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A couple weeks ago I was hired to make cupcakes for a wedding.  The bride was open to what flavors she got, but she did request a batch of gluten free.  I had given her some of the cupcakes as a taste test from Harry’s Birthday party.  She loved the Almond Joy cupcakes and the Lemon Delight.  But wanted something different than the blue suede.

We settled on Lemon Delight which was lemon cake with homemade lemon curd filling and light whipped frosting (I love my Bettercream!).  I garnished them with white sugar crystals, yellow nonpareils and lemon gumdrops cut into wedges.

The next flavor was the Amond Joy I’d made before.  The cake was chocolate almond cake with coconut cream filling and topped with rich vanilla almond buttercream.  I garnished these with coconut shavings and raw almonds.

The next flavor was Raspberry white chocolate.  This was a white cake with raspberry filling and white chocolate mousse on top.  It is a very simple and classic wedding flavor.

Finally was the gluten-free.  I made a a gluten-free chocolate cake and filled it with a rich chocolate buttercream.  I topped it off with caramel mousse and light brown and dark brown sprinkles.  Long gone are the days of gluten-free being synonymous with tastes bad.  These ones were really rich and a huge hit.

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Happy 4th of July

Ha!  I just used the term “photo shoot” to describe what I’m about to post.  It really was a matter of hanging a flag on our fence, dressing Harry in a flag shirt, and snapping away.  I didn’t get too creative here, but I did get a good number of great shots.  This was a simple approach, but we got exactly what we were looking for.  Patriotic pics of our little man that show off her sweet personality.

 

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Monsters Inc has somewhat fallen to the wayside now that Monsters U has come out.  It’s still a cute movie, but difficult to find many decorations that don’t have the updated university imagery.  But my friend wanted to do a Monsters Inc party, nonetheless.  And she recruited me to make the cake and smash cake.

We decided on a Mike themed smash cake and Sully themed big cake.  The size difference was a great fit.  I thought maybe I’d put fur on the whole large cake, but it turns out that frosting fur is much harder on my hands than I had thought.  So, I decided to stop after covering the sides and then do some piping on the top.

The small cake is vanilla cake with vanilla Bettercream frosting.  The large cake is two layers of yellow cake and a layer of chocolate cake with white chocolate and caramel mousse fillings.  I frosted the cake with chocolate buttercream before decorating.  It was really yummy.

 

Monsters Inc Cakes

 

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I am a little behind on posting this, but I wanted to share anyway.  This last Easter, I found a fun pin on Pinterest that showed how to make a dessert version of an Easter classic, deviled eggs.  I was thrilled because they are beautiful, and who doesn’t love Jell-O!

I remembered that as a kid, my mom made some fun jello eggs out of some molds she had and I was happy to hear that she still had the molds.  They are available still on kraft.com and aren’t even too expensive.  I did have a couple failed attempts to get the molds open with breaking my jello eggs in half, but I learned that if I submerge the mold in near-boiling water for about ten seconds, they molds pop open easily enough.

Once I got the jello eggs out of the molds, I sliced them in half longways.  Just as you would if you were making real deviled eggs.  On the Pinterest post, they scooped a well out of the jello eggs to make a place for the cream filling.  I kept breaking my eggs when I tried to do this, so I decided to skip that step altogether.

In the end, I was quite happy with the way they turned out.  They were bright and fun and most importantly, yummy!  I think I may make them again some day!

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A friend of mine was in need of a smash cake for her little girl but she was on a tight timeline.  She was in the middle of moving and hadn’t planned a party, but wanted to do something special anyway.  So, I was happy to be able to help her out.  She sent me a picture of the outfit her little girl would be wearing and I knew immediately that I wanted to make her a pink ruffle cake.

This is the outfit that inspired the cake.

This is the outfit that inspired the cake.

 

I did a pink strawberry cake with pink vanilla buttercream frosting.  It was a small cake, only six inches in diameter, but it was also six inches tall.

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A couple weeks ago I made these awesome hostess copycat cupcakes. They’re chocolate cake with cream filling, chocolate ganache, and cute little loops on top. I used my good ol’ faithful pastry pride for the filling. I made the ganache with Nestle Tollhouse milk chocolate chips and cream. When making the ganache, I recommend finding a chocolate that you really like because that’s what the flavor will come from. Put it all in a sauce pan over low heat and add a little bit of cream. I know, lack of measurements is probably not very helpful, so here’s a rough guess of what I used – 1 cup chocolate chips and 1/4 cup cream. You can use more or less cream, but the whole point is to have the chocolate soft and pliable even when it cools back down.

