Thursday, June 8, 2017

Pseudo Pinterest Fail: Luca's "Boo" Birthday Cake

For my daughter's 9th Birthday "Puppy Party", she wanted this adorable "Boo Puppy" cake by "A Pocket Full of Sweetness" that she found on Pinterest.
INSPIRATION: Adorable Perfection!

Of course I immediately called my girl, Winter Walker (@WinterCakes) who makes the most delicious and BEAUTIFUL cakes, and asked if she could do a version of this Boo Cake, but she is unavailable this year (waaaa!) is in town visiting -- she can bake a mean cake...and I'm pretty artistic...maybe I could decorate it?

I ran to Michaels and bought pretty much everything I would need to decorate the cake (which would be fine if I were going to do this again...which I don't think I will...again...EVER!):

  • White Fondant for "Boo" and the Name Plate
  • Colored Fondant: Sweetshop has some pretty good colors for the cake decor: Pink, Lavender, and Blue; and Wilton has a "Natural Color Multipack" which includes Light Brown, Dark Brown, Dusty Pink and Black (all used for "Boo")
  • Name Plate and Letter Cutters (I wasn't going to attempt to write the name!)
  • Roller Pin
  • Cake Leveler
  • Fondant Tool Kit
  • Ribbon Cutter Kit
  • Edible Adhesive
  • Parchment Paper
  • Buttercream Icing (picked up at a chef/baking shop)

I watched a billion YouTube videos how to work with fondant in the days leading up to the big day...
     I think I can do this. 
     No, I can't....
     I am in way over my head! 

I start frantically calling bakeries for a "base cake" that I could work with....but it was too late....I was on my own (for the decorating at least).

Mom-in-law started baking the yummiest chocolate cake ever, while I started to sculpt Boo. Here are photos of the process:
Form the body, stick a tooth pick, let sit for 2 hours
Shape the head, snout, ears...I couldn't figure out how to keep
his head round...when I set him down, he would flatten a bit 
OMG! So cute! I added the eyes (dark brown, black and white fondant),
nose and tongue. He looks adorable! Feeling good at this point!

Added a big bow...a little complicated to make, but turned out cute! Proud mama.

Now....I wanted Boo to while I worked on the cake "shell",  I put Boo in the refrigerator to harden: BAD MOVE! Although he hardened initially, once removed from the refrigerator, he began to sweat and soften...and started to wilt :(  

I shoved a collection of toothpicks and bbq skewers inside him, determined to prop him up, but nothing worked. With the A/C blasting, he eventually dried out in his new found squashed look. I created a lavender pillow for him to place under his butt to help prop him helped a teeny bit.

When the cake was done and cooled off (I don't think it cooled off enough), I covered it in a layer of Buttercream (what I learned is called the "crumb layer"). Let it cool again, then another layer of Buttercream to create a smooth base.

I prepped a lot for the individual strips of pink and lavender to create the chevron pattern. What a pain in the #@$! I measured the height and outside diameter of the cake...divided into 6 equal panels, and laid out the entire chevron pattern on the parchment paper. I used the ribbon cutter to make equal strips. I got it to lay out perfectly. I was so happy. Then, I went to apply the strips to the cake. I had seen tutorials where the cake designer lifts the panels with the strips all at once to adhere to the cake. That didn't work. I had to lay the strips out one-by-one, applying the adhesive to each piece and getting it to stay. The problem is, the strips stretched each time I applied them to the cake, so by the time I got to the end, my last panel was too small. By this time, it was 2:00 AM (the day of the party), and I needed to finish the dang cake. So I created 3 vertical strips in the left over space. It looked fine.

I found a flower shaped cookie cutter in my kitchen drawer, so I used that to quickly make flowers. I rolled pink balls, and used a toothpick to create creases and dimension.

BUT...the chevron strips kept buckling. I have NO idea why or how to prevent it from happening...but at this point, I had to move on. 

