Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Babycake Cake pop Version 2.0 Success!

OKAY I felt bad about my last review for the Babycake cake pop. Turns out after Youtube-ing it I figured out what went wrong. My Candy melts over heated & I didn't know to add a tablespoon of oil or shortening to fix it. I also didn't know to freeze the cake pop balls before inserting the stick (which didn't say to do in the directions in the first place)

So I made a box of Pilsbury Halloween cake mix.  I plugged in the babycake maker and sprayed it with cooking spray (which it says not to do...but their oil idea wasn't working for me). I put the cake batter into a ziploc bag and sniped the corner off (which I found helps distribute the batter evenly)

They came out pretty nice & round (compared to my first two attempts) Anything that bakes over, simply break off the sides of the cake pop.

I let them cook. and put them into the freezer until the following week ( I forgot about them...). Using my make shift double broiler I melted the candy melts again. (on high). One at a time I pulled the Babycakes cake pops out of the freezer, dipped the sticks in the candy melts, inserted them into the cake pop and let them set in the freezer. Again. (reduce heat on water!!)

I raised  the temperature again & mix the candy melts up a little before I started dipping them. When I felt like the candy melts were making the cake pops come off the sticks I added a tablespoon of oil to the candy melts (less if you're not using the whole bag)

After I was done dipping, I notice some were nice. Some were not as smooth.

Since I was making pumpkins I wanted a green stem, so I took a small handful of green candy melts, put them into a ziploc & microwaved it for 30 seconds. I took it out and mixed it in the bag. The candies weren't fully melted so I put them back in for another 30 seconds.

 I snipped the tip (tee hee hee to all those "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" lovers) I added a dot of green to the tops of each pumpkin pop

Then I added faces using black icing because I didn't have black candy melts. This is the finished project:

What I learned:

This was a little easier this time around because I ignored the directions from the baby cake maker.

using frosting with a cake pop

Thursday, October 20, 2011

American Girl Clothes

Both of my daughters got American Girl dolls from Santa Claus last year. Man are those clothes expensive! $24-$36 dollars for a dress!! Now after trying to make clothes for the dolls for a year now, I can see how labor involved it is to make. It is time consuming (my first two took over a month to finish because I only had a couple of hours to work on them), but also they don't buy the cheapest durable fabric like I do. You really do get what you pay for from American Girl.

You need to have a pattern first. This is my favorite website to get them from:

American Girl doll patters

Pick your doll, open the pattern link and print off the dress you want to make. I like to start with Kirsten because her party dress was the easiest. Some of the patterns will come on two pages.

  You need to line the words up with each other so that it only says whatever that piece is one time. Tape them together

 In the end, it should look like this:

Be fair warned that the Kirsten party dress will print too small & you'll have to add 1/8 inch to each side piece around her waist  (look where my finger is pointing)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bean Bag toss game

So I'm working on finishing up a themed Bean bag toss game for Hannah's first grade Halloween party.

I searched the internet for a while but did not have much luck. I saw a pumpkin and a ghost, pumpkins stacked on top of each other where the mouth's and eyes were cut out. I thought those would be good & decided to give them a try. I did. It did not work out the way I was hoping it to. I just wasn't "feeling it" and usually if I'm not into it, the project either is not finished or does not turn out the way I want.

I needed a new idea. Well, Hannah and all children everywhere seem to love Angry Birds, so I thought, "Why not?" They have a Halloween version. Here is how I did it.

Bean Bag toss game

What you'll need :
*LARGE cardboard box (in this case I sent another mother out to do my bidding because I didn't know where to get one). She went to a local appliance store and was able to get a large washer box- free! We just had to wait an extra week because the rain had destroyed the first batch.
* A picture of what you're going to want to draw on it. Or if you can not draw, try my other technique featured here: enlarging photos in paint shop    Trust me I know it says "birthday planning" but it does show you how to enlarge the photo.

*Glue (not a glue stick)
* Packaging tape
*Pencil and good eraser (even the best need one!)
*Markers or paint
* Sharpie to outline with.
* a ruler or something straight if you need lines
* a plate if you need circles
*Bean Bags--there are instructions for these after the bean bag toss.

