Sunday, March 6, 2016

A New House Being Built-

We have been looking for land to build on but have not been able to find a place that we like. We found one and I drew plans for it but it was in a cul-de-sac and backed on to a street of tinny houses that the town had insisted on having for starter homes. It reminds me of packed in row housing except for they are detached. You can't hardly turn around because the street is so narrow.

There is a division in town called Prairie Lake Estates. It was started by Henk DeVligar but the town made some pretty crazy demands. The lots are narrow and there is a row designated for townhouses right across from really big houses. None the less he developed it and put a pond with a fountain in the center of the development and then a walking path around it. After Henk became Mayor he sold it to the Tams brothers. They were able to change the zoning and get the townhouse area developed into single homes instead of townhouses. When we were looking at places around town we have not been able to place that we like  until we found these lots for sale.

We bought Lot 14 at Prairie Lake Estates. 

The process begins. We have to draw plans and figure out how to set a house on this plot of land with it's Right of Utilities as an easement. I can come up to it but not on it. We can't plant any trees because the Taber Irrigation District has part of the easement for water lines and if the water gets are anywhere near they will get in to the line and cause it to burst. It has taken over 30 or more plans to come up with something that works.

 This first photo is the land from the South East corner. 


The second photo is looking from the North West corner. The Pond is to the left of the big house.
   Here is the fountain.

There is supposed to be a three feet drop from the front to this corner at the back but it is hard to tell because of the depression in the ground

They are building a road on the inside for access to the houses. Also the engineers have to stake out the position and elevation of the house before we cam begin to dig.

We sent our plans to the town in November around the 12th but approval wasn't given until January. Luckily this has been a mild winter.

We were able to start digging on January 19th, 2016. It is a mild winter so they were able to dig.

Finally Digging.

They are getting ready to do the foundation of the house.

By January 21st the foundation footings were poured.

 January 23rd they were getting the frames ready to set up.

 The frames are up ready for to be poured on January 27th..

On January 29th the frames are off and the basement walls are done.
This is from the front with the garage on the right.

A view through the west windows.

A panoramic view of the north side where the entrance to the walk out basement will be and then the deck above.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Delicious Lemon Loaf and Lemon Meringue Pie

I tried a new recipe yesterday. I found it on pinterest and the recipe is here. It is called

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat 

by Averie Cooks

 Her version
My Version

She is adamant about not substituting things for Lemon Extract especially lemon juice but I didn't have any extract. My next best option was LoriAnn Lemon Baking Emulsion. So I used the same amount of 2 Tbsp when she called for it. Merrick, my grandson, loved it!!! He is picky so I guess it passed the test!!!

Aunt Jeri brought a Lemon Meringue Pie so we had a lemon day yesterday for Sunday Dinner. It was delicious too!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Wedding Cakes over the years

Recently I had a conversation with a lady who is trying to start a cake making business. I realized that I have made a lot of cakes over the years and, more importantly, that there has been a great change in styles of cakes.

I have been helping with wedding cakes since I was 10 years old. The first one I helped with was for my sister, Margaret, when she was married back in 1962. My mother was in charge but I helped prepare the banana cake and then she decorated it. She worked with a different kind of frosting or icing as we sometimes call it. It was a lemon frosting that was a little stiffer than the buttercream that we are familiar with.

I will try to find photos to add when I can.

From there I helped with cakes for my siblings but my mother always did the decorating and I watched. When I got married I designed the concept of the cake and my mother made it but a half hour before the reception someone turned and bumped it so we never got a photo of it. No wedding cake for me but it was ok. The thought and dream was there.

When my first child turned 1, in 1978, I made a cake and since he was born it August it coincided with the local community Fair. I had watched cousins and aunts enter things in their State Fair's in the states. I entered it and won a prize . . .kind of fun. This doesn't make me a professional or anything. I just enjoyed doing it so I persisted and learned some more things about cake decorating.

Birthdays came and went with more cakes but the first layered style wedding cake was actually an anniversary cake for my parents-in-law on their 32nd wedding anniversary in June of 1980.

Royal icing was being used and flowers could be made ahead of time and saved so at this time I was learning how to do that.

Later in October of that year I did my first wedding cake, on my own. I am not sure but I believe that the first one was for my sister-in-law, Allyson, when she married David Cichy back in 1980. It was a challenge and I remember making flowers ahead out of royal icing so that I could practice and prepare. I was 8 months pregnant when the day arrived so it was an "awkward" challenge but still very fun.


Next was one for another sister-in-law, Ruthanne, in 1984.


Fondant covered wedding cakes were becoming more popular. Fondant was homemade at this point so I tried it on the next wedding cake making three lawyers for our sister-in-law, Marilynne, in 1991.

The fondant was formed by draping it over the cake (or in this case a styrofoam cake base) and smoothing it with my hands. Then I applied dots to each layer to make the desired effect. 

and revisited for a brother-in-law, Greg and Karina later that same year.

Then this one for a niece in 1998.

Some of these were fondant over styrofoam and some were real cakes.

In recent years these are some of the cakes. The styles changed over the years and so it is interesting to see how it evolves and how each couple has their own personalities that influence what they choose.

