Saturday, 27 April 2013

Fun(d) Fair SUCCESS!

What an amazing day!

We have just returned home, exhausted but super happy as the Fun(d) Fair we organised with our church youth group is over... and was a huge success!!!

I for SURE have caught the sun, that is - I am pink and freckly (not tanned!).  Weather-wise, we had the best day of the year in Toronto so far, with beautiful hot sun and around 19°!  Pretty amazing... and lucky, because we did not want umbrellas and rain for our outdoor planned event.

So for our Fun(d) Fair we had a yard sale, bake sale, games, cotton candy and face painting!  It was all SO fun and everybody worked so hard and also so well together!  Yey!

The yard sale had an incredible amount of donations from church members, youth group families and members of the public who wanted to donate a few boxes!  We rented a super cute cotton candy machine, and also had our talented arty youth group members doing the face painting, and tattoos for the kids.  We had a LOT of fun with a few different games; pick a stick, water balloon toss and guess how many jellybeans in a jar!  For our bake sale, we just asked if anyone who felt like baking for us could bring along things to sell... we had some beautifully packaged butter tarts, biscotti and cookies, and also some of the traditional Estonian 'saiad', amazing almond pastries and then of course cupcakes and other fun baking :-)  Late last night I baked some mini cupcakes and did various colourful toppings and decorations.

The best part was how well it all went!  We had such a great day... This was the first year we had tried this event and worked hard (really hard!) to make sure all of the details worked and that everything was organised... and it was a success! Phew!  We had a lot of fun, altogether, in the sunshine - joining not only our church community but also the local neighbourhood - we had a few kids who just could NOT stop playing the games - they had a lot of fun!

And the best part... it was all for charity!  For the last few years, around this time of year FOJ (our youth group) had done the 30-hour famine in aid of World Vision.  Challenging and also fun, being together fasting and learning about the charity and why we were doing it... but this year we wanted a change.  And we went big!  But for sure we'll be doing it again next year :-)

We are so proud to have raised $1200.50... And this was just the first year.  Hopefully we will get even more visitors next year, more yard sale donations, more baking and even more fun!!

Here are a few pictures of the event... Let me know if you want any more info on the games and how we put it all together.  I will write more about it soon, but for now - it is time for dinner and then rest!  A crazy crazy April is done! Now to enjoy the start of this sunny weather R

The night before, planning and sorting!
Water balloons ready to go...
There were many many many that popped before we got a bucket full!
Pick-a-stick game all stuck in the sand :-)
The morning of!  Yard Sale being set up and all laid out.
Posters and banners on display...
A couple of "former" youth group members helping us out!
Tall people and banners!
YUM!  Bake sale goodies making their way outside.
The shopping begins... 
Fire Escape doing double duty, clothes rail for a day!
Well this water balloon toss didn't win the hamper or
Toronto Maple Leafs mini stick set, that's for sure!
SO CUTE!  I love the cotton candy machine we rented :-D

And a few of the cakes I made for the Bake Sale...
Pre-Baking the night before...
Mini vanilla cupcakes later to be topped with water icing and sprinkles
Baking done... colourful and cheerful :-)
Cherries... Chocolate sprinkles and blue black and white for the Estonian flag!!
My favourites, little sprinkles...big sprinkles!!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

* Small and Sweet * Almond and Orange Mini Cupcakes

Well life is a little crazy right now with a lot of work stuff on the go, a lot of extra-curricular life activities and some big crafty projects half finished so for that reason I am posting a * small and sweet * blog post today, something from earlier this year that hasn't been written up yet... until now!  The other sewing projects and crafts will have to wait until another day, although I am SUPER excited about how they are going and how they will turn out... we'll just have to give it a few more weeks before they can be made public :-)  Watch this space!

So for today, here are my mini almond and orange cupcakes.  They were made for a couple of reasons - it was my snack night at choir, and also my mother-in-law's birthday, so although I wasn't joining them for dinner due to my choir rehearsal I did send a few their way!  Whenever it is snack night at choir I love having the chance to bake and to try something new.

This time I wanted to a) make mini cupcakes, b) try a new flavour and c) make them less from a recipe, more from my own creation/experimenting!

I came up with a basic spongey cupcake, which included almond flour, and flaked almonds in, and then, with a glaze to make it juicier I thought orange would pair well with the almonds.  And there you have my * small and sweet * mini almond and orange cupcakes.

This recipe made 24 mini cupcakes with a little batter left over for a couple of regular sized 'tasters'!!


115g butter
115g sugar
115g self-raising flour MINUS 2 tablespoons, replace this with 2 tablespoons of almond flour
100g flaked almonds
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract
Zest from 1 orange


1.  Preheat the oven to 375°F/ 190°C and line cupcake tray with paper cases.
2.  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3.  Gradually beat in eggs, then add almond extract.
4.  Sift in flour and fold into mixture.
5.  Add zest of orange.
6.  Spoon mixture into cupcake cases, and add flaked almonds just before putting in the oven.

7.  Bake in oven for 10 - 15 minutes but check these often until springy to the touch, and until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cooking time will depend on if you make them mini or regular sized!

For the glaze:

Whisk together icing sugar and the juice from one orange until you reach the desired consistency - I used 8 rounded tablespoons!

