Thursday, November 13, 2014

Kitchen Obsession - Part 4

Hi Peeps -
I know you have been sitting by the computer, just waiting for this email with the big reveal.  Or not. I just had to find some time to do a decent cleaning of the kitchen before I could take the after shots!

To refresh your memory, here are the "befores":

And the inspiration:

And now (pretend you hear a drumroll)...

Considering this was just a surface refresh of a builder grade bonanza, I think this is a pretty noticeable transformation!  Kind of like Botox instead of a full facelift, right?  Goes to show what a little paint can do and the mini construction projects of board and batten and "reclaimed wood" on the peninsula are totally DIY-able!  I feel like this room is so pretty now - and much more of this decade.  

I will still pine for new floors (no pun intended) everyday...but the rest of it makes me happy.  Now, just waiting for the stove to bite it.  tick tock tick tock...

Wedding cake project coming up soon...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Kitchen Obsession - Part 3

Now on to some of the finer details.

As important as paint, flooring, cabinets, furniture all are, I don't feel that a room comes alive until the personal touches are added.  Those things that make it sing and make you a part of it.

I took some time assembling all the finishing touches in this room.  Several of them have been lying in wait for months or even years, waiting for the right place at the right time.  Others are newer finds - things that I happened upon and were a perfect addition.  I am not a big believer in accessorizing every inch, so each piece had to matter.

The painting.
This was actually an accidental find/hand-me-down from my dear cousin, Robyn.  She gave us the canvas many months ago, with the intention of having one of the boys paint over it.  I loved the colors and abstract nature of it, so it never made it to their easel.  After I chose the grey paint, I hung the painting and it never came down.  I love the contrast of the greens with the grey and it complements my existing plant pots perfectly.  It has become a launching point for the room's color scheme.  Thanks, Robyn!

The mirror.
No big story here.  Found it at Tuesday Morning at a fraction of what I had seen it for elsewhere.  I think I paid $38.  Love the rope. It's a statement in the room.

The comic relief.
Every room needs some.  These letters were in the college decor section at Target.  They provide a little unexpected and keep me from taking the room and my cooking too seriously.

The rug.
I did not have a rug in the dining area before, but I felt it necessary to break up all the lightness in the floor, board and batten and cabinets.  My choice was a compromise.  I wanted a square rug to accommodate the round table, so my options were already limited.  Not a ton of affordable square rugs out there.  I found one on Overstock that I loved.  A rag rug that had a more contemporary look to it and seemed to have the right color palette.  But, I waited too long, went on vaca and when I came back, it was sold out.  Found this one on Amazon (my version is square).  To be honest, it is probably better because it is darker than the rag and therefore grounds the space a little better.  I really do like it...just had my heart set on a rag.  The good thing is that it has alot of color variety so I am not locked in to greys, greens and blues.

The light.
I love this light.  It is a very sentimental piece for me.  Mom and I found it about 20 years ago while antiquing in San Diego.  I bought it and told her that I would save it (I was in my Strawberry St. apartment at the time) for my first home.  It was ugly...a dirty cream color with green flecks.  I painted it high heat matte black.  We did have it hanging in our first house, and it has been in the dining area in this house since we moved in  However, I never felt like it was noticeable in the old scheme.  In the refreshed space, it is simply gorgeous.  I think it is also right on trend right now as I am seeing square iron fixtures everywhere.  Mine is different than those though, and oh so special.

The lantern.
There is a corner in the kitchen where the cabinets protrude into the vaulted area, creating a shelf that sits up about 9 ft. high.  Every time dear Auntie Nana (aka Sharon) used to visit, she would say "you need to put a plant there".  I wasn't a big fan of that idea as I was not about to climb on the counter to water one every week and I didn't want "faux greenery".  And I was also not convinced that I absolutely had to have something there.  However, when this facelift was happening, I thought I would try to come up with something.  Enter this lantern.  Again, no real story.  Just found it at Homegoods and put a fake candle in it.  I had never used those before, but can I just tell you...I love those things!  It has an automatic timer that turns it on at 5 and off at 10 and it puts off the most natural candlelight!  I love the wood tone of the lantern and the bling on the top.  Every room needs some;) Score...just sorry it took me so long to fill that space.

