Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cookie baton passed me!

Perfumes are the feelings of flowers. ~Heinrich Heine, The Hartz Journey

It's that time of the week to forever be in the kitchen, how I love the smells of the season! I've been trying my hardest to master my Mother-in-Law's Spritz Cookie recipe after she officially gave up the tradition due to it being labor intensive on the arms, back and legs now.

I've always been one to dabble here and there with arts and crafts and also try anything that sounded good recipe wise when baking, so cookie making to me is a combination of different recipes.

These pretzel chocolate and M&M treats are super good for practicing hand-eye coordination too :)

But every year, Black Friday morning in my husbands home as a child was sugar cookie making. I kind of felt an obligation to make them since my Mother-in-Law has passed the cookie press to me now, seeing I have the kids of the family and enjoy baking with them ever so much! And after several attempts I think I've got it down pat- so says hubby after several taste tests!

Last year I found this oh-so cute idea of re-using containers for gifting cookies and I've been saving a variety of things to use.

But now that I've mastered the 30 plus year spritz cookie recipe I feel the need to make some for the family, neighbors and then have some on hand for us... now I know why it's taken it's toll on my Mother-in-Law over the years, making dozens and dozens of cookies is wonderfully time consuming and I don't care what kind of kitchen you have there's never enough counter space. I had to end up putting pot holders on the floor for cooling the trays! And the mess... lets just say that since I'm doing this by myself after the kids (and now hubby) are in bed, the full sink will have to wait until tomorrow!

And since I most likely won't have time to post until after the holiday I couldn't help but share some ideas I found online that I'll be utilizing this weekend. Hope everyone has a blessed Christmas!

And the winner of the games, actually all the kids (big ones alike), will be recieving a goodie bag to take home! I saw these in a Mary Engelbreit Christmas book and had to try it out for a new way to display goodie bag without taking up room on the table!

The original photo of these had vintage Christmas wrapping paper with pom-poms glued to the bottoms, super cute! I printed out some holiday patterns onto cardstock and since I kept forgetting to pick up pom-poms at the store these past few weeks, for an extra treat I hot glued Dum-Dum's onto the bottom! Can't wait to see if they're a hit!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

No-go for phyllo

Tried my hand at making some homemade phyllo dough for a side to bring to the neighbors today and had to post that the recipe needs some tweaking... and I'll most likely be purchasing phyllo cups next time!

It was a combination of trying to save money and not having to run out to the grocery store when I didn't need anything else to pick-up ( because if I go to the grocery store with even one thing on the list I always end up with items in the cart I didn't plan on buying and the budget didn't allow for that to happen this month!).

I knew I wanted to make an appetizer with cream cheese, sausage and little flaky cups that would be easy to pop in your mouth. I have a great Williams-Sonoma mini muffin pan that was perfect and the easiest recipe for phyllo dough, it seemed so simple!

Serves/Makes: 1 batch

1/4 cup water
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

Sift the flour with the salt. Make a well in the middle of the flour. In the well put the water and the olive oil. Work the dough until it hangs well together. Dust flour on a table or board. Kneed the dough for about 5-7 minutes. The dough should be smooth and not stick to the board. Roll the dough out to a big rectangle. Lay a damp towel over it and let it rest for about 15 minutes. Flour your hands and work the dough from the middle outwards until you have the dough stretched to about 3 ft by 3 ft (1meter x 1meter) Cut the dough with a sharp knife or pizza cutter to the desired sheet size. Continue with the recipe that requires the phyllo dough.

Dough came out good, not at all sticky and really easy to work with, though I have really good muscles from the kneading and rolling!

Getting it paper thin was a hard task though! Just when I thought I had rolled it the thinnest I could go, I cut a piece, stretched it out, rolled some more and it got even thinner.

So I thought, there, this is how it's supposed to be, not so bad after all! I even doubled up some as another recipe stated so there could be flaky layers...

But when it cooked (at 350 for 10 mins) it came out the texture of a wonton, crunchy and thick, not at all flaky. I must have been missing a step of how to get it tissue thin instead of paper thin. So if you're looking for a dense filled cup or pocket type dough this is the recipe for you. And this certainly wouldn't work for desserts, it's good but much too thick.

