A set-in-mud compilation of thoughts, links, ideas, pics, rants, and brain-dumps from Team Goffinet in Indianapolis, IN.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
This Sunday Darrell, Ursa and I went on the AIDS walk in downtown Indy. I was part of a team from IUPUI a young lady I used to work with set up. There was a good turnout and it raised a lot of money. There were SO many dogs there. There was at least one dog for every three people. Ursa was a good girl. The 5K walk was through downtown through the canal and the Indiana State Museum. It was very nice. I regret never have gone before. I am definately going to go down there again.
Here a couple shots of the Bratz cake I made for one of the ladies in Darrell's MBA class. This was a lot of fun, but the skin was hard to get smooth. I have some ideas of how I can do it better next time. I traced it from a coloring book and transfered it. The mother started calling it the "Beyonce" cake. The hair had to be chocolate to get it the right color. I like the dress, it looks like fringes. I hate the lettering. I was very disappointed in myself. I added flowers as a distraction. Its like my bad handwriting, only in frosting. I'm working on it.
Here is a cute picture taken of Ursa when she was about two or three years old. She is now five. She is a German Shepard/Collie mix. People might think she has a bit of Chow in her, but a Shepard expert assured me she doesn't.
She is about 50 pounds, but about 10 of that is hair. Her grooming is anywhere from 40-70 dollars, usually around 50. She sheds in big clumps, but there isn't hair like everywhere. I can wash her, but she never can get dry right and the girls do such a good job brushing and on her nails. I couldn't do it on my own. I do wash her myself from time to time, but it is not pleasant for either of us.
Of course she is spayed. She is a mutt herself and there are too many dogs out there that need homes to create more need. Besides, she doesn't even like other dogs.
She is a powerful dog, but a choke collar helps a lot on walks. Hey, the Dog Whisperer recommends it. He is a god and has helped me understand her a lot better. I know she responds well to Darrell and my Dad, and many males for that matter. I think it is because she sees me "obey" Dad and Darrell and she does the same. Maybe it is because they treat her like a dog and not a child replacement like I do. I am about one lapdog away from being the "dog lady." Darrell says I'm one lapdog away from being single too.
One of our favorite activities is to walk in the park and then sit outside of Starbucks. She is pretty tuckered out after a long walk and is pretty satisfied to lie by my feet while I sip a latte. We stay outside and don't create a ruckus. It socializes her and it cheers people up to see such a pretty and well behaved dog. She is well behaved after two to three miles, anyway. I think everyone would be better mannered with a good walk.
Cute Wedding Picture (Just not ours)
Here is a picture of us taken at a wedding in September 2005. I think we look pretty good. Even better than at our own in 1998. Contacts, better skin care and a gym membership can help a lot. Okay...so we didn't take full advantage of the gym membership. Hey, we make thirty look good. Not that I am thirty mind you...um, nevermind.
Is Rachel Ray a threat to my marriage?
I want to start off by saying I love Rachel Ray, almost too much. I have three of her books, all Christmas 2005 gifts, and I like most of her recipes. They are pretty easy and a little gourmet. In fact, it is sometimes hard to find some of her ingredients even here on the “trendy northwest side” of Indianapolis. I thought this place was cool, but it’s still the Midwest. Who carries Mango Chutney, anyway? I love her fajitas, curried chicken salad, Tikki turkey burgers, bread stoup, love it. She doesn’t do desserts well. Most desserts, that are worth anything, take more time and more measuring and attention than you can throw together in 30 minutes on TV.
Rachel Ray is so damn cute. She is trim with still looking like she knows good food. She has a sexy voice without being overt and the sweetest, most disarming laugh when she messes up. Don’t let the cuteness fool you, she does know how to cook and the properties of food. She’s no Alton Brown, but we only need one of him.
Rachel can cook and have all these kinds of dishes going on at once, talk, be charming, cute, and still not miss a beat. Thirty minutes, my patootie. Most of her dishes take about 35-45 minutes. My skill set is that I have about mastered the Bible of cooking, the red and white checked Better Homes and Garden book. I now am brave enough for recipes that span more than one page...scary.
Darrell is not quite as mesmerized by 40 Dollars a Day as a Shakira video. Now he hates some of the other Food Network “hotties” like Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee or Jada DeLarentez from Everyday Italian. Sandra Lee is way too interested in “tablescapes” and what killed it for the Italian chickie is that she has a weird pinched face and the way she says “pancetta” is pretty annoying.
