Browsing Category "Photos"

Dandified Candy

I’ll admit there’s an element of lily-gilding* in the act of crafting with candy. I mean, it’s CANDY. You don’t really have to dress it up the way you might, say, feel compelled to turn a bell pepper into an octopus. Or a carrot into Van Gogh’s Starry Night. With candy, you can just dump it in a bowl or Easter basket (or tear open the bag and shake directly into your mouth), and you’ve done your duty. Candy’s nice like that. Candy wants you to be happy.

That said, crafting with candy can be awfully fun, and it doesn’t have to be hard or take up all your time. (And you can eat candy while you’re doing it.) The project I’ll share next week takes mere minutes, and the one below can be done in about thirty seconds (or even less if you employ a small army of small children).


Both are cute. Both are delicious. Both are worth the click-through to sponsored content, and so is the giveaway of Easter candy at the end of the post. Yes. Do it for the free candy.

*Remember that time I gilded an actual lily, like with school glue and gold glitter? That was fun.


17 Mar
Posted in: Photos, Regular Entries
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The Big Envelope

Did you see the news? I think it appeared briefly on the ABC crawl in Times Square, but it may not have been covered by your local affiliate depending on where their priorities lie (lay?) as regards kindergarten admissions for some random family in Oakland. Besides, does anyone watch t.v. news anymore? I mean beside me watching the first five usually horrifying minutes that record onto the end of my horrifying-in-its-own-right not-so-secret shame The Bachelor? That’s what I thought.

If you didn’t see it elsewhere, the news is this:

Screen shot 2014-03-17 at 12.52.05 PM

In addition to getting into our top choice public school (woo hoo!), Wombat also got an acceptance and a sweet financial aid package (praise jeebus) at Private School B and was wait-listed as a “qualified applicant” in excess of “available spots” at Private School A. (I think of them as B and A instead of A and B because that’s the order we toured them.) I’m over the moon to be in this position, even though this is one of the scenarios we were dreading as far as decision-making and putting-a-price-on-your-kid’s-education is concerned. Private School B is still a much better fit than Public School C, but we have to decide if it’s a better fit commensurate with the amount of money it will cost us (and that’s not counting aftercare and summer camp and all that jazz). It’s affordable, but it’s also money we could use for a thousand other important (and some unimportant) things, so, yeah, DECISIONS. Right now, the prevailing factor is the 1:9 teacher-student ratio and less likelihood that my kid will be set up in the corner with a stack of worksheets while the rest of the class learns together (this is a real thing happening to a kindergartener in Public School C this year), and let’s also not underestimate the fact that I kind of want to be best friends with the admission director of Private School B because she’s so nice and cool. “Dear Wombat: We chose this school for you because your mom thought the admissions director was neat and wore cute scarves.”

Simon is still burning a candle for Private School A, and some random stranger Wombat befriended at the park who used to work for the Oakland district said, “Have you thought of sending him to Private School A? You should try to get him into Private School A,” so that’s two strong votes for School A, plus my little-bit-less-strong vote because my ego’s feeling a little huffy, like we should obviously run directly into the arms of the school who wants us instead of the school that B-listed us, right? (No, I will NOT accept your final rose after you tried to give it to someone else first!) (Oh dear.)

In order to spare you my pro/con list, let me just say I’m HAPPY and this feels GOOD. All of the research and effort and sleeplessness and second-guessing and criticism has gotten us to a place where we’re excited and relieved and ready to just get going with it already. (One of the items in the “pro” column for Private School B is that it goes beyond 5th grade, which means we won’t have to do this whole thing all over again in six years. Except, shit, we might have to do it for Fox sooner than that. Whose idea was it to have a second kid? Oh, right.) For now, we have to make a decision between Private School B and Public School C by Friday, but we still won’t have a definitive plan until we hear back from Private School A on the wait-list situation, which could be as early as next Monday or as late as AUGUST. So it’s another game of hurry up and wait. But man, after the last three months of waiting, you won’t hear me complain. How nice to be waiting with a calm and happy brain instead of one that’s nervously pacing a groove into its skull.

