words of advice

Today was Loopy's first day of high school. She's had her bookbag packed for weeks, her pencils sharpened, her paper carefully counted into equal parts between the dividers in her binder. I admit, sometimes there are perks to having a child with Asperger's Syndrome. On the downside, the idea of a radical change in surroundings, school mates and schedule was overwhelming for her. I'd be lying if I said our weekend wasn't full of trepidation, nerves and much parental cajoling.

I've doled out all of the possible advice I could think of over the past year to help her get mentally prepared for this new environment known as high school. 

This morning, Buddy rolled out of bed - an early morning for a university student - and took her to school with me. He really wanted to see her walk through the doors of his old school for the first time, and she was reassured that he came along for the ride. Before she parted, he summarized an entire summer's worth of advice by saying something along the lines of, "remember, don't buy into the crap."

And that was it. She was off. Not buying into any of the crap.

Reader, this is your chance. What advice do you have for Loopy as her high school years begin? Please, feel free to elaborate more than Buddy Budderson did.

vera wang rock princess

Have you heard about the new Vera Wang scent, Rock Princess? It's available for a limited time only. Loopy was available for a limited time only to do a photo shoot.

The new scent is dark, fruity and musky. We decided that Loopy's grade eight farewell frock fit the bill. We added the gloves, the boots, the tiara, and the wings.

Loopy especially was into wearing the black feathered wings. We were shooting downtown, on the site of a recently torn down building. Near the end of the shoot we were approached by... how shall I put this... an unsavory character... who was under the influence. Loopy's reaction was priceless.

It was kind of sad when he backed away from her, with his arms up... telling "the Angel of Death" to have a wonderful evening... but it was a little funny, too.

Nobody ever said that models couldn't have a sense of humour. 

I scored the little top hat last year after the holidays. Did you know that little top hats are coming back in style? When were they ever in style?

Vera Wang didn't advertise her new scent very much. What do you think, should we just let her use these shots of Loopy?

charm swaps are FULL!

And now, my friends, it is time for you to start crafting! 

I will send out an email with full details for you but here is some information to get you going:

Now that you have purchased your "kit", you will have to set about making twelve identical little Halloween charms. You can visit my flickr page and look at some of the bracelets made for other swaps.

The "Rules of Charming"
For Online Swaps and Charm Parties Both!
  • Try to keep your charms 1" in size and under. 
  • The bracelet I will be sending in your kit will be silver-tone, so you will want to use silver-tone loops and rings on your creations.
  • Charms may be made of metal, polymer clay, wood (if it is sealed), fused glass, plastic, or beads.
  • Avoid making or using anything very breakable or sharp edges. Remember, it's going on a wrist!
  • If you put jump rings or split rings on your charms, that would make things easier for your swap friends (and you) when they get their kits.
  • Lastly, package your charms safely (bubble wrap) and mail them off. Don't worry about wrapping each charm in a fancy little box... the "kit" will be some sort of bubble mailer to keep things safe, so it would be best to put your charms into tiny ziploc bags or cello bags, something like that.
And just a little hint, hint... holiday earrings make fantastic charms! Plus, you get two for the price of one! Sometimes they just have to be taken off the earring finding and put on a split ring. You might want to jazz them up with a rhinestone or some paint, but how easy is that??

Your set of twelve charms must be mailed to me by Monday, September 21st. That gives you three weeks to create your charms. I will send out an email with my shipping address and some instructions. 

Lastly, friends: swaps only work out if everyone keeps up their end of the bargain. I'll make sure you get your kits in time to assemble and wear for Halloween, but goodness gracious, that's counting on everyone sending me their charms on time. 

Have fun... and happy charming to you!  You can grab a button from my sidebar to display on your blog if you like.

I am now opening this post to comments. If you belong to this swap, leave a comment with a link to your blog if you have one. That way, we can all get to know each other... it makes swapping infinitely more fun!


party announcement and a swap announcement!

Local readers, it's time to make charm bracelets!

We've set the date... so mark your calendar, email Saucy to register, and set about making twelve cute and clever charms with a Halloween theme. We'll do the rest.

Sassy and I will provide the charm bracelets, toggle clasps, filler charms and maybe the most important part: lunch.

You know, there was lots of boo-hooing when we hosted the charm parties for Christmas and Valentine's Day. So many readers were sad they couldn't come all the way to Canada to take part. So, do you live too far away to come and play jewelry-making with us?