Once you have the box the first thing you'll  need to do is take apart the seal  and turn the box inside out this way you wont have "Kenmore" written through your ghost. use regular white glue and re-glue the seal down (use packaging tape to keep it in place) once it's down put something heavy (in my case a folded table) ontop of it for two-three hours.

After it has dried, open it up taping the sides of the box so that it holds together.

Choose which side you're going to work on. decide how big you want the holes for the bean bags to be & carefully begin tracing out your design. (or print) Once you have finished

(You can barely make out my sketch, but it's there!)

Now it's time to decide, paint or markers? I chose paint because I was able to darken or lighten the colors to make choosing. I did one color at a time and even attempted to shade the cement and ghost pig. I did some outlining with markers though (to try to make it show up better) and a sharpie for any black out lining and pupils. I must say I'm really happy with the final results.

Don't forget to add the holes for the bean bags!!

How to make a bean bag


*What you'll need:
* Felt: Yellow, Orange-yellow, Orange, Red,Black, Grey, White, and Tan
* Sewing machine / need and thread
* Rice or Beans
* Black Sharpie

Sadly, I have not figure out how to post my own patterns up. I eyed the first batch of angry birds & was offered cash for the second set & decided I needed a pattern.

I can tell you they are all basic shapes (ovals, oblongs, triangles with curved edges) The eyes are circles (except the red one) the stomachs are 1/16 of a circle, the eye brows are long rectangles, the beaks are...beak shaped.

After you've cut and placed the face onto the head of the bird, sew them on by hand. Sew together the bird (wrong sides together). Fill the birds with rice & close it up. With the Sharpie, add pupils & outline the birds (if you look they are outlined-I bet my husband & won)


For people with a lot less time on their hands, try this version- it's me.

What you'll need:
*Beans (or rice works)
*Needle (or sewing machine)

Cut the fabric into small squares. pin "right sides together"  (the parts you want to show on the outside face each other). sew 3 of the 4 sides together. Sew the 4th side three quarters of the way up, leaving a hole just big enough to put your beans or rice in.
Turn the fabric inside out. To make the corners square push them out with your finger.
Fill the bean bag 3/4 of the way full.  Using the whip stitch close the bean bag.
Hopefully, your finished project looks like this:

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Cake Pop epidemic of 2011 aka how NOT to cake pop

So out of the blue these cake pops have become the new "it" thing. I had never seen them until I was in Starbucks one day getting a latte. They look like a lolipop, but are a piece of cake instead (cake pop, get it? ah haha..ahem.)

So I decided to search how to make cake pops & quite frankly- it looks disgusting. One day my husband and I were with the girls at a store & I saw this  cake pop maker and thought this looked so much nicer than the disturbing website. Eventually after making fun of me and saying I was a walking infomercial we bought it (yipee!)
So I get my new toy home and I'm still as excited as my five year old to have something new. I couldn't help it I had to open it and try it out. So carefully I read the direction (Now, if you know me... I really hate directions- which is ironic that I am making a blog and giving you all directions.) I grease the cute little dips and mix up my daughters favorite cake (Vegan Chocolate Cake).

I plug it in and eagerly wait for the little light to turn green. Finally it does and I'm ready! Or so I thought. First I over fill the mold because there isn't any spoon in the box to tell you the perfect amount, no biggie. Until I tried to lift the lid & all the cake go stuck to the top and kept breaking. Heart breaking honestly.
So I make cake pops out of...deformed cake pops? and decide I will attempt both ways to see which is the best way to "cake pop" I threw the broken first batch into a bowl to use later.
I re-grease the baby cake mold and try again, using much less batter & close the lid. So far nothing is oozing out the sides (that's a good sign)  When the light turns off I slooowly open the lid- nothing sticks (hey this is working out)  When I looked I was excited. I actually get a good back outta this thing (yaaay!)

Yes I consider these a victory. Shush.

After I grew bored of the baby cake maker I decided to try the "old fashion" way and follow youtubes video directions. (What you'll need: fully baked cake, icing, lolipop sticks, candy melts- in lots of colors) Which is this:

*Bake a cake in your favorite flavor. Let it cool completely before crumbling it into tiny pieces into a bowl.

* Add 1/4 cup of frosting to the mix

And...mix it up. ( I chose vanilla with chocolate cake because I thought chocolate would be way too sweet). Mix it until it's kinda pasty looking.

