Friday, June 28, 2013

Iron Man Inspired Steampunk Outfit Design

Yep.  You read the title correctly.  The Rose City Comic Con is in just 3 short months and that means it is time to get cracking on the costumes.  Last year, I made Aria's Domino costume, but didn't get around to making a costume for myself or my husband.  This year I swore I would do things differently so Phil and I could join in the cosplay fun.  Today's post is really a cry for help.  I stumbled upon the most adorable set of Avengers inspired frocks by artist Xeora and fell instantly in love.
I LOVE the Hawkeye and Thor dresses, but ultimately went with Iron Man based (believe it or not) on the fact that I have a pair of fabulous boots that are perfect for the outfit.  Heh.  I am thinking I need a whole closet full of dresses subtly inspired by comic book superheroes.  Aria has already requested a Batman inspired frock for herself.
Okay, so here is my attempt at designing my own Iron Man inspired dress. Totally ignore my lack of professionalism in using technology to create inked sketches.  I had to use Paint for this so I was working with the bare bones.  
I'll start with a simple breakdown on the design elements and what I was attempting to go for.  
  • The mini top hat with gold netting over face is supposed to mimic Iron Man's helmet piece.  
  • The necklace which I failed to capture in drawing is a pocket watch case.  I will likely add a big gear in the middle.  It is obviously intended to be Iron Man's heart.  The husband wants me to rig it up so it actually lights up.  I'll might try that once I get everything else made.  
  • The little bolero style jacket has sleeves that turn up to reveal gold (more golden yellow than metallic mind you) to mimic the color change in Iron Man's armor. 
  • The cute little flouncy empire waist dress is done up in deep reds for Iron Man's armor.  As you will see in a moment I am thinking of playing around a bit with patterns and textures for more fun.
  • I was originally thinking of making wrist length gloves but as you'll see later, I'm thinking I might try to go to mid-forearm.  They should obviously have something in the palm to mimic Iron Man's repulsor rays.  Again, Phil is voting I find a way to rig up a real light.  I have the materials to make that happen (LED lights, conductive thread, and coin cell batteries), but I need to play around with it.
  • The gold petticoat and fishnets (again, more golden yellow than metallic) also mimic the color change in Iron Man's armor.  I'll have to see what I can find in terms of gold fishnets.  I was also thinking how fabulous gold lace stockings would be if I could find them. 
  • And last the boots...my fabulous boots.  Those are obviously done already.  Heh.

So here is where you can help, if you are so inclined.  I need a little feedback on fabric pattern and color choice.  Here are a few of my favorites.
I'm kind of partial to the Brocade in the upper  left hand corner.
I am leaning towards the pinwheel rosettes on the top or the tone on tone stripes on  the bottom left. 
As for the details, I'm outlining the patterns and materials I am thinking of using.  If you have any tips or thoughts on these, feel free to let me know.  I'm making this up as I go so I appreciate any help I can get along the way.  :)
  • Dress - Pattern: Sis Boom Dress Pattern by Scientific Seamstress. I will likely make the skirt a bit fuller. Materials: I think I'll use either satin or taffeta.  I think it might be more interesting to have the skirt in a different pattern than the bodice just to add some texture to the outfit.
  • Jacket - Pattern: B5232 Misses Victorian Jacket by Butterick. Its currently out of stock but you can find copies on Etsy and Ebay. I'm leaning towards option B, but I think option C could be intriguing as well.  What do you think?  Materials: Butterick recommends wool, twill, gaberdine, silk, shantung, and suiting fabrics.  I haven't been able to find anything online that catches my eye in those materials.  I need to visit some fabric stores though to see what I can find.   Most of what I have found is brocades but I think they would work fine.
  • Hat - Pattern: Steampunk Mini Top Hat by Harlots and Angels.  I am excited about this one.  I already ordered the pattern and it comes with most of the supplies I'll need to make the hat. Materials: It doesn't come with the fabric which is fine since I want to customize it for the outfit. I figure once I decide on the material for the skirt portion of the dress, I'll just use that for the hat as well. I also picked up some feathers and netting from Fancy Goods to dress the hat up a bit (in particular this, this, and this!)
  • Gloves - Pattern:  B5695 Gloves by Butterick.  Initially when I bought the pattern I was thinking options A, B, or D, but now I am thinking option E might actually be a better choice if I can make the cuffs a bit longer.  It would enable me to use that golden yellow color I am using throughout the outfit. Materials: If I want to make option E, they recommend using velveteen for the inside of the cuffs and Poly Lycra for the outer portion of the gloves.  
  • Necklace - No pattern for this one but I picked up a pocket watch case from Tim Holtz.  I was going to purchase an old antique one but I couldn't find what I wanted at a price that I was willing to spend.  I also bought these lovely gears from Punqd.  They come in a variety of sizes so I'm hoping one of them fits nicely into the pocket watch case. I will probably fill in the front portion of the pocket watch with resin mixed with a bright light blue pigment and embed the gear in it. I'll leave the back portion empty so I can see if I can rig up a light.
  • Fishnets/Stockings - I can't find any!!!  If you know of a shop that carries golden-yellow stockings, please let me know!  I am willing to even do solids, but I'd prefer lace or fishnet.  

A little photo collage of everything I have right now or will have very soon. Oh and check out those boots!  Those are the ones I own!!  Aren't they just fabulous!   
And finally I'll leave you with this comparison of Iron Man and my design.  So what do you think?  Its subtle but do you think at least a few folks at the Rose City Comic Con will pick up on the tribute?
I'll be documenting as I go along so if you're into this kind of thing, be sure to tune into our blog.  Oh and with Aria's TWO costumes (Rogue and Wasp) and Phil's costume (YellowJacket) also in my near future, you can expect more cosplay fun over the course of the next three months.

~Cheers!~
Robin










Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Crochet pattern for kid's toolbelt

Today I bring you a quick and easy crochet project; a cute kid's toolbelt. Today's project is brought to you by a broken garbage disposal. You see, last weekend ours broke and started pouring water into the under-sink cabinet and floor. Lovely. Well, Matt and I are pretty handy so we went out and bought a new one and brought it home to install it. There was no way Max would be left out of this one, so he donned his hard hat, rounded up his tools, and found a toolbelt.

Now, as of last weekend he didn't have a toolbelt, so instead he had to use a headband from his dress up box, which the tools kept slipping out of. When he was all done helping he let me know in no uncertain terms that he needed a toolbelt. So here it is! This is an easy project, using just the single crochet stitch and rectangles, making it a great beginner piece. It's very easy to size up or down for your little one and could even be scaled down to fit your Tansy Doll! Just use thinner, sport weight yarn, and a smaller crochet hook. Have fun!

Materials
Toolbelt colored yarn, worsted weight - I used a tan color
Crochet hook - size I (5.5 mm)
Belt buckle

Pattern
Belt: I chose to stitch directly to the belt buckle. To do this, just sc 6 around the bar of the belt buckle. Otherwise, just ch 7, turn, skip first st, sc 6 across. Then you can sew it onto the buckle when you're done.

ch 1, turn, sc 6 across - repeat until belt fits your child. For Max, (who's 5) I did 90 rows. This leaves him some room to grow.

Pockets: decide where your pockets should go. For Max, this was about 12 rows away from the buckle, then I had him try it on to place the other one.
sc 12 along bottom of belt
ch 1, turn, sc 12 - I did one pocket with 30 rows, and one smaller one on the other side with 24 rows.
Cast off leaving long tail. Fold pocket up and stitch sides. If you fold it up high enough that it fastens partway on the belt it will be a little stronger.

Loops: I did 2 small front loops, but you could always add more.
ch 7, turn, skip first st, sc 6
ch 1, turn, sc 6 - repeat for 8-12 rows. I did one with 9 rows, one with 11 rows.
Sew onto belt, letting it bubble up a bit instead of lie flat.


