Monthly Archives: September 2013

Too Fat for Roller Derby

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Too Fat for Roller Derby

This is my first “dream” post so let me start by saying that I have have weird dreams.  I’m sure most people do, but whatever. I’d like to think that I’m special.  I don’t really believe all the my-dreams-have-hidden-meanings-some-consciousness/God/spirit-is-trying-to-tell-me-something hocus pocus that is plethoric on the ‘web, BUT sometimes it’s kind of obvious that something has been on my mind or has been worrying me.  Sometimes it’s a wake-up(pun!) to an issue I need to stop obsessing about and let go, or it’s something in my life I want to, can, and should change.  Sometimes they are just freaky and weird and I apparently just like to have constant entertainment, even in my sleep.  Be warned.  This gets twisted…

First person:

Pneumatic Bank Tube

The tube looked kind of like a future pneumatic bank tube, but filled with science-y stuff.

I’m walking through a forest looking at a tube-shaped GPS device that I’m carrying.  There’s some sunlight coming through the trees and there’s some scrubby underbrush, but it’s not terribly hard to navigate.  I’m trying to get somewhere that I’ve marked on my GPS- I had been invited to go to this location and it seems a bit mysterious, like I wasn’t sure what I’d find there.

The device said that I had reached my destination but I was in the middle of the forest. There was nothing notable there.  Then magically (as it often happens in dreams) I saw a set of stairs descending into the earth.  I walked down the set of stone stairs into what seemed to be a backstage area.  There were women in states of getting dressed.  They had 80’s/punk rock/hair metal hair (and it was AWESOME!), leotards, leggings, stockings, terrycloth armbands, giant earrings, makeup, and were putting on roller-skates and were talking and yelling and apparently getting pumped for whatever they were about to go do. It was like walking into a dorm of Lisa Frank meets Hair Metal gals.

Lisa Frank notebook Ice cream

Lisa Frank

Motley Crue Hair Glam Metal Rock

Motley Crue

I was confused and didn’t understand what I’d walked into and my GPS wasn’t clear that I was where I was supposed to be; I felt like I was trespassing, so I went back up into the forest above which belied what was below it’s surface.

 

 

As I was searching the area around the top of the stairs for something other than the now obvious stairs that were obviously not what I was sent to find, some of the girls came up and asked what I was looking for. I showed them my GPS and explained what I could.  They ushered me toward the stairs saying that I should talk to The Boss, that she’d know what to do.

I was skeptical but went with them, if for nothing more than to see more of this interesting world.  My curiosity had been piqued.

I entered the office with them and they explained to The Boss what had brought me there.  She had a dubious smile as she said that I may be the person who was to have received this a long time ago-
She hands me an essay/application for a roller derby team I had written years ago (and had included a picture of me playing softball).  I recognized it and immediately remembered the excitement I had when I submitted my application years earlier. I had never received a response, though, and was crushed.  She said I should have gotten my invitation to join, but it had just taken longer to get to me;  I was finally ready to join.
I was thrilled but confused about how I had been led there that day and sad that I had not gotten the invite sooner.  She said I’d be great and started introducing me and explaining how things worked there.

I’d be a ROLLER DERBY GIRL!!!

moxi Roller skate derby zebra pink

Kind of like these Moxi skates(I love this brand, BTW)

As soon as I got settled in I started having doubts.  I realized that I was too old, fat, and ugly to be a roller derby girl.

That would have been perfect for me when I was younger, but now I was too tired and out of shape to be good at it or even try.  I was too embarrassed to go out in front of an audience and skate.  I would just look silly and I would be ashamed.  I thought I could graciously decline by telling The Boss that I didn’t even have skates anymore.  She said that everyone got new skates! She showed me mine and I LOVED them: rainbow-colored zebra stripes with two big glittery stars on them.  They may have had pink pom-poms like my skates did when I was a kid 😉

I wanted to skate so badly and wished I could be that girl again.  I went to my skate dorm and thought about it.  I went to talk to the Producer of the team ( I guess it was televised?!) but when I went into his office to discuss my participation with him, I noticed a (cute)straw handbag on the floor next to his chair.  He had a weird smile on his face….and then a pretty girl with silky black hair and really white gorgeous teeth came out from beneath his desk, smiled and winked at me, grabbed her bag, and walked past me to leave.  I stood in disbelief while the Producer just acted like that was normal and not at all creepy and shameful.  I turned and left to find The Boss to tell her that I would not be part of an organization that was run by someone like that, thinking that this would be the perfect excuse to get me off the hook for joining the roller derby team.

