Monday, May 9, 2011

Graduation Cupcakes - Congrats Mike!!!!!!

Mike is FINALLY a free man!!!  He doesn't have to spend his Saturdays following orders, listening to blah, blah, blah anymore or finding the time to do the work someone else tells him to do.

That's right ... he finally got his MBA!  CONGRATS MIKE!!!  We're so excited for you.

After spending nearly every Saturday since I-don't-know-when going to classes, Mike can finally concentrate on his business - Carolina Development & Properties.  He's so good at what he does, and the business will be very successful.

His wife Leslie held a great party for him this weekend, which included a cupcake display.  I wish we could have stayed later ... the bonfire was a lot of fun.

Mike always requests chocolate cake.  These were a mix of Oreo Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream and Chocolate Cake with Cheesecake Filling and Chocolate Fudge Buttercream.  All of the caps & diplomas are made from fondant.

Minnie Mouse Birthday Cake

We had so much fun celebrating Sydney's 2nd birthday on Saturday.

You know how we moms ALWAYS start out planning the kids' birthday parties as a little get-together in the back yard on the cheap, and end up dropping the better part of a paycheck to make sure our kids remember their special day?  Well, my friend Kara did that, too.  I'm not complaining ... my kids totally LOVED the princess bounce house, and I LOVED that they slept well that night.  She has a perfect backyard for a kid party!  Actually, my kids think she has a perfect backyard for every day.

I've never made a cake for Kara, so I wanted to make sure it was perfect.  That, and I was more than *a little* afraid she would go all Long Island Crazy on me if she didn't like it.  Of course I'm (kind of) joking because she was so easy-going during the planning process.  Luckily (for me!) she was super sweet about the cake.

I have to admit, I totally stole the design from KarolynAndrea on  I didn't make too many changes because why change something that's already perfect?

Sydney was so cute at her party.  She was a little overwhelmed with everyone there ... playing with her swing set.  The wind didn't let her blow out her own candles, but at least she liked the cake!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I only have two things to say about this post:
  1. Aren't these ADORABLE???

The Steeplechase in Waxhaw, NC is one of the best activities in the area in April.  It's not the Kentucky Derby, but everyone still gets all dolled up for it.  Every year, Chad's company has a booth to watch the horse races.  I made cupcakes for them, and without knowing it, they matched perfectly.

Of course, the only proof I have is this picture.  I sure would like to see some more ... BETH!  (Everyone knows I'm just picking on her, right?)

There were 3 different flavors:

  1. Vanilla Bean Cake with Chocolate Fudge Buttercream
  2. Pina Colada Cake with Rum Buttercream
  3. Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting (and a REAL strawberry in the middle!)

Fun with the Family

I was really excited to have my husband's family visit us for Easter.  I know most people wouldn't be thrilled to have 12 of their in-laws spend the week at their house, but I was!  It made it easier knowing that they all were staying at a hotel ... and not in my house.  Hats off to my brother-in-law, Todd, who is the GM at the Homewood Suites in Tallahassee and got everyone a great rate on hotel rooms.

Here's the run-down of who's who and where they came from.
Chris' dad (Kevin), stepmom (Carrie), and brother (Kaleb) came from Erie, PA.
Chris' sister (Joette), brother-in-law (Don), nephew (Reilly) and niece (Olivia) came from Tampa, FL.
Chris' sister (Danielle), brother-in-law (Todd), nephews (Connor & Jack) and niece (Emily) came from Tallahasse, FL

I don't get to see our nieces & nephews very often, so I wanted to make each one a cake.  I took a lot of time planning these cakes to represent each kid and their likes.  Isn't it funny how something so thoughtful and simple can turn into a nightmare?

Don't get me wrong, I was so happy to make these for the kids, but I forgot how much time it takes to a) ready your house for company; b) plan meals for 16 people for a week; c) cater to your own children's every need (can I have jjuuuuuiiiiiiicccccceeeee?); and d) make 6 cakes.  I was also going to make one for each of my own kids, but quickly dropped that idea.  THAT was just insane.

Did I also mention that these needed to be finished just a few days after Will's fire truck cake and Beth's 30th birthday cake.  Now, let's make a rule for this post that there won't be any negative comments about the sloppiness of my work.  I'll be the first to admit that not all the cakes are perfect, but they were all made with lots of love ... and in a VERY short amount of time.  With that said, let's see these time-suckers cakes.

