Hello There...

Welcome to my blog. I'm a full-time mommy of a 4-year-old & a 0-year-old, part-time waitress and a rookie blogger. Living on a farm with my son, daughter and husband among dogs, chickens, ducks and other various wildlife keeps life interesting and anything but normal!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Brought to you by the Letter J & the Number 2

Well, Jack's birthday weekend was a success. He's officially two, the world didn't come to an end and he enjoyed every-last-minute of birthday-boy stardom. Saturday was a special mommy-son bonding day, daddy was gone all day at a softball tournament out of town. Not that I enjoy when my husband is away, but this was a perfect weekend for that tournament. When I clean and get the house ready for things, I like to do things at my own pace, and with other people around I feel too much pressure. Jack and I ran errands early in the morning on Saturday, had a special lunch and Jose's Blue Sombrero, I baked and frosted Sesame Street characters until I was blue in the face, Jack helped me unload and reload the dishwasher, we cleaned up and set-up for the party. It was a perfect Saturday, shopping, good food, and at the end of the day, a clean house. What more could a woman want?

My knack for decorating cakes is somewhat of a family affair. My grandmother on my dad's side was a baker by trade. She made special birthday cakes for me and my sister and our cousins, she baked and decorated cakes for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and any other occasion you would need a cake for. She was a pro. When she passed away I acquired a few of her shaped pans including oscar the grouch, bert and ernie, strawberry shortcake, a smurf (which could come in handy again sometime soon...) among others. I took a Wilton Cake Decorating class at JoAnn's a couple of years ago and it has been fun to use the cake pans that my grandma used to use.

Cake Decorating 101
Start with shaped cake. I purchased Elmo for about $7.00 ($13.99 with 50% coupon at Michaels). The cake pretty much directs you in how to decorate it. And if you are still not sure, http://www.wilton.com/ has PDF files of all cakes, baking instructions, pictures to help you know what colors, even step by step instructions including which decorating tips to use when piping the frosting. It's a cake bakers best friend!

Lots of buttercream frosting. Wilton has a great recipe and the good news is you can get all the ingredients relatively inexpensively (notice a pattern?).
4 c powdered sugar
1/2 c butter
1/2 c vegetable shortening
1 tsp clear vanilla extract (Wilton)
2 tbsp milk

*to thin frosting use 1-2 tsp of light corn syrup

For Elmo and Bert and Ernie, I made two batches of this recipe.

My favorite appliance. Well, maybe not really-but it for sure is when I'm baking! Kitchen-Aid mixers are a luxury, I never thought I would actually own one, but luckily I have a generous mom who knows I love to bake! I put this bad boy to work this weekend, and it did not disappoint.

White buttercream frosting. MMmm! Just needs a splash of color. Wilton makes great gel frosting dyes in pretty much every hue possible. For the black frosting I bought a tube of Wiltons pre-mixed, pre-colored frosting. You would have to add so much gel color to homemade frosting that it would taste too bitter to eat. For intense colors like red or black, I always purchase Wilton's pre-made frosting colors. ($1.50 at Walmart-or Michaels with a coupon!)

Finished product. For Elmo, I frosted him white and used Wilton spray frosting color. Then went back in with the tube of black to fill in the mouth. Piped on the nose using the #5 tip and actually just used my finger for the eyes. Elmo took about 20 minutes to decorate-piece of cake (no pun intended).

Bert and Ernie. I am bummed because I didn't really take a picture of the Bert and Ernie cake by itself. This was the best one I could find. I piped all of Bert and Ernie using the #18 decorating tip. For the star-fill-in method the #16 tip is recommended but I was being lazy and the #18 tip is a slightly bigger star, taking up more room therefore less stars have to be piped. I was happy with how it turned out! I bought all the decorating tips I needed for these two cakes (#3, #5, #16 & #18) in a set at Walmart (by Wilton) for $3.00 - they also have all the gel coloring, spray color and disposable piping bags available in their cake decroating aisle.

So Sesame Street birthday was a success. Great cakes, great company, great reason for celebrating. Jack is so blessed, he received so many wonderful gifts and we were so blessed to share this special day with our closest family and friends.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bittersweet Birthdays

This week is a bittersweet week for me. At the end of it (well actually at the beginning of next week) my little guy will be turning 2! I seriously cannot fathom how this is possible. I did manage to do one thing well, I kept a journal all throughout my pregnancy and so at times like these, I enjoy going back through my entries and reading about what was going on 2 years ago. From about July 20th until I actually went into labor, I prayed faithfully each night that it would be "the night". I was so done being pregnant at about 36 weeks. Praise the Lord he didn't make me go a day past my due date, yes, I was one of the 5% of women who go into labor on their due date. Lucky me. It would have been luckier if I had actually given birth on my due date. But God had bigger plans. 22-hours-in-labor bigger plans. Ha. Oh well. It was worth it, every second.

Reading through my journal entries is such a trip. 2 years ago today, August 3 2009 I journaled about crampy, shooting pains in my abdomen. I wrote "I still don't think it's labor. This is why I really wish my water would break, or something SUPER OBVIOUS (I actually wrote in all caps) would happen" Things like this make me smile because God is so faithful. He knew how nervous I was about not getting to the hospital on time, and that I wouldn't know what labor was. My water broke, that is how I knew I was in labor. God sure does have a sense of humor though, I definitely had plenty of time to get to the hospital. ..."today was my first official day off of work...our internet got installed and I put together my new desk chair-desk/computer are tomorrow's projects-along with grocery shopping, cleaning the kitchen and finishing more laundry." This makes me laugh because anyone who knows me knows that I hate cleaning, and if you know me really well you know that my house is rarely clean unless there is a larege gathering or something planned at my house. I mean was this nesting or what? Three days before I went into labor I was cleaning and organizing like crazy.

Then the last little tidbit I'll share from this journal entry was my favorite part I wrote..."and now the baby has hiccups ♥" I drew a heart next to it :) Being pregnant was so wonderful. Don't get me wrong it was horrible in it's own way, but seriously there is nothing like growing a human. It's a miracle, a mystery, a blessing. One of those things that makes you sure that there's a God who loves you watching over everything. I just said at dinner with friends last night, every once-in-a-while I'll get a gas bubble and still think there's a baby moving in my belly. No lie, the baby is approaching 2-years-old and I feel like I can still feel him moving around in the womb. Maybe I'm crazy--I'm definitely NOT pregnant, so don't get any ideas--or maybe that's just God's little way of reminding me of life's precious miracles.

Back to the baby being 2. Talk about time flies when you're having fun. Being a mom has brought new challenges to life, new fears to reality but mostly just joy. Jack makes me laugh daily, he says the sweetest things. He is going to be a very thoughtful little boy. He LOVES to wrestle, crash his cars and play in the mud-he is all boy. He also loves to draw, sing, and snuggle. I'm getting a lump in my throat just writing this. I've begun to learn the importance of Proverbs 22:6 "train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" Everything I say, do and participate in affects this child and his thinking. So moving into this 3rd year of Jack's life, Proverbs 22:6 will be my motto to keep me motivated when the going gets tough-as I'm sure it will get tough.