Thursday, December 6, 2012

Melted Snowmen Cookies



These melted snowmen have to be one of my favorite Christmas Cookies I've made. Just looking at them makes me laugh. I imagine them yelling "Ooooh Noooo!" as they realize their fate.

Being super-pregnant this year I didn't tackle the fondant needed for the heads, so this is a recap post from last year's cookies - which I never did blog specifically about.

As far as an effort to impressiveness ratio goes, these cookies are awesome. People are wow'd by them, and they really are simple to make.

The hardest part is mastering the fondant for the heads. Of course, you can always go to Michael's and buy Wilton's pre-made, ready to use fondant.  I prefer the sweet taste of home made marshmallow fondant (or MMF) and have posted a tutorial here.

First, start with a ball of white fondant:



Colour a small portion orange:

 

And form heads with orange carrot noses:


The eyes and mouths are drawn on with Edible Food Markers.

Once these are ready, flood cookies of pretty much any shape with royal icing (tutorial here) and add the heads and chocolate chip buttons. The arms should be added last, once the white icing has a chance to dry.

Easy right?

And just because I'm so proud of them, I'm posting the photo again:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Introducing ... Finnigan!

This year we adopted an Elf on a Shelf and named him Finnigan! Also known as Finn for short.


Here are just a few of the places Finnigan has shown up so far:

In the tree!

Roasting marshmallows over candles!

I little inebriated... 

Supervising cookie making!
I can't wait to see what other shenanigans our Elf gets up to this month.

Meanwhile, I've been pinning some creative things other elves have been up to on my Elf Shenanigans Pinterest Board.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Nursery Reading Nook

Our Monte Rocking Chair arrived yesterday, so I HAD to go to Ikea to pick up the Ribba picture ledges for our reading nook.

Here it is, all set up:


I love it! Can't wait for Baby Jack to arrive so we can put it to good use.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Zander's Laundry Adventures

Ever since he was a kitten Zander has been a curious cat, getting into everything - the fridge, boxes, bags, drawers, bathtub, sinks, the list goes on. He has a special place in his heart for the laundry though. He doesn't hesitate to jump right in and help, quite literally.

The washing machine as a kitten:



IN my ironing:


And most recently, guarding the dryer:



Adorable, right???

Friday, November 2, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Starbucks RED CUPS are back for the season!

This day is a big one for me each year, when I simply enjoy the holiday season and look forward to the Christmas shopping, holiday music, decorating and family time that will soon begin.

Can a Peppermint Mocha in a red cup really bring that much joy?

Yes. Yes it can.
First Red Cup 2011 & 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!!

I hope everyone is eating too much chocolate and enjoyed the Trick-or-Treaters tonight! I for one am missing Halloween in Cabbagetown, which is unlike anywhere else I've seen. The first year I experienced the madness I had 200+ pieces of candy and ran out in less than 20 minutes - and we were being stingy, giving out only one piece per child! The neighbours had a good laugh at our naïveté.

The next year, we came prepared. Everyone in the house contributed candy and Cam and I made a serious investment in the night. We also bought suckers to keep count. Four bags of 250, with the intention of giving each child a lollipop along with their other candy, to estimate the number of people who came by. Yes, we bought 1000 suckers, you read that right.

Lucky that we did too, because after hours of sitting on our front porch, we opened the fourth bag of suckers. We didn't get far into it before the Trick-or-Treaters got older, dwindled off and we called it a night. It was quite the experience and a fun community memory I won't soon forget. We had an incredible 750+ kids visit us that night! 

While there is no trick or treating in our condo building, we did get a chance to dress up for a friend's annual Halloween party this weekend. Cam was Duff Man and I played up the growing belly (8 months!!) as a pregnant zombie: 







Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween Treats: Cookie Monster Platter


Once again I made my holiday-themed sugar cookies flooded with royal icing. See the tutorial here, with a bonus photo of last year's Halloween Spider Web cookies.

What made these impressive was the presentation - a Cookie Monster platter!

The Cookie Monster above is a small pumpkin carved and painted black on the inside and blue on the outside. The paint was acrylic craft paint from the dollar store and worked really well. The eyes are made of small Styrofoam balls coloured with a black Sharpie marker.

