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Closet Organization, Baking and More

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Less cake-making has lead the way to many little projects finally getting done around my house, not to mention it’s a lot cleaner these days. I have always kept a tidy home but when I got busy with cakes, the housework often got neglected. So here’s what I’ve been doing with my newly found free time:

I organized my handbags using this built-in I stole from my husband’ side of the closet (a bookshelf would work just as well):

Handbag OrganizationMy shoes have been pretty organized thanks to these neat little racks from the Container Store. I love these because you can stack and expand them to fit in pretty much any space you have and with the store coupon they’re much cheaper than having a custom built-in. Some of the racks are almost ten years old so they are definitely sturdy. The design was changed a few years ago but thankfully it still worked with the few racks I had from the old design so I didn’t have to repurchase.

Shoe OrganizationI started going through my clothes and put my out-of-season and too-big-but-don’t-want-to-get-rid-of clothes in these cute storage boxes I purchased at JoAnn. A future project is to Modpodge the boot boxes underneath the storage boxes with a cute coordinating paper I also found at JoAnn.

Storage Boxes

I still have all my accessories to organize (jewelry, hats,scarves, gloves). Once those are completed, a post will follow.

Because I still love baking, of course I still do that every now and then too! This weekend I made some “from scratch” strawberry cupcakes with strawberry Swiss Meringue frosting.

Strawberry CupcakesThe next day I made a chocolate cherry cobbler for Father’s day. Boy it was a huge hit!!!! I’m not sure if my family was happy to have something other than cakes or it really was that great :). I’m going to say they really loved it because I didn’t even get a chance to take a photo of a bowl of it served with ice cream. I used a recipe I found in the latest issue of Better Homes. It can also be found here.

Chocolate Cherry CobblerLess cake-making has given me more time to work out and I also avoid having to taste test all those goodies so now the weight seems to be coming off easier šŸ™‚

IMG_1393All work and no fun is no bueno so here I am poolside while the kids played at the pool!

IMG_1285

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Carved Cakes

In the past couple of weeks I’ve worked on some carved cakes. I wouldn’t consider it any more challenging than a traditional round or squared cake. In some ways carving cakes actually seems easier (since the cakes don’t have to be perfectly round and flat). And much like fondant cake toppers, it’s challenging and fun to look at a photograph and try to replicate the image in 3d.

I have included some images showing how I created these cakes. The best advice I can give regarding carved cakes is to not rush the carving. In the end, the shape you end up with is going to determine the overall look of the cake. If the shape is not right to begin with, you will not be satisfied with the look no matter how detailed or pretty your decorating is.

Coach Handbag Cake

Coach Handbag Cake

I made the gum paste handcuffs, fondant bow and handles a few days prior to making the cake to allow drying time. I used an 8″ fudge cake cut in half lengthwise then filled and stacked. I then carved the cake to the desired shape. I covered it with buttercream and two layers of fondant. The first layer was to cover the entire cake and keep it moist. The second layer was colored tan, then stamped with a homemade stencil I made out of foam sheets. The trim, zipper, buckle, and stitch lines were the finishing touches.

Handbag Creation

Creating the Handbag

Below is another carved cake.

Pillow Cake

Pillow Cake

This was created using two 8″ square cakes. I made a mark 1 inch from each side. I then carved off the edge from one corner to the next, using the mark made in the middle of each side as a guide to how far in to cut. Some of the trimming cut off was used on the top of the cake to give a fuller look to the pillow. It was then covered with buttercream and fondant and decorated with fondant trim. The top of the pillow was created using a fondant serrated cone tool to mark where the beads were going to be placed.

Creation of Pillow Cake

Creation of Pillow Cake

 

 

Peacock Cake

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This fondant peacock cake consists of a 9 in tier and a 6 in tier.

Peacock Cake

Peacock Cake

After covering the tiers with fondant and stacking them, I then placed the front accent piece centered on the side of the top tier. This helped guide the peacocks’ tail. To form the tail I started on the very bottom using three different sized circle cutters. I used the largest circle to cut the green feathers, the medium circle for the brown feathers and the smallest circle for the blue feathers. After cutting the circles, I pressed them a bit with the rolling pin to get the tear drop shape. I worked my way up to the top of the cake by reducing the size of the circle cutters every two or three rows of feathers to achieve a tapered look. I added some rolled fondant in the section where the two tiers meet, that way when I placed the feathers on that portion they would not sink and the tail would appear fuller. I also added a few smaller round circles randomly throughout the tail to give a more interesting look.

The basic shape of the peacock on the top of the cake is pretty easy to make. I used a simple bird tutorial as a guide (such as the one here). I made the neck longer and leaner.

To make the peacock’s wings I just randomly cut slits in some rolled fondant using the cutting tool (making sure not to cut all the way through so it would stay together when I lifted it).

