Monthly Archives: March 2013

SeeKarenFollow: This Week

Maybe these posts should be sub-titled ‘What I Do When I’m Not Blogging’, since I seem to be on Instagram all the time lately.

I started the week with some thrift store and antique mall shopping.  Every time I look at the shot of this brass trunk, I want to jump in my car and go buy it.  Sigh.

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I’m not going to buy this baby, though.  I’m going to hack it and put it in my kitchen.  I think it will be a pretty easy project, and I get to use power tools.  Bonus.

There were also a few pictures of furniture made from wagon wheels.  I share these for my husband, because we have a running joke about wagon wheels a la When Harry Met Sally.  We even have a wagon wheel, which I will make into a table.  Someday.

This is a my Goodwill haul.  I am Madison Avenue’s dream, because marketing TOTALLY works on me.  Example: I buy more at Goodwill to get the discount with my rewards card.  But this $50 worth of junk will give me hours of joy.

Play along: Do you see the bunny in the picture above?

I ate all of this Aussie Burger: lettuce, onion, pickled beets, grilled pineapple, local fried egg, Smoking Goose bacon, ketchup and mayo.  And then I had a tummy ached from eating the bun.  Dear Punch Burger, will you still serve me if I B.Y.O.B. (bring my own bun)?

I made Cocoa Puff muffins to celebrate my boss’ birthday.  But he took an unannounced vacation day, so we ate them in his honor.  In front of his closed office door.  What?

Speaking of work, I have my own little plant nursery going on in my cubicle.  I didn’t think I would have much success with the little forget-me-not seeds that I received during the 14 Days of Valentines, but those little suckers are GROWING under the flourescent lights.  Good thing something flourishes there.

Last week I watched Contagion for the first time.  I know.  I’m a little behind.  But now I think of Dr. Ian Sussman every time I write a post.  “Blogging is not writing; it’s graffiti with punctuation.”  That’s me alright.

Now on to what I am pinning this week.

  1. 29 Rue House is inspiring me to pimp my own spider-back chair.
  2. Man…now I have to add vintage light globes to my list of things to hunt for in thrift shops.
  3. I absolutely need a couple of these granny square pillows in my life.
  4. I’m always looking for a way to dress up a t-shirt and wear it to work.  Now I just need to decided on which one I will add leather shoulder trim.
  5. I’m a little scared, because I haven’t had the best luck in the past, but I may try making some jewelry this weekend.  This chevron necklace inspires me.
  6. I love bubble tea, and it’s not easy to find in Indy.  Maybe I need to make my own and add this coffee version to the mix.
  7. Poaching an egg in olive oil?  Love it!
  8. This cookie stamping technique is giving me soooo many ideas.
  9. Cross-stitch?  Yes.  Foxes?  Yes!  I’m so excited about the faux-stitch pattern on these bags.
  10. You may find me on the couch this Sunday night watching The Ten Commandments and crafting these plastic lace woven hangers.  Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner just do it for me, what can I say?

Here’s wishing you all a happy, sunny, blessed Easter weekend!


The Spring Forward Martini

“This tastes like a summery drink,” said my husband.

“What?” I replied.  “It’s totally Spring.  Grapefruits aren’t even in season in the summer.  Strawberries are best in the Spring.  I guess basil is Summer, but I can get past that.”

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closer #seekarendrink #blog #annumography

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“Besides, it’s the perfect pink for Easter.”

This martini was inspired by the Sage Recipes’ Grapefruit and Basil Martini and the early Easter that we are celebrating.  Since Spring began just over a week ago, and many of us have been seeing more snow and chilly temps than rainbows and tree buds, this cocktail will help put a little spring into you step.  It looks pretty.  With two ounces of vodka, though, it’s no lightweight cocktail.

The Spring Forward Martini 

5 large basil leaves
1/2 c. strawberries, sliced
1/4 t. raw agave syrup
1 pink grapefruit, juiced (about 1/2 c.)
2 oz. vodka

Muddle the basil leaves, strawberries and agave in a cocktail shaker.  Fill shaker halfway with ice.  Add grapefruit juice and vodka.  Cover and shake.  Strain the cocktail into a chilled martini glass.

