Essential Buttercream Piping Techniques Workshop

On Saturday, I attended a wonderful 3-hour Essential Buttercream Piping Techniques workshop in Waalre, a suburb of Eindhoven.   It might sound far but it was about 1/2 hour from Den Bosch – so no biggie.   Lucky for me it was given in English.  Last year I took a Royal Icing course in Dutch, which was fine and I followed along perfectly, but when it’s given in your mother tongue, it’s just that much easier.

I found the course being advertised on an Expat Facebook group I belong to a few months back and after reading the description and seeing it was on a Saturday morning, I knew it would be perfect for what I wanted.  The course was €65 for 3 hours.

In this class you will learn to decorate cupcakes beautifully using buttercream and a variety of piping nozzles. You will create a classic swirl, rosettes, dots and frills.  This class is the perfect start to cake decorating.

During the class you will learn:

  • About the different types of buttercream
  • How to pipe using various piping nozzles
  • Techniques using essential Wilton 1M and 2D nozzles
  • How to pipe a rosette
  • How to pipe a classic swirl
  • How to achieve a 2-tone effect.

You will take away a set of 6 decorated buttercream cupcakes, 2 wilton piping nozzles and piping bags. You will leave with the confidence to decorate your own cupcakes at home.

I already new about the traditional American style buttercream as that is what we grew up eating and making.   But Italian Buttercream and Swiss Meringue Buttercream were new to me – in that I’ve never made them but I watch Preppy Kitchen making them so I knew how they were made.   He is a very talented baker by the way is funny so if you are looking for a new one to watch, John is your man.  We didn’t actually MAKE the icing but worked with it and got to enjoy it during our coffee break.

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There were six of us in total and we each had practice trays and our own supplies where we learned how to use the different tips.  We were given step-by–step instructions on how to do a classic swirl, rosette & how to create a 2-tone effect and so much more.   She even gave tips to each of us on how we could improve though out the course.  After each newly learned technique, we self practiced a bit until we were confident to do our real cupcakes.

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We all had individual work areas set up where we had space to practice the techniques we were learning … then when we were confident enough, we were able to do the real deal on our cupcakes.

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foto cedit: KMCakes

The six cupcakes which we decorated and took home were made using Swiss Meringue.  My kids were not the biggest fans of the taste but I’m sure it was only that they are not used it it and never had it.  They only ever had American Buttercream.   It’s the same with fondant – not fans.  It might grow on them – we’ll see… as I’ll make Swiss Meringue buttercream next time.  They tasted yummy to me.  But I normally don’t eat my own treats so I shared one with my SIL and will share the rest too….  They are just too pretty to eat.

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We even left  with a goody bag containing some piping bags, two tips, a recipe card and a yummy home-made cookie.

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Co-incidentally it is my son’s 12th birthday Monday and I’m making cupcakes for his traktatie at school.  Originally I was going to do Royal Icing cookies as that is my passion but as I did them for Sint and Kert Dinner, he wanted something different so we are doing cupcakes.

 

So perfect timing to use some of my new piping skills.   Here are the final cupcakes I whipped up last night quickly after hosting a family birthday party for my son at our house yesterday later afternoon with 6 kids & 6 adults.   Today during lunch when my kids came home for lunch, my daughter told me that a girl in S’s class said to her “tell your mom, she makes the best desserts”.

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I’ve already recommend the workshops to my friends on Facebook, but the host, Kate, from KM Cakes  is so personable and professional.  The whole experience was just so lovely – it was really a great time.  I’ll definitely keep and eye out for future workshops.  She really knows what she is doing, is very clear at explaining – HIGLY recommend!  Her work is amazing  – just have a look at her site.  If you need a cake for an event like a birthday, party or even a wedding cake or just love treats – she has a cake club too – check out her site  and see her gallery for yourself.   Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

Let me know if you’ve tried Swiss or Italian buttercream varieties before? Any tips? I know they are tricky to make and have a lot of steps, but I’m up for the challenge.  What about another interesting cooking/baking course in the Netherlands? I took a sushi making course and Korean kimchi making course, so I’m always up for learning how to make new dishes.

*NOTE:  This is not a sponsored post – all opinions are my own and I received no compensation.  It is simply me, sharing my experiences about this workshop. 

12th Birthday Party @ Hezemans Indoor Karting

Not that long after we moved to the Netherlands, I took the kids to Speelland at Berkse Bergen and it was there where Soren got bit by the karting bug.  While it’s a small track, for €2. you can drive around the outdoor kartbaan a few laps. So he did that a few times the two times we visited and he LOVED it.  He also visited American Road House in Zaltbommel and did karting with his dad.

