Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pancakes.....glorious pancakes!!!!

Have I mentioned that I like matter the time of day? might not be a strong enough word.  I LOVE breakfast!

The other day I decided I wanted pancakes for dinner.  Only problem was that we were out of Bisquick (which is my preferred pancake mix)...and I also wanted to ride my bike after work.  So, like I did last week, I combined the two and rode my bike to the store again after work.  I got Bisquick, blueberries, grapes (on sale!), maple syrup (left my open one at Wolf's over the weekend - oops) and a few other things (that I don't remember right now, lol).  

The chain, once again, came off the front gear-set while riding home.  Thanks to the guy on Saturday, I knew exactly how to put it back!

Got home, and decided blueberry pancakes would be awesome.  So I mixed them up and cooked them in the frying pan with some olive oil.  Alas, I ate them so fast there were no pics taken of them!  Believe me though, they were out of this world!!!!!


Cell Phone Update

Well, the phone was delivered last week (Thursday) and I (amazingly) had no issues with charging and activating it.  I chose not to back everything up from the old phone and instead put back onto the new phone only those things I wanted from the old one.  It wasn't so bad, and by Friday afternoon only had my calendar and contacts to finish.

Those I finished on Saturday morning while waiting for my car to be fixed. 

I love the phone!  I did run into a little aggravation last night though...............  When my old phone was plugged into the computer via USB, it acted as a Mass Storage Device, and I was able to view the thumbnails of my phone pictures on my computer.  Not so with the Galaxy S3.  I searched in vain for a solution, and the only one I found was to root the phone.  No thanks - I like my phone and don't wish to chance bricking it.

Oh well....I'll figure out a work around, but I was pretty pissed last night.


Biking Adventures!

Wolf had to work again on Saturday, so I planned to head out early (he had to start at 7) and get a good 5-6hrs of riding in.

Alas....things do not go as planned most of the time!  My engine light came on last week and a guy at work read the code for me.  It apparently was one of the 02 sensors that needed replacing.   I called around and ended up calling the guy that replace my engine.  He could do it Saturday morning (yay!).  Great, so I made the appt for 8am and figured I'd head down there when Wolf went to work.

The car has also been making a 'clunking' sound in the rear, so I had him look at that also.  Turns out the clunking was the struts and swaybar links.  They need to be replaced.  Great...more money!  Anyway, got the sensor replaced and all was well.  Headed back up to Wolf's (stopping at Dick's Sporting Goods for some t-shirts) and ended up heading out on the bike about 11:30am.

Was riding through Davis Square and realized the back tire was flat.  Wonderful!  So I pulled out my (new!) phone and looked up where the nearest bike shop was.  Half a mile...not so bad.  So I walked over there, got the tire replaced pretty quick and was back on my way by 12 or so.  Learned from the guy at the shop that road bike tires should be checked for air pressure every week and topped off.  Who knew! 

Decided to tackle the Minuteman Bikeway again and had a relatively uneventful ride.  Started playing with the different gears and pedaling in a higher gear while going downhill and on flat ground.  It's amazing the difference it makes!  At one point, the chain fell off the front gear, so I stopped to try to fix it.  I knew it was easy, but wasn't exactly sure how to do it.  A very nice gentleman stopped and asked if everything was fine.  I told him what happened and he showed me how to put the chain back.  It's embarrassingly easy!!!!!  I felt like a dope and said so, lol, but also thanked him for the help.

I was able to ride to the end of the bikeway and back and got all my stuff put away just before Wolf got home.  I ended up doing 26.5 miles and averaged about 10mph!  Yay! 


Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Now....I love all manner of breakfast foods.  Eggs and waffles/pancakes are my favorite though.  Today I had a craving for waffles, so decided to make them for dinner.  Yup, you read that right....dinner.  I LOVE to have breakfast for dinner!

My preferred mix for waffles and pancakes is quite simple really....the recipe on the Bisquick box!

So, I got out the bowl, whisk, milk, eggs, oil and opened the Bisquick box. 

This is what I found:
Not even close to enough for waffles!!!!!!    Poo!!!!!