Leave a comment if you think a charm swap would be of interest to you. The concept would be similar to Amy's Club Little House but instead of making a twelve dollhouse littles, you would make (or buy) a set of identical charms suitable for a Halloween bracelet. You'd mail them to me and I would assemble twelve kits (including a bracelet, one of each charm, clasp, filler charms and split rings) to mail back to you in time to put it together and dazzle your friends at Halloween. There would be tutorial posts on this blog to help you plan your contribution and assemble your bracelet.

There would be a fee to cover the cost of materials at this end and shipping the finished kit back to you ($20.00 US). Given time constraints, we will have to limit this swap to participants in Canada and the US only.  If it works out, we can have an international charm bracelet swap at Christmas. This is sort of a test-run... leave a comment if this sounds like something you'd like to take part in and I will make a game plan if there is enough interest.

the face of destruction

Deer Dad,

Wuntz again I iz so sorry an here I am makin more apologeez for the bad thingz I duz. I iz so, so, sorry about chewin on your nice new sunglasses, the onez you just got there a while back ago.

I new I wuz in trubble juz the minnit you took Mum on that bookstore date together you had an then you came outta there with more of those Jonas Bruthers magizenes for Loopy an, I know, I wuz only in your car for that cupple of minnits, but I juz couldn't help myself, juz like them little cakes of Mums... I juzt had no resistence whatsoevers.

Anyways, how nice wuz that lady at the Sunglass Hut, makin' good on her promise to replace them glasses if somthin bad happenz in the first ninety days and here we are, lucky for me, an I don even know how many ninety iz but I iz thinkin' iz my lucky number.

P.S. It wuz the Sunglass Hut in Midtown Plaza, an Dad, yooze iz so smart to shop there, an now we know why.

Sneak preview of the latest Loopy photo shoot: I relinquished the camera to Loopy's father, The Plaintiff (a professional photographer) for this shoot. I was still the stylist, wardrobe matron and makeup artist. Loopy had her hair done at Andrew's earlier in the day... yes, those are bangs.

Veto and Duke swung by after they hit the Sunglass Hut, we were shooting on the site of the former Folk's Finer Furs across from the mall. And yes, the Sunglass Hut did indeed replace Veto's shades under their 90-day "no hassle" warranty policy. Duke's next note: a letter of thanks to the Sunglass Hut. They saved his life.

blueberry gelato... without an ice cream maker?

You can make Italian gelato with or without an ice cream maker. I only got an ice cream maker about two years ago... that's another story for another post... or maybe I will tell you.

Regardless, if you don't have an ice cream maker or you buy one from Canadian Tire that is missing its paddle, you can follow these simple directions.

In a saucepan, place:

2 cups fresh clean blueberries (approximately one pound)
1/2 cup sugar
juice from one lemon
2 tablespoons water

Cook over low heat, stirring very gently as to not squish the berries. They will cook slowly and be ready to remove from the heat when they are dark and shiny and all of the sugar granules are gone.

Let the mixture cool to room temperature and add the zested peel of the lemon you juiced for the mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge to chill.

In a heavy pan, place two cups whole (full fat) milk over low heat. Meanwhile, stir 2 tablespoons corn starch into one cup of the cold milk. When the milk in the pan is warm to the touch and bubbles are forming around the edge of the pan, add the cold milk mixture and continue to cook it slowly, stirring constantly. Be careful not to scald the milk. This process with thicken the milk slowly as the corn starch cooks, but it will not be as thick as say, custard. 

Continue cooking the milk mixture over low-to-medium heat, stirring constantly until you can see it thickening. A good test for doneness would be to dip a spoon into the warm milk. If you pull the spoon out and it has a thin layer of milk on it, you're finished. If it runs off like milk from a cereal spoon, keep cooking it.

Remove the pan from the heat and pour mixture into a glass bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

The next day, remove the cooked berries from the fridge. Add two tablespoons of gin to the mixture. You can omit this step if you have an ice cream machine. The alcohol in the gin prevents crystals from forming during freezing. Plus, it adds a little nip, and that can't be all bad. So, even if you have a machine, what the heck. Add it.

Don't worry about giving this gelato to children. My Granny gave me gin all the time, and I turnide uot fyne!

Now, blend 2/3 of the berries-in-gin until smooth, reserving 1/3 of the mixture as whole berries. Add all of the berries, blended and whole, to the cold milk mixture.

If you have an ice cream machine, you can now freeze the gelato according to the directions on your appliance.

