Saturday, April 16, 2016

Minecraft cake tutorial!

Hi, everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back with some not very fresh food but I have an excuse. Minecraft mania has hit the Munoz household!
How big is this mania? Well, to give you some perspective, let me talk about what we're NOT. We don't have a TV, we don't have a Wii, Sega (do they still have those?), we're proudly low tech unless it's for work, and my kids have never seen a minute of MTV or the Disney Channel. Miley Cyrus and the Kardashians may be household words, but not in this one. We're more Shakespeare, not Snapchat. More Austen, not Instagram. We visit the library more than most people go out to eat. We're proudly off the "cultural grid" Just like certain swear words, I know there will come a time when they hear about these horrors, but until then, we're happily out of the fray. It's not because I think it will make my kids successful in business, or high powered professionals, or unique and interesting people. I just think most modern entertainment is junk.
(Disclaimer: I have friends who write for Arrow, The Flash, and Agent Carter. :D Those shows are awesome and you know I love you...)
Anyway, I grew up without a TV in a house filled with books, and I turned out okay. (I heard that!)
So, back to my story. Despite all of our alternative lifestyle decisions, somehow... somewhere... Minecraft entered our lives. (Or my sons' lives. I don't play it. I'd rather watch grass grow.)
It started small. Just watching over someone's shoulder at the library. Then a birthday concession of a free trial one of the kid laptops. Then it was the "I don't want anything for Christmas but a Minecraft account".
I resisted.
Around that time, my 12 and 10 year olds started studying coding. The worked and read and worked and read and created their own games. Suddenly, I realized... this IS educational. Not exactly in the way I would prefer, but it was inspiring them to learn new things. Both of my brothers have advanced degrees in computer engineering and one owns his own successful programming business,  but I've never equated GAMING with programming, exactly.
While all of this was happening, I was writing The Pepper in the Gumbo, about a hero who owns one of the largest gaming franchises in the country. I was long-distance interviewing the people who code these programs, hearing their passion and enthusiasm for their job, learning that games are not always a complete waste of brain cells. I'd created this hero simply as a counterpoint to my bookstore owner heroine, but I learned so much about coding an gaming, that I changed my mind.
As much as I thought it was "not something we do", it became something my family loved.
Anyway, that was last year.
 Oh, BOY.
What an interesting (and very weird) year it's been being submerged with all things Minecraft.
Which brings us to CAKE. 
When the library decided to have a Minecraft party, I said we'd supply the cake. I thought I could walk into any cake store and order it. (Ok, we live in a very rural area. This was the local grocery store, and admittedly, their cakes are more "cake fail" than works of art. Much more. I'd post pictures but I don't want to be mean.) We decided to go to the next town over where they had a real bakery.
But surprise! This bakery said that they actually couldn't make the cake like we wanted because it was under copyright. UGH. We realized we were going to have to do this ourselves! Fail or no fail, it was for the sake of the game.
 We ordered two cakes that look like the land and grass.
I thought it might be easy to just do some grass and land... but in blocks.
 We cut one square from a side.
 Everything in Minecraft is made from blocks. We needed to make this look like one of the hills the guy climbs up. So, we needed to stack it, but in squares.
 I didn't get a picture of this frosted, but here it is, squared and stacked.
 The second cake we didn't make it as tall. We were running out of time! The party was in an hour! We frosted and added two Christmas toys and two home made characters created from beads.
It was a huge success... cake wise. Every bite was snapped up. Which was good for me because that cake was NOT coming home with me! lol
So that is the tale of our Minecraft descent into madness, which culminated in me covered in frosting, standing in my kitchen trying to make a perfectly good cake look like a pile of blocks.
 Random kid pics, for no reason... My five year old said he was a "hat stealer". I told him he didn't look suspicious AT ALL.
 I love it when my daughter wears this shirt. Of course, the last time she wore it, the checker at the store asked, "Which book?"
My daughter said, "Any book. They're just better than the movie."
The checker asked, "Which movie?"
My daughter answered, "The ones made from books."
Then there was a long silence. We still laugh about that. ("Which book?")
 Spring is here and the fire pit is back in session! S'mores for all!

 Be sure to pop on by my author page and see what's new!  Until next time!


  1. Okay -- first kidlet pic with all the hats -- made me think of Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. I think it was published in the 1930s but it is still a popular read aloud today. Happy sigh. Love a kid's book with longevity.

    I'm in awe of your crazy cake modifying skills. Very cool and five stars for perseverance!

    Happy minecrafting!

    1. Yes, Kav!! I immediately thought of that book!! I used to read it to the kids all the time. :)

    2. That's one of his favorite books. :)

    3. Same thought. Obviously we're all just brilliant. :)

  2. What a great cake! I'll have to send a photo to my son. I think I mentioned on here before that he was BIG into Minecraft in high school. He started when it was in beta testing. He would spend hours and hours on it. He even ran a server (and I think he still does). :) I think that game is what inspired his interest in computer programming. He's a physics major now but is doing a minor in computer science. And most of the undergraduate research he's doing right now involves coding (for data analysis) and computer modeling. Though I used to despair that he was wasting time, all that gaming and learning how it works in the background has made a positive impact!

