Archive | July, 2011

Foodie Friday: Wilton Basic Cake Decorating (Class Four)

29 Jul

A quick post to share my final cake from the Wilton Basic Cake Decorating Course. I tried a new icing and cake recipe and ended up not liking either of them, so I won’t share them here. The icing was ok… just not something to gush about. The cake was just plain dry. Ick.

I was pleased with how the cake decoration turned out in the end, especially because it was a rough day in the kitchen… interruptions to dig a roll of toilet paper out of the toilet (thanks to z-baby), busted a container of finished icing on the floor, and lots of help from z-baby (he stuck his play stand mixer and some utensils in the side of my cake while I was icing it)…

So, drumroll please…

My final cake! Cherry blossoms...

Like I said... it was a rough icing experience!

Mom’s cake turned out really pretty — a hydrangea. Unfortunately, the lighting in these pics do it no justice, so just take my word for it!

Mom's final cake!

Hydrangea cake

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The gravitational pull of balls

27 Jul

Z-baby has officially been ball crazy since before he could even walk. Soon after sitting up, he was throwing them. Later we’d hold him up by his hands and he’d stand in place, wobbling to and fro. But if you rolled a ball to him, he’d kick it nearly without fail. Even his first word was “ball.”

Los pies con America

Fútbol in the genes...

Aside from the occasional and shameless photo opp (ahem, see above), we didn’t push him towards balls… he just gravitated. He’d have nothing to do with dolls or stuffed animals, could care less about TV, and while he tolerates books most of the time, only things with wheels have recently come close to sharing the stage with balls.

And then a month or so ago, he watched a soccer game with sig-o. Now he asks to watch it all. the. time. “¿Ver fútbol?” (watch soccer?) is something I hear regularly throughout the day now. So as a treat, I’ve started letting him watch the sports channel for short bits during the day. It’s a channel that literally has some sports on all day without annoying commentary shows. Just sports. And they’re alternative sports, I guess you could say — no baseball, basketball, or football. And some don’t even use balls…

So the first evening we watched track and field. After watching a race and some high jumping for a few minutes, he stood up and declared, “Bebé unning!” and took off and completed about 7 laps through the house. His finale was to run full force towards the couch and jump up onto it, landing on his back. When pole vaulting came on TV I leapt on the remote control and found something else for us to do.

Then it was ping pong. It’s one thing to make your child laugh by tickling them or making faces. It’s entirely another to hear them laugh independently at things all on their own. And z-baby thought the slow-motion replays in ping pong were hi-larious. He laughed and laughed and I couldn’t help but joining in.

Swimming was next. It was a replay of all of Michael Phelps’ Olympic races in Beijing. Z-baby was mesmerized. He kept shouting, “Big agua!” and swinging his arms around. When we next went to the pool, he went under and popped up repeatedly all on his own in the kiddie pool, taking big breaths each time. And in the big pool he swam with his arms in addition to his normal kicking.

And then there were the gymnastics. We recently put z-baby in a gymnastics class, so he recognized it right away. He studied them walking on the balance beam and practiced his forward rolls in front of the TV. He jumped (lots of knee bending and then hops on one leg) and threw his arms up in the air as if he’d just completed a triple back handspring and sang “Ta-da!”

It took z-baby time to warm up to his gymnastics class. The first day he just stood there, looking around, as if he was trying to figure out where all the balls were and exactly what they were supposed to do since there weren’t any. But now he loves his gymnastics class, and while he’s the lone boy and shorter than all the girls in there, his balance and coordination are spot on. He likes his class so much that we can’t talk about it at home because he runs and puts his shoes on and tries to get out the front door. When we were getting ready for class the other morning he was jumping on the bed and doing forward rolls. I asked him if he could do his backwards roll and he looked at me for a minute, then ran to the headboard on our bed and sat backwards on my pillow and rolled back, trying to fling his legs over his head. When that didn’t work, he tried two pillows.

Gymnastics class

I’m sometimes amazed at how much he gravitates towards all things typically “boy.”

But then there are moments when I’m reassured that he’s much more than that. Like when he asks me to nurse his cars. And like the other day when he came into my bedroom carrying a blanket up by his head. I asked him what he was doing (I don’t think I’ve ever seen him carry a blanket) and he replied, “Bebé carga, choo choo night night,” which is his bilingual Toddler-ese for, “I’m carrying and rocking my trains to sleep.” And then he proceeded to bounce them, to pace the floor with them, and to shhhhhhsh them, as if he’d studied the Happiest Baby on the Block.

