Friday, September 30, 2011

Under The Weather...


Yep. That's where I've been. Why isn't there a term 'over the weather' when we're feeling chipper and good? Anyway, because of this I haven't been on the computer or at my camera so the Meri Meri cupcake kit give-away will take place on Monday.

Thanks for your patience. Have an 'over the weather' weekend. :)

xoxo

Monday, September 26, 2011

Collegiate Cake Pops

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I love tailgate parties and cake pops are a perfect treat to bring along.
I guess it’s pretty obvious where my allegiance lies.

There are so many recipes and instructions for cake pops on other blogs and websites and of course there is the Queen of all Cake Pops, Angie at Bakerella so I’ll just show you what I came up with for my decorations.

I made my pops a little larger so I could have a larger surface area to place the edible images on. I like the larger size. They’re a touch less dainty for the guy tailgaters and they make a nice display. 

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To hold the pops upright, I placed them in a school mug filled with rice. I then covered the top of the rice with shredded paper. It makes for a very sturdy base that is bottom heavy. 

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The images? They’re made from edible paper printed with edible ink on a Pixma printer I use solely for this purpose. The paper works like regular printer paper and cuts easily. There is no backing. I "glued" the cut-out image with a very thin spread of piping gel applied with my finger.

I know not many people have this set up but a simple stencil can be traced from a downloaded image and painted over with candy coating or you can buy the edible paper and draw your own images or draw directly on the cake pops with edible ink markers. I like Americolor gourmet writers. Or make it super simple and colorful with polka dots.

Do you like polkas dots? I love them!

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They’re made by dipping an end of a lollipop stick in the candy coating. If they get a little pointy peak on them let them set until hardened and then rub your finger over the point. The heat from your finger will smooth them out.

I wanted flags on the sticks so I made some tags with well known ‘SC lingo.

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Ribbons are an easy way to add more color and texture too.
Cut two identical strips of ribbon. Place the color you want closer to the cake pop on top. Make a loop.

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Bring the loose ends of the ribbon through the loop and pull tight.

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Trim the ends at an angle. Now you have ribbon flags!

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So, what do you think? Would collegiate cake pops get your tailgate party on the scoreboard?

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Fight On!
On Wednesday, I’ll be kicking off a Meri Meri cupcake kit give-away with a tailgate theme. I hope you’ll get into the game!

For more USC Cake Pops, click HERE!

Need some edible images for your team's cake pops?  
Send me an email and we'll talk. :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

“Arrrgh”…

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Have a unique and beautiful weekend with some unexpected color thrown into the mix.

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Morro Bay.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

College: On A Scale of 1 to 10 - 2011


1 = :( ............... 10 = :)

and somewhere in between = :/

The Junior Year Drop-Off

Anxious to leave and get on the road by 5 PM, Friday.
Note: It's 10:30 AM, Saturday

Son ~ 5 :/ ............... Mom ~ 9 :)
Really, what's the hurry?

The first off-campus apartment ~

Quite a bit different from last year's resort.

"Hey, we've got a BBQ!"
Son ~ 8 :) ............... Mom ~ 1 =:0

Room Mates ~

Very nice boys who "study hard and go to the library."
I choose to believe.

Son ~ 10 :) ............... Mom ~ 10 :)

The Apartment
Location. Location. Location.

On the corner of two very busy streets.
Across the street from train tracks.
With a chirping cross walk.
With constant pedestrian traffic.
Constant. Pedestrian. Traffic.

Son ~ 10 :) ............... Mom ~ 2 :(

One reason for the traffic ~

I hear short-shorts are the unofficial school uniform for co-eds.
And if they're not, I've been told "they should be."

