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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Doer of the Week!

I hopped onto Facebook this morning to get updates before starting my day and found people commenting on our page about our Doer of the Week interview.  It had been posted just this morning!  With all that has been happening these last few days, we really needed this lift.  So exciting!!

I was contacted by Elizabeth at Martha Stewart Omnimedia on June 20, 2011 saying that she would like to feature us as a future Doer of the Week on Martha Stewart's Dreamers into Doers.  She included the interview questionnaire to complete, with a request to send it back as soon as possible.  It took me until July 1st to finally get it done (there was a whole lot more reflection that goes into that interview than I had thought there would be, ha ha) and send it back to her.

I totally didn't expect it to be up so soon!  What a neat surprise this morning!

It's such an honor to have been selected from the pool of nominees, and Kat & I are very blessed to have been featured.  I hope that our story will encourage other Dreamers and Doers as they pursue their own business goals, as previous Doers of the Week have inspired us in ours. 

Please click on the photo at the top of this post if you'd like to read the interview.  I suggest you grab a cup of hot cocoa or tea or coffee and a pastry (or a cake pop!) 'cause it's a bit of a read.  :)

Have a great day, everyone!

~ Pia

It's the Little Things

Do you ever feel like you take things for granted?  A place to live, food on the table, clothes on your back, friends and family who love you...... how about your vision, your hearing, your health?  My life is pretty blessed.  I have all those things I mentioned and more.  And yet, I complain that I'm tired or that I have to spend all day driving around (instead of being thankful that I have a car and enough gas to get me places!).  So many people have far less than I.  So I've been really mindful lately of my ingratitude for the little things.

The last few weeks have been surreal at our house.... well, particularly the last few days.  Kat's symptoms have spiked again and she's got no meds to regulate them or to give her relief.  The "usual" pain meds -- acetamenophine, ibupprofen, morphine, codeine, etc. -- have no effect on her.  Her neurologist took her off all meds (Diamox, Topamax) a little over a month ago.  Which leaves her to battle her constant (24/7, literally) headache alone.  And that headache comes with eye pain, dizziness, nausea, and vision abnormalities.  Fun, right?  Um, not really.

I watch her as she struggles to live a "normal" life, going out with her friends and listening to her music and playing with her dogs; even just watching movies on the computer.  She has to pick and choose what she does because more often than not, she's feeling sick to her stomach and every activity takes effort and then she pays for it afterward with headache spikes or vomiting, and sometimes (like this week) both.  But what is she to do?  She doesn't want to just lie down and let life pass her by.  And I don't blame her.  That's no way to live.

Her doctors are second-guessing themselves and their predecessors as to what she has -- she was diagnosed with Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (aka Pseudotumor Cerebri) 2 years ago but we changed insurance several months ago and her new doctors aren't sure that diagnosis is accurate despite her symptoms and the fact that the ONLY time she gets any relief is immediately after a spinal tap (which removes some of her cerebrospinal fluid).  So they've taken her off everything and instructed us to just watch how she does.

Naturally, we're looking for new doctors who will help her rather than give up on her.  She has an appointment with her regular doctor on Monday, at which time we'll demand meds and a referral to a new neurologist and an ophthalmologist....... okay, maybe not demand but strongly request.....

In the meantime, she suffers.  And I feel helpless.  I mean, a mom is supposed to take care of these things, right?  Yet all I can do when she's vomiting and complaining of dizziness, swirling vision, and severe headache is remind her that we'll see her doctor next week and try to divert her attention to something else.  My heart breaks.  And inside, I rage at a system that can't/won't find a way to help my girl -- while raging at myself for not being more proactive about getting her the help she needs.

In light of what Kat's going through, everything else shines like the enormous blessings that they are.  Any time she's not as dizzy as she was the day before, anytime her headache is down to a 6 out of 10 on the pain scale, any time her vision is fairly stable is cause for celebration.  I should be this mindful of the little things at all other times in my life.  Why does it take suffering to shed a light on blessing?

~ Pia

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Superhero Birthday

Flying to the rescue!

Our Superhero cake pops are featured in the Simply Swanky blog!  Click the photo below to visit that page.  So many great ideas there!  Elizabeth is ultra creative -- visit her Etsy shop to see the variety of invitations, bag tags, and more that she has for all occasions and uses!