And nooow you're ready to form the balls! ( Or because this is able to be shaped, shape them using cooking cutters!) Make sure you butter your hands (I am serious) or the dough will stick to you.

Let's see I have some round circles, Mickey Mouse, a butterfly, Wizard Mickeys hat (yeah you'll never see that one!), a tulip and some other shapes that I've already forgotten..

If you want to make a cupcake shaped cake pop, start with a large circle and a flower cookie cutter (purchased from Michaels in the cake decorating department- with a coupon). push the flower cutter from underneath , leaving the top still round. (see above photo- yes that is butter on my hands :) )

Once you have all the shapes you want it's into the freezer with them for a couple of hours.

In a double broiler (if you have one. If not the Macgyver  version is a glass bowl on top of a regular sized pot filled with water works. Turn the stove on and mix the Candy melts until fully melted. Dip the top of your lolipop stick into the candy melts and insert them into the cake pop. Let them set before dipping them into the melted candy  twirling them around to fully coat them. Let stand. (I have see a make shift stand made out of a cereal box with holes in it. Thanks to my trusty cake pop maker I have an actual stand.

Baby Cake maker Vs. Handmade cake pops

The one on the left is from the Baby Cake maker it is a very nice round shape and light to eat. The one on the right is hand made (it's a little smaller, but more solid)

 Now, after Easter we had an abundance of egg shaped candies (and quite frankly it's October and we still do!) So I decided to try using milk chocolate candies too.

Sadly, the baby cake maker cake pops get stuck in the mix. Even with the candy melts, I had a lot of tearing and breaking with the Baby cake makers cake pops.

Then  I noticed because of the "airy" center of the Baby Cake cake pop there was nothing to hold it up with & alas gravity did it's job (Thanks a lot Sir Isaac Newton)

My end results were really not as bad as trying to make them.  Below on the Right is the Baby Cake cake pop (which I eventually got to work) and the chocolate covered one is a regular homemade cake pop.

My review: 
They both taste the same. The homemade ones are a little sweeter because of the icing that keeps them together.
The Baby Cake cake pop maker is nice, but a lot of hassle & it hates Vegan cake.


Melted frosting

Baby Cake cake pop test #2

Cake Pops version 1.5

So I felt  really bad hating my Baby Cake cake pop maker. I wanted to at least give it another shot. This time I used a box mix for 4th of July and dyed 1/3 of the batter blue and 1/3 of the batter Red. I greased the circles really really good so that it was sure not to stick.

I put each color into a different ziploc (which was actually very helpful for distributing the batter) and let it bake. After they were done baking I was amazed to see that there was no sticking, no oozing out the sides nothing ( by now I'm thinking all my badmouthing of it, it decided to work right)

Remembering the difficulties I had with the sticks not staying into play I decided to be one step ahead of the cake pops & fill the inside with icing using the jelly gun that came with the cake pop machine.


Now it kind of looked like a donut hole filled with icing. 

Sadly. This is all I can review of this attempt. Shortly after I started not feeling well and ended up with Strep throat for two weeks straight. After I felt better I didn't feel right using the cake pops I had made while sick.

Cake Pop alternative dipping


I thought "Why not?" That's what you do with a cake anyway, right? So I dipped the stick in frosting so see if that would work like candy melt. After I let it set in the fridge for a while, I piled it on with a ziploc bag full of orange icing (for Halloween).

I smoothed it out with my clean finger. & let it set again. By this point in time I was noticing that the cake pop was lifting off the stick. So I took a reinforced all the other cake pops with candy melts. It's a good thing I did, because this was the outcome:

Yes, I found it funny that it fell down the stick- even the pumpkin was surprised :)

Melting the Frosting:

I had also read about "melting frosting" No where on the tub of icing does it say you can do it (then again it never said you can't) So I googled it to give it a try. The reason I did this was because one of my daughters friends is allergic to dairy. Which means she couldn't have the chocolate covered one or the candy melts.
I put a bit of frosting into the microwave until it "spilled off the spoon" as described in the directions I read. I got out my cake pops from the freezer and put in a stick.  I dipped it in and it's working! I was so excited to be able to give my daughters friend the same treat as everyone else.


