Saturday, September 28, 2013

Oh, The Joy! Free Leather!

ZeroLandfill Seattle - finally!

The day I've been waiting for! At last. I barely slept last night, I was so excited. I'd cleared my schedule so I'd have the morning free, made plans to meet with my daughter, Sarah, and prayed to the Scavenger Gods On High to have plenty of leather samples for one and all (but mostly for me). I have plans, you see. I want to make more handmade leather purses, and free is good.

I drove through a ferocious rainstorm and joined a long line. Sarah came a few minutes later, dripping wet. We stood in line, waiting for 11:00 with the others, all of us comparing what we hoped to find at the event: buttons, fabrics, paper, tiles. Sarah said she wasn't sure what she wanted for her middle-school class (she's a teacher), but that she'd know it when she saw it. I said I wanted leather. And more leather.

"Leather?" said the lady in front of me, "Hey! I saw these gorgeous purses on the website that someone made last year! Did you see those?"

"Um..." I said, trying to seem modest when really, I'm not. "Those were mine!"

"Seriously? Cool! I loved them." The lady promised to call out "Leather!" if she saw any - If I'd call out "Buttons!" for her. We made a deal, laughing.

Then another lady, a perky-looking artistic type, admitted she was looking for leather also.

Oh, oh. Not good.

"You're looking for the same thing? Hah!" said the Button Lady's husband, grinning, "No fighting, now. Remember to be civil, Ladies!"

The line began moving. We shuffled forward, dragging bags and roll-on suitcases and backpacks in which to stow our loot. I hoped I'd brought enough: a Costco bag, one of those big green-and yellowish ones; two Amazon shipping bags from two years ago, when they were shipping items in large brown waxed paper bags in the Seattle area as a marketing experiment; and a coated plastic bag that I'd been awarded from Smithsonian for being a good customer. It ought to be enough.

"Look," said Sarah, "there's no place to put full bags!"

Last year, there'd been space to stow loot instead of having to man-handle it all over the room. "Mmm," I said, already picturing myself man-handling heavy bags all over the room. Not a nice picture.

The line moved nearer the entry. "It's each of us on our own, like last year," I said to Sarah as we moved into the gymnasium. "Meet up in an hour?" She looked at me over her shoulder, nodding. Then she was gone, toward the far wall where stones and tiles were laid out.

It was a free-for-all. I pawed through box after box full of textile samples of all descriptions...on a mission...for leather! Nothing would do but the real thing! None of that wretched vinyl stuff. I'd find a piece of leather - score! - and another one! - score! - and throw them into my bag before anyone else could get their hot little hands on them. A couple dozen four-by-four inch pieces, reds, browns, blacks, grays, all clipped together, fresh from some business's showroom caught my eye. Score! Into my Costco bag it went. I snatched and grabbed and pawed through stuff with the best of them.

What hard work, searching for free leather! My heart was beating too fast. I was dizzy from bending over. I was overloaded from crowds and noise (music blasting over the sound system...why?) and from raw excitement. And I was rapidly becoming too hot. Maybe an hour had passed? I checked my watch. But no, only twenty minutes had passed. Amazing. I pushed my current box aside and grabbed another. Leather! There had to be leather in there somewhere!

"Evelyn?" A light touch on my arm.

I took my nose out of the box I was scouring, having a hard time focusing. It was the woman I'd met last week at the TV show taping, the very nice one whose name I never quite caught, the one who I'd photographed standing next to the weird-but-wonderful dress.

"I have something for you..." she said.

It was an entire bag full of leather samples. I could have hugged her, I was so touched.

Sarah found me eventually. She lugged three of my (full) bags to her car, braving the rain. Her trunk was already full of stone pieces, she informed me, lovely rocks and granite samples that would make an amazing pathway in her backyard. She glowed with happiness and potential.

We left. If there were any more leather samples in those boxes, they would have to be gathered up by someone else - the other leather lady, perhaps.

