Cara’s DIY Wedding

I was looking through my pictures and realized that I totally forgot to post about my sister Cara’s outdoor/ indoor wedding that happened in October.  Which is sad, because it was a completely beautiful, totally DIY wedding.  So I’m going to remedy the situation, and post some of the awesomeness now.

First, my husband BJ and I took engagement photos:

My sisters Marissa and Anna and I threw Cara’s bridal shower, and a friend was kind enough to host it for us.

Here’s the shower invite that I designed using Inkscape (a free Illustrator-like program).

Here’s a somewhat better view of the refreshment table.  We had a tea and hot chocolate bar as well.

Here are the favors for the guests- a packet with an herbal tea bag and a honey stick.  The tags were designed by me- again in Inkscape.

Cara and I spent hours making bridesmaid jewelry using beads and findings she bought online and at Hobby Lobby. Each piece was totally unique, but had a unifying theme. There was a necklace, bracelet, and earring set for each of the 11 bridesmaids.

The house and yard was transformed for the wedding and reception by the tireless help of many friends and family members.  Tables and chairs were covered with fabric from the stashes of my mom’s friends and sisters.

My cute and talented mother did all of the flowers- bouquets, boutonnieres, table arrangements, indoor/ outdoor, etc.

This photo doesn’t do them justice, these are just the only flower photos I could find.

Here’s one of the bridal bouquet.

Photo credit to Giffy Pix.

My mom also made the cake pedestals by gluing together glass plates and vases, filling the vases with dried flowers, and tying ribbon around them.

My aunt, sister Marissa and I did Cara’s makeup, hair, and nails respectively.

My mom made this lovely wedding gift with words of advice, featuring a hand- crocheted doily (My grandmother made one for each grandchild before she passed away, and my mom saved them to give at each wedding).

My mom and my aunts took a basically strapless wedding gown bought for under $200 and using their brilliant sewing wizardry, transformed it into Cara’s dream wedding dress- a much more modest, and classy looking frock.  I wish I had a more close-up detailed photo of the dress, but you can get an idea by the picture below.

My dad is a bishop- a lay clergyman in our church, so he was able to be the one to marry Cara and Jeff.  My sons were ring bearers.

These 2 photos courtesy of Giffy Pix

I made the ring pillows my sons are holding in the above pictures (tutorial to come).

Marissa was the fantastic artist behind this lovely cake and multitude of cupcakes. (Check out her baking accessories shop on Etsy!)

I also made marriage advice cards for guests at the reception to fill out and compiled them into a book for the newlyweds to enjoy down the road.

It was a bit crazy to arrive just a day or two before the wedding and everybody work like mad to throw it together (after a several months of distance planning), but I think it turned out fabulously!  And the newlyweds are still doing great!

Let Them Eat Cake

Cake is kind of a big deal in our family… birthday cakes are a labor of love, and while not every year has its masterpiece (we have to be realistic here, some years it is all I can do to present the birthday boy with a full belly and a clean face; forget about beautifully wrapped presents and gorgeous cakes) we do like to have fun with our cakes.

I thought it would be fun to share a few of our birthday cakes from the last year or two!

Front Loader Cake (as per the then-2 year old’s request)

Noah’s Ark Cake

The Noah’s Ark cake was made with Marissa’s help; it is covered in delicious chocolate marshmallow fondant that we made (painful, I don’t particularly recommend it).  The animals are made of fondant as well.  We were going to make tons of animals in various colors, but it took so long that we called it good here.  Marissa used dye and a paintbrush and painted lines to look like boards on the ark.

Barbie cake made by Marissa for our sister Cara’s 20th birthday- to commemorate the barbie cake Marissa made when Cara was… 7 or so.

Simple layer cake with paper bunting sewed together and glued on bamboo skewers.

My 4 year old’s Airplane Cake.

I was so glad that a) Marissa helped me with this cake, and b) that we started it the night before.  Marissa frosted the cake with 3 different colors to give the fluffy sky/cloud look, and I made the wings, windows, and banner out of gum paste, and let those dry overnight.  We formed the body of the plane (also the night before) out of rice krispy treats.  We used store bought fondant to cover the body of the plane and the wings (as well as add all the decoration) the following day.  The wings were all attached with toothpicks.

Pretty pleased with his airplane cake!

My birthday cake!

I take no credit for this cake whatsoever; except that it was made (by Marissa) for my birthday!  It’s been 8 years since Marissa and I have been together on my birthday, so it was an extra special treat!  The flowers were made of fondant.  Also, this cake turned out to be one of my favorite cake flavors so far- pink lemonade cake with lemon-almond buttercream frosting.  Whoa!  So good.

