Wednesday, July 30, 2014

DIY White Chocolate Butterfly Pattern

So remember me telling you in my Cake Mania post
how I decided not to itemize everything I made?
Weeelllll....I just couldn't help doing a special post on these white chocolate butterflies!Sorry if you are getting tired of seeing them.
I'm just a little excited about how they turned out!

You guys,
I want you to make these!
Believe me, these aren't hard, they look more intimidating than they really are.
You don't have to be an artist,
and when you are done they will look so impressive and you'll feel like a rock star!

I'm not even kidding.
I totally and unashamedly flashed these in the face of everyone who came into the kitchen,
like a cat with its dead mouse...only people didn't run away and scream.

The original link, with good instructional pictures can be found here.
 But let me brake it down for you:

White almond bark or chocolate
ziplock bag
parchment paper
glass measuring cup with pouring spout

What To Do

1. Trace your butterfly onto the back of a piece of parchment paper.
Fold the paper in half, creasing the butterfly right up the middle- this will help create the folded wing effect.
{At the bottom of this post, I have included some butterfly designs that I used for tracing.}

2. Melt your chocolate in the microwave, then pour it into your ziplock bag.
It is important that you let the chocolate cool so it doesn't come gushing out and make a runny design.
{Read this post about working with melted chocolate.}

3. Making sure your traced design is on the back of the parchment paper, snip a small corner section of your chocolate filled ziplock bag and begin tracing out your butterfly design.
Following the lines you traced, hold your piping end just above the parchment paper and let the chocolate
gently 'fall', rather than resting the tip directly on the paper.
It works better if you do the outline first, then do the lines and details inside the wing.

4. Once finished, place the butterfly between the open pages of a large book and cool in the fridge.


All that is left is to wait...then carefully slide your butterfly off the parchment paper,
put it on your cake, and dazzle your guests!

 Here are some butterfly designs to print out and trace.
I used the first two pictures for my designs, and both looked great!

Above picture courtesy of We Lived Happily Ever After, from the original chocolate butterfly post.


The above design would be great for beginners who are daunted by the detail in the other two designs.
The way you would work this butterfly is to trace around the entire outline, 
then fill everything else in with chocolate, leaving the holes in the wings blank. 
Results would be a more solid looking butterfly, not quite as delicate and breakable as the other two.

I hope this helps and inspires some of y'all!
Go forth, and let your creativity take flight!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Melted Chocolate Design Garnish:
Tips & Tricks from a Beginner

Today I want to share with you some tips I figured out 'the hard way' (no pun intended)
when creating design garnishes from melted chocolate.

1. Use almond bark
 I'm not sure how important this one really is, but I read that it hardens better than chocolate chips.
Not to mention you can buy it in large quantities and it is cheaper than the equivalent amount of chocolate.
You can use the traditional white almond bark
(and add food coloring for colored chocolate!) or the chocolate version.

2. Melt your chocolate in a measuring cup with a pouring spout.
This came in very handy. Melt your chocolate in a microwave safe measuring glass, and as soon as it is melted, pour it into your awaiting bag. At this stage it will be really runny, so it will pour easily.
You can use a pastry or icing bag, or- like I did- a regular old ziplock bag.

Here is the number one and most important thing I discovered...

3. Let your chocolate cool before you work with it!
This is the key to success with detailed designs like these chocolate butterflies.

As you can see, the butterfly on the left is crisp, delicate, clean and more detailed. 
While the butterfly on the right looks 'melted', with thick, chunky lines and indistinct details.
This is the difference sufficiently cooled chocolate makes!
Butterfly number two was made when the chocolate was still very warm. 
Even with a small hole cut into the corner of my bag, the chocolate came gushing out too fast to control, 
and instead of 'falling' to the parchment paper gently, it pooled. 
Stick your chocolate filled bag into the fridge for a while,
until it has cooled and reached a squishy, not liquid, consistency when you squeeze the bag.

I wouldn't recommend popping it into the freezer though- the dredges of chocolate that are stuck to the side of the bag will harden completely, while the bulk of the chocolate will still be runny.
This uneven cooling creates clumps and makes it harder to work with.

When your chocolate has reached the right consistency, as you begin to gently squeeze the bag,  
don't actually rest the tip on the surface of the parchment or wax paper, instead hold the piping tip a little above the surface and let the chocolate 'fall' onto the paper, like working with a small rope.

4. Interconnect your chocolate designs, don't make them too thin and wispy.
Do you see those adorable little galaxy looking swirls in my picture?
And those back and forth zig-zaggy designs in the other shot?

 Well, every single one of those broke. 
There was a flaw in there designs, they were too spread out and not connected in enough places to have ample stability. If I had done the same designs only thicker, then it might have worked.
So keep this in mind when creating your designs.

