Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pumpkins that go boo in the night...

Cute, right?

Last year I saw a set of cream painted pumpkins downtown (I think they said "Halloween" or something) and I was so sad to see they were more than $60. (I love the downtown, but some stuff is so overpriced.) I decided to make my own, but didn't get around to it until this year.

This was the before:

They were pretty ugly, but dirt cheap and that was my only requirement. I love love love how they turned out. And the best part? It cost me less than $8 total.

I love being crafty. :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Here's a riddle.

Q) When is the worst time for medical waste to wash up on the shore of a resort town?

A) Well, maybe Memorial Day weekend. But second would be Labor Day weekend. Which is what happened.

Isn't that disgusting, dangerous and disappointing all rolled into one? Who would dump syringes, dirty latex, etc. into the ocean? People really suck sometimes. Luckily, no one was injured by any of this nonsense. Or, I suppose I should say directly injured by stepping on said medical waste.

But, really, the effects will be far reaching.

Already, beaches have been closed. Reopened (half of them) late today, however who knows what kind of damage that did to the economy. Half of the beaches remain closed through at least tomorrow. How many people ditched weekend plans here because of the medical waste situation plastered all over the news? I certainly wouldn't want to bring my kids here and let them go into the ocean.

The businesses in this town rely on a successful summer season to profit enough to get them through the rest of the year. Holiday weekends - especially Labor Day, the last big hurrah of summer - are especially important. It's enough of an issue having to gamble on the weather, let alone needing to worry about something like the careless, selfish nature of someone who would dump medical waste into the ocean.

Then, there's the ocean itself. Doesn't it see enough pollutants, trash and the like? The animals and plant life have enough to battle with boaters and fishermen. Dumping something as disgusting as medical waste into the water is so beyond disrespectful to the environment.

It's also completely unbelievable. Maybe I have too much faith in people, but something that could have easily seriously harmed countless people shouldn't be happening here. Am I overreacting to this? Maybe. Are there much, much bigger problems? Sure there are.

But there will always be bigger problems. And, really, you have to care even about the smaller ones. There are tons of consequences, no matter how trivial it may seem.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cake Tutorial

Well, no one asked for it, but here it goes anyway. A tutorial to Ryan and Felicia's (slightly inappropriate) anniversary cake. It was time consuming, and the fondant was a bit tricky, but overall it's not a very complicated cake. Anyone can do it!

1. Make your cakes. I had to bake mine in metal bowls, but it would probably fare better if you made them in actual cake pans shaped accordingly. I just used a box cake of chocolate fudge. As you can see, the one cake broke, but after icing it held together fine.

While the cakes were baking, I made my fondant by using this recipe here. I can't explain the process any better, and I referenced this throughout. I didn't use the same powdered sugar she recommends (I used Domino) and I went for the corn starch method over the Crisco. It worked really well, but don't be afraid to add a bit of water if needed when you're ready to apply the fondant to your cake. I had to, and it didn't mess anything up.

2. Ice your cakes. This helped the fondant stick and made everything tastier. On the fondant site, it says to use buttercream. Because of a lack of time, I used canned chocolate fudge icing, which worked great. I put a generous layer all over both cakes.

3. Add the accent, if you want to. I used peanut M&Ms, which worked nicely. The one sunk into the cake a little bit, or maybe it turned, I don't know. (Sorry, no picture here.)

4. Roll out your fondant. You'll have to knead it again (since it was in the fridge) and may need to add a bit of water (see above). I literally wet my fingertips and worked water in this way - it was a very miniscule amount. If you want to add color, do it here. I made half pink and half peach. I'd recommend using plastic gloves, because my hands are still a little red as I type this a day later. Reference the fondant recipe instructions above on how to roll out your fondant. Use corn starch or Crisco. I'd also roll it pretty thin - I think mine ended up being too thick. (No picture here, either.)

5. Apply the "skin" first. I rolled it out to the approximate size and laid the peach fondant over the cakes. I then smoothed everything down, but didn't push too hard. If anything looks crackly, wet your finger tip with water and try to smooth it out. Trim the excess fondant.

6. Now it's time for the bra. I wanted mine red and was going to pipe on lace, but again because of the lack of time I opted to just go with pink. (It's hard to work in the color.) I trimmed my fondant and rolled the edge under that was going to be diagonally across each cake. I then cut little strips for the bra straps and just laid them on the cake board. As before, tuck, trim and smooth.

