Pucker Up 3

Swell & Good

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Final class

Tonight ended my fourth and final class of Course 4: Advanced Gum Paste Flowers. It was a fun, yet challenging class. It was great to meet new people and learn some really neat flowers. It sad my cake classes are least for now. Hopefully I can take a cookie class with my instructor. That's only a one night class though, but I would love to learn how to do some fun cookies.

Below are pictures of some of my work from course 4. After taking this course, I can see why some cakes are as expensive as they are. These flowers really do take time to make. I spent quite some time on these and they aren't even perfect. Sure once I practice more they will take less time, but they will not be something you can pump out in 5 minutes. Some take days to make as you have to let the gum paste harden. They are also SUPER fragile. I barely set one down today and the tip of a petal broke off! :(

Gerber Daisies, Small Blossom Flower and the center for the Sweet Pea. The Gerber Daisies were my favorite, but are incredibly fragile when they dry. Can you guess why they were my favorite?

Briar Rose. This was a fun one to make. My coloring of it came out terrible, so I decided not to post the final picture, plus part of it got broke with all the transporting to and from class. Just imagine the petals lightly dusted in pink!

Various ivy and lily leaves for the final projects.

Sweet Pea with Ivy leaves. This is a fairly simply flower to make, but takes some time. The center has to be made in advance so it can harden. Then the rest of the flower can be finished. After it hardens you can dust the edges with pearl dust. I didn't do that though because I forgot to do it before class!

You might notice there is a difference between the center and the two edge flowers. I only had two completed Sweet Peas and after putting my final project together my instructor said "looks nice, except your supposed to have 3 as bouquets are made with 3 or more." Oops...luckily one of my classmates Emma had a spare!
Stargazer Lily. This is a fun looking flower, but kind of a pain to put together. First when I went to look over the list of supplies I needed for class tonight, I didn't realize I needed to have 3 wide white lily leave and 3 narrow white lily leaves. I scramble to make 3 wide ones and hope they harden enough before class! That was at 4 pm today!!!

The biggest challenge with putting this one together is just holding the leaves in place as you wrap florist tape around the stems. You finish it by adding 3 green lily leaves. Mine ended up a little close together, but overall it came out nice.

I learned a lot in this class. First, is that before I decide to apply to become a Wilton instructor, I need far more practice with this course! Second, it is amazing what you can do with gum paste. And third, I'm going to miss taking the courses and getting me time....and giving RC and Travis their guy night as well!


On Sunday, Feb. 19th, I went to a surprise shower for Anne M. It was great to meet some new people (her neighbors) and deliver another awesome cake! It was so hard to not post to facebook or here about the cake I was making for her shower. I so badly wanted to post "this cake is turning out amazing" or "this cake is taking forever to bake." I kept it secret though and when Anne showed up to the shower she was completely surprised. Her neighbors had organized this one which meant less for me to do, until I offered to make the cake!!! I had fun making this one. It was a fairly simple cake, but still helped me to work on various skills.

Originally the idea for this cake was to actually make the boots on top of the cake out of Rice Krispy treats, but after giving it some thought, I decided how cute it would be to just use the actually ceramic boot planter that Jan, the party organizer, had bought and filled with flowers.
It was perfect as a cake topper. The cake is a 12" round base with an 8" round top tier. Both are funfetti cakes as it is one of Anne's favorites. The cakes are covered in homemade marshmallow fondant with fondant ribbons and buttons. It was super cute and super delicious.
Her gift was also tough to keep from her. I had to ask her some questions about the baby's name, initials etc. On Friday, when we had the MOMS Club joint shower for her and Jennifer W., I had given Jennifer an awesome new tote from Thirty-One with her baby's name on it. It was so hard to keep it a secret and hold this gift until the surprise shower. I wanted to trick her a bit. Here's a picture of her opening her gift.
The Thirty-One product is a Mini Utility Bin in Flutter and I had her baby's name embroidered on it. It was filled with wipes, baby lotion and wash, diaper rash cream, and some bibs. It was also super cute and made a great gift.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Moms Club Joint Baby Shower

Today I hosted my first baby shower. Leading up to it I was kind of nervous. At first, the shower was going to take place at another members home, but I was still planning it. While our apartment is big, other play groups have been chaotic. The party got moved to our place 2 days before! That made me more nervous. Not only was I baking the cake, but now I had the whole place to have presentable...uh oh was my first thought. I worked hard to finish the cake and even got some decorating done! It helps that RC was pretty good and I was able to do a lot of work after he went to bed.

