Cute and Creepy Halloween Treats {and a free printable!}

A few nights ago as I was drifting off to sleep… dreaming of future blog posts.. an idea hit me!  Everyone once in a while I impress myself  =)  I thought of a cute, creepy and funny kids snack perfect for Halloween treat bags.  And here it is….

Wait… you don’t think red candies, pretzels and marshmallows are fun and creepy?

How about now….

Cute right??  Now I should apologize a bit here… I know you’re used to me posting pretty, elegant, lady-like treats, but I’ve got to let my hair down every now and then! =)  And I can pretty much guarantee that you will never again see the word “poop” in any of my blog posts!

But I’ll have to tell you, as I was making us these little treat bags, my 7 and 4 year old sweet little girls were cracking up, asking for “more spider legs please..” and “can I have 3 more rat eyes”.

I created a special (free!) printable bag topper just for these cute and creepy treats.

Simply follow the link below to get your…

Printable Creepy Halloween Treat Bag Topper

I would recommend printing them onto white cardstock, then use a paper trimmer to cut them.  The finished size of each topper will be 4″ wide and 3″ tall.  Fold them in half (lenghtwise), then use double sided tape to attach them to the bags.  Before I added the tags I folded the bag over a couple times and stapled it closed.

To make these Halloween treat bags you’ll need…

Red candies (I used sixlets)

Pretzel Sticks

Mini Marshmallows

Small clear treat bags

Printable topper (link above)

Gray twine (optional)  I used twine from The Twinery, in stone.

I’ve posted a cute Halloween packaging idea in the the past, if you’re looking for something a little less gross.

Happy Snacking!

I’m linking this post to Tidy Mom’s- I’m Lovin It post.

Pretty Jeweled Pumpkins {D.I.Y. Craft}

Last year I saw some pretty ”bejeweled” pumpkins in a high-end home decor magazine.  I thought the decorative pumpkins were really beautiful, until I took a look the price… $200 for three pumpkins!!  In other words almost $70.00 per pumpkin!  They were pretty, but not quite that pretty!  Now by all means, if you have $200 to spend on decorative pumpkins, go for it!  But when I have $200 on hand I prefer to use it for much more glamorous things…like gas and groceries!

This year when I saw the same company selling the pumpkins again (they must have been a hit last year!), I just couldn’t deny their beauty… so I made my own!

My first thought was to use sticky-backed jewels (designed as scrapbooking embellishments), and I went to the store and bought a few packages of pretty black jewels and dressed up one pumpkin (not shown in this post).  When I went back to the craft store for more jewels, they were out of stock.  The scrapbooking jewels did work well, so if you can find enough of them (you’ll need several packages per pumpkin), they are a good option for this craft.

It took me a few moments to think of another way to get the same look (and for even less money than the sticky jewels)… glitter!  I found some gorgeous Martha Stewart brand glitter (in onyx), then grabbed a bottled of Martha Stewart craft glue, and headed home to get crafty!

Want to make some pretty pumpkins?

Let’s get started!

You’ll need some nice looking faux pumpkins.  There is certainly no reason you couldn’t use real pumpkins, but then they would obviously only last one season.  I chose orange pumpkins (simply because I wanted to duplicate the original photo I saw as closely as possible), but I think this craft would be gorgeous on white pumpkins as well!  I bought the pumpkins below from Michael’s ($9 for the large, $6 for the small).

1.  You’ll need some black glitter, and some craft glue.  I used Martha Stewart glitter in onyx and Martha Stewart craft glue, both available at Michael’s.

2.  Drop small dots of glue in a swirl patter of your choice.

3.  While the glue is still wet, generously sprinkle the glitter over the glue.  Tap off excess glitter onto a sheet of newspaper or a craft tray of some kind.  There will still be some excess glitter, but don’t worry about that for now.

