Love and Support for Maddie Mae

Sunday, June 28, 2015

I must say that it is rare that I post things like this, so you should know how special and important I find this wonderful family.  I worked with a lady by the name of Becky several years ago, and we became Facebook friends a while back. About a month ago, I read the unimaginable in my Facebook news feed.  Becky's daughter, Stacy, was killed in a head on collision when a drunk driver crossed the center line.  I cannot imagine how you deal with something like that.  She was 29 years old, mother of two, and had her whole life ahead of her.  

And as if the story could get worse, Becky's two grandchildren were also involved in this tragic wreck. Gage, age 2, is now home from the hospital, but Maddie, age 11 months, is still there, with a broken neck and months of therapy ahead of her. 

This is sweet Maddie Mae at a happier time.  


And here she is with her beautiful mother, who is surely watching over her now. 


And here is my friend, Becky, holding sweet Maddie Mae at the hospital.  It was the first time she was able to hold her following the wreck.  As you can see, Maddie is in a halo to stabilize her neck.  



My heart aches for this family- partly because I know them, and partly because I see that little girl and I just see my sweet baby Lexi.  But for the grace of God, that could be any of us in their position. 

I reached out to Becky to find out more and see if there was anything we could do.  She agreed to let me share their story here and asked for your prayers.  If just one person sees this and sends up a special prayer for Maddie and her family, then I think we've accomplished something worthwhile.  

Count your blessings each and every day.  Life is short and fleeting at best.  Prayers for Maddie and her wonderful family, please.  You can follow Maddie's story and get updates on her progress on the special Facebook page they created for her.  

How to Make a Giant Cupcake

Saturday, June 27, 2015

For Lexi's first birthday this year, we decided to make her a giant cupcake for her birthday cake.  A cupcake for my little cuppy-cake- perfect!  But not just any cupcake would do.  We wanted to make a super mega cupcake.  

As it turned out, it wasn't as hard to create as I would have initially thought but there were definitely a few steps in the process, so I thought I would share how you can create your own too.   


First off, you will have to have a giant cupcake pan to create the form.  We ordered ours on Amazon, and it arrived two days later (can I get a hooray for Amazon Prime?!?!) 

In any case, once you have your pan, you will need to spray it with cooking spray REALLY GOOD. If any part of your cake sticks it will be very hard to make your cupcake look right again. 


I like to use the Pam for Baking Spray for projects like this.  It has a tad bit of flour already in the spray.



Make your cake batter and pour it evenly into the two halves of this pan.  

HINT: We used a box cake mix because this cake wasn't really to be eaten.  We knew our Lexi would be tearing into it and making a mess with it.  We learned the hard way that this pan actually took a LOT of batter to fill it.  We ended up mixing up 2 box mixes to make this cake.  If you use just a regular amount of cake batter, your cupcake may be on the smaller side, but it will still have the same shape and appearance.  It's completely up to you!


Ta da!!  This is how your baked cake will look just out of the oven.  If you do use extra batter, it will definitely take longer to bake, so keep a close eye on it and check it for doneness often. 


Flip it out of the pan after about 10 minutes and let it cool on a cooling rack.  


You will have to trim the two halves of your cupcake to make it level on both sides so it sits evenly together.  Using a bread knife, trim away the excess until both parts have a flat surface.


Your cupcake should now fit together like this.  But you are far from done.  The decorating of the cupcake is the BEST part!  Though it does require some precision. 


To begin decorating your cupcake, first decide on the color of your frosting.  I whipped up a simple buttercream frosting, and chose to leave the bottom part white, but colored the top part pink and aqua.  

You will begin by icing the bottom part of your cupcake first.  For this step, I used a cake turntable to make this process A LOT easier.  It's not required, but it certainly does help.  Either way, you will need to turn the bottom of your cupcake upside down to ice it, as seen below.  

Start by layering on a goodly amount of frosting evenly onto the bottom part of your cupcake.  To achieve the "crimped cupcake wrapper" look, I used a small frosting knife and simply dragged it gently up the side of the cupcake, leaving a track where the knife traveled.  Repeat this step all the way around the cupcake. 

Then add a small amount of icing to the top (bottom) of the cupcake. This will help keep your cupcake from moving once you flip it back upright again. 



When you are finished icing the bottom part of the cupcake, you are ready to flip it over.  Place a cake plate or board on the top of it, grasping it gently but firmly with one hand on top and one hand under the turntable.  Then flip!  While a little nerve-racking, this step is really pretty simple, I assure you.  

HINT: Make sure whatever you place on top of your cake at this point to flip it is what you want your cake resting on once it's done.  It will be very difficult to move a fully iced cake to something else once you are finished. 


Once you are all flipped back upright, it's time to ice the center of the cake.  Give it a good layer of icing.  You see here, the edges aren't perfect at this point.  That's no problem.  You will be decorating over that part soon!


It's time now to add the top and really get down to business!  Notice, I'm still working from my turntable here.  It really does make the icing go a lot smoother, especially the top part. 


At this point, I added food color to some of my icing to make a large pink batch and a small aqua batch. Of course, choose your own colors and mix up as many or as few as you like to complete your cupcake.   

