Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Looks like Tuesday Really is the New Monday.

I was a little under the weather yesterday (thanks Dave), but this morning I have a wonderful treat for you.

I’m Robin from Bird On A Cake.

I am a Florida girl who loves to bake and blog!
I started a family blog over three years ago, where I write about life
and my adventures as a mom with two autistic children.
As my cake decorating skills improved, I started adding some cakes to my blog mix. 
Then, a few months ago, I decided to start a new blog just about my cake adventures.
I share yummy recipes, decorating tutorials and lots of pretty cakes at Bird On A Cake.
Today I am sharing a tutorial for some cute Valentine’s cupcake toppers…
conversation hearts made with candy melts!
You will need:
heart cookie cutter
wax paper
candy melts
red gel food coloring
a batch of cupcakes
frosting (you can buy it or use this buttercream recipe)
First, make a template by tracing your cookie cutter on a piece of paper.
Tape your template to a piece of cardboard or the back of a cookie sheet.
Tape a piece of wax paper over the template.
Next, put your candy melts in a bowl and microwave:
Cook for 30 seconds, stir, and repeat until they are completely melted.
(My green and purple candy melts were both darker than I wanted,
so I mixed them each with white candy melts to lighten the color.)
Put each color in a separate decorating bag, or in a ziploc with the corner snipped off.
Filling in the outline, pipe the candy melts on to your wax paper.
Put the hearts in the fridge for a few minutes to set up.
When the hearts have hardened, carefully peel them off the wax paper.
Tint a small amount of frosting red and put it in a decorating bag,
or you can just use a tube of red gel food coloring.
Write messages on the flat side of your hearts…
you can personalize them any way you like!
Frost your cupcakes and place a heart on top of each one.
Share the love and give them to your sweethearts!
I hope you enjoy making these Valentine’s cupcake toppers!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Have you caught up yet?

     Are you caught up from the insanity of the Holiday season yet?  Not me.  I still have a tree up, although it is so that I can celebrate with my sister this week.  We like to set a date after Christmas, and between her and her boyfriend's Birthday.  Since we live quite a bit apart from one another, it makes it easier to celebrate 3 events at once.  It works well for us, and gives everyone a little break from the "crazies". 
      On another note, we had a grand Christmas here.  Dave's sister who lives in LA came up and stayed with us.  I often use her to find out what's up and coming in the fashion world, and wouldn't you know it, she was a wealth of information.  Everybody, and I do mean everybody are into the fingerless glove rage.  Now that's a little project I took on myself, but will not be doing for the shop.  If one of the guys wants to, have fun.  Remember I am just the gal who blogs and keeps the Etsy store front looking nice.  Wish I could say that about my garage.  I see a "big trash day" on the horizon. 

     I would have to say that the easiest way to get a pair of these gloves is of course to buy them!  That being said, if you knit or crochet, you can make yourself a pair.  Or lastly you can do it the hard way (like me).
      Take yourself to the thrift store...this I am very adapt to.  Find yourself a sweater you like and is 100% cotton, wool, angora, something like that.  Any thing with acrylic, nylon, or Lycra, just leave it behind.  It is a waste of time and you will just end up frustrated.  Now that you  have a sweater, the real work begins.  Take that sweater and put it in a pillowcase you care nothing about.  Add a couple to a few golf balls (yes I said golf balls), and tie off the end of the pillow case.  The pillowcase is so all the fibers that come loose during the process of felting do not end up in your washing machine and ruining it.  Wash the sweater in HOT water, for a long cycle.  It will sound like you are washing rocks, but never fear, the golf balls are not beating your washer to death.  When finished toss the sweater only in the dryer and give it a good HOT over drying.  it should come out much smaller.  Mine had a lot of lint due to the angora. but here's what I got.
     Then I cut off the sleeves, shaved them with a disposable razor (a trick Sarah taught me), measured them to about elbow length, took a needle and thread and double hemmed the tops, being careful to not let my stitching show much.  Then I put the sleeves on, decided where my thumb would go, carefully took a box knife and gently undid the seam giving my self about an inch  for a thumb hole.  I think next time I will give myself an inch and a half because when you hem the thumb hole you loose some of your room in the thumb hole.   But all in all for a first attempt I think I did pretty good. 
What do you think??

