Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bright Eyed Owl Birthday Cake

A few months ago, I was asked to make an owl cake and smash cake for a first birthday party. There are SO many ideas out there, so I had plenty of inspiration! I ultimately decided to make a round, two tiered cake and use fondant to make whirly pops, owls, and trim, inspired by this one.

My lollipops were made a few days ahead of time to allow time for drying. I experimented with several methods and found it best to roll two ropes individually, then roll them together, and then roll the rope into a spiral. I inserted Wilton lollipop sticks up through the center of the spirals and later cut them to the lengths I needed.

I found an owl illustration online to use as a template for my large owl. I blew up the image on my screen, traced it, and made patter pieces. I used a paring knife (I'm sure not the most efficient tool!) to cut each piece from 1/8 inch thick fondant. While the pieces were still soft, I layered them. The old (young?) bird needed two long dowels between her back and front layers that would be inserted through the 3-D feet when I assembled the cake. The entire owl needed to lay flat for 24 hours to dry.

The smash cake owl was really just a repeat of playing with play-do as a kid. I used chocolate fondant (Wilton's brand) for the body, cut pink circles with an icing tip for the feathers, and flew my the seat of my pants for the rest!

Monday, March 12, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Goodies

It was really inevitable that I'd come to love the green, happy, silly traditions of St. Patrick's Day. My Irish blood combined with the close proximity to MST's St. Paddy's Day spirit made the holiday all the more fun for me growing up!

I'm so thrilled that our preschool celebrates St. Pat's with a classroom party. I love an opportunity to bring out my green food coloring! Last year's class treats were a hit with the kids, moms, and teachers.

In 2011, before Pinterest, these awesome goodies that I found online passed as clever, and I still think they are! They're also great for those schools that don't allow homemade treats to be brought in. This is just a dessert bag (I buy mine from the cake decorating isle at Wal-Mart) filled with Twizzlers Rainbow and a few chocolate coins (found them in Target's $1 section this year). The tag was a free printable backed in golden cardstock. When the teachers saw them, they used them as their prize at the end of the class leprechaun hunt. I think they're worth repeating this year!

I found a candy mold at my favorite cake supply store last year and made these candy covered pretzel rods. If you've never used candy molds before, you really have to try them! If you're using one color of candy melts (I use Wilton brand), they're impossible to mess up and quick to set too! The kids thought they were very tasty!

The trifles I made were a little experiment. I thought they turned out cute! The layers were green vanilla pudding, chocolate cake drizzled with irish cream creamer, chocolate pudding, and green cool whip. I topped them with a little crushed Heath bar.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Letting Him Lead

Amos and I spend our nights apart regularly. He works two hours from home, and with local gas prices at 3.59, there's no way he could commute daily. To save money and sanity, he stays with generous friends who assure us they are happy to have him. We text throughout the day, and if there's something we don't want to forget, we'll email too. Even though he's gone more than he's home, we're really in each other's lives throughout each day. When he's gone and I'm not swamped with the children's school work, laundry, dinner, and diffusing arguments, I realize I miss my husband. But I'm swamped with that list of chores more often than not. You would think that the nights he was home would be cherished, that we'd take advantage the four evenings that we're together each week. It's a sad fact that we're both content to catch up on our favorite shows on Hulu most nights, too fried from the day to have anything deep and meaningful, or even clever, to say. We've already texted all the days' highlights, and some nights it seems like there's not much else that needs to be said.

This weekend is different. This weekend, he's away spending uninterrupted time with God. Three days without technology. No phone. No connection to work or family. No distractions from God.

I've been praying for God to bless this Crusillo weekend for months, and I knew God could do great things with these days. What I didn't realize is that, for the first time since he was deployed to the Middle East nearly ten years ago, we are truly, completely detached from one another. I have no way to contact him, no way to let him in on news or ask his advice. And for the first time in years, we're apart and I truly miss HIM. I feel his absence anytime we're apart, but I'm ashamed to admit that it's mostly his help with the kids and the presence of another adult that I wish for. This time, I'm not a mom wanting the dad to get home and take over. I'm a wife ready to have her husband back. I believe that what I'm feeling this weekend is God working in my marriage and in our life.

A few months ago, a Christian radio program reflected on the immense power that a wife has in her marriage. It was said that a husband is supposed to be the head of the household, but
a wife must let her husband lead.

As a wife, I struggle to let my husband lead. I could offer a string of reasons and excuses, but the honest truth is that I feel a need, irrational as it may be, to be standing on at least one of my own two feet. I live in a world that too often values a woman based on how capably she stands on her own. We women feel a need to be valued, heard, and have our opinions matter. There are millions of us blogging to prove it! I'm just not sure that my desire to be valued and heard always comes from God, particularly in my marriage. For me, needing to be heard sometimes feels all too similar to self-righteousness. Sometimes I slip from needing to be heard to needing to be right, and it's those times that I fail the most in my attempt to be a Godly wife.

The truth is, it's only God's value of us that matters, and we are each valued more than we can comprehend. We screw up over and over, and only through God's grace are we able to get back up again. So many of us are blessed with a Godly husbands who are smart, hard working, trustworthy and humble. I have every faith that those husbands can lead our families closer to our Savior if we are willing to LET THEM. I believe that Amos is being moved to greater things this weekend, and I'm so excited and ready to follow him as he leads his family in our walk with Christ.