Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Us!!

We have officially been living here in Portland for 1 year and 1 day!  It has been a great year full of lots of adjustments and new endeavors.

It's been a while since we've blogged.  The last blog was about how I was in my last few weeks of classes.  Well, I'm done with classroom classes and am now getting "schooled" in the real world. Here are some pictures of my last project.

These are pictures of my sugar showpiece.  It was fun to make, a little stressful at times, but really exciting too.  We learned a few techniques with this project: coloring and satinizing sugar, pulling sugar (the flower petals and bird wings), sugar blowing (bird body), casting sugar (the base and curved lines), bubble sugar (the hole-y green and gold sugar), ribbons and more pastillage work (leaves and vines) and attaching things to each other (the flowers and putting the whole thing together at the end). 

We've also gone to the coast since our last post.  We have learned to LOVE Seaside, OR.  We would recommend it if you are looking for a weekend vacation spot.  Lots of fun stuff to do, see and eat!   Here are a few pictures from our trip with Sasha and Mom. 

We played A LOT of Fascination!  If you've never played Fascination, you should get yourself to Seaside ASAP and "Roll 'em!"

We rented a 4 person surrey and rode around Seaside for an hour or so.  It was a lot more tiring than I thought it would be. 

We also teed it up at Ten Tiny Tees Mini Golf (I love that name!)  Mom and I tied and had to play a rematch the next day.  :)

A few weeks later I returned to the Oregon Coast with some of my lovely Seattle U friends to celebrate, our dear friend, Dan Strickland's birthday.  Dan passed away a few months ago in a tragic car accident; we thought it would be fun to celebrate his birthday and honor his life by going to the Oregon Coast.  Here is a picture of us with Dan's mom, Kerry. :)

                                                                                                                                                          Photo courtesy of Shawn Hays

He loved going on road trips and I was blessed enough to go on a few with him while we were in college.  Dan influenced a lot of people while he was here with us and still continues to do so!  Here is a cool video of how he has changed the lives of some Santa Clara students.

Looks like this is getting a bit long...I will have to update you on my internship in the next blog entry.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sorry it's been so long

It's been a while since I've/we've blogged about life in Portland. 

My time at Le Cordon Bleu is almost over.  I only have 3 days of class left before I go off to my externship at St. Jack in Southeast Portland.   I'm very excited.  This last class, Centerpiece and Cake Decoration Technique has been really fun, but also really challenging.  We only have 3 projects in this class, as opposed to past classes where we had multiple desserts/cakes./projects within a few days of each other. 

Here is a picture of the birthday cake I had to make in class.  It was my first time working with rolled fondant (the white stuff covering the cake).  I think it turned out alright. :)  The hippos are made out of marzipan and the band on the bottom is made of modeling chocolate (tootsie roll type chocolate).  We worked on piping out the phrase "Happy Birthday" and the snail trails at the bottom.  The hippos were fun to make. :)

Here are pictures of my wedding cake.  We shaped and colored gum paste leaves and flowers and made pastillage monogram cake toppers.  We also worked on more piping (snail trails and scrolls).  I didn't think I'd like the wedding cake project, but I ended up having a good time with it. 

My last project is going to be a sugar showpiece, which I am working on the rest of this week.

Outside of school...work for both Eric and I has been good.  Nothing crazy to report, though Eric did a get a new work car because the one he was driving had a few miles on it. :)  It's great.  It still has the "new car" smell!

The weather has been beautiful and we've had some good opportunities to enjoy it.

We've been keeping busy on the weekends by going to shows or festivals.

We went to the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Northeast Portland and had a few good laughs.  The headliner was a guy we had seen in Tacoma a few years ago.  We thought he was better this time around than the last time we saw him. 

We also had a chance to go down to Woodburn, OR to check out the Tulip Festival.  It was really pretty. :) 

Couldn't find the Vander Pol tulips...

And most recently we went to the Cinco de Mayo celebration down at Waterfront Park.  There was tons of food, games, rides and people.
I won Eric a prize!