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So it was no surprise when we asked him if he wanted a karting birthday party this year for a small group of friends, he agreed.  As he didn’t have a kids’ party last year, we really wanted to be sure to do something extra fun this year.  So after looking at our options we chose to drive down and check out Hezemans in Eindhoven.  It’s not that far of a drive and looked like the nicest and most professionally-run place.   During our short 15 minute visit, we were sold and he was so excited.    Here is he is with his favorite driver Max.  

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However we were not 100% sure that the parents of his friends would allow their kids to go karting as most boys around 11 wouldn’t have ever been karting before…  thankfully they all agreed!   

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For kids,  they offer two sizes karts.   Mini karts: for kids who are between 1.20 – 1.45 m and Junior karts:  for kids taller than 1.45 m but younger than 16 years old.  Thankfully all the boys who came along were taller, so they were all able to go into the Junior karts.  Our 9 year old daughter who came along yet didn’t race.  In fact, she couldn’t race with them even if she wanted to join as she’s not yet 1.45 m and they are pretty strict so something to keep in mind when booking this type of party.   We also kept the party quite small – which makes it much more manageable plus we had limited seats in the two cars.

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Kids Party Packages

Hezemans offers different party packages for groups of 4 kids or more;  which include track time, pancakes or fries and a snack.  You can add extra heats and even bowling or cooking your own food on a stone grill in the middle of the table.   All of the info is outlined on their website so you can customize how you want for your needs.   It can take kids a few laps to get the hang of it so they gave them some time for a practice ride and then another 8 or 10 minutes to really start racing.   You could see the confidence build and the lap times getting faster and faster.  They boys were really was impressive.   Our five guys were on the track with another party of four lads – who were celebrating a birthday too.  The one boy who faster than Soren attends their Sunday sessions so has a lot of experience.  I told Soren it might be something could try out more… but for now he had a LOT of fun doing this.    All in all we were there for about 3 hours.    They also have the kids parties on certain days & times  – we did a Friday from 3-6 pm as there is a lot of demand for adult parties here.  For obvious safety reasons, they cannot have the kid and adults on the track at the same time.

We did add 55 minutes of bowling into our party package for €12.50  which was fun and helped make the party a bit longer.  We were afraid of traffic heading out of Eindhoven on Friday night at 5:00 pm so it was great to wait just that big longer.  When we left after eating, there was no traffic – perfecr!!

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Safety first!

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At first we could see all the boys were a bit nervous about what to expect when they were out on the track.  What if they crashed.. how fast do they go, etc.   Their experts first show kids an instructional video and then gear them up in helmets and neck guards. Each child is fitted into a kids’ cart to ensure they can reach the pedals. Drivers aren’t let on to the track until they know how to brake, accelerate and back up, etc.  So the staff questions the kids to ensure they know what they are going.    It was 100% in Dutch so I didn’t get it all but my son did so that is good 🙂  The staff stays on the track to help young drivers who bump into the rails and to keep them in check if any issues.  Which at the end there was a few issues – apparently on the last heat one of the older boys in the other group did some banging into the back of two of our kids and a few tears were shed – which I think came about more in frustration than pain.   After a few minutes – tears were gone and all seemed fine.

Party Planning

The staff at were extremely helpful in figuring out the details of our go karting birthday party and during the party itself.  When you arrive, you are assigned a large table so you can come in and your have a place to leave your coats and keep as your sort of “base”.  As we live about 1/2 hour away, we had the kids first come to our house from school to hang out.  Cleary it’s a new world for me between the conversations and things which come out of the mouths of some of these boys and the fact that they were ALL (well one wasn’t as he doesn’t have a phone yet) playing on their PHONES together… I just had to take a photo.

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As they get out of school at 12:30 pm and we didn’t have to be there until 3, I first had the boys come back to ours.   They first had lunch – requested  Brabants worstenbroodjes, chips & soda = healthy & yummy – NOT 🙂  But I did make two delicious home-made cakes that morning, which they have been eating each day since.

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What I am not sure is if you are allowed to bring your own cake to the place – I assume not as there was a sign on the door that said no outside food allowed – but birthday cakes might be an exception.

Medals on the Podium

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To finish off the celebration, each child received a print-out of their race standings and the all the drivers received the same medal.  Everyone went up on the podium for a photo at once.   I do wish they separated the groups for the photo, but they were all set up at once so with the birthday boys in the 1st position (coincidentally) they were the fastest racers).  So, I have no idea who the kids in the photo to the left and the tall one in the back, other than they were the other group who raced at the same time our kids did.  It happened so fast and then before you knew it half were gone and a new group was there, so I couldn’t retake the photos of group.  I could just barely get them all looking at my phone at the same time 🙂

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Overall, Soren’s 12th birthday party was a definite hit.  All but one of his friends had never experienced karting before and they were beyond pumped after their first round of laps.  I suspect he’ll have this party here again next year and perhaps he’ll inspire some friends to also have karting parties.

