Monday, February 28, 2011

All Hail the Paint Gods

As a religious person I say that joking. Please do not stike me with lighting!
Wonderful Hubby and I had the energy/ time to do a project this weekend that was being put off for a reason. Most of the walls in our house are dry wall covered in plaster. The pattern texture is quite nice and shows that the house is a bit older, you just don't see that in newer houses. Probably because plaster doesn't give and we seem to have a few cracks here and there. Lucky while tackling the project of fixing the big ones you can see the cracks don't go past the plaster. The reason this project had been put off for so long, it is a chain reaction. These certain walls I speak of have no break, like a door way, they all connect. This means that you can't just repair and paint wall 'A', because the new white shows that the old white is about 10 years old! I am not sure you can call it white after comparing it to a new white. so wall 'B' that needed no repair had to be painted, then wall 'C' that had a repair connected to wall 'D' and so on until my living room and dinning room got new paint. Luckily the ceiling has a nice break/ edge, where shadowing doesn't show the difference in color unless really looking for it. So it is good enough for us!
A few weeks ago Wonderful Husband and I had picked out a nice tan/ beige color for the dinning room called waves of grain. I suggested in his first run to the small hardware store to look at the shelf of 'oops' paint. He brought home a $5 bucket of paint that is so close to the color of our sample, you could have guessed it was the right color!
As nice as that luck is, it really wouldn't have made a big difference in the long run since the room prior to new paint was just old white.
However in the 'nursery' there was a couple spots that needed fixing but the room had recently been done. In fact thanks to my wonderful family the room was decorated and painted prior to the arrival of Big Girl J. They did a wonderful job. Kept it neutral like I requested, however being pregnant when they asked to do this and needing to fix a spot. I was not as quick as I needed to be in finishing the wall prior to painting. I think over time and lack of watching DIY network prior to this, my drywall patching was less than mediocre. So in a trip to the larger hardware store we found a great creamy yellow on their 'oops' shelf for yet another $5.
Now Wonderful Husband grew up in an awfully colored room of gross yellow and green shag. He currently has a 'thing' again yellow. So getting him to agree to a $5 can of yellow made it easier to not need to repaint the entire room! However, how is it possible to get the right match off an 'oops' shelf? Apparently very!

Please excuse the darkness of the picture, but if you look at the wall directly below the center of the window you can see the difference of color, it is more dramatic here because the new yellow is still wet.
In this picture I have not edged the corner and only touched a couple spots on the wall to the left, and had completely painted the right wall.

I am very glad this was such a good match. I was tired from the weekend project and had a hard time getting Opal to nap in mommy's bed for nap and really wanted to let her sleep in her own room that evening! It was nice to have a project without surprises, excluding the surprise of matching paint!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pea in the Pod

I recently helped throw a baby shower for a dear friend of mine. Recently as in yesterday!
I offer to help throw the party to about everyone I know who is expecting, due to how much fun I have planning and putting on a party. Makes since I love my Pampered Chef business so much!
I offered my help to my dear friend and she took my up on the offer, saying her mom was in much need of help to plan a baby shower. It seems when her mom was asked if she was going to throw the party the mom starred at her and asked "can we serve beer"? Of course I was thrilled, and her mom was thrilled to have help.
When my dear friend was over for a football game, we talked about a theme and googled a few ideas. We decided on 'pea and a pod' and she offered to just place the order for the cheesy 'flyer' style invites all pre-printed and boring. I am not one to be excited for that style when I am involved. I really like to make my own, I don't know that they really look better, but I just need a reason to use all my scrap booking and card making items. If I don't use them for that, I won't be able to buy new stamps and paper anymore! I don't have a picture of the invites anymore, however I had three peas in a pod on the front, one pea had a simple smiley face. The wording said "Peas join us, before the Peas joins us!"
The funny thing about that wording is that the said 'pea' joined us two weeks before the baby shower! She was between 4 and 5 weeks early. However considerably healthy, she was able to breathe on her own, and ate very well. Baby got to go home a week after surprising her parents. Sweet baby was very small and needed to be kept away from large groups of people and children for 4 to 6 weeks, so baby didn't attend her own shower, but mommy got to have a drink at the shower. And she was excited about that, understandably from the stress she had dealt with over the past two weeks!
I helped plan the simple and fun games, no melted candy bars in the diaper game, I really do not like that game! One game was blindfold diaper changing (on dolls.) The best part of this game is once the new mom was blindfolded, we changed out her 'average' sized baby doll, for a very large over sized bunny stuffed animal. Her reaction was very entertaining!
The new grandma had purchased many Pea in the Pod decorations and baggies. And I was asked, or maybe I begged, to make the cake. We decide on a two tiered cake, bottom flavor of chocolate cake with strawberries and butter cream filling, top tier was a strawberry cake with chocolate ganache filling. This is the first cake I have made that I got to eat with the group! I did enjoy being able to eat the cake.
I have kept you in suspense long enough, here is the cake. I am quite proud of it. I did have to get creative to cover up some spots where my fondant job was less than perfect, but I think I hid it quite well!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Who Plays with Diapers for FUN!?

