Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas is creeping

Christmas is creeping into the corners of my house. There's a tiny live cedar tree decked out in the window by the door.A shiny snowflake has found its way in the corner over by the kitchen. (I think I'll let it stay as long as it doesn't summons its brethren outdoors.)
Over by the livingroom a pair of tiny reindeer are catching up on all the gossip of the season.
And not far from them is a pot of red berries -- a Christmas-y sight if ever I saw one.
In the window over by the TV it's officially been spelled out for me:
Christmas is creeping into the corners of my house and with the first Sunday of Advent upon us and December itself knocking on the door, I think I'll open up and let it in.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

wilton class 3: not-so-lazy daisy

Tuesday was the final day for Wilton Class 3. After four weeks of working with fondant, learning how to stack cakes and and how to pipe Easter lilies and poinsettias, it came down to this:
I am quite pleased with the way it turned out. When I took it into work today, they were all quite pleased with it too :) So how did we get here? Well, first it started with a sketch.

Even before that I was researching. I wanted to do a fondant cake because you can do some spectacular things with fondant but I was torn. Commercially made fondant tastes like garbage. Most adults peel it off to eat the cake. The occasional 10 year old will gobble the stuff up. Making a cake that was pretty but didn't taste good goes against my basic philosophy of life so I hit the 'nets looking for a solution. On the Cake Journal blog I found a recipe for Marshmallow Fondant. Much mixing, stickiness and one truly unholy mess in the kitchen later, I had delicious fondant. Now the fun could begin.

I searched through Flickr for ideas and found this cake which served as my jumping off point. (Don't all artists work from reference material?) Once I had the concept and the cakes ready (thank you Shannon & Co.!) the next step was covering them in fondant.
Right around this time I realized I had accidentally created an almost perfect Smurf blue. But plans were already underway so the Smurfs will have to wait for another day. Once the blue fondant was smooth, the next step was adding the stripes.
Once they were (mostly) evenly spaced around the cake it was time to firm up the foundation. Four wooden dowels went into the cake to support the top layer which was also on a cake board of its own for stability. Then I used a cutter and doubled up the cut outs to get enough petals on my daisies.
At this point you might be wondering how much equipment it takes to put these things together. Oh, about this much:
All the table space in the Wilton classroom really helped. Plus we've had 12 weeks at this point to gather our wares and made liberal use of all available 50% coupons Michael's would give us. That and a little concentration took care of most of it.
Well, that and time. Start to finish, not including bake time (or cleaning) I think I spent around six hours on this cake. Good thing I enjoyed the process. It really helps it you do something like this with other crazy people who make you laugh. (Which is kinda impressive because really, there are no good fondant jokes and you quickly resort to simply making fun of the guy from Food Network who insists on calling it fon-DAHNT.)
This is a view from the top with the cake all boxed for transport. And here's a close-up. It's a little hard to see in this photo but I painted the white balls with iridescent pearl dust. They came out all shiny and sparkly.
Ta-Da! So there you have it. And the very best part? It tasted FANTASTIC!Not to be outdone, Kendra did this snowman cake for Coli. I thought the nose was my favorite part. Then I saw the buttons. Maybe the poinsettia is my favourite because I made that bit. I think pretty much the whole thing is my favorite part. (That's Suzanne, our excellent instructor in the background.)
Shannon got really fancy and brought the pillars out to play for her cake for Amanda. All of the lilies on this cake are handmade out of royal icing. If you look at the large version of the photo you can see the stamens that are placed individually with tweezers. Shannon went through more than a pack of them.
If you've ever thought about delving into the world of edible art (or just like playing with your food) I highly recommend the Wilton classes. We had a really, really good time learning all about the wonderful world of cakes. I'm a little sad it's over even though I am ready to take break from making three batches of icing after work. Then again, we are going to a one week cookie class next Thursday . . .

