Friday, March 30, 2012

Niece and Nephew

We have four "official" nephews and four "official" nieces, plus three additional nephews and one niece through marriage...bonus!  Yes, the extra are our nephews and niece-in-law!   We have quite a few "unofficial" nieces and nephews who call us aunt and uncle, but are officially cousins.  But, I LOVE being called aunt or auntie, so I am happy to have lots of nieces and nephews, official or not.  Now, an exciting event is happening in our family: our nieces and nephews are getting married and having babies...and voila, I am a GREAT aunt!  YIPPEE!  We now have four GREAT nephews, Cael, Parker, Henry, and Hudson, and are thrilled with this new expansion of our family.  Not too long ago, Parker turned two and his Mom made my day by asking me to help with his birthday desserts.  She decided to plan a pizza party for him, which changed a little bit with his growing interest in pirates, arrrgh,  so it became a pirate pizza party.  Actually, Parker's pirate pizza party!  She made two amazing pizza cakes, and adorable pirate cupcakes, and I got to make decorated cookies...surprise!

 I had so much fun making the pizza cookies which I put on sticks.  I used grated white chocolate for the cheese, and rolled and molded Starburst candies for the "ham", "pepperoni," and "pineapple".
 The green peppers were sour gummy straws, the onions were hand formed white tootsie rolls, and the black olives were licorice tubes cut into slices.
 And, of course, I had to make a few pirates,   aarrrrgh!
 My husband made a nice foil covered Styrofoam display for the cookies.
 Happy Birthday, Parker,  I can't believe you're two years old already!
 Here are the amazingly realistic pizza cakes, and cute pirate cupcakes.  Pretty nice 2nd birthday party!

 Our youngest niece is a senior in high school with graduation just around the corner.  Recently, she was a part of the cast for Rockford High School's musical, "Thoroughly Modern Millie."  This happens to be a musical, on DVD, that I really love with Julie Andrews,  Mary Tyler Moore, and Carol Channing.  If you haven't' seen it, it's sure worth renting.  The musical takes place during the "Roaring 20's", with flappers, lots of fringe on dresses, beaded necklaces, and bobbed hair.   So, instead of taking flowers to give her after the show, I decided to make a "cookie bouquet" with a "Roaring 20's" theme.
 I am not sure why I picked red, black , and white, but I think I was influenced by one of the dresses that Julie Andrews wore in the movie version.
 Rockford High School
 I had to include a "Flapper."
 Dresses and beads
 Fringe and beads

 More beads and dropped waist dresses.


 All wrapped up and ready to go!
The show was amazing, with some very talented performers.  Our niece did a great job and was thrilled with her cookies.   I'm glad because I was so happy to make them for her.

Now, I best get to work on some Easter cookies!  Have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!  I thought that I would share a few Paddy's Day decorated cookies with you along with a wish for the "luck of the Irish!"  Be sure to wear your greens, enjoy a pint, and relish the day!

I made these for my cousins who are in Vermont, who are, I'm sure, having a wonderful day with her daughter and friends!  They've organized a "Clue Chase" which sounds like soo much fun.  I am hoping that they are having perfect weather; as nice as it is here.

A little polka dot shamrock

Window pane shamrock, anyone?

How about a swirled shamrock?

What would St. Patrick's Day be like without a "Pot 'O' Gold"?

These were also made for my cousins for their "Clue Chase."  Too bad it's not real gold, now that would be a great prize!

Have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

2 cakes and a pie, oh my!

I have been on a bit of a baking spree of late, and of course, my paper work has fallen waaaay behind!  But, I am having fun!  I know that we are just beginning March Madness, the big NCAA basketball tournament, for those of you who may not be aware.  So, all the leagues are now finished with their seasons.  As you know, we are University of Michigan fans, and it was a very tight race at the end of the season with Michigan in a three way tie for first place. Whew!  So, to celebrate, I made a U of  M cake for my "boys."  It was a lemon cake with lemon curd between the layers, yum!  I got the idea for this unique decorating technique from  I think it turned out pretty well, and it was tasty, too.  The "boys" loved it.




It was my nephew's birthday last week and he is a big fan of Michigan State University.  His dog is even named "Sparty."  Yes, our family has a divided allegiance.  I was going to make him a "shark" cake, but decided that since MSU was in the three way tie with U of M and OSU, I would make him an MSU cake.  

It worked out well because MSU ended up wining the Big Ten Tournament. Now we begin crazy March...does everyone have their brackets ready?

This cake was a white cake with almond flavoring and the filling was our homemade strawberry jam.


Happy Birthday, Chris!

My husband's birthday was at the end of February and although he loves all desserts, he usually wants a cherry pie for his birthday.  And, of course, he loves his cherry pies to have a touch of almond flavoring.  I have made lots of cherry pies since we were married and they have not always been successful, mainly because cherries are very juicy.  I think I have finally come up with a recipe that I  like and he loves, which has been very consistent and  yummy..yea!

Yea, it was gone a long time ago.  I have fun with this pie, because I use my cookie cutters to cut the pastry for the top design. Lots of choices!   He was very pleased....Happy Birthday Brad!

I hope you're having a nice prelude to spring.  It has been very warm around here, which never seems to happen in March.  I keep waiting for another snowfall.  But, it looks like tornado season is upon us.  We spent one evening in the basement this week.  Stay safe...enjoy March Madness 2012! 


