Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Coming up in July...

The snowflake lantern - one of the many variations on the party favour bag...

Oh dear, please don't read my "coming up in June" post from a month ago.  It just shows that I got horribly side-tracked by my daughter's birthday party and all things pink and didn't get around to most of my promised posts.  So this month I shall be a tad more realistic...

So here is some of what LM has planned for in July:

Making the coffee for the Tiramisu

* The Tiramisu How-to
* The 5c Party Favour bag tutorial
* Wine glass lantern tutorial

... and whatever else takes my fancy in between.

And, to one lucky reader I will be giving a fabulous collection of Swiss Kitchen gadgets to celebrate my 20th post, Swiss National Day (August 1st) and to share some well-designed Swiss Kitchen gadgetry love.  I might even throw in a few bars of my favourite Swiss chocolate.

Lady Muck xx

PS - thanks for all the lovely comments in my June posts. x

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Hello Kitty Cake How-to...

Now the party's all over and the lounge has been de-pinkified, it's time to get on to some of those how-to's I promised. 

So here's how I constructed and decorated Miss S's Hello Kitty cake.  This idea would work for almost any character or motif.  You could replace Hello Kitty with something as simple as a butterfly or heart, or another fictional character that your child loves - the construction and icing techniques will be the same.

You will need:

* 2 rectangular white layer cakes measuring about 35 x 26cm and about 4 cm thick.  (Click here for the recipe I used, this recipe makes one layer cake.  I baked mine in a Teflon roasting dish which also gave me some nice rounded edges.)
* Sharp, non serrated knife
* An image of your character or motif that you can enlarge
* Computer and photocopier (to print and enlarge your image)
* Large cardboard cereal box
* Cake serving board large enough for the finished cake
* 4-5 cups of good buttercream frosting, stiff enough for piping (for the recipe I used click here - it was delicious)
* Piping bag, coupler and star tip (like a Wilton #16)
* Food colouring
* Palette knife (off-set spatula)
* Thinnish liquorice straps
* 6 toothpicks
* Wilton Decorating Gel in black and yellow

Just out of the oven, cooling and awaiting it's mission...

When your base layer cake is cool, place it on the platter or board you will be serving it on.  Put it aside.

Checking to see if the size is right...

To cut the shape out of the top layer, place layer on cling film, and then on a cutting board.  Blow up your image so that it fits on the cake.  I used this image and blew it up by 160%.
Stick your Hello Kitty face to the cereal box and cut around it.  You will need to cut off the whiskers that stick out from her face. 

Place the template on top of the cake.  Using a sharp knife cut around your template slowly with the knife pointed right down perpendicular to the cutting board to ensure straight sides.  
Transfer the top layer to the base using the cutting board and slide it off using the clingfilm.  This is probably the trickiest part (which may be why I didn't remember to take any photos of it - sorry!).
Slide the cling film out from between the two layers.

Crumb coated cake

Crumb coat your entire cake with buttercream using a palette knife.  A crumb coat is a thin application of icing that seals in the crumbs so they don't come loose when you apply the "top coat".  It also helps the top coat to stick.  This is also the time to use a little icing to repair any spots where the cake has come apart a bit.

Begin the piping on the bottom-side of the face where the two layers meet.  If you haven't done any piping before, try practicing on some baking (parchment) paper until you get the hang of it, or check out any of the helpful tutorials on YouTube on the subject.

Inexplicably this shot is in black and white... :)

Keep filling in the face as shown.  To reserve a spot for the bow, cut it out of your template and place it on the cake as shown.

Begin piping the pink base as shown.  Make the piping stars on your first round bigger than you made on the face to give you a bolder frame (by the "first round" I mean the round pictured above).

Fill in the pink base and peel off the bow.

Fill in the bow with your chosen colour.

Add details to the bow with liqourice straps, using your template as a guide.

Use toothpicks to hold up the whiskers.

Create ovals for the nose and eyes out of liquorice straps and fill in with your Wilton gel pens.  

All finished.  Now all you have to do is add candles, and write on the board with your decorating gel if you want to.

Please let me know if you have any questions regarding this, I'm only too happy to help.  Oh, and here's Miss S's cake from last year...

 This used a Wilton Ladybug/ Bumblebee tin and the same piping techniques as I used for the HK cake.  I made the candle holders out of Fimo :)

Update as at 24 June:  Miss S's Hello Kitty cake is now on  Click here to view it!

Recipe: Chocolate Crackles (Chocolate Bubble Cakes)

A party favourite from my childhood, these couldn't be easier to make:

Makes 12 large or 24 small

250g vegetable shortening (Crisco, Kremelta)
1 cup icing (confectioner's) sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups puffed rice cereal (or cornflakes if you like)

Heat the shortening in a medium saucepan on a low heat until just melted.  Sift icing sugar and cocoa together and add to saucepan along with the cereal.  Take off the heat and mix gently to combine.  Spoon into 12 cupcake cases and chill until firm.  Once firm you can store in an airtight container for a couple of days (unless your house is really hot, then maybe make them on the day and served straight from the fridge).

You could also use mini cupcake cases and make 24 small ones... very cute!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Hello Kitty Party...

Buttercream wouldn't melt...

Today was the day of the big party.  The big Hello Kitty party in all its pinkalicious glory.  Here are some highlights in pictures.

The day began with with filling some helium balloons to float about the ceiling...

Then it was time to set the table...

These were the "Party Starters".  They were an up-turned party hat in a paper cup, filled with popcorn and a party blower.

Cheese and Pineapple Hedgehog

Then there was the preparation of the party food.  Here are a couple of traditional Kiwi favourites which I remember from my birthday parties as a child...

