Painting fever - the new living room!

Hi guys,
I've been busy, busy, busy! This weekend's project was the living room ( long overdue).
Before we painted it was eggshell color and in my opinion it wasn't painted at least 4-5 years, because the walls were in horrible condition.
Unfortunately, I don't have a picture " before" that can show how bad it was, only one from when we moved in:
Since then, we've bought new curtains ( golden color), new shelves from Amazon, 2 candle holders and the clock over the fireplace. The latter I bought from Michael's.
I've chosen Olympic paint again ( as low odor as possible), the shade is C11-3 Weeping Willow, relaxing green shade I love.
Unfortunately ( again) I am still with my old camera, so the pictures are as bad as you can get, sorry about that,. Still, it can give you an idea how it looks right now, although the real room looks way better then on the pictures :-).




I am pretty pleased with how it all turned out. I am still dreading next weekend when we are going to paint the kitchen, since it is all covered in wallpaper. We had hell of a time trying to scrape the wallpaper in the bathroom, so I can't even imagine how much work we would have in the kitchen.
I'll keep you posted how it would turn out!
Oh, and I am happy to say I have a pretty good idea what I am making about the cake challenge. As soon as we finish with the kitchen I'll make the cake. Be patient and at the end of the month I'll show pictures :-)

June news

Oklahoma Sugar Art show and Wedding cake competition, does that ring a bell?
If not, wait until October 2008 and I'll show you what I am talking about :-)
I really REALLY and I mean R-E-A-L-L-Y hope to go! If I do, I'll provide you guys with updates and pictures :-) I promise!
If anyone per chance has love for cakes and is going too- leave me a comment, maybe we can exchange information!

Now, no to keep you in the dark, I am working on perfecting my bagels! I've been doing this for couple of weeks, they are still not the perfect ones I wish to make! But I am getting there, no worries! Once I do, I'll post step by step instruction and pictures. Until now, all my neighbours are very happy I continue with the experiments :-)

Another thing I started is promoting the idea of a cake challenge at the Bulgarian forum I am a member of. It is going to be in July and I will keep you posted with news and pictures of the stuff I make.

Until then, I am keeping busy busy, busy and " thinking Bee" ( by the way great movie " the bee movie" !) !

Have a nice summer!

The long overdue cake recipes- part 2

Here is the second recipe I used in the Buzz Lightyear cake , the recipe for the Devi's food cake is again from Christopher Kimball's " The dessert bible".

Devil's Food Cake

( IMPORTANT: This is a single dose recipe! For the Buzz Lighthyear I used 2 pans 9"/12" and I doubled the recipe!)

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups boiling water
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 pound ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still firm)
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

1. First make sure that all ingredients are room temperature! It is extremely important!

2. Next thing, preheat the oven at 350F. The original recipe calls for three 8 inch cake pans but for  Buzz's ship I used  9"/12"  rectangular pans. Cover the bottom of each pan with a piece of parchment paper.


 3. Stir the boiling water, chocolate and cocoa together and reserve. Now here I have to mention that my chocolate was on chocolate chips, so basically I couldn't melt it just by adding boiling water, so I melted it in Bain Marie ( water bath) and then gradually I added the boiling water and cocoa.

4. Combine the dry ingredients and sift together.Beat the softened butter on medium high for 1 minute. Add the brown sugar, vanilla and beat until fluffy.Add one egg at a time, add the sour cream and beat until well combined. Be sure to scrape the bowl often.
5. Add half of the chocolate mixture it in the batter( be sure to stir well before you add it) and half of the dry ingredients mixture. Beat on low and then add the rest of the chocolate mixture and the rest of the flour.
Scrape the bowl and continue to stir by hand ( just folding).

6.Pour the batter into the pans and bake or 20 to 25 minutes, as you rotate the pans halfway through.
When it is ready, let it cool for 10 minutes and take it out of the pan. Again, I let it cool completely, then freeze it to be more convenient for shaping.
Enjoy!


