My latest cake adventure has been into the world of Lego Nexo Knights. Before this week I hadn’t heard of them myself, but my two Lego crazed boys knew ALL about them. This particular request was for Aaron, the green knight, apparently the cool one – he has a hoverboard and everything! So, welcome to the world of Lego Nexo and I hope you find this tutorial somewhat useful.
You will need:
1 Laminator Sheet and a home laminator
5 layers of cake
1 portion of buttercream
Green, yellow, black, orange and white or grey fondant
Step 1 – Meet Aaron, super cool Lego Nexo Knight who rides a hoverboard. Before you start decorating, bake your cakes. I used five layers filled with buttercream. While that bakes, find a tin or cylindrical object the right size to form the visor on. It needs to be about 2.5cm larger in diametre than your cake tin.
Step 2 – Before starting on the sugary goodness of decorating, the visor needs to be made first, as it will need time to set. Before making the visor itself, a plastic support for the visor needs to be assembled or the darn thing just will NOT stay in one piece. Trust me here, you can’t fight the laws of physics. To make the plastic visor support start with a laminator sheet. Cut it into quarters longways and place one strip INSIDE another, then pass it through the laminator so all four layers are sandwiched together.
Step 3 – As the strip exits the laminator, pull it around towards you, so it sets with an arc. This will make it easier to attach to the curved visor when you make it from fondant later. Repeat step 2 and 3 with the last two strips of laminator sheet so the final piece has 8 layers of plastic and is fairly stiff.
Step 4 – Cut the plastic strip to match the outline of the Lego Nexo Knight Visor Template, allowing it to extend about 3cm past each end. Stand it on it’s edge to preserve the curve and set it aside for now. The template provided is for Nexo Knight Aaron. Each Nexo Knight has a different visor design. You can meet the different Lego Nexo Knight characters here and use this same technique to make a visor for a different character if needed.
Step 5 – Cover the tin you plan to set the visor on in aluminium foil and find something to sit it inside so it doesn’t roll away. I used and ice-cream container. Roll out a piece of fondant, with CMC powder added, or use gum paste if you prefer. Keep it fairly thick, about 1.5 to 2cm. Place the template on top of the fondant and use a craft knife to cut out the visor shape. Carefully lift the cut visor onto the covered tin and allow it to dry a little before painting the top and sides with silver edible paint. Allow the visor to dry and harden, overnight is preferable.
Step 6 – When the visor is completely dry carefully slide the plastic visor support under the fondant and adhere it with a small amount of sugar glue. Leave it to dry.
Step 7 – Level four of the five layers of cake. leave the fifth top layer unlevelled, to provide the domed top for the head and trim the edges into a gentle curve.
Step 8 – Stack and fill the cake. Cut a wedge of cake for the light on the top of the helmet and add it to the top of the cake using some buttercream.
Step 9 – Crumb coat the cake and allow it to set to a crust.
Step 10 – Roll a piece of yellow fondant fairly thin and cut into a rectangle to fit one side of the cake. This is where the face will sit, so make sure it is big enough to cover the Nexo Knight Face Cut Out Template.
Step 11 – Adhere the rectangle of yellow fondant to the front of the cake with piping gel, making sure the centre aligns with the centre of the wedge on the top.
Step 13 – Make temporary marks on the cake board that align with the marks provided on the Nexo Knight Face Cut Out Template. This will help later with the tricky part of cutting out the helmet opening.
Step 14 – Roll out the green fondant and cover the cake, taking care not to use any piping gel or any other adhesive over the yellow portion of the cake.
Step 16 – Use a craft knife to cut out the top layer of green fondant to expose the yellow piece beneath and create the helmet opening. Take care not to cut too deeply and mark the yellow fondant. Leaver the cut piece out of the opening with the knife to remove it.
