The Ultimate Test

Well here it is folks, the ultimate test of my skills… Cake decorating skills that is. I may have mentioned this in a previous post, BUT if not; I was asked to make a wedding cake for a friend’s wedding at the beginning of September. Now that it is all said and done, I am proud of the work that I did but man oh man; I was really stressed before-hand.

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I had never made a 2-tiered cake before so the task was a bit daunting. (jk, EXTREMELY daunting.) But I watched plenty of videos, asked for lots of advice from my crazy talented cousin and practiced lots. But I ‘m not convinced I’d ever do it again.

But let’s get into this cake already!! So it was a 2-tier vanilla cake with raspberry lemon filling. I did not actually have a piece on the day of the wedding but I received plenty of compliments so I assume it was good! I did try some scraps after I trimmed the layers and those tasted good. I was WAAAYYYYY too stressed to take any process pictures but in short: IT. WAS. MESSY. Remember how I learned my lesson when using fruit fillings in cake? (reminder: here) So imagine that, on a larger scale, so clearly I had NOT learnt my lesson yet. I overfilled both of the cakes. TIP: when/if that happens to you, don’t be afraid to get a little messy. Remove the top layer of cake, scoop out some filling and try again. No one will see the mess anyway, it will be covered with icing.

Frosting the cakes were fairly easy, however; top coats are one of those things that I can fiddle with forever and never be satisfied so eventually I have to say enough is enough and move on. Piping the purple details was fairly easy, I had been practicing that a lot. I think that was the step I was most nervous for, and while it certainly wasn’t perfect, I also wasn’t mad at it. I had watched a ton of piping videos so I had a good idea of what I wanted.

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A close-up of the practice piping 

The pearl border was my favourite (and EASIEST) part of it all. I just dotted the pearls all around the circumference of the cake and there you have it! All done! To finish it off, I added the bride’s cake topper and some purple roses and baby’s breath.

And here is it! (so sorry it took literally FOREVER to get this post up) (student life…)

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PS- Sorry that the lighting is awful 

 

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

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The Perfect Summer Cake

Hello, my friends! Long time no talk!

I have not been baking very much recently, but a couple weeks ago was my mom’s birthday so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get back into baking cakes!

My go-to recipe book lately has certainly been the Layered book by Tessa Huff. I absolutely adore that book. The cakes are beautifully decorated, the directions explain all the steps very easily and there are many tips provided for troubleshooting. It is certainly a wonderful book if you are looking for something to help you get into baking cakes. The book is fabulous for beginners but certainly, provides some challenges for the more experienced baker.

I handed my mom the book and told her to pick a cake, any cake! She gave it a look through and came up with what I believe is the perfect summer cake! She chose a coconut, mojito cake! YUM. This cake was super light and refreshing, it wasn’t too sweet thanks to the mint and rum flavours.

The process was relatively simple. This cake consisted of a lime cake, coconut rum buttercream, rum, mint & lime syrup, lime filling and a minty sugar to garnish with. The cake batter was really simple, especially thanks to my stellar helper, zesting all the limes 🙂 (I learned that zesting limes is one of my least favourite tasks) The lime filling and simple syrup were little side tasks that I completed while the cake was baking. The lime filling is certainly not essential to this cake and if you try out this cake and are looking to cut out extra steps, the lime filling would be easy enough to go without. However, I must warn you that without the filling, you would be seriously missingout. The filling gives this cake an extra punch of flavour that my whole family really enjoyed! Making the sugar mixture was the easiest part– just mash some mint leaves, zest ANOTHER lime and mix it with some sugar and set it out to dry. Once all the components were made, it was time to put it all together!

First up, drown the cake in the simple syrup to keep it moist! Then begin to stack the cakes, adding the lime filling in the layers. Slap on a crumb coat and let it chill. After 10 or so minutes, begin the final coat. The best part about this cake is its rustic finish. I just ran my palette knife around the cake a few times and played with the icing until I was happy with the result. To finish it off, I sprinkled the sugar around the edge and stuck in a few mint leaves to give the cake a little extra something! And there you have it!

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The PERFECT summer cake!! Happy baking friends!

