Monday, September 30, 2013

DIY Lego Cake

Last year I put a certificate for a custom-decorated cake on an auction at work to raise money for Ethiopia Reads (building a school/library in Ethiopia). I didn't know who had purchased it until last week when the wife of one of our executives let me know they had purchased the cake. Her son was turning 6 and loved Legos, so she had some ideas for a Lego cake. Most of the ideas involved fondant, which I haven't worked with much, so I asked if I could come up with a buttercream version. I think it tastes so much better, even if it doesn't look as polished!  I found a cute idea for lego cake on  Pinterest and worked from there. 
The kid liked white cake (which I never make), so I followed this Pinterest advice for improving a cake mix. It FLOPPED. Like, half the cake flopped out of the pan when I was flipping it onto a wire rack. I tried to salvage it by wrapping in plastic wrap and sticking in the freezer, but it was clear by the next day that it was not happening, so I salvaged a small square to use as one of the top legos and ended up baking another cake...this time straight from the cake mix box :).

You can kind of see that I just cut a square from one corner and layered in the top left corner, then added the extra square one notch over and one notch down. I frosted each a differet color (the white and green pieces are "six toppers" and the other three are "four toppers". Is that proper logo terminology? I'm not sure but I think you know what I mean. As I finished each color, I cut a large marshmallow in half and frosted the outside circumference, then stuck it sticky-side down onto the cake and finished off the top with a little more frosting. I didn't use toothpicks and they stuck just fine.
I finished the presentation off with some piping on the wrapping-paper-wrapped cake board and a white shell-edging around the bottom. The family said they loved it and I was happy they enjoyed it! I don't think I'll go into the cake business anytime soon, but I enjoyed the projects this weekend!

Cohen outfits

As I tried to figure out what to dress Cohen in for our family pictures, he endured a mini photo-shoot of his own.  I love his sheepish smile and bright blue eyes. Now if we could just figure out how to get his hair to stick down.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ryan's 4th Birthday Party

We held Ryan's party after the NWC Homecoming game.  It was nice to have Adam's brother and his wife home as well as my sister's family, grandpas, grandmas, and Great-Grandma Boote. It was also nice to have it on Saturday when Pizza Ranch is open! Easiest party food either and I didn't hear any complaints!

Ryan got to open presents after supper and was excited to get many of the top items on his list: a Bucky Pirate Ship from Jake and the Neverland Pirates and a remote control car (Adam even got one from his parents so they can race). We are thankful for all the fun toys and activities he received. He is having fun with all of them!

Saylor trying out the party blower while Ryan wields his sword.

 Ryan blew out the candles and we all enjoyed some cake and ice cream.

Then the kids tried out some of the toys.
Bucky the Pirate Ship

Throwing the "sticky guys" at the door.
Thanks to everyone who helped Ryan celebrate and for Megan's family even though the couldn't make it--Ryan put together the whole lego set the next day!  Ryan had a great day!

Bucky the Pirate Ship Cake: Jake and the Neverland Pirates Birthday Party

My 4-year-old is currently on a "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" kick and wanted his 4th birthday party centered around Jake and his crew. After I'd started pinning cakes and party supply ideas on Pinterest, a friend of mine messaged me from a garage sale where they were selling unopened Jake and the Neverland Pirate party supplies for 16 people...for $6. Yes, please! With the plates, napkins, tablecloth, party blowers, and even a birthday badge taken care of, all we were in need of was a cake! I ended up taking an afternoon off from work to work on this beast but the look on Ryan's face was totally worth it! Here is a little info on the whole piratey process.

I started with two 9x13 chocolate cakes. I used the "Super Moist Chocolate Cake" recipe from Cake Mix Doctor
and baked them the night before, then cooled, wrapped in plastic wrap and put in freezer. Frozen cake is easier to cut and shape and keeps the crumbs out of the icing. I also prepared the cake board by wrapping it with blue plastic tablecloth and laying out waxed paper strips to set the cake on (easily pull them out after you're finished frosting the sides.) 