Step 17 – Roll out a thin piece of both black and white fondant. Using the Nexo Knight Face Template trace the outline of the mouth and eyes onto the black fondant using a pointed modelling tool and just enough pressure to indent the fondant. Cut out the using a craft knife and cover and set aside. Repeat the indent and cut process with the white fondant to create the inside of the mouth, lay the black piece over the top of the white and adhere with a very, very small amount of sugar glue – too much will cause the black colour to run all over the white.
Step 18 – Position the face inside the helmet opening with a little sugar glue as possible. Use pins to stop the pieces slipping while the glue sets. Roll the dimples and freckles out of orange fondant and position them to complete the face. Step back and admire Aaron, he’s kinda cute!
Step 19 – Use a ball tool to create two indents straight down the front of the helmet from the sides of the top wedge to the notches at the top of the helmet opening. You can get all fancy here and decorate the helmet more if you like, if you are more familiar with these Nexo Knights than I am!
Step 20 – Marble together some yellow and green fondant, roll and cut to fit the front of the top wedge to resemble a light using a little sugar glue. Edge this piece with a few ropes of green fondant to give it some depth.
Step 21 – Position the Lego Nexo Knight Visor Template on the front of the helmet and using some pins mark the cake where it needs to be attached on the sides. Remove the template.
Step 22 – Insert at least four toothpicks along the top edge of the helmet opening, these will be used to sit the visor on and stop it slipping. Carefully lift the visor onto the cake and secure to the sides with piping gel and pins through the bit of plastic that was left extending at each end in step 4. Make sure the visor is sitting securely on top of the toothpicks.
Step 23 – Using cookie cutters cut two circles and two hexagons out of grey fondant. Adhere a hexagon on top of each circle with a little sugar glue and position these over the sides of the visor so they hide the pins that secure it to the helmet.
Step 24 – Roll a half inch wide rope of green fondant long enough to fit around the base of the helmet and adhere it with sugar glue. Decorate the back of the helmet with a few more of these to add some detail. I made a paste out of softened fondant and water and painted it over the whole helmet to give it a ‘battle worn’ look too (and to hide a few dents I made in the fondant along the way – remember to remove your rings before you start to avoid the same).
Step 25 – Meet Aaron, super cool Lego Nexo Knight! Get the camera out and take a photo of your brilliant work, and share your success in the comments below.
I have made Peony flowers many times the traditional way – by cutting, veining, frilling, wiring and drying each petal individually. They looked amazing – see… they also took F O R E V E R.
Well maybe not that long but more time that this working mamma has to dedicate to cakey flowers as often as I get asked to make them. You can imagine how thrilled I was to see these jems of cutters at my local cake studio recently. They look like this and are called Easy Peasy Peony Cutter Set by Sugar Crafty.All the petals are joined together – genius!
So how quick is it? Well, I can make, cut and dust a large flower in about half an hour! The only shortcoming with these that I can see is that they don’t magically speed up the fondant drying time, so it is still a couple of hours before the peony can be assembled.
To make a peony using these cutters follow these steps:
1. Roll out out fondant to approximately 1-2mm thick and cut out the largest peony shape. I like to do two of these.
2. Using a foam pad, roll the edges with a balling tool to give them shape and ruffle. It took me a long time to master this, despite it being pretty simple. The secret is to position the balling tool half on and half off the edge of the fondant shape and use a firm pressure. This ensures that the fondant thins and stretches at the very edge, which is what makes the ruffle. No need to over do it either, a little bit gives the right effect.
3. To give some texture to the petals you could use a veiner, but I am not very good at that so instead I use a cone tool and just press and drag at least three creases into each petal.
4. When all the petals are creased and ruffled place the whole piece inside a patty pan or small bowl and leave it to dry into a pretty peony petal shape. I make copies of my favourite size bowls by pressing several layers of Al Foil into the original to copy the shape.
5. Repeat the crease and ruffle bit with the other three cutter sizes and place those into shallow dishes to dry into pretty peony petal shapes too.
6. To make the centre cut another of the smallest cutter size and crease and ruffle it the same way as the others. Then fold the petals together into the centre to make a bud shape. To make a tighter bud make a ball of fondant to wrap the petals around.
