Saturday, July 9, 2016

Let them Eat Cake! A Marie Antoinette Bastille Day Dessert

 Maybe it's the fact that I'm an avid francophile or maybe it's just an excuse not to take down my red, white and blue decorations, but I've always greatly enjoyed celebrating France's festive Bastille Day, July 14th.
Marking the famous 1789 storming of the bastille prison, a symbol of the oppressive monarchy, this holiday featuring parades, parties and patriotism, commemorates what many think of as the start of the revolution and ousting of the "ancient regime"
Of course Marie Antoinette was a key player during this time and though many now believe she never actually uttered the famously insensitive words "Let them eat cake" when informed of the poors' bread shortage, it seems the phrase will forever, if unfairly, be linked to her. 
To honor this most stylish, extravagant and perhaps misunderstood royal, why not create a dessert in her likeness for a whimsical way to celebrate a 
Bon 14th Julliet!

Marie Antoinette "Let them Eat Cake" Cake
Who can forget oohing and aahing over that classic girl's birthday cake featuring a plastic doll with frosted dress at so many childhood parties. Still as popular today (Disney princesses anyone?), this "slightly" more grown up version uses the same concept with a dollar store doll spruced up with some paint and regal touches. 

For Marie Cake Topper
You'll Need
inexpensive plastic doll 
(I found this mermaid version at a dollar store)
crafty accents: Feathers, lace, sparkle etc
multi surface craft paint
I first removed her bottom half. Then using multi surface paint added some touches to her make-up 
(going more for 1789 than 1989)
I did her hair loosely in her signature pouf style and painted hair with a wash of white to simulate a powdered wig, adding some feathers and royal accents.
Paint and trim scraps become the bodice of her dress

for Cake
2 boxes Cake mix or homemade recipe
oven proof batter bowl and round baking dish or cake pan
I needed two cakes to create a taller "skirt" for better proportions for my doll but a shorter Marie may require just one batter bowl- simply measure first

With limited talent for scratch baking I opted for a store mix, French Vanilla seeming appropriate.
I prepared the two boxes of mix (one for the batter bowl), and one batch for the round pan 
Plus I had batter leftover for a pan mini cupcakes!
Keep an eye on the cakes and bake until done-
my batter bowl cake caved in slightly but worked fine
 the batter bowl mix took about 50 minutes while the others 20-30
once cooled I stacked the cakes and "glued" together with a dollop of ready made icing 
The bottom cake can be trimmed but I kept it as a little flounce

for decorations
icing glaze recipe
2 cups confectioner's sugar
6-8 teaspoons corn syrup
6-8 teaspoons milk
1/2 teaspoon desired flavoring  
spray coloring
ready made decorative icing
I had used the icing glaze and stencil technique previously in my Jane Austen tea party post.
Mix icing glaze  ingredients until blended and glossy, increasing corn syrup and milk if too thick
gently pour over cooled cake and let dry completely

gently lay doily over skirt, spray and then carefully lift

repeat on other areas of cake, shielding overspray with a paper plate

add some more ready made icing accents, sprinkles or candy cake decor touches
pop doll top onto chopstick or skewer and insert carefully into center of cake 
camouflage where doll and cake meet with some icing accents
made with images from the fabulous Graphics Fairy

cut out printable, tape onto skewer and insert
To preserve her dignity you can retire the cake to the kitchen to carefully remove Marie (she can be fragile) and cake sign and then slice onto individual dessert plates before serving

Of course the fun part is using your own creativity and favorite colors for the Queen's look. For fashion inspiration there are hundreds of images of the famous queen. 
These images are from my Pinterest page "let them eat cake".
 For sources and more images of Marie and her world click here
For unique and entertaining insight on this fascinating historic figure, find more info and fabulous podcasts at 
The History Chicks

Why not Put on some french music and serve with Champagne (of course) 
 and add some sparkly accents francais!



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Fourth of July Floats: Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream Treat

Funny to think that ice cream, the classic summer sweet we love so much today was also a favorite of our founding mothers and fathers. Benjamin Franklin, George and Martha Washington and Thomas Jefferson all indulged in the frosty novelty of the time. So what better treat to serve on America's Birthday than America's favorite dessert?
Where colonials laboriously hauled frozen blocks from their ice houses, for our version we'll take advantage of modern conveniences (the freezer) to whip up this easy four ingredient no churn recipe.
I used this deliciously simple recipe from the fabulous site instructables and decided to add some seasonal ripe cherries; yummy on it's own or nostalgic popped into tall fizzy float.

Cherry Vanilla No-churn Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
14 ounce can condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
10 ounce bag frozen cherries

Let cherries thaw just slightly and roughly chop in food processor or blender
some whole cherries may remain
Whip cream into soft peaks in chilled bowl 
stir vanilla thoroughly into condensed milk and fold into cream
gently stir cherries into mixture swirling but not over-mixing to combine in a marble pattern  
pour very gently into loaf pan and lightly smooth surface
(handle carefully to keep as much air as possible in the mixture)
I had enough ice cream to fill another small glass bowl (yay)
cover with plastic wrap and freeze 4-6 hours or overnight
let soften slightly before scooping

serve as is or top an icy coca-cola for a refreshing float

Ice cream fun facts 
The first American ice cream parlor opened in 1790 in New York City

Ice cream wasn't always a sweet treat! First Lady and avid ice cream fan Dolly Madison enjoyed oyster ice cream while other flavors included asparagus, parmesan and chestnut.

