Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Blogus Interruptus

I realize that quite some time has passed since my last post. I have a really good reason for it.

A) I've been abducted by Aliens.

B) I've been brainwashed by watching Real Housewives and have been spending all my time striving to attain a perfect complexion, radiant hair, and a surgically-enhanced body.

C) My motivation to blog was abducted, by forces or spirits unknown to me.

If you guessed C, you are correct. I really don't have a good reason for the blog-break. It's not that I didn't have things to say or post, I just went through a time that I didn't feel like sharing it I be completely honest.

The next few months will be bring me many changes in the routine I have come to know. Tomorrow I send my 5-year old daughter off to Kindergarten (commence whimpering here). Sunday I turn 42 (commence sobbing here). After that, I am looking at weaning out of my current job, becoming a stay-at-home momma to our 2-1/2 year old, and remodeling garage space into a licensed kitchen so I can do what I love to do...legally.

When the day comes that I say goodbye to my outside job, I know that certain doors will close for me. I also know that doors to many possibilities await, and for that I am so excited. And nervous. And scared. But mostly piddle-in-my-pants excited. Although nowadays, after babies, it doesn't take excitement for that to happen...

So, I look forward to writing about the changes that will be happening...sharing my experiences and my thoughts good and bad.


If you answered A) were not completely wrong. Aliens did abduct my chest and replace it with a droopy fit-for-National-Geographic one.

If you answered B)'s true I can't stop watching that trainwreck of a show, but I assure you my attempts at physical perfection don't go much past wiping kid-goob off my hands, my shirt, my hair...etc.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


On one of my favorite cake sites, there's this saying when referring to someones ability to make and decorate (and get paid for) a cake (or cookie, or cake ball, etc. etc.). It goes something like "well, it is after all only flour and eggs and sugar...". It's kind of a running joke, when customers come into a cake shop to inquire about a cake for an event, want it completely custom tailored to said event...and then gasp at the cost stating to the price-quoter "'s only flour, eggs, sugar, etc!".

In the age of Ace of Cakes, Cake Boss, Cake Challenges, Wedding Cake Shows, etc., custom cakes have become the big trend. With the media exposure, products have lined store shelves shouting "Buy me! YOU can decorate!"

...and people do. Then they're shocked and frustrated at just how un-easy it really is. It really isn't just flour and eggs and sugar.

My point? That's how my next set of cookies came about...

My dearest roommate from college emailed me awhile back and asked if I could share my recipes for my sugar cookies and icing. Her friend was getting married, lived in Tennessee, wedding was in Oregon (we're in Cali). So she was sending the friend a "shower in a box" since there really wasn't going to be a bridal shower, and wanted to include some cookies decorated in bridal/wedding/whathaveyou theme.

Now I wasn't sure about my old roomie's cookie experience. I know there was baking of chocolate chip cookies here and there in college...but decorating? Don't think there's much on the resume. In addition...she has twins. Four-year old twins. Enough said.

I told her why don't I just do the cookies for the occasion...I haven't really done much decorating to bridal/wedding themes, so it would be good practice for me.

With some basic info about the wedding and bride to be in hand, these came about...

My version of the "Something Old..."

geeeeeeezlouise I hate that some white got yellow splotches. UGH!


Based off of her wedding dress design...


A Cake (duh...). Wedding colors are burgundy and copper.
Couldn't quite get the handle on a copper color

A ring. You can't see all the purty sparkles, but they're there...

Wedding date...

For funsies...

Getting married at a winery...

More for funsies...

and for real funsies...

this is a warning to you.

these are more appropriate for a bachelorette party.

are you at least 18?

this is your last warning!

told you.

I had a blast making all of these! We decided that I should just send them up when they are together for the wedding in Washington. My friend has not seen these yet...she'll see them tomorrow. I really wish I could see their faces when they open these...because that truly is a big part of what this whole hobby/love/obsession is about for me.

Not the flour, the eggs, or even the sugar ;)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Birthday party...for four!

October is great month around here...the weather is starting to cool off from the 100+ degree days, and the overall feeling of fall creeps in. The only problem is that the weather can still be unpredictable. A few days before this birthday party it was warm and sunny; perfect weather for an outdoor celebration at a park under nice big oak trees offering shade. Not so much when it's windy with grey clouds scattered around the sky above. Not so much when that wind is provoking the oak tree's branches, swaying above the celebration, hurling leaves, grit, and the occasional small branch at the unsuspecting party goers below.

