Sunday, November 8, 2009

Are You A Happy Camper?

I hate camping.

Okay, I realize that "hate" is a strong word, so let's just say that I despise camping. I detest camping. I loathe camping. I abhor camping. I have an aversion to camping. Is that better?

I've been camping several times in my life. I have to admit that my earliest camping memories were extremely pleasant ones. I was twelve years old. But then who doesn't like camping at twelve? We had family friends who had a camp site on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire and they invited us up at least twice every summer. My sister Kathy and I loved it. Now I tell you mother would have rather thrown herself down on a bed of nails then spend a weekend communing with nature. But because they were good family friends, she went anyway.

Our friends had a swell campsite complete with a huge firepit, two huge dark green tents, a camper and a trailer. My parents (of course) stayed in the main trailer and all of the kids, five in total, slept in sleeping bags in the tents. With the bugs. Tents that smelled like mildew. But I didn't care.

I was twelve.

I loved the fact that when morning came, we jumped out of our sleeping bags and we were already dressed. How great was that? After bolting down a glass of milk and a Pop Tart, we headed down the gravelly road to the lake. Our friends had a couple of boats and all of the kids would head down to the docks and hang out around the boats all day. In fact, I can vividly recall when four of us, all ages 12 and under, took a small motorboat out on the lake by ourselves for most of the day. By ourselves. We were told by our parents to wear life jackets and to " be careful". We did and we were. What a blast! Do kids do stuff like that anymore? Why was it not such a big deal back then but in today's society, someone would probably call Social Services? Anyone?

My next camping experience was when I was 21. Myself and a group of friends decided to go camping at Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod. I borrowed a tent from a neighbor and we headed down for the weekend. I remember that there was a huge party going on at one of our neighboring campsites. It was late and they were loud. It was also really cold and had started to rain. Technically it is still "summer" at the end of August, but when you're in the the rain, you may as well be sitting on a glacier in Alaska. We ended up packing up our gear (in the pouring cold rain) and headed to friend's house in a nearby town. My friend's mother took pity on me and my shivering friends and let us stay in one of her rental cottages for the night. For free of course.

My last camping trip was about ten years ago. My good friends Donna and Bill have a place at Point Sebago in Maine. I have to say that out of all of my camping experiences, this one was by far..............the best. I stayed in a a bed......with clean, crisp sheets. It was warm and cozy. In the morning, I woke to Donna frying up bacon in a skillet just outside my window. As I sleepily emerged from the trailer, she handed me a fresh cup of coffee and directed me to a comfortable camp chair. Now THAT'S my idea of camping.

My project this week guessed it....... a camping theme. The cake was to be in celebration of a couple's 30th wedding anniversary and they were avid campers. So many options with this one. What to do? What to do? So I started with the basics...............

I shaped the tent using a firm piece of cardboard and set it down to dry for a couple of days.

I carefully carved out a section to use for the "river". In hindsight, I could have easily spread the "river" on top, but I wanted the "water" frosting to sit into the cake instead of riding on top of it.

Then I coated the cut-out "riverbed" with buttercream...

...and covered the entire cake in fondant. Please note the gaping hole in the wall behind the cake. No.........I do not have termites. It's just kitchen renovation "stuff".

I used a piece of clear plastic to shape and form the waterfall. I didn't want the "water" to just come down straight and stick to the cake. Water going over the edge of something sort of arcs outward, then down. Aren't you terribly impressed with the creative thought process used?? (insert rolling of the eyes here)

So I coated the plastic with buttercream and attached it to the edge of the top layer of cake.

I initially wanted the waterfall to end up in a little pond, but I ran out of space.

There's always a little "stinker" on every camping trip, right?

Stories anyone???

This was my first visualization of the legs inside the tent, but I thought it looked a little too "Tony Soprano-ish", so I opted for a more playful they're still BREATHING.

See? This is much better. More fun, but I really need a class in the fine art of toe sculpting. Or maybe I just need a stronger prescription for my glasses. It's hard to do a clean finish on something so small. Next time I'll need to use some teeny tiny fondant tools. And a giant magnifying glass. And a searchlight with 100,000 candlepower. Moses, I think I need brighter bulbs!

Don't you just love the smell of a campfire??? What does it remind you of? (Please note that all Firefighters are exempt from this line of questioning) I am mentally whisked away to the state of New Hampshire. Live Free or Die, baby. Or maybe it just gives me a New Hampshire state of mind. I don't know. It reminds me of warm blankets, rustling brightly colored Fall leaves and hot chocolate. (Ahh, yes, of course you knew that chocolate had to be included in there somewhere.) Yes, we have campfires and bonfires in Massachusetts too, but for some reason it doesn't conjure up the same snug feeling. I just love it.

This vaguely reminds me of one of the tents at Lake Winnipesaukee, only this one doesn't smell of mildew. The "trees" are fondant covered Oreo Ice Cream Cones......nibbled cut down to fit, of course.

Cool rushing water. Looks good enough to eat, doesn't it? Oh wait.

You can.

So tell me your stories......I'm dying to hear them.


Anonymous said...