Parting Words ~

From Mom and Dad ~
"Plan ahead"
"Stay on top of things"
"Get enough sleep"
"Eat well"
"Take your vitamins"
"We love you"

From son ~
"Thank you for everything"

"Love you"
"Okay, okay, okay"
"Bye"


Have a wonderful junior year. See you for Thanksgiving! :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Posting on Patch Today

Today, I'm posting "What's In Your Late Summer Garden (Besides Spiders)?" over on Patch. Patch is an online community newspaper via AOL/Huffington Post where I'm a regular contributor. Often times my posts are picked up by other local communities too.

When you visit today, you may be able to find your own community's edition by clicking on "change towns" on the upper right area.

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If you do come over, please leave a comment. I'd love to have you visit!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Another County Fair. Another Sweet, Chocolately Win!

Booyah! (I can’t believe I just said that). Chocolate layer cake lightening can strike twice and it did this past weekend as my son’s entry at the Los Angeles County Fair won First Place in chocolate layer cakes and Best of Division for all layer cakes!

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Coming off our victory from the OC Fair in July, we thought, just for fun, to go for the big daddy of fairs and around these parts it’s the LA County Fair. The fair is HUGE in size, exhibits and culinary entries. Since we had to travel about an hour to drop off the cake I also entered extra wedding cookies that I made for my niece’s wedding back in May. They won a ribbon too and no, they weren’t sampled but considered edible art.

A couple days before the fair, we dropped off our goodies. There were so many people bringing in entries (over 400) we had to stand in line for awhile to check in. I decided not to box up the cake but thought it would have a better chance at arriving unscathed if I placed it on a piece of the anti-slip material one puts under a rug. If you ever needs to transport something in your car I highly recommend it. This little trick to transport anything in the car has never failed me. Ever.

Eventhough I was certain the cake itself wasn’t going anywhere during the drive, I still held my breath as we opened the back of the car upon arrival. We had banked on off-ramp curves and inclines and since the cake was iced right before we left home I was half-way expecting to see the top layer separated from the bottom but as you can see all was well and delish.
LA County Fair

When we arrived at the fair on Sunday as spectators, my husband saw the cake behind the display glass immediately and said, "It won"! It was so much fun to see my son's face with his name on the card to receive the official recognition he deserved since my name was on the OC Fair registration though he made that cake too.

At first I didn't recognize the cake because they put all the entries on ceramic plates and the green plate kind of threw me

Name card

Oh yes. My cookies won second place in the edible arts division.

LA County Fair 2nd place

A spectacular fondant cake with airbrushing, sugar art and obvious superior talent rightly came in first. You can see just the top of the octopus’ head peeking underneath the basket in the photo above. I wasn't expecting to win anything this time around since there were many more entries than the OC Fair so actually winning a ribbon of any place was a nice surprise.

Since all these photos were taken with a shaky phone I'll post the cake recipe after I take better pictures this weekend. The recipe will also be published in the fair’s cookbook.

I don’t know the monetary awards we won at the LA Fair but we won $200 at the OC Fair. That was a nice perk.

We definitely hit a culinary home run this summer and speaking of home runs, the four of us went to an Angel’s game a few weeks ago where it was announced everyone in section 420 would win Jumbo Jacks for an entire year if one of the Angels hit a home run in that particular inning. Up steps rookie Peter Bourjos (rhymes with ‘gorgeous’) who hits one out of the park. We now refer to him as “Burger Boy” and he is doing great this season.

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So thanks Peter, for the year’s supply of burgers x4! There’s a college boy I know who bakes award winning cakes that is feeling very lucky that his apartment will be a couple blocks away from his home run hamburgers.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The College Send Off

My first college send off was in 2006. It was pretty traumatic—for me. My first born had decided to attend a college on the east coast when given the choice of multiple in-state colleges or one of the two 3,000 miles away. We had actually encouraged him to venture out and experience something completely new in his life while he was financially supported.