The end result was delishish but just not what I expected. So if anyone has a secret to make phyllo do tell, but next time I'll be making that trip to the grocery store!

Monday, December 13, 2010

December festivities

December has always been a fun time of year filled with birthdays, Santa, hours of baking in the kitchen and ending with the joyous birth of Jesus. This year seems to be crammed with more than years past but still fun and just as enjoyable.

I just have to say that I'm so glad I wasn't hard-wired like others I know or come across at this time of year when they get so stressed out during busy times, it's saved me in the teaching world and now in parenthood! Enjoy every moment, busy or not, life is to be lived happily in all you do and say so your joy will spread to others. Wish I had the guts to say to people when at the bank or a store to just keep their frustrations, attitudes, bad language, and grumpy faces to yourself please; but I'm sure that'll make matters worse so I'm just thankful it doesn't bother me and I can use it as an example of what not to do for the kids!

That vented, just wanted to share the best birthday present I could have ever gotten from my boys, a smiling picture with Santa! For my birthday I wanted a day spent with the boys and decided to take them to the Bass Pro shop where they're supposed to have a winter wonderland set up with different tables of fun for the kids to play with along with a free photo with Santa. It was awesome! There was no line, nothing like the mall where at 6pm on any given day of the week it'd be at least a half and hour wait. They had a train display to watch, RC cars to drive, Red Ryder laser guns to shoot at a wall, and others we just never got to.

I've been prepping them for weeks about sitting on Santa's lap and just as I thought Mr. Outgoing went right up with no problem, sat on Santa's lap and answered every question he asked, especially the one about what toy he wanted, "a bicycle and dump truck helmet with a horn!" Santa was impressed and I just beamed, that's all the boys have been talking about, Santa bringing them a bike under the tree!

Gavin got extremely shy and held on to Mike with a death grip so as usual we didn't push it and used re-direction and went off to play some of the free games they had set up. Then Gavin realized that Carter got a candy cane after seeing Santa and he wanted one too, then there it was, all on his own he had the biggest smile and said "Me go see Santa too!" and was actually happy about it! I took him up, he gave Santa a high-five then actually sat on his lap and was talking to Santa like he's known him forever- stroking his soft suit collar, feeling his real beard all while answering Santa's questions of how old he was, what he wanted and if he's been a good boy! After he got down with a big smile I totally welled up with tears as this was a milestone for him and I was so glad he could actually enjoy the season with Santa instead of being so anxious! I am so glad to have such good photos of them this year to remember that day! Don't know if it'll be the same next year but it was such a nice ending to a great birthday for this year at least!

Gavin has cried his little eyes out every year, and the anxiety he's had since being 1yr old never helped, but time and maturity have done him well and I am impressed at the little man he is becoming! Just last night at Pop-Pop Thompson's 40th Retirement party he sat at the dinner table with the adults for a very long time eating and socializing like he was in Elementary school already! But Carter, as advanced as he is, made it known he doesn't want to grow up too fast just yet and refused to sit for dinner and cried when it was time to blow out Pop-Pop's candle, which is fine by me- stay young as long as you can both of you, tears and tantrums don't bother me any!

So glad I was able to re-use this cake pan from Gavin's 1st birthday dump truck theme! Gotta love Wilton pans, they're so versatile!

Mom-Mom only found one sippy cup firetruck, I knew there would be a fight for which boy got it so had to make it useful another way! But now that the party is over I'll have to hide this one until I hunt another one down!

Happy 40 yrs with the Baltimore City Fire Dept Pop-Pop! Actual retirement starts next fall when his sick and vacation leave expire, but we look forward to spending more time with him now that he's guaranteed to be home for holidays! He's already been to Gavin's pre-school for the Thanksgiving feast and now is able to go on Wednesday for the Christmas show too; here's to making up for lost time!

So amidst the yr. anniversary of my brothers passing, with all the cookie making, present wrapping and parties these next few weeks, it's made me even more thankful that I'm here on earth and know I'm enjoying every moment and trying my best to spread joy at every turn!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thanksgiving place card holder

Thank you Pottery Barn Kids for being out of your Thanksgiving Sailboat Treat Holder... no, really, thank you. I now am going to start the wonderful tradition of the boys helping me make our own place setting boats each year!

