Friday, July 23, 2010

My Goodwill addiction and BTW, what the heck am I going to do with these???

Have I mentioned my obsession with the Goodwill store near my house? I mean, I have to stop there at least once a week to snoop around and see what good stuff other folks have given up. This is so something my mother would do. I never in a MILLION years thought I would enjoy this. Walking into a junky thrift store makes me all but break out into a rash. But the Goodwill store, at least MY Goodwill store is organized. By color. Which is fun for me because for some reason this works with my brain and doesn't make me feel like I am surrounded by junk. The kids love it too because if they see something out of place, they go "Hey, this belongs in the blue aisle!" and they put it back where it belongs :) Keeps them occupied while I browse, so YAY for that!  Oh, and in my defense, I probably donate twice as much to Goodwill as I purchase. Just had to point that out. I wouldn't want to be accused of being a clutterbug. I hate clutter.

One thing I have learned while shopping at the Goodwill is that if you see something you want, buy it. Don't leave it lying there for someone else to snatch up for goodness sake. Cuz it won't be there when you decide two days later that you have to have it.  One day when I was dropping off a big load of stuff, I saw a lady dropping off a vintage turquoise sewing machine. Man, I wanted that thing. I didn't even care if it worked. It just looked cool! But the sensible side of my brain convinced the compulsive side that I did not need this stinkin' cute thing b/c I already had a sewing machine. Needless to say, when I decided the next day that I had to have it, someone else had already snatched it up! I'll probably never see another one again :(

Who has this cool sewing machine? Well it looked kind of like this, only even cooler!  Oh well. Lesson learned. After stumbling upon my new favorite blog, I found myself on a mission to find something old and restore it into something beautiful. So, since it was too hot out to do anything else, off we went to Goodwill.  I had no idea what I was looking for, but I thought I would know it when I saw it.

And there it was. Or rather, there THEY were...

Ta da...

Just what I needed. Not. I needed these like I need a hole in the head.  But I had high hopes for them. They aren't horrible to look at like they are. Just boring. The tops are really a lot greener than they look in the picture. Like chalkboard green. Come to think of it, you can probably write on them with chalk, but that's not exactly what I had in mind. I'm thinking monograms. And mod podge. And cute craft paper. The question is, what color paint? Black, brown, or white? Or maybe turquoise. For some reason lately I am on a turquoise kick.

They were pretty cheap...

Not yard sale cheap, but pretty cheap. I'd like to say I paid like 50 cents for them or something. But still not too bad.

So now I'm on the search for some ideas on what to do with these things.  So I looked over here. And here too. I swear I could just spend hours blog surfing. So addictive.

Well, I'll keep ya'll updated as to what comes of this project. Maybe one day my wonderful children will serve me breakfast in bed on one of these, sigh!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cricut Cake and the Cutest Apron...

Ok, I am DYING to have one of these!  The possibilities for cake decorating are endless!  Not to mention, it's red!  I got my Cricut Expression off of HSN. I am not a home shopping person, but I heard they had the best deal.  Well, now they have a Cricut Cake bundle right now, and if you order one they say you get this adorable apron too.

Is that cute or what? Very 1950s, which I love!
And, check out these cakes you can make with this thing!
These cakes are amazing.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My first fondant cake...

For my sister's baby shower, I really wanted to try cutting gum paste with the Cricut.  There is a new machine called the Cricut Cake, but before they came out with this, cake shops used the regular Cricut Expression to cut gum paste and fondant.  The first step was to design the cake.  Sticking with the elephant theme, I layed everything out on SCAL:

I wanted to put Mason's name on the cake, but as you will see later, this ended up not working out :(

I decided to do some polka dots on the cake, mainly because I saw this done on other cakes and thought it would be relatively simple to do.  As it turned out, I used some of the dots to cover up flaws in the fondant.  I will say fondant and gum paste are finicky substances to work with, that's for sure!

