Category: DIY

Pistachio Skillet Cake

Pistachio Skillet Cake

Every so often I get so distracted by everything else going on in my life, that I completely slack off and procrastinate posting on the blog… and for that I’m sorry! That’s not to say I haven’t been busy cooking/baking and working on numerous DIY projects. I just haven’t had the discipline to sit down and write about them.

If you want to keep up, please follow the blog on Instagram I promise I post all my experiments on there.

There really has been a lot going on over the last two months. Lots of work, tons of social time with friends and family, and, most notably, I celebrated my birthday (my last year before the big 3-0)! Let me share a few fun things that have happened over the last two months (I’ll work my way back from April):

I find Birthdays to be the best time of year! It’s not about your birth DAY, per se. It’s about celebrating the few days before and the few days after with the people you love the most.


Did a little DIY—two months in the making, because the roses had to dry, and mostly because of procrastination.


I went to Philly for a couple days, and basically ate my weight in food. Philly cheese steaks, cannoli’s, rose-shaped crepes … the list goes on. But I sprinkled in some tourist attractions.




I baked some mad dulce de leche cupcakes stuffed with caramel for a friend’s birthday. They were incredible. There was a little DIY sprinkled in there. 

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Brunch season was upon us. And I started off this year’s season with a waffle bar brunch and these adorable pineapple fruit bowls.


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DC at Cherry Blossom Season. That is all. Well, let me just say that the last time I braved the crowds was about two years ago with Nonzi. 


I experimented with salad. Probably one of the best salads I’ve made. Roasted Cauliflower and crunchy chickpea salad over mixed greens with tahini dressing.


Adventure is almost my middle name. Okay fine, adventure within the limitations of comfort (I support glamping). Not that this was very adventurous, but I spent a couple days up in Baltimore where I indulged in brunch and visited the aquarium. I haven’t been to the Baltimore aquarium since I was probably 10 years old. It’s still amazing.

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February 14 is not special because it’s Valentine’s Day. It’s special because it’s my Tayta’s birthday. And this year, the love of my life celebrated another year with us… and it was as fabulous as ever!


And this brings us back to where I abruptly left off…


Pistachio Skillet Cake


  • 1 box Pistachio Pudding Mix
  • ½ tsp Almond Extract
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter, softened
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • Chopped Pistachios


  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Grease a 9” cast iron skillet or baking pan
  3. Cream together sugar and butter
  4. Add pistachio pudding mix and beat
  5. Add eggs one at a time and continue beating
  6. Add salt, vanilla and almond extracts, beat
  7. Add sugar and flour
  8. Beat until smooth (it’ll be really thick and hard to spread, but that’s okay)
  9. Spoon into your greased pan and use a rubber spatula to flatten the cake
  10. Sprinkle with pistachios
  11. Bake for 25-30 minutes
  12. Allow to cool – top with powdered sugar or rose petals
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DIY Birthday Box

DIY Birthday Box

If I love you, you’ll know it. I will have cooked for you, or crafted for your or both. One of my closest friends, and former coworker, moved abroad last year to start Grad School and join her fiancé in Paris. When she was still here in DC, she practically held my hand through two of the craziest years of my life, even when she had a million other things going on in her own life. And for that, I don’t think I can ever really thank her enough.

When she left to pursue her dreams, I was torn. Of course I wanted the best for her, I wanted her to become successful and stay happy, but I was also selfish. I didn’t want my close friend to leave because that would mean I wouldn’t be able to see her whenever I wanted, or go on our crazy adventures. So I sent her off with a Paris Survival Kit, complete with a Learn French on Your Commute CD pack, a photo of the two of us, some wine accessories and a really-long letter explaining what everything meant and why she needed them.

Now, a little less than a year later, it’s her birthday. And as much as I would have loved to get on the first flight to Paris, work and other obligations were standing in the way. Instead, I gathered a few things to send over in a birthday box.

The nice thing about birthday boxes, is that you can use your creativity to make them meaningful to the receiver. I usually always include cake in a jar, a card and birthday candles. Because, really what’s a birthday without cake? And it’s always nice to include something you know they’ll love … like coffee, for example.




