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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 02/15/12

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

FROSTING CUPCAKES!

   This diy comes from www.mykitchenaddiction.com .  You never know everything.  Why not learn a new technique or a better way of doing/making something.  I hope you injoy this tutorial. 


Frosting Cupcakes



When it comes to baking, one of the best compliments I receive is when I walk in with my hands full of baked goods and someone asks me what bakery I stopped at on the way. I am always happy to tell them that I did, in fact, bake everything from scratch. I usually get a somewhat puzzled look, since it seems fewer and fewer people these days actually do their own baking. I think that may be due partially to lack of time, but I think it is also due in part to the fact that people aren’t confident in their ability to pull off a batch of beautiful cupcakes or cookies.
So, for this week’s Works For Me Wednesday post, I thought I’d share my secret to perfect, professional-looking frosting for cupcakes. I’m always amazed how many people think that because a pastry bag is involved, it must be very difficult to get that pretty swirl of frosting on top of a cupcake. Here’s the thing… I actually think it’s MUCH easier to ice cupcakes with a pastry bag than with a spatula or a knife. The fact that they look like you bought them somewhere is just an added bonus!
Equipment…
For my cupcake frosting method, you’ll need a few simple tools… Don’t worry, they won’t break the bank. You can find everything at a local craft store!
  • Pastry Bag – Either a cloth pastry bag or a disposable one will work. You can typically buy a large box of disposable bags at a craft store to keep on hand (and keep your eye out for the 40% off coupons that many craft stores include in the Sunday paper for an even better deal!).
  • Star Tip – When frosting cupcakes, I typically use an Ateco 827 tip, but any star tip will do. I believe the Wilton 8B tip is a similar size, but has additional ridges on it… That one is probably easier to find at a local store.





The Method…

Once you have the necessities, frosting cupcakes is quite simple. All you need to do is fit the pastry bag with the star tip. Then, use a rubber spatula (I find those spoon-spatula combos work quite well for scooping the icing) to fill the pastry bag with frosting. To stabilize the pastry bag while filling it, you can try setting it inside a large plastic cup. Only fill the pastry bag about half full and then gently push the icing down into the bag and twist the top shut.
For each cupcake, simple make a swirl of frosting with the pastry bag… no sweat!
  • Keeping the tip relatively close to the top of the cupcake, begin piping out the frosting by squeezing the bag from the top while using your other hand to stabilize the bag (this is kind of like toothpaste… though, I am notorious for squeezing toothpaste from the middle). The bag should be straight up and down.
  • Draw a circle of icing around the outside of the cupcake, moving your hands in a circle while keeping the tip close to the cupcake and the bag straight up and down.
  • Once you have iced the outside of the cupcake, continue the swirl to the inside of the circle, filling in the middle of the cupake.
  • Just as you finish the swirl of icing, push down slightly on the pastry bag in the middle of the cupcake. Then, as you stop squeezing the pastry bag, gently pull the pastry bag directly upwards from the cupcake.
Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it? The more you practice, the easier it will get. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to frost a couple dozen cupcakes in just a few minutes. Plus, all of your friends and relatives will start to wonder where you bought those beautiful cupcakes!

DIY WINTER BOWS AND HOLIDAY GREENERY DECOR!

This diy comes form www.oldtownehome.com .  Like I keep saying it's never too early about thinking of ideas and making them ahead of time before the holidays creep up on you.  I lover using magnolia in my different Christmas wreaths and garlands.  It dries really nice, almost like a leathery texture and look. If you don't have the real stuff use faux  greenery.  I have wreaths and garland that I've used the past 10 years and they still look in very good condition.  My wife doesn't like the way I change them almost every year though.  I will be posting a few pics (even though it may be a little late) just to show you what I've done to them this year (think winter wonderland).  Good luck!



Diy Winter Bows and Greenery
With greenery in hand, I asked my dear husband if he could wrestle up some scrap wood in the basement, cutting five pieces for me -- three for the windows and two for the doors to act as backers for the greens. He agreed, and just a short time later I had my wood backers.
Returning back inside to find my wood pieces cut, with the addition of a drop cloth to corral the needles and mess, our trusty staple gun, floral wire, ribbon, and craft store accessories, I was on my way. (More on the staple gun I used here.)
I started by arranging single magnolia leaves along the piece of wood, fanning them out in either direction of the center point, and stapling them securely in place.






After the layer of magnolia leaves was complete, I added a layer of the cut frasier fir branches.





And finally I added a sprig of boxwood on each side, as well as a turquoise bow and faux berries and acorns from Michael's. The result? Decidedly underwhelming. Even Lulu seemed unimpressed.