The Boss listened to my report of the encounter and replied that he’s just the NBC Producer, he’s not really affiliated with the team.

Hmph! I was indignant that that was apparently acceptable and I didn’t seem to have a graceful way to not embarrass myself further by actually trying to skate for the first time in over a decade.

And then a cow moo’d in our adjacent field and woke me up.  Saved By The MOO!

I woke up feeling really sad.  …and really wanting to skate… with those skates! Sometimes I impress myself with my own imagination 😉
And now I’ve shared with you my crazy mind.  The End.

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Halo-themed Birthday Cake

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Halo-themed Grunt birthday cake made for my brother's birthday 2013. A funfetti confetti cake made from scratch! No box mix here! A bubblegum flavored frosting.

Halo-themed Grunt birthday cake made for my brother’s birthday 2013. A funfetti confetti cake made from scratch! No box mix here! A bubblegum flavored frosting.

Now look, you could use a boxed cake mix but making a cake from scratch is not more difficult. The only difference is that you have to use fresh ingredients and measure them. That’s it! Your result will be better; you won’t regret it! My brother has had boxed “Funfetti” cake for most of his birthdays and he loves it but after this one, he said he never wanted a boxed cake again! Now there’s an endorsement!

The Cake

This is a moist, tender, and fluffy white cake.  I only did two layers, but you could split the layers to make four thin layers, or double the recipe for four regular layers.  Whatever floats your boat! I personally would float my boat in a sea of  frosting 😉 Be sure to adjust the amount of frosting you make if you increase the recipe though!

Gather:

  • 2, 9″ round cake pans
  • Parchment paper
    (do not use wax, it can melt an nobody wants wax on their cake!) Sit your cake pan on top, trace it with a pencil or pen, cut inside the line and Voila! A cake pan liner!
  • 4 Large egg whites
    (I used Pete & Gerry’s Organic Eggs. If you haven’t tried these, you should. Their heirloom Marans eggs are the best store-bought eggs I’ve ever had…ever!)
  • 1 C Milk
    (I used Horizon organic skim but whole is best)
  • 1 t Vanilla extract
    (use a high quality one. I use Nielsen-Massey Madagascar bourbon)
  • 1/2 t Almond extract
    (don’t use imitation and DO NOT USE MORE than 1/2t)
  • 4 T Unsalted butter
    (make sure this is completely softened.  I used Trader Joe’s Organic)
  • 8 T Shortening
    (I used Crisco.  You want the light colored stuff…nothing yellowy or it will keep the cake from being a bright white.)
  • 3 C Cake flour
    (I used Swans Down.  If you are unused to baking, you need to know that you cannot just substitute with another type of flour.  They have different protein amounts and are not interchangeable.)
  • 1 1/2 C White sugar
  • 4 t Baking powder
    (I used Clabber Girl.  Make sure your baking powder is fresh and has been open less than 6 months)
  • 1/2 t Table salt
    (I used Morton’s non-iodized)
  • 1/3 C Multi-colored rod shaped sprinkles

Prepare

  1. Set the butter out on a plate well before it’s time to start baking.  Give it at least an hour at room temp to get soft.
  2. Cut out a parchment liner for each pan.
  3. Take out your eggs and milk so they won’t be cold
  4. Triple sift your cake flour with the sugar, salt, and baking powder (it helps with fluffiness of the final product!)
  5. Heat the oven to 350’F
  6. Grease pans:
    Rub a thin layer of shortening (not butter) into your pans- don’t miss the cranny. we don’t want this baby sticking!  Put your parchment circle in the bottom. It should be snug, but not wrinkly. Rub shortening on top of it. Sprinkle a very small amount of flour inspide and shake it around until there is the lightest amount coating the surfaces.
  7. In a small bowl mix the egg whites, 1/4 C milk, and the extracts.
  8. In your stand mixer bowl beat the butter and shortening until creamy. It will be quick.
  9. Add the flour mixture and mix about half a minute and then slowly add the remaining milk.
  10. Mix on Medium a few minutes and be sure to keep the sides scraped.
  11. Add the egg whites in four installments allowing it to mix about half a minute between each addition.
  12. After the last of the egg, mix about a minute and remove your bowl from your mixer. This last part must be done by hand.
  13. Sprinkle the sprinkles on top of the mix (I mean what else would you do with them??) and very g e n t l y stir them in with a spatula.  If you are too vigorous or stir too much they will start to bleed and you won’t have a white cake anymore.
  14. Divide the batter into your pans.  The easiest accurate way is by weight if you have a kitchen scale, but I usually eyeball it.
  15. Drop the cake! Seriously. Don’t skip this step; it will ensure that your layers come out flatter and won’t have air pockets in them.  Take each cake pan and drop it to the counter from about a 6″ height about a half-dozen times or so.  You will see little air bubbles come up.

