Monday, July 9, 2012


How to make Paper Clay

I fell in love with sculpting with paper mache during my first project five years ago. However, I never really found a recipe that was worth the time and effort and mess that it took to get what I wanted. As a result, I used Celluclay for most projects. However, I recently stumbled upon an incredible blog called, Ultimate Paper Mache where Jonni (the artist and blogger) shares all sorts of tips, tutorials and recipes to help anyone on their way to successfully paper mache-ing. I am blown away by what Jonni can create, but I was especially grateful for the recipe she shared on how to make your own paper mache clay. Hot dog! It is easy as pie, quick, and works like charm!

For my purposes, I ended up altering the recipe just slightly so that I could get the thicker consistency that I like. Here's my version of the recipe but I strongly suggest popping over to Jonni's site where she posts all sorts of details that you might find handy):

Paper Clay:
2 Cups toilet paper
1 Cup regular joint compound (the premixed kind. Jonni recommends not using Dap brand since they changed their product and it doesn't work for the recipe anymore).
3/4 Cups paper mache paste or Elmers glue (much cheaper to use your own paste).
3/4 Cups flour
(The original recipe calls for Linseed Oil, but I didn't really find much difference, other than it was smelly and one more thing to keep out of reach of my boys.)

Start off by soaking your toilet paper in water:
When it is fully wet, remove cardboard center, squeeze out as much water as you can and break up into chunks.
Add all ingredients and mix on medium-high for 2-3 minutes and viola! You are ready to sculpt your heart out! Recipe yields 3 Cups of paper clay.



   Have you ever heard 18 000 voices singing at once? This emotional experience can be felt during Estonia's Song Festival, which occurs once every five years in Tallinn. Once in five years, tens of thousands of Estonians gather in Tallinn in the summertime to take part in the Song and Dance Festival.

song_festivalSong Festival tradition in Estonia is 140 years old

   The Song Festival is an enormous open-air choir concert held at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds with the participation of hundreds of choirs and thousands of singers. The number of participants in the Song Festival can reach up to 25 or 30 thousand, but the greatest number of people is on stage during the performance of the joined choirs—there are usually 18 000 singers on stage at that moment, and their powerful song touches even the most frigid Nordic disposition.
   Not every choir in Estonia is able to perform at the Song Festival. Due to the popularity of the festival, there is stiff competition among the choirs, and the repertoire is rehearsed for years in advance. Only the best choirs make it to the festival.

History of the Song Festivals

   In the 19th century, Estonia was a province of the Russian Empire, where German upper class landlords ruled the Estonian lower class - the peasants. The 1860s marked the beginning of the period of National Awakening. The Song Festival tradition began with the first Song Festival organised by Johann Voldemar Jannsen and the "Vanemuise" Society in Tartu in June 1869. Fifty-one male choirs and five brass bands encompassing 845 singers and musicians gathered in Tartu.

   The first Song Festival was a high point for the Estonian national movement. The Song Festival was also a great musical event, which created the Song Festival tradition. Six Song Festivals were held from 1879-1910, and they played an important role in the nation's cultural and economic awakening and growth. The tradition of holding Song Festivals every five years began during the first Estonian independence. During World War II the tradition of Song Festivals was interrupted, but it began again in 1947. Since 1950, the Song Festivals have been held every five years. 1969 was an exception because the 100th anniversary of the Song Festival was celebrated.
   The Song Festivals have taken place regardless of the political situation. The foreign authorities have tried to use the Song Festivals in their own interests. The Soviet regime always tied the Song Festivals to the "red holidays". Foreign and propagandist songs had to be sung in order to preserve the chance to sing Estonian songs. A good example of an Estonian song was "Land of my Fathers, Land That I Love" ("Mu isamaa on minu arm"), which during the occupation years became an unofficial anthem for the Estonians, and which, performed by the joined choirs to the standing audience, ended every Song Festival.

The Song Festival becomes a role model

   The term "the singing nation" expresses well the Estonian identity that has united the nation in its struggle for national independence before 1918 and during the period of the Soviet occupation (1941-1991). In 1988 began the so-called "Singing Revolution", based on the Song Festival tradition, when hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the Song Festival Grounds to make political demands and sing patriotic songs. More than 300 000 people participated in a huge event entitled "The Song of Estonia" in September 1988, and for the first time the re-establishment of Estonia's independence was openly demanded. There is a belief that Estonians sang themselves free from the Soviet occupation.