Copycat Roselyn Spumoni Whip Cream Cake

No matter how many years go by after the closing of a local favorite, Roselyn Bakeries, Spring will always bring to my mind their Spumone Whip Cream Cake.  Roselyn closed in 1999, and though we Indy folks can still get some baked goods made from their recipes at Kroger, favorites like this cake are long gone.  Oh how I miss the Jelly Pop doughnuts, the Toffee Chip and the Smiley Face cookies, and the Chocolate Eclairs.  Heck, I miss the fake brick wall, the long glass cases filled with pastries, and the seemingly grandmotherly ladies who always worked behind those cases.  And the smells….

My mother’s birthday is St. Patrick’s Day.  For many of her birthday’s past, my grandparent’s (her parents) would buy a Spumone Cake for her birthday.  (By the way, that’s not my spelling mistake.  It’s how Roselyn named the cake.)  We all loved the green, pink, white, and chocolate layers surrounded by cherry whip cream.

Since it’s been close to 15 years since we had this yummy cake, I thought I would surprise her with my own version of the cake.  I am fortunate to have one of the Roselyn Cookbooks.  The recipes aren’t the easiest to follow.  In fact, they remind me of a recipe you get from someone’s grandmother at a church potluck dinner.  But with a little baking experience and the ability to make substitutions when a direction in the recipe doesn’t sound quite right, I have had good luck with several recipes.

For this cake, I decided to use boxed mixes instead of following the directions to make the cakes from scratch.  I have had good luck with boxed mixes, since I don’t keep flour and sugar in my pantry any more.  This also allowed me the opportunity to make the green layer actually taste like pistachio.  Did you know that Roselyn’s was just a white cake with green food coloring?

The whip cream frosting is Roselyn’s exact recipe.  I don’t think I used enough to frost my cake, because I had a ton leftover.  And frosting cakes isn’t my greatest strength.  Neither is putting graham cracker crumbs on the side of a four-layer cake covered in whip cream frosting.  See what I’m learning about myself?

I also changed the spelling.  I just couldn’t take it, though both spellings are correct.

The good news is that when my mom first saw the cake, her reaction was “Is that…?  Did you…?  Is that a Spumoni Cake?”  Yay! My frosting skills weren’t so bad after all — meaning it was still somewhat recognizable.  And the taste?  I’m proud to say that it tasted like Spring.

I hope you are encouraged to make this simplified version from my favorite childhood bakery. The pastel colors would be awesome at the Easter table.  But I know that my family will be making this cake again and again.  Enjoy!

If you are visiting from The Vintage Farmhouse, welcome!  I love comments, visitors, and followers.  You can also find me on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

Roselyn Spumoni Whip Cream Cake

1 box each of chocolate and strawberry cake mix
2 boxes of white cake mix
egg whites
vegetable oil
1 t. strawberry all-fruit spread
1 3 oz. box of pistachio pudding mix
½ t. lemon extract

Whip Cream Frosting:
5 c. heavy cream
½ c. 100% fruit cherry jam
12 drops red food coloring
1 cup powdered sugar

1 c. crushed graham cracker crumbs

Prepare the chocolate cake according to the package directions for two 9-inch round cakes, substituting butter for the oil and buttermilk for the water called for in the ingredients.

Prepare one white cake according to the package directions for two 9-inch round cakes, using the egg whites and vegetable oil called for in the ingredients.

Prepare the strawberry cake according to the package directions for two 9-inch round cakes, substituting butter for the oil and buttermilk for the water called for in the ingredients and adding the strawberry fruit spread.

Prepare the second white cake mix according to the package directions for two 9-inch round cakes, using the egg whites and vegetable oil called for in the ingredients and adding the pistachio pudding mix.

Once cakes have baked, cool them on a wire rack.  Wrap one layer of each cake in plastic wrap and then place in freezer bags for future use.  Trim the tops from the remaining cake layers so that they are flat and even on top and so that the layers are approximately the same height.

To make the whip cream frosting, place chilled heavy cream into a bowl and whip until it reaches a full peak.  Add the cherry jam slowly, so that it does not lose its peak.  Next add the powdered sugar slowly and fold in until completely mixed.  Add food coloring and blend until just fully incorporated.

