dooke's noo yeer rezolooshuns




I needs to find the motivashun on Valerie Bertenelli 'an loose some weight off me backside. Does they has Jenny Craig for dogz?

Maybe I'z juz needs to get off the couch sum bits. But I really, really likes layin' arounds with Veto and snuggleing.

I knows I'z needs to cuts back on all kinds of little cakes. I'z needs Saucy's support on this one. She shud not be makun' delishus cakes and flauntin' them in front of me all the time. Iz almost impossible fur me to rezist.

I suppose I'z also need to not be like a lapdog. Sum peeple don' like it when I sleep on their heds... but I lurrves sleepin' on Veto's lap:

I think my big resolooshuns will juz be to cut back on little cakes, use less lap spaces, an maybe wurk on me spellings and sentense strucures. 


Veto took Saucy an' Loopy to see Up In The Air with that George Clooney. I'z kept charge uf the house while they were out and stared at the door the whole time. It kind of boring for me but they got back an' Saucy tellz me to tellz you it wuz good enuf for five little cakes.

Yoo see what I meen? She always puttin' little cakes all over the place. Sum things will be not possible. 

Happy Noo Yeer!
Lurrves,

Dooke

the gang's all here


Well, almost. I found the candy Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer cupcake toppers at Micheals but they didn't include some of the misfit toys: the polka dotted elephant or the sobbing rag doll.


But Rudolph was a crowd pleaser on Christmas Eve, on top of a red velvet cupcake filled with whipped chocolate buttercream and nestled in my special frosting recipe on top.


Notice I used less frosting on these little cakes. This recipe is so rich, just a little bit will do the trick. I frosted them using my Wilton 1A tip - my go to tip.


Clarice looks adorable popped on the light blue buttercream.



Didn't this little guy want to be a dentist?  How ironic, he's now a sugar figure, set atop a pile of... sugar.


Here is the special recipe:

1 and 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
4 egg whites, at room temperature (large are best)
1 and 1/2 lbs (6 sticks) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
Pinch of salt

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix together the water and sugar until it reaches 144 degrees on a candy thermometer.

While the sugar mixture is heating, use your stand mixer with a whisk attachment to beat the egg whites with the salt on medium speed until they are frothy, but not yet stiff to the point where they form peaks).

Turn the mixer to high speed and slowly pour the sugar syrup into the lightly beaten egg whites. The important part here is that your sugar syrup is 144 degrees F - it will cook the egg whites gently as you mix them on high speed.

Turn the mixer speed down to medium and let the mixture slowly cool.  Turn off the mixer when the egg whites are stiff and firm peaks are forming.

Let the entire mixture cool to room temperature - very important - you can't rush this part, either. Resist the temptation to chill your egg whites.  

When you are absolutely sure that the egg whites are cool, turn the mixer back on to medium speed and gradually add the room-temperature butter to the mixture, chunks at a time. The mixture will begin to thicken and become the consistency of high-quality buttercream.

I like to use this recipe for very special occasion frosting jobs - Christmas, wedding cakes, occasions like that. First of all, the butter alone is very expensive, and for this recipe, you really need to use the unsalted butter... and then add just a pinch. Otherwise, salted butter will make this frosting just too salty. This is a smooth, buttery frosting that is not to sweet - but it's an artery clogger... so use it sparingly.

white tree


Last night I had the house to myself, everyone was out so I was a whirling dirvish of productivity - I set up the white tree in the back hall and plastered it with my mercury glass collection. All of the funny ornaments from over the years - I like the trip down memory lane.

While I don't mind them on the white tree, I prefer them on the flocked tree like I did last year.


Next year, I'm going to put these ornaments back on the flocked tree where they look best and put the wedding tree decorations on this white tree.  I also have a few more decorations to show you... all in good time. Tomorrow will be filled with cooking and baking, last minute wrapping, our family celebration over at The Fan and The Secret Weapon's... until we meet again: Happy Holidays, have a very Merry Christmas. We will chat before the new year.

red and green (with a twist of lime)


Yes, I absolutely managed to decorate the house yesterday and today. By process of elimination, the theme ended up being red and green with some lime green thrown in for good measure, just because I had it all on hand from other projects.


If you recognize those glittered words from the dollar bins at Michael's you're right.


If you recognize the crazy garlands and the floral picks from the Dollarama, you're also right.


If you recognize the funky sayings like "Let it snow" and "ho ho ho" from Giant Tiger, you're right again.


If I find the time, I'm going to tie some lime green ribbons around the necks of my apothecary jars.






Before it was all finished and styled, it looked like a tornado hit the house. Boxes and Tupperware were opened everywhere, with me mixing and matching whatever I could to make it all work together.


Some red lights, some green. Some of the red lights are so old, they're starting to look pink.



Those are really the best shots I can get of the living room. When you get right down to it, our house is pretty dark. Old houses have small windows - and while I love having lots of wall space for hanging art, in the winter there isn't enough light to get good photographs without a flash... and I hate to use my flash, don't you?

school santa


Ten years ago this month, I completed my practice teaching internship - at the same school that I am now coaching Loopy's Cheerios. It also happens to be the same high school that I graduated from, and both of my brothers. You could say my blood bleeds green and gold. 

I was blessed with an exceptional mentor teacher to guide me through the internship process, which at that time was so incredibly rigorous. To this day I still consider her a valued mentor and dear friend. She is one of the special people who dabbled in the matchmaking between Veto and I.  We both owe her so very much. 

