Monday, January 30, 2012

Dad's Birthday Cake

I am not a cake baking/decorating expert, but I do enjoy the creative process of making cakes on special occasions. I shared with you the sea turtle cake I made for my sister in September. 

This weekend we had a small celebration at our house to celebrate Dad’s birthday, which is today. He is a big fan of chocolate so I made him a two layered chocolate cake with chocolate and vanilla frosting.

I used one tub of Market Pantry chocolate frosting from Target to frost the sides of the cake and in between the layers. Being a fan of chocolate myself, I really like this frosting. 

These are my two sneaky ingredients. Target often sells seasonal frosting and then puts it on clearance after the holiday. I like to stock up on this cheap frosting. It usually does not expire for a year after I purchase it.

Unfortunately store bought frosting is not as stiff as regular decorator’s icing.  A professional cake decorator told me to simply mix in some corn starch to the store bought frosting to thicken it up. 

I do not have a measurement for how much corn starch I use. I just keep adding and mixing until the frosting transforms into the desired consistency.

For Dad’s cake I used a Wilton 1M tip to make swirls all over the top. I am happy I decided not swirl the sides, which would have resulted in frosting overload. The top swirls alone used an entire tub of frosting. 

The giant birthday candles are menorah candles that I bought 90% off at Target.

Grandma also attended the birthday celebration. She was quite tickled by my rotary dial phone that is just like hers. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Live the Life You've Imagined, Part 25

1.   Riley Children’s Hospital. I had fun holding lots of babies this week.

2.   After being inspired by Amanda’s grandma’s awesome hats, I used YouTube to learn how to crochet. My practice piece looks like a giant crescent roll.

3.   Beer bread for book club.

4.   I found this crock pot potato soup on Pinterest. The soup is super easy to make and Josh has been singing its praises all week.

5.   My mom and sister came to visit on Friday for a day of fun. I took them to a few of my favorite antique shops.

6.   Flat Stanley had to go back to school this week. I made him a small scrapbook outlining  all of his adventures.

7.   This crazy January weather has all of my plants confused. The bulbs are popping up now. I hope they still bloom in the spring.

8.   Some old flowers I was playing with at work.

9.   Mom, Alyssa, and I went out to lunch at Main St. Cheese. This chocolate cake was the most outstanding cake I have consumed in all of my twenty seven years. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

DIY State Wall Art

I have run across several home décor items promoting state pride. These products prompted me to display some Hoosier love in our home. 

Have you discovered AHeirloom’s state shaped cutting boards on Etsy? I ordered my father-in-law a custom Argentina cutting board for Christmas. The shop owners even put a heart over his hometown. I was very pleased with the product and he appreciated the unique gift.

(Funny aside: They accidentally shipped me the upper and lower peninsula of Michigan. I was quite confused. Regardless of how I arranged the pieces, they did not resemble Argentina. AHeirloom quickly rectified the geographical mix up and the correct cutting board arrived two days later.)

I recently found these hand embroidered pillows at uncommongoods. They have a lot of character, but I will never be able to convince myself to spend $150 on a pillow. 

I set out to make a basic Indiana water color using supplies I already owned. I found the state outline by doing a Google image search. I printed the outline on sketch paper. 

I added two small hand drawn hearts over the towns that Josh and I grew up in. I am not a painter, but I do remember a few watercolor tips from my high school art class. Before painting, I used a brush to do a light water wash over the areas I wanted to color. This helped me control the paint.

This photo was taken after one layer of paint. All of the water made the paper wrinkle. If I had used proper watercolor paper, I would not have run into this problem. 

I needed a place to hang my Hoosier art. I created a collage with a couple of picture frames I already had and these cute hooks my mom bought for me. (Any suggestions on what I should hang on my new hooks?)

After a few coats of spray paint, all of the collage elements match. I used the same technique to hang these frames as I used when installing our gallery wall. This little collage is tucked beside some bookcases in our office. When I finally get around to making curtains, I will show you the rest of the office. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Live the Life You've Imagined, Part 24

1.    I drove across the state of Indiana quite a bit this past week. On Thursday I made a trip to Bloomington to visit my friends Amanda, Adam & Ryan. On Friday we went to Feast. It is a cute café and bakery with delicious mushroom burgers and chocolate cake.

2.    I finished reading The Other Boleyn Girl for book club. Each year I set a goal for the number of books I want to read… one down, fourteen to go.

3.    Tulip flower arrangement I made at work.

4.    Volunteering at Riley Children’s Hospital.

5.    Me and my buddy Ryan. He is a very cute, well behaved baby. He liked my camera and each time we would take a photo of him, he wanted to see it on the display screen.

6.    On Monday I drove to Lowell to help my mom organize. We discovered several interesting mementos from my childhood.

7.    I took my new pineapple corer on a test drive. It was easy to use and fresh pineapple tastes so much better than the canned variety.

8.    These brand new Missoni heels were my Goodwill find of the week. I paid $2.50.

9.    Amanda treated me to a few Bloomington specialties. We shared some Oliver cider.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Vintage Chair Upholstery

 I found these chairs at a flea market in August. Over the past six months I have been building up the courage to tackle this project. I only paid $18 for the pair. The low price made me less apprehensive about botching the upholstery.

The chairs were not in fantastic shape, but they do have some nice details.

The less than ideal condition comforted me in knowing that perfection was not the goal for my makeover. 

Just in case the pretty summer photos fooled you into thinking the chairs were appealing as is, I wanted to show you that these chairs were DIRTY.

 I was apprehensive about what I would find underneath the blue bird upholstery. I had visions of dirt, mold and other griminess. I was pleasantly surprised to find clean batting.  It appears that the chairs were once pink.

 My naked chair.

I found a gallon of blue paint in the “oops section” at Menards. I used the bargain paint and Plaster of Paris to make my own chalk paint. I followed No MinimalistHere’s directions and was pleased with the results. 

The first time I upholstered the chair I used bleached drop cloths, which many bloggers have recommended. Unfortunately I was not happy with the way it looked. I ripped off the drop cloth and headed to Joann’s.

I found both of these fabrics in the red tag section. The cream fabric was $3 a yard and the damask fabric (which I will eventually use to cover small pillows for the chairs) cost $4 a yard.

 This is by far the most challenging upholstery project I have ever tackled and I still have a lot to learn. I know that my chairs are quite flawed, but I still like them.

Since I am a novice at this craft, I am not about to give anyone direction. If you are looking for some upholstery advice check out Miss Mustard Seed’s blog.

I want to eventually make small pillows to sit on the chairs. I hope the pillows will add some contrast…and possibly hide some of my mistakes : )