Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bargain Hunter (and Boaster!)

I love a good deal, but who doesn't right? There's nothing better than buying something cheaper than the next guy. Ok, there are lots of things better than sales, I'm seriously not as bad as Becky Bloomwood from those fluff Shopaholic books (yes, yes, thought provoking literature, I know).

My problem is not so much from over shopping, buying things just because they're on sale, it's the boasting about the sales. I always think I sound ridiculous when I say it, but I can't help myself. My cheap genes, wearing my cheap jeans, force me, against my will, really, to tell everyone about it. Why can't I just keep it to myself? It's like a compulsion. I'm like the Rain Man of bargains. I like your shoes, someone will say, innocently enough. "Thanks! They were only 8$!" I'll reply. As if somehow those shoes, now knowing their low low price, will have more value. I'll mentally smack myself in the head whenever I say something like that, because NO ONE CARES BUT ME.

I had very few friends as a kid, I know my social skills are lacking. I either say nothing or I say something awkward and embarrassing. Then, for added fun, I'll replay that awkward moment in my head, over and over, like watching a Three's Company rerun for the twelfth time. Seriously not funny after a while.

So I'm telling you all this because I did it again today. I've booked a trip and I got a good deal on it (see doing it again!) and I keep telling anyone who stops long enough for me to tell them about it.

Is it because my mom was super frugal most of the time, that I think it's admirable quality to have? Is it because I think I'm clever when I save money, and well I always want people to think that I'm clever.

Bah. Who knows.

I wish there were social skills classes at the University. You know, Book keeping 101, Intro to Pottery Wheel, Beginner French, and Having a Conversation Without Embarrassing Yourself.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Voila! Le Gateau!

Oh my gosh! It's done! This was seriously a marathon in cake making. It was fun, but I put a lot of pressure on myself. I feel like I've accomplished something. I'm productive and capable! I would say this badboy took me about 10 hours to make over the course of a week. See? I told you I lost my mind. Ah!

Here's the progress of the cake (minus the cake and frosting making part, pretty boring, so I'm skipping to the juicy parts):

Oval Cake with a notch cut out for the small round cake

Cutting the second oval for the wings

I goofed on the shape of the wing so I needed to add an extra piece for the other wing

Chocolate frosting in between all the layers

Crumb coat, kind of melty in the heat, continued to frost the next day

Finished cake at the restaurant!

My sad attempt at a sunflower for Alex's smash cake. Too melty!


Diving in (almost frozen from the restaurant's fridge)


Lessons learned:
  • It was easier than I thought it would be (the planning helped)
  • Cake batter from scratch is way tastier than any cake mix batter (um, not that I eat cake batter)
  • Butter makes everything better
  • Frosting can cover all sorts of mistakes, screw something up? Slap more frosting on the problem
  • I had carefully measured that the cake would fit in the cake caddy. Then I frosted the cake and didn't account for the extra girth (see above lesson)
  • I need a bigger fridge
  • Popping the cake back in the fridge during this heat wave was a neccessity

More about the party next time...Must go to bed, no more cake making until midnight.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Almost done! (otherwise known as Martha Stewart stole my brain)

So I got it into my pea brain that I wanted to make a fun cake for Alex's birthday. Nothing commercial, he's too young for Lighting McQueen or even Elmo (I hope he never does get into that kind of thing!). I chose a bee because of his bee hat. that I loved so much I bought it in the next size up too. The mascot of our university is a bee (Go Stingers!). Yeah, we're dorks.

So I've been planning out this cake, getting cake decorating tools, made a test cake (never buy baking soda from a corner store) and have been watching youtube videos on cake decorating. Did I mention I'm a planner? I even got my husband in on it. He used his professional engineering software to come up with a plan for the cake based on the pans I have and the cake carrier it's going in.
He asked if I wanted a finite element analysis on the cake. Umm, noooo, that would be ridiculous!

So I've been slowly working on the cake for almost a week. Baked one layer, then another day baked the second. My freezer is filled with cake parts. Made the chocolate frosting on Thursday and the vanilla frosting this morning.

I just want to make a nice cake and not have it look like this:

But it doesn't need to be as fancy as this cake I like to call the Louis Beeton:

I found this image that matches perfectly the shape of the cake I'm going for (see above engineered bee shape):

This is doable...I think.

Next up, cake assembly and decorating. I feel like I've been studying for a history final. I know my material, it's just not my strongest subject.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy birthday Alex! You're a year old today!

