August 11, 2012

Photo Session

My husband and I have been so blessed by so many great friends while living in Okinawa. Living so far away from the states, you lean on each other more and friends become just as close as relatives. I miss all of them dearly.

We've been blessed by all of our friends in one way or another, but I'd like to share how one friend blessed me with her gift of photography. Svetlana stepped up to help me in the first grade Sunday school room and I got to know her more each week. She is an amazing woman! Svetlana was so sweet to offer to take photos of me with a cake so I could have a photo to place on this site. We only had about two hours for set-up, lighting adjustments and the actual photos! Not enough time at all, but Svetlana did an awseome job! Here are a few of the best photos she took in that short time.

Thank you Svetlana for beautiful photos that I can now show off on my blog! I had so much fun taking them and am so glad God gave us the opportunity to have a few hours to take them.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

April 29, 2012

Gumpaste Tissue Paper

It's been too long since I've been able to update my blog and I have several posts waiting to be written! Live has gotten a little crazy (okay a lot crazy!) after God sent our family on a different journey to move back to the states than we expected when He called us to adopt a baby boy who was due to be born on April 1st. We were not due to leave Okinawa until May 5th giving me plenty of time to finish up cake orders and have the full month of April to shop, eat, pack and visit with friends. I remembered all the craziness from our move to Japan and knew what to do to avoid it. Well, God allowed me to plan all that, but it wasn't what He had in store for us!

In late February (as in the very last week), we were asked by our adoption agency, Bethany Christian Services, if we would be willing to be the adoptive parents of a newborn baby boy who was due to arrive April 1st. There were two other families the agency was considering before us, but we said we were willing if they were not. A week later, we recieved word that we would be this baby boys parents. It honestly was not a shock to either of us! We both looked at all that needed to happen to get me to Florida two month earlier than planned and knew this had God written all over it and He wanted to show us how big and possible He can make things! We jumped in and chose to trust and follow, that was the only thing we could do! So our adventure began as every single plan we had changed.

David was actually born early on March 22, exactly three weeks from the day we were told he would be ours! Getting through all those steps to execute an international move in three weeks and bring our baby boy home took precidence over writing. Needless to say, I've been a little busy! It's been an amazing journey and it is simply awesome to see what God has done for us from getting me quickly off the island, providing space in the one kennel facility on-base in Okinawa for our dog to stay at for almost 4 weeks on short notice, providing us with a brand new house that is in the process of being built and will be ready no later than the date our household goods will arrive from Japan (that all took place in 3 days!!!), opening the hearts of family to allow David and I to stay with them for over a month and providing tickets and the way for my husband to fly off the ship during a deployment and get back to Okinawa to fly on the same flight as me all the way to Florida. There is no impossible with our God!

Leaving Okinawa was a whirlwind and a very emotional adventure. I wasn't expecting to have to say good-bye to all my friends and close to 100 children I taught at church so soon. Some I will see again, but in most cases, our paths will more than likely not cross again until Heaven. It was exciting to share with everyone that God was giving us our first baby after waiting for 4 years, but it was still hard to then inform them I was leaving and not returning. A hard concept for many of the four and five year olds I taught to understand. 

Before I left, I was busy packing up things in our house to leave less work for my husband to do by himself when he returned and was also finishing several cake orders. I finished off my cake adventures in Okinawa on a high note, the best way! This last cake is a personal best for me in quality and skill. I got to repeat the concept of a gift box cake, but in a very girlie, fun way. This cake was for a diva themed baby shower and is my absolute favorite cake so far!

My favorite element on this cake is the tissue paper coming out of the box. It's such a neat feature and couldn't be easier to accomplish!

Gumpaste Tissue Paper...

This is the second time I've gotten to add this element to a cake and it is just as easy and effective as the first time! The key is to start three to five days in advance (or even earlier) and make more pieces than you think you need. It is neccessary to break apart the dried pieces to fit into your designated opening and just when you think you are done, there always seem to be hidden gaps that need to be filled!

Before starting, it's best to prep your cookie sheets to dry the pieces on. Take a piece of cling wrap that is about 3 inches longer than your cookie sheet and set it on the sheet loosely. I prep at least two cookie sheets for an eight or ten inch cake.

Now we're ready to roll out the gumpaste. My pasta machine works great for this step! Before rolling the gumpaste through the machine, it does need to be rolled to about and eighth of an inch thick allowing it to roll smoothly through without jamming up the rollers. Color the gumpaste before starting this. I preferred to keep mine white for this project.

Rolling the gumpaste through the pasta machine is the easiest and quickest way to achieve a consistant, realistic end-product. I roll mine through three or four times until the gumpaste is the thickness I want. Use the machine just like you would for pasta, starting on the thickest setting and going down one notch at a time to ge the desired thickenss. This step can certainly be accomplished by hand with a rolling pin, the process will just take longer. 

Do be sure to clean your pasta machine well, wiping the rollers from the bottom with a damp paper towel. Turn the rollers on and shove the paper towel up into the rollers, sliding it back and forth until all the gumpaste is removed. Do the same thing with a dry paper towel to remove all the moisture. Never clean the machine from the top with the rollers on!

Lay the rolled gumpaste out on a surface to cut. Use a pizza cutter to cut smaller pieces of "tissue paper" from this long piece. I cut mine into wide rectangles.

With your pieces cut, it's time to add realism to them! Place one piece at a time onto the cling wrap lined cookie sheet and crinkle both the pice of gumpast and the cling wrap. This couldn't be easier as there is no right or wrong way for the finished product to look! You just don't want flat pieces of tissue paper.  

Set the cookie sheets in a safe place to dry for at least three days and then add to your cake using royal icing in the same color as your gumpaste to adhere them to the cake. I find it neccessary to break apart the pieces to get a more realistic look and fit them in securely. Don't forget to look for any gaps!