Saturday, September 27, 2008

Topsy Turvy Cakes and the Whole Sordid Tale

First of all, this is a long and potentially boring post. If you just want to see the finished product without all the gory details, just go down to my cake blog instead! The link is right above my other blog list, under all the pictures to the left.

For those of you staying on this flight, there is good news and bad news. Which do you want first? I guess I'll start with the good news. Here are some pictures of the cake after I was finally done stressing over it:

The bad news is that I am afraid it very well may have crashed before it even made it to the party. For some reason the anchoring of it wasn't right, and one of the angles was off - so the middle tier ended up getting squished, and I had to put a suran-wrap girdle around it to keep it from falling completely apart.

You can see how the fondant got all rippled when the cake started caving under the weight of the top layer.

You will also notice cracks all over my morbid black fondant - I suppose since it was for a 50th birthday party I could say it was all part of the scheme - wrinkles and cracks and all that - but I'd be lying!

And I will say I sacrificed stability for taste - pumpkin cake, though scrumptious and infinitely better than boring spice cake - was not the sturdiest cake to make this out of. After having a very difficult time getting the fondant on the top tier to smooth down (and failing) I decided to try a new tack with the middle tier - wrapping the fondant up from the bottom instead.

Yeah. Didn't work. Still extremely difficult to flatten out - I ended up making little tucks and actually pinching the fondant up and cutting it with scissors. The marbelized look comes from mixing black & white fondant together.

I guess the ripples just add to the effect. Still, as a perfectionist, I was miffed by this detail.

Here I am stressing when the middle tier didn't go in like butter (the way it did in my mind).

Thanks to my mom, I was able to shimmy it into the other cake using my spatula like a shoe horn:

.....and here I am freaking out when I got the top tier in and the cake didn't look whimsical enough for me:

.....and here I am walking away from it before I grabbed a chainsaw and took my frustration out.

The moral of the story is:

1. Don't do these kind of cakes anymore.
2. If I do one of these cakes again, make it out of super-sturdy pound cake or the like.
3. Pay more attention to my angles and calculate the added thickness of fondant when cutting a hole for the next cake to anchor into.
4. Anchor with hidden pillars and decorator plates rather than cardboard and skewers.
5. Center the cakes on each other rather than flirting with the edges.
6. Charge an arm and a leg - and possibly a torso and an ear or two.
7. Now I can finally get some sleep.
8. I have phenomenal friends and family who believe in me and are supportive and encouraging (thanks again, Carissa!)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Krispy Treat Empire

So, this weekend I am doing a topsy turvy cake for someone's 'over the hill' birthday. Here is the gist of what I will be doing:

Except the bottom tier will be white with black stripes, the middle tier will be grey and white marble, and the top will be black w/white polka dots. The balls around the bottom of each tier will be neon pink and purple. No red anywhere, and no funky stuff poking out of the top or sides. The bottom tier is krispy treat, and I learned a few valuable lessons today while trying to carve all the layers and put them together:

1. Don't TRY to carve krispy treat. It wasn't meant to be.

2. Krispy treat is very forgiving; if you DO have to carve it, you can always patch it up later!

3. On a topsy turvy cake, the bottom of each tier doesn't need to be carved; (each tier of the cake is actually three cakes, cut in half diagonally and stacked) only the top part needs to have the slant to it.
4. Frozen cake carves about as well as krispy treat. Carve cakes before freezing; frost cakes after freezing.
5. Pumpkin cake is too moist to carve anyway, but tastes awesome.
6. I really need a Kitchen Aid.
7. Listen to husband from now on when it comes to cake business.

I am hoping and praying that this cake turns out! I will be sad if it doesn't, not to mention being crushed by an overwhelming sense of failure.

We had our pack meeting for Cub Scouts on Tuesday, and one of our Wolf dens made these bead necklaces for the Cubmaster and me. I almost cried; it was so sweet. Here I am in my hideous yellow t-shirt, my cheap-and-extremely-sorry excuse for a Scout shirt.
The official ones are like $50 at the scout office - this one was 2.50 at Michaels. No comparison!

Here is the mountain of laundry that Sean and I scaled today. I am happy to report that all that remains of it is the load of jeans in the dryer.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What happens when you let your 18-month-old play in the bathroom unsupervised....

