Friday, March 23, 2012

Hand Rolled Cake Pops Recipe Review

Today is my daughter's last day of winter session preschool. I signed up to bring mini-cup cakes but my daughter asked me to make cake pops. Since I refused to attempt cake pops for her birthday, I decided to honer her request this time and attempt cake pops.

I went to my local retail store and looked for a cake pop pan. I found that a cake pop pan for 12 pops was $12. Since I have to make 24 cake pops, I realized that it would be a long process or it would mean $24 for the pans. Then, I priced the electronic cake pop maker. For $20, I could get a countertop electronic cake pop maker that produces 6 cake pops every 10 minutes. I almost purchased this electronic unit. 

I took a quick google search, on my smart phone, to look for a cake pop recipe. I found a recipe for hand rolled cake pops at . I immediately put the electronic cake pop maker back and spent $8 on the ingredients to make hand rolled cake pops, including sticks. 

Little did I know that my journey was just beginning. First, making the cake part is inexpensive and simple enough. I have to say that I used a boxed cake mix and not the recommended cake recipe found in the link I provided. I didn't have the time to make a scratch cake.

The candy coating was another world of problems. First, I purchased chocolate chips and not bark. I didn't want to spend too much money. Well, this chip choices was both good and bad because it was an inexpensive learning experience and the white chocolate I burned was an cheap loss. 

Next, I don't own a double boiler. I had stainless steel mixing bowl I stuck in a small pot and created my own double boiler. This method was unable to keep the chocolate at an even temp and I was unable to roll my pops evenly. I tried microwaving the white chocolate and it burned. Luckily, I had only paid $2 for white chocolate chips and didn't waste too much money. 

Since I didn't want to bring ugly cake pops to the preschool party, I had to search the web for the electronic candy melting pot. I found that Joann has a sale and I picked up the Wilton Chocolate Melting Pot for $20. Then, I had to go find white chocolate bark. I went to Vons and found white chocolate for baking. It was $7 for two bars. I needed three bars. 

Here I am trying not to spend a fortune and I have already spent $28 for about thirty three cake pops. Add the white chocolate, and I spent about $38 for thirty three cake pops. The real cost for giving out cake pops is actually only $18 because I get to keep the Chocolate Melting Pot for future use. Still, I read the recipe and figured $10 max. I was wrong. This was a time investment and a bit costly. 

What I end up with is actually good after investing in the melting pot. You can see that the double boiler produced unattractive cake pops. The melting pot made it so much easier to coat the pops and make the pops stay round. 

As for working with the cake, I am not impressed. The cake pops are slippery on the cake stick. Since the cream cheese and butter mix with the cake, you end up with little slippery balls on the plastic sticks. The cake itself tastes really rich but good. I have had high end cake pops. This recipe is different. The inside tastes more like cross between cake and fudge. 

I originally thought I wouldn't use this recipe again because I didn't like the consistency of the cake. However, after I let the cake pops sit at room temp for about 3 hours, I liked them much better than when I tried one cold. I must note, out of fairness, that I only tried them later on after the preschool event because these pops were the only food at the event that was all eaten up. I had saved my husband 5 white cake pops and took one when I got home from the event. The one I took from my husband's stock was very good and not being cold made all the difference.

In the end, These cake pops were a crowd pleaser and my daughter loves them!!

As an update, I have discovered that I can improve this recipe by: 
  1. Using an extra egg in the cake recipe and using milk instead of water when making the cake. I watched a youtube video and saw a mom read a tip from a cake pop book suggesting that the cake mix will firm up with the additional egg and milk. 
  2. Adding extra cake to the recommended proportion of cream cheese and butter 
  3. Using a cake pop mold to make my pops perfectly round. I found a cake pop mold at The Ally for $2 and will use this mold next time I make these cake pops. 
  4. placing a bit of candy on the end of the stick before I puncture my cake pop and before dipping the pop in the melted candy. I saw this tip in a you tub instructional video. 
  5. I am considering using the scratch cake recipe in the original link provided above. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Upcycle T-Shirt Dress Tutorial

This tutorial explains how to take a boys character shirt and transform it into a girl's dress.

Things you will need:
1. A character shirt that is one to two sizes larger than your girl's typical clothing size. You want a larger shirt because a dress is typically wider than a girl's shirt.
3. Sewing machine
4. Contrasting fabrics: decide which two fabrics you want to use for the bottom of your dress.
5. Pins

Starting with the original boys t-shirt, remove both the sleeves by cutting on the inside of the sleeve seam.

