Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm thankful that I'm still here to celebrate it with my wife & son and everyone else in my life. It's been a good long weekend and we managed to fit in quite a bit. We enjoyed our Thanksgiving meal with Beth's family this year. The food was excellent. Nathan wasn't so sure about some of the food but had a good time, especially playing with his cousins. I ventured out Friday morning for some Black Friday deals like I do most years. It's crazy but I get a kick out of the experience. Friday afternoon I put up our Christmas lights after finally finding the right hardware to hang them up. Most normal hooks won't work with our new leaf-guarded gutters. Saturday morning we made Lefse with Beth's parents like we do each year. However, we decided to do it at our house this time which worked out well for Nathan and his nap schedule. The Lefse turned out great and will be enjoyed through the holidays and the rest of year whenever we decide to pull some out of the freezer. Saturday night we got together with my parents and my sister and her family for some Thanksgiving leftovers and good family time. We wrapped up the weekend with my niece's 5th birthday party on Sunday night. Overall a busy but good weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Wine Label Honorable Mention

I'm happy to report my Apple Wine label got an honorable mention in Winemaker Magazine's label design contest. The latest issue of the magazine arrived at the house with the results of this years label contest. The competition was good, and the winners had some fun label designs. They awarded some big prize packages to first, second, and third place. Mine was one of 16 other honorable mention labels. According to the magazine I won a Carboy Cleaner, so I may be receiving a package in the near future. Thank you Winemaker Magazine!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wheel Cake!

Growing up in a family of artists has instilled a creative drive in me that cannot be ignored. I enjoy opportunities to be creative and make things, and baking is no exception. Growing up it was always fun to have my mom's creative cakes at our birthday parties, and now that I'm a parent I want to do the same for our children. Besides, it gives me a chance to be creative and have more fun than I would have going to buy a cake at the store.

For our son's first birthday party we had to feed 12 adults and 9 kids, so we would need a big cake, or maybe two, and one small cake for the birthday boy would be fun. At one year old, there's not necessarily much that a baby is "in to," but I can say for sure he likes spinning things. Mostly the wheels on his toys. So why not cake(s) shaped like wheels? Seems simple enough. Not quite as complex as his Baptism Cake, but that's OK by me. I'll save more complex designs for the future.

I made two boxes of cake mix, but divided up the batter evenly by weight so I could make three round cakes. Our only round pan had angled sides, so I used a springform pan instead, which worked very well. Bake-Even strips made a big difference too, keeping the cakes fairly level, and not too rounded on top. The cakes are much easier to work with, cut & sculpt, and frost when they've been frozen. So I made my three cakes ahead of time, wrapped them in plastic wrap, and froze them overnight.

Why three cakes? Two would be the base of each wheel. The third would have the center removed, which would become the birthday boy's personal cake. The remaining "donut" shape would be cut in half, and placed on the first two cakes as the raised shape of the tire. The picture at the right shows this in better detail.

Decorating was fairly straightforward. I used white frosting from the store and used black coloring to make different shades of gray. The base cake got a coating of light gray which would separate the layers and give color to the "hubcap" area. The outside of the cake got a dark gray frosting, and at my wife's suggestion I added some blue to the hubcap for a splash of color. A Monochromatic gray cake wouldn't be as fun, right?

With the help of a ziploc bag and cake decorating tip I put lettering on the cakes and we were done! I would have enjoyed adding more details, but my time and energy were limited, as being a parent can sometimes do to you. Still, it was fun and I think it turned out well.

Everyone thought the cake was wheelie good.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Nathan

My wonderful, happy little son Nathan turned 1 yesterday! The time has flown by. We had all the immediate family over last Sunday for his party (grandparents, aunts/uncles, and all his cousins). It was a packed house with 12 adults and 9 children under the age of 5. Poor Nathan started the day in the Emergency Room at 5am, battling sickness and teething issues for the last couple weeks. At the time the doctors thought he might have pneumonia, but it seems more like a teething issue, but he was prescribed am antibiotic just to be sure. Thankfully he was back to his happy self in time for the birthday party.

Nathan enjoyed playing with all his cousins and relatives, and experiencing all the activity in the house that night for his party. Since Nathan loves anything that spins, especially toy wheels, I made two wheel cakes for everyone, and one little cake just for him. He got his hands good and dirty with his own little birthday cake, but we had to feed him a few bites since he doesn't usually feed himself. Once he got good and messy with his cake (as you should at your first birthday), it was straight to the bath tub! Nathan got some fun gifts from everyone and it was great party.

Yesterday we had our own little celebration. Nathan got some new foam blocks and a couple other small items from us, and a slice of cake with dinner. He definitely enjoyed his cake, as he giggled with each bite we fed him.

Happy Birthday Nathan!