Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Dad...

In case you were wondering what my dad looks like... here's a photo of him.  It's not the best quality, but it certainly captures the "essence" of Hugh.... This was taken last year and I can only hope it was near St. Patrick's Day given his choice of shirts... And the pants?  Well, those are his "lounge pants"... he typically puts these on after he's had his afternoon shower.  FYI - the table to his left is where he puts the random things for me to choose from...

My Dad :)

Pinterest Fails...

I ran across this post on today in my Facebook feed... I was cracking up the whole time and thinking "exactly!"... Have you ever had a Pinterest "fail"?  Or perhaps the better question is, have you ever had a Pinterest success?  Would love to hear about your successes AND failures... if you're so inclined...

In the meantime,  enjoy!

S'mores Cookies

Pinterest FAILS from

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Random Things From My Dad - #8

The Shoes...

Shoes have a long running history with my dad.  My first memories of his random shoe purchases were when I was in college... although I'm sure these strange and curious purchases must have happened sooner...

It was some time in the mid 1980's... He came home from one of his infamous shopping sprees loaded down with random deals he had come across.  Among the array of items was a pair of Nine West boots.  They were kind of a taupe color, tall, slim and with a relatively high heel. They were fancy and not at all like anything my sister, myself or my mom had ever worn.  So we were all looking at these boots thinking "okay?  who are these for?"  So, we asked... "who are these for?"  His answer sums up so much of what his purchases represent... "I figure they'll fit somebody... they were such a good deal I had to buy them."

And so it continued... his purchases of "too good to pass up" deals.  He has purchased so many random things over the years, many of which were such a good deal he bought it and would decide later where it might find a home.  Some of these items include a Waterford crystal lamp (it's been passed around a few times, but I'm pretty sure I have it right now)... a globe that had a light on the inside... a cuckoo clock, random and numerous items of clothing, and the list goes on and on.

But the shoes... the shoes!  Who on earth buys shoes for someone else?  Especially unsolicited purchases of shoes?  I find it so peculiar and also, endearing.  I was visiting my parents a few years ago when they lived in Arkansas.. my dad had driven to Hot Springs for the day and again, came back loaded with treasurers.  Among them was a pair of water socks.  Mind you, both of my parents were almost 70 at the time so why there were water socks among his purchases was a bit mind boggling.  My mom looked at the water socks, and looked at me with a huge question mark written all over her face.  "Why on earth did he buy these?"

I looked at the water socks and I looked at my mom.  Recalling similar odd purchases in the past, I replied "he probably got them because they were such a good deal he figured someone could use them."  She laughed, as did I.  When my dad came into the room we asked him what the water socks were for.... and yes... they were too good to pass up and he figured someone could use them.

So... yesterday when I went to pick up my kids from my parents' house I sat down with a glass of wine, as I often do, to visit with my dad.  He says to me "take a look at those shoes over there"... On the couch was a shoe box... I thought "oh, Lord, what now"...  And here's where it gets even stranger... I opened the box of shoes to find a pair of women's flat, casual/dress shoes.  They were two toned beige, neutral, practical and somewhat nondescript.  The weird part?  I had the EXACT pair of shoes in my closet.  I've had that pair of shoes for at least 15 years.  And yet, somehow, my dad manages to purchase the exact pair.... figuring someone in our family could wear them.  They were too good of a deal to pass them up....  I laughed, and I continue to laugh, every time I think of those shoes, and all the shoes that preceded them.

So... here are the shoes along with a photo of my old, ratty pair....

Same Designer

The Shoes My Dad Bought Yesterday (1/28/2013)

The Shoes I Already Had (Purchased in 1997 or earlier)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ramsay's Ultimate Cookery Course

Wow... I find myself absolutely riveted by Gordon Ramsay's show "Ramsay's Ultimate Cookery Course".   He's such a fascinating chef.... clearly he knows his stuff... and when I watch "Hell's Kitchen" or "Kitchen Nightmares" I'm always thinking "wow... I would be so scared of him.... I don't know how anyone could question his expertise.  And when people invite him to come and save their restaurant, why are they always shocked and offended when he tells them, basically, their food is horrible???

Anyhow... I ran across this show, and I can't turn it off.  It's such a different side of Ramsay.  He's so calm and every step is very calculated and exact.  His tone of voice is very professional and almost soothing.  Who knew he could have such an inviting tone to his personality?

I watched a biography about him a few weeks ago... his story is pretty amazing.  I was stuck, however, on the fact that I learned he is one year younger than me.  I have always thought of him as older... not a lot but at least a few years.  Can't decide if it's my own vanity and denial of my own aging... or if it's his passion and expertise that makes me just assume he must have much more life experience than I.