Here's the photo of the original felt sailboat treat holder ($6, not too bad seeing you can re-use them each year) in the PB catalog, along with the super pricey Centerpiece boat (which they still have in stock BTW if it strikes your fancy).

I was actually bummed they didn't have the sailboats online or in store when I went to order them this week, they were actually super cute. So now with my heart still set on using that idea for the upcoming holiday I had to look up how to make a felt boat but then decided it would probably cost me more than $6 in the long run for the felt and materials to do it on my own. So I opted to look up how to make paper boats and found this easy tutorial.

And wa-la, still super cute, and will be even better with colored cardstock and filled with goodies! This is definatly something I will enjoy preparing for our feast, along with the yummy food too of course!

handmade projects

Friday, October 29, 2010

My sweeties

Well, finally finished the Halloween costumes and they turned out good for my first time! I stumbled onto the idea of the ice cream cone earlier in the year when searching Google for something and saw this Mom made her daughters costume out of panty hose, looked super easy!
This was perfect because Carter was totally into ice cream, I mean really into ice cream for a 2yr old...asking for it at the dinner table almost every night when he finished his meal and even for snack; though he never got it for snack b/c of mean old Mommy saying he needed something healthy instead.

Then it didn't take long to come up with a costume idea for Gavin, he's totally into donuts! He'd consume a whole box of munchkins if I let him, eating the chocolate ones first of course (Did I mention how much I love these boys, they sooo take after me in the sweets department and I'm loving it!)

I then headed to a nearby one-stop-shop, Walmart, for fabric for both costumes, polyfil, multi-colored straws, and white pantyhose for the ice cream part; I would have loved nothing more than to make Carter's favorite chocolate ice cream but I could only find mocha- and it didn't look like chocolate if you know what I mean. It was awesome spending only $4 for all the fabric too, gotta love clearance racks even in the fabric section!

I was able to use things around the house to help me with a layout as the pattern was in my head for both of these.

Oh, and be careful using hot glue on stuffed animals! I used Pooh as a model to glue the ice-cream topper together and it got stuck to his head. He'll have battle scars, but then again everytime I see them it'll just remind me of when I made my first costume!

So with the help of my mom's sewing maching for the donut part and lots of hot glue and straws for the sprinkles, both costumes were finished!

They took a few weeks to create only because as any parent I could only scrape a few minutes here and there to work on them, but they were worth every second when seeing how excited the boys were to wear them!

They're only little once so thought I'd go for the 'sweet' costumes this year, as when they get older I'm sure they'll want a store bought 'something or other' from TV or movies. And the wagon ride from house to house is always wonderful as we all live too far away for the little ones to walk that distance.

Now, hopefully the costumes will hold up until actual Halloween so we can go trick-or-treating at the Grandparents! Who-hoo, more candy... not really a good thing, just more temptation for me and extra dentist visits for them!

Halloween treats

I saw super cute Halloween Peeps at Target a few weeks ago and went online to get some ideas on how to use them. I found one that I had to make it for the trick-or-treaters coming over, super easy and super cute!

It took a couple hrs to complete them all, from melting the chocolate, decorating, waiting for the chocolate to set and then wrapping them up, but sooo worth it!

(Didn't want to set the creations chocolate side down overnight b/c I was sure the chocolate would rub off onto the bag and be a royal mess for the next day)

Can't wait to hand them out tonight (along with some fall magnet crafts from Oriental Trading) for the neighborhood hayride! I'm not worried about being 'that' house that always does homemade stuff and crafts each year, the kids are young enough to appreciate it. But in a few years I'll have to resolved to candy bars I'm sure :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween fun

A flower's appeal is in its contradictions - so delicate in form yet strong in fragrance, so small in size yet big in beauty, so short in life yet long on effect. ~Adabella Radici

Well, it's almost here, the holiday that fills kids (and adults) with candy and has a spooky undertone. In yrs to come the boys will learn of the scarry part of halloween but for now I'll stick to all the cutsie halloween ideas out there for kids!

