Above is a photograph of Lina's 6th birthday cake.
I found a recipe on a parenting web site for a horse birthday cake design and it was very helpful to see a diagram of how to cut up the cakes and assemble it all to look like a horse's head and neck. They also had nice ideas for how to decorate it easily. I customized the decorations and I was told by grown-ups that the cake "looks amazing," "the horse looks like he has a nice personality" etc. Lina told me "That looks like a real horse!... You're a great decorator! You should work in a restaurant!"
It took me 1 1/2 hours to cut up, assemble and decorate the cake. (In my early 30's, I took an art class at Parsons and I was an expert at cutting up Styrofoam and cardboard into shapes of objects, on first attempt...that's how natural this felt.) I only had two tools on hand (I never decorated a cake in my life and I didn't expect to on short notice): a plastic knife (for cutting and spreading) and a Ziploc bag (to serve as the pastry bag, filled with frosting and sealed up, with just a small cut to a corner). Certainly a huge savings...since a custom cake costs so much in NYC.
I couldn't bake the cake in our current (transitional) kitchen, so V's awesome mom was kind enough to give me (1) 8" round cake (it was pink...a strawberry flavor) and (1) 9" square cake (it was vanilla...with rainbow chips) that they made at their home, which served as the yummy base.
Photographs showing how I transformed those two cakes to the horse head & neck:
And then they played in Lina's purple room with her new birthday toys...