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Awards season is nearly coming to an end, but the excitement certainly has not dwindled! As you well know, the 84th Academy Awards ceremony is Sunday evening, and I could not be more excited! Every year, I print out Oscar ballots for each member of my family, to which we all fill them out according to our own predictions. We then put money in a pool that is to be given to the individual who has averaged the most winning tallies. The Oscars can be a very long ceremony, but when there is something on the line (such as a small pool of money or bragging rights until next year’s ceremony) it can certainly make it a lot more fun! You can find the ballot here:
If you’re already planning to have people over for the Oscars, try passing these out to your guests to fill out before the ceremony. Decide what should be awarded to the victor (perhaps a hand made “Oscar”) and then have at it! You are guaranteed to hear some serious hootin’ and hollerin’, depending upon their winning or losing responses.
To make your Oscar party more memorable, try serving some traditional movie beverages and snacks to give your guests a nostalgic movie experience. You might also find some retro inspired containers that would perfectly finish the look!
I’m always looking for something to do to wile away my weekends, and I think I’ve found my next project: Can you say sew-time? One of my current obsessions, Lotta Jansdotter, is selling an assortment of fabric swatches from her Echo Collection and alas, I have visions of thread and needles dancing in my head. A pillow perhaps? A spring tote? Or the granddaddy of all—a quilt? Pass the thimble; project in progress.
There is no denying the ability of a mason jar to perk up just about anything, which is why I recommend them for a multitude of purposes for both kid’s parties and “grown-up” parties. If you plan on serving drinks this Valentine’s Day, consider using mason jars to add a bit of whimsy to your beverage. Mason jars look particularly adorable when a festive and colorful straw is tossed in for added flair and these Kikkerland straws do the trick quite perfectly, don’t you think?
Show your family and friends you care with a little lovin’ from the oven! I’ve had this heart-shaped pan for years, and thought it might be sweet to whip up a red velvet cake in it to give to my family for Valentine’s day. There are several recipes online that will surely do, however I got mine from the Food Network and it is absolutely irresistible!
Vegetable oil for the pans
2 1/2 cups all purpose flower
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows
Crushed pecans, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour 3 (9 by 1 1/2-inch round) cake pans.
Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.
Frost the cake. Place 1 layer, rounded-side down, in the middle of a rotating cake stand. Using a palette knife or offset spatula spread some of the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. (Spread enough frosting to make a 1/4 to 1/2-inch layer.) Carefully set another layer on top, rounded-side down, and repeat. Top with the remaining layer and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle the top with the pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.)
Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally). Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using. May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Yield: enough to frost a 3 layer (9-inch) cake
Valentine’s Day is once again upon us so this week we’ve decided to share some delightfully simple and sweet ideas that are sure to make any valentine swoon! Whether you’re planning a romantic dinner in, or a fun night out with friends, a hand-made treat is always appreciated. While some think of Valentine’s Day as a romantic holiday reserved for couples only, we prefer to think of it as one that promotes love and warmth and inspires people to share this message with others. Take this time to let those closest to you know how wonderful they are, and nothing does this better than something to satisfy the sweet tooth, of course accompanied by those five sweet words: Will you be my Valentine?
All you need for this first project is a mason jar, twine or ribbon, and a whole lot of your valentine’s favorite candy. While most candies will do, try choosing one that comes in festive colors for the holiday. Because my valentine has a sweet tooth that can only be satisfied by chocolate, I’ve opted for M&M’s. Fill the mason jar with the candy and top it off with a sweet bow. There you have it—love in a jar!