five layer pink ombre cake

Gwen’s Thursday Lego Club is over, but she now has soccer after school on Mondays so Treat Day has moved up in the week. Monday is typically a nice, easy day for me as Taylor takes Gwen to school and Sym picks her up from soccer, meaning I don’t have to walk down the hill with the daycare kids AT ALL. Except this week Taylor was sick int he morning and Sym was sick in the afternoon, so I had to do it all anyway. Thankfully I started baking early enough in the day that I was (mostly) finished this cake before I had to run out.

I mostly made this as a treat for Gwen; I recently baked a white cake with pink icing and she keeps requesting I make it again, but instead I switched it up and made a pink cake with white icing!

The get the different shades of pink for the ombre I divided the batter evenly between five bowls (using a kitchen scale, each bowl had about 200g of batter) and used white, pink and a little purple food colouring in the following quantities:
– 5 drops white
– 3 drops pink + 1 drop white
– 6 drops pink + 1 drop white
– 9 drops pink + 1 drop purple + 1 drop white
– 15 drops pink + 3 drops purple + 1 drop white

I also added a few drops of white colouring to the frosting because the butter + vanilla gave it a slight yellow tint and I wanted it REALLY white.

I baked the layers in my 5-layer cake pan set for 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. Once baked, cooled and removed from the pans, I cut a sliver off the top of each layer to level it (I should have levelled them more tbh) I assembled the cake. I put just a small amount of frosting between each layer since I knew there would be plenty on the outside, plus with 5 layers this cake was already tall enough! I crumb-coated the outside, chilled it in the fridge to set it and then frosted the final coat. It might not look like anything special but the best crumb coat I’ve ever done is under there!

These are my go-to recipes for white cake and buttercream icing. My small cake stand (the perfect size for a 6-inch cake) is from HomeSense.

a to zed

This afternoon I went to go put some art up in the playroom (the walls have been pretty bare after repainting) but I can’t find my alphabet poster. I still have the frame but the posted is who knows where. Luckily I still have all my old designs from my 2013 diy (I can’t believe it’s been FIVE years since I made this) so I quickly adjusted the colours to this pretty blue and ordered a new one from Staples. You can download this new version here, or check out the original post for other colours/styles.

play kitchen remodel reveal


please ignore the two-tone paint job on the walls, I haven’t finished repainting the playroom yet! The space behind the kitchen on the right is where the minicribs for the daycare kids will be stored when not in use.

Last spring when we were doing a big apartment purge in preparation for having new floors installed, one of the things I got rid of was my old blue retro-style play kitchen from KidKraft. Long time readers will know I’d had that thing forever, and it was pretty much the last one they made before they redesigned the door hinges- mine were always falling off. It was definitely time to replace it, but I wanted something different so it took some time.


clear plastic bins from InterDesign; play food & dishes mostly Ikea, Melissa & Doug, and Green Toys

I decided that a corner kitchen would be a better fit; since I rearranged the apartment I have a large playroom space and a bigger kitchen would accommodate more children, as well as provide plenty of storage for all the play food and dishes. I also wanted it to look nice, and so I spent a lot of time browsing blogger playroom tours, haha! I really fell in love with the white corner kitchen I saw here on Hello Baby Brown but unfortunately that colourway was discontinued (I emailed KidKraft to ask) and the other one available for that model was a dark black-brown colour that wasn’t what I wanted.

Early on in my search I added this white & pink corner kitchen to my wishlist, even though I hated the pink, because if push came to shove I thought I could do some light play kitchen remodelling. Then on Black Friday it went deeply on sale and push really did come to shove! I had to wait until I had some time off work to get started so this was my big project over winter break.


photo from KidKraft

This is not quite a Do-It-Yourself, more like a I-Did-This-And-You-Could-Too. I would have liked to show everything step by step but most of the work was done in the evenings when it was too dark to take decent pictures (I could barely take them even now!), however it’s all fairly straightforward. I basically only changed four things:

– the pink and white backsplash
– the pink, white and silver doors and front panels
– the pink and silver hardware
– the pink and white curtains

This may seem like quite a lot but the entire frame of the kitchen was plain white so what I changed was mostly just the details.