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

Summary of Learning

Here is my Summary of Learning project, I made a trailer and a full video. The trailer doesn’t really relate to the full video. I just wanted to have a bit of fun with iMovie and make a silly, little video. Enjoy!!

Trailer:

Full Video:

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

Contributing to the learning of others…

Good morning everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely Easter weekend!

So we have come to the end of my ECMP355 journey and it has been lovely! I have really enjoyed learning from everyone! For our final blog post, we were asked to reflect on how we have contributed to other people’s learning this semester! I think this is a really cool idea, especially considering a lot of the other university classes I have been in have had a “fend for yourself” mentality. So this class was a refreshing change!

Immediately after the course began, I recognised that I have pretty limited knowledge about Ed Tech and teaching considering I am only in my second year, and I very quickly learned that the lots of my classmates were in their final semester of their degree. But I was not going to let that discourage me or get me down! I believe that everyone has something to give and contribute, whether it be big or small. We all can contribute to one another’s learning.

So the first way I contributed to the learning of others was through Twitter. (follow me 😉 ) Admittedly, I was not as active as I could have been on twitter. I was a bit nervous of tweeting things and interacting with people, but by the end of the semester, I do think that I started to gain a bit more confidence and interacted a bit more! I shared some various resources and ideas that I found on Feedly (a fabulous tool, by the way. I used it constantly throughout the semester!) I also retweeted and liked tweets that peers and other educators had shared. Here are some examples:

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Quoting tweets is a favourite of mine

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Discussing the Learning Project and CAKE!

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Resources that I have shared

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Resources that I have shared

Another way I contributed to the learning of others was through my blog posts and commenting on other blog posts. A lot of my comments I left on other blogs were encouragements, to spur one another in our ECMP 355 journey! When classmates commented on my blogs, I made sure to respond and encourage them in that way as well.

One example of this was: I received a pingback from Taylor in her post about Powtoon. She had read my blog post about Animoto and incorporated that into her post.

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Snippet of Taylor’s post

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Taylor’s comment on my post.

Throughout my Learning project, I found I was able to help others and encourage them with their Learning projects as well. I received a pingback from Kanchan Mankotia as well, in regards to my cakes I have made.

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My comment on her post about her cake.

Here are some additional examples of blog interactions:

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Comment on my Code post

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Comment on my Carrot Cake

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Comment on my Black Forest cake

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Giving suggestions to Taylor !

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Giving tips about cakes!

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Encouragement left on Amy‘s blog!

The last medium on interaction for ECMP355 was our google plus community. I don’t really have much to say about this one as I did not really interact much with the group. I am not very tech-y so answering classmate’s questions about tech help would not be beneficial to them. I did appreciate it when others asked these questions though and when they were answered because I often found the answers helpful to me! Overall, the google plus community was not the place for me to be interacting and contributing to the learning of others.

Overall, the google plus community was not the place for me to be interacting and contributing to the learning of others. I found commenting on blogs and replying to people on twitter to be exponentially more engaging and helpful.

Thank you very much to each person who took time out of their day to contribute to my learning. Your contributions have made my learning in this class so much richer and I have come out of this class with a lot more knowledge thanks to my classmates. I hope that I was able to encourage others and support their learning along this journey! Good luck to all of you starting your teaching careers in the fall — you will do great! A big CONGRATS to each of us for completing the next step towards becoming teachers! WOOHOO!

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

All good things must come to an end…

Hello, everyone!

I’ve got some sad news… 😦 This week I made the final cake for my learning project. This cake was requested by my sister for her birthday which was on April 7. I’ve got to say, my sister has a fabulous taste in cakes because she picked a delicious cake for us to end with! IMG_0525

About midway through the semester, I ordered a cake recipe book and that is what I used to learn how to make this cake. Granted a book is not an online source BUT before I bought the book, I found the author, Tessa Huff,  on Instagram and did some research online about her cook book and decided that I NEEDED it! I ordered it on amazon and I was ready to bake! So technically, this book was an online source because of how I found it.. (yeah??)

