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Category: kids

  1. Thursday, September 27, 2018

    Super Cute & Super Easy Minecraft Slime Birthday Cake

    If you’ve been around this blog for a while you know that I love making fun birthday cakes for my kids. Owen just turned 7 and it was a family year for him (the kids get friend parties on their even-numbered birthdays). In addition to it being a family year I also turned 40, so I kind of forgot about making him a cake. (WHAT?!?!?) Then, the day before his birthday, Owen was talking about his Minecraft Slime birthday cake. And I realized, “OH. I need to make a birthday cake.” There may have been a bit of panic on my part, however Minecraft saved me from a full blown panic attack because SQUARES. I looked up what Minecraft slime looks like and I was especially relieved.

    Picture of a Minecraft Slime Birthday Cake (instructions for assembly included in the post)

    This Minecraft Slime birthday cake is so easy to throw together, even a mom who forgot that she makes awesome cakes for her kids every year and had to throw together a cake last minute could do it. So, if you have a kid (or grown up) in your life who loves Minecraft, you should totally suggest this cake to them. Because you’ll knock their socks off and won’t even break a sweat doing it!

    Birthday cake that looks like slime from Minecraft (assembly instructions included in the post)

    If you’re going to make this cake, I highly recommend reading my post An Amateur’s Guide to Making Super Cute Cakes before jumping in as it has lots of great tips. In addition, I used the frosting and cake recipes included in that post for this Minecraft Slime birthday cake.

    How to Decorate a Minecraft Slime Birthday Cake
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • A 1- or 2-layer 8 inch square cake (I halved the cake recipe and only did a 1-layer cake, but a regular 2-layer cake works perfectly)
    • Buttercream frosting (I one-and-a-half timesed the buttercream recipe I linked to above for a 1-layer cake; if you do a 2-layer cake I would recommend 3 timesing the recipe)
    • Fondant
    • Green food coloring (I used Wilton's Leaf Green gel food color)
    Instructions
    1. Please read the "Amateur's Guide" post to get tips about frosting the cake (which includes freezing the cake, doing a crumb coat, etc).
    2. Frost your 8-inch square cake with light green frosting. Use a long icing spatula to make the buttercream look as flat as possible.
    3. Add a lot of green food coloring to a handful of fondant - the fondant will be the same green color as the icing, but it should be darker, so keep adding color until it is darker. Massage the fondant in your hands until the green food coloring is fully incorporated.
    4. Using a rolling pin, roll out the fondant into an even, semi-thin layer. When rolling the fondant, place waxed or parchment paper on the cutting board and then another piece of waxed or parchment paper on top of the fondant before rolling. Also, rolling the fondant out once and then balling it and rolling it out again is a good way to get the color to look even.
    5. Cut two 2-1/2 inch squares out of the fondant using a pizza cutter. Cut one 1-1/2 inch square. Click here to download a template for the squares and placement on the cake. Place the large squares on the cake about where you would place them for eyes if the square was a face. Place the small square around where you would put a mouth, but be sure to offset the square to the right a bit.

     

     


  2. Thursday, October 5, 2017

    The Easiest Dinosaur Birthday Cake That Was Beyond Beloved

    Owen’s birthday was last week and I have yet to share his birthday cake with you all. I love making fun birthday cakes for my kids and my kids really look forward to planning out their cake each year. For his 6th birthday, Owen decided he wanted a dinosaur birthday party. He and I sat down and scrolled through Pinterest together to find the perfect dinosaur birthday cake. Owen picked out a few options, kept changing his mind about which cake he wanted, and then learned about chocolate candy that looks like rocks. Once he knew that candy existed he was hooked on making what turned out to be the easiest dinosaur birthday cake ever. Thanks, Owen!

    Easiest Dinosaur Birthday Cake from @janemaynard

    So, how do you make the easiest dinosaur birthday cake ever?