We did make a few halloween cards for family and friends, they did a great job sitting long enough to paint hands and feet enough for 8 cards, maybe I can try my luck and make more next year to send to more people... it could happen :)

Beware of imposters this weekend too!

I found this great orange carving idea last year online and couldn't wait to give it a try myself!

Cut off top and scoop out insides, just like a pumpkin- though stickier!
The kids enjoyed using them as fruit bowls too!

Friday, September 17, 2010


"The best thing that can come out of a garden are gifts for other people."...Jamie Jobb

Well, here it comes, my favorite time of year, and I am excited for the things to come in this cooler weather! Mainly apple season! I am so thankful for Natures gift of fruit, but even more thankful when I can share the abundance with others, making pies and cakes for celebrations and church functions!

I also came across this great little tool I can't wait to put to good use! Makes perfect bite-size, or kid size, pies!

I have to say, the official start of the season started for me last week when I tried one of the new Tastefully Simple fall products I'm selling, Cinnamon Apple Syrup. The blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, apple and all spice is out of this world! All together it reminded me of something from the olden days of plopping those ingredients in an a cast iron skillet and letting them simmer all day, very rustic and gourmet at the same time! Move over Smuckers and even good old maple syrup, our household has a new favorite!

My hubby and I talked last month about looking into getting a fruit bearing tree, though I had to remind him of the memories I had of the ones my babysitter had in her backyard. Though she was able to make plenty of pies, applesauce and other yummy concoctions, it was inevitable that some, okay most of her, apples fell when too ripe and if you were away or too busy for more than a few days time, the tree would leave you with a sour smelling mushy pile of ripe apples that the bees couldn't get enough of, being real pain to clean up too!

So I had to mention the fruits that have skins, I remember my Grandparents orange trees in Florida and sure they had their messy moments too, but nothing like the thin skinned apples! And just last month I read on our local Homestead Gardens website that you can grow lemon trees in Maryland, now that would be up my alley for sure! And even easier, put them in containers, sooo have to try this next year! Homemade lemon meringue pies, here I come!!!

All that tree talking got me thinking of apple picking and I am looking forward to going each year to the farm my parents took my brother and I when we were growing up. It will have to be a new family tradition to go near my brothers birthday, what a special way to keep his memory alive for the boys each year!

So looking up their website to re-familiarize myself with their festivities, homemade apple cider and fritters- yummm, I came across some apple recipes I'll have to try out with the abundance we're sure to collect early next month. Can't wait to share the goodness of the garden with others!


4 (3/4 inch thick) center cut pork chops
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cups (1/2 inch thick) peeled, sliced cooking apples
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons maple-flavored syrup

Sprinkle pork chops lightly with salt; dredge in flour.
Heat oil in a heavy skillet; brown chops on both sides. Remove chops from skillet; drain off drippings, reserving 1 tablespoon in skillet. Return chops to skillet, and tip with apples, brown sugar, and syrup. Cover and simmer 35 to 40 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings



1 large cooking apple, peeled and quartered
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
2 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vegetable cooking spray
1 1/2 teaspoons reduced-calorie margarine
Apple slices (optional)
Lemon juice (optional)

Place apple quarters in a saucepan; cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 to 8 minutes or until apples are tender. Drain.

Position knife blade in food processor bowl; add apples. Top with cover, and process until smooth. Combine apples, sweet potatoes, egg yolks, and vanilla; stir well, and set aside. Beat egg whites (at room temperature) until peaks are stiff but not dry. Fold into sweet potato mixture. Pour mixture into a 1 quart casserole coated with cooking spray; dot with margarine. Bake at 350F for 40 to 45 minutes or until browned. Garnish with apple slices dipped in lemon juice, if desired.

Yield: 8 servings (about 121 calories per 1/2 cup serving)



1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups peeled, diced cooking apples
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Rum Butter Sauce
Whipped cream (optional)

Cream butter; gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed of an electric mixer. Add egg; beat until blended. Combine flour, salt, and cinnamon; mix well. Add to creamed mixture; beat on low speed of an electric mixer until smooth. Stir in water and vanilla. Fold in apples and pecans; spoon into a greased and floured 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm or cold with rum butter Sauce and whipped cream if desired.