I decided to work in the order they would arrive:

Kaleb - Kevin, Carrie & Kaleb spent Tuesday - Monday in Charlotte.  Kaleb actually started this crazy cake idea by saying he wished I could make his birthday cake and that he wanted a basketball cake.  Ask Crazy Brianna, and you shall receive, Kaleb ... here's his basketball cake:

Oh ... we're also not commenting on the cleanliness of my house, either ... umkay?  So there it is ... Kaleb's yummy, yummy basketball cake.  It was Chocolate Chocolate Chip cake with Peanut Butter frosting.  (MY FAVORITE!!!)  This was gone before everyone else arrived at my house ... sorry guys, we all inhaled as much as we could tried to save some for you.

Reilly & Olivia - Joette, Don, Reilly & Olivia were at our house Thursday - Monday.  Reilly plays on a baseball team called the Renegades.  For his cake, Joette emailed me a copy of the Renegades' logo, and I drew the it onto the fondant with edible markers.

Awww ... look at that good boy wearing a Penn State shirt.  (haha ... you can see Jack in the background checking out his cake!)  Reilly's cake was Chocolate Chocolate Chip cake with Vanilla Buttercream.

For Olivia's cake, I had planned this great cheerleader cake - complete with a megaphone and everything.  Then Joette said she doesn't cheer anymore, and suggested I make a sock monkey cake.  So, I abandoned my cheerleader cake (yes, it was probably more for me to relive my cheering days) and planned a sock monkey cake.  (OK my 8 readers ... remember, no comments on my sloppiness.)

Olivia's cake was Vanilla Bean with Chocolate Fudge Buttercream.  This cake had a BIG mishap before they got to our house.  The Chocolate Fudge Buttercream seeped under the fondant during the night.  That is the last time I use Aldi's chocolate fudge sauce in that recipe.

Connor, Emily & Jack - Danielle, Todd, Connor, Emily & Jack were at our house from Thursday - Sunday.  Connor likes karate, so I made his a karate cake.  Poor Connor ... I got all the other cakes finished before they arrived except his.  I had to make his Thursday night and give it to him on Friday.  I'm pretty sure he still liked it.

Connor's cake was Chocolate cake with Oreo Cookie Filling and Cream Cheese frosting.

Emily's cake was really cool because the whole thing was tye-dyed ... from the inside to the fondant outside.  Danielle told me she likes the peace sign and the color green, so I went with that.

Her cake was Almond Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream ... another one of my favorites.

Jack plays T-Ball, and one of the funniest things I've seen recently is a picture of Jack wearing a batters' helmet that's WAY too big for him.  I tried to create Jack & his helmet, but it didn't turn out so well.  In fact, Jack's entire cake was kind of a calamity of errors.  He was really excited about it, though.

Jack's cake was a Boston Creme Pie - Yellow Cake with Vanilla Pudding filling and Chocolate Ganache.

Yep ... so after this, we never wanted to see cake again.  I do, however, want to see the family again ... soon!

Beth's 30th Birthday

My BFF, Beth officially became an "old lady" and joined the rest of us in our THIRTIES!  That's OK ... we don't feel a day over 21.  That's a lie... we usually do feel older than 21.  But on nights when The Mamas get out of the house, we still feel 21, and we celebrated her birthday like we were 21!

OK, so remember the fire truck cake I made for my friend Katie's son Will?  Remember the "calendar malfunction"?  It wouldn't have been so stressful if it hadn't happened on the SAME DAY as Beth's 30th birthday party.

Here's how my day turned out:
Worked on the fire truck cake all night (slept for ~ 2 hours), woke up, worked on the fire truck cake for another 4 1/2 hours, delivered Will's cake.  By the time I got back home, it was 1:00 and I only had 4 1/2 hours to ice and decorate her cake.  YIKES!!!!

I don't know how I did it, but I finished that cake ... including making a HUGE red flower for the front.

Next came the fun part - delivering the cake while Beth & Chad were at dinner.  Chad rented a party bus for the evening, and everyone was meeting at their house for cake prior to departing.  I was running late (of course) so we BARELY finished before Beth & Chad got home.  It was so close that we passed them about 1/2 mile away from their house.

Here's what Beth saw when she returned home:

I hate how the fondant on the top tier is creased, but I literally finished it minutes before we had to leave.  Here's a closeup of the flower:

This cake had awesome flavor combinations - Almond Amaretto Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream, Red Velvet Cake with Marshamallow Cream Cheese Frosting, and Pina Colada Cake with Rum Buttercream.

After gobbling down the cake, we left for a FUN night on the party bus.

Beth cutting the cake

Beth & Chad

Fun on the party bus!  I'm pretty sure this was early in the evening.  It was a different story on the way home.

It was such a fun party!!!!  I can't wait act 21 again ... soon!!!

Fire Truck Birthday Cake

Right now I am a stay-at-home mom of two crazy kids.  By crazy, I mean, they drive ME crazy!  I know it's hard to believe, but there was a time when I had a career in the advertising/wedding industry (Yes, me!).  I had a laptop (that wasn't covered in  Gogurt ... thanks kids), sales budgets (and I don't mean the teeny-tiny shopping budget I have now), and CLIENTS!!!

