Black Cat Garland

I’ve got a fabulous craft for you today! This Black Cat Garland is so cute and so quick and easy to put together. It would be perfect for Halloween, a party decoration, or a decoration for a kid’s room.

Black Cat Garland

In fact, this cat garland started out being made of yellow and black cats. I originally made it for my son’s cat-themed 5th birthday party, a couple of weeks ago (which you can see, along with the other cat-themed decorations and cake I made, on my Instagram ). He is obsessed with cats. He asked for a cat-themed birthday party. Of course, I said yes!

Then, my son had the brilliant idea of making all the cats black and using the garland as a Halloween decoration! Isn’t he clever? (I’d like to think that some of my arty/ craftiness is seeping into his consciousness, but maybe he’s this clever all on his own.) So, I took off the yellow cats and made some more black ones for the garland, for Halloween. Of course, you could make the cat garland any colour you like. I can picture an adorable pink or pastel-hued version.

Black Cat Garland

Here’s how to make the Black Cat Garland:

Materials:

  • 2 sheets of black poster board
  • twine or thick white cotton string
  • clear tape
  • metallic permanent marker
  • pencil
  • scissors

Instructions:

  1. Draw and cut out a cat head template using thin cardboard (I used a cereal box). Or you could cut the cat shape out, to trace around it.Black Cat Garland Template
  2. Trace cat heads onto poster black poster board, using pencil. The ones I made are about 5 inches across, I think. I recommend making an odd number, like 7 or 9. I think asymmetry looks the most balanced.
  3. Cut out the cat heads.
  4. Draw faces on the cat heads, using metallic permanent marker. This type of marker will show up beautifully on the black board. (You can use any kind of marker you like, for other colour cats.)
  5. Lay the cat heads face-down in a straight line across a large table, spacing them as evenly as possible, about one inch apart.
  6. Lay twine or thick white cotton string across the tops of the cat heads, making sure the centre the twine through the middle of the ears. Leave enough twine at each end, for hanging the garland.
  7. Using clear tape to attach the twine to the cat ears. Be very careful to keep the cat heads and twine very still, as you work, to keep everything aligned properly. Black Cat Garland Back
  8. Tie a knot at each end of the twine, to prevent unraveling.
  9. You can hang the garland using the twine, or poster putty/ Blue Tack. If you use putty, cover it up with small circles cut from excess poster board.

Black Cat Garland

That’s it! One spooky Black Cat Garland completed.

Happy Halloween!

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You’re Invited

Paperless Post

I have always been a fan of making an occasion feel special. I just love celebrations. Any reason to gather friends or family, bake a cake, fill the glasses, and make things a little sparklier than usual makes me feel happy.

Paperless Post

Paperless Post

Many moons ago, I used to hand-draw and letter my party invitations, when I’d host lots of theme parties for friends. Now, my partner and I invite family over for birthdays, holidays, and casual get-togethers. For special occasions, I like to send lovely invitations, to set the mood and get the details right.

Paperless Post

My favourite site for online invitations and cards is Paperless Post. Their designs are just gorgeous! There are so many styles, ranging from elegant to witty to adorable to glamorous. Paperless Post has partnered with lots of fabulous artists and designers, like Kelly Wearstler, John Derian, Oscar de la Renta, Jonathan Adler, Anna Emilia Laitinen, and Charlotte Olympia, to create the many designs. I have been using this site for a few years, and I’m really impressed by how much they have expanded. Every occasion imaginable has cards and invitations available, from birthdays to cocktail parties to holidays to housewarmings to bridal showers to launch parties. They’ve got it all!

Paperless Post

blue blooms photo

One thing I love about the invitations is the way you can customize them. You can add a background or a special stamp on the virtual envelope (it’s lovely the way the card pops out of the envelope, when your guests open them). Various lettering options are available. Some designs allow you to use your own photo. There are some designs with a choice of colour scheme.

Paperless Post

Paperless Post

Another great feature of the site is how you can easily keep track of who will be attending your party, by using their RSVP system. You get an email every time someone responds, and you can check the guest list tally on the site. You can even send reminders to your guests, near the date of the party, if they haven’t responded.

Paperless Post

Paperless Post

I will definitely be using Paperless Post for upcoming birthday parties and holiday gatherings. My son’s birthday party is coming up soon. Luckily, I’ve got the invitations sorted. Now I just need to start thinking about cake… yes. That’s something I pretty much always have on my mind!

Paperless Post

{I have been compensated for this review by Paperless Post. I truly love their brand, and I’m very happy to share their beautiful designs with you. I only write about brands I honestly like and want to support. I hope you enjoy hearing about them.}

 

All written content is copyright Kim Sequoia 2018 for a delicious moment.

Easter Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

Easter Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

It’s that time of year again, a time for bunnies, flowers, and chocolates… Easter is almost here! This is the perfect occasion to do a really pretty cake. I have a lovely cake for you, today, which is beautiful for Easter, but it is so easy and delightful that you could make it (minus the chocolate eggs and flowers, as decoration) for any occasion you like.

