Monday, August 24, 2009

Old-Time Vacation

Hello All,

Well I had a nice relaxing weekend. How about you? I spent a lot of time with my family and I even got to try out my sister's kayaks with her yesterday. We had a ton of fun out on the water. It was nice to just be able to relax and enjoy a little bit of what is left of Summer. The weather has been better here lately, and I think it is going to warm up some again.

This week, my family and I (including the animals), well all except for my Dad who is planning on braving the smell, have to move out of our house because we are getting our floors re-finished. My sister is staying at her boyfriend's parents' house, so it's just Mom and I and the pets who are going. We are staying just up the road from our place at what use to be an old summer home, back in the day, for some very wealthy Americans. It's really quite beautiful. It's like going back in time when you step in there. I really love it, and am so excited that we get to spend the week there.

Since there is no TV or Internet connection there, I'm bringing along my knitting and my sewing machine. I'm hoping to have lots of time to work on projects.

Well that's all for now! I don't think I will have a chance to check in until next Monday, so have a great week all!!

I'm off for vacation!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Confessions of a Wedding Cake Baker - Day 4

Good Morning,
Well it's all over. I haven't heard from any of the wedding attendiees yet to know how it went over, but I did get you all tons of pictures!! I'll try to upload as many as I can. My server is quite slow today, so I'll see how many I can do.
I should start back where I left off yesterday. Now let me see, where was I?? Or right, I was going to do the stacking and piping. Well the stacking went much better than I was expecting. I was quite worried about how I would pop each tier on top without messing up all the icing, but it worked out great. My sister guided me and I just slowly snuck my fingers out from underneath it. Then it was on to the piping. I did a #12 dot bottom boarder around all cakes, then I did a #352 leaf boarder around the top. For that, I did two rows slightly spaced apart so they would overlap. To finish it all off, I piped #3 dots in triangles on the bottoms and along the tops under the leaves. I was following the design for Martha's wedding cake in her baking handbook.

Next we did the flowers. I say we, because my sister was the one to arrange them all and tape them together to make pretty little bouquets. We placed them together, and then we were ready for delivery. Now if you notice that those are silk flowers and not the fresh ones I was talking about earlier, well there's the little story behind that: Yesterday morning my Mom was reading in Martha's wedding cake book about putting fresh flowers onto cakes and she said that you can't have the flowers touching the cake incase they are posioness. Well, I freaked out (because this was completely last minute), and did some online searching and Mom called the florist, trying to figure out if the flowers we had were or were not eatable, but we both came up with nothing. There was no definate answer, everyone just said "well, it's better to be on the safe side." Then I came across a post by a lady who had used eatable flowers in a meal she prepared and her son happened to have hay fever, and eating the meal almost sent him to the hospital. This got me thinking about how many people seem to have some kind of allergies, and I decided that it really is better to be on the safe side. But now I had no flowers for the cake. Mom came up with a brilliant idea, and ran downstairs to get a wreath she had and we started to take out the flowers that were pink and white. Luckily my Mom has impeccible taste and would only have flowers that looked like real ones, no tacky ones here! When all was said and done, I was happier than I thought I ever could be with how the cake turned out.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Confessions of a Wedding Cake Baker - Day 3

Good Morning All,

Today is the day. I'm excited and nervous about it. I did manage to get the cakes all filled and iced last night by around 10-10:30 pm. I had some help from my Mom and my Sister, and if it wasn't for them I would probably still be icing. Here is a little tip for anyone who wants their icing to look smooth around the sides of the cake: use a metal bench scraper. What you do is, put your cake on a turn table, then while holding the scraper in one hand along the side of the cake, turn the cake with the other hand, and it smooths out the sides. It does a really good job, especially when it's late at night and you can't see anymore.

Today's goal is to put in the dowels, stack the cakes and then pipe on some decorations and place the flowers.

I'll post pictures once I get things more together, right now it is a rush against the clock. Wish me luck!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Confessions of a Wedding Cake Baker - Day 2

Hello All,

Cake Day #2 is now in process. Yesterday was a day off from this business since I had a doctor's appoinment and also needed to pick up the rest of the supplies. I'm now armed and ready. Bring on the cake!

