{Celebrating with Cupcakes & Fondant}

Baby Agnes turned one in May.  Um, what?  Yes, I said it.  She’s one already.  We spent the whole year in shock that we had a girl and now we’ve moved onto the phase where we’re shocked that she’s one already.  There’s nothing like a growing child to show you just how quickly the time passes.  They are like living, breathing scrapbooks or time capsules.  You look at them today and your memory plays a movie in your head of the days that have passed.  Jeff and I spent the whole weekend singing “Happy Birthday” to her over and over.  Poor child.  We also kept saying things like, “Remember when she used to fit in our arms like this?” and “Remember when she just laid there on her playmat, not able to really do anything?”  Now she’s cruising the furniture like nobody’s business, climbing up on the couch using anything close by as a step stool (including dad’s face), and taking just one single step unassisted before hesitating and sitting back down.

Jeff and I took off from work on her actual birthday to spend the day with her.  Since the weather was crappy, we didn’t do much of anything besides get things ready for the next day’s party.  Luckily, the forecast for party day was perfectly cool & sunny.  I love the month of May.  We all enjoyed having birthday tea on the playroom floor using the new tea set we bought her, even Grandpa.
She likes to share and tries to very forcefully jam the spoon into your mouth.  Then she chucks the cups and saucers over her shoulder in a very Mad-Hatter way.  I originally wanted to do a rainbow theme or a Mad Hatter Tea Party them, so I almost bought her this top-hat by LilBirdsCouture on Etsy to wear for the big day.  
{$24} Pink Lemonade Vintage Inspired Birthday – Mini Top Hat Headband (or fascinator)
But, Jeff practically insisted on a May Flowers theme, and I agreed it was easier and more fitting for the time of the year.  I’ll re-explore the Mad Hatter theme for when she’s older and has real girlfriends to invite for tea.  
That night, Jeff made dinner and we celebrated with the Grandparents and some cupcakes.  I spent the rest of the night decorating more cupcakes with homemade chocolate icing that I made with Ghirardelli cocoa powder and a mini cake that I covered in fondant.  Screw making my own cake batter.   When people rave over them, I always tell them the batter is from the box.  I’m not one to take credit for something I didn’t do.  Mr. Hines and Mrs. Crocker are my friends and they do quite a fine job in this busy mother’s opinion.  Can I, and have I made my own?  Yes.  Maybe one day the negative stigma over boxed cake mixes will be a thing of the past.  What’s your take on it? 
Oh, and while at the store, I also picked up a box of this blue velvet cake mix just for the heck of it and mostly because it’s my favorite color. I don’t care when or how I use it, but I can’t wait.  Maybe some tri-colored cupcakes for the 4th of July or something like that.   
The little flowers on the chocolate cupcakes are made out of royal icing, which dries rock hard.  It’s the cement for bakers.  I made a big batch of these flowers a long time ago after my mom sent me a birthday package full of Wilton cake decorating supplies.  She used to be a cake decorator at a local arts & crafts store called Lee Wards.  Michaels bought them out.  I remember going in there as a kid and seeing her decorated cakes hanging up on the wall.  I was like, “How do heck do they stay up there?”  I didn’t realize they were fake.  Anyway, royal icing decorations keep in an airtight container FOR.EVER.  This is the third time I’ve used them and I still have a bunch left.  I recommend making a ton if you have the time, so you’ll always have a stash to make your cupcakes pop. 

People call me crazy when I do creative stuff like this, but this is my therapy.  This is my yoga.  This is my xanax.  This birthday cake for my daughter’s 1st was the first time I experimented with covering a cake with fondant.  The design was inspired by the Cake Boss and thanks to his TV show, I felt like a real pro.  “I’m not a professional cake decorator, but I learned how to be one while watching TV.”  I had a little extra help with this Cake Boss kit that I bought at Michaels.  I didn’t buy the pre-made fondant like the book suggests because I made my own a while ago (fondant keeps for a long time too), and used it to make the ears, eyes, eyebrows, and nose of a fox cake that I made for my sister’s birthday.  
I had a huge chunk of it leftover, so I brought it out and added my own Wilton gel colors to it to match the colors in my daughter’s birthday decorations.  
This stuff is like play-doh for adults.  So. Much. Fun!  It probably helped that I had a few drinks while making the cake.  I’m not a drinker so a little goes a long way with me.  As you’re rolling it out, you’re supposed to periodically lift the fondant sheet up and dust your table with more powdered sugar.  Well, I didn’t.  I blame it on the alcohol.  

