Food, Home, My house

Top Posts of 2012

As we come to the end of 2012, let’s take a look back at my top 5 posts of the year. Now, these aren’t my top posts but yours. The ones that you, my readers, have clicked on more than anything else.

#5

I Have a Hot Pink Chair!

a.k.a. The post where I tell you how I finally dyed a slipcover I already had, despite my debilitating fear of RIT dye, to make the hot pink chair of my dreams.

What I learned from this post making the top 5: You like hot pink as much as I do! And you like DIY projects, too.

chair 068

#4

Lily’s Rainbow Birthday Party

a.k.a. The post where I gave all the details of Lily’s colorful 4th birthday party.

What I learned from this post making the top 5: Good kid’s parties are appealing even if you don’t have kids. Or…”rainbow party” is a very powerful search term. Yeah, it’s probably that.

Rainbow-birthday-party-2

#3

Rainbow Cake: If I Can Make It You Can Too

a.k.a. The cake that’ll impress with one simple secret weapon (shhh…it’s food coloring).

What I learned from this post making the top 5: It seems like you really, really like rainbow cakes and rainbow parties but I know the truth of this post’s success. It’s the secret weapon in the pic below. Some of the top searches that brought you to Sue at Home are: Aqua Sky Kitchenaid Mixer, Kitchenaid Aqua Sky, Kitchenaid Stand Mixer Aqua Sky, Kitchenaid Aqua Sky Mixer…you get the point. Looking back at this picture, I can see how bad it is and I promise that I’ll write a nice big post all about my glorious mixer soon with lots of beautiful glamour shots! (FYI: I got mine from here.)

mixer

#2

DIY: Lengthening our Master Bedroom Curtains

a.k.a. How a trip to the tailor (don’t-think-I’m-fancy-it’s-just-my-dry-cleaner) helped me make cheap too-short curtains into floor-to-ceiling stunners.

What I learned from this post making the top 5: I get it, you really like DIY. I promise more in the new year.

curtain pinterest

#1

And the number one most-clicked on post was….

Pin of the Week: Dressing Up Your Stairs

a.k.a. The one where I talked about painting, carpeting, and just about anything to do with stairs.

What I learned from this post making the top 5: Who knew you were so obsessed with your stairs? The only search term that topped variations on the Kitchenaid Mixer search was “painted stairs”. I hope this post gave you lots of good inspiration. I’ve yet to do anything fun with my stairs but hopefully I’ll get on it soon.

girls on steps

So,  what can you expect from Sue at Home in 2013? I’m thinking more DIY, monthly posts about my mixer, and possibly a new feature… Stairs of the Week?

XO

Sue at Home

Family, Food

Rainbow Cake: If I Can Make it, You Can Too

I pretty much suck at cooking. Case in point, tonight’s dinner: I made pasta, a jar of Patsy’s tomato basil sauce and a package of Stony Brook Farm Turkey Meatballs. Yawn!

So it seems kind of silly for me to give cooking and baking advice. But, there are a few things I can make well. My main criteria for my cooking is that it has to be really easy with very little room for human error. And the bonus for you is that If I Can Make It, You Can Too. Hmmm…sounds like a new feature!

Remember a few weeks back when we celebrated Lily’s birthday with a rainbow themed party? And remember that I promised I’d give you the play-by-play of how I made the rainbow cake? No? Well, good. Cause I forgot too!

Let’s start by staring at my beautiful new Kitchenaid mixer in Aqua Sky. Ahhh…she’s lovely, isn’t she?

To make the 6 layer cake, I used three 8-inch diameter pans and made 2 box mixes of cake. You can use any kind you like. (Or knock yourself out with a homemade one. I just find that the box ones are pretty good so why bother with homemade?) I made one batch first and separated the batter into three bowls. I was very careful to make sure that I separated it evenly so the cakes would be the same size. Bowls from here.

I always use gel food coloring for cakes or frosting because I like the colors to be really bold. (If you want pastels, go ahead and use liquid coloring. It’s much easier to work with.) I kept the “color station” very methodical. Each color got its own knife so I didn’t mix them up and I was sure to put it on top of plenty of paper towels because that stuff can stain your counter tops! (Note, gel coloring is kind of disgusting looking but totally effective. If you’d prefer some more natural colors, well…you’re reading the wrong blog.)

I’ve learned that you need to add a lot of food coloring at first because you can’t add color, then mix, check the color, add more color, mix more, check the color again, add more color, mix more…well, you get the point. The problem with that is you’ll end up overmixing the cake batter and it gets thin. So, go bold the first time and don’t overmix!

Once the red, orange and yellow cakes were done baking, I let them cool while I washed and prepared the pans for the second patch.

Thankfully, my baking assistant came in to supervise round two.

