Archive for November, 2007

‘Dancing’ Gossip, Christmas Lights and Tim Gunn

November 30, 2007

Editors note: I recently moved my blog to a new server. You can find this same post (and all my others) at the new location:, where I post daily.

I’ve been working on the next version Balancing for the past couple of days; it includes a redesign that I hope to launch in the next couple of days. In the meantime, enjoy some random links I found while taking a few breaks.


Twelve Days of Cookies

November 29, 2007

Editors note: I recently moved my blog to a new server. You can find this same post (and all my others) at the new location:, where I post daily.

It’s time to make cookies! Yesterday I got my first installment of The Food Network’s 12 Days of Cookies email. Now I know it’s Christmastime.

Each year the chefs and editors at the Food Network find 12 cookie recipes they like best and email them, one at a time, for 12 days. The recipes are an inspiring way to get in the mood for the holidays.

Way to go Food Network. I already love you — I’ve learned so much from you over the years. I think it’s the way many Americans are learning to cook: From Emeril, Paula, Giada and all the others. You remind us that it’s OK if we don’t know how to boil water; just watch, listen and try it out.

Food TVs Web site is a favorite stop for me. If I like a recipe on one of its shows, I immediately go to the Web and save a copy. Make note of this — you must get the recipe within a certain time period. I don’t know how long they keep recipes up, but I’m still searching for a Paula Deen recipe that uses ice cream sandwiches for an amazing frozen dessert pie.

Christmas in Orlando

November 28, 2007

A friend and I are taking our 2-year-olds to do some Christmas stuff around town next month and it got me thinking of how much there is to do in Orlando this time of year. I did some research and came up with a list of my favorite things that I’ve either reported on as an Orlando travel editor, or that I want to do now that I have a kid. Most of the events on my list don’t require theme park admission because I like to do things on the cheap, but I do include a few that do. Here goes:

ICE — The Gaylord Palms resort hosts a cool (HA!) event every year, that I have yet to attend, but am planning on taking my son to this year. They bring in 2,000,000 (that’s two million) pounds of ice sculptures and keep them at 9 degrees (that’s cold for Floridians!). Read the resort’s blog, Behind the Scenes of ICE!

Disney hotels — They are all decorated to the hilt. Your kid won’t need to go to a theme park. We usually park at Disney’s boardwalk and go into one or two of the hotels there, then walk around the boardwalk to see the other sights.

Snow in Celebration — The town that Disney built near Orlando has a “snow fall” every evening (really just bubbles that blow every hour) with carolers, Santa, the “Celebration Express” and horse drawn carriage rides. The snow falls hourly from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Mall at Millenia Santa — He’s the best in the world. Really. He’s the real deal. I call him, “old-fashioned Santa.” Prepare to wait in line, unless you get there on a weekday, early in the morning.

Theme parks:

There’s a ton to do at the theme parks this time of year, but I’ll mention two of the ones that I know most about:

Islands of Adventure — I love, love, love what they do at IOA during the holidays. Suessville comes to life with The Grinch and all the Who’s from Whooville. It is truly a magical place to be and the kids love all the singing and action.

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights (Disney-MGM Studios) — I haven’t been to this event, but I hear raves about it every year. If you are at Disney this season it’s a must stop.

Grinch at Universal Orlando

Photo courtesy: Universal Orlando Resort

10-Pages Book Reviews

November 27, 2007

I recently stumbled upon a mom blogger who writes book reviews based on the first 10 pages. All I can say is, great idea. I’m the type of person who feels compelled to complete all the books I read. Even if they are terrible.

I was recently asked how I have any time to read. Not just books, but to read anything. Being a mom is time consuming. I explained that I have to read. It’s a part of me. I don’t read as much as I’d like since I spend so much time with my son, but I can’t completely give up reading. I keep reading materials everywhere in my house. There isn’t a room that doesn’t have a book case or book shelf (except the bathrooms).

Because I’m so busy (who isn’t?) I have been trying to allow myself the ability to not read a book if I don’t like it — which is why I love the “10 pages in” book review concept. I usually get half-way before I give up on a book, then feel like I wasted time. Ten pages might not be enough to really judge a book, but who has the time to read a bad book?

To Bake or to Buy? Should You Make or Buy the Birthday Cake?

November 26, 2007

Editors note: I recently moved my blog to a new server. You can find this same post (and all my others) at the new location:, where I post daily.

For my son’s second birthday I struggled with whether or not to make the cake myself. Last year it was an easy decision: You need something special for the first birthday. I need to make the cake, I thought. Months before the event, I took a cake decorating class. Not knowing that I had to bake and frost a cake every week for a month, I endured the class and learned the basics of how to frost a decorative cake.

The night before my son’s first birthday I was up past midnight, with yellow icing up to my elbows. It was worth it. (The wine helped.) The cake turned out so cute and I was very proud.

This year, I wanted to do that same thing. We matured from a duck cake to a car cake. He loves cars so how could I not make a cake in the shape of a car? If you’ve never made a specialty cake before, it takes a lot of work. And I mean a lot of work. And, it’s not that it’s cheaper than a store-bought cake. Even though I had all the supplies and I’d already purchased the cake mold a few months ago, I was still dreading the baking and icing of the cake. Shouldn’t I just call Publix and order the Disney Cars cake?

I was about to make the call, but finally decided that I wasn’t going to let myself fail. I want to make this cake and have him point to it and say his favorite word, “car.” So, I forged ahead; made a plan, baked and frosted that cake. Even as I was making it, I made mental notes to think twice about doing it for birthday number three.

Finally, it is complete. The little blue car cake is sitting on the table in all it’s splendor. It is adorable. The kids love it, the adults are impressed and Mommy feels great for doing something special for her son’s second birthday.


  • Take a class at your nearby craft store. It really helps to learn the techniques to make the perfect cake.
  • Make all your frosting several days before you are ready to decorate. Store in air tight containers.
  • Make extra, white frosting. You might need to dye it for a color you didn’t plan on needing.
  • Buy the specialty gel coloring dyes; regular food dyes only make pastel icing.
  • Bake the cake a day before you want to frost it.
  • Keep a bowl of water on the table to clean the icing tips and to use on your frosting spatula to smooth the surface of the cake.
  • Frost a layer of “flat” icing before you pipe the star shapes.
  • Leave plenty of time to frost the cake. Do it the night before or early, early in the morning, depending on the time of your party.


car cake