), then to decorate a cake, then to take my older son to TKD and then I'm TAKING A NAP, then meeting a friend at the park for a walk.. Hmm... I also need to head to the store, but NOT until I've gotten some sleep!

Sometimes this parenting gig is WAY overrated!

Friday, September 14, 2007

It's FRIDAY!!!

And I feel better today. I think the situation with DH will work itself out. I've noticed he's beginning to be a "bit" more affectionate, so I just need to give things more time and do what I can to make things better.

I have a simple "thank you" cake to do this weekend, but that's about it. Today? I am going to TREAT MYSELF... well, if getting some pants that fit and some clothes that are less mommy like is treating myself! It's really a necessity, but I haven't done it yet because I haven't wanted to buy clothes in my size! LOL Silly, I know - but a couple pairs of pants and nice shirts would be a welcome addition to my mommy soiled clothes. They still need to be kid friendly, but they don't need to be from Target!

Too bad I'm way sleepy today. Right now I just want to curl up and sleep! Henry didn't nap again yesterday and then he slept just 9.5 hours last night. Yet he woke up smiling and raring to go... he inherited some "I don't need to sleep genes" from somewhere, but not from me! LOL

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Gettin' personal with y'all

OK, DH and I are just not connecting. We had a rough patch there for awhile (financial issues, DH had some minor health issues and baby/lack of sleep issues). We basically co-existed.

Things are getting better and we are enjoying each other's company more now, but... well, there is still one MAJOR problem in the bedroom. I'm not exaggerating in saying we haven't connected there in six months - SIX MONTHS!!!

And... I think the biggest issue is that he's uncomfortable with me weight. I don't like it either, but I've been this size MOST of our marriage - was heavier when we conceived Henry, as a matter of fact. But, for some reason, I can tell it's the "unspeakable" reason. He doesn't want to voice it, but I can "see it" in his eyes when he looks at me, you know? And it makes me feel horrible. He's not being mean about it, but he's not attracted to me, and well, I wouldn't be attracted to me either.

I am trying to get better about it and I did lose a little weight so far and I'm gearing up to starting an exercise program now that I think we are discovering a way for Henry to sleep. Problem is: Henry doesn't sleep. I don't sleep... to get a boost of energy, I eat... more and more research is suggesting that lack of sleep is VERY much related to weight gain and I agree COMPLETELY and since I feel like a slug, I don't want to exercise and exercise has ALWAYS been key for me. I actually eat quite well, but if I don't add exercise with it? I gain weight - simple as that.

Problem is, 98% of all people who lose weight, gain it back and I've done that SEVERAL times. So, I'm scared quite honestly. I'm also a bit resentful. I give an AWFUL lot to the family and I feel I'm being punished... yet I know he feels he's being punished (we had this conversation once before). Part of me wants to say ONCE I lose the weight, "Sorry, you didn't want me when I was heavy, you can't have me now." I know I won't feel that way when it actually comes down to it, but it's how I feel now a little inside.

I find myself crying about it quite a bit to myself. I wish weight loss and weight loss maintenance was EASY and I pretty much refuse to go under the knife. DH wouldn't allow it anyway. It's all about discipline. He comes from a thin family and for him, taking off a few pounds is easy and keeping it off is too, so why can't I do it? Why??? because I'm my own worst enemy is why - and I know it.

Anyone have some words of encouragement? I will be cross posting this.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Making cupcakes this morning and it's making me happy!

I love making things for people and seeing them smile and enjoy. It puts me in a good mood all day long to provide an essential part of a person's special day. All day on Saturday I was thinking about how the Sweet 16 girl would react to her cake and it just made me smile. It was so special and I helped the Mom's vision come to fruition and that just makes me feel good. It's the same with cooking ANYTHING really. When I'm by myself, or even with just the kids, I could care less what I prepare, but for a sit down meal for the entire family, most of the time I try to prepare something that they will truly enjoy... and holiday meals? Well... DAYS of preparing lead to spectacular meals!

So, I'm making just simple yellow cupcakes topped with chocolate and regular buttercream, but I know it will make the kids (and maybe some of the moms) happy, so it makes me happy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Let's talk about dirty dishes and kitchen mess

This is the bane of my life. Sometimes I wish I didn't care about environmental things or cared about how it 'feels' to eat from plastic/paper, because, I'm tellin' ya, I HATE doing dishes!!! And cake days??? Ugh!!!!! I think it's the BIGGEST reason people start buying cakes instead of making them - it's not about the decorations (most people don't ever learn how to decorate well - but probably COULD if they wanted to), it's about the mess you make when you make a cake - especially when you do it from scratch.

