The Cake

Today, I am honored to introduce Candice Ashcraft to you. She's a friend, fellow DIYer and church planter, photographer, wife, mom, and so much more. She has written this story and would love to share it with you. I love sharing story. More and more, I am being convinced that STORY is what God uses to draw us closer to one another and more important, to Himself.

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My family is here again…the beginning of what I like to call “Birthday Season” in our house. It all begins the beginning of September, right after “Back to School”. (That’s real fun for the pocketbook.) "Birthday Season" is set into full swing on 2nd of September with my son, Austin’s birthday, then two weeks later is my wonderful day, followed two weeks later with my daughter, Haley’s birthday, and ending exactly one week later with our beautiful anniversary. Whew!! My poor husband John feels left out. Then as soon as all of this settles down, we have Christmas.

The. Cake.

This year, for Austin’s birthday, I tried saving as much money as I could since I have recently taken a giant leap of faith, quit my job, and took the giant leap into ministry! Never did I expect that when I took that leap, that it would be almost a year until I would have a full-time income again. However, I know that God’s got this and all things are according to His will and timing.

So, back to Austin’s birthday. One way that I tried to save some money was by avoiding the bakery and creating for him the cake that he really wanted. I really enjoy baking so this was going to be easy and enjoyable.

Austin and I looked online and at the store to find one he REALLY wanted- a camo cake with bright orange icing. I thought, “This is going to be so easy.” They now sell a camo cake mix in the grocery store and even have bright orange icing!! I was SO excited!! It looked a little bit beyond my skill level, but I knew I could do this.

I bought the cake mix, icing, and all the remaining ingredients needed to make this cake. I took it home, placed it all in the pantry until it was time to make it. In the meantime I pulled up some videos of how EXACTLY to make this masterpiece. It looked pretty simple, but I was still a little nervous. This was the one and only thing that Austin REALLY wanted for his birthday…no specific toys, games, or a party…just this CAKE. So it had to be perfect!

The day came to bake the cake. It was a quiet afternoon around the house, so I thought, “This is going to be perfect! I will be able to concentrate and it will be awesome!” I watched the video one more time and got to it. Now, let me explain exactly what “got to it” means. In this cake mix, you have one batter to mix. Inside the box, with the mix, are two food coloring packets. You mix your cake mix and then separate into four bowls. Then, you add a specific amount of coloring to each bowl. You end up with a light brown, dark brown, light green and dark green cake batter. You then take a spoonful of one color and pour it into the cake pan. Since I was making a two tier cake, I had to pour a spoonful in one and then use the same color and pour a spoonful into the other cake pan to make sure it was all even. Then, you alternate the colors and continue on until all batter is in the cake pans. From the time that I opened the box to the time that I put the two cake pans into the oven, it was ONE HOUR!!!! It looked pretty cool though and Austin was very excited. I cleaned up my mess and sat down while it baked and boy, oh boy, did it smell good!!

It was time to take it out. It smelled so yummy! As I was opening the oven door to let John and Austin peek at it, while giving it just a few more moments to bake, both of their reactions were, “That looks so cool!” Then we all screamed!!! Well, at least I did.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something moving outside of the back door. Just then, the dogs spotted it and started going crazy!! It was a… huge… snake!!!! The dogs’ instinct was to run out the doggie door to get it, so I raced them to it and shut it. John rushed outside to figure out what type of snake it was and commenced to killing it.

Then I remembered THE CAKE IN THE OVEN!!!!!! So, as John is outside brutally killing a snake (from the sounds of it), I rush to the oven to pull out the cake. Whew!! It wasn’t burnt. As my heart is about to beat out of my chest from the chaos I was very relieved to see that the cake looked awesome! I was hoping it looked just as good as the picture on the box when we would cut into it. So, I left the cake to cool and went to check on John and his snake situation. All was good, snake was gone, and dogs were on the hunt.

The Cake.