    1. Make a 2-layer round cake. Frost with chocolate frosting. Be generous with the frosting, especially on the top as those dinosaurs need a nice layer of mud to sink their feet into so they can stay standing!
    2. Buy chocolate candy that looks like rocks/pebbles. (I found the candy at Cost Plus World Market. They have pebble candy on Amazon, too, although the candy at Cost Plus were cuter and cheaper.)
    3. Place said candy on top of the cake.
    4. Pick out 3 of your child’s toy dinosaurs, stick them on top of the cake. (Dinosaurs should be relatively small – the big ones tip over.)
    5. YOU ARE DONE. You’re welcome.

    Easiest Dinosaur Birthday Cake from @janemaynard

    I used Matthew Mead’s chocolate cake recipe, which you can find at the end of this blog post. I made a chocolate buttercream frosting for the outside of the cake – recipe below!

    Click here for the the inspiration for this cake!

    Click here for the other easy dinosaur birthday cake idea (hello, cutest fossils ever) that I was totally trying to get Owen to choose. I had him convinced for about 2 hours, but then that rock candy ruined everything. Except it didn’t because Owen’s cake was super awesome.

    Easiest Dinosaur Birthday Cake from @janemaynardThat’s Owen’s “I knew the rock candy cake would be as cute as the fossil cake, Mom” face.

    Here is how I made the chocolate buttercream frosting. Once again, people who usually do not like cake loved my cake. These recipes are winners. Also, use HIGH QUALITY cocoa powder. I’m telling you it makes a difference. Promise.

    Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) salted butter, room temperature
    • ⅔ cups cocoa powder
    • 6-7 cups powdered sugar
    • 6-8 tablespoons milk or cream
    Instructions
    1. Beat butter with a mixer (I use my KitchenAid with the paddle attachment).
    2. Using a fine mesh sieve, add the cocoa powder to the butter. (The sieve prevents the cocoa from getting lumpy.)
    3. Gradually work in the powdered sugar, alternating with the milk/cream and beating well after each addition. I put a range for the powdered sugar and milk/cream measurements. Start with 6 cups and 6 tablespoons each, then add more powdered sugar if the frosting is too thin, or more milk/cream if it is too thick. Frosting should be a spreading consistency that still holds its shape.
    Notes
    This makes enough frosting for a 2-layer 8- or 9-inch cake, with a little leftover.

     


  3. Sunday, September 3, 2017

    Burger Dogs and Week 552 Weekly Menu

    Happy Labor Day weekend, friends! I have a little something fun for you to potentially make at your barbecues this weekend, plus a menu. That’s right, I’m actually planning a menu this week. My goodness, I CANNOT believe I went two weeks without posting a menu. That is something I have not done in over 10 years, but I suppose there is a first time for everything. Honestly, it’s just been a crazy summer and we ended it with a bang. I decided to just give myself a break and not worry about it. Jane of This Week for Dinner from a few years back would be horrified. Miss a weekly menu post? QUEL HORREUR! But the world kept on spinning and this week I’ll give it a go again!

    How to Make a Burger Dog from @janemaynard

    But before the menu, I need to share this fun idea with you. One day when we were grilling up hot dogs and hamburgers, someone in our family (not sure who…maybe Nate? or one of the kids?) thought it would be funny to make a hamburger into a hot dog shape and serve it on a hot dog bun. I was like, “Sure, why not?” and proceeded to make hot dog-shaped burgers, a.k.a. burger dogs. The kids were downright giddy, it was really fun. So, the burger dogs totally worked and the kids loved it! It’s not that they taste different or anything, it really is just the novelty of it all. If you were to serve burger dogs as a meal, I would recommend chopping your lettuce and tomatoes as opposed to slicing, but other than that have at the burger dog like you would a regular hot dog or hamburger!

    How to Make a Burger Dog from @janemaynard

    How to Make a Burger Dog from @janemaynard

    I don’t have instructions because, well, all you do is shape the meat into what looks like a hot dog and then cook it like normal. Easy peasy! Now go and make burger dogs to celebrate Labor Day!

    Menu time…

    How to make Burgers Dogs! Plus this week's dinner plans from @janemaynard, including free printable PDF of the meal plan and ingredients list!

