Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Good Taste

While DH and I have spent the last few months gasping in horror at the houses in our price range in So CA, my grandpa's house has been on the market.   While we have had countless moments of "what were they thinking?" and "that monstrosity gets ripped out IMMEDIATELY," I can't help but wonder what people were thinking when they walked through a house that I love and held so many good memories.   I am being 100% serious when I say that I would kill for this wallpaper in a guest bathroom at a future home.   I would probably skip putting it on the ceiling but that paper was adhered with some chemical that has never shown a bubble, any wear or fading.  
Behold the pool where I ate countless lunches and snacks in and was thrown off the diving board in some swim training torture.  I would also kill for that pool that used to have a slide.  Imagine my surprise when trying out other pools that didn't keep the temperature at 88 degrees. 

So, while I imagine the new owners have BIG plans for this house, I can only remember all of the happy memories with my grandparents.  I remember when they bought their first microwave, the first non-rotary phones and the trash compacter.  I remember the card games at night with my grandpa's friends and the mahjong games over lunch with my grandma's friends. 
The room where you weren't allowed to eat or drink anything will always be my favorite.
It is truly the end of an era.

Monday, February 27, 2012

DealBREAKER

Our little family had a big weekend with culture, homemade food, parties and cake.   Friday night I made this monstrosity which sucked.  It looks so good but tasted so meh.  DH was a trooper and ate it anyways, LO looked at me like I was crazy and refused.  She did announce to us loudly at dinner that "she had a KNIFE, hahahahahha, mommy has a KNIFE, daddy has a KNIFE, we all have KNIVES!!"

I went ahead and started my cake experiment on Friday night producing two somewhat similar cakes.
I let them cool completely and then wrapped them in plastic and refrigerated them overnight.  Saturday morning, was cake decorating time. I had a little help as OMG, rolling out fondant is hard work.  That is my new rolling pin which I really dig.  It can also be used as kindle in extreme situations or a weapon.

I made a major whiff with the fondant but managed to lay it over the cake and even tried some shapes.  You are going to really need to use your imagination on this one.  A white cake with a big red star on top that Olivia sits on, red stars on the sides and red formed balls around the base.  I didn't have the star cutters or the food dye so it was a white on white cake with flowers.  This pic is before I refrigerated the cake which improved the look a bit. 
Lessons that I learned
  • Fondant is a crazy bitche that stretches
  • A three layer cake would look WAY more impressive and I'm contemplating it.  Although the cake is extremely dense.
  • This cake recipe is not a light cake--does that bother me?
  • DO NOT sketch the parchment paper with a pen--I don't want to talk about that part
  • The gold bottom that you see was a dollar well spent
  • I need to buy cornstarch to roll out the fondant as my jimmy rigging with substitute materials didn't work
  • Consider fresh fruit in the middle
  • The shapes absolutely need to be the same width
  • Try harder to get the bubbles out of the batter
  • The crumb frosting needs to be smoother
After all that cake fun, we were off to see LO's very first play, "Little Red Riding Hood."  She decided to try her hand at makeup application.  I think she has a real future if eyeshadow in ears ever becomes popular.
She did some light reading while waiting for us to get ready and we were off.
She LOVED the play and didn't move the entire first half and only got a little squirmy toward the end of the second half.  I could not believe how much she liked it and even yelled out a big "YEAH," at the right moment in the production.  We went to dinner after the play and she kept insisting that she wanted WINE.  Yeah, I really felt like mother of the year when the waiter brought her a wineglass with water in it.

On Sunday we went to a party with all of her friends in the morning where they listened to stories and got to decorate cookies.  There was an awesome Curious George cake there that was wait for it--$75! Yes, a dollar less than I have already invested in LO's cake and big enough to feed everyone.  The goodie bag contained a Curious George book which LO loved.  It really inspired me to skip the junk and go with a book as the favor.  I am thinking of buying multiple Olivia books and putting them out so the kids can choose in case they already have some of the books.

