Saturday, June 26, 2010

Felt flowers

For 4th of July weekend, I am meeting my sister(Henna) and her family. We both have been so looking forward to this trip. Originally we were to meet at Pensacola Beach, but the BP oil spill forced us to change the plan at the last minute. It's so heartbreaking to see the pristine beaches of Gulf drenched in oil. Really very sad. We waited till the last minute for cancelling our bookings, hoping that Pensacola would be spared, but last week I woke up to the dreadful news that Pensacola beach was shut down because the it was drenched in oil. So we frantically started looking for another destination, and finalised on Hilton Head. Gulf, maybe next time, but what bothers me is when that next time would be, to see those beaches in its original pretty state... it could be months, years or decades..

So anyway, I plan to give my sis her wedding + 1st anniversary combined gift. I know very lousy of me to wait this long. Now that the gift has been ordered, I am excited on how to pack it. Looked at my stash of crafty stuff and decided on making a felt flower.

Stuff needed:
  • 2 felt sheets of different colors : I used the eco-fi felt from Hobby Lobby/Walmart
  • sewing needle and thread
  • wool/ribbon to wrap
  • sharp scissors
  • cardboard or paper for template

As my sis is all about pink( yes still), so I chose the only pink felt color I had. Not the baby pink which she would have preferred. Made a template from a cardboard for 3 sizes.

Now cut the felt in 3 different flower sizes using the above template. Now sew all 3 layers together. For the center, either put a real felt ball, or make one by stuffing a small piece of felt with shreds of felt, and sewing it into a round ball.

And the flower is ready. I decided to use it in 2 ways.. One, on the gift that I was wrapping for my sister, and other, attached it on the hairpin to make a clip:-)

Please excuse the crumpled look of brown paper. That was all I had at the time.

I made another identical flower in red, for my hairpin. Thats me and my sister with our felt flower hairpins.

Happy Crafting.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fondant Bow Cake

Two weeks back, Rohit and I celebrated our 5th Wedding Anniversary. I wanted to make a special cake for the small party we threw. I have always wanted to make a fondant cake, and so decided to give it a try. On this post, you will find links to many tutorials, as I had to learn most of the stuff involved in icing and decorating this cake. As there is so much stuff available on net, it can get overwhelming sometimes. So this post is my way of documenting everything I learnt along the way, with links to the tutorials I felt helped me the most.

Flavour of the Cake
Decided to make Devil's Chocolate cake as I had got rave reviews when I made it last time for Kabir's teachers at day-care, for Teachers' Appreciation week.

For icing, I chose crusting Buttercream Icing to get that smooth look. To make buttercream crust, it needs tons of sugar, so I don't specifically like it. I did not exactly put the amount of sugar that recipe called for, but enough to give it a somewhat smooth look, as I was anyway planning to cover my cake with fondant. I used the below recipe from Edna De La Cruz's, except, for the amount of sugar(original recipe called for 4 cups of sugar). Last time, I tried with 2 cups, and my icing did not crust. So I found that 3 is the minimum required for below amounts of butter & shortening.
  • 1/2 cup solid high ratio shortening(with trans fat). I used Walmart brand as Crisco has stopped using transfat in the shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 tablespoon of meringue powder
  • 1 teaspoon(or extract of choice)I used vanilla.
  • 3 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
First sift meringue powder with sugar. In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla and milk. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating on a slow speed. Add water 1 tsp at a time if icing gets too thick. This recipe yields 3 cups. Please see this link if you want to learn to ice the cake.


Step 1: Making of Bow
If you are planning to make some fondant/gum paste decorations for the cake, that should be the first step, as it takes time, sometimes days for these to dry. I made the bow out of fondant which takes the most time to dry. But I added 1 tsp of Gum-Tex to big blob of fondant to help it dry faster. My bow dried out completely overnight, which made me very happy.

Stuff you would need:

  • Fondant (I used Satin Ice fondant as it tastes so much better than other fondants available.)
  • Gum-Tex
  • Rolling Pin
  • Scale/Ruler
  • Sharp Knife or Pizza roller
  • Wax paper( As I did not have any wax paper handy, I used the one from an empty cereal box. Just turn it inside out, and you have a free wax paper).
I used this tutorial to make the bow.

Step 2: Getting the Cake ready
Make the desired cake in two 9 '' round pans. When the cake is ready and cooled off, remove from the pan and level the 2 cakes with sharp or serrated knife. Levelling is important as we are going to layer the cake.

