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Monday, March 28, 2011

A new idea

I am so excited. I have come up with a new idea for Grayers birthday cake! I'm still going to make the miniature tractors... I'm just going to make an entire farm to go along with it! (I know... what am I thinking?!) I think it's going to be great - and I'll be posting each little practice portion too.  In addition to the farm... I decided my little Fuzzy needs his own cake to dive into - and what better cake than a cow cake to go along with the farm.  So here it is... I'll start with my ingredients! :)

   I used Betty Crocker Yellow cake because I think its a universal flavor... most people like yellow cake.

I know it seems strange to post a picture of my mixed batter... but I had to give some credit to my red KitchenAid Mixer because I am in LOVE with it and it is so easy to use and clean up!

So I divided the batter into 3 dishes - a medium round for the base of the cow, a small oval pyrex for the face of the cow, and 4 cupcakes - 1 for the ears, 2 for the feet, and 1 just in case I messed up one of the other 3 (since we all know I am a work in progress with this baking thing!).


I baked them all three at once... the cupcakes out first, then the pyrex, then the medium round.

                            (Sidenote: Don't forget to clip your boxtops for the kiddos!!)

Okay... so the cake is done.  Next step - level it! It won't sit on your plate very well with a round base!


Once leveled... I simply flipped it over onto the sheet I planned to display it on. Man... I almost look skilled here. lol.

Okay... now to the fun part!! I put a little icing on top of the medium round cake and then put the small cake from the pyrex (after leveling it too of course) on top of the medium round for the face.  Then I went on icing the rest of the cake.

Tip - Crumb Coating:
First - ice a thin layer around any loose edges to seal in crumbs and let set 10-15 min
Then - ice completely - this prevents crumbs from ending up in your final layer.
(I did a LOT of baking before ever knowing what crumb coating was - I was so happy when i discovered it)

Once it was completely covered, I took 2 cupcakes for feet and iced them mostly white with a couple of brown spots (cow spots).  In these pictures I didn't peel off the cupcake wrapping but will for the real thing and I will ice the base of the cupcake feet too.

For the ears of the cow I took 1 cupcake and cut it down the middle. Then I iced them white too.

Hint: Buy 2 tubs of white icing - I only bought one and ran out right before the ears.  This is my explanation for yellow ears in the pictures... the only icing I had in the pantry was yellow. :)

After placing the ears I picked random places and added a few brown cow spots.

The base of the cow is done... now onto decorating it!

I used pink "Fruit Slices" for the ears and nose. 
I cut each end off of one "fruit slice" and then put them back together for the nose.
I used 1 wedge each for the ears (next time I will cut them in half long ways so they aren't so thick).

For the nostrils I used 1 orange stick, cut each end off and stuck the cut end down into the cake.

For the eyes I used Milk Duds.

Then I filled a ziplock baggie with a little brown icing and pushed all that icing down to one corner.
I cut off a very small piece of that corner and used that to pipe on some hooves and eyelashes. :) 

And last but not least... I added some grass!!! :)

I absolutely LOVE the finished product! I was so proud of it!!
It may not be the best thing ever... but it certainly wasn't a disaster!! lol. Thats all one can hope for in these practice rounds.
I'm excited about letting Grayer dive into one of these cakes at his bday party!
This seems like it will be a boring blog to send out... but maybe one of you other moms out there will enjoy it... and maybe even take a tip or two with you!! :)

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Well I'm supremely disappointed. I bought myself a Gold's Gym Power Spin 390R Recumbant Bike about 10 days ago and was SO excited because I've been wanting one for the last 6 months. 

     I put the entire bike together with the help of my five year old and we were both pretty proud when it was all said and done ... until we realized that it require 4 D batteries to operate it! WHAT???  Exercise equipment run by batteries?!!? So now... ten days later... my 4D batteries are dead and its off to Amazon to order myself a power adapter.  Here's to being back on my bike soon - cause I sure do love it when it's running (or should I say cycling)!!
Okay... I guess this is a lot of five year old boys... but I have the hardest time getting mine to cooperate for pictures.  Every time we take them its like he doesn't know how to smile... sometimes he's just being silly and other times its like he just can't make his face do what its supposed to.  Either way I always end up with a ton of silly pictures mixed in with one or two normal ones.
     The part that always amazes me is school pictures... I'm always so afraid when I know they are doing school pictures because I know how hard it is to get a good one... but SOMEHOW... they always turn out great.  I guess its just the skill of the photographer.  Well, yesterday my fear finally came to reality... we got Caylon's school picture.  Rather than explain this one... I just have to show you.  Me and mom laughed so hard we couldn't talk.    