Song Festival Grounds

   The I, II, IV and V Song Festivals took place in Tartu, the rest in Tallinn. The present Song Festival Grounds beheld the first festival in 1928, on a specially erected stage. The present stage was built in 1960, when the XV Song Festival took place. The biggest joined choir that has ever sung on that stage was 24 500 people (during the 100th anniversary in 1969). The joined choir usually comprises of 18 000 people, the whole Song Festival team 25-30 000 people. On the Song Festival Grounds there is space for more than 100 000 spectators.

Dance Festival

dance_festivalAround 8 000 dancers take part of the Dance Festival

   The first Estonian Games, Dance and Gymnastics festival, held in 1934, was the precursor of the present Dance Festival. One and a half thousand folk dancers performed there.
   The Dance Festival is a complete performance with a certain theme. The dancers in their bright national costumes form colourful patterns on the dance field. The Dance Festival is usually held on the same weekend as the Song Festival. These two festivals commence with a united festive parade through the city from the centre of Tallinn to the Song Festival Grounds.
   The largest Dance Festival of all time (the 9th) took place in 1970 with over 10 000 performers. By then a structure based on age groups had developed and performers included toddlers and seniors, the dancing veterans. The youngest dancer at this festival was 4 years old and the oldest 76! All the following festivals have had the optimal 8 000 performers.
   In November 2003, UNESCO declared Estonia's Song and Dance Festival tradition a masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Recent and upcoming Song and Dance Festivals

   The 25th Song and Dance Festival took place from 2 - 5 July 2009 in Tallinn. The Song Festival celebrated its 140th anniversary, the Dance Festival its 75th. The total number of performers was 34 000 and they performed before an audience of 200 000!
   The next Song and Dance Festival is going to take place in 2014.


   This fine recipe comes from www.bakersroyale.com .  For that little snack before bedtime.  Goodluck!

Yup, I took the classic profiterole and destroyed it with some crazy. Snickers craziness. I turned a classic dessert into a three layer affair with some peanut butter mousse, sliced Snickers and drizzles of chocolate and caramel. I’m sure someone out there is probably pretty appalled that I am even classifying this as a profiterole dessert. But if you can think of a better name-leave a comment.

Snickers Profiteroles

So while I started out with the intent of making a classic profiterole, you know pate choux filled with ice cream and then drizzled with chocolate maybe some crushed nuts, but then I figured you guys might be tired of ice cream recipes. From there my mind went to a pastry cream center, but I kinda already did that here (from way back). Then it occured to me to go completely sideways with this and make it like a mini Snickers cake.

Snickers Profiteroles by Bakers Royale Snickers Profiteroles

It was either going to be a complete bust or a complete hit-no room for in between. I went with it.
And in one forkful, my friends kinda hate me now and love me more. They destroyed it. I expected nothing less. That’s not a brag. That’s a statement towards their love for all things candy filled and Snickers related. Matt, my forever picky husband who loves Snickers, picked out the Snickers slices and pate choux and ate that. He scraped his way around the peanut butter mousse and most of the drizzle. Of course he would find the “in between”. It’s maddening. Who eats his wife’s dessert like that? He does and he’s my maddening to love—and I’m crazy about him.

Snickers Profiteroles Set up Bakers Royale Snickers Profiteroles

And nevermind the two different styled photographs—I struggled with this set and I couldn’t decide which to go with so they both went into the post. The picture (iPhone pic) above was Instagrammed, with me pretty much ready to be done with photographing this post. See how I’m prepped on the left, well after that I had no where to go. No styling that came to mind. Nada. It’s really frustrating when you hit a creative wall like that. Ah, well, at least you guys can see what it is from the first two pics.
A few notes:
  • The pate choux recipe is from Alton Brown. Follow the recipe exactly. For the flour I used bread flour not all purpose flour. Pate choux can be made one day in advance and kept in an air tight container once completely cooled. Place a paper towel inside the container to absorb any moisture. This will keep the pate choux from becoming chewy if there is moisture.
  • The mousse recipe is from a fellow blogger Caroline of Chocolate & Carrots. If you haven’t been to her blog— go, she’s lovely as is her blog. I adapted the recipe by lowering the tofu portion and increasing the heavy cream. The tofu gives the mousse a heavier body for piping and more structure for layering. I usually use gelatin for structure, but I wanted to give the tofu a shot.
  • The Snickers profiteroles should be assembled the day of and kept refrigerated until 20 minutes before serving.

