Sunday, September 16, 2012

EB Awareness Cake

In the city I am from, in the hospital that I was born, a little boy came into the world on August 23, 2012.
Easton Dominick Friedel is his name and this sweet baby was born with a rare condition called EB ~ Epidermolysis Bullosa . Until now I never knew it existed.

I'm pretty sure baby Easton has touched everyone who has come across his story. He has brought together a family, a community and is touching hearts in parts of the world most of us will never see. In the few days he has been on this earth this little boy has done more for humanity than most people will accomplish in a lifetime. I was honored when I was asked to make the cake for his fundraiser.
Honored and determined to make this the best cake ever, pouring my heart into it as we have all poured our hearts into Easton. It feels so great to be able to do something that will help this family and this strong, sweet baby that I wanted to share it with all of you.
I lost sleep trying to come up with the perfect design.
Children with EB are called' Butterfly Children' because their skin is so fragile so I knew I had to have butterflies on this cake. I wanted to capture his parents love, and offer words of encouragement, and sentiment.  It had to be cheerful, colorful, and fun. It had to be perfect!

As I explained in an earlier post I no longer use boxed cake mixes even as a base for my cakes. In choosing to do so I have to say finding the perfect Vanilla Cake turned into real project. I always took vanilla cake for granted, what could be easier?! Plain old Vanilla.
I tried at least a dozen recipes, most were dry, some were too dense and almost like a pound cake, some too crusty, some not stable enough. I was about to give up and only offer chocolate cakes and then I thought to go through my Great Grandmother's recipe box. There is was, Vanilla Butter Cake, I had to at least try it. I was not optimistic, I was beginning to think Vanilla cake required a special je ne sais quoi that I just don't  have.
It made it through my in house taste testers with flying colors, so I took a bite. THIS was the one.
Here it is for anyone who is on a quest for a no fail vanilla cake recipe, if it worked for me it can work for anyone. Note : this cake is a yellow cake.

Vanilla Cake

1 cup softened butter
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
4 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp salt
7 tsp. baking powder
2 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp vanilla

Prep pans by lining with parchment and greasing the sides.  Preheat oven to 350 degree.
In a mixer beat butter until smooth, add the sugar and beat again until smooth. Then add the eggs and whip until fluffy. I let the Kitchen Aid go for at least 5 minutes.
While that is mixing, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture alternating with the milk, and vanilla. I start with dry and end with dry. Do not over mix. When you add the dry only mix until it is just incorporated, then add more milk.

Pour into the prepared pans and bake 30 minutes, test, if not done continue baking but check cakes often.

  For the butterflies I used the same design that was used on Easton's EB awareness pins that were designed special for him.
I used the bright color in the butterfly wings as the color scheme for the cake.

The top tier I used my tappits to cut out the words love, strength, hope, and courage and attached them to some gumpaste rectangles.
The middle tier I made a medallion of a mother and father holding a baby. I used a blue butterfly to represent Easton. The awareness ribbon for EB is red so I chose to use a red band around this layer.

The bottom I wanted bright and cheery. I cut strips of the fondant and wrapped them around the cake. I cut each strip , placed them all on a piece of lightly greased wax paper and lifted it all up and pressed onto the cake, starting in the middle and working may way around the sides. I ran my fondant smoother over the stripes with the wax paper still attached and once I had them pressed onto the cake firmly, I sloooowly peeled off the wax paper.
Next I added a few more of the stained glass butterflies and and decorated the board with an awareness ribbon  and my message.

I want to thank all of my followers who subscribe right here on Blogger and those who subscribe through email for taking the time to read this post. I am hopeful that many of you clicked on the link and let baby Easton touch your heart too. Please spread the word about this horrible disease and keep him in your thoughts. I am hoping for an opportunity to make this little fighters 1st birthday cake too!

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Dino- Mite Birthday Party

As my son turns 3 we are fully immersed in the 'dinosaur phase'.
I think it's a pretty common phase among 3 year old little boys as I was able to find a lot of ideas and information when I was planning his Extreme Dino Party.
I am no Martha Stewart and some of the ideas I found were over the top, but many I found I tweaked to my ability and had a great time start to finish with this party.

