Decorate Your Cake and Eat It Too

Cake Mix Out Front

This past Monday was a holiday, so I needed an activity that would appeal to a 5 and 10-year-old.

My niece Sophia had spent the previous night with us and was going to spend the following day so I needed something to keep both girls entertained.  Much to Caroline’s chagrin, she was not going to be playing my ” My Little Pony”  and “Squinkies” all day with Cousin Soph.

Candy Counter at Cake Mix

I decided to take the girls to Duff’s Cake Mix.

Duff”s Cake Mix is the brain child of Duff  Goldman, star of Food Network’s ” Ace of Cakes” and owner of Charm City Bakery.

 It was a blast and it was a hit not only with the girls but with me too.

Fondant Station

The place was super clean, the staff  VERY helpful and friendly.

Which is quite a feat when you have children jacked up on sugar running around.


There was great rock ‘n roll  music playing that actually made me want to dance instead of taking a Tylenol. More importantly for a bleary eyed Mom, a great cappuccino made with Intelligentsia Coffee.

Cake Mix Graffiti

So here’s the deal.

Pick a cake flavor and decide on a cake or cupcakes to decorate.


Then decide on butter cream or fondant to cover the cake and as well as the color for the outside of the cake.

Caroline & Icing

You get to pick two toppings, two bags of icing, and a fondant to decorate with.

There is a station  set up with brushes, molds, cutters, and all sorts of tools to create your cake masterpiece.

Decorating Tools

Cookie Cutter

You can get as much or little help as you want from the staff.

Duff himself was helping kids smooth out their butter cream, very cool!

Here are the finished products.

Sophia &CarolineCarrie's Cake

The best part?

Eating the cake.

 It was quite delicious!.



The Days are Slow and The Years are Fast

Seriously, how in the world do I have a kindergartner?

I feel like she just started walking.

Eating Solids

I know I am not the only Mom who feels this way.

Life has hit the fast forward button.

Caroline started school yesterday.

I cried.

She didn’t.

She couldn’t wait to go back.

I know that’s what I wanted for her.

To love learning and her school.

But it’s going so fast, I find it hard to remember

the baby days.

I guess that is why everyone says to live in the moment.

To cherish the day.

I will.

Always and Forever.

xoxo Carrie

Father’s Day

My Father, Earle “The Pearle” Johnson was one of a kind.  I am so thankful for the time I had with him.  It was short, but the love he gave me during the years he was alive will last my entire life.

To grow up with unconditional and unwavering love is a gift. Even when he wanted to wring my neck there was never any question that he  was on my side. He allowed me to have a point of view and he listened it as long as I was honest, kind, and treated others with decency.  He wasn’t a push over by any means, he was strong, stoic and thoughtful. He chose his words carefully and as a result he never regretted anything he said and I can’t recall him ever saying an unkind word to me in the heat of the moment (and trust me I pushed him to the edge.  I was a lippy teen).

  My Father had three girls and treated each of us differently because he recognized we were different people, yet he managed to make us all feel like we were treated and loved equally. He adored my Mother and respected her. He supported her freedom and allowed her to be independent even in times where many men didn’t. The equality I felt in my own home has helped me to see the equality in all people.

How do you thank the person who made you feel real love in the purest selfless form?

You try to pass it on to your own children and to set the example that was set for you.

Luckily, I found a man who would stand up to the legacy of my Father and I married him.

My daughter Caroline and I are lucky indeed.

Happy Fathers Day!

Please Set The Table.


I think one should set the table every night.  It is a good way to keep your family at the table longer, it prompts conversation.  It sets a good precedence for your children, by setting the stage for learning table manners.  I am astonished how many kids and adults  do not know where a knife and fork should be placed.  Paper napkins send me over the edge and soda bottles on a table make me cringe. If you routinely eat on a paper plate you need a time out.  Save those for the picnics!

Photo: The 10 minute dinner table setting

I can sense the eye rolls.  I know we are all super busy, time is tight and some may think it is silly to put effort into setting a table.  It  seems like every day is “Casual Friday” and I think it should stop. What’s so wrong with a little formality?  I am not suggesting we put on a suit to travel or wear white gloves, just simply take the time to set your dinner table.  I timed it.  It takes 5-10 minutes to set a table with plates, napkins, silverware, and a place mat.

Photo: Caroline’s Placemat

 Give your children the job of setting the table so they know how it is done, do it with them and then set them free and let them do a table scape themselves.  Caroline has drawn place mats for us, picked flowers, pine cones, special rocks or shells when she set our table. It was a great activity and it kept her busy and out of my hair while I cooked dinner.

 I will admit I do use paper napkins when there is a messy dish such as ribs or if it is lunch on the run, but I try to routinely use cloth napkins.  It’s so much nicer.  You can use a tip from Lulu Powers, author of “Lulu Powers, Food to Flowers” and go to Ikea, buy some $0 .79 cent dish towels.  Buy a ton and keep them folded in a cute basket so you have them at your fingertips. They wash nicely and even look better with wear.  If they get too stained then throw them out or use them a dust cloths.

So for those who need a reminder here is a diagram of a proper table setting.  Keep in mind the daily meal setting will be much simpler so don’t freak about the 12 different pieces!


I may loose you here….How about pulling out the Wedding China out on a regular day?   Who says you have to keep it for a special occasion?  I like to have a “fancy” dinner night where I use all the good stuff, but I serve breakfast for dinner.



So go open your linen cabinet and pull out your napkins and table clothes and start setting your table!

Just do it!

xo Carrie

Caroline’s Carnival

My daughter recently turned 5 and she decided she would like a carnival party for her classmates and neighbors.  I like a girl who knows what she wants.  So I went to work.

I ordered a ton of stuff from Shindigz, an on line party supply store.  We got a Pin The Tail on The Donkey, Bean Bag Toss Game, Egg and Spoon Race, Duck Fishing Game, Potato Sack Races and all the outdoor decor…a 5 Foot Carnival Barker, Banners, Welcome signs and my personal favorite, a Personalized Clown Photo Stand.  I had a big basket of red clown noses (also ordered from Shindigz) and all the kids took funny photos.

And a few adults….

 I enlisted two of my favorite 7 years olds Stella who did the Fortune Telling and Hazel who ran the face painting (along with my ever patient and devoted friend Olivia).  I also hired four 6th graders to help out with the games, to hand out prizes and to monitor the pinata whacking.  They were awesome!

The 6th Grade Posse from St. Marks

Hazel and Olivia working hard!

Now I had to figure out how to feed everyone. I decided to make it easy on myself and rented a Hot Dog and Cotton Candy Cart from Bart’s Carts.  Cotton Candy+5 year olds=heaven. We also had a vintage popcorn popper, animal crackers, and believe it or not some fruit and veggies made an appearance.

The first of Caroline’s three cotton candy servings.

Abel from Bart’s Carts Serving Up the Hotdogs.

I hit the 99 Cent store for prizes.  That is my go to place for kid parties and functions.  I loaded up on the prize buckets, plates, napkins, and pinata candy.  To avoid tears over lost loot bags I had each child decorate a paper bag with their name on it so they could keep track of them and made it easy for my helpers to find them.

The Prize Buckets

Potato Sack Races

The party ended with a clown Pinata and Carnival Cake.  It was a great day and Caroline had the time of her life.

 Caroline has already informed me she would like a unicorn party next year.

 So, does anyone know where to get a live unicorn?

xoxo Carrie