Lion and Zebra and Elephant Cookies

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I had the opportunity to make the most adorable animal cookies for Joffrey Ballet School this May.  Their end of year recital was Carnival of the Animals  (Disney used this music for the flamingo scene in Fantasia 2000) and for each of the 3 performances the dancers received a cookie gift afterwards.

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This is my 3rd order for recital gift cookies for Joffery Ballet School and the count totaled 275 cookies this time….lions and zebras and elephants, OH MY!


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I have become SO efficient at doing sugar cookies that it was no sweat.  Plus the design I choose was much simpler than my beloved Nutcracker cookie.  Im thinking about adding these cookies to my Etsy shop!  Look out for them soon.

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Filed under Cookies, SugarCoated

The Brooklyn Berrys

Scratching one of my oldest To Dos off my list today, I’m sharing a photo shoot from last fall!  My sister happens to be a rock star photographer and I’m lucky she likes to captured beautiful pictures of my family.  We love to have our picture taken in DUMBO, Brooklyn.  Its one of our favorite places to visit in the city and after we moved to Brooklyn it also became symbolic for us to have our picture made there with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background.  The first year we were back in NYC we took pictures their ourselves for our Christmas card! This past year my sister and her family visited for Thanksgiving and gifted us these amazing pictures.  Our Christmas card shot happened to be this one:

 

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A magical ride on Jane’s Carousel!  Such beautiful colors came through on that cold, dismal November day.  We cherish this picture so much, especially the experience of my sister riding the carousel with us to get it.  We put this picture on the back of our card:

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Another one of our favorites is this one inside the Jane’s Carousel building with the Brooklyn Bridge seen through the glass:

 

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How sweet are Macy and Hudson!  How beautiful is my family!!  We look like total Brooklyners (Brooklynites?) right?

We also went uptown to Lincoln Center since this spot is so important in our lives right now with Macy dancing at School of American Ballet.  Another Christmas card worthy shot!

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Here is one that is sweet to my heart:

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Swoon!  My husband and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary this year!

Although my sister is based else where in the USA she travels frequently to NYC ( Michigan and Tennessee) to visit.  If you are interested in an on site shoot for family pictures contact her HERE!

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Filed under Brooklyn Love, City Mouse + Country Mouse

Pineapple Cake Pop Display

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Yesterday my Luau Dance dessert table was featured on Amy Atlas, its always an exciting honor!  (see the full post and pics HERE).  I made this luau table for my daughter’s 5th grade dance.  I didnt have much time to let my ideas evolve for it, as this was a fast track project.   My offer to create, design & budget were all submitted for approval in just a day or so.  So I was lucky that I didnt have creative block, but this isnt my first luau either!    I immediately knew I wanted to make a centerpiece that mimicked the bountiful fruit offerings at a traditional luau but I couldn’t do it with a cake.  This crazy idea to make a cake pop pineapple came out of know where.  I kept thinking that it reminded me of a croquembouche but in my research I couldn’t find many attempts of other cake artists doing a cake pop croquembouche.  I either had a brilliant idea on hand or an epic fail!

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So I sketched it out, trying to eliminate any potential bad ideas and in my head it seemed like an idea that should work.  I basically decided I was just “chocolate-glueing” cake balls onto a vertical stryofoam surface.  If it didnt work, plan B was going to be a tissue paper pineapple for the centerpiece and just cake pops elsewhere on the table.  Having the plan B definitely helped my confidence.  That, and asking for advice from my sister Jes and friend Jen.  They always put me in my place, they don’t sugarcoat it for me when its just wrong.  As I started down the road on this experimental trip I took pictures with my cell phone and had a group message going to them about my “pineapple progress”  Thats about as much DIY tutorials I do around here….sorry!

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It seemed yesterday most of the comments on Amy Atlas’s Facebook picture of my party (its up to 250 likes btw!) were about the cake pop pineapple.  I figure some people might be wondering how to make their own sculpted cake pop creation.  So took a look at my text message pictures and sure enough, I had enough to pull together a behind the scenes board on how I made it.  Its not a styled DIY or step by step tutorial by any means, but you can get the concept along with my descriptions.  So here it is!  (Click on the image to enlarge it to full screen for better readability).

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Filed under Celebrations, Paper + Fabric, SugarCoated

Ballerina Silhouette Cookies

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As end of the year gifts for Macy’s School of American Ballet class she and I designed these ballerina silhouette cookies.  Very simple and oh so beautiful!