I have some videos here is one.

https://youtu.be/0lNMVKQR_B4

And of course, I created a photo collage of his favorite things – some old some new.

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Dear Son,

Today as you turn 12, I wish I could go back in time.   I wish I could go back and hold you as a baby. I wish I could go back to the delivery room to when Papa announced you were a boy and I insisted I see your peepee to be sure.  I’d love to see your little turtle face one more time.   Even with your colic and your need to sleep in the swing for the first four months of your life.  I hated to return to work after 12 weeks home with you and bringing you daily to Turtle Funs daycare – so when I had to chance to take redundancy and stay home, I jumped on it.  Being as stay at home mom for years has been rewarding as ever. It has also had challenging times when I felt lost and struggled and questioned if it was the right decision for me as a person.  But I honestly believe you turned out the way you are today because of the time I was able to spend with you each and every day.  I wish I could go back, sit still and be in that same moment just one more time.

When I look at pictures of you in your toddler years with your round cheeks and long fingers, I smile.  Wondering if you’d be a lefty based on the way you held your markers and paint brush or the way you threw a ball.   Inside my heart breaks a little bit because I wish I could squeeze you as you ask me a billion questions in your tiny voice, just one more time.

Now you lay on the couch next to me with your giant feet protruding under a fleece blanket and a telephone in your hands watching the Voice, Wie is de Mol and Hoogvliegers.  How and where has this time gone?  And here you are, this tall boy that will be a man when I blink just a few more times.

You’ve become gifted in the art of rolling your eyes when you disagree, and saying “Mom, just listen to me for a second…”. I’m not always good at listening; we both know that. We don’t always agree and sometimes I don’t handle our disagreements very well; I’m working on that.

But no matter what, you’re still my little boy. Even though your hands are nearly bigger than mine and your feet are now just that much bigger.  I still love your innocence and my help with doing your hair … and the fact that you only wear deodorant after gym les, and you take the LONGEST showers in the world.  You’re still my little boy.  You’ll be my little boy forever.

When I look back at those days when you were just a dream in my heart or a seven pound baby in my arms…I had no idea. I had no idea the incredible young man you would become. I had no idea how my heart would stretch and grow with every day of being your mom..I had no idea how proud or in love I would be.

I wish I could go back, but I wouldn’t want to miss a second of watching you right now. Raising you has been so fun and I’m looking forward to seeing you continue to grow… what will 12 bring … or 13 or 14.

Focus & do well in school – try your hardest and doors will open for you.  Without giving it your all, life will only be harder.   The choice is yours…

Stay curious my boy!!

Love Mom!

Speeltuin de Splinter, Eindhoven

After a good week of not seeing the sun, the first day it came out again I knew we had to get the kids outside and into the playground.

Our kids are a funny age – at 8 my youngest likes playgrounds. But as someone who can be afraid of high structures and rope bridges, it’s not always the best place for her.  While she wants to be courageous, she’s afraid of getting hurt and lacks the core strength to do some of the things.  My 10 year old finds many of them boring and would prefer to find a grass area with goals to play football with some other boys.

Having heard only good things about this park and the fact we we’re going to MediaMarkt nearby to get a toaster – finally, we stopped there first.

As expected, Soren was off with three other boys playing football and Maebh and I wandered a bit.  Parts of the park were really muddy and loads of puddles, so getting around was a bit of a challenge.

The giant slide up on the hill was pretty cool.   And as explained above she didn’t actually go down but climbed up.

Those round mesh swings and a hammock are favorites!

There is a small kinderboederij but as the babies were being born, so you we’re not allowed inside. But look how cute this baby is….

A section with birds where a few unsupervised shits were chasing the birds trying to hit them.

Look at this beautiful pauw.

There is a castle with tunnels underneath – our kids are too old for it but this is the type of extra large playground which if you had small kids, it would be hard to keep track of them.

Zip lines are always fun!

There are two small splash pools for kids on hot days – very shallow so perfect for young kids to cool off.

Before we left the kids played with the sand/water area [again geared towards young kids but ours still like it.]

Overall the playground itself was nice. Perfect for kids 4-7 years old who can play independently.  There is a window where you can buy drinks and snacks, but it was closed when we there.

You can read and see more photos on their website here.

