Happy 10th wedding anniversary to US! No, not me and Coco Cake Land. Me and my husband and main squeeze of 16 years… yup… license to drive (each other CRAZEE)! We got married on a sunny crisp cold day in January, snow on the ground and our wedding was vintage Hawaiian themed. I decided to create a cake inspired by our original wedding cake – this pink pineapple wedding cake! Vanilla bean cake layers and black currant jam filling.
The OG pink pineapple wedding cake, made by Ganache Patisserie here in Vancouver. It was mango, with the cutest chocolate pineapple on top.
Basically such children back then! 10 years ago. Sheesh.
Not a bad looking lady, amirite?
Our dearly missed kitties, Coco and Taco!!! Taco was a jumbotron, 20+ pounds of glory. Wedding day pics by our amazing friends Jonetsu!
RT, I love you so very much. Not even a pink cake topped with a pineapple can express how much. Happy 10th wedding anniversary – as your Grandma remarked on our wedding day: “may the winds be fair, may the sailing be smooth, with the only squalls coming from the next generation.” xo Lyndsay
Play hard, play fair, play clean. CLEANSPORT. This was a slogan to one of my dad’s myriad of business ideas, I believe this one was around 1990?? A dry-cleaning business for the local NHL team, the Vancouver Canucks. That slogan in particular has stuck in my brain for decades. My dad Gerry also had a titanium bicycle company. And a car memorabilia shop in Yaletown, way before Yaletown became this hub of fancified capitalism that it is today. But Gerry was a produce man for most of his working life, fruit and vegetable purveyor, the beloved jovial VP, just as he is now a pickle ball man in his retired life (and a dealer of pickle ball paddles!). No pickles involved however – just a woofle-type plastic ball, oversized paddles and a badminton court inside a community center gymnasium, the squeak of clean sneakers and many enthusiastic seniors. I also recall, while helping him clean out the garage of our childhood home before my parents sold it, coming across business proposals from other folks, including a “smoothies and wraps” restaurant to be housed at the Vancouver airport. People were always hitting him up with business ideas, just as I have run several past him over many years. Dad, remember the clunky red Mercedes Benz that some guy gave to you, to try and repay a loan?? Hehe.
My dad is 73 years old, an age that sounds on paper to be rather ancient. But when I think of him, he is the jokiest, and kindest and most generous of people. He is perpetually cool as a cucumber, in his Hawaiian shirt, sunglasses, or matching his sock colour to his shoes. Fresh Gerry Style! My dad has had his fair share of health problems, including emergency open heart surgery in 2010 to repair a torn aorta. He was on the ski hill at his volunteer job. He keeled over but was still able to talk. Two doctors happened to be close by and diagnosed him quickly and urgently. It was the 2010 Olympics, so the ski hill was a no-fly-zone – he was whisked down the mountain on a rescue sled then flown straight to the hospital in Vancouver, where he was then rushed into an operating room. I remember coming to the hospital, only my sister had had a chance to see him before he went in – I was so scared, tears pouring down my face as we huddled in the waiting room. We were eventually told to go home, as the surgery wouldn’t be completed until 2 in the morning. I slept at my mom’s place, but barely slept a wink – the phone rang at 230am, my mom spoke to the surgeon. Dad had survived.
Admittedly, I worry about my dad every day. But every day I also feel so lucky to still have my parents in my life, and for Teddy to know his Poh Poh and Go Go, and to love them and laugh with them. Every birthday cake I get to make, for any one of my loved ones, no matter their age – I feel like there’s a million micro-feelings baked into each one, unseen, but felt by me. Particularly when candles are lit, and the first clumsy bar of amateurs singing Happy Birthday begins – it fills my heart.
