Sunday, October 29, 2017

Halloween 2017

My daughter wanted her favorite stuffed animals (Pinky and Fluffy) as jack-o-lanterns this year, so she drew them up and I carved them out:
PINKY and FLUFFY Jack-O-Lanterns

PINKY by Luca

FLUFFY by Luca

Almost done

My pumpkin eating a baby pumpkin:
Oh No!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Puppy Party and then some...

Late in posting...follow up to my "Pseudo Pinterest Fail" post earlier.

We don't have a dog anymore (my American Eskimo "baby", Matisse passed well before my child was born), but she is obsessed with dogs! Luca insisted on a "Puppy Party" for her summer birthday, so she asked everyone to bring their doggies (and they did!)

I didn't get great photos, but here are some snaps from one Pupperific Day! Wish I had good pics of the "spread" -- it was pretty awesome, catered by The Counter Burger Bar. Yum-Meeee!!!

CAKE: Boo Birthday Cake as seen in previous blogpost >>> Pseudo Pinterest Fail
MINI CUPCAKES: Someone snagged one before I could take a pic! Rats! Custom minis by Sprinkles Cupcakes! Mmmmm.....
PUPPY ADOPTION CENTER: Luca and I made this doghouse out of a cardboard box. We used the bottom of the box to finish the roof, we painted it, and we created the white picket fence out of flat sheets of cardboard (time consuming to map out and cut, but super cute!) The dogs are helium filled balloons with feet and they "walk" with you (adores!) 

HIDDEN TREATS: we hid the goodie bags inside the doghouse. As kids left, they each got to go inside an pick their bag and "adopt" their pet.

ADOPTION CERTIFICATES: It was so funny, a woman walking by in the park stopped by to adopt a pet (since we had  real dogs hanging out near the "Adoption Center".  I had to ask her to return the Certificate of Adoption. LOL.

STAR DOGS!  "Grumbles" and "Princess Pickles" from the Nickelodeon hit show "Mutt and Stuff" stopped by for a few awesome tricks. We love their mama/trainer Sarah Clifford from Animal Savvy > the most humane animal/critter trainer on the planet!

My cutie with the MUTT & STUFF's "Grumbles" and "Princess Pickles"

MAGIC: Good friend, The Dancing Scientist Dr. Jeff, stopped by and did some magic tricks for the kiddos!

ESCAPE ROOM: Although not "puppy" related, we had MOBILE ESCAPE ROOM LA come to the party so the kids (and parents) could try to solve clues and puzzles to escape the vintage style room! Wish I had better photos! Despite the giant bottle of wine pictured here (prop), no alcohol was served! LOL!

GOODIE BAGS: Although it doesn't look like much, it adds up quickly! In lieu of handing out candy, all the kiddos received a helium-filled life-size doggie balloon and a plush mama dog carrying a puppy along with a  Certificate of Adoption, a book "Love That Dog", a dog collar bracelet (required to enter the Escape Room), a bubble wand, and a doggie pad of paper with matching pencil and erase. Luca put a cute animal sticker on each bag.
DETAIL: Closeup of some of the Goodie Bag goodies.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Pseudo Pinterest Fail: Luca's "Boo" Birthday Cake

For my daughter's 9th Birthday "Puppy Party", she wanted this adorable "Boo Puppy" cake by "A Pocket Full of Sweetness" that she found on Pinterest.
INSPIRATION: Adorable Perfection!

Of course I immediately called my girl, Winter Walker (@WinterCakes) who makes the most delicious and BEAUTIFUL cakes, and asked if she could do a version of this Boo Cake, but she is unavailable this year (waaaa!) is in town visiting -- she can bake a mean cake...and I'm pretty artistic...maybe I could decorate it?

I ran to Michaels and bought pretty much everything I would need to decorate the cake (which would be fine if I were going to do this again...which I don't think I will...again...EVER!):

  • White Fondant for "Boo" and the Name Plate
  • Colored Fondant: Sweetshop has some pretty good colors for the cake decor: Pink, Lavender, and Blue; and Wilton has a "Natural Color Multipack" which includes Light Brown, Dark Brown, Dusty Pink and Black (all used for "Boo")
  • Name Plate and Letter Cutters (I wasn't going to attempt to write the name!)
  • Roller Pin
  • Cake Leveler
  • Fondant Tool Kit
  • Ribbon Cutter Kit
  • Edible Adhesive
  • Parchment Paper
  • Buttercream Icing (picked up at a chef/baking shop)

I watched a billion YouTube videos how to work with fondant in the days leading up to the big day...
     I think I can do this. 
     No, I can't....
     I am in way over my head! 

I start frantically calling bakeries for a "base cake" that I could work with....but it was too late....I was on my own (for the decorating at least).

Mom-in-law started baking the yummiest chocolate cake ever, while I started to sculpt Boo. Here are photos of the process:
Form the body, stick a tooth pick, let sit for 2 hours
Shape the head, snout, ears...I couldn't figure out how to keep
his head round...when I set him down, he would flatten a bit 
OMG! So cute! I added the eyes (dark brown, black and white fondant),
nose and tongue. He looks adorable! Feeling good at this point!

