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Adventure Time Cake

Jakob was obsessed with Adventure Time when his 6th birthday rolled around* so of course I HAD to make him an Adventure Time-themed birthday cake. (The obsession lasted so long that he had 2 Adventure Time cakes AND Gunter-themed cupcakes for his birthday the following year as well!)

Step 1 was to make a fondant BMO. Luckily I’d already made myself a plastic canvas BMO that I could use for easy reference.

BMO was made out of white fondant tinted with gel colors, and had long toothpick inserted underneath while the fondant cube was still soft. After letting the pieces harden for a few days I drew on them with edible markers for the finer details.

I made the fondant toppers by tinting small amounts of fondant into the appropriate colors then cutting out scaled paper templates of each character. I used a fondant knife to trace and cut the appropriate sections of each color then adhered them with water and a clean food-only paintbrush. The last step was to draw on any fine details with the food markers. I then repeated the same process for the logo/sword, substituting Jakob’s name for the word “TIME” in the title.

I baked, stacked and decorated a cake to look like a lovely day in the land of Ooo then applied all the toppers (except BMO) to the sides of the cake, using the moisture of the fresh icing to adhere them. The pieces were juuuust soft enough to form slightly to the cake’s curves so they wouldn’t pop off.

Because of the weight factor, I waited until just before serving to add BMO on top and insert the number candle.

The cake was a hit, and totally mathematical!

Jakob’s other birthday cakes

*There was no homemade cake for Jakob’s 5th birthday as it was included with the party experience.

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Pixar CARS Cake

In 2011 Jakob was all about Pixar’s CARS. CARS toys, CARS books, even CARS bedsheets. So when he turned 4 that year, of course I had to make a CARS-themed cake.

Like most of my cakes, this one started with a sketch.

It was box-mix vanilla cake with pudding and egg add-ins, and vanilla icing between the layers. Except for the LEGO Piston Cup and candle, all toppers were handmade with white fondant that I tinted with gel colors.

The silver logo around Jakob’s name was made from black-tinted fondant and painted with silver luster dust mixed with a bit of vodka.

The top and back have a black & white checkered race flag, and the base of the cake is trimmed with icing. I was still learning how to properly prep a cake for fondant and you can see how lumpy the cake is, especially where it is starting to sag in the back. There are also a few cracks in the fondant in places.

The side decors were fun to make! Sally was the easiest- mostly blue fondant with black wheels, a white windshield/eyes and handpainted details. Lightning McQueen and Mater were a bit more involved, having more details to copy. To fill in the sides I also added Lightning’s number and the Rust-eze logo. All painting was done with gel colors mixed with Wilton White-White to be more opaque.

It was one of the first “figure” cakes I’d made and a different challenge than others I’d done at that point. I’m really happy with how it turned out, and the birthday boy loved it.

Jakob’s other birthday cakes

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Dinosaur Cake

Today’s quick post is a lesson in always tinting more icing than you think you’ll need!

For Jakob’s second 3rd birthday cake (the first being the Smarties one) I baked box mixes and cut them into shapes to stack and create this dinosaur cake. I believe this is the tutorial I’d followed in order to get the template pieces.

I’d been curious about decorating a cake with little icing stars like the ones you see at grocery stores, so decided to try it out using a star-shaped icing tip and store-bought icing that I tinted with gel colors.

As you can see from the image above, I ran out of the pale blue shade and mixed up a bit more to finish the back left leg… except I didn’t realize that I didn’t match it quite right!

The final touch was to make some spines out of blue fondant and insert them into the cake once they’d had a chance to harden.

Personally I feel he looks a bit more like a dragon than a dinosaur, but he was tasty and the birthday boy was happy so that’s all that matters!

Jakob’s other birthday cakes

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Number 3 Smarties Cake

Jakob’s 15th(!!!) birthday is coming up in a few weeks, so just as I’ve been doing for Henri, I’m going to countdown Jakob’s past birthday cakes.

Jakob’s first birthday cake was a simple homemade banana cake with an edible printed sheet.

I’ve never owned a food ink printer so I designed the image on my computer then brought it to a local restaurant supply store who offered the edible print service.

(I don’t have an image of the complete cake for some reason).

His second birthday pirate cake and pirate cupcakes were actually the first food tutorials I’ve posted on this blog. Which brings us to his third birthday. He had 2 cakes when he turned three, as he had both family and friends/daycare parties. For his family party I made this easy “number 3-shaped” cake.

All you need to do to create this cake is bake 2 round cakes. Mine were both 8″. One layer each will work, though if you want a higher cake you can tort and fill each cake so you have 2 layers.