We were going to see a band in concert at a local church that evening and it was about time to go. I put a towel over the cakes and off we went. When we returned from an awesome night of pumped up worship, it was time to put this cake together for the family party the next day. As I was preparing for the icing extravaganza, two things concerned me about this cake. 1.) This sides/edges looked really thin and 2.) The middle had baked up really tall.

I thought, “Well, I’ll just shave off the middle and make it flat.” I’ve done this before and it’s always great. So, I take the piece that will be the bottom layer and shave off the “hump” in the middle. I place it, shaved side up, on the cake plate. I open the icing and give it a good stir. It seems kind of thin, but I decided to just go with it. Icing the bottom layer went smooth. Then, I took the second layer, shave off the “hump” in the middle, flip it over and place the shaved top side down. This is when everything. went. wrong.

The top layer would not sit flat, but I went with it anyways and tried building the icing up along the thin edges. The icing was thin so it was just running. THEN, the top layer started sliding off! I kept working with it and it just kept getting worse. Then, my wonderful husband walks into the kitchen and sees that I’m “not happy”. Now, I know he had good intentions, and was only trying to help, but he told me how his mom always did cakes and put the rounded “hump” facing up, which is usually how I do it too, but the video showed otherwise. Then he leaves the kitchen because he can see my frustration building. If I tried to pull the top layer off and flip it over at this point, with all the icing on it, it was going to crack, and let’s face it, that’s not a good thing.

Well, I flipped it over anyways. It was very messy and it started to crack some. This is when I lost it! I threw the cake in the refrigeratorthinking maybe the icing would get cold and stop the slipping and sliding of the top layer and mend the crack.

Now I‘m sure that all of us ladies have a place that we like to go to when we need to cry. Mine is the bathroom. Why?? Well, 1.) There’s a door that I can close and hopefully my kids will think that I’m using the bathroom and give me some privacy, 2.) I can lock this door if I choose to 3.) There’s a seat when you close the toilet lid and 4.)There are tissues to wipe away your tears and a trash can to throw them in. I think it’s a great place to have a good cry.

As I walked out of the kitchen, tears filling my eyes, I went undetected to my children. My husband? Not so much. He always knows when I’m heading to the bathroom for a good cry. He has a radar for it. So what does he do? He follows me in to the bathroom. Sometimes he helps and sometimes he makes it worse. I guess he’s a brave man! This time, he made it worse.

Now I will admit that this “little cry” was more like a two year old throwing a fit. Embarrassed? Maybe. After he left the bathroom, I stayed in there for awhile crying and trying to brainstorm on what to do. All Austin wanted was an awesome cake made by his mommy. This cake was NOT awesome at its current state. I thought about just going to the store and buying a whole new kit and starting over. That would leave me up all night baking a cake. Didn’t want to do that either. I had no idea as to what to do so I just sat there.

Once I composed myself and left the bathroom, still clueless as to what I should do. My very sweet and patient husband had an idea. He said we could put toothpicks in it to hold it together, like a dowel rod, put it in the refrigerator and let it sit over night. Then, maybe it would “glue” together and in the morning we could take out the toothpicks and I could finish icing it. I figured, “What else do I have to lose?”

We went into the kitchen and I pulled the cake out of the fridge. It had already started to stiffen so I thought it might just work. I slid the top layer into place and held it while John put the toothpicks in the cakes. It looked like it was going to hold it!! I carefully placed it back into the fridge and cleaned up my mess.

I was just so upset because I wanted this cake to be perfect for Austin. I wanted him to be so thrilled when I cut it open. I wanted it to meet all of his expectations. I wanted it to look just like the picture on the front of the box!! As I told John all of this he lovingly told me that Austin was going to love it no matter what it looked like because his mom made him the cake that he wanted. Guess what? He was right.

The next morning I get up and get myself ready. I can’t even bring myself to look at that messy cake. The whole family was coming for lunch and I still had to finish this cake. I took a deep breath, said a prayer, and opened the fridge, fully expecting to see the top layer slid off and in two or more pieces.

