January 9, 2012 § 5 Comments
Happy New Year! And happy birthday, Professor Tolkien! J.R.R. Tolkien was born on January 3, a birthday shared by my youngest sister, so of course I often make a Tolkien themed something. Last year I made hobbit hole cupcakes. This year I made a cake! And I’ve had The Hobbit on the brain (who doesn’t, lately?) so it had to be a Smaug cake.
Smaug, curled up on his hoard of stolen dwarvish treasure.
My Smaug is inspired/loosely based on this illustration by Tolkien:
I made Smaug out of fondant, molded mostly with my hands with a little help from a chopstick and a sharp knife. I used an icing tip to press ‘scales’ into the fondant of Smaug’s body, and the handle of my small offset spatula to press indentations for the arm and leg sockets, and made the limbs (legs/arms and wings) separately. I let the fondant dry and harden overnight, then painted the pieces with gel food coloring mixed with vodka, and then brushed it all over with sparkly yellow luster dust.
The cake itself is a chocolate cake, filled and covered with peanut butter mousse. Then I put a wire cooling rack across the sink, set the cake on it (holding it carefully with one hand to make sure that it didn’t slip and dump my cake into the sink!), and covered the cake with sparkly yellow sugar sprinkles for gold, red, green, and blue sugar sprinkles for gems, white nonpareils for pearls, and a sprinkling of gold luster dust for extra sparkle–a delicious hoard that would make any dragon proud!
August 28, 2011 § 3 Comments
So, if you know me from anywhere else on the internet then you already know, but last week we celebrated my friend Angela’s birthday with a little Firefly-themed shindig! And it was awesome! In fact, it was shiny.
If you have no idea what Firefly is, then go forth and watch it. All of it. Then come back. We’ll wait.
…awesome, isn’t it?
It was very much a laid-back, small scale event for us—Chinese take-out, fresh fruit (strawberries!), cake, and party games while Firefly played on the TV.
My big project, which was a surprise for Angela, was a doll cake based on the fluffy ball dress that Kaylee wears in the episode ‘Shindig’!
She’s a vanilla sponge cake, carved into shape and then filled and covered with Swiss Meringue Buttercream. The doll came from the dollar store, and once upon a time she was a mermaid with really terrible hair–she came with a ponytail, so other than a ring of hair around the top of her head she was bald! I colored the bald spot with a brown marker, then used a hot glue gun to glue her hair into place (carefully covering her scalp). Then I trimmed her hair, cutting off the ugly matted fresh-from-the-box curls and making it the right length for Kaylee.
While I was gluing things I also glued all of the doll’s joints, and forced one of her arms to one side and glued it in place so that she could have a pose that didn’t look like a stiff-armed zombie! In fact I was so busy gluing and icing things that I didn’t take a single progress picture, but you’d rather look at more pictures of the finished cake, right? I thought so!
I didn’t time my cake decorating, but I estimate that I spent about an hour and a half piping the ruffles onto her skirt, then another hour and a half altering the doll and decorating her bodice (the single most time consuming part of the doll? getting icing onto her torso and making it smooth!). I know that I worked on the cake from about 4pm until 8pm, and I watched all of Wall-E while I did the bodice. My favorite part was making the ruffles–they were so fun! I could have piped ruffles for hours.
My hand was definitely hurting the next day, but it was worth it!
Birthday girl & cake!
There were also chocolate cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese icing, complete with parasols (another reference to the Firefly character Kaylee)…
Angela made a gorgeous Inara in her sari!
I decided to portray a character who doesn’t actually appear in the show–“Ma Cobb”. In the Firefly episode ‘The Message’, Jayne Cobb, the rough-around-the-edges-and-he-is-entirely-made-of-edges tough guy, gets a package from his mother containing a very cunning hat:
Imagining the tough old salt-of-the-earth woman who would raise a son like Jayne and send him a hat like that tickles my funny bone, and that is the truth. It was also easy! I just filled my apron pockets with orange yarn (and yes, I have this yarn specifically for the Jayne hats that I will get around to knitting sometime) and wore a ratty straw hat. I also borrowed a toy rifle. And I got to take pictures with llamas! A win all around.