So I am helping put together a baby shower. I think I may have mentioned this already, however, if I have not, then let me tell you that I am helping put together a baby shower. I enjoy this kind of stuff. Planning get together. Maybe that is why I enjoy Pampered Chef, I can do those fun get together with out making my friends get together every month. Because it is hard enough, now that we all have kids, to even get two of us together at a time.
I am doing two cakes for this baby shower. The first cake is edible, strawberry cake with gnache filling and chocolate cake with strawberry filling.  The second cake is not exactly edible but usable. A diaper cake! I have read the Internet instructions and have seen the prices of what people charge. I should be charging more for the edible cakes if people can charge that for a cake made of diapers.
These cakes are super easy. However it seems to require a few more hands than what a normal human may have. Thanks to Wonderful Husband's hands (hehe) I was able to put this together quite easy and quick.
They do take a consider amount of diapers and just as many rubber bands. Since I am not sure who all reads this blog and who will be a the shower, I can not say how many diapers because that is one of the games.
When I met with the new mom's mom, to finish planning the shower. She showed me the two tiered diaper cake she purchased online with the rest of the pea in a pod decorations. She was a bit disappointed in how small the two tiered cake was. Her plan to stuff it with many fun baby items was stifled. Remembering seeing the instructions online and thinking, "that is silly easy," I offered to add to the existing cake.
If you want to make your own and keep it white, Pampers is the way to go, size 1 or 2, I used size 1, and the pre-made cake used size 2. Not a big difference in size when using them this way. If you want color and know diapers then you can buy accordingly to the patterns on the diaper. The 2nd tier on this cake was made from a size 3 diaper 'donated' by a friend who no longer has needs for that size. The purple stripe was un-avoidable with out turning the diaper inside out. But this will be covered so easily with a receiving blanket.
Back to how to make the cake. Roll each diaper and bind with a rubber band. You can use hair ties if the cake is for a baby girl. An empty paper towel roll works great for the middle and keeps the layers together. Shove a diaper in the roll and place 6 diapers around the roll. Tie with string or ribbon, this tie needs to be practical not decorative. Tie tight. This is where the other hands come in handy, one for keeping the diapers upright while getting the string in place and a finger to hold the knot tight. Then add out and up as desired. The six diapers around the center diaper is a perfect size for the top tier.
I will finish the edible cake tomorrow, but I am a little over booked for the next few days. So I will post the cake when I get a moment.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fondant Fun

This week is another busy week. Packed with fun, two cooking shows, a baby shower I am helping put together, a preschool field trip, and now a sick toddler who I think may have shared her bug with her big sister. They share so wonderfully.... sometimes.
For the baby shower, this Saturday, I am making two cakes. A diaper cake and an edible cake. This is my first adventure in the diaper cake category. I feel it was a success. I have decided to go into further detail on how to make that tomorrow.
Today I made tasty fondant. Really, it is very tasty. It isn't the tasteless box stuff you can buy at most places, although if you use flavor oils you can make it taste better. It is a very simple recipe (thanks to google.) I don't know what website I got the recipe from but there are many places that show this recipe, and now I will share it as well.
1 2lb bag of powdered sugar
1 bag of mini marshmallows
3 tbsp of water
that is it. If you take the time to make it, it is much cheaper. There are other recipes, but this is the most basic.

Take your bag of marshmallows and dump it into a microwave safe bowl with 3 tbsp of water, then nuke for a minute. Stir, then nuke about 30 more seconds, but be sure to watch it or it will make one heck of a sticky mess in the microwave, trust me, I learned this lesson.

