Thursday, November 17, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
3 weeks before the event, I was welcomed to join a local team - Team Hope. Here are the ladies of the team shortly after beginning the walk in Clearwater Beach. Looking so fresh and chipper! 20 miles to go til dinner!
If you follow this blog or know me personally, you already know that I have a 7-week old baby. So, being pregnant until September 16th really hindered my ability to complete long-distance training walks. Of course, you're silly to try to walk 60 miles in 3 days without training...but what choice did I have? I trained hard for the 3 weeks prior to the walk, but I still felt like I was going "0 to 60 in 3 Days." Here goes nothing!
Since I'm not very outgoing, I baked almost 300 pink ribbon cookies to give out to walkers along the route. I figured, if I give them a free cookie, that will force them to talk to me, and I'll meet 100 people each day!
What I neglected to consider was that 100 cookies is heavy. After carrying them 3 miles on the first day, I started just handing them out in handfuls to whomever would take them. So much for meeting 100 people! But I enjoy baking (obviously) and I was thrilled to offer something sweet to the walkers who'd already worked so hard to fund raise and were now committed to walking so many miles over the weekend. What's weird is that by the 3rd day, people had heard of me! When I was handing out cookies, people would say "You're the cookie girl! I heard about you!" Makes it all feel worthwhile.
But back to the walk...Each day's route is divided into little walking segments. About every 3 miles, you get a Pit Stop (with food, drinks, potty, and medical help), a Grab & Go (with food, drinks, and potty), or lunch. Breaking up the miles REALLY makes it easier to finish each day. Mentally, you tell yourself you can make it to the next pit stop. Then, you stop and rest and feel like you can make it to the next pit stop 3 miles ahead! And before you know it, you're at lunch! After a nice rest at lunch, you do it all over again until you arrive at camp for the night.
Here is a shot of a bunch of walkers at the very first Pit Stop on Day 1:
On the first day of the walk, the walkers were very bunched up. We had plenty of room to walk, but what I mean is that it was cool to see the river of pink flow up and down bridges all over town. You could see pink WAY ahead and behind you!
And sprinkled in among the route stops were Cheering Stations. These are designated, published spots where spectators are encouraged to gather and cheer on the walkers. This is the first Cheering Station on the route:
And I'd like to point out the age of the walker out in front. Hello! If she can walk 60 miles, you can too!
And here I am walking through a Cheering Station on Day 3:
The 3-Day is an amazing event. Not only do you have approximately 1500 people walking (think 1500 times the $2300 fundraising minimum = at least $3.45 million raised!) plus the 3-Day staff and the volunteer crew keeping us safe, fed, and on-route...but you've also got the spectators cheering the walkers on! And, as we walked through neighborhoods and communities, people came out of their homes to cheer us on. There were people outside their homes in the cold on Sunday morning at 8am cheering for us. Seriously? They could have been snuggled into their beds still! It really creates a sense of community as we stand up TOGETHER to fight breast cancer. Gives me goosebumps.
At night, all the walkers and crew gather at "Camp." Camp is where you eat dinner, check for mail, rest for the next day, do some 3-Day shopping, and SLEEP! Camp is another community experience - one I didn't get to participate in this year, but I'll get to that later.
Each night, as the last walker approaches camp, they make an announcement. Immediately, everyone drops what they're doing to walk outside and cheer on the walker! It's very emotional. The walker is usually crying and the entire camp is cheering them on. They carry a flag into camp and proudly raise it up a flagpole to signify that everyone is safely at home and camp is in session!
At the end of the 3rd day's route, all the walkers gather in a "holding area." Then, the 1500 walkers walk together to the Closing Ceremony where they're cheered on by spectators and their loved ones. Here is my team walking to the Closing Ceremony:
And out pops my hubby, Adam, with a huge bouquet of flowers! He's awesome. :) And I love Kristy's face in this photo (she's on the far left):
After the walkers march into Closing Ceremony, the crew and survivors follow. The walkers then salute the survivors by raising our shoes in their honor. After all, we're walking for them, aren't we?
Then, a select few survivors raise the 3-Day flag one last time. The Closing Ceremonies are very emotional for everyone. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone whose life has not been touched by breast cancer in some way so while the Closing Ceremonies are celebrating the funds raised and the progress that has been made in finding a cure, you can't help but think about those who are fighting or have fought their own battle with breast cancer.