Amongst the chaos of all the jumping, running, and kicking, it’s a side of him I don’t get to see very often. But when I do, I drop everything and just watch, soaking in every drop.

Happy Monday

25 Jul

Happy Monday! It’s scorching hot around here… hope everyone is staying cool!

  1. Hearing z-baby sing.
  2. Thinking of all the possibilities in designing my final cake for cake decorating class.
  3. Believing that my cake could actually turn out the way I’m envisioning (the power of positive thinking, or something like that).
  4. Lemonade.
  5. Fresh, homemade ice cream. YUM!
  6. Creating family rituals.
  7. Watching sports with z-baby… it’s the ONLY thing he’s interested in watching these days. Fútbol is his choice número uno, but he’ll settle for swimming, running, bicycling, and ping pong… which he then tries to re-enact in our living room. But I guess I can’t complain because after watching several Michael Phelps’ races he started using his arms and not just kicking when at the pool!
  8. Eating Cream of Wheat for lunch in July. Why not?
  9. Creating my own work space and imagining what I might accomplish there.
  10. Family coming in for a visit… la abuela and la tía are coming!
What’s making you happy today?

Foodie Friday: Wilton Basic Cake Decorating (Class Three)

22 Jul

Mom and I had our third class last night and we decorated cupcakes. We were supposed to make two more batches of the icing, but I didn’t do it since I had so much leftover icing from last week (and this stuff lasts for what seems like forever!). So I have the same color scheme going on, but that was fine by me.

We learned a few new flowers tonight. A couple of them were quite ugly no matter how well you made them, which was some comfort, I suppose, because mine looked very little like they were supposed to! And I’m struggling with the leaves — I’ll just admit that up front. After learning these, we were given time to free-style on some cupcakes. Here’s how mine turned out.

Wilton third class cupcakes

Ok, so maybe I need to practice a bit more! 🙂

Mom went above and beyond today and baked extra cupcakes and decorated them before class. Here’s both her class and pre-class cupcakes. They had a lemon filling and were very yummy!

Mom's cupcakes

Mom's cupcakes from class

Mom's cupcakes

Mom's pre-class cupcakes

I filled my cupcakes with an orange cream. It’s actually a dip for fruit that I made yesterday for a fruit platter… today I added some cream cheese to it and blended it smooth to fill the cupcakes. My mom originally made this for my baby shower and it was a huge hit. But I really didn’t get to eat it because my morning all-day sickness was still in full-force. This was the first time I made it and it was worth the wait.

Orange Sour Cream Fruit Dip

  • 6 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 (3 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Combine orange juice, milk, and pudding in a mixing bowl and blend until smooth. Stir in the sour cream and chill for at least 2 hours. Note: the dip gets sweeter the longer it sets. Enjoy!

If you give a boy a dollar…

20 Jul

As I may have mentioned before, I love going to yard sales. I’m not sure what it is… the hunt, the thrill of finding a bargain, the voyeurism of going through other people’s stuff…

I hadn’t been to any for a while and decided to hit one this weekend. As I gathered a few stray dollars I had around the house, z-baby patted his chest and asked, “Bebé monini?” (monini = z-baby’s word for money. I think it’s a mash up of “moneda” and “money.”). So I gave him a dollar and told him he could spend it one whatever he wanted. He was looking for a pocket to put it in but didn’t have one. He was wearing his caballo botas (as he calls his cowboy boots), so I told him to just put it down one of them.

I didn’t find much at the yard sale, but z-baby got the deal of the day. Mixed up with some other stuff were two little figurines, and he started yelling, “¡Caballo! ¡Caballo!” (horse) as soon as he spotted them. When I got a closer look, I realized they were alebrijes, a Mexican wood sculpture usually of animals (both real and fantasy). They weren’t exactly horses, but who was I to argue? There was another larger, signed alebrije, as well, but it was missing a few pieces.

So I had z-baby take the pieces to the woman running the yard sale. He handed them to her and I asked what she wanted for them. In a grandmotherly southern drawl she replied, “For this cutie? I reckon a quarter each.” I told z-baby that if he wanted them he would have to pay her with his monini. He set the alebrijes down quickly and fished his dollar out of his boot and handed it to her. I swear it’s close to the top of the list of the cutest things he’s ever done and it was really hard not to laugh. The woman, however, about fell out of her chair laughing and it only got worse when she gave him his change of two quarters and he promptly stuck them back down his boots. Priceless.

