Sunday, May 30, 2010

Amanda's 2: Part II

Sixteen hours without sitting...that was my day yesterday. I came home with a backache--every bone in my body tired but a happy tired? The culmination of several months work felt great. And even though after set-up, I usually prefer to remain behind the scenes (usually prepping food in the kitchen), I did venture out several times to sneak glimpses of guests enjoying themselves (Georgia was there, too!). And it was impossible not to miss the smile on the birthday girl's dimpled little face, her ringlets shaking with laughter--making it all so worth it.

Amanda's Two!
Theme: "Every Animal in the Kingdom"
Decorations: Animal ribbon garland for the windows, printed animal shape pillows, mega balloons suspended from fabric sacks

Party Favor: Felt tic-tac-toe game with hand sewn animals

Salty Snacks: Thai coxinha, bruschetta (goat cheese with pear chutney, tomato-basil, and brie with fig chutney), salty sweet pies on a stick (ham and cheese with guava compote), mini cheeseburgers, pão de queijo, mini pizzas, pumpkin kibbeh balls, finger sandwiches (tuna salad and hummus with cucumber and olive paté), carne louca (seasoned and shredded beef on mini french bread)

Sweets: 10 kilos of chocolate cake with plum/caramel filling and fondant animals sitting on dark chocolate shavings, white and milk chocolate lace lollipops, choco-dipped cookies, brigadeiros, beijinhos de coco (little coconut kiss candies), cut out animal cookies, and chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with chocolate ganache and buttercream frosting

And if the food wasn't enough to keep guests merry? The adults got to sip more than a dozen types of mixed fruit capirinhas while the kids watched a puppet show and played dress up from a rack of costumes and basket of animal ears.

Whew! What a party! Happy Birthday dear Amanda!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Amanda's 2: Part 1

I have been rather negligent on my blogging (and many other things). My "to do" list seems insurmountable but I am getting there. Tomorrow is Amanda's big party. And we are on schedule. Today I had to deliver some treats for her school fiesta. Amanda is a classmate of Georgia. Rumor has it Georgia told everyone in school she made the cupcakes and Mommy made the sandwiches!

I hope the party was fun! Looking forward to tomorrow. xo

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sense of Humor

Why it is necessary to have a sense of humor the week of a big event:

1. Tempering chocolate is temperamental. Why does it have to cool to 84 degrees Fahrenheit and not 85? Do you want lollipop swirls that droop or snap?

2. Never reduce the vinegar in a fig chutney the same day you are melting chocolate. One doesn't need to be pregnant to feel nauseous. (Those they linger!)

3. Why do our children usually get sick (and have to stay home from school) on our busiest weeks. Administer medicine and multi-task....remain calm.

And, well, without getting too descriptive here. What is it with air and subsequent pregnancies? My belly grows from 3 months to nine months as the hours in the day pass. Apparently the uterus is more than ready (upon conception) second time around. It immediately swells up to accommodate a big baby (when your babe is still only the size of a mini chocolate bar). And the rest of junior's motor home? It fills with air. And it is not the of the "I'm feeling a little bloated" variety. I look like I should have my hospital bag packed. And I feel...well...yeah....obviously....

So as I continue cooking and sewing, I try to laugh--in spite of it all! Popsicles and pickles seem to boost the spirits.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Blocks Tumble

The weekend was quiet. We barely left the house, hiding like the sun. Coughs and gray drizzle left time to bake pies, build castles, and contemplate.

What I noticed in the solitude of our weekend:

1. How much our personalities are formed by our DNA and our friends. Georgia, at two, prefers long, hot showers (fingertips = raisins) like her Mommy. We have a little battle over the steamy spray. "Excuse me, Mommy. Georgia put water on Georgia back now." (And she doesn't move!) She sleeps like her Daddy, squeezing her toes rhythmically and wiggling her feet back and forth. She also needs to hug two pillows. And the influence of school chums? "Georgia button sweater like Vivi." "Georgia carry purse like Isadora."

2. The pregnancy hormones have me hibernating. I am not exactly a pleasant person. And since I am not feeling sweet, I am baking pies for people in compensation.

