semi-homeade sweets

book-club-sweets

I’ve belonged to a book club for the past six years {hey girls!}. Last week we had a potluck and I was to bring something sweet. My week was swamped and I never had a chance to bake so I ran to the grocery and picked up some chocolate covered graham crackers and strawberries.

I simply melted some pink chocolate in a resealable bag and piped our initials, BCB for Book Club Betties, and various shapes and designs {I liked the martini glass best} onto the cookies. (It could have been cleaner, but I was in a huge hurry!)

The cookies were a hit. But let’s face it, any type of chocolate goes well with wine. {wink}

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flower pot cupcakes

flower-pot-cupcakes

Tis the season for garden parties and I thought these two flower pot cupcake ideas were so super cute.

The first is from Georgia McDonald on flickr. I love the simplicity of them; simple, but very lovely. Just cupcakes with white icing, a fun sucker and gummy leaves with a little cookie or chocolate sprinkle.

The second set will take you a little more time. You’ll need to bake the sugar cookies (and make sure that the lollipop sticks hold in place well; make sure and chill your dough!). Plus, you’ll need to ice them, but I think well worth the effort for the outcome. Nice work Montreal Confections!

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campout cupcake

camping-out-cupcakes-with-smores-and-tent1

I designed these fun camp cupcakes a few weeks ago for my beautiful little boys and of course they go perfectly with our “campout” birthday party theme too!

My boys love tents, roasting marshmallows and fishing, so I needed to incorporate each element. If you’ve not noticed yet, there is also a little sleeping bag in the tent {giggle}. I couldn’t resist piping one since my boys love to use theirs on their beds sometimes! Oh, and by the way, these are the cupcakes I entered in the parenting.com cake and cupcake contest that I mentioned last week.

Here’s what you’ll need to decorate your white cupcakes (use egg whites only to preserve the color of your cupcake wrappers):

  • Hershey bars (2 3/4 pieces per tent)
  • Mini goldfish crackers
  • Fiber one cereal (campfire logs)
  • Cream cheese icing
  • Blue, green and red gel food coloring
  • Toothpicks
  • #46 tip (flat side for sleeping bag)
  • #107 tip (campfire flame)
  • #233 tip (grass)
  • white bakers wire (could use floral wire with non-edible items)

And here are the easy steps:

  1. Using the grass tip, ice your cupcakes. (TIP: You’ll want to add all of your decorations before the icing sets too much so that the grass will act as adhesive to keep the items in place.)
  2. Build your tents next. Take two full blocks of chocolate and trim the third, the base, to 2/3 its normal size. On the base pipe your sleeping bag, a short strip for the pillow and a long strip for the bag.
  3. Melt a block or two of chocolate in the microwave to use as adhesive for assembling your tent. Apply the chocolate with a toothpick and hold your tent in place for a few seconds to allow it to set. Place it on your cupcake.
  4. Using Fiber One cereal as your campfire logs {I know… but they look just like little sticks!}, set them up in a pyramid shape and then pipe a dollop of icing on top for the flame.
  5. Finally we create our fishing pole with a toothpick, I used colored ones, a mini goldfish and bakers wire. Simply wrap the wire around your fish and wind it around your toothpick pole. I placed it so that it is over the edge and then embellished the cupcake with a paper wave design as if they were on an island.

I hope you enjoy my little creation, my boys really did! As always, I hope you’re inspired to craft, bake, create and celebrate!

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beach party cupcakes

beach-and-octopus-cupcakes

It’s no secret that I love our new deep sea birthday party theme. While scouting for some fun cupcake and cake ideas for an upcoming family birthday party I came across these two. Not only are both of these ideas adorable, but both can be executed fairly easily {stop that… they really can be; trust me}.

The beach theme cake and cupcakes are from pink apron {super cute!}. I don’t know if these were, but if you were to take on this idea, the cake and cupcakes could be purchased from a bakery an then it’s all about icing the cookies. Read my post on flooding cookies for some easy tips.

