Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Sweetest Little Girl in the Whole Wide World


Monday was a teacher inservice day, so the kids got a day off. I was doing laundry when Christian brought up (again!) her allowance... or lack thereof.

Hubs and I don't believe in just handing out money. If the kids want money, we believe they should earn it. There is a prevailing entitlement issue in this country today, and we'd like to do our part in breaking it.

She asked if she could mop the floor for an allowance. "Mop," meaning to wet-swiffer it after I sweep.

I told her that Hubs and I would discuss it. I mentioned that there are some things she would be expected to do, as a contributing member of this family, regardless of an allowance.

She clarified, "You mean like cleaning my room? And putting my dishes in the sink?"

"That's right," I said.

As she was mopping, she began to grumble, "I don't like cleaning my room."

I responded (as I was conquering the mountain of clean laundry) that I didn't like folding clothes, or washing them, or ironing them, or putting them away, or wiping counters, or doing dishes, or changing diapers, or putting away clutter, but that I was expected to do those things... without compensation.

She kind of giggled at that. "Mom, you're a grown-up. Grown-ups don't get paid for that stuff."

I said, "That's right. We don't. We have to do lots of things we don't like to do, and we don't get paid for it. We do it because it has to be done."

She thought for a minute, and put the swiffer down and walked over to me.

She pulled change out of her pocket; change that she had found earlier, and asked if she could keep. She counted it out; it came to fourteen cents.

She took my hand, and put the change in my palm.

"I know it's not much, Mom, but I want you to have it."

Tears filled my eyes.

Tears, for this sweetest of girls.

I hugged her tightly, and told her how much I love her, how thankful I am for her, and what a sweet, thoughtful person she is.

Today, that money found its way back to her piggy bank.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kobe Bryant/Lakers Cake

Today I delivered a cake to a church reception hall. It was a groom's cake, and is the very first wedding cake I have agreed to do.

I'm not sure if I'll agree to do another!

I get sooooooo freaked out, and stress so much over whether or not they'll like it, and I worry that some cake-related tragedy will occur on or immediately before the Big Day. It makes me want to crawl under the table and suck my thumb. But since I already have three thumb-suckers, I usually don't do that.
On the way to the hall, my palms started to sweat, and my heart was skipping beats. Hubs was yammering on and on about something, but I couldn't think of anything except that newborn baby riding in the back with no seat belt, its little soft spots vulnerable to bumps. The newborn baby that was my cake, that is.

The bride, if you remember, is the nurse who assisted my doc in the OR the day I had my surgery. Which is not embarrassing or uncomfortable at all, given the fact that she's seen my nether regions. Or not.

She told me that her groom loves the Lakers, Kobe Bryant in particular, and asked if I could do something paying homage to his favorite team. She wanted a fun, non-traditional cake. She e-mailed me a few pictures of his loves: his bride, of course, his dog, his new truck, and his DC hat. So this is what I came up with:
Kobe Bryant was sweet enough to autograph a basketball and jersey for me.
He also quite graciously gave me two courtside tickets for Tuesday night's game against the Clippers. At $1200 each, I'd say that's a pretty nice addition to the cake, eh? You can see today's date on the ticket. Pretty sweet that he ordered them on the day of their wedding, huh?

Or maybe I just made a couple of tickets on the computer and printed them with edible ink on edible paper. Maybe I just made and signed the basketball and jersey myself, too.

Anyway, here's the groom's hat and beverage of choice done in sugar. The bottle is poured sugar (my first attempt at sugar work) and the label is an edible image.

And what sporting event is complete without buttery popcorn? Hubs saw some of this drying on the counter one morning, and wasn't sure if it was real or not. He said he was confused because he didn't smell popcorn, but it looked so real he had to ask. FYI, it doesn't taste like popcorn. Just to the left of the popcorn is a picture of the groom's dog on a keychain, with a key to his new Ford truck. All edible, of course.

This cake was GIGANTIC. It was two (three layers each) fourteen inch squares, stacked one on top of the other. Which means there are six fourteen inch layers behind that fondant. They're rich chocolate cake, filled and iced with chocolate ganache. I swear I've gained weight from just breathing the wicked chocolate overload aroma in my house this week.

The mother-of-the-bride came to look at the cake before I left.

Y'all.

She cried.

Which made me cry.

But oh, so happy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

T-Rex Cake

Remember this cake?