    MONDAY:
    – Labor Day Cookout! The food will be the usual suspects I’m sure 🙂

    TUESDAY:
    – BLTs

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Caprese Salad and baguette

    THURSDAY:
    – Grilled Brats
    – Salad and watermelon

    FRIDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    Bistro Chicken
    – Salad and mashed potatoes

    Click here or on the image above for a printable PDF of this week’s menu and ingredients list.

    As usual, if you have a meal plan for the week, please share it in the comments!

    And, before we go, I just want to take a moment to send love to anyone reading this affected by Hurricane Harvey. All week it has felt strange to me to be going about my daily life, knowing of the catastrophe unfolding for so many. For those of you looking for ways to help from afar, my friends at Mom2 created a great list of ways parents and kids can help with the hurricane relief efforts. Much love to all!


  4. Thursday, May 11, 2017

    A Beautiful Up-Cycled Mother’s Day Giveaway + Maybe The Easiest Mother’s Day Craft Ever (as in, NO WORK FOR MOM)

    Sponsored by General Mills Cereals

    Happy almost Mother’s Day! To celebrate I have a fun and EASY craft idea for the kids in your life as well as some love for TO THE MARKET, one of my most favorite companies. And a beautiful giveaway that will have 20 winners (woohoo!).

    To The Market Up-Cycled Cereal Box Necklaces

    As you know I’ve worked with General Mills Cereals in the past. They approached me recently about coming up with a fun craft idea using up-cycled cereal boxes with my kids. I AM NOT A CRAFTY PERSON. But when I told my kids about the project they were all in. You see, they are crafty people. I’m not entirely sure they are my children. Anyway, my kids were doubly in when they learned they would have to eat some of their favorite, yummy cereals, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Nut Cheerios, in order to make the craft happen (empty cereal boxes are a necessity!). Basically, this is their favorite post on my blog ever.

    Up-cycled Cereal Box Mother's Day Flowers

    As a lovely Mother’s Day gift, General Mills Cereals sent me a necklace and bracelet set from TO THE MARKET. TO THE MARKET is a company that sells survivor-made goods from around the world. I’ve written about TO THE MARKET before and founder and CEO Jane Mosbacher Morris is one of my favorite people. She was even on my podcast at one point! (It’s one of my favorite episodes, by the way. Jane is the BEST.) Anyway, TO THE MARKET is helping SO MANY WOMEN and their products are beyond lovely. I have a very special place in my heart for their work.

    To The Market Up-Cycled Cereal Box Necklaces

    The jewelry that General Mills Cereals sent was created by Haitian TO THE MARKET artists, with beads made from up-cycled cereal boxes. The beads are gorgeous. You simply cannot believe they are made from cereal boxes. Both my girls are enamored with the jewelry (I think Anna might steal it) and felt very inspired for their own cereal box crafting!

    Up-cycled Cereal Box Mother's Day Flowers

    Up-cycled Cereal Box Mother's Day Flowers

    Which brings us to today’s craft. For real this is the best craft ever because the parent doesn’t have to do ANYTHING. Just give the kids some empty cereal boxes (the more colorful the better!), scotch tape and colorful straws. Then say, “Go make flowers!” All three of my kids, from ages 5 to 12, had a blast cutting up the boxes and getting creative. Anna’s flower ended up being three dimensional, Cate made an adorable bumblebee for the bouquet, and Owen went completely off book and made a ladybug with a heart to show that the ladybug loves me. I consider it all a crafting success! And I didn’t lift a finger. (Well, okay, I helped clean up the billions of cereal box cuttings strewn about the kitchen. But it was worth it.)

    Up-cycled Cereal Box Mother's Day Craft

    Lucky for our family my beloved mother will be here for Mother’s Day this year. She will be taking home the best bouquet ever!

    Giveaway time! General Mills Cereals and TO THE MARKET are providing TWENTY of you lucky people with your own necklace made with upcycled cereal box beads. You can’t buy these necklaces, so this is the only way to get one! Here is how to enter: (Comments must be posted by Midnight PT May 25, 2017.)

    BONUS BONUS BONUS: If you head on over to TO THE MARKET’S Stories Blog, they are also giving away these necklaces and you can enter there, too! Yippee! Winners were randomly selected and have been notified via email. Thank you!

