Monday, November 5, 2012

Why I Like My Camera

My photography skills are not so awesome, and my kids often don't cooperate (gasp). Oftentimes, it is a numbers game...

 But if I just take enough, I can some pretty stinking cute pictures of them. My hubby totally rocked when he bought me my camera for Christmas last year.

A bit of updating....with cake

I completely skipped many months of writing on this blog. This period of time included my two youngest kiddos' birthdays, along with the birthday of my oldest daughter.

Princess wanted a Jasmine cake. Why a Jasmine cake? I have no idea, beyond the fact that Jasmine is a princess, she is not one of our Princess's favorites. However, my little girl was very sure that this is what she wanted, so I did my best. She blew out all five candles like a champ! The domes and the four pillars are made with gfcf rice crispy treats. I tried using cake, but it just flopped. Squirt thought they were delicious!

Squirt did not offer up much input for his cake, but since he loves Lightning McQueen and Mater, I was pretty sure he would be happy with a Cars cake, complete with toy cars (because there was no way I would be able to make those out of fondant). He needed a bit more help with the candles since he just seemed content to let them burn for a while.

 For Gizmo's birthday she wanted apple pie. The pictures are on my husband's camera, but there really is nothing that neat to is just apple pie.....with candles. Add to that the fact that she is getting older and I do try and respect that fact that me posting pictures of her blowing out birthday candles is not all that cool anymore. :) She is always complaining that I never make enough pie, so she was very happy with her birthday apple pie. I made three for her and everybody who helped us celebrate, served up with Rice Dream ice cream, and I do believe she almost finished off an entire one by herself.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

 Hope everyone had a fun Halloween 2012. I know that we sure did. We decided to take the kiddos up to my parents neighborhood for trick-or-treating since our neighborhood has lacked Halloween spirit for the last couple of years, and it was pretty awesome. One neighbor set up a haunted woods, while another was passing out homemade root beer and cookies. Even though we could not enjoy the cookies (because of gluten), the root beer was nice, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the cute decorations on all the houses.

From youngest to oldest, here is what the kids were this year:

Thomas the Tank Engine. The gardening gloves are not part of the costume. He just likes them and would not take them off for pictures. 

 Merida (from the movie Brave)

 A gryphon

 Nike, Goddess of Victory

Friday, June 8, 2012

Cake Friday

In case you didn't notice, I have skipped a few Cake Fridays. Getting back into real life after the cruise has not been so easy, especially when I got glutened soon after. As I have started feeling better, I got the crummy news that it looks like there is even more stuff wrong with me than having gluten and dairy issues. The high levels of homocysteine I have in my blood (which puts me at about double the risk of stroke, heart attack, and Alzheimer's disease) is looking bad, and I now need to get another test done to see if I have a gene mutation that is contributing. At least, that is what I understand of it now. Apparently it is bad enough that I need to go in for a 45-minute consultation with the doctor, for which she insisted that I need to go into the office, and not have a phone consultation that I had hoped for. Bah, Humbug!

So there is my new sob story. I suppose I have not been taking the news so well, and have been extra emotional lately, so I figured my loving family was in need of a Cake Friday.

I had planned out making a chocolate cake with caramel in the middle (yep, dairy free caramel), but the sweetened condensed coconut milk I had previously made never made its way into caramel, despite the fact that I boiled it for five hours. I will be trying again in the future though, as the promise of caramel is just too great to resist. I followed the instructions here. I just ended up filling the cake with regular frosting and sprinkled mini chocolate chips in it.

I am quite happy with my progress with fondant. Even though the fondant I was using was a bit dry, so prone to cracking, I still had a much easier time with it than I did, say, a year ago. That is worth a little happy dance right there.

 Why pink and purple? I have no idea. My only guess would be that Princess has been asking to watch Tangled all day, so maybe I had some inspiration there. I was going to make more realistic gum paste roses, but Squirt was really wanting to "help", so I settled for easy ones. Spike also helped me make them; his is one of the ones on the bottom. :) As I was too flippin' lazy to make better piping frosting, I just used the kind I did for the filling. It is a bit gloopy and messy looking. However, the cake was promptly cut into about 10 minutes after I finished it, and no one complained about the unsightly icing.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Home from the Disney Fantasy!

We are home once again after having a wonderful week aboard the new Disney Fantasy cruise ship. It was an absolutely splendid week and I was no where near ready to leave. We have sailed twice before with Disney, aboard the Magic and the Wonder. While both of those voyages were great, I do believe this was my favorite. I love the art nouveau and art deco design of the classic ships, and the Fantasy didn't disappoint. It was absolutely gorgeous! I will write some posts about some of the things we did during our week in paradise....but for today I thought I would show you at least some of my favorite details of the ship.

The lobby of the ship is the first place you see upon boarding. It is breath taking and my pictures don't do it justice.

The peacock-inspired chandelier.The chandelier.
A view of the lobby. Can you spot Aurora?
Looking down onto the lobby carpet.
I love the low-key bit of Disney fun!
Yours truly by the Mademoiselle Minnie statue.
The Walt Disney Theater, where all the big productions are held, is a masterpiece. Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures of it. I did take some pictures of the area right outside though.

The big kids and Walt.
While it is a little odd, I admit, I am enamored by the elevators on the ship...

