Archive for May, 2011

Cake decorating classes: high heels

May 30th, 2011
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What fashionista could turn up the opportunity to learn how to make miniature fashion statements atop a cake? I certainly wasn't one to pass up a sweet deal. (Pun intended.)

Lani and Lori's creations

Lani and Lori's creations

I returned to my cake teachers at Cake Creations Dessert Haven in Manoa for a two session class on crafting high heels and purses out of gumpaste, to dry and harden and use as cake toppers.

We started with the high heels, because it takes time to let the heels dry over the molds. If you think of the gumpaste like modeling clay, you can essentially make the heels, purses, or whatever you want, shaping the forms with your bare hands and your ingenuity. However, it's a lot easier to buy shoe molds that produce uniformly sized parts every time.

Another student's heels

Another student's heels

Specific to heels, you will need:

-Cutters, to cut the soles and the straps

-Formers, to give the parts form as you dry the parts

-Wedges (ours looked like makeup sponges), to support the parts

-And all the other tools for gumpaste that you'd normally need, like rolling pins, cutters, small paintbrush/ water, cornflower puffs, etc.

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You can make a single shoe to place atop the cake, or a pair of shoes. It's wise to make a third set of parts just in case of breakage. The heels are so delicate and they can break easily from dropping, mishandling, accidentally drying and sticking to the cardboard, etc.

For the sole: Roll out a flat piece of gumpaste, cut the shape out using your cutter (or eyeballing it), and drape it over a former to give it the elevated heel shape.

For straps: Do the same. There are numerous types of fancy strap cutters you can buy.There are textured molds that will also put fancy shapes on the surface.

Mine, drying over a form, with wedges

Mine, drying over a form, with wedges

For the heel: You can eyeball this, but it's hard to get two heels the same unless you use a mold. Make sure it's flat at the top, where you will be sticking the sole to the heel.

Heel mold, closed

Heel mold, closed

Heel mold, from side, ready to pop out

Heel mold, from side, ready to pop out

Let it all dry.

When ready, get a small paintbrush and water, and adhere the parts together: the straps to the sole, and the heel to the sole.

My friend Joy's shoes

My friend Joy's shoes

Another student's shoes

Another student's shoes

Let it dry again. Paint using any number of cake paints and glitters.

As easy as it all sounds, it wasn't a piece of cake for us first timers in class. All this took us students about two hours. It's hard to get the shapes all looking the same, to get the heel just right, to get the straps to stick on.

My creations

My creations

Still, it was a lot of fun. My pink heels will be making a debut on Olivia's birthday cake!

Next blog: gumpaste purses.

***
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Water pineapple

May 27th, 2011
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My friend Paul Drewes always likes the soothing sound of a babbling brook. On his desk at work, he used to have a small fountain. When it broke, we went during one dinner break to the store to pick out a new one because he had to have white noise.

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Recently, he gave me a water feature. It's a plug in waterfall, about four feet high, in which water flows down a concrete mold featuring a pineapple impression. He used to have it on his lanai, but after he moved to his new house, he has a waterfall with a koi pond, so he has no need for a dinky plug in like that.

I thought I would take it to work, but after I took it out of my car to dust it off and test it out, it never made it that far. I placed it near the back of the living room, the closest I could get to the great outdoors without risking errant high winds knocking it over and breaking it.

I happily filled it with water and plugged it in, and started enjoying the white noise of running water. I haven't owned a water feature before, so I was curious to see how this new decoration would fit into our acoustic and aesthetic home design. Not bad, I thought. Like having classical radio playing in the background.

It was all great, until Claus came home. He's really a quiet guy, so he didn't complain until I solicited his opinion, and even then, it was very passive. "I'll remember to ask Bob at the office if he wants to put a water feature around the building."

"You were thinking about that?" I asked.

"No," he said.

Oh.

Then a trickle of sarcastic comments over the next few days: "It used to be so nice and quiet in this house. Now I always feel like I have to pee." "Even with the heavy rains the loudest thing in this house is still the waterfall."

The night of the thunderstorms, I told him, "Now you can't hear the waterfall."

"What?" he teased. "Yeah, when the rain is over 100 decibels is when you can't hear it. That's right."

I was still determined to ignore my husband, until my dad came over. "What is that noise?" he asked, not knowing I had this new contraption."Is your pipe broken somewhere?"

I pointed out the waterfall. My dad considered that, but later, still commented that it reminds him of when his toilet broke.

I give up. I thought I was being all Zen, but apparently the only ambiance I'm fostering is that of a small bladder or a commode in need of repair. I might have to take this out of my house... and to the office.

