“Mom!! Try to poo a lot so then you’ll have a baby!” Teddy said this to me yesterday out of the blue. Just imagining what his furiously-working-overtime little 4-year-old brain is parsing together about how babies are made makes me laugh/smile/cry… He’s been asking for a baby sister for a year or so now. “Time to get pregnant in your tummy, ok mom??” is another tidbit he’s thrown at me, as if I can snap fingers (or labia) together and out of my vagina flies a fully formed baby girl. Other things Teddy has said lately: I’ll tell you what you are! You’re just the bun of a hot dog! or Go away, ya bum clown!!! (referring to, what I can only guess is human butt cheeks dolled up in clown makeup.) Things Teddy doesn’t know/remember/understand: his mama had breast cancer, and may or may not have any viable eggies, and is also 40 years old, an age by which reproductivity takes a deep nosedive. His mama has already tried implanting one frozen embryo into her uterus, but it swam away and didn’t want to stick. She has two more frozen embryos on ice, and will try implanting those sometime soon, but the longer she is off of her Tamoxifen, the more terrified she is of cancer coming back.
Today is International Women’s Day, and it feels more pertinent than ever. How did women’s vaginas ever become reduced to being called a pussy? Do vaginas look like hairy little cats somehow? The vag is one powerful organ. Oh, a pussy? Yeah, babies come out of those – vaginas are basically superhuman. So I made a cake for the vagina today. xo Lyndsay
I named this cake Rosie after Rosie The Riveter, feminist icon, We Can Do It, yes we can. Protest cakes continue – because resistance can be aesthetically pleasing, it can be kawaii, it can be a buttercream rose cake. Check out thelittle video I made for this on Instagram!
Michaela asked me a bunch of questions so I thought I’d include the full interview here in case anyone was interested, a lot of it’s about my Instagram account – because I do often get questions about how to build your Instagram/blog, and what apps I use etc… So here it is. What inspires me… mom style … my favourite Instagram accounts and why, etc!
Teen Vogue: Where do you get your inspiration for Instagram?
Me: Colour, comedy, consciousness and cuteness inspire my Instagram.
What would you describe your aesthetic as?
Artfully messy colourful minimalism!
What is the purpose of your Instagram account?
Initially to share my cakes – but it’s become a place of community, support and connection – I’ve met lots of my Instagram buddies in real life now which is so great. Instagram is like the pen-pal-ing of this decade. I feel like I could go get coffee and pastries with so many people all around the world now.
Has being on Instagram presented you with any great opportunities?
I’ve worked with some nice brands – so monetarily, yes – but connection may very well be the coolest part that I’ve experienced.
Do you spend a lot of time editing your photos and what apps do you use?
Not really. I sometimes use VSCO Cam but more often I lazily edit right in the Instagram app. Most of my photos are also taken with my good old iPhone 6s!
Your tips for creating a great feed and building a following?
The feeds I like are ones that seem genuine, somewhat jokey, sometimes serious, with beautiful content and funny or compelling writing. My tips for creating a great feed – go with your gut, don’t try to fit into anyone else’s mould – be yourself and enjoy it. I think if you enjoy it, it comes across. Follow people you actually like, and interact with them because you want to. That’s the way to build a loyal following, is to be loyal and interested yourself.
What or who inspires you?
Strong, creative women inspire me, and those who are in positions of influence who use their voice for a greater good, who don’t shy away from being controversial or losing followers. I recently did a cake series based on “Pussy Grabs Back” and lost hundreds of followers. But over the same few days I gained hundreds more, and those are the ones you treasure, the ones who follow you because of who you are, not simply because your feed is “pretty.” My family inspires me with their compassion, empathy, love and support. Women who have inherent and specifically interesting fashion sense inspire me (especially cool moms!)
What is your favorite subject to talk about on your feed?
It truly ranges. When I was going through breast cancer, I would share some of my brutal days. I’d talk about my fear of impending infertility, or the loss of my hair and sex drive. Other days, I’ll talk about how shitty and difficult and hellish it is to make macarons! Yep, it’s a real mixed bag.
What are your biggest passions?
My family and friends; baking and photography. I also love fashion but I rarely indulge anymore, my style has toned down. I tend to wear the same few outfits over and over in different iterations.
What would someone be surprised to find out about you?
Perhaps that I’m a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2015 while in my 30s. Do not ignore any changes, big or small, in your breasts (or anywhere in your body). Be vigilant. I found my cancer early and because of that I saved my life.
Who are your favorite accounts to follow?
I like people who not only post beautiful or interesting content but who share something of themselves too, people that feel genuine, and who don’t shy away from expressing their views. And of course there are the just-damn-cool women I like to follow, whether they are brilliant creators or hilarious people – @cherrybombemag, @katherinesabbath, @designsponge, @mollyorangette, @manrepeller, @linda_lomelino are some of my favourites.
What’s your proudest accomplishment?
My son. Hands down. He is the coolest little 4-year-old shreddin’ hilarious sweetheart dude and I love him to bits.
This party dog pink penguin cake was inspired by Pingu’s lil sis, Pinga. Damn cute little simple-faced simpleton penguin. PINK! Why not. I’ve been on a bit of a video-making kick lately because… because … to be honest (or as younger folks acronymize – TBH) – I am bored to shit of my usual cake making, photography, etc. Existential blog crisis time, which I have a few times a year at least. A decade ago I graduated with a degree in Integrated Media from ye olde local art school – Integrated Media being a catch-all phrase for anything that wasn’t painting, I guess? So I kinda rediscovered that I liked video, and was capable of some lite-video-making. So be prepared for some video-ish type things coming up. Nothing major, and it will always be a little silly.