7. The next bit is the hardest part! Wait. Or if you can’t do that dust the edges of the petals while waiting for them to dry. The good news is it is best not to wait for the petals to harden completely before assembling. It is much easier to layer them together when there is a little bit of give left in them.
8. Once the petals have mostly dried stack them inside one another, using a dab of sugar glue to stick them together.
The peony here has five petals plus a centre. I think they look better with more, just keep stacking to get the look of a fuller peony. I think this one looks better than those made using the fiddly and forever taking individual petal method.
It seems to be party season around here with my kids coming home with an invitation to a birthday party most days this week! While the kids are thrilled it has raised some angst with the mums – kids parties seem to be a big stress thing for a lot of my mum friends. For others its a very expensive exercise as the ‘at home with cake and games’ type party of my childhood seems to be a long forgotten thing of the past.
Just quietly I LOVE organising my boys parties. It plays to my organising and creative strengths and keeps my brain busy for a bit. I have devised a formula though, as I must admit to can get out of hand very quickly if you spend too long on Pinterest and over estimate just how expensive and time consuming actually DOING all those things is.
My advice is to pick five things and no more that are on theme. Pick a theme, even if its just a colour. Those amazing party places stuffed to the ceiling with colourful party goodness are so much easier to navigate and escape from if you go in with a theme to stick to.
The secret is to pick the same five things to do for every party – then all that has to change is the theme. This is my five:
1. Invitations, I like to set the theme and tone of the party right from the start.
2. Birthday Cake. There must be cake and snacks. I plan parties for before or after lunch so there is no need to provide a full meal.
3. Decorations – usually balloons as they are cheap, easy and nothing says party like a bunch of balloons.
4. Activity – one will do, our favourite is donuts on a string but pass the parcel is a staple too.
5. Lolly Bags or something small for guests to take home.
That’s it. Just do one of each of those and the party is made. In fact for younger children just 2 would do!
I’ve done this a few times now:
Angry Birds Party:
Invitation– designed in Photoshop and printed as a 6×4 inch photo at Snapfish.
Cake– Minion cake made using a slab cake, this minion tutorial and some toys out of a construction set.
Activity– Donuts on a String – no hands allowed.
Decorations– balloons with Minion masks I found here.
Lolly Bags – This was a water party so I made everyone a Squid Gun out of some water pistols I bought at Cheap As Chips using the printable I found here.
Cake – Angry Birds inspired cake inspired by a couple of hours touring Pinterest and this tutorial.
Activity– Like most of our January parties this was a backyard water party. All we do is cover the lawn in blow up wading pools, give everyone a water pistol and squirt them with the garden hose every so often. The kids LOVE it.
Decorations(& another Activity)- We painted some boxes and built a Angry Birds set for the kids to knock down with some Angry Birds balls I bought at Big W. I made the pigs from green beach balls I got on EBay and used some printable stick on vinyl to make the faces. It was a BIG hit (pun intended).
Lolly Bag – I went a bit overboard here and made all the kids a Peppa Pig to take home using this tutorial.
Lawn Mower Party:
Invitation– Designed in Photoshop using a favourite photo and printed at Snapfish.
Cake – Lawn Mower cake – self inspired as Pinterest really wasn’t a lot of help on this one!
Activity– Like most of our June parties this one was indoors! We hired a space at our local play cafe.
Decorations– As we were in a borrowed space there wasn’t much decorating to do. I made lawn mower biscuits from squares of chocolate, M&Ms, and a licorice strap.
Lolly Bag – Being a third birthday the lolly bags were light on lollies, just a Freddo Frog, a Paint with Water colouring book and a little thank you note I printed on plain paper and designed in Photoshop.
Drum Kit Party:
Invitation– This was a low key affair as went all out with the present and bought the boy an electric drum kit – he was thrilled! Invitations were a SMS message to join us for dinner at a local cafe.
Cake -A drum kit cake, of course! I cheated and used a couple of bought sponge cake, cutting rounds for the drums out of one and sitting them on top of the other.
