August 31, 2010

A piece of heART


My very youngest is in the process of phase-in to all day kindergarten. Over these first two weeks, she’s slowly working her way up to being at school for an entire 8:00am to 3:00pm day. I’m working up to that too. It’s strangely quiet here. She knew I’d miss her, so she made me this Perler bead heart.  She gave specific instructions to “kiss it when you miss me.”  sigh. She is so much older and wiser than her five years.

Speaking of which, we are huge fans of perler bead crafting around here.  All three of my kids (and many of their friends) enjoy it, with the added bonus that it’s a pretty fabulous hand-eye coordinating activity too. If you’re not familiar, Perler beading is where you design a pattern on pegboards (like you see above) placing…

..plastic Perler beads on the pegs. Then, a responsible adult covers with ironing paper, irons  and the beads magically melt together. Finally you take the creation off the mold, iron the other side and there you have it…a piece of art. Kisses optional.

Filed Under: crafts, kids
August 26, 2010

Six Sneakers and one sweet notebook.

All three at the same school. It seems surreal. My youngest in kindergarten?! When did that happen? Back when they were babies,  I remember staring blankly through a fog of total exhaustion hearing people say, ‘Enjoy it…they grow up so fast.’  At the time, all I wanted to know was how many more pounds/how many more weeks before this child sleeps six hours in a row?! Now look. I need a bullhorn to wake them up some most mornings. I blinked and here they are. So the start of every school year marks a bittersweet celebration. Of course you need cake and ice cream for that.

A back-to-school cake has become our tradition. This year, I decided to create a notebook cake. In the past, I’ve done a pencil, a chalkboard, a minivan carpool (super ambitious year) and an apple.  There is no better way in our opinion than to rehash first days over cake and ice cream.

This notebook is spiral bound. Quickly I might add. This is one very busy notebook factory. Speaking of which, I need to get back to my homework that includes filling out a couple hundred forms that I’m pretty sure multiplied last night while we were sleeping. Here’s to another school year.

Filed Under: baking, kids
April 18, 2010

How to get unstuck

Five-year-old Nora is definitely on a roll. She’s learning how to communicate with words and pictures and can’t get enough of documenting everything. Nora spent the better part of yesterday preparing for family movie night. She made tickets, money and the sign above. (That’s MOVIE with the extra “V” corrected, 8:00pm with drinks and popcorn and a cost of $5…play money accepted.) When she asked me if she could tape the sign to the door of the movie theater/aka Mom and Dad’s bedroom I said something like…”No tape on the doors. It takes off the paint and makes Daddy nuts.” Admittedly, I was working at my computer and only paying half attention. I felt her disappointment about the no tape, but I repeated that she would have to find a different way to hang her sign. She thought for a moment and then skipped off as I continued to work.

I did a double take when I went upstairs and saw Nora’s creative solution to sign-hanging without tape. A great reminder from a preschooler that with a little creativity and drive there’s always a way around potential roadblocks life throws our way.
Filed Under: inspiration, kids
April 16, 2010

A Friday-To-Do List

Nora seen composing our Friday-To-Do List using preschool shorthand.

1) NORA = Clean Nora’s Room (check)
2) M = Pick up disc at client’s office for Mommy’s design work (check)
3) L = Library (check)
4) BB= Clean both bathrooms
5) L = Lunch (check)
6) N = Nap

Somehow we spent too much time at the “L” and got behind with things. Friday priorities. I’m sure going to miss my little helper when she checks into kindergarten next year.

Now back to our last to-do’s…


Filed Under: family, kids
March 15, 2010

Five already.

Today’s the day. Nora officially turns five. The quickest five years ever I might add. Nora didn’t manage to nail down exactly what type of cake she wanted before the cake order deadline. However, Nora’s clever mom decided to attempt a Barbie Merliah mermaid cake timed to the release of the new movie. Not that I didn’t get helpful hints in the last few days…

Nora: “Hey Mom, did you now that Barbie in a Mermaid Tale is being released on DVD this week?”

Mom: “Really. Isn’t that interesting.”

Nora: “Yeah. It’s in stores now. I sure hope someone gets that movie for me for my birthday.”

Mom: “Nora. Nora. Nora.”

Nora (shrugging shoulders): “Well, I’m just saying.”

When Nora saw her cake for the first time she called it, “AMAZING” and “the BEST birthday cake ever.” Pretty high praise. Although catching her staring in awe at the cake was even better. I knew she meant every word. Nora didn’t see the imperfections that I did. She thought the cake was perfect and so it was.

In the end, lucky Nora did get her movie (after all those not-so-subtle-hints) and she got to eat her favorite cake too. Another perfectly happy birthday.

Filed Under: kids
March 14, 2010

the Crocorator

From the very depths of our studio swamp, the Crocorator was born. And this weekend, he was finally put to the ultimate test.

