Christmas Decor – Mistletoe Sign

This one just makes me smile! I painted this years ago… it was one of the first paintings I was really excited about. I’ve made cards with this mistletoe on it in past years. One simply said, “tonight.” I like that one. 🙂

Christmas Decor Mistletoe Sign | mamasbrush 

In this house, we do mistletoe.  Quirky Christmas sign with illustrated mistletoe.

This past year I digitized it, making it possible to do so many more things with it… and to make it BIG! In this design, I added the words, “In this house, we do mistletoe!” I can’t wait to find a place to put it when December rolls around!

It’s 50% off right now as part of my Christmas in July sale. Print it at home or have it printed and add it to your Christmas decor this year.

Christmas Decor Mistletoe Sign | mamasbrush 

In this house, we do mistletoe.  Quirky Christmas sign with illustrated mistletoe.  Christmas in July

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. 🙂

Pin it Button from mamasbrush
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

Whimsical Tree Artwork and borders for Family Tree Record Books

Whimsical Tree Artwork and borders for Family Tree Record Books

I sketched out this whimsical tree illustration last year, but never got to do anything with it. This year when my mom asked me to make a cover for the book she was putting together for her aunt’s family tree, I knew the two would come together nicely. I’m so pleased with how it turned out.

Whimsical Tree Artwork and borders for Family Tree Record Books

My mom has gotten into the whole ancestry.com thing in the last year. She has a lot of time when she can’t do much else than to research online and so it is a good fit for her. And she loves it. I love hearing about it, but the research of it all sounds tedious and awful to me. Maybe it’s the stage of life I’m in.

Whimsical Tree Artwork and borders for Family Tree Record Books

I barely had the energy this time of year to make it pretty for her. 🙂 And though I procrastinated like crazy (I don’t usually want to paint after a day of being outside), I did eventually get it done.

Whimsical Tree Artwork and borders for Family Tree Record Books

She’s putting together a binder of all the information she found about her aunt’s family. She is going to fill in these forms, but wanted them dressed up a bit. Her original request was for me to doodle something in the margin for her to color in. She really wanted to color it herself… I offered to paint it. While we were brainstorming, I asked if she wanted something for the cover.

Whimsical Tree Artwork and borders for Family Tree Record Books

That’s where this was born. I love the way the root tendrils frame not only the title, but also the “researched by” area. And the whimsy of it all just makes me smile.

Have you done any research on your family tree?

Pin it Button from mamasbrush
Artwork and borders for Family Tree Records

Gathering here.

Ladybug Birthday Party Theme

Chalkboard Art - Ladybug Birthday Party Theme
I try to use my chalkboard for each event I do (my sweet husband built it for me!)… It’s something I am still working on, but it’s a fun touch for our birthdays. 🙂

My youngest daughter loves ladybugs (she’s 7). I am glad for her sake that they always seem to be in the house. She get so excited, carries them around, and then, begrudgingly, lets them go free when it is time.

It wasn’t hard to pick a theme for her birthday. A ladybug birthday for my little ladybug!

Tea Party Lunch - Ladybug Birthday Party Theme

She wanted a tea party like her sister (and her brother for that matter), so we made lunch into a tea party complete with flower shaped pb&j. We had pink juice int he tea cups.

The children loved getting to make the paper flower and ladybugs on the table. (pinspiration here) It may not be as cute to us moms as the pin, but the kids had so much fun and the birthday girl loved that they made them for her.

Other foods were ladybug apples, ladybug bruschetta, and ladybug cheese and crackers.

I made the cake with red “dots” inside as a surprise. There are several ways to do them. I just made mini-muffin cupcakes and shaped them with a knife. They also make sphere pans for making them, but we couldn’t find one last minute.

Ladybug Cake - Ladybug Birthday Party Theme

I followed this tutorial for making the little frosting ladybugs. I did it all with frosting instead of edible pen, but it worked too.

Ladybugs on grass Hand lettered Psalm 150:6

And I made this for her also. (I told you in that post that I’d share this party, but never did. Sorry you had to wait so long! (UPDATED: a revised version of this painting is available in my Etsy shop!)

I try to illustrate and or paint something for the kids birthdays when I have the time and inspiration. She loves this one and put it in her school binder to see everyday. Makes my mama heart smile.

Pin it Button from mamasbrush
Ladybug Birthday Party Theme

Gathering here.

Carrots for Spring

Watercolor Carrots for Spring Decorating by mamasbrush
Watercolor carrots by mamasbrush

I’m super excited about these little cuties. I’m not sure I’ve ever called carrots “cute” before, but I love these. I love the color, the shading, the way they are suspended in air. Are they perfect? No. But they are fun. And that’s my only requirement for being happy with something I’ve created. 🙂

(As an aside: I never pursued my love of drawing when I was younger because I always though everything had to be perfect… what a game changer this new way of thinking is!)

I have plans to frame these little carrots and put them on my little shelves with other fun spring things. I love it so much that I want to make a smaller one for my tiered tray. Hopefully I’ll get pics to share with you when I do.

Oh, and a little teaser…

Watercolor Carrots for Spring Decor
Watercolor chickens by mamasbrush

This is something I’ve been working on for spring. I had hoped to have it done before March, but my life has gotten busy of late. I’m thinking printable egg trackers for chicken moms for sure. What would you like? What else could I create with these little guys to share with you my readers? Let me know in the comments and hopefully they will be out later this month!

Gathering here.

Birds of Paradise

Birds of Paradise in Watercolor and pen -- repeating pattern for fabric, wallpaper, or gift wrap
Birds of Paradise Repeating Pattern

Growing up, my grandparents had this enclosed back porch area that was huge. And in it was this huge (3×3 or more I’d say) Bird of Paradise plant. Now, I was little, so whether it was real or fake, I can’t tell you, but I remember the flowers and I grew up to love them! So when Spoonflower announced their Bohemian Design Challenge, I was pretty sure I would have to do Birds of Paradise (among other non-specific greenery).

Then I decided that illustrating and painting Birds of Paradise was going to be way too hard and wouldn’t turn out right, so I thought I’d fake it with herbs. Yep… very tropical, right?

When I mentioned my decision to my husband, he was pretty sure that was not Bohemian. But it’s green, I argued. They are plants too. Still I promised him I’d take another look at the “rules” before I started my Sunday afternoon painting. Ugh. In the midst of doing just that, I just knew I had to try the “impossible” Birds of Paradise. These challenges are about stretching myself after all. So gave it a try. And I’m actually pretty happy about the way they turned out.

If you’re a voter, you can find the challenge here until Tuesday, February 26th, 2019.

Gathering here.

Cacti in Mugs – Repeating Pattern

Cacti in Mugs - mamasbrush

I’ve created another repeating pattern for Spoonflower’s Design Challenge. The main reason I enjoy participating in these is because they push me to create something I wouldn’t otherwise create. This week’s theme is Desert Modernism, and while I’m not sure I’d call this modern, it is my take on their theme. I wouldn’t have chosen to paint cactus just for me and I certainly wouldn’t have thought to put them in mugs if I wasn’t painting them at all.

In the end, I’m a super pleased with how they’ve turned out. Voting is over here if you are into that. 🙂 (Voting now closed. I didn’t win… but it’s okay, I’m just in it to grow.)

What do you think?

Gathering here.