My sweet sweet baby girl turned 3 years old yesterday!!! I can't believe it!!
Time is FLYING by right now!!! People tell me all the time, "It happens so fast!!" - and I'm really really starting to believe it. Especially when I look at my almost 9 year old with her beautiful face, amazing heart and sweet spirit and think..."Are you really almost nine!" - I just had you!!! LOL!
My Harper Joy is my sweet, crazy, strong, passionate, incredibly smart, sassy, independent and did I say passionate baby girl! :) A friend told me that she is our explanation point at the end of our family! - which is fitting since I love to use exclamation points!!!!!! LOL! She loves loves loves to sing, dance and perform!! Right now, Tinkerbell, Strawberry Shortcake and Rapunzel are her favorite "girlfriends"! Yes..all three totally different girly cartoons, but she loves them all!! She does have a favorite though...she really really likes Rapunzel and singing, "And at last I see the light, and it's like the fog has lifted..." It's so funny...I wish you all could hear her in her little 3 year old voice!!!
Check out this personality!! :) She's ALL me...and all mine!! :)
My dad says she's my "mini-me"...I think he's right!
Check out this personality!! :) She's ALL me...and all mine!! :)
My dad says she's my "mini-me"...I think he's right!
|Photo by: Jamie Zanotti Photography|
Me on the other hand...being the busy mom that I am decided I didn't want to make a Tangled cake with a big tower and lots of details or have to sculpt Rapunzel and Flynn Rider in some precarious position on a boat with all that hair!!! :)
So, after telling her I was going to buy her whatever she wanted if she agreed to having a Strawberry Shortcake party, she said, "STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE!!"
LOL! - I'm totally kidding about bribbing her! - but I did wait a day (because 3 years olds have the shortest attention span ever!) and then talked to her in my sweet sales-mama voice and said, "Wouldn't it be fun to have a really cute, pink and yummy strawberry shortcake party with delicious strawberries and lots of chocolate (Those just so happen to be two of her favorite things!! If you're a girl, and part of my family, you're born with a passion for strawberries and chocolate)!?!?!" - to which she said, "YES!" Perfection!!
So, Strawberry Shortcake here we come!!
I wanted to do a Strawberry Shortcake cake (there are too many "cake" words in this post already! Sorry!) in a different way...but I needed it to be simple and yet stylish and fun for my sassy girl! I didn't have a lot of time this past week to do much due to my new Craftsy class launching (Simply Modern Cake Design). So I needed to stick with designs I'm familiar with and techniques I've done in the past. And, because Strawberry's tights are green and white striped, I knew the main cake would be my signature horizontal striped cake!!
Then, I decided to do a hat...Strawberry's hat on top of the striped tier!! It's so cute and so "Strawberry Shortcake" - it's her "signature piece"! I also thought it would be really fun to have it suspended like it was on a hat stand. A fun fashionista way of doing a Strawberry Shortcake hat.
It turned out really cute and my sweet, now 3 year old, got a BIG smile on her face when I showed it to her all done and said, "Look, it's Strawberry Shortcake's hat!!" It was priceless!! Another camera opportunity missed! Isn't that always the case!!
Now, I did have a good mess up I wanted to share with you in case you try and make a hat on a hat stand!! Don't just randomly cut the post the length you think it should be without sticking the completed hat up there to check!!!! I did that and when I anchored the post in and it dried, and I put the hat on, it was way to high for me!! Whoops! Too late now!! Good thing it's just for my baby girl!
Remember all you sweet cake makers out there!! - measure twice, cut once!! :) So, to compensate, I put the strawberry "3" sign up on top of the cake instead of in front of the cake on the pink stripe where I had designed it to be. Having it sit up on top of the cake filled in some of the extra space there and made it look a wee bit better.
It all worked out though!!
So, now I can just see your wheels turning, "How'd she do that?!" And because I love to share my tips and tricks with you, I'm going to show you...and even show you a simple little video I took of it all so it's a bit clearer!!
Here's how I started the hat...sorry...this is one of only 3 in progress pictures I took! Too much going on and I was moving too fast to take pics. It's SO much harder to work on a cake now that I have a 3 year old!!! :) - and a 6 year old that wants to eat everything and an 8 year old that wants to eat everything!! Haha! The joys of making cakes with kids...sugar highs!!!
Got to love the little Strawberry Shortcake inspiration piece!! :) - everyone needs one. You have to have what you are copying in front of you...it just makes life SO much easier!!
For the hat, I found a 3/4" wooden dowel and a 1" wooden ball that I hot glue-gunned to the top of the wooden dowel. I think these balls are used for feet under little pieces of wooden furniture because they have a flat bottom to them. I found them in the woodworking section of Micheal's (a local craft/hobby store).
