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Jake & the Neverland Pirates cake

Yesterday I mentioned a few cakes that I haven’t actually ever posted.  This Jake & The Neverland Pirates cake is one of them.

Way back in 2013 Jake & the gang were favorites around here, both the toys and the show.  “Aw, coconuts!” was a common complaint, and the Sharkey & Bones cd was on constant loop in my car.  I can still sing them in my sleep.

Anyhoo… in 2013 Henri turned 4, so of course he wanted a Jake cake.

jake cake

Now back then I wasn’t really thinking of the cakes in relation to the blog, because I wasn’t thinking of the blog much.  And I didn’t think anyone on my Facebook page would care about step-by-step pics… so I didn’t take any.  But I can tell you what I did.

The figures were the first ones I ever hand-painted.  I’d been traumatized by my horrible sculpting of the Dora and Diego figures in Henri’s cake the previous year (I can sculpt, not that that cake would show it), and there was no way I was going to start modelling all the Jake gang’s tiny details.  So I decided to try painting.

I cut printed images to the scale I wanted and cut them out on ivory fondant (the visible skin tone) the same way you can see here.  For painting I used a toothpick and Wilton food gels loosened with a bit of water, and a drop of White White to get the opacity.  These figures are small… as you can tell by the toothpicks inside them.  If you try it, don’t get stressed if they don’t look ‘right’.  Finishing details, like the whites of the eyes and jewelry/touches really make a difference, and they can only often be added once the base layer is dry.  Also, no matter how I think they look at 3am when I’ve finally finished… I’m ALWAYS pleasantly surprised the next morning when I look at them again.

Jake & The Neverland Pirates painted fondant cake toppersThe cake was another case of “I don’t know what I want to do so I’ll bake the cakes and figure it out later”.  I started by baking 3 cakes, a vanilla round and chocolate 9×11 and 8×8.

bucky fisher price

I used this toy ^ as a model for Bucky.  Easy enough, since we own it and I could have it on the table next to me.

The sand and sea is the vanilla round, torted with buttercream, the ship was made from the chocolate cakes and store-bought chocolate icing.

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The accents are all rolled fondant, bought white and tinted to the colors I needed.Photo 2013-01-20, 2 05 21 PM

I did the “sand” first.  After crumbcoating the round I put some fresh vanilla icing over half the cake and quickly covered it with crushed graham crackers.  For the sea I covered the other half with a thick layer of blue icing, stopping just shy of the white border.  I waited for the icing to crust a bit then chopped up where the white and blue met, for sea froth.  (Similar to the top of the Betty Boop cake’s hot tub).Photo 2013-01-20, 2 05 56 PMThe sails are paper flags I made in Excel (for the stripes) and topped with a graphic of a gold doubloon.  The crow’s nest is a cupcake/muffin liner.  The mast is a straw covered with brown fondant, with some wooden skewers down the center and through the cakes.  There’s a disk of fondant under the crow’s nest and a smaller one inside it, to hold it in place.

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The cannon is made from gray fondant and also stuck on a toothpick/pressed into the cake for support.  There are also toothpicks in the outer 2 legs of each of the 4 railings, and I allowed them to dry for a day before standing them in the cake, so they wouldn’t risk sagging.  Finally there was the …what’s that called?  Captain’s area?  (lol).  If you notice in the above pics, that’s the one piece that’s not in place elsewhere.  That’s because that solid plaque of fondant was so darn heavy that when I set it in place it made the whole back of the ship start to slide back.  I only ended up adding it at the party, RIGHT before serving… and even with that delay I still had to have my hand hovering behind it as I brought it out, so it wouldn’t fall.

I also waited until serving to insert the figures, but that was mostly because I was worried they’d break.

Photo 2013-01-20, 6 03 38 PMAnd of course, the birthday boy and his brother at the party, right before the best part- digging in!

(And you can see my hand supporting the large fondant piece).

