April 25, 2017

Baking My First Wedding Cake.

Hello friends! Guess what? I baked my first wedding cake! OK, I'm sort of lying. Technically, this isn't my first wedding cake, per say. I have done one once before but that was alongside a friend (a.k.a I had someone to share all the stress and balance out the crazy emotions with).

Whereas this time around, it was all me, 100% me. (Note: I did have some help at the very end, but I'll get to that later!)
Plus, the first wedding cake I did was completely different from this one! It was an 8" round cake with fondant, sugar flowers, and cupcakes on the side. The wedding cake I did this time around was made up of TIERS, frosted with buttercream, and decorated with real greenery.

I wrote this blog entry so that I could share with you what this wedding cake journey was like for me, and perhaps encourage a fellow baker or two that you don't have to be a "professional cake designer" to execute a beautiful wedding cake. If I can do it, so can you!! So, let's start from the beginning, shall we?

Back in the Fall after our good friends got engaged, I received a pretty little card in the mail from the future-bride-to-be that said: will you do us the honour of baking our wedding cake for our wedding on April 1st, 2017?
How could I ever say no?! Even having zero knowledge of the details of this wedding except for the date, there was no gut-wrenching feeling inside of me that was like: this really isn't a good idea...
Plus, there wasn't a confidence issue here for me. There's a huge difference in me reaching out to them and asking them to let me do their wedding cake versus them reaching out to me. THEY wanted ME to do their cake! You don't ask someone to bake a cake for such a grand event if you don't have confidence in their skills. Right?! Right.
The only way I would have ever declined the honour would be if we weren't going to be available during that time and couldn't even make it to the wedding to be guests. But, we were definitely attending this wedding, especially because my husband was given the honour of being the Best Man! (You could say that the two of us were quite involved in this event!)

I then replied via email (her requested form of correspondence) exclaiming a big "YES"! I also included a little "warning" that this would be my first solo wedding cake endeavour and that if she could bear with my planning-process-inexperience that that would be MUCH APPRECIATED. I then followed with a few questions in regards to her vision for the big day:
Indoor or outdoor?
Colour palate?
Rough estimation of guest count?

Her answer:
Indoor! (For a baker it's always nice to hear the word "indoor" because you don't have to deal with hot and humid temperatures melting your buttercream frosting. Can you imagine seeing your wedding cake melting all over the dessert table?! I prefer to use an all-butter frosting recipe, because of its "melt in your mouth" quality. An outdoor wedding would have meant I would have had to use shortening in the recipe to add stability.)
Theme: Vintage Elegance with additions of "fresh" elements to add life in contrast to the deadness outside.
Colour Palate: Sage green, sea mist green, greys, and golds. My face: 😍
Guest count estimation: 100 guests. (Phew. It's a good feeling knowing that my very first wedding cake is just for 100 people and not 400 people!)
Location: A two hour drive away! (Not bad, not bad at all. I can totally deal with that in regards to cake-transporation.)

I then requested that she hit up Pinterest and Google Images and send me all of her wedding cake inspirational photos. And let me tell you, this bride has incredible taste! (Am I just saying that because it's quite similar to my taste in cake? Hehehe!) One or two of the photos she sent me did involve fondant which made me a tad nervous. I told her that I'm not a fondant connoisseur--(nor do I really desire to be), BUT I wouldn't rule it out because I am willing to learn and grow my skills in all areas. The call was hers! With that being said, I was SO happy when she responded with saying she was perfectly fine with a fondant-free wedding cake! (Plus, it's way cheaper to go without fondant, you guys!)

All of the planning that was involved in this wedding cake was long and drawn out. Since the moment I received that little card in the mail, this cake was something that was always on my mind. Sometimes it would perch itself at the forefront taking on an anxious demeanour; whereas other times it would be in the back of my mind, patiently and excitedly waiting for the day it could make its big entrance to the top of my to-do list!

Thanksgiving came and went and so did a very busy Christmas holiday season. Christmas was so busy that I didn't even have an ounce of energy to put into the planning of this cake.
For those of you who don't know, I work a full-time job. Ten hours a day, five days a week I am at work. It's not like I have an office job where I can dilly-dally on Pinterest while I'm working. I work in a kitchen--a very physically demanding job where I don't even have the time nor the energy to put thought into things outside of work. This means that the only time to plan this wedding cake were the few hours I had in the evening between getting home from work, making dinner, and getting ready for bed, or weekends. The beautiful thing was that it was December, meaning I still had three whole months until the wedding cake was due. Phew! That thought definitely helped me sleep--somewhat--soundly at night.

