Sunday, March 29, 2009

Outer Space Cake Bake and Auction

You may remember the medieval themed Cub Scout cake auction from last year. Well, this year's theme was Outer Space. Let me tell you, this is a much easier theme for cake ideas than last year's medieval times was. Remember, everything has to be edible -- everything.

Take a minute and think of all the things you can do for an outer space cake.....

Times up. What did you come up with?

Well, we came up with the man landing on the moon (R) and Saturn with it's rings (T).

Before we go into the details, I need a minute to let you know that I know that my boys' hair is too long. They were supposed to get it cut during the week and it never happened. I was too worried that we wouldn't get the cakes done in time if we went and got hair cuts on Saturday. So, they look like ragamuffins in these pictures. You'll be happy to know that they look presentable now.

Back to the previously scheduled blog....

First, the man landing on the moon. R wanted to show outer space, the moon, Neil Armstrong, and the American flag. How to make Neil Armstrong, you ask? Easy! Fondant or gum paste. I had the mixins to make fondant like last year, but I also bought some pre-made gum paste, which I knew dried harder than fondant. We used the gum paste, but I wished that we made fondant because the gum paste was tricky to work with. It still worked though. R made the astronaut himself, with coaching from me (as in, do you think that he had one leg twice as long as the other?) We found a "how to" video on Youtube and used that as a guide. (Again, I love modern-day technology.)

R is using edible markers to paint red stripes on the space suit because "Neil's the commander of the mission."

Here's a closer look of the fine details.

I bought cake pans that were two half-spheres that could be put together for a whole sphere. R wanted a rectangle cake on the bottom to represent outer space (with black icing) and then a half-sphere on top that would be the moon. I forgot to take pictures of the moon baking, but you can see them on the counter in the next picture. R wanted to use red velvet cake for the moon. Here he is getting ready to pour the cherry chip cake mix into the pan for the outer space base.

Here's the finished product -- the first man walking on the moon -- in cake.

For T's Saturn cake, M thought that we could do something with spun sugar like he had seen on the Food Network. That seemed hard to me, but I remembered a craft that I did with the kids a few years ago where we melted hard peppermints to make a pretty wreath to hang in the window. So we bought a bunch of hard candies and gave it a try.
This is the first attempt. M bought Jolly Ranchers and it was beautiful, but waaayy too thick and heavy. There was no way that the cake would hold it without being crushed.

This is the second attempt in the oven. It was looking really good. It got to a point in which it just needed a bit more melting. Wouldn't you know it, I got distracted and it started boiling and all the colors melded together, which T thought was kind of cool, but then it got stuck in the pan and no matter what I did, I couldn't get it out. Argh!

This is the third attempt, which worked great. We used fewer candies so that it would be thinner. We also put parchment paper in the pan first so that we could get it out (so many things we learned along the way!) T did a nice design. It worked nicely, except that we mishandled it a bit and it cracked, making it unusable.

This is a case where the fourth time was a charm. Here it is before we put it in between the two spheres. Okay, now that we got the rings down, it was time to decorate the planet itself. We used Google Images to look at lots of pictures of Saturn and decided to use five different colors of icing. I used this adventure as an excuse to buy the creme-based food coloring kit that I've wanted for a couple of years, but never really had a reason to buy it. The colors are truer and it doesn't change the texture of your icing (or fondant) as much as the liquid coloring does.

T started with a base of white icing and covered the sphere, then he added in waves and swirls of the other four colors. He chose the colors based on the pictures he saw online.

Making Saturn is very serious work.
Then comes the blue.

And here is the finished planet, or the top of the planet, in all its swirling glory.
The auction was a success, raising $300 to buy the boys "class B uniforms" aka t-shirts with the pack number on it. Check out the cool cakes.

The cakes at the auction all looked really great. There were some really awesome ones -- R2D2 (made out of five cake mixes!), the solar system, with 8 different cakes, the Death Star from Star Wars. Those kids (and parents) went all out. Some of the kids favorites were the Death Star and a couple of cakes that had aliens (gummy bears) fighting -- because of all the candy.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

T Turns Eight

Here's a summary of T's eigth birthday party:

My dad taught me that you should have an activity for the guests to do when they arrive. I had three: 1) sign T's cast, 2) Decorate T's walker, and 3) Guess how many candies were in a jar. Here are some kids decorating T's walker.

