Thursday, June 30, 2011

Race Car Birthday

My daughter turned four today.  She's not a baby anymore, that's for sure.  She wanted to do a race car theme.  She's my little tomboy- in love with all things cars, and it's funny because my little boy loves all things tea party.  Grandma bought him his own play tea set this year and he was jumping up and down yelling YAY, he was so excited.  Go figure.

We had a big party last year and I didn't really want to do the whole thing again- activities, lunch, cake... too much work.  We put out the kiddie pool with a slip n' slide and had that be the activity.  Nobody cared that it wasn't race car related, especially since it was 105 degrees today.  HOT. 

For a while I thought about just buying a race car cake at the Walmart bakery, but I usually think their frosting is yucky.  I googled for ideas instead.

Since we were just doing cake and ice cream and not a lunch or anything fancy, I made the coolest cake I could find.  I've only made one other birthday cake ever.  I'm not a big fan of cake, but this one turned out great.  Youtube is my friend when it comes to trying new projects, and I watched a few videos about layer cakes before starting.

Here's the link to the One Ginormous Adventure racecar cake tutorial that I used as inspiration.  Instead of piping on all that green frosting... uh... no way... too much work... I colored some coconut green to make grass.  This is the frosting recipe I used from Our Best Bites.  It was perfect- not too sweet or overwhelming.  I didn't add any extra cocoa powder since the cake is already chocolate.  One batch was enough to cover this whole cake.

The cake is chocolate cake mix from a Betty Crocker box.  Between the layers of cake, I used a can of coconut pecan frosting like you normally use on a German Chocolate cake.  It was nice to have something different inside the cake, not just more frosting.

The adorable little fondant race cars came from Lady Cupcake's Corner on etsy.  They were a big hit and they tasted good too.  All the little kids were so excited to eat them, and they all wanted to pick which color they got on their slice of cake.

The little checkered flags on the cake are a 3x5 index card cut the long way and folded around a toothpick.  I colored the black boxes on with a sharpie.

For a table covering, I bought one black and one white cheap 97 cent plastic tablecloth.  I cut one into strips long wise, using the tiles on my kitchen floor as a cutting guide.  The other one was cut into strips the short way.  I wove them together to make a checkered flag.  Then I ran a few strips of clear mailing tape across to hold it all together.  I put the tape side down so you can't see it.  Not bad for two bucks.

My daughter had a really good time.  What kid wouldn't love a race car cake with a kiddie pool and slip n' slide?  We had so much fun.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Kohlrabi in the Garden

I planted four kohlrabi plants this year in my little 8ft x 8ft garden and they turned out really well.  Here they are growing next to the one rogue red onion my 1-year-old son planted all by himself, or "a-self" as he would say.

Kohlrabi is the same species of plant as cabbage and broccoli and Brussels sprouts.  They are all cultivars of the wild cabbage plant.  This particular variety was bred for their large bulging stems, which is the part you eat.

I live in hardiness zone 5A, and I planted these as small plants right before our last snow in late April.  They are good at surviving cold temperatures and need to be planted around the same time as lettuce and other cold weather plants.  With the recent consistent warm weather (temps in the 90s and high 80s most of the day) my kohlrabi was starting to wilt a little.  The bulbous stems are around 3.5 inches, so it's time to harvest.

I like to eat them raw, so this is how I serve them.
Pull off all the leaves and stems and chop off the root area.  

The part of the bulb closest to the roots is the most woody, so also chop off a little into the bulb from the root end.
 Then use your knife to peel off the outer skin.
Slice them into sticks and eat them raw with a little ranch dip.  The texture is a lot like an apple- fleshy and crisp.  They taste like a mild broccoli and they have a slight radish aftertaste.  Yummy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tutorial- Curtain Upcycled to Waterproof Picnic Blanket

Using an old blackout curtain, you can make a picnic blanket that is sturdy and water resistant.  The blackout material inside of curtains is water proof, making it a good filler material in a portable picnic blanket.  This blanket folds up and clips together at the bottom edge, allowing you to carry it around easily by the shoulder strap.  Put some sunscreen in the pocket and enjoy a summer picnic.

To make this blanket, you need:
-One large (floor length) blackout curtain made of sturdy material.  Don't choose a silk curtain, of course.
-1 inch webbing- a few yards
-2 buckles
-Matching top material- fleece is a good choice.  I used lightweight corduroy in this example.

Begin by ripping the seams and separating the blackout material from the curtain material.  Undo all the seams.  This is a good project to do while watching a tv show as it takes some time.  I washed all the fabric to make sure it is all pre-shrunk.  Picnic blankets get dirty and will be washed a lot.  You may want to double check that your blackout material is waterproof by running it under some water.

Then lay out your materials on a large space.  The light blue material was my curtain, the white is the blackout fabric, and the green is the corduroy that I had purchased for the top layer of the blanket.  I had to sew two pieces of the green material together to make it large enough, but I think the seam is hardly noticeable with the busy pattern.  You may be able to find a wider fabric that you won't need to sew.  Ah how I wish we had a fabric store in our town besides Walmart...
Cut the blackout material and the top material to the same size.  Cut the bottom layer 2-3 inches larger all the way around.  The extra inches will become the edge of the blanket.

Then fold the material in quarters until you've reached the size you want it to be when it will be carried.  Remember that 2-3 inches of two of the sides are going to become the binding of the blanket, so place your pocket (made from extra material if you have any) slightly off center.  Pin it to the blue material only.
Unfold the blanket once and position the webbing (with buckles pre-sewn to the ends).  Pin in place to the outer material only.
Unfold the blanket entirely, and remove the outer (blue) material.  Sew the pocket and straps to it.  It will be in one corner like this.  I added the shoulder strap which isn't in the picture above, but you would place it vertically in the center (to the right of the pocket in the above pic).
Turn the outer material over so the buckles are facing the floor.  Center your blackout fabric on the blanket and center your top fabric on that.  Fold over the edge of the outer material twice all the way around to make a 1-1.5 inch binding.  Pin it in place and press.  Then sew all the way around the edge. 
Now you can fold the blanket in quarters and buckle the straps you have attached to keep it in place while you carry it.
Lay it out on the grass to put kids on or keep it in the car for when you go to a park and the grass is a little damp.  It's also nice for watching fireworks on the 4th of July, my favorite holiday!
I didn't take as many pictures as I should have for this tutorial.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

© 2011 You are welcome to link to this site and use a single image to link back to any post. All borrowed content must be linked back and properly credited. Republishing posts in their entirety is prohibited without permission.  This tutorial is my own design and is for personal, non-commercial use only.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer Wreath

I like having wreaths on my door.  I have one for spring, fall, Christmas, and Halloween, but I needed a summery one.  I checked out Hobby Lobby, but I just didn't love any of the 4th of July wreaths.  I decided to make a summery one on my own.

I bought a bunch of flowers and a straw wreath.  I pulled off a bunch of leaves and hot glued them to the straw wreath to cover it up.  If you don't take the plastic wrapping of the wreath, it's easy to glue things to it.  Then I used sewing pins to attach a bunch of flowers.  That way I can take them all off and change it up later if I want.  I love orange, and even though it makes the wreath almost autumnal, I still like it for summer.