Friday, June 28, 2013

10 Ideas for a Festive Fourth of July

Not All of Them Have to do With Fireworks!

1. Stay home. What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than by staying home and celebrating true independence and the right to do as you wish? Polls and studies consistently show that Americans are overworked, laboring at the office more than people in other countries and more than we should. We suggest you take the day to relax and truly enjoy life with your loved ones.

Good Housekeeping

2. Whip up some Fourth of July recipes. You could always go with traditional food fare like hot dogs and hamburgers with a side of potato salad. You could also throw in a colorful concoction like this flag cake from the Food Network or check out their top Fourth of July recipes here. (Or get take-out if cooking stresses you out and you prefer to stick solely with idea No. 1.)  Don't forget to order your cupcakes or cake from Ontario Bakery.

3. Go to a baseball game. What could be more American than going to a good old fashioned baseball game. This is one of the most traditional American activities. You may be lucky enough to have one nearby that also includes post-game fireworks.

4. Take the time to infuse your home with some red-white-and-blue decor. It can be as simple as going over to your nearest dollar store for a few choice wares, Target or discount stores for more upscale decor, or the crafts store for some supplies to craft your own. There are many places online where you can search for DIY inspiration, including Pinterest and blogs. We found some easy ideas on Good Housekeeping, featured some simple projects, some which could likely be done with items you already have on hand.

5. Throw your own Fourth of July bash. Plan ahead and host a traditional Fourth of July barbecue for your family, friends and neighbors. It is almost a requirement that you do this if you are fortunate enough to have front-row seats to your local fireworks show.

6. Head for the beach. Sure, the beaches are packed on this holiday, but the beaches are always packed when the weather is good, as it often is in Southern California.

7. Hit the road or hop on a plane. Whether you decide to stay within driving distance or to hop on a plane, keep in mind that Fourth of July is traditionally the busiest travel day in the summer and plan accordingly. (Thanksgiving is the busiest overall).

8. Check out your local parade. You can find more bells and whistles at parades hosted by larger cities, but the smaller, local parade is a great way to show your support for the local community groups and businesses who usually stage the annual parade in your local community.

9. Avoid traffic jams by staying home and watching one of several TV show marathons that are usually offered on this holiday. Past Fourth of July marathons have included shows such as Twilight Zone, Gidget, Storage Wars, Star Trek - The Next Generation and America’s Funniest Home Videos.

10. Fireworks. What would Fourth of July be without fireworks? After you’ve done all or some of the above, the best way to ponder the many freedoms we have thanks to the Declaration of Independence is by enjoying a good fireworks show.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Make Your Luau An Event To Remember

A Luau Party is Perfect for Summer

Looking for an easy summer party to throw?

Yes, you say, but you want it to be memorable. You want your guests to anticipate your summer party with excitement.

Try a luau.

When it’s summer, easy entertaining is the name of the game, but that’s no reason why every summer gathering has to be a hum-drum, spur-of-the-moment barbecue. Those are always welcome, of course, but a luau can elevate your BBQ into a party that your guests will remember long after the warm season turns chilly.

First, the Menu

With a few easy decorations, a simple menu (yes, it can be done!) and a great plan, you can throw one of your best summer parties ever with the luau as your theme.

First, we recommend you decide on a menu to guide you as you shop for partyware. You may know that the centerpiece at a traditional luau is a roasted pig, but you obviously don’t need to go to such extremes for your party.

We suggest you take an easier route and opt for a luau-style buffet, perhaps with roasted pork or other ham-based dish. A super-easy side dish to prepare is skewers with cubes of ham and fruit glazed with marmalade. Or slices of fresh pineapple also infuses your celebration with Hawaiian style flavor. Consider offering a dish incorporating macadamia nuts, even if it’s macadamia nut cookies. And don't forget your vegetarian friends when planning the menu.

Colorful Decor

As for drinks, you can have fun with the many different choices for Hawaiian-style luau drinks. You can do a search on the Internet for something that appeals to you. For a dose of fun, you could dress up each drink with tiny paper parasols.

Think about how you may want to dress up your buffet. Remember that a luau is usually a colorful affair.

Easy Shopping

The same goes for other decorations. You may find that a stop at one or two of your local dollar stores is likely to produce a bounty of decorating options, especially if you are shopping in the summertime when many stores feature luau party supplies. Simple is best when it comes to decorations so no need to load up on too many items. A few choice items, such as leis for every guest, will go a long way toward infusing your party with a festive touch.