    Happy Mother’s Day!

    I partnered with General Mills for this post because they are committed to strengthening communities around the world through remarkable initiatives, nonprofits and causes that help strength people and the planet. General Mills Cereals partnered with TO THE MARKET to create these handcrafted pieces of jewelry from up-cycled cereal boxes as part of this commitment and to celebrate all the moms, caregivers, aunts, sisters and special heroes who fill the world with love.

    Learn more about General Mills Cereals and its delicious line of cereals including Honey Nut Cheerios, Lucky Charm, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and many more at www.generalmills.com/cereal.


  5. Wednesday, January 11, 2017

    Anna’s Hamburger Birthday Cake

    Like most parents, I come up short in lots of ways. But there is one thing I am committed to as a mom that I have yet to fail on: birthday cakes. (I probably should knock on wood after making such a bold statement!) I blame my own mother for this obsession, thanks to the truly memorable birthday cakes she made for me as a child. Each year I let the kids choose whatever they want for their cake and then I tackle it. So far I’ve had pretty good success and I love sharing the cakes with you so you can make them, too!

    How to Make a Hamburger Birthday Cake from @janemaynard

    Anna had her birthday last month and requested a hamburger birthday cake. (This girl has a thing for cakes that look like savory foods, apparently.) It was her “family year,” which means no party, just a fun night with the fam. Rogue One came out on her birthday, so we went and saw the movie together. She could pick anywhere to go out to eat but decided to do takeout hamburgers and come home to eat in the living room while watching old Gilmore girls episodes. Naturally a hamburger birthday cake was in order!

    Anna and I did some searching on Pinterest and found a lot of ugly hamburger cakes as well as a lot of cakes that were just too much work. But then one caught our eye on a blog called Gluesticks. The mom had used unfrosted chocolate and vanilla cakes to make the bun and hamburger patty. Genius!

    How to Make a Hamburger Birthday Cake from @janemaynard

    Here is how I made the cake and a few notes for you if you decide to tackle this project yourself. (Click here for the Gluesticks instructions. She piped frosting for most of the decorating, but I hate washing frosting tips so took a little bit of a different approach.)

    • Make 2 yellow cake rounds and 1 chocolate cake round, all the same size, for the bun and hamburger.
    • For the lettuce: toss shredded coconut in the green liquid food coloring. Tip: I didn’t let the “lettuce” hang off the edges enough, wish I had concentrated more coconut to hang over the edges so you could see the lettuce better.
    • For the mayonnaise: Use white buttercream frosting in between layers 1 and 2 and layers 2 and 3, frosting out to the edge so you can see the “mayo.”
    • For the veggies and cheese: Either use marzipan or white rolled fondant. Separate and make a few different colors – red, green and yellow-orange. Roll the fondant/marzipan flat then cut into the shapes you need. I cut triangles freehand with a knife in the yellow fondant for the cheese. I used a medium-sized, smooth-edge round cookie cutter for the tomatoes. I used a small-sized, ripple-edged round cookie cutter for the pickles.
    • For the seeds: Pipe white frosting on top for the seeds!
    • I recommend using smaller round cake pans. I used my 9-inch cake pans and, well, it was SO MUCH CAKE. Plus I think the dome would have held better if the cake had been smaller. Bottom line: 9 inches was too big, 8 inches probably would have felt too big, too. However, those sizes will work for sure if that’s all you have or if you do in fact need a lot of cake. Otherwise, go with smaller cake pans!
    • Make sure you grease and flower the pans REALLY WELL and use parchment paper on the bottom. My cake ended up sticking to the pan a little too much on the edges in some parts. Those parts did not look pretty and I had to hide them in the back.
    • Do not use cake strips for this cake, at least for the yellow cake rounds. You want the yellow cake to dome so that the top resembles a hamburger bun. Two quick notes: First, you will still want to level one of the yellow layers and the chocolate layer since they will be stacked. Just the top yellow layer should have a dome. Second, my cakes did dome in the oven but for some reason settled down flat after cooling – I think it was the homemade cake recipe I used. I think boxed cake mix may work better in this instance. If your cake does go flat, I recommend putting more frosting between the 2nd and 3rd layers, concentrated in the middle to make the top layer “poof” up a bit more like a bun. (I didn’t do that and you can see that my bun looks flat.)