The key to these cupcakes is the tall paper liners. I found some tall liners at Hobby Lobby, but I’ve also seen them at my local cake and candy supply store. The tall liners keeps the cake from spilling out and allows you to add the ganache once you’ve added the cream filling. Speaking of adding the ganache, I just spooned some onto the cupcakes once they were baked, cooled and filled with cream filling. While the ganache was still warm, I put a little white buttercream frosting into a ziplock bag and cut the corner off and piped the loops right on top. By doing this step before the ganache set, it allowed the cream to sink in a bit and set with the chocolate.

I had been wanting to try these for a while, so when my mom asked me to bring cupcakes for my dad’s birthday dinner, I was happy for an excuse to make them.

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We decided to have a library themed party for Harry’s first birthday.  We chose this theme because we want to promote reading, of course, and because Harry loves his books.  We also go to a weekly library that Harry really enjoys.  I started the party with the invitations.  I had a great idea of how I wanted it to look, so I got it done a couple MONTHS in advance.  But once I had the invitation done, I needed to start planning the actual party and I realized my idea wasn’t quite as broad as I had thought.  But, I was very happy with the way it all came together and I believe both Harry and our guests had a good time.

I mimicked the old libabry check-out cards for the invite.  I bought some old books at a thrift store to create a pocket that the card would slip into.

I mimicked the old libabry check-out cards for the invite. I bought some old books at a thrift store to create a pocket that the card would slip into.

I made this shirt for Harry.  I used some iron on bonding to adhere the ribbon suspenders and the one.  The bow tie I glued on with a hot glue gun.

I made this shirt for Harry. I used some iron on bonding to adhere the ribbon suspenders and the one. The bow tie I glued on with a hot glue gun.

While most of the party was outside, I did put up some decorations inside as well.  I found some cute 4x6 card packs on sale in the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby.  I punched holes and threaded them with yarn to make the banner.  Harry liked them.

While most of the party was outside, I did put up some decorations inside as well. I found some cute 4×6 card packs on sale in the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby. I punched holes and threaded them with yarn to make the banner. Harry liked them.

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I made banners out of old children's books.

I made banners out of old children’s books.

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We put clusters of balloons nailed into the grass to add color to an area where we couldn't otherwise hang anything.  It looked great.

We put clusters of balloons nailed into the grass to add color to an area where we couldn’t otherwise hang anything. It looked great.

Along the side of the house that has a wooded fence, we put up library sections and posters with books related quotes that I made on my computer then had printed at Staples.  I decided to go with a chalkboard look so that I could print in black and white without losing any of the effect I was going for.

Along the side of the house that has a wooded fence, we put up library sections and posters with books related quotes that I made on my computer then had printed at Staples. I decided to go with a chalkboard look so that I could print in black and white without losing any of the effect I was going for.

We put library section sings all around the yard, wherever we could find a way to make them stick.  This were hung on the balcony that over looks the backyard.

We put library section sings all around the yard, wherever we could find a way to make them stick. This were hung on the balcony that over looks the backyard.

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We hired a taco man for the main food, but wanted to make sure there were baby friendly foods as well.  I do think many of our guest (not just the little ones) enjoyed the option of Peanut Butter and Marshmallow or Cream Cheese and Jelly sandwiches.

We hired a taco man for the main food, but wanted to make sure there were baby friendly foods as well. I do think many of our guest (not just the little ones) enjoyed the option of Peanut Butter and Marshmallow or Cream Cheese and Jelly sandwiches.

I wanted to make sure there was something for the kids to actually do at the party besides just sit around, so I had an arts and crafts station and we gave out books as the party favor.  At the arts and crafts station, they could decorate party hats, decorate a bag to take home their goodies in, mold something out of play dogh and color.

I wanted to make sure there was something for the kids to actually do at the party besides just sit around, so I had an arts and crafts station and we gave out books as the party favor. At the arts and crafts station, they could decorate party hats, decorate a bag to take home their goodies in, mold something out of play dogh and color.

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I local thrift store sells children's books for 25 cents, so I was able to get enough that each child could pick one to take home as a favor.

I local thrift store sells children’s books for 25 cents, so I was able to get enough that each child could pick one to take home as a favor.

I made three types of cupcakes, Almond Joy, Lemon Delight, and Blue Suede.  They were all pretty good, but my favorites were the Blue Suede and Lemon Delight.

I made three types of cupcakes, Almond Joy, Lemon Delight, and Blue Suede. They were all pretty good, but my favorites were the Blue Suede and Lemon Delight.

I bought two packs of the candles that spell out Happy Birthday and swapped out the p's for r's and spray painted them so the candles would spell Harry's name.

