Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

December was such a busy month overall, with Christmas, but when you add a few cake orders to the mix, it is even busier! I loved every minute of it! How was your Christmas? Was Santa good to you and yours? Were you able to spend time with loved ones? I was so lucky to be around my three favourite people!

My husband walked away a very happy man... he received a Bluetooth speaker, and something called a Chillsner, among other things, but I can't take credit for the idea, my sister-in-law suggested it at Thanksgiving. Still a brilliant idea. But the best gift I gave him was A Year of Dates. As you know, I am always perusing Pinterest, and I love the "25 Low-Cost Date Ideas" pins (or similar). So about a month and a half ago, I clicked on a pin which brought me here. I fell in love with her idea of a Year of Dates, and while browsing her amazing site, I came across, what I feel is a total gold mine, Friday We're in Love. WOW! I was so excited and even though I didn't want to share this amazing find, I did talk to a few friends about it. I got to work right away, and made my list of dates for the year. Making the envelopes was a little time-consuming, but so fun. It felt like I had this secret, and it was so inspiring, browsing Camille and Jacob's blog. I had to write to her and tell her how much I was enjoying it, especially as a someone married for 17 years! I told her I would share her amazing ideas, but not right away (partially because my husband reads all my blog entries and I didn't want to ruin the surprise!) And for the record, he was very happy with the gift.. I even let him open January's envelope and we're lookng forward to going to dinner and the movies next month! I am super excited about June's date... it's something we have never done before! Thank you, again, Camille!

Next up is New Year's Eve! I am always excited about New Year's Eve/Day. For me, it feels like a fresh slate, a new start. It helps that it's officially vacation-planning month (although I already have my vacation requests turned in... lol!). I like that I get to reflect on the past year, and make plans for the upcoming year, even though I kinda started that before Christmas! We are going to a party and I'm bringing cake! I am taking Friday off as a personal day, so I get to enjoy two four-day weekends!

Okay, so let's talk cake! As I mentioned, December was pretty busy for me, on top of preparing for Christmas, but it was well worth it! I started the month preparing for Elmo!

This vanilla, two-layer cake with vanilla buttercream was a delight to make, because I was able to play with M&Ms! I've made a cake similar to this before, so making Elmo's face was easier the second time around.

I hemmed and hawed about this cake for two weeks before making it... I was asked to make a Superman cake, and I really wanted to make a fondant figurine of Superman, but with a second cake due the same weekend, I knew I was crunched for time. I saw cakes on Pinterest with the cape, and wasn't convinced this was the way to go until my husband suggested it. And that logo? Yep, my husband made that! He did an amazing job, didn't he? I couldn't have made it that well! Another two layer vanilla cake, but with almond buttercream. And the little superhero recipient was thrilled! He LOVED the cape!

I made this adorable Santa cake for my husband's family's Christmas dinner. I tried a new recipe for frosting, which included sour cream. I can't say I was overall impressed with the taste, I really do think it was overly sweet. But hey, we have to try new things sometimes, right? This was a two-layer chocolate cake with sour cream vanilla icing. The face just blows me away, it's too cute!

So the story with these cupcakes is this: My husband always tells me how awesome I am and sometimes, I just have to prove him right... lol!!! His work was having a Christmas potluck and over dinner the night before (nothing like the last minute!!), he told me that he wasn't participating. I asked why, and he said because he didn't have anything to bring. I couldn't help but be slightly irritated at the look he gave me when he said it because it's not MY potluck, why am I expected to make something for him, right? But, he didn't know that that cupcakes I baked before that conversation were in part for him to bring to the potluck, I had already planned it this way. Next year, honey, you are on your own.. love ya!
So I piped buttercream on them and put some Christmassy (is that a word?) sprinkles on top and stuck them in the freezer. He just assumed they were for our youngest son to take to school for his Christmas party. In reality, the other half of the cupcakes for Caleb's class weren't even decorated yet.
So I messaged him from work the next morning and told him that the iced cupcakes in the freezer were for his potluck. He was blown away, and extremely thankful. :D
Not wanting my son to bring in exactly the same cupcakes, I changed up the colouring and decorations on the cupcakes. This colour scheme, light blue and purple, always remind me of winter, and with the popularity of Frozen, it kinda jives with the movie. One of Caleb's classmates told him she didn't want one, until he mentioned they were "Frozen cupcakes", and she immediately scooped one up, lol!
So that was the month of December for cakes in my little corner of the world. I meant to update the blog, several times, over the month but there just wasn't any time. One of my resolutions is to post more frequently this year... I need to make the time because I love to share my creations!
January already has a couple of orders on the horizon, and I am super excited!
And with that, I am signing off for the year... I'll be back next weekend to share my creation for the New Year's party with you all.. it'll be a surprise even for me, since I have no clue what to make yet!
Wishing you and your family all the very best for 2015, stay safe and as always, stay sweet!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Shoe How-To

How was your weekend? Ours was great! We had family from Ottawa come and visit for the weekend, and we had a great time! Our oldest son, Tyler, was doing his thing for the Remembrance Day parade downtown this morning. As proud as I am of him, I am always more so when I see him in uniform!

Unfortunately, the weekend is ending too quickly... we're winding down and getting ready to take on the upcoming week, packing lunches and getting school papers together. I have butternut squash in the crockpot for soup to enjoy at dinner. :)

So, let's discuss the latest cake, shall we? This process started a week ago, kind of, but I've been wanting to do this cake for a long time. It was supposed to be a birthday cake in February for one of our Ottawa guests, but plans fell through and we weren't able to get together. But the plan was always in the back of my mind!

So, my first step was getting the pieces cut out. I went here for the pattern. There were basically two sections to the shoe... the heel, and then everything else. Here are some pictures of the process:

The first step, after cutting the fondant pieces of the shoe, was making some kind of support to let the pieces dry in the shape they needed to be in. I bought a piece of foam and my husband cut it into the slope I needed, with the top being flatter so that the heel of the sole would dry flat and stay flush with the actual heel. I placed paper towel over it, to keep foam pieces from sticking on the fondant/gum paste piece. You could also use cling wrap, but I was afraid the bottom wouldn't dry properly.

