Illusions and Puzzles

The biggest puzzle of my life at the moment is where does time go? I struggle to fit in all those things we are supposed to do and all the things you must do and all the things that you want to do. I do believe that technology has made this worse for us and in 2 ways. Firstly because things are so much quicker and easier than they used to be we are expected to do more – I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to be an accountant 40 years ago, I bet they had a lot less clients to look after for a start! And secondly, you see so much more than in the past that you are exposed to what more people are doing (not just your family, friends and local community) – sometimes this is a good thing, as you get lots of wonderful ideas, but other times you just wonder if you are doing it right.

I follow this Facebook page called The Organised Housewife – it gives you great ideas about how to keep your house cleanNeverending Story Laundry and organised. She also gives you a weekly declutter challenge that I like to do. Every now and then she also posts a ‘Reader Question’ and someone asked how often people wash the linen. The common answer was weekly, some twice a week, others were honest like me and said less often especially in winter. Some people said they washed their towels daily! Seriously? I cannot keep up with washing the clothes (for 2 people!), let alone washing sheets weekly and towels daily? And when I am on top of the washing of clothes, that doesn’t mean they get folded – it just means they are clean. Depending on what we are doing (work-wise and socially), if we are particularly busy we are rummaging through the clean clothes piles for undies! So if is wasn’t for Facebook, I wouldn’t think I am doing something wrong! (Although I would know rummaging for undies isn’t the norm!)

Now I know I said time seems to disappear, so you’ll think I am a bit crazy about what I say next… but last week I made it my mission to solve the Rubik’s Cube. On the 19th of May 2014 it was Rubik’s Cube 40th anniversary. Beside the fact that it makes me feel old, seeing it mentioned on the news (or firstly as Google’s homepage picture) I wondered if there would be YouTube videos on how to solve it. Well everything is on YouTube nowadays! So I made it my project to finally solve my Rubik’s Cube (that I have had since I was 10!) – and I just want to add here that I had a pretty bad chest cold so being rugged up with a Rubik’s Cube seemed like the best thing to do :)Michelle's Labyrinth - The Labyrinth 13th hour

I found this YouTube video that is pretty good by Techtopia Tutorials. I watched the beginning (up to 1:50 mins) a couple of times while he explained the basics of the cube. Now he mentions that there are algorithms that solve the Rubik’s Cube and don’t get scared by that word and nor what an algorithm may look like (example: F F U L R’ F F L’ R U F F ) because he breaks it down and explains it all. He also explains that an algorithm is a “Sequence of moves used to solve a specific portion of the Rubik’s Cube.” I had my Rubik’s Cube and I followed along with him until around the 8:50 minute mark and that’s where I got stuck. I couldn’t believe it, I was cheating at solving the Rubik’s Cube and I still couldn’t get it. It made me think of 2 people I know that can solve the Rubik’s Cube. I met both of them during University years. One mentioned that he got the Rubik’s Cube for Christmas one year (when he was around 12) and took it off to his bedroom and mathematically solved it… This guy did have a pretty high IQ, but at 12 years old he solved it? How inadequate did that thought make me feel when I couldn’t solve it with help!

So I started thinking – I have had this Rubik’s Cube since I was 10, what if I did swap a square sticker or two when I was young, or if one of my sisters did. The cube was also getting hard to turn certain ways so I Googled how to clean it (click here for instructions on how to clean it). I figured if I put it back together the correct way, then I would know if I had changed some stickers! So I took it apart and it was DISGUSTING inside!

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27 years of filth! I sprayed some CRC and put it back together and it worked fine. So I was a failure at cheating! (I thought you would like to see what the inside of the Rubik’s Cube looks like. I read a little bit about Ernő Rubik and he is chuffed that the mechanism he invented is still what is used today).

But I wasn’t about the give up. I found thisMichelle's Labyrinth Rubik's Cube Solved other website that showed a picture tutorial of You CAN Do The Rubik’s Cube! It was extremely helpful and I worked out I was at Stage 5 and guess what? I SOLVED THE RUBIK’S CUBE!  I know I did it with help, but it has been on my radar to work it out for 27 years, so I am quite pleased with myself. And I couldn’t just stop there, I had Rubik’s Octagon Barrel which hadn’t been in the right shaped for about 14 years – this is where my other friend from University years comes in. I learnt at a party at his place that he could do the Rubik’s Cube, so when he came over my place for grape picking (that is a whole other blog post!) I handed him my Octagon Barrel and you know what, he solved it! How did he do that?!

Michelle's Labyrinth Octagon Barrel - UnsolvedI found yet another YouTube by IntellivisionDude that showed a guy solving the barrel. It wasn’t a step by step tutorial though, he pretty much says that it has the same principles as the Rubik’s Cube – with a couple of exceptions which he does go into detail about. So I went back to my first YouTube and started solving the Octagon Barrel and you’ll never guess what? It worked!

