Personal ponderings from a natural night-owl!

Posts tagged ‘Birthday’

Happy Birthday!

I’d like to wish my blog, Midnight Musings, a very happy 5th birthday! Five is auspicious – this digital child of mine is a whole hand old now and frankly no one is more surprised at its staying power than I!  I’d like to sincerely thank my husband John Schinker for encouraging me to give this blogging thing a try way back in January of 2007. I never imagined so many people would read my words or care about what I had to say. So I’d also like to thank YOU, my readers, for breathing life into this site by reading, sharing, and commenting. I am truly flattered and honored by your attention.

Now that I’m a mother, I find curiously amusing the tradition of giving presents to the child on the day when the child did nothing and the mother did all the work. Really, its our MOTHERS who deserve presents on our birthdays! Since the only present my blog really wants is more posts and more readers, I decided long ago to give you, my readers, a gift for my blog’s birthday, but you do have to work for it just a little bit.

So here’s the deal: in 2011, all my blog posts had one deliberate thing in common. You have 5 days (until midnight my time on Sunday, January 8th) to email me at dschinker at gmail dot com and tell me exactly how I deliberately tied all my 2011 blog posts together. Anyone who answers correctly VIA EMAIL (no spoilers in the comments please – I will just delete them!) will be entered into a random drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card! You get a bonus entry into the drawing if you also tell me which post did not strictly conform to the pattern. I believe I have only 5 faithful readers, and John is exempt from winning, so your chances are pretty darn good!

Hey, you can even get your friends into the deal by telling them about this contest. Even if they aren’t a regular blog reader of mine, all my 2011 posts are there for perusal. I don’t do ads, giveaways, or product endorsements on my blog (okay, there was one a long time ago – but it was sincere!), so you know this is no gimmick to drive up readership or anything. *bats eyelashes innocently* (Hey – didn’t I tell you that the MOM deserves a present on the child’s birthday, too?)

While you are waiting for the answer and contest results to be announced here on this post in the comments on Monday, January 9th, you can check out the 2011 annual report for this blog that the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared. Don’t those fireworks kinda look like candles? (-:

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,800 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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How to Make a Unicorn

Every year for the past 10 years, I have spent the day before the girls’ birthday party creating their requested custom cake.  This carries on an important family tradition handed down both from John’s side of the family and mine.

In John’s family, it all started with the bear in the wagon – the traditional first birthday cake for all John’s siblings and cousins that took 4 boxes of cake mix and three people working all day to accomplish.  On my side of the family, the most famous and remembered cake was the doll cake, with an actual doll IN the cake and the cake as her large, old-fashioned hoop dress.

For me, the annual cake odyssey has become a welcomed challenge.  No two cakes are ever the same and they are all custom designed and made, so I know no child will ever have a cake like my kids have!  Past years’ cakes have included Caillou, Dora and Backpack, Blue from Blue’s Clues, Elmo, Bert & Ernie, Pocahontas, a 3-D lamb, a 3-D barn with barnyard and silo, and the unforgettable Amazon bowling cake.

This year, I decided to document what goes into making one of my custom cakes!  I start with the kids’ request and an idea.  Sometimes, there is a Wilton cake pan for their request, which makes things much easier.  Usually there isn’t, so I go from scratch.  This year, a unicorn was requested.  It was to be white with a blue mane and tail and a pink horn (my children have very definite ideas about their cakes!).  This clip art I found online made the perfect pattern.

Unicorn Cake

Next, I cut the cake into the shape I need.  I started with two 9×13 cakes, blew the clip art up to the size I needed, then cut around the paper.  Easy!  (The lines have nothing to do with anything – they are lines from the cooling racks when I turned the cakes out and righgt side up again!)

Where the paper ran off the cake, I cut pieces to create what I needed (like for the mane and head).  I made my unicorn a bit fatter than the picture to waste less cake and feed more people.  I also had trouble with the curvy tail, so I just made it straight.  There are no rules, so sometimes you have to make things up as you go along!

Unicorn Cake_0001

Next comes what’s called a “crumb coat” of frosting.  This is a thin, easily spread layer which seals in the crumbs and binds the various pieces of cake together into a whole.

Unicorn Cake_0002

After the crumb coat, I start the decorating.  I start with the smallest color or area first – in this case the blue mane, tail, and hooves.  I also add some piped detail to show the legs, body, nose, and eye.

Unicorn Cake_0003

Next comes the l-o-n-g part – piping white stars onto the body.  It took 6 bags of frosting to cover the white areas alone!  I made 12 cups of frosting altogether for this cake.  In this picture, the stars are only half piped.  I used Wilton tip #21 and the cake is sitting on a full sheet cake board, so that gives you an idea of the size!

Unicorn Cake_0004

When the cake was fully piped, it was time to add the unicorn horn.  I took a waffle ice cream cone and stuffed it full of cake.  Then I iced it with thinned buttercream colored pink, sprinkled it with pink sugar, an shoved it into the cake, keeping my fingers crossed that it would stay.  So far, so good!  I added some pink detailing to the ear to pull in more of the pink color.

Unicorn Cake_0005

And finally, I added the words, piped in more thinned pink frosting.

Unicorn Cake_0006

Happy birthday to my two quickly growing-up girls!

Unicorn Cake_0007

Happy Birthday to ME!

Yes, this is a momentous date because I was born on this date in 1969.  </trumpet fanfare>  And please, when I say I’m 39 this year, DON’T ask me, “How many times?” like someone did at work last week!  I have lived a good full life in my 39 years and don’t intend to wish any of them away any time soon.

Ok…maybe I do wish that all those great years didn’t show on my face.  For years, people would tell me how young I looked and how, someday, I’d appreciate looking so much younger than I was.  It was annoying then and now – even more annoying to discover that they were RIGHT!  I wish people mistook me for someone younger these days.  Advice to all grocery store clerks:  make someone’s day by carding them when they buy alcohol, even if they are nearly twice the legal age and don’t look like they need to be carded.

Take a look at what life was like way back in 1969, according to Wikipedia!  There were, of course, some interesting musical happenings that year, too.

And don’t pay any mind to my husband this week when claims to be SO much younger.  His turn is coming just 8 short days!

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