I bought two packs of the candles that spell out Happy Birthday and swapped out the p’s for r’s and spray painted them so the candles would spell Harry’s name.

This shot cracks me up!  Harry didn't want to touch his cake at first, but once I finally got him to taste it, he realized he liked it after all.  He wanted to give it a big hug!

This shot cracks me up! Harry didn’t want to touch his cake at first, but once I finally got him to taste it, he realized he liked it after all. He wanted to give it a big hug!

This is Harry with one of his Aunties who he doesn't get to see too often, Paul's sister Kristi.

This is Harry with one of his Aunties who he doesn’t get to see too often, Paul’s sister Kristi.

Harry with Grandpa.

Harry with Grandpa.

This is Harry's cousin Gia.

This is Harry’s cousin Gia.

One of my dearest friends Tiffiny was able to make it!

One of my dearest friends Tiffiny was able to make it!

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Harry enjoyed some time with Grandma Katie before the party got started.

Randi and I met last year in our new mom's group right after our babies were born.  Her little guy, Charlie, is one of Harry's first friends.

Randi and I met last year in our new mom’s group right after our babies were born. Her little guy, Charlie, is one of Harry’s first friends.

Dan is one of Paul's oldest friends.  They went to high school together and Dan one even one of Paul's best men in our wedding.  It was great to see Dan and Sarah as they live pretty far and we don't the opportunity too often.

Dan is one of Paul’s oldest friends. They went to high school together and Dan one even one of Paul’s best men in our wedding. It was great to see Dan and Sarah as they live pretty far and we don’t the opportunity too often.

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This is Grandma Katie with Harry's youngest cousin, Luka, who is only a month old!

This is Grandma Katie with Harry’s youngest cousin, Luka, who is only a month old!

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These are my parents, Dan and Mary. Harry loves his grandma and grandpa!

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This is my Grandpa, so Harry’s Great Grandpa, with one of my younger cousins Tommy. We were so glad they were all able to come.

There was a great turn out for the part!  We were so glad to see everyone and it was fun to gather all the kids for a picture.

There was a great turn out for the part! We were so glad to see everyone and it was fun to gather all the kids for a picture.

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When Harry was born, I joined a new mom support group. At the time there were about a dozen moms and we all had babies about the same time. I stayed in touch with a good handful of them, and now since it’s been a year, it’s birthday party season. So I’ve got about five birthday parties to attend within about a month. And that’s not counting Harry’s party which is coming up in two weeks.

Since we have lots of birthday parties to attend, I wanted to do something special for each one. But of course buying gifts isn’t always the most special thing to do. And I know Harry got a lot of Christmas gifts, so I don’t necessarily think that toys are with my friends need. So I offered to make the smash cakes. And a couple of our friends took us up on it.

For the party we went to yesterday, they were having a Safari themed birthday. It wasn’t an all out traditional Safari, it was more like a “first birthday girly colors with giraffes and elephants Safari.”

For the cake, I decided to use sprinkles. I made the cake with vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream because it’s the safest most mild cake flavors for a one-year-old to eat. I cut out some shapes using my Cricut and wax paper. I borrowed a cartridge from a friend of mine that has some really cute Safari birthday animals. Once the cake was frosted, I put the cut out shapes onto the frosting. And then the fun part! I put handfuls of sprinkles and just pressed them into the side of the cake. I used different colors around the sides, and then used a lot of the sprinkles that had fallen off on the top.

Once the cake was covered in sprinkles, I put it into the fridge to let the frosting set. Buttercream frosting can get really firm in the fridge, just like butter does. So I wanted the cake in the coldness of the fridge to get nice and firm before removing the wax paper. Once the frosting was firm, I simply peeled off the wax paper cutouts. And I was left with a beautiful white smooth spot where the wax paper had been. I took a knife to carve out the shape of an ear on the elephant and the eyes on the giraffe. I even added a little reflection in the balloon that’s tied to the dress tail.

I was very pleased with the way the cake turned out, and I know that little Evey liked it too.

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For Harry’s first birthday, I decided not to go get pictures done. Instead I decided to do them myself. I knew this was a risk, because I’m not a pro, but I also didn’t want to pay an arm and a leg for cute pictures of my little guy. I recruited my mom and my husband to help out, and we headed to the park. I brought props and snacks for my little guy. Here is a good handful of my favorites.

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I used the Rohnna Designs app to add the cute stars and border to this one. The app is only a couple bucks and has tons of fun options to dress up your pictures.

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I left the board blank for the pictures and added the text afterwards. This will allow me more freedom and pretty writing.

