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Show & Tell: Muffins Are Cute Too

27 Jun

I was recently on a hunt on google for something to do with muffins. I can’t remember exactly what I was searching for, but that’s not important. What I did find was that if you type ‘muffins are’ into google it auto populates with the expression ‘muffins are just ugly cupcakes’!

I just couldn’t let that slide. As a baker, I believe all baked goods deserve equal oppertunities. I know that cup cakes have been all in vogue for the last little while. In fact that craze is still going strong up here in Canada (we are a little behind). And I think it’s only fair that we give muffins their own fair shake at inducing little moments filled to the brim with cuteness.

All it takes is a little creativity on our part. That and a pop-over pan and some fondant.

There is my favorite recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. This is from a book I’ve been carting around with me since I was a kid. This recipe is one of Luke’s more frequent requests. Of course I’ve tweaked the recipe here and there over the years.

Fill up the pop-over pans to the top. About 1/2 a cup.

Bake them off and they turn out the perfect shape to add cute little fondant accents to.

I dare anyone who sees these to ever say that muffins are just ugly cupcakes.

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Show & Tell: Strawberry Shortcake Cookie Cups

21 Jun

After I picked and pureed the strawberries from my local pick-your-own berry farm I was dying to enjoy the flavor of summer. Luke and I had already gorged on our fill of fresh berries and I decided to get my bake on.

I followed the same steps to make the shortbread cookie cups as I did for the chocolate chip cookie cups but using my shortbread recipe.

The cookie cups have been my most popular post, and I thought I’d share a trick I use to get them looking their best.

The cookies tend to brown quicker on the very top and they are never perfectly flat. So I use my microplane grater to gently sand them down.

I also give the bottom a light sanding to ensure that the cup will sit flat and steady on the plate.

I used a strawberry mouse to fill the shortbread cookie cups. With the puree we made in the FYI: Strawberry Freezing, Pureeing and Jamming it’s simple and quick.

First make a quick Cream Chantilly:

1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream

1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

1/4-1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar

Whip the cream, extract and sugar together to a soft peek.

Now gently fold in about 1/3 cup of cold strawberry puree. Whip again slightly until it firms up a little.

This is a ‘to taste’ thing. Add more or less sugar depending on how sweet your berries were or how sweet your palate is.

Fill your shortbread cookie cups and top with fresh strawberries.

Would you judge me if I told you that I ate this for breakfast? Strawberries are good for you right?

The end of my very first month of blogging is coming up!

Off the List is going to officially be one month old and to celebrate I’m going to be giving one lucky winner their very own mold to make these amazing cookie cups.

All you have to do is subscribe to Off the List and leave me  a comment on any post before July 1st. I’ll have a winner picked at random and in no time you could be making these great, simple desserts yourself.

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Show & Tell: How to Give a Cheap Cabinet a Facelift

16 Jun

Over at Young House Love they were recently faced with a dilemma I can relate to.  Any one who has bought and set up a book shelf or cabinet knows all about the cheap cardboard backing that comes with it. They are flimsy, and do nothing to keep the shelves square to each other. But even worse they have the tell tail creases that scream ‘pre-fab, box store purchase!’ I’m going to share with you a quick and easy way to both strengthen up the cheap cabinet  and add so much character it’s drab history will forever remain your secret.

When I was setting up a room for my niece for when she came to visit,  (I’m one of those people who go above and beyond what is sane) I needed something to offer up some storage for all of the little toys and crayons we had stocked up on.

When I was clearing out the room (which had basically become a junk room) I emptied out an old tired cabinet that I had inherited from my mother. It was a cheap laminate with ugly doors that I had attempted to rescue a few years ago by painting a dark burgundy (don’t ask). I hauled it out of the apartment and asked Luke to take it down to the curb so someone who was interested in it could give it a new home.

Fortunately Luke didn’t get around to it right away and after I had walked past it a few times I started to see it in a different light. I was in the middle of painting a child’s sized table and chair set as well as retrofitting a set of hand made toy fridge and cabinet (the cabinet became a stove with some jig saw work). I loved the colours and wanted to find an excuse to slather the happiness onto another piece of work.

So I hauled the cabinet upstairs to the third floor apartment that we are currently renovating, and doubles as a work space. I wasn’t happy with that infamous cheap backing, especially since this was going to be in a room used by a child, and it needed to be sturdy. Also I had taken off the doors and wanted to make the cabinet really pop by doing something with the back. So off to the Home Depot we went.

We purchased some cheap paneling. Cheap in price: $4 for a huge piece (big enough for this project and then some) and cheap in look: fake wood grain….yuck

I went into my trusty painting kit (we have a kit for everything, electrical, plastering, plumbing).  Pulled out a roller and went off to find my HUGE tub of primer.

When you are alway renovating, this is how you buy primer. And when you have that large a tub of primer you can mix it by hand, but it’s more fun to use this handy little tool we picked up from the Dollar Store. It’s fits into a drill and is suppose to be used for the garden, but we use it to mix up everything from paint to plaster.

When you prime the paneling you want to have a good amount on the roller and make sure you get it into the recessed lines. You have to let it dry really well.

While we are waiting I’ll show you some of the main bathroom. Its the room that is closest to being done. Although this is an apartment we will be renting out eventually I still like to put in some little design quirks here and there.

Off setting the tiles and contrasting them with a grey grout worked perfectly to give basic tiles a modern look. We picked up this shower head in the clearance section. It’s not your typical ‘builder’ installation and helps to give the room a bit of character.

Because this is a rental unit we really can’t afford to sink a lot of money into the extra stuff, like bathroom shelving. So we are left with the option of using basic (and sometimes less than sturdy) items OR scouring the clearance section till we find a beauty like this. It was sold for $99 originally and we scooped it up for $20.

This is an attic apartment, so we are dealing with a lot of odd angles. The bathroom is no exception. After trying one lighting option that crowded the space above the vanity (there is a light on the walls to each side of the sink) I went online, determined to find a smaller light that would still look good. I found these reduced to $30. I think they were described as wall sconces, but I always look beyond the label.

Back to the paneling. With the primer dry I applied the paint, using a lighter coat, and being careful not to push down the roller very hard. This way paint doesn’t get into the recessed lines and they stay a nice contrasting white, with no extra work required. I did two coats, that worked for me.

With the backing ready and waiting I went to work at the cabinet itself. Sand, prime, and paint. We used some finishing nails to secure the paneling to the back and boy was it sturdy. There was no more shifting or give! Plus it looked amazing.

After the visit from Kimmy and my sister were over we changed the room into a craft room and our redone cabinet now proudly holds all my crafty odds and ends.

Do you have any tips for redoing box store furniture? Can’t wait to refinish a book shelf or cabinet? I’d love to hear from you.

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Show & Tell: Birthday Bunting Banner and Party Hats

7 Jun

I’m excited and flustered…. and embaressed.

My basket tutorial was posted over at whip up (yay!) and people are stopping over to my humble little blog. But I’m so ashamed at how empty it is! It’s like moving into a new home and inviting the neighbors over, only I don’t have anywhere for them to sit because the furniture hasn’t arrived yet.

So to everyone who has come to welcome me to the neighborhood I appreciate your patience. As a new blogger it’s going to take me ages before my online home has any of the substance and finesse of you other fine folks.

In the mean time I’m going to finish up the subject of the Birthday Package that I sent for my neice’s birthday. The baskets were the last part, before them I tackled making a Bunting Banner and Party Hats.  Both of which I followed amazing tutorials from other bloggers, with a few changes of my own.

I have a confession… the Bunting Banner= my first sewing project. It took me about 10 minutes to thread the machine when I started, by the end I could do it with my eyes closed. Maybe with a little peeking.

When my sister was just starting to think of planning Kimmy’s birthday I had come across an amazing tutorial for a birthday banner at Pickup Some Creativity. I quickly swindled her into NEEDING a bunting banner for the party and offered to make it.

Follow the tutorial and anyone (I’m proof) can have a super cute bunting banner in no time.

I took my very first trip to the fabric store (Luke was very patient as I owwed and awwwed over all the options) and picked out some coordinating fabrics.

Then I got to work sewing all of the triangles.

Here is where I deviated a little. I wanted the letters to really pop (and I had found the cutest black and white fabric on a second trip to the store). So I cut 2 1/2 inch circles out of fabric and sewed those onto the triangles first.

And then I sewed on the letters exactly as instructed in the tutorial.
After completing all of the letters (I might have adhered the a’s on backwards the first time, which might be a warning to not try and do sewing projects late at night with out the appropriate amount of caffeine).
I started sewing them all onto the Bias Tape. Which I found after a third trip… or was it a fourth?… to the fabric store. In the tutorial all of the triangles are sewn onto one piece of bias tape, I decided to divide mine in two. I measured 12 inches of my bias tape, started laying out the triangles and measured another 12 inches at the other end for each piece.
I also didn’t do the basting stitch recomended in the tutorial. I did a regular old stitch on the inside as well as the outside of the bias tape. I just don’t like having to rip out all those stitches. It looks fine this way, really you can’t notice.
This was a great first sewing project. It was straightforward and so clear with the great instructions from Pickup Some Creativity. And so rewarding, look how cute it is hanging on my wall. I can’t wait to see pictures of it in all it’s glory set up for the party.
The party hat tutorial came from Crap I’ve Made. I didn’t have the party hat mojo flowing and I had an illogically difficult time with these. I ended up having to make my own templates, one for the fabric and one to cut out cardstock for the hats. I could have bought the hats premade like Char at Crap I’ve Made… but making them was faster than a trip out for me.

I added a special detail for the birthday girl’s hat with a 2 1/2” felt circle and 2 made out of the same fabric from the banner. The little party hat on the 2 is simply a small triangle of the pink fabric sewn onto the hat and a small tuft of green yarn glued on with Fabri-Tac.

The pom poms were made using this tutorial from Kids Craft Central. Simple enough, repetitive, but simple. Ignore the squashed nature of the pom pom in the upper left corner, that was from the 2 hat sitting on top of it.

Hopefully my small additions will make Kimmy’s 2nd birthday a fun filled day for her.

Thank you for stopping by and taking a look at what I have to offer so far.

Please come by and check out all the new Tutorials, Show & Tells, FYIs and On the Lists posts as the blog grows. I’ll do my very best to fill my home with lots of interesting and useful material for everyone.

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Show & Tell: Baby Shower Cupcakes

5 Jun

My very first Show & Tell.

I wish I had taken pictures in the earlier stages of this project. But as it is, here is the closest picture I have to the beginning of the creation of these darling little cupcakes.

This is what they looked like with just the basic ‘construction’ done. This is as far as I had gotten in my preliminary conceptualizing stage. These cupcakes were for a friend whose sister had created a very unique nursery theme, something between log cabin and woodland creatures. The bear, deer, fish and moon and stars were taken directly from pictures of the nursery. It’s hard to tell, but the squares the TYLER letters rest on have a fine woodgrain pattern and slight wainscoting texture, also to mimic elements of the nursery.

After I sat and stared at what I had I started to see what embellishments would work to tie it all together.

The next day I got to see the decorations in action after I had the cupcakes baked and frosted.

I had a huge attachment to Mr. Bear. He was by far my favorite and I was sad to see him go. But he had a duty to fulfil and I could not stand in the way of his destiny.

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