Wedding Cake

Make a Silk Purse Out of a Sow’s Ear!

Picked from the pile on the street

Picked from the pile on the street

I was walking down the street the other day, and I saw a pile of rubble in front of my neighbor’s house. As I got closer, I thought, wait a minute! That’s no pile of rubble. That’s the Rustic-Chic cake stand my future daughter-in-law described to me that she wants for the wedding. It sells for $350 on ETTSY!

I looked around for somebody to ask, but other than the four Chihuahuas and two scruffy Bijons snapping at my heels, there was nobody in sight. I slowly and deliberately picked through the pile, thinking somebody would stop me (in my mind’s eye I saw them chasing me off yelling “Stop! Thief!”) if they didn’t want anybody to take the pieces of wooden spindles and balustrades piled at my feet.

When my son, Tyler, and Colette, his fianceé,  first approached me about making their wedding cake, I smiled, nodded, and had an invisible panic attack. After the last wedding cake I made for dear friends in Nosara, (Costa Rica) I vowed: “never again!” This is another validation of the expression: “Never say never.”

The Nosara wedding was to take place at La Luna restaurant on Playa Pelada, in Guanacaste. It took me a week in the kitchen baking, freezing, decorating, and storing to prepare for the big event; there were to be 150 wedding guests, and each of the four tiers was to be a different flavored cake; chocolate fudge, made with Gran Marnier, lemon cake, infused with Limoncello, Meyers rum cake, and a piña colada layer. Being a traditionalist when it comes to wedding cakes, I insisted on adding a top tier of white cake, which was to be saved for the couple’s first anniversary.

Oh yeah, there were no kitchen or prep facilities on the premises of the wedding venue, so everything had to be done at home and transported to the reception area on the day of the wedding. The well-equipped kitchen at my folks’ home, “El Sueño de Mariana” has lots of counter space, an extra fridge in the downstairs apartment for storage, and plenty of room to lay it all out in traveling boxes to make the trip from the house on the hill to La Luna on the beach. It’s a short distance as the crow flies, but to get there by car, well, that’s another story.

Stacking cake with dowels

Cutting the dowels

Baked, frosted, ready to decorate

Baked, frosted, ready to decorate


Decorating Cake

Carole Jean decorating


It’s a dirt road riddled with pot-holes, drop-offs, sharp curves, copious silt-like dust, darting critters (mostly iguanas), speeding motorcycles, quads, bicycles, and the occasional pisote or grounded Howler monkey.  Those obstacles we could handle. It was the bumpy road itself, while we precariously balanced all five layers of the cake; that was the issue. Papa Nuevo was at the wheel staring straight ahead scrutinizing the road while my mom, Micki, clutched the sides of the cardboard box in her lap that held layer number three. She was determined to keep the edges firmly in place to keep the sides of the cake from smashing into the sides of the box; so determined that she didn’t notice the top of the cake. With every big bounce, the flat surface of the cake, made contact with her ample bosom, creating craters on the face of layer number three.

I was on my knees in the back seat, butt in the air, bracing the flat boxes with layers one, two, four, and five. Papa Don was driving about two miles an hour. The normal five-minute drive to the beach took us about twenty on this day. Nerves were on edge; other than the crunch of tires on the rocky road, there was silence in the car.

We pulled up to the bee-hive of helpers preparing the wedding site at the beach, and I breathed a sigh of relief that all the cake layers were intact.  Mom sat stone-still in the passenger seat waiting for me to relieve her of the box on her lap. When I opened the car door and saw the two white circles of frosting on her bazongas, I shrieked with laughter! Her puzzled expression dissolved when she looked down to where I was pointing at her chest, and now we were both howling. Papa Nuevo was busy toting the other parts of the cake to the cake table and didn’t notice. Fortunately, I had my repair kit with me, which was put to use all throughout the wedding, as the tropical heat kept melting off the frosting decorations.


5 tier wedding cake

Home-made Wedding Cake

When Colette, the bride-to-be, said she didn’t want a traditional cake, but preferred a “Rustic-Chic” style to go with their Ranch-Style wedding, I breathed a sigh of relief. No stacking? No dowels? No bumpy, dirt roads to maneuver in order to deliver the goods? This I can do! Plus, the wedding is in Walnut Creek, California; if there is a ‘cake disaster’ on the way to the venue, I can pick up the phone and call any number of upscale bakeries with a cake emergency and have them zip one in and place on the Rustic Chic stands my husband made from the pile of rubble on the side of the road.

Rustic cake pedestals

Rustic-Chic Cake Pedestals

And this, my friends, is the last wedding cake I’m ever making. Really. Unless, of course, if I have a grand-daughter some day, and she asks me to make hers, I might cave in.

Meanwhile, I would say, these cake pedestals, are like making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. You never know when you can turn a pile of rubble into something beautiful.

Go out and find something; somebody’s discard, and turn it into something beautiful. Maybe tear down your velvet drapes and make a ball gown out of them, like Scarlet O’Hara.

Let me know what you came up with. If you set your mind to it, you can make a sil purse out of a sow’s ear!

10 thoughts on “Make a Silk Purse Out of a Sow’s Ear!

  1. Honestly you crack me up Carole Jean. That story was the best. Love the cake stands.  Weather is cool here in Scituate Rhode Island. Brad returns on the 17 th and I on the 15th of July.  I am on a garden tour  June 27 to 30 in   Westchester N.Y. with my garden club and the to Denver for a few days to see my friend Carol who was a consevator for the  state of Colorado.  And do we find stuff to repurpose at the thrift shops in Denver.   Good luck with your  cake. I know you will do a special job. when is the wedding? Hugs Jean-Marie 


  2. Damn! I forgot to bring the velvet drapes!

    On Thu, May 22, 2014 at 3:30 PM, Carole Jean’s Capers wrote:

    > CaroleJean’ posted: ” I was walking down the > street the other day, and I saw a pile of rubble in front of my neighbor’s > house. As I got closer, I thought, wait a minute! That’s no pile of rubble. > That’s the Rustic-Chic cake stand my future daughter-in-law described to me > t”


  3. What a treasure of a find! I cannot believe the cake you made in Nosara, it is glorious, but then, so are you, so talented, so capable, so beautiful. Colette and Tyler will be beyond delighted by you, but I am sure the already are! You amaze!


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