Saturday, March 30, 2013

In Celebration of the Paschal Lamb

I want to wish you- my patient and faithful blog readers (you know who you are)- a blessed Easter! I hope that you are passing on the meaningful traditions of your family to observe the Resurrection Day.

(I did not make these eggs. I bought them at a tiny gift shop in Sopron, Hungary and I've kept them hidden for safe keeping. With no tiny, curious hands in the house this year I thought it was safe to bring them out.)

Remember that it's never to late to start new traditions. This is my first attempt at Pascha bread, inspired by my daughter. My bread is not nearly as lovely as hers but it was fun to make.

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Celebration Cakes

I had a little summer preview of cake baking this last weekend with three sample cakes and one sample pie to bake for bridal couples planning their wedding desserts. I also made the birthday cakes for a big surprise party at the hotel. The birthday boy was someone I knew from my years playing percussion in the local community orchestra. He played the trumpet and sat right in front of me during rehearsals. I had no idea then that he was getting close to eighty years young. His wife threw him a party and asked for a cake that represented his musical side.

I was challenged to find a way to represent a trumpet in fondant on a cake. I'm waiting for someone to discover the secret code on the cake too.

What I didn't know is that the birthday boy had also been a pilot all his life, flying for the air force, commercial airlines and his own personal planes. This is how I represented that side of him:

I briefly attended the party to say hello to a few old friends. There was a band of friends playing for the guests and it looked like there would be lots more music making with this cache of percussion instruments-

I bet they made some noise to celebrate eighty years of musical life!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Growth

Spring is making its arrival here in the Great Northwest, despite the snow flurries on the day of the Vernal Equinox and for days afterward. The sun is shining once again and the long list of spring chores is keeping us busy.
Spring is noted for the new growth it brings and our family will be growing in leaps this season with our son, Neal's, wedding in April and Katie's new baby arriving in May. Those two events mean travel to the Midwest and the preparations are in full force. We are two weeks away from our trek to Missouri for the happy wedding celebration. Our whole family will be reuniting with far flung friends and relatives for feasting and merry-making. I've always heard about the lovely weather there on the Great Plains in April, warm (even hot) temperatures and a season that is usually weeks ahead of ours. But the news the last few days has been about how winter won't release its hold there. At the wedding reception site there is currently a foot of snow on the ground. Prayers are ascending!

The wedding is going to be a large one, fueled by southern American traditions and expectations. Old-fashioned hospitality will be the order of the day. I will be making the wedding cake and groom's cake so immediately upon arrival (with my helpers) in Missouri I will be shopping and baking. I have pages and pages of lists to keep my mind from becoming mired in the bog of details. We will also be hosting the first celebratory meal of the weekend- the rehearsal dinner. It will be an Oregon themed event with a menu that includes mountain elk, Pacific salmon, Northwest wines and Oregon fruit pies, prepared by myself and my troop of capable helpers.

The formal dresses, suits, shoes and ties have been procurred.
The travel tickets, as well as car and lodging bookings have been finalized.
The recipes, kitchen supply lists and shopping lists have been written.

The excitement is building...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Survival Skillz

Butter Candles

You know, in case you're stuck in the wilderness with nothing but butter and toilet paper.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Wedding Garments

Department store packages arrived in the mail this week that caused great excitement. No, not Christmas come early. The boys received their very first suits.

"This is awesome!!"  "I love suits!"  "I look so good!"  "I want to get a James Bond haircut!"  "I look better than you!" "No! I do!"  "Hey, look! It has an inside gun pocket!" "I love suits!"

Dress shirts, ties and dress shoes yet to come. Maybe also a pocket square and Samuel insists he needs a tie clip.

Who would have thought dressing up these two dirt monkeys would be so fun?

Monday, March 11, 2013

On Stage

Recently our family thespian, Peter, participated in a one week theater class that culminated with a performance of a children's version of The Secret Garden.
Peter won the role of Dickon, the country boy who communes with the animals. How fitting! No doubt he charmed the directors when he auditioned with his best rendition of a British accent.

This children's project was available through the community education program. Auditions were held on a Monday with sixty kids auditioning all at once for two directors from the Missoula Children's Theater. As soon as the auditions were over the first rehearsal took place followed by a rehearsal every day after school for one week. On Saturday morning the kids got their brightly colored costumes (which were ingeniously constructed for easy use by many children) and had one final dress rehearsal followed by two performances. It was a looooong day for those children (and no doubt the two teachers/directors) but the results of all their efforts were wonderful.

The majority of the children were youngsters under ten years old. Peter was one of just a few older kids that were given the main speaking parts of the play.

The younger kids were divided into groups that performed together, with a song, sometimes a few dance steps and at least one spoken line for each. These were the bugs of the garden, snacking on picnic food.

My favorite of the groups was the gaggle of geese, all girls, who moved in formation around the stage. Whenever any one of the geese spoke a line all the geese ended it with "honk,honk,honk,honk!" The costumes were adorable.

The kids with yellow bums are fire flies! There were also sheep (who liked to follow), a crow and a robin, as well as squirrels and foxes. The littlest actors were the Secret Garden in their capes of brown leaves that transformed to bright flowers at the happy ending of the play.

It was delightfully amazing how much these children learned in such a short time. They had their places, their movements, their lines, their songs, all memorized and performed perfectly. You would never have guessed they had rehearsed for five days and not for five weeks. Peter had a grand time.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Wild Cake

I accepted an order a few weeks ago for a fondant birthday cake. I don't turn down such requests, though fondant is not my specialty. Fondant is a sugar dough that is rolled out like pie dough and can be sculpted like clay. Since I am pretty good at both rolling pie dough and working with clay I have translated those skills to fondant though I have never received any instructions in how to decorate cakes with it. Thank goodness for the internet and youtube instructional videos to fill the gaps of my knowledge!

Just as with anything else, every time I work with the fondant I get a little bit better at using it and I almost always learn something new about it.

With this cake I also learned a little bit about zebras- that each zebra has a unique stripe pattern, no two designs are alike. That means I almost couldn't go wrong with a wild cake like this one-

Despite my initial trepidation I ended up having some fun with this one and I'm really pleased with the result. The client (who was from Las Vegas, by the way, and found me on the internet) was also really happy with it!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

I Don't Always Love Boys

Sometimes I just tolerate their presence.

Some days I prefer girlie girls with tea cups and napkins, scones and Devonshire cream.