All in all, things are going pretty well down here.  Though there are times when we miss home.  (It helps to have family around!)  We are hoping to come up some time soon.  Until then people are welcome to come down and visit us!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


A few weeks ago Carla and I had the amazing opportunity (thank you Mom and Dad) to embark on our first cruise with the family. We sailed out of New Orleans with stops at Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica. We didn't really know what to expect going into it but we came away very much impressed with the entire experience. Some of the highlights included:

  •  Food - endless amounts of delicious food. Both buffett and plated options. One night we even had unlimited Lobster tails!
  • Weather - Always warm, never too hot, plenty of sun.
  • Entertainment - shows every night, various trivia contests, a climbing wall, and I even played in a 3 v 3 basketball tournament with the bros. We were bounced in the elite 8.
  • River Rafting - we all either kayaked or boogy boarded down a river in Jamaica through the rapids. 
One thing I would say about the cruise is that you definitely forget that you are on a ship in the middle of the ocean. The interior of the ship feels like you are in a mall. or a restaurant, or a casino.  There is even a sports bar, Irish pub, video arcade, dance club, and many more things on board. If you ever have the opportunity to go cruising, I would highly recommend. It is not just for the retired folks.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My last Advanced Patisserie Techniques projects

The last section of my last class was all about chocolate and candies.  I didn't realize how hard it would be to be a chocolatier or a candy maker.

 We made 6 different candies and chocolates and had to arrange them on this mirror however we wanted and I chose this kinda crazy pattern.

On the mirror:
Raspberry & Peach Gelee
Pfeffermintzalers (Peppermint Patties)
Peanut Brittle
Walnut Fudge
Chocolate Covered Caramels
Spicy Truffles (Cinnamon and Cayenne flavored)

Here is my chocolate showpiece.  Our instructor provided us with a model and we had to recreate it.  The whole thing is chocolate, even the "granite" base.  There are a bunch of techniques that we used on this showpiece.  My favorite components are the stacked spheres, the flowers and the butterfly!  I really enjoyed working on this project.  But like the other projects this one was just as stressful (if not more so), with a time limit and having to walk it across the room to our presentation table. Fortunately, I got it to the table without it falling apart! Yay!!

This was my second to last class.  I started my last class (before I go off to my internship) this week. It is called Centerpiece and Cake Decoration Techniques.  So far it has been going pretty well.  I'm kinda nervous about it because our final project will be a sugar showpiece, which I think is going to be way harder than the chocolate showpiece. 

Outside of school, life has been great!  We've been able to spend time with family and travel lately.  I'll let Eric blog about that. :)

Here are the cookies Eric and I made for my aunt's 65th birthday party.

My aunt likes to golf.
She has a weiner dog named Karlo.
She likes the color purple.
 I think Eric did a great job!! :)  I couldn't have finished them all without his help!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"30 Seconds! You should be walking!" ...

is what my instructor would say to us during our plating section of class.  We were supposed to have our plates ready by 5:15 every production day.  If it was not at the station by the time she said "0" we wouldn't get a grade for it.  She's a tough cookie, but my instructor has been really great.  She's helpful and encouraging and really funny. :)

This class (Advanced Patisserie Techniques) has been way more intense than my last classes.  Every production day feel like an episode of Chopped or any other elimination type tv show.  Yes, my hands shake when I'm putting the final touches on my plates.

Here are pictures of what I plated up these past 4 weeks.

Creme Brulee with a Tuille Cookie, Brandy Snap Rings, Almond Spear and a Fancy Strawberry
Bouche filled with Chocolate Pastry Cream, Spun Sugar and Caramel Garnish with Chocolate and Raspberry Sauce
Apple Strudel with Cinnamon Ice Cream on a Tuille Cookie, Spun Sugar  and Caramel Garnish and Caramel and Raspberry Sauce
Apple Tart Tatin with Candied Hazelnuts, Apple Cider Gastrique, Phyllo Cup, Cinnamon Ice Cream, Caramel Sauce and a Chocolate Garnish

Chocolate Mousse in a Chocolate Teardrop Vessel, multiple Chocolate Garnishes (Filligree, Curl and Curved Triangle with Cocoa Butter Transfer), Passion Fruit Sauce.

Poached Pear with Phyllo Cup with Pastry Cream, Brandy Snap Ring, Spun Sugar and Raspberry Sauce.