First, you have the cake batter dishes - a couple measuring cups, some spoons and usually two mixing bowls, mixer beaters, and then two baking pans usually. Unless you are the neatest person in the planet, you will also get some spilled flour and sugar on the counters and around the mixer in the process. Then, the drying rack and counters get all crumby when the cake comes out of the over. But then comes the frosting. First, another mixing bowl and most likely MORE mixer mess with powder sugar residue all around. If you are doing colors, then you need bowls for mixing colors, and spoons. Now, let's decorate - add in tips, bags, and spatulas... Did your family eat at least ONE meal in the meantime? Add those dishes in there too. Now... your kitchen probably looks like it vomited all over itself - mess galore!

I "TRY" to do the cake things in shifts, but it doesn't always happen, especially if I'm doing it while the family is up. If I do it late at night, I can get the cake batter stuff cleaned up and I usually do the big stuff by hand because they take up too much space in the dishwasher. On cake days we do two, sometimes THREE loads in ONE day!!! It's insane!

I have started to use disposable bowls and spoons for mixing colors if I have a lot of them, but I always feel bad about that, so my kitchen has to already be in a super sorry state to get me to give in to that.

The mess in the kitchen is the biggest reason I offer delivery! I don't want to scare off customers by showing off my cake mess!!! I KNOW all cake decorators deal with this too, but unless you are able to get things done well in advance, cake mess will still be there when the cake is finished and ready for delivery... again, another reason I want to get that cake studio up and running! I want to hide my cake mess from public view! LOL

If any of you cake people have some words of wisdom for me besides "I don't move onto the next step until the mess is cleaned up", then PLEASE lay them on me! I'm still dealing with the dish back-up since Sunday (doesn't help I had migraines the last two days).

Monday, September 10, 2007

Well, she keeps me humble!

As I mentioned I made a spare chocolate torte for the family which I filled with fresh strawberry filling. MIL was over for dinner last night and I thought for SURE she would like this cake! First, there was no frosting (she doesn't like American style frosting - only the custard types which aren't really frosting). Second, she doesn't like the flavor/texture of American cake, but this chocolate cake is sooooo moist and dense and on the way to being a brownie and she MAKES a type of brownie.

Well, she took a bite and then asked what kind of chocolate - I said dark cocoa - and high quality cocoa. Then she takes another bite and says, "I can't eat this". Sigh... the rest of the family is devouring it... when I take it to parties, people go for seconds... for customers I get rave reviews... but my MIL? "I can't eat this." But, at least she's consistent, NOT ONE American cake will she eat. Now, my Croatian cakes? She devours those... I guess I just won't cut her a piece of cake the next time she comes over to save me the frustration...

Oh, and the family LOVED the Sweet 16 cake! Yay! I'm wanting to perfect the bow and want to learn how to make it with thinner loops. I followed the tutorial exactly, but in photos I see other people have learned how to make it thinner and therefore, more convincing as a bow... though I read in one thread I followed that people are using Fixadent to strengthen the bow parts? WHAT???? Using a denture cream to make it harder? I know they probably tell people not to eat the bow, but how did someone get the IDEA to use denture cream to strengthen fondant/gum paste decorations? Ew....

That's another reason I am trying to do this as natural as possible... food items should be FOOD items and a cake, in my humble opinion, should not need a caution sign saying "Please don't eat the "edible" decorations". I'm sorry... I don't get it... if you can't eat it, they why not use a real ribbon bow? Or use other clays and put a spacer on the cake so that it doesn't come into contact with it....Why use sugar if you can't EAT that sugar? Maybe I'm in the minority in that thinking... but it's weird to me! LOL I like to be able to cut into a cake and eat it and if I shouldn't eat it, I want that to be obvious - like a plastic toy is a sure sign I shouldn't eat that decoration! LOL

I'm an opinionated one, aren't I?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Migraine city!

I have migraine headaches once in awhile. Well, I have headaches PERIOD quite a bit, but fortunately, migraines are rare, but they are BAD! Yesterday afternoon I started to get a headache and i didn't realize it was a migraine type (different headaches feel different usually). So, I took one aleve to prevent it from getting worse. It didnt TOUCH it. We were at the used bookstore and I felt it growing instead of disappearing.