Next, was taking a ball of fondant/gum paste, about the same size as if you were making a large meatball, and working a log out of one end. This "stem" should be as long as you want the heel to be high... or, the same height as your sole support. It can be tricky to get this right (I still had to shave some of the heel off later to make it fit properly - trial and error). You may need to keep checking it against the height of the sole support and placing the heel part of the sole on the heel portion to test the waters.

When this was done, I pushed a clean lollipop stick right through so it was sticking out of both ends. I inverted it so that the heavy end was on the bottom, and I pushed the stick portion into another piece of foam (covered in paper towel). I left both parts to dry for two days. Then I worked on the cake, which would become the shoe box. I baked a chocolate quarter slab cake, cooled it, and split it horizontally in half, and put a sheet of waxed paper in between the two halves, to keep them separate. Then I froze it.

When I was satisfied that the sole was dried and firm enough, I decided to try attaching the very back onto the shoe. I mixed up some sugar glue (icing sugar and water), and attached the back. I love sugar glue because then I don't have to worry about the pieces falling apart so easily later, and, it doesn't take long to dry. The piece I was attaching was NOT dried... it was still pliable because I stored it in a ziplock bag until I was ready to use it.

When it didn't seem like the pliable piece was going to crash and burn (lol), I felt confident enough to attach the very front.

Doing this for the first time was a little daunting, I couldn't figure out which way was the right way, but it finally made sense to me, and I folded a paper towel to fit in between the sole and the piece I was attaching, for support.

I let the pieces dry another day, and then I mixed up some brown coloured icing gel, and painted spots all over the shoe. I then used black to accent the brown spots and make it look like leopard print. I will not be doing this again withough using vodka in with the gel, because it wouldn't dry, but, on a positive note, the spots stayed shiny, even if they stayed wet.

Then I made a little brown ribbon bow. I REALLY wanted to place it on the back, but because I knew I was using ribbon on the back to make straps, I thought it would be too busy, so I put it on the front.

The cake itself, while it should have been the easiest part, It wasn't because when I took the cake out of the freezer to size it for the shoe (being the box, it needed to be the right dimensions to hold the shoe), I realized, one quarter slab wasn't gonna cut it. I was soooo unimpressed. Dinner, where I would be presenting the cake, was 2 1/2 hours away, and I still needed to cover the cake and put the shoe together, none of which I could actually DO, because I needed another quarter slab!

So, I baked the cake, let it cool on the counter for ten minutes before putting it in the freezer for 15 minutes. It cooled substantially, and very quickly, considering, but this really set me back with my time frame.

For me, there is nothing worse than icing a fresh cake. The crumbs are insane. I know it desn't matter when you bite into the cake, but heaven forbid you have to trim any sides (and I had to trim about an inch from each side), ugh, it was awful to try to make the buttercream stick. But I won! I got it covered, crumbs and all, and made an impressed four layers out of it, and it was the right size for the shoe! I tried to make the sizes as square as possible, but this would have been easier to do if both cakes had been frozen... lesson learned for next time!

I used the instructions found here for the box itself. I didn't like the shoe here, it seemed like a cheater's way of doing it... but I loved the instructions for the shoe box, and it was actually fairly easy, just make sure you measure the fondant for the lid, and make sure the fondant is thick. Mine (the light brown fondant) was pretty thin, and it stretched when I rolled it on, so I needed to trim it again, carefully, once it was on the cake.

The corners... I have to say.. AWESOME! I loved using the scissors to get that clean cut corner! This process needs to be done twice, once for the box itself, and again for the lid.

I had my husband help me put the heel into the cake, after snipping off the lollipop stick protruding from the top of the heel part. I used sugar glue to attach the two pieces, and more sugar glue to attach the front part of the sole to the shoe box (cake).

There was so much more I wanted to do, but I ran out of time. If it hadn't been for needing another cake, pronto, I wanted to decorate the box with some fondant cut outs from my Cricut Cake machine, and I wanted to paint the heel to match the rest of the shoe. I couldn't only do this part once the shoe was all attached and on top of the cake, because the gel would have smudged and made a huge mess. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

That's it, that's all, friends! Hope you enjoyed reading about this experience. I learned sooo much with this one!

Stay sweet!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween Memories

How was Halloween for you? Did you see a lot of Frozen characters? We got two Elsas and two Olafs... but it was pretty quiet overall in our little survey. I think the best costume I saw was a little boy, about two, MAYBE three. He had a Superman costume with a white dress shirt and black dress pants over top, with the shirt unbuttoned so you could see the Superman logo. He was Clark Kent! It was awesome!

So I promised pictures, because my last post didn't have any... in truth, I was still working on a cake, and didn't have time to finish it before the trick-or-treaters came to visit us!

I was really busy last week in the kitchen, baking up all kinds of cupcakes. My youngest son was going to bring in two dozen cupcakes for his class party, and my husband and I were each going to bring in a dozen to work. Plus I had to finish my amazing costume for work.

Here are the cupcakes:

Here's a close-up of the cupcakes:

I did vanilla with vanilla buttercream for Caleb's class, and chocolate with caramel buttercream for work. They were all well-received!

This was my costume! I went as a birthday cupcake! It was SO cool... and a lot of my coworkers thought it was cute :)

And lastly, the Halloween masterpiece.

This one was another fun cake to do! It's a 9x13 cake, cut into three sections and stacked and iced in vanilla buttercream. I used more buttercream to build up the face in certain areas, and dug cavities for the eye and nose sockets. Then I draped white fondant over top, and continued to work the shape of the skull by hand. I refrigerated it overnight, to keep it firm.

The next morning, I rolled out some neon orange fondant, and made roses, a couple of large ones, and a few smaller ones. I added some black fondant leaves to add to the Halloween theme of the cake.

I used black icing gel to paint the eye and nose sockets and used a fondant tool to score the teeth into the fondant.

There aren't many tutorials out there to show how to do a 3D skull cake, so please, if you have questions, let me know! This was not my first try with it, it can be tricky (no pun intended!) to manipulate the shape right... but it was well worth the effort, I think!

Stay sweet!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween 2014!

I'm sitting here, sipping some well-deserved wine after a very busy night... Pinterest just might do me in one day!

