Something Sweet – Chocolate Frosted Cupcake in Watercolor

Chocolate Frosted Cupcake in Watercolor

This week I spent some time painting sweet things. Chocolate, to be specific. And all for my mom’s birthday.

Sometimes birthday presents don’t need to be wrapped. Don’t get me wrong, there should be some presents to unwrap! But they don’t ALL have to be, do they?

Chocolate Frosted Cupcake in Watercolor

I painted this one for my mom’s birthday this past weekend. Her bathroom is decorated in chocolate. That’s right. Chocolate. No, it’s not dirty fingerprints from over indulgent children. It’s been done on purpose. From a poster on the wall about it’s history, to candles shaped like truffles, and everything in between… chocolate!

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Chocolate Frosted Cupcake in Watercolor

I thought a chocolate frosted cupcake with a pink liner would match her bathroom perfectly! But it also matched her birthday theme… so instead of wrapping it, I set it out to decorate! 🙂 Double duty!

Gathering here.

Recommended Reading:

Cupcakes – Watercolor Illustration
Let’s Meet Over Coffee – God
Ice Cream Parlor Birthday with Artwork to Match

Take a Hike – How I Made a Sloped Birthday Cake

Turns out I had to come up with my own plan for this hiking theme cake. I searched and searched for ideas. I have some on my Hiking Party Board, but nothing was going to work with the time available and I didn’t need 30 people worth of cake. In addition to that, I made a camping theme cake several years ago for the same kid, so I wanted it to be different. (aka no tents)

Hiking Trail Cake -- Easy Hiking Theme Birthday on a Budget

As I mentioned earlier this week, the end of July we spent with our oldest daughter in the hospital, leaving very little time for preparing for this birthday. I made the cake (from a box mix) the night before, but I set the temperature wrong and it turned out dry. This set me behind. Usually I freeze the cakes before assembling and frosting them, but after our birthday breakfast we made a new cake (thankfully we had a back up box of cake mix!) and set it to cool on the counter.

First of all, I baked the cake with these even-bake strips from Wilton. They help the cake to rise more evenly. After lunch I was ready to begin frosting the cake. I leveled my cake layers like this (a great video about leveling and frosting cake layers.) I set the tops off to the side to be used later (I had to guard them well as there were several children floating around looking for scraps. )

Frosting the layers was little trickier since they weren’t frozen, but it worked. I did something different for me this time and used a piping bag to pipe the frosting between the layers. (Here is another great video about frosting cakes.) Piping it on helped greatly since the cake wasn’t frozen and was apt to fall apart as I spread. I’m still not great at all the techniques of cake decorating, but I’m having fun learning with each new birthday. 🙂

The Layers

[Ack! There are no pictures of the process. Time was short and I was working as fast as I could to get done in time for an early dinner and celebration. But I’ve drawn pictures for you… I hope they help!]

One of the cakes was falling apart on one side (whether this happened coming out of the pan or with the help of one of my smaller children is undecided). It worked out though, because I used that spot, after the second layer was on, to cut and shape a slope out of that layer down to toward the first layer(see diagram… these are not to scale!!).

Then I frosted only part of the top in a semi-circular way. Then I placed one of the cake tops (saved from before) on top of the frosting and trimmed away the cake that went over the side.

I then added frosting to that layer and repeated with the second cake top saved from before, but I offset it even further (see diagram… still not to scale!!). Then I trimmed away the rest of the cake top and handed out scraps to the hovering children.

This is what it looked like from the side when all the layers were ready.

I then applied the crumb coat and stuck it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to harden so that I could finish the decorations (and make more frosting.)

Hiking Trail Cake -- Easy Hiking Theme Birthday on a Budget

I frosted the whole thing with a light green buttercream frosting I made from scratch.

the Creek

On top of that I used blue cookie frosting we already had on hand. I don’t recommend this particular icing, though, because it took a long time to set and ended up sagging down the slope after the pictures were taken. I can already tell in this photo that it had begun. I picked a random place on the cake for the creek and worked a line across the cake and down to the cake plate. Then I just did that several more times to make it thicker . The lines of it melded together nicely.

