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Michiana Chronicles writers bring portraits of our life and times to the 88.1 WVPE airwaves every Friday at 7:45 am during Morning Edition and over the noon hour at 12:30 pm during Here and Now. Michiana Chronicles was first broadcast in October 2001. Contact the writers through their individual e-mails and thanks for listening!

Michiana Chronicle: Nailed It!

Heather Curlee Novak

Unless you live under the proverbial rock, what I am about to say should spark recognition: “Nailed it!!”  Do you know it?  This current standard in our ‘Pinworthy’ You Tube Social Media World should make you cringe or smile.  “Nailed it!” is the recognition that what we see, what we attempt, and what we actually create….do not match.  (Google the phrase when you need a belly laugh.)  If you were a gymnast, “nailing it” would indicate mastery and perfection.  Shall we imagine together that it originated in carpentry?  “Nailing it” would be pretty direct and to the point! For our purposes today we are taking the pop culture definition of “Nailed it!” to mean, in truth we have failed it.

In our house we struggle to find cinematic entertainment we all agree on.  One likes Sci fi, one like adventure, one likes mermaids and I like books.  We stumbled onto the Netflix show “Nailed It!” and all four of us were riveted.  If you haven’t heard of it, three obviously unskilled bakers attempt to recreate clever, artistic, intricate baked goods.  They create ornate, sculpted cakes, famous people made out of Eclairs or some such craziness.  Each contestant runs to pick their project and the hosts are funny and dramatically loud.  We love it.  We laugh and we watch together.  

Last year we challenged friends and neighbors to join us on a Unicorn Cake “Nailed it!” from the comfort of their own homes.  My entire family got into crafting multi colored cake layers, creating and shaping unicorn features from fondant (a baker’s edible playdoh) and sugar glitter.  It was a gorgeous disaster.  If you ever wonder why a bakery charges $50 for a Unicorn Cake, you try making one and then gleefully fork out that cash!

This summer as we stayed home and looked for ways to pass the time, I brought books home from the library.  Our library offers curb side so I could browse and request online and pick up outside!  We got The Food Network’s Big, Fun Kids Cookbook and began paging through it.  I told the girls they could each pick something (ANYTHING!) out and we would make it.  No surprise they both picked “Fake Out” cakes.  Portia picked a Macaroni and Cheese Cake. Libby chose an Ice Cream Cake shaped to look like a Strawberry Crunch Ice Cream Bar. I looked over the ingredient lists and it was pretty straightforward: frosting, cake mix, ice cream, debris.

The first attempt was the mac and cheese cake.  I basically stayed out of the kitchen and the girls went wild.  They mixed the white chocolate melting wafers with food coloring and piped them out onto waxed paper to make the noodles.  The cake baked in a bowl to make the shape of a bowl. As we searched for a container that could take the heat of the oven, Portia gleefully discovered my vintage Pyrex was oven safe!  The result had them laughing and eating in equal amounts of delight.  They “Nailed it!”.


Credit Heather Curlee Novak

Portia was otherwise occupied the day we made Libby’s cake.   I stepped in as assistant.  I was a poor assistant.  First, I left our downstairs freezer unplugged for two days.  The food was fine, but the ice cream needed for the middle of the cake was very unfrozen.  The excess cake cuts and freeze dried strawberries came together well for the coating, but everything else was a comedy, or a tragedy.  Libby did her parts well, as for me…I nailed it.  It was hard!  The ice cream was soggy!  The cake fell apart when I cut the sheet cake in half horizontally.  I resolved that by flipping the damaged side to the bottom and slathering everything else with more frosting.  It was delicious.

Giving the girls projects to tackle (and then eat!) was a great adventure.  The book had all sorts of mostly kid friendly recipes and we may go after another one soon.  All of us learned grace, and patience and that ugliness can taste pretty good if you add sugar.  We saw first-hand that what looks so simple may not quite turn out, but a positive attitude and deep breaths get us through it.  The lessons learned in our kitchen this summer can be applied to life at large; when we ‘fail it’, we can work together to fix what is broken, soggy and ruined.  We can support each other and try something new.  No matter what tears, disasters and clean up awaits, at the end of the day we can get out our forks and claim “Nailed it!” together.

Music: "Cake by the Ocean" by DNCE

Heather Novak's professional history includes sales and customer service training and troubleshooting for businesses, but she loves motivational speaking best. Heather leads church events for youth, singles and women, has spoken for Chicago Apartment Association and many organizations throughout Indiana. Nowadays Heather is just another stay at home wild mama trying to loose some weight, keep some sanity and enjoy her life. She is being raised by two little girls named Portia and Libby and is indulged by a guy named John who was gracious enough to marry her. Heather blogs about F Words: Feisty Faith, Fumbling Family, Fairly Healthy Food, Failed Fashion and Fabulous Friendships. You can find her at