By the way- this technique for the figures is really practical if you need to make items in advance.  This party was 2 years ago (!) and I had the figures in a tupperware in the back of my fridge until a few months ago, and they looked just as good as they did that day.  (I probably wouldn’t EAT them, though…)

Throwing your own pirate party?  Try these easy pirate craft ideas as party activities or loot bag stuffers!

Henri’s other birthday cakes so far


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How to Make Minecraft Cake/Cupcake Toppers

So last post I showed you the Minecraft lootbags (inventory chests).  Today I’ll show you how I made the toppers for the Minecraft birthday cake.

How to make Minecraft cake cupcake toppers

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for the cake itself, but I knew I wanted to have a bunch of Minecraft mobs scattered about.  I didn’t feel like having to prepare enough fondant in the assorted colors, nor did I really want to start sculpting, so I turned to my current favorite technique- hand-painted toppers.

I’ve used this on a number of cakes, which I’ll link to once I post them.  With one exception, Nick’s Star Wars cookies, I always painted with thinned-down color gels, and had great results… (especially the Jake & the Neverland Pirates figures) but there were some flaws.  The painted pieces too much longer to dry, making it more difficult to do finishing touches, the “paint” was often very wet, which could cause the fondant base to soften and/or get slimy, and sometimes the piece would crack as it dried (like in the Charlie & Lola cake).

For some reason I switched techniques when making Sean’s last Goalie cake, I tossed in some icing sugar to give my white coloring some opaqueness, and then I recalled painting with icing on the Star Wars cookies.  It was a duh moment, and I’ve stuck with that ever since.  It’s easier (for me), faster (for me), and it dries quicker, so I can add eyes or other details MUCH faster.  Plus, because icing is thicker than water, I can play with layers and build up dimensions, if I want, similar to decorating cookies with royal icing.

My first step is to cut out the topper shapes from fondant (or if you’re painting on cookies, bake them and let them cool until there is no heat left inside, I’d wait overnight if possible).  You can use cookie cutters or freehand it, I am not above tracing.  I’d printed out the mobs (it stands for mobiles for those of you who don’t play… all the moving characters in the game) I wanted to use and scaled them all to the rough sizes I wanted.

I rolled out some scrap teal fondant left over from Jakob’s 2nd Adventure Time cake, the B-MO & Gunter cakes.  The thickness of the fondant depends on the intended use of the piece.  In my case I needed something thick enough to stand up, and also be thicker than a toothpick.  For something that will be laying flat on a cake you can go thinner, and if it was meant to be a plaque that would stand upright or lean at a diagonal I’d go thicker, so there would be a solid base.

mc top traceLay the paper templates out on the fondant and cut it up into manageable sizes, then use a knife or your preferred cutter to trace around the templates.  In the pic above you can see I’ve almost finished cutting out Diamond Steve.  Keep your fondant scraps and store them properly for next time.

mc top cut

Here are all the mobs cut out.  I slid a toothpick into most of them while the fondant was still soft, and reinforced where necessary with more fondant.  I wasn’t worried about the smaller fondant blobs showing because I knew I’d be painting with icing, which is thick, but if you’re painting with straight color gels you’d rather have a flat surface.

The next step is to let the pieces dry.  I mean really dry.  At least a day.  Two is better.  The longer you can wait, the more in-advance you can get them cut and set them aside, the better, because fondant will wilt and melt when it gets wet, and there is a lot of moisture in the icing.  Also, larger pieces will take longer to dry through than smaller ones.  The Jake & the Neverland Pirates gang were dry enough to paint after 2 days left exposed to the air.  I hadn’t given myself enough time with the Charlie & Lola toppers, they were so big and still flexible after 2 days.  Or maybe my house was more humid at the time.  Either way, they ended up spending 24 hours in a bed of icing sugar to draw out as much moisture as I could get.

Once the pieces are firm, not floppy, they’re ready to paint.

