My Closet Workspace

writing and coffee

Downsizing from a house to a condo is something we enjoy a lot more than we thought we would but the lack of space to work on hobbies and projects can be a challenge. Tom and I are very fortunate that our building has a theatre room we can utilize and he has a little space that he rents outside of our home where he can drum and create art. However, lately I’ve really been wishing for my own workspace more and more. I plan on starting my first quilting project this fall and I knew that if I had to lug my sewing machine and supplies out every time I wanted to work on it, it would never happen. I did a lot of brainstorming on how I could rectify my situation and was inspired by this piece on smaller office spaces. I quickly decided that having a small, dedicated space in the condo was better than having to do a full setup and tear down each time I wanted to work.

I started looking at how to transform half of my bedroom closet into a little nook for my hobbies. The closets in our bedrooms are split in half and you walk through to get to the bathrooms. Luckily, because I’ve downsized so much for my capsule wardrobe it wasn’t too hard for me to move everything to the other half of my closet, aside from keeping some storage bins on the shelving above my soon-to-be “office”. Here’s a before shot:

closet before

It was hard to find a desk that wasn’t too big, but was also sturdy enough to hold my sewing machine. My goal was to keep the furniture simple and streamlined so my already small space wouldn’t look too overcrowded. I looked at a TON of options and finally found a desk that fits the space really well.

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When considering storage I knew that I didn’t want to clutter up my desktop, so I hung one of those shoe hangers in the empty space between the desk and the wall. I sorted my different supplies in pencil cases to place inside the compartments and can store my fabric in here too. If I need more space on the desktop, my sewing machine can be placed underneath the hanging storage. I purchased a holder for my hobby-related books and placed that on the shelving above my desk.

books

I wanted a chair that was sturdy but comfortable with no arms so I could slide it right under my desk. I found this one on Varage Sale and decided to take it although the chocolate brown color didn’t really go with the rest of the space. I thought it had good lines and I could spruce it up somehow. I sanded the vinyl to distress it, and then painted it white, rubbing the wet paint with a damp cloth to make it to look weathered. Then I applied two coats of Modge Podge over top to set it. I think it fits the space much better now!

chair before  chair after

This clip lamp works great for focusing light exactly where I need it. This will be helpful for food photography also.

clip lamp

I really wanted to hang an inspiration board in here. I found these small cork boards at Dollarama, painted them white and sanded the edges lightly. I like that the white brightens up the space and is a blank canvas to pin whatever I want on them. Those colorful push pins make me happy.

corkboard DIY

I threw on a vintage table cloth I already had and added a small wastebasket underneath the desk and my space was ready to go! Here’s my after shot:

closet after

I’m super excited to put this space to use! Knowing that I can sit down here and get to work whenever inspiration strikes is a really good feeling.

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Half-and-Half Cake

half and half cake

Yes, I’m serious.

This happened because Tom couldn’t decide what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday. These are his two favourites that I make and since they include the same cake and frosting I decided that morphing the two was what made the most sense.

This was a little challenging and time consuming but the result was well worth it, especially to appease the birthday boy. My go-to fudgy chocolate cake recipe, fluffy cream cheese frosting and two different fillings and garnishes make it a showstopper.

I wasn’t planning on blogging it but it got so many raves that I have a feeling it will need to make a repeat appearance. It’s a fun one!

Half-and-Half Cake

Makes one 9-inch three tier cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 2½ cups + 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups strong black coffee, hot
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 4½ tsp. vanilla extract

Frosting:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp. corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp. clear vanilla extract
  • 2 ½  cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Pinch of baking powder

Oreo Truffle Filling & Garnish:

  • 1 package Oreos, divided
  • 1 package cream cheese, softened

Samoa Filling & Garnish:

  • 1 package Samoa cookies, divided
  • ½ cup caramel sauce
  • 1 ½ cups toasted coconut

Instructions:

Cake:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9 inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment. Set aside.

Mix dry ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer. Whisk the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl. Pour the wet ingredients in with the dry and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes or so. Scrape the bowl down and beat for another minute until well blended. Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking, until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. When done, take cakes out of the oven and cool for about a half hour. Remove from pans and cool on wire rack for another half hour.

At this point I like to wrap each cake in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer until ready to assemble. Keeping the cake cold makes it easier to frost.

Fillings:

Take three Samoa cookies and three Oreo cookies and cut them in half. Set the 12 cookie halves aside for the garnish.

Pulse the remaining Samoa cookies in a food processor until coarsely crushed with a few chunks and set aside.

For the Oreo Truffle filling, put the remaining Oreo’s in the food processor and pulse until very finely crushed. Add the softened cream cheese and blend until a thick, chocolatey dough forms. Lay plastic wrap inside a 9 inch round pan and place the Oreo dough into the pan, flattening it evenly to form a 9 inch round. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until chilled and set.