My, that is a lot of cake....This looks like it is going to be a very long day! My goal is to fill and ice all the cakes so that they will be ready for construction tomorrow.
Well, I'm off to get busy, I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Confessions of a Wedding Cake Baker - Day 1

Hello All,

Here is the knitting picture I promised yesterday:

The details:

Pattern: 'Little Pumpkin' from Itty-Bitty Hats by Susan B. Anderson.


Orange - Peaches & Creme Cotton -#11 Sunburst

Brown - Patons Wool Merino - Taupe

Green - Bernat Cotton - not sure what colour since the ball band was missing, but it's dark, almost a forest green

Needle: US 7 circular and dpns

Gauge: 5 st per inch

I loved making it, I have a thing for pumpkins and since I'm in the Fall mood already (which has been put aside for a bit due to the unusually warm weather we've been having - thank goodness), I thought it would be a perfect project for a day of car knitting. I wasn't disappointed. I love Susan B Anderson's books (can't wait for her new one coming out soon!), and I have a thing for knitting hats, especially for little baby heads. It was a lot of fun, and very quick.

On to other things; now about the wedding cake, I thought I would do my best to keep you all up to date on the whole process. I can't promise anything, as I have no idea what this is going to be like, but I would love to share it with you if possible. I already have a picture of the cakes (most of them) that are in our freezer.

The only ones missing are a white 10" layer (which is still cooling), and a strawberry 10" layer (which is in the oven as we speak). There are 6 three-layer cakes in total (I decided to cut out one of the 8" cakes from around the bottom because it was just getting to be too much cake!!). Each cake is a different flavour: the bottom tier - chocolate, middle tier - Neapolitan, top tier - white, and the 8" rounds are; lemon, coconut and red velvet. I can hardly wait till Friday afternoon to see it all come together. The wedding is Friday with the reception at 7:00 pm. I need to have the cake there before 6, so I am aiming for 4ish. I sure hope it works! Wish me luck!!

I'll do my best to keep you posted. Gotta go, I hear the timer beeping!!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Morning

Good Morning All,

What a lovely day here today. It's starting to shape up to be a sunny and warm summer's day! I'm very excited. The only downfall is that I have to spend the majority of my day baking cakes in the kitchen. :o( Oh well, what can you do.

How was everyone's weekends? Mine was good. We did get away for our little shopping trip on Saturday. It was very nice and I even got to sneak in some knitting time while in the car! I'll give you a sneak peak today, but I'll post the finished object tomorrow. ;o)

Here is something exciting that came through my bloglines feed the other day that I wanted to share with you: ysolda has written a second book called Whimisical Little Knits Book 2. She writes about it here. I just love her designs. I've been admiring her creations for quite a while although I haven't purchased her first book yet, but I think that I must very soon. She is so amazingly talented.

Well that's all I've got for today. I need to be getting back to my baking.

Have a great day!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What Lies Ahead...And a Quick Project

Hello All,

I truly believe what my "little" coffee cup up there says, "Behind every successful woman is a substantial amount of coffee." My Mother bought it for me because when she seen it she said she thought of me. And here I was thinking no one was noticing my ever increasing coffee addiction...

Things around here are about to get very hectic, rushed and busy. It's like the calm before the storm right now. That is why, while I had the time, I made this:

It's the "Pin Cushion Caddy" from Anna Maria Horner's book Seams to Me. If you recall, I mentioned here that I had got her book and just fell in love with it. (I honestly stare at it when I'm stressed and try to imagine myself making things from it to soothe my soul). Well the other day was the first time I've gotten a few spare minutes to do some sewing, so since I had some fabric on hand, I decided to give it a shot. It did turn out slightly (an understatement here) larger than Anna's, but I still love it. All the more room to cart things around in I say. ;0) Here are a few pictures of it in progress.

This is me trying to decide which colourway to make it from...the pink/brown won out, but don't feel bad for the blue/green...I have other plans for it.

