Tag Archives: cake

Summer, where did you go?



I’ve lived in Arizona for all my life (minus 7 years in Nor Cal) and I’ve never seen a lizard that was this big. It’s hard to get a feel for how giant he was because he was wary of me and my camera. So sticking my hand on the tree would have made this a picture of just my hand on a tree and a place where a lizard USED to be sitting! Ara pointed him out, otherwise I would have walked on by, absorbed in my thoughts. Maybe it’s because this year’s monsoon season has been awesome. He’s had so many bugs to fill his scaly lizard belly?


Speaking of the monsoon season, it’s been lighting up the summer sky with the most ridiculously awesome sunsets. Pictures can’t do it any justice at all (my pictures anyway, especially through a dirty windshield).


I just thought I’d throw in a colorful apology note from Ara… LOL. Her face will show you exactly what she’s thinking. If looks could kill..


Katie’s Birthday is a few days before Ara’s. This was her heart and peace sign cake. I was tempted to use color and make a more traditional cake. She wanted Tinkerbelle at first. But then we settled on hearts and peace signs that I could easily add with fruit on top of homemade whipped cream. It was light and delicious, perfect for August in the desert.


We had Ara’s birthday dinner at The Trail Dust Town the very same evening as KT’s party. It was a long day but still a fun one. Ara had a great time with Alex’s family, who spoil her rotten!


She’s at the age where she really appreciates all the fashion accessories and clothes her aunts shower her with. Which is mutually delightful for all involved!


The day started out blazing hot and then cooled with a massive storm in the evening. Cooling things off so we could ride the train and explore.


More spoiling happened as we checked out the shops and candy store. Right after we boarded the little train my camera battery died!


The next day she modeled all 7 or 8 outfits and I took photos. She hated it, as you can see… lol.

IMG_3744 The night before her actual birthday I hung balloons outside her door with a penny in each to hold them down. I thought I was so clever, using this little trick from Pinterest.. until the balloons started popping on their own, and with money shrapnel inside! Luckily she didn’t wake up from the loud POPs! She adored the surprise the next morning. Waking to find balloons all over the house.


There were a couple canine guests invited so we made ‘doggie’ bags!

Ara’s cupcakes had strawberry hearts and Trader Joe’s Coco Balls on top of whipped cream. They were sort of a strawberry shortcake-ish.

IMG_3779 IMG_3788

Unfortunately this is the best picture I got of our T-Rex watermelon.  I did the carving and Ara put his ‘teeth’ in. The teeth made getting watermelon a challenge, which some people seemed to like. So it all worked out! You can see the TV on in the background. I moved the TV probably 6 months ago and never bothered to hook up the antenna because no one here watches TV. But then, I’ve been DYING to watch the Olympics and my Dad tells me now that they’re on regular old TV channels! So Alex hooked it up! Too bad they were pretty much over, oh well next time. That giant bubble TV might just last another 4 years!


After presents were opened Ara took her new stuff to the street! We got her a scooter and all the protective equipment you can strap onto a kid. Then, the shed was opened and the other bikes came out and all of the sudden my whole family is out in the street. Riding bikes, scootering, laughing, falling, and generally having an awesome time. The summer sun hid under a cooling cloud cover to make for a perfect evening. One that Ara will remember happily!

And that’s what happened while I wasn’t blogging! More to come soon, it’s been quite a while!

Hello There


I’ve fallen off the blogging wagon lately so I have quite a back log of bento photos to share! This one was another from Valentines week with a heart theme. Ww pita pizzas, berries and pineapples, carrots, and heart shaped gummies from Trader Joe’s (color free, of course).


This weekend I made cakes for my 10 year old nephew and my Brother’s Birthday parties. It’s a little pathetic to admit this, but I’m just now getting the hang of my oven!


Joe’s cake had to be ‘awesome’ because he was so sure I couldn’t make anything besides that. Such pressure! I racked my brain over what a 10 year old would think was cool that I could actually make. I landed on an Angry Bird cake. The only problem was that I still don’t own any natural coloring for icing. Last year I tried to color his cake with blue berry juice and it was a failure! So I cut myself a break and just bought a black tube, yellow tube, and I used some red icing spray paint that I’ve had for years. The cake and the buttercream I made from scratch and color free. I tried to justify the colors because at least the bulk of the cake was natural! I tend to stress about cakes and overestimate my abilities with complicated designs so my goal was ‘awesome but stress free’. Which this was, so I’m happy about it.