Pour over the cakes as soon as they come out of the oven.

I was really pleased with how they turned out, and the reason I posted them today is that I have been thinking about making them again soon!  I'm glad I had written the recipe down and now it is on the internet forever!!  I love the almond/orange combination, although in the citrus world my love lies with lemon, and sometimes the orange flavour just isn't tangy enough for me!  Maybe that's another flavour to try another day... 

That's all from me today with this * small and sweet * post!  Time to get back to work... Have a fantastic week everyone :-)

Sunday, 14 April 2013

DIY CD Rack turned Herb Garden

After last week's blog post asking you where you were, Spring, perhaps you are indeed showing your sun shining face...finally!  We are just waiting for some sunshine, some warmer weather and the chance to get outside :-)

This time last year we were excited to make a start on our first garden.  We had moved into our condo when we were married at the beginning of Autumn, and with Winter soon approaching we didn't actually do much on our balcony, apart from the bbq and a couple of chairs of course!  So last Spring was the beginning of our gardening adventures in our 'garden'... or rather concrete space that we are actually very fortunate to have a large version of!

We knew we wanted some flowers, but with no flowerbed this wasn't our main priority.  What we really wanted was stuff to eat!  Herbs that we could use for cooking... real life edible produce rather than just flowers that looked pretty!!

We had the perfect item in storage (thanks to my grandmother-in-law for holding onto that in my 'room' for me!) and were super excited to convert this old CD player to a herb garden!

I had owned this CD rack since I moved to Canada when a neighbour in the first apartment I lived in was getting rid of it, but it was a perfect addition to my little basement apartment for some shelving.  After moving into our condo we had no real need for it ... until now!

This started off a nice royal blue colour, but it wasn't really the look we were going for on our balcony.  And we thought we should probably weather-proof it a little.

We chose a exterior waterproofing paint in a nice earthy brown colour that would match anything.  I sanded off some of the blue paint, just to rough it up a little and then over the course of a couple of days I painted 3 coats of the brown.  I made sure to get right into the inside corners to get a full seal everywhere.

Once everything was dry we put gravel down at the bottom of each section, then soil, then the herbs themselves!

We actually planned it so that the nearest herbs to this edge (which is closest to the sliding door entrance) were the ones that needed the most watering, the middle ones only occasional watering, and the final ones hardly any at all!  Although, our balcony is facing west and gets some SERIOUS late afternoon heat in the Summer months so we did have to make sure the English herbs in particular weren't drying out!

We planted:

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme (♫ Scarborough Fair in anyone's heads?!)... Dill, Stevia (we had big ideas for iced tea and baking substitutes!)... Tarragon, Mint (used in my Summer Citrus Cake)... Basil, Chives, Lemon Thyme, Cilantro and 2 Strawberry plants.

So whilst the weather is still not quite good enough to grow these again yet, we had a lot of fun with this DIY Herb Garden project last year and the CD rack is still out on our balcony looking good, just waiting for it's herbs back!  

Bring on Summer!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

✿ Spring are you here?! ✿

No honestly... Spring are you coming?!

March Break 2012 saw extremely hot weather... March Break 2013 saw cold temperatures and snow... Easter weekend did get some sunshine, and a new dress (admittedly with cardigan and tights) with its more mild temperatures but this week the winter coat came back out and I'm ready for Spring to come!

Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE Winter.  I want every day in Winter to be filled with fun snowy times but right about now, maybe it is time for some nice Spring weather.  I'm just about ready for some changes in shoes and clothes and I definitely want to spend some weekends outdoors :-)

So in an attempt to coax Spring out I baked a cake this week for guests we had visiting and gave it some pretty Spring garden fondant flowers and butterflies to decorate ✿

I baked the same Vanilla Syrup Cake I used as the middle tier of Jonathan's Superbowl birthday cake as only Jonathan and I had tasted that one so we thought we could share it around this time for our two guests who drove 8 hours just to see us for one night :-)  (Thanks guys, it was SO GOOD to see you!!!)

This time I filled it with buttercream, and just a spread of strawberry jam (I didn't know if our guests were partial to cherries or not) and then the following day got to work on the decoration.  I am most pleased with how quickly I managed to get it covered with buttercream, then the rolled out fondant... and then with some very handy tools, and my icing already coloured (from the Easter Simnel Cake fondant flowers) it was pretty simple to put this together.  It makes it a nice and easy, but still pretty cake to whip up for an afternoon tea, or Spring gathering of friends or family.

Thanks to my little sister for this amazing butterfly cutter, it came in 3 sizes so I layered the middle size (with no imprint) and the smallest size on top, along with pressing down on the stamp cutter to imprint the butterfly pattern before giving them a little roll with my Wilton cake tools to spread the wings and make them stand out a little from the cake.

With the butterfly cutter and my flower cutter, once coloured and rolled, this fondant becomes easy to use and quick to design decorations and toppers.  I LOVE fondant and playing with it, a baker's play-doh for sure!

I've been reading lots of blog posts this week, and am loving all of the Spring colours and ideas being linked up, or posted about.  Maybe the more we post the quicker Spring will come?!

✿ Have a great week everybody!  Do leave a comment and link me to your new Spring projects ✿