Sentimental Flowers

In the middle of 2013 my friend’sMichelle's Labyrinth Flowers Mum asked if I would be able to make her sister’s 60th birthday cake. Of course I was pleased to, but this request had a twist. My friend’s Mum had flowers from her grandmother’s 90th birthday cake that she wanted me to put on the cake. The grandmother was born in 1895, so the flowers were from 1985! I didn’t see a problem with using the flowers so I was entrusted with the flowers that were safely stored in a Quality Street chocolate tin!

Michelle's Labyrinth DogI asked if she wanted anything else on the cake and I was told about the birthday girl’s dog and also that she often had kangaroos on her front lawn and big eucalyptus around her house because she lived out of the city. I had until October to work out what I was going to do so I let my sub-conscious contemplate it.

 

When it came time to seriouslyMichelle's Labyrinth Dog Kangaroo 2 think about the cake I opened the flowers so I could see the colour of them. Then I did something I rarely do, and I don’t know why I did it. I smelt the flowers! I am not usually a “sniffer”, like one of my sisters is. I would much prefer not to smell bad things. Now the flowers didn’t smell, but I got a shot of very old dust up my nose! It was unpleasant to say the least! I guess it let me know that I would need a protective layer between the cake and the flowers, so I made a fondant base for the flowers.

I knew I would make the dog, especially after seeing a photo of her (what a cutie!) and I thought I would do a kangaroo. I wish I had made the dog and kangaroo earlier, because they weren’t exactly comparable sizes!

I wasn’t sure about the colour scheme of the cake. I tried my best to match the pink and green in the flowers. I wasn’t overly keen of the outcome, but I do have an aversion to pink! So I hope the end result was ok.

Michelle's Labyrinth Dog Kangaroo 1

While writing this post I decided I was a bit bored of seeing black or brown/wood backgrounds to my cakes, so I decided this cake needed a brighter background. Well turning 60 is a joyous occasion and I was lucky enough to be invited to this 60th luncheon where 4 generations were at the table! I was also lucky to taste the butter and sultana cake – I think it is one of my favourites that I make :)Michelle's Labyrinth Dog_GardenAnd because it’s my birthday weekend I wanted to spread even more brightness so I brightened up my Olaf cake! I hope you are having a bright weekend!

Bees’ll buzz
Kids’ll blow dandelion fuzz
And I’ll be doing whatever snow does
In summer

Michelle's Labyrinth Olaf Beach

P.S. Check out the gorgeous black forest (cream-free) cake my sister made me for my birthday. It was delicious! I am very spoilt :)Michelle's Labyrinth Cream-Free Black Forest Cake

 

 

 

Christmas 2014: Part 3

Happy New Year Everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful festive season however you celebrated it. I cannot believe another year has gone by and it is now the year 2015! The year we all thought about in 1989 when Back to the Future II came out. I did a silly thing just then and worked out that was 26 years ago! Sorry, but I had to point that out.

I believe I am up to the 23 Day of my long Christmas! My niece and nephew came over for the day and we made a Gingerbread House and I let them loose with my fondant collection! The snow-covered sides on the bottom were decorated by my niece and she also made a wicked Olaf! On the sides decorated by my nephew you can actually see some of the gingerbread house! I love how different their styles are and how they kept their sides true to themselves!Michelle's Labyrinth Christmas 2014 Day 23Then it was Christmas Eve! And was I ready for Christmas? Not really. I had all these huge hopes of being more organised than previous years, but unfortunately a lot of Christmas cards weren’t sent out – again. But I did get to catch up one last time with my friend and her daughter, do some shopping, finish wrapping some pressies and finish two more cakes! Since the cakes were finished quite late, I shared two Elves made by the beautiful Conny Deylen. I guess I was wishing I had a couple of elves helping me instead of Santa on Christmas Eve.

Michelle's Labyrinth Christmas 2014 Day 24

Christmas Day had arrived and I was covered in red glitter! But I do love the effect the red glitter gave to the Christmas Minion I made for my nephew (he loves fruit cake and I think that is wonderful!)! The other Christmas Minion was for our extended family dinner Christmas night and I was lucky to get to take some home and I still have some left!