I came home and thought that maybe it was tension, so I took two ibuprofin, and I know that I was overlapping medicine, but I was beginning to be in too much pain to care. I went to bed with the ibuprofin not touching it either... now my head wants to split open. I have no excedrin at home (why?!?!?) and I couldn't take it even if I wanted to because I was under TWO drugs already. Of course, Henry was having a hard night last night too, so he had me up about 4 times and until about 4 am this morning I felt I was having my head smashed in.

I woke up this morning with no headache, but in the 45 minutes I've been up, I feel it coming on. My migraines in the last couple years tend to be several days long too when I do get them. FORTUNATELY excedrin does work for me VERY well. It messes with my digestive track a bit, but it does take care of the splitting headache at least. I think I'll be making a drug store run here in the next half hour or so!

OK, gotta go make some breakfast for me - cats and little one have been taken care of though!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Gotta say, this is another of my favorites!

First picture is the sloppy, icky bow, second is successful bow, last is finished cake.
Phew, it's done! Notice I didn't check in this morning? LOL I started it at 10 pm last night - baked and made the bow parts and colored the icing. I went to bed at 1:30 am, got up at 6:30, iced it, made the bow and realized that I had made the loops too thin and too long, so I made new bow parts. Then I went to the Farmer's Market, came home, put on the borders, went to work at a fair this morning for 3 hours, then came home, had lunch, put on the writing and polka dots, remade the bow and THANK GOODNESS this time it turned out, then added the roses which she wanted if I had time and if it fit.

Now, my family had seen me assembling it all morning, but Adrian hadn't seen the bow until it was on the finished cake. When he came downstairs, he said, "Wow!!! How did you do that? that's fantastic!" OK, that sealed it, this is a really good cake! LOL DH was really impressed too.

When I delivered it the birthday girl didn't want to see it because she wanted it to be a surprise and the mother loved it. Her only comment was, "I LOVE it, but if I were to change one thing, I would have the handwriting darker." I agreed, but told her I was keeping with her "keep it light, not too dark" so I was afraid to go darker, and she agreed, lighter was better than darker as that was her concern.

I made a spare cake for the family and SOOOO yummy (though ours didn't have icing, just fresh strawberry filling and dark chocolate torte. It turned out SOOOO well and survived the drive there. Phew... another "something new" cake and still a success. Though my first attempt at the bow was scary - good thing I was prepared for that! LOL

Friday, September 7, 2007

Feel bad about my rant

I sounded like a spoiled brat... of course, MIL doesn't OWE us anything and she doesn't have to watch the kids, but it's very lopsided. We help her A LOT. I go to help her change her sheets, when she came back from her trip I stocked her refrigerator with essentials. I watered her plants and checked her mail when she was gone. Whenever she has a doctor's appt. not in the usual building, I drive for her (she's afraid to drive most places), if she needs something to order or to deal with something, I help as she's not confident with her English and has NO computer skills and so on. DH helps her with investments so she doesn't lose her funds (DH is an economist)... So... expecting or HOPING that she watch the kids like once or twice a month for a couple hours is not unreasonable, imo. DH and I have not had more than TWO dates in close to 3 years either.

People will say, "it's nice your MIL is close to help with the kids"... well... she's more work than help, so I don't agree. Guaranteed that when I go over there she will have things for me to do - either phone calls or garbage or deciphering her mail or something.

But.. onwards to cakes - it's crunch time!!! Gotta get it done TODAY! LOL It's due tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

I'm a big schmuck, I didn't go ANYWHERE today!

I was just too tired and then I got depressed because I was so tired... it's such a vicious cycle! but, I have the ingredients I need for the bow, so I'll attempt it tonight, I PROMISE and pinky swear!

Now, if someone could just trade me with a GOOD mother in law, I would be SOOOOOOO happy. She wanted to come to our house to watch Henry. She told DH, "well there's so much more for henry to do at home." Excuse me, I haven't been away from Henry like for SIX weeks - not a single day or single outing, don't you think I need a break?!?!?! She lived with her mom when DH was little (his parents split right before he was born) and she says all the time, "Oh, after Sven went to bed I would go to the movies and spend time with my boyfriends" and that and she could ALWAYS go wherever she wanted to because her mom would watch her kid for her... I know she thinks the best place for a child is their home, but GOOD GRIEF, don't I ever need a break????? She got one nearly DAILY at her own admission... OK... breathe Melissa...