Follow the instructions on the downloadable template above to create your shape. First cut and remove the center of each cake, leaving a ring-shape. Cut away a quarter of each ring, and then position the rings as a “3” to make it easier to see where to cut away the remining bit of cake. So that the cakes sit nicely together, remove a slice off the edge of each ring where the two cakes will touch, so the surfaces that touch are flat, not rounded. (Section 3 in the template).

Then all you need to do is ice and decorate your cake! I decided to keep the small inner cake sections and decorate them as well.

To make decorating super quick and easy, I used Smarties to cover each cake. The longest part of this was sorting the candy packages by color! Once I had them in individual bowls, the placement of each was pretty fast.

First I iced the cake (in my case, vanilla icing on a chocolate cake base), then covered it in the Smarties. I chose to place them in a gradient from darkest on the bottom to lightest on top, for an almost “sunrise”-looking effect.

One of the cake centers was iced and given candles for Jakob to blow out. He got to have this one for himself (and no one else got his germs from trying to blow on the candles!).

The other center was iced in a similar fashion to the main cake, using up the remaining Smarties. I believe we’d sent it home to a family member who’d been unable to attend.

Shaped cakes can be tricky but this one is really easy and looks great, and all it takes is 2 round cake layers, some icing and a bulk bag of candy.

It didn’t only look good- the birthday boy found it tasted finger-licking good too!

Jakob’s other birthday cakes


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DIY Twisted Sister Album Replica

Today I’m going to share the steps I took to create a prop replica of this Twisted Sister record album for a Becket stage show a few years ago:

We had done a skit routine to the song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” which was released 38 years ago today, on April 27th 1984. In addition to the skit requirements of tossing the record album around, in general props are often flung out of the way during quick set changes, and we didn’t want to take a chance on damaging an actual record, even if we’d owned one. Therefore I decided to make this stage-safe replica that I could easily re-make in case of damage or loss.

The basis of the record is a piece of stiff cardboard cut to size. Standard record albums are 7″, 10″ and 12″. Unfortunately the best piece of cardboard I had was only 11″ wide but since no one would be able to tell from the audience so I cut it into a square to use. The key was cardboard that would be thick enough to not bend or warp during the multiple rehearsals and performances. If your cardboard is too thin you can layer a few sheets together with glue.

To replicate the “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll” album, my next step was to paint the entire surface with black acrylic paint. I will be demonstrating the steps for this specific album but the same principles can be followed to recreate any required prop for theater or costume use. You can even copy your favorite albums for wall decor!

Many of my projects involve using templates and this one is no different! Once I’d chosen my cardboard I printed a copy of the record album to the appropriate scale.

Then I used the graphite trick of scribbling along the back of my image in order to transfer the design. These days I use carbon paper as I find it faster and easier, but pencils work well too.

With the back of the image covered in graphite (or with carbon paper underneath), I placed it into the correct spot and traced over all the lines. A stylus works great for this but you can just as easily use a pencil or ballpoint pen.

It’s hard to see the transferred image. I did play with the contrast to try and show it but it’s pretty faint.

Using the original album cover art for reference, I colored in the image with metallic markers and added highlights with a Derwent Drawing white pencil.

I used the same transfer method to add the album title…

…though this time I pushed a bit harder into the cardboard to give my marker ink borders. This can help contain a bit of the ink flow, if your markers are very runny. If you don’t have markers in the proper colors you can paint your album cover instead.

I had a close-enough color in my metallic markers so I used that for the band name and smaller lettering.

That’s it!

The final touch was a few coats of sealant for protection and then the album cover replica was complete!

This was a super easy and fast DIY that looks incredibly effective on stage, and because it was only cardboard and markers I didn’t have to add to our prop budget nor worry if it took some abuse and I had to remake it. That said, it was surprisingly sturdy and held up great through every rehearsal and all performances.

You can easily use the same steps to recreate any album for your own prop needs.

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World Creativity and Innovation Day

It’s World Creativity and Innovation Day so today’s post is a round-up of previous posts that I feel incorporated some outside-of-the-box thinking!

Ever need to transfer live stitches to waste yarn but can’t find your tapestry needle? No problem! Here’s an easy way to “knit” the live stitches over so you can keep working on your project.

If you find standard provisional cast-ons too difficult, here’s a super easy way to get your knitting started. No extra tools required!

Here’s a neat trick for making thin vines/ropes for use in decorating your cakes or cupcakes. They’re flexible, stretchable, and edible!

