Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Princess Elsa Cake: All the Details!

As mentioned in my previous post, the best aspect of the party (in our opinion!) was the cake I made. This was my first time ever making a cake and for some insane reason I decided to have my first cake experience the night before their party. At 2am Saturday night I was wondering why in the world I decided to do this. In the end it turned out better than I expected and it was definitely a hit. My greatest compliment was that it looked professional. The one that meant the most was Ellie's. At bedtime I asked Ellie her favorite part of the day and her response was, "The cake!"

I had gotten the idea from my friend Melanie who made an Ariel cake for her daughter last year. She bakes cakes all the time and told me how easy it was.....needless to say it was difficult for me being a novice. Prior to Saturday night I watched lots of You Tube videos, read about the cake making process online, and purchased all of my supplies. I also had never experimented much with Wilton decorating accessories so this was another thing I had to learn while making the cake. By the second batch of icing I had it down.

My friend had mentioned her cake wasn't tall enough for the Ariel doll she used so I baked an additional 8" cake to place below the princess mold. Wilton sells this Wonder Mold Set. It includes a plastic barbie-like head, which I replaced with an Elsa doll and wrapped her legs with Saran wrap as other reviews had mentioned. My greatest struggle with the cake was removing it from the pans as I feared it would all fall apart. After reading online I wrapped both of the pans with Saran wrap and aluminum foil and put them in the freezer hoping for the best. I woke at 5:30 (yes, only 3.5 hours of sleep). I crossed my fingers that the cakes would come out in one piece and they did! Thank goodness. I was so happy and so relieved.

The next part was the icing. I used this buttercream recipe and highly recommend it. I had ordered these gel icing colors from Amazon and, again, it was my first time making icing and decorating. I had to make so much icing. Thankfully my Kitchen Aid mixer works so well and my arms wouldn't have lasted if I had to use a hand mixer! The one pain was that the butter kept sticking inside the whisk and I had to use a knife each time to get it out after mixing. I wonder if there is a little trick I should know about... The key step in the icing is to make sure you invest in a really good vanilla (my friend suggested this). I bought one from Williams Sonoma and I really think it makes a difference. After making the buttercream each time I transferred it to a bowl and added the gel. I misunderstood the directions when it said the color would be darker on the cake than in the icing (if that makes sense). Then, again I was also a little out of it from lack of sleep and the stress of getting it done. My icing was a light aqua and for some reason I thought it would show up darker as I decorated it. Well, it did not so Elsa had a light aqua dress. As my friend Melanie said, the kids won't even notice and she was right. No one even pointed it out. Seriously, I think they were more fixated on Elsa and her big beautiful dress made of cake!

As mentioned, I wrapped Elsa's legs in Saran wrap and after removing the metal pole in the center of the dome I stuck her in there. She was, in fact, too tall for the cake so I started with the 8" cake. I added a layer of white buttercream icing (no gel), then layered the dome cake on top. I pushed Elsa all the way down into both cakes and it was perfect.

I used this recommended technique (Glorious Treats) of putting the bag into a glass and folding down the sides to scoop in the icing, then bringing the sides of the bag back up. It worked perfectly. It took a few vertical lines on the cake to figure how the best way and I was able to fill in the imperfections afterwards. I also covered the Saran wrap above with the icing to conceal it. I had to do two double batches and was able to match the second batch of icing perfectly. After finishing the cake I had to make an additional double batch of icing to ice the 24 cupcakes I had also made the night before. I kept half the white and half blue. The blue came out the color of Elsa's dress and I topped with silver sprinkles and snowflakes. Perfect for the theme of Frozen.

I had to teach myself how to use the icing tip. I used decorating bags and cut the end off to fit the Wilton icing tip. I also bought couplers, but I didn't have the correct size. The tip I chose was a large tip, open star (Wilton 1M). I also bought decorating bags. At first the icing wasn't sticking to the bottom 8" layer, but I managed to get it on there once I had the technique down.

I'm glad I decided to make two dozen cupcakes because there was only one left after the party. Everyone commented how delicious the cake and cupcakes were and it was definitely the buttercream icing. The cake stayed moist (the freezer actually helps). I used Betty Crocker chocolate for the cakes and cupcakes. Maybe one day soon I will try to make my own cake recipe (now that I know what to expect)! After all the time, effort, stress and anxiety over making the Elsa cake it was still rewarding since it came out so well and I really enjoyed it. I love party planning and I love doing things to see the smiles on my daughters faces. Ellie lit up when she saw her Elsa cake and was so excited. I know I will be making another princess cake in the future!

 I think Ellie is thinking about eating the cake!
// Back view of cake //
 And, here is Summer ready to blow out her candle!

The Inside:
I'm still thinking about this cake and how delicious it was!

I also want to note the pink cake stand I used. I bought it from Design Darling (also mentioned here) and knew that I would get a lot of use out of it having two girls. 

Also, a huge thank you to my friend for all the encouragement along the way and to Glory at Glorious Treats. The buttercream icing was amazing and the step by step instructions were so helpful. Not to mention, her cupcake pictures are gorgeous!

One more look! 

** This is not a sponsored post. I just loved these products and wanted to share! Affiliate links are included in this post.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ellie Turns 4 + Summer Turns 2: Frozen Birthday Party!