Sarah and I regrouped over lunch, a lovely meal at a favorite cafe, the Volunteer Park Cafe in Seattle. We agreed we'd been much better scavengers this time around - not gathering everything that caught our eye, but being careful to take things we'd actually use. We hoped.

 At the Cafe, after the ZeroLandfill event. We're tired, but happy.

After lunch, I hefted all four of my goody bags into the house, braving the rain again. I sat down on the couch and pulled them to me. And then, I spent the next two hours as happy as anything, pulling out each piece of leather one at a time and exclaiming over it - and it seems like I like the red pieces best, because they elicited the loudest admiration. The best part? Digging through the surprise bag of leather that my friend from the TV show had gathered for me. I must have sounded like a child opening birthday presents!

Sorting leather, as Linky the cat watches

I figured it was a couple hundred dollars worth of leather samples. The stuff is expensive - I'd purchased a bit of it from ebay last year and had been shocked at how much it cost.

So now - I get to admire my leather, and dream of new projects. My idea of heaven...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Purses Have Their Fifteen Minutes of Fame


ZeroLandfill Seattle was invited to air a five-minute slot on the New Day Northwest show on KING 5 TV in Seattle, Washington. The chairwoman of ZeroLandfill, Julie Lin, invited me to showcase the handmade leather purses I made from the recycled materials I gathered at last year's event. Here are my impressions of this morning's TV interview.

My Leather Bags were invited to the "New Day" show on Sept 24, 2013

I went downtown to the KING 5 studio at 9:00 this morning, as requested, and parked in the guest lot across the street. Where I sat in my car, agonizing over which of my leather purses to bring into the studio - someone had mentioned "a couple" - which usually means two, right? But how could I choose two of the four? I'd gone ahead and thrown all four into the car with me, wanting to delay choosing until the last moment. Unfortunately, putting off the decision didn't make it any easier.  Which two purses were my favorites? Which would look best on screen? Maybe I ought to take the one that would stand up on its own, or perhaps it would be better to take the one that had a recognizable shape on it (a guitar)? Would the colorful one be better, or would the black-and-white one stand out more? Agggh! Too many variables.

What the heck. I'd take all four of them and let them decide which ones they wanted. 

I shoved the three smaller purses into the biggest one (the guitar bag) and headed across the street, where a friendly security guard named Toby let me into the building. I checked in, gave them my car license, then admired the fountain in the middle of the lobby where water cascaded over a series of flat gray discs.

Me, with Julie and Hazel, before the show

Julie and Hazel (the co-directors of ZeroLandfill Seattle) met me and took me up a wide flight of stairs, through a spiffy-looking cafeteria, down a long dark hallway, and to the backstage area of the studio. There were interesting things all around: a rack of colorful clothing, paraphernalia from past shows, little vases with fake flowers, shelves of knick-knacky things, a roll of netting...and this:

A dress made of recycled materials that was featured recently on "Project Runway"

The dress was magnificent. It was weirdly odd, certainly, probably unwearable, and scratchy-looking too - but magnificent just the same.  I couldn't take my eyes off it, so I asked this nice lady to pose next to it, for scale.

The next thing I knew, a man - the stage manager? - went over to an eight-foot table and busied himself in arranging the recycled items that Julie and Hazel had brought for the show. I moseyed on over, watching him. Then I confidently put three of my purses (THREE of them! And no-one said anything!) on the table and he worked them into the display. I kept the guitar bag, because Julie said they might do a "spot" interview of me during the show, and I ought to have something to hold up and talk about.

The third purse is still under the others in this picture, an issue that was soon rectified.

The other guest of the show, Mary Wright, arrived just then. She is a volunteer sixth-grade art teacher. Last year, her class made these wonderful critters with the recycled goods she collected at the ZeroLandfill event last year (the same event where I scored all the leather samples.)

The delightful critters, made by sixth-graders.

