Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Poor Man's DIY Home Security

A few weeks ago, I briefly mentioned moving into a new house. Boxes still feel never ending, but I do love finding new homes for everything.

The first time my dad came to see the house, before we had moved in, he informed us it was a necessary to make our own "poor man's security system." This entails having dowels cut to fit all the windows and sliding glass door. You know where you put the stick behind the sliding door/window and it stops anyone from opening the window/door, from the inside or outside? Dad has also not forgotten to mention this necessity every time I've seen him since. He also said the dowels should be accompanied by bells hung on the doorknobs at night, so we hear anyone trying to break in. I love him.

Here's how I fulfilled his request (and you can make your own):

First, go to your local hardware store, or  even Fred Meyer, and purchase 1 1/8 inch diameter wooden dowels. I believe they are about 4 feet long. At Freddy's they are in the paint section. Measure your windows/door spots first. I didn't do this and could have saved myself a dowel (which are about $4 each) because two windows were short enough to only require one stick.

Then, mark your dowels like so:

I also marked which piece was for which room. This will save you the puzzling game of trying to fit the right cut ones in the correct spots when you're finished cutting.

Next, cut each dowel where you marked. This was by far the most exciting part because I was able to use (for the second time since Christmas!) my Craftsman 4-in-1 Reciprocating Saw.

You could totally be done here and put all your dowels into their respective places, unless you want to give them a little pop. Read on.

I love spray paint (as apparent in yesterday's post), particularly this soft blue color (Krylon Indoor/Outdoor Blue Ocean Breeze) I had on hand. So I wrapped my dowel in painting tape. Tip: Do not force the tape or stress about the spiral of tape being equal distance apart from the previous spiral. If you start the tape in one direction, it will naturally fall equal distance apart from itself. The minute you try to start placing it yourself by eyeballing it, you will end up with bumps in your tape and uneven spirals.

I could have totally just left this tape because the green was super cute! This made me think of how you could also cover the dowels in the super cute designs of duct tape, too!

Then spray paint it.

You could also do a checkered one, straight stripes or whatever else your creative brain thinks up! Just to give your window (or the kids') a little pop!

Partying at Tatertots & Jello's Weekend Wrap Up. Go check it out!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

DIY Kitchen Canisters

I had been saving these tin canisters from the recycling forever. So I was quite excited when I figured out a use for them!

Nothing a little spray paint can't spruce up. Just wash out and dry your tins, then add a layer or two of spray paint and ta-da!

I used Krylon Indoor/Outdoor Gloss Blue Ocean Breeze and American Accents Smooth Satin Finish Seaside Green.

I thought some ribbons would look cute. Although, I think I need thicker ribbon.

I love how easy and simple this was. Seriously, like 10 minutes max to complete, plus drying time. What have saved from the recycling to put to use in your house?

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Watermelon Cake Pops

While cake pops took kitchens by storm forever ago thanks to Bakerella, I still had not tried making them myself - until last night! I think how I dipped them is an easy version for beginners to try cake pops for the first time. I'll explain.

My friend Michelle at The One With The Cupcakes, bought the Bakerella book and made a few batches before I made it to her house to try one. My first one! It. was. so. good. Before I got started making my own, I read her post with a handful of tips from her experience cake pop making.

One reason why I never dove right into trying to make cake pops would be because I never tend to have much luck dipping things. Consistency issues, lumps, horrible looking final products, you name it, it happens to me every time I try to dip something - except a tortilla chip of course. Somehow, I thought up this idea to try to make watermelon cake pops which would eliminate the entire cake pop needing to be dipped at once. Half and half seemed easy enough. If you don't need any heads up on how to make cake pops, scroll down to number 7 where the watermelon cake pop goodness begins.

You will need:
  • 9x13 inch cake
  • 2/3 tub of frosting
  • red or pink Wilton Candy Melts
  • green Wilton Candy Melts
  • mini chocoalte chips
  • lollipop sticks
  • styrofoam (to allow the pops to solidify upright)

1. Bake your cake. Michelle said her favorite is chocolate cake (surprise, surprise) and Betty Crocker's Rainbow Chip frosting (no objections here). Then break it up out of the pan and into a bowl.

2. Crumble your cake. By FAR my favorite part. Why do I like destroying the cake? I don't know, but it is fun. Maybe because, until cake pops, you never crumbled a cake to pieces on purpose. Make sure your crumbs are nice and fine. The top/edges of my cake had that slight moist crust to them and tended to make chunks that I pulled out.

3. Add your frosting. You do not need a whole tub (16oz) of it! Make sure it is room temperature. Anything colder will be miserable to mix. I've never read Bakerella's book or instructions, but from Michelle's experience, 1/2 to 2/3 of the tub is just marvelous. Any more and your cake pops will be far too moist.

4. Mix all the crumbs into the frosting. Your final product will be a giant cakefrosting ball of "dough."

5. Place the dough ball in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

6. Roll into balls of desired size. The bigger they are the fewer you get, but the harder they are to dip. I'd shoot for smaller than a golf ball.

