Monday, March 31, 2014

Howdy, Cowboys Myles and Grayson!

My friend Louise requested cakes for her twin nephews' 2nd birthday.  What a special occasion and fun time to celebrate!  From what I understand, both of her nephews, Myles and Grayson, are acting appropriately for their 2 year-old age, if you know what I mean.  But let's not call them "terrible."  Let's call them adorable and for the day, little cowboys.

Louise's sister-in-law wanted two cowboy-themed cakes for the boys' party.  She sent over some pictures of two-tiered cakes that carried on a cowboy theme, but she really wanted two separate cakes; one for each of her sons.  Grayson's should have some blue on it and Myles' should have green incorporated somehow.  

Both of the cakes were vanilla cakes.  One was filled with vanilla buttercream and the other was filled with a delicious Bavarian cream.  YUM!!!!!

For Grayson's cake, I thought a blue paisley would be super cute as the backdrop of his cake.  I made little cowboy boots out of gum paste to top the cake.  All of the paisley was piped with buttercream.  

For Myles' cake, I decorated the cake with a cow-print and topped it with a rice-krispie and fondant hat with a gum paste rope.  I included the green on the hat and in his name.

I think the two are so cute together.  

And by "the two", I mean the boys.  Look at how cute they are!!!

I hope they had a fantastic birthday!  It sure looks like they brought in "the [awesome] twos" with lots of style!  

Monday, March 24, 2014

What Does the Fox Say? CAKE!!!!

Josie and her friends from school participated in a talent show last week.  They danced to the song, "What Does the Fox Say?" and dressed up like various animals from the song.  They did a FANTASTIC job and had a great time bonding as a team as a result.  I hosted the girls on Thursday after school for some practice and a fun play date and dinner.  (You wouldn't even believe the noise produced from eight 1st grade girls.  I had no idea.  Mind numbing.  Seriously. )  

For dessert, I served up this "foxy" cake.    The bonus?  Look at the last picture!  

RAINBOW!!!!!!!  The girls just "ooh-ed" and "ah-ed".  They are all so cute!!!

For those of you unfamiliar with the song, here's the video clip.  Warning - it's catchy and has the tendency to stay in your head ALL day.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Baby Shower Cake for Boy or Girl

Melissa is one of my fabulous students who won a Cake Mama gift at my birthday giveaway last year. She opted to use her gift for a baby shower she was hosting.  How very nice of her to share!!!

Melissa ordered a 6" and 8" tiered cake and she wanted each cake to have chocolate and vanilla layers.  So here's what each of the cakes looks like on the inside.  Chocolate on the bottom and vanilla on top, so everyone gets a smidge of both flavors.  Yummy!!

I used my fabulous boiled icing recipe for this cake.  It's super creamy and whipped with oodles of vanilla.  It's truly divine.  She was decorating for the shower using chevron and wanted that to be reflected in the cake.  So different shades of blue and pink chevron were placed on the cake.  

I think this one turned out so cute!  What a happy cake!!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Icing Smiles - For AJ

Last Spring I discovered a fabulous organization called "Icing Smiles."  "Icing Smiles is a nonprofit organization that provides custom celebration cakes and other treats to families impacted by the critical illness of a child.  They understand that the simple things, like a cake, are luxuries to a family battling illness.  Their goal is to create a custom cake for the ill child, or their sibling, that provides a temporary escape from worry and creates a positive memory during a difficult time."

As soon as I discovered the organization, I signed up to become a baker, or "Sugar Angel."  I'm proud to say that I'm one of 5,000 Sugar Angels in the United States alone.  What a great team to be on!!

I got my "Call to Action" over a month ago, to make a cake for AJ's 15th birthday.  AJ is a wonderful big sister to two younger sisters, one of whom is critically ill.  This was a time for everyone to celebrate AJ's wonderful qualities as a sister, daughter and great friend.  I really couldn't wait to honor this young lady.  

