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CAKES + desserts ENTERTAINING

Mini Sandwich Cake Ideas

victoria sponge cakes and mini sandwich cakes

For the hostess, serving individual cakes reduces the amount of work during a party. Plus, I feel that there is an elegance to miniature cakes that is hard to beat. Apparently, there is a tin that can help you with these creations. The key factor are the straight edges of a loose base mini sandwich cake tin. It is designed to create perfectly-formed miniature Victoria sponge cakes.

A baker shared a simple trick to avoid the mushroom effect. She suggests that you make a slight dent in the centre of each mixture with a teaspoon. I’m curious to see it in action.

miniature victoria sponge cakes

Whether it is for a tea party or for your holiday baking, you will find many miniature sandwich cake recipes at Lakeland.co.uk.

photo credits: Lakeland

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

Holiday Baking: From Snowflake Donuts to Snowman Cake Pops

snowflake donuts

Holiday baking is as much as decorating than the actual baking. These three desserts have the look and taste to impress your guests or your kids this holiday season.

Let’s start with my favorite one. Turning the regular round donuts into a snowflake is not complicated at all. To create the pattern, make 6 shallow cuts from the edge to the center of each round with a sharp paring knife.

candy-cane marshmallows
photo credits: Lisa Hubbard for Martha Stewart

An old recipe from Martha Stewart won my heart. Her Candy-Cane Marshmallows are peppermint marshmallows that get their red swirl from a quick marbleizing technique. People who tried the recipes reported excellent results.

snowman cake pops
photo credits: Lucia Puiggros via Amy Atlas blog

Lastly, if you are still into cake pops, you may to bake these cute snowman cake pops made by Laura and Maia from All You Need is Cupcake.

+ photo credits: Chris Court for Living etc. December 2012

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY decorations

Branch Holiday Decorations

modern holiday decorations with branches

Decorating with branches are easy. You can either pick some branches from your backyard and shop at a floral shop. I adore the minimalist festive look that they bring to any room. You can leave the branches naturally, paint them, or add an icing effect. Here are four stylish ways to decorate your home with branches this holiday season.

Modern Decor

+ top photo credits: David Fenton for Sunset magazine

I adore the “Floating in thin air” effect of branch decorations over a dining table. It is simple to create this look with a fishing line. I usually prefer to hang it from a light pendant or another strong structure rather than to do a hole in my ceiling. So, look at what are your options before you install a C hook.

For a maintenance- free berry style ornament, hang red miniature balls on a bunch of branches. Put everything in a vase. It creates the illusion of

White Wonderland

white wonderland christmas decorations for a mantel
photo credits: Angus Fergusson for House and Home

You can never go wrong with a white wonderland decor. This silver and white tableau for a mantel is so beautifully done. Putting more ornaments inside two Mason jars illustrates how you can use any containers that you already have and still produce a stylish vignette.

Stylish Black

branches in a jar
photo credits: Paper Flower Girl as seen in House and Home 

Black is trendy right now. I stop counting how many interiors I haver seen lately in magazines around the world with black walls. You could use sugar in the kitchen glass jar to simulate snow. It doesn’t matter if the jar has an attached cover.

It is hard for me to pick a favorite. Do you have a favorite?

HOLIDAY decorations

A Round-Up of DIY Wall Christmas Trees

branch christmas tree

Whether it is because you don’t have the space to put a big Christmas tree or to use as a secondary tree, wall Christmas trees provide lots of possibilities to be creative with your holiday decorations. I created this round-up to highlight your options.

Lorena of Lalole likes to make craft projects out of her reclaimed wood. For her Christmas tree project, she upcycles woods that you typically found on the beach. The sticks are held together with sisal rope. Wash and let them first. The STRÅLA light chain at IKEA is similar to the snowflakes garland that she used to decorate her stick Christmas tree. Add white pompoms are your done.

mashi tape christmas tree
photo credits: Bodie and Fou

The easiest project is to draw a modern Christmas tree on your wall. Use metallic gold washi tape or glitter tape available in gold, silver evergreen, spinach and peacock. The tone on tone refines the design.

geometric paint chip chistmas tree

Designer, crafter, and maker Lisa Tilse created a geometric paint chip Christmas tree. You could reproduce her concept with gift wrapping paper, scrapbooking paper or other coloured paper. Visit her blog, The Red Thread, for the tutorial.

String Art Christmas Tree and Card Display
photo credits: My Poppet

The next project can be your holiday card display. It can also be a message center for all your holiday plans. Head to My Poppet to learn how to make Cintia’s string art Christmas tree.

christmas tree decal
photo credits: Subhuti Etsy seller

On Etsy, Subhuti was selling a Christmas tree self-adhesive vinyl decal with 8 Christmas balls. You could use it as inspiration to make your own with your kids.

