The Bee Hive

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cake Weekend Recap

I'm over the embarrassment of telling S it would be a good idea to remove 50 batteries from their packaging and stick them in the same baggie until we made more throwies the next day. We only ruined 30 batteries and were still able to make ~370 throwies in an afternoon/evening.

At the same time I baked tiny batches of cupcakes and frostings.
Here's what I learned:
1. Smitten Kitchen's Chocolate Cake is the best chocolate cake ever.
2. Smitten Kitchen's Vanilla, How to Eat a Cupcake's Vanilla and some random "best ever" vanilla cupcake recipes while good, were all not good enough (actually the first two were very good, the "best ever" was disgusting). Smitten's & How to's would be great for a layered wedding cake.
3. The Washington Post (hi new newspaper) published a recipe that was almost perfect, but not quite. It used melted butter, which was an interesting concept and created a larger "crumb" more like the fluffiness of a boxed cake mix.
4. Experimenting with different fats resulted in the best vanilla cupcake I've ever made from scratch. 50% shortening and 50% butter = perfect cake.
5. When you have the perfect cake, don't go for a 7th try or you may end up with sunken-center-pucks-of-cake:
8. Adding pudding to baked-from-scratch cupcakes is stupid. Why mess with a good thing?

There are at least 16 cupcakes in the freezer waiting for an official tasting when the turtle arrives this week. But, for now this is how things are shaking down:
Smitten Kitchen's Chocolate Cake
WP's Vanilla made with 1/2 butter and 1/2 shortening (beat sugar & fats tog rather than with flour as suggested)
Vanilla (MS recipe)
Chocolate (How to eat a cupcake recipe)
Peanut Butter (How to Eat a Cupcake recipe)
Mint Chocolate Chip (1t of mint extract per batch)
Mocha made with strong espresso

I also found these little boxes, which I think we may have to use for our guests to take leftovers!
On my run today I was trying to figure out how many cupcakes to make and how many batches of each of the two cakes it would take. I think I came up with 7 batches of each. I love my daily brainstorming sessions, but at the end of each run I can rarely remember what I concluded. On that note, Sunday marked the end of week 2 of my 20 week marathon training plan. The first few weeks are actually fewer than the 25 miles I usually run in a week and three mile days feel like a total treat! Even if I don't actually run a marathon, it's nice to have a schedule and variety; I'm really enjoying the training plan so far. Now if this darn rain/tornado weather would let up!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A TOTAL Disgrace to 6th Grade Science Classes Everywhere

It has to do with 50 batteries in one bag. More details to come.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Holy Crap or The Best Peanut Butter Frosting Ever

Now I have a tummy ache to go with my headache and sore throat from the nasty cold that Big Jim brought to our house last weekend. A tummy ache cause I just ate too much of the MOST AMAZING PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING EVER. Holy crap, it's good. Thank goodness I made the tiniest batch that the kitchen aid could whip.
Thanks, Cassie from How to Eat a Cupcake!
I really do need to start using my good camera instead of the iphone to take photos.

Packing for Maine

My parents are taking their turtle (also known as a scamper or a slide-in camper) on a road trip south this week.

They're going to take the stuff we've been hording for the wedding with them when they return to Maine. Hopefully most of it will fit. We have 38 vases:
And lots of booze. But, apparently we have no gin and no rum. Oops, guess we'll need to buy that in Maine.

I'm quite familiar with the size constraints of the turtle having spent 12 hours a day, every day for 3 months straight sitting at its little table studying for the ME & MA bar exams. It was a nice quiet spot, but it really doesn't hold much!

S is downstairs inventorying the booze and packing it for safe travel while I continue to work on the invitations.

Friday, March 27, 2009

shhhh, I bought a GOCCO!!!!

I could jump out of my chair I'm so excited! I bought a Print Gocco machine on ebay today. I've been toying with the idea for weeks and finally sucked it up and hit "buy it now" today. I'm so excited!!
This isn't the exact machine since my auction didn't have photos (quiet, no that doesn't worry me), but it's representative of my used machine that comes with 6 bulbs, 3 masters and 10 inks. I took a Gocco class at Paper-Source years ago when I lived in Boston and wanted to buy one to make stationary then. Fast forward 8 years and the wedding is just the excuse I needed!

Vanilla Contender #1

Deb, over at Smitten Kitchen, sent me an email today. She said her #1 vanilla cake recipe is the one she used when baking a wedding cake for a friend last summer. If you're not familiar with the Smitten Kitchen you really should get on over there and become fast friends immediately.

