Just A Frustrated Baker

Anyone who knows me well know that I really don’t enjoy cooking – I have to be in the mood.

I do enjoy baking though, but usually only Christmas cookies. The whole month of December our house has the best smells – and containers of all kinds of tasty cookies piled all over the kitchen, waiting to be devoured by family and friends or packed up and given as gifts!

But secretly I’ve always wanted to learn the art of cake decorating. I’m always just so amazed at the beautiful cakes so many bakers turn out, seemingly on a daily basis. Pinterest can sometimes drive me crazy because I see all these fantastic sugar creations that other people have made. If only…..

Pinterest Wedding cakes
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Here’s a treasure chest a friend of mine made for a birthday party, and she’s not even a professional baker!
birthday treasure
Aren’t they incredible? So why not me….?

Well, probably one main reason. No matter how hard I’ve tried, I just cannot frost a cake. No matter what I do there are always cake crumbs stuck in the icing. Really attractive! I’ve tried many times to make frosting flowers, and we won’t even discuss those fiascoes! And certainly I have no pictures!

I have friends who turn out masterpieces from flour and sugar – and they’re just amateur bakers who should really open their own businesses. I have other friends who are professional bakers and create beautiful wedding cakes and birthday cakes. Like this magnificent creation from a collaboration between Jessica from Cake Delights and Catherine from Catherine’s Distinctive Floral Designs…layer after layer of gorgeous wedding cake with fresh roses in between each layer!

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So this frustrated baker gave up! Try as I might, there was never any question that whatever cake I made and decorated certainly involved no help from ANYONE else!

But then…problem solved! With no oven or other cooking skills involved. It was perfect. All I needed was a set of towels or a package of diapers, and a couple of trips to the craft store. No ingredients to spoil. No pans or bowls to wash. No recipe to follow. Nothing to refrigerate!
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And I can even use actual cake pans to put the diaper cakes together!

Best of all, I can do the decorating at my leisure; and if I don’t like the way it looks, all I have to do is unpin a few things and re-arrange them. If I find items in the craft store I like, I can buy them and keep them on hand for future creations without worrying about them spoiling or going stale!

So who wants a cake? Guaranteed it won’t be underbaked, burned on the bottom, and it can be kept around for a long time without it going bad!
Cakes and Cakes
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Want to hear something really funny? We received a postcard a few weeks ago from a local culinary school addressed to “Pastry Chef” at Cake-A-Bye Baby! I have it sitting on my desk! I think I’ll frame it! Or change my title on my business cards!

So be sure to visit us at Cake-A-Bye Baby to shop for your next calorie-free confection! You can order early! It won’t go bad!

Photo Sources: Top Row: Photo 1-2: Source Unknown; Photo 3 – Foodista.com Second Row: Photo 1-2: Sweetcakebox.com; Photo 3: Likeitshort.com – Treasure Cake: Personal Files – Rose Tiered Cake: Cake Delights – Remaining Photos: Personal Files

Engagement Photos

A few weeks ago our daughter Ashley went from Virginia Beach to Honolulu to visit her friend Erin, who is also one of her bridesmaids. A portion of this blog is re-posted with Erin’s permission from her blog, Crafty Girl Problems.

“Aloha! During Ashley’s visit she asked me to make a few things for her upcoming engagement photos. I said, “uh duh, yes.” We made a few stops at craft stores around the island and we got our materials. I spent all week working on little signs in our down time. I even had the bride to be help with the base painting and top clear coats. She pretty much let me do my thing and trusted my artistic hand all while giving good ideas and opinions to make the signs turn out even better. I think I taught her a few of my crafty ways too!
CandA
Ashley and her fiance Chris are huge dog lovers. Between the two of them they have two fur babies and have their minds set on another pup before their wedding in 2015. Ashley and I were throwing ideas out there for her signs and we came up with a sign specially for the pups! With that, my pallet addiction took over, yet again. I honestly think that the sign for the pups could possibly be my favorite of my recent crafts. I just love the little milk bone on the left side of the sign. Be sure to tell me what you think.
Our Humans

When I first walked into this local craft store (a week before Ashley got here) I had my eye on this little string of hearts. I was teetering on buying it for Kristen’s wedding but for the life of me, I couldn’t think of how to use it. When I took Ashley to the craft store I was pretty happy when she wanted to get it.
Hearts

We had the best idea to print her wedding date on it and I love how it turned out.
Finished Hearts

After seeing all of my chalkboard paint works of art, Ashley knew that she wanted one for herself. Here is what we came up with. A beachy sign for the beachy couple.
Chalkboard

Such a busy touristy week and I still had time to make all of these little cuties! Can’t wait to see how the engagement photos turn out! Congratulations love birds.”

Erin, you and Ashley did a great job, and I promise you will be helping out with more decorations and ideas for the big day in 2015!