You're done! Call in the kiddo for a fitting then let 'em load it up with tools!

So now Max is ready for his next home repair call! So cute!

TTFN!
Cady

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pear Blossom, a special edition 16" Tansy Doll

Hi folks & Happy Monday,

You may have noticed my lack of posts on Mondays (you didn't, you say? Well, hmph!) hah.

Life has been pretty hectic around these parts after some family emergencies last month and so Cady and Robin (good friends that they are) have let me off the hook, guilt-free. Thanks ladies. :)

Behind the scenes though...at Tansy Dolls headquarters...I've been creating, selling, packaging & shipping, dreaming, and marketing. A lot of fun stuff is going on and exciting opportunities are heading our way. BTW - did you know that this week (June 28th) is our 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY!! So exciting! The gals & I are going to have to go out for a night on the town to celebrate.

Well, today, I am proud to unveil a beauty that we've been working on for quite some time. Our 3rd in our "From Fables" 16" special edition dolls, I am proud to introduce you to Pear Blossom!
tansy dolls, korean doll, princess, pear blossom, bamboletta, asian doll
Ta da!!!
 Inspired by the "Pearblossom, " a Cinderella story that takes place in Korea hundreds of years ago. You can read about it here: Pear Blossom

Our Pear Blossom has peach skin, blushed cheeks, and black hair with hand-spun blue highlights made from the finest all-natural mohair and wool yarn. She has a sparkle in her dark brown eyes.
tansy dolls, korean doll, princess, pear blossom, bamboletta, asian doll
sweet little face
 She is wearing a beautiful pink and green 'princess' hanbok made from silk dupioni and has pretty pink felt blossom hairclips in her hair. She also comes with a second outfit, her white hanbok made from cotton!
tansy dolls, korean doll, princess, hanbok, asian doll, waldorf doll
Pear Blossom in her white Hanbok

 She also has hand-stitched pink boots with blossom buttons on their sides.
korean princess doll, tansy dolls, pear blossom, bamboletta
detail of her boots swooooooooooon

 and she comes with an extra special package of goodies!

Her little goblin friend in a kimchi jar is a Tokgabi, a gracious goblin that helps her on her way. He is needle-felted from 100% wool and his jar is crochet with love.
needle felted troll, Korean doll, asain doll, princess, waldorf, bamboletta
Pear Blossom & her pal



 Sweet Pear Blossom is in our shoppe this week at www.tansydolls.com make sure to check her out if you'd like to have her join your family.



Have a wonderful week, everyone!
xoxoxoxo,
Lesley

Friday, June 21, 2013

So long, Preschool

Last weekend Aria graduated from preschool.  Her school held a little ceremony complete with gowns and cap.  The kids looked adorable.  Aria was recognized for her great story-telling.  I wrote about it here, but we received her journal and there were quite a few gems.  All I can say is the girl definitely has a thing for the macabre.
The kids walking to the stage.  Aria is eyeballing the audience.  Heh.
The director Kim gives her speech.  We love Teacher Kim.  .
Aria can be a tough cookie.  She doesn't make a connection with just anybody, but she definitely made a connection with Kim.  She had a rough few months last year and it was always Kim who could get her to loosen her grip on my leg and let me say my morning goodbye
She looks so BIG!  By the way, Aria's preschool is housed at the college I attend.  She is wearing my school colors. 
With just a blink of an eye, my little preschooler is now a kindergartner.  How did that happen?  I decided to homeschool her for kindergarten so we're officially starting on Monday.  I figure we'll do reading, math, and writing 5 times a week, science and art 2 times a week alternating, and 1 free choice topic the remaining day.  We're going to take it easy so probably no more than 15 minutes a subject to start just to see how it goes.  I also want to work plenty of field trips and outside exploration.  Do any of you homeschool?  If you have tips to share with me, I'll gladly accept them.
The good news is that no matter how big she gets, she always remains my silly Goo.  The day she starts being serious, I think I'll start to worry a bit. 