Since Cam kindly carved and painted the pumpkin while I was napping (I blame pregnancy) the same day we were to bring it to a party, the paint wasn't 100% dry on the inside, so I advise making this a day ahead of time. As a solution, I put saran wrap down to protect the cookies from touching any paint and avoided sticking the cookie into his mouth too far.


Our Cookie Monster was a hit at the party! 

I also made these fun vampire teeth cookie sandwiches which are made of a chocolate chip cookie, red icing, mini-marshmallows and almond fangs: 



The sugar cookies: 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nursery Fabric

Remember this summer when I ended up ordering fabric online because the selection in Toronto was horrible? I knew what I wanted and wouldn't settle for less. Well, as I'm about to reveal piece by piece all the fun nursery projects I've been working on for the past few months, I thought I'd share what fabric I ended up getting. I was so excited to get it in the mail, I ripped it open immediately and texted a photo to Cam, who I'm sure was much less excited.



And more recently, I picked up 2 meters of this fun fabric from Ikea:


I also picked up some cotton flannel to coordinate with the chevron fabric in white, navy blue and bright blue for one of the more challenging projects I took on, which I'll share in another post.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bridal Shower Pull Apart Cupcake Cake Tutorial

A surprise Wedding Wednesday post! This time it's not about my wedding, but a friend's wedding.

I was asked by the Mother of the Bride to provide the cake for the Bridal Shower. I'm always looking for reasons to bake and as an eager Bridesmaid I was happy to contribute.

The shower was out of town, so I needed something that would be easy to transport, easy to serve, and nice enough looking to pass as semi-professional.

After doing a little bit of research, I decided on something new - a pull-apart cupcake cake in the shape of a wedding dress!



The online tutorials for pull-apart cakes were simple. Bake cupcakes, arrange them in the desired shape, cover in icing, and decorate. So off to Michaels I went for a cake box, board, and inspiration. While I was there I found the strings of pearls and the cute pendant. I was originally thinking of using a ribbon, but I think the pearls look much better.

I baked some lemon cupcakes and began to arrange them into the shape of a dress. I placed them on the cake board, to make sure I wasn't making the cake too big. It was a trial-and-error puzzle, which fascinated Cam. I'll be honest, I was struggling to get it just right and he took over, started from scratch, and came up with this:


From there, I used a dab of icing to "glue" each cupcake in place. This was important, otherwise the cupcakes would slide around during decorating and transport.

I then used a 1M tip to create the flowers on each cupcake, starting from the middle of each cupcake and working my way out:
The key here was creating overlap between cupcakes, so the whole "cake" was covered. Mom was helpful here in pointing out the open spaces, which we filled with icing.

Finally, we added the pearls and pendant embellishment (which, with a good wash could be used again or placed on a necklace). Although you can't see them in the photo, I also used small Sugar Pearls and Pearl Dust to give the dress some subtle sparkle.

And voila! A simple bridal shower cake that was easy to transport and still had some wow-factor. Plus, there was no need for cutting or serving utensils since guests could grab the bottom of a cupcake and pull it from the cake for a single serving.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rice Krispy Pumpkins

The problem with Pinterest is that it seems most pins are professionally photographed and staged, looking beautiful and creative but still so easy that it tempts you to try to DIY it yourself. Like these:

Source: Pinterest
Source: Pinterest
Source: Pinterest
Which leads me to my attempt, which I like to call "good enough". I hate tootsie rolls and didn't have any, so I tried to use brown rice krispy mixture. That was a bit of a fail. I can admit when I go wrong, and the tootsie roll stem really is a better choice.


Oh well, mine were delicious anyway. You can't really screw up Rice Krispy treats!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Hunt: Perfect Nursery Chair

Finding the perfect nursery chair has turned out to be one of the hardest parts of putting together Baby Jack's nursery. We have been actively researching, browsing and trying out chairs, rockers and gliders for months.

We finally made a decision and ordered one!

I could show which one we picked, but what fun would that be? Instead, you'll have to first scroll through the many chairs that ultimately didn't make the cut. Bear with me, it'll be a long journey.

Our criteria: it had to be comfortable, stylish/modern, small enough to fit nicely in the room and rock or glide. I knew I didn't want a traditional rocking chair - the Dutailier ones that are widely available at a great price at Walmart or Toys R Us - it just isn't my style (and it would be too easy, right?).

Since we had decided on the Babyletto crib and dresser/change table, my first instinct was to buy the complete package including this Babyletto glider:
Babyletto Kyoto Glider
Trying it out in store, we weren't so impressed with it. It was okay, but was bulky/large looking and we weren't sold on it. That's fine, we have time, "let's keep looking", we said.

