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30 May 2013

Graduation Goodies - The 2nd Installment

If you're wondering where the first installment of the Graduation Goodies can be found, go to yesterday's post.  Or if you don't feel like scrolling, just click here.

Anywho, on to today's fodder.

First things first, I have to give a HUGE shout-out and thank you to my niece, Pax, who stepped in and sous-chef-ed for me on Friday night.  She didn't have to help me out, but her doing so meant I actually got to sleep a few hours (yay!) and still get everything done.  Thank you, Pax!!

While I did most of the dipping and constructing, Pax was the roller and decorator for this cake ball "cake."  The piece was for her sister (my niece's) graduation party the next day.  Confused yet?  No worries, just roll with it.  Oh, and the photo isn't great quality, I snapped it with my phone after I managed to assemble the "cake" between other deliveries Saturday morning; with everything else going on, I forgot to bring along my camera.  I thought it turned out pretty cool and I only used half a box of toothpicks in the construction! 

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Pax also helped me with these cookies.  She outlined all the whales and embossed the patterns for the monograms and numbers.  Oh, and reminded me not to make the whales look depressed; the first whale cookie I attempted to add a face to looked very sad indeed.  (You can find the cookie at the bottom of this post because, let's be honest, we all know you want to see it.) 

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The cookies were shaped like balloons to compliment the cake, which had a familiar graduation theme.  Can you guess the book?

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This next cake was fun to create since it was a bit outside the box of what a "traditional" graduation cake usually entails.

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Yes, it's a tree stump.  There were cupcakes to go with the cake - one design was a nod to the grad's high school and other a nod to his college selection.  The javelina toppers were made from chocolate and were a test to my patience.

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Speaking of tests of patience - this final cake was in more ways than one.  For instance, the chevron pattern, which looks amazing, is a pain in the rear to apply.  There has got to be a better method than the one I tried.  Oh, and I broke several of the letters that were part of the topper.  Luckily, I had made a back-up set.  I managed to only break one letter from that set - good thing it was different from the others I'd busted, so between the two I had one full topper.  Whew!  Besides those things though, I did enjoy the look of this cake, it had a lot of elements, but I loved the gray introduced with the black and orange.

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That's the last of the graduation goodies!  Looks like I won't need that 3rd post after all, though I do still have all the others to get edited and posted.  Perhaps this weekend...

Talk to you soon!

You're still here?  Not that I mind, but the post is over.  Go explore some more of the blog!

What?

Oh, that's right, I did promise you a photo of the depressed whale cookie.  Well, since you stuck around and had to remind me, I'll give you two photos.  One before I gave him an actual a reason to be depressed, and one after.

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Yep, you guessed it.  I turned him into my mid-morning snack!  No sense in wasting a perfectly good cookie, after all.  Later, gators!

29 May 2013

Reminds Me of That Cartoon...

You know the one...yeah, that one.

Oh, you don't know the one?  I'm referring to the one that shows a disheveled character with the statement that they were put on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things...and right now, they are so far behind they will never die.  That's how my life feels right now.  Of course, we all know that that isn't really how it works - if it did, none of us would mind our ever growing to-do lists.  In fact, we'd probably be searching for things to ADD to the list rather than trying to mark things off.

On the "Positive Polly" side of things, how blessed am I to have so many things to occupy my time and energy?!  Though, with all those things, the blog sometimes gets pushed to the sidelines, my apologies for that.  I appreciate you sticking with me.  And, as a reward, I've got the first of two (might even turn into three) posts of graduation cakes.  Oooh!  Added bonus, I'm going to try to squeeze in an additional post that includes all the others...you know, the birthday and baby shower cakes, mini cupcakes, and other goodies for events that happen even if it is graduation season. *big smile*

Let's get to the first of the grad grub, eh?

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The decorations on this cake were all made from chocolate.  Fun medium to work with, but not exactly the best choice when it comes to delivery on a 100°F day.  That's what full-blast A/C is for!

The next five photos were all part of the same order; I was able to use the graduate's artwork for the toppers on some of the cupcakes and for the main decoration on the cake!  I was told she (the grad) specifically requested a cake from me for her reception, hopefully it lived up to her expectations.  We even came up with a nice summer cupcake combination for her - key lime cake with strawberry buttercream - like a strawberry limeade cake form.

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It was specifically requested that this piece be used on the main cake, but I had the tough job of selecting other pieces to use for the cupcake toppers.  Not an easy task at all!

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All the toppers on the cupcakes, with the exception of the art toppers, were made from chocolate.  Can you tell I was in the mood to work with something a little different.  For the most part, they all turned out well, though the warmth of my kitchen did cause the tassels on the grad cap toppers to spread more than I would have liked.  I couldn't get the pieces piped and the trays in the freezer fast enough to stop the ooze...

And, yes, the color is a bit off in the photos, I was up late.  C'est la vie!

I'll be back soon!  Promise...

28 May 2013

Burnt Rice


You burned the rice!  There's a chance you can save it, so don't immediately throw it out.  How to accomplish the rescue?  Immediately transfer any unburnt rice to a bowl, layer yellow-onion skins over the grains and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Walk away for about 10 minutes; the burnt taste should be banished when you come back.  Mind you, there's no salvaging the blackened grains, it's best just to toss those.

Mmm...tasty!

21 May 2013

Make the Grade


A "Grade B" maple syrup isn't lower quality than a "Grade A" maple syrup.  In fact, the grades simply refer to the color and flavor of the syrup.  Grade A syrups tend be lighter and milder, while Grade B syrups tend to be dark and very intensely flavored.  Grade A syrups are traditionally considered "pancake syrups" and Grade B tends to be used more for cooking.

