Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Under the Big Top, Part II

Ooh, Halloween is just around the corner! Usually, I would be at some sort of Halloween party with [of-age] friends, or with my brother and sister-in-law celebrating their anniversary.. This year, I have the pleasure of spending the evening helping an old friend celebrate her daughter's birthday. :-)

I started talking about Ava's birthday cake in my last post... Well, things are coming together, and I am SOOO excited to close in on the final result!

I had bought some super cute wooden cut outs of circus animals (zebra, lion, elephant) to use on the cakes... But I really just couldn't get it out of my head to try and create little circus characters of my own. I've never tried making critters out of gumpaste/fondant before, and... I guess I just figured it was a good time!

Started out making an elephant...

And he turned out so darn cute!! Figured I'd try my hand at a lion, too!

What cuties...

So they're made. I'll let 'em sit out and dry 'til right before the party, probably..
I had also started the tent, last post, to go on top of the main cake. I finished that tonight, too! Yay!

Aaaand, here's a little peek at the cakes. :-)

:-) Almost done!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Under the Big Top, Part I

This is just part one of a cake project I'm working on right now... I have a long-time friend, Beth, whose daughter is about to turn three... She's asked me to do her cake, and I gladly accepted. Beth took her daughter, Ava, to the circus this summer and she absolutely LOVED it, so that's what the theme of her party is going to be.

I'm making cake AND cake balls for them.. Well, I should say cakes, plural. Beth had originally asked for just a regular sheet cake with a circus theme or circus-y colors, but I couldn't resist getting some additional inspiration from all the other awesome circus cakes out there that have already been made.

This is what I've come up with:

So let me explain it a little.. it's going to be an 8" double layer and two 6" single layers..
Starting with the main: the cake will be pink with teal and purple diamonds on it. There are stars on wires that will be sticking out of the cake. And I thought I'd put some sort of plaque on the side with HBD or Ava or something.

The bottom two: one will be teal with pink/purple circles, the other purple with pink/teal stars. Connected to top cake by strings with little flags on them. Each one will have a ball on it, with an animal balanced on the ball.
I bought little wooden animal cut outs today, but I'm still battling with making little characters out of fondant/gumpaste. They look so cute that way! We'll see how much spare time I have. I at least have something already to fall back on. :-)

Here's a closer shot of the cakes:

I already made the big stand today... I went to a local thrift store and got a clear plate/platter for $1.98 and a pink/white patterned glass vase for $2.98... I used a really strong glue (E6000) to fasten the two together, and voila!! It's cute, it's sturdy, and it's perfect! I'm so excited to use it. And it was really so simple to do.

And for another more upward shot:

The two smaller cakes will be on smaller stands, which consist of a simple bowl and plate combo. No need to even glue anything there.. the bowl gives the plate enough stability on its own. I chose clear glass pieces for both the plates and bowls... This way, they would match the big plate on the big stand I have made, and I don't have to worry about finding some sort of color or print that I like. I bought a couple bags of skittles and plan on pouring those in the bowls before setting the plates on top. That way, it's all reusable, and it's bright and colorful, too!

I also started working on the circus tent to go on the top of the 8" double layer cake... I forgot to take pictures of my progress there, but it's turning out really cute so far. I bought a half a yard (and so far I have a TON extra) of a girly, striped fabric... Also found a scrap piece of a really thin pink tulle-y fabric.. used an oatmeal container (the heavy cardboard, cylinder type), made it a bit shorter, cut a piece out for the doorway, and hot glued the fabric around the cylinder. My next step is making the tent roof..

Friday, October 9, 2009

Morning Rituals

We all have our own rituals in the morning, don't we? Typically, mine consists of hitting 'snooze' on my alarm as many times as humanly possible, crawling out of bed, throwing on my work clothes, making a quick stop in the bathroom to potty and brush my teeth, and then running out the door, sometimes while tying my shoes. Of course, these are the mornings I have to work at 5:oo AM, and let me just say for the record that I am in no way, shape, or form a morning person. I stay up late. And I enjoy my sleep.

My mom, however, has a much nicer morning ritual that I have seen her perform too many times to count. She, like myself, is not a morning person. Her first "good morning" is to the coffee maker. It greets her in return with a warm, aromatic smile, and she makes her way to get the newspaper. Coffee mug and paper in hand, she sits at the table and reads and drinks in a sleepy-eyed state until the caffeine has had enough time to course through her veins.

Once she's had ample time to wake up, she moves on to the puzzle section of the paper. One of our favorite puzzles to do together is the Word Scramble one, where you have four or five words to unscramble, and then you have to use certain letters from each unscrambled word to unscramble the final puzzle, based off of the provided cartoon. Sometimes, the words elude us so badly that we have to pull out Scrabble tiles to help us figure them out.

Her morning ritual is something that will always be a fond memory for me (aside from her morning grumpiness :)), so I thought I would use that to celebrate her birthday!!

I took all of the elements of what she does every morning: the coffee, the paper, the puzzles, the Scrabble tiles, and gave her something edible to enjoy.

The cake was the same pumpkin white chocolate chip cake I mentioned in the earlier post about wedding preparations... It turned out just as delicious, but let me tell ya... This is NOT the type of cake you want to use with a shaped cake! It's so moist, and porous, with all of the chips in there.. It's so not ideal to cut and shape and then try to cover with a heavy fondant. It sagged, it wrinkled, it tore... But I kept it together for the most part. At least it tasted yummy!! :-)

So, pumpkin white chocolate chip cake, cream cheese icing, fondant to cover... I made the mug handle out of gum paste (which I let dry and then wrapped with the same colored fondant as the mug) and stuck a few cut pieces of a thin wooden skewer in either end to stick into the cake.

You can see the whole spread in this shot... The cupcakes were lemon with a lemon zest icing. The "steam" coming off the coffee mug had to quickly turn into candles, because the chocolate pieces I had created started melting and falling over... So I had to eat them to teach them a lesson. ;-) My lovely husband (of one month as of today!! Happy 'monthiversary,' Brandon!) ran out to the store to get me some twisty candles to substitute.. What a great guy.

Closer up view of the mug on its saucer, the newspapers, and the Scrabble tiles that spell out "Happy Birthday Sue." You can see how the cake is really starting to get saggy underneath the fondant.

And here's my lovely mom and dad, checkin' everything out after Mom's extinguished the fire. ;-)

Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you!!

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