Activity– This cafe is right next door to a Tunza Fun, so we played a few games of Grand Turismo.
Decorations– There weren’t any!
Lolly Bag – Sprinkle cup cakes topped with headphones made out of licorice for everyone to take home.
Backyard Water Party:
Invitation– Designed in Photoshop using some digital scrapbooking supplies and printed at Snapfish.
Cake – This one was tricky as it was a shared party so I created a Lego Friends Minion cake to satisfy both birthday boy and girl.
Activity– A January party again and it was HOT so this one involved water backyard fun and an ice pinata. I froze a heap of little toys and lolly pops in a plastic tub of water, turned it out and let the party peeps at it with hammers and water pistols filled with warm water. They LOVED it and it took ages to free all the goodies.
Decorations– There weren’t any! We order pizzas and served Cornetto ice creams for dessert.
Lolly Bag – Whatever they pried free from the ice pinata!
Bike Ride Party:
Invitation– Designed in Photoshop using some digital scrapbooking supplies and printed at Snapfish.
Cake – Bike cake covered with ganache and topped with a fondant plate holding a bike picture I had printed on fondant to make it easier to sculpt.
Activity– We booked out the local Road Safety Centre and the kids loved it! The hire included bikes and helmets for all the kids (or they could bring their own) a brief chat about the road rules and a room for cake and food. I can’t recommend this highly enough, it was fairly cheap, provided a good two hours of ride time and had the kids begging for more. It did help that we were blessed with some winter sun.
Decorations– There weren’t any but I did make bike cupcakes with bikes I traced in royal icing on the top.
Lolly Bag – Little gift bags with a small torch and a handful of lollies.
So, if you are thinking you have to spend a fortune, be a crafty goddess or an organising guru to host a kids party you really, really don’t. The secret to success is the five formula. Kids are easily impressed and entertained, especially when they are among favourite friends. All that going overboard is secretly just to impress the other parents and totally unnecessary for party success.
Of all the things I imagined my children might have challenges with socks was not one of them! Despite that shoes and socks can be the cause of a 20 minute battle that our morning routine really can’t accommodate.
Our oldest boy has Sensory Processing Disorder, a complex and frustrating condition that effects the way his brain processes information received from his senses, making him very intolerant of lots of sensory experiences, like wearing clothing. Especially socks. In his world all socks are lined with thumb tacks and are so painful to wear they can often be found flying through the air at our house as a result of being flung from an offending foot at great speed. Given this detail about socks you can imagine how well he goes with shoes. Lets just say they aren’t aerodynamic either. You can read more about Sensory Processing Disorder here.
Despite occupational therapy and hours of brushing, which helped enormously, there is still a cold war on socks that erupts to out and out war most mornings that can take anything up to an hour to negotiate a truce for so we can head off to work and school. I cannot tell you how exhausting and frustrating this is for all of us, particularly seeing as none of us are morning people to begin with!
After a lot of observation it seemed to me that the biggest issue was the little lumpy bits socks get at the corner of the toes, as things were slightly less explosive if he put them on inside out. So Google and I went in search of seam free socks for sensory kids and found them. Hello SmartKnitKids Seamless Sensory Socks, which you can buy here. Hallelujah and praise be to the entrepreneurial angels that manufacture such things for our mornings have been (mostly) saved!
These gems are absolutely seamless socks with no shaped heel. That means no annoying pokey bits at the toes and no trouble with putting them on upside down. Perfect for children experiencing the hypersensitivity that comes with Sensory Processing Disorder (or just hate socks), and bliss for parents who know the stress of dealing with flying sock meltdowns regularly. Well worth the more than $10 per pair investment required to acquire them, despite it feeling like extortion at the time.
I will warn of one unforeseen side effect. I have become obsessive with socks and often hear myself saying (loudly and passionately) ‘PLEASE do not wear those socks outside!’ or ‘make sure your socks go IN your bag’. It has paid off though, we have only lost a couple in the year since buying them.
