30 Mar 2012

Chocoflan



It was The Hubby's birthday last week and in our house when it's your birthday you get to request your cake.  He thought about it long and hard (we take cake very seriously) and he finally came up with Chocoflan. This cake is so yummy that I just had to share. It's quite the mystery (see below) and is sure to impress all of your family and friends.

The original recipe is from Mexican Made Easy.

Ingredients



For the cake:
10 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking power
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup buttermilk

For the flan:
12 oz evaporated milk (1 can)
14 oz sweetened condensed milk (1 1/2 cans)
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Extras:
1/2 cup caramel sauce
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Remove one oven rack and move the other one to the middle.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.

Smear a bundt pan with butter and then drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the caramel sauce.

For the cake:
Beat together butter (and yes, it's painfully slow to measure out 10 tablespoons) and sugar using an electric mixer. Beat until fluffy, then add in the egg.  Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa together in a medium bowl.  Beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture and 1/2 of the buttermilk into the butter mixture.  Repeat, ending with the flour mixture.  Don't just dump it all in at once (like I know you want to....). Marcella says it's important to alternate and it's probably best to listen to her on this one. Beat until well incorporated.

Scoop the batter into the prepared bundt pan.  It's going to seem unusually thick for a cake - that's normal. Spread it around so it's nice and even.



Now for the flan:
In a blender or food processor (make sure it's one that doesn't spew out liquid) combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, cream cheese, eggs and vanilla. Blend on high for 30 seconds.



Now pour your flan mixture on top of the cake mixture.  The flan will sit on top of the cake, but don't worry if it combines a little.


Cover the bundt pan with tin foil and place it inside a large roasting pan.  Pour hot water into the roasting pan until it's about half way up the bundt pan.  Now very gingerly place the whole kit and kaboodle into the oven and let the magic happen.


The recipe says to bake for one hour, but every time I make it I have to cook it for about an hour and twenty minutes. Maybe it's a high altitude thing? When you take the tin foil off you want the cake to be springy but not gooey. 

Once the cake is done, take the bundt pan out of the roasting pan and let the cake cool.  When you take the tin foil off you will see that during the baking process the cake and the flan mysteriously switched places.  When you put it in the oven the flan was on the top and now the cake is on the top! It's amazing - a mystery of baking.



Allow the cake to cool for about an hour.  When you are ready to remove it from the pan, place a cake plate on top of the pan and then flip the whole thing over.  It usually takes a few good shakes to loosen it from the pan.  Drizzle the remaining caramel syrup on top and sprinkle on the pecans.  This cake is best when it's chilled for at least 24 hours.







Here's my husband enjoying his birthday cake. Notice how he dressed up for the occasion? Those heart pants have seen better days! He's requested a new pair but I might be hard pressed to find such beautiful heart pants again.  



If you give this recipe a go come back and let me know how it turns out.


I'll be linking up to: Tatertots & Jello

28 Mar 2012

Oops, I did it again

Remember when I went to buy a treadmill and came home with a credenza? If not, you can read all about it here.

Well....oops, I did it again.....

I started out with the best intentions. We are in the final stages of finishing our basement, which has taken the better part of two years and most of my sanity. It's finished enough that we decided to move our TV down a couple of months ago, so now we spend much of our evenings downstairs.  To the right of the couch is this:



This is what I see out of the corner of my eye while watching TV and it's starting to drive me nuts.  My plan is to find a mirror or a frame that I can add a mirror to, or a print, or something just to cover up the hideous electrical panel.  I made it home from work early the other day and decided to stop in at the Salvation Army to see if they had any good frames. Before I went in I had an internal pep talk telling myself I wouldn't buy anything except a frame. We don't need anything else - we have way too many projects as it is.

Here's what I loaded into my car after half an hour of perusing the Salvation Army for a frame.








But seriously, I couldn't pass it up! Clearly I have issues. It was screaming Mad Men and I had to have it. I love Mad Men and since I had just watched the Season Premiere I had all things Mad Men on the brain. Isn't it awesome? I think a face lift is in order. I have big plans for this lamp....



27 Mar 2012

When Things Don't Go Right

I have been working on a project for a few nights now and am in the final stages, which requires me to figure out some picture frames.  The prints that I have are 8.5" X 11" and I didn't really want to cut them down to 8" X 10", and I for sure didn't want to pay $10 a frame since I need 4 of them.  I found some document frames at Wal-Mart for $1.97 each and figured they would be great. Easy to spray paint and 8.5" X 11" to boot.

I'd love you to think that everything I do is great and I just whip these things up in a few minutes, but let's be honest here - that is the furthest thing from the truth.  And perfect is boring, right?  I am a bit of a spaz sometimes, and many times I don't have the patience I should, which results in some pretty epic fails.  Last night was one.....



