Monday, January 9, 2017

2-2017- Cake and a Super Long Post

I had an ah ha moment at the end of last year when I began thinking about this blog. When I first started it, it was a way to showcase my furniture creations and maybe somehow turn it into a magical way to make some money. That happened...sort of but it was short lived. Not because I knew I couldn't be successful over the long haul but because I'm all over the place, never want to stay in one spot or do the same thing twice.  ( I also need to mix things up to give my hands a rest from one project to the next) I realized I'm not crazy just wired like that and that's where I struggled with this blog and its lack of posts for 2016.  Most blogs have a common thread that runs thru them like a sewing blog or a knitting blog. Even when they are off the beaten path it usually relates back to their main theme. That doesn't happen in my world, I am really all over the map. Roger will ask what's for supper and I'll tell him one thing only to have him come home to something totally different. So for the blog I was slightly frustrated with myself that I don't fit the blogging mold and I apologize if you've come here to see or read about one specific thing because that ain't happenin'. :) I also felt I showed you the best of my best because that's what I think people wanted to see. That's not real life so this is going to be more of my adventures along with the good the bad and the downright ugly projects.

Roger and I were alone for the first time on Christmas day so we thought it would be fun to spend $20 on each other just to have a little something under the tree. He cheated big time and sat before me the most beautiful red Kitchen-aid mixer. Mine had died after years of service back in May and knowing my love for baking and that it's hard on my hands he upgraded from my old flip one to the Professional 5 plus series. It was pretty, I cried and I baked.
No secret that the Great British Bake Off is one of my all time favourite shows and that I've gone back to watch and re watch them on Youtube. I really do bake a lot and started to try lots of different things in 2016 like the Macaron. ( not to be confused with the macaroon) I can not tell you how many batches of those I've made to try and get the perfect foot... but I digress.
The Victoria Sponge Cake or Sandwich is an easy little cake to make or so I thought. When I first tried to bake it, the cake was dry. It seemed like I didn't have enough jam and when I had added the whipped cream just like they had done on the show it oozed out everywhere on the first cut.

Take two.

Let's start off with the positives shall we..
I used this Vanilla Cake recipe because I don't know about you but trying to bake a good vanilla cake from scratch has been hard. Chocolate no problem, but I've tried so many dang vanilla cakes recipes only to have them come out dry each and every time that I resorted back to box cake until this recipe. It's day two and still very moist. 

The jam filling. I took jam and some frozen strawberries and made more jam/sauce for my layers and then took fresh strawberries to avoid all the jam soaking into the cake and leaving nothing behind. That was one of the issues I had before. I had lots of jam for my tastes but by the time I was ready to serve it, it had disappeared into the cake. ( no it didn't help to moisten the cake, it was just dry cake with jam soaked in

Buttercream icing. Instead of whipped cream I used buttercream. I must tell you that piping things makes my hands seize up but I've come to make the icing so it's on the verge of being soft but still holds it's shape. This was to be served at potluck at church but church was cancelled due to our stormy snowy weather. I knew Buttercream would definitely stand up better then whip cream for a potluck which it did and is still doing next day!! For a home bake whip cream would still be nice.

Now for the negatives..
I made this cake in two 9 inch cake pans but the recipe calls for 8 inch therefore I had to make this recipe twice because it really needed another layer to look right. It made the cake massive. Cutting and serving this would have been a bit of a nightmare. You can't cut it into regular cake size pieces, I mean you can but it's a lot of cake. Most of which I'm sure would have seen the garbage pail because to much of a good thing is still to much. As my 19 year old son said... let me repeat that, my 19 year old son said 
"Mom to much icing" 
The cake pans themselves are two different companies and therefore made two different 9 inch cakes. So make sure you've got the same make when you bake. If you think I'm crazy go back and look, I know you can see it when you really look. One cake pan baked it darker even though they were put in at the same time and came out of the oven at the same time.  
I should have pureed the jam. Visually it would have looked better.

That piece right there, Roger and I shared that piece possibly for breakfast. I mean it had fruit and all and it was more then enough for two. :) I've judged myself for it's appearance and how I can improve it but I can say hands down that everyone who tired it throughly enjoyed it.   

Here's my ( and yours if you like) take away on this.
-Arthritic hands, no problem just adjust icing consistency 
-Less icing
-Buy or use the same make for cake pans. 8 inch would be better
-Puree Jam if using fresh fruit with it

Happy Baking!! :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

1 - 2017

Happy New Year!!
In case your wondering yes we still make Christmas gifts for one another so here's a bit of a recap of some of the things we ( Roger, Isaac and I) made this year.
There was the customized Monopoly board for Isaac's friend Marie,

( the entire thing was burned in with a wood burning tool)

the coat rack for Ashley using railway spikes the kids gathered before we moved here,

and for me, an 8 ft. bench to fit all the little bums.