Ashley and Chris had their engagement photos taken this week, and we’re so excited about how they turned out that we have to share. The signs were used perfectly, and their dogs actually cooperated with our photographer! Course, they were all dressed up in their blue polka dot bow ties, so they had no choice!
dogs with signs
Please follow this link to see more of Ashley and Chris’ Engagement Photos. We love how all of the signs were used, as well as how beautiful these pictures of our daughter and future son-in-law came out. Special thanks to our very talented photographer, Amanda Hedgepeth Photography in Virginia Beach. And for those of you who read our blog featuring the starfish wedding cake toppers, how do you like Ashley’s photos with her ring being worn by the starfish? (I just wonder how Amanda got her to actually take it off her finger??!!)

Feel free to leave your comments on either our page, or our photographer’s page.

Champagne and Starfish

Every bride has her own ideas for what she wants on top of her wedding cake. Sometimes the groom even gets a say in it, although in our experience, the bride usually has the final word….if she even consults the groom!

With beach themed weddings so popular these days, and since we’re located in a beach area, naturally we’ve done several beach-themed cake toppers. Starfish are really popular these days, both for reception table décor as well as cake toppers. In fact, we hadn’t even thought about doing anything with starfish until a local baker asked if we could make a starfish bridal couple for a client she was working with. So we created our first Mr. and Mrs. Starfish!
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They were so popular we ended up making several more, including a special order for a Florida couple who wanted their son, who was going to be the ring bearer, incorporated into the cake top display.
Starfish
That was fun, and gave us ideas to create other starfish couples! What do you think of these?
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But our favorite cake toppers are still our champagne cork couples. Winery themed weddings are also very popular now, and with the state of Virginia (where we’re located) having over 200 wineries, well, our champagne wedding cake couples certainly have a lot of places they can visit! Of course, not all wine themed weddings have to take place at a winery.

We like to have our starfish couples a bit glitzy, after all it IS a wedding! And most of our champagne cork brides and grooms are also elegantly dressed, as you can see here.

3 Toppers
My Corks
Cork Couples

However, who said champagne can’t be enjoyed on the beach? So we created some beachy cork couples and dressed them in more casual wedding attire and surrounded them with shells.
Shell Tops
As you may have read previously, our daughter is recently engaged, and planning a beach themed wedding. With starfish.

And although she’s already picked out her cake topper, wouldn’t some of these look great as part of the table decorations?
Starfish Toppers
If you’re interested in any of these cake toppers, contact me to discuss.

Who Wants Cake?

Must apologize for not updating sooner. There’s been so much going on recently –
the biggest project being our search for the perfect wedding venue for our daughter and her fiancé – one that is pretty, beachy, and bright, with great food, and – oh yes – affordable! More to come on that….

However, there are several areas that will most likely be a lot more fun than picking the venue, and one of them is obviously choosing the perfect wedding cake!
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Just the idea itself conjures up all kinds of sugary ideas. The best part, of course, is going to all the tastings! After all, you have to be sure the cake is as delicious as it is beautiful! And everyone’s tastes are different, of course. In this case, the bride prefers yellow cake; the groom prefers chocolate. And mom (ME!), who is planning the event, thinks almond is the perfect wedding cake flavor. Then you have the Father of the Bride whose favorite cake is one with raspberry filling, which the bride doesn’t like at all!

So where to start…what to do!

The last wedding we planned featured a non-traditional wedding “cake”, although many brides are opting for this choice today. She wanted cake pops. That should be easy, right? Well, not if you’re looking for cheesecake cake pops! We searched and researched – thought we found someone – and they were totally booked for the wedding date! (And we didn’t even get to taste!)

Searching again finally led us to another baker in the area (cheesecake cake pops are evidently not the easiest things to make). Hooray! We went to visit – tasted – and that was it! Perfect! Beautifully decorated and in a raspberry flavor/color to match their wedding colors. (Even my daughter – the next bride – who hates raspberry – loved them!)
Cake Pops

They were a huge success! And then our baker’s husband got transferred and they moved to another state…..

Although we have plenty of time before we need to address the wedding cake issue, I decided to sort of start the ball rolling early. After all, since I make wedding cake toppers, and I happened to have a few of my latest creations in my studio, and we were having our annual flamingo pool party, what better time to introduce my flamingo wine cork wedding cake toppers than at the party! And of course have the newly engaged couple practice cutting the cake! (With one layer chocolate and the other yellow, of course!)P1000550

They did a great job, although I didn’t make them practice feeding each other. Plenty of time for that later….and I didn’t want either of them wearing cake for the rest of the evening. It could tend to get a little messy in the pool!

We had so much fun with the tiered flamingo cake, I decided to try another style on our bride-to-be for her birthday cake! My champagne cork beach bathing beauties looked awesome on her cake….and the palm trees and umbrellas were the perfect touch! And no, I DIDN’T make this. That’s what bakeries and pastry chefs are for!
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Of course, we forgot that the umbrellas were made of paper, and the candles got a little too close to the umbrellas, and, well, it was interesting to watch the umbrellas sort of disintegrate! Not to worry, we didn’t catch the restaurant on fire, and the bathing beauty corks are fine!
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So does this make you hungry? Or better yet, how about give you ideas for decorating your next cake? Take a look at some of the cake toppers and our other corky beaded goodies we make, order the one(s) of your choice, and start designing!

