Thursday, 27 September 2012

Burberry and Longhorns... I guess they can work nicely together

I had a cake commission for last weekend. The customer contacted me and she asked for a cake that would somehow include Burberry Pattern and the Texas Longhorn orange symbol together. Although this was a slightly odd request I was interested to take on the challenge. The cake was to be a chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream. 

Trying to think of how I could combined these two very different concepts and make them into one cohesive unit for a 16 year old boys birthday I think I came to a pretty nice conclusion. The longhorn was 3D on the cake and he was eating the edge of the cake. The cake was covered with the pattern. I think this tied the two together a bit more since they were interacting with one another. 

I had a little snag at 10pm on the Friday when as both of my cakes came out of the oven looking like devil spawn. They were flat as pancakes with sinkholes and peaks like the rocky mountains, and to top it all off they were as dense as brownies. They tasted good but I couldn't put my finger on it. 

Wondering what could have possibly happened I decided to remake them. Unfortunately I only had enough eggs for one of the layers and being late at night I was forced to make the trek to Macs to pick up some more...and they were not free run. *shudder* Sorry little chickens. :( 

Upon measuring out the ingredients for the next layer I realized that I had doubled everything else but the sugar. So they were sweet and tasted good but didn't get enough of the leavening power that they needed. Sugar granules when mixed in with your batter get surrounded by the oils and other items. When cooked, this is what forms the air pockets and makes the cake nice and fluffy. When you don't mix in the sugar well enough with your fats or you reduce the amount of sugar, you can end up with a cake that looks like the baby of Chucky. 

All said and done the cake turned out great and the customer was pleased! Next time I will definitely make sure I have enough eggs on hand for any snafoo's. 




Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent

I am sure all of you have seen various versions floating around Pinterest of homemade dishwasher detergent. Since I am trying to reduce the chemicals out of my life I decided to try making one of them. 

Now most of these recipe's have Borax in them. I knew that Borax was a natural way to clean clothes but I was a little leery to try it on my dishes. After a little searching around I found a really nice post by Crunchy Betty. http://www.crunchybetty.com/getting-to-the-bottom-of-borax-is-it-safe-or-not She has researched in detail the makeup and components of Borax. It is not Boric Acid like many people think which indeed can be harmful. Instead it is Sodium Tetraborate which is a salt that is mined from the ground. One of the largest mines in the USA is in Boron, California where the "20 Mule Team" brand comes from. 

Sodium Tetraborate is actually quite safe unless consumed in large quantities. The theory that CB mentioned is that when it mixes with the acid in your stomach that is when Boric Acid is created. Now this being said with dishwashing, since only trace amounts will be left on your plates, it is probably as safe as baking soda for your body. Baking Soda can also be toxic to your system in large amounts, as well as any other salt of course. (Please see her post for details)

In conclusion I decided after reading her post as well as others, that a mixture for the dishes would be safe for my family. The recipe I decided to try was the one that is only Baking Soda and Borax. You mix equal parts of each together. Thats it. Yep... really complicated. A dishwasher will probably take about 1.5-2 TBSP of the mixture. I will let you know the results! 

Mix equal parts of Baking Soda and Borax. Use 1.5-2 TBSP per load of dishes.
** An update afterwards, the solution worked wonderfully for my dishes! They were sparkling clean and no residue was left behind. I had a lot of glass in the load as well since we had a lot of lunch containers to clean and they all came out very shiny. So my conclusion, love it!

Friday, 21 September 2012

Glitter, Sparkles and More Rainbows!

Today is our big annual Bellydance show. I am so excited! It will be about two hours of dancing from dancers all over Calgary. I am rushing around this morning trying to make sure that I have all my pieces  for my 5 costumes. I still need to stitch a few and make a head scarf for one of the outfits. On another day I will post how to properly construct your own Bellydance bra and belt since today is a bit to busy of a day. 

Yesterday, I ended up making one of those crayon drip paintings that have been all over the internet recently. Why do I need a rainbow painting on my wall? Well for starters, melting crayons was so much fun! I know everyone has made one of these but I still really wanted to try. I borrowed my man's heat gun (which he bought purely for melting stuff such as crayons) and went to town on the canvas. They melted so fast with that thing. Secondly, a friend of mine loves rainbows and I have been meaning to make this as a present for her for a while. Hopefully she enjoys it. :)

Melting crayons is fun!



Finished drips

Thursday, 20 September 2012

A Hoot of a Time and Rainbow Cake

Hello everyone, sorry I have not posted anything the last few weeks. It was pretty busy with some events at work plus getting costumes together and rehearsing for our annual Bellydance Show this friday. I have been crafting up a storm though and I probably have about 15 projects on the go with not a single one completed. I am currently on vacation so hopefully I can finish some of these up to share with you. 

Status update on my plants; the spider mites will just not give up their ground. Now in addition to the mites and the fruit flies that were already pestering my tomatoes and herbs, I have recently discovered white fly. I have noticed that all of these pests become worse every time I feed the plants with the nutrient solution. The tea/soap spray has not been very effective yet. I have heard many suggestions of Neem oil but I am also wary to spray that on the herbs as it has toxic effects if ingested. Also the whole plant absorbs it and brings the oil into its system so that worries me even if I spray the tomato plants. I have also heard that this oil can fry your plants if they are in a pretty sunny spot. Any other suggestions anyone? I have gotten a few tomatoes but definitely not the yield expected since they have been fighting these bugs. 

On another note we hosted an event for our teens at work a week or so ago. This event went over fantastically and all the girls and our volunteers seemed to have a great time. To thank my volunteers I made them some little owl trinkets out of wood and paint from this inspiring pin on Pinterest. http://pinterest.com/pin/254383078923111986/ We then attached pins to the backs so that they can be used as broaches. My Executive Director enjoyed them so much that we are going to make another 80-100 of them for table gifts for guests at an upcoming event. I better get my mother to bring in some more logs from her house in the country!

Cutest little owl broaches ever! 

Also at this same time I made a nyan cat for my younger sister's birthday party. The cake was vanilla cake with each layer a different colour of the rainbow. When we cut into it it looked like a rainbow of deliciousness. Also I made up a light cream cheese whipped cream frosting for the outside. The frosting was a medium blue colour, not true to real nyan cat's night-time background, but since we didn't want our guests to have blue mouth rot going out to the bar it thus became daytime nyan cat. Unfortunately since I avoided a fondant covering for this cake since my sister doesn't like the taste, I had a few issues of the fondant rainbow reacting with the icing later on and thus "melting." A lesson for the future for me. Heavily pigmented fondant  does not react well with whipped cream icing.  

Naked Cake

Nyan cat in the making

Pop tart body with sprinkles and black edging additions

Nyan Cat on the cake

You can see the top of the second nyan cat (there was one on each side)

Mmm Cake...

Original Nyan Cat meme

Rainbow inside