Monthly Archives: November 2013

Confections of a Closet Master Baker, by Gesine Bullock-PradoFirst things first. This book could’ve gotten more checkouts from the library with a better cover. A baking memoir DESERVES something scrumptious or at least pretty on the cover, doesn’t it? How else are you going to know that there are some precious recipes in the book?

Second, the author is Sandra Bullock’s sister. Yes, the star. I get how it must be really annoying for her to never be known as anything but, but when you’re trying to sell books, every little publicity corner counts. And this fact ain’t little. Imagine how many more people would be picking out your book over others when they see your celebrity sister’s name on the cover. You have made it clear enough throughout the book that you’re more than “Sandy’s” little sister, but at least get the audience there so they may read it for themselves, no?

That said, Gesine Bullock-Prado’s culinary memoir outlining her journey from a H-town executive to a small-town Vermont baker is thoroughly entertaining. (I have to admit: even after she’s explained how to pronounce her name in the pages, I’m not saying it right. What’s a hard-G?!) It totally comes across how painfully shy, to the point of rude, Gesine is (I have one of those offpsrings too), and how baking is her soul career. There is no escaping her mom-fixation, even well into adulthood, so much so that sometimes this book reads like an ode to her mama with a few recipes thrown in.

About the recipes, though, some have been described so well that I want to get in the kitchen and crank up my oven right away. (With baking season upon us, who knows, I very well may.) The ones for Golden Eggs (a simple vanilla cake), Focaccia and Apple Pie are particularly beguiling. (I will keep you updated if I ever get to making these.)

If you’re looking for a food memoir to read or bake from, this book might be a good bet. Just don’t judge it by its cover.


Birthday, then and now.

Today I tipped over from my early 30s to the later side. If there’s any “over the hill,” this has to be it. Or maybe I’ll change my mind when I hit the big four oh. But when people ask me how I’m celebrating or what gifts I got, I inwardly find myself saying,”What gifts?! Do you know how old I am??” Call me jaded or ungrateful, but birthdays just don’t hold that kind of magic any more.

Birthday when you’re a kid

I don’t remember much of my preteen years but if the kids are anything to go by, kiddie birthdays are an enormous deal. There’s weeks, if not months, of excitement to the point of jitteriness preceding the actual day, days of dreaming and re-dreaming about the presents you’d like to receive, elaborate discussions about the shape of your cake. Birthdays are special, magical. Fawning parents, a whole DAY of immunity from practically any misbehavior, the intoxicating power of being the kid that every other kid wants to be — honestly, not many days even come close to a birthday. The day after is especially hard because you can’t believe how fast yesterday passed, and the next year seems impossibly far away.

Birthday as a teen

You were SO past kiddishly tooting your own birthday horn, but as a teen you’d been dropping birthday hints all through conversations for the past month. Now the day was here! Your friends would treat you extra special, probably offer to pay for your milkshake in the canteen and, with any luck, someone would gift you a Mills & Boon novel. You’d act like your birthday wasn’t such a big deal, but oh, what happiness! The guy you secretly loved would have no choice but to give you a hug too, just like every other friend in the group, a moment you will relive again and again for the rest of your life! And then there’s the dance party you’d be hosting on your terrace, with your pals, withOUT the parents, to break out your new stereo system that every one will envy.

Birthday in the 20s

Partay time! Work celebration with anonymously received flowers, then rush to romantic dinner for two. After, meet friends for a drink, then clubbing (probably on the weekend, but I don’t remember clearly). Jewellery for gifts. Or maybe a dress. Sad to have an exciting day over; anticipation for the next year.

Birthday now (or post-kids, or in the 30s)


Chance to have a long, uninterrupted bath. Score.
Quiet, non-hyper day with minimum chores. Partial score.
Card: One, handmade, with She-Hulk cover illustration and scribbles that translate loosely to Happy Birthday. Second, handmade, with a demand for cash as return gift (without any original gift). Score?
Dinner out: Not happening (picky eaters, school night, etc.). No score.

Still a few years to go for the next decade, but human folly endures. Happy Birthday to me. 🙂

Lego Cookies.

Or Legookies, as I like to call them. Like Le Cookies, y’know? As in en Francais? Or something. Right.


This is birthday season. The kids have been invited to a birthday celebration almost every weekend the past few weeks. Apparently a lot of kids, defying logic *snicker*, are born during the cooler months. Kids’ birthdays are also becoming fancier events with each passing year; it seems like older children do not much care for an intimate celebration at home with a few close friends. Evidently, for them it’s not a real birthday party if it doesn’t involve Laser Tag or a fencing tournament or some such. So it is refreshing that this weekend the boys are invited to a neighbor’s home for their son’s Lego-themed birthday, where they will be building block towers and fighting hand-assembled mini figures for fun. These boys all know each other well, play together often, and have spent many off-school afternoons sitting on someone’s driveway doing this exact same thing for hours. I bet this low-key birthday party will be the one that fond memories are made of.

The parents of the birthday boy also specified a No Gifts request on the invite. While I appreciate the sentiment (really, whose kids need MORE toys?), I feel weird sending the kids out to a party empty-handed. Not to mention the fact that most of the excitement of a birthday, from a kid’s perspective, comes from the anticipation of opening those shiny, wrapped presents that each invitee handed to him on their way in. How do you honor the parents’ request without disappointing the birthday boy?

You gift him Legookies, of course 🙂

ImageRectangular, square, bite-sized blocks of edible bricks that aren’t full of unknown ingredients like the store-bought variety, extremely personal by virtue of being homemade, and not clutter-inducing before the gift influx of the holiday season coming up. Win-win, much? 🙂

ImageIf you know Lego, you know the Lego man is an icon. I tried using a template I found on Sweetsugarbelle’s blog but ultimately just ended up hand cutting these. If I were making more maybe I’d have gone ahead and made one, but as it was, hand cutting these worked out quite well. The birthday boy has a brother, and since I didn’t want to give any cause to the parents to have to break up a scuffle over who gets The Man I made two of him. A conversation such as, “But it’s MY birthday!” “SO?!” is all too familiar to me.

ImageTo package them, I bought a treat box that holds these babies perfectly. The only unfortunate part was trying to find something non-Christmasy at this time of the year. I quickly realized that was not happening so I just went with something that at least didn’t show a snowman or trees upfront. The boys are going to make cards for their friend that will be threaded onto the handle and, Voila.

Happy birthday, Lego fan.