Her mom, Stephanie, informed my that AJ loves the ocean, orcas, whales and dolphins. Her favorite colors are blue and green.  Yep!  I was super excited about this one!

I made sure she had a whale (wishing her a Happy 15th Birthday)...

 and an orca...

and a dolphin!

Lots of blues and green accented the cake.

This was a confetti cake with vanilla bean buttercream.  I had a wonderful time baking this cake and truly enjoyed the decorating process.  The colors turned out really fun!

At the pick-up time, AJ brought her friends and her sisters to come and see the cake.  THAT is always the best part.  The girls all enjoyed looking over the details and it's so great to meet such a special family!!

I hope you had a fantastic party, AJ!!!  Thanks for letting me be a part of your very special day!

Update:  Pictures from Stephanie (AJ's Mom):

 Me and AJ

Looks magical!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Truly a day to celebrate!!!

Right before my freshmen year of high school, my family relocated about an hour and a half from my hometown.  I had to start a new school, meet new friends and I was absolutely terrified.  Little did I know, it was going to be one of the greatest things that could have happened to me.  

As luck would have it, about a week after our move in June (my brother was able to graduate high school and I was able to finish out the school year), I caught the chicken pox from my brother and was a horrifyingly speckled and highly contagious mess.  My friend-making time was going to be delayed.  As I sat in my new foreign living room drenched in calamine lotion, I looked out my front window and saw a gaggle of girls who appeared to be my age.  I was kind of in disbelief because what were the chances that I would move to a neighborhood where there would be ONE girl my age. But there were like SIX!!!  Introductions would have to wait until my face, neck, arms, legs, and torso cleared up.  Ugh.  But I was so excited and incredibly nervous, but more excited to meet them.

I don't really remember who I met first, but I know that Lisa, Dena and Gina were the three gals that I spent the most amount of time with that first summer.  Gosh, we had a blast!  Seriously.  We laughed until we were sick, we swam every day in one of our pools, (Lisa's was the warmest - it was heated with solar power!!!) and spent the days just being lazy.  It.Was.Heaven.  

Here we are at my old neighbor's lake cottage for a visit that first summer.  
(From left to right:  Ron (my neighbor), Dena, me, Lisa and Donna (my neighbor).

And here we are canoeing on the lake.  Lisa sat in the middle and I laughed the whole time.  At her. 
 I mean, look at this picture.  How silly we look.  

Those girls, who were going into 8th grade, introduced to me their soon-to-be 9th grade friends and acquaintances.  They took me under their wings and helped me acclimate to my new climate.  They were bound and determined to make sure that I had friends at my new school.  They introduced me to Joel, Mark, Ellie, Debbie, and Chad.  Debbie (who lived right behind me) hosted a party at the end of the summer and she invited everyone from her class over, so I was able to meet another 20 or so kids my age.  Honestly, humbling how generous they were.  They were true friends and will ALWAYS have a special place in my heart.  

Obviously years have gone by and we've stayed connected through Facebook and I enjoy hearing about all of the goings on in their lives.  Right around Christmas a few months ago, Lisa informed her Facebook family that her husband had developed a rare form of cancer in his brain.  This struck me so hard.  I was devastated for Lisa and for her husband Ben and their two children.  Not to mention their extended families and all of their many close friends.  I just couldn't believe it and I walked around the house the next few days just in a fog, praying for them.  Praying for strength and courage and a cure and healing and anything I could think of that would help. 

Lisa and her husband live about 3 hours away, but Ben was getting his treatments about 25 minutes away.  They'd come down here for weeks or days at a time and then head back home to recover.   Lisa started a Caring Bridge site and continued to keep her community of supporters informed of Ben's progress and I looked forward to reading every last one of her updates.  

A few weeks ago, after his fourth treatment, they received the very best news:  Ben was in remission. The treatment for the last few months worked in a "best-case-scenario" sort of way, and although he's not officially "cured" (you have to be cancer-free for at least 5-years for that title), they were unable to detect cancer in his tests.  I was elated for them and rejoiced with them upon hearing the news!  