I REALLY wanted waffles by now and went in search of some kind of cookbook for waffles from scratch.  I spotted the recipe book that came with the Kitchen Aid and decided to look there.  Lo and behold!  Waffles!

I don't know if you can read it....but they want you to whip the egg whites up and fold them into the rest of the batter.  If you know anything about me, you know I'm lazy, and I'm not about to whip up egg whites for waffles.  So, I modified the recipe a bit, lol.  I mixed all the wet ingredients first (thank you Alton Brown!), then the dry ingredients.  I did substitute Honey Crystals for the sugar.  What are honey crystals?  Ohhhh....they are awesome!

I found them in Utah while visiting JEM this past November!  I've been using them to substitute for sugar.

Anyway...I mixed up the batter and it seems a little thick so I added a little more milk.

They cooked up great in the waffle iron.  I then decided to top them with some raspberry jelly and some of the leftover chocolate ganache from the macarons from last night!

They were DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!

I will still use the Bisquick recipe, but these were pretty good!



A Trip to the Store...........

So, I decided yesterday to make macaron's for work today.  Only I had no cocoa powder left (used it all last week), so would need to go to the store to buy some.  No big deal, I could stop after work.  Except I wanted to go for a bike ride after work.  Getting out of work at 5:30 and home by 6, plus changing doesn't leave much time for riding before sunset at 7:45.....especially if  I run to the store first. 

I know, I know.....any amount of riding is better than none - but I prefer to ride at least an hour or more at a time.  So I came up with a brilliant idea!!!  I would ride to the store to buy the cocoa powder!

I went to mapquest, and the store is about 6 miles from my house - no big deal!  So, I got out at 5:30, got home by 6, changed lightening fast and was on the bike by 6:20!  Took me about 35min to ride to the store...much quicker than I rode on Saturday - yay!  Ran in and bought my cocoa powder and another bag of almonds (wouldn't want to run out!), and was back on the bike about 7.  Took another 35min to ride home (plus a few quick breaks on the side of the road) and got home about 7:45....just as it was getting dark.  Nothing like the motivation of the dark to make you ride faster!  I managed to ride just under 12 miles and averaged 10mph!

Probably won't get another chance to ride until Saturday morning.  Taking today off (the butt needs a break!) and am going to a retirement party for Wolf's best friend's dad tomorrow night, then Friday is off to Wolf's for the weekend :)   He's working Saturday morning, so I will probably head out on the bike for a few hours, as long as it's not supposed to rain - otherwise I'll be sleeping, lol.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cell phone saga...........

So, in one of my other posts, I mentioned that I dropped my cell phone on the ground while biking on Saturday.  I thought I'd share my experience thus far in getting a new phone.

I dropped the phone on Saturday, and there just happened to be a Verizon Wireless store in Harvard Square (yes, I might be the only one left that has VW - they have good coverage, what can I say?).  Wolf and I did our homework Saturday night looking at phones and plans, etc... and I knew what I wanted walking into the store.

I have insurance on my phone, and it would have replaced the screen or phone....but I was told on Sunday that there is a deductible of $100-$140 with the insurance.  Well...with what I saw online Saturday night, it was cheaper to get a new phone.  So I told the customer service rep what phone I was interested in (Samsung Galaxy S3).  They had the phone, and the color I wanted in stock - fabulous!  The sales guy came over to do the phone upgrade and plan change (apparently the plan I have no longer exists).  So, he tells me the phone ($100 with $50 mail in rebate), upgrade fee ($30 - total BS) and sales tax is $167.  I said "uhhh, that doesn't quite add up."  He assured me it did.  So I said, $100 + $30 + sales tax does not equal $167.  He then tells me the sales tax is charged on the FULL RETAIL PRICE of the phone - which just happens to be $600!!!!!  I told him that was ridiculous and crazy and was so ticked off I told him to forget everything and walked out!

