Friday, October 30, 2009

Harris: Well, that's how L.A. coped with that surprise low of 58 degrees that turned the weekend into a real weenie shrinker!

O.G.: "I'm so fat I can't wear pants."
Jenn
: "That is ridiculous."

O.G.
: "I'm serious, nothing fits around my waist."

Jenn
: "How is that possible when you are 95 pounds??"

O.G.
: "I weigh 107 now."

Jenn
: "Wow, you are a fat ass."

O.G.
: "I told you."

Jenn
: "UGH."


So I took Fat Bastard out to breakfast, where she ate hers and half of mine. I guess that's how she gained the weight. Then we headed to Target to look for...snow gear. While it's true, she is planning on heading to a colder climate, she did find a jacket for "right now." After all, it IS a chilly 67 degrees here. Or in Los Angeles terms, Uggs and mini skirt weather. I wouldn't be caught dead in that though, no way. I'm waiting for it to dip all the way down to 65 so that I can wear my seasonal t-shirt+scarf winter ensemble.

Then we headed to Mattel Corporate headquarters. I've written about their discount store before (Hello Kitty Barbie!), it's spectacular. The prices are unbelievable. Most everything is 60%-80% off, and if you are in the market for Barbies...man, this is the place for you.O.G. bought the Baby a Batman toy for his birthday, retail: $40, she paid $16. And I got out of there with some Hot Wheels for just 40 cents.

Next week they open their 'Holiday Tent', which has even more bargains at even lower prices. You'd be shocked at some of the great stuff they have here, many of which are on a lot of kid's holiday wishlists, I'm sure.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

He coulda won a Grammy.
Buried in his jammies.

Steve Martin - banjo master. It's not what comes to mind when you hear the name Steve Martin, but it's true. He's been playing the banjo for over 45 years and last night I saw him perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

My mother LOVES Steve Martin. I remember listening to his 1970s comedy album because we had it on vinyl. All of his movies, his humor - doesn't every family regularly quote Three Amigos? Ok, maybe just us, but that could just be because we are weird.

To me, Steve Martin is L.A.'s native son, and it's what I love about him. He is from here, his first job was at Disneyland, his jokes and movies are L.A. based - it's like a big inside joke and it's fun to laugh with him.

But his banjo skills are beyond impressive. I know, people think banjo and they think of a horrible twang, but this album - The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo - is just well, lovely. The songs are catchy and happy and smooth. You can't help but smile when you hear it.
The Walt Disney concert hall is a wonderful venue and not just because of the architecture, but the acoustics are crazy inside. It is so quiet you can hear people walking to their seats. The music fills the space as if the concert was just for you.

His banter in between songs showed off what he is known for, his comedy. It was endearing and and inviting part of the whole show and I think it really gave you insight into a very talented man who knows when to laugh at himself. Especially when he said, "My wife named this song. It's called: "When are you going to stop playing the goddamn banjo."

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Great Pumpkin

Every year I say I'm not gonna carve a pumpkin. Heck, I didn't even take the kids to pumpkin patch this year. But then, as always, a few days before Halloween...I can't help myself.

The Baby looooves Batman. And while I've done a Batman pumpkin in the past, it was more of a straight shot. This time I thought I'd challenge myself. What is wrong with me. Five minutes in and I was questioning my sanity. But I pushed through, cause I had a vision, see. Of a Batman in ACTION!I have a very specific process of how I do these, part of which involved punching the outline with a tip of a knife. I documented the process, here:

video

Why the Baby is yelling "AGUA AGUA AGUA" in the background is anyone's guess. The kid loves him some water? I dunno.

If you want to see the other pumpkins I've done in the past, or want to see the whole process of how to make your own, here are the links:

Pumpkin Carving how-to, here.
Ghosts of Pumpkins Past: ME, Peter Pan, Batman, Julius, Plex.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Christmas, Christmas time is near, time for toys and time for cheer

Since some of our relatives are bailing on us during the holidays, those of us that are left here and still give a damn decided to do whatever we wanted for Christmas. Which really is the best Christmas ever, if you ask me. We all said what our favorite foods are, and that's what we're going to have for Christmas dinner...

Jenn: fried chicken, taquitos, cupcakes.
The Kid
: Yogurt, cheese, fruit.

The Baby
: Meat, pork, beef.

Auntie LoLo
: Beef Jerky, bacon

O.G.
: Tacos.