I also grabbed some foam core and put a 7/8" hole it in...just slightly smaller than the ball. I put the ball on the counter, covered it with saran wrap and placed the foam core "donut" on top of it so the ball showed through and stuck up in the middle of it. Then, I mounded a big mountain of rice crispy treats on there and with greasy hands, molded the rice crispy treats to look like Strawberry's hat on the foam core, on top of the wooden ball. When I was done, I chilled it down, then ganached it with two coatings in order to get a nice smooth coating (below).
I love working with rice crispy treats! Here are a few more posts on how to use them for your next cake project: How to make tires, How to make a truck, How to make a fruit platter.
Here's the bottom tier...the last of my "in progress" pictures! :) It's an 8" round x 4" high cake. I used my ymmmmmy chocolate mudcake recipe found HERE. If you haven't taken my "Clean & Simple Cake Design" class with Craftsy I show you how to get a beautifully perfect finish on your ganache or buttercream and then how to get a beautifully perfect finish on your fondant no matter if it's a square or round cake...promise! - It's simple!! :)
Okay, so back to the hat!!
After the ganache, then I popped the ball out from the bottom of the cake by pulling on the saran wrap...so, make sure you cover it in saran wrap or you may not be able to get that ball out of there! :) Then I glued the ball onto the dowel (that I prematurely cut early! - don't do that!).
Here's a little video so you can see what in the world I'm talking about and how I attached the dowel and how the hat fit on there!!! I basically cored out a hole in the cake, added a good amount of melted chocolate and inserted the dowel and let it dry/set. Like I say in the video, you should put the cake on a wood board and screw the dowel into the bottom of the board, but I wasn't traveling anywhere or moving the cake anywhere so I didn't need that extra stability - and I wanted it on this white cake stand to save me the time of creating a board and covering it with fondant and ribbon! :)
Look at how high up that hat is!! Makes me crazy!! :) haha!! :)
Then, basically you just have to cover the dowel with some fondant, and I add a little white pearl border to the bottom where it goes into the cake to hide the hole there. Pretty simple! :)
Now, for the bill.
After I had the cake covered (because you can make this cake a few days ahead of time because it's just rice crispies and they keep nicely for a while) I took some cardstock and started sketching out a bill. I kept tweaking the curve of the bill and the curve of the hat until I had something I liked. Then, I used that as my template and cut it out of modeling chocolate. I covered one of our baseball hats with saran wrap and laid it on top of the bill and let it rest overnight until it took on the curved shape of a hat. I used melted chocolate to attach the bill then added the white stripe around the bottom last to hide the seam. Simple!!
So, there you go...that's how I made my sweet baby girl a Strawberry Shortcake Cake Hat for her birthday!! :) That's a mouthful!!!! I hope that makes sense!! :) I thought it was a pretty clever way to mount a hat. I just loved how it was totally secure there, but I could shift it around a bit if I wanted it a certain direction due to it sitting on a ball!! Now, of course, this technique can only be used for rice crispy treat creations because they won't fall through the ball/dowel combo!! So, don't try this with real cake...you'll want to look at THIS post for that.
Oh, and by the way, all the decorations on this cake were made of modeling chocolate...the love of my life...after my Jesus, my husband, my kids, my family, my Bible and my draw string pants! :) LOL!!
Now, before I close out, there is one more thing I wanted to share with whoever wants to listen!! :) It's regarding being a mom...and trying to balance a hobby.
Yes...a potential touchy and difficult subject, but one that is on my heart BIG time right now!! - especially after having freshly done a cake while balancing it all.
If you haven't read Sally Clakson's book, "The Mission of Motherhood", you should get it!! It's a powerful, amazing book on the Lord's desire for us moms and the incredibly huge calling He has placed on our lives. He has given us a mission...and one to be taken so so seriously. For me, it was the first time I was incredibly inspired to WANT to be the mom HE has called me to be.
I finally saw motherhood with a purpose, a calling, a privilege, and as a mission!
I was raised by an incredible mom who was an amazing example of a woman who loves God. But, now that I'm a mom, I struggle with balancing life and all the distractions of this life because there are FAR more distractions today than even 15-20 years ago!
Since my crazy, sassy, smart Harper was born, three kids really REALLY tipped my scale and put me in a rough season of not sleeping and being overwhelmed. It got really easy for me to forget WHY I'm a mom and what my role is in motherhood because I got lost in changing diapers, settling arguments, playing tea, reading books, cleaning, making dinner, loads of laundry and school work. I started thinking about the glory days of work...having a "real" job and having people value me and I started to look around to find "my thing"...something that I could find satisfaction in.