Here's what I learned:

1.   When you see $1.97 frames in Wal-Mart it's probably too good to be true.

2. Cheap frames are just plain cheap! I am sure I just chucked them in the cart, the cashier chucked them in the bag and then I probably dropped the bag on the floor when I got in the door.  All of this chucking and dropping  resulted in two of the frames being cracked.

3. Hot glue and cheap plastic are sort of like oil and water - they don't want to be together.....at all...no matter how hard you will it.

4. When you let the dog out just before you are ready to go out he will poop right in your path to the garage. Flip flops, snow and dog poo also don't mix.

5. Turn the heater on in the garage BEFORE going out to paint.  March in Alberta at 9 pm is still cold, especially in dog poo covered flip flops!

6. Spray painting on carpet is a bad idea. We had just recycled all of our newspaper and I needed something to spray paint on, when I spotted some old carpet in the corner of the garage (it was headed to the dump).  I spread it out and had a big debate with myself if I should put the carpet side up or the backside up.  In my head I was thinking "I bet the frames would be better on the fluffy side, they could just rest on the fluff".  Seriously, not my finest thought...and the painting hadn't even started yet so I can't blame it on the fumes.

7. Shag carpet sticks to wet paint. 'Nuf said.

8. Layering on the paint really thick will NOT fill in the gaps created from the cracks and the copious amounts of hot glue.



Once I calm down enough about the disaster that is the 4 cheapy plastic document frames I will work on fixing them or come up with something altogether new.  If all goes well (which isn't looking so good at this point) I'll have a finished project to show you by the weekend.

Have a great week, I hope it started off better than mine.





25 Mar 2012

Wet Felted Easter Eggs {tutorial}



Before I delve into the world of Easter Eggs I need to just rant a little bit about Mad Men. Is anyone else as excited about the Season Premier tonight as I am? It feels like it's been so long since we last hung out with Don Draper.  Even though he's a jerk most of the time I sure do love me some Don Draper. I am crossing my fingers that Fin sleeps well tonight so we can just sit on the couch and soak in all things Mad Men for a couple of hours. 

Ok, on with the Easter Eggs......

Even though we are still in the throws of snow in these parts of the woods I figured it was time to bring a bit of spring into the house. I wanted something that was cheap and easy (in a crafty kind of way!) and that I could complete in a night.  These cute little felted eggs fit the bill.

I've included a ton of pictures in this post so if you want to make your own you can follow right along.  Thanks goes out to my Mom for taking the pictures, as my hands were quite tied up with the eggs.  I am definitely not quiting my day job to become a hand model anytime soon! I always think my hands look so awkward in photos...

With that said, here's the low down:


I went to Michael's and bought a giant pack of cheapy pastel plastic eggs for $2.99 and a roll of wool roving for $5 (regularly $8, but I had a 40% off coupon).  


At the Michael's near my house they only had one type and colour of roving, so I had to take what I could get as I didn't want to drive into the city. Luckily it was a purple so it fit right in with the spring/Easter theme.  The roving was thick and thin, which wasn't exactly what I wanted but I figured I could just cut out the thin pieces and it would work.  

Here's the original roving - it looked just like purple dreadlocks sitting on my kitchen table.

 

Since I was stuck with the thick and thin roving I started by cutting off the thick pieces of roving from the ball of yarn.  I then started pulling apart the thick pieces creating very fluffy strands.  It reminded me quite a bit of pulling apart a cotton ball (like when the cotton ball gets stuck in your freshly painted nails and the little fibres get stuck to everything you touch.....).  I then placed the pieces on the table overlapping the strands to make a 'blanket' of sorts.  As I went along I learnt that the fluffier the fibres the easier it felts.  The 'blanket' needs to be about double the width of the egg and triple the length, and not have any big holes or gaps.

 

Once the first blanket was done I did it all again but placed the fluffy pieces running perpendicular to the pieces underneath.

 

By this point my 'blankets' looked like a serious rat's nest. I really don't like things that aren't neat and uniform but I sucked it up and carried on. 

I then laid the egg down on the 'blanket' and started rolling it up just like a burrito, tucking the ends in as I went along. 

 

 

Here's how the little burritod egg looked:

 

There were some holes where I could see the egg through the roving but I didn't worry about it. 

Then it was time to get wet.  I filled two bowls with water. One was as hot as I could stand and the other ice cold. I dipped the burritod egg into the hot water and almost instantly all of the fluffiness that I had painstakingly created melted away.  This was my chance to move the fibres around and fill any gaps. 

I then put dab of dish soap on my hands and start passing the egg back and forth between hands with just a little bit of pressure.  I quickly learnt that the more soap you have, the easier the egg is to work with and the less fibres stuck to my hands.  I kept passing the egg back and forth, dipping it every once and a while until there were no longer any fibres sticking out and it looked pretty matted. This usually took me anywhere from 3-5 minutes per egg.

