Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Love/Hate Relationship

I don't know why I do it to myself. About 3 times a year I do something that I am so conflicted over, so stressed out about, and SO completely obsessed with. I have practiced, failed, retried, "stayed the course", trained, and nope, we're not talking about a marathon here. I'm talking about baking and decorating my kids birthday cakes.

This is a major source of stress in my life and Duglin's birthday is coming up next weekend so the strategic planning has begun. This all started back on Daylor's 1st birthday. I REALLY wanted to make his first birthday cake. I had in mind this "simple" & cute hedgehog cake. (I know, a hedgehog cake for a first birthday? What was I thinking? Apparently, I wasn't. All that nursing I did must have sucked the brains cells dry.) There was just one itsy-bitsy problem. I couldn't cook.

Like the good mommy I was, I ventured out into the uncharted territories of baking and attempted to make this joker. Umm, attempted. This was my fourth try. The first I burnt. The second I drop on the floor. The third fell into a bazillion pieces when I dumped it out of the pan. Finally, after calling my best friend and cousin and sobbing to her on the phone for an hour, I tried, yet again, and came up with this. (Kinda creepy looking, huh?)

I am not one to ignore challenges. I forced myself after his birthday to commit to making the cakes every year. "WHY!??!?!?," myself screamed to myself! Because it was and still is hard for me. Sure, I could just order one, but because this is such a challenge I make myself do it every birthday. The first 5 years I HATED it. I whined and I complained. I continually burnt and broke most of those cakes, and I had to control myself as to not cuss at every Duncan Hines cake mix I saw. I even begrudgingly took some cake decorating classes. I kept trying and still do.

But now, even though I couldn't say it's something I would enjoy doing everyday, I have learned to like it when those birthdays come around. I enjoy the creativity behind coordinating the cake with the birthday themes the kids pick out.

I have done LOTS of car themes:

I also like the cakes below because they are what I call "interactive cakes." The first pictures are of Daylor's last year's cake. He had a Hot Wheels theme and so I found the rad car launcher that we let him and a couple of the other kids launch Hot Wheels cars into before we served it up. (This the only time of year we let the kids play with their food.)

Then, there was this cake which is probably one of my favorites. We found this cute remote control Caterpillar bulldozer. We made it look like the bulldozer had plowed through the cake and then let Duglin, push the cake around and off on to our guests plates. THAT was a most excellent cake, especially with a kid whose is a hands on kind of guy! It was a blast!

I LOVE to use props with my cakes, and at Daylor's 4th birthday he was really into dump trucks. Target had this huge dump truck in it's summer stuff for $5.00 and I made this AWESOME recipe that included crumbled chocolate cake, (I used Devil's food and milk chocolate for two different colors to have a more realistic "dirt" look.), Cool Whip, a little bit of strong brewed coffee, chocolate pudding, and Heath bits. I poured it into the truck's bed and popped in a few candles. Looks like dirt, but tastes sooooooo good! Fast and EASY!

I have made a few dinosaur themes including a Dinosaur Park cake complete with a picture of Duglin walking his T-Rex.

We've done Blues Clues and frog ponds. One of Duglin's nicknames is "Frogga."

I am even venturing out a bit and doing a few cakes for close friends and relatives.

But my absolute favorite cakes to do are my girlie-girl's cakes.

My favorite and best cake by far was for Perri's Cinderella themed birthday last year. It took three hours to complete, but I did it!

So there ya have it. My love/hate relationship. With cake. And this Friday night I will once again trash the kitchen, dye my fingernails green with food gels, and wonder what is wrong is with me as I make another culinary birthday surprise for my precious Duglin's birthday party. I have a LONG way to go and someday I might even be brave enough to try to use fondant, but for now it's just me, my lazy Susan, and my Wilton tips. Wish me luck!


Amy said...

WOO HOO!!!! Go mommacita!! This is incredible! What wonderful gifts for your children!! Seriously! I totally get the whole want and desire to make their birthday cakes... mine have not turned out as beautiful as yours!! Great great job!! I am so inspired looking at all of these!

Anonymous said...

WOW! Those are all fantastic! You know, you don't HAVE to be the Rembrandt of cakes each time, do you? So, how many WEEKS do you spend on each one?

They look great!

Abbie Johnson said...

those are great--you have definitely improved too. I love the bulldozer one, so creative! you've inspired me to go beyond my rainbow cake (did ya see it?) and try something else next time :)