Monday, November 17, 2014

Peacock Cake

Quinn requested a peacock cake for his birthday.  Took a bit of work, but I think it came out nice.
Actually, he originally requested a pigeon birthday cake and a peacock Halloween costume, but remembering back to his grey and black Roomba cake when he was two I told him a peacock cake might be more appetizing and definitely tastier.  He agreed and switched the requests.  (And his pigeon costume came out cute, so I'm glad he did.)

(Here's the Roomba cake if you're curious.  Quinn loved our Roomba and that was his first real word after "Mama.")
Roomba cake, 2008
Amazing how six years looks like a lifetime ago.
I puzzled over how to do a peacock cake for a while.  My first instinct was to make something with the tail raised, but for the tail to look right it would have to be thin, and the proportion of bird to tail would make the actual cake part weird if I made it that way.  And the one preference Quinn had was he wanted the whole thing to be edible (so no purely decorative fan tail).  I asked him if he cared if I made it with the tail down, and he said that would be fine.  I also decided it would be easier if the peacock could simply rest on the cake instead of worrying how to make it out of cake.

There was no room in our fridge at home to store a cake, so I wound up making the basic parts of it at home and bringing it all with me to work so I could put it in the fridge there when I was done.  It was kind of funny to clear off all the violin work from my bench at closing time and play with frosting there instead.

I sculpted a bird body out of rice crispy treats, and made a batch of fondant to do the tail.  I found some great blue glitter frosting at the grocery store, and for a few small details I just used a Tootsie Roll (which is essentially modelling chocolate once you warm it in your hands a little).  The tail pieces I just formed out of the fondant (which is just sugar dough that I have a tasty recipe for).  I wound up applying most of the frosting with a brush which was a lot of fun.

I had problems with the head coming off.  I thought the rice crispy treat material would have some structural integrity if I kept it cold, but I ended up having issues with it getting soft after it was frosted, and I hoped to salvage the situation by propping up the head in the fridge.

However, I had a bad feeling about it after I cleaned up and was leaving the violin store.  I went to check on it one last time and found the neck tearing again, and decided that a decapitated peacock was too depressing for a birthday cake.  I re-carved the neck and positioned the head to rest on its back instead, touched up the frosting, and called it done.

I think with more time and not having to do the whole thing at night following a full day at work I could have done something even better, but I was happy with it.  More importantly, Quinn was happy with it.  He loved it.  And I love him.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bike Trip to the Fabric Store

It seemed like a good idea.  It really did.

But before I get into that story I feel the need to share some pictures of leaves because this Fall has been particularly beautiful.  (These are from right outside my front door and from the park nearby.  Don't let anyone ever tell you Milwaukee's not beautiful.)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Heart of Life

I was recently asked to submit a quote for an article on a site called  They were working on a piece for Veteran's Day about music and military families.  It's a nice article, and there is a cute picture of me and Ian there so you should go look!

They only used a couple of parts of the piece I wrote (at the very beginning and again at the end), so I'm putting the whole original thing here.  (And in case you don't know the song I'm referring to, I'll post a clip at the end.)

Heart of Life, by Korinthia Klein

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Off Switch Eating

I've lost about 30 pounds since the beginning of June.  That's enough weight that people notice, and many ask what it is I'm doing.

I know what people want to hear is that it's something that doesn't involve much sacrifice.  Unfortunately that's not the way it works.  For me, anyway.  Everyone's bodies and goals are different, so I can only say what works for me and people can take from it what they will.

For various reasons my weight has been up and down and all over the map.  I know at this point what my body responds to, how exercise and food affects it, and where most of my limits are.  My 30s were all spent in and out of pregnancies and breast feeding, and dealing with the stress of small children, starting a business, and my husband's deployments.  But now my last baby is about to turn eight, Ian returned from Iraq four years ago, and I've finally arrived at a place where I have no excuses for getting control over my own body and my health and my habits.

I've learned that exercise has almost no impact on my weight.  I swim a mile almost every day.  That was true 30 pounds ago and it's true now.  Exercise is important, and I'm glad it's something I've added to my routine, but I think weight loss has to do with what you eat, not how you move.  Exercise does affect the shape I'm in.  I think if I'd lost 30 pounds rapidly and without exercise I would look very different.  For instance, my arms are not flabby anymore, but only because my muscle tone is good and my skin has had time to adjust to the change.  So I'm not saying exercise isn't helping, but it does not affect the numbers on the scale.

What has brought my weight down is eating less.  I know, shocking.  But I'm not someone who wants to track every bite I put into my mouth.  I don't want to think that hard.

So I've come up with a system for myself that I'm calling "Off Switch Eating."

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Voting Day

I just got back from voting.

When we used to live directly across the street our polling place was the nearby school.  Since we moved to this side of the street we go vote at a DMV near Chuck E Cheese.  Just a short walk on this wet and windy day.

The kids are off from school so Quinn came along.  The girls didn't see the appeal in watching us stand in line, get a sticker, and come home.  But Quinn will still happily go wherever I go.  He holds my hand and hops along in an un-rhythmic manner that would send me off balance if he were much bigger.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Zombie Hill! (And Other Halloween Fun)

Bay View does a lot of Halloween decorations in October, but hands down the best display every year is Zombie Hill on Kinnickinnic near my kids' school.  (And I never get tired of the word "Kinnickinnic.")
How awesome is that?  The first few zombies appear on the hill on the first of the month, then more, and sometimes they get moved around (usually closer and closer to the sidewalk as the month progresses).

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Halloween Costumes 2014!

Trick-or-Treat is tonight in our neighborhood, which at least does nighttime Trick-or-Treat.  There will be Trick-or-Treat in the rest of Milwaukee in the daytime on Sunday.  I have no idea if anything Halloween related is happening anywhere on Halloween.

But I got all the costumes done!  Check out my kids as a pigeon, a snowy owl, and a tapejara: