Shawna is a wife, homeschooling mom, photographer, recovering perfectionst and writer of the blog Perfection is My Enemy.
I love family get togethers because it gives me the chance to show off my baking chops and to try out new recipes. Which really benefits everyone, especially you! Well maybe it benefits my family slightly more because they get to sample the delicious treats! This summer I made this fabulous Lemon Raspberry Layer cake which was equally as scrumptious as it was gorgeous. And the rustic messy buttercream frosting is so splendidly simple to do.
You will need two batches of your favorite vanilla cake recipe or vanilla cake mix. Its surprisingly easy to find organic and gluten-free cake mixes now! They’re a bit more expensive than your usual Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker mix, but they don’t have all the garbage in the ingredients. Check out your local supermarket (super Target, whole foods and Trader Joes have great selections) for products from Bob’s Red Mill or Arrowhead Mills or you can grab them on Amazon and have them delivered to your door!
Here’s what you need for the cake:
- 2 x vanilla cake mixes (or your favorite homemade recipe)
- 2-3 lemons (you will need 2 for the juice and zest, and one for garnish)
- 1 cup fresh raspberries (plus 8-10 extra berries for garnish)
- 2 sticks butter
- 3 cups seedless raspberry jam
- Yellow food coloring
- Pink food coloring
- Red food coloring
- 1 x – 8″ cardboard cake round
For the frosting:
- 2 cups butter, softened
- 7.5 cups confectioners’ sugar (one 2 lb bag)
- 2 teaspoons milk
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
In a bowl combine butter, sugar and salt. Beat until blended.
Add the milk, lemon zest and vanilla and beat for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy.
Make the following adjustments to your mix-
- Substitute half lemon juice and half water for the liquid called for in the instructions.
- Substitute melted butter for the oil called for in the mix.
- Add 2 teaspoons of freshly grated lemon zest.
- Add 5-6 drops of yellow food coloring.
- Pour into two 8″ greased cake pans. I like to use Baker’s Joy cooking spray with flour added. Bake as directed
- Substitute cream for the water called for in the mix.
- Substitute melted butter for the oil called for in the mix.
- Add 1/2 cup pureed and sieved raspberries (about 1 cup of whole berries). Be sure to use fresh, ripe, sweet berries. Its best to let them ripen for a few days before you make the cake, so they are at their peak sweetness. Sieve them through some cheesecloth or a chinois (which is really just a fancy pants version of a fine strainer) to remove all the seeds. Because let’s face it, no one likes raspberry seeds.
- Add a few drops of hot pink food coloring, and 1-2 drops of red food coloring to get a nice deep raspberry color.
- Pour into two 8″ greased cake pans. Bake as directed.
Assembly and Frosting
To make this glorious layered effect we are going to be torting this cake. To tort a cake just means you are slicing each layer in half and adding filling in between. This makes your cake slices look beautiful plus it gives you more filling which makes for a much more delicious cake.
I recommend using a cake slicer (or cake saw) like this one from Wilton. You can use it to level off the tops of your cake, then drop it down to the lowest setting and slice your cakes in half. Be sure to do this on a level counter or table or your cakes will end up lopsided.
Slice all four cakes in half. Then begin by smearing a little frosting on your cake board then place the bottom raspberry piece down. The frosting will keep the cake from sliding around. Add about 1/2 cup of jam in the center and spread it around leaving about 1/2 inch of space all around the edge (that way when you place your next layer on the jam doesn’t smush out the sides.) Next, add a lemon layer and more jam. Continue layering one raspberry, then one lemon layer, with jam in between until you get to the top. Make sure your top piece is a “bottom” layer of one of your cakes. That way you will have a smooth top and not too many crumbs. Does that make sense?
Now for the frosting. Just drop a big blob of frosting on the top of your cake and, using a large offset spatula, begin working the buttercream down the sides in smooth swirly motions. Don’t worry about making it too smooth. Just make sure you have a nice even layer. Then go back and using the tip of the spatula make some nice rustic swirls. Finally, slice your lemon and stick a few slices around the bottom of the cake and add a few berries for garnish. That’s all she wrote friends! I hope you enjoy this delicious and delightful cake!
