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inevitability is inevitable

And once again, what seems to happen cyclically around here has happened again.  Every time I get into a rush on secret projects that I cannot blog about, the blog itself falls into a standstill.  I get so focused on the major things… a sculptural piece I’m mailing out soon, baby gifts, the props for my upcoming show… and I forget that I can also share the small things that are just as important and fulfilling, if not as fun or tutorial-able.

Here, then, are some of those moments, from the last 6 weeks.

Photo 2016-03-07, 6 48 03 PM

Over March break the boys went to spend the week with my inlaws.  They learned how to play UNO and have been so hooked that even after being away from consoles for a week, this ^ was their first night back home.  Ignoring the systems, ignoring the tv, spending a quiet night after dinner rushing to get ‘just one more game in!’.  🙂time garden 01

I’ve been doing some coloring, mentioned a bit here and there on Instagram.  I’ve got big posts semi-worked up talking about markers and pencils and storage, but while all that’s been getting ready, I’ve been enjoying some quiet time of my own while the kids play or while watching tv and tackling some pages from one of my new favorite coloring books: The Time Garden by Daria Song (US link/Can link).  The wallpaper background on these two (and the subsequent 2 pages set in the same room) took about a week to complete, tucking into it here and there when my attention wasn’t needed elsewhere.  I used my Staedler Triplus Fineliners in Mauve and Gray in alternating rows, and the dots in between the flowers were colored in Silver Gray.  The dots within the flowers were colored with a metallic silver pen from the dollar store, and then I filled in the background itself with an old blue Bristol colored pencil I’ve probably had since I was 10.boys asleep

We went out for a nice family dinner for my father-in-law’s birthday, and it proved to be a long, late night for the boys.  We were driving home from the restaurant at about 9:30 at night when I peeked into the back seat and saw them, sound asleep, and cuddling.

time garden 02

Back to more coloring.  After the long spread of wallpaper I decided to tackle something equally as detailed, but with smaller sections that could feel completed as I worked on them.  I jumped ahead to the Ghiradelli/Pier 39 spreads in the book.  Wherever I’ve found repeating elements I’m working on them at the same time vs having to make notes on what colors I’ve used where, so I did the large sign on the above spread and then jumped immediately into the matching cable-car page that followed.  The crab sign is colored to match the real one, using various Triplus or Stabilo 88 fineliners and then a light shading of colored pencil, and then after coloring the sign and its supports I suggested the myriad lights with a metallic gold gel pen.patterns

The Yarn Harlot‘s Strung Along retreat happened this past weekend and I donated some patterns for their goodie bags.  Hopefully they liked them!  Photo 2016-04-09, 4 58 26 PM

Saturday had another cute moment for the kids, when I passed by the open door to the den and noticed them watching tv like this.  Go figure… they’re so close that even with a whole floor and mini futon and couch and easy chair, they still prefer to snuggle together no matter what they’re doing.  I can’t imagine they’ll be this close when they’re teenagers, but it sure makes me smile for now.sam wants food

Sunday night I was working on the props for my show, making lists of everything I still needed to take care of, and a plan of action, and casually nibbling on a piece of kernatzel (pepperoni stick).  Turns out my cat is addicted to them.  ADDICTED.  What looks like a cute little moment above WAS TAKEN OVER 2 HOURS.  Each one of those photos is 30 minutes apart AND HE NEVER LEFT MY SIDE THE ENTIRE TIME.  Sitting.  Staring.  Drooling.

Finally, a bit more coloring, this time from the cable car page.  I don’t have the materials yet for one set of props, and the others were glued and clamped and drying in the garage, so I made a fresh cup of coffee and put on a YouTube channel I like and settled down to color the ice cream adorning the cable car.ice cream worse

I got this far when Yannick came home, and I showed him my progress, especially proud of the shading on the center cones (all done with the two sets of aforementioned fineliners and colored pencils).  “The cones look great,” he said.  “The pop too.  But what’s the turd on the end?”

