Picture Frame

Custom Maple Picture Frame

When Kaly told me she needed a picture frame for her desk at work I decided to design a custom profile rather than buy frame moulding and assemble it. I found a nice piece of maple with some pretty grain and went to work.

I like to start most projects with a rough sketch to determine critical dimensions. This is also a good time to think about what kind of profile you’d like the frame to have. The critical dimensions in this case are the length, width and depth of the rabbet. I wanted this frame to hold a standard 4″ x 6″ photo, plus a piece of glass and a back with a hinged stand. As for the profile, I wanted a radiused edge with a small step on the outside and a low angle chamfer on the inside edge.

Once dimensions are determined and a profile picked out, it’s time to pick out some lumber and cut it to size. I selected a piece of maple with an appealing grain pattern. I then cut the length to several inches larger than I would need for the four sides. The 1″ x 2″ stock I used felt a bit bulky for a 4″ x 6″ frame, so I ripped it down to 1-1/8″ x 5/8″.

To create the moulding profile I first set my roundover bit just deep enough to create a small step. With the work piece clamped to the work surface, keep the router flat while going over the near edge left to right. Because the piece was cut long you can clamp the ends and route up to them, without worrying about moving and resetting the clamps to route the entire edge.

After routing the roundover I cut the rabbet on the back on the table saw. Make sure this is deep enough to hold the photo, glass, and frame back, and long and wide enough to fit your photo plus about 1/8″ or so of wiggle room. You may have to bypass some safety features depending on your saw’s setup. I had to take off my riving knife to cut the rabbet.

The next step was to set the bevel and fence on the table saw to chamfer the inside edge of the moulding at a low angle. With the chamfer cut, the profile is finished. This is a good time to remove and saw marks or burns, 150 grit sandpaper should do the trick.

Next I cut the sides to length with mitre cuts on the table saw. After checking that the pieces fit up tightly I applied a coat of thinned boiled linseed oil. I like the oil finish because it brings out the natural beauty of the wood and really makes the grain pop. Applying the first coat before gluing ensures even penetration

After the oil has dried, liberally spread some wood glue on mating surfaces. Corner clamps make gluing mitres much easier, but my clamps are too large to glue all four corners at once. I ended up gluing two corners separately, then gluing the two corners together.

If your corners aren’t perfectly tight after gluing you can mix up some saw dust and wood glue to make a wood filler that matches the color of the wood you used. Simply overfill and hole or crack and then sand smooth after it dries.

With the frame assembled you can add another coat of finish. I used one of my homemade wood finishes, a mixture of boiled linseed oil and finishing paste wax. I wiped on one coat with a rag, and after it dried a applied another coat with #0000 steel wool. This gave a nice satin sheen to the maple.

With the wood finished we are ready for final assembly. Insert the glass, photo and back. Attach four to six swivel clips to hold everything in, being sure to pre-drill pilot holes to prevent the wood from splitting. And we’re done!

If you try making you own frame, please share photos in the comments section below!

Upgraded Chocolate Cake

A Birthday Cake for Adults (Because you’re never too old to feel young!)

I am a firm believer that cake is a must on birthdays. Young, old, and in between, I think that everyone should be able to dig into a fluffy slice of cake on their big day! With that being said, as people get older (and wiser, of course) their cake should follow suit and become more flavorful and should, perhaps, include a little alcohol.

So when my friend invited me to her movie night birthday party, I knew I had to make her a delicious cake with a little extra oomph so we could celebrate her birthday in style! I settled on a chocolate cake with a hint of espresso, and decided to spice up traditional American buttercream with a little bit of Bailey’s Irish cream. I also added chocolate ganache in between the layers as well as a beautiful drip on top of the cake, and finished off the cake with some coral colored rosettes (not only did these make the cake look beyond gorgeous, but they also helped me practice my decorating skills…a double whammy if you ask me)!

To keep the chocolate cake ultra-moist, I use boiling water in my batter. However, this does cause the batter to look thin and liquidy and leads to a lesser rise of the cake itself. To make two layers of cake, keep the recipe as is. If you want to really wow the crowd, feel free to do one and a half, or even double, the recipe for more layers!

I thought I was only going to make a two layered cake, but then I decided I wanted the extra height on the cake so at the last minute I decided to make an extra half batch of batter for one more layer. If you’re like me and don’t always have full days to make cakes, you can bake the cake ahead of time, let it cool completely, then wrap each layer in plastic wrap and store in the fridge until you’re ready to frost.