I had a co-worker save her empty milk jugs for me (she shops for groceries in the US), because I saw an idea on Pinterest where you draw a face on them, fill them with water, and then put a glow stick inside of them. Now, you and I know, not all Pinterest ideas work (I learned this after reading about one woman trying the "sugar spray" hair straightener and how much of a hassle she had trying to comb all the knots out of her hair, which is good and bad for me... bad because I wanted to believe something so cheap and easy could straighten my curly hair, and good because what she went through would totally be MY luck... thank goodness she saved me the hassle lol!). So anyway, back to my jugs.. lol! As I was breaking the glow stick, I half-wondered if it would work. But, lo and behold, we turned out the lights and it glowed like crazy! My husband was soooo impressed. We had six of them, and he designed them all.. but became stumped when he got to the last one. He told me he was trying to come up with an idea, and the movie, Saw, came to my mind... I think it was one of the best ones! You can see it on my new Instagram feed on this page.

So, as he was doing that, I was whipping up buttercream and icing cupcakes. Four dozen of them. Two dozen were for our youngest son's Halloween party at school... and a dozen each were for my husband and I to bring into work. I used my Cricut Cake machine to cut out leaves for toppers... I was a little disappointed that there was no preset on it for Halloween but I made do :)

Anyway, after all that was done, I wanted to put my costume together for work, thinking it wouldn't take too long... yeah, no. Two heads are definitely better than one though, because I'm not sure I could have done it without my husband. When it was all said and done, it turned out AWESOME! He was laughing so hard, because of how well it turned out! (I'm telling myself that's what it was, and I'm sticking to it!) It was pretty cheap to make, with a trip to the dollar store!

And all of this was while our oldest son was helping out at his high school Halloween dance. Have I mentioned we're a busy family?

Because wine. Am I right?

I did try another project, but I'm not sure how it will turn out.. it's on the small side, because it's more of a trial than anything else... once I master it, I'm sure I can do a much better job. If it doesn't turn out, you won't even see it, but if it's halfway decent, I just might let you see it lol!

And in one week, a cousin of ours is heading out from Ottawa (the same one we visited in July), and I'm making her a LONG-belated birthday cake. Her birthday is in March, and she was going to come out for a visit then, but it didn't pan out, and I was a tad disappointed because I knew what I wanted to make for her. But I tucked the idea away and decided the opportunity would present itself. And now it has. This cake is going to be a lot of work, and I know I can rock it! Stay tuned... I think a lot of my friends will be impressed... heck.. *I* will be impressed!

Have a safe and happy Halloween.. and I will post pictures soon!

Stay scary!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I find it very interesting...

but, I've noticed a big difference in the popularity of "girl cakes" to "boy cakes".

Boys need cake too... it's not just a girl thing, right? My boys need cake, for sure! They make sure to let me know this at every available opportunity, and if it's not being made for them, oooh the drama!

Being a mom of two boys, it's both surprising and not so surprising.

Not so surprising because I started noticing a trend about 14 years ago when shopping for clothes for my oldest son when he was six months old. The girls' department had three, jam-packed aisles of pretty dresses, frills and lace, tops, skirts, jeans and pants... the selection was just astounding! Me, I head over to the boys' "department" and I'm greeted with one SIDE of an aisle, with some pants and shirts, and if I was lucky, they came in different colours! I guess, like clothes, people love seeing the pink and frilly on cakes!

I just think it's amusing to see the difference in how popular certain cakes are on my FB page. People will always surprise you.

A recent cake that was very well received was a princess-themed giant cupcake cake, with standard cupcakes. This cake was fun to do because I finally cracked open my Cricut Cake machine. I bought this machine awhile ago but I think I was somewhat scared to use it. Yes, I loved the possibilities! But, my patience only goes so far, so when I heard that sometimes the machine jams when cutting the fondant, I was hesitant, because I have enough issues at times! LOL!!

I'm, by no means, a pro at it now, but it was fairly easy to use, and it really saved me some time. I love fondant cut-out toppers for cupcakes! And I wanted to be sure that there was one for every cupcake, so this was perfect, and did all the work for me. I also cut out two different "crowns" using patterns on the machine. I wanted to do two, so that in the event of one breaking, I'd have a backup. But as usual, when you have a back-up, everything turns out fine, so I'm really glad I did it!

I used two colours of icing in the piping bag for the cupcakes and I was quite happy with the effect! Some silver dragees were attached with sugar glue on all of the crowns. The little girl (my niece) thoroughly enjoyed getting her hands dirty with the giant cupcake cake!

What kinds of cakes interest you, and make you drool? Is it more about decorating, or the flavour that does you in?

Stay tuned for some scary treats coming up later this week in time for Halloween! I'll be making some cupcakes for my youngest son to take to school, and a special family treat that I wasn't going to make, but the challenge is just too great!

In the meantime, stay sweet!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, there is no denying that fall has arrived, is there? :(  The good thing about it is that I am baking more and making the house smell amazing! It IS the season for putting on a few extra pounds LOL!

Going to keep it short and sweet today... we had our turkey dinner yesterday and I have soup to make today! I am very excited about turkey soup!

We were blessed to get to spend lots of time with people on both sides of the family this weekend... I was able to reconnect with a lot of my cousins on Friday evening, and we spent Saturday with my husband's relatives. Yesterday we just puttered at home while our turkey was in the oven... keeping it low-key. I like winding down like this before the work week starts!

So let's talk cake, shall we?

I've posted a few things on the good old Facebook page, but my pride and joy is definitely the bustier cake I made for my husband's birthday. I made it red velvet with cream cheese filling, with vanilla buttercream, and had to work fast because I only have an hour after I get home from work before HE gets home from work... and I wanted it to be a surprise. He was definitely surprised!

The cake was hand-cut to shape, and the tatas were made with the extra cake I cut off from the sides, mixed with some buttercream and molded into shape. I used various cutters for the fondant trim, and the patterns were used by pressing a cutter into the fondant like an embosser, and piping black buttercream on top. I added dots and a few dragees, , and made the black rose kind of by accident. I was rolling up the trim to make it easier to roll it onto the cake, and realized it looked like a rose, so I went with it.

