LEGO Movie : Princess Unikitty Cake

For those of you that took  your kids (or yourself) to the LEGO Movie, BEHOLD, the “Everything is Awesome” Princess Unikitty Birthday cake.

Unikitty Cake

Uni-Kitty

So here’s the story, my girls have played with LEGOs on and off over the years, but once the “LEGO Movie” came out, it has ramped our LEGO-shipping up a notch. Especially for my youngest daughter who will NOT STOP talking about Unikitty and Cloud Cuckoo Land. That part of the movie really stuck with her as well as the “Everything is Awesome” song… Well it stuck with me too.

So over the course of the last month or so, I’ve been adding to our collection of LEGO merchandise. We have the playsets, we have the video game, we have the pajamas, we’ve seen the movie, 3 times, and now (…because of the constant begging and since I love a challenge) we now have a Unikitty Birthday cake.

(Haven’t seen the LEGO Movie yet? It’s fantastic. Stop reading this and watch the trailer!)

Let it be known, I’m NOT a professional cake decorator. I actually don’t remember the last cake I tried to decorate. In fact, I’m not even a huge fan of cake. BUT I AM a champion Playdoh sculptor, so if I just tell my brain that fondant is Playdoh, it all works out.

Clara with her Unikitty Cake. Happy Birthday my sweet little girl!

Clara with her Unikitty Cake. Happy 4th Birthday my sweet little girl!

I did alot of searching online for Unikitty cakes to get some ideas and was highly disappointed. There really isn’t very many out there, maybe Unikitty isn’t as popular as Emmet or Wildstyle, but WE think so. Do not fear Unikitty worshipers, I have posted the “progress shots” to my blog so you can see me struggle, rejoice and beat my head trying to figure out how to make this thing.  Enjoy!

10_Final

Yes, she is AWESOME!

First things first, I've never made fondant, so I found a recipe online and got to work.

First things first, I’ve never made fondant, so I found a recipe online and got to work. I used a dough hook and my Kitchenaid Mixer. I LOVE MY KITCHENAID MIXER.

2_FigureOutSize

Then I scaled up a photo of Unikitty and did a quick outline of how much cake I would need and what I would cut apart. We went to the store… uh two times since estimating isn’t my forte.

3_CakeBody

We used the Funfetti cake, BECAUSE IT’S A BIRTHDAY DUH. I started with the legs and tail. At this point I’m already getting a little nervous.

4_Fondant

Here I am struggling with the fondant. It’s breaking, it’s pinching, it’s not even whatsoever. And look in the back how much cake I’m wasting! Honestly at this point I wasn’t sure if it was going to turn out.

5_Pieces

BUT I WILL NOT GIVE UP! Now I’m using food coloring and dying the fondant the different colors to get the LEGO legs, neck and outline of the tail. Yes, I’m messy, I’m just a mom. THERE ARE NO INSTRUCTIONS FOR THIS! THIS IS WHAT YOU DO FOR YOUR FOUR YEAR OLD!

6_Head

Now I had to bake two more cakes to start the head. I’m all about proportion. I’ve seen enough cake shows that it’s much easier to cut if the cake is cold/frozen. Worked out perfect.

7_Covered

Covered the head in fondant, now I know I have seams everywhere, but honestly, nobody really cares!  Unless of course you are a professional cake decorator.

8_Details

Now onto the details, some ears and face. At this point I’m actually having fun, it’s more like molding and rolling and using cookie cutters to get shapes.

9_Face

More fondant fun, I have permanently dyed my hands black by using black food coloring on the eyes. Made the horn and some stars to cover up flaws.

10_Final

Then I piped white icing around some of the seams just to smooth everything out and cover up the major flaws.  All in all I’m super happy with it. And my daughter thinks I’m “Totally Awesome.” Can’t get much better than that! We love you Clara! Happy Birthday!

The only downside to this is that my OTHER daughter wants a WildStyle cake for her birthday. I have until July to try to figure that one out!

Thanks for reading! ~April

Clara’s Coral

New painting for 2014! A couple days ago I did a quick acrylic painting for my daughter during a crazy whiteout snow apocalypse. I’m not a fan of quick drying paints but they are much safer and water based for kids so I thought it would be smart to break out the acrylics I’ve had stored for over 5, 10, 20 years. And here was the fun result!  Clara’s Coral.

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(PS, If you squint, it looks like rainbow intestines.)

Portraits. Why are they so hard?!

