Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer Berry Basket Cake: Fourth of July Dessert

Nothing says summer like a basket of freshly picked ripe berries!
 And when the basket is really a cookie covered confection, it adds even more sweetness to your next seasonal party or Fourth of July celebration. 
For this easy DIY dessert you can use a homemade cake recipe, box mix, or even store-bought cake depending on time and baking skills (mine are marginal so I opted for help from Betty Crocker)

You'll Need
Your favorite flavor cake in appropriate size/shape
 (I used round but a square basket would be great too)
Pirouette cookies or any rolled cookie with open center
Any flavor and color frosting thick enough to secure cookies
 (I used a quick homemade butter icing)
Assorted fresh berries
Lightweight bendable wire or cut coat hanger
Mint leaves for garnish
melted jam if desired
Frost sides and top of cakes. Using a serrated knife, trim cookies to desired size. 
Save cut ends to use as basket handle
Arrange pirouette cookies pressing firmly into frosting
Rinse and dry berries thoroughly on paper towel.
 I tied a ribbon accent around cake for added flair and to help secure cookies
 Thread leftover cut cookie ends onto wire to form basket handle. 
Insert ends of wire into cake.
Arrange berries on top (I filled the hole in cake center with berries to level surface) Add mint leaves if desired.
 Berries can be brushed with melted jam if desired to preserve freshness or can be served immediately as is.
Display with festive accents and serve with ice cream

PennyWise Tip
This cake can be adapted to a variety of occasions.
For summer birthdays add a fun scrapbook birthday banner or for a floral version great for a tea party or Mother's Day, in place of fruit, simply pipe frosting roses or add sugar flowers to basket.

 For more July fourth ideas check out our fun Patriotic Candy Cones and healthy and sweet Watermelon cake from our A red, white and blue birthday post

Wishing our U.S. readers a very 
Happy July Fourth
to our friends across the pond
Happy Summer!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A little bit Country: A day at the Country Living Fair

Breezy Banners welcome visitors
How delighted I was to be included in a Hometalk VIP Blogger meet and greet at this year's Country Living Fair in Rhinebeck New York. 
This 3 day event magically brings the pages of this lovely magazine to life with barns filled with artists and vendors, demonstrations, HGTV celebs, music, adorable 4H farm animals and classic fair food. Not surprisingly, it did not disappoint.
Only able to visit for an afternoon, but with trusty camera at the ready, I snapped away and thought I'd share some photos which I thought captured the many interpretations of country style.
Used to be, the term "country" brought to mind primitive painted farm animals, rustic color palettes of barn reds and forest greens, cheerful checkerboard patterns and authentic farmhouse furniture. 
While this traditional style will continue to charm, for some time now, new adaptations of "country" decor have been taking center stage: farmhouse furniture is repainted in fresh vivid colors, "industrial" rusty and repurposed finds are displayed as art, romance rules with the "shabby" cottage look in creams and whites or utilitarian textiles are re-imagined as upholstery or pillows.
While my own style could be termed "eclectic" (undecided) I found myself completely smitten with the variety of beautifully crafted displays of "country" furnishings, art and antiques.
Some of my Favorites…..
From buttons to bureaus: cheery vibrant hues add a colorful punch

a soothing palette of cottagey creams and ivories

Country goes elegant with European influences 

From bits of old license plates to giant vintage movie reels, aged metals add subtle sheen and dare we say, hipness?

