Monthly Archives: October 2013

Homemade Pumpkin Patch Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Icing

IMG_2034These yummy cupcakes are a fun treat to help ring in Fall or great for a Halloween party.  They are perfect to bring to a party as well.

What you will need:

-Regular and mini cupcakes

-Green licorice or other stem like green candy

-Buttercream icing, icing bags and tips, orange and green food colorings.

-Orange colored sugar

-Green Tray or Green paper wrapped piece of cardboard to display them on

IMG_9168 IMG_9078Before I go into the recipe I have to share our adorable holiday aprons with you.  I think you will love them as you prepare for all of your holiday crafting and baking! You can purchase the Santa Aprons in matching designs for Men, Women, children and even dolls.  You can also get the aprons personalized for an extra special touch with a  name, monogram or other cute saying.  Don’t forget to get the Half Elf Aprons for all the helpers too! Elf aprons come in Womens, childrens and 18 inch doll aprons that fit most American Girl dolls or our own Summers Closet dolls. Just click on the picture to visit our shop.

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Recipe for Homemade vanilla cupcakes: Mix 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour and 3/4 tsps salt. Add and mix 1 cup sugar. Add and mix with electric mixer with whisk attachment, 1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 tsps warm milk, 2 large eggs, 1 stick of butter, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. add and mix 1 1/2 tsps baking powder. Mix for 30 seconds. Pour the batter into regular and mini cupcake holders that are lined with paper liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes in a preheated oven at 350 degrees.

Recipe for Homemade Buttercream Icing:

Mix 3 cups confectioners sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract with an elctric mixer with a whisk attachment.  Add 1/3 cup boiling water gradually making sure the icing doesn’t get too thin. Whip until smooth.  Add and continue whipping 1 1/2 cups shortening, 3/4 stick of chilled butter cut into pieces. Whip until light and fluffy.

 

IMG_2035Bake cupcakes per directions and let cool.  Create Icing per directions. Separate a small amount in a separate bowl and dye green.  Place this icing in a pastry bag with a small regular piping tip.  Dye the remainder of the icing orange.  Place the orange icing in a  tip less pastry bag to help ice the tops of the cupcakes in large rounded mounds.  Spread this icing out with a smooth knife.  Place the remainder of the orange icing into a pastry bag with a small regular tip and ice line from the center to the edges like pumpkins.  They don’t have to be perfect since all pumpkins look a  little different and if they are too uniform they will look less realistic.  Sprinkle the tops with the orange sugar.  Cut a small stem from the licorice and poke into the center of the cupcake. You can also just make an icing stem if you don’t have the licorice.  Place all the finished cupcakes on your tray in a non uniform way to resemble a pumpkin patch.  Mix the large cupcakes with the mini ones on the tray.

IMG_2036Use your green icing to pipe lots of fun vines and leaves connecting the pumpkins.  You can use excess icing to pipe Happy Harvest or some other message on the edge of your tray for a final touch!

Old Fashioned Caramel Apples

IMG_2048Caramel apples are one of my favorite things in the Fall.  It is also one baking project that my boyfriend likes doing with me which makes it even more fun and festive and gets me in Fall mood.  I love the time of year when the air gets crisp and you can feel the weather drop just a little and I swear you can feel Fall in the air.  Now, I live in sunny South Florida so thats about all I get since I don’t get to enjoy the leaves changing and the temperature dropping enough to wear long sleeves even.  Here its the occasional day when it is only 80 something degrees out instead of 90 something that makes us feel like Fall. But I will take what I can get.  It also is sort of the door way to Christmas for me.  I worked in retail for over 8 years and even that didn’t kill my love for Christmas.  Once we put away the pumpkins it is on to Christmas for me.  I know it seems early but I like to enjoy it for as long as I can.  When December 26th comes around, I am ready to put everything away and do a thorough “Spring” cleaning.

IMG_9074IMG_9066Don’t forget to check out our cute aprons to help keep you clean and stylish during all of your holiday baking and crafting. We have adorable Santa aprons for men, women, children and even dolls. Or if you want something a little more festive you can get our half Elf Aprons for women, children and dolls that even have jingle bells at the bottoms!

IMG_2050Anyway, on to the recipe.  This year we made an old fashioned caramel that was different but still absolutely delicious.  It was much darker and a little more brittle than the regular caramel recipe I usually make.  I will list both recipes so you can choose which you would like to make.

You will need:

-Granny Smith Apples , you can use other apples but I highly recommend Granny Smiths since the tart to sweet ratio is perfect

– Toppings of your choice to dip them in.  Our favorite is crushed peanuts and chocolate crushed or drizzled on,

IMG_2051Old Fashioned Caramel Recipe

-1 cup Butter

-2 cups Brown Sugar, we made our own with white sugar and molasses which is what gave the caramel such a dark, strong, old fashioned flavor. 2 cups white sugar mixed with 1/2 cup molasses. Try less molasses for a lighter brown sugar which results in a lighter milder caramel.