Here’s a hands-free way to hold your coloring books open!

Not getting the look you want with colored pencils in your adult coloring books? Here’s a great way to add more tooth to the paper.

Are your fondant balls/pearls coming out all different sizes? Here’s a super easy hack to get identical ones, every time!

Here’s a simple way to give a plain toy new life and make it work with your LEGO pieces.

Finally, for when you want to provide homemade, individual snacks, here’s a free & easy way to transport mini cupcakes by repurposing something you’ve probably already got on hand.


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Scrabble Cake for National Scrabble Day

Today is National Scrabble Day! Occurring annually on April 13, Scrabble Day celebrates the birthday of Scrabble’s inventor Alfred Mosher Butts.

I’m still working through my backlog of cakes and projects I’d never posted, and today is the perfect day to share this Scrabble-themed cake I made all the way back in 2012.

Unfortunately I hadn’t taken progress pics so this isn’t an actual tutorial, though I can talk through the basics. The bottom tier was a chocolate round, with an 8″ vanilla (I think) on top. Both layers were covered with icing then white fondant I’d tinted with gel colors.

The Scrabble board and pieces were made from fondant a few days in advance so they’d have time to harden before application on the cake.

Once set, the tiles were lettered with a black edible marker. Larger tiles around the base spelled out DAUGHTER, SISTER, MOTHER and FRIEND, each with the applicable letter score.

The smaller tiles on the board write out the message for the birthday girl: HAPPY SIXTIETH BIRTHDAY ESTHER.

For the board itself, I’d lightly etched guidelines for the grid and then filled in the colored multiplier squares with more edible markers, before lining the whole grid with royal icing. I’m not thrilled with the lines themselves – I wish they were straighter, but I remember being too afraid to try and remove wonky areas to redo them and risk messing up the colors underneath.

For more Scrabble history, click here!

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Avoiding Chores with Coloring!

Did you know that today, April 7, is National No Housework Day? As a crafter, I’m ALWAYS looking for reasons to get more time in with my hobbies, so avoiding housework to spend that time doing things I love sounds like a FANTASTIC idea.

I can’t pretend this is the only day I’ve ever put off housework in favor of a project or seven though… Most recently I took advantage of a lazy weekend afternoon to do some coloring and try out a new background technique in a coloring book page. If you’d like to celebrate the holiday today by doing the same, read on for more info!

After going through my coloring book stash to see what fit my mood, I went with the super rad Like, Totally 80’s coloring book and picked a new page instead of working on one of the pages I’ve already prepped.

I wanted the quick satisfaction of using markers and this page had just the right mix of small details and elements. This book is single-sided which is great as you don’t have to worry about ruining an image on the back of the page.

To make things even more mindless, I gave myself a limited color palette. I found an 80s-inspired palette of these 6 colors:

…which I then matched in my Crayola SuperTips.

It was mindless, for sure, but I forgot that coloring is rarely quick! So I had no choice but to spend even more evenings avoiding housework.

Once all the small sections were complete all that remained was the background. It was too much to fill in with the markers so I reached for my Prismas instead.

First I filled in the entire background with a light gray (not shown). Then, using 3 colors that matched 3 of the marker colors, I went over the background again, doing large, irregular sections of color.

Next I went over the whole thing with a layer of black. My goal was to have the different shades give the black some dimension while subtly tying in the bright 80s tones.

The final step was to go over the entire background one last time, this time with my Derwent Burnisher. You can see the massive difference this makes in the image above – the background below the blue squiggle has been burnished, while the area above has not. There was no additional color applied; I merely flattened the layers of color using the burnishing pencil.

I really like how it turned out! It’s a silly, chaotic coloring book page but it was fun and I really enjoy the subtle depth the black background has by having the other colors underneath.

Looking back now I prefer the original background but at the time I’d felt it wasn’t bright enough to really SCREAM “80s”. I decided to outline everything (and also add random dots around the edge of the page for some reason…?) with a white Posca paint marker. These markers are great with colored pencils as they go over it beautifully without skipping, and once dry you can tint the paint with your markers or pencils.

To beat back the white glare I did just that. Using the same 6 SuperTips I went over the white paint to give every item an outline “glow”.

In the end I’m not mad at the final page (above), but I do prefer it pre-paint. That said, it was a lovely excuse to get out of housework for a bit and do something (relatively) mindless.

I hope you get to use today as an excuse to put down the vacuum or laundry and do something fun that makes you happy!