The Smitten's vanilla cake recipe makes ~28 cupcakes. As previously stated, S and I are chocolate fans and are just getting over the fact that we're even friends with non-chocolate people. We do not need 26 vanilla cupcakes in our house. What's a quarter of 1 3/4 cups? It's 1/4 cup plus 2 T. Viola, 7 cupcakes making their way to the oven:
I'm hoping that they're moist, squishy and not the least bit mealy. It would be great to have a vanilla cupcake winner in contender #1.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cheapo Depot Shoes

I love my cheapo depot blue belly dancing shoes from India (thanks ebay)! Could it be possible that I want to wear $5 shoes more than I want to wear $195 shoes? So sparkly :)
Definitely an option to try with the dress in May!

Soliciting Cake Recipes

S and I have tested several chocolate cake recipes over the past couple years and the best by far is Smitten Kitchen's Double Chocolate Layer Cake recipe. Just look at this deliciousness!
photo courtesy of

How could anyone resist? Don't you just want to lick the beaters clean?! (As S points out, I do have a "tasting" fascination/obsession/problem.)

Chocolate cake is fine and dandy if you're a chocolate fan. However, I'm fairly sure we're inviting friends and family who do not like chocolate. I know, how can we be friends with anti-chocolate people?! Ahem, mom. I suppose S and I are a tolerant bunch....

These anti-chocolate folks pose a bit of a problem: I have one, ONE! vanilla cake recipe from Magnolia bakery in NYC. The recipe produces a somewhat grainy cupcake - think cornbread - rather than a moist squishy piece of heaven. It's tasty, but not perfect. I am therefore on the search for the perfect vanilla cupcake recipe, taste tested by you since I don't want to bake 5 batches of different vanilla cupcakes that S and I have no interest in eating.

I'm also considering baking Sweet Polly's carrot cake cupcakes, but I'm unsure whether cream cheese frosting will hold-up well enough if it's humid on the big day. And the last thing I need to worry about on Sept. 5 is frosting sliding off the cupcakes. Ugh, the horror!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

First Invitation Sent!

Our first invitation was sent today! It's not an official printed invitation, but an invitation nonetheless. My family's former foreign exchange student needed some kind of "invitation" to visit the United States for her visa application. What could be more official than a wedding invite? We emailed her a copy of one of the proofs I've been working on this week.

Only a hundred and some odd number to go.

just read mrs. cupcake's(?) post that it's two thousand nine...making note of that

Shoes & Cupcake Update

So far I like the pink Cole Haan peep toe shoes with the lizard-y texture the most (lower left photo on the Cole Haan post).

Cupcake frosting brought to room temp in the open air produced a firmer frosting. The one kept in the sealed container had very squishy frosting and seemed to have absorbed too much moisture. Freezer cupcake test results coming next week.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cole Haan Shoes, I love you

Nike Air in a dress shoe = best invention ever.

The blue and the crisscross pink shoes arrived last night. They're amazingly comfortable and as long as the 1.25" heel isn't too high I will be wearing Cole Haan shoes on Sept. 5.

I can't believe I haven't splurged on Cole Haan shoes before. It's like a whole new world of shoes was right in front of me (literally since S loves the Cole Haan outlet) and I just never slapped down the plastic required to enter that world. I guess I can't retire on Sept. 6th now that I need to replace my entire shoe collection with Nike Air/Cole Haan shoes.

Or after the wedding I can admire from afar and just keep wearing slippers and flip-flops every day....

Cupcakes: fridge results are in

Cupcake #2 was placed in the fridge on Saturday. The cake was baked on Friday night, the frosting added Saturday at noon. Time in the open air ~14 hours. Time in the fridge ~48 hours.

The frosting is firm without any condensation. Cupcake looks a little dry. 1/2 is warming to room temp in the covered container, 1/2 on the counter. Humidity level in the house is 69% temp is 70 (yes, it's going to rain).

Taken out of the fridge at 11am. Will taste test at 7pm.
The pantry test cupcake #3 was dry yesterday according to S's taste buds. I thought it was fine. The frosting held up nicely for ~40, which means that cupcakes could, in theory, be removed from the freezer and frosted Thursday evening.

Freezer cupcake #1 will remain in the freezer until Sunday at the earliest, which if successful, will mean that I can bake AND frost the cupcakes the Friday of the weekend before the wedding. Which also gives me a full week to run off the cake batter/frosting combo. I promise I don't lick my fingers and stick them back in the bowl. Ha.