I now have my own written instructions that I have used a few times to solve the Rubik’s Cube and Octagon Barrel – so I am pretty happy that I have got this crossed off the bucket list! If anyone wants me to show them how to do it, I would be more than happy to show you and give you my instructions! :) Just for the record, I can not solve it quickly nor remember all the steps – there 7 stages and about 12 different algorithms to use, and my memory is just not what it used to be! And I am not sure I believe that “The current world record for single time on a 3×3×3 Rubik’s Cube was set by Mats Valk of the Netherlands in March 2013 with a time of 5.55 seconds” – per Wikipedia. It takes me well over 5 minutes to do it now!Michelle's Labyrinth Octagon Barrel Solved

I thought I would pop a cake in at the end of this post – and there are three reasons why this cake fits this post – first off I saw this cake and read the tutorial and just wanted to do it (like I wanted to do the Rubik’s Cube); secondly it is made up of pieces and cubes (just like the… you get it? Okay!); and thirdly it ended up being very time sensitive… never enough time…

The cake I saw was this Optical Illusion Cake by Wicked Goodies Optical Illusion Cakeand I just wanted to make it. It seemed quite simple, yet so effective. I ended up making a version for my father-in-law for his 70th birthday. We held a 12 person dinner party for him and we cooked all of his favourite foods – oysters, mushrooms, bread rolls & butter, lamb and apple pie! Since I was cooking for 12 people and we wanted to do 4 courses, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make a cake – that was until I saw this Optical Illusion cake! Then I thought I would give it a go.

Of course I didn’t give myself enough time and when the guests started arriving my bench was covered in blue diamonds! But while we were waiting for everyone to arrive, and the guests that were there were having their first drink, I quickly put all the diamonds on the cake! I was quite chuffed when they saw the cubes appearing in the design and made excited comments :) One thing I did learn when making this cake was I should have covered the diamonds while they were waiting for me to put them on the cake, by the time I got half way through the diamonds were starting to dry out, so they where hard to mould into the design and also cracked a little bit. You live and learn right?

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I hope you can see the optical illusion effect on the cake – it does look better from a distance. Until next time – I hope you all have a wonderful weekend (and it is yet another long weekend in Western Australia, but it is our second last :( until Christmas – which is 30 weeks away!!! :) )

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Happy Easter

Happy Easter! I know there is only 30Michelle's Labyrinth minutes left of the weekend, but I wanted to put my well wishes out there. I learnt one thing about Easter this year and that is the U.S.A. don’t have any public holidays for Easter. I guess I had never thought about it before, but because I have staff in the US I was curious. Then I was a little shocked because the US has such a large Christian population and I thought they would carry the tradition, but apparently not. So I don’t want to rub it in, but we had a lovely relaxing 4 day weekend!

So to end the Easter weekend I wanted to show you the Easter cupcakes I made a couple of weeks ago. We did a lot of piping this term in my cake decorating class, and I was pretty happy with my butter cream grass! I think butter cream and chocolate were my favourite piping mediums.

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Michelle's Labyrinth I’ll let you know a secret – if you ever forget to put eggs in your cake mix do not fret! You still get lots of compliments about your cupcakes and how light and fluffy they are! Boy, I am a shocker! hehe

The eggs I used on these cupcakes are M&M’s Speckled Eggs – I saw Coxie’s Cakes use them and then saw them at the shops and couldn’t resist. They are such a great idea :)


Today we went to my sister’s for lunch and I thought my niece and nephew might like to try the Cake Push Pops – plus I thought my Mum and Dad might like to try them too. So I made some kids chocolate cake push pops with real cream and star sprinkles. For the adults I made black forest cakes!

These were the first push pops I madeMichelle's Labyrinth at home and I was super happy to find out that I had a circle cutter the exact size! You need to be careful not to cut the cake too thickly, otherwise it is hard to fit 3 layers of cake in the push pop containers.

Then I started layering my cakes, cream, sprinkles and black forest cake ingredients! As I was doing this I thought it would be fun for kids to do too! I have seen cupcake “stations” at kids parties, maybe you could have cake push pop stations instead and they can build their own cake combinations!

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I was quite happy with my black forest version, although I would have liked more alcohol next time! The bottom layer was super yummy!

Michelle's Labyrinth I didn’t put my fondant cake toppers on until I it was time for desert, because the fondant actually starts to melt into the cream. The colour of the sprinkles melts into the cream as well… but I didn’t mind this time as the sprinkles weren’t the main decoration – just thought I would let you know in case you want to make them.

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I hope you all had a lovely Easter however you celebrated it. If you were lucky like my nephew to have enough Easter eggs to build an Easter House (castle) out of them, then please don’t eat them all at once!