Snickers Profiteroles

Makes about 4 dozen | Preparation: Line bake sheet with parchment paper. Heat oven to 425 degrees in F.


Pate choux
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 stick butter (6 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar plus
  • 5 3/4 ounces flour
  • 1 cup eggs, about 4 large eggs and 2 whites
Peanut butter mousse
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 ounces soft (silken) tofu
  • 1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
For assembly
  • 4 full size Snickers bars, sliced thin
  • 6 oz. caramel sauce
  • 6 oz. chocolate sauce

To make pate choux:
  1. Place water, butter and sugar in a medium size sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat and add flour, using a wooden spoon or a sturdy spatula stir mixture until it comes together. Then return pan to heat. Continue stirring and working the mixture until all flour is incorporated and dough forms a ball. Transfer mixture into a standing mixer bowl and let cool for 3 or 4 minutes.
  2. Fit stand mixer with a whisk attachment and set mixer to low. Add 1 egg at a time, making sure each egg is completely incorporated before continuing. Once all eggs have been added and the mixture is smooth put dough into piping bag fitted with a round tip. Immediately pipe into golfball-size shapes, 2 inches apart onto parchment lined sheet pans. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown. Once they are removed from the oven pierce with a paring knife immediately to release steam.

To make peanut butter mousse:
  1. Place cold heavy cream in a cold bowl and using a hand mixer beat until soft peaks form.
  2. Place tofu, peanut butter, sifted powdered sugar in a food processor or blender and pulse until all the ingredients until well blended.
  3. Fold whipped cream into tofu and peanut butter mixture in three batches. Chill mousse for 30-40 minutes before piping.

  1. Slice profiteroles into three horizontal layers. Fit a pastry bag with preferred tip.
  2. Pipe mousse onto bottom profiterole layer. Place two thinly sliced Snickers on top and then drizzle with with caramel and chocolate sauce. Continuing layering until all three layers are completed.


    Dover’s Hill, above Chipping Campden and overlooking the Vale of Evesham, is a beautiful plateau commanding extensive views from the plains of the Avon and the Severn to the foothills of the Welsh mountains. Owned by the National Trust, it provides an ideal setting for open air games.
    Each year, on the traditional date of Friday after Spring Bank Holiday (the date for the Games this year will be held on Friday 3rd June 2011 on Dover's Hill starting at 7.30pm), the hill echoes with the shouts and cheers of competitors and spectators as Robert Dover’s Cotswold ‘Olimpick’ Games (not Olympic Games) are celebrated. Bands march, cannon fire, rustic activities and wrestling take place, and the evening is brought to a close with fireworks and a torchlight procession into Campden followed by dancing in the square.

World Championship Shin Kicking ... open to all comers.

400 Years of Olimpick Passion

Shin Kicking - Olimpick-style
    An Olympic Games held in London in 2012 will mark a unique anniversary - it will be exactly 400 years from the moment that the first stirrings of Britain's Olympic beginnings can be identified'. This statement was made by no other than the British Olympic Association in their successful bid for the games.

    They continued, 'In 1612 in the tiny village (we forgive them that) of Chipping Campden, Robert Dover opened the first 'Cotswold Olimpicks', an annual sporting fair that honoured the ancient Games of Greece. Those early 'Olimpick' competitors were as remote as you could imagine from the Olympic stars of today, and the 'sports' included singlestick, wrestling, jumping in sacks, dancing and even shin-kicking. But whatever the eccentric nature of the event, this was the pre-dawn of the Olympic Movement, and the Cotswold Games began the historical thread in Britain that was ultimately to lead to the creation of the modern Olympics.

Origins of Robert Dover's Games
    The James have a long history, possibly going back to the time when the hill was the site of the Kiftsgate Hundred Court.
    Their present form takes much from the records of the Games in the early seventeenth century. Prominent is the picture of the Games published in 1636 with a collection of poems entitled Annalia Dubrensia in praise of the Games by reputable poets of the period.

    The title page describes this as 'Olimpick'. The picture depicts Robert Dover presiding over his Games. On the summit of the hill a castle structure has guns firing to start events, and there are representations of the different activities - dancing, backswords, coursing, throwing the sledge hammer, spurning the barre, pike drill, tumbling and even shin-kicking.
    The poems by Michael Drayton, Ben Jonson, Thomas Randolph, and others describe the excitement of the contest, the good-humoured rivalry, and, above all, the sense of good honest sportmanship which Robert Dover engendered.