4.  Once the glue if fully dry (about an hour), use a soft, dry paint brush to remove the remaining excess glitter.

A few notes…

You’ll want to adjust the size and style of the swirls as you work around the pumpkin.  Also, I found that I could only decorate about half of the pumpkin at a time, and then had to wait for the glue to dry, or I had no where to hold the pumpkin (without messing up my work).

Here are two of my newly bejeweled pumpkins (and two pretty glassybaby candle holders).  The cost of the pumpkins I used was $9.00, $7.00 and $6.00.  The glitter was about $5.00 and the glue was under $3.00.  Total cost for three decorated pumpkins (with lots of glitter and glue left over!) was $30.00.  The original set of three pumpkins that inspired this craft are sold for $200.00.  I assure you I’ll have no problem finding ways to spend my $170.00 savings!  =)

Happy Crafting!

Beach Wedding Cookies

Earlier this week, I shared the collection of desserts I prepared for a beautiful ocean side wedding.  Today I’m back with a few more details on just the cookies.  I decorated three styles of cookies for the wedding… some very simple, yet pretty shells, small square monograms, and some extra detailed starfish.

I have already posted a tutorial on How to Decorate Shell Cookies.

The monograms are pretty self-explanatory.

And today I’ll share the directions for the starfish cookies.

I started with my favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe, and a batch of Royal Icing.

I prepared the royal icing in a nice medium brown color, in both a thick (outline) consistency, and also a thinner (flood) consistency.  I also prepared a bag of thick white icing.  For this design I also used some ivory colored sugar pearls.

~ How to decorate starfish cookies ~

1.  Outline and flood the starfish in brown.  While the icing is still wet, add sugar pearls (as shown).

2.  When the brown icing has set (at least 1 hour), use thick white icing (I used a #1.5 PME tip) and pipe rows of small dots, starting from the sugar pearls, and getting slightly smaller (if possible) toward the outer points of the “star”

3.  Begin piping lots of dots (of thick brown icing) all over the starfish (I used a #1.5 PME tip).  I prefer to star from the outside and work in.

4.  Continue filling the starfish with brown dots for texture all over.

*Please do not send me any hate mail if you try these… they are very time consuming!  I would not suggest attempting a platter of 100, but a few mixed in with other shapes makes a really beautiful display.

Happy Decorating!

Beach Wedding Cake and Dessert Table

I spent this past weekend at the beach… not sun bathing or collecting shells, but baking, frosting and decorating!  Of course sun bathing is nice, but when you love baking as much as I do, then having a fun reason to do what you love is pretty great too!  I was honored to have an extra “sweet” part in a friend’s ocean side wedding.  I’ve been asked to make wedding cakes for friends in the past, but have always said no!  I really have very little experience with “big” cakes, and making (and transporting!) someones wedding cake sounds way to stressful for my taste!  But when a friend mentioned that she wanted just a small cake to cut, and then a dessert buffet for the guests… I thought I was up for the task!  So last week I baked, and baked, then packed up my car and drove 5 hours to Pacific Grove (near Montery, California) to set up a beautiful beach themed dessert table, and my very first (even if it’s small) wedding cake!

I had contacted the reception location  (Gatherings) ahead of time to get the exact dimensions of the table I would be able to set up the desserts on.  So I was able to chose the dishes I would need, and do a mock set up at home ahead of time.  I was so happy that it came together exactly as I had planned!

The wedding cake was a simple, rustic cake made of vanilla cake, with vanilla-almond buttercream, decorated with blue fondant flowers and white chocolate shells and starfish.

~ Dessert Table Menu ~

Decorated sugar cookies (in shell, starfish and monogram designs)

Fudge Mint Brownies

Lemon Squares (from Trader Joe’s)

Chocolate Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes

Custom designed chocolate dipped oreos (from Sweeties by Kim)

You may (or may not) have noticed that all of the photos of the table were taken from an angle… well, since there was a big mirror above the dessert table the only way to get a shot from the front was this…

Hi!  =)

So, this is a photo of me, my work, and my love.

