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?