    Click here for my cake decorating post with TONS of tips for making and decorating cute cakes. That post also includes the buttercream recipe I used.

    Happy hamburger birthday cake making!


  6. Monday, November 21, 2016

    Easy Turkey Pudding Craft Perfect for Thanksgiving

    Before we take off on our Thanksgiving travels, I have to share this super cute, crazy easy Thanksgiving kids craft with you. Owen brought it home from school. It’s so simple and so cute (and so delicious…I love Hunt’s Pudding Snack Packs for some reason!) even I would do this craft with my kids. That is really saying something. I’m like the anti-craft mom.

    Simple and Easy Turkey Pudding Craft Perfect for Thanksgiving!

    Materials:

    • Chocolate Pudding Snack Pack
    • Small Googly Eyes
    • Construction paper, cut into feather shapes and small orange triangles for the nose

    Simple and Easy Turkey Pudding Craft Perfect for Thanksgiving!

    How To Make the Turkey Pudding Craft:

    • Flip the pudding snack pack upside down.
    • Using either a hot glue gun or scotch tape, attach the eyes, nose and tail feathers.
    • All done!

    You could even have the kids make these and then put them on the table at each place setting for decoration. It will keep them busy while the grown-ups are cooking and make them feel like they’ve contributed.

    I never thought I would say this on the blog…but…Happy Crafting!


  7. Friday, October 7, 2016

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party!

    If you’ve been reading my blog for at least the last year then you know that I love making cute birthday cakes for my kids. It’s pretty much the only “supermom” thing I do. I think it’s because my mom made cute cakes for us growing up, so I simply cannot not make fun birthday cakes! Owen recently celebrated his 5th birthday and asked for a monster-themed birthday party. I thought I would shared how I made his cute yet simple monster birthday cake as well as give you a quick outline of the whole party. It was a lot of fun and easy to pull together, so I need to share the love!

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party How-To

    The Party

    • GAMES: We played two classic party games. First, Pin the Eye on the Monster. Owen and I drew the monster on posterboard then I printed out eyeballs for the kids to attach. Click here to download a PDF of the eyeballs. In addition we played Hot Potato with a stuffed monster. The kids LOVED. THE. GAMES.

    Pin the Eye on the Monster! (i.e. pin the tail on the donkey monster edition!) from @janemaynard including FREE PDF template for the eyes!

    • FELT MONSTER PUPPETS: For the main activity we made felt monster puppets! I bought felt squares at Joann’s Fabrics. I used a very simple template I created for the monster head (click here to download the template). Cut out two of each color, then hot glue gun the two pieces together, gluing around the entire edge EXCEPT the flat bottom, leaving that open (it’s a puppet, you need a place to stick your hand!). I provided the kids with cut up felt shapes, pipe cleaners, pom poms and googly eyes. The kids assembled their puppets on the floor. As they finished their designs, I carefully carried the puppets into another room. The kids played while my friend and I hot glue gunned everything onto the puppets! If you have more than a few kids, you should definitely have two glue guns and two people gluing so it doesn’t take too long. (Thanks to my friend Marie from Make and Takes for the felt puppet inspiration!)

    Simple Felt Monster Puppets for a Monster-Themed Birthday Party from @janemaynard

    • FOOD: Monster Cake (see below for instructions), ice cream and water. Easy peasy!
    • PRESENTS: We opened the presents while everyone was still at the party. I’ve started doing the coolest thing for the thank you notes. I take a picture of my child with their friend and the gift they gave with my phone. I then use the Postagram app to write up quick thank you notes (I make the kids help – I type the note while they dictate). Postagram automatically mails the postcards, then the friends not only get a thank you note but a picture from the party! It’s really cute and makes you seem like a super put-together parent (even if you’re not!). 😉
    • GOODIE BAGS: Simple goodie bags included monster pencils, monster bendables and monster lollipops.
    • DECORATIONS: These monster wall decals worked great for decorating. I added a couple of mylar balloons from The Dollar Tree and a few hanging decorations from Party City. Done!