After the cakes were baked and cooled, I wrapped them individually and put them in the fridge until I had a chance to frost them the next day.

When it was time for frosting, I whipped up a double batch of buttercream frosting. I’d love to share my top secret recipe but if I did I’d have to kill you. Kidding! I use the recipe on the side of the Domino powdered sugar box. It couldn’t be easier and it’s delicious. One by one, I frosted and kept adding layers. Some of the cakes were slightly angled so I used a serrated knife to slice a little off the top to even them out. An important tip I learned from the LHJ food team about frosting a cake: only use the back of the spatula.

 

 After it was frosted, I let Lily add some sprinkles to the top. I don’t have a cake plate, so I used an upside-down bowl to display it! But there was a tiny lip around the bottom of the bowl and I was totally out of frosting to hide it, so I used a cheap can of ready-to-use frosting to make those little dots around the base. Shhh…don’t tell anyone!

 I love that it’s so simple from the outside because when I cut it open, everyone Ohhh’d and Ahhhh’d!

But most importantly, Lily loved it! For all the other details of her rainbow party, like rainbow balloons, rainbow fruit salad, rainbow favors and rainbow manicures, click here.

 

Happy baking!

XO

Sue at Home

crafts, Family

L’s Rainbow Birthday Party

Today we celebrated L’s 4th Birthday with a Rainbow party. It was a very easy theme to carry through the party and all the kids had a blast.

We set the scene with invitations decorated by L. I used a rainbow invitation free printable from Making It Lovely (Thanks, Nicole!) and stuck them onto blank folded cards we found at Michael’s. L decorated the front of the invitations with rainbows.

We kept the decor simple – just some latex balloons in rainbow colors. (Update: Excuse the lack of shrubs in this pic. We were in between a shrub overhaul. Check out the “after” here.)

We served pizza, Goldfish (rainbow ones, of course!) and a pretty rainbow fruit salad. The girls loved helping me make it. When we were done, S said “Mom, you’re so good with food”. I couldn’t help but laugh! If you know me, you know that I am NOT good with food. But if washing a bunch of fruit and arranging it on a platter makes my kid think I’m Mario Batali, I’m okay with that.

Dessert was a little more complicated. I made a 6-layer, 8 inch tall rainbow cake.  Full disclosure: the cake itself was from a box mix, but I did make yummy homemade buttercream frosting.  The cake was time consuming but very easy. (I’ll give you the play by play in a separate post. UPDATE: Click here for the cake how to.) Thanks to my friend Tracy who took amazing pictures of the cake cutting. As the person who’s usually taking all the pictures, it’s nice to have someone else handle it. Thanks Tra! Want to be my official blog photographer?

You might notice in that picture that I even had a rainbow manicure! I only had the red and orange (which were both on the thumb nail) so we made a quick stop to CVS and  bought $10 worth of the cheapest yellow, green, blue and purple nailpolish I could find. Obviously, the girls went to “The Mommy Salon” and got rainbow manis too! (That’s what this cheapo mom calls it when I paint the kids nails at home in lieu of actually taking them out for manis or pedis.)

We even had a magic show, which all the kids LOVED! (If anyone in the North Jersey area needs a magician for a party, call Steve Woyce. How can you not trust a man in a gold sequin vest?) Lots of the kids participated in the show. And when L got dressed up in the cutest magician outfit ever, she made a real bunny appear! Who knew my kid had the magic touch? (And BTW, if she ever needs glasses, we’re totally going with the John Lennon / Harry Potter look. They totally suit her. Don’t you think?)

 This picture makes me think that S has a future as a magician’s assistant. A mom can dream.

All the kids got a chance to pet the bunny. And by “all the kids”, I mean “me too”.

For favors, we put together little boxes from Oriental Trading with notebooks from Michael’s, boxes of crayons, rainbow lollipops, and little bags of Skittles. (Taste the rainbow!) I magically (pun intended) scored a free $20 offer from Tinyprints which I used on a photo notebook for work and some rainbow labels. The labels (which said “FOR YOU with love from L”) were perfect for the outside of the favor boxes. I wish I could tell you why I got that offer or how you can get one. But signing up to receive email promotions from Tinyprints couldn’t hurt.

After days of saying to myself, “Why? WHY? Why do I throw parties at home and always bite off more than I can chew?”, I was really pleased with how it all came together. And most of all, L had a great time. Isn’t that all that matters?

I’ll end this post with a little Instagram love. I’ll admit, I’ve barely used it – I don’t get why every picture needs to be epic. (Sometimes having my pictures clear and normal colored is fine with me.) But I do think it’s fun to make a few arty pics like these. If you’re so inclined, feel free to follow me on Instagram at sueerneta.

XO

Sue at Home