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Once again I took to the internet to find the best tutorials from the cookie experts.  My favorite cookie artists are Sweetoptia and Sweetambs, there isn’t much they havent conquered in royal icing techniques.  Doing a silhouette on a cookie perfectly is much more simple than it looks.  The black portion of the icing is traced separately on parchment paper using whatever silhouette image you want.  Then added to a solid wet or dry field to complete the design.  Check out these DIY tutorials that I referenced: For Sweetambs cookie silhouette tutorial click Here.  For Sweetopia’s cookie silhouette tutorial click Here

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For my pretty ballerina I used a Barbie image but freehand the bun instead of a pony tail.  I also found a little trick to make the tiny lips and eyelash detail.  I didn’t try to pipe the lips with the piping tip, instead I went straight down from the nose to chin and went back in with a toothpick to pull out the delicate lips.  For the eyelash, I didn’t event attempt to pipe it.  I figured it would break off during transfer so after the black silhouette was placed in the wet field (which is Sweetambs technique) and all the way dry I drew the eyelash with an edible marker.  Just a light flick of the wrist!

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Macy was so proud to give these out the last week of ballet class and of course the little girls just LOVED them!

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Filed under Celebrations, Cookies, SugarCoated

Super Hero Party Trends

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A few weeks ago while shopping at Target I became utterly amazed at some of their exclusive products.  Target is always a go to for on trend and designer collaborations, but this was the first time that I really saw for myself Target being inspired by blogosphere tastemakers and trendsetters instead of the other way around.

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Their Justice League products are obviously inspired by the popularity of Vintage/Pop Art Super Hero parties pioneered by event designers such as Anders Ruff and countless other party blogs.  Supplies for these type of parties have previously been available only from custom graphic designers and bespoke party stores.  Combining just the right colors in half tone dots, comic book like fonts and a heathy dose of explosion clouds, party designers have taken this theme in many different directions and obviously Target was watching.  Currently on the shelves at Target you can score outdoor play things, pool toys as well as placemats, cups and  serving pieces for your superhero party.  Target is promoting a crossover to fashion as well on their TargetStyle facebook and instagram accounts.

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Pics via Target blog and Target style FB 

Annette from One Perfect Room thought that the Target release was also a big deal, she shares pics of the products in store here.  I think many party chic moms find this theme to satisfy their batman obsessed toddler and their own “no licensed character party rule”.  I certainly was influenced by pop art and vintage comics for Hudson’s third birthday party, but leaned toward pop art, with a Roy Liechtenstein illustration on a 1966 Newsweek cover (above) as inspiration.  And I promise he did not notice that it wasn’t Batman or Superman matching plates and napkins!  p.s.  You’ll be seeing more of Hudson’s Super Hero party very soon!

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And here are some of my favorite Vintage/Pop Art inspired parties going around right now (click on pic to link to site).  Obviously, this theme is great for super boys and super girls!

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Party by Anders Ruff

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Party by My Paper Lily via Kara’s Party Ideas

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Party by Wants and Wishes via HWTM

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Party by Molly B Photography via Anders Ruff

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Woodland Fairy Treasure Hunt

Macy's Woodland Fairy Dessert Table

Macy’s Woodland Fairy Dessert Table

Two years ago we celebrated my daughters 9th birthday with a Woodland Fairie theme.  For the party my daugther, Macy and I created a treasure hunt game meshing symbolic fairy trinkets from Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and fairy folklore.  I used vintage clip art from The Graphics Fairy and From Old Books to create a treasure hunt card that complimented our invitations and printables from B. Nute Productions.  Since posting the party the treasure hunt card has been hands down my most pinned image and referred link from Pinterest.  It is also requested to purchase or be shared often.   I am finally doing something that I should have done 2 years ago.  I am giving this file away free here in this post!  You  may download the card here:

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Enjoy and please be kind and give credit if you use it.   Most of all, I love to hear feedback about your party! XOXO Nikki

Dont miss out on the rest of the Woodland Fairie party HERE!

Nikkiikkin fairy treasure hunt

 

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A Day of Ballet Class for Macy & Some Exciting News

nikkiikkin a day of ballet Our family’s schedule dramatically changed when Macy started attending classes at School of American Ballet last September.  It wasn’t a hard decision to accept her invitation to dance there, but we knew that we would also have to accept that ballet rules our life right now.  We are so proud of her and her diligent attitude in her dance studies.  She has come up leaps and bounds in her strength and ballet education since she started.  With only a handful of absences and almost zero complaining, this has been her life 4 days a week.  3 of which are right after a long day at school.  Our time everyday at SAB is more than just waiting the 90 minutes while she is in dance class, we have much more time invested in it than that.  I wanted to share our family’s nearly daily journey and the logistics it takes for Macy have this amazing experience.

MACY’S DAY AT BALLET

We made a decision early on that it was a waste of time for us to pick Macy up from school, walk home, wait 45 min and then walk back to the train.  So we leave straight from school pick up and get to SAB earlier than needed.