"Iced creams of great variety" were listed on the menu for a Pennsylvania Fourth of July celebration in 1791

Ice cream was such a hit that large estates including Mt. Vernon had their own ice cream machines

Ancient Romans enjoyed a version with ice brought down from mountain tops

I found these and more interesting information about food history plus an authentic historic recipe from Chef Walter Staib at the fascinating www.pbsfood

From our home to yours
Wishing our U.S. readers a 
Happy July Fourth
and our international readers
 a sweet summer!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Happy Memorial Day!

Wishing our US Readers 
A Happy Holiday Weekend!
PennyWise will be kicking off summer with new seasonal projects, DIY's and recipes so please check back!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Memorial Day: Colleville-sur-Mer American Cemetery

 Last Year I had the honor of visiting the beaches of Normandy, France and the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, a place of rest for those lost in Europe during World War Two. Although not typical of our posts, I thought Memorial Day a fitting time to share some photos of this both heartbreaking and breathtaking place.
 The bronze statue entitled Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves

 9,387 Americans of different faiths, including three women, rest here.

 The names 1,557 lost and not recovered are listed on the memorial wall circling the central garden. 
A time capsule with reports of the Normandy landings is sealed and buried by the visitor's center and is set to be opened June 6th 2044

The land is perpetually granted to the U.S. free of charge

Trees line the bluff overlooking the water. 
The grounds are impeccably maintained

 Approximately one million visitors a year pay tribute here

 Arromanches, France, outside the D-day Museum 

Bunker with wildflowers, Normandy France

Wishing all our U.S. readers
 Health and Happiness this 
Memorial Day
 to our readers overseas
a Happy Start to Summer

The graphics fairy

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Tea Cup Pin Cushion: DIY gift for Mom

No matter how old one gets, our mothers still seem to cherish most those gifts that are made by hand. So with Mother's day fast approaching I thought I'd whip up an easy DIY that combines two of my Mom's loves: sewing and tea.
During a recent window shopping venture I stumbled on the most delightful little teacup pincushions but with a less than delightful price tag I immediately thought of ways to recreate one at home. Although a quick search online revealed pages of how-to's for fun variations of this project, they all used the same basic elements, just personalized with favorite colors, styles or theme.
Not just for mothers or grandmothers, this is a sweet gift for anyone who enjoys sewing and cup of tea.
I used
a thrifted tea cup
a pot scrubby 
(you can also use fiberfill or a small pincushion if fits snugly)
scrap of fabric
tiny scissors
ribbon or trim

 wrap fabric around scrubby
secure with rubber band, trimming excess.
glue into cup and add trim and accents if desired
I added faux pearl trim and tiny flowers
a tag and mini scissors tied with ribbon makes a lovely (and handy) addition

I created tags with a vintage image from the fabulous the graphics fairy

A Happy Mother's Day
to Grandmothers, Godmothers, Stepmothers
Pet Mothers 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Colorful Cape May: Victorian Bird House

Admittedly one usually visits a beach resort for sun and sand more than history and Victorian architecture, but delightful Cape May NJ offers the best of both worlds.
 In fact some of my favorite times to visit are "off season"; and while a dip in the ocean might not be a possibility during these cooler months, the country's first "beach town" still offers plenty to see and do. 
A recent quick girl's Spring getaway found us enjoying a painting workshop at historic Congress hall, sampling fabulous seafood at the many restaurants and browsing for treasures at the countless colorful boutiques and antique shops.
photos: CPaul2016 starting top left, sweet treats, Spring at the Virginia hotel, Exit Zero newspaper office, Mad Batter restaurant and Carroll Villa Hotel, historic Congress Hall lobby and entrance, colorful shops, The blue Pig tavern, the famous Pink House, Angel of the sea B&B

The famous Pink house now sells estate jewelry
Naturally we arrived home inspired by Cape May's charm. 
Among the most distinctive features of this delightful town are the
"painted ladies". These whimsically adorned buildings, many historic, boast intricate "gingerbread" woodwork and often brilliant combinations of cheery candy colors, distinctive to the era. So with hints of Spring in the air, I thought I'd fashion my own painted lady in honor of my feathered friends here at home.

Victorian Inspired Birdhouse
 I used
a wooden birdhouse 
Most craft stores carry very inexpensive unfinished versions-
 or maybe redo a thrift find or birdhouse you already have that needs a facelift
colorful acrylic and craft paints
dimensional puffy paints
My birdhouse is for indoor decor so I'm not sure how it would hold up outside, but outdoor friendly paint is best if it will be in the elements
lace or trim
shells and sand 
spray varnish
I mix and matched pastel acrylics and chalky finish colors 
playful - not too perfect patterns add whimsy
Spray painting trim adds a smooth finish and makes it sturdier and easier to be added as "gingerbread woodwork" detail.
 I trimmed it to size and accented with contrasting colors and dimensional dots of paint.
a playful cat and simple bike add character
Shells and sand give a nod to the beach setting

To Happy Summer Days ahead
Thanks for Visiting!