Frosting:

Combine the butter, shortening, and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on its lowest speed, pour in the corn syrup and vanilla. Crank the mixer up to medium-high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is totally smooth and a glossy white. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the powdered sugar, salt and baking powder and mix on low speed just to incorporate them into the batter. Turn the speed back up to medium-high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until you have a smooth, bright white frosting.

Assembly:

Lay one cake layer on a turn table. Cut the chilled Oreo Truffle filling in half and lay one half down on the cake. For the other half, spread a thin layer of frosting, press on half the Samoa crumbs and drizzle on half the caramel sauce. Lay the second cake layer down and repeat these steps. Then add the third cake layer on top. Apply a thin layer of frosting all over the cake, leaving a space where you can see which half is which. Chill for 30 minutes or so until the crumb coat is set.

Put another thin layer of icing on the Samoa half and then press the toasted coconut into the frosting. For the Oreo half, use the rest of the frosting and apply it smoothly, filling in the hole where you can see which half is which. Press the 12 reserved cookie halves on top of the cake and chill until serving.

Notes:

-The Oreo Truffle filling can be made and frozen in advance. I prepped the fillings and baked the cake one night and then assembled it the next day.

-I buy the Samoa knockoff cookies at Superstore.

oreo slice

samoa slice

Cake from Snickers Cake. Frosting from Momofuku’s Birthday Cake.

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Coffee & Donuts Milkshake

shake1

Occasionally I make something so magnificent, and at the same time so incredibly trashy that I debate whether or not to tell you about it because it’s so ridiculous that you may never read this blog again. This is one of those recipes.

I blended donuts into ice cream and I’m calling it a recipe. Please don’t leave. It’s SO GOOD, I swear.

It all started when Milky Way had a mini donut sundae as their weekly special. We were busy, and didn’t get there that week and I was sad. The end.

Except it wasn’t the end, because they had it again a month later and I got to try one and it was AWESOME. Mini donuts and ice cream together are a match made in heaven. I told Tom that the next time we found mini donuts I was totally adding them into milkshakes.

We ended up at the fair last weekend and I made him order extra mini donuts and the rest is history. I also added coffee because I love it. And caramel sauce, because it was on the aforementioned sundae and tasted fab. These are lick-the-glass-out-delicious. Tom was skeptical at first but he was legit depressed when he finished his. Moral of the story: buy some donuts and put them in milkshakes. Happy Friday!

Coffee & Donuts Milkshake

Makes 2 small shakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. caramel sauce
  • 3 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee, cold
  • 4 cinnamon sugar mini donuts
  • Leftover mini donut crumbs, garnish

Instructions:

Drizzle the inside of two small glasses with caramel sauce and set aside.

Blend the ice cream, coffee and mini donuts together and pour into the glasses. Sprinkle each shake with the leftover crumbs from the mini donut bag (if that isn’t the most ridiculous instruction ever, I don’t know what is). Serve with straws.

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Easy Fish Taco Plate

fishtaco

When Tom goes to wings on Tuesday nights I always plan a meal that he would never, ever consider eating. He can be a picky eater so it’s my chance to cook outside the box a bit. This is my latest creation. It was super hot outside and I wanted something light, full of vegetables and easy to prepare without turning the oven on. I know I’m always looking for easy summer dinner inspiration and I liked this one so much I thought I’d share. Enjoy!

Easy Fish Taco Plate

Serves 1

Ingredients:

Fish:

  • One large white fish filet (I used Pollock)
  • Smoked paprika
  • Seasoning salt
  • Black pepper
  • Coconut oil for frying

Slaw:

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • ½ small bag of shredded coleslaw mix
  • ¼ yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • ½ avocado, chopped

Instructions:

Fish:

Sprinkle fish generously on both sides with the spices. Heat coconut oil in a small frying pan over medium heat and cook the fish according to package directions. Mine was good with about 2 minutes on each side. Once fish is deep golden brown and cooked through, remove from heat.

Slaw:

While the fish cooks, make the slaw. Toss all of the ingredients together except for the salt and avocado. Taste and add salt if desired. Plate the slaw and top with the chopped avocado, then the cooked fish. Serve!

fishtaco1

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Summer Lovin’

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We’ve been making the most of summer the last couple of weeks and it’s been so sweet.

We had a little getaway in Manitoba. We stopped by the fair, ate a bunch of crazy things (red velvet mini donuts!!!!) and saw April Wine & Loverboy with my parents, which was awesome.

We’ve hung out on the balcony whenever possible and taken Nix out for lots of runs and my basil is growing like crazy. I’ve also read a ton of good books lately and I’m drinking iced coffee every single day without fail. The beginning of this season was so hard but I think it’s made us appreciate the good days and life’s simple pleasures even more.

Tommy’s birthday is this week and we have overnight guests coming this weekend. I’m trying to convince him to watch Stranger Things with me because everyone’s talking about it and I’m super curious. We haven’t been on the water once this summer and that needs to be rectified ASAP. Soon, I think! How has your summer been?

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