Cupcakes and Cocktails

Last weekend, some girlfriends and I got together for CUPCAKES and COCKTAILS! My cupcake decorating teacher, Albert, also known as Sir Cakes A Lot, hosted a fabulous event at Mickey’s Club in West Hollywood to benefit the AIDS Life Cycle. In return for our admission fee, we’d be decorating cupcakes and sipping cocktails while surrounded by fancy men of all varieties.

Sally, Sir Cakes A Lot, Me and Jenny before getting our cupcakes on!

Sally, Sir Cakes A Lot, Me and Jenny before getting our cupcakes on!

We learned how to make leopard print cupcakes, by painting pink fondant with brown and black food dye:

leopard fondant cupcake

Leopard Fondant Cupcake Toppers

We also learned how to make beautiful chrysanthemum cupcakes, by cutting mini marshmallows in half on a diagonal, dipping them in decorating sugar and arranging them on top of buttercream. Check them out in this picture below of Sally and I holding our finished products!

The finished products!

The finished products!

One intriguing thing about this class was I met and learned about the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The Sisters are men dressed as nuns in fancy attire who contribute to society by raising money for various charitable organizations. Here I am with the fabulous Sister Indica. Isn’t her makeup just stunning? I felt very underdressed.

Workin' it with Sister Indica

Workin’ it with Sister Indica

I had a hard time refraining from piping the buttercream directly into my mouth  – but I left unscathed, having indulged in only one pina colada flavored cupcake (pineapple and coconut buttercream – YUM!). This event was a great example of a food-related event that I did just fine around, because I was able to keep myself busy by chatting, meeting new people, and decorating cupcakes! I guess when you’re on a diet, it’s all about finding ways to be comfortable around risky foods but still have a good time and leave feeling satisfied. In this case, one cupcake was the perfect amount for me to have fun and feel like I got to “cheat” without going overboard. It also helped that I had my Diet to Go lunch before I went, so I wasn’t too hungry, and  my “cocktail” of choice was a diet coke with a wedge of lime. Also… I was pretty proud that I came home with 8 beautiful cupcakes and how many did I eat? Not one!!! I had guests this week so they polished them off, and decorating them alone is enough for me to enjoy them. Me and cupcakes = Weight Loss BFFs.

Mmm, buttercream.

Mmm, buttercream.

For more information about AIDS Life Cycle Events, click here, and for more information about Sir Cakes A Lot and his amazing work, click here!

What do ya think – would you like to learn how to make cupcakes while drinking cocktails?

My Fitness Evaluation

So remember how I blogged about my upcoming fitness evaluation? The few days before, I was legit nervous. Like, “ERMAHGERD I’M GONNA HAVE TO FACE THE FACT THAT I’M GROSSLY OUT OF SHAPE.”. Even though I already knew that, there was some sort of like… impact of being told it by a fitness professional. (I’m sure to some extent that will happen at Fitbloggin’ anyways,  but still – YAY! Only 2 more days!)

So, I was being my usual self, day dreaming about maybe I should re-schedule it, because you know, I was flying to San Francisco for work Monday morning, and I really had a lot to do over the weekend… or maybe I should wait a couple days so my bloating goes away… I’m the mayor of excuses village. But, every time I came up with one of these crazy excuses, I reminded myself that denial aint just a river in Egypt, and I needed to just face my fear and do it. So I was all set. I went to my Fitness Evaluation the next day. Right?

I saw Fiona Apple on Friday night (she was fantastic! I love her because she’s a total koo-koo-roo and did push ups against her piano randomly and sang like a female Tom Waits). I wasn’t feeling great, but I figured it was my allergies acting up. I got home, popped an allergy pill, and got into bed where I had the dizzy spins, kind of like that time in highschool I decided it would be a good idea to mix a cup of goldschlager with chocolate milk. (Good idea? Worst idea ever.) I fell asleep, woke up at 2:30 AM with the chills, ran to the bathroom – and my body purged every single little thing I had ingested in the last 24 hours.

I’m not going to get into details, but let’s just say it was NOT pretty, and I spent the remainder of the night sleeping next to an industrial sized bucket. The next day I woke up kind of shaky and run down, but thankfully, barf-free. I decided to reschedule my fitness evaluation. Don’t worry – I’m going to do it as soon as I get home from working on site this week and Baltimore. I just thought it was ironic that my brain was so intent on finding a way to put it off that I got food poisoning. HOWEVER, I’m not owning up to this one, because there’s no way in hell I’d pick food poisoning over a fitness evaluation. Body, you got pwned.

