f3Oakland’s “Art & Taxes” event recap!

Blog, oh hey!  I’m just gonna lay it out there, I’m super addicted to my friend’s building events.  SO ecclectic and fun!!  I have previously posted a few recaps about f3 events at the Cotton Mill Studios, should you want to check them out:



This past event was themed “Art & Taxes”, I’m guessing mostly because it was so close to Tax Day.  I made a few sewn stationery items that looked like lined grade school paper and yellow legal pads.  I also brought some jewelry, scarves AND amazing treats since we usually kill it during the later hours of the event when folks are peckish.  What can we say, we know our audience!  Lexi had awesome dino hoodies on hand, lumberjack and narwhal totes, a cloud mobile that is adorbs and stuffed whales and narwhals.  The Meck brought amazing jewelry too!   Sold a little jewelry, sold some stationery – but killed on treats.  Like, $100 on just treats alone.  Word.

As usual, there was no shortage of deliciousness that was put out on the delectables table.  The food, oh, the food – there was such a spread.  I made Madelines, triple chocolate chunk chocolate chip cookies, and Black Magic chocolate cupcakes with Vanilla Bean buttercream icing.  My mom made (yes, my mom) made Lemon Tea Bread, the Meck made the America’s Test Kitchen peanut butter cookies, and Lexi made gingersnaps, a gingersnap sandwich cookie with lemon cream cheese filling, lemon mini cupcakes with lemon cream cheese icing, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and gluten free dark chocolate brownies with hazelnuts.  Yeah, you could say we all like to bake or something.

After the event got started, it was a little slow.  Then a band member from Mad Noise walked in and asked if they could do a 2 song set in the studio, and I said hell yes.  So if you scroll through, you will see a photo of them captivating the audience we had in the loft at that point.  They were literally amazing.  Such talent!

Can’t wait for the next event, and hope you can come too!

Neapolitan Cake, & my Mom’s birthday

Verbatim.  Me: Mom, what we should serve for your birthday, cake, pie, something else?  Mom: Cake.  Specifically cupcakes.  Me: What flavor do you want for these cupcakes?  Mom: Oh I don’t know…

And I said (in my head) WE WILL HAVE ALL THE FLAVORS!  And, Neapolitan cake was to be made.  I know I am not the first person to attempt colored or layered cakes, so this is not new.  But, I have to say it turned out cute enough that I wanted to show it off.  And, yes, yes you can do it too.

Starting off with 3 cake batters, Strawberry, Chocolate and Vanilla, I made an 8″ round of each.  I had SO much leftover batter that I thought I’d attempt the cupcakes as well, since they were specifically requested.  During their cooling, I made a Vanilla Bean Buttercream, as well as a Strawberry Buttercream, and a Milk Chocolate frosting.  I’m such an overachiever.

From the photos of the cake you can see that I layered the chocolate on the bottom, put down some of the Vanilla Bean Buttercream, then layered the Vanilla, put down some of the Strawberry Buttercream, and placed the Strawberry layer on top, and covered the entire thing in the Milk Chocolate frosting.  The assembled cake then went into the fridge while I started on the cooled cupcakes.

In my humble opinion, the candies you see on the tops of the cupcakes were proportionally too big.  I searched high and low for the old school Brach’s Neapolitan candies, they are the perfect square shape and I would have used those to decorate the cake and cupcakes.  Couldn’t find them to save my life – gone are the days of the Brach’s candy dispenser displays at grocery and drug stores.  Le sigh.  So, in a crazy what-are-the-odds kind of day, while with my daughter at Michael’s we spied the old school Neapolitan candy bars!!  Snapped up 4, and took home to cut up.  I knew I needed a piece to top the cupcakes, but couldn’t decide how to decorate the cake.  I had a ton of Strawberry Buttercream, but not as much Vanilla Bean or Milk Chocolate frosting left to use.  So, we came up with what you see in the pics below – I think it turned out super cute.  I failed to get a pic of the inside of the cupcakes, but it was exactly how it should be, as I had layered each type of batter on top of another.  They all tasted sublime too – a fresh Strawberry Buttercream is divine, by the way.  You should definitely try it out.  Even for a chocoholic like myself it warranted multiple tastings right out of the mixer bowl!!!

The Baby Shower

Holy Moly, I did a LOT of prep for my sister in-law’s baby shower.  I won’t lie though, it was a lot of fun to do.  I enjoyed all of it.  My husband thinks I spend too much time doing things for free… I respond with “I’m honing my skillz”.  I mean, you have to hone.  Otherwise you don’t have a portfolio to show anyone to actually GET work with.  Just sayin.