Now Bake!

Bake for 20-30 minutes. So many things could be different between my cooking environment and yours so you’re going to have to check it.  They should be golden and spring back when you press the center.  Put them on the same rack and turn halfway through.

Place the pans on baking racks for about 10 minutes.  Then turn the layers out onto a piece of parchment or a flat plate but make sure they end up with the domed side up.
Cool completely.  Seriously. Give it hours. Do it the day before you frost if you want, just wrap the layers tightly in plastic wrap so they won’t get crusty.  You absolutely do not want to frost a cake that is warm.  It’s a mess.

Trim the tops of your layers if necessary so you will have a flat, level, pretty cake. Unless you’re going for a hilly cake LoL 😀  I like to use dental floss to make even layers but there’s a bunch of techniques and honestly, I haven’t tried many.

The Frosting

I do bake quite often but I don’t actually make cakes much and I usually just do a simple frosting without design, but I’m adventurous so I gave it a go! Even if the frosting looked bad, I knew it at least would taste delicious!

I bought a Wilton decorator kit  for about $10 at Target and it worked pretty good, so I’d recommend it if you don’t already have something you like. Wilton has a good area of their site for decorating advice.

Now I was ready to frost this cake!

I have a fan-freaking-tastic cream cheese frosting that I almost always use.  It’s not too sweet.  It’s luscious and it’s no-bake.
BUT
Adventurous Housewife here decides to go with a buttercream frosting she’s never made.
It was awful. Like, cannot-be-salvaged-if-we-had-a-dog-I-wouldn’t-feed-it-to-him bad.
It was sickly sweet and mushy even though I followed the recipe. Blech.
I spent time and quite a bit of money in ingredients (four sticks of good butter and 6 C confectioners sugar- wasted!).  Now I didn’t have enough butter to make my cream cheese frosting and the grocery store is about 45 minutes away…soooo….

Option #2

I was glad that I, as a way of life, had followed the Girl Scout motto, “Be Prepared.”

Duncan Hines Frosting Creations unflavored starter. I am not proud of this moment.  but it saved my ass this one time. cake, icing, frosting

Duncan Hines Frosting Creations unflavored starter. I am not proud of this moment. but it saved my ass this one time.

I haven’t used a pre-made frosting in many years, but Target had a sale a few weeks prior on the Duncan Hines FrostingCreations and I had picked up one just to try and I got several of the frosting flavor packets. I picked up Mocha, Bubblegum, Cotton Candy, Caramel, and Strawberry Shortcake.  Let me tell you, I was really bummed to have this as my last resort but it was this or a naked cake, and I had planned on making this cake for weeks; I was so excited.  I was glad that I, as a way of life, had followed the Girl Scout motto, “Be Prepared.”  It saved my butt.

I was flustered and made mistakes.  Instead of portioning out the only jar I had of the frosting into two or more parts (one to frost the cake and one+ to decorate), I just mixed in the pink bubblegum flavor packet.  Pink- Not very “Halo” and not very “Brother”.  The bubblegum flavor was okay. I’d gladly add it to my homemade frosting (which is why I bought so many), but the frosting base was too sweet and weird.  It just does not “do it” for me. Oh well, it’s what I had. So I rationed my frosting and covered the cake. Then I mixed what was left with food coloring to make the orange-y color you see. I used one of the decorating tips and actually had a good time making the Grunt on the cake.  I used sugar sprinkles to color some of the areas so I wouldn’t have to try to mix another color of frosting. I was trying to be really careful since it really wasn’t enough.  I got a bit clumsy with the sprinkles but tedium is not my thing.

Finishing Touches

I sprinkled some of the rod-shaped sprinkles that I had used in the cake near the Grunt’s head like he had been head-shot’ed and it had exploded into confetti.  I put one of the stars I had filled the birthday balloons with where his face-hole would be.  I liked the effect especially when the cake was cut.  Hubby and Brother loved the cake and didn’t care one whit that it was store-bought frosting.  They didn’t even care that it was pink.

I don’t have a cake stand per se but I just turned a pie plate upside-down, stuffed some of the Mylar streamers that I also used to fill the party balloons with, and put the cake on that and then put that on top of a glass lazy susan.  It was helpful for frosting but also was a perfect way to serve it.

