Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cake Mania!

Sound the trumpets! Drum roll, please!
Today I am finally going to be sharing something creative with you!!
I have been waiting to write this post since the day I started conceiving all of my grand ideas!

When the subject of cakes came up for my grandparent's 50th Anniversary Celebration,
I eagerly volunteered for the job.
There were already a few Pinterest pins calling my name,
and this would be a funtastic opportunity to finally try some out.

These were my Pin-speration sources.

1. Gumdrop Roses  2. Wedding Picture Topper  3. Chocolate design toppers
4. Chocolate Heart  5. Sugar and Berries  6. Cake Banner 
7. Pineapple Flowers  8. Picture Pick Toppers  9. Strawberry Roses
Chocolate Butterflies 
Not to forget this awesome chocolate butterfly.

After one whole day of 'research' (I love Pinterest!), and one day of shopping for all
the necessities and ingredients, I was able to get to work!

I gave mom the task of making all the paper and picture decorations, like the anniversary banner,
wedding picture topper, and cake labels...which left me to man the kitchen.

Let me show you what I cooked up!

 #1 Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
This was a two layer sheet cake with frosting in the middle, that I quickly
decorated with a '50 Years' flag, some pineapple flowers and a lacy chocolate heart.

The heart was made from melted almond bark that I piped onto parchment paper,
 then re-hardened in the fridge.
 I didn't trace a design for this one, I just did it by freehand.

#2 Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
Also a two layered, cream cheese frosted cake,
I decorated this one with my version of the wedding picture cake topper (made by mom!)
surrounded by pineapple flowers.
I was told later that those dried flowers tasted great!

#3 Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
Don't let the gluten free part scare you, this is the best chocolate cake I have ever had!
I'm dead serious. And I don't like chocolate cake.
Want to know a secret? We didn't tell people this was gluten free, and it was our most popular cake!
I used my go to chocolate butter cream recipe to frost this single layer cake,
then topped it with almond bark chocolate words and gumdrop roses!

These roses were awesome!

If you click the link in my collage above it will take you to this video tutorial!
They are so simple to make, yet add so much!
They don't show you how to make the leaves, but it didn't take much to figure those out.
Just roll out your green gumdrop as shown in the video, then cut out a leaf shape.

#4 Gluten Free Three-Tiered Cake
Not as many tiers as my inspiration source,
but I liked the simple beauty of the exposed cake, fresh fruit and powdered sugar.

The strawberry rose bouquet was a nice touch, though it didn't turn out as good I would have hoped.
 I couldn't get the 'petals' to lay open like in the picture. But still, a nice topper.

#5 White Raspberry Cake
Three layered almond white cake, with almond butter cream frosting and raspberry preserve filling.
I only frosted the middle layers and the top cake for two reasons.
One, 'naked cakes' are in style, didn't you know?
And two, the frosting was a little stiff and I was running out of time. was reason two.

To make this cake look fabulous,
we stuck a very long "Happy Anniversary" banner in the top!
I love the way it turned out! My mom did a great job!

#6 Coconut Cake
You guys.
This was my favorite cake!!
Just look at that! It is beautiful! And it tastes wonderful too!
I am dying to make another one of these, with a few little recipe changes.

This double layer coconut sheet cake was frosted with sour cream coconut frosting,
between the layers and all over the outside, sprinkled with toasted coconut
then adorned with almond bark butterflies!
I was so, so thrilled that I was actually able to make these!
I mean...look at them!

 And finally....

I made just over 70 Lemon Cupcakes!
This is one of our family recipes for rich lemon cake, topped with another family creation,
lemon frosting made by folding lemon pudding and Cool Whip together!


These little darlings were decorated with various almond bark chocolate designs,
and family picture sticks, combining two inspiration sources.

All of my cakes had to survive an hours trip before
reaching the location of our family reunion.
That means I only frosted the middle layers of my sheet cakes to hold them together, 
and the rest of the frosting, assembling and decorating had to take place on site.

We had a certain time frame between scheduled events that we were able 
to use the (more like rollings tables, a sink and some counter space),
so that made things a little crunched.

But thankfully there was lots of family (thank you everyone!) to give a helping hand.
I'll admit it was a little hard at first to delegate some of the tasks 
to someone else, but I had no reason to worry, it all turned out great
and I was able to do the really important details myself.

If I look a little tired and frazzled, you know why.

In the end it all paid off.
Presentation was awesome, taste was wonderful, and Nana cried.
Everything was a hit.
I was asked by several people if I did this for a living,
and those that didn't ask, outright told me that I should make this a business!
It was so great to have such supportive feedback.

Now, I went back and forth about breaking this post down
into individual cakes and details, but I decided on covering it in one fell swoop.
There will be a post on making almond bark chocolate designs, with tips I discovered along the way,
but if you want more individualized details on anything else,
just let me know and I'll see what I can do!

To sum it up:
One week.
Six cakes.
13 layers.
70 cupcakes
Five different frostings.
One hurried hour of assembly.
An anniversary to remember.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

50th Anniversary & Reunion

I had a busy Fourth of July, y'all!
Every July Fourth that falls around the weekend,
my dad's side of the family has a family reunion, with family that spans back three generations before me!
This was one of those years.
Here is the group picture of our immediate family, at least the ones that could make it.
Aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents!

Can you believe there are at least 20 still missing?!

Here is my pale lookin' self and the rest of my family.

This reunion was extra special because we were also celebrating my grandparent's 
50th Wedding Anniversary!!

See those two large,black and white photos in the corners?
That bombshell and suave movie star are my grandparents.

Sibling photobomb.

 They cut the cake and fed each other all over again.
"Give me a kiss," said Nana.
And he did.