Finally, I'll finish up with the dishwasher story.  Right in the middle of all of these projects, the dishwasher bit it.  We weren't surprised.  It's been on its last legs for awhile.  These things just never come at the ideal time.  We have been replacing the old, white appliances one at a time, as needed.  Only the stove/oven is left.

So we research, shop, research, shop some more...all while hand washing a gazzillion dishes.  We find a good deal on a very nice Bosch, but we have to order it.  More hand washing.  It finally arrives, the guy comes to install and it's too tall.  The previous owners had installed the tile over the original vinyl and added a 3/4" backer board, basically boxing in the old dishwasher.  The installer was able to lower the legs enough to force the old one out, but the new one was absolutely not going in.

Since we have quartz counters, altering the counters was not an option.  Therefore, the installer had to leave and I had to chisel out several of the tiles in front of the peninsula.  What. A. Pain.  I can't believe what a shoddy job the installer did on those floors. They are wrong in so many ways.  I REALLY wish I could have just ripped out the whole floor while I was at it.  But, I was desperate to have my dishwasher back (and needed it for caking), so once I was done, he came back and managed to get it in place.

We love the new dishwasher, but here's the dilemma.  What if it needs to be removed for a repair?  I don't want to re-install tile only to have to rip it out again.  So, until I decide what to do, a pretty gel mat will act as a band-aid and keep my feetsies comfy at the same time.

I also made a nifty CLEAN/DIRTY magnet out of leftover scrabble pieces.   Charmin'!  (forgive the Lola teeth marks in the corner;)

Now...the floor repair project will just have to wait. No time and no patience.  In the meantime, I am going to pretend like there is not ugliness hiding under the rug in my beautiful new kitchen.  Sigh.

The big reveal is coming soon!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Kitchen Obsession - Part 2

Ok - sorry I had to leave so abruptly last time.  Time got away from me!

So let's see, the next project I would like to show you is my "fake it til you make it" version of the distressed wood island in the inspiration photo.  For those of you who have not seen it or just want to get lost in its beauty all over again, here it is...

Ahhh!  Love it.

Well, I don't have a true island like this one, just a peninsula.  And I didn't want to completely rebuild anything, just cover what is currently there.  Additionally, I wanted to ease into it.  Wasn't sure how much of a commitment I wanted to make in case it didn't turn out the way I had planned.  Jeez, I obviously had many conversations with myself over this whole thing.  Got a little sick of my internal dialogues after awhile.  Anyway...I decided to start with the end of the peninsula.  The part that is most visible from the family room.  The rest of the peninsula that could be covered is only visible from the kitchen dining area anyway.  Here's the "canvas".  More on that crazy dishwasher later.  That's a completely different story.

You can't really tell from the picture, but the end panel is slightly recessed, giving me about 3/8" to play with.  Not much, which really limited the kind of wood that I could put there.  I wanted to try Stikwood, which are real wood panels that are thin with an adhesive back that are created specifically for decorative wall installations.  Exactly what I needed.  However, it's crazy expensive because you can only buy in larger quantities.  I would have had to spend about $300.

So I started checking out everything I could find.  Real distressed wood, "distressed look" engineered, laminate, pretty much anything they have online and in stores.  Since this was more of an experiment, I decided to go with something easy to work with and inexpensive.  The winner was an adhesive vinyl plank from Lumber Liquidators.  What??  Not at all what I was planning on, but it is actually a decent looking product and the price was right!  $20 for the entire box, which leaves me quite a bit to spare.  It even has texture to it and you can't tell it's not real unless you get right on top of it.

 Instead of a permanent installation, I decided to start with cutting another end panel - exactly like the one that you see in the before pic.  That would be a "backer board" for my wood so that I would not have to permanently attach the wood to the unit.  If I didn't like it or got tired of it, I could just take it off!  Yes!