Michelle's Labyrinth Christmas 2014 Day 25

Now I was a bit sneaky and posted a Day 26 on Facebook – well our Christmas hadn’t finished yet! We had Christmas dinner with hubbie’s parents and an aunty on Boxing Day. Do you know what Boxing Day is? Do you get the day as a Public Holiday where you are? In Australia we get the day off, so it makes Christmas extra special. I was asked last year by a friend from the US what Boxing Day was, and it was brought up again this year by another friend. Wikipedia says Boxing Day is traditionally when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas box”. But I wonder if Boxing Day also had something to do with clearing away all the boxes and wrapping paper from presents you received! What I do know is a lot of Australian males love Boxing Day because it means the first day of the Boxing Day Test (of cricket)! Early on this Boxing Day (my last day of my long Christmas!) I finished two more cakes! I made my mother-in-law the penguin cake and hubbie’s Aunty the snowmen cake.Michelle's Labyrinth Christmas 2014 Day 26

On the Twenty-third day of Christmas Michelle’s Labyrinth sent to me a decorated Gingerbread House.

On the Twenty-fourth day of Christmas Michelle’s Labyrinth sent to me a two helpful Christmas elves. [Elves made by Conny Deylen]

On the Twenty-fifth day of Christmas Michelle’s Labyrinth sent to me two Christmas Minion cakes.

On the Twenty-sixth day of Christmas Michelle’s Labyrinth sent to me two decorated Christmas Cakes for presents.

Christmas almost seems like a distant memory. We are now in the New Year and Monday is when most people will be heading back to work. I have been thinking about what I would like to accomplish this year and have been trying to clear up a lot to ensure that I am not behind compared to before Christmas! I have also been thinking about the year just gone and what I accomplished and what I didn’t get finished. 2014 seemed to be a bad year for a lot of people: whether it was illnesses, money problems or just an accumulation of a lot of things! I also thought of all the wonderful famous people we lost this year – Rik Mayall, Robin Williams, Mickey Rooney, Joe Cocker, Phillip Seymour Hoffman (too many to list really). Then I thought about how we lost 3 aeroplanes and then the Lindt café siege in Sydney. I was beginning to think about I wasn’t going to be able to think of any wonderful things that happened in 2014 – and we really need to concentrate on the good times!

But I did remember some good of 2014 – we started the year in Jersey with family. Then saw hubbie’s brother’s family in England. We travelled around beautiful green Wales! I was able to catch up with one of my oldest friend’s in London and see her 3 week old (and I just got to see her again in Perth for Christmas!). We reached some goals with our businesses and even were nominated as Champion Business of the Year! I got to make quite a few cakes and was challenged a lot and learnt a lot. I finished my Diploma in Finance and Mortgage Broking. We got to see The Doug Anthony Allstars on stage again! I didn’t think we would see Paul McDermott, Tim Ferguson and Flacco (Paul Livingstone) again and they were hilarious and naughty as always. We got to go to Barcelona and to drive around South of France! I was also very lucky and was able to acquire another Wendy Froud original sculpture and a Brian Froud original watercolour! We also got to see the Rolling Stones – which was a bit touch and go after the cancellation in March. I also became the proud owner of Sam and Dean puppets! So really, that sounds like an amazing year! And I guess I need to thank our credit card companies, our employees (referral partners and clients) and my wonderful husband to making it all possible!

So I hope you have had time to reflect on all the good things that happened in 2014 and I really wish you all an even more magical 2015 full of everything you desire! Just think of 2015 as an open book and you have 360+ days to fill it – so write a magnificent one!

Michelle's Labyrinth Christmas 2014

 

 

 

Adventure Time and Olaf

Each cake is like a new adventure for me. I usually have weeks or even months advance warning about the cake and my subconscious is often thinking up ideas. Then when I have the picture in my head it is a big adventure getting that out in real life. The day or two before the cake is finished is the fight scene of the adventure, where I battle cake mixture, work, fondant, dermatitis, food colouring and tick tock…. time! I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date! The climax is seeing the kids faces when they first see the cake.