*Please note: Although I asked permission to photograph these wares, I wasn't able (or organized enough) to gather contact info. 
Happily, links to vendors and more info can be found at

above photos CPaul2014

The charming Cari Cucksey of HGTV's Cash & Cari
let guests try out a fabulous line of paints and stains (I'm in love with the turquoise) and patiently answered questions and posed for pics with fans
 (of course my camera battery had tuckered out by this point)

New to Hometalk?
It's a wonderful community of home and garden enthusiasts, decor and landscape professionals and DIY bloggers.
Get inspired: oodles of ideas from practical plumbing to designer decor
 Post a question: what color should I paint this? How do I grow roses?…..
 & share your projects: Check out my: cabinet redo, flea market find, herb garden…..
Find Pennywise posts and lots more on

Delightful Fellow Hometalk bloggers, Country Living's EIC Rachel Hardage Barrett and Hometalk Director of Community development Miriam Illions

What a fun way to spend a day!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Springtime in Paris: DIY Eiffel Tower from Garden Trellis

Everyone has a favorite vacation memory but part of the joy of traveling is bringing back a little inspiration from places you've visited; whether recreating an authentic recipe, displaying souvenir photos or even recreating an iconic but very downsized landmark to enjoy on your own home turf. 
With a few easy to find craft and garden supplies, and for less than the price of a box of gourmet macarons, you can create your very own, albeit significantly smaller Eiffel Tower.

Hard to believe this iconic structure was created only as a temporary entrance to the 1889 worlds fair. Ironically over a century later, Gustav Eiffel's initially maligned tower, called "useless and monstrous" by some protesters, is now a symbol synonymous with Paris itself and one of the most recognizable landmarks around the globe.

Though not for every decor, Our more petit "Tour Eiffel" would be a fun accent for a Francophile's room, accent for a French themed party (think Bastille Day!), or perhaps just a fun way to bring a little joie du vivre to your home.

It seems the Eiffel Tower and everything Paris is all the rage right now and although you can buy an endless variety of Eiffel towers in countless shops and online sites, I thought creating my own would be lots of fun.

You'll Need:
 Wooden plant trellis-
 (I got mine by Garden Treasures at Lowes, the shape was perfect and it was on sale!)
 French Printable
 Assorted Decorative lace and edging 
 Square wire wreath frame -(in floral section of craft stores)
 Wood laser cut accent frame (craft store 99 cents)
 Sheet of plastic canvas 
 Metallic spray paint- 
I used brushed nickel by Krylon and a shinier Rustoleum chrome
 Washi or thin painters tape
 acrylic paint and glitter glue for accents
wide ribbon or paper printout of flag, if desired

Set up trellis according to directions (super easy) and slip wire frame over top so it rests evenly. 
Spray paint first light coat of desired color(s) I chose a satin nickel metallic and chrome randomly layered, but you could get creative with a kitschy bright pink, an elegant glimmering gold, or the French flag colors of red white and blue: anything goes!
Add accents I'd never used the wildly popular paper or washi tape and it didn't adhere to this wood surface all that well, but with a few dabs of hot glue we were good to go and it stood up to the final spray paint coat perfectly.
lace, edging and plastic canvas create details

While trellis is drying, you can spray paint any lace and accents with matching color. After measuring, I cut an arch out of plastic canvas and hot glued the lace accent to edge. I cut notches in the lace so it would follow arch.
Please Note: Architects and engineers -since this is such an instantly identifiable landmark and our version is just a whimsical interpretation, I didn't worry all that much about architectural accuracy. Using hot glue and artistic license, I simply attached lace, tape and plastic canvas until I was happy with the design.
 Final touches: I gave it one more more even spritz of spray paint, some quick crisscross marks in grey craft paint and added a celebratory "plaque" as a finishing touch.
                                                    created using images from graphics fairy

A flag cut from ribbon sits atop a painted "chopstick" pole
You can add a spritz of clear coating to help protect tower when it makes outside appearances for parties or picnics on the patio but should be kept indoors long term.
 Display indoors with French themed accessories

or bring out doors for a Parisian picnic

a wicker basket and souvenirs
 vintage luggage, a petit bike and wine for deux
or after dark add a holiday globe to give a romantic glow

Love all things Paris? You might enjoy my 

Eiffel Tower lamp in Paris Window CPaul2013

Thanks for visiting!

photo cpaul2013