Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cake Pop Fail

(This post is actually the second one about J4's birthday. Scroll down and read about his birthday first and then come back to this one. I know. I should have posted them in reverse order. Sorry!)

Ok so where was I? Hmmm, oh yes! The cake pop's for J4's birthday.

J4 LOVES big trucks. Diesels, 18-wheelers, delivery trucks, fuel trucks, cement mixers, the list goes on. So I thought that would be a great theme for his 2nd birthday.

And instead of a cake, I'll do cake pops! Now that I've perfected my technique, I figured it would be a piece, yea.

I had some German chocolate cake already baked and in the freezer. I had planned to try making German chocolate cake pops for Valentine's Day with Xuan Huynh. Well, plans fell through and we never got to make them. So I thought I'd use the leftover cake for these cake pops. Bad idea.

I don't exactly know what went wrong. The cake was already VERY moist when it thawed. I don't know if it was wet from being frozen or if it was just that moist as a cake. Or if the German chocolate aspect had anything to do with it. But when I mixed the frosting with it, it came out looking more like thick batter than shape-able dough.

So I added some flour. Then some cocoa. Then some powdered sugar. Then more flour. I lost track of how many thickening agents I added to absorb some of the moisture! Nothing worked. Finally, with the clock ticking down and still no presentable "cake", I had to drop back and punt.

I baked an entire new cake. A yellow one this time. (it was all I had) I also discovered a secret that I'll use in the future. I didn't want to bake an entire cake because we were going out of town the next day. So I made 24 cupcakes instead. I would decorate 12 for our small party and then we'd just eat the rest plain.

Here's a picture:

So that's what I did. I then pulled out my old Wilton decorating tips and colored some icing black. (or tried to. Dark colors are hard.) I used yellow candy melts, which were already round, as the middle of the tires. I used the best "rope" technique I could remember and made the tires. I was actually kind of proud of myself! For the other cupcakes, I used chocolate frosting with the basket weave tip to make tracks in dirt. Or kinda like that anyway.

THEN, since I had 12 cupcakes left, I got brave. Going back to my original plan, I made cake pops! Now, yellow cake with chocolate frosting looked a little strange inside. Not bad, but not swirly or anything like that. (The white ones I made at Christmas were much prettier.) I used the small circle cutter I had bought to make them tire-shaped. They were huge! They almost wouldn't stay on the sticks. For reference, I smashed up 6 cupcakes to mix with the frosting and I got 6 cake pops out of it! I probably would have gotten 10-12 normal sized cake pops out of those 6 cupcakes.

I then dipped them in chocolate and used the yellow candy melts, still unmelted, as the middle of the tires.


Honestly, I liked my cupcakes better. So all in all, I was happy that I had had to go to Plan B. Back to my future reference (haha!), I've decided that instead of making a cake and freezing it for cake pops, I'll make cupcakes. That way, I can only thaw 4-6 and not have to make 30-70 cake pops each time. I can just make 10 - 20. Also in the future, if I try tire cake pops again, I'm going to skip the cake altogether and use marshmallows! I'll cut them in half and insert the stick. That should make smaller tires that stay on the stick easier. So I was glad to have a Plan C as well!

I learned a lot that day. :)

Happy Birthday, J4!


Has it really been two years since I gave birth to my precious little boy? How did that happen? WHERE does the time go? It all goes by TOO fast.

Since we now live 3 hours away from most of our family, our birthday celebrations have changed. In Little Rock, I'd let both sides of the family know and we'd have lots of family over for cake and ice cream on the Saturday closest to the child's real birthday.

Now, though, they are spread out. This is somewhat embarrassing to say, but my kids get approximately 3 birthday celebrations each. I know! #First world problem.....

For J4, his first celebration was on his actual birthday. We went to Fun City Pizza. All 3 kids love it there. Their pizza is good, too. They also have very good deals and it's very affordable. So mom and dad like it, too.

His second celebration was at Grandmary's house in Searcy. Grandmary is Jim's maternal grandmother. We had lots of family there and some that we haven't seen in 7 years!

His third celebration was at Grandmother's house (my mom) in North Little Rock. This time, we had even more family than we usually do. And there was family there that we haven't seen in 10 years! 15 years even!

So I'm pretty much done with birthday celebrations for awhile. At least until May when it's Alpha's turn.....

Pictures!!!! (I'm only going to post ones of his first birthday celebration. I've posted the others on facebook.)

