Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Crab Cupcakes - They'll Do in a Pinch!

This is How to Make Crab Cupcake-Toppers
I made these crab cupcakes for my daughter's sea creature-themed birthday party and they were a huge hit with the adults and kids alike.  I came across them in a book I checked out at the library called "Super-Duper Cupcakes: Kids' Creations from the Cupcake Caboose."  It's by Elaine Cohen and I'd recommend looking through it if you're planning a party for kids - there are some really neat ideas for a variety of different themes.

This is What You Need

  • A package of orange slices (orange smiles) gummy candy.  You'll need three pieces for each crab.
  • A tube of black decorating gel
  • A sharp knife
  • A cutting board
  • Some frosted cupcakes that need a finishing touch or "pinch," I should say.  A blue frosting looks nice as does a graham cracker crumb sand effect.
This is What You Do
Cut 3 pieces of candy in half lengthwise so each one makes two thin half-circles. 

You should end up with 6 half-circles.  This photo only shows 2, but you get the idea.

Set one of the half-circles aside - it will be the crab's body.  Eat one of the half-circles or save it in case you mess up somewhere along the line. You should have 4 half-circles to work with now.  Cut the rounded edge off of these 4 half-circles.

You should end up with 4 pointy pieces and 4 rectangles.  This photo only shows 2 of each, but you get the idea...again.

Set aside the 4 pointy pieces - they will be the crab's claws.  Cut one of the rectangles in half lengthwise to make 2 rectangular strips.  Eat the leftover rectangle or save it in case you mess up.

Cut 4 little squares from one of the rectangular strips - these will be the joints that connect the crab's claws to his body and his eyes.  You won't use the whole strip.

Cut 4 or 6 tiny rectangles from the remaining strips - these will be the legs  They should be about half the size of the squares you cut for the joints.  I say 4 or 6 because they are sticky and tricky to work with.  You might not want to make all 6 and they look just fine with 4.

Now you should have all of these pieces:

Time to assemble your crab.  It's best to assemble it on the cutting board first so you have an idea of where to place it on your cupcake.  They do fit on a regular sized cupcake, but it's a tight squeeze.  A Texas sized cupcake would allow more room for the little fella.  Start with the main body piece and then add one square joint on either side.  Then add 2 square pieces along the straight edge of the body for the eyes.  Place the legs along the bottom of the body in two clusters.  Use one drop of the decorating gel on each eye square to complete the eyes.

Now he just needs some claws!  Use two of the pointy claw pieces on each side to finish your little crustacean.

Once you've got him all laid out you can put him right on top of the frosting and he'll stick perfectly.  If you want a sandy effect, dip a white-frosted cupcake into a shallow dish filled with crushed graham cracker crumbs.  You'll need to put a dollop of frosting on the crab's body piece and claw pieces to get them to adhere to the crumbs.  The small square pieces will be fine without a dollop because they easily stick to the body on thier own.
Feel free to contact me if any part of this tutorial leaves you scratching your head and wondering what the heck I'm talking about.  This is my first attempt at a tutorial and I'm sure there's room for improvement.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ducks in a Row Apron

This is by far my favorite apron.  This duck fabric was given to me by my grandma who has made many an apron and quilt and frock and whatnot in her day.  I fell in love with the fabric and knew right away that it would make a splendid apron for my daughter. 

Sadly, the apron spent the first year or so of its life in a drawer because Susannah didn't like to wear it.  Now, however, she loves wearing it for any occasion so I was able to get some pictures of it on her. 

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Controlled Squeezing and Squirting

The party was a success!  The weather cooperated and the kids had fun.  I've already shared a couple of things I created for the party as I made them this past month, but there's still more to share.  You haven't seen the cupcakes yet!  I used a cake mix and store bought frosting because I'm no baker but I can add food coloring.  I piped the frosting on for a fancy-schmancy effect because that's the extent of my pastry skills -- controlled squeezing and squirting.  Then I topped them off with a pre-made, usually edible, decoration.  Feast your eyes on these:

This time I really pushed my skills to the limit and made candies with a seashell mold I found at Joann's - which was just as easy as the back of the package made it seem. 