I didn’t take any in-progress painting shots.  You can use whatever you like as a palette as long as it’s food-safe and not used for any non-food purpose.  (I also keep my cake stuff away from peanut and nut products because I make 3 nut-free cakes every year).  I mostly paint with toothpicks but I have some food-only paint brushes I’ll use from time to time, and I use repurposed apple sauce cups for extra water and icing sugar.  There are a bunch of tricks I use, like using a medicine dropper to add water to thin the icing if necessary vs a spoon, so I have more control over how much I add, and using those sewing pins (in the tracing pic) to help mark out any details on the fondant cut-outs, in addition to “drawing” on them before I paint.

mc top nice mobs

These are the non-hostiles- a sheep, Diamond Steve, regular Steve and a pig.  I chose some of my kids’ favorite characters, leaving out only the Mooshroom because I knew I already had plenty to cover the cake.  Plus if I’d kept going they also wanted an ocelot, and a dog, and a bat, and a spider jockey, and zombies, and…

I didn’t plan too far ahead on each piece, though I do try to work in a way that makes sense.  Whenever possible I work backwards in color, to minimize icing waste.  For example, I didn’t want to have to re-mix black, so planned to work with it last, and do any details if necessary then, at the end.  I started with the Steves, and mixed up their skin color (though now they look like Zombie Steves), then added a touch more brown and used the same icing for the sheep’s face and the lighter areas on his hooves.  A touch more brown and it was used for the darker areas of the hooves and Steve’s hair.

The same blue used for Steve was also used for the squid’s face, then darkened for his body, and eventually darkened further for the black.

Just like when painting with real paints, when I mix colors I don’t always blend it all in, so if I’m adding more pink to do some shading on the pig, I only mix it into half of the icing, so I still have some light pink to play with.

mc top hostile mobsThe hostile mobs- the Ender Dragon, a spider, a creeper, an Enderman and a squid (who probably isn’t technically ‘hostile’).  I don’t know why the Enderman’s eyes don’t look purple, I think the light washed it out ‘cus in person they did.  The splotches on the spider were made by mixing in some white while the black was still wet, and most of the details on the Ender Dragon were dry-brushed for shading, since I didn’t have to actually paint him black to start.

mc top groupThe final touch was to make a wooden sign and then the gang was all done, ready to set aside somewhere safe to dry (and avoid being eaten) until the party.

For more from the party:

Minecraft Loot Bags

Minecraft Birthday Cake

Throwing a Minecraft Party

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More Minecraft fun:

How to make Minecraft Steve and Creeper heads


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How to Make Minecraft Lootbags

With Jakob’s 8th birthday coming up, and likely another Minecraft-themed event, I realized I never posted any of the pics I took from Henri’s 6th birthday, also Minecraft-themed, back in January.  I hadn’t returned to blogging then, so they obviously weren’t here, but I also never posted them on my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts, which all link to each other.

I figured it would be fitting for an inaugural post to break in the ‘new’ blog, as well as officially link everything all together.

So.  When Henri had told me he wanted a Minecraft party I a) wasn’t surprised, because my house is ALL about Minecraft (I play too, my mansion has a giant working waterslide, thankyouverymuch), and b) wanted to go a little beyond just making a cake.  I generally try to tie in the invitations and the lootbags, for example, a pirate-themed party had eye patches and gold hoop earrings and spyglasses.  So I went looking around online.

I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do for the cake yet, and Henri kept wavering on if he wanted a giant Creeper, or an Ender Dragon, or a giant Creeper covered in smaller Creepers… so I put the cake off until it got closer to actually having to bake it.  I decided to start with the loot bags and get them ready and set aside.

how to make a minecraft lootbag

There are a LOT of great ideas online.  I took a look at them, and went to a few stores to see what was available to me.  I ended up getting stuff at my local Dollarama, a grocery store, and Papillon (a Bulk Barn-type store), because 2 of those 3 are in the same mall and I had limited time/desire to run around.  I found graphics of the Minecraft inventory items online and knocked them together in Word, putting a frame around them only so I would cut them all out the same size.  I have included the graphics at the end of this post, feel free to download them and use them for your own projects!

