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    December cakes

    Posting cake pictures is far less intimidating than catching up on real blog posts about our busy December (or November & October, I guess). 


    So, here are my December cake projects.  I think I'll make it my tradition to post all my cakes at once at each month's end. 

    First was Miss Estelle's 1st Birthday.  Baths are her favorite, so this theme was easy to devise.  The lesson learned this time was not to sculpt cake from unproven recipes.  It was a wonder that this bathtub was able to stay together! 

    And her smash cake:

    This was a smash cake for a little boy with a monkey birthday party theme:

    Next came my cute neice Alexandria's 1st birthday.  She loves chickens and the party was darling with a barnyard theme.  The head and tail were rice krispie treats, which I'm {finally!} getting better at covering in fondant.

    And her smash cake:

    And on December 23rd was a wedding cake that completely overwhelmed me (bad timing!).  I didn't get to include all the details I had planned, but thought it still ended up very nice. The bottom tier "wrapping paper" is stamped with fishing poles (a hobby of his...there was also a pink fishing lure that I added later)...the top layer represents her love of cosmology (she teaches a class on Stephen Hawking and is absolutely brilliant)...the presents are a nod to the holiday season wedding. 

    You'll have to excuse the towel and backdrop (back of my Expedition)...this was taken on the way out the door.  It was very large and very heavy.  Jim was actually at work still when I had to deliver, so he arranged for his friend to come help me lift the beast.  He happens to be a police officer...came driving up to our house with sirens blinking and blaring.  Definitely an emergency!

    The top layer was chocolate fudge cake with whipped ganache filling.  The middle layer was german chocolate.  The bottom was yellow butter cake with raspberry cream filling.  There was also a chocolate sheet cake with peppermint cream filling.

    Coming up in January:  a Paris-themed baby shower and possibly another first birthday. 


    some words on D

    (wrote this in early December, but never posted...)

    Because he is suffering from middle child syndrome.  This weekend's theme has been "Aidan gets to do everything"...accompanied by tears & wailing & teeth-gnashing.  Aidan is now the resident egg scrambler and sausage cook.  And Davyn cries every time it happens.  Never mind the fact that I didn't let Aidan near the stove at Davyn's age.  Completely unfair.

    To fight against all of the inequality in his life, D has become quite the king of arguing.  NOTHING can be said without a rebuttal. And he must have the last word. 

    Needless to say (for those who know me and my patience levels), this has been a very difficult stage.  But so different from the difficult stages of Aidan.  Each child truly brings their own unique challenges and triumphs. 

    On the triumph side, Davyn LOVES school and does an incredible job.  He recently was awarded Student of the Month.  Miss Zaviska praised his thankful and scholarly ways in front of the entire school {I'm told that he is quite famous now in his role as the resident 1st grade geography expert}.  He beamed, of course. 

    And Davyn is always a winner with Miss Mae.  I love the picture of them at the top.  She consistently turns to him for help, laughs, and love.  If something is stuck, D comes to the rescue.  If mom is busy and she needs a book read to her, D is happily by her side.  If she wants to watch Tangled for the seventy-second time in one week, D is game.  In the end, I'm quite sure this middle child will be sent into much mischief at her command.  She is the only one who trumps his need for the last word these days.  

    Love this crazy boy of mine! 

    p.s.  note the teeth he *finally!* lost.  He'll be 7 in February and was the only child in his class left with all of his baby teeth. 


    Busy Cake Weekend

    On the weekend before Thanksgiving I did two cakes and cupcakes in two days.  I'm continually surprised by how much easier the process has become over the years.  Cake is now infinitely more enjoyable than it is stressful.

    The first was a 50th Birthday Cake for my Aunt Julie.  This is probably my favorite cake ever.  Something about the design just clicked with me. The only disappointment was that my gold lustre dust was delivered to my porch about 30 minutes after I left to deliver the cake.  I had waited for it all day...wanted to paint some of the dots and the rope gold. 