What a wild ride this past year has been.
My little person came into my world and turned it upside down. I really didn't know how clueless I was about being a parent to you. We stumbled along, changing endless diapers, spending hours nursing, burping, soothing you. It was like every three hours we got hit by a tornado, until you fell asleep again. You HATED the car seat, wet diapers, but loved the bath and being carried in the wrap. It became a guaranteed way to get you to sleep. Until it stopped working one day and we had to figure out other tricks. We bounced you, we sat you in your swing, we rocked you and sang to you.
Then one day we were making funny noises at you, and you smiled. Ah, that smile. We knew it wasn't gas because you made your displeasure about your gas known to us.
You amaze us everyday with what you can do. First that wonderful smile, then holding your head up. You wanted to see everything, and not miss a thing. Your cooing sounded like "ahhgooo" and sometimes like the frother on an espresso machine.
Rolling over was such a struggle for you, and you'd look like "hey what just happened??" when you did.
When you mastered that my scooty baby, you started to crawl, backward. You would push yourself backwards, and pivot to get where you wanted to go. Not graceful at all but it worked. Right around Christmas time, poof suddenly you could sit up. Sneaky baby, had you been perfecting it as my Christmas present?
You were pulling yourself up to standing and mastered the furniture walking long before you could properly crawl. Before figuring it out you would go up on all fours, and kind of shimmy. Like you knew movement was involved but you didn't know you had to move some limbs too.
Now, not long ago you started to take some steps. First 3 then the number went up from there. Your dad and I wonder what's the line between taking steps and saying you're WALKING. Well yesterday you seemed determined to be walking  by your first birthday.So yes, you made it just under the wire (not that it matters!) walking by your first birthday.

You're a very sweet baby. The sleep is getting a little better.
Your separation anxiety that seemed to come too early, has faded a bit too. I can actually step out of the room now, and you'll happily play. You HATE having your diaper changed, I've become quite good at changing standing up, like a strip search.
You've started doing a bit of sign language and saying a few words (well consistent sounds, anyways). You excitedly say "nanas" when you spot bananas. You notice the cats in the room before I do (Oh my gosh how you love those cats!) and say "kheeeeteeee".  Just last week your aunt Cathy taught you the sign for swing, which you do all the time now when we say park, or you can see it. You prefer your books to most other toys, unless it's the ball that you can toss and chase for hours. You're funny, opinionated, a bundle of energy and you take EVERYTHING in.

So happy birthday to my baby Chicken.
May you have many many more years of birthdays to come.

First day home from the hospital. You slept while mama finally got to shower. Then stayed up all night.

Month one. Look at all that hair! You were still a blob, but very cute nonetheless.

Month two. Notice the smile. And the buzz cut. Someone would pull his hair in his sleep and wake up because someone was pulling your hair. So you had your first haircut at 6 weeks old.

Month three. Oh those cheeks. I had a psychic tell me that I would have a baby with big cheeks. I thought pshah, all babies have big cheeks. And then I met you. People would stop me on the street to comment on those cheeks.

Month four. You've got personality little man. You were desperate to roll over and explore the world.

Happy Halloween Mr. Chicken. We went to a party but by then it was too late for your cute costume. You were not impressed.

Month five. Babbling and getting quite good at pushups.

Christmas! Your first taste of food! You tasted the sweet potato and looked at us like "why have you been keeping this from me my whole life? MORE."

Snacking on Sophie the Giraffe and look at you sitting up!

Seventh month. You were happy, as long as I was thisfar away. And oh, the drooling. Buckets of it!

Eighth month. Standing! That's all you wanted to do. You got your first tooth and you love your new toothbrush.

Nineth month. Oh boy you're crawling! There's nothing out of your reach!

Tenth month. Starting to take some steps. Now we're really in trouble. The cats too!

Eleventh month. Look at you standing up on your own. More teeth and a couple of words too. You're a person now, no longer a blob!

One year old! Fistfuls of grass, enjoying the music at the park (doing a little shoulder shimmy).
Life is good!

Friday, July 2, 2010


Surprise! I have a surprise for you, said my husband, do you want to know what it is?

I love surprises, too bad he sucks at them. He gets all excited and always lets the cat out of the bag. I know it involves my sister, since he complained she didn't get it yet, and it involves her watching Alex since he mentioned something about her babysitting last week. "Oh I forgot you asked Cathy to babysit already this week". Sigh! I know the surprise is sometime next week. My husband said "it's good you know you have a surprise coming, now we can torture you". It's torture when you give away the surprise, otherwise, I CAN WAIT.
 I once got my Christmas present three weeks early because he opened up the present (a digital camera) to put in the batteries and then forgot the warranty card on the kitchen table. He means well. I know he's excited and just wants to share it with me, to see my reaction.

When I was pregnant with Alex I didn't want to know the gender but Rick did. He suggested that HE find out and keep it from me. What? Then he came up with this ridiculous plan to keep it from me but to tell everyone attending my baby shower. What The French toast? So everyone else would know what I was having except for me? The one carrying around this rib kicking, bladder head butting person. No, no no! So of course, I gave in and found out. And then I went out and bought this onesie with a robot on it.

I on the other hand would like to think I'm good at surprises, but fret about them for MONTHS ahead of time. I'm a planner. I do research and plan out strategies and have backup plans. I'm like a Navy Seal of surprises. Shock and Awe baby! Shock and awe!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day! Yo!