    That’s it. Two hours of monster party fun that was cost effective and simple for me to implement, even during a busy work week. Heads up: We made 12 puppets and it took me a couple of hours to prep all the felt for the monster puppets (I worked on that while watching TV one night).

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake How-To

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party How-To

    And now for the cake. This simple monster birthday cake was one of the easiest cakes I’ve made yet. NO PIPING NECESSARY. Woohoo! Decorating the cake still takes some time (it took me about 2 hours to do all of the decorating; that does not count baking the cake the day before), but this cake design is very simple and definitely doable for all skill levels.

    Be sure to read my Cake Decorating Guide before diving in. That post has all of my tips for successfully decorating cakes as well as the recipes I use for the chocolate cake and buttercream frosting.

    • Step 1: Bake a 9″ x 13″ cake. Level cake if needed, wrap in plastic or parchment paper and freeze until hard.

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake from @janemaynard - How to Shape the Cake

    • Step 2: Place cake top side down on a cutting board. Simply cut two corners off with a curve to the cut, like you see in the photo above. The corners should be on one short end of the rectangle. The resulting cake will look like a gravestone.
    • Step 3: Do a crumb coat frosting layer then freeze or refrigerate until hardened.
    • Step 4: While the crumb coat is hardening, make the eyes and mouth. I bought white rolled fondant and black rolled fondant (Wilton’s makes fondant, I buy mine at Michael’s or Joann’s). I colored some of the white fondant blue. Click here for a free printable PDF of the eyeball and mouth template. Print one copy of this page. Roll out the white fondant and place the full eyeball template on top. With a sharp knife cut around the circle. Set the large white fondant circle aside. Roll out blue fondant then cut the eyeball template down to the size of the blue circle. Place on the rolled blue fondant, cut the circle and set aside. Repeat process again for the black circle and small white circle. Stack all the circles so they look like the original eyeball template. For the mouth, roll out the black fondant, place the mouth template on top then cut around the edge, forming the oval shape. Next cut just one of the teeth shapes from the mouth template and use that with the white fondant to make six teeth. Place white fondant pieces on the black fondant mouth. Set aside.

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party How-To

    • Step 5: Frost the cake with blue icing, using a knife or cake spreader to make icing on the top and sides as smooth as you can. Wash and dry your hands. Using your index finger, make little swirl marks all over the top of the monster so it looks like fur.
    • Step 6: Place the eyeball and mouth on the cake like you see in the picture above. You’re done!

    I’m super happy with how everything turned out, but in the end finding Owen looking at his cake like this was definitely the best part!

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party How-To


  8. Wednesday, March 9, 2016

    Totspot, a Great Way to Buy and Sell Clothes

    Today I want to share a cool app with you that I am guessing just may come in handy! A few weeks ago, the company Totspot got in contact with my friend Marie from Make and Takes and me to see if we would try out their app and let you all know how we liked it. Marie and I both tried out Totspot and loved the app. I am excited to tell you about it today!

    Totspot, a great way to buy and sell used clothes

    So, what is Totspot? Totspot is an app where you can buy and sell used clothes, shoes and accessories for babies, kids, women and men. You set up an account and then can buy clothes from others or sell some of your own. That gorgeous dress that your daughter literally wore one time? Sell it! Looking for an awesome vintage Star Wars t-shirt? Buy it!

    Totspot has a website, but the app is where it’s at. Marie and I both highly recommend you use the service through the phone app. Once you create an account you can set up profiles for each person in your family with sizing information. Once profiles are created, you can search what is available on Totspot at any given time by profile. The app’s interface is clear and easy to use. I ended up buying a super cute Gap dress for myself and then a few fun things for my kids, some of which were brand new with tags still on them!

