Friday, November 18, 2011

Sugar, sugar - Holiday Style

I can't catch up on my posting, so I decided to post what is happening now and work in some past events when I get the time.

I just got back from a sugar flower class in Atlanta. I won a free class last time and I really wanted to come back and learn the holiday flowers: poinsettia, holly, mistletoe, Christmas rose, pine cones, and some other fill.

My favorite is the poinsettia - it is a show piece flower!

We left class with a completed floral spray. It looks lovely on our front hall table.

To get it home, they wrapped it and put it in a box and I guarded that box very carefully on the flight to LGA. I lost a few needles off of the spruce, but no other damage.

You may be asking why I go down to Atlanta to take classes, it is because of Chef Lodge. He is a world class pastry chef and great instructor.

Chef Lodge is from Wales and worked on one of Princess Diana's wedding cakes. I asked him about the latest Royal Wedding. He wasn't available to create any fabulous cakes but he did say he really hoped to be able to make something when Harry got married because he made Harry's baby shower cake. Excellent name dropping chef, well played!

I'm already thinking of the classes I want to take next year (gum paste shoes and the 3-D Muppet cake that looks like you are my current favorites).

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Mel's Amazing Birthday Race: Texas Forever

It all started with a stack of clues

And a "marked' car -

Mel and I met up in Austin to spend one amazing weekend celebrating her birthday. (And yes, it was in July, as the weather cools I am enjoying the memories of the ridiculous heat and humidity that weekend.)

Austin is a funky little town that strives to "Keep Weird".

It was also the filming location for the television series Friday Night Lights.

Our first stop, just across the street from the airport was the field used for the Panthers and Lions games. One side was painted blue for the Panthers and the other side was run down and painted red for the Panthers.

The Lions side still had the scoreboard at the far end of the field. We could walk right on the Lions field.

The sky in Texas was amazing - so big and blue with puffy white clouds, it looks great in all of the photos.

The Panther's side of the field was fenced off, but the field house was easy to see.The same building was also used for the Lion's locker room - one side was painted blue and the other side red.

After the rush of the field we had a "road block". The birthday girl had to have a drink at the local gentleman's club. This location was featured quite a bit in the FNL series.

Interesting note, they generally don't let unescorted women in to this club - apparently wives go in a make a scene looking for wayward husbands. Once we convinced them we were not there to make trouble we were allowed to have a drink at the bar.

We spent the afternoon enjoying downtown Austin, including watching the thousands of bats flying out for the night from under the Congress St. bridge.

We two stepped the night away at The Broken Spoke, a true honky tonk bar that has been on the scene in Austin for forty years.

The band was a blast and the beers were cold - a great way to spend the night.

Saturday we tracked down more of the locations used in the filming of FNL.

The Riggins' house (I was expecting a couch on the front porch).

The Taylor house.

And Matt's house - it was the easiest to recognize.

The Alamo Freeze, actually a DQ.

And then we tracked down Buddy's Bar.

And Tim's property. It was on a road to no where but it was also really easy to recognize.

After all of that we needed a break and headed to the restaurant that was home to the very awkward dinner with Matt, Julie, Eric, and Tammy after Matt and Julie announced their engagement.

Lucky for us it was home to the "Best Queso in Texas". We were very excited for the queso until it arrived at the table and was little more than melted Velveeta with spicy tomatoes. The food was not our best meal in Austin but the service was good and the restaurant was very cute inside.

After our lunch break we drove up to Pflugerville, home of the real Panthers. The high school football field was amazing. The facilities were very modern and well maintained. I can only imagine how packed the stands must be during Friday night games.

We had a bonus sighting on the way out of Pflugerville - this ice cream shop was used in the opening credit shots of FNL. I wanted it to be open, some ice cream would have been delicious on that hot afternoon!

No time to worry about ice cream, we needed to get to our next "detour" - the roller derby! Roller derby is a big event in Austin. There were about 2,500 fans packed in to the arena, ready to cheer on their local ladies.

After roller derby we had our best meal in Austin - very creative sushi at Uchi.

Sunday came way too quickly. We spent our last day in Austin shopping in the SoCo area (south Congress St). Our first stop was Allen's Boots - it is the place to buy boots in Austin. We both bought the cutest boots after trying on pair after pair. The staff was wonderful and very patient.

And we even got in another bonus FNL film location - Fran's was featured in season 1.

We wrapped up the day with a late lunch at Home Slice, the pizza was definitely on par with a good New York slice.

Our weekend went by way too fast and there is still a list of things I want to see and do in Austin. I can't wait to go back, but maybe not July for my next visit!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Let's Go Down to Sesame Street

I dusted off the cupcake pan and decorating tips last weekend - time to bake some Sesame Street cupcakes!

The actual cake was my usual Cake Doctor 'Best Birthday Cupcakes" recipe - I made 48 Sesame Street friends for a 1 year old birthday party on Saturday.

I started with Oscar. His cupcake liner was silver foil to represent his trashcan.

Next was Cookie (yes I made the chocolate chip cookies in his mouth). Cookie was a popular choice with the kids at the party - not only did you get a cupcake but a cookie too!

After Cookie, a few Grover cupcakes. I knew he would be the least popular with the little kids but I always liked Grover.

And finally, the rock star of the party.....Elmo!

(His eyes are white chocolate melting wafers with black frosting, his nose is orange frosting, and his mouth is half of an Oreo chocolate wafer with no icing.)

The kids went crazy for the cupcakes. My favorite part was when we were putting them out one dad was holding his son back by grabbing the collar of his shirt because the boy wanted to immediately grab and Elmo cupcake off of the table.

