Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Antique Rose Cake + Baby Succulents

Hope everyone had a sweet Memorial Day weekend!  We worked around the house...a lot of work around the house and I delivered a wonderful fresh gluten free double chocolate cake for a 69th Birthday dinner celebration at a local restaurant.  I love the emails and calls that I get telling me how grateful and thrilled someone is after getting a gluten free birthday cake.  It makes the last 20 years of struggling with a gluten free diet worth every second.  I don't know what brought me to this place in my life, but I too am so grateful.. I can not think of a better place to be.

These little baby succulents were featured in the Organic Elegance Bridal Shower post a few weeks ago, and they growing strong  in my window, and making new babies ( I hope) because I think they are just the cutest things EVER.  So, I thought I would share their cuteness with you, and wish you a very sweet week.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Birthday Cake and A Beautiful Tea Party

This weekend, although very busy, turned out to be very special.  I delivered a Birthday cake on Saturday that was Gluten Free and Rice Free.  This seemed to be an impossibility at first, but with some trial and error, a wonderful, warm, delicious cake came out of the oven and a Birthday was celebrated.  I am so blessed to be a small part of this celebration.

Happy Birthday Jill!  And your Mom and Dad were sweet with their email.  In the end it is every parent's  wish that their child celebrate many, many happy birthday's and that a medical condition will not stop or lessen the celebration.
On Sunday I had the privilege of designing and producing a wonderful tea for some beautiful and gracious women.  Hosted by the very talented floral designer Elba Brown, this was an exquisitely gracious day. An entirely Gluten Free menu surprised and delighted all of the guests.  I got home in time to have a little dinner, put my feet up and relish in a quiet Sunday evening before beginning a new week.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Memories + Keepsakes

I love peonies.  They are the most  lush, fragrant, lavish, elegant flower.  This last Sunday they were at the front door of Whole Foods, and they were calling my name.  You know what I mean, that extravagant item that you can't walk past, your heart just desires it, longs for it, this one thing makes your heart sing, even if only for a moment.  This is not a need, it is a want.  An expense that only you can justify.  So, I bought these gorgeous raspberry peonies, just for me.  i am still smelling them, touching them, enjoying them, and my heart is still singing.  When they are shriveled and brown I will throw them away and only the memories will remain. Sweet memories.
Some people can not justify the expense of a memory.  A wedding costs thousands of dollars and the majority of arguments between bride and groom is over the amount of money to be spent.  One, or the other (not necessarily the grooms) can not see the value of an expensive, lavish celebration, a delicious over-the-top meal, fragrant lavish flowers, or a gorgeous custom designed cake or dessert table. I was considering the reason for this argument when it occurred to me....my own parents are a prime example of two people who perceive "value" in different ways.
My father loved adventure.  He loved this country and traveled to almost every state at least once.  Good food, laughing with friends, a beautiful sunset or sunrise, especially in the desert, was better than gold. He had a thirst for life and drank in every moment as if it was his last.
My mother planned most of their trips.  She researched, packed, saved and made the lists that organized their lives.  When, where, what and how...that was her job.  She loved this job.  She was never in our family pictures because she was always the photographer.  Her idea of a great party, celebration or vacation experience was a good souvenir.  Our house growing up was full of them.  An Indian blanket, huge wooden rockers on the porch from a furniture company in Kentucky, platters and glasses and vases made by artists from all over the country.  All were reminders of the special days of their lives.
Two people, two different mindsets.  My father's memories spilled from him anytime we took the time to reminisce.  Stories from his life were colorful and filled with humor and magic moments that lit up his face. He remembered every detail, the color of the water in each ocean, the wonderful tastes of the food in each small cafe along the way, and the endearing qualities of each person he shared them with.
Mom is a great story teller, although she tends to embellish a little.  As she describes the details of each adventure, the focus is on the assets, the tangible, touchable, and valuable items they acquired at each location.  Don't get me wrong here.  She absolutely loved seeing my Dad and others enjoy the experience.  But you couldn't help but notice that she wasn't necessarily as thrilled with the moment.  She was always considering what she could physically grab to remind her or Dad of this moment. 
As a result, their home was eventually filled with these treasures. They downsized, Dad passed away, and then Mom went into Assisted Living.  The treasures now need to be sold, passed on, or given away. The moral of this story?  There isn't one.  Only a question. Which person are you?

