Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016

Well another year is gone. We've lost great musicians like Prince and David Bowie and actor Alan Rickman and of course John Glen and many, many more. We went through a horrible election year. The bitterness, name calling, lies, lies and more lies makes it hard to appreciate the right to vote.

On a personal note, I entered two quilts in the Ohio State Fair and one quilt got People's Choice. My parents celebrated 50 years of marriage, my husband and I celebrated our 20 year anniversary and took a vacation to Key West, Florida.

River earned a total of 46 ribbons in C-WAGS scent games and earned her Level 2 Title, Level 4 Title, Level 1 ACE Title, and Level 3 ACE Title. She also earned 2 ribbons, both first place, in barn hunting and her Open Title.

This year was a little slow on blogging but that's okay. I'm not competing with anyone. I had around 35 posts and the summer was really slow. Sorry, but I'm outside most of that time and not sitting at a computer or sewing machine so nothing really gets done.

In addition to going to Key West, Florida in October, we also saw Anthony Bourdain at the Palace theatre. We enjoy watching all of his TV shows and seeing him in person talk about his travels was fun too.

On Christmas eve, we were treated to an adult Cooper's Hawk eating his prey. He had caught a small house sparrow and decided to use the neighbor's fence as his perch to eat his meal on. We got about 7 minutes of video before he flew away but that was a sight you don't see everyday.

We also went to the Chinese Lantern Festival held at the State fairgrounds. This is the festivals first year, I think, here in Columbus and I hope it comes back next year. There were a lot of people for the space it was in which made it hard to get around. The lanterns were really well done and it was something different to go see. We had a nice evening walking around looking at all the lanterns.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Art Quilt - Grandma Part 3

In part 2, I posted a picture of the quilt with a piece of clear vinyl laid on top. I tested out various quilting designs by drawing on it with dry erase markers. Trying to figure out the quilting designs for this quilt has been rather hard. I guess the colored pencil drawings are making it hard. Do I quilt them or not?

I'm no longer debating about it. I've decided to quilt the portraits. It'll be a challenge but I think every quilt you do you should give you at least one challenge. So far I've not really had one for this particular quilt so there it is. I just hope I have enough thread colors.

I've also added a German Shepard to the quilt. Grandma really, really loved her dog and never got another shepard. She's had other dogs since then but she never talks about them, just her shepard. It's not an exact portrait of her dog but she'll love it just the same.

I've been gathering some additional quilting threads this last week and I'm going to give myself a few days of practice with them and designs I have in mind then I can start quilting.

I found a neat backing fabric on It's an ivory fabric with all the names of all 50 states. I know my grandma has been to a lot of the states if not all of them and it keeps with the Ohio theme.

Next up, quilting.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

December 7 - C-WAGS Scent League

Last night River and I went to Anything Goes for Dogs in Marysville for scent league. We did 2 searches at level 1 and 2 searches at level 3.  River did really well and Q'd in all 4 searches.

She had a little trouble on the first search but apparently a lot of dogs did. There were only 4 dogs to Q in the Level 1 search, which was really surprising giving that all of the dogs have been doing this a while. The second Level 1, went much better since all of the dogs qualified.

The next 2 searches were at Level 3, which is 3 scent hides. Most of the dogs did really well at Level 3 as well, and River completed her Level 3 ACE title.

The second night of the December scent league will be on the 21st. Below is a picture of River's Qualifying ribbons, her Title ribbon and her ACE medal. After a busy night like last night, River will sleep until about 3 pm today. A busy dog is a tired dog!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Barn Hunt - Dogwood

River and I participated in a barn hunt trial at Dogwood Agility in Ostrander, Ohio over the weekend. This was our first trial at the Senior level. River has to find 4 rats and complete the tunnel and climb requirements within 3 minute 30 seconds.

We had a great time but only qualified in one run with a time of 2:09 which also got us first place. Another dog had a time of 2:03 and got High in Class but we were the only 2 dogs to qualify. Most of the time teams run out of time. Some dogs, like mine, alert very subtly and its pretty hard to figure out if they've found a rat or not.