This cake seemed to be quite popular on my page, but I had to keep it clean... there are children who see my cakes!

Then I made some cupcakes for a friend of mine who was celebrating a birthday.. I wanted them to be feminine so I made them a pretty pink and added some black piping. They're simply chocolate, no filling. She doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, so I kept it simple.

And finally, these delicious cupcakes were chocolate, topped with salted caramel buttercream. You may remember, I tried caramel buttercream a little while ago, but I wasn't really happy with the consistency. It needed to be constantly chilled in order to keep it's shape. It was delicious, yes, but not dependable. So I found another recipe for it, and it was a complete success! I added some coarse salt on top of them, but it's hard to see. Unfortunately, the caramels used in it were made in a facility that handles nut products, so it's not a nut-free recipe.

And that is all she wrote, my friends! Please enjoy your Thanksgiving and your families (and friends). Eat lots, drink more and as always, stay sweet!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

For the Love of All Things Pumpkin!

How was YOUR summer?

Ours was fantastic! Wow, we were in so many places this summer, and just enjoyed being together as a family... it was great! My only regret is that we didn't make it to the drive-in, and that's a summer tradition.. but I'd say my kids definitely enjoyed all that summer offered them. They had a camp-out sleepover with a friend, complete with a fire and smores. Then Caleb had soccer camp at the community center for a week while Tyler was in Kingston for cadet training. Caleb had fun, but we were all miserable without Tyler... we missed him so much. It was great to meet him up there... I have to say, Kingston is an awesome city, with tons of history and what a view on the shoreline!

We went on from Kingston to Ottawa to visit with family and spent time on a one-of-a-kind, amazing houseboat, and went through the Rideau Canal, camped overnight and spent some unforgettable time with family. We really didn't want to come home after that, but duty calls, right?

Tyler spent his Wednesday evenings on the water in Hamilton Harbour, sailing with his fellow cadets, loving every second of it. Then came August, and we were pumped to meet family in our most favourite place in the world, Algonquin Park. My parents made the long drive from the top of Lake Superior and it was awesome to catch up with them. We drove a couple of hours one day to see my uncle and my grandmother, and that was so nice, I haven't seen them in years. It really hurt to say goodbye to my parents on the last day. No matter how hard I tried to be strong, the tears came anyway. :(

The last week of August was spent getting all of our camping gear cleaned and organized for next year, and teaching Tyler more about the public transit system. We feel it's important for him to be able to get around on his own, just like we did when we were his age, and not depend on people for rides. I showed him how to use the online maps and find his routes, and how to use the schedule to plan for his arrival time. We spent one of the last days on vacation down at the Harbour, picnicking and walking around, really milking the last little bit of summer :)

Then it was all wrapped up with a family BBQ, we had my cousins come out and spend the night and we had so much food and so much fun. An unforgettable summer!

My friends and family know I hate fall... really.. I'm a summer girl and love the heat, and fall is just a reminder that a bitter cold winter is coming, and I DREAD winter. Ugh.

BUT! I love fall BAKING! The cooler temps make it easier for me to turn on the oven and bake some delicious treats! My husband walked in the door nearly every night last week, drooling immediately after taking a whiff! I made pumpkin pie (not my favourite fall dessert, but there's more to this story in a minute), pumpkin cookies, pumpkin spice coffee syrup for PSLs, vanilla coffee syrup, in and around all the dinners I wanted to try out from Pinterest! Ever see the picture of the Pizzadillas (like quesadillas but with pizza stuff instead!)? Yep.. made those! YUM! I think they were the highlight of our week. Oh, and the Meatball Sub soup was to die for. One serving and we were so full!

But, let's talk cake for a minute... since this IS a cake blog!

These cupcakes were vanilla with a nautical theme (came across some really cool ideas for Tyler's next birthday cake!)...

The toppers were simple, to keep the cost down for the client, but definitely made an impression :)

Next on the docket is a recipe I saw in Walmart's Live Better magazine, the Pumpkin Pie Cake. I am cheap.. I admit it and I am not ashamed. The recipe calls for a ready-made pumpkin pie, and I don't buy ready-made pies, at least, not since I've learned how to make them properly, and even then, never pumpkin. So baking the pumpkin pie took up one evening, because it had to cool, and the rest of the recipe had a lot more steps.

So, evening number two, I mixed up the chocolate cake batter, got my ten-inch cake pan ready, and smeared some batter on the bottom. Now, I made my pie with a graham cracker crust because I figured it would stand up better with all the handling required, and I didn't think a flaky pastry crust would do the job. I placed the pie on the layer of batter and spread the rest of the batter on top and all around the sides. I baked it for the required 1 1/2 hours, and it needed two hours to cool. My husband was impatient to try it, but not as impatient as I was trying to do the chocolate ganache.

I didn't wait long enough for the chocolate to melt, and I didn't wait for the mixture to cool and thicken a bit, so it was too runny, and made a HUGE mess, running off the cake plate. Thank goodness I had the forethought to put some waxed paper under it.

All of the effort was well-worth the wait, because this cake-pie was delish! My husband claims it is restaurant quality, dense and rich, but more so the next night, when I drizzled the plate with chocolate sauce first!

It was very good... I urge you to try it out!

And, lastly, I'll finish off with this amazing recipe for dinner... using a bundt pan and pizza dough.

This was from Pinterest, and it requires two batches of pizza dough, cut into chunks and placed in a greased bundt pan. Put mozzarella cheese and all your favourite pizza toppings on top (no sauce!) and bake at 350*F for 40 minutes... broil for the last couple of minutes to make the top golden and crispy.

Invert it onto a cookie sheet and cut into slices. Pull apart and dip chunks into warm pizza sauce. This meal feeds a LOT of people!

And there you have it! I have some interesting cakes on the horizon, so I hope you'll come back and check them out! In the meantime, bake something apple or pumpkin, and enjoy the borrowed days of summer we're lucky to be seeing, and as always, stay sweet! =)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Happy Canada Day, My Fellow Canadians!

Boy, am I ever glad that June is over... what a busy month, and I was dreading it the entire month of May! It was full of great family events, and I wouldn't trade any of them for the world, but hey, life is busy enough without all the extras!

