Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Carrot Cake

My oldest son and his wife have their birthdays fairly close together, and this year because of schedules we weren't able to celebrate them individually... so I decide to make them a special "Carrot" cake.

Biggest Carrot I've ever seen :)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Giant Spider

I started thinking a couple of months ago about maybe doing a Halloween project this year, but couldn't come up with anything that I really wanted to build, and had pretty much decided I would take a hiatus this year, and start planning for next year.  Two weeks ago I was looking something up online and I stumbled across an article about some students that made a giant spiders web with tape, and I thought well that would be kind of cool to build a spider to hang by the front door, and put a bunch of webbing all over the porch... which started my whole creative thought process going, and by then it was too late.

Everyone has some kind of spider at Halloween, so I thought I should make a really big spider... it was all down hill from there, and it just seemed to get bigger and bigger... anyway, now we have a Giant Spider on our front lawn because it was too big for the porch.  I have to say it turned out pretty well.

The legs are 1" Pvc Pipe with Foam Pipe insulation on the upper parts to give it some dimension, the Cephalothorax (head part) is a styrofoam cooler that I shaped a little bit, and the spiders butt is a large exercise ball. I covered it all with "Great Stuff" which is expanding insulation foam in a can, and then painted it.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cowgirl Boots Birthday Cake

I've never really understood the love affair that girls have with anything that goes on their feet. Personally I have a grand total of four pairs of shoes in my closet. Sunday shoes,  Sneakers, Winter boots, and work out in the yard sneakers, (which are really just an older pair of sneakers).  I would be scared to try and count the shoes that my daughter owns, and regardless of how many pair are in the black hole that she calls her closet, it is apparently never enough.

It was no surprise then, that when I told her I was going to make her a Cowgirl Boot Birthday Cake, for her 16th Birthday she thought that was the best idea in the whole world.... What she didn't know is that when she sat down with me to look for the boots she wanted me to make on Country Outfitters website, is that she was also picking out the pair that I bought her for her birthday (What was I going to do, it's her 16th birthday, and no matter how old she get's she will always be my little cowgirl, I couldn't not get her some boots)

She Loved her cake, and the real boots came as a total surprise... it was a great night.

I get a lot of questions about how I make my cakes, so I took a lot of pictures this time, so people can see how it comes together, (Just as a note this is probably the most complicated cake I've made from a technical perspective, figuring out how to cut all the fondant correctly and putting it all together took me quite a while)

I started by building a "sole" out of  Foam Core, by scoring it with my exacto knife I can bend it to the shape I want and then the center piece is hot glued in to maintain the shape and provide stability.

You can see that I've spray painted the sole brown and a clear coat to not only look like leather but to also act as a moisture barrier between the rice crispy's and the foam core... I have also added a dowel that will help provide support for the cake, and have roughed in the base with rice crispy's (you need a solid foundation to build the cake on and the rice crispy's work great for that.)

Here is a picture showing both boots with the base roughed in with rice crispys

I let the rice crispys sit out overnight so they could set, and then using my exacto knife I did some final shaping and smoothed out all the rough spots. (you can see the boot on the left is shaped and smoothed)

To get that really smooth look, I did a crumb coat using ABC frosting (American Butter Cream) which will form a light crust after sitting out for a while, then by using a paper towel you can place it over the frosting and using light pressure from you fingertips you can smooth it out.  (The boot on the left is done at this point, the boot on the right is still in process, it is pretty rough at this point, and I will clean it up a lot more before smoothing with a paper towel)

I've started to add the Cake layers now

Here I have all the layers added.

Here both boots have been crumb coated and smoothed

I've started to add the Fondant... I chose a nice leather tan color, as ultimately they will be mostly black, with some tan color showing through (you will see how it all works at the end)

I ended up making the top part of the boot (that has the rounded arch) entirely out of fondant and just seamed it onto the top.

 I've added all the pieces of fondant, (except for the heel, which I will do last as it will be covered with black fondant)

Now I've added all the Stitching marks ( I used a quilters/sewing marking wheel, which worked great)

Using a toothbrush and black food coloring I used my thumb to spatter the boots until I got the look that I wanted, leaving the toes tan.

After the black food coloring dries, I used a paintbrush to go over the stitching with blue and white food coloring to make it stand out more.... and that's it.

Here's a couple of pictures of actually cutting the Cake.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Killer WhiteWater Rafting Trip

Now that both of our boys are married, they aren't all here at the same time very often, so when we learned that Justin and Kelsey would be stopping on their way to Utah (after working all summer in Louisiana and Texas) we decided to go rafting as a family down the Arkansas river which flows through the Royal Gorge, (which is only about an hour drive from our house).