And Jenn came as Jayne! …Mostly because it meant she got to carry around a big knife.
The party games were excellent–we played a game that I think some people call ‘Who am I?’, but which we call the ‘pieces of paper with names on the forehead game’. Most people play it as a mixer, with everyone milling around, but I prefer our version–everyone wrote a name, then gave it to the person next to them, who put it on their forehead without looking at it. Then everyone got three questions (‘either or’ questions, like ‘am I male or female?’, or ‘yes and no’ questions, like ‘am I from an awesome TV show about cowboys in space that was cruelly canceled after one perfect season?’) and a chance to guess their identity, and we went around the table like that. When someone figured out who they were, the person on the other side of them would give them a new identity and we just kept going. Most people figured out who they were within two or three rounds…in fact, most people had figured out two identities before I managed to guess my first! (I was Bambi. Thanks, Z!)
We also played ‘the sentence game’, which we sometimes explain to people as ‘Pictionary Telephone’–it involves each player having a stack of paper, writing a sentence, then passing the stack to the left, where the next person reads the sentence, draws a picture illustrating it, then passes to the left again, where the next person looks at the picture and writes down what they think the sentence might be. At the end everyone goes through their stack and hilarity never fails to ensue, especially when people add their own special interpretations…
Best party ever?
Best party ever.
July 5, 2011 § 1 Comment
More Wonderland tutorials will be coming up (as soon as I have time to put two thoughts together) but in the meantime I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July!
I know that I did!
July 2, 2011 § 1 Comment
I was going to start posting my Wonderland party tutorials tomorrow, but decided at the last minute that I wanted to put this one up today (you’ll find out why at the bottom of the post). It’s really a very simple project that hardly merits a tutorial (she said self-deprecatingly)–in fact it’s so simple that I will use hardly any words at all–but I’m a visual learner and I like to see how things are put together, so there you go.
Besides, I wanted a sandwich.
You will need: Bread (I used round flat bread because there was no regular bread in the house), peanut butter, strawberry jam, and two heart-shaped cookie cutters, one small enough to fit inside the other.
…and there you have it. A peanut butter & (strawberry) jelly sandwich fit for the Queen of Hearts.
Of course, the same concept works very well with other cut out shapes, too, like this:
Happy Canada Day!
June 25, 2011 § 125 Comments
Hi everyone! Well, as usual I’m behind on everything, but I thought I’d log on to….
…did you hear a rustle in the grass?
A white rabbit! He seems to be in an awful hurry, too. Let’s see where he’s going…
Well, goodness gracious. This must be Wonderland. And what’s this? A stylish party in the sunshine? And plenty of teacups to go around? And you’re all invited? Excellent! (I knew it all along)
May I introduce the honorable tea pots? They’re an essential part of the proceedings at a tea party, you know.
Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, how do you do?
Perhaps you’d like to stop and paint the roses? I see that they aren’t quite finished…
Would you like some nibbles?
These may look like fancy tarts, but they’re actually PB&(s)J–peanut butter & strawberry jam sandwiches!
As you can see, in Wonderland we like to play with our food. Chess is much harder when people keep eating parts of the board!
Perhaps a cupcake? No? Ah, I know what you really want…
- You want a slice of cake! But Wonderland is no ordinary place, you know, and this is no ordinary cake…
It’s a chessboard cake! Only appropriate on this side of the looking glass, you know.
Thank you for coming to my tea party! There will be some behind-the-scenes details and tutorials coming soon! In the meantime you can find more tea parties to attend by checking out the blogroll at A Fanciful Twist.
Special thanks to my Papa and my sister Melody, who helped fight the odds to make these pictures happen! Papa made me a custom tray for my chessboard and put the legs back on my table, and Melody helped carry everything and stepped in for the role of Young Lady in White Dress. <3!
