Princess Cake for Mia’s 5th!

29 Dec

For Mia’s 5th Birthday, I made a princess cake!

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1. Bake!  I always use the Wilton’s butter cake recipe (I cut the sugar down a cup and added a tad more vanilla extract and deleted the almond extract – I don’t like the way it tastes…)  It’s a dense cake, and I love it’s flavor.  Here’s the recipe:  http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Butter-Cake

I didn’t have a heart cake mold, so I baked the cake in a circle mold, then cut it into a heart.

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2. Ice the cake!  Mia spotted this Hersey’s white chocolate icing in the supermarket, and she begged me to use this one, so I tried it out.  (It is yummy!)

3. Roll out the fondant.  I got the Wilton wedding cake fondant pack.  Add the Wilton icing color (Rose Pink) and knead until the whole batch is even color.  Then roll it out nice and big.  I rolled it out as big as the edge of the mat I am using.

4. Cover the cake.  Carefully, using the rolling pin, lift and drape onto the cake.  Be careful not to use your fingers when doing this, because the fondant will deform or be punctured very easily.  Make sure the fondant covers all the top and sides.

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5. Smooth out the fondant. Using a rolling pin or a smoother, or even your palms, smooth out the surface of the cake.  To avoid the fondant to stick to the equipment, or your hand, sprinkle some confectioners sugar.  Cut off the excess fondant that is around the cake.  Tuck in the edges a little using a butter knife.

6. Decorate!

I first pre-designed the pieces so I know exactly how much fondant I need (for the princess.)  Then, knead in colors.  I used a swab of pink and yellow to make a peach color for the head and arms.  Brown for the hair, pink for the dress, and yellow for the crown.

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I used the same method I used for the “Flower Field Cupcakes” (please check out the post for info) to make a few flowers as well.

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I also made small yellow and green balls to surround the cake.  To put the last touch, I made a big bow to drape on the cake.

I cut cardboard, and covered it with foil to make a cake base.

I cut cardboard, and covered it with foil to make a cake base.

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The kids gave me a thumbs up for the cake!

The kids gave me a thumbs up for the cake!

Minecraft Cake!

8 Dec

Minecraft Cake!

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On my son’s 8th Birthday, I made a Minecraft theme cake.

1. Bake!  I always use the Wilton’s butter cake recipe (I cut the sugar down a cup and added a tad more vanilla extract and deleted the almond extract – I don’t like the way it tastes…)  It’s a dense cake, and I love it’s flavor.  Here’s the recipe:  http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Butter-Cake

I used two square baking pans.  Make one recipe amount and divide into the two pans.

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2. Make Icing!  I made Wilton’s chocolate Buttercream icing.  here’s the recipe:  http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Chocolate-Buttercream-Icing

Put icing in the middle of the two square cakes and also cover the whole cake.  Before covering the cake with icing, cut the sides so the two cakes make a nice square piece, with no rough edges.

Add chocolate icing and cut off the sides

Add chocolate icing and cut off the sides

3. Decorate!  This is the fun part!  I used the Wilton’s white rolled fondant.

I first colored a good grapefruit size amount with a kelly green icing color, because that is the color I would need the most.  I would use this to cover the cake, and also to make the “creeper.”

Roll out the green fondant.  I use the Wilton’s mat as a guideline.  For this cake, I rolled out almost as big as the mat, just to make sure it’s large enough to cover the whole cake.

*using a rolling pin (very important not to use your hands/fingers) lift the fondant and drape it over the cake.

Use a fondant smoother, or your palms to smooth out the surface of the cake.  To avoid sticking, use powder sugar on your palms when smoothing out.  Cut out the excess around the cake.  The corners are a little tricky, but the trick to covering a square cake is that the fondant need to be in a shape of a flattened (square) box, with 4 square flaps on all four sides of the center square.

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4. Make the cake toppers.

First make the Creeper.  allocate the green fondant so that there are enough for the head, body, and 4 legs (I think they are legs)  Then, knead and refine each piece so each pieces become a smooth square/rectangle.

Color some fondant with black icing color, and knead until the color is even.  Roll out and cut small squares and rectangle for the eyes and mouth.  Dab a little water on the back of the pieces and attach them onto the face.

Using toothpicks, attach the legs and the head to the torso.

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Make Steve and Enderman.  Color fondant so you have peach, blue, brown, black and a teeny bit of pink for these guys.  Sculpt them using a guideline, like a picture or a toy.  Put them together using a toothpick.

Make different hues of brown.  My kids called these kaka.  I made kaka shapes just to play around with them…  Roll them out and cut it into small squares.  I used the square grid on my mat as a guideline.  Dab a small amount of water to the back of these squares, and attach them to the sides of the cake.  (By this time, I am thinking “what have I got myself into?!” ) (This is a very tedious process…)

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Place  Creeper, Steve, and Enderman on top of the cake.  I used bamboo skewers to support their backs, so it looks like they are sitting.