Have your best laid plans ever been foiled by the evil, evil food poisoning? What was the culprit? (I’m blaming a vanilla cupcake from Aroma Cafe. It was good but I could tell it wasn’t super fresh. Of course I ate it anyways. Sigh.)

 

Cake, Cake, a Smackerel of Cake!

Using the star tip to ice sugar cookies

Tonight I started my first Wilton Decorating Basics class at Michael’s Crafts. It’s only $22 for a four week session, and I get to learn basic icing piping techniques like shells, stars, flowers and ribbons. Tonight we started by learning star tips on cookies. While in class, the topic of weight loss came up, and as usual, a few people were shocked that I was trying to lose weight while taking a decorating class. “Isn’t it, like, torture?” asked one valley-girl teenager, smacking her gum. That’s what’s so weird… cake is fun and pretty and fancy and all, but I’m not a craver of cake. You all know by now that my poison is popcorn and salty crunchies…not cake! Cake, Cupcakes, Cookies – no worries. These cookies will be eagerly devoured by my co-workers anyways, so they won’t be loungin’ around my stomping ground for long.

Star Tipped Icing Cookies

Cakes and cookies and other crap aside, speaking of junk food, this week I saw 21 Jump Street with my gal pal Kelly. (It’s super funny, by the way!) I had decided to treat myself to some popcorn, so I diligently bought a small bag and passed on the butter. So – it was totally delicious and salty and yummy, but I should have stopped half way through, but I kept going and ate it all – and then, I had a gnarly stomach ache the rest of the night and woke up at 3:30 AM with heartburn, which I NEVER have. It’s really interesting how even just a week or so of healthy eating can translate into “Oh hi, junk food. We’re going to use you to remind Alyssa’s body that junk food is bad in oh so many ways. Let’s start with a stomach ache, then add heart burn, and then we’ll finish off with crazy bloating!” So it was good food for thought for me. I enjoyed the popcorn, but I don’t know if the side effects were worth it.

Do you guys notice that even subtle changes you make in favor of a healthier lifestyle can make a big impact on how you feel? It might have been my hyper sensitive imagination, but I even felt like I was more sluggish and low energy today after my junky treat. What do you think – are you what you eat?

Cupcake Decorating: My fav new hobby

Tonight, I baked and decorated over 70 cupcakes – 50 mini, and 24 full size. Why? Because I felt like it. So tomorrow, my coworkers and matt’s coworkers are going to be very hopped up on sugar.

Easter Cupcakes!

I feel like I’ve stumbled on a lucky little pot of gold for myself – I used to hate baking, but I’ve come around to it, thanks to my cake decorating class. I spent two hours tonight just relaxing with a piping bag and frosting, listening to music and decorating cupcakes. It’s a good stress relief for me, but what’s even better about it is I pretty much have 0% temptation to eat any cupcakes! I’ll work one into my calorie counting every now and then, but what I love about making cupcakes isn’t eating them – it’s the process of making something pretty, and then sharing that creation with friends.

Marbled pastel buttercream

I’m also glad because I feel like I’ve been doing a good job keeping the creativity in my life the last few months. One of my goals for 2012 was to do more creative things, and this blog, cupcake decorating and a few other things have been great for nurturing my artistic side. You can do a lot with cupcakes – marbling, filling, piping, sprinkling… the sky is the limit. It’s kind of easy to fall in love with. The only thing I hate about making cupcakes is the clean up!

Tonight I played around with the SkinnyTaste Coconut Cupcakes recipe, and made a batch of straight chocolate cupcakes as well. I used peeps, cadbury eggs and shredded coconut on top of standard butter cream to decorate. My kitchen was trashed afterwards, but oh well – it was a good time, and in some small way I might brighten someone’s day tomorrow with a pretty cupcake!

Cupcake baking makes for a messy kitchen!

What hobby have you found that just takes you away for a little bit? Reading, cooking, running, painting, etc? I wanna know! I hope you’re having a great day!

****Don’t forget to enter the EatSmart Precision Pro Kitchen Scale Giveaway! Visit my post here, and just leave me a comment telling me why you want to win! http://doublechindiary.com/review-eatsmart-food-scale-and-giveaway/   *********

A food filled weekend!