It all started with the invitations, I was going to buy some, but then I decided to dig through the bag of stamping goodies my Grandmother had given me and make my own.
I purchased a dinosaur stencil book , which I used A LOT!
With construction  paper and my stamps I cut out and printed my invitations.  They were just a cut out dinosaur on the front, stamped with a "Lets Party" stamp I found at Michaels, and one of the Time, date, RSVP stamps given to me by my Grandmother stamped on the inside.
I'm hoping to locate one so I can post a photo, but of course I was in such  hurry to get them in the mail I forgot to take one.

Next on the project list was the goody bags. Again I used my dinosaur stencil book with some fabric paints I purchased at Michaels and I stenciled dinosaurs onto small canvas bags I found on Etsy.

To fill them I found some:
Foam Dinosaur Masks
Glow sticks
Dinosaur tattoos
Dino paddle balls
Dinosaur stickers
Dinosaur blowers

The goody bags were the most fun to make!

For decorations I purchased inflatable dinosaurs, and some dinosaur footprint clings. It was going to be an outdoor party so there wasn't too much decorating required.

The menu was also fun to come up with.
I printed out place cards for each item and pasted them to some construction paper tents.
I used the Stratum and Lost World fonts for the lettering.

I also divided the table by Herbivore and Carnivore fare with some signs I made and framed.

On the menu:
Dinosaur Bones ~ Breadsticks with marinara dipping sauce
Dino Dogs ~ Vegan Veggie Dogs
Brontosaurus Burgers ~ Hillary's Black Bean Burgers
Pentaceratops Pizza ~ Cheese Pizza
Pastaraptor Salad ~ Pasta Salad
Jurassic Garden ~ Celery and carrot sticks in a clear cup with ranch dip in the bottom.
Microraptor Mac & Cheese ~ Mac n Cheese
Paleontologist Popcorn ~ Kettle Corn
Hot Lava Rocks ~ Snyders Buffalo Pretzel Bites
Carnotaurus Cake Pops ~ Cake Pops ..Ugggghhh

Next , what should have been the easiest part became the most difficult. The cake!
I designed the cake 6 months ago, I was ready!
A few months ago I posted that I would no longer book any additional cakes during the week of his birthday so that he could finally have a wonderful cake and not one that I threw together at the last minute during the wedding season madness.
Well, I was doing good... until the week before his party.
First came a request for an Xbox 360 cake for my neighbor, (who was also a neighbor growing up 30 miles from here, small world ).
Xbox 360, it's square, simple, sure. He needed the cake for the 25th, the day before my son's birthday and party. I figured it would be simple and I could squeeze it in so I said "Yes".
  {On a side note the Xbox 360 cake is carved, contoured and detailed WAY more than I imagined. By far the most difficult cake I have ever made, if you are ever asked to make one don't underestimate it.}
An hour later, I get a request for the ever popular belly cake. Another easy one, the request came from a cousin so of course I said I could squeeze that in too .
Now I have gone from just my son's cake, to 2 more, one for the day before his birthday, one for the day of. That should be enough right?
No, I soon learn that Brandon Sr.'s Grandmother will be turning 75 and would love a cake... 2 days after the party. Done..right??
Nope, my son's friend was celebrating his birthday 5 days after the party.  5 cakes , 6 days, a birthday party and a family vacation to Toronto in the middle.


But I did it to myself, I swear, next year, I will only be doing his cake. 

Enough cake drama, back to the party....

Activities, how to keep 7 kids interested and involved. 
  • In this day and age a bounce house is almost mandatory for birthday parties, so Grandma ordered one.
  • Pinata's are quite popular, I was fortunate to find a great T-Rex  at Target

  • Our Easter egg hunt was such a hit we decided to do a Dinosaur egg hunt. I found Egg Gourds on Etsy and they worked GREAT as dinosaur eggs!

  • The forecast predicted 90 degrees for that day so we decided to finish off the party with a water balloon fight.

With all that done planned and pieced together it was time to cake.
I spent once entire evening making a Rice Krispy Treat T-Rex , carved and covered in fondant. Brandon took one look at it the next day and said" Cool T-rex but I want a Spinosaurus on my cake".  Seriously?!?
With 4 other cakes to get working on there was no way I could devote another evening to making a I bought one !

The morning of the party I dipped the cake pops , which only came out slightly better than my first attempt. I did purchase a cake pop former that worked great and helped with the shaping, but my dipping needs a lot of work. 

This was the finished product

Everything was a hit... a Dino-mite party for the books.

I hope if you ever find yourself planning a dinosaur party feel free to use some of these ideas and have as much fun as I did designing and crafting.