Hiking Trail Cake -- Easy Hiking Theme Birthday on a Budget

The Path

I mixed in some white buttercream with chocolate frosting I had in the freezer, left over from another birthday, and it made for a nice “path” color. I piped that onto the cake, making sure to cross the creek, and ended it in a larger area at the top. The kids decided that the picnic tables would go there (the imaginary ones). 🙂 My oldest son figured out how to cut a pretzel so that we could use it for the bridge. Good luck with that, mine kept breaking! 🙂

How I made a Sloped Cake for a Hiking Themed Birthday

The trees

For the trees on the cake I used left over Cupcake Icing we had from another birthday and used the star tip that came with it. I don’t know what color it was because I used the last of it and threw it away, but it was super handy for a quick decorating job. You could do the same thing, though, by making your own frosting and using a star tip. It worked a lot like “spray cheese.” I made both the trees on top of the cake and the ones on the tall side of the cake. Then I put “bushes” around the cake on both sides of the creek until I ran out. The trunks on the back trees are the chocolate frosting I had kept back before adding the buttercream to make the lighter brown for the path.

How I made a Sloped Cake for a Hiking Themed Birthday

A few hints on tree placement:

1. I put several “trees/bushes” close together at the start of the creek to give the illusion that it started there in a hidden spring under the trees.
2. I put a tree in the crook of the path to give a reason for the sharp bend in the path.
3. I put several trees at the top around the “eating area” of “path” frosting to mimic a shady picnic area.

Do you have an event coming up that could use a sloped mountain or hiking cake?? Pin it for later. 🙂

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How I made a Sloped Cake for a Hiking Themed Birthday

Gathering here.

Recommended Reading:

Easy Hiking Birthday Theme on a Budget
Mountain Rice Krispies Treats
Birch Log Pretzels
Get Away to the Mountains Simple Watercolor Painting

Easy Wafer Cookie Pencils for Back to Homeschool

Easy Wafer Cookie Pencils for Back to Homeschool

These adorable Easy Wafer Cookie Pencils for Back to Homeschool were super easy to make and so fun for the kids on our first day of school!

With the the approach of the 4th of July and all the other summery goodness, comes the start up of a new homeschool year for us. But who has time to spend blogging in real time? What? People DO blog in June? I don’t know how you all do it. I actually did post 3 times in June and I’m pretty sure other more important things didn’t happen because of it. June is just crazy for our family!

Easy Wafer Cookie Pencils for Back to Homeschool

That’s right, we start school July 1st around here. (Pop over here to find out why.)

Easy Wafer Cookie Pencils for Back to Homeschool

I saw the idea originally on Pinterest here, but you can find her amazing tutorial directly, by clicking this link.

As per usual, I didn’t click over to read the directions until after I’d done my own thing. That means I used different means to a similar end. 🙂

Instead of melting candies, I mixed up some powdered sugar and milk to make a simple frosting. I started with the white and dipped all the pencil tips. I then added the chocolate chip (mini chips would work better as Keri suggests, but I worked with what I had.) I put the sheet pan in fridge to set up after this.

A while later (30 minutes to an hour?) I added some powdered sugar and milk to the left over white frosting and then a bit of red food coloring. I had to go back and forth a bit on the amounts until I got the consistency I wanted, and even then it could have been thicker if I had been more patient.

I dipped the “eraser” side of the wafer into the pink and set them to dry on the lined cookie sheet.

Easy Wafer Cookie Pencils for Back to Homeschool

Then back into the fridge they went.

In the end I could have trimmed the run off of the pink frosting like I did for the white, but I figured the kids wouldn’t mind the extra frosting. 🙂 They turned out so cute and the kids love this little tradition we do for the first day of school (two years in a row establishes tradition around here. Good thing it’s easy.)

Easy Wafer Cookie Pencils for Back to Homeschool

To be honest, I had a dozen other ideas I wanted to do for the first day of school, but it’s a busy time and this is the only one I actually carved out time for. You can find all my fun back to homeschool ideas on my Back to Homeschool Board. I hope you will find some to make your first day of school special… whether you homeschool or not! 🙂

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Easy Wafer Cookie Pencils for Back to Homeschool

Gathering here.

