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.