I was totally pissed and close to tears.  I got outside and turned around and Wolf was right there, and put his arms around me.  That was it....I started crying.  He calmed me down and we talked rationally (well, he was being rational, I was being irrational) while walking back to where we parked.  As we were walking/talking he said there's always NH, which has no sales tax.  So I looked on my phone and there is a store in Nashua, and was open until 7pm (it was currently about 4:30).  So I told him, and he said 'tonight?"  and I said 'why not?'.  The rational him then said that we would be in Lowell next weekend and could go then, so as not to waste the gas (why is he always rational??), to which I responded I'd rather pay the $40 in gas than sales tax, lol.  By the time we got to the car I was torn....the rational part of me knew that waiting was the better option, but the irrational me just wanted a phone that day.  So, we compromised and went back to his apartment and looking online at amazon (he got his phone from Amazon) and Verizon's website.

Verizon's website was no better than the store (big surprise!), so we went off to Amazon.  Found the phone for $20 (with an existing wireless plan - which I have).  Awesome!  So we added it to the shopping cart.  When you do that, it asks for some info to determine if you are eligible for the phone upgrade (which I know I am).  It asked for phone number, ss# (last 4), and PIN.  So, I enter the required info and it keeps telling me it's wrong.  I tried a different PIN and it's still wrong.  Totally exasperated I said 'fuck it', we'll go next weekend to Nashua.

So, yesterday, I was relating the tale to someone and realized that MY ss# is not the one on the account - it's someone else's.  BINGO!  I bet that's why it wouldn't work!  So I tried it last night when I got home from work. It worked - yay!  So I went through everything, picked the new plan (because I can't keep my existing one) and paid.  Got an email overnight with a tracking number (should be here Wednesday).  I then went online and ordered the case and screen protectors for the phone.

Got an email this morning that my phone order was returned to Amazon because of something to do with Verizon.  Ugh!  So I call Verizon and explain to the girl what has happened.  She has no idea why (big surprise!!).  She offers to try the upgrade on the phone.  I told her fine, I wanted a total before giving her a Credit Card #, and then explain the sales tax issue.  Her total is $207 -$40 MORE than the store wanted to charge me.  I told her no, delete the upgrade.  While she was doing all this, it occured to me that maybe the Amazon order got kicked back because I was changing my phone AND plan.  So I asked her this, and she said it could be (I don't think she had any idea, but was going along with what I thought).  So I had her change just my wireless plan, and back date it to 8/2.  Got off the phone with her and ordered the phone again from Amazon.  Thus far today, I have received a shipping notice (with tracking number) for the phone from Amazon.  We'll see what tomorrow brings and if I actually receive the phone on Thursday!

Stay tuned!!  If I actually get this phone and get it activated it might be a miracle!  If it gets kicked back again, I'm going to Nashua on Sunday - so there!  lol


Monday, August 19, 2013

Finally....a new bike!!!!!!!

Well...not new right now....I got it in May.  I thought I had blogged about it, but apparently not!

So.....what made me decide on a new bike............

Well, the one I rode last season was fine, and I started thinking about a new one by the end of riding season.  My old one is the same one that I got as a teenager (12 or 13, I think) and was woefully too big for me.  I'm short (5 feet...barely) and the bike is a 1985 Men's Benny's special.  It was way too big for me when I got it (had to stand in the front stairs to get on and off of it, lol) and isn't suited any better now.

So, I made a deal with myself at the end of last season.....if I continued riding this season, I'd get a new bike at the end of this season (2013).  That was all fine.....until I got on the bike May 1st to start riding again.  It was painfully (!) obvious how ill-fitting the bike was, and I made the decision to see what was out there for bikes (and what the cost was going to be!).  I knew they wouldn't be inexpensive, but I needed some ideas.

After talking with a colleague at work, I went to Belmont Wheelworks to see what size bike I should be looking at and what types of prices I'm looking at.  I told them upfront that I was looking and seeing what was out there.  Well......since I wasn't ready to plunk down $$$ that day, they didn't want anything to do with me.  They told me what size frame I should be looking at, and showed me one....yes that was over $1000.  Now, I know there are bikes out there less than $1k, so I basically said 'kiss off' to them and decided to go to my local bike shop (Peterson's Bike Shop - Raynham, MA). 