The Backsplash


The utensil holder is really a toothbrush cup I picked up at Homesense.

This was the first thing I tackled and was probably also the easiest and fastest to do. I used the same peel & stick subway tiles I put up in my real kitchen. I’d hoped there were enough pieces leftover to complete this project but most of what I had was fairly small scraps so I ended up ordering three more tiles, which turned out to be more than enough. I just measured carefully, cut the tiles to size and stuck them in place.

As luck would have it they were just one dollar each from Home Depot with free shipping so this was also very cost-effective!

The Doors

It took me a while to decide which of these doors to paint. The fridge & freezer were white, the microwave and washer were pink and the oven was silver. Only the pink was truly yuck to me, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to easily match the silver or white finish with paint so in the end I went with a medium grey (quelle surprise) for all the doors, the panels adjacent to the oven and microwave, and the two arched pieces that go over the counter (these were also pink).

The pink pieces I painted both sides, but the white and silver I only painted the front to save myself a little time. I removed as much of the hardware as I could, including the clear plastic windows in the microwave and oven doors, and taped around those pieces I couldn’t remove. The paint I used was BeautiTone Cabinet and Furniture Paint in Metropolis Mood. The owner of my local hardware store recommended this paint and OH MY GOD I LOVE IT. It went on beautifully and smoothly with a mini foam roller and dried to such a nice finish that I’m starting to believe I could use it on my real kitchen cabinets (the refinishing of which I know would be an act of pure hubris).

So far it’s proven very durable even with how rough toddlers play; there’s one small scratch in one of the arches but I think that happened when I was moving the pieces around before they were fully cured, and it will be easy to touch up. I myself accidentally slammed the wooden edge of a WheelyBug ride-on toy into the front of the oven and the grey paint wasn’t damaged at all while the original white finish on the frame chipped! You can see it in the pic above. I definitely recommend this paint.

The Hardware


The wooden crates the dishes are stored in were the packaging from the musical instruments I bought last month.

The hardware included the door handles, the frame on the chalkboard, the oven knobs, the sink, faucet and stovetop burners, a holder for the included toy phone and the round door of the washer. Now, most of these pieces were silver, which I had no problem with, BUT the handle and knobs for the oven, as well as the chalkboard frame were pink (the toy phone that came with this kitchen is also pink, but I left it as is and gave it to Gwen to cover in Peppa Pig stickers).

I’d planned to spray paint all of these, but I realized the the moving parts on the faucet and the opening mechanism for the washer door would make that impractical. So I decided to leave the silver pieces as they were and spray only the pink pieces, but my friend Lillian clued me in to a product called RUB N BUFF.

This is basically a kind of wax with metallic pigment in it that you rub on with your fingers and then buff with a cloth. After a short search I found some locally at an art supply store for about $8 and picked up a tube in my chosen colour, Gold Leaf) and got to rubbin and buffin. I wore latex gloves for the rubbing and used some unused, leftover stain-application cloths for the buffing. The pieces had different finishes so I had some mixed results (the knobs for the stovetop in particular turned out quite patchy), but overall I’m very happy with it, especially as I got the best coverage on the pink pieces which were the main problem for me.

There were a few pieces of hardware I didn’t want gold: the phone holder, the sink, and the inner ring of the washer door I wanted to be a gloss white and the stove burners a gloss black. These I decided to spray paint and BOY HOWDY WAS IT A MESS. I don’t know why I always think spraypainting things will go well for me but it’s honestly always a disaster. I don’t know of the problem this time was the paint I chose (Krylon Fusion for Plastic) or the finish on the pieces, but the paint pooled weirdly and left clustery round patches uncovered. I had to do about a billion coats to get full coverage, which took days. In the end the result was just okay; the pieces have a bit of a weird texture to them, but it’s not very noticeable except for on the burners, and metal burners for a real gas stove have a bit of texture anyway so I think it’s fine..

The Curtains

Last but not least. These were easy, I used a scrap I had leftover from hemming some Ikea curtains (unfortunately discontinued but similar here) for the hallway closets. Using the original pink & white curtains as a rough pattern I cut two pieces of fabric in the size I needed. Since two sides of each piece were already hemmed, I just hemmed the other two sides, forming a channel for the curtain rod at the tops, using stitch witchery iron-on hemming tape.


