04. February 2013 · Comments Off on Happy Birthday to Our Timmy! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,
It was so windy outside, we had to fake the blowing out of the candles.

It was so windy outside, we had to fake the blowing out of the candles.

This year Timmy asked for a Nyan Cat birthday party. So he got one. He didn’t have a party last year, since we took a cruise that particular week a year ago.

I don’t know where he thinks of this stuff. It took a little bit of creativity, but the kids got a kick out of the party and Timmy was very happy.

I’ll just send you here to learn more about Nyan Cat.

And here’s the video, of course.


Since no one seemed to have done this before, I basically wagged everything. I set up a Pinterest board to collect the ideas I found online.

We rented a bouncy house. I found lots of rainbow-colored party items at our local Party City, and a friend from GeekMom recommended a craft activity.

Like the 8-bit plates?

Like the 8-bit plates?

With popsicle sticks, rainbow streamers, cardstock with Nyan Cat printouts, and a lot of glue, you too can make these cute puppets.

With popsicle sticks, rainbow streamers, cardstock with Nyan Cat printouts, and a lot of glue, you too can make these cute puppets.


The cake was fun to make. I happened to have all the food color gels for the rainbow.

The bouncy house, rented from Hurlburt Field Outdoor Recreation.

The bouncy house, rented from Hurlburt Field Outdoor Recreation.

22. November 2011 · Comments Off on Getting in the Holiday Spirit… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

It’s been hard this year.  The media has been inundating us with holiday-related retail commercials and the radio stations are already playing Christmas music.  I guess it started the same week as Halloween, which seemed pretty crazy to me.  Has it always been this early?

Don’t get me wrong…my family and I LOVE Christmas, we have a wonderful time discussing the story of Jesus’ birth, and celebrating the many holiday traditions we have.

However, we Vollmers have a strict policy: no holiday decorations until Thanksgiving Day.  No big holiday shopping till after Thanksgiving.  Really, all we do on Thanksgiving Day itself is drag the dozen-or-so plastic Rubbermaid bins from the shed, and we use the rest of the weekend to break out everything and get it displayed: tree(s), lights, etc.

Later this week I will start planning my cookie baking, gift shopping and Christmas card designs.

But today we couldn’t help ourselves.  I picked up two Wilton Pre-Baked Gingerbread House Kits from A.C. Moore after the holidays last year (2 for $5? I think) and we broke out one of them this afternoon.  Timmy chose the design on the box to copy and we went to work.  I remained in charge of the icing (could you imagine Timmy with the icing????) and Timmy placed the candies.

Jacob was our photographer today.  Enjoy!

19. November 2011 · Comments Off on Hurlburt Spouses’ Club Charity Auction · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

I just got home from the Hurlburt Spouses’ Club Charity Auction.  This year was the 25th year of the auction.  The auction is the year’s biggest fundraiser for the organization’s scholarship fund.

Being that this was my first HSC auction experience, I didn’t really know what to expect.  All the ladies said “It’s a really great time!” and they were right!  I saw dozens of planning e-mails (I’m on the Spouses’ Club board and I was privy to a lot of the planning information, although I wasn’t on the committee this year) and heard dozens of stories of everything that goes into a successful auction.  It was amazing seeing it all come together for a very successful evening.

A sampling of the items offered for auction.  The framed items on the table are tickets to attractions (such as Disney World), a pair of plane tickets for any day/anywhere in the U.S. on Southwest Airlines, and several weekend getaways at area golf resorts and casino hotels.

Dave’s Mom joined me tonight and she and I had so much fun!  Seeing the team spirit at many of the tables and the crazy antics during some of the more creative auction items was great!  (Such as the auction for the Wing Commander’s family cooking dinner for the highest bidder — which he then converted into TWO dinners and he turned one $500 bid into TWO $500 bids in an instant.)  Above all, the generosity was phenomenal!

