Sep 19, 2014

Cake Decorating 101

Remember this post, about the Flag cake Cameron requested I make for the 4th of July? This cake?

Well that cake inspired me. 

It's no secret that I love baking - to the point that I insist, almost every year in baking the birthday cakes and cupcakes for the girls. There has only been one year where I have agreed to purchase something from a bakery, cupcakes for London's 2nd birthday. But, that was when I was pregnant with Sydney and exhausted, so that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. 

I'm actually a bit snobby about baking when it gets down to it, too. I won't bake a cake from a box. They just don't come out dense and moist, even when you take them out just prior to them being fully cooked through. But one area I feel I need to improve is cake decorating. 

Don't get me wrong, I was proud of the 4th of July cake. London's 4th birthday cake? Not so much: 

Not my finest work. Screams homemade. But it tasted amazing. Which is why that one never saw the inside of the trash can.

So at the beginning of August I signed up for a cake decorating class through Jo Ann. Specifically, Course 1 of the Wilton cake decorating courses. I was so excited for it. And it almost didn't happen. The course was 2 Tuesday evenings for 3 hours. All other sessions of that class were offered during the day, so I couldn't do them. The Saturday before the first class was to start (the first Tuesday in September), I got a call saying that I was the only one signed up for the class and they have to have at least 2 people signed up for the class to take place! I quickly called around and got my girlfriends Lynde and Kim to sign up as well. 

We spent the first class going over piping basics and some easy piping techniques including the traditional cupcake swirl - but of course I forgot to take any pictures during that class. The only thing that would have made the class more fun would have been a bottle of wine for us girls to share.

The second class taught us the basics on cake leveling and the importance of a cake spinner. That and a handy dandy tool we were introduced to for cake leveling were quickly bought after class that night! 

And I did take a few pictures. I have a long way to go in developing my skills but as our teacher said, what really matters is practice. Which I should be doing given I have plenty of left over frosting sitting in my fridge. Better to practice than eat it, right? It's just a little weird to me still to just get out all the tools just to practice and not actually make anything.

Creating a "dam" to prevent our filling from spilling out

An Iced Cake

And the final result

Good thing Sydney's 2nd birthday is coming up, then I'll have a true reason to practice.Time to start thinking up the design. It probably will have something to do with trains. She is obsessed with trains these days. The second she hears one about to come by to our house she runs to me saying "mommy see mommy see" indicating she wants me to pick her up so she can look at the kitchen window - even though she can see it without my help from the back door! She's quite the character. My guess is her first ride at Disneyland is going to be the Disneyland Railroad!

And while I enjoyed the class, for now I am going to hold off on Course 2 - that one is four 2-hour classes. One, I don't have the time right now and two, I want to master course 1 as best I can first.

Sep 10, 2014

The Fig Tree

For the most part, our land is a bit barren when it comes to trees, especially established trees. When we purchased, there were 6 trees - albeit 2 being trees that have fallen over and grown over themselves.Two other trees, redbuds, that we absolutely love, have to come out as they were planted on top of our septic tank! And the two others need to come out because they are too close to the house and eventually can be hazards to our roof - then again I don't like the variety those two are so I could care less. But it's the two fallen over trees that have grown over themselves that I love. One of those is a fig tree. 

For one, it's such a nice contrast in the summer with all its green versus all the brown around us. And it actually produces fruit. Ok, so I have only enjoyed one actual fig, mainly because I have not successfully gotten to the fruit when it is ripe before the birds have, but I will one of these days. We also have discovered that it fruits twice a year - once at the beginning of summer and once at the end. Now that I know when it fruits I can be more on top of it. I've even been pinning Fig recipes in anticipation. 

Cameron eventually wants to remove this tree. And I get his reasons, but it will be hard for me at the same time. It's hard for me to describe - some of it has to do with it being original to the property. But it's also so organic in the way  that it has grown, fallen and come back again. I'll have to show you some pictures of it when the leaves aren't on it so you can see the trunk and limbs. It also creates a really cool cave with a canopy of leaves on one side. We'll see how long I can hold on to it.