April 29, 2012

Hunger Games Cake

My mom made a cake for a local Boy Scout fundraiser, all the cakes and desserts were being auctioned off to earn money for the scouts.  She went with a Hunger Games theme and I thought she did a fantastic job.  

Two 8x8 square cakes with homemade chocolate frosting.  The flames were made by melting yellow and red hard candies in the oven and breaking them into the desired shape when cool.  The mockingjays are yellow cardstock (larger versions of THESE).  The white letters were hand cut, using fondant.

Great job, mama.  Wish we lived closer so we could work on stuff like this together instead of over the phone.  :)

April 28, 2012

Homemade Lemon Curd

My friend loves (amongst other things) lemon and chocolate.  For her birthday, I made her a lemon berry trifle with homemade lemon curd.  You can find the recipe for the lemon curd HERE.  I only used their lemon curd recipe and made up my own version of trifle.

The curd was amazing.  Light, smooth, and very lemony.  It was a bit of a labor of love because you have to stand and stir it while it cooks for 20 minutes, BUT it was worth it!  I will make it again.  I'm thinking for the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics in July....it's in London, so lemon curd with scones and tea sounds just about right.   

(My husband will roll his eyes when he reads that last bit.)

Here's my trifle.

A layer of diced poppy seed muffins (mine are from Costso), lemon curd, fresh berries (I used strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries), and fresh whipped cream.  Repeat layers until you reach the top of your bowl.

My whipped cream was heavy cream, about a teaspoon of vanilla, a 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, and the juice of one lemon.  Beat on high until stiff peaks form.  My measurements were approximate.  I tasted as I went.

The top was decorated with lemon slices and my son insisted we spell out a "J" for the birthday girl.

Another friend brought the chocolate decadence with the candles on it (also in a "J").  It was delish and would satisfy any chocolate craving. 

Happy Birthday!

April 27, 2012

Monogram Canvas Art

Months ago, I spotted this beautiful calligraphy monogram and instantly pinned it, knowing it would make a great gift on something for my friend.  Her name begins with a "J", her husband's begins with an "L", and their last name begins with an "H".  Perfect.

My friend's birthday was coming up and I also happened to know that she is currently redoing her bedroom in shades of blue and gray AND needed some decor/wall art.

I bought a 12x12 canvas and used my acrylic paints.  I mixed a nice, medium gray.

Applied at least 3 coats using a foam brush, allowing for drying time between each coat.  Don't forget the sides.

Then, I mixed up some blue for highlights.  I think this was a combination of light blue, a pearly silver, and a touch of royal blue.

I used a bristly, flat brush and dipped it into the blue paint just enough to get some color.  I then tapped off any excess paint. 

Very lightly, I added some quick strokes to a few places on the canvas.

I cut out my monogram on cardstock using my Silhouette machine.  After the paint was dry, I placed it on the canvas. 

Very lightly, I traced around my template using a graphite pencil.  Any pencil would probably work fine, I just happened to have a fancy, art pencil from another project.

Using a thin brush, I slowly filled in my pencil marks.  I was surprised how therapeutic it was, I wanted to keep going after I finished!  I painted two coats, using white acrylic mixed with a little pearly silver.  It's not perfect, but I kind of like it that way.  If you want perfect, crisp lines, cut your image out of vinyl and Modge Podge it on.

Can you see the hints of blue on the gray?  I loved how it turned out and the birthday girl seemed to like it as well.  Now I just need to find a perfect calligraphy monogram with my initials.

April 26, 2012

Cake Decorating 101

A week ago, two of our YW had birthdays on mutual night.  We decided to celebrate with birthday cupcakes, which led to a demonstration and short class on some basic piping skills.

I made three batches of buttercream, colored and filled the bags beforehand so we could get right to work.

The best way to practice piping is to get a plastic sheet protector (used in binders) and pipe away.  It's easy to wipe off and you can reuse the frosting.  When you are comfortable, you can then work on your cupcake or cake.

Here is my demo board, complete with a couple of different writing styles using the birthday girls' names.

Practicing on their sheets.  I didn't get any pictures of their finished cupcakes!  I was too busy oohing over their creations...and cleaning up.  They had a great time and hopefully they picked up a few tricks.

April 25, 2012

Current Project: A Sneak Peek

Two panels of my baby brother's Eagle Scout quilt.
It's coming along...I'll take lots of pictures of the finished product.

April 24, 2012

iPad Case for My Mama

I made this iPad case for my mom for Mother's Day.  She is going to England with her sisters and mom (yes, completely jealous) and thought she may want a case with some padding for her iPad.  It has interfacing and a couple of layers of quilt batting.  Now, she can put it in her carry-on or purse and not have worry about it being scratched or bumped.

A little heat transfer monogram, in one of her favorite fonts (Zephyr).

A burst of stripey color inside.

