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When I am not crazy-busy doing SAHM things, I sometimes dabble in cake-making.

I’m not crazy about the baking part, too messy, too worried about the taste/flavor/texture of the cake/frosting – too stressful. But a necessary evil if one is to be a cake-maker. Although licking the beaters does ease the pain.

I like playing with making the decorations and getting the cakes look pretty. Fondant is grown-ups’ Play-doh. Frosting is… well, frosting – great at any age.

My friend Kylie asked me if I could make something similar to THIS for her daughter’s 10th B-day.  Her daughter takes riding lessons on a horse named Monkey :)

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 gulp….

Until then, the most complicated thing I had made out of fondant was a bow. So I mulled, hemmed & hawed, stressed about it and then said yes.

It took a lot of planning, and a lot of “doing-ahead”, but it came out better than I expected.  I could not have done it without staring at Deborah Hwang’s pictures the entire time!

So, here’s my process:

I started with a rough sketch for Kylie, so she could see what I had in mind.  From there we were able to tweak a few details to match her vision for the cake. I’m surprised she trusted me after seeing my sketch of this “almost-not-quite-horse-like-but-not-really-horse” creature. Nevertheless, she did and I got to it!

Lola's Horse Cake

1. I made 4 – 13″x9″ vanilla cakes using this recipe I found on cakecentral.com which was supposed to be good for carving. I made the layers 5 days before the cake was picked up, wrapped them tightly in plastic wrap, and froze them.  This was a great time-saver. Frozen cake also carves better.

2. I also made the chocolate marshmallow fondant * for the body and hair of “Monkey” ahead of time, and used black-gel coloring. I tripled this recipe. The night before I needed the fondant, I set it out on the counter so it could come to room temperature by the morning. Btw, this fondant is yummy! Like a tootsie roll!
*My fondant was a little dry and started to tear when I rolled it out, so I had to cover the horse in 2 smaller pieces.  It probably had something to do with tripling the recipe, or my generous use of powdered sugar while rolling it out. Since I am a rookie fondant worker, I just covered a lot of the tearing with the other fondant decorations.
 

3. I used this recipe for marshmallow frosting to make the additional colors needed for the bridle and ribbon. I made some of the decorations ahead of time- the bridle links and the ribbon head along with the numbers (I made the bottom part of the ribbon fresh so the fondant could mold to the shape of the horse’s neck).

4. For the writing and flower decorations, I used Wilton’s meringue powder and their instructions for Royal icing. I divided it and used gel dye to get the desired colors.

5. The cake was filled and covered with this whipped chocolate frosting.  I made 1.5 times the recipe…. and I also added more whipping cream and powdered sugar to the remaining frosting after I filled the cake and realized that I didn’t have enough to cover the cake.  The whipping cream just made the frosting a little fluffier and airy.

Ok, so here’s the assembly part: (pics were taken on my phone camera, please forgive me)

I placed 2 cake layers side by side (long sides touching), and then placed the other 2 layers on top of them.

I taped 4 sheets of paper together to sketch my horse.  I cut the paper out to 19″x14″ which was the size of the Wilton’s cake board that I purchased from Wal-Mart.

I sketched a picture of a horse head onto the paper and cut it out.

I placed the paper on the cake layers and cut the outline of the horse.

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 I used the “scrap” pieces to fill in the tip of the nose and the top of the head. Then I placed these layers onto a cake board and “glued” the bottom layers onto the board using frosting. I trimmed the cake board to the shape of the cake, leaving a 1 cm border for the fondant (not shown in pics).

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While looking at the inspiration cake instructions online, I tried to copy the way she carved indentations into her horse head.  On a side note, don’t cut with the knife blade facing you or another body part- I got a really deep cut on my thumb from it. A frozen cake takes a little more muscle to carve, but I think the cuts come out smoother and cleaner.20140822_090339

 

After carving, I ran my knife between the layers in order to separate the top layers from the bottom ones.  I frosted the bottom layers and placed the corresponding layers on top. I used frosting to “glue” the layers together, especially the small nose and top-of-head pieces.