    Totspot, a great way to buy and sell used clothes

    Once you make a purchase and it is shipped to you, you go into the app and either accept or decline the order as well as rank the seller. If you didn’t get what you were expecting, you don’t have to pay for it. This is how sellers are kept accountable and you can feel safe shopping through the app.

    As far as selling clothes goes, you can sell them yourself, which is super easy to do with the app linking to your camera. You can also use the Totspot Concierge service, which is what I’m most excited about. Totspot sends you a bag with a shipping label. You bag up your stuff and send it off to one of their successful sellers, who takes care of selling the clothes and then you share the cut. Anything unsold is donated to charity. I just got my concierge bag in the mail this week and can’t wait to send some stuff off to be sold!

    Totspot Concierge Service

    Totspot definitely has a strong sense of community and users are incredibly friendly and helpful. And both of my orders, which came from different sellers, arrived personalized and wrapped in cute paper. I was super impressed! Shipping is based on the size of the order, and as you are ordering, the app makes it easy to bundle from one seller to get a discount on your order. There are so many little details like this throughout the buying and selling process that make the app super cool and easy to use.

    I know this post is sounding all salesy, but seriously, Totspot is great! Marie and I both love it and are happy to share it with you!

    And we’d love to give you a chance to try out Totspot, too! Which means…GIVEAWAY TIME! One winner is going to receive $150 gift card to Totspot to get shopping! Follow the form below to enter. Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    To join Totspot, you can create an account on their website or simply download the app on IOS or Android and set up your account through the app. When you join Totspot, be sure to use my referral code GHCOQG to get $5! And here is a cute video about how to sell on Totspot!

    Today’s post and giveaway were sponsored by Totspot. They also provided me with $50 towards my first purchase.


  9. Wednesday, January 13, 2016

    Easy Ladybug Cupcakes

    Today I wanted to share the easy ladybug cupcakes I made for Cate’s birthday. One of my “things” as a mom is making fun birthday cakes for my kids, but this year Anna simply wanted a cake made out of donuts and Cate wanted chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing. While I was a little disappointed to not be making more elaborate cakes, I will admit it was a nice break, especially one week before Christmas.

    Quick tutorial for easy ladybug cupcakes from @janemaynard

    Then, the day of her birthday, Cate informed me that she wanted ladybug cupcakes. I was like, “Uh, what?” I was completely unprepared, but really wanted to come through for her. Luckily I had some red cupcake liners and a pack of candy eyes in the cabinet and was able to pull these off!

    Quick tutorial for easy ladybug cupcakes from @janemaynard

    These ladybug cupcakes are seriously EASY.

    • Cook the cupcakes in red or black cupcake papers.
    • Make a batch of buttercream frosting. Color about 2/3 of it with red food coloring (you’ll need a lot of food color!). Color the rest of the buttercream with black food coloring.
    • Frost the cupcakes with red buttercream using a butter knife, spreading the frosting on smoothly (doesn’t have to be perfect!).
    • Place the black frosting in a piping bag with a small, round tip. Pipe on the outline of the wings, the polka dots, and a head, as shown in the diagram below.
    • Finish off the ladybug with small candy eyes placed on the black icing piped on as the head, right at the edge of the cupcake.

    How to decorate easy ladybug cupcakes from @janemaynard

    I was able to knock these cupcakes out no problem, and the design is so simple even the non-artistic among us can pull it off.

    Click here to get the recipes I used for the chocolate cake and buttercream frosting. (Feel free to use a cake mix, I’m not keeping track!)

    Happy decorating!


  10. Tuesday, September 29, 2015

    Another Birthday, Another Cake! Owen’s Anchor Birthday Cake

    If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I like to make fun birthday cakes for my kids. Before you start feeling guilty for not making fun birthday cakes for your kids, don’t, because I promise there are plenty of other things you do as a parent that I’m failing at. If, however, you are like me and making fun birthday cakes is your thing, I do like to share my cakes with you so you can steal my ideas!

    how to make a kids' birthday anchor cake by @janemaynard + recipe for vanilla cake

    Owen had a pirate themed birthday party this year and he decided he wanted an anchor cake. Nate and I tried to talk him into a pirate flag cake. That would have been SO EASY…just a 9×13 cake with black frosting, topped with a fondant skull and crossbones rolled out and cut into the right shape…if only. But alas, he wouldn’t go for it. Anchors away!