Unfortunately, it doesn't fit the iPad.  I made it to fit the dimensions of an iPad 2 and she has the original, which is slightly wider and thicker.  I wanted it to be snug, but it's a bit too much.  Back to the drawing board.  Luckily, it didn't take very long to make and now she can pick out the color/fabric since she already knows the gift.  I was doubting my dimensions, so I mailed it to her early to test it out.  Good thing I did, her trip is right after Mother's Day, so now I can get another one shipped off before she heads overseas.

Happy Mother's Day!...I'll be mailing you another soon.

April 20, 2012

Book Review: Lemon Tart by Josi S. Kilpack

Lemon Tart (Sadie Hoffmiller, #1)Lemon Tart by Josi S. Kilpack

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've been wanting to read this one for a while.  Sadie is a retired teacher who loves to bake and can't seem to keep her nose out of other people's business.  When a friend is murdered on her street, the police and Sadie are on the case...whether the police want her helping out or not!  Cute, funny, and entertaining mystery.  I like the back story of Sadie's life just as much as the mystery itself.  I was surprised at how much I wanted to know the victim's story as well.  Normally, the victim is not of much interest...since they're dead when the book begins.  Another good, light read and she includes the recipes for the food that Sadie makes in the book.  Don't read on an empty stomach, you'll be starving and have to stop reading to get a snack.

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April 19, 2012

Friendship Bracelet Kit

My oldest was recently invited to an 8 year old girl's birthday party.  This girl is girly but also sporty, and I knew she liked to make things, so after seeing THIS great idea at eighteen25, I knew what we would be giving as the birthday gift.

(My son luckily doesn't have much opinion when it comes to giving gifts, especially the girls because it means walking down the "pink aisles" at the toy store, so most of the time, I get to do what I want... which is great!)

I did my kit a little different than the original, but used the free printable on their blog (see links above).  We personalized the supply box and clipboard with the birthday girl's name.  I also made her an "example" bracelet to get her started.  Oh, the memories that came flooding back as I made that bracelet!

Inside, we filled it with thread, extra thread bobbins (links HERE), some printable instructions on a couple of basic bracelets (just do a search online, there are tons), a pair of scissors, and a place for finished bracelets...ready to hand out to her friends, of course.

The clipboard is to hold all the threads in place while you twist and knot away.  It's convenient, keeps things tidy, and portable, so nice.  I almost did a big vinyl design in the middle of the clipboard, but thought she might like to use it for writing too, so we just put her name in the corner.

Added a large band to hold it all together for easy transport and storage, there you have a very cool gift for an 8 year old (at least I think so).

Happy Birthday, Karlee!

April 18, 2012

Book Review: The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor WheelsThe Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you are into blogging, like I am, then you have heard of the Pioneer Woman.  She has a weekly show on the Food Network too, I believe.  This is the love and courtship story of Ree (Pioneer Woman) and Marlboro Man (her hubby).  It's entertaining and funny and real, which was refreshing for me.  A great, light read for a vacation or to "just get away".  We all need those books every once and a while.  Wished the ending wasn't so abrupt, would have liked a little more resolution for their family members, but can't complain too much about this one.

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April 11, 2012

Book Review: Crossed by Ally Condie

Crossed (Matched, #2)Crossed by Ally Condie

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The first book in this series was fun and interesting.  It's a three part series and this is the second book.  The second book in a trilogy tends to be the "filler" book, and this was no exception.  Cassia and Ky have been sent to the outer provinces to work, or in Ky's case, to possibly be killed.  Life is hard and friends are lost along the way.  Discoveries are made and they begin to understand better how their society became the way it is.  Chapters alternate between Cassia's and Ky's narratives.  It's hard to remember who is talking sometimes unless I was really paying attention and reminding myself.  A lot of "oh, I miss Ky" and "oh, I miss Cassia", which is fine...the first 20 times...and then I'm done hearing about how much you miss each other.  The book ends with a cliffhanger, of course, as almost all second books do, involving Cassia, Ky, and Xander.  I will read the third to see what happens, although I think I have a pretty good idea of how it's all going to play out.

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April 5, 2012

Look Ma, No Hands!

Recently, I was in charge of the boys and girls midweek youth activity, otherwise know as Joint Mutual Night.  We decided to focus on a theme of "I Can Accomplish Hard Tasks".  We watched this video and talked about how someone with a seemingly strong disadvantage could overcome any obstacle put before her.  She was born without arms, but does just about everything we do, only with her feet.  We talked about how they (the youth) would each have hard tasks placed before them in their life, by choice or circumstance, and how with the Lord, determination, and patience any hard task could be mastered.

We then went into the gym for some "feet only" activities, such as reading a book.

Brushing teeth. 
(We had cheap individual brushes for everyone and wipes to wash your feet before beginning each station.)

Drawing and coloring.

Our YW president making a peanut butter sandwich.

She did a great job and even had cute, painted toes.  Some of the kids actually tried to eat their sandwich.  I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Texting.  Surprisingly, many of them could send coherent texts.

Setting a table for dinner.

One of our YW made a paper airplane, using only her feet.  Amazing!

It was a lot of fun and I hope they walked away with a sense of accomplishment...and greater appreciation for arms and hands.
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