Monday, 9 January 2012

All a-Buzz

It so happens I have another cake story. Not all that funny this time just a lot of pain. I didn't know piping was equivalent to lifting weights. When I set out to do this I thought to myself, "how hard can it be to squeeze some sugar and butter out of a plastic bag on to a cake?". Apparently a tad more difficult than I thought.

This was a Buzz Lightyear cake for my Offspring's third birthday. He explicitly said he wanted A "Buzz cake". He told half his little world he was having a Buzz cake. I was nervous about making it so I searched the internet for a cake maker. I am not too good at finding things on the internet but I did find a bakery that makes fancy Buzz cakes. The catch - it was in the United States (shipping might be an issue) and it cost no less than a few hundred dollars. I couldn't justify spending that much money on something he doesn't even particularly like to eat. So I embarked on a cake making adventure.

My friends have all been very kind and generous with their praises for my efforts to the point of me feeling a bit embarrassed because it was not that big a deal. Anyone can do it. Really, seriously!

I bought a shaped pan and then followed instructions and if you compare the picture on the website/pan cover to what I have done you can tell it was the work of someone just learning the ropes. The colors aren't a great match, the grey and green are a bit dark and the outlines very shaky. Here is a series of pictures on how I went about it.

I baked two cakes because I needed one for school and one for the party at home. One had more batter and the crust got a bit crunchy before it was cooked through, which is preferred by the boys. So I let that be. The second one was perfect.

The day after I baked the cakes I started work. I was very impatient with the sides, I have never been able to smooth the sides. I figured I could fix that later and got started on the face because I was on a timeline. This is not work that you can do with a three-year-old around. I had to get it done before he came home from school.
Setting out...
The eyes and mouth took me nearly half an hour, I was trying to be really perfect which is one of my pitfalls. I can be really hard on myself. But then I reminded myself that this cake was for the Offspring and even if the cake remotely looked like his hero he would be thrilled, so I moved on. I got the outlines done, but as I started to fill in the colors I had to keep patching the outlines.

The real challenge was working from a mirror image, which I had not given much thought to before I bought the pan. However, I did read the reviews on the website by other cake makers attempts which gave me a heads up on the issue and I went slow with the outlining and was careful before I started to fill in the colors.

Line and all the finicky bits are in.
Once I got all that done I was rather excited to start piping. I had never done any piping before so I practiced on a plate. I couldn't get it as pretty as in the picture, and again reminded myself that this was for my baby boy. I forged ahead.
Making progress
I made good progress. The upside to icing two cakes at one time is that the quantity called for in the instructions is adequate for two cakes. You can't pipe with a tiny bit of icing, so when you have a quarter or half a cup of icing you might as well do two cakes. Its just the muscles of your hand, forearm, arm and neck that might not appreciate it. That's a lot of muscles!
And we're done
After five hours and a very sore arm the cakes were done. I was pleased with it, but as I said, it was not that hard and it is far from perfect. This is not the work of a genius, but a mother desperate to make her baby boy's birthday as special as she could. I think it was a hit.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Such a flawed machine

Since one of my goals this year is to put me first, I made it to my doctor's office today for a scheduled physical. We did the usual chatting and she took swaps and smears and whatever else she needed and then got talking to me about a recent blood test. It seems my body is attacking itself!

I find the human body absolutely amazing, I teach this stuff and I can get students to love it because I do, sincerely do. At the same time I am constantly reminded how terribly flawed it is. It is so messed up that we have built an enormous industry to prolong its life. But in the end it gives up, it does not last forever. So when she told me that it was an autoimmune condition I asked her what triggers it. No one really knows apparently. I have some theories. I doubt anyone will listen. It will make for a pretty good medical thriller.

It was kind of scary getting my medication at the pharmacist who said, "is this your first time?" I nodded yes. He then said, "well you will have to take this for the rest of your life, or at least until blood levels stabilize." I could tell he added the last bit to make me less anxious.

One thing is for certain now, I have no reason to let life pass me by, I simply have to live it, the way I want to!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy 2012?

I have never been more glad to see the rear end of a year. 2011 has been challenging in so many ways and at so many levels. But, it is over and I am kind of glad for Facebook where friends and family have been posting very many happy thoughts and wishes for a better year. Here's hoping it is going to be a better year.

Of course I know a year just doesn't turn out to be crappy or great on its own. A lot of it is our doing, and I am determined to take charge of how things turn out. I also intend to do it in a manner that is reasonable to me and those who matter most to me. I do have certain goals I'd like to accomplish. Some I can speak of, others...well I am still figuring out what they are.

For now, my simple goals are:
1. Eat breakfast every morning within an hour of waking up;
2. Get at least six to eight hours of sleep every night;
3. To get through this winter with as few episodes of illnesses as possible;
4. To see my darling son completely potty trained, surely boys must grow out of being comfortable with fecal matter pasted to their bums (this is where I have to be easy on myself, this has less to do with me and more to do with the Offspring);
5. Put me first every now and then...

These are not resolutions. I gave up on them in my last year of high school. I am just going to try and do this because it is what I have to do to stay healthy and happy. It is what I want for everyone I love, which should begin with me, right? 
Hoping the light shines even in the darkest hours...
So, happy new year to me and everyone I love. And to you too, whoever you are, reading this. I hope this is your year, do what makes you happy because if the Mayans are right, we will not have another year.