    On Friday night, D debuted in his first ever piano recital.  He beamed.  I beamed.  Azure ran around like a maniac.  I, of course, forgot the camera, but here is a picture of him practicing.  And a picture of the cupcakes we made for the event (white chocolate peppermint and chocolate with salted caramel buttercream). 

    On Saturday, my niece Abby was baptized.  It was a beautiful occasion.  And this is the cake we had to celebrate.  I honestly can't get enough of the ruffle trend.  

    Coming up this month in my cake like - two first birthdays and one wedding...then Davyn will be trying to trump my design ideas for his 7th birthday on February 1st.  Such a micro-manager.  Where in the world does he get that from?!


    Thanksgiving 2011

    I love Thanksgiving.  After the meal was over, my sisters bemoaned the mammoth imbalance of time spent prepping and cleaning versus time spent eating.  It's really almost laughable (or cryable?). 

    But I do think that most of my pleasure comes in the prep and planning stage.  And (though it drives JoDee bonkers) the bits of food stolen pre-feast *always* taste the best.  Here is a glimpse of our menu.

    Megan's Tom snuck into our backyard at 5 a.m. to start smoking this beautiful bird. 

    The dark meat was to die for.  Note Cyndee, the gravy master, in the background above. 

    And here are Megan and JoDee prepping rolls and veggie platter:

    We tried a new punch recipe (that I loved...not overly sweet, which is my typical punch complaint)...shown here in the gorgeous punch bowl Jo got for her birthday. 

    We made these for place markers at the kids' table:

    When I pulled them out of the pantry yesterday morning, Jim gasped.  And not in admiration.  He thought I had come to my senses and NOT made anything frilly this year.  Had just been thinking how proud he was of my restraint. 

    Surely he knows by now that Restraint & I are perfect strangers.

    We introduced a new dessert recipe, that I'd definitely make again - Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle.

    The highlight for the kids was our first ever Skype chat with Mandi and her family in Montana.  Honestly, it broke my heart to see realize how truly far away they are from us. 

    As I put yesterday's pictures onto my computer I realized my life has entered a different phase.  I have three extremely independent children who LOVE their cousins.  At family events it feels more like I'm childless, honestly.  I took no pictures of the children because I simply didn't see them all day.  I'll have to make more conscious efforts to track them down next time. 

    Of course, over the past week as I've prepped for Thanksgiving, I have reflected greatly on the Blessings of my life.  They are many.  And choice.  Davyn went with Jo & Megs this week to see Santa at the mall, and came home regaling me with what transpired on that visit.  He sat on Santa's lap and was asked the customary question of what he wanted for Christmas.  Nothing came to mind.  His cousin offered "a DS?" and he parroted the request to Santa.  But in telling the story, he looked at me and said, "I don't really want a DS."  I knew that, but prodded, "Well, what DO you want?"  His huge Davyn grin (which is now lacking 3 front teeth, by the way) appeared and he answered:  "Nothing really.  I think I have everything I want." 

    I feel the same.  Bounteously blessed.  And completely Grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and an Eternal Family.  With these, my life is Complete.



    This is me scaling back on cakes over the past month.  Every order or design idea I have turns into multiple tiers and I'm finally realizing that's just not necessary for smaller events.  So here are "simpler" cakes for three little girls.  I even nixed fondant in the first two. It's a big step.

    *learned a new word doing this one - ombre.  Look it up..or maybe I'm the last who didn't know!*  I made a new cream cheese icing recipe, but it wasn't quite solid enough for the poor rosettes on the bottom.  Next time I'll definitely do something stiffer.

    A peek inside:

    This next one was Azure Miss Mae's 2nd birthday cake (more on that coming soon?!):

    She is dog obsessed.  I *wanted* to do a GO, DOG, GO! cake, but this one with simple figures won out for the sake of time.  The recipe was a a mint cake (two very odd ingredients that I promise you can't taste) that I found here (and loved). 

    And I have to say I loved doing this one I finished & delivered yesterday.  The glitter, the fondant fabric folding...brought me back to my childhood days of designing barbie clothes with scraps of cloth. 

    Small cakes can be stunning. I just need to keep reminding myself!