To frost the cake, place layers in order (chocolate on bottom, then white, then strawberry, then pistachio), making sure to spread equal amounts of whip cream in between each layer.  Next frost the outside and top of the cake.  Place the crushed graham crackers around the outside of the cake.  Keep refrigerated until served.

Makes 10-12 large slices.

Tutorial: Potted Easter Egg Vases

Are you searching for quick and easy centerpiece idea for Easter?  These potted Easter egg vases are so easy, I’m a little embarrassed to call this post a tutorial.  But I love them so much, I just have to share.

Years ago I dog-eared this egg cup floral arrangement in my Martha Stewart Living magazine, but I never took the time to actually carry out this idea myself.  Lately, I’ve seen at least a dozen versions of the egg vases on blogs.  I was again inspired to get moving on my own project.  One of my recent favorites is from LIttle Inspiration.  Then I remembered these gold-leafed terracotta pots from The Hunted Interior, and I knew that I wanted to substitute pots for Martha’s egg cups.  (Explaining the random food shot in a craft post.)

Okay, so down to the business of how I did it.  Using a sharp-tipped knife, I carefully poked a hole in the top of six eggs.  If the resulting hole wasn’t large enough for the egg to pass through, I made it a little larger while being careful not to remove too much shell.  Some of the yolks broke in the process, but that’s okay.  I scrambled them in these creamed eggs over the weekend.

After removing the eggs, I rinsed out the eggshells with very hot water.  Then I repeated the rinsing, allowing the eggshells to drain overnight.

I may have been a little giddy with a reason to buy these lovely Martha Stewart Pearl & Metallic paints.  And to use my 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby.  Once home, I picked out my six favorite colors…this was maybe the most difficult part of the project…and began to paint.  I am proud of myself for ‘upcycling’ a used egg crate for my paint tray.  My drop cloth was the calendar art I removed from the yard sale frames for this project.

Instead of gold-leafing the rims of my terracotta pots, I used the yellow-gold paint on all but two of the pots.  With all the color going on in the arrangement, I decided to leave the eggs their natural color.  But I thought it would be fun to paint two eggshells the same gold and provide contrast against the two unpainted terracotta rims.  The difference is subtle, but I like it.  When the pots were dry, I added moss to each and placed the eggshells inside.

Next I began to add the flowers.  These were from a bunch that my husband surprised me with last week.  See what I mean about all the color?

No, stems this color do not occur in nature, but they put a smile on my face.  And it wouldn’t be Easter if we weren’t plastering pastels on everything that didn’t move for a hot second.

After I added all the flowers, I realized that I forgot to add water.  Do not do as I do; do as I say.  Add the water first, then the flowers.  But aren’t they cute?

Here’s the beauty profile shot again.  So much pretty for so little effort.

Gluten-Free Cadbury Mini Egg Cookie Bars and Easter Decorating (Some Admittedly Tacky)

Easter comes so quickly after St. Patrick’s Day this year, that I’m finding it a little difficult to switch gears.  To help me get in the mood, I made these Cadbury Mini Egg Cookie Bars.  They are super easy and gluten-free.  The recipe, inspired by You Gotta Have a Hobby, is at the end of this post.

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Easter @ Fiserv

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If you follow me on Instagram, then you may know that I covered my cubicles walls at work with four-leaf clovers.  I kept them up for days after St. Patrick’s, because they made me so happy.  Now, thanks to the Dollar Tree, these flower streamers have taken their place.  Yes, I did mention that this is my cubicle AT WORK.

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As you may have noticed, I am a collector.  I am slowly acquiring a collection of glass rabbit candy dishes.  Slowly, because I am pretty picky about which ones I will buy…and they always end up being the more expensive ones.  So far this is my collection of two.  Doesn’t it look bare (i.e. enable me to buy more)?

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The Last Supper Chalkware

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I found this chalkware Last Supper at an antique mall about four years ago.  I’ve never seen another like it, and I absolutely adore it.  My husband is less of a fan, but he tolerates it on the mantel each Easter season.  (For a while I was keeping it out year-round.)

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2013 bunny from my honey

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Speaking of my hubby, he bought me this ceramic rabbit candy dish a couple of weeks ago when I was feeling blue.  This weekend I bought the rabbit a ceramic cabbage dish.  He looked hungry.  The rabbit, not my husband.

