Monday, April 28, 2014

My First Call to Action

I discovered Icing Smiles at a cake convention last summer. Icing Smiles is a nonprofit organization that provides custom cakes to families impacted by the critical illness of a child. It seemed like the perfect fit, right? I was about three months out of my own cancer treatment, so I knew just how easy it would be for parents to forget something like a birthday cake in the middle of juggling appointments and treatments and medication schedules. Serious illness is time-consuming, y'all. Plus, I was just about to open the beautiful, geeky bakery- of course I signed up!

I got my first Call to Action a few weeks ago. A family in a town not-too-far from here has a son with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. I had to google that one. It's his ninth birthday and he wanted a Star Wars LEGO cake. Gosh, who do we know that would love to make a Star Wars LEGO cake? ME! I was so excited. My first Call to Action was a perfect fit. Because I love Star Wars... and Star Wars loves me:

I'm not that short in real life
As the information came in from Icing Smiles and from the family, I found out this one was to be a double smile. The medical child has a sister who is eleven months younger than he, and they were having a joint party. Icing Smiles asked if I'd mind making her a cake, too. Hers was to be a celebration cake (and therefore less elaborate) than the Star Wars dream cake, but I still wanted it to be special. And so, the planning began. Templates and emails, looking at pictures online... so much to do!

The best part of being an Icing Smiles baker is that you get to design the cake. The family can request theme, flavors, and inscriptions... but the actual design can be anything you want. If there's something you've been really wanting to try, you can do it on an Icing Smiles cake. As a cake decorator, that's pretty exciting.

**Now, before the story goes any further, there's a little disclaimer: This Icing Smiles Call to Action, like EVERYTHING we do at Cakeapotamus, is not typical. I got lucky, y'all. Very lucky. I got a cake request with a theme I love and am familiar with. I got a family that was... what's the word for more precious than precious? And the mom? So nice, so easy, so fun to work with, so open to all my crazy ideas. If all those stars hadn't aligned, this magic might not have been possible. But the stars *did* align, enough with the writing, bring on the pictures:

Star Wars LEGO cake:
I made a template, and then made some molds off of my kids' LEGOS so that I wouldn't have to cut a million LEGO bumps by hand: 
This was the mold's first attempt... other, better molds came later

I got Mr.Cakeapotamus to build a cake base so that the cake could be a little bit elevated off the board. Here it is all covered in fondant, ready for cake:
It's a pretty big board- this cake is gonna be big.
Then I started adding cake:
Chocolate, he requested
And icing:

And details:
I didn't worry about the mushy ends there because I knew I was going to carve them out for LEDs

And LEDs:
Boom, LEGO Millenium Falcon cake: 

Next: the sister's cake.
Originally, the sister's celebration cake was requested as a LEGO Friends theme to coordinate with her brother. But as I got to working on the special extras for the Star Wars cake, I realized I couldn't do anything similar for her with a LEGO Friends theme. And that just wasn't fair. I asked the mom if the sweet sister was, by chance, into princesses at all because you KNOW we do princesses around here. Luckily, the sweet birthday girl was open to a princess theme:

The special extras:
Since this was my very first Smile, and since... you know... Cakeapotamus... I wanted this cake delivery to be extra special. Remember that awesome mom? She and I did a little scheming... I made some phone calls... she kept some secrets at home... and, together, we worked out a pretty great surprise for the kids.

"Wouldn't it be cool," we wondered, "if, say, Darth Vader were here when the kids come to pick up their Star Wars cake? And maybe the little mermaid for the princess cake?" You know that the princesses of Princessious host parties at the bakery- getting the little mermaid here was no problem. And the 501st- you know those guys are always up for helping out on something like this. And so, secret plans were made for a little extra magic.

THIS is absolutely what I would want to see if I was coming to pick up my birthday cake.
Getting a princess cake from the little mermaid? Come on! Magic!
I met them outside for a little intro before they walked into the shop.
In they came
 Have you ever seen such precious children?
"Do I look at the sandtrooper?"
"...or the cake?"
"... or Vader?"
That smile.
I love this picture.
A quick lesson in how to turn off your cake LEDs
Princess time!
Everything is just better with a princess around.
All of us.
Precious. I wanted to keep them.
If I were you, I would have noticed there, a picture or two ago, that this family actually has four precious children. And, if I were you, I would have been concerned about the littlest ones being nervous of the big, terribly accurate movie villains in the room. Don't worry:

The younger ones did just fine. 
And once big brother shook Vader's hand...
...then everybody was cool with him
It's cake, y'all. It's supposed to be fun.
That's my first Smile. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Here's the thanks:
All I did was make the cakes and the phone calls. The real magic came from others:
Thanks for the cake board, Doss! Thanks for being the bakery paparazzi, Chris and Mike! Thanks for being so awesome to work with, Chastin! Thanks for the whimsy Shanna, Matt, and Clark! Thanks for helping me keep Vader safe, Laine!