I dipped some of the cupcakes in a shallow dish filled with store bought graham cracker crumbs to make "sand" and then put a dollop of frosting on the back of the shell to help it stay in place.

I got the crab idea from a cupcake book I checked out at the library.  I'll have all the information on that in an upcoming tutorial.  It, too was super easy to assemble and very popular with the younger guests.

The rest of the cupcakes were adorned with gummy candy or plastic pics left over from previous parties.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Before and After

(can you tell what it's going to be?)

(if you guessed "jellyfish pinata," you were right!)

Just in time for the birthday party, which is today. I finished it yesterday and as long as it can withstand some eager party guests yanking on its ribbons, it'll be an overall success. The finished product is only similar to the original image I had in my head, but I am still very pleased with how it turned out. It was supposed to be less Pac-Man ghost-shaped and more dome-shaped, but this was my first time working with chicken wire and paper mache (papier mache).

Well, I have some last minute party preparations to make before the other two members of my household wake up.  I hope your sea creature tolerance is high because you'll probably be bombarded by party-related pictures for the next week or so.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Crafts and Activities for a Sea Creature Party

These days, all of my crafty energies are being devoted to getting things ready for the fast-approaching sea creature-themed birthday party.  So that's what I'll be sharing until the 19th has come and gone.  Between affixing goopy layers of newspaper to the jellyfish-shaped glob in my garage (it's supposed to be a pinata in a couple of days) I've been gathering supplies for the crafty portion of the party.  Here's the test-run of the "make your own picture frame" craft:

I borrowed one of those small photo printers and plan to take a picture of each kid as they arrive.  If all goes as planned, the pictures will be ready for their foamy adornments by craft time.  Traditionally, I am not a fan of these pre-cut foamy things.  There is little room left for imagination and creativity when your shapes are predetermined.  However, they are just what the doctor ordered when you need a quick, simple, party craft that's appropriate for all ages.  It was really easy to find shapes that went with my theme, they're self-adhesive and they're affordable.   

The supplies for the "make your own sea creature bracelet" craft are also ready and now all we need are some eager party guests to string 'em up!

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Octopi As Far As the Eye (Can See)

I started with futuregirl's Supercute Sea Creature pattern  about three weeks ago.  Now, 34 felt octopi (that's 272 tentacles), 68 googly eyes, and 408 sequins later...

...I am ready to mail off the birthday party invitations!

In case you can't read the wording "Come under the sea and celebrate with me!  You're o-fish-ally invited to Susannah's 4th birthday party...We hope to SEA you there!"  I know it's corny, but I love puns and until she's old enough to protest, Susannah's invitations will be brimming with word play.

Sea Creature Cupcakes (includes a tutorial)
The Jellyfish Pinata I Made
Drawstring Goodie Bags (includes a link to a tutorial)
Party Craft #1 - Sea Creature Bead Bracelet
Party Craft #2 - Picture Frame Using Sea Creature Foamies

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Holy Fleece Cephalopod, Batman!

It's birthday party season here in the Berry household!  Yeah, it's pretty much a season because, although the actual birthday is not until mid-September, I started scheming in my mind what the theme should be at least a month ago.  I can't help it.  It's a great creative outlet for me and it only comes once a year, what with Susannah being an only child and all.  This year's theme:  Sea Creatures!  The invitations are almost done and the food and activities are all planned out.  Just two projects remain:  sewing the goodie bags and manipulating newspaper and a sticky flour/water mixture to form a jellyfish pinata.

I plan on posting pictures of all these creations as I complete them.  Until then, here's the reason I'm a little behind on the invitations. 

I decided I could make a big, fleece octopus without a pattern or any previous experience making big, fleece creatures.  It took a lot longer than I anticipated but I'm very happy with the results.

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