I reached out to Lisa and asked if there was ANYthing she needed and bless her, she said there was. She requested a cake to celebrate Ben's final treatment.  Something that she and the family could enjoy over their celebratory dinner.  She wanted the words, "You did it Ben!" to be on the cake and she requested the green ribbon logo to be on the top.  

I put a lot of love into my cakes, but I have to admit, this got more than its fair share.  I couldn't be happier for them and although I finally got to meet Ben very briefly when I delivered the cake, I admire his courage and strength through all of this.

Lisa is unable to consume gluten, so I whipped up a special treat for her too;  gluten-free cupcakes. The amount of strength that she has had to have is overwhelming to me.  She's kept her family moving forward and as a result, they haven't really skipped a beat.  Her positivity is contagious and she's a natural cheer-leader.

Lisa snapped this shot of us at the cake delivery.  Lisa's the drop-dead gorgeous model on the right.

And here's Ben, Lisa and their kids with the cake.

Lisa, thank you for being such a great friend to me.  I'm celebrating with you all and am so grateful that you gave me the opportunity to "help" in some way! Prayers for continued good health and healing!


Aqua Ombre Cake

I received a request for another Ombre cake - this one was to be varying shades of aqua.  I couldn't wait!  These cakes are so fun to make and they are so beautiful!

This one was to celebrate a 16th Birthday.  It will surely be a sweet 16!  Happy Birthday!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

2014 Academy Awards Party - Cake Mama Style

Danny and I have now hosted an Academy Awards Party for 14 years.  Danny will say it's 15 years, but we really didn't host one that first year.  We celebrated the Oscars at his parents' house back when we were first dating, we invited some friends from college over and we themed a few food items. Back then I made a cake decorated to look like a penny and one to look like a nickel and we called that "The Sixth Sense", and I made a taco dip topped with green lettuce and named that one "The Green Mile."  We've since stepped up our game and began hosting them in our own homes.  But that first one still sort of counts, I guess.  It's when we ignited the Academy Awards "spark"!!

Danny has always been into movies.  He loves films and enjoys seeing them, watching them over again, talking about them, thinking about them...everything.  He loves them!  And he recently started a podcast with our good friend Mike.  If you'd like to listen to them discuss movies and share their hilarious opinions about them, check them out here... You can also download them on iTunes.   I'm admittedly along for the ride.  I have the reputation for liking something "light" and easy.  Animated features are a sure bet for me as are romantic comedies.  But I digress.  We both love the Academy Awards and all of the build up to the greatest awards program on television.

And because we've been hosting them for so long, it's sort of like a well-working machine.  We wake up early the day the nominees are announced and there begins our month-long brainstorm for menu items which I'll get to in a minute.  About a week prior to the event, we begin decorating the house.  I got these movie reels from eBay a few years ago.  Just this year, however, I thought about hanging one on my front door instead of a wreath.  Cute!

And, over the years, we've collected the Academy Awards Official Posters and the last 15 years or so of Official Programs from the ceremony.  I've practically become friends with the staff at the Academy!!!   

And a few years ago, I came across these Paparazzi figurines that I hide throughout the house.  They are photographers or interviewers and they're about 2 1/2 inches tall.  It's a fun game to have the guests look throughout the house to see if they can find them all.   If anything, it can pass some of the commercial time throughout the program.

I find myself picking up items throughout the year and finding new uses for them.  For example, this popcorn container from the Target dollar bin was out in April a few years ago.  I picked up about five of them and set them aside for our party and here are our centerpieces.

I also came across some black cloth napkins on clearance at Target a few years ago and picked those up.  I used them last year when I hosted a very small dinner to celebrate the Oscars.   I love how the place settings turned out.  All nice and fancy for the event.   I keep the colors to red, gold, black, white and champagne.  Any flowers I choose are usually white and red.  I just love how it turns out.