Mmm...tasty!


16 May 2013

The Dog Ate My Homework

And a few reasons why I haven't shared cake and other goodies with you for a couple of weeks...9 reasons to be exact.  Why 9?  Because that's how many photos I have today, and no, the reasons will not match up to the photos in most cases.

Excuses, you say?  Nah, I refuse to refer to them as such.  They are reasons...good ones, too!  And, no, there isn't actually any homework involved...I haven't had much of that in a few years!

Reason #1:
My to-do list is pages long.  My calendar blocks are so full I couldn't possibly squeeze in another word.  And, my pending orders folder has reached maximum capacity.

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Account #2:
Pioneer Days happened...if you're familiar with the event, no more need be said.  If you're not, take my word for it. *big grin*

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Defense #3:
I took a quick trip to Denver, CO.

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Exposition #4:
I saw Zac Brown Band in concert at Red Rocks!  Amazing show...if you get the chance and are a fan, I recommend you see them.

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Ground #5:
I ran a 10K in the Mile High City.  The thinner air didn't affect me as negatively as I anticipated.

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Idea #6:
The weather is warming up quickly.  My AC has not been working.  It's repaired now and the bill came today.  Decorating cakes with buttercream in 90°F heat is difficult.  Writing the check to cover the bill was painful.

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Justification #7:
I commenced training for the Savage Race.  It's a far cry from my typical training.  It's strangely fun, but I hurt.

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Notion #8:
Mother's Day.  'Nuff said.

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Rationale #9:
Graduation season is in full swing.  It will segue into summer wedding season.  I need a vacation.

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Talk to you soon!  (Hopefully!)
P.S.  Bonus points if you recognized all the reason synonyms.

14 May 2013

Wax Off


You want to keep the container you've burned a candle in, but don't want to have to spend hours trying to clean off the waxy residue.  Two steps to make the clean-up easier:
  1. Place the container (wax and all) in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the wax is completely frozen.  Remove the container from the freezer, then simply remove the frozen wax.  It should remove in one or two large chunks.
  2. If there is still some wax residue in the container, allow the container come to room temperature, then pour in some boiling water.  The wax will melt and float to the top of the water.  Allow the water, wax, and container to cool, then scoop out the hardened wax.
Mmm...tasty.



07 May 2013

Fresh vs Dried


When using fresh herbs (i.e. rosemary, parsley, etc) in a recipe, triple the amount of dried you would use.  For example, if your recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of dried parsley flakes, you would use 3 teaspoons of fresh parsley.

Mmm...tasty!


02 May 2013

It Never Fails

There was snow on the ground around these parts this morning.  Snow!  On May 2nd.  *sigh*  Two days ago it was 90°F, today it's barely scraping the mid-40s.  Not that we locals didn't expect this latest hissy fit from Mother Nature...it is "Pioneer Days" after all.

If you don't know what "Pioneer Days" is, let me give you a quick synopsis - one of the biggest community events we have in my part of the world, it encompasses parades, dances, and one of the USA's largest outdoor rodeos.  Basically, lots of activities that are best suited for warmer weather.  Half the time, we end up with some form of frozen precipitation and gale force winds.  We roll with it and still have a good time though.

So, what does all that have to do with cakes, cookies, and cupcakes?  Absolutely nada...nothing...zero...zilch.  Just figured I'd share that tidbit with you.  Though these cupcakes do but me in a "lounging on the beach" kind of mood.

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The fish and crabs were made from gumdrops.  Have you ever tried to flatten and then cut a shape from a gumdrop.  It's a lesson in patience and stickiness...on every thing!

Did you know last week was National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week?  Don't feel bad, I probably wouldn't have known either, except I was commissioned to create this cake for our local hospital's lab team.

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I also created this fun volleyball themed cake for a sweet girl turning 9 years old.

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The net wasn't edible, but was instead made from millinery netting.  (Bonus points if you know what "millinery" is without Googling it.)  And, drawing the proper lines on a gumpaste volleyball is much tougher than I anticipated; managed to get it done though.

Giant cookie cakes!  I haven't made one in quite sometime, but I was lucky enough to get to make two this week - one of the sugar variety, and one of the chocolate chip variety.

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We won't go into the details of the disaster the chocolate chip cookie version made of my oven.  Suffice to say I was smelling burnt cookie for a couple of days.  No one's fault but my own, I overfilled the pan.  It was about time to clean the oven anyway.

Western themed sugar cookies; perfectly fitting for this time of year.  Bandannas with sunflowers, jean pockets, boots, cowboy hats, and horseshoes.  The "shoes" were embossed with the lucky guy and gal's first initials.  (The cookies were for a wedding shower.)

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Oooh, and I went on a brownie binge this week, too!  No, I didn't eat any of them, they all went out the door, but I was sorely tempted.  Variety is the spice of life - basic fudgy brownies with chocolate chips, peanut butter swirl brownies, and cheesecake swirl brownies.  All topped with a little extra drizzle of goodness - caramel, white chocolate, or dark chocolate.  Mmmm...mmmm...mmm.

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Most people get 24 to 36 brownies from a single batch.  Not this girl.  I'm lucky if I can eek out 12 brownies from one recipe.  I don't believe on skimping on the size when the goodies are for an order.  I'd cut myself a smaller piece...probably.  Though might depend largely on how the day has gone...

Talk to you soon!