7. First melt your Green Wilton Candy Melts. I used just less than half a bag. Then, dip your cake balls by hand halfway into the candy melts. Secure a lollipop stick into the end you just dipped, right about where the swirl from pulling it out is, to sort of cover it up.

8. Place in the refrigerator for a few minutes, then melt your Red or Pink Wilton Candy Melts. (I used red.) And hold the stick to dip the other half of the cake pop in the candy melts. You want to submerge it enough to just meet the green.

9. Finally, add mini chocolate chips to the top of your pop for seeds. I would do this as you dip each red one because the first red one you dip will be too hard to add the chocolate chips to by the time you dip your final one. Finally, cool your watermelon patch of pops in the refrigerator!


Just as you used the lollipop stick to cover up the swirly gig on the green side when pulling it out of the candy melts, you can use a mini chocolate chip to cover it on the red side.

And of course, as with all my projects, here is my "next time I will"...use a white cake mix/frosting combo because then, you could not make the candy melts meet when dipping, on purpose instead of accidentally, to create a white bit of rind.

Also, the rounder your cake balls are, the less lumpy your watermelon pops will look. And of course, don't expect perfection. Have fun! As with most things, even if they aren't the prettiest, they still taste good! Take a look at a different method of creating watermelon cake pops made by Natalie at Natalie's Cake Pops. Very cute!

Well, there ya have it. Easy cake pops for a newbie so you don't have to worry about dipping the whole ball or perfecting your pull out point. They're not perfect watermelons and could be made into lady bugs (all red obviously, black line down the middle) or something with spikes, as that's what the seeds look like to me.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Speechless Sunday

Copyright Katie Daisy at thewheatfield Etsy shop.

Friday, June 24, 2011

#3 Take a cake decorating class. [✓]

If you've been following along these past four weeks, you'll know I completed the Wilton Decorating Basics Course at JoAnn Fabrics on Wednesday. As I mentioned, in my first post regarding cake class when I started, taking a cake decorating class is number 3 on my 25 Before 25 List: twenty-five things I want to complete before I turn 25 years old, a modified bucket list if you will. There is a page link under the title of my blog for future reference.

A Summary of My Wilton Decorating Basics Course in Pictures:

I have learned so much about baking and been introduced to so many new techniques. The class has given me far more confidence as a baker and decorator. I'm really looking forward to using my new skills in the future.

If you are interested in my 4 week adventure (classes and practice) through Wilton's Decorating Basics Course, see the following posts (listed chronologically):





If you want to know any more about the Wilton Decorating Basics Course, based on my experience, let me know. I love being able to check something off my list and am so happy I did it! This is the first thing I have crossed off! Next up, a calligraphy class (hopefully)!

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    Too Many Cakes, Still Not Enough Practice

    I'm feeling fairly burnt out on cake baking and decorating after completing four weeks of Wilton's Decorating Basics Course. I do love it, but also need a bit of a break from making frosting and the entire storage/clean up process of making/decorating cakes at home. (Frosting bags really are the pits to clean out.) However, since I had frosting leftover from my final cake class last night, I figured I should not waste it and get a little more practice in. I also had left over batter from baking my final cake, so I baked a 6 inch cake with the what was left.

    My sister, Hailey, said that the roses (particularly the color) remind her of the roses in Beauty and the Beast.

    I used my cake leveler (that I love!) to split the little thing in half before building the dam around the edges with just a coupler in the icing bag, as shown below.

    Since this cake was such a hit with its fresh blueberries in the vanilla pudding filling, I used blueberries again, but in a blueberry pudding. Pretty good, but I'm going to stick with vanilla pudding and whole fresh blueberries from now on.

    Here's a tip: don't beat your cake mix for any longer than stated on the back of the box. Or else your cake will be hole-y. See.

    Yesterday in my final class of Wilton's Decorating Basics Course, we learned how to make a Wilton Ribbon Rose. Pretty frustrating, so today I made 18 before getting 10 I liked being sick of not quite getting it.

    They're not awful, I just wish the top edges weren't so frazzled looking. The two inside ribbon twirls don't look bad, but as the flower became bigger, I can't quite figure out what happens...If you know, give me some insight!

    I had yellow and purple frosting left so I used a larger star tip to pipe a simple border. Then, using Wilton Tip #3 again, I made three dots around the side of the cake. It is by far my favorite part!

    In addition to all the great techniques I learned, I also now know I wouldn't last a week in a high volume bakery. I am looking forward to getting back into sewing and hopefully some scrapbooking!

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Happy Cake Day!

    Wednesday night quickly became Cake Day at my friend Michelle's house, as our friends knew if they showed up, there would be cake to be had after class. So of course, for the fourth and final week of Wilton's Decorating Basics Course, my cake class finale payed tribute to that:

    For our last class, we learned how to make a Wilton Ribbon Rose using Wilton Tip #12 for the base and Tip #104 for the petals. Talk about frustrating! It is definitely going to take some practice. Good thing I have plenty of frosting leftover that I should put to use.

    Probably my best looking one.

    We also learned how to pipe letters using Wilton Tip #3. Printing was much harder than cursive. I did the top of my cake in such as rush, as we were crunched for time when we finally got to decorate our cakes, which means I didn't practice. Oh well. Still tasted good!

