Category Archives: Cool Cakes and Costumes

Celebrating Cake

I was just talking to fellow parenting author Jessica Joelle Alexander about the virtues of cake. She’s the author of the new book The Danish Way of Parenting, and describes how Danish teachers focus on empathy lessons every week from … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules, Cool Cakes and Costumes | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

One Response to Celebrating Cake

  1. Loved the cake. I would have killed for that as an 8-yr-old. 🙂

Lessons from a Pirate Ship Cake

My kindergartener loves pirates, so we concocted a pirate cake for his birthday party. I love the process of turning a child’s wish into reality. The ship was three-tiered, complete with poop deck, bowsprit, topsails, gun ports and a chocolate … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules, Cool Cakes and Costumes, Celebrating Holidays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

9 Responses to Lessons from a Pirate Ship Cake

  1. deidra says:

    WOW is all I can say!

  2. What a great mom! I would’ve killed for a birthday cake like that when I was 8 yrs old.

    My weakness is hanging on to financial documents way past when I need to. Not sure why, I just do, but am mentally working up to the day I start shredding the oldest of them.

    I have no trouble eating any culinary masterpiece either I’ve created (rare) or have eaten in a finer restaurant (a bit less rare, but we don’t eat out at fancy places very often).


    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Isn’t it funny what we hang on to? Good luck when your shedding day comes.

  3. Erika Cedillo says:

    I loved your post!! Thanks for the reminder of focusing on to the process, the memories, the experiences and relationships… and to let go.
    I hang on to every single craft my children do as if I would like to document every stage and how their abilities evolve. What I’ve came up to is to create a digital file so I take a picture of everything and now I have a big digital photo album that only takes virtual space but that I can go back to and see their crafts. Then I just choose the very special ones and I restrict myself to just 3 (well maybe 4-5) for every 6 months or so and then let go the rest because all are in photos.

  4. M Brown says:

    Thank you for this story. It’s a good reminder to me to be present moment-to-moment. Also, you remind me of a Dan Hodgins quote: “Always be yourself. Unless you can be a pirate. Then, always be a pirate.”

  5. jannette says:

    where did you get the pattern?

Castle Cake

January is cake time in our family. My youngest has a birthday and we have fun making elaborate cakes. For his 4th birthday he asked for a castle cake with a princess coming out of it. Thought you’d like to … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Cakes and Costumes, Celebrating Holidays | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

9 Responses to Castle Cake

  1. Holy Toledo – that’s FANTASTIC!

    Ahoy Matey, I’m looking forward to photos of the pirate ship!

    May 2014 be filled with simple, slow moments that nourish your soul.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thank you, Laurie. I’ll let you know what the pirate ship looks like. Maybe we could use tootsie rolls for cannons.

  2. You’re one cool mom, Heather! If my mom had made a cake for me like that when I was four, I might have keeled over from excitement right then and there.

    No tips for a pirate ship other than don’t try to make tall masts or yardarms from cake.(duh) I’d use colored straws or thin wooden dowels.

    Happy New Year.


    • Heather Shumaker says:

      I was thinking of pretzel rods for the masts and bowsprit and maybe yards as well. Still debating about the sails…

  3. Katie says:

    Funny that I read this post today, because I just got cleaning out some old picture albums and found a picture of a hamburger shaped cake that I made for my brother’s birthday when I was taking a Wilton cake decorating course. I made two 8″ round yellow cakes for the buns, then frosted them. I made a 8″ chocolate for the “burger” and edged the top of that with some red and green for the “lettuce” and “ketchup”. It looked pretty good!

  4. jenifer says:

    Great cake! When my princess-obsessed daughter turns 4 in September, I’ll have to pull it out. Then again, maybe I can wow her with a minimized version when her sister turns 1 in February. 🙂

    Could you use wontons for sails? Maybe brushed with butter and sprinkled with sugar?

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Have fun with your birthday castles! Ooh – and thanks for the sail idea. Never would have thought of that.

  5. Angela says:

    Could you please send me the recipe for the cake?
    That would be great!