A Very Special Cake

Over the last several years I’ve made a lot of towel and diaper cakes for some very special recipients, including one of my daughter’s best friends whose wedding I planned and coordinated a few months ago.

But last week when I made one of my mini towel cakes with a beach wedding theme, complete with an “engagement ring” and a champagne cork couple designed after the recipients, it was the most special one I’ve done….because it was for our daughter Ashley and her now-fiance Chris!P1000226

It was most definitely a labor of love, but I do have to admit I had a lot of conflicting emotions running through me as I designed and made this particular cake. Excitement, absolutely, because her dad and I knew he was going to propose, and we knew he was going to ask her on the beach during the fireworks! Ashley, on the other hand, had no idea, as it should have been!

His plans were all in place, and as Ben and I sat at a restaurant on the 4th of July waiting for her excited call, we were almost as excited as we knew she would be! And of course, their first engagement gift was to be that special creation I’d made just for them! I only hoped they liked it.

Of course, when Ashley called, I could barely understand a word she said, she was so very, very happy! It’s the moment all moms and dads think about as their daughters get to that certain age, and also wonder how they’ll feel. But I have to say, we were almost as excited as they were! And very proud to welcome our future son-in-law to our family.P1000228

So Ashley and Chris, this is for you. The first gift of many as you begin to plan for your big day, and for your new life together. Dad and I wish you two nothing but the best…..and now, my role as Mother of the Bride/Wedding Planner begins in full force! Sure hope Ben has his checkbook ready……the ring enhanced

A Proper Salute to the 4th!

As our country prepares to celebrate the 4th of July this week, I wanted to take a few minutes to discuss my thoughts about this particular holiday.

Yes, we celebrate with cookouts and picnics…going to the beach or the park or other fun locations to watch fireworks! Most of us (those who don’t work in the hospitality or entertainment industry, or retail, or emergency services, that is!) have the day off to enjoy with our families and friends.

Our homes and yards are seen sporting red, white, and blue; we even have one of our “famous” flamingos in the front yard decked out in her patriotic colors, complete with Uncle Sam hat! We make desserts and other goodies to resemble our flag. And yes, our craft studio is no exception…we’ve even made this set of red, white and blue wine bottle pendants, just for patriotic parties!
Patriotic Corks

But we also need to take the time to remember what this holiday is really for. It’s actually Independence Day, as you know…the day we celebrate our nation’s actually becoming its own country…the United States…with our freedom being declared from England! Our ancestors fought hard for our freedom. Our brave men and women who served and are still serving in our armed forces put their very lives on the line every day to continue to make sure we keep our precious freedom. And we thank and salute each and every one of them for their service!

Without them, I hate to think where we’d be!

Now…do you know why fireworks are used for 4th of July celebrations? They were first used on July 8, 1776. Possibly since fireworks were traditionally used as a birthday celebration for the kings and queens, the shooting off of fireworks was done to celebrate the end of the king’s power over the colonies. The first official July 4 celebration was held the following year, on July 4, 1777, in Philadelphia, which was the capitol of the United States at that time. Soon other cities followed Philadelphia’s lead, and there you have it! The rest is history!

Being originally from Maryland, every time I hear the “Star Spangled Banner” I also tend to think about how similar the fireworks must look to what it probably looked like at Ft. McHenry when Francis Scott Key wrote about the “rocket’s red glare and the bombs bursting in air”! Only those were real ammunition….not mere fireworks!

Even though July 4 was not declared an official federal holiday until 1941, it had been celebrated unofficially, since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. With the federal recognition, celebrations grew to what we have today.

So as you enjoy your cookouts with friends and family, and “ooh” and “ahh” over the fireworks, please take a moment to remember the sacrifices made by so many so that we can all enjoy the freedom we so often take for granted!

God Bless America! And Happy Independence Day!

4th July

Corky Friends

I don’t remember why I started collecting wine corks, but I just did% and although I don’t like champagne, I started off collecting them as well% and decided they needed to be recycled into something fun after they had no more use in a bottle. And their shape is just so unique. And then there are the Petronius corks…..

Now here’s a bit of trivia I bet you didn’t know — have you heard that the first wine corks were actually used by the French monk Dom Perignon, who is also sometimes rumored to have invented our modern day champagne? Well, we don’t really know for sure if that’s true about the corks or not, but it sure makes a great story! (And he really didn’t invent champagne!)

But we really do like those shapely champagne corks because they just lend themselves so nicely to becoming cute little “people”, dressed up in beads and ribbon and all styles of dress!

Cork People

Some of them are couples and make great cake toppers, and some of them have actually become beach bathing beauties with really colorful beach hats! And even flip flops…..

Since I liked playing with dolls so much as a little girl, and each one had her own name, naturally I couldn’t resist naming my bathing beauty cork creations. After all, I don’t want the to feel like I don’t love them…and they’re just so cute!

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And even though it’s just the beginning of summer, we can already imagine what kind of Halloween and even Christmas characters these fanciful corks can become! So many possibilities….

Now we can’t ask you not to re-name them when you take them home, but they’re really used to their names, and I’d have to confuse them.

You DO understand…..???