Yikes. It's gonna be some potluck.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sounds corny

When I sit down and sketch ideas for baking it's usually well ahead of when I actually get down to making stuff. Hey, I'm a busy woman. I've been staring into this giant stash of candy corn since they hit the shelves in September and I thought, a-ha! Candy Corn Cupcakes, freakin' brilliant! Yeah well turns out my pal Clara from I heart Cuppycakes was even more brilliant since she made that very thing last year. Oh well, I'm in the company of genius. HA.
So here they are in all their glory, cute as ever. The kids couldn't resist 'helping' and putting candy corn on top before we shuttled them over to the neighbor's house. Note: I've lived next to my neighbors for 10 years and just went over there for the first time yesterday. Whatever. Don't judge me, this is L.A. we mind our bizna$$.

Now I'm trying to sketch up another brilliant idea in case I might want to join Cupcake Hero this month - theme: Peanut Butter! (I'd have to make that when the kids aren't around.) Or I could just pass totally and hole up inside my house wondering what my neighbors are up to for another ten years.

Candy Corn Cupcake how-to, here.

**I don't give an actual recipe for the cake, just a how-to. If decide to use a box mix for them then for god's sakes don't tell me about it.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Three Apples: Hello Kitty's 35th anniversary party

So last night was my typical Thursday. Press photos, all you can eat cupcakes, partied with Paris Hilton - the norm. Ok, in no way was it my typical night but that WAS what happened last night.

I got a special invite to the VIP opening night party for the Three Apples - Hello Kitty exhibit at the Royal T Cafe in Culver City. It's Hello Kitty's 35 anniversary and to celebrate they are doing it up big with an art exhibit and limited edition products.
The show is so well curated. There's a very thorough history of Hello Kitty products mostly from the 1970s, which I have to say - I had/have most of them. Yikes.
Then you move on and there are modern interpretations of Hello Kitty from various artists. The work is so well done. Simply amazing!

Since Royal T is a maid cafe, the maids were serving food with a little added touch, cute custom made Hello Kitty socks, backpacks and a giant bow in their hair. An homage to Hello Kitty herself. Even the guests were dressed up!
There were hors d'oeuvres, cupcakes, and even candy girls walking around handing out candies to everyone. And also cake, YUM. Strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. All I ate was sweets of course.

The amount of media coverage was crazy, to say it was star-studded would be an understatement. I saw Japanese rock stars, Dave Navarro, but when Paris Hilton and Kimora Lee Simmons showed up it was pure chaos. CHAOS. The papparazzi went nuts and there was barely room to breathe.
The swag they gave was fabulous, but the store was stocked with limited edition items and never before seen things. I felt a little weird toting my Tokidoki bag while looking at Tokidoki merch while the creator of Tokidoki, Simone Legno, was standing right behind me.

Hello Kitty is well loved and everyone wanted to get in on the action, at times there was barely room to move.

video

Sanrio people did a fantastic job pulling this exhibit together, it is a must see! The exhibit is free and open to the public starting today through November 15th. The cafe will be serving special Hello Kitty menu items and there are special events on the weekends (Hello Kitty GOTH party, anyone?), which you can bet will be crazy crowded, but so worth it.

**FoodLibrarian's post and much better picture taking...

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

All that and a bag of chips

Unfortunately I have a lot of friends that are laid off. We often joke that in some ways it's great because we get to go places during the week that we'd never get to otherwise. One of those places that I've always wanted to visit is Mendocino Farms. A farm? In downtown L.A.? Hardly. It's an artisan sandwich shop and check out the hours: Mon - Fri 11am to 3pm. That's tough.

Luckily I have nothing to do and am ALWAYS downtown. It's located in the Cal Plaza Water Court and it's a tiny place with a long line, but the sandwiches are worth it. Wow are they worth it. Not only is the food good, but the restaurant is one of only a few Certified Green Restaurants in the United States. They put care into their way of living as well as their food.

Just to torture myself I get their daily newsletter sent to my email, it tells the specials of the day as well as reminds you of the 'Secret Sandwich' of the month. This month is a Peanut Butter sandiwch, but their way: Housemade Peanut Butter with caramelized bananas, applewood smoked bacon, crushed honey roated almonds and green apples on a panini pressed ciabatta. That's some sandwich. Instead I went with the pulled pork. I find it hard to resist pulled pork anytime I see it on a menu, maybe because I make my own so often for parties, I always want to try everyone else's.