Hmph.ice cream betterWho says you can’t polish a turd?  (Actually, you can, and not just by recoloring an ice cream pop).  The markers and pencils play really nicely together and I was able to adjust the highlights so it looks more like a slightly melty Magnum bar.  I also finished up the chocolate and strawberry swirls in the center, as well as the neon sign.

Any more coloring will have to be put on hold, as tonight I buy the final items needed to finish the props, and then my next few nights will be spent making same.  I can’t complain, though- it’s for a really great cause.

Shut Up and Dance 2016

If you want to see some incredible dancers, some amazing singers, a hugely talented band… yummy food… oh- and me… then get your tickets now and come enjoy the show!


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Skylanders Cookies and Cake Topper

We’ve now run through Henri’s 1st cake (football jersey), his 2nd (The Wiggles Big Red Car), his 3rd (Diego, Dora & friends), and his 4th (Jake & the Neverland Pirates).  His 6th cake, the Minecraft plains biome, was already posted as well, which leaves one missing, for those of you who can count.  😉

Sadly, for Henri’s 5th birthday, I didn’t make a cake.  His party was at the now-defunct Fundomondo and they provided a cake with the party package, and nothing I tried managed to convince them to swap the cake for something else so I could bring my own.  I didn’t see the need for cake redundancy, so I made cookies instead that fit the theme for that year, and also brought my own cake topper.  That year’s theme was Skylanders Swap Force so we had…skylanderscookiesandfondanttopper square insta

The first thing I did was bake my standard vanilla/shortbread cookies and leave them to cool.  While they did their thing I drew up a sketch for the topper I wanted for the cake and traced its shape onto a slab of white fondant.

After the fondant had dried a few days I traced a mirror image of my sketch onto wax paper, using a toothpick and black icing gel.  Then I carefully pressed the wet gel onto the fondant slap and pressed lightly to transfer the outlines.  The process is the same I explained here.skylanders cookies and fondant topper 01

I let the gel dry a bit so it wouldn’t smear when I sat down to work with it.  When it finally got no more than tacky I painted the topper with icing I’d tinted with gel colors, then set it aside to dry until the party.

Here it is on the generic cake they provided:skylanders cookies and fondant topper 02

I used the same process to painstakingly transfer outlines of the 8 different Skylanders elements onto 4 dozen cookies.  Sometimes I had enough gel left on my little squares of wax paper that I could use the same transfer twice, but most of the time I had to re-trace each element each time.skylanders cookies and fondant topper 03

I let the gel dry a while just as I had for the cake topper, then painted in each outline with tinted icing.

skylanders cookies and fondant topper 04

Once they’d dried another day or so I carefully outlined each one with a black edible ink marker.  The icing dried hard enough that I was able to stack them to bring them to the party without any cracking or indents.  Because they were so thick they were still fresh-tasting and tender even after being worked on for a few days.  (I ate a tech one.  Because Sprocket).

 

Henri’s other birthday cakes


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Diego and Dora Cake

When Henri turned 3 he was all about Diego & Dora.  Okay actually he was all about Dora.  (I think he had a crush).  For the longest time you couldn’t get through a day in my house without being encouraged to ¡vamanos! or go ¡al rescate! or yell at Swiper to stop swiping- and the Map!  Oy.  Don’t get me started on the Map!

Anyhoo… there was nothing he wanted for his cake except something ‘Dora’-themed.

diego dora cake titled

So that’s what he got.  (Complete with really crappy old cell phone pics… weeeee!)

Looking at the pics now, 4 years later… I’ll admit I was really disappointed with some parts of this cake.  My own fault- I’d made the figures earlier in the week along with the basket for a hot air balloon, intending to write Henri’s name on a banner hanging from it, and set that aside to dry with the figures.  Only later on did I bake the cake, and begin decorating while the figures were still set aside.

My plan was to make the cake look like a hill with a little waterfall running down… all so I could use my bright idea of Goldfish crackers as goldfish.  I figured I’d stand the characters naturally around, like they were enjoying a day in the rainforest after landing from a fun ride.