But that whole recap was just a recap...Here are my personal experiences:
Like I mentioned above, I have a 7-week old baby. She's had some digestive issues and cannot take formula so I am breastfeeding her. Now, let's think about this for a minute...walking 20 miles a day for 3 days is VERY time consuming so how am I supposed to breastfeed her at the same time?!
Adam & I decided that we'd supplement with soy formula during the walk. Well, apparently the soy didn't agree with her stomach so the first day of the walk was difficult for Adam and our baby Mikaela. Poor thing! So we decided that we would try to coordinate our schedules enough that Adam & Mikaela would meet me along the route every 2 hours so I could feed her and keep walking. That is no small task since they do not publish the route!
I figured this would be too difficult and we'd never be able to pull this off so I was prepared to either quit the walk or have to take the Sweep Vans to lunch and camp in order to meet them. But, Adam's amazing! With help from his parents (who are also amazing), they were able to meet me every 2 hours. Mikaela was soon feeling much better and I was able to continue to participate in the walk. Yay!
On Day 1, I walked all but about 4 miles of the route. I wasn't prepared to be walking so many miles alone so I was emotionally beaten. When you walk alone, you have time to think about all your aches and pains - not good! I took a Sweep Van and skipped the last 4 miles before lunch. I felt somewhat rejuvenated after lunch and continued walking. Adam met me 1 mile before the end, and I told him, "I can't make it. I'm going to have to take a van for the last mile." It's only a mile though! I rested while I fed Mikaela and decided to head back on the route. Well, I did it! I finished that mile and walked a total of about 16 miles that day!
On Day 2, I felt amazing! I was ready to walk alone and was in much better spirits! Mikaela was feeling better so I wasn't stressed about that either. I met up with Adam, his parents, and Mikaela every 2 hours to feed her (and get emotionally psyched again). I was able to walk all 20 miles! In the last 2 miles, though, I started feeling a lot of pain in my left foot. I met a new friend and she is the ONLY reason I didn't Sweep to camp that night. She kept me walking, and I'm so glad I did.
On Day 3, I started out with the same pain in my foot. I wasn't able to get it taped up until lunch so I took one Sweep Van to skip 3 miles in the morning. At lunch, I got taped up and hit the road again. I was still meeting up with Mikaela every 2 hours and I was emotionally energized to finish this thing! By the end of Day 3, the pain in my foot had returned and I was walking at a snail's pace. But I was determined to WALK across the finish line, not roll across it in a Sweep Van. I did it, and - miraculously - I wasn't the last walker to finish!
But what got me through the 60 miles that weekend was...
1. My daughter. Meeting up with her every 2 hours really revved me up. This was the first time I was really separated from her since her birth so it was emotional to leave her for the entire day. Seeing her every 2 hours allowed me to love on her a little, touch her, kiss her, and smell her (you know you love that new baby smell). Knowing she was waiting for me just a few miles ahead is what kept me walking...just one foot in front of the other...
2. My personal cheering squad. My family sacrificed so much that weekend so that I could complete the 3-Day. When I signed up to do this, I never thought it would take an entire team to support one walker! Adam and his parents were such troopers running all over town to reunite Mikaela and I throughout the day. Taylor joined them on the last day and she had to be the best cheer leader on the route! And Mom was cheering me on from home while she took care of our puppy Nani. And did I mention that Mom cleaned our whole house by herself? It felt awesome to return to a CLEAN home!
3. Graham Snackers and G2. Seriously! These Graham Snackers were a favorite among the walkers at the Pit Stops! SOOOOO yummy! And G2 kept me hydrated enough to continue walking.
So why do I walk?
I walk because I can.
I walk for those who can't.
And I walk for my daughter.
As I saw on a T-shirt during the walk...let's find a cure for breast cancer before she has boobs.
So I started this post saying that I'm hooked on the 3-Day. Yup, hooked! Next year, I'm forming my own team. We'll walk TOGETHER and have so much fun...like a mobile party! Woot woot! Will you join us? I'll update this post as soon as we have a team fundraising page. In the meantime, email me if you're interested!
Monday, October 24, 2011
My last post was on Wednesday, September 14th. Some of you may already know this, but I actually went into labor late Thursday night and had my baby at 5:19am on Friday, September 16th! So, it has taken me a little over a month to get used to our new schedule & lifestyle. But I'm back and ready to start blogging and caking again!!
First, I've got a few things to follow up on:
I recently had the pleasure of virtually (we've only talked through email) meeting a diaper cake designer. A diaper cake is something that looks like a 2-3 tiered cake, but is actually made of rolled up diapers! It's so cute and makes really amazing party decorations and centerpieces (next to the real cake, of course). Anyway, Holli at Shower Cakez & Glitz made a Minnie Mouse diaper cake that would go perfectly with the Minnie Mouse cake I last posted.
