Friday, March 30, 2012

BESTeam Feature March 30: Spring Theme!

One of the things I love about the Etsy shop Empty on the Inside is that Annie is always updating her inventory! There are always new and seasonal cards ready to go. She currently has 14 different cards featuring some kind of flower. The very first one that caught my eye today is this lovely one featuring daffodils. Don't think there's nothing for you, though, if you don't like flowers! Annie already has cards ready for Mother's and Father's day, and she always has birthday and thank you cards. If you'd like to learn more about what Annie does, check out her blog!

And speaking of things all outdoors, look at Isobel of Coldham Cuddlies' absolutely adorable little bunnies! Don't they look like they're ready for Easter? Or maybe a spring reading of Peter Rabbit? These bunnies are all handmade and ready to find a forever home. One of the things I love about this shop is that it isn't just teddies, although the ones she has are cute! There are also hedgehogs and coyotes and pandas, oh, my! Some of these animals also come as puppets - a perfect way for kids to show off their imaginations! Isobel also has a blog I encourage you to check out.

Irith at Rio Rita also getting into the spring spirit! This gold and labradorite necklace is hand crafted in the shape of a daisy. It reminds me a little bit of a sunflower, also, and although I know it's still a little too early in the season for either flower around here, it's nice to encourage the growing season by wearing the appropriate jewelry! Don't forget to look at Irith's blog, also!

Are you enjoying reading my features? Would you like to write some of your own, and be included in similar stories? Consider joining the BESTeam on Etsy!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Cleaning

It seems like my "spare" room is in continual need of Spring cleaning. I've blogged about this before, but it just seems like it won't stay clean! I'm getting really close to being fully organized, though, which has been hard as I've expanded my inventory and the types of crafts I'm doing. I think my (perhaps misguided) perpetual optimism helps a lot. I always think that this is the time everything will stay in place!

Over the winter, since I've been too busy with my day job to create much new, I've tried to do little things, like cull out old beads (you know, the ones that came in a package of twenty that you only have one left of which you know you'll never use?). I put all of these singles or doubles into a Ziplock and put it in my giveaway box. I know I may wish I hadn't later, but today's peace of mind at gaining an empty container to put new beads in supersedes tomorrow's regret.

The other thing I'm doing, somewhat painfully, is deciding what kinds of art supplies I want to keep. I know, I gasp at the thought of getting rid of any of it, but I have to be honest. It seemed like a great idea at the time to buy a drawer full of rubber stamps when they were on sale, because I thought it would be great to start making my own cards, but then I thought about all the other supplies I need to make cards. You got it - most of those supplies I do not have.

I think I'll sort and keep a few, after all, you never know what I might do tomorrow, but then I'll call my sister and see if she or my niece would like some new stamps. If they don't, I know a few other people who may be interested, people who already use them and always need more.

Don't worry, though, because all that ribbon that doesn't have a project yet? I'm keeping all of that. :)

Is anyone else in the same boat as me, cleaning out things like it's going out of style - or at least attempting to?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

BESTeam March 25

This beautiful, light shawl comes from Yankee Burrow Creations (formerly called Our Home to Yours) on Etsy. It looks just perfect for the transition from Winter (those of you who had any!) to Spring, which is what's going on in my neck of the woods. It looks like the perfect sort of think to wear over a casual dress for a nice walk downtown window shopping after seeing some community theater. Okay, that's what I'd like to do, anyway!


Another shop that always has fun things to wear is Blue & White Wear. I think this pretty bracelet would go just lovely with the above shawl, don't you think? It looks like the sort of bracelet that might gently clink together as you move your wrist.

And, in my little world, perhaps you will be walking down a street like this original Painting? It's by Boretto Art, a newcomer to our BESTeam group. I just love the richness of the colors used here. The style reminds me a lot of paintings from another era, just a little abstract but not too much.

Are you enjoying reading my features? Would you like to write some of your own, and be included in similar stories? Consider joining the BESTeam on Etsy!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cake Decorating!

One of the things I loved best about my birthday growing up was that my mom would make a cake and decorate it with whatever colors and designs I wanted. When I was in college, I often paid it forward by making cakes for my roommates and friends. I haven't had an opportunity come up for a while lately, but I asked a friend recently if she'd like me to bake her a cake for her birthday. It would be a good chance for me to dust off my skills, although I've never been as good as my mom is.

I have these neat fire-proof things I soak and then wrap around my cake pans. I have no idea what they're called, but they work great to keep my cakes from rising unevenly!

Once the cakes are cool, it's time to layer! I like to put the bottom layer upside down and the top layer right side up, so that the two bottoms are together. It helps the cakes not rock unevenly. I usually use store-bought frosting for the filling. 

Now to cover the entire thing in white! I make my own frosting for the decorating part, using my mom's recipe, of course, because you can't really shape store-bought frosting. The kind I make will stiffen up when left out, which I personally like. If you don't like the outside to get a little hard, you can try to cover it quickly, but I think it will still get a bit of a shell.

Finally for some color! This cake is only one box of store-bought mix, so it's not very big. You can also see that I'm not great with measuring out how much space I need for my letters! Ideally, I'd have used several colors and added some flowers and leaves and such. I only had room for some scallops on top and bottom, though. The great thing about the few decorations there are, though, is that I can cover up some of my more minor mistakes! Next time, maybe I'll just write the name so there's more room.

Do any of you decorate your own cakes? How did you learn (by watching someone or taking a class)? What's your favorite frosting to use to decorate?
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