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Strawberry Vanilla Bean Layer Cake with Recipe

June 7th was my friend Carl's birthday, but he was away that weekend and had a show the following weekend, so we celebrated with dinner and dessert at my place.

For dessert I made this awesome cake from a recipe that came from my great grandmother's recipe box, which my uncle scanned and put into a binder for me.

The cake is called "Happy Day Cake" and has a notation that it originally came from Mrs. Gallagher. Granted, I have no idea who Mrs. Gallagher is (or more likely was) but thank you for the recipe, Mrs. Gallagher!

2 1/2 cups flour (i used cake flour to make it lighter and fluffier)
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla (I substituted the contents of 2 vanilla beans)
2 eggs
7/8 cup milk

Instructions: Combine flour, baking powder, salt in medium mixing bowl. Combine remaining ingredients in large mixing bowl, stirring thoroughly to incorporate.

Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until no lumps remain. Do not overmix or the batter will take on a more bread-like texture. We're aiming for light and fluffy.

The rest of the instructions were rather vague! But, I've made cakes before, so this is my interpretation from here out. All I was given for instructions was the following:
Bake in moderate oven (375 degrees)

Ok, can do. How long though?

I baked mine in parchment-lined 9 inch pans for half an hour, which was ok, but turned out to be just a tad too long. I'd say check it at 20, but definitely remove by 25 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and cake top is springy.

I cooked just past this stage, which was still delicious, but was a tiny bit dry and a little too golden on the edges of the cake. I'll probably try this recipe again another time with an altered bake time.

Once the cakes were cooled, I sliced them horizontally down the center, iced the inside of each cut layer, and assembled as such:

Bottom half of one cake, cut side up. Frost. Add thinly sliced strawberries. Frost cut side of top half, layer frosted side down. Frost baked top. Place top half of next cake onto bottom layers, cut side up. Frost cut side, then layer sliced strawberries. Frost the remaining bottom half of the cake on the cut side, then place frosted side down.

You may need to support the cake by adding bamboo skewers cut to size. Place cake in the freezer for a little while to harden layers, then frost entire cake. Decorate with remaining strawberries.

Pink Sweetie Patchwork Yarn - Hand Spun by Megan LaCore

This yarn channels my inner girlie girl. There's really not much else to say about the design than that!

Patchworked pinks and reds make me want patent leather shoes and lacy skirts. Something floral. Yes, floral.

Cherries and Lemonade Patchwork Yarn - Hand Spun by Megan LaCore

This yarn is crisp and exciting, summery and sweet. Reminds me of eating cherries from my parents' tree with a glass of fresh lemonade. Yum yum!

One of my best girl friends loved it too! So much so that she nabbed it. :) Maybe she'll send me a picture of it when she uses it. Right now it's in a cute little bowl on her dresser. I guess yarn = home decor too, right? Right.

Purple Heather Merino Patchwork Yarn - Hand Spun by Megan LaCore

My absolute favorite from the group of patchwork yarns I made while waiting for my first large quantities of wool to spin. The dark purple and grey are merino, while the light purple was a different, slightly coarser wool. There really wasn't much of it, so I worked it in here and there.

Only about 32 yards of this stuff, though it was pretty dang cute.

I love how this crocheted up, too. I'll post a photo of the final result when I finish it.

Funky Jester Patchwork Yarn - Hand Spun by Megan LaCore

While waiting for my first order of roving, I ended up spinning everything I had at home, which basically meant my entire felting roving stash and several plastic bags at home. Since I didn't have much of any particular roving color, I put together a lot of patchwork yarns that week. Here's one of them, Funky Jester.

Wool of some unknown type. Pretty though! There's others, too. :)

Teal Merino Yarn - Hand Spun by Megan LaCore

This is a very energetic little single, hand spun on my drop spindle. The roving was a pre-dyed teal Merino, and this little guy ended up soft as could be. Not a whole lot here, only about 27 yards. Enough to have a little fun with though!

Because Kesa is a Muffin Top

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

And she knows she's cute.

Basic Bead Stringing Jewelry and Clasp Tutorial

This tutorial is going to go over the principles behind stringing a basic single- or multi-strand piece of beaded jewelry, strung on beading wire. The main purpose of this lesson is to learn to attach a clasp to beading wire by means of a bead tip.

