Thursday, July 31, 2008

Operation Baking GALS

While roaming around the Daring Bakers message boards this evening I came across an awesome thing – Operation Baking GALS (Give A Little Support!)! 

It all started not very long ago with Susan from She's becoming doughmesstic – she decided to send out an email to just a few foodie friends and ask if they might want to bake something and then send it off to her cousin Jason in Iraq. Little did she know that it would grow and grow and grow! 

Here is the concept – we bake it, we ship it to Iraq to Jason, and he shares them with all his buddies (or he will get too fat to stay in Iraq – so wait, maybe that's a good plan!) Sure the men and women over there need other stuff in care packages as well, however, homemade baked goods are way better than chapstick etc. 

So I'm hitching my little wagon up to Operation Baking GALS! I'm going to bake some yummy stuff on Sunday (after I sell all my stuff in a yardsale on Friday and Saturday! And my oven gets fixed!) and then it's off to Iraq to get gobbled up! 

If your interested in joining up – and why wouldn't you be? – here is the blog that's been set up to handle all the insane traffic that Susan is getting. There is a link where you can email her and she can further instruct you on what to do! 

I'm so excited to help out! This is such a great way to show our beloved troops how much we care! 

Daring Bakers Challenge

I wanted to make the Daring Bakers Challenge so very much this month, but I made the mistake of putting it off until the last few days! My plan was to bake Monday and assemble Tuesday, and then that plan came to a crashing halt on Sunday when the oven (just a year old) decided to quit on me! There is only one guy in town who works on my type of oven and he can't get here until Friday! I'm so bummed! I'm going to try and make this cake very soon though because it sounds and looks delicious!!
Make sure you check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see what other members created! 

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another book update!

It's been a little while, so I figured I should post some more from the book! This is the beginning of a chapter set in New York City where the main character Eddie is working for one of her sisters for a week on a photo shoot. 

          “I don’t think my feet have ever hurt this bad in my entire life,” I said to Anna as I stood outside of Pen’s building trying to get some fresh air. I pressed my cell phone tight to my ear so that I could hear her response over the trash truck that was backing down North 3rd Street, beeping like nothing I had ever heard beep before.

     “Why do your feet hurt?” she asked.

     “Because their floor is concrete and I’ve been standing around doing work for days on end,” I said, glaring at the trash truck in an effort to hurt its feelings.

     “What is that horrible noise?” she asked.

     “The freaking trash truck. If you think this is bad, try listening to it at freaking four a.m. when it does the same thing while your trying to sleep. I really don’t know how they live here, it’s not possible to relax!” I exclaimed, my nerves already frazzled after only a few days.

     “Are you having a good time? And what are you doing outside anyway, you’re not smoking are you?” Anna asked in parent-like tone of voice.

     “No! Are you kidding, never again!” I said.

     “Ok good, it’s just that that used to be the only reason you would be standing outside of her building, so I was just making sure,” she said.

     “No, we needed milk and I offered to walk to the store because I needed to get the hell out of there. I used to think their loft was big, but now it feels like all three of us are living in a shoe box!” I said as I smiled at the guy who was walking his bulldog past me. “And there are no doors to close! I don’t know how they do it, how they don’t kill each other!”

     “Sorry about that,” the dog walking guy said as he began to hurry away.

     “Sorry for what?” I said looking around and then down. A small stream, growing larger by the second, of dog urine was flowing down from a puddle the size of baby swimming pool right in front of the two bags of groceries I had sitting by my feet. Before I could grab them fast enough, both bags were wet on the bottom.

     “Oh my god! I’ve gotta go Anna, some assholes dog just peed all over the place and the food is sitting in piss!” I screeched as the guy broke into a semi-jog to get away from me.

     “Are you serious? That is disgusting! Why would anyone do that? What are you going to do?” she said, hours away in friendly suburbia where no one would allow their dog to urinate near someone else’s something.

     “I don’t know, I gotta go, I’m sorry,” I said as I looked around in a vain attempt to find a solution among the filth of North 3rd Street.

     “Okay, I’m sorry Eddie, I hope the rest of your trip goes better. I love you,” Anna said sincerely.

     “Thanks, I love you too. I’ll call you later in the week,” I said. We said our goodbyes and then I shoved my cell phone into my pocket. I looked down at the two bags and wondered how in the world I was going to lug one container of lactose free organic milk, four bottles of Fiji water, two bags of chips, one container of humus and a box of cookies up the three flights of industrial stairs that loomed before me.

     I pulled all the thankfully dry items out of their soaked bags and placed them out of the floodplain that had developed around my feet. Then I picked up the wet bags and held them out at arms length as I walked to the nearby dumpster, saying, “Ew, ew, ew, ew,” the entire time and praying that the pee wouldn’t drip on me. I stood over my hoard and dialed Pen’s house line, which neither of them answered. Then I called Aidan’s cell, and he finally picked up after four rings.