 

Once it seemed pretty matted and no rogue strings were sticking out, I then started to use a plastic shopping bag.  A quick tip: if you are doing this with light coloured roving turn the bag inside out just to make sure the ink from the logo doesn't come off onto your egg.

Holding the plastic bag and the egg with both hands, I started to apply some serious pressure and rub the bag against the egg.  Rub and press, rub and press, rub and press.  Whenever the egg would start to cool off I'd dip it back in the hot water. The bag seemed to really help as it allowed me to apply quite a bit of pressure without nicking or tearing the newly created felt.  

 


 

After a few minutes in the hot water I then repeated the whole bag process in the cold water bowl. 

Once the felt looked good and matted I placed the egg on a tea towel to dry.  By this time most of my eggs didn't actually look like eggs any longer and instead looked like purple blobs.  To make them look like eggs again I rolled one end on the towel to try and recreate the egg peak.



I finished felting my eggs around 9 p.m. and by the time I woke up the next morning they were dry and ready to go.

This really was a quick and easy little project. I made 5 eggs and from start to finish it took me about an hour and a half.  It probably would have been quicker if I didn't have to stop to pose for the lovely hand model shots (but aren't you glad I did?).

I don't tend to get too crazy about Easter decorating as it's usually a bit too pastel pink for me, but these eggs bring just a tiny amount of spring into the house and brighten up my newly refinished end table.

 




Hope you have a great week. I am off to get my Mad Men on.....

I'll be linking up to:

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating




DIY Show Off Project Parade
Remodelaholic


23 Mar 2012

Cornbread End Table


About 6 months ago I bought a cute little side table for our living room off of Kijiji (like Craig's List) for $15. I thought it would be perfect as it was tall but still small.

You would like to see a before picture? Sorry, you're outta luck. That was long before this blog and long before I went around like a crazy woman snapping pictures of everything just in case I might need them here.

Anyhow, it was stained walnut and had an ugly knob and I didn't like it at all. I went to town on it with my can of  high gloss black spray paint but when it was done I didn't like that either. It was too shiny and too early 90s.

A few weeks ago I decided it was time to try again.

Since it was super black it was in need of some serious priming. I used Zinnser 1-2-3 Bullseye which is quickly becoming my new favorite primer. It's at Home Depot and is cheap compared to specialty paint stores. If you know me, you know I LOVE stuff that's cheap (cheap but nice....).


Here's the table looking a little zebra-esque. It was only at this point that I realized I had totally forgotten to take a picture while it was all black. I am noticing now that I really should have moved it off of the lovely colored play mats for the pictures - live and learn!  It took 2 coats of primer to completely cover the black.   



I decided that since this table was pretty small it could handle a bold color.  Conveniently enough, at the same time as I was at Home Depot picking up the primer they had a big display of Martha Steward sample pots that they were clearing out for only $1 each. I couldn't resist. I picked up a pot in the color Cornbread and figured I would use it down the road for some other project.


When I got home I realized that Cornbread actually matched quite well with some art we have planned for the living room. And so, the cornbread table was born.

Surprisingly enough the Martha Stewart paint actually covered quite well.  It only took two coats with a foam roller.

As an aside, here's a little tip for you if you also happen to find the clearance Martha Stewart paint. It has a built in brush that is attached to the lid.  It does state it quite clearly on the label that there is a brush, but if you are anything like me you have no reason to actually read the label aside from confirming the color. I can tell you now from experience that if you unscrew the cap and lift it off at the speed of light the paint that was on the brush will fly all over your room.  You will then have to run around like a chicken with its head cut off looking for some paper towel so that you can wipe the paint off the wall before it dries.  Maybe that is why it was on clearance.

After I let it dry overnight I coated the table in poly.  Since it was going to be in our living and subject to some wear and tear I figured it would benefit from the extra layer. 

I went a bit insane quirky and used the door knob from our coffee table as the drawer pull. It's hugely over sized but I think it gives it some character. And yes, I did say the door knob from the coffee table. Our coffee table is made from an old door. 


Sorry about the dog butt in this pic. He would not move for love or milkbones. He really is a bit of a camera whore.


The sad part of this whole story is that I wanted cornbread so bad the whole time I was painting. You would think that the smell of paint would turn me off but oh no. I think I am a bit too food obsessed. I am hoping that once the table is in our living room for some amount of time I will stop thinking about cornbread every time I look at it.  Some chili and cornbread sure would be good about now though.....


Notice how the dog managed to work his way into this picture too??? He is skilled that way.

Special shout out to Lollipop Workshop who crafted our beautiful wedding cake topper that is sitting on the cornbread table. I still love it as much now as I did 2 years ago and am very glad that I dug it out of the cake icing to haul back from our wedding in Mexico.

