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!