Tuesday, January 31, 2012

COOKING: Rainbow Layer Cake

Every year I make myself a cake for my birthday party, which at first glance seems sort of depressing, but is something that I actually LOVE. I enjoy baking but rarely do so without an “excuse” like a birthday or a holiday, so when my own big day rolls around I’m more than happy to supply myself with a lovely treat.

I’ve been wanting to try out a rainbow cake for a long time now, since seeing them around in various food blogs and even on Martha Stewart, and because I live for all things colorful, my birthday was the perfect time to try one out.

This cake isn’t much more difficult than a traditional layer cake, but it will take extra time, effort and ingredients. I’ll prepare you now: the unveiling of its magical insides will have your guests oohing and ahhing. The white frosting gives no clue as to what lies beneath, so cutting into this guy has a major wow factor. I even had several people line up to take photos! Whip one of these up for your next birthday or just because!

WHAT YOU NEED
2 White Cake Mixes
Egg Whites (as instructed by your cake mix)
Oil (as instructed by your cake mix)
Water (as instructed by your cake mix)
Almond Extract
Gel (Not Liquid) Food Coloring in Blue, Yellow, Green & Red/Pink (I had pink)
White Frosting (I ended up using 2.5 cans of cream cheese frosting)
Cooking Spray
Wax Paper
Two 9” Cake Rounds
6 Bowls

HOW TO MAKE IT
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare your cake batter according to the directions on the box, substituting egg whites for the eggs to keep the mix as white as possible. Most mixes should offer the egg white substitution, but I used 4 whites in place of 3 whole eggs. Add 2 tsp almond extract.

2. Once prepared, divide equal amounts of batter into 6 separate bowls. I ended up with about 1 ¼ cups in each bowl.

3. Add several drops of your gel food coloring to the bowls, one color in one bowl at a time. I had one bowl each for blue, green, yellow and pink and then mixed to make purple (pink & blue) and orange (pink & yellow). Mix the coloring into the batter and add more until desired shade is reached.
4. Generously spray your cake rounds and pour one bowl of batter in each, evening it out with a spoon. These layers are thin so it won’t look like much in the pan – that’s ok! It all works out, I promise. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. When the first two are finished transfer them to a wire rack to cool and continue this process until all layers are baked. Let all layers cool completely.

6. Place a dollop of frosting on the center of a cake stand or plate to keep the bottom layer in place. Cut four strips of wax paper and place them around the edges of the stand for easy cleanup.
7. Place the bottom layer in the center of the stand and cover its top with a thin coat of frosting. Place the next layer directly on top of it and repeat until you reach the top layer, which you should position with the flat side facing up for a straighter edge. Top this with a coat of frosting. [TIP: you can whip your frosting with a mixer to increase its volume]

8. Cover the entire layer cake in a thin coat of frosting and let it set for about 30 minutes until firm (you can also do this in the refrigerator). When firm, add a thick layer of frosting over the entire cake.

9. Remove the wax paper strips and clean up any frosting drips. You’re done!

Feel free to decorate with sprinkles or rainbow nonpareils for added cuteness. I made mine in the classic ROY G. BIV pattern (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple) but you can put layers in any order or use any colors. This would also work well for a sports themed cake (like red and blue layers for a Red Sox cake) or just to match the color theme of a party or event. You could also add things like fudge or butterscotch between layers for added flavor and color. The options are endless!

xoxo,
Michelle

Sunday, January 29, 2012

ROUNDUP: Weekly Links 1/29/12

Here's what I'm rounding up this week:
Paul & Joe Kitten Collection
What's better than a whole beauty collection inspired by and featuring felines? A beauty collection featuring felines in tiny top hats. These blush sticks are so adorable I would literally never be able to use them (isn't that like animal cruelty?). BONUS: There's a gel liner in this collection so you can make the perfect cat eye! I obviously had to do that.  
Stephen Colbert Interviews Maurice Sendak
Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak proves to be smart, hilarious and a perfect foil to Stephen Colbert's unrelenting character in this highly entertaining interview. Don't miss part two!
Kathleen Hanna Designs ICP Event
Yes, that Kathleen Hanna and that ICP. Hanna is set designing Wicked Clown Love, an experimental performance piece "built around the music and culture of hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse, their devoted fan base the Juggalos, and other forms of male bonding and ritual." Huh. 
Snow Globe Ring
What an amazing idea!
Coconut Syrup
I've never been to Hawaii, but when I recently tried this coconut syrup on some pancakes I could basically feel the lei hanging around my neck. It's not super coconut-y and is a pleasant switch from the traditional maple variety.


xoxo,
Michelle

Thursday, January 26, 2012

STYLE: Cute Winter Accessories

Winter Accessories



Even I, hater of all things frigid, can't complain about this winter, with our barely there snowfalls and out of nowhere 60 degree weather (which, FYI, feels like a wonderful sauna in January). Perhaps you're one of the chosen ones who was graciously born and raised in a sunny locale or had the good sense to head south after college, but I'm still a New England gal and if there's one thing I've learned throughout my years, it's how to work an outfit when you're swathed in layers and layers of warm clothing.


