Saturday, July 30, 2011

An Experiment in Baking: The Making of Rutty's Birthday Cake

Ellery (AKA Rutty of House of Ten fame) turned 35 a couple of days ago,  July 28th to be exact.  In celebration of his birthday, we are going to Langley for a birthday barbecue.  My contribution to this most special event is a birthday cake... from scratch! But this is no ordinary birthday cake, this one was inspired by the Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookie!  The magic began at 7:00 AM this morning.

I started with a chocolate chip cookie dough, the recipe from the back of the Chipits bag.

Then a layer of Oreos which were covered with another layer of chocolate chip cookie dough.

Into the oven until it looked like this...

The next part of this magical cake was the Super Chocolate Cake layers.  Recipe from one of the Best of Bridge books I had kicking around.  I went with this recipe because it claimed to be super.  Let's hope it is.

I poured the batter into two pans to make two thin cake layers and baked it.

Next I made Peanut Butter Buttercream frosting for the layers and the crumb coat.  As I am not a baker, my kitchen lacks the appropriate tools such as a proper spatula and rotating cake stand.  I used a short little spatula for spreading cream cheese on bagels to apply the crumb coat.  In lieu of a cake stand I flipped a cereal bowl upside down and placed a cardboard circle covered with tin foil on top and put my cake layers on that.  Very professional.

My rough crumb coat of peanut butter buttercream.  
Emphasis on rough.

This is the chocolate buttercream for the final finish.

Ta-da!  The finished cake!  I hope it's yummy.... 
I hope.


Rutty's cake aflame with 35 candles.

The birthday boy blowing out the candles.  
Good thing he's not asthmatic.

The cake cut up revealing the layers of goodness.  
It was super sweet.  The slices had to be really thin.

Robson Square Artisan Market

Last Saturday I participated in my second Craft Sale ever and my first one on my own, the Robson Square Artisan Market.  It's a new market that just started in June this year.  So far it's had a few things going against its success: the riot in June, construction on Robson Street above, the crappy weather, and a ton of competing events.  We did get a good flow of people wandering down the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery curiously following the sounds of the live entertainment on our market day though.  We got a lot of smiles, and positive comments but few sales.  

My brain was pre-occupied with the all the stuff that's happened in the last few weeks and it kind of ruined the anticipation of the market for me.  I honestly wasn't as excited about the market until that morning when Nugget and I were setting up.  The night before was a crazy panic trying to get everything together and finish the doll I started a couple of days before.  I finished it about an hour before we had to leave for the market.  
I was exhausted and not in the mindset I would have liked to be in.  I probably could have done more to promote it, like write a blog post BEFORE the market and not after.  DUH.  

I have a couple of Sundays sharing a table with the lovely and talented Karen Francis and L.A.M Designs (Aimee Illescas and Virginia Turco Greyson) at Artful Sundays on Commercial Drive in August, so I will pimp the hell out of those.  Here are some photos of our set up...

Nugget peeking behind the hat stand (borrowed from Durka.  Thanks Durka!) holding a couple of zombie hats and a viking hat.  That's the doll I finished that morning.

Nugget posing at our table.  We had the brightest, most random set up.  
I referred to it as a "Zombie Viking Sushi Carnival of Random Curiosities".

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

This month is kicking my ass.

This updating my blog once a month thing is getting ridiculous.  There have been many events that have transpired that at one point or another, I thought "I should write about that!"... and then didn't.  One of those events was the Stanley Cup Riot the day after my birthday.  The topic has been blogged to death now and I think it's best that I limit my mention of it to just this and move on from the ugliness.  I want to stay positive and I've been trying really hard to stay positive because it's so easy to spiral into that dark place.  Lately though, it feels like the Universe has been trying to shove me in that direction with stupid little things, that in the grand scheme of things, are really just annoying (like our parking garage getting broken into last night and eight cars, including ours, getting targeted) and then there's the big heart-wrenching things...    

Recent days have been a little rough with Hurley needing surgery to correct his luxating patellas on both hind legs. The diagnosis was upsetting and I was angry at our old vet for giving us bad information when we noticed signs of his issues as a puppy.  Figuring out how to pay for his surgery was stressful and we'll be paying for it for a while, but I would've spared no expense to make our baby boy better.  It's been almost two weeks since his procedure and Hurley seems to be doing well.  The stitches on his legs look horrifying but they don't seem to bother him.  He's a trooper.  He's gotten more active since he finished his run of Percocet which pretty much kept him sedated and the challenge as of late has been trying to limit his activity so that he doesn't strain his legs.  I've been lucky enough to be able to bring him to work with me while he recovers which has been the plus in all of this.  I like having him as an office buddy even though he whines a lot and barks at my boss.

This afternoon the Universe threw the worst curve ball yet.  My brother called me at work to let me know my dad had a stroke and that he was admitted into Emergency.  My heart sank.  I haven't spoken to my dad in over a year and our relationship hasn't been the best.  When I had Nugget, I was determined for her to have a relationship with her grandfather despite the state of my relationship with my dad.  I tried to get past my issues with my dad because it was important to me that Nugget had access to her grandparents.  It was in the last year or so that I gave up making an effort and I greeted him on his birthday and Fathers Day on his Facebook wall instead of phoning him.  I am an asshole.  It took him having a stroke for me to visit him and see how he's doing.  I'm a mess of guilt, remorse, anger, sadness... I can't even describe it.  When we saw him he seemed okay despite everything.  His cholesterol is high and his sugar levels are high, he apparently has diabetes and didn't know it.  His blood pressure is concerningly high, so high they are waking him up and checking his blood pressure every hour.  It's almost 3AM.  They finally found him a bed and moved him out of Emergency.  My two younger brothers are at the hospital with him now and I'm getting sporadic updates on my phone.  I can't sleep and I can't stop crying.  I'm sorry, Dad.