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  • July18th

    kades 5th bday-9

    The Monster Truck birthday cake was a huge hit with Woody!  I got a few emails after his birthday post about how I did it, so I figured I’d give a quick tutorial.

    First I baked my favorite chocolate cake in two loaf pans.  After letting them hang out in the freezer a bit, I started carving and shaping.  Basically, one loaf was used for the bottom half of the truck and then a portion of the other loaf was the cab.  I used one of Woody’s little monster trucks to get proper proportions and really worked on shaping the cab and hood to help it look as realistic as it could.  Then I crumb coated with buttercream frosting.

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    One little trick I figured out this time is how to get a super smooth crumb coat.  In every fondant tutorial I’ve ever read, the experts say that getting a smooth crumb coat is vital in making the fondant look its best.  But no matter how much I smoothed with the frosting knife, I couldn’t eliminate all the indents and ridges.  This time I tried something new.  I kept putting the cake in the freezer between working on it and other projects, which definitely “chilled” the butter in the buttercream.  Then I used my finger to warm and smooth the buttercream frosting so there were absolutely no ridges whatsoever.  It definitely made  a difference when I topped it with the fondant.

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    For both the John Deere Tractor cake and the Noah’s Ark cake, I used store bought ready-made fondant.  This time, I tried making my own.  I used the Wilton recipe for Marshmallow Fondant and it worked really well.  Not to mention that the bag of powdered sugar and bag of marshmallows are about 1/10th of the cost of the boxed fondant.

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    I made the Monster Truck Tires out of Rice Krispies and followed this AWESOME tutorial.  Last year, I put the tire tread “V’s” on the outer layer, but this time I put them underneath.  I think it made it look more realistic.

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    Another lesson I learned from the John Deere cake was that heavy layer cakes like this need a lot of support, especially in the heat.  Sadly, the tractor was already stuck in the mud when the party started.  This time I had Kyle make a cake stand out of plexiglass and dowel rods.

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    Then I covered it in Saran wrap and wrapped the legs in black fondant, to disguise them.  The tires ended up basically just leaning against these legs, not having to support the actual cake/truck at all.

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    To make the flames, I colored a bit of fondant yellow, orange and red and laid them next to one another on wax paper.  (I like using Wilton food coloring since the colors are so vibrant and true).

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    Then I just just started smearing them together with my figner, up and down, until it looked “flame-y”.  I covered the flames with another sheet of wax paper and used a rolling pin to flatten it out.  Then I stuck it in the freezer to get good and hard.

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    When I was ready, I just free-handed a couple flame shapes to apply to each side of the truck.

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     Again, learning from the John Deere experience, this time I rolled out a HUGE piece of fondant, large enough to cover the entire truck.  Then I cut off the excess and cut out areas for the windows.  This worked much better than trying to piece it all together, like I had done with the tractor.

    For the final touches…the roll cage is just straws wrapped in gray fondant and I used a Play-Doh cut out for the “5″.  The ‘dirt track’ was, of course, OREOs that I’d put through the food processor.  (Best ice cream topping EVER!)  The assembly was ridiculously easy: Set cake on cake stand.  Lean tires against cake.  Serve.

    Tip: Don’t do this in a house that is 90 degrees!  I think the marshmallow fondant was sweating as much as I was.

    As always, if you make it…I’d love to hear how it goes and see pics.  Good luck!

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  • July16th

    woodys 5th bday-6

    My oldest baby just turned FIVE!  I truly cannot believe that.  In my mind that somehow means we’ve graduated from having ‘children’ to having ‘kids’.  Children are innocent and young and have rookie parents, but kids are smart and surprising and have parents that are supposed to know what they’re doing by now.  Oops!  I think I’m a bit behind.

    On his actual birthday, we were helping some friends move and so rather than do the cake & presents that day, we went out for a special breakfast and opened just one special gift.

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    An original Nintendo that we picked up off of Ebay and a few games that Kyle and I had saved since childhood (after a bit of blowing on them, they worked just fine).  ;)

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    That afternoon, he and dad had some serious bonding time!

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    The next week, when Grandma Carol and Mike came to visit we did the rest of the celebration.  Pizza is still Woody’s favorite, but Mexican food is the “stuff he eats more and more of” (meaning he always asks for seconds and thirds).  So we had make-your-own-loaded-nachos for dinner.

    The day after his John Deer birthday last summer, he requested a Monster Truck cake for his fifth birthday.  About a month ago he told me, “Mom, don’t forget!  I want a Monster Truck cake that tastes like chocolate when I turn five!”  So that’s what we did.

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    He is such a great kid!  So full of life and personality and silliness.  He so freakin’ smart it scares us sometimes.  He’s an amazing big brother to both Jessie and Buzz.  We are just blessed beyond belief to have him be our son.  I just wish he had more expressive facial features…

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  • July15th

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    Since we were driving by the Bonneville Salt Flats for the fourth time in six months, I had my heart set on stopping for a photo op.  Kyle obliged with minimal eye rolling.

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    It was around 5:30pm when we stopped and HOT, HOT, HOT!  But since we were pulling our house-on-wheels, we just drove out onto the flats and hooked up the generator.  That gave us air conditioning and a microwave, so we heated up leftovers and ate in a climate controlled Roo.  (I’m aware that we are pansies, yes.)

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    The kids had a blast exploring the sticky white powdery stuff that wasn’t snow.

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    Jessie even broke out a bit of Gangnam style.

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    The toys they’re holding are souvenirs from Glenwood Caverns.  A stuffed raccoon that rides in its own purse (Jessie named her “Cozy”) and a pincher grabber toy (which Woody named “Picker-Upper-Today”).  BEST TOY NAMES EVER!

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    I didn’t think the intense sun reflecting off all that white salt would do much for Buzz’s fair skin, so he hung out in the Jeep until the Roo was cooled off.  But that didn’t stop him from being ridiculously cute!

    In my opinion, taking the 15 minute detour to stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats is well worth it.  You know you secretly want to floor that minivan and set your own land speed record! :) But seriously, it’s beautiful in its own way; a little eery, a little peaceful.

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  • July12th

    glenwood caverns-5

    On our last day of camping with Omama and Opa, we took a trip to Glenwood Springs to visit the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.  We took a looong gondola ride to the top of Iron Mountain and enjoyed the panoramic views of the Rockies.

    At the top is an old western town to explore.  They offer thrill rides and 4D movies, but since the kids were so young we stuck with the maze through the old fort and a couple smaller rides.  
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    The kids got a HUGE kick out of the funny mirrors, to be honest…I did too.

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    As the name implies, there were caves to tour and I think the adults enjoyed it as much as the kids.  We opted out of the crawl-on-your-belly tour, but the Historic Fairy Cave and the Kings Row Cave were beautiful and interesting to learn about.  When you exited at the top, the view was incredible!

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    Even napless Buzz managed to stay happy!
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