All the end of the year class trips, my oldest son's event with sea cadets, including their end of the year trip, to the same place the class was going (Canada's Wonderland), tuxedo rental payments for his amazing graduation ceremony and later, dinner/dance. And we finished off the month with a birthday for my youngest son, and a huge (and awesome) Canada Day celebration BBQ with family. It was full of fun, for sure, but now our plan is to relax for the next couple of months and really soak in the summer.

My oldest boy only has one major event with sea cadets, he's heading off to Kingston for two weeks in general course training, at the end of which is another "graduation", which we are planning to meet him for. After that, he gets to choose specialized training in whatever he's really interested in. It will be a tough choice for him because he is interested in so many things. We cannot stop telling everyone how proud of him we are... and it's weird and wonderful at the same time, that he's become so grown up.. it's been an adjustment in that he now gets adult-type jokes... and sometimes surprises us with his own... it's rare but just enough to remind us that he isn't a kid anymore... to a point, though. There are still many things I would never discuss with him, in-depth. It's refreshing and kind of scary at the same time, because you really need to get to know them all over again! But I am so happy that we are still a very close-knit family and I hope we always are.

This is me with my handsome son on his graduation day!

This cake was made for my yongest son's birthday, inspired by his love for Wii Play's Tanks! game. To save time, I used a rainbow chip cake mix, with chocolate buttercream, and covered the cake in fondant. Rolos were used for the tires, a paper crimper was used to make the tread, and dollar store soldiers were put to work. My favourite parts of this cake are the hatch on top, and the barrel, made from a fondant-wrapped piece of dowel, with some added details.
I used a photo from Pinterest as an example to go by, and this cake doesn't have as much detail as the original photo, but we made it our own, and my eight-year old was thrilled! Unfortunately, being the last day of school in addition to his birthday, he was so full of junk food, he didn't end up digging into his cake until the next day! LOL!

Every year, I make something for a Canada Day BBQ we attend. No matter where we end up, it's full of fun, laughter and good friends. Also every year, I try to out-do myself. One year, it was a cake with fresh strawberries depicting the Canada flag. Then it was "hamburger and hotdog" cupcakes, and another year, a "hamburger" cake... and then I came across the idea for Father's Day to make cupcakes with a "mini-grill" cooking some weinies and burgs.... (see the previous post for that one!).. so when I saw a particular photo on Pinterest, I saved it immediately for inspiration.
But of course I wanted to make it my own, so I changed what was actually "cooking" on the grill. Instead of chicken legs and two burgers, I went with a nice "t-bone steak", and I think it turned out amazing! So did everyone else, because when they finally mustered the courage to cut into it, it was completely demolished... which is awesome because that means it's good!
Lots of photos were taken, and I received many, many compliments, but most of all, it was enjoyed, and that meant the most to me!
Enjoy your holiday, Canada!
And as always, stay sweet!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Yay! Summer is finally here!

Hi friends! How is everyone enjoying our beautiful warm weather so far? I am so excited that we can finally go outside without layers upon layers of clothing!

You haven't heard a lot from me in the past month or so... we've just been so busy around the house, cleaning and refreshing our home. We recently cleaned out the basement. I still had clothes and toys from my boys, it was just taking up so much space. We donated a lot of it to my sister-in-law, who's little boy will be growing into a lot of those things in the near future. We also tossed a lot. It was so much work, but I love knowing that useless crap is gone, instead of taking up precious space.

We also ripped apart our front and back gardens, pulled a lot of weeds, split and transplanted a lot of our plants... our gardens look so much better now. We may only live in a townhome, but it wasn't without a lot of effort! We just finished planting flowers yesterday, and "installed" a couple of those coconut-lined flower baskets, and added some solar lights. I'm really loving our backyard this morning! (This isn't our backyard, but these are the baskets we bought)

Where to start? About a month ago, I did this beautiful cake for a co-worker's daughter. We had a lot of ideas floating around, and sometimes it can be diffficult to put them all into one cake... but I tried! I think the result was pretty good!

This cake was a chocolate and vanilla split (one flavour per tier). Pieces of dowel were instered into the bottom tier to support the top tier, which was on a plain cake board. One long piece of dowel went through both layers to offer stability. Both cakes were covered in a pale blue-green fondant, and trimmed in ribbon. Music notes were formed out of black fondant, the large one was attached with a toothpick and some buttercream. A bow was made out of the ribbon used to trim the bottom tier and placed on top of the cake to finish it off.

Next was Father's Day... It was a quiet period, remember? I was able to get so much done around the house! :) Not only that, but I have been very active in my fitness, since I got a FitBit for Mother's Day (love it, BTW... it really keeps you on your toes, so to speak!) I lost ten pounds and I'm eating better than I did all winter! Idle time is never idle time for me lol!

So anyways, yes, Father's Day. My husband was promoted at work in March, and now works in the office area of his company... so proud of him! I guess he wanted to add some bling to his work outfits and I found this old ring of his laying around the house all the time. Maybe the ring had sentimental value to him? I'm not quite sure, but it gave me an idea, so at the end of April, I asked my son to split on a gift with me, and ordered him a new ring, one that he could wear with pride and it would make him think of his family :) So we got the ring, gave it to him for Father's Day, and of course it didn't fit (I even traced his other ring to try to get the proper size!) So a new one is being ordered and he should get it within the next week. In addition to that, since I was prepping for a few cake orders, I baked some extra cupcakes and made a batch for Father's Day, complete with some cute fondant toppers!

I LOVED making the little grills with sausages and hamburgers... and the fishing rod with the little fish was my favourite. The shirt and tie was pretty fitting, too, considering his job! The boys were all smiles when they saw the cupcakes, but my husband's smile was definitely the biggest... and we all thoroughly enjoyed them. They were just simple chocolate and vanilla cupcakes (seems to be the norm these days lol) with maroon-coloured vanilla buttercream.

And then it was on!

I received a message from a mom whose little guy was about to turn one. She was ordering two cakes because two parties were in the works. Wow what a small world, it turns out, she is a cousin of one of my husband's friends, and related to someone I work with! Too funny how that happens sometimes.

