Mom was always "the cake lady." Whether she was making cakes for her own kids' birthdays, graduations or weddings or creating elaborate cake concoctions for the celebrations of friends, neighbors and friends of friends, for several years there, it seemed like she was baking and decorating cakes 24 hours a day, seven days a week (she probably was!).
Sometimes the cakes were a source of fun and creativity. A lot of times, they were a source of headaches and annoyance. But everyone who knew Mom knew she was "the cake lady." And everyone always commented on how beautiful her cakes were.
This was long before Ace of Cakes and the dearth of fondant on cakes. Mom created scenes -- from roses to critters -- for the most part using buttercream frosting. Sometimes she would use royal icing, chocolate molds or marzipan when it was absolutely necessary.
Like so many of her talents, I didn't inherit the cake gene. I can bake a cake, but I can't make it look the way she did. She once made a cake that looked like a huge basket of strawberries -- the basket was "woven" with buttercream frosting, the handle was royal icing over wire, and the berries were made of marzipan. It was amazing.