I don't know about you all, but I use themes for a lot more than just birthday parties.  Any event is theme-worthy, ha ha!  I am a youth minister and I do retreats with my teens every year.  I'm totally excited about this particular idea board because one of my go-to retreat themes is Called to Be Superheroes!  I am always on the lookout for great items and hero touches to add to that retreat, and I am definitely going to use some of the ideas that Elizabeth has so kindly shared here!

How much do you love the capes and the masks??  And those hero snacks are definitely on my list for the retreat Snack table!  Visit her blog to see these fun ideas close-up and find out how and where you can get them for your next party!

We're tickled that Elizabeth invited us to be part of her board and included our Superhero cake pops!  What an honor to be featured on a blog that's so well done and offers such awesome party ideas!

~ Pia

We Have a Winner!

CONGRATULATIONS to Ola Jaggers, selected by Random.org to be our big WINNER of ONE DOZEN CLASSIC ROUND CAKE POPS!

Ola left the following comment:
I'm following yours & Keisha's blog!

Thank you so much for the chance to win!!!

~Ola Jaggers

Ola, I've sent you an email.  Please let us know what Classic flavor you you would like and we'll send your pops out to you!

Thank you to everyone for participating and helping us celebrate our friend, Keisha's 2nd Bloggerversary!

~ Pia

Friday, July 15, 2011

C'mon, Season 2!

I am a HUGE H5O fan.  There.  I said it out loud.  Yes, I love the new Hawaii Five-O.  And not because of the cute guys that star in it.  Well, okay, not JUST because of those cute guys.... as long as I'm being completely honest.

I love H5O because it's a whole 45 minutes of pure enjoyment.  Beautiful beaches, beautiful people, excellent writing, engaging character portrayals, lots of action, family stories, mysteries to solve, what's not to love about this show?

Production for Season 2 began this week.  I'm trying to figure out when that means new episodes will be on Hulu.......  And how much longer must we wait to see them?  I have friends who don't watch TV.  Not even on the computer.  Just no TV at all.  They say that television is escapism.

I agree.  Done well, a television program provides a means of distraction from every day struggles.  It gives one a respite from pain, from exhaustion, from negative stress.  And H50 is escapism at its finest!  Bring it on!

Can anyone tell my why Grace Park is the only one without a protective vest, please?

In the meantime, I will indulge in some cake popping and rerun watching.  :)  How about you?  What's your favorite way to escape for a little while?

~ Pia

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Happy Bloggerversary, Keisha!

My friend, Keisha of Cupcake Wishes & Birthday Dreams is celebrating her 2-Year Bloggerversary this week, and we're celebrating right along with her with a Bloggerversary Giveaway!

Keisha and I met on Martha Stewart's Dreamers into Doers, an online community that you've heard me talk about a couple of times.  It's really a great place to connect and network with fellow entrepreneurs!  Keisha is an event planner, and her blog is a great resource for creative party ideas.

Check out this stylin' set of printables she designed for the 4th of July.  This set is a FREE download from Keisha's fantastic blog!

To help Keisha celebrate her happy milestone, we are giving away ONE DOZEN CLASSIC ROUND CAKE POPS to one lucky winner!  Choose up to two flavors from our Classic Menu and enjoy the yummy goodness of CPF cake pops anytime you like!

Here are the rules for the Giveaway:

1)  REQUIRED:  Follow our blog AND Keisha's blog on Google Friend Connect and then leave us a comment letting us know you did it.  Don't forget to leave your email address so we can contact you if you win!

ADDITIONAL ENTRIES -- Each item counts as another chance to win, so please leave a separate comment for each thing you do:

2)  Like us on Facebook.

3)  Follow us on Twitter.

4)  Tweet this Giveaway AND Cupcake Wishes & Birthday Dreams Bloggerversary Celebration using the hashtag #CWBD.

5)  Visit our Etsy shop & let us know which cake pops you like best and who you'd like to give it to.

Lots of chances to win!

The contest ends at 11:59pm on July 18th, so hurry!  The winner will be selected using Random.org.

Good luck!

~ Pia

Saturday, July 9, 2011

25 Random Things about Me: a Blog Hop!

Let's get to know each other better, shall we?  This is just a fun blog hop.  No giveaways, no contests, nor mandatory entries.  Just some good, clean fun and a chance to connect a little more with one another!  Ready?

