Birthday cakes – The great Nordic bakeoff ? How to make a themed birthday cake for boys and girls

Birthday cakes – The great Nordic bakeoff ? How to make a themed birthday cake for boys and girls

Lets face it, when you have three kids, with three birthdays each year, you’re having a birthday party on a pretty regular basis and your kitchen looks like zone at the great bakeoff… I’m more than happy to give my kids a great party and I especially love baking a special birthday cake for them. And I’ve made a few in various themes such as Lightning McQueen cake from Cars, Harry Potter cake, Plants vs Zombies cake, Lego bricks cake, Minecraft cake, Hello Kitty cake, Turtles cake and a Dragons cake. I’ve added them here for cake inspiration Mostly I use fondant, butter frosting and candy for decoration. Sometimes I’ve made fondant flowers. Fondant is easy to make, this is the Fondant recipe I use:

Fondant for the birthday cakes

1 bag white Haribo marshmallows. Haribo is the brand I use but other brands may work
1 pack powdered sugar / or as much as you think you need (I always finish the pack…)
1 tbsp water
Also use:
Coconut oil for avoiding stickiness. It doesn’t add color or flavor like other oils do.
Food coloring of your choice, I try to use natural & kids safe food colors.

Place coconut oil on your hands and the tools you are using, such as a glass bowl, spatula and boards.
Place some amount of marshmallows in a glass bowl – (approx 10-12 would cover a regular size cake), add a tablespoon of water and microwave for 15-20 seconds. The marshmallows should melt right away. Stir in some powdered sugar and add food coloring while the marshmallows are still a bit moist. Add powdered sugar – knead and stretch it till it’s firm and doesn’t “leak” while you hold it. Store it in the fridge, wrapped tightly in plastic film.
Repeat for a new color.

Lightning McQueen cake:

The Lightning McQueen cake was made for my son’s fourth birtday. He was a huge Cars fan and wanted a Cars cake. We used his toy car for reference and made two large basic chocolate cakes, chocolate butter frosting (butter, powdered sugar, cacao, vanilla powder and a little bit of water), formed in the same proportions as the car.. The decorations were only made of fondant except for the wheels were oreo crackers (in halves, with the spread) and smarties for the eyes.

Harry Potter cake

The Harry Potter cake had a white fondant over a double chocolate cake covered with chocolate frosting. The base was supposed to be an open book but it needed to be formed a little better 馃檲. It might also be nice to use a vanilla cake for this one. The deco was made with chocolate and fondant. The owl was formed with a fondant, so was the scarf but the wand was formed with cake crumbs and frosting, mixed together, got a coarse “wooden” effect.

Plants vs Zombies cake

Plants vs Zombies cake

The Plants vs Zombies cake was a regular chocolate cake layered with chocolate frosting – the background was made with green frosting in two colors (for green frosting just skip the cocoa, add a little more vanilla powder and food dye). the plant was made with fondant and candy was used for decoration.

Pokemon cake


No fondant was used for this Pokemon cake, only frosting, melted chocolate and candy.

Minecraft cake

The Minecraft cake was fairly easy. Two large chocolate cakes, one of them being cut in a square form and placed on top of the other halves. A little bit of fondant was used only for the “stones”, green frosting was placed in a grass-like form and some paper deco added for more fun 馃檪

Turtles cake

This Turtles cake was a request from my 6 year old son – he found a picture online that we decided to replicate in a cake and he absolutely loved it. The mask, eyes and teeth were made with fondant but the other parts were made with frosting and candy – smarties and liquorice.

Lego cake

The Lego cake looks simple but was a bit tricky. It’s a simple chocolate base, covered in frosting. The Lego buttons were made with Rolo candy and fondant placed over it. The fondant had to be quite thick and flexible so it would not tear around the Rolo buttons. Tips: If the fondant looks matte from the powdered sugar, you can brush it with water and it will become shinier.

How to train your Dragon – cake

The Dragons cake is (again) a simple chocolate cake with frosting, decorated with liquorice, Cadbury’s eggs and chocolate raisins (being the dragon poo..). A little bit of fondant was used to make a nest, squeezed through a garlic press. And of course Toothless played a special role on top of the cake.

Hello Kitty cake

I made the Hello Kitty birthday cake for my daughter’s second birthday. The toppings were frosting in different patterns and decorated with sugar pearls and icelandic candy called M枚ndlur (red spheres)

How you’ve enjoyed these and perhaps found some inspiration for your kids cakes 馃檪

As we grow – a true classic

As we grow – a true classic

As I am expecting our third we know too well how clothes travel from one family member to another as the kids grow up. I’ve sent clothes to my nephews that my boys have grown out and received some too, which both saves money and the hassle of going shopping (note, I don’t mind shopping I just live in a town with a very scarce range of clothes) of and I have beautiful items that were worn by me some 30+ years ago that I intend to use for my daughter when that time comes. That’s why I try to choose clothing that has durability and quality fabrics but the thing is nowadays, the majority of clothes is so mass made and lacks both material quality and is harmful to the environment.

That’s why I love the ‘As we grow‘ line of clothes for kids, not only do they focus on durability and quality fabrics but also on that classic look that really never goes out of style. Their whole philosophy evolves around a sweater that went from one family member to another for nine years, maintaining its figure and strength the whole time. Their color palette is so inspiring and their use of wool as well. This is something that I will definitely choose for my daughter – hey, I could even see myself in an adult sized dress like that 馃檪


Ps. This is not a sponsored post. I just love it to bits.

Go see As we grow.

Too cute

The project of the year

The project of the year

One of the most exciting projects we did at work last year was to illustrate a children’s book by a popular TV star, rock star and a friend of ours “Villi J贸ns”. He decided to write a book for kids about science, all kinds of science and “scientific experiments”. Villi’s Science Book would be the translation of the title; “V铆sindab贸k Villa”.