Peacock Feather Making

Peacock Feather Making

I used the top of a Number 12 icing tip to make the smaller feathers around the peacock’s neck.

Living Room Makeover

After four days, I finally completed all the envelope pillow covers for the start of my living room makeover.

envelope pillow covers

After

This was the sofa before! Elegant Upholstery did the sofas and I completed the new look with the pillows.

Sofa Before

Sofa Before

Coordinating the fabrics was one of the best parts.

Swatches

Swatches

This is such an easy project and much cheaper than buying pillows. I used the tutorial here.

So simple to make

So simple to make

The great thing is they can be removed for easy dry cleaning or switching out for the seasons.

envelope pillow covers

Removable for easy dry cleaning

And now I have a fun, colorful living room!

Removable Pillow Cover Project

I finally got around to making some pillows for our reupholstered sofas. The sofas were hand-me-downs with excellent frames so I was thrilled to get them. The pillows were also of excellent quality (holding their shape well and not goingĀ  flat) but the outer cover was very worn and dated. I found this upholstery fabric at Joann’s for $7.20 a yard (reg. around $29-39/yard). I loved all the bright colors that I could coordinate with the neutral (aka boring) sofa colors. I purposely picked neutral colors for the sofas with the intention of bringing in colors with pillows and drapes.

Here is one of the completed pillows:

Removable Pillow Cover

Removable Pillow Cover

Removable Pillow Cover Back

Back of Pillow

When I removed the cover of the old pillows, this is what was inside:

Pillow FillingI made a cover with utility fabric purchased for about $3.20 a yard, much cheaper than buying a new pillow form which the cheapest in this size was about $12.99. This pillow, I know will hold its shape.

Pillow FormNow with the filling covered, it will be much easier to remove the pillow cover for washing as needed.

The pillow size is approximately 23.5″ wide by 27″ tall.Ā  To make the pillow cover, I used two fabrics. A print for the front and solid color for the back. I cut the front down to 25″ by 28″ and also used this size for the utility fabric used to cover the filling. For the back of the pillow I cut two pieces each 15″ by 28″. This is to create the opening in the back to allow the pillow to be removed. The formula used to determine the size of the back pieces is length of short side /2 + 2.5 inches (25/2+2.5). I used this tutorial here to make the pillow. Since I know the pillows will be thrown on the ground and get plenty of use, I sewed with a triple-stitch seam.

This website here was very helpful in determining how many yards to buy.

The good thing about upholstery fabric is it’s very wide so I was able to make two pillows with one yard of print and one yard of solid color. Custom-made pillows for about $10 each? I haven’t seen prices like that anywhere for pillows this size. Two down, about 4 more to go! I’ll be doing solid colors to coordinate with the colors in the print.

Fix Me Sewing Basket

As I was organizing my sewing area I noticed several miscellaneous things that need to beĀ mended (husband’s shirt, daughter’s hair bows, buttons that needed to be reattached etc.). These are things that, if I couldn’t get to right away, ended up being buried beneath all the other stuff that likes to makeĀ its way to my area like school work and receipts. Well now I have a cute way to keep them together in one place until I can fix them. I found thisĀ little basket on clearance at Pier 1 for a great price so decided to make it my sewing basket for all those little things that are needing to be fixed and any sewing projects that I am currently working on. This sure will come in handy when I start making drapes and pillows in a couple of weeks!

Fix Me Sewing Basket

Fix Me Sewing Basket

Christmas Time in Texas

This weekend Southeast Texas got a cold front and we were blessed with 40 degree weather. We don’t get much cold here, so the cold weather was much welcomed. Normally, I like to take one holiday at a time. Thanksgiving is not here yet but the weather and my radio stationĀ  playing Christmas music got me in the mood so I decided to bring out the decorations. I went with an emerald theme this year.

Found these stocking last year at Pier One's clearance sale for 75% off

Found these stockings last year at Pier 1’s clearance sale for 75% off

Mantle

Purchased this reindeer at Michaels during a 50% off holiday sale along with a 25% coupon

Purchased this reindeer at Michaels during a 50% off holiday sale along with a 25% coupon

I really like the look of burlap with sequins so added some burlap

I really like the look of burlap with sequins so added some burlap

Free things are always nice. A gift from my stepmom

Free things are always nice. A gift from my stepmom

Enjoying the cold weather!

Enjoying the cold weather!

I really enjoyed wrapping presents this year. Most of the supplies I already had.

Kraft Paper Wrapping

Kraft Paper Wrapping

Emerald Wrapping Paper

Emerald Wrapping Paper

Christmas cookies I made. Recipe here.

Samoa Pudding Cookies

Samoa Pudding Cookies

For a teacher’s gift the kids made candy sleighs withĀ a gift card on the bottom

Candy Sleigh and Gift Card Holder

Candy Sleigh and Gift Card Holder

 

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