A voice came over the loudspeaker: "Five minutes to air! Five minute warning!" The four of us were ushered into the studio, where a low bank of risers with folding chairs arranged on them faced the set. I was given a seat in the front row, next to the critter lady. We were both pretty excited, but we didn't have time to get nervous because things were happening pretty quickly. Another stage manager (I guess that's what she was?) led the audience in proper clapping technique. "Not quick enough!" she said, "as soon as that light flashes, you have to clap those hands together as if your lives depend on it! Come on! Faster! Faster! You're the slowest audience ever!" Everyone laughed. She had us practice until we got it right.

"Two minutes!"

Cameras rolled out into the space between the audience (which was only about 30 people strong, mostly women) and the set. And a roving camera that was aimed at us.  And a camera on a long, long, long boom. And then a lady came and had me put a mic up under my shirt to clip onto my collar. "Turn your cell phone off," she said, "all the way off. Thanks. It can interfere with these mics." She grinned. "Plan on saying about two lines of dialogue about your work, okay?" And then she was gone.

Almost ready to start

The show seemed to fly by in a flash. Brian Boitano, the Olympic Figure Skater, demonstrated a recipe from his new cook book. Simon Doonan, fashion insider, talked about fashion. And then, it was my turn! The cameras landed on me, and I said my two lines. Something along the lines of: "I went to the ZeroLandfill Event and there were so many beautiful pieces of leather, such lovely colors and textures, and they just BEGGED me to make something out of them - and here is what I made." I held up the guitar bag, smiling. Thirty seconds worth of a "spot" interview. And then it was over.

Me and my bag, and Mary with her critters, in the studio audience after the taping.

1. Everyone was so nice: the anchor lady, Brian Boitano, Simon Doonan, the security guard, the stage hands.
2. There are actually people who go to these tapings every single day...who knew? They make a career of it, apparently. The stage hands knew the names of several of the ladies in the audience. One regular audience member wears fun, flashy clothes to catch the anchor lady's attention - it seems to be part of what everyone expects. (Although the stage hand did very nicely ask the lady to turn of the purple flashing light in her plastic ring!)
3. There was an empty seat in the audience, so they pressed security guard Toby into sitting in it for the taping. (He didn't seem all that happy about it.)
4. The show gave out two free tickets to a screening of that new James Gandolfini movie to everyone in the audience.
5. We all got sample plates of the treat that Brian Boitano made on the show. I made sure to bring one home to share with Richard.

Now it's all over. It was a fun morning, something that I'll remember for a long, long time.

Edited to add: My good friend and duet partner Mark Francis found this video of the interview on the KING 5 website. Thank you Mark!
Click here to see the Video of the ZeroLandfill segment - and me!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Leather Purse Project Update

I Haven't Forgotten My Project.

I've been busy lately. What with wedding cakes...anniversary parties...beautiful new cover art for my newest novel...working on marketing my previous novel...writing a short story...disruptive bathroom remodels - I've still managed to steal time here and there to work on the handmade leather purse I began almost exactly a month ago.

I'm happy to say that the back panel is now complete. I love the color scheme - I'm at a loss to say which color scheme I like better, this one, in turquoise and olive and gray; or the original colors of browns and brick reds. To someone who loves color, they're both beautiful.

The Second Panel

Detail of The First Panel

Next Job: The Side Panel, Bottom, And Strap

My original thinking was to do these parts in crocheted circles, just like the front and back panels, but now I'm not so sure. I may lay out strips of black and see how they look...but whatever I do must tie the whole thing together and be right. Probably I'll end up doing it several times to get exactly what I want.

Interview on TV: I've Had An Exciting Invitation

My leather purses have caught the attention of someone important, it seems. Yesterday, the producer of a TV morning magazine show (King5 New Day, airing on Tuesday September 24th at 11:00) contacted me and asked if I would allow one of my purses to be highlighted on the show. When I stopped hyperventilating, I said I'd love to. (In what world would I say no?) The show is giving Richard and me free tickets, and we'll be in the studio audience. We're pretty excited!

