05. January 2009 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

This is a Pre-Birthday cake for Timmy. We’re going to do cake and a couple gifts tonight, mainly so Mommy gets her chance to sing “Happy Birthday” to her almost-4-year-old. Dad plans to have a few friends over for cake and ice cream closer to Timmy’s actual birthday on the 26th.
But the cake! Where do I begin??? First the icing base coat fills with crumbs, making the icing layer appear all mottled. Then the spray-on yellow square has some bleed off. Then I run out of icing before I can really finish Spongebob. I had planned to dress him, at least.
But look on the bright side: I don’t think there’s any doubt in who that is, right??

17. June 2008 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

“So, what on earth have you been doing? I haven’t seen a substantial posting in a while!”

Well, now that Timmy is napping and Jacob is in NEW YORK with his grandparents, I have a chance to catch up a little!

On Thursday of last week, Dave’s parents flew into town. Right in the middle of all that smoke mentioned here .

Friday morning was Dave’s dissertation defense at NC State. This is his one-hour-long opportunity to give a summary of his 3-years of research. The general public is invited — well, the general public in this case is anyone who is interested in stratospheric turbulence — and this is the part Dave’s parents and I sat in on.

As is the tradition for a morning defense, we put out a small breakfast spread from our local Panera Bread shop.

Unbeknownst to Dave, I had taken a couple pictures of his presentation. Lots of vertical profiles of the atmosphere. I guess I understood most of it with a little brain effort.

After the presentation, Dave was left to his PhD committee behind closed doors for another 1 1/2 hours or so, and when that was done we received the happy phone call: “I passed!”. Wonderful news!

That afternoon we went to Dave’s office where one of his professors, Dr. Yuter, gave him this clever cake:

The family had a celebration dinner at the Angus Barn Restaurant in Raleigh…a place we’d been trying to visit for some time. It was most wonderful — Dave and I were reminded of one of our favorite restaurants in State College, The Tavern. The menus are a little different, but the atmosphere and the friendly staff brought back many nice memories.

On Saturday, several of our Raleigh friends (and my sister’s family) threw us a delightful going-away picnic. We combined the celebration with one for Dave completing his PhD, so we had invited his NCSU colleagues, too. Several of them paid a visit to the park. We had a great visit with so many of our friends and family…

And here’s the cake I’d made to celebrate:

Several of the families we’d befriended here presented us with a precious photo album that included pictures going back the past 3 years — from the very first playgroups my boys were in when we moved here! It must have taken hours to gather the photos and assemble them for us. I was definitely in tears going down memory lane with my boys and their friends…and my dear friends, too.

Dave’s parents had a nice relaxing rest-of-the-weekend, and on Monday they took Jacob with them back to New York. This coming weekend is Dave’s family reunion in Lancaster County, PA and we’ll pick up Jacob there and have a great weekend at Uncle Jack and Aunt Shirley Henderson’s farm.

23. May 2008 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags:

This week, I was inspired — in part by Christina’s post — to attempt a pull-apart cake for Jake’s graduation pot-luck. Unlike Christina’s son’s school, homemade foods are welcome!

Last year, Maryann gave me a Penguin-shaped silicone pull-apart cake pan, since Jake was in the Penguin class and all.

I only remembered to take two pictures of the cake but they show how it all looks.

Everyone was scared to touch the cake…or they didn’t realize it was a pull-apart cake. Our family was about 2/3 the way through the line for food and the cake was virtually untouched! So Carolyn (the Mom across from me) and I hacked into it! Then it disappeared quickly.



From 2008 05 22 Ja…
11. May 2008 · Comments Off on FotoMom Turned Forty! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Enjoy some photos of Maryann’s Surprise Birthday Party!

09. April 2008 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

This is my latest cake creation. Duff Goldman, I’m not.

This was made in honor of my reserve flight’s outgoing commander, Lt Col Chuck Buckler. He drinks 6-8 cans of Diet Coke daily, and we would watch him accumulate a pile of empty cans on his desk every drill weekend. Sort of horrifying, if you ask me…all those chemicals.

Anyway, making the Diet Coke shaped cake was Paul’s idea. Paul will be my commander after Lt Col Buckler leaves. I guess starting in mid-May, you’ll be seeing me call him Major Gifford. 🙂

I offered making a Diet Coke cake, but it seemed to gross everyone out.

