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I don’t know why, but this feels like one of the busiest years of my life. Time is flying by at a dizzying pace. It seems like it was just Christmas not too long ago and yet here we are already in hot-as-hell summer and just a few short months away from having lived in our new rental house for a full year. Time flies when you’re having fun, or when you’re really busy, I guess.

And so, because of said busy-ness, I’ve let so many goings-on go untold. Here’s what’s been up with me lately…

1. Donut peaches are in season! My favorite fruit is a tie between a perfectly ripe strawberry and these squat little donut peaches. I’ve had one of these babies every day for 2 weeks now with no end in sight.

Donut peach

2. Apparently I like olives and mangoes now. I have hated both of these foods my entire life and suddenly I can’t get enough of them. What’s next, cherries? Blech!

3. My car got crunched. It was parked in the street for a day and one of our neighbors backed into it on her way out to work one morning. They were super cool about it and left a note, so we were able to deal with all the insurance stuff right away and get it repaired quickly. Good as new now.

damage to my car

4. Jeff and I have been working on a mobile game app together. He’s gotten into game development over the last year and tinkered with a few game ideas, we’ve finally found one that’s stuck. He’ll be doing all the technical stuff (which is WAY over my head) and I’m working on concept art and story ideas. Maybe in a year or so you guys will be able to download a game we made!

5. The cats are broken. Lucas has been sneezing out giant gobs of snot for over a month now. He’s on his second round of antibiotics and seems to be doing a bit better. Liam lost an adult tooth last week for seemingly no reason. They’ve both needed shots and yearly checkups. These little f%&$ers have been expensive this month.

Lucas has a snotty nose

6. I sliced the crap out of my thumb. I was trying to slice a stale loaf of bread in half lengthwise to use in a book recipe photo and ended up mangling my thumb knuckle. I promptly fainted…twice. Luckily Jeff was home that day to help me or I could’ve conked my head on the floor and bled out. Ok…I probably wouldn’t have bled out, but it was still really scary. And now I have a creepy-looking gash on my thumb that is not going to heal prettily. I’ll spare you the photo.

7. I was supposed to photograph my very last book recipe today, but the recipe was a dud. I made wasabi pea crackers and learned after several batches that wasabi flavor just disappears when exposed to high heat. I think I have something even better planned to replace it though. Here’s another one that sounded good on paper but just didn’t turn out well: Asian pear poached in black tea with honey mascarpone, walnuts, and candied ginger. Asian pears just don’t poach well, it leeches out all their flavor leaving a mealy husk.

Failed asian pear recipe

8. Jeff has the flu. He’s been miserable for 5 days now and I’ve been doing my very best to take care of him. So far, I haven’t gotten it from him (:::fingers crossed:::) We were just talking yesterday about how completely differently we like to be cared for when we’re ill. He needs to be doted on, touched, and made to feel loved. I need to be alone. All I want when I’m ill is a huge blanket, no responsibilities, no touching, and an alternating schedule of a 2 hour movie followed by a 2 hour nap continuously until I’m well again.

9. After a 2 month hiatus, I’m restarting the LiveFit program somewhere in the middle. I got really busy for a while with book stuff and wedding cake stuff and gym time got cut in favor of focusing on those things. It feels really good to get back to working out regularly. I love strength training!

10. I finally get to make an all-buttercream wedding cake! I mentioned that I’m doing another wedding cake in September. Well, we just finished ironing out the details for it and I’m really excited to make this cake now, especially because I’ve really wanted to try doing a fondant-less cake for once. I can’t say any more about it though because it’s a surprise for the bride (the groom picked out all the details) and I don’t want her to read about it here before she gets to see it on the big day.


That’s what I’ve been up to, what about you?

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Reflections on a cake

Thank you to everyone for having such nice things to say about the wedding cake I made. I’m definitely still learning and each time I come away with more knowledge on how I could have done it better.

pro shot of cake

This time, I kept a running spreadsheet as I was working so I could get a feel for what the actual costs and quantities were.