Robert Dover
    Robert Dover (1582-1652) came from Great Ellingham in Norfolk. After being educated at Cambridge and Gray's Inn, he came to Saintbury in 1611 and soon gave vitality to the Games which still bear his name.
The Games probably date from 1612. According to the historian Wood he was given permission from James I to hold them. In the 1636 portrayal he is shown wearing the clothes of James I. There is a general impression of a warm-hearted friendly man who believed in harmless activities.

Shin Kicking World Championship
    Shin-kicking has once again become a regular feature of Robert Dover's Olimpick Games, much to the delight of the spectators. Contestants hold each other by the shoulder and try to kick shins and bring opponents to the ground. A Stickler, the ancient name for our judge, makes sure that shins are hit before a fall can count. Our kickers wear the traditional white smocks associated with shepherds. They are allowed to protect their shins with straw.
    The Champion is the winner of the best of three challenges in the final bout, having kicked his way successfully through the early rounds.

    The sport dates back to the original Games. The 1636 picture shows shinkicking taking place, probably as the underplay of Cotswold Wrestling. The activity continued through to the 18th century.
    The poet William Somervile provided a lively account of Hobbinol of the Vale and Pastorel of the Wolds in 1740. In the early 19th century the activity was more brutal, with villages challenging each other, contestants hardening shins with coal hammers and wearing boots tipped with iron. Many a leg was broken! We still have pictures of Joe Chamberlain and Ben Hopkins shin-kicking to make the 1951 Festival Games memorable.

Some of The Other Events and Entertainment
    Expect to be welcomed to Dover's Hill by the sound of an old time Fairground Organ.
    The Campden Morrismen, one of the oldest groups in the country, will provide you with some lively dancing, in contrast to the stirring sound of the Coventry Corps of Drums and the lilt of the pipes from the St Andrew's Pipe Band of Cheltenham. Elsewhere on the upper slope you will find a Punch and Judy presentation, and may be able to gurn through a horse-collar.
    Providing an exhibition of backsword fighting which was a feature of the Games for three centuries will be some doughtly Londoners.
Not to be missed is the rousing conclusion to the Games, the lighting of the bonfire by the Scuttlebrook Queen, the fireworks that light the night sky, and then the sight of thousands of people in the torchlight procession wending their way from the hill down to the Square in Chipping Campden.

Stuffing socks before the shin kicking

The Scuttlebrook Wake
    The festivities in Campden do not end with the Friday night. There are Scuttlebrook children's races in the High Street early on the Friday evening. But the Scuttlebrook Wake, so named after the Cattlebrook or Scuttlebrook which used to flow through Leasbourne until it was covered over in 1831, is celebrated mainly on the Saturday afternoon with a procession of the Scuttlebrook Queen and the crowning of the new queen in the Square.

    There is a colourful display of imaginative fancy dress and decorated floats, children dance round the maypole. And after all this the Street Fair is declared open.


   Some of man’s greatest discoveries have been made entirely by accident. If it weren’t for many of these things, life would be very different for us. This is a list of the 10 greatest accidental discoveries.

10. Viagra

   Millions of men around the world owe a salute to the hard working stiffs in the Welsh village of Merthyr Tydfil where, in 1992, their hard work testing this new angina drug produced firm evidence of its unexpected sex enhancing power. This discovery would be much higher on the list if it weren’t for the fact that it is the cause of 90% of the spam I receive every day!

9. Chocolate Chip Cookies

    According to Nestle, Mrs. Wakefield (owner of the Toll House Inn) was making chocolate cookies but ran out of regular baker’s chocolate, so she substituted it with broken pieces of semi-sweet chocolate, thinking that it would melt and mix into the batter. It clearly did not, and the chocolate chip cookie was born. Wakefield sold the recipe to Nestle in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate chips (instead of patenting it and making billions!) Every bag of Nestle chocolate chips in North America has a variation of her original recipe printed on the back (margarine is now included both as a variant on butter and for those people who want to pretend it is healthy).

8. Popsicles

   The Popsicle was invented by an 11 year who kept it secret for 18 years. The inventor was Frank Epperson who, in 1905, left a mixture of powdered soda and water out on the porch, which contained a stir stick. That night, temperatures in San Francisco reached a record low. When he woke the next morning, he discovered that it had frozen to the stir stick, creating a fruit flavored ice treat that he humbly named the epsicle. 18 years later he patented it and called it the Popsicle.