This is where I saw I wouldn’t have enough frosting to cover the entire cake, so I added more whipping cream and powdered sugar to the remaining frosting and whipped it until fluffy.  Then I frosted the cake.

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Then came the most gut-wrenching, nail-biting (didn’t actually bite my nails while making a cake, that’s gross), heart-stopping part of the cake.  I rolled out my black chocolate fondant and saw that it was starting to tear, booooo :(

Instead of covering the cake in one glorious, seamless, gleaming piece, I had to roll out 2 separate smaller pieces which left a seam on the neck.  I was ok with that because I knew the ribbon would cover  most of that.  I also had some uncovered parts on top of the head, which was okay because I would cover them in horse “hair’ later.

I then added an eye and the eyelids.  Nostrils and ears came next.  I used some balled-up plastic wrap inside the ear as a support until the fondant dried.

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Why fondant?? why you have to do that??!! In some areas where the cracks were smaller, I used a damp paper towel to gently smooth them out. Kinda like cellulite after a tan – still there, but less noticeable.

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Next, I cut out the bridle pieces and added them to the previously made bridle buckles. I used a paintbrush to add a very thin layer of water to the back of the bridle in order to glue it to the horse.

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I used a toothpick to make the “stitching” on the bridle.

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I added hair by cutting out strips of fondant and made lines in them by running a toothpick over them. I strategically placed them over large cracks in the fondant.  I was hoping to make more 3D hair, but I ran out of fondant.

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Then I glued the head of the ribbon on using some royal icing.  I added the bottom of the ribbon pieces on using a little bit of water on back. Now the horse head was done!!! I used a damp paper towel to gently rub off any bits of stray fondant or powdered sugar.

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Finally I placed the cake on a full 19″x14″ cake board and glued it on with frosting.  I used the royal icing to pipe the decorations onto the board. 

Her invitation was the inspiration for colors and decorations on the cake board.

AugustLola (1)

The FINAL outcome!

BEFORE AFTER HORSE CAKE

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A month ago, my baby turned 1!!!
Where did the time go?!

The past year has been a wild ride! I’ve heard it said before, but didn’t always believe, that the jump from 1 child to 2 is crazy!

And crazy indeed it was.

And yet, here we are, a year later, all alive, all healthy, and much to be thankful for.

After perusing Pinterest for a while, I decided to do a non-theme party and instead chose a color scheme as the theme.

I used an embroidery hoop and hung streamers and ribbons from it to make an outdoor decoration. And added balloons for fun.
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This pin inspired some of the color palette and the tassel garlands.
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Her name in gold tacks was another Pinterest project.See the inspiration here.
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My sweet husband found and printed out some Bible blessings that we framed and placed on the mantel.
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I made a thank you sign by cutting letters out of card stock and hot-gluing them to gold ribbon. Then I took an empty frame, taped streamers to the back, and added the sign.
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I dipped pretzel rods in vanilla candy melts and used sprinkles for some color. Then I used the Wilton Pretzel bags and some decorative paper tape to make some really easy favors.
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I made balloon “wands” for the kiddos to play with, adapted from a tutorial by StudioDIY blog, one of my new fave blogs!
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To make these sliders, I used a meatball recipe found on Pinterest. Then I bought some half-baked dinner rolls from Wal-mart. I baked them as directed, then split them open to make top and bottom halves. I placed them under the broiler to toast them, this kept the meatball sauce from absorbing too quickly and making them soggy. Once broiled, I placed a meatball and sauce on the bottom half and topped with a slice of fresh mozzarella. Then again added this to the broiler to melt the cheese. Once melted, I topped with just a little more sauce and put the tops on. I didn’t get to taste one because they went fast, but I hear they were great!
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I used this recipe for the Italian Pressed sandwiches. I mostly stuck to the ingredients, except that I used 1/3 lb each of salami, pepperoni, and ham.
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Individual cakes were made using a vanilla cake mix, using food coloring to achieve the perfect mint hue. Then I baked it in an 11×17 sheet pan so the cake would only be about 1″ tall once baked.  I used a cookie cutter to make 2″ rounds, and used raspberry jam for the center. I made a vanilla buttercream for the topping which I dyed to match the cake. The toothpick toppers were made out of regular toothpicks and crepe paper streamers.
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“Is that for me??!!”
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A family picture. Yes, Batman lives here.
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Kisses!
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An outfit change had to be made after the cake smash. One must always have a tutu on reserve just in case!
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We had some cute babies in attendance!
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gifts

I finally got around to making something for baby girl.

