Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Of Mice And Me

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have learned about my foray into the world of gum paste. If you're not harbouring a (not so) secret ambition to be a pastry chef/Mom/musician/photographer/whatever I want to be these days, you might not be familiar with gum paste.

My first batch was....less than successful. I'm still not sure why. But, I followed age-old advice and tried, tried again. And came up with a workable batch of gum paste. GP is similar to fondant, but can be rolled thinner, and dries harder for decorations.

And, it tastes awful. (So they tell me. I'm too afraid to try it.) Unlike the new recipe for fondant I found, which actually tastes pretty good. (Tip: store-bought fondant has a tendency to taste like plastic.)

So, I coloured my gum paste, 'cuz I'm cool like that, and then last night, while The Rev enjoyed his Monday Night Football, I made these little guys:

These furry gummy woodland creatures are going to adorn my biggest cake decorating feat yet.
But for that, you'll have to wait and see.
(As will I. I mean, who know how that will turn out????)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall Family

This is where we spent our morning.

Finanegans probably know right where this is.

I can't believe how beautiful it is this time of year.

I can't believe how much this kid loves the park. Any ol' park.

There was lots of running. And jumping. And throwing stones and leaves.

About as perfect a day as it gets. Unless, of course, you take into consideration the mild tantrum the above cherub had when the Cracker Barrel didn't bring His Wiggleness' pancakes the blessed minute we arrived.
So, I'll leave that out of consideration, and choose instead to remember this:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Very Own Wreck

Some of you have been saying very kind things about my domestic, er...abilities. (I was thinking 'delusions', but...)

Well, to prove I'm far from Martha, here's my finished mini pumpkin cake.

Not too bad from far away, is it?

Oh, but then:

Still not awful, I know. But then you turn it around:

And it gets a little sadder.
Well, here are some things I learned. Homemade rolled fondant tastes WAY better than that store bought stuff. But, it's harder to work with. Perhaps I'll try adding even more powdered sugar.
Also, I have no business carving cakes. At least, not yet. So, when I try this cake again (and I will, oh I will--bigger and better, my friends) you can bet I'll use two fluted bundt pans stacked to make a pumpkin shape.
Finally, royal icing tastes every bit as horrible as I remember from my foray into food prep in high school. Yuk.
Now, if only Cake Wrecks showcased amateur wrecks as well as the pros.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Today's Special

Well, you were going to be treated to an adorable picture of Wiggle Man helping The Rev install new door knobs. (We have decided to banish all brass from our new house, and the door knobs were our first victims. Be worried, mid-nineties vanity fixture...be worried. You're next.)

The pictures came out all blurry, and not nearly as adorable as in real life. (They work fast...I had no time to adjust settings. That's my story. Seriously.) This kid is crazy--after two days of helping Daddy switch out knobs (we have a lot of doors in our house, ok?) Wiggle Man now knows where all the parts go, and puts them in for The Rev to drill.

Really and truly.

Ok, ok, I give. Here's a shot. Not my best work, remember:

Still, it gives you a general idea of the cuteness and male bonding going on in our home. Wiggle Man loves to fix things just like The Rev. Last night Wiggles used his toy hammer to...hammer (???) his Handy Manny chair. (You get what you give, Manny.)

And, since I know you're all dying to know what else I've been up to...well, I've been getting my Martha Stewart on. (That sounded better in my head. Huh.)

Moving on...

This is the pumpkin spice cake I made. Tomorrow, I shall sculpt it. Oh yes, I'm going to make a stack of mini cakes, and sculpt them into a pumpkin. Then I shall frost it, and cover it with rolled fondant that I shall make myself.

This is what watching Food Network will do to you. It makes you believe that you, too can have the skills of a trained pastry chef merely by watching television.

Shopping for these lovely ingredients gave me a new idea to feature on my blog: playlists. Who is in charge of this in grocery stores? Do any of you know? What qualifications do you need?

Today's special is: I Don't Know How To Love Him from Jesus Christ, Superstar; the instrumental muzak version (think elevator music) of Part Time Lover; and Close Every Door from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. And that's just what I could remember...who know what else slipped into my subconscious while I was examining produce. I don't normally get to belt out showtunes while grabbing my yogurt. It was...different.

