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Welcome to Miss Strawberry's Cafe: December 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Video Game Treats for Genre's Kids with Cancer

In support of Genre's Kids with Cancer Fund, I pulled an all nighter in the kitchen baking 50 cupcakes and 50 cookies based on a variety of children's video games.

Why video games?

Genre loves them. He particularly realized how helpful playing his Nintendo DS system helped him through his initial 14-day hospital stay when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) last year when he was 8 years old.

Inspired by this very simple thing, Genre wanted to make sure all the children at the Children's Hospital (Pittsburgh) could have a video game system to help them pull through the long hours of chemotherapy and hospitalization. This is how Genre's Kids with Cancer Fund was born in Fall of 2009.

Meet Genre and watch for more info

Genre's Kids with Cancer Fund works to provide a handheld video game system for every child diagnosed with cancer at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh but also works to provide help to families living through childhood cancer in a variety of ways financially, emotionally, and spiritually.

Just yesterday, Saturday, Dec. 11th, the Pittsburgh Chapter of the International Game Developers Association (PIGDA) hosted their 4th Annual Gamers Give Back event and held a charity auction to support Genre's Kids with Cancer Fund. I was asked to bake video game cupcakes and treats for the event.

I decided to post the event on Facebook to raise awareness and ask for the support of friends and family, and only after two days of posting the event, $100 was raised to cover the costs for the treats! We raised a total of $120 to support Genre's Kids with Cancer thanks to Liam from the United Kingdom, Chris from California, and Ivy from New Mexico!

Mrs. Baker, Genre's mother, told me some of Genre's favorite video games - he especially loves anything Super Marios Bros. and Lego Star Wars. I also got tons of feedback from friends and fans on various nonviolent, child-friendly video games to help me make these!:

Clockwise starting from left: Princess Peach cupcakes were chocolate with buttercream frosting tinted pink and a mini sugar cookie crown decorated with blue and red mini M&Ms. Mushroom cupcakes were vanilla with buttercream frosting tinted light blue; mushroom face is a marshmallow dipped in vanilla candy coating tinted light peach, and its head is made from shaped hazelnut cake dipped in red candy coating and dotted with white candy coating (both vanilla flavor); the mushroom is standing up by the support of a chocolate Pocky stick in the middle! Luigi cupcakes were vanilla with green-tinted buttercream frosting; mustache made from dark chocolate and Luigi logo made with white candy and piped buttercream. Mario cupcakes were chocolate with red-tinted buttercream frosting, and the Mario logo was piped with red icing.

I got the inspiration for the Princess Peach, Mario, and Luigi cupcakes from some absolutely adorable items on an Etsy store by creator The Bird & The Bee

Lego Star Wars cupcakes were all chocolate with buttercream tinted gray. I drew and cut out the face shapes on cardstock to use as stencils to make mini sugar cookies piped with tinted royal icing for each character. The light sabers are soda flavored candy sticks I found at a local Japanese foods store; I googled and saw that you can get them here - Soda Kendo Candy Sticks.

I got the lovely brown cupcake wrappers from Simply Caked - I highly recommend their site for baking supplies; their customer service is excellent

Disney's Epic Mickey cupcakes were also chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting. The Mickey heads were made by halving regular-sized Oreo cookies, and the ears were made with leftover Mini Oreo halves I had from a bunch of owl cupcakes I made the day before. The paintbrushes were made with dark chocolate and painted with white, yellow, and blue candy melts. I got the inspiration for decorating these cupcakes here.

These Pokeball cupcakes were also inspired by an item I saw on The Bird & The Bee Etsy Store. Vanilla cupcakes with red-tinted buttercream; base iced with Wilton Black Icing and circle is a Mini Oreo half. (For anything black on my treats, I tend to always use the Wilton Black Icing both to save time and because the taste and piping consistency are great. I found that trying to tint my own icing black takes a whole lot of time and food coloring!!)

The Petz cupcakes were vanilla with the same gray-tinted buttercream frosting I used for the Lego Star Wars cupcakes. The ears were mini cookies that I made with mini Christmas cookie cutters I found at my local Michaels store (that I shop at ALL THE TIME) and iced with tinted royal icing. The dog ears are mini stocking-shaped cutters, and the cat/bunny ears are made from mini Christmas light-shaped cutters! You never know what you can do if you just use your imagination and think outside the box a little!

