Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake with Caramel and Cream Cheese Frosting by Sarah Patterson Scott 

Link to recipe as featured on Bon Appetit website here .

I happened upon this recipe a bit over a year ago, living on Galveston Island.  While Galveston Island is a beautiful, vibrant place to live, fall is - well, uneventful.  A few palm fronds fall, the temperature refuses to dip past 68, Ooo chilly.  Longing for a brisk breeze and falling leaves, I went to one of my favorite recipe websites, Bon Appetit and happened upon Sarah Patterson Scott's pumpkin cake recipe.  It fulfilled my; "I miss fall!" hissy fit with a moist cake, rich in pumpkin and laced with the spices of fall.   If you are need of a dessert to serve at your Thanksgiving table, or like me, just in need of a "fall fix", this cake is it.  One of my favorite cake recipes.  


3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda 
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom 
1 15 ounce can pure pumpkin 
1 and 1/2 cups sugar 
1 and 1/4 cups vegetable oil 
4 large eggs 
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel 

1 pound box powdered sugar 
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature 
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 


Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter and flower two 9 inch cake pans, tapping out any excess flour.  Whisk first nine ingredients in large bowl. Using and electric mixer, beat pumpkin, sugar and oil in another large bowl.  Add eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate between additions.  Mix in orange peel.  Add flour mixture; beat on low speed just to blend.  Divide batter between prepared pans. 

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, approximately 33 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Invert onto rack, then turn top side up and cool completely.  (Depending upon your oven strength the time is a suggestion. My oven in Galveston was something else! I only cooked the cakes 25 minutes. Consider checking them around 25 minutes to see if they are ready.)

Sprinkle 1/2 cup powdered sugar over the bottom of a small nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat until the sugar melts (do not stir).  Continue cooking until sugar turns deep amber stirring occasionally, about two minutes.  Carefully stir in 1/2 cup cream, vanilla, and salt (mixture will bubble vigorously).   Stir until caramel bits dissolve.  Stir in remaining  tablespoon of cream.  Allow caramel to cool to room temperature. 

A word of warning here - allow me to say "bubble vigorously" is an understatement.  I brought my whipping cream to room temperature in an effort to prevent the violent reaction of cold cream and caramelized sugar.  Be very, very careful. When caramelized sugar pops, it sticks to you, and it will burn. Anyone who has ever made homemade caramel knows it is a trick.  But the violent reaction, results in the yummiest of caramel icings.  Please be mindful. I tend to wear my kitchen gloves when making caramel. 

Using long serrated knife, trim rounded tops from cakes. Place 1 cake layer on cake plate, cut side up.  Spread 3/4 cup frosting over the layer. Placed second cake layer, cut side down, atop frosting.  Cover top and sides of cake with remaining frosting, creating smooth surface. Sprinkle candied orange peel over top of cake for garnish.  

Well worth the effort for a bit of fall, pumpkin, spice goodness.  Enjoy! 

Until next time, wishing you all the best - 


Friday, November 16, 2018

A White Clad Living Area

Tomorrow will mark four weeks since our furniture arrived at our "next victim", as I come to call it.  I've been unpacking, painting, unpacking...repeat.  Most of the boxes are unpacked, broken down and delivered to the recycling center.  The garage is fairly clear, enough for one vehicle to park inside.  We feel somewhat triumphant!  

The main living area is slowly being painted white, the UT burnt orange is growing smaller and smaller, only gracing one wall presently.  Each wood paneled wall is taking a bit of putty, sanding, also three coats of white enamel.  I chose enamel in a satin finish in an effort to bounce some of the light around the room, hoping to even out the northern blue light against the glowing east and western light.  The space feels much larger, brighter, yet, a bit bland.  Our furniture suddenly turned brown! Our antique Persian rug I spent months finding seems a little - meh. Heavy sigh.  I think finishing the space out will take some major texture and pattern with a subtle casting of color to create interest. Sounds good, right? 

