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Pretty up that cake!  | 1 2 3 4 5
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Try decorating with candy, or gumballs. Candy jewelry provides a fun touch, and combines both symbolism and edibility. You can also embellish your cake with non-edible decorative items. Actual STUFF is great, because it leaves a souvenir for the recipient. Anything small enough to fit on the cake is fair game. Think toys -- such as figurines, cars, doll furniture, tea sets, capguns, etc. -- plastic flowers, or anything that comes out of a vending machine (rings, little mugs, keychains). Personalize the cake in whatever way you like, and feel free to make it WEIRD, if youíre so inclined. If you're out of ideas, go to the dollar store and poke around. Whatever you see, it can probably go on the cake, and will be cheap, to boot.

Fresh flowers are very pretty, and add instant class and elegance to any cake. Be sure to stick with NON-poisonous ones, though. Violets (yes, the ones that grow in the yard, and are considered 'weeds'), roses, daisies, dandelions, hollyhocks, tulips, daffodils, lilacs, and honeysuckle are all suitable; lilies of the valley, Star of Bethlehem, and nightshade are definitely not. (Do some research before using any flower varieties that I didn't list.) Youíll also want to make sure your blossoms are clean and pesticide-free, especially if youíve plucked them from your yard and you have a lawn service that sprays. Though I doubt that sprayed flowers would leach enough poison onto a cake to do anyone harm, itís better to be safe -- you don't want anyone being rushed to the hospital after consuming poisonous flowers off YOUR cake. Most leaves are fine, and the green provides a nice counterpoint to the bright hues of the petals; try lemon, maple, oak, etc., which all look nice, and are quite common. They're also season-appropriate: green buds in spring, red in fall.

Above all, remember to have fun decorating; a sense of playfulness always produces the neatest-looking cakes. Don't hold back! Let it go!

Stacie Tucker has been cooking for money since 1996, after thumbing her nose at college, and never wants to be head chef *anywhere.*  For awhile, she owned a vintage clothing store. Her hobbies still include vintage clothing, as well as staying up late, catering for friends, booze, and fighting with her brother. This is her first published article.

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