Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Good News Tuesdays - Mitten Edition

So, I'm a day late for my new weekly blog project. But I have a good reason, I swear!
Yesterday happened to be my ninth wedding anniversary -well, mine and Mr. Cate's of course.
This may happen from time to time, as blogging collides with the rest of life.
But I'm here today, with an announcement of a seasonal variety - It's Mitten Time!! Yay!

Okay, so maybe the weather is still pleasantly jackety, but the cold is coming, and that means its time to make mittens.
Last year, my dear mom and I started a little mitten outfit on the open territory of Etsy. And our shop did pretty well. This year we're back, with lots of new mittens, which you may view here, if you're so inclined:

Wild Rabbits

Enjoy the last few weeks of crisply pretty autumn! I am already looking forward to snow :D

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Good News Tuesdays!

I've been pondering a few ideas for a regular feature on this blog, and I've decided to go with Good News Tuesdays.
One of the things I love the most about the kidlit digital world is all the positive vibes zipping around here. It's lovely to see all the congratulations for the newly agented, and all the fantastic work being published. And I can't emphasize that "fantastic" part enough! Lucky kids. Not that I didn't have plenty of great books to read as a child, but when I take my son to the library and the bookstore, I can't help but be all goofy about the ridiculously marvelous wonderland of books we've created for little guys like him. Go team!

I don't have any "Big" news of my own, yet. I don't blog about my query process, so it's not as if good things aren't happening, I'm just keeping my cards on the table until I have all the news that's fit to print.
For my inaugural Good News Tuesday, I'm starting out simple.
It's a beautiful, chilly day, my favorite weather of all. I have a fresh pot of coffee, a plate of peanut butter toast, and six hours of writing time until Sonny Sonshine gets home from school.
It's better than Christmas.

Here's wishing you a day of whatever it is you love to do most.

Monday, September 5, 2011

In Which I Destroy A Perfectly Tasty Cake

So, my little boy is turning seven next week (!!!) and that meant it was time to throw a party on this beautiful holiday weekend :)
Nothing crazy, just friends and family, a bouncy house, something grilled (Mr. Cate's specialty), and some fun party-type snacks. Also, in accordance with the lil'est Cate's wishes, the party should have a Lego theme. Awesome. Rectangles. I can do that.

Being the spectacular mom that I am, I spent a half hour looking for fun recipes for this party, and I found about 45,000 websites talking about cake pops. Wow, that's cute. And it looks like something I could do*

Basically, you smush up a cake and frosting into a big blob, roll it into little balls, dunk them in a candy coating and decorate. Really, you could do this without even baking, although I made a cake from a box and everything. The cake and frosting part went fine. The big pasty mess even tasted delicious. I used strawberry cake and icing. Yum. The problem came when I tried to do the icing step, so the little guys would look like Lego heads, and not raw meatballs on a stick.

I'm renaming these things "Little Failure Balls".
Main problem - I couldn't find candy melts in yellow. There was some Big Bird themed wedding going on, or some other event that required every store in three counties to have no yellow candy melties. I tried just coloring some melted white chocolate chips with regular old food coloring - Don't Ever Do This. Chocolate is high maintenance, and I'm that girl on the bleachers in the Taylor Swift song. (Sorry if that reference went off the rails. But for the record, I've never seen her jeans and sweats. She seems pretty high fashion to me. But hey, it works for her, cause she's 17 and she should enjoy looking that cute. I would have worn a lot of fancy stuff when I was that age, if I was doing things like singing at the VMAs and such.)

Actually, in regards to the white chocolate, do this, because the reaction from the chocolate was kind of interesting from a chemical perspective. Creamy smoothness became a chunky, globby, half-dried paste in about nine seconds.

So, after making a yellow globby disaster that would be good as a plumbing sealant and little else, I tried this petit fours icing recipe that my mom has used, with Fantastic! results for all kinds of fancy party food. That recipe is pretty simple, too. Half cup of corn syrup, eight billion pound of powered sugar, sifted.
I followed the directions like a girl scout with that one. Carefully blended that mess, added the powdered sugar ever so carefully, making sure no clumps or lumps should fall into the bowl, lest I be shunned from party planning forever... And it made a beautifully smooth, flowing icing, that poured over the cake heads and blocks like silk. ( I made some little cakes, too, to look like scattered lego bricks.)
My petit fours icing was see-through. So then I had little raw meatballs, coated in egg yolk. YUM! Who wouldn't want a big mouthful of that? (on a side note, this might make a great halloween treat if I left the icing plain white- little candy Jars of Brains)

All of this took about five hours.
In the end, we had cake, and it was tasty, and it was cut into the shape of blocks with little marshmallows on top. Done in twenty minutes. And I did manage to come up with my own recipe that all the kids loooooved. Are you ready? Make sure and write this down. You will need the following

1 bowl, large
3-5 bags of M&Ms (enough to fill the bowl)
1 bounce house.

Add M&Ms to children, wait 10 minutes.
Add children to bounce house, allow to simmer for 6-8 hours.
Children remain unaware there were supposed to be adorable little lego head cake pops that went perfectly with the Lego theme. They will however, have fun.

I believe the theme of every children's party could just be "Run Around and Eat Sugar". Because ultimately, that's the mostest fun.

* There are two areas, despite my many talents, in which I simply have no natural gifts. One is music. Despite years of lessons, I am a moderate to terrible cellist, and an utterly crap composer. The other is cooking. I can make food that is edible for human consumption. And that's about all.