Easter Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake is one of my favourite cake recipes. Its wonderfully rich vanilla flavouring comes from vanilla bean paste. You can use vanilla beans or vanilla extract, if you’d prefer, but I’m a huge fan of vanilla bean paste, so that’s what I’ve used for this cake. Both the bundt cake and the glaze which is drizzled on top contain vanilla bean paste, so you get double the vanilla goodness!

Easter Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

As you can see, for Easter, I’ve decorated the cake with candy-coated chocolate eggs on top and flowers, which were from my garden’s pink trumpet vine, around the bottom edge. Feel free to decorate the cake any way you want to–or not at all. I can imagine a few tiny chocolate bunnies on top of the cake, along with the chocolate eggs, or maybe a few sprigs of very small flowers (either real ones or sugar flowers, like forget-me-nots) circling the top. Get creative! This is an occasion for celebration and beauty.

Easter Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

I wish you could see how gorgeous the inside of the cake was. I didn’t get any photos of the inside of this cake, because I was too busy serving it to our guests, at last year’s Easter lunch. The crumb of this cake is very tender, and the flavour is just wonderful. As simple as vanilla may seem, it can be very satisfying. This cake totally gets it right. Those adorable chocolate eggs are delicious, too! (I could eat them by the handful, if I let myself!)

Happy Easter, everybody! I hope your holiday will be beautiful.

Enjoy the recipe…

Easter Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

This cake is beautiful for Easter, but it is so easy and delightful that you could make it for any occasion you like. Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake is one of my favourite cake recipes. Its wonderfully rich vanilla flavouring comes from vanilla bean paste.

This recipe was adapted from Sweetapolita.

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4g) salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (2-1/4 sticks or 255 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vanilla bean paste or 2 tsp vanilla extract or 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature

For the Glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1-3 tablespoons whole milk (use less milk if you use vanilla extract)
  • About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar/ soft icing mixture

To Decorate:

  • 30-40 mini candy-coated chocolate eggs (I used Cadbury’s eggs)
  • A handful of fresh flowers (They must be organic/ not treated with chemicals of any kind, to be near food.)

Directions

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F/ 180°C/ 160°C fan-forced with rack in middle. Generously butter pan or spray with canola oil, and dust with flour, knocking out excess flour.

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape seeds from vanilla beans with tip of a paring knife and add into butter mixture, reserving pods for another use, or add vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract, and beat until well combined, about 1 minute.

Add eggs, one at a time, to creamed butter and sugar, beating well after each addition. At low speed, add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into pan, smoothing and spreading evenly. Gently tap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until the tip of a skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan for 1 hour, covered with a clean tea towel. Then invert cake onto a rack and cool completely, for about 1 hour.

For the Glaze:

Put confectioners’ sugar/ soft icing mixture and vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract in Pyrex measuring cup. Add milk 1 tsp at a time, whisking constantly, until you get desired consistency. The glaze should be thick yet pourable.

You want to make sure that it’s not too runny, or it won’t dry white on the cake, and will run off too quickly. It should take a few seconds to whisk it, and it will feel too thick at first–keep whisking until you get desired thickness. If too thick, add a teaspoon or so of the milk. If glaze is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar/ soft icing sugar 1 tsp at a time.

Once the cake has cooled, drizzle glaze over top.

To Decorate:

While the glaze is still moist, gently press candy-coated chocolate eggs into the glaze on the top of the cake. Arrange fresh flowers around the bottom edge of the cake.

This recipe was created by Kim Sequoia for a delicious moment.

All written content and photos are copyright Kim Sequoia 2018 for a delicious moment.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes

Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes

As I was looking for holiday baking inspiration, I found myself wanting to try chocolate with gingerbread. I’ve got to tell you, I never used to be a big fan of gingerbread. Maybe this stems from having too many rock-hard gingerbread cookies, when I was growing up. Several years ago, this all changed when I tried a German gingerbread cookie called Pfeffernüsse. They’re soft in the centre and covered with a smooth sugary glaze. They’re delicious. Now I always buy them at Christmas time.

Being a gingerbread convert, I was feeling ready to try my hand at making gingerbread in a cake form. I thought, naturally, chocolate would make gingerbread even better. I decided that the perfect way to do this would be to make gingerbread cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes

I baked a big batch of these cupcakes for my son’s play group Christmas party, this week. I loved the way they turned out. The gingerbread cakes were moist, tender, and had a wonderful flavour. The chocolate buttercream frosting was rich and creamy. I could have eaten the frosting with a spoon (ok, maybe I did). The gingerbread and chocolate were so delicious together. You really just have to try these cupcakes to believe how wonderful they are. I hope you’ll add this recipe to your holiday baking list.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes

Happy holidays, and happy baking!