I saw Moana over the holidays with my sisters and all our kids, and I wept through the entire thing. I’m not sure if it was brought on by the fertility drugs I had started taking, but there is this awesome grandma in Moana who is a total nut and just so totally wise and cool. The type of grandma I aspire to be! From the moment her death is foreshadowed with an unsteady wobble of a cane, my eyes welled up. I ached for my own grandma, and missed her so much. My Poh Poh was the coolest of the cool and I think about her and miss her a lot. This movie, I tell ya. It has heart. It has the music. It’s got jokes and beauty and an awesome headstrong powerful young girl at the forefront. TEARS!!
Additional all Italics side note: only a few months ago Rich and I started watching Downton Abbey, because I like to be at least five years behind on my culture maven-ing and au courant-ness. Every episode I scream at the TV “WHY ARE YOU GETTING DRESSED UP SO INSANELY FOR DINNER WITH JUST YOUR OWN FAMILY!???” and also, the concern of a maid or valet leaving or being fired (or being imprisoned) – “whatever are we to do???” Idea: DRESS YOURSELF. YOU CAN PUT ON YOUR OWN PYJAMAS I KNOW YOU CAN. I realize by the third season the storylines are getting a little iffy and rickdickulous and supremely soap-opera heavy but it’s my main source of distraction right now, so let me live. If I could be anyone on Downton it would be Mrs.Patmore, BTW. She throws around salmon mousse and vichyssoise and souffles like a casual dream, and damn she can plate! Do you see those beautifully refined cakes, trays of perfectly cooked fish, raspberry mousse? Woman is a fine food stylist and has the best sense of humour.
Gerry Sung is the man indeed. Here he is, being amused by Teddy performing “onstage.” I love you so much Dad! Happy happy birthday! Here’s to staying healthy, and happy fun times in 2017! xo Lyndsay
And with that fantastic title, I welcome my blog to the year 2017, a futuristic hover board year of time travel and silver space suits. What better way to welcome the new year than with a post about my annual mammogram? January 2015 was the month where I was diagnosed with breast cancer, an experience that ripped me a new one, over the course of two years, and continues to flavour my daily life.
A quiet hallway in a medical office building, and inside, a bustling X-ray and mammogram clinic, and inside that, a secret door to another waiting room, this one piled with Vogue magazines of yesteryear. I’ve always loved fashion, and fashion magazines – even in my most hardcore feminist days, I was drawn to the glossy unattainable beauty, million dollar photo shoots, sheaths of draping fox fur and angular alien models. YES I love your giant boxy double breasted $7,400 blazer with gold buttons. YES I love your red tights with green strappy heels, fine leather goods and freshly snipped bobs. YES I love how you place both hands on your hips and jut your shoulders forward and your elbows back as if it wasn’t the most awkward position in the world. YES every facial expression drips with pre-coital lust, head cocked back, and just-wet hair strands stuck to candy-apple red lipsticked faces.
Every day I reach for the exact outfit I wore yesterday – a denim shirt with holes in the armpits, high waisted jeans that cleverly cover my gunt. Maybe yesterday’s socks. I put on my red lipstick, comb my bangs and the day begins.
Over the Christmas holidays we went up to our family cabin in the mountains. I started a new drug up there, a fertility drug, which makes me feel like I’m face down in mud, dragging my body around in total exhaustion, foggy brained. I was feeling so sedentary, and so chubby from holiday gorging, and bloated and so fatigued from these drugs. I just looked in the mirror and thought, well this is it. I’ve officially let myself go. I’ve given up, on looks, on maintaining a semblance of a figure. Pass me another slice of mud pie. I’m 40, I’m tired, I’m old. GOODBYE LIFE. Time to quit my blog, social media, and disappear into a lifetime of hibernation and hiding my body in photos. This line of thinking was thankfully short lived but IT DOES EXIST IN THE MIND and it comes out in those dark moments.