Then I placed them onto the holder to harden. Which is where it all went crazy. The frosting began to drip off of the cake pop & make a huge mess. Well okay, it's not HUGE, but I really cake when things get messy.


 What I learned:

I think it's OK to ice a cake pop. I do not ever suggest melting the frosting. But hey, that's what my mistakes are for!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Snow White Costumes

Snow White has two dresses during the movie and as I've learned from Hannah her doll is in theater and likes to act out her favorite movies (which coincidentally is Hannah's favorite movie, Snow White)

I used Kirsten's Party dress pattern for both costumes (crazy) altering Snow Whites main dress just a smidgen.

Download and print off the pattern here:
American Girl patterns

Once you've cut it out (I would add just a little extra onto each of the sides of Kirsten's tops and waist line (approximately 1/8 inch total) I learned the hard way that this particular pattern printed small.

For Snow Whites peasant dress:

You'll need:
Brown fabric
white fabric
a small light blue square (literally)
Thread (white and brown)
Light Blue ribbon for hair

Outdoor party games:

 I'm a summer birthday myself & so is my younger daughter. I must say we have it pretty easy when it comes to planning a summer party. There is so much more you can do outdoors than we can in (mainly because we are in an apartment)

Water Balloon fight:
Fill up a ton of water balloons and store them in an extra cooler the day before the party (that or get up really early and while drinking coffee start filling them up) It might be good if you have a lot of people coming to have two coolers reserved for the balloons. When it's time for the fight, go over whatever rules necessary & let the kids run wild. This is also fun is any of the kids have a water gun.

Red light, green light
Object: To be the first kid to the "traffic light"
All the children stand at one end of the backyard (this really only works if you're outdoors ;) ) and the "Traffic light" (the person chosen to yell "Red light or green light") is all the way at the other end. The person who is the traffic light turns their back on the group of children and yells, "Green light!" The children run toward them, but be careful. If the traffic light turns around  and yells "Red light!"all the children must freeze. Anyone who keeps moving or falls must go back to the starting line.  The first person to reach the traffic light wins.

Relay race:
Hopefully you have an even number of children, or a very nice adult to play on someone's team. Split the kids up into either groups of two or  just two large groups. Choose an object (like a baton) that must be passed from player to player. With team mates standing on opposite ends of the field they must run to the opposite side to hand the baton to their teammate who must run back to the opposite side. If you're using more than one teammate on each team the group whose players finish first win.

Three legged race:
I would only play this game only with older children. Set the kids up into groups of two. Have them stand next to each other & tie their legs that are next to each other together. Have the groups walk together to the starting line (this was they have an idea of how to start walking in the first place) The first group to get to the finish line wins.

Sack race:
You'll need either real sacks or pillow cases you do not care about for this game. Distribute a sack to each person playing at the starting line. The players must hop their way to the finish line. First person there wins.

Scavenger hunt:
This is more aimed toward older kids ( although my best friend and I did this to my husband for his 21st birthday when he knew what he was getting for his gift). First decide how many places you want the hunter to go. This will help you come up with the clever rhymes to send them on their search. Make sure you number the envelopes and write in small letters where it is supposed to go  (not where they are supposed to go. Where you want to put the envelope). 
Before the party place the envelopes in the correct spots & when it's time hand the first envelope to the kids.

Treasure Map:
An alternative to the scavenger hunt is just making a map of the backyard (or where the party is being held) have them walk 10 steps (you can mix it up by making them do Kangaroo hops to the swing set, or walk backwards 5 steps to the sofa)

Simple 5-10 minute Halloween Crafts

I LOVE Halloween. From October on it's nothing but Holidays!  Here are some cute and simple crafts to use as decorations and keepsakes. I have most of these all the way back to 2006 When Hannah was a year old. It is so cute to see how much she's grown over the years.

Pumpkin Patch

What you'll need:

* Construction paper in your choice of color
* Orange and Green paint
*Paint brush

Paint your childs fingers (from finger tip to knuckle) in orange paint. You can do all four fingers or just two. Have your child "stamp" their fingers onto the page.  repeat until you think you have enough pumpkins. Using a paint brush and green paint let your child add the stem.