-1/2 cup corn syrup

-1 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp baking soda

-1 tsp vanilla extract

Wash apples and put a wooden skewer or round craft stick into the top center.  You could also use chop sticks if you don’t have skewers.  We added some cute little flags to the top of the skewer with a little washi tape. Prepare a cookie sheet with wax paper.

IMG_2049Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, salt. Stir and then bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Boil without stirring for 4 mins. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla.

 

 

IMG_2047Dip the apples thoroughly in the caramel.  Use a spoon to help get the caramel on the top. Return the caramel to low heat while you are doing this step if it starts to thicken up too much.  Dip them into your toppings about half way, spooning the topping on if necessary. Continue with all your apples laying them up right on the wax paper. Place in the refrigerator until the caramel is hard, usually overnight is best.

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IMG_2053Make sure you let the apples sit out of the refrigerator for a little bit to soften the caramel before you try to slice them.  I like to serve them sliced as they are so much easier and less messy to eat.

 

The regular caramel recipe is:

-1 cup butter-2 cps light brown sugar
-1/2 cp corn syrup
-1/4 tsp cream of tartar,
-1 tsp salt                                                                                                                                                   -1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat butter, sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar, and salt on high heat. Stir.  Cook without stirring about 4-6 minutes until the mixture is dark brown. remove from the heat, stir in vanilla. continue with recipe the same as the old fashioned recipe.

We also used the left over caramel and poured it in a small dish with sides that we lined with wax paper. then we topped it with the left over toppings and refrigerated it until it was hard. Then we cut it into pieces (it broke more than cut) and served it as caramel candies!

Tiling a Shower with Large and Decorative Tiles

IMG_8989Our renovation project today I’m sharing with you is one part of many posts about renovating a bathroom. This part is about using large tiles, in our case 18 inch greyish porcelain tiles to tile a shower and lower wall of a bathroom.
First we removed all the old tile. We did this by taking a hammer and flat screwdriver and placing the flat screwdriver up against the edge of one tile and tapping the handle with a hammer. You continue to do this until the tile pries up. It will usually pry up in pieces.  If the tile is really tough you may need to hit the whole tile with the hammer to try and crack it and then continue to pry it loose.  Make sure you wear protective goggles and have on gloves and thick long sleeved clothing to help prevent injuries.  The pieces may fly at you and can be dangerous.  It is not a quick job and you need to make sure you take your time.

IMG_8609Be sure to check out our personalized robes for the whole family.  We have soft ultra cuddly robes for men, women, children and even dolls.  Sheer lingerie robes for women and cute flannel robes for everyone on your gift list like this cute polka dotted black flannel robe.  You can also get most of the robes embroidery personalized with a monogram, cute saying or name.  They make a unique and personable gift for any occasion.

 

 

 

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Before

The tiles we removed in this project came up relatively easy compared to some tile I have removed.  A couple of pieces I had to use a hammer on, which resulted in a little damage I had to patch up to the soft drywall underneath it.  Often I have found, you may need to replace the drywall, hardibacker or green drywall anyway due to water damage and mold, or replacing plumbing fixtures.  In this case, we just had to remove one piece where we replaced the faucet mechanisms and patch another piece on the other side.  After you remove the tile, you may need to scrap any really rough pieces of glue that are left on.  A little bit of glue shouldn’t hurt your new tile.  We pulled out the old broken jucuzzi tub and replaced it with a new soaking tub.  We ended up having to smash the old fiberglass tub in pieces to get it out of the tight area.  You need to make sure you disconnect all electrical, water and plumbing properly before attempting any of this.  The new tub we chose was an inexpensive plastic material which is much easier to carry due to the weight.

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Removing old fixtures

I definitely recommend getting at least a soaking tub which is much deeper and nicer for an adult to actually take a bath in, and doesnt take up much more space than an average tub.  The tub took a little finagling to get it in properly in the tight space, but we finally managed to figure out the best angle to get it in place.  Since this tub has an attached skirt we had to have the new drain plumbing properly prepared before placing the tub in place measuring it to be exact it would all line up.  Once we placed the tub, we had to attach the drain and over flow from the inside of the tub and the small space where we had to remove the hardi backer to replace the new faucet fixtures.  After we finished all of this, we replaced the old faucet, spout and shower head fixtures and built our built in shower shelf.  See our other blog posts for more instructions on how to do this.  Then we replaced the hardi backer, and we were ready to tile!

IMAG0802The large tiles make a nice shower that is much easier to clean than little tiles since it has much less grout.  (They are a lot harder to lay if you have a very un even wall, like most walls I have found in houses so far!) Smaller tiles give more forgiveness, but I still prefer larger tiles for showers.

 

IMAG0798You have to do the large tiles row by row starting at the bottom and working your way to the ceiling in our case.   Once you cut and lay one row of tile you need to let it dry before attempting the next row since the tiles are so heavy.  Since we also tiled the lower portion of the bathroom wall behind the toilet and vanity, we also did the first row of it to speed up the process and give the other tile some time to set.  Once the first row is cut and layed and set enough that it wouldn’t move, we cut  and layed the second layer.