Even though we didn't qualify on most of the runs, we still enjoyed our weekend and it was great practice. It's a lot of work holding a barn hunt trial and we greatly appreciate all the people who volunteer to make each hunt run smoothly.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Fall CWAGS Scent League

River and I are participating in a fall CWAGS scent league held at Anything Goes for Dogs in Marysville held in September and October.

Our September trial went fairly well. The first evening, she was way too excited to search during our Level 1. She mostly just ran around and alerted to 2 boxes no where near the scent. During a level 3 search she did a perfect alert but it wasn't there and when I told her "no" she bounded 3 times across the room and tackled a small object and looked at me like, "I was just teasing it's right here!", which it was. So she was quite playful that evening. We wound up with 1 Q at Level 1 and 2 at Level 3, which she really made me work for.

The second evening of scent league, we were doing Levels 1 and 3 again. River qualified in each round earning her Level 1 ACE Title! It's a small dog paw medal on a lanyard of black with hearts and stars. She was pretty calm. So calm in fact that she seemed pretty bored with the whole thing but she got into the swing of it.

One of her level 3 searches she completed in a really good time of 1:46. You get 4 minutes to find all 3 scents so her time was great! I think she took the same amount of time to find one scent on Level 1 so she was quick.

The October scent league was on Levels 2 and 4. River Q'd in 3 of the 4 searches and she got her Level 4 Title.  We always have a good time during the scent trials and it's fun to watch other's dogs get their title or see who's finding scent the fastest.

Winter scent league will be in December and January.

Apple Cobbler

I haven't posted about any recipes at all this year or if I have they've been few and far between. I guess over the hot summer I'm just not cooking all that much or at least not making anything post worthy.

But today is different my friends. Today is about apple cobbler. My parents, especially my dad, likes pie and don't get me wrong I love pie too but I don't like making crust. My parents have that mastered but I don't make it often enough and I struggle. Besides, I don't like rolling out the dough either. So, I tend to gravitate more towards the cobbler dough. I use my Cuisinart, pulse, pulse, pulse and sprinkle it over fruit. Now, that's easy.

You can use whatever apples you have on hand. You can use all Jonathan, all Winesap or mix them. Just don't use a soft apple like a Golden Delicious. You'll wind up with mostly mush but feel free to add them into another apple. Today, I had Jonagolds and Golden Delicious. I also had about 12 cups of apples.  I have to admit I don't measure how many cups of fruit I have, I just fill my container(s).

After peeling my apples and putting them into a large bowl, I added 2C of sugar, 3 teaspoons of Apple Pie Spice from King Arthur Flour and 1 teaspoon of Vietnamese Cinnamon also from KAF and Instant Clear Jell also from KAF. If you've never used any of these products, I would urge you to go buy them. Seriously.

Coat the apples with the sugar/spices mixture throughly and let sit at least a half hour. When you're ready to put it all together make the cobble dough. I use a Cuisinart Food processor to make every easy. Just add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in first and mix this together. Then add the vanilla and the butter (in chunks) and just pulse the mixture. It should look like sand or chunky sand when you get done.

Slowly add milk to the mixture. Try to stop before it comes together as a dough. It should still be crumbly. I probably over mixed mine a little. I had to break up the bigger chunks when spreading it over the top of the apples. By the way, this one recipe makes a lot for an 8x8" square pan. You could get away with only using half if you want less dough.

Remember to take the blade out before reaching your hand into the mixture!

Sprinkle the dough over the apples. You can either bake it or freeze it! I make some small pans and give them to my parents and elderly relatives. That way they can bake them whenever they want

I baked my 8x8 foil pan at 375 for 45 minutes on a foil covered cookie sheet with foil over the tope of the cobbler. You can take the foil off after 30 minutes so the top can brown. When the cobbler is done, the top should be golden brown and you should be able to see bubbles around the edges.

I made a bunch of blackberry cobblers about 2 years ago and this is the recipe I made however, I have no idea where I got the cobbler dough recipe from. It's just what I remember.

