Thursday, August 28, 2014

what's your favorite fair food?

i just KNOW that you've been holding your breath, wondering and wondering and wondering...

what sort of cookies did i submit for judging at this year's l.a. county fair's culinary competition??

so i actually debated back and forth quite a bit on this topic (with myself, because i like to win shit) in the weeks leading to the deadline.  i went back and looked at all of the designs i've worked on over the last couple of years, i put it out there online for suggestions, asked the girls what they thought.  and then finally it was time to get down to business.

looking at the shapes of the cutouts before they were baked is comical and probably doesn't give you that big of a hint, does it?


like, i totally giggle at this one.  because i'm 12.


but i pulled my mind out of the gutter and busted out the decorating bags, and here's what they turned into:


okay, i still think the corn dog one is hilarious.  because, again, i'm 12.  and yes, i sure did jump the gun and award myself the blue ribbon.  because while i may not actually win one this year, i'll always be number one in my own head.

anyway, i was short by one cookie, and while i could have simply chosen one to submit twice (because i always make extra cookies to ensure that i have enough for whatever i'm working on), i thought it might be fun to throw in one more design.  and so i present to you...the official LACF cookie set for the 2014 culinary competition:


the fair opens tomorrow.  who's gonna go and scope it out for me?  because i'm dying to know but have no time this weekend to check it out...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

get your jazz hands up

with the beginning of the school year comes the start of the bean's jam-packed extracurricular schedule.  she thrives on activity and staying busy, and i'm only too happy to oblige.  her week looks like this:

monday - cheer practice
tuesday - art class
wednesday - jazz dance and soccer practice
thursday - gymnastics
friday - hula
saturday - soccer game (starting next month)

i know it looks crazy busy, but to be honest, each of those activities only lasts for about an hour.  and she loves all of them, so there.

you might notice that the dance class this year is different.  i was all set on dropping dance altogether this year, but watching her in the recital completely turned me around and when it was over i gave her the choice of which genre to enroll in.  she's now outgrown the combo class, so she gets to choose a class that focuses on one type of dance for the entire hour now.  given the choice between ballet and tap, instead of opting for the latter as i'd hoped, she said "i really want to try jazz, mommy."

i confess that i did all i could to sway her towards the tap class.  it fit into the schedule perfectly, not to mention that she is actually really good at it.  in fact, the academy invited her to join the competition tap team this year, which had me silently beaming with pride.  alas, she decided she wasn't ready for the commitment and we declined the invitation.  and then i reminded myself that i needed to let her pick what she wanted to do, and this year, it was jazz.  and so i rearranged the entire schedule and completed her enrollment.

this also meant some snazzy new shoes:


she was so excited to get to her first class.  and it was fun for her to get ready for a dance class sans leotard and tights:


when we got there, instead of using the hour to run errands as i had become accustomed to doing, i stayed and watched her in class via the monitor in the waiting room.


i peeked through the window in the door a few times, too.  i was so amused watching the warm-up - my kid doesn't love calisthenics at all.  there were push-ups:


tricep dips:


and tons of stretching.


but i could hear the teacher through the door, who was super encouraging and full of energy.  i knew the bean would love her despite the hated warm-up exercises, though.  when the class was over and we were on our way home, i asked her what her favorite part of class had been, and the predictable answer was "i loved it ALL, mommy!  i really like jazz!"

most excellent.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

first things first, she's the realest

it's crazy that we've now had three first days of school with the bean.  i mean, didn't i just give birth to her?

okay, so maybe it's been almost seven years.  but still...as cliché as it sounds, time really does fly by when you're having fun.  if you blink, you damn near miss it, and then before you know it:


after a long summer of lax bedtimes and easy schedules, waking up for the big day was the toughest part.



but the excitement of the first day and seeing all of her friends got to her, and in no time my little first grader was up and ready to go get 'em.


it was really cute when she walked up and we heard little voices squeal "BEAN!!  bean's here!" and then we were ambushed by a group of excited first graders, all hugging and pointing out new backpacks and shoes and things.  one dad remarked "i just want you to know, your daughter's a total celebrity.  they all saw her from across the playground and - well, you saw what happened."  heh.


then it was time.  the bell rang, they all scrambled to get in line, parents snapped a bazillion pictures, a few had to peel their kids away from themselves.  not mine, of course.  she was ready.  having had her teacher for summer school had also helped her be ready for this.


while she got her learning on, the teen and i ran errands, stopping at party city to pick up a little first day surprise for her sister.


they were very well received.


and one more before the uniform came off:


my baby.  she's growing up too darn fast.