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A tractor for Grayer

Okay... for those of you who don't know... I like to think that at some point in my life I will be my own version of Paula Deen... just the cake/cupcake version.  So pretty often I set out on these adventures to make something tasty, creative and fun to eat.  The sad part is that it usually turns out to look more like my five year old made it than Paula Deen - but oh well - its usually pretty fun anyhow.
     Well, with Grayer's first birthday coming up... and with "farm birthday" as the theme - I have convinced myself that I can make my own tractor cake.  Lol... what was I thinking?  I didn't keep any evidence of my first tractor attempt... but lets just say - it was a DISASTER.  Within 30 minutes of completing the cake... the icing was running down the sides and apparently the cab of the tractor had been hit by some tornado... because it was millimeters from detaching completely from the bottom half and ending up upside down. 
    So anyway, today felt like a perfect day for attempt #2.  Rather than making a huge cake again ... I decided to scaled it down a bit and try my hand at individual, miniature tractors.  I guess I thought making them smaller would also make it easier... buuuut...  that wasn't exactly the case.  So, here is todays attempt.

     Quincy found out right before Valentines day this year that he had to be at work in El Paso... and so in a moment of guilt he decided to make up for his being gone on Valentines with a gift... and well, I didn't argue.  :)  Three days earlier my hand mixer had broken and he ever so lovingly decided to replace it ... with the amazing Kitchen Aid 5-Quart Mixer in Empire Red - perfect for Valentines.  <3
And let me tell you... if you are still using a hand mixer... it is definitely time for an upgrade! This thing is awesome!! So needless to say I was completely stoked today when I remembered I had this to use instead of our ten year old hand mixer! 

     Anyway, Betty Crocker has some amazing Triple Chunk brownies ... so I ALWAYS use them to make everything... even cupcakes.  This was the easy part... follow the instructions on the back of the box and you can't go wrong.  It's the next part that needs work.  I guess if I plan on tackling tasks such as this... some baking research or classes would help... but I guess trial and error works too. 

     Dilemma #1 - green icing.  Never in my life have I needed to make green icing... but no matter what I do... I get pastel Easter green icing rather than John Deere tractor icing.  Remind me later to look up the topic... "Making DARK green icing."  Todays icing probably tastes like food coloring... seeing as how I have almost an entire bottle of blue, yellow and green in mine. Three bottles of food coloring... and still Easter green icing.  Nice. 

     Next step... making the shape of a tractor.  Easy enough.  But now I have to ice it.  I don't know if I'm just icing challenged or what... but I made four miniature tractors today and all of them look like I melted some icing and dumped it on top of the tractor shape.  And I didn't melt any icing.  I see these shows on food network where the icing looks so beautiful and perfect... well, thats not my icing.  That makes icing the second item to research.   

     Well... now that my little tractor is iced (sort of)... all that is left is the finishing touches - wheels and the little black pipe that sticks out of it (Quincy would be so ashamed of me... I don't even know what that thing is called).  So, I used Oreos for the back tires and then tried both Milk Duds and miniature Reese's Peanut Buter Cups for the front tires. 

In the end... this attempt was MUCH more successful than the first attempt.  I mean, atleast this tractor is still standing... icing and all!  Hopefully, they will just keep getting better with each attempt!  And please... and tips will be greatly appreciated.  :)  Until then... happy baking!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Our Weekend Continued...

 So this is the continued story of my weekend with my little man.  What an awesome weekend this has turned out to be! We went to little Kenleigh's birthday party today at In Zone... which if you've never been is a gymnastics/fitness zone just for kids.  Grayer had a BLAST! He jumped in bounce houses, hung on the pull-up bar (and did quite well if I may say so myself!) and played in the bubbles from a bubble machine! We had a great time and got some adorable pictures too. :)

     So with as much fun as my little G had today... it got me thinking back to birthday presents and I think I've decided on a couple.  It appears as though he needs something to climb on...

          Step2 All Star Sports Climber
       and maybe another something to climb IN...     Playhut Magic Ball Zone

                                         Then... maybe we'll have our own little In-Zone!! :)
                                                         Can't wait till the big day!

A great day.