So, the following week Wolf and I went to Peterson's and look at bikes.  I told the guy there that I was just looking at my options, etc...  He was so NICE!!!!!   He recognized me, since I've been bringing my bike there for tune-ups for quite a few years now.  He went through all the brands of bikes they carry, explained the differences in the price-points and recommended a few brands/styles for me (since I'm short and all, lol).  His main recommendation was a Lexa Trek bike, women's specific design. 

After going through all the price-points, I opted for the least expensive one (I had an amount in mind that I could spend before walking in, and it fit in my price range).  He didn't bat an eye, and went through all the options for the bike with me.  When we were finally done, I had decided to buy the bike and told him as much.  He fitted me for the bike again (he had done so before looking at the bikes), and I ordered a new bike!!  It was going to take a week or so to come in, so I had to be patient.  If you know me...I HATE to be patient! 

He called about a week later that the bike was in, so I made an appointment to go in and have it fitted specifically to me.  The guy was great!  He adjusted the seat height, the handlebars, and adjusted a bunch of other stuff for me (I don't remember it all).  Out I walked with a brand new bike!!!!  and it only cost be about $750!

I took it for a ride shortly afterwards (one morning before work) and snapped this pic after I got back home from riding:
I love it!!  It's black, purple and white.  The seat is my own seat that I already had, as is the bag on back.

Here are some pictures that Wolf took of me on the bike (not really riding it, therefore not helmet):

So, I love my new bike like you can't imagine!  I've put just about 100 miles on it since I got it - and plan on putting a lot more on it in the coming weeks!  I've ridden it around home a bit, and also taken it out by the Charles in Boston, and most recently along the Minuteman Bikeway.  Heading out riding this weekend again....maybe the Charles again....maybe the Minuteman again....we'll have to wait and see!


Charity Bike Rides

Last year I signed up for and rode in a charity bike ride on Martha's Vineyard on Columbus Day weekend.  It was 62 miles long....a hard 62miles (20mph headwind ALL DAY).  I finished, but was exhausted at the end.  Anyway, this year I have signed up for another one - this time to benefit Buzzard's Bay Watershed.  It's a 75mile ride started in Westport, MA and ending in Woods Hole, MA.  It's a one-day ride. 

Since it's been about 8weeks since I got on the bike, I figured I need to get my butt back on it if I want to be able to ride 75miles in a day.  So, this weekend I got back out on the bike.  I tackled the Minuteman Bikeway stretching from Cambridge to Bedford (about 10 miles).  There are a few off-shoots in to Billerica and one to Concord.  All total I had figured my ride would be about 40 miles (I started a few miles from Cambridge). 

There weren't many pictures along the Bikeway like I had hoped, but found this in Arlington Center:

It was a very nice ride.  The Bikeway starts in Cambridge, at Alewife station and winds it's way through Cambridge, Arlington and Lexington before ending in Bedford.  I got to Bedford a lot sooner than I expected.  The end of the line in Bedford is at an old railroad depot:

From here, there are two to Billerica and one to Concord.  I attempted the one to Billerica, only to find out it is not paved.  That was ok as it seemed to be packed dirt...then my tires started slipping and I was afraid I'd fall.  So I turned around and was going to head off to Concord, but first I stopped in to the building above to see what there as to see.  It was mostly a gift shop type of place, but I was talking to the man working and asked if he knew if the path to Concord was paved.  It wasn't, and it was getting sort of late (5-ish I think), so I decided to head back to Cambridge.  Plus, I passed a Trader Joe's on the bikeway and wanted to stop for bananas and corn on the cob.

I ended up riding about 45minutes in between rest breaks, which is up from 30minutes last year.  I also packed trail mix to eat on the bike...preferring real food to energy bars.  I think I might add some more dried fruits to it for more carbs next time.  I failed to note on my map where the TJ's was, and ended up skipping a rest stop because I kept thinking TJ's was just up ahead.  I was never so happy to see this sign up ahead!!!