     “Yeah?” he said, sounding annoyed.

     “Can you come help me, some guy let his dog piss all over my grocery bags and now I have to carry all this shit upstairs without bags and I can’t do it!”

     “Are you fucking serious?” he said to me. “Some dude let his dog piss all over Eddie’s bags,” he said to Penelope. “God I hate this fucking city, I’ll be right down.”

     I shoved my cell phone back into my pocket and glared at the corner where the asshole and his bitch had disappeared around. It seemed to take Aidan an eternity to come down and help me.

     “You have got to be fucking kidding me! There is no way one dog pissed that much!” Aidan said as he surveyed the scene after finally showing up to rescue me.

     “It was a bulldog!” I said, just at that moment realizing how much more absurd that made things.

     “There’s no way,” he said as he began to pick up the milk and cookies. “Does this shit have piss on it?”

     “That makes it sound even worse,” I said.

     “What do you mean?” he asked.

     “You said ‘Does this shit have piss all over it?’ ” I said staring at him, wondering why he wasn’t picking up what I was putting down.

     “What?” he said in his special exasperated way.

     “Oh my god, why are you not getting this?” I said as I picked up the last bottle of Fiji water and began to follow him to the door. “You said, ‘Does this SHIT have PISS all over it?’ ” I said, placing great emphasis on the words shit and piss.

     “Yeah, I still don’t get it,” he said as we began to climb the endless stairs.
Three flights later he still didn’t get it. “Never mind, forget it!” I exclaimed, now doubting the humor that I thought had been evident.

     When we finally reached the door Aidan knocked with his foot and Penelope opened the door a few seconds later. Just as I, the last one through the door, was trying to shut it quickly behind me, Sophie, their sneaky black cat, squeezed by and made a mad dash down the long hallway. Luckily there was nowhere for her to go. Aidan put the milk, cookies, chips and humus down and went running after her.

     “Freaking insane cat!” he said with a smile and a laugh a few minutes later as he deposited her on the couch and then walked back over to his computer and sat down. Within seconds he was fully immersed in whatever he had been doing before and he returned to ignoring us.

     I spent the next seven hours making paper flowers while Penelope perfected every last little detail for the party set that would be shot on Tuesday. I literally made several hundred flowers out of all different types of paper. Some were crafted from crepe paper, while others from hard card stock. There was marbleized paper and flowery paper and polka dot paper and pretty patterned paper and even ugly patterned paper.

     And then there was the paper cut to end all paper cuts.

     It happened so quickly and there was so much damn paper surrounding me that I have no idea which behemoth three-foot by four-foot sheet was the culprit! My money is still on the green marbleized bastard, but I have little evidence to back up my claims.

     The paper sliced through the tip of my right index finger as if it longed to remove the whole damn thing from my hand. Blood instantly oozed and dripped as I grabbed my finger and squeezed it tightly. Not wanting to know, but unable to resist, I slightly spread the two halves of my finger apart in order to see how deep the cut was, and only then did I scream out in agony.

     I’m famous for fainting – well in my family that is, not nationwide – and so I can tell the instant it’s about to happen. The sound that had moments before been clear in my ears was now seemingly coming from somewhere far off in another world and my vision became obscured by gold and silver sparkles. There was no denying it, I was going down.

     Concrete floors may look cool, but they do little to break your fall except threaten to break you more.

– Copyright 2008 © Shoo Elephant Shoo

All Rights Reserved 2008 © Books and Bakes 

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Brayden!

I had the joy of making my nephew Brayden's birthday cake for his party today. He is really into cars, trains, tractors and motorcycles, so my sister had a trains and cars party theme. Just thought I would share the cute cake… I'm proud of it and everyone said it was yummy! 

All Rights Reserved 2008 © Books and Bakes

Friday, July 11, 2008

His Dark Materials

I finished His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman last night and the critics were right when they said it was the last great work of fiction in the 20th century. It's truly a wonderful collected works including The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife & The Amber Spyglass. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy and anyone who has yet to discover that they do. This work will bring you into the fantastical fold if only you give it a chance! 

It's rare that Fantasy writers are able to communicate love in a heart aching way - most of the time it's done one such a large scale, with characters that are stoic and brave, therefore loosing the tenderness of true love in the scope of the story - but Pullman has pulled it off. 

Here is my favorite moment in the collected works… I cry each time I read it. I know you must know the characters to really feel the moment, but I hope it translates how wonderful of a writer Pullman is! 

"I will love you forever, whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I'll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again…"

"I'll be looking for you, Will, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we'll cling so tight that nothing and no one'll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… We'll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those specs of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won't just be able to take one, they'll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we'll be joined so tight…" 
From The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman © 2000 

All Rights Reserved 2008 © Books and Bakes