Since Allie was born, I've recognized this weird creativity issue that I have. I've always been interested in crafty things like cross stitch, photo projects, knitting, etc. However I was never really aware of how freaky I get about them.
Allie's First birthday cake was all natural. She hadn't had processed sugar at all up until then and she ate only organic food (that's an issue for a whole other post). So, I did research and found this gluten free, pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting that every reviewer claimed their kid "just absolutely loved!" Not mine. She hated it. I have photos of the one bite she took and they all scream "what is this crap you're feeding me???"
So, birthday number two rolls around and I'm determined to NOT make that mistake again. By this point, she's had cake and a little bit of sugar so I figure I'll go for the gusto and make her a REAL cake. Two weeks before her birthday, I did research again and found cake pans, cake recipes, frosting recipes, food coloring products (because anyone who had a cake with red frosting as a kid KNOWS that red frosting SUCKS!), methods of cake decorating, etc. The internet and AC Moore Craft Store were my best friends.
Supplies at hand, a week before her bday, I decide a cake test run. Lets just say that those boxed cake mixes are popular for a reason. Is really freakin hard to make a fabulous tasting yellow cake. Do I use butter or oil? What kind of oil is best? It goes on and on. I learned that i can bake an edible cake, that I'm not really good at it, and it takes a lot of time in "the world of having a two year old". Fail. Boxed cake it is.
Now I'm in a panic. The homemade cake part was supposed to be easy! I start making frosting (which was yummy, thank God) and then the scientific chemistry process of creating the right Elmo red, orange and black began. I had my Wilton color gels (they make red with no taste now!), five bowls of frosting, and the mixing began. The color changes when it sits so I had to mix, wait and adjust the color accordingly. It was maddening!
I spend the next few days watching tutorials on cake decorating since I have never done it and the bags, eight metal decorating tips, special spreaders, etc were freaking me out. They were playing mind games with me and winning.
The morning of Allie's birthday I took a xanax, baked the cake, made frosting, prayed, created the colors, practiced different design techniques, prayed some more and decorated the damn thing. When i was done, I sat back and admired my work. 'Holy crap..I f$@&#?g did it.' I was exhausted, but proud of myself. I tried to ignore the errors I made and felt good about my accomplishment. When I felt nervous about whether it was going to taste good or not, I took another xanax. Enough!
Allie loved it! It was worth every second of the two weeks of self induced anxiety and stress. She was excited when she saw it, she ate some and enjoyed it, and everyone except for one person ate it all and commented on what a great job I did. Yippee!
And then I agreed to do it again four days later for a larger party. (IKnow...I Know) I'm a glutton for punishment, clearly. I bought a base cake pan and winged that part of it. Elmo was a bit of a breeze the second time around.
I learned two things. First, that there's a reason why cakes cost so much at bakeries and trust me when I say it looks WAY easier than it is. I humbly bow down to bakers everywhere. Second, I need to start working on her Third birthday cake much earlier. (I told you I was a glutton.)