One of the part of the event is the “Decadent Dessert” auction.  About 15 of the items are auctioned off early on in the program.  The winner has the option to serve up the dessert right there at their table.  Out of over 50 desserts, I was thrilled that my cake was one of the ones to be offered up for the tables.

Two boxes of Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate cake mix.  The icing?  Are you ready for this?  Whisk 12 oz. of heavy cream with 12 oz. of semisweet chocolate chips in a double boiler.  After it’s smooth, stir in 3 Tbsp. of Kahlua coffee liqueur.

I was tickled to see some of the first desserts bring well over $100!  They were definitely worth it!  The cake I made brought in $50 for the scholarship fund, but I will say that my cake plate was one of the less-elaborate ones.  Many got into bidding wars just for the pretty holiday platters that some of the cakes were on.

Even though I had my heart set on only one thing — a Keurig Elite coffee maker, which I won, yay — it was thrilling to see the bidding wars on many of the bigger-ticket items: over $600 for a Gibson acoustic guitar signed by the members of Sugarland!

I’m looking forward to hearing how much money was earned for the scholarship fund, and I know the spouses are incredibly grateful for the donations from around the community — actually, from around the country!  My hats off to the ladies of the club who worked so hard to make this evening a success!  I become more involved in the spring for our 2nd largest fundraiser: The Golf Scramble, which is scheduled in mid-April 2012!

A hand-knit American flag afghan, knit by a member of the Hurlburt community.  The stars were hand-crocheted also.  

A full house — nearly 200 people present!

16. November 2011 · Comments Off on Roses…Roses…and More Roses… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

I’m making a cake later this week for the Hurlburt Spouses’ Club Charity Auction.  I hope it turns out really pretty and yummy…the money earned from the auction will help provide scholarships for members of the Team Hurlburt family!

Tonight I decided to start on the roses, since I hadn’t made roses in several years.  2007?  2008?  I can’t remember.

Let me say that skill in making icing roses is NOT like the skills you develop riding a bike!  I had a hard time remembering how to do it and I really struggled with the icing temperature.  I got a little out of control.  Out of all these roses, I only need about 10 of them.

I’ll take a picture of the completed cake on Friday, I promise!

10. September 2011 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,
The box on the right was purchased in mid-July.  I thought I needed two boxes of cake mix for something, but I only needed one.  The box on the left was purchased this morning.  Darned straight I took the box tops!  But note the size difference….did someone think we wouldn’t notice???

I’m baking Jacob’s birthday cake right now.  The final product is a surprise — even for me, since I don’t quite know what I’m doing yet — but I needed two boxes of cake mix for this.

I had a box of mix in the pantry from a couple months ago (the one on the right), and I prepared it as on the back of the box.  1 1/4 c. water, 1/3 c. oil, 3 eggs.

Just before I took the first cake out of the oven, I prepared the batter for the second part of the cake.  I was just about to add the same ingredient amounts as above, but I caught a glimpse of the instructions on the box on the left: 1 c. water, 1/2 c. oil, 3 eggs.

I fished the first box out of the recycling bin and placed them side-by-side: you see that photographed above.  Somewhere between July and now Betty Crocker decided to knock 3 oz (1/6th!) from their cake mix.  And I didn’t see a difference in a price.

Isn’t this the same thing that been happening with ice cream and salad dressing?


Thank you for letting me vent…time to get part 2 of the birthday cake out of the oven…yes, at 10pm!

22. February 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

I will admit I don’t play the game (yet), but this is an AMAZING cake! Enjoy!

Let me know when you see a playable Bejeweled Blitz cake!

This week my youngest son is celebrating his 6th Birthday. I won’t be specific about which day, but with family in town this weekend, I made some pre-birthday cupcakes to serve as dessert.

Last weekend we were at our local mall-like-shopping-location. It isn’t really a mall, since it doesn’t have that old-school enclosed building thing going on. It’s of those open-air places, where you walk outside between the pretty-people stores.  Each of the past 4 locations we’ve lived has had one nearby.  Most of you who live in suburban America know what I’m talking about, right?