This one was GREAT. "Roasted shredded pork in a chipotle BBQ sauce, applewood bacon, house made pickles, farm house cheddar, farm slaw, crispy fried onions, side of chipotle ranch.." Heavenly. The menu ingredients always sound overwhelming but they all come together perfectly. The flavor pairings always seem to magically come together in every bite.

I decided to walk off my sandwich and Grand Central Market is just a lllooonnnggg staircase down to 4th street. I can't wait for them to fix Angel's Flight, let me tell you. Lay to the Z, that's me. I've been coming to the Market for years - starting back when my Grandparents used to take me as a kid. While it's been updated and the vendors have changed - you can still buy a giant jug of MSG...
What the? Forget migraines, you'd just be dead smelling it. There were also aisles of chiles, herbs and yummy pan dulce. But I wanted to stop by the new Lemonade at MoCA - so I hiked it back up to Grand (I cheated and took the escalator) and stopped in the new space. Their $1 cupcakes are the perfect price, but they are so good it left me wanting more.On the way back to the car I saw a building I worked on way back when - so I stopped by to see how it's upkeeping. Is it creepy to stand and stare at a building you helped design? According to security, YES. So I moved along. Walking among the suits was funny. I used to be one of them, and sometimes, I do miss it. Other times - I'm happy to have my sandwich and not have to rush back to an office.

More Downtown pics, here.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Shake it, don't break it, it took your momma 9 months to make it

I've started, um, throwing away the kid's art. Hey - don't judge, they do like 5 art projects a day AND then the Kid comes home and draws all night. I am flooded with art. When he becomes the next mini-Picasso I may cry, but for now I'm drowning in paper. The daycare teacher suggested I hide it and then go out back and burn it so they won't see. Uh...that's one way to get rid of it. Note to self: Don't invite the daycare teacher to a bonfire.

Sandwiched between all this art is homework, flyers, fundraising papers and sometimes do at home craft ideas. One of these great craft ideas was for making individual puddings in a jar. I obviously tossed this paper since I can't find it now, so I just improvised.

I was at my local cake supply and they had these cute screw top lids. I was thinking I could use it to transport cupcakes so they won't die in transit, but who knows.

I filled each with a little powdered pudding and some milk - chocolate for the Baby and vanilla for the Kid, of course. Then they just...SHAAAKKKEEE ITTT!!!

Yup. That's it. And what do you know? Your own little pudding cup that you've made yourself. Amazing. I'm going to occupy the kids by having them make some more, meanwhile I'll be out back burning their childhood memories.

Shake-it! Pudding Cup how-to, here.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There's shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo...

I spend a lot of time with O.G. A LOT. I should win granddaughter of the year but we both know that's not going to happen. It's quite possible that she is one of the reasons I take so many migraine pills. I took her to lunch recently and I could tell you what happened but I decided to draw it instead.

Click to Biggie size it.

Actually I am in the middle of doing a second O.G. book, this is not a part of it, but maybe it should be. I can't make up the things she says. She's out of control.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Til the break of dawn, baby got it goin' on

I swear. Other people get the winter blues, but for me when it's hot - I just get angry. I mean it's October, why the hell is it 90 degrees??

So we did nothing this weekend. NOTHING. Because I was angry AND it was too hot to move. I thought of going to a pumpkin patch, but in shorts and a tank top? Ugh, why bother.

On Sunday it cooled down to a wintery EIGHTY degrees. sigh. But I couldn't take it anymore, I took weather into my own hands and forced it to be Fall. I made some spice cake cupcakes with cinnamon buttercream. I remember as a kid my mom would make spice cake during the fall season all the time, it has such a nice homey fragrance.

Well, it didn't work. We're still stuck with this summer weather. To console myself I've been following the FoodLibrarian's bundt cake endeavors. She told me she was going to try to make 30 bundts in 30 day so of course I started singing "I like big bundts and I cannot lie" to her, and I made her a logo because THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE WHO ARE JOBLESS AND BORED DO...er...photochop pictures of Sir Mix A Lot. Man, now I'm even more depressed. When's it gonna snow, dammit?

Spice cake cupcakes recipe

I LIKE BIG BUNDTS: 30 days of bundt cakes, here

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Friday, October 16, 2009

She got the way to move me, cherry

The best way to get your kids to eat a variety of foods is to get them involved in the kitchen. Start out with fun foods and then easseeee them into things like fish and spinach and the like. Trust me.