~Cheers!~
Robin


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Grandma's Meatloaf

I know, I know, another recipe? Since when is this a food blog? I'm not even that much of a chef! But I do love to cook, to bake, and most of all to feed people. That's the best part, really. I don't do much cooking of any kind if it's just for me. Rice. Pasta. Eggs. Not much.

Matt was recently gone for quite a while on job training. That was really hard for a number of reasons. While he was gone, I was really only cooking for Max and myself most of the time, so I didn't do much of what I consider "real" cooking at all. Max is perfectly happy with mis-matched, mostly cold dishes. One of his go-to dinners is cold peas, ramen noodles, and cubed tofu. It takes 5 minutes, is pretty cheap, and really easy. So it was easy, especially in the midst of being busy with other things, to go a week or two without cooking a complete meal. Max never complained, I wasn't even sure he noticed anything different.

Well, then Matt came home and I happily started cooking again. One of his favorite meals I make is my meatloaf. The recipe was originally my grandmother's, though my mom tweaked it, and I tweaked it more. However much it's strayed from her version it's still about the only version I like. It's moist and rich without being greasy or too sweet. It goes great with all kinds of sides; veggies, potatoes, rice, etc. Matt's favorite is mashed potatoes, so that's what I made the other night. We rounded out the meal with corn on the cob, snap peas and strawberries from my mom's garden (thanks Mom!), and yummy crusty bread.

At dinner, Max looked up and said, "Thanks for dinner, Mom. It's super yummy delicious! Can I have more of everything?" I guess he cares a bit after all, because that's not a response I ever got to those thrown-together meals. And, in fact, when I made spaghetti with peas and garlic bread and meat sauce the next night he was just as enthusiastic. I feel a little bad about slacking the past few months, but very happy to be back to cooking.

Back to the meatloaf; it's amazing. I mean, I know it's meatloaf, which doesn't always have the best rap, but it is delicious. It's easy, simple, versatile. My favorite part is actually the leftovers. Grilled meatloaf and cheese sandwiches on sourdough, or cold with mayo and onions are my favorites. So be sure to make enough for the leftovers. If I have a big group I've been known to make two, just to be sure of sandwiches. With no further ado, on to the recipe!

Ingredients:
2 - 2 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 lb. sausage (I use mild Italian)
1 egg
1 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes (I use Italian recipe, usually)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. Lawry's Seasoned Salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. This works best with your hands. Just squish and fold until it looks pretty uniform. 
  3. Press into a loaf pan. I prefer glass, but metal works too. Drop the pan on the counter a few times to help knock out air bubbles. 
  4. Bake for 60-90 minutes (depending on meat and pan used). It's done when the juices on the sides are clear and it's no longer pink in the middle. 
  5. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. This is the hardest step; to not cut and serve right away - but it's so worth waiting! This rest time is what makes it so juicy and delicious when you do serve it!


Ok guys, there you have it - another family secret revealed! I'd feel a little guilty, except I've been handing it out to anyone who asked for years. I hope your family enjoys it too!

TTFN!
Cady

Friday, June 14, 2013

Hillsdale Art Supply Company

Tansy Dolls is based in Portland, Oregon.  For those of you familiar with Portland, what I'm about to say will come as no surprise.  Portland is the mecca for artists and crafters.  Its the city that breathes and lives off of creativity and imagination.  There are so many great stores here that cater to the artist within that the question is often not if you'll find what materials and inspiration you're looking for but where you're going to find it.  The only downside is that most of these great stores are not exactly located in my area.  I live in a particular area of SW Portland that while lovely has been somewhat lacking in art and craft supply stores.  Oh sure, down the street I have Michaels and The Mill End store for my general crafting and sewing needs, but the big box Michaels hardly has that Portland feel and while The Mill End is my go-to place for fabric, it doesn't fulfill my other crafting needs.