Screen Shot 2019-02-21 at 20.53.37.pngThey have organised events there like on Wednesday the building area – again all just a bit geared towards younger kids.  If we lived close by, the kids would certainly go there often as a great local neighborhood park, but I would not drive from Den Bosch specifically to enjoy this park – but would certainly stop again if in the neighborhood in Eindhoven.

Philips Museum – Eindhoven, Netherlands

On the second to last day in The Netherlands, the kids & I took a trip to Eindhoven.   We took the “sprinter” train from Boxtel which added to the adventure!   Coolest part of the train was that it was a brand new train – each set of chairs has electrical outlet & USB port.

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The main reason we visited Eindhoven was to visit the Philips Museum where we spent well over three hours!

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hdrIt is good value for money – €9 for adults and €4.50 for kids 6-18.  Kids under 6 are free but I personally would NOT take small kids here.  I think 6+ is the best age for both child & parent (and other guests).

Tip: Just after the bathrooms with the coat rack on the left, take a right and there are a wall of lockers.  Put in a coin and shove in your stuff – didn’t see them until we were on our way after looking for our coats for a few minutes as they were covered by literally a hundred others.

I paid an additional €5.00 for the Mission Eureka game.  Knowing full-well, we’d never win the game, but I thought the kids love to do challenging game/trail.  They provided us with an ipad (which thankfully was in a case, so the thoughts of it dropping were quickly settled). We had to come up with a name so Soren chose “Night Howlers” from Zootropolis. If Nils was with us, I’m 100% sure we’d score much higher but going up against teams of 4 adults vs. me, an 8 year old  & a 6 year old was purely for entertainment vs. a competition.   Equipped with our iPad, we took photos of ourselves, and set out to read the exhibits.  In each area, you put your iPad into the lit up table and answer some questions and take some challenges together and sometimes against each other.

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Mission Eureka Game

Overall there is an excellent history of the Philips family and their association with Eindhoven and around the world with text in both Dutch and English.  There are a huge number of exhibits and interactive portals allowing you to see where Philips impacts the world beyond the light bulb, televisions, shavers and boom boxes, but in medical devices like the x-ray & MRI, etc.  The kids thought it was cool to see this yellow tv with the push buttons – hard for them to imagine we had to get up and press a button to turn the channel each time.

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The kids loved each one more than the next and they did a great job making each one fun and understandable.  Among them was the heat sensor camera – so they could see by lifting up sleeves and exposing skin would be shown on the screen, etc. and then of course as it was video – it’s only natural for a DAB!  If you click here you’ll see a video too!

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As we were entering I saw a sign which said “Museum Kids Factory 1 pm” but didn’t think much about it thinking we’d never be there at 1 pm as we were one of the first people to enter the building.  So when we were done with Mission Eureka game, we returned it an inquired about the Museum Kids Factory.  She explained its a hands-on workshop where children can make things – 1.50 per child for supplies – WELL WORTH IT!   Kids can have fun being creative and finding out more about technology. There are all kinds of activities on offer, including soldering, drawing with 3D pens, building with bits of wood, using an electronic circuit and playing with a wonderful collection of Philiform, the range of building blocks and experimental construction kits developed by Philips in the 1970s.  It was there where volunteer, Jan de Lau, was so kind and helped both kids step-by-step build their gadgets.  It wasn’t until later which I understood the items to make were geared towards kids 8+ but thankfully it was Jan who helped a lot as Maebh at 6.5 was a bit young.  Soren who will be 9 in a matter of works was a perfect age.

unnamed5Overall we really enjoyed the museum and especially liked the Museum Kids Factory.   The museum is well worth a visit if you are in Eindhoven and can go for a few hours.  This is one of the museums which you can get free if you live in The Netherlands and have the Museum Kaart.

Afterwards we walked around a bit – ate our final Vietnamese lompeia.

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Then popped into XXL – the shop which has aisles and aisles of junk and loads of laughs. It was there where the kids bought their squishy guys. At 1.00 each I didn’t mind, but sure enough it was a matter of HOURS before Soren’s broke – flour inside all over the bathroom in the Heuvel’s parking garage – Maebh’s still with us back in Dublin.

 

When Nils met up with us, we walked around a bit looking for a place to stop in for a beer and some food. We spotted one place just behind the Cathedral but from outside it looked bad and the name “Drinkers Pub” nearly made me avoid it but a great lesson in not judging a book by its cover.   Nils popped in and said we should go in – it was great choice – 800+ beers to choose from!  I had a small glass of classic wit and a half pint of Schneider Weisse – both on draught.  We were hungry so we also got nachos – which were yummy!  Would definitely go back here too.

 

Oh and Soren and Nils had some laughs in the men’s room as the urinals were made from beer kegs – the ladies room was just plain toilets.

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