Cake Decorating – Flowers & Design Final

This past Monday, I had my final class for the Wilton Cake II – Flowers course at the local community college.  We started the class by learning 2 new techniques and then we spent the remainder of the time decorating our final cakes.

To start, we learned how to do the reverse shell border.  It is slightly different than the shell border that we learned how to do in the first course, as it has a bit of a curve in the top of the shell.

Next, we learned how to do a basket weave design with our icing.  It looks really intricate, but it’s actually fairly easy.  First we practiced on our practice boards.

Our teacher then gave us slips of paper to use so that we could mark the cakes that we had baked and prepped for decorating.  The cakes are marked so that the basket weave is even and you don’t have some lines close together while others have huge gaps.

After marking the cake, you use a spatula to make lines on your cake.  Basically, you just press it into the side at every mark you made.  This gives you a straight line to put your icing on so that your basket weave is not crooked.

After completing the basket weave design, it was time to decorate!  I used several apple blossom flowers and a few primrose flowers that I had made ahead of time (we were taught how to make these in the second class).

Almost done!

I actually used all of my icing on the basket weave and border, so I borrowed some green icing from a classmate and added some leaves to my flowers.  Here’s the finished product:

Here’s one last shot.  It’s my cake plus those of the four other ladies that took the class with me.

Connecting in the Blogging Community

There are times when I dive into the world of blogging and feel like I’m constantly swimming around to try and find where I belong.  What is it that I contribute?  Mostly, I end up feeling like I’m just treading water.

I started my blog to have a place to talk about my life as I become the person that I want to be.  For the most part, the things I have shared coincide with that.  I share about my continuing education cake courses, I share weekly pictures that I take (my dream job would be to be a photographer – I am nowhere close at the moment), and I have shared a few things about my weight loss/exercise journey.

And then I go to read other blogs and feel like mine is so pointless.  I think a lot of that stems from the fact that, when I read amazing post after amazing post, I feel like I have no life experience at all.  I’m not married.  I don’t have children.  I was raised in a happy home with both parents and my mom was a stay-at-home mom.  I feel sheltered.  I feel like I don’t really have a voice.  And that leaves me feeling as though I’m grasping for anything within reach; anything that keeps me connected to the blogging community.

Usually, my ‘grasping’ is manifested in commenting on others’ blogs.  I want to connect to people.  I love to read what others are experiencing.  But, without the same type of experiences, I feel like my comments are trite.  Last week, I read a post at Chosen Chaos that I wanted to stand up and applaud.  The post talks about having a “like” button for blogs, similar to that of Facebook.  I would LOVE to have such a feature available (I believe it is available on WordPress, just not on other blogging sites).  It’s so hard for me to come up with something meaningful to say to the mom that had to clean up puke all night…..but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy reading her humorous account of it.

So my question is this: do I comment or not?  Personally, it makes my heart skip a beat when I log in to my blog and see that I have a comment awaiting me.  What is said doesn’t always matter, I just enjoy that somebody took the time to do it.  But what about you?  Do you mind if I leave a “that was hilarious” type of comment?  Or would you rather I quietly click away from the page simply having laughed at or been touched by your story?

This week, I’m linking up with yeah write.  Check out all of the amazing writers that are also linking up there this week!

Cake Decorating – Flowers & Design #3

Another night of flower-making fun!  During this class, we focused on three different flowers: the daffodil, the violet, and the lily.

First up was the daffodil.  I have to admit, while this flower is okay, I actually prefer the way that this flower looks before you manipulate the petals and add the center.  That, of course, makes it a plain 6 petal flower, but it was pretty.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of that. 

Next we learned how to make the violet.  This is the smallest of all of the flowers that we learned to make.  It has 3 small petals and then 2 other even smaller petals.

Finally, we learned how to make a lily.  Unfortunately, my icing had softened up a little bit too much and so it wasn’t making quite like it should.  They still turned out pretty good though.

