Monday, April 30, 2012

Fresh Baby

Ok so I'm withholding any announcement-making until all technical difficulties are resolved. Such is the way of spare-time projects and managing the rest of my life on top of it.

This weekend I got to do something I have surprisingly never done before. I held a baby. A 10-day old baby.

It was weird, and interesting, and cute, and warm, and heavy, and cute.

I was the youngest kid in the family so I never had siblings to hold and I grew up 1000s of kilometres away from any extended family so there weren't any baby cousins around. There just haven't been any babies in my life! Thanks to my friends for changing that.

RB, myself and another couple went over to visit the new family yesterday afternoon. I brought an aforementioned blanket and some food I had made. What do babies like? I have no idea so I went with the 'give the parents a break' route and made them 2 dinners they could freeze. Focus on your strengths!

I held that little baby girl for about ten minutes and admired her tiny little hands (THEY ARE SO TINY!) as she made cute faces at me with her big blue eyes. Her face eventually changed to disgust as she kept turning her head towards me and finding no sustenance. Like 'what is this phony warm place that lacks a food source? Get me outta here!' All that baby wanted to do was eat. She eats and then goes into food coma. What a life! Pure satisfaction brought on by food! Ok, I can sort of relate to that...

I can see how it's a dangerous activity to let your gf hold a new baby. I am starting to hear, very quietly, very slowly, a small 'tick...tick...tick...' in my head. My previous impression of 'babies are parasites' has noticeably shifted to 'babies are.... interesting...' oy.

If you've had a baby, please tell me something awesome about it! While it's starting to seem interesting and something I'll consider, it still feels terrifying!

(In case I didn't make it clear - NO, NOT PREGO, NO NO NO)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Favourites ver. 13

In which I post fun and favourite things from my week, every Friday!

Hello friends! There is finally a semblance of Spring in these parts! That means it has gone from super hot to super cold to kind of chilly and sunny... whatever, I'll take it!

As it is Friday and I haven't posted a favourite's list in a while, I present to you a month of favourites!

1. So many DIY's popping up all over the internet as Spring and gardening season is upon us.
SAS Interiors shows us how to make a terrarium, Making it Lovely gives us a different spin on a similar terrarium project. Terrariums seem to be this season's hottest gardening trend? Is that a thing? It is now!

2. This is a wonderful list of beauty tips from some beautiful bloggers. My favourite - WEAR SUNSCREEN. (duh)

3. My new favourite dinner party meal is all-dressed chili. Which is basically chili topped with everything in the fridge. This week I made my standard chili recipe and then set out little dishes or chopped cilantro, grated cheddar, sour cream, green onions, and toasted soft tortillas. Guests can add any or all toppings to their chili and every bite tastes different. It worked out great this week as the weather is still... CHILLY. hah. I also made this cornbread as a side and it added to the variety of toppings.

4. I spent most of last weekend making baby blankets for a variety of newly-babied-friends. I'm not going to direct you to any DIY in particular as there are literally hundreds and all produce different results depending on what you're looking for. There are so many that are dead simple. So simple that I made 4 of them in one afternoon. Seriously, anyone can do this. Oh, you can't sew? Sweet, it's on my Life List to teach someone! Call me ;)

Have a super great weekend to everyone! Back to our regularly scheduled programming on Monday with some CRAZY news... stay tuned...

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Cupcake Decorating Part 2: Techniques

Earlier this week I covered the tools that I use to decorate my cupcakes. Below I describe the magic way I use these tools... Part 2: Techniques!

1. Make sure your cupcakes have thoroughly cooled to room temperature. To ice a warm cupcake results in sloppy melted icing. Alternatively, to ice a cupcake directly from the fridge can tear the cake and you have a crumby mess. Stick with room temperature.

2. Get your piping bag ready: take your bag, either insert your coupler and screw on the tip or push the tip through to the end. Now you need to fill with icing. The best way to do this is to use a spatula and a large glass/container/jar (like a beer glass or plastic container). Put the prepped bag in the container and pull the top edges down over the sides. This allows your bag to be stable and held open.

** something I'm realizing while I'm writing this is that I do this all with one hand and you might find an easier way with your fancy two-hands. By all means experiment!! This is just how I do it. Look up youtube videos for different ideas (I totally just spilled my biggest secret!).

Now you can use the spatula to scoop in all of your icing, using the edge of the container to scrape off every last bit. Once all your icing is in, pull up the edges of the bag and holding the top with one hand, use 2 fingers to push the icing further into the bag (like you would with a tube of toothpaste). It's helpful to do this over your glass/container in case you push out any icing. Squish the icing a bit with your hand to push any air bubbles up to ensure consistent piping. Once your icing is all pushed down, twist the top of the bag tightly and either secure with an elastic or fold it over and wrap your hand around. You can continue to use your glass/container to set your icing bag down as you work.

Here's a crappy phone picture of my piping bag pulled over a yoghurt container full of icing. Yes, my KitchenAid is baby pink.

Note that the bag is not that full, all the icing is just at the top and needs to be pushed down. 

3. Decorating: now that you have your icing ready to go, time to get it on the cupcakes. If you're using the 1M (open star) or 2D (closed star) tip as described in Part 1: Tools, you can do several things:
- make a giant swirl: start at the edge of the cupcake and swirl to the centre, keeping the tip 1/4" above the cake at a 90o angle to the cake (ie: straight up). Once you've made one full swirl and covered the cake, make a 2nd swirl starting a bit further in than the first swirl. This gives you that bakery mound that we all love.
- make a rose: are you ready for this? The rose is simply created by starting on the inside of the cupcake and swirling to the outside edge. Works best with the 1M tip.

2D tip used to make giant swirls 

1M tip to make pretty roses

I recommend practising on a plate or waxed paper. You can simply scoop your test swirls back into the bowl so there's no frosting wasted. There are a ton of different piping tips that you can use - experiment!