I’m glad that Rachel Ray has stuck to the kitchen and hasn’t done Playboy, Stuff, or something; although I’m sure she would have some offers. She’s really not that kind of girl. She also doesn’t have the Pin-up body. Thus, more threatening. It is unlikely you’d run into a Carmen Electra type woman, but you could run into a Rachel Ray type at Trader Joe’s. Yeah, you better watch out Rachel. I wouldn’t blame him, but I’d hate her for it. Although I’d probably still make her fajitas.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Here is the most recent cake I made. It had to be eggless because one the the children had allergies. I had to admit, it was a bit dry. Since then I found a great recipe from my mother-in-law for eggless chocolate cake. The child was not allergic to chocolate, just didn't like it. This might be a niche for me, so I am going to keep experimenting. I have to find some diabetic cakes soon.
This was the most fun cake I've made so far. I picked up on a few tricks that have helped a lot. The eyes are pretty cool, they're fondant with a little corn syrup to make them shiney. You can't see it too much in this photo, but I made the frosting look like fur. I was pretty bummed that week and it was great to have Elmo smiling back at me.
Pictures from Cole's party
Labor Day 2006
Darrell and I went down to Tell City for Labor Day weekend and my nephew’s third birthday. Now let me tell you, other people say that they have the cutest niece and nephew, but in my case, it’s true. Look at those cute little faces! Darling.
Cole is SO smart. He is “now three” in his own words. He uses a lot of time words like “now,” “soon” and so on. He knows his shapes, colors, and learning to “read” words and letters very quickly. He just turned three. Rylie is only about fifteen months, but she will come into her own, I’m sure. She was an early walker and she definitely knows how to get attention and she can “own the room.” Her mother calls her a “diva.” She must get that from her Aunt Mary ;)
It was a pretty small party, only immediate family and two close friends of Angela’s that have a daughter the same age as Rylie. Sue and I both made cakes and it was a good thing, because they were gone! I made a Spiderman cake. It took awhile, like three hours. It was very difficult to get the black outlining right and had to redo a few sections a few times. I thing the pan was troublesome. The shape was somewhat undefined and I had to do it mostly “freehand” just looking at the picture. That was really pushing my skill level. Everyone thought it was really cute. I thought it was okay and wouldn’t feel totally secure selling it as is. Spiderman might get retired. Besides, black is so ugly on a cake.
The major issue of the weekend was putting my kennel for my dog. She has never been a kennel before. The reason she had to go to a kennel is because she ran away from the dog sitter last time. DRAMA! I took her to Upton’s training center. I really liked the guy. He raises German Shepherds and runs training classes. I thought it would be perfect for Ursa. And he was open on Labor Day. When I dropped her off Saturday morning, I think I cried more that she did. He said that dogs don’t eat and “grieve” when you leave them. They believe they are being abandoned. I felt terrible. According to the guy, she didn’t eat much, but she also didn’t cry or bark a whole lot either. When other dogs when by, she just laid down and wasn’t all that bothered when he said “I’ve seen some real nut jobs.” We were unclear whether he was referring to the dogs or the owners. Here I was all nervous about her not getting along with other dogs, and she was fine. She also responded well to training and he said she is very “smart.” Well, we knew that. We are definitely taking her back. I can’t quite afford the training classes, but definitely for boarding and training.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
This was the first character cake I ever made. I felt it was a bit sloppy, but not bad for a first timer.. I have made it two more times since then, and I think I have it about down. The colors are very intense, so they take a lot of dye. This cake also has over ten different colors. The eyes are very hard to make. I think I will use fondant to make them next time, with maybe a "food marker" for the pupils. All in basic buttercream. Yellow cake. Never tasted it, always gave it away/sold it.
I had the privilege of attending my friends’ son’s baptism. It was very nice. It was a small church, with friends and family making up about a third of the congregation. My friends Waber, Julie, and Brian were the godparents. For some reason, the Episcopal church requires three godparents. I guess they want to make triple sure the child is raised with love. Sounds good to me. The grandmother flew in from Texas. All very nice. I didn’t get any pictures of the actual baptism part, but he was in a lovely christening gown, that he wore for about thirty minutes.
I made a cake for the baptism that I was very pleased with. It looked like baby blocks done up with his intials, a teddy bear, and fondant balloons with the baby’s birth weight and length.
Many friends were there, and we had a great time. We went to Burger King afterwards, because it had a playroom. We used to go to resturaunts for the variety of beers on tap. My, how things change.
Brooke's wedding photos.
Brooke Perry's Wedding.
Last weekend was a whirlwind of activity. We drove up to South Bend to my RCIA sponsor's wedding. The wedding was elegant, but not overdone. We got there late, right about the time of the vows. Hey, it was a longer drive than what Mapquest makes it out to be.