The next project for the living room is to tackle the huge credenza. I am still trying to decide between white and cornbread for it....once I have that figured out I'll be sure to let you know. 

Have a great weekend!



22 Mar 2012

Blog on the Move


Yes, things are looking a little different around here.  You'll notice that my little blog has a whole new name, look and URL.  If you were redirected here from thisgongshowwecallife.blogspot.com I am glad that you have arrived and I hope the journey wasn't too painful!  If you are looking for a specific post please check out the archive to the right.

My blog is new and seemed a bit crazy to make a change already, but in true Kelly fashion I changed my mind about a few things.  

First was the name. I liked This Gong Show We Call Life when I first picked it but not long after I started blogging it started to bug me. It was too long, too hard for people to remember, too hard to type with so many Ls shoved together, and on and on.  Basically I just wasn't digging it. I was also having visions of the creators of the actual Gong Show somehow finding me and coming after me for royalties. I know, completely ridiculous but I just couldn't shake the feeling that I was using a trademarked name.

The other thing is that I wanted my own URL that didn't have .blogspot after it. I figured since I wanted to change the name this was as good of a time as any to change the URL too. So if you look up at your address bar you will notice that it's just a nice simple URL now. 

So, with that said.....

If you were a subscriber I beg and plead of you to please, please, please subscribe again to this new blog.  If you weren't a subscriber now's your golden opportunity.  There are two options for ya. You can subscribe by email or by RSS feed - your choice. Either way you will get my shiny new posts delivered right to you a few times a week.  If you had the old blog bookmarked in your favorites please update with this new one.  I know, it's a lot to ask of you and I'm sorry. Hang in there with me though, I promise this will be the last time I change the blog name!

Thanks so much for reading! The response to my little blog adventure has been astounding and I am so excited to share with you many crazy projects to come!  Up this weekend will be the Cornbread End Table......




Some Swell Stuff


Sometimes I stumble across things that are so fabulous that I wonder how I ever lived without them.  Have I been living under a rock and am the last person to discover such wonderfulness, or are there others out there who are also unaware?  I can't be the only one in the dark.  Many of my friends have little munchkins so the days of leisurely strolling the aisles of Home Depot looking at new and pretty things are done - now it's in and out as fast as humanly possible and hopefully without a meltdown.

So with that said, here are a few of my recent favorites - I hope they can be of some use.

1. 3M Command Picture Hanging Strips

I was well aware of Command hooks, but these are so much better. You use two velcro strips - one part sticks to the back of your picture and the other part to the wall. All you have to do is stick the strips together and your picture is hung. No nail required! They are great because you can re-position your picture as much as you need to in order to get it straight (which in our house is a lot because it's usually too much work to get the level out). Then when you have changed your mind and want to move the picture (like I often do - much to Justin's chagrin) you just pull the tab and it comes off the wall without wrecking the paint.

Source
In our basement we have metal studs that we don't feel too confident in so these have been a life saver.  We hung these pictures last week with only one strip each.  They are still hanging!


On a side note - that lovely ceiling is one of our next projects. About a bizzillion ceiling tiles are sitting in our entryway right now just waiting for us. How fun....

Since my initial discovery I have seen the picture hanging strips in Home Depot, Zellers, Rona and Staples.


2. Nutella

Yes, yes, I know you have heard of Nutella.  And no, I don't have some brand new fancy type of Nutella to share with you. Just gold ol' classic Nutella, but I've included it here becuase it's been a recent re-discovery for me. We didn't have Nutella in my house growing up, which I actually think is a good thing becuase it feels like such a special treat for me now.  I am loving Nutella on apples and bananas these days.  If I get to dip my fruit in chocolate it makes me feel like I am at some fancy restaurant with a chocolate fountain, and not actually just sitting on my couch in PJs watching HGTV surrounded by baby toys.  

But here's my beef with Nutella (and I know I am not alone!!!)....why is it so much more accessible in Europe than it is here in North America?

They have Nutella Stores:

Source

and small little Nutella packages that you can take with you.

Source
and we don't get any of the love. I have yet to find tiny little Nutella packs anywhere in Canada. If you know where I can find them please let me know (seriously, please, please, please).



3. Google Reader

So, we've already established that I have a complete obsession with blogs.  Google Reader is to blogs like Nutella is to apples - just makes everything better! In Google Reader you can subscribe to blog feeds and when new posts are published they automatically appear in your reader. No saving a million links in your favorites, no clogging up your inbox, just new content waiting there for you whenever you are ready.  It even tracks what you have read and haven't read, which is great for a spaz like me. You can check it out here.  And once you are there you can add this little blog (yup, it's a totally shameless plug....just asking ya to help a girl out).


Leave me a note if you have tried any of these and are as equally in love, or if you have any other swell things that I should know of.  I love an excuse to go get something new!




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