ALL that has changed.  A lovely little shop called Hillsdale Art Supply Company just opened in my neighborhood and I couldn't be happier.  The first time I visited the shop I met one of the shop owners, Denise, who won my daughter over when she allowed Aria to sit at the big art table to paint some sticks. 

I've been keeping my eye on their Facebook page because every month they offer a series of art classes.   When I saw that they were offering an encaustic (wax collage) class I nearly squealed in excitement.  I've wanted to try my hand at encaustic for a very long time.  In addition, one of my dearest friends Tina just graduated from a doctoral program (Woohoo Tina!!) and I thought it might make a great graduation gift.  After ensuring she had the day free, I signed us both up for the course. 
L: Wine and collage materials. Top R: An encaustic paining by the lovely instructor Amy Stoner.  Bottom R: Tina preps the first layer of her wax collage. 
We had a great time.  The classes are kept small so you really get some great one on one advice, tips, and cheerleading from the instructor.  I also got to meet the second shop owner, Ryan, who is super encouraging and personable.  A quick note about our encaustic instructor Amy Stoner: she makes amazing encaustic artwork.  Apparently she also does printmaking. You should seriously check out her artwork if you are looking to dress up the walls a bit.  (Website, Facebook)  Tina and I already plan on attending her July 31st class where she'll be teaching encaustic painting.  The difference between encaustic wax collage and painting is that you add pigment to the wax. I'm already super excited about taking the class although my painting skills leave little to be desired.
Top L: Glorious papers, Bottom L: Little drawers full of handmade notebooks and fun erasers, Top R: Shelf of recycled art and collage materials, Bottom R: Paper, paper, and more paper
So what sort of art supplies can a person hope to find at this wonderful little store?  There are all sorts of paper goodness, paint brushes, paints, canvases, and little trinkets that I think would make great collage or jewelry pieces.  Then there are colored pencils and fun erasers, sharpies, and glue.  One of my favorite things about the store is that they also buy and sell used art supplies so you can find some seriously great deals if you do a little digging. 
Top L: Sweet little children's art smocks, Bottom L: Sharpies in every size imaginable, Top R:  Beads, small glass vials, slides, Bottom R: ric rac and twine
The store has a great community feel and both of the owners are super sweet and and helpful.  It is tucked away so if you drive through Hillsdale and don't see it right away, don't give up.  Its located behind Jade Restaurant at 6327 SW Capitol Highway off of Barbur Boulevard.  Hillsdale Art Supply Company is a great community resource with an array of great art supplies and plenty of classes for both adults and children to keep both serious and budding artists busy and happy.  You can check out their list of art classes as well as register for any that catch your eye on their website.  If you live in the Portland area, I recommend stopping by and checking them out.

~Cheers!~
Robin

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Patchy Pants

My son is hard on clothes. Or, more specifically, pants. His shirts actually last fairly well, but pants he is rough on. Here's a shot of a few of them:

He's at that size stage right now where all the pants he has are the size that he's close to outgrowing. There's no point in buying more 4T pants - he'll outgrow them before they're broken in. But buying 5/6 pants is a bit early - they still fall off him. When I lined them all up, there were only 2 pairs without holes in at least one knee. 
boy kid pants need patch


I assessed those in need of repair. All had a hole in the right knee. When he plays, he plants his right knee on the floor, and scoots along by pushing his left foot. Hence the hole in the right leg of his pants and the constant bruise/scrape on his knee. Some weren't worth saving; these I scrapped for materials. Below are my repairs. Max declared himself happy with most of them, and downright thrilled with a few. A few evenings of stitching and he's outfitted again until he changes sizes. 

I started with the easy ones - the sweatpants. One pair wasn't worth saving, so I used it for patch material. Two pairs got basic knee patches. 

For the last pair, I did something more interesting. There was only one hole, so it got a whale shaped patch and some embroidered details. 

When I moved on to the jeans and cargo pants, there were a few more to cannibalize. There was also one pair ready to be summer shorts.