Ghost feet

What you'll need:

*White piece of paper

There are many variations of this craft. This one is still my favorite. Trace your childs foot onto the piece of paper with a black marker.  Add eyes and mouth to the face of the ghost (the heel is the head of the ghost). Let your child add whatever decorations (pumpkins, full moon, tombstones, etc..)
You'll need: White paper, scissors and white sewing thread.
Trace your childs foot on the white paper, let them add the face. Cut it out and add a white string at the top and hang it from the ceiling.
You'll need: black construction paper and white paint.
Paint your childs foot white & stamp it onto the black paper. Let it dry. Add face and mouth.


What you'll need:

* Construction paper (black, orange and hat color)
*glue stick
*google eyes

Trace your childs foot and both hands onto black paper. Cut them out. Glue hands to middle of foot for wings (see picture- sorry it's sideways I haven't figured this out yet!) Glue google eyes on and add a triangle orange piece for his beak. The hat is optional. It's just a top hat.

Egg carton spider

What you'll need:

* Egg carton (one piece) painted black (I would do this the day before)
* google eyes
* 4 black pipe cleaners
* piece of string
* scissors
* glue

After you've painted the egg carton black and let it sit over night, punch six holes (three on each side) with the sharp end of the scissors. thread the pipe cleaners through the holes to make the legs. Add a hole to the top & put a piece of yarn in to let the spider hang from it.  glue on google eyes. For some reason of another, Hailey needed to add flower sprinkles to her spider. She was 3 at the time and we didn't exactly ask questions.

Spider Hands

What you'll need:

* Black construction paper
* google eyes
* Glitter pens (optional)

Fold a black piece of paper in half. Trace part of your childs palm and four fingers (not their thumb). Cut out and unfold the paper. This is your spiders body. Add google eyes (Hailey decided she wanted a big eye to make her spider scarier) and a mouth. You can let the kids glitter the legs if you want. We didn't have any glitter this year (imagine that!).


What you'll need:

*black construction paper
*White paint
* google eyes or two small eyes out of paper (you'll need a pencil if you choose paper)

Paint both of your childs hand with white paint. Have them stamp their hands (thumbs touching) onto the black paper. Let it set for a couple of minutes before cutting it out. Roll up a small piece of black paper (the size of a toilet paper roll) and staple the roll onto the hands covering the thumbs. Glue on google eyes or paper eyes.

Skeleton Pasta

What you'll need:

*Spare pasta shapes
* Black construction paper
* glue
* white crayon
*google eyes

On black construction paper using your white crayon, draw a skeleton : a circle, body and ribs (he does not need to be perfect) Let your child glue the various shapes of pasta to create the body. Add google eyes

Paper Plate Jack O'lantern

What you'll need:

* A paper plate for each child painted orange (do this one day in advance)
* Black Construction paper (cut into triangles for eyes, nose & a mouth shape)
* A Green Stem (construction paper) 
*Glue Stick

Once you have the orange plate, have your child glue on the eyes, nose, mouth and stem to make a Jack O'lantern

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Classic games to play at parties

Here are some more fun games to play at parties no matter what the theme:

Hot Potato  
Object: To not be stuck with the potato at the end.

Again, try to make it go with the theme of your party. (We had an apple for Snow White, Bolt plush dog for our Bolt theme) Have the children get into a circle. They pass the object around the circle to music. When the music stops the person holding the object it out.  Continue on until there is one person left. That person is the winner and receives a prize.
 *Nowadays it seems that you're not make children win or lose, etc.. it's "just about playing the game" If you want you can play the game the alternative: The child who has the object when the music stops makes a funny/silly face, does a silly dance or wishes the child a happy birthday in a funny voice.

Freeze dance:
Object: to be the last one standing.

This works no matter what the theme. use upbeat music that is "kid friendly" or won't get you kicked off the PTA by playing it. I like the Alvin and the Chipmunks music from the 2007 movie. Other people prefer to torture their guests' with Kidz Bop. Your choice.
Again it's the same general idea as hot potato. The kids dance to the music, when the music is randomly stopped by an adult, the children must freeze. It they move, they are out. The game goes on until there is one winner.