As you plan a celebration, whether it is a wedding, birthday, holiday, or just a really fun get together of friends, is it the experience that you will cherish, or the souvenirs?  A cake topper, garter, silk flowers, or a leather-bound photo album may be all that is left at the end of the day.  Is that enough for you?  The experience and the memories are the things that will be shared with your children, friends, and family throughout the years.  Will your face light up as you tell the story of your special day?  The taste of the cake, the dancing, laughing, the way the light fell on the face of the one you love as you danced the last dance of the night.  What will you take with you as a memento?  In the end, the argument should not be over the cost.  As a couple, or as the host, I hope you will plan a celebration of  love, your life and your thirst for them both.  Enjoy every moment and focus on the smiles, enjoyment and the experience for you and your guests.  This will be something you will never forget, stories you will tell again and again throughout the years.  And if you need a souvenir to remember and hold on to the day, pick one, and press it between the pages of your favorite book to share with your grandchildren some day....and smile when you tell them the story.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cake Bunting + Chocolate Ganache

Cake Bunting is all the rage right now, I am seeing pictures everywhere of sweet little fabric or paper creations.  So, when I was asked to bake a cake for a graduation from Culinary School, I created this from ribbon and fabric.  I found the twisted yarn at Micheal's and the beads on top of the bamboo skewers were cut from some lace I had left over from a previous project.

The cake is Vanilla Bean and layered with fresh strawberries and Chocolate Italian Meringue Butter Cream.  Then I covered the cake in Dark Chocolate Ganache and topped it with more strawberries and even more Butter Cream Details.  This cake is over the top decadent, and I think the bunting was the perfect touch for an intimate cocktail party celebration for the graduate.
I can't wait to try more bunting, a fun little project using all of the odds and ends I have collected from so many holidays, and dessert tables.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Loving and Caring for Mom

It's Mother's Day again, and I wanted to wish all the Mothers a very restful, fun, and lovely day.  My son called me this morning from Atlanta to wish me a happy one, and sent me a card through JIB JAB.  if you've never gotten one, you don't know what you are missing.  Both of my boys have a great sense of humor, and when life gets me down, they can always make me laugh. 
The reason I love designing and planning events is the fact that they are all celebrations of our lives.  We have a party to share with friends and family, a special milestone, or just to say I love you.  Mother's Day is a celebration of our love for our Moms, and to show her how much we appreciate her love for us.
Hallmark moments are not always what we experience ourselves, and sometimes it can be difficult to be thankful for your relationship with your Mom. This has been a very long year for me, and one of the most challenging ever.  My own mother was in a horrific car accident on Good Friday last year.  On Mother's Day 2010, I was taking flowers to the hospital, along with clothes for rehab, checks for her to sign, and a list of problems for both of us to deal with.  If you are a care giver for your Mom, you will understand what kind of a year this has been for me.  Actually, this journey started 6 years ago when my Dad passed away from a massive heart attack, and left my Mom alone. And the lessons I have learned on this journey could be shared in a book, if I had the time to write it. 
It is the hardest thing that I have done in my life...this parenting of my parent.  Changing roles, letting go of your child status and grasping the duty of caregiver.  Not just caregiver, but personal assistant.  A full time job, added to your already busy life as a Mom, Grandmother and Wife...not to mention a full time job and a couple of side jobs to boot. Hard is not actually a good word for this new position in life, it does not begin to cover the feelings that you experience as your idealic image of your parent as this strong, independent, woman crumbles into a pile of rubble, and you begin to face the reality that your Mom is just a person, like you.  She is not super woman, and she can not save the day, or at least not THIS day.
This realization can make you angry, bitter, and resentful.  It can also leave you feeling guilty for having these horrible feelings.  Whatever you are feeling, my best advice is to let it wash over you, change you, and then move on.  Appreciate that wherever you are in your relationship with your Mom, this is exactly where you are meant to be at this time in your life. You can be thankful for how she raised you, and you can appreciate that she showed you the woman you can strive to be, or maybe even the woman you don't want to be.  Take the good and the bad, and say thank you for caring for me, not letting anything too terrible happen to me, and standing by me when I really needed you. 
And, if you are a caregiver for your Mom, God Bless You, we are the chosen ones, our parents will be revealed to us in a new light, a revelation that will change us and give us new reasons to celebrate a day for our Mother.