Friday, March 27, 2009

some bullets so you don't feel neglected

  • 29 days until the movers come. I think I'll really start to panic when we get down to numbers that Brandon understands; I'm pretty sure that the highest he can count is 17.
  • Since they opened up the new housing, it will be possible for us to walk to the self-help warehouse and try to get some touch-up paint. It's time to actually fill in those holes in the wall and so I'll be needing a lot more than just the dixie cup of paint that I've been told they give out. Cross your fingers for me that, at the very least, they'll tell me what brand and color I need to buy.
  • Also since they opened up the new housing, it's possible to walk to the airport. Not that I would, I just find that kind of interesting.
  • Also, new playgrounds. We'll try to hit some of them on our way to the self-help today.
  • The convenience store across the street from the self-help has donuts and "iced cappuccinos" from a machine that taste exactly like a Dunkin Donuts Coolatta, except not slushy. I'll try to resist. I actually don't think it will be that hard today; I started off my day with 10 minutes of yoga, which is generally pretty helpful as far as making good nutritional choices throughout the day. It try to do yoga with Jack climbing on me and pulling my hair - every time I pushed up into upward-facing dog, his face was about an inch from mine, with a big goofy smile - but ya gotta figure that something is better than nothing, right? I certainly feel more awake than usual.
  • Did I mention that it's 29 DAYS??? F@$%!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

that's an entire Olympiad, or election cycle

Today, I would like to bring your attention to one of the tickers on the left side of your screen. The one that says, "I have been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for 4 years." Continuously. I don't really have much else to say to elaborate on that, except that I love being a Mommy, but I don't think I'll be all that sad when I'm done with the all-consuming-Mommy-mode phase of my life. It's been going on for plenty long enough.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

humuhumunukunukuapua'a, in fondant


If you said that I was going a little overboard with the coral reef cake, you wouldn't be wrong.

(And yes, I did need to make these three weeks in advance! I don't know how long it's going to take them to dry, if they ever do.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

I told off the mother, too

Today, I asked a boy who looked to be about 8 or 9 years old if it made him feel like a big man to bully a 3-year-old. He looked me square in the eye and said, without a trace of irony, "yes".

Thursday, March 19, 2009

uplifted by cult comedy

Every day, when I change the number on the whiteboard next to the computer (which now reads "37 DAYS until we move out of the house"), I think of this song. And then I think of Gob on Arrested Development doing his magic act. And then I laugh.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

maybe I'll bake a "F@#* OFF" cake for Apple

Apple, I love you. I really do. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more loyal Apple convert than I. But seriously? Getting just a wee bit tired of iPod and iTunes updates f*ing with my stuff. I plug in Brandon's iPod, you tell me that there's a new software version available for it, so I download, and now it's stuck in disk mode and I have to restore it? And lose all of the work we did putting stuff on it? It's not like we can just drag our entire library onto our 3-year-old's iPod. It took a long time to figure out which songs to put on it. So, uh, thanks, a**holes. If I wasn't getting an iPhone for free I probably wouldn't even bother.
ETA: And I'm also not forgetting the time 2 years ago when we had to replace both of our iPods because the iTunes 7 update killed them both. iTunes and iPod updates are mighty suspicious, yes sir, mighty suspicious.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

a message to dog owners

Just because dogs are allowed at a particular beach does not mean that it's okay to allow your dog to repeatedly charge straight at the same baby. And when the baby's mother says something, maybe it would be polite to apologize, rather than tell her that she should go somewhere else.

Getting kind of tired of the American sense of entitlement and looking forward to living in a different country. They may grope you on the train but at least they're polite.

tiramisu and dark chocolate fondant from scratch, bitches!

Brian came to me late last week with a request for two cakes for a Hail & Farewell at work today. A Hail & Farewell is a little party for the people who are transferring in (Hail) and out (Farewell). Cassie is transferring to Italy, and Little Jim is going to Japan. (So we'll be seeing him again soon enough.) Brian's idea was for two cakes that played off of each other to make the joke work, with Jim's cake as the punchline.