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It takes 3 trains for us to get to Lincoln Center.  Its not really a big deal, when you live in NYC, transferring trains is a just how its done.  Sometimes you get lucky and there’s no wait for the next train to arrive and sometimes the train runs late and you have a long wait.  Its sort of the way traffic is everywhere else, its out of your control and you have to be patient. On the plus side you have time to read a book while you travel, in Macy’s case she has 45 minutes to work on homework.  She usually uses the time to do her reading but sometimes she gets distracted.  Especially if a 6 foot tall transvestite with purple hair and giant boots is making a scene on the train.  Would anyone be able to pay attention with that going on?

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We dont always take the last leg of train, sometimes we walk from 59th street to 66th street.  It’s not much difference in waiting for the 1 train and making the 7 block walk.  I often use the extra time we give ourselves to run an errand at the Shops at Columbus circle, printing at Kinkos or to mail a package.

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There is always something going on at Lincoln Center.  We stumble upon events ranging from the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera, to movie premieres (we saw Leonardo DiCaprio and other celebs at the Great Gatsby premier last week) just going about on our day of ballet.  The area of Lincoln Center for Performing Arts is made up of several world renown organizations.  The New York City Ballet, Metropolitan Opera, The Julliard School, New York Philharmonic, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts  and School of American Ballet to name just a few.  Last fall a sky walk crossing over 65th street opened to connect the buildings holding Julliard and SAB to the main Lincoln Center buildings.  Which makes it easier for me to stroll Hudson over to the plazas where a fountain, a reflection pool and grassy lawn are, if the weather is good we often walk over to enjoy their beauty.

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At our earliest arrival to SAB we have about 30 minutes before we can order from the dinner counters at the Julliard & SAB Cafe.  We LOVE the cafe!  I honestly dont think I could handle all of the hours and days we have to spend doing this if I didnt have the cafe to eat and wait in.    Serving  just Julliard and SAB students, staff and families, it has a  grill, hot entree counter, soup and salad bars and sandwich counter, several drinks and luckily brews Starbucks coffee.   We spend a lot of time there and see many interesting performing arts students.  It really is the heart of these two performing arts schools, as students are not just eating there between classes before they go home.  Both SAB and Julliard have resident students that depend on it for meals that are healthly and full of variety.  We on the other hand eat mostly pizza, Hudson does at least.  Macy likes to eat salad and yogurt and I enjoy the fact that its affordable and I don’t have to cook dinner on ballet nights.

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The Cafe is located on the lobby level of the Rose Building, SAB is on the 5th floor.  Unfortunately the school has very strict rules about photography on the 5th floor.  Parents are not allowed to stay on the 5th floor while their child is in class, which is a new rule this year.  There is actually several seating areas with big comfy sofas up there, its a shame really that we can’t enjoy it during class time anymore.  We are also not allowed to observe classes, but twice a year there is a Parents Observation week.

Before each class, I get 20 minutes to help her get ready, not that it takes that long.  Some days she has a morning shower and we do her bun in the morning.  On those days her bun is high and more classic looking.  On dry hair days we do a low bun with a side part just before class.  Macy is getting good at doing the bun herself now, she likes to use a bun form to get a big showy bun, but in general she has pretty silky hair that goes into a bun easily without too many fly aways.

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And here she is ready to go to class!

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After class, if we are lucky and Macy isnt socializing too much she can be dressed and ready to go in 10 minutes.  We don’t usually run any errands after ballet, we have about an hour commute and are just ready to be home.  If you are wondering about Hudson during our ballet days, he doesn’t go every time.   On most weeks, Jacob is home for 1 or 2 of the ballet days and  one of us stays with Hudson.  When he does go, he often falls asleep in his stroller on the train ride there and of course eating dinner and watching some netflix is part of his day anyway, he just has to do it away from home.

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And now for Macy’s exciting news!  During the year SAB students are asked to fill childrens’ roles in ballets at New York City Ballet.  This being Macy’s first year learning ballet so intensely we have not auditioned for any of the open calls, but some of the ballets roles are chosen directly by the Children’s Ballet Master……

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Macy has been chosen to perform in the ballet Firebird with the NYCB for 4 nights in May at David Koch theater!   It really was a surprise to us that she was offered this experience so soon, we are so proud of how hard she has been working. This week she begins rehearsals and of course we plan to attend all 4 performances.  I cant wait to she my baby girl on stage at Lincoln Center!  I will certainly have more to share as it happens, so stay tuned.