Alebrijes

Z-baby's yard sale find: alebrijes

The next day we went to the flea market, because they run a close second to yard sales and because I’ve found several Mexican produce vendors who sell things I can’t otherwise find around here easily. Not to mention their produce is better. I talked my mom into going with us and she gave z-baby a dollar as we were getting out of the car. He wanted her to carry it since he wasn’t wearing his boots.

We walked around and around and looked at all kinds of junk, including toys, and never heard a peep out of z-baby. Then, as we were rolling past the first produce stand, he started making all kinds of a big commotion, asking for his monini. My mom gave it to him and we both stood there watching to see what he wanted and he went up and gave it to the produce vendor. I asked him what he wanted and he said, “ananana, plat-no.” Bananas. The boy wanted a banana. And that’s just what he got. 🙂

Little surprises

19 Jul

Sometimes… actually most times… it’s the little things that put a smile on my face and make my heart soar.

Sig-o had to go away on an overnight trip this weekend, and I asked him to bring back a few things I can’t get around here. That in itself made me happy.

But he surprised me with one my favorite treats: litchis! It was so totally unexpected. Small but made me melt.

Litches

Not the prettiest I've seen, but sooooooo good!

Ahhhh, litchis! Or lychees. Or whatever. I love them. A lot. When we lived in Mexico, in my husband’s childhood home, we had a big litchi tree growing in the side garden. And I didn’t even know it. The avocado tree? Heaven. The banana tree? Worth the wait. That tree in the side garden? I’d never given it a second thought.

Then one day we were driving through town and I saw a guy selling litchis on the side of the road. I squealed in excitement but sig-o just rolled on by. “Al rato,” he told me, later. Later that day he came through the house carrying a bucket and yelling for me. He told me to follow him and took me to the side garden. And there it was in all its glory. The tree, ripe fruit filled its branches, just waiting. Waiting for me.

You’d think I’d won the lottery. We picked buckets full and I think that’s all I ate for days on end. I planted myself under a ceiling fan and ate… and ate. My fingertips hurt from peeling so many of them, but it was glorious. That is, until I got an inexplicable rash all over the outsides of my lips. It looked horrible and itched like crazy and hurt in the sweltering, summer heat. I finally had to go see a doctor but they couldn’t explain it and nothing they gave me helped. It eventually went away on its own, but my gorging on litchis had come to and end. The doctor seemed to think I’d probably had too much of a good thing. I was convinced it was poison ivy or something like it from when we were picking the litchis… but it didn’t matter. They were gone.

Fast forward a few years. We were living in the US again and I bought up a bunch of mangos at the farmers market. Soon after eating them, I got that same miserable rash on my face, only worse this time. A visit to the doctor again and some nosing around and I learned just how allergic some people can be to mangoes (the sap/oil in the peel and bark on the trees). And apparently I’m one of them. Because I tried it a few more times and it got worse each time. The last time I had a bite of mango was six years ago (six sad years). I really wanted some mango and asked sig-o to peel and cut it for me. He made the nicest fruit salad… and within minutes I could feel it starting. But this time it was in my throat, too, and my co-workers had to take me to the pharmacy to grab some Benedryl.

Only later did I put it together. Mangoes and litchis come into season around the same time in sig-o’s hometown. And prior to discovering the tree of all things good, I had been munching on mangos. Not the big mangos you usually see (petacon) or even the yummy ataulfo, but little bitty, yellow mangos that you pop in your mouth, peel and all. Delightful. And a nightmare for anyone allergic to them!

So now, I don’t buy mangoes. I don’t eat mangoes. I can’t even touch mangoes. I dare say I’m afraid of mangoes.

But litchis? Bring ’em on, baby! And that’s why sig-o’s little surprise meant so much. Despite my love for them, I somehow forget about litchis. Maybe because they’re in season so briefly and not easy to find. But sig-o? He thinks of me and that summer each and every time he sees them and buys them for me without fail. How could that not make a girl’s heart soar?

Happy Monday

18 Jul

Happy Monday! This Monday seemed to slip up on me… but still plenty to be happy about!

  1. Cleaning my house. That’s not something that usually makes my list, but it’s so nice when you’re finished, isn’t it?
  2. Dancing with z-baby and sig-o before and after dinner.
  3. Sig-o making it back from a weekend trip safe and sound.
  4. Getting a surprise souvenir from sig-o’s trip.
  5. When my poor dog finally goes out to the bathroom after refusing for 36 hours due to non-stop rain. Poor thing.
  6. Z-baby wrapping his trucks and choo-choos up in a blanket and bouncing them until they go night-night.
  7. Fresh, in-season fruit. I’m in love right now.
  8. Long afternoon naps with z-baby.
What are you happy about today?