So my sister chose the black forest cake for her birthday cake…YUM! (As you can see, I have lots of cakes already marked and I’m pumped to try them out! Seriously, if you like cakes, check this book out!!!) IMG_0524

The author is incredibly thorough when writing directions and ingredients. She spells EVERYTHING out so clearly! She provides a detailed list of every single ingredient you will need to bake AND decorate this cake, as well as quantities in metric and imperial measurements. So good!

I tried a couple new things to make this cake. First of all, I filled the cake with whipped cream and cherries, I made a more complicated icing and I used a texture comb for the icing. So let’s see how it turned out:

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All my ingredients ready to go!

I was very pleased with how the whipped cream performed as a little dam to keep the cherries contained. It also helped keep the cake moist!

Making the swiss meringue buttercream was the part I was most nervous about. I really did not want to mess it up, considering I was making this cake the day of her birthday and I did not have time to re-make anything. I followed the recipe SO carefully during these steps. I used a thermometer to ensure the egg mixture was the right temperature before whipping it up and it went fairly smoothly! Once I had the majority of the butter added, it looked liked the mixture had curdled and this is where the troubleshooting tips came in handy! Each recipe includes some troubleshooting tips to help ensure your cake is a success, how marvellous! I just kept whipping the mixture, as the book said and viola! All better!

I was so pleased with the final result, this icing is so incredibly smooth and light. To quote my sister when she tried it, “On the scale of smoothness, it beats a baby’s bottom!” (Thanks for that Jess…) But she wasn’t wrong, this icing blew my mind. And the hint of chocolate in it was really delicious! Thanks Layered!

I used this video to get an idea of how to use the comb, she explains everything very clearly and the video enhances her explanation a lot.

The next step was to frost the cake. I learned when using a texture comb, you need to pile LOTS of icing on the side of the cake, or else it will not work. I skimped on the frosting IMG_0539the first couple of tries and then I decided to load up the side of the cakes and I discovered that was the key! (sorry I don’t have a picture of the process of “combing,” I was very focused and covered in icing.) Once I was satisfied with how my cake looked, I could breathe again because the hard part was over! I piped some icing dollops along the top, stuck some sour cherries in the top of each and pressed some chopped chocolate into the bottom of the icing to act as a border.

And here is the finished product:

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So seeing as this is my final blog post about my learning project, I feel I need to share some of my final thoughts with you!

I really really enjoyed this project and the opportunity that I had to push myself beyond my comfort zone and improve my cake decorating skills. I can tell that I have grown significantly since my first cake back in January. I am very proud of how far I have come and I have learned that I love presenting my hard work to my friends and family. I love being able to see people enjoy my hard work! It makes me feel very proud when they enjoy my cakes.

Throughout this project, I used various mediums to learn how to decorate cakes including Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest and a cookbook. I think my favourite way to learn how to decorate cakes was on Pinterest. It was very easy to sort through different ideas and pick out exactly what I wanted. There is also a ton of variety on Pinterest so I was always able to find exactly what I was looking for.

I am also a visual learner so I found that following a video or at the very least, lots of pictures were super helpful when figuring out how to do something. My first thought when trying a new technique was to look up a tutorial on YouTube. My two favourite channels for finding cake recipes and how-to’s are A Spoonful of Frosting and Rosie’s Dessert Spot. Later in the semester, I discovered a channel called Man About Cake. I really enjoyed watching his tutorials and learning different techniques from him. However, he made really elaborate cakes with multiple tiers and that was something that realistically I just couldn’t do.

Overall, I am very pleased with the resources that are available for someone who is wanting to learn how to decorate cakes. There are so many different options to choose from, and these options all suit different learning styles as well.

Thank you for following along with me as I embarked on the learning journey, it was plenty of fun! I do plan on continuing my learning and perhaps I will blog more about my cake adventures in the future!

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

Making waves online

This week, our class was looking at online social activism. I find this topic very intriguing, and I see it everywhere online.

First of all, can online social activism be meaningful and worthwhile? My immediate, gut reaction to this question is; of course! With the correct platform and motivation, social activism can experience great success online. Platforms are much easier to create, follow and promote online. These platforms are also very accessible to a very wide audience. I feel like it is fairly easy to generate a mass amount of followers these days. Things on the internet blow up pretty quickly, especially if the content is shocking, funny or a very large group of people feel strongly about something.

