Cakes a Swingin'

Recently I shared two cakes I made, one for Myla’s 4th birthday and the other for Maddox’s 1st birthday. So why not continue the cake theme, right?  

If you read my recent post ‘Return of the Blogger’, you would know that towards the end of last year I joined a gym called Max’s Best Bootcamp. Each month they hold a membership appreciation party called First Friday with clean eats, fun games, a bit of craziness and a bit of party punch too! Back in January I learned that the following month was Max’s (the owner’s) birthday and we’d be celebrating it at the February First Friday. I’m not even sure how we got on the subject of cakes, but I said I’d make the cake because obviously I have a thing for cake making. I sort of remember getting all excited and almost screaming at Max: “I’m going to make you a kettlebell cake!” (That was probably the party punch altering the volume of my voice). I’m not sure he realized what I was thinking or even that I was serious about making a cake, but my hamster wheel brain started turning and I was doing this. I was so ready for another creative challenge. 

As I got to thinking, I remembered I had a ‘ball’ cake pan made by Wilton from Myla’s 1st birthday that would be the perfect start to a three dimensional kettlebell cake. I just wasn’t sure how I was going to do the rest. But… once something gets stuck in my head, I’m always determined to figure out a way to make it work… so off I went.

I experimented with my favorite cake recipe which I know holds its shape well. I discovered that regardless of how perfect I was able to make those two half spheres, that I was going to need an extra layer between the two halves. Once the cake was baked and placed in the freezer (an awesome trick to sealing in moisture and it makes it easier to frost when it comes out) the cake compacted down a bit. By making an extra 6 inch round cake, about an inch high, that I placed between the two half spheres, I got the perfect sphere shape. I also made another 6 inch cake for the kettlebell cake to sit on - which would soon be covered in green buttercream ‘turf’. 

Then for the toughest part to figure out… I wasn’t exactly sure how to make the handle. Using fondant alone wasn’t going to work - I would have had to let it dry for several days to harden up enough so it wouldn’t collapse and I felt that was taking too big of a risk. So, I took a trip to Home Depot and found some really thin pvc piping. I wrapped some fondant around the straight pieces (after thoroughly washing and scrubbing it of course) so it evened out with the elbow joints. I gave that a day to dry and stiffen up. Since no one was going to be eating that part anyways, it didn’t matter that the fondant would get a bit hard. Then I covered the entire handle with the gray colored fondant and let that dry out a bit too before assembling the rest of the cake. 

Test cake (L) and Buttercream Turf Base for Final Cake (R)

I began by covering the round cake in a crumb coating of buttercream and placed it in the fridge for about 30 minutes to stiffen up. Then I smoothed the rolled out fondant around it. I’m so glad I did a practice cake, because I learned quite a bit about how to get the fondant to fit over a sphere cake without it folding or falling apart. My test cake had some issues near the bottom as you can see. Definitely tougher than it looks - I’m pretty sure I held my breathe the entire time and demanded complete silence in the house. (And maybe even threw the kids out of the kitchen despite Myla asking to help - next time sweetie). Then, I created the lower portions of the handle completely out of fondant. I had to rework them slightly into the proper shape after adding the fondant-covered pvc handle to them. Once it was all set, I placed it onto the fondant covered ball cake. 

As a side note... Max told me his favorite kettlebell was the red one - after I insisted to know so I would know what color to make the cake. So red it was. And although I believe the red kettlebells at bootcamp are of some other brand, I chose to imitate the CFF FIT logo as I thought I had come up with the most brilliant way to write Happy Birthday… "HBD MAX"… and instead of the normal (32 kg) numerals that should have been on there… I had to make it 38 for his age. At that very moment, I felt like a creative genius. Ha! As a side note, I was able to make the white logo pieces a few days ahead of time and store them in a sealed container until they were ready to use - made for less stress on the day of putting the cake together.