Putting everything together, here’s what I came up with:

lb lava wrapped

The lava buckets had me running around to a few stores.  My local Dollarama had a mixed-pack of mini Jell-O knock-offs, but only half the pack was orange or red.  I was really hoping to find red/orange (for lava buckets) and blue raspberry (for water buckets… which I had printed and managed to salvage at a later point).  In the end I found Jell-O cups at my grocery store, and used those.

The small plastic zip-top bags that the rest of the treats are in are craft bags from the dollar store too, and even the tape used to affix the images was from there.  Gotta love when you can find supplies as inexpensively as possible! 😀

lb melon wrapped

The melon slices are sour gummies from the bulk store.

lb fish wrapped

The fish gummies are also from the bulk store.  For all the inexpensive candies I just grabbed a few handfuls and portioned them out evenly once I got home.

lb gold wrapped

The ‘gold bars’ are Hershey’s Gold Nuggets.  They’re a little more expensive so I counted those out.  (Plus, um, 2 for quality control… in my mouth).

lb stick wrapped

The sticks are pretzel sticks.  Surprisingly my dollar store didn’t have any, so I bought them at the bulk place and eyeballed ‘even’ amounts.  lb cookie wrapped

I’d been planning to get the cookies at the bulk store, they have the Voortman’s ones that you can buy individually, but I found a pack of chocolate chip cookies at the dollar store so that turned out to be cheaper, and each kid got 2 (only because there weren’t enough for each to get 3 in the pack).lb complete wrappedInitially I wasn’t certain how to package everything together.  Then I remembered these boxes we’d had laying around at work.  They’re supposed to open the other way- the short ends.  So I ripped the glued sides open and re-taped them up with packing tape (ALSO from the dollar store) so they opened like a chest would.  If I’d planned that in advance I’d have made the chest graphic large enough to cover the whole side, and printed the word “chest” for the top.  But, in a pinch, this worked.

lb stack complete wrapped

Everything fit nicely inside and I heard the kids loved their “inventory packs”.  If you try this yourself and can’t get ahold of boxes, brown paper lunch bags would be fine, or if you wanted to go EXTRA fancy you could get each child their own actual chest from the dollar store.

melon 2inby175instick 175inby2in lava bucket 2inby175in gold 2inby175infish 2inby175in  cookie 2inby175in chest 225inby325in

You can download and print the above images to make your own.  I copy/pasted a bunch onto an Excel spreadsheet so I could fit as many to a page as I needed.  The bag graphics were sized at 2″ tall by 1.75″ wide, and the chests were 2.25″ by 3.25″.

More from this party-

Minecraft Cake/Cupcake Toppers

Minecraft Cake

Throwing a Minecraft Birthday Party

————————————–

More Minecraft fun:

How to make Minecraft Steve and Creeper heads

 


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go figure

So. Cast on for a special blankie for my 2nd child in July of 2009. Spent the last 3 years slogging through ever-increasing rows that started with 14 sts and ended at 728 sts per row. Just finished the last, 149th row. About to work row 150- the bind off. And ran out of yarn.

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how to make a viking vest

Henri has wanted to be a viking for a while now.  Not for Halloween, I mean he wants to be a viking in general.  (It’s either viking or pirate, depending on the day).

Jakob got a light-up viking helmet at the How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular, and unfortunately when we brought Henri the next day they were all sold out of helmets, so he got a Toothless plushie instead.  (Jakob, you’ll remember, got the one I knitted for his birthday…which I think I never blogged.  Oops).

The kids share the helmet, and last month when it was time to pick costumes for ComicCon (which I think I also forgot to blog…crap) Henri REALLY wanted to wear the helmet and be a viking, but a quick search through the closets revealed that we didn’t have any viking clothes.  All we had even close to a viking vest (like Hiccup wears in the movie) was a gray zippered sweatshirt-style vest.  The kids dressed as Avengers instead but Henri had it stuck in his mind that that was his viking vest and he has worn it non-stop ever since.  He’s worn it to school on back-to-back days, he’s worn it over his fall jacket, he wears it around the house, and on more times than I can count I check on him at night to find that he’s put it on over his pjs and worn it to sleep.