Who are you?

One of the most bothersome questions I heard when I was young was: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s an age-old question, but not that useful. When you’re 3 or 6 or 10, the vague, … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules, Cool Cakes and Costumes, Celebrating Holidays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

12 Responses to Who are you?

  1. Holly says:

    When I first became a mom, one of the things I looked forward to most was getting to see what costumes my children would choose for themselves. I think it’s fun when parents dress up, too.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Getting my costume ready now…I still gain much from trying on new identities when it’s costume time.

  2. Katie says:

    One of our friends recently commented that her little boy liked wearing tu-tus and the child’s grandfather did not agree with that. So he was removed from the picture email list until he can be more open minded!

    • Holly says:

      He might never be. Everyone is entitled to their own feelings on things, and other generations are sometimes different from our own…just as future generations might be ‘better’ about some things than we are. I would just not share it and not think another thing about it. JMHO of course.

  3. Self expression is vital for human development and costumes are a fantastic way to be who we are AND who we aren’t, both.

    Great post, thank you!

  4. Fleda Brown says:

    Perfect. I loathe that question, what do you want to be when you grow up? As if now is not enough. Good to dream, but better to enjoy.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      “Now” is something we often overlook. Kids are almost always in the now. Well said.

  5. Jan Waters says:

    As you know some of us 70’s year olds still like to dress up even if it isn’e halloween! Jan

  6. Liz P. says:

    Thanks for referencing the relevant chapters in your wonderful book. I love how the individual chapters stand alone.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks, Liz. I worked hard to make the individual chapters stand alone because I know busy parents don’t always have time to read a book straight through. Sometimes dipping in and out is all the time we have!

Firefighter Cake

Once I learned of the glories of adding dry ice to a birthday cake, I couldn’t resist. My first creation was a volcano cake, complete with red lava frosting and dry ice smoke cascading down.  When my son turned 5 … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules, Cool Cakes and Costumes, Celebrating Holidays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

15 Responses to Firefighter Cake

  1. Oh my gosh, Heather, I love, Love, LOVE it!

    I also resonate with your sentiment: “I’m not big on presents, but I do love experiences.” You gave the best gift of all – phenomenal memories that will be carried and cherished well into adulthood.

    Your experiment turned out exceedingly better than mine:
    And while the story was supposed to be fiction, it was based on actual events

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks for sharing – wow in return – I’ve never tried flash fiction. Or should we call it flash nonfiction?

  2. That is just fantastic! Now my mind is really going…, thank you!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Can’t wait to see what you come up with for a fun bday cake! Let me know how it goes!

  3. Deidra Gorgos says:

    all I can say is WOW!

  4. Zane says:

    I just showed this to my girls. They were in awe and had many questions—about the dry ice especially! Thanks for sharing, and Happy Birthday to Luke!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      You can get dry ice for ~ $1 at Meijers. We had fun exploding the lid off a tupperware container after the cake fun. The pressure builds up as the CO2 builds up inside the jar — and then BONK! The lid pops off. Extra fun if you put a little toy figure on top of the lid who jumps off spectacularly.

  5. Cute idea for a cake. Very clever.

    My best birthdays were sliding parties (January birthday in MN). A bunch of my friends and I would take our sleds, saucers, and toboggans to the nearby sliding hill and race up and down until we were too cold to stand it any longer, then goback to my house for cake and ice cream.

    I can’t remember a single present I received for all my combined birthdays age 1-18, but I’ll always remember the sliding parties.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Your sliding parties sound wonderful! Yes – very telling. “I can’t remember a single present I received for all my combined birthdays age 1-18, but I’ll always remember the sliding parties.” How true.

  6. Wendy says:

    That is awesome!

  7. Amber Grant says:

    Great cake!! What type of container did you use for the dry ice inside the house?

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      We used a small glass candleholder, but I’ve also used a plastic container – most recently the small measuring top to children’s medicine bottle.

  8. Birthday cakes are my hobby for the past 3 years and I just love making them. Thanks for publishing this.