Final Cake

It was so awesome to see this cake come together - I absolutely love when an idea that pops into my head, can actually be made with my own two hands. However, I wasn’t completely thinking straight when I decided I was making this cake (darn that party punch)... because I was left trying to figure out how in the world was I going to transport this VERY top heavy cake in the car. It also happened to have JUST snowed that evening, so the super hilly and curvy roads I needed to take to get there were also slippery. It was an adventure getting there and again, I might not have breathed the entire way there... ever so cautiously stepping on the gas and brake pedals. Luckily, I did happen to find a tall box to transport it in and after the drive, the cake only had tipped to the side a little bit - I never did claim to be a professional cake maker, so it’s OK. I’m just thankful it arrived in one piece. 

In addition to the cake, I decided to make some cupcakes too - Because seriously, what else would this OCD, over-thinker do? (I DID forget to take some pictures though - doh!.) I felt so bad that I was going to be bringing a “super carb-filled, bad for you, refined sugar, white flour” cake to a “clean eats party” that I wanted to make some “cleaner” cupcakes too - paleo ones without gluten, refined sugar, or dairy. It was fun to experiment with those recipes too as I did find some healthy alternatives that Myla liked and which are definitely better for her sensitive belly. Not to mention - they are super delish and I feel better about myself indulging in them… Currently I’m thinking about the almond flour, vanilla cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting. Mmmmm.

MBB Crew - Absolutely love these people.

Maddox Turns One

After the crazy first year we had with Maddox, I can’t believe we celebrated his first birthday just a few short months ago. The first birthday is such a monumental milestone - and much more so for the parents than the actual child. When Myla turned one, me and Justin pretty much high-fived each other and said “we friggin’ did it.. we survived a full year as parents and Myla is still in one piece”. Myla, on the other hand, had not a single clue that the party was even for her, nor did she realize how much alcohol her parents (and grandparents) had consumed that night. We definitely toned it down a bit for Maddox’s birthday - not sure if it was a second child thing or that we were thankful that life seemed to be finally slowing down and we were just relishing the moment. 

Anyways, as much as I love the newborn/infant stage and all the sweet moments with them as teeny, tiny cooing babies, I admit it feels so good to get past that stage. I may shed a little tear occasionally when I look back, but I’m definitely looking forward to all the adventures ahead. As for Maddox, I now have a little walking and, well, not quite talking, but definitely communicating in his own language, little guy as my sidekick now. I love seeing his personality blossoming. Besides being a silly, inquisitive, mechanical, fearless, climbing little fellow - he’s pretty laid back and goes with the flow (Sooooo different than my mini-me Myla). Therefore, I figured he would probably never really care if he looked back and realized that I did a bit less planning for his first birthday than his sister’s. Plus, I knew deep down that I needed to take it easy on myself.

While searching for party supplies, I came across an adorable whale and octopus themed party set that I really loved - plates, decor, party bags, invites… and rather than trying to recreate or “one-up” what I already found, I decided to just buy it all. Checked that off the list - and it felt great! I even skipped on making him a party hat like I did for Myla - I had all the intentions of making one, but I knew with the limited time I had, it just wasn’t going to happen and instead I found a plush little crown. Awe, my little prince.

Obviously not thrilled... about the crown or the singing.

What I did decide to spend my time on was the cakes… and chocolate covered pretzels of course (I mean, who doesn’t love those?), along with some chocolate whale lollipops for the favor bags. I even had the party catered, so besides setting up food and decorations, I had very little to worry about. It was definitely hard for me to let go, but now that it’s past, I can say I’m happy that I was able to just 'be happy' with what I had.

So easy to make and so delish.

As for the cakes, I created two - well, actually three, as I made a special one for Myla because we were also celebrating her birthday with family (her party at Sky Zone was just friends). I wanted to use the sheet cake pan again that I used for Myla’s Paw Patrol Everest cake and I wanted make a smash cake for Maddox too. For the 'flat' whales and octopuses on the sheet cake, I used melted chocolate (left over from the pretzels) to make the forms on wax paper and added candy eyes. They easily peel up when cooled. For the three dimensional ones, I used fondant. Both of those I was able to make ahead and store until it was time to bake and decorate the cakes. 

