Thursday, August 19, 2010

Numbers 6, 5 and 4

SO. Things to do before I leave California #'s 6, 5 & 4 are all related to clothes. Yup. You heard me. Clothes. (I know, I'm normally not big on them)

#6: accept 'the Point Arena look' as a necessity, not a fashion statement. And then make it your own fashion statement.

This may sound weird to the non-initiated, but this is a true thing. By 'the Point Arena look' I mean: Sweater/sweatshirt over a tank top/T-shirt, skirt, leggings (in the winter), and Uggs (year round). Why? Because it is freezing here on the coast in a perma-50 degree sort of way. Up on the ridge (where many people live) it gets hot and you need to be able to go summery in a quick minute (see #5). But the Ugg thing is not because of how they look - it's because they're the best thing for quick summer footwear conversion as you don't need socks.

At first you resist this look and chalk it up to people living in a rural setting for too long, blah blah blah, but then you realize they have something and you're only truly comfortable when you embrace it.

#5: rig up your car to carry almost as many clothes as you have in your bedroom.
Oh yeah. I learned this one quick. There are SO MANY micro climates in California - especially coastal California, that every time you get out of your car it's practically a different season.

Example: it'll be 65 degrees and sunny at my house, 90 degrees and sweltering at my friend's house, and then 50 degrees and foggy in town. So you have to be able to get appropriately dressed before you get out of the car. Very important.

#4: realize that going to the beach means you dress up, not down.

Seriously one of my favorite things to do in SF is to look at all the tourists walking across the Golden Gate Bridge in July in tank tops. In 50 degree fog. I find it slightly hilarious (I know, I'm mean). The smart ones buy San Francisco sweatshirts at the conveniently located gift shop in the GGB parking lot...

No - in all seriousness, the beach is one of the coldest places you can go to in the summer. Gorgeous. But cold.

True story: I happened to go to the beach in July once and got sunburned. Upon returning to town, people kept coming up to me and asking me where I had gotten so much sun. When I replied "the beach", they asked which one. When I said the local beach, no one believed me. It's that strange for it to be hot at the beach here in the summer.

And as I write this, it's 51 degrees outside. and in my house. *sigh* I love coastal California!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Things to do before I leave California #7: Figure out what the hell kind of flower this is:

Over the past 8 years I have asked everyone I know AND have even gone so far as to post a pic on a few no avail. It seems to be the general consensus that the flower is so common to these woods up here no one really talks about it, hence no labelling. If any part of the plant were edible, it might be a different story, but....

Here's another hint:

As I was sitting at my moving sale talking to my landlady (rather I was talking to the huckleberry bushes - she was completely enmeshed in them picking berries....), she off-handedly mentioned that they were Clintonia (a beaded lilly). In a millisecond, all was solved. Err. Rather after I wikipedia'd it on my iPhone with one bar of reception it was found to be a specific kind of Clintonia. Woot!

Turns out I had seen the east coast version (white to light yellow flowers) a bunch, but never saw them make beads and so didn't make the connection..... mystery solved!

Friday, August 13, 2010


Things to do before I leave California #8: savor (once again, and for the last time for a long time, an It's-It)

What you can't see from the picture is that the plastic is also potentially vintage

I had a great dinner last night with a good friend of mine - and I belatedly remembered that he had bought me an It's-It.

Oatmeal cinnamony cookie, vanilla ice cream, the thinnest layer of chocolate....

Sooooo gooooood.....

OMG. One of my favorite things ever. Savored. Just the perfect thing.

#8 has been crossed off my list. (Sorry we forgot about them B!)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Glorious Thistle

I am embarrassed to admit that I had never seen an artichoke in bloom. As much as I love eating artichokes, and as often as I ave seen thistles in bloom, I wasn't prepared for this:

Isn't that the most impressive flower you've ever seen?

Things to do before I leave California: #9 has been crossed off the list.

Mmmm. Cake?

OK. So the cake for the best cake decorator ever didn't come out the way I wanted it to. AT ALL. So much so that I didn't take any pictures of it...I was too busy waiting for one of the individual cakes to fall over..... the irritating things is I totally know how I could have made it work sturcturally as well, but I just didn't have the time. Especially since I was trying to pack and make the cake at the same time..... anyhoo. Some pictures. (I stole the last two from P. Thanks P!)

The best part of the process? Instead of using rolled fondant (sometimes I buy it, sometimes I make it...), this time I made marshmallow fondant. I got tired of eating cake that you had to peel massive layers of crap off of - like your cake is trapped in some sort of clay wrap. Marchmallow fondant is actually damn tasty. I wanted to use up a bag of marshmallows left over from camping with my friend and her family, but I don't know that I'll go back to rolled fondant.

Patiently waiting for the rest to get painted - the least time consuming part of the whole process! The front 3 did not make it on the final cake, and are still sitting downstairs. (I don't actually *like* cake much...)

Assembling the cake.

Back away slooooooooowly......