I created the pillow for Boo, then assembled everything. Squishy, but still kind of cute. Not perfect...and for someone who strives to be a perfectionist....I was disappointed in the buckling and wilting. Especially since it took me around 15 hours to do! Ugh. 
My final cake...a little squishy and buckling, not as beautiful as the inspiration...but still kind of cute. 
Troubleshooting: I added vertical strips when chevron paneling failed. I ran out of
white fondant, so I made a lavender pillow for Boo to lay on to prop him up a bit.
(Indentations are where I shoved additional toothpicks for support)

The sides buckled, and Boo wilted....but everyone loved the cake anyway! I am still not sure how to avoid the problems I
encountered during the process...BUT... I am proud of my Pseudo Pinterest Fail for my first ever fondant cake decorating.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pig for Bluesy

I cannot believe I haven't posted in a year! Wow!

My design biz, DLZ | interiors, has been flourishing, which kept me beyond busy! On top of that, I am developing several children's shows with my production company, Hot Mamas Productions, and I was recently named COO for an incredible social enteprise based out of Uganda called Asante Mama (you can find us on Amazon!) All pretty amazing gigs!!!

My daughter, Luca (8), had bestie Bluesy (8) over for a sleepover last night, and when they woke up, they wanted to make a toy. We started with sock monkey kits from Restoration Hardware, and realized VERY quickly we didn't have the time nor the patience (nor the attention span) to make them (super complicated). Now we only had an hour to go before Bluesy's mom picks her we had to come up with a plan ASAP. Bluesy LOVES pigs, so we decided to make a pig with scraps of felt I had laying around. Bluesy cut the fabric, sewed much of it, and stuffed it. She wanted something soft for the tail and legs, I only had this checkered ribbon that passed the "softness test". Then we (and I use the term "we" lightly), sewed on the tail, legs, nose and ears, then glued on hearts and googly eyeballs and drew on the nostrils. We finished in the nick of time. I tried to snap some pics before we had to run Bluesy to her mom.

Here is cutie pie Iris the Pig, made on the fly:

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Baptism Gift for Calla

I knew my niece Calla's Baptism was coming up, yet I procrastinated....and by the time I found the custom gift I wanted to send her, it was too late (3-4 weeks turnaround, whereas I had 3-4 days). Since time was not on my side, I decided to try and do it by bonnielecat's gifts on Etsy, I gave it a go:
front of handmade plaque
1. I ran to Michaels and purchased a 6"x6" unfinished wood plaque. dark brown paint, chalk paint, and a beautiful, sparkly cross (I just love Michaels!)
2. Then I ordered cool, vintage-like typewriter letter stamps and a brown ink pad from Amazon Prime (I also love free 2-day shipping).
3. I painted the plaque dark brown, let it dry
4. I painted the front with the chalk paint, let it dry
5. I glued on the cross, let it dry
6. I practiced the stamping on paper, then stamped out the message "god bless calla". It was a little wimpy, so I carefully went over each letter twice...trying to perfectly align the letters....I did pretty well, I think.
7. I found some brown bumpers and a picture hanger in my supplies, so I attached those to the back
8. I found a nice border online, then used that to create a little sign with baptism details on back
9. I also had some old "All-Saints" tissue paper and twine, wrapped it up and it's ready to go!

Honestly, I would have rather ordered it from the artist bonnielecat's Etsy shop, because her gifts are way more beautiful (and I probably spent about the same amount of money). At least I had the joy of making the gift for Calla, and will get it to her closer to her Baptism (and now I have a really cool vintage style typewriter stamp kit!)
back of handmade plaque

packaged up and ready to ship out

I love my new vintage style stamp kit

Friday, May 13, 2016


Our school fair needs I decided to make these yummy treats: MONSTER RODS! Super cute, super fun, and super easy!

