Thursday, August 20, 2015

Coral Baby Shower Cake

Baby shower cake I made for a friend of mine. Lemon cake, lavender flavored (and colored) buttercream and homemade marshmallow fondant. I wish I got a picture of the inside. The lemon cake and lavender buttercream was beautiful.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Cat Food - Calorie Percentages

One day, as I was researching a raw food diet for my cat, I came across the following site: catinfo.org. While I wasn't ready to go the all raw route (mostly because one of my cats has kidney problems) I found the information on the commercial wet cat food quite interesting. I didn't realize how lacking most of the cat food out there is. Many companies that advertise that they are nourishing our babies are really just giving them some good stuff mixed in with a lot of unnecessary junk.

Have you ever tried to read the nutritional information on a cat food label? It's not like human labels, is it? Maximum this. Minimum that. It's confusing. I won't go into all the fun of the cat food label (you can read more about it on catinfo.org if you'd like). I will mention, though, that there is a blatant lack of carbohydrate information. As I've learned, you have to be a bit of a mathematician to figure it out. And after you do figure it out, what then? What's the best way to digest the information? I would suggest looking at the it as the percentages of calories coming from protein, fat, and carbs (the three sources of calories in food). As you can see on the catinfo.org site, she has done a lot of work to provide this information (along with additional info) to us. However, the list hasn't been updated in a very long time and I found most of the percentages out of date. I also found the site cram packed with information, but hard to digest since it's kind of all over the place. Therefore, I have taken some time to update the values and provide the information a bit differently.

I have provided the calorie percentages, kcal/oz (so we can compare them across the board), and the moisture maximum %. I include the moisture % because of the recommended tips on finding the best food for your cat (below). This is not a complete list of wet cat foods out there. I am still in the process of gathering information from websites. I am starting at brands found at Petco and Petsmart, as they are the most commonly found brands. I will brand out from there after those are complete.

Tips for finding the best food for your cat:
  • Stick to 10% or less carbohydrates.
  • Try to get food higher in protein than in fat.
  • For cost savings, stay at or below 78% moisture. Anything more than that and you're just paying for extra water.

Table: Wet Cat Food Calories by Percentage


Friday, June 19, 2015

Frozen Castle Cake

It started three years ago. My best friend had a baby and I didn't give her the option. I told her, "I'm making Nola's first birthday cake. Just so you know." Thankfully, she was fine with that. Fast forward three years to Nola's third birthday party with a Frozen theme. Before I even knew what I was going to make Nola was pumped for her birthday cake. Funny thing is, Nola doesn't really even like cake. So, I decided a castle cake would be nice and grand. Something exciting for her to look at.

This is the cake I ended up with. I wish you could see the brick impression on the picture, but you get the idea. Instead of just making a castle cake I wanted to have a bit of Elsa's frozen ice palace as well, which is what is at the top of the cake.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Scotch Bottle in Crate Birthday Cake

A friend of mine recently turned the big 4-0. I had to do something special! He's a scotch lover so I had originally thought I was going to bake him a cake/cupcakes made with scotch. But when I was looking for recipes on Pinterest, of course, I ran across the wine bottle in a crate cake. I thought, "this could also work for a scotch bottle." In the end, the cake didn't turn out exactly as I had hoped/wanted, but I was still pretty satisfied. I always forget to take pictures during the creation process, but, for the most part, I just followed the instructions on the video linked above, with a few modifications. I've outlined the process below.


Scotch bottle: I used 3/4 gum paste, 1/4 fondant (I'm frugal and knew that the bottle would still dry hard even if it wasn't completely gum paste, so I used some fondant as a filler). This particular brand of scotch is in a clear bottle with the liquid being a gold/yellow color....which is pretty much the hardest color to replicate...at least for me. Originally I attempted to do a marble look by kneading together different colored balls of gum paste (in shades of yellow and gold), but it didn't really work out very well. Oh well, I used it anyway. I covered a similar shaped scotch bottle (Macallan is bloody expensive...no one I knew had one of those bottles!) in saran wrap and a layer of cornstarch, then laid the rolled out gum paste onto the bottle (laying on it's side - I put a tea towel under the bottle so it wouldn't roll around as much). Once it was molded nicely, I cut the gum paste about midway up the bottle. Then I let it sit on the bottle for a few days. This is very similar to what was done in the video. The only difference is that I used a scotch bottle instead of a wine bottle.

After it hardened for a few days, I sponge painted on the orange coloring. This was done with small amounts of Wilton orange icing color mixed with vodka. I am definitely not an artists, but I like the way the coloring turned out. It was definitely better than the color it originally was. Finally, for the gold seal, I mixed lots of gold pearl dust with vodka and painted on a few coats in order for it to show really well.

As for the label, I cheated. I don't have a printer to use for edible printing, so I just printed it on a piece of paper and glued it on with water. I know some grocery stores can do edible prints for you, but it usually has to be non-copyrighted material....which this wasn't. In the end, no one was going to eat the scotch bottle, so I didn't think it'd matter too much (and it didn't).

Crate: Surrounding the cake itself is the 'wooden' crate. Now, this didn't come close to what I had attempted to do, but still thinks it looks pretty, so I was fine with it. I didn't have a wood imprint, like she does in the video and found a tutorial on how to make wood planks out of gum paste/fondant. So I followed the tutorial, but I think where I went wrong is that I rolled out the 'snake' vertically (thus spreading out the wood grain), rather than horizontally (which I think would have caused the wood grain to come out better). I had to roll out the gum paste pretty thin (because I didn't start with enough colored blocks...eek), so drying them for 3 days was very important.

Assembly: I iced the sides of the cake a bit more than a crumb coat, but you don't need to gob it on. It's also ok if there are crumbs cause it's going to be covered. I liked that...I'm bad at not crumbing the icing. I did use quite a bit of icing for the top, though, since I thought it would be seen. In the end, it was entirely covered with coconut so it wasn't necessary, but in terms of eating the cake, it's nice to have a bit more than just the filling. Finally, I put the bottle mold on top and surrounded it with toasted coconut. Voila!


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Utilizing a Small Space for Organization

I am admittedly a pack rat. I hate throwing things away that "could" be used for a craft I haven't thought of yet. I also tend to do projects that require tools that will hardly be used for anything outside of that project. Luckily, what keeps me from moving up to the hoarder level is my need for organization. But when you live in a 960 square foot condo with not much storage space this is difficult.

With that said, tell me, how is a pack rat, DIYer supposed to store all of her tools without a garage? I'll tell you, that question has perplexed me (and cluttered up my place) for the last 5 years, especially as my tool stockpile has increased. Thankfully, I have finally figured it out. The answer is PEGBOARD!

"Pegboard outside of a garage?" Yes.

"I've seen some pegboard set ups in kitchens, but let's be honest, they aren't exactly pretty. Do you have a laundry room or something?" Nope. I have more of a laundry closet with very little room for any sort of pegboard.

"Then, where on earth are you installing this pegboard for your tools?" Great question! I have a small room off my patio that holds my water heater. And within that room is a bare wall. Perfect for an unseen, tool organizing pegboard.

So, without further ado, here is the bare wall (can't you just hear it begging to be used for some organizational purpose?):


And here is the same wall, now much happier (and useful):

Isn't that so much better?! I can't believe I was able to remove all that from my daily living space. Too bad that means I'll probably fill the space vacated by this stuff with other clutter. But that means I'll have another project for another day. :)

What's sad is that once it was complete I couldn't wait to share my win with anyone and everyone. Am I the only one like that?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Pinterestmas 2014

This year I decided to make all my Christmas gifts for my nephew, 3 nieces, two brothers, and parents. Thanks to Pinterest I had a ton of inspiration, which actually stressed me out a bit. I'm planning on writing up more about all the gifts soon, but in the meantime, here are some pictures.

This advent calendar made completely of toilet paper rolls (along with the TP roll star) and tissue paper is where it all began. It's a la Price is Right punch game. Punch the tissue paper for the treat or small gift. Note for anyone interested in making this, not a lot of gifts are small enough to put into toilet paper rolls. I went with a lot of stamps and stickers.
Next came coasters made of more TP rolls. My brother lives in Eugene, hence the Duck logo. The other one is a bit hard to recognize, but it's the Seahawk's eye.
The Pièce de résistance was an "igloo" for two of my nieces. It's about 4 feet high and 4 feet wide. Due to transportation issues, I had to build it in two pieces and assemble it on location.
Next, my nephew has started watching Doctor Who (the best show on the planet!!) so I made him a hand-bound River Song journal and a Kindle/tablet holder complete with its own Tardis (the "painting" on both have much to be desired).

I made another hand-bound journal with a painted L for my niece Laine.

For her, I also made a jewelry holder as well as some jewelry made out of buttons. I love buttons!
For my other brother, I transferred a printed image onto canvas.
Finally, for my dad, I gave him a box of rocks...made into garden markers.