Since a lot of people are asking, I guess the links I've posted in the posts are not visible enough, so here are the instructions how to make my Buzz Lightyear cake

-How to make a Buzz from fondant
http://www.anniesartbook.com/2008/05/buzz-lightyear-is-born.html
-Decorating the finished Buzz figure-
http://www.anniesartbook.com/2008/05/frankenbuzz-is-born-or-how-to-make-buzz.html
- How to make Buzz's ship:
http://www.anniesartbook.com/2008/05/buzz-lightyear-cake-tribute-to-buzz.html
- Decorating Buzz's ship
http://www.anniesartbook.com/2008/05/buzz-lightyear-cake-tribute-to-buzz_23.html
- The cake recipes ( yellow all purpose cake layer)
http://www.anniesartbook.com/2008/06/long-overdue-cake-recipes.html
- The cake recipes 2 ( the Devil's food cake layer)
http://www.anniesartbook.com/2008/06/long-overdue-cake-recipes-part-2.html

Let me know if you have other questions,
Annie

The long overdue cake recipes

I know, I know...It has been almost a month since I promised to post the recipes for the cake layers of the Buzz Lightyear cake.
Now tonight, even if I am half asleep, I'll post them!
I used 2 basic recipes - a Devil's food dark chocolate cake layer and All purpose yellow lemon cake. Both are from the book of Christopher Kimball " The dessert bible". You probably got tired of me singing him praises, but what can I do?! He is just unbelievable! I had never tried a better tasting layers in my entire life! The lemon one was moist, rich and the lemon flavor exploded in your mouth, but the chocolate one...Gosh, just by thinking of it...it is mouth watering! Rich chocolate flavor and so moist, that I bet you have never tried a better one!

First make sure that all ingredients are room temperature! It is extremely important! I finally bought a digital thermometer and I am sooo happy with it!
Next thing, preheat the oven at 350F.
Grease two 9 inch cake pans and cover the bottom of each pan with a circle of parchment paper.

Master Recipe for All-Purpose Yellow lemon cake

( IMPORTANT: This is a Single dose recipe!For the Buzz Lightyear I used  2 dose recipe and baked it in two 9"/11" rectangular pans! If you want to make 2 sheets in two 9 " pans, double the recipe!)

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons ( 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still firm ( 58-65 F)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon ( or more) lemon zest

Mix the dry ingredients together.
In a mixer bowl stir the butter, then gradually add the sugar , beat around 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating on high speed for 30 seconds. Now at this point if your butter looks grainy- it is too cold! It has to be room temperature! The batter has to be smooth!
After all of the eggs are beaten in. beat for 1 more minute. Add one third of the flour and the milk and beat on LOW speed until incorporated. Add the vanilla and lemon, then the remaining flour and milk. Scrape the bowl and continue to mix by hand. Divide the batter between the 2 pans and bake for about 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.
When the layers are ready, take them out of the oven, let them cool for 5 minutes and then take them out. At this point I left them to cool down completely, then I wrapped in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer. It is so much easier to work with frozen layers!!!
And that's it :-) Sorry I don't have a better picture of it, but you can get the idea.


The recipe for the Devil's food cake follows.


Since a lot of people are asking, I guess the links I've posted in the posts are not visible enough, so here are the instructions how to make my Buzz Lightyear cake

-How to make a Buzz from fondant
http://www.anniesartbook.com/2008/05/buzz-lightyear-is-born.html
-Decorating the finished Buzz figure-
http://www.anniesartbook.com/2008/05/frankenbuzz-is-born-or-how-to-make-buzz.html
- How to make Buzz's ship:
http://www.anniesartbook.com/2008/05/buzz-lightyear-cake-tribute-to-buzz.html
- Decorating Buzz's ship
http://www.anniesartbook.com/2008/05/buzz-lightyear-cake-tribute-to-buzz_23.html
- The cake recipes ( yellow all purpose cake layer)
http://www.anniesartbook.com/2008/06/long-overdue-cake-recipes.html
- The cake recipes 2 ( the Devil's food cake layer)
http://www.anniesartbook.com/2008/06/long-overdue-cake-recipes-part-2.html

Let me know if you have other questions,
Annie

Father's Day surprise

One of the surprises we had for our Daddy was that we decided to give him his presents today instead of Sunday( mostly due to safety reasons for keeping the presents undiscovered).
We were thinking really hard what to give him and finally we came up with the idea! We made him a poster size scrapbook "blog page" with a poem that we wrote for him.
This is the page:
This is the poem:

"To be a Dad is job demanding
and you need to have an understanding
That diplomas do not count that much
a lot of times you count on hunch.

