Monday, September 11, 2017

How to Tier & Decorate a Store-Bought Cake

 

When I get a vision of how I want something to look, it’s pretty hard to change my mind (as my mother and husband know very well). It is probably both a pro and con of my personality. I get determined on my plan and follow it through. Well, our triple birthday cake was one of those visions. I wanted something tiered, simply decorated, easy, budget-friendly, and a way to announce our pregnancy.

After a bunch of market research to specialty cake stores and grocery stores, I learned that designer cakes would cost about $200 and a lot of traditional grocery cakes did not have the ability to create multiple different sizes of round cakes. Then one of my many lunch trips to Whole Foods, I just figured I would ask…and behold…they did do 9”, 6”, and 4” round cakes that the bakery manager said I could tier myself at home for around $60 compared to the tiered wedding cake they could make for about $200. YES!! I was ecstatic. Having the ability to order each of the 3 layers with different special flavors for each of us (Willie got vanilla triple berry, I got chocolate chocolate ganache, and Hartley got vanilla boston crème) then they used the same buttercream outside for cohesiveness worked out perfectly. Ohh and in the long-run probably only cost me about $30 more by the time I bought pans, ingredients, and cake piping materials…oh and about 100% less stress.

So when I got them home the morning I kept them in the fridge until about 2 hours before the party started. Then all I did was start with the 9” on my thrift store cake stand. Then, I placed a wooden dowel from the top all the way until it hit the stand to measure where I needed to cut. You want the wooden dowel to be right level or a tad below the top of your cake (notice the below pic…this is too high, I needed to cut off more to be flush with top). I placed 4 wooden rods in my 9” base cake. I also decided to leave the base cake board on the 6” to layer just for ease or transfer and it matched the gold theme we had going. But this is not necessary if you want to tier cake to cake. I did the same measuring for the 6” dowels and placed 3 to hold the 4” topper. Then, I carefully used a spatula and fingers to transfer the 4” from its cardboard base to the top of the 6” cake.

Finally once it was all tiered, I decorated using my stunning farmers market flowers I got for the party. Having a good assortment of greenery and flowers allows for the most creativity. There really is no specific technique to placement, just snip about an inch from the bloom so you have some of stem to stick into the side or bottom of the cake. Then layer different colors and sizes to your preference. I finished with the year “toppers” for each cake that I made with numbers, wooden dowels, and hot glue. Then lastly, the Happy Birthday gold candles.

I had stashed the 2018 year in my china cabinet which Willie smuggled out along with the sprinkle cupcake. So when we got behind the bar, I just placed the 2018 on top so I could grab and SURPRISE! It was perfect. And just luckily the cupcake fit flawlessly on the top in-between the candles.

So for $60 for the cake (9” was $30, 6” was $20, and the 4” was $10) plus $6 in flowers, $3 candles, and $5 in numbers and dowels that I multi-purposed to use for my cake rods…I think it was a stunning DIY version of a decorated cake! Don’t underestimate the power of store-bought cakes. You can tier and decorate yourself for a custom vision of your own! DIY Playbook has a great naked cake version if you want to check that out too!

Photos: Myself and Kimberly Lyddane Photography

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

DIY Staircase Renovation {Gel Stain and Iron}

Our stairway remodel is finally done! Thank goodness! This project that started as a Mother’s Day weekend endeavor took us about 3 weekends and some days to complete. The process was grueling and met with some challenges, however I am ecstatic with the results. The foyer is going to be completely different once we have new hardwoods in the darker palette to match the handrails.  

To start, our friends completed this project successfully and were able to lend some tips…until we found out that our balusters were screwed in from the bottom, which was a HUGE complication that we couldn’t find any guidance on in our YouTube video or blog searches. So, unfortunately the only solution we found was to remove the entire stair sections to unscrew the wooden balusters from the bottom. To do this Willie used a variety of methods (saw, hammering a wedge in-between, nail cutters, etc.) but these little suckers were glued and had finishing nails in them, so this was a huge time sink. The one large piece took him, his dad, and me almost 3 hours to remove! However, if you are lucky like most of the bloggers and DIY videos, your balusters should be “peg-like” in the bottom and just be able to saw through and turn the top and bottom piece out of there holes. This also eliminates and issue of losing levelness, angle of stairway, oh and just the minor detail of securing these babies back on! I won’t get too much in the detail of removing and re-attaching because I pray you won’t have this issue and honestly it’s complete trail-and-error and patience to get these on and off.