5. Cool on completely flat surface in the fridge or freezer
I made the accident of laying one large parchment sheet of these still-soft garnishes across varying heights of food stuff in our fridge: the result, some of the designs were raised, crinkled and warped because they were soft enough to move with the indentations caused in the parchment paper.
A flat cooling surface is best. 

 6. Tracing Tips
If you are working from a drawing or printed design,
I highly recommend tracing that design on the back of your parchment paper, 
and then simply following those lines when you pipe your design.
If you just put your printed design underneath the parchment paper, it can slip around and create
a small tragedy by messing up the chocolate when you go to reposition the outline.
Do yourself a favor and take a little extra time to trace your drawing on the back of the parchment paper.

While 'drawing' your designs, try to keep the stream of chocolate constant,
the less starting and stopping you have, the smoother the end result.

B E   C R E A T I V E!!

Use your imagination to create fun designs and shapes.
Draw inspiration from sources around you.

You can also create words and lettering using this method,
but again, make sure your line is thick enough so your letters won't break on you.

 A little bit of detail can go a long way in bringing your sweet creations up a notch! 
So, there you have it! Just a little bit of experience that I want to pass on to y'all!
Now give it a try yourself!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cake Mania!

Sound the trumpets! Drum roll, please!
Today I am finally going to be sharing something creative with you!!
I have been waiting to write this post since the day I started conceiving all of my grand ideas!

When the subject of cakes came up for my grandparent's 50th Anniversary Celebration,
I eagerly volunteered for the job.
There were already a few Pinterest pins calling my name,
and this would be a funtastic opportunity to finally try some out.

These were my Pin-speration sources.

1. Gumdrop Roses  2. Wedding Picture Topper  3. Chocolate design toppers
4. Chocolate Heart  5. Sugar and Berries  6. Cake Banner 
7. Pineapple Flowers  8. Picture Pick Toppers  9. Strawberry Roses
Chocolate Butterflies 
Not to forget this awesome chocolate butterfly.

After one whole day of 'research' (I love Pinterest!), and one day of shopping for all
the necessities and ingredients, I was able to get to work!

I gave mom the task of making all the paper and picture decorations, like the anniversary banner,
wedding picture topper, and cake labels...which left me to man the kitchen.

Let me show you what I cooked up!

 #1 Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
This was a two layer sheet cake with frosting in the middle, that I quickly
decorated with a '50 Years' flag, some pineapple flowers and a lacy chocolate heart.

The heart was made from melted almond bark that I piped onto parchment paper,
 then re-hardened in the fridge.
 I didn't trace a design for this one, I just did it by freehand.

#2 Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
Also a two layered, cream cheese frosted cake,
I decorated this one with my version of the wedding picture cake topper (made by mom!)
surrounded by pineapple flowers.
I was told later that those dried flowers tasted great!

#3 Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
Don't let the gluten free part scare you, this is the best chocolate cake I have ever had!
I'm dead serious. And I don't like chocolate cake.
Want to know a secret? We didn't tell people this was gluten free, and it was our most popular cake!
I used my go to chocolate butter cream recipe to frost this single layer cake,
then topped it with almond bark chocolate words and gumdrop roses!

These roses were awesome!

If you click the link in my collage above it will take you to this video tutorial!
They are so simple to make, yet add so much!
They don't show you how to make the leaves, but it didn't take much to figure those out.
Just roll out your green gumdrop as shown in the video, then cut out a leaf shape.

#4 Gluten Free Three-Tiered Cake
Not as many tiers as my inspiration source,
but I liked the simple beauty of the exposed cake, fresh fruit and powdered sugar.

The strawberry rose bouquet was a nice touch, though it didn't turn out as good I would have hoped.
 I couldn't get the 'petals' to lay open like in the picture. But still, a nice topper.

#5 White Raspberry Cake
Three layered almond white cake, with almond butter cream frosting and raspberry preserve filling.
I only frosted the middle layers and the top cake for two reasons.
One, 'naked cakes' are in style, didn't you know?
And two, the frosting was a little stiff and I was running out of time. was reason two.

To make this cake look fabulous,
we stuck a very long "Happy Anniversary" banner in the top!
I love the way it turned out! My mom did a great job!

#6 Coconut Cake
You guys.
This was my favorite cake!!
Just look at that! It is beautiful! And it tastes wonderful too!
I am dying to make another one of these, with a few little recipe changes.

This double layer coconut sheet cake was frosted with sour cream coconut frosting,
between the layers and all over the outside, sprinkled with toasted coconut
then adorned with almond bark butterflies!
I was so, so thrilled that I was actually able to make these!
I mean...look at them!

 And finally....

I made just over 70 Lemon Cupcakes!
This is one of our family recipes for rich lemon cake, topped with another family creation,
lemon frosting made by folding lemon pudding and Cool Whip together!


These little darlings were decorated with various almond bark chocolate designs,
and family picture sticks, combining two inspiration sources.