Purchased yesterday are materials for foam cake testing, which will take place as soon as one of us goes to the grocery store!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Flashlights, check.

We're the proud owners of 72 mini flashlights. I couldn't specify which colors I wanted, but for less than 25 cents each I'll deal. I figure that we'll have plenty of outside lighting, but wanted to have flashlights for our guests, just in case. I think 72 will be more than enough.
I'm sure they'll end up all over the yard like the used popsicle sticks we would drop everywhere when we were kids.

Cupcakes: testing the stale factor

I made a batch of chocolate cupcakes with baileys irish cream frosting for a party this weekend. We set several aside to "test" the freshness factor. One is fully frosted and in the freezer, one is fully frosted in the fridge and one is frosted and in the pantry. I'm testing for the following:

1. How does the frosting in the pantry hold up after 3 days. Can I frost on Thursday and still have a tasty cupcake on Saturday?

2. How does the frosting hold up in the freezer. This is the ideal situation - can I bake and fully frost these cupcakes the weekend before the wedding and remove them on Friday? This would be the ideal situation for two reasons: I won't be eating cake batter and frosting two days before my wedding, and I won't be a total basket case trying to frost 200 cupcakes and hang 125 lanterns the day before the wedding.

One would think that with the amount of baking I do I would know the answers to these questions. I still need to test this whole process out with cream cheese frosting as well. Or I could go the easy route and just serve vanilla and chocolate cupcakes and forgo the carrot cake. We'll see.

Bridesmaids Gifts

I also finished another component of my bridesmaids gifts this weekend, but they're top secret so I'm not going to post photos :)

Getting Started on LED Throwies

I started making throwies this weekend. It was fast and easy and darling S assured me that if I "allow" him to watch the Masters without complaint then he will finish the entire batch of 400 throwies that weekend.

Sounds like a good deal to me! I don't know how he'll possibly stay awake the entire time; the soothing voices of golf announces puts me to sleep within five minutes.

I just hope the rest of the LEDs and batteries show up in time!

just a couple more pairs

So I may have ordered a couple more pairs of shoes.... But, really how could I resist when the "best offer" option on ebay allowed me to offer the seller $8 for two pairs of shoes? I have a feeling this may end up being a "you get what you pay for" situation. Oh well, at the very least I'll have a couple pairs of slippers to offer future overnight guests!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mo' Shoes! Mo' Shoes! Mo' Shoes!

I bought more shoes today
All by Cole Haan

I hope they're short enough for my dress or I'll be really disappointed. Which do you like the most?

Shoes. Help.

I need help finding shoes. I think I want dark blue or navy shoes now. They have to be flat or almost flat. I've searched through every shoe on, and No perfect blue shoe. I need shoes.
The square toe shoe in the center are the shoes I currently own. The rest are ones that I like, but I'm just not sure about. There is a 365 day return period on all of these shoes so technically I could order them all and try them with the dress at my next fitting in May. But the problem is I think I really want a blue shoe! Which ones do you like the most? Have you seen any other blue shoes in your travels that may be the perfect shoe for me??

Let there be light!

Aaaah, success!

Fresh off the plane from China arrived these lovelies
150 LED 10mm diffused white light bulbs and 100 CR2032 batteries. Which we used to create this:
Which we hung in this:
And then stuck in a closet. The result of our test is that a single LED light on a single battery will burn strong for 64 continuous hours. S.U.C.C.E.S.S. We will hang the lanterns in the tent on Friday and they'll still be going strong Saturday night.

We also found that three battery bulb combos clamped together with a binder clip cast a nice amount of light in a single lantern. So back to ebay I went to order a few hundred more bulbs and batteries for our ~125 lanterns. We'll have our own version of March Madness going on in the F|S household this week!

More information about using LED "throwies" to illuminate paper lanterns can be found here, here and here.

Vodka and Vodka and Vodka, Oh My!

We're supplying the alcohol for our wedding. And and aviator's wedding will require lots of alcohol (yeah, yeah stereotypical). So what does darling S bring home yesterday? This lovely gift from two of his students:
We've added it to the closet/dresser/pantry full of alcohol. Thanks boys.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I'm obsessed with lighting.

Actually, that's a lie. I'm just obsessed. Obsessive compulsive is the real term, I think. But right now the obsession is focused on lighting (thank goodness those napkins are finished). I have visions of 100+ paper lanterns hanging in the tent, either hanging from navy ribbon or with tails of navy ribbon hanging from them. Here's the closest thing to my vision I can find:
photo source unknown

The problem with this plan is actually illuminating the lanterns. Buying strings of electric lights is rather expensive, wiring my own would be a PIA, and hanging the lanterns would mean a very linear display, as above. I came across battery powered LED lights, however, their lifespan is about 12 hours and I don't want the caterer turning on LED lights when we're at the church and she's trying to prep food.