So, by the time I got to TJ's my legs and me were pooped.  There's a convenient bike rack just off the Bikeway, and stairs up to TJ's.  It's still amazing to me that I could continue biking, but can't walk up or down a flight of stairs after riding.  So I locked up my bike, took my valuables with (bike computer, wallet, phone, helmet) and off I went to TJ's. 

I bought a few bananas and a couple ears of corn.  Stashed them in my Camelbak and proceeded to unlock my bike.  My first mistake was not putting the wallet and phone away first thing.  I set my helmet (which had the phone in it) on my bike seat and went to unlock the bike.  Can you see where this is going????   Yup.........the helmet fell off the bike seat, and the phone landed face down on the concrete.  I am now the proud owner of a cracked phone screen!!!  (it's not nearly as exciting as it sounds).  Getting a new phone next weekend.

I got back on the bike and continued on my way back to where I started.  All told, I rode about 30 miles in about 3.5 hours.  It's quite a bit slower than I used to ride, but today's goal was about time in the saddle (or TITS as one of my friends calls it - awesome!) not about speed.  Gotta get the butt used to the seat again - how quickly it forgets!!!

The plan is to ride an hour or so after work each night.  Next weekend I'll be out again, and I think I'm going to work on speed this time.  Planning to head out early in the am, rather than the afternoon like this time.  Might even tackle the Bikeway twice if I'm up to it!

A new baking adventure............macarons!

So, I am always on the look-out for new things to bake/make.  I'm not sure how I happened upon them, but I found link for a recipe for chocolate French macarons.  No, not macaroons (the coconut ones), but macarons (the meringue-like ones).  I've been getting adventurous lately with my baking.

I did not make up this recipe, lol, instead I found it here:  Chocolate French Macarons   Apparently there are several methods to making macarons.  This recipe is the French method with egg whites.  I don't know much about the other methods (or really this one either, lol).

Here is the recipe as given in the link above:

Chocolate Macarons
Makes about fifteen cookies
Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris (Broadway) by David Lebovitz

Macaron Batter
  • 1 cup (100 gr) powdered sugar
  • ½ cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces, 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized)
  • 3 tablespoons (25 gr) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons (65 gr) granulated sugar
Here are my almonds, sugar, cocoa mixed together:
Here are my egg whites before they got to the correct consistency:
I had some issues with this.  First, I didn't think there was enough in my bowl, then it turned out my whip attachment was too high.  I eventually got medium-stiff egg whites after a lot of whipping!
Here are the baked cookies, some of which have been filled with the ganache recipe in the link:

Here they are all done!

I learned a few things after making these:  my egg whites needed to be stiffer, I didn't mix/fold my batter enough, and I should probably lower the baking temp a little.  I'm going to make another batch this week, so we'll see how they turn out!

Oh, and they taste awesome!!  Even better after a few days!

ICES Certification

Ahhhhh.............Certification!  Where to start????

How about 2 years ago when I signed up for the test (to be taken this past August at the ICES Convention in Lexington KY).  I previously posted about Certification, you can read it here: Click Me!

So, in the previously link post, I said I would update everyone on my preparations, etc....  Obviously I didn't.  Part of it is because I am lazy and haven't blogged like I should be, the other part is because there's a very good chance some of the adjudicators could have ended up reading my blog ( was mostly due to laziness, lol). 

So, you'd think with two years to plan and prepare that it would have been a breeze, right?  Had I spent two years preparing it might have been!  I, however, have learned that life changes drastically in two years - sometimes in ways you never could have imagined.  When I signed up, I was working part-time (though hopeful for full-time employment) and hadn't yet met Wolf (there's a blog post somewhere about him, I think).  So, I had all the time in the world to do anything I wanted! the two years since signing up, I am employed full-time (and then some!) and have been spending every weekend with Wolf (which doesn't seem like enough time sometimes).

Needless to say...combine all that with my penchant for procrastination and you get about 4 weeks time to prepare for Certification.  I know....I know....what can I say?   So, in that 4wk time span I had the following that needed to be accomplished:  order dummies, cover two dummies in fondant, make gumpaste flowers [roses (3), rosebuds (3), sweet peas (25), rose leaves (30) and rose petals (31)], flood 6 collars (3 top, 3 bottom), flood 12 side panels, pack certification stuff, pack the car, etc....