Start by carefully plopping down a good amount of icing on the top part of the cake.  Use your frosting knife to smooth it on symmetrically as you gently turn your turntable. leaving you with a nice swirly cupcake pattern on top.

It's really starting to look like a cupcake now! 


The rest is all icing on the cake- LITERALLY.  I used my aqua icing in an icing bag to cover the seam where the two halves came together.  I also piped my remaining pink icing around the base of the cupcake.  I finished by adding sprinkles and oversized daisy confetti. 


So, there it is, folks.  A labor of love.  It was actually a lot of fun making for Lexi, and I was really happy with the finished product.  


To give you a perspective on the size of this cupcake, here's our little cupcake sitting with it.  Notice, I topped it with a cherry right at the end.  


And from the looks of things, I would say Babydoll enjoyed her cupcake too!  Aaahhh, one birthday down, many many many more to go!



And I leave you with a wonderful gem that I found when researching how to make this creation. Cupcake Jemma is a wonderfully talented and very British (one of the reasons I love her) young lady with her own You Tube channel dedicated to baking (mostly cupcakes).  Check her out on You Tube for all sorts of recipes and helpful baking hints!  

Louisville, KY - Girls' Weekend 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015

Not sure if you know the whole story behind Girls' Weekend, but it's just an opportunity for all three Harris Sisters to get together in the same place for a few days each year sans husbands and kids. And no matter the destination (somewhere new each year), it always proves to be fun.


We just wrapped up this year's Girls' Weekend, which was in Louisville, Kentucky.


We stayed in a beautiful loft in downtown Louisville. It was in a converted glassworks building and had an industrial feel (exposed pipes, concrete floors). But at the same time, it had beautiful old brick walls, vaulted ceilings, beautiful chandeliers, and gorgeous chippy doors hung in the hallways. So the best of both worlds really.




The location was perfect for us because we were centrally located to many fun activities. The first night we were there, we opted to take our own walking tour of downtown. It's always fun to explore the downtown areas of cities!

Of course, we happened upon many things while we were out and about, including quite a few of the painted horses from the 2015 Gallopalooza Exhibit.





And some super schmancy cars at the 21C Hotel, including one jewel encrusted limo and one disco ball convertible:



The 21C Hotel is part hotel and part museum. One of their current exhibitions is a giant gold replica of Michelangelo's David. (They change out their exhibits periodically, so there's no telling what you might see in this location when you visit.)


On the way back to the loft, we passed by the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.




The next morning was probably one of the most memorable parts of the whole trip. Misty and I had seen this location on our road trip in and knew that it was a only quick 10 minute drive from the loft. The three of us made a special trip there to investigate.


Of course, when we got to 1737 E Frankfurt Avenue, we had no idea what we had happened upon. Was it an antique store? (Well, if it was, it wasn't open yet. And believe us, we couldn't resist knocking on the oversized Marley's Ghost doorknockers mounted on the doors!)





Was it a museum? (There was no sign to indicate anything other than the address.) So, we did what anyone would do today, we Googled the address and found out that we had arrived at Jerry's Junk - a must-see Louisville attraction!





And let me tell you, it was spectacular! If you are ever in Louisville, THIS is the thing you must go to see. It is like a real life Seek and Find.




We snapped 100s of photos and still probably didn't capture everything that is there BUT while we were snapping photos a nice older gentleman drove up with his brother and asked if we saw anything that we couldn't live without.

After a brief conversation, we figured out that we were talking to the owner, Jerry Lotz!



He and his brother were kind enough to take us around to all of the junk and point out many pieces and tell us how Jerry had acquired it. And would you believe that when we jokingly mentioned that they needed to get Mike and Frank (from American Pickers) down to Louisville to pick their stash, they answered "Oh, they've already been here and did a show with us!" (Sure enough, you can check it out for yourself, Jerry was featured on Season 2, Episode 20 The Emu Chase. (Jerry's part starts around 22:30.)



He sent us on our way with some of our very own junk that had been picked by Jerry himself!

Later that same day, we had reservations at Sisters Tea Parlor.


Of course, they encourage you to dress for the occasion and to don hats and gloves for lunch. We certainly gave it our best effort!







They serve individual pots of tea and either a two-tiered or three-tiered tray of tea sandwiches, savories, sweets, scones, and lemon curd. This was a very unique experience and we would recommend.




That night, we scheduled a horse-drawn carriage ride around downtown Louisville. There was a nice breeze in the air, which was a welcomed change from the heat we'd experienced earlier in the day.


We had the pleasure of riding with a pup as our navigator and she did a great job of making sure that none of the other horse-drawn carriages passed us while we were out and about. (We think she thought we were racing the other horses!)


And finally, after a morning of poking around at the flea market the next day, we squeezed in a quick movie and then got ready for The Main Event . . . literally. 


We had purchased tickets to see one of our favorite childhood bands. New Kids on the Block are touring with Nelly and TLC this summer in The Main Event tour. They performed at the KFC Yum Center which was only a couple of blocks from our loft. All three groups were great!




So, that's about it. We sure did squeeze in a lot of activities into 2 1/2 days. And it was a lot of fun as always!