Tag: Anya

Using Excel To Decrypt ROT

Anya has made us a scavenger hunt complete with clues — clues that are encrypted! While working out a ROT-1 or ROT-2 decryption isn’t terribly difficult, it was getting a little time consuming [especially when what was advertised as ROT-1 was actually ROT-(25) and I had to do it all over again!], so I made a quick spreadsheet to decrypt strings. The letter pairs are in the first two columns, then VLOOKUP is used to convert the printed character to the actual one. I found a trick card!

Future Idea — Anya Job

Scott had a business idea for Anya — mobile concession stand at the park next door. To me, it seems an easy sell in their off-season — have thermoses of hot cocoa and mulled cider. But he was thinking in the summer, selling their ice cream and bottled water.

Anya’s 6th Birthday Cake

This year, I made a really cool apple cake for Anya’s birthday. It’s about 80% apple — very thinly sliced.

It’s called Gateau Invisible


  • 1 pound Fuji apples
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3/4 cup flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Peel and core apples. Slice into very thin slices. Soak in lemon water.
  3. Wisk eggs until they are frothy and add sugar.
  4. Add milk and melted butter.
  5. Sift the flour into liquid mixture.
  6. Add sliced apples and stir gently to coat apple slices in batter.
  7. Pour the batter into a parchment lined bread loaf pan.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes, cover with foil, then bake for another 10 minutes.
  9. Remove from pan and allow to cool
  10. Pour caramel sauce over cake and serve.

Caramel Sauce


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  1. Melt butter in a small pan.
  2. Add sugar and heat until sugar turns a medium brown.
  3. Add heavy cream and wisk to combine.

Anya’s 5th Birthday Cake

I made a cake with red beets for Anya’s birthday cake. I roasted the beets instead of boiling them. Then replaced the espresso with beet juice (mostly because I had it in the pan after roasting the beets). Finally I used 7 oz of carob chips along with three tablespoons of a triple cocoa powder blend. To make it a little fancier, I made a small layer cake with the mascarpone between the layers.

I covered the cake with a stabilized whipped cream flavoured with raspberry and added fresh raspberries to to the top. The cake what what I imagined a red velvet cake was before it became white cake with red dye – a deep reddish brown colour. Very moist and dense in spite of the whipped egg whites folded into it.

Raspberry Whip Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup fresh raspberry purée (seeds strained out)
1 packet unflavoured gelatin
2 tablespoons superfine sugar

Dissolve gelatin in the raspberry purée.

Begin whipping the cream in a stand mixer. Slowly add in the sugar. Leave the mixer run and heat up the gelatin per instructions. Allow to cool a bit but don’t let it set. Drizzle raspberry mixture into cream and continue whipping to the soft peak state.

Since I was using this as a cake ‘frosting’, I immediately applied it to the cake and allowed it to set on the cake. Before the gelatin set:

After gelatin has set:

Anya got to wear her new birthday party skirt too!

Easter Dress – Fabric Acquisition

I purchased a pattern for Anya’s Easter dress almost a year ago. I wanted the bodice and outer skirt to be blue with a sparkly white fabric as the inner skirt. I am going to make a booster cushion for Anya, and I needed to add about ten dollars to my order to get free shipping. Fabric keeps 🙂

We have a bright-ish dark blue for the main fabric, and one of the Michael Miller Fairy Frost glittery fabrics for the inner circle skirt (which will also be used for the sash and bow).

Anya’s 4th Birthday Cake

This year, I made a banana caramel cake for Anya’s birthday. She assembled her own cake & put the candles on it – messy, but she had a lot of fun. I’d have done more dulce de leche if it wasn’t melting the whipped cream. I made it in the pressure cooker – 15 mins on high @ about 10AM, let the whole thing sit until we made the cake. Microwaving the caramel enough to get it pourable made it too hot to be near the whipped cream. So we spread the caramel on the cake, let that cool a bit, then spread out the cream and topped it with bananas.

Chocolate Chip Butter Cake


    • 3 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting the pans
    • 3 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for coating the pans
    • 2 cups granulated sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 4 large eggs
    • 2 large egg yolks
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat to 350 F.
  2. Coat three 8″ round cake pans with butter. Line the bottoms of the pans with a circle of parchment paper. Lightly butter the parchment. Dust with flour.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder together.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until lightened and fluffy. Add the eggs and yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times while beating.
  5. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add half of the sifted dry ingredients and beat by hand until combined. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla. Add the remaining dry ingredients and the chocolate chips, beating until combined.
  6. Divide the batter among the pans .
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  8. Set the pans on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks, peel off the parchment, and let cool before frosting.

Whipped cream — mix 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, 2 tbsp maple syrup, and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla. Whip until firm peak stage.

Dulce de leche — Pour one can of sweetened condensed milk into a canning jar. Place lid on jar and lightly screw on. Place canning jar in the pressure cooker pot and add enough water to come about halfway up the side. Pressure cook on high for 40 minutes followed by a fifteen minute natural steam release. Remove jar from pressure cooker and allow to cool for another ten minutes. Open jar and stir to smooth out the caramel.


Assembling the cake — take a cake, cover in caramel, top with whipped cream, add slices of bananas, and then add another cake. I sliced off the domes of each cake to ensure the whole thing was relatively flat and stable.