How to Replace Wooden with Iron Balusters:

  1.  Remove wooden baluster (saw through and wiggle pieces out, or unscrew from bottom)
  2. Create hole for new iron baluster (if pegged it may fit already, but for us since there was no hole we used a 5/8″ spade bit to create a hole) – we also could only do a few out a time to ensure we didn’t lose the levelness of the top part, so this delayed the project again.
  3. Measure iron baluster (use an one wooden one for rough guidance making a pencil mark where to cut, then you can measure down – remember to get this all the way up in the top hole before thinking it’s too long – we learned that hard way)
  4. Cut iron baluster to length (we used our miter saw and a metal blade – also wear goggles and gloves)
  5. Once baluster fits snuggly in the two holes, you are ready to secure. But first, add the shoes. We used tape to hold it up because I had to stain later, but this is not necessary if you are just doing the balusters. Also, you can do a shoe at the top if desired as well.
  6. Then secure top and bottom with epoxy glue. If you get any on the iron, you will want to wipe it off because it will show.
  7. Let dry 24 hours and you can go back and secure the shoes with clear epoxy if needed.
  8. We alternated the double twist baluster and the single basket baluster. Flat baluster shoe and angled baluster shoe.

 Gel Stain:

I used the General Finishes Java Gel Stain like many bloggers recommended. This product does work well if you don’t want to sand much, but if I had thought about more AND because we ended up having to remove everything, I would have sanded and used a traditional stain for a more lasting wood grain textured look. The General Finishes paint required 3-4 coats so it is super dark, which once I get darker hardwoods probably won’t be as noticeable but right now it’s a little drastic. The top coat also requires sanding in-between, which honestly I did not do, so I will have to see how the wear is without sanding in-between the 3 coats of topcoat I did. After staining and topcoat, we had to touch up our baseboards from getting the staircases removed and re-chalk.

So what do you think?!?! Here are some good before and afters!

Monday, June 5, 2017

DIY Faux Brick Wall Tutorial

One of my good friends, Nicole, has been talking about doing this faux brick wall forever and it’s finally done!! If you remember my post from Kathy with Our Amore Blog a few weeks ago, this is her fabulous niece she was referring to who introduced us. Nicole is such a planner and tested all sorts of methods of distressing this brick before she dove on in, and all the trial and error paid off because it’s looks awesome.

Supplies:

  • Faux Brick Panels (Nicole bought hers at Home Depot and had them cut to her measurements) – about $25 per panel
  • Nail Gun and nails
  • Dremel or sharp exacto-knife for cutting holes for outlets
  • Spackle (brand below – She used almost 4 of these canisters, so may be cheaper buying a bigger once depending on your wall size)
  • Putty Knife
  • Painters Tape to protect walls
  • Sandpaper

Installation:

  1. Measure your walls and get the precise cuts you need for your wall
  2. Plan how pattern will line up
  3. Cut panels (Home Depot will do this for you if you have your measurements, highly recommended since this stuff is hard to cut straight and is a HUGE time saver)
  4. Use a razor or dremal to cut holes for outlets
  5. Use nail gun once positioned to secure to wall * Tip – Work in at least a pair to help position and secure to wall. The panels are a little ackward and can shift easily in the installation process. Working alone will be frustrating and a huge time sink.

White “German Smear” Technique:

  1. Scoop the spackle on to the end of the spreading knife
  2. Smear the spackle on to the wall (how thick or thin you leave it is up to you)
  3. After you have done a small section, using your finger, smear out some of the excess spackle from the “grout” of the brick
  4. Continue this process until your wall is covered
  5. As the spackle begins to dry, wet your fingers to and lightly trace the “grout”.  We found that this helped smooth it out. *Tip- If possible, work in a pair like Nicole in her mom did. One person smears large amounts with putty knife while other person comes in behind to add/smear with wet fingertips. It dries fast so it will lessen the amount of time of alternating bewteen fingers and putty knife.
  6. Let the wall completely dry
  7. After the wall is dry, you can use your sandpaper to distress it (how much you sand off is personal preference)

Of course you can leave the brick color if you would like, but the white distressing is perfect for Nicole’s Tuscan vibe and all decor. It also makes this accent wall pop and help makes the room look bigger. She is looking for some accent pieces for the sides of the fireplace…any ideas?

