Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wedding Cakes

This article is about decorating, but not homes.  It's all about cakes.  My great niece (Nikita) got married September 6th.  Nikita told me some time ago that if she ever got married, she wanted me to bake her wedding cake.  I took a cake decorating class at Michael's about a year ago.  The instructor also taught a 3 hour session on tiered-cakes.  This was my first time to do a wedding cake.  I go to a few weddings a year and my favorite part of the ceremony is the wedding cake.  Wedding cakes always look so beautiful to me.  Sadly, when you bite into most of them, the cake part is horrible.  I've always been pretty good at baking cakes from scratch.  So, I decided to take the cake decorating class so that I could make my cakes look good.  For Nikita's cake, I did the 10 inch base in Italian Cream Cake, the 8 inch tier in Red Velvet, and the 6 inch tier in Chocolate.  All tiers are frosted in cream cheese frosting.  I did the frosting in a rustic style--that seems to be the popular look with wedding cakes.

 I also baked the groom's cake.  It was Chocolate with chocolate frosting.  The groom (Eugene) loves to fish and so did his father.  Unfortunately, Eugene's father unexpectedly passed away in July.  I did the cake with a fishing theme to honor Eugene's father.  I thought I would have trouble finding a fishing boat and fisherman, but Little Rock has a local cake supply store and the store had several in stock.  Here's the finished product:

It's a lot of work and engineering that goes into putting wedding cakes together.  I found this out the hard way when I work up Saturday morning and the wedding cake looked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  I originally did a stacked cake.  Friday evening, I stored the cake in the refrigerator.  When I work up Saturday morning, the entire cake was leaning.  I knew that I could not take the cake to my niece's wedding in that condition.  So, I dismantled the cake and got the bottom two tiers level.  I had trouble getting the top tier straight, so I just threw it away, even thought I baked it from scratch.  Don't worry, I had plenty of eggs and flour.  I baked the layers again and added dowels to prevent this tier from leaning.  I decided to put the top tier on pillars.  Everything was nice and level at my house. 

The wedding was an outdoor event.  I knew there would be trouble with a cake outdoors; especially in the summer months.  The icing got very soft and right before the cake was ready to be cut, the top tier slid completely off the cake.  Luckily, the bride and groom had their photos taken with the cake prior to this happening.  I took the top tier and placed it in a box for my the couple's 1 year anniversary.

I can take "wedding cakes" off my bucket list. It's something I've always wanted to do and I am so glad I got the chance to bake one for my niece's wedding. Hopefully, I will get the opportunity to bake another wedding cake.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Old Smokie to "Gentryfied"

What I am about to show you is not exactly home decor, but I wanted to share with you one of the best "before" and "after" photos.

I had this old grill or smoker in my backyard for a few years.  My brother Dennis gave it to me about 7 years ago.  He and his wife bought it and never cooked on it.  When Dennis gave it to me, the grill had a little rust on it but it wasn't too bad.  I purchased a cover for it, but after it was exposed to the weather for a few years under Dennis' care, parts of the grill had started rusting and the wood pieces were falling apart.  I did some pretty good cooking on this grill, but I haven't cooked on it for a few years.  In fact, I moved the grill from my deck and placed it in my yard to make more room on my porch and deck area.  Once I moved the grill, it really started falling apart and the rust was spreading all over the grill.  Here's what the grill looked like about a month ago:

Yeah, it's pretty bad.  Notice the rust and the wood pieces falling apart.  Old Smokie is looking a little sad.  So, I decided to give the grill to the guy who takes care of my yard (Calvin).  But, Calvin never had room on his trailer to take the grill.

I made a new friend back in November 2013.  I bought a new car and my salesman (Gentry) and I must have been separated at birth.  We both have the same warped sense of humor.  Gentry is a man of many talents and hobbies.  One of his hobbies is woodworking.  I decided to ask Gentry if he could make new wood pieces for my grill.  I told him that I could sand the rust areas and paint the grill with the paint made for high heat.  Gentry and his girlfriend Jamie came by to pick up Old Smokie.  Little did I know what Gentry had in store for my grill.  I got to see a little bit of his work over the few weeks he had the grill.  For instance, I saw that Gentry had pressure washed, sanded, and painted the grill.  He also purchased new parts for it.  He purchased new wheels for the grill and painted the inset of the wheels chrome.  Gentry told me he had a surprise for me that would be revealed at the end.  I guessed what the surprise would be, but I still had no idea what it would look like.  After several weeks of Gentry working hard and sweating out in his garage, here is what the grill looks like today:

Pretty fricking unbelievable!!!  Never in my wildest dream did I think my grill could ever look this good.  Yes, my grill has been "Gentryfied".  In fact, it looks too good to even cook on.  Gentry did a total transformation of the grill inside and out.  Gentry and Jamie, a rack of ribs will be waiting on you!

Monday, July 7, 2014

An Intriguing Look For A Kitchen

In most homes I visit, the kitchen cabinets are either stained wood or painted.  The cabinets are usually all done in the same finish--top and bottom.  Occasionally, I will see a kitchen island done in a different finish than the rest of the cabinets.  This gives the kitchen a nice visual break.  While looking through my various decorating magazines and websites, I'm starting to see a lot of kitchens in which the top cabinets are painted a different color than the bottom cabinets.  I've seen this done at a few designer showcase homes I've visited.  At first I thought it was a little strange, but the more pictures I see with this look, I'm really starting to like it.  I think it gives the kitchen some interest.  I thought about this look for my kitchen but I wasn't sure how it was going to work for me.  I have a cabinet that is my pantry and there was no way to paint that cabinet two different colors.  Also, I didn't know what to do with the surround for my refrigerator.  I suppose I could have painted the pantry and refrigerator surround the same as the bottom color and then paint the top cabinets a different color.  But in the end, I decided on one color.  Here are a few great examples of the top cabinets painted a different color than the bottom cabinets:

I'll admit, you have to be a little brave to try this in your kitchen, but I think the end results are amazing!

