Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Flower Pot Makeover

I've been wanting to grow some fresh herbs in my kitchen and needed a way to spruce up my plain pots. I started with some pots from Home Depot (about $2 each) and some extra fabric I had from some pillows I made.First, wrap the fabric around the pot to make sure you have a long enough piece. Then cut it a couple inches longer than the pot.Mod Podge a small area of the pot and start in the center of the fabric pressing it onto the pot.Work your way around the pot in small sections. Since the pot isn't a perfect cylinder, the fabric won't stay perpendicular to the pot, so that's why you have to make sure and start in the middle of the fabric.Once both sides of fabric meet, trim the ends and Mod Podge one side down to the pot. Then, fold the other side over (so there isn't an unfinished edge showing) and glue that side down as well.Trim the fabric around the bottom of the pot and make cuts every inch or so so that you can fold over the bottom.Repeat that process for the top of the pot.To finish it off, Mod Podge over the entire fabric to secure everything and create a smooth finish.This is a super easy project that you can customize to match your decor!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cake Decorating Tips

I recently took a cake decorating class and I thought I would share a few tips that I learned that are really simple, but make your cakes look really good.  For these specific tips, they apply best to a round cake.

Frosting the Cake
I never used to do this until I took my cake decorating class, but you should level the tops of both layers of your cake.  Once the layers have cooled, I do this by take a knife and cutting off the doom so the top of each layer is flat.  This makes decorating a lot easier.

When frosting the cake, do one very thin layer of icing.  This is called the crumb layer.  Put it is the refrigerator for an hour and then apply a second thicker layer.  The crumb layer keeps the crumbs in place so when you add the second layer of frosting, it will look a lot smoother.

Decorating the Cake
I recommend getting a simple cake decorating kit with a few different icing tips and icing bags.  I bought mine at the local craft store.  Experiment with the different tips to see what designs you can come up with.  A lot of the kits will come with instructions on how to use the tips as well.

This is a cake I made just experimenting with the different icing tips.

When it comes to icing, consistency is the key.  For borders and flowers, you need stiffer icing.  If your designs/borders aren't holding its shape, just add some more powdered sugar until it is to a stiffer consistency.  For writing and lines you need thinner icing.  You can make it thinner by adding a little bit of water or milk.

One of the tricks we were taught was to use cookie cutters to make imprints on your cake.  Then fill the shape in using your icing bag and different tips.  You can use cookie cutters to create all kinds of scenes on your cakes.  It is really easy and turns out looking really cute.

I used cookie cutters to create the design on this cake.
Second easy trick we learned was using piping gel to put pictures on your cake.  Piping gel is a clear gel you can buy in the cake decorating aisle.  It comes in a little tub.  Pick out a simple image you would like on your cake, like something from a coloring book with distinct lines.  Place some parchment paper on top of the picture and trace the picture with a small paintbrush using the piping gel.  (I would only use a brand new paintbrush, just saying...)  Once you have traced the picture with the piping gel, flip the paper over on top of your cake and press lightly.  Peel the paper off and the piping gel leaves a clear outline of the picture.  Use your icing bags and tips to fill the picture in.

I used piping gel to transfer this image on to my cake.
Those are just a few tips I learned in my class.  If any of you have tips for cake decorating, I would love to hear them!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Star Crayons

On a snowy afternoon, we made star crayons. They're easy, fun, cheep (free if you have old crayons to use!) and provide hours of entertainment!

Start by peeling the paper off all your old used crayons, sort them out and stick them in a muffin tin (shaped silicone pans are super fun for this project, but you can use your regular old tins too)

bake them at 200F for about an hour, until all the crayons are melted. Turn the oven off, but keep your crayons in there until they cool and become solid. (Once solid you can take them out of the oven but don't pop them out of the muffin tin until cooled....don't even think about it! Even though I know you're anxious & excited) Once completely cool, they'll pop right out of the muffin tin and it's time to color! yay!