Yield: one 9-inch pie.



1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon rum

Combine first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan; mix well. Bring to a boil, and cook 1 minute. Stir in rum.

Yield: about 1 1/4 cups.



3 medium apples, unpeeled and cut into thin wedges
2 cups sliced celery
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks drained
1 (8 ounce) package sharp Cheddar Cheese, cubed
3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup commercial sour cream
1/2 mayonnaise
Leaf Lettuce (optional)

Combine first 5 ingredients in a mixing bowl; set aside.

Combine sour cream and mayonnaise; mix well. Pour over apple mixture; toss gently to mix. Chill 1 to 2 hours; serve on lettuce-lined plates, if desired.

Yield: about 10 servings

Then there's the candles out that fill the home with the scents of autumn, I am ready, so Mother Nature bring it on!

Friday, September 10, 2010


Searching numerous blogs I came across this.
It is a MUST READ!

I haven't been to the 9-11 site to see the memorial, but this blogger has and is sharing what she experinced.

Truly moving!

Monday, August 30, 2010

New pre-school backpack

Well, today was the 1st day of Gavin's 3yr old pre-school class!
I was so excited to use the adorable pre-school Pottery Barn backpacks the boys received from Sue-Sue but his school asked that we bring standard size backpacks, as art projects and papers don't fit well in the pre-school sized one. I agree, I cannot fit a standard size paper or coloring book in there without folding over the corners and shoving it in, but I'm still pretty bummed he couldn't use it for school! But at least they now have great church and 'going to Grandmas' bags, thanks again Sue-Sue!

So over the weekend Mom-Mom T. had given him a freebie backpack that she got from her work and it was pretty plane-jane to me so of course I had to spruce it up a bit!

I took him to the fabric store to choose his own material to decorate his backpack with. I know without a doubt that he would have chosen cars/truck or construction things but of course we got there and there were only 3 bolts of fabrics geared towards boys and 2 shelves worth of fun prints for girls, always how it is, poor boys get the short end of deal when it comes to clothing and now even fabric!

I'm sure if I scoured fabric stores all over MD or even the Internet I'd find something interesting, but I didn't have that kind of time and wasn't going to ruin the experience of him picking out his own fun thing by dragging him from store to store, that's no fun no even if you're not 3 yrs old! But even the lady who cut the fabric for us said that's what she wants to do when she retires, design material for boys b/c there isn't enough cute stuff out there for them- AMEN to that!

Gavin did go with a puppy dog print he liked, he called them 'choc-choc dogs' because some of their spots look like chocolate chip cookies :) I have to agree, they are cute!

So 2 hrs of gluing and sewing by hand was well worth the end result of a pre-school worthy backpack. Just hope it lasts the whole school year! If not, no biggie, at least it only cost me $8 total for the material and super sharp 'glove' needles that worked like a charm.

I even got to spruce up the name tag inside :)

handmade projects

Donut hole cake

I've been gathering info for holiday gatherings and Gavin's next birthday party and stumbled upon this idea online somewhere and had to give it a whirl! Super easy and adds a touch of fun to a party for sure!

All you need is:

a syrafoam cone
wrapping paper (to keep the crumbly styrafoam off the donuts)
approx. 55 donut holes ( donuts are 1/2 price after 6pm at Dunkin Donuts too!)

Wrap the cone with wrapping paper

Then start applying the donuts with the toothpicks. It's super easy!

I tried to make different colored bands around the cone but didn't have equal numbers of flavors. That and the boys, okay... me too, love the chocolate ones so I always ask for the box of munchkins to be half full of chocolate ones and the rest mixed. So this tower was mostly chocolate at the top.

And another note, I recommend starting with the larger sizes on the bottom and using the smaller ones at the top- you always learn the first time trying anything.

We gave this one to Aunt Stephanie so when she stopped by on a DNR run to Jug Bay she could take it back to work with her and share it with her co-workers, if it actually got to work first!