Regardless... it's a very fascinating show... he's almost got that "Barefoot Contessa" Zen about him... check it out if you're so inclined.  It's on BBCA... the episode I'm watching originally aired on 1/11/2013 so I'm guessing it's a new show.  Love it!

Ninjago Cupcakes!

Oh my how my son can get obsessed with something... right now, he is insanely obsessed with the cartoon Ninjago and anything Ninjago related (thank you, Lego, for making soooooo many Ninjago Lego sets... I'm  thinking this child has the equivalent of one semester's college tuition tied up in Lego sets)... In my opinion, Ninjago is nothing short of Power Rangers translated into a Lego character theme.

His obsession has been going on for as long as the show has been on the air... I think they are getting ready to start their third season.  Although it's been rumored they are cancelling it, which is causing him all kinds of stress and worry... He records the show.... searches You Tube for all the "product review" videos... shops Amazon for all the best deals... you can bet if it's related to Ninjago in any way, shape or form, he knows about it.

Which brings us to the Ninjago cupcakes... His school does a pretty bang up job of making the kids feel special on their birthdays... and, if your birthday should happen to fall during the summer months, they acknowledge your half birthday.  And that is what today is... Milam's half birthday.  Today, he is exactly 7-1/2 years old.

In keeping with tradition, I always make my kids a homemade treat of some sort to share with their classmates at school.  He decided he wanted Ninjago cupcakes... Can't let my little man down, so I set out to find the best way to make Ninjago cupcakes.

If I had not been so pressed for time, I would have taken photos of how I managed to achieve the final effect.  They look deceptively simple... it took me several attempts at different ways to approach it before I found the best technique to achieve the final result... which is this....

  For any of you familiar with Ninjago, you probably are aware that "Kai" ( the red ninja) is actually NOT one of the Ninjago... AND she's a girl... there is a black Ninjago named Cole, but I didn't want the teachers annoyed with me when the kids who got the black cupcakes looked like they had chewed on a black marker... so, I decided to go with Kai (girls' gotta represent)

Also, in keeping with my ongoing strategy of "why make it simple when you can make it more time consuming and difficult?".... I made enough cupcakes for both of the 2nd grade classes.  Thank goodness they go to a small school!  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Random Things From My Dad - #7

I find it interesting how therapeutic it is, cathartic even, to write about the various things my dad gets for us...  I used to find it so irritating... wanting to simply go to my mom & dad's, visit for a few minutes, pick up my kids and get home so we could get on with the business of homework, dinner time, bedtime... whatever we needed to get done before turning in for the night.

In my mind, I was just going to pick up my kids and head home... Then I would discover that he had this array of items for me to load into my car... which, in turn, meant unloading them from my car and finding a home for them.  I don't know about you, but my least favorite thing about going to the grocery store is when you get home... unloading and putting everything away.  Instead of knowing ahead of time that I was going to be unloading and putting away, it was thrust upon me and I did not feel like a willing participant... I resented it, even.... Peculiar, I know... and even selfish I suppose.

So writing about it has done a couple of things... First, it really has highlighted for me just how generous he is... In the past, I would bring the things home... put them "somewhere" as quickly as I could, annoyed the whole time, and move on with my day and not really give the items much thought.

But with the blog post, I now have an inventory... a record.. of just how often he shops with me and my kids in mind... and how abundant his generosity is.  I am so much more mindful of each and every thing he sends our way... and also much, much more appreciative...  While there are still the items I have no idea what he had in mind when he bought it... I appreciate them nonetheless...

I have also found that our relationship is a bit less strained than it has been in the past... I recognize his efforts to be supportive and helpful and that, in turn, affords me just the insight I need to be a bit more patient with him and attentive when he's got a "story" to tell (oh my... could that be another series of posts about my dad!)  My dad has stories that will make your head spin... mostly with his take any any given situation... But... another time... I'll wait for then next particularly mind boggling conversation to open that can of worms.

So... without further ado... the latest and greatest abundant array from my dad...

Fresh cut tulips, a six-pack of wine... THREE different kinds of coffee... chocolate covered blueberries
 and chocolate covered pomegranate seeds, two different kinds of shredded cheese, mini-marshmallows... strawberries, blueberries, and flamin' hot Funyuns... oh my.  Not pictured (but very much appreciated) was also a gallon of milk
 and a loaf of bread...