I got distracted. Something the enemy LOVES! My eyes started to look around, and not stay fixed on Jesus and what HE has called me to.
The Lord knows my heart's desires is to honor Him and walk with Him. I love Him so much and am so thankful I am saved by grace and am anchored to Him. He has held me fast in so many areas of my life and I have given Him so many areas of my life.
Yet, the enemy knows that too. He knows He only has a little window of wiggle room with me...He knows the only way to keep me from growing, from spending time knowing Jesus, from walking by the Spirit, from being used in a powerful way and from feeling loved, appreciated, known and forgiven is if I get distracted...if I take on too much...if I get tired...if I take my eyes off the call He has given me! - even if it's for a moment.
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world and against
the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
Truly, the only way to knock me down, to knock any of us down, the only way to render me ineffective is to distract me. And it totally works!! I'm easily, easily distracted and distraction is the death of victory....look at the Tortoise and the Hare! :) Slow, steady and focused wins the race every time! :)
The sad part is when we are distracted and busy, we start to get resentful. We start to resent the things that keep us from our distractions. I started to resent my kids and all the time they took up in my life!! How crazy selfish is that!! :( We start to let the REAL priorities slip and our hearts get lead away and enticed...and then we become stressed, sad, lonely, depressed, empty and angry because we are looking to broken cisterns to fill us when the Living Water wants to.
"My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me, the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water."
Sin is ugly...and sin is real...and Satan wants it to infect our lives until we are ineffective and are dried up and wasted away.
Now, enter Sally Clarkson.
She gave me a vision. She showed me God's vision for me as a mom and the incredibly powerful role I have in the lives of my kids. I went to her conference one week after I got home from filming my first Craftsy class last year and knew I needed to change things in my home. I wanted more...I wanted better for my kids...I wanted to know I ran the race and I finished strong and I would get the end with no regrets!! I wanted to know that I could enjoy my kids in 10-15 years like Sally was, and have a real, beautiful, solid, loving relationship with them. I wanted what God had for me..."Anything"! (another incredibly powerful book by Jennie Allen).
And for me, my "anything" was pouring into my kids. It was to be the BEST mom I could be to the three gifts God has entrusted to me for the next 10-15 years! That's all I got...only 10-15 years!!! That is SUCH a short season! We can do anything for a season!
I "get to" give my kids a secure, loving home. I "get to" teach my kids about Jesus. I "get to" use rebellion and selfishness in my kids as opportunities to teach them how to be loving, selfless people. I "get to" look in their eyes when they tell me a story to show them how important they are. I "get to" touch their hearts, rub their backs, sing to them, hold them, build up their lives with good and right and beautiful things so that they will want to lead lives filled with good, right and beautiful things.
What goes in comes out. It applies to kids too! The way I treat my kids is the way they will learn to treat others!! I "get to" influence their lives forever! I get to show them love...true love...
"Love is patient, love is kind,
It does not envy, it does not boast,
It is not proud. It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails..."
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
How am I going to show my kids Jesus unless I treat them with the love they deserve...with the love HE wants them to know?! It starts with me.
That is greater than any distraction I could find. Being able to build up my kids, to mold their lives, to teach them and train them and then to see the fruit of that labor is better than anything life has to offer. My joy OVERFLOWS when I see my little ones doing things in loving ways, when they hold hands, when they give their toy away to make someone else happy, when they sit and read to each other, and when they pray together. NOTHING in this world compares to that...nothing. And, I was willing to miss it...to work on a cake, to check Facebook, to read another fantasy book, to go out another night and stay up too late with friends. I was distracted! I'm not saying those things are bad! - I still make a cake from time to time, I still check Facebook and read books!! But, is that my focus...is that what I'm thinking about all day long?!
My kids are not the distraction...everything else is.
The most amazing thing that has happened to me too is I have become a better person...a more whole and complete person. I want to be the woman my girls want to grow up to be. I want to be an example of the type of woman my son wants to marry someday. I want to be the love of my husband's life so my kids see beautiful love in our home and have a sense of stability and a solid foundation. And all that takes work, a huge amount of sacrifice and time spent doing the right kind of things.
Here's a quote from Sally's book that spoke to my heart:
"As a younger woman, I struggled with many of the scriptures referring to a woman's role in life. But the more I have lived, the more I have come to appreciate the beauty and wisdom of my God-given assignment. As a free-spirited person who generally thinks outside the box, I have found deep fulfillment and satisfaction in exercising my gifts, strengths, and personality to bless my family, neighbors, and friends from the strength of my home. Establishing my household as a place in which the greatness of God and a devotion to Him is lived out each day as given me focus. Loving my children and nurturing their hearts and minds while training their characters and leading them to know the Lord and His purposes has satisfied my soul's need for purpose."
