Friends and Food, a Winning Combination

I recently had a chance to spend a lot of time with my sweet friends Phil and Jill. They're one of the lovliest couples around and super fun to hang out with, go see movies, eat good food, etc. Jill just recently started a blog called The Curious Bee. It's all bout her inspirations, art, baking, sewing, etc. Another new site I love comes from a new internet-buddy of mine, and it's called Turtle Weenies. It's full of really cute inspiration, so go check out the new sites and say hello to these blossoming blogs!
Anywho, I made a blood orange upside-down cake to bring over to the Jilip household last week and I thought I'd share the recipe. It's super good, not to sweet, very very moist, and full of vitamin c! I used a recipe from the January issue of Martha Stewart Living, but I made some modifications to make it my own. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the finished cake, which turned out absolutely beautiful. I don't know why I start out taking pictures of my baking adventures and then I forget to take pictures of the finished results. I think I just get too excited when one of my baking projects turns out so pretty, and all I can think about is diving in and eating it! But trust me, this cake is great for company because of its eye-catching pretty pink layered orange slices on top. Here's my version of how to do it:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. You will need a 9-inch round springform pan and some parchment paper, as well as these ingredients:

3-4 large blood oranges, sliced as thinly as possible.
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar/Splenda baking blend*
3 tbsp blood orange juice
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
A few drops of orange extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup almond milk (whole milk woks fine too)

Fill a medium stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the blood orange slices and boil for 3 minutes, then turn the burner off and let them sit. This step is very important!

Melt 3/4 of a stick of butter in the microwave and whisk in 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tbsp of the orange juice. Spread this mixture in the bottom of the springform pan. Grab your pot of  orange slices and run cold water into the pot to cool them, then layer them in the bottom of the pan in a spiral.

Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.

Beat the remaining butter and Splenda blend until fluffy. Add the eggs and extracts and mix until smooth.

Add the flour mixture alternating with the milk and mix well.

Pour the batter into the pan, being careful not to disturb the orange slices. Tap the pan to remove any air bubbles. Place the pan on a rack in the upper third of the oven, and place a big sheet of parchment paper on the rack underneath. This cake has a big tendancy to drip form a springform pan while it bakes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until it's golden-brown on top and a toothpick insterted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool slightly (But not too much!) before releasing the sides of the pan and turning out onto a pretty cake plate. Keeps for a couple days at most.

*I am becoming a big fan of using part Splenda and part sugar in my baking. I made Valentine's day sugar cookies with Angela and Dennis and we used 1/2 turbinado (really chunky raw sugar) and 1/2 splenda and they came out soooo good! Maybe I'll post that recipe as well, as we kind of had to make it up as we went along... Long story. But if you're afraid of fake sugar then by all means just use regular sugar. But if you like, give it a try with a blend or all Splenda.


Shop Update

I just added a bunch of new jewelry to the shop, and there's more stuff to come when I find the time! Hope everyone's staying dry out there!


Productivity Part 1

Been a little while since my last post! But at least this time I have a good excuse. Instead of sitting around thinking about making things and/or saying I'm going to make things, I've actually been making things. Dennis has been encouraging - nay, nagging - me to get things done and I must say it's working! He's a big inspiration to me, and just the swift kick in the butt that I needed. I started a to-do list on the chalkboard in the living room, and having it up there in huge letters on the wall is much more effective than a little one hiding in a notebook or online. Therefore, the next few posts of mine are going to be of finished projects, how exciting! 
The thing that really got the ball rolling was when Dennis offered to learn how to knit with me. I've been crocheting for a very, very long time, but every time I tried to learn to knit I would get lost and frustrated. And when I took Dennis to the ArtFibers store closing he wanted me to make him a hat like one in the store, but I couldn't because it was knit. Then he said the magic words; that he would learn to knit with me if it would help. That's when I started the meetup group, and Dennis goes with me every week, and guess what?

Yup. That's me, knitting. Booya. And I've already finished my first project:

It's a very, very basic hat. I bought the Klutz kit on knitting which came with a book, yarn, needles, a case, a hook, and a yarn needle. I figured it would be the best book for me since it's designed for seven year olds *(>_<) ... And it worked - I made the hat from the book in two weeks, working on it here and there. It looks really good on Dennis except for the whole purple thing. That inspired me to make a men's version which is on my needles as we speak. Since Dennis has no prior yarn-related experience it took him a little longer than me, but he's got the hang of it now and has started working on a hat of the same type. 
So, now that I know how to knit I really want to learn to make socks, then I figure I'll be ready to try the more complicated hat Dennis originally wanted since it has cables and color changes involved. But the whole double-pointed needle thing is very confusing, and no one in the knit group has ever attempted socks. I guess they're harder than I thought, so I was wondering if anyone out there can recommend a good pattern for beginner's socks on circular needles? I'd really appreciate some help.
Up next week, some recipes and finished sewing projects!


The I (Heart) You Sale!

Thismorning I put a ton of things in the shop on sale, because I really have to say I love all you guys supporting eachother in these hard times! And, in anticipation of a bunch of new soon-to-be-listed-items I put most everything on sale for around 25% off and the vintage reclaimed cards are 50% off, still with free shipping. I thought it would be nice to have a sale near V-Day, so I hope something you've had your eye on has suddenly dropped into your price range. Hope everyone is having a great day!