My work, and maybe a quick glimpse of me, will be seen as part of a five-minute segment the program is running on ZeroLandfill Seattle (an amazing organization that up-cycles industry cast-offs).  If you recall from an earlier post, I got my first batch of recycled leather at the ZeroLandfill event a year ago - the incredible pieces that started the whole thing.

This year's ZeroLandfill event will be September 28th and 29th, at Miller Community Center in Seattle. You can bet I'll be there! I already have tickets. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Cover for "Inn on the Edge"

It's perfect. 
I love it. The cover artist has captured the feel of the book.  I'm thrilled!

Coming Soon From Ellora's Cave

A brief blurb...

Angela Taylor and her brand-new husband, Josh, have just arrived at their honeymoon destination: a sexy bed-and-breakfast Inn that the entire internet is talking about...the Inn on the Edge.

But everything isn't as it seems at the Inn.  The lessons that come free with the room aren't for learning to paint or for photographing the beautiful coastal scenery - the lessons are for, ahem, better sex.  And the Guides that work at the Inn aren't there to look pretty, they are there to teach the lessons.  Angie and Josh are surprised - and titillated. After talking it over, they immerse themselves in everything the Inn has to offer. 

But it all goes wrong when they discover that the old geezer running the place is a sex demon and that he's been stealing their sexual energy.  Worse, he thinks he is in love with Angie and may or may not have plans for her - plans involving an heirloom wedding ring. It soon becomes obvious that he's dangerous and that he has no intention of letting her or Josh go.

Can Angie and Josh escape the Inn on the Edge?  Will they free themselves, the Guides, and the other guests?  And if they do, will their sex lives ever be the same?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Confessions of a Bashful Erotica Writer

The First Confession: 

At first I found it very hard to tell people I write Erotica. Sometimes, I still do.

"I, um, write stuff that's know...hey! Look! It's starting to rain!"

For months I'd been agonizing: should I come out of the bedroom (so to speak) to my extended family about my new incarnation as a published writer of explicit erotica? Or should I keep it to myself, knowing that there may be some uncomfortable moments because much of my family is quite religious? My husband (decidedly not religious) has been supportive all along of my writing, no matter what form it took. He's read everything I've ever written, offering spot-on editorial advice. He was the first to tell me my erotica was hotter than hot. But he was my husband, my best friend...he would accept me no matter what I did.

That left the rest of the world. Who to tell? When to tell them? A hard decision, to be sure.

On one hand, I want the entire world to know what I'm doing. I've always been like that - I adore talking about my creative endeavors.  I love sharing the things I'm working on with family and friends, even the occasional stranger. When my Art Jewelry business was running full swing, I was always dragging out a necklace or bracelet or earrings to show people even when they didn't necessarily want me to...handmade pieces such as the silver bracelets pictured below. My erotic writing is no different - I want to show that off, too. 

(To see my jewelry website, please visit )

On the other hand, it's erotica! Everyone thinks that erotica means dirty stuff, trashy stories that are little better than (gasp!) pornography. I know there's a difference between porn and erotica, but I'd rather not try to describe that difference when all I want to do is talk about my delightful characters and how much they're, ahem, getting it on. And to tell how I write my erotic novels with the same care and attention to detail and characterization and plot as I put into any other work. Because it's true.

The Second Confession:

I don't care what Mom thinks. At least, not as much as I thought I did.

"Mom? You like my book, Mom? Really? Tell me the truth!"

When I finally told my mother about my new life as a writer of erotica, of explicit sex scenes, she laughed. She laughed! Even more surprising, she read my first published erotica novel, America's Darlings, and loved it. Perhaps this wouldn't be so hard after all.

I began to tell more and more people. Friends, my grown children, relatives. Those I didn't tell found out via my ecstatic posts on Facebook as I went through the publishing process of one erotic novel, and then another.  Much to my surprise, none of them had a heart attack at the news.

The Third Confession:

I'm not an expert on Sex. Seriously. I'm not. (But I'm working on it.)