It went over well though. The kids played in the sun room while the mom's and other guests hung out in the living/dining room. It also helped one of the girls was able to get two girls from church to come supervise the kids so the moms could actually attend the shower! We played Baby Jeopardy, had some great food and punch, and finished off cake! The kids played hard and had fun. RC played with the big kids and looked to be having lots of fun. So much fun that he took a 2 hour nap, then got up for 30 minutes, and took another nap and went to bed early!

Here are some pictures of the event!

 Front Door
 Inside Decor

 The Mom's-to-Be!
Jennifer W (left) & Anne M (right)

Me & the Mom's-to-Be!

The Bath Time Punch!
 (click on the punch photo for instructions by Tidy Mom)

The Cake!
 This took several days to make. All the decorations had to be made in advance to harden. The cake was made 2 days prior along with the marshmallow fondant. The duck is actually a giant Rice Krispy treat as we didn't need that much cake. I used a 3D duck pan for that. That was made 2 days in advance as well so it would hold it's shape.

Day before the party I covered the cake, added the decor, and iced the duck. The day of the party the duck was added to the cake! This was by far my biggest cake yet and I think the most fun to make! Was super cute and could even be used for a rubber duck themed birthday!

The girls with the cake!

All the wonderful gifts everyone brought! One time I was happy for such a long fireplace hearth!

Here is me faking Jennifer out with her gift. She love Thirty-One and for her gift, I just didn't have a wide enough bag to wrap I used my Large Thermal Container as the wrapping. As she was getting it handed to her I informed her the thermal was just the wrapping and I did need that back....she was so bummed until.....

she unzipped it to find.....

the new Mini Utility Bin! I had the baby's name embroidered on it and filled it with some cloth diapers and a wet bag. She was definitely happy she still got some Thirty-One!

 and Anne got some super cute outfits...for the baby, not her of course. ;)

and lastly, RC having fun!
 oh I suppose it was more like he was wore out from jumping....

but once he got to the sun room, he played like crazy. Every time I peaked in he was all over the room playing hard!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Fun

 Today we checked out the new play area at the mall with our moms club. RC seemed to have a lot of fun. He is starting to explore more at the play groups. He wandered over to check out the slides, which he went down with help from mom. By his facial expression, he wasn't sure what to think about the whole sliding thing.
 He then had to check out a mirror on the wall. He thought that was pretty neat with all the RC's he saw staring back at him!


 He even climbed the stairs on the "big" HIMSELF! I couldn't believe it. I stood behind him to help if needed but he did it by himself. I think we will have a walker/climber very soon.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Our experience hosting!

In 2008, I got an email talking about this amazing opportunity to host a high school exchange student. I called up my husband and work and asked what he thought. He said to get more information. In less than a week we became "parents" of a 16 year old! Our first student Marvin, arrived literally a week after we said yes. We quickly learned what we needed to get him into school, the soccer team, and more! It was an amazing experience. We learned about Germany, while giving him a taste of the American culture. We loved it so much we hosted our second student, Gerrit, the following year!!!

Our sons had a great time playing soccer for the local high school, participating in choir, going to prom, and making lifelong friends. We played games, took trips, and more. Our students really did become part of our family.

Many have reservations about letting a stranger into their home. For us, it was a little awkward at first. Here we were barely 10 years older than our first "son." However, that soon didn't matter. When Marvin left, our house felt empty. A part of a family truly was gone.

Hosting a student really is pretty easy. They need their own bed and food! Each student brings what they need along with money to help cover experiences such as book fees, new clothes, phone, entertainment, etc. As a host family, you open your home for them to learn about the American culture and our family life. You don't have to already have kids, you can be a single parent, etc. You just have to open your hearts and your home!