Nothing makes me more excited at 8am on a Wednesday than loading the baby up, stepping out into the crisp autumn air (okay well 78 is crisp in Florida) and waiting in line to enter the glorious new Whole Foods Store that opened in Clearwater today at Countryside mall! With a fairly nice variety of natural food supermarkets, farmer’s markets and even a widening organic selection available at Publix in the Tampa Bay area, it was high time Whole Foods got their slice of the organic consumer pie. I’ve been patiently awaiting the grand opening since I heard about the new store last year and I was so excited to be there on opening day!
My fellow blogger friend Lane and I arrived at about 8:30 in the morning and the line was already wrapped around the building. There was a promise of free gift cards ranging in value from $5-$500 for the first 500 people in line. Apparently some verrrrry enthusiastic (read:insane!) Whole Foods fans lined up at 9pm last night to get the first spot in line. By the time we got there all the cards had already been given away, but we were super surprised and thankful when they came by with a second round of gift cards for all the rest of us! Lane and I got $5 each which bought us some delicious coffee and pastries at the cafe inside.
Thankfully we only had to wait about 35 minutes to get in and it certainly was a madhouse once we entered the organic mecca. But this was a well (albeit newly) coconut-oiled machine. The staff were friendly and informative, and when Luke knocked over my coffee and spilled it everywhere there was a crew with a cone and mop on the scene within seconds. It was quite impressive. (Don’t mind Luke’s uninterested pose below, there were some very appealing flowers right within his view.) The selections were vast and most surprisingly there were a lot of very reasonably priced products. I was overwhelmed with the health and beauty section and all the awesome deals on products I’ve been looking for! 99 cents for all natural fluoride free toothpaste? I’ll take four! Liter sized bottle of All-natural shampoo for under $7? Thank you ma’am! Guava Kombucha for the road? Yes, Please!
Most impressive of all were the 100+ locally sourced items like fresh seafood and produce, and locally farmed and packaged pasta sauces and honeys. That’s the sort of thing that will really steal my business. Its a good option for when I can’t make it to the farmer’s market on the weekend.
I can’t wait till all this opening madness dies down so I can go back and really take in the store aisle by aisle. Or partake in the beer and wine bar on $8 beer and burger night! This is going to be a very good thing for mama. :)
If you’re a mom, on Facebook, who has had a baby in the last few years, chances are you’ve heard of, or are in, some sort of Mom’s group. Well I’m in one too. Our group is seriously awesome. Its a bunch of girls from all over the country who happened to be pregnant at the same time and happened to join the most amazing group ever. Over the last year we’ve all grown so close. We’ve been there through the births of our children, though those early weeks of being up all night, and wondering if our baby will always be so needy. We’ve answered each other’s questions from “what-the-heck-is-this-rash?” questions, to “how do I keep from shooting my husband?” questions, and “does this dress make me look fat?” questions and everything in between! Some of us breastfeed, others use formula, some of us had magical unicorn hippie natural births, while others had c-sections. We’ve shared joys and losses, ups and downs, moments where we think we’re gonna lose it, and moments where we all just laugh at each other. We’re all different, but we all have something in common- we’re moms and we’re there for each other. Its been a beautiful thing to see how so many different women, from all over the country, from such vastly different backgrounds, can come together and support one another with virtually no drama. It really is a miracle.
So one of the things we like to do is send each other gifts! We do several gift exchanges a year. For our babies 6 month birthday I got paired up with a sweet momma with an absolutely darling little girl who loves birdies. Isn’t she just precious? I wanted to do a homemade gift and I had seen some super cute custom onesies on etsy that I knew I could totally DIY, and you can totally use scraps of fabric that you already have lying around. So here’s how you can make your own custom birdie onesie that makes an awesome homemade gift!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Plain onesies
- 2 complimentary fabric scraps.
