A few days after I did this cake, I decided to have more fun with some birthday/St. Patty's Day cupcakes for Jamie and I at a family dinner. The cupcakes themselves were pound cakes, and the icing was a Bailey's infused. Not a butter cream this time, but there was still some butter in there for sure! Here are the results:
Fun bubble spikes
Grassy clover field (the same tip I used for the pink cake)
Ummm this one failed just a bit...
Rosettes - my favourite!
I honestly just went on Pinterest and googled the Wilton tips I had and there were so many tutorials and videos! Please I want to practice more but I don't want to eat all the cake...sooooo feel free to put in some requests so I can practice! I have the Martha Stewart cupcake book!!!
Each year I have a few March Break goals. Last year it was mainly to paint the kitchen and redo the grout. Well this year I took a more relaxing approach. It was much more enjoyable!
My goals. Though "make bunting" was not one of them, I think it turned out nicely and matches my kitchen colours.
First night of the break we went to dinner with our friends Jeff and Liz at Goods & Provisions.
Jeff, like me, likes to takes pictures of food.
Sunday dinner by Matt - coq au vin blanc with potatoes and bacon.
Birthday Manicure from Miyuki at Tips Nail Bar
It was tbt so I decided to do a collage of past birthday fun
Lie to me and tell me I don't look 31!
Oh yeah, remember THIS CAKE? I made that. No big deal.
My brother and Jessica had us over for dinner the following day - pretty tulips!
Delicious salad my parents brought. Going to modify it a bit and add quinoa for dinner tomorrow.
I said no birthday candles so instead I had to blow out a tea light from the bottom of the Eiffel Tour
Okay so many I am really proud of this cake.
See how Adam's right eye is more dilated than the left? Yeah he got beat up by a nerf gun by a child...it's a sensitive topic. That's why I'm writing about it here. LOVE YOU!
Then we listened to some records - love the baby blue player!
I am very proud of my first attempt at fancy cake icing for my own birthday cake this week. Matt and I went out to dinner on Thursday for my actual birthday, but since we were headed to my brother's house to celebrate the following evening, I decided to make a birthday cake!
The recipe I used for the cake is Martha Stewart's White Cake. White because it has only egg whites and no yolks (or "no yellows" as I couldn't remember the word yolk when describing it yesterday...). The recipe says it yields 3 9-inch rounds, but I used 4 8-inch rounds, though they weren't completely full, which was fine. 4 layers is a LOT of layers...
You will need a lot of butter (though to be fair some of that was for the buttercream icing)
And room temperature eggs...
And of course good old cobalt KitchenAid mixer
Adding the colours was not that challenging. I added the pale pink to the entire mix, poured about a quarter of it into the first baking pan, added some more colour and mixed, poured, etc. Oh by the way, I have Wilton brand gel food colouring - it makes the cake and icing less runny. There is an actual pink colour, it's not red. I would suggest investing in the colour set - I've had them a long time and you only need a tiny amount to get a lot of colour. Once it's cooked, it doesn't look as pretty because of the slight browning of the outside due to the flour llining, but if you scrape off a bit you will see that indeed the inside cake is the perfect pink colour!
Ghetto but effective way of warming up butter without melting it, haha.
The icing is Martha Stewart's Swiss Meringue Buttercream with Vanilla Bean. The vanilla bean part just entailed slicing open a vanilla bean and putting it in the egg/sugar melting mixture (the first step in the recipe), and then removing it along with any large pieces once it was all melted together. You can use vanilla extract too, but this just adds more vanilla flavour to it. You NEED to make sure that for both the cake and icing, that the butter is room temperature, especially the icing. I made enough icing to ice between each of the layers and ice the sides, but then I only did a bit of fancy icing before I ran out. The butter I had sitting out for the second batch was not as warm so it made for a lumpy buttercream. Luckily a quick Google search led me to using my hair dryer to warm the buttercream while it mixed which completely smoothed it out!
The above is what one batch of buttercream did. With so many layers I ran out, but I just made another half-batch which finished the job. I tinted it a bit darker to do the middle layers once the top was done, then again to do the bottom. I used the exact same method as I did for the cake. Note to people - gloves may be beneficial...
Yeah it lasted for a while...
And now for a ridiculous amount of beautiful cake pictures - I am very proud!!!!