I thought this morning as I begin to spend the next few days painting what is left of the room, I would share a few photos with you.  I've unpacked a sparse number of treasures, those things I worried for when they began their journey here; the Santos, the antique French tapestry remnants, an odd sunburst mirror hand designed by a metal artisan in Austin and a concrete covered deer who throughout the years tends to recline upon the dining table.  It's a good place to keep an eye on things. Here we go - 

 What do you think?  White! It's a little snow blinding, isn't it?  I realize "white" is trending, I'm honestly not a trending sort of girl. For this space, white, at least for the moment, seamed the answer. The front doors are in the upper right corner.  I've temporarily have the vintage French dresser resting in front of a window, the scales a little off, think it will be relocating soon.  The daybed is centered under the front window.  A conversation area is snuggled in front of the fireplace. 

Our brown furniture, brown antique armoire where the TV is playing hid 'n seek, our brown English lamp table and vintage French coffee table turned ottoman. I pinned the French tapestry remnants to the doors of the armoire, trying to cover some of the brown! I don't know, maybe? There may be some painted furniture in our future. We won't discuss the recliner. Still cant' figure out how that eyes.  Speaking of blue eyes, we've placed Mr. GDC's home office in what was the dining space, upper center of the photo you can spy the corner of his desk with his lamp resting upon it.   

I am a little happy with this, one of small occasional tables that travels about the room tucked perfectly beneath the English lamp table.  Playing, I placed one of the sunburst mirrors beneath the Aiden Gray lamps in an effort to spread a little light.  Then I positioned the vintage floor mirror against the wall behind the lamp, so that when the lamp is on the light reflects. I'm becoming like a bird searching for light, ooo, shiny object. 

The daybed fits nicely under the front window.  It offers a lovely little corner to curl up in. I may take a que from it, arriving to us "naked", I left it because I loved the natural wood grain. Maybe rather than paint some of our other pieces, I need to start stripping... can you hear the burlesque music? 

Mr. GDC's home office.  I'm thinking a broody color in here; green, grey, or something else.  His office looks out upon the rose garden, which needs pruning, lots of pruning.  Honestly, I think this would make the most wonderful kitchen!  Maybe a someday scheme. 

Looking toward the back of the space, there's that UT burnt orange.  

I'm still not wildly happy about the built-ins.  If you will, allow me to caution you, built-ins were all the rage in the 90's, which is when I suspect these were installed.  While they can be useful, they are incredibly restrictive.  Once in place you are stuck with what you've built, there's little you can do with them.  I'm considering a few options; removing all of them, removing only the center section then adding door to the built-ins on either side.  The doors could be French paned with sheered fabric, or flat allow an application of a wallpaper mural. A definite someday scheme is to replace the center window with double metal French doors allowing access to the yard. 

I'm pondering the fireplace, it feels a bit 1990's as well.  It also feels a bit New England to me.  I discovered one interesting thing, the brick surround is stained, hiding beneath is terracotta Corsicana brick. 

I'm thinking of attempting to remove the finish, revealing the terracotta brick. I think it interesting a previous owner stained the terracotta brick, then painted the walls essentially - terracotta. I'm thinking color!  I'm also not a huge fan of the fireplace mantle.  This room was added in 1950, the house originally built in 1939.  A mantle from that ear would have had a bit of carving, some legs, a little decorative detailing. Uncertain what to do with this. 


Opposite the fireplace I positioned the antique armoire with hidden television to balance the room.  Did you notice the brown line on the wall? 

Well, there is a chair railing trim along this one wall only. This wall is the original exterior wall to the cottage.  I thought, why is there a railing along one wall?  It bugs me, really bugs me, three walls no chair rail, one wall rail. 

I pried it off, thinking it was surface mounted upon the wall, it wasn't.  This is what happens when I'm left unsupervised.  Since I had a peeking place, I dug about trying to figure out if the original brick exterior wall from 1939 might be standing there - can't tell, I found a board.  Wouldn't it pretty to have a brick wall here and the natural brick around the fireplace?  hmmm. 