Not to rub it in about the public holidays, but we have another one this coming Friday in Australia for Anzac Day – so enjoy your short work week, or if you are taking advantage of taking 3 days off work to get 10 days off in a row – please have fun and keep safe on the roads!!!

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My First Wedding Cake: Part 3

Michelle's Labyrinth So now I have arrived to my final partMichelle's Labyrinth about My First Wedding Cake! The delivering of the wedding cake had been playing on my mind: Should we take the cake assembled or take the 3 tiers separately? How would the flowers be placed? Would the reception room be ready (i.e. no reason for anyone to move it once we left)? Would the reception room be air-conditioned? Would hubbie be able to carry it (safely!)?

I had even read lots of blogs and FAQs about delivering wedding cakes and I even asked my cake instructor if it was okay to take the 3 tiers already assembled. In the end I did deliver it assembled as you know and I am glad because of the Michelle's Labyrinth cracks issue – that was my concern about assembling the at the venue! It also worked out quite easy to assemble the flowers because they were on wires and I had already placed the flower spikes (plastic holders that you stick the stem of the wired bouquet in) in the right spots of the cake.

I was happy and starting to get a little excited. The cake was there, it looked beautiful with the ocean backing (just couldn’t get any great photos with the right lighting on the cake and being able to see the colour of the ocean). My only concern was if anyone noticed the imperfections of the fondant or if the colour of the flowers didn’t go well with the rest of the room. Would the bride like it?!

Now you may have noticed the little cakes with A and M on them. They were my little surprise. This beautiful couple have 2 little girls and after getting Miss A’s approval of my pink frangipanis I got the idea of making her a flower arrangement of her own! The little cakes were vanilla ones in case the girls didn’t like fruit cake. And when we delivered the cake to the venue a table for the children had already been set up with colouring books and after activities, so I was so pleased that it was a children friendly wedding (as I thought it might be!). During the reception when I was taking some sunset photos of the cake I heard Miss A telling someone that the cake with the A was her cake and the other one was her sisters! It didn’t take her long to work it out :)

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So the cake was delivered, photos were taken and there wasn’t anything else I could do! Well except go home and put on a dress!

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Michelle's LabyrinthAs I have mentioned the wedding was Hawaiian themed and the men were allowed to wear shorts! Hubbie had his favourite Hawaiian shirt that he bought in Bali in 2002. I found a nice dress with flowers on it before Christmas. So it was easy getting ready! And I remembered to drown myself in sunscreen including the part in my hair (which was still recovering from its last burn!).

The weather was absolutely amazing. It was forecasted to be 37 degrees Celsius and there was not a cloud in the sky. Hubbie and I had lunch before the ceremony outside and it was pretty hot so we were a little worried it might be too hot, but once we got down to Trigg beach and under the trees it was just perfect!

Michelle's LabyrinthEveryone really embraced the Hawaiian theme and the it was such a colourful affair. The groom was relaxed, their daughters were adorable and the bride was stunning – with even a frangipani in her hair :) I also liked how the celebrant dressed in theme.

I loved the photo above with the wedding couple carrying a daughter each and I love the back of the head shot of Miss M and the beautiful mother-of-the-bride! Michelle's Labyrinth

After enjoying a few cocktails at the Soda Sunlounge it was time to go to the reception and god I was hoping the cake was still standing and everyone liked it.

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When I saw the coloured hand-printed canvas on the table I was so happy. Lots of colours! And not only that, there were different coloured lanterns hanging around the room. I felt quite confident the colours of the flowers went well with the theme!Michelle's Labyrinth

It was a cocktail reception rightMichelle's Labyrinth on the beach and it was an absolutely beautiful night. The weather continued to be perfect and there was still not a cloud to be seen. Usually clouds make for great sunsets, but I thought this night’s sunset was stunning!

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I received many compliments about my cake, lots of photos were taken and I was even congratulated! As I said it was a bit of an epic journey so I’ll take those congratulations that I had made my first wedding cake and survived! I really hope the bride did love the cake and I am completely honoured to have been given such a responsibility!

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I am always asked if I am upset when the cake is finally cut into. Strangely I am not. Once I have my photos all I want is for the cake to be enjoyed and that means eaten! I was given some compliments of the taste of the cake too, which is an added bonus. One lady said it was a “good nine” – I’ll take that! We caught up with some of the family today and a few of them had enjoyed a piece last night and said how moist it was. Yay! My cake has been eaten and enjoyed! That is all one can ask for :)

I hope you enjoyed my cake and the journey of making it. I’ll leave you with Miss A claiming her cake once the bride and groom had cut into theirs. I love that Miss A loved her cake!Michelle's Labyrinth




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