At the end of the internship, I presented her with a St. Nicholas that I made for her in the theme of the school. When I mentioned to another teacher on staff that it was in the works, she was aghast - the school colours being green and gold (check out the Cheerio uniforms on the post below for an idea), but I wanted to interpret them another way.

You can see that after The Secret Weapon helped me build the body for St. Nick, I outfitted him in a velvet cloak of dark forest green and underneath he wears a velvet robe of old gold. I found green cord with gold accent to tie his sash.


I left no detail to chance... this had to be a special gift. I lined the cloak with gold lame, and trimmed it with faux fur but added the gold piping by hand. I've mentioned before, I'm not much of a seamstress, but for some reason I can manage to dress these Santas. I even made the pattern for his robe myself. Check out the train of his cloak, it's embroidered with the school letters.


In the sack on his back, he carries a teddy bear (a nod to the school "Bears" school mascot) and vintage green and yellow ochre paint tubes along with some green handled vintage paintbrushes that I dabbed with green and gold paint. Look closely and you can see another teddy in the sack, a golden one nestled behind the cinnamon sticks.

I could think of nothing more appropriate to gift such a special person with at Christmas to mark the end of my professional training together. I was tickled to visit her home this weekend, where he was on display all these years later. It was a gift from the heart, something she can enjoy no matter where she is teaching over the years... she can remember her time at a very special school where she not only helped a young teacher realize her dreams, she made a friend for life. 

christmas brights

I have three bright and cheerful pictures to show you:


I had a little cupcake plan... so I made one batch of chocolate and one batch of vanilla confetti each and put them in these ad.or.ab.le boxes. Aren't the bright colours just fun, funky and festive? Who knew lime green could be a holiday colour?


Lime green, it turns out, is the perfect colour for a wedding... Sassy and McDreamy's wedding last summer! I've been working on this bracelet for her pretty much since the event itself but I finally got my hands on the finishing touches this fall, including The Sprout. He was hard to track down.


My last bright and cheerful picture this week... the Cheerios in their new uniforms for the first time. Aren't they about the cutest bunch you've ever seen? These are happy, happy kids.

no trees, just tees

To not have a single Christmas tree in this house by this date mortifies me. How on earth did this happen? Is this the end of the world as we know it?

Not the end of the world, I'm overreacting. It's just the end of Christmas. But I did manage to ship off the last of the Christmas parcels and Etsy orders, the Cheerios uniforms are crested and ready (and so cute!) and I got busy and designed the team tee shirts.



I popped all of the designs up on CafePress.com and the team can order whatever design they like. I'm trying to think up a cute slogan for a shirt for myself too but nothing is really appropriate. If you don't believe me, have a look at this, this, this and this.

So, if you have any ideas, please fire them my way. I want something cute and funny, and most of all, tasteful. I'm really trying to set a good example. If I can't lead the way in holiday decorating, at least I can try to be an inspiring coach.

shopping for teen girls

I think that The Fan always had a fun time shopping for me when I was Loopy's age. Now, I find it more fun to shop for Loopy than for myself. While I was Christmas shopping, it was easy to spot things I thought she might like.

She fell in lurrve with this frock at the Betsey Johnson store in Chicago over the summer. It was way out of our budget. I think she was entranced by the way it was merchandised in the window: with a pink and white striped tee underneath, and layered with a tulle crinoline under the very poufy skirt. It was a bit of a ghastly creation that could only be appreciated by the eye of a fourteen year old girl.


Since she has no place to wear such a getup (and remember, there is a distinction between outfit and getup), and of course the price point... pass.


Since she lurrves all things Betsey Johnson, I kept an eye out for it. A Betsey Johnson charm bracelet? Again, if the price were right.



The price wasn't great on these Williams-Sonoma hot chocolate shavings. They melt smoothly and heavenly into warm milk and after a sample in the store yesterday, she was hooked. I slipped some into my order, but she found me out - so much for that surprise. She knows that I have them.


These Tokidoki rain boots would match her school bag perfectly. I sort of sashayed her past them casually in the store and she passed the comment that it might be "too much" together... thus reigning me in yet again. When have I ever thought "too much" to be "too much?"

Oh, but her lurrve of Jonas endures. If we could possibly lock-and-load a copy of the new DS Lite game for her, that would be a surefire hit.



She eyeballed this 2010 calendar at the bookstore. I didn't want to buy it right in front of her, so I might have to go back and see if it is still there.
A Jonas Brothers camera? Well, she has a nice little pink Canon camera so this would be redundant but you know that it caught my eye, you know it did. But I passed.



She would adore a little tee from the Jonas merchandise fan page. I fear I have left it too long to order online. Perhaps for her birthday in February.



To decorate her new bathroom (I've painted it and the fixtures are now being installed), what about a cute Juicy Couture gumball machine?



... or these fabulous G&P limited edition Barbie dolls for Juicy Couture. Oh, sorry Loopy... these would be more for me than for you, so I restrained myself. I do lurrve a good Barbie doll.

Of all the cheerleading shirts available on CafePress.com, this one is perfect for Loopy.

She's been eyeing up mini plaid kilts like these for some time... we have one that belonged to The Fan (it's a Mary Quant), vintage from the 60's, and I'd rather she had something a little more kid-friendly to wear at school with her leggings and boots. 

Well, mothers of teen girls... is it tricky to come up with just the right gift? Do your daughters come right out and ask for things, or like Loopy, do they just wistfully admire something in the store and never think of it again when quizzed by well-meaning relatives? Because I swear, at this moment, if you asked Loopy what is on her Christmas wish list, it would be... "um, I don't know, whatever... surprise me".

So, Dear Loopy, I hope you enjoy the hot chocolate and the Snuggie.