This is a tiramisu-inspired layer cake. I used this recipe, although since it is for a 3-tier wedding cake, I had to cut the recipe by 1/3. Which, let me tell you, was not easy at all. Some of the fractions were just impossible to multiply by 1/3 and end up with a quantity that it was practical to measure. (Alton's right - why the heck wasn't this recipe written out by weight? Measuring by volume stinks!) Anyway, I used this recipe for the cake instead, since it has the same ingredients (except for having whole eggs instead of egg whites) in similar proportions. I also didn't want to use actual alcohol, since this is for a work event, so I used kahlua-flavored coffee syrup instead - which turned out to be sugar-free, ew. I hate Splenda. Oh well, when I make this for my birthday in September, I'll do it the real way. (Which of course means I'll also have to make the chocolate cake...for the kids, you know. Yeah, for the kids.) I also left out the sweet marsala in the frosting - even though I have some and have absolutely no use for it (since chicken marsala requires DRY marsala) - I used more cream and a couple of teaspoons of rum flavoring instead.

I was originally going to use a piping-gel transfer for the lettering; I found a beautiful font and traced it onto parchment paper and everything, but then I realized that the cream cheese frosting doesn't crust, so doing a transfer wasn't going to be possible. I had to do it freehand, which was pretty scary considering that I have horrible handwriting and I'm even worse at piping out letters. The "er" in "Arrivederci" is all squished together but otherwise I think I did okay. Not fantastic, but okay.

I did the roses in the Wilton ready-to-use decorator icing, because even though it's really stiff at first, once you get it warmed up a bit it's really the best thing for roses. I've never been able to get smooth edges on the petals with icing I make myself.

This is quite possibly the richest, most decadent chocolate cake ever made. The cake and buttercream (the Wilton class buttercream) were made with Hershey's special dark baking cocoa; the ganache filling was made with Nestle Chocolatier dark chocolate (53% cacao, I think), and the fondant was made with both. (I added 6oz of melted dark chocolate, which wasn't nearly dark enough, so I added cocoa along with the sugar until it was the color I wanted.) The fondant turned out too dry again; I forgot that it stiffens up considerably in the 24 hours you have to let it rest, so you have to stop adding sugar when it's still a lot softer than you want it to be. Maybe I'll get it right next time; but at least I'm getting closer. And, DAMN, it tastes good. Seriously.

The original concept was for this one to say, "F#@* OFF, JIM." - but we thought the better of it. I still think it would have been a lot funnier, though. We also considered making it banana bread instead of cake - "F you, Jim, it isn't even a real cake!", but the thing is, we actually like Jim. Also, I thought that for the joke to be really effective visually, it needed to be chocolate fondant, and I wasn't sure how that would taste on banana bread. So I just went for the chocolatey-est chocolate cake ever. The chocolate-stained cake board, by the way, is part of the joke.

I don't think that they're even close to professional standards, but I'm definitely improving. And I do think that they must taste fantastic. The thing that makes me go, "d'oh", however, is that when a Hail & Farewell is for people who don't have a spouse & kids themselves, spouses and kids generally don't come to the party. So these are the first cakes I've ever made that I'm not going to be eating! And if all went well, there won't be any leftovers. Because, you know, they're like the best cakes EVER. We'll see.

more bright side gazing

Things I'm looking forward to:
  • Getting a new microwave. Our microwave barely works; you have to cook everything for at least a minute longer than the instructions on the box say - sometimes more. Much, much more. You could add two minutes to the cooking time and still find that your food is frozen in the middle. We're bringing the microwave with us to the hotel and then probably donating it to Brian's work. Then we're getting a new one when we get to Japan. Thank goodness. We've been on the verge of replacing it several times but have always decided that it wasn't necessary because it still works, after all. Barely.
  • The glider in the nursery squeaks to wake the dead. I will never understand how Brandon sleeps through it, or how Jack falls asleep to it. I don't know how I'm going to get Jack to fall asleep when I'm no longer able to rock him, but I do know that once that chair has been left out for bulk trash pickup, our nights will be a heck of a lot quieter.
  • We got 6 years of use out of a $249 Ikea couch. The wooden frame is snapped in a couple of places and the cover is stained beyond repair. Brian has always hated that it's not deep or long enough to really stretch out on. It's Jack's favorite place to hang out (and nap) but the thing has GOT to go. And it will.
  • Free iPhone with a 2-year contract. 'Nuff said.