I follow an account called Sevenly on Instagram and I think their platform is very unique! They are a clothing brand (for lack of a better word) and they promote and advocate many different social issues through their clothing. They also donate a certain amount of money from each article of clothing to a different cause each week. (Have any of you heard of it?) I would encourage you to go to their website and explore a little bit. In a nutshell, each week Sevenly has a different cause that they are supporting. For example, this week they are raising awareness for Parkinson’s disease. They are “helping provide self-care resources through the Davis Phinney Foundation. Their Instagram bio is “Outfitter for world-changers. Raising funding, awareness and followers for great causes through advocacy apparel and accessories.”

 

On the other hand, online social activism needs to be intentional. As we have seen in the past, people on the internet tend to take things way out of proportion and leave meaning and reasoning behind. For example, the ALS Ice Bucket challenge. This challenge took the internet by storm and millions of people were dumping ice cold water over their heads. However, I would say that plenty of these people had no idea WHY they were taking part in the challenge. The meaning and purpose were lost and the effectiveness of this campaign was potentially lost.

I think it is very possible to have productive conversations bout social justice online as well. In order to have a productive conversation online, a certain level of maturity needs to exist as well as a degree of professionalism. It is very easy to sit behind a screen and write whatever you wish, this is where maturity is involved. A mature individual will take the opportunity to raise awareness, raise support and allow others to voice their opinions. the professionalism is involved in the whole interaction. Online posts and comments are impossible to take back once posted so knowing that once something is shared, it is online for good will encourage a degree of professionalism for the author of the post.

What are some interesting social activism sites or campaigns that you have seen circulating online?  What are your thoughts on online social activism?

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

 

Starting from Scratch

Ohhhh Scratch. What an interesting website. This week we were learning a little bit about coding in class and the whole concept was totally new to me. I have heard about coding before but I never learned anything beyond it’s a computer thing. I have never had any interest in learning how to code so I just never bothered to involve myself with it. So this week when we were supposed to spend time coding, I was literally starting from scratch on a website called Scratch.

After completing my first Scratch project, I’m not really feeling a sense of pride or accomplishment, to be honest. I was really just playing around with the program, trying to get a feel for what it was all about. You can check out my sad attempt at a code here.

After using Scratch, I’m honestly not entirely sure what I learned. I felt like I did a lot of exploring that led to happy accidents. I learned that coding is hard, especially for someone with absolutely ZERO previous experience. I did not really understand some of the codes or prompts to use them properly in my “scratch”. That is why my sprites are just spinning at various speeds and bouncing along in different directions. I did learn how to draw a background, though, like let’s be real; how fabulous is my ocean scene backdrop. My seaweed along the bottom is rockin, just like my fish! Overall, I learned that I need to learn plenty more about coding if I ever plan to use it in the classroom. My understanding of the concept and the execution needs to drastically increase or we will have a situation where the blind is leading the blind when trying to code. AH!

 

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A sneak peak into the world of Scratch! 

I think Scratch is a pretty good website for kids to experience coding. It is a bit frustrating at times, especially when you cannot achieve a certain action in your code. I think that is where knowledge about coding would come in handy. Before allowing kids to go and explore this tool, I think it would be very beneficial to give them a quick run-down about the various tabs and actions to avoid serious frustration. I don’t think Scratch is a starting block for learning to code, I believe it would be a fabulous building block once a basic knowledge about coding is achieved. Maybe trying out Code.org and completing an Hour of Code first would be ideal. When I explored Code.org, I found it way less frustrating and easy to get the hang of. All in all, I do think Scratch is a good place to go for some kid-friendly coding practice. It is colorful, creative and very visual. The combination of these three things allows for students to use their imagination and really engage with what they are creating. It is definitely a fun way to get into coding and to teach students that coding is not just a bunch of boring computer words (like I previously believed up until this week…)

I’m not entirely sure what I think about the importance of coding. Growing up I was never exposed to it and I’m functioning pretty well in this growing digital age (I think…) However, as we increasingly rely on and use technology for more and more things, an expanded understanding of how writing code works would certainly be beneficial. I also think that learning to code will teach children how to think rationally and logically as they work through a certain code. Writing complicated code is not something that I value in elementary education, however getting a brief taste of coding would certainly not be a negative thing. I believe that there more important things that children of younger ages need to be learning before coding but what do I know really??