Cobbler Dough

1.5C     AP Flour
1           Stick of Butter cubed
3/4C     Sugar
1 tsp     Baking Powder
1/2 tsp  Salt
1 tsp     Vanilla Bean Paste (or Vanilla Extract)
1/4C     Milk or Cream

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add butter and pulse after each addition. Add vanilla. You should have something that looks sandy/chunky. Slowly add the milk and pulse. When the dough looks like it's clumping, you're done!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Key West - Vacation - 20th Anniversary

My husband and I have been married for 20 years now. We got married in 1996 on October the 5th and believe me it really doesn't seem like it's been 20 years. We don't travel much. We've gone on a cruise to the Caribbean, Las Vegas, DC, Hawaii and now Key West, FL. Seems pretty sad that we've gone to 5 places in 20 years but there you have it.

I decided that our 20th should be spent somewhere else besides home. We wrestled around with a few places and decided to go to Key West. I've heard that Key West is pretty much like any other tropical island in the Caribbean but close to get to and you don't need a passport or have to live on a plane for 12 hours. Hawaii, I love you but that flight sucks. I'm glad we honeymooned there but I probably won't be going back. I can find sand elsewhere.

So we booked our anniversary week, October 1 - 7, at the Tropical Inn off of Duval in the heart of Key West.

We arrived in Key West, FL about 6 hours late due to airplane trouble in Columbus. I hate being lost in the land of airport hell as I put it but what can you do? Nothing. Flight cancellations or delays, missing connecting flights, rebooking another flight and you just hope you get where your going. It was after 9 pm when we got to the Tropical Inn and we crashed.

Key West Eco Tours

After getting an update on hurricane Matthew that was stalking the carribbean, we took off for our first excursion at Key West Eco Tours.  We signed up for a kayak/paddleboard tour of the mangroves. They came and picked us up from our hotel and drove us to Geiger Key Marina, which is about a 20 minute drive from Duval Street. You can get a kayak or paddle board and we chose a tandem kayak or the "marriage breaker" as they fondly referred to it as. I can relate. My husband and I went canoeing once in 20 years and it was a difficult challenge to say the least. But I figure if we only do it once every 20 years we should survive. So we got some basic paddling instructions and off we went. There was a father and son with us along with our guide so there was just 5 of us. Our guide, I believe her name was Jennifer but I could be wrong, was very knowledgeable about the mangroves, all the different species that live there and why they're important and conservation efforts. We paddled around for 2 hours in gorgeous weather and found several young nurse sharks, jelly fish and several different kinds of heron. We had several jet fighters take off over our heads, which was super loud and kinda of annoying for such a beautiful day.

Eco Tours also offer sailing and snorkeling trips as well as sunset sails. We're not much for snorkeling but based on our experience with KWET, we would recommend them.

The Dry Tortugas National Park

On our second day, we took a day trip out to the Dry Tortugas National Park. The national park is 90 miles west of Key West and made up of 7 small islands. Many of the small islands are turtle nesting grounds and are protected. You board the Yankee Freedom III and get ferried to Fort Jefferson. There is a guided tour of the fort or you can go it alone. The tour was roughly 1.5 hours and you're there for 4 hours so you have plenty of time to walk around or snorkel. The guide explained the history of the fort in depth explaining why its out there, how it was built, the people who lived there and how and of course it's role during the Civil War to today.

You're provided with a simple breakfast on the way out and a lunch while you're there and all the water/liquid you want. You definitely need a hat and sunscreen on this trip. We didn't take any Dramamine for this boat ride but if you're sensitive to motion take it. This is a total of 4 hours on a boat and its going left, right, up and down most of the time. Our captain had to dodge a lot of crab pots. Overall a great trip to take if you're in Key West.

Sunset Cruise

On the third day, after once again checking to see what the hurricane was up to, our last excursion we booked was in the evening. We booked a sunset sail with Danger Charters.  I tried to book with another company first but they were booked for the entire month of October in late September so make sure you book any excursions in advance. Like most people I went to TripAdvisor for reviews of what to do in Key West and all of these experiences/companies got high reviews. The sunset sail was also a wine tasting as well. I wasn't sure about that considering I usually don't want to eat/drink anything while in a plane or on a boat but it went really well. There was about 20-25 people on the sailboat and 4 crew members who were funny and engaging with everyone on board. The other travelers were also quite jovial considering going through about 30+ bottles of wine in about 2 hours. Yep, they were a really happy group of people to say the least. Skewers of meat, cheese and vegetables were also offered along with our wines and since our boat wasn't going all that fast, me and my tummy felt okay.