It looked just like it did when I put it in there the night before!! What a relief!! I pulled it out, with a new mind set and finished the cake. I even pulled out my icing tube and tips and put some flare onto this cake! It looked good and Austin was tickled to death! I was very pleased with the cake that I allowed to ruin my evening.

The family all met us for lunch at a local restaurant. We ate and had a great time! Then we all went back to our house for presents and cake.…cake. I was so nervous. I told my family all about this cake experience and if it turned out awful we’d just have to eat ice cream. I took a deep breath and cut the first piece. It looked awesome!! It looked just like the camo pattern on the front of the box! I was tickled to death that it looked so good. Now came the taste test…another big deep breath and… it was one of the best cakes I’ve ever had!!! The family just ranted and raved over how good this cake was and how neat it looked!! (I may have shed a tear.) I just could not believe that this mess, this big mess, turned out to look and taste so good!! Not to mention that I had one VERY happy boy on his birthday!

The Cake

Later that day, I was sitting there thinking about that cake. How messy and broken it was. How it was falling apart and needed lots of help standing up to become the cake that it was meant to be. I felt very much like that cake…broken, messy and needing help.

I realized that when I’m like that, I’ve got the very thing that I need holding me up, like the toothpicks held up that cake. I’ve got Jesus. He’s in me, holding me together when life gets messy. I might be falling apart, broken and messy, but He has greater things in store for me.

Sometimes, we have to become broken before He can fully use us to the extent that He wants. We have to become so broken and messy that only HE can hold us up! Then, at that moment, is when He turns it around and uses us and makes us into something beautiful.  Just like that broken cake being held up by toothpicks, I am a broken person being held up by Christ. Just like that cake was pleasing to everyone that saw and ate it, I am pleasing to my Father. No matter what others think of me, He has a purpose for me in this world. I am to further His Kingdom.

Make me broken. Make me messy. To the point that only You can hold me up, Jesus. Then, I will become the beautiful, confident, work of Your art on display for all to see, and in return will lead others to You through the works that You have done in me.

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The 3 Basics of Hosting a Block Party

Does anyone remember the 4th of July Block Party scene from the 90s movie Sandlot? Epic! The atmosphere of an entire community celebrating together, awe.

We may not have been able to create the same magical scene but as part of our attempt to minister to our new community we have been hosting block parties. Minus the "some-mores", our church plant, the valley, hosted 3 different block parties in different neighborhoods this summer. These block parties were fairly inexpensive yet tons of fun! Most importantly, they were easy to host. Ours obviously were in the summer but fall, back-to-school, and football season are some great excused to hang outdoors with your community!

I'm sharing our 3 basics of hosting a block party over on Homemaker's Challenge today. FALL will be a Great time to host community events: bon fire, BBQ, or something else fall-esk! These ideas will help narrow the overwhelming idea of hosting a large group :D

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Eating Spaces: Kitchen Décor {Settled In September}

I'm a pretty practical girls. I mean, I like the things I use daily to be cutesy but they Have to be practical {other than my obsession with pictures everywhere}.

The Kitchen

In the way of decorations, my kitchen is possibly the most simply decorated. Since I need my counter space as clear as possible to prepare {most of the time} 3 meals a day as well as constant drinks and then afternoon snacks, I don't like there to be a lot of cute just sitting around. I'm not one of those who hides away all my small appliances. If I use it more than twice a week, its gonna stay on the counter. The only exception right now is the crockpot. I haven't learned how to use it to its full extent, don't have a large space to store it easily, and plan to do more meals in it this fall/winter.

Here is a tour around my "decorations" in the kitchen:

The plate holder. I found this at Hobby Lobby {one of my FAVS} when their "metals" were on sale. It was the last one they had and it was slightly bent at the top. I did something I've never done before and was slightly embraced to ask buuuuut, when I went to check it out I showed them the bend and explained it was the last one and ask if I could get a discount because it was "damaged". After calling over a manager, she agreed to give me an additional 15% off the already 50% and it was a steal!

