Guest Chick Monday with Author Cheryl Alldredge

Welcome back, Charlee!  One very lucky commenter will win a copy (pdf or print) of her brand new novella, Ladybugs and Fireflies!

Cheryl Alldredge is a long time fan of love, adventure, and happily ever afters. She grew up in Florida where a huge fallen oak tree in the swampy woods near her home served as her very own Star Ship Enterprise. Luckily the alligators were almost never a problem on her space ship as the flight deck was several feet above the muddy ground. She did lose a few tennis shoes on away missions, though. Her first short novel, Ladybugs and Fireflies, is a contemporary romance set in her home state of Florida. Cheryl blogs about books, life, and Florida at http://cherylalldredge.wordpress.com/ and all things SciFi at http://smartgirlsscifi.wordpress.com/. You can also find her at her website at http://www.cherylalldredge.com/ or on Good Reads at http://www.goodreads.com/cheryl_alldredge.

Thanks, Chicklets, for giving me this opportunity to talk about a very special cake. In a bit I’m going to offer some decorating tips, but first the story behind the cake.

I recently helped my son celebrate his 22nd birthday. When we talked a few weeks earlier, he informed me that he’d be okay if we didn’t do anything this year since he’s past the age where birthdays matter. Well, I wasn’t going to let that go. It has been a difficult year for him. After being out on his own for several years, he had to move back home. Until recently he was unemployed and relying solely on me to support him. A hard blow for an independent young man.  So, what’s a mother to do to remind her son that he’s special and that his birth is worth celebrating? Make a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Cake!

The TMNT cake was his favorite from age five to eight. At the time, we were struggling financially. I was a single mom trying to make ends meet, but we still managed to celebrate. I wanted to remind him how much fun we had together then, even when times were difficult. It worked like a charm. He was thrilled that I’d not only saved that old cake pan, but that I’d taken the time to make the cake. It didn’t turn out perfect, but that didn’t matter. It was the love behind it that made it special.

The main characters in my recently released novella, Ladybugs and Fireflies, each came from families who’d struggled through hard times. Those struggles shaped Taylor and Callie, causing them both trouble and joys on their journey toward love. In this story I wanted to show that life is complicated and messy, but family and love accepts imperfections.

So back to the cake! If you’ve never tried a specialty cake, I urge you to give it a try. Don’t worry that it might turn into a big mess. It will still be a sugary delicious splurge even if you have to eat it with a spoon. If you decide to try, here are some tips.

♥ Specialty cake pans usually come with instructions. Hang on to those! They can be very helpful.

♥ Specialty cake pans often have lots of bends and contours. Be sure to grease and flour the pan carefully before pouring in the batter. Use your fingers if you need to! You don’t want to end up with the cake sticking to the pan.

♥ Let the cake cool thoroughly before icing. You don’t want your icing to soften and run.

♥ If the cake doesn’t rise evenly use a big bread knife (serrated edge) to carefully trim the excess from the flat side of the cake.

♥ Make sure the icing you use is suitable for cake decorating. You can use the kind that comes in a tube at the grocery store or make your own, but make sure it’s decorator icing.  It needs to be stiff enough to hold shapes.

♥ Whether you’re using the decorator tube or bag with tips, be sure to get any air pockets out by kneading the tube or bag. Also, practice shapes (such as stars) on wax paper first.

♥ Don’t be afraid to substitute colors or deviate from the pattern to make it your own.

Have fun and make some memories! If you have already made a specialty cake, please share your tips in the comments. If you haven’t, but you think you might give it a try, share what type of cake you plan to make. I look forward to your comments!

What people are saying about Ladybugs and Fireflies:

“I fell in love with feisty Callie and sexy Taylor and you will too, run out and buy a copy as the book is great summer reading! ”     ~Jackie Burris, Amazon Reviewer

“Red-blooded, classic romance with heart!”     ~Bella Street, Amazon Reviewer

Ladybugs and Fireflies is a nice read for summer cottages or winter getaways.  ~Alberta of ManicReaders.com

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37 thoughts on “Guest Chick Monday with Author Cheryl Alldredge

  1. How fun is that? I don’t have specialty cake pans, but I do love personalizing decorations. I love making a big cookie cake on a cookie sheet and the birthday boy gets to write “Happy Birthday” on it with frosting, leaving a spoonful for his tummy, of course! *laugh* They haven’t really been in to anything for me to think about buying a pan for it.

    You’re such a good mom. 🙂

    • I do cookies for my parents sometimes. It is a novelty for them.

      I love that you get the boys involved in decorating. That will be a memory they will always have.

      • The especially love the frosting that comes with jimmies. It makes a mess, but it’s fun to sprinkle them everywhere.

        Cookie cakes are SO GOOD!!!

  2. That’s the cutest darn cake! I love that you made it for him again–I know it must have been an extra special birthday. You’re the best!

  3. The only time I made anything close to a speciality cake was when I made a heart-shaped cake for the youth Valentine’s banquet. It was beautiful, a strawberry cake with white icing and red sprinkles.

    Except…I didn’t place it on the counter correctly and the thing slid onto the floor! Kudo’s to anyone who can get a speciality cake to the recipient!

    I love your book cover!