- Embroidery floss (various colors)
- Sewing Needle
- Paper and Pencil
- Iron on interfacing
- A couple beads or a button (for the eye)
Start by getting your onesies. I got the Carter’s pastel set with the lace edges on Amazon. They are simple and sweet. Just what I was looking for.
Next, you’ll need a template. I just freehanded a birdie shape onto a piece of paper and cut it out. Or you can print out something like this
(I just did a simple google image search for “birdie vector”).
You’ll need three templates, one for the outside of the birdie, one for the beak and one for the wing. Again this is a simple enough design that you can easily freehand the template.
Trace your birdie, beak and wing onto your fabric. Then flip the templates backwards and trace them onto your interfacing. You will need to cut out two of the birdies from the interfacing (I’ll explain why later).
Cut everything out. You’ll want to use a different fabric for each piece so you will have a nice contrast. Iron the facing onto the back of the large birdie piece and onto the wing and the beak. Peel the paper backing off the back.
Next, stitch a little eye onto your birdie. You can do this with a bead, or a cute little button. Or simply stitch a little circle or X to make an eye.
After you’ve stitched on the wing and the eye, lay your second piece of interfacing on the back of the birdie and iron it on, over the stitching. This will ensure that everything lays nice and flat on the onesie.
Now its time to sew the birdie to the onesie. Use a different color thread for even more adorable contrast. Be sure to only sew to the front layer of the onesie. Don’t be a ding-dong and sew through the whole thing. Lol, I believe you are smarter than this, but you never know. I’ve done much dumber things when sewing!
Now that your birdie is on, you can stitch on the beak, and make some little legs with yellow or orange stitching. So easy and super fun to make. You can get so creative with the colors and do all sorts of nice combinations. Make several for a sweet, homemade, baby shower or 1st birthday gift. Have fun and do send me pictures of your finished projects!
Recently I was joking with a friend who is planning to start trying for a baby soon. I joked about the fact that my son is still sleeping in our bed at 6 months old, something I swore I’d never do. In fact the list of things I said I would or wouldn’t do [but have now completely changed my mind about] has grown considerably long.
For example I swore I would never nurse my baby to sleep, give him a pacifier, or any plastic toys. I was NOT going to co-sleep, and I was positive I wouldn’t give my baby anything but breastmilk until 12 months. It didn’t take long for me to learn that as much preparation as I had done, training for being a mom can only be done ON THE JOB.
I may only be a mom of 6 months, but I’ve learned a few things in my short career.
1) When you are pregnant, or planning to be pregnant, or thinking about your goals as a parent- read all the books, do all the research and make a plan BUT be ready to change that plan to meet the specific needs of your baby, and your family.
2) Do NOT allow yourself to feel guilty when your plans change. So what if you let your baby watch a little TV from time to time so you can go to the bathroom? Oh dear God, you fed your precious little one NON-organic baby food?! Gasp!! Yes try everything you can to be the best, most wholesome, crunchy mom you can be, but sometimes we just have to stay afloat! Do what you can to get through today and tomorrow you can give being a supermom another shot.
3) Don’t accept judgment from others for doing what you think is best. This is coming from a former Col. Judgy McJudgerton herself. Before I had a baby of my own I thought I knew what everyone should be doing with their kids and I enjoyed sharing my opinions with everyone. I apologize if you were ever personally on the other side of this. Now that I’m a mom I’ve learned that you never know someone else’s circumstances and personal journey might be. So let’s stick together moms! Don’t judge each other, and when someone else judges you just ignore it and be confident in your own choices. If you’re reading Homemaker Chic, then chances are you’re a bright, educated woman who does her research and wants to give her child all the best in life. You’re a good mom! Don’t let anyone (including well meaning family members or girls in your mom’s group) to bring you down!
Can I get an Amen?
So what about you? What are you doing differently as a mom that you never thought you’d do?
