Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Mexico Balloon Fiesta

We booked a last minute family vacation to see the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, NM. It was an amazing trip. We stayed at The Tamaya resort outside of town, the hotel is located on the majestic lands of the Santa Ana Indians surrounded by mountains and several buttes. This festival is the only one that allows viewers to be right up next to the balloons as they prepare for ascent. Roughly 750 balloons cover the open field gearing up to go before the sun even rises. You get there while it is still dark, bundled up in warm gear, drinking hot chocolate and eating the most incredible green chili breakfast burritos while watching the preparations. At dawn they send up the initial patrol and the balloons are alight from within as they rise up and test the air. Once the sun come up the rest of the balloons all go as up they are inflated. The kids loved it. Beside the balloons Albuquerque offers so much to do as a family, we hiked and found a meteorite, went to local crafts shows and ate great New Mex food. We are already longing to get back to this very very special place. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Big Bad Wolf Cake

Mr. T's birthday was right on the heels of our coming back from a family vacation and just a few days before Halloween. It was a crazy time around our house and so I just wanted to do something small, low key and just family to celebrate his turning the big 2. At almost the last minute we decided to call see if some family friends wanted to join in the fun and so that put the pressure on to do a cake. Now if you read this blog you will notice for one that theres not alot a posting going on but also in the few post I do have  that we have kind of a family tradition of trying to do great cakes. I have to preface that by saying it's not that we are great bakers or cake makers but that we have cake envy and always want to try and do something new and challening. My husband and I collaborate and always make the cake thing happen and by some miracle we are always smiling and happy with the results, even if some times they are less than perfect. This year was a bit of a challenge in that since the last cake efforts we have discovered that we as a family have gluten issues. The kids and I were tested and things have not been the same around here when it comes to sweet baked treats. For this cake I used the chocolate gluten free mix from King Arthur, to my surprise is was very good. Moist, tender with good chocolate flavor and none of the grit you get in alot of store bought GF mixes. For the icing I used Martha Stewarts recipe chocolate ganache - it was the first time I had made a ganache. It is now my go to for quick chocolate icing. So easy and it looked so professional. I can't take full credit for the design, I was hard pressed to do a big bad wolf cake from scratch and I was inspired by a cake I spied online wolf cake inspiration

Little Red & Wolf

Without a doubt Halloween is my favorite holiday. What's not to love there is obscene amounts of candy, spooky movies, creepy decor and the best part... dressing up. Well maybe not so much dressing up for me anymore. Luckily, I've discovered that I like making the costumes better than putting them on. This year I didn't have to put a lot of brain power into coming up with a concept - our littlest one is obsessed with the big bad wolf so that was pretty much a no brainer,which in turn made coming up with costume for big sister just as easy, she was going to be Little Red Riding Hood. I started working on the costumes early this year trying to avoid my typically last minute all night sew-a-ton and to my surprise I was actually done the a few days before. I have to say I am very proud of the costumes, the dress was a real struggle that I nearly abandoned. I had never made a dress from a store bought pattern before - I found the whole thing incredibly frustrating and must admit reading patterns takes the kind of smarts that I just don't have. At one point I even went up to T's closet in search of a red dress that I could just throw a home sewn apron on and call it day, but after letting the project sit for a day or two I pulled out my seam ripper and tried again. Not perfect but a huge milestone for me in my self taught sewing education. Little mans costume was much easier, no pattern just complete trial and error. I used an old pirate costume vest as the go by and the hat I just kind of eyeballed and figured out as I went along. Halloween was a blast, the kids spent it trick or treating with friends and even thought I would have loved to dress up I just couldn't bring myself to be the grandma to their red & wolf.