My best birthday cakes ever, and yes, I’m bragging this time

March 31, 2010

When I was little, my mother always made our birthday cakes. She even let us choose what shapes she’d make them in. I loved that, so when I had kids, I decided it would be the one thing I would always find time for. Of course, my mother didn’t work full time when I was in school, so she had a lot more time than me. But a promise to myself is a promise, and every year I’ve made the boys cakes.

Some cakes were easy, like the year my older boy wanted a book.Although he insisted the book be about a fireman, so for this non-artist, that was a challenge.

Then there was the year he wanted a hippo. I have no idea what a hippo cake should look like, but whatever that is, it wasn’t what mine turned out like. Fortunately, he was only three, so didn’t mind.

I really liked the artist’s pallete I did for my younger kid one year,

and last year’s Amazing Race party merited a great world map cake too.

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And the guitar cake for my younger guy was a big hit too.

But this year I think I outdid myself. Given that we live in Vancouver and the party fell right after the end of the Paralympics, my boys chose mascot cakes. I had convinced them to combine their parties into one, so I would only have to do one party this year. But both insisted on having their own cakes, and fair enough. Still, that meant I had to produce two Olympic mascots in one morning.

But produce I did. Working from a drawing my seven year old made, and with a stuffie of each of my subjects perched on the counter before me, I created a Quatchi cake and a MukMuk cake. And I think they are my best cakes yet. The kids at the party loved them, although MukMuk was more popular than Quatchi (but that could have been because I used chocolate-dyed coconut for his fur, which not every kid may have loved).

I just hope next year they want something simple, like another bowling alley.


A child plays “Olympics” — we adults could learn a lot

February 23, 2010

My seven year old is home sick today, and since I am trying to keep the tv off for at least part of this sick day, he gathered up his stuffies (stuffed animals to you non-parents) to play Olympics.

First, he put his two mascots into his slippers and said they were doing the luge.

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Then he put them into daddy’s slippers and they were bobsledders. (Sorry it’s a bit blurry. They were moving too fast for a good photo.)

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Then he built his own sliding track. Note how safe it is. His track has lots of spectators, but they all have a great view of the whole track.

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Here are the athletes in the dressing room.

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Here are the spectators lining up to get in.

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Here are two spectators trading Olympic pins.

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Through the eyes of a child, I give you the Playroom Sliding Centre. Go Canada Go!


Media relations: Will there be a flood of pitches after the Olympics

February 22, 2010

The advice for media relations professionals from the time the Olympics pulled into full gear this month is to not pitch anything, unless it was an Olympics story. And that’s good advice, because very little else is making news anywhere in the Lower Mainland this last couple weeks.

I have a couple things I want to get out to media, but am advising clients to hold back until next week. In fact, I could be pitching about four different stories early next week. Yikes.

And that’s just me. If every PR agency and consultant is in the same boat as me, will we flood media with non-Olympic news? And if we do, will we fatigue them right away? Will they be too tired to listen after two weeks of non-stop Olympic celebrations?

Maybe I should wait another week or two. Oh, but then I run into the Paralympics. What’s your advice on timing for media pitching in the post-Olympic era?


Networking Olympics-style

February 20, 2010

Before I became an Olympics booster this week, I had vowed to stay out of downtown the entire Olympic period, other than must-do work meetings and the hockey game to which we have tickets on Sunday.

But then the Board of Trade sent out an email inviting members, of which I am one, to come to a free networking event at the BC Pavilion at the Vancouver Art Gallery. And while I originally said I wouldn’t attend, given that it was downtown and at night (working mom, not much for late-night partying), my husband talked me into it, reminding me that my part-time job is ending and I need to find more work now, which means I need to network.

So after biking home from Burnaby on Wednesday, I cleaned myself up and boarded a bus for downtown to see what all the fuss was about. The number of people milling about is staggering. I walked all around the Gallery, and it seemed like everyone was just walking around, not really doing anything, but with that many people, it sure seemed exciting.