Such as, in September of 2007 this cake was created at the request of our oldest son. He wanted chocolate!!!

So the base cake is chocolate with raspberry filling and a buttercream icing, then drizzled with a chocolate ganache. It was delicious but I spent months experimenting and having his aunts and uncles taste test different recipes so that we could come up with this final product.
Scott & Adina

In November of the same year there were two weddings on the same day. One was a friend of our daughter so the cake below was created for her.

It is displayed by sitting on glass.

 Nolan & Janae

Cranberries fill the glass bases below the cakes and topped with fresh flowers.

The second wedding that day was for our nephew and his bride. They wanted a casual wedding cake so this is a tiered Rice Krispie cake.

 Max and LeiLani

In 2009 our daughter was married and again taste testing and all kinds of experiments were done before this could be created. I think I do that because I don't do cakes everyday.

Adam & Victoria

The top layer is chocolate with raspberry filling (a family favorite). The middle and bottom one are white with two layers. One had lime pastry cream filling and the other has strawberry pastry cream filling. The idea was to make it colorful when it was cut.

In 2010 I took my first Wilton cake decorating course with Victoria. Here is one of our creations.

French Vanilla with buttercream icing,
 with Strawberries and drizzled chocolate
Strawberries and cream
 Weddings were changing to be more casual so we experimented with how to decorate this cake for a cousin who was having a reception in a barn. The colors are there but it needed to be more casual and not go to the expense of a full cake.
We took the old styrofoam, fondant covered cakes and tried ribbon.

Finally we ended up putting this vintage lace over the dots and using the three colors of flowers and ribbon to make the end product.

Cupcakes are all the rage! They have been reinvented and brought back to popularity. Here is a vintage themed idea for a wedding cake. This was done in 2011.


More cupcakes for a wedding are on order. This was a joint effort with Angela Gardner. We tried to match the wedding colors and under Angela's direction we proceeded with the following.
 Hydrangeas and Roses were requested

Originally flowers were made with creamy frosting or icing as we call it now. Next Royal icing was introduced making it possible to make flowers ahead and add to a cake. Now fondant and gum paste flowers are becoming popular. They require different techniques and tools but provide another beautiful make-ahead flower that can weather the heat or cold.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

2015 Taber Stake Dinner Dance - March 6th - Evening in Paris

The theme for this year's dinner dance is Evening in Paris. It takes a lot of people to pull something like this off!!! There is decorating, band practices, program practicing, photos to find, and food to prepare not to mention the clean up after. Cassandra Valgardson was in charge of the evening and getting everyone lined up to help in different ways. She did a great job!!!

Our Evening in Paris featured typical french items and missionaries who had been to France. To Start of the Gym was elegantly decorated for the dinner and had a French street backdrop at one end with a Patisserie, Flower shop and Boucherie shops. It was a well done backdrop by Shirley Francis.

They printed the menu on a bag and put a small baguette inside. The food was a nice menu featuring Marinated Pork tenderloin.

Dessert was crepes. David Torrie was incharge of making about 700 crepes.  Ruthanne and Ken helped prepare the crepes with strawberries, nutella and whipping cream.

There was a program arranged by Sarah Lee of musical solos with photos of France on the screen as they sang.

The band, Plum Crazy, with lead singer Marnie Brown, lead guitar Craig Jensen, Rythmn guitar Mike Saunders, Keyboards Amanda Jensen, Keyboards Don McCrae, Drummer Dave Dube started to play. They were great and kept the dance hopping all night. They had help from sound man Sean Harpell.

After about an hour the Patisserie shop was opened. Angela Gardner was in charge of this venture and it was a huge success. Assisting in the pastry baking was April Saunders. Wendy Engleson, Jessie Ellingson and Donna Hamilton made the confections. We had other help from Jill Livingstone, Alisha Shimbashi and Victoria Kapcsos, Josh and Murray Gardner to name a few. Thanks to all the many helping hands we were able to have a successful event.

We put the finishing touches on before the dinner began in our prep room.

Our signature cake is ready.
We had 16 items. Below are a few.

Petit Pain au Chocolat

Almond Palmiers

Profiterols Paris-Brest
These are filled with a Praline Mousseline

Of course - Eclairs

Petit Lemon Curd Tarts
garnished with whipping cream and candied lemon rind

Petit Pot de Chocolat Tarts
garnished with a whipping cream and a chocolate flourish
Petit Pot de Chocolat Tarts and Caramels
Profiteroles Paris-Brest

Strawberry Macarons and
Pistachio Macarons
Coconut Cream Madeleines, Mendiants
 and Mini Lemon Madeleines
Mille Feuilles
Our most popular item filled with
Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream and 
Passionfruit Pastry Cream

Spiced Nuts
with a hint of heat

Orange Cardamon Shortbread and
Lavendar Shortbread

Petit Pain au Chocolat, Signature Cake and Almond Palmiers

Our Patisserie space

The shop was decorated by Angela Gardner, Lindsay Coon and Wendy Engleson
with items from Cynthia Steed and others

Nicely done everyone!!!