Back to the mammogram. The technician, what a cruel and unusual punisher of women. She disliked me immediately, and I am THE FRIENDLIEST. We head straight into the mammography room and no “hello, how are you today, this is what we are going to do today.” No, instead, a tired, annoyed and gruff “TAKE YOUR TOP OFF.” She points to the corner of the room where there is a chair to put my clothes on. Suddenly I feel like I’m at a Harvey Weinstein audition, it’s uncomfortable but I do as she says. So I’m standing in a room with a total stranger, topless in blue jeans and winter boots, she comes over and just man-handles my body parts and jams them into position on the ledge of the machine. There are two hard plastic sheets that compress your breasts flat as pancakes while the breasts are x-rayed and it is painfully comedic, or is it comically painful? I get it, lady – you handle boobs all day and all night. But a slight amount of friendliness and bedside manner would make it more comfortable for all… but I’m going to *zen cupcake* on this. Breasts compressed, hot halitosis breath in my face telling me “DON’T BREATHE. STOP BREATHING. OK, BREATHE.” Then it was all done.
I got dressed, sat in the waiting room. Two years ago, they made me come back in and x-rayed my boob from a myriad of extremely painful angles. So I waited. Earlier that day, as I had a shower, my mind spiralled straight to this future recurrence, which they would find today, only this time it wouldn’t be small, but instead I’d have a double mastectomy, more aggressive chemo but it wouldn’t work, it would all be too late. And instead of my life path veering in this bright direction of a new baby, and finishing my book, and working on new fun projects and cakes, my life path would take ten steps backward, right back into the world of medicine and doctors and uncertainty, but this time a certainty – incurable. And then I imagined the songs I would like played at my funeral, and what photos we might use for a slideshow, and what food might be served, and who might attend. I would want it to be truly sad, with a coffin covered in gorgeous flowers, because dying is sad, and a place for people to be allowed to grieve, because it’s tough when you go to a service and you want to bawl and be together and grieve but you’re not sure, because it’s deemed a celebration, yet you don’t feel like celebrating.
Another technician popped her head out – “Lyndsay?”
I was all ready to go back in there for more tests – they had found a lump, something in my other breast, the cancer had come back and spread not only to my other breast but throughout my body. This was it. My last year on Earth.
She smiled slightly at me, a friendly gesture (she probably knew what a jerk her colleague was, the one I had).
“You can go. We’ll send your results to your doctor.” I jumped out of my seat, green parka in hand.
“OK! THANK YOU!”
So there you have it, beginning of 2017! A possibly clear mammogram. Happy new year, everyone. xo Lyndsay
Mud pie! Not a sludge of sandpit dirt and murky water (and greasy children’s bum-touching hand germs), I promise you. No, this is an incredibly easy ice cream pie that you can slam together for the holidays or eat with a giant spoon while watching the 1984 George C Scott version of The Christmas Carol on the telly while your Christmas tree lights sparkle and twinkle. Can you melt butter? Can you open a package or two? Can you measure out four ingredients and whisk them together on low heat over a stovetop? Can you sous-vide Lobster Thermidor in your underwear? YOU CAN MAKE THIS PIE! This is my mom Linda’s OG holiday pie recipe and it’s the one our entire family has clamoured over for decades.
So what does one do when they are approaching the ripe and refined age of 40? How about HAVE A CHILDREN’S STYLE BIRTHDAY PARTY!????? Yeah. I turned 40 on November 15th! An age I was anticipating with both fascination and dread. For months I was hemming and hawing over what to do. My first idea was to have a ginormous 100+ person bash at our house, catered by a taco truck with the theme “Fruity Forty” and everyone would wear bright colours and I’d make a bunch of cakes that looked like fruit. Then, my second idea was to bury myself in blankets and cry and not want to do anything because 40 just sounded so OLD to me. Then, my third idea was to slap myself and remember that I could have easily not even lived to be 40. Then, my fourth idea was to think: “What do I actually even like doing right now??”
1. I like basketball
2. I like playing the drums
3. I like karaoke
So I decided to fuggedabout having a fancy-ass party. No expensive new dress, champagne and canapés here. Instead, a homemade SNACK STADIUM, a Dairy Queen Garfield ice cream sheet cake (!!!) and some of my dearest friends and family running around like 5 year olds in a gym.