Lastly, we went to visit the brick ribbon driveway house.  We drove to the "far" neighborhood which was not that far, the street was a bit narrow but cute and the driveway not that offensive.  Could it be?? LO and I walked in and she spotted a swing in the backyard and the realtor said we could try it out. I went to put her in as I see DH's furrowed brow popping in windows and kicking floorboards.  I am dying to look in the house but I push LO in the swing and wait my turn.  The realtor joins me outside as I am essentially trapped when DH comes out as well.  This is the part in the story where DH and I differ on what happened.  He notices the back lot has a dramatic edge that I haven't seen as I haven't seen ANYTHING yet and forcefully says, "DEALBREAKER," to the realtor and walks away.  Leaving me with LO in the swing and the realtor who now is looking at me like get your kid out of the swing.  The entire way home, I just kept yelling dealbreaker until LO was yelling dealbreaker to DH as well.  DH is hilarious and we love him but I fear we may never find a non DEALBREAKER house.  In all fairness, the edge was a dealbreaker but maybe something we could have discussed in the car together.

Lastly, I made dinner again leaving LO feeling quite exasperated with all of the cooking and non-paying attention to her.  She decided to extend an olive branch a leg to the Mama cat to discuss a possible reconciliation but sadly no agreement could be reached.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tools

So at lunch, ya know 45 minutes after I did my last post on the tools that I was hoping to "borrow," I ran to Surfas which is like the most awesome restaurant supply store in the WORLD (that may be a slight over-exaggeration as I have only been to one).

Items that I purchased
Two cake pans 9x2   $7 each
Cake board to put cake on  $1
A very large flat cutting board to roll out the fondant $6
A 20" rolling pin without handles $10
Cake flour $6
Offset spatula $5
Fondant $9
Total=$45

Project total to date=$76

After buying my cake pans and the correct amount of fondant, I realized that a two layer 9" cake will not be enough cake to feed everyone.   I was also told that working with larger cakes can be more difficult sooooooo I am going to make two cakes.  I am debating letting LO decorate the second cake.   I would frost it without fondant and then let her get crazy with the colors and decor.  OR challenge DH to a cake off.  This post may actually serve as the cake off challenge.  Scared?

In other non-sugar news, DH and I are going to see a house this weekend and I am excited as I think that the house has some possibilities.  It definitely needs a little work but it isn't along the almost condemned line of housing that we usually peruse in our price range.  DH said "it was nice" and we are both concerned about the location a bit but I am moderately hopeful.   The house could definitely use a kitchen remodel, with me being a big time baker and all but appears usable.  Need I remind anyone about this crazy pants place!
Before I tell you what DH feels is the largest upgrade that needs to be done immediately, I have to say that DH is awesome.  He constantly amazes me with some of his "isms."  I love you but you are so crazy.   Behold the must on the remodel list.  As in MUST BE TAKEN CARE OF IMMEDIATELY.  
He hates brick ribbon in a driveway.  I had no idea and there are no words.  I am picturing him wearing a black Gucci driving loafer with no socks tiptoeing around the ribbon in utter disgust. He doesn't own a Gucci driving loafer but that is how I imagine it.



Cake Decorating Part 1

No job can start without the right tools and research.  As this will be a multi-layer cake with fondant and gum paste,  I have been researching what I need to buy or borrow.  This is the post where you leave in the comments that you have the tools I need to borrow for a month and you will be at the same b-day party tomorrow am.  I am going to be practicing every weekend with a different part of the cake.   I have decided to use this recipe from Bakerealla for the actual yellow cake.  Are you mourning the loss of chocolate cake at LO's party?  I have decided to make these cupcakes with chocolate cake and white frosting and color coordinated sprinkles.
I will be using tips from this site on how to make the layers level and not crumbly.  I am also considering making the actual cake the week before and freezing to avoid less heartache.  I have also considered that two layers may not be enough and I may need MORE!  I briefly considered this 14 layer cake and had visions of a rainbow but I have decided that LO has A LOT more birthdays so I should try to be realistic.  This is also the part where I make a confession.  I bought a fondant cake topper.  Sigh, I really think that I need it and there is NO WAY that I could make one this awesome.  She is being shipped to me at the end of the month and I have to put her together a bit (does that count??) she is completely edible and made entirely of fondant.
To keep things interesting, I am going to tell you EVERY dollar that I spend on this cake to shock and horrify you and DH and embarrass myself.  I am kind like that.   The cake topper was $25 with a $6 shipping fee. 