We loved a Dear Born Baby rocking chair / recliner that was so incredibly comfortable. It was plush, soft, and had a remote control to recline. A remote control! So if baby fell asleep, you could recline and fall asleep yourself without disturbing him. I can't find a photo, but it looked something like this (without the manual recline bar):  

Rocker from Dear Born Baby
 On the comfiness factor alone, we were sold. Unfortunately the chair itself was huge and in full recline, would have taken up 70% of the room. The fabric choices were also disappointing, so it just wasn't going to happen.

Babyletto also makes the Nara Glider, but wouldn't that cushion overhang drive you nuts? Or is it just me?

Babyletto Nara Glider
Periodically through our hunt IKEA would inevitably be brought into the discussion. This classic rocker is small and affordable, but in no way did we seriously consider it.

IKEA Poang
Don't get me wrong, we love IKEA, but we were looking to make a little more investment in this piece of furniture.

EQ3 recently opened in Liberty Village and we wandered in one afternoon to see if they had any options and we found this stylish, fun and unique rocker:
EQ3 James Rocker
It was small and simple. It would be a conversation piece. Something I could see staying in a child's room through their teenage years. And it came in Orange. Orange being one of our accent colours, we really liked the idea of a statement piece - something fun and bright to liven up the nursery. The rest of our furniture has been black, brown, grey - we play it safe. This was a risk we were willing to take.

Honestly, we were sold on this one for awhile. Sitting it in, it was comfortable. I was a bit awkward getting up and down and rocking, but Cam assured me this was "user error" and I needed to get used to it, since he was fine in it.

Unfortunately, the width and depth of the chair was just a bit large for the room, and would not have fit well. We decided this wasn't our chair.

Hoping to still get something in the Orange EQ3 fabric, we considered this more traditional swivel glider:
Around the same time, we discovered Monte chairs, a Toronto-based company that makes the kinds of rockers / gliders we had been looking for. These two were on my list of options for awhile, and I liked the winged look of the one on the right:

Left: Monte Luca Glider Right: Monte Vola Glider
Unfortunately they were still big and bulky looking. Although they would fit (barely), they would take up a presence in the room that I wasn't convinced on.

Size and presence in the room become important to me, which is when I discovered the classic Eames Rocking Chair and several very affordably priced knock-offs:
Eames Moulded Plastic Rocker
It had a small footprint and the open bottom really limited the space the chair took up visually. It comes in bright colours! Could we have our chair? Absolutely not. My mom said it looked like a school chair and Cam refused to even consider anything plastic. This idea was shot down real quick.

For awhile we seriously talked about if we even needed a chair. We were ready to give up on our hunt. We also have a regular slipper chair that I offered to recover to match the nursery.

But then, we found a chair that met all of our criteria. It is small, doesn't take up a lot of space visually, stylish, and comes in orange. Most importantly, we both agreed on it. And so, finally, our chair:

Monte Joya Rocker
 It'll take 6-8 weeks to deliver (just in time for baby!) and I can't wait to see it in our nursery!! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

The iPhone 5 - It's Here!

It's here!!

Ever since my iPhone 4 was stolen this Spring I have been looking forward to the anticipated and then scheduled launch of the iPhone 5. Going back to the 3G was painful, but since my other option was to pay $400 + to buy back my phone (or someone else's phone) from Craigslist, I opted to wait it out and put that money towards this beauty:


So now that it's here, what am I looking forward to the most? Social Media.

Not being able to open facebook or twitter on my phone (its just too much for the poor 3G to handle) and not being able to take a decent photo (IF the camera loaded, it was a 5-10 second lag between pressing the button and the photo being captured) has really impacted the way I interact online. I've even started blogging less, because it's been too difficult to capture photos of my projects and the world around me. And what's a blog without photos? Don't even get me started on Instagram, which I had to give up months ago.

Beyond that, having a working iPhone will mean I can be productive on the go - syncing calendars and multiple email accounts, downloading and using clever apps and having my Kobo library with me even when my Kobo Vox isn't.

The ability to google something while out has been something I missed terribly.

And no more asking Cam... "Hey, can I borrow your phone?"  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fabric Hunt Update

After visiting all the fabric stores on Queen St West between Spadina and Bathurst, I can honestly say there are a LOT of ugly fabrics out there. An unreasonable amount. What are people making with this stuff??