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Go-to Fudge Frosting

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses. ~Hanna Rion

All this week I've been craving chocolate and nothings quenched the taste for me this week, not brownie ice cream, toffee chocolate cookies or just eating a plain old piece of chocolate. Well, after tonight the craving's subsided thanks to a super chocolaty recipe I use in just these situations.

I could have gone for straight fudge and that might have done the trick but I was also in a cake mood. So I opted for the quick result and stuck to a chocolate box cake mix, added chocolate chips to the batter and made cupcakes. Super simple but they needed the ultimate topping, fudge! I love butter cream and it has a special place in my taste repertoire when it comes to cake but there's nothing like melt in your mouth fudge! I even went the extra mile to slice the cupcakes in half and pour some in the middle as a layer. Like a small decadent cake for 1!

Fudge Frosting:

4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup boiling water
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar, cocoa and salt in large bowl. Stir in water slowly. Add butter and vanilla and beat until smooth, adding very small amounts of additional boiling water if frosting is too stiff.

Makes enough to cover one layer cake; square, round or loaf. It's great poured onto a bunt cake too!

The messier the better!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The joy of flowers and familes

Paperwhite Narcissus: my birth-flower

I love flowers, any and every kind. I'm often drawn to their color, shape, fragrance or even the meaning symbolizing each different one.

And of course there's the never-ending love of our family, each and everyone too. So incorporating flowers together with family makes for great memories.

Even if I have two boys, they can still like flowers too, right? Not like I'm putting them in their hair or anything, though they're so young still they might not notice a girly appearance and get offended :)

Stick 'em up: Paint a bunch of popsicle sticks green with your child, then glue a cupcake liner to the top of each stick to make easy flowers. For Grandparents Day I traced each boys hand, glue a cupcake liner in the middle, let them glue seeds inside the liner, and when that was dry glued it to a stick, and for a finishing touch added construction paper leaves.

Birth flowers: Forget birthstones, what about birth-flowers! allows you look up the flower of your birth-month. It might say alot about your child's personality too, but just like any astrology or horoscope, take away what you will from it. What a great idea to make a family portrait though, not of photos, but out of everyone's pressed birth-flowers! No bouquet could top that one in my book when each flower represented a family member!

Christmas in July...well, now August :)

I was so busy last month I didn't have much time to check out all the great blogs and sites I follow regularly. This month I'm trying to catch up!

In the midst of Christmas shopping and planning this summer, I am sooo syked to be done for the immediate family already, I came across some Christmas in July tips I thought I'd share with you from Tip Junkie. I get tons of 'make it your own' or 'free printable stuff' from her site! Enjoy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Week of goodies

It's gonna be a good week!

It started off a good weekend full of seeing family and friends and thanks to my dear neighbor I got a super cute new day tote to replace the diaper bag I've been lugging around. If you live near here Greenstreet Gardens carry them or Enchanted Art at Parole in Annapolis. The size is perfect, it will hold a few diapers, travel wipes, my wallet, cell phone, 2 sippy cups, a bottle of water for me, even a few thin books and matchbox cars to keep little hands occupied, and it's got a great key change hook inside so I'll now never have to worry about loosing or misplacing my keys when I'm out and about... or the boys taking them out and playing with them! Also love the fact that it's a durable canvas material, multicolored to hide future stains it will inevitably endure and being super cute doesn't hurt either!

I then started thinking that Gavin's last week of his summer program at Mt. Harmony is this week, then it'll be preparing for the 3 day a week 3yr program at Shepherd's Flock for the fall! In the meantime I'm going to try to squeeze in a trip to the Zoo (Washington b/c it's closer and free), we have discount tickets to Six Flags and possibly making it to Sesame Place; hopefully Mike will have one or 2 days in the month of August free from side work to join in on the fun too!

Then one of the blogs I follow has revamped their blog and is celebrating by having a week of giving aways ! I sooo hope I win the lemonade stand... still have yet to buy it so here's hoping it'll be free!