First of all, the scale of the bow was way off, and the fact that it wasn't wired ribbon left the bow lifeless and limp, kind of like a...well, you get the picture. And the berries? Also way too small in scale, in fact hardly noticeable from a distance. In this case, the size of the berries and stiffness of the ribbon absolutely matters. (Hopefully my juvenile sense of humor isn't lost on you.) I wanted so badly to have decor that matched the front door that I ignored the little voice in my head at the store that told me the ribbon wouldn't work, and the floral picks I rummaged up form the already scavenged available selection was a no go. I should have listened to that inner voice.
To say I was dejected is an understatement. I actually contemplated throwing the whole thing in the trash, stomping around, throwing a temper tantrum, rolling around on the floor a little bit, yelling "I hate uncle Jamie," and declaring it a Christmas opportunity stolen by the Grinch, but that wouldn't be very green of me, and it is the holidays after all, so it was time for my heart to grow three sizes. So the next day I hopped back in the car and braved the ridiculous shopping crowds once again and ventured out to Michaels.
After scouring the store for anything that might work a bit better I found one lonely roll of bright green satin ribbon, which happened to be wired. I also found a selection of large bright green and slightly -- dare I say -- tacky floral picks that might just be crazy enough to work with my new theme of green. With supplies in hand and a long checkout line ahead I decided to give it another go.
The result? This time, Wendilocks (yep, that's me) declared it juuust right.





In fact, I love it. I was worried the green glitter would be too much, but when surrounded by the subtle natural greens, it all seems to balance out.
So I got to work on finishing the two other window sprays, as well as the two vertical swags for the french doors. One everything was in place I wrapped a bit of floral wire around the back of each item I created so that we would be able to hang them from the window sills.





Once the swags were ready to go, Alex hung each of them using the floral wire and 3M Command strips and hooks.





If you look closely at the original windows in our bedroom, you'll see they're in dire need of a restoration as well as the addition of custom storm windows. Maybe I'll ask Santa for that for Christmas...but back to the task at hand.
The final result of my 2011 exterior Christmas decorating...drumroll please...looks something like this:





And for good measure, here's a close up of the swags on the french doors. You may notice that they're slightly different. I could claim that this was done to add visual interest, but in fact it was a happy accident, born from the fact I couldn't find two matching large floral picks at Michael's.





So there you have it. I went green for the holidays this year, and all told, spent only about $25 for the finished product. (That's not counting the turquoise ribbon and floral picks as they've now been earmarked as wrapping accouterments.) Not too shabby.
What are your plans to spruce up your home for the holidays? Anyone run into temper-tantrum induced decorating dilemmas that you'd like to share so I don't feel quite so ashamed of my own? Are you using non-traditional colors for your home? All I want for Christmas is to hear all about it...oh and maybe some restored windows too.

PANCAKE DAY!!




    Many people are familiar with Mardi Gras celebrations on the day before Lent. But in Liberal Kansas, the day before Lent means just one thing....it's Pancake Day!
The friendly little competition between Liberal Kansas and Olney England, with women running down the streets of each town flipping pancakes, has been going on for more that 60 years. It is still the only race of its kind in the world.
    On Shrove Tuesday, at 11:55 p.m. the race begins, with the overall score standing at 33 wins for Liberal and 25 for Olney. In 1980 the score didn't count because a media truck blocked the finish line in Olney.






   It all started in 1950 from a magazine picture of the Olney women racing each other to the church. Liberal Jaycee President R.J. Leete contacted the Reverand Ronald Collins, Vicar of St. Peter and St. Paul's church in Olney, challenging their women to race against women of Liberal
    In Olney, the Pancake Race traditions date back more than 500 years to 1445. A woman engrossed in using up cooking fats (forbidden during Lent) was making pancakes. Hearing the church bells ring calling everyone to the shriving service, she grabbed her head scarf (required in church) and ran to the church, skillet and pancake in hand and still apron clad. In following years, neighbors got into the act and it became a race to see who could reach he church first and collect a "Kiss of Peace" from the verger ( bell ringer). The kiss is still the traditional prize in both races.




 

    Racers must still wear a head scarf and apron and the runner must flip her pancake at the starting signal, and again after crossing the finish line, to prove she still has her pancake.
    Winning scores have traded back and forth between the two towns. The record time was set in 2001 when 3 time winner, Lisa Spillman of Liberal, ran the 415 yard S -shaped course in 58.1 seconds.





    International Pancake Day in Liberal has expanded into a 4 day event, beginning with pancake eating and flipping contests, a cooking contest, and a parade. Other events include a talent show, an authentic English High Tea, the pancake races, and a shroving service.