Added a big bow...a little complicated to make, but turned out cute! Proud mama.

Now....I wanted Boo to while I worked on the cake "shell",  I put Boo in the refrigerator to harden: BAD MOVE! Although he hardened initially, once removed from the refrigerator, he began to sweat and soften...and started to wilt :(  

I shoved a collection of toothpicks and bbq skewers inside him, determined to prop him up, but nothing worked. With the A/C blasting, he eventually dried out in his new found squashed look. I created a lavender pillow for him to place under his butt to help prop him helped a teeny bit.

When the cake was done and cooled off (I don't think it cooled off enough), I covered it in a layer of Buttercream (what I learned is called the "crumb layer"). Let it cool again, then another layer of Buttercream to create a smooth base.

I prepped a lot for the individual strips of pink and lavender to create the chevron pattern. What a pain in the #@$! I measured the height and outside diameter of the cake...divided into 6 equal panels, and laid out the entire chevron pattern on the parchment paper. I used the ribbon cutter to make equal strips. I got it to lay out perfectly. I was so happy. Then, I went to apply the strips to the cake. I had seen tutorials where the cake designer lifts the panels with the strips all at once to adhere to the cake. That didn't work. I had to lay the strips out one-by-one, applying the adhesive to each piece and getting it to stay. The problem is, the strips stretched each time I applied them to the cake, so by the time I got to the end, my last panel was too small. By this time, it was 2:00 AM (the day of the party), and I needed to finish the dang cake. So I created 3 vertical strips in the left over space. It looked fine.

I found a flower shaped cookie cutter in my kitchen drawer, so I used that to quickly make flowers. I rolled pink balls, and used a toothpick to create creases and dimension.

BUT...the chevron strips kept buckling. I have NO idea why or how to prevent it from happening...but at this point, I had to move on. 

I created the pillow for Boo, then assembled everything. Squishy, but still kind of cute. Not perfect...and for someone who strives to be a perfectionist....I was disappointed in the buckling and wilting. Especially since it took me around 15 hours to do! Ugh. 
My final cake...a little squishy and buckling, not as beautiful as the inspiration...but still kind of cute. 
Troubleshooting: I added vertical strips when chevron paneling failed. I ran out of
white fondant, so I made a lavender pillow for Boo to lay on to prop him up a bit.
(Indentations are where I shoved additional toothpicks for support)

The sides buckled, and Boo wilted....but everyone loved the cake anyway! I am still not sure how to avoid the problems I
encountered during the process...BUT... I am proud of my Pseudo Pinterest Fail for my first ever fondant cake decorating.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pig for Bluesy

I cannot believe I haven't posted in a year! Wow!

My design biz, DLZ | interiors, has been flourishing, which kept me beyond busy! On top of that, I am developing several children's shows with my production company, Hot Mamas Productions, and I was recently named COO for an incredible social enteprise based out of Uganda called Asante Mama (you can find us on Amazon!) All pretty amazing gigs!!!

My daughter, Luca (8), had bestie Bluesy (8) over for a sleepover last night, and when they woke up, they wanted to make a toy. We started with sock monkey kits from Restoration Hardware, and realized VERY quickly we didn't have the time nor the patience (nor the attention span) to make them (super complicated). Now we only had an hour to go before Bluesy's mom picks her we had to come up with a plan ASAP. Bluesy LOVES pigs, so we decided to make a pig with scraps of felt I had laying around. Bluesy cut the fabric, sewed much of it, and stuffed it. She wanted something soft for the tail and legs, I only had this checkered ribbon that passed the "softness test". Then we (and I use the term "we" lightly), sewed on the tail, legs, nose and ears, then glued on hearts and googly eyeballs and drew on the nostrils. We finished in the nick of time. I tried to snap some pics before we had to run Bluesy to her mom.

Here is cutie pie Iris the Pig, made on the fly:

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Baptism Gift for Calla

I knew my niece Calla's Baptism was coming up, yet I procrastinated....and by the time I found the custom gift I wanted to send her, it was too late (3-4 weeks turnaround, whereas I had 3-4 days). Since time was not on my side, I decided to try and do it by bonnielecat's gifts on Etsy, I gave it a go:
front of handmade plaque
1. I ran to Michaels and purchased a 6"x6" unfinished wood plaque. dark brown paint, chalk paint, and a beautiful, sparkly cross (I just love Michaels!)
2. Then I ordered cool, vintage-like typewriter letter stamps and a brown ink pad from Amazon Prime (I also love free 2-day shipping).
3. I painted the plaque dark brown, let it dry
4. I painted the front with the chalk paint, let it dry
5. I glued on the cross, let it dry
6. I practiced the stamping on paper, then stamped out the message "god bless calla". It was a little wimpy, so I carefully went over each letter twice...trying to perfectly align the letters....I did pretty well, I think.
7. I found some brown bumpers and a picture hanger in my supplies, so I attached those to the back
8. I found a nice border online, then used that to create a little sign with baptism details on back
9. I also had some old "All-Saints" tissue paper and twine, wrapped it up and it's ready to go!