A couple of months ago my niece Aimee rangMichelle's Labyrinth to tell me about some exciting news (she’ll hit me but I can’t remember exactly what the news was – she has done so much already this year!). Then Aimee began to tell me about her birthday cake and how it was going to be Olaf (from Frozen) and how he is going to be holding a microphone with 1D (One Direction) on it! And that the cake is going to be rainbow coloured. Then I ask her in a serious voice “So who is making this Olaf Cake?” and she says in an extremely loud excited voice “YOU ARE!”. I just laughed, how can you argue with that! The story doesn’t stop there, a month later she was over visiting and she tells me how she saw these snowflake cutters and that I need to buy them for her cake because they are awesome! I must admit that since last Christmas I really wanted some snowflake cutters… so I was secretly pleased to have an excuse to buy them! Oh, and I was also very happy to finally be able to watch Frozen! I just hadn’t had the chance yet, but I had to find out what Olaf was all about :)

My sister let me know that Aimee’s birthday party was going to be held on Friday night and that Sean’s birthday party was going to be on the Sunday (I was happy with some time in between so it was less stressful!). I asked my sister what cake Sean would like Michelle's Labyrinthand she said Adventure Time. I’m like what? So I Google Adventure Time and see this funny yellow dog and a boy/monster guy… My sister convinced me to watch a couple of episodes and said it was pretty good. So I taped (Do you still say taped! I guess the younger generations wouldn’t know what “taped” is! So I recorded…) some episodes on Foxtel in preparation.

The next time I saw Sean I asked him if there was any specific characters he wanted on his cake – especially after the specifics his sister gave me. He just shrugged and said “just Adventure Time“. However that day he was wearing a Jake beanie so that did give me some insight into who he liked! The last time I saw Sean before his birthday I asked him what flavour cake he wanted and he said fruit cake! I was so impressed! I know he has had my fruit cake when I have made my younger sister birthday cakes and also at Christmas last year, so he must have liked it! I also know that not too many people like fruit cake, so I was definitely not going to discourage him, but I suggested that I made a special layer just for him and a chocolate layer for his friends and he seemed happy with that!Michelle's Labyrinth

I had the picture of the cakes in my mind and I was ready to make them and it wasn’t until I had baked some of the cakes did I start questioning the challenge I had set myself for the Olaf cake! I had Googled as per usual and found this great video on how to make a standing Olaf cake by Ann Reardon. She made the Olaf cake look so easy and the two things I was going to change was: I was going to use fondant instead of meringue; and that he was going to hold a microphone! She’ll be right – right? So I was all prepared the Thursday night and just needed to put the cake together on Friday, but I decided to dream that the cake wasn’t ready by Aimee’s birthday party, how I had totally let her down and how I shouldn’t have thought I was capable of doing a standing Olaf cake!

During the day Olaf started takingMichelle's Labyrinth shape and I was happy with how he was looking. The 1D microphone looked great. The snowflakes (that were airbrushed with pearl and baby blue metallic paint) were looking good and I had even covered the cake board! But as I put on his head he looked a bit wonky and I just wasn’t convinced his head would stay on! I even had a massive blonde moment and had forgotten to put his mouth on! So I had to cut away at fondant and cake to make room for his mouth! I was happy with the way he was looking, but I was no way near confident that his head would stay on! So his head came off and that was the way I was going to transport him!

Transporting Olaf in two parts wasMichelle's Labyrinth the best decision I have made! He still looked good when I arrived and everyone oooh and ahhhed over him. Plus his head does come off in the movie, so it wasn’t the worst way he could look. I decided to leave his head off and maybe this was the best decision I have made, because I didn’t factor in the surroundings – the party was held at an indoor pool and it was extremely humid inside! When fondant is cold it tends to stiffen. When it’s warm it gets soft and droopy. When it’s humid, sticky. So guess what warm and humid means – soft, droopy and sticky! When it came to put Olaf’s head on for singing Happy Birthday and cutting the cake, his head almost started sagging straight away. I also got black all over my hands from touching his mouth – that should not happen! But I got his head on and the candles lit!