Today was such a great day! We ended up going to the local wildlife reserve... along with every other person in the 5 closest counties (okay it just seemed that way).  I knew on the way there that there would be a ton of people and I was afraid that it would make the trip miserable but I was relieved to find that the other patrons were pretty generous about keeping the traffic moving. 
Grayer LOVED the animals.  Anytime we were waiting to get to the next set of animals he would lose interest and start finding other things to occupy him... but as soon as I pointed out a nearby animal he was standing in the window... eyes glued on whatever was standing beside us.  Well... until the zebra.  The zebra was the best part of the trip (tied with the giraffe) and Grayer started to get tired just as it was our turn to see the zebras.  I stood him up to point him out the window but he just sat back down, fussed a little and then went on playing by himself... little did he know what was lurking so close behind him!
There were tons of animals...
     Deer...                                                                         Giraffe...
ram...  and much more.

But Grayer's ABSOLUTE favorite... was the goats.

                                                           (pay no attention to his feet)    :)

We had an amazing day... but there was definitely one tired little boy in the end.  

I hope your day was as blessed as mine. :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

As my child sleeps...

Well, as my sweet little Grayer sleeps next to me I have been searching for birthday presents since his big day is almost here... but I decided to stop for a moment and write because my mind has wandered as I lay here with him by my side.  The countdown is on and we only have 19 days until our baby turns one.  How did that happen so fast? It seems like yesterday that I walked into the house from the hospital and layed him on our bed ... only for both of us to sit down beside him and just stare in amazement.  I remember staying right here on this very bed for hours just watching him... amazed that he was ours.  Every day since then and still today I feel honored that the Lord blessed me with this precious angel.  He is perfect in every way and such an amazing extension of Quincy and me. Every moment that I am not with him... I am anxious to leave and go be by his side.  I love to hug him in my arms and watch him sleep.  I love to hear him laugh just because I made a silly face.  I love to watch him as he learns new things.  I love every single piece of him.

But doesn't everyone feel that way?
I am surprised to find how common the topic of "frustration through children" is among people everywhere.  "We finally got away from the kids for a while." "My kids are driving me crazy." "I could never be a stay-at-home mom... I would go insane." Everywhere I go, in all kinds of crowds... these are the things I hear.  So i'm trying to figure out... have I fallen into Alice's Wonderland where the bad thoughts are never seen or heard of? Am I going to wake up one day and feel like all these other people do ... tired of my children? Annoyed by them? Or maybe the Lord just blessed me with the perfect child. :) I feel such sorrow for these people and cringe every time they speak those words.  I stand in the distance wanting to scream at them, "ARE YOU CRAZY??!! What kind of world do you live in where you don't want to be at home with your children?!"   So dear Lord hear my prayer... may there never come a day where I would rather be away from him than with him.  I pray that I remain an outsider in those conversations and that I NEVER partake in one.  But also let me remember daily that he is a precious gift that I am borrowing from You.  Thank You Lord for this angel... thank You so very much. 

Now back to birthday presents.

A Great Weekend

Today is my friday.  Caylon (my 5 year old) is leaving tonight to go on his first big vacation with Me-maw and Pops.  New Orleans is their destination and he is all set with a full load of snacks and a new Scooby-Doo DS game that Me-maw got him.  The best part of their trip will be the stop into Jellystone Park for Cindy bear's birthday party (thats Yogi bear's girlfriend in case you aren't a Yogi know-all). The real question though... is what will me and my baby do for the next four days?!! I am so excited to have this entire weekend with my precious little man! I was thinking of taking him to the animal park in town so he can help me feed the giraffes and the new baby zebra (look for pictures in the near future!).  However, that will only take up 1/2 of one of our four days! So... I need ideas.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Stress Free Eating

There was Daley, sitting across from me in the restaurant. As I talk to her I notice this little silver thing sitting next to her on the table. It caught my eye and I had no idea it would be the answer to a life-long problem! All my life I've been going out to eat in restaurants and hesitating every time I had to hang my purse on the back of my chair... but I hung it there anyway and figured there was nothing I could do about it. And then... She pulls this silver thing off the table and raises it up to reveal... her PURSE... that has been hanging ever-so secretly right beside her leg. What a great little invention! So what did I do? Immediately ordered one and have been checking the mail box every day for my prize to show up in my mailbox. Well, today it arrived and all I can say is... Thank you Daley... I can now eat in peace forever. :)

P.S. If using purse hanger at home... little hands may also make use of it!

Paisley Purse Hanger<--- Click the Amazon Link to find your own Paisley Purse Hanger! :)
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