Friday, October 28, 2011

Breast Cancer Awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Both women and men can become victims of this horrible disease, and the toll it takes on family and friends can be daunting.

We must all do whatever small part we can in helping to find a cure for this insidious disease. Volunteer at a hospice, knit/crochet caps for chemotherapy patients, donate money, or do what you think you can to contribute.

We must have hope, and we must keep up the fight. It's too important of an issue not to.

Love & sweetness,


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's A Love/Hate Thang

As long as I can remember, I've had this love/hate thing going with winter.

Yup, the season. Let me explain.

I live in New England, where we are blessed to experience all four seasons in their complete glory. Springs are sometimes rainy and chilly, but newly budding trees and flowers, and the occasional warm breeze, reminds you that life is renewing itself, and that's a wonderful thought.
(Springtime in Boston)

Summer is, well, summer. What's not to like about it? Warm (sometimes TOO warm) days, sunshine, barbecues, beach trips, sounds of motorcycles (yup, I looooove 'em), sitting on the back deck at night with a glass of wine. Ahhhhhh.............
(Nantucket Harbor)

Fall. In New England, fall is breathtaking. The colors on the trees are indescribable, and I am constantly amazed at the beauty of it all.

And then there's WINTER. Ugggh.

Now, I'm a winter baby, so I guess I'm supposed to like the season. And I do. To a degree.

I love when the fireplace is roaring, and there's a heart-warming holiday movie on tv, and we're all snuggled on the couch (puppies included) watching. I love, love, love Thanksgiving and Christmas, and shopping on Black Friday, and Valentine's Day...........And I love watching snow fall at dusk, when it's absolutely quiet, and the wonder of it all just gets to me.

But.............(and there's always a but), I detest the cold, and the wind, and the ice, and the heating bills, and the slush, and...........well, you get the idea.

Anyway, with all that being said, I set aside my dislike of the season every year and get into the spirit. And this year, I'm starting early.

This cake was so much fun to make. And it's really not that difficult, but it is a little time consuming.

First, I need to give credit to Melissa Diamond of My Cake School from whom I got the inspiration for this cake. (You should check out her website/blog. She's phenomenal.)

The cake/igloo was made in two pyrex bowls and covered in fondant. The fondant was then scored to look like ice blocks. The doorway to the igloo was made from 2 Rice Krispies treats that I shaped into a horseshoe and covered in fondant.

The figures were all made from a 50/50 mix of gumpaste and fondant. (I make my own fondant from a recipe by Michele Foster that I found on Cake Central)

The snow is royal icing that I spread around with an angled spatula. And the trees are cones of gumpaste/fondant shaped into cones, and snipped with craft scissors.

Easy, peasy, as they say. Hope you like it!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Whimsical, that's me!

I've been baking, and enjoying it, since I was very young. Growing up, we always had homemade baked goods in the house, thanks to my grandma who lived with us. (She made the bestest cookie dough crust for blueberry pie that I've ever had!!)

True, she baked the "old-fashioned" way (a pinch of this, a smidgen of that), but still, I watched and learned. Grandma (and my parents) emigrated here after World War II, and her baking was ethnic and delicious. I adored her!

After I married and had children, I seemed to bake more and more. Given my upbringing, it always seemed important to me to have something fresh and yummy in the house for dessert or a snack. I made cakes (and pies and cookies) for every birthday, and holiday, and any other excuse I could come up with. I made wedding cakes for friends and family, and loved every minute of it. I distinctly remember my daughter's first birthday (she's 23 now), when I made this elaborate 3 tiered cake, complete with roses and scroll work, only to have her stick her hands gleefully into my masterpiece. (Who knew about smash cakes then? lol)

I tried very hard to get things just right in my decorating. I practiced my flowers, my piping, my smoothing. It was very important to me to be "perfect." (Or, as perfect as I could get.) I wanted my decorating to be elegant and refined. Call it youthful determination, I guess.

But now I'm older. And my style has changed. Oh, I still want to get things "right", (and I still spend alot of time practicing my skills) but I am not as inclined toward the dignified and elaborate. I've decided that now, in middle age, I am distinctly more whimsical than I used to be. (At 52, I absolutely adore Hello Kitty. That's whimsical, right?? :-)

For instance, take these cookies that I did recently for a baby shower.
They're cute, aren't they? (The cookie recipe is from Martha Stewart and you can find it here). And this is the type of stuff I totally enjoy doing now.

They make me happy!

Oh, I still try my hand at more difficult work (Haniela is one of my biggest inspirations) and, of course, if I produced a beautiful five tier wedding cake that won a prize at the Oklahoma Sugar show I'd be more than thrilled!
But for now, I guess I'll stick to the things that make me smile!