One Room - Three Different Looks!

I saw this on HGTV's website and I wanted to share.  This is a great example of using pillows and other accessories to change the look of a room.  If you have neutral furniture to work with, you are halfway there.

The room started out looking pretty plain:

It's not a bad look if you don't like a lot of color, but it's a little drab for my taste.  Now here is the room done in a fuchsia and orange color palette:

It doesn't even look like the same room!  Here is the room using a purple palette:

And finally, here is the room done in a blue palette:

I don't know which room I love the best.  All three look great to me!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Giving Old Planters New Life!

I have a covered back porch with a deck attached.  I rarely sit back there.  I think it's because I spend more time on my neighbor's deck.  Fortunately, my deck gets the morning sun so it is shaded in the early evening hours.  A few years ago, I purchased my wicker love seat and two chairs.  And, I decided to paint my former green table dark brown.  I changed out the cushions on the love seat and chairs last summer.  I've had the same flower pots for a while.  I believe I had them at my last house.  I seriously thought about getting rid of them because I haven't had live plants in the planters for quite some time.  I travel a lot and live plants would be dead by the time I returned home at the end of the week.  I've resorted to using silk plants--I know it's cheating, but at least the fake plants put some color on my deck.  I ran across a photo of bright orange and pink planters.  I liked the combination of the pink and orange together, so this was the inspiration I needed to paint the planters on my deck.

For most of the day, I was outside spray painting the six planters on my deck fuchsia and bright orange.  You can really go crazy with color in outdoor spaces.  Here is what my planters looked like before:

They were pretty blah!!

The transformation begins.

I used Rustoleum Painters Touch spray paint with primer.  I originally was going to paint the planters red and yellow.  I purchased the paint but when I saw the inspiration photo, I changed my mind about those colors.

So by 4:00 pm today, I finally completed the last planters and here is the end result:

This is a pot rester.  it keeps the planter from resting on the top of the deck or other hard surface.  It allows the water to drain from the planter.  It was gray and I spray painted them orange and fuchsia.

Oh yeah, Thelma and Louise look great with the planters!

I bought new flowers, the geraniums were starting to look a little faded from the sun.

Here is my "to-do" list for my deck and patio:

  • Purchase a rug for the patio.
  • Paint my table and chairs the color of Thelma and Louise.
  • Pressure wash and stain the deck and fence.
Maybe I'll start spending more time on MY deck instead of my neighbor's!

If you have planters that look a little tired and worn, refresh them by painting them a bright, fun color!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thelma and Louise

Thelma and Louise have a new look.  I am in the process of sprucing up my deck and covered back porch.  My neighbor thought that I needed to infuse more color into my outdoor space.  I started this project about two weeks ago, but mother nature did not cooperate at all. It has been raining everyday in Little Rock for the past two weeks.  Last weekend, I spray painted the cranes a reddish-orange.  Here is a sneak preview.  Stay tuned for the completed project....

Thelma and Louise Before

Thelma and Louise after their color makeover

Pop, Pop, Pop!!!

If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you know that I like color.  But, I also like neutrals.  My first two living room sofas had color and patterns on the fabric.  In the 80s and 90s I tended to let my furniture be the prominent feature.  My first sofa was purchased when the "country" look was very popular.  It was a camelback sofa that was blue with a pink plaid pattern woven through the fabric.  Don't judge me!!  I grew tired of the country look and 10 years later I purchased my second set of living room furniture.  My second sofa was a tuxedo style (3 cushion back and seating).  The base of the fabric was taupe/cream but the pattern was floral (burgundy and green).  In my opinion, having furniture with patterned fabric makes it more difficult to decorate.  Also, you are pretty much stuck with the colors in the fabric for as long as you have the sofa.  You have to be very good at mixing patterns when changing out accessory pillows if your sofa fabric is patterned.

The last furniture I purchased for my living room is definitely a neutral, although there is a tone-on-tone paisley print on the fabric.  I purposely picked a neutral fabric because I wanted to be able to pop different colors in my space, based on the seasons and holidays.  A sofa with color can also be a neutral, but it needs to be free of a pattern or at least an overbearing pattern.

Here is a good example of a neutral space with turquoise for the color that pops.  Notice the lamp, vase, pillows, throw, and benches, and even the sweater are all the same color.  

The headboard and the bedskirt are patterned, but the coverlet is a neutral solid.  The wall covering is also a neutral, even with the stripes.  The mood of this bedroom can be easily changed by changing out the color of the accessories.  

Color popping is great if you are afraid to paint your walls.  It's also great for people who live in apartments or rental property and aren't allowed to paint the walls.

I really like this living room.  It would be so easy to change the look of this room by changing out all of the red accessories.  You can always add pattern in a neutral space by selecting pillows and throws that are patterned.

Here is another example of a living room where fuchsia is the color that pops:

I can see changing out the fuchsia for orange, yellow, green, purple, and ......  You see where this is going?