Maddox's Smash Cake

Myla with her purple cake.

As I said before, I’m happy with how everything turned out. It was nice to focus on spending time with loved ones rather than getting wrapped up in “creating” - and with two back to back parties a week apart, it definitely saved my sanity… slightly.

Paw Patrol Party

If you have young kids, you’ve probably heard of Paw Patrol. In our case, it's all we ever hear about. It’s a show on Nick Jr. about a boy and a group of pups who do rescue missions around Adventure Bay. This show - or more like the idea of it - has been Myla’s obsession for well over a year - although Wild Kratts is starting to nudge the Paw Patrol out of that top spot. (Watch out Ryder!) Myla will wake up first thing in the morning and start assigning us characters and stating the missions we are about to embark upon. The thing that might drive me the most nuts, is that Myla is extremely imaginative - a good characteristic, of course - but she prefers to act out everything rather than playing with figurines (which by the way, she owns them ALL). All this acting makes for some exhausting play when you’re expected to run, jump, roll, stand up, sit down and fly…. I now understand the insanity I put my own parents through. Like mother, like daughter.

As Myla's 4th birthday came rolling up, what else would she want as the theme but Paw Patrol, right? Although it was my intention to do mostly store bought party supplies this year, that wasn’t entirely possible. You see… Nick Jr. decided to add a NEW PUP last year to the line up named Everest. She is now one of two girl pups on the show. The other girl pup, named Skye, is pretty girly and dainty flying around in her helicopter. As where Everest is a bit more of a tough girl - driving around in her snow rescue mobile and snowboarding down mountain sides. She’s definitely a bit sillier too - all which Myla relates to better. So of course, she wanted her theme to revolve around Everest. The only problem is that Nick Jr. has been really slow to release any products with Everest on them which left me needing to figure out how I could do the least possible in the handmade department. I decided that the invite, cake and a touch of handmade decor would be my limit. And I actually stood my ground against my own creative hamster-wheel mind.

To begin, I found some decent resolution images of the pups on the internet and went to work on the invite and table decor. The invite was pretty simple showcasing Everest and Skye on the front - but of course I needed to add Ryder (the boy) and his main pup, Chase, on the back - just to make sure it appealed to both the girls and boys invited to her party. And I opted for some fun chalkboard style text (that is the trendy thing to do now, right?)

Front of Invitation

Back of Invitation (sorry about the bad print job - our printer just finally kicked the bucket - this invite ended up being it's last job)

As for the table decor, I used those images I found online and blew them up to fill almost an entire sheet of paper. I also flipped the image using photo editing software and printed both images on card stock. I used double sided tape to stick them together once they were cut out. I then cut out bands of green to make a ring which the figure would sit on by making small slits in both the band and the figure so they would stand upright on the tables. Pretty simple and a lot less time consuming than it looks. And of course, I made sure that Everest would be standing on the table by the birthday girl.

Table Decor

Pup table decor on tables.

And finally, I had to make the cake. I decided a simple sheet cake would be the way to go here since I had to transport it to Sky Zone where the party was held. Typically, I don’t like to eat fondant, but I do like using it to decorate cakes - it’s the “play doh” of the cake world. I made the large Everest head out of fondant and placed it in the middle of the cake after I used buttercream frosting to cover the cake and decorate the edges. Myla also insisted on those large, round sprinkles along the border - and I have to admit, I like her style. And finally, because I was afraid of writing “Happy Birthday Myla” on the cake for fear of messing it up, I made a little banner (and used the leftover straws from her Frozen party last year as the poles). The rest of the party, I left up to Sky Zone... and BOY did it feel good to let someone else take control… and cleanup too.

Everest Cake

Myla blowing out her candles.

The Coolest Party in Town

…Is a FROZEN birthday party of course.

Sometimes I look back at the things I do and say, “Yup, I’m kind of crazy”. I’ve told myself time and again to give myself a break especially with birthday parties - kids appreciate store bought items just as much as homemade and it’s a lot less stressful and time consuming. But once my mind gets going and an idea starts branching out, I just can’t “let it go”.

