Martha Stewart Monkey Cake

>> Friday, April 30, 2010

Francis lounging while Fifi does all the work

As promised, here are the picture of my birthday monkey cake. The recipe was from Martha Stewart, I had first seen it in the much missed Martha Stewart Kids magazine. Bradley used a different recipe for the interior, but it's still banana cake, of course.

I wasn't there, but these pictures were taken by Bradley so I could see that he had some help...
 Although Francis doesn't seem to be helping much at this point..
But he does seem to be helping himself to some icing sugar..
Yum! Francis is transfixed by the delicious icing.

And finally, the beautiful finished monkey cake. The cake dome has a lip around the bottom, so Bradley put the ears on a bit higher which makes the cake look a bit like a bear. Bradley used chocolate buttons for the eyes, cut ones for the nose and a twizzler for the mouth.
And just so you can see how it's made, here's the inside! The gist is that you use a circular pan for the bottom layer, and a bowl for the top layer. Bradley cooked the ears in ramekins. So clever.
And the cake was delicious! Next up, I've been obsessed lately with sewing dresses.. lots and lots of them..


More birthday treats

>> Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Vintage treats: small "train" suitcase,  apothecary glass jar, floral tin from England

One of my other birthday treats was a trip to St. Jacob's where there is a huge Farmers' market, with a giant Antiques & Collectibles warehouse across the road. When we first discovered the warehouse in the winter, we were hurrying home, so I only had half an hour to rush through, so the big treat was to come back this weekend with lots of time to look around.

I've been meaning to recommend the place as it's amazing. It's the kind of place where each dealer has their own partitioned "room" and the contents range from gorgeous antique furniture to cheap and cheerful $3 vintage tins. The sheer amount of stuff will put vintage lovers into a happy daze.

There are also a couple of places in the town that have antiques. I found the little glass apothecary jar from Hamel Brooms on King Street in the old blacksmith's shop. I'm not sure what I'll do with it but it had a pleasing quality about it that I couldn't resist.

Then Sunday was the Spring Trunk Show at the Workroom, I had a great time and picked up a few treats. It's hard not to get tempted by the charming handmade things that inevitably surround me every time Becky and Karyn curate a show.
This time I picked up a pocket pony (I hadn't realized these existed but immediately discovered that I needed one) and a green rabbit from Stitch Face who is just as sweet as her creations.
I also bought a pretty vintage robe from Becky, that I can't seem to stop wearing. This picture really isn't doing it justice - it has flattering vintage shaping and a charming floral print:
Finally I picked up some fabric I can't wait to sew something with, from Kalpna's rummage department and some vintage dress patterns from Karyn.
As always the Workroom is such a homey place to have a trunk show, so much fun chatting with everyone and wandering around looking at all the crafty inspiration. We had a beautiful day for it. Thank you to everyone who dropped by!

My other birthday treat was that Bradley made me my very own monkey cake! I'll post that next.. I'm warning you now that the sock monkeys helped out so you can skip that post if you can't take the silliness.


Spinning singles

>> Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I haven't posted about spinning in a bit so I thought I'd show some recent projects. I finished spinning the Koi Pond roving and was quite pleased with the results. When you dye roving in patches it's sometimes hard to predict how the finished yarn will turn out.

The main difference with spinning singles is that you're meant to spin with a little less twist. I also spun it a little bit thick and thin which is something you have to relearn after you've been spinning a while. You tend to get into a habit of spinning a certain way and I've been practising spinning thinner and more even yarn.

My next project is a beautiful blue and green merino braid from Freckleface Fibers on Etsy. It arrived like this:
Then I pulled it apart and wound it into balls like this:
And now I'm spinning it up!
It's so much fun spinning colourful braids like this, the colours shift as you go and you never get bored. Here's a detail:
Then yesterday was my birthday and one of my treats from Bradley was a surprise visit to a fibre shop he discovered. It's in Mt. Albert and it's called Gemini Fibres. I picked out lots of treats including a lovely new spindle made from white maple:
I also made up my own fibre sampler with lots of types of wool I haven't tried spinning before such as Falkland, Finn, Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) and Alpaca in beautiful natural colours. I can't wait to try each one!


Front hall makeover

>> Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My other little spring makeover was in the front hall. I'd already done a lot of work on this tiny space last year. First of all there was an odd curved panel at the top that didn't serve any purpose. Bradley removed that and I repaired the holes that were left in the walls.

This is the "before":
We replaced the light fixture with a little acorn light. This one had a long stem but Bradley managed to cut it shorter so that it wouldn't hang too low and the door could open.

And finally the walls and ceiling had bumpy stucco that I skim coated. In case you're wondering, that little step took forever and I wouldn't recommend it unless you really can't live with the texture. It's doable in a tiny space like this but I think you'd really want to hire a professional for a larger wall.

My only real tip is that I found it was easier to gradually build up coats and then fine tune at the end with very thin coats rather than relying too much on sanding. Sanding that stuff makes a big mess! In the end I think it was worth it. I painted the walls to match the living room pale blue grey colour, Benjamin Moore's Green Tint.

So this Spring there wasn't much left to do, but the space still needed a bit of decorating. I added some hooks on the wall that replaced the clothes rail that used to be there. Most of our coats stay in the basement closet, so we don't need to keep everything in the front hall.
Then I found an old shelf in our garage that was left behind by the previous owners. It was a dull brown, with a damaged area on the lower shelf. So I filled that, sanded, primed and painted it Cloud White.
Originally I was going to put the shelf in the living room, but then realized it fit the front hall perfectly. Yay! It's perfect for baskets of hats and mittens, stacks of library books and any things that should be heading out of the house. For a finishing touch, I sewed some basket liners with blue and white seersucker using a great basket liner tutorial I found here).

p.s. This coming Sunday you can find me here!


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