Once the theme of Sporty Forty was established, it made perfect sense that this would be the moment in time by which I would finally make my own SNACK STADIUM. There are many examples of these on the interweb – slabs of meat-filled sandwiches stacked high around a guacamole field center; brand-name logos and trays of taco fixings. We based our snack stadium on a mix of this tray-based one and the cuteness factor of this foamboard non-guacamole-field one.
A trip to the dollar store around the corner yielded these amazing brightly coloured sheets of foamboard for $2.25 each. I also picked up a few $1.25 packages of aluminum mini loaf pans in two sizes. Gather together a pencil, a utility knife/box cutter and a glue gun too. Rich traced the loaf pans onto the foam board and used the utility knife to cut out the shapes. He then cut brackets out of the foam board to elevate it into “stadium stands.”
While Rich was constructing the stands, I worked on the washi tape pennant garlands – fold washi tape over baker’s twine, then trim the tape into the pennant flag shape with sharp scissors!
I wasn’t too keen on a guacamole field, for fear of it turning brown and looking icky – luckily I found this bright green foam board which acted as the base for the stadium. We added strips of white paper (not very accurate at all, oops!) and I cut out a little brown football to place in the middle because … sports????
I loved the scoreboard – Rich’s idea to make the score 4-0. Heh heh. The HOME and AWAY are stickers I found at a craft superstore. I just have a collection of this stuff lying around as I’m a craft and typography hoarder. You could totally draw the letters/numbers too but I love the clean look of the letter stickers/stamps.
Annnnnd I drew this MASCOT. GO BEAVERS! Hehe. To add a little more sporty flair to the snack stadium.
Sung Stadium!!! Customized!!
And the stadium filled with snacks!! The stadium was kinda pretty much more for show – we had bowls of other snacks and food beside this guy. It’s almost like it fits just enough snacks for 2 actual people to munch on.
I used Crush because they had the cutest cans and colours. Duh.
I added my late grandfather’s old golf trophy too… because I thought it gave it a nice aesthetic and also golf + football = MAKES SENSE??
Hehe! FUN. Extra special props to my cousin Mike (and his little guy H) who drove up from Seattle to surprise me, just for the party!
I also wore my actual jacket from grade 9 and I got the green basketball jersey from a vintage shop. Pardon the VERY SWEATY look here – we really did play sports! I’m so glad I followed my gut (literally and figuratively) and went for the sports party. It was such a blast. (Special thanks to RT and my sisters for all your help!) 40 is a piece o’ sh*t! Not really! xo Lyndsay
I made these Asian bowl cut sugar cookies for Cynthia, to celebrate the birth of her INSANELY CUTE new little baby boy. Why?? Because every Asian has a picture of themselves as a kid with some variation of an Asian bowl cut… because, stick-straight shiny black hair makes the most beautiful, perfect no-fuss bowl cut …snip snip… hehe. Cynthia, you know Luke will be rocking one of these cuts in a few years while he’s wearing a mini tuxedo playing the piano like the Asian prodigy he will be!!
To make these smiley faced Asian bowl cut cookies:
2. Let cookies cool completely; frost cookies with a very thin, smooth layer of your favourite buttercream recipe or canned frosting.
3. Colour a small amount of white fondant with “copper/skin tone” gel food colouring, or whichever skin shade you want to make them. Colour a small amount of white fondant with black gel food colouring, or pre-purchase a small container of black fondant. Roll out the “skin” fondant to 1/8 inch thickness; using the same round cookie cutter, punch out circles. Gently place fondant circles on top of frosted cookies and press lightly into frosting to adhere.
4.Next, roll out the black fondant to 1/8 inch thickness; using the same round cookie cutter, punch out circles. Using a sharp knife, cut the black circles in two to create the bowl cut hairstyle. Using a small amount of frosting, stick the black hair onto the fondant face.