I started with a plain white box from Michaels. It took me a while to decide how I wanted to decorate the box, but I decided to go with simplicity. Michael’s has an entire aisle dedicated to scrapbooking stickers. It’s so great, because they have so many ready-to-use themes. I picked up a couple sticker packets and ended up using two to create a simple design on the lid.

Going back to our days in DC, I remember our Friday Dunkin Coffee treats. So, at the grocery store I found packages of ground Dunkin Coffee.

South Moon Under sells this adorable mug that I bought to include in the box, and of course bought myself a matching one to use.



The card means the most to me. As a writer, I find that I can best express myself through the written word. It’s a challenge and an adventure to search the rows of birthday cards for something that says just the right thing, just the way that I want it to. A card that is a reflection of me as the giver and a reflection of the receiver. It’s an important and meaningful process. This card had to be special. Of course, I added my own note on the inside of the card as well. I always draft my thoughts out on a separate piece of paper before committing to writing on the card. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve added things in after writing my original draft. If you’re sending candles to go with the cake, it’s safest to tape them to the inside of the card. That way, they don’t break somewhere in the box.



Last, but certainly not least, the cake. Since I was sending this box from DC to Paris, I didn’t want to run into any customs issues. I filled a pretty mason jar with funfetti cake mix and sprinkles. I layered the sprinkles between the cake mix – it didn’t quite arrive layered, but at least the cake mix wasn’t all over the box.



Finally, packing it all up. I used colored tissue paper – and lots of it – to wrap up the jar and mug. I didn’t want it to get there in pieces. And I topped it all off with multi-colored confetti.

Birthday Boxes are meant to be special and tailored to the receiver. So use your own creativity to send someone best wishes on the most important day of the year to them.

DIY Mason Jar Cake

DIY Jar Cake_3

Mason Jars – the new DIY it item brought to you by Pinterest. I’ll admit it; I love them. They’re the most versatile DIY item out there. You can put almost anything in a mason jar, pretty it up with ribbon, burlap or twine and impress a crowd.

I’ve been known to use mason jars for plenty of projects, including the Salad Bar I pulled together for a bridal shower last month, and baked smores in a jar. This week, I wanted to try something a little more DIY… enter Mason Jar Chocolate Cake.

Let me start by saying, not everything turns out the way you expect it to – even for me. Sometimes, it really is an experiment and if it turns out I feature it on the blog.

I learned a few lessons during this experiment:

1) It never turns out the way you imagine it will

2) Don’t buy mason jars that don’t have measuring markers

3) Cake rises – a lot

I ended up making 4 mason jar cakes, each of which rose to a different level. I then came to the conclusion that even though the jars didn’t have measuring markers, about half way full of unbaked cake mix would be just about right [especially for frosting-lovers]

DIY Chocolate Cake baked in a Jar

DIY Jar cake_All


  • Quart-sized Mason Jars
  • Rimmed Baking Sheet
  • Cake Mix + Eggs, Water and Veggie Oil
  • Cooking Spray
  • Frosting
  • Sprinkles
  • Piping Bag + Frosting Tip of your choice



Preheat the oven to 350 F

Make sure you wash and dry the jars thoroughly, especially if they haven’t been used before

Spray the inside of the jars with cooking spray

In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, eggs, water and oil according to the boxed directions

Fill the jars about half way with cake mix, wiping down the inside of the jar and place on the rimmed baking sheet

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cake is cooked through

Remove the jars from the oven and allow to cool fully before frosting

Fill your piping bag with frosting and begin frosting each jar – top with sprinkles

Decorate and Serve!


Baking Themed Bridal Shower


One of my closest friends, Fiza, is getting married in a couple weeks. As part of our obligatory best friend duties—and our undying love for her of course, the TTC and I hosted her bridal shower. It was one of my favorites to pull together because the theme was so different from anything I’ve done in the past. Fiza is an undercover baker. I’ve mentioned in previous posts, that she needs to open up her own bakery. Her love of baking led me to pull together a full baking-themed bridal shower.

