Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Return of the Frankenpop!

This Halloween, I decided to do a familiar no-bake goodie for our school's Bake Sale: FRANKENPOPS!

Using marshmallows for the head, green candy melts for face color, brown candy melts for hair, gel for mouth and scar, candy buttons and edible markers for the eyes, sunflower seeds for bolts, mounted on lollipop sticks. I used mini pumpkins as stands:

TIP: before you create your Frankenpops, prep the pumpkin stands:
1--  use a sharp knife to carve a small hole in every other segment on the pumpkin (5 total)
2--  hammer a lollipop stick into each hole (test that you can slide it out and back in)
3--  dip the marshmallow in slightly cooled down green candy melts and place on stick
4--  dry green head on pumpkin stand before moving to hair
5--  for the hair, dip the top only, and using a toothpick, pull down some strands
6--  set back in pumpkin stand to dry
7--  draw  draw eye balls on candy buttons with edible marker or gel
8--  use green candy melt to adhere candy button eyes to the face
9--  use gel to create zig zag mouth and forehead scar
10- although I used sunflower seeds for the neck bolts, you can use anything that is small, long and edible....just push them in.

I placed the 3 pumpkins (yielding 15 Frankenpops) on a serving tray, and packed it in a large cellophane gift basket bag to keep covered until revealed at the bake sale.

Happy Halloween!

-- Crazy Mama

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Quick and Cheap Shoebox Dollhouse

Quick and Cheap Shoebox Dollhouse

View from Living Room:
Operable draperies made with fabric swatch, bamboo skewer and stapler
As an Interior Designer, I have lots of fabric swatches laying around, so when my kiddo said she promised her bestie that "she" would make a dollhouse out of a shoebox for her, we raided my stash of samples, and whipped up this cute little dollhouse.
Door uses a latch to stay shut. Simply slide latch out to open door. Cardboard and tape.
FLOOR PLAN: 2-Bedroom Shoebox Dollhouse
Scraps of fabric, toilet paper stuffing, packing tape, staples and stickers make this adorable bunk bed room for "the twins" 

Bunk Bed Room Detail: little hang-out lounge area with striped pillows under the bunk bed
Living Room: Missoni Home fabric wall hanging, loveseat, throw pillow, coffee table, plant and area rug
Living Room Detail: paint cap and pieces of moss make a cute plant for the coffee table
Master Bedroom Detail: Upholstered headboard, red velvet cover and sky blue velvet pillows. Just beyond the foot of the bed is a real usable white board (can be seen in overall dollhouse photo).
Exterior Window: should have used an exacto knife...scissors were a sloppy choice. Used packing tape for glass and cardboard for shutters
Fun shoebox dollhouse project with my kiddo

Thursday, September 5, 2019

                                   ....apparently they decorate lockers now! DIY Magnetic Wallpaper

Here is a step-by-step guide how to make magnetic wallpaper for your kiddo's locker.
My kiddo's completed locker
(she had to cut out the lock on the fly, a bit sloppy, but I am proud that she figured it out)

If you have not noticed, magnetic locker wallpaper is expensive. As of this post, magnetic wallpaper costs $60.

Since I had surplus peel-and-stick wallpaper from my house, I decided to see if we could make it magnetic (we are not allowed to install stickers in/on the lockers).

STEP 1:  On the school's Orientation Day, measure the lockers and include locations of protruding items, such as hooks and locking mechanisms:

STEP 2: To wallpaper (3) interior sides and the door panel, look for Rolled Magnetic Sheets.
Although the lockers are nearly 36" high, we found it much more cost effective to purchase a 24"x60" roll ($25) on Amazon, which yields 30" high material (worked with the hook placements):

STEP 3: Cut Rolled Magnetic Sheets to size.
In our case, we cut the 60" length in half to yield (2) 30" panels, then cut those nearly in half (11" and 13"), yielding us (2) 30"x11" segments for the back and front and (2) 30" x 13" segments for the sides (as you can see in our diagram, the locker sides are wider). We then cut the door panel piece to the clear inside dimension of the door panel:

STEP 4: Using the pre-cut magnetic panel as a template, trace out the wallpaper segment that you'll need (on the pattern side), carefully measuring the wallpaper (or contact paper or your custom printed graphic) to make sure the pattern is centered on the magnetic panel:

STEP 5: Cut along the cut lines on (1) side and the top, then overcut on the other side and bottom:

STEP 6: Apply your wallpaper to the magnetic panel by carefully aligning the cut side and top sections, then flip over and cut off the excess on the overcut side and bottom:

STEP 7A: Smooth bubbles with a credit card:

STEP 7B: If bubbles persist, use a pin to poke a small air hole, and push the air bubble out the hole with a credit card:

STEP 8: Your beautiful, perfectly centered magnetic wallpaper is ready to install:

STEP 9: Allow your kiddo to install the magnetic wallpaper in their school locker:


Monday, February 18, 2019

Valentine's Day 2019

Valentine's goodies for my Luca:

Pancakes with heart sprinkles

Colorful Valentine's Day Pretzel Sticks for the School's "Bake Sale". 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Halloween 2017

My daughter wanted her favorite stuffed animals (Pinky and Fluffy) as jack-o-lanterns this year, so she drew them up and I carved them out:
PINKY and FLUFFY Jack-O-Lanterns

PINKY by Luca

FLUFFY by Luca

Almost done

My pumpkin eating a baby pumpkin:
Oh No!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Puppy Party and then some...

Late in posting...follow up to my "Pseudo Pinterest Fail" post earlier.

We don't have a dog anymore (my American Eskimo "baby", Matisse passed well before my child was born), but she is obsessed with dogs! Luca insisted on a "Puppy Party" for her summer birthday, so she asked everyone to bring their doggies (and they did!)

I didn't get great photos, but here are some snaps from one Pupperific Day! Wish I had good pics of the "spread" -- it was pretty awesome, catered by The Counter Burger Bar. Yum-Meeee!!!

CAKE: Boo Birthday Cake as seen in previous blogpost >>> Pseudo Pinterest Fail
MINI CUPCAKES: Someone snagged one before I could take a pic! Rats! Custom minis by Sprinkles Cupcakes! Mmmmm.....
PUPPY ADOPTION CENTER: Luca and I made this doghouse out of a cardboard box. We used the bottom of the box to finish the roof, we painted it, and we created the white picket fence out of flat sheets of cardboard (time consuming to map out and cut, but super cute!) The dogs are helium filled balloons with feet and leashes...so they "walk" with you (adores!) 

HIDDEN TREATS: we hid the goodie bags inside the doghouse. As kids left, they each got to go inside an pick their bag and "adopt" their pet.

ADOPTION CERTIFICATES: It was so funny, a woman walking by in the park stopped by to adopt a pet (since we had  real dogs hanging out near the "Adoption Center".  I had to ask her to return the Certificate of Adoption. LOL.

STAR DOGS!  "Grumbles" and "Princess Pickles" from the Nickelodeon hit show "Mutt and Stuff" stopped by for a few awesome tricks. We love their mama/trainer Sarah Clifford from Animal Savvy > the most humane animal/critter trainer on the planet!

My cutie with the MUTT & STUFF's "Grumbles" and "Princess Pickles"

MAGIC: Good friend, The Dancing Scientist Dr. Jeff, stopped by and did some magic tricks for the kiddos!

ESCAPE ROOM: Although not "puppy" related, we had MOBILE ESCAPE ROOM LA come to the party so the kids (and parents) could try to solve clues and puzzles to escape the vintage style room! Wish I had better photos! Despite the giant bottle of wine pictured here (prop), no alcohol was served! LOL!

GOODIE BAGS: Although it doesn't look like much, it adds up quickly! In lieu of handing out candy, all the kiddos received a helium-filled life-size doggie balloon and a plush mama dog carrying a puppy along with a  Certificate of Adoption, a book "Love That Dog", a dog collar bracelet (required to enter the Escape Room), a bubble wand, and a doggie pad of paper with matching pencil and erase. Luca put a cute animal sticker on each bag.
DETAIL: Closeup of some of the Goodie Bag goodies.

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!)

Well...mom-in-law 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 harden....so 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 up...it 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.