If you are sans ice cream maker, pour the mixture into a baking pan (a 9x12 cake pan would work well) and place it in the freezer. Using a whisk, break the mixture up and give it a good stir every twenty minutes or so for about two hours, making sure there are no lumps or crystals. 

I must confess, I was gifted an ice cream maker from Canadian Tire. The paddle broke the first time I used it so I took it back. I was told they wouldn't replace it for me because I had no receipt... hello... it was a gift.  Arguing was pointless, even though I gave it a good try.

So, baby did a bad, bad thing.  What did baby do?

I went to the appliance department, picked out the same ice cream maker, and bought it. I took it straight to the car, switched out the paddles, and then I returned one of them... you get my drift... with a receipt.

I'm only telling you this because it was time to come clean, even at my own peril. My conscious is now clean.

Oh, and I look absolutely fetching in orange jumpsuits, anyway.


Being as smitten as I am with the necklaces at Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters, I decided to take matters into my own hands and come up with a few of them on my own... at a fraction of the price.

For this project, I gathered some fabric floral hair pins and brooches from the dollar rack at Claire's. Two packs of pins and two contrasting brooches: three dollars. Felt, thread and ribbon from my stash.

I happened to have some pinky/flesh toned felt on hand. Felt works nicely for the bib because it is soft against your skin.

Seriously! Linda sent this lovely embellished crystal my way last month and it's so pretty, I'd like to have it on my person all the time. This will do the trick. I simply tied it to the bib and then I stitched it in place, just to ensure it won't fall off, say, if I start dancing in the street or some such nonsense.

This is almost a no-sew project, because I used the flowers on their clips and pins. Why the hell not? If I tire of the necklace, nothing lost. I can still use the pins, and that lovely crystal can still hang in my craft room.

Some of you wondered how Veto's cake turned out:

It sliced up beautifully. I removed it from the freezer about ten minutes before serving and cut it with a serrated knife dipped in hot water:

I must be entering some extremely lazy, no-bake, no-sew phase or something. Stick with me. This could get interesting.

cake, glorious cake

You'll want to learn how to make this icebox cake, Loopy put it together for Veto's birthday... which just happens to be today. I'll tell you what you'll need and how to put it together after I tell you about Inglorious Basterds.

Friends, this may not be the movie for you. I'm warning you up front. Quentin Tarantino is known for a particular genre of movie... how shall I put this... how to describe... violent retro campy gore? That should do it.

That didn't prevent the movie theatre from being sold out on Friday night. We got Veto's birthday weekend off to start at the late show, it was Buddy Budderson's treat. Don't panic, we left Loopy at home. 

If you aren't familiar with Kill Bill or Pulp Fiction, know this: Tarantino lurrves his fake blood like Saucy likes her frosting... in abundance. Set in Nazi-occupied France, I expected what Veto calls "a real killin' show" and that is exactly what it was. You know I'm not about spoiling too much in my cupcake reviews for you, I just want to give you the heads-up. It's a little grisly in spots, but completely fascinating, if you can stand the gore. There are some decent laughs, too. Who would have thought?

If I said the phrase, "spaghetti western" to you, it's sort of like that. You know, the old movies about the American wild west that were made in the 1970's, usually in Italy? This is sort of a "macaroni combat" movie...

I'll tell you how I sit through the killing parts in shows like this: focus on a spot on the screen or even pick the back of somebody's head sitting in front of you. When the gore starts, stare only at that spot until you hear the "eeeeewwwws" subside. Don't flinch. You might need to count in your head. That is how I stay calm, cool and collected at guy movies.

You should see this movie if you like "killin' shows" (I highly doubt that is your genre of choice) or at the very least, if you like to see the shows that might be nominated for Academy Awards. Pay particular attention to the performance of Christoph Waltz as SS Captain Landa. His performance was so good, I will give Inglourious Basterds four and a half cupcakes.

Now... the cake. Visit your grocer's freezer section and find 20-24 ice cream sandwiches and a pint of chocolate ice cream.  You will also need about six cups of whipped cream, crushed cookies (we used Oreo wafers), some chocolate sauce and parchment paper.

Line a 9x12" baking pan with parchment paper, making sure the edges of the paper extend over the sides of the pan, so that you will be able to pull the cake out of the pan later. 

Check out Loopy, placing one layer of ice-cream sandwiches on the base of the pan. Her Jonas water bottle was full in case she got thirsty.