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Filed under I heart NY, The Chic Tween

Zig Zag Cake

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Its been waaaaay to long since my last post, but I promise my blog has not left my mind.  Ive been super duper busy making all kinds of beautiful sugar creations and I have plenty of content to post.  I just have to find the time to do it, so hang in there folks!
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First up is a special little cake that was for a good deed rather than a sweet tooth.  This beautiful cake is fake…a prop…a dummy (although they aren’t being called that much any more).  I made it for a few reasons, practice being one of them but I also was testing out some new techniques I learned from a Craftsy class, more on that in a moment.  I really made this cake to use as a display and teaser at my daughter’s annual school auction.  The bidder of this cake not only won a cake (not this one but a real one) but a full party package donated by me that included cookies, cupcakes, party styling and set up help too.  Although I havent been contacted by the bidder yet, it did raise a good amount and I cant wait for the winner to claim their prize.  It will be a lot of fun!
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So now about this cake.   I have to say that I am very pleased with the quality of my construction, it marks a new era in my cake design expertise.  And I really owe it all to another blogger, cake decorator and interior designer, Jessica Harris of Jessicakes.  I’ve stumbled across her cakes for a few years and popped in a few times at her blog, but when I realized that she was creating her cakes with special techniques (and not a magic wand) I knew that I had to study up.  This was about the same time that she announced that she had been asked to be a Craftsy instructor and all of her tips and techniques were available as video tutorials.  I bought the class, Clean & Simple Cake Designthe week it debuted and it was the worth every penny.
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Jessica uses her interior design side to design and create cakes.  She plots out the design to scale in CAD (I’ve designed all kinds of things in CAD, including a quilt, but never had I thought to use it for cakes!), she repurposes tools from the hardware store (like a PVC pipe as a large rolling pin) and she has the eye of a trained and practiced designer (her cakes are modern and clean lined).    She is a perfectionist and every cake starts with a perfectly smooth, crisp and clean cake base.  All the times I ran across her cakes online I swore they were decorated styrofoam dummies.  But they aren’t! And luckily she includes her cake icing techniques in her Craftsy class too.
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In her class, I didn’t learn just techniques, I learned that I should often be working with a different medium to create perfect decorations.  Jessica’s cakes are covered in fondant but the decorations are mostly modeling chocolate.  Besides being delicious, modeling chocolate has a very important attribute, it is flexible but doesn’t stretch out of shape as easily as fondant.  You can cut a true straight line and move a piece of decoration without a square loosing its 90 degree angle or a circle turning into an oval.  It also self heals with just the warmth of your fingers, so seams and boo boos can be erased.  The horizontal zig zag band around this cake was made from modeling chocolate, you can see up close how perfectly straight the cut lines are.  You can’t really achieve that with fondant.
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The technique that I learned to apply sugar decorations to a cake has literally created a whole new cake world for me.  After cutting out this zig zag pattern I applied it to the cake in just a few seconds without struggle or disappointment using Jessica’s wax-paper transfer method.   With the modeling chocolate stuck to wax paper with shortening, it was like wrapping a sticker around the cake and pealing off the paper backside.  Perfectly intact and in the correct position.  Awesome.
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The beautiful fantasy flower is also a design and technique from Jessica Harris’s class, she includes several templets for decorations like bows and ruffles along with the recipes for marshmallow fondant and modeling chocolate.  It’s really an all-inclusive type of class!
In case it doesn’t already show, I am so happy with all that I’ve learned!  I truly found her tips and instructions to be simple enough for real life cakes, not just for a very special occasion and I cant wait to try them out more often.
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Filed under Cakes, SugarCoated

Candy Coated Artist

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I have a sweet treat for you all today.  Its not my usual style of posts but when this New York Magazine issue was delivered in late February I  knew that my readers would appreciate it as much as me.  I am in love with these confectionary images of Elle Fanning by artist Will Cotton, who’s work explores the themes of temptation, gluttony and indulgence.  The surreal landscapes and saccharine sweet muses he paints are a dreamy stroll through Candy Land.

“The paintings often feature scenery made up entirely of pastries, candy and melting ice cream. He creates elaborate maquettes of these settings from real baked goods made in his Manhattan studio as a visual source for the final works. Since about 2002, nude or nearly nude pinup-style models have occasionally populated these candy-land scenes. As in the past, the works project a tactile indulgence in fanciful glut.”  – Greg Lindquist 
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ellefanning_willcotton15ellefanning_willcotton14I highly recommend continuing your sugar high with a quick jump to his website HERE.

And if you think that his style is something you’ve seen before, then you have probably seen Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream album cover or her “Califorina Gurl” music video.  Both are works by Will Cotton, click HERE to get a scoop on that.

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Katy Perry by Will Cotton

Now if only I had enough room in my apartment for a sculpture like one of these?
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Hudson’s Superhero Party featured on Amy Atlas

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Amy Atlas is internationally know as “The Sweets Stylist”.  Her blog Sweet Designs is full of dessert tables for which Amy has set the standard for.   She is so supportive and encouraging to other aspiring stylists in the events industry.   Beautiful guest dessert tables from around the world grace her blog pages, it is always an honor to be excepted as a featured guest.   This  submission is my third party to debut on Amy Atlas and there will be many more to come as I celebrate my children each year and as friends and family allow me to create for them.

