Thursday, March 26, 2009

how sweet it is

A while back we tried to order a cake at work to celebrate the completion of two major projects, and The Mentor Center. The original idea was to have the logos from each project on the cake. Easy, right? As Sarah blogged previously, it didn't turn out quite as expected. I decided to take a shot at it and see if I could get the logos to come out in sugar. (I had a day off on Tuesday and wanted to play. This was fun :)

Here's what the logos look like, officially (props to Kim, Creative Director extraordinaire):
And here they are as cupcakes:

The tops are free-handed, made from Color Flow icing -- one of the coolest techniques I learned in the Wilton cake decorating classes I took last year. Color Flow powder is a slightly modified version of meringue powder. Here's the recipe for Color Flow icing from the Wilton site. You only use 2 Tbsp of powder per recipe so a tub will last a good while. Using the icing is really easy. All you do is:
  1. Find a pattern and tape it to a hard, smooth surface. A cutting board works well.
  2. Cover the pattern with a piece of wax paper a little bigger than the design. Tape to secure, but not too much. You want to be able to remove it later.
  3. Make Color Flow icing and pipe all the edges of the design and any place where two colours will meet. Let Dry.
  4. Thin Color Flow icing to the right consistency (see recipe above for instructions) and fill in each color separately. If you're making batches like I did, do all of one colour at a time then do all of the second color etc. Fill the larger areas first as they help support the smaller details.
  5. Let dry at least overnight before handling, longer for larger &/ or thicker pieces.
Patterns that are fairly solid hold up best. If your design has spindly bits, they're going to be much more likely to break in transfer. Make extras. Trust me.

Once the Color Flow pieces have dried, just place on top of freshly iced cupcakes. (And take to work if you want to be really popular!) This technique also works fantastically on cookies.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Kai's first album cover

OK, I know they're starting them younger and younger these days but I have to say, I'm impressed that at the tender age of just four months, my nephew Kai has already shot his first album cover.Clearly he decided to go for a soulful, guy with guitar alternative sound, all introspective and just moody enough that the girls will want to take him for coffee to let him let it all out. It's a delicate balance -- enough of a sad air that you just might be a genius, but not so much that people think you might have real problems. You need them to think that the world weighs heavy on you because you but you don't want chicks thinking you're a downer. Barely four months old and the kid nailed it. Remember us when you're huge Kai.

From the same photo shoot we have the "who? me?" innocent shot:And this one where Kai is just hanging and waiting for the ladies.
How is it that at four months my nephew is already cooler than I am? I think it's the hair. Some people think it's not long enough to fall over yet, but I think Sheldon got it right when he said "Kai's in Australia, he's upside down. No wonder his hair stands up."

Rock on, little dude, rock on.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

that's a lot of zeros

Have you ever tried to spend 3 trillion dollars? They say that's the cost of the war in Iraq and whether your for it or against it, I realized today that I no idea just how much money we're talking about. (To say nothing of the loss of life and the incomparable sacrifice of those who have put themselves in harms' way for my sake.) It turns out that three trillion anything is a lot of zeros.
It's not every day you get a chance to spend that kind of money (unless you're the ruling body of a large and wealthy country). For the rest of us there's a site, that offers the chance to divvy up the money and see what you would buy. First, a caveat, if you go to the site be warned that the anti-war message there is strong and I cannot vouch for their research. That said, it turns out that it takes an amazing amount of time and effort to get through that amount of money.

I had to look up a trillion to see just how many zeros we're talking about. A trillion looks like this 1 000 000 000 000. At first it might not seem that big, but once you get into that last set of zeros, you're talking billions and those are harder to spend.

After half an hour on the site I'd cured world hunger, taught the world to read, and provided clean water to all. I'd given everyone in Africa a malaria net, given full health care to all uninsured Americans (it's a US site, so there was no option to help people here at home), reinstated arts & music education in all American schools and canceled third world debt. I paid off a bunch of people's mortgages, bought a tropical island and a private jet, cured a major disease, cleaned-up all pollution worldwide, bought clothes and school supplies for 10 million kids and decided to treat myself to an iPhone. I thought I was doing pretty well.

I still had close to 2 trillion dollars left.

Even after buying a home for myself and maybe a hybrid, that's a lot of leftovers. As I think about all that money and the enormity of what it can do and what it has been spent on, I'm reminded again that I really, really, don't ever want to be the leader of a large and wealthy country. Can you imagine the responsibility of actually being the person who signs that cheque? I have my hands full just keep track of my own finances, and believe me, that involves far fewer zeros :)

If someone gave me just a little bit of that $3 trillion and let me take a stab at fixing something I wonder what I'd actually go for? It would definitely be either health or education related. Or possibly something that made it easier for qualified families to adopt kids -- the expenses that process can rack up are astounding. I think I'd probably go for something basic like clean water or basic health care. I'd want to work with people like Save the Children who can save a life for so very little. It still seems unbelievably wrong that I can walk to store and buy a pill that cures an illness people elsewhere die from.

How would you spend $3 trillion?