At least he's over playing in the toilet, right????

For those of you who care, my cake blog is up and running. It is (of course) I added a link to it right above my other blog list down at the bottom.

I made a yummy dessert today that I found in The Friend from last month, "Peanut-Crust Pudding." If someone out there doesn't get The Friend, let me know, and I will post it on here.

What the heck, I'll post it anyway:

Peanut-Crust Pudding


1 c. flour
2 c. crushed peanuts
1 c. butter, softened
*Preheat oven to 325. Mix and press into bottom of 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes and let cool.

1st Layer:

1 lg. container cool whip
1-8 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
*Blend 1/2 of cool whip, cream cheese, & powdered sugar. Spread over cooled crust & refrigerate for 5 minutes.

2nd Layer:

1-4 oz. pkg instant vanilla pudding
2 1/4 c. milk
*Whisk milk & pudding until thickened. Spread over cream cheese layer & refrigerate for 5 minutes.

3rd Layer:

1-4 oz. pkg butterscotch pudding
2 1/4 c. milk
*Repeat above step.


Remaining cool whip & chocolate shavings.

*Cover & refrigerate for 4-6 hours, cut into squares.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cow Cake Creations

So, here is my first professional cake! That's right folks, I just got paid for my first cake! My wonderful friend Carissa had her baby shower today, and she asked if I'd do the cake. It was a stressful week of baking, fondant making, icing making, etc. I am exhausted! But I am so thankful for the chance. I decided to call my business 'Cow Cake Creations'. I wanted 'Bovine Bakery', but there is actually a bakery in California with that name. (For those of you who don't know me, I have a cow fetish. I have a cow valance in my kitchen and several cow trinkets in my kitchen as well.

Anyway, Sean and my mom helped cut out the fondant polka-dots last night as I attached them to the cake, and then Sean did most the work putting the tiers together. Thanks, honey!

I am going to probably start a new blog for my cakes. I will let you all know what the name is if you are interested. If anyone needs a cake, let me know! Here are some more pictures of the cake:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hobby Lobby

That is the new name for my house. Or maybe I should call it 'The Dysfunctional Home Show'. I feel like all I have done lately is yell at my kids. I have been busy trying to get Emma's birthday present out of the way so I can focus on cakes I have coming up: Carissa's baby shower cake, a 50th birthday cake, & my sister's wedding cake. Emma has been wanting a Belle dress for at least two years now, and I figured I'd better make it before the pattern is too small for her! So here is the partly-finished product; I still have to sew the lining down inside, do the hem, make the wrap that goes around the top, and then my mom is making some red ribbon roses to put on the peplum and on the wrap. I will put the finished product on here!

Here is a cake I did today for one of the Young Women in our ward - she wanted it for someone at school. The icing isn't very smooth on the sides, but for some reason I had a hard time getting it not to fall off the cake altogether. So I used an icing sculptor to put the rivets in the sides. Anyway, it was for a kid at her school who ran cross country (see the little dude running on the graham cracker trail??).

Not much else has been going on around here besides all that! I am annoyed at Hobby Lobby and Michaels for being out of the huge boxes of fondant I need to do the cakes I have coming up. So, instead I made two batches yesterday. Talk about elbow grease!

After making 3 batches of frosting with my ancient hand mixer and 2 batches of marshmallow fondant, I was so sore last night. (Carissa, don't feel bad! I WANT to do this. See my smile?)

Luckily my mom saw my need for Spencer not to be under my feet while I kneaded the fondant, so she read a story to the kids for me. She has been a huge help with dishes and the kids since she got here on Friday.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Soccer & Preschool

Haven't blogged in a while - I can't really even say why I've been so busy, but I just feel out of touch.

Anyway, I thought I would put some pictures of the girls' first day of soccer on here. Kenna's game was at 11 and Emma's was at 12. I forgot sunscreen and Spencer turned into a tomato baby later that day.

We had to bribe Mackenna with a Happy Meal just to get her to agree to play - then she spent the whole game displaying her aversion to the soccer ball. Sean had to remind me that she is starting soccer one year earlier than Emma did, so it might take her a while.

Emma had no trouble going after the ball - she even got a little aggressive, getting in front of the other girls. When she was playing defense she was more interested in pulling her gargantuan shirt over her head than defending the goal.

Here are a couple pics of Kenna's first day of school today.