So, I came home and did something a little more normal. I made chicken stock. It looks gross, but smells amazing. When I'm done here, I'm off to strain it. Tomorrow it shall be the base for my chicken pot pie. You know, real chicken pot pie. Like we do up north. Where it's actually a pie.

And now, having done my part to ensure the chicken pot pie debate will continue, I will take my leave.
PS--I eat the other kind, too...I just call it chicken and dumplin's. (I don't think there should be a 'g' on dumplin's...it just sounds yummier that way. Feel free to debate that, as well.)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Where's My Guidance Counselor?

I'm having a bit of a dilemma.

I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. You see, now that The Rev is all ordained and stuff, it's my turn. For years, I'd been planning on going back to school to get my Masters degree. You know, once we were settled somewhere.

Well, we're settled.

Now that I have the freedom to explore some options for myself (you know, in between being a Mommy to Wiggle Man, wife to The Rev, and member of my church family, who for lack of a better idea, shall henceforth be known as the Finanegans...get it? Shenanigans? Finanegans? Heh heh...)

Anyway, I'm stuck. You see, there are too many things I want to be when I grow up. I really do want to go back to school and get my Masters. I also want to write lots and lots of songs, and have someone come up to me and beg to record them, thus allowing me to be...financially productive with my songwriting. I want to have a studio full of fabulously talented students.

And I want to be a pastry chef.

I'm not even kidding. I'd love to decorate cakes all day long.

And, on top of all this, I want to have all the time in the world to play with Wiggle Man, bake bread, keep a comfortably clean house, and go the YMCA several times a week. (To counteract all the pastry cheffing I'd be doing.)

So, for lack of one of those fill-in-the-bubble tests that tell you what you're suited for in life, I have made my own decision.

I have decided not to decide.

I'm just going to do a little of everything, and see what works, and what doesn't. God has a funny way of cluing me into what He does, or doesn't want me pursuing. So, until I get a clearer picture from Him, I'm going to have fun being a Jack (Jill???) of all Trades. Hopefully a master of some.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Heavens To Betsy....

I've won an award!

Thank you to My Heart for honouring me with this award.

This is probably the point where I should clear my throat and thank the Academy, or something. Well, I'd like to thank my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Purcell, for teaching me my ABCs. I'd like to thank Wiggle Man and the Rev, for giving me endless material for posts. I'd like to thank the fly buzzing around my head for reminding me not to take myself too seriously.

Although, before I dispense completely with the seriousness, I should post the responsibilities that come with such an honour:

  • Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
  • Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
  • Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

And now, it gives me great pleasure to pass this award on to the following fab five bloggers:

Sara, from Domestically Challenged

Helene, from I'm Living Proof That God Has A Sense of Humor

Sky, from Seeryus Mama

Julie, from The Vinkle Life

Tiffany, from Paging Doctor Mommy

So there you have it, folks. 5 great blogs to check out.

Now I have two hungry males to feed, and a baseball game to pay attention to, so I shall bid you adieu.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mother Hubbard

Sometimes, an empty cupboard can be a good thing.

I've spent the last month getting to know my kitchen, and trying to remember where I put everything. I mean, it was hard enough deciding where to put everything, but I had no idea it would be this hard trying to remember where I actually put it.

So you can imagine my surprise when, while rummaging around for who knows what, I discovered a totally empty cupboard. Two whole shelves, just waiting to organize my duplicate zesters and garlic presses.

I'll admit I felt a bit of a rush as I pondered the possibilities. Would I rearrange my baking pans? Maybe shuffle around my miscellaneous tools, like my apple peeler/corer/slicer. Perhaps Wiggle Man's dishes could have a shelf of their very own.

In the end, though, I did nothing. I left the cupboard empty. I wanted to have a little extra breathing room, in case I found I needed it down the road.

And I got to thinking--why don't I do that in the rest of my life? Why can't I leave myself a little extra "just in case" space? Why do I cram my day so full of things to do that I have no time to spare?