January of 2017 was even busier as I was sick twice that month (a true rarity for an immune system like mine!) and Jarryd's Mommom (Translation for my Canadians: Grandmother) passed away. Countless hospital visits, funeral planning, and days/nights of grief completely took over our lives during that time.

I would say it was the end of February when things REALLY started to get rolling for this cake. It was then, that the bride and I finally decided on the flavour of the cake, the filling, and the frosting. It would be a: moist buttery white cake, with a GLORIOUS lemon cream filling (made of whipped cream and cream cheese), surrounded by a sweet and tart lemon buttercream frosting. An excellent, excellent choice I must say. (Like I said before, this bride has incredible taste in regards to anything and everything!)

The next step was to find the most perfect and delicious recipes for the cake, filling, and frosting and then bake and whip them into fruition! Once I found the recipes I wanted to use, I began the testing process. THIS step was one that took a huge weight off of my chest.
In the world of baking, there are thousands of voices online all telling you different things, which is enough to give you a headache. Some people online said "if you've never made a tiered wedding cake before, you must make a practice one before the wedding, just to be safe."
Sooo...are you telling me that on top of working a full-time schedule and being away from my apartment for 10 hours a day, that I need to construct an exact replica of the three-tiered cake that I'm planning to make for the wedding? Do you know how expensive that would be?! Sure I could maybe attempt to sell the top tier as it's a reasonably small size, but what am I supposed to do with the other two tiers that would feed a TON of people?!

I made a personal decision to shy away from that advice for a few reasons:

1) I don't have the time.
2) I don't have the money.
3) I don't want to risk wasting cake (a.k.a, wasting food, time, and money).
4) I believe that if I took the time to read other peoples wedding cake experiences via their blogs, learn from their mistakes, take their tried and true advice, watch Youtube tutorials on how to stack cake tiers, research and take notes on every little crucial detail that goes into baking a successful wedding cake, then my cake would be just fine!
5) Most importantly, l had the confidence in myself to build a tiered cake. I mean, if you're feeling scared to death about assembling your layers, frosting straight edges, stacking your tiers, and truly fear that your cake is going to completely fall over no matter what, then perhaps you should think about baking a "first draft" replica of the wedding cake. It's cliche but I'll say anyway: confidence is key and endurance is key! Believe in your skills, and don't let one failure hold you back from trying again.

With that said, I did NOT bake a "practice" three-tiered cake before the wedding to test out the recipes. Instead, I baked a cute little 6" round two-layer cake! I poured the white cake batter into the tiny 6" round pans, I completely butchered the first batch of cream filling gently folded up the second batch of lemon cream filling, and then whipped together the lemon buttercream frosting. I stacked the layers, filled between them, and frosted the sides (in a very on-trend rustic style, might I add)!
After getting some good shots of it, of course, I brought the little tester cake on over to my in-laws for a fun-filled evening of Dominos-Mexican Train! Can I get a: "Choo choo"? As I handed out slices of the cake I told them to PLEASE give me honest feedback about the flavour and texture as this recipe is intended for a wedding cake.
A wedding cake to be served to 100 people. 100 mouths. 100 tastebuds. 100 stomachs. 100 brains all with 100 memories of what the wedding cake was like at that one wedding they last went to on the 1st of April in the year of 2017.
Me, along with five others tried a slice of cake and it got rave reviews. Not a single person said they would change a thing! PHHEEEEWWWW!! Really? Not ONE thing? Nope. Nothing! Apparently, it was perfect. (Even to my husband's super-discriminating-palate it was perfect!) Some of them even wrapped up extra slices for later, which is always a good sign!

Their opinions were incredibly important to me because I only started caring for lemon cake or ANY lemon dessert for that matter just recently. During my whole childhood and early adulthood I avoided lemon desserts like the plague, and heavens knows why because they're actually SO good! So now at 26 years of age, I don't even know what a lemon cake is supposed to taste like. How much lemon is too much lemon, right?!
Plus, I also valued their opinions because I've learned to welcome constructive criticism with open arms. Trust me on this one! If you want to get anywhere in life in regards to building your character and skills, constructive criticism needs to be your friend! It felt good to know that not only did I have the confidence in my skills to put a wedding cake together, but so did my husband, my friends, and my family. Having all of their support was a huge encouragement for me!