So, please enjoy the photos below.  There are a few that you may have already seen, so I will just link previous posts to them as they appear.

For the shower we had place settings decorated on a few tables and a buffet style lunch.  We also had a fun “Things that go pop” candy station table, with things like pop rocks and popcorn.  Just to poke fun at my sister in-law mostly, and have an excuse to pig on candy.  🙂    I tried to keep the theme from the baby shower invitation as much as possible for the decor, so you will see baby blocks, trains, and a few specific zoo animals.  I was able to pirate the actual image from the shower invitation from Papyrus’ website, which is probably a copyright infringement of some sort.  I can’t endorse it, but have at it!

DIY Baby Shower Kisses favors

I previously did a post on making your own personalized Hershey’s Kisses favors, while I was making things for a bridal shower.  I thought they turned out so well, that making them for a baby shower sounded just as cute.

You can view the original post here for a list of materials and specifics.

So, after searching the internet for cute zoo animal images, searching for cute polka dot patterns and pirating an image from the Papyrus website (from the shower invitation) – I had filled up about three different templates to print out.  There were 8 different stickers I landed on.  Eight may sound like a lot, but once the kisses are either in a bowl or scattered on a table, it’s wonderful to have more than one or two images to look at.  After printing a lot of sheets, I cut and punched till the cows came home.  I bought 2 big party sized bags of kisses, and got to work.  My sister in-law surprised us the same day with a visit, so she even helped with the ‘peel and stick’ process.  It took about two solid days, but we got through all of the candy and even managed to not eat very many in the process.  WIN!  Oh, and the candies turned out amazing too.


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The Bridal Shower!

And just as quickly as it started, it seemed like it ended – we all had a load of fun.  The food was amazing, the decor looked great and I was happy with the favors I doled out. 🙂

Here are the photos as promised, that I said I would provide in order to make all my latest DIY posts make sense.  Please feel free to email me if you’d like to know anything specific that I didn’t cover in the post.  Enjoy!

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Handmade Paper Party Garlands, post from 3/29/12

Personalized Candy Favors, post from 3/24/12

Personalized Teacup Candle Favors, post from 3/11 & 3/14/12

Personalized Matchboxes, post from 3/17/12

Planted Moss & Succulent Table Centerpieces, post from 10/17/11

Personalized candy favors, DIY

In event planning, I admit I may be a bit over the top or anal retentive.  Whichever describes the situation, I guess!  I was always taught that a good party has some kind of candy, SOMEWHERE.  🙂  So for the bridal shower I thought I’d look up the personalized M&Ms, because I had ordered them years ago for a friend’s baby shower and they were a huge hit.  I found the website, did a little of the “create yours” section, only to realize that I had to buy a minimum of 3 bags, at a total cost of $41.97 without tax and shipping.  I also know I would need more than 3 bags based on the fact that each one is only 7 oz.  I don’t know about you all, but my wallet hurts these days – so these are kinda out of the picture now.  No matter how frickin cute I made them.  Le sigh.

SO, I decided that there had to be something cheaper I could make.  I found an image on Pinterest of personalized hershey’ s kisses and put it on my board, and decided to try it out today.  It took a bit of trial and error, but I got it right AND now you can do this too!  (PS, the site I found the original idea on was priced at $27.00 for 100 candies without tax or shipping.)

1.  Go to staples or office depot, get Avery labels that are 1 inch circular mailing seals.  (short answer to your question of why mailing seals, because it was the right size and was white.  You can make these any color.)  $7.99 for 600.

2. Go to Michaels and grab a “recollections lever punch” in petite.  They should rename it to the hershey’s kiss punch.  For real.  $3.99 or $2.89 with a 40% off coupon.  Yup.

3. Go to CVS or wherever you can get a “party size” bag of Hershey’s Kisses.  $7.99.

4. Get home with your bounty, download the Avery template for the seals, it should be #5247.

5. Design your template however you wish, fill with color, add a photo or text, whatever your heart desires.  For me it was the bride and groom’s wedding emblem on a white background.  Be aware that you should make your image smaller than the circle because it is too big to affix to the kisses, you will be punching them out of the sheets in a later step.  Copy and paste your first circle to the rest of the sheet, print!  It took me about 15 sheets to do the entire bag.  Minus the four I ate.  Don’t hate.

6. Cut the sheets up into rows, this will be easier for the punch to center on your design.  The seals are actually too big for the kisses, thus the need for a punch.