The cake was iced with grass and water areas, and I put the chocolate rocks around the base and crushed up graham crackers as sand.  Finally, the night before the party, I got the figures and basket up from the basement where they’d been drying near the dehumidifier… and instantly realized they were too big.  Like, WAY too big.

diego dora cake 02

In fact the only place on the cake that had room to set down the hot air balloon basket was directly on the top of the waterfall.   diego dora cake 03

Even Dora and Diego would know that’s a muy not safe landing spot.  😦

But, it was too late to do anything about it.  Now I know the importance of scale and measuring my work, and haven’t had an incident like this again.diego dora cake character collage

Closeups of Diego & Boots, Dora (wearing Backpack), and Baby Jaguar, along with the Goldfish in the water.  For the water I’d put down white icing first and let it set a bit, then overlaid it with blue icing and deliberately chopped them together in places, breaking the crust on the white icing, much like I did for the hot tub water in the Betty Boop cake.  If I were redoing the cake I’d also take more time to make the characters look more screen-accurate, specifically in their faces, and most specifically for Dora’s face.  I remember having the hardest time mixing the correct colors and had no tools beyond toothpicks at the time, so the figure modelling isn’t my best work, though the kids didn’t seem to mind much.diego dora cake 01

To make the hot air balloon I used a regular balloon attached to one of those rigid sticks with a balloon holder on top, like you get at carnivals and fairs.  I always save stuff like that in case it comes in handy, and for this it did, as I’d had no idea how I’d rig up a balloon before I thought of it.  I hung a loop of yarn around the balloon, tacked down in spots with dabs of clear nailpolish, and into the ‘basket’ part I pressed 4 paperclips, leaving only a loop off each end sticking out.  I tied the dangling yarn to the paperclip loops and voila- a hot air balloon.

diego dora cake 04

And when it came down to it?  All the kids cared about was that they could eat it.  And it was good.  🙂

Henri’s other birthday cakes so far


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The Wiggles cake

Continuing to add Henri’s backdated birthday cakes as we count down to this year’s party, here’s the cake I made for his 2nd birthday, which had a The Wiggles theme.

I’ve posted about the party before, but sorta glossed over the cake, so here are some more details.

the wiggles big red car cake

The first thing I did was to cut out a LOT of man-shaped cookies.  Each invitee was going to receive their own set of Wiggles characters in their lootbags, and I needed to have extra for the cake, and in case of breakage.  Once the cookies had baked and cooled I tinted up some homemade royal icing and got to work.the wiggles cookies

A little while later I had these guys.  (The black icing marker details were added a few days later, to make sure the icing had dried enough).

the wiggles cookie lootbags

Once thoroughly dry, the cookies were packaged up and attached to assorted coloring books to be given out after the party.

Then I was on to the cake.  I had rented a Wilton 3D Cruiser cake pan from our local cake supply store.  I baked the car-shaped cake out of chocolate cake mix, and for the base I baked a 9 x 13 sheet cake out of vanilla cake mix, as I wasn’t sure the car cake pan itself wouldn’t be enough to feed everyone.  It took 1.75 boxes of cake mix, but it’s an odd shape, so I couldn’t guarantee it would be cut in a way that would give enough slices.  It took me about 3-4 hours to make my own buttercream icing, tint the colors I needed, crumb-coat and then decorate the cake.

the wiggles big red car cake 01

The cake as baked wasn’t a convertible, so I used a knife and carefully cut it into a more appropriate shape for what I was trying to duplicate.the wiggles big red car cake 02

I remember being panicked that I wouldn’t be able to ice the cake smoothly, which is why I’d ended up filling it all in with a star-tip in my piping bag.  the wiggles big red car cake 03

I copied the Big Red Car’s colors off a DVD case we had at home, and used leftover of the 4 main icing colors to cover the sides of the base cake.the wiggles big red car cake 05

The logo and the front windshield were the only two spots I dared attempt to smooth over.  After the basic shape was down, I piped the letters with a narrow round icing tip.the wiggles big red car cake 04

I waited until right before serving to add the 4 cookies I’d reserved, as I was afraid they would absorb moisture from the cake and crumble or break at the attachment points.  So I brought them to the party in a flat tupperware and stuck them in at dessert time.the wiggles big red car cake 06

I let Murray have a chance to drive. 🙂

the wiggles big red car cake 07

Henri’s other birthday cakes so far


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Henri’s Football Cake

Henri turned 7 last week.