***
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Blood sugar

May 25th, 2011
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My daughter likes to watch my dad take his daily blood sugar readings.  I don't know this firsthand, but it's what my parents report back after she's spent a weekend at their house. Now I know why she finds it fascinating.

Claus and I were talking about who in our family likes sweets, and he joked that he would need to hide the Easter candy from me before I eat it all. "Me? I'm not as bad as Jul. He's the sugar fiend!" I defended myself, while throwing our live-in babysitter under the figurative bus.

Olivia found that funny. She is so cute, she tries to contribute to the adult jokes and adult conversations. "Well, Kung Kung has high blood sugar and it's going to be so yummy!" she added.

Taking one for the team

My mom and I split a box of cupcakes. She then came to my house and we dug into my stash. She really loves these cupcakes. "I eat half a cupcake a day," she smiled. "I so enjoy them."

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"What does Dad think about them?" I asked.

"Oh. I don't want his blood sugar to spike. I think I should eat it all myself," she replied.

I just looked at her. My dad loves sweets.  If he's not eating them, that means she probably hid it from him in the back of the fridge in an unmarked container.

She got all defensive and I didn't say a thing. "I'm just looking out for his health! I'm good to him!"

Way to take one for the team, Mom.

***
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All done?

May 23rd, 2011
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If I interact with you and end up speaking kiddie-talk, forgive me. It becomes so much a part of a parent's lexicon that it comes out automatically.

I don't really do baby talk to my child, but there are a few things that are very mommy-sounding out of my mouth. I have noticed the most common is "All done?" When posed as a question, it's not so bad, but when offered as an answer or an indicator of my status, it does take on a more childish tone.

I notice it, but only right after it's uttered and out in the universe. I always secretly laugh at myself and hope that the person doesn't catch it. Like, at the grocery store, I was asking the cashier if she was finished verifying my credit card signature. "All done?" I asked. I know this is not what I would have said pre-Olivia.

Or, Claus was trying to tickle me, and I did not want that. "All done," I insisted forcefully. "All done!" I have also caught myself reminding my mom to "go pee-pee before we get in the car."

Hopefully, I'll grow out of this before I end up trying to conclude a corporate meeting with, "All done?"

***
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Same old thing

May 20th, 2011
By



At a restaurant, I always order the same thing. I am boring like that. I make no apologies. I might have a rotating choice of five favorites off the menu, but when I know what I like, I like to expect to eat that.

We've been dining at Pho Mai on King Street for eight years. We love it. It's light, healthy, and delicious, with a really nice Vietnamese man who I presume owns it, and is always gracious upon seeing us. He's seen me and my husband go in as newly married people, as a pregnant couple (which I did weekly when I was pregnant- the soups! To die for!), and now the occasional dinner out with our daughter. If a story could be told through the snapshots of dinners, he would know ours.

We went in last week for lunch. The nice man (I really should learn his name- it's not like me to not know for so long) greeted us warmly then turned to me. "The usual, #26?" he asked.

"Yes," I responded. I had already told Claus in the car I was looking forward to #26.

Claus laughed at this little interchange and shook his head. It happens every time, without fail. Eight years of #26. Well, expect that period when I was pregnant and coming in every week. Then I changed it up, got crazy, went wild. But if I only come quarterly, what's wrong with enjoying my favorite dish?

Sometimes I stray from my path and I'm richly rewarded with a new dish to add to my favorites list. Sometimes I am disappointed, like recently at our neighborhood favorite. I almost always order Linguini with Garlic Clam Sauce. Sometimes Linguini with Garlic Mushroom Sauce. If seeking meat, then Lasagna. I felt daring and ordered Veal Marsala. It was prepared beautifully but... I didn't like it.

I ate enough to feel satisfied and I gave the rest to Claus to finish. I hate that. I really delight in going to town on a dish, savoring the flavors with each bite, then relishing that full feeling after. I like when I like the dish so much, I eat a few more bites past fullness. With Veal Marsala, I ate enough to sate the hunger, and then I sat there and downed the wine.

So, over the weekend when we went to a Chinese restaurant with my parents (it actually should be assumed with my mom present, that Dinner Out= Chinese food) I ordered Ma Po Tofu and Crispy Gau Gee Min. Claus laughed.

"There 180 choices on this menu and you go to your five favorites. Every. Single. Time," he poked at me.

I was still smarting from the less-than-enjoyed Veal Marsala. "I like the same old thing. I'm loyal to my favorites." Then I peered hard at him. "You should feel lucky."

***

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