My new passion  

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I'm pretty passionate about all forms of baking, and lately, I've been focusing on cakes. I have been taking the Wilton cake decorating classes at my local JoAnn fabrics for the past few months. There are 4 courses (1, 2, 3 and fondant) and each lasts 4 weeks, so a total of 4 months of classes, and this past week marked the END of my final class! I wanted to let you all see the fruits of my labor, so here are the cakes I have created over the past 4+ months (most for class, some for fun/friends).

Course 1:Fondant course:
Course 2:
Course 3:

And then, I've done these for fun. The first was for a friends' baby shower... and I made the matching diaper cake too. The second was actually a reinvention of the cake above (from course level 3) because I felt like a cake that looked so much like a tiered wedding cake was a little too elegant for a friend's birthday party. =) So, I disassembled it and created the cake below.

So, what do you think??

It's been really fun and I'm looking forward to furthering this in the future. My first wedding cake/cupcake event is in August so that will definitely be a fun experience. Even though I may not make it look quite as good as the professionals (*yet*), I'm actually more passionate about the actual BAKING of the cake and trying new and exciting (and tasty) recipes, so the fact that I get to do cupcakes in addition to a cake is really fun because I can do four different recipes! I've landed on: chocolate cake w/ raspberry filling and cream cheese icing, chocolate mint chocolate chip cupcakes w/ chocolate ganache icing, red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing and white wedding cupcakes with cream cheese icing.

If you live in the Orlando area and need a cake for a party or shower or some other event - contact me - I'd love the opportunity to give it a shot.


New look  

Posted by Rachel

I decided to upgrade my blog look... what do you think?



Posted by Rachel in , , , ,

Wow. Life's been pretty crazy lately... and as a result, I have a lot of stuff running through my mind. To be completely honest, I don't even want to give myself time to think about it all because I know I'll get overwhelmed, frustrated, sad, disappointed, confused, [insert tough emotion here], etc. I have been feeling very heavy... burdened... like I am in the desert.

Therefore, I've been CONSTANTLY listening to The Desert Song by Hillsong (and I did just see Hillsong United perform this live 3 weeks ago - that was phenomenal).

This is my prayer in the desert
And all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in the hunger in me
My God is a God who provides

And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames

And I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon forged against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

And this is my prayer in the battle
And triumph is still on it's way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be emptied again
The seed I've received I will sow

Now, maybe I'm the only one, but my first inclination when I'm in the desert, when I don't hear the Lord speaking as clearly as I'd like him to or when I am in the battle and triumph is "still on the way" (aka NOT here yet) is NOT to bring praise. That's the harsh dichotomy that I am living in right now, though. I know I should be praising simply because God is still the God who provides and therefore I do have a reason to worship. But sometimes what my head knows and what my heart feels are two totally different things that don't seem to add up. I know that the Lord is here in the midst of one of the stormiest times of life to date. But it is hard not to be swept away by all the waves that life is sending my way. It is hard to remember that he's still there when all I see in front of and behind me is hard and dry and void of what the world defines as joy.

And so, my focus this past week has been to thank God for all the crap. To PRAISE him for the situations that leave me scratching my head not knowing how to respond and feeling like I don't hear the Lord guiding me one way or the other right now. To PRAISE him for the harsh fires my sister is walking through that continually get worse. To PRAISE him for the life decisions that I'm facing with no direction to date. To PRAISE him for suffering. To PRAISE him for heaviness. Ultimately, the only reason I will be able to praise him through all of this is if I keep in perspective what the Lord tells me in Isaiah 55:8-9 (the Message):
"I don't think the way you think.
The way you work isn't the way I work."
"For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.

God knows what he's doing.

God also keeps impressing on me this idea of a chess game. I suck at chess, so when I play, I am only thinking of the one move I am about to make. But, for really great chess players, they know and anticipate the the next multiple moves that they will make, and at times, may even be able to see how they can have me in checkmate LONG before we make it to that place. That's kinda how I see me and God right now. I'm sitting here playing this game called life only seeing one move at a time and having no idea of the end result. He's gently asking me over and over if I will just trust him to play for me and trust that he knows not just the next move, but the next 50 moves, the next 100 moves, etc... And he's got Satan in checkmate already.

God's pretty great at this thing called my life...and I'm not so great at it, so why do I not trust him to make my moves for me??

Orlando tour guide  

Posted by Rachel in , ,

I got the chance to be an Orlando tour guide this weekend. My old college roommate, the beautiful Lauren Hammer, came to visit me this weekend. She got in on Friday and I took her to see my work before heading home to cook dinner before I took her to my favorite little dessert place downtown. Jess, Kristi and Jillian joined us at The Dessert Lady, so please don't think that Lauren and I ate all this on our own.

Then, we headed to the Grand Bohemian to meet up with CBell and hang out while enjoying the live jazz that they have there every weekend...What a great little gem in downtown ORL. While there, Jess says, "Hey, I think that's Lebron James!" Sure enough, Lebron and a few of his fellow Cavaliers teammates were hanging out in the same lounge since it was a night before the big game where they got BEAT by the Magic.

Saturday we started the day at the Winter Park Farmer's Market, a favorite Saturday morning activity for me. Then, Jillian and I took Lauren to Briar Patch, my fav little brunch place on Park Ave. Because of the cookies we tasted at the FM and the zucchini bread at BP, we decided to go home and bake... you guessed it: cookies and zucchini bread.

Then, it was off to Urban Flats downtown where we met up with Virginia and Bekah for a lovely dinner outside, before we all headed to meet up with Kristi at Rising Star Karaoke bar. This place is LEGIT. There is a live band, complete with back up singers/dancers. And yes, we did all make our appearances on the stage. Lauren and I sang Walking in Memphis, Bekah and Kristi sang Free Falling, and Virginia and Kristi sang our fav of the night -- Redneck Woman. Of course, there were MULTIPLE things to laugh at and about during the night, including the drunk girl who was also named Rebekah who swore it was her turn to sing, the dancing man and his mom, V spilling her drink on her jeans 3 minutes before having to go on stage, V and Bek changing jeans only for more to get spilled on V's jeans that were now on Bekah, Kristi's song choice for her and Virginia, the "Host" who thought he was a star, and the list goes on and on...what a fun night!

Sunday was relaxing. Took Lauren to FBCO with me - she even joined me while I taught my 10th grade girls at Sunday School. Then we had a little picnic at Lake Eola, which was so fun complete with AWESOME people watching and great weather, and then met Jaclyn at Jeremiah's. YUM! After a little afternoon nap at the house (OK, I admit it... I spent much of my naptime reading New Moon...don't judge), we headed to Status where Lauren got to meet many more of my friends, and confess her love for Tony. Or maybe she was just telling him where she lived... who knows.

Monday I had to take Lauren back to the airport before heading to work, which made me sad. I have seen her for the past three weekends in three different cities (Dallas, Chicago, Orlando). What ever am I going to do now that I don't know exactly when I will see her again?

Well, I hope that this little run-down has convinced you (and me!) that Orlando does have some pretty fun things to offer, outside of Disney, and has therefore made you realize that you MUST come visit. My house is always ready for visitors.