I really wanted the gray-colored icing to be more silvery, but I was limited in my resources. I ordered some silver food coloring from a British retailer (only 5 Pounds! Which comes to about $11 U.S.!) Someone more professional might have been able to hook up her food-quality airbrush and spray it on, but I wasn’t that lucky. I mixed in the coloring into some white buttercream and ended up with a white sparkley icing…not gray at all! Hence the addition of a little black coloring to make the gray tone. The picture doesn’t show the subtle sparkle that well.

Underneath? One layer of white cake, one layer of devil’s food, the cake was trimmed to look like a half-cylinder on its side.

More cake pics here: http://picasaweb.google.com/vollmerdp/CokeCake


26. January 2008 · Comments Off on Birthday Parties, Cary, NC Style · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

Today is Timmy’s 3rd birthday. Today was Timmy’s 3rd birthday PARTY, too. In part because of all the wonderful parties we’ve been invited to, and in part because this is Timmy’s last birthday party while we’re living in North Carolina (sniff sniff), he had a pretty big shindig.

For Jacob, a summertime birthday is pretty simple: pool, park, or backyard, right? Well, when your child’s birthday is on the climatologically coldest week of the year, you don’t want to risk the weather not cooperating, so you take action nice and early to book a great indoor location. I booked Planet Child in early November for today’s party. I’m not making that up — I booked this venue 3 months in advance! Everything around here seems that way — preschools, soccer teams, art classes, swimming lessons. Act fast if you want happy kids, right?

So for this party I invited Timmy’s preschool class, and several of the neighborhood friends he’s known while we’ve been living here. I think it came to about 16 friends total.

But those friends have siblings. And many of their siblings happen to be Jacob’s age.

And we don’t want Jacob to not have his friends around, right?

9 friends for Jacob. So the 16 kids we invited became 25. That’s a lot of kids! Add to that Jacob and Timmy, and I was planning a party for 27 kids plus their parents!

And like Jacob’s birthday party (which was at a park with no limits on how many could attend), they ALL RSVPed “Yes”. I never expected I’d have such popular kids. It’s sorta nice — I don’t think I was ever that popular!

Unfortunately, at the last minute, 4 of the children had to back out. I was sad that they couldn’t make it, but it helped keep my requirement for goody bags to the original 24. Everything seemed to come in sets of 8 or 12…ever the mathematician. I purchased some spare items for the extra 3 goody bags, but I have to admit the stuff wasn’t quite as cool.

Anyway, the party was wonderful — the facility is first class, the people helping to set up the room helped our event run smooth as silk, and (most importantly) the kids and guests had a terrific time.

Having the party at Planet Child helped me focus on the two (count ’em, TWO) cakes I made for the party. I needed enough for approximately 50 people, and one Wilton Thomas cake just wasn’t going to cut it. Maryann had both the Thomas and Lightning McQueen Wilton cake pans, so I made BOTH. Thomas was yellow cake, Lightning was chocolate. Yes, I’m crazy.

I ran into a minor emergency with Thomas: because it was an egg-free cake recipe, the cake started drying out while it was still on the cooling rack, so I got to work pronto to frost the cake. The first batch of icing ended up with clumps of powdered sugar all over that would stick in the piping bags. Ugh! Out of frustration, I had to pitch that entire batch of icing and start over, remixing the icing, and re-coloring the colors I needed. But at least the 2nd time was a charm, and Thomas ended up looking pretty decent when I was done.

From 2008 01 26 Ti…

Note the ring of grease around Thomas — I had a brain fart and failed to cover the cake board with aluminum foil. Oops.

Lightning McQueen worked out much much better. I had him iced with no problems in under an hour. The front end of the cake severed while it was cooling, but it wasn’t a problem to re-attach it with some icing before I frosted the whole thing.

From 2008 01 26 Ti…

So far it’s been a pretty great weekend for Timmy — his Grammy and Grampy flew in from New York, he’s been showered with gifts all weekend so far! He’s making out like a bandit! And…thankfully he’s been a great kid all weekend — no meltdowns and no potty accidents (so far, knock bytes!)