Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kitchen Remodel

I can hardly believe it was over a year ago since we started the journey of remodelling our house! We looked around for months for the perfect property, and finally found a place that needed a lot of work. Please excuse my liberal use of the word 'we' when really, I'm talking about my amazing husband, who seems to have been hiding his amazing remodelling skills under a bushel until now!!

The girl living in the house had a huge dog, which stank, and also destroyed the house and garden. Thankfully my husband could see past all that, and he saw the potential in the place.

We completely gutted the place, removed the floor and nearly all the drywall, ripped the kitchen and dining room out, removed the 'garden room' and had an extension built. After 6 months the place was just ready to move in, and now after a year, we're finishing small bits and pieces to make it perfect!

We finally finished the last touches on the kitchen and I wanted to share. Its such a wonderful place to work in.

We decided to work with home depot for our kitchen design, and for installing the cabinets and counters. The cupboards are from thomasville, and very well built, the door handles are made from glass tiles stuck onto ikea handles, and the countertop is silestone.

The appliances are all from Pacific Sales, we chose Kitchenaid and we're super happy, I love the giant microwave, its wonderful having a double oven, and the dishwasher is just a dream.

The floor throughout the house is bamboo, its really beautiful, although anyone with pets and children might find that its not very durable. It does dent easily too.

I chose some recycled glass tiles for the backsplash. They were an absolute pain to install, even with a long weekend, they still needed a further coat of grout to finish the look. If you're considering this, seriously think about the expense/level of work involved in not going the easy route with the tiles on sheets!!

We also added some bluetooth speakers, so we can listen to podcasts and pandora on the iPad, which is also very useful for looking up recipes, etc. The last detail was to add a relaxing green paint to the walls and my dream kitchen was complete!

I'm still getting used to where everything is, I think deep down I know I need to actually take everything out of the cupboards and start again.

There is the perfect space next to the window for a piece of artwork, or a great photograph, we're taking our time choosing that. I'd also like a blind, nosy people strolling past love to crane their necks to see what we're up to in the kitchen!!

Kitchen Design, Cabinets and silestone counters: Home depot

Appliances: Kitchenaid by Pacific Sales

Backsplash-recycled glass tiles by stardust glass , which has now changed to clayhaus ceramics, but still does the same funky round tiles

Bamboo flooring bought from lumber liquidators (installed by my husband!)

Monday, May 23, 2011

An extremely geeky weekend!

Some really awesome cake ideas have come my way recently, it started with a schoolteacher in Portland enquiring about my periodic table cupcakes. I ended up making her a set of periodic table cupcake toppers for her bakesale! She posted a picture on my Facebook page ( of the finished cupcakes if you want to see, meanwhile here are some pictures before I shipped them.

I then found myself involved with a 'mad scientist' birthday party. I modelled a birthday message out of the elements, I had to cheat a bit with the 'D' and actually made a mistake, since it has an atom number of 1 (duh!) and I made sure that the numbers, elements and colors were accurate to their intended homes in the periodic table. I added flasks around the side of the cake with a measurement of '7', the girls age.

This was accompanied with another 2 dozen cupcakes decorated with labcoats, flasks and a periodic table birthday message.

I then got to work on 'the planets'. Cakes are getting to be higher stakes as the kiddies grow up. This 4 year old is apparently very knowledgable about the planets, and I'll admit I was pretty worried to deliver it! His eyes were so wide they nearly popped out of his head, I'm thinking this was a good sign?! I even added a little pluto to give to him

so he could decide whether it belonged with the other planets.

The cake was a lemon cake with raspberry buttercream, I also had jupiter in cake, the rest of the planets were rice crispy treats.

This was also accompanied with cupcakes decorated with the sun and planets.

Lastly, a super hero themed party. They arent fans of fondant, so I made a banana choc chip cake, filled with cream cheese, bananas and caramel and covered with buttercream with just a few fondant accents. This is a fun option if you prefer to cut back on the fondant

Friday, May 13, 2011

Avocado Frosting

I tried my hand at another vegan frosting idea. Having found two beautiful avocados in my CSA from Bewise, I decided to put them to use in a sweet way. I'd seen Alton Brown and Joy the Baker use them, so I thought it might be worth a try.

Although I'm a buttercream fan, I cant stand the thought of using anything but real butter for it, so the thought of using margerine was out for me. I'm happy to use tofu, or maybe coconut cream, but I wanted an alternative.

I'd say this was fairly successful, it did sit on the cake, but it refused to firm up enough to pipe into a pretty swirl, and the flavor is distinctly of sweet avocado, which I found unusual. The color is pretty alarming too! My friends at bookclub loved it though, so it was a hit for most people!

It will come in handy for the times I want green, but dont want to dye my frosting!

Avocado Frosting

2 large avocados

1 lb powdered sugar (add to taste)

juice of 1 large lime

Mash up the meat of the avocados then mix with powdered sugar until it thickens. Pipe onto cupcakes

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dont forget! Food Bloggers Bakesale This Saturday!!

I just wanted to send a quick reminder that I'll be baking up a storm for the Food Blogger Bakesale this saturday, along with lots of other San Diego food bloggers! Please stop by if you have time! They will be there at great news cooking school in PB from 10-2.

I'll be providing my very popular mango macadadamia cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, also some mocha mudcakes with mocha frosting, and I plan to decorate with little fondant flowers.

I hope you'll stop by and try one! All the money goes to share our strength. I dont know if I'll be able to be there for the whole time, but I'm hoping to stop by towards the end for a while to meet all the other San Diego bloggers who are helping to make this happen!

To read more about this event and the other bloggers attending, please see meandering eats blog.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Vegas-Design Inspiration

We went on a little road trip for the weekend and were lucky enough to be able to stay at the Wynn in Las Vegas.

I was very happy to have some down time and relaxation, but the surroundings got me excited with lots of design inspiration!

My absolute favorite thing was the chrysanthemum flowers at the check in desk. I'd love to create something similar on a cake with the high shine-laquer finish.

I was disappointed that the photos didnt really do them justice.
I was also surprised to find out that they are apparently a funeral flower in Italy, so it would be in very poor taste to put them on a birthday or wedding cake in that country. Wow, you learn something every day!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Random Act of Kindness

I recently saw a lovely post by 'I am baker' where she wanted to make cookies to cheer everyone up. It was such a success that she had to reach out to other bloggers to help to cheer people up, so I volunteered to help!

I decided to keep it simple with some sugar cookies with inspirational messages. I found it a bit tricky to decide how to decorate them without sounding patronising. Hopefully they will be received in the spirit they were meant!

It gave me a great kick to do something for someone else, I really appreciate the sentiment.