Let's Just Try It is a compilation of inspiration and creative endeavors of a mom and daughter duo featuring one heart, two styles and a whole heap of ideas that spill into a great collection of both successful and not so successful projects.
a compilation of inspiration and creative endeavors of a mom and daughter duo
May 6, 2012Posted by on
You know you are getting old when the things that were popular when you were a teen are popular once again. Smurfs, puffed sleeves and yes, my favorite teen-aged trend – the rainbow. In my day, it didn’t represent New Age, or homosexuality – it was just cool. And we had rainbows on everything – t-shirts, stickers, bedding, you name it!
It is with much joy that I see that my youngest girls also think it is cool. And for both of their birthdays this year, we baked rainbows. 🙂 Such fun!
For my newest teen – freshly 13 years old, we made tie dye cupcakes.
I didn’t take photos as I went – it was a midnight oil type of project – but they were very easy to do. Instead of a recipe I used a white cake mix and equally divided the batter into 6 bowls. Each bowl was tinted a colour of the rainbow. One spoonful of each colour, done in reverse order, into a white cupcake paper resulted in 15 lovely full cupcakes with a funky tie-dye appearance. A white fluffy buttercream frosting swirled on top and it was a hit!
For my youngest’s 11th birthday, she requested a monster of a rainbow cake – 6 tiers, “with white frosting and sprinkles, please Mommy!”
I read Martha Stewart’s recipe (consisting of 14 egg whites and endless hours of whipping and baking) and decided that a revamp was in order!
The basics are: 6 layers – each layer is 1/3 of one standard recipe (therefore, 2 recipes will produce 6 layers)
Helpful tips before you begin: Precise division of both cake batter and filling are imperative. I used a scale for the cake batter, and a measuring cup for the filling. Baking one recipe at a time made these divisions much more manageable.
Using white margarine made a cloud white frosting for the outer layer. I used a cream cheese frosting for the filling, but can imagine many delicious possibilities such as coconut, lemon or vanilla flavours
The Nuts and Bolts: Betty Crocker has a great white cake recipe – using only 4 egg whites, mind you. A doubled recipe is required, but I recommend mixing and baking them separately.
After mixing the batter, measure and divide into separate bowls (3 for each recipe), making sure each bowl holds exactly the same amount of batter. Colour each bowl with the appropriate colour of the rainbow. Orange is easy with a bit of red and yellow, and purple with yellow and red. I found that a mixed green was muddy looking, so I used a bottled green food colour.
Each bowl will fill a 9″ cake tin about 1/3 full. These bake rather quickly, so watch them carefully. 20 minutes should be sufficient. Use a toothpick to test.
Once cooled, begin stacking and filling in between each layer. Remember to work in reverse of the colour spectrum – purple, blue, orange, yellow and red. Use exactly the same amount of filling between each layer and spread evenly, extending slightly beyond the edge of the cake
Finally, frost the outside of the cake and top. Add whatever (if any) sprinkles or embellishments you like and Voila! You can taste a rainbow!
Things I learned along the way
More filling! Having a nice white divide between each colour makes for a greater impact.
Use Green food colour instead of yellow and blue combined.
More colouring = more intense colour. Best option would be powdered or paste colour, but my cheapy liquid worked well and didn’t noticeably change the flavour of the cake.
Make plenty frosting for the outside of the cake – This is not your average sized cake so a double recipe will be required.
Next time, I would love to make a 3 dimensional rainbow to place on top – either from moulding chocolate or royal icing. However, the surprise on everyone’s faces when we sliced into what appeared to be a lovely white cake, was worth the secret 🙂
February 21, 2012Posted by on
When I was a kid, we went camping often. Mom and Dad would seemingly just decided we were going and we would pack up our tiny little Toyota Corolla (with roof rack), wedge our bodies in, and head off. From my child eyes, my mom would just throw all kinds of things into the cooler box and away we went.
We loved being outdoors, we loved the sounds of nature, we loved the activity… but most of all we loved the treats. Camping meant treats – caramel corn, smores, trail mix and lots and lots of soda pop.
Now we have our own kids, and while we don’t camp nearly as much as I did when I was small, it is still a fun holiday… and a lot of work.
We are in process of bidding our fair summer goodbye, while all my northern hemisphere family and friends are just beginning to look forward to summer, we are packing for a weekend at the dam (lake for you northerners).
I am a huge list maker when it comes to camping, and I like to plan carefully my menus and snacks. And, of course, with our healthier perspective on life now I need to break out the creative juices and get cracking!
I’d love to hear your favorite camping take-a-longs and we will find ourselves with a great list of amazing yummy treats to add some flair to our next trips out-of-doors.
Potato Scramble – veggies, eggs and egg whites with a splash of salsa on top. Yum!
Yogurt and Papaya with a granola crunch topping and Health Muffins
Super Starter Oatmeal – oats cooked with chopped apple, peaches, raisins (or cranberries!) and cinnamon. Mmmmm!
Wraps made with homemade hummus, tomato, lettuce and a sprinkle of shredded white cheddar
Stuffed Baked Potatoes – broccoli, cauliflower, beans and a sprinkle of shredded white cheddar. Salsa and Plain Yogurt for a saucy topping
Grilled chicken with whole wheat pasta salad, pepperdew and feta cheese
Chicken Chili and corn muffins
Dried fruit trail mix pretzels, peanuts and purchased dried fruit with coconut
Fresh Veggies and Hummus
(just because camping isn’t camping unless you have them…)
Marshmallows, chocolates and Marie Biscuits (if we were in the States, it would be graham crackers!)
So while we try not to look like the Beverly Hillbillies heading out on our adventure at least we’ll know we’ve got “good eatin’s” in the food box!
February 12, 2012Posted by on
Most times, it’s the little things that count. The unexpected kiss on the cheek, the wink across the room, the help when unasked.
There is nothing nicer than leaving a little gift for someone anonymously, and this little heart wreath is a simple way to show those you love that you appreciate them. Leave them hanging on the door, from the car mirror or maybe even on the shower handle. Depending on the size made, it would take no time at all to whip up half a dozen. They use mostly scraps or repurposed materials and cost almost nothing.
Medium Gauge Wire – (recycle an old hanger!)
A pair of pliers and a wire cutter
Scraps of fabric (left overs from sewing projects, old pillowcases, bits of worn out clothing)
Bits of Ribbon to hang with
Step One: Bend a small heart from a piece of wire. Tip: start from the bottom of the heart and bend upward. Bend each side of the top of the heart by gently bending the curve around. Perfection is not needed.
Step Two: Twist the ends of the heart together. If too long, trim shorter. Tape ends with tape for safety. ( if the twisted section is too long, as it is above, trim with a pair of wire cutters. The tape will hold it together.
Step Three: Tear strips from a variety of types of cloth. The width required will depend on the size of wreath made. For a 7 inch wreath, I used approximately 1 inch wide strips. If using very thick material, make narrower strips.
Step four: Cut the strips into a length that will make an easy hitch knot. My sample was made with approximately 4 inch strips
Step five: Tie the strip onto the frame using a hitch knot. ( Fold the strip in half, forming a loop. Fold over the frame, insert the ends of the strips through the loop and pull tight.
Continue all the way around the frame pushing the knots close together and varying the colours and patterns.
Step Six: To finish the wreath, pull the ends of the knots apart from each other to give it a fluffed appearance.
Tie a longer length of ribbon in a loop and thread it around the wreath to form a hanger.
Ta Da! A cute little gift to brighten someones day!
* Options (I love options!)
Use a bigger frame and wider strips to make a really fluffy wreath
Use scraps of ribbon, or widely different textures of fabric for a beautifully diverse wreath
Hang a string of beads from the middle or the bottom – or a charm – or a bow – the possibilities are limitless!
January 12, 2012Posted by on
Beautiful Setting + Loads of Time + Creative Itch + a new set of Watercolour paints and paper = two weeks of fun
I am in no ways an artist – but I do have a ton of fun playing like one. And when you have a view like this one – it is impossible to not be inspired.
Elizabeth and I both had a go at it, and it was fun to see our different styles. Elizabeth is much more free-flowing and captures the beautiful translucency of the paint, while I tended to work it very similar to the acrylic paints I am more accustomed to. The results of the same images were drastically different.
My compositions were from actual settings, but in the last one, I composed the scene from my “drive by (photo) shoot”.
Painting No. 1: The scene from sitting on my bed in the loft of our holiday cottage. I literally just sketched (did I say I am not an artist?) and tried to duplicate what I saw with the paint. My big lesson on this painting – aside from the fact that watercolours need more water – was that using other tools than brushes can work well for some effects. I used the end of a piece of card dipped in the paint to make the lines in the grass and reed walls. It was a good practice – however I am disappointed in the feel of it as it ended up looking like a nice colouring in job. More water, looser brush strokes – and some basic perspective adjustments as well.
Painting No 2: This was part of a photo I took at Inhambane Bay. I started this as a practice piece for a larger painting I want to do one day. Because I had decided it was just for practice, I was a little more relaxed. I still tended to overwork the focal point, however I did work on the composition and colour value a bit. I tried to reserve white without masking fluid, but it was a bit of a challenge. The end result was much more satisfactory and I might even put this little guy in a frame.
Painting No 3: This one is a completely composed scene from 4 different photos I took. It isn’t yet finished, but because I am now back home and no longer indulging in the luxury of relaxed afternoons, I might never get it done, so I’ll post it anyway. I worked specifically on the composition and detail on the focal point. My biggest challenge was that I cannot paint faces (yet) and in my photos, because of the darkness of the interior of the shops and the darkness of the complexions, the figures appeared to not have heads. This just did not look right in paint. Also, the man pushing the wagon will soon get a hat, because he required more detail on his face and I just can’t yet work it out.
All in all, I think I have found some definite bonus points for watercolours that I haven’t seen in acrylics. The paint is much more sensitive and willing to be moved and worked. I enjoyed playing with it, and whether or not I treated it properly, it was still a great learning experience. I also love the ethereal feeling it can give when not overworked, and as I get better, this will be something I may strive for.
I’d love to hear from anyone who has experience with watercolour and what tips and techniques you find useful ! 🙂
January 8, 2012Posted by on
On my list of things to learn… number 4….. Photography. Thanks to a generous gift from my hubby, I have a fantastic camera, but I find that I suffer from photographic shyness. Something about pointing a camera in a public setting makes me feel like I’m intruding into people’s lives uninvited…. yet I long for those amazing shots of beautiful faces, candid moments and picturesque settings.
On a recent trip into Mozambique, Elizabeth and I tried a new technique we call “Drive By Shooting”. A word of warning: do not refer to this technique casually in a public setting. It tends to draw strange looks and unwanted interest in your conversation.
A long stretch of road lined with a collection of informal shops as well as many people was the setting. I set my camera to action (remember that I am still in beginner status here…) and clicked off a series of shots with the camera placed on the open car window as we drove at about 40 km down the road. I played a little zooming in and out and came up with many quick glimpses into the local life. A quick run through the shots, deleting those that were of nothing interesting, left me with a collection of photos that have given me many great subjects for artistic endeavours as well as a great memory of the feeling of the area we were in. A little Photoshop help for lighting and composition and I will be happy.
(please forgive the low resolution…. we have a VERY slow connection, and I had to reduce the size of the photos to get them loaded)
October 16, 2011Posted by on
One thing we have missed since living in South Africa is South American food. Our home town in the States had a population of people from south of the border, and the cuisine readily available was “muy bueno”. I am always on the look out for food that we can make with ingredients we have available, but it’s not always easy.
Tonight’s dinner was a first time shot at a recipe in my new Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that I was given as a gift this year (imported from the US, of course). It was a huge hit. Conversation around dinner was “You haven’t made this before…. please don’t stop”.
A few alterations made it a little more nutritious and didn’t take away from the flavour or texture of the dish. Next time I will add more green peppers and maybe sneak in some extra grated veggies on the sly such as zucchini (marrows) and carrot. I am sure that corn would also be a nice addition.
■1 onion, chopped
■1 green pepper, chopped
■3 cloves garlic, chopped
■1 Tb. olive oil
■1 lb minced chicken breast (leave out for a vegetarian dish)
■1 1/2 tsp chili powder (more if you want extra zip)
■3/4 tsp cumin
■Salt and Pepper for seasoning
■1 can kidney beans – drained, rinsed and slightly mashed
■1 can cannelleni beans – drained, rinsed and slightly mashed (substitute black beans if available)
■1 can pinto beans – drained, rinsed and slightly mashed
■2 c. tomato juice (or V8 style juice if available)
■1 can green chilies (I substituted one-seeded fresh green “Thai” chili, chopped fine)
Cook the onion, green pepper and garlic in the oil until softened. Add the optional minced chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook until no longer pink. Add tomato juice, cumin and chili powder and the undrained tin of green chilies (or fresh chopped chili as preferred) Heat through.
Transfer into a 3 qt casserole, or 9×13 pan. Heat oven to 400 F or 200 C.
For the topping
In a medium bowl mix the following:
■1 cup cornmeal
■1 cup whole wheat flour
■1/2 tsp salt
■2 tsp baking powder
Add to the above ingredients
■1/4 cup canola oil
■1 1/2 c. milk
Stir until just moistened.
Grate in 2 oz cheddar cheese and 2 Tb chopped flat leaf parsley or fresh coriander leaves
Spoon over the top of the bean mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream and a splash of spicy salsa for some zip.
Finish as a meal with a nice side salad and you’ve got it made! Enjoy!