The washer makes excellent bouncy ball storage.

So there you have it! The only part that’s technically not done is replacing the painted-over pretend buttons & displays for the appliances. The stove top still has on/off displays next to the knobs (with a little rogue pink even!) but everything else is gone. I scanned the pieces with the controls before I painted them so I could redesign them the way I want. I’ll get around to that eventually, but in the meantime the blank panels don’t seem to be detracting from the enjoyment the kids are getting from the new kitchen!

How does Gwen’s Garden Grow

At the end of June I was offered a raised garden box for myself & the kids. My neighbourhood had received a grant to build some for people who can’t access any of the community gardens for whatever reason, so it was totally free and even came with all the dirt it needed! I’m notoriously terrible at gardening but I figured WHAT THE HECK and said yes. The garden box was built and left in the part of the yard I’d specified, and over the long weekend Gwen and I went to pick out some plants. We got two tomato plants, a yellow pepper, a green pepper, one pumpkin, a strawberry, a blueberry, sage, parsley and chives. I put Gwen in charge of watering them and she’s very diligent about doing it every day.

We’ve had our garden for two weeks and amazingly, not only have I managed not to kill any, some are even starting to bear fruit! The pumpkin seems like it might not be long for this world, and I have my doubts about the blueberry (which is basically a single twig with some leaves that squirrels have dug up twice, but I dearly want it to live and grow because it is actually a PINK blueberry bush) but everything else is growing and thriving. The tomatoes especially, but the yellow pepper looks like it’s ready to blow up, and the sage and chives are doing well enough to use in meals already.

My Finished Kitchen Backsplash

One thing I really wanted to finish this month was my kitchen backsplash. For an apartment I have a fairly large kitchen with a decent amount of counter space but there was NO BACKSPLASH at all. The wall between the countertops and the bottom of the cabinets was always getting splattered with stuff and was so annoying to clean. I’d been planning on painting it (which had never been done in the 10+ years I’ve lived here) but in my heart I was wishing for tile. Of course I wasn’t about to shell out for actual tile in a rental apartment so I went with the next best thing: STICKERS.


We use this little mouse kitchen timer to limit Gwen’s screentime.

Is a faux tile peel & stick backsplash tacky? Probably, but it is 1000% better than what was there before, ie nothing. After doing some research I decided to go with tiles from Smart Tiles, which had the best reviews. They have a lot of different options but I wanted a) simple and b) cheap so I went with plain white subway tiles. The best price I found for them here in Canada was at Lowe’s, where a pack of six sheets of fake tiles (a little under a square foot each) is $47 (most other places here have them at 1 sheet for $9.99). They were actually cheaper ($43) when I bought them and I also waited to buy them on sale to save a little extra.

I am not going to pretend I’m like a super pro at installing these because I made a lot of mistakes. Good news though, you can learn from them! I have a few tips as to how you can make your faux tile installation as hassle-free as possible:

1. USE THE CALCULATOR ON THE SMART TILES SITE. Each product page has a calculator that will let you know how many of that type of tile sheet you need to cover your surface area. I didn’t realize this and initially ordered based on my own estimation and WOW it was wildly inaccurate. I only had enough sheets to do one wall and had to wait for them to go on sale again to order more and finish the job.
2. MEASURE YOUR CUTS ACCURATELY. Part of the reason I ran out of my first batch of tiles so quickly is because I kept messing up the cuts I needed to do. I ended up being able to use most of the flubbed sheets anyway (I did a narrow strip of wall from floor to ceiling which used a lot of scraps) but I def would have saved at least some money by not screwing up.
3. START WITH THE EASIEST WALL FIRST. For some reason I thought I should start with the wall behind my stove, which meant all sorts of tricky cuts AND the biggest surface area to fill. This is also why I messed up a lot, and I realized after I should have started with the easiest and smallest wall, between the fridge and the window, where the only cuts were just a couple straight edges and a cut out around an outlet.
4. USE TAPE WHEN MAKING CUTS. You can cut these tiles with just a box cutter, cork-backed metal ruler and a cutting mat, but it was easier for me to cut the straight edges with the tile taped to the mat so it wouldn’t slide around. When I had to make unusual cuts (around corners or outlets) I would put tape on the front of the tile in the general area I needed to cut and then draw my cutting lines on the tape (this worked better for me that drawing them on the back, which I messed up a lot). Painter’s tape left the least residue but scotch tape worked fine as well.