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I shared the invitation and the food in a previous post, about a baby shower I threw for my friend Katie.  Now, I will share some of the decorations and activities.

We hung this sign up on the garage door that directed guests to go around the side of the house to the back yard.

We hung this sign up on the garage door that directed guests to go around the side of the house to the back yard.

As guests walked back, they started to see evidence of the nautical theme with these cute luminaries that I ordered from Oriental Trading Co.

As guests walked back, they started to see evidence of the nautical theme with these cute luminaries that I ordered from Oriental Trading Co.

We put a picnic table near the entrance for guests to drop off their gifts.

We put a picnic table near the entrance for guests to drop off their gifts.

I put out some small diapers and a bunch of sharpie markers.  We instructed guests to write a note to the new parents that they could read during a midnight diaper change.  Some notes were sweet and encouraging, some were funny.

I put out some small diapers and a bunch of sharpie markers. We instructed guests to write a note to the new parents that they could read during a midnight diaper change. Some notes were sweet and encouraging, some were funny.

Instead of a guest book, we asked guests to add their fingerprint to the tree.  Katie and Todd now have his hanging in their home were they can be reminded of all the people who love and support them.

Instead of a guest book, we asked guests to add their fingerprint to the tree. Katie and Todd now have this hanging in their home were they can be reminded of all the people who love and support them.

We created a photo booth backdrop using pvc pipes and a flat bed sheet.  I hung a bit of fish netting and cute red, white and blue pennant banner on to it.  I found a collection of props to use including a skipper hat, a sailer hat, chalk board, and some paper cut-outs.

We created a photo booth backdrop using pvc pipes and a flat bed sheet. I hung a bit of fish netting and a cute red, white and blue pennant banner on to it. I found a collection of props to use including a skipper hat, a sailer hat, chalk board, and some paper cut-outs.

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There we with our dear friends shortly before they became parents.

There we are with our dear friends shortly before they became parents.

Brothers!

Brothers!

Sisters!

Sisters!

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This is one of my favorite photo booth shots.  Clearly the guests got creative and had tons of fun.

This is one of my favorite photo booth shots. Clearly the guests got creative and had tons of fun.

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Another activity was onsie decorating.  I used Rit Dye to dye some of the onsies red and some blue.  I used my cricut to create a bunch of freezer paper stencils that were pre-adhered to the onsies.  And buy hanging them up, they served as an activity and a beautiful decoration.

Another activity was onsie decorating. I used Rit Dye to dye some of the onsies red and some blue. I used my cricut to create a bunch of freezer paper stencils that we pre-adhered to the onsies. And buy hanging them up, they served as an activity and a beautiful decoration.

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Towards the end of the party, DH and I went over and started removing the freezer paper to reveal the finished onsies.  If you look closely, you can see that I attached tags to the onsies.  We did this so that guests could sign the ones they painted and Katie and Todd would know who made them.

Katie's sister brought this wreath made out of cloth diapers and cute socks as a gift and a decoration.

Katie’s sister brought this wreath made out of cloth diapers and cute socks as a gift and a decoration.

After the gifts were opened, we put out the favors of the now cleared off gift table.

After the gifts were opened, we put out the favors on the now cleared off gift table.

The favors were wrapped of packs of gourmet cookies.  I found these bags on Oriental Trading and printed labels to match the invitations.

The favors were wrapped up packs of gourmet cookies. I found these bags on Oriental Trading and printed labels to match the invitations.

The cookies were all home made.  My mom and I made brown butter salted caramel cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies, heath chocolate chip cookies and m&m chocolate chip cookies.  Each pack had two.

The cookies were all home made. My mom and I made brown butter salted caramel cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies (based of this recipe), heath chocolate chip cookies and m&m chocolate chip cookies. Each pack had two.

Here are a couple more shots… not of anything specific, but of the party as a whole.

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It was a very hot day, so several of the guest lined up under the misters to cool off and watch the gifts be opened.

It was a very hot day, so several of the guest lined up under the misters to cool off and watch the gifts be opened.

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And here's my two guys!  My cute little man in his sailor onsie that I found at Old Navey and my hot hubby who was so incredibly helpful throughout the entire party planning and throwing process.

And here are my two guys! My cute little man in his sailor onsie that I found at Old Navy and my hot hubby who was so incredibly helpful throughout the entire party planning and throwing process.

Within about a week of this party, Katie and Todd got a call that a ten month old boy needed a home.  Shortly after, a newborn girl was placed in their care as well.  They are blessed with a full home and full hearts.  And as their friend, I am so very happy to be a part of it.

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