We sang Happy Birthday and thenMichelle's Labyrinth around twenty 11 year olds started to scream “Don’t kill Olaf!” (I left their screams in the photo for you!). But my niece has an evil streak (must be from my sister!! LOL!) and cut him… or should I say butchered! Poor Olaf now looked like a “cake wreck”… but amidst the shrieks about poor Olaf came squeals of “he’s rainbow inside!”… The cake was a success! I could breathe! But I was still shocked to see Aimee eat the 1D microphone and then the nose! That girl loves fondant! And she then told me he was the “bestest cake ever!” and one of the other girls pointed to the ribbon around the cake board and said “I really like that ribbon” – how sweet!Michelle's Labyrinth - Frozen Olaf  Cake 2

My other sister had mentioned she had watched some Adventure Time too and that there was a rainbow unicorn in it. Knowing that I love unicorns and rainbows she thought that would be cool for me to make – or maybe she wanted it on the cake! hehe The characters I had chosen to make were Finn (the only confirmed human in the Land of Ooo), Jake (the dog) and the Ice King. My cake is loosely based on a cake I found on Pinterest (I’m on Pinterest now if you would like to follow me! Click here!), so the mountains were based on the other cake, but when I was watching Adventure Time I saw purple trees with blue trunks and just knew I had to have them on the cake too!

Michelle's Labyrinth

The Adventure Time cake was going very well and then I saw this episode about Lady Rainicorn and found out that she is actually Jake’s girlfriend and not only that, but she speaks Korean! The episode was so cute, Jake has lots of fun spending time with Lady Rainicorn and separately has lots of adventures with Finn, but he really wants to have fun with both of them. So he triesMichelle's Labyrinth to spend time with both of them but Finn doesn’t understand Korean so they set out to find a translator that Jake threw into a deep lake (he forgot why he threw it in!). So they have an adventure together and Lady Rainicorn was pretty cool for a girl according to Finn and they find the translator. They fit the translator to her – but there were only 3 options on the translator – Nerdy Alien, Nightmare and Old Man. “Old Man” is the only option that actually sounds like English, but it sounds very odd having this beautiful rainicorn (Rainicorns are a species of rainbow/unicorn creatures that live in peace in the Land of Ooo!) sounding like an “Old Man”, and Finn insists on calling her “Old Man” and then Jake remembers why he threw the translator away! After seeing this cool episode I had to make Lady Rainicorn!

Michelle's Labyrinth

I was pretty happy with the way theJake Butt cake turned out – all the colours look great (I’m a bright coloured girl, not a pastel girl!)! My sister had done an amazing job decorating their house and the cake looked awesome amongst all the bright colours! The cake was a huge hit and Sean kept his Finn, Ice King and Lady Rainicorn (I do wonder if they have been nibbled on by now though!). I also took a photo of a classic game of pin the tail on the donkey altered for the Adventure Time theme for you! hehe

Not only did Sean say “awesome” when he saw the cake and when I left he thanked me again for the cake (without any prompting! Even hubbie was impressed!), but my sister told me that one of Sean’s friends came up to her saying “that is the best Jake cake ever!” – that just makes it all so worth while! Yeah the cakes aren’t perfect and I know where all the imperfections are, but I enjoy the adventure of making the cakes and then the climax is all the kids wanting this or that piece of the cake! And yes I saw Aimee eat half a purple tree – where does that fondant go! Michelle's Labyrinth

I am a very lucky sister to be able to make my niece and nephew’s cakes each year. Not only do I like the new adventure each time and the kids seem to love them, but I always get a special “lolly bag” after the parties! Its fun having naughty lollies every now and then (I do love bananas!) and this year I got a special wristband from the Love Your Sister (breast cancer organisation) – So sweet! I love my sisters!!

I cannot believe another year of niece and nephew cakes is over… and what will the cakes be next year? Will Aimee’s first suggestion of Twilight stand (she mentioned it a month before this birthday!!) or will a new interest come up? Only time will tell! See you next time after my next adventure!! Michelle's Labyrinth

 

 

 

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