Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mixed Emotions

This past week I have felt just about every emotion the human can feel. Here I am 1 week from my due date, a time of excitement and anticipation, a time to celebrate new life, nervous . . .
and I find my self crying, grieving, morning the loss of a life. A young 10 year old boy who should be outside playing in the sun, riding a bike, running around chasing his friends but instead he is moving on from this earth.

How can I celebrate a my new son's life when my friends are losing theirs?

Our fellowship this Sunday spent time praying, crying and singing. We sang this song, I have sung it a dozen time before, I have always enjoyed singing it but this Sunday it had an all new meaning to me. I had been crying my eyes out the night before, pouring my heart out to God, sharing my feelings with my husband and here on Sunday morning God touches my heart through this song "Blessed Be Your Name". In the song it talks about how we bless our God's name when things are good and how we bless His name when things are hard. When God blesses us or we are going through trials we still need to praise Him for being Him. When everything seem perfect or when we are walking through a difficult and painful trial He is still God & He is perfect. Whatever God does, whether He chooses to pour out His blessings or I feel He has turned away I will choose to say "Blessed Be His Name!"

The bridge hit me; "He gives & takes away, my heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be your name." It is God who gives and takes life. Whether we are morning the end of a life or celebrating new life we will Bless His Name!

"Blessed Be Your Name"
Matt Redman

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Snuggle Time

I hope he bonds to his new little brother

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lessons in Birthday Cakes

I have been trying to write this blog for over a week but was first uninspired, then unmotivated and then I was kicked off line because our VPN was blocked. Here I am, finally writing this all down. I am writing this blog, not really for others to read but for my own future reference. I want to document the things that I have learned from making these birthday cakes so I can remember for future endeavors (if I dare to try again).
This all started 3 years ago when my not yet 3 year old daughter told me she wanted a Rocket cake from Little Einsteins for her birthday cake. At first I just laughed but as I thought it over I thought that I could possible do it. I looked online for cake ideas and found something that I liked, thought of a plan, and then asked my friend (an artist) to help me. I was actually really pleased with how it turned out.
The only problem with this cake was that there was too much! I could have just done the rocket and had plenty of cake (we aren't huge cake fans). I made a 9x13 chocolate cake that was used for the sky (covered in blue frosting). The body of Rocket was made from two round cake (one was actually cooked in a bowl), the recipe I used was given to me by my sister that is suppose to be very good for carving and shaping. The engines were made out of gluten free chocolate cup cakes.

Summary of the things I learned from making the Rocket Cake
1) Freezing the cake makes it a lot easier to carve and frost
2) Doing a crumb coat frosting will help seal in the crumbs so your final frosting coat is nice and smooth
3) When trying to get a a deep red frosting you should mix it up at least a day in advance, when you stir it up the next day it will no longer be pink but a nice brilliant red
The next year we decided for my daughter's 4th birthday to have a Dora the Explorer themed party. This year I wanted to try making fondant and I also wanted to make the cake taste good. Although I think the cake is pretty cute (my favorite were the stars shooting out of the cake) I almost gave up in the middle of the project and was really disappointed with the end result. However, I was happy with how the cakes tasted, the top was red velvet and the bottom was chocolate with chocolate ganche & raspberry filling.

A few things I learned from making this two tier Dora Cake:
1) Marshmallow fondant dries out & cracks very easily
2) When covering a cake with fondant you need to do it quickly or else it will pull, tear and crack
3) It is very important that your cake is carved flat, DON'T try and cover mistakes with extra frosting - too much and the frosting melts and then the fondant falls/droops
4) Less filling (as well as crumb coat frosting) is best; when using a filling you don't want too much or the cake will bulge.

For my daughters 5th birthday she wanted a princess theme so I thought doing a castle could be simple enough. I started searching on line again for ideas and found some ideas that I liked. After the previous year's fondant frustrations, I wasn't looking forward to working with it again. But my friend pointed out how much prettier the cake with fondant looked and I figured I could give it one more try. I hoped to remember the mistakes from the year before and improved on it.

First thing I did was make the marshmallow fondant much more "wet" than the previous year. This made working with it a bit easier, it didn't dry or crack as much. I also rolled out the fondant much thicker than the previous year which also helped with the cracking. Secondly, I decided to go back to the dense vanilla & chocolate cakes since I wanted to build with it. I knew they wouldn't taste as good but hopefully they wouldn't fall, bulge or slide.
For the bottom cake (purple tier) I used a dense chocolate cake (actually tasted pretty good) baked in two 9x9 pans and layered them. The second pink tier and the purple towers I made a 9x13 dense vanilla cake. After freezing all the cakes I assembled them together using a thin layer of crumb coat frosting. The top tier I carved to a nice square shape and the towers were cut using circle cake cutters with wooden skewers placed in the middle to hold them together. The bottom pink towers are made of chocolate gluten free cake, also cut with cake cutters and held together with wooden skewers.
I have to admit that going into the project I had a bit of a bad attitude, I was nervous and thought it was going to be a disaster. But once into it I started to have fun! I was really pleased with the final outcome thinking it was super cute. It was really pretty simple to make and everything went pretty smoothly. I did struggle frosting the towers, the carved cake kept falling apart. But once I let them freeze it was much easier to frost.

Here are a couple things that did go "wrong" with the Castle cake (but I'm not exactly sure how to improve for next time).
1) Most of the towers were fine but a couple of them the fondant began to slide off (possibly too much crumb coat frosting? possibly the fondant was too thick and heavy pulling it down?)
2) After sitting out all night the fondant's color faded; I guess it needs to be covered but how do you cover a huge carved cake?
3) Need to make sure the cakes are carved evenly and flat (I know I "learned" this the year before - I did a much better job but still had some mistakes

So after making 3 "fancy" cakes I think that I have learned a lot but the big question is "Was it worth it?" I was a little disappointed with my daughters reaction when she saw the finished caked (but she is a bit like her mama and doesn't show too much emotion). But we all have great memories, I had fun creating a master piece, and hanging out with my friend as we made eatable art.