Roger made it slightly higher for little people but adults can slide in and are quite comfortable as well.

He also made made smaller versions of both the coat rack and bench as gifts as well but I forgot to take pictures before they headed out the door. 

I sewed and knitted mitts for everyone. The big people received recycled sweater mitts and the little ones got knitted mittens. Again I took no pictures :( but links can be found at the bottom for the patterns.

Stockings for the wee little ones with crinkly elephants inside.

It was a busy busy Christmas :) and a great start to the New Year with family gathered around the table for games and food. 
Already my mind has been swirling for this years gifts. :)

Patterns for the mitts and elephant can be found here

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

In from the Wild.

Roger is allergic to a real Christmas tree so for years a fake one was all we had. I have nothing against fake trees in fact this year I'm partial to the white ones but I just love the smell of a real tree. Since moving here many years ago I once again could have a real tree because it sits in my living room. The door is shut to this room during the week so it stays cool enough to have the tree up already and no sneezing and sinus issues. Win, Win!
Normally we buy our trees but for a couple of years I wanted a tree that didn't come from a tree farm. I wanted one that grew in the wild and hadn't been perfectly manicured to fit the Christmas tree requirements. Google vintage Christmas trees and you'll see what I mean.

So off to my favourite in-laws to find the tree of my dreams.

I really get the whole Clark Griswold thing now. Walking thru the woods looking for just the right one until the heavens open and you see " Your " tree.

This is it!! My tree. Roger is tucked in behind and Jools is front and center waiting to help.

And help he does.

A lot. hehe

I can also tell you that what you think is the right height is way off, just ask my daughters. We brought a tree for each of them and they looked like Buddy the Elf's Christmas tree when they brought them in. A little to tall for the room. Oops.

So here it is my perfectly perfect tree!! It just touches the ceiling.(insert giddy laughter)

I just can't stop smiling when I sit and bask in its Christmassy glory.

Today is also my birthday and look what those two favourite in-laws got me for my birthday!
Vintage goat skin gloves!!!!

They came in this wonderful box all wrapped in tissue. Eek!! what a great day so far. :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

8 Months and Counting

Yup it's been that long. I didn't mean for that to happen it just did. There has been another baby added and another on the way in a couple of weeks. That's three new kids on the block for this Christmas and in case you lost track it makes 7 in total. Debbie and Pops' house becomes a happening place to be when everyone is home.
So the newest member is also also going to be a new adventure for M'lynn and Taylor so we've been collecting and handing down items from cousins. A shower added a few more things and Pops scored a few freebees at work in the way of some dressers. Two went to be built in at Amy's house and one I redid for M'lynn.

Groovy eh?!

It was basically a blank canvas with a bit of varnish because they had been built into the wall.

Sidenote- Finding furniture to paint has become a bit of like finding a needle in a haystack. Firstly it's become really expensive to buy a secondhand piece and my own home has just enough...ok well maybe to much fun finds to justify buying something even when it's a deal.  Some of my finds have made it to find new homes but I just don't have the space to store furniture until it does. I tried custom work but found its not for me."sigh"

For our new little boy to come here is his dresser.

It's more navy then the royal blue it looks like and is a paint of my own design. A little bit of this and that to get the colour I was going for. It's a homemade chalkpaint and waxed with my own wax recipe.
The top was stained and varnished as are the handles.

The drawers have been lined with a wallpaper I had on hand and are adhered with carpet tape so it's not permanent and can be changed out later. 

Cost to do- maybe $2.00. I had everything on hand. 

This is a plain solid wood dresser and is kind of a depart from some of the more ornate things I've done in the past. I'm finding myself being drawn to this simple style more and more this year, so you know what that means...time to change my house!!! :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How to fit Five People in One Room

My house will be full this weekend and with all available beds taken we needed to come up with a way to fit a family of five into one room.
Roger and I had talked about this last year when we found out about our latest addition (Baby James) and that our current sleeping arrangements would need to change when everybody visits. 
So here is our plan. Custom made bunks!

We used two by fours, plywood and mattress foam. Roger made a simple design that can easily be unscrewed when they are no longer needed or we need to move them. We cut them to measure five feet long which gives them plenty of growing space but still leaves room to move around the room.  These beds would make a easy addition to a cottage or bunkhouse as well. We laughingly said we have the room we could go three beds high which can be done if your short on space but have plenty of height. 

The total cost including the foam was $160.

Believe it or not there is also a playpen and a rocker in this room and I can hardly wait for the little ones to try out our bunks. :)

P.S. Roger tried the top bunk and I tried the bottom so besides being a little on the short side they are more then sturdy enough if longer is what your looking for. 
P.P.S. Check Pinterest out for other bunk ideas!!!

