Sunday, April 24, 2011

Recipe: Happy Easter!

Easter is a wonderful holiday.  Not only is it one of the remaining times of the year where everything is closed, but it heralds Spring.  Yes, Spring is technically already here, but it is never really warm until after Easter.
The food is also wonderful: ham, scalloped potatoes, eggs for brunch, chocolate and Carrot Cake!  I adore carrot cake.  I love that it can be a humble tea loaf or an extravagant tiered cake.
Even though we have no plans for the holiday in this new city, I decided it wouldn't be right without some carrot cake.  With Orange Cream Cheese frosting of course!  If I could eat the frosting all by itself, I yummy.

Lemon Zest would work just as well, however the Tangelos were on sale and
are wonderful to eat after the zest is removed.

Tea loaf for a Sunday afternoon.
Carrot Cake Loaf with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

3/4 cup               unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups          flour
1/2 cup               walnuts or pecans, toasted
1 1/4-1/2cups     grated carrots (about 2 medium carrots or 11/2 large)
1/2 cup               shredded coconut
2                         eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup               buttermilk
1 tsp                   vanilla
1 cup                  sugar
1 tsp                   baking powder
1/2 tsp                baking soda
1/2 tsp                salt
1 tsp                   cinnamon
1 tsp                   ginger

Preheat oven 325*  and grease a 9x5 loaf pan.  In a medium bowl, stir together carrots, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, sugar and coconut until well combined.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.  Fold dry mixture into wet until combined.  Fold in melted butter and nuts.
Bake approximately 1 hour 15minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool in pan 15 to 20 minutes.  Turn out and cool completely before frosting.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 brick of cream cheese
1 cup sifted icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
grated orange rind ( I chopped mine finely so it would be a speckle in the frosting)

Cream together butter and cream cheese until soft and no lumps remain.  Add vanilla, salt and zest.  Stir in icing sugar until combined.  If a stiffer frosting is desired, add another 1/4 cup of icing sugar.

Enjoy and Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April Blues

This month has certainly been disappointing in the weather department.  It has slowly worn down my mood as we near the end of the month with constantly dreary skies and temperatures barely above zero.  This is the time of year when I think we all start looking around us and realize that spring cleaning isn't enough.  New colours, new paint, new cushions....I want them all!  Even if money wasn't an issue (HA!) is that really an option?
This is where you have to look around and see what you can do with what you've got.  Luckily, I have about six white cotton panels that were curtains in our previous home.  The stagers took them all down and replaced them with sheers.  I haven't used them here in the condo as the window situation is so different.  So they have sat in the cupboard for the better part of a year.
Last week, I started cutting them up and using the fabric for cushion covers, table runner, scarf and napkins.  I still have two panels left.
To show what I have done with the fabric, I'll first show my inspiration.

I love blue and white and even though I wasn't planning to change the grey curtains, this photo just looked so crisp and I loved, loved, loved the cool feel.

I guess it is obvious that I love white interiors?  So, armed with black fabric paint, blue Rit dye and my sewing machine, I have been sewing and painting new cushion covers, dying napkins and even a new scarf.

Here, I've covered the wee cushion that came with my Ikea chair.  On Kimberleys' beautiful blog: Restoration House, she has a link to the CityTV segment that shows the 5 minute cushion cover.  So super easy to make, that I think I might have to use the rest of the fabric to make some blue cushion covers as well.  I bought both 'Denim Blue' and 'Navy blue'.  So far I've only used the denim and I love it.  My white kitchen counter tops are not going to fare well during this obsession!

These cushions might need the blue treatment too.  I don't feel they look finished right?  I may love white, but this is a bit washed out.  It needs more of this:

The fabric on the left will be a runner for the table and on the right is a scarf.  I tied the fringe on the ends for a bit of decorative finish.  It also prevents the threads from coming out.

Napkins!  Next, I want to actual try to get the intensity of the blue in the curtains shown above.  I think a double dose of the navy dye might be the trick.  I'm envisioning it being tricky to keep the white, white.  If anybody has tips or tricks for that....let me know.
I will post photos of the loveseat again once it's gotten 'the treatment' 

Friday, April 08, 2011

Blue Orchid Wedding

I have the pleasure of making wedding cupcakes with a six inch topper cake for a couple getting married this July.  They were here this week with their adorable daughter to see some prototypes and eat some cake.  I did two 5" samples with some gum paste toppers to get their feedback and make sure I was on the right track.

Now I need to get the flowers shaded and make lot's of filler flowers to make the bouquets.  I find arranging the flowers one of the hardest parts as these flowers aren't flexible like real flowers.  I wish there was somewhere here in Ottawa that had the kind of classes where I could learn things like the arranging.  There is a fabulous sounding class at Flourconfections in Pickering, but not only is it out of my price range at $875 - it's four hours away.    Trial and error at home it is!