Saturday, July 23, 2011

Home Renovations: The Bedroom

I recently moved into a new house and I've done A LOT of renovations.  I'm going to start my renovation recap with one of the bedrooms.  I was inspired by an etsy treasury I created sometime last year that featured carnival colors and circus staples.  For my color palette, I wanted to go with the bright pastels you see on carnival rides:  sea green, hot pink and baby pink, and pale yellow.
To recreate the theme, I used a base coat of Valspar's Mermaid's Song, and created a trim in Valspar's Hot Passion Pink.  The trim was easy and relatively mess free.  I think it took me about two hours to complete the entire border.  I chose a damask pattern I found at Michael's.  My only complaint is that once I saw it on the walls, I wanted to paint it everywhere.  Once I find a crafty idea I like, I sprint with it!

I wanted something really cool for the walls, and I found an etsy seller that matched my aesthetic perfectly.  Eyeshuttertoforget sells amazing vintage-inspired prints that are beautiful, whimsical, calming, and nostalgic, all at the same time.  I love the subject and the colors.

I wanted the prints to make a statement, so I chose three 16x20 photographs.  Deciding which three I wanted was so difficult; there are so many fabulous prints to choose from!  I finally decided on the three above.  I bought silver poster frames on sale at Michael's, and I used hot pink spray paint on plain cardboard to make the mat. 

I absolutely adore all the prints.  They arrived super quickly and in perfect condition.  The seller even sent along a little 5x7 freebie of a merry-go-round horse.  I love everything from this shop and I definitely want to get more photographs.  

I added a fun and sparkly vase with glittered flowers to complement the pictures.  The vase is an empty wine bottle from World Market, and the flowers are from Michael's - I edged the them in glue and sprinkled them with glitter. 
Also complementing the theme are pieces of hard candy made from glass that I inherited from my grandma.  The cabinet is my most prized possession - my amazingly talented significant other made it for me for Valentine's Day a couple of years ago.  

He designed and constructed the entire piece completely by hand.  I am encouraging him to do some pieces for his etsy shop WhiskeyBent; right now he sells hand-tooled leather flasks that he literally cannot keep in stock.  I also made my own decoupaged light switch plates to match the decor.  Tutorial coming in the next post! (Yeah, I know - he can make an entire piece of furniture from scratch and I can is so not fair).  


Sunday, July 17, 2011


I have never had a cupcake better than those from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  I'm serious - not only will your cupcakes be beautifully party-ready, as soon as anyone takes a bite, all you will hear is "mmmmhmmm."  I took the Coconut Lime Cupcakes (pg. 107) to a faculty luncheon at my school, and everyone went crazy for them.  The best thing about this book is that the cupcakes are made to impress in both design and flavor.  This is probably my #1 favorite cookbook, and it should be a staple on every dessert-lover's shelf.

The recipes are simple and delicious.  Many of the recipes use similar ingredients, so once you purchase those staples, you're good to go for a variety of different recipes.  Admittedly, some of the ingredients are not going to be in your pantry to begin with, but I've had no trouble finding them at Earth Fare.  If you've got a health food store in your area, you're golden, but even if you don't, many of the odder ingredients can be substituted for something else.    

These were the among the first cupcakes I made from the book.  To the left are Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemony Frosting.  I used the Lemony Buttercream frosting and added a bit of lemon zest for decoration.  They were soooo good - spicy and sweet, perfect for the holidays.  To the right are the Maple Cupcakes with Creamy Maple Frosting and Sugared Walnuts.  I loved the nutty flavor combined with the maple, but the frosting was not my favorite.  Other people loved it, but I thought the soy milk powder gave it an odd flavor and a downright icky texture.  If I were to do them again, I would use the simple buttercream recipe and add a dollop of maple syrup to that recipe.  On the plus side, the sugared walnuts were so good, my family ate half of them before they even made it on the cupcakes!

I turned to this book again when I was put in charge of my friend's bridal shower.  To the left is my favorite so far - the Mucho Margarita Cupcake.  I did them in a hurry, so they look a mess,  but they were amazing.  Something about the salt in the icing just works with the sweetness of the cupcake and the flavor of the tequila; plus, they've got just the right amount of novelty for Cinco de Mayo or a 21st birthday party.  I especially love the colorful rim of sugar around the edge!  I also made Green Tea Cupcakes with Green Tea Glaze and Almond Flowers (on the right).  They looked so lovely, especially for a bridal shower, but the flavor was so-so.  Part of that was my fault - the recipe called for matcha green tea powder, which I couldn't find anywhere, so I used regular green tea powder instead.  Big mistake.  The cupcakes turned golden brown instead of light green, and they tasted like fake sweetener.  I wouldn't recommend this recipe because the ingredients are a pain to find, and it calls for a lot of things most people don't have in the pantry and will never use again (I'm looking at you, $6 tube of vegan marzipan!).

Another of my favorites is the Crimson Velvet Cupcakes with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting.  Here is my recipe (adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World):

1 C Almond Milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 3/4 C whole wheat flour
1 C sugar
1 tbs cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C canola oil
1 tbs red food coloring (make sure it does not contain carmine)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp Chocolate Almondine flavor (or similar chocolate flavoring)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line your muffin tin.
2. Mix the almond milk and vinegar in a medium bowl - you'll use this later.
3.  Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
4.  Add the rest of the wet ingredients to the almond milk concoction.
5.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing well.  Add more food coloring if necessary, though I don't care for an overly red cake.
6.  Pour batter into cupcake liners and bake 20-22 minutes, depending on your oven.  They took 22 minutes in mine.  Cool completely.

1/4 C Earth Balance
1/2 C Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese
2 1/2 C Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla extract

1.  Combine all ingredients using a mixer.  Make sure the Earth Balance and cream cheese are at room temperature before mixing.
2.  Place frosting in the refrigerator to cool.
3.  Pipe onto cupcakes.