Once I had my backer board cut to size, all I had to do was start to lay the planks.  I chose a diagonal pattern, which is a little unexpected and draws even more attention to the area.

The most amazing part is that because these are so thin and pliable, I literally cut the excess off with a pair of scissors!  No sawing necessary!

Once they were on and I was happy with the result, I put the panel in place and attached it with a nail.  Yep, one nail did it.

I have to say I am pretty darn happy with it.  Much of it gets covered with the trashcan, but it's still a very impactful feature and I often find myself admiring it when I am sitting in the family room.  Mmm, so pretty!

I do need to go back and use some stronger adhesive on some of the pieces.  Because the dishwasher is adjacent, the heat from that sometimes loosens the glue and the planks fall off.  No worries, I'll just use a stronger adhesive and they should be fine.

What do you think?  More lovely kitchen details coming in Part 3!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Kitchen Obsession - Part 1

Hi friends!
If you recall from my last post, I mentioned being quite consumed with several projects around the house this summer.  As I'm sure you can all attest, these types of things never quite go as quickly or as easily as planned.  There were several hiccups and delays - and this wasn't even a full renovation. Just a "cosmetic refresh".  But, I think I am finally to a place where I feel happy with it - at least the things over which I have some control;)

So, let's go back to the starting point.  When we first moved in, we were working with forest green "faux marble" laminate counters, the current white cabinets, tan walls above the chair rail and lovely floral white and green wallpaper below the chair rail.  The's 90's in all their glory.  The flooring was and continues to be the bane of my existence, white tile with white grout.  Seriously??  Why would you do that in a kitchen?  The one room with with dirtiest floor in all of the house!  I have hated it for 7 years now and will continue to hate it, but we have about 300 sf of it and can't afford to replace it.  So, I am trying to find a way to live with it/ignore it.  Yeah, right.  It haunts me.

I set to work transforming as best I could, with the first project being the counters.  We spent a chunk and went with quartz, which I still love.  Then I taught myself to tile and did the simple backsplash shown below.  The wallpaper came off and I painted the whole space a rich red, which at that point, made my heart sing.  I also removed the window treatment hardware and installed rattan blinds inside the frames.  Simple and classic.

Ok, so fast forward to a year or so ago, and I am getting antsy for some change in the kitchen.  I was itching for something fresh, a little eclectic and a way to boost the architectural features without spending a boatload.  Then I saw it...the dream kitchen.

 I could picture myself walking through that door and whipping up a cake or soup and salad, while my friends sat at the island sipping coffee.  Heaven.  I mean, look at that oven hood and island finish!  And the grey and white with wood accents is stunning.  My wheels turned to...what if I won an HGTV kitchen sweepstakes and could completely change the footprint of my kitchen?  I knew exactly what would need to be moved to achieve the same look.  Then, I snapped out of it and asked myself how I could fake it. Then, I set to work.

First up, paint.  Let me tell you, grey is hard to get right.  The big pics are coming later, but I am very happy with the result.  A medium grey that grounds the room a bit since there is so much white in the cabinets and flooring. As I was painting, I realized that I kind of liked the white below the chair rail, so I decided to teach myself how to do a board and batten effect.  It's fairly easy to do, cost effective and really elevates the architectural integrity of the space.  The boys and I made it a summer project.

We started with measuring how we wanted the battens spaced, taking into account the outlets, windows, etc.  I think we ended up with about 14" between each.  We purchased unprimed lattice from Lowe's and I had the boys measure out the lengths and cut them with a miter box.  They did a great job.   

Next, we used our spacer stick to place our battens and tape them in the place.  I then borrowed a friend's nail gun and compressor.  Wow!  What an amazing rush being able to knock out a project so quickly.  It took me about 1/2 hour to nail all of the pieces in place!  Last was caulking the edges to give a finished, professional look.