IMAG0801 I have a small electrical tile saw I bought at Home Depot for under $100 that has come in quite handy for all my tile jobs.  It can cut ceramic, porcelain and even granite tiles as long as you have a decent blade.  The tile saw uses water to cut to keep the saw and tile from heating up too much while you are cutting such a hard surface.  The water also helps to prevent major dust from the tile being cut.  It is best to try and plan where your tiles will end up regarding your plumbing when you are dealing with such large tiles.

IMAG0803Cutting holes into porcelain and stone tiles is a very difficult task that you need an expensive diamond whole saw bit and lots of time and patience.  I hate this task and try to plan the placement of tiles to where all I have to do is use my tile saw to cut corners off of tiles to make room for the fixtures to protrude through.

IMAG0804I like using the pre mixed tile glue rather than the mortar you have to mix.  I prefer this on most any tile job from mosaics, bathrooms, back splashes, even small floors. To adhere the tile to the wall you first measure and cut it to the specifications you need.  Make sure you double check it before adding glue to make sure it fits properly.  You need to cut as you go and not cut too many pieces in advance.  Using a tile trowel with a notched edge apply a layer of glue to the back of a tile and use the notched edge to run raised lines all throughout.  This helps the glue stick to the wall properly. Lay the tile where it should be placed and slightly twist it back and forth making sure it is properly in place.

 

IMG_8988You need to continue the same process line by line all the way up to the ceiling.  I highly recommend framing in the whole window frame as well if you have one in the shower.  It looks so much nicer and helps prevent water damage.  Don’t forget to frame in your recessed shower shelf if you built one using the ideas from our other post.
Adding a row of decorative tiles helps break up the solid look and a lot of design for not too much buck.  We used 12×12 sheets of a beautiful glass and stone mixed long skinny tiles and cut them in half to make a 6 inch tall border about eye level on all three sides of the shower.  I placed them after two rows of the large tiles so I wouldn’t have to make any additional cuts in the large tiles.  Make sure you thoroughly let these dry before laying the net layer of large tiles, as the weight will push them down and make your spacing uneven.

IMG_8989Last comes the grouting.  You need to wait 24-48 hours and sometimes more for very humid areas, before you grout to let the glue completely dry.  You can see more about grouting in our other videos and posts from our mosaic series as well.  On these tiles we used non sanded grout since our grout lines were less than an 1/8″ thick.  If they are wider you need to use sanded grout.  Mix it with water and we also added a little of the additive we bought that helps prevent mold and mildew, until it is a consistency about like mayonnaise.   Spread it back and forth over the tiles making sure to get it in all cracks completely with a rubber tile float.  Scrap off the excess back into your bucket and let sit for a few minutes.  Use a damp sponge and a bucket of water to carefully wash off the excess grout.  Let dry overnight and wipe again with a damp cloth, when this dries polish off the excess grout dust with a dry cloth.

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Autumn Decorating Guest Post by Donna Krumbine

When I was 11, my Grandparents took my sister and I on an Autumn trip to see the leaves change color in West Virginia. As a Florida girl, I was instantly entranced by the beautiful colors, and the crispness in the air. My Dad filmed high school football games while we were growing up He would rotate taking his daughters to the games with him as his “assistant”. That was usually my cue that it was Fall. The air felt a little cooler, a slight change to the sweltering Florida heat. This trip showed my though that I LOVE Autumn! With my love for Autumn came a variety of different wreaths to make. Here are a sample of a few.

I love the colors in this wreath and of course the glitter adds such a pretty sparkle! All I needed was the wreath, several packs of fabric fall leaves with glitter on some to be added throughout and a glue gun!

autumn wreath

This wreath was inspired when I wanted to add some whimsy to the Autumn season.

glitter pumpkin wreath

This one is filled with tiny dried pumpkins! So adorable and again, all attached with just the glue gun!

mini pumpkin wreath4 mini pumpkin wreath3 mini pumpkin wreath2 mini pumpkin wreath1 mini pumpkin wreath

This is my favorite bouquet to make every year, and the vase filler is little dried pumpkins! Some years I will add a little scarecrow guy.

autumn boquet

Or you can added a silly touch with goggly eyes like this.

google eye boquet2

I tried a banner one year, using little wooden letters found at the craft store and they are glued onto the fall leaf garland.

Autumn garland1 Autumn garland

I put out my Jack o’Lantern candle and never have to worry about him rotting away. A Pottery Barn favorite!

pumpkin candle

I found this little turkey pillow this year and it was love at first gobble! Found at Pier One.

turkey pillow

How cute is this little pumpkin basket? It acts as a key and wallet holder all season long. Micheal’s often has cute fall items.

pumpkin basket

Who doesn’t love the finishing touch of their favorite Autumn scented candle?  Spiced cake is my yearly favorite, from Pier One.

leaf candle

Did you notice that beautiful table runner the last three items were resting on? That was a specialty item made by my sister who owns Summers Closet. Message her, I am sure she would be happy to make you one too! She has made sparkly pumpkin ones as well.

Happy Autumn and happy decorating!