Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Latest Treats - A quick post

This is just a quick post...
Record and music notes for my friend, Julie of Lot116's daughter's "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" 5th Birthday (Wow, that was a mouth-full!). She and her sisters throw such awesome parties and they're so well-planned! I really enjoy attending parties with a plan. Here are more party pictures from her blog. Julie is a VERY talented and popular photographer here in San Diego - which is why she's booked for the rest of this year (wow)!

Easter Cupcakes with bunnies and eggs. I used a Swiss Meringue Buttercream and it was very smooth and tasty (not too sweet). Thank you, Aunt Cheryl, for the idea!

Sugar Cookies, of course! This is my "Easter Pops revisited." I had some special vintage Easter cookie cutters given to me by my friend, Pam. Plus a dainty butterfly that I couldn't pass up when I saw it at World Market. My very first "real post" on this blog was about Easter sugar cookies. And this would be my last in this format...

I'm rebuilding this blog to be bigger and better!

I've been working on it between projects so it's been taking quite some time. I have plans to post at least every other week (more often than now). I'm also planning on including some PDF templates and tutorials as well as other fun stuff.

On another note, Easter was quite eventful and bittersweet. Not only was it Easter, it was my youngest daughter's first egg hunt experience, we experienced the longest and strongest earthquake I've ever felt (7.2 magnitude about 100 miles away, everyone's okay - only stuff fell off shelves), and the most saddest was my grandfather's passing that same evening (he was a long-lived 89).

We've been feeling a lot of aftershocks from the earthquake and our oldest daughter is still a little scared. Plus, we've been helping with some preparations for my grandfather's funeral. So it may be another few weeks until I can launch the new site. Until then, hug your kids and tell the ones close to you how much you love them.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Leggo my Logo'd cookie!

I usually make sugar cookies for church events. One is a shamrock for a St. Patrick's day treat to go along with a fish dinner and another is a heart as gift for the dads on father's day (at a brunch). At a Valentine's event which I co-chaired and cooked for, one of the guests stopped me on my way out of the kitchen and asked if I made sugar cookies for the event. Of course, I didn't. I'm guessing that he was probably one of the father's day cookie recipients.

I was asked to provide my "special sugar cookies" for a tea party hosted by the Catholic Daughters of the Americas (CDA), which I am a member. I thought about the cookie cutters I had and even considered making a custom cutter but I went back to the good ol' circle cutter. Luckily for me, the CDA logo is a circle that had a cross and crown.  Boy were these a hit at the tea party! They were all curious as to how I did it - so I'll share it with you...

I basically followed the frozen transfer method using royal icing but did not reverse the image.

  1. I printed out a few "cross and crown" logos on a sheet of paper, placed parchment over it and traced the image with white royal icing. Once they fully dried, they peeled off real easily.
  2. I flowed some purple icing on the cookie and placed the cross and crown logo on top of it while it was still wet.
  3. I used the smallest round tip that I had and piped the details on the cross and crown.
I think I'm getting the hang of using royal icing the right way. I've been letting the icing sit overnight so that the bubbles come up. I've also let dark-colored icing sit for a day so that the colors can deepen. I've changed my recipe a few times and have finally figured out the right consistency. The rule is that if you run a knife through the icing and the icing goes flat between 5-10 seconds, you've got the right consistency. It works well for both outlining and flowing.

Sugar cookies are time-consuming but I literally take it one day at a time, from baking to decorating. I see why some people charge upwards of $3 per cookie, especially if they're detailed!

Here's a group shot. I ended up making 40 cookies. I will be making about 50 in April for another CDA event. I think that next time, I'll use wax paper instead of parchment. I faced the same problem of parchment wrinkling; some of my crosses did not sit flat on the cookie. If you know of a solution to my "wrinkling problem" let me know!

UPDATE: I figured it out. I need to use an acetate sheet. Now, to hunt one down...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Card Table Playhouse

I'll admit - I'm guilty.