So how exactly do you pull off a baking-themed bridal shower? Let me show you …



Pot Arrangement Colander Arrangement Foodprocessor Arrangement


To tie in the baking theme to the entire shower, I used everyday kitchen items and appliances as centerpieces. This was the first time I used wet foam, as well as made my own arrangements. The fun part was picking out what flowers I thought looked good together in each of the centerpieces. The not so fun part, making sure I got all the stems into the wet foam so the flowers wouldn’t die on me.

I picked up a few dozen roses from Costco [$19.99 per bouquet], as well as the baby’s breath and greenery, all for a very reasonable price.

I’m not a florist, and after making these arrangements, I have a newfound respect for florists.



  • Wet Floral Foam
  • Kitchen Appliances [I used a small colander, pot, food processor, blender and bunt pan]
  • Assorted Flowers [light pink, fuchsia and white roses; white and pink carnations]
  • Heavy-duty Scissors, for cutting the stems



First figure out how much floral foam you will need for each appliance/kitchen tool and cut the floral foam to fit

Next, soak the floral foam in lukewarm water. To do this, fill a large bucket with water, carefully place the foam on top. As the foam absorbs the water, it will begin sinking. DO NOT push the foam all the way down, allow it to slowly sink on it’s own. Once the foam is fully emerged in water, it’s ready to use.

Arrange your flowers to your liking. Don’t be afraid to mix together colors and types of flowers.

When you’re ready to assemble your centerpiece, choose your appliance/tool and place the floral foam inside.

Cut the stems off the flower arrangement to fit the height of your centerpiece.

Carefully place the arrangement in the foam. Make sure all your stems have poked through the foam – if not, they will begin wilting.

Repeat for the remaining appliances/tools.


Cupcake Dress Cake

DIY Cupcake Dress

It’s all about presentation, presentation and shortcuts. For the dress-cake, I used boxed cake and canned frosting [I just didn’t have enough time to make cupcakes from scratch].



  • 2 Boxes Strawberry Cake Mix
  • 4 14 oz Cans White Fluffy Frosting
  • Piping Bag
  • Cupcake Liners
  • Flowers [for the belt]
  • Boxed Cupcake mix and canned frosting
  • 1 inch open star Frosting Tip
  • 1 plastic table cover in the color of your choice
  • 1 Large Cardboard Poster Board [$1 at the dollar store]


Bake the cake mix as directed in the cupcake liners

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting

In the meantime, wrap your poster board with the table cover to create a sleek base

Arrange your cupcakes on the wrapped board in the shape of a dress. I used about 61 cupcakes to fill the entire board

Assemble your piping bag and frosting tip and fill the piping bag by spooning in frosting

Carefully frost the cupcakes by creating a flower-like design

To do this, simply start in the middle and work your way out by making a large swirl

Once you’ve frosted the cupcakes, cut the ends off 4 roses and place them in between the narrowest part of your dress, creating a belt


Donut Rings


Donut Rings

The easiest, and cutest addition to the dessert table was the donut “rings.” Make sure when you’ve assembled the rings, you place them on a display allowing the full shape of the rings to show.

For the diamond template and instructions visit Evite.


Photo Backdrop

DIY Photo Booth

No party of complete without a photo backdrop. For Fiza’s bridal shower, I used our core colors: pink, fuchsia, white and a touch of teal.


  • Streamers in white, teal, pink and fuchsia
  • Packing Tape
  • Scissors
  • Props



I suggest you find a space on the floor where no one will bother you

Cut a long strip of packing tape and place on the ground, sticky-side up. You’ll use this to hold down the individual pieces of steamer

Decide, before you stick, how you want to alternate the colors. I did fuchsia, baby pink, white and a hint of teal.

Cut each streamer to the length desired and stick them to the tape. Continue alternating colors until you’ve reached the end of your packing tape strip.

Add another long piece of packing tape, this time sticky-side down on top of the first layer and the row of streamers. This way, you’ve made it easier to move the backdrop to your desired location and also easier to tape up to the wall.

Once you’ve taped the backdrop to the wall, put all your props on a table for easy access during the party.


