Wednesday, December 24, 2014

DIY Cake Stencil Out of Stuff You Have Sitting around Your House!

Cake stencils are a really intricate, professional-looking way to decorate your confections quickly and simply. This tutorial is going to teach you how to design and make homemade cake stencils out of stuff you have lying around your house! Getting rid of junk AND beautiful dessert? Win-win ;)

What is a cake stencil? 
They're a perforated piece of plastic that you use as a template to paint/sprinkle a design onto your cake. They can get super intricate!

Picture courtesy of Baking Pleasures
I usually put mine on top of the cake and then sprinkle some sort of powder--like sugar or chocolate--over it, leaving a really beautiful design on the cake!

Design in powdered sugar
Design in Cinnamon
Here's how you do it!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Celebration time! Chocolate Hazelnut Torte, here I come!

I took my last final two days ago...I finished my last college app's winter break and I have no more essays to write...

I am now OFFICIALLY a second-semester senior!!!


Time to cook and sew to my heart's content!!!

Yesterday I was so intoxicated by my newfound freedom to do whatever I wanted (as opposed to studying and writing essays bleagh) that when Serious Eats emailed me a recipe for a chocolate-chestnut torte, I was like LET'S GO FOR IT!

I actually ended up adapting a hazelnut-chocolate torte recipe instead, because I like hazelnuts better and I didn't have any chestnuts. Unfortunately, I didn't have any eggs either, which I was so excited to get started that I didn't realize until halfway through making the confection, which led to me running down the street in my slippers to borrow eggs from my angelic neighbor. Thank you Edye!!! I also accidentally added double the sugar I was supposed to at the beginning, so I had to make a batch of cookies instead and start the cake over (you can't let butter and sugar go to waste!). Not my smoothest dessert, clearly. Cut me a break. I'm still getting back in the groove ;)

But eventually all the right ingredients ended up in the mixer together. I think the cake came together quite nicely, don't you?

I decorated the top with powdered sugar using a homemade cake stencil. Within a few days I'll post a tutorial about how to make your own reusable cake stencil from stuff you probably have lying around your house! If you're reading this thinking, "Less art, more eating!", a liberal dusting of powdered sugar would, I'm sure, look just as inviting plus have the added advantage of covering in all the bald spots. Or you could just cut to the chase and slather the thing with Nutella ;)

The cake turned out to be pretty good! It was moist and fudgy and tasted like Nutella. Here's the recipe!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Fuzzy Red Fur (aka my Sesame Street coat)

Hi everyone! 

I feel like a salutation is  needed because (to my shame) I've fallen behind on my posting! (Though I did make pumpkin pie and pecan pie for Thanksgiving, which I've already blogged about so you can check out those awesome recipes!)

As soon as Thanksgiving is over, it's Christmastime in the Newman household. It really felt like Christmas yesterday when I was headed outside to go take pictures for my blog, and found that it was raining! In Southern California! Who, if you're not aware, is in the middle of a really serious drought! As luck had it, it kept raining nearly all day...

So I just stayed inside and took pictures next to my Christmas Tree!
I've been so busy lately with school and college apps and Mock Trial that I have had no time to sew. But I am acutely aware of abandoning, forsaking, and washing up my readers, so I decided to do a retrospective post on a coat I made a couple years back. 

I like to say that this coat makes me look like a red marshmallow!
 This coat is actually one of my very first sewing projects!!! This is the second real garment I created. As a fully-lined fur coat with a lapel and everything, it was quite a learning curve.

Thankfully, I had my mom to help me with the construction of the garment and even the reading of the pattern (reading patterns can be confusing until you get the hang of it!). 

I knew I had to make a coat as soon as I saw this fabric. I bought it from Chic Fabrics in New York. A huge roll of it was hidden in the back of the store, jammed in among a bunch of not-quite-as-fantastic textiles. It looked like it could have fit right in on Sesame Street. 

Image courtesy of
It's bright red alpaca fur that I got for--get this--$10/yard. For 60-inch fabric. :O I bought 3 yards to make a coat! 

I rifled through my mom's quite extensive pattern stash looking for an appropriate design. Ultimately I was caught between two options: View C of Vogue V8465, and View C of McCall's M5766. I guess I was subconsciously attracted to art that matched my bright red fabric! 