In I went to the Gallery, and headed up to the fourth floor where the reception was. The displays were interesting and eye-catching, and the short 3D movie there is fun, but the touchscreen interactive art stuff was my favourite part of the Pavillion. Then I went to the bar part, and it was packed to the gills with networkers. Of course the giant screens were showing competitions, but people were moving about and sharing Olympic stories. It was kind of the same happy, no worries atmosphere I encountered on the bus to figure skating, but in a business context. I even traded some pins with a man who turned out to be the Mayor of Coquitlam!

It was getting late and I thought about leaving before things ended, but I was convinced to stick around to see “the show.” It seems that every Olympic night at 9:30 pm, there is a fireworks/laser light show in Robson Square, and the balcony of that bar overlooks Robson Square offering the best view possible. So I stayed, and it was phenomenal!

I can’t say I picked up any business leads, but I did reconnect with a few associates and friends, got access to a great venue without any lineups, and got to experience networking, Olympics style.


I am now an Olympic booster — or how I met two skating superstars in one day

February 19, 2010

The view from our seats as Patrick Chan skates

I admit to being a bit cynical about the Olympics taking place in my backyard. I’ve never been much for crowds, and as the mom of two young kids, late night concerts and parties don’t mean much to me. Yes, we had won the lottery and have tickets to two hockey games this weekend — one men and one women — to which we’re taking the kids. But I wasn’t all that keen on joining the throngs crowding downtown. But all that changed for me on Tuesday.

The other tickets we’d gotten were two of the cheap ($250!) seats for figure skating, for Men’s Short program. My friend bought my second ticket, as hubby is not interested in skating and I’m not interested in spending that kind of money on one of my young kids. And going to that event Tuesday has totally changed my perspective.

First, the ride there. The boys have been getting excited about trading Olympic pins, ever since we got started on Granville Island last weekend. So I wore a few pins on my scarf and approached a few people for trades on the bus. And got some great ones! Then, as we were riding on the second bus that would take us to the Coliseum, the driver was calling for people to move to the back of the bus, but a man was blocking the aisle. Turns out he was signing autographs, because ELVIS STOJKO WAS ON THE BUS!!

Me & Elvis

He got pushed to the back and we followed. He was so nice and gracious, and singed my ticket, and let me take this photo.

And then for the entire ride there, on a public bus, Elvis held court and answered everyone’s questions, talking about what he’s up to now, and giving us commentary on the competitors we were about to see. It was an amazing experience. My friend joked that maybe Elizabeth Manley would be on our bus back.

Then we got off the bus, and even though we had to walk about 2 km around the PNE to get to the Colliseum, no one complained. Security was no big deal, there was live entertainment as we walked, and everyone — everyone!! — was happy.

Our seats were very high up, but we could see, and it was fine. The energy was wonderful. Yes, the food was expensive, but not horribly so, and there were healthy choices. Yes, there were lines for food and washrooms, but they were moving very quickly, so no problem.

Me & Liz

The skating was lovely and exciting, and we really enjoyed being there. And then I went to use the washroom. As I was exiting to wash my hands, a woman came in the exit and asked if she could cut in line as she was on t.v. I didn’t  see her at first, but washed my hands slowly so I could see who it was when she came out. And incredibly, it was Elizabeth Manley, and she let me take her photo.

Honestly, I didn’t think I’d get into this, but now I totally am. Go to an event — there are tickets on sale at the box office at the venue. It’s really worth it. And who knows who you’ll meet!


Olympic freebies for families

February 1, 2010

I won’t even try to pull together a list of all the free stuff you can do in Vancouver during the Olympics, because I could never do it as well as these people, so I’ll just post a couple links:

Yoyomama’s fabulous family list

City Caucus’ freebie list

And I suggest finding a spot on the torch relay route to cheer it on. I just worked out that the torch run will come within a block of my home around 5 pm one evening. I think I’ll invite friends over to cheer it on.

I’m trying to get into the Olympic spirit, instead of just being annoyed as it takes over the city I live in. Go Canada go!