We softened the chocolate ice cream a bit and scooped it onto the bottom layer. It was hard to work quickly enough so we put it in the freezer every once and a while. During our break time, we sampled the melting ice cream.

On top of the ice cream, we spread a layer of crushed cookies.

Feeling artsy, we drizzled that layer with chocolate sauce. No reason. We just really like chocolate.

Next up: a layer of whipped cream...

... all over. This step is important because it will be the "glue" that holds the layers together.

Working quickly: add a second layer of ice cream sandwiches. We had exactly two leftover, imagine that. After they are all patted into place, pop the pan in the freezer again. Leave for at least one hour.

Here, we decided to cut that bad-boy in half. We had an idea to stack it.

I prepared my square serving tray by putting parchment paper on it.

We clumsily stacked the two pieces of frozen "cake" onto the tray and placed it on the cleared shelf in the freezer. We left it overnight at this point.

Finally, we "frosted" our creation with the last of the whipped cream, filling in those crooked spots and pieces that didn't meet. Whipped cream is so forgiving like that! I sprinkled the last of the cookie crumbs on the top and popped it back into the freezer. This cake isn't about being fancy, it is about trying to put as many of Veto's favourite things into one dessert if possible.

Do you think Veto will lurrve it? Do you think I should thaw it slightly before cutting and serving it? Would you use a knife dipped in hot water to cut it? 

Perhaps you think it will be a fine birthday treat for Veto: the butter to my bread, the frosting to my cupcake, who is loved more than anything, and all you want to do is leave a birthday greeting for him, right here.

prizes and a movie review

I am finally sending out the prizes for my seven clever questions giveaway today. The OCD part of me was waiting for all of the mailing addresses so I could send them at once, I like to do things that way. The winners are getting a polymer clay sculpted cupcake necklace in a sprinkles zipper wallet! How perfect is that? The tutorial for the polymer clay cupcakes can be found in my left sidebar.

I'm buried under a few projects. I'm writing some reports for a friend and trying to upload them to her server. Veto's birthday is coming up so I was pulling recipes out late last night. I need to get over to help Sassy with Photoshop. Today Loopy has to get caught up on her summer math program, I think we fell behind a bit... for no reason except I think I was just being a little slack. Last night she and I managed a little break from all the hubbub and slipped out to get a few school supplies... she just lurrves shopping for school supplies... and we saw the new almost-Disney pic, Band Slam.

I mean, I think it is Disney-related. It has Disney stars in it with a few unknowns, and Lisa Kudrow from Friends. I was really expecting something very, very Disney. Even now, I don't quite know how to cupcake review it for you. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I don't even know if the producers of the movie know how they themselves feel about it. 

Exhibit A:

Note the movie release date. It's all over the internet and in the trailers and on the poster. And yet, it was released last weekend. Have you seen many television ads for this show? Is that why there were only twelve people in the theatre? The two of us and a big group of high school kids right behind us?

Exhibit B:

Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical fame is not the main character in the movie, but some of the posters feature her. Obviously it was an attempt to lure in the HSM followers.

Exhibit C:

At this point I am thinking that it wasn't even supposed to be called Band Slam. Check out the cast list on this one: David Bowie, as himself. But they decided to market it a little more like High School Musical, and this is what they did with it:

Exhibit D:

Ummmm... reminiscent of anything? The only thing that would make this look more like HSM would be if it were red, black and white!

Exhibit E:

Gah. I bet Vanessa Hudgens threw up a little bit in the back of her mouth when she saw this. Still, it's no High School Musical. Her character is an obvious departure from the one that made her so famous, but don't take anyone under, say, twelve. It's still pretty Disney-powered. The band Honor Society appears on the soundtrack courtesy of Jonas Records. Oh, that's why Loopy wanted to see it. Now I get it.

Maybe they should have stuck with their original, edgy promotion. It looks less slick, more rock and roll. However, the group of teens sitting behind us loved it. They clapped along to the music and they good-heckled it. Good-heckling, you know, the kind that doesn't annoy the other two people in the theatre.

I don't know if Band Slam rocked my socks off or not. It was a little long. It was a little interesting. It was a little lost. The music was good. 

This is the poster that might have sold it for me all the way. I'm going to give it three and a half cupcakes, because where it could have been predictable, it wasn't. It lost one and a half cupcakes, because where it could have been predictable, it was. Rent it some fall evening when your teenager has a bad day. Serve with popcorn, soda and chocolate.

Tomorrow: a sweet tutorial. After that: a game.