Wednesday, April 20

Whoopee Cushion Cake

There were a lot of questions when I brought this cake to the party. Here are the top ten answers:


1. Because, though she looks elegant and refined on the outside, she laughs herself silly watching Austin Powers movies and loves fart machines. And it was her fartieth fortieth birthday.


2. Yeah, but I’m sure I’m not the first. I just knew that a whoopee cushion would make her laugh. And then I figured that dry fondant could look a lot like the stuff whoopee cushions are made of. And then I figured I’d put it on top of a cake so there’d be something to actually eat. And then I figured I could make the cake look like a chair. And so on…


3. Rice Krispie Treats, covered with gumpaste (it’s like fondant but keeps its shape better because it dries quicker).


4. Squished it into the bottoms of two bowls.


5. A wad of saran wrap, til it was dry and hard.


6. Cake, four layers (my first time “torting” a cake).


7. Cardboard. And two skewers.


8. One row at a time. It’s really not hard if you know the trick. And have the right pastry bag tip.

IMG_6363 IMG_6364IMG_6365 IMG_6366

9. Royal icing (my first time doing “floodwork”).


10. I have no idea. More than four hours, but less than twenty. : )


Did I miss any?

Wednesday, April 6

Aprons and Snickerdoodles


{Disclaimer: my children do not always look like this when we bake together. Furthermore, we don’t bake together nearly often enough, probably because I often make the process un-fun with my obsession over measuring accurately, not spilling, and other such standards that are ridiculous to demand from young children… I’m working on that.}


I did enjoy this particular baking session, making Snickerdoodles, which we “had” to do after Sophie and I made the apron I alluded to at the end of this post about Ken’s rainbow cake. (Apron we made is shown above; the snowman apron was a gift from our neighbor a few years ago.)


Once the batter was all mixed, we set up a nice assembly line: I made the dough balls (shown below left) and then the girls rolled them smooth, covered them with cinnamon sugar, and plopped them on the pan.


Back to the apron, it was a McCall’s pattern (M5997) that caught Sophie’s eye last time we were at the fabric store together.


Cutting, pinning, fitting pieces together, I explained things as we went and she seemed to understand and picked things up quickly. For the sewing parts, she operated the foot pedal and usually did the back tacking at the beginning and end of the seams; I did most of the guiding of the fabric under the presser foot, though she was doing some of that too (when I wasn’t being obsessive about straight seams… I’m working on that one too).


One small irritant: when I held the bodice pattern piece up to Sophie, it looked too wide. Did I alter the pattern and cut the fabric piece to be more narrow? No! And sure enough, when the apron was all done, it was too wide for her little torso. Grrr!


So following the advice of a friend, I just put some gathers into the waist area. The vertical gathers don’t play real nice with the horizontal gathers at the base of the V neck, but it’s good enough.


Most importantly, Sophie loves it.


So why did we have to make Snickerdoodles next? Specifically Snickerdoodles, not just any old cookie? Because Sophie likes to follow the “constructions” on the pattern.


And those cookies in the pattern picture sure do look like Snickerdoodles! I love discovering how her mind operates. : )


Friday, April 1

Pippi Longstocking Braids

a.k.a. April Fool’s Hair


Actually, I did this a few weeks ago. It was Wacky Hair Day at my daughter’s school. I got her hair done up in a bunch of ponytails all over her head, and then – since I was going in that day to volunteer and still had a bit of time before we had to leave – I figured I’d coiffe myself too.


Note: only reason this worked so quickly is that I had a coat hanger already straightened out, leftover from Halloween tails and towers, tucked away in the crawl space near my craft corner.

Result? The kids loved it! And lots of teachers asked how I did it.

Here’s how. You need:

  • longish hair
  • two hairbands
  • wire coat hanger
  • pliers/wire cutters

Step 1) Get all the kinks out of the wire. It’s hard to get the sections that were twisted together to be truly straight. Maybe you want to just snip them off, if your hanger will still be long enough.


Step 2) Bend the wire to fit snugly over the top of the head. Like a headband with really really long sides. Then remove it for step 3.


Step 3) Plait two loose braids; make ‘em too tight and it’ll be a lot harder to guide the wire through later. Same goes for the bands. Keep ‘em loose for now, just enough to hold the braids in place.

Also, note: the braids should start near the ears, so they’re in line with the wire “headband” that you’ll be adding back in a minute.



Step 4) For this step, it helps to have a third hand. : ) Guide the wire ends down through the braids. Once the wire is shoved past the hairbands too, you could tighten them if needed.WackyHair5


Step 5) Bend the wires into whatever shape you’d like.



Step 6) Make sure you won’t poke somebody’s eye out! Curl the ends of the wire around or snip them off close to the (tightened) hairbands.



No more steps) Just be careful walking around. I kept forgetting I had protrusions on either side of my head. I bonked at least one of my children at least once that morning!


Final note: my hanger happened to match my hair color quite well. If that’s not the case for you, you could try putting the wire on the head before making the braids, combing some hair over it, and then braiding around the wire. That was a lot harder for me, but maybe if I had been doing it on someone else, it would have worked better.


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