(Something about a 3 year old with tousled sleep hair in footie-pjs, amirite?)

He stops strangers to point out his “viking vest”, but commented a few weeks ago how “it’s not a REAL viking vest, Mommy, because it has a zipper and REAL viking vests have buttons”.  Oh.  Right.  ‘Cus vikings didn’t have zippers.

I promised I’d make him a viking vest, and yesterday I did just that.  I took photos throughout so if you want to make one, you can too.

I used some fur fabric my neighbor gave me, a sheet of newspaper, a sharpie & a pair of scissors, plus a sharp large-eyed needle, black acrylic yarn and white cotton yarn.  The only other thing you need is a vest that fits your child (or you!).

I started by laying the vest on the paper and traced half of it.  I used my finger to push down then traced to know where the neckline in the middle lined up.

I knew I wanted to add some length to the bottom and the armhole so it would fit him longer, as well as lowering the neckline to a v-neck, so I made those changes on my template.

I cut it out and checked against the vest.

I decided I wanted to make the neckline more sloped so marked off the changes on the pattern…

…then cut it out and checked again.

I was happy with the shape so I traced it onto my fabric.  It’s hard to see, but I traced out the half-vest pattern, flipped it and traced again for the other front, then traced it back-to-back, flipped, for a piece to fit the back.  The only thing I didn’t realize is that the fur fabric had a direction to it in which the fur laid flat.  I tried to be as economical with the fabric as possible so didn’t have a choice, but you would probably rather make sure you’re lying the pieces with the fur running from up to down, like natural fur.

I cut the pieces out on the porch which was a great idea because there were bits of fur flying EVERYWHERE.  I used my fingers to fluff up and pick at all the edges to make sure I’d gotten as many stray cut bits as possible before bringing it into the house.

I used a sharp needle and black chunky acrylic yarn from a big-box store to work a blanket stitch edging around each piece.  I eyeballed it, placing the stitches roughly 0.5″ apart, and 0.5″ down into the fabric.

The simple edging really gave the pieces a finished, yet still “handmade by Vikings” look.  (In this light you can see my fur runs in the opposite direction from how the vest will be worn, oops!)

This is the inside of the pieces, for those who like that kinda thing.  🙂

I used the same black yarn to seam the two sides and the shoulders together.  I did something similar to mattress stitch, butting up the two pieces to be joined and catching a loop from each edge all the way along.

Almost done!

Inside shot.

For a finishing touch I used white worsted-weight cotton yarn (dishcloth cotton) and made large stitches across the joined pieces.  This is purely decorative, but makes it look like Vikings really made it! according to my 3 and 5 year olds, and I trust them.

This is Henri’s final costume- a green long-sleeved tee, brown cords, his new vest and the light-up plastic helmet.  I may make a Viking axe if I have time/remember by Halloween.

Henri the Brave!

Back view.

He thought he was dancing for me.  I just wanted to see the decorative stitches.

That’s one happy Viking!


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rainy day cookies

Yannick was away this weekend, and today was too rainy and lazy for me to want to take the boys anywhere after their morning swimming lessons.

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Who wants cookies??

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I made a double batch of basic vanilla cookies, and divided it in 4 to flavor it up. The boys helped me cut out the shapes…

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…and after they had cooled, and the boys played, I iced them. There’s chocolate/mint cookies with mint icing, almond cookies with royal icing, chocolate/coconut that were tapped onto a plate of coconut while the icing was still wet, and peanut butter (un-iced).

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Once the boys came down from their sugar rush and went to bed, I knit for a bit. It takes so long per row that I feel like I’m not getting anywhere, but I’ve now done 14 rows since restarting to work on it, and I remind myself that once I finish this blue section I’ve only got 1 red section to do. (I’m trying to ignore the fact that those rows will be 616-728 stitches each).