What do you think? Is coding something that we should be placing a heavier emphasis on in our classrooms?

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

 

MORE CAKE!!!!!!!!

Good evening everyone!

Guess what time it is…if you guessed cake time; you are correct!! This week I returned to my tried and true method of learning how to make cakes, YouTube. More specifically, A Spoonful of Frosting’s channel.

This week I re-created her Rustic Wedding Cake. It is an almond cherry dream and and it is delicious! I’ve made this cake once before and it tasted really good, but did not look very good 😦 So obviously this time I wanted to up my game. I also had the added pressure of selling this cake… one of my friend’s saw the cakes I have been making and asked is she could buy one from me to use at a party she was hosting. NO PRESSURE EM! Here is the video and instructions I followed to create this cake:

I clearly did not decorate mine like that as I only made a single tier cake and my cake was not a rustic themed cake either. I really like how she embeds her recipes right into the video. Some videos I’ve seen just list the ingredients in the description box but I MUCH prefer it when creators include their measurements in the video so I can just listen along as I work instead of having to constantly check for computer for measurements. She is very thorough when describing each of the steps and includes a video clip for each step as well which is extremely advantageous for visual learners like myself.

Once I had the cakes, icing and cherry compote made, I needed to decide how I was going to decorate. I did have a bit of an idea in my head, based on something I saw on Instagram but at the last minute I changed my mind.

I instead opted for a sky blue drip with peanut m&m’s. The chocolate ganache recipe I used is found in this video. I learnt that you don’t actually need a specific recipe to make this yummy yummy stuff! Just ensure your chocolate and cream are in 3:1 ratio and you’re golden! For example: 150g of chocolate and 50g of cream! EASY! I am very pleased with the improvement I’ve seen in my drip cakes. After my first attempt, I was a bit nervous to try another drip but I am SO glad I did. It is super easy and makes a cake look very nice in my opinion. I certainly still have some things to learn like how to avoid little bubbles in the ganache as well as trying different drip techniques.

Here is a video of the drip I made on my cake:

Once the drip had set, I piped a 8 dollops of frosting and topped each one with an m&m. Then I decided it was still needing something so I added a border of m&m’s around the bottom and that tied the whole cake together!

and TA-DA!! Here it is:

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My dollops aren’t exactly perfectly spaced out…

In the end, I’m pretty happy with the final product. I need to be more careful when piping my dollops to ensure they are evenly spaced out though. They ended up being pretty uneven. I plan on making one final cake this semestre but it will certainly NOT be the last cake I make. I have grown to love baking and decorating cakes and hope that it is something I will continue to grow and and challenge myself with. Have you enjoyed your learning projects this semester? Will you continue them after you finish ECMP? Let me know!

Until next time,

Emily Grace

Investigating SEESAW

Hello everyone,

This past week in ECMP355, we were talking about different formative assessment tools. We were playing around with quite a few and frankly, it was very entertaining! Some of the tools we explored were: Socrative, Poll Everywhere, Mentimeter (we looked at this specific tool in a previous week but I figured I would throw it in the list anyways) good ol’ Kahoot, Peardeck, Plickers (this one is especially interesting because the students do not need devices themselves, just papers that will be scanned by one device–super cool!) and Seesaw. Seesaw especially peaked my interest. After briefly playing around with it in class, I wanted to discover more about it. For those of you who may be unaware, Seesaw is essentially a place where students have their own digital portfolios that they can operate. Students post their own work, parents can view that work and teachers can evaluate where their students are at. Positive online interactions between students on these posts fosters strong digital citizenship growth.