I ended up (I have no idea why) choosing the McCall's pattern. Which ended up being a good choice, because I used the Vogue pattern minus the sleeves to make myself a dress

Here's the link to the pattern!
This pattern has a lapel, and is closed by a single button and loop on the left breast. It has lots of pleats in the skirt to create some volume. The version that I chose also has some really unique, awesome sleeves that are divided into two parts--a normal, straight segment above the elbow, and then a second balloon-like part from the elbow down, with large pleats at the elbow and the fullness gathered into a tight armband at the wrist. 

Don't you love those sleeves? 

I lined the coat with some horrible, ugly, plastic-y, polyester black lining that was sitting around my mom's stash. If I had to make the coat again, I would definitely find some better-quality lining. It's not worth spending all the time and materials making a really nice coat and then use poor lining for the inside! 

Here's the (one) button I used! 
Finally, later on in the day, I snatched a few seconds when the rain subsided to a slight drizzle to go outside and take some more pictures in better light. 

So, in consideration of the fact that there's a debate going on regarding if sewing actually saves you money, I'm going to observe that this coat--including fabric, lining, buttons, thread, the pattern etc--cost me no more than $50. 

Try to find a custom-fit bright red fully-lined awesomely-buttoned alpaca-fur coat like this anywhere in a department store for less than 50 bucks! 

Plus, after three years with this coat, I can sincerely say that I love wearing it! It's fluffy and fun and excellently made. I intend to wear it all winter! 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Trick or Treat? Well, peanut butter chocolates, to be specific


It's the day before Halloween, and I am preparing accordingly.

Usually, holidays mean dessert. Halloween is a slight exception; Halloween means candy. Which means, I'm off the hook!

I have never seen a more excited jack-o'-lantern in my life!
picture courtesy of
I confess: I am a sucker for Reese's peanut butter cups.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
But around Halloween, you start seeing a deviation from your traditional round, notched peanut-filled candies. The Reese's marketing team starts doing backflips trying to give you even more reasons to buy candy on Halloween. They start producing things like 

This pumpkin-shaped Reese's! --Or: 

picture courtesy of
A Reese's with a pumpkin on it! 

My response? 


Friday, October 24, 2014

3 Reasons I Bake Bran Muffins!

Three Reasons Bran Muffins are Healthy

1. Apparently flaxseed is so good for you, that had my muffins existed approximately 600 years ago, it would have been illegal not to eat them!

Haha I'm not even kidding! I found this on like three different sites! And they're not even all flaxseed vendors!

This is like the opposite of banning large drinks in New York...
Apparently, as if by divine inspiration, Frankish emperor Charlemagne predicted the health benefits of flaxseed and required it consumed by all his subjects!. If you don't believe Charlie, WebMD also agrees.

(original) image courtesy of
2. They're NOT cookies!

Image courtesy of
You'll have to decide for yourself if that's a plus or a minus.

3. Bran muffins = sleep. 

Portable bran muffins --> I can eat breakfast in the car or at school instead of at home --> I can wake up later --> MORE SLEEP!
Image courtesy of
Those reasons sound good enough for me! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Maybe actually my favorite dress so seriously.

I have to admit, every year I look forward to Homecoming: not because I'm a football fanatic, nor because I like wearing silly hats to school during Spirit Week (though I do)--but because it's the perfect excuse to make the most beautiful, exquisite, fancy, outstanding dress that it is within my capabilities to pull together. 

I am at the point where I have so many self-sewn dresses that if I was going to spend time making another semi-formal dress, I wanted it to be, not only stunning, but notably different.

The cutouts on this dress are perfectly positioned so you can see my really flattering bikini tan from the summer. Haha ;)
I was almost giving up hope of finding an exceptionally flooring pattern when I came across this

Marfy 2323
I'm not sure what makes this design so arresting. I think it's the contrast of the geometric tightness of the top, with the angular straps, eye-catching diamonds, and central gathering, with the ethereal looseness of the skirt. I think it's gorgeous. 

Furthermore, there's little doubting that this is a unique design. Have you ever seen a neckline like that before? Or a slit that's not actually a slit? 

For those of you that are unfamiliar with Marfy, their patterns are expert-level, which basically means they come without seam allowances, or lining pieces, or, oh, instructions. When you order a Marfy pattern, you are pretty much ordering the geometric pattern pieces, and it's up to you to put them together. 

And I had never put together a Marfy pattern before.

Guess what that means?