    1. I think you did mention that! And my twelve year old has his own server now and is very proud of it. LOL
      And isn't it strange how the gaming of Minecraft encourages coding? If you google it, you'll find lots of articles that show how this game (and one other) sort of revolutionized kids' coding classes and requests to learn coding.
      I look at the really fancy graphics on most modern games, and how they didn't have the same effect on coding, but then Minecraft, with its odd pixelated boxes, did. It's really interesting to me!
      Genius creators knew they had to go backward to be "cutting edge".

  3. Also! I just shared this article with my son last week. :)

    1. YES! We've done "hour of code" and things before with local groups, but it really wasn't until Minecraft hit that it became a passion for them. Even my seven year old showed me a funny little coded "game" he made where a snowman puts on a hat. LOL.
      I sort of miss the days when knowing any html really impressed my kids!

  4. This was quite interesting. I am not into gaming but all my males are. It bores me. Why is that? It totally, completely makes me yawn. It's like bowling. I don't get it. I'd rather play Scrabble. So this was educational.

    Thank you.

    Love the shirt too!!

    1. I know so many male gamers, and about five hardcore female gamers. (I also know there was a big issue recently with female gamers being bullied... Gamergate will bring up all the articles and related blogs posts). I have NO idea what it is that is so attractive about it!

  5. Oh, I remember the year Minecraft hit big. The troubles we had in school when one student wouldn't talk to another because he'd destroyed the other one's world.

    Maybe it was just that class.

    We watched a fun video on Kids React the other day - Mario vs Minecraft.

    1. HAHAHA! My son really wanted to ask kids on his baseball team to join his server and I advised him to wait until the end of the season in case there are any multi player issues like that!

  6. What fun this is! I've seen Minecraft on kids' iPads, but I've never played it... but I love making cakes that delight children's imaginations, and this was a great project!

    I've actually had two sons phone me once they were adults and thank me for not letting them get into game systems and become addicted... they watched friends drop out of school, or fail grades in college and grad school because they spent their days with a controller, not a textbook.

    So that was a nice surprise because of course I wasn't their favorite person way back then...


    Cate, I bet that video was fun! Mario and Q-bert and Frogger were the first games we had...I gave the system away when their father got so competitive that I was fighting the gorilla to get his attention for supper... I think about then I decided it was hard enough to get boys' attention and I didn't need any more competition, LOL! Their competitiveness served them well in sports later on but in the living room it got a little crazy. Of course I learned fairly early not to play games with them because when two join forces to attack one on the board, generally the board will end up being flipped.

    We have managed to pass this less-than-stellar quality down to a few grandchildren.


    1. Oh, I hear you. Twice now we've had kids take their 30 minutes computer turn before all their homework was done. Wow... they did NOT enjoy the consequences of that. A month without any playing at all was like a death sentence. But apparently it wasn't enough because this child did it TWICE!

      Slow learner like his mother. :D

  7. I'm not a gamer either, but the rest of my family certainly is! Board games, card games, computer games...if it requires strategy and skill, they're in! I play, but not at the level the rest of them do.

    They came by it honestly, though. My husband was one of those geeky guys who collected Strategy and Tactics games back in the '70's. He's just waiting for people to start moving out of the house so he can have the game room he's always dreamed of!

    And we're beginning to emerge from the Minecraft maze. My two younger sons caught the bug several years ago, and built worlds inside of least that's what they said they were doing.

    And I'm a big believer in games teaching skills that you learn by doing - like coding, etc.

    All that said, five years ago this cake would have been a HIT at our house! Kudos to your crew for creating a fun masterpiece. :)

    1. Oh, we're HUGE board game fans. We have a whole wall of board games and card games, etc. The best thing any guest can do is announce they've brought a new game or teach us a new card game. They're our favorites after that!

      I just feel like games are so... solitary. I know they're playing against each other, sometimes even in the same room, but it's different from being face to face across a table.

      Some of our favorite board games are Apples to Apples, Qwelf (HILARIOUS), and Headbands. The older kids love Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit.

    2. We love Qwelf! :) We played it at Christmas with all the kids plus my parents (until they pooped out). It was so fun. At one point, middle son was wrapped in toilet paper like a mummy. :)

    3. HAHAHA! My favorite recent moment was when my ten year old had to do the chicken dance for four minutes straight. Who knew he could dance?? The kid has some moves! LOL

  8. So, Mary Jane, in a bit of serendipity, the cover of today's New York Times Magazine section: The Minecraft Generation: How a clunky Swedish computer game is teaching millions of children to master the digital world.

    No cake though.

    1. That is SO COOL! Thank you !!!

      I wish I knew more about multiverse and PVP games to understand exactly what it is about Minecraft that has encouraged all of this. This article says it's clunky because it's not pre-rendered graphics, but I think it must be the blocks themselves, because you have to build within the world. You're building and creating rather than simply running around and look for easter eggs, trading cheats and waiting to respawn somewhere.