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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How To: DIY Super Mario Bros Banner

For my last post of Mario Month 2022, I’m going to show you how to make these DIY Super Mario Bros-themed banners:

I used them as stage runners for a Mario-themed skit, but they can also be hung as banners to dress up the decor at a Mario-themed party, photoshoot or event.

In case it’s been a while since you’ve seen what a Super Mario Brothers game looks like, this is the setting I was attempting to recreate on stage:

I’ve already made a warp pipe set piece, but to really give the stage a “Mario-world” look I decided to make banners/runners in the style of the iconic bricks, blocks and ground texture.

If you look at the screenshot it’s clear there are 3 distinct patterns – the bricks, the “?” blocks, and the ground sections. Before I can scale and print my templates I needed to know what dimension I could work with.

I used the same roll of recycled paper as for the warp pipe, and it is 36″ wide so the easiest thing to do was to cut the roll in half lengthwise, and base my measurements around that.

On my computer I cropped out one repeat section of each of the 3 patterns and scaled them evenly to be 18″ high.

I printed the templates and taped the sections of paper together to have exactly the pieces I needed. Then I cut my strips to the proper length. The floating banner (the one Mario jumps on/under) was cut to fit 6 blocks of my template wide to best fit the width of our band’s drum riser. For the ground-level banner, I wanted to fill as much as possible of my stage width, so I divided my total stage width (about 30′) by the width of the ground template, and made sure I cut my length appropriately to fit in the maximum number of repeats that would fit my stage.

This paper rolls up nicely which makes storage of both the materials in progress as well as the final banners a breeze!

As for the warp pipe, the whole project was done with inexpensive materials, including the acrylic paint. I started with the floating segment and marked off the width of each segment, then painted the brick sections brown.

I had just barely enough room to set it aside to dry so I could move on to the stage runner.

The stage runner was given a brown base coat along the entire length.

Due to space constraints, I set up my workstation to allow me to keep moving the runner to the right, while working from the left.

Luckily by the time I ran out of room to extend the far end, it was dry enough to roll up on itself.

The ground template would be getting a lot of use as I had to trace it over and over along the entire length of the runner, so I protected it with my favorite cheap lamination method – packing tape.

Then I set about tracing it over and over and over…

Carbon paper is fantastic for this as it provides erasable marks that are dark enough to be seen but light enough to be painted over. I used a ruler to be sure my lines would be straight, and a pen, stylus or chopstick/skewer would all work equally well for the tracing.

Once all the tracing was done it was time to paint the details. This required black and white paint, along with some extra brown to fix any mistakes.

I didn’t want any color bleeding, so first I worked my way through painting the white sections…

…rolling the work up as soon as it was dry enough to move forward…

…and then once the white was complete I moved it to the other side to start over, now painting the black ones.

It’s a long process, but very relaxing and great for podcast/audiobook listening!

With the ground painted and set aside, I returned to the floating banner and added a lighter brown base to the “?” block sections.

Just as for the ground, I traced my templates and then worked in sections to paint them.

First I did all the black and the bit of white highlight on the bricks…

…and then I went back in and did the remaining brown on the “?” blocks.

I love the finished result! It’s so easy and doesn’t take too long but has such a high visual impact for the stage or as party decor.

You can see how accurate the result turns out when you use a good, scaled template.

Once all the painting was done I gave the banners a few days to air dry to be sure there was no moisture left in the recycled paper, and then I set about laminating them.

If you’re only making a banner for a party or to stage a photoshoot, this next step is optional.

Just as for the warp pipe, these banners would be used in a stage show with multiple performances and incredibly quick set changes, and it would be a waste of my time and effort making them if they ripped during rehearsal or mid-performance.

Starting with a 1-2′ strip of tape, I lay it on one of the straight edges, overlapping halfway. Then I lifted the edge of the banner and folded the free half of the tape over, pressing well. This protected the edge of the paper from any moisture getting in.

Repeat the process on all edges. For a long banner like the ground one, you can do this in sections as you go.

Then, using more packing tape, work horizontally across your piece to laminate it. Overlap your strips slightly, again to make sure no gaps are left where moisture could get in. Once done, trim up your edges with a craft knife.

I chose to also laminate the back of my banners. While this does use up extra tape and is not visible to the audience, it provides an extra layer of durability and moisture protection. Also, as we were using velcro tape to quickly hang and remove the banners during each performance, I didn’t want to take a chance on being able to pull the tape off from the paper and damaging it.

The finished banner is now durable and reliable for frequent rough handling.

I then repeated the same process on the ground-level banner.