You could also go the DIY route and make a couple of things, such as hibiscus tissue flowers to continue your theme.

Whatever choices you make for your luau, remember that the best part about an authentic Hawaiian luau is experiencing the warm hospitality and easygoing attitude of the people who live there. Just make sure you infuse these qualities into your party and your guests will be sure to enjoy themselves just as if they were at a real luau.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Planning the Fourth Birthday Party

Involve Your Child in Planning Fourth Birthday Celebrations

By the time most kids celebrate their fourth birthday, they usually know just what they like. Kids this age tend to have a well-developed sense of self that translates into very specific likes and dislikes.

This means that planning a birthday celebration for your soon-to-be four-year-old should involve your little gal or guy. We’re not suggesting you let him or her direct the show, but you should ask your child what he or she would like on the big day.

You could ask about everything from who they think you should invite to what kind of cake they would like. Of course, you should still be the one making any final decisions, but having your child’s input will help guide you during the planning process.

A fourth birthday party isn’t much different from a party for a three-year-old, but there are some minor differences. Here are some ideas for the main components of your party.

Theme: A good party usually has a theme unifying all the different elements of the party. For a theme, your child may want to choose a favorite TV show character, movie, book or toy. This can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of the party but don’t let it stress you out. Use Pinterest to gather ideas and gain inspiration.

Games and activities: Kids this age are well on their way toward mastering fine motor skills like writing and they are beginning to learn to read so the games can require a little more skill. Kids this age usually enjoy crafting so you can include a simple activity where they produce something that they can take home as a memento

Food: Kids this age are very physically active so you need to keep the food as easy and manageable as possible. Small sandwiches and healthy finger food like grapes or apple slices are great options for little kids on the go.

Entertainment: Many parents feel compelled to hire an entertainer but kids this age have just as much fun at their party with or without an entertainer. Frankly, this age set is more preoccupied with their friends, birthday cake and presents than anything else.

We at Ontario Bakery are happy to make suggestions for a birthday cake or to look at any photo clippings of cakes to help you choose something. You could consider having your child help you choose a cake because it can be a great way to build momentum for their Big Day.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Good Cake is the Result of Good Communication

"Cat" Cake Becomes Famous on Social Media

A cake making the rounds on social media this week is memorable for the wrong reason: what the bakery got wrong.

It turns out that a woman who ordered a graduation cake for her daughter requested a “cap” drawing on her daughter’s photo cake, not a “cat.” You can see result of the miscommunication here.

One would think the bakery would have double-checked the “cat” request with the woman ordering the cake since it was clearly an odd choice, but maybe it was a busy day.

Mistakes Can Happen

Obviously, mistakes can and do happen at bakeries for a variety of reasons. Thankfully, the woman in this case took it in stride, happily toting her cat cake home because she thought it so amusing. She wasn't the only one who thought so. The photo was shared by a few thousand people across various social media platforms, with Mashable even going so far as to call it "the greatest graduation cake ever."

Many, but not all mistakes are this amusing. We’ve previously written here about Cake Wrecks, a blog which features cakes gone wrong. The blog features everything from oddly decorated cakes to misspellings on the cake.

Go Over Details

Good communication is essential to ensure that your cake comes out just as you envision. It goes without saying that you should spell out any names and carefully go over any details with the bakery person taking your order.

Remember, you want the latest cake you’ve ordered to make the Facebook rounds for its good looks and great taste. We at Ontario Bakery can help make that happen. Check out one of our recent graduation cakes, shown at the top of this post.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Flag Day, a Chance to Show Pride

Displaying the Flag Requires Following the Law

We certainly agree that Dads are important, but there’s a holiday that got overlooked this weekend amidst all the Father’s Day celebrations.

That’s right, we’re talking about Flag Day. June 15 is the day the United States has set aside each year for every American to honor the Stars and Stripes.

We think it’s not too late to fly the flag. Since Fourth of July is more than two weeks away, there is still plenty of time to display and enjoy the flag. There are plenty of places where you can pick up a flag or several, from your nearest supermarket or drugstore to the hardware shop.

U.S. Law on Displaying Flag

Here are some guidelines on displaying the U.S. flag:

You can display a flag flat against a wall, as long as you hang it right side up, with the stars at the top left.

If you want to mount it on a wall, this can be easily done by screwing a metal bracket into the side of your house. Just make sure you install it where you can easily reach it because you will need to take the flag inside when it gets dark or during bad weather. U.S. regulations state that a flag should only be displayed from sunrise to sunset. For the purposes of patriotic display, you can leave the flag outside overnight only if it’s illuminated.