1. Using a "double boiler" method (glass bowl over pot of boiling water, reduce to low heat), stir CANDY MELTS until melted and smooth
2. Spoon melted candy into 8oz glass
3. Dip PRETZEL ROD in melted candy in glass, rolling and dragging until right consistency
4. Drag bag of rod along edge of glass to remove excess melted candy
5. Lay on baking tray (18 per tray)
6. Place CANDY EYES randomly
7. Put tray in refrigerator for 5-10 minutes to cool
8. Bend tray to loosen, and carefully snap rods from tray (without breaking rods)
9. Place in treat bags
10. ENJOY!
one set of Monster Rods
another set of Monster Rods
completed set of Monster Rods in treat bag

a batch of completed sets
I love the aftermath!

Monday, January 11, 2016

CAMP MOMMY: Dollhouse Remodel (Phase 1)

After posting pics of the redesigned interiors I did for my daughter's Pottery Barn Dollhouse, my friend Melissa found a vintage dollhouse at an antique store in a small town. She picked it up for me. I have had it for about 4 years, and could not find the time to work on it. Now that my daughter (Luca) is 7, I thought it would be a fun Winter Break project. Luca and I couldn't agree on paint colors; she wanted teal and pink and I wanted gray and black, so we compromised...and I LOVE it!

Remodel included:
  • Added siding
  • Added roofing materials
  • Added slatted shutters
  • Added flower boxes (to shorten the windows to fit the prefab shutters)
  • Added a cupola with a rooster weather vane
  • Added porch rail siding
  • Repaired outside corner trim
  • Painted everything
Here are photos of the completed Exterior Remodel (Phase 1) .... I hope to get to the Interior Remodel (Phase 2) over Summer Break:

The completed exterior remodel

Detail of cupola with rooster weather vane

Upper Level Detail

Porch Detail

Progress photos:
Luca painting the siding
Painting shingles and shutters
Arranging flowers with Fluffy

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Holiday Treats for Clients and Classmates

This venture started off in an attempt to place an order for chocolate covered strawberries and pretzel sticks for a client via a well known company. However, in addition to the cost of the goodies, the company charges $17 for delivery of the strawberries and another $15 to deliver the pretzel sticks, even though they are both going to the same place! I called said company, and asked if they could combine the delivery costs since they are originating in 1 place and terminating at 1 place. They refused. So, I canceled the order. Went to Michaels (Welton Candy Melts), Cost Plus World Market (trays, glasses, baggies, ribbon, cellophane), Ralphs (beautiful organic strawberries), and Smart & Final (Snyder's of Hanover Pretzel Rods)...then got to work.

I made 7 trays of goodies for clients, and personally delivered them. And made about 30 baggies of treats for my daughter's school (classmates, teachers, staff, supervisors, security, etc.)

It was a lot of work, but it was worth it for all the smiles :)

  • Chocolate covered pretzel rods with various colored candy melts (red, green, chocolate, white), some with crystal sugar, some with crushed candy cane bits. 
  • Chocolate covered organic strawberries with various colored candy melts (red, green, chocolate, white), some with crushed walnuts, some with crushed candy cane bits, and some with shards of fresh chocolate.
  • Chocolate covered Oreo cookies with with various colored candy melts (red, green, chocolate, white), some with crushed walnuts, some with crystal sugar, some with crushed candy cane bits.
Handmade goodies for my clients on gold chargers with gold-bottom wine glasses

White Chocolate Pretzel Rods with White, Red and Chocolate Strips (Left), Chocolate Pretzel Rods with Crushed Candy Cane Topping (Right) 
White Chocolate Pretzel Rods with White, Red, Green and Chocolate Strips (Left), and Chocolate Pretzel Rods with White, Red and Chocolate Strips (Right)
White Chocolate Pretzel Rods with Large Crystal Sugar (Left), and White Chocolate Pretzel Rods with White, Red and Chocolate Strips (Right)

Chocolate Dipped Oreo Cookies with Various Toppings: Crushed Candy Cane, Large Crystal Sugar, and Red and White Strips

Pretzel and Oreo Treats wrapped up, labeled and ready to distribute with Holiday Cards

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Treats: Frankenstein Marshmallow Pops

Also inspired by treats found on the web, I created these yummy Frankenstein Marshmallow Pops for my kiddo's school Halloween celebration.