We went through Raft Masters, and it was a perfect day for rafting... Clear skies, with a forecast of 91 degrees, and the river water was a cool 65 degrees.

It started out great, the rapids were rated between II's and IV's which is perfect for the beginners in our group and for those looking for a little more excitement.  There were seven of us, so they split us up into two groups.  Justin, Kelsey, and Sarah were in the first raft, and Randie, myself and Stephen and Danielle were in the other one.

It started out with three smaller (warmup) rapids, and of course I didn't have my foot wedged under the seat in front of me like I should have, we hit a wave just right, and I was in the water, luckily I grabbed the rope around the edge of the raft, and our guide was able to haul me back in pretty quickly.  I hit a few boulders as we were pushed downstream, but I didn't hit them hard, so only minor bruising.  After that wake up call, I was much more diligent about making sure I was positioned correctly.

Randie felt that it was important to follow her husbands example, and on the next set of rapids she went over the side, we were pretty much at the bottom of that set and she fell into a deeper pocket of water. She swam the short distance to the raft and I was able to pull her in on top of me.

We traversed the next few sets without much difficulty, and then we joined up with the rest of the rafts in our company before attempting "Sunshine Falls"  According to our guide you had to approach it through an S-Curve, and then shoot through two large rocks as you went over the fall.  We watched as the other four rafts went, and then Justin, Kelsey and Sarah's raft went just before us.

This is them approaching the fall.

Now they are going between the two large rocks, and starting over the fall.

 The Fall was actually only about 3 or 4 feet tall, It was rated as a level IV rapid

It was pretty intense

So now it was our turn, Since all of the other rafts had traversed it safely I wasn't too concerned.

Here is the picture of us approaching the fall.

This is where things started to go horribly wrong... somehow as we went over the fall our raft was pushed sideways, and we got stuck in the back flow that was being created by the fall, it was dragging the raft back into the fall, and water was pouring into the raft, and was starting to capsize it.  Matt our guide was phenomenal, and jumped to the side of the raft that was being pushed up, yelling at us to move to the high side so we didn't flip.

We were able to force the high side down, and in the process we were pushed out of the fall

In the turmoil Stephen was thrown out of the raft, and the force of the water pushed us past him.

About five feet past the falls (because we were sideways) we became jammed into the rocks.

Stephen was caught in the falls behind us, and we had no way of reaching him.  Matt our guide yelled at Stephen to swim to the raft, but he couldn't break free from the back current, he had already gone under twice, as he went under the third time, our guide threw himself to the back of the raft, to unclip the throw bag, There was no question in anyone's mind that Stephen's life was in danger at this point. (The photographer on the shore said that the third time he went under he was down for 35 seconds.

Just as Matt got the throw bag unclipped, Stephen was able to break free from the current, and passed under our raft, coming up on the other side.

This is the last shot, showing us still trapped on the rock, watching Stephen go downstream.

For a terrifying 10 or 15 seconds I thought that I was going to watch my son die, and there was nothing I could do about it.  The rafts below us were able to pull Stephen in, and two be safe, he and Randie, walked out with our guide, and Stephen was taken to the Emergency room for observation.

I am so grateful to a loving Heavenly Father, who saw fit to spare my sons life.  He is doing fine, with only a few minor bumps and bruises, I don't know if he will be doing any white water rafting in the near future.  

As for me, I think I'm going to stick with the Lazy River at the water park from now on. . That was enough excitement for me.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Crush Cake 

Sarah's best friend "Brooke", who lives in Arizona, comes and stays with us for a couple of months each summer, so they can re-connect.  With Sarah being an only child now that both of her brothers are married, it gives her someone to relate to besides her aging parents. It's a win/win situation for everyone.

Yesterday was Brooke's Birthday and Sarah asked if I would make a birthday cake for Brooke.  I told her that with work and school, it would just have to be a simple cake, as I didn't have time to do anything else.

Apparently I'm not able to just do a simple . . . so putting school on hold for a couple days I decided to make a "Crush" Cake

I think it turned out really well, and almost looks like him... it was a lot of fun to make, and Brooke loved it.

Cake is the main body, and roughed in extremities are done in rice crispie treats (For the cake I used a 12 inch round for the base and then a 9 inch on top of that, trimmed and carved into the shell dome shape.)

Roughed in Cake

For the coloring on his Shell and flippers I used gel Food coloring that was watered down and a paintbrush

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sarah's Birthday Cake

Sarah since her youth has always maintained the idea that she is a Princess... I still remember running all over Disneyland when she was six, so we could get pictures of her with ALL the Princess's.  Somehow  as they get older though that terminology seems to take on a negative connotation (despite the best efforts of Disney).  I guess it's OK to be a Princess when your five or six, but after that apparently it's not considered acceptable...  Apparently when your older you can't be a Princess and still be a nice person, personally as long as Sarah stays the kind sweet young woman that she is, she can consider herself a princess for as long as she wants... and who know's,  if it eventually helps her find her prince charming, then more power to her... either way she will always be a princess to her mother an me.