This is it being sewed. I'm adjusting to sewing on a machine I got for my birthday last year. Its a Husqvarna Viking Iris Embroidery machine. Its great for embroidering, but I hadn't used it before for actual sewing. Well the other day while I was using my old cheapie, it just kept screwing up till I got to the point of wanting to throw it out the window. I thought, 'Oh I'll teach you cheapie, I'm going to bring out the big girl! Now you've had it! Hahaha!' It works quite nicely I must say and I do not miss old cheapie at all (well hardly anyway...).

Now about all this insanity that is about to break loose...Here's the skinny: This weekend I think the girls in the house are going on a Petoskey shopping trip for the day (fun, fun, fun!! Haven't been away with my sister in ages!). Then Sunday I have to do more "test" cake baking before I start on the real cakes...oh wait...did I forget to mention that I'm making a wedding cake to feed 200 people for this Friday??? Well, it's the truth. I'm scared out of my pants, but I'm going to jump in with both feet and pray my way through! I'll be sure to post pics along the way of the whole 'cake journey.' I've been test baking today as far the coconut cake has past approval, which is good. The cake is going to have a 3 tier stacked for the main cake, and then 4 cakes that will be placed around the bottom. I've been given pretty much complete creative license over this, so I'm quite excited! There will be at least 5-6 different flavours of cakes...that's why I'm doing test cakes right now, actually they are cupcake versions of the cakes I'm going to do. All in all, this should be pretty interesting/exciting/nerve racking!! eek!! Anyways, back to the heticness...Monday I have an appointment in the city followed by supplies shopping and whatnot, then Tuesday is my actual baking day (don't worry, I'm freezing them!). Wednesday I have another appointment in the city, with hopefully some last-minute pick-ups. Then Thursday I will be filling, icing and assembling the cake as it is due on Friday. Put all this together with the other things that are bound to pop-up and my increasing nervousness...and it makes for quite the week to say the least. Lucky for me my sister is taking this next week off from work, so she is around to give me a hand when things get rough! :0) Gotta love sisters!!

I'm off for some more baking...

Have a good night all!!

P.S. I "treated" my self last night and ordered some fabric online!! Here in the Great White North, we have a hard time getting our hands on anything of real nice quality, so I thought I'd do the next best thing, and ordered myself up a batch!! I can't for it to get here!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Little Baking

Hello All,

How is everyone's weekend going? Mine has been good so far. The weather here hasn't been the best, but it was nice to just relax yesterday due to the rain. I did some baking, actually I should call it recipe testing since I was trying out new recipes looking for some new favourites, which was fun. What can I say, I really enjoy baking, especially when it involves trying something for the first time.

I made this.

And after a little mixing...

There were these.

Which were named "the best peanut butter cookies ever!" by my Mother.

I got both recipes from Smitten Kitchen and you can find them here, and here. I highly recommend trying them out. The blueberry crumb bars are a great way to use up either some fresh blueberries or frozen ones from last year, which is what I did. And like I said, my Mother thought the peanut butter cookies were amazing, so those are definitely worth a try! I had to leave four out in a baggy for her to snack on while I froze the rest because she said if I didn't do that she would eat them all.

On another note, today was Elizabeth Zimmerman's birthday, and according to The Yarn Harlot's page-a-day calender, it is a knitters holiday. I'm very excited, because I've never had a knitters holiday! Yay me!! "What do people do on knitters holidays?" was the question I was asked by my Mother when I told her about it. "Oh, you knit of course!" is what I said in reply, as if I've been enjoying them all my life. Honestly though, I really don't know what you are supposed to do. I mean I just assumed that knitting would be the thing, but what if it isn't? Is there anyone out there who knows what I am really to do? Maybe I should do some research...
Happy Weekend!
P.S. This is just a little something to put a smile on your face. How's that for spunk??

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bountiful Baskets

Hello All,

These are what I found awaiting me on the dinning room table the other day.

Look at their rosy red hue. So juicy and sweet!

I was seriously excited, my head was bubbling with ideas of what I could do with them. I thought and thought, and this is what I came up with.

