This year, I decided to try something new for my birthday treats. Yep, I still make birthday treats for myself. All my co-workers appreciate it. Then again, we are teachers and get birthday treats on a regular basis. Since those treats are store bought, I like to add a little homemade goodness to the mix.
I’ve seen stacked cupcakes featured on a few blogs and thought I would give them a try. Rather than try to bake something already round, I opted to bake the cake mixture as a flat sheet. I used a jelly roll pan that is 15 x 11 inches. By baking the cake in this manner, I ended up with a 1 inch thick cake. I then used a 2 in circle cutter to cut out my circles (I think next time, I’ll use a sharper edged cutter as the edges were a little rough).
I used a basic buttercream frosting. To make it interesting, I used variegated shades of pink, starting with white. After completing a layer of filling, I added a little more food coloring paste to darken the pink. (I’ll have to do this again as I didn’t take photos of each step.)
They turned out amazingly! The cake was fudgey. By using thin layers of frosting, I managed to avoid them being overly sweet.
Nearly everyone who sews has a stash of fabric. Some are larger than others. Some have collections dating back decades. Some maybe only a few weeks (Yep, I think that counts!) Some, if they are lucky, have a stash that came from various locations and come with a bit of a story.
The white-flowered overlay on this top came from my stash. It comes with a bit of a story of which I only know a small part. This fabric was bought for me by my sister. She spent a short time in India on a missions trip. While on this trip, she managed to remember me and found this fabric. I was so excited to have her home and that she brought me something, that I never thought to ask about where she bought it. Did she barter for it? Was it in an open market? Was there a huge fabric store? It’s been a dozen years or so now, I doubt she even remembers the particular details. I do hope she remembers the fabric when she sees me wearing the top.
I used Simplicity 2587. (This pattern is currently out of print, but I saw a couple on Etsy.) This isn’t my first time using this pattern. It’s quickly becoming a go to summer top pattern. It is an unlined top, so with the right fabric choice, it is nice and cool. The one major adjustment I’ve made is in the placement of the bodice front. I only gather a little in the front and allow the front triangles to overlap rather than rest side-by-side. This adds a little more coverage.
To add the overlay, I treated the solid pink like an underlining. An underlining is a second layer of fabric that is attached to the outside fabric, then they are sewn as if there were only one layer. The only place this created an issue was the midriff band where there ended up being 6 layers of fabric.
I have already worn this top several times. I am hoping with washing and wearing, the fabric relaxes a bit. It feels a little stiff sometimes.
I’m excited to announce that I have restocked the shop. Many of the items have been in the shop before, but I have a few new items that I’d like to share with you today.
The Measuring Tape Earrings are my favourite. I bought a similar pair about a year ago and after only a few occasions of wearing them, they started to fall apart. I decided to improve the design. Rather than use grommets to secure the loop of the measuring tape, I found a ribbon clasp to pinch the top shut. This also hides the cut edge of the vinyl measuring tape. I have been wearing a pair for 3 months now and they are going strong.
Since my shop is full of many Harry Potter characters, I have found myself with quite a collection of LEGO® brooms. Just putting a jump ring through the top didn’t give the right feeling to the piece. I decided to try a little wrapped wire. I am pleased with the look. To ease any concerns of your brooms flying away without you, the wire does go through the broom handle.
The third new item is a bit of a custom LEGO® creation. I have created The Stig! There is an official LEGO® Stig minifig, but they are very rare. I searched for just the right white pieces to assemble this little guy. For those of you who don’t know, The Stig is the tame racing driver from the very popular British show Top Gear.
I plan on having more new items in the shop over the summer, please keep checking back.
I connect lemons with summer. We always had lemonade. Though, not fresh squeezed lemonade, we had Country Time Lemonade. My mom knew how to mix it up just right. Now that I live in Florida, I am having to rethink all of my perceptions about when certain fruits and vegetables are ripe. Lemons are no exception. I do realise it is July as I am typing this, but I made these bars back in February when the lemons on the neighbour’s tree were ripe for picking. Though I am sure, these bars will be just a good with the imported lemons currently available.
Until this year, I had never used lemons. Like I said, lemonade came from a powder! I enjoyed testing out a few recipes using fresh squeezed lemon juice. Topping the charts was the lemon bar recipe I tested. It was the perfect blend of sour and sweet. Even the crust was amazing. It wasn’t too crumbly and it seemed to melt in your mouth.