You Will Need:
One 8 inch round cake of your choice (baked and cooled completely)
4 cups of vanilla buttercream of your choice
Two piping bags, one fitted with a large multi-opening grass/fur tip; the other with your favourite open star tip
Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, Gay-lentine’s Day, Miserable and Alone Day, Perfectly Happy Flying Solo Day – however you want to spend February 14th, these deep dark chocolate buttercream rose petal MINI CAKES may very well help. We need to celebrate LOVE right now in the world, when things are feeling dark and out of our control. Prettiness always has a place, especially when the world is feeling ugly and hateful, we must remember that there is goodness, and that it never feels good to hate – but it has always felt good to love. So with that, I present: kind-of giant mini cakes!
These are so very pink and so very pretty, and way easier than you think, once you get the hang of piping petals – you will need a few special supplies, including a rose petal piping tip, an open star piping tip, a decorating coupler set and piping bag, a round cookie cutter (I used a 3 inch wide cutter) and a rimmed baking sheet.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 inch rimmed baking pan with vegetable oil and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit.
In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute.
Add the eggs, coconut milk, vegetable oil, water and vanilla
Beat on low speed until fully incorporated, about two minutes.
Pour batter into the prepared baking pan, using an offset spatula to spread evenly to the edges.
Bake in middle rack of oven for 15-18 minutes, carefully turning pan halfway through baking.
Check for doneness – cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the middle has no crumbs; cake will be springy.
Cool on wire rack completely, then chill in freezer for 15-20 minutes to firm it up.
Make The Buttercream
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl.
With the mixer turned off, add the four cups of icing sugar, vanilla, dash of milk and gel colour of your choice.
HOT TIP: Wrap the mixer tightly in a damp tea towel to prevent icing sugar explosion.
Turn the mixer on low to incorporate ingredients, then crank mixer to 11 (high speed) to beat the ingredients until buttercream is light and fluffy, two more minutes.
Assemble The Mini Cakes
1. Fit your piping bag with the open star tip. Fill the piping bag with the pink buttercream.
2. Remove the cake, still in the baking pan, from the freezer.
3. Prepare five small dessert plates by adding a dab of buttercream to the center of each.
4. Using the circle cutter, punch out the first cake layer and place onto the plate. Using the piping bag, pipe the top of the cake in a circular swirl, going from the outside inward
5. Punch out the second cake layer and place on top of the buttercream, pressing down slightly to nestle it in place.
6. Pipe the second cake layer.
7. Punch out the third cake layer and place on top of the buttercream, again pressing down slightly to adhere.
8. Swap out the open star tip for the rose petal tip.Hold the piping bag so the wide part of the petal tip is on the bottom. Begin piping in the center top of the cake – you’re going to pipe a little mound of buttercream as the center of your rose – squeeze the piping bag and at the same time move your hand in a zig zag motion, moving upward and creating a little mound of buttercream.
9. Now you will make the first row of petals. With the piping bag at a 45 degree angle and the wider part of the petal tip on the bottom, squeeze the piping bag with your dominant hand in a making-a-rainbow type motion, attaching the first petal to the mound, while at the same time, and with your other hand, rotate the plate at the same time. Pipe-and-turn is your new favourite saying. Pipe the next petal, slightly overlapping the first, and the next petal, enclosing on the initial mound.
10. Keep piping more petals, staggering the petals with each layer.
11. Continue piping until you’ve reached the edge of the cake! Petal power!
Here’s some more internet pink-hearts prettiness for you:
This rose petal mini cake post was sponsored by the fine folks at Rodelle – thank you for supporting the quality brands that help keep Coco Cake Land afloat! Happy Valentine’s Day, sweet friends! xo Lyndsay
Seniors Are Cool: Shako Club + Mini Cupcakes Decorating Workshop
I was 20 when I found the official word feminism. I realized I had been a feminist all my life. I was in my second year of university, and I enrolled in a Women’s Studies class, along with two of my close friends. My eyes were opened. At first, my feminism was one of anger – I was determined to be right and considered it my job to “change the outlooks” of my sisters, my mother. I remember getting my mom a Christmas present – Feminism In Our Time, an overview book. My hair became pixie-cut short. I came home from college no longer wearing a bra. I remember my mom joining me in a Take Back The Night march. She has always supported me, quietly, though perhaps then she knew this was a part of growing up – to question our surroundings, to fight what we feel is unjust. Now, two decades later, I’ve settled into my own kind of feminism, which is – just being me. Now I know a little better – feminism comes in so many forms. Now, I am a mother and a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend. A baker of cakes! Raising my son to be respectful, thoughtful, open and independent – I hope he turns out like my husband – a strong, kind, compassionate and loving man, a feminist himself. My activism is a different kind than it used to be, yet I see its value and power – it’s informed by my past, present and hope for the future. My voice is attached to this blog and to my work, to my cakes. Stand together. Do not stay silent or be complacent. My form of protest may be audibly more quiet but no less strong. Pussy grabs back. xo Lyndsay
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
Year Of The Rabbit! Bunny Cake
by tag - not 0, greater than 1
Earl Grey Blackberry Cake With Torched Meringue (Inspired by Andy Bowdy)
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