    I also missed the memo that we didn't need to tort both 8 inch cakes we baked, which means instead of matching everyone else's double layer with one filling, mine was a 4 layer cake! My first! Not too shabby, and the chocolate frosting filling was quite yummy and complementary to the yellow cake.

    After frustration had mounted to the point of being done trying to make better roses, I rewarded myself with making my favorite flower as a border: rosettes. Unfortunately, I was not quite on top of my game in remembering that stiff consistency icing is used to make roses, so when I switched the tip in order to make the rosettes, the stiff consistency frosting didn't make the prettiest of rosettes. Medium consistency frosting would have made them smoother. Again, we were crunched for time.

    I also (obviously) need to work on smoothing my sides better. In my defense, this cake did travel in rush hour traffic for 1.5 hours before decorating though, so I had to redo the sides when I finally arrived.

    Well, that's that. The past four weeks have gone by so fast and I am so happy with everything I learned in Wilton's Decorating Basics Course!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Spoonflower Anyone?

    No idea what I'm talking about? I didn't either until a few hours ago thanks to a friend's shared link on Facebook. It is a website that offers custom fabrics printed in full color without a minimum purchase requirement. Those last three words are huge. You can make your own print to be on a fabric and not have to order a hundred yards! You can order a yard, or even just a fat quarter or a swatch!

    You can upload your own image or shop and purchase from other users (similar to Etsy). If you upload a print and someone orders a cut of your design, you get a commission (10%). Oh how I loved looking around at all the different fabrics, like these baking ingredients, or various types of mustaches, and found these nuns to be quite funny and cute. And one more, the black and white zoo animals are fantastic!

    They also offer a themed contest each week to submit a design. The winner receives $100 Spoondollar credit to use on the site in addition to being featured as the Fabric of the Week. And they have a blog!

    Spoonflower is only a couple years old and I love start-ups. It's the entrepreneur in me I guess. I love stories behind businesses and how start-ups find success based on how well they are at meeting a perceived need. This [older] interview with one of the founders gives a bit of insight on Spoonflower's story.

    I'm not sure if I missed the boat completely on this, but I haven't seen anyone mention this. Maybe because it's pricey (starting at $18.00/yard), but boy, it sure is cool. (Huh. I just read on the website that they have been featured in "New York Times, Associated Press, Vogue, Martha Stewart Weddings, Make, CRAFT, ApartmentTherapy, Photojojo, and many other terrific publications and blogs." I must have been sleeping.)

    Someday, I might just have my own custom fabric printed. How awesome would that be?

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    The Cool Kid

    I have recently started sharing my blog posts on other gals' link parties. I love Tatertots and Jello's Weekend Wrap Up every Friday, but sometimes feel lost in the often times 500+ entries! Some blogs have lists of link parties and boy, there are a ton. This past week, I posted my mini watermelon cupcakes to a few blogs, including at Crayon Freckles. And guess what?! I was featured on her blog!

    Andie Jaye is the the one behind Crayon Freckles. By scoping out her blog, you know she's just a good person. We started blogging about the same time, but she seems so on top of things, with almost 4 times as many followers and hosting a link party?! Way cool. She is my most recent follower and I am just so tickled to be highlighted in her post! Plus, I get my first button! I probably sound like such a newbie blogger, but hey, I am! And today, I feel like the cool kid. Thanks Andie!

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    Happy Father's Day!

    Speechless Sunday

    Photo credit: Stalnakers Photo Studio

    Thank you for everything you have done for me. All the sacrifices, unconditional love, continual giving, guidance and support you have had for me over the past 23 years mean the world to me. I appreciate you more than I know how to say. Love you daddio.

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    Birthday Surprise: Tim McGraw Concert

    After a five hour drive, my sister, mom and I arrived to see our old family friend, Brittany. We gave her the cake I made and loved watching the excitement as she opened her birthday card with a ticket to see Tim McGraw, The Band Perry and Luke Bryan at The Gorge Ampitheater in George, Washington. Yes, there really is a place called George, Washington!

    Anyone want to be at a concert with this in the background?

    View to the left of the stage!

    View to the right of the stage

    If this looks pleasant to you, check out the Gorge Ampitheater's schedule and work your way over there some time. You will not regret it. I have always wanted to see a concert there and could not get over the awesomeness of it all. Beautiful scenery, awesome music and great friends. Doesn't get much better.

    The venue also does this cool little thing, sort of an insider trick: you can get ticket upgrades from the lawn (where we purchased tickets for) to the floor seats for cheap! Like $10 a ticket in this case! So elated to get to do this and be SO much closer.

    Me, Mom, Brittany & Hailey at our new seats!

    Opening acts, The Band Perry and Luke Bryan were incredible! (I have a huge crush on Luke Bryan now.) But the man of the night, Mr. Tim McGraw, did not disappoint. Hit after hit after hit. What a performer!

    I couldn't get over how great our seats were! So fun!

    Needless to say, it was nothing short of a great experience. Words of wisdom: never pass up an opportunity to see a concert at The Gorge. Or see Tim McGraw.
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