Now that I had my three recipes picked out, tweaked, and perfected, I had to decide what size of pans I'd be baking the cake layers in. As I mentioned before, it's SO hard to find a straight answer on the internet in regards to baking a wedding cake. There are countless opinions out there all shouting different things at you. Since I am writing this blog post from a hindsight perspective, I can say with full confidence that choosing the correct size of cake pans that will be enough to feed all the guests was THEE MOST STRESSFUL PART of this entire cake baking process. Isn't that funny? I feel like this is uncommon! You'd think the decorating, stacking, transporting, or even the pricing would be the most stressful, but this one TAKES THE CAKE. (Pun absolutely intended!)

I lsearched the entire internet for answers and totally exhausted Google Search. The Wilton serving size chart was telling me one thing, while some websites were dissing the Wilton chart because the serving sizes are "too small". I even went to random bakery websites and saw that their serving sizes were way bigger than Wilton's! What gives?
I wasn't totally sure what to do. I decided to go with the philosophy of: I'd rather have too much cake than not have enough. People might want seconds, right? I decided to go with a serving-size chart I found on Pinterest that offered generously sized portions.
So, two weekends before the wedding I went out and bought myself the pans I needed to bake a 12", 10", and 8" round three-tiered cake (according to my chosen chart, it was enough to feed 118 people). So, that one weekend I spent all day Saturday baking these layers.
But something kept gnawing at my insides. It was a reoccurring feeling that wouldn't leave me alone. I'd spend my days at work just thinking to myself, I don't like those sizes...they're just not right. It's amazing how quiet the conscience is and yet how loud it can be at the same time.

One day after work I looked at the website of a very prestigious and popular bakery and took note of what they said about wedding cake serving sizes. They said don't aim to feed the exact number of guests you have, rather aim to provide servings for 75% of your guests for reasons such as: not everyone likes cake, not everyone is hungry for dessert after such a big dinner, and not everyone will like the flavour of your specific cake. (Let's be real, not everyone fancies lemon cake!) So I decided that baking a wedding cake to feed more than 100 people was a bad idea. Plus, why would I make my client pay for more servings than she actually needs?

So, after more research and looking at photographic examples of my chosen tier-combinations, I realized how much I did not like the look of those cake tiers together. People on forums online were saying how an 8" topper just looks like the baker forgot to add the 6" tier, and my gut completely agreed.
It was a totally sucky feeling realizing that I had spent my precious Saturday baking all those layers for nothing and that I'd have to do it all over again the following weekend. But hey, it was something that needed to be done! You live and you learn, and sometimes you have to learn the hard way! (The thought of cutting down those already-baked layers to the desired size crossed my mind, but I didn't want to mess with the cake not being perfectly round. I figured now, with a wedding cake involved, was not the time to take chances! I wanted this cake to be perfect!)

I decided to go with a very popular and beautiful round tier combination AND use Wilton's reliable-serving size chart: 12" (56 servings), 9"(32 servings), and 6" (12 servings), which equals 100 servings in total. Perfect!
With just under two weeks until the wedding date, I still had so much to do but the top priority was to buy the appropriate pan sizes so that I could get those layers baked! Speaking of buying, Amazon Prime was my best friend during this whole process. Anytime I needed anything, I'd just hop online and then receive it in the mail two days later. And if Amazon didn't have it, it was so handy having Wal-Mart only two short minutes from us.

Another thing that I was quite unsure of was how many layers of cake to do in a tier. Judging from the lack of unity among this subject online, I reasoned that there was no "right" answer. You can bake three layers from three different pans, OR you can bake two layers in two pans, OR you can bake two layers and then torte (divide in half) each layer to form four layers! The choice is yours!
Tall cakes are very "in" right now and I love the look of them, so I decided to bake three layers in three pans for each tier size. (I changed my mind later on in regards to this, which I'll get to later!) Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday as soon as I got home from work I started baking my layers. Wednesday I did my 6" layers, Thursday I did my 9", and Friday I did my 12". (What also helped was because Jarryd would get home from work before me, he would set the dairy ingredients outside of the fridge so they could come up to room temperature by the time I'd get home.)