The flag should never touch anything beneath it. It should never be displayed in such a fashion that would cause it to be easily soiled, damaged or torn.

If you plan on displaying the flag with other flags or have any other questions as to the proper guidelines, you may consult current law here.

Photo credit: Dru Bloomfield

Friday, June 14, 2013

Why is the average wedding cost more than some people's salary?

Most People Are Spending Less Than Average

Keeping up with the Joneses can be a hard act to follow when you’re planning a wedding. Just look at how much an average wedding costs. Around $27,000, depending on which media outlet you’re consulting.

The reality of how much each couple is spending is far less than that. According to an article on Slate, most people are spending less than the $27,000 that is supposed to be the average.

Who's Spending $27,000?

How is this so? We’ll get to that in minute, but first another question: Did you ever wonder why that figure is so high?

Well, the writer of the Slate article who was planning his own wedding was so curious about this figure that he investigated how that number got so high. His findings are illuminating. It turns out we’ve all been focusing on the wrong figure.

The Median vs. the Average

Instead of focusing on the average cost of a wedding, we should be asking about the median cost of a wedding. The average cost is the total combined spending by all survey respondents divided by the number of respondents. That means that the average figure could go much higher than what most people paid for their wedding if just one person spent a considerable amount of money.

Meanwhile, the median cost of a wedding tells us what the couple right in the middle is spending. The one where half of the respondents are spending less and the other half are spending more.

Median Cost Far Less

Take a look at these figures: The average wedding cost in 2012 was $27,427, while the median was $18,086. The average wedding cost in 2011 was $27,021, while the median was $16,886.

Quite a difference, huh?

We know that many wedding couples, especially the brides, feel a pressure to have their weddings exude that elegant, once-in-a-lifetime feeling. It can be hard to question the exorbitant rates charged by pricey venues and caterers, many who point out the average cost of a wedding by way of explanation.

Moving Away From Pricey Weddings

Thankfully, the trend toward DIY and less traditional weddings has given brides more freedom. Still, it can be hard to turn down all the pricey offerings when we do consider that a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Just remember that your wedding can be a memorable event without having to break the piggy bank -- or worse, go into debt for several years into the marriage -- to pay for it.

Remember, we at Ontario Bakery are dedicated to providing you a tasty cake for your wedding at a price you can afford.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Great Outdoor Summer Activities For Kids

Let The Kids Get a Little Dirty

Gooey, messy fun is the best kind of fun to have with kids in the summer. One of our latest masterpieces to come out of Ontario Bakery has inspired us to come up with a list of great outdoor activities for kids this summer.

Go pick blueberries at a blueberry farm in Temecula or at a strawberry farm in Irvine. You and your kids will gain newfound appreciation for the produce section. Imagine how much fun you can have baking with the fruits of your own labor or simply eating them after a good washing.

Buy some water balloons and load up on water squirters, then invite a few small friends over for an impromptu water balloon fight. Yes, it will take longer to fill up all those tiny balloons with water than it will to throw them around but you can always prolong the fun by playing a few versions of “pass the hot potato” before you lob your first balloon at someone else.

For the younger set (approximately ages 3-6), gather up a few small plastic cups or bowls for outdoor mud “baking.” This age is perfect for pretend play and kiddos this age will enjoy concocting mud creations, with twigs, small flowers and leaves as decorations. Then, you can go back inside and enjoy a cupcake from Ontario Bakery.

Finger painting is never as much fun as when it’s done outdoors. With fears of kids getting paint on the sofa non-existent, you and your kids will feel free to create Picasso-like art to your heart’s content. You can just give kids several sheets of white paper and let them create whatever they feel like. Or you can tape large pieces of butcher block paper on the fence and then let kids splatter paint on it a la Jackson Pollock style. Who knows? Maybe one of the kids will discover their inner Andy Warhol or Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Join an outdoor summer camp for kids to explore nature. You can ask at your local parks and rec, or check out the offerings at the Mary Vagle Museum and Nature Center.

Host a backyard movie night for just your family or your kids’ friends. You can use a white sheet as a screen or find an old-fashioned stand-up screen in the classifieds or at a thrift store. Make sure to pop some popcorn and have kids bring their sleeping bags for a comfy place to sit.

Organize a nature scavenger hunt at your local park or head to a beach. You could do a color-coded nature search by having kids search for items that are certain colors.

