Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cake Bites

Ever since I tried a cakeball lollipop from the Sweet & Saucy Shop, I have been dying to try to make my own. I knew how to make them in theory, but what I can definitely say is that I underestimated these. Here is the best one of the batch:
Though recognizable as a chocolate covered cake pop, I have a long way to go until I would feel comfortable serving these anywhere. I feel that this whole blog is a learning experience, so I am still happy for taking a risk and attempting something unfamiliar to me. Below I will explain how to make cake bites, with some tips that I learned from my mistakes (so that hopefully you won't have to make them too!)

The first step is to make a cake. It was a rainy day yesterday and I wasn't wanting to spend all day on these, so I decided to use a cake mix (sorry!). Just follow the instructions and bake a cake just like normal. Once the cake is cooked and cooled, transfer it to a large bowl. Crumble the cake using a fork. Once you have a bowl of crumbled cake, add some frosting. Make sure you add a little at a time, because you don't want to add too much because you need the cake/icing consistency to be fairly firm. Once you have the right consistency, use a cookie scoop and scoop the mixture onto a sheet. Place the sheet into the fridge for a few hours, or use a freezer to speed up the cooling. Once the balls are chilled, roll them into perfect spheres using your hands. Then place them back into the fridge while you melt the chocolate. Plan on melting a lot of chocolate. I learned that being stingy with the chocolate makes the dipping process unnecessarily difficult. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or using a double boiler. An important thing to know while melting your own chocolate is to make sure that the chocolate does not get too hot or else it will not temper correctly. (Tempering allows it to cool and harden correctly.) Once the chocolate is ready, dip the cake balls into the chocolate and set on some wax paper to harden. If you are wanting to turn the cake bites into cake pops, add a lollipop stick into the ball while the chocolate is still melting. 

And that's it! Sounds like a lot of steps, and it is. Plan on spending a long time on these to do them right, but it is a fun experiment. Plus, they are so so yummy! Even when they don't have the best presentation :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bouquet Decoupage

With Valentine's Day being over a week ago, sadly my bouquet of roses and daisies are wilting. I decided to seize the opportunity and turn my wilting roses into something useful and lasting. Here are  the finished products:

I was really excited for how this came out, and it was really easy and inexpensive! Here are the supplies needed, all of which can be found at a craft store:
Modge Podge (I bought mine from Aaron Brother's framing store), a sponge brush (preferably one slightly smaller than the one I used, but the smaller ones were sold out), flowers (the less dried out the better), a surface to work on that can handle messy glue-type materials, and finally the item you will be decorating (I chose a cheap picture frame and a small candle holder).

The steps are simple. Just apply a coat of modge podge onto the item you are decorating, then put on the petals, arranging them however you like. Working in small patches is easiest, so apply a small section with modge podge, then flowers, then move to another section. Once you have finished applying all of the petals, you can quickly go back and fill in the gaps with smaller petals from the center of the roses. Once everything is in place, add another thick coat of modge podge over the petals and let it dry, making sure you brush out all of the bubbles. Making the candle holder is very similar. I worked from the rim of the holder to the base. Just add an inch thick layer of modge podge around the rim, then add the petals. After that first layer, keep going, layering the new petals over the old ones. Then coat the whole thing with a layer of modge podge and let it dry. Once dry, add your candle and watch it glow.

I hope that some of you try this project, especially because you might have a wilting bouquet from Valentine's Day like me  :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

T-Shirt Transformation

I have an men's xl t-shirt that I need to tonight and seeing as a men's xl fits me like a bed sheet, I knew I had to make some alterations. As I mentioned in my previous post, I don't own a sewing machine and I did not feel like taking the time to hand stitch this shirt because I will potentially wear it just for the night, so I decided to create a no-sew solution. Something I tend to dislike about cutting apart t-shirts is that the result can sometimes be too revealing, so I made sure mine ended up like a smaller t-shirt without any holes along the sides. Here are the pictures from my process; below will be the tutorial :)

The first thing I did was turning the shirt inside out. That way, any markings I make will not be visible. I decided to lay one of my form fitting tank tops (also inside out) on top of the t-shirt so that I was able to see my body size compared to the shirt. Next, I trimmed off about 5 inches from the bottom. Because I am not sewing a hem, I made sure to pencil out a line and cut very carefully, so it can look as clean as possible. After shortening the shirt, I chopped off the sleeves, right inside their seams. With the bottom 5" of frabric, I cut 2 strips lengthwise, then I cut along the original side seam so that the strips were only 1 layer of fabric thick. For the next step, I made small dashes about an inch or two from my tank top. These dashes will be used for the "sewing" of my shirt. If you are doing this, make sure the dashes start at the armpit of your tank top and end a few inches from the bottom of the xl tee. By doing so, you will end up with a short/cap sleeve. The dashes should also be about 2" away from each other. I cut the dashes to form small slits, making sure I cut through both layers of the shirt. Note: draw and cut slits on both sides before starting this next step (it's easier that way). Then, I rotated the shirt so that the side seam was centered. Then, I took one of my long strips and threaded it through the slits as if I was lacing a shoe. After finishing one side, I just repeated the lacing on the other side. And that's it! I decided to keep the neckline as is because I still wanted to look uniform with everyone, but you can easily cut/tie to change that too! I hope this comes in handy to you soon.

Thanks for stopping by! ♡

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day Round-Up

Welcome to my blog, dedicating to becoming more like Martha Stewart! I have been wanting to start a blog about baking, etc. for awhile now, so I decided that Valentine's Day is the perfect holiday for my launch! I love Valentine's Day because it is a holiday all about love and kindness. This year was no exception to that.

After looking around at various blogs and websites, I decided on these crafts to make:

This first craft is from Martha Stewart's website. While it was originally just for valentines, I wanted to mail mine so I looked into the size requirements for the postal service (which is 5x3.5" in case you were curious) and tailored my hearts to meet that size. Because I used dark paper for the outside, I added smaller paper and lines for the address labels. These were addictive to make. Once I started, I wanted to keep going! I made sure to save my heart template so I can make a lot more next year :)

The next craft I did was also from Martha Stewart's website for see-through valentines. It was very fun and easy to make. Simply take wax paper, cut out the desired shape and sew together! I don't own a sewing machine, so I hand stitched mine with embroidery thread. I also decided to make another one from a see-through candy bag. Though I like the look of the candy bag heart better, the wax paper heart is great because you can easily tear it apart to get to the candy!

For my card to my valentine, I chose a paisley printed paper whose color scheme is Valentine's-esque, but still fairly masculine. I used some silver sticker letters that I have had for years to spell out "love" and the heart at the top is actually a fastener for the card. I hand stitched the heart to the inside of the card and cut a slit in the front so that the heart can be slipped through to close it. I also hand stitched a little pattern at the bottom for more of a personal touch. 

Normally, I am more of a baker, but my kitchen is currently in disarray, so I did not do any extravagant cakes or cupcakes. I did, however, make some sugar cookies using a recipe from the Food Network. For the frosting I chose to make two different kinds: royal icing and buttercream. The recipe for the royal icing I used is from my Confetti Cakes Cookbook (love!), and the buttercream frosting can be found here at the i am baker blog. Because I don't have an electric beater, making royal icing is always a bit of a pain, but a with a bit of muscle (or a lot of muscle) it is well worth it. The cookies were decorated by my boyfriend and I as a Valentine's Day activity. It was a fun and yummy way to end the great day.