Things I learned tonight…
1. Marshmallow, very sticky
2. I don’t have a mixer quite big and bad enough to make a whole batch of marshmallow fondant
3. I shouldn’t have had my nails done right before deciding to make 10 pounds of fondant, short would be better
4. Marshmallows are sticky
This all really goes back to 1998, the year I was married. I was so loved (heh heh) that I had three wedding showers. My sister got married the same year and she had ONE shower. Sooo… my grandma (who was one of the very few people invited to all of my showers) gave my sister the KitchenAid mixer and me 3 smaller gifts that added up to the cost of the KitchenAid mixer. It is now 12 years later and if my sister has used that mixer twice, I would be genuinely shocked. The point is that I don’t have a stand mixer and my sister does and I still might wish I’d only had one shower. She doesn’t read this. If she did, this is where I would ask her to give me her stand mixer.
Unfortunately, my truly amazing grandma passed away in 2006. My grandma was a very successful and accomplished woman, but I remember her best for the time she spent in her kitchen. She wasn’t there because it was all she had, she had lots of important things to do — she was there because she loved it. I chose many special things from her kitchen, but her vintage Hamilton Beach Model E stand mixer (that she received as a wedding gift) is my easy favorite (though it’s hard to top the bacon press and the cheese cuber).
Unlike my sister, she used her mixer almost every day. It’s heavy and it’s clunky and the exterior is a little over-loved… but it still works like I just took it out of the box (and yes, I actually have the box, too). I’m so fortunate to have it and with it, the memories of the years I spent watching her make mashed potatoes and never, ever sitting down for a meal until everyone at the table was almost finished eating.
The tomatoes are rolling in and the keeper of the tomato plants is always quite anxious about the possibility of a rogue army of tomatoes rising up and overthrowing the established regime. So, off I went to the store for tomatoey dinner with nothing at all up my sleeve.
After wandering through the store aimlessly for 10 minutes, I admitted defeat and pulled out my iphone. I fired up my super favorite Allrecipes Dinner Spinner Pro. In about 12 seconds I’d found a recipe that was absolutely perfect! Using my handy dandy phone, I raced through the store gathering the ingredients for Summer Pasta with Basil, Tomatoes and Cheese.
I don’t like mint, so I skipped that part and when I had everything I needed and got to the very last item on the list, I ran into a “living on the crappy side of town” snag. Our grocery store doesn’t carry fontina. Of course I did check (again) that handy dandy iphone to find out if there is a suitable substitute for fontina. Not so much. I already had everything I needed (and my heart set), so I called in an emergency grocery request to Brian, who was on his way home from work and he stepped in as the hero and located my fontina on the other side of town.
This was a 5 star recipe for me, easily. It was just exactly what it claimed to be. It’s served just about at room temperature so it’s great for warm nights… and the tomato marinade mixed with the cheese… yum! A complete departure from anything I’ve made before. Cream sherry in pasta? Neat!
… this is a super awesome card. Personally, I’m kind of embarrassed how long it took me to come up with something this lame. This is the first year that I’ve flown blind, not having much intimate knowledge of Harry Potter. I saw the first movie when it came out — not exactly an expert. I had to do some major research to find something that wasn’t copyright protected that I could use.
I finally located a photo of the actual Platform 9 3/4 that was used in the movie (allegedly because I don’t remember). I was SO late getting these out because it took me forever to figure out how to make a Harry Potter invitation, but I think this was about as good as it was going to get.
We printed these as images (ran out of time for press printing) and mounted them to black card stock.
Brandon’s 8th birthday… just 5 days away. Bailey is 4, so logically, Brandon is older, though I still have no concept of time when it comes to my kids. He’s 8?? Really?? In 8 more years, Brandon will be driving away in our car, dating, and completely uninterested in me… but even though we just wrapped up 8 whole years, the “what will Brandon be like at 16” question seems so ridiculously premature. It shouldn’t, but it does… I don’t want to admit to myself just how quickly 8 years flies.
In my normal and expected fashion, birthday invitations went out late. VERY late. I now have 6 days to plan his very specifically themed Harry Potter birthday party, clean the house, figure out what to serve for lunch, and of course, learn how to make the far too ambitious Hogwart’s cake I promised even though I’ve never made any kind of 3D theme cake before.
Using a recipe for fondant that I found on my beloved allrecipes.com, I made a practice cake to see just how much I could screw up fondant. It was quite an experience, but I’m pretty excited to learn something new. Secretly, I’ve always wanted to make awesome decorated cakes. I’ve just never been able to trust myself around a cake, so…
My first practice cake was not so much a disaster, even though I made it egg-free for Brandon and cakes without egg tend to fall apart. I really think I can do this castle cake. I really, really do! I think I can, I think I can. As long as my mixer holds out… we’ll just ignore the fact that it was smoking just a little tiny bit. No reason for alarm… move along.
Pictures of my first practice cake… just learning how to drape the fondant over the cake. It went well, I think. The rest of the decorating was just me wanting to play with my decorator tips. Perhaps I should practice on cardboard from this point forward?