The next day, I narrowed the bottom cake by cutting a few inch strip from one end, then rounded the front end. The second cake was narrowed, then sliced into 3 parts- a rectangle for the back deck, a skinny rectangle for the top deck, and a front deck with a rounded front.  I used blue tinted buttercream frosting to stick these together, which made a pretty layered look when the cake was cut open.
Next, I frosted the entire cake with Fluffy Chocolate Frosting (again from Cake Mix Doctor). I used an angled spreader to make smooth lines. I also used a serrated knife to round off the corners of a graham cracker and stuck it in the back for the back part of the ship. From there, it was just a lot of piping. I used a flat frosting tip to pipe chocolate "boards" around the outside of the ship, but this wasn't very noticeable. I used yellow and blue buttercream and leftover chocolate to pipe the following: yellow pip edging, bell, sword and scroll emblem, windows on the side, a door in the center, and portholes in the ship. I also added white and blue candles so Ryan had something to blow out. 

 I used mini Kit-Kats cut in half for the posts and Keebler Fudge Sticks for the railings on the front and back decks. The sail is just plain paper that I printed and stuck on a wooden skewer (for kabobs).  Ryan wanted an island for Captain Hook and Smee, so I laid down some yellow frosting and pressed crushed graham cracker crumbs into it. The waves were just piped with a double leaf tip and I added Ryan's name on a map with frosting.

The characters were purchased on Amazon as part of his birthday present.

When Ryan came back from grandma's and saw the final result, he said it was "Awesome!"

 I was happy to make him even more excited for his party. Here's a little preview of the party decor with the cake as a centerpiece:

NWC Homecoming

Although it was a chilly morning Ryan was excited for Andy and Kim to come with us to the "Morning on the Green" activities for Northwestern's Homecoming. He tried out almost all of the games:

After deciding he didn't want to do the football bouncy house, Ryan was gung-ho about the giant inflatable slide.

 ...until he got to the top. Apparently the "vertical rush" was a little intimidating from that viewpoint and he refused to come down.  Thank goodness for Aunt Kim who volunteered to climb up to get him and realized that he wasn't going to "come around" to the idea, so she just wrapped him up and headed down! She did say it looked pretty scary from the top because it was so vertical you couldn't really see the slide when sitting at the top.
Ryan also was also excited to get a balloon sword that miraculously made it through the day without popping.

After all the carnival games were complete, we checked out the new Learning Commons. Ryan thought the study chairs were "very comfy!"
 We also checked out the progress on the RSC and Ryan took a lap around the track with Andy.

We headed back to our house for lunch and then got to the game in time for kickoff. Ryan spent a majority of the game under a blanket playing on my old iphone. Cohen took a short nap but mostly just sat contentedly with whoever was holding him!  Ryan was excited when Saylor came to the game in the second half and they had a blast running around after the game on the field turf (which is still currently stuck to his new pants). The Raiders lost, unfortunately, but we still enjoyed cheering them on.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Adventures on the High Seas

Since Adam usually has game planning on Monday nights, we have a bit of a relaxed schedule and usually go to a park for a while and eat late. Ryan usually chooses to go to KinderSpeeland and lately we've been going on "Jake Adventures" at the park.  I love listening to Ryan's imagination and him re-enacting scene's he's watched on Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  I have helped save princesses from dragons, drove a train to Alaska (he said Florida costs too much money), used my pixie dust to help us fly away from "old Codfish" (Captain Hook), and gotten secret messages from Peter Pan.

Cohen gets to join in our adventures by driving the train or truck (his favorite) or just flying along on whatever assignment we're given.

Sometimes big brother gets a little in the way of the picture, though.

Cohen's favorite thing at this park is the swing where he can feel the rush of the wind through his hair!

I love my little pirates and their big adventures!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

First Raider Home Game

After two far-away games, we were glad to be able to go to our first home varsity football game. It was cool in the morning, but warmed up so much that Ryan ended up taking off his socks and shoes and rolling up his pants and even spent some time chilling on a blanket under our legs. I was grateful for Adam's parents' help with the boys during the game. Cohen did great at the game, but gets heavy after a few hours!  The game ended up being really close at the end, but the Raiders pulled it out 49-42.

We are proud of our coach and his team!

Ryan loves running on the field after the game but it means we usually have to peel off all his clothes in the garage to keep the turf residue out of the house.  This is what Momma means when she says "Leave it all on the field."