There are already many great students available for the 2012 - 2013 school year. Host a semester student or all school year. International Experience is a great program to be a part of. Contact me for information if you think you'd like to host this year!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ode to Brutus

Our Brutus (2001ish - 1/20/2012)
We rescued him from a Springfield, MO Humane Society in December of 2003. He was about 2 1//2 then. Travis was down to visit before heading home for winter break. We showed up at my parents house, I went to the door, peeked in and said "come here, I have a surprise." My parents came to the door and my mom and dad were staring at this mean looking dog with drool hanging down to the floor (he had just drank water from the fire pit). He was banished, I guess you could say, to a storage room in the basement. My mom doesn't like big dogs. We were all upstairs after getting him settled in (mom in the computer room) and all of a sudden Brutus is at the top of the stairs looking into the kitchen!!! We think somehow we must not have closed the door so we put him back downstairs. Next thing we know, he is back. And that is when he got his nickname Houdini. He actually opened the door himself!

He enjoyed his time with use at Northwest. We would take him on walks around campus. We remember one walk in particular that he pooped ON a tree branch in front of the admin building. Yes he was a talented dog!
Brutus was very loyal to us, particularly Travis. he guarded the house well. If you wanted to come in, you better have had a treat with you. While he seemed mean, he really was a big softy. He loved his 'babies.' His favorite was a squeaky mole that cost a $1. It fit perfect in his mouth. He would chase it and squeak it and very rarely did he actually destroy this particular toy. All others toys with a squeaker were 'dead' in 5 minutes time. The goal: get the squeaker out.
Brutus was very helpful in the kitchen. You just had to say “oops” and he would come matter where he was in the house. In Indiana, we had 2 floors. He would be upstairs on the opposite side from the kitchen and would hear you barely say oops. He was there in a flash to help clean up whatever it was your dropped. While he loved just about every food, his favorite was probably watermelon. The second he saw Travis with it, he would sit behind the trash can drooling.
When we moved to VA. His favorite place was the sun room. He would spend hours just laying in the sun soaking up the rays. For bedtime he had to be “tucked” in. If he wasn't he would sit on Travis' side of the bed, stare, and whine until Travis got up to tuck him into bed. When RC came along, he didn't mind him too much, but he did get a little jealous when daddy would play with RC and not Brutus. Brutus was after all daddy's dog.
Christmas was one of Brutus' favorite times. He actually opened his presents. Each year, I would wrap treats that came in 'milk cartons.' He would tear the paper off then work on the carton to open to the top. Once accomplished he would stuff his nose in the small space to get the treats! He also knew what a stocking was. When RC opened his stocking on Christmas Eve from Great Aunt Jill, Brutus came up sniffing it and giving me a look of "why is it's supposed to have treats inside!"
January 18th, 2012 we decided to take Brutus to the vet. After several months of him losing weight, Travis and I both agreed that it seemed like there was something else wrong with him other than old age. His belly had become bloated. Off to the vet we went and found out he did indeed have fluid in his belly which also contained “suspicious” cells as the vet put it. It was irreversible. The doctor didn't have an exact time frame but said he would get progressively worse since it was fluid rather than blood. Blood meant he would just die peacefully one day...fluid, meant sicker and sicker and sicker. On January 19th, Brutus started hacking and breathing harder and harder. That night Travis decided it was time. Neither of us wanted Brutus to suffer through the sicker and sicker phase. We took him in on Friday, January 20, 2012 to say goodbye. The vet of surprised to see us back so soon. We said our goodbyes,(and one from specially from Gerrit, our second exchange student that loved Brutus very much) and they took him back. Travis and I decided we didn't want to watch. We know he went peacefully. 
He had a great last day of his life eating some of his favorites. He got many treats from me all day and when daddy came home, he got an ice cream cone & double quarter pounder from McD's; one of his favorite places!
Brutus will be missed by many family and friends. RIP Brutus...

oh...and my mom who banished him to that storage room because he was big and drooled, well lets just say Brutus won her over, got free range of her house (provided of course his mouth was wiped after eating or drinking) and always sent a stocking at Christmas full of goodies for him!