That's what we all look for...purpose, satisfaction and fulfillment. I agree with Sally. Since I've focused on purposing in my heart to follow the Lord, to fall in love with Him more and to be the best mom I can be who is truly into my kids, into loving on them, guiding them, teaching them, training them and being with them, I have found amazing fulfillment and joy! And, the fantastic part of all this is my kids! They are quickly becoming these beautiful, wonderful, happy, loving people. No, they are not perfect, but the more time and love and attention and teaching I give them, the more they want to honor and love me back and the happier and more fulfilled everyone is!!
The Lord fulfills His promises!! I just have to walk in them, keep my head down, stay focused and love on my sweet kiddos so that they will know how much Jesus loves them.
Because if I don't, who will?!
I feel like God gave me Harper as my little conscious! She is an attention baby! OH my goodness her love language is time with mama and lots of love and did I say time with mama!! If I forsake her too much and get distracted, she'll eventually have some real real bad days. Don't get me wrong, she plays on her own, plays with her siblings, etc...but when mama is distracted, it shows up in her strong personality. She'll get angrier, feistier, more aggressive and less touchy-feely with me. It's crazy!!! But the more I invest in her, love her, teach her, train her, involve her in what I'm doing, she is the sweetest, happiest kid in the neighborhood.
At first I didn't understand that and was totally frustrated by her personality. But, now that I've stopped being so distracted and I've actually LOOKED at my kids and spent more time with them, it's so obvious. That's her love language. I was just missing it and in turn, my home was a mess and so was my then 2 year old!! :) So, it's like the Lord gave me some accountability by giving her to me...that way I wouldn't get too far away!!
Thank you Jesus! Thank you for Harper...for that crazy sweet amazing little girl that keeps my heart in my home...lest I'm the one having the fit and laying down to cry like a 2 year old!! :)
The more I've gotten rid of the distractions, the happier and more fulfilled I am and the happier my kids are. I found a purpose, a mission, a priority that is greater than anything and I feel so inspired. I want you to be inspired! Being a mom is the most amazing, fulfilling, hardest, brutal task out there, but the pain we feel is death...the death of our flesh...and the Lord promises to bring new life out of that old yucky flesh. I want a new beautiful life with no regrets!! - and I want that for my kids. I want them to see me struggle through it so that they can see life can be hard, but God is good and beautiful things will be a'coming, so look out!! I want them to have a real relationship with Him that lasts their whole life but it always starts with me first...showing them how.
NOW, that's not to say you can't have a hobby!! :) - what did Sally say up there? "I have found deep fulfillment and satisfaction in exercising my gifts, strengths, and personality to bless my family, neighbors, and friends from the strength of my home."
The Lord gives us our strengths, gifts, skills and personality to bless our home!! - not ourselves! :) So, when we use our gifts to bless our family, kids, neighbors and friends as it fits into our home, it IS a blessing and we are blessed by it and so is our home. That's one reason I haven't made cakes a business. I want my kids to be my business. Cakes are just an incredible gift that I get to give to others and get to use to teach my kids how to use their gifts/skills to bless others.
The way I know to take on a project is if there is peace in my home and if both my husband and I agree to it together as a team. Then, if after I've done a project, everything is still okay, then that was good!!? But, if I am picking up the pieces from my kids, my husband and my home, if the kids are crazy and having bad days, then that's not worth a cake project!! So, for me, it's taken time to figure out what I'm capable of...and how big the projects can be and what my family is okay with. You can't do more than one or two things really really well...and I'm realizing motherhood is one of those two things!! LOL!!!
Now, for you moms who might have older kids and feel like you might have missed your window...you haven't!!! God is the God of second chances and He longs to help you start afresh today! You become the woman He wants you to be and you get on your knees and pray for your kids. Show them kindness and love...for that leads to repentance. Make those changes and you will see fruit. It might take a season, but God's promises fail not. They are new every morning for great is HIS faithfulness...not ours...His! :) Don't be discouraged...that's the enemy. Fight for your kids, simplify your lives and just LOVE love love on those precious kids and you'll see a turn around.
So, to sum up...I challenge you moms out there to be inspired to see your children as these special, beautiful flowers that you get to cultivate, that you get to grow, nurture, train and love. And in due season, you will reap a beautiful garden of fulfillment, joy and peace that is greater than anything any other distraction can give you!!
Look at your kids today...put down your tools, your hobbies, your phone, your computers and see what the Lord has placed in front of you. They are crying out for your love, attention, guidance and warmth. You will never regret giving up everything for them when you start to treat them like they are everything to you! :)
With all my love!