Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Decorating - Laguna Beach

I was so excited when my very favorite Doctor called me to ask if I would help her decorate her house for Christmas this year. (Anything to help out the woman who delivered both of my beautiful babies!) She has a beautiful home that just needed a tiny boost of Christmas cheer. So we used all her family decorations and enhanced the traditional Christmas feel with a little bit of fresh greenery, poinsettias, and elegant ribbons. I made several centerpieces and candle holders for various places throughout the house, as well as a few fresh flower arrangements with deep red roses, white stock, white "pom" mums and seeded eucalyptus. I wrapped the beautiful stairway in her entryway with gorgeous embroidered ribbon, fresh cedar garland, berry branches and velvet poinsettias. And the dramatic 6 foot fireplace mantel got a similar treatment with ribbon, poinsettias, and fresh cedar; it was a nice enhancement to show off her family of caroler figures. Their Christmas tree was full of their family ornaments, and I added just a few poinsettias and berry branches to tie it all together. The pops of deep red color worked so well with the dark wood floors and wood beamed ceilings and light color walls of the house. I was honored to be able to be part of her family's holiday this year. Thanks Dr. R! xoxo

Black and White Cupcakes

Ok, I just had to post this because I think these turn out so cool! The black and white cupcakes are just so beautiful and tasty that they needed their own post. I am a big fan of anything resembling a "sampler platter"; this is either my tendency to be indecisive with a menu, or a product of my love for food. These cupcakes hit the mark...2 flavors in one. Heaven! I saw the idea in a magazine a while back; the article showed a lady and her mom who would make the cupcakes together, one with the vanilla batter and one with the chocolate, and they poured in unison (heartwarming, I know). Unfortunately, I do most of my baking with only the kids around, and my 3 year old is not that steady. So I figured out a way to do it myself. I put both batters in their own freezer zipper bag, then snip off a corner of each bag. Then somehow, I take a bag in each hand and squeeze out the batter as evenly as possible into each paper liner. They look a little messy before they're baked (bottom photo), but they turn out magically delicious once they're out of the oven (top photo). It seems a shame to cover them with don't get to see how cute they are until you peel off the paper liner!

Nursing School Grad Cupcakes

These cupcakes were for nursing school graduation party. The grad wanted cupcakes with white frosting with the red medical cross on top. I made two dozen just as requested, with different sugar sprinkles, and the last dozen I bumped up the design. I made a nurse hat out of white fondant with a red cross that sat on top of the cupcakes. The cupcakes were lemon, choc choc chip, and black&white. I always like to try new stuff, and this was a fun theme. Hope you had a great party Ann, and congratulations!

Christmas 2009

It's Christmas at my house again! You would think that with an active 19-month old in the house, we wouldn't bother. But the kids are surprisingly good about leaving the decorating (for the most part) alone. I wanted to post these personal photos just to give an idea of my decorating style. Now for my house, I tend to choose a whimsy, peppermint candy and snowman theme for my living room. This is influenced by my kids, but also reflects my taste, as I love "cutesy" and I love snowmen. The regular decor in my house is mainly inspired by Hawaii with a "Tommy Bahama" feel (I would like to think so, anyway!) So before kids, our tree reflected the spirit of Aloha - pineapples, orchids and copper poinsettias. We decided to put our Hawaii tree upstairs this year in our newly remodeled bonus room (and we simply replaced all our green and copper glass bulbs with gold plastic ones). It's been fun to have 2 trees up (actually, we have 5 this year! 3 more small ones in various spots) and really brings the spirit of Christmas to the whole house.
I would love to decorate for other people as well. So if you're interested in help during the holidays, for a special event, or just for everyday decor, contact me for a free quote. I can use your existing decor and add to it, bring in a new color scheme, or replace everything for a fresh new look. Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pokemon Cake

This 2-tiered "death by chocolate" cake was for a fellow baker who just didn't have time this year to do the cake herself. So I was honored when she asked me to complete it for her. She provided me with a picture of a cake she found on the internet, plus she gave me actual Pokemon toys to use as cake toppers. So this was going to be a slam dunk! But of course, when the cakes were baked, iced and stacked, there wasn't enough room for the Pikachu toy to fit on the cake. So I had to make my own Pikachu out of fondant. I was kind of glad...all those toys to decorate felt like cheating! So I was happy with the way my little yellow friend turned out. Everything on his body was molded with fondant, then I drew on his nose and mouth with an edible marker (by the way, those markers are really cool! Try them some time...) The red bands and letters on the cake were also cut from fondant, as were the stars and lightning bolts. And the big Poke Ball on top was a toy (don't think I baked that too!) I can't take credit for the design, but the execution turned out well. And I hear the birthday boy Teyo was very happy. Phew!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Cupcakes