The elevator area nearest our stateroom.
Elevator doors...note the Mickey hand pointing to the floor it's on.
The floor inside the elevator. It is actual stone that is inlaid!L

Because our little girl has to frequent the bathroom often, I saw many of them around the ship. I absolutely hate public restrooms, but every one I entered while on the ship was wonderfully clean and beautiful. They also have actual doors and walls, not stalls. Just one more way that I wish the real world were like a Disney cruise. I normally did not have a camera on me while in the restroom, and that might freak people out anyway, so I don't have many pictures. At one point I was the only one in one of the restrooms in the adult area of the ship and so I just had to take a picture of this mosaic.There were many wonderful mosaics around the ship...I just found it incredible that this one was in a bathroom!

If course, being on such a beautiful ship is so much better when you are sharing it with those you love.

My handsome hubby.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cake Friday

Just one week! That is all we have left before we leave to start our cruise on the Disney Fantasy. The advent chain I set up for the kids is looking extremely short. I am beyond myself excited. It will be a bit of a hectic week with all of the packing and getting things ready that needs to be done, so I am sure it will go by quickly.

The kids really liked the cake I made today. The ship on top was made by baking a small cake in one of my mini loaf pans and then doing a bit of carving. It is a very simplified version of a Disney cruise boat, and not all that accurate, but I did not want to spend hours on it. And in the end, it brought smiles to my hubby and kids' faces, so I am happy.

FYI, it is chocolate cake. :)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Cake Friday

Can you guess what type of cake it is? Hopefully, it is fairly obvious that it is carrot cake.

I have never been a fan of carrot cake, which is probably why I have never made one, gluten-free or otherwise, before today.  In fact, today I came pretty close to never making a finished carrot cake at all. Not one batch of cake, but TWO, completely flopped. I am not sure what went wrong, since the recipe I first used had good reviews. Sometimes cakes just don't work out though. I wish I had taken a picture of the sad mess just so you could feel my pain. They puffed up, overflowed into a big mess, burnt on the bottom of the oven (which had to be cleaned up after each attempt), and then slumped into a nasty looking bit of cake-sludge in the pans. 

For the third try, I tried a slightly different recipe which I found here. It sunk slightly, so I may want to fudge around with the amounts of baking soda and baking powder, or perhaps I just overbeat it. Taste-wise, I thought it was marvelous. The cream cheese frosting was the perfect complement. Since we eat casein-free here, it was tofutti cream cheese, which is actually pretty dandy stuff.
Although this was my first time baking carrot cake, it was not the first time I have made fondant carrots. Just for fun, I thought I would throw in some pictures of a cake I made for Thanksgiving a few years back.
It's a turkey cake, complete with fondant carrots, potatoes, greenery, and white leg poof things (I have no idea what they are called). Since I am nerd, the breast portion of the cake was white chocolate, and the dark meat portions were pumpkin. I suppose this isn't really the correct season to post this, but working on today's cake just reminded me what fun it was.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Packing for our Cruise

Our Disney Cruise is quickly approaching, and although I am not packing the suitcases yet, I have been making sure we have what we need. With a family of six, packing for a week long vacation is no small feat. When you add in special outfits for formal evenings and pirate parties, it is enough to make steam start erupting from my ears. That is why I made up this nifty little chart to help me out. Each member of our family gets a sheet of their own, and we just fill in the necessary outfits.

Packing Chart
I am offering it up here so that maybe some other frazzled cruise-planning mommies (or daddies), can have a bit if an easier time packing. If you can drop me a line if you decide to use it, it would make my day.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cake Friday

Yep...I know....St. Patrick's Day is tomorrow. It was just too close to resist making a themed cake though, especially since tomorrow I will most likely be too busy. The shamrocks are a bit pathetic looking, I admit, but I did have a lot of fun piping them. It is almost meditative to sit and draw with frosting. I have to remind myself to stop before the cake looks ridiculous. There is always a bit of piping that never shows up on a cake. A while back, I started giving the kids what we have come to call Frosting Tattoos. With a little bit of leftover icing, I pipe a design on the back of one of their hands. Squirt has already started holding his hand out when he sees me with a piping bag.

But wait....there is more....

Ta da! My first successful attempt at marbling a cake! I have tried the more common way of marbling that involves putting half the batter, that is normally colored, into the pan first and then covering it with the colored half of batter and swirling it around with a knife. That has never worked for me, so I tried to think of something that would. In the end, I just had two bowls of batter, one colored and one regular, and alternated them with plops of batter into the center of the pan. Afterwards, I just gave the pan a little jiggle, and it was good to go. Unfortunately, my first batch of cakes this morning sunk. I tried to color and flavor the colored portion with lime jello. I guess the cake spirits decided in was getting too cocky because it has been a while since I have had a cake fell and decided to teach me a lesson. Lime juice and green gel food coloring worked much better.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dr. Seuss Birthday Cake Friday!

In honor of Dr. Seuss's Birthday today, I made a Green Eggs and Ham cake! Well....a cake decorated like green eggs and ham, the inside is chocolate with chocolate chips buttercream filling. The kids all liked the wonky shape of the cake before I even got the fondant put on, so I guess this one is a winner. Since I really wanted it to look like the illustrations in a Dr. Seuss book, I tried a new technique and painted the blue coloring on the bottom and the big black lines. I am pretty pleased how it turned out, especially since it will just be devoured in a couple of hours anyway.
A close up of the decorations.
I tried to get another picture just so the crookedness showed a bit better.