We were also late for the reception. We were just guests, so it didn't end up mattering that much. We arrived in time for dinner, toasts and the cutting of the cake. We didn't hardly know anyone, so we didn't stay long - but we had fun. Driving both days was fun because we started reading Wicked together. I might write more about that later.
Brooke (my RCIA sponsor) is a graphic artist. She is very talented. Her wedding colors were antique white and orange. Orange?! Yeah, I was a little scared too, but it ended up beautiful. A lot of orchids and citrus fruits were used for the table sprays. It was done very well. It really "popped" instead of looking like a construction site. It was very summery. Her dress was beautiful, but you really can't make that girl look bad.
See next blog entry for pictures.
Why and how Mary got into cake baking
I love making cakes. I do not consider myself a “crafty” type person - at least I do not label myself as such. However, I do enjoy photography and therefore scrapbooking, and I have dabbled in needlework. But I have found my passion. That passion is cakes.
My Aunt Glenda who lives in Nashville, Tennessee makes cakes as a very lucrative side venture. She is so good at it she could have her own show on The Food Network. She is as good if not better than the Ace of Cakes. With her joking, Southern accent, and lust for life, she would make for better television. When I visited her, I watched in wonder as she and my grandmother made elaborate, award winning gingerbread houses. They weren’t houses, they were architecture. They won trips to Vegas, California... all kinds of places. She then got into wedding cakes and custom groom cakes. Groom’s cakes are so awesome. It is largely a Southern tradition involving a secondary, informal, and usually chocolate, cake. It adds a bit of whimsy to what is often a too sophisticated, stuffy affair.
Glenda would use fondant, gum paste, and icing to create all kinds of edible works of art. She once made a groom’s cake that really looked like a stack of law books. I really wish she had a blog or website. But, alas, she has more or less hung up her parchment bag and retired to become a “woman of leisure” - which means she is busy all the time having fun.
I myself just started making cakes (literally) this summer. I won’t get into it right now, but I had a very rough spring. Basically, I was recovering from a bout of poor health and not working. I just started making cakes for friend’s birthdays and their kid’s birthday cakes. I am still in that stage. I am not at the skill level or capable of the emotional fortitude to deal with wedding cakes yet. I am taking some Wilton cake decorating classes. I started with Level Two. That was dumb. I always felt behind. I am going to start Level One with my dear friend Julie soon in September.
This week will make the third time I will have made Lightning McQueen. I am very slow at it. It takes me a really long time to do this intricate but technically easy cake. It is just “starting” and outlining, but Lightning McQueen does have 11 different icing colors - and making deep red and black colors in icing is harder than might realize. I think more subtle colors like pastels are prettier, classier, and much less likely to stain your clothes, teeth, and face but not nearly as much fun. Some snobby people in my Wilton class think they are too good to do “kid cakes.” Whatever. I think they are fun.They make the kids and parents happy - and it is a good way to “cut your teeth” while working on the fundamentals.
This week I had the pleasure and honor to make a baptism cake for our friends Crystal and David. Their son Jonathan is just too precious. I came up with the design myself. I based it on baby blocks. It is a simple design, but I was quite pleased with the final product. But man, did I have a lot of problems with it; problems I do not intend to have next time.
First of all, I should have listened to my aunt. A boxed cake mix says it makes two 9" round cakes, but it doesn't really. It does make two 8" round cakes. Square cakes seem to take even more batter. The first batch of two came out flat and crispy on the edges. I was mad. Since the first batch ended up more or less burned, I had to throw it out. When I figured out that I had to make four cakes instead of two and I was already in the hole for one, I did cry, but only a little. One can get emotional about cake. Some people may think, “Dude, it's just cake,” but they are really easy to mess up - and if you mess up, it’s hard to cover up your mistake - and who wants to eat a mistake?
The low volume of the square cakes I overcame by layering them, so I also had to make a boatload more frosting. I ended up having to make three batches instead of just one. My Italian butter cream frosting, which I hope will soon become my signature item, had some volume issues as well. In addition to making a silly mistake of using salted instead of unsalted butter, I have discovered that “room temperature” in a summer kitchen, even an air-conditioned one, gets a little too warm. Here’s a few science facts/tips courtesy of Alton Brown. Butter has a high water content so when it melts it changes its properties. You can’t always replace butter with shortening. Never use margarine for baking: it has completely different properties. Also, name brand shortening only. Quality matters. If you want a cheap cake with cheap ingredients, go to the supermarket - you're guaranteed to get substandard bulk materials, no matter how much they charge you. Hold yourself to a higher standard, and expect higher quality from a professional bakery - at a higher cost, of course. You really do get what you pay for.