One of the best parts of summer undoubtedly is being able to spend so much time outdoors. With these ideas, your summer is bound to be fun and memorable.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Online Magazine Publishes First Wedding Issue

Each Issue of Rue Gets 10 million Hits

When you’re planning a wedding, it seems that you can never have enough magazines and blogs to inspire you.

Online interior design magazine Rue is banking on this. The online publication, which gets an estimated 10 million hits per issue, launched their first edition devoted mainly to weddings and entertaining just last week.

Why now?

Perhaps it has to do with the fact that wedding season is upon us.

Or it could have to do with the upcoming nuptials of Rue founder/editor-in-chief Crystal Gentilello, who notes in her editor’s note that her wedding is less than two weeks away. She shares some tips she’s learned along the way in the form of a feature on her bridal shower and her suggestions for wedding day essentials.

Wedding Features

Other editors offer their picks for newlywed essentials, honeymoon essentials, and even relaxation requirements. The issue also features ideas and interviews with event stylists and other entertainment professionals, including event designer Preston Bailey and a stylist who works out of a mobile office she created in an Airstream trailer.

To be sure, the edition is well-timed since so many weddings usually take place in the spring months. Whether design fanatics are ready for Rue to expand in areas beyond interiors on a regular basis remains to be seen, but other successful online-only publications have found success catering to niche audiences with well-designed publications offering beautiful photography and quirky features with tons of personality.

Registry Suggestions

The wedding/entertainment issue of Rue does contain some of the usual interior design pages, including a few house tours. But there are plenty of wedding offerings in the issue, such as a 16-page spread on a tropical theme wedding and five different spreads of registry suggestions, for couples who identify as “European Sophisticate,” “Industrial Modern,” “Whimsical,” or “Preppy.”

Stumped as to what category you may be? Head on over for descriptions of each.

Remember, if you see a cake you like in any wedding magazine, you can bring a picture to Ontario Bakery and we can tell you whether we recommend copying it or customizing a similar cake for your wedding.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Important Components of a Three-Year-Old's Birthday Party

Well-planned party = happy kid 

Congratulations are in order if you’re planning your child’s third birthday party. Kids this age are usually more independent and able to participate in traditional party activities.

A well-planned party is the key to keeping the birthday kid happy - and out of trouble. Typically, a party of no more than 90 minutes is ideal for keeping kids this age entertained without any tantrums. Many kids will have outgrown tantrums by this age, but they are still learning how to be social.

Some ideas for important components of a three-year-old birthday party:

Theme: Most kids have favorite book or TV show characters that would make a great jumping-off point for a party theme. Among some favorites for kids in this age range: Dora the Explorer, Thomas the Train, Elmo and other Sesame Street characters, Bob the Builder, the Backyardigans, Yo Gabba Gabba. If you prefer a party that isn’t based on a character, you can build a whole theme out of a favorite color, hobby or activity. For example, perhaps the birthday kid loves going to the zoo. You could build your party around a zoo theme, complete with little zoo animals and jungle decor.

Decorations: Balloons and streamers still go a long way for kids this age and add a colorful touch to your party. Use your theme to build mini-scenes around the party area. Be prepared for kids to want to touch and maybe even play with some of these.

Games: Musical chairs, pin the tail (or a different variation of this game), Simon Says and mini scavenger hunts are good games for kids this age. You can also create your own game based on your theme. For example, a Dora party could feature three different game challenges

Entertainment: Hiring entertainers for kids this age is not really necessary since kids most enjoy playing with other kids during parties, but you could consider having a face painter or a puppet show. A small bounce house is also a great way for kids to burn up some energy before sitting down for the opening of gifts.

Food: Simple finger food is best as kids this age still have difficulty wanting to sit still long enough for a meal. Half sandwiches or wraps with vegetable and fruit kebabs are healthy choices for a small meal. Consider serving the cake outdoors if you can for minimal worries about accidental spills.

Treat bags: You can usually find inexpensive toys, crafts items and small books at the dollar section of your local Target or dollar store. You’ll often be fortunate to find items that tie in well with your theme, but it’s best to try shopping for these as far in advance as possible for best selection and pricing.

Cake: This plays center stage in a three-year-old’s birthday party. Your little one is bound to remember this cake for a long time. At Ontario Bakery, we’ve got plenty of options.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

10 Ways to Make Dad Feel Special on Father's Day

Let Ontario Bakery Create a Cake for Dad

If you are still debating whether a tie or a mug will fit the bill this Father’s Day, think about it no more. Unless the dad in your life has specifically asked for a tie or a mug, he would probably prefer something else.