For those of you who don’t know, my sister Marissa is one of the “Homebodies” but has been on hiatus from blogging to do important things like finishing school and internships, traveling the world, working full time, and now growing a tiny human being!  >excited squeal!<  So perhaps we’ll see her back here in the future (maybe I can prevail upon her to share more of her own cake masterpieces she is so talented at- who knows!) if we’re lucky.

So- back to cake… what traditions do you have for birthday cakes?  Birthday child gets to pick?  Costco cake?  Ice cream cake?  Brownies and ice cream? Themed cakes?  Let me know in the comments!

A Wedding in the Family!

I just got back in town late last night after spending the week in Eastern Washington with my family and all our wedding preparations and festivities.  It was a crazy trip (but well worth it of course) but I will have to tell that story later.  My little brother Tayler got married on Friday morning to the lovely Heather!  The wedding was lovely, both the ceremony and the decor.  Man, we have got a talented family!  Heather’s family put together a beautiful reception in the church.

Check out what Heather and her mom (and other family members) came up with:

Lovely draped sheers in front of hanging lights; pillars and greenery.

Hanging paper lanterns.

Coordinating chair covers and linens.
Photobook as guestbook.

Lovely refreshment table.
One of the entryways.

Gift area.

I was really impressed with the decorating!  Not to mention that the take down afterward was the fastest and most efficient I have ever seen.  Note to self- having a clean up crew with specific assignments (not just the exhausted family cleaning up) is a great idea!

My littlest munchkin and me.

For the wedding luncheon earlier in the day, my mom covered tables with tablecloths and then butcher paper.  She put out black tiles with flowers, candles, and bags of crayons for people to write messages to Tayler and Heather on the paper.  I was asked to make the word cutouts for each table with their wedding date, their names, and other lovey- dovey phrases. :)

My mom and sisters pulled off some pretty amazing creations as well.  For example, the cake

Would you like to see that a little closer?  I thought so!

Live flowers for the cake topper.

Marissa was the mastermind behind the cake (of course).  She spent hours pre- making the roses out of gum paste and royal icing.  I helped with that too, but really I was just following orders- aren’t they all lovely?!

Strawberry frosting- flavored with real, chopped and strained strawberries.

Double chocolate cupcakes in doily wrappers.

Delicious cream cheese frosting.

The cupcakes, their creator, and the “helpers”.

If you know my mom, you know she is a seriously talented lady in so many areas, and one of her many talents is flower arranging.  She did all the flowers for this wedding, and they all turned out beautifully!

The Bride’s bouquet.

As you can tell from earlier pictures, the bride’s colors were vibrant pink and blue.  I love how the flowers incorporate those colors and round it out with a variety of shades.

The mothers’ wrist corsages.

Boutonnieres for the men.
Bouquets for the bridesmaids.

The last “craft” of the night was decorating the happy couple’s car.  They did a pretty thorough job with window paint, cans tied to the back, balloons, a bag of Hershey’s Kisses, and various other junk tied on the car.

The sendoff.

Everyone had bubble wands (or in my husband’s case, a bubble gun) to send them off, and the kids were in heaven.

I just love weddings!

I have a problem….

Yes, I have a problem.  It is called “I-start-too-many-projects-and-get-overwhelmed-and-don’t-finish-them-until-many-months-later-if-ever.”  We can just call it procrastination for short.  I have so many ideas, and some of them I just don’t realize how big they are until I am in the middle, and then you know the rest.  It’s a very sad story.  I have an adorable apron pattern and project which I mostly finished- in March, like maybe 75% of the way, and then stopped.  I have been working on sewing and making a pattern for toddler training pants (for potty training) but temporarily lost steam on that too.  I have some yummy summer recipes I would love to share, I just need to write them down.  I intend on finishing all these projects, but when?  Who knows, right?  So I am telling all of you so I have some accountability.  Hopefully by stating my intentions here, I will be motivated to finish projects I have already started!  Ok, but now I feel a little insecure (haha) because it sounds like I haven’t finished any projects at all (besides what I have already blogged about).  Well, I have, but they are kind of little things, and don’t necessarily deserve a blog post all of their own.  But here are a few things I have worked on and actually finished over the past couple months:

Noah’s Ark cake for my baby!  Marissa and I did this together before she left.  We used marshmallow fondant to make the animals and cover the cake.

First pair of potty training pants- adorable, but a bit too small.  Still working on it!  I also made a car seat protector pad, but no picture.  Look for more on this!

I got to help prepare a gorgeous tea party as per tradition for my mom, aunt, sisters, and some of my cousins.

Just to prove I was there this time… (I am on the left)

I helped my mom re-cover the window seat cushions.  This was NOT a small job!  We worked on it in March when I was visiting, and finished it the last time I was there. 

