Leap Into Spring Challenge: Rain/Water

We’ve been getting a lot of rain this week.  Unfortunately for my camera-taking, it’s been while I was stuck inside at work or at night.  But here are my pictures for this week’s Leap Into Spring Challenge.


This shot was actually taken with my iPhone.  It’s the raindrops on my windshield as I drove to work one morning.


Nothing like sitting on a pier and looking out over the calmness of the lake.

Now, head on over and look at all of the other great submissions for this week! Leap Into Spring Photo Challenge

Cake Decorating: Gum Paste & Fondant

Last week, my friend Megan and I began the third course of the Wilton Cake Decorating classes.  In this course, you learn how to make different flowers with gum paste, how to cover a cake in fondant, etc.  I’m doing my best to document the class in pictures, but there are only 3 of us in the class and we’re trying to cover as much material as possible, so it’s not always easy to capture things.

In our first class (which didn’t get it’s own post because I don’t have any pictures from class) we learned how to make a bow out of a 50/50 gum paste/fondant mixture.  We also worked on using gum paste to make bases for the rose, the carnation, and the mum that we would complete in later classes.

Our second class was last night and it was a lot of fun!  The first flower we worked on was a Calla Lily.  The main part of this flower is made by rolling out the gum paste, using a heart-shaped cutter to cut a piece out, and then wrapping the gum paste heart around a cone.  You then take some yellow gum paste and roll it out to make your center piece.  We also put yellow sugar sprinkles on ours to make them a bit prettier. 

We also worked on our carnations in this class.  We first cut 6 circles and used one of our tools to ruffle the edges.  Then we used the base that we made in class last week and basically built the carnation on top of it.


What it looks like after the first three circles are added to the base.

This is the completed carnation using six circle layers.

Finally, we made roses out of gum paste.  You start with a teardrop shaped base for this and then build around it.  For this flower, I did manage to capture most of the steps (because there are so many!) so I have put all the pictures I took here below with the captions explaining what we did.

First you roll out your gum paste to less than 1/16" thickness. In other words, it should be so thin that you can see the lines and numbers of your mat coming through.

Next, you use the large flower cutter and cut three flowers from the gum paste.

Before working with each flower, you need to cut a small slit between each petal. This will allow you more flexibility when wrapping the petals as you build your rose.

You then move your flower to a piece of thin foam and use your ball tool to soften the edges of each petal.

Once the petal edges are softened, place the flower onto thick foam. You then use your ball tool to cup the petals. This is done differently on each of the three flowers in order to give the rose a more realistic look.

After prepping the first flower, wrap it around the base that you had previously prepared. When all five petals are placed around the base, you have a rosebud. You can stop here, or continue on to make a medium rose.

After wrapping the second prepared flower, you have a medium rose.

Upon using the third and final prepared flower, you have a full-sized rose.

These are the two large roses that I made in class.

That was it for this week’s class!  Next week we are making daisies and a ‘mum’ that looks more like an artichoke!

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

By now you know that Sunday on my blog = Ashley’s Scavenger Hunt Sunday post.  Here are my interpretations for the prompts this week!

1. Yellow

A double dose of yellow!  Not only is the casing of the stoplight yellow, but I caught it while the actual yellow caution light (aka the gas it and try to make it light) was lit up.

2. Something that makes or made you smile

Making another appearance in my scavenger hunt (although it has been two months since his last appearance) is my dog, Baxter.  He makes me smile on a daily basis.  Even his annoying habits, like staring at you non-stop until you take him for his 3rd walk of the evening or laying his head on your shoes because he doesn’t want you to leave, are still kind of cute.

3. Ancient or Antique

So….what do you do when you own no antiques and have a scavenger hunt photo to take?  You visit an antique store, of course!  I really liked this violin/fiddle (we’re in the South, so it was tagged as a fiddle) and it’s beat up, old case.  But I also liked this silver tea set, so I had to include this second picture as well.

4. Splash

My Pinterest-inspired flower pots that I put together are a nice splash of color against the fairly drab color pallette of the outside of my house (it has gray siding and black shutters).

5. In the Sun

I don’t know what it was about this dandelion standing alone in the yard.  But the way that the sun was hitting it as it began to set had me itching to take a picture of it….literally, because I had to sprawl out in the grass to try and get low enough to catch both the dandelion and a bit of the sun.

That’s it for my interpretations this week.  Click the button below to check out many other amazing photographers and their interpretations!

