Wednesday 21 March 2012

Decoupaged Springtime Eggs

It is now officially Spring.
I have chosen to ignore the foot of snow still outside my door and go ahead with the springish decorating!
For those of you who cringed at my Facebook status last is with joy I tell  you that yesterday I marched outside in complete desperation and yanked all the spruce and pine branches out of all the leftover Christmas decorating in our front yard. I just can't handle hanging a springy, flowery wreath on the front door with evergreen branches, skates and candles right next to the door. Snow or no snow.
Y'know what I mean?

Here is my official start.

Last year I noticed these eggs in a Pier 1 flyer, so I kept it tucked away all year since I knew it would provide some inspiration later on.

I've never really decoupaged anything before, but I thought I'd give it a try and see if I could come up with anything similar to their flowery eggs.

I found these bright, cheery napkins at the Dollar Store and thought they could be fun with their loud colors - a slightly unusual choice for me, but every now and then I like to live on the wild side. I also picked up a package of styrofoam eggs and set to work with my Mod Podge (matte) and a brush.

I really have no idea how to decoupage, so I tried lots of different methods before I found one I was happy with. That method was cutting an oval shaped piece out of the napkin with at least one or two flowers on the piece.

Then applying the Mod Podge to a small section of the egg...

...and then smoothing the piece of napkin down over the Mod Podge. I brushed along the edges to get it to lay down as flat as possible.

It's pretty sticky and the napkin would tear a bit if it got too wet, so I would let it dry in sections in an egg cup, and then continue applying pieces of napkin until it was totally covered. After everything had dried, I applied an all over coat of Mod Podge and then let it dry again.

And there you have it!
I found this little wooden wagon in a craft tote in the basement and thought it would make a cute little container for the eggs.

What spring/Easter decorating have you been up to lately?!
Are you still looking at snowy mounds out your window, or are you happily watching your tulips and daffodils push through the ground?!

spring fling party button kate

Feathered Nest Friday

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Weekend Bloggy Reading

The DIY Show Off

Tip Junkie handmade projects

I Heart Nap Time


To see the other great parties I'm linking up to, click HERE!

Wednesday 14 March 2012

The Art of the Swedish Sandwich {Cake}

I think I've mentioned a few times before that my father was born (and currently resides with my very adaptable Canadian mother) in Sweden. Whether he will admit it or not (and he probably won't), he raised us to be proud of our heritage!
I was a wee lil pesky thing when we lived there last (as a family), so my memories are somewhat dimmed, but that hasn't stopped my enthusiasm for learning more about the Swedish culture and...of course...their food. (Anyone who knows me, knows everything is about the food).

In my early twenties, I had the privilege of getting to know an amazing, and I do mean amazing, Swedish lady who also had a great passion for food. I quickly spotted an opportunity to learn from the best, so we would arrange days where I would drive out to her farm and do her hair (I was doing hair part time back in the day) and she would teach my how to cook and bake some really fabulous Swedish dishes. She has since passed on, but I often think back with fond memories of hours in her kitchen cooking away, and of course enjoying some delicious fika (coffee breaks)!

One of the first "lessons" I had, was on making Swedish sandwich cakes. Don't let that scare you...there is nothing "cakey" about it, other than the method of putting it together. They are truly a work of art...just like dessert cakes...and a great way to express yourself creatively.

This week, I invited a fellow Scandinavian mom and her kids over for lunch and a play date with my kids, so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to exercise my sandwich making muscles again.

These sandwich cakes make a fabulous lunch and taste delicious...and best of all, they are not hard to make!

(I apologize for the weird lighting...I was in a rush and didn't have the right settings on my camera)

First you will need bread of some sort. There are sooo many different ways to make these cakes that I don't want to limit your creativity by telling you what to use. However, when I make them, I generally will bake up a batch of white bread using all sorts of different pans depending on the amount of people I'm planning to feed. I have made bread in 9"x13" pans, round cake pans, 8"x8" pans, and the usual loaf shape. This time I chose to go with a regular loaf, but the concept of assembly is the same whatever shape of bread you decide to use.

Trim off all the crusts, until you have a nice rectangular block of soft, squishy, bready insides!

Slice the loaf lengthwise into three pieces.

Now you will fill each layer, just like you would when you're filling a cake with frosting. Yum.
I have used many different types of filling and they all taste good. This time I went with a tuna pate, which was delicious (recipe posted below), but I have also done a chicken salad and egg salad filling.

Now you "frost" the cake with mayonnaise.
Spread a thin layer over the top and sides until it's completely covered.

This will keep the bread from drying out (which also means you could do this step the day before if you're pressed for time).

Here comes the fun part where you can express yourself creatively!
I went with shrimp as a topping on this sandwich, but the sky is really the limit for what you can use to decorate with. Some suggestions are: radish roses, olives, hard boiled & sliced eggs, cheese slices rolled up (provolone works great for this), rolled meat slices, salami (especially cervelat), sliced cucumber, tomato wedges or grape tomatoes, dill and/or parsley. And if you're really adventurous...try the tubes of caviar paste you can find at IKEA (squeezed onto the sliced eggs)!
In this tutorial, I have used rather simple elements and it should give you a good basic idea of how to assemble the toppings (but don't let these pictures limit you).
First I mounded cooked, peeled shrimp in the middle and then placed a row of sliced mini cucumbers around the edge...