The Nespresso & Baby Brezza formula dispenser are both plugged in here and both have large and visible black plugs & cords. I used this outlet cover the disguise the plugs & somewhat wrangle the cords.

Thankfully, the look of these tiles is forgiving and hides a lot of mistakes, and even when I’ve challenged people to figure out my most egregious error that haven’t been able to figure it out (or they are just being nice, who can say). Overall I’m happy with the results and would definitely use this product again.

baby diy: silicone & wooden bead teether


He’s like… Come on now, momma. Ok and I SWEAR I did not coordinate his cute narwhal pajamas with this project, this was just a crazy random happenstance.

I’d seen these beaded teethers & rattles show up in my instagram explore tab and thought they were so cute, so I tried my hand at making some for Nicky and quickly became obsessed. This diy is for a teether-slash-rattle that uses a variety of beads I’ll list below, but there are so many colours & styles & sizes of beads available it’s easy to customize them to your aesthetic. tbh this project is almost too easy to even require a diy but any excuse for pics of Nicky, right? Right.

I purchased all the supplies for this project (and all my other silicone bead projects) from Canadian DIY Supply <--click that link to get 10% off your order!
supplies:
2 x 1.75″ natural wood rings
2 x 17mm sapphire blue hexagon silicone beads
2 x 20mm navy blue round wooden crochet beads
4 x 15mm sapphire blue round silicone beads
4 x 14mm natural wood round beads
1 x 35″ midnight blue regular cord (I usually get some extra cord for if I mess up & need to restring on a new piece, which has happened more than once. The cord pictured is actually 60″ JUST IN CASE.)
not pictured:
embroidery scissors
tweezers (optional)
small bamboo skewer or round toothpick (optional)


Thread the beads onto the cord in the following pattern:
silicone round
wood round
silicone hexagon
wood round
silicone round
crochet round
Repeat this pattern until all your beads have been strung.

I’ve found that the crochet covering can sometimes become misaligned with the holes of the wooden bead; if this happens simply thread the skewer or toothpick through the bead and follow it with the cord. If necessary, use the tweezers to pull the cord through the far side of the crochet bead.

Once you have all the beads on the cord, thread the beaded cord through the wooden rings.

Tightly double-knot the ends of the cord together to form a loop, making sure there is a silicone bead on one side of the knot. Test that your knot is secure by pulling hard on the teether as if you are trying to break it. If your knot loosens or comes untied, re-knot and re-test until you are satisfied that it is secure. This is very important; please don’t skip testing!

Once you are confident that your knot is holding, slide the silicone bead over the knot. The hole of the silicone bead will stretch over the knot and then hold it tightly in place.

Using small, sharp embroidery scissors, trim the loose ends of the cord as close to the bead as possible. If necessary tuck the ends inside the bead with the knot. Test your teether’s knot by pulling again (DO NOT SKIP THIS TEST EITHER); if it comes untied you need to start over from the beginning with a new piece of cord, if it holds you’re done!

Here are all the different teethers & bracelets I’ve made…

clockwise from top left: forest green rounds & hexagons // round white marble in 3 sizes (a teether for Nicky AND a bracelet for me) // wooden rounds & rings with glacier grey rounds & isocahedrons and light grey crochet rounds // black, white & tangerine orange rounds (a bracelet for Gwen with a breakaway clasp) // the blue & wood teether from this diy (that I had to pry out of Nicky’s hand to photograph) // black & white rounds with glacier grey isocahedrons


It’s not a phone, guy.

