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?"