One pair of jeans just had one gaping hole, so it got a really big iron-on denim patch. Except I never really trust those iron-on patches, so I ironed it on, then stitched it in place. 
boy jeans iron on patch

The next pair of jeans also got an iron-on patch, but I gave it more decorative stitching. 

Next up were the patch pants. Max is very fond of having customized pants. He picks patches at the craft store to spruce up his wardrobe. When he heard I would have to throw some away he was very concerned about the fate of his patches. I decided to save and then re-purpose some. His one-dinosaur pants became two-dinosaur pants, and Lightning McQueen moved over to join his buddy Mater. 

For the last two I got a bit more creative. There was this great pin that led me to this site, which helped me decide one pair of pants needed a monster face. The other pair already had a fire truck, so I thought flames would be fun. Felt is easy to work with, but not super strong, so I stitched it onto jean patches. 
monster patch flames iron on

That's 10 pairs of pants! Plenty to hold him over until he grows into the next size. Hope this helped! Patchwork pants for the win!

TTFN!
Cady

Friday, June 7, 2013

A more natural skin care routine

When I hit puberty, my face started to break out.  I was not exactly the popular kid in school and the acne that spotted my face did not help at all.  Unfortunately, nothing I tried seemed to help much.  The plethora of acne treatments that I bought at the store tended to leave my face dry, itchy, and splotchy. At some point, I gave up and resigned myself to the idea that my skin would never be clear until I was an adult.  However, in a total unfair roll of the dice, my skin never did clear up as an adult.  At 33 years of age, I still suffer frequent breakouts particularly when I am stressed. Normally my skin care routine involves washing with whatever hand soap we have on hand.  Since nothing seems to help I see no reason to spend extra money on special soap and treatments.  A few weeks ago, someone posted a question about Proactive in a closed Facebook group.  Most of the people who responded mentioned that it worked but that it also did a number to their faces, their towels, and their shirts.  One person mentioned using raw honey, cinnamon, and baking soda as a cleanser and coconut oil and tea tree oil as a moisturizer.

I was feeling adventurous and knew I'd be headed to a natural food store later that day so decided I'd give it a try. I have no idea if these items are easy to find in a conventional grocery store, but if you have a natural food store in your area you shouldn't have problems locating them.

Baking soda you can obviously get in just about any grocery store and probably some gas stations.  Cinnamon is also pretty easy to find.  You might have some trouble finding raw honey, but I'm not sure.  I don't generally look for it in conventional grocery stores so I wouldn't have a clue.  I do know that you can find all three in your local natural food store.  :)
So exactly how do you use all these items?  Glad you asked.  You start by making a paste with the raw honey, cinnamon, and baking soda.  It doesn't take much so go easy on it.  Then mix up the cinnamon and baking soda.  I like to mix up quite a bit in a small container with a lid so I can easily grab a quarter size of the powder mix.  Add a pinch of the raw honey and a few drops of water and smooth it onto your face. The cinnamon works rather well as a facial scrub and it leaves a nice, warm tingly feeling.  I recommend testing a bit of the paste on a small part of your skin to make sure you're not allergic to any of the ingredients.  After covering your face with the paste (I should note that this part of the routine also involves Aria running around yelling "Mama Cinnamon Face, Mama Cinnamon Face!" I have no idea but it is kind of funny), leave it on for a few minutes, gently rinse it off with water, and pat your face dry with a towel.

*Sorry for the ever so slightly blurry picture* Even if I eventually abandon the cinnamon, baking soda, and raw honey facial scrub/wash, I'll be sticking with coconut oil as a moisturizer.  Our entire family loves it.  Aria has a thing about feeling sticky and refuses to use lotion but she is willing to use the coconut oil...in fact, I have to watch her like a hawk around it so she doesn't use it all up in one setting.  My husband has also taken to using the oil instead of lotion. 
Then take a pinch of the coconut oil and I mean a pinch; that stuff goes a LONG way.  If your house is like mine, its a bit cold which means the coconut oil will be a solid in the jar but as soon as it hits your palm it should start to warm up and melt.  Add a few drops of tea tree oil to it and mix the two oils with your finger before applying it to your face and neck.