He contacted us, sent us the text he had written, which wasn’t very long for each spread so we had room for a lot of illustration. We thought of ways to illustrate it, making it appeal both to kids and their parents, so both of them would be interested in looking into things together and see how the world works.

Villi’s approach was to create curiosity in the kids minds, so they would start to ask questions and find ways to understand the world. He said that if the kids would get smart when they grow up then he’d have a better nursing home when he gets old, and maybe he’d get extra prunes or something.
Each spread would have a different topic, so the first spread was about dinosaurs, second about the solar system, the third about sound.. and so on… I illustrated the experiment spreads and a couple of the other and my colleague Gudrun at our design office Blek did the rest, as well as all the extra pages (index and such).


“Thunder and lightning” explained, using one of the most fameous landmarks in Reykjavik in a dramatic scene. Illustrated and layouted by me.


How to make a simple compass, using a needle, glass of water, cork and a magnet. Illustrated and layouted by yours truly

The project started in March and ended in June when the whole 96 page book, fully illustrated, layouted and prepared for print by us, was sent to print in Slovenia. The largest (almost dominating) book publishing company in Iceland decided to publish the book. Only 5000 copies were ordered in the first round, (seeing that the bestseller in children’s books is about 6000 copies). Note that there are only 30.000 kids of the age 6-12, which was our ‘target group’, who speak this language. The whole population of Iceland is 320.000 people. It’s a reeaally small country!

Exciting times came in October when the first copies arrived to the country and in the hands of the author. He was happy and sent us a bottle of champagne to celebrate! 馃檪
It felt amazing getting hands on that book! The glossy hardcover, 25x30cm聽 in dimension. Printed on the spectacular Munken uncoated paper. The fresh scent of ink, paper and glue. Mmm.. And the illustrations astonished us. They actually didn’t look that good on the monitor..


The Universe, earth and the Milkyway. Designed by Gudrun

We were really happy with the result. All of us. The goal was to make a book that we as designers would be happy with and proud of, regardless of what other people thought.

On October 10 it was published. 5.000 copies sent to the shops. We had made a website and a facebook page to support it but didn’t have any funding for more marketing. So that would have to suffice.

So ratings came in. The largest newspapers and all the main book critics loved it. 4,5-5 stars (out of 5) in all medias. In late October it became a bestseller, #1 in all sold books. Total – All categories. One critic even praised us for the illustrations, it’s not often that illustrators even get mentioned, let alone praised and thanked for.


In early November the book had almost sold out, the first 5.000 copies were almost gone and it had to be reprinted because the Christmas book season had only just started. Getting more copies from Slovenia would take months so it was decided to re-print it at Iceland’s largest printing company, the great printing office Oddi. That meant a whole new reprocess had to be made of the book with added startup cost. But obviously it was worth it because it sold out again in the same month, now 10.000 copies had been sold, the third edition started in late November, another 5000 copies made that had to last til Christmas. And it barely did. The printing office declined the request to print another 5000 saying that “they had other stuff to print this christmas, cards and such”. 馃榾

A newspaper interview with yours truly, the media was interested in how we approached the project.

So 15.000 copies almost sold out before Christmas, which made it the third bestseller of the year overall, bestseller in the Children’s books category by far and it was nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize in the children’s book category, along with four other books. Results will be revealed in January.

We were gobsmacked. We had achieved something we never could have even hoped for. Even 15.000 copies sold meant that 50% of all kids aged 6-12 in Iceland owned this book that we made. 15.000 copies means that 4,7% of this countries population bought the book, in this small language area. I don’t know what these numbers would be if the ratio would be transformed onto any other country in the world. Must be some kind of a record. But Icelanders are pretty wild when it comes to books, like this BBC article explains.

So this little project pretty much tops everything else we did last year. Pretty much.


On January 26th we will participate in an annual exhibition in museum “Ger冒uberg” which shows illustrations from recently published children’s books. The title of the exhibition is “This is what the children like to see”. The exhibition will travel around the country and be displayed in at least 7 different places this year.

Our pieces, in 50x50cm frames were:

Comets are actually just dirty snowballs

Comets are actually just dirty snowballs

Melting chocolate

Melting chocolate

Christmas traditions

Christmas traditions

Christmas means back to basics for me.

I usually go to quite length to make the christmas for my boys that I want them to remember basically because I’m so fond of my own christmas childhood memories.

The christmas traditions in Iceland are quite strong, like they probably are in most other countries. But I think that being on an isolated island for so long (it was only post-WWI that Iceland in general got connected to the world) has made traditions that sound really weird. Like our 13 Santa Clauses or the icelandic Yule Lads, each one of them with their own name and characteristics. They come one by one on the nights before christmas, the first one on the 12th of december. The kids place one of their shoe in the window and in the morning they find a special treat, if they’ve behaved good. There are rumours that naughty children only found a potatoe in their shoe in the morning, not a piece of chocolate or some small toy, but i’ve never experienced that myself 馃檪


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They used to be naughty themselves, their characteristics are connected to thievery and teasing and even voyeurism but today they are mostly silly and funny lads who now have a more international appearance, they show up in christmas parties in the red uniform with white beard and black boots.

After christmas they go home, one by one each day untill Jan. 6th when we claim that christmas is officially over this season.

These are drawings that I made a few years back, showing six of the thirteen lads. More info on them here if you’re interested.


My son Emil with a friendly Yule Lad in Dimmuborgir Iceland. It’s one of the rare places that they can be seen in their traditional uniform, which consists mostly of woolen mittens, sweaters, pants and leather shoes. Dimmuborgir is a unique place with amazing rock formation, great to hike through during summer but very scary on cold winter nights.