7. Artificial Sweetener

   Like many artificial sweeteners, the sweetness of cyclamate was discovered by accident. Michael Sveda was working in the lab on the synthesis of anti-fever medication. He put his cigarette down on the lab bench and when he put it back in his mouth he discovered the sweet taste of cyclamate. Aspartame was discovered in 1965 by James M. Schlatter, a chemist working for G.D. Searle & Company. Schlatter had synthesized aspartame in the course of producing an anti-ulcer drug candidate. He discovered its sweet taste serendipitously when he licked his finger, which had accidentally become contaminated with aspartame. Saccharin (the oldest artificial sweetener) was first produced in 1878 by Constantin Fahlberg, a chemist working on coal tar derivatives in Ira Remsen’s laboratory at the Johns Hopkins University, and it was he who, accidentally, discovered its intensely sweet nature.

6. Brandy

   Initially wine was distilled as a preservation method and as a way to make the wine easier for merchants to transport. It was also thought that wine was originally distilled to lessen the tax which was assessed by volume. The intent was to add the water removed by distillation back to the brandy shortly before consumption. It was discovered that after having been stored in wooden casks, the resulting product had improved over the original distilled spirit. No one is sure who it was that discovered the delightful taste of this distilled liquor, but he was clearly guided by God in its discovery for the betterment of man.

5. Teflon

   Teflon was invented accidentally by Roy Plunkett of Kinetic Chemicals in 1938. Plunkett was attempting to make a new CFC refrigerant, the perfluorethylene polymerized (say that 3 times fast!) in a pressurized storage container. In this original chemical reaction, iron from the inside of the container acted as a catalyst. In 1954, French engineer Marc GrĂ©goire created the first pan coated with Teflon non-stick resin under the brand name of Tefal after his wife urged him to try the material, that he’d been using on fishing tackle, on her cooking pans. Teflon is inert to virtually all chemicals and is considered the most slippery material in existence – second only to the political wrangling of President George Bush.

4. Microwave

   Percy LeBaron Spencer of the Raytheon Company was walking past a radar tube and he noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket melted. Realizing that he might be on to a hot new product he placed a small bowl of popcorn in front of the tube and it quickly popped all over the room. Tens of millions of lazy cooks now have him to thank for their dull food!

3. Potato Chips

   The first potato chip was invented by George Crum (half American Indian half African American) at Moon’s Lake House near Saratoga Springs, New York, on August 24, 1853. He was fed up with the constant complaints of a customer who kept sending his potatoes back to the kitchen because they were too thick and soggy. Crum decided to slice the potatoes so thin that they couldn’t be eaten with a fork. Against Crum’s expectation, the customer was ecstatic about the new chips. They became a regular item on the lodge’s menu under the name “Saratoga Chips” and a large contributing factor of the Western world’s obesity problems.

2. LSD

   LSD was first synthesized on November 16, 1938 by Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland, as part of a large research program searching for medically useful ergot alkaloid derivatives. Its psychedelic properties were unknown until 5 years later, when Hofmann, acting on what he has called a “peculiar presentiment,” returned to work on the chemical. While re-synthesizing LSD-25 for further study on April 16, 1943, Hofmann became dizzy and was forced to stop work. In his journal, Hofmann wrote that after becoming dizzy he proceeded home and was affected by a “remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness”. Hofmann stated that as he lay in his bed he sank into a not unpleasant “intoxicated like condition” which was characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. He stated that he was in a dreamlike state, and with his eyes closed he could see uninterrupted streams of “fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors.” The condition lasted about two hours after which it faded away. Following this, he took a massive dose on what has become known as Bicycle Day. You can read more about Bicycle day on Wikipedia. It is worth the read!

1. Penicillin

   In 1928, Scottish Scientist Sir Alexander Fleming was studying Staphylococcus – the bacteria that causes food poisoning. He turned up at work one day and discovered a blue-green mould that seemed to be inhibiting growth of the bacteria. He grew a pure culture of the mould and discovered that it was a Penicillium mould. After further experiments, Fleming was convinced that penicillin could not last long enough in the human body to kill pathogenic bacteria, and stopped studying it after 1931, but restarted some clinical trials in 1934 and continued to try to get someone to purify it until 1940. The development of penicillin for use as a medicine is attributed to the Australian Nobel Laureate Howard Walter Florey – he shared the Nobel Prize with Fleming and Ernst Boris Chain.