7. Now, you're done! I piped on a message with my leftover chocolate icing. You could add detail to the bra, add a tattoo - go crazy. :)

Here's the happy couple with their gift.

And after it was cut into.

And poor little Piper. I think she thought the cake might have just randomly rolled off the table or something.

Final critique? It was tasty. The fondant is better than other types I've tried, although I have to say I'm still not crazy about it. I think if I rolled it thinner it would have gone over better. It tastes pretty much like condensed sugar. I really liked working with the fondant and I'm excited to try some other cakes.

This opens up a whole new cake-world for me. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 25, 2008

A whole lotta' awesome

For Ryan and Felicia, on their first anniversary.

Happy anniversary, you two.

(More detailed cake post later, promise!)

Sunday, August 24, 2008


A friend was holding the fall open house at her store this weekend, and I made some sugar cookies for her. I didn't know how I was going to decorate the owls, but I was actually very pleased with how they came out. The pumpkins were super cute, too. The rest of the cookies (cats, brooms and bats) were okay, but I could have done a better job. I just didn't have a ton of time to ice them.

After decorating these cookies and seeing all the fun Halloween items at the store, I really can't wait for fall to get here. It's by far my favorite season. I'm simply obsessed with pumpkins (I don't try to hide it!), there are tons of fall festivals and, of course, it's my birthday!

Only 29 days to go (officially), but I always feel September brings fall with it in the beginning.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

So close, yet so far.

I'm on my own this week at work. Well, I suppose that's a bit of an exaggeration. There are plenty of people in the office to help with the writing and proofing and such, but I'm on my own in the realm of layout. My boss took the week off, and since he and I cover layout on our own, that leaves just little ol' me.

Yesterday was a breeze. I finished the paper around, say, 3 p.m. or so and got a good bit of today's issue finished before leaving at 5 p.m. I came back at 8 p.m. and worked for three hours. That left considerably less to do today, and for once my overtime paid off because I actually finished the paper early! At 3:40 p.m. Way ahead of schedule.

Or so I thought.

Why, you may ask, am I still sitting in my office at 4:20 p.m. writing a blog post? Why am I not, for instance, at home, eating chocolate, playing with Piper and reading Harry Potter?

See, there's this full page ad to go in B section. It's coming directly from a client, camera-ready. Problem is, it's not here yet. Theoretically, it should have been here this morning, since that's when B finishes up. The guy needed till 4 p.m. - no big, we just let the printer know that this morning. At 3:50 p.m., our ad rep called and he said it wasn't finished, but certainly he'd have it by 5 p.m.

Sure. We'll just see about that.

Now, you might be asking why I'm not doing work in preparation for the paper that deadlines on Friday. I should be, I know. However, when I've already worked about five extra hours this week - and it's only Wednesday - my brain needs a little break. So here I am, waiting. Of course, this brain break would be a lot nicer with chocolate. And Harry Potter.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cookie duo

I needed to send a gift to Amy, and what's a package without some cookies, really? So last night I set out to bake a couple of different types to ship off to North Carolina.

My mom called mid-baking to let me know a friend is hosting a barbecue get-together at a local park on Sunday in memory of her son who passed away last year, and we're on dessert duty. The extra cookies were packaged up and stuck into the fridge for next week - pretty perfect timing, if I do say so myself.

First, I started with a basic chocolate chip cookie dough recipe, slightly adjusted, and used white chips instead of semi-sweet. After the cookies were half baked, I topped each with a sliver of caramel and sprinkle of coconut (which toasted nicely for the remaining 7 minutes of baking). I'm not actually a huge white chocolate or caramel fan myself, but these cookies were scrumptious and pretty to boot.

Second, I made a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie. The recipe was just on the back of the chocolate chip bag, and I had to adjust it because I ran out of some ingredients. (A little less brown sugar, a little more granulated sugar, extra flour and extra milk.) These were delicious and didn't even totally flatten out, which seems to be my usual luck with oatmeal cookies, for some reason.

I'm trying to figure out what else to bake this week in preparation for Sunday. I have a lot of chocolate chips left over, so maybe some type of chocolate chip bar is in order. On Saturday I'm going to bake mini cupcakes - they take a while, but I think they'd be perfect for a huge barbecue.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Okay, so Ryan introduced me to this website that Idroma showed her the other day. Cake Wrecks is probably one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. It's pictures (and wonderful commentary) on cakes that are, well, wrecks. Whether it's the spelling, grammar, decor - oh, you just have to go look for yourself. It's worth your time.