Portraits

Portraits of my daughters.

It’s really hard to admit your weaknesses. It’s easy to do what you’re good at, blog about it, tweet it, etc but very rarely do you show your failures, or not even your failures, but your attempts. Attempts at something that you are NOT good at. Showing how hard it was to get there, practicing and practicing until you’ve torn all your hair out in frustration and just realized, well, it was good try but I need to move on.

In my case, it’s portraits. In college I HATED THEM. Figure drawing was fine, body parts? not a big deal, but faces? UGH. Just take a photo already. Seriously.

And when you break down a face, it’s still lines and planes and color just like every other object on earth, but what makes it different is that there is a soul behind that face. There is a story that I can’t capture with my oils. It’s incredibly intimidating and frustrating to paint something that has more emotion in a simple smile or gaze without it looking like a death mask. Some people have that talent. To capture a Mona Lisa moment and make something that exudes this emotional feeling when you look at it. I avoid that subject matter like the plague. Because honestly, I’m not good enough. And I know I’m not.

But as I was unpacking some of my artwork, I came across one of my very first paintings. It was of two little girls playing outside. One was blonde, the other a brunette. It was one of the only paintings I made that had people as the subject matter.  We were having a housewarming party and one of our guests made the comment that it was just like our two little girls. (Premonition perhaps?) I laughed, no I said, I painted that when I was about 19 years old, probably models from a magazine, probably passed but barely and I realized after that assignment that I was TERRIBLE at painting people and from then on I stayed with my safe landscapes and my impressionistic style. Coward.

Girls

Untitled. 1997.

 

The faces of the girls were actually quite small, in fact the one girl was looking away from the viewpoint. I hadn’t really looked at the painting for quite awhile since it had been given to my grandmother many years ago. I can by hyper critical about it now and rip it apart. Proportions are off, I didn’t mix colors very well, the background is flat, is that mud on her face??, on and on.  We are all our biggest critics, but it got me thinking. How would I paint a person now? Now that I’ve had some time and experience. I’ve never really given it a try since. Would it be easier or even worse?

At the same time, I had got to be pretty good friends with another local artist who does extremely realistic paintings. He’s VERY good at what he does. One of his prints hangs in my office and I’ve had time to really appreciate the time and dedication it takes to create one of his pieces. It’s incredible the amount of patience you need to get colors PERFECT, to sit for hours and barely make a dent in the hyper detail. We’ve talked briefly of our different styles and it got me thinking. I didn’t want to become stagnate. I don’t want to get to a point in my life and think, I can’t get any better. That this is my limit.

I’ve always been a free-for-all when it comes to artwork. I mix paints on the fly, sometimes I’ll mix media, I’ll just throw away brushes rather than clean them. Again, just spontaneous and undisciplined. Commissions are different of course, but just painting for me, its totally free, no rules.

While that sometimes works, I find I fall into a rut. The same colors, the same style, not quite growing as much as I want. I might be happy with the painting but I feel there is more.

So I decided to try portraits again. (Crazy talk! What are you thinking!?)

Then, who to paint?

I immediately thought of my husband in a George Costanza like pose!

george

Maybe not so much…

 

Okay maybe not. And if I ever did, you can bet your tighty whites I’m not going to blog about it! You’re welcome.

So then after a good laugh, I thought of my daughters. People that I’ve seen every day for their 3-6 years of age. I’ve memorized their faces, I know their smiles and frowns. They are the only people that I could really try to capture if I was going to try.

And since they are little kids that will not stand still to save my life, I took photos. A cheat I know, but you have to start somewhere.

This is my oldest. Leia

 

Although I was more conscious of my colors, I still made it look like “my style”. Mouths are tough. I’m not going to lie. And eyes, if they are not right, then it doesn’t look like the person at all.

This last week I started my youngest daughter’s, and although I’m not done yet, it’s starting to look like her. Her eyes are so dark brown that they just suck you in.

Clara

 

Overall, I’m happy I’m trying this. It’s a personal challenge, a goal of mine to be happy with these two paintings (Which happen to be of two of my favorite people on this earth.) And while the paintings may not be perfect, they are pretty perfect to me.

 

Day 4 – Pirate’s Cove Mini Golf

The weather was turning wonderful on Day 4 so we decided to surprise my daughter with a trip to Pirate’s Cove. This was right up her alley. She likes pirates about as much as she likes princesses and who can pass up mini-golf!? Also, whomever does the landscaping on this needs to come to my house. This was the “prettiest” mini golf course I have ever seen, the flowers and trees around this are perfect. I am pleased to say I got a hole-in-one on number 7 but I also took an 8 on a par 2 so I’m hoping they just cancel each other out. I’m not telling you my daughter’s score, she TOTALLY is a cheater.