How to make an Easy Kitty Cat Cake from a Box Mix and Standard Pans

How to make an Easy Kitty Cat Cake from a Box Mix and Standard Pans

**UPDATE: You can find my new
Kitty Cat Party Pack
on my Etsy shop here!**

I know, I usually share my artsy stuff here, but really it’s my creative space. Where I can collect all the creative things I do into one place, for reference and for sharing. And I find that I can work in all sorts of mediums. Confections are a super fun one if you ask me. Bake the cake (or the cookies) and then use frosting to make them pretty! 🙂

This weekend we celebrated our youngest girl’s 7th birthday and she is loving cats these days. For months now we’ve known we’d be having a cat themed birthday. On Saturday we did the big part of her celebration, complete with Kitty Cat Cake. 🙂 I found my Pinspiration from Perfect Parties, but I didn’t think to read their instructions. They “torted” their layers (I learned what that means in their post) and included a strawberry filling. Check them out for some great ideas on a slightly more sophisticated cake.

Otherwise, read on to see how I did it super simple with a box mix and 2 nine inch cake pans. (Everyone said it was really good!)

How to make an Easy Kitty Cat Cake from a Box Mix and Standard Pans

I started with a yellow cake mix, but pink or white or marble or rainbow or whatever would be fine. You could even use brownies if you wanted to. We tried to make pink box mix cake, but it went flat, so I made a second with another box I had on hand. Follow box directions for prep, baking, cooling etc.

When they were cool, I used a bowl (Corelle cereal bowl for size reference) place on one of the cakes (at the edge, not in the middle) and cut around it with a steak knife. Then I cut two small triangles from the left overs for ears and used the rest of the edge for the tail. I did cut some off until it was the size I liked.

I didn’t cut the domes off to make the cats flat. I liked the rounded face and body, plus it was less “waste” (not that scraps of cake are ever wasted around here with myself and 6 children in the house.) But you could.

How to make an Easy Kitty Cat Cake from a Box Mix and Standard Pans

For frosting, I mixed up a recipe of American Buttercream (but your frosting of choice would work just as well I’m sure) and dollopped a bunch on each part and started spreading. It wasn’t a supper neat job, but I cleaned it up after. It was probably the trickiest part, but just keep at it, gently applying and spreading it over all the surfaces until it’s all covered (More is better for avoiding crumbs if you aren’t doing a crumb coat. It can always be scrapped off if it’s too thick.)

I added red food coloring to the rest of the frosting to make the pink and added the rest of the details. (I had green frosting in the freezer for the leaves, but you could separate your left overs to make some pink and some green.) You could do almost anything here, or leave it plain. I was supposed to make it a pink kitty, but forgot to color the frosting before I spread it on, so the details I added in pink were a sort of redemption attempt. She loved it and said it was fine. The pink balls are oversized sugar pearls.

***A word about making cakes (or about anything else) for your children: it doesn’t have to be perfect. Mine rarely are. Birthday cakes (and birthdays in general) are about making your kid feel special, not about making them look perfect. I’ve made some flops in my day (this year even), but kids have great imaginations (sometimes I tell them what it’s supposed to be and they get just as excited). Give it a try… you’ll get better every time. Anything extra you do is huge for them. And my kids are always more excited about something “mama made”. :)***

Gathering here.

Cupcakes – Watercolor Illustration

Cupcakes Watercolor Illustration

This illustration is more on the “sweet” side than the cafe side.  But who doesn’t like something sweet with their coffee?

Cupcakes Watercolor Illustration

It’s not the color scheme of the first set I tried to make.  I am pretty happy with the way these turned out, but I do like other colors better.  I’m sure that means I’ll be attempting cupcakes again in the future, but, for now, I am tied to a certain color scheme by the fabric (the one in these images and one other) that will be part of the centerpieces at the retreat.

Cupcakes Watercolor Illustration

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