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Check out the rest of Hudson’s Superhero Party on Amy Atlas HERE

Now that the party is out of the bag, I cant wait to fill you all in on some great DIY tips about the crafts and display.  I will be introducing my first free printable as well as sharing how you can do a cake like this one at home!

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A SUPER Party Surprise!

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I have an exciting party to share today!  In just a few short hours you all will see what this 1966 Roy Lichenstein artwork inspired.

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Tiffany and Co. Cupcake Toppers and Cookies

Tiffany and Co. Cupcake Toppers by Nikki Berry

Tiffany and Co. Cupcake Toppers by Nikki Berry

My darling niece Emma turned 5 in December, she’s a Christmas Eve baby and her birthday parties are always celebrated at different times.  Most of the time in January after the holiday rush is over.  Like my children, she often gets two birthday parties, one with friends where she lives and one on a trip back home.   Since I couldn’t make it to either party to help out I sent cupcake toppers and cookie favors to both of them.

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Emma Belle starring in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Tiffany and Co. ( or rather Emma and Co.) was the theme of her big party with close family and friends  A classic bow was a common idea for a topper  but I also wanted to do a few that I’ve never seen before and I challenged myself with some original topper designs.  The results: a topper mimicking a toggled pearl necklace and a  Tiffany ring with a sparkling faceted sugar gem.

Tiffany and Co. Bow Cupcake Toppers

Tiffany and Co. Bow Cupcake Toppers

On every visit to NY Cake I have coveted their selection of sugar gems.  Ive been dreaming of ways to use them and hoping the chance would come soon.   I got lucky that they had an aqua stone in stock and  I choose it instead of the traditional white diamond, I thought it would be appropriate since the party wasn’t for a bride but a little girl instead.

Tiffany and Co. Sugar Gem Cupcake toppers

Tiffany and Co. Sugar Gem Cupcake toppers

Ive worked with metallic luster dusts many times and have a few gold and silver pots but this being a special tribute to the most famous silver jewelry in the world  I really wanted the silver to shine like the real thing, my cake supply store had just the product I needed to create that realistic silver.

Pearl and Toggle Bracelet TIffany and Co Toppers

Pearl and Toggle Bracelet Tiffany and Co Toppers

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My toppers came out beautifully.  I really didn’t have any hiccups or lessons learned, for once I created something without testing out a new skill from scratch.  I guess that means I’m getting through some of the learning curve with sugar……its taken long enough, its been like 10 years since my interested started.

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I listed these toppers in my Etsy shop about a month ago and they are now my most popular items.  You can see the listings HERE, HERE or HERE.

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And the sugar didn’t stop there, I also made these Tiffany and Co. cookies!  I was much more into designing the toppers but these turned out nice too :)  In fact when I received an inquiry about a Tiffany topper with a silver charm I showed these and soon I will be adding another topper with a charm  to my collection.

Tiffany and Co. Cookies

Tiffany and Co. Cookies

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Tiffany and Co Blue Box Cookies

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Emma Belle starring in Breakfast and Tiffanys

Emma Belle starring in Breakfast and Tiffanys

 

Emma Belle’s Photos by Jes at CapturedbyJes

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Filed under Celebrations, Cookies, Cupcakes, SugarCoated

Dwell Studio Cookies for Operation Kids Bake Sale

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I think that I’ve been procrastination on working on a new post because I can’t decide which of the fabulous projects I want to share first.  So I’ll start with one that is most overdue.  I should have shared this back in November, not sure why I didn’t, probably because November and December were a blur to me.

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After Hurricane Sandy I found a few outlets to help out.  Besides clothing, food and monetary donations  it was heartwarming for me to donate my talent.  I know cookies are just flour and sugar but they are also smiles and joy.  Like cupcakes and cakes they can brighten someones day even for just a moment.

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Duplicating a pattern is one of my favorite ways to decorate in sugar art.  I’m pretty much a copier with a lot of my designs.  My husband says thats not so, that everyone is influenced by others work and this is true.  Sometimes I start off thinking I’ll just duplicate something Ive seen but then it comes to life in my own way and it ends up an original design.  I have wanted to literally copy Dwell Studio prints on a cake or cookie for a long time now.    Their modern patterns are a favorite of mine and influenced my original design in my son’s nursery, see his Oliver the Owl nursery HERE.

nikkiikkin dwell studio cookies 5I had just completed a large cookie donation to the Red Hook Initiate on Election Day when I noticed Dwell Studio was hosting a bake sale coordinated by Joanna Goddard from Cup of Jo.  to benefit Operation Kids hurricane relief effort .  My kitchen wasn’t even returned to normal from my first bakeathon so I asked my husband if he would mind if I dove in to another project, the cookies would be due in two days so it would be a quick project.  He couldn’t say no of course!

