Wednesday, August 22, 2012


   This was found at www.busybeekidscrafts.com .  Lots and lots of great stuff to do with the kids (even the adults that want to make something of their own stuff)!

Easy Craft Clay

This Easy Craft Clay recipe is a great all purpose clay which can make many different craft projects, from beads to ornaments! It dries to a white, matte finish and can then be painted with either Tempera or acrylic craft paint.

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
This craft clay is easy to make, but requires the use of the stove, make sure children are supervised when making this craft!
Here's what you'll need...
• 1 box baking soda (about 2 cups)
• 1 cup cornstarch
• 11/2 cups water
• Sauce pan
• Bowl
• Spoon
• Plastic wrap

Here's how you make it...
1. Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring consistently, until it is too thick to stir with a spoon.

2. Cool for 15 minutes, or until the dough is cool enough to touch. Knead it for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. Keep dough wrapped in plastic.
Once you have molded it, it will take 1-2 days for the clay to dry. The length of time depends on how thick your craft is: If it is a flat ornament, it may only take 1 day, if it is thick it will take much longer. This clay can be painted with either Tempera or acrylic craft paints.


    Bilbao's ‘Great Week' (‘Semana Grande' or ‘Aste Nagusia'),  is the most important and recognizable fiesta in Bilbao. The celebration begins on the first Saturday after the 15th of August and lasts 9 days. Bilbao's ‘Semana Grande' has been officially celebrated since 1978 and has been taking place continuously year after year with the exception of the year 1983 when Bilbao suffered severe floods. During those 9 days in August the whole of Bilbao is vibrant and full of life and there is a great variety of things to see and do. Bilbao during its fiestas is definitely the place to be!!

• The first day of the fiestas will begin with the so-called txupinazo, which, since 2001, has taken place in the Plaza del Teatro Arriaga. This involves the launching of a rocket and the reading of the proclamation of the fiestas.

• One of the most interesting things to see is a spectacular fireworks show, which will take place everyday at 22.30 and can be watched from all areas of the city. Many pyrotechnists will take part in the show from all over Spain and also from other European countries.

• Bilbao's ‘Semana Grande' is a perfect opportunity for ‘corrida' fans to enjoy the bullfighting. As well as the fireworks, bullfights will also take place everyday in the Bilbao Bullring (Plaza de Toros) at 18.00. Although the tradition has raised a lot of controversy, bullfights are considered one of the most typical and significant Spanish traditions. In Bilbao's bullfights many widely known toreadors (toreros) will participate such as: Fermin Bohorquez, Manuel Jesus "El Cid", Julian Lopez "El Juli".

• There will also be a great opportunity to see the typical Basque traditions such as Basque dance. The dancers wear their traditional outfit and sometimes the dance requires the use of sticks and swords. Traditional Basque folk dances can be seen everyday except from Saturdays, at 19.00 in Plaza Nueva in Casco Viejo, the oldest part of the city. Each day a different type of Basque dance will be performed. Altogether there are approximately 400 different Basque folk dances each with its own story and significance. You can tell a good dancer by how high they jump, their double clicks, how high they kick, and their gracefulness.

• Music concerts form an important part of Bilbao's ‘Semana Grande' programme. There will be many concerts of different types of music taking place every day, so everyone will be able to find something suitable for them. Apart from concerts of local bands there will be a huge variety of widely known Spanish artists and internationally known bands from abroad. As for Spanish pop music stars there will be Rosario Flores (or simply Rosario), two-time Latin Grammy award-winning singer and actress, recognized thanks to Pedro Almodovar's Talk to Her (Hable con Ella) movie, where she played one of the main characters. The concert will take place on Tuesday 19th at 23.30 in Abandoibarra. For the fans of flamenco music there is an Argentinean concert from Huelva-born new voice of the flamenco scene, on Monday 18th, at 24:00 in Plaza Nueva. An example of an international artist performing this year would be Travis, a Scottish band performing Britpop, who have been awarded BRIT awards twice. Reggae fans, in turn, will be happy to participate in The Heptones concert, a Jamaican vocal trio, on Saturday 23rd at 24:00 in Plaza Nueva. However, many more concerts of different types of music will also be taking place during Bilbao's ‘Semana Grande'.