M added his own ice breaker game -- decorate Mr. Smith, which the kids loved! As you can see, M seemed to enjoy it too.
Then the kids made their own pizzas and then ate them. They loved having the independence to choose what went on their pizzas. We played "hot potato" with it. M made sure that all of the kids got prizes by the end of the game.

T got an ice cream ball for his birthday from Grandma on the Lake -- you put in the cream, sugar, and other ingredients, then roll it around for 20 minutes to make ice cream. M ran this game with five of the kids while I helped the other five make fleece scarves.

I didn't get pictures of the scarf making in action, but here are all of the kids with their scarves. There are all a bit crazy -- see R in the back? Crazy kids.

T had help blowing out his candles from his best friend, J. The cake was a delicous ending to a fun party.

A New Cast

T has had his full leg cast for a month and it's time for a new one. He needs to wear a cast below his knee for another month, then a removable (for bathing) cast for a final month.

Here he is, eager to get this big 'ol cast taken off.

The nurse used a little vibrating saw to cut through the three layers of fiberglass that made up his cast. It didn't hurt T; it only tickled when she got down to his foot.

It hurt a bit when T bent his knee for the first few times -- after all it had been frozen in the cast for a month and hadn't been used. He got some tears at this pain, but was still a trooper. Notice how his leg is so skinny and dips down a bit? That's because it atrophied while it was in the cast. The strange thing is that the last time I saw his leg, it was so swollen that it was as big as his thigh. Now it's just a skinny little thing.

M showed T the inside of his cast, which had a bunch of flaky dried skin on it and was a bit stinky. You can tell that T is thinking that it's kind of gross. You can also see his xrays on the lightbox -- can you see his fracture on the one on the right? It is a little diagonal dark line on his ankle and kind of goes around his leg.

Our awesome doctor, Dr. G., instructs his resident how to put on the cast so that it won't rub and irritate T. T chose the color maroon for his cast, but they didn't have enough of it, so they put on a first layer of white first .
The final layer of fiberglass was put on in the color of his choice. He says that he picked it because it's the color of the Griffendor house in Harry Potter.

T hobbled out of the office with his shiny new cast. It was almost 70 degrees on Friday and he loved being outside without a jacket.
He spent a couple of hours in the afternoon making a pop-up book with a kit that he got from his Grammy in California.

He concentrates carefully to ensure that the pop-up effects works properly.

Here is the first page of his book. This will be a fun project for him as he continues his recuperation.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


I have so many excuses for not computer got a virus (again!), my husband's computer won't accept my new camera's memory card, I had pneumonia for two weeks....the list goes on.

So, I have no pictures, but here's a quick update:
  • R was in the Quiz Bowl with four of his friends. They won three rounds and lost by only twenty points (out of 300) in the semi-final round.
  • T is hobbling around pretty good now. He gets a new cast on Friday. I'm taking time off of work to go with him and M 'cause it seems like a milestone in a boy's life and I want to be part of it.
  • T turned 8 last week and had a party on Saturday. 10 kids over -- 9 boys and one sweet, patient girl. They made their own pizzas, made fleece scarves, played games, and won lots of prizes.
  • R competed in Gold Rush, a Cub Scout winter outdoor competition, and had a blast demonstrating his first aid skills and such.
  • Both boys are excited about Pinewood Derby and are enthusiastically planning what kind of a car they are going to build with their father.
  • I have had bad allergies, asthma, and pneumonia. I'm almost better -- knock on wood.
  • Hockey is almost over -- bittersweet. I hate the early morning practices on weekends, but love to watch R progress -- and I love to cheer at his games. They are so darn exciting!
  • We finished reading the 5th Harry Potter book. I read it to the whole family -- all 870 pages of it. We then watched the movie. This is the first book that M has "read" and then seen the movie. I'm afraid that he now knows what the rest of us know -- the movie is NEVER as good as the book.

That's it for now.