ideas for cinco de mayo: piñata de burro cake

Do I have a lot of ideas cookin' for Cinco de Mayo this year! Here's one. A cake in the form of the classic burro (donkey) piñata, decorated with multicolored jellybeans. I've shared this cake before here in a post about birthday cakes, but here's a little bit of a how-to for you. It's really pretty easy to do, you just need a couple of hours and a ton of patience.

What you'll need:

Two 8" or 9" diameter cake layers, from one box cake mix or your own cake recipe, cooled

Buttercream frosting, homemade or store-bought

Around 1/2 to 3/4 pound Jelly Belly (or other small sized) jellybeans, separated into five to seven separate colors (including at least one white one for the eye), in the color palette of a traditional piñata de burro

Black or brown paper or cardboard for hooves

Bright crepe paper streamers for tail

Black marker for the eyeball


1. Frost the top of the bottom layer and add the top layer of cake. You will cut from this intact layer cake the pieces you need to create the form of the donkey. Do not frost the outside of the cake yet.

2. Use the diagram below to help you cut the pieces (body, legs, head) more or less to scale. Not an exact science. There will be some spare parts to eat while you are working away on the decorating.

3. On the platter on which you plan on serving this cake (IMPORTANT, it will be impossible to transfer after this point!) begin assembling the cake. Again, these pieces are two layers high with just a layer of frosting in between the layers at this point. Use frosting to "glue" the head and legs to the body as shown below. 

4. Fashion the donkey's muzzle from the pie shaped piece that isn't the head. You can go pretty free form here. It's not as easy as just cutting it from cardboard, I know.

Affix the muzzle to the head as shown. Also, you might want to square off the bottoms of the legs by cutting away a little cake.

5. You're ready to frost. Frost every exposed surface.

6. Now for the extremely tedious fun part, the decorating! You can use my cake as a guide, or click here for a zillion other images of real piñatas de los burros! It's not all about horizontal stripes. There are a lot of blocky ways to lay out the colors, especially around the face, that look really good. Remember to put a white bean for the eye, where an eye should go!

7. Final touches: 

Darken the middle of the eye with a Sharpie (or edible ink pen, if you have one lying around).

Cut streamers into thinner strips and form into a tassel of sorts, the affix as a tail near el culo del burro. 

Cut black or brown rectangles to fit the bottom of the legs as a form of hoof. 

Si, this cake is actually a ton of work. But that's why I'm showing this to you now, so you've got time to think about how much you want to BLOW PEOPLE'S MINDS on Cinco de Mayo! You should go for it. Fact: You will be a total superstar if you do.


round up: keep it simple

We're sliding into the last month of the school year. Not a lot going on, no night classes or meetings this past week. Or date nights, parties, performances, or occasions to drink for that matter, excepting for champagne in bed during Mad Men on Sunday night, which is why we are actively looking for a champagne bucket for the bedroom. Not joking!

We took a train ride on Monday to meet David for lunch, but besides that, we have been home most of the week. Feels good, keeping it simple, while we can!

 Ranunculus season lasts another five weeks, give or take. Get them while they're priced so nicely.

Currently invading the living room.

 Also currently invading the living room.

 Bean tacos with avocado and queso fresco. So fast and good.

Ingredients for a fool proof warm weather dinner dish, coconut-lime chicken with cabbage-mango slaw

 What time our train left the station.

Laying around at the playground.

Containers from Verde SF with her homegrown succulents. Dirt cheap and very cute.

A SMALL excerpt from Stella's school's art show this past weekend. Stella made the lemur-y
animal near the left bottom corner. The show was rainforest themed and just so fantastic.

Cold weather entertainment.

Photo Booth shot after a rainy walk home from dropping Stella at school. We saw Hugo this past weekend and I'm now trying to cultivate some finger wave action for this haircut, but the rain ruined that day's efforts.


showtime: tease-o-rama, april 19, 2012

It finally came and went. Tease-O-Rama 2012 in San Francisco. I was so happy and honored to be part of it. I saw the show Friday night at Bimbo's 365 Club (this is the club of my dreams, click the link, imagine yourself there) and I was BLOWN AWAY. I am in no way informed enough about the performers I saw or the history of the event to go into any detail about it, but I am so glad I went. What a spectacle! I saw Dirty Martini perform! The Devil-Ettes were en masse and off-the-chain! I know who The Schlep Sisters are now (and I adore them)! I saw many of San Francisco's living burlesque legends (who have still got it, by the way). Hats off, WAY off, to the producers of the show. What an achievement!

And of course, as I've been talking about here and here, I performed with Bombshell Betty and her Burlesqueteers at the Tease-O-Rama opening party the night before at the DNA Lounge. SO. FUN. So many great performers.

We performed our wonderful synchronized water ballet act to old-timey song "Sylvia" (as heard in the John Waters film "A Dirty Shame"). We descended down the stairs in bath towels, dropped them in the cabana, and emerged onto the pool deck (a.k.a. the blue tarp) in our skivvies. Then we danced our graceful dance. And then a giant bear came out of no where and scared us out of the pool. Betty, of course, was hiding in that bear suit. She has a thing for animals and burlesque (see here, for example)!