So cute, right?! So if you're throwing a party (baby shower, bridal shower, birthday party, graduation party, etc), consider ordering something like this - and it doesn't have to be made of diapers! Check out Holli's website for more info but these things make GREAT gifts!
Going back a few more days, I posted another Sneak Peek on our Facebook Fan Page! Did you see it?! Are you a fan? I only post these Sneak Peeks to the Fan Page so you must be a fan to see them and have a chance to win the prizes.
This Sneak Peek really threw people for a loop. I got guesses like a Mighty Mouse, Stitch, a Pokemon character, Lemmings, Winnie the Pooh, etc. For this contest, I allowed entrants to guess as many times as they wanted. Each correct guess would count as an "entry" into a drawing for something sweet and hand made from me! But after 6 hours of guessing, I finally had to give a hint and I still only got TWO correct guesses!
The cookies are puppies! French Bulldogs, to be specific. Kate ordered these cookies to send to her brand new hubby overseas! She wanted the cookies to be something to remind him of home and something that made him really happy - their French Bulldog Munster! Here is the picture she sent me to base the cookies on:
So who won the goodies from me? I put Kristin's and Jane's names in a hat and the winner is....Jane! I will contact you through Facebook to get your mailing address. Congrats and thanks to everyone who guessed. That was the most fun Sneak Peek yet!
Ok, and the last thing I have to update you on is...my baby! One week after she was born, we had a newborn photography shoot at the beach with my good friend Elise Kersey of Elise Kersey Photography. Here's a sneak peek that she gave us from the shoot:
I am in LOVE with that photo, and of course our little girl too! Now, since this is a cake bog, I'll try to resist posting picture after picture of our baby...but forgive me if one slips through every now and then. *wink*
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The cake was iced in buttercream and decorated with fondant polka dots & daisies. The bow and ears topper was created out of gum paste.
Happy 1st Birthday, Khamari!
Friday, September 9, 2011
4 different cupcake flavors with 4 different pastel-colored icing swirls!
Stay tuned to our Facebook Fan Page for a sneak peak of something special we're working on today!!! They're may even be a prize involved!
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Of course, there is such a thing as too much color (think fluorescent green, orange, etc)...but bringing in touches of your wedding accent colors can really help decorate your reception.
Here's a cake we made for a bride and groom who were having an orange and blue wedding:
The cake was iced in white buttercream, and we wrapped real ribbon around the base of each cake tier.
The daisies were all hand-made from gum paste and attached to the cake. Then, we added a sprinkling of orange and blue polka dots around the daisies.
It's just enough color to bring the cake to life and still keep it elegant and formal. I love color on cakes, don't you?!
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Emily's entire party was centered around different shades of purple, and they gave these purple lollipops as favors to all the party-goers.
The cake tiers were covered in white fondant and decorated with purple fondant accents. And, as usual, the purple bow on top was created with fondant!
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Here's a cake I made while still working at Ms Debbie's Sugar Art in Newberry. It was designed by the birthday girl herself. She wanted Tiffany blue zebra print, leopard print, a glitzy topper, the word "Diva" on there somewhere, some purple quilted pattern, and a beauty queen-like sash across the front. Wow, that's a lot! Luckily, it all come together in one cohesive design.
Now, that's what I call a custom, personalized cake!
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Tragedy - an event in which one or more losses, usually of human life, occurs that is viewed as mournful; a disastrous event.
We all know the definition of a tragedy, and yet when one blindsides us, we are left speechless. Who do we turn to for comfort? How do we comfort those experiencing the loss the most? How do we calm ourselves enough to sleep at night and then wake up the next morning to face the day?
I don't have the answers to those questions, and that's not the point of this blog post. The focus of this post is to hold an online auction for hand-decorated cookies to raise money for a fellow food blogger, Jennie, whose family has recently been struck by a tragedy.
But I would like to pause right here and pay some respect to 2 other tragedies that have touched my life this week. First of all, my Grandpa, who was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2007 and has fought a long, hard battle, is finally fading away. His body just has no strength left. He is primarily unconscious due to pain medications, but I pray that the Lord takes him soon so he experiences ultimate relief. I also pray for my Grandma and family members who are standing by watching him slowly slip away. Is it harder to cope with death when you have time to say goodbye or when you don't? I think they're equally painful...but very different...