So here's the fun. Frozen yogurt is all the rage here in Southern California which is pretty stupid if you ask me - suddenly it's 1991 again, but whatever. My kids of course - LOVE. IT. Maybe it's the variety of flavors you can choose from? (So explain why the Kid always gets vanilla.) I thought it'd probably be easy to make this at home.

That was until the weather turned cold. I mean freezing rain cold! Weather this week has been nuts. It was hot, then freezing to the point of dressing my kids in ski clothes, now today it's 90. Listen weather, we're going to have to break up. I can't handle your mood swings. So for now - this hot weather, it's good. If it goes down to artic when you decide to try this recipe, well just crank up your heater and put on some shorts and pretend it's summer.

In any case, I had these cherries - pounds of them that I froze, remember? They were nice and sweet so I thought they've be the perfect flavor for making frozen yogurt at home. This recipe is so easy, you just throw stuff together, so I got my baby sous chefs to help. Getting the kids involved got them very interested in trying the stuff when it was done, let me tell you.

Super simple, and just as good as the fancy store yogurt if you ask me. Of course I only had one flavor. Um...and no toppings. Or fancy bowls. Or rockin' music playing overhead. BUT IT'S JUST THE SAME I TELL YOU. Ugh. Forget it.

Cherry Frozen Yogurt recipe, here.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Darkness falls across the land, the midnight hour is close at hand,
creatures crawl in search of blood, to terrorize y'alls neighborhood

Yep, Halloween is coming up - I can tell by all the Christmas decorations at Target. So I got moving and got the boys their costumes. No, I don't sew their outfits, I could - but I know my stress limits, thank you very much.

The Baby wanted to be Flash and the Kid is going as some sort of Clone Trooper. I have no idea, I just can't relate to Clone Wars, nor can I understand why all the children in school think Anakin is the shiz. He grows up to be DARTH VADER, hello?? Then again, maybe that's it. Who knows.

I also made little treats for all the school kids, which seems to have doubled this year. I got fangs from Target - again, and some mini Tootsie pops. The kids are going to get so much candy anyway, why do they need more from us?

I like that the Kid is wearing his 'good shirt' in that picture. It was picture day at school - with the fangs it would have been funnier.

To get in the spirit I made some chocolate cupcakes and put some eyes on 'em to scare the beejesus out of the kids. It didn't, they just thought it was weird. Frankly, the thought of Halloween exhausts me. I'm in the mood to just sit on my couch with the porch light off. ~cranky~

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hurry back...hurry back...and don't forget your DEATH certificate...

Man, what is the deal with October - these first two weeks have been JAM PACKED with birthdays. I can't keep up. Last week I went with Jodi to Disneyland for her 'free day'. It was pretty cool to go without kids for once. I got to ride what I wanted to, I got around easily without a stroller, and the only complaints were...well, me saying how goddam hot it was. I'm cranky like that.

Cut to this week - which was my cousin's birthday, so we went for HER 'free day'...and it's cold and dreary. ~confused~ The Kid (poor sucker) had school, but since it was Columbus Day, the Baby did not. Go figure. However, since it was a holiday - it was a NIGHTMARE. I did NOT expect it to be that crowded, no way. Even the line for corndogs was 20 deep. Truth be told - those are the best corndogs I've ever had, but come on.

The park is cool right now, it's totally pimped out Halloween style. The orange and black makes it actually feel like fall in the O.C. And true to form, Disney went all out with the decorations, even down to the desserts, AWESOME.

Since it was so crowded we only went on TWO rides, then just ate and wandered...and ate. I felt bad for the Baby but he didn't seem to mind. He was just happy to be there. Then again, a day of eating IS a vacation for him. He was pooped out and FULL o' food, so we headed home after just a few hours.

More Disneyland Halloween pics, here.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Think pink

Well this kid I know turned ONE, which is hard to believe cause I remember when she wasn't even born yet.

Everything at the party was pink, which is fantastic. I love pink. When I asked The Baby if he wanted to come with me, he said, "It depends. Ask Auntie Nanette what kind of cake she's having." SHEESH. The nerve. In the end it turns out I made the dessert, which was 100 pink and brown cupcakes - 50 chocolate ganache and 50 brown sugar. I guess that was ok with him.

Nanette bought these really cool, almost realistic looking edible butterflies to go on the cupcakes. They were paper thin, and looked neat on random cupcakes. I'll have to remember this as a super cool cupcake topper idea.

There was yummy mac n' cheese and my favvvvorite - Nanette's mom's lumpia. SO GOOD.