The first cake was a number 1, vanilla with blue trim and decorated with stars and balloons. It turned out to be pretty cute! And the second cake was a prince's cake, complete with a crown. This cake was a chocolate bottom and vanilla top... decorated in the same colours as the number 1 cake. Both cakes were done in buttercream, and only one cake had some fondant included.

The tiered cake was not properly supported but there was a method to my madness: I was afraid of the little prince choking on a piece of dowel, so I skipped the small pieces of dowel that I would typically insert into the bottom cake to hold the top cake up. One long piece of dowel went through both tiers to offer support, but gravity was starting to take over already. Keeping it cold was this cake's best chance for survival. In the end though, mom was happy and the handsome little guy enjoyed his birthday cake, and that is all that matters!

And the latest cake to date was one for my cousin's daughter's birthday. There was some indecision as to the cake's design but Kennedy decided on this one in the end. Two rich layers of moist chocolate cake, with a chocolate mousse filling, covered in black fondant. Pink and white checkered fondant deck the sides out, and a hand-cut Monster High logo decorates the top, along with the birthday girl's name.

Mom said that the cake was VERY well received.. and that, my friends, is what matters most to me! I love that I get a chance to help people celebrate special moments!

So, as we trudge through the final week of school... I am proud to say that my oldest son, Tyler, is graduating grade eight tomorrow. He has his tux and is all set to go to dinner with his friends in the limo they are sharing. I couldn't be more proud of him as he embarks on the new journey which is high school.

My youngest son, Caleb, has had a trying year at times, and still managed to come out on top, improving his reading skills substantially, and rocking his spelling tests, science tests, and showing me and his father that his brother wasn't the only one blessed with brains. We are all looking forward to his fresh start next year as he begins grade three. So proud of both of my wonderful, handsome boys!

Hopefully I will get the opportunity to help you celebrate something special this summer.. send me your pictures and ideas and let's create a special cake just for you!

As always, stay sweet!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Let it go... let it goooooo!

It's been a crazy week here... this is the first opportunity I have had in over a week to sit and write this, and I have been dying to share!

But first, what is going on with this "spring"? I can't believe how cold it has been! We love to have our windows open, to freshen up the house and let the warm air in, but we've only really had one day we could do that so far. It's so frustrating! I want to stop wearing sweaters, and get out there to exercise with my family! Rant over. :)

So, I had the pleasure of "meeting" this client through my brother's girlfriend... she was looking for a fondant Disney Frozen cake, and I was really happy that I was referred to. I've been wanting to do a Frozen cake for awhile.. my youngest son is a huge fan of the movie and the soundtrack (it inspired him to join the school choir, boy, were we ever shocked!).

At any rate, we passed ideas back and forth and I sent her several photos of ideas for her daughter's cake. We liked elements from several cakes and I love combining ideas to make an original cake. I have to say, it's my favourite way to cake!

We decided to buy a toy figure for the top of the cake, because making one from fondant would be extremely time-consuming and costly for her. But when I couldn't find anything, I messaged her right away to find out how she wanted to proceed. Her amazing idea, that I never would have thought of, saved the day... and I immediately went to look for Disney Infinity characters. I've seen the figures, but never paid much attention before because I didn't know what they were for. When I found Anna, I was so relieved and could concentrate on the rest of the cake.

One of the ideas used was rock candy suckers in white and blue. By the time I figured out where to buy them, they were being discontinued and the only colours left were red, green and purple. I chose the purple, and wondered how I was going to find these if this cake was requested again... I'm still looking into it.

The other idea that I fell in love with was the candy ice. There was no other way to get this look, although, I made marbled fondant triangles and let them dry ahead of time, just in case this plan didn't work. I am glad I did that, but I didn't end up needing the fondant and my husband ended up snacking on them! LOL!

If you like cake and have never been to this site, you need to check out Coolest Homemade Birthday Cakes. They allow anyone to post their cakes on the site, and they encourage the poster to share their experiences and how-tos with everyone. So the one I came across had the candy ice and I wish I could find the cake again so I could thank the author.

She took clear, wrapped candy mints and melted them in a silicon pan in the microwave and poured the mixture onto a baking sheet to let it harden. I couldn't find a silicon pan before I made this cake, but I won't stop looking! I lined a square glass baking dish with waxed paper and then foil on top, and then melted a bunch of mints in a glass loaf pan in the microwave. It was Pyrex, so I was relatively confident that it wouldn't break or crack. The mixture cooled down SO fast, and in turn, I had to work very fast. It was very bubbly and foamy and not easy to scrape into the lined pan I had ready, but I did the best I could. Then I put a few drops of blue food colouring on the mixture and swirled it with a silicon spatula over the melted mints. I let it cool right down and then wrapped it up in the foil, still not sure if it would peel off properly. For the record, it broke easily off of the spatula after it cooled... silicon really is your best friend if you try this.

My family and I were eating dinner just after I did all of this, and I figured the loaf pan could have the cooled, and the mint mixture could be chipped out of it when it was time to clean the pan. We were all nervous as we heard the mint mixture cracking in the pan, it was funny...after we figured out what the noise was!

The day before the cake was to be picked up, I filled and crumb-coated the square chocolate cake, and decided to decorate it diagonally. I covered it with white fondant, and trimmed it in a sparkly, shimmery blue ribbon. My husband trimmed off the wooden balls at the bottom of the rock candy sucker sticks, so they could be inserted into the cake. While he did this for me, I unwrapped the candy ice and tested it to see if I could unpeel it from the foil. I forgot to spray it with cooking spray before I poured the mixture in and I was dreading picking bits of foil from it, but it peeled off really easily!

Once it was unpeeled and free from the pan, I needed to break it into three or four "shards", hopefully triangular, like the ice in Elsa's fortress. I scored it first with a very sharp knife and then cut into it. Surprisingly, it cooperated lol! There were a few jagged edges throwing the shape off a bit, so I tapped them with my sharp knife, and was able to trim them into the shapes I needed. I also got some smaller pieces to use at the sides.

