Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cake Balls - A 2 Day Adventure

A couple of weeks ago, my cousin Samantha turned 21.  Her mom hosted a fabulous party filled with food, family, drinks and CAKE BALLS.  I had never heard of cake balls but was quick to try one at the party.  I quickly found out that I was in love.  These things were amazing!  I proceeded to eat a few too many cake balls throughout the night and found myself thinking about them in the days after the party.

I was snooping around online and came across the website for Bakerella.  She has an entire section of her website devoted to these tasty treats.  Her recipe for red velvet cake balls had me drooling and it was then that I realize that I had to try to make these myself.

Now, a little background about my culinary skills.  I have none.  My sister Heather is the baker in the family, as are my grandmothers and aunts.  I have the creative gene, however that gene really has not influenced my skills in the kitchen.  I was really set on making these cake balls though, so I psyched myself up for them by telling myself it was simply an Art project with a new medium.  I could totally handle that, right?

Well, Day 1 of the cake ball adventure started.  I was following this simple recipe:
-Bake any boxed cake mix (I chose devil's food)
-When cake is done, take it out of the oven and crumble immediately
-Let cake cool
-Once cool, mix crumbs with one jar of frosting (I chose cream cheese)
-Roll mixture into bite size balls, lay on cookie sheet lined with wax paper
-Freeze for 30 minutes or until cake balls are firm
-Once firm, dip in white or millk chocolate, refridgerate, and serve

Sounds easy, right?!  WRONG.

I started the adventure with my sister -she had high hopes in making some rather fancy cake balls.  I was sticking to plain chocolate.  By the end of the evening, I had burned 2 batches of chocolate and ruined one strawberry cake.  I still had my devil's food mix and was able to dip them.  Online you will find photos of beautifully smooth cakeballs that look divine, like this example from Bakerella:

Now, please feast your eyes on the tragedy that was my first set of cakeballs:

How awful!!!  This nightmare was the result of hours of work and frustration.  I had watched 2 YouTube videos, read articles and researched my dipping skills.  Obviously, it is not as easy as it looks!

So, I went to bed feeling defeated, but I wasn't ready to give up just yet.  The next day, my cousin and good buddy, Emily, came over and we got to work.    We made our next set of cake balls a little smaller and worked hard to perfect our dipping:

Emily was a good dipper and this was what we got in our 2nd round - a big improvement I must say!

In the meantime, my Aunt purchased Bakerella's book and brought it over.  After some more research, we realized the key to great presentation would have to involve a candy mold.  So, we got one and the results were so much better than before!

However, as we worked, we realized we still had some issues.  Note the size difference of these two!:

 After we put the cake balls in the molds, we let them sit in the freezer for about 5 minutes.  We then spooned chocolate on the top and the result was so irresitably cute!  I was so proud of us!  AND, the kicker is, not only did they look great, but they tasted awesome!

So, all in all, the cake ball process was pretty intense and fun.  One boxed mix made 112 cake balls - that is a lot of work!  However, they were cute and delicious and I was finally able to put my craving to rest.  My final thought - I'm sticking with creating stationery and purchasing tasty treats.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Some Goodies to Share

Throughout this past year I have been branching out and creating invites and stationery far beyond just wedding invitations.  One trend that I love is having all parts of your wedding coordinate, like this wedding set I created last year:
(Photo courtesy of Elizabeth K Photography, isn't she talented?!)

It allows the bride and groom to establish their own wedding "brand" per say, and it also allows me to play around with other stationery.

Coordinating invitations and programs seems especially important to brides.  Earlier in the summer I created this invitation:

And recently was able to create a coordinating program:

I also create a lot of misc. invitations and stationery.  Recently I was asked to create a bachelorette party invitation that was girly and fabulous.  I came up with this black, white and hot pink invitation, featuring a little bling:

I thought these invitations were simple, yet fun.  I am sure these girls will have a fun night on the town!

Stay tuned to the blog later on this week to read about my adventure attempting to make the oh so delicious cake balls, it was quite the experience!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Zebra, Bling, and Pink, Oh My!

Recently I had the honor of designing a few items for my cousin's diva style 21st birthday party.  My cousin is a fabulous girl and she loves all things shiny, bright and fun.  So, in coming up with a theme for her party, the idea of bling was a no brainer.  I designed these 4x6 invitations to give guests a hint of the party to come: 

For the party I was also able to make one of my favorite products - personalized water bottle labels.  I customized these labels based on a previous design that I had and tweaked it so it fit Samantha's party theme.  The water bottles looked sleek and they were a nice addition to add to the decor and overall theme:

Earlier in the year I had designed these labels for a bachelorette party.  I was able to easily tweak the design so that it fit this party.  The photos below were taken by my friend at Elizabeht K Photography - she does such a great job!
These water bottle labels can be created for any event - how fun would it be to have these at your next party?!  It's the little details that make the difference and this product will surely wow your guests!  Whether you have a wedding, shower, birthday party or girl's night coming up, consider these personalized labels to add a little fun to the decor!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Just a Note...