Ahoy! Pirate's Cove!

Line up towards the cannon and bank it off the second tombstone.

Showing off her golf skills.

There were a few other land lovers on the course as well.

It wasn't until hole 3 that she really started to cheat.

My daughter wanted to know if these bones were "real".

Totally fun course. Waterfalls, bridges and a shark. Perfect.

Giving me her "Yo Ho Ho, a Pirate's Life for me" with her take-home pirate patch, Jolly Rogers flag and hat.

Ady’s Flowers Painting

Ady's Flowers (click to enlarge)

I got the opportunity to surprise one of my youngest fans with their very own oil painting this past weekend. My youngest niece has been following my updates with the “Brooklyn Bridge” and had told her mother how beautiful it was. (Everyone say AWWWWWW) This is a high compliment indeed! So my daughter and I took up our brushes and did a “tag-team-oil” painting exercise where I would help her with circles and colors and it turned into flowers. You saw a sneak peek of it during my Mother’s Day post but here it is in full glory. Ady was born in May so spring flowers are a must and although she thinks they look like lollipops, I’m okay with that.

Happy Birthday Adalynn!

Forward Facing Bookshelves

Forward Facing Bookshelves 1

My oldest daughter loves books (which is obviously encouraged) and of course I try to be the mom that reads to her every night. After a glass of water, making sure their are no monsters under the bed and the sides of the blanket are tucked in tight, we usually grab the same pile of books on her nightstand and dig in. I’ve read aloud the same stories so many times that I can pretty much recite them by heart and it’s getting BORING!

Forward Facing Bookshelf

So to encourage NEW reading material from the shelf, I’ve decided to install some “forward facing” bookshelves so that she can see the covers rather than the spine. I’ve researched them online and I’ve seen everything from vinyl gutters to spice racks to built from scratch scrap wood.  I’m thinking to myself, there has to be an alternative that isn’t ridiculously expensive or wastes my time in the shed. So off to Menards I go and I find an eight dollar picture frame shelf called a “Stafford”.  It was unfinished wood which was fine by me, I have plenty of paint that can whip them into shape.  So after a paint job and an overnight to dry they are now on the wall. Overall I think they turned out really cute and bring more color to an already brightly colored room!

Forward Facing Shelves

Even my younger daughter has her own forward facing bookshelves with “age” appropriate reading material! Who doesn’t love counting, shapes and colors!?

A Huge Roll of Paper beats Rock

Huge Roll of Paper

Maybe not scissors but in the case I’ll make an exception…

Now I have nothing against coloring books. I loved them as a kid and I was pretty careful to color in the lines. My daughter on the other hand is a little more “freeform” and has virtually no interest in staying in the lines, coloring anything the “right” color or even taking care of her crayons. Yes I know, she’s three.

She scribbles, she colors where ever (table included), she pokes holes, pours glitter, markers up her face, sticks stickers and so on, eventually her “homework” looks more like a sculptured spit wad then anything that could be handed in for a grade and I need to throw her into the tub since she tattooed herself with Sharpies.  Embrace it April!

What made me not lose ALL hope is when she had a BLANK sheet of paper, creativity just poured out. She would draw little people and stars and swirls and tell a little story to me. I was flabbergasted! No wonder she hated coloring books! She wanted to make them herself. Imagination DUH!

So a huge roll of paper is the best thing for this little creative and imaginative mind! This was the best Christmas gift in my opinion and the one that we use the most. (Take that Squinkies! #hate)

The other wonderful thing about this is when we are done, we just roll the thing back up for another day. She keeps adding to it, or cuts into it, or rolls out more. It’s a never ending piece of artwork and I love it.

Here are some of her masterpieces:

Little Monster that ate a blue cowboy hat

Her Sister in orange, I don't know who the big guy is...

Self Portrait (at three)

This huge roll of paper is another good thing for my carpet when we are painting:

Testing her painting skills yesterday

Although the floor is nice, I’m eventually hoping to find a really old table with wooden legs that I can cut off at the right height for her to stand. Then I plan on screwing the roll of paper to the end of the table and adding some mesh bags for markers, colors and the like. If you have an old table like this let me know!