Now, whenever I have an event to bake/decorate for I have this vision in my head what the end product will look like, setup and all. I think all bakers do actually. Especially for a first-timer, I want to take extra care in making things perfect...because, you know, there's that first impression thing and all.

A client of mine was having his 4th birthday party...along with his brother and two sisters. Yep, a set of quads. It was a fire truck theme, and while mom had a more extravagant idea in her head, I already had obligations to bake for my preschooler's fall festival at school. We settled on cupcakes, instead of a 2-tier party cake, with custom fire trucks on top of each for the birthday kids and chocolate flames for the rest of the guests.

When I got to the park, there was sprinkle of rain here and there, but the wind was sure swirling around. I asked the mom where she wanted me to set up....looking around she pointed to the end of a picnic table.


I had made a cupcake tower for all the treats to sit upon...and if it had been a flat tabletop...with no would have worked well and looked great! I knew right away it wasn't gonna happen. So, the tower was sectioned off into 3 bases...and carefully arranged on the picnic table area that had the least amount of board-tilt. Still, once I got everything arranged and in it's place, tree-droppings would come not-so-wafting-like-a-feather downward...and take an unwelcome place on top of some frosting. The crowd of onlookers smiled and and gave me a non-verbal "oh well, what're you gonna do?".

So I finished up, as best as I could, thought "oh well" and scurried away...hoping that things would stay put until it was time to eat them. Also hoping that people would search their cupcakes for fallen debris before taking a bite.

The Display:

Not at all what I envisioned...but better than a tower of cupcakes crashing down!

Gumpaste Fire Trucks. Birthday kid's cupcakes are sitting on fire truck favor boxes I found at a party store.

I heard afterward that everything turned out great and everyone enjoyed the cupcakes very much...whew!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lil Buckaroo

Sorry for the lack in posting...projects have gotten the better of me, as well as playing with my new Silhouette!

Here's a "Lil Buckaroo" cake I did for a baby shower, to go along with the invitation. It was the first cake I did using my Silhouette cutter package from Linda McClure of Deseret Designs. Her instructional DVD is fabulous and it helped out so much in the process.

The cake is a 10" bottom and 8" top. Iced with buttercream and covered in homemade white chocolate fondant. One is filled with a cheesecake mousse and the other is a raspberry mousse. The paisley-bandana print is royal icing. The rope is gumpaste/fondant, as are the cow-prints. I made the rope tassels using this clay gun. Don't bother with a plastic-push extruder...they are a piece of you-know-what.

The cowboy is cut out using my Silhouette, with details added in with my edible ink pens. The writing is iced in royal.

The top cake, well, it almost didn't make the event. The cakes were loaded separately in the car, and when I got there the top had slid about halfway off of it's base...

Thankfully, it moved as one and I carefully just pushed it back into place. Sometimes buttercream "glue" just can't be trusted.

 ::making mental note to always use melted chocolate::

::and also to not forget my camera::

Also requested for the baby shower were bandana-print cookies:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Evil Weevils

This post has absolutely nothing to do with cakes. Or cookies. It has to do with kitchen reorganization. is nicer to bake and decorate cakes and cookies with a clean, organized kitchen, so given that, this post may be very related!

Have you ever been confronted with a pantry weevil? They are pesky little critters. They are usually brought into the house through an already infested grain product. Lovely, eh?

"Rice and granary weevils are harmless to people, houses, furniture, clothing and pets. They cannot bite or sting and they do not carry diseases. They will not feed on furniture, the house structure or other items. The harm they do is destruction of the seeds they infest and the annoyance of being in the wrong place."

Annoyance is an understatement. Highly irritating...that's a bit more on track. Every time I see one I just want to squish it's little guts out. Fortunately, they're very teeny tiny, so the guts *really* don't squish...

I discovered weevils in our pantry probably about 2 years ago. Since then I've been on a non-stop mission to rid my house of them, every so often clearing and cleaning out the pantry, only to have them return time and time again. Or maybe they never ever really went away...they were just hiding in some crevice waiting for me to restock the grains and reproduce.

A couple months ago I hit my wall with them. I was so sick and tired of seeing them around. It was time for drastic measures!