I would definitely recommend Danger Charters. I'm sure they do other things but I can only say that their sunset sail was great.

Key West was really a nice place to vacation to. Its warm all year, everything is in walking distance if you stay on Duval Street but you can rent bicycles, scooters or electric cars/golf cart type things although it can get really pricey to do that every day. There's a lot of gift shops, art shops and definitely food and bars... lots and lots of bars. If you like to go snorkeling or fishing I would recommend a 6 day trip but if you like indoor type activities you're going to be struggling to find a lot there.

We also went to Fort Zachary State Park where there's a beach. You do have to pay to get in but the area has a lot of trees and picnic/grill areas, a nice concession stand, shower areas and you can rent an umbrella and chairs. They can get pricy. For the day 2 chairs and an umbrella will run you $40 at least so be prepared to stay and get your money's worth.

Another beach area is the Higgs Beach and Key West Garden Club areas. Higgs beach has no shade whatsoever but the good thing is there were fewer people here and chairs/umbrella rental was about $20 so a lot cheaper than the state park area. The Key West Garden Club is all run by volunteers and there's a lot of plants there to see if you into that kind of thing.

Indoor Activities

We visited the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory on Duval Street. They have a great gift shop and a really nice conservatory with hundreds of butterflies, plants, birds and 2 flamingos. The website also has a webcam pointed at the flamingos.

We also went to the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum. Mel Fisher found the shipwreck of the Spanish ship the Atoche that was lost is 1622. He found it 1985 after looking for it for almost 20 years. It's hard trying to plan your day not knowing how large/small an exhibit is and we roughly planned for an hour here and that was way too long. Its' a fairly small exhibit, unfortunately.

There was a cannon and sets of hammers and some kitchen utensil type things and some gold and silver items. The Museum is also near the Key West Aquarium and where the cruise ship visitors disembark.

We also thought the aquarium was indoor. It is not. Its more like an open tunnel with small aquariums with fish along the outer walls so there's no air conditioning. There's 2 small pools in the center with turtles and stingrays and an outdoor area with more turtles and a roped off water area around the pier with fish and nurse sharks.

Walking around the aquarium might take you a half hour at most walking slowly. On the way out of the aquarium, there's a nature like water area with some large tarpon and turtles, which leads you to various gift shops.

We also went to the the Key West Eco Discovery Center. This is a very small exhibit that discusses the various types of environments in Florida, various animal species and shows a short 20 minute film about its coastal areas. This is a fairly small center and might take you 40 minutes to get through including watching the 20 minute film.

Our last two days in Key West were free days. We didn't plan anything since we knew there was a hurricane in the Caribbean and we weren't sure if we'd have to evacuate or not. Mostly we just walked around ducking into shops when got too hot or finding a place to eat. Most of the places we ate at were good. We didn't find anything that was horrible. Breakfast ran us around $25, lunch ran around $40 and dinner was around $80-$100 so plan accordingly.

We did find a movie theatre. Tropic Cinema  is run by volunteers and has 4 or 5 small theaters that sat about 50 people. They also let you buy alcohol by the bottle and it was air conditioned. There's also a glazed donut shop next door but they close at 3pm.

The biggest problem we encountered during out trip is when a place is open. There was a lot of shops closed for vacation or renovation during our stay and we only found out after walking several blocks to get there. Some had signs and others didn't. So you may walk 5 blocks only to get there and it's closed but the operating signs hours says it should be open. That was kinda frustrating to say the least. So be prepared.

We had a great time in Key West and hopefully this post will help someone planning on a trip.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Fading Footprints win People's Choice at the Ohio State Fair 2016

I went and picked up the two quilts I entered at the Ohio State Fair on Monday, August 8. I stood in line with about 20 other people, who were also picking up their entries. I got to the head of the line and a lady asked for my last name and I told her "Oliver."