My last class is tonight.  We will be learning how to do the basket weave design on the side of our cakes.  Once we learn that technique, we will use the remainder of our class time to decorate our final cakes.  I have pre-made a lot of apple blossom flowers (which we learned how to make in the second class) to decorate it with.  I’ll be sure to post pictures of the last class some time this week.

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

This week has been super busy for me, so it was a bit difficult to get the hunt finished this week.  I’m also not completely satisfied with my photography this week.  I feel very much the amateur that I am.  Now that I’ve given such a stellar opening, here are my pictures.

1. Whimsy

Whimsy: odd or fanciful.  I thought this giant parrot was very odd.

2. Create

Part of the reason that I’ve been so busy this past week is because I’ve been preparing for my final class for course 2 of my cake decorating curriculum.  Here I have captured how you use the batter to create a cake. 🙂

3. Dust

I am a bit ashamed that this is my dresser.  One of my least favorite household chores is dusting.  Since I live on my own, I don’t do it very often (as you can see by this picture).  Don’t worry, though, I dusted right after I took this picture.

4. Seed or Sprout

Last Spring, I learned that the previous owners planted various kinds of lillies in front of the house.  This is one of them sprouting back up this season.

5. Swing or Drop

This is a swing that my best friend and I put up at her house.  We hung it on a tree that is in their pasture.  It overlooks a pond to the right.

That’s it for my interpretations this week.  Head over to Ramblings and Photos to check out all of the other great pictures this week.

Conversations in the Country

From the summer of 1999 to the summer of 2006, I worked at a church camp for children and youth.  During the other three seasons, the camp is open for groups to come and do retreats.  I will occassionally go up on those weekends to work cooking the meals.  Two of my friends, Mary and Caleb, whom I worked on staff with now work and live there with their two girls, Rachel and Lydia.  On Saturday, Mary and I went for a walk around camp with her girls and one conversation during our walk went something like this….

Me: Oh, there goes a lizard!

Mary: We saw a snake the other day. Rachel held it.

Rachel: Yeah, I held it.

Mary: We found it when we were clearing for our garden.

Rachel: We found a copperhead.

Mary: No, that one wasn’t a copperhead. Did you and daddy find a copperhead?

Rachel: No, just daddy. Do copperhead’s bite?

Mary: Well, all snakes bite.

Me: It’s just that some snakebites are worse than others.

Rachel: A water snake doesn’t bite.

Mary: Yeah, a water snake will bite too.  You just make sure that you always ask mommy or daddy before you pick up a snake, okay?

Me: This may be one of the best conversations I’ve ever been a part of.

Throughout this short conversation, I was amazed.  I kept thinking, ‘this conversation would never take place most anywhere else.’  You see, camp is located in the area where the foothills of NC start to turn into the mountains.  Snakes are pretty common there – copperheads in particular.  So I can see where kids in this area would need to know about snakes.  But the fact that Rachel talked about snakes so matter of factly also had me a little in awe.  She’s 3 and 1/2 and talking about copperheads!  It was one of those moments where I smiled, shook my head a little, and thought “only in the country.”

Rachel running down one of the trails at camp

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

I’m on the hunt again.  I didn’t cop out this week (like last week).  All photos are new.  This week’s prompts were: Vintage, Word or Quote, Nature’s Own, People, and Photographer’s Choice.

1. Vintage

So I decided to look up the definition of vintage and the first 800 definitions say that it has to do with wine or winemaking.  That does make sense with the ‘vin’ and I know that the word for wine is “vino.”  Anywho.  I’m not a wine drinker, so my picture couldn’t go that way.  But burried there as the 801st definition was that vintage referred to things that were ‘old fashioned; dated.’  So I stuck with the dated part.  One good thing about working at the courthouse is the easy access to all the really old documents.  This is a close-up of a page in our oldest Will book.  If you can’t read the heading, it says “July Fifteenth, 1831.”  I LOVE the script they used (even if it is hard to read sometimes).  I thought 180 years was plenty ‘dated.’