The piping was done using a Wilton 2D tip. I literally just squeezed down and pulled up. Really simple and quick - honestly. This tip also makes pretty roses if you swirl it, but this was my first try so I stuck to the basics.
OOoooooOOOOohhh almost too pretty to eat...
It was really tasty...though again, 4 layers is a lot of cake...
6 people only polished off that much - definitely will serve 15 easily!
I looked back to see that though I did a post for Adam in 2012, I did not in 2013. Sorry little brother! Wishing you a great birthday! I love you, despite your annoying habit of buying everything you want and having absolutely no ideas for birthday presents, and despite the fact that every time you give ME a present, it is sealed with hot glue and impossible to open without using my teeth like a savage.
Here are some Instagram pictures from the past year of him (as I still have yet to recover my hard drive!)
Our joint birthday/Olympic party celebration a few weeks ago
This past Christmas
Eating smoked meat in Montreal this past summer
A bit tipsy with balloons in April
Plus some older ones...
Oh his wedding day in July 2012
UOIT grad (him commerce, me education) in 2007
His prom! 2003?
Haha, Halloween...probably 2003 or 2004?
Birthday...not sure what year. 2006?
Punta Cana in Spring 2004
Last gem - Fall 2001. First day of school. I did that to his hair...
Many people lately have commented "Wow! Do you guys ever just relax?" I know it seems like we never rest and are constantly doing projects, but really, the last time we did anything major was December 2012, when we did the upstairs stair guard and stairs. Matt travelled a lot this past year and I'm not versed well enough in tools to do a reno on my own. Plus we love doing projects together. This was the first Christmas where we didn't have any new home project to "show off" to our family which got us itching to do some projects in the new year.
So, we just finished the stairs on Family Day last Monday, and we decided yesterday (Saturday) to start on the storage, was the second half of the basement project. The first thing we had to do was unpack all the cupboards. We also went through everything and threw out stuff we didn't need, moved a few things to new locations, and found temporary spots for everything else.
The before. Tidy work area from the stair project.
Even all the extra wood is organized!!!
The first cupboard held all our paint, stain, patching and sealing supplies, drop sheets, and then random stuff like bug killers, a few strong cleaners and light bulbs. Here is their new temporary home in the laundry room.
The closet was next up. It contained coats, extra scarves, hats and gloves, old shoes, and golf and snowboard stuff
Since the golf clubs and snowboard were already moved here when we removed the stuff from under the stairs, I just decided to keep everything together. That duffle bag is filled with all the coats. We obviously use this bathtub a lot...hmmm...maybe we should the bathroom as basement project round 3???
Another cupboard had a shelf of extra baking supplies and spices. This is where they live now, haha. I plan on making myself a lovely ombre layer cake with some fancy icing for my birthday over March Break.
All the serving stuff that doesn't fit in the sideboard upstairs was in another cupboard. Here it all is (plus a lot of stuff from under the stairs that was already hanging out here, preventing me from doing Wii Zumba).
Of course there was a shelf filled with different liquors and whisky, plus a whole lot of empties. That conversation went like this: Kat: "I thought I asked you to take those back at Christmas!" Matt: "Yep, and I've been ignoring you since Halloween!" Then he dropped some and made a mess - sweet retribution!!!
Are now back to the Beer Store and a tidy sum in Matt's pocket.
*Sigh* So much stuff.
Our second step to this project was to actually remove the cupboards from the wall and take them apart. This actually only took just over an hour. As long as you have a power drill it makes life easier. By hand would be very annoying, but still possible. We had three big shelving cupboards and one closet system. Who knows what the walls would be like behind them! I was hoping for the original exposed brick!!!
Removing the doors
Hmmmm were they even bolted to the wall? The answer is NO!
A sweet surprise! A note from the owners who did the basement reno. There is more but it's the name of the owners. I won't show the whole message to protect their privacy. I do intend, however, to photograph and frame the note so I don't feel as bad painting over it! No luck with the brick - it was painted white behind.
Looks so empty now!
Since we don't have extra tile, it is lucky that our new cupboards will be a bit deeper than the original ones, and will be build right over top and beyond the edge of tile. It's pretty gross, though!