Castles made of blocks fall easily. And so do I. Emotions are at an all time high. Forgive me family, friends, and husband (most of all). I'm certain to be standing strong soon.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Behind the scenes

Had to put together a sampler for a luxury retail store. Decided it was best keep the sprinkles in the cupboard--focus on flavor and grace.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I don't consider myself a vain person--for good and for bad. I usually look in the mirror while brushing my teeth in the morning and not again the rest of the day (again...for good and for bad).

But after a really stressful couple of weeks and the mounting bloated feeling of pregnancy (no waist and no major bump to rub in compensation), I started to feel like I might need to treat myself to some tender loving feel pretty. Because, I don't.

And that is when I realized how lax I had really become. My hairdresser told me I hadn't been there since November. And when I treated myself to a massage (yes, I did.), Tati reminded me I hadn't had one in two years. (She also told me that my back was full of knots and my skin dry as scales.) And while I know there are people who have never had a massage in their life, others have one weekly. And I think I deserve to be somewhere in between.

The good news? I woke up feeling slightly less hormonal (okay, cranky) this morning, I decided that the pampering yesterday was very helpful, indeed. So herein lies my new list of "small ways that I must take care of myself during the remainder of my pregnancy":

1. Put cream on expanding belly every night--even if Georgia insists on putting the stuff in gobs all over herself (hair included), too. No matter if we both sleep like fried eggs under the covers. Here is what I used in my first pregnancy. It's cheap. And it works (stretch marks).
2. Before shower use a natural brush on bare dry skin in circular motions to "de-scale." Can I tell you this really works wonders for dry skin and circulation? I used to do it.
3. Drink more water. The doctor tells me my urine should be colorless. It isn't. I am a bit lazy to go to the bathroom even more than I already do. But it is important.
4. Walk. Walk. Walk. I am still pretty good about this. I don't know if I will make 18 kilometers the week I give birth like last time....but if I can walk around the neighborhood several times, I'll be happy.
5. Stretch. I am not teaching anymore. I am not stretching anymore. I'm tight all over. I'm thinking of finding a toddler yoga video and enlisting my daughter. What else can we do at 6:30 am? It really is much better than watching Sponge Bob again.

Now if I can just do those five things and, perhaps, find my "cave woman self" inside the salon now and again, I'll be good to go.

Vain? Maybe a little.


Forget the felt flags. (And I know that garlands are being done and done and done.) But these gorgeous light reflecting strands of stained glass and soldered mirrors are the perfect piece to build your party decorations around. The rest...merely keep it simple.

Artist Pamela Angus
works in her snow buried studio in the French Alps. Must be all that light...all that white.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Born to be a Ballerina

Bailarina - Palavra Cantada

Pisar no chão com a ponta do pé
Tocar o céu com a palma da mão
Manter ereta a postura
Amolecer a cintura
Balé precisa de dedicação

O bê-a-bá é pas de bourrée
Depois vem o pas de deux, dois plier
Nasci pra ser bailarina
É só por a sapatilha
Já sinto bater o meu coração

Papai um dia me deu um conselho
Treinar sozinha na frente do espelho
Às vezes sonho que estou dando um salto
E caio bem no meio de um palco

Tocar o céu com a ponta do pé
Pisar no chão com a palma da mão
Com longos alongamentos
O corpo é um instrumento
Balé precisa de dedicação

English Translation: Ballerina

Stepping on the floor with the tips of my toes
Touching the sky with the palm of my hand
Maintain an upright posture
Soften the waist
Ballet needs dedication

Be-a-bah is pas de bourrée
Then comes the pas de deux, two plies
Born to be a ballerina
I only have to put on the slippers
Already I feel my heart beat

Daddy gave me some advice one day
Train alone in front of the mirror
Sometimes I dream I'm taking a leap
And I fall right in the middle of a stage

Touching the sky with the tip of my toes
Stepping on the floor with the palm of my hand
With long stretches
The body is an instrument
Ballet needs dedication

I imagine I felt the same as most new moms after they bring their sweet smelling bundle home from the hospital--scared and unsure what to do. But most of all wondering if the nurses sent home the wrong infant. Because my baby didn't cry at the hospital. And Georgia. Well she didn't stop crying. Naturally, I tried holding her in every position. I paced the living room with her in my arms. I sang. I breastfed (and breastfed and breastfed....). I inserted a pacifier. I put a warm compress on her little belly. I really did it all until my own tears streamed. One day I turned on the CD Palavra Cantada and danced with her. It worked. It was momentary but goose-bump inspiring. And we listened to this song. And I cried a bit more. Because it is beautiful. (I am also a bit sensitive to pre-pregnancy and post-pregnancy hormones.) The CD and swaying in front of the stereo became a part of our routine those first few months.