Post 25 random things about you.  Try not to make them things that you use as security answers on your various online accounts, though!  Just some fun, random stuff that you think we might all like to know.

Then go visit the Randomosity blog and add the URL to your blog POST (not your main blog, but the specific post) at the bottom of the 25 things About Me Blog Hop post.

Last, go visit the other bloggers and leave a comment if you want!  Fun, right?  Here we go!

Here are my 25 Random Things about Me

1.  I am the eldest of two in my family but I have 11 older half siblings I've never met.

2.  All my drinks MUST have ice in them.  No joke.  Water, soda, juice, everything's gotta have ice.

3.  My grandfather was an Associate Justice on the Philippine Supreme Court.

4.  When I was younger (around 10-12 years old), I used to lock myself in the bathroom, stand on the edge of the bathtub, and sing & dance like I was on stage.  But then I refused to perform in front of an actual audience, ha ha!

5.  The only way I'll drink coffee is if it's just a splash in my hot cocoa.

6.  I absolutely love Winnie the Pooh, and have since 4th grade when my teacher had a life-size Pooh doll in the classroom.  But ask me which character I most identify with, and I'll tell you it's Piglet in a heartbeat.  Piglet and I are like peas in a pod!  Or..... pigs in a blanket.....

7.  Bugs and I do not get along.  And by bugs I also mean lizards, snakes, and generally any creepy crawly creature.

8.  I've been at such a low point in my life that when my kids and I served at a soup kitchen when they were younger, we envied the food that we were serving to the homeless there.  After giving out potatoes and beef stew and dessert, we went home to our Ramen and bread.

9.  I have 4 children, have been married and divorced, and had my attempted marriage annulled -- I've been a single mom for 11 years.

10.  My all-time favorite meal is mashed potatoes and meatloaf -- or Spam and fried rice.  It's a toss up.  :)

11.  My grandparents are both published authors.  That's probably where I get my love for the written word.

12.  I've been an independent demonstrator for Discovery Toys, Stampin' Up!, and Creative Memories.

13.  My first language was Spanish.  Then I spoke English.  Then I took Spanish in high school and got A+'s in my Spanish Honors class.  And I can hardly speak nor understand it now.

14.  My favorite song as a little kid was Knock Three Times by Tony Orlando and Dawn.

15.  I failed my first driver's license test.  But I passed the second time.  :)

16.  I started wearing glasses in 7th grade.

17.  Scary movies are WAY too scary for me.  So I skip them if I can.

18.  I play guitar and a little piano, and I sing.  My eldest & youngest daughters and my son are all very musical, and my second daughter sings like a bird though she doesn't think so.

19.  When I was pregnant for the first time, I kept thinking of the movie Alien and scaring myself silly every time the baby moved.  (See number 17!)

20.  I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and I hate being cold.

21.  I love to read.  I mean, I really love to read.  If there isn't a book or a magazine handy, I've been known to read the phone book.  And jar labels.

22.  I love to be creative, whether it's writing or jewelry making or baking or scrapbooking or any other crafty thing.  Just getting to make something makes me happy.

23.  I take photographs of EVERYTHING.

24.  I am lactose intolerant to the point of ridiculousness.

25.  My favorite sound in the whole, wide world is listening to my kids make music.  Even if they're just tinkering around.

Well, there you go.  25 random things about me.  Now it's your turn!

Make your own 25 Random Things about Me blog post, then hop over to the Randomosity blog to add your POST URL and visit some of the other hoppers.  Have fun!

I'm off to get to know some of our fellow bloggers now myself.  :)

~ Pia

Wedding Wire

We have some big news!  As of today (well, technically it was July 7th!), our little cake pop shop is officially an approved vendor on Wedding Wire!  This is a huge honor for us!  To be recognized by such a prestigious national wedding resource site and included in their directory is beyond phenomenal.

Why is this so cool?  Well, anyone planning a wedding goes to the Wedding Wire website (say that five times fast, ha ha!) and once there can find vendors for pretty much everything the wedding needs.  We're talking locations for the wedding and reception, photographers, caterers, bakers, videographers, jewelers, florists, beauticians and stylists, wedding planners, the list goes on!  And now they can find US, too!  Our shop is now being advertised to millions of engaged couples all over the United States!  How cool is that??  We are soooooo excited!