A close up of one of the tuliips...
they are so pretty.
So... there it is... when photographed and itemized, I am so much more aware, and appreciative, of just how generous my daddy is (and yes... I do call him "daddy" as all proper southern women do)...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

What To Do When You Overfill Your Cupcakes

Okay... I know it's happened to you at one time or another.  You put too much batter in your cupcake liners and they spread over to the edges of the pan... leaving behind a nice crispy edge that's too large to do anything "pretty" with....  Once you've managed to work it out of the cupcake tin... you've got something that looks sort of like this...

I finally found the perfect solution for when this happens... for whatever reason... I find myself dealing with this more often than I would like to admit... and always with my chocolate cupcakes as that batter is a bit thinner than others... you would think I would have figured it out by now, but sometimes I just get in too big of a hurry.

While this may not always be an acceptable solution... most of the time it will...

First.... invert the cupcake onto a clean surface... I find it's best to let  the cupcakes cool somewhat, but not get all the way to room temperature.  Then get a circle cutter that is the same diameter of the top of your cupcake...

Press down until you've removed all the excess crunchiness... I find it's best to push the cupcake through the cutter.... top first, instead of pulling the cutter away from the cupcake....

And... Voila!

Now you have a cupcake that's ready for decorating:)

Of course, there are those occasions where this may not do.... it may depend on the design going onto the cupcake... sometimes we like a little "edge" peaking out so our clients can see the yummy flavor of the cupcake.  In that instance, a clean/baked edge is necessary.... or sometimes the presentation must be near perfection... for wedding perhaps... in those instances, it's probably best to save these for your kiddos, family and friends and start over. 

These cupcakes, fortunately, are for my son's class at school.  I think the fix is going to work just fine and I don't have to present giant "mushroom-like" cupcakes to his class.

Hope you found this tip helpful... I only just discovered it and I can tell you, I have chunked many a cupcake because of overfill!

Happy Baking!!!!

Sydney's Butterfly Obsession

My daughter is fascinated with caterpillars and butterflies. At Redeemer, there are tons of milkweed plants which attract the caterpillars that make monarch butterflies. Hard as I tried to dissuade Sydney from continually bringing home these squishy little crawly friends, she just couldn't stop herself. Hidden in her backpack, a cup, or just in her hand, she continued to bring these buggers home.

Rather than fight the inevitable, I embraced her fascination. We went to the pet store and purchased a small, plastic container with a removable lid and a handy little door on top perfect for putting "food" in for the caterpillars. Since they only eat milkweed, we break leaves off the plants at school and bring them home to feed our Pygmalion friends.

Veritable experts now on gathering the caterpillars and providing them with the perfect environment to make their extraordinary transformation into butterflies, we now have 7 perfect chrysalises just waiting to complete their life journey.

Our first transformation happened two days ago. It was the most perfectly perfect monarch butterfly. We let him go in our backyard. He spent several hours perched on a branch of a bush. I know it was just my imagination, but it seemed that somehow this gorgeous creature felt a bond with our family and was hesitant to say goodbye. I checked on him periodically until eventually, he was no longer there.

I am so happy that I didn't squash the enthusiasm of my little girl and her obsession with these amazing creatures. What an awesome experience we are all blessed to be having:)

Our Beautiful Monarch

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Celebrate Your Kids!

I don't know about you, but kids' artwork is some of the most imaginative and vibrant out there... I love they way my kids are limited only by their imagination as to what they can put on paper... Give them some markers, crayons or paint... a canvas or some paper... and let the creating begin!

I thought this would be a wonderful way to recognize their special talents... put their art... on cake!  Edible images are easy and fun.... it's a great way to personalize a cake without having to be Rembrandt yourself...

What a great surprise for your little one to find their art turned into dessert...  Here are some samples... they make some of the best edible images...

My daughter's class turned their names into art...

Tropical Sunset by our sweet friend Merry
Flower Pot also made by Merry

Lord of The Rings - artwork by the amazing Ellie :)
The ideas are endless... a Grade "A" report card, special award, recognition, or certificate.  Anything can be made into cake... consider one of these for your next celebration... it doesn't have to be a birthday:)

Sweet Heart Cakes are Here!

 Order Your Valentine Treats Today!

What better way to show that special someone just how special they are!  
These six inch heart shaped cuties are the perfect size to share with that 
certain someone….  Three decadent flavors to choose from…
each only $25 (tax included)….

  • Carmel-Pecan Chocolate Decadence: Rich, chocolate cake filled with caramel sauce and toasted pecans.  Topped with caramel Swiss buttercream…. Creamy, rich and decadent.

  • Magnolia Strawberries & Cream:  Magnolia vanilla cake filled with strawberry Swiss buttercream, iced with our special buttercream blend and topped with two white chocolate dipped strawberries.  It’s like strawberry shortcake elevated to a whole new level.

