Monday, February 28, 2011

All together now: February 2011.

This roundup of February is a bit pointless and a bit boring. But it's totally going to mess with me if I skip a month. Like lying-awake-staring-at-the-ceiling-at-two-am mess me up. It's gotta get done.

It all started here. I was through three parts of the CPA and onto the last and could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was going to have a life after 5 pm, for the majority of the year at least. I could craft and bake and do what I wanted to my little heart's biggest desire. I had toyed around with a blog for a while - I had just moved to DC after Ohio State, my friends were all over the place and I was keeping up with email and post-letter strings and it was overwhelming and I was saying the same things. I put it off though because the start of my life in DC was boring - I was studying every waking moment that I wasn't in busy season of the audit. This blog would have been a pity party.

I'm babbling though - the blog started in February 2011 and here's what was up:
          Um, yum. I need to make these again.

          These were made in a Kentucky hotel for my sister and her sorority sister for a masquerade ball.
          I kind of wish I could wear them around on the regular.

          I am in love with this guy and use him daily. I honestly get so much more out of my jewelry now that I
          can see it to accessorize it. Love love love.


Alright, alright. Not bad for starting at the end of the short month. Getting the swing of it and taking bad pictures. Don't judge too harshly.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jewelry Tree.

I cannot take full credit for this. My sister originally made this for me. She made one for me a year ago, and it had the cutest fabric on the bottom. The sticks on that one were flimsy, and I asked her to fix it, but that required making a new one. I got a new one for Christmas, but, sadly, there was no fun fabric covering the wood plank base. All I can take credit for is the decoration.


The jewelry tree is made with a wood plank base. In this case, a 2x4. Two holes are drilled into the plank. Then, sticks are gathered. She dropped some hot glue down each hole then shoved the twig in. Hot glue was used to make the frame of the jewelry tree, as well. I covered the base with tan linen leftover from hemming my curtains. I added two ribbon bows for flair. A mesh ribbon was added for my earring studs to poke through. The colorful strip is a strip of a canvas print I had made of a sunset, and holds hair clips.


i love this because it's unique every time.



The creepy eyes in the bottom corner are from a dog with a large tail as a ring holder, another Christmas present. I can't stop staring.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Masquerade.

I went to visit my youngest sister, and as she is the least crafty of the bunch (she will not take offense, no worries), she eagerly told my mum and i that she a dance was approaching for her sorority (and she needed mum to go dress shopping) and she would need a mask, as it was a masquerade (and i would need to help make the mask). I wasn't too optimistic as we had not prepared for the craftiness of this, but one trip to Walmart later, we had enough lace, ribbon, glitter paint and feather for two masks (as her roommate would also acquire assistance). I am very proud of these and wish I could myself wear them around, but, alas, that is not socially acceptable. So this poor quality picture will have to do to immortalize my masks, as I made my sister sent a phone picture before they will undoubtedly be ruined at the sorority dance (though she was quite thoughtful in giving them a solid background for the photographs).



Update!


Here's my sister and her roommate and sorority sister in their masks:


Awesome, no?!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cookie Dough Cupcakes.

I saw my cousin had made this recipe, and decided to give these a try.

Cookie Dough Cupcakes
1 recipe white cake batter
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T. granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

I got 21 cupcakes out of this mix. Admittedly, some were a bit monstrous, and I could have skimmed some batter off of those before throwing them in, but I haven't yet mastered the uniformity of cupcakes.

Prepare your favorite white cake boxed mix as directed (if you're super ambitious, I guess you could even make your own, but I'll stick with my doughboy). Set this aside. In a separate bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Beat in flour and powdered sugar. Stir in chocolate chips. Fill paper-lined cupcake cups half full with the white cake batter. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center, then cover with remaining white cake batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 17-22 minutes.


Instead of paper liners, I've invested in some silicon liners (after my sister bought me a pack of 12), and they work great! Best of all, they're reusable, and I'm all about reducing my footprint (and saving money). And to make them even better, the ones I use have a line in them to tell you how high to fill the cup (perfect cupcakes)! I use the Wilton 3-inch Reusable Baking Cups.

Buttercream Frosting
Recipe:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream the sugar, shortening, and butter together in a mixing bowl. Add milk and vanilla until creamy.

What I did:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons skim milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (approximate) meringue powder

This makes about 4 cups.

The meringue powder was added so the icing could harden and keep a little longer. The substitution of butter was solely because I was out of shortening and then forgot to pick it up at the store, too. As I was at my mum's when I made these, she had unsalted butter. Regardless, I've preferred unsalted butter for recipes since my mum first taught me her chocolate chip cookies. I think she liked unsalted butter because she felt it made the cookies a little fluffier and lighter, but I'm not positive. I'll uncover that later.

The consistency of the icing can always be altered with water. Icing is made at stiff consistency, and then can be adjusted as follows:
  • Medium Consistency: Add one teaspoon of water to each cup of stiff consistency icing
  • Thin Consistency: Add two teaspoons of water for each cup of stiff consistency icing
These tips are from The Wilton Method of Cake Decorating, Course 1: Discover Cake Decorating. My mum had my sisters and I take a cake decorating class as the local JoAnn's once, and we got the manual and a really great recipe for icing. I'll use it later when I get some almond extract. It's awesome.

So back to the cupcakes I'm working on now. The icing adaptation? Delicious, if I do say so myself. However, I am an icing fanatic (of the buttercream variety - not crazy on the whipped), so take my opinion lightly.





Reviews:
  • Roomie: She'll be my most honest critique. Usually partial to softer, 'in-the-can' icing, but really liked this icing. Moist cupcake. The bits of cookie dough are really good. Suggests chocolate or flavored icing - might be an interesting combination.
  • Dad: An icing fanatic, and the most difficult person to keep out of the mixing bowl, and he loved the icing. He also really liked the cupcake. I have to work on his critiquing skills.

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