Enjoy…

Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes

These gingerbread cupcakes are moist, tender, and have a wonderful flavour. The chocolate buttercream frosting is rich and creamy. Gingerbread and chocolate are so delicious together. These cupcakes are a perfect holiday treat!

The cupcake recipe is adapted from The Cake Blog. The chocolate buttercream frosting recipe is adapted from Savory Sweet Life.

Ingredients

    For cakes:

  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda/ bi-carb soda
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup molasses or treacle syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup cold water
  •  

    For frosting:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks or ½ pound or 225 grams), softened (but not melted!)
  • 3½ cups confectioners (powdered) sugar/ soft icing mixture
  • ½ cup cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream/ thickened cream
  •  

    Also: 24 cupcake liners/ pattypans

Directions

For cakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/ 180°C. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners/ pattypans.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda/ bi-carb soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Set bowl aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, on medium speed, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, molasses or treacle syrup, and eggs. Add half of the water to the melted butter mixture. Then add half of the dry mixture, and mix. Add the remaining water and then the remaining dry mixture, mixing until smooth.
  4. Divide cake batter between the cupcakes liners/ pattypans. Bake cupcakes for 20 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean except for a couple of crumbs. Remove cupcake pans from oven, and transfer them to racks to cool for 30 minutes.

For frosting:

  1. Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed, cream butter for a couple minutes, until fluffy. Turn off the mixer.
  2. Sift 3 cups powdered sugar/ soft icing mixture and cocoa into the mixing bowl. (It is important to sift in order to keep lumps out of the frosting.) Using the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients don’t blow everywhere), and switching to a paddle attachment, mix until the powdered sugar/ icing mixture and cocoa are absorbed by the butter.
  3. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If frosting needs to be a stiffer consistency, add a little more powdered sugar/ icing mixture. If frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.

This recipe was created by Kimberly Sequoia for a delicious moment.

All written content and photos are copyright Kimberly Sequoia 2017 for a delicious moment.

If you would like to use my recipes on your own site, please re-write them in your own words and link back to my original post.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes

 

Green Beans with Mushrooms and Shallots

Green Beans with Mushrooms and Shallots

Since Thanksgiving is about a week away, I’m sharing an easy, lightened-up version of the classic green bean casserole. As much as I love the rich, creamy, oven-baked goodness of a homemade green bean casserole, now that I live in Australia, it is usually pretty darn hot at Thanksgiving. So, I wanted to develop a version of the recipe that was a little lighter and did not require turning on the oven. This recipe fits the bill. It is also a one-pan recipe, so that means you save room on the stovetop. That’s always a great thing to do on a big holiday of major cooking, right?

Green Beans with Mushrooms and Shallots

The green beans go right into a big skillet, along with the mushrooms and shallots. It’s really so easy and cooks quite quickly. Flavourful shallots and mushrooms, along with garlic, chicken stock, and white wine make this dish so savoury and delicious. Fried shallots on top add a little crunch and even more flavour.

Green Beans with Mushrooms and Shallots

I made this side dish to go with salmon, the other night. I thought, “This is kind of like a stir-fry. Why not serve it with fish?” It was equally good with salmon as it is with turkey. Of course, you can serve it with anything you like. Also, feel free to substitute more chicken broth/ stock in place of the white wine. I have to say, I like homemade fried shallots better than store-bought ones, but buying them certainly saves time. Again, it’s up to you if you want to buy or make them. This dish is delicious, either way. I wish I had better photos of this dish, honestly, but I just had to share this with you, anyway, since Thanksgiving is nearly here.

Hope you’ll enjoy this recipe as much as I do, on turkey day or any day!

Green Beans with Mushrooms and Shallots

This delicious one-pan dish is just as great on the Thanksgiving table as it is on a weeknight dinner table. It comes together quickly and is full of flavour.

This recipe was adapted from Food52.

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds/ 0.75kg green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup shallots, thinly sliced or finely diced
  • ½ cup fried shallots (buy them or make them by flouring thinly sliced shallots and then frying in olive oil)
  • 1-2 Tbsp cornstarch/ cornflour
  • 8 ounces/ 225g mushrooms (I like portobello), thinly sliced (if small) or diced (if large)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth/ stock
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat in a deep, large skillet.
  2. Add shallots and mushrooms to pan. Cover and saute until golden brown. Add green beans to pan and saute for 2-3 more minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Add 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch/ cornflour and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Gradually add white wine to pan, using a silicon whisk, and cook for a minute and stirring to break up any flour lumps. Add chicken stock/broth and bring to the boil.
  5. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Transfer green bean mixture to serving dish. Toss fried shallots on top. Serve while hot.

This recipe was created by Kim Sequoia for a delicious moment.

All written content and photos are copyright Kimberly Sequoia 2017 for a delicious moment.

If you would like to use this recipe on your own site, please re-write it in your own words and link back to my original post.