my work

 

Sunday
Apr182010

austin's birthday party

I'm not much of a DIY-er. I'd rather pay a professional than spend hours in frustration trying to work with my hands. But recently, I found myself volunteering to make the invitations as well as the favors and cupcakes for my best friend's three year-old's birthday. I trust myself when it comes to the first. Following is the story of why I've got some practice in store for me on the second and third.

Once the invitations were mailed out, I knew there was no turning back. So I did some research online and, as I've mentioned before, found inspiration through some amazingly talented and creative party throwing blogs.

Taking the advice of an expert, I prepared weeks in advance. My trusty assistant, June29 and I spent hours making and freezing Angie Gubler's cream cheese sugar cookies shaped as firetrucks and fire hydrants. During the week of the party, we took our time making the favor labels and cupcake tags. I designed and printed them one day, and June29 helped me hand cut and assemble each one on another.

The morning before the party, we mixed a double batch of Martha's Royal Icing (substituting the water with fresh OJ) and frosted each cookie with a small spatula - much easier and quicker than outlining and flooding - another priceless and time-saving tip from Angie. After the icing, I made a batch and a half of Magnolia's vanilla buttercream frosting in preparation for the cupcakes to be tackled the following morning.

Next came the piping. I had such high aspirations for fancy outlines and precise lettering. I never ever imagined how agonizingly difficult it would be to pipe a homemade cookie! I spent hours that morning - much to the dismay of my assistant who finally gave up on his turn and went to play with his abacus - just trying to keep the frosting in the pastry bag and not oozing out the wrong end (which it did several times). I now have a newfound appreciation for all those sugary, neon, oversized cookies my kids always beg me to buy when they pass the bakery section.

Finally, thanks to additional help from Lao Lao, all 70 cookies were frosted and piped. It was nothing to write to Martha about, but we got the job done. Later that evening, after the icing hardened, my third trusty assistant, November3 and I packaged the cookies. It really does take a village.

With the dawn came the hardest part - baking 30 cupcakes and 48 mini cupcakes with a recipe I've never tried before: world-famous Magnolia Bakery's Vanilla Cupcakes. Needless to say, I was pretty unsure of myself. After an early morning three-mile run (in which I rhythmically imagined every worst case scenerio in my head) and with my faithful mom and hubs occupying the kids, I began the lengthy process of measuring, mixing, scooping, baking and cooling.

My first batch came out beautifully. Each batch thereafter got progressively uglier. I had to figure out portion control and baking time and seven batches just wasn't enough to get either just right.

After three hours and countless discards (discarded in my stomach), we packed up (how to transport so many delicate cupcakes??) our naked cupcakes and hit the road. Arriving at the party a few minutes early, we had just enough time to frost, sprinkle, tag and display the goods.

Everything could've looked better. I mean, that's why I usually opt for the professional route. However, the goodies tasted great and best of all, my friend was over-the-moon happy and soooo appreciative. In the end, that's really all that matters, isn't it?

 

 

Monday
Mar082010

art class birthday party

To celebrate June29's 5th birthday, we invited a dozen kids to an art class party and mailed out invitations that hinted at what was to come.

The back of the invitation displayed a letter signed by June29, addressed to each of his guests. It explained party details and invited family members to join us for cake and song.

We ordered mini cupcakes from the amazingly talented Monica of Two Parts Sugar, who creatively and beautifully incorporated the theme. 

And also ordered a two-tiered mini cake designed by J29 himself and brilliantly brought to life by Filigree Cakes.

The cake was shared amongst the kids and the cupcakes amongst the grown-ups and siblings.

During the 'art class part' of the party, the kids learned how to draw a landscape using oil pastels.

The results of their hard work were mounted and framed, and each artist took home his/her own landscape as a party favor.

Clean up was a snap (for the most part) and the kids had a blast.

Don't forget the thank yous.

 

Saturday
Mar062010

red egg and ginger

Keira's parents, who were also wedding clients of mine, wanted a simple red egg and ginger invitation for her one-month celebration. The result is a bright and cheerful duet that includes the invitation to the banquet and the announcement of her birth, and features modern simplicity, crisp colors and traditional accents.

Alana's parents, also former wedding clients, wanted a more traditional invitation with feminine details. They chose a single fold metallic silver card featuring the invitation in English on the right side and a traditional Chinese invitation on the left.

The cover of the invitation.

The inside.

And the back of the invitation highlighting Alana's Chinese name, the rsvp postcard and the direction card.

On a side note, Alana's invitation suite was my first foray into do-it-yourself printing. Alana's parents had a smaller budget so I adapted the files into simple pdfs that allowed them to easily print, trim, score and assemble the cards. I think it turned out rather nicely and Alana's parents were happy with the results they literally helped to create.

 

 

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