30 May 2011

Bringing the May Flowers

I had mentioned awhile back in this post that I was going to start taking Wilton cake decorating classes at my local Michael's craft store. It has been great fun so far and I've already signed up for the next class.

These cupcakes were our third lesson and the most intense. There were three different flowers to make (four if you consider star drop flowers and swirls drop flowers vastly different), along with leaves. May I just mention how much I love making leaves? Seriously, I could decorate a cupcake with just leaves. It would look a little funny, I suppose, but it could be great. They're so easy and can really finish a look. If I had another super villain party it could work... Poison Ivy cupcakes. Oh, the leafy possibilities.

Filling the cupcakes was something else we learned during this lesson and that was really easy too. These particular cupcakes were lemon flavored filled with lemon curd. The cupcakes themselves were not spectacular, in my opinion. I tried a new recipe and was not impressed with it. Everyone else who ate them enjoyed the cake; the cupcakes were dense yet moist and tasted like lemon so I shouldn't complain considering that's what they were supposed to taste like. They didn't satisfy me, though, so I won't be sharing that recipe here.

26 May 2011

T-shirt reconstruction

Ever since I got my sewing machine I've been cutting up all kinds of t-shirts. I can fix shirts that are too big or fix something that isn't quite right.

Today I'm taking an old long sleeve and turning it into something frilly and girly. I love this shirt because it's comfortable and it fits well. Unfortunately, I got some bleach on the sleeve. Never good, especially with black.

I found a couple of cute t-shirt tutorials online but my favorite was from Ruffles and Stuff. She has some really cute ideas over there. The first step of this process was simple. Fold the shirt in half and cut off the sleeves to a desired length. The shirt is folded to make sure that the sleeves are cut evenly.

21 May 2011

Adventures in Gluten-Free Baking

I love having company over. It's a lot of fun and I make a lot of food. One of the greatest joys I get from baking is the happiness it brings to other people. Unfortunately, some of these people can't eat what most others can. Namely: gluten, eggs, or dairy.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a house guest last weekend that needed her own specialty cake. It was interesting for me to bake this way; very different. There were some challenges (guar gum is harder to find than the much more expensive xanthan gum) and uncertain moments (don't know how I feel about those fake butter sticks...) but overall, it turned out great.

 For the cake I used the same chocolate cake recipe from Martha Stewart that I used before in this post, but changed it up a bit.

Instead of regular butter I used Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks, almond milk instead of cows milk, applesauce and baking powder took the place of eggs, and I found some gluten free flour and guar gum. I'm glad I found the guar gum in bulk because I only needed a little bit.

Just a little note: I used 1/4 cup of applesauce plus 1 tsp of baking powder per egg. It worked really well.

15 May 2011

Ity-Bity Cake Stand

I have had the busiest week. First there were finals, I started my cake decorating class, and then my boyfriend graduated with his Bachelor of Science (whoo!) This of course meant there was family in town and I'd have eight people in my house, myself included. There was a lot going on. What does this have to do with the blog; aside from excuses for the lack of posts? Well, let's keep going.

I make a lot of tiny cakes. There's only two people in my household and making a large one would be excessive. So that's just fine and dandy but something that's been starting to get to me is the fact that these little cakes look so silly on my nice cake stand.

See what I mean? Not so majestic sitting up there. It's like wearing clothes that are too big, it's not flattering in the slightest.
The thing is, though, that I'd never had a real reason other than vanity to have a little cake stand. The large one does a fine job of displaying my cakes and there was no need for anything more.

That time has come.

In planning to host these seven people at my humble abode for a couple of meals I also planned to bake a cake! What kind of host would I be if I didn't? One that didn't serve cake, obviously.
So wouldn't one full sized cake be more than enough? Normally, this would be true, but one of my guests has some allergies and she'll be getting her very own tiny gluten and dairy free cake!

Now that the big stand will be host to a butter and wheat flour cake I'm going to need something else to display the tiny one.

I know that there are many do-it-yourself cake stands out there, but this is a first for me.

For this project I gathered
  • A dry erase marker
  • Small glass dish
  • Small glass cup-thing
  • Adhesive
  • Q-tip, one cotton end cut off
  • Ruler

This is a great project, and super cheap. The glassware cost me $1.50 at the thrift stores. Clean it up and it's perfect! 

02 May 2011

Bonsai Tool Roll-Up Bag

Bonsai trees are amazing, aren't they? Itsy-bitsy living trees. In my home we have six. At the moment they're all new and at that beginning stage. One day they'll be fully grown, tiny trees. You see, my very talented boyfriend has just started this tree hobby and has taken quite a liking to it. I never realized before just how much goes into the whole process. Root trimming, branch shaping; a lot of time and energy goes into these.

I like to encourage hobbies so last Christmas bought him some actual bonsai tools. They came in a little cardboard box and he was ecstatic. However, we started thinking that the tools needed something more permanent than that little cardboard box. I took upon myself to do something about it.

The design was basic enough so I sketched up an idea and got some materials together.

  • Canvas
  • Straps
  • Cutting board
  • Rotary Cutter
  • Fabric scissors (which I did not have at the time but have since purchased. Good decision on my part)
  • Fabric marker
  • Pins

See how simple my drawing is? Easy stuff. 

The first step was to figure out how long I wanted it to be when it was all rolled out and how wide. I then folded up the bottom to form a flap. This was where I'd be stitching up pockets. I got a little too into the project and didn't take a picture. You'll see what I mean in the next part.

I cut out some rectangular pieces that I wanted to be extra pockets, folded up the edges and pinned them to the flap, being sure I didn't pin them to the back of the bag.