Thursday, November 20, 2008

this might be my million dollar baby

We were watching Ugly Betty tonight and muting the INCREDIBLY loud commercials when I had a brilliant idea.

Wouldn't it be cool if someone invented a remote that instead of just mute had buttons that made the people on TV speak in all kinds of funny voices?

Think of the possibilities. . . .
Photo courtesy of bods, used under Creative Commons license.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Lots of treats today! First of all, there's a new picture of the newly expanded Colvin family. Here's Kai just hanging with the 'rents. Seeing him in almost-profile like this, I can see Mark in him. There's a painting in my parents' house that my Grandpa did of Mark, aged two, fast asleep and the image of it flashed in my mind as soon as saw this. I love that the three of them look so calm and peaceful. Their lives just changed for always - a cause for celebration indeed.

Speaking of celebrations, I am a fan of fresh flowers in the house on regular days so when there's a celebration going on flowers definitely need to be a part of it. I really liked these pink roses but they weren't very manly so I found a teddy bear and be-ribboned him appropriately. I may not be able to make it there in person just yet, but to my Australian family, know that we are celebrating Kai in this household too. Shoebox season is just around the corner so in a week or two I'll send this little fella off to a little girl somewhere who will take good care of him.
And as if flowers and photos of fresh nephews weren't treats enough, there's chocolate. Kendra's brother-in-law Gord piloted a rare flight to London last week and graciously picked up a few supplies for me:It's everything an ex-pat could hope for -- lots of shiny Cadbury's purple wrapped around Buttons, Twirls, Cury Wurly & Fudge. Well, they're wrapped right now. No telling how long that will last. Did I mention there were Buttons? I don't know why they taste so good, but they do.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

he's here!

He's here and he's spectacular!!! On Monday I became an Auntie again and the second time around was every bit as wonderful as the first. Introducing. . . .

Kai Maddox Colvin

1:08pm November 4th, 2008
Ballarat, Australia

If you're thinking, "wasn't Monday the 3rd?" you'd be right, and also wrong. It was Monday when I got the news here in BC, but it was already Tuesday for Kai and the rest of the gold coast. Clearly this kid is starting out ahead of the game :) I'm still waiting for further details from Mark & Rachel (I guess they have a lot to think about right now...) but so far I know that his first name, Kai, comes from the Hawaiian word for "ocean". I've heard that Maddox is a literary name.

My favorite baby quote has to be the one the says, "Each baby comes as proof that God still dreams of Eden" but I also found this one a while back and I'd imagine it's pretty close to the truth:

“In the house of a newborn, there are no walls. No doors, no clocks, no meals, no chores, no day, no night, none of the familiar coordinates we use to navigate our lives. We bring our babies home, and then the floor gives way and the roof collapses. Adrift in disorientation, I begin to sing."

-Karen Maezen Miller
Mark & Rachel, I wish I could be there for the singing. Know that I am thinking of you, praying for you, and madly in love with the new man in your lives.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

holding a life in my hands

It may be a little hard to see in this photo, but I'm holding a life in my hands. I can imagine what you're thinking, "looks like a hat to me" and you'd be right, partially. But in many countries around the world this little hat is the difference between life and death. According to the WHO, over 4 million babies die each year from completely preventable causes. One the easiest ways to save them is simply to keep them warm and that's where the hat comes in.

Of course this little hat needs a little help, and that's where Save the Children comes in. Each year their Knit One, Save One campaign organizes volunteers around the world to knit or crochet little hats. These hats are then included in kits put together by STC and taken over seas where they save lives (and look pretty cute doing it).

If you know how to knit or crochet and have a little time, you can hold life in your hands too. All of the information is in the action kit. All you have to do is make a hat and mail it to STC in Brooklyn by December 31. If you're looking for a simple pattern, here's the one I used courtesy of Beverly Qualheim. It only uses two stitches so even if your skills are a little rusty, you should be fine.

The problems of poverty and disease and needless suffering often seem overwhelming, but at least this one time the answers are very easy.