This octopus cupcake from two part sugar’s is too fun; I will definatley be making a version of this. It is fondant and I know that scares some people but don’t let it. You can buy pre-made fondant at your local craft store or bakery supply store. Make sure you tint it with gel food coloring, the other stuff will make it watery. As for the mechanics of it, the head is just a rolled ball and the legs can easily be rolled in your hands. It might take a few trys, but I have confidence any of you can pull it off. {wink}

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polka dot cake inspiration

polka-dot-cake-inspiration

Polka dots are still all the rage and cakes and cupcakes are no exception; so I thought I would provide a little inspiration. Each of these cakes have one thing in common, besides the obvious polka dot {wink}, they are not covered in fondant. I myself love a beautiful fondant cake, but even as a baker fondant can be intimidating especially when you’re short on time. So here goes:

The first cake in the upper left corner was on the January cover of Gourmet magazine. I liked that they combined the cake with the cupcake. That said, I am curious about the stacking. I would suggest icing them and allowing them to set for several hours (3-5) before stacking them.

Remember how I said no fondant, okay, so maybe the dots are made of fondant on the cake in the upper right corner, but the cake and piping are just regular old icing. This cake and the cupcakes in the bottom left corner both come from cupcakesbyles.blogspot.com. Super cute stuff!

And finally, the cake in the bottom right corner is from Country Living Magazine. Not only is this a great picture of a beautifully decorated cake, but they walk you through this one and others with step-by-step pictures.

I know I’ll personally be making a version of these fun cakes for a new girlfriend gathering theme we’re working on. Happy baking!

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wild west inspired sweets

wild-west-cowboy-cakes

So I’m planning a wild west hoe down for a very excited little boy turning three in a few weeks {can’t believe my little one is almost three years old!} and I came across these while looking for cake inspiration.

The first is from Edibly Divine. I love the use of the handkerchief and denim. The second is from Sugar Diva Cakes and my favorite part is the cow hide {I won’t even attempt the cowboy hat}. And the third is from The Mixing Bowl. These are obviously the easiest to pull off since I have cookie cutters (available in our shoppe) for the longhorn cattle and the boot. I like the idea of a normal yummy frosting and then a fondant die cut that can easily be removed if the guest doesn’t care for it.

If you want to see the invite and table decor (complete with tin wares and denim placemats) we’ll be using, check out our wild west birthday theme.

UPDATE: The Sugar Diva shared more detail on how to make her beautiful cake. Here’s what she had to say:

“The hat cake is a 5″ round, 3″ high. I carved off the sides a little to make it look more oval, then I carved the middle top “V” and rounded the sides off a little too. The brim is a 9″ gumpaste/fondant mix circle that I had dry on top of a real hat brim (upside down). I covered the hat with plastic wrap so that the fondant wouldn’t fall through and let it dry there. I actually took the idea from here, but I made my own twist to it because I think that one is taller and flatter at the top than I wanted. I textured it before it dried with a new textured foam mat, like the one you’d use to put babies to play on, the ones with the letters. The other cakes are 8″ (Cow print) and 10″ (Corral).”

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DIY tissue paper pom poms

diy-pom-pom-how-to

How super fun and simply beautiful are these for a baby shower, bridal shower or just a girly birthday party. These images and how to pics are from Martha Stewart.com. {Oh, Martha!}

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Tissue paper in desired colors (8 sheets per pom-pom)
  • 24-gauge white cloth-covered floral wire
  • Scissors
  • Monofilament
  • And all the step-by-step how tos, if you can’t get it from the pics, are on Martha Stewart.com. Happy crafting!