And speaking of nervously pacing a groove, I was dumb not to have seen it coming, but apparently I can’t go on Twitter to talk about Private Schools A and B and Public School C and how they specifically relate to Kid W without ruffling a contingent of people who are ready (and…eager?) to think I’m making a statement about All Private Schools and All Public Schools and All Children (i.e., their children), even though I’m pretty much the last person on earth who will publicly engage on any topic about which I don’t consider myself an expert and I’m even less likely to ever presume to judge any other family’s decision of this nature. (See also why this blog will always be a personal blog: because I’m the foremost leading expert on one thing and that is myself.) If you caught any of that and thought I seemed a little uncharacteristically out of touch with what it looks like to being a decent human being who has some idea of how the world works (at least I hope it seemed uncharacteristic!), please know that I was talking about three very specific schools and one very specific student the whole time and was oblivious to the misunderstanding that was happening right under my nose until a few nice people were kind enough to point out that wires were getting crossed and feelings might be getting hurt. I honestly had no idea that was happening. Let’s all seek out the best schools for our own kids and then be happy when everything works out for each other, okay? Okay.

Note to self: What you write will not always be what people read, so type with caution.

But I don’t really want to talk about that (skull groove!), so let’s not. Instead, I’m going to wear a groove into the floor from so much happy dancing over getting a Big Envelope from a place I already really love.

4 Mar

Checkerboard Cake, Mate

Okay, this is kind of fun. I have a few weeks off of work work and am finally taking care of some of the important–ahem, “important”–non-work things I’ve been wanting to do. Like bake a giant cake for no reason at all? Yes, exactly like that.


Cool, yes?

A while back I was looking for cute cake ideas to help out someone on The Prowl, and I came across this checkerboard cake kit. (Affiliate link, yo.) The example shows one made with yellow cake and chocolate cake, but since St. Patrick’s Day was the holiday proximal to my having a free morning to bake a giant cake for no reason at all, I tinted mine accordingly. I bought two boxes (yes, boxes; I’m no hero) of the same white cake mix and then busted out the food coloring. I used about thirty drops to get that nice medium green color. When you’re counting out THIRTY drops, it seems like a lot, but trust me and my extensive experience in green-cake baking. (This is not my first time; this is.)


The process wasn’t hard, but it was a little time-consuming and made me wish (also not for the first time) I had an extra arm. I had to press the rings down into the pan with one hand while scooping and spreading batter carefully into the sections with the other hand, and I think I pulled my abuctor digiti minimi muscle. (That’s my pinkie finger.) If you end up doing this alone, it will help if your batter is nice and thick rather than thin and runny, or if you know how to grow a third arm.


Hey, it worked! Even I enjoy a little suspense in the kitchen provided it doesn’t involve open flame.


I had some white batter left over, so I tinted it yellow and made twenty mini-cupcakes, which, minus their tops (*gobble*) look cute as discs of leprechaun gold.


Speaking of leprechauns, if you’re doing this for St. Patrick’s Day and want to incorporate more of a rainbow element, this would also be cute with green cake and funfetti cake. Or there’s this groovy tie-dye cake mix, which I’ve never used but it looks pretty amazing. Obviously you can also adapt the technique for whatever occasion and using whatever colors. I want to host a tea party and make a lemon cake checkerboarded with yellow and pink. Using red, white, and green would be awesome for Christmas. Or green, purple, and yellow for Mardi Gras? There’s still time! Get on it! Someone should volunteer to make a gender-reveal cake and then checker it pink and blue just to mess with everyone. Ha.

This time around, I added my rainbow by shaking sprinkles against the side of the cake and calling it good. And it was good.


Psst. It looks better than it tastes. White cake isn’t my favorite, but what can you do? Besides, cake is still cake. CAAAAAKE.


This was really fun to try, and obviously I can’t wait to show it to the boys. (Ooh, a black and white cake for a racecar-themed birthday party? Maybe Fox will be into racecars? Maybe I can make him be into racecars?)


I have a feeling there are going to be lots of checkerboard cakes in our future.