I was 36 weeks pregnant when I threw Myla her third birthday party. I chose to hold it a few weeks early because Maddox was scheduled to arrive the day before her actual birthday, not leaving much wriggle room. As I mentioned in my last post, he had other plans and arrived early, which made me that much more thankful we chose to hold the party when we did. 

This year, I let Myla choose her party theme (as compared to the trains and owls I chose for the last two). It’s no surprise she chose the ever popular Frozen theme. What I should have done, being 9 months pregnant, was to buy all the Frozen theme decor at the party store and buy a cake. But do I allow myself to do this? Nope, of course not. After all, I enjoy doing this stuff. But seriously, I probably should have been relaxing with my feet up. 

I did, however, allow myself to consult Pinterest to fill in the gaps where my fatigued pregnant brain couldn’t. And, as much as I love Elsa and Anna - I didn’t want the party to focus on princesses. There was going to be three times as many boys than girls at her party and I know that Olaf would be the most popular character among all the kids. In addition to Olaf, a general "frozen/snowy" theme was my focus.

Unlike previous birthday party posts, I’ve put EVERYTHING into a single post, so it’s long. For easier searching, here’s what I’ll be sharing below: Activities, Favors, Food & Drink, Dessert, as well as the Invite and Thank You card designs.

Activities

Three is probably the earliest age kids look for, or maybe can handle, organized activities in a party setting. Two may work as well, but you’d probably end up with a lot of kids looking dumbfounded or refusing to participate - or maybe that was just my child. So, I figured I would plan just enough to have some organized fun before I let them run rampant from the sugar overload they were about to receive.

I planned two crafts and a slightly free-for-all snowball toss with Olaf. The first craft is the ever-popular “Build a Snowman” with marshmallows (jumbo, regular and mini), mini pretzels, caramel candy corn (I think these look more like carrots than the regular ones), and chocolate chips. I supplied edible markers and candy eyes to complete the face and made up bags of Royal Icing (aka gingerbread house frosting) to glue the snowmen together. This way it was completely edible. Even though the kids received some guidance on how to assemble them, they really used their own creativity to come up with some of the best (and funniest) looking snowmen I’ve seen - check ‘em out. Then, they got to devour their little creations.

The second craft actually came completely from my pregnant brain (I even impressed myself). Since Christmas was soon to follow, I thought making a snowflake ornament would be a fun project that most of the kids would be able to admire on their tree the following month. I put together bags with the following art supplies: popsicle sticks, pom poms, ribbon, and snowflake felt stickers. The kids then assembled them using Tacky Glue (this glue works much better than regular Elmers or glue sticks). 

And finally, I created a “Snowball Toss with Olaf” game. I had some leftover plywood (from the fabric-backed bookshelf I made) and used that to paint a huge Olaf. My original plan was to do Marshmallow instead - you know, the mean snowman Elsa created at the North Mountain - but he’s kind of scary and not so much fun for 3 year olds. I cut out the large circle for the balls to pass through and secured the board on a stand made from scrap wood. I bought a bag of styrofoam balls to be used as the snowballs - they were light weight, looked like snow, and I figured could always be recycled into a future project. We let this game kind of be a free-for-all and let the kids play with it as they saw fit. It turned out to be quite popular - after all, what three year old doesn’t like to throw things?

Favors

This year we didn’t take on such a large project like the wood trains Justin built last year… but this year’s favor was still pretty time consuming as a lot of experimenting went into it. Frozen Glitter Slime!!!! I tried a bunch of different recipes I found online and even messed with some of those to find something I liked. My only regret is that it didn’t last as long as the one experiment I did using regular white Elmer’s glue (instead of the clear), but the clear glue gave me the effect I was looking for. Unfortunately some batches got stickier/runnier than others within a few weeks. All that’s needed to fix it and bring back it’s perfect consistency is a little Borax and water solution - see recipe for ratio

Anyways, I found the clear 8oz PET jars and lids at the best price from Nature’s Garden. I created my own circular Olaf 'labels', cut them out and used Mod Podge to glue them and coat them on the lids.