And with that, they are complete. The banners roll up easily for storage and transport, and applied perfectly to our stage pieces with heavy duty velcro tape. We had incredibly quick, rough set changes where the stage hands slapped them into place and then ripped them off while running off stage during the blackouts, and they held up perfectly!

Here’s how they looked on stage. The original plan was to have the drum riser get the floating banner and hang the ground runner off the front of the stage, but in dress rehearsals we realized that it would be too low to be seen by anyone in the audience except the very front, so we raised it up to run the length of the full band riser instead.

It was a really cute, fun skit/dance number, and definitely an audience favorite. I was so pleased that my stage runners, warp pipe, and all the costume pieces were an important part of that, and have held up to this day (4 years later).

All of this year’s Mario Month posts are from that skit, and next year’s will include instructions on how to make Princess Peach’s wand, Toad’s hat, and the Piranha Pete costume.

Here’s the full 2022 Mario Month summary:

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How To: DIY Super Mario Bros Wario Costume

All month long I’ve been sharing Super Mario Bros-themed DIYs for my official 2022 Mario Month, and today’s post pulls all the Wario costume pieces together with some final touches to round out an easy DIY Wario costume.

For a refresher, here’s the yellow-and-purple guy himself:

And here’s how my cosplay turned out:

You will need:

To make the Wario hat you can follow my DIY instructions here.

My easy DIY instructions for the Wario mustache are posted here.

Wario’s gloves are a pair of simple white gloves with a rolled cuff and large blue “W”s on the back of each hand. I used an inexpensive pair of winter “one-size-fits-all” stretchy gloves and the same dark blue felt as for the W on his hat.

Because my costume was needed for several performances with quick (and rough) costume changes, I sewed the “W”s into place with matching thread. If you’re not worried about durability you can choose to use hot glue instead. In both cases, however, I would attach the letter while wearing the glove, as if you sewed it while laying flat it would not stretch properly once worn. (The glue or stitches would hinder the gloves’ stretch and the letters would appear wonky and/or possibly detach).

Repeat the process for the other hand.

Note: I’m right-handed, so it was easy to sew the left glove while wearing it, but not as easy for the right. At first I tried to compensate by wearing the left glove backwards on my right hand, so I could continue to sew with my dominant hand.

Unfortunately the results look terrible. Therefore I really recommend wearing the glove on the appropriate hand and sewing with your non-dominant one if necessary. If you go slow and take small stitches while awkward…it’s not impossible, and the results look much better.

Wario’s clothes consist of a solid-color yellow tshirt and purple pants with suspenders. I’ve linked suitable options for all three items above, though for my costume I was lucky and found the shirt and pants at my local thrift store. I didn’t think Amazon would have purple suspenders so I made my own. I happened to have some purple fabric at home so used that, though the color match wasn’t the best.

To make the suspenders yourself, put on the pants and and take the following measurements:

Length: measure the length in inches from the waistband in front, up and over the shoulder, and down the back to the waistband in back. Add 3-4″ to this measurement.

Width: the desired width of your suspenders in inches, doubled, plus 1″.

You will first create a tube by folding your fabric in half lengthwise, wrong-sides out, and then sewing a line about 1/2″ in from the open edge.

Once your tube is secure, carefully flip it inside-out. A knitting needle/skewer/chopstick is handy for this! Arrange the fabric so the seam is in the center and iron or finger-press the edges down to keep the strip flat.

The 3-4″ inches extra length added were for use in attaching the suspenders. If your pants have belt loops, first pass one raw edge through the opening of the claw hook, fold the edge in about 1/2″ and then sew down securely. My hook rotates but if yours is stationary be sure to have the side of the tube with the seam at the back.

Once the hook is attached, fold the other raw edge over as well and then sew it to the pants at the rear waistband, again being sure to have the seam on the inside. If you prefer a less permanent option, you can use claw hooks on the other end of the tube as well, and attach on both sides using the belt loops.

If your pants don’t have belt loops you will need to sew all 4 edges into place.

Wario’s pants are actually overalls with big white buttons but it’s easier to create suspenders and then fake the button look on top. If you prefer to make overall straps then instead of attaching claw hooks you will need to make a buttonhole and then sew 2 buttons onto your pants. I was worried buttons might undo during my dance number so I went for the more secure option of suspenders.

To fake the button look, cut two circles out of white felt and stitch (or hot glue) them into place above where the suspenders attach.

With that, your Wario costume is done! I wore this during a performance with fast quick-changes, so having my next costume underneath was the perfect way to add some padding and give Wario his more rounded physique.

Here’s the full 2022 Mario Month summary:

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.