Crimp Pliers
Needle Nose Pliers
Round Nose Pliers
Multi Strand Beading Wire such as Soft Flex or Acculon
Two-Part Clasp
Jump Rings
Sterling Silver Crimp Beads
Crimp Bead Covers
Beads (I'm using the needle felted bead cabochons from my tutorial as the focal beads for this bracelet)

First, take your length of wire and tie a knot. For a single strand piece of jewelry, tie the knot an inch to two inches down the length. For a double strand, tie your knot in the center of the length of wire. Good beading wires (which are made up of many smaller bundles of extremely thin wires) are very flexible and will hold a knot easily. Those with less, bigger base wires are less flexible and should be avoided. I usually use Acculon or Soft Flex.

Feed both ends of wire through the hole in the bottom-clamp bead tip. Slide tight against knot.

Next you're going to string a sterling silver crimp bead over the two ends of wire. I always use sterling silver or gold filled crimp beads, even when working with plated metals. Plated base metal crimp beads are available, but the metals are not as malleable, and have a tendency to create weak points when crimping that can break later on, especially if supporting a heavy piece of jewelry. If anyone has had a bracelet or necklace break at this stress point before, you know that it can make a big mess, and be very sad!

Create bend in crimp bead
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Using the back, u shaped section of your crimping pliers, create a rounded fold in the crimp bead that will begin the tightening around the wires. Place the side of the pliers that creates the divot in the bead on the underside of the bead tip so that the seam is on the bottom of the bracelet.

Pull the ends of wire into the separate sides of the crimp bead, the bend separating them. Place the front, rounded section of the crimp pliers on the sides of the bent crimp bead, the side with the bend facing out. Slowly squeeze using light pressure until the bead closes in on itself most of the way. Rotate the pliers so the seam is against the inside of the rounded section and tighten the rest of the way, creating a nice cylindrical tightened crimp bead.

Close bead tip
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Close the rounded sides of the bead tip with the front, rounded section of the crimp pliers. Be careful not to squeeze too hard and dent the sides. Tighten the hinged bottom with needle nose pliers, and re tighten the bead tip sides if needed.

Attach Clasp
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Close loop on hook at top of bead tip using round nose pliers. Open a jump ring by twisting sideways (NOT pulling apart, which distorts the shape of the ring), slide one end of a clasp (I'm using a lobster claw clasp here) onto one side and place the other side through the loop on the bead tip. Twist the jump ring closed tightly. Usually I have to twist just past what looks matched up to get it to close nice and evenly.

Add a crimp bead cover and slide it down over your tightened crimp bead. This is optional, but really gives a finished look to your jewelry ends. A crimp bead cover is an open, hollow metal bead that hides your crimp bead. Once it is slid over the crimp bead, carefully close the bead, either using needle nose pliers (very gently) or using the rounded front section of your crimp pliers. I tend to use both, using the round end of the crimp pliers to close it most of the way, and the needle nose to tighten up the seam the rest of the way.

At this point, you can string your piece of jewelry as you wish. When you get to the end of your piece, string a crimp bead and then a bead tip with the clamshell facing away from the bead. If you've done a double strand bracelet as I have here, string these onto both wires.

Tie your bead wire as before, tightening the knot deep into the cup of the bead tip. If you have one strand, tweezers can be a big help here. Once the knot is tied, slide the end(s) of the wire back through the bead tip, the crimp bead, and a few of the beads down the end of the piece of jewelry.

As before, tighten crimp bead over wire and close bead tip. Add a crimp bead cover to finish the look of the bracelet by hiding the crimp bead. Create a loop in the top hook of the bead tip with round nose pliers, and add a jump ring or a length of chain or chained jump rings, then your other end of your clasp. In this case, a large jump ring acts as my closing end of my clasp.

Here's our finished bracelet! Close your piece of jewelry using the clasp, wear, and enjoy!

Orange and Gold Superwash Wool Yarn - Hand Spun and Dyed by Megan LaCore

I never got a photo of this whilst spinning, or even fresh off the spindle, but here is my first hand spun, hand dyed yarn while dying. You can see the water is just starting to turn clear, meaning the yarn has fully absorbed the dye. I started with superwash wool so I wouldn't accidentally felt my yarn (which I did a few dye batches after this one, but it knit up ok anyway). I like the rich, deep yellows and hints of sunny yellows.

Here's the freshly dyed skein, hanging on the door at my friend's house to dry. It's not being weighted as to not set the twist yet.

Here's my finished yarn after thread-plying with metallic gold thread and all twisted up. Not bad for a beginner!

Here's my pretty new yarn hanging out in my garden, encouraging the sugar snap peas to grow! Look at those vibrant colors, and how the metallic thread sparkles and shimmers! I love this yarn. :)

oh HALP i falled and cant get up - lazy cat

It's a rough life when you're this cute. There's just no relief. Oh Diz, you're such a cute little kitty.

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