Monday, August 25, 2014

keep calm and dance on

i'm always on the lookout for cute cookie designs that i hope to do someday.  i save them to a pinterest board, so i can find them easily later on.  one of those was sweet sugarbelle's bowing ballerina cookies, which i was pretty excited to finally tackle last week.

i somehow managed to even have the same cookie cutter she used in my stash, which was awesome.  after the usual routine - mixing dough, rolling, cutting, baking, and finally flooding, i had a couple dozen of these all ready to decorate.


in her version, she also bakes a mini cookie to form the head and ballerina bun and then attaches it to the top with a little royal icing glue.  because i'm lazy and am always looking for a short cut, i let the bases dry and then tried my hand at simply freehanding the design on with frosting.  first, the face.


then, the hair:


doesn't look like much, huh?  but then we add that classic ballerina bun:


her outstretched arms:


and little eyes, shut tight.


then we add a little accent around the bun (because i didn't really have room to make a little flower) and lines for the tutu, and we have this:


it wasn't until after i had all two dozen of these little beauties all wrapped up and packed, ready to ship, when i remembered something:  the little birthday ballerina that these were for has a milk allergy.  this meant that i'd needed to use vegan butter in the cookie dough and an alternate to cow's milk in the frosting.  CRAP.

after exchanging a couple of frantic e-mails, i realized that i had just enough time to bake a dairy-free dozen and still get them to their destination with a day to spare.  when i told the hub what i was working on and said that i was going to use different colored ribbons on the special cookies, he suggested that i change the frosting colors instead.  that way there'd be no chance of getting them mixed up and no risk of causing an allergic reaction.  and so a dozen of these went out along with the others:


phew.  and now i have 3 sticks of vegan butter kicking it in the fridge, just waiting to be used.

plus, today i get to bake up half a dozen cookies to submit for judging in this year's culinary competition at the los angeles county fair.  i've managed to place in the top 3 for the last couple of years and i'm hoping to continue the winning streak.  they get dropped off at the fairgrounds tomorrow, and then a short wait until friday when the fair officially opens to see if i placed again.

wish me luck.

Friday, August 22, 2014

her name was lola

shockingly, hanging out with my mom always involves food.  

a couple of weeks ago, she treated me and the girls to delicious afternoon tea.  i mean, if you invite us to join you at a super cute little cottage to enjoy fragrant pots of steaming hot tea, freshly baked scones with housemade lemon curd and cream, and tiers of adorable savory sandwiches, we're pretty much always gonna say yes.  because YUM.


i managed to get this:


and this.


then, to celebrate my mom's birthday, we hopped into the car and drove down to the beach to scoop her up and take her out to lunch.  with MIL in town (visiting an incredibly improved g-wan, i might add), we stole her away and took her with us.  after a failed attempt to try peruvian food for the first time, we instead ended up somewhere vastly different:


(we paid the $2.50, in case you were wondering)

after perusing the giant novel of a menu, plus two special ones, i ended up going with the miso salmon.  and i'm telling you...it's a chain restaurant and all, but hot damn was that a delicious plate of happiness.  the butter sauce that surrounded the fish and rice was just perfection, along with the miso glaze that was poured on top.  i'm salivating just thinking about it.


and what's a visit to the factory without giant slabs of dessert?  these are horrible pictures because the lighting was all wrong, but who cares because CHEESECAKE.  i went with the "adam's peanut butter cup fantasmic orgasmic delight" or something like that:


the teen opted for the toasted marshmallow s'mores.


MIL and the bean shared the blackout cake (or was it linda's fudge cake?  i can't remember because CHOCOLATE).


the birthday girl chose what ended up being my favorite out of them all - the reese's peanut butter cup.  our very friendly and helpful server brought over a candle and we all embarrassed the hell out of her as we sang the birthday song with gusto.  because DUH.


we even managed a pretty nice group photo!


this, on the way back to mom's house, is probably always going to be funny to me.


although i admit it, i'm a little sad we've finally reached this point in our relationship.  poop.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

so you admit, you think you're really pretty

when my friend trish hit me up to do some cookies for her sweet baby girl's baptism, i knew it was the perfect time to bust out the airbrush again for another try.

also, here's baby a as she helps the bean fix her hair.  so stinking cute.  i can't stop laughing at their facial expressions.


so anyway, this is what five dozen-ish cookies looks like.  i figured out that it takes about four hours to get to this point:


i'd ordered some stencils from the cookie countess, who'd just launched her new website and had offered a great grand opening deal.  i selected some basic ones that i knew i'd use regularly, and here's the first one:


a little bit of pink airbrushing food color, and voila:


then i switched it up and tested out the chevron stencil.  i know most people are probably so over it, but it's still one of my favorite patterns.



trying to figure out how i wanted to do the handwritten decorative As was the hardest part of this process.


but i figured it out.



here's the final result, and they ended up looking really pretty (if i do say so myself).


that airbrush is going to be my best friend, i just know it.
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