I came across a site which I cannot for the life of me find anymore. This mom not only organized her pantry, but she painted and decorated it. It was beautiful. I was awestruck by how tidy it looked. Then and there I decided I was just going to bite the bullet and spend money on some good quality, air-tight containers. The ones I currently had *claimed* to be, but those little weevil suckers have always found their way inside.

Now. Before I show you the before picture of my pantry, allow me to put on extra neutral caked-on makeup. You know, to hide the blushing from embarrassment.

:Deeeeep Breathe:

Here it goes....

Geez. I feel like I'm exposing myself in my bra and panties...

 Now, just my bra...

 Now, just my panties.

If I was wearing any.

(just kidding. really.)

Okay. Now I am totally naked.

Are you happy?

I have bared myself for the sake of blogging...

Whew. I'm glad that's over!

I got started by first buying air-tight containers. I pretty much stuck with 4 different kinds of containers:

Good Grips by OXO:
POP Containers:

Acrylic Canisters:

Click-Clack Canisters. My personal favorite.
No teeny tiny critter is getting past the seal of these suckers!

The next step was to empty out the ENTIRE cluster of the pantry. I was dreading this. I kept putting it off. For weeks after I bought the containers, literally. Finally one day I just grabbed a big garbage can and went to work. I threw out anything I haven't touched in awhile...or didn't think I wanted anymore. Anything that was expired of course was out. Then of course, anything that even had one teeny weeny critter in it. It was gone.

I took the trash out right after I was done...I didn't want to chance any of those things getting out. Next I got my shop vac and sucked every nook and cranny of that pantry. Lastly, the whole pantry got wiped down and cleaned.

Next came packaging up the containers. Every grain got a home, many packages got opened and dumped into a container. Cans were racked, and bottles were lazy-susaned. I really wanted to label, which my husband disagrees even needs to be done. I agree that some things are clear-cut, like pasta and rice...but whey powder? Cornmeal? Pancake mix? I would really not like a cornmeal shake, thank you very much.

So labeling is to come. I couldn't wait to just get everything back on the shelves, and off my counters.

Are you ready?

I give you...

My Organized Pantry!

Now, for some things I did leave them in their packaging and in bins vs. containers. Over the years I have noticed things like the mac n cheese and granola bars go undisturbed.

I've kept a watchful eye on the shelves and walls since doing this, and although I've squished seen a few weevils here and there, they are for the most part...GONE!

I guess in the end, the little critters were a good thing, because I never would have done this. My pantry would have gone on looking like a big crumpled mess, and things would disappear and expire even before being used. Now, I have a clean, organized pantry that I am not ashamed to show...that I don't have to keep locked out of embarrassment! I've even showed it off! Heck, our fish-tank guy even took pictures to show his wife for inspiration!

So next comes the labeling. I want to keep things non-permanent (ie, no stickers that can't be peeled off), and I want them aesthetically pleasing to the eye, preferably clear. I think vinyl is the way to go, but I have no clue about it. Post-It has come out with new peel-off label-type of pads, but they're bright colors. I don't really want to order custom made ones, because I want to be able to whip a new one out if I put something else in the pantry. I do have a label maker...I will have to check the fonts on it and maybe succumb to that...but if anyone has any brilliant ideas, I would love to hear them!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Recent Sweets~~~

Here's a few projects I've finished in the last couple of weeks...

Ladybug cookie bites to go along with this flower pot I found at a local Hallmark...

Hunting and golf themed for my FIL's birthday...

Dinosaur train, cupcakes, and gumball machine for
my friend's 4-year old twin's birthday...

Close-up of "Buddy"

Cupcake close up!

One of the twin's personalized cookies...
the square is a peanut-butter cut out cookie;
the J's are cookie bites...

A duck-themed cake for a 1-year old birthday girl...

The bottom cake is a "column" cake I tried out for the first time. It's 2 - 8" cakes stacked on top of each other (each on a cake board for support), the top is a 6", then covered in fondant. I really like the look of the added height!

Some cookies I added for the duck-themed birthday...

...and these are just for funsies...