While she was gone Spencer took a nap and I actually had a couple hours to myself! I would like to say I started the Belle dress I have been promising Emma for two years now (it is her bday present this year), or that I made my house presentable in some way. I was actually in the basement the whole time, cleaning out our x-office/toy/junk room. My mom is coming to stay with us for a while at the end of the week, and that will be her room. While I was down there I was reading parts of old journals, mostly my mission journal. I can't believe I've been married for almost nine years, and I have three kids, the oldest getting baptized next year, and the youngest not really a baby any more. Sorry, I'm a little nostalgic today, I guess!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Need More

I just finished the partial draft of Midnight Sun on I SO ABSOLUTELY TOTALLY COMPLETELY LOVED IT. Twilight is my favorite of her books so far, and having Edward's perspective was phenomenal. The things that bothered me about Bella's personality seemed insignificant through his eyes. Through his eyes she was truly unique, perceptive, and selfless. Also, I always thought when I read Twilight that at first he kept coming around because she smelled good, or because he was curious about her silent thoughts. It surprised me how quickly he was head over heels for her - nothing to do with her scent or the glitch in her psyche. If possible, Edward's value has increased exponentially in my opinion. (Sorry, Sean.) I sincerely hope she finishes it when she isn't so upset about the ordeal any more!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Out of touch

I feel so out of it! I haven't blogged in a few days - it has been busy around our house. Sean's parents were here for a couple weeks - one week at his brother's to help with the new baby, and the last few days at our house. Can I just say my MIL is an angel? I am christening her the patron saint of laundry. I don't think she rested the whole time she was here.

She was always reading to the kids, emptying and reloading the dishwasher, wiping down counters, etc. The last two days she was here all she did was switch/fold/put away laundry. She is like the Super Woman, I swear. Her help was so appreciated. She even got up before me a couple mornings and fed the kids and did their hair. I am very fortunate.

The last few days I have been making numerous trips to Michaels/Hobby Lobby/Roberts getting stuff for my sister's wedding cake. My little baby sister BryAnne is getting married in six weeks, and I get to do her cake!

I am so excited. After the initial buzz wore off, however, I started pouring over the details in my mind (usually about the time I would lay down to sleep at night).

1: What kind of pillars to put between layers.
2: How many cake mixes it would take to do 2 each 8, 12, 16 inch cakes.
3: How much frosting it would take to frost/fill them and how on earth I would accomplish that with my ancient hand mixer.
4: How to transport the cakes from my house to Richfield.
5: How to flip a 16 inch cake onto a cooling rack that isn't big enough for it.

AHHHHHHH!!!! Okay. The nice thing about it is that with all these questions come much thought and even a few answers.

Question 1: the globe pillar set (she wants polka-dot ribbon, so I thought the balls would go with the dots). Picture it square instead of round, with the ribbon pictured below.

Question 2: 10 cake mixes, which comes out to 60 cups of batter. Give or take a few.

Question 3: Lots....and lots.....of frosting. I won't be making it. I will be buying it bulk from Albertsons or Costco or somewhere.

Question 4: I will bake/fill the cakes at my house, put them in huge boxes to transport and then frost them at the church before putting them together.

Question 5: NO IDEA. Let me know if anyone can come up with anything on that one.

Anyway, I haven't actually seen the colors she picked, but from what I have been told they are baby blue, mint green, & chocolate brown.

So I got this ribbon, and I thought maybe the dot ribbon around the top & bottom tiers, and the brown around the middle. She is having gerbera (sp?) daisies for the top.

Second stress factor! Sean's car is in the shop getting a bunch of valves, shafts, gaskets, and what have you replaced. Last Saturday Sean's mom and my SIL Brooke & the new baby & I were all on our merry way to Swiss Days in Midway (close to Park City). All of a sudden the car lurched and nothing happened when I pushed the gas. I pulled off the side of the freeway and we sat there for an hour waiting for Sean & his dad to bring us a different car. Then they waited for the tow truck for an hour, sacrificing their golf outing when they weren't back in time for the babysitters. Long story short, we have an unexpected car repair payment.

Right now our whole family has colds. Spencer is finally getting over his - he was grumpy bear for a few days there.

In closing, here are some cute pics of our kids playing in the castaway branches of the bush in front of our house.