Welcome to the blog for paula winicur design

Thanks so much for visiting my blog! Here you will find samples of current projects,
as well as things that inspire me. I do hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to post feedback,
email me, and share samples of your projects. To see more of my work, please visit my website.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Carrot Cake

I feel weird admitting this but the truth is... I’ve never really liked carrot cake. I always felt that I should like it, especially because I love spice cake, but when it comes right down to it, I can’t get past stringy pieces of carrot in my cake. I don’t like shredded carrot in my salad, and I feel it has no place in baked goods. It also brings back memories of carrot tzimmis, a dish my mom always loved and tried to get me to eat, but again, there were those stringy pieces of carrot I couldn’t get past. And carrot tzimmis is actually made using carrot peels, at least that's the way I've always seen it, so it just seems like someone took what was supposed to go into the garbage and put it on a plate. And don’t get me started on putting raisins in tzimmis, those are just two foods that were never meant to go together that way. Sorry, Mameleh. I always loved your kasha varnishkes though!

But today is the birthday of one of my coworkers, and carrot cake is his favorite. And since I like to make people happy on their birthdays, I wanted to make him carrot cake cupcakes. But I just wasn’t happy about the shredded carrot. And then it hit me. Why not make the carrot behave like canned pumpkin does in pumpkin cake? It’s so logical, I can’t believe it never occurred to me before. We have this awesome little baby food maker that steams and purees food, all you have to do is cut it up into little pieces first. So I peeled and cut the carrots and threw them into the machine, and voila! Perfect. (I meant to take a picture of the pureed carrot but I totally forgot, so just imagine a bowl of orange puree. It looks like pumpkin puree but a little more orange and a little less wet.) If you don’t have a Beaba Babycook machine, I think you could just boil or steam the carrots and then puree them in a food processor for the same effect.

I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I love her -- I think she’s brilliant. The only thing I changed, besides the carrot, was to cut the sugar down to 1-1/2 cups rather than 2, because I like cakes that are a little less sweet, especially when there’s a sweet frosting, but that’s a personal preference. I think the carrot puree actually improves the consistency because it helps keep them moister than shredded carrot would. And of course the cream cheese frosting makes them delicious.

So there you have it. Carrot puree. I think it’s an idea whose time has come.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tessa’s birthday (part 2 - the party)

Once I created the invitations, as described in my last post, it was then on to planning the party. With the color scheme decided (black, white, and Tess’ signature blue -- Yes, my 1-year-old daughter has a signature color. What, is that not normal?), I just needed to figure out the food. Because, really, its only a party when theres food, or more specifically dessert, involved. For years now I have wanted to try to make petit fours, which have been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl. And I once saw Martha Stewart make them and thought, wouldn't that be fun?Folks, please dont try this at home. I was too stubborn to believe it when people told me I shouldn't do it. Even professional pastry chefs. What do they know, I thought. My love for my daughter will conquer the difficulties of assembling tiny layers of cake and fondant. Um... yeah, not so much. But, now I know for myself. Im glad I made them, and in the end they looked pretty, but its not happening again. (Unless of course Tess asks me to make them for her some time in the future. Im a sucker for that kid.)

I also wanted to make cake balls after I saw them on Bakerella. Unlike petit fours, cake balls are totally worth the effort. And really, much simpler than decorating a cake. And since Ive been known to spend days assembling cakes for other kids' birthdays (before I had a baby and less free time), this was a good way to go.

I thought that my milk glass dishes would go perfectly with the classic look of the party. And what better way to showcase them then to fill them with candy. Because really, when you add candy to anything it can only make it better. I had to go to a few different stores (Candyality, Illinois Nut Company, and Cost Plus) to find candy in the right colors and sizes for the dishes, but it was so much fun. I really am that proverbial kid in the candy store.

I covered the table with a white tablecloth and the same decorative paper that I used to line the invitations envelopes. The paper comes in 20 x 30" sheets, so I bought 3 of them and seamed them together using the widest width of pool-colored ribbon from Paper Source. My dining room is kind of a steely-blue color, and I didnt want that as the backdrop for the table, so I bought some white fabric and, since I cant really sew a straight line, used iron-on hem tape to make a little curtain for the wall behind the table, from which I hung the letters of Tessas name.

I wrote another poem and made little labels for favor bags that guests could fill with treats to take home with them. And I put out blank cards so everyone could write a little message for the birthday girl that we can put in her baby book.

All in all I think the party was a success. Good thing I have another year to plan for birthday number 2! I wonder if I could fit a petting zoo in my apartment...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tessa’s birthday (part 1 - the invitations)

Last weekend was my daughters 1st birthday. Such a huge milestone! My husband and I just wanted to have a small party for her, but I also wanted it to be really special. And since I assume that for future birthdays shell tell me what she wants for her party theme, this was a time when I could put together a party that was really more for me and the other grown-ups.

I firmly believe that good parties begin with the invitations. (Which is not to say that you cant have a great party without invitations, I just really love setting the tone and anticipation in an invitation, and I think in our digital age receiving a piece of mail is really nice. Many of my friends said they really loved opening the invitation when it came, and appreciated receiving an actual paper invitation, which is rare these days.) I found a wonderful silhouetted image of Little Miss Muffet in an old copy of The Real Mother Goose (the 1916 Rand McNally version), so I scanned it to use as the art for the invitation.

I photoshopped out the spider and the bowl and spoon in her hand, and replaced it with a cupcake. Then I wrote a little poem for the occasion. I printed them on my Epson R1800, and mounted them with brads and ribbon on square cards from
Paper Source in their beautiful seafoamy blue color which they call pool (which is very similar to the color of the birth announcements I made when she was born, and of her room color -- pictures of both of those to come...). I lined the envelopes with an exquisite decorative paper I found at Paper Source which had a vintage feel and which complemented the silhouette.

I was going for sophisticated and sweet with a vintage feel, and I was really happy with the way they turned out. One of the nicest compliments I received on them was from a woman who works at Paper Source, who told me that upon first glance she would never have expected that these invitations were for a childs 1st birthday party, and that the invitations were so classic and pretty that she wanted to be invited. So, mission accomplished, I hope. What do you think?

For more pictures and details of the party, please visit again soon!