Well... the same nurse who ordered that cake asked me to make a T-Rex cake for her son's fourth birthday. She wanted a 3-D T-Rex. I told her I couldn't do it. So then she asked if I could do a 3-D T-Rex head, since her son really loves them, and loves the scary teeth. I said probably not. I really had no idea what to do or where to begin.

So I told her I would do a prehistoric landscape cake, and model a sugar figure of a T-Rex. She said that was fine, and that as long as there was a T-Rex on it, her son would be happy.

Here it is.
Obviously it's not a landscape. Do you think she'll notice?

The head was a 9x13 pan of rice krispy treats. I cut it down and went after it with a knife. The body is cake, and the arms are solid chocolate.
This is my first cake entirely decorated with my airbrush, and it was such a blast! I think this is the tallest cake I've ever done. It's right at sixteen inches.

I put six layers of different colors, some mixed together, to get him to look this way. Then I hand-painted his eyes and his claws. The claws just looked too clean!


Gimme a kiss!


Monday, October 12, 2009

NASCAR Cake

My neighbor's husband (also my neighbor, FYI) had a birthday in mid-August. She asked if I would make his favorite NASCAR driver, Kasey Kahne, out of sugar, standing next to her husband. She wanted them both standing in front of Kasey's car, which would be chocolate cake.

I nervously agreed... what was I thinking???

The day approached, and I got to baking. I got the cake baked and filled and carved and iced... and she called asking if it could be frozen, since she was suffering unbelieveable pain, and her husband was taking her to the ER. She had a rather large kidney stone, and ended up having surgery and staying in the hospital for a few days. Needless to say, the party was postponed.

So after she got better, she called to re-schedule, except it was my turn for surgery.

After I got better, we all got the flu.

Once sickness and disease had been eradicated from our side of the street, we re-settled on a new date for the party.

But nobody could come, since it was opening weekend of dove season and hello? Priorities!

To make a long story longer, the party was this past weekend, and was tons of fun.

And here's the finished cake:
Like I said, the car was chocolate cake, with chocolate ganache, and strawberry puree. It was sooooo good! Especially if you're a chocoholic. Which I am. Which you can probably tell just by looking at me.
But whatever.

His wife doesn't like chocolate cake, so I made another cake for the car to sit on. It was white almond sour cream and strawberry swirl. Also yummy.

I don't know if you can tell, but I actually cut away the fondant to reveal inset windows, just to make it a little more realistic, not that this cake is even in the realm of realistic. So I guess I did it just to make more work and frustration for myself.
I'm good at that. Making more work and frustration for myself, I mean; not making NASCAR cakes. Just in case I wasn't clear on that.
But the windows (and tires and inset grill) were all solid chocolate, so it wasn't just for show.

I was quite excited to get to try out the new toy Hubs got for my birthday... an airbrush! We were both amazed at the difference it made. I airbrushed red on top of the red fondant, and it really gave it a depth it didn't have with just fondant alone. I also airbrushed some black details on the car, and the black cake underneath. Seriously, who wants to eat solid black icing? Not me, so I thought airbrushing the outer layer would help cut down on the black teeth at the party.

They didn't want to cut it, so they made me do it. I asked where they wanted me to start, and they said to start at the front. As soon as the front of the car was gone, my neighbor's husband yelled, "Kasey's hit the wall!" Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened the next day.

Kasey was doing pretty well in Sunday's race (I am not a NASCAR fan, but was secretly rooting for him after having spent more hours than I care to count re-creating him and his car out of sugar!) but it was all over but the crying when he went head-first into the wall.

But dang, his car tasted good.

And, really, that's all that matters. Right?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thankful Thursday

There are many things for which I am thankful today.

This face, and the smell of the head he's grabbing, are two of them.

Ask Christian any time, any where, what my most favorite smell in the whole wide world is, and she'll groan and say, "My heaaaaad."

It's true. When I spent a week in Chicago two years ago (has it really been that long?) and then a few days in Nashville, the first thing I did when I got back was smell my babies' heads.

Yankee Candle Company could make a fortune if they could just capture that smell. Assuming they capture the smell before the kids go outside. After that, they just smell like little puppies.

I'm also thankful for this face:

And for little boys who tee-tee on the potty. As long as they get it in the potty. Because I'm not so thankful when they miss.

FYI, Hubs was the one who intruded on his private time. Although he deserved it. Whenever I would like a little privacy in the bathroom, Cullen barges on in saying, "You need piracy, Mama? You need piracy?" And then proceeds to shut the door, sit down on the floor and talk to me.