These were so much fun to do. For those of you who are afraid to use fondant, don't be! It's like edible playdough for grown-ups. And with a few cookie cutters, it makes some really cute cupcake toppers! These cupcakes were for fun and practice, and I wanted some Christmas designs to feature on the blog, so my husband's staff at work had a really nice week! They are always so grateful when he brings in treats.
I made 4 designs, all using fondant. The gingerbread men (on gingerbread cupcakes) were cut out of fondant and I piped icing details on top. For the holly cupcakes (red velvet cake), I cut the holly leaves out of fondant and brushed them with a metallic green luster dust. The holly berries were red hot candies. The candy canes (on peppermint cookies and cream cupcakes) I actually rolled out of fondant (then decided a real candy cane would have been just as cute and much less work - but I'm playing with techniques here). And the poinsettias (on yellow spice cupcakes) I also cut from fondant and piped the yellow centers with icing. All the cupcakes got some festive sprinkles to give a little sparkle. They were a big hit, and the perfect way to get in the mood for the holidays!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mini Cupcakes

So before I started all this baking, my husband would complain that he didn't like cupcakes because they were "unsatisfying". (He likes a big piece of cake for his big sweet tooth!) So I never dared to make mini cupcakes for fear of all the complaining. But I was asked to be part of a holiday boutique at a friend's house this week, and I thought I would come simply to pass out my business card and bring mini cupcake samples. And I have to tell you, they turned out so adorable! They were still moist, and their mini size encouraged guests to try more than one flavor. I set them up on cake plates in a little display on the kitchen counter; the display was so cute that I decided that I should offer mini cupcakes too! They would make a really fun dessert buffet. And they're easy to eat (gone in two bites, or one if no one is looking!) I offered samples of seven different flavors (including 3 new ones that I've developed for the holidays): cappuccino, champagne orange, chocolate chocolate chip, yellow spice (wine cake), red velvet, gingerbread and peppermint cookies and cream. So, mini cupcakes are now available for $20 per 2 dozen (2 dozen minimum)

Princess Cupcakes

Hear ye, hear ye, calling all princesses! I was excited to try some designs for these princess- inspired cupcakes. I wanted to do some dramatic princess crowns, so I drew myself a pattern and cut these out of pink fondant. The cut outs on the crowns were made with an embossing tool (new toys!) that also created the little designs around the cut out part. Then I added the silver dragees to the points on the crowns. They dried for a little while in my muffin pans, then got perched regally on a swirled mound of frosting. The coconut cupcakes got a little pink fondant flower to dress up their fuzzy blanket of flaked coconut. The glass slippers I molded out of white chocolate and painted with pearl highlighting powder. And the stars were cut out of fondant, pearlized and stuck with a clear toothpick to make a princess wand. And all the cupcakes got a dusting of edible glitter, some with the irridescent "pixie dust" glitter and some with my new silver "disco" glitter (all little birthday girls need the BLING!) The cupcakes were a mix of different cake flavors: coconut, chocolate chocolate chip, banana chocolate chip, cookies and cream, and strawberry (I love doing baking for friends who let me throw in whatever I have available!)

Carrot Cupcakes

Do you know that I have been doing this baking for about a year and no one had ever requested carrot cake until this week? (Obviously you haven't tasted my cream cheese frosting!) So I decided that these babies should get a post of their own. They were really tasty. I've been trying not to eat my own baking lately, but carrot cake with cream cheese icing is downright irresistable. The birthday boy requested carrot cake only, and now I remember why! There's vegetables in there...that means they're good for you, right?
So I was going to send them out with just the sprinkles, but they were a little dull. So I added simple fondant stars and chocolate "Happy Birthday" plaques. It dressed them up a bit. Who doesn't like a chocolate appetizer before the main course?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Cupcakes

These cupcakes were for Thanksgiving dinner! I was given free reign to design some "elegant" cupcakes that were a break from the usual Thanksgiving desserts. So I went with some non-traditional cake flavors (Yellow Spice, Coconut Cream, Cappuccino, and Champagne Orange). The turkeys, leaves and pumpkins were all molded out of chocolate, then brushed with edible gold highlighting powder. I used gold and white sanding sugar and orange sprinkles to dress up the pale orange and yellow frosting underneath. I loved the way they turned out, very "fall" and festive. I hope they were thankful to try something new!

Girls' Night Out Cupcakes

These cupcakes were for a 40th birthday celebration at a spa. They wanted something fun and girly, so what's more girly than shoes, purses and flowers? I molded the shoes from chocolate, and the flowers and purses were made with fondant. I cut out the purses and all the beaded handles from fondant, hand painted them with luster dust, and added candy sprinkles and dragees. So YES, everything was edible (my golden rule of cake designs). I also used a new edible glitter this time (called "disco silver"! woo hoo!) which gave all the cupcakes a cool sparkle. The purses were so much fun to design. The cupcakes were four flavors: Cappuccino, Champagne Orange, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, and Banana Chocolate Chip. And they all got a generous dollup of my homemade vanilla icing. I hear they were a big hit! Thanks Gals!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pretty In Pink Cupcakes