So my overall thoughts on it?  To be honest, I winced a bit as I placed the items in the cart.  Raw honey, coconut oil, and tea tree oil are not exactly cheap.  The only consolation I had was that standard acne treatments aren't exactly cheap either.  If this worked, I knew that the items would last me at least 6 months, making it actually quite cheap in the long run.  I've been using them for at least two weeks and so far my report is fairly positive.  I will say that it didn't immediately clear up my skin and I probably jumped into using the products too quickly.  By the fourth day, the cinnamon, baking soda, and raw honey cleanser started to sting a little particularly on the more sensitive parts of my face such as the upper parts of my cheeks. If you're interested in giving a go, I'd recommend easing into it by slowly replacing your standard skin care routine.  Also I discovered the more raw honey is in the mix, the more soothing it is on the face.  So if its starting to sting, add more raw honey.

My face did seem to break out more after about a week, which was not exactly what I was hoping for, but I think part of that is my tendency to pick.  I know. I know.  I shouldn't do that, but its a nervous habit that I find incredibly hard to break.  The good news is that after two weeks, the acne that I did have seems less irritated and is healing up nicely.  I am absolutely in love with the coconut oil; it leaves my skin feeling smooth and soft without any greasy residue.  All in all, I give this two thumbs up.  I'll be sure to post again in a month to let you know if I still love it.

Anybody else have all natural skin care tips?  I'd love to hear them!

~Cheers!~
Robin



Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes

Max put in a custom cupcake request the other day - Raspberry Lemon. Bless him, because these might be my new favorites! I know, I said that last time - but seriously, I love these! They're a fluffy yellow lemon cake topped with raspberry meringue buttercream.

Now, I've had folks tell me that these recipes are too intimidating, but I promise they're well worth it! So I'm going to walk you through them with pictures! Also, while these are both way easier with a stand mixer, you can certainly accomplish them with a hand mixer. I'd go so far as to say even with just a whisk, but you'll have to have stronger arms than I! The plain recipes are down at the bottom for once you've got the hang of it.

Ingredients
Cake:
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 3/4 cups sugar 
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
3 large egg whites, room temperature


Frosting:
5 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon raspberry extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons raspberry juice (from a pint or so of raspberries)
raspberries to decorate 

And the how-to...

Step 1: Okay, the very first thing to do is take out a cup of buttermilk, 8 eggs, and at least 2 cups of unsalted butter. You're going to want all of those things at room temperature, so put them out right off, then go have a cup of coffee before you come back and prep everything else. They should all sit out at least 30 minutes, maybe an hour. 

Step 2: Right. Now preheat the stove to 350 degrees and line your muffin tins with those little papers. This recipe makes about 24 cupcakes, or about 5 dozen mini-cupcakes. I personally love the minis, but whatever you prefer!

Step 3: Mix the dry ingredients for the cake. In a large bowl whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar. Set aside. 

Step 4: In a medium bowl (I use my 4-cup measuring bowl), mix the melted butter, buttermilk, vegetable oil, lemon juice, extracts, and egg yolks. Note: when you're separating the eggs, make two bowls of 3 egg whites each. You'll save one bowl for the frosting. 

Step 5: In the bowl of your stand mixer (or another large bowl), whisk the egg whites (just 3!) until foamy. Then add the other 1/4 cup of sugar and whisk until stiff and glossy. Transfer to another bowl and set aside. 


Step 6: Now put all the flour mix in your mixer bowl, then with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the buttermilk mixture. Mix until just combined. 

Step 7: Add about 1/3 of the egg whites to the bowl and mix. 