Then begin to add the powdered sugar. Little by little. Once it gets to stiff to stir in the bowl dump it out on the counter with a coat of powdered sugar on the counter. Then kneed the rest of the powdered sugar into the marshmallows.
And Vala! Fondant! Just wrap in Saran wrap and let sit for at least an hour to overnight. When you are ready to use it, nuke for 10 to 15 secs to make it workable.
I actually made two batches today for the baby shower cake. I also attempted to make some of the cake but I managed to mess that up, so both attempts collapsed in the middle and ended up in the trash. So now I have to make all the cakes tomorrow. Without messing them up. Because people will actually eat this one.
Speaking of no one eating cake, this is my finished cake for last weekends competition. I got no feed back, so I don't know how bad they really thought it was. Please no comments on how much you like it, I was happy with it, however I was completely out of my league on this one. The cakes that won deserved to win and I am happy for them. Including my step sister who won 3rd.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


There are a couple problems with having snack food in this house. First is that I have no self control when it comes to junk food, mainly sweets. Second, neither does Big Girl J. She may have gotten that from me.
I don't usually buy chips to go with lunches. For some reason I did a couple weeks back. Since we usually have gold fish or wheat thins or an orange with lunch, this one bag of Cheetos has lasted two weeks. For that I am proud of myself. If I really caved to my weaknesses that bag could have been gone with in hours. I also don't usually buy sweets because I really have no will power towards that evilness. However I bought a box of rice crispy treats to be part of my cake. I only used two from a box of 8 or 10. I have really tried to keep away from them, except for that one that I ate the other night. Anyways, when the girls eat well I have offered them after they are done with their food. It isn't a bribe for finishing their plate it is a treat for being good at the table.
Yesterday, the girls are eating PB&J and the last of the Cheetos. The bag is thrown away, any left on the plates will be tossed, not eaten by me. I already had some.
Little Miss O hands me her plate, empty. Actually she threw it off the table, but we are working on that. So to keep them busy while I finish cleaning the kitchen, I give her one of the said treats. Now, my mistake, Big Girl J still has 7 Cheetos left on her plate, but no longer wants them now, that the treats have come out. So I put one on the furthest corner of the table from her. I told her to finish her Cheetos and she can have one. I turn around to put Little Miss O's plate in the dish washer, and turn back around to see Big Girl J with only one cheeto left on her plate. And Little Miss O has 6 Cheetos on her plate.
I just stand there, trying not to laugh out loud. I keep my composure, and ask, "Really?!"
Now Big Girl J stares at me, with a wonderful, 'what are you talking about' smile on her face. As I continue to stare at her, waiting for a real response, she just stares back.
All the while Little Miss O is eating away at the Cheetos.
Big Girl J finally speaks up and says, "She likes Cheetos."
I decide to make a very important decision that would make the rest of my day or ruin the rest of the day. I gave her the treat and walked away.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Progress... I think

The cakes have been baked, the icing has been made. The cake boards have been assembled. The candy light bulbs have been molded and the visions of cake hitting the ground in a parking garage by the convention center has flashed through my mind about once an hour, for the last week.
Alas, I started to cut, trim and assemble the cakes. I found with a blog, using a google search for 'star cakes', that demonstrated how to make the shape with two circle cakes. So I will show you since I cannot tell you what blog it was that showed me. First make two round cakes of the same size. In my pictures they are double stacked so I have made 4 cakes for each level. Translates to 12 cakes total, I would say yum, but we are not doing a calorie break down. That was just gross.
Back to your round cakes. Take the first cake and cut it into 8 pie pieces. Like so:
Mmmmm, Pie.
Then trim the round edges and make them triangles. Next take the un-cut cake, and make it an octagon. Just trim the round off the outside, don't cut too far into the cake if you want to keep the size. Then put your triangles trimmed sides to the octagon trimmed sides.
Special note, making a star this way give plenty of extra snacking pieces of cake for the baker!
Then use your icing as glue to hold it all together. Then ice!
But prior to icing the cake you will want to color your icing. This is easy to do in the blender while making your icing, unless you have 9 batches of icing in a 5 gallon bucket. Then you will need to use a concrete mixing drill attachment and an electric drill.

Thanks to Wonderful Husband for mixing, although I think he really wanted to be the first to use the mixing bit, icing or concrete.
Of course icing is much thicker than concrete, or can be, and was. The picture I should have got was the smoke billowing out of tired drill, that was laid to rest in a snow bank after the mixing was done.
Next, first layer of butter cream.
Side note, Gaynell the butter cream icing is just what it is called. technically speaking you don't have to use Crisco, you can use butter, or butter flavored Crisco. Although it tastes better with the butter flavor, for the sake of color the plain Crisco is best.