The next step will decide how exactly we want to organize the new system. Roughly we will have cupboards on the bottom half, similar to the sideboard in the dining room. The top half will be open shelving. The triangle under the stairs will be all shelves. It will all probably be painted white, and we'll use Ikea doors on the bottom half, but build the cupboards ourselves. We want to make sure we will have a long closet on the end for all our extra coats and shoes (as we don't have a main floor closet), and we also have to be able to store our suitcases, golf clubs, snowboard, Matt's guitar, all our Christmas and holiday decorations, and all the random house stuff you've seen spread around my basement!!!
Matt and I don't really do a lot usually for Valentine's Day. We don't do cards or gifts. In the past we've gone to Leaf games, but mostly we just cook a good meal and enjoy each other's company. That's exactly what we did this year. I did a bit of prep work this time - I made a chocolate terrine for dessert (since I failed on New Years) on Thursday evening - it has to set 12-24 hours. I also made one for my work wife, Marta! Other than that, I just set the table when I got home on Friday, made a little garland (honestly took me 10 minutes) and Matt cooked dinner (pomegranate balsamic glazed sirloin steak with kale and tricolour quinoa).
Cut strips of scrapbook paper, staple 2 ends together, pinch top of one and staple.
Connect by the bottom staple of one heart with the top pinch of the other. Simple and quick!
Heart napkin fold link HERE (there's is better than mine...)
Final delicious product, along with a pinot noir!
Chocolate terrine! Recipe from HERE.
Added some toasted almond slices around the edges, plus a dash of icing sugar and a pinch of sea salt. Served with fresh whipped cream. Let to cool in my grandmother's heart shaped baking pan.
I cut the recipe in half as it served 12, and this did serve us 3 times, but with big pieces. It should be served in small doses - probably could have lasted 4-5 nights, haha, but it was just so good! Just as good as the one at our favourite restaurant, Goods and Provisions.
So the ??? was actually until about Day 21. But really there were some drying time days in there too, but so far I've really only included days where we (who am I kidding, Matt) did work. Not all of them were full days, but again, with painting and staining, patience is key. Also balance and flexibility so you can take stairs two at a time holding a giant basket of laundry without falling down.
Okay so I could go through all the painting and staining progress pictures FIRST, but we all know you just want to see the final product, so here's one for you before I launch into the details:
Sorry it can't be any prettier. The tools are not disappearing any day soon!
Step 13 - Priming & Painting the Stair Guard & Risers
Day 10 - Basic priming of the stair guard, posts, and risers. Nothing crazy - just primer and paintbrush!
Taping was very annoying...but necessary.
Day 11/12 - 2 coats of paint on the same parts. We used the same paint that is on all of our trims,
Benjamin Moore White Dove semi-gloss latex.
Very pretty. There is also a big puddle of paint just out of sight that Matt spilled, haha.
Step 14 - Gluing the Stairs
Day 13/14 - We had to attach the stairs over two days because we wanted the glue (construction adhesive) to be completely dry before stepping on them. It was weird to step on them because with and without the stairs they were different levels - it really throws you off when walking down them!
Step 15 - Staining the Stairs
Day 15-21. Since laundry and storage were in the basement, we had to do every other stair like we did upstairs when painting and staining. The stairs started with pre-stain to help the stain soak in, then we did 2 coats on stain using Minwax "Golden Pecan" and followed by 3 coats of glossy Minwax oil-modified (more water-based) polyurethane. There were some days where Matt did a coat in the morning and a coat at night, so it took 3 days for each half set of stairs, plus 24 hours to dry between. After the 24 hours we pulled off the tape and did some touch-ups on the paint.
Zebra stripes of stain!
With the polyurethane coats
Matches the rail perfectly
Nice clean lines
Now if only the tools could get put away...but no such luck - we're tackling those cupboards soon.
So much better than the gross dingy carpet!
After a bit of tidying just this morning - basement is very organized...in its own way.
Gotta love the before and after!
Project Done. So Next Up?
- take everything out of storage cupboards (actually did this this morning!)
- tear down the cupboards (may do that later today or tomorrow - excited!!!)
- paint (may possibly need to prime) the brick wall behind the stairs
- plan the storage cupboards and open shelving system
- build the storage system (and a million more details go into this)
Another of my January Cure projects was to (finally) paint and stain our butcher block island in the kitchen. I have a few Pins saved with stain on the top and paint on the rest in various colours. Took me a while to decide on what I wanted to do, but here is what I decided:
Ahhhhh it makes me so happy to see the bright colours all done! This is the Bekvam Kitchen Cart from Ikea by the way. I decided that I would also do the step stool (Bekvam from Ikea as well) I had yet to assemble as well:
So here's the project, in pictures, of course!