I was at a large family event last week. Aunts and Uncles and cousins and old family friends - and one old gentleman who slapped me on the back and wanted to know "if I had any secrets I could share with him" and "you must have to spend a lot of time studying up on this stuff, right? Get it? Study up! Har, har, har!" 

I wasn't surprised. Every writer of sexy books gets their share of these types of questions and comments. In fact, I was rather pleased. I went home and wrote about it in my notes - my first inappropriate erotica comments! I'd arrived! 

Fourth Confession

It has improved my personal sex life. And that's all I'm saying.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Guest Erotica by Author Nicole Ryan: What my Husband Wanted

A Huge Welcome to Nicole Ryan!

I am thrilled to host my first guest on my blog. Nicole Ryan is an amazing erotica writer from Seattle, generous with her knowledge of everything erotica, and I can't wait to share her work with you.  What My Husband Wanted is her newest work - and it is a sizzling hot read!  See below for an excerpt and blurb.

Isn't this the most delicious cover?

Or is THIS cover from the first book in the series even tastier?

Where to find Nicole's books:

What my Husband Knew:
What My Husband Wanted:

Where to find Nicole:

Amazon Page:


What My Husband Wanted is the sequel to What My Husband Knew, a short erotic story which follows a couple who have been married for years and have had bad luck with their sexual life. When Marlena and Christopher welcome Brandon into their sexual life they are thrust into a world of possibilities, and new found desires. Even as Marlena's love for Brandon grows, her already deep seeded love for Christopher begins to blossom, once again.

These short erotic stories contain explicit sex scenes, Cuckold, BDSM, Menage and is not intended for readers under the age of 18.


Marlena opened the door to her house, the bags of groceries knocking against it as she shoved inside. The house seemed empty as she closed the door behind her and hefted the bundle of groceries into the kitchen. As she was putting them away she heard Christopher’s feet softly coming down the carpeted steps.


“Yeah, I’m in the kitchen.” She said, smiling up at him as he entered the kitchen.

“How was your day?” He asked as he began putting away groceries.

“It was good. I saw Nora today.” She said, placing eggs in the fridge.

Marlena had started seeing Nora before she’d started seeing Brandon as a trainer. She’d been a beacon of light in a time when Marlena could only see darkness. She was more like a friend, a friend that Marlena paid a hundred and fifty dollars an hour to talk to.

“How did that go?” Christopher asked as he bit into a green apple.

“Fine.” She smiled at him quickly.

Christopher watched her as she continued to put fruits and veggies away, packages of beef from the local butcher were stored in the freezer and he noticed the contents left on the counter. Spaghetti. Christopher didn’t eat spaghetti, she never made it when he was home even though it was her favorite. It gave him terrible heart burn.

“Spaghetti for dinner?” Christopher asked cautiously.

“Yes. I have company coming over.” Marlena said, glancing at him through the corner of her eye.

“Brandon?” Christopher asked.

“No, someone else.” Marlena smiled at him playfully. “Yes, Brandon, is that okay? I didn’t think we had any plans, it’s Friday…”

“No it’s fine. I’m glad. I asked him if he’d come over more often.” Christopher said as he pushed off the counter and tossed his apple core into the compost bin.

Marlena began to slice into orange, red and yellow peppers, removing the stems and seeds. Her hands were nearly shaking and she chewed on the inside of her mouth. She rolled her words around, tasting them before speaking.

“You spoke with Brandon?” Marlena asked, her voice small.

“Yes, at my office on Tuesday.” Christopher’s smile wavered as realization washed over her face.

“What did you talk about?” She asked, her hand slipping and nearly cutting her finger.

Christopher grinned at her discomfort. “I’ve asked him to not bring you to his home anymore.”

Marlena continued chopping, not raising her eyes to meet his gaze. “I didn’t realize.” She said softly.

“I’m not upset. I just want all interactions between the two of you to include me. One way or the other.” He winked, melting her insides.