  • Chocolate Ganache & Raspberry Indulgence:  Rich, chocolate cake filled with raspberry filling, topped with a semi-sweet ganache and finished with a single rose made from our blended buttercream.  Perfect indulgence for the ultimate chocolate lover.

Each cake is wrapped with a bow and a special message  you can customize to your valentine...
 But Wait!  There's More... ;)

For the die-hard chocolate lover... you can't go wrong with these.  Triple Chocolate Espresso Walnut Cookies - heart shaped for Valentines Day Only...  $18/dozen or $10/half-dozen.... 

It's not really fair to call this a "cookie"... decadently rich and chocolaty with toasted walnuts and a hint of espresso... topped with a dark chocolate covered espresso bean.... oh my....
Ordering is simple!  Just call or email and 
reserve your cake today:)       512-565-4965
(Austin & surrounding areas only)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Whether You Love Obama or Not... This Story Should Give You A Laugh...

So this is actually a Facebook post I wrote in July of 2010.... It also qualifies as a "Random Things From My Dad" post, as he is the one responsible for the now infamous Obama hat...

A dear friend of mine, who shall remain nameless (you know who you are) contacted me a couple of weeks ago. She also makes cakes for people, and she has one customer in particular for whom she makes a 6" italian cream cake every year for her wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, my friend was going to be out of town and wasn't able to make the cake this year. I agreed to make the cake and deliver it for the stellar price of $15. After all, it was a favor for a friend, right?

So today is the day I am to deliver this cake. Kids are home, it's rainy outside, and everybody's a little whiny and cabin feverish. After finally getting the kids dressed, cake boxed, and address in the GPS, I am frantically searching for my hat (definitely a hat day, folks.... too much rain and not enough product for this hair to be hatless). I see my hat in the office, grab it and put it on quickly as we're walking out the door.

We are about two blocks from the delivery address when I notice the flashing lights in my rear view mirror. Crap! I couldn't believe I was getting pulled over and would most likely get a ticket for something while delivering this $15 cake to Pflugerville. As the officer approaches the car, my kids are bellowing "are you gonna go to jail, Mom? I don't want you to go to jail... who will take care of us?" The officer was very polite, informing me that I had no inspection sticker on my car. What??? I knew there was something wrong because I had my car inspected in April.

Then the humiliating truth reared it's ugly head.... I did, in fact, have my car inspected in April. I also renewed my registration in June (which had expired in May, btw). Apparently, when applying my new registration sticker... rather than remove the expired registration sticker, I had removed the current inspection sticker. So now I'm driving around with an expired registration sticker, a current registration sticker, and no inspection sticker.

I was able to find my receipt for the inspection, so the officer was very kind and gave me a warning. As a bonus, he gave the kids each a coupon for a free ice cream cone because they were properly seated in their booster and car seats.

Now, this may seem like it should be the end of a funny little anecdote, but it's not...

I arrive at this lovely lady's house to deliver the cake. She's very kind and appreciative as she takes the cake and gives me the $15.... All the while, however, she is looking at me rather strangely. I figure I must look like someone she knows or something. I thank her and head back to the car.

When I get to the car I notice something odd on my hat in my reflection in the window.... then I notice my hat! I thought I had grabbed my Texas State Aquarium hat... an unassuming, neutral colored hat with very little embellishment. The hat looking back at me was anything but unassuming. This was a hat my dad had bought shortly after the most recent presidential election. This was an Obama Hat.... Em-blazed with vibrant red, white and blue embroidery with "Obama" hugely written across the front.

Now don't get me wrong, some of you may find this offensive but I actually am an Obama supporter.... this is just an outrageously ornate hat and one I would never choose to wear regardless what the words on the hat were. And it was one of those "tall" hats. You know the kind I'm talking about... they look like you're smuggling something on top of your head under that hat.

But here it is folks.... the final humiliating blow to the tiny fragments that remained of my dignity..... The tags were still on the hat.... hanging from the top. And not small tags, either... big tags... at least 4 inches long and 1-2 inches wide. And this is how I looked when the officer pulled me over... and the lady accepted the cake from me.

I replayed my encounter with the police officer and the lady I delivered the cake to... what must they have thought of me. Probably thought I was off my nut.

So this, my friends, is why I will definitely have to think twice about making a cake for $15 as a favor for a friend... :)
Here's the hat, in all it's glory... I have to say, this photo does not do the hat, or the tags, justice:)

Groovy Girl Skating Cake

What a fun cake this was to make!  I was inspired by "The Next Great Baker" when their had an episode where the contestants had to create as many Groovy Girl cakes (apparently a popular design at Buddy's bakery)... I thought it was so fun, and a perfect pairing with the roller skate theme!