I managed to get all the flowers and flower parts made, as well as ordering the dummies, first.  Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the sweet peas or the rose leaves.....these were finished in KY days before Certification.  Here are what the roses and rosebuds looked like:

Next I focused on getting my collars and panels flooded and drying....since they need to be stable enough to withstand the drive to KY.  I made the icing and flooded the collars and panels in the span of two days (approx. 8 days before leaving).  This should have been PLENTY of time for them to dry before driving.  I did them on a Thursday and Friday.  On Monday, I checked the collars....and they were marshmallow almost!  You can see the finger marks I put in them....without much resistance at all.

The oddest thing were the ripples I saw in the collars, and some of them had liquid 'oozing' out from the collar!  I had never seen anything like this before and couldn't imagine what caused it. They had purposely been in a closed air conditioned room for 4 days - they should not have been this wet!

So, I called MJ, the RI expert that I know, to ask her opinion on what happened.  At this point, if the collars and panels couldn't be done and dried for KY, there was no point in bringing anything else for Certification.  Through a discussion, we determined that the likely cause of my problems was too much liquid in the royal icing that I made.  I thought about it afterwards, and realized I had used liquid egg whites to make my royal icing...not real egg whites.  While this might not normally be a problem, I probably needed to use more powdered sugar than my recipe(s) call for.  So, I through all the collars and panels out (they were no good), re-made the royal icing with real egg whites, and re-flooded the collars.  Checked them the next day and they were already drier than the previous ones had been (I tested the test puddles after all).  So, I piped the panels over two days, and could only do 8 of the hands simply wouldn't pipe anymore.  So, my collars and panels were re-piped only 2-3 days before needing to drive with them!

I, fortunately, was packing/organizing my tools and stuff for Certification as I went along at home, so I didn't need to spend an entire night packing.  I managed to fit the packing in every night.  By Thursday night, everything in the house was packed, all I needed to do was pack the car when I got home from work on Friday (we were leaving Saturday morning).

To add to all car needed a new engine and took 4 weeks to get done!  I picked it up the Monday (5 days!) before leaving for Certification - so I was a little stressed about that too.  I got in the car to go to work on Friday morning and the brake light was on.  Great!  Just what I need the day before I'm leaving for a 2k mile road trip!  So, when I got to work I called the guy that did the engine work and told him what was going on.  He said to bring it in and he'd take a look at it right away.  So, I explained to my boss what was going on and left.  Fortunately, it was just a brake caliper that was bad.  He had it fixed and I was out of there in an hour!  Yay!  and it wasn't expensive!  Double Yay!

The rest of the packing and the drive down went fine, with few issues.  Since there were three of us in the car, plus my Certification stuff, plus our luggage, I had to use the Cargo Carrier I have for my car (it goes into a receiver hitch).  Now, I'm sure the car was WAY overloaded!  Once we got all the luggage on the carrier, it was pretty low to the ground, and we scraped the ground pulling into Cracker Barrel for breakfast.  Slightly concerned that this might become an issue, we stopped at a Home Depot in Pennsylvania (it took me a while to figure out what to do about the carrier hanging so low) and purchased additional cargo straps and literally tied the carrier to the roof rack,  I'm sure we were a sight to see on the highway!

Not sure why it looks was level before we drove off with it.

So, we made it Kentucky Sunday by dinnertime and had the car unloaded and one packed hotel room!'re probably wondering how Certification went, huh??  After all...that's probably why you're reading this post! 

I will start by saying it was one of the most stressful things I've ever done.  For someone who keeps as much stress out of her life as possible, it was almost my undoing.  I am proud that I didn't quit, and that I finished the day with three pieces to present to the adjudicators.  Sadly, not all those pieces were finished.  However, only the adjudicators and I could tell.