It was almost a year ago that my husband first laid eyes on the house that would become our first home. When he brought me back to tour this place with our realtor I instantly saw visions of us decorating the nursery, bringing home our son, and watching him grow up in this wonderful place. But aside from the sweet sentimental (5 months pregnant at the time!) woman in me, I saw all my Pinterest boards coming to life before my very eyes! After a more than 2 year search for our dream home, my Pinterest boards were full of inspirations for decorating that I just couldn’t’ wait to bring to life.
My vision was to unite my love for French Provincial decor with the fresh, cheery, colors of Key West Florida. The final product was a fusion and style all my own
And the best part of all? I DID IT ALL ON A BUDGET!
I plan to share with you every room in my house eventually but let’s start with my formal living room.
Here’s how I did it…
The first and most important part of putting this vision together was finding the right furniture. So it was straight to Craigslist.com for me. Craig’s List is always my #1 source for furniture. You can find amazing deals, and if you can’t find the exact piece you’re looking for you can always use your imagination to repurpose and add new life to old pieces.
(P.S. if you look closely in the photo above you can catch a sneak peak at a super cool orange ombre fondant wedding cake I did for a bride a couple weeks ago! It is a dummy cake and I thought it looked pretty awesome in my living room. :)
The accent chairs took more work. I found a pair of gorgeous french provincial arm chairs for $50 each. They were originally very traditional with dark wood and neutral fabric. I wanted something that would really pop with color, marrying the classic Marie Antoinette style of the chairs with fun cheery Key West colors. I found the lime green chevron fabric at Hobby Lobby on sale and I had a 40% coupon as well! 4 yards of fabric only cost me about $19.00 and I had enough fabric leftover to make the matching little throw pillows on the sofa (The orange pillows came from Home Goods – $25 for both). The turquoise paint is the same I used to paint the legs of the sofa, and also my mantel piece on the fireplace. I still have 1/2 the can left for other projects and it only cost about $12.00. Lucky for me I have an AMAZINGLY crafty and talented aunt who hooked me up big time by painting and reupholstering the chair set for just $100. All in all these fantastic chairs set me back just over $230. The white side tables also came from CL already painted ($100 for the pair), as did the coffee table ($30). YES!! I found a french provincial coffee table already painted orange! Seriously?? Who besides me would have the vision for an orange coffee table? Apparently my decor soulmate. The green rug was $20 from Old Time Pottery (to be completely honest I would have loved a rug about 3x that size, but we’re on a budget!). I snagged the blue vases and silk flowers from my mom (shhh don’t tell, LOL!)
The lamps came from IKEA for $15 each. They ended up being a bit short in my opinion and didn’t make enough of a statement. So to make them taller I simply stacked them on some old books. Such an easy little touch that makes for a really cool look!
A sweet friend made me this awesome scrabble letter photo box for my birthday. Isn’t it awesome! It has found a lovely home on the magical orange coffee table. For Christmas our family decided to do homemade gifts. My creative nephew (with help from my super crafty sister!) made us a set of photo coasters with pictures he grabbed off my Facebook page! Isn’t that just the coolest thing you’ve ever seen? He did it by mod-podging photos to plain old ceramic tiles (you can pick them up at Home Depot or any home improvement store) and then sealing them with spray sealant. I absolutely love these coasters!!
I found this lovely piece at a second hand shop. The guy in the store asked if I was looking for anything specific and I told him I wanted a french provincial sideboard. He happened to have one in his truck that he hadn’t even unloaded in the shop yet. He said he was going to paint it but if I had a specific color I wanted he would do it custom for me. So for $260 I got an antique sideboard freshly painted and distressed by hand! I couldn’t believe my luck because a search on CL for anything similar to this piece was anywhere from $400-$800!!
Now, when I moved this piece in there was such a huge piece of empty wall space above it. I knew I wanted a square grid of frames but it took some creativity to come up with what sort of art would live in those frames. Enter Dunedin, Florida. We live not far from this adorable little Florida beach town. On the facade of many buildings in “delightful Dunedin” you will find these charming paintings of oranges. There are probably 100 or more of these mysterious paintings on the fronts of antique stores, ice cream shops, restaurants, and bars. You can read the story of how they got there in the Tampa Bay Times. Its an adorable story.