I did what I suspect all mothers do to help their child and themselves make the college transition; repeated trips to Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target, the mall, sudden crying fits in the car when alone listening to heart-wrenching songs that have nothing to do with college but become a catalyst to let it flow. Think Harry Chapin and “Cats In The Cradle”. Of course, by the time we moms arrive home and the garage door goes up we carry in the bags along with our composure.

Although try as we may not to succumb to the other side of bittersweet, it’s there, along with the inexplicable joy of seeing our child anticipate their next big adventure. After all, this is what we’ve all been working towards- independence, the opportunities of higher education, less trips to the market to buy milk - again. I found it difficult to understand why I felt sadness when all I wanted and expected to feel was that joy and excitement which, in turn, lead me to feeling confused and somewhat guilty. I believe this conflict also added to the heightened emotions.

What I didn’t want was this send off to be about me in any way. It should never be about the parent(s) but I did vent to my closest girlfriends who had gone before me and who understood ‘it’s a mom thing’. I thank god for my friend Lyssa who I called from the hotel room in Boston when I couldn’t catch my breath one morning knowing the good-byes were but a few hours away and we'd be facing that long, lonely plane ride home with a void. I didn’t discount my husband's feelings in all this and he was very supportive but at that particular moment when he slipped downstairs to get coffee, I needed the comfort of a mom just to say, “I know. I know.”

My redemption came at a moment when my son was rooting around his stuff and it hit him he was going to be living in a bustling city, culturally diverse, relying on subway and taxi transportation, knowing no one, topped with an extremely rigorous academic agenda and wasn’t coming home until the winter break. He turned to me and said, “I hope I can handle all of this.” I turned my full attention to him with my body and eyes. “If Dad and I didn’t have all the confidence in you knowing that you could do this, you know we would have said something.” He knew, but he needed to hear it. I could sense any residual remnants of self-doubt lift. Did I really think this? I did, but if I hadn’t my answer would have been the same. It was the best parting gift I could have given my son – confidence.

Three years later, our second and last child flew the coop to a California college. He'll be a junior this year. That initial transition for me was much easier although it left us with an empty nest. I don’t know if it was easier because he was in-state or because his brother lead the way and I knew what to expect. Probably a combination of both but there’s a certain level of comfort knowing your child is in the same time zone. Silly but true.

Our eldest son, since graduated and back in our time zone, is a full-time graduate student working on his PhD who is only able to come home for a visit now and then as his program is year round. Recently, he changed his address on his driver’s license. A sure sign ‘home’ is just for a short visit. He was here last week for one of those visits and is gone again.

Suddenly today, I can feel the air change as if it’s calling my last child away. This seasonal pull of collegiate life always catches me off guard no matter how many times I’ve experienced it. I like the denial days of summer and this one has been particularly pleasant. One thing I learned with this tug of war with my heart come September is to go with the flow when it hits. I am kinder to myself now. I realize the bittersweet mom feelings are natural and it’s surprising how quickly they pass once I see my child settle into his school year which usually happens before we schlep the last box into his room and we get the silent look that speaks oh-so-loudly, “Okay. You can go now.” It’s the best parting gift my son could give me - confidence.

The official count down to another lift-off begins and I feel that little twinge in my chest and tummy as I see the open suitcases laying on his bedroom floor along with a scattering of clean clothes. He'll be in his first apartment this year. Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target and the mall are on my agenda today. I wonder what’s on the radio?

Collegiate Links:

  • Since conversations with collegiates are notorious for the one word answer of "fine" or "okay" to your many questions, keep up to date what's happening at Huffington Post—College. Helpful articles for both parents and students and general knowledge what's going down on the college scene. You'll seem so hip that your student will think you've installed a cam somewhere on campus.
  • Did you know you can order anything at Bed, Bath & Beyond locally or on their website and pick it up at the store near the college? Oh joy! Enables you to see out of the back window while driving. Bed, Bath & Beyond
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about the college experience for both students and parents and even how to handle the naked room mate. Resource books. Don't laugh. It can happen. :)

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"Rah!"

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