The frosting is key for this cake. In order to not over-power the Bailey’s, I reduced the sugar content in the buttercream. With that being said, I believe that buttercream is all about your personal taste. If you like it to be on the sweeter side, add more powdered sugar! Just make sure to keep the texture of the frosting balanced with a little extra Bailey’s (or heavy cream).

For the rosettes, I added liquid red food coloring to the buttercream until I achieved two colors that I thought would make pretty decorations (one lighter and one darker). In order to fill the two pastry bags, place them into glasses so they stand up straight while you’re filling them with buttercream.

In the end the cake was not only beautiful to look at, but also incredibly delicious! My friend was absolutely blown away by this cake, and your friends and family will be too!

Chocolate Espresso Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream

Makes one 8-inch cake (2 layers)

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Bailey’s Buttercream

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream

Chocolate Ganache

  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Buttercream for Decorating

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • Red food coloring

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 8-inch cake pans with cooking spray, parchment, and cocoa powder
  2. For Cake: Add dry ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk together until just combined
  3. Add milks, oil, eggs and vanilla to the flour mixture and stir on medium speed until combined. Reduce speed and slowly add boiling water to the mixture.
  4. Distribute cake batter between pans, and bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove to finish cooling
  6. For Buttercream: Beat butter in the bowl of a stand mixture until light and fluffy.
  7. Add powdered sugar a half cup at a time, alternating with the addition of Bailey’s a little at a time.
  8. Make ganache by heating heavy cream in a microwave (watch carefully), pouring hot cream over the chocolate chips, and stirring until combined.
  9. Once cakes have cooled completely, begin frosting with Bailey’s buttercream and adding cooled chocolate ganache between layers.
  10. After cake has been frosted, make more ganache and pour on top of the cake allowing it to drip down the side.
  11. For the rosettes, use Wilton tip #32 and Ateco tip #824 (or any open star tips you like!).

Comment below if you make this cake or have any suggestions, we’d love to hear from you!

Cookie Monstah Cake

Cake Time with Cookie Monster

About a month ago Tim made me the most beautiful cake turntable (see picture below)! Couple that with the fact that I have been dying to get better at cake decorating, and I had the perfect reason to make a cake! I was trying to decide how ambitious I should be when I stumbled across the cutest Cookie Monster cake design on Delish.com, and figured it would be a good place to start.

I decided, however, to make a few modifications to the recipe in order to spruce it up. First, I filled the cake with cookies and cream buttercream instead of just plain blue and second, I put crushed cookies around the outside instead of whole (Cookie Monster was a pretty messy eater, so I found it fitting).

Though it looked easy enough, this cake proved challenging on more than one occasion. Not only did I break one of the cakes trying to remove it from the pan (foiling my plans to make a four-layer cake), I also could NOT figure out why my buttercream needed so much blue food coloring in order to achieve that signature Cookie Monster blue!

In the end I was proud of both the taste and look of my cake, and my coworkers enjoyed it as well!

Cookie Monster Cake

Makes one 9-inch round cake

Chocolate Chip Cake

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup full-fat butter milk, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups mini chocolate chips

Oreo Buttercream

  • 1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6-7 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 12 Oreos, crushed

Blue Buttercream

  • Same ingredients as above, minus the Oreos.
  • Blue food coloring

Chocolate Ganache

  • 4 oz. (about 3/4 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep two 9-inch round cake pans* with nonstick cooking spray and flour, removing any excess flour.
  2. Cream butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add in sugar, then add in eggs one at a time until incorporated.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together in a separate bowl. Whisk together milks and vanilla in a measuring cup. Add flour mix to the butter mixture alternately with the milks, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
  4. Mix until well combined, scraping down sides of bowl as you go.
  5. Lightly coat mini chocolate chips with flour and add them to the batter.
  6. Evenly distribute cake batter between pans* and bake for 45 minutes.
  7. Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.
  8. For frosting, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add in powdered sugar one cup at a time alternately with one tablespoon of whipping cream until desired consistency and taste is reached.
  9. For Oreo buttercream: fold in the Oreos to the buttercream; For the blue buttercream: add blue food coloring until desired color is reached.
  10. Once cake is completely cooled, secure to board or cake carrier base and frost the top of the bottom layer with Oreo buttercream. Then place second layer on top.
  11. Frost the entire cake with blue buttercream (optional: do a light coat of frosting as a crumb coat before frosting fully). Place in fridge while you make the ganache.
  12. Make ganache by heating heavy cream in a microwave for about 1 minute and pouring over chocolate chips. Let it stand for 2 minutes and then whisk until in comes together.
  13. Pour ganache on top of the cooled cake, allowing it to drip over the sides.
  14. For the final touches, crush up chocolate chip cookies and press around the base of the cake. Make the eyes out of two halves of two Oreos, using a little extra ganache for the pupils. Set the eyes up right on top of the cake.