-Large Marshmallows
-Wilton Vibrant Green Candy Melts
-Wilton Chocolate Candy Melts
-Black Gel
-Candy Eyes
-Black Licorice
-Lollipop Sticks
Another big hit! Frankenstein Marshmallow Pops!
I wanted to serve on this simple white cake platter, but it was easier to transport in my large baking pan

Ba Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!

Halloween Treats: Mummy Pretzel Rods

Inspired by "spooktacular" Halloween Treats found on the web, I created these super delicious Mummy Pretzel Rods --and displayed them in different colored mason jars (I caught an awesome Halloween sale: $1.19 per jar at Michaels).

For another Halloween Party, I ran out of the White Candy Melts to dip the pretzel rods, so I dipped them in left-over Chocolate Candy Melts (used for the hair on my Frankenstein Marshmallow Pops) and had enough White to do the "mummy wrapping" strips (I mixed White Mummies and Chocolate Mummies together in the jars, and forgot to snap a pic- blogger fail!) 

-Large Pretzel Rods
-Wilton Bright White Candy Melts
-Strip of Multi-Colored Candy Buttons
-Black Edible Marker

Biggest hit at the school's Halloween Party!

Boo! Mmmm....Delicious!

Friday, October 2, 2015

My GORGEOUS "Almost-No-Sew" $2 Throw Pillows!

After restoring the piano bench, I had some surplus fabric....but it is SO beautiful, I HAD to use ALL of it! I also happen to have 2 throw pillows that needed covers. PERFECT! But...I only had enough fabric to cover 1 throw pillow, front and back, OR 2 throw pillows, front only. So I went with the latter.

Now I need fabric for the backs. So, I went to my local fabric store, and sifted through their disorganized scrap bins. After 90 the bottom of the very last scrap bin, I found it! 2 scraps of the perfect size, perfect color and perfect texture fabric! $1 each. Woot woot!

I intended on sewing them...I even borrowed a sewing machine...but the needle was broken and it was missing parts. SO...I did some digging online and learned about "HEAT N BOND Ultra" - a miracle no-sew product!!!! I had a 50% coupon at Michaels, so it only cost $ 1.79 for 10 yards of 3/8" bonding tape. All you need is an iron, and a few seconds! It was AMAZING! I was able to successfully bond 3 sides of each pillow...but after inserting the pillow, I couldn't bond the open I sewed them by hand, but that went pretty fast, and looks good.

FYI: I thought I was clever and initially tried to use a hair iron, but it didn't work as well as a real iron...I strongly recommend a real iron and follow the instructions.

Here is the final product - I LOVE IT!!!
I LOVE my new pillows!

Supplies: Fabric (front and back), HEAT N BOND Ultra Tape (3/8" x 10 yards), ready-to-cover throw pillow and iron
 (TIP: do not use a hair iron- use a real iron)

Look at that AMAZING seam! I was able to bond 2 heavy upholstery fabrics with HEAT N BOND Ultra

Back of pillow- the perfect shade of brown velvet

Detail of pillow

Corner Detail
(I hate our carpet! Ugh!)

My 2 finished pillows! LOVE!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Tooth Fairy Visit

In honor of my Luca losing another tooth last night, here are photos of the items left by the Tooth Fairy last time...

...what does the Tooth Fairy do when she was not prepared and has no cash or trinkets on hand??? She leaves a gift certificate!

Check out the miniature letter, gift certificate, "gold" coin (covered in gold glitter) in the tiny envelope...hand delivered by the Tooth Fairy, of course!
Miniature letter, rolled gift certificate, "gold coin" in a tiny envelope

unrolled gift cash = bigger reward

Happy camper (less one tooth!)