There are a few clients that I've stayed in contact with, and Katie is one of them.  Katie and I have "met" a few times thanks to client lunches (that sounds so swanky now!) and networking meetings (WHAT!  You mean I used to leave the house just to mingle with other ADULTS?), but I have never mets her cute boys.

So, I was THRILLED when she asked me to make Will's 3rd birthday cake.  Then she told me she wanted a FIRE TRUCK, and I think I stopped breathing and peed my pants (just a little.)

Seriously, I talk a good game about what I *think* I can do, but making a fire truck was on the far, outer reaches of my comfort zone.  I started obsessing about this cake day and night.  I COULD NOT LET HER DOWN!  After all, she is a wedding planner - she owns The Charmed Event in Charlotte, NC.  If I got this cake right, maybe, just maybe (fingers crossed) there might be more business in the future.

Long story short, we had a "calendar malfunction", and I ended up having to make the cake 3 days sooner than I originally thought and found out the day before.  There was no time to pee in my pants ... I HAD to knock this cake out of the park.

Did I mention that this cake needed to have working flashing lights on it?  Did I mention that the red lights I ordered were on backorder for weeks and scheduled to arrive THE DAY I needed to deliver it.  It would have been fine if we hadn't had that "calendar malfunction", but now I wasn't going to have the flashing red & white lights on time.  Luckily for me, that week, I found that Michaels carries some flashing white lights - they're not top quality, but they would work in a pinch.  They would have to.

I stayed up pretty much all night, but thanks to all of my afore mentioned obsessing, I got this sucker done.  I was thrilled with the final result.

This is what is looked like around midnight:

(NNNOOOOO ... I wasn't drinking.  It was my husband's beer bottle.  Really, it was.)

Due to the time restraints, there were some details that didn't make it onto the cake and there were some areas that were flawed (don't make me point them out.)  But, all-in-all, I was really happy with this cake.  Maybe it was just because I was exhausted and would have been thrilled with anything that resembled a fire truck.

Here's the final result:

LOOK!  The white chocolate ladder on top of the fire truck said "Will 3" on both sides.  I even tried to make it stand out a bit with a dusting of red luster dust.  (I know ... I'm slightly obsessed with putting names in white chocolate)

The license plate said WLLS3 (Will's 3).

OK ... I wasn't THRILLED about how the front turned out, but hopefully the blinking lights deflected from the flaws.  OK ... I'll point them out - lower right corner was sloppy, had to use toothpicks to keep the bumper on (you can see the pin pricks), the headlights weren't even.

Katie said *most* of the lights worked, and she moved some around to make sure everything in the front lit up for Will.  I CANNOT WAIT to get some pictures from Katie.  It's wedding season, and that means I'll probably have to wait until November to get them, but that's OK.  I can be patient.  (Are they ready yet, Katie???)

And, check out The Charmed Event's blog -  Katie & Jill have lots of fun tips & ideas.  You can even read all about the award the received for planning a vendor bash for me when I was The Knot sales rep!  They won Best Social Event Under $40K.  They did such a fabulous job, and were totally deserving of the award.  Congrats Katie & Jill!!!

(Are the pictures ready yet?)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tiara Cupcakes - Ava's Birthday Party

My friend Jenny planned a fun princess party for her daughter Ava's birthday.  From the day we received the invitation, my daughter was SO EXCITED about "Ava's birday pardy".  After what seemed like an eternity (in the life of a 2 1/2 year old), Ava's party finally arrived.

Of course, during that time, Jenny and I had exchanged AT LEAST 20 emails about cupcakes.  Not just any cupcakes, but White Chocolate Tiara Cupcakes.  You may remember that I tried these earlier this year for Kennedy's 1st birthday.  When I made them for Kennedy, many of the tiaras crumbled and not every cupcake had one.  This time around, I made them more sturdy and I made extra to account for the ones that would tragically shatter on their way to their crowning moment atop a fluffy bed of frosting.

It's a good thing I made 20 extra tiaras because I had JUST ENOUGH to place a tiara on each cupcake.

Jenny was so surprised to find that I actually designed the tiaras to have Ava's name in each one:

The entire spread looked great.

Here's a closeup of Ava's giant cupcake & Ava blowing out the candles.

These were pink velvet cupcakes with buttercream.  

Miss Jenny knows how to make my daughter happy - a crown & a princess wand.  My son also tried to scare the neighbors with his knight mask.  

I think all the kids were happy to celebrate with Ava.

Happy Birthday Ava!  You looked so pretty and I hope you enjoyed your party.  Your friends Cole & Kate sure did!