Now, I came across a link on Cake Wrecks for The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks and I was sitting here on the couch, minding my own business, and pretty much dissolving in laughter.

When I showed Ryan the site, she said, "And that's your inner editor coming out."

Whatever. It's still funny.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Oy, my head...

I woke up with this throbbing headache around 8 a.m. I took Piper outside, popped a few Tylenol, and (since I don't have to work today!) went back to bed for a couple more hours.

I woke up at 10:15 a.m. with that same headache. And now it's been almost an hour and it hasn't subsided. Maybe a migraine? I'm not sure.

But I was planning on a nice day of working on some artwork, crafting and coffee. Now I think I may just take Piper for her walk and lay down in the dark with something cool on my head.

This is really killing me. I'm re-reading the Harry Potter series, and I can't even keep on with book two right now. It makes my head feel like it's going to explode. Speaking of which, typing on the computer isn't all that much better.

So off I go.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

...just about as happy as can be.

Counting Crows, Maroon 5 and Sara Bareilles put on such a phenomenal show Friday night in Atlantic City, I honestly couldn't see how they would be able to top it Saturday night in Camden. And while they didn't necessary top it the next night, the show was just as amazing and high energy.

I took the photo above of Adam Duritz Friday night, and let me tell you having photo clearance at the concert of one of your favorite bands is just about as cool as it can get. I was literally standing a mere foot away from Duritz while he rocked out "Mr. Jones." It was hard to concentrate on taking the photos - I wanted to just stand and stare and sing. However, since I was the most inexperienced one at the show, I kept clicking away and ended up taking over 700 shots. I think this one is my favorite and really captures the intensity of the Counting Crows performance.

I'm not a huge Maroon 5 fan, mostly because I'm not all that familiar with their music aside from singles. But even if you're like me and aren't total Maroon 5 diehards, you have to see the band in concert if you like their radio hits. Adam Levine and crew are absolutely awesome. The A.C. show was marred by some technical problems and - more importantly - the band leaving the stage because of their disgust over fighting fans, but they still pulled off a great set. Saturday night Levine was totally more in tune with the crowd and had us all on our feet for well over an hour.

And Sara. She played the exact same set both nights, which I thought was kinda' odd, especially considering how close the shows were. Regardless, I loved it both times. She is definitely one of my favorite artists at this point (I listen to her CD constantly - all thanks to the wonderful boyfriend who got it for me!) and I wish she played more than a half an hour. She's also beautiful and charming and I really hope she makes it in the music business. You could tell Duritz thought the world of her, too.

This was such a great weekend. Not only did I get to see two out-of-this-world concerts with some of my favorite people (John, Ryan, Felicia and my little bro) and get the chance to take photos of these wonderful musicians, but it was also my brother's birthday (Happy birthday, Johnny!) and I got to see one of my other favorite people today, Miss Amy B., and meet her terrific dog, Djudju, albeit for a very brief amount of time.

Ah, happiness. Let's hope this lasts deep into the coming week.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Farmers Market

Every Wednesday, I go to the Farmers Market with Stef and her little guys. Afterwards, we usually indulge in a scone and coffee at Fourth Street Cafe on First Street. (You'd understand if you lived here.) Here are just a few of the gorgeous fruits and vegetables available this week. It's such a great way to start a stressful deadline day.

Mmm... 104 mini cupcakes!

So, I bought these super cute mini cupcake wrappers at the craft store and I discovered Ryan had purchased adorable mini muffin tins last spring. What's a girl to do? Make mini cupcakes, of course!

I promised Sean some birthday cupcakes (no, it's not his bday - it's a recipe from the Cupcake Doctor cookbook) because I needed to use my leftover icing from Sunday. Well, several hours after I began this process, I had 104 mini cupcakes in too cute wrappers sprinkled with blue, purple and pink.

They are delicious, however it turns out mini cupcakes are not a mini workload.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Happy Baptism, Finn!

I made Stef and Bill's gorgeous little one's baptism cake over the weekend. He was baptized at the beach and there was a festive party afterward. Finn opted to spend the majority of the party sleeping, but who could blame him? He had a very busy morning, getting splashed with ocean water and all. :)

Here is the cake:

And a few details:

Everyone seemed to love it and it tasted pretty much as good as it looked! It was vanilla cake with a buttercream frosting and, of course, some cake glitter and sprinkles. I'm going to make some cupcakes tonight to go with my leftover frosting. I felt too bad throwing it all away!