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If at first you don't succeed, don't try this again! A bakers guide to proper etiquette.

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Lord knows I try, but for reason, it never seems to look like the picture on the box. Sometimes the head falls off like the one in this picture; other times the face looks more like Jack Nicholson peeringthrough a self inflicted ax hole in the bathroom door... Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in! But that doesn't stop me.

The unskilled determination of creating decorative baked goods must be a character flaw passed down from previous generations in my family. Sort of like the Santa pin that my mother made everyone for Christmas one year that looked like he fell asleep in the sun wearing entirely too much red lipstick. I still have that pin and wear it with pride whenever I need to lighten the mood at an otherwise unmemorable party. But my mother takes her creativity to an entirely different level, sometimes branching out into the unchartered waters of flavor substitutions. 

It was my 34th birthday, I remember it well because my friend Scott kept saying, "dirty whore!" whenever I mentioned how old I was turning. At some point, someone thought it would be a good idea to have an impromptu birthday party in my honor at a friend's house and put my mom in charge of the cake. She decided to make her own and opted for the one she thought was my favorite, a German chocolate sheet cake with chocolate pecan frosting. I smile at the bumpy brown mess and patiently wait while they light the candles and sing that dreaded song. Then, wishing only for it to be over, I blow out the blaze of glory and extinguish my dying youth. Dirty whore! 

My mother left right before the whole singing thing started and it wasn't until she got home that she realized she had made the wrong cake. German chocolate was my brother's favorite; mine was the buttercream. But still... I like a good chocolate fix, and I wasn't about to let this one go to waste. "Load me up!" I say, holding out my plate. "What the hell? STOP!" I scream after sampling a tiny piece with my finger, "Don't eat the cake! I think my mother may have put lighter fluid into it!"

Turns out, it wasn't at all what we thought; but we weren't about to risk going to the ER because some old lady accidently poured lighter fluid into my cake instead of vanilla, so we ditched the cake and went out for drinks. The next day, after repeated claims that she hadn't done anything different to the recipe, she finally broke down and admitted the truth, "I was out of vanilla so I used blackberry flavoring instead." And the next year, she went back to doing what she does best... Ordering one from the bakery and pretending she made it at home.

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