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    divine preview

    divine-pink-and-black-table-decor21

    We’re working on a new invitation design, but I simply couldn’t wait to share the beautiful table decor now. I only hope you are excited as we are. This table would be perfect for almost any type of girlfriend gathering: bridal shower, baby shower, birthday or even bachelorette party!

    pink-and-black-chic-cupcake

    Oh, and yes; the cupcakes are mine {wink}. Look for this decor and a beautiful new invitation to complement in about a week. Can’t wait! {UPDATE: New collections are in the shoppe: Divine, Blossoms and Bubbly!}

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    lollipop & panda bear cookies

    lollipop-panda-bear-cookies

    My oldest son’s last day of preschool was this past Friday and I volunteered to provide the end of year treat. His class was loving called the Panda Bear class so I, naturally, wanted to make Panda Bear cookies. I had everything ready. I baked the lollipop cookies a day in advance and I had all my cookie decorations ready to go… or so I thought. Long story short, I fell asleep Thursday night while reading the boys a book and didn’t wake up until 12:30 a.m. {Oh yeah!}

    After a large cup of coffee I pulled out all of my decorating supplies to find that the black icing I needed for my panda bear was in fact gel… it came out slimy! So plan B was quickly devised. I had just enough black icing to make one panda bear and the rest became lollipops. {This is precisely the reason you don’t promise anything specific when baking for these types of things!}

    Okay, okay, so down to business. Both kinds of cookies started out the same way. I used the lollipop cookie pan from Wilton; just make sure your dough is only about half the size of the indention as the cookie will spread. And, make sure that your cookie is fairly thick so that your lollipop stick will hold the cookie up once it cools.

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • Can cream cheese or vanilla icing
    • Colorful sprinkles
    • Tube black writing icing (for the panda bear)
    • Mini Oreo cookies (for the panda bear ears)
    • Chocolate chips (one for each panda bear eye; use dairy free for kids with allergies)
    • Brown M&M (for the panda bear nose; use dollop of chocolate icing or leave off for kids with allergies)
    • Resealable (freezer weight) bag
    • #4 icing tip
    • Icing tip connectors (available in craft and baking stores)

    And here are the easy steps:

    1. Snip the corner of your resealable bag, insert your connector and add on your icing tip.
    2. Place about two large spoonfuls of icing into the resealable bag and pipe an edge around each cookie. (Tip: Go slowly so that your icing clings to the edge of your cookie. Sometimes when they cool they’ll become concave.)
    3. Place about four large spoonfuls of icing in a microwave bowl and heat for 15-17 seconds. The icing will be a little soupy, but will pour easily into your cookie and will dry flat.
    4. Once your icing has set completely, at least one hour (less if refrigerated), you can decorate.
    5. For the lollipop, simply take your icing bag with the #4 connector and pipe a spiral on the top of your cookie. Immediately apply your crystal sprinkles.
    6. For the panda bear, pipe two dots and apply the Oreos as the ears. Next, using the black writing icing, draw the black eye area and the nose/mouth area (using the picture as a guide). Quickly apply the chocolate chip eyes and M&M nose.

    As for packaging, make sure your cookies are allowed to dry for at least four to five hours before inserting them in clear cello bags and tying them with colorful ribbons.

    My son’s class seemed to enjoy them and I hope you will too. Happy baking!

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    creative pirate party ideas

    pirate-birthday-party-invitations 

    Aargh! If you’re looking for a modern twist on the ever so popular pirate party, you’ve come to the right place. Round up your crew and take a look at these:

    The pirate ship invitations and pirate skull invitations are both our exclusive designs. And not only do we offer vibrant colors and personalization, we designed the back of our invitations too… plus we offer color envelopes all for as low as $22!  

    The table décor is a blend of high quality paper product designers. We just loved the paper crepe placemats {I’ve used mine more than once!}, the red polka dot napkins, the red stripe plates and cups {running out of breath}… you get the picture! And of course we offer all of them in our shoppe.

    The ship is a real wooden toy from Step 2, complete with five pirate figurines. {My sons love it and it’s quite sturdy.} And the pirate flag in the background can be created without sewing a stitch. Read our step-by-step instructions and watch a how to video!

    And the pirate pop, well… that is my creation {blush}. Those who read me often know that my youngest son has severe food allergies. So when my oldest wanted a pirate party, I had to create something fun that didn’t have milk or egg in the recipe. The rice crispy treat is of course the perfect answer and then I just embellished it with my favorite cream cheese icing. Read all the details on how to pull this fabulous treat off for your little pirate.

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