Simon Says:                                                                  

Object: to be the last one standing

Another classic childhood game. Gather all the children into a group. One person is "Simon" (you can change the name- if it's a costume party it could be "Snow White says"). Simon gives the group simple commands and the group follows- only if Simon says. Example : "Simon says hop on one foot" so everyone must hop on one foot. "Do a funny dance" no one should be dancing, because Simon did not say to. Anyone who does dance is "out." If the children are older or the game seems to be dragging on, it is really funny to shout out the commands as fast as you can to see who is paying attention. OR you could start off slow and quickly start saying what to do faster and faster.

Musical Chairs
Object: to be the last person in.
This is also another classic. You can change it up by using your theme. For our Snow White party we played "Musical Gem stones."  I drew different types of gems onto cardboard, cut them out and placed them on the floor. The alternative is to use chairs. Place one less chair in a row then there are guests who are playing (example: ten kids playing, use nine chairs).  The kids walk around the chairs until the music stops. The kids scramble to get a seat. The child with no chair is out. Take away one chair and start the music again.

Scavenger hunt:
This is more aimed toward older kids ( although my best friend and I did this to my husband for his 21st birthday when he knew what he was getting for his gift). First decide how many places you want the hunter to go. This will help you come up with the clever rhymes to send them on their search. Make sure you number the envelopes and write in small letters where it is supposed to go  (not where they are supposed to go. Where you want to put the envelope). 
Before the party place the envelopes in the correct spots & when it's time hand the first envelope to the kids.

Treasure Map:

An alternative to the scavenger hunt is just making a map of the backyard (or where the party is being held) have them walk 10 steps (you can mix it up by making them do Kangaroo hops to the swing set, or walk backwards 5 steps to the sofa) When you have the party indoors it is really fun to put the treasure in the dryer or dishwasher- just don't forget and turn it on!

Planning a Birthday Party

My daughter is turning six in November- it's amazing to think that she has been around that long.

We don't exactly have the space to house a party in our apartment, but I refuse to drop $250 on a party at MyGym (again).  My favorite words on the invitation: Drop off. Meaning as long as you can handle just catering to the children you will have more space and less money to spend on feeding adults as well. I've noticed over the years that children behave better when their parents are not around.
So our apartment it is. 780 square feet, 8 adults and 10 kids. Am I crazy? yes. by My husband is going to help me push our furniture against the walls. Anything that will fit into our  bedroom will be hidden in there with the door closed. If you're lucky maybe you have a friend who will let you borrow their backyard.

Hannah chose Lemon Meringue (no not the pie) from Strawberry shortcake as the theme of her party. Since they don't make anything that is actually of Lemon Meringue for the party, I got creative. Since we are doing the party indoors, there is limited space for us.

First I came up with party games that you regularly play at parties with kids and decided how was I going to change them to go with the theme. (Example: Hot potato /hot lemon or for our Snow White theme it was  a poisoned apple)

Pin the Tail on the Donkey. / Pin the Lemon to Lemon Meringue
If you can draw, this works great for you. If not, hopefully you have a printer. Decided which character you want to use (We've done: Pin the boots on Boots the Monkey from Dora, Pin the Bow on Minnie, Pin the bow on Snow White, Pin the Rose to Belle, Pin the Lightening Bolt to Bolt, add a wart to the Witch, etc..) Start off with a poster board you buy at Target ($1.50) and free hand draw the character onto the poster. If that is not in your talents, google the name of the character you want to use. Find a good photo and copy it into paint on your computer. With the picture still selected, stretch the photo out to make it bigger.
When you feel it's big enough go to file, print preview. If the image does not come up on four pages it is not big enough for you to print off and tape together to use. Keep stretching the image until it is.

Notice in the picture below in the  "print preview" Lemons head is on two piece of papers- that's how I know it will be a good size.

There is also an option under "page set up" to have it adjust to"100% normal size" That should help you enlarge it faster.

Once you have either drawn or printed off the picture (glue it to the board if you're printing), color the picture the appropriate colors.  If you printed the picture off, it's probably a good idea to go over the picture with a sharpie to make it more defined. Chose something on the character that the children can "pin" to the board (in this case the girls will be pinning Lemons' Lemon hair clip to her hair). These can be made by tracing the original drawing of the picture (lemon) and making copies.

Check out my other Blogs for more party games to play:

Classic games to play
Outdoor party games