The other cushion.  Yeah, I know it is pretty much the same, but you know, it has to be representative of the amount of time spent on it and all.

I bought this girly chair at a garage sale last summer for $2 and finally got around to re-covering it this year for my son’s Thomas the Tank Engine- themed 3rd birthday.

Ok, I am getting to work!

PS- If you are new to our blog, and would like to be among the first to be able to get new patterns and tutorials (once I actually finish them!) please follow or subscribe to our blog! 😀

(Almost) Sinless No-bake Cheesecake




Last night, we had a dinner party – everyone brought part of the meal, and I got to do dessert! I always jump at the chance to make dessert for any occasion… it is my FAAAVORITE part of meal preparation – maybe because I know it is what everyone will remember after the meal, and if it turns out well, people make a big deal about it. Ok, so I just really like receiving praise and recognition…I can’t help it!
Last night was one of those nights where I got to bask in the glory of everyone else’s praise and recognition for my dessert. I was just so proud and so flattered that everyone liked it! I thought maybe you guys would like to try making it too, and have a little taste of the glory! I got the recipe from a mini cooking class I took a few years ago, and this time, I put my own twist on it to make it lighter and a little more guilt-free. Here is the recipe, enjoy!

No-Bake Cheesecake

Crust:
3/4 c. Graham Cracker Crumbs (about 4 1/2 – 5 full graham crackers)
3 TB packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 TB butter, melted

Cheesecake:
4 oz. neufchatel cheese
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. plain lowfat yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 oz. lite frozen whipped topping, thawed

Strawberry topping:
1 1/2 c. strawberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c water
2 TB frozen juice concentrate

Directions:
Combine graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. Divide into 4 individual custard cups (I divided it into 8 cupcake liners in a muffin pan) and press to form a crust. Set in fridge to chill.

In a large bowl, beat the neufchatel cheese until smooth, gradually beat in the sugar. Blend in the plain yogurt and vanilla extract. Fold in the whipped topping until well mixed. Spoon the mixture into the crust. Chill to set until served. I put mine in the freezer for about a half hour before we ate it, and it was perfect.

For the topping, mix sugar, water and juice together, then add sliced strawberries to the mixture.

To serve, unwrap cheesecakes and put on a plate, then top with the strawberry topping.
Makes 8 mini cheesecakes (but probably serves about 4 people…its that good, you’ll want more!)

Oh, and if you need a meal idea, here is what our meal was composed of

Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
Whole wheat bread sticks
Steamed veggies – broccoli, cauliflower, carrots
No-Bake Cheesecake

DE-Licious!

Artistic Cake – Starry Night (and Cupcakes! )

Hello friends! It has been a looooong time since I’ve been able to post, I’m sorry! School has been more demanding than ever, but now that spring and summer are around the corner, I’ll hopefully have a LOT more free time to post regularly! I would like to thank Rochelle for being so diligent in her posting though over the past couple months, she’s somethin’ else!

Some have you may have seen the Taj Mahal cake I made a few months ago for a class I was taking – History of Creativity. Well, I just finished taking the second half of the class this semester, and had to do another creative project for it. Well, due to the positive results from last time, I decided to go with the cake theme again.

I thought it would be cool and fun to try to recreate a famous painting this time, in the form of cake and frosting. After looking through my textbook’s pictures, I decided that Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” would be my model. How fun is that?! One of my friends happened to have the book “Hello Cupcake,” and in it there are some really helpful instructions in getting the right colors, and there are also some helpful tips on blending techniques.

Take a look at my creation!


And a closer-up view…


I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty proud of it. Even though it has been a week and a half since I turned it in, I still have it…and we haven’t eaten it yet…
Anyone want a stale (but totally awesome) cake?

Also, I recently had a couple friends over to decorate cupcakes – we had a blast! We used colored frosting and some of my cake decorating tips to make fun designs. Here are some pictures of our little party!:

The lovely ladies
and…

Our lovely creations:

Linking up:

Frugalicious Friday
Somewhat Simple: Strut your Stuff

Show and Tell Green

Cake Decorating Tips and Ideas


I picked up the hobby of cake decorating a few years ago, when my mom gave me a wilton cake decorating kit for Christmas – complete with some icing tips and a “how to” book. I was automatically hooked. I have always loved making artsy things, and combining that with making my artwork edible? Genius. In this post you will see some of the cakes I have made with techniques and ideas I learned from the Wilton Decorating Cakes book.


The beauty with cake decor is that if you can dream it you can do it. You can make it as crazy or as beautiful as you want. I think what it all comes down to is having the right tools, the right attitude, and the right cake and frosting to work with. On that same note, it can be frustrating at times, so I thought I’d share some helpful hints I have learned.