It ended up sticking to the mat in a very big way so I had to scrape it off with a bench scraper and start over.  Oh well, lesson learned.  You’d think all the cookie dough I’ve rolled out would have taught me that lesson, but no.  I like to learn things the hard way.  Over and over.  Ironically, I also blame my calmness about the above on the alcohol.  I should drink more often.  I really should.    

I displayed the cake on a boring clear glass cake stand.  I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect vintage cake stand like this one sold by SwirlingOrange11 on Etsy:

{$295} Turquoise Blue Milk Glass Cake Stand, Opaque Blue Milk Glass Wedding Cake or Cupcake Pedestal

So far, I haven’t been able to find one at the price I’d like to pay.  When I finally find the one, though, I may just have to bite the bullet and pay a little extra. 
The cupcake stand is also a Wilton product.  I used a 50% off coupon at JoAnn Fabric so it cost me about $10.  It collapses so it stores nice and compact on a shelf in my basement.  The nice thing about it is that the tier surfaces are slanted outwards so the tops of your cupcakes are displayed, not the sides so much.  You can also attach ribbon, lace, or any other decorative trim to the sides to add another element of design to your cupcake display.  I haven’t done this, but if I ever do, I’ll probably use sticky scrapbooking tabs or something to hold the trim on instead of hot glueing it.        
For the party decor, I went to Party City and bought the standard party stuff.  Cups, plates, napkins, tissue paper hanging thingies, paper lanterns, and helium balloons.  I wanted to add a little personalized touch, so I printed out one picture from each month of Agnes’s life and hung them in chronological order.  I used a strand of pink & white baker’s twine and mini wooden clothes pins to hold each photo.  It was so hard to pick my favorite one, but the experience of going through all of those photos was a nice way to reminisce about the year. 
I saved the triangles of scrapbook paper that I cut out for her baptism decorations, seen above, and hung them in between each photo.  The big tissue paper pom poms can be made yourself, like I did here for Agnes’s baptism.  I used all the tissue paper that I got in baby shower gifts.  The pom poms for her birthday were store-bought because I was feeling lazy and wanted to focus my energy and time on her cake.  Call me cheap, call me frugal, call me a hoarder, but I save all of it.  I flatten it out as best I can and store it in my basement with the hundred and one gift bags I’ve received over the years for baby showers and birthdays.  You have to understand too, that I’m an environmentalist by profession.  I do care about not wasting resources, so when I can, I try to recycle things, especially paper.  When I need to use the tissue paper, I’ll iron it on a low setting if I need to and if I have the time.  Otherwise, it gets shoved into a gift bag, crinkles and all.   
Well, the party was a success, and everyone enjoyed the cupcakes and mini cake, especially Agnes.  I was able to really enjoy myself and the weather, thanks to everyone who helped that day.  Jeff manned the grill, and Grandma made the sides.  Everyone pitched in and helped clean up too, which is always so helpful.  Happy Birthday to our sweet, happy-go-lucky, baby girl who has put smiles on all of our faces since the day she was born.

Featured Artist…Mara May!

I’ll have to admit that I’m not an avid blogger, like my sister. Months will pass without a post on my poor neglected blog. However, I do love the opportunity to post when there’s really something great to write about. I was recently scanning my sold items in my Etsy shop, One Cozy Nest, and came across a vintage set of Crazy 8s cards with colorful circus-themed pictures and numbers.
When I visited the buyer’s Etsy shop, Mara May, I discovered that she had used one of the cards in a wonderfully whimsical party hat! I just love knowing that one of my vintage items passed through the creative hands of an Etsy artist. Just look at how adorable this thing is! See the cute little elephant card down towards the bottom? I just love all of the colors, textures, and little details Mara May put into this fun hat. You can see the hat, handmade scrapbooking kits & embellishments, and lots of other georgous goodies by Mara May right here in her shop. Enjoy, and happy crafting!