Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Culinary disaters and other dissappointments

*whew* its been so long since I posted, I guess I need to do somewhat of a weekly recap. Last Friday was Pat's 31st birthday - so I decided I needed to make him a cake. From scratch. Which was a bad idea from the get go seeing as how I sometimes have a negative attitude towards stuff made from scratch. Its deep seeded and would take more explaining than I care to go into right now - but suffice to say it was a bad idea before I started.

So I made the cake (and a huge mess, as almost always one accompanies the other). And it was tasty. But, since I can't do anything half assed I was trying to be all professional and stuff cutting and trimming. Hey, I figured I've seen enough episodes of Ace Of Cakes - I'm almost professional myself. WRONG! I mutilated the cake, but I figured I'd be able to save it the next day when I assembled it and put frosting on it.

I go out and buy a mini-starter cake decorating kit from the store, and proceed to try to make the frosting that Pat says is the easiest and yummiest to make. Well - once again, no such luck. The frosting turned out to be more of an icing (think: cinnamon rolls) I poured it over each layer, and basically just threw in the towel. I didn't even get a picture of it - it was so embarrassing. We did sing Happy Birthday and did eat the entire thing because although it was horrifying and mutilated, it still was cake and icing, and quite delectable. But the whole experience was rather traumatizing for me.

On Saturday, I had made plans to go to this benefit event at Shedd Aquarium called BLU. A great big "Save the World" kind of thing, where you get all dressed up and eat food and drink. Because it was in conjunction with fireworks and the Venetian Fest Boat Parade, I thought it would be a good birthday present for Pat. You know, a nice night out on the town before Baby gets here.

Let me back up. I despise buying presents. I hate the pressure and emotional turmoil that goes with it. Because really, even though its the thought that counts, why give something that someone either doesn't really love, or doesn't need? Then you've wasted all this energy and time trying to think of a good and/or fun surprise, only to be let down if the recipient doesn't think its the greatest well thought out gift in the world. Life would be much simpler if presents were agreed upon before hand - or chosen from a list. Kind of like a registry. It might not knock their socks off, but it certainly is guaranteed to be something needed / appreciated.

Last year, I surprised Pat with a new, nice Gary Fischer bike - that he totally wanted, and liked and uses often. I spent good money on it, because I knew it was exactly what he wanted - and I knew he wasn't expecting it. I was told this year to not spend that much money....which pretty much nixed the Blu Ray Disc player or 80G iPod off the list. So that in itself creates all this pressure - I could get him something that he needs (Socks and underwear, anyone?) and be totally lame, or try to come up with something fun and romantic. Which is what this BLU event was supposed to be. Back in February, we went to what we thought was a similar event at Shedd, and it was actually kind of fun - so it seemed like a good choice.

Apparently this evening was as doomed as my ill fated cake.

Let me back up again: Earlier on Saturday we had the opportunity to go out shopping, and also stopped for a yummy dive lunch at the Bunny Hutch, and then played 18 holes of super retro mini-golf. The place was awesome. And I got a hole in one on the WINDMILL people - the WINDMILL!! I also kicked Pat's butt by like, 5 strokes. It was awesome.

OK - back to Saturday night. We get there, and there is a big line - 20 minutes after the event was supposed to start. I don't know about you, but if I'm paying big cash to go to an event, I don't want to stand in line. At all. After we get in, there are only, like, 4 teeny tiny food stations - two of which are laden with onions and make you throw up a little bit in your mouth after eating them. Then, there are a million people standing in line to get one little cream puff at each area. Again, if I'm paying a lot of money for light, tiny dishes - there had better be sufficient areas so no one has to wait. Ditto with the booze lines - even if I am only getting a Sierra Mist. Top that off with a zillion Chaz & Trixie's - and its just not a good vibe. I know - what did I expect right? Its a benefit to save the world. Of course Chaz & Trixie and their yachting friends will be there.

I was hoping to have a perfect view of the boat parade and fireworks from the North Terrace (as advertised in the BLU promotion), but there weren't very many seats around, so Trixie & Buffy took all of the seats, and Chaz & Thurston were blocking the areas around the girls, so basically I didn't get any good shots at all. We were packed like sardines. Save for this semi-blurry view of the Chicago sunset, that I had to beg some ol' biddy to let me stand in front of her for three seconds.
While standing in line for strawberries & chocolate, I saw them open up an area, which allowed Pat to go and scope us a spot to actually sit down and maybe even eat. We scored a mini-steak burger from Gibson's (OHHHH SOOOO YUMMY!) and were able to enjoy our chocolate covered strawberries in peace. But we were completely out of view of the fireworks at that point, so all we saw were a few glows, booms and smoke coming back out of the harbor. I did snap this city shot (again, blurry) through the glass squeezed between a couple people:

The good things: Kettle One sponsored the event, and they had this really cool ice bar they were making cosmo's and dirty martini's for everyone (except me). I made it Pat's mission to drink as much as possible, so we could at least get some money's worth out of this gig.

They also had a nice selection of decadent desserts at the end...some almost too rich - but yummy! And, we got a nice Save The World bag with fun goodies (including a nice Porche Pen - because Porche was a sponsor and they weren't sending us all home with cars).

So, with our tired feet and aching backs from standing all night, we left at 10:30 and made our way home with the rest of the Venetian night traffic. Hopefully we'll look back at this birthday and laugh - but for now, ugh, what a disaster.

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