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I combed through Dwell Studios patterns, current and vintage.  I have so many favorites that I was sad that time restraints would in the end restrict my design decision.  I choose two children’s patterns for their color combos and simplicity.

nikkiikkin dwell studio cookies 2Owl and Transportation made the final cut and then I narrowed down the design to just a few recognizable elements.  It is the colors of the designs that really bring the cookies to life.  Colors are also what make Dwell Studio prints so coveted.

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I dropped my cookies off at Dwell Studio’s brand new gorgeous SoHo flagship store, often lovingly referred to as 77 Wooster.  They were well received by Joanna and Christiane.  The atmosphere was energetic as kids were gobbling up treats and people were greeting each other.  There were so many yummy donations and a crowd was forming right away.    I’m sure I’m not the only person that has separation anxiety from their creative work, it’s very a funny feeling!  I’m so happy to share, so proud to make people excited about sugar but I don’t want to let go!  Luckily I always feel that my little works of art are appreciated and enjoyed, it’s the only way I can really walk away.

Screen Shot 2012-11-11 at 2.38.37 PMLater that day Christiane tweeted and instagramed a pretty shot of the cookies with a thank you shout out to me.

Screen Shot 2012-11-12 at 10.13.19 AMAnd the a few days later a post was up at the Studio blog highlighting some of the pics of how the bake sale went.  Again there was a very sweet mention and pic of my cookies!

Screen Shot 2012-11-13 at 4.58.48 PMI also checked up on A Cup of Jo to see how the bake sale went.  They raised $2400 in 3 hours, which Dwell Studio matched for a grand total of $4800 to donate to hurricane relief efforts.  Thats amazing!  Here is a screen shot of some more pics from A Cup of Jo.  I was excited to see the little boy in the lower right picture choosing one of my cookies . <3

To sum it up, I love to create sweet treats, love Dwell Studio and love to help out.  It was a hands down a win – win experience.

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Here’s to the bright New Year!

Montauk New Years Day 2013

Montauk New Years Day 2013

Befitting in many ways, my family and I began the New Year at “The End” – Montauk, New York.  The farthest eastern part  of Long Island and New York State. Most of you would be more familiar with its neighboring villages, The Hamptons.   This time of year the billionaires are somewhere south and it is off season, but off season is exactly what we look for when we want to decompress from living in NYC.   Its become a tradition for us to escape there right after Christmas to just hang out and not worry about to do lists and daily routines.  We were lucky to witness crisp blue skies and empty beaches which made for beautiful pictures.  I did not have to alter these pictures to get these blue and taupe tones, this is just how it looked.  Yes it was freezing!  But we weren’t looking to go sun bathing or swimming with the Polar Bear Club, we did however see a surfer go out in full wet suit, to each his own!

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Hudson Berry

Hudson Berry

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Jacob and Nikki Berry

The Montauk Polar Bear Club

The Montauk Polar Bear Club

I never really make new years resolutions, I feel like I’m constantly trying to improve and organize my life anyway.   This year I have made two that I really hope to keep.  I want to pick up the phone and call my friends more often.   For a while now I’ve chalked it up to being too difficult to find the moment when the kids aren’t screaming and when my at home schedule syncs with my working friends schedule to attempt calls.  The truth is none of us can “find the time” so I’ve decided just to make it.  Even if I just get their voicemail.  Besides,  a 10 minute conversation is much more fulfilling than sitting down for an hour to compose an email in which I blubber on about my life.   Secondly, I am spearheading an enormous project to convert our home VHS videos to digital and create mini movies from them as well as our hundreds of already digital clips.  I have a good feeling that once I just get started on this project it really wont take as long as my procrastination on it has.

“Here’s to the bright New Year, and a fond farewell to the old; here’s to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold.” – Anonymous

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The Chic Tween {Holiday Wish List 2012}

nikkiikkin chic tween holiday 2012

My daughter Macy is 10 years old, she straddles the age between child and teen that we call tween.  Fortunately she is not the type of tween that is into annoying mainstream fads.  She’s classic and on trend, she has style and I call her my Chic Tween.  This Christmas my husband and I started shopping early for her, we wanted to have plenty of time to pick just the right gifts. I secretly got my husband a set of wooden watches, I know he will be so happy, now I can focus on the others. I have put together a fabulous board of gifts that speak to me of Macy’s style.  She’s getting about half of what is on the board, thats why its a wish list, I wish we could give her all of it!   Luckily she doesnt look at my blog unless I share it with her so, SHHHHH! don’t tell her what Santa might be bringing her :)