Monday, February 27, 2017

DIY Doily Bohemian Dreamcatcher

Hope everyone had a fabulous Valentine’s Day! I took Hartley to get her nails painted for the very first time and she LOVED it. She got one hand pink and one hand red with sparkles on-top (of course). If you’ve been following my blog for a while I am superstitious and have to have my nails painted OPI Big Apple Red for Valentine’s Day, since my first date with Willie (13 years ago, oh my gosh) he picked me up from the nail salon and I had that color and we’ve been going strong since. Hartley was so proud and showed EVERYONE her nails at dinner, ahhh she melts my heart.

I’m ecstatic for this dreamcather project to be done because it means I’m that much closer to finishing Hartley’s big girl room! I’ve been procrastinating finishing her room because she is so good in her crib that I kind of want to leave her in there forever (can I?). And as a mom, I feel like leaving the crib is a HUGE milestone, that I may tear up for a bit.  This was the last major piece I wanted to finish before putting everything on the walls. Thanks to Pinterest I had some fabulous inspiration and gathered numerous ideas from different bloggers to create my unique take on the DIY Doily Bohemian Dream Catcher.

For mine, I incorporated store-bought doilies (you can use vintage ones if you can find at an antique market or thrift store, I even thought of using my grandmother’s handmade ones, but thought lightning would strike me if I did that!), flowers, lace, ribbon, and feathers (I re-used the feathers from my Thanksgiving tablescape). I also saw lots of people using wood as their top hanging piece, but I found this beautiful molding at the At Home store that I thought would make a better topper for the boho/vintage look I was going for. You also don’t need this piece if you are just creating a single dreamcathcer. Just follow the tutorial and stop when connecting the multiple embroidery hoops.

Here is what you will need:

  1. Wood/Molding Topper – mine was a little pricy at $24.99, but you can slash this cost using wood or twine
  2. Embroidery Hoops(I bought 2″ for the pink doilies but didn’t end up using, so for what I created I used 9-Inch and 12-Inch)
  3. Doilies (I found the 2” pink ones on clearance at Michaels for $2.99 for 4pk (I didn’t end up using these but have mini ones for a gift or something) and then ordered the 4pc- 9 Inch White Doilies ones for $12 – I have seen these at the thrift but I did not have luck on my recent trips)
  4. Torn fabric to wrap around hoop (you can use ribbon but that would get expensive, try using an old drop cloth, pillowcase, linen shirt or tablecloth) – I used a mix of cut ribbon and a dropcloth by cutting thin long pieces
  5. Yarn (thin for attaching doilies and thicker version for hanging pieces)
  6. Ribbon (go straight to the $1.99 bin of ribbon first) – Michaels has a fabulous selection
  7. Hot Glue Gun and Glue
  8. Artificial Flowers (optional)
  9. Feathers (optional)

Total Cost was about $65 (like I mentioned I went ALL OUT on mine, but you can make a version of this much cheaper but excluding items and/or using a different hanging method)

How to create:

  1. Start with wrapping all the embroidery loops with the torn fabric , glue the start and try using long enough pieces to make it fully around the loop, then glue the end.
  2. Once fully wrapped, start connecting the doilies using a thinner yarn on the edges. Just loop the yarn through the doily hole and knot on the edge. For the lower hanging dreamcatcher on the 9″ loop, I cut of .5″ around the edge to make it smaller then the one on-top of it.
  3. If you are doing a multiple version like I was, map out your placement before you add the embellishments. You will not want to add hanging embellishments for those that are connected at the top. For those that have the ability to get hanging ribbon, and lace…start adding by simply cutting a long enough piece to fold in half (not perfect) and attach by a loop-pull-through over the hoop on the bottom. Add the feathers by just using the ends of the twine or yarn to make tight knots. Add flowers by disconneting the stem and cutting off the hard green piece (you will know what this is once you have them) and attach to the loop with hot glue.
  4. Once all the dreamcatchers are completed, finish by connecting the individual ones to connect to one another in the design template you created. I was orginally going to use the small hot pink ones, but didn’t like them, so I just had to connect one.
  5. Finally connect the dreamcathers to your molding, I lucked out because there was already hangers on the back so I just connected the the three top dreamcathers with twine and knotting around the hangers, but you can wrap around, add nail hangers, or glue on.

Finally make your nail hole on the wall and voila! A beautiful boho chic dreamcather any girl would love. I love the way this turned out and super excited for her room to be done since it’s been such a pouring of love and sweat to make her room just as perfect as she is (cheesy…I know). Hope you enjoy creating one of your very own!

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