In addition to the Frozen Glitter Slime, I assembled little bags of Hershey’s Hugs and Kisses since Olaf loves hugs… and the kisses (Cookies 'n' Cream flavor) came in the perfect blue wrapping. I also created the Thank You tags which I tied onto each baggie.

Food & Drink

At the party we served lunch which allowed us to tie the theme right into the menu - this is where I used Pinterest for some of the menu item names. For the kids’ sandwiches, I used a snowflake cookie cutter (kept it simple for the kids with a choice of cheese or peanut butter & jelly). You can also view the recipes for the Frozen Waters Punch aka "Tiffany Punch" (please excuse the photoshopped picture below, I forgot to snap a photo with punch in it - also, instead of a 1:1 ratio, I used less lemonade to keep it bluer) and the Troll Stones, which were Lentil ‘Meat’balls served in a mushroom thyme gravy which everyone couldn’t get enough of. (Tasted like Thanksgiving - yum!). I also made water bottle labels to carry the theme through.

Dessert

Hello sugar overload!!! I might have gone a little crazy here. To start, I made a “smash cake” of sorts decorated with sugar snowflakes found on Amazon. I also made cupcakes which I find easier to serve to a large group than having to slice and plate cake. I also made Jello Jigglers for Kristoff’s Ice, chocolate dipped strawberries for Frozen Hearts, and chocolate dipped pretzel rods for the Frozen Wands. For the dipping chocolate, I used Candy Melts, available at Michaels, Jo-Ann, party stores and I believe even Walmart. They already come pre-colored - just pick your sprinkles to decorate. I found using the microwave to melt them was extremely easy. I suggest using a tall pint glass for melting the chocolate and dipping the pretzels. (A shallow bowl worked better for the strawberries.) After dipping the pretzels and decorating with sprinkles, just lay on wax paper. Once cooled, package them in sealed plastic bags until ready to serve. As for the strawberries, store them in the fridge.

Invite and Thank You

I kept the invite simple sticking with a snowflake theme. Simply printed it on white cardstock, and used colored cardstock on the back. For the Thank You card, I kept it even simpler (no colored card stock) and made it like a notecard without a fold.

And finally…

In addition to some of the store bought decorations I did buy, I drew an Olaf to put by our fireplace where we stacked the birthday gifts. Maybe my “fire” looks a little cheesy, but Myla loved it as well as the rest of her “frozens birthday”, as she said. And that’s all that really matters. Overall, I was so happy to see Myla enjoying her party and her friends… and so happy that Maddox decided to wait another few weeks before making his appearance. I got a little bit of time to rest after all that work. 

Later that evening... Queen Myla got her cake.

Choo-Choo Myla is Turning 2 (Part 4)

What an emotional past week it’s been and what an amazing outpouring of love I’ve received from family and friends. Although I was hesitant to publish last week’s journal post, I’m happy that I did. It’s opened the door for conversation and has helped me begin to heal. But most importantly, it’s helped me get back to my little pumpkin, Myla. And now while my little one naps, I have this blog to occupy my mind. I have been so excited to share this last post with you… so here it goes.

Decorations!!! 

In addition to the streamers, balloons, and shiny spirals hung around the house, we made a giant balloon “chandelier”. Since we have cathedral ceilings in our family room and foyer, I didn’t want helium balloons flying around as it would probably take awhile to get those things to come down. So we tied a bunch of balloons together (with a napkin ring), threw some line from the balcony railing above, over the fan and tied the balloons up in mid air. It was a great way to fill the large open space with some festive fun… and it’s something I’ll probably do again as it can work for any party theme. Although I think we could have used more balloons and maybe had a bunch of curled ribbon hanging down - but hey, this was a good start.