Christopher, with his stunning blond hair and blue eyes and the firm jaw and noble brow that she’d fallen for so many years ago, oh how she loved him. How she needed him. How she loathed him. 

She clenched her teeth as she sliced and diced. Tossing ingredients into the pot and wiping her hands on her apron. When the doorbell rang she nearly jumped out of her skin. She closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath before leaving the kitchen.

One look at Christopher told her that he would not be leaving for the dinner. She eyed him cautiously as she left the kitchen wiping her hands on her apron, her bare feet padding on the wood floor softly. Pausing she took a deep breath before opening the door. Brandon smiled into her face, roses in one hand and his black gym bag in the other.

From the kitchen, Christopher could hear Brandon’s deep voice in undertones but couldn’t make out what he was saying. He thought they took longer than needed to return to the kitchen, but he reminded himself that this must be a shock to his wife. When Marlena returned to the kitchen she was holding a large bouquet of red roses which she quickly put in a vase of water.

“Chris, how are you?” Brandon said good naturedly as he held his hand out to Christopher.

Christopher took it and shook heartily, “Glad you could join us. Hope you like spaghetti.” He smiled widely.

“One of my favorites.” Brandon smiled.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Wedding Cake Success!

An Extravaganza Beyond Compare

It's all over, and I can finally put up my feet and relax. My parent's 50th anniversary was a complete, roaring success. We figured that somewhere between 70 and 90 people came to celebrate with them - but I was much too busy to do any head-counting.  Calling the event an "extravaganza beyond compare" is a bit of a stretch - I admit it - but our potluck on the beautiful deck of my parent's beautiful home was perfect for our laid-back, not-many-frills family.

The Happy Couple

The Cake...

As you may recall, I got a good head start on the cake.  Last week (please see my blog post from September 3) I worked on preparations: I baked the layers, flat-iced them, boxed the three tiers for travel, and made plenty of buttercream to decorate it with.  I took all this (and more) to my parent's house. The morning of the big day, after the delicious waffle breakfast my dad made for everyone, I cleared the kitchen table and declared myself off-limits for any other getting-ready work until after the cake was done and I'd finished cleaning up my mess.

I'd learned from my Aunt Alice that Mom's original colors for her wedding were tangerine and white. She even showed me a fifty-year-old snapshot of the dresses, which made my day. (Except for the fact that I blurted out that I hadn't known there were colored photographs fifty years ago - then wished I hadn't put my foot in my mouth!)

After having seen the photo, I knew that the colors for this cake would have to be tangerine (also known as, ahem ... orange with a couple of extra drops of yellow food color) and yellow.

I mixed up bowls of colored buttercream, chose tips, filled my decorating tubes... and began to decorate.  In the photo below, I am applying leaves.

Mom Loves to Watch 

Applying Streamers to the Middle Tier

All Assembled and Ready to Party. 
The Topper Was From Their Original Wedding Cake!

With my Brothers, Preparing to Serve the Cake

At Last. The Cake is Served!

Thank you for following this journey with me.  I have enjoyed chronicling the short-but-tasty life of this cake from beginning to end. And, in case you're interested - it was delicious! 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

15 Steps to Sending off a Publishing Contract

Hi everyone!

I'm all happy-girl right now because I just signed and sent off the Ellora's Cave contract for my second novel, Inn on the Edge.  Actually, it took WAY WAY longer than it ought to have.

It was quite the production:

1)  Feeling quite good, I fill out PDF-type document that they'd sent me - you know, the ones with the little gray squares.

2)  Afterwards, I stare at it, second-guessing myself, then change my answers to half of the answers - what on earth do they mean by "one-sentence description of each main character's role, without names or descriptions"?   How am I supposed to do THAT?

3) Have husband proof-read my answers, shake his head in dismay, prompting yet more changed answers.

4)  Have husband proof-read again.  Finally, we have "one-sentence descriptions" we can live with. I guess.

5)  Print last two pages of the document - the signature pages.