Monday, March 5, 2012

Winter Centerpieces

Surprisingly, it has been 1 year since I began this blog.  It has been a bit more work then I originally anticipated, but it has pushed me to organize a few of our collections and I have learned a lot more about these collections, which has been great!  I have been distracted with cookie making of late, and probably shared a few more pictures of cookies than collections.  Oh, well...I always get excited about whatever craft  I am working on at the moment.  So, I have decided that for the next year, I will truly live up to this blog's name, "Bric-a-Brac" and share a myriad of topics.  I will still try to organize my collections, share my current crafts, and maybe even a few household renovations that we are starting.  Hopefully, it will be interesting.  So, here we go....

In January, I was asked by a friend at church and her committee, to make 10 centerpieces that could be used for our monthly after church "pot luck" dinners.  These dinners are a fun way to gather, have a yummy meal, and get to know our other church members even better.  She suggested a "winter" theme and just named a few things off the top of her head like skating and sledding.  She also mentioned winter flower arrangements and/or baskets of pine cones.  But, winter activities sure sounded like fun to me.  So, I decided to make little winter vignettes of fun outdoor activities to do in Michigan in the winter, which usually lasts for months.  As usual, the project was more time consuming than I planned.  But, I commandeered a Sunday school classroom and worked for a couple of days and had a ball!  My friend helped me to paint the "snow," and add the ribbon, then I got to do all the fun "stuff"!

 Ice fishing is a huge sport in Michigan, we certainly have enough lakes for it!  It is fun to look across the frozen lakes and see all of the ice "shanties,"  some are pretty fancy!  However, these two guys are pretty basic, two poles, a hole in the ice and two logs.  Looks pretty cold.

 I m so happy that he caught a fish!

 I had some trouble taking pictures because of the glare of the "ice".  Sorry for all the reflections.
 Ice skating, on a rink or pond, at favorite.  We had an ice skating rink in our back yard every winter when I was growing up.  My parents would use a hose to spray the back yard until we had a full ice skating rink. It took up the entire backyard.   We were so lucky, we got to skate every day after school and on the weekends.  My brother was and is a hockey player, so when all of his friends were over, I was the ref and got to drop the puck for all of the face offs.  When my friends were over, we definitely were figure skaters...Peggy Fleming, of course!
 Yes, I had a figure skating skirt and my skates were silver with fur around the top....and no, I couldn't do any jumps or spins!

 I just said that skating was my favorite winter activity, but sledding was a close second.  And when I was in high school, night sledding on the nearby hilly golf courses with my friends, was a blast.  We had the hills to ourselves and had sooo much fun!   I liked sleds and saucers, but a whole group on a toboggan was the best, unless you were in the front and got covered in snow!
 Any body ever "belly flopped?"  For those of you that don't know that term, it means holding your sled in your hands, and running to the edge of the hill and throwing yourself on your sled as you go down the hill.  The momentum gives you speed, or you might miss your sled and careen down the hill head over heels.  Either way, it's fun!
I think that this is one of my favorite centerpieces.  Bird watching is one of those "things" on my "Bucket List."  My husband's aunt was an avid bird watcher, and I really enjoyed hearing about her sightings and her adventures as she sought out specific species.  My brother, the forester, really knows his birds.  Even though he is color blind, he can identify birds by their shape, sounds, they way they fly, etc.  It is pretty amazing.  And yes, we have eagles in Michigan.  Once, when I was driving north to see a client, an eagle flew right in front of my car, just above my windshield.  When you see one so close and in flight, you can really appreciate their size and majesty!

I haven't been in a snowball fight in a really long time.  But, I do know that the building of the "fort," formulating the strategic plan for the battle and preparing a mountainous pile of ammunition (snowballs) is as much fun as the fight itself.  It isn't winter until you get your face washed with snow!


Cross Country skiing is quiet, and peaceful, and exhausting!  My brother gave me my first pair of cross county skis for Christmas when we were in college.  He picked up a pair for me and a pair for himself at an Army Surplus store.  The skis were old, wooden, very skinny, and we had soo much fun with them,.  At first I didn't have any cross country boots, so just clipped in the toes of my regular boots, and they worked pretty well.  Ahh, I was young and fit back then.  I haven't gone cross country skiing in a looong time, but I  do remember how much fun it was, especially the down hill runs! (No, I didn't make the deer!)

He was pretty pleased!

Snow shoeing can be a lot of fun; it is another quiet, peaceful sport.  I think that it is harder than it looks, because your feet are soo far apart.  But, maybe this is just because I am short!  My two nieces grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  When they were little, they were pulled on a toboggan by their Mom or Dad  to catch the school bus, but as they got older, they used their snow shoes.  There is a lot of snow in the U.P.! 

Once when I was snowshoeing in with woods with my brother,  I didn't believe that the snow was very deep.  He told me to step off of my snow shoes, and I quickly sunk in up to shoulders.   I was shocked and had a heck of a time getting out...good thing he was there to lend me a hand!  I never did that again!

Any one for a "Polar Dip?"  The sign announces an "Annual Polar Dip Festival" which is a very quick swim in water where the ice has been chopped away to make an area to "dip."  No, I have never done this, and I don't want to!  I've been told that it is invigorating...Brrrr

No, thank you!

It's always fun to make snowmen, especially if the snow is perfect packing.  I can't even tell you the amount of times that I made the second or third snow ball too big to lift onto the first snow ball.  I think these always turned into a snow fort!

Winter activities can be so much fun, especially if there is a warm fire and hot chocolate to look forward to when it's time to warm up!

Our church is pretty happy with the centerpieces.  They're not only using them for our monthly potlucks, but they're choosing one each week to put on the "Welcome Table" in our church lobby.  A good friend has even asked me to make one for her family to use at home starring her beloved Detroit Redwings!  But, best of all, I really enjoyed making them. 

I hope everyone is having a great winter, spring is just around the corner!