Of course, you all don't know the situation of MIL, but she moved to this country to be near her only son and to help us with the kids. She said when we got married that when we had kids she wanted to watch them for us. And, she did with Adrian, but with Henry? almost NOTHING. She moved to be in the SAME TOWN as us after we skipped all over the place for a few years so she could be near to help and she NEVER helps, EVER... We have to help her all the time, so I'm always a bit miffed... that and we are about as polar opposite as two people can be, so you can imagine the "tension". It's terrible, but I'm always happier when she's not here and wouldn't be sad AT ALL if she moved back to Croatia... she's a MAJOR, MAJOR, MAJOR thorn in my side. It doesn't help that she and DH are always having spats too. They just push each other's buttons so easily... Sigh... what's a gal to do?

But, MIL will watch Henry tomorrow at her place, so I'll pick this place up, vacuum and get all the things done that I can't do with him underfoot. That kid is TERRIFIED of the vacuum, so you can imagine the condition of my stairs!

You will hear me rant about MIL fairly often. She is unbelievable and I really have nowhere else to rant, so you'll have to bear with me. Her one "good" thing is that she thinks I'm BRILLIANT with cakes, LOL, but... she won't eat American cake and makes all sorts of noise when I make one for the family... really nice! LOL

OK, I feel better and now it's time to get little one to bed.

GOTTA hit the cake store today - no more procrastinating!

Despite only 4 hours of sleep last night, I have to get my butt in gear and get to the cake store. Henry ended up taking a 3 hour nap yesterday and went down for the night at 8:45 pm no problem. I stayed up to watch the last two episodes of "Top Chef" (have I said how much I like that show and I almost NEVER watch TV) and then I tried to sleep, but I couldn't. I was still TRYING to sleep when Henry woke for his usual 10 minutes around 12:30 am and then I was finally able to crash. Henry woke for good at 5 am and we both sort of lazed/snoozed until finally getting out of bed at 6 am.

Today, besides dealing with garbage, I will make my first fondant bow and if I'm up to it, a cake for DS's school. My MIL will watch Henry for a few hours on Friday so I can get work done too. Henry really hasn't seen grandma in over a month, so I'm surprised she was still a bit like, "Why, what do you need to do?" Hmmm... she just took our older son for a MONTH (because she wanted to) yet she can't spend 3 hours with her only other grandchild? I HATE, HATE, HATE that she plays favorites, but she certainly does. She used to watch Adrian every day at this age, so it can't be because she doesn't like kids this age. She just seems to only have room in her heart for one person at a time.... and I know that is partially true because she said it's part of the reason she decided to only have one child after having DH. But... that's her and her "ways" I suppose.

I did get to the laundry, yucky dishes, and some organizing yesterday (guilt of being lazy does get me!), so I'm not in too bad of shape at home either. Cake studio isn't quite usable, but SOON, very soon it will be a great place!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Well, the stinker is sleeping!

It took him over 30 minutes to go to sleep, but he's been sleeping for 2.5 hours already. Part of the reason it took so long for him to go down was because the two cats were having a wild romp upstairs running all over the place including my bed. It was entertaining, but not very sleep provoking to say the least.

Of course, I really, really needed to run errands and instead, I'm stuck at home just WAITING for him to wake up ad shortly after he does, my older son will be coming home from school... the joys of the school year schedule!

I "should" be spending this time reorganizing my craft stuff or folding laundry or the "yucky" dishes that the dishwasher can't handle, but nope... I'm goofing around the net and watching one of my FAVORITE shows, "Top Chef" reruns... well... I guess I can't always be good!

My son decided for himself he didn't want to nap

Is 2 years 4 months a little early to give up naps? I know I'm not ready for him to give them up. I was really hoping it would mean that he would sleep a LOT better at night, but he went to bed at 8:45 pm, woke at midnight for about 10 minutes, and then slept until 6 am. That is 9 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. That's what my 11 year old still needs... and he was never a long sleeper either, but at this age I KNOW he slept 10 to 11 hours a day...ugh... why ME??? To have TWO kids who didn't like to sleep? Adrian would take HOURS to get him to sleep, Henry goes to sleep easily but wakes too early! UGH!!! Oh Well...

Today I am have to run several errands, but I need to get to the cake supply store too to get to making that bow for the cake! I found a great tutorial, so hopefully it will go smoothly (PLEASE). One of these days I'll make a cake that isn't all "new" to me and then it will be perfecting skills instead of learning new ones all the time.