6)  Sign the hardcopies with a nice writerly flourish.

7)  Scan the pages, so that they can be emailed along with the document.  Nothing.  Nada.  The scanner isn't working.

8)  Try again to scan the pages. Pull out hair.

9)  Talk husband down when scanner refuses to work.

10)  Hunt all over house for scanner-usage booklet.  Find it.

11)  Fix scanner.  Maybe.  Try to scan again.

12)  Fail.  Repeat three times.

13)  Finally, a full hour later - VICTORY! - we make scans of the (stupid) signature pages and then I make a special mollifying beverage for helpful but unhappy husband.

14)  I press "SEND" and Email the two scanned signature pages AND THE CONTRACT to Ellora's Cave.  Yes!! Success!  I now have a bona-fide contract for Inn on the Edge!

15)  Contracts.  They're cool.  Very cool.


Edited to Add:

Jeez. And I thought I had this down! About half an hour after writing this very clever little post for my blog, I received an email from my publisher. Apparently, they've changed the contract-submission process. Argggh! Richard and Micah, our 21-year-old, Computer Science Major son, sat down at the laptop and, following the instructions from the contract-coordinator, changed this and fixed that and got rid of the other, until the contract was fit to be submitted again.

This time, it was a "go". Whew. That sound you hear, off in the distance? It's my big sigh of relief!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I'm Making a Wedding Cake!

It's a Special One

It's a 50th Anniversary cake, and I'm making it for my parents.  They've been hoping I'd make the cake for their party and dropping broad hints to that effect for probably five years. "Evelyn - you still have all of your cake decorating stuff, right?"  It makes me smile.  How could I not make their cake?

I know how.

Years ago, I worked as a cake decorator at a bakery - and I made lots of wedding cakes.  I probably made one a week during the spring and summer, sometimes more.  I always enjoyed making wedding cakes, they allow a fair amount of creativity in their decorations.

Some Cakes Were Downright Weird... the wedding cake that the bride wanted done in rainbow colors.  And I don't mean scattered roses in rainbow colors - I mean each tier was frosted in glaring colors: yellow, green, and blue.  And the borders of each were different: orange, red, purple.  Then, at her direction (she insisted in standing right next to me to show me exactly what she wanted), I added roses in turquoise and pink... and oh! I don't even remember all of it, but it made me shudder and I didn't want any of her guests to associate that thing with me.  Ugh.

I ought to have taken a picture of the monstrosity!

And Some Were Lovely...

One bride requested a cake in all-white.  White frosting, white borders, white flowers, white leaves. I'd never seen such a thing, and it was enchanting.  I did take a picture of that particular cake...but, sadly, I've since lost it.

Another cake was flat-iced and sent to the bride as-is.  She put fresh flowers from her garden all over it (she sent me a picture) and when I saw it, I thought, If I ever get married again, that is what I'll do. (But I didn't. I mean, I did get married again, but we didn't have a wedding cake!)

And Now, It's Time For a Cake For My Parents

I kept all of my stuff.  In a box.  Deep in the basement where it never saw the light of day.  A couple of weeks ago, I realized I'd better start the wedding cake in motion, so I rummaged through the box and found I needed to buy a couple of pans.

The box of wedding cake supplies

I bought the pans.  I ended up with a nice set of 12-inch, 9-inch, and 6-inch pans.  They'll make a cake that will hopefully serve 60-70 people.  I used Pillsbury Supreme Collection Red Velvet cake mixes - six of them.  I'm a fan of these delicious, beautifully textured cakes. Usually I make cupcakes from this recipe and use the creamy filling that's included in the box, but for the wedding cake I set the filling aside for later use.

My Favorite Cake Mix

The First Day's Work

Baking!  I baked for two straight days.  The 12-inch pan used a box-and-a-half of mix, so I made two boxes, filled the big pan 2/3 full, and used the rest of the batter for the tiny 6-inch cake.  It worked perfectly.  I did that twice, then moved on to the 9-inch pans. I did a double run of them, also.  For a couple of days my kitchen looked like a disaster zone (not that it usually doesn't!)