Then just before the guests arrived, I tried to get a nice pic of Miss S in her party gears before she got covered in party food...



That's better.

Then the guests arrived and we did a craft together, followed by a game of musical cushions, and then the food...

Happy little munchers

Finally, after a game of pass the parcel, we got ready for the cake.  Miss S had been asking me to light the candles and let her cut it at 15 minute intervals all day, so I was glad when I could finally say yes!

And here it is, in its last moment of wholeness before it disappeared into our memories (and stomachs)...

Cut it!  Cut it!

Ever the optimist - I think she thought this would be her piece...

That's more like it...

Bye bye, Kitty!

Then after some more playtime, and the opening of the presents, it was hometime.  But our guests didn't leave empty handed...

Goody Bags (and here's how to make them)
And cake to go...

So here's wishing my my beautiful little Hello Kitty fan a wonderful 4th birthday!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Cake!!!

So it's a bit of a dark nighttime pic, but you get the idea.  The big party is tomorrow and now that the cake is finished I can breathe a sigh of relief - everything else is pretty much sorted.  I really hope the icing holds up overnight as I can't fit this baby in the fridge!

I ordered a Hello Kitty tin from a online shop over twelve days ago and it still hasn't turned up, so I took the bold step of doing what my mum did for every birthday cake my siblings and I had - constructing it out of made-from-scratch layer cakes.  I took some photos of the various stages of making the cake and I will do a post with some step-by-step pics sometime in the next week!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The No-sew Party Bunting...

Made in under an hour and for less than 1 franc (.90c US)!

I think the key to decorating for a kid's party with a theme like "Hello Kitty" is to have a few plain, non-branded decorations alongside all your branded stuff.  This also helps to keep the costs down (especially here in Switzerland where Hello Kitty tat is inordinately expensive!)

Adorning the fire place.  I love our 1960's Swiss fireplace!

Last night I finished Miss S's goody bags off, and as I sat there triumphant, my eyes happened upon a roll of paper tablecloth I had bought to cover the table on the day.  Then it dawned on me.... "bunting!"

Bunting is an old-fashioned decoration that has made a huge comeback for parties of every kind.  This season it is making appearances at the most stylish summer weddings, fĂȘtes, as well as kiddie's birthday parties. 

I had wanted to make some for the party, but hadn't had the time to sew the proper stuff.  I made some beautiful pink fabric bunting two years ago but can't remember for the life of me where I have put it.  Perhaps I gave it away...  Anyway, it matters not as then I whipped up this no-sew bunting in under an hour, using only half a metre of the 5 metres of paper table cloth I had.

And here's a how-to if you'd like to make some:

You will need (for a 3m metre length of bunting):

* A piece of fabric-feel paper table cloth about 50cm long and 120cm wide*
* 3m of paper gift wrap ribbon
* A large cereal box (to make the triangle template)
* Glue stick
* Scissors
* Ruler
* Pencil
* Sticky tack (Blutac), to hang

On one panel of your cereal box draw a rectangle 15cm wide and 20cm deep.

Measure 7.5cm (halfway) along the bottom edge of the rectangle and make a mark.  Now join this mark to the two top corners to form a triangle.  Cut this out.

Lay the triangle on the back side of the paper table cloth as pictured and trace around.  Cut out the triangles.  (14 of these triangles will make your 3m length, but cut as many or as little as you need).

Make a line of glue across the top of the triangles, (on the "right" side of the paper), and glue under the ribbon at 4cm intervals, being careful not to twist your ribbon.  (I did, so I just cut the ribbon, undid the twist and sticky-taped it back together again!)

Leave to dry for at least a few hours or overnight, just to make sure that it all holds together.

Hang to your wall using sticky tack.  If your paper table cloth came in a roll, you might find that your triangles curl up a bit.  If this is the case, just put a tiny piece of sticky tack under the bottom point and fasten to the wall.  


Update as at 23rd August '10.  It occurs to me (with my newfound obsession with oilcloth) that you could make this bunting using oilcloth instead of paper tablecloth.  It won't fray, it comes in some really fantastic prints and would also be great for if the bunting needs to be used outside where it could possibly get damp. I'll experiment and get back to you!  LM x

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No Regr-Etsy...

(Images borrowed from Enchanted Stamps Etsy store)

Well, that will teach Mr Muck for leaving me with two sick kids for eight rainy days.  I have cheered myself up with a little spendy-spend on Etsy and I don't feel bad about it one bit!

I found these gorgeous hand-carved stamps and just had to have one, then two, then, ahem... well, six to be precise.  Click on the link below to have a look:

Enchanting Stamps on Etsy

Can't wait for them to arrive!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sneaky peek: Miss S's Goody Bags

Hello Kitty!

Delayed gratification is not my forte.  Even though Miss S's party is still more than a week away I cannot help but share a pic of one of her goody bags.

Miss S went to a party on Saturday and returned home with the cutest goody bag made from a mini cereal box.  This inspired me and got me out of my goodie bag rut (I had been trying for weeks to make a goody bag from a piece of A4 paper that was large enough to fit my mini collage kits plus a few sweets).

And so after a bit of origami-esque experimentation, I am really pleased with what I came up with.  (Thanks to my friend Julie for the ribbon handle idea!)

These are made from one sheet of A4 paper or light card and are really easy to make as well as being extremely inexpensive.  I'll be posting a how-to in the next couple of days when I can find a photographer to help with the shots (Mr Muck is away).

Really looking forward to the party now!


Update:  My tutorial on how to make these bags is now up.  Click here to view it.
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