Happy Camper? How could anyone not pleased and happy with this cake? You are truly talented Annie. Thank you for the compliments on our camping trip to Maine, but I think you forgot about the best one yet......the skating camping trip? Now that deserves it's own separate blog don't you think.... Maybe you could design a cake for it....starting with tents and adding water, water, water and more water..... Love you

Jonathan and Janessa said...

The cake looks great.

We had a big family camping trip a few years ago. Originally my sister had been planning on bringing her dog, but decided against it at the last second. While we were sitting around the camp fire I saw a "dog" almost brushing up against her leg and I thought to myself, "I guess she changed her mind and brought the dog after all." Then I realized it was a skunk. I had to very carefully tell her not to freak out because there was a skunk right by her leg. The skunk hung out with us for a while and eventually wandered off without spraying any of us. We all held very still while it was around.

Kara said...

Looks great! 2 memorable camping experiences- 1: girls camp when I was about 14. The leaders warned us not to leave food in our tents but there were a few girls who thought that was silly and left some chips under their cot. In the middle of the night we were woken up by 3 skunks in the tent! Most of the girls ran screaming from the tent but a friend and I were too scared too move until one of the adult leaders came in and herded the skunks out. Luckily they didn't spray us. 2: My first camping trip after getting married. We had an 8month old baby and borrowed my families tent, but no sleeping bags, we just had a couple blankets. It suddenly poured rain and the babies only pacifier got misplaced and he wouldn't go to sleep so we had to go out in the dark to search for it on the muddy ground.

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOSH!! YOU NEVER CEASE TO AMAZE ME!! Camping cake with (sorta)running waterfalls!! Amazing! Simply Amazing!!

To answer your question - my "camping aversion" doesn't fall far from the tree!

Once the Bill, George, Lisa and I went camping down at the lake in my parents back yard. It was cold so the boys let the fire burn throughout the night until I rolled over the fire. Bill and George woke up to me moaning and groaning with smoke coming from under my sleeping bag.

The last time I went was with George and his family about 15 years. George gave me a blow up mattress and placed it on the back of his truck. Fresh sheets and all!! My sweet 5 year old son, (yep. James) forgot to go "potty" before he went to bed and since he slept with me... You guessed it! I woke up wet and cold around 2 am. I sat on the edge of the truck, freezing and afraid to move for fear of a snake and/or bear waiting in the dark. The sun couldn't rise fast enough for me to find my way to the showers!

After that I vowed - My ideal camping trip... a nice warm bed in a comfortable hotel!

Forget the smores I'll take the chocolate covered strawberries!

Great post & great job! Marg.;-)

Finnskimo said...

Hmm, you don't want to hear my camping stories. I've never "camped" with electricity or a car or pretty much anything. We just set out with a gun and a boat and a tent and find some trees to put the tent up, sleep in caribou skins, and hunt until we catch our fall quota! And we do this every single weekend that either you can A) boat on the water, or B) drive on the frozen water with a snowmachine and sled. :) I always laugh about other people's "camping" stories. Last winter we had to cut short cause a polar bear was hanging around and we didn't want to be eaten. But, everyone has a gun (including my kids) so we're pretty "safe!"

Welcome to my world.

P.S. My kids drive whatever they want around town here, and on the ice. Here's my 6 year old on her snowmachine while we were out fishing...

Yay for camping...even in the Arctic!!!

The Amazing Trips said...

Well, all I can say is that you better get your camping game ON because next year - we will be camping in little pink tents in DC. That's right baby. You, me, Maggie, Lisa, Karen, Eileen (she doesn't know it yet), and ... wait for it ... wait for it ... REGINA. She said that she is "considering it" which actually means she is SO TOTALLY IN.

I LOVE camping. But it's all about having the right gear. Believe me, there is nothing like snuggling up in a sleeping bag that's rated to 20 below zero and watching the stars. It's purely awesome. (Except when it's monsoon season. Did you see my mother's e-mail?!)

LOVE the cake. GREAT job!!

EDNurseasauras said...

I love camping. At the Hilton.

Lisa said...

I am sitting here in just AWWWW This cake is just amazing...gaping whole or not.

Mary Elizabeth says "That is a good cake." Just so you know...She likes it!

Sabrina said...

I loathe camping. The bugs, the dirt, the nature...yuck. I hate everything about it.

Anonymous said...

Conversation between two of your young admirers in the south:

Brian: "Hey Mom, Whach-she doing this time?"
Alexander: "What type of cake is it? Wow."
Brian: "Huh. Those feet are pretty good. Really cute"
Alexander: "What do you think it taste like?"
Brian: "hm. I don't know but...Hey! Can I have some icecream?"
Alexander: "Hey, Mom? Why can't you make cakes like that?"
Brian: "Well. Mom...make a cake like that? Geez Al - you should know by now that's not Mom's talent. Only Aun; huh Anne Marie... Mom what is she to us anyway?"
Alexander: "She's Mom's cousin Brian and a great cook! Hey. Mom What's your talent?"
Brian: "Huh. Hell - if I know! I wish Mom'd learn how to do some of that stuff. Can I have some icecream now?"

Love, Marg.