I have a long list of DIY projects I have wanted to make for her including headbands, bibs, shoes, and dresses but the time has just slipped away from me.

So when I saw this faux leather ribbon at Joann’s, I just had to have it.

It took about 1 hour to complete the little bow headband based on this tutorial from Ruffles and Stuff.
The only changes I made were using a shorter elastic length, and I also sewed the bow on instead of using glue.

And it seems she loves it as much as I do :)

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This year we finally dug deep in our pockets and invested in a pre-lit, 9-foot, artificial Christmas tree…

…the only reason why I made this promise to Deric:
“I’m going to decorate the tree without buying any new ornaments”. Gulp.

Luckily, I had a bazillion or so shimmery orange ornaments that I scored for 6/$1.00 a few years ago. Those along with some blue, silver and glass ornaments made the tree look just ok.

It needed garland.

So, here’s my updated take on garland. Super easy, but gave the tree an extra umph! (All supplies were left-over from previous projects).
p.s. the color combos/possibilities are endless! use any color paper, with a contrasting paint color to achieve a personalized look for your tree.

Instructions:
Start with 8 x 11 cardstock, gold acrylic paint, any old paintbrush.
Gold triangle garland - supplies

Paint 5 rows of triangles (pennants). (If you want your triangles to be larger, paint less rows.)
Gold triangle garland - entire paper

Paint your lines fairly thick, and then cut in the middle of the lines. That way, each triangle (pennant) will have a gold border.
Gold triangle garland - cutting triangles

Gold triangle garland - pile of triangles

Use a gold/beige colored thread to sew the pennants together. I used a medium stitch. Pull the thread out about 6 inches before you start to sew, this will be used to attach the garland to the tree.
Gold triangle garland - gold thread

Very important: leave about a 1-inch space between each pennant – the space will allow the pennants to hang over the branches without looking too stiff.
Gold triangle garland - spacing

Also very important: Sew only about 3-4 feet of garland at one time. If you make a longer strand, the pennants will get tangled. It is also easier to drape a shorter segment on the tree.
Gold triangle garland - spaced

And there she is! kind of a mish-mosh of styles, but it’ll do!
Gold triangle garland - tree

Gold triangle garland - up close

Gold triangle garland - entire tree

I found this large frame and canvas at a garage sale several months ago for $10.

I thought it was a steal because the frame alone is worth more than that.

The art that came with it, eh, yuch. Not to mention it was just a paper print that had been glued onto the canvas. And it looks like someone already started painting over it.

So, the frame has just been sitting on my mantle, all by its lonesome for several months.

Recently I placed Luke’s first non-watercolor “painting” up on the mantle. And the more I looked at it, the more I liked it! It was fun, colorful and it was my baby’s :)

!Lightbulb!

I could have Luke paint over the canvas that came with frame! And it would be an original piece of art, and it would mean more to me than any other painting ever could, AND he would have so much fun doing it. (he LOVES to paint!)

After putting it off for a few weeks, I finally decided it was time.
I prepped the canvas by rolling 3 coats of white acrylic paint over the print.

Then it was time for Luke to go!

Here are some important tips:
PREPARATION:
1. Begin by recruiting a well-rested, well-fed, paint-loving, non-paint-eating, happy and excited 2-year-old (if any of those qualities are missing, ABORT!)

2. Cover a corner of your kitchen with cardboard and plastic.

3. Strip your toddler down to his skivvies or put them in an old shirt (acrylic paint does not come off once it dries).

4. Choose the colors for your toddler since they prob haven’t had a chance to take a class on color theory yet.

5. Have at least 4-5 clean brushes on hand. El-cheapo kids’ brushes from Wal-mart is what I used.

6. Squirt the paint onto a plastic plate or cheap plastic artist’s palette, also from Wal-mart.

7. Recruit a spouse/helper (willing or unwilling) to be nearby – just in case your toddler decides to jet from the designated painting area and decide to go hug a white wall (we were fortunate not to have this happen).

