April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding Cupcakes

I'm chuffed to bits about the Royal Wedding tomorrow.  Tonight, however, I'm stuck baking cupcakes for the school bake sale... so why not have a little fun with it?  So, if Prince William and Kate Middleton have a baking disaster they can call moi.  I can pretend, can't I?

Cream cheese frosting tinted slightly with neon blue food coloring... and blue cake for the blue bloods.  And we used Disney Princess sprinkles which come in adorable little pearls, cinderella shoes, and gold crowns.  We also used some little snowflakes which I think are ever so pretty on the Tiffany blue frosting.
For the union jacks, we used red glitter gel for the stripes and tried to draw straight lines... not so easy!
The royal me is not getting up at 1 o'clock to watch the coverage, but I'm recording it and will be tucking in to a lovely cake with a cuppa later on in the day.   Ah, love...  
and here are the sweeties packed up for the bake sale... 
better put a lid on this quick before the kids get their fingers in the frosting!  Cheerio!

April 24, 2011

Happy Easter - Make Cascarones! Confetti Eggs

This year I decided to make cascarones with the kids for Easter.  We usually have them for the Day of the Dead, but they ARE eggs... so I think they really should be for Easter, too!  Traditionally, they are filled with tissue paper confetti, but I filled mine with large sequins because they are just more fun.  

First step is to blow out your eggs.  Gently make a small hole in one end of a raw egg.  We used a corn cob holder, but you can use a nail or a thumbtack.  Anything with a small sharp point.
 Insert a bamboo skewer in the hole and push it out the other side...
 Now onto the fun part!  Blow out your egg.  First the white...
 Then the yellow will break and come out!
When you think you have blown out all the insides, you can carefully enlarge the hole at one end.  
It's better if you help the kids do this part.
 At this stage, rinse out your eggs with hot water.
Next, you can color the eggs or leave them plain and paint them later.  
We dipped ours in the dye bath for our Easter eggs.
Set them aside somewhere safe to dry out.
When the eggs have dried completely, it's time to fill them.  
Use sequins or confetti, NOT GLITTER unless you hate the person you are going to crack the egg on!  Put about two big pinches inside the egg.  You don't have to seal the small hole on the top.
 Take some Mod Podge and paint around the opening of the egg.  Lay a small piece of tissue paper over the opening and press the edges down.
Use the paint brush to press down the tissue paper over the egg shell.  Avoid the opening so the tissue paper does not tear.  And don't use too much.  
I used the Shimmer Mod Podge because it has a pretty gold sheen to it.
 Set aside to dry or paint with a thin layer of acrylic paint if your eggs are not already colored.
Resist the urge to decoupage more tissue or paint heavily on your eggs.  You will be cracking them on someone's head and layers of Mod Podge or paint will make the egg harder to crack. 
Remember when you crack it on someone's head, give it a little squeeze with your hand so it cracks more easily.  Having one cracked on your head is supposed to bring good luck, not a headache!
Happy Easter!

April 21, 2011

Graffiti Jeans

As the fourth grandchild, my daughter often ends up with jeans that are... very well loved.  Recently she got a pair that I remember her brother wearing about six years ago.  Since then, they've been through two cousins and after making their way back to us they are faded to nearly white and the knees have been patched... but they are sooooo soft and comfy that I didn't want to get rid of them even with some random stains here and there.

So, what to do?  I decided to grab the Sharpie markers and personalize them with her help.  We drew flowers, birds, stars, and other shapes all over them.  I wrote her name huge down one leg... and we basically just went crazy with a colorful graffiti look.  I think the result is really fun and since we used permanent markers the designs should stay when washed.  Even if they do fade a bit, that's okay.  It's her turn to love these cool "new" jeans!

April 14, 2011

Tissue Paper Flowers

I have always loved the way that sunlight shines through tissue paper flowers.  There's just something magical about them.  So, this year for my daughter's birthday (which falls near Cinco de Mayo) I decided to make some party decorations...

I had not made them since I was a little girl, but after experimenting a little bit I found that it's extremely easy to make gorgeous flowers... so easy that I kind of went into OCD mode and filled up the living room with them... but that's for another post!

You'll need:  tissue paper (six to eight layers), scissors, and wire or ribbon.  That's it!