And speaking of hungry, this is my first time ever using a box mix to make cookies.  Since I am also new to gluten-free baking, I hoped this would be a quick, easy way to make cookies when I am craving them.  And I was absolutely craving them after seeing You Gotta Have a Hobby’s tempting version.  If you want to make your cookies from scratch and/or you don’t want/need them to be gluten-free, then head over to see Michelle.

This cookie dough does not look like your typical cookie dough.  The box states that it will be crumbly, and it is.  I’m not sure how well these would do as drop cookies, but making them as bars worked perfectly.  Also note that the bars will be gooey in the middle when you first take them out of the oven.  They firm up as they cool.  Watching for the edges to brown is your best test for when the cookies are done.  In my opinion, these are best served slightly warm.

Did you know that I only like chocolate chip cookies on the day they are baked?  True story.

Cadbury Mini Egg Cookie Bars

1 box Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 t. gluten-free vanilla
1 egg
1 cup Cadbury Mini Eggs, slightly crushed

Heat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.  Grease 8×8-inch square baking pan and set aside.

Mix together butter, vanilla, and egg at low speed.  Add cookie mix and stir at low speed until soft dough forms (dough will be crumbly).  Add Cadbury mini eggs.  Spread dough in prepared pan.  Bake for 21-23 minutes or until edges are golden brown (the center will be soft).  Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.  Cool at least 5-8 minutes before cutting.

Tutorial: “Paint-Dipped” Basket

It’s no secret that I’m a Target super-fan.  You can find me shopping at a Target store 2-3 times a week…no exaggeration.  On the last few trips, I have been tempted to buy one of these paint-dipped baskets.

Target Threshold Rope Basket

One of the baskets in the store is rectangular-shaped, and the paint is on the bottom of the basket.  And it’s coral.  Love!  (I couldn’t find it online, sorry.)  I’ve seen a few bloggers hack the paint-dipped basket lately.  So instead of buying one, or three, of these lovelies at Target, I decided to make my own.

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81/365 cape #365project #dogstagram

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I haven’t been doing as many crafty projects around the house for the last week and a half, because of this little guy.  He had a lipoma (fatty tumor) removed from his bicep, and so he has been confined to the cone of shame since his surgery.  I tell him that it’s his superhero cape, so as not to bruise his Napoleon-esque ego.

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my brave little boy

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Anyway, Buddy has also been on-lead for the duration of his recovery.  He has been a champ throughout the entire ordeal.  (Ahem, the vet did give us a little extra pain medication to help keep him calm.)  To best describe Buddy’s personality, I would ask you to think of Chester the Terrier from Looney Tunes.  Are you remembering the hyper, bouncing, cute-but-a-little-annoying-all-at-the-same-time small dog?  That’s my Buddy.

This girl has also been extremely patient during Buddy’s recovery.  While Greta isn’t exactly a Spike, she is the calmer dog by comparison.  And she is COMPLETELY accustomed to being the center of attention.  I think she knows, though, that Buddy needs more attention.  So she is content to make space for him…as long as she gets her morning walk.

Maybe I’m the least patient of the bunch.  Because once I get an idea to begin a project, I want to start right now.  So I decided to give Buddy a pacifier rawhide chew, wrap his lease around my wrist, and get painting.  No problem, right?

There was no need to purchase a basket for this project.  I had more than a couple around the house that qualified as good candidates.  To start, I decided to paint the basket that we use as a toy box for the dogs.

And why is it that they are so good at taking the toys out, and putting them back…not so much?  Or maybe it’s just that they disagree about where the toys should be stored.  Buddy, with his somewhat compulsive herding tendencies, will take all the toys he likes and neatly place them on the rug in the foyer.  Nevermind that these toys end up tripping any human that enters the house.  One of Greta’s favorite games is to take the upstairs toys (those that are safer to play with when we are not at home) and carry them downstairs.  She doesn’t necessarily play with them downstairs.  It’s just the moving them that is fun.

Anyway…there was also no need to buy any paint for the project.  I have a considerable paint stash, and I remembered having both orange and green paints that would look great against the natural fibers of the basket.