I know, I don’t know where the time went either.

One minute he born, the next he’s this: Photo 2016-01-08, 7 11 31 AM

…this super-cool, chapter-book reading, rational-thinking, butt-shaking, quote-spewing funny, loving, sweet, creative, hysterical wise old soul.

His party is coming up and it got me thinking that I’ve never gotten around to posting all his cakes from prior years, so I’m going to amend that.  First up: his first birthday.

When Henri turned one Yannick suggested a football theme, as the Superbowl was coming up and his favorite team at the time, the Indianapolis Colts, were playing.  Using Yannick’s hat and jersey I set little Henri up for a photoshoot and got this pic:IMG_0248

Then, using the front and back of a Colts trading card for reference, I made up this invitation:Photo 2016-01-15, 2 36 58 PM

Love his stats 😀

The cake was only my second or third attempt at using fondant, so looking back on it now, I cringe, but at the time I was pretty proud.  I’d tinted white fondant to as close a match to Colts blue as I could and then cut a huge cake into roughly a jersey shape.  White fondant was used for the accents.  I remember being afraid to trim the edges and have cake show through underneath so I’d left them look ‘messy’, hoping it would appear like rumpled fabric.  Heh.Photo 2014-01-17, 6 57 19 PM

I shaped one of the cut out cake sections into a football which I covered with fondant I’d tinted brown.hfootball01

The smaller cake not only provided a place to put his name without messing up the look of the jersey, but it also was a perfect ‘smash’ cake to give him, so he could get his first taste of sugar and try to feed himself.

It was a hit 🙂

Henri’s other birthday cakes so far


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dyeing my hair – going from brown to PINK!

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, this is old news already, but it occurred to me yesterday that I’d never posted about it here.  Back in November, I dyed my hair… PINK!  (Ok, technically magenta, but it looks pink in most light).

Anyone who’s followed me for a loooong time might remember that I used to have long blonde hair, and when Henri was little I’d added a blue streak under one ear.

Photo 2013-01-28 1 41 45 PM

(Very few pics actually show it, this was the best I could find)

I’ve always missed having colored hair, and gaze longingly at all the purple, blue and other brightly (or pastel-y) colored tresses I see online.  Finally I decided to take the plunge again- I decided to dye the underneath of my hair blue.  Not the ends, ombre-style, but the underneath half of my hair, figuring that it would be cute but subtle, so I’d still look ‘professional’ enough for work or being a mom or whatever kind of grown up I’m supposed to be.

Then I told Yannick my plan.  Found him pics online… and he was not impressed.  He didn’t like the idea at all, and suggested dyeing my entire head.  “But… I don’t want to dye my whole head blue,” I protested, “It will fade to green and I don’t think that would suit me.”  “Then don’t go blue,” he said, “go red or pink or something.”  I decided to call his bluff and Googled crazy hair colors, opening up a ton of tabs to show him the ones I thought were pretty.

Surprisingly, we both liked magenta.  So… before I could change my mind and chicken out, I called my hairdresser the next morning and booked the appointment.