Salad Bar

DIY Salad Bar

This was one of my favorites to pull together. The most time-consuming part of the salad bar was filling the jars and arranging them on the table.



  • 4 2 Quart Mason Jars
  • 2 1 Quart Mason Jars
  • 12 ½ Quart Mason Jars
  • 1 6-cup Muffin Tray
  • Salad Ingredients, I used:
    • Mixed Greens
    • Baby Spinach
    • Grilled Chicken Slices
    • Shrimp
    • Marinated Artichoke
    • Pitted Olives
    • Shredded Carrots
    • Corn Kernels
    • Sliced Cherry Tomatoes
    • Feta Cheese
    • Sliced Cucumbers
    • Sliced Red and Yellow Peppers
    • Chopped Red Onions
    • Chopped beets
    • Chopped Mushrooms
    • Chick Peas
  • Add-ons, I used:
    • Craisins
    • La Choy
    • Sliced Salted Almonds
    • Sunflower Seeds
    • Chopped Turkey Bacon
    • Sprouts



Make sure to run the jars through the dishwasher before use, especially if you’re using them for the first time

Fill the large 2-quart jars with mixed greens and baby spinach

Fill the 1 quart jars with the meats; chicken and shrimp

Fill the ½ quart jars with the other salad ingredients

The add-ons go into the 6-cup muffin pan

Be sure to include tongs for the greens and spoons for the other veggies





To tie in the whole baking theme, we gave out mason jars with cookie mix in it and labeled them with chalkboard stickers that read: “Love is sweet”


  • 12 ½ Quart Mason jars
  • 2 boxes Chocolate Cake Mix
  • White, milk and dark chocolate
  • Chalkboard stickers
  • Chalk



Fill each mason jar in the following order:

¾ cup Cake Mix

¼ Cup Dark chocolate Chips

¼ cup White Chocolate Chips

¼ cup Milk Chocolate Chips


Place the chalkboard sticker on the front of the jar

Using chalk, write “Love is Sweet” on the sticker

Be sure to include instructions for baking:

Pour contents of the jar into a medium bowl

Add 1 egg and 1/4 cup oil

Mix together until the batter thickens

Refrigerate for 45 minutes

Drop spoonfuls of the the batter onto an ungreased baking sheet

Bake for 8-9 minutes at 350 degrees


We had some other baking-inspired elements, including marriage advice on wooden spoons, a display apron that was gifted to the bride, and a banner above the dessert table that read “Love is Sweet.”


Dessert Table

Cream Puff Cake

Cream Puff cake

Every occasion is an excuse to craft. At least, that’s my philosophy.

My mom’s birthday at the end of June marks the last of our June festivities. But that’s not to say we don’t go all out! The minimum in our household is a family birthday celebration that includes singing happy birthday and a birthday cake. As the siblings have gotten older, that’s the least we can dedicate to our parents – you know, those people who brought us into this world and spent years raising us. They deserve to tell us our birth story and fawn over us for a couple hours.

My mom, she’s the glue that holds our family together. She does so much for us, and really doesn’t expect anything in return. This year, it was just me here to hold down the fort and make sure she got the special birthday celebration she deserved.

Birthday cakes are so cliché, and cupcakes are a bit overdone. Well, to be honest, I’m not the best cake or cupcake decorator. So in an attempt to think outside the proverbial box, I came up with a cream puff cake. I was really excited about the idea because instead of being forced to eat a slice of cake, you could just take a couple cream puffs and call it a day. Despite some minor setbacks during the execution of this cream puff cake, I made it work.

Happy Birthday, Mom!


  • 1 Hershey’s Bar
  • 1 small tube Decorating Gel
  • 2 boxes Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 containers 30 count Frozen Cream Puffs
  • Cake Box
  • 1 14-inch Cake Base
  • Piping bag
  • Wide-nose flower metal piping end


Before you can start assembling your cream puff cake, you’ll need to mix together your cream and refrigerate until it thickens. To do this, mix together the vanilla pudding mix, 1 cup of milk and 2 cups of heavy whipping cream in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until it becomes a thick, smooth consistency. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.


