Sunday, June 26, 2011

Star Wars AT-AT Walker Birthday Cake

This is the AT-AT Walker from the movie, "The Empire Strikes Back". Camden got a toy of this for Christmas and has literally played with it every day since then. Of course he knew months ago that he wanted to have a Star Wars theme for his 8th birthday party, and he wanted me to make an AT-AT Walker cake. What he really wanted was for me to make a cake that looked exactly like his toy, and while I am sure it is possible, I made the executive decision not to go down that road. Instead, I opted for making a cake in the shape of an AT-AT Walker by piecing it together from 3 sheet cakes.

I could have made this work using two sheet cakes, but Camden wanted both lemon cake and chocolate cake, so three it had to be. I ended up with quite a bit of cake scraps left over, but I suppose cake scraps don't have to be a bad thing!

Using his toy for a model, this is what I cut out.

I then used a rather large star tip, and simply piped the entire thing with grey frosting. It proved a little tricky in some spots, but wasn't too bad over all. My mother helped with the piping which was great because my poor old hand isn't what it use to be when it comes to all those little piped stars.

Here is the end result. I was going to do some detailing with some darker grey frosting, but Camden wanted it left the way it was. He pulled some guns off his AT-AT Walker toy and added them to the cake, and then positioned some Star Wars figures around it.

Camden told me after his party was over that this cake was his favorite cake that I'd ever made him. I love making special birthday cakes for the boys. I have so many good memories from cakes that my mother made for me growing up, so I hope my boys will, too.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Camden's Star Wars Birthday Party

Camden's birthday fell on Father's Day this year, and what with all the Cherry Festival excitement that weekend, we held off on having a party until this weekend. Since Camden was turning eight, he got to invite 8 guests, so we mailed out invitations and got to our planning. The theme, of course, was Star wars.

I found a great idea on the Internet to make light sabers out of pool noodles. My mom ended up doing most of the work on those and they came out just great. The boys loved them!

The party started with a bang, with a light saber frenzy on the front lawn.

Riley found a new best friend in Camden's buddy, Race

Riley got so wrapped up in all of the attention he was getting, he just decided he was one of the boys and joined right in the party

Camden requested an AT-AT Walker cake, and he declared this evening that it was his favorite birthday cake ever. Phew!

The boys eating cake and ice cream

Steve arranged for a bounce house to be delivered, and we totally lucked out when the bounce house people asked if they could deliver it a day early, free of charge. So, the boys had been bouncing for hours upon hours when this picture was taken. See that lump on the lawn, on the left of this picture? That's Riley - - he passed out cold after everyone left. The poor old pup was partied out. Camden had a great day!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Smitten Kitchen's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

For Father's Day, I made this cake for my dad, found at Smitten Kitchen. My dad loves peanut butter, and so I thought this would be the perfect cake for him. The recipe did not disappoint ~ it produces a super-moist, rich, delicious cake. Usually, I am not a fan of 'from scratch' cakes, because I find it difficult to come across many recipes that result in a moist cake. I find absolutely nothing wrong with cake mixes, in fact, I prefer them. However, this particular cake is so perfect in every way, it has been placed on a recipe card and added to my recipe box, where only my favorite recipes go. If you know someone who loves peanut butter, or more specifically, peanut butter and chocolate, give this cake a will be happy you did!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Camden Turns Eight

How did this happen? How is it possible that this sweet baby boy is now eight years old? I just cannot figure out how the time has flown by so quickly.

Camden's day started with presents, and despite some technical difficulties, Steve was able to join in via Skype, which was great. The rest of the day was spent at home - - we never left the house - - because the boys literally spent all day in the living room, playing with the aircraft carrier from Nana and Papa that Camden coveted for months, and the new Lego set from Uncle Kevin, Aunt Rachel, and Violet. Dinner was tacos, at Camden's request, followed by cupcakes. Camden declared it "an awesome day".

I'm pretty sure I'm incapable of summing up how much Steve and I love this little guy ~ he is a unique and wonderful little boy, with a huge, tender heart. He makes us proud every day, and we love being his mom and dad. Happy birthday, buddy!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cherry Festival Round-Up

The boys and I really tore it up at the Cherry Festival this year. We set aside one day for games, one for rides, one for the Children's Parade, and then the last day for the Great Cherry Bake-Off and the "big" parade. The boys won first place in the bike division of the children's parade on Friday, which earned them a spot in the big parade on Saturday. It was a really fun experience for them - - Camden loved waving to the crowd along the parade route! I had a great time at the bake-off! I hadn't participated in three years and I'm really glad I did it this year. I won first place in the muffins/breads division, first place in the desserts division, and third place overall. Now I guess I'd better start thinking about next year. We missed Steve a lot the past few days, and I think we are all glad he'll get to go with us, next year.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