She said, "Lisa Oliver?"

My immediately thought was, Oh God, she has to tell me a small child had somehow got a slushy through the building and was running and tripped and her bright blue no bright red slushy had landed on my quilt and its ruined! Ruined!  I dreaded confirming my name to her.

"Yes," I said hesitantly. Here it comes the big, giant shoe that was about to step out of my nightmares into reality. Remember, wait until you're in the car to cry, I told myself.

"Congratulations, your conservation quilt won People's Choice."

What? Really? No giant shoe? Awesome!

She took my claim tickets and we walked back to the table where my quilts were already bagged. I confessed I didn't really care about ribbons but I was terrified to leave my quilt. This was my first time entering anything and it was hard to leave them with others. She assured me they take good care of the items entered but accidents happen! That's why they're called accidents.

So I have to admit, winning People's Choice feels pretty good even if it didn't win the category. I put a lot of work into the quilt and I'm glad it got some recognition. A big thank you for all of those who voted.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Golden Anniversary and Fading Footprints at the State Fair

I bit the bullet and decided to enter these two quilts in the Ohio State Fair. I've never entered a quilt show before so I pretty much know next to nothing about entering. All I do know is that some are juried and some are not. The Ohio State Fair is not juried. I believe all entries are accepted until they fill their space for each class but I don't really know.

I figured, why not? I think my two quilts are fairly unique. I know my sewing isn't the greatest. Not every seam is a perfect 1/4" no matter how hard I try but considering I didn't know what a 1/4" seam was until 6 years ago, I think I'm doing pretty good.

I'm not too concerned about winning a ribbon for either of these. This is me just dipping my toe into these waters and basically saying, "See? I entered quilts to the fair and I can scratch that off my bucket list." And I didn't hyperventilate once while they were out of my possession and my control!

So if you get a chance to go to the fair, I hope you take a moment to stroll through the air conditioned Cardinal Building and see my quilts and all the others there.

Barn Hunt - Dogwood

River and I attended a barn hunt trial at Dogwood training center in Ostrander, Ohio the weekend of July 30. I believe it was their first barn hunt trial and they did a wonderful job. I know it's labor intensive with all the messy straw, building the course, making sure the rats are safe and well cared for and making sure everything runs smoothly for the competitors and they did a great job.

The first day, River and I didn't do so well. She finds the rats fairly quickly but her alert is very subtle and very quick and she wants to move on and unfortunately, I don't always know if she's found a rat so we didn't qualify either trial.

On Sunday, I was determined to get our final Q for Open and move up to Senior. I watched very closely and when River sniffed a particular area for 3 seconds I called it and found a rat. The second rat was a bit more difficult. I saw River barely scent one area and she ignored the rest and then she was standing along the gate. She was done. She had found the rat but I didn't see her do it.  So by process of elimination, I took her over to an area that I thought she checked but I couldn't even see a tube. I called her over and asked her to check it, she did and she sniffed along the top of the straw for 3 seconds and I called rat, finding the second rat.

River and I were the only team for the blind to Q. So she got a Q, First Place, Title and High in Class award and we got to move up to Senior.

The next trial, we were in Senior, which is 4 rats, 3 litter tubes and 1 clear. We had a really good run and I needed an extra 2 seconds but we timed out. I missed River finding one rat and that cost us but by the end of our 3 minutes and 30 seconds, I had found the right tube and was about to call rat for the 4th time when we timed out. Dang it! So close....

All in all it was a good weekend barn hunting. River enjoyed herself and slept for hours after we got home and she didn't want to get up on Monday morning. A hunting puppy is a tired puppy.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Summer Scent League

River and I participated in a C-WAGS Summer Scent League held at Anything Goes for Dogs in Marysville.  River has been participating in scent trials since March 2015 and has titles at levels 1-3. She needs one more leg for a Level 4 title and she's needs a few more qualifying rounds at levels 1 and 2 for her ACE titles.

We attended the scent leagues in June and July which is held two Wednesday's per month in the evening. Here's a pic of a Q ribbon. River earned a total of 14.