I also made a train themed “Happy Birthday” banner to match the invitations. I found a pack of card stock with 5 different shades of pink at Michaels. Here’s a helpful hint: If you enjoy making paper crafts, or even sewing and making your own patterns, there’s a really cool ruler that cuts down on your time measuring. It’s a “see-through dressmakers” ruler as seen below. Instead of marking a certain distance at two points and connecting the dots, you can easily line this ruler up along one of the lines (up to 2” wide) and draw a line. I have this ruler from my fashion design classes and I’ve found a million uses for it during all types of crafting. It’s definitely my go-to ruler.

For a fun little centerpiece, I created a Peppermint “Coal” Train. I bought the white mini loaf pans at Michaels and added some pink “wheels”, cut a track from the pink card stock, used a wooden train (made by Justin… more on that later), and made “coal” candy. I used the recipe from Martha Stewart which was super easy - but here you can find it with pictures I took and a few helpful hints if you've never made candy before. This “coal” would be a great Christmas treat too!

Another idea for the train would be to add a pretzel “log” car, animal (cracker) car, etc.

Favors!!!

As I just mentioned, Justin made a bunch of wooden trains for the kids. I absolutely adore how he had to get in on the craftiness… and I’m pretty sure he one-up’ed me here - they came out amazing!!! We thought about having the kids paint them as an activity to do during the party… but the thought of 10 toddlers/kids with paint inside the house made me freak out a little bit. So we figured the kids can just play with them as is, or paint them when they get home. Instead, we opted for a coloring station with crayons and 6 different train-themed pictures to color. I had also planned on making a “Pin-the-Caboose on the Train” game and/or a “Create-a-Train” felt board as an additional activity… but alas, time got the best of me. 

In addition to the handmade trains, all the little engineers received an engineer cap, bandana, and train whistle. I had planned on painting and personalizing all the train whistles and adding a little flower to the caps for the girls, but again… there just isn’t enough time in the day. Perhaps I need to hire a party planning crew next year.

Cake (& Cookies)!!!

I had this vision of re-creating the train on the invite for the cake. And in grand “Tricia-planning” style, I winged it the day before the party, crossing my fingers, hoping it would all come together. In the past, I admit, I used boxed cake mix and frosting… but this time, I wanted to make everything from scratch. While researching train cakes in general, I came across a train cake pan from Williams-Sonoma which had a recipe for both cake and frosting. I figured if it held up well to a molded pan that it would work for what I had planned. I made the recipe 2 and half times. Twice to fill up a 9 x 13 pan, to make a layered cake, and the last half recipe was to make 4 regular size cupcakes and 24 mini cupcakes. The cake held up incredibly well - it didn’t rise and bubble up high in the middle and really kept it’s height after being stacked with frosting in-between. I didn’t even have to trim the tops to make it sit level. Excellent and DELICIOUS recipe!!!

After stacking the two 9 x 13 cakes, I cut around the smoke stack. Since I’m not well trained in cake making, I opted for a simpler design than the invite and left a straight smoke stack. I was worried about trying to frost it later. I had a bit of trouble frosting that area, but learned later that I should have filled a frosting bag and ran it up and down the side instead of trying to use just the frosting knife. Lesson learned! I used the 4 large cupcakes for the wheels and the mini cupcakes for the smoke. For the large cupcakes, I cut rings from the butter boxes and covered with a cupcake wrapper upside-down and placed them underneath so they ended up the same height as the train itself.

Because this cake was a unique size, I had Justin cut a piece of wood to place it on. To give the board some color, I wrapped it in pink wrapping paper and then used wide parchment paper to cover it. A hint of pink showed through the parchment to compliment the cake and cupcakes.

And finally… a few days prior to the party, my mother, Myla and I made butter cookie. It was a recipe from my Grandmother - making it a special activity for us all. We used a train cookie cutter to make over 100 cookies!!! We decorated them in pink, silver and white. And there was plenty to send everyone home with some. But have no fear if you ate some - We kept the cookies Myla made to the side as she had to sample and smash most of what she touched.