So if the sock stand off is part of your morning routine I highly recommend heading over to www.itmakessense.com.au and investing in some seam free socks. They might just thaw the cold war on socks at your place too.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about her 4 year old son and his newly discovered kleptomania. He had managed to steal something from Bunnings during their last visit. ‘What should I do?’ – she asked me. My advice was to put him back in the car and take him and the offending item back. He should apologise I said. ‘But he’s only 4! she wailed – ‘I don’t want him to feel bad’.
I don’t want him to feel bad. That made me sit on my heels for a bit. The Mama Bear in me totally gets that. We want to protect our cubs from the hurt the world dishes up. Perfectly normal, but is it really what is best for children? The part of me that has been charged with raising responsible, compassionate and resilient adults is not siding with Mama Bear.
What bad feeling was she protecting him from? Embarrassment? Guilt? Remorse? Shame? Those feelings are a natural and very healthy response to being caught stealing. I want them to feel that so next time the opportunity presents itself they will choose NOT to do it to avoid feeling bad. Feeling badly will deliver far more meaningful consequences for that behaviour choice than any tactic a parent could dream up, although I do suggest one of those is warranted too. Our job is not to protect them from life, it’s to prepare them for a life isn’t always fair, kind or forgiving. Once a bad experience has happened nothing can be done to make it un-happen. The only choice left is how to respond to it.
So what good can come of letting the bad feelings have their place? If we shield kids from those bad feelings we rob them of the chance to learn coping skills. I want my boys to experience these feelings while I am around so we can talk about it. About how they can make amends and about how bad feelings are just feelings, they don’t define who they are as people. Part of my job is to teach them how to deal with embarrassment, hurt, disappointment, shame, loss, anger and remorse. To teach them how to respond constructively, apologise meaningfully and make it right. To teach them how to be emotionally resilient. It’s my job to demonstrate those behaviours myself so they can see me dealing with it and moving on. The sooner they learn that life is not always fair (an echo from my Dad – ‘my darling who ever told you life was going to be fair?’) the happier they will be. As parents we need to be brave enough to let them experience adversity so they will know from experience that it isn’t a catastrophe and that mistakes aren’t the end of the world.
So how do we balance the burning desire to protect them with the need to let them experience life and figure this stuff out? Like most parenting dilemmas there is no one right answer. Know what is right for your child. Be confident in their, and your, ability to cope. Be their safe place and tell them, often, you love them no matter what. My boys know they could do the worst and I would still love them. I might not like their behaviour or condone their choices, but no matter what that is, I will always love them.
As parents we need to understand the value of adversity in our children’s life. A little bad is a good thing.
I made this little beauty this week, I say little because it is only a four inch round! The inspiration came from a fondant pieced three dimensional version that was intricate in detail and beyond what I could manage in time and talent. Instead I designed the Combi in Photoshop Elements. I am rubbish at drawing curves freehand and, to be truthful, not much of a freehand artist at all, so I cheated a bit (well, a lot) by turning a photo of a Combivan into a sketch in Photoshop and using portions of basic shapes to make up the design. Thank you Photoshop for making my average talents useful!
I then took the finished design to my local cake studio had it printed on sheet fondant. I am LOVING printing on fondant – it really plays to my strengths and I can think of so many ways to make use of that wee technological gem.
The cake part was very simple. The daisies are cut with a flower cutter and dried in plastic artists pallets from the $2 Shop to give them some shape. I adhered the printed Combi to a piece of rolled fondant with some water and set it to dry on a bit a Glad Bake draped over a glass vase. A vase carefully selected to have the same curve as my cake.
I added some headlights using a flower centre press mold, added wing mirrors, wheels and let it dry hard before adhering the whole piece to the front of my now fondant covered cake. Speaking of covering cakes in fondant – this was the first cake I had covered in fondant myself, without the help of my extraordinarily talented Sister In Law, just by following the instructions in a Craftsy online class. I can add to the lessons offered here one I learned the hard way – take your rings off before attempting to roll and smooth fondant – I ended up with a big divot missing out the front of the Combi made by accident by one of my rings – oops. I covered it up with the little flowers on the front – cute but not intentional!