Monday, December 19, 2011

Made By You Monday

Just 5 more days for Christmas Eve and less that two weeks to welcome a New Year…
Can you believe that 2012 is almost here?

This being a super busy week for everyone, I thought I would look ahead a couple of weeks towards New Years Eve.  Some of us will be going to parties, some of will be hosting parties, and some of us will be relaxing at home.  

Well the wonderful folks at The 36th Avenue have a great little DIY idea that I just had to share.  Enjoy!

New Years Eve is a HUGE day for our family!
For me it is perhaps one of the most exciting days of the year.
{ At the end of this post I will explain more thoroughly why}
With the 31st approaching so rapidly I thought to share with you today our
2012 New Year’s Kit! 
The Theme!
Every year on New Year’s Eve each member of our family gives a prediction of the new coming year.
Then we write each of them down and see who predicted the previous year more accurately.
This New year’s Eve we are not doing just that but we have chosen a theme for 2012…
…dream BIG!
So of course I had to make a reminder of our theme.
I decided to make this clay keepsake… I think this same technique could be used to make adorable custom  gift tags.
It took me less than 5 minutes to make six of them.
It is so simple that the pictures are self explanatory.
{ 1. make a ball  2. roll it  5. stamp it  7. cut it out  10. use a straw to make a hole  11. let it air dry }
Here is a closer look!
The little pieces of paper are to write our BIG dreams for the coming year….
The second thing I did to keep the theme alive during the year is a keepsake box for each member of our family…
kind of like a time capsule.
 { You are going to see a lot of these tin boxes after Christmas for sale all over the place }
The size was perfect… I knew my Saydi would love the red so the only thing I changed was the lid.
I traced a circle on a piece of paper using the lid as a template and then I cut it.
The next step involved Mod Podge.
Make sure you are generous with the amount of Mod Podge.
If you never have done it before trust me it is so simple to do.
Brush the top of your surface with a generous coat of Mod Podge. Then add your paper or fabric and cover the top of it with more Mod podge.
To prevent bubbles I always use my fingers, it helps me to press along the sides and make the final project look as close to perfect as I can.
I added some ribbon to the outside border of the lid and I finished covering the connection of both ends of the ribbon with a button.
 Super easy and cute!

Then for the final touch I added some vinyl to the tin container and a I dropped a piece of craft paper in the inside of it…
The little punch of color inside makes it fun to look at!

Here you have it!
 For me New Years Eve is like a big Birthday Party.
Literally I look at it as a New Year has been born and we get to see it!
In many European countries the Christmas Season doesn’t end until January 6th { Epiphany } when the Three Wise Men visit our homes and bring us presents.
New Years to us is part of The Christmas Season.
 The lights are up, the Christmas music keeps playing, the Christmas treats keep coming. 
I have celebrated New Years since I was in my mothers womb.
Particularly in Spain we have a tradition that dates back from at least 1895 but became consolidated in 1909.
In December of that year, some Alicantines { some of the coolest people you will ever meet } vine growers popularized this custom to better sell huge amounts of grapes from an excellent harvest.
The tradition consists in eating a grape with each bell strike at midnight of December 31st.
According to the tradition, that leads to a year of prosperity and your wish will come true if you manage to have all twelve grapes in your mouth by the 12th second of the new year.
Each grape is eaten with each strike of the bell.
The twelve grapes are linked to the Puerta del Sol tower clock, where this tradition started and from where the change of year is always broadcast.
Now that I am miles away from that bell I get to celebrate New Years twice; one through Skype with my family over seas
and the other one eight hours later here with my four kids and sweet husband at home.
I am so lucky!
I’ll be back tomorrow with Part 2 of our 2012 New Year’s Kit and some more sharing of our family traditions…
I love the Holiday Season!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

MMMMM Thursday Thanks to the Traveling Spoon

Those wonderful folks at the Traveling spoon sure know how to get my attention, with yummies, and for that I say Thank you!