After all the construction was completed, I really struggled with what color white to paint it.  I tried several samples and finally landed on Natural Tan from Sherwin Williams.  I chose it to help pick up the slight bisque color in the floor tiles.  I still don't love it, love it, but unless the floor were darker, I don't think I ever will. Ce la vie.

I have become quite long-winded this post, so I will sign off for now.  Stay tuned for phase 2, coming soon!

Friday, September 26, 2014

All aboard the party train!

Hi all!
I know I have been a bit absent this summer.  There has just been so much going on with the kids and I have also been immersed in a kitchen facelift that has been a bit consuming.  Not a total reno, but several cosmetic changes that have provided a big, lovely impact.  More on those later...some really cool projects to show you, but some are still being wrapped up.

In the meantime, I am definitely still caking.  I am afraid that my occasional silences imply that Creo is being pushed aside.  Not at all!  It's a seasonal business so I am busier some months than others, but I also don't post everything that I make. This month, however, I have an absolutely adorable cake to share.

My former co-worker, Michelle, should be a party planner.  She has such a knack for pulling together the most adorable themed parties.  She is the client for whom I made the yellow and grey "what will it bee" cake for the baby shower.  The decor was magazine-worthy!

For her son's 2nd birthday, she has asked for a vintage train-themed cake.  Not "Thomas" - that's a little too in-authentic, if you know what I mean.  Instead, she found a series of party decor items, favors, etc on Etsy that set the tone perfectly and provided a great jumping off point for a cake design.  Here are a few of the items that she chose.

The colors and graphics in the decor immediately set my wheels turning (pun intended) and the design came together very quickly in my mind.  Medium blue, red, cream, wood, stripes, bandanas...they all fell into place.

I covered the cake board with a wood patterned scrapbook paper to emulate railroad ties.  The cream and blue stripes on the bottom tier and "2" plaque are a direct reference to the bunting design.

The bandana design ties into the birthday boy's "uniform" of conductor's cap and scarf.

And the steam engine topper is created to resemble wood, but is hand-sculpted of fondant and modeling chocolate.

And, voila!

Michelle, you could have a second career in party planning!  And you know where to find a baker!  As always, thanks to all my clients/friends and family for trusting me with your special events!

Confectionately yours!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Crazy for Customization

Hello friends and family!
I am back with a couple of really fun projects.  They each embody why I love what I do - which is to create truly customized treats for very special events.  I feel that a celebration can be made amazingly special when there is a dessert centerpiece that speaks directly to the person or event being celebrated.

The first is a figurine to celebrate the graduation of a young man from my neighborhood.  His Mom asked me to create an image in his likeness and incorporate his guitar, which he will be studying in college.  I used a combination of fondant and modeling chocolate and due to the size (about 7" tall), also had to utilize toothpicks and wire to ensure structural integrity.  He will sit atop an 8" cake and be surrounded by a tower of complementary cupcakes.  Wish I could have been there to see the surprise on his face when this was revealed to him!

Next up, cupcakes created for a bridal shower.  The wedding has a garden theme and I was asked to incorporate Tiffany blue, pinks and gold. Cake is White Vanilla Sour Cream with Vanilla Buttercream.

All the flowers and watering cans were fondant and royal icing.  The butterflies are hand painted on wafer paper by a very talented sugar artist named Melanie at PeaceLoveandCakeNY.  Her products are available on Etsy.

Thanks to Kathy and Lauren for their faith in me and for allowing me to provide the "icing" on their celebrations!

Confectionately yours!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Happy Oyster!

Hi ya'll!
Here's a fun project.  It started with a visit to my dear friend's river house on the Potomac.  It's a lovely spot that sits right on the mouth of the river as it feeds into the Chesapeake Bay.  Along the beautiful beach are tons of oyster shells, which I had a ball collecting and imagining all the fun things I could do with them.  Top of mind was a chandelier that the husband and I had seen in a home store in Maine a couple of years ago.  It was thousands of dollars, but I knew with enough shells, I could pull off my own version.  I am still working on figuring out the design and materials that I need to build it, but in the meantime, I found a fun little side project.