2. Word or Quote

I love C.S. Lewis.  I actually had already taken a few other possible pictures for this prompt, but I walked in somewhere tonight and this was laying on a table and I couldn’t resist using it instead.

3. Nature’s Own

I was walking on a trail through the woods, mostly looking for something green as ‘green’ was the prompt for my March Photo A Day shot yesterday.  It was then that I stumbled upon this little treasure.  This is the skin/shell left behind by a Cicada bug after molting.  It does kind of creep me out a bit, but I thought….what better for a Nature’s Own shot then proof of one of nature’s life cycles?

4. People

I will be the first to admit that I am more of a nature/scenic photographer than I am a people photographer.  That being said….I chose this shot of my friend and her 2 little girls.  It’s been in the 80’s all week around here, including yesterday when we were out for a walk.  Her oldest wanted to play in the water, so she let them wade in at the shore.  In this shot, she’s pointing out some “colored rocks” that are further in the creek to her mom.

5. Photographer’s Choice

A bee shot two weeks in a row!  With the unseasonably warm temperatures around here lateley, everything is blooming at a rapid pace now.  My neighbor has a Bradford Pear tree, and the blooms were stunning this week.  I went to take a few pictures and found this little one buzzing about.  I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of him.  Love this time of year!

Now, click the link below to go check out all the amazing photographer’s that participated in this week’s Scavenger Hunt!

Cake Decorating – Flowers & Design #2

Monday night, I had my second class for my Wilton Cake Decorating – Flowers and Design course.  For this class, we had to prepare and color 2 batches of royal icing to use as we made different flowers.

The first flower we worked on was the Wilton Decorator Rose.  This class was actually only supposed to focus on making the base and the first wrap layer of the rose.  However, everyone in our class had just completed the first course where we learned to do the ribbon rose, which uses the same base and first layer.  So our teacher went ahead and let us do the entire flower in this class.

And here’s another picture of it just because I like the way the yellow popped so well against the dark background. 🙂

The next flower we learned was the Apple Blossom.  It uses a smaller petal tip and we also had a flower template to use for it.  It’s a fairly small flower, so you only use part of the template.  The flower is really cute and  I think it may be one of my favorites.

After this, we learned how to make rose buds.  It is actually really cool to see this flower come to life, so to speak.  The problem is, it doesn’t always work out the way that it’s supposed to.  So, while I really liked the flower, it can sometimes be frustrating if it decides not to cooperate with you.

Finally, we worked on the Primrose.  It uses the same tip and template as the Apple Blossom, you just use the entire template instead of only half of it. After making the flower, you use a small star tip to add the center.

That was all for this class.  Next week, we learn to do the Daffodil (buttercup), Violet, and Lily.  I can’t wait!

Eyes to Yourself, Lady!

I will admit that my relationship with my gym is one of those love-hate things…..but mostly hate.  I have yet to reach the point where I love exercising. What I hate even more? Waking up at 5 AM to go to the gym before work.  But that is precisely what I did this past week. It was not a pleasant experience.

To begin, my normal machine was in some sort of broken state.  I walked up to it, all the lights are blinking on it, but the electronic screen says “off” and none of the buttons work. I tried turning the power button off and back on – no luck.  I asked another gym goer, who suggested unplugging it and then plugging it back in – no luck.  With time passing, I finally had to move to a similar treadmill on the other side of the gym. Big mistake.

After my 5 minute warm-up walk, I began my 28 minutes of jogging.  I begin stepping to whatever song popped up on my iPod shuffle when I hear this horrible noise taking over my song.  Oh, God.  It’s the treadmill.  It literally sounds like the machine is going to fall apart at any given moment.  Then I start to panic a bit.  If the noise is that loud to me with music blasting through my ears…..how loud is it as it echoes through this warehouse-style gym?  I considered moving to yet another treadmill, but I had already started on this one and really hated interrupting my workout, so I decided to tough it out.

