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 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 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?

Book Review: White Awake by Daniel Hill

White Awake: An Honest Look at What it Means to be White by Daniel Hill What brought me to this book? White Awake was one of the f...