Honestly, I would have rather ordered it from the artist bonnielecat's Etsy shop, because her gifts are way more beautiful (and I probably spent about the same amount of money). At least I had the joy of making the gift for Calla, and will get it to her closer to her Baptism (and now I have a really cool vintage style typewriter stamp kit!)
back of handmade plaque

packaged up and ready to ship out

I love my new vintage style stamp kit

Friday, May 13, 2016


Our school fair needs I decided to make these yummy treats: MONSTER RODS! Super cute, super fun, and super easy!

1. Using a "double boiler" method (glass bowl over pot of boiling water, reduce to low heat), stir CANDY MELTS until melted and smooth
2. Spoon melted candy into 8oz glass
3. Dip PRETZEL ROD in melted candy in glass, rolling and dragging until right consistency
4. Drag bag of rod along edge of glass to remove excess melted candy
5. Lay on baking tray (18 per tray)
6. Place CANDY EYES randomly
7. Put tray in refrigerator for 5-10 minutes to cool
8. Bend tray to loosen, and carefully snap rods from tray (without breaking rods)
9. Place in treat bags
10. ENJOY!
one set of Monster Rods
another set of Monster Rods
completed set of Monster Rods in treat bag

a batch of completed sets
I love the aftermath!

Monday, January 11, 2016

CAMP MOMMY: Dollhouse Remodel (Phase 1)

After posting pics of the redesigned interiors I did for my daughter's Pottery Barn Dollhouse, my friend Melissa found a vintage dollhouse at an antique store in a small town. She picked it up for me. I have had it for about 4 years, and could not find the time to work on it. Now that my daughter (Luca) is 7, I thought it would be a fun Winter Break project. Luca and I couldn't agree on paint colors; she wanted teal and pink and I wanted gray and black, so we compromised...and I LOVE it!

Remodel included:
  • Added siding
  • Added roofing materials
  • Added slatted shutters
  • Added flower boxes (to shorten the windows to fit the prefab shutters)
  • Added a cupola with a rooster weather vane
  • Added porch rail siding
  • Repaired outside corner trim
  • Painted everything
Here are photos of the completed Exterior Remodel (Phase 1) .... I hope to get to the Interior Remodel (Phase 2) over Summer Break:

The completed exterior remodel

Detail of cupola with rooster weather vane

Upper Level Detail

Porch Detail

Progress photos:
Luca painting the siding
Painting shingles and shutters
Arranging flowers with Fluffy

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Holiday Treats for Clients and Classmates

This venture started off in an attempt to place an order for chocolate covered strawberries and pretzel sticks for a client via a well known company. However, in addition to the cost of the goodies, the company charges $17 for delivery of the strawberries and another $15 to deliver the pretzel sticks, even though they are both going to the same place! I called said company, and asked if they could combine the delivery costs since they are originating in 1 place and terminating at 1 place. They refused. So, I canceled the order. Went to Michaels (Welton Candy Melts), Cost Plus World Market (trays, glasses, baggies, ribbon, cellophane), Ralphs (beautiful organic strawberries), and Smart & Final (Snyder's of Hanover Pretzel Rods)...then got to work.

I made 7 trays of goodies for clients, and personally delivered them. And made about 30 baggies of treats for my daughter's school (classmates, teachers, staff, supervisors, security, etc.)

It was a lot of work, but it was worth it for all the smiles :)

  • Chocolate covered pretzel rods with various colored candy melts (red, green, chocolate, white), some with crystal sugar, some with crushed candy cane bits. 
  • Chocolate covered organic strawberries with various colored candy melts (red, green, chocolate, white), some with crushed walnuts, some with crushed candy cane bits, and some with shards of fresh chocolate.
  • Chocolate covered Oreo cookies with with various colored candy melts (red, green, chocolate, white), some with crushed walnuts, some with crystal sugar, some with crushed candy cane bits.
Handmade goodies for my clients on gold chargers with gold-bottom wine glasses

White Chocolate Pretzel Rods with White, Red and Chocolate Strips (Left), Chocolate Pretzel Rods with Crushed Candy Cane Topping (Right) 
White Chocolate Pretzel Rods with White, Red, Green and Chocolate Strips (Left), and Chocolate Pretzel Rods with White, Red and Chocolate Strips (Right)
White Chocolate Pretzel Rods with Large Crystal Sugar (Left), and White Chocolate Pretzel Rods with White, Red and Chocolate Strips (Right)

Chocolate Dipped Oreo Cookies with Various Toppings: Crushed Candy Cane, Large Crystal Sugar, and Red and White Strips

Pretzel and Oreo Treats wrapped up, labeled and ready to distribute with Holiday Cards