    Shoppers be warned, most city stores close down for the fiesta. The festival runs right through the night for nine days and come the weekend it is not unusual to still see people weaving through the throng as the sun rises. The streets are lined with marquees from various bars and societies, many accompanied by booming sound systems.
The whole week of fiestas in Bilbao is a great opportunity to get to know the traditional Basque and Spanish culture and also what fiesta means to Spaniards! See you there!!


   This nice tutorial comes from www.iambaker.net .  Truely a master of her craft!

How to Build a Layer Cake

One of the most common emails I get is “Can you do a tutorial on how to make a layer cake?”
And while I am no expert, I would love to share the tips and tricks that I use!

This is the SUPER FAST and EASY version.
Use a good recipe. This can be a box mix or your favorite homemade recipe. You are looking for a cake the bakes up flat and even and moist and firm. Easy right?
Just in case your cake does not bake evenly, have no fear! You can simply level your cake. There are three easy ways to do that:
Use leveler or a long serrated knife to skim off the top dome part of your cake.
If your cake has risen above the edges of your cake pan, you can rest the knife on the edges of the pan and use the pan as your guide.
As soon as your cake is done cooking, take a clean towel and lay it on top of your cake. Press gently and evenly. Tip: This only works if your cake is done cooking! So make sure you test it.
Make sure all your layers are the same height. 

Chill your layers before assembly. I find that working with a chilled or partially frozen cakes really helps. There is nothing worse than trying to assemble a layer cake and having it fall into pieces in your hands. And you totally know I am speaking from experience.
There are many methods to torting, or using frosting in between the layers of your cake. I like to do what is easiest and whatever method requires as few tools as necessary. (Yes, you may call it what it is. Lazy.)

I just decide before hand how thick I want my layer to be and then use an appropriate amount of frosting. One half cup is a nice thin layer on an 8in cake, but 1 cup of frosting is my go-to amount. I like frosting. Lots of it.
I typically use about a cup of frosting on a 6in as well as an 8in cake. I dont recommend that. You be normal and use less on that 6in cake, ok?
Place your first layer on your cake stand. Put frosting on it and use a small offset spatula to make frosting an even layer.
Place your next layer on top. Some frosting should “spill out” the sides and that is ok. Repeat this process; frosting, layer of cake, frosting, layer of cake, until you have added all your layers.
When making a layer cake it is important to do a crumb coat.
A crumb coat is simply a thin layer of frosting applied to a cake. The crumb coat is intended to seal in crumbs, hence the name, crumb coat. I talk more about it here, or you can watch a video here.
Some frosting may have spilled out, or your layers may not be perfectly aligned, or maybe your cake is slightly lopsided. Doing a crumb coat is a great opportunity to fill in any problem areas.

Use an offset spatula. I put a dollop on top of the cake and then use the spatula to bring it down over the sides, making sure to get the frosting all the way to to bottom.
If you have a rotating cake stand, you can place your spatula flat against the cake and slowly turn the stand. This will help smooth out the frosting and create an even coat.
Once your cake is covered in the crumb coat, I usually chill it. I like the cake the settle and the frosting to set.

To decorate a cake, I start by putting a smooth layer of frosting on. This is done the same way as the crumb coat. Place a dollop on top of the cake and pull it down over the sides using an offset spatula.
To smooth out sides, make sure cake is covered in an even layer of frosting, then place spatula flat against side of cake. Slowly turning cake, smooth out layer of frosting until you have polished, even coat.
This step takes practice, so don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t look perfect. Just keep at it until you are comfortable with how your cake looks!
I have also placed my cake stand directly on a rotating stand, and this helps me when smoothing out the edges.

Because I want everyone to enjoy cake decorating and hope to make it as easy as possible, I am giving away some of the tools that I frequently use!