I'll Never Write a Novel

The Memoir of a Personal Essayist OR Confessions of a Theatre Widow

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Cake Challenge

I was a lucky little kid. This is true on so many levels, but today's topic is birthday cakes. And I had some cool ones. My favorite, of course, was the Barbie cake. It was the coolest cake. Ever. My mom had a friend who owned a bakery. Beck's Bakery, in Fircrest, was the closest thing I have ever seen in the Tacoma area that rivals the bakeries in my neighborhood. I assume it was modeled after the East Coast awesomeness. And I know my mom loved Beck's because of it. And, Mrs. Beck loved us kids. She was an amazing gal to know as a little kid. She was so nice and sweet (no pun intended) and you always got a free cookie or something delicious out of a trip to Beck's Bakery. Oh, and, you got kick booty b-day cakes. And the Creme-De la-Creme was the doll cake. Usually* there was a whole Barbie (or Barbie knock-off) standing in a dress made out of cakie wonderfulness. C'mon, you just can't beat that. Cake and a doll?! Too cool. (I say "usually", because I distinctly recall one cake that just had a torso and head. Yikes.)

And, now, living in bakery mecca my daughter has seen the Barbie cake and instantly recognized it's magnificence. Her first glimpse: A sight to behold rotating on a stand in the window of La Guli. She began requesting a Barbie cake at least six-months ago. And we kept saying, "for your birthday." So she began to pass by the bakery saying, "I'm going to get a Barbie cake for my birthday." We continued to agree. It never occurred to us to ask how much one would cost, we'd just enthusiastically promise Gwen the coolest birthday cake. Ever. Wanna see what they look like so you can agree? Click here then scroll through a couple images. If you want to see even more extraordinary images just do a google search. Ahh-mazing.

As Little G's birthday quickly approached The Dad Guy and I decided to find out how much it would be to procure fantasy cake. Then we found out. Now, for all the work that goes into such a masterpiece, and knowing how delicious this bakery's goods are, the price is not absurd. But when you think about the fact that we aren't likely serving more that 5 people cake, it's ridiculous. $80-90+. Seriously. But no other cake will do for our girl. I think she'd genuinely wonder where her Barbie cake is if we didn't deliver on the promise we made this week (her birthday is Thursday). So, what's a family with big promises and small wallets to do? Bake your own, you say? Well, that's what we are about to do.

I am taking on the crazy task... mission... nay, quest, of baking a Barbie cake. I am no crafter. I've got no secret cake decorating skills up my sleeve. I am just a girl, standing in front of an oven, trying to make her daughter happy. I have watched a couple tutorials on You Tube. I have selected the Belle doll to inhabit the cake. All the appropriate supplies have been obtained after stops at a lot of stores. And now, via the internets, I have announced to the public that I am reaching way beyond my capabilities to bake the improbable. I mean, I can't say it's impossible. Clearly, it's possible to do. It's just a stretch for this little lady.

The stats:
Doll: Beauty and the Beast's very own Belle. Her dress just screams to be recreated in frosting, right? Plus, the one I purchases actually has her top moulded to the body.
Cake: Basic 1-2-3-4 Cake
Frosting: Cream Cheese Buttercream. I hope I bought enough yellow food coloring.

The best skills that I bring to the project, I think, are a) my tremendous love for my daughter and my joy in her happiness; b) lots of experience eating cake (and enjoying the doll variety quite a bit); c) even more experience playing with Barbie.

So, now you know. You are officially on the Barbie Cake Journey with me. If you have any advice or words of encouragement, please do not hesitate to share with me. Isn't that what the comments section is for? Now that this is public knowledge I can't really back out. You're counting on a picture, right? I guess it better look good.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Broadway Show!

I just want to take a moment to say congrats to my hubby's big Broadway show. When he was offered a year-long contract on the project we both thought getting to the one-year mark was a long shot. We were excited about the prospect, but reticent about this small show about a pretty messed up family making it. But, here we are. With three Tony Awards and the Pulitzer added to the legacy, it seems to have worked out A-Okay.

We were talking the other night about how fun opening night was. It was a true highlight of our lives together. Uncomplicated joy. The show was perfection, the reviews brilliant, and the party was one for the record books. It was simply so much fun. We stayed out till the wee hours with my in-laws and loved every minute of it. There are few nights in life that can ever be so effortlessly exciting and surprising. This was one of them. I am sure there will be more opening nights in the future, but it was all new, and firsts, and amazing. I will never forget it.

So, here's to an amazing year and to enjoying the landmarks moments in all our lives!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Living the Dream

When I was in junior high I wrote a short story in which I won the Pulitzer Prize. I can't remember all the details of the story, but it had to involve science, as I recall. It was for Mr. Williams' science class so, hmm, not sure how all that goes together. And I think there was a beach involved.