Here’s what I used:

  • 26 eggs
  • 6 lbs. powdered sugar
  • nearly a gallon of milk
  • 36 oz. shortening
  • 18 sticks of butter
  • 26 tsp. vanilla
  • 11 cups granulated sugar
  • 16 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. salt
  • approx. 5 lbs. fondant
  • 3 oz. navy blue gel dye
  • and a cup or two of cornstarch

Crazy, right? Even crazier is that I bought more than I used of pretty much everything. I’ve got 3 boxes of butter chilling out in my fridge that I didn’t need, and an entire tub of shortening. Keeping a spreadsheet like this will help me to not over-buy in the future as I become more familiar with exactly how much stuff I need.

So, what does it cost to make a 3 tier wedding cake? This one was about $108. Nearly half of that is the price of fondant. I could have gotten the cost down if I’d payed attention to the price of some items and was more aware of exactly how much of each item I really needed. I think I could recreate the exact same cake for $80 if I had it to do over again.

You can see the jam!

That’s just the cost of the ingredients though. I spent around 40 hours on that cake, so if I were to charge someone $200 for it, that would have me making about $2.30 an hour after subtracting the ingredient costs. Not exactly lucrative. I’ll need to figure out how to get my costs down, and more importantly my time expenditure down, before I can even think about trying to use this skill as a source of income. I’m more than happy to do it for family and absorb all the costs myself, but I’m not interested in working that hard for spare change for people I barely know.

I’m making another cake in September for some friends of ours and I will be charging them the material costs this time, but still no labor costs. I’m still really happy to do this though because I see it as a gift we can give our friends, and it’s another trial run to see if I can lower my costs and time expended. I’m pretty excited to use this cake as my little “guinea pig” to show me if this is a viable business venture for me.

One great thing about making wedding cakes…leftover jam.

Strawberry jam dregs

I canned the rest of the strawberry vanilla jam and I’ve been putting it on everything. I can’t believe I’ve almost finished this jar! I’ve already bought some figs I intend to turn into jam too. I’m hooked!

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Bryan & Caitlin’s wedding

The wedding was set in DeBarge Vineyards, way out in the middle of nowhere Lafayette, GA. Truly one of the most stunning settings for a ceremony I’ve ever seen.

Ceremony view 1Ceremony view 2

The owners of the vineyard built this grand outdoor event hall for their daughter who wanted to be married on the family property. Bryan and Caitlin were the first couple to actually pay to use the site, so they truly have a unique wedding experience! The unspoiled natural setting was breathtaking at every turn.

bunnies between the vines

The forecast threatened rain all week, but the sun was gracious enough to be out the whole weekend, highlighting the rolling green-carpeted mountains. Bryan and Caitlin exchanged their vows under a bright blue sky surrounded by family and friends.

Bryan and Caitlin's vowsKiss the brideHusband and wife

And Jeff made for a dapper groomsman!

Jeff as a groomsman

The wedding party…

Bryan and Caitlin's wedding party

And the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the finished wedding cake!

The finished wedding cake for Caitlin

I’m very proud of this cake, it came very close to the look I intended and Caitlin was very pleased. The poor thing though, it was over 80 degrees out the whole day and the fondant was starting to look shiny and the stripes were holding on for their dear lives!

Caitlin's cake topper

Posing with my cake

But the real question is: “How did it taste?”

Bryan and Caitlin cutting the cakeDelicious cake!

Delicious! The vanilla cake was still soft and buttery, the buttercream wasn’t melting in the slightest, and there was just the right amount of strawberry jam.

A cut in the wedding cakeYou can see the jam!

And Bryan had his very own groom’s cake in red velvet with a cream cheese icing. He’s a chemistry major headed to grad school in a few weeks, so this science themed cake was perfect for him.

Bryan's groom's cake

As the sun set, the mountains took on a shade of misty blue, and the light filtered through the rows of grape vines in golden ribbons.

Caitlin's bouquet toss

The newlyweds dashed off just before sunset on their way to a tropical honeymoon and a new life together.

Don't forget your sunglasses!

Thanks for allowing me to share this process with you again. It’s a lot of work, as you’ve seen, but for a result like this it’s hard not to want to do another one.

pro shot of cake