I mean a multicolored print that lists the symptoms of pregnancy? Yeah, make me a pillow! Not.

It was a disappointing day, but I realized I'm already set on the fabric I want. The only way I'll get exactly what I'm looking for is to order it online.

So after searching, this is what I've found:



The top left and bottom two fabrics are from Birch Fabric's Mod Basics collection while the blue chevron is from Premier Prints.

So what do you think of my fabric choices? Are you excited to see how we decorate the nursery?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Nursery Fabric Hunt

Today, I head to Toronto's fabric/garment/fashion district on a mission to find the perfect nursery fabric.

I have a lot of inspiration for the nursery decor and am anxious to get started on it. We've decided on grey/blue/orange as a colour scheme. Easy enough?

Do you know how many different colours of blue exist in this world?? Baby blue, turquoise, aqua, grey-blue, bright blue, sky blue, royal blue... and don't even get me started on the oranges, which range from brightly neon to a burnt orange and everything in between. *sigh*

Our inspiration photo we keep coming back to is this one:

From Pinterest
Since the perfect fabric is harder to find than a coordinating paint colour, I've decided to start the process with the fabric search for curtains, crib sheets and change pad covers.

Ideally, I'd like to find a blue chevron fabric like in the photo and an elephant fabric in blue or orange, like these:
Source
 Wish me luck on my search today!! I'm off...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Blinds, Finally!

After living in our condo a year and a half we have finally put up blinds!

Our condo has floor to ceiling windows and I've loved all the natural light that comes in. Since we face north and slightly east glare and direct sun haven't been an issue. Unfortunately, we also face a building that is also entirely made of glass windows. Not so good for privacy. With baby on the way, it was time to do something about it.

Months ago I narrowed it down to panel blinds on a sliding track. A local store quoted us about $1000 + installation to do it. The ready-to-purchase options from Sears and similar stores were ugly not our style and the standard lengths were often too short for our tall window.

Although we've been fighting the IKEA urge pretty well recently, we gave in on this one and went with the KVARTAL track system, three piece Flyn Jorun grey panels (which I can no longer find on the site to link to), and two plain white panels.

And here's how it turned out:


I like the subtle pattern in the grey panels, and that they are sheer enough to still let some light in.


The benefit of the panel / track system is that the panels tuck behind each other nicely when we want to leave them open.


At night, they give us the privacy we need.

Success! And for much less than the $1000 price tag we were originally quoted. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Baby's Gender Reveal!

Cam and I always knew we'd find out the gender of our child as soon as we could. I'm Mrs. Curious who can't handle not knowing and he's a planner who needs to look forward to and plan things.

When we found out we were expecting, Cam suggested a Gender Reveal Party - something a friend of the family had done for her pregnancy. This is a new trend that is becoming more and more popular, so luckily for me I had plenty of inspiration on Pinterest to help me wrap my head around the idea.

The party theme was "Team Pink / Team Blue".

The focus of the party was the gorgeous cake created by Half-Baked Ideas here in Toronto. The icing on the inside would reveal the big surprise - Boy or Girl?

I can't believe what a great job they did. We had no input into the design, and wow did they ever surprise us! We loved it and it was so well made we almost didn't want to cut into it.

Side note: After some pretty funny debate, it was decided it would most appropriate for us to make the first cut at the bottom of the onesie - essentially revealing the "genitals" area.  

Upon arrival, guests were invited to wear their guess and pick a team of pink or blue using these adorable mini-pins from Paging Supermom's Etsy Shop:

 
Source: Paging Supermom's Etsy Shop
 The food table was set up with some of my pregnancy cravings - flavoured popcorn, fruit, cheese. Other cravings like salt and vinegar kettle chips and sweets were served around the condo.


We served non-alcoholic blue or pink punch with the option of spiking it with rum or sparking wine.


So how did the teams stack up? Pretty evenly actually! This was surprising as all along everyone we spoke to - close friends, co-workers and even strangers said we were having a boy. I had some support from our Moms on Team Girl though.
Team Pink!

Team Blue!

Finally, it was time to cut the cake. I was so nervous and full of anticipation once I got that knife in my hand!


Baby Steed is a Boy!!

Here's a video of the cake cutting, reactions & revealing of Baby's name: