Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I've Been Baking "A Cake A Week"


While on our trip to the UK back in March, my daughter and I enjoyed a piece of cake pretty much every day.  We tasted a little bit of everything from Red Velvet to Banoffee Cake, to Battenberg and Pear Almond Coffee Cake.  All were scrumptious I might add. 
My daughter agreed that all that cake was pretty darn awesome and that we needed to eat it way more often once we returned to Canada. 
So upon arrival home, I resolved that I would use and hone my baking skills by baking a cake every week, from scratch, to enjoy with our family.
I am pleased to say I have kept up this new goal (except for the 2 weeks we were in Italy in July!) and we have enjoyed countless new flavours and textures each weekend, usually with a cup of tea or a glass of wine.  
Now what kind of cakes have I made?  
Of course I have taken pictures along the way and I can share them all with you now!
A Traditional Victoria Sponge, Upside-Down Summer Berry Cornmeal Cake, Lemon Drizzle Cake,  Chocolate-Chip Brown Sugar Cake 

Spiced Applesauce Cake, Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake,
Coconut Apricot Cake, Almond Cake 

 Chocolate Blackout Cake, Gluten-free Banana Cake,
Battenberg Cake,  Chocolate Fudge Cake with Butterscotch Pecan Topping

Salted Caramel Poached Pear Meringue Slab "Cake," Black Forest Cake, Triple Citrus Madeira Cake, Swedish Tosca Almond Cake

And where do I find all of these luscious cake recipes?  Honestly I am pretty "old school" about my cake recipes.  They all come books.  Gorgeous, colourful books that have photography that make every single recipe  a "must bake!"
Here are my favourites:
Vintage Cakes by Jane Brocket

Dessert For Two by Christina Lane

Gluten-Free Sweet Treats by Emma Goss-Custard

Meringue Girls by Alex Hoffler and Stacey O'Gorman

One Bowl Baking by Yvonne Ruperti

Most of the cakes I have pictured above are from one of these books. If you'd like any details about the books or  which book each cake was from, leave me a comment and I'll get right back to you!
I have really enjoyed baking a cake each weekend.  Sometimes I make it gluten-free for my son and husband, often just replacing GF flour for regular all-purpose flour. I have practised a variety of techniques and have learned new ways to "gussy up" a cake to make it visually attractive, too.  I hope to continue my "cake a week" until the end of 2015, then I might give bread-making a try in 2016. We'll see where the flour and sugar take me....

Hugs to all,

PS  I am joining in with the "Secret Blogger Club" this week. 

The Blonder Side of Life

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Family Fun : An Evening at the Fall Fair

I grew up in a small town in an agricultural area of Canada. Although my parents were not farmers, both were brought up on farms and  knew and understood the "farming" life.  My hometown held an annual Fall Fair in celebration of all things rural and it was a big event for people of ages. Unfortunately, the fair in my hometown is no more and I was never able to take my own kids to see it.
Luckily, the town we live in now still has "rural roots" and it holds a Fall Fair every September, too. 
The weather was gorgeous this weekend, so  we headed out to spend some time at the fair. 
I LOVE the domestic animal building.  It always brings back memories of my Opa and Oma's farm.  The sheep in the top picture have their full wool coats.  The ones at the bottom had just "helped out" in a sheep-shearing demonstration!

I'd never met an alpaca before.  This girl was gentle and quiet and had fur as soft as a bunny.

Speaking of bunnies.....

One of the exhibit buildings had a variety of craft demonstrations.  This woman was a table-top loom weaver.  Here scarves were absolutely beautiful!

Bryn and Kevin enjoy our fancy supper!
After supper we enjoyed an exotic animal show.  We met a lemur named Julian. 
Then Julian introduced himself to Bryn!!

No! Lemurs and  kangaroos are not typical Canadian farm animals but it was pretty cool to be able to spend time with them up close!

The final event of the evening was the "Demolition Derby!" We spent two hours watching cars and mini-vans crash into each other, hoping for sparks and engine fires. Lots of noise and lots of smoke!

Afton's choice for her "Derby snack?"  A Beaver Tail - a Canadian specialty - deep-fried dough covered in a variety of sweet toppings. She opted for icing, chocolate syrup and Oreo cookie bits.  Yep.  It's as good as it sounds!!

Did these Fall Fair pictures bring any nostalgic feelings for you?  I hope so.  I definitely LOVED this day out with my family. 

Thanks for popping by and thank-you so much for leaving a comment, too!

Here's to another great week!



Friday, September 25, 2015

Five On Friday : Five Photos From My Phone

 Happy Autumn everyone!
Does it FEEL like autumn in your neck of the woods?  The evenings are cooling off around here, but during the day, it is still stinking hot - shorts and sandals kind of weather!  And they say it's cold here in Canada...... :)
Joining in once again with Amy from Love Made My Home and her Five on Friday Photo series. 
As has been my tradition in other weeks of Five On Friday, I have chosen five photos from my iphone which illustrate the week that has been. 
Number One: A Day with my Niece
Little "D" is 10 months old and a complete doll. I spent all day last Saturday with her while her parents attended a wedding.  We had a wonderful day reading books, snacking on crackers and building with blocks.  At one point we tried to go  on a walk and ended up getting caught in a huge rainstorm.  Luckily we quickly found a café and spent an hour drying out inside, me sipping a latte and her entertaining the other patrons with her hand-clapping and smiles.
Number Two:  Air Popped Popcorn
Lately my husband has been reading  about the chemicals found in microwave popcorn.  The kids LOVE the stuff so we eat it at least twice a week.  In order to indulge our popcorn addiction, we decided to switch to air-popped popcorn.  My mother offered us the air-popper that we used while I was growing up.  It still works perfectly and has made some delicious snacks for  the whole family in the last week. 

Number Three:  Chocolate Cake
You know when you get a craving and you know it will bug you until it is fulfilled? I had that this week.  I NEEDED some chocolate cake while I was home on a quick lunch break. 
Now how  was I going to get this chocolate cake? I didn't want to go and buy whole cake and the cupcake shop was just too far away.
My saving grace?
This cookbook.  I forgot I had it.
And boy, does it make some yummy cakes.
Within 8 minutes I was enjoying a warm, gooey slice of chocolately goodness with plenty of time to spare before I had to head back to work!
Number Four:  The "Spice of Life" Crochet Along
In my previous post I mentioned that I had joined my first "crochet along." I received the first part of the pattern on Tuesday morning and since then I have completed the first 18 rows. I am loving how the colours are coming together and I am looking forward to part two next week!

Number Five:  Autumn Décor
Now that September is drawing to a close, I decided it was time to dig out some of my fall decorations.   Out came my porcelain pumpkins and some creamy plastic gourds.  I am keeping these autumn changes to a minimum this year.   I am trying to avoid clutter to help simplify my life and these little touches will be enough to add autumnal warmth to our home.  
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.  We are off to our town's annual Fall Fair.  The weatherman is calling for sunshine and  warmth again this weekend - the perfect atmosphere for lots of fall family fun!!
Much love to all who come 'round here!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Getting Crafty: What I'm Making Right Now!

I like a little variety in my life.  
However, I am not one to start too many projects before the first few get finished.  
Generally, I try to have a variety of different projects going, usually in an assortment of mediums.  
This is true today as I reflected on my current "works in progress."'

Number One:  French Hydrangea Blanket
I began this last month and I already have half of the squares done.  I ADORE the colours I have chosen and each square brings me joy to create.  However, I have decided to put it away for awhile so that I can join in with a "Crochet Along" blanket project. (More info on that below!) 

Number Two:   Italy in Stitches
My husband and I took a whirlwind trip through Italy  in July.  As has been my tradition, I am stitching up some of our memories in a cross-stitch picture that will hang in our hallway.  So far I've stitched London and Paris and I am really liking how Italy is looking so far.
Do you recognize Florence's Duomo?
The Ponte Rialto in Venice?
The tower in St. Mark's Square? 

Number Three:  Spice of Life Crochet Along Blanket
I've never joined a stitch along of any kind.  However, my oldest son  recently requested a crocheted blanket for his bed so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to join a sisterhood of stitchers and check a project off of my list.  
Sandra at Cherry Heart has created the pattern and is leading us through several weeks of  favourite stitches and colour combinations.  
This is what the finished blanket will look like:

You can see why it's called the "Spice of Life" blanket.  There's definitely a lot of  stitch and colour "variety" in it!

My son, Bryn, helped me pick his blanket colours.  Luckily he was happy to choose from my stash.  I am using up a lot of loose balls of yarn and we are both happy with the tones and "boyish-ness" of the colours.  

Number Four:  Star Christmas Quilt
I'll admit it.  I have begun some Christmas crafting.  I usually don't start until mid-October, but I have decided that this year's Christmas quilt ( I make one every year!) will involve some English Paper Piecing.  This always takes a lot longer than stitching bits together on the sewing machine so I thought I'd better get started!  Three stars done,  SO MANY to go!!

Oh! I get excited just looking at these pictures.  
And each evening I grab a cuppa and settle in for an evening of stitching.  The hardest part is choosing which project to work on!!

Kindest regards to all who have come for a visit!

Linking in with the Thistlebear's Winter Craft Link party!


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Recipe: "Autumnal" Overnight Oats

Just like everyone else, I am looking for speed in my morning routine.  With a hubby and three kids to get out the door in the morning (as well as myself!), I need to be able to prep some of the morning routine in advance. 
That's where overnight oats come in! I make them the night before so that I can put my energy into prepping healthy breakfasts for the rest of the family at 7AM.
I've tried a variety of overnight oat recipes from "Double Chocolate Fudge"  to "Banana Peanut Butter Cup," and they are ALL delicious.  But this particular recipe I came up with myself to use up some pumpkin puree I had in the fridge. 
Please give it a try. It is the perfect "pick-me-up"  for these new, cooler, autumnal days. 
Autumnal Overnight Oats
(serves 2 and fills 2 "Bonne Maman" jam jars perfectly!)
1. Whisk together:
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup milk (or almond milk)
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger

2. Stir in:
1 cup oats
1 tbsp brown sugar
3.  Add in:
1/8 cup raisins

4: Core and chop:
1 medium apple

5. Begin layering the jars. 
Line the bottom of the jar with 1/4 of the mixture.  Cover with slices of apple.  Add a second layer of oatmeal and apples.

6.  For extra crunch, add your favourite "toppings."
Pumpkin seeds, almonds, pecans and walnuts are all delicious!

7.  Pop on the lids and refrigerate overnight. 

I enjoy mine every morning with a big cup'o'coffee while I check my emails.
It's perfect - three main food groups, and I'm full for at least 3 hours!!  
I'd love to hear  if you try out this recipe.  You won't be sorry!
Have a wonderful week everyone,