Cream Ingredients


Next, you’ll need to prepare your writing slab. I took the easy way our and just used a Hershey’s bar instead of melting my own chocolate. We’ll chalk that up to running out of time and still trying to figure out how to melt white chocolate.

This part is easy. Just write your message using the decorating gel on the smooth side of the chocolate bar. Refrigerate until your ready to use it.

Hershey bar and gel Message Slab


Now it’s time to assemble your cream puff cake.

What I did first, was place all my cream puffs where I wanted them on the cake base. That way, I had a visual for placement. Once I knew where I wanted eat one to go, I used a small spoon to add some cream to the bottom of each cream puff, that way it won’t slide off the cake base.

Placement Puffs

Setting cream

Now that the first layer of cream puffs is set, fill your piping bag with the remaining cream and using a wide-nosed nozzle, fill the spaces in between the cream puffs.



You’ll notice that it still looks a bit bare. Start adding a second layer of cream puffs on top of the filling, then go back over the holes with your piping bag.

cream puff cake sans slab


Top the cream puff cake off with the Hershey bar and carefully place in the cake box for transport. Keep Refrigerated.

Cream Puff Cake in Box

Letter Shaped Father’s Day Cake



June at the Fayyad household is a month of celebrations! Both my parents celebrate their birthdays, it’s my parent’s wedding anniversary mid-month and of course, Father’s Day.

My inner party planner gets really excited about all these occasions and yes, I start planning at least a month in advance. I get an unexplainable amount of joy pulling together parties and making crafts for other people. Namely, the people I love. Just give me the opportunity, and I’ll be there with my craft box!

This year, we’ve been having our celebrations at home. For Father’s Day, I opted to make my own cake. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, as custom cakes aren’t really my specialty. I decided instead of just a plain round or square cake, I would spell something out. That’s also because, for the life of me, I cannot frost a cake properly. “Baba” or بابا means dad in Arabic. I’ve always referred to my dad as Baba. It isn’t until I got a bit older that I started calling him Dad.

I know that everyone thinks their dad is special — and every dad is special. My dad is my first love, he’s my rock; he has supported me through the good times and those not so easy times in life. He’s a visionary, always worrying about the future and securing our futures for us so that we can stand independently. My dad is my greatest teacher. He spent many afternoons teaching me Arabic, many nights reading me stories, and many mornings having long discussions. Our discussions range from anything and everything about politics to the latest Arabic music. While I know I don’t express this enough, I love my dad with all my heart. And what better way to show all my love and appreciation than with a craft.

3 Boxes Yellow Cake Mix (or whatever flavor you want) Just to make this easy, I used boxed cake instead of a cake from scratch
1 large sheet pan
1 13×17 baking pan
A Sharp Knife
Frosting/powdered sugar
Serving Platter
Construction Paper

First thing’s first, bake your cake. Using the directions on the box, bake all the pieces of the cake. I used two cake mix boxes for the sheet cake and one box for the 13×17″ pan.

Cake Batter

Allow the cakes to cool for a couple hours before cutting. If you notice the cakes cracking, place a piece of sliced bread on top to retain the moisture.

Create a stencil out of construction paper or cardboard with the dimensions of your letters. Basically I used a ruler to make one ‘B’ and one ‘A.’ Measure 1 1/2″ for the rectangular portion of the ‘B’ and the two sides of the ‘A.’ Using a small bowl, I then stenciled the round part of the ‘B’ and the top part of the ‘A,’ then cut each of the letters out. It’s much easier to tape the ‘A’ together so you only have one piece of cake to cut out.


Letter Stencils

Once the cake has cooled, begin cutting the cakes into the shapes you need. Place your stencil on top of the cakes and using a sharp knife cut around your stencil. When you need to remove the insides of the circles of the ‘B’ and the top portion of the ‘A’ use a small spoon to scoop the cake out. Transport your letters individually onto a platter, or a piece of large cardboard.
Cutting Cake

Cutting Cake_2

Cut cakes

Carefully frost with your favorite frosting [Vanilla works great with yellow cake], or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

BABA Final


B shape Close Up

A Shape Close up

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