7. Turn the punch upside down so you can see what you are punching, and punch away.  These are small, so I had a small container on hand to put them all into or risk them running away.

8.  Peel and stick to your heart’s content!  Invite people over to help, bribe your eight-year old or just do this while watching the tube.  It’s a mindless activity.  🙂

Congratulations, you are done!!  And you have something that people will remember for a very, very long time.  All at the total cost of $19.53.

Happy Halloween!

Yay!  Halloween is finally here!  The oldest daughter’s class party is today, we volunteered  to bring cupcakes for the 30 kids plus adults.  We did the same last year, and she had made marzipan pumpkins to go on top of them.  She even put veins in them to make them realistic!  So I asked her, “what ideas do you have for these cupcakes?”  She really had to think about it.  She definitely wanted both chocolate and vanilla cupcakes for the class – because not everyone likes one or the other.  (Of course!)  Eventually she landed on making creepy hands out of marzipan, that would poke out of the cakes.  I took it a step further and told her that Milano cookies are the shape of a tombstone, so we ran with that.  I made some gray frosting, and dipped that into ground up chocolate graham crackers for dirt.  Then I piped RIP onto the cookie, and placed it on the cupcake, and for the final touch she placed the hand(s).  I think they were amazing!!

Time for a drink… cookie… both…

Heyyyy October!  There are a few birthdays in our family this month, and my Uncle’s wife is up next this week – side note Happy Birthday to my brother today!  For her party this weekend, my mom thought that a cosmopolitan theme was in order.  She ordered printed fabric to make pj pants from, and the pattern was actually really fun.  Then she bought a martini shaped cookie cutter.  Then it inspired the trip to Cost Plus World Market to buy anything cosmo related; drink mix, rimming sugar, glass ornament, and an oversized martini glass.  Like, the centerpiece kind of oversized, or the kind you see at bars or restaurants that serve about 10 people per order… anyways, fun stuff.  The fabric also inspired some sugar cookies!  This was a great excuse for my oldest daughter to learn a bit more skill for piping icing, so that was the afternoon.  We made the classic cosmo, the raspberry cosmo, a margarita, and a two-olive martini.  My daughter did all the white piping you see, which I think she did really well for a first timer!  We always spread out all over any flat surface, and use up whatever we have on hand – which is always interesting, and keeps our cost$ low.  🙂

I think they turned out great, and my daughter can be super proud of setting them out as favors or serving them up at the party.   I mean, they’re too cute NOT to post.  The icing was royal, and some Wilton thrown in.  I hate that stuff, it’s terrible tasting and really runny.  So, trying to use it up… then there’s some sparkly Wilton stuff, which never really dries.  We used it sparingly, but hot damn if it doesn’t look like rimming sugar!!  The raspberries are red hots and some tiny red nonpareils.  The olives in the martinis are also red hot centers with green and black icing.  I can’t decide which one is my fave… but I do know that they all taste good!

Another birthday

Two posts in one day??  Blogger, oh hey!  To tell the truth, it’s raining today and the youngest is actually napping, so here we are.  This post is for a May birthday, my oldest’s 8th.  She wanted a brownie cake, so with a 9×13″ pan this is what she came up with.  She loves the San Jose Sharks, so teal frosting had to be on the cake somewhere.  She also had to have the blue sparkly number 8 candle.  I found the pink marshmallows too cute to pass up, so we had to have them. She said they looked like flowers to her, and then told me that’s how she wanted to decorate her cake.  She really did most of the work.  So, viola!  The brownie cake was for the kids party, the cupcakes were for the family party the following day.  That’s how we do.  :0)

1st Birthday!

It happened.  Too quickly.  She turned one… so the party was had!  I made mini cupcakes and regular cupcakes with Mother’s Animal Cookies on top, and piped a little “R” with some leftover teal I’ve had in the fridge (and can’t seem to use up!).  It was a small party with somewhat of an animal theme.  She had her first cake, followed promptly by a bath, LOL.  Would you believe I couldn’t find more than four boxes of Animal Crackers?!!  I mean, why on earth couldn’t I find more than that?  Those were staples back in the day; I guess times change.  The original idea was that those would be the favors, but instead they just ended up being decor.  Looking back at the photos, I think I would change using the pink and white iced cookies for actual Animal Crackers, solely because the Animal Crackers have MUCH better definition and are easily recognizable.  Then I’d try to find some pink and white giraffe liners or something like that to go with it.  With an Animal Cookie you kind of go, “what is this animal is this?” a lot.  There’s always next time!

How cute is the party dress and shoes??

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