 Seven Layer (Magic) Bars (12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies - Week 10)

After weeks of sharing the Christmas baking traditions of my family for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies Blog Hop (including our favorite Colonial Williamsburg Gingerbread, our unique Czech Sugar Cookies, and the Famous Levain Chocolate Chip Cookie Copycat) it finally occurred to me to ask Matthew if he had any traditions that he felt I should represent.

Apart from his mother's Death by Chocolate - a rich confection of chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, chocolate chips and whipped cream - Matt requested these gooey, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink bars that he calls Seven Layer Magic Bars. You might know them as Seven Layer Bars, Hello Dolly Bars or Magic Bars, but whatever the name, they're shockingly sweet and indulgently delicious.

I can remember having these once or twice during my childhood, but since desserts didn't last long in our full household and the ingredients for this one were pricey, it never became a regular fixture. I didn't mourn its absence too much, given the whole host of recipes that were family favorites, but I always made a beeline for this gooey treat at any church potluck or party.

When Matt suggested I make these bars for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies weekly party, I knew they would be perfect to take to our family Thanksgiving in Chicago. There, they were a welcome addition to the dessert tray (which included a few varieties of cookies, my aunt's Chocolate Creme Pie, and a Pumpkin Crunch Cake), but they were an absolute revelation to my sister's in-laws, who had traveled all the way from England to meet their new grandson.

Desserts in England are rarely so sweet, and with a buttery graham cracker crust, an intensely flavored center of coconut, chocolate and sweetened condensed milk, and a crunchy topping of chopped nuts and toffee pieces, these are decadent even by American standards!

Seven-Layer-Magic-Hello-Dolly Bars
these bars are an 'amped-up' version of the Eagle Brand recipe

3/4 cup butter, melted
2 1/4 cups graham crackers, crushed by hand
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup Heath or English toffee bits (or butterscotch chips)
1 1/3 cups shredded coconut
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 9x13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper. Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

Fill a small saucepan with water and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and place an opened can of sweetened condensed milk in the hot water. Heat until milk becomes runny and can be easily poured. Pour half of the sweetened condensed milk over the prepared crust, reserving the remaining milk to top the bars before baking.

Layer the chocolate chips, coconut and nuts evenly over the crust. Sprinkle with toffee pieces and pour the remaining condensed milk over all (it may be necessary to reheat the milk gently for easier pouring). Bake 20-25 minutes or until bars appear 'set' and lightly browned. Cool completely before serving. Cut into small squares or diamonds (a little goes a long way with these!) and store, covered, at room temperature.

A few notes: Apart from over baking, it's hard to imagine a way in which these versatile bars could go wrong. The list of ingredients is extremely flexible (I substituted Heath pieces for butterscotch chips with great success - though if you use the butterscotch, I'd recommend reducing the chocolate chips to prevent sugar shock!), as is the method and order of layering. In fact, you don't really need to layer at all, though I would recommend following my before-and-after method with the sweetened condensed milk, since it seems to prevent the bars from falling apart or becoming too dry after baking.

While researching this recipe, I came across lots of comments regarding overly thin crusts, so my version includes slightly more butter and graham cracker crumbs than most traditional recipes. I'd also recommend crushing your own crackers, since store-bought crumbs may be too fine to create a proper crust. Other than that, the recipe is simplicity itself and you can make adjustments for preferences or allergies quite easily. These bars also travel well, making the trip up to Chicago with nary a strand of coconut out of place!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Monday came late this week

   Whew we have been busy here at Oaktopia Design just keeping up with the Christmas rush.  That's a good thing, but it sure keeps me far away from my blog.  So just to update everyone on what's up in the shop.  We have these super cute kitty cat hats made from faux fur and they are selling faster than we ever expected.  I personally had to have one for myself for all the wonderful Burning Man fund raisers that will be coming up, and if luck is on my side I may return to Burning Man this next year.