Monday, March 9, 2009

focus on the positive

The last time we transferred, we spent the time between moving out of the house and getting on the plane in the barracks - fun! (Except for the one night we stayed with Tara & Josh. That actually WAS fun. I think. I can't really remember; but since they are fun people I'm assuming that we had fun that night; we usually did. Like the time we all drove to Mississippi together and sang along to The Little Mermaid in the car.) Anyway. So last time we stayed in the barracks, and I had morning sickness. And I guess there was air conditioning, but there may as well have not been.

This is the pool at the hotel where we're staying this time.

Try not to feel too sorry for me.

at least there's no stretch marks or swollen ankles

Counting down to this move is a lot like the third trimester of pregnancy. The underlying feeling of panic that there's so much to do and not nearly enough time to get it all done, starts to give way to the desire to just get it over with. If it all doesn't get done, then it doesn't get done...but let's just get on with it, already. The only difference, really, is the lack of uncertainty as to when it's going to happen; but there's just as much uncertainty as to how my life is going to change once that day comes.

47 days until the movers come.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Wow wow, everyone! My joy is so complete that I can't think of a better way to express it than by quoting "Wow Wow Wubbzy!" Yeeeeeeeeee-baaaaaaaa!!!!!

Target's "Official Grand Opening" isn't until Sunday, but I saw on a local news station's website that it was actually opening to the public today. So we walked over to check it out and see if it was true. It was. And it was glorious.

I found hardly any of the things on my list of things to look for, but I did find a bunch of stuff that wasn't on my list - naturally. I mean, this is Target we're talking about, right? It just wasn't possible to really look carefully down every aisle, because it was opening day and it was INSANE in there. Plus I was pushing a double stroller and the Target shopping carts are crazy wide, so it wasn't possible to even WALK down every aisle. I skipped the electronics section, I skimmed over the ladies clothing, I skipped the shoe aisles (I need rainboots and shoes for a wedding this summer), and I left the grocery section completely unexplored. Gotta have something to look forward to next time, right? But they had big bouncy balls for 99 cents (only got one because we walked with the stroller - Brandon had to clutch it in his lap the whole way home, and it was WINDY, too!) and I had almost forgotten how cool the beach toy section was - good basic stuff for cheap - and I got Jackson a pair of soft-soled leather shoes because he is just NOT a Crocs baby like Brandon was - he's always taking his Crocs off and trying to eat them. He seems to really love his new froggy shoes, though! (I wanted to get the ones that looked like sneakers, but they didn't have them in his size. Boo.) I almost bought a set of jersey sheets for $19.99, until I remembered that we're not bringing our bed with us to Japan, owing to the fact that we have no idea what size of bed is going to fit in our new place. It's a shame, $19.99 for a Queen size sheet set is phenomenal.

It was just way too crazy in there to really walk around slowly and appreciate everything - I was barely able to see anything in the home or office sections, which were always my favorite, but we got a nice overview of the place, and Brandon concurred that "I love Target store!"

I considered getting lunch at the cafe, but the line was just too long. Brandon campaigned for some coffee from the Starbucks, but I decided against it. We walked a block to the convenience store that has one of only two Blimpies I've ever seen in Hawaii, where I proceeded to demonstrate that I lack the skills to hold a tray with one hand while I push a stroller a foot and a half with the other. I do, however, posess sufficient skills to prevent the lidless cup of root beer from spilling on my child's head or even on the sandwich next to it on the tray. The floor, though...yeah, that was pretty bad.

So now I'm home, with sore feet and crampy legs, and it was SO WORTH IT. I had briefly considered driving, but I'm so glad I just toughed it out and made the long journey on foot, because DAMN, the parking situation was insane. The lot was full and there were cops directing traffic, was just not worth it. Totally worth it to walk!!!!

What's that you say? You'd like to see pictures? Always happy to oblige.