We celebrated the girls birthdays on Sunday. Ellie turned 4 on April 12th and Summer will be 2 on May 5th. We decided to have a joint party while they are still young and can do it! Initially Ellie told me she wanted a Snow White party, but a few weeks ago she changed it to a Frozen party. That worked for me since there are a lot more options and decorations for Frozen right now since it is so popular. 

I ordered a few decorations and a game from Amazon, bought pink sparkle silverware and a pinata from Target, and used the balloon wreath on the front door I made last year. The big surprise was the Princess Elsa cake I made. It was such an ordeal and came out great that I am writing its own separate post! This year I wanted to focus less on the theme and more on the food and dessert. I thought about making a tissue tassel garland, but I didn't have the time so I skipped it this year. My husband will help out with errands, but it was really just me doing the party planning, shopping, menu, cooking and baking, and setting up. It is a lot of work, but I love it. And, my husband was very appreciative of all that I did for the girls party. 

Here are some party photos!
Ellie wearing outfit number 1. She loved the cape on this dress and felt like a true princess. She changed into 3 different outfits during the course of the party. She was Ariel for a while, then changed into another Elsa dress for cake.

I included this photo of Ellie and her cousin, Maeve, meeting Elsa and Anna at the Shore last summer on vacation. We also had Honest juices and water on ice outside. Beer, too. I was so busy I forgot to put out the wine I had chilled in the fridge!
 This was such a cute game that the kids loved! It included 8 sticker noses and a blindfold.
 Snowman Making Station
This was a cute idea I found on Pinterest (most were used as favors). The girls made one after the party, but all the kids were so busy playing that they didn't make one. I liked the idea though!
On the menu:
Sandwiches (ordered)
Pasta Veggie Salad (made by my Mom)
Pretzel Bites (a kid favorite)
Avocado, Tomato, Feta Dip
Homemade cupcakes
Princess Cake
The Crockpot Spinach Artichoke Dip was amazing! I had pinned it a while back and finally had a chance to make it. It was such a hit and I highly recommend it. There was minimal prep time and it cooked for about 2 hours. I served it with fresh French bread and tortilla chips.

I chose the pull string so Summer and the little kids could participate this year. I filled it with candy, lollipops, bubbles and fruit snacks.

The weather was perfect and we had such a fun afternoon with our families celebrating these two little girls!

Here is a photo of the cake I made. Details coming tomorrow!

Take a look back!

** Affiliate links are included in this post.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Easter Weekend + Easter Crafts

I'm a week late with my Easter recap and I had started writing it, but never finished. I still wanted to post it. It's a long post, too, with lots of pictures!

The girls and I have been doing Easter crafts for the past few weeks and decorated the house. My favorite decoration this year was this Easter centerpiece. Thanks to Pinterest for the super creative idea! We also did a few other crafts (below).
Jelly Beans / Easter Grass / Peeps / Tulips
 Washi Tape Egg
 Painting Eggs
 Dyeing Eggs

A couple weekends ago Ellie's school had an Easter event. It was very well planned and organized. There were crafts, decorating cookies, games and egg hunts according to ages. Both Summer and Ellie participated and loved it! 

Saturday we went to another one at the playground we frequent. The girls had a blast and saw the Easter bunny. Ellie loves him and happily smiles for a picture. Summer, again, wanted nothing to do with him up close, but this time she reached in her basket for pieces of candy and tossed it to the bunny. It was so funny. It was nice of her to share, and such a funny idea.

Saturday night my parents hosted Easter dinner since we were all unable to be together on Sunday. My parents just returned from a week long vacation in England so it was great seeing them (we missed them!) and hearing about their trip. My parents always make the best homemade dinners. Afterwards my brother hid about 100 eggs in their backyard. The cousins had so much fun looking for them, then eating some of the candy. 
Love their matching dresses!
 Summer couldn't wait to eat that chocolate!

The Easter Bunny stopped at our house Saturday night. Ellie told us he would be here "when it's very, very dark out and the owls are out." He filled the girls baskets and left a new pink fridge for the girls kitchen. He taped on a pink bow with bunny ears. He also hid 22 eggs (10 for each filled with chocolate plus 2 gold eggs filled with money).

The girls were so excited and all smiles this morning! After they sorted through their baskets and found the eggs we made bunny pancakes. I saw this idea on Instagram and we made pancakes as we usually do and I cut them to make the bunny.
Tablecloth & paper cups via Target

Ellie, unfortunately, wasn't feeling well. She had a fever last night, then threw up once (but not again). She skipped breakfast, took a long nap and felt much better by dinner time. We still made it to my in laws for dinner. While Nick and Ellie napped Summer and I made these adorable chocolate peeps, wrapped them in a bag with a cute bow, and used these free printables. We dropped them off to our neighbors in the evening. It was a nice way to end our Easter weekend.

I made this side dish and it was very popular.
Asparagus Bundles
 I omitted the puff pastry to keep it a lighter dish. I also used Prosciutto instead of Pancetta. It will definitely be a dish I make again. It was delicious and so easy!

I love how Ellie always has her arm around her little sister. Summer is just too cute for words. I love these girls! It was such a fun, memorable weekend!

Easter, 2015