Leap Into Spring Challenge: Blossoms/Trees

It’s Friday!  In addition to it being the end of the work week, it’s also the day to post Leap Into Spring Challenge pictures. 🙂  This week’s challenge was blossoms or trees.  I couldn’t choose (I have a hard time with that occassionally) and so here are two pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Hope you enjoyed.  Click the link below to check out all the other great shots!

Leap Into Spring Photo Challenge

The Race that Defied the Laws of Nature

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about signing up for my first 5k which was this past Saturday.  The event was the Hike for Hope and 5k, sponsored by a local ALFA organization that supports 7 counties in our region.  Because it was a regional event, it was held in a town that was about 45 minutes to 1 hour away from where I live and so I got to wake up extra early to get there on time. Yay. 

After arriving and checking in, I received my road id and shoe tag.  The road id made me feel a bit more reassured….at least I knew they could identify my body if I passed out or had a heart attack at some point in the race.  I was also excited about the shoe tag because 1) it would give me my official time and 2) it – and the ties they gave us to attach it – matched my shoes. 🙂

A little before 9:00 am, we all made our way to the start line.  I went ahead and placed myself near the back because I didn’t want to be trampled by, or be in the way of, the serious runners that were there.  Spirits were high, everybody was making jokes, they gave us a countdown followed by an air horn blast and we were off.  The adrenaline did help me get past the initial inclines. Yes, inclines.  Plural.  I knew it would be a long 3 miles.  Especially when we got to the main part of the trail we were running on and I saw this:

Sorry it's blurry. Taking pictures with your iPhone while trying to jog or at least walk fast is difficult.

I was not happy about the slight incline.  Especially when it NEVER. ENDED.  But this was a 5k where we were running to a certain point and then turning around to come back to the finish, so I just kept telling myself “at least the incline is at the beginning, you’ll get to come downhill the whole way back.”

I made my way to the mid-point and hit my second wind; I was completely ready to take this downward sloped trail all the way back to the finish line.  But then I noticed something.  Something that defied what I ever thought possible.  But, no, maybe it was just for a few tenths of a mile….keep going. And then it NEVER. ENDED.  So I stopped to take a picture otherwise nobody would ever believe me.

WTF?! You have GOT to be kidding me!

I never thought I would see the physical embodiment of the old saying “uphill both ways” but it happened on April 14, 2012.  I had always thought that it was just something your grandparents said to make it seem like their lives were that much worse than yours (i.e. ‘When I was a kid I had to walk to school in the snow and it was uphill both ways.’).  I’m still baffled by this and think that some type of scientific study needs to be done on the area to see how it is possible.

Despite my amazement, I kept going.  After all, I wanted to meet my goal of under 45 minutes.  I finally got to the point where I could see the finish line through the trees, so I made sure I started jogging to really finish strong.  I turn the corner and, of course, it’s UPHILL to the finish line.  I then regretted starting my jogging so early because I kind of wanted to stop.  But, at the finish line, there are people standing around and cheering, so the pressure not to stop kept me going.  I crossed the finish line and struck a victory pose for the photographer – big cheesy smile and arms raised in the air.  This is another regret because I’m sure it looks awful or is embarrassing…and that means it is sure to pop up in a local newspaper or online somewhere.  Oh well.

My official finish time was 42:31.  YAY! I met my goal!  AND I got an award! (see the pictures below for explanation on that)  It felt really good to do something that I would never have done before.  It really taught me that, if I set my mind to something, it is possible.  Next up for me?  Finding another 5k to run and striving for a new goal. 🙂

Here are a few other pictures that I took from that day.  Enjoy!

Road ID - for positive identification in case of medical emergency.

My shoe tag - I feel so official now!

I think the heavens opened and angels started singing when I ran through this thing.

I wasn't last! Yay!

I actually qualified for a certificate! Forget the fact that I'm pretty sure I was 1 of 2 people in my age division, so an award was kind of inevitable. I still got one! I'm also trying to forget that the 3 men in the 70+ category all had better times than me...

This week, I’m linking up with the wonderful community of bloggers at Yeah Write.  Click the link below and check out some amazing writers. (Edited to say that you can’t actually click this link until Tuesday.)

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

1. Simple

I love the simple beauty of looking out into a field and seeing wild daisies scattered around.  It always reminds me of “You’ve Got Mail” and Meg Ryan’s character saying that daisies were such a friendly flower.

2. Grain

Have you ever noticed that no two pieces of wood ever look the same?  There’s always at least a slight difference in the grain.

3. Transportation

In some parts of my home county (and possibly in some parts of the US), this might be considered appropriate transportation.

4. Stitch

I decided to be less creative with this one.  I think it speaks for itself. 🙂

5. Bubble(s)

I think today might have been North Carolina’s most windy day of 2012, so getting the bubble shot that I wanted was nearly impossible.  And then, of the ones I took, I couldn’t choose between these two pictures and so you get both.  The first is of some bubbles floating into the sky.  The second is a bubble wand.

Now head over to Ashley’s Ramblings and Photos to check out the other finds!

Leap Into Spring Challenge: Easter/Egg

Easter is one of my favorite holidays.  Mainly because it’s a time to get together with family without all the hustle and bustle that Christmas brings.  One of my favorite things to do for Easter is dye eggs even if it’s just a few.

The next is a photo of two of my young cousins out finding all the eggs that were hidden for them to find (they were plastic eggs filled with goodies instead of the real hard-boiled eggs).

Leap Into Spring Photo Challenge

Birthday Cake Experimenting

Recently, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to make a birthday cake for her daughter’s 8th birthday party.  I am always welcome to the idea of getting more experience, so I gladly accepted.  She sent me a link to the plates/napkins/invitations for the party and I came up with a design.

She liked the design, and so I set out to make the cake.  I decided to make the cake a bit more fun by dying the batter to give it that rainbow/tie-dye look.  After mixing the cake batter, I divided it into 3 cups and colored it.

Then I poured the cake batter into the pan in a circular pattern until all the batter was used.  Doesn’t it look pretty?

I had to bake it for about 35-40 minutes and it looked really good when it came out.  I was excited!

And then this happened.

Luckily, I had an extra cake mix and so all was not lost quite yet.  I started over – this time I lathered my pan in Baker’s Joy spray to avoid it sticking – and everything worked out fine.  I baked a second layer and it came out great as well.  I then leveled the cakes stacked them together, and did a crumb coat to prep it for decorating.

After doing the base layer of icing in brown, I made all my other icing colors and decorated the cake based on my design.

It took about 2 hours.  When I was finished, I was honestly ready to scrape everything off and start over.  You see, I hate butter cream icing.  I don’t particularly care for the taste (it leaves a film in my mouth) and it is just a horrible mess to clean up after.  So I used a store bought icing that my cake decorating teacher assured me would be fine to use.  It was not.  I hated how it looked.  The base layer would not smooth out.  The decorating parts looked runny.  And so, lesson learned: I will always, always use butter cream icing in the future.

However, I did not scrap everything.  The finished product was nice….it just wasn’t as perfect as I wanted it to be.

The coolest part was cutting it at the party and seeing how the colors ended up baking together.

In the end, the cake tasted great and I was able to learn a lot through the experience.

Photo Link-up Fun

When looking at different people’s pictures for Scavenger Hunt Sunday at Ramblings & Photos, I stumbled upon some other photo link-ups that I thought would be fun to join in on.

First, is the Leap into Spring Photo Challenge hosted at live and love….out loud.  This week’s challenge was sunshine/light.  What better to share than a beautiful spring daffodil with the sun casting light through it’s petals?

Leap Into Spring Photo Challenge
Next up is The Simple Things.  This link-up, hosted by Rebecca at Simple as That, is described as being “all about celebrating the simple moments and simple joys that make you smile each week.”  This past weekend, I looked out the front door and saw my little boy, Baxter, soaking up the sun.  Oh, the hard life of a pup!

That’s it for this week.  I can’t wait to start participating each week now!

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

Yay!  Another week of hunting.  And it seems especially appropriate this week with all of the other Easter Hunts going on.  Here are my interpretations:

1. New

Spring is one of my favorite times of year.  Here’s a picture of some new leaves beginning to sprout on a tree.

2. Life

On this day, I am especially reminded that I have new life in Christ because of his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection.

3. Fragrant

There were so many things that I thought of for this prompt.  But, in the end, I decided to pay homage to the wonderful invention that keeps the fragrance of cupcakes in my house all the time: my Bath & Body Works Wallflower.

4. Pink

I love dogwoods in general (it’s the state flower, how could I not?).  Pink dogwoods are my favorite and I thought it was especially fitting for Easter.

5. Obvious

Really?  The road is closed?  I mean, the fact that THERE IS NO MORE ROAD kind of made that obvious to me.  But I guess for those other people (who probably shouldn’t have a driver’s license), thanks for the sign and excessive amounts of barriers.

Now go to Ramblings & Photos and check out all the others!