Aunt Kelsey? Aunt Kelsey's private time is very soon coming to an end. Just sayin'.

Chubs decided he needed to break-in one of Harrison Walker's new toys at Kelsey's baby shower last weekend.

And I'm thankful that Chubs has aunts and uncles who think he's as precious as we do. Because I think that's precious.

I'm thankful that my kids get to spend time with their Papaw and Uncle. And that they have the opportunity to take a "Three Generations" picture. We'll have to put little Harrison Walker in there soon.

I'm thankful that I have the time to make cakes for the people I love. This was for Kelsey's baby shower.



I'm also thankful that God has granted me a teeny tiny amount of ability to make useless gifts like these:

It's a diaper cake. Which is kind of ironic, considering a diaper is where cake would end up.
So I guess it's kind of like the circle of life.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mmmmm... smells good!

Last night Hubs had to head out of town, so I was on my own with the three maniacs.

Just after he left, I decided to wash the few dishes that were in the sink. I picked up a super-sharp knife I had used earlier to slice cheese for cheese and crackers as an afternoon snack for Thing 1 and Thing 2. And sliced my finger open.

I said a few naughty words as blood came pouring out. I had visions of a late night in the ER dancing in my head. I rinsed it under hot water and started wrapping paper towels around it. With a few minutes of pressure the bleeding stopped, so I continued washing dishes... after I bandaged it, of course.

One was a pan full of caramelized sugar. I've been working on some details for an upcoming cake, and didn't need as much cooked sugar as I had.

So I filled the pan with hot water and set it on the stove to melt away. I washed the last few things and went to catch up on some computer graphics I've been playing around with.

A few minutes later, Christian came to let me know the hallway was full of smoke.

I freaked out.

"What??? Why is the hallway full of smoke???" I asked her.

She said she didn't know, but that the kitchen, living room and dining room were smokey, too.

I jumped up and ran into the kitchen. I realized that I had left the pan boiling on the stove. All the water had boiled away, and the sugar that was left was now a charred, black, bubbled mess. It was disgusting.

I grabbed the pan and ran out the front door, then ran around the house opening doors and windows and turning on fans.

It was quite the aroma, let me tell you.

And the pan! It was a Pampered Chef Professional series. I was pretty sure it was garbage, but I tried to salvage it... by putting more hot water in and setting it on the stove.

This time, I didn't leave it. Each time it boiled, I would empty it out, scrub the bottom a little, and put more boiling water in. Eventually, it all came out.

I know.

This morning, The Smell was still with us.

I have spent the greater part of the day wiping, scrubbing, spraying and disinfecting every hard surface in the house, and Febreeze-ing all the soft surfaces. I have used Lysol, Febreeze spray, Febreeze Wet Swiffers, some frou-frou counter spray (citrus mint ylang-ylang, if you're interested; smells un-bee-leev-a-bul), frou-frou stainless steel spray, six candles (four scents), and even a new air vent air freshener.

I think The Smell has been eradicated.

Some friends came over this afternoon, and the first thing they said was how yummy the house smells. When Christian got hom from school, she also said it smelled good.

The Smell.

It must be lodged in my nasal cavity, because it still lingers.

Yummy.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Something to Call His Own

A couple weeks ago I got an e-mail from a friend. She said she was sending me something in the mail.

Quite honestly, I expected a coupon for diapers, or maybe a picture of a cake she'd seen.

A puffy package arrived a few days later, and I was blown away:

It's a set of burp cloths and car seat strap covers for Chubs!

Cavan hasn't really had much to call his very own. Just about everything he owns has been hand-me-downs from his brother and cousins. Don't feel badly for him; the kid has plenty.

But this! This is brand-spanking-new, and made just for him!

She did an amazing job, and I am quite impressed. The car seat strap covers are reversible, so they can either be saddle-bronc riding cowboys on a blue ground, or cow print. They're cushy and soft, and delicate on his chubby little cheekies. She wrapped them up so cute, with a little ribbon and a baby linking ring that matched the prints. I'm a sucker for pretty packaging.

I really love these burp cloths. My babies are quite prolific spitter-uppers, and we seem to go through several cloths a day. It's nice to have something other than plain white ones. Assuming ours are white. Which they were. Seven years ago. But whatever.


I do believe I'd like a quilt made out of these fabrics.

If you're in need of special, custom, one-of-a-kind burp cloths, car seat strap covers or quilts, check out her etsy shop. I promise you won't be disappointed!

Thank you so much, Tracy! We LOVE them!