Now, without further ado, the photos. I've pushed them down far enough here as to not offend anyone, I hope. There will be boobies, folks! All of the following images are copyrighted by Steven Lowe, the photographer who so kindly allowed me to use them. Please do not use these images without his permission.

Last things first. Here we are toward the end of the act. You can see Betty the
bear approaching in the top left corner. Yours truly is in the bottom left corner,
demurely obscured by the arm of one lovely Hazel DeVille!

 There I am at 12:00. No, UP THERE!

 And at about 1:00 here. Don't you love how we
all are smiling so sweetly at one another?

Still smiling!

 This one's great. I'm on THE BOTTOM! Holding
a grown woman on my back! Crazy.

This one is an outtake from Steven's shots. I love how
once again Hazel DeVille is keeping me modest. I'm at
the top of the shot.

Here are a couple of really mortifying shots from my cell phone that night. I need to find a balance here with the makeup that I just haven't been able to achieve yet. Something a little less "shiny clown" and a little more "silver screen vixen". I need to take another class.

 At Betty's studio, with the craziest bat-lashes I've ever worn!

That is some crazy hair. It all got stuffed into a beautiful molded rubber
floral swim cap, bedecked in rhinestones, so it's okay!

The caliber of performers I witnessed this past weekend really made me question if I want to take it to another level, and if I even could. The great thing about that is that I have the guts to try, should I choose to. I learned a lot watching such a variety of performers and performance styles. Another fun burlesque experience I won't soon forget!



how to build a gutter garden

Note: Our gutter garden was featured at Apartment Therapy on June 1, 2012.
For an update on how are garden was growing a month later, please see
our gutter garden update

Yesterday we replanted our gutter garden on our back porch. It's been barren the last two years, but Stella and I are renewing our commitment and discipline to care for it this time. As I'm writing I am just realizing that we replanted this on Earth Day. I didn't plan that, but, neat!

Here is a quick how-to on how we built our gutter garden three summers ago.

What we used:

+One 8'-0" long galvanized steel roof gutter
+Eight galvanized gutter hangers and screws
+Six galvanized end caps (three left facing, three right facing, they are not interchangeable)
+Organic exterior potting soil
+Plants and seeds

We had the gutter snipped in the store into two 3'-0" long pieces and one 2'-0" long piece. You can see why these lengths make sense given the sunlight angle on our back porch.

This is the gutter garden as it stood yesterday morning, filled with hard, depleted soil.

What we did:

+Before mounting to the wall, we drilled 5/16" drainage holes in the bottom of the gutters, spaced about 10" on center.

+Also before attaching them to the wall, we fit the caps on the ends. This can take some muscle, patience, and maybe even a hammer. The gutter ends get warped by the tin snips, so the caps don't fit on as easily as you would hope!

+Finally, we attached the gutters to the wall with the mounting hardware. You will have to drill through the back side of the gutter to position the gutter hangers, so it is easier if you have two people working on the job.

All about drainage.

 End caps, before and after plantings.

A gutter hanger.

What we planted this year:

+Starter lettuces, nasturtiums and a few forget-me-nots
+Radish, sweet pea and zinnia seeds
+Strawberries (we didn't yet, but I'm grabbing some tomorrow to throw in)

We have two major hurdles with this gutter garden. One being the obvious lack of depth for things to root. The second is our partial sun. About three-quarters of the gutters get direct sun in the morning until around noon, but a portion of the garden NEVER gets sun. I'm looking around for something I can use to reflect some light back onto the garden without driving the neighbors nuts with glare. Maybe a matte aluminum baking sheet. I'll let you know how that works out!

The finished garden.

 Stella and Oliver present day (l), Stella almost three years ago (r),
when we first built the garden. Time flies.


eggs 'n' excess

Some things we've been fortunate to eat over the last week. A week of delicious excess.

 Fried eggs over asparagus and mushrooms over toast at Outerlands.

Oliver joined us on our breakfast date.

Lobster roll (and oysters and fried clams) at Woodhouse Fish Company with my
friends Beth and Marie to celebrate Beth's birthday.

I trussed it up before I left for dinner that night. We were
headed to a karaoke bar in the Castro after dinner.

So very hard to get a focused photograph of people dancing in a
bar. Beth and Marie singing "On The Radio". Smiles.

 Happy hour at the wine bar over on the corner. A different
view of the nearby gas station across the way.

Incredible salumi plate at Ragazza, followed by a pizza puttanesca with fried egg.

"Eggie" sandwich at our local coffee shop.

Next up, home cooking and juicing. I'm in need of a little maintenance after all of this fun. You'd think I would've tried that BEFORE my nearly nude performance coming up TONIGHT in our water ballet act at the Tease-O-Rama opening event, but no, that's not how I roll!

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