Harajuku Mini  velvet dress -Target

1/2 pound gummy bear – giantgummybears.com

Star headband – Giantdwarf on Etsy

Military Jacket – Johnie B 

Initial bracelet – C Wonder 

Glitter Tote – Crewcuts 

Gold ballet flat – Gap

Resin rings with gold flakes – Daimblond on Etsy

Hersey Barbie – Barbie collector 

– Shirt Dress – Zara 

– Daisy Chain necklace – Anthropologie 

Mini Edie glitter bag – Crewcuts 

– Sequin sweater – Target 

– iPad Mini – Apple

– Clog Boots – Gap

Toothpick Cords – Crewcuts

Peter Pan collar necklace – LittleBunga on etsy

Viscid Watch – Anthropologie

– Lomography Camera – Urban Outfitters

Singer sewing machine – Target

– “Be What You Want To Be” print – by Neryl Walker via LLK-C

I hope you see something that might make your Tween’s eyes sparkle!

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Nutcracker Cookies

nikkiikkin nutcracker cookies 6

What happened to November!  Where have I been?  I can not believe that I haven’t made a post in a month, I was getting so good at being regular with my post too.  Well, the good news is I have a ton of material to write about because while my blog was static I was busy.  Mostly, what has been keeping me busy is cookies.  I  have made more cookies in the past 4 weeks than I have made in my whole life!

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Im going to start my cookie presentations off with my most accomplished cookie design and order to date.  200 Nutcracker cookies for Joffrey School of Ballet in NYC!

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Joffrey School of Ballet graciously contacted me for a second time to do cookies for their recital gifts, this time the order doubled and the complexity of the cookie quadrupled!  While there are many characters and designs that can represent ballet and the Nutcracker suite, the Nutcracker himself is the most beloved.  Even thought Joffrey asked for design examples, I knew that they would pick the Nutcracker and I knew that I could not scale back in his detail, every part of him is so important.

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I ordered my cookie cutter from Coppergifts.com, my first order from them and it wont be the last.  Their cutters are top of the line, thick copper hand formed with beautiful craftsmanship on the seam.  As soon as my soldier arrived I put him to work!

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I  broke the tasks up by days in order to cut down on the feeling of being overwhelmed my the large order.  Day one I mixed all the dough and set to chill, day two I baked and day 3, 4, 5 & 6 I decorated in batches of 50.  I guess that seems like a lot of days to work on an order but I can’t work 9-5 like a job, I usually work during nap time and at night so I can concentrate.  I put my husband and daughter (and MIL who was visiting during the tail end of my order) to work tagging and bagging the cookies.  So a big thank you! to them for pitching in.

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While each Nutcracker was the same design they all turned out with faces that my husband and I thought had different personalities and we had a good laugh many times about what type of “person” some of the cookies were.  My favorite was when the eyebrows turned out a bit furrowed and he looked menacing.

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Of course, in my eyes, each cookie had slight flaws.  It would be impossible to make 200 perfect cookies, but overall I was very pleased at my craftsmanship and really proud to have pushed myself and taken on such a detailed design.

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I love to photograph my work, this time I even got an over the phone crash course in how to use manual mode on my camera from my sister Jes at Captured By Jes.  I got some really great shots and didn’t have to take a million pics to end up with one non-blurry picture to post, Thanks Jes!

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Just after finishing my order we attended the Nutcracker at Lincoln center, while I have always liked the nostalgic Nutcracker story, this beloved character now has a special place in my heart.

So what else did I do in November?  Well, I am super excited to share the cookies I donated to a bake sale at Dwell Studio, which the founder Christiane Lemieux personally thanked me and showed them off on their blog.  I also did some cute ballet cookies for my niece’s birthday party.  I still have to show off my daughters Halloween costume, I know its Christmas season but its really good I don’t want to wait a whole year to share!  And I also have the full set of photos from my Halloween dinner party table that was featured on Amy Atlas.  Wow!  So stay tuned, I’ll try really hard to get those posts up soon :)

If you are interested in ordering these Nutcracker cookies, I have a listing up on my etsy shop HERE.  Until December 19th I am available to make and ship out each made to order batch within 3 days of placing your order.  There is still time to gift this wonderful cookie for a party or stocking!

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Election Day Cookies

Election Day 2012 Cookies

These election day cookies were for more than to celebrate voting, they went directly to a church serving hot meals to the victims of Hurricane Sandy in Red Hook.  My intentions when making them was not just to brighten someone’s cold day but as an initiative to take civil responsibility even during this time of devastation.   Macy and I walked about 100 cookie and cupcake treats over yesterday before I went to vote.  Which by the way took me about 2 hours of waiting in line.  But of course it was worth it!  Warm congratulations to President Barack Obama for another four years.