Next, remove the hem. I simply cut the hem off my garment. I made my cut directly above the stitching.

Next, measure the bottom width of your shirt. Let's say my shirt was 30 inches in width. I decided to add 20 inches to my width. I added those inches by cutting my front and back pieces, of each tier, 25 inches wide. I made the bottom tier 8 inches long and the top tier 4 inches in height. Therefore, I cut two pieces of zebra fabric measuring 8 x 25 inches and two pieces of solid black measuring 4 x 25 inches.

After I was finished cutting my tier pieces, I sewed the front and back sides of the tiers together.

I did not choose to make one long 50 inch piece of each fabric because I didn't want the joining seam in the middle of the back of the dress. I chose to make two pieces and join the pieces on either side in order to create seams on both sides of the garment.

Next, each tier needs to be gathered at the top. Gather the tops of the tiers by taking each top and sewing a straight stitch, set at the stitch length 5, across the length of the top of the tier.

Gather your tiers so that each tier has a width that matches the width of the bottom of your character shirt. 

Lay the top tier over the bottom tier and then baste stitch these two tiers together. Be careful to insure the top edges of the gathered fabric are not twisted and bunched under. Make sure your top edges remain fresh on top of your basting stitch.

After your tiers are basted together, turn them inside out. Next, place the character shirt  bottom inside your tiers so that the right side of the character shirt is up against the right side of your upper tier. The wrong side of the bottom tier should be facing you.

Next, pin the garment together, ensuring that the top edges of the gathered skirt are fresh on top. Also, make sure to start pinning at the seams of each side of the tier skirt. You want to ensure your sides line up at the side of the character shirt.

When working with gathered skirts, I go pin crazy at first. I want all my edges to make it into my serger without sticking out the other side of the garment and forcing me to seam rip out areas to get the edges into the sewing machine. So, you should start out by doing a lot of pinning.

However, when it comes to sewing, to get started serging your garment, you will have to remove a few pins to get the seam area into the serger.

Your finished seam should look like the photo I have included. You will end up with a successfully attached tier skirt.

Next, measure the width of your arm holes. My arm holes were 13 inches in circumference.  I used fold over elastic and just capped the edges of my sleeve holes. I know most people don't make potty training pants and don't keep fold over elastic at home. If you don't have fold over elastic, go ahead and make yourself some bias tape or purchase bias tape at your local fabric store.

You can cap the edges of the raw sleeves with bias tape. Then, sew the bias or FOE onto your arm hole.

Ta Da! You have your upcycled character shirt.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Magic of Circles

This was my daughter's second birthday cake. Her first character crush was Elmo. Since her official birthday fell on a date we hadn't scheduled the the party, I whipped up a cake in the shape of her favorite character.
This cake is simply one circle cake, two full cup cakes and one cup cake top.

I simply set the two cup cakes on top of the circle cake. The eye can be held close to the cake with two chop sticks or skewers. Since we didn't have to move this cake, I didn't use reinforcements.

I started decorating with the mouth and the pupils (thus starting with black). My next color was red. My third color was white, around the eyes. Finally, I cut the top off a cup cake and positioned it where you see the nose in the photo. There is frosting underneath the nose, as the frosting helps makes the cup cake top nose stick to the eyes and the face. Finally, I frosted the nose in Orange.

My daughter was so happy. This is an easy pleasing cake for any two year old!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hello Kitty Summer Dress

My daughter just hit the age of Hello Kitty. Anticipating the Hello Kitty craze, I has purchased some Sanrio fabric over a year ago and had the fabric sitting on the shelf waiting for my daughter. Sunday afternoon seemed like the perfect rainy day to make my girl a summer dress with the Sanrio fabric.

I have a previous post on how I made this dress pattern from a tank top. For an explanation on how to approach a simple tank dress such as the Hello Kitty dress in this photo, please click on my DIY Summer Tier Dress post. In that post, I gave step by step instructions on how to make this type of dress.

In this latest dress, I added some new flair. I made my own cotton jersey bias tape and trimmed the top with black. Also, my bias tape is done in two pieces. The chest has one piece of bias and the back, including the straps, are all one piece of bias tape.