I really like the technique I have decided to use. It really cuts down on the need to make the icing perfect. I actually need it very thick and messy! This is also a good thing when I messed up the cut on one of the small cake. Just a little bit of tricky trimming and the extra icing and fixed! Of course that is an easy fix because I know that no-one will be eating this cake. That has also help me slip back into the bad habit of licking my fingers....

Monday, February 7, 2011

Butter Creamy!

The time has come. The days are ticking by. The cake needs to come together, tomorrow. Today however was for the icing. Time to dig into the 6lb bucket of Crisco. Time to break into the 25lb bag of powdered sugar. Time to test my blender.
I am using the basic Wilton butter cream recipe.
1 cup Crisco
2 tbsp milk or water
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb Powder Sugar (roughly 4 cups)
1 tbsp meringue powder  
I was able to do 3 batches at once in the blender. Then I dumped it into a 5 gallon bucket. In total I put 9 batches into the bucket. This will be the dark green base color and the glue to hold the cake together.
Like my models?
I made 5 more batches for the lighter color that will be the thinner top layer.
I will need the bucket to color this batch also, but the dark green needs to be done first, as in tomorrow. If you look close, but not too close you will see a small child licking a beater in the background, the giant mess that comes with mixing this much icing. But now if you look very close, by the blender, toward the edge of the counter, notice that very clean spot. Like maybe a little tongue 'cleaned' that area that had some powdered sugar dusting.

And of course after each batch, the question was asked, "Can I lick the beaters?" "Not yet," I said multiple times, to which the response was "Are we ever going to be able to lick them?"
This was only a 2 hour project from start to cleaned up, but to them it was pretty much a week of torment.
I had been trying to do the math on how much icing I really need to make. When I got to the second to last batch and realized I was going to run out of Crisco soon, I decided that would be a good stopping point.

Yum. 6 pounds of lard. 110 calories per 1 tablespoon, about 227 tablespoons in the container. Plus the 14 pounds of powered sugar. 467 calories per 1 cup, unsifted. 4 cups to a pound. 56 cups. That is only 26,152 calories from powdered sugar. Plus the 24,970 calories from the Crisco, it's only 51,122 calories in all that butter cream frosting. YUM! Of course you can take out the 200 I probably took in by licking my fingers randomly!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Preparation and Supplies

The cake competition is right around the corner, one week and one day away. Unless you read this tomorrow then is will just be one week, of course if you read this next week it will be less.
I have been buying supplies, stocking up. Knowing I have planned a very large cake. We not talking Cake Boss type of cakes. This will be quite mediocre in comparison to professional cakes, and should not be compared to what you see on TV.  But it is a cake I have envisioned, thought about, and built in my head for over 3 months. Now it is time to start putting all the supplies together and see what happens.
When making cakes for friends or my family, I try to make a cake from scratch. Good flavors, real fruit, internet recipes... Since this cake will require 12 different cakes, and will not be eaten, but simply on display for a weekend. Or crumbled on the driveway... a fear I have. A few weeks ago the store had a sale on box cake mix. A buck a box. Works for me!
I actually bought 12 boxes, but have determine I will only need 8. But I bet I can use all of the boxes with the mess ups that are bound to happened. Like dropping cake on the floor or forgetting them in the oven.

The on-going pre-cooking project has been the candy light bulbs.
I bought the light bulb candy molds online, they accidentally sent two. I am thankful for that now that I have been making these little candies for about a week. This is a first for me. I bought the bottles I thought I needed for this project, to help me squeeze the melted candy into the small molds. However these cheap little bottles didn't have a secure cap. The bottle flex too much for having one turn for the lid to be secure. I had many experiments on filling the cavities that ended with me flustered and with a mess. The caps popped off too easy with a little pressure. A couple days ago I used the last of the ketchup shortly after actually breaking one of the bottles. Then it happened. My Ah Ha moment. I cleaned the ketchup bottle and combined the soy sauce bottles and ditched the cheap annoyances. The last couple days I have made very good progress on what I was considering a bad idea. Now I am happy with them again.
This last weekend I went to Sam's club with wonderful husband for his work needs. I looked for more supplies. A 25lb bag of powdered sugar and a 6lb tub of Crisco. Hello butter cream frosting, to be mixed 2 batches at a time in a small kitchen mixer. But will need to be colored all at once, probably in a five gallon bucket, with a mixing drill bit. Wonderful husband recently bought one for concrete, however, that has not been used, yet.

Oh yeah, I will need most of it... Hopefully not more than that. I do not have the set up for this quantity of cake!