Guilty of stealing...


I'm one of those people who browse Etsy to look for craft ideas. I wish I had more time to be come up with original ideas but with work and kids, I don't have much time to think that way. It's kind of sad, really.

In searching for something fun for a cupcake party, I came across a felt card table "cupcakery" on Etsy. It was so cute that I wanted to make something like it. But instead of using felt, I needed something more sturdy (knowing how rough the 5 year old is). So I used canvas duck cloth for the outside and cotton for the lining inside.

This is a belated Christmas gift for my girls. My intention was to start this project in mid-September since I knew we would be quite busy from October through December. If you read my previous post, we have been hit hard with two family deaths in September and my project had to be postponed. So I started in the beginning of December. It wasn't nearly enough time to get it done by Christmas - especially while keeping it out of the sight of curious little eyes. It meant a lot of night sewing and cutting at my friend's studio.

I'm proud to say that I got this project done while it's still Christmas (since for us, Christmas doesn't end until 12 days after Jesus' birth) and BEFORE the new year.

Looks simple, right? Well, not quite. I pondered over the best solution for the scalloped roofline and had to figure out how to get everything I wanted in there. You'll see what I mean...

As you can see from the top, there's a "working" mail box and a paned window with a window box for flowers (I still have to put flowers in there).

Here's a look at the back and the other side:

You can slide half a sheet of paper in the frame (for a menu) and the teapots and cups are removable, made out of magnets, fabric and mod podge. I've sewn a slot to insert (and remove) 8.5x11 magnetic sheets.

Take a look inside. This is the back of the house:

The cookies, cakes and chocolate box (with chocolates) are removable. The shelves and table top have magnet sheets behind them. I made everything but the cupcakes - those were made by my friend Pam's daughter, Amber (who's also a cupcake aficionado) who resides in Minnesota.

Here's the left side:

There's a "storage bench" which is really a big pocket.

And the right side:

There's a "shelf" which is separated in three sections. The girls have already put toys in it.

The good thing about a playhouse like this is that it's fairly easy to clean and you can easily fold it up and put it away. But right now, it's probably going to be out for a while. Both the cats and the girls are having fun in it.

Catching up...

It's been quite a hectic end of the year with loads of work, Mya starting kindergarten, a few deaths in the family (so close together), a not-so-pleasant Mexican Riviera cruise, Solana's 1st birthday and Mya's 5th birthday. I did a lot of projects but wasn't able to document it as much as I hoped. It's one of those situations when you're under the wire and you just want to get things done so the picture taking goes by the wayside. I'm sure there are photos of the final product somewhere, but I have to gather them and post them at a future date.

I was able to get Christmas photos off of the camera before they were off-loaded onto another computer.

Here's this year's tree on Christmas eve:

I've used the same color scheme year after year. I grabbed some silk poinsettias from my Mom's supply of stuff from her old flower shop. It really filled the tree. We also have some fun ornaments in there, mostly tchotchkes we grabbed on our honeymoon and turned into ornaments and items from the girls' birthday parties. Can you spot the cupcake? It's made out of Sculpey. I'm a first-timer with the product and I over-baked it—It cracked, but it wasn't anything that a glue gun couldn't fix. I also covered up the biggest crack with a real cupcake wrapper.

Gingerbread houses for the neighbors:

These houses were about 4 inches on each side and 6 inches high. I didn't have enough candy canes and peppermint sticks so I broke up some mints for the corners—It kind of has a stacked stone feel, don't you think? The lights are candy and chocolate coated sunflower seeds.

I made 9 houses, and 8 went to the neighbors and friends. Mya had a house to herself to decorate (hence the reason why I didn't have enough peppermint sticks).

Christmas was a bit easier this year - no handmade gifts for my friends' kids plus we drew names for a gift exchange. It's so much easier than finding the right gift for 6 kids.