To create the red bird I made a template on paper and cut out the negative. After the icing had set-up, I laid the paper on top and sprayed the color on. This is basically aerosolized food coloring which is easier by far than mixing color into a batch of frosting and gave me a nice block of solid color. After this stage I was so relieved! Imagine if my template hadn’t worked and I had just turned the top of the cake blotchy red? The rest was easy, I outlined the shape in the black icing and filled in the beak with the yellow gel. Over all, a design simple enough for even a cake doofus like me!


The kids were sufficiently pleased and hopefully my nephew still thinks I’m a cake super hero!

My Brother’s cake was from the Joy of Cooking, the Lightning Torte with a light lemon flavor. I love this recipe and someday I’ll share it here.


It’s quick and easy and the light flavor barely needs any frosting to make it better. I love to frost it in whip cream. Right before I serve the cake I mix up some cream with a few teaspoons of fresh lemon juice and sugar. It’s so light and fluffy and just yum.


A few slices of lemon complete the picture of a perfect cake for a spring day and an awesome brother! Korbin thought it looked pretty ok anyway (picture above).

Joey’s Cake


Kind of a mishmash of a cake.  Gum paste accents (including mask).  SUPER blue icing with cereal borders. 

Let’s Talk Cake


So, if you’ve talked to me recently you have probably heard more than you ever wanted to know about cake.  I have a cakesession.  This is my latest catastrophe cake, made for my little Sister’s 26th birthday.  Em is a member of the “put pink on my cake and die” association so I played it safe, using only her favorite color, purple.  Or at least that’s what I thought I was doing.  The color in fondant seems to dull or lighten as it dries and becomes room temperature (or in this case summer in AZ with humidity-and-swamp-cooler temperature).  My purple became sort of a charcoal blueish color.  I tried impressing stars into the ivory fondant, the result was not quite what I had envisioned.  It just made the fondant look lumpy.  One of these days I will buy an impression mat…  I free hand cut the ‘E’ as I did with Ara’s cake, once again my lack of actual cake tools forces some creativity!  Although I didn’t think that turned out to badly.  The white balls were supposed to be whimsical and fun but after they were done I kept thinking of pimples on a cake!

The cake is plain vanilla with vanilla butter cream… it was supposed to be chocolate but..

Quick baking bloopers story:

DSC06884I was filling 3 different sized pans with chocolate cake batter and thinking to myself, “I am getting really fast at this!”  Since I was short on time but still wanted the look of double layers I gave each pan a tad more batter than is recommended.  And by “a tad” I mean I pretty much topped each one off.  After about 15 minutes in the oven the kitchen filled with the unmistakable smells of burning chocolate and black smoke.  The cake was bubbling over the sides of the pans and burning on the bottom of the oven.  Unsure of how to proceed, I turned off the heat and tried to take one pan out.  I burned my hand doing this of course.  Finally I decided to catch the still bubbling batter on a piece of foil and to let the smoke out through the window.  This is not a situation a master caker would find themselves in!  After things cooled down, I cleaned the oven and pans and started over with vanilla.  I had a student coming and the house smelled gross.  Before she came I went to close the door to my room and shoved my toe under the door so hard I think I broke it (still hurts when I move it).  All of my actions on this day were so obviously logical…  When A got home I told him about my horrific day and he took us out to one of my favorite places, Olive Garden!  When my steaming chicken parmesan arrived I felt the stress of the day melting away.  I picked up my condensation covered glass of refreshing iced tea… and dropped it into my plate.  What a fitting end to a disastrous day!


And that is how Em’s 3 tiered chocolate cake ended up a one layer vanilla affair!

A quick update on how Ara’s birthday cake went:


1) Covered in fondant, yay it looks decent!


2) Calling it done and going to sleep even though I don’t like the lettering and the lack of a 3rd color bugs me.


3)  Thought about it all night, got up early, added pink, and changed the lettering!


4)  Ara loved it, and she ate her letters!

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