 

 

Vote Cookies

 

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

 

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

As we end a week surrounded by so much devastation, my husband and  I are so thankful that our family, building and neighborhood are experiencing  much normalcy.  We are only 2 miles from Dumbo, less than a mile from Red Hook and a block from the G0wanus Canal, we expected much flooding  but were miraculously spared from nearly all effects and after effects from Hurricane Sandy.  Being home together for 6 days, the apartment is staying relatively clean, dinner is ready early every night and I have found the time to enjoy the comfort of baking, just for us, just because.  Although the kids have bags and bags of sweet candies, last night I was craving a different kind of treat – pumpkin whoopie pies.

I experience my first pumpkin whoopie pie just a month ago at One Girl Cookies in my Brooklyn neighborhood.   I probably mentioned wanting one everyday since then and my husband has offered to go get me more on several occasions. But I had known immediately at the time  I ate the first pie that I must learn how to make this delicious treat at home.

 

I didn’t have to look very far to find the recipe, Amy Atlas had perfected it in her book Sweet Designs and additionally posted the recipe on her blog just this week.  To my joy, the ingredients were all items that I already had in my pantry and last night I whipped them together.  Baking in the oven, my apartment was filled with their wonderful homemade goodness and comforting aroma.

The filling is a cream cheese icing recipe also from Sweet Designs.  I prefer cream cheese icing on many of my cakes and it is the perfect complement to this cake like cookie.  In fact I even preferred Amy Atlas’s cream cheese icing recipe to my standby that I thought couldn’t get any better!

Macy and I couldn’t wait for the pies to cool before we were gobbling up one still hot from the tray and waiting for them to cool so we could assemble a few for dessert felt like an eternity!  Honestly, the word heavenly comes to mind when I eat one, its the perfect combination of sweet and tangy with a nostalgic pumpkin pie spice taste.

A whoopie pie itself is an interesting treat, it could be described as a soft cookie. I would compare it to a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie, but much better of course because I made it at home.  One 2-3 inch round pie is the perfect size to enjoy but not overindulged.    I found working with the batter to be easy, it was just the right consistency to pipe out onto the parchment paper without much effort yet it stayed firm and didnt flood out of shape.   Baked to perfection in 15 minutes in my hot running gas oven and well, I dont think I’ll find out know how long they stay fresh in the fridge because they won’t last a day in our home!

Cake for breakfast is a norm in our home and now whoopies pies fit the bill too!  Luckily, I snapped a few pics (looking very fitting on my new Hable Construction fabric from the BKLYN sample sale last week) before we all enjoyed another round in our pj’s and I wonder now how I’m going to keep myself from eating 5 more today!

 

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

You can find the Pumpkin Whoopie Pie recipe in Amy Atlas’s new book Sweet Designs or on her blog HERE.

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Dancing Witches Halloween Cake

Happy Halloween!  My favorite holiday is here, although it feels strange to be celebrating in New York just 2 days after Hurricane Sandy barreled through.  My family is safe and sound, we never lost power or had flooding on our street and we are now on day 3 of a mini vacation from school, ballet and work.  The weather looks good for Trick or Treating tonight in our neighborhood, but if it wasn’t we would still have fun in our building full of young kids.

On the day that Sandy hit I had my second feature on Amy Atlas, a Halloween Dinner Party that was inspired by Dennison Bogie books.  I crafted for the first time with real crepe paper and fell in love with a medium that I can use to create dramatic backdrops and limitless crafts for just a few dollars.  For my Spooky Supper  I made a gigantic cake that would have served 100, except 2 of the cake layers were fake.  Here is a great shot of the prop cake portion of the cake, complete by itself as my Dancing Witches Halloween Cake.  I will be following up soon with the rest of my Halloween Dinner Party post, until then check out my Amy Atlas feature HERE and the rest of my Halloween posts:

Black Magic Candy Apples

Easy Halloween Invitation

Halloween Crow Curiosity

Wonderland Family- Halloween Costumes

Halloween Madhatter Cake

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Halloween Dinner Party Featured on Amy Atlas

I have been featured on Amy Altas again!  My “Spooky Super” is one of a few Halloween parties that Amy has chosen to feature in October.  I have already posted a few of the items from this table and I will follow up with a complete description soon.  Until then, have a Happy Halloween!

See the Amy Atlas Feature HERE!

Check out my other Halloween posts:

Black Magic Candy Apples

Easy Halloween Invitation

Halloween Crow Curiosity

Wonderland Family- Halloween Costumes

Dancing Witches Halloween Cake

Halloween Madhatter Cake

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