    At first I thought an anchor cake would be easy peasy. Shaping the cake was in fact simple, However, frosting the cake was WICKED HARD. So many nooks and crannies around the edge! My frosting skills were no match and this was my worst-frosted cake ever, but it still looked cute enough and 4-year-olds surprisingly don’t notice these things.

    how to make a kids' birthday anchor cake by @janemaynard + recipe for vanilla cake

    Here’s how to make an anchor cake!

    • Bake a 9″ x 13″ cake.
    • Draw your anchor shape onto the cake oriented vertically by scoring the top of the cake with a sharp knife, then cut the cake into the shape. Make it a nice tall anchor. It’s okay to have the top circle cut off and the side “arrow” thingies cut off because you can…
    • …use the large cake scraps to shape pieces to round off the top of the anchor and add to the arrow-shaped sides.
    • For the chain, I mixed black food coloring into white fondant to make grey. I rolled out skinny snake shapes and linked them together. The final touch was to lightly brush the chain with metallic edible silver dust from Wilton. That was Anna’s idea and it made the chain look AWESOME. I rolled out a thin white disc for the hole in the top of the anchor where the chain is attached.

    how to make a kids' birthday anchor cake by @janemaynard + recipe for vanilla cakeClick here for my comprehensive “Amateur’s Guide to Making Super Cute Cakes,” which includes a recipe for chocolate cake and buttercream frosting as well as LOTS of tips for shaping and decorating cakes. And, because I’ve never shared it before, below is the recipe for vanilla cake we use, which was what Owen requested. This recipe comes from my favorite cake book, Cakes for Kids by Matthew Mead. The book is out of print but there are copies on Amazon.

    how to make a kids' birthday anchor cake by @janemaynard + recipe for vanilla cake

    The best part of Owen’s cake had absolutely nothing to do with the cake. The wind blew out his candles while we were singing. Nate quickly relit them all, then the wind blew 3 of the 4 candles out again. Nate went to relight them AGAIN. Instead Owen just rolled with the punches and blew out the one candle. It was super cute, although I suspect that he knew 1 candle was easier to blow out than 4. Crafty guy.

    Vanilla Cake
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    This is a great basic vanilla cake recipe from Matthew Mead's "Cakes for Kids" book. I've re-written the directions in my own words.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for pans
    • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ⅔ cup butter at room temperature
    • 1¾ cups sugar
    • 2 large eggs, room temp
    • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1¼ cups milk
    • 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange or lemon zest (optional)
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
    2. This recipe works for 24 cupcakes, 2 8-inch or 9-inch cakes, or 1 9x13 cake. If using cupcake liners, place liners in muffin tin and set aside. If using cake pan(s), lightly grease the bottom of the cake pan, line it with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper and the sides of the pan. Lightly flour the pan. Set aside.
    3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2½ cups flour, baking powder and salt.
    4. Using a stand mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl.
    5. Leaving the mixer on medium speed, add ¼ cup sugar. Beat for 3 minutes. Keep adding sugar ¼ cup at a time, mixing for 3 minutes between each addition until you've added all the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes.
    6. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating at medium speed for 30 seconds between each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
    7. With the mixer on low speed, add ⅓ of the flour mixture, then half of the milk, then ⅓ of the flour mixture, then the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour mixture, mixing until just combined for each addition. If using zest, add it now.
    8. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then give the batter one more mix at high speed for 20 seconds.
    9. Spread the batter in the pan, filling cake pans or cupcakes ⅔ full with batter.
    10. For 8- or 9-inch cakes, bake for 30-35 minutes. For 9x13 cake, bake for 35-40 minutes. For cupcakes bake for 10-12 minutes. Toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean when done.
    11. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a knife, cut around the edges of the cake, then invert the pan over the wire rack, lift pan to remove cake and peel off parchment paper. Let cake cool completely on the rack. For cupcakes, let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing.