Two Week Wait… and a Birthday Party!

Cori's Princess Birthday Party

It’s been two weeks since I wrote anything and I’m feeling a strong pull to get back in the game. I can’t say it’s been an enjoyable two week vacation, not exactly. It’s been a whirlwind of back to school, family visiting from out of town, temporary dog-sitting for my sister, who broke her kneecap, and of course… a lot of morning {all-day} sickness.

It’s the kind of all-day sickness that vacillates between a low-level blah feeling of “I’m okay, I can handle this” and a spinning stomach and feeling that everything smells gross, sounds hurt my aching head, and I just want to sleep. I can’t just stop going — there are kids to drop off and pick up, dinners to cook, laundry to fold, and groceries to buy — so I’ve been doing the bare necessities and forgoing the rest, which includes checking email more than once a day, writing anything, and {ahem} vacuuming.

I am going to try to get back in the swing of writing. This pregnancy brings with it a whole rainbow of various emotions: some beautiful, some very painful, and I know that writing and sharing those emotions will help me to get through them. Thank you all for your support on this new journey. I appreciate every ounce of love, every comment, every page view, even if I don’t feel well enough to respond to them all right away.

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On a slightly different note, part of my amazing two week whirlwind was my niece Cori’s 4th birthday party. It’s always a treat to see Cori’s smiling face, since she lives so far away in Louisiana, so we are excited that she and her brother are in town all this week.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Cori loves anything princess themed… although, to be honest, anything purple or pink will work for her. My sister and I decorated for her party in a combination of Disney princesses and “Sofia the First”. We combined miles of streamers, yards of tape, buckets of glitter, and enough balloons to cause a helium shortage, and the effect was fit for a princess.

Cori's Princess Birthday Party

Cori's Princess Birthday Party

David provided face painting services for the kids, and most of the adults consented to wear party hats, at least for a little while. Cori chose a princess crown for her cheek, Avery wanted his favorite – Mickey Mouse, and Addah chose a penguin for her face painting.

Cori's Princess Birthday Party

Cori's Princess Birthday Party

Cori's Princess Birthday Party

It’s hard to believe Cori is 4 years old! It seems like just yesterday that she was born, making me an auntie for the first time!

Cori's Princess Birthday Party

I’m connecting with others via Wordless/Wordful Wednesday today! Check out my blog hop directory to see who else is participating, as well as the other blog hops that I join each week!

Happy 12th Birthday, Lakin!

My oldest daughter Lakin’s 12th birthday was yesterday, but she’s decided that she’s not “officially” a year older until exactly 10:55pm, the time she was born on July 16, 2001. I was going to post these pictures yesterday, but she requested that I wait until she was “actually 12”. So, here we are!

We had an awesome Pokemon birthday party on Saturday, complete with super cool Pokemon “Pokeball” fondant cake that David and I spent all night decorating. {Check out this post with fondant cake decorating tips and hints for beginners!}

We also decorated two dozen Pikachu cupcakes — and in case you don’t speak Pokemon, Pikachu is one of the more popular characters, widely considered to be the mascot of the Pokemon franchise. He’s not Lakin’s absolute favorite Pokemon, but we were pretty well out of energy by that point and fondant decorating two dozen cupcakes to look like Squirtle the turtle just wasn’t going to happen. Next year!

Pokemon & Pikachu Tween Birthday Party!

Early Sunday morning, we headed over to the video game store so Lakin could use the gift card that was burning a hole in her pocket. She traded in two older games for store credit and used the whole amount to buy… a new Pokemon game! Who would have ever guessed?

In addition to the new game, she is also the proud owner of FOUR new Pokemon t-shirts, several brand new outfits, and a make-up bag with mascara (clear), powder (ivory), and lip gloss (nude). I’m willing to let her start wearing a little make-up, but as you can see, I’m not ready for it to look like she’s wearing make-up. In time, my girl, in time.

Pokemon & Pikachu Tween Birthday Party!

All in all, she said it was an “awesome” birthday – the highest of compliments from a tween!

(I can’t believe I’m almost the mother of a full-blown teenager! Yikes! Where did the last dozen years go!?)

Pokemon & Pikachu Tween Birthday Party!

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners

Our oldest daughter is a Pokemon fanatic, so we’ve been planning a Pokemon birthday party for weeks. Originally, we talked about making a six layer cake, similar to the rainbow cake from two years ago, and then shaping it and icing it to make a Pikachu Pokemon cake. It’s still a great idea, but for this party, we decided to try our hand at fondant cake decorating.

My knowledge of fondant cake decorating, prior to making this Pokemon cake, comes directly from watching “Cake Boss” and various cake challenges on Food Network. In other words, I had no real idea of what I was doing, but I’ve seen amazing creations made from fondant. We figured “we’re creative, we can do this” — and we were right! It took a little trial and error, and I am happy to pass on our fondant cake decorating tips and hints. We’ll definitely be decorating fondant cakes for future special events! 

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners

1. Don’t be afraid to try! I have avoided fondant cake decorating for a long time because I {mistakenly} thought it was out of my league. Once I took the leap and gave it a try, I had so much fun — and my husband and I brainstormed a dozen more cool cake ideas while we were working. Take a deep breath and go for it… if worse comes to worst, you can just re-roll the fondant and start over!

2. Use plenty of cornstarch to keep the fondant from sticking to your hands, the table, the rolling pin, your work surface… in short, everything. If you get the fondant a little too dry and it starts to crack, add a tiny bit of vegetable shortening to soften it back up again.

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

3. No cornstarch on hand? You can use powdered confectioner’s sugar too! It works the same way as cornstarch, keeping the fondant from sticking to everything, plus it has the bonus of adding a little more sweetness to the flavor.

4. If you use pre-packaged fondant from Wilton, take a few minutes to knead the fondant before you attempt to roll it out. It’s much easier to roll out and work with fondant when it’s been warmed up a little. Cover the rest of the fondant in a sealed Tupperware container or zip-lock bag to keep it from drying out.

5. Cover your work surface with wax paper, because the cornstarch and confectioner’s sugar is going to get everywhere. Clean up is much faster when you can just swap out the wax paper covering your surface!

6. When rolling out your fondant, remember to keep turning it — roll, give it a quarter turn, roll some more, turn it again! Otherwise, you’re going to be so proud of your perfectly smooth rolled-out fondant, and so disappointed when you try to move it and it sticks to your work surface. Even when using cornstarch or confectioner’s sugar, you have to keep turning fondant when rolling it out!

7. If you decide to roll out a darker color of fondant first, and then decide to roll out your white fondant next, take the time to change the wax paper covering your surface first! If not, you may realize {too late} that you have tiny flecks of red in your perfectly smooth white fondant. Ask me how I know!

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

8. Don’t roll your fondant too thin or it will stretch and/or rip easily. You want to aim for between 1/4 and 1/8 inches thick — about as thick as a wooden popsicle stick.

9. When it comes time to place the fondant on the cake, more hands are better! I had trouble lifting the large red piece that would cover half of our Pokemon cake without stretching or ripping it, so I was very grateful to have my husband there to help me lift and set the large pieces in place.

10. If you do accidentally rip the fondant, you can repair it by scooping a little vegetable shortening onto your finger and then rubbing it gently. You’re basically going to slowly ease the edges of the hole together, applying pressure so the pieces will meld together. We had a rather large rip on one side of our Pokemon cake and after trying this trick… you couldn’t even tell where the hole had been. Awesome!

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

11. If you’re assembling small fondant pieces to go on top of your cake and you have to stop in the middle of the construction, refrigerate the pieces in a Tupperware container to keep them moist and easy to work with.

12. Once you’ve finished assembling smaller fondant pieces into a large decoration for your cake, do not place it on your cake until just before the party/event or the moist icing will soften the fondant and the color may bleed. Allow the finished fondant piece to dry out in a safe place where the guest of honor won’t see it!

13. I let my husband take the helm when it came to cutting out the numbers for our daughter’s Pokemon cake. He used a new blade in an X-Acto knife and held it as though he was drawing with it. He “drew” each number and then went back to refine the edges and remove the fondant from around the numbers. He lifted each number with the X-Acto blade and placed it carefully on the cake, then used the end of the handle to help move them around until they were in the right position. Wilton sells a variety of tools specifically for fondant cake decorating, but we made do with what we had on hand, and I think we did just fine!

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

14. Go slow, be patient, and don’t give up! Take the time to make sure each piece of fondant is exactly where you want it before you allow it to dry, because it will be a lot more difficult to move and reshape pieces once they’ve dried in place

15. Enjoy the happy exclamations of your birthday guest of honor! Our daughter flipped when she saw her bright “Pokeball” Pokemon cake (and two dozen Pikachu cupcakes) and it made every minute of cake decorating worthwhile!

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

Pokemon "Pokeball" Fondant Cake & Pikachu Cupcakes