The day started off ok, but things started not cooperating pretty quickly.  When they didn't cooperate, I put them aside and started on something else.  This worked for a little while...until I had to go back to what wasn't working out.  One thing that was nice, and helped my ego a little.......while I was piping the lattice work for my nirvana panels I overheard one of the adjudicators say to another to look at how I was piping my lattice work - it was overlapping my flooding area.  At first I thought 'Oh crap...they're not going to like that'.  Then heard her say it was brilliant!!!!  That it made a stronger bond with the flooding.  YAY!!!!!!!  That was just what I needed to hear at that moment in time!!!  I was also told later, by many of the adjudicators, that my lattice work looked like solid from far away.

At one point, the stress go to me, and I lost it when a coupler ring wouldn't unscrew for me.  I could feel the tears welling up, so I handed it to my assistant and asked her to take it off, and went off to the bathroom, telling her I'd be right back.   I didn't make it out of the Certification room before the tears started in earnest.  I walked in the bathroom and couldn't stop crying.  Fortunately, one of the adjudicators and the test administrator came in after me (I also consider them both friends, as I know them personally).  They hugged me and calmed me down and made me feel better.  Before they came in, I considered walking out the opposite side of the bathroom and not coming back - and I'm not a quitter.  So, I composed myself and went back and just started doing whatever I could to make things look like they were getting finished.

One of the adjudicators had recently completed her first Tri-Athlon (swimming, running, biking).  Even though she and her wonderful husband finished hours after everyone else did - they never gave up, no matter what.  I know her personally and am proud of her for not giving up.  I kept telling myself that if she could finish the tri-Athlon then I could finish the Certification test.  She didn't give up when she wanted to, and neither was I!  I don't like to name people in my blog in case they don't want to be, but if you know anything about ICES and cake decorators, you can figure out who she is! 

I started assembling my Nirvana collars and panels.  I first collar I picked up ended up shattering in my hand (after flipping it over and piping icing on it, and flipping it back)...just as I was about to set it on the cake.  I saw one of the adjudicators (who had been watching me) just turn and walk away - it kind of made me chuckle a little...I'd have done the same!  The second collar when on fine, as did the panels.  One panel fell and broke and I almost freaked out because I only had 2 extra.  But the rest went on fine.....except for a large (to me) gap in the back where the panels were supposed to meet.  I ignored it for the time being and put the top collar on (no issues - yay!), and figured I'd deal with it later.  I dealt with it by piped a big shell over the open space, as opposed to the small, dainty ones I piped around the rest of the panels.

During the lunch break I knew I was way behind and would have to start ditching some of the 'extra' things I was going to do.  I cut a bunch of things out and felt ok going back after lunch.  I didn't ask how much time was left, and couldn't see the countdown clock (I had my contacts out).  I was about to ask when they announced 1.5hrs left.  Holy crap!  I looked around and I had WAY more than 1.5hrs of work left!!  Instead of panicking, I realized I wasn't going to finish and had to decide what wasn't getting done.  I quickly made a rose and sweet pea (in under 5 min I think!) so that I could put my dried ones from home on the display.  I dusted some roses and sweet peas and put 1 rose and 5 sweet peas on the display.  I tried to finish my oriental stringwork, but couldn't get the last set of dots to adhere to pipe the last (4th) set of strings.  So, I said oh well and fixed what I could.

Here are the final pieces I ended up with:

As seen in the Cake Room at Convention

Close-up of my rose and sweet peas

Close-up of my buttercream cake

Close-up of Oriental Stringwork

Close-up of Nirvana collars/panel

Close-up of embroidered butterflies (6) and Nirvana panel

I ended up not starting one of my skills, and not finished two others.  The adjudicators did score what I finished (and even some of what I didn't) and had I been able to finish, I'm confident I'd have achieved CSA status.   Will I do it again?   I really don't know.  I did this for me, no one else.  I know if I put the time into preparing for it that I can do it.  Two years is a long time to sign up ahead of time for something - life can change so much in two years.  Two years ago when I signed up my heart was 100% in it.....a year ago maybe 75%.....6 months ago maybe 50%.  Rather than throw away the opportunity I gave it all I could at this time.  If I ever decide to do it again, I'd sign up at the 1 year mark and if there's space then it was meant to be.