Next up, I need some cake pans, a rotating cake plate for frosting and decorating and a cool offset spatula that looks like this.
How will I create the magic without looking like a pro?  I may have to wear a poufy dress with a frilly apron and drink hard liquor over ice when I bake too.  I will try not to get my cigarette ash in the cake.  Isn't that how they do it on Mad Men??

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Awkward & Stubborn

One of LO's friends came over last night to play while her mom worked but LO wasn't home.  Yeah, it's crazy but LO is pretty busy and popular.  She was a bit perplexed to be playing without LO and kept asking if she was coming back soon.  Meanwhile, I was worried that she would start crying as her mom was gone.  I kept offering her wine beverages and made it a whole 12 minutes before asking if she wanted to watch TV.  I knew that she was allowed to watch TV and she wanted to watch Yo Gabba Gabba.  Thankfully, I found an episode on OnDemand and I sat down to watch it with her.  Are you kidding me?? What is that show? WHO INVENTED THAT SHOW? Are the writers wasted when they put together the episodes? Anyway, the moral of the story is that I have absolutely no idea what to do with children that are not my own.  I am socially awkward and confused around children.  What is wrong with me??

Meanwhile, LO's birthday planning is in full swing. I decided after a five minute trip to Michael's that I am going to make LO's cake!  For no other reason than I want to and I think that I can and I like to take on stressful projects.  This is what I would like:
This is similar to what I am going to shoot for:
This is my worst case scenario:
I am going to say RIGHT NOW that it will be cheaper to buy a cake by the time I am finished.  I am also going to say RIGHT NOW that it will be easier, less stressful and avoid one, possibly two fights in my house.  I don't care as I think I have a future in cake decorating based on my five minutes in the cake aisle. 

I also bought this for LO's party:
My brilliant idea is to set this up for the party and then sell it on Craig's List.  I bought it for $80 and then I will sell it for $60.  A $20 rental for the party!  You can have it for $50 if you come to the party and take it with you that day!! What a steal, I'm talking to you Jen with a party the very next weekend.

We have a water table which I plan to fill with plastic balls so they can use the basket or just throw them.   I plan to bring over the blue rocking dog as well.  In addition there will be a balloon artiste making animals for the kids.  I think we are good on entertainment and no one will run away saying they were terribly bored.  There will also be plenty of color coordinated red and turquoise treats!  I think that I look forward to her party more than anyone.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

For My Mouth

LO and I had a great time on our mini-vaca where both of us indulged in reckless eating of s'mores and other delicious treats.  While running down the street in Carmel, she spied a bakery and screamed that she needed a cookie for her mouth.  I hear ya, lady.  I always need a cookie for my mouth.  Her vocabulary has really started coming together and it is hard to imagine a time when she wasn't talking.  She still says stuff that I do not understand and I just nod in agreement but most of the time I get the general idea. Her topics usually revolve around balloons, books, pictures of herself, fries, hummus, buses, our car, pacis, friends and strollers.

I would be really horrified at my February 2012 self in April 2010 as I feel like I have forgotten everything about babies except for what LO is doing right this second.   I tried to help the other mommy on the trip with her 9 month old and I was completely useless.  A shout out to all the first time mommies in the first year out there.  I loved a lot of things about the first year as adorableness overflows but it is still pretty tough.   LO and I were pretty sad to come home as we were spending every second together but we are back in our routine and being away from So CA really makes me appreciate it.  I get so frustrated with the cost of living here and all of the crazies but there are so many awesome reasons to love this place as well. 