Step 3: Crumb coat Icing
Now comes the Icing. Once the icing is ready, place the first layer of cake on cake board*. Apply thin layer of icing, cover it with other layer of cake. Now apply crumb coat of icing on top and on all sides. Then leave it on shelf for couple of hours(I did not refrigerate it). Crumb coat is nothing but a very thin layer of icing done before the actual icing. It helps stop the cake crumbs mixing in with final coat of icing. It is preferred to have a little thin version of above icing for crumb coat(couple of extra tbsp of water), but I used it as is.
* I made the cake board by cutting the side of a cardboard box in round shape(exactly the size of cake as I do not like my base showing from under the cake), and covering it with aluminium foil.

Step 4: Final coat of Icing
After couple of hours apply a thick layer(1/4'') of icing all over the cake and smooth it as much as possible. Let the icing crust for couple of minutes. You know the icing has crusted when you touch it and it does not stick to the finger. Now smooth the cake using paper towel technique and fondant smoother. I used a regular Bounty paper towel instead of Viva(which has no pattern) as I did not care for the pattern on paper towel. Gently press the paper towel with the fondant smoother on top and on sides. Leave it overnight out on shelf. Cover it lightly with paper towel as icing needs air to crust.

Step 5: Rolling the Fondant
Now comes the best part of covering it with fondant for that 'oh so smooth' look. Knead the fondant on a clean surface and add desired gel color with a toothpick, little at a time. Continue to knead until all the color is evenly mixed. Start rolling the fondant with rolling pin, till its 1/4'' thick. Keep using powdered sugar frequently to prevent fondant from sticking to the surface. The diameter of final rolled fondant should be the diameter of cake + length of both sides + some extra.

Step 6: Fondant on Cake
Spray little water on the cake to help fondant stick to it. Place the cake(along with cakeboard) on the turn table or some box to give it height. I used my shortening box. Slowly place the fondant on cake, and gently press it on all sides so it sticks with cake. Cut the extra from all sides using pizza roller or sharp knife. Smooth the fondant with fondant smoother. Here is a video for kneading and placing the fondant on cake: I omitted the piping gel and cooking spray from it.

Step 7: Fondant beads
To make the beads, you can buy Bead makers. But I did not want to spend money on something I wouldn't use very often. Rolling each bead with hand was not giving a bead of same size each time. So I took the biggest icing tip, and used the back of it to cut circles, and rolled these to make beads. This ensured all my beads were of same size.

Step 8: Finale
Place the bow or any decorations on cake now. Stuff like bows which are prepared in advance, need candy melt to stick to cake. Any fresh cutouts can be attached to cake with just water. The beads of fondant around the base of cake have been attached with little bit of water, as soon as I rolled it.

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Weekend Project: Hemp Lamp

This is my first post on my blog. And I hope I will be good at posting stuff on it regularly.

Well, this past weekend, I decided to make something to replace an ugly lamp we have in a corner of our home. Actually I was searching for something to buy, but then came across hemp/string lamps, and thought why not make one. On searching quite a bit, I came across one tutorial which was just perfect : http://www.craftynest.com/2009/03/hemp-pendant-lamps/

I had most of the stuff needed at home, except for hemp string and glue. One trip at Michaels and all was done. Used my son's bounce ball. I need to replace it soon, before he realizes its missing.

So anyway, on Sunday, when Kabir was taking his afternoon nap, I started on my project. Managed to finish wrapping the ball with string just in time. Had to leave the ball for drying for 48 hours, and it was not until yesterday that I was ready to deflate the ball. Oh, that was the best part. Seeing the hemp strings set in place while the ball deflated was cool. Pulled one of my old lamp fixtures to use it with this lamp, and its ready for installing.

Now, waiting for Rohit to hang it in the corner, I made it for.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Jungle Safari Birthday Party

It was during my son's first birthday party preparations, that my love for planning and throwing parties started. The theme for his 1st Birthday bash was : Jungle Safari

Scroll below to see the party details

Safari Birthday Invitation

Hats made from simple designs printed on regular paper, with kids name on it.

Safari themed Balloons from Shindigz

 Cake Table Layout.
The decorations included animal inflatables, Lion Pinata,  home baked Cookies, Banners, Monkey and Butterfly cut outs.

Elephant and Giraffe shaped sugar cookies. 

Safari themed  cake. All the animals on it were edible.
Small cupcake lion at the bottom was the smash cake for birthday boy. 

Safari Birthday banner made out of colorful cardstock paper.

 1st Birthday hat from Dimples and Dandelions

On each table, a runner made from gossamer(Zebra and Leopard prints from Shindigz) was placed. Also added a bow around some chairs using the same gossamer.

A pith helmet and personalised disposable camera as table centerpieces.

Photo banner with Kabir's pictures from each month of first year.

Party favor boxes.

Banners at the entrance

Chocolate Fountain

Personalised MnMs with : 'Kabir is 1'

Birthday Boy

Ready to cut the cake

Everyone including the birthday boy had a blast at the party. 

Happy 1st Birthday my little one!

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