June 1, 2011 § 1 Comment
a grey eyed girl is participating in this year’s Mad Tea Party! Last year I threw a Mad Tea Party for my sister’s graduation, and I’ve been dying to do it again (…on a slightly smaller scale!) ever since, so I’m very excited. Here’s how the event works:
1) It’s hosted by A Fanciful Twist, which posts links to the participating blogs
2) The participating blogs each post about their own Mad Tea Party
3) Then on the day of the party everyone everyone gets to ‘blog surf’ and virtually attend all of the different parties
Sounds awesome, right? So be watching this space and get out your best teacups and haberdashery, because on June 25th we’ll all be mad here!
February 13, 2011 § 1 Comment
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day!
…yeah, I don’t really get excited about Valentine’s Day. When I was growing up I did get excited about Chocolate Eclair Day, which also happened to be on February 14th, and everyone knows that the real holiday is Discount Chocolate Day on February 15th, but Valentine’s Day itself has always struck me as a little pointless.
Still, I love a theme, and a couple of weeks ago when I volunteered to bring dessert to Bible study I must have had hearts on the brain because this was what I made:
Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to tell you that cake mix cookies are not only the easiest thing in the world, they are delicious and decadent–one cookie sandwich was enough to knock me over, anyway. I had to sit quietly and recover from the sugar rush.
But when I say that it’s the easiest thing in the world, I really mean it–if you need a last minute Valentine’s Day treat, look no further!
For the cookies themselves, you just need
1 box of cake mix
1/2 cup of oil
AND THAT’S IT. You just mix up those three things, scoop out balls of the resulting dough onto a cookie sheet, and bake at 350F for about 8 minutes, until the top of the cookie cracks slightly. I scooped my cookies out with a tablespoon, but they were very large–next time I’ll use a teaspoon instead.
The icing is also simple:
8 oz cream cheese
6 oz white chocolate
1 stick butter
Beat cream cheese until fluffy, add in melted chocolate (I chopped up my chocolate and melted it in the microwave, stopping every thirty seconds to stir until it was smooth) and softened butter, then mix until light and airy.
Once your cookies have cooled simply match them in pairs, spread with icing, and sandwich together. Easy as pie. Except EASIER than pie, because pie can actually be a lot of trouble.
If you want to be ambitious and keep things really tidy, then you can also use a piping bag to fill your cookies:
It’s not really necessary, but it was quick and easy, since I had the piping bag ready to ice my cupcakes anyway–I used the same icing for both red velvet cookie sandwiches and chocolate cupcakes, and it was delicious on both. The cupcakes, by the way, were Cupcake 22 from Ming Makes Cupcakes, one of my favorite go-to cupcake recipes (Cupcake 1 and Cupcake 24 are also very popular in my house). To dress up my cupcakes I just melted a handful of red candy coating in a disposable piping bag by microwaving it, stopping every thirty seconds to squish the bag until the candy coating was smooth and runny, then snipped the tip off of the bag and piped hearts out onto wax paper. Easy peasy, and it made for a pretty presentation–
January 3, 2011 § 5 Comments
I spent most of my childhood in countries that don’t exist–Narnia, Oz, Prydain, Never-Never Land, Wonderland–but it all began with Middle Earth. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are in my earliest memories. January 3rd is J.R.R. Tolkien’s birthday, so to celebrate I made cupcakes. Hobbit hole cupcakes!
If I could choose to live in a fictional place, the Shire would be high on my list–I would make an excellent hobbit. Since I can’t move into Bag End right away (unfortunately) these will have to do for now.
I made chocolate cupcakes and froze them, so that they’d be easier to cut, and then trimmed off one side to make a flat surface–
The hobbit doors are made from candy melts–the door knobs and hinges are yellow candy melts, put into a disposable piping bag and microwaved in thirty second increments and then piped on–
I covered the cupcakes with green fondant, then used more melted candy coating to stick the doors onto the flat side of the cupcake. I melted some more green candy coating and piped it onto the sides of the cupcakes for grass, and added flower sprinkles–
October 30, 2010 § Leave a comment
I love Halloween–I love candy! and costumes! and pumpkins! and weird folklore and traditions! It is a match made in holiday heaven.