Any of these are simple projects that you can make this weekend. And they will leave you plenty of time to do other things.

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY decorations

My Holiday Décor Started with an Evergreen Bouquet

christmas bouquet

christmas bouquet

I like to integrate small holiday elements into my home décor. Here is an evergreen bouquet that I put next to my yellow green vase collection. To complement my vase collection, I put my bouquet inside a tall and narrow glass container that I cover with holiday gift wrap paper.

What is important when you design an evergreen bouquet is to play with textures. To achieve that result, I  looked outside the local conifers. I am sorry that I didn’t write down the different leaves but I know that several species are from the United States, the red berries are from Netherlands and the pine leaves are from Quebec. I bought them at Atwater farmers market. When you make your selection, stay with the same tones. Some conifers have yellow tones, others have blues.

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

Pumpkin & Fennel Dukkah recipe

dukkah

Pumpkin & Fennel Dukkah recipe

I continue my series on easy holiday entertaining ideas with a Canadian twist on a popular Egyptian spice blend. This dukkah recipe replaces the traditional hazelnuts, pistachios and sesame seeds with pumpkin seeds and almonds or pine nuts.

When people asked me what they should keep in their pantry to be ready to entertain, dukkah naturally comes in mind. While your guests are enjoying a glass of wine or your welcome cocktail, cut a baguette, pour some olive oil in a large plate or an oil serving bowl, and serve dukkah in a low bowl. You dip bread into olive oil, then into the nut mixture. I have to warn you to make plenty since dukkah can become addictive. Leftovers can be stored into a airtight container for a month. Another easy to make appetizer is to cover goat cheese balls with dukkah.

Pumpkin & Fennel Dukkah recipe by Josee Robitaille

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) almonds or pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) sesame seeds
  • 4 teaspoons (20 ml) fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) sea salt

How to make it

dukkah preparation

  • Preheat your oven at 350 °F (180°C)
  • Grill the pumpkin seeds and almonds on a cookie sheet for 4 to 6 minutes (until they are lightly golden)
  • Deposit the sesame seeds into another cookie sheet and grill for 3 to 4 minutes (until they are lightly golden)
  • Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let cool completely
  • Deposit the fennel seeds into a pan and roast them 3 to 4 minutes at a medium heat. Then, remove from oven and let cool completely.
  • Pulse the pumpkin seeds and the pine nuts in the small bowl of a food processor to a coarse consistency. Be careful, it should not become a paste. Another option is to chop them with a knife.
  • Grind or place in a mortar and pestle the fennel seeds and pound until the mixture is crushed
  • Mix all the ingredients in a bowl

Voilà! Put another batch into a Mason jar, attach a gift tag and you will have a tasty hostess gift ready to bring during the holiday season.

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY decorations

At the Launch of a 2.0 Christmas Tree

christmas tree video games played on tablets at place montreal trust

christmas tree 2.0 at place montreal trust

Last night, my son and I attended a Christmas tree reveal party. The Christmas tree at Place Montreal Trust is 2.0; it is social and playful. The 75 feet high tree is decorated with big screens that display Christmas themed video games that are currently played by visitors. You can play at one of the 9 electronic tablets located at the food court level. Every Thursday between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., visitors are invited to tweet their Holiday wishes at #sapinpmt. The tweets will be displayed on the giant screen at the base of the tree.

christmas tree video games played on tablets at place montreal trust

Finishing the games could make a difference in the life of many sick kids. From November 15 to December 4, Place Montréal Trust will donate $1 per completed game to the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation, up to $1,000 per day. Make sure to stop by and play for a while. The games are designed to be easily played by young kids. So if you are in Montreal, have a look at this new concept of Christmas trees.

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

Holiday Cards for Modern Design Lovers

modern holiday cards

modern holiday cards
sourcing: Hip X-mas greeting cards | Mod Homestead gift tags (mini-notes) | Biltzen (deck the antler) At Fabulous Stationery

Personalized holiday cards usually say something about you. I like it when people can guess that it is for me. This is why I adore the cool illustrations at Fabulous Stationery. Their collection would appeal to an interior design, a decor store or a design-savvy family. A nice feature is that any of the patterns can be used for gift tags. It would be more original to select illustrations that share the same theme instead of picking exactly the same.

The last two models (see bottom montage) would make party invites that people will not want to miss.

modern holiday greeting cards
sourcing: Tweet | Goody GumdropsGlam Greetings

Do you still order personalized holiday cards?

