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Monday, February 28, 2022

still learning new cookie-ing tricks

while we were in san jose, i'd gotten a text asking me to make some "friends"-themed cookies for a birthday.  the designs were simple enough, and i thought maybe it was a good time to finally debut the buttercream frosting in an order.  but i knew that there was no way i'd be able to freehand that easily recognizable font.  and so i decided that it was time to try out something else that would be new to me - using a projector to trace what i needed to put on the cookies.

of course, nothing i do ever seems to go smoothly.  as i was mixing the cookie dough using my trusty pink kitchenaid mixer, i somehow managed to get the pour shield in the way of the moving beater.  it stopped working immediately, and when i turned it off and on again, the beater wouldn't budge and the motor made a terrible noise.  the kitchenaid website offered practically no assistance aside from the option to mail the mixer in for repair, but like the broken embroidery machine a couple of months ago i didn't really have the luxury of time on my side.  sigh.

r.i.p., pinky.  you were so pretty and gave me ten years of service, and i loved you so much.  

after doing a quick search for inventory in local stores, i ended up going to target so that i could use my red card for the 5% discount and picked up pinky's new brother...minty.

he's pretty in his own way, but i really wish i could've found another pink one.  or even one of the matte black ones.  something that might have actually matched with the rest of the kitchen.  le sigh.  he's a little smaller than pinky, and slightly less powerful, but at least the bowl and other accessories i had still fit and now i have two sets of stuff to use.  that comes in handy, anyway.

as for pinky - well, i debated trying a little harder to figure out how to get her fixed.  and then i came to the conclusion that i really didn't have any room to put her anywhere, and getting her fixed and then trying to sell her would be a pain in the ass.  and so i did this:

unsurprisingly, she was out on the curb for roughly ten minutes before someone drove by and snatched her right up.  

anyway, i got back to work on those cookies and once they were mixed, rolled, baked and cooled i was ready to set up the projector and give her a go.  i was really happy to find that setting it up and getting the design sized just right took just a few minutes, and then i was breezing right through decorating those cookies.

see what i mean?  super simple and clean.  and buttercream frosting holds the designs beautifully, without any spreading or smearing - unlike the corn syrup glaze i've been using for years.  it's not as easy to spread for a smooth work surface, but i think it looks nice in an imperfect way.

and here's how the whole set looked.  i found a simple line drawing of the famous frame that hangs on monica's door, sized it and traced it onto the other cookies.  not bad, if i do say so myself.

the buttercream frosting hardens just enough so that the designs don't smear and can still be individually wrapped, just like i always do.  and i think it tastes really good, if not slightly less sweet than the glaze.  now i just have to convince everyone who places a cookie order that buttercream is the way to go.  it's so much easier and faster for me to mix it up, especially since i don't have to make two separate batches of each color like i used to before.  the consistency is perfect for both spreading and decorating, which i really like.

eek. wish me luck.  

Friday, February 25, 2022

checking another comp off the list

much like the week before, we were up bright and early the next day to get ready for competition.  not to mention, i typically don't sleep very well when the hub isn't with us (this applies at home too).  

the lucky charms were in place once again.

we found our friends downstairs in the lobby and walked over to the convention center together.

new swag for this comp - rally towels!  i said to the bean "hey, this thing is great, it'll do double duty, you know why?" and she rolled her eyes and said "yeah mom, you can wipe your sweat off on it."  she knows me so well.

then it was time for the bean and her team to head backstage for warmups, leaving me to go get my admission wristband and figure out where i needed to go to line up.

i will always adore watching the bean compete onstage.  i'm about 99.75% sure that this is truly her final season, so i'm just kind of soaking it all in as much as i can.  i'm also pretty sure that one day she'll look back at these days with fondness, despite the anxiety competing brings her right now.

the other teams competed almost immediately afterwards, and so we circled back into the auditorium a few more times to show them support and cheer them all on.

and then it was all over and we exited the auditorium for the last time.

unfortunately the bean and i had to take off before the awards ceremony, which was virtual anyway.  and since her team hadn't gone up against anyone and had already won their paid bid the coach took no issue with us leaving early.  we headed back to the hotel to grab our bags and catch an uber back to the airport, which ended up driving us right past the team as they gathered to listen to the results.

just about 24 hours after we'd arrived, we left again - but not before i stopped for a quick pick-me-up.  as usual, the bean fell asleep even before we took off.

and less than an hour later, we were home.

ah, competition season.  how i shall miss you.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

next stop, phoenix

the next weekend's competition took us to phoenix.

well, at least for me and the bean.  we'd actually hoped that her team would opt out of this one since they'd already earned their paid bid (which was the main reason for attending this competition), but because there were families who'd paid for hotels and plane tickets there was no backing out.  the hub stayed behind to represent our family at a memorial service, so it ended up being a mommy-and-me trip.

back to ontario airport, and on another southwest flight.

we were pretty pleased to find that we'd lucked out and were on what seemed like a brand new airplane - it was clean, bright and actually somewhat spacious.

and it was an even quicker flight than san jose.  before we knew it, we'd landed in phoenix.

we were at the hyatt this time around, and it was a quick 10-minute uber ride to get there.  check-in was easy, and the bean liked the view from the elevator on our way up to our room.

hyatt hotels are generally pretty nice, and this one was no exception.

we even had a nice view.

i'd promised the bean that she could pick whatever she wanted for dinner, and predictably she chose sushi.  the front desk had given us a list of recommended restaurants that were within walking distance, and that's how we ended up at harumi sushi.  

we shared a shrimp tempura appetizer:

and ordered a bunch of stuff with the restaurant's signature purple rice.  didn't taste any different, but it was fun to look at.  and the rolls were all delicious.  we were so stuffed by the time the last dish was served.

she talked me into walking the short distance to a nearby shopping center to check out the yard - an ice cream and milkshake joint that was also pretty highly recommended by the hotel.

this was the peanut butter brownie bliss:  a brownie batter ice cream shake served in a jar dipped in peanut butter and rolled in chocolate shavings with a whole ass brownie on top.  holy cow.

we didn't even get through half of it, but that's a good thing.  we washed out the jar at the sink, wrapped it up in a bag and took it back to the hotel as a souvenir.  it was a nice walk back, and then we put on pajamas and settled in for the night.

squeezing in all the sightseeing

this was our NYC home for a whole week: it was one of only a few hotels that i could find that offered two beds in a room rather than, say, ...