Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Bees Knees of Cakes

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Another Thanksgiving come and gone. It stresses me out to think Christmas is right around the corner. To all of those crazy people who have their Christmas shopping done already... how are you so organized??

My most important contribution to Thanksgiving this year may have been this beehive cake I made. You see, in addition to celebrating Thanksgiving, we always celebrate my uncle's birthday. This year my uncle's birthday fell right on Thanksgiving. So in addition to making deviled eggs, I volunteered to bring a birthday cake. I had the perfect cake in mind.

Quite awhile back, I had pinned this cake on Pinterest- a beehive cake. I immediately thought of my uncle, who somewhat recently, took up beekeeping. This cake sat in my Pinterest to-do pile for months before I finally got the chance to go for it.

My first step was to construct the beehive. I didn't want the cake to be overly huge since it would be competing with Thanksgiving pies. My goal was to use one recipe's worth of cake. To accomplish the job I pulled out all of my mini cake/pie pans, plus a few Pyrex containers.


I was very close to going with a boxed mix of red velvet cake, but at the last minute changed my mind. Because I had quite a bit of whole wheat flour that needed to be used I searched around for a whole wheat cake recipe. That's right - whole wheat. Surprisingly I found a few, but Joy the Baker won me over with her Honey Whole Wheat Pound Cake recipe. Bees = honey.

The recipe made a decent amount of batter that I used to fill my various sized cake pans. I ended up with quite the assortment.

plus a couple more not pictured!

To shape the beehive I simply started with the largest cake, and built upwards. The top layer was trimmed down slightly more than the others.


Here is where I and the original beehive recipe diverged.  The original recipe tells you to sort of shape the beehive by using a spatula against the icing. I figured this would be my downfall as I am not very good at smoothly icing cakes.

Exhibit A:


The crumbs ruin everything. This is the primary reason I decided to cover the whole cake in fondant. Creating coils of fondant icing seemed far easier than smoothly icing a cake.



By the way, this was my second time using the Duff brand pre-made fondant and  I continue to be pleased. It's slightly pricey but with a 40% off Michael's coupon I think it's worth it for smaller projects.

I'll pause here for a moment to go over the construction of the bees. Those little bees make the cake.

Using some yellow colored fondant I formed a bunch of these Mike and Ike-looking guys.


Spitting image, right?

Originally my plan was to use an edible marker to draw black lines on the bees. But I was not happy with the results. I don't think I'll use them again. Yes, they work. But the color is much more bold and even if you just use colored fondant. So Plan B won.


After a couple episodes of Love It or List It and making yellow Mike and Ikes and bee wings, I finally had a small army. Yes, there was some cursing along the way when wings would fall off. But eventually I got there. I was well on my way.


Ok, not rewind back to the cake making. After using the yellow coils to create the beehive, the individual bees came in handy to cover up blemishes. The rest I stuck in the cake using their kabob sticks.


That was really mostly it. After getting past the time consuming process of making the bees, the rest of the cake got put together fairly quickly. The final touch was a little "Don't Worry Beez Happy" sign we picked up.



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm not one to be super wordy, so lets just say I have lots to be thankful for. I can't believe the year is almost coming to an end. And looking back, I certainly can't complain.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. May you celebrate the holiday in good company, with a full plate of food and a seemingly bottomless glass of wine :)

Here's an oldie but goodie from last year.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Wedding Tree Guestbook

This weekend two of our friends from college tied the knot. The wedding was at the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore and every detail of their wedding was as creatively planned out as their venue. It was incredibly personalized and impressive. And I wish I had 1) explored the museum and 2) taken more pictures. I was not on my game.

Instead of a traditional guestbook, the couple wanted their guests to fingerprint a tree. I love this idea! Yet another reason why I'm sad Pinterest was not around when I got married.  Etsy has a number of artists selling these tree guestbooks. Lots of variations on this idea. You can even ask your guests to fingerprint balloons. People are so clever.


When I was asked if I could draw a tree for this I, of course, said yes. I didn't guarantee it would be awesome. But I would definitely try it. This was my first serious ink/marker drawing and I was slightly nervous. Ink is so... permanent. You can't erase or paint over mess-ups. Mess-ups require starting over.

After getting over my fear of failure, this ended up being a fun little project. Naturally, I first lightly sketched things out with (erasable) pencil to make sure I liked where I was headed. I did a lot of Googling for images of trees. Since Hurricane Sandy gave me the gift of time I was able to finish this rather quickly. In a matter of days! That almost never happens.

This was my sneak peak during the hurricane...


I was able to finish just before the winds got scary that night and before the heavy light flickering. I was pleased with the results.


Luckily my friends were also pleased and my drawing made it to the wedding. I even got to see it in action.


I particularly like how people made sure to space out their prints appropriately. Well done people. Well done.


It was awesome to have been able to contribute something to this special wedding. I celebrated by having another glass of wine and making my way to the dance floor.