In the end, I didn’t finish the four baptism cakes until 3 AM. I started baking around 3 PM. I got nervous, but never angry or resentful. I just know what to do differently next time. That is so refreshing. In my former profession, teaching, whenever I had a setback I emotionalized it, blamed myself, and felt defeated. In baking, I have been paid for a few cakes so far, but when I mess up or something goes wrong, I know I just might have to go to the store to get more supplies, stay up a little later and get it right. I have had to throw away more than one cake - By the way, confusing baking soda for baking powder makes for a really nasty cake.
So I have found my passion and it is sugar. The funny thing is, after all that work, I didn’t even have a piece of the final product. I had to have a bite of my husband’s piece just for quality control, but other than that, I was burnt out on sugar. Yeah, I’m a chubby girl who obviously loves food, but I am also a woman who cares about my work, my art (it will eventually be art, given time) and I love making people happy. Its cake! Cake makes everyone smile, especially when the cake is smiling back at you...
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Shane and Tell City Whirlwind
I just shipped Shane (E) back to the airport for a day full of (hopefully uneventful) travel. We did a whirlwind weekend tour of Tell City, essentially staging a drive-by reunion with friends from high school, and jamming in a very brief visit with our families. I got to see my niece and nephew, who are getting taller and more mischievous by the minute. We also did a quick revolution of the Schweizer Fest, the annual fair-celebration in Tell City.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Movies and Horror in Blogs, Oh My!
We're not sure how long we can keep this posting volume up, but we've already created two new blogs - one called Scream & Wink that pulls together those Horror Movie Character Survival Tips that I posted on UseNet over a decade ago - and one called Cinemaybe, that allows Mary and I to get all critical on the movies that we've watched recently. We're still not sure whether we have anything so important to say that we need to instantly expose it to the world, but that doesn't seem to be stopping anyone else - why not?! Soap boxes are a dime a dozen nowadays.
Now, if we can just figure out how to create a place to store our own images for posting on blogs, so we can get all graphical on your a$$e$. :)
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Blog begets blog begets...
We're just now catching onto the blogging craze...many months behind the times, as usual.
One of the plans in the works include a blog dedicated to Indy Goffinet movie reviews, picks & pans, etc. Our main goal is to be consistently better in judging movies than the obscure, oft elitist crap that gets spouted on the pages of a certain mass-market entertainment magazine (EW).
Of course all movie critiques are subjective, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but sometimes I wonder if we have even watched the same movie. Anybody can see a real stinker a mile off, except perhaps the movie producers themselves, but there are some movies (Lady in the Water) that get critically savaged (along with super-snarky admonishments to the director - especially if he dares poke fun at critics themselves). In the mean time, some really obscure puzzlers (and I don't mean puzzlers in a good way, either, more like WTF?) get disproportionate praise... is it only to imply that the critic's taste is superior to ours? Or are they safe subjects, because we have no choice but to take their word for it? Non-metros often have limited or no cinema access to these comically obscure movies that are lavished with praisey-prose.
I keep having to remind myself that I expect too much. This is, after all, a publication owned by a media conglomerate that makes many of the movies that are reviewed, so objectivity probably takes a back seat to cross-promotion. "Popular" rarely guarantees, and often even scoffs at "quality", but more and more magazine critics seem to forget the demographics of their subscription base.
Well, I think that demonstrates we Indy Goffinets have enough material to justify a blog on movies and critiques, and critiques of critiques...
Another pending blog will be devoted to Mary's very cool sci-fi story-in-progress, SleepShifters. More on that soon.
As a parting thought, are you a freak magnet?
Thursday, July 27, 2006
I'm very fortunate to be enrolled in (and over 1/2-way through) an evening MBA program. It is already helping to advance my career, and I foresee it giving me more options overall, no matter what path I end up taking. I'm even more fortunate that my employer is paying my tuition and fees. To anyone who is reading, do not waste such an opportunity if it is available to you. Yes, it is difficult, and there are many hours spent above and beyond the regular job on reading, writing papers, and doing homework and group project work -- but it's never too late to learn new things, especially if you have help with the expenses. What floors me is that I have classmates that are managing the same work/school double life as I, but with kids too! Hats off to them.
The bottom line is I'm doing this as an investment in myself, while I still have the time and the energy to pull it off. Email me if you need more encouragement than that. That's all for now... got to get my statistics homework done : ( ........... ; )
Wednesday, July 26, 2006