A cute coat is a must since that's pretty much the only thing anyone will see on you for three months straight. Seriously - you have to love it. Fun gloves will distract you from the fact that you're using them to scrape ice off your car windows again. Leg warmers work well with tights if you're like me and simply cannot be forced to give up dresses in the snow and scarves a pretty much a no brainer. Earmuffs and ear warmers are great alternatives to hats plus they keep your hair less gnarly.


For me it's all about picking accessories that are fun and that I like to wear so that I feel a little less dead inside during the depths of winter. Putting on a pair of bright furry earmuffs is just so much more exciting that stuffing my head inside a generic gray beanie. So grab a polka dot scarf, a faux fur wrap or a vintage inspired coat - before you know it spring will be here!


xoxo,
Michelle

Sunday, January 22, 2012

ROUNDUP: Birthday Edition

In honor of my birthday coming this week I'm doing a birthday themed Roundup. Here's what I'm rounding up this week:


Birthday Cake Cocktail
Since first trying birthday cake vodka last summer I've been excited to use it in a celebratory birthday cocktail, like this delicious sounding one from Fragrant Vanilla Cake.
Talking Michelle Tanner Doll
On my 8th birthday I got arguably the best and weirdest gift I'd ever received: a talking Michelle Tanner from Full House doll. In her sassy and oh-so-current high waisted jeans and tassel adorned MICHELLE t-shirt, she was a picture of early 90s perfection. She repeated a few choice catchphrases, like 'You Got It, Dude' and even though I later uncovered the doll during my high school years with the decade-old batteries inside of her making her talk in a demonic sounding drawl, I still have a soft spot for this weird little relic. A handful are still on Ebay!
Cupcake Beanie
Wearing this adorable cupcake hat would be the cherry on top of a fabulous birthday. 
Aquarius Tote Bag
As far as zodiac signs go, I'm pretty pleased with being an Aquarius. I'd love to show my water-bearer pride with this 70s inspired zodiac tote.
The Best Party Game Ever? Werewolves
I just learned a super fun game at a slumber party (yes, adults have slumber parties with their friends) - Werewolves. No Twilight references here; this is a simple but engrossing game for large groups that will have you guessing who among you is the murderous type and how exactly you'll be able to make it through the "night" without meeting the big bad wolf. OK, it sounds stupid but it's really addicting, I promise!


xoxo,
Michelle

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

DIY: Bangles from a Pringles Can

I was eating from a can of Pringles a few weeks ago (which is something I really don’t do nearly often enough) and while my hand was stuck inside trying to reach the chips in the middle of the can, I had the epiphany that it fit just perfectly around my wrist. We’ve all seen a Pringles can before, right? Long tube, plastic top. BANGLE FACTORY.
By slicing rings from the can I was able to make a bunch of cool and eco-friendly bangles in just a couple of hours from stuff I had laying around my apartment. Too cool, yes? Wanna make some too? Of course you do! Here’s how:

WHAT YOU NEED
Pringles Can
Scrap of felt
Hot Glue 
(oops Craft Glue pictured – I switched plans halfway through)
Ribbon
Knife
Cutting Board
Scissors
Buttons or Embellishments (optional)

HOW TO MAKE IT
1. Carefully slice a ring from your washed and dried Pringles can with a sharp knife.
2. Cut two rectangles of felt: one just long enough to just wrap around the inside of your bangle and one just long enough to wrap around the outside and both slightly wider than your slice. Hot glue the felt strip on the inside of your bangle. Cut several slits in the felt, making it easier to fold and glue excess width onto the top of the bangle. Repeat with top layer, cutting, folding and gluing excess width onto the inside of the bangle.
3. Put a dot of hot glue on the inside of the bangle and place one end of your ribbon onto it until dry. Wrap ribbon (either straight or diagonally) around the bangle, covering the top and inside, securing periodically with hot glue as you go.
5. When you’ve covered the entire bangle, secure the end of your ribbon with hot glue on the inside of the bangle.

I also made some vintage fabric covered bangles which I lined with ribbon on the inside to hide my seam. For this look, simply line with felt like before and glue over it with enough fabric to cover the top and the inside, seems meeting in the middle.


Here is one I made that’s covered in felt and decorated with various buttons. 
I cut this one and then added bits of ribbon to tie it closed.

It’s that easy! These are totally cute and no one will ever know you’re wearing potato chip packaging on your wrist unless you want them to! With one can of Pringles you can make about a dozes bangles (more or less depending on width and how many “accidents” you may have).

If you make some please share a picture – I’d love to see them!

xoxo,
Michelle

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

OBSESSED: Clogs

I'm having clog filled dreams these days! Wooden soles, studded details, the whole enchilada. I really want a pair of clog sandals with an ankle strap like the red Lotta from Stockholm clogs in the top row. I'm nervous about buying online because I'm not familiar with clog fit and sizing, but I never see cute clogs like these in stores. Anyone have any tips on sizing or where to buy in person? Share them in the comments!
Clog Crazy


xoxo,
Michelle
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