I did mention a considerable paint stash, right?

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stir, stir, stir that gloppy old paint

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The bummer is that I did not find the green paint that I remembered.  And, of course, I decided that it was the color I most wanted to use during my search.  Sigh.

With the lyrics of You Can’t Always Get What You Want playing in my head (or I may have been singing out loud), I carried the paint can upstairs.  The color is Valspar’s La Fonda Sombrero from a few years back.  It is leftover paint from the wall treatment that I did in our living room.  When I first opened the can, the paint had completely separated.  I stirred, and stirred, and stirred, and stirred some more.  Eventually it went from the gloppy mess you see here to smooth, evenly pigmented paint.

Keeping a small amount of paint on my 1-inch angle brush, I slowly began painting the basket.  I did not need to tape it off, because the wide rush of the basket made it easy to follow.  I’m also not saying that I didn’t make a mistake or two.  But they are so small, it would be difficult for anyone to find them.  Besides, it’s a basket that sits on the floor and is filled with dog toys.  Not worth worrying about.  Especially with a dog tied to one arm chewing a rawhide underfoot.

I did not paint the inside or the bottom of the basket.  This one will always be (I hope) filled with toys.  If I were using it as a serving basket, like the ones from Target, then I would paint the inside and bottom to make it look more “paint-dipped”.

I am pleased with the results of this no-cost project.  The contrast isn’t as high as that lovely Target basket, but I’m going to live with it for a little while before making any changes.  See the peek of wall color in the background?

And notice that green stripe on the carpet in front of the basket?  It makes me determined to get my green painted basket.  I bought the chartreuse paint yesterday.

SeeKarenFollow: This Week

Because I haven’t been blogging every day, but I usually do a pretty good job of keeping up with the 365 Project on Instagram, I thought it might be a good idea to feature some of my more random photos each week.  Introducing the inaugural SeeKarenFollow post.

Local corned beef from Goose the Market, colcannon, and roasted cabbage with parsnips, carrots, and onions served up on my great-grandmother’s Haviland china.  I also made my favorite cake in the whole world.  Post coming soon!

That leftover corned beef was just as awesome in a bibb lettuce salad with swiss cheese, grape tomatoes, my pickles, and Annie’s Cowboy Ranch dressing.

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79/365 scarf #365project

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I swear I wore this outfit in 1989, right?  The scarf is one of my many impulse purchases at the Springtime in Indiana Showcase last weekend.  I met some wonderful artisans and vendors, and I hope to feature a couple here in the coming weeks.

Then today I made this Mountain Dew cake with Mountain Dew buttercream for a co-worker.  He is a BIG fan of…you guessed it, Mountain Dew.  It may not be a do-over, but it was fun to make and to eat.

Ooh!  And speaking of making things, do you want to see what I am pinning this week?

  1. It’s a shame that I’ve never had a kumquat, but I want to.  In this Kumquat Lemongrass Rum Punch.  Please.
  2. I’m afraid that I may eat the whole batch of Sweet & Salty Banana Chips.
  3. My unhappiness with the Muthuh Nay Nay has been voiced.  More than once.  But if the cold is an excuse to have this Smoked Chorizo and White Bean Soup, then maybe I can feel better about the whole thing.
  4. I love a good crockpot recipe.  But cilantro and lime?  Yes, please, Cilantro-Lime Crockpot Chicken.
  5. Here we go again with the cilantro.  Add beets, garlic, avocado, and pickled onions, and my eyes roll back in to my head with pleasure: Roasted Beets with Roasted Garlic Avocado Puree, Pickled Onions, & Cilantro.
  6. I want to make these Mini Malted Milk Cheesecakes with Whoppers.  And with malted Easter eggs.  And….
  7. I love brownies.  I love brownie pie.  But Paleo Brownie Pie?  Perfect!
  8. I’ve been loving the eggshell vases in egg cups for a while now.  These Eggshell Vases are clever, because they include their own little stand made from PVC pipe.
  9. These Pom Pom Flowers would make me smile every single time I saw them.
  10. More pom poms.  More Easter eggs in egg cups.  What can I say?  I know what I like, and I like these tiny Egg Stocking Hats.

Have a great weekend!