Outside of school, life has been good.  I was able to spend a fun weekend with Sasha and my Girl Cousins in Canada.  Here are a few pictures of our weekend.  :)
View from our rooms

Brunch before hitting the Vancouver (BC) shopping scene

Thought these were cute candy apples.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

International Patisserie, Cake Formula & Assembly part 2

Here are a few more pictures from my last couple weeks of this class.

 Bavarian Cream Cake (Chocolate Torte with Bavarian Cream, Tuile stenciling and Joconde Cake and Raspberry-White Peach Gelee, Chantilly Cream and Raspberries and Chocolate Filigree)
I probably shouldn't have used 2 completely different colors. Oh well. Lesson learned. :)  The bright green looks like mold.

I ended up giving half of the cake away to 2 neighbors. Jerry, one of our neighbors traded me some Lemon Pound Cake that he had made earlier that day.  He also gave me some loose leaf tea his daughter had given him that he didn't quite care for.  It was a nice trade. :)

Tiramisu with Chocolate Marbling and more Filigree

Opera Cake 
(lots of layers of chocolate, ladyfingers, espresso, Italian buttercream, and ganache)

Chocolate Mousse Cake.  This was our final project for class.  We worked on the cake, mousse, chocolate work and glazing.

(yes, that is my instructor in the background, squinting to read something on the board.) 

I really liked this cake.  It was so shiny! (You can even see my camera's reflection in it.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

NBA Basketball

One of the things Carla and I always loved to do was attend a Sonics games at Key Arena. Due to a variety of local City, County, and State officials, an Oklahoma businessman, and a gutless NBA Commissioner, this joy has been taken from us. I don't want to get into all the politics of the events that transpired as it only makes my blood boil inside and I get into a foul mood for a day or so. But lets just say my passion for the NBA took a slight hit when the Sonic's left. However, since we have moved to Portland and I have found myself watching some Blazers action on TV.  Now I am not going to say I am a Blazers fan by any means, but living in the area and working with fans, I find myself cheering for them. I now understand what it is like to move into another town and start to pull for the local team (this actually applies in the opposite direction towards my thoughts on the Ducks though). So this last Monday, I saw the OKC Thunder were coming to town and thought it would be perfect for Carla and I to attend and sport our Sonics gear with the hopes that the league will still someday return to Seattle.

The game was very close the whole way but OKC happened to win in Overtime. There was an atrocious call at the end of regulation that sent it to OT that reminded me of my disdain biased officating in the NBA towards their 'stars'. This particular call was goaltending on a game tying field goal attempt by Kevin Durant in the closing seconds. At full speed the call was not even 50/50 in my eyes and replay showed the call to be a clear legal block, but nonetheless the call was made. Had this been any other player on the court taking this shot, I firmly believe no call is made and the Blazers win. While I would have loved to see the Thunder lose, I didn't lose any sleep about it. We both had a great time and have committed to each other that if the NBA ever returns to Seattle we will be at opening day. And if that day ever comes, I really hope David Stern has the balls to show himself in that arena.

Here were some photos from the game:

Carla got dibs

Some other notes and thoughts:

  • While the tone of this post somewhat reflects a negative attitude and view of the NBA and they're officiating, I am eagerly awaiting their return to Seattle with open arms. 
  • Last week Saturday I played a local city muni course here in Portland (Colwood) and shot an even par 72 with 4 birdies on the last 5 holes. Yesterday I played at a much tougher and longer course in Royal Oaks in Vancouver and hit the ball much more to my liking and even thought I rolled my putter better but carded a 77. That is golf I guess. Swing feels great right now, watch out Peter(s)!
  • Carla continues to work and go to school. She has been doing an amazing job and to answer your questions, yes the stuff she brings home is amazing, and yes I am trying to keep off the weight in the process but it is Hard!
  • The Rose Garden is a very nice arena. Really wish Paul Allen owned every franchise in Seattle. Sonics would still be in town and the Mariners might actually compete once and a while.
  • Carla and I went to Fish Grotto for our Valentines dinner last night and it was Delicious.
  • We have picked out a church to attend we both really like that has plenty of young people and we feel we can get plugged into. It is called Imago Dei Community and we both really enjoy the Pastor and the music.

Take care.