I took the largest, tallest piece and pressed that into the back corner of the cake, and took the next two large pieces, and staggered them in front. I put the two smaller pieces at the sides, and really liked how the fondant sank around the "ice" to make it look like snow. I pushed the rock candy suckers onto the cake around the ice, and put a dollop of buttercream on the bottom of Anna and placed her in front of the ice shards.

Then I made the birthday girl's name and age out of blue fondant using Tappits, and then tinted some extra buttercream light blue and piped little stars all over the cake, concentrating more on the sides.

It looks like a simple enough cake, right? But there were a couple of hurdles along the way, and I ended up needing to replace my loaf pan, the old one couldn't be saved. No biggie.. it all boils down to learning experience! Neeeeeeed to find a silicon pan lol!

And there she is, Anna in all her icy finest! I was lucky to hear some very positive feedback about this cake, and the birthday girl was very happy!

Stay sweet!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Springtime Sunshine

And so are the all the birds! It is SO nice to finally have spring weather, isn't it? Unfortunately, we are expecting snow on Tuesday, after a few days of 20 degree weather. But I'll take it!

I have some catching up to do with pictures, it would seem :)  I've had the pleasure of creating some pretty amazing cakes lately and it's time to share!

 This cake was so fun to make, it was to celebrate the birthday of my son's friend, and it was chocolate with chocolate buttercream. It was relatively simple, the figures in front took a couple of nights to make, because certain parts needed time to dry, but everyone at the party really enjoyed the cake... the party was a lot of fun too!

So, I used two layers of chocolate cake, filled it with the chocolate buttercream and crumb-coated it. I rolled out some white fondant and covered the bottom half, instead of choosing to cover the whole cake, which would have made the cake so much heavier. I covered the top half with red fondant, and cut and attached the other pieces to make Big Red.

I was asked if the small figures were cake pops, which was interesting because I hadn't even considered using pops, but I totally could have! Instead, they are balls of fondant, with eyes, beaks and other additions attached. I secured them to the front of the cake board with some buttercream, after arriving at the party. The beaks wouldn't have fit into the box without falling off (next time, I would get a bigger cake board instead). The birthday boy was VERY happy!

Next was this beautiful beast. This cake was my nemesis because after baking it, it challenged me at every turn afterwards. It's beauty is very deceiving!

 The bottom layer is a ten inch chocolate raspberry cake, with whipped raspberry mousse filling. It was crumb-coated in a deep pink, raspberry buttercream, before being decorated with raspberry buttercream rosettes. Four dowels were inserted into the cake to support the cake above it, which was an eight inch banana cake, with a whipped banana mousse filling. It was crumb-coated in a lighter pink, banana-flavoured buttercream, and done up in matching rosettes to create a beautiful, two-tiered bridal shower cake. One long piece of dowel went through the center of the top tier, through the cake board and through the bottom tier to support the entire cake and to keep it from slipping or sliding. The two tiers were finished off with a white lace trim, to match the bridal theme of Roses and Lace.

Problems: I forgot that the bottom cake was chocolate instead of banana, and I made a HUGE batch of banana buttercream, because rosettes take a LOT of buttercream. I used about half of the batch, and had to toss the rest.

The next problem was trying to figure out how to do rosettes on the top tier without screwing up the rosettes on the bottom tier. Too make a long story short, I needed to scrape off the rosettes once, and the top tier needed to be redone. When the rosettes were finally done, and looked uniform in size, I trimmed both tiers in a delicate white lace ribbon. This was another problem because the ribbon soaked up the pink colour from the buttercream. I replaced the ribbon once, and doubled the ribbon layer so that it would soak through the bottom layer, and not show through the top one. The cake was going to be picked up the following day, so I had some time to see if this theory would work.

The following day, just to challenge me again, the ribbon looked tie-dyed! LOL! The ribbon idea was NOT going to work, and they were picking up the cake that evening. It still needed one more evening in the fridge before the actual event, and I knew that replacing the ribbon was not going to help. I needed a different ribbon.

My husband, patient as a saint, and oh-so-lifesaving, ran out to buy a thicker ribbon for me. He took pictures of two and ultimately, he made the final decision, and it worked. It looked so much more defined against the cake.

And lastly, finding a darn box for the cake was next to impossible. My husband brought three boxes home from work, and we couldn't use a traditional cake box, either. The cake was too tall, and way too heavy for a flimsy cake box. The first two boxes weren't wide enough for the fourteen inch cake board and the final box he brought home was massive. In the end, the client decided against the box altogether (but at least we had one available). I was happier not putting it into a box because of the history I had with this cake by this point, and I knew the more it was handled, the worse the outcome would have been.

I can't lie, I was never so happy to say goodbye to a cake. Beautiful, yes! Tasty, yes! Made an impression, yes! Taught me a lesson, absolutely! I have learned so much from this cake, it's unreal. Never make assumptions on how simple a cake will be to make, because that's when you run into challenges like I did. I am actually looking forward to the time I get to make something similar to this cake again because of everything I have learned. :)

And the most recent cake I've made was a redemption of sorts in my cake world. I've been wanting to take another run with the giant cupcake cake, since I wasn't thrilled with my first attempts.

My husband informed me, nearly a month ago, that his office is having a potluck and he was hoping I could do something in cake for it. So, I put some thought into it and decided to do a dozen cupcakes and the giant cupcake cake. I wanted to do something cute, something to make an impression, since he chose the theme of babies, since it was partly to say goodbye to a co-worker who is going on mat leave.

She is a chocolate fan (I love her already! LOL), so I went with chocolate. The cupcake cake was filled with a peanut butter filling. Since she didn't know the gender, I went with a pale yellow and green theme. I made the toppers two evenings before, to give them time to dry.

On the evening before, I crumb-coated the giant cupcake bottom, and wrapped it in green fondant, and secured it to the board with some buttercream. I filled it with peanut butter filling, and placed the top on, after crumb-coating it. I then did small rosettes all over the top, and decorated it with fondant flowers and a leaf. The cake was done!

Then the cupcakes were also done in rosettes (seriously, I am addicted to rosettes now!). I topped 6 of them with the fondant pea pods, which were made up of three balls of fondant, two green, one in skin colour. I used some green fondant to make pacifiers and some skin colour for a nose on each. I debated buying some food markers to make the eyes, but I really didn't have time, so I ended up using Americolor brand black gel colourant with a few drops of vodka. I mixed these up and used a toothpick to paint on the sleeping eyes.

