Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Perfect Looking Cupcake

I admit I don't make cupcakes very often, but I always admire these pretty, bite-sized treats when I see them on other blogs. I have a folder full of delicious cupcake recipes bookmarked to bake someday, and I recently ran across a couple of great, simple decorating tutorials for creating the perfect looking cupcake which have got me inspired to get in the kitchen and practice my piping.

Both of these tutorials do a great job of demonstrating the various designs different piping tips can make and include videos as well.  It only takes a piping bag and a couple of piping tips to create beautiful, professional-looking cupcakes.  Definitely go check them out!

Bakers Royal: Cupcake Decorating Basics Part 1

Glorious Treats: How to Frost Cupcakes

Monday, November 21, 2011

Marathon Number Two!

It took me one month and two days to do it, but I  finally pulled the trigger and signed up for my second marathon.

It is official. On May 5th, 2012, I will be tackling 26.2 miles again.  I didn't recap my Chicago Marathon experience here because frankly, I didn't have the race I wanted.  Stomach pains necessitating two pit stops in the second half, as well as some hip pain, made for a very slow time. It was my first marathon and I was happy just to have finished; however, I am still a little upset because I know I am a much better runner than my marathon time indicates. 

So training for the marathon will commence in January, which means that I have a bit of time to get myself mentally prepared and committed to train again.  I have never been a winter runner, and the bulk of the training will be taking place during Chicago's crappiest, coldest months.  That said, I am looking forward to the challenge and the chance to buy new winter running gear! God knows, I never turn down the chance to shop even if it is athletic gear. 

Two years ago, I couldn't imagine running one marathon, and now, in the near future, I will have two under my belt!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Roaring Twenties Birthday Cake

Finally, the completed cake for my friend's 30th birthday.  This was a collaboration between me and the birthday girl, who went with a fabulous Roaring Twenties theme for her party. After looking at a lot of cake pictures, the birthday girl decided on off-set tiers, peacock feathers, beads, and a gold and black color scheme.

I was super excited about the theme and pushed myself to come up with an original design for her cake. Originality is not my strongest skill at this point, and normally, I just find pictures of cakes that I like and try to recreate them with some changes.

And while I am never 100% satisfied with any of my cakes and would have done a few things differently, I was pretty happy with my attempt at capturing the party theme.  I, personally, really loved the gilded gum paste gardenias.

The gum paste peacock feathers looked pretty darn cool too!

The gum paste peacock feathers were actually pretty easy to make and I will post a short little tutorial later this week.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Five for Friday

TGIF! Except not really because it will most likely be a crazy busy weekend for me.  So what has been going on this week?

1.  I am making a cake for a friend's 30th birthday next weekend. It is a roaring 20s/flapper theme, and I started plugging away on some of the cake details this week.  I anticipate a few late nights over the next week and possibly a 3 a.m. mental breakdown as well.  I am excited because I am trying out a lot of new things on this cake, but  a  bit nervous because you never quite know how things are going to go the first time you try a technique out.   I guess that is part of the fun of it all.

2.  I am running the Hot Chocolate 15K this weekend. I think the race is a little over-rated and too expensive, but everyone seems to love it because they give you hot chocolate and chocolate fondue after you finish.  I have run the Hot Chocolate the last two years and was planning on swearing it off this year due to the organizational dumpster fire it was last year, but it is slim pickings for races over 5K from now until the end of the year.  Plus, I have received about a million emails from them swearing they have fixed their mistakes from last year.  We shall see.  Thanks to my conditioning from marathon training, I should PR pretty easily though.  Yay!

3.  I finally got a Facebook page set up for the blog and have added the "Like" button to the sidebar.  I am still in the process of getting everything going, adding pictures and what not, but it would be great if you would go follow me on Facebook.  I would like for the blog to continue to be sort of my personal landing space for my running adventures, cake decorating/baking projects, and anything else that strikes my fancy, but I am planning to devote the Facebook page entirely to cake decorating and baking. 

4.   On the baking front, I made brownies earlier this week.  Like the best brownies in the world!  I know I am about 5 billion years behind everyone else who have already made the famous "Baked" brownies, but hey, eventually I get there.  In the battle of cakey versus fudgy brownies, I fall firmly on the side of fudgy.  And these brownies are fabulously fudgy and dense.  I used regular old Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa and Ghirardelli chocolate, and they were awesome.  I imagine if you sprung for some higher quality ingredients, they would be out of this world.  Anyway, enough talking, go here and make these brownies ASAP.

5.  Finally, let's conclude Friday with gratuitous dog pictures because it's my blog, and I can do what I want. 

Aren't my babies cute? This pic is from our engagement shoot that we did with the awesomely talented Jeremy Lawson.  He also took our wedding pictures, and I can't recommend him highly enough if you are looking for a photographer in the Chicago area.

And with that, happy friday!