She has always liked the movie Tangled, so I decided to see if I could make a "Rapunzel's tower" cake, I looked on line, to see what might be out there, but didn't really see anything that I liked, so I got a few pictures from the movie, and figured it out on my own.  I wasn't to concerned with the tower part itself, but I didn't know how the whole "house" at the top would come together... overall it turned out much better than I thought it would, and the important thing is Sarah loved it.

So to my 15 year old Princess... "Happy Birthday" Sarah... may all your birthdays remind you of the person you want to be..

Randie's First Cake

Randie wanted to make a cake for a baby shower for one of her friends from work, but was a little nervous about the whole process.  I remember when I did my first (real) cake that it was intimidating… Yes, to be fair anyone can throw a box cake in a pan and throw some frosting at it.  But when you come up with an idea, and then try and make the picture in your head match the cake in front of you it’s a whole other thing.  We talked about the recipe and some of the issues with High Altitude baking, and walked through the steps… and then she took it and ran with it.  Except for a little help with the final frosting she did everything herself.  I have to give her kudos for doing a great job… very Nice!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Lettuce be Done

I have to say that I've really learned allot about hydroponics and lettuce over the last couple of months, and it has been a lot of fun to have a small garden growing in my office in the "dead of winter" so to speak.  I think I'm ready to move on to something a little more involved, but I'm not sure I'll have enough time to do a complete grow cycle before I need to get my plants for my outside garden started this spring.... So I'll have to think about it, maybe I can try something that grows really fast like radishes ?? not sure yet. But I definitely want to use it for all my spring starts.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Carrot Pumpkin Cake

There was a Baby Shower for Danielle last night, and Randie talked me into making the cake (She said that she would help, and true to her word she did all the flower decorations... Great Job!! it looked great.) It was a Latin Theme... We decided to go with Carrot Cake, and I wanted to try adding pumpkin because it sounded like it would work really well, plus it would probably help it stay moist. I looked at some recipes, but couldn't find a Carrot Pumpkin Cake.. so I made up my own Recipe.  I have to say the Pumpkin was amazing, providing a subtle underlying pumpkin flavor that blended really well with the spices in the cake.  It was a huge success.

The Original Recipe is in Black and then my modifications are in Red... Some of the modifications were for High altitude, (The air is pretty thin here in Colorado Springs) so if your making this at lower elevations I would use 1 less Egg, All purpose Flour, and bake at 350 the entire time.

Rich's Carrot Pumpkin Cake

2 cups All Purpose Flour (Bread Flour works better at High Altitude)
2 tsp Baking Soda (1-1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground Ginger
1/8 tsp ground Cloves
1/4 tsp ground All Spice
3 Large Eggs (4 Large Eggs, helps with Altitude)
2 cups Sugar
2 Tbs Molasses
3/4 cup Vegetable Oil
3/4 cup Buttermilk (1/2 Cup)
1 Cup Pumpkin
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Cups Grated Carrots (I personally like the larger grate than the small grate)
8 oz Crushed Pineapple
3.5 oz Flaked Coconut (I used 1.5- 2 oz)
1 Cup Chopped Walnuts
Next time I make it I will probably add 1/3 cup raisins as well :)

Combine Sugar, Molasses and the Eggs in mixer and cream together for a minute or two, then add the other wet ingredients Oil, Buttermilk, Pumpkin, Vanilla, and mix well.  Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, whisk together and with mixer on low slowly add to the wet ingredients... once flour is incorporated, add the remaining ingredients just until they are incorporated.

Make two 9 inch cakes.  I always use wax paper in the bottom of my cake pans, saves a lot of grief... Bake at 350 for 25  to 30 minutes (Bake at 375 for 20 mins,, then reduce heat to 350 for 10 more minutes)

If anyone decides to try it I would love to hear how it turns out :)

Witch in the Springs

A few weeks ago I thought it would be fun to make a Witch for our front yard, so Sarah and I went down to  one of the local thrift stores to get some supplies, We were able to find pretty much everything that we needed for around $15.00 except for the mask... I stopped at Partyland and found a great mask on the clearance rack for $9.00.. So not to bad for a little Halloween fun.

I came home and built the frame, and then Randie helped me get her all dressed, Then it was just a matter of lashing her to the light pole in our front yard with some nylon zip ties...

She turned out really well, it was fun to watch people stop and do a double take, and then pull out there phones to take pictures.