Choo-Choo Myla is Turning 2 (Part 2)

The birthday girl most certainly needs a special party hat. And what better than a train engineer hat for a train themed party? I looked into buying Myla a pink engineer hat and found some online. However, all the reviews I read talked about how flimsy they were and how they weren't made very well. I wanted to make sure her hat was going to last through all her rambunctious play. Therefore, I decided to make her one.

I've never attempted to make a hat like this before… or really anything that even resembled a hat but figured I'd give it a shot. I tried my best to document what I did so you can make one too for your little engineer if you so desire.

I started by measuring Myla's head circumference and added one inch to that measurement. I drew a circle on scrap fabric with that circumference. After some testing, I decided that drawing a larger circle 2.5" from the inside one would give me the right height for the hat once the pleats were in place. (See diagram below)

For the brim, I experimented three times with different curves and it turned out the one that worked seemed to match an invisible third circle if drawn another 2.5" from the original outside circle. (See diagram below)

And for the third and final piece, the band, it's simply the length of the circumference plus seam allowances and the width is double the width of the final band, plus seam allowances on both sides. (See diagram below)

Please note: Diagram is not to scale.

Here is the sample hat I created which I used for my pattern pieces.

I laid out the pattern on my fabric (pink striped seersucker), cut the pieces, and then sewed the brim fabric together. I made sure to cut the seam allowance down to 1/4" where I sewed the two pieces together before I flipped them inside out. I cut fusible interfacing for the main hat fabric and band (minus seam allowances). And, I cut a piece of the fuse-n-shape for the brim which is quite stiff but still soft. It's the same material I used for Myla's Garden Gnome Halloween Costume. After some tugging and adjusting the fabric over the fuse-n-shape, I ironed it for a permanent hold.

For the pleats, I took them in enough so once sewn, the circumference would match the inside circle which is Myla's head measurement plus 1". (See diagram above for direction of pleats.) After sewing the pleats in place at about 3/4" from the edge, I sewed the ends of the band together to form a circle and pinned it into place on the hat. I sewed that around at 1.25" (the final band width). Then, I flipped it into the inside of the hat and tucked the seam allowance under and pinned it into place. I hand stitched it so the stitch marks would not show on the outside of the hat. Then, I tucked the seam allowances in on the brim and pinned in place. I ran the edge through the sewing machine. Once that was finished, I pinned the brim in the place on the hat and hand stitched along the edge AND also took slightly wider stitches where the edge of the hat meets the brim so everything is secure and there are no lose edges to cause irritation. In retrospect, I probably should have made the band in two pieces so the brim edge would be completely hidden inside the seams. And perhaps I could have made the hat slightly bigger than she needed and added some elastic in the back too. Ah, all the things I think about after finishing a project.

Since I had to once again use the TV to get good (yet very serious looking) shots of Myla wearing her hat (at top of post)… I had to share these silly pictures of her too. When she's not mesmerized by the TV, she's trying to steal the camera.

As I've been crafting away this last week, I've got so many more fun train-themed surprises to share in the coming weeks… So check back next week!

Choo-Choo Myla is Turning 2 (Part 1)

Well, it's here… November - Myla's Birthday Month! I've been debating whether to share all her birthday crafts in one long journal post, or to split them up. Since the only thing on my mind is her birthday and I'm so excited about all the fun things I'll be making, I've decided to share bits and pieces over the next few weeks. 

Myla has many interests including Elmo, Spongebob, Cars, Trucks, Music, Dancing, Jumping, Climbing, Running (haha)… Oh yes, and Trains. She loves to run around pumping her fist shouting "Choo-Choooooo". Trains, the perfect theme for her and all her little friends. After all, a 2nd Birthday is not like a 1st Birthday (which is more about the parents celebrating the fact that they made it this far). The 2nd Birthday is all about the Birthday Girl celebrating with her best buds. Amazing how that changes in just a single year. Therefore, we're going to have a party for the smallest train engineers around (while the adults take a backseat... or would it be "a ride in the caboose?").