    Selena

  4. Awesome cake and totally fun!! I agree, ur a good mom n I’m gonna one up n say, ur also a good daughter 🙂 xoxo

  5. That cake is amazing! I have a friend who does stuff like this and I almost can’t bear to cut into it.

    I can’t help but think what fond memories you’ve given your son. He’s going to be telling stories to his children for years to come.

    I’m not much of a baker. Okay, the truth is I am wasted on this chef’s kitchen I inherited. But I do like to make cookies.

    • Cookies can be a lot of fun. You can bake them in a sheet and decorate with decorator icing or do fun stuff with shapes and glaze icing.

      Thanks for stopping by, Maria!

  6. What a cute cake! Since my son lives on the west coast, and I now live in the mid-west, making him a cake isn’t practical. And my cake skills are more in the baking less in the decorating.

    But I do call him and sing the Good Morning song at 6 my time which is 4 his… He doesn’t answer…..

    I saw an Inspector Gadget shirt the other day at Target I might wrap up and send him next week.

  7. The only specialty cake I ever made didn’t require special pans. I have some of my mom’s old cookbooks. One of them is a Betty Crocker edition from the 1960s and it has instructions for how to make a cat cake out of two 9-inch round layers. Well, my daughters saw that in the cookbook, and we had to make it. I’m just glad they didn’t insist on making the gingerbread house at Christmas. I used to drool over that picture every year when I was a kid, but my mom always insisted it was too much trouble. I’d probably have done the same had my kids wanted to make it.

  8. I learned to cook back in the olden times, even before cake mixes. Here are two lessons I learned.
    Granulated sugar cannot be substituted for powdered sugar in an uncooked icing recipe. It’s like eating sweet sand.
    Playing with food coloring is a dangerous thing. No one will eat an aqua blue cake that tastes like sand.
    Cooking from scratch is way over rated. Don’t be brave. Go to the store and buy the boxes and cans of stuff. Your family will thank you.
    Like Charlie, you can put your artistic talent into creating a masterpiece to be loved and remembered forever.
    Although I doubt anyone has forgotten the cake that tasted like sand. They never let me forget either.

  9. Hi Charlie! I think that’s the sweetest thing ever that you made your adult son a Ninja Turtle cake. Makes me want to run up to Tallahassee and make my son one! Not Ninja Turtle necessarily, but still – same idea. Very sweet.

    I’d love to hear more about your novel. The title alone, Ladybugs and Fireflies, is awesome. I’ve always wanted to write a book called Butterflies and hand grenades – but I have no clue what it would be about. (grin)

    So tell me about your book?!!!

    • Butterflies and hand grenades? Is that anything like horseshoes and hand grenades? As in… close only counts in horsehoes and hand grenades?

      Ladybugs and Fireflies is a short contemporary romance about two people seeing past all their superficial differences to really see each other for who they really are. Callie and Taylor are on opposite sides of a court case and each represents (on the surface) everything the other most despises. Together they learn to look deeper to their core values of doing what’s right and valuing family. You can find the blurb on my website (linked from my name in the comments).

      Thanks for asking!

  10. I cannot cook and can barely boil water which is one of the reason you rarely find me over here visiting the Chicks…but you had me at cake! : )

    So fun! Great post, Charlie.

  11. Charlie you really brought back memories with the TMNT cake, never had one but remember when my nephews had a birthday one year my MIL who is a wonderful baker/decorator got the pan and made each of them a cake… They were little kids whose grandma gave them the coolest cake ever of any of their friends and believe me the little kid in your 22 year old was crowing with glee when you presented him with his birthday cake… You already know I love Ladybugs and Fireflies so I just had to come stop and read the post and let you know that you did good and sharing on Twitter!

  12. Aw, what a great mom you are, Charlie! Love the TMNT! My girls aren’t into them, but I did get Husband a TMNT lunchbox while he was in grad school. And yes, he did use it : )

    Congrats on the book! It sounds wonderful and that cover is lovely!

  13. Great post!

    I love that you made him the special cake. I’m glad I read your post. I was just thinking about getting rid of the old cake pans but now, I think I’ll hang on to them a little longer.

  14. I love, love, love this post, Charlie-girl! How cool is that our sons are the same age and both were totally into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? May I borrow your pan to make one for B for his next birthday? 🙂

    I’ve made lots of decorated cakes, but only once did one from a specialty mould. It was a teddy bear for my middle son’s 2nd birthday. I don’t know why I never did another one like it. My kids have always requested my homemade chocolate Miracle Whip cake with chocolate buttercream icing, but since their parties were so big I’d order an additional cake from one of my sister’s friends. She made the coolest character cakes. I used to make a heart-shaped cake every Valentine’s using one square pan and one round (cut the round in half and crown adjacent sides of the cake to form a heart then frost).

    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful birthday story with us, and giving away a copy of your awesome new book!

  15. I wrote down the names of all the commenters (excluding the blog owners) and numbered them 1-10. I shouted out to my husband to pick a number and it was Lynn Cahoon’s! Email me at lisanneharris@cox.net to tell me which you’d prefer–PDF or a print copy of Ladybugs and Fireflies. 🙂

  16. Pingback: Visiting friends on the web! « Cheryl Alldredge

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