So I decided that I wanted a touch of Florida in my art and what says Florida more than Oranges?? So I strapped Luke onto my back, grabbed my camera and headed downtown. I took pictures of about 20 oranges and decided on the best nine. A little bit of photoshopping to correct the lighting and to crop each photo into a perfect square and they were ready for printing. Whenever I need high quality prints I always turn to PersnicketyPrints.com. They have never let me down AND they do 12×12 prints which is exactly what I needed for this project. All 9 prints cost me less than $20 including shipping. I also needed to find the perfect frame. 12×12 frames are surprisingly hard to come by, and they are usually pretty pricey. After several days of searching the interwebs for the right frame at the right price I came across FrameUSA.com. Not only did they have great customer service, they had gorgeous frames for cheap! This whole project cost under $75.00!
This fireplace originally had a hideous 1970s puke brown stone facade that thankfully the previous owners had the sense to paint white. I further modernized the mantle by adding a coat of turquoise semi-gloss paint. The map of Puerto rico was used on a real cruise ship and you can see the captain’s handwriting on it! I picked it up years ago when I worked for a cruise line. I got the frame at Michael’s on sale and with a 40% off coupon for $17.00.
The candlesticks came from Ross for about $5 each, and I had the bunch of silk flowers laying around. I just stuck them in an empty Mad Housewife wine bottle.
These two chairs actually came exactly as is from Craig’s list!! I know! I’m the luckiest craiglister in the world. Honestly I just check back every day for new items in my area. Whenever something awesome comes up I jump on it right away! Having cash and a truck really helps. Someone had already up cycled these rattan chairs by painting them blue, recovering the cushions in lime green chevron fabric, and making these adorable throw pillows. They were a STEAL at $60 a piece! I really couldn’t believe I found these gems. The side table in between them was found at a thrift shop for $20. The plant is from IKEA.
SO for around $1000 I was able to completely furnish an entire living room. You can do it too! Just keep your eyes peeled for awesome deals, and use your imagination and a little creativity to come up with a style that is totally you!
Well I’m sick. Boo! I almost never get sick, and here I am sick as a dog for the fourth time since Luke was born (4 months ago). Now before you say my immune system is probably down due to lack of sleep I have to say that God blessed me with one of those fabled, magical, unicorn babies who has slept through the night since birth! I figure He decided to throw me a bone after all I went through. I digress.
I guess its probably just one of the joys of the postpartum phase where my body is unrecognizable and nothing works the way it used to, including my immune system.
Since I’m breastfeeding I was leary to take any over the counter medications lest I negatively affect my milk supply. So I got to thinking and googling and came up with this super awesome get-better-soon-elixer.
and a shot glass.
Raw unfiltered ACV is known to have dozens of health benefits not least of which is its ability to act as a natural expectorant by thinning mucus and draining the lymphatic system. You have to use the raw unfiltered kind, pasteurized ACV does not work as well. I found the Bragg brand at Target and you can also get it on Amazon (click on the image).
The honey not only serves to coat and soothe your sore throat, but raw local honey has wonderful anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties, and works naturally to strengthen the immune system. I buy a big jar of it at the local farmer’s market, but I was fresh out when I took the picture (hence the store-bought variety shown).
To make the Elixer:
Simply pour half a shot (1 TBSP) of honey and half a shot of ACV and microwave for about 8 seconds. Stir and the shoot it down the gullet. I find its better to just chug it back rather than sip it because the ACV is a bit strong on the nostrils. The honey makes it go down smooth, and warming it up makes you feel all soft and cozy inside. I promise you will feel better after trying this! Do it 2-3 times a day and you’ll be back at it in no time.
A spoon full of HONEY makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way. :)
Now I’ve got to stop writing and go back to bed. Hope this works for you!