Monday, June 27, 2011

It's Wedding Season! Part 1

I love weddings. June seems to be wedding month in my family - one of my younger sisters and her husband celebrated their 1st anniversary on June 12, my husband and I celebrated our 4th anniversary on June 22, and my parents celebrated their 33rd on June 24! Whoa - lots of love to celebrate . . . not to mention Father's Day, which I missed posting on because I was busy-busy baking for a wedding (more on that in a later post)!

First, a note on Father's Day. I am really blessed - I have a great dad. I think I probably take him for granted sometimes. I guess it's easy to do because I know he'll always be a strong support in everything I go through in life. He's proven it time and time again, and it's something I am so thankful for. I definitely get my love of reading from him, and my taste in books. Also, my sarcasm . . . and possibly my lack of patience, haha. It's a great feeling to know I can always call with any problem, and that I'll get honest advice and helpful advice.

Let's not forget about the father of my own boys! I have the world's greatest husband. Dusty is such a wonderful dad. He loves our boys so much and is so attentive to them. I rarely have to ask him to help out with them - he just does it . . . and he enjoys every minute (well, for the most part - there's the occasional tantrum from Asher that's not very fun, and the nights when Aiden refuses to sleep for more than an hour at a time). But, if I do ask for help with something, he never complains. He loves playing with them, and he loves cuddling them - he's the perfect mix. Asher, Aiden, and I are so very blessed to have him.

Personally, I'm thankful that there's a day honoring dads everywhere. I know it's something I should do every day, but it's nice to have a reminder so I really take the time to thank them for everything they do that I often don't remember to say on a day-to-day basis.

Ok, back to weddings.

Last summer I made my first-ever wedding cake for my sister's wedding - LOTS of pressure! Not from her, just from myself. A wedding cake? That's a big deal - everyone looks at it, take pictures of it, watches the bride and groom cut it, etc; I was honored that she and her husband trusted me to do it. I wasn't worried about taste, but I was worried about appearance because decorating isn't my strong point. I'm more of a "Who cares what it looks like as long as it tastes good" kind of girl. Needless to say, that approach doesn't work with a wedding cake. BUT, I think it was a success. They were happy with it, and that's what mattered most to me.

Looks like they're enjoying it, right?

For the cake, I used this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, courtesy of

White Cake
  • 1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix (recommended: Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe)

  • 1 1/3 cups water

  • 3 large eggs whites

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 2 teaspoons almond extract

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using an electric mixer, beat the cake mix, water, egg whites, melted butter, almond extract, and vanilla extract in a large bowl for 2 minutes, or until the batter is well blended. Pour batter evenly in greased and floured 8 inch cake pans. Bake the cakes until they are very pale golden on top, about 24 minutes. Cool cakes in the pans for ten minutes, then cool completely on a cooling rack. You can find the original recipe here, which with the raspberry cream is deeeeelicious.
    **Side note - this obviously isn't a "from scratch" cake, but the added ingredients give it great flavor, it holds up very nicely when decorating, and is super moist.

    Buttercream Frosting
    1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
    1/2 c. vegetable shortening
    4 c. powdered sugar
    1 T. vanilla extract (if you really want frosting to be as white as possible, use clear vanilla)
    1/4 tsp. butter flavoring
     1-2 T milk or cream

    Beat butter and shortening with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Slowly add in powdered sugar and flavorings and beat for 1-2 minutes on medium speed. Add the milk, and beat on medium/high speed for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. At this point, you can determine whether you want a thinner or thicker consistency and add more milk or powdered sugar to achieve what you'd like.

    Assembling the Cake
    Place one cake layer on plate or serving dish.
    Spread with 1/4 c. of seedless raspberry jam, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge.
    Mix 1/3 c. of toasted, slivered almonds with approximately 1/2 c. of frosting, and spread over jam layer.
    Place top layer of cake on the frosting.
    Frost and decorate as desired.

    Tuesday, June 07, 2011

    Parenting Is One Crazy Rollercoaster

    Well, it's been a little longer than usual between posts. We've had quite an emotional ride the past couple of weeks. Sad news for little Aiden, but complete excitement and enjoyment with how the boys have started to interact with each other. We'll start with sad. 
    Aiden went in for his 4-month appointment and our doctor told us we'd have to take him to an opthalmologist to look at his eyes. He tends to just focus with one eye at a time, and we were told that often they'll put a contact in one eye to help correct it. Putting contacts in our baby's eyes?!?! Sounded crazy to me. I can put them in my own, but a baby? We didn't even understand how that could work. Dusty's usually more of the worrier with these things, so he was absolutely dreading the appointment with the opthalmologist, but I wasn't too concerned because I assumed it would be an easy fix . . . not so much. After the doctor held a few lenses in front of Aiden's eyes, dilated them, and looked more closely at them, he said Aiden has congenital exotropia. Basically, one eye strays outward. The solution? EYE SURGERY. Since that thought never crossed either of our minds, I was surprised at how well Dusty and I kept it together while the doctor was explaining it to us (although I was tearing up big time . . . I almost lost it). We were told that nothing else can fix it and it would be detrimental to his eyesight to leave it as is. We go to the University of Iowa on June 16 to have him looked over and will get the surgery scheduled that day. Since we found out, we've had a lot of support from friends and family, and also a lot of encouragement from people who have had the surgery or know someone who has. It was rough at first because every time I looked at him he would be his smiley self, and it would break my heart thinking of what he has to go through. It's definitely one of those times when I wish I could go through it for him. But, we're staying positive knowing that it's not an uncommon surgery, and we thank God that it's nothing worse. I remind myself every day that there are a lot of parents out there who have seen their children go through much worse and my heart goes out to them. On to HAPPY!

    Asher mimics so much of what Dusty and I do, and one thing he has picked up on is how we talk to Aiden. He'll run up to him and tickle him on his tummy and Aiden laughs! It's the cutest thing. I was hoping to post a video, but Asher refuses to perform when he knows he's on camera. :) Aiden just stares at Asher and takes everything in, and Asher makes sure he includes Aiden in almost everything he does. If he's dancing to music, he'll say, "Mama Dada Mama Dada" until he gets our attention and we start dancing with him; then he runs up to Aiden and says "Aiden Aiden" and grabs his hand and swings it so he's dancing, too! When we just had one child it was great, but there is nothing I love more than watching Asher and Aiden interact as brothers. It really doesn't compare to anything else I've experienced as a parent and I am so excited to see how this bond grows and changes (I think I've said that before).

    I love how Asher's trying to hold Aiden's hand in this one