Last year I helped my friend Angela with her Halloween Murder Mystery party, and it was so much fun that we decided to throw another Halloween party this year.
Because we are grown-ups, and we need all of the excuses to wear costumes that we can get.
For our theme I chose one of my favorite Halloween movies, Arsenic & Old Lace
The party was a candy potluck–guests brought a bag of their favorite candy to add to the table, and there were treat bags to be filled and taken home–but there were a few more treats for the lace-draped buffet table as well…
Green mad scientist punch, sparkling grape juice, pumpkin soup….
Sugar cookies, s’mores on sticks, mummified baby fingers (okay, okay, they were just pigs in a blanket, and you can’t even see them because I forgot to take the towel off of the basket)
Poisoned apple with caramel sauce and toppings–marshmallows, toffee bits, and chopped almonds
Gingerbread cupcakes with marshmallow filling, served with whipped cream
And, not quite in theme, an experiment in cookies honoring Día de los Muertos:
What will you be for Halloween? I was Salome, and St. John the Baptist was my date for the evening:
October 17, 2010 § 3 Comments
While the Beast was lurking in his castle, being mopey and full of rage, he didn’t pay much attention to his wardrobe. He stuck to the basics: the cloak. It is important that he wear a cloak, so that he can swirl it. There’s a lot of impressive cloak swirling in the movie, and I love a good, swirly cloak, so I had to make a cupcake wrapper for it!
You will need
–maroon scrapbook paper
–maroon tissue paper
–the Beast cloak template
You’ll cut out two pieces, the tissue paper taller than the scrapbook paper. You want the tissue paper to have a ragged edge, like the torn hem of the Beast’s cloak, but if you just tear the paper you won’t get the look you want–the paper will want to tear on the grain, rather than raggedly. Instead, take a damp cloth and dab it along the upper edge of the tissue paper
Then pull the damp edges off with a pinching motion–
Then tape the edges together and voila!
Fortunately the Beast managed to find another outfit in time for the ball
(maybe he was friends with some mice)
To make the Beast’s fancy suit, you will need
–blue scrapbook paper
–yellow scrapbook paper
–a small piece of white tissue paper
–a gold paint pen
–the Fancy Suit Template
Cut the two primary pieces out of your blue scrapbook paper and set them aside. Cut the smaller waistcoat piece out of your yellow scrapbook paper, and cut two slits for the cravat
Fold this center flap back, and put a bit of double-sided tape on it
Crumple your tissue paper a bit to give it texture, and put it into the slot, crumpling and gathering it, and fold the flap back up to hold it in place
Fold it over the back and trim the edges, then glue or tape them down on the back of the waistcoat
Put double-stick tape on the pointed flaps to either side of the waistcoat and attach it to your coat pieces
You’re almost done! Just use your paint pen to add the final details to your wrapper–a ‘v’ on either side of the cravat for a collar, a double row of buttons down the center of the waistcoat….
…and a row of buttons down either side of the coat, and a line around the top and bottom edges of the wrapper
Fancy suits aside, I think we can all agree that there is one dress in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast that outshines all of the other outfits:
Now there is a dress that fulfills all of my childhood fantasies (Off the shoulder? check. Gloves? check. Giant, fluffy, swirly skirt? check!)
For Belle’s ball gown, you will need
–yellow scrapbook paper
–yellow tissue paper
–a gold paint pen
–double sided tape
–ribbon roses (look for these in the button/ribbons/notions aisles of your local craft stores)
Belle’s ball gown has four layers–the smallest one will be cut out of scrapbook paper, and the other three tiers will be cut out of tissue paper.
Use your paint pen to draw swags on the scallops of the tissue paper layers
Now just stack your layers up–apply double sided tape to the back of your scrapbook paper and lay it on top of the smallest tissue paper, then apply double sided tape to the back of the tissue paper and lay it on the next size up, and repeat. Make sure that you put them on in the right order, because it is a pain if you put them on in the wrong order and then have to peel them back off without tearing them and start over. Ahem.
Glue on your roses–I used my hot glue gun, but you could use any craft glue that will dry clear