View from the Keeping Room.  Currently I have antique Galveston cargo trunk gifted to us by our friends, Hank and Carol, at the back of the settee.  I think it might fit better under the window near the front door, also be more visible. 

View from the back of the space looking toward the front doors. The ceiling I believe as well is most likely 1990's.  This one of two ceilings in the house that are drywall, all others are wood.  I wanted to investigate, this time supervised.  We removed the edging around one of the recessed lights, peeking around the edge with the help of a light we discovered a wooden ceiling about a foot above the ceiling.  I'm too excited!  The ceiling will be coming out after the new year! We are uncertain what is there, whatever it is, it will be original, historic and build some character to this very white space - 

Yesterday we had some visitors... 

Grey dove!  I'm so excited!  I feel home....

Until next time, wishing you all the best -

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Paint Saga Continues.... 

As of today, there have been twelve shades of paint tested here at GDC.  Yes, twelve.  My go to favorites have betrayed me; Sherwin William Accessible Beige SW7036 looked amazing on the north wall and mauve on the south, Sherwin Williams Light French Grey SW055 that perfect greige, again gorgeous on the north wall, purplish grey on the south, and not a pretty purplish grey.  Some new trials Benjamin Moore Grey Owl 2137-60 turned literally light blue on the south wall, while Pale Oak OC-20 turned khaki.  Heavy sigh, it's been a challenge. I haven't counted the number of paint chips I've collected over the past two weeks. There's a bunch, a bushel and peck? 

I buy samples in Behr paint from the Home Depot because they are an inexpensive method to experience the color in larger swatches.  These larger swatches enable me the opportunity to try the colors on various walls to see how the light will play with the color.  They've been collecting on the windowsill like bullies taunting me....I've definitely been fighting.  With what? The blue light that streams through the north windows.  Can you see it? 

There was a day or two or three of medium gray green walls, a Behr color called Naturalist Grey.  It's gorgeous in the morning, cave like for most of the day, then pretty at night.  Ultimately I decided it was too dark. 

Mr. GDC reminded me this week that we will be decorating for Christmas in a few weeks.  He asked "What do you think of one color on the walls?"  He has a way, doesn't he? 

I wave the white flag, literally, I'm painting today in Benjamin Moore White Dove PM-19. The last time I lived with white walls, I was a girl. This will be different.  I am uncertain what to do. I am nervous. I am not a white wall sort of girl, I prefer warmer color pallets.  Which by the way warm colors here, they turn khaki, because yellow and blue light make green. Pfff. 

See that blue light now?  I understand that even white will cast during the day to blue, grey or even green.  The beautiful creamy white won't be creamy white all day long.  I'm working on a lighting plan to help offset the northern blue light. 

One glimmer of light happened early this morning as I began to paint, I realized the windows in the house are metal frame.  I had seen them, I knew in my head they were metal, I hadn't pondered that.  I plan to strip the paint from the metal frames revealing whatever they are made of, also get them in working order.  They are old style crank windows, charming. I am considering stripping the sills and staining them to match to the floor.  The metal windows paired with stained sills would provide some much needed interest to a white room.  Maybe I'll strip a beam or two? 

I'm uncertain the white will stay. But for the moment, white is one color; walls, trim will all be the same.  There's something to be said for a neutral background, everything I place in front of it will become important, a focal point. If the white remains, I think we are going to need a different rug!

My lighting plan includes removal of the drywall from the ceiling coffers.  I'm curious what's up there. I suspect perhaps another 6" of height, because the ceilings are 8.5 feet high. Hopeful a wood ceiling is hiding above the drywall.  I'd like to hang three lights down the center of the room to add some much needed light to the space.  In my head chandeliers would be gorgeous, like glimmering earrings dangling from the ceiling.  Lighting cast in cones, small from the source then beaming outward. Lighting the center of room with bright clear light will help to offset the northern blue light beaming through the windows.   

First things first.... White Dove, love the name.

Until next time, wishing you all the best -