And, yesterday, I think I found myself remembering that story as I came as close as I think I ever will to the Pulitzer announcement directly effecting me. The Dad Guy's show won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Only seven other musicals have ever received the honor (can you say, "South Pacific," "A Chorus Line," "Sunday in the Park With George"!?). My mind is blown at the amazing fortune and blessing it has been to have our family involved in such a beautiful, important, moving, and good piece of theatre. And, now I am a little linked to that Pulitzer Prize I have dreamt about. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

By the way, I am not sure what my hubby thinks he'll do after this. How do you top this? In G's parlance, "Oh, that's what I am talking about... I'm talking about getting a Tony award!" Goal set.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

It's My Party

I am sick of hosting my pity party these days. The Dad Guy and I were joking that at this party there is a pile of lemons. Perhaps a guest could suggest making some lemonade. I would likely just tell them that they are just there for sucking on. Bad attitude.

At Mass on Easter Sunday the pastor suggested something that I had been thinking about recently; that although Lent ends on Easter, the Easter season is just beginning. I didn't really do a great job of Lent this year. I was incredibly distracted, out of sorts (literally and figuratively) and hosting the aforementioned party more than I would like. I felt like I was already making enough sacrifices, so I didn't do anything "special" for Lent. It's more like I did Lent by accident. It wasn't thoughtful or purposeful and perhaps it was exactly what it should have been this year for me. But the 40 days between Easter and Ascension are a time of renewal of thoughtful engagement, and not focusing on suffering. It is a time in which Jesus fully lived and God shared the Holy Spirit with us. With the suffering going on around me, I think it's the perfect time for me to acknowledge joy and especially see the ways Jesus is risen and present in my every day. Instead of "giving something up" it can be a time to say "yes" to the world and to the risen Christ in everyone, and embrace life. It is time to be filled, on-fire with The Spirit. So, I intend to spend the next several weeks really living. So, less pity party and more party party. Today Gwen, Thomas and I went out for ice cream cones (Thomas will get his share later). It was time to enjoy the sun and have an ice cream social. And it was fun.

Jesus was among the living and it's the least I can do to attempt to do the same.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Let's Try This Again

Well, clearly I am not writing a novel. Alas, I am not even writing a blog.

Looking for focus. I am not sure what thoughts and ideas are worth posting here, but maybe if I just start writing, even if I don't know what I am going to write, I'll get some ideas.

Here are a couple topics to muse upon...

The Boy
Since my last post we have added Thomas Richard to the clan. He's darling and a great baby. While staying with my dad for several weeks he frequently commented how good Thomas is. And that guy knows a little more than something about babies. More on Dad later. Thomas already sleeps and eats better than Little G did by six months I would guess, so we're on the right track. That being said, it hasn't been all wine and roses (in fact very little of either, literally). The biggest obstacle has probably been the thrush/yeast issue I have had in nursing. I you are sensitive, scroll down now. I think the nipple pain I had rivaled my challenging and painful birth. And it went on and on. And I didn't know when and if it would end. After I got through it I commented to my sister that I finally thought I was going to get to keep the nipple (half kidding/half serious) and she replied, "That's good. And I never want to hear anyone say that phrase again." The midwife actually gasped when she saw was I had going on in the nippular region. She said she'd seen a few cases that bad in her time and that most people through came out okay. Yikes. That's enough about boobs for now, I think.

My Dad
So, my dad was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer within about four weeks after I had Thomas. I want to note here that Thomas is named after both grandfathers Thomas is Louis' dad and Richard is my dad. We are blessed to have two amazing men to have our son share a name with. We couldn't ask for better. My dad is a truly amazing, funny and inspiring person. It is my honor to be his daughter. He has quietly and meaningfully touched more lives that one could even begin to count. This diagnosis has been a truly devastating blow and the prognosis is not good. We hope to have him with us for a year or two. According to "the numbers" that is very optimistic. I choose to maintain hope. Anything else is too unbearable to think. I am grateful that I got to take the kids home and to be with my dad for four weeks. There is never enough time. While on the phone with him today I thought, "Please, God, do not let this be the last time I will ever with my dad a 'Happy Easter.'" I count on having Easter 2011 with him. I believe in miracles. If I keep up this blog I suspect that there will be much more on this topic. For now, I beg you to please pray for him.

Now for something completely different. I have been baking and cooking a lot lately. Not as much as I would like, mind you, but a good bit. I made coconut macaroons yesterday with The G. They are amazing. I generally cannot eat macaroons since traditional recipes call for almond extract (I mean, I could eat them, but then I would be fiercely sick). I subbed in some vanilla extract and I have no idea why anyone would want them any other way. Recipe, you say?

Coconut Vanilla Macaroons
One 14 oz. package sweetened coconut (I used Angel Flake)
2/3 c. sugar
6 tbs. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix sugar, flour and salt in a bowl. In a large bowl whip egg whites with an electric mixers till soft peaks form. Add vanilla and gently blend. Add coconut and sugar mixture by hand with the egg whites.

Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. You may need a couple extra minutes depending on your oven. I advise using a floured parchment or a silpat on your baking sheet. Check for golden brown edges. Remove promptly to a rack to cool. Let cool completely. Enjoy. Try not to eat 20.

I've been making up recipes, trying new things and perfecting standards. I think this is a great new release for me and I look forward to lots more cooking. By the way, my Cuisinart 7-speed handmixer rocks.

So, I think that's all a fair smattering of life today. We'll see how long it takes to come back...