All of my cakes had to survive an hours trip before
reaching the location of our family reunion.
That means I only frosted the middle layers of my sheet cakes to hold them together, 
and the rest of the frosting, assembling and decorating had to take place on site.

We had a certain time frame between scheduled events that we were able 
to use the (more like rollings tables, a sink and some counter space),
so that made things a little crunched.

But thankfully there was lots of family (thank you everyone!) to give a helping hand.
I'll admit it was a little hard at first to delegate some of the tasks 
to someone else, but I had no reason to worry, it all turned out great
and I was able to do the really important details myself.

If I look a little tired and frazzled, you know why.

In the end it all paid off.
Presentation was awesome, taste was wonderful, and Nana cried.
Everything was a hit.
I was asked by several people if I did this for a living,
and those that didn't ask, outright told me that I should make this a business!
It was so great to have such supportive feedback.

Now, I went back and forth about breaking this post down
into individual cakes and details, but I decided on covering it in one fell swoop.
There will be a post on making almond bark chocolate designs, with tips I discovered along the way,
but if you want more individualized details on anything else,
just let me know and I'll see what I can do!

To sum it up:
One week.
Six cakes.
13 layers.
70 cupcakes
Five different frostings.
One hurried hour of assembly.
An anniversary to remember.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

50th Anniversary & Reunion

I had a busy Fourth of July, y'all!
Every July Fourth that falls around the weekend,
my dad's side of the family has a family reunion, with family that spans back three generations before me!
This was one of those years.
Here is the group picture of our immediate family, at least the ones that could make it.
Aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents!

Can you believe there are at least 20 still missing?!

Here is my pale lookin' self and the rest of my family.

This reunion was extra special because we were also celebrating my grandparent's 
50th Wedding Anniversary!!

See those two large,black and white photos in the corners?
That bombshell and suave movie star are my grandparents.

Sibling photobomb.

 They cut the cake and fed each other all over again.
"Give me a kiss," said Nana.
And he did.

I am so blessed by the example and marriage I have been lived through these
two amazing Christ servants.
Not too long ago, I heard Papa say over the phone to Nana when she
called with vehicle trouble and needed him to come get her...
"I'll always pick you up, babe."

He picked her up all those years ago,
and he ain't about to drop her now.

I had a great time making all the cakes and cupcakes for their celebration!
I'll give you more pictures and details, including Pinterest inspiration, in my next post!
You won't want to miss it!

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Sometimes a girl just needs a little change.
Last weekend I decided to make that change, and it is one I've been planning since last fall...
I dyed my hair red!

Why red?
Because every time in the past that I have tried to color my hair a nice brown color,
it turns out with a red tint to it. I always tell them 'warm' tones, maybe that is where I went wrong...??
My grandma has told me that her hair always throws red when she tried dying it,
so maybe it is just in my hair code?
Anyway...I thought I would give in and actually color it red this time.
 I also did a little choppage while I was at it...just simple stuff...split ends, an attempt at layering in the back, and evening up my not-bangs.

Although this isn't the first time I've colored my hair, it is the first time I have done it at home by myself!
I was a little nervous, but once you jump in and get started, it really isn't rocket science.
I like the results fine, but I was hoping for that deeper, darker red tone, truer to the depiction on the box.
Just one week later, I already see it fading, even though it is supposed to be permanent.
Originally, I wanted to use Henna as a dye. But after a little research, I learned henna is very permanent.
You can't remove it or dye over it, or your hair might start smoking!
So, if I didn't like the red, I was stuck until it grew out.
I figured for $3 bucks I could get an ammonia free dye at Wal-Mart and do a far less scary test run.

Let me take this opportunity to draw your attention to the jean vest I'm sporting.
It was thrifted quite a few months back, but ended up sitting atop my large refashion pile
because it was just a bit too bulky.
Finally, I sewed some darts into the side seams and took it in. Simple fix.
It doesn't really qualify as a refashion, but I figured I could squeak it in this way.

This top.
I am in love.
Also a piece that has been in my refashion pile for a long time. But I really don't know why!?
I literally pulled it out just a couple days ago and there is nothing wrong with it. 
I've been wearing it ever since- it is so comfortable and I just love the print. 
You can't tell with it tucked in, but it has a loose fit and rounded hem.

 And these shoes!
They are currently my favorite pair, and my most recent thrift score.
And when I say recent, I mean two months ago. I haven't been thrifting a lot lately.
Too busy and broke! That, and I feel bad buying more clothes when my refashion pile is overflowing!
(That might be a sign I need to get back to refashioning, huh?!)
 Outfit: Jean Vest: thrifted ||Top: from a friend, Aeropostale ||Skirt: thrifted, refashioned 
Shoes: thrifted ||Belt: Bealls, old

How about you?
Is there a change you have been contemplating for a while?
Have you colored your own hair, and if so what products do you recommend?
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