My sister has been craving chocolate lately, so I promised her the cake would be chocolate.  I used the cake recipe I learned in the class I took years ago.  The instructor also taught us to place an empty can in the center of the cake pan when baking a larger cake.  Fill it with batter the same depth as the rest of the pan.  This will ensure that the center of the cake gets done at the same time as the outside edge.  After the cake cools, just pop the cake out of the can, and plug the hole in the cake with it. I used a 12-inch pan and made two layers.

Of course, I had a little helper in the kitchen begging to lick the spoon!

You should fill your pans 2/3 full with batter, which I thought I did, but obviously I overfilled them because I ended up with super thick layers.  After they cooled, I iced the first layer with buttercream icing, then make a little wall around the outside edge so the filling wouldn't seep out.  Speaking of filling, I had just ordered some caramel sauce from my neighbor who sells Tastefully Simple.  This stuff is so incredible.  I decided to use it to fill the cake. YUM!

This stuff is truly sinful!

Then add the second layer and ice the whole thing with buttercream.  The great thing about fondant is that the buttercream layer doesn't have to be perfect.  I just did a nice thick crumbcoat.

I made marshmallow fondant and colored it a pale yellow color.  Placing the fondant on the cake wasn't as easy as I thought.  It's very difficult to get it to lay smoothly on the sides.  I used the Wilton fondant smoother, but it still buckled a little.  Oh well, I did the best I could. Better luck next time!

Ok, let's just say using the Cricut to cut gum paste is not easy. I used Wilton gum paste.  It comes in a big can, and you just add water.  It ends up being about the same taste and consistency as the marshmallow fondant.  You have to play with the settings on the Cricut and roll the gum paste out to just the right thickness, or your machine will get gunked up and tear the gum paste.  After several unsuccessful attempts, I gave up the idea of putting the name on the cake.  I think the letters were just too intricate, and the machine wasn't cutting them smoothly at all. 

I used the Wilton circle cut-outs to cut circles and also to make the little balls for the border.  It ended up turning out pretty good, considering the difficulty cutting the gum paste with the Cricut.  And it tasted great, which is really what's important, right?

Baby Shower Favors...

My mom and I hosted a baby shower for my sister today, and I was in charge of the party favors, so I thought I'd share these project ideas. I love yellow and gray together, so I decided to go with that for the color scheme.  I also did an elephant theme, which is kind of an inside joke between my sister and me.  These were so fun to make, and once I figured out exactly how I wanted to design them, they came together pretty quickly.

Water Bottle Hangers

For this project, you will need:

A 24-pack of .5-Liter water bottles
Some pretty cardstock/scrapbooking paper
Small brads (enough for 2 for each bottle)
Single-serving Crystal Lite packets (Luckily I got a bunch of these pretty much for free with coupons recently!)
A stapler
Adhesive (I used double-sided tape, mono-adhesive, & Zig pen)
Any embellishments you might want

The wiggle eyes were my son's idea. Aren't they cute? You could also incorporate some pretty ribbon, a cute punch, or stamp if you wanted to.  I used SCAL to cut the circles and scalloped border.  You can find the scalloped border right here and the elephant over here.  I found the cardstock and these tiny little brads at Michaels.  There are no exact measurements; I just approximated.  The paper cutter I use is the one you can buy to go with your Cricut.  It's great b/c it's also a paper scorer as well. You can find it at Michael's.  This is it:

Mini Chocolate Bar Treat Bags

For this project, you will need:

Mini cello bags
Some pretty cardstock
A stapler
Stamp/ribbon/embellishment of your choice
Hershey's nuggets (they come in many flavors, but make sure you choose a bag that has the foil color you want- either gold or silver)

I would explain how to make these, but Robyn over at My Pink Stamper has a great video to show you how.  Warning: once you visit her blog, you will be addicted and you will definitely want to buy a Cricut machine.  She makes so many cute things. Thanks for visiting and have a great day!