Friday, September 7, 2012

The Yellow Lego Birthday Cake

My kids always have very specific ideas of what they want their birthday cakes to look like.  You may remember the tie dye peace sign cake of earlier in the year.  This time it was Tom Thumb's turn and he requested a yellow Lego cake.  Here was the inspiration that he provided:
And of course the cake had to be chocolate.  Chocolate cakes are such a pain in the you know what to decorate because you always have brown crumbs trying to sneak into your frosting.  Anyway--- if you're looking to create a Lego cake of your very own, here is how I did it.

First, I baked a 9X13 cake using a mix and following the directions.  After the cake was done, I popped it out and cut it down into a smaller rectangle and reserved the leftover pieces.  I used a foil covered upside down cookie sheet as my work surface.

Next, I made a double batch of buttercream frosting following the Wilton recipe
To get the correct shade of Lego yellow, I used about 1 1/2 tubes of yellow gel food coloring with a few extra squirts of red.  It took quite a bit of trial and error to get the color just right.
Then, I free hand cut circles for the top of the cake from the reserved cake.  

This is the one change I would make in the future if I ever made this cake again.  My sister in the past has made a similar cake, but made a separate batch of muffins and cut off the muffin tops and used the muffin bottoms to make the circles.  I was trying to make it easier on myself by skipping the muffin making step, but it ended up just being harder.  I neglected to remember that as soon as you cut into the cake there are crumbs.  Crumbs, crumbs, and more crumbs!  Chocolaty crumbs that want to jump into my frosting!  In the case of the muffin bottoms, you have a mostly crusty baked exterior to work with; thus, less crumbs.  The moral of the story --- make yourself a batch of muffins for the circles.  You'll be happy that you did.  

Even with my error in judgment, I managed to pull it together.  Some crumbs got in the frosting.  Whatcha gonna do?
This is a cake and not a box so it did not look like a perfectly smooth and rectangular Lego.  I probably could have gotten a smoother exterior with fondant, but I am not a fan of the taste. I'm going to wait until the baking world comes up with a better tasting fondant before I give up my buttercream.  Needless to say, it wasn't perfect so my star tip came to the rescue to hide some of my mistakes, and I wrote the Lego logo with a small round tip on the top of each circle.

Happy 5th birthday to my little Lego maniac!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Morning and evening routines for the kids

We have always had a bit of a struggle at our house getting out the door in the morning.  For the last year or so, I have gone to the gym around 6 A.M. and returned home around 7:20.  The first bell at the kids' school rings at 8:35.  You would think an hour would be plenty of time for my two to get ready to go.  On the contrary...

Most days I would get home and find them both still in their pajamas, playing games on the computer, and having not eaten breakfast yet while my dear husband was in the shower.  I then struggled to tear them away from whatever important task they were doing on and nudged them downstairs to the breakfast table.  I made them breakfast and proceeded to make lunches while they ate as slowly as humanly possible.  Red has always been fairly independent about getting dressed.  Tom Thumb is not.  A 20 minute ordeal would then ensue with him insisting that I take off his clothes and dress him with me pleading with him to take off his pajamas.  Tom Thumb and socks have always been the bane of my existence.  The kid just hates socks.  After finally shoving him into his clothes, we would rush out the door and just barely make it to school on time.

The evenings weren't much better.  I always would start at 7 P.M. (well, most days) to get them ready for an 8 P.M. bedtime, but something always seemed to go wrong.  A half a bottle of shower gel would get dumped into the bath tub.  A child couldn't find a pair of clean underwear.  Tom Thumb would demand that I not wash him and then scream when I did.  Red would decide that 7:59 was the perfect time to dump every toy she owned on to the floor.

Flash forward to this week.  I decided that we had to do something different.  HAD TO.  I just couldn't take what was happening one more second.  So with the kids' help, I typed up their morning and evening routines.  The result--- a complete turn around in terms of how things are going.  The Cobbler and I agreed that there would be no TV or computer time until every task was completed on the list in the morning and it has worked so far.  Tom Thumb has required some extra reminders and assistance (those darn socks are still getting me), but Red has been going it on her own.  The evening routine is going even better!  After dinner last night, I said, "Okay guys, go do your lists" and they both ran off to get them done.  I couldn't believe it!  Will it still be happening like this in a few days?  I don't know.  Geez I hope so, but for now I will take my sanity any way I can get it.  

In case you can't read the routines in the photo above, here's a list of what the kids and I came up with:

Morning Routine
Put on your clothes.
Eat your breakfast and vitamin.
Brush your teeth.
Brush your hair.
Make your bed.
Pack your backpack.

Evening Routine
Finish your homework.
Tidy up your room.
Take a bath.
Put on your pajamas.
Brush and floss your teeth.
Pick out tomorrow’s outfit.
Go to sleep.

I also started packing their lunches and snacks for the next day the night before.  Just that makes my morning so much easier!

What do you do in your house for routines?  Do you have any tips that streamline your day?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Welcome back to school!

Red and Tom Thumb hug themselves on the first day of school, not each other.

No blogging = one crazy summer.  Unfortunately, I spent a lot of the summer trying to get them to keep their hands to themselves.  Judging from the above photo, I may have succeeded a little too well.

Today was Tom Thumb's first day of school ever.  He is in kindergarten!  Believe it or not, today was like Christmas morning for the little guy.  He was so excited to go to school.  I hope that enthusiasm stays with him throughout the school year.

Here are some more first day photos:

I've already had a couple of moms who still have kids at home ask me what I'm going to do with myself with both kids in school.  I assured them that I will find something....I will definitely find something.

Happy first day to all those starting school everywhere!