*NOTE: This recipe makes a lot of cake batter, if you wish you can split the batter between three cake pans and decrease the baking time to 30 minutes.

Comment below if you make this recipe and let us know about any suggestions on how we could make it better!

Hot Cocktail for a Cold Day

“Snowed In:” A Hot Cocoa-based Cocktail Recipe

If you live, or know anyone who lives, in New England, you understand that winters can range anywhere from chilly to down-right frigid! Unfortunately, this weekend has turned into the latter! After a healthy amount of snow, temperatures dropped to the single-digits!! Add in the infamous wind chill and we’re talking subzero temps! That’s right, it’s definitely turned into a sweatpants-wearing, blanket-snuggling, hot cocktail-drinking kind of day!

To celebrate being inside, I’ve come up with a delicious hot chocolate-based cocktail you can sip while you watch your favorite movie (or if you’re me, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and listen to the gentle hum of snow-plows outside.

This drink is seriously delicious! The mixture of salted-caramel Kahlua and hot chocolate is almost sinful! You can drink it as a dessert or whenever you need some added warmth during the winter months. If you really want to kick it up an extra notch, rim the glass with your favorite chocolate ganache (hot fudge and chocolate syrup also work) and top with a dollop of whipped cream! Excuse me while I go make another!

“Snowed In:” The Recipe

  • 1 cup hot chocolate*
  • 1.5 oz. Kahlua Salted Caramel
  • 1 oz. Dark Rum
  • Chocolate Ganache or Hot Fudge for rim (optional)
  • Whipped topping (optional)

*I made the hot chocolate with milk for extra richness (to me hot chocolate made with milk is like a warm hug…it just can’t be beat)

  1. Make hot chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl or cup and set aside
  2. If adding a chocolate rim to the glass do that now before adding any ingredients
  3. Add Kahlua and Rum to the glass
  4. Pour hot chocolate on top and stir
  5. Top with whipped cream and enjoy!

Leave a comment below if you’ve tried this, and share your own winter cocktail recipe!

Bottle Lamp

Make Your Own Gin-Bottle Accent Lamp

Let there be light!

After finishing a bottle of Four Flights gin, we felt the bottle was too pretty to throw away. With the front and side of the bottle picturing the different botanicals used in making the gin, we thought this would make a nice accent lamp. With very little time invested and materials used, we were able to make this beautiful DIY lamp. Keep reading to find out how to make your own, or visit the store to purchase one pre-made.

Before starting, get your materials ready

Required Materials:

  • Empty bottle (pick something pretty)
  • Battery powered LED lights (plug-in lights work as well if you leave enough cord outside the bottle plug them in)
  • Power drill
  • Glass cutting drill bit, sized about twice the diameter of the LED bulbs (we used 1/2″)
  • Sand paper
  • Super glue
  • Marker
  • Safety Equipment (Gloves, safety glasses, dust mask)

A note on safety: drilling through glass creates a fine dust that you don’t want to breathe in. It can also create flying shards of glass if you aren’t careful. Please be smart and wear a dust mask and eye protection.

To start, figure out which side will be the front of the lamp. Because we wanted both the front and left side of the bottle to show, we picked the back to be the right, rear corner. Hold your battery pack were it will sit on the back and mark where you want the wire to go through the bottle. In the picture above you can see the cross-hair about an inch above the battery pack, to keep the bend in the wire from being to sharp.

Drilling the hole

With the hole’s location marked, it is time to start drilling. Again, it is important to wear the proper PPE (personal protection equipment). You might notice the cordless drill sitting in the background in the picture above. We found the chuck of the cordless drill wobbled a bit, so we ended up using a corded drill, which gave a neater hole.

Make sure to read the directions that came with your glass-cutting bit. They often don’t like to spin at too high an RPM, or to spin without contacting a surface. There are several other tricks to drilling through glass. It is helpful to place a backing material behind the surface being drilled to prevent the glass from cracking. This is impractical when drilling through a bottle, as the back of the surface being drilled through is inside the bottle. Another tip is drill slowly, especially when you get close to breaking through to the other side. It is also helpful to stop frequently to remove any dust or debris from the hole

Now that we have our hole drilled, we can use some sandpaper to smooth out the edge. We can then feed the string of lights through, being sure to spread them around the interior of the bottle as we go. The last step is to glue the battery pack in place and let it dry

Now that the lamp is finished, the only thing left to do is find the perfect place for it, and light her up! Let us know if you made you own, and share some pictures below!