Step 8: Remove bowl from mixer, fold in the rest of the egg whites. I know some folks get intimidated by folding something in, but don't. It's a lot like really slow stirring with a lot of bowl scraping. Here's a nice demo. Cut, fold, turn, repeat. It's worth doing! All that air in the egg whites is what makes these cupcakes so nice and light. 

Step 9: Scoop batter into prepared tins. I use an ice cream scoop or cookie scoop so they come out nice and even and I don't drip everywhere. 

Step 10: Bake on center rack at 350. Regular cupcakes take about 18 minutes, minis take about 10 minutes.  They're done when a toothpick comes out clean and the tops spring back when touched. Also, they'll look yummy and smell divine, so that's a good hint. Set aside to cool. 



Intermission: You want the cupcakes to be nice and cool before you frost them, so now's a great time for a break. You can speed things along with the refrigerator if needed, but I think it's best to just let them sit for a few hours. While you're waiting you can extract some raspberry juice. Put the pint of raspberries in a saucepan over medium heat. Mash them up a bit with a fork, and let them sweat for about 5 minutes. Strain the juice into a bowl. Just let it sit while you do other things. 



Step 11: On to the frosting! Once the cupcakes are about cool enough to frost you can get this part started. Put your 3 egg whites left over from step 4 in the bowl of your stand mixer, or other heat-proof bowl, along with 2 more egg whites (from the other eggs you pulled out back at step 1), and the sugar. Place the bowl over a simmering (not boiling!) pot of water. Whisk for about 3-5 minutes, until whites are warm to the touch and sugar is dissolved. It will look like soft marshmallow creme. 



Step 12: Remove bowl from heat and whisk until cool - about 5-10 minutes. Now it should look like a stiffer meringue, since that's what it is. This is when Max usually shows up to steal the beater. 



Step 13: Switch to the paddle attachment, then while on low speed, add the room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time, waiting while each is incorporated. The frosting will look kind of light yellow and deflated. Don't worry - that's supposed to happen. Once it's all in just keep beating and it should come back to nice smooth fluffy look. If it's looking too runny put it in to fridge for a few minutes, then beat again. If it's looking clotted or clumpy, put it back over the simmering water for a few minutes, then beat again. Don't give up!

Step 14: Now add in the extracts and raspberry juice slowly - no more than a tablespoon at a time. Wait until it's fully blended before adding more. 


Step 15: The home stretch! Put your beautiful frosting into a piping bag and frost those cupcakes! I think the raspberry on top is what really sells it, but that might be just me. 



Step 16: Taste test! Even if you're making these for an event you're robbing yourself if you don't at least try one. Yummy! Here's the kiddos helping out with this step...


I hope you try these and love them like I do! Let me know! Now here's just the recipes without all the extra instructions and pictures:

Fluffy Yellow Lemon Cake
Ingredients
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 3/4 cups sugar 
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
3 large egg whites, room temperature


Steps
1. In a large bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, 1 1/2 cups sugar. 
2. In a separate bowl, mix melted butter, buttermilk, oil, lemon juice, extracts, and egg yolks. 
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer whisk the egg whites and 1/4 cup sugar until stiff and glossy. Set aside. 
4. Pour the flour mixture into the stand mixture, pour in the milk mixture slowly while mixing on low. 
5. Mix in 1/3 of the egg whites until smooth. 
6. Fold in the remaining egg whites. 
7. Pour into paper lined muffin tins or mini muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees - 18 minutes for regulars, 10 minutes for minis. 

Raspberry Meringue Buttercream
Ingredients
5 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon raspberry extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons raspberry juice (from a pint or so of raspberries)

Steps
1. Place egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of a stand mixer. Place over simmering water and whisk for 3-5 minutes until whites are hot and the sugar is dissolved. 
2. Move to stand mixer and whisk until cool - 5-10 minutes. 
3. Switch to paddle attachment, set on low, and add in butter a tablespoon at a time. Continue mixing on low until smooth and fluffy. 
4. Add in liquid slowly, letting it mix in thoroughly.    

TTFN!
Cady