To be a Dad it means you're there
when the life is not that fair.
To be a Dad it means you know
to heal two boo-boos in a row.

You'll wipe a nose and play a hero
then learn to count from ten to zero.
You'll wish there was a manual
and even better if it's annual.

You'll read bedtime stories half asleep,
and then give hugs so they won't weep
that "poor monster" turned up dead,
a story you wish you haven't read.

To be a Dad is wonderful, yet scary
It means you'll play with cars and fairies.
You'll have to learn to braid girl's hair
combine boy socks to get a pair.

No Friday night, no Sunday morning
you don't get a fair warning.
No holidays and benefits as well,
not even Linux laptop from Dell.

You'll have on speed dial 911,
invite the firefighters to have fun
in you back yard halfway burned
and deal with neighbours half-concerned.

Kids will leave you hardly any hair
and sometimes you might gasp for air
But the love they'll give you is so much
that you've hardly dreamed of such!"

I also came up with the idea to have a " Poll" and " Featured articles" on the "blog page".

This was the poll:

Does your Dad get upset

when you play with his new laptop?

  1. Only when when I play

    with it in the bathtub – 32%

  2. He was OK, before I changed

    all his passwords- 10%

  3. What he doesn't know

    can't hurt him- 25%

  4. I don't know, we'll find out

    tonight-5%

  5. That was his new laptop?! -28%


And these were the featured articles:

1." How to lose your Dad's patience in 5 minutes and to live ( happily) after"
2." Why does Daddy wear earmuffs at home?"
3." How to convince Daddy that Play Station is a sport"
4. "Sleepover survival guide for Dads"
5. " 10 ways to keep your boyfriend alive"
6. "Dad's series of unfortunate events when Mom's not home"
7. " Dad Factor-charisma or a shot gun"
8. "Who let the Dad out?"

Our second gift was a coffee mug that he can take to work, because until now there was coffee stains all over the car:

Stay tuned for the cakes recipes ( finally) that I promised!
Happy Father's Day

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination

The commencement speech of J.K Rowling at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association"
This is one of the best and most inspiring speeches I've ever heard! Not that I am fan of J.K Rowling, but especially considering it as a commencement speech ( usually the speaker is as bored as the audience), it brought me to tears and it made me laugh in 20 minutes!
Although J.K Rowling was obviously very nerveous beeing infront of the audience, but who isn't? I remember when I had to speak at a Commencement ceremony and 500 people were stareing at me, I thought I would have a heart attack, and the University definitely wasn't Harvard :-). She just blew me away today! She is very earthly, very real, to the point you can feel her pain and join her joy just by listening to her! She is one of the people I would love to meet someday!
I hope you enjoy the speech as much as I did!

When Monday is Tuesday

Did I say I was going to throw a party when this month is over? No?! Hm, I thought I did, but maybe this is one of the gazillion things I've forgotten lately.
9:00 pm- I am seating peacefully ( for the first time today) at the table, eating ice cream and thinking how I am going to go to bed earlier today, when the phone rang.
A very close friend of mine called me and in the usual chit-chat manner we swapped information about our kids ( the same age). What a coincidence! The other kid and my son are having their first "graduation" tomorrow! Very exciting! Even the parents from my school are organizing something like a small party after school at the park. And then....then it dawned on me! I FORGOT THE PRESENT FOR THE TEACHER!!!
What was I thinking!!! I totally forgot I had to give her something tomorrow!
So, I jumped in the car, bought couple of things and in an instant I had a gift basket with a Bulgarian table cloth, a wooden plate with the Varna cathedral and couple of other things.


Then I made a special card for our special teacher.

If my son was awake, I would have involved him, but unfortunately he was sleeping at that time. As a matter of fact, so was I ( I was so tired I've almost broke my jaw from yawning).
Thank goodness I had enough things for the card, U think this scaprbooking thing is starting to pay off :-) I don't know if it is obvious from the picture, but the green thingy is not glued, as well as the white bottom page.

And here is one more:


I promised I'll post the recipes for the cake, I didn't forget! I promise I will do it this week.

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