And we got through it, forgetting about ballerinas for a while. Until G and I started passing a ballet academy on our way to and from pre-school every day. The tutus stopped us in our tracks. Georgia, like all little girls, now seems to be in the "dreaming of ballerinas and pointing her toes" phase.

Tonight we listened to the music again and swirled in our PJ's. I think she remembers me struggling with her in my arms--my desperation, my love, and the tender music.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Alice for Duda and Nina

There is an Alice in Wonderland fury amongst little girls. And I was pleased for the opportunity to use my home-made cookies shapes again, this time for five year old twins Duda and Nina. The birthday day tea party was Wonderland at its impeccably splendid best. Here are some highlights.

1. In addition to doing the cupcakes and cookies, I held a cookie decorating workshop for the girls. And, let me tell you...future cookie embellishment potential is high! I just wonder if there is enough sugar (and sprinkles) in the marketplace for all the frosting on future baked goods!?

2. It was a real pleasure working with Sucatinha de Luxo again. Camila and her team offered a workshop for the girls to customize their very own Alice inspired bench. I am certain that the children can now reach the sink to brush little sugar coated teeth this night.

3. I got to take Georgia to the festivities! On the car ride home, I asked her if she liked going to work with Mommy. Her response, "No work, Mommy. Party!!!!" Tough Job.

Happy Birthday Duda and Nina!

Having fun for Tetsuo

When I received an email asking for mustache cookies and cupcakes, I sent a quote and didn't think much about the theme. Until I started baking all those upper lip decorations. And I got curious. They were for a baby shower, after all.

Rosana explained that she wanted to welcome her son Tetsuo into the world with a girl's only event that would be close friends, great food, music, and fun. And I realized that teddy bears and pacifiers could (and should) indeed be replaced by chocolate mustaches!

I think we would all like to go to this party!

Rosana, thank you for the charming framed moustache and felt applique favor. I hope you girls had fun! Welcome Tetsuo!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I've been working on a little garment rack/basket of costumes to take to the parties I have been catering. Aside from the obvious entertainment value for the children (Oh and I've seen some adults in capes....), the party decorations get an upgrade too.

Yesterday, I made a series of felt crowns. I found the pattern here. I haven't had time to add any embellishments. But I am kind of liking the non-sparkle.

Georgia was royalty in footie pajamas at breakfast (hence the crumbs on her chin). Don't all princesses wear their tiara over "bed-head" upon waking?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fingers and a Wall

I suppose every parent has the nighttime song and dance routine. The enduring dress rehearsal that goes on and on (the I'm thirsty, not tired, very scared variety show....) before your child finally stops wiggling under the covers and begins the slow and steady breath of sleep. And if you are like me you are usually curled beside your little one in the mini bed--about to succumb to slumber yourself and asking why you have to go through this night after night.

Georgia has never been a good sleeper. (Unfortunately, I think she inherited that from me.) And since I suffered too much with the few attempts at the "cry it out" method, I used breastfeeding as my crutch to get her to log Z's. I'll admit it. Because it worked and my creativity at day's end was pretty limited. But post-weaning has been a real talent show for me. Last week I had to write the a-b-c's on her bare back with my fingernail (an educational back scratching, no less). But when she stared insisting I stop singing the a-b-c's but, rather, say them (We all sing our a-b-c's, now don't we?) I realized she was getting bored with the routine. Plus a cold front has set in and I can't reach her naked back in footsie PJ's. So I've retired another set of tricks from my bag. Next.

Tonight we did shadow puppets. Actually, I could only muster up the open/shut mouth-bird. But her pleasure in the discovery was equal to a standing ovation. In addition to being sweet, the show was short! Ten minutes into the gig, she was snoozing. Obviously, I am inspired. I've found some new techniques in shadow making. I'm pretty certain these will take me well into next week. And after that? Have you seen the Owly's incredible laser cut shadow puppets? Since shipping to Brazil is rather complicated, I might attempt some amateur versions on my own.

I'm already sharpening my scissors.