The skirted bottom on this dress is a different approach from the DIY summer tank dress. These bottom tiers were cut from the skirted bottom of a simplicity dress. These tiers are not straight rectangular pieces of fabric, as was the case with the DIY dress. These tiers have an arc shaped pattern and a diagonal edge cut in order to produce the bell shape.

I am not completely satisfied with this dress and consider this pattern a work in progress. In any case, this dress looks much cuter on my daughter than in these photos.

Friday, March 16, 2012

DIY Child Sherpa Lined Insoles Tutorial

I am an ebay shopper for children's seconds. Sometimes ebay purchases are a problem because the condition of the child's clothing (or shoes in the case) is not accurately described. This tutorial arose from just such a problem; I ordered a pair of fabric lined Crocs from a seller claiming the shoes were in Excellent Used Condition. I received shoes in trash condition. I wanted to keep the shoes because I needed a pair kick around shoes that can get dirty and don't require socks.

My first refresh on these shoes was to remake the insoles. The original insoles were lightly fabric coated. The shoes arrived with the fabric coating completely worn off and the insoles hard as rocks. I solved the problem and improved the product.

This tutorial is a post hoc production. The photos are taken using examples of the exact sole I made.

Things you will need:
1. cotton sherpa or any kind of fabric used to line the raw insole.
2. air foam insoles, these are adult size and very inexpensive
3. a cutting devise
4. adhesive spray or glue gun
5. old insoles from your child's shoes
6. sewing machine with zig zag stitch
7. thread

First, I used a pair of air foam insoles. These insoles cost $2. Next, I used the old insoles to cut the pattern of the new insoles. Simply lay the old insole over the new adults size insole. Then, cut the child size insole to match the shape.
You end up with a new child size insole.

This photo is of the insole after I cut out the child's size shape I needed. Again, this is a post hoc tutorial and I hope the reader understands that the old insole was laid upon the top of the new insole and then I made the cut that produced the photo.

Next, you will need some cotton sherpa fabric. Really, you could use any fabric. In this case, I used cotton sherpa fabric that I had laying around from making potty training panties.

Lay the new insole on top of the cotton sherpa and cut the sherpa into the shape of the insole. Make sure you cut the sherpa while the fabric is laying right side up. In so doing, you will ensure the looped sherpa side of the fabric will be against the child's foot.

 The photo on the left is an example, as I already made my insoles and put them in the shoes before creating this tutorial. In this photo, you see I have laid the insole on top of the sherpa to cut my needed shape.

The product: You end up with your insole and your sherpa in the same shape.

Next, you will need to grab your adhesive spray.

Turn the cotton sherpa over to the wrong side and spray a bit of adhesive on the wrong side of the cotton sherpa fabric. This spray does not need to be exact but it does need to be in the center away from the edges. I do not sew on something with adhesive directly under my needle because the adhesive goo can stick to the sewing needle, creating a mess and sewing machine problems.

After applying adhesive, place the top of the insole onto the bottom of the sprayed cotton sherpa and press down firmly. You end up with the cotton sherpa stuck to your insole. This process will keep the sherpa stuck in the correct position while you sew the edges of the sherpa to the insole.

It is best to sew the edges onto the insole because the moisture from the feet, inside the shoes, can loosen the adhesive leaving the sherpa free to move around under the feet during use. This is not our desired goal and sewing is needed to seal the deal.

Place the edge of the insole, sherpa side up, under your presser foot with the machine set to zig zag stitch. Sew the entire edge of your insole with the zig zag stitch.

You end up with a new sherpa lined insole in child size.

The cotton sherpa lined insole, as photographed, refreshed these otherwise throw away shoes. Making your own cotton sherpa insoles can be done to replace ugg boot insoles as well.

In my case, I was taking a product that was not usable and making it work. Now, I have a pair of crocs my daughter can use for the beach or other events with lots of dirt or sand while needing good thick shoes without socks.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lined Long Sleeve Kimono Dress

I just wanted to post my latest Kimono dress. This dress is already sold through my etsy shop but it's precious and has to get a photo in my blog.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Years ago I picked up a magazine with the photo of the muffin body on the left. I was immediately taken by the logic. I thought "if I eat a muffin, will I really look like a muffin?" So, I used that logic and made an apple. If I eat an apple, will I really look like an apple? If you eat one muffin, will you really wear it around your middle?