Thank you to the Wedding Wire powers that be for including us in your vendor directory!  We are ready and willing to jump in and do for your clients the very best that we can to help make their wedding day magical!

Dear Readers, if you know anyone anywhere in the USA who's getting married, please keep us in mind for wedding/shower favors, wedding party gifts, and even the wedding cake itself (picture a tower of elegant cake pops topped with a 6" layer cake for the bride and groom to slice!).  We will absolutely love you for it!  And remember to send them to Wedding Wire for all their other wedding needs!  The bride and groom will love having so many different professionals at their fingertips!

~ Pia

Friday, July 8, 2011

Send in the Clowns

One of the neatest things about being part of an online community like Martha Stewart's Dreamers into Doers is the opportunity to meet and collaborate with fellow artisans and entrepreneurs from all over the globe. I've made friends there who are bakers and crafters like me, jewelry artisans, event planners, and more.  I've received some helpful advice about growing our little cake pop business and have been thrilled to even give a few tips myself (makes me feel like an expert, ha ha!).  We DiD'ers, as I affectionately call our group, support each other's blogs, Facebook pages, and IRL experiences.  It's really an awesome community.  Go check it out when you get a chance!

So now you're saying, "That's nice that you found a supportive online community.  Congratulations.  What does that have to do with clowns???"  Okay.

From time to time, we share our products with one another.  That's where the clowns come in.  :)  One of my fellow DiD'ers (Amy of Make It Mine Parties)  has an online party supply store and is having a Circus themed party for twin girls who turn 5 this weekend.  Some DiD artisans are sharing their awesome tutus, bracelets, etc.  We sent her 2 dozen clown cake pops!

These guys are Vanilla cake and Cherry Lemonade cake.  They're each handmade and hand-decorated, as are all our pops.  So that means they each have their own personality -- I had a hard time not naming them all!

Here are the steps we took to make them, in case you want to make some of your own.  You'll need cake, frosting, white candy melts, red candy melts, red string licorice, blue string licorice, a round red candy (we used Red Hots 'cause they're nice and bright and kids seem to really like them), little ball sprinkles, 4" lollipop sticks, and bright ribbons.  As for tools, grab your coffee stirrers, scissors, and some tweezers!  And don't forget a styrofoam block to stand them in as you work.

1)  Bake, cool, and crumble your cake.

2) Mix your cake with frosting, let set for about 30 minutes, and roll into balls (about 1.25" in diameter).

3) Chill the balls in your fridge for several hours or in your freezer for about 15 minutes -- be careful not to freeze them.

4) While your cake balls are chilling, prepare your candy decorations -- cut the red licorice into 1/2" pieces, cut the blue licorice into 1" pieces, and separate out your blue & green sprinkles from the rest in the bottle.

5) Melt your white candy melts in a deep cereal bowl (easy to do in the microwave at 40% power, stirring every 30 seconds until melted).

6) Dip your lollipop stick 1/2" into the white melts and insert it into the cake ball -- no more than half way.  Do this for each one.

7) Put the pops back in the fridge to harden -- about 5-7 minutes.

8) Making sure your white candy melts are good and fluid (stick them back in the microwave briefly if you have to), take a pop out of the fridge and dip it in the candy melts.  Cover the cake ball completely, all the way to the stick.  Tap off the excess coating.

9) Let the candy coating set on the pop for about 10 seconds, then use the tweezers to place your candy face on your clown pop.  Follow the photo as an example.  Set the pop into the stand to dry.

10) Do this for all your pops, re-melting your candy melts in the bowl as necessary.

11) Now melt your red candy melts.  You don't need it too fluid.  Just a little beyond soft is fine -- like creamy peanut butter consistency.

12) Using your coffee stirrer, dab the red melts onto the top of your clown's head and spread it around to give him as much (or as little) hair as you like.

13) Again using the stirrer, tap the clown's hair and pull outward.  You want to pull the melts up and out so they form peaks on his head.  Repeat around the head until you get the look you like.

14) Do this for all your pops.

15) Cut your ribbon into 4" pieces and tie a ribbon just under each clown pop head to make the bow tie.

16) Celebrate 'cause you're done!

Have fun with the clowns!  And have a great day today!

~ Pia