"Peek-a-boo" Baby cutter bought from ecrandal.
I can't wait to play around more with this cutter!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spinning Leaf Molds & Chocolate Transfer Sheets

For awhile now I've wanted to try out chocolate transfer sheets. They look like a fun way to jazz up decorating projects and turn an otherwise ho-hum deliciscious treat into a oh-yum cute treat.

I found out about Spinning Leaf cookie molds on my go-to site for ideas, Cake Central. Their company has molds for chocolate, soap and most importantly...cookies! After reading about them, I had to try them out right away. Ordering was a breeze...and can I just tell you about their customer service? They broke the mold (har har...pun intended) for how to do business. Quick to respond, and so, so nice!

Having a couple birthday cookie projects coming up, I thought it was a perfect time to experiment with the molds and transfer sheets!

I'm sorry I didn't start taking pics from the beginning, but I'll explain where I started...

Let me introduce you to the cookie mold
(and my nubby thumb)~~~~~~~

Six-pack design, sized perfectly for regular Oreo-sized cookies (but they make ones for Oreo minis too! How cute is that!). This is the standard cookie mold, but they have a whole bunch of other molds in their collection. Hearts, faces, Halloween-themed, Christmas-themed. You get the idea, endless possibilities...go and take a looksie for yourself!

Next comes the part without I took my chocolate transfer sheets, which are about 11x14, and cut a strip width-wise the same as my cookie circles. Be careful handling them because the design can be rubbed off with your fingers. Place the strip, design side UP on wax paper. Melt some chocolate of choice (I used chocolate almond bark), and...

Spread it thinly on top of the transfer sheet:

Now, careful when you are spreading to not push the melted chocolate around too much. You basically want to smear it on, and leave what has already touched the design surface alone. Too much smearing will make the transfer sheet design rub/smear off.

I know this, because of experience...

See how the lettering is a little rubbed off?

(FYI, I did that on purpose just to prove how not to do it...mmmkay?)

Let that harden up a bit.

Next, you get a circle cutter. I happen to have one that is *just about* the perfect size, and it has an added bonus I'll show in a minute. It's about 1-34/" diameter...

Place it over your firm chocolate and press down to cut the circle out

There she is. Smudged letters and all.

Now, place it over the empty cookie mold cavity. The added bonus of my special circle cutter? It has an edge that allows it to sit down perfectly into my mold.

Lovely. Just lovely.

Next, take a sharp knife and gently push around the edges. It should just easily fall into the bottom of the mold. If it doesn't, then give it a little help with your finger. Don't one will see the fingerprint mark you leave on the chocolate; the evidence will be covered up!


The underside:

Letter smudges and all.

Now for the fill.

Get your supplies.

I used Oreo Double Stuff (shown) and Oreo PEANUT BUTTER. Salivating yet?

Chocolate for melting.
I used Merckens, but any will do.

I melted my chocolate in a disposable icing bag. So handy for squeezing into the mold cavities, and clean up is easy peasy.

Snip off the end of the icing bag and squeeze the melted chocolate right into the cavities

Now, I know what you are seeing thinking. I thought it too. So, quickly get that cookie and smush down any crappy visuals you may be having of that chocolate swirl.


Smoosh it down so that the top of the cookie is below, not flush, with the top of the cavity.

Then top of each cavity with more melted chocolate

Pick up the entire mold and give it some taps on the counter to settle the cookie and allow any air bubbles to come to the surface.

If needed, add a little more melted chocolate. I did. You want enough on top to be able to scrape it flush. Kind of like you want a little extra on top when measuring flour or sugar in a cup.

Time to scrape. I use a small plastic bench scraper.

Now, when I scrape I like to do a couple passes, and I go in a square-pattern.

1...along the length
2...along each bottom
3...along the other length

Flushed and finished!

Now it sits in the fridge to firm up. Doesn't take long.

I used the wait time to color some black royal icing. In doing so, had a little incident with the black coloring gel. The gel won.

As evidenced in it under my fingernails. Really. It's not dirt.

So after messing up my kitchen more, I took a mold out, turned it over, gave a very easy press on the cookie, and out it came!

Without much pressure or convincing!

Not too shabby!

One of these pretty little numbers just had to be sacrificied.

Poor thing.

Of course, I had to sample it. You know, to make sure it was edible for the recipients and all.

A Double Stuff may or may not have been sampled as well.

Have you done cookie molds?
Chocolate transfers?

Let me know your experiences and tips!