Wednesday 24 July 2013

Adventures in Cake Decorating

I don't have many trips planned at the moment - the next one is a weekend away in Quebec City with Brian and his mom which I will definitely blog about. I went to Quebec City with my mom after I graduated grade eight, and then again with Brian on our Honeymoon and have always found it to be a beautiful and magical place so I am excited to go back. 

For the time being I figure I will try my hand at using this blog for other posts. First up, my cake decorating. 

Growing up I was never really into baking/cooking. In fact, at my bridal shower I was the butt of a lot of jokes as I had no idea what some of the kitchen related gifts were called or what they did as Brian took care of the kitchen part of the registry. I am still pretty much that way with cooking - though I have mastered a few dishes (vegetarian lasagna, clam chowder soup, risotto, couscous, and avocado enchiladas (thanks Pinterest!) but I have gotten into baking. 

It started when my Aunt Honey and I were talking about this cupcake/cake decorating craze and decided at the spur of the moment to take a course together. We found some Wilton ones being dome the local Michaels and signed up. Aunt Honey is the closest person to Martha Stewart that I know as all her cooking, home decor and organization skills are amazing. Needless to say it was a bit intimidating taking a class with her because I knew whatever she did would be perfect... LOL and it always is! I am the one borrowing supplies, covering myself and the table in icing and making at least one small mistake on my cake, whereas she and her cake were always flawless! She doesn't even wear an apron and come away completely mess/free!  But there is no one else I would rather do this activity with, as its a great chance to spend time together and have some fun.

We stated with Level One - basic skills and the following are my results. 

(My fancy kit that my parents surprised me with) 

(The first cake I decorated that had a cupcake on top) 

(Learning to make flowers.... To this day I still can't make a rose. Whatever this is, is the extent of my icing flower skills)

(Final project - naturally I chose an Elmo cake!)

(Level One is complete) 

After this introduction we took a few cupcake classes to try our hand at something else. I found cupcakes less stressful and more enjoyable. Before this, I was a cake person... Thinking cakes looked better and were better to do. Now I still prefer to have a cake, but much prefer to bake and decorate cupcakes. I use a mix, but play around and spice them up a bit. I have successfully used liquor in them like Baileys, Malibu and other flavoured alcohol along with adding things like fresh fruits, juices and nuts to the mix. I quite enjoy the experimenting process and have a list of eager taste testers! 

(Photos: cupcakes I did in a "cupcake couture" class) 

(The first one is my favourite!) 

(Photos: cupcakes I did at home for various parties/occasions. Here I played around with various styles, designs, icing flavours and techniques. I love the edible glitter effect, and topping the cupcake with something in fondant based. My most recent accomplishment was two/three toned icing which I did for work just before the Christmas holidays) 

My grandfather hosts an annual golf tournament each year so I was enlisted to put my skills to use and make the cake. It was a challenge --- and it reinforced how much easier cupcakes are! 

(Photo: 2012 Cake - which was the biggest cake I had ever done at this point, and it took over 6 hours to decorate and came with a lot of stress and snappiness) 

(Photo: 2013 cake which Aunt Honey and I did together! Much easier and more fun! (She did the writing, as that's one skill I need to practice!) 

We then went on to do level 3 - Gum Paste and Fondant. (Level 2 was full, so we went out of order a bit) 

(Photo: learning to make a giant bow) 

(Flowers - still can't master the rose. The orchid isn't bad though!) 

(My final product - A Halloween cake that I took into work) 

(Another view) 

(Level 3 completed!) 

We took another cupcake course, this time for Halloween/Thanksgiving. This was a lot of fun! 

(Photo: making a cupcake look like an cherry tart) 

(This is supposed to be a scary ghost, but honestly it's more like the cartoon  character in those old Christmas movies) 

(Scary eyes!) 

(My favorite - the turkey!!! This is one of the best things I learned/did) 

(Group shot) 

(I made the eyes for our work Halloween party) 

I bought some new pans one of which was this skull that went on mark-down after Halloween. It's cool, but I need a lot of practice with it. Here are my sad attempts. 

Next Halloween I vow to master this! 

For Christmas we took another cupcake course, this time decorating some of the cutest cupcakes ever! I loved this course and what cupcakes we did. 



(A wreath) 

(Adorable snowman) 

(Group shot)

Then we enrolled in level 2 - Flowers and Cake design which used Royal Icing and Fondant since they finally had some spots. This was taught by a different instructor and we loved her! 

(Royal icing flowers) 

(My final project cake --- I brought it to work and someone actually wrote a note "this is real, and you can eat it" because apparently there was some confusion over it!) 

This was my first time doing basket weave, which was harder then it looks! 

(Another level successfully completed!) 

We plan to complete level 4 - advanced gum paste soon which will give us all the Wilton certifications, but I also want to keep taking cupcake classes as I enjoy decorating them a lot! 

There you have it, my adventures in cake decorating!! 

Greece: Day Eighteen - Home!

Brian and I were up early due to jet lag, but that gave us time to repack/organize and have breakfast. Brian also wandered around the hotel and took some photos of the nearby marina. As much as I joked with him about his obsessive photo taking, he got some amazing photos of the trip... Not always awesome photos of me though. LOL

(Photos: the marina) 

We took the shuttle back to the airport and didn't have too much of a hard time with tickets and security since it was 8am. I did have to take a few things out of my rolling carry-on due to weight limits but once I was through security I put it all back in anyways! 

I used my Tugo again... I seriously love this thing. 

Brian was very excited to see his favorite coffee chain from CA in the airport and rushed over to get coffee both to drink at the airport and to make at home. He convinced me to give them a try and they were good... I loved my coconut mocha and they had the cutest little hummus/veggie snack packs. 

I had a sandwich from Earl of Sandwich which was amazing - it was my first time there. So yummy! We browsed around the airport - it has a lot of cute stores and places. The Philly airport totally beats the Athens one! 

Our flight was short - only an hour. (3 planes in 2 days was a little too much in my opinion) so I was glad when it landed. 

(Photo: Brian and I on the plane) 

We again breezed through customs - we had good luck on this trip! I was particularly grateful as I didn't keep any receipts. When we entered into the arrival area I didn't see any family so we headed outside to the pick-up area. I totally missed my mom in my excitement to be home and see my family! We eventually met up and had lots of hugs! I did the same with my dad and we headed home. 

Just as we pulled out my mom let out a scream as she got a NHL alert that her favourite player and team captain of Ottawa was leaving for Red Wings. Thus the ride home was spent with her and I on our phones reading all the news and updates rather then talking about our trip. (Brian and my dad thought we were nuts!) 

We got home and had some time to unpack/relax (now I unpacked right away... truth be told its been a few weeks and I think Brian is almost done!)  and then we had my grandparents over for a welcome home dinner. As much as I loved the food in Greece, it was nice to have some lasagna and garlic bread! We told everyone about the trip, and showed a few photos. By 9pm we were both exhausted and ready for bed. 

We had a wonderful time and it was awesome to spend time with the family as we don't see them as often as we would like. I really got to know my nieces and nephews better, and spent some great quality time with the various in-laws. They are all such amazing people, and I love them so much. I feel lucky to be part of Brian's family! :) 

(Photo: the group photo from Turkey)