J4 on a Tonka truck ride at Fun City. I promise he smiled AFTER every picture I took!
Playing more games. (ok, not really. Shhh! Don't tell him it's not really on!)
Sitting in Daddy's lap and playing racing games for real!
Plan B for the cake
They're truck tires and tire tracks in dirt, y'all! Can't you tell? (please tell me you can tell....) I'll write about my cake conundrum in another post.

My original idea that actually became Plan C.
These are supposed to be cake pops as truck tires.

Either way, I think he enjoyed them.

His balloon.
His plates and napkins.
Mighty Machines! These videos were made back in the 90's. We found this one at Wal-Mart for $4.88! He LOVES them!
An awesome, steel Tonka dump truck!
And if you think GIRLS don't like trucks, I've got news for you.
Last but not least, Momma!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


One week ago today, I had the awesome privilege of accompanying the West Fork High School and Middle School choirs to their regional Choral Practical Assessment. (yes, ironically for me, it's abbreviated CPA)

As I did last year, I not only accompanied them TO the place, I accompanied them on the piano. Yes, I'm now "that lady" whom nobody knows who shows up every so often at school and plays the piano!

The choirs this year sang wonderfully! ALL of the high school groups, including women's, men's, concert choir, and chamber singers, got a Superior rating! Isn't that awesome?! To say they were all excited would be an understatement. The middle school received an Excellent rating as well.

The contest was held at the Arend Arts Center at Bentonville High School. This facility rivals the Walton Arts Center in form and function. MANY other high schools in the region are jealous. (Heck, *I'M* jealous!) The fam and I attended a performance of "The Nutcracker" there a few years ago. What I didn't realize back then is that the facility is attached to a gymnasium and the rest of the high school. So the way they had it set up, the choir went to a "holding area" before entering the warm up room. This holding area was in front of the gym.

Which got me to thinking.....

MANY young people these days play sports. Soccer, basketball, baseball, football, etc. In fact, it's almost impossible, though not quite, to find a youngster who hasn't participated in any team sport at some point in their elementary years. The reasons all these kids play sports are many and varied, but some of the biggest reasons cited include learning teamwork, learning responsibility, and being a part of something bigger than yourself. These are all very good things to learn. However, is sports the only way to learn those things?

As I watched these choirs prepare for last Thursday, these 3 things materialized right before my eyes.

Teamwork - you have to listen to the other people in your section and blend. You can't make the entire section sound better by singing louder than everyone else.

Responsibility - in singing, you must sing with "tall vowels." That means you can't sound like a hick. You have to sing more in Queen's English than redneck. :) If even ONE person doesn't use a tall vowel sound, the entire section sounds wrong. And boy does it stand out!

Something bigger than yourself - In choral singing groups, you must ultimately do what is best for the group even if it's not what you think is best for you. What you create together is much more inspiring than any one part by itself. (In 4-part choral music. Not getting into acapella soloists here!)

Back in the fall, a musical group that one of my children is in was trying to determine when to practice each week. One mother was very honest and said upfront, "Well, if there's a conflict between this and basketball, we're going with basketball!" Now, PLEASE don't think that comment is what inspired this post. I really appreciated her honesty. Music groups aren't for everyone. What do you think would have happened if the Manning boys' mother had insisted they forego football to be in band? What if Michael Phelps' mother had forced him to take piano lessons instead of swimming? See? The world would have lost out on a great deal of talent. So I'm not trying to make this a "down with athletics" post.

But watching these kids (KIDS I tell you! The oldest are only 18. I'm old enough to be everyone of them's mother! lol!) prepare and then present this music convinced me that parents who are focused solely on athletics to help prepare their children for life are really limiting their possibilities. (Unless their kids really ARE future Peyton Manning's or Michael Phelps's) Their kids could possibly miss out on one of the best team building exercises there is - being in a musical group.

To conclude, youth sports do have their place. They certainly aren't bad. Nor am I trying to say that they're ok but music is better. But if you've tried youth sports and your child doesn't like it, or if your child refuses to do sports at all, try music. Learning to play an instrument or sing is a skill that will stay with you the rest of your life. Also, unlike sports, the child will probably be able to perform that skill the rest of his or her life. Most NFL players retire by their 40's while it's not unusual to see conductors working well into their 80's. So give music a try. Sign your child up for lessons on an instrument of his or her choosing. Let them be in band. There's a world of wonderful possibilities for those who can make music. :)