To begin the party planning, I made her invitations. I had really wanted to do a paper cut-out type invite like the owl I did for her First Birthday. Then reality slapped me upside the head. There's no way I have the same amount of time as I did last year as she's much more on the move. Therefore, I figured I could design something on the computer and print them out. I still wanted the invite to have the look of simple shapes as if the pieces were cut out of different papers. I also wanted to keep everything in the pink family. Who knows when Myla will declare her favorite color and what it might be (purple, green…. cadmium yellow or cobalt blue for the budding artist)… might as well get in as much pink as possible while I can. I was hoping to do pink envelopes as well, but when I realized that I would have to special order them for a ridiculous price - I settled on white. Overall, these invites still turned out pretty darn cute. Choo-choo!!!

Stay tuned for more train-themed birthday party activities, decor, food, and favors in the coming weeks.

Look Whoo's Turning One (errr, Two) (Part 2 of 2)

As I promised in last week's post, here are the last party items I created for Myla's First Birthday: Cake and Cupcakes!

I had to save these for their own post because who doesn't love Dessert?!?

I had so much fun creating cupcakes for my baby shower, that I wanted to make cupcakes for Myla's First Birthday - and I felt enough time had passed that I wouldn't remember how time consuming and tiring it was to actually make them. And, especially after creating the invitations and owl lanterns - round owl cupcakes seemed like the perfect match to the theme. I used a round biscuit cutter and pre-made pink fondant for the base. Then I overlapped the cuts with the biscuit cutter to create the wings to which I applied the sparkly fondant powder to add some dimension. I used small round cutters for the eyes and black fondant powder to create the pupils. And finally, I hand cut the beaks from chocolate fondant. Ta-da! Oh, and I stuffed these with icing as well - you just have to!

Lastly, every baby needs a smash cake. So why not a huge round owl smash cake? I found a ball cake mold made by Wilton. I did make a practice cake to see how much the cake would collapse down after the two halves were put together. I learned a bit from that and had better luck with my second cake. I used strawberry frosting to cover it and fondant for the wings, eyes, feather ears and party hat!

All the delicious goodies on display.  Yummers!!!

Look Whoo's Turning One (errr, Two) (Part 1 of 2)

Many of Myla's friends have just turned 2 or are about to. Myla has a little less than 4 months to go which is starting to get my brain spinning about party themes (and honestly making me freak out a little - how, oh how, did two years go by, let alone one!?!?) Last year for Myla's First Birthday I chose Owls for the theme… what else, right? I figured it might be the last time Myla would be OK with me going a little owl crazy and this time I could make them PINK! 

The first party item I made was her birthday hat. I originally made this hat for a group birthday party when Myla was about 9 months old (pictured below). I have 17 other mommy friends that I met in a Mother/Baby Talk group for new moms - we all had our babies within about 5 months of one another, Myla being one of the younger ones. Last August, we had a 1st birthday party for all 18 babies. As part of the party prep, each mother made their little one a party hat (I still can't believe how amazing they all turned out - it's awesome being surrounded by other creative moms). Anyways, I picked up some various scrapbooking paper, large google-y eyes, and feathers and got a little carried away. I can't tell if it looks more like an owl, or a headpiece for one of those show girls in Las Vegas. Ha! But I love it and I think Myla looked adorable regardless. This turned out to be the perfect launching pad to create Myla's First Birthday theme.

Second party item: Invitations! I used some more of that scrapbooking paper to create them (seriously, the prints and textures of these papers are so amazing, and make doing any paper craft that much more fun). I bought some square envelopes and made sure to create them so they would fit inside. I used a rubber stamp on the back for all the party "info" and hand wrote the rest. Although these are definitely not the most professional looking invitations - I think they came out super cute which sparked my idea for her cake (you'll have to wait until next week's post to see that).

Third party item: Decorations! I created Owl Lanterns to hang up around the house. Four large ones and a string of tiny ones. A fellow mommy friend of mine found this idea on Pinterest and used big lanterns to create fish for her little ones 1st birthday. After seeing those, I knew I could make owls out of them too. I used felt to create the wings, eyes and feather ears.

Check back next week to see the last party items: Cake and Cupcakes!!!