Enter, WeddingBee; the most useful wedding board every invented. A kind member of the bee boards posted a simple how-to that outlines how to make our very own battery powered LED lights that last for DAYS! Check out her post, the photo she shows is much closer to what I'd like to accomplish with our lanterns.

Batteries arrived yesterday and LEDs are en route from Hong Kong. This will be a test-run of 100 lights. If we like them then we'll proceed to make 400: 300 for the lanterns and 100 for our guests to use as flash lights to navigate around the yard (even though we'll have tons of outside lighting too).


The syrofoam cake arrived today. Tasty!
Actually, I'll be cutting a small section out of this cake and stuffing it with real cake so we can "cut" this cake with the sword. But this will mostly be for display, decorated with with real frosting and a navy ribbon accent. We have a topper already that just needs a coat of navy spray-paint. On the day of the wedding we'll add a few fresh pink flowers. How hard can it be? S and I don't care if we taste stale cake, it's all for the photos anyway.

The real treat will be the cupcakes that our guests will be served. I'm a baker, it's my thing. I've been testing out recipes for months that I intended to give to our cake baker. But, this is one detail that I really want to do myself, so I'll be baking and decorating cupcakes (4 or more varieties) the week before the wedding. I'll just have to keep my fingers out of the batter so we don't have button issues on the big day!


I've started to work on our invitations. I saw a post where a bride printed a calligraphy-like font on dark envelopes and then used while calligraphy ink to trace over the printed font. Preso, I present really easy calligraphy:
They aren't perfect, but after being smushed and smashed in the mail I'm sure they'll look just as good as the $3 per envelope option. It took no more than an hour to do 18 envelopes. I had planned to ask my mom & bridesmaid S for help, but I think I can probably finish the whole batch in less time that it would take for me to drag myself to the post office.

I've worked on a design for the invitations, response cards and thank you notes, but I haven't nailed down a monogram yet. I know exactly what I want it to look like, but I just need someone to take it and stick it in a vector program and send me a high-res image. I have a RFP out on so perhaps I'll find a vendor there. It seems like a waste to spend $$ on this just because I don't have the right program on my computer!

I just received a quote from a printer to print and cut the invitations for us. It's cheap and well worth it. I can just see S and I sitting on the kitchen floor, exacto blades in hand as we cut 2-up invitations to size. Exacto blades and crappy jobs just don't mix well.

Purse & Shoes

I have been looking for shoes for months now. The ones that I originally bought are too "high" for my dress. I wanted either hot pink or navy blue shoes. These arrived yesterday (disregard the peds, of course):
I kinda like them, but I'm not sure if I love them. Thankfully has a 365 day return period so I'm going to try them with my dress in May. If they don't work then I'll just start the whole process again.

While shoes are a necessary accessory for the wedding day, a purse is not. But, last weekend on our way home from Mardi Gras we stopped at the Coach outlet and I spotted this bag in the clearance section (clearance being a loose term at Coach):
I left and went back to the store twice before I actually bought the purse. Coach also has a generous return period so if I decide that I don't need a purse, this too can be returned. Cute, no?


We made the napkins for our wedding. Not just a few napkins, but 160 pink and blue napkins, 8 each of 20 different patterns. Napkins are an easy project, just a little bit time consuming. It took us several days and nights to do them all, but they're done (just in time to clean up the kitchen to put the house on the market).

Here's a photo of the finished goods:

It was difficult to find navy blue prints so we'll just have to rely on the navy table cloths to keep with the "proper" color scheme.

Per S's request I will not post the photo I took of him sewing the napkins as I pre-ironed hems. I must confess that while I ironed all 160 hems, I only sewed about 40 napkins. S is a superstar seamstress -way to go 7th grade home-ec!

Catching Up

I haven't blogged in months. Once we got the big stuff under our belts we held off on doing any wedding planning for a few months. In the meantime I moved to Florida, planned a kick-ass baby shower for one of my bridesmaids, did a lot of wedding brainstorming and my brother and his g.f. (a bridesmaid) were engaged.

Now wedding planning is back in full force. We're selling our house, moving to D.C. and buying a new house just after the wedding, and brother's wedding is a month or so after ours. Talk about a busy year. We just want to get as much planning done before everything hits us this summer!