Next, I cut medium slices of cheddar cheese (we are in Canada after all), and then cut the slices into squares and then wedges. I inserted a cheese wedge between every second slice of cucumber.

Then I added some thin slices of lemon over the shrimp mound...

...and as a finishing touch, I added some sprigs of fresh dill (a quintessential Swedish ingredient).

Next, you will need a "ruffly" variety of lettuce. I can't remember what type I used here, but I'm guessing it was a basic green lettuce (not romaine). Cut a leaf of lettuce down to roughly the same height as your sandwich, and gently press the leaf into the mayonnaise. You may need to add more mayo as "glue", and you could use a toothpick or two, to secure it if your lettuce is particularly stubborn! (Mine definitely was, but I couldn't have a temper tantrum because my guest was right beside me watching!) Continue pressing lettuce leaves all the way around the sandwich sides until it's totally covered. Make sure the lettuce is perfectly dried after washing, as damp lettuce will give you grey hair!

And there you have it!
A lovely, delicious and cultural lunch. Or appetizer. Or just because it's soo good.


Here's the recipe for Tuna Pate that I used.
(Adapted from Company's Coming: Appetizers)

2 cans (7 oz.) flaked tuna
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Mix all ingredients together until smooth, using a blender or mixer.
Chill until ready to use.

By the way, I asked my mother-in-law for this recipe as she makes it into a ball (like a cheese ball) and rolls it in dried parsley flakes. It is completely amazing spread on crackers!! I gave my hubby a little taste when I made this and his eyes practically rolled back into his head. Soo yummy!
(And yes, I did double triple check the recipe to make sure it's correct!)

If you like it...


Feathered Nest Friday

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Weekend Bloggy Reading

The DIY Show Off

Tip Junkie handmade projects

I Heart Nap Time


To see the other great parties I'm linking up to, click HERE!

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Paint Colors...What To Choose...What To Choose...

Good morning, my friends!
Has Spring arrived in your part of the world yet? We were lucky enough to wake up to about two feet of snow outside this morning. Blah!

So I thought it was about time to bring you up to date on the progress in my mom cave/office/craft room.
The update? It's still a mess.
But slightly less of a mess than it was at the beginning of the year.
If you would peek your head into that room right now, you would see piles of things laying on the far end of the room, and then you would find the rest of the things piled everywhere in our guest room.
I keep praying no one will show up unannounced for the weekend until I can at least get the bed uncovered.
Tripping over a filing box (or twelve) in the middle of the floor is just the risk a potential guest will have to take, but I figure I should be kind enough to at least give them a bed to sleep in. I am so thoughtful, I know.

Anyhow...while it may not look like much progress has been made, there actually has been quite a bit. I've sorted through my piles of junk and now know what I will keep and what I won't. We have moved the armoire (WHY is that such a hard word to spell?!?! I have to google it every.single.time.) that was in the kitchen into this room and I now have all my fabrics lovingly folded, organized and stacked in there. I thought I had waaaay more fabric than I actually do, so now I totally see that as a reason to go out and buy more.
And the closet has been completely cleared in no shelves, rods or anything. 

Now the room sits and waits. Waits for what you ask? 
Well I'll tell you. It waits for my to make up my stinkin mind about paint colors!! 
I can't quite figure out why this is such a challenge this time. Typically, I know exactly what color route I want to head down and it doesn't take too long to find what I have in mind. 
This time? Noooo. I think it's because the room is mine, all mine. And I'm scared of messing it up. 

First I thought I wanted to go along the burlapy, suedey line.

I love that this palette is called Mental Vacation!

But then I realized that it just didn't sit right. After all...I'm knocking myself out trying to get rid of all the brown tones in this house. Why would I purposely go and add more?
(No offense to those who love just doesn't work in this house.)

Then I came across this lovely palette of colors.

A bit of a departure, isn't it?
I was completely in love with this one and had 100% settled on it, in my mind.
Until I remembered that I had used a palette very similar to this in a washroom about 14 years ago.
Now, I know this is don't have to tell me...but I generally don't like to repeat myself. If I've done it once, I don't want to do it again, especially when it comes to decorating.

Sooo...back to the drawing go.

I love the relaxing smoky blues of this palette.

The touch of lavender in this palette makes my heart go pitter patter.
I didn't think I was a fan of grey and lavender together, but apparently I am becoming one.

Again, more smoky greys and purples with a touch of sage.
Totally loving on it.
(Do people still refer to these colors as lavender and sage or is that "soooo ten years ago"?? Inquiring minds would like to know.)

I can't quite decide on this one. One day I like the girly hues and the next I find them just too pink.
I think in the end - at least for today - I am going back and forth between "Mountain Air" and "Succulent Tones", even if I have already "been there, done that".
If it were your room...what would you pick? What color palette inspires and relaxes you at the same time?
If you're on the hunt for some colors yourself, have you checked out Design Seeds?
If not, then you really must. There is so much inspiration and beauty to be found there and you never know... you might even find yourself looking at some colors and shades you hadn't previously considered!
Till next time!
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