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This was my last pic with brown hair before leaving for the appointment.  When I got there I looked through the color samples book.colorswatches

I’d brought in a picture of the color I had in mind, and it looked closest to the color “orchid” above, however once there we decided to mix a little “magenta” in to brighten up the color a bit.  Now that I was actually there I decided to forgo any attempt at subtlety (I’d thought the orchid color might pass as brown in dim light) and just GO FOR IT! 😀step 1 blonde collage

The first step to any of the ‘crazy’ colors is to lighten, so for the first time in at least 4 years I got to see how I’d look as a blonde again.  (Not a fan, tbh).  You can see the variation in my hair color, that’s because my hair has had brown dye in it for the last 4 years, as I’ve been dyeing it darker than my natural color… whatever that is.  (I’ve never dyed my eyebrows, so I’m guessing something like that).step 2 pink collage

In the top left image you can see the samples we played around with.  Kristin, my stylist extraordinaire, had taken an extension in a similar color to my now-blonde hair and dyed it with the orchid, the magenta, and a mix of the two.  The color we both liked best was the mix, and so that is what we did.  I got my first glimpses of how my hair would look as the color sat on my scalp.  No turning back now!step 3 pink collage

And here’s the final result, the first 3 pics taken at the salon, and the 4th in my front hall as soon as I’d gotten home.  Verdict?  I F’ING LOVE IT!!!step 4 pink shades

One thing that amazes me is how different it looks in different lighting.  These aren’t the best pics to show it, but contrary to what it would appear in this post I don’t run around taking selfies of myself all day hahahahaha.  Sometimes it appears pink, other times an almost neon purple, and in dim lighting it can go raspberry.Photo 2015-11-25, 9 28 27 AM

I’ve since gone back to have the color touched up, because sadly these kinds of colors fade pretty quickly.  I’ve managed to keep it vibrant by following the tricks I’ve read up about – washing with cold water, minimal shampooing, using a cuticle sealant, avoiding heat styling… but because the roots didn’t have brown dye they remained more vibrant a purple color, and the ends faded to a kind of red-wine shade, so I went back to have the opposite colors put on each section so they would match better.  Eventually as my hair grows out and I trim off the previously-brown ends it will be easier to have a more even color everywhere.

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This is the result of the last color- even color from root to end.  In my bedroom it takes on this reddish hue, almost veering towards The Little Mermaid.  At Hebrew school pick up last week I was told it was almost glowing purple in the lights.  😀 It’s like mood hair!

The most surprising thing to me has been the reaction.  I’d thought my family would berate me for it but the reaction was overwhelmingly positive.  My kids love it.  Strangers stop me on the street with compliments.  I’ve had senior citizens pull me aside to tell me they love it and little children tug my arm to ask if I was a princess.  And me?  I feel like a superhero.
final brown to pink collage

Before                              ~                              After


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Welcome, 2016

Before I can properly say goodbye to 2015, let’s do a little visual recap the last few months.

Photo 2015-11-05, 3 48 29 PM

In November Jakob had 3 teeth extracted, his top two front teeth and an extra tooth (mesiodens) that was growing down from his palate, right behind them.Photo 2015-11-05, 4 21 21 PM

You can see here the missing front two teeth (one of his adult teeth had already started growing in) and the larger dark spot is the hole from where the extra tooth was.  Similar to when you have your wisdom teeth pulled, the extraction leaves a hole that closes up in time, only with this there were no stitches required.Photo 2015-11-05, 4 27 54 PM

Look at that thing!  The two baby teeth are on either side, and an area the size of those smaller teeth is what had grown out, of the extra one.  Aaaaaaall the rest of it was up in his palate, like his very own in-mouth unicorn horn.  We couldn’t believe it was so long!Photo 2015-11-06, 4 12 27 PM

My monkey-see/monkey-do kids really do behave like twins, even though they’re 19.5 months apart, and Henri managed to lose 2 teeth (one upper, one lower) in the same week that Jakob had his 3 pulled, so they looked like a pair of little bruisers.  🙂Photo 2015-11-14, 11 39 53 AM

If you follow my instagram you’ll have noticed a little cosmetic change I made, that will have its own post coming up- I dyed my hair pink!  The boys were jealous, so one weekend I used some hair chalk and gave them each a blue streak.Photo 2015-11-18, 10 13 15 AM

I worked on a bunch of crafts as the year drew to a close, and besides the annual teacher gifts and some cakes and things, I knit up a bunch of polar bears for a charity project organized by my cousin Robyn.Photo 2015-11-22, 1 02 35 PM

The bears were basically garter stitch with some mild shaping, and I knit really fast, and without looking, so as I had a bunch of doctor’s appointments in November, I agreed to knit up as many as I could, and then pass them along to be sewn and stuffed.  I think when it was all said and done I’d knit 10 bears- the 8 shown here and 2 others I’d already handed in.