Awhile back I blogged about these birthday invitations:

Now, I am excited to show you the adorable coordinating thank you cards that Layla's mommy ordered for her!  These thank you notes coordinate with the party invite and showcase pictures of Little Miss on her 1st birthday, enjoying her cake.  What a fun idea!

I have been creating more and more thank you cards lately, it seems to be a trend to have thank you notes that coordinate with the other event stationery.  I couldn't agree more!  The thank you notes below were made to coordinate with baby shower invitations that I created earlier in the summer.  What I like about these is the fact that yes, they coordinate with the stationery, but they also could be used for any other occassion.

A few weeks ago I was blessed with the opportunity to take a family trip to Alaska.  Nothing can compare to the majestic beauty of that state.  I had my camera in tow the entire trip and came home with over 490 photos!!  I decided to have several of my photos printed and made into notecards so that I can share the beauty that I encountered with others.  The set below features some beautiful flowers, taken in Talkeetna, Alaska.  The vibrant colors and the delicate beauty of these caught my eye and I just had to grab a snapshot of them.

Here is where the fun comes in.  It's been awhile since I have ran any sort of contest, so I figured why not now?  These notecards (set of 8) will be given away to one lucky winner, to be chosen Friday at 1pm.  Here are the rules:

You can receive extra contest entries by doing one or more of the following:

- +1 entry for following my blog
- +1 entry for commenting on my facebook fan page
- +1 etnry for being a fan of my facebook page
- +1 entry for sharing my facebook page with your friends

(Be sure to leave a comment for each +1 entry, so that it "counts". Meaning, leave a seperate comment if you are a facebook fan, blog fan, etc.) 

Monday, August 1, 2011

The ROOTs of Friendship

Part of what I enjoy about this job is creating a special piece of artwork for two people that they will always cherish as a part of their wedding memories.  Though some view wedding invitations as simply a piece of paper, I personally look at them as a special momento, that introduces wedding guests to the night of magic ahead.  Each invitation that I create is special and unique, whether a bride changes the colors or the font or creates a whole new design, each one is special.

What makes this job even better is when I can create something special for people that mean a lot to me.  I am blessed with a large family and many close friends, so thankfully I have this opportunity from time to time.  Everytime a family member or friend asks me to create stationery for them, I am honored.  I feel honored that they trust my creativity, artistic ability and expertise to handle a task that is so important.

This wedding set that I will be showing you today is certainly a special one.  It is special for a couple reasons: 1) I have never created a wedding set like this and it was a wonderful creative challenge 2) it was for a special friend that I have known for years.

Before even discussing ideas with the bride, I knew this was going to be pretty awesome.  She is a very classy girl and I just knew it would be fun and easy to work with her on this.  Once we got rolling, it was even easier.  She was super duper organized, knew just what she wanted, and once she, myself, and her uber-creative sister put our heads together, we came up with a complete wedding suite that was basically all around fabulous.

Let's start with the bridal shower invitations.  These 5x7 invitations were simple, cute, and classic.  Featuring a monogram that ties in with the invitation, they were the perfect start for this wedding set:
Next up is the amazing, outstanding, fabulous, totally cool work of art that is her wedding invitation.  Notice how the stationery starts to coordinate from this point on - I love that.  For the invitation, the bride chose a metallic black vertical pocketfold inviation with dark purple matting behind the invitation and sealed with a monogram, matted on the same paper:

Now, because these invitations were oh, so beautiful, and my photos could not do them any justice, I had my friend at Elzabeth K Photography snap some professional shots.  Aren't they great?!

One thing I love about a wedding is when the bride and groom are able to add personal touches and details to make the day truly represent them.  This was the case with this wedding and this next part was truly the most unique and fun place card design I had ever done.  The bride and groom are avid sports fans, so rather than numbering tables, they wanted to represent their favorite sports teams by naming the tables.  Each table was labeled with a team name and logo, like this:

Then, to top it off, guests did not pick up place cards to direct them to their table, they picked up tickets that looked like tickets to a sporting event to direct them to their table.  How fun is that?!  I was so excited making these, they were just so fun and so unique, I loved everything about them!

And of course, I had a really cute keepsake made for them by Remaking Memories, but I was not able to get a photo of it to post.

Overall, this wedding set was a lot of fun to create and I am so happy with how it turned out.  I am also so happy for my friend that she found her true love.  Cheers to many, many years of happiness, Suzanne and Chris!