Foam was bought at Len's Mill Store
Wood was bought at Rona

Monday, March 14, 2016

Blame it on the Woodstove.

It's been three whole months since I appeared here and my disappearance was due to some bodily rest. Since finding out at Christmas that my vitamin d levels were still loowwww it has taken a toll on my health in the form of osterarthis. My hands really don't function like they use to so projects are slow and sometimes sit there for weeks while I move to something else to rest my hands. Not that this is a sob story by any means just an explanation. I'm getting into a better groove of things and will have outfit and furniture posts plus some tales to tell. This just happens to be my first tale to tell.

In the fall we put a wood-stove in. With all the free wood we were and are going to get it only made sense to heat our home with wood. For the majority of our married life we've had a wood-stove so having one is nothing new and boy did I miss the cozy warm heat it gives. In this house for the past seven years we hummed and hawed about where to put one and finally decided in our basement directly under our dining room. (free wood will always give you a much needed push) We found this awesome grate last summer to help bring the heat up at a really good price. We cut and plopped it in the floor. I say that like it was easy. It was not since the cut had to be perfect and the grate stay flush with the existing floor boards.

So with all those warm cozy feelings, my wood-stove has started to impart a more simple life.

 For almost 3 years 95% of my clothes are either thrift or up-cycled  and I'm always on the hunt for thrift store fabric to sew up my vintage looking wardrobe. The longing for more simple doesn't mean my sewing won't still reflect the vintage wear I love so much. In my opinion I'm just that more authenticly vintage. HaHa! 
My shift into canning more and sourcing my goods more locally has become pretty important. When your body starts to do funky things you start thinking about what your feeding yourself and what can you do to make it better. A couple of years ago I had watched Wartime Farm  and they mentioned that after the war the British people were actually the fittest and healthiest they had ever been. This has stayed with me and really made me start to think about where my food comes from. If this is when an entire country was labeled as being it's healthiest and obviously everything was grown and raised pretty locally I'd say that it's a pretty good endorsement for the "Eat Local" mantra.  Growing up on farm you know exactly where its coming from but living in town I now want to be able to go to the source. Luckily for most everything I can and I can see some field trips happening to show you just that.

So as I branch off into this new/ age old lifestyle I shall take you along on my journey of sourdough bread and komboucha making. I'll share with you my gardening trials in a small space plus the other fun stuff we do around here like this Christmas present Roger made for Ashley and Darryl.

He's made another one and has wood to make more. Hopefully I can show you how he's made this simple table/bench in the future.  In the meantime we've got some cute custom made bunk beds for some cute custom made kids that is sitting in pieces that need to be put together.  :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Jammie Dodger/ Fruit Creme Knock Off

A long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away.... It feels like I've been gone for months from my little old blog but what really happened was Roger was laid off. That means in my world you get everything that you can possible get done before winter snow flies because you don't know when he'll be called back. It meant for us putting in a wood stove so finally my big old house can be warm and cozy. It also meant piling wood in the basement, going thru Christmas lights and hanging them up on one of our freakish warm days in November which now brings me to September. Isn't time travel great!!
Back in September while watching an episode of Doctor Who, the eleventh Doctor has in his hand a Jammie Dodger for a split second. From my view point it was a Peak Frean, Fruit Creme. Now I do watch these shows fairly fast so you may correct me if I'm wrong and maybe this cookie is one in the same. Either way it got my mind a thinking.
Isaac loves these boughten cookies but I don't buy them all that often. I really don't buy cookies in general so I wondered if I could knock these cookies off. 
Pinterest showed me sugar cookies with jam but not the creme filling I wanted to add like the Fruit Creme. Then I found one cookie that had lemon butter creme and jam and I felt like I was getting closer. What I wanted was a cookie that had icing like an oreo cookie that wouldn't ooze out when I bit into like a butter creme might. It also had to stand up to being made the day before, not make my cookie soggy and had to travel well.
From my Pinterest fail of the Oreo knock off I thought just maybe the icing from that would work and in the end I got exactly what I was looking for. Here's how to make your own.

Pick your favourite sugar cookie recipe (I think everyone has at least one favourite in their recipe box) and cut out your cookies. 
I cut out my cookies with a small biscuit cutter then took a large piping tip and cut out my centers, but pretty stars or hearts would be darn cute.

Here are the bottoms.

I did used the oreo icing using lemon juice as my liquid...

and added a dollop of raspberry jam. You most definitely could use any jam.

And ta-da!! Your own Fruit Creme Cookies.

These are going to make it onto the annual cookie Christmas list. :)

P.S. He's back to work.