We ventured into Williams-Sonoma — the lure of free samples usually attracts my boys. The thought of one day having a kitchen like what’s in their catalogs attracts me. There was a lovely display of Star Wars-themed kitchen supplies. Of course we were attracted to the display like white on rice!  There in the middle among the cookie cutters and pancake molds were these “cupcake decorating kits”.

My kids begged “Please? Please? Please?” for one of the kits, so I caved in and let my youngest son choose the kit.   I’m so glad he picked the Rebel Alliance kit instead of the Galactic Empire one.  I thought the set was pretty cute, and at the time I didn’t think anything of paying $12 + Northwest Florida tax for it.  How could I turn down classic Star Wars???

Tonight my mom and I made some cupcakes for dessert, using 1/2 of the baking cups and toothpicks.

That’s what this kit is: baking cups and toothpicks.  Probably about $1 worth of product, to be honest.

We devoured the cupcakes and the used baking cups went right into the trash, but I made a point to insist that no one lick the toothpicks and make sure to recycle them.  The pictures on the toothpicks are made of a slightly-waxed paper.  Not quite cardstock, but a little heavier than just plain paper.

My opinion?  $12 for this kit is a considerable indulgence.  My kids were smiling all evening from the cute toothpicks, and one could argue that doesn’t make this all a waste.  If you aren’t picky about the baking cups — considering R2, C3PO and Chewie were all on the bottom of the finished cupcake where no one will really see them — you might be able to get away with making the toothpicks on your own.

Consider how many different characters you could glue to toothpicks and stick in cupcakes!  Maybe this is what I’ll do for next weekend’s Mario Brothers cake that’s been requested for the party next weekend.

14. September 2010 · Comments Off on Jacob’s Birthday Cake · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

This past weekend my oldest son turned 8. I had a great time working on his birthday cake. Since his 4th birthday, I’ve always taken on his cakes as a challenge each year, and this year was no exception. Jacob’s first soccer game was this past weekend also, so I thought it would be fun to do a soccer ball cake.

I picked up this Wilton Sports Ball Pan with a coupon at my local Michael’s Craft Store. Looked like a fun cake to make…

But seemed sort of small, so I decided to make a field to sit the ball on…

So here’s the field, a 9″ x 13″ cake left in the pan (I’ll explain why in a minute).

From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday

Then I had to put the ball hemispheres on, one piece at a time, sealed together with some icing. You can see the 3 dowel rods I used to support the ball…so the ball wouldn’t smash down the field.

From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday
From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday

Next, I iced the ball with a “crumb coat” which is a thin coat of icing just to keep the artistic stuff from getting messy:

From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday

Next, I used the guides in the directions to trace the soccer ball pattern. This got a little messy, the crumb coat came up as I peeled the paper.

From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday

The plan was to pipe in blue and red pentagons, and all the hexagons would be in white. The blue icing wasn’t as well mixed, and clumps of powdered sugar kept blocking the piping tip. So I didn’t use the blue as much as I’d hoped.

From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday

The finished cake:

From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday

From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday

I kept the cake in the pan to make it easier to transport to The Amazing Pizza Machine, where we celebrated Jacob’s birthday with the family and two of his closest friends here, Dean and Drake.

Happy Birthday Jacob!!!

From 2010 09 12 Jacob's 8th Birthday
09. March 2010 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

I’m currently in possession of a Big Top Cupcake pan.

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

A giant cupacake. The ad claims it’s 25x larger than a standard cupcake, but I’m not sure what they’re using to measure that —

Math Time!

I put about 1/4 cup of batter in a single little cupcake. For this cupcake, I used 4 cups of batter.

By my calculation, that’s a 16x larger cake than a standard cupcake. However, as you’ll see as I go through the pictures, I probably could have gotten away with up to 6 cups of batter, thus making a 24x larger cupcake. Then you have to trim a bunch off…so I personally think 25x is a stretch.