Because I baked the layers over a week before the wedding, I had to freeze them so they'd stay food safe. After they cooled on the wire rack, I wrapped them once. Then the next day I unwrapped it, levelled the cake with my cake leveller (it's much more successful and safer when you level cake when it's cool/cold). After levelling, I wrapped them up individually in saran wrap (over and over again like there's no tomorrow!), aluminum foil, and placed that inside of a freezer-bag and set it in the freezer! I did that process nine times--actually fifteen times if you're counting my first cake layers that were the incorrect sizes. Phew. Talk about a TON of eggs, butter, flour, and sugar!
Some of you might be thinking: wait a minute, you froze your layers?! You mean they're not freshly baked? That's crazy!
Actually, it's not. A cake layer that has been frozen (for an appropriate amount of time) actually creates a more moist cake layer.
Most if not all bakers freeze their layers and even their frostings because a project like a wedding cake needs to be done in steps--that is, if you appreciate your sanity. For someone to bake all the layers, the filling and the frosting, and decorate the cake on top of that, in the span of one or two days is just crazy. I certainly don't have the time for that and I doubt anyone else does either.

Any leftover batter I would have from baking the layers, I'd pour into cupcake liners and make cupcakes out of them. I even managed to sell a dozen over advertising among Facebook friends, by making them into adorable Easter-themed cupcakes!
Any leftover cake scraps I had from levelling the cake, I wrapped up tightly and saved because I plan to make cake pops out of them one of these days! I've never made cake pops before so I'm quite excited. (It doesn't stop with cake pops though! You can make cake crumbs out of them, ice cream toppings, trifle, or cakes-in-a-jar! Genius!)

As for the incorrectly-sized cake layers I baked the previous weekend? Well, I took the two 10" layers, whipped up a batch of the lemon cream filling and the lemon buttercream frosting, and made another practice cake! The first practice cake was specifically for flavours. This second one was to practice my buttercream-texturing skills. I'll admit, I did attempt to sell that cake over Facebook but I think it was just too big and henceforth too expensive for someone to buy over such late notice. But God has a plan for everything--there were many family members getting together over at the in-laws that weekend because Jarryd's Poppop was nearing death. So we brought the cake over there and I'm so glad we did because it was a way of contributing to a grieving family, you know? A bonus was that I got more reassurance from family members that this cake was excellent and absolutely wedding-worthy.
The actual assembly of this wedding cake was done under very unique circumstances, which I'll try to explain the best that I can. The week of the wedding I was very stretched for time as we'd spend all day at our full-time jobs, and then try to spend as much as we could at the in-laws to visit with Poppop.
On Tuesday morning Jarryd calls me at work saying that Poppop passed away, therefore that whole evening was spent at the in-laws.
We were having a guest from Canada (who was to be a groomsman in the upcoming wedding) stay at our place Wednesday night.
After taking Wednesday as a grievance day, I went back to work on Thursday and then started zesting, slicing, and juicing lemons as soon as I returned home.
Suddenly there were 8 guys in our apartment all meeting up for the bachelor party, and thankfully I wasn't the only female as Sarah (a wife of one of the groomsman) was my sidekick/assistant for the weekend! Once all of the guys left the apartment for the bachelor party, I whipped up the lemon buttercream frosting and the lemon filling, whilst catching up with Sarah. We took a much needed sustenance break: picked up pizza, McDonalds french fries (to eat with the pizza obviously), and then watched Justin Bieber's Never Say Never music documentary. Which was super informative, by the way.