I didn't take many pics on the trip as the last thing I want to carry is our big fancy camera when I have a million absolutely necessary items to bring.  A little matchy, matchy and a swing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Traumatized in Playa Vista

Playa Vista is a super duper compact newish housing community built on a marsh/wetland on the way to the airport.  Everything is brand new and sparkling and very suburban.  LO, DH and I hit up their tot lot on the way home from the airport last night to kill time before the sushi restaurant opened as a special treat for LO.  I had heard that it was a great playground and LO loved running around as there was no sand in sight.  They had a community security guard hanging around and lots of families with kids.  There are a lot of parks in our area with a lot of homeless people hanging around.   This park had no homeless people or any creepy peeps hanging about.

LO was hitting the outside of a Bubble Panel at the playground while a boy was looking through the bubble.  A bubble panel is a big plastic half circle on playgrounds.  This angered the boy and he started screaming at her through the bubble.  This made DH and I laugh as she thought it was hilarious.  So she ran around to the other side and started playing with another part of the structure which angered him but he wasn't touching her and we were standing right there.  I thought his parent might come over and tell him to calm down or to put the helmet back on his head but he calmed down and was talking to her underneath the structure.  So DH and I resumed talking and then IT HAPPENED. 

DH: "Is that kid showing LO his wanky and pretending to pee on her?"

Me: "You are crazy, he is HOLY SHITE!! LO get away from that crazy boy."

Then I proceeded to look for the future pedophiles' parents who were NOWHERE to be found.  I know that a seven year old doesn't come to the park unaccompanied.  OMG, is that normal? Is this one of those moments where I really appreciate having a daughter?  Were his parents hiding as they knew that he was a repeat flasher/pantomime peeing beast? WHAT IS THAT??

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Round-up

Hellllllooooooo out there!! I haven't been blogging as of late as I feel very uninteresting.  Kind of blah.  DH came back from London (with chocolate!!) and we celebrated Valentine's Day on Saturday evening by going to Cirque du Soleil.  We sat in front of Jay Leno and in back of a guy with a weak chin and two escorts.  I don't know if that says anything about our position in this world.  I thought the two escorts were probably stolen from their homeland and sold into a prostitution ring and should be saved.  DH didn't think that was the case and asked that I not inquire about their safety.

The parade of second birthdays started this weekend with a bubble party.  It was a fantastic idea and LO had so much fun.  It is hard to believe that she is turning two.  I remember all of these kids at 6 weeks and now they are such little people with different personalities.
We also visited Grandpa Irv this weekend and went to Costco where LO loaded up on sticker books and board books.  They also picked out some clothes together.  Their combined tastes are a bit eccentric.  Grandpa Irv also gave his opinion on the pig party, not in favor with a side eye.  Maybe he thought I was going to serve it?!

Lastly, my company moved across the street to their former offices that they had been in for 20 years.  They recreated the office so it looked exactly how they decorated it 20 years ago.  It is so awesome and corporate that it makes me crack up.  I have a brand new desk that looks old school and has a pull out board for possibly chopping veggies.

LO and I leave for vacation on Thursday--woohoo!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nobody Said Anything

When I pregnant with LO, I stalked those baby boards for women having a baby in the same month for tips on what should be happening, upcoming tests and general misery loves company talk.  I never posted as I was just a quiet voyeur into a lot of drama.  One post that has stayed with me is a second time mommy who wrote a post for all of the first time mommies.  The post basically said that people should be extra kind to first time moms as they have NO idea what to expect.  HELLO, totally true.  At the time, I thought she was referring to the actual process of birth and then keeping a newborn alive longer than a household plant.  That may have been all she was trying to say but there are so many things that no one really tells you about. 