I'm a slacker. YEP! I bought it intending on painting it since it was an odd off-white color. I liked the idea of orange since I don't use it often but apparently the spray paint I already had was not glossy. It looks odd or cheap with the flat paint AND I'm not in love with the orange. I am now planning to paint it red or black before hanging it. Then I think I'll put some of the cutesy serving platters on it; cute but easy, practical access.

Plate HolderThis is my awesome under counter radio/cd player, stack of cute serving platters, and my painted pottery I did with my mom:

Cute Platers

This is the window above the sink. For a long time I didn't have anything up here because I loved the clean, clear look. BUT I also love this ministry {Forgotten Song} as well as this tray I found with a bestie while garage selling, and the {fake} fresh lemons.

Above the Kitchen Sink Decor

Here is the corner of the kitchen cabinets: paper towels, can opener, toaster, and another piece of pottery painted with my sweet youth group girlies.

Kitchen CounterRothacher PlaterNext to this above corner is the part of counter next to the oven. This is where I like to keep my other appliances out that I use often and want near the oven and fridge.

Kitchen Counter Small AppliancesAbove the shelving is a nice open storage space. Now, I HAVE having anything decorative that I have to dust just for fun so I try to only store party items I don't use often but still have a purpose. This is a giant bowl and cool vase Matt and I received for a wedding gifts. The vase is full of fall items I hadn't cleaned up from last year {don't judge- its almost fall again ;) }. Also, the bowl wouldn't prop up high enough to see over the lip of the shelf so I used one of our 'rice socks'  to prop is up. lol

Decorative BowlThe next set of shelves are all connected but kind of divided by where each new set of cabinets start. This was a little frustrating but at the same time gave simple divisions for decorations. These vases I have collected over the years...which is surprising since I don't have fresh flowers often. I use some as empty decorations or fill them with random stuff during different seasons.  The next set is a sentimental set of decorative spices that a friends dad gave me as a wedding gift. The awesome hot pink chevron casserole carrier was an awesome birthday gift from my mother-in-love.

I also put these items in the corner because there's the most counter space under them. Sounds sill, I know. BUT I tend to climb on the counter to get things up high since I'm only 5'2" and add being prego to that, I needed the safest place to store the items I would be getting up and down more often ;)

Above Shelving DecorThe last part of our decorations above the cabinets are my Fiestaware pitchers and another awesome garage sale find, the green pottery-looking vase. Next to those is the goodwill find- plate/platter holder and the cake stands I made for a besties baby shower.

Party Supply StorageHope you enjoyed my sad lil tour of my "decor". We are finishing up the "mantel" above the buffet and I'll give ya a separate post about the hard work my hubs did!

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Happy 5th Birthday Magnadoodle!

Happy 5th Birthday Gorgeous!

Magdalene Reese Rothacher, you are my smarty pants.

We love your thoughtfulness, vocabulary, constant questioning {most days}, leadership, creativity, and impeccable way of caring on a conversation with adults!

We love you Maggie!!!

Magdalene Reese Rothacher2

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Do over or Did it right?

I was never the girl who had a secret binder of wedding plans so when I got engaged at the age of 19 I just winged.

bridal party pic

Without knowing the does and don'ts, the what's hot and what's not, or the faux pas' of weddingry I think we pulled off a pretty cool party...and I think I liked it better that way :D

Bridal Party cake Hands and Flowers

Orange, lime Green, hot pink, turquoises, and yellow bridesmaid dresses! I always hated the idea of making someone uncomfortable in a certain make dress so I just handed out paint color swatches to each girls and let them pick the make and price. I LOVE who it turned out!

79_504480351937_4669_n

Matt of course knows who the best superhero in the world is and we had to make sure he made his appearance. From Matt's superman undershirt to superman holding his bride down to a superman brownie grooms cake. We had a personal wedding!

79_504480317007_9205_nGrooms cake

I plugged in as many friends and family as possible. No fire! Lots of balloons. Tons of bright color I loved. Incorporated gerbera daisies AND superman into our special day. I wouldn't ask for a do over, even nearly 9 years later!

The Rothachers thevalleychurch.org

How 'bout you?

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