Since this was my first time making lemon bars, I followed the recipe from Smitten Kitchen exactly. (You can find it here.) I used the full-sized lemon layer. It was perfect. Even my fiance (who dislikes cheesecakey things because of the texture) loved them. I thought he would prefer a thinner layer of lemon, but he didn’t.
I don’t believe I would change anything to make this recipe again. Well, except maybe line the pans with parchment. Even with greasing the pans, the bars stuck to the sides.
You may have guessed by now, that we are a little on the nerdy side. Or maybe I’ve hidden that fact fairly well thus far. Which means, that we also have friends who are a little nerdy too. Maybe some a little more than others, but it doesn’t matter as we enjoy spending time with them. Especially for birthdays!
I have started offering to bring cupcakes or cakes whenever we are invited to parties. I’m working on getting my baking skills known so if I ever open a bakery, I already have a long list of customers!
This birthday boy, is a huge fan of Star Wars. With that knowledge and some newly acquired Star Wars stamp cookie cutters, I was inspired to do a little experimenting. (I really wish I had taken photos of this part.) The set includes; Yoda, Darth Vader, a Storm Trooper, and the Death Star. Not only do they work well when making cookies, they work exceptionally well on fondant. The most difficult part was making sure not to roll the fondant to thin.
The cupcakes themselves, were spectacular. I made Cupcakes-on-Tap from Bake at 350. This is my second time using this particular recipe. I used a different beer both times. The flavor was both amazing and different each time. For this batch, I used AmberBock. The birthday boy’s beer of choice. I highly recommend using this beer (though I also plan on testing this with other beers).
I also followed the included frosting recipe. Having the touch of beer in the frosting, made it that much more fun. Though, the frosting was very thick. I recommend adding a little milk to make it easier to pipe onto the cupcakes.
These cupcakes are not child friendly. Make sure you are only serving these to people of legal drinking age.
It feels as if my summer is off to a slow start. Usually, I begin with a bang. Weeks before my students pack up for the last time, I have created an extensive list of projects to complete during the summer months. Then I pick a handful of quick crafts to complete during my first days of freedom. This year is different, for a handful of reasons. I still have my list. It’s a really exciting list, full of elaborate projects, simple projects, quick projects, and week-long projects. But, I can’t show those to you, yet!
I really, really want too, because my wedding dress is looking amazing! I am super excited at how well it is turning out. It is near completion. I just want to put it on and show the world. For now, a select few people will get to see it. Otherwise, it will stay hidden in my sewing room along with the many other projects I will be working on this summer.
This dress has been such a huge project, that I haven’t been doing many little projects as I work on it (which is what I usually do in such cases). Due to this, I don’t have filler projects to share. Today, you are getting this story with photos taken while I was on spring break in March. My fiance and I took a trip to Gainesville to visit the Butterfly Rainforest.
We were told not to expect much as it was cold outside and the butterflies were only at a level 1 for movement. Let me tell you, I think a level 10 could possibly create a tornado. There were butterflies everywhere! Thanks to their lack of motivation for movement, it made taking photos rather easy and enjoyable.
I promise some exciting news will be here on Thursday!
I am delighted to be free for the summer! I have a thousand things planned and not a single one of them has anything to do with school. That’s not completely true, but I intend to spend minimal time thinking about work.
Instead, I plan to finish moving into our new house. We moved in back in September and haven’t taken the time to make it completely home yet. I have a very long list of tasks I’d like to complete.
I’m also working on wedding plans! We are getting married in August. Though you probably won’t see much about that here until September. I’m trying to keep things a bit of a surprise. I promise there will be tutorials then.
I have new items for my Etsy shop. The poor thing is feeling neglected for certain. I am also working with a friend on having a booth at this years Leaky Con in Orlando. I’ll be spending some time geeking out over Harry Potter.
As if that weren’t enough, I am also volunteering a couple of days a week at a community center. So far I’ve helped set up the new library. How perfect is that for me to be doing?!
I’m excited to be back blogging. I’m looking forward to sharing most of my summer projects with you. There will be plenty of sewing projects, baking adventures, maybe a few book reviews. I’m sure there will be stories of my volunteer days.