Thursday, April 17, 2014

In Memory of the Hostess with the Mostess

I like to keep this blog a happy, if not neutral place - but sometimes...I just need to type.

My brother called while we were on vacation. His voice broken, a sound no one ever wants to hear. A sound that sends signals to your heart the moment you hear it, clenching your jaw and furrowing your brow for the inevitable emotional impact.
We lost a dear family friend that we've known for twenty years. A family member, really. It was sudden, and unexpected, and if you could see my facebook, you'd see that my entire hometown is reeling in shock.
We met Joanne because her daughter was in the same kindergarten class as my brother.  She had a son a little younger, who got along well with my brother too.  Years later, she and my mom both had their youngest daughters about the same time.  When my sister was little she would call both my mother and Joanne "mom", since our families were so often together.  Parties, church, school, shopping - and just plain old hanging out were normal.
She always told it like it was, and I think that down-to-earth, genuine spirit really stood out. Even me, an arrogant young teen with a problem with female authority (yes, that in particular, so weird), would feel shame when she'd chastise me for sassing my mother.  
She was so young, just ten years my senior, so she always seemed hip and cool to us kids.  She bought me my first "real" investment bra from victoria secret - which is to this day the only expensive bra I own. TMI, but it's still in great shape!  She'd roll her eyes at my mom and tell her to stop buying me "grandma" clothes - and each year on my birthday she'd force me to go to the mall and pick out a new outfit while I clung to her daughter in an awkwardness that I've yet to grow out of.  (I still wear grandma clothes too, sorry Joanne but I guess that can't be changed!)

She was always the hostess - filling her garage parties with yummy food.  You never left hungry.  And you never left without at least one plate of leftovers.  And she'd always be there with food and a helping hand at other peoples parties too. I can close my eyes and see her at birthdays, graduations, and Christmas mornings where Mom would always find her something cow themed since that was Joanne's favorite.

I'll never be able to eat spinach dip, cookie cakes, or warm banana bread without thinking of her.  They were simply the best. 

I'm thankful that she shared herself, and her big, wonderful family with us.  I'm thankful for the long friendship she had with my mother especially. And I'm so amazed by the strength and reliance on God that my mom has now. 

The Easter season has never had more significance to me than it does right now.  It must have been the Spirit, because I was so heartbroken and upset at some of the things that were going on - and then I re-read Luke 24.  Here's the first part from the NIV:

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”
   
Overwhelmingly (and on the MUNI bus of all places), my broken heart was filled with something other than grief and anger - it is filled with awe.  Awe of the immense hope the Resurrection has given me.  How glad I am that the tomb was empty! I can have faith that this life is not the end of the story.  That death has already been conquered, and that Joanne is up there sharing her famous spinach dip with those that have gone before and helping prepare the great party we'll all have together someday with Jesus.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Keroro Gunsou Cake

Since Valentine's Day fell on my regular day off this year, I went all out and made Sak a cake! Well, the cake itself was just boxed chocolate mix, but the icing took a lot of effort, so that counts for something!

I used this Hatsune Miku cake tutorial, which is really well done and tells you just about everything you need to know.  I suggest you check it out, there's a video too!

But here's how my experience went in any case!

I started by tracing an image onto the non waxy side of some freezer paper.  I used the bottom of the cake pan as a guide for how big to make the circle.
Flipped over, trimmed and taped to the inside of a pan.  Make sure this pan will fit in your freezer. I had to do some serious rearranging to jam it in =_=...
For the outline, I melted some fancy Guittard's chocolate chips that Sak had won from a white elephant exchange earlier.
Roll more freezer paper into a tube for piping.  This was kinda difficult because the melted choco was like a million degrees hot and intricate piping with oven mitts is near impossible.  I'd try and wait for the choco to cool a bit first if I did this again.
Freeze.  I used the leftover choco in a cute ichibankan mold :)
Next, whip cream!  The instructions said to use half dairy and half non-dairy whipping cream.  This is because dairy whipped cream doesn't hold its shape very long. I could not, however, find non-dairy whipping cream at Safeway or Trader Joe's.  So I used cool whip.  That's kinda non-dairy.  The other half I whipped from regular heavy whipping cream.  Since the cool whip is already sweetened, I didn't add a whole lot of sugar to the mixture.
Separate and use food coloring to dye batches of the cream as needed.  Keep everything in the fridge to keep it from melting.
Greeeen.  Between each color freeze for five minutes or so to keep the colors from mixing.
Whip cream the cake.  I put it on a foil covered pizza tray because I don't have a cake platter :P
And the moment of truth! Flip the frozen whip cream image over onto the cake, and peel off the freezer paper.

Add cream to cover the edges. Done.
Soooo cuuuuteeeee.

If I have one major flaw though - it's that I didn't apply the whip cream very evenly.  Thus, when I flipped it onto the cake, parts with thin whip cream "sunk".
The other major flaw (that my sister pointed out), is that I screwed up Kero's face.  The bottom part is supposed to be white, not green.  I'm so ashamed. >.>" lol.

But I'm still very happy with it overall! I stuck it in the freezer for a good 30 minutes or so just to make sure it'd stay in one piece, and then in the fridge whenever we weren't eating it.  It was pretty tasty, and I got to share leftovers with my sis and parents too!

If I ever had the time, I'd make another cake.  It's such an interesting method, and whip cream is the *best* tasting frosting there is. I definitely recommend checking out the link above! They have a roll cake recipe I want to try next.

And yes, Sak did like the cake.  Though I think he liked the spareribs we ate for dinner just as much, if not more. :P Cake just can't compete with a good slice of meat I suppose.

Friday, February 14, 2014

V-Day Card 2k14

Ah, Valentine's day. Ever cheesy, but I kind of love all the pink and red and cutesy hearts! I'm being ambitious and thinking of cooking something for Sak today, but if that doesn't work out we'll get some fancy take-out or something.

I knew I wanted to use more of my plastic shrinky dink film for this year's card, so I made a little panda graphic, printed, cut, baked and glazed.
I ended up not making very many though. Charms are a lot more work than they look! Fixing all the jump rings on to attach it to the strap proved the most tedious part.
I love how they came out though, so fun!  I glazed it with clear nail polish, so hopefully it won't yellow like resin.

The base of the card is cuttlebug embossed, and a short message is glued to the back.
With that metal bump from the strap, they didn't all make it unscathed through the mail sorter.  My sister's envelope was all torn up at least.

Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day with your loved one - or a flirty eye encounter with a cute stranger if you're not in a relationship! Ha! I guess you could have a flirty eye encounter with your spouse too, but whenever I try that Sak just thinks I'm being weird.