Ta Da!  My first plan was to just do a Creeper, but it looked too lonely, so I proceeded to make Steve and Enderman.  I’m happy I did, and my son is thrilled!

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Birthday Party 2013

6 Nov

It’s that time of the year again!

Happy 5th Birthday, Mia!  You are ever so sweet, spicy, and funny, and give me a dose of each, every day.  You give me unlimited kisses and hugs and ” I love you, mama”, which snaps me out of the daily routine stress.   You are totally adorable, and it puts a smile on my face every time.  You are very timid among a group, or among strangers, but when you are in your comfort zone, you are a chatterbox, and can be very loud!  Noa says you are the funniest girl he knows!  You are like that Katy Perry song, hot and cold, up and down, happy and sad, you love me one moment, and you hate me the other.  You can be a real emotional roller coaster.  I enjoy you every moment.  You are with me 24/7, you sleep with me, and you wake up with me.  Sometimes, I wish you were a little more independent, but it will come a day, when I will wish that you would spend more time with me, so I will cherish this precious moment.

Happy 8th Birthday, Noa!  You are growing up so fast, right in front of my eyes!  You have started to eat more, and more variations, which I am pleased to see.  I love that you are witty, and creative. You have grown to love LEGO’s, and I love to watch you follow the instructions and create amazing pieces (many of which are for much older kids!)  It makes me so happy to see you creative!  You really surprise me when you talk about your interests, that you know so much.  These moments makes me realize that you are really listening, and that you are learning every day.  I am very proud of you, that you are doing great in school.  I am so happy to see you having such a great time with your friends, and that you have great friends.  You are a hero to your sister, and she can’t wait for you to come home from school every day.  You can act like a big kid, but I know, when I snuggle you in bed, that you are still my little baby boy!

If you kids only knew how much I love you both!!!

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So…..This year, I went all out for our kids’ birthdays.

Mia’s birthday was in mid September.  We took a trip to Disney to celebrate with Nana (grandma), auntie, and baby cousin.  We had a great time, but Mia kept complaining that she didn’t have a cake… (it’s true, we never got around to cutting a cake.)  It gets complicated when we are traveling.  Anyways, she kept saying that she never got to celebrate and sing Happy Birthday with friends…

Then, October came.  End of October is Noa’s birthday.  We already have annual passes to Disney, so we booked a hotel to go back to Disney.  Then ofcourse, he wants to celebrate with friends as well.

So, I have decided to do a small, headache-free, birthday party for both the kids (at the pool.)

I was supposed to keep it “simple”… pizza, chips…my husband was very adamant about that.  However… here’s how it rolled out…

Note, Mia wants a princess theme.  Noa wants a Minecraft theme.

1. One week prior to the party, I made invitations.  My plan was to invite just the close friends, whom I can text invitations to, however, Noa wanted to invite few new friends from class, so I made these for him to hand out:

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2. Prepare goodie bags.

Noa, Mia and I all worked on the creeper face, so each bag had a different face...

Noa, Mia and I all worked on the creeper face, so each bag had a different face…

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Some of the goodies I put in the bags.

3. Two days prior to the party, I baked the base cakes. Two square, two heart cakes.  (The cakes deserve its own post, so please check them out :))

4. One day prior to the party, I decorated the cake.  By this time, I realize I have overwhelmed myself again, with the many tasks that lay ahead.  Maybe I should just do store bought cake and food… No, No, I want to make it “special.”

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5. Party Time!  I woke up early to first prepare breakfast, then picked up the breakfast mess.  Then I washed all the veggies and fruits for my platters.  I made a fruit platter, veggie platter, big salad, my pepper salad, couple of bowls of chips, and ham and cheese platters.  Then, I made pasta and Bolognese sauce, and also hotdogs.  I got my self ready, and also my kids ready.  All in time for a 1pm party!

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The party was a success, if I do say so myself.  Mostly everyone showed up.  There were many kids going crazy around the pool, and they all had a blast.  The adults had fun, too. We had great food and great company, what more can  I ask for?!  We took the party to a billiard room after dark, and partied some more until we called it a night!

Noa’s actual birthday was on a Tuesday, and I cooked a big dinner.  Nana came to celebrate with us!  Nana took the kids to the mall (to spoil them with more gifts.)  While they were out, I made Asian flavor roasted chicken, my pepper salad, roasted asparagus, kale chips, and pumpkin pie.

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At the end of the week, we went to Disney.  We managed to go around all 4 Disney parks (including Food and Wine Festival at Epcot.)  They call it the “happiest place on Earth,” but going to Disney with kids is not all happy and dandy (that’s a whole different subject!) but we had a great time!

Anyways, then comes Halloween…

I baked pumpkin cake for Halloween!

I baked pumpkin cake for Halloween!

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I am drained, but feel like I conquered these events this year, and very happy about it!