Hi Double Chinners, how ya doin’?

It’s Sunday evening and I had a productive weekend… packed with seeing the Hunger Games (highly recommend it), finishing a feature news story, putting together a podcast, writing a post for my thesis blog Heardio, working on a freelance project, painting my upcycled dresser, grocery shopping, cupcake decorating class… You get the picture. My weekends aren’t very restful lately but they sure are productive, haha!

Cinnamon Snails

This weekend was a fun weekend in terms of FOOD! Fun is sometimes dangerous for me, as evident by the three little “Cinnamon Snails” I consumed this morning…. (Total damage: 360 calories). I work for a company that makes toys, and one of the doll lines has an upcoming campaign with food related characters. I edit online content, and this weekend, I had to fact check a recipe for cinnamon buns. No problem – cooking and writing – two of my favorite things!

I also had my last cupcake decorating class, and we tie-dyed buttercream! Let me know in the comments if you’d be interested in a tutorial on how to do it. I know this is technically a “healthy living” blog, so buttercream might not fit in that well… but I think part of “healthy living” means splurging every once in awhile. They came out pretty cool, I think – my coworkers will reap the benefits tomorrow!

Lastly, Matt and I needed tons of produce. Lately I’ve been really trying to up the ante on fruit and veggies, since they’re low cal, yummy and good for you. I’d been wanting to try a local ethnic produce market, so we went in and came out with this bounty. Don’t mind the tabby in the background… Lucia’s pretty vain and wanted to make sure she starred in the picture. (Bad kitty on the table!)

Lucia surveys the haul from a local ethnic market.

Guess how much all of this food cost? To help you tabulate, we have – a tub of Israeli olives, a sack of roasted peas, one bunch of celery, one bag of carrots, four huge russet potatoes, one pound of fresh green beans, three small spaghetti squash, a bag of mango “jubes” (I have no idea what they are – they just looked good!), a tub of baked pita chips, 5 Persian cucumbers, three limes, two mangos, and one green pepper.

Ok – ready for this? $21. Can you believe that? This would have easily cost us $35 or more at our local grocer. The celery was .33, and the bell pepper was .78. The olives were the most expensive thing we bought, at 3.99, still a steal considering how many you get (and pitted, at that!). I love food… but I also love saving money.

What did you do this weekend?

PS – We reached 100 “likes” on the Double Chin Diary on Facebook! Thank you to everybody for your support. In the next few weeks I’ll be setting up a giveaway of a few of my favorite things to celebrate! 🙂 And if you haven’t liked my page, what are ya waiting for?! http://www.facebook.com/doublechindiary

Tempatation: Salty or Sweet?

Happy Wednesday, Double Chinners! Some of you may know that I’m in a cupcake decorating class. It’s been a fun creative outlet for me besides studying and I’m taking it with an old friend from college. Sounds fun, creative and interesting – but doesn’t sound conducive to weight loss, right? Well… I think you might be surprised to know, it ain’t no thang at all! I’m a classic salt lover – give me a pile of tortilla chips over a cookie any day! I’m especially not a huge cake fan (I had to learn to like birthday cake, even), so I knew a cupcake decorating class wouldn’t be a big deal for me.

Luau Cupcakes with Fondant Plumeria and Tiki Men

In class Saturday, we made Luau themed cupcakes, with hand-formed fondant plumeria, graham cracker crumb “sand” and hand drawn fondant tiki men. They’re super cute, right? I ate one out of 17 cupcakes (7 points sans fondant), and now they’re gone – given away to coworkers and friends and neighbors. It’s weird to me that I can have a gorgeous display of homemade cupcakes in my house and cease to even notice they exist, but a bag of tortilla chips is like crack, beckoning to me from the pantry with its salty, crunchy lore.

In fact, I often have little bowls of candy around my home – I love having a bowl of treats for when guests come over, usually something like dark chocolate Doves or like right now, crunchy malted Robin’s Eggs. Again, the candy doesn’t get me into trouble. Occasionally I may have a couple here and there, but it’s never a trigger for me like salty and crunchy are. I can’t even allow myself to buy tortilla chips anymore, because I’ll keep dipping into the bag until I’m shocked that I’ve eaten half a bag on “study breaks”.

Do you have a preference for salty or sweet? Do you find one or the other sets off cravings or triggers?