First step, clean the shells.  I did them in batches, soaking them for a few hours in white distilled vinegar.  After I good rinse, I spread them on a towel and let them dry.

Although many of them had a natural pearly finish, I wanted to make them a little more glam.  So I mixed together some pearl and silver acrylic paint, diluting with water to make it more translucent and painted away.

After some drying time, I heated up the glue gun and set to work inserting the shells into a styrofoam ball.  In retrospect, I think I would have tried to paint the ball first as some of it shows in the finished product (if you are looking for it).

The downside of this project is that it took way more shells than I anticipated, meaning I may not have enough to do my chandelier right away.  I'll have to figure out a solution.  The upside is that I have a really cool accessory that sits in the window reflecting morning light and reminding me how much I love my friends and our time together.

Also this month, one of my most popular birthday cake designs.  This time for a Sweet 16.  Thanks to Gloria and Tony!

Until next time...confectionately yours!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bees and Blockheads

Hi all!
I have new projects to share!  The holidays were very busy - lots of creating going on with both sweets and decor - but I just couldn't seem to find time to blog about them.  Maybe I'll do a recap at the beginning of the 2014 holiday season to get you all in the spirit.

Here are 2 of several projects in the queue for this and the next couple of months.
First up is a baby shower cake with an adorable bee theme.  The sex of the baby is unknown, so the client asked for the cute "what will it bee" plaque to accompany the bee topper.  The color scheme was taken from the invitation and favor tag, shown here.

When Michelle showed me the favor and told me the color scheme, I immediately thought of a beautiful cake design that I have been admiring for several years.  It's by a bakery in Utah called One Sweet Slice whose designs are absolutely amazing.  Makes me want to move to Utah...seriously.  Each tier features a different technique, 2 at which I have been pining to try my hand.

The center tier of layered ruffles is all make of fondant and provides such beautiful texture.  It would be gorgeous on a wedding cake or feminine celebration cake in any favorite hue.  In this cake, I love the juxtaposition of the ruffles against the whimsy of the dots and modernity of the chevron.  It's a very time consuming process, but the effect is well worth it.

The bottom tier was the the most challenging, but most exciting to execute.  I used a new technique learned from Jessicakes called the wax paper transfer method.  After carefully measuring the pattern to fit the circumference of the cake, I cut each stripe and applied it to a sheet of waxed paper coated with shortening. The stripes were made with 50/50 fondant and modeling chocolate, which provides a good combination of stability and flexibility.  Once all 3 stripes were lined up properly, I coated them with a thin layer of shortening (to act as glue) and tilted the wax paper onto the side of the cake, gently pressing to adhere the stripes. This part took several hours as the cutting and lining of the stripes had to be exact.

I am in love with this design and am so grateful to Michelle for the opportunity to make it!

Also this week was a project for my own boys as they celebrated their 9th birthday.  We had 6 3rd grade boys in the house for a sleepover.   We must be crazy, right?  I hadn't planned on really doing much as they can pretty much entertain themselves, but I couldn't resist indulging them in their current Minecraft obsession. Pinterest provided great inspiration and I made all of the party elements with basic craft supplies.

The party kicked off with a Ghast pinata that I made from a 12 x 12 box and tissue paper.  If you don't know what a Ghast is, have a quick chat with a young boy and you will be enlightened.

I provided each guest with a Creeper (again, consult nearest 3rd grade boy) gift bags, in which to deposit pinata booty.  Simply cut electrical tape and applied to 3 for $1 bags.

Also in the favor department were these reversible masks - one side Creeper, one side Stevie.  Images printed from Google and glued to cut foam core with a jumbo popsicle stick as the handle.

For a movie time treat, TNT bundles made with Twizzlers and last but not least, birthday cupcakes with Minecraft icon toppers.  All created from fondant and modeling chocolate.

The boys were happy as clams and a good time was had by all.  Mom and Dad now need a drink and a nap.

Until next time...confectionately yours.