It was then that I remembered that a grade one teacher in Regina I follow did a post WAAAAAY back in December about Seesaw. She blogs about more than education, but on Tuesdays she puts up a “Teacher Talk Tuesday” post. Since she is a grade one teacher and grade one is the grade I would love to teach in the future, I find what she has to say very relatable and helpful. Although her Seesaw post was not super in-depth about the tool, she gave a really unique insight to what teachers and students think of the tool. Here is the video that she shared in her post as well:

After going back and re-reading her post, I decided to do a little more digging to discover what others were saying about this tool. This website provides readers with a very clear cut explanation of what Seesaw is and how it is used in the classroom. VERY helpful for teachers who are doing some initial research about this tool. This website provided readers with actual teacher reviews about the tool which are extremely valuable resources to have access to. Hearing from teachers who have had positive or negative experiences with the tool are all important things to consider before using it in your classroom. The reviews appear to be overwhelmingly positive, certainly encouraging news for future teachers or teachers considering implementing this tool in their classroom.

Personally, I think Seesaw is a fabulous resource for students, teachers and parents in the classroom. It is empowering students to take initiative to share their successes in school with parents and teachers. It also gives parents a close-up look at what their children are up to each day. I love that teachers can view the submissions and give feedback as well as completing their own formative assessments of their students. If I have the resources in my future classroom (tablets or some kind of device for the children) I would love to incorporate Seesaw into my teaching practice, especially after hearing how successful the grade one’s in TeachMeStyle’s classroom are at using this tool!

What do you think? Is Seesaw something you can see yourself using in the future? What other kinds of tools would you use to complete formative assessments? Let me know in the comments!

Emily Grace.

Look at how far I’ve come…

Hello everyone!

So as I said last week, I have a REALLY REALLY good carrot cake recipe to make! (off topic but, am I the only one who ALWAYS spells recipe wrong?? recipIe? No? ok.) I have made it a few times and I always receive multiple compliments and I always respond “Man, it’s not me. It’s all in the recipe!!” But nevertheless, it’s a really good one. AND it’s from Pinterest, it’s a win win. Last week, I used Pinterest for my recipe and inspiration and it went sooo well so I figured I’d give it another go!

The first time I made this, I made it into the individual carrot shapes that the recipe suggests:

I thought it was really well explained and although cutting apart the cake was a bit tricky, the pictures were VERY crucial to my success. One of the things that I love about this particular recipe is the detailed pictures that are provided throughout the entire process. As I have shared in the past, I am a visual learner so I depend on pictures to ensure that my process is going well. I like to compare my creation to the creator’s product to make sure that I’m at least on the right track!

The first time I made this cake, it was almost exactly a year ago. I made it for a friend’s birthday. Instead of using the individual cake design as the recipe suggests, I poured the batter into 2 round cake pans and it worked just as well! Here is what my cake looked like:

At the time, I thought this cake was AMAZING! I remember being so proud of it!

For this week’s cake, I drew inspiration from the cake I made a year ago as well as these images I found on Pinterest: Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 1.56.56 PM

All the directions that I needed to make the cake, were provided on the recipe’s website. Including how to melt the orange and green candy melts.

After my cakes were cooled and cut, I filled and stacked them with cream cheese frosting and crushed pineapple. (pineapple is a MUST for me in carrot cake)

Last time I used cream cheese frosting, it was too runny so the roses that I piped did not hold their shape. This time I added a bit extra icing sugar to make the frosting a bit more stiff. Then I melted my chocolate to create my carrots. I just free-handed a quick little scribble design that slightly resembled a carrot. After I added my final coat of icing, I chopped some walnuts and covered the sides of the cake in the nuts.

Then I used a LVCC 822 tip to create the little dollops of frosting for my carrots to rest on.

And here is my final product:

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I’d say that there is a significant improvement in cakes hey? I love seeing my progress in the cakes that I’ve created. It just goes to show how much I have learned during this learning project. And it is all achieved through online sources and some experimenting. How cool is it that we can learn a new skill just by watching videos or reading how-to guides online. Technology provides us with so many cool tools to use in so many ways! I look forward to seeing what other things I can create with the help of online teachers!

I’m curious, how are your learning projects coming along? Can you see improvement in your learning? Are you enjoying using online tools to learn a new skill? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Emily Grace.