And might I also add that Miss Charley (the birthday girl) is, indeed, quite the "groovy girl":)

Film Reel Cake - A Perfect Milestone Birthday Cake

Celebrating the Decades...

 Milestone birthdays are always so much fun.... as we get older, we tend to not celebrate our birthdays with a lot of hoopla and ceremony... but when we reach a milestone birthday (30,40,50......) it seems to warrant a  more elaborate celebration.... the beginning of a new era in our lives... we have earned a certain status, respect and are more comfortable in our own skin as we grow into ourselves.

There are a lot of "over the hill" cakes out there, but honestly, I prefer to celebrate the person and not create a cake that implies the best of their life is behind them.  I think this film reel cake is a perfect way to honor and celebrate someone special as they enter into a new decade of age, wisdom and maturity.

I recently had the privilege of making a cake for a dear friend's 40th birthday.  She is one of the strongest women I know... she works hard to maintain a career (in law enforcement no less!)... She is a great mom to two extremely awesome boys.... She is a loving wife... a wonderful friend... and an inspiring woman.

This cake celebrated her life, her family, her beauty, and yes... it even poked fun (a little) at the things we find endearing about her.

Her name is Jackie, and I have no doubt she will ROCK her 40's.  Happy Birthday, Jackie!

Adding edible images is a fun way to make a cake uniquely about that person...

Here we poked a little fun at Jackie... apparently, her husband says she looks like Dora the Explorer when she wears a backpack and sports a ponytail...

Photos celebrate her , her family and her awesomeness

It's hard to tell from the photo, but this is a T-Rex saying "T-Rex hates wall balls"... apparently, this is an ongoing love-hate relationship Jackie has at the gym with wall balls...

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Jackie... once again.  So blessed to call you my friend:)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Rainbow Cake - Love it, or not so much?

I have seen this cake pop up again and again, on television, pinterest, dessert pages, blogs, websites... I actually saw Kaitlin Flannery of make it live on the Martha Stewart Show (Martha couldn't resist putting her two cents in every chance she got...I'm not sure I could have performed with the composure that Kaitlin did... she was incredibly calm and confident)...

I have yet to make one, but I'm intrigued by it nonetheless.

What are your thoughts?  Do you absolutely LOVE this idea?  or are you more of the "meh" opinion.

I think the wow factor of cutting into this cake would be awesome.  When I think about it from a practical standpoint, I picture nine bowls of batter that require washing, as well as nine cake pans....

It is gorgeous though...   

So... what are your  thoughts?

Rainbow Cake


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Random Things From My Dad - Post #6

So....  Here is how a conversation with my dad went on Thursday...

DAD:  "I'm going to Costco tomorrow... do you need anything?"

ME:  "I do need some powdered sugar, but only get it if they have the 20lb bag... I don't want you to have to lift the 50lb bag and I don't especially want to have to deal with it either.  But some powdered sugar would be great.  Thank you:)"

DAD:  "Okay... anything else?"

ME:  "No... nothing else.  But would you mind just checking the price on their butter per pound?  DON'T buy any... just let me know what their price per pound is."

DAD:  "OK."

Any guesses as to what he came back with?

A 50 pound bag of powdered sugar (apparently, he didn't hear the part about NOT a 50 pound bag?)... 85 packets of Cascade dishwasher capsules, a can of roast beef (hmmm???)... 2 bottles of Cupcake Vodka... a Bottle of Barefoot Merlot... 2 lbs of mushrooms... some strawberries.... and......(drum roll please) 24 pounds of butter.  

The bottles of Cupcake Vodka were too awesome not to include their own photo...  Aren't those bottles simply gorgeous?

And, of course, the 50 pounds of powdered sugar.... (Man that was fun getting in and out of the car... but I am set for quite a while on the powdered sugar front!)

I had to count these at least three times to be certain I was right... it is, indeed, 
24 pounds of butter.... wow...

But wait... there's more!  
My mom gets an honorable mention in today's haul...

We had been shopping earlier today and I mentioned I was looking for some new kitchen towels because a lot of mine have just about worn out their usefulness... of course, when we get home, she shows me a drawer in the guest bedroom FILLED with dish towels, tea towels, and dish cloths.  The too, too cute white ones with red on them she embroidered herself... So I've got Easter, Valentines Day, Christmas and New Year's covered as far as tea towels go.

And the goodies off to the right?  She was making cinnamon rolls (from scratch... this apple didn't fall too far from the tree).... She asked me for some help.... in return I  got a pan of the delicious treats ready to bake in the morning.  Yum!

Yes... today was a bountiful day at the Edge house.... better get to baking!