Saturday, June 30, 2012

adopted cupcakes

One of my favorite customers is a social worker in the Twin Cities. I can't imagine how difficult her job is: how gut wrenching it can be at times and how rewarding it can be too. It's a position I respect immensely, but it's also one that I can't imagine myself doing. I get way too emotionally involved in situations, so I think I would have meltdown after meltdown if I were to take on the job. Kate is just the woman for the job and she happens to be incredibly thoughtful and generous, always going the extra mile.

Today, when she came to pick up some cupcakes (root beer float flavored with pinwheels toppers like these) for an adoption party for 2 of her kids, she briefly told me the story of the beautiful children. She told of how much they had gone through in their few years on earth and how great their newly adopted parents are. My heart melted more than a little as she told me there were family members who'd flown in from out of state to celebrate with them. These dear children, who might have otherwise been considered too old to adopt, now not only have parents that love them, but also a huge extended family full of love for them. Not to mention how thrilled the parents have to be to add to their family with these two adorable kids (I saw pictures...they're cute, believe me!).

I know I'm not really a part of the celebration or the process, but today I feel like I do more than just run a bake shop out of my home. When the event is something so lovely, it makes me feel like I'm doing something sort of important. I know it's a stretch to think baking cupcakes is important, but when the sweets are going to celebrate a new start for these children and parents, it has a certain extra reward for me.

I love happy endings and pray for nothing but blessings on this beautiful family! Thank you Kate, for letting me play a tiny part from a distance.

Monday, June 18, 2012

pinwheel girl

I was at a loss when trying to come up with design ideas for my daughter's new big girl bedroom. Since she's getting kicked out of the nursery in a few months, I started shopping and researching. Before she was born, I found some Michael Miller fabric with a bird theme and I fell in love with it. It was aqua and orange but decided to do a green and pink cupcake theme for her baby room with the idea that birds will be her big girl room some day. I went to work searching for it, but to no avail as almost 5 years later, it is out of print. I found another theme that was pretty cute, but I was sure I wouldn't find the fabric at a retail store. So, a disappointed me went off to one of my favorite fabric warehouses here to look for inspiration.

I found a few options, but none of them hit a nerve of inspiration. Since I love Michael Miller fabrics, I started looking there and after much digging and searching, I found the collection I was looking for. I started gathering the coordinating fabrics and then my wonderful mother, who was shopping with me, showed me a pinwheel print that was not in the same collection, but coordinated perfectly. I was suddenly inspired!

Pinwheels.  So cute, so summery, so innocent, so fascinating for a child. It was perfect. I went to work sewing  curtains and textiles, giving my youngest daughter her orange room. (well, more melon than orange, but she loves it as if it were orange.)

Painting was an annoyance. We ended up needed 3 coats and almost 2 full gallons of paint. But I like how it eventually turned out with a cheerful melon color.

Orange and pink bedding backed with light aqua

Orange coordinating bed skirt

Detail on the pillow sham

Pinwheel curtains and ties

Ikea curtain rod cost me less than $15

Of course, she needed a matching laundry bin

And, my personal favorite: pinwheel pictures (made with scraps of fabric, wooden dowels, fiberboard, wood trim and spray paint and, of course, hot glue)

She is pretty proud to be in her big girl room now (almost as proud as I am of it). Better yet, she loves that the vent in her closet is connect to her big sister's room.  They will have many nights of secrets and giggles ahead.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

fun with outlets

An easy and inexpensive way to refresh a room is a fresh coat of paint.  Almost everyone knows that...and if you don't, you might want to come out from under that rock you've been living under. Well,  I should say that it's cost effective if you don't need 2 gallons and 3 coats of paint for one small bedroom because your daughter wants orange (paints with a high concentration of red do not cover well, no matter how much you spend on the best paint with primer in it).

I would argue that another inexpensive way to refresh a room is to replace the electrical outlets, switches and cover plates. Many times when you buy a home more than 10 years old, the outlets are pretty beat up with paint and dirt or they're an undesirable dirty ivory color.  As I was prepping to paint my daughter's room, I noticed how nasty the outlets and switches had become.

BEFORE                                                     AFTER

The process is not as difficult as you might think, but I can't legally encourage you to do it on your own without a licensed electrician, so I will just show you exactly what I did.  For easy to follow instructions on how to replace outlets and switches and additional information, click here.



6. REMOVE WIRES FROM OLD OUTLET.  Note that black is always hot and white is neutral.






For more information on what I do with my life, stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

no more pencils, no more books!

I offered to make cupcakes for my daughter's end of the year party at school.  I had to make 75 cupcakes for the kids and their families (and only came home with 4 extras!), so I decided to have fun with flavors and not go overboard on the decorations.  HAHAHAHAHA.  Yeah, me not go overboard?  RIGHT.

I'm very much into pinwheels these days, so much so that I'm doing a pinwheel theme for my daughter's new bedroom.  So, I made a bunch of little pinwheels to top the cupcakes.  They are non-functioning as I didn't think it was probably a good idea to put tiny little pins on kids' cupcakes, but they're pretty cute anyway.

I did the pinwheels ahead of time.  Since I didn't have any double sided craft paper, and since Michael's only had grown up looking browns and rose colors with huge flowers in their double sided papers, I glued two pieces of paper together with a glue stick.  I keep accumulating craft paper packs and never seem to use them, so I didn't really want to buy more.  However, it did make for a tedious time of gluing 12x12" paper together.  After that little process, here is what I did:

1. cut 2" squares with a paper cutter out of double sided craft paper.
2. with one of the squares as a pattern, draw a diagonal line from one corner to the opposite corner, then again with the other corners to make an X across it.
3.  measure 1/4" from the center of each line.
4.  cut from the corner to the 1/4" mark of each line.
5.  with all 4 corners cut towards the center, use this as a template for cutting the remaining squares.
6.  bring the left cut side of each corner to the center and glue it in place with hot glue or tiny glue dots.  I used got glue and a toothpick.  I thought it'd be cheaper than using 4 glue dots per pinwheel.
7.  hot glue a lollipop stick to the back of each pinwheel.
8. place a dot of glitter glue in the center or glue a small button, sequin or other embellishment in the center of each pinwheel.

And you're done with phase one.  It should take you about 4 hours to do 75 little pinwheels.  You've got an extra 4 hours, don't you?  Who doesn't?

For the cupcakes, I tried to have some fun flavors for the kids:

These were root beer and vanilla flavored cupcakes with vanilla frosting.  They tasted AMAZING - just like the real thing. (yes, I sampled each flavor; judge me all you want.)

I made these with a white cake recipe, added creme de menthe extract and chopped chocolate pieces.  The chocolate frosting rounded out the flavor nicely. I think real mint leaves would be tasty and much more grown up, but like my friend Beth said, the kids probably would have balked at having "vegetables" in their cupcakes.

I think these are the cutest.  I used Sixlets to look like gumballs.  The flavor was very bubble gummy, so I figured the kids would like them.  They did.

I rounded out the flavors with some basic vanilla and dark chocolate cupcakes.  My oldest daughter thought it'd be fun to make the vanilla frosting a "sunshiney" yellow since summer break is almost here.  I agreed.

It was a fun party for the kindergartners and their families, and it gave me an excuse to try out some fun flavor ideas so I could brag about myself to you.  You're welcome.