So, I'm leaving myself a bare cupboard. I'm going to leave a little spare time for spontaneity, for a cup of tea, even for when dinner takes longer to prepare than I expected.

One day I'll probably need to fill that empty cupboard. But for now, I kind of like having it around.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I {Heart} Fall

I really, really do. Heart Fall, that is. How can you not love a season that lets you do this?

I mean, if it's Fall, that means it's time to go apple picking in a place like this:

Even if you have to walk up a mountain, it'd be worth it, for a day like this. (Ok, maybe we drove up. But still.)

Ah, sweet gratification.

And, of course, with fall comes October baseball. If The Rev makes it home in time, you can be sure we will be spending the afternoon cheering on the Phillies, and possibly, just possibly, munching on apple cider donuts from yesterday's adventure.

Monday, October 5, 2009


When we first starting dating, The Rev used to tease me about being "artsy-fartsy." Actually, I think his term was "hoitey-toitey", but it amounted to the same thing, in his mind. (They're two very different things, but that's an argument for another post.)

Incidentally, he learned how very not hoitey-toitey I am when he took me to a very expensive restaurant in a museum, and I couldn't find anything on the menu I even wanted to try and eat. I ended up eating a muffin from a vendor's cart.

However, I do love the arts. (Even if I once convinced my fine arts professor that hockey was a cultural event for me, since I'm Canadian.)

In high school, I was blessed to be able to go to Paris. I fell in love with the city--the crepes with Nutella, the architecture, the Seine, the pastries, and of course, the musees. The Musee D'Orsay in particular was one of my favourites. I found a painting there that I could not take my eyes off of. Over the years, I'd forgotten the name of it, but finally today I unearthed it thanks to the magic of Google.

It may not strike you at first, but imagine coming around a corner and seeing this...bigger, of course. The light is what captured me and my (non-religious, as it happened) friend who was with me.

As much as I love words, I can't come up with any that convey what this picture does. Check out www.jeanleongerome.org for yourself--you can see a bigger version of the painting, as well as some of his other works.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Kitchen Lessons

When we were unpacking from our move, the kitchen was all mine. There was no question that The Rev would even poke his handsome head in while his Missus was organizing. It was a foregone conclusion that this area was my domain, and the best he could help was by keeping Wiggle Man occupied as far from my kitchen as was reasonable.

If you know me, you know that this is as much my choice as it is The Rev's. He's actually one of those enlightened gentlemen that will cook and clean. (His Mama taught him well, what can I say?) However, I enjoy the kitchen, and had been looking forward to arranging it to my tastes.

Well, The Rev did poke his handsome head in every once and a while--just to see how things were going, of course. He was surprised to see I had doubles of various kitchen gadgets, and got a laugh out of my multiples. I'll admit, they might seem a little strange--two garlic presses, two sets of measuring spoons, two zesters...it looks like I went a little nuts in a kitchen store. And maybe I did.

But I'm learning that the things I have two of are the gadgets that I use a lot. I mean, a lot. So often, that while one zester will be in the dishwasher waiting for it's spa day, I will find I have something else that requires zesting. So it's handy to have more than one floating around.

There are other gadgets that are missing in my kitchen, because frankly, I never use them. I don't think I've used a melon baller ever. You may use your all the time, but never use a zester, which I find I need two of.

Do you see where I'm going with this? (Probably, because you're all very smart.)

The things I have and use are oftentimes very different from your tools. Why? Simple--we're different people. But (for the most part, anyway) I have the tools I need, and you have yours.

God's good like that, isn't He? He gave me music, because He knew how much I would need it. He gave me writing, so I could pour my thoughts out here, instead of yammering on at people all the time. He gave me the Rev and Wiggle Man, because He knew how much they would help me be the woman He wants me to be.

Maybe He gave you numbers. Auntie LaLa is great with numbers in a way that boggles my mind. Maybe, like a new friend of mine, you are fabulous at making newcomers feel welcome. Maybe you make a killer mac and cheese.

Today is as good a day as any to take a look in your kitchen, and see what gadgets you have laying around. You might as well make something yummy using them.

Personally, I'm in the mood for pie.