Congrats again to the newlyweds!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Day

Only less than 24 hours left until the campaign ads are over. We can do this people.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hunkering Down

If you've watched any of the Hurricane Sandy coverage you know that the number one thing you should have been doing to prepare for the storm was hunker down. And, indeed, that is what I did.

Sandy resulted in two days off of work for me. While I spent a majority of my time watching storm coverage, watching the lights flicker, checking the basement for leaks, and just, overall, being on edge, I found lots of time to catch up on stuff around the house. Aside from the hurricane going on outside, it was actually quite pleasant.

In addition to washing all of our dirty laundry, I worked through some art projects that I've accumulated. Eventually I'll share the finished result of each. But both are for other people, so I want to make sure each reaches their respective person first. :)


I also came to the realization mid-day yesterday that my hobbies are so... shall we say, "traditional"... that I could actually do them without electricity. And without other people. I'm not sure what this says about me.


We never did lose power. I'll have to pull the plug on my bathtub full of water. But I'm okay with that!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Doors for Charity

I was asked to paint some doors for a local charity gala. I wish I could say that my contribution for this  event would directly be raising money. But it's not. This is more of an aesthetic donation... a sitting-in-the-background-and-being-pretty donation. Decorations are important too :)

The doors I was working with were these old closet doors. Their purpose is to hide some unsightly items.


I was asked to paint them in a Japanese theme. Things that come to mind are: bamboo, cherry trees, and other nature-like things. Like this:


Selfishly, I didn't want to spend more than a few hours on this project, so I went with a simple cherry tree theme. Here's the little sketch I drafted up. Yes, there are all sorts of copyrighted images. I get it. But this is for charity. It's cool.

First step was to paint the doors black. Luckily we had plenty of black paint left over from the garage project. And it was glossy. It was pretty much made for this project.


Before starting I debated with myself if it would be easier to start with a black canvas, or sketch out my image and then paint around it in black. The black canvas won. However, I knew I was going to be in for a couple layers of the white paint. Luckily they make paint for that purpose. It's called primer. And we have lots of that too!


And so i started painting away. It's actually quite fun to paint on such a large canvas. I need to do this more often. After one coat, my painting was looking as expected: streaky.


But a few coats later: success.


Step two was to add a bit of color. I rummaged through my paint box and found some paints to do the job.


Oh, wait. Backup. I did go back and prime out some flowers. This helped the red color pop more than it was doing directly on the black. And here we have it. All done.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

PicMonkey: Halloween Edition

Two back-to-back posts. How unlike me!

I often use the free photo editing capabilities of PicMonkey. I especially like them to create simple photo collages, which is something that's more tedious to do in Photoshop. Anyhow, they have some Halloween filters available to get you in the holiday spirit.

Introducing.... Meatsie the Vampire. No need to turn myself into a vampire when I have a dog readily available.

Seriously, hours of fun.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Garage Glitter

We've been in the new house for about a month and a half now. Of all the projects we decided to tackle first, it was the garage. Who doesn't want a nice looking garage?

This project started with a gifted box of leftover RustOleum Garage paint and lofty dreams of transforming the garage from the dirty, bug graveyard that it was, into something... clean. We would paint the floor, paint the walls, and then put up some nice shelving and organize. And then we realized that all of this would be easier to do before moving in all of our tools and usual garage items. Like they say... there's no time like the present.

This is what we had starting off:


Obviously, the serious issue was the bugs.

So we pulled out the Shop Vac and did some heavy cleaning. The transformation had begun.

Here are a couple more before pictures as we started to paint.


Multiple weeks later we were done. Yes, multiple weeks, all for a garage. We spent a weekend prepping the walls. A weekend painting the walls. Weekends started to blend together. Then the floor had to be cleaned with a warning label-ridden concrete cleaner.

Finally, we got to the point where it was time to paint the floor. Mike painted while I sprinkled the glitter (or as Mike calls them, more plainly: flakes). This was the highlight of the project. Picture me tossing these flakes in the air like I was showering someone with rice at their wedding. It was a great time!


After some drying time and what seemed like entirely too long to be spending on a garage..... we finished. Hooray! We haven't parked the cars in here yet, but we'll get there.


Another one of my favorite features is the black trim. I've always wanted to try out black trim but have never been brave enough to do it inside the house. So we did it outside. Eventually we'll add some trim around the windows too. Details matter!


 One last picture of the glitter:


Of course since finishing, the stinkbugs have emerged in full force. We are trying our best to keep the infestations to a minimum. But it's difficult. They are some tricky little fellas...


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Favorite Thing This Weekend

It's already Tuesday? Man, these weeks fly by.

So my new favorite thing might be hitting up the flea markets. We went to one on a whim this past weekend and ended up going home with this guy! Or gal, actually. Her name is Alice.

alice shelf2

Alice is currently sitting in our hallway/entryway. I have an overwhelming desire to get the hallway painted immediately so that Alice has a nice place to sit. I haven't been this excited about a purchase in awhile.

Here's the website of the talented fellow who made Alice. I'm already eying up the dining table.