Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My First Cake Show

I've only been decorating cakes for about six months... but I wouldn't be me if my chronic overachieving tendencies didn't lead me to enter the National Cake Show. The cake I made was this gigantor...

My almost finished cake (I ended up adding a lip around the top of the record player and painting a fondant covered square with food coloring to look like the Casablanca vinyl sleeve)

The theme for this year's wedding cake contest was "Sing Me a Love Song" - you had to make a wedding cake (at least three tiers) inspired by a love song of your choice. I chose the song from Casablanca "As Time Goes By" and depicted the way love songs (and all music) have changed over the years. My concept was really about timelessness - things that are part of society and life even though time might change them in certain ways. 

I definitely didn't win anything (some of the other cakes there were just insane), but I received great feedback from the judges. I half-expected them to point out every mistake I made on the cake, but they were actually pretty awesome. They really liked my cake (and concept), told me the things I did especially well (they loved the cutout speakers on the bottom and the figures on top) and a few places where I could improve (adding different techniques mostly). 

It was super amazing seeing other people's reaction to my cake. There was almost always a group of people looking at my cake and commenting on it. I loved eavesdropping on them and listening to everything they said. :) Surprisingly, it made that whole week of staying up until 2-5 in the morning worth it. 

The other benefit of the show was getting to see all the amazing techniques other cake artists used. Since I've never taken any formal decorating classes, almost all of it was new to me (and much of it I had never even heard of before!) There was even this insane technique using royal icing where you drape it in one direction, let it dry, flip the cake over and do it in the other direction. So insane. 

Participating in the show was outstanding. I'm super excited to do it again next year and work towards a divisional award. :)

A few of the crazier cakes. The one on the left won first place in the non-professional division. Thankfully, not all of the other cakes were this insane (otherwise I would have been pretty embarrassed by my showing! Lol)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Graham Cracker Snow Day

We've had a lot of snow days recently. And when you have snow days, you need to fill the time with two (super) little ones not old enough to play in the snow for more than a short amount of time.

Most recently, we spent the morning making graham crackers. Lauren scoffed at the idea, telling me that sometimes homemade things are more trouble than they're worth (and often don't live up to packaged equivalents). But when he came downstairs while they were in the oven, he kept raving about how good they smelled. And when they were done, he joined Brayden's impatience in waiting for them to cool. ;)

The snow day was a success, not just because we made delicious (non-processed) yummies, but also because the kids had a blast helping out. ♥

(Link to the recipe follows the pictures)

Maybe just a taste...

Picking out the cookie cutters

... and rolling out the dough

Elissa did not want to stop punching out cookie shapes ;)

Ducks in a row ;)

Brayden's special airplane graham cracker (minus the cockpit)

The recipe I worked off of was from Weelicious. I changed a few things and would recommend decreasing the cook time by a couple of minutes (they'll still be nice and crunchy, don't worry!)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Toddler Moments

Brayden is at that age where one minute he is making your heart melt and the next he's making you want to pull your hair out. Thankfully, the former come way more often than the latter and stick with us a lot longer. Some recent gems that have made us laugh, smile and just say "awww..."

♥ Walking around with a ruler and holding it up to everything. He gets up to me, puts it against my leg and says, "Yep. You're seven months old Mommy."

♥ Hilariously professing, "I have a wiener. And Daddy has a wiener. But you and Sa-Sa Bean have baginas."

♥ Beating me to the punchline when I was trying to get the two little ones upstairs. He looks at me and says "Come on you crazy children. Let's go," then runs up the stairs giggling.

♥ Correcting me while making graham crackers together on yesterday's snow day. We were cutting ducks out of the dough and Brayden asked me where to put them. I pointed to the line of ducks on the cookie sheet and said "they do say to have your ducks in a row" and Brayden quickly responded with, "No, Mama. They say quack."

♥ Randomly asking Daddy while driving, "Daddy, do you have a song in your heart?"

♥ Deciding that in front of the pre-teen neighbor kids was a good time for a realization. He ran up the stairs shouting "I love boobies!" (Looking at you, dear hubby)

♥ After climbing on me and accidentally making me fall into a table, Brayden saw I was hurt. He comes over and says, "It's okay Mama," and starts stroking my hair and singing to me (the ABC song). After he finished the song, he looks at me and asks "Do you want a different song?" A girl can't say no to that, so he proceeded to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to me before ending with a kiss and saying "Are you happy again, Mama?" How could I not be?

This is what Brayden considers a "handstand" ♥

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sweetness Overload

Elissa at one...

... doesn't just walk everywhere -- she runs, climbs and dances her way around the world

... is very independent and curious (and thus, uses the skills above to their full extent)

... when she gets upset, she flaps her arms up and down like a bird trying to take flight

... when she gets excited, she kicks her feet in and out like she's trying to do air squats as fast as she can

... spends approximately 93 percent of her time smiling or laughing

... is learning her colors

... points to things she wants (or wants you to see)

... is daddy's groupie when he's playing guitar

... loves books

... will dive into your lap, lay on her back and look up at you with a smile when she wants to be tickled (and will do it repeatedly until someone grows weary of the game)

... flirts with strangers -- and does a really good job

... finally broke the 20 pound mark last week -- by just one ounce

... follows directions quite well (we've been told she has super-advanced receptive language skills!)

... gives you this innocent and hilarious 'oh-am-i-doing-something-wrong' smile when you catch her in the act

... is a meat and vegetables kind of girl

... is way too charming for her parents' good