I am so blessed by the example and marriage I have been lived through these
two amazing Christ servants.
Not too long ago, I heard Papa say over the phone to Nana when she
called with vehicle trouble and needed him to come get her...
"I'll always pick you up, babe."

He picked her up all those years ago,
and he ain't about to drop her now.

I had a great time making all the cakes and cupcakes for their celebration!
I'll give you more pictures and details, including Pinterest inspiration, in my next post!
You won't want to miss it!

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Sometimes a girl just needs a little change.
Last weekend I decided to make that change, and it is one I've been planning since last fall...
I dyed my hair red!

Why red?
Because every time in the past that I have tried to color my hair a nice brown color,
it turns out with a red tint to it. I always tell them 'warm' tones, maybe that is where I went wrong...??
My grandma has told me that her hair always throws red when she tried dying it,
so maybe it is just in my hair code?
Anyway...I thought I would give in and actually color it red this time.
 I also did a little choppage while I was at it...just simple stuff...split ends, an attempt at layering in the back, and evening up my not-bangs.

Although this isn't the first time I've colored my hair, it is the first time I have done it at home by myself!
I was a little nervous, but once you jump in and get started, it really isn't rocket science.
I like the results fine, but I was hoping for that deeper, darker red tone, truer to the depiction on the box.
Just one week later, I already see it fading, even though it is supposed to be permanent.
Originally, I wanted to use Henna as a dye. But after a little research, I learned henna is very permanent.
You can't remove it or dye over it, or your hair might start smoking!
So, if I didn't like the red, I was stuck until it grew out.
I figured for $3 bucks I could get an ammonia free dye at Wal-Mart and do a far less scary test run.

Let me take this opportunity to draw your attention to the jean vest I'm sporting.
It was thrifted quite a few months back, but ended up sitting atop my large refashion pile
because it was just a bit too bulky.
Finally, I sewed some darts into the side seams and took it in. Simple fix.
It doesn't really qualify as a refashion, but I figured I could squeak it in this way.

This top.
I am in love.
Also a piece that has been in my refashion pile for a long time. But I really don't know why!?
I literally pulled it out just a couple days ago and there is nothing wrong with it. 
I've been wearing it ever since- it is so comfortable and I just love the print. 
You can't tell with it tucked in, but it has a loose fit and rounded hem.

 And these shoes!
They are currently my favorite pair, and my most recent thrift score.
And when I say recent, I mean two months ago. I haven't been thrifting a lot lately.
Too busy and broke! That, and I feel bad buying more clothes when my refashion pile is overflowing!
(That might be a sign I need to get back to refashioning, huh?!)
 Outfit: Jean Vest: thrifted ||Top: from a friend, Aeropostale ||Skirt: thrifted, refashioned 
Shoes: thrifted ||Belt: Bealls, old

How about you?
Is there a change you have been contemplating for a while?
Have you colored your own hair, and if so what products do you recommend?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Of Weddings and the Northland

At the end of May
I was so excited and thankful to be able to spend a week in Minnesota!
Wait what? Did I just say May?! Wasn't that forever ago?
Yes, yes, it was....but after being gone from blogging for so long,
I'm still playing catch up guys! Bear with me.
As I was saying,
this past May I went up to my once home-state of Minnesota to be there for my best friend's wedding.
It was most beautiful and I was more than thrilled to be a part of such an important day!
Her awesome family is near and dear to my heart,
and I consider them an extension of my own.
Spending time with them was more encouraging, refreshing and motivating than I can say!

Some days were spent in the Cities- oh yeah baby, I drove in the Twin Cities and survived!
Praise Jesus! I think I missed at least one turn every time I got behind the wheel,
but hey, I eventually got where I was supposed to be!

Picture not mine, courtesy of Facebook.
The wedding was beautiful, touching, significant, and tear jerking.
I saw my best friend- who I spent the greatest, scariest days of teenage life with- marry a wonderful man and step into a holy, exciting chapter of her journey!
It was a pretty weighty experience for me, in all honesty.

I was also able to visit with old friends and in general have a splendid time.

After leaving the cities, we (my travel companion, co-driver, and brother Anthony) made the trek further north to join my grandparents who were finishing up a camping trip and share a corner
of their camper for the night.

Ahh...I fell asleep to the sound of soothing frog chirrups and calling loons. 

Sitting on a picnic bench I had the lake shore in front of me, trees behind me,
and these wonderful people to each side of me- my brother and grandparents.
Don't worry. My brother wasn't being one of those on-the-phone-while-surrounded-by-nature
kind of people, he was taking pictures.

This was such an unusual and eye catching tree formation.
Grandma told me this is actually tree cancer- the tree grows around
the area like this.
Isn't it amazing how something harmful made this tree unique and beautiful?

In the park we stayed at, there is a white deer that roams the forest!
We were blessed to get a look at her!

These shots are blurry because she was so far away, but you get the general idea.

I love all the adorable little churches scattered across this country.

Even the fields of dandelions were gorgeous in my eyes!

Once you have lived in a thirsty land for a while,
this is a heavenly site!

After leaving the camping grounds, a couple more days were spent relaxing with more of the family back at the 'home base' with all the aunts, uncles and cousins around.

Oh yeah...I decided I need a motorcycle!
This is my uncle's ride- he is the teddy bear driving. ;)

I'm not even kidding.
I want a bike now.
Or a guy who has one.
Yeah, that might work.
We'll see which one happens first.
Good times.

Old friends, family, stimulating conversation, and open hearts coupled with deep drinks of bountifully green and grassy landscapes...sunlit tree canopies...and lakeside walks, made this trip deeply restorative and motivating.

What has this summer taken you so far?
Where will your travels take you in the months ahead?
I'd love to hear all your exciting plans!
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