These cupcakes were for a 50th birthday for a lady who loves pink (someone after my own heart!) I did 3 different flavors (Coconut Cream, Chocolate Chocolate Chip and Lemon) and 3 different designs. They were simple and pretty with a little sparkle from the sugar topping. They were displayed on my favorite cupcake stand with hanging crystals (I didn't get a photo of them on the stand, but I will post a picture of that soon. It's available for rental.) For the top cupcake on the tower, I made a "50" out of chocolate. And I just had to post a separate photo of the Coconut cupcakes because I think they look so cute and fluffy with that blanket of flaked coconut. They remind me of the old "snow balls" from when I was a kid, but much tastier and a little more sophisticated. I've had a couple people mention that they wanted cupcakes but didn't have a voila! No theme necessary!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Winnie the Pooh Cake

Silly old bear! This Winnie the Pooh cake was for a 2nd Birthday party. It was a lemon cake with lemon filling. I iced the whole cake with vanilla frosting, then marked the pattern on the cake. I was kind of happy with myself figuring out how to transfer my daughter's coloring book image onto the cake (this is where my MacGyver skills come into involved a copy machine, an exacto knife and a toothpick!) Then I spread the yellow frosting on with a spatula. The ears and nose were built with halves of sculpted cupcakes to give it a little more 3-D effect. Then I piped on the blue and red details with icing. I outlined his face and made his eyes and nose out of melted chocolate. Around the cake I wrote "Happy Birthday Patrick" for the little birthday boy. Then I added "bees" that I made out of chocolate and sliced almonds around the cake. He turned out really adorable! My three-year-old daughter told me "Great job, Mom". And my 18-month-old son pointed at the cake and yelled "OOH". I couldn't ask for nicer compliments. At least the kids are impressed!

Kaylin's Baptism Cake

This cake was for some dear friends of ours. I love doing projects for friends because they usually give me free artistic license to do "whatever". The cake was a fun project because I got to try some new cake decorating toys; I have these little pattern presses that gives you an impression in the frosting so you can trace over with a frosting line. (Oh shoot, my secret is out!) I mean, I "free-handed" all the green decorative vines. The vines and the pink borders I piped with frosting, but I made all the flowers from pink and purple fondant. I love the way the fondant flowers stand out a little from the cake and give it a little more dimension. And the finished cake got a little dusting of edible "pixie dust" to give it a little sparkle. Our guest of honor requested her favorite flavor cake: banana chocolate chip. (Good choice Kaylin. My husband is still talking about that one...he got a leftover cupcake and has been raving about how rich it was!) We were sorry to have missed the party this time, but I hope they liked the cake! Congratulations Kaylin!

More Beach Cupcakes

Aren't we lucky to live in So Cal and still get to feel "beachy" in November? I have done similar cupcakes to these in the past, but the beach cupcakes are always so cute that they're worth repeating. I added the flip-flops to my chocolate mold collection, and I like the way they look with the umbrellas. The "sand" is a mixture of graham cracker crumbs and raw sugar, so it has a little sparkle. And the beach buckets are also molded chocolate, which I fill with a little frosting to help the sand stick. So it's like getting a little candy treat before your cupcake! This was for a friend's daughter's 8th birthday; the cupcakes were chocolate chocolate chip, lemon and cookies & cream. Happy Birthday Paige! Hope your sleepover was lots of fun!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Superhero Halloween Cake

So what do you get when you cross Halloween and boy birthdays? Spooky Superheros! Our birthday boy, who's birthday party was on Halloween this year, was very specific about which superheroes he wanted on his cake: Spider Man, Iron Man, and a Green Power Ranger. So I created this design to encorporate everything for his party. The base cake was a square layer cake (chocolate chocolate chip) covered in chocolate icing and topped with chocolate cookie crumbs to look like dirt. I piped the white iron fence with royal icing. The grass was piped on with regular icing and topped with mallowcreme candy pumpkins. The spooky gingerbread house was actually a cake as well, covered in piped icing, complete with shutters of Fruit Stripe gum, candy corn eaves, and a Necco wafer roof. I hand made each of the superheroes from brightly colored fondant; I drew in details on Spider Man with a food marker and painted the other characters with luster dust. I think it turned out really fun and not too spooky, but still very Halloween-y. Mom loved it - hopefully the birthday boy did too. Hope you had a Super-fun birthday party Ryan!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Spooky Skeleton Cupcakes

Boo! These cupcakes were for a spooky Halloween party. I tried to keep them a little more "grown up" than usual. I used a chocolate mold for the pile of bones, and molded my own chocolate tombstones. The tombstone cupcakes were topped with chocolate cookie crumb "dirt" and the other cupcakes were rolled in different sprinkles The skull faces were also white chocolate which I molded in a cute ice cube tray that I found. The white chocolate was all dusted with cocoa powder to make it a little more spooky and bring out the details of the molds. The cupcakes were chocolate chocolate chip ("devils' food - what else?) and pumpkin pecan. It was really fun to do some different spooky designs this year. Hope they were to "die" for!