The worst part is that it just keeps getting harder.  I have been sleep training LO AGAIN the past three nights and NO ONE says that you have to do it multiple times.  I thought you lived through it at four/five months and then you are done.  No sir, sleep is the gift that keeps on giving with development and age and time change and sickness.  Sleep training is especially awesome once they learn to talk, "MOMMY NOOOOOOOOOOOOO, I'M SAD." I would be down with a family bed at this point but everyone ends up cranky and tired. My favorite is "I funny, Daddy funny, Gigi (the nanny) funny, Mommy not funny."

Although I hate hearing her scream, I know that she feels better when she sleeps and she loves her crib.  I feel better when I sleep and more rational but damn it kills my soul a bit.  Sleep training is nothing compared with what is on the horizon.  Mean kids! Mean GIRLS! Heartbreak! Broken bones! Weird adults! School! Peer Pressure!! I am thinking of building a bubble as I didn't know that I had to experience all of the trauma of childhood AGAIN but WORSE.  Why didn't anyone tell me??

PS I am really digging the haircut that I gave her.  I think I may have a future in baby haircuts.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bullets

The weekend in bullets:
  • There was a cake with candles for my b-day on Friday nite.   AND my aunt offered her house for LO's pig parteee!  Hurrayyyy!
  • LO and I headed to Manhattan Beach on Saturday to meet up with an old time friend and shopped. 
  • LO and I attended a Super Bowl party where she had herself some cupcakes and cookies with crazy abandon.
  • I cut LO's hair by myself when it was wet in the bathtub.  I just couldn't help myself.  I kind of closed my eyes and just did it. I think it looks great but there is a small section that is shorter than the other parts.  I could have gone down the hopeless road of making it even but we all know that never works.
  • I gave LO peanut butter at the park when an orthodontist friend was sitting with us.  Somehow I was sure that she would know what to do.  I had a peanut butter fear when I was pregnant and I have feared giving it to her.  Should I still be scared if she had no reaction?
  • LO was accepted into a preschool that would start in November and I want to try and work out a way that I could pick her up if she went to the extended day program ending mid-afternoon.  Any ideas?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Loco

This is all I've got:
LO has been somewhat of a quiet observer around most people and I was told that she would talk in full sentences when she started talking.  Presumably to make me feel better as we seem to barely squeak by at her check-ups with the whole talking thing. I always assumed these sentences would be long and articulate but she is definitely talking a lot more and in sentences.  One of my fav "sentences" has to be, "I fix it."  I don't know where she came up with "I fix it," but she usually has a toy or stroller upside down examining the wheels.  She has been repeating everything that we say and started saying "geeezus" and "Maria is loco." It was all fun and games until she told Maria that she is "loco" when she was at our house yesterday.  Fortunately, Maria agreed with her and called herself "loco." I don't even know what to say. 

She really likes blueberries and jam sandwiches. It's loco.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2nd Birthday Part 1 of 4,500

I am eating chocolate cake as I write this post.  If anyone ever questions the meaning of my blog, there is none.  I just really like chocolate cake. Not German chocolate, not chocolate with raspberries, not fudge chocolate, just chocolate preferably with no layers in between. 

While we are on the subject of cake, I have planned LO's birthday in my mind.  I am thinking a Sweet Shoppe theme mixed with Olivia the Pig theme.  If you follow me on Pinterest and I am mixed on whether you should or shouldn't, you have been seeing some b-day ideas popping up.  I am using some ideas from this first birthday party.
I know the Sweet Shoppe idea has been beat to death but I plan to do it BETTER.  Olivia's colors are red and white with black but I am going to nix the black and go red, pink and white candy and red boas.  I'm not a boa lover but it is pretty crucial for Olivia.  I am getting a few ideas here.

What I am trying to decide is where to have the PARTY??! I almost wish that we had bought the crack house as it had a huge backyard.  Also, if we should bring a small pig to said party? Potbelly pig, cute or confusing to the kids?  Lastly, LO picked out the below dress which doesn't coordinate at all but she ran up to the dress and yelled "pretty for me, PRETTY." DH tried to persuade her to look at other dresses but she wouldn't budge.

When you ask her how old she will be? She screams, "Twoooooo." I have asked her a billion times.