Our neighbor behind us, who I affectionately call “Dave the Neighbor”, posted some Facebook pictures this past Saturday of his son’s Big Top Cupcake creation from this past weekend. I commented about how cool that cake was, and we conversed some about the pan. I asked if I could borrow it sometime, and about 15 minutes later his son ran over with the pan. Quick service!

I rifled through my pantry, looking for what ingredients I had on hand to use for a recipe with the cake pan. I found enough stuff to make a modified version of the Boston Cream Cake recipe in the book that comes with the pan:

– 1 box of yellow cake mix, plus the oil, 2 eggs and a carton of egg whites (for the equivalent of the third egg)
– Two packets of vanilla Jell-O singles
– Half a bag of Hershey’s MILK chocolate chips
– 1 can of condensed milk.

Hmmmm….most of the recipes call for about 1 1/2 boxes of cake mix, but I figured we can make do. As for the chocolate chips and condensed milk, I can combine those for a yummy chocolate pourable frosting.

So here we go…

Here are the pans. The apparatus at the bottom goes over the “bottom” pan to put a pocket on the top of the cake with which you can fill with icing, pudding, etc.

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

And here’s the cake mix — nothing spectacular. Jacob will like yellow cake:

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

Mix the ingredients together:

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

This is what I use to grease my cake pans. It’s so easy to use, much easier than shortening and flour!

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

So I messed up in forgetting to take pictures of me filling the pans, but the pan on the left is the bottom of the cupcake, while the pan on the right is the top. I wish I had put more batter in the top…and you’ll see why in a moment:

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

I’m not completely sure that 350 degrees is appropriate to bake these — the edges got VERY brown, and the center was barely set. If I try this again, I should try it at 325 degrees.

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

And then these huge cracks appeared:

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

I have to admit, when I turned out the cakes, they didn’t look bad.

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

But when I put the top onto the bottom, it seemed that the top of the cake could have been more substantial. That’s okay, it’ll still taste good.

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

I used this Jell-O Singles shaker thing to mix up the two packets of vanilla pudding.

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

Then I filled the pocket:

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

Whaddya think?

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

How about some chocolate icing? Using my poor girl’s double boiler, I mixed together 1/2 a can of condensed milk with what was left of my milk chocolate chips.

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake
From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

This tastes JUST LIKE chocolate doughnut icing — YUM! I poured it on top of the cake:

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake


From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

I had my boys laughing their heads off at this mess…

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

Oh wait! Let me put a fork next to it so you can see how big it is!

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

It cut pretty cleanly, and we all enjoyed a yummy dessert:

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

There’s one happy Timmy!

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

So do I love it or loathe it? I don’t know…neither. I’m glad I had a chance to try it out, and as it stands right now MAYBE I’ll buy one. Maybe I’ll get one as a gift? I currently have quite a repertoire of cake pans and there are several I haven’t used in years. Thank you Dave-the-Neighbor for letting us make a yummy dessert with your pan!

23. January 2010 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,
From 2010 01 23 Timmy’s Mickey Mouse 5th Birthday Cake

This is Timmy’s birthday cake (duh!). Due to a series of unfortunate events, Timmy’s birthday was reduced to having a friend over for cake and ice cream after dinner tonight. We were planning a trip to the local indoor water park with the same friend, but we have some behavior issues earlier this month and Timmy lost that privilege. We may go later this winter, just not as a birthday thing.

I was thrilled that this cake was made with materials I had in the house already, from the cake mix and powdered sugar for the icing, to the colors and cake pans. The weather has been so absolutely lousy, I’ve only been heading out for essential errands, such as taking the boys to/from school and picking up groceries about every 4 days. Non-essential shopping trips and visits to the gym have dwindled down to a minimum.

Click on the link underneath picture to see the full album that covers some of the steps taken to make this cake.