Some tips:

Baking your cake:
You want your cake top to be as flat as possible after it’s cooked, so you don’t have to trim off the bump that always forms on top. Here are some ideas that work:
1. Bake your cake at a lower temperature – if it says to bake it at 350*, then bake it at 325* or even 300* for a little longer – this allows it to cook more evenly.
2. Invest in “bake even strips” – these things are amazing! They are made of fabric but one side is reflective. You soak it it water, and then pin it around the outside of the cake pan, and it helps to avoid cracking and lessens the dome on top. I don’t know how it works, but it does! I have also heard that you can cut an old towel into strips, and use those the same way.

Texture:
You want your cake to have as little crumbs as possible, so that frosting it is easier. It is so annoying when the crumbs get mixed in with the frosting! Some ideas to make it a more pleasant experience:
1. Use milk instead of using water
2. Use one more egg than it calls for
3. After your cake is baked and cooled, apply a thin layer of frosting (called the crumb layer), and let it dry. This seals in the cake and the crumbs, and makes frosting it a piece of cake! (har har)

**A word to the wise: baking your cake the day before you need it will save you a LOT of stress. So, if you can, bake it ahead of time, and you can even frost it up to a day before it needs to be done.


Frosting:
1. The creamier your frosting is, the easier it is to apply, for the base layer (after the crumb layer). I usually use the Wilton’s Buttercream recipe, and have found that adding 2-3 TB of milk works best for the base.
2. Store-bought frosting from a tub is extremely convenient, and goes on the smoothest I’ve ever seen! (although it is more expensive)
3. Frosting that is more stiff in consistency holds its shape better- you want to have stiffer frosting (depending on what your are making) when you are using a bag and a tip to decorate. The way to make your frosting more stiff is by adding powdered sugar.
4. For a smooth, even texture on the base, dip your knife/spatula into boiling hot water, dry it off, and then smooth over your frosting. This technique melts the frosting, and gives it a perfectly smooth texture.

Here are some of my latest cakes!


I hope this was helpful! Happy decorating!!!

Linking up!

The Girl Creative

Keeping It Simple

Sumo Sweet Stuff

I built the Taj Mahal…


Ever wanted to make a Taj Mahal cake? Well, me neither, until I realized how cool it would be! I’ll tell you the real reason I decided to make it: for my History of Creativity class, we had to come up with a creative project and I decided to make the Taj Mahal out of a cake. Little did I know that it would be an all day affair! I took lots of pictures, and I’ll present this tutorial style – just in case you have an occasion to make this cake. Hopefully it will be a lot easier and go a lot faster for you, with help from this tutorial.

I looked at tons of pictures for my inspiration and help for this cake. These were some that I found helpful for the designs on the cake:

STEP 1: BAKE CAKES
I used two cake mixes: Yellow and Chocolate, because that’s all I had, but I would recommend making a white cake (so the crumbs won’t be as noticeable in the white frosting).
I filled 2 – 11″x17″ cake pans, 2/3 of the way full. I also filled a small “dress” pan (the kind you use for the barbie bell dresses) and 4 cupcake cups. Bake them at 325*, or a lower temperature, so they cook more evenly – they won’t make as big of a dome on top. (You will have to cut the dome off anyway, to get them flat enough to stack).
I would recommend making the cakes the day before, to spread out the workload. It is a lot of work to bake and decorate in one day.
2. MAKE FROSTING – I used Wilton’s Buttercream Frosting recipe.
3. CRUMB LAYER – this is a thin layer of frosting over the cake, to hopefully keep in all the crumbs. Let it dry for 10-15 minutes, so you can easily frost over the top of it, without mixing the crumbs with the new layer of frosting. Do this after you have stacked the 11″x17″ layers.
4.CUT OFF CORNERS – this makes it look much better. Your finished product will look kind of like an elongated octagon.
5. PUT THE DOME ON – do the crumb layer first, and then apply some frosting “glue” where you are going to put the dome.
6. FROST – now that all your crumb layer is dry, it is time to put the second layer and make it look good.
7.MAKE SMALL DOMES – I tried to use cupcakes at first, but I found that they were too big and too square on top, compared to the large dome. So instead, I used big dollops of frosting, and they turned out much better.
8. PIPING – I used a #3 tip to do all the white piping around the edges, and also for the white flower designs. For the green designs, I used a #2 tip, and tried to replicate the designs seen in the first pictures. For the red flowers, I used a star tip.
9. ENJOY! you have now completed your Taj Mahal cake. Go and brag to all your friends, I definitely have! Wish me luck getting an “A” on my project!