The other tragedy is for someone I didn't get a chance to know very well. A woman in the Ocala Cake Club and her husband were recently struck by a head-on collision, leaving behind 3 children. Again, I'm speechless. I don't even know how to begin to help...or wait, can anything I do really help??? Still, my thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved.
And now back to the blog post at hand. Jennie's husband was recently killed by a massive heart attack while he was outside playing with his daughters. Members of the food blogging world immediately stepped up to comfort her, sending her Tweets, Facebook messages, emails, and comments on her blog. The outpouring of love was simply amazing.
But, now reality hits. Words of encouragement will only go so far. Jennie's husband's insurance coverage expires in December and the new insurance coverage will cost more than her mortgage. And let's not forget all the other month-to-month bills she'll have to cover on her own. In response to this news, the food bloggers have formed Bloggers Without Borders and are holding many, many online auctions to raise funds for her and her daughters. I won't go into details here, but just do a search for #AFundForJennie or check out Jennie's blog if you want to see what everyone is doing for her.
Now, it's my turn. I am auctioning off 2 dozen decorated sugar cookies. These cookies are made from scratch and hand-decorated with chic, designer prints and royal icing (pictured below, although colors and patterns may vary).
My friend Julie just auctioned off some decorated cookies on her blog. She got $65 for 2 dozen. But I'm competitive - let's beat that! How high can we go? And let's just say that if the bidding goes beyond $100, I'll do something extra special for the winner! So help spread the word about the auction and let's raise some moo-la for Jennie and her girls.
Action Details: I'll start the bidding at $40! Leave a comment below with your bid. (Please be sure your bid is at least $1 more than the previous bid.) 2 dozen cupcake-shaped decorated sugar cookies will be shipped to the highest bidder within 2-4 weeks donation is received. Donation will be made directly to Bloggers without Borders for the #AFundForJennie fund with 100% of the donation going directly to Jennie and her girls.
Bidding will end at 11:59 PM EST on Wednesday, September 7th. At the conclusion of the auction, I will contact the winner to assist with his/her donation to Bloggers Without Borders.
*If you'd like to donate via the Bloggers Without Borders button above and use PayPal, Bloggers without Borders is asking you to use the instant transfer via your bank account. This will allow them to avoid the PayPal fees and will allow your entire donation to go directly to Jennie and her girls.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
For these bustier cookies, I used blue polka dot, leopard print, and pink polka dot edible prints from my PhotoFrost printing system. The rest of the decorations were done with royal icing.
Stay tuned for more edible print cookies coming soon!
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Lisa loves all things masquerade so that was the theme of the party.
I carved each of the 3 cake tiers so they had a bit more of a whimsical, playful feel than simple straight edges. The whole cake was covered in white fondant, and I used Mardis Gras colors (green, purple, black, and gold) to decorate it.
The mask on top was created out of gum paste, and the feathers (sorry, not edible) were purchased at craft & party stores around town. A word of warning: If you're creating a cake that needs feathers after Mardis Gras, start your search early! It took forever for me to find enough feathers for this cake!
And Lisa's name and the "50" at the bottom of the cake were also created out of gum paste and glued in place with royal icing.
Coincidentally, Masquerade is also the theme of the 2012 Florida ICED Cake Competition on March 31 and April 1, 2012! I will be there as one of the judges and will be doing two demos, one on Saturday and one on Sunday (topics TBD). Check out the photos from this year's competition and start making your plans to be there next year! Want to enter? Be sure to read the rules carefully and consider my tips for successfully entering and WINNING cake decorating competitions!
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
I made this one for my in-laws' 30th wedding anniversary a few weeks ago. The bouquet featured 2 champagne glasses, 3 red roses, 1 "Happy Anniversary" heart, and 1 bottle of champagne displaying the year 1981.
Then, my mother-in-law Leona wanted me to take a good picture of the 2 of them. Before you see the pictures, it's important for you to know that we were eating at Malio's Prime Steakhouse in Tampa. It's a fancy restaurant with spectacular food!
Ok, ignore my lack of camera skills in less than ideal photography conditions...
But I picked up the camera, counted to 3, and this is the shot I get:
Ok...let's try again...
Not a horrible shot, but why must we always pose with our alcoholic beverages? And J-Dawg (that's what I call my father-in-law) looks less than thrilled to be there. Third time's the charm, right?
Hm...maybe not...Ok, let's try ONE more time. We give Leona a little pep talk about calming down and looking "normal." I pick up the camera again, assured that this will be a good photo!
But, now we've lost J-Dawg...
I give up.