Sunday, July 11, 2010

Quick Projects: Chalkboard Frame and Chocolate Frosting

Wow.  Busy, busy times at our house.  It's been a very fun and full few weeks around here, with more busy days to come.  I'm hoping to play some intense catch-up this week, and dive right in with both feet next week-- the end of summer is fast approaching, and I have a lot left to squeeze in!

This was such a fast, cheap and easy project that I had to share.  Often at thrift stores you find really large frames with really, really ugly fake oil portraits printed on cardboard.  I see one or two a week, usually for under $10.  I picked up this one, which used to be a truly unfortunate picture of deer involving a lot of harvest gold and orange, for $8.  The frame is big-- 4 feet by 3 feet or so. 

After popping out the "painting" and slapping on a couple of coats of chalkboard paint and giving the frame a quick spray of gold spray paint, it looked like this:

When it's not doing duty out as a sign, it hangs in our powder bath as a fun place for us to leave notes for each other, or for our guests to grafitti a hello.

Grady has realized recently that there is such a thing as birthday parties, and he wanted one of his very own.  But mid-winter birthday parties at home with lots of little boys running around = no fun for Mommy.  Our new tradition was born this weekend-- the Half-Birthday Party.  An easy summer cookout with sprinklers and races on the tricycle track for the kids and cold beer and good conversation for the adults, topped off with homemade cupcakes.  Fun times were had by all!

This cute little plant stand, bought the morning of the party for $2 at a yard sale, made a fantastic beverage station on the deck. 

I found chalkboard fabric at Joann's and got a little carried away making tags.  I think there will be some serious labeling going on at my house in the next few weeks.

This half-birthday boy was very pleased with the whole thing.  He liked it all, from the hats, to the balloons, to the wading pool to the cupcakes, of which he ate two, one chocolate, one vanilla.

I made my all-time favorite chocolate frosting, a recipe passed down from the parent of a former student.  It's awfully yummy-- we made a batch of chocolate and a batch of white chocolate. And now you can, too.
Sybils' Chocolate Frosting

4 oz unsweetened chocolate (Baker's)  (3T. of semi or bittersweet chocolate=1 square of baker's)

1/2 cup butter (the real thing, not a substitute)

1 pound 10 X confectioners sugar

dash of salt

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 - 1/3 cup milk (whole is best :) )

Melt chocolate and butter together (I use a double boiler, but if you are really careful you can microwave it in 10 second intervals, stirring between, until the butter and chocolate are melted.)

Put sugar, salt and vanilla into Cuisinart (you can use a hand mixer, but I have found the Cuisinart works far better), add chocolate mixture and mix.  (I used my stand mixer and all was well.  I've never been sure if Cuisinart meant food processor or mixer.)

Add enough milk to make spreading consistency you can manage; you have to work quickly here, because as the frosting cools, it becomes difficult to spread, tearing the cake. One trick is to get the milk to room temp before adding it. Once you get good at it, cold milk is fine.

This recipe frosts a batch of 24 cupcakes with a tad left over, but I make 1 1/2 recipes when I'm frosting a layer cake.  Yum, yum, yum.


Joy said...

Look how big JH is getting! I'm so sad we missed this! I know Finn would have had a blast. We WILL get together soon!

Courtney at Scattering Lupines said...

Such a handsome little boy! I love your idea of making a chalkboard from an old "painting." I always see them in the thrift stores and think, "Surely there's something I could do with that..."

Gremlina said...

yum!! chocolate...& I LOVE the labels/chalk board. I'm totally going to copy you there.

brown robin said...

Seriously... don't take any offense from this, but that is all so amazingly Southern and sweet. I loved every ounce of this post. I just wanted to go to the library and check out all my Southern favorite authors or go find sweet cold tea. I couldn't decide which one. I will definitely be keeping in mind that deer frame when I thrift, though. Happy half-birthdays to your sweet boys! They grow so fast, don't they?