We’re talking the annual Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. This is where the cub scout fashions a racing car of his choosing from a kit containing a block of wood, wheels and axles. (In some cases the scout is given two kits when Dad cuts crocodile teeth too deep into the axle joints, but I digress…)

Brendan’s crocodile car design was once again inspired from the pages of Ed Emberley (an all time favorite around here.) After Dad cut the wood to match our scout’s rough sketch, Brendan and I held a creative meeting. My cub scout wanted the eyes to stick up like headlights so we used clay to fashion the eyes and nostrils. After the clay pieces were baked, Brendan attached them with adhesive. Then, I showed him how to use a few different colors of paint to create a leathery gator skin. I loved seeing that spark when Brendan noticed how the layers and different colors of paint added an interesting dimension. He was sooooo proud of the final piece. And while this reptile didn’t end up being the fastest croc in the swamp…

…he did win a trophy for design which was carried around the rest of the day. There’s absolutely nothing like a trophy smile : )
Filed Under: kids, projects
March 10, 2010

Eye-catching Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

We have another big birthday coming up around here. Miss Nora will be turning five in a couple of days. We’ve already sat down together for the official birthday cake consultation. Along with that important decision (that changes daily), we sorted out exactly what kind of treat she will bring to celebrate at preschool. Cupcakes were a nobrainer, but the type of cupcake was another story. It had to be different and in Nora’s wiser-than-age-four voice, “It had to catch the eye” (yeah, she really said that.) This ice cream cone cupcake won in a close battle with caterpillar cupcakes. I found the basic idea for these in a Good Housekeeping article saved from several years back.

After baking up 24 or so vanilla cupcakes, I gathered two types of frosting, Redhots, non-pareils and vanilla wafer cookies. I cut the vanilla wafers in half and then trimmed each half into a triangle shape.

Next, I frosted each cupcake with chocolate icing and added a triangular vanilla wafer for the cone.

Then using a large star decorating tip, I generously piped on the lavender icing for the ice cream.

I finished each cupcake with a Redhot for the cherry and non-pareils for the sprinkles. They turned out so cute and came together way faster than those reindeer. I made a few extra to taste-test after which my client gave her final seal of approval. Nora is *very* excited to come to school tomorrow with her special birthday treats. Now to narrow down that cake.

*find more recipe ideas over
here (one of my favorite blogs.)
Filed Under: baking, kids
January 24, 2010

How to score points with an 8-year-old

If you asked me to explain Pokemon in 100 words or less it would go something like this: errrr…little alien-like creatures with different powers…ahhhh…expensive trading cards that 7-8 year old boys can’t get enough of…some cards having lots of power while others not so much…errrr…battling?…hmmmm. How’s that? Yes, my understanding of the world of Pokemon is rather deficient. I did learn just a tiny bit more when I went to research this popular yellow guy for my son’s birthday cake. For example, did you know that Pikachus’ can shoot electric from their cheeks? me neither.

Here’s the plan I came up with to use the majority of two round cakes to build Pikachu. The small striped triangle on cake number two is the only piece not used. It can be thrown to any kitchen intruders to keep them at bay while you’re decorating the cake.

I decorate our cakes with butter cream icing mainly for the taste even though fondant would probably be easier. This guy is all icing except for the red cheeks and mouth which happen to be strawberry fruit rollups.

The cake ended up being a huge hit with this 7-year-old turned 8. Besides my getting to know that happy little yellow Pikachu better, I even earned a few cool points upping my evolutionary Mom status. Yeah…I’m trying to sound all pokemonish. My apologies to the diehards…I did say “a few” cool points.
Filed Under: baking, kids
December 30, 2009

One sweet iPod

I’m finally back. I see that Penny did a nice job of filling you in while I was baking, wrapping, entertaining, cooking, laughing, enjoying and eating…way too much eating. And like she said, two days after we’re Merry Christmasing, it’s time for Happy Birthday. ahhhhh yes…the Christmastime Birthday syndrome…Ours is a cute 11 year old girl who happens to now own a green iPod.

So here’s a peek at the cake I came up with to kick off her year. Simple…really. Just a cake baked in a rectangular 9″ x 13″ pan and frosted in iPod green with white and black for the details. The little wires are red licorice left over from the Rudolphs and the ear buds are mounds of white icing with a few details piped in black. Granted everything would look sleeker in fondant, but for taste we all prefer plain old buttercream icing.

Off the subject of cake, are iPods A*M*A*Z*I*N*G or what??! I remember my black/no color Walkman…kindoflike having a stereo attached to your waist. And those
headphones?!? (I’m betting very few birthday cakes were modeled on that technology.) More confirmation that Mom and Dad truly lived with the dinosaurs.
Filed Under: baking, kids
December 16, 2009

Your vision is fine: That IS a lot of Rudolphs

Have you had too much sugar yet? These guys went to preschool today along with me and the preschooler herself. The first time I made Rudolph cupcakes was about 6 years ago for my oldest after I spied them in Family Fun magazine (check out the link if you need a festive snack idea in the next week.) With this latest batch, all that’s left is a crumb or two and me vowing to lay off the high calorie posts for at least a week. Yes, I will paint again…
Filed Under: baking, kids

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