Actually, this is what I had the ingredients on hand to make since I hadn't been to the store yet. But it turned out great and my Dad was happy. (He is a huge raspberry pie fan, and a fresh one was all the better according to him.)

Here's to enjoying the bounty of the season!


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ladybugs, Bumble Bees and Pies...Oh My!

Hello All,

These are the cupcakes I made to bring for dinner when we went to my Aunt and Uncle's cottage on Tuesday night. Their two grandsons are camping with them as well, so I wanted to make something that I knew they would get a kick out of. They ended up being a huge hit! I'm so pleased when my baking is well enjoyed. It makes my little heart sing. I love bringing joy to others through something I've made.

Here's a close up of a ladybug.

The cupcakes are the white buttermilk cupcakes from Martha Stewart's Cupcake book. The instructions for the ladybugs and bumble bees are from there also. I'm a huge Martha Stewart fan, so I highly recommend this book. It's chock full of great recipes and adorable ideas. The icing recipe is a marshmallow fluff buttercream from Hello Cupcake! which is another great book if you enjoy making these delectable little cakes. I find they are the perfect thing to bring for picnics and outdoor eating, because they are contained in their own little liners and are easily enjoyed with little mess or clean-up.

I will leave you with a picture of a blueberry and raspberry pie I baked this morning for a customer of mine.

Happy Knitting!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Harbour Shots

Hello All,

I did get down to the harbour last evening for some pictures. It wasn't in the same lighting as the night before, but it still was stunning. I got lots of pictures that I hope in the future I can use for inspiration for some paintings. I've been working on my watercolour painting skills the last few days. About 3 years ago I took a two day class on painting, but I haven't done much since. I got to thinking about it a while ago, and thought I'd like to get back to it. I'm not very good, but I find the whole process very fun. It's relaxing in a sense, and fulfilling to create your own interpretation of a scene or feeling. I prefer to do my paintings in a little less detail than most, but that's just my personal preference.

I'm attempting to make dinner tonight for the family. What I've got planned is, Southern Fried Chicken, Cherry Cola Salad, Tossed Green Salad and Red-Skinned Potatoes. For dessert I made some lemon bars, which are my sister's favourite. She specifically asked for them this morning when we were having our coffee together. She's a big fan of anything lemon. I'm hoping everything works out, and tastes great. Now I am off to work on the preparations.

Happy Knitting!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Change in the Season??

Hello All,

It feels like Fall here today. I hate to say it, but it really does. I'm trying to find something to bake for the family, and I keep being drawn towards things like warm crisps, pumpkin and apples, and fragrant spices such as cinnamon and ginger...all the makings for some cozy sweets. This may just be me, but since we've had such a cold summer, it really seems time for it to be Fall. There's that little "something" in the air, I don't know if you'd call it a crisp, a slight chill, or a harvest-time smell, but it is there. I'm not a fan of Winter, but I truly do love Fall. It's such a beautiful season, full of excitement at seeing the leaves change into some of the most magnificent colours. Here in the north, it comes sooner and is quite quick, so you have to enjoy every minute of it. Every year I find myself trying to fit as many Fall crafts into the season as is humanly possible. It can get a little hectic, but I love the rush of trying to get them done before the leaves fall off. No matter how much I love the season, I do not want to see Summer end. I am going to hold on to it for as long as I can! The forecast for our area says we are to be colder than usual for the first 10 days in August, but I can hope for a warm-up for the remainder of the month now can't I?

Last night was our neighbouring community's Community Night. I walked down to the harbour to look at the boats, and seen the most magnificent scene ever! And me without my camera. The way the clouds were placed and the reflection of the sailboats in the fading sunset was amazing. I'm hoping to get down there tonight, this time with my camera, and maybe I'll see a similar sight. One can only hope. Wish me luck!

Happy Knitting!

P.S. I wanted to share this little saying, because I feel it makes the cooler weather seem not quite as bad:

"When the bold branches bid farewell to rainbow leaves - welcome wool sweaters." -B. Cybrill