First, start with six to eight layers of tissue paper in roughly a square shape.  My tissue paper happens to be nearly square, but if yours is more rectangular, you'll want to trim it a bit.  Don't worry about precision.  Play with it and see what results you get.

I like six layers of tissue paper the best.  So, for this flower I started with two layers of goldenrod, two layers of lemon yellow, and two layers of white.  The color on the top of your pile will be the center of the flower.

I found that for the prettiest blending of colors it works best to go either light to dark or vice versa and to stay in the order of the colors in the rainbow.  This makes the tissue paper colors blend really well as the light shines through them.  So, you could have a dark blue blending to purple.  Or a pale green blending through yellow to orange.  But, if you stick with those basics the colors all really work well together.
Next I accordion or fan fold the stack of tissue paper back and forth.  First fold up and then keep going at about 1 inch increments.
Again, this does NOT have to be perfectly measured, but if done correctly, you should have the same color on the top and bottom of your finished fan folded stack of tissues.  My stack has goldenrod (the bottom color) showing.  If yours has one color on top and the other on the bottom, don't worry... just adjust the folds slightly next time.
Next, fold your fan in half.  As you can see the edges of my tissue paper sheets do not line up perfectly.

 Hold your fan so that the bottom fold is facing you and trim off the corners at an angle.  Make sure you leave about 1/3 of the tissue intact in the center.
 It should look like this...
Now it's time to make the petals!  To make a basic flower with rounded petals, just start about an inch or two down from on one of the folded edges and cut a rounded curve, this cuts off all of your uneven bits of tissue paper.
 Start at the edges and cut towards the center.
Next, open up your fan and it should look like this.  Rounded at each end with the notches cut out of the center and 1/3 tissue left in the middle.  This part is the center of your flower.  
Take a piece of ribbon or wire and secure this center.  I used curling ribbon, but you can use fabric ribbon or a pipe cleaner or piece of wire.  Anything to hold it tight!
Open up the ends of your fan with your center color (in this case white) on top.  Begin with your center layer and carefully separate the tissue layers and fluff towards the center.

 Don't worry too much if you rip a layer.  Just get the scissors out and round out the torn edges.
 When you have finished separating all the layers your flower should look like this... que bonita!
Next up... variations with spiky petals and a pom-pom center!

Tissue Paper Flowers (part two)

As I mentioned before, using the colors of the rainbow in order makes for really pretty color blending.  For these, I used one layer of each rainbow color and used different edge cutting techniques.

Once you've mastered the rounded petals you can start to experiment with the edges to create more variations.  One of my favorites has spiky edges and looks a lot like a sea anemone.  It would be great for decorations if you were having an "under the sea" or "little mermaid" party!

Start as you would for any other tissue flower.  Fan fold, cut corners off of center fold, secure with ribbon.  Then, to make the spiky petals cut about two inches off the edges towards the center of the fan on both sides leaving a flat top edge.
 Then starting at one of the top points cut a V shape down into the center.
 Cut down until you are even with the edge cuts, about 2 or 3 inches deep.
Cutting down towards the center from each side is the best way to make sure the points are sharp.
 Fan out and separate the edges scrunching it slightly at the middle.
 To make this one I used two layers of aqua, one layer of lavender, one layer pale lilac, and the center is two layers of sky blue.  The perfect spiky anemone!
For the next variation, I wanted to have a yellow pom-pom center.  To make the center pompom your top center layers should be half the width of the other layers.  Just take one layer of yellow (or whatever color you are using for the center, fold it in half lengthwise and cut in two.
 Then, take just the yellow center layers and fan fold.  Then fold in half lengthwise and snip the end edges (not the folded edges).
 Unfold it and place it in the center of your other layers of paper (the layers that will form the petals).
 Fan fold the whole thing.
 Fold in half and try to make sure the yellow center part lines up evenly.
 For extra large rounded petals, start at the raw edge and cut one curve in towards the fold.
 Cut the notches from the center fold (as in the first tutorial).  Open up and secure with ribbon or wire.
 Lay flat and starting at the center fluff and separate each layer.  Taking special care with the pom center!
Carefully scrunch the paper near the center notch, and ruffle the edges to make the pom center.
 For this flower I used two layers of dark blue, one layer sky blue, one layer pale green and two layers of lemon yellow for the pom center.  Isn't it cute!
Be creative, try different edges and center cuts and you'll end up with a bouquet of beautiful blooms!