Prop notes…

All the dishes are from my personal cake stand (and platter) collection.  The candle holders on top of the cake stand, and beside the wedding cake are from glassybaby.

Pink Ombre Swirl Cake

I’ve recently been fixated on the beauty of graduated layers of color, also called ombre.  From ribbon, to curtains, fashion, and of course cakes I’ve been seeing gorgeous ombre colors all over the place!  Several months ago I saw a beautiful cake from Call Me Cupcake, and shortly after saw a gorgeous ruffled cake by Fondant Flinger.  I wanted to merge the ideas a bit, and wanted a way to include some great texture on the outside of the cake, without creating time consuming fondant ruffles.  I remembered I am baker’s gorgeous rose cake, and thought a smaller version of the rose-like swirls could be the perfect finishing touch!

Here is my pretty pink, swirly cake!

How to create this Pink Ombre Swirl Cake ~

For the cake, I doubled my Perfect Vanilla Cupcake recipe.
The cake above is a 6″ cake,  and I reserved a little batter for a few vanilla cupcakes.  You could certainly do this cake as an 8″ cake.  For an 8″ cake I would suggest multiplying the recipe by 3 (if using my recipe linked above) if you want a nice tall cake.  Of course you are welcome to use any other vanilla cake recipe, or a box mix.

I divided the batter as evenly as possible between 5 bowls, coloring the darkest layer first, and working from that color as a guide.  I used Americolor gels in soft pink, electric pink, and a bit of electric purple (in just the darkest layer).  Add the batter to prepared cake pans (greased and floured, and lined on the bottom with parchment paper).  Also, you probably don’t have 5 matching cake pans (nor do I), so you’ll have to bake the layers separately (hopefully you have at least 2 matching pans).  Bake and fully cool the cakes.

Prepare a batch of American Buttercream Frosting.  Again, I made a 6″ cake, so for an 8″ cake, I would suggest multiplying the recipe by 1.5.  I divided the frosting between four bowls, one bowl with a bit more than the others (the one that will be the lightest color, because it’s used for the top as well as one row of swirls).  I colored the frosting with Americolor soft pink and a little electric pink (for just the darkest color). Also, reserve a small amount of frosting (maybe 1 cup) in the mixing bowl, to use between the layers, and to very thinly frost the outside (crumb coat).

Assembly ~
Layer the cakes, darkest on the bottom, frost with a very thin layer of icing between each layer.  Because I didn’t want too much frosting between the layers (to detract from the colors of the cake), I brushed each layer of cake with warmed cherry jam (most any flavor you like could be used).  You could also use a simple syrup, orange juice, or omit this step.  Frost the outside of the cake with a thin layer of frosting.  Smooth as well as you can (I use an offset spatula), but it doesn’t need to be perfect.  Place the entire cake in the freezer about 10 minutes for the icing to set, and the whole cake will firm up (making it much easier to decorate).

Prepare a piping bag with a #21 Wilton tip (a moderate sized open star).  This is the tip I used, but other open star tips could also work.  Fill piping bag with the darkest color icing.  Remove cake from freezer, and start along the bottom of the cake, creating rows of swirls.  For each swirl, start in the center of the ”rose” shape and pipe in a spiral around the center, about 1 1/2 rotations.  Continue along the bottom of the cake, creating rose-like swirls.  Repeat with remaining colors of icing.  You may find that there will be some areas in each row that don’t get fully covered, to fill in the little empty spaces just squeeze in some icing, in a curved shape (like a ”C”) to mimic the rest of the swirls a bit.  For the top of the cake (shown below) I used a combination of swirls and some “C” curves for a looser, wavy effect.

Once fully frosted, store the in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  Serve with milk, or coffee to accompany the pure sweetness of this cake.

I would love to see some of you try this in other colors… yellows to orange, shades of lavender, or light turquoise to teal… oh I made need to make another one soon!  What colors will you try?

Happy baking!

The most beautiful cake ever!  Includes recipe and step-by-step instructions to re-create this gorgeous cake.