And then Miss-I’m-gonna-start-running-within-10-seconds-of-setting-my-treadmill-in-motion comes to the machine right beside me.  As she begins running, she has the nerve to shift her eyes over to check out my stats.  I couldn’t believe she did that!  Maybe I am being too sensitive.  After all, I’m self-concious to begin with because I am a 200+ pound person jogging for long periods of time on a treadmill.  And, trust me,  I haven’t forgotten that my treadmill sounds like the screws are going to come loose and the whole thing is gonna fly apart at any moment, which is only adding to my self-conciousness.  But please don’t add on top of that by acting as if you are in some type of competition with me to see who can run the fastest or the longest.

I haven’t been going to the gym for long, so maybe I’m just not up on what is or is not proper gym etiquette, but this situation really irked me!  (It bothered me even more when she continued to do it for the remainder of the my 28 minute jog.)  What do you think?  Am I being too sensitive about it or should  people just keep their eyes to themselves?

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

Okay, so I have a confession to make.  I’m totally copping out this week.  It kind of blows even my mind that I did this, considering that most of the prompts are really accessible shots to make.  However, I knew that I was going to be super busy this weekend, so I cheated by using pictures from my archives for all of the shots.  If it’s any consolation, I did spend 2 hours of my only free night this week (Thursday) looking for shots to use.  Regardless, I still like all of the shots.  Hope you do too!

1. Water

The ocean waves crashing over one of the jetties on Edisto Beach in SC.

2. Light

The most natural light possible – the sun.  This is taken looking through the sea oats on the dunes at Oak Island, NC.  This island runs more east to west (as opposed to north to south) and so the sun doesn’t rise over the ocean, you have to stand on the beach and look back over the land to see it.

3. Chocolate

They aren’t very fancy, but here are some lovely chocolate cupcakes that I made.  They even had cream centers! (I made them from the Fun-da-middle box cake mix.  They’re AMAZING by the way. Just like the bought hostess cupcakes!)

4. Animal

While this isn’t exactly one of the nicest, or most cuddly animals that God made, I still really love the picture of this bee.  With it being that time again, I thought this would be an appropriate shot to share.  Welcome, Spring!

5. Crowded

 Every September, our town hosts the Lincoln County Apple Festival.  It is definitely the county’s event of the year.  This picture was taken from the second floor of the Court House, looking down at the crowded street below.

 

Cake Decorating – Flowers & Design #1

I kind of love how my blog goes from a post about weight loss to a post about cake decorating.  Can you say oxymoron?  But, like I said from the beginning, this blog is about me becoming my best in any and all aspects of my life.  This semester, I have decided to take these cake decorating classes from one of the local community colleges.  Who knows what it might be next?

Anywho, this past Monday, I began the second course (out of 4) of the Wilton Cake Decorating curriculum.  This course focuses on making flowers and doing some of the more intricate cake decorating designs.  In this first class, we focused on using gum paste to make flowers that could be used to decorate our cakes.  Gum paste is very bland (so it’s not tempting to eat, which is good) and it dries hard.  Therefore, even though it is edible, it’s mostly just for decoration.

After using colored fondant to dye our gum paste, we learned how to make and put together a flower that is cut from a mold.  You basically just roll the gum paste out to the correct thickness, place it over your cut out, and voila! You have your 3 pieces for the button flower.

We put the three parts together using gum glue adhesive, which is made by adding just a pinch of gum paste into water and letting it dissolve.  I liked my first flower, but decided I wanted them to be a bit more colorful, so I made some pink gum paste, took my first flower apart, and made the two below.

We then moved on to learning how to make a pansy.  You have to get your gum paste really thin and then use a (cookie) cutter to get your base.  You then use one of the fondant/gum paste tools to work the petals to make them curl.  You add an additional two petals on top, and you’re done.

For the first one I used just one color, and the second I used two colors.

At the end of class, she demonstrated how to make a batch of royal icing (which is one that dries hard) because we have to make some ourselves for next week’s class.  Can’t wait to see what all is in store!