So, Kids, (even though I know you guys sort of take it for granted,) I hope you appreciate all that mommy and daddy do for you…

Pumpkin seeds

29 Oct

Here’s what I did with the pumpkin seeds from the pumpkins we carved!

First, I separated the seeds from the stringy pulp from the pumpkin, and washed the seeds thoroughly.  Drain.

Wash and drain seeds

Wash and drain seeds

Then I spread the seeds on a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Coat the seeds with olive oil and salt. let stand for 24 – 48 hrs.

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Preheat oven to 325’F.  Remove parchment paper, and toast seeds in the oven for about 40 min. stirring occasionally.

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They are simple and delicious!

Pumpkin Carving 2013

29 Oct

This year, we carved pumpkins for the first time!

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First I washed the pumpkin.

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Then opened a hole up top.

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Then cleaned the inside.  All the stringy flesh and seeds has to come out.

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I rinsed off the inside.

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I then put it out in the Sun to let dry, but later found out that this is a big NO NO… DON’T put it out in the Sun!

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We drew on the pumpkin as a guide to carve.

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I cut out a stencil from a coloring book.

I cut out a stencil from a coloring book.

Start carving!

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Ta Da!!!

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We love the way it came out!

Daddy made pumpkin soup with the small cut out parts, and it came out delicious!

Note to self… Do not carve pumpkins way in advance.  They are raw vegetable, and it will rot!   (There are tips on the web on how to preserve them longer.)  Next time, I would wait until Halloween day, that way, we can actually cook the pumpkin and fully enjoy them.  Look what happened to ours…

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They got deformed, and moldy…  We had to throw them away, before any trick-or-treaters got to see them…  :{

It was a fun family activity, and I think we will carve a couple more on Halloween day!

October… Halloween… my favorite season

29 Oct

October… my favorite month has come, and it’s almost gone, (by the time I get around to actually finishing this post…)

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I love this season, I love Halloween.

Strawberry Shortcake!

Strawberry Shortcake!

Slenderman

Slenderman

This year, I actually did decorate the first week of October, unlike some years that I wait until the end of the month.  I feel great about it, because we get to fully enjoy all of the decorations I have collected over the years.  I usually go around the stores right after a holiday, to catch the great sales, so there are many items I got last year, and never saw it displayed in the house, so for me, it is so fun to open my Halloween boxes to see what I have in there!  I put up many zombies and scary stuff this year.  In the darkness, I use a flash light to light up the zombies to scare my children.  It was effective the first time…

It’s yet to be the second week of October, and I have already decorated, got costumes, pumpkin carved, and baked pumpkin pie already.  Boy, this year I do feel a great sense of accomplishment…  October is also my son’s birthday month, so I planned and executed his birthday party and birthday getaway to Disney.  I also have goodie bags for my son’s class for the 31st!  Wow, wow, wow!

I’m also a little sentimental by this time of the year, because the year is almost over.  I feel that same feeling of anxiety I feel every year…  Flashback of “New Year Resolutions” and the list that is still there lingering, waiting to be checked off the list…  Ugh, I only have like 60 days to accomplish these goals, and time is clicking…

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Our front door

Our front doorIMG_7680

Some Freaky toys at Party City

Some Freaky toys at Party City

Survived the first week of school!

26 Aug

First week of school …Done!  I have survived, and conquered the first week!

I am proud to say, I have totally managed the first week well.  I planned ahead, and I kept with the plan, and it went well.  The question is, can I stick to the plan?  Time management is KEY.  I did food preparation in bulk, on Monday, so I had stuff in the fridge for the rest of the week.  That totally saved me time and stress.  I also made a chore chart on my fridge, so the kids will get things done to earn stickers.  It worked this week, and I’m hoping they don’t loose interest over the weeks.  I went to bed fairly early this week, my goal was to get in bed by midnight, and I did it!  I swear, going to bed before midnight, compare to after midnight makes a big difference.

New school year means many changes, and I was nervous about these changes.  My son gets out an hour later this year, drop off/pick up areas changed, new classroom, and… new teacher!  The drop off/pick up was totally chaotic, being the biggest k-8 school in the county, there are way too many cars and way too little parking spaces.  They (whoever handles these things) need to do something about that for sure.  Parents were able to walk up to the new classrooms the first week, so I got to see his new classroom, which was great.  I’m so happy that he is in a single classroom, (not the huge co-teaching classrooms with 30-something kids in it.)  The room looked nice and organized.  New teacher – the biggest concern for me, is what I am most happy about, because I got a really good impression from her.  One thing I was really worried about was homework, but the new teacher, checks it everyday, and that encourages my son to get it done, so that is really a great support for me and my son.  She sends a behavioral chart everyday, and I see her at pick-up everyday.  I’m just so happy to get a teacher that is “there,” and communicating.  I feel comfortable in leaving my son with her every day.  Best of all, I saw motivation from my son to do the homework and readings this week!  I love that.  This year looks promising, and I’m so relieved.

So, that is how my first week went.