Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pink Petals Birthday Cake

This is a carrot cake that a friend ordered for her own birthday. It's a triple-layer carrot cake filled and frosted with cream cheese frosting. I was free to decorate it as I wished, so I took the opportunity to try something new. I found this Lilly Pulitzer-style cake created by Laurie Lucov Wedding Cakes . I liked the pink and green combination and the whimsical design. I thought I could interpret it in a single layer cake.

But...the fates had a different idea. The chocolate transfers turned out horrible and my latticework looked even worse...I had to scrape off the latticework and re-smooth the cream cheese frosting...hence the marbled sides. I made a batch of royal icing and made the flowers, let them dry until they could be handled and arranged them on the cake. Once the cake was finished I thought something was missing, so I brushed it with shimmer dust.

Most importantly - Tallie loved it! Happy Birthday, Tallie!

The World Around Me

I carry my camera with me everywhere. I enjoy taking pictures of my children and my confections. But I also find beauty and interest in the ordinary and the mundane. I don't know if I can define my style of photography, other than "random".

Click to play the slideshow below or visit my photostream on to see all of my photography.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Recently I discovered Picnik, a free web-based application that lets you do cool things with pictures, without using PhotoShop. I found a Flickr group calle Picnikers and joined.

Each week a "homework assignment" is posted. You have to take a picture of a subject relevant to the assignment, enhance it using Picnik and then post it in a comment under the homework thread.

These pictures were taken for the assignment titled "Shopping". I decided I could kill two birds with one stone by heading to WalMart early Saturday morning to take a few pictures and get my grocery shopping done.

The shelves of merchandise suddenly looked quite different when viewed from a subject matter point of view. I photographed bath towels in a rainbow of colors, an Herbal Essence end cap, and Sterilite tubs all in a row. A long-time employee insisted on tidying the shelves of towels before I took pictures.

So often WalMart is considered a dirty topic. But these pictures prove that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.

Photo Essence

got the shopping blues...

Cotton Candy

Buckets of Color

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Happy birthday, Hubby!

Bright Circles Birthday CakeToday is my husband's birthday so I made a cake just for him. It's an 8-inch, three layer, french vanilla cake. One layer of banana filling and one layer of red raspberry. He requested Duncan Hines Classic Chocolate frosting, so I obliged. One must choose their battles!

I hadn't worked with fondant before today, so I decided I would try it out. Since he is a barbecue fanatic, I mean "enthusiast", I was going to cut out flames. But I decided to keep it simple, so I figured I could try out my new set of circle cutters. I chose a white stoneware cake pedestal so I figured there needed to be some white on the cake to tie it all together.

Working with the fondant wasn't so difficult once I realized that I needed a little Crisco to keep the fondant pliable and prevent it from sticking to everything. I could have cleaned up the edges of the cutouts a bit better, but in the end I thought it turned out OK.

When I showed it to him, he laughed and asked if I had made it to coordinate with our comforter. And that's when I realized that the two were quite similar! And then he said that it wasn't really a birthday cake, it was a project cake. I told him it was indeed a birthday cake, but I had taken some creative license.

Most importantly, he said the cake was absolutely delicious and I could bake another one whenever I wanted to.

Hmmm...gotta start thinking about what design to try next!

Oh, and here's what our comforter looks like, if you were wondering. We got it from

Friday, August 15, 2008

My new KitchenAid Pro600 6 Quart Bowl-lift Stand Mixer...argh argh argh argh

This baby rocks!
Cake baking and cookie making have been elevated to a new level! This mixer can handle anything you throw at it.

And, I have to give kudos to KitchenAid for their customer service. Shortly after I received the mixer they shipped to me in June, I noticed a knocking noise in the motor. I was going to just ignore until I heard from others that it could be a gear problem. So I called KitchenAid and they shipped me a brand new one! They had me pack the old one in the new box and FedEx is going to contact me to pick it up. WOW! Now that's service!

So I used this one to make some Toll House cookie batter, which is very thick and has been responsible for burning up hand held mixers in the past. Not only did the paddle glide through the batter, the motor seemed to run quieter than the previous mixer.

My new mixer energizes me so much that I named her Black Molly, which is slang for amphetamine or speed! (No, I've never taken speed.)

Now all I want to do is bake cakes and cookies, 24/7!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Testing the Boundaries of Friendship, or Teaching a Friend How to Decorate Cookies

Practice Cookies
Want to learn more about someone? Try to teach them something.

My girlfriend Sandi was telling me about a baby shower she was going to host. The color scheme was going to be pink, brown, and white. Fun!

She tells me all about her ideas for decorating the venue. And, since I'm always looking for an excuse to try new cookie designs, I thought this was a great opportunity, so I offered to bake some cookies. We were discussing this on a Wednesday, or so, and the shower was the coming Sunday so I told her I couldn't make any promises, but I would try to get them made by Saturday evening.

But Sandi had a better idea. "How about if I come over and help you?"

Uhm..."OK. Yeah. That could be fun. Maybe you could help me."

Now I'm an easy-going, patient person, but there are some things that I am particular about. The words "bossy" and "control freak" have been used lightheartedly by friends and coworkers. And I'll admit that I have my quirks. But, I know that whenever Sandi and I get together, we always have fun. The cookies were just for practice and no one was actually paying me for them, so I figured, what the heck? Let's do it. We agreed to get together Saturday since her son and my daughters had been invited to sleepovers, so we would be kid-free for the evening.

Sandy arrived at my house at 5:30 Saturday afternoon, with enthusiasm and excitement, ready to take on the world of cookie decorating.

Long story short. I am a very patient person. Sandi is not.

I have rules when it comes to some things. Sandi does not.

But we pressed on. We agreed that I would outline and Sandi would flood. And she did pretty well for it being her first time. Once the flood icing had crusted, we began to apply the detail outlines to the cookies, which brought them to life.

By the end of the evening, make that 3:00 Sunday morning, Sandi made it very clear that I was a much more patient person than she was. I, in turn, made it clear to Sandi that if the day ever came that I was baking and decorating cookies for a living, we probably wouldn't be working side by side. We had a good laugh.

In the end, the cookies were very cute. Well, most of them were. If you didn't look at them up close.

I asked Sandi how the shower went and she said that everyone loved the cookies but when she said that she and a friend had made them, everyone looked at her suspiciously...

On a serious note, we did have fun. Sandi learned something new and I got to spend an evening with a dear friend. Something that doesn't happen often because while we are not only friends, but coworkers, we don't spend much time together at work or otherwise.

I think the next time we get together it will be to sit on the patio and drink adult beverages while my husband does the cooking!

Cookie Notes: I own cutters for the onesies, baby buggy, and baby bottle. The shoes were inspired by Susan Caliendo's shoe cookies found on her website, Rolling Pin Productions. They were handcut from a template drawn on cardstock. The striped onesie is also inspired by one of Susan's designs.

My sugar cookies were baked using the cookie dough recipe found on page 120 of The Flour Pot Cookie Book by Margie and Abbey Greenberg. Not only does it perform well, but it tastes great, too, which is very important to me.

I use royal icing to decorate my cookies and the recipe I prefer is known on Cake Central as Antonia74 Royal Icing. You can visit her website, Marmalade Cake Company.