Halo-themed Grunt birthday party cake. Yup, that's pink bubblegum flavored frosting. Headshot!

Halo-themed Grunt birthday party cake. Yup, that’s pink bubblegum flavored frosting. Headshot!

Some notes:

I tend to be very specific about what ingredients I use.  I do this in case I want to adjust the recipe or experiment with it later.  I also find that when recreating someone else’s recipes, it can make a difference what brands are used in getting similar final results.  if I don’t mention a brand then it was probably some cheap store brand or the “base model” brand.
I do not recieve compensation for linking to, using, or mentioning any brands.  I simply link to them to make it easy for you to know exactly what I’m using and help you to locate where it’s sold in case you’d like to try it.

t: little “t” is a teaspoon. ’cause it’s cute and little
T: big “T” is a Tablespoon. ’cause he’s the big brother
C: Cup

Look at the Rest of the Party!

Filling the Balloons

Filling Party Balloons

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I didn’t know how I was going to fill the balloons, but I knew I’d figure it out.  I bought everything I thought I’d need and proceeded to get crafty.

Gather:

  • Balloons
  • A seltzer water bottle (it was what I had on hand, but something with a wider mouth might be easier)
  • Scissors
  • Confetti that can fit into the balloon neck
  • Streamers (I used mylar and crinkle paper)
  • Something to push the filler into the balloon. Nothing too skinny. It needs to be almost as big as the neck of the bottle you use.  (I used a large metal Slurpee straw)
  • Someone to blow the balloons or a helium tank if you want them to float
  • Curling Ribbon to tie on to the end

Now Fill!

  1. Cut the top off of a 1 Liter bottle (2 liter bottles will have too wide of a cup).  Leave a few inches up from the neck so that you’ll have room for the filler to sit before you stuff it into the balloon.
  2. You can blow up the balloons before you fill them to help stretch them a bit and make them easier to fill.
  3. Stretch the entire neck of the balloon over the mouth of your fill-cup.  If you don’t get the whole neck over, it will be very difficult to fill.  It’s like gathering the top of a sock helps you put your foot in the sock.

    See how the neck of the balloon is bunched up onto the bottle? If you have it pushed up like this it’s easier than cramming your filling down the skinny part of the balloon’s neck.

  4. Put the streamers in the fill-cup and shove down with your push-tool (the wide metal straw in my case).  Don’t try to fit more in than the uninflated balloon can hold.  I found it helpful to add the confetti after almost all of the streamers were inside as it helped the straggling bits of streamer get pushed inside.

    A small wad of streamers

  5. Add confetti to the fill-cup and push inside.

    Full of streamers & stars!

  6. Remove the balloon from your fill-cup and blow it up!
  7. Tie off the balloon and add curling ribbon to the tail.  I very lightly curled the ribbon with the scissors because I didn’t want it to be too curly or girly since this was for a dude’s birthday.

    One balloon all done!
    Added Bonus: the smaller confetti stuck to the sides because of static. Awesome!

  8. Store the balloons in a staging area until you are ready to decorate.  I did mine the night before and put them in the bathtub with the shower curtain shut to hold them in.  If you use helium, be ready to tie them to something or weight them each individually.

Some Optional things you could do:

This was one small bag of paper crinkle confetti.
Fluff, fluff, fluff it up! Almost all of this fit into about 4 doz balloons with metallic streamers AND stars!
It was a party EXPLOSION!

  • Make them fit your theme by coordinating the balloon colors, ribbon color, confetti, and streamer fill
  • You can fill them with candies or other goodies like money or small toys but remember that everything in them will have inevitable spittle on it if you blow them up by mouth, and will end up on the floor, so make sure edibles are all wrapped.  You can also use a mechanical hand pump to avoid the spittle if you like 😛
  • If you don’t want to buy or rent a helium tank (I found small ones in the $30 range), you can hang them from the ceiling in large groups or entirely covering it for a beautiful effect.  If you hang them at different heights and use different sizes, it can look like bubbles!  I gathered a group of about 8 balloons, wrapped a piece of strong tape around the ribbon ties somewhat close the the base of the balloons and then taped that to the corners of the room.. If you try to just stick the tape flat on top of the ribbon, it’s likely to slip out.  Leave the ribbons hanging to make them look like the balloons are floating!

*A word of caution: Don’t wait until the last minute to do these.  The work goes quickly, but it’s easy to get light-headed and pass out if you blow them too quickly or too hard! Leave time for you to take some breaks!

 

Look at the rest of the Party!

Making the Cake