I topped all of the cupcakes and we were good to go! I heard some very positive feedback, and several people even took pictures. That makes me so happy!

So gosh darn cute, right?
Well that's it for now... off to spend some time outside with my family, enjoying this gorgeous weather while we have it!
As always, stay sweet!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Marching towards spring...

Wow, what a winter this has been! So cold and so much snow... I think I speak for all Ontarians when I say we're ready for the end of winter. Our water pipes have frozen twice, leaving us with no water in the main bathroom for two three days at a time. The kids have missed more school this year because of the weather than they ever have before, and I can't stand winter on the best of days! I can handle it on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and maybe Boxing Day, for all the festivities, and then as far as I am concerned, it can all melt and torture someone else lol! But let's face it, we all want BBQ season back with those long, hot, lazy weekends! Am I right? Bring it!

I am excited to say that I have March Break off with my kids, the only downfall is that my oldest son is going to Ottawa with the Sea Cadets (for winter fun lol). They will be touring the Parliament building, skating along Rideau Canal, and enjoying some snowboarding and skiing. He is going to have so much fun and I will miss him so much! But he's back mid-week and then we can all hang out together :)

This cake is the last one I did for the month of February. February was a very busy, very productive month for me and I loved it! When I look back, I wonder how I did it... and then I remember, my family helped me. My husband was great in helping me out with the assembly line for Valentine's Day and making sure I had enough supplies (I stockpiled for awhile before the big Valentine's Day promo!). I couldn't have done it without any of them!

This part was impressive enough! After covering the cake in green fondant, I trimmed dark chocolate KitKat bars into varying lengths and secured them to the side of the cake with buttercream as a fence-like trim. Then I piped grass around and in between them and put the yellow piece on with the big number 6. The second part needed to dry for two days before I felt comfortable putting it on the cake (and I still wasn't entirely sure it would stay put!)

I started this part on the Tuesday evening before the cake needed to be picked up. I began by cutting a tree trunk out of chocolate fondant and scoring marks in it to make it look like bark. It was attached to a piece of green fondant at the bottom, but you can't see it very well in the picture.

Then I went to work on Phineas and Ferb. I'm going to be honest, I have never seen the show, and if you're a fan of the cartoon, you can tell because of the placement of orange hair lol! I'll tell more about that later! Cutting out all the small pieces was no problem, but I learned a lesson about 6-7 months ago with another project with all kinds of little pieces... USE royal icing to secure them! So I did... but it wasn't until the following night that I recalled this important information (I blame memory lapse on my kids!).

I kept everything separate until the evening of pickup. My oldest son mentioned that the one guy was missing hair (guy... lol... again, never seen the cartoon!). The customer was waiting in my hallway as I put the finishing touches on (the grass, the bushes). So I put some orange squiggles on top of his head... I looked at him, and he's like, "Nooooo. It's not curly!" I scrape it off and try again. I look at him again for confirmation... aaaaaand he shakes his head. I said, "What is the problem?" He goes, it's at the very back of his head." I said, "You mean where the other guy's (lol) head is?" He tells me yes. I said, "Well, I can't put it there! The guy's head is there, this will have to do!" LOL!

In the end, the little boy was very happy with his cake and that, my friends, is all that matters!

Stay tuned for the next post, and stay sweet!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Golden February!

WTG Team Canada on your Sochi 2014 success! Hard not to brag a little about my country's medal standings... top three is pretty awesome! I am so proud of all of our athletes and the game they brought to Sochi!

I've had a busy but fun week! Started off the week with Family Day, and then helped my friend celebrate her birthday the following day. I have been wanting to make caramel buttercream for awhile now, and thought pairing it up with chocolate cupcakes would be perfect for her.

The recipe seemed simple enough but I didn't read it through all the way and realized at 9 p.m., the night before bringing the cupcakes into work, that the mixture had to be partially cooked, then cooled and then whipped. Um, ain't no one got time for that! LOL Not at that hour. So I had to improvise.

I took out a can of dulce de leche condensed milk, and mixed it with icing sugar and some meringue powder. It smelled and tasted divine! Unfortunately, it wasn't as stable as regular buttercream, and I had to work fast and keep the cupcakes refrigerated to make sure the buttercream kept it's shape. it worked and they were a hit!

Obviously, I need to plan ahead a bit more next time I want to make caramel buttercream but it turned out pretty good!

We also had company over for dinner and I made my son Tyler's favourite dessert... Chocolate Brownie Trifle...

And of course, my latest pride and joy was a cake/cupcake combo for a friend's three year old daughter. She was having a birthday party with her little friends and I was so excited to do this cake.
I did a trial run a couple of weeks ago on a strawberry cake, and it was for this request. My friend asked that the cupcakes be chocolate, and of course, how can I say no to that? LOL!
Anywho... I iced and filled the cake and draped the pink fondant on top. I had cut out two black fondant circles a couple of days before to allow for drying time. These were going to be the ears on the cake. I put on some white fondant polkadots, and used matching ribbon to trim the cake, and also used some for the big bow.
To keep the ears upright, the night before the order was due, I cut out two smaller circles of black fondant and sandwiched a lollipop stick in between the two pieces and let that dry overnight. This allowed the ability to pop them right into the cake like suckers.
For the cupcakes, each one was first piped with vanilla buttercream. Then I put two mini Oreo cookies at the top for ears, and then a large Oreo right underneath those. My friend was going to have a couple of extra cupcakes so I took the initiative to put a mini polkadot bow on one of the cupcakes just for her daughter. I'm glad I did this because in the end, she decided to serve the cupcakes at the party and save the cake for her daughter's actual birthday. :)
I also included backup ears in case the ones I put into the cake fell apart or drooped (sometimes fondant is unpredictable, but I was fairly certain the fondant ears I made would last)... I just pried two Oreos apart and put a lollipop stick in between, and added some extra icing to the cookie sandwich.
I am incredibly pleased with the results!
Now I am off to find something to do since the Olympics are over :(  So boring... maybe I'll bake!
Stay Sweet!