 The Cakes, All Baked and Ready For Splitting

Making Them Pretty

I have a long, thin Cutco knife that's made especially for splitting cakes into layers - and- hey! - who cares if I only use it once every six years? - it's perfect for the job.  I'd refrigerated the layers overnight, to make them easier to deal with, a trick I learned in the bakery.  Freezing works also, but there isn't enough room in my freezer for so many cakes.

First, I trimmed the domed tops from the cakes to make them flat.  Then I split every cake with the long knife, and filled them with my own Strawberry Chiffon Filling.  (Recipe to follow.) Then, I stacked each tier.  At this point, I made sure that each tier was roughly the same height as the others, and that their edges were pretty even with no filling leakage.

And now, a confession: I forgot to take a picture of the cakes at this stage, and now it's too late. Dang it all!

Icing The Tiers

I have a heavy-duty, expensive professional-grade cake decorator's turntable.  I love the story behind my turntable: a good friend asked me to make a wedding cake for his friend, who unfortunately didn't have the money to pay for it.  Between us, my friend and I worked out a deal where I would buy, make, and decorate the cake - and he would buy me this turntable as a way of saying thanks. We were both supremely happy with our little arrangement.

The Turntable, a Decorator's Spatula, a Cake Comb, and a Piping Bag

The Flat-Iced Cakes


Some people love it, some people hate it.  I pretty much fall in the "hate it" category - if I'm served cake at an event, I usually push the stuff to the side of the plate instead of eating it.  But buttercream works perfectly for frosting and decorating a fancy cake which must stand up to being moved and to being set up on display for hours.  Which is why I suppose it's been used forever. When I worked at the bakery, we made buckets of the stuff at a time, with enormous blocks of shortening (that make my stomach turn in memory...)

However, at some point during the past twenty years, I'd lost my recipe for Buttercream. My neice Heather came to the rescue with her own favorite recipe.  I made three batches of frosting for the basic flat-icing step, modifying the recipe a bit.  (Recipe to follow)  I set each tier on the turntable and flat iced it, using my serrated cake comb to texture the sides.  Then I set the iced cakes on prepared cardboard circles.

I made the golden ruffle under the biggest tier.  I cut a long...long...long two-inch strip from gold foil, pleated it, and taped it to the edge of a circle of heavy cardboard I'd cut out of a box.

So...That's it For Now!

The cakes have gone back into the refrigerator, awaiting their big day.  On Friday (three days from now), I'll put each tier in a box and drive them to my parent's home.  By then, I'll have made two or three more batches of Buttercream (a stiffer version this time, for making flowers and piped borders), which I'll take along to my parents.

I plan to tint the Buttercream at their home, and do the finishing decorations just before the party.  I'll have my camera with me...I just hope I won't be too distracted by curious relatives to snap a few shots as the cake progresses.

Thank you for reading!

Recipe:  Buttercream Cake Icing

Recipe makes about 3 cups of icing.  

·         1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening (use fresh shortening)
·         1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened
·         1 teaspoon almond extract
·         4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
·         2 tablespoons extra heavy cream
1.    In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add almond extract. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add cream and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy, about ten minutes. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.
2.    For thin (spreading) consistency icing, add 2 tablespoons light corn syrup, water or milk.

4.    For Pure White Icing (stiff consistency), omit butter; substitute an additional 1/2 cup shortening for butter and add 1/2 teaspoon No-Color Butter Flavor. Add up to 4 tablespoons light corn syrup, water or milk to thin for icing cakes.

Strawberry Chiffon Filling


·         1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening (use fresh shortening)
·         1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened
·         Juice of one large lemon
·         4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
·         1/2 jar strawberry preserves (approximately 6.5 oz.)
To prepare: follow above instructions, leaving out the strawberry jam.  After the ten-minute whipping, add in the strawberry jam and mix well.