AT-AT Still Life

Camden loves his AT-AT Walker, his Papa, and drawing. So, he announced the other morning that he was going to 'go over to Papa's house' so they could sketch pictures of his AT-AT Walker. I'm pretty sure this picture will be one of my favorites, for years to come.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Agony of Defeat

I'm pretty sure this photo will become a family classic. Not exactly a clear picture, as it was taken through the screen of the boys' pup tent. As you can see, this was Griffin's reaction to Camden winning a game of Chutes and Ladders. I guess this means Griffin has officially entered the "I don't like losing" phase. Ha!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sleepin' Hard

My boys have been doing some heavy-duty sleeping these days. They are really enjoying their summer vacation and being outside...all that fresh air leads to nice, long solid nights of sleep. As I type, their 8:00 a.m. wake-up time is looming, so I must go rustle some little guys out of bed!

Friday, June 10, 2011


Meet Gary.

Meet Junior.

A few days ago, we welcomed two new family members, in the form of hermit crabs. The boys' cousin got some hermit crabs for his birthday recently, and they've been begging for their own ever since. I'll admit right up front that I wasn't thrilled about the idea, but I figured it was a better choice at this age than say a guinea pig or a hamster. So, off to the pet store I went. Hermit crabs themselves are very inexpensive, but all of their paraphernalia sure isn't. I sure was happy when I found the $30 aquarium that we'd seen at the fancy-pants pet store, for a mere $2.75 at our local thrift store. Score!

This picture cracks me up because the boys like to sit in front of the 'crabitat' (as we like to call it) and watch it like a television. I'll have you know that they also do this when they listen to the radio. Don't ask me why ~ I have absolutely no clue.

Now that Gary (Cam's crab) and Junior (Griff's crab) have been here for a few days, I have to say that I'm pretty fond of them. They are interesting little creatures, and they can live up to 10 years if cared for properly. Much to my delight, the boys are doing a great job taking care of them.

Here are a few things we've learned so far:

~ Crabs aren't too exciting when left to their own devices. They pretty much dig a hole in the sand and stay there all day long.

~ If removed from their little crabitat, however, they will crawl, crawl, crawl all over you.

~ If we set Gary down on the carpeting, he grabs on for dear life and won't let go of it.

~Hermit crabs eat just about anything.

~ They don't like to be alone and are happier when they have other little crab friends nearby.

~ They like their environment to be hot and humid. I find myself obsessing over the humidity level in their aquarium, and I think I check their little humidity gauge about a zillion times per day. Like I need something else to obsess about. Ha!

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Start of Summer

Shall we play catch-up? I feel as though I've been slugging through time lately ~ the weather hasn't been great, I'm deployment-weary, and darn it, I have just been in such a slump for the past couple of months. I can't stand it when I feel like that. Trying very hard to pull myself out and get on with it.

When I uploaded the pictures off my camera, I had over 200 if that tells you anything. Pretty much the entire month of May. So lets get to it:

I have a full-fledged reader on my hands now. Camden's been reading all year, but all of a sudden it all just clicked for him, and he can't devour chapter books fast enough. I love finding him in different places throughout the house, engrossed in a book.

Camden had to wear a heart monitor for a few days ~ seems he is prone to whatever it is that causes a person to faint. His little heart is just fine, but I have to say it was a bit bizarre having him hooked up to all those wires. He thought it was about the coolest thing ever, of course.

Griffin played soccer for the first time, and tore up the field. He just loved it and cannot wait to play again in the fall

Camden played soccer too, and did a great job. His favorite position is goalie, and he spent just about every game, begging to be put in goal.

The boys went all-out for me on Mother's Day, making it the best one since I've become a mother! We just had the best day together

One evening, Camden found some morel mushrooms growing around his swing set, of all places. Apparently, they are often found growing in bark mulch. Weird.

My basil plants are flourishing, despite the cold weather. Today I'll be making my second batch of pesto. Yum!

Griff finished his first year of preschool. He learned so much this year!

Gramma and Grampa Arnett's Idaho visit came to an end

Cub Scouts wrapped up for the summer

Camden (with his beloved Miss Gurney) finished second grade, and is now officially a third grader. The poor kid was worn out on the last day of school after a long week ~ his grandparents leaving that Monday, and then having to say goodbye to Miss Gurney on Friday, poor boy.

I finally joined The Farmgirl Sisterhood ~ call me a nerd if you must, but it satisfies the Laura Ingalls Wilder in me. So there.

We observed Memorial Day

And we started getting serious about our summer ice cream eating. Now, if the weather would just cooperate! It was only 54 degrees yesterday, but in a couple more days, the weatherman claims it will reach 80. Here's hoping!

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