And I did attempt to make Big Bird, but instead we ended up with a few sunflower cupcakes.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Best Thing I Heard Last Weekend

From my friend's 5 year old son:

I wish every day was summer and every night was Halloween.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Well it has been a very busy summer and now that summer is over it is time for me to update the blog!

July birthday month started off with a long weekend in Atlanta for Braves baseball, of course!

Michael flew down to Atlanta early on Friday and enjoyed the night game. I was the support crew. I flew down with the bags after work Friday night and joined him for the Saturday and Sunday games.

Michael wore his jersey, which was a mistake in the Atlanta heat. The jersey looks great but the fabric is heavy and doesn't breathe well. It is now reserved for non-summer games.

Pre-game warm up was held at the Bullpen. This bar is located right across the street from Ted Turner Field. If you aren't wearing Braves colors you better find another bar, because it is Braves Country at the Bullpen.

They have indoor and outdoor seating and not only is it a great place to enjoy a cold beer but the people watching is fabulous. We even saw a few fans BYOB with their own decorated koozies (can coolers). I was most impressed, you know I love a good craft project.

We had really cool seats for the Saturday night game. We were right at the outfield wall (and I'm sure there is a better way to explain our seats, but just look at the photo below and you can see our view).

It was an interesting perspective, but it was really hard to see the pitches.

Just in front of us we had a pair of husband and wife hecklers. They were giving the opposing team outfielder quite an earful the entire game. The best part was most of the time the things they were yelling were really stupid. My favorite was "Scott, you're terrible - you play for the Orioles." Well really, that is more fact than anything else - because Luke Scott is an outfielder for the Orioles. Usually the husband was in charge of the heckling, but the wife was not afraid to jump in when necessary. They were quite the pair and clearly well suited for each other.

After our BBQ dinner we enjoyed watching the Braves Win, Braves Win, Braves Win!!!

I loved this shot outside of the Braves Hall of Fame.

Sunday was a day game and Michael made sure to buy us seats in the shade! We also had access to an air conditioned interior section of the field. Not only did we stay cool but there were good food vendors in the area as well. I had a delicious gyro sandwich made fresh right in front of me. Other gourmet food options (all made to order) included sushi, hot dogs with special toppings, and pasta.

We flew home on the 4th of July, in time to see the big NYC fireworks show from our roof. We went up early and secured a prime viewing spot. Not only were we treated to a spectacular fireworks show but the sunset was amazing that night as well.

For Michael's actual birthday we enjoyed dinner at Colicchio & Sons. The space used to be craftsteak, but is now transformed in to a new Tom Colicchio restaurant. Dinner did not disappoint - it was a perfect ending to a nice long Michael birthday weekend.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Latest Favorite Thing

Maple Cotton Candy!

Yes, cotton candy made from maple syrup sugar.

I read about it awhile ago. I can only get it at the Union Square Green Market. The company only makes small batches so it sells out pretty quickly (read that as, I have to get to the Farmer's Market relatively early when I want to buy some.)

The farmers that make it dry their maple syrup and grind it in to a fine sugar. They had to have a cotton candy machine specially made because the maple sugar has finer grains than regular cotton candy sugar.

It is the most delicious cotton candy, like little puffs of maple that just melt in your mouth.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cutest Cats Ever

Roxy was absent for this afternoon photo shoot - but Trixie and Beckham could not be cuter!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Big Apple BBQ



What's that? The smell of smoke and roasting meat? Must be time for the Big Apple BBQ.

Truly one of our favorite weekends in the city - pit masters from all over the United States circle their BBQ pits and smokers around Madison Square Park for one weekend of pulled pork and brisket bliss.

Over the years we have learned to start each day with a pulled pork sandwich from Big Bob Gibson's (they are so popular they always run out of meat by the late afternoon).

And when you think you've added enough sauce, give it one more squirt.

And welcome back to one of my favorites - Salt Lick from Austin, Texas serving up their delicious sausage. (They have a location in the Austin airport - you know I am ordering up a sausage sandwich on my way out of town in a few weeks.)

Another one of our favorites is Jim and Nick's BBQ also serving sausage with a side of pimento cheese. I don't want to know what is in pimento cheese all I know is it is creamy and cheesy and a little spicy. A perfect compliment to the smoky sausage.

We did not have great weather for the BBQ this year, Saturday it rained for at least two hours. on the positive side, it made for short food lines later in the day.

Sunday it was warm and sunny, we visited the bourbon tent and 11 Madison Park to enjoy some refreshing beverages (don't you love the color in my drink - it was something with peach and bourbon and quite refreshing).

Once again The Crooners were there to play bluegrass inspired music.

Of course we are already counting down the days to next year's BBQ. (Thank goodness J didn't schedule her wedding for that weekend - it would be almost as bad as the family wedding that was the same day as the USC vs Cal game.)

Friday, July 08, 2011

More Crafts

I've been particularly crafty lately - I think it means I've been working too much and my brain needs to be creative to even out the numbers side.

It all started with the idea I could whip out a quick and super cute hankie for J's wedding shower. My first attempt was too much, my second attempt too little - finally it worked out just right.

I used the 'save the date' card as inspiration and added the tree graphic. It took longer than I planned but I was really happy with the final project.

I added some scrapbook paper, tulle, and a decorative brad to a blank card to make my gift card. I stamped the inside with 'Keep Calm and Carry On' - which was just perfect for this bride to be.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Just Like POTUS

I've always liked how the White House has a clock for just for the President. Where ever he goes the clock shows his time.

A while back we went to IKEA and now we each have our own clock.

I think I need a little plaque under each clock to designate the KO and the MW clock. Of course the 'big clock' is always set to local time.