The finished product! What kind of bottle will you use?

Fall Cocktail

“Fall in New England” Cocktail

Frothy Goodness

We’ve been itching to make our own unique cocktail for awhile, one that you can’t find in any book – like those we usually use when we’re looking for a boozy weekend beverage.

To start, I took some of the things that Tim and I like the most. Two things that are delicious on their own, and would also make the perfect base for a delicious drink. For Tim, that’s rye whiskey. For me, that’s apple cider (and basically everything else relating to Fall).

After the base, I settled on maple syrup as my sweetener and a pinch of cinnamon because it just goes so well with the rest of the flavors!

Cocktail making goodies!

I was so proud of the cocktail that I made that I told my folks who instantly informed me that it sounded like another cocktail called the Bourbon Apple Cider Sour. Bummer! However, I decided that my drink was just different enough to warrant its own name: Fall in New England!

Fall in New England

1 ½ oz. Rye Whiskey
1 ½ oz. Apple Cider
⅓ oz. Lemon Juice
⅓ oz. Maple Syrup
1 Egg White*
Pinch of Cinnamon
Pinch of Nutmeg

*Note: If you wish to use prepared egg whites, use 1 oz.

Directions:
1. Dry shake (no ice) the first six ingredients in a cocktail shaker
2. Add ice to the shaker and shake
3. Strain into a chilled martini glass (or preferred cocktail glass)
4. Dust top with nutmeg

Drink up!

Please comment if you make this recipe and let us know what you think!


Holiday Bake-Off 2018

“Someone Spiked the Eggnog!” Cookie Cups

The people’s choice!

Jump to recipe

When I found out the company I work for had an annual holiday bake-off, I knew that I had to enter. But, with the judging categories including both festiveness and originality, I knew I couldn’t make just any holiday treat. So I set out to create the perfect holiday-inspired dessert in hopes of winning the competition! In the end I settled on the beloved Christmas drink, eggnog, but with an adult twist (because who doesn’t love booze in their baked goods?!).

Making the cookies…

These spiked eggnog cookie cups ended up taking home both second place, as well as people’s choice in the holiday bake-off! Next year, I’m going for the gold!

Someone Spiked the Eggnog Cookie Cups
Makes approximately 18 cups

Cookie Butter Cookie Cups:
1 ¾ cups All-purpose flour
1 tsp. Baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) Unsalted butter, softened
½ cup Light brown sugar, packed
½ cup Dark brown sugar, packed
¾ cup Biscoff (or preferred brand) cookie butter
1 egg
1 tsp. Vanilla extract

Eggnog Cheesecake Filling:
8 oz. Cream cheese, softened
½ cup Granulated sugar
¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. Eggnog
½ tsp. Ground nutmeg
2 pinches of Ground cinnamon
1 ½ Tbsp. Bourbon of choice

Bourbon Vanilla Whipped Cream (Stabilized):
4 tsp. Water
1 tsp. Gelatin (unflavored)
1 cup Heavy cream
¼ cup Powdered sugar
4 tsp. Bourbon of choice
1 tsp. Vanilla

For Cookie Cups:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease two regular-sized muffin pans
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Mix in cookie butter, egg, and vanilla until combined.
4. Add flour mixture in batches until combined, scraping sides of bowl as you go.
5. Place about two tablespoons of prepared dough into the muffin pans, and press down to flatten into the cup.
6. Bake for 8-10minutes, or until golden.
7. Allow to cool for a minute, then press down the center of the cup with a shot glass (orany small round bottom vessel). Continue to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

For Cheesecake filling:
1. Using a stand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
2. Add eggnog, nutmeg, cinnamon, and bourbon and mix until incorporated.
3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until slightly set.
4. Scoop or pipe into pre-cooled cookie cups, and refrigerate while preparing the whipped cream.

For Whipped Cream:
1. Gently heat water and gelatin in a small saucepot on the stove until gelatin is dissolved, stirring frequently.
2. Let cool, but do not let it solidify.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer* being whipping heavy cream and powdered sugar together.
4. Add in bourbon and vanilla, then add in cooled gelatin slowly while whisking.
5. Whip until stiff peaks form.
6. Pipe on top of filled cookie cups.

*Note: Whipped cream is best made with cold utensils and cold cream. Pre-cooling the bowl and whisks used for the cream is recommended. Simply place everything in the freezer for 10 minutes before using.
The finished product!