River has a great time searching for scent, although she usually likes to run around the room then she'll remember she's supposed to check out the objects on the floor. But in the end she usually alerts to the odor by sitting or laying down next to the right object. 

But I think she really loves it when other people pet and pay attention to her and she gets to socialize with other dogs. It definitely makes for a late evening but the part I like the most is the result. You get one sleepy puppy.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Art Quilt - Grandma Part 2

Well it's taken me forever to continue posting about this quilt. I wanted to add a wash of color to the quilt to soften the glaring white fabric but I lost my inks. I looked for several weeks and had to continue posting about my other applique quilt project in the mean time. That quilt has had a serious set back and I'm really not happy about it or with my self since it was totally my fault. Of course it was my fault! I'm the one making the darn thing.

Anyway, I still can't find my inks, so I finally broke down at the end of June and purchased the ink that I know I have lurking in my house somewhere.

I'm pleased to say that I got the ink wash on last week. It really helped to blend the colored portraits together. I also got the edges a little darker.

When applying the inks, I was trying to only blend so far into the portraits. They have white areas that I did not want to color and if the ink gets to the white area it's not going to come out and it might ruin the picture.  So I thought I did a pretty good job until I went back to see if after it dried and there's a long dried, dark line right down gram's right cheek. I don't know if you can see it in the picture or not but it's there. If I had seen it before the ink dried I could've added some more water and got the line to blend out a bit but no. I did get it to blend a little using water and that's why using these inks are challenging.


I'm not sure yet what kind of designs I'm going to use to quilt the background with. This is an unusual quilt top with the colored pencil drawings. And it's pretty hard to just draw some designs on a sheet of paper and imagine how it will look on the quilt. So, I went to JoAnn's and got a yard of clear vinyl. It was in the home fabric section and cost about $5. I laid the vinyl over the quilt and drew designs on it using a white board marker. This way I can try out various designs and actually see how it will look before I just cross my fingers and start quilting. The picture below is just a doodle with flowers, vines and the Ohio Star pattern.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Happy 50th Anniversary!

Over the weekend, our family celebrated my parents 50th Anniversary. Although I practiced making chocolate lace (previous post), I didn't have any confidence in my abilities at this point so I didn't try it. Instead, I wrapped some ribbon along the bottom of each cake tier and sprinkled it with gold colored sugar and called it done.

I also decided to try to make some flower arrangements with little puppy flowers. I bought a variety of flowers at the local grocery stone, floral foam and a little decorative box and made 2 arrangements. One for my parents and one for my grandmother because grandma's should always get their own flowers to take home.

Here's a close up of the cake. The bottom tier is yellow cake with raspberry, the center is hummingbird cake with cream cheese icing and the third is yellow cake with orange curd. Of course we had way too much cake but that's what freezers are for.

Mom got her wedding cake cutter out from June 1966, which of course we used to cut the cake 50 years later.

We couldn't have asked for a nicer day. The weather was gorgeous, dad was at the grill and the raspberry lemonade was cold. Here's to many more years to a great couple. Love you.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Practice Cake and Chocolate Lace

My parents 50th anniversary is June 18. Last year was my in-laws anniversary and we had a nice catered party with a 4 tiered cake that I worked my backside off preparing. My family on the other hand is small. Even with all the cousins we only number about 14 people and my parents don't get out and don't have any friends. I've asked my parents several times what they wanted to do for their 50th and they always say "nothing" so I haven't really planned anything.

My grandmother on the other hand is a different matter. She knows my parents want nothing for their anniversary but she doesn't believe that includes having cake and ice cream. And it got me thinking...

There's been a cake decorating technique I've wanted to try and it seems like a good opportunity to try it out and there's a cake recipe that I found that I think my parents will really like. So I thought I'd combine the two.

First the decorating technique. I found this video of Julia Usher on YouTube making what she calls chocolate lace. She does doilies and then a cake wrap using this technique. The video is for the cake wrap. Anyway, she makes a pattern on either parchment paper or food grade acetate using melted semi-sweet chocolate. Then she melts white chocolate and tints it different colors and fills in the areas making flowers or leaves. Once the chocolate cools and hardens a little, the wrap is then place around the sides of the cake then placed into the refrigerator to thoroughly harden up. Once that happens the wrap can be taken off the chocolate and the lace is now decorating the sides of the cake with the colored images are visible. I'll post my decorating efforts in another post.