Day 1 - Disassemble the island and open up the step stool package. The parts to be painted I left to the side and all the parts to be stained I laid out and raised up. I was forced to the upstairs guest room since the basement work is already taking up all that space down there.
I applied a thin coat of Minwax Pre-stain to the side I was staining. You only have to wait 20 minutes and then you can stain within two hours. It just helps the stain adhere. I used Minwax Polyshades in Classic Oak with a satin finish. It will end up being a bit shiny but I didn't want it glossy.
This is after one coat of stain on the top and sides. I used a small foam brush. If I did it again I would have sanded the pieces first - they were more raw wood than I thought they would be.
Just to compare - here's the bottom side before...
...and the top I just finished.
Matt snuck a photo. Only fair as I snap them all the time. Yep, I look super attractive with Matt's baggy old sweats and t-shirt. It's the weekend, okay? Oh yeah, I'm also wearing gloves. This is not at all necessary except if you get expensive manicures that you don't want to ruin!
Once each side had a coat of stain I brought them to the basement to go over with very fine steel wool. This gets off any of the thick drip marks and makes things nice and even. Do this away from your work area as the steel wool sheds and leaves dust everywhere. Wipe everything down with a damp cloth before you start the next coat so nothing is left sticking to it.
Once all the coats are done (I did two one the bottom side and three on the top sides), it is time to buff and polish. Matt taught me his full polishing method that I doubt is completely necessary but they looked great in the end!
First step - super fine wet sandpaper and baby oil. Again takes off any excess stuff and smooths it out.
Second coat is the heavy duty cleaner. It's orange and looks like stain but rubs off with a dry cloth. Third coat is the turtle wax polishing compound that makes everything all shiny and smooth.
Left is the scary red rubbing compound, right is after it was polished off.
When you are covered in stain and layers of polish, you are banned to your work room to eat dinner.
Time for the paint! This was easier. I'm familiar with painting.
Anyone else see a Glockenspiel? (Sorry, "xylophone" for those non-music people)
Prime first, of course.
I picked Valspar's "Bayside" (Go Tigers!) as my paint colour. I used a satin finish but you could go more glossy just as easily. Typically the more sheen, the easier to wipe down, which is good in a kitchen.
Ohhhhh - Prom Dress Blue (I should find a pic of me from prom to post), or "Robin Egg Blue" as others would say.
2 coats on each side and you're good to go!
Assembly!!! This should have been easy but some of the paint gunked it up and it took more strength than I thought but in the end I got it done! Note to self - tape holes beforehand.
Yay! Yes, my floor is dusty. The basement stairs are just to the right. There will always be dust on the floor until that project is done.
After I yelled at the step stool for an hour while working, I got fed up and asked Matt to put the island back together.
He did good!
Double yay! That's a speaker on the bottom, linked to our sound system in the living room.
See? My David's tea goes perfectly. Have cobalt blue already in the kitchen the form of TWO teapots (can you tell I heart me some tea?), so I was glad to have a vase that links the two together. I love the sheen to the top.
I'm going to put a shelf on the wall above this that I will paint the same colour. I'll hand that apron along with some other things from it (got the apron from Home Sense).
Those are my shelf plans, from my engineer husband! We will use some of the extra wood from the stair project. There will be a few hooks on the bottom half.
Also got this drying mat that matches too. I'm going to probably do some colourful faux roman shades to bring the colour up a bit from the floor, and maybe a doormat too.
So bring and colourful! Makes me smile each morning when I make my tea!
It was a time-consuming project in terms of number of days (multiple sides, multiple coats) but not in terms of time each day (about an hour max).
Proud of this project - hope you like it!
Last weekend Matt worked on building the stair guard and we left off with this photo:
Step 10 - Filling & Smoothing
This week was all about touch-ups. Using wood-filler and poly-fill to fill gaps, sanding, cleaning, etc. I assigned that as "Day 6", though it was probably done over 2-3 days just for an hour each evening getting things perfect. At the end of last weekend
All the screw holes filled, sanded, filled again, sanded again before painting next week.
Notice the empty light switch box? Matt moved that last weekend too!