     Also with New Year's Eve coming right on the heels of Christmas, those lovely feather eyelashes are flying right out the door.  So are the vintage cocktail bags and the 3-D glow in the dark tattoos.  Did I ever mention that those are reusable?  Well they are.  I have a set that were made for me 4 years ago and I love them.  They look just as good today as they did on the first day.  Mind you they never made it to the Playa.  But our designer has worn his to the playa every year and the dust washes off and they look like new.  Who would have thought?!?

So drop by the shop and check out all the cool things we have, like monster purses, hair extensions, lovely jewelry, and tons of things.  Remember we still have our special running....through Dec 15th (that's tomorrow) the entire shop is 15% off use coupon code DEC15.  See you soon.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


  I just love this idea from Michelle at the Scrap Shoppe.

Framed Advent Calendar {Homemade Christmas Decor}

To start Homemade Christmas Decor week, I want to show you my brand new 
Framed Advent Calendar!

Its high time we had an advent calendar around here. With my oldest being 3, we need a little help counting down the days to Christmas!

Here's how I made it... 
I found this great frame in the clearance section at Hobby Lobby. $10.80 for a 10.5x14.4 inch frame? Yes please!!

Canvas Corp was kind enough to send me some of their products to play with, so I decided to try out their waxed cotton cording to string along my frame. I tied off each end so it would be hidden behind the frame and put a small dab of Beacon's 3-in-1 in the center of the knots to make sure nothing would come untied.

You may know by now how much I love Kraft paper, so I was beyond thrilled to find several pieces of patterned Kraft paper in my Canvas Corp stash! I selected 5 different sheets and cut them into 25 rectangles for the banners for my advent calendar.

I put some Wonder Film from P K Glitz (a double-sided adhesive sheet) through my Silhouette to cut out some numbers for the calendar. Then I put the numbers on the rectangles of Kraft paper. 

I wanted glittery numbers that would really shine in the Christmas lights so once I took the top layer of paper off of the Wonder Film numbers, I sprinkled them with P K Glitz crimson glitter. They seriously sparkle! And the red looks fabulous on the Kraft paper!

I continued on with all of the numbers, adding the glitter to them all.

Then to make my rectangles into banners, I took the scissors and various border punches to them.

On the back of the banners I added various Christmas decorations I had in my scrapbook stash.
(banners, stickers, stamps, transparencies, buttons...)

Included in the Canvas Corp stash were some cute mini clothespins. To make them more "Christmas-y" I added a little candy cane effect with some acrylic stamps.

Once the clothespins were dry I hung up all of the banners!

This is the front and back view.

To help decorate the frame, I wound some strips of brown burlap around one corner and made a bow out of some painted burlap ribbon I purchased last year for Christmas.

And this is my little set up for it! On the old Singer sewing machine. 
Guarded by Santa!

I think it turned out pretty darn cute! 

And its a great countdown for the kiddo. In a few years when the boys are older we might try a more interactive advent calendar. But I will always keep this one for myself!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy December Morning

Hey Oaktopia Fans, we are offering a coupon for 15% off your entire order, just put in DEC15 in the coupon area when you check out. 
Plus if you are there just to buy the fine jewelry (it must be from the JEWELRY category) I have a super sneaky coupon just for that. Enter Oaktopiafan for a 20% discount on Jewelry. Remember it must come from the Jewelry Section of our shop and that listing is only going to be good for this Monday12/5/11 through Friday 12/10/11
So go rake in some good deals. BTW you can only use 1 coupon at a time, so if you want some Jewelry and then find stuff in other categories, buy your jewelry first and then come back for the rest of the stuff that way you get the benefit of the larger discount on the jewelry, and still get to use the Dec. coupon on all your other things.  The December Coupon is only good until 12/15/11.  Then check back with us for other special offers that only our fans get.

Happy Holidays from all of us here at Oaktopia Design