Perhaps tickets to Indy 500. A round of golf at a luxurious golf club. Or tickets to an Angels baseball game.

Whatever you choose, make sure you choose something that shows your dad how much you care about him. You probably already know it doesn’t matter how much you spend on him, but your thoughtfulness will go a long way towards making dad feel special on Father’s Day.

Here are 10 ideas for celebrating Father’s Day, many of them free or low-cost:

  1. Whip up a breakfast with all the works. What better way to make dad feel special than by making him a three-course (or five-course!) breakfast. Most people tend to eat this meal on the run most workdays so a Father’s Day breakfast with all of dad’s favorite breakfast foods is sure to make an impression.
  2. Take him out to the ballgame. Why not turn the tables around and take him out. Watching a baseball game together is a great way to spend an afternoon.
  3. Go fishing with dad. A leisurely Sunday afternoon hanging out with dad at the local lake, river or beach may be just what your dad needs.
  4. Gift cards are still a popular gift option but you can personalize your gift by making something for your dad. It could be something as simple as framing a favorite picture of the two of you (or dad with all the kids), or something more involved if you are the crafty type. A good place to go for ideas is Pinterest, which can lead you to DIY instructions.
  5. Take dad out for dinner at his favorite restaurant. This still ranks as an all-time favorite, perhaps because it’s an easy option and many dads look forward to this tradition.
  6. Host a BBQ party for dad. Unless dad enjoys being the grill master, you could take on grilling duties for a BBQ that he can really enjoy. Make sure you order a cake from Ontario Bakery to add the perfect touch. Whether it’s a family celebration or a bigger party with friends and others, Ontario Bakery can create a cake customized especially for your dad. 
  7. Take dad to concert of his favorite band or singer. 
  8. Offer to take on one of his most dreaded “dad” chores for a day, such as weeding or cleaning out the garage. He just may love your offer to lighten the load.  
  9. Treat dad to a day of culture. If your dad is the artsy type, you could take your dad out for a day of museum-hopping or to a cultural event. Check the listings in your local or regional paper for event listings.
  10. Give dad the day off. Many dads prefer to spend Father’s Day with their kids and family but some dads (especially newer dads) may enjoy taking a breather to recharge the batteries.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Think Big With an 80s Theme Party

Take a fun trip down memory lane

Remember big hair and big shoulder pads that were so popular in the 80s? You might want to think about bringing them back, if only for a night of partying.

Many people enjoy dressing up and parodying (or secretly enjoying) a different era in  honor of someone’s birthday. We’ve been receiving terrific feedback from recent cakes we’ve done featuring popular items from the 80s, like the Rubik’s Cube and Pac-Man video game, so we thought we’d give you a few ideas to throw your own 80s theme party.

Fads of the 80s

Planning this kind of party can provide hours of fun as you take a trip down memory lane, recalling and researching the fads of the 80s. Here are ten we came up with:

  • Neon
  • Spandex
  • Madonna (fingerless gloves)
  • Walkmans
  • Cabbage Patch kids
  • Rubik’s Cube
  • Preppie fashion (Izod shirts)
  • Big shoulder pads and big hair
  • Members-only jackets
  • Miami Vice fashion

As you plan your party, think about how you can set the ambiance for the party with items from the 80s. Perhaps you still have some of these squirreled away somewhere in your closet or garage. If not, you could hit up a few of your local thrift stores to come up with some fun items to help you recreate the 80s in your home.

While you’re shopping in your own closet or in a store, look for clothes to wear. Although some 80s fashion trends like neon have made a comeback, you may want to bring back an entire outfit for full impact. Instead of just wearing neon, wear neon leg warmers with an off-shoulder shirt “Flashdance” style.

80s Party ambiance

It goes without saying that music will play a big part in setting the stage. Thankfully, there is plenty of 80s music to choose from to fit all different tastes. There are CDs with compilations of the best or most popular 80s songs, or you could search for your favorites in the iTunes store to download and create your own playlist.

With all these elements, you could keep the decor simple and let one of our cakes serve as your centerpiece. You could choose from any of the cakes pictured in this post, or we can brainstorm ideas together for a customized cake to personalize your event.

You could end the evening by providing each guest with a simple party favor: a tiny Rubik’s cube keychain.