Step 11 - Cut & Attach Risers
Day 7 - I'm using the term "risers" for the vertical parts of the stairs. We bought riser and stair kits (stair refinishing kit?) from Lowes that go right over plywood. You only need to cut to size. The good thing about them is that they have a lip that goes in the front. These pieces are also thin and have a good finish. Also the biggest thing? WAYYYY cheaper than buying oak and cutting it to size.
Each kit was normally $40 but we got them on sale for $20 each!!! Needed 12 kits.
The outer piece is the new riser (the other the original plywood).
As usual this boy works incredibly fast.
Had them all cut to size and screwed in (we need to invest in a nail gun!) in an hour!
Step 12 - Cut Stairs to Size
Day 7/8 - The flat pieces to the stairs I'm just calling "stairs". If I called them "risers" for the vertical, does that make these the "runs?" That's a little math humour for you...yes I am a geek. You should already know that. The reason that cutting to size and assembly are not lumped into one is because we are going to paint all the risers and wood at once and stain the stairs separately before attaching.
Stairs are just sitting there to ensure the correct size. Matt numbered each stair and piece to make sure he knew which piece was for what. He cut the length (left to right) for all the stairs when he did the risers, and this cutting was for depth of the stair.
See how the bottom stair has that teeny space on the left between the riser and stair?
Yeah that's driving Matt crazy. He measured perfectly but our house is never easy so that happens some times.
Hopefully nothing a little wood filler can't fix!!!
Screws for the risers were strategically placed to be covered by the stairs.
Nothing like a man covered in saw dust using a saw on a stand with another saw.
Explaining to me how to make the top flush with the floor.
It's the connection piece between the tile and wood so that you don't trip.
**See my turquoise step stool??? Post to come!!!**
Admiring his work. Sad to take them off moments later as they all need to be stained! They look so pretty!
- Prime and paint the risers and all the stair guard - using our go-to trim white - Benjamin Moore's "White Dove". It's the colour of the risers and balusters upstairs too.
- Touch ups to the wall paint where any filler went. The basement colour is BM's "Moonshine." It's more from moving the lighting than the stairs, but it will be done while we are painting everything else.
- Pre-stain, stain (x 2), and verathane (x 3) the stair pieces
- Attach the stair pieces to the, well, stairs.
- Touch ups (there is always touch-ups)
- Admire briefly before starting the basement storage project!!!
One of my January Cure projects was to replace our thermostat with a more energy-efficient one. We had a digital thermostat, but it was not at all programmable. We turn it down every time we go out and at night, so it's not like it was heating our house unnecessarily, but we wanted to have a little bit more control over it (and possibly save some money in the long run). I first read about the nest thermostat from this post on Young House Love and looked into it a bit more. Matt wasn't sure it was the right away to go until he heard Apple bought nest, haha, so then he decided it must be good.
He surprised me one day this week when he came home from work.
I was very (too) excited!!! I even instagrammed it!
Here was our original guy
First step was to loosen and patch the area behind it - it was in rough shape. You can get it with a base, too, if you simply wanted to cover up a larger hole from your previous thermostat.
Matt hearts him some Poly-Fil!
Then some sanding. He vacuums as he sands (this is why I love him).
Then pretty much pull the wires through the centre and screw into place.
The best thing is that the instructions are really clear, and if you can't figure it out, you can take a picture and the nest tool will help you out! But for us it was pretty straight forward.
And just like any other technology it's a bit slow moving at first.
You can download the app and control it from anywhere!
Hmmm...I see fingerprints. Will need to clean.
Well hello nest! It has a motion sensor so it lights up when you get close. This makes me happy.
I heart the nest. I call him Ryan. In my head he sounds like Ryan Gosling.
When I get home each day he's like "hey girl, hope you had a great day at school teaching."
You can schedule everything on your phone, and even if you don't it will anticipate your schedule after a few days. When you make adjustments it notes the time and day of the week and figures it all out for you - it's pretty cool. It's nice if I get home early from work that I can turn it on from my car. That way we can turn the temperature a bit lower in the day than we normally would because it will be warming up when I get home, even if its before its scheduled time to turn on. We'll see what the savings are like after some time. Does anybody know if I can get a eco tax credit for this? I won't need it until next year and the research I've done has had both yes and no answers so far.
Next post? My painting and staining of the butcher block island and step stool! Plus another stair project update.