I've always been one of those work-late-into-the-night-to-get-things-done type of people. Unfortunately, I couldn't continue working on this cake because all eight of those guys were returning back to the apartment to sleep and Sarah and I were about to be kicked out and sent off to sleep at her in-laws house. It wasn't a bad thing, but it also wasn't ideal since I would have preferred to have totally finished all three of the tiers on Thursday so that Friday could be as stress-free as possible. Friday I only had less than six hours to work on the cake before Sarah and I would have to take off for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner which was a two hour drive away!
Thursday before the guys returned to sleep, I managed to easily stack, fill, frost, and texture the 9" tier. Phew.
All that was left for Friday was the 6" tier, the 12" tier, the doweling, the boxing, and the transporting! Oh! Also, remember how I said each tier was going to be three layers? Well, after seeing how high two layers of cake were, I decided to keep all of the tiers at two layers except for the 6" topper, which still had three. Remember, the taller your cake is, the larger the reception venue's dessert plates need to be. I wasn't sure what their plate situation was like, but Sarah and I both agreed that three layers for all the tiers would be too tall. It was SO nice having a second opinion there with me.
One thing that made this whole process go very smoothly was how much PLANNING I put into this. I had everything planned to a T. I had all my bags packed by Wednesday, my dress and shoes were already purchased and ready-to-go. I bought all of the cake boards I needed, cake boxes, wooden dowels, cake drum, and ingredients along with extra ingredients (just in case!), all because I refused to have to run out to the store in the middle of what I was doing because I was short an ingredient or forgot to buy something. Planning brings me so much peace, especially in this field of work. Also, this might be common sense to some, but clean as you go! Don't go crazy in the kitchen without cleaning up after yourself. I like to keep a big bowl of soapy water in my sink so that when I'm done with a tool I just toss it in there and it practically cleans itself before I go to rinse it off later. I am so proud to say that we came home to a clean kitchen after the wedding was all said and done! (Believe me, I didn't always work that way!)

On Friday after the tiers were finished, I began the doweling process. (Fun fact: I had no idea until after some perusing online LAST YEAR that cakes had support sticks inside of them. I guess I just assumed that the tiers just sat on top of each other and that was that! Thank goodness I found that out before baking this wedding cake! 😆 ) Because I'd never worked with dowels before, I was a bit intimidated to stick them into my perfectly assembled cakes, but I had watched a TON of Youtube tutorials on cake doweling and stacking so that when it was time to do it, it was a total breeze! (When in doubt, make like a sponge and soak up some video tutorials! I'm a visual learner so watching somebody do something helps me learn easier than reading about somebody doing something.)
After doweling, I put each of the three tiers into their appropriately-sized cake boxes, and then we carefully loaded up the car for our two hour road trip! Guys, I was pretty nervous for the transporting part of this whole thing. And to make matters worse, it was pouring rain ALL DAY. What is more nerve-wracking than transporting three cakes two hours in a rain storm?!
Thankfully, we made it to the church safe and sound about ten minutes before the rehearsal was to start, and we placed the cakes in the church refrigerator! They were still intact, and ready to rest before their big debut tomorrow! Yay!

After a super fun rehearsal and delicious rehearsal dinner evening, the next morning was: Saturday morning, April 1st, 2017! I woke up with butterflies in my stomach, and in a weird way it felt almost the same as my own wedding day did. My nerves were unending. I kept arguing with myself because half of me wanted to get the whole day over with so I could be relieved of all this stress, but the other half was so badly wanting to savour every moment because weekends like these--a weekend of celebration with all your close friends doesn't happen too often in life.

Unfortunately, I knew I would be missing the ceremony because there was only a two hour window between the ceremony and reception to set up the cake at the venue and I wanted to give myself as much time as I could! After the months of preparation I put into this cake, there's NO way I was gonna take any chances on the wedding day. Sarah, decided to assist me during this time of set-up and she was a total God-send! I'm SO thankful that I had her there to help me!
We picked up the cakes from the church refrigerator, and transported them--for the last time ever--to the gorgeous reception venue! For real, I almost died when I saw how beautifully the reception was decorated. It was really nice when the moment we arrived, the catering manager directed us to where the cake was to be set up, and we were good to go!

We put the cake boxes down and got straight to work! Firstly, the tiers had to be stacked. This was something I had NEVER done in my entire life. I was nervous but at the same time SO ready to see my baby in all its tall textured-buttercream glory! Again, I have many a Youtube cake tutorial to thank for this part! I'm SO glad I knew that two cake boards go underneath of a cake--one that is exactly the size of the cake, and the one below is a few inches bigger than the cake for the sake of carrying purposes. (If you try to carry a cake whose cake board is the same size as the cake, your fingers are going to be making indentations all over your perfect frosting.) All you need is an offset spatula to get in between the cake boards, so you can discard of the larger one after placing the smaller one on top of the cake tier. Easy peasy!