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY decorations

10 Stunning Christmas Stockings

Scandi Stripe Stocking

After the tree and the wreath, Christmas stockings top  my holiday essentials. These 10 of my favorite stockings explore a variety of designs. From a Scandinavian design, to a rustic take up to richly embroidered holiday stockings, make your pick.

What I like about this first composition is the fact that you can mix and match stockings. But I might put them as close to an open fire.

fair isle christmas stockings
Velvet Cuff with Faux-fur stocking and Chunky Cable Knitted Stocking $39.50 USD each at Pottery Barn

There are more to nordic stockings than the knitted stockings. Here is a stylish interpretation of nordic design.

Scandi Stripe Stocking
Scandi Stripe Stockings
£ 22 at Notonthehighstreet.com

loomed and looped stocking
Red Loomed & Looped Stocking
$48 USD at Anthropologie

These simple white dove stockings with seasonal greens and shapes feel right at home in a family room.

caroline stockings
Caroline stocking
$19.95 USD at Crate & Barrel

Sometimes all that you need is a simple statement.

personalized burlap stockings
Personalized Burlap Holiday Stocking
$22 USD by DesignbyNancyT on Etsy

I prefer the mix and match option for these stripe holiday stockings.

red or green stripe holiday stockings
Red or Green Stripe Holiday Stockings
$72 for 4 by DesignbyNancyT on Etsy

The next stockings are way more than I would be willing to pay for a Christmas stocking, but I couldn’t resist the Swarovski crystals.

luxurious velvet Christmas stockings
Hand-Painted Velvet Christmas Stockings
 By Jay Strongwater $595 USD at Neiman Marcus

Since every family member needs a stocking, do not forget to pick stockings for your pets.

holiday stockings for cats and dogs
Fishbone Christmas Stocking
and Dog Bone Christmas Stocking $7.99 each at World Market

If money was no object, which one is your favorite Christmas stocking?

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY decorations

Halloween Pumpkin Ideas from the 2012 Great Pumpkin Ball

mascarade automnale

Kim in front of the biggest pumpkin contest
photographed in front of the biggest pumpkin winner. Its weights 1,630 pounds!

Each year, Montréal Botanical Garden organized the Great Pumpkin Ball. Visitors can admire the best decorated pumpkins made by the participants aged 6 years and up. We saw the exhibition last Friday with my son’s day care. If you are in town, the Great Pumpkin Ball is open until October 31st.

Topics were diverse. Recurring ideas include comic characters, superheros, sports and TV personalities.

garfield pumpkin
Garfield pumpkin from the 6 to 12 years old category

spider smurf pumpkin
Spider smurf pumpkin from the 6 to 12 years old category

Amongst the classic Halloween themes, I particularly enjoy the Dracula pumpkin, the magician and the beautiful mask lady pumpkin.

dracula pumpkin
Dracula pumpkin decorated by a family

mummy pumpkin
Mummy pumpkin from the 13 to 17 years old category

magician pumpkin
Magician pumpkin 

mascarade automnale
This masked lady pumpkin won first prize in the adult category

I will return to the Great Pumpkin Ball next year to admire the craft projects of our youth.

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

Gross and Realistic Brain Cakes for Halloween

zombie brain cake details

zombie brain cake details
photo credits: Blog d’inspiration of Canal Vie

Beware that these Halloween cakes ideas are not for the squeamish type. Since being scare is part of the appeal of Halloween, maybe you should dare a peek. If you are up for it, these Halloween brain cakes will be the talk of the night.

Brain Cakes for Adults

zombie brain cake
photo credits: Blog d’inspiration of Canal Vie

The first cake gave me chills. It looks so amazing that I had to share it even though the recipe is only in French. I give a big applaud to Madame Carrée who shaped the brain with marshmallows, icing sugar, raspberry coulis and a few more ingredients for Blogue d’inspiration.

brain cupcakes
photo credits: Not Quite Nigella

Lorraine Elliott, a cake and food enthusiast who writes Not Quite Nigella, shared how to make her Blood Clot and Brain Cupcakes for an Happy Friday the 13th party. She made it more grotesque by hiding a blood clot inside her cupcakes. The blood effects on the knife adds to the scene.

Halloween Brain Cakes for Kids

brain in a jar cupcake

For kids that are old enough to not have nightmares about it, you can creep them out with these Brain cupcakes in a jar made by Kristan of Confessions of a Cookbook Queen for Living Locurto. Kristan gave good tips that make the brain frosting simple. To reduce the amount of frosting, she placed a piece of cake in the middle.

To complete the look, make sure to download the free Halloween Brains in Jar Labels & Tags available at Living Locurto or to design your own.