I know there was something else I wanted to say this morning and for the LIFE of me I can't remember!... I guess stay tuned for a later update! LOL

Monday, September 3, 2007

School starts tomorrow and I know I won't have time

So, I will post now. Well, somehow, I got enough energy to make those cupcake cheeseburgers. They were actually quite easy and it must have been my lucky day because I had in the freezer red, green and yellow/orange ziplocs of icing - just enough for the condiments of the cupcakes.

They were a HUGE hit at the party and I tried a sliver and they were quite good. I decorated only the perimeter of the cupcakes, so there was actually very little icing - just nice, yummy yellow and chocolate cakes and people LOVED the taste too... big score for me.

Also, I have a huge mixer, so I made extra and now I have 2 8" yellow cakes and 2 6" chocolate cakes which I will make for the end of the first week of school for Adrian's teacher's lounge. So, all in all it was a good cake day.

I told people at the picnic that I was starting a little business and they all felt I would be very successful... well, it takes ORDERS to be successful! I love that people love my cakes, but compliments don't make success.. but I must be patient. It IS happening, just ever so slowly.

It was a good day though - a beautiful day at someone's home on the Chesapeake Bay - very nice indeed.

I think I'm ready to abolish my son's naps

Something's gotta give with this sleeping situation. I realize I'm writing about sleep like ALL THE TIME because it's so LOST on me. Henry had a cold, still does a bit, so he's napping longer which is fine if it didn't have other consequences.

The last two nights his sleeping has been horrendous. Last night he went down at 9 pm, woke for about 10 minutes at midnight and then woke up at 1 am and was up until past 3 am. Then he woke at 5 something (can't remember because I was trying to ignore him) and he didn't go back to sleep until we got up at 7 am. It doesn't matter if I keep him in his bed or bring him to ours - he WON'T sleep!

So, I went to bed at 10 pm last night and basically got 5 hours of interrupted sleep - again... It's just too hard to function like that continually. For instance, the idea, the mere IDEA of making a cake now is impossible. I had 5 hours of sleep last night and about 4 hours the night before last... HOW can I get excited about a cake when I'm hating life right now???

That has been my biggest obstacle to getting this cake thing off the ground. I just don't have the energy to make "practice" cakes and free cakes for marketing purposes for school and the like. I'm just trying to survive the day.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

That sleep I wasn't getting? _Now_ I'm feeling it

Now that all kids are home and the majority of the work is done in the house, I'm tired and I think I've relaxed enough to sleep. I took a 3 hour nap yesterday and STILL slept a full night's sleep. Of course, the nigh before I got hardly any sleep thanks to the toddler's antics and last night I was woken several times, but here it is 9 am and I'm ready to go back to bed. I'm just worn out.

Everyone agrees the changes in the house has given us more room which is great, but there is still all the fine details to be dealt with. The last few boxes of stuff that need new homes, some reorganizing of closet stuff and so on - the HARD stuff really.

All of that will have to wait until this weekend is over though. We've been enjoying the kitten and the mommy and just hanging out as a family too. Henry (the little one ) is still getting over a cold and Adrian is getting one (hmmm... maybe that's why I'm tired? Maybe I'm fighting a cold too?)

We have a nice get-together with people tomorrow... I should make those hamburger cakes if I ever get enough energy to move!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The cats have landed!

And Adrian (and Henry) are in love. They are the sweetest cats. We have changed their names and their "new" names sem to fit them. We all think that Hobbit names are great for cats, so we named them Belladonna Took (Bella for short) and Peregrin Took (Pippen for short). Belladonna was Bilbo Baggins mother and Pippen's great, great Aunt. Belladonna means "Beautiful woman" which really seems to fit this Mommy of three kittens and adopted mommy of three more kittens, plus she is really pretty.

Peregrin means traveller in strange countries and that seems to fit a kitten who has gone from home, to a shelter, to a rescue foster and now to our home. Plus, how cute does Pippen sound for a little cat. He's a REALLY pretty kitten and has TOTALLY adopted our oldest son Adrian. He LOVES him - head butting him, giving kitty kisses and even slept with Adrian. I don't think Adrian could be any happier.

Bella has adopted the "adults". She follows us everywhere and took to sleeping at my feet last night. Having two HEALTHY and young cats made me realize how long it had been since we had a healthy cat. Nimbus had been deteriorating for so long that you start to lose sight of what "normal" cat behavior is. They are both so sweet - makes me wonder why they weren't adopted yet!

OK, off to love my two new kitties!