In case any big mistakes happened during the stacking process, I brought a ton of decorating supplies including spatulas, smoothers, scissors, paper towels, piping bags, and tips. I also brought a container of lemon buttercream frosting in case we needed to apply any touch ups or worse case scenario, redo an entire tier!
Once the three tiers were perfectly stacked, 75% of my stress went away. To be honest, seeing my cakes stacked and sitting on top of that gorgeous vintage cake stand almost brought tears to my eyes. If I still didn't have decorating to do on the cake I think I would have cried tears of joy right then and there. Haha! I wonder if those welled up emotions were solely in regards to the cake or if it was that plus a combination of all the grief (from Poppops passing) and exhaustion leading up to that day. Truthfully, I wondered the same thing on my wedding day when I was standing up there at the altar--am I crying because I just need to release some serious stress or am I crying because I'm so happy? Whatever the actual reason may have been, I'd go with the same answer every time: happiness, tears of happiness!
The bride left us with a box of real potted herbs, greenery, and delicate flowers that she wanted us to decorate the cake with. Some included: Andean Silver, Dwarf Curry (my fave!!), Italian, and Common Blue Viola. They were all freshly watered and looked to be in fantastic, healthy condition! So we snipped them at the stems and started placing them along the bottom tiers of the cake. We used the photo examples that the bride had sent us earlier to inspire our decor placement. (Sarah was amazing at this!)
Guests started trickling in before we even had the little leftover snippets of plants or the cake boxes cleaned up and out of the way! I wasn't even changed into my dress yet. But thankfully, the first guests to arrive were good friends of ours so no one was offended. Haha, phew!
I quickly changed into my light pink dress (I LOVE IT--mostly because it's my favourite colour), slipped into my subtly-sparkly gold flats, whipped out my fancy camera and took as many photos of the cake as I could before too many guests arrived and were able to judge me for taking so many photos of a cake that they didn't know I made. Ha! I gotta say though, photographing the finished product is the most fulfilling part about this. Gahhhh!! Nothing can replace that feeling of: wow, I made that. Wait...did I really make that!? Yes, I really did! Eeek!
(Unfortunately, the dessert table was right in front of two windows so I couldn't get my preferred natural-photographic-lighting for the front of the cake, but that's OK.)
And the rest was history. During the reception I found myself taking little peeks at the cake from my table just to make sure that it was still standing. I mean, I didn't actually think it would fall over, there was just that something inside of me was protective of my three-tiered buttercream beauty.
There is nothing like the experience of providing the desserts for an event you also have to attend. I've done this more times than not, so you'd think I'd be used to watching people eat my cakes, but I'm not! It was nice being there in the sense that I got to see the leftover cake situation; and in fact, there was leftover cake, so I was reassured that downsizing the cake pans was 100% the right decision. (ALWAYS listen to your gut, people--no matter how much "hassle" may come with it!)
It was also wonderful being there because I would have random guests coming up to me asking, "are you the cake girl?" or "was it you who made the cake?"..."It was DELICIOUS!" "It was so beautiful!" Cue the endless blushing! It's funny how compliments from total strangers can have a greater impact on our self-esteem than compliments from our friends and family. There's the notion that friends and family HAVE to say nice things to us because they love us, right? Whereas strangers don't have to say anything to us at all because there's no "expected" obligation there.
But most importantly, both the bride AND the groom loved the cake!! And that is all that matters! 😍
I am so glad to have my "first" wedding cake experience behind me. I'm incredibly relieved that everything went smoothly and to be honest, it actually went better than I could have ever imagined! Now, the burning question is...would I do this again? Would I go through this whole experience all over again?
YES, I absolutely would! It is such a beautiful feeling having your first solo wedding cake experience behind you, because you learn so much along the way. I honestly feel like my second time around would be a total breeze because of everything I've learned (especially if I had to do the same style of cake again).
Thank you to everyone who had my back along the way! Thank you to the bride and groom who trusted and believed in my skills enough to have me bake their wedding cake! Thank you to Jarryd who always lent me a shoulder to stress-cry on and who constantly reminded me that I am skilled and GOOD at what I do!
And thank you to whoever took the time to read this blog post! (If you made it all the way to the end, I commend you!) I hope you enjoyed!! Now, don't mind me as I take a 6 month long break from baking. (Haha, we'll see how long that lasts...) 😜


  1. Wonderful! Inspiring! Beautiful!

    And I always make it to the end of your blog posts no matter how long they are.