Author Archives: frances

birthday cakes make you feel good

Cookie Monster cake


I’m a volunteer baker for an organization called cake4kids and I just made my first cake for them. I love baking so this is a perfect opportunity for me. Before reading about cake4kids, it never occurred to me that some kids don’t get a birthday cake or even celebrate their special day. Pretty heartbreaking, if you ask me. The organization provides free birthday cakes to foster children and at-risk youth. The idea is simple, you choose a child/cake from the monthly calendar, bake/decorate the cake and then deliver it. Easy breezy! Sometimes they’ll request specific decorations or a theme, as in my case — the little boy wanted a Sesame Street cake. I went with Cookie Monster cos everyone loves him, right? The cake was vanilla with vanilla vegan buttercream, due to the fact that the buttercream needed to be made with soy milk. Another volunteer sent me her vegan recipe, so I gave it a try. It tasted like regular buttercream to me, so it’s a recipe I’d use again if someone had dairy restrictions.

So how did my first experience go? I made the cake on a Tuesday, delivered it on a Wednesday and felt warm and fuzzy the rest of the day knowing I made this little guy happy!

polka dot sides!

Here is the Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting recipe from the book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World:
(Please note: the recipe as written here is made to frost a dozen cupcakes.  You might want to double it to get enough cake frosting, or at least have the ingredients on hand to make it twice.)

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (you can get Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks at Whole Foods)
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (Whole Foods has this, too)
3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted if clumpy
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain soy milk or soy creamer

- Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy.
- Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes.
- Add the vanilla and soy milk, and beat for 5-7 more minutes until fluffy.

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Friday Finds: Cool bike racks

I’m keepin’ it real right now by saying I don’t ride a bike around town. I love my car and am not comfortable enough on a bike to coexist with Silicon Valley car traffic. I wish I was, as the whole “spare the air” thing is a lovely idea. Not to mention the exercise! I’m sure I’d instantly drop pounds if I biked everywhere. And what about the cool bike racks popping up? Here are a few that are making me reconsider the whole car thing.

giant comb

I remember carrying a smaller version of this comb in my painter pants all through the 7th grade so I could brush out my Charlie’s Angels feathers at any given time. Artists Joshua Howell and Kagan Taylor of Popup Design turned this iconic comb into a fun and functional bike rack. I dig it!

colorful fish

Wouldn’t it be fun to park your bike on a colorful fish every morning? The kids at a the Piedmont Avenue Elementary School get to do just that every day. I love the bright colors and fun shape.

your bike is safe with fido

We all know dogs are our loyal buddies, so your bike will be in good hands (paws?) on this dog bike rack. Musician David Byrne is a long-time bicyclist who has designed bike racks for various New York neighborhoods. This one was my favorite!

I also did a little research on the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition website, where I found lots of good info for biking around the area. I’m going to pump up the tires on my bike and give it a try this weekend. I’ll let you know if I’ll be ditching my car in the near future.



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Please don’t eat these sweet treats

My hubby and I were shopping in Honolulu a few months ago and came across the cutest little store front. He was going to run into the video game store (yes, really) so I poked my head into this place and said, “I’m going to check out this candy shop” because it was too cute to pass up. As I stood in front of the glass cases, it took me several minutes before I realized I wasn’t looking at things I could eat — it was jewelry! Turns out I was inside of Q-Pot, the brain child of Japanese designer Tadaaki Wakamatsu. Q-Pot is known as the “mysterious pot” because “no one knows what will jump out of it”. And once you go inside, you’ll truly understand this concept.

Q-Pot designs are incredibly cute, sweet and very much about fantasy. Wakamatsu takes ordinary food items like chocolate bars and hamburgers and turns them into dreamy, wearable works of art.


a mini burger to wear around your neck

The burger and ice cream accessories come in layers, so you can add items to your stack as you wish. Don’t like tomatoes? Then just opt for lettuce and cheese instead!


a chocolate-dipped banana hair tie

love sweets? a cream puff necklace might satisfy your craving.

a delicate pink jelly candy hair tie


Q-Pot even makes baby clothes and bags…

Q-Pot baby goodies

chocolate bar bag


I ended up buying a pair of earrings that look like frosting shells. They’re a pretty pinky-coral, super girly and prefect for me since I’m a baking queen who works wonders with buttercream!

don't they look like frosting?


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huesday: ombre wedding cakes

A new trend in wedding cakes is ombre, which is a French term meaning “shaded”. Fashion designers have been producing ombre fabric for years and the trend has now crossed over into cake design. I’m currently in love with this idea and am considering making a mini version just to see how it comes out. I’m also considering a vow renewal (can you do that at 16 years of marriage?) just to have one of these while they’re still popular! The ombre look is simple yet so stunning. Imagine one of these beauties gracing your wedding.

Shades of yellow



Pretty in pink



You can even bake ombre inside of your cake!



I love the floral layer over the gradation of purple



Lovely ombre ribbon pattern


Cake credits:

Yellow cake found at Style Me Pretty
Pink cake found at Inspiration Wed
Pink interior cake found at Call Me Cupcake
Purple cake found at Maggie Austin Cake
Turquoise cake found at Bobbette & Belle

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