Becky Higgins Project Life has been around since 2010 and has revolutionised the scrapbooking world. Big words I know – but a fair assessment. Essentially Becky has provided a foundation for scrapbooks that is part creative genius and part 1980s pocket album. It gets memories recorded, fast AND satisfies all the urges for buying of pretty/shiny/glittery things that ‘normal’ scrapping provides. Perfection.
So why pocket scrapping? Well…
Its F A S T and I am time poor;
There are LOTS of templates and other fun shopping opportunities available;
It gives our everyday stories a home;
The year-by-year format allows the through line of our stories to show more clearly;
It gives the big stories space and makes our family album more special.
I build my pages digitally using whatever templates take my fancy. For 2015 it’s Just Jamie’s Ready To Go templates from the Storyteller series – just lovely and because these are layered templates, all the hard work is done!
The pages for each year go into ring bound albums (usually two will hold a year), mostly because I don’t have the patience to wait a WHOLE YEAR before printing and because I like to have a home for all the detritus we collect in the shape of certificates, tickets, drawings, school reports, birthday cards and other assorted memory tied things. It all goes in the ‘big book’, as my boys call it, in Marbig plastic sleeves from Officeworks.
Right now I am still working my way through 2014, I’m up to October, and no, I don’t feel like I’m ‘behind’. Stories can’t be told until they have happened and I like to have some distance from things before I write about them. It lets the stories mature somehow and I prefer my journaling when I have let that happen. I also scrap as things happen. No counting pages or weeks, some months have just a two page spread and others have five or six – or more. Birthdays always have more. August and September are birthday season around here and usually run to about twenty pages! Whatever it takes to feel like the year has been recorded. Our life is the formula.
I have to say I am loving this format. It has provided a home for our everyday stories and left space in my scrapbooking albums to really dig into the deeper stories. If something gets a page in there you know it’s something special and that’s how I want that album to feel.
The templates I used for 2014 are Katie Pertiet’s Pocket Pages Layered Templates. I had done none of 2014 by the time May rolled around and was looking for something I could smash out quickly and with minimal fuss – have to say I am well pleased with the results!
I am a working mum of two loud, full speed, beautiful boys who are now 7 and 5.
Just before Son One turned one I went back to work full time, because both my husband and I had been made redundant. It was the best choice for our family at the time. It was hard leaving him, and even harder picking him up because he didn’t want to come home! I can see daycare has been good for him, he is socially good with other kids and has learned and experienced things that he never would have if he had stayed at home with me – simply because we don’t have the resources daycare has. That little stint taught me I’m a better Mum when I spend some time at work. I’m more patient, happier and more at peace.
When Son Two was five months old I was offered an opportunity to work a permanent part time job – almost unheard of in the IT industry. I had not intended to go back to work so soon but they were prepared to be very flexible and so it was too good to pass up. Especially seeing as I had made the investment to be Masters qualified in this field and it moves at a cracking pace, to be away for too long would make me practically useless. So, that decision has made me a working Mum of two boys.
I figured I had some idea how to do that, my Mum had worked most of my childhood and done it with apparent ease. I imagined we would find a routine that provided the work/life balance we needed and settle into it for a couple of years. Boy did that idea do my head in for a while! My house does not get vacuumed or mopped on a scheduled day of the week. The washing (loving referred to as Mount Wash-more) does not always get folded and put away before it gets worn again and the dishes do not always get cleaned before bed. So I mean, literally, there’s dirt.
The dirty secret is that there is no such thing as that magic work/life balance formula. The secret is to do what needs doing first RIGHT NOW and to keep doing it. That means there is sometimes dirt. Sometimes housework isn’t first on the list. Sometimes playing with the boys is first, sometimes sleep for me is first, sometimes work has to be done first. Sometimes I need some creative time to do some scrapbooking in the shade of Mount Wash-more.
The real secret is that all that is what my family needs, this is what makes us happy right now and that’s okay.