5. Finally, create by hand eye and mouth shapes by making tiny black fondant balls and pressing down lightly to create flatter circles. Alternately, cut out the shapes using the tips of open circle piping tips to punch out mini circles. Adhere with a toothpick’s tip amount of frosting or a teensy amount of water.
I have adored Cynthia for years now. Not only because she is an incredibly talented photographer and writer and maker of crazy-good-looking food - but because she has become a dear friend, like a cherished childhood pen pal, a woman who when I receive an email from her, or a comment on my blog, (or even a package in the mail to cheer me up with RAINBOW SPRINKLE BROWNIES!) – her thoughtfulness, intelligence, sweetness and sense of humour just radiates, and I always say out loud – “DAMN, THAT CYNTHIA IS SO NICE! I JUST LOVE HER!” Cynthia, I am so pumped for you on the arrival of your lil boo! SO much beautiful, crazy, insane-making, poo-filled, drooly, love-explosive and hilarious goodness ahead. He will change your life in ways you never knew, as I know he already has in just his first few days! What a guy! So much love to you, mama! xo Lyndsay
Lookie! All of the epic #threeredbowls blog posts by some seriously talented folks (thank you Steph and Alana for hosting!):
I made these cutie hilarious blue Totoro cookies for TOTORO WEEK! I love how they look like slices of crazy-eyed, stunned sky blue toast. Remember when I got really into making sugar cookies there for a hot minute, inspired by Holly, Vickie and Patti?? Yeah, they’re still the best at cookies. Then I discovered Kikko’s freaking adorable sugar cookies over at Meet Me At Mike’s. I loooove how perfectly CUTE but also edgy and weird they are – a complete fantasy wonderland of sugar cookie magic. I am still hovering around a C+ for effort with my cookies but darn it the results are always pretty satisfying!
HOT TIPS: I used an R2D2 cookie cutter for the Totoro shape and then used the triangular cone tip of an ice cream cone cutter to punch out ears, then simply pressed the ears into the R2D2 toast shape before baking. I feel like you could use any simple shape like a circle cutter or square cutter to make a Totoro cookie – making them “Totoro” is all in the decorating – crazy eyes, whiskers and a tummy! I chilled the cookies for 10 minutes in the freezer before putting them into the oven. I don’t think that step made a damn bit of difference this time but oftentimes it helps to maintain the shape of the cookie. For the whiskers, nose and eye dots, I used royal icing coloured with Dutch-process cocoa powder. I added a fair amount of cocoa powder, and then added tiny amounts of water as needed to get it back to piping consistency. I liked this idea much better than colouring royal icing with black gel colour!
Fuck cancer and the demonic horse it rode it on. It rode into my life almost two years ago now, which is hard to fathom – in a way, it took 18 months out of my life. But in another way, it gave me more reason to live, and it gave me the opportunity to look at my life differently. Going through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment has become part of my life story, whether I like it or not – and I’m sure other survivors can relate to this, but often it just seems like it was all a surreal and horrific dream, a chapter book happening to someone else.
October is breast cancer awareness month – and I “celebrated” it last year by creating a post all about my breast cancer, as told through cake. I wanted to make something again this year – and all of a sudden an idea struck me, because I wanted to do a fundraiser of sorts. So I started the #fuckcancercake weird little cake campaign on a whim on Instagram with the idea that for every Fuck Cancer cake created in the month of October and posted on Instagram, I would personally donate $5 (along with my initial donation of $100) towards The Lipstick Project – an incredible organization here in Vancouver that provides massages and manicures to those living in hospice and their caregivers.
I remember walking down to my local manicure place, the friendliest Vietnamese ladies who knew my story, saw me go from long hair to no hair, and were so kind to me! Just getting that fantasy hour of pampering, and a fresh manicure and pretty polish, made me feel a little more put together, a little less bald, a little more human. Looking down at pretty hands. So I know how sometimes a little thing like getting your nails painted or a massage can uplift a person’s spirit, if only temporarily.