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Henri must have been paying attention to Yannick’s morning routine… or television commercials… because one afternoon he came up to me with a Lego creation and told me it was a razor, so now he could shave like a grown up.  😀Photo 2015-12-13, 1 30 17 PM

Also in November we had a Hanukah gift exchange with my family.  Yannick drew my brother’s name, and decided to be creative and hide his gift inside a wooden log.  He cut a branch into pieces and drilled in a few holes and I made a little sign inspired by Ren & Stimpy…Photo 2015-12-13, 3 46 56 PM

By sheer coincidence when Mike held the log up so I could take a pic, it was perfectly placed to look like Yannick was suddenly in Groot costume LOLPhoto 2015-12-14, 5 03 58 PM

The boys only get access to our spare iPhone at doctor’s appointments or other public waiting areas, and it always makes me proud to see how well they get along, sharing and playing together with minimal fighting or frustration.  This pic was taken at the first of many visits we had in December, going back every 2 days as Jakob’s fever and cough just would not go away.Photo 2015-12-16, 4 19 39 PM

Finally he had an xray done, and after missing a week and a half of school and being up through most of the nights, we had an answer- he had pneumonia.  Luckily antibiotics did the trick and he was feeling better just in time for Christmas.Photo 2015-12-21, 6 41 27 PM

Much better.  And somehow also managed to become a teenager…?!Photo 2015-12-25, 8 46 19 AM

The boys were very excited Christmas morning to open their gifts, starting with their stockings.Photo 2015-12-26, 10 52 54 AM

Later on during the holidays I introduced them to some good classic movies (Phantom Tollbooth) and not-so good ones (The Phantom Menace).Photo 2015-12-26, 11 48 05 AM

Not staged at all, this truly is how my boys watch movies.  Or tv.  Or play video games.  One is almost always cuddling with the other.Photo 2015-12-27, 11 26 24 AM

Just before New Year’s we FINALLY got some snow… emphasis Henri’s, not mine.  (He was overheard telling my mom that this was the ‘worst Christmas of his entire life’ because of the lack of snow).

And now here we are, over a week into 2016 already.  The last few weeks have passed by in a blur, not because I’ve been so busy, but quite the opposite- I’ve done almost nothing.  Right before our annual New Year’s getaway with friends got sick.  Spent the entire ‘vacation’ in the hotel room in bed, nearly delirious with 102 fever and the chills and cough, only to get home and discover that I, too, had pneumonia.  It’s draining, to be sure, and is the reason why it’s already 9 days into the New Year and I feel like I haven’t been my usual crafty productive self.

One thing it has given me, however, is time.  I’ve been (re)learning a hobby I picked back up just before the holidays, doing more reading, catching up on my YouTube subscriptions and clearing room on my PVR, and doing a lot of thinking and planning.

One of the things I’d like to work on this year is this blog.  I have a huge backlog of tutorials and posts I want to share, so I will be working on ways to get that done.  I’ve noticed in my stats that my Minecraft posts are pretty popular, the cake-related ones especially.

If there are ever any questions or tutorial requests that you’ve got, Minecraft-related, cake-related, knitting… anything really, please comment or message me and let me know.  I’m trying to focus more on explaining how I make the things I do, vs simply showing the end results, but there may be steps I overlook, or techniques that I assume are common knowledge.  If ever there’s anything you want a hand with, please don’t hesitate to reach out!