And with all of these things going thru my mind this week, the one thing that's got me even more excited, our new hummingbird feeder! I've always wanted one but was holding out to find the perfect blown glass feeder. But with the boys you never know what they're going to throw or try to get into so glass was out of the picture. I just had to settle on a plastic one in the meantime, but no ordinary one of course- it's in the shape of a red wine bottle, and truly can't wait for the hummingbirds to start coming! They're such beautiful little things and to be able to see them up close would be a treat in itself!

Looking forward to the fun the rest of the summer will bring!

Friday, July 16, 2010

A sparkle of life for a momentous cake

I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck. ~Emma Goldman

Kudos to my parents for sending me to a Wilton cake class when I was younger! When I received it as a gift I thought it would be pretty neat to be able to learn those beautiful techniques that I'd seen in my mother's old Wilton decorating books she had.

I do remember my first attempt at an elaborate cake, one for my cousin's wedding shower. It was the perfect shower cake, umbrella and all! You never forget the first time, no matter if it was a failed attempt or a true success, but I must say I did extremely well and was oh-so proud! But over the years I haven't been able to utilize too many of those techniques I learned, mainly b/c I haven't made too many cakes that require elaborate decorations.

But years later here I am with birthdays and holidays abound I'm sort of able to test out one or two new things at a time. And of course time is not on my side for the planning stage, the hours needed for tinting colors, decorating and then the massive clean-up afterwards. Needless to say I'm mastered the star tip for the kids molded cakes pans because of it's ease and simplicity. But it wasn't until here lately that I've been experimenting with different cakes themselves that I've wanted to spruce up the decorations.

Again, I'm working with little or no time, it's always the days I have a cake to decorate that the boys don't nap or go down late for bed! So an hour during naps for making the cakes one afternoon, the next day's hour for making the icings, and then alllll that night for the decorating! But alas, I'm not complaining, it's truly fun and such an outlet to get the creative juices flowing again!

The one I just completed this evening was for a family members 90th birthday. My Aunt asked me to make a cake and left no specifics, how great! I knew it had to feed alot of people and taste good so I first decided the flavors of the cake. I don't have a large sheet cake but I do have a large round, I knew I could do something like the cake I made for Carter's party and it would feed plenty of people.

I can't wait to try the bottom layer tomorrow! Homemade white cake with strawberries and butter cream, yum! It didn't help that the strawberries were leaking thru the icing this evening before the cake went into the fridge, such a tease of sweetness! Then there was the top. I had a spice cake I was eager to make so there it was, spice with a cream cheese icing. Then it was time to plan out the decorations.

(I was so excited to use the new strawberry cutting technique I learned too, it worked really well!)

As soon as I got to sit down and think about it I immediately thought of incorporating those long pencil-like wafer cookies on the cake, don't ask me why, it just popped into my head and I knew I had to use them somehow! I then had high hopes of sugar flowers and trying out a Cornelli lace piping on the sides of the bottom layer... then reality kicked in and I knew I wouldn't have the time!

But what was better than sugar flowers than the real thing!!! I love adding flowers to everything, it was my favorite thing to do in a creative teaching course I took at Towson Univ., I always tried to weasel in a dried flower or use symbolism for the meaning of flowers into each piece of artwork :) My favorites, hydrangeas, are in bloom this time of year- PERFECT! The blue ones were my first choice but they bloomed first this season so they've about had it by now and some are starting to wilt, but my pink bush is in full bloom and has new sprouts still growing.

Besides, the color pink has a universal meaning of love and a hydrangea symbolizes friendship, devotion, and understanding. But I most like the saying that the flower stands for a person possessing enduring grace and beauty- perfect for this occasion!

Fresh flowers enhance everything they touch and make it that more appealing! Tomorrow I'll add them for real and maybe a few springs to the side of the lettering. Which I had to improvise b/c I thought I still had some fondant left, but of course I didn't. So back to scratch I went to make a cookie instead. I couldn't see just writing on the cake itself, it needed a title not graffiti.

Still wish I had time to do the decorative piping on the sides of the bottom cake. It's nearly midnight, but I do still have some pink icing left... we'll have to see if there's energy leftover after this post...

(12:45am)... sleep's over rated :) I had to add it, there was too much icing left over to just toss it and thankfully this technique doesn't demand precision!