DISCLAIMER: Loose beads are a choking hazard. Do not allow a child under the age of three to play with the loose beads. Never leave a child under the age of three unsupervised with these teethers. Always test your finished teethers to ensure the knots are safe and secure. Spot clean teethers as necessary. Do not soak in water or freeze any teethers with wood elements as it can cause the wood to crack, you can put teethers with only silicone beads in the freezer to chill them.

new year new year: free 2017 calendar download

I’ve been meaning to put together a 2017 calendar for weeks now but I was just too busy/keep forgetting to do it. Seeing as how it’s January 1st today I figured I should really get on that. I’m not like… 100% how this will look printed out because my printer ink is getting very very low. Mine looks a little bluer than it should, but hopefully yours will turn out! Because it’s already the new year and I’m not sure of the print I’m offering this calendar as a free download rather than selling it in my shop.

Each month features a different wood grain pattern with the months and days in white. Simply download your free calendar here, print on cardstock and cut out each month with a paper trimmer or exacto knife & metal-edged ruler. I display mine on a miniature easel but you could also put it in a small frame or just a large binder clip. If you print one out please share a pic with me on facebook or instagram!

The calendar pages are 10cm x 10cm. This calendar is free for personal use only; please do not sell this item.

cedar & smoke

cedar&smoke

The other week I hypothesized on twitter that I could make a campfire-scented stovetop simmer using evergreen sprigs & liquid smoke. I finally got around to testing my theory on the weekend and you can! This simmer gives a subtle campfire or woodstove scent that totally reminded me of my childhood growing up in the country WITHOUT the risk of setting off my city apartment smoke detectors.

campfire stovetop simmer
ingredients:
• 2 cups water
• 10 to 15 4″ fresh sprigs of evergreen
• 1/4 tsp to 1 tsp liquid smoke

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and place on the stove over low heat. Leave to simmer, adding more water as necessary. Never leave a stovetop simmer unattended!

For my simmer I used western redcedar; you can use whatever is indigenous to your area- just make sure it is fragrant! I didn’t want it to be overwhelmingly smokey so I used just 1/4 teaspoon of liquid hickory smoke but feel free to adjust to your smokiness preference, just remember that a little liquid smoke goes a LONG way.

smoke

geometric tree

Oops I did it again? I have a lot of work to do this week so OFC a good use of my time is making things to give away for free, right? Right. Today I have another holiday gift wrap/card set, with a bonus print.

IMG_20151215_120301

This set includes the card, the print and one sheet of wrapping paper in a green geometric tree print. They are all US Letter size (8.5″ x 11″) and are meant to be printed borderless at 100%. Obviously this gift wrap is only suitable for small gifts BUT if you have access to a large-format printer (I don’t, wahh) you could print it larger.

The card is designed for use with 5.25″ x 7.25″-size envelopes, which you can find at office supply or craft stores (I get mine at Michael’s, with a 50% off coupon they are about $7 for 50), or you can find free templates to make envelopes that size online if you’re so inclined. You could also print the card at a smaller size to use with smaller envelopes. Once the card is printed simply trim the edges at the line and fold in half.

The print is 8×10″ so you just need to trim of the white borders and it is ready for framing.

Download the full set here. Free for personal use only.

grey & gold

G&Ggw1

Every year I participate in Goody Goody Gift Swap, an online gift swap for ~creatives. I like to make as many of the things included in each year’s package as I can myself, right down to the gift wrap. This year I designed some grey & gold watercolour wrapping paper and matching greeting card and I liked how they turned out so much I decided to share them with you all as a free download.

This set includes the card as well as two sheets of wrapping paper in light and dark grey. They are all US Letter size (8.5″ x 11″) and are meant to be printed borderless at 100%. Obviously this gift wrap is only suitable for small gifts BUT if you have access to a large-format printer (I don’t, wahh) you could print it larger.

The card is designed for use with 5.25″ x 7.25″-size envelopes, which you can find at office supply or craft stores (I get mine at Michael’s, with a 50% off coupon they are about $7 for 50), or you can find free templates to make envelopes that size online if you’re so inclined. You could also print the card at a smaller size to use with smaller envelopes. Once the card is printed simply trim the edges at the line and fold in half.

G&Ggw2

Download the full set here. Free for personal use only.