8. Put on your painting clothes and your most patient self.

9. Have a large roll of paper towels/old towels and baby wipes on hand. You will need them!

Although Luke did all of the painting, it was not without a little direction from mama :)
TECHNIQUE:
1. Let him choose his first few colors and just go for it!

2. After he uses 4-5 colors, switch his brush out for a clean one. This will keep the colors from becoming muddied. (and the switching of the brushes didn’t appear to stifle his creativity any ;)

3. Suggest to toddler that he should paint on the white areas. This will get your canvas covered much faster and keep the colors from mixing too much and turning into the color of dirt.

4. Keep an eye on the paint palette and top off the paint with fresh paint as needed. If they use the same brush for multiple colors, there will be a lot of cross-contamination.

5. Once the masterpiece is completed (mama makes this call), remove from the area and let dry.

6. Supply your toddler with poster board and let him use up all of the paint from the palette.

7. Paint a purple “Mickey Mouse bear” for your toddler per his request.

8. Throw in a little bit of learning by painting his name on the poster board.

9. Show toddler that if you paint his hand, he can make hand prints. Let toddler dictate which color he would like for you to paint on his hand.

10. Then suggest he paint his feet, sit back and watch the real fun unfold!

11. Once baby is completely covered in paint, take some pictures and then it is time for a bath.

12. Take a minute and enjoy the feeling of being a cool mom or the mom-I-had-always-hoped-to-be. Smile :)

Aaaaaaand, for the piece-de-resistance!

Amazing abstract art or just a pre-school painting?? You Decide :)

After all, art is very subjective, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And what is more beautiful than a cost-effective, memory-inducing, sentimental, colorful work of art?

The original plan was to purchase new, more modern hardware for the cabinets.

The existing cabinet handles are a dull brass, but they seem to be good quality and the sticker said they were made in India (not sure if that’s a good/bad thing). The dull brass is better than shiny brass, but it is still a little too 1986-Southern Living for me.

I didn’t mind the shape, so I decided to try my hand at spray painting them. After all, if they turned out gross, my only loss would be a can of spray paint and some of my precious time.

I started by sanding the handles with 200 grit sandpaper. Then I used a damp cloth to wipe off the dust.

In order to be able to spray around the handles, I fashioned a “painting stand” out of a cardboard box and toothpicks.

I used Rustoleum 2x spray in “Metallic Aluminum”.

After the paint had dried, I turned them over and did some touch up work on the bottom.

And they turned out pretty good! The color is a matte silver, it almost looks like a brushed nickel from far away.

What do you think? Have you had any luck or failure in spray painting hardware or metal?

I love my house.

I hate my front door!

Not the door itself, the color! ick! What would you call this? murky denim? Rainy Day blue?

Whatever it is, it’s got to go!

It does nothing for the curb appeal… makes you feel like you’re walking towards a dark dungeon… ok, maybe a little dramatic..

aaaand I’ve been griping about all of this since we moved in almost a year ago.

But now that I have given up TV for Lent, I have a surprising amount of “free” time on my hands.

See ya later Rainy Day blue!

1. Tape off door and around door.

2. Prime the door. I used a fast drying Kilz primer.

3. Make the baby his own sidewalk chalk paint so you can have 15min of uninterrupted painting time.

4. Let primer dry.

5. Remember you are also unhappy with the house numbers. Too dark, can’t see them from street. Go to garage, find spray paint.

6. Spend 20min ripping tape in itty-bitty pieces to mask off areas you didn’t want painted.

7. Create cardboard tunnel/shield to keep the spray paint directed at numbers.

8. Spray coat of primer. Wait 1 hour, then spray Silver spray.

9. Peel off paint right away! (not recommended, but I’m a very impatient person!)

10. Fall in love with new house numbers… :)

p.s. this is what the door currently looks like, primed… now to make color decisions..I hope this doesn’t take another year

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