The one thing that I really wanted to try again this year was making the chocolate Oscars.  I got a mold last year and attempted it then.  They turned out okay, but I learned from my mistakes.  This year, I used Yellow Wilton Candy Melts and then sprayed them with edible gold shimmer spray.  MUCH better.  I made about 35 of these this year and it took the majority of a full day to do them because I only had one tray which makes 3 of them at a time.  I'll invest in another tray for next year.  

Once the Oscars were all dried, I wrapped them in small plastic bags and tied them shut with ribbon that I found at Walmart.  It reminded me of film and it certainly fit the color scheme.  Guests all received Oscars at our party on their way out.  :)  

Now for the food.  It's a big deal.  We think about our menu for a month and brainstorm fun and creative names for everything.  Our guests now try to guess what we'll be serving and we look forward to sharing what we came up with as everyone arrives for the night.  The rule is, all of the themed food has to be based off of an Actor, Director, Producer or Picture nominated that year.  


"Filled With Meat-A" (Philomena)
Asian Chicken Rolls with Sweet and Sour Sauce

"Lupita Nyonion Dip" (Lupita Nyong'o)
Onion Dip

"American Ruffles" (American Hustle)
Ruffles Potato Chips

"Her-mus" & Chips (Her)
Hummus and Chips

"Leonardo DiMushroom Caprios" (Leonardo DiCaprio)
Stuffed Mushroom Caps

"Pigs in a Blanchett" (Cate Blanchett)
Pigs in a Blanket:  Cocktail Weiners, wrapped in bacon, covered in butter and brown sugar.  Oh.My.God.  SOOOO good!!!!

"Crood-ites" (The Croods) and "The Hobbit:The Desolation of Fruit Tray" 
(The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug)
Crudites & Fruit Tray


Amy "Sam" Adams (Amy Adams)
Sam Adams Beer

"Melted Frozen" (Frozen)

"Judi Punch" (Judi Dench)
Fruit Punch

"Blue Jasmine" (Blue Jasmine)
A delicious alcohol beverage made by my Father-in-Law

(I got these frames at IKEA a few weekends ago.  They worked wonderfully for displaying the menu names)

Main Courses:

"Captain Phillies" (Captain Phillip)
Philly Steak Sandwiches

"Dallas Fryers Club" (Dallas Buyers Club)
Fried Chicken

 Side Dishes:
"The Wolf of Waldorf Salad" (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Waldorf Salad (made by my Mother-in-Law)

"12 Years a Slaw" (12 Years a Slave)
Cole Slaw

 "Mashed Potatoes and Gravity" (Gravity)
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy


 "Chiwetel Chips-Ahoyofor" (Chiwetel Ejiofor) & "Chocolate Barkhad Abdi" (Barkhad Abdi)
Chewy Chips Ahoy & Chocolate Bark with Cashews

And the show stopper...

 "BAKED NEBRASKA" (Nebraska)
Baked Alaska

And then I got to bring out my torch.  Hee, hee, hee!!!

A layer of my chocolate cake, then a layer of vanilla ice cream, a layer of chocolate ganache with pecans and cake crumbs, a layer of raspberry sherbet, a layer of ganache with pecans and cake crumbs, then a layer of french silk ice cream and a layer of meringue.  

Finally, the end of the party.  At the beginning of the party, guests can submit their best guesses as to the winners of awards on a ballot.  We keep tabs of those ballots throughout the night and the top three winners receive gifts.   This year, my Father-in-Law and Mother-in-Law came in first and second respectively.  And well-deserved I might add.  Marcia takes great care of our girls during the weekend so that Danny and I can focus on the party, and John becomes the jack of all trades and does all of the web maintenance and ballot tabulating.  (The third place winner, Steve, wasn't present for the photo.)

We had a GREAT time with GREAT guests and so much laughter and fun!  What did you do to celebrate?