I originally planned to be just as elaborate with the cookies, but I unfortunately had a setback after falling under the weather health-wise and only got to make Super Mario Bros. stars and coins:

These were sugar cookies (different recipe from the mini ones I made for the cupcakes) with yellow-tinted royal icing and the same Wilton Black Icing I used on some of the cupcakes. 

Even though I loved how they all turned out, I was super disappointed that I didn't get to complete all the treats that I had sketched and planned for. So, I'm hoping to still follow through with the rest of the cookies and cake pops I originally wanted to make by taking them on a visit to the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh as a Christmas gift to the children and families there.

Miss Strawberry's Cafe sweets on display at PIGDA's 4th Annual Gamers Give Back event

Thank you so much to everyone who showed their support in the smallest and largest of ways!! None of these treats would have been possible without everyone's encouragement and participation! A very special thank you especially to Jia who made this opportunity possible!

If you'd like to support Genre's Kids with Cancer Fund, you can make donations directly on their site!


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Friday, December 3, 2010

"Whoooo doesn't love a baby?"

Several weeks ago, I received my very first official order requesting green and yellow owl cupcakes for a baby shower. The soon-to-be mother briefly explained that she was doing all she could to keep her costs as low as possible, especially since she was working to fund the celebration on her own.

This got me thinking about all those mothers out there who are in similar or worse situations and struggle financially to prepare for their babies let alone be able to afford a baby shower celebration for the coming of their child with their friends, family, and loved ones.

I love that I'm not the only one who thinks of these things and that there are people who take action and do something to make change.

Stuart and Laurie Marson of Onesie Twosie

I google-hunted "nonprofit baby showers" and was instantly filled with warm fuzzy feelings to see that there were several efforts existing that support expectant parents by specifically fulfilling the wish of holding a special baby shower. There are, of course, also tons of organizations that support a variety of other related issues with family planning, like the couple pictured above who founded Onesie Twosie.

I read about them in this article and learned that they were inspired to establish Onesie Twosie after attending a baby shower and seeing the amount of items new babies received. They created Onesie Twosie as a means of locally supporting five different nonprofits in their area with material goods that needy families could find useful in raising their child(ren). Onesie Twosie supports and donates to the Perinatal AIDS Center, Homeless Prenatal Program, the Children's Hospital newborn intensive care unit, Project Pride of the East Bay Community Recovery Project, and Planned Parenthood (all local branches in the San Francisco Bay Area of California). They also work with diaper wholesalers to reduce retail prices by a third - diapers are by far the greatest need for new parents.

I also saw large support networks specifically for military wives and mothers expecting a child. There is a lovely nonprofit called Operation Showers that provide "extravagant baby showers" for those military mothers who struggle managing to care for their family because of their own deployment and/or face the difficulties of pregnancy alone while their military husbands are deployed.

I think it is a wonderful thing that such a nonprofit was started to help give all mothers a chance to enjoy the same luxury of celebrating the birth of a child in such a nice way. Extravagant baby showers aren't necessary, but helping to ensure the equal opportunity for all mothers to celebrate in meaningful ways is what I believe is important.

In order to show you how I constructed the owl cupcakes for the mother-to-be who ordered from me, I made this ingredient "chart" that you can follow:

These few I took photographs of were made as samples. I'll be making 5-6 dozen of these hoots next week!

Since she wanted green and yellow owls, I tinted vanilla buttercream frosting accordingly, but I prefer Nutella for the Almond Hazelnut Cupcakes. I'll be making half hazelnut and half vanilla cupcakes for the baby shower next weekend, and I can't wait! I'm hoping they'll turn out scrumpdiddlyumptious and will help make this soon-to-be-mother's baby shower memorable.

Speaking of babies and baby showers, I want to take a quick moment to congratulate my cousin Christine who just gave birth yesterday to her first son! I can't wait to see baby Joseph, and I still can't believe she's now officially a mom! Honestly, I don't think I still got over the fact that she was a Mrs., and her wedding was already two years ago!

Congratulations unnie!! I can't wait to meet Joseph!
Love you!!

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