Reclaiming Roadside Treasures

We, like most young people in Toronto, live in an apartment building. Our apartment, like most in the city, has minimal storage space. Until far too recently, we kept our service wear on top of the cupboards in our kitchen. Not only was this extremely ugly, but it was also counter productive: before AND after each time something was used it needed to be scrubbed on account of the dust and kitchen scum. Scrub, serve, scrub, scrub, serve. I can think of at least 6 other things I would rather do than wash dishes.

So, naturally,  you can imagine the excitement on the day I discovered a corner shelving unit sitting on the side of the road. As you do, I stood awkwardly and “defended” my treasure, while frantically calling upstairs for help (and possibly approval). Beginning to end the whole project took a single Saturday afternoon and less than $40 to complete. What is it they say about another man’s trash…?

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What you’ll need:

– reclaimed/new wood shelving unit
– newspaper
– sand paper
– elastic band
– matte all purpose paint (let them know you are using it in your kitchen when you purchase – they will tell you what you  need)
– paint brush(es)

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– Wipe down your shelves (especially if you’ve taken them from the side of the road…) with soap and water
– Sand out any imperfections (or mould spots – ew) on your unit and wipe down again with a damp cloth
– Let dryIMG_3206

– Handy trick: put an elastic band around the middle of your paint can (ooooohhhhhh)

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– Use said elastic band to wipe paint from your brush to avoid uneven distribution (aaaahhhhhh)

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– Let your shelves dry between each coat of paint (about 1 hour)
– Continue to apply coats of paint until your shelves have sufficient coverage (about 3 coats)
– Let dry for 24 hours before moving into place and stocking your shelves

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Watermelon Cake: Prettier on Pinterest…

CAKEThe inspiration (photo used with permission)

Last week was my fiancé’s birthday and each year since we have been together I have made him something special for dessert. This year, with our wedding in September, my future mother-in-law has taken to reminding everyone that “we want to be wedding ready” – aka watch what you’re all eating so you don’t panic in August! While my family has always been a fruit for dessert – if anything – kind of bunch, Bobby’s has more of a sweet tooth. I was cruising around Pinterest in the weeks before, racking my brain for a delicious but healthy recipe that would allow him to literally have his birthday cake and eat it too. I saw the most beautiful cake made entirely from watermelon, berries, and icing – “how hard could it be?!” I said to myself, “quick and easy!” I said to myself, “you’re a genius!” I said to myself. Well…as it turns out: harder that I had originally thought but just as delicious as I had hoped. Below is my step by step process for how to make your very own Watermelon Cake – cautionary commentary and suggestions included!

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The beginning of your process is the same as that part from any cooking show you watched as a kid, when the host says “for this portion of the project you’re going to need an adult…”. I am clearly not an adult and sure as heck hate knives (again – what made you think this was a good idea?!) Enter Bobby.

To start, you (or your adult) are going to prepare your watermelon:

– Cut off two ends of your rind to form a *very* flat top and bottom for your cake. Trust me, you will need the stability when icing – she’s a slippery one.

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Next, you are going to skin your watermelon and decide on your cake’s shape. Feel free to keep it round or cut the sides down into more of a rectangular shape. Heck, get crazy, cut that rectangle in half, and you’ve got yourself two square cakes!

– Carefully cut the rind off in sections, pointing the knife away from you, in a downward motion (safety!)

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– Ensure that you are cutting off as much of the white rind as possible, maintaining the desired size and shape of your cake.

Once you’ve got your perfectly pink watermelon all ready to go, it is time to ice!

– Place your cake on a decorative plate or cake stand before beginning to ice
– Using a spatula, spread the icing over the top and sides of your cake, covering any pink areas completely

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Now…I’m going to be honest – this is where it all fell apart for me. I have two recommendations for you at this stage in the game: The first is to freeze your melon before you try and ice it. Fun fact: watermelons are juicy! Obviously. But that is legitimately something I didn’t even consider when I undertook this project (sigh) and is an uphill battle when it comes to this dessert.

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My second recommendation (although, it’s more of a shot in the dark that I’ve never tried but I assume it would help) is to try using Cool Whip instead of icing. I found that once the melon and icing began to warm to room temperature,  your sides become a bit of a shloopy mess – to use a technical term. Cool Whip, being lighter and having a different texture, could be the answer to icing the sides of your cake.

To finish your cake:
– Cover the iced sides of your cake with shaved almonds, sprinkles, or leave them plain
– Top your cake with berries or other sliced fruit for a bit of decoration
– Refrigerate your cake before serving, slice, and enjoy!

2014-06-15 19.41.01The result

Ta-daaaaaa! As you can tell, I was unable to keep the icing from sliding down the sides and resorted to simply piling the icing on top and hoping for the best. #fail

But, at the end of the day it was a hit with everyone at the table – and who doesn’t love a sweet treat in the summer!?