The Baby just so happened to be the oldest kid at the party. I thought he'd feel like the 'king' - but instead it only bored him to death, since 'babies don't play PowerRangers.' Oh well. He amused himself (and others) anyway...yikes. Poor Boba Fett.

More birthday party pics, here.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

A piper is down, I repeat a piper is down!

So while I was attempting my Cool Jerk cupcakes - I thought well, what else can I draw in chocolate? Snoopy seemed like an easy option - after all I'd done him before in fondant anyway, and who doesn't love Snoopy?

Mostly I was playing with lineweights and seeing how they'd show up in chocolate - but Lucy was by far the most simple. A full head of black hair was the easiest piping ever, whee! Plus she is my fave - I can relate to the cranky.

The piping was easy and therapeutic, just drawing lines in chocolate over and over. Better than my morning yoga.

The Baby's birthday is next month and it is to be a full blown Batman party. I see the future and it looks like Batman piped in chocolate on cupcakes. But how does Batman feel about chocolate anyway? Hm...Maybe not.

Chocolate drawings how-to, here.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

The only reason that they don't smirk 'cuz they know I'm the queen of the cool jerk

It was my friend Paul's birthday - he is a great artist and one of the characters in his strip Cool Jerk, is called Armpit (Yes, Armpit.) - and I thought to myself, what if I drew his character...in chocolate? What? Normal people don't think about drawing in chocolate everyday? Just me? Huh.

Copying someone else's work is always interesting. At the first architecture firm I worked at when I was 16 - my boss made me copy buildings by hand (granted there were no computers then, so how else would I do it). I thought it was boring, but I realized you can learn a lot about an artist by copying their work. Their lineweights, their thought process, I think it helps you develop your own style too.I printed out a picture of Armpit, then reversed the images in photoshop - why? Because I knew that I was going to flip the chocolate when it was done and I wanted it to read correctly. (Stick with me, here.) I taped a piece of parchment on top, then I simply melted some chocolate chips, put it in a piping bag and went to work. Here's where I realized I had made a mistake. Armpit's lineweights were a bit too delicate to work with the melty chocolate.

I let the chocolate dry, then melted some white chocolate and piped a big thick layer on top. I suppose I could have done this neater but I was experimenting, see. Yeah...that's it. Anyway - after covering the chocolate with white chocolate, I popped them in the freezer for a few minutes, once I took them out I just slipped them off the parchment, turned them over and VOILA - the faces appeared!They came out a little sloppy but very cute. I'm sure I will be trying this again cause it was a lot of fun. If the story ended here that'd be great and I'd give myself a pat on the back except...I still had to ship these cupcakes to San Diego. Yikes. Probably a dumb idea to make something fragile for a birthday gift to ship, but I also wanted to see how the post office would handle it. I packed up the box like crazy and sent it on it's way to Paul for his birthday...but did Chocolate Armpit (my new band name) make it intact?

Absolutely not. Wow. Talk about a disaster. When Paul sent me the picture it was pretty painful to see. I suppose it's my fault for attempting to ship it anyway, but sometimes your friends just don't live close by. Sad. Although I'm fairly sure the postal carrier delivered it...like THIS.

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Come on, come on, let's stick together
You know we made a vow not to leave one another never

Every night after dinner I clear the table and the kids and I do art projects. I start them out, then usually look on while I do the dishes, I don't like to help them too much, I'd rather just see what they create on their own.

Sometimes it's cookie dough, or water colors - but usually it's just drawing. However on this particular night the Kid had asked me if he could go into my craft supplies. I pulled out a bin of buttons and beads and then I saw something I had forgotten about for years - a Xyron sticker maker. This turned out to be the best find EVER.

It was already loaded and ready to go - you just put in whatever you want to make into a sticker, a drawing, let's say - and you pull the paper out of the other end. TA DAH - you have a sticker! Once I showed the kids this trick the skies opened and they couldn't stop themselves. They drew their own pictures, wrote their names, whatever you could think of magically came out of the sticker machine.

I begged the Kid to draw something quick for me to photograph so I could make this how-to. He reluctantly agreed, 'cause he said he'd rather do his homework. HA - I'm a bad mom but a good blogger!
Of course now EVERYTHING has a sticker on it! The Baby's birthday is coming up and I'm thinking of buying a a bunch of these to keep the kids busy during the party. It's certainly fun and easy - and clean. You know how I am about the clean.

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