Secondly, the recipe I want to try is called a Hummingbird Cake, which I found on Southern Living. Apparently, this is the one dessert recipe that is the most frequently asked for according to the SL website. It sounds pretty good and it definitely seems like something my parents would enjoy.

So, that's my plan. Make a small 3 tiered cake and make one tier a Hummingbird cake and decorate the cake sides with chocolate lace. I will have to modify the icing. Hummingbird Cake is usually frosted with a cream cheese icing but that won't set up enough for chocolate lace. So I'm going to use cream cheese icing for the inside and an Italian buttercream for the outside so it hardens nicely.

So that means I need a practice run. After all, I have no idea what this cake taste like and I never just make an unknown recipe on the day I need it.

I got all my dry ingredients together first. Then I chopped the nuts and 2 really ripe bananas and got the wet ingredients last.

The hummingbird cake was really easy to put together. I followed the recipe exactly and I was carefully not to over mix the batter.

It is a very dense, moist cake very similar to a carrot cake but with less spices. Some recipe versions call for coconut but the version I used did not.

The recipe calls for 3 - 9" pans but I only used 2 and my layers around about 1.5-2" thick. This cake does not rise a lot so keep that in mind.

I used a basic cream cheese frosting like the recipe calls for and it was very good. I didn't change the recipe at all but I think I would make a slight adjustment. I would add a bit more cinnamon to the batter. I used a good cinnamon too but it was just barely there. So I would use 1.5 teaspoons at least.

I don't have any pictures but for the other tiers, I'm just making a yellow cake and I'm going to fill the 10" tier with raspberry and the 6" with orange curd. The 8" will be the hummingbird cake. The recipe I used for the yellow cake is their Golden Vanilla Cake recipe. I followed their instructions and it came out perfect. It's a moist dense cake, not the fluffy crumbly kinda.

As for the chocolate lace, I watched the linked video of Julia Usher making her chocolate lace repeatedly. The hard part is determining how hot/cool you need the chocolate to be and how quickly you have get the wrap done before the chocolate sets up too much. If it hardens too much it won't bend around the cake. The only thing I can do is practice, practice, practice.

I've started by taking a long strip of parchment paper and drawing my designs in marker. Then when I flipped it over, you can see the design on the backside which I use as a guide to apply the melted chocolate. The chocolate is simply melted in a double boiler over low heat. The dark chocolate is quite fluid when its warm. You have to let it cool off a little before putting in a small paper cone or you'll burn your hand. Candy melts are a lot thicker when melted and don't flow very well so I'd stick with chocolate. Julie Usher has a video on YouTube regarding melting chocolate. Make sure you watch that before trying this.

After I got the dark chocolate down, then I melted white chocolate. Here's a tip: White chocolate will melt and get nice and fluid but if it gets too hot it will seize and thicken. White chocolate cannot take the same temperature as dark chocolate. I made a dark pink, dark green, light pink and light green. I filled in the center flower with my dark pink and the outer petals with light pink. I filled in the greens for the leaves giving it a pretty two toned look. You can see I've got some holes and maybe bubbles but that's why we practice. The bottom flower is the side that will show once wrapped around the cake. Pretty huh?

This wrap wasn't finished all the way simply because this was just a practice. But after filling in the pinks/greens I would fill in all around those vines with a light blue chocolate and cover the whole thing. Those vines dried quickly and would've just broke instead of bending so they'll have to be completely covered in chocolate. You can see where the chocolate was just popping off the parchment.

Also, there is no way for any one person to do this. The white chocolate will have to be melted, monitored, colored and bagged by someone else while I'm drawing the dark chocolate. The dark chocolate would cool off and harden if I have to do it myself. So this is definitely a 2 person job.

But I really like this technique and I think it's going to make for a very pretty 50th anniversary cake. More pics to come!