Sunday, August 08, 2010


I'm not good at waiting. At all. But it turns out that I can't participate in the first part of today's birthday festivities in Guerneville, due to an unforeseen porcine related accident. Which is really just a romantic way of my saying that I stepped on a shard of pork bone my dog left in the middle of the floor at 1am, and long story short, ended up going to the Dr with a football-sized foot at 5am. It's a disappointingly small wound for the amount of trouble and pain it has caused. I can't wait to drive Jenner Grade left footed. Woot!

So now I have to wait for the boat-related activities finish and meet up for more funness later.

Sneak preview. Hehe.

But that's OK. I have company. My cute little cakes are quietly waiting with me from the protection of the magical fridge (which is magical, btw, no more graininess in my buttercream. Yaay!). I made all 12 from the original painting, but only 9 will fit on the cake. Umm. Poor planning on my part. Whoops. Then again there is SO MUCH CAKE. Holy shmoly. We'll see which ones make the cut!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Not. Stressing. Out.

Soo.... last night I made the components for the as-of-yet un-designed birthday cake for my fabulous baker friend. For some reason I used a new buttercream recipe, and it was slightly grainy when I last checked. I used the Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe from Confetti Cakes (a fun book!), and I just don't think I got the eggwhites hot enough. I thought they were, but evidently not. As this recipe uses granulated sugar instead of confectioner's sugar, you can tell when it's not dissolved.


I firmly believe that I have a magical refrigerator.

I mean come on! Look at it! If you were grainy sugar and you were placed in that fridge, don't you think the laws of physics would cease to exist and you would come out all creamy and smooth?!?!

Fingers crossed. She's gonna get an awesome cake if I have to make 10 trying. As a cook in a restaurant NO ONE would cook for me, and that kind of thing sucks. As I'm one of the few people gutsy enough (or dumb enough. Haven't figured that one out yet) to try to make one for her, I'm gonna pull it off. I have 25 hours before I leave my house for her shindig.

**channeling inner magician/stubborn baker** Here we go!

Friday, August 06, 2010


Inspiration comes in many many forms, it seems. I LOVE making cakes, and every year I make a cake for my good friend. The thing is, she is an AMAZING cake decorator, and on top of running the local bakery, she does custom cakes as well. It seems that I am the only one with either 1) big enough balls, or 2) enough stupidity to attempt to do one for her. Yeah. Intimidating.

Anyway - every year she makes me one, too, as we both have our birthdays in August. Since I'm leaving town at the end of the month and have a lot on my plate on that score, we scrapped the 'surprise' element and actually talked about what kind of cakes we both wanted. She told me she wanted a cake inspired by Wayne Thiebaud. After looking through a bunch of images online of his, I am overly inspired. There are literally 10 cake ideas in my head. Unfortunately I'm short on time (due to being sick the past couple of days), and I'm not a good painter. Last year I had an amazing artist friend help with sculpting the cake topper, and she's an amazing painter as well, but as she lives in Watsonville now I'm on my own. Eep.

For those of you who don't know or don't remember last year's cake, here it is:

And a close up of the details:

Name of cake: The Dead Chick Cake (she got bitten by a vampire, you see.....)

I think for this year's cake I'm gonna narrow it down to my favorite 2 ideas and do them simultaneously. She'll get whichever one comes out better. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Let them have MEAT!

This is awesome. As in 'whoopty frigging doo' awesome. I know a LOT of people on really odd food trips and whatnot. (I do live in northern California, after all....) While I know some Vegans and Vegetarians that do alright, for some reason the craziest and most unstable people I know have the most dietary restrictions. And sorry - I don't know a single raw foodie that doesn't just seem malnourished in a way.... so aha! I knew it! Suck it!

And I knew there was a reason why the smartest person I know and the person that consumes the most meat that I know are one and the same (Hi Dad!! JK. He doesn't read this blog).

Play Those Blues Away

I recently had the pleasure of hanging out with a few of My Best Friends (only one of whom lives here in town) and my friend's family. By 'family' I'm mostly talking about her nieces - ages 12, 9 & 4 (or close enough to those ages anyway, they all seem to have summer birthdays). I've been insanely distressed and just a bit blue these days with the impending (as of yet details unknown) move. Hanging out with My Best Friends would have surely been enough to create a great respite from those blues, but hanging out with the kids lifted them in a more permanent way.

I had forgotten.

Living up here in crazy alterna-world, there are literally children everywhere. But they have a tendency to run in packs, and are - for better or for worse - mostly treated the same way as adults (hence all the infantile drama among the adults, IMHO, but that's a whole nother issue...), and don't *play* like kids with those of us who are a bit older.

These girls are not like that.

We went to the park to feed the ducks (and very loud geese). Who among us remember the joy of chucking chunks of bread into a pond without a bit of prodding? Feeding of the fowl led to an impromptu outdoor concert on the stage in the amphitheater in the redwood grove of some Journey, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and a stunning rendition of 'Part of Your World' (of Little Mermaid fame). At the top of ALL of our lungs. And there was diva dancing. Whoa.

And that was just part of one day out of 5 I spent with those kiddlywinks (dude. There was kayaking). A huge thanks to M, V & N!!!! (who don't read this blog. Granted one can't read at all. Yet.)