The Monday Project: Stars and Stripe Cakes

Stars and Stripes cupcakes

Stars and Stripes cupcakes

I am posting this with a little bit of a cringing, furtive look: trying to bury myself under the long grass. You see I have a dark secret.

Every July when I lived in England I felt like having a party but 4th of July was… awkward. There was usually a slight hiccup of silence when the subject of Independence Day came up.  I don’t believe anyone actually felt aggrieved by it, but neither were they entirely comfortable with a holiday set up specifically for my people to rejoice over their people’s defeat.  Even M. would look at me like I was a little odd for suggesting we have a BBQ on the day. Now 15 years on I still feel a little embarrassed.

 I’m not a nationalistic person as my religious convictions teach me that I should be a stranger and pilgrim in this life looking for the kingdom of God not to the fragile kingdom of men… but I do kinda enjoy 4th of July.  I am moved by the sacrifice of men and women who had convictions which they were loyal to and despite my religious feelings I understand that I live free to practice my religion by the blood of people who have fought for it.  So while I don’t practice involvement in politics or war I am more than willing to be thankful to God for providing a safe place that we can worship in the way our conscience dictates.

 SVG Silhouette Cameo cut cupcake toppers

SVG Silhouette Cameo cut cupcake toppers


So this Monday Project is a free download for the Stars and Stripes Cake Topper pattern. You can get the files at the bottom of the page in SVG format, Silhouette cut file format and JPEG format. If you have a craft cutter its easy-peasy to use otherwise the JPEG is there to use as a template. My files are for private use only please do not reproduce the files, sell the files, or sell products made from the files without my permission.

These Stripe Cakes are the nicest yummiest cakes you will ever eat in your life!  The recipe is from “Apples for Jam” by Tessa Kiros which I have adjusted a little over the years because the original recipe is exceedingly buttery making paper cases totally oily.  Even with the reduced butter you can see what the paper case looks like in my photo… yummy.  This is by far my favorite ever cookbook BTW!  I have never made a recipe from it that my family didn’t love! It is one of the few cookbooks I shipped from England.

Our copy of apples For Jam falls open to this page every time.

Our copy of apples For Jam falls open to this page every time.

Adjusted Cupcake Recipe from Apples For Jam

2 sticks butter minus 3 Tbs softened

1 c sugar

3 eggs

splash of vanilla extract

beat these four ingredients together well.

Mix in:

1 2/3 c plain flour

3/4 tsp double acting baking powder (in the UK with ordinary baking powder use 1 1/2 tsp)

3/4 c milk,  half-and-half, or cream depending on our state of mind and pocketbook.

Bake in a pre-warmed 350F oven for 17 min. They will look very moist still- this is a good thing- but will be cooked through if tested with a toothpick.

My striping method... it does work... kinda

My striping method… it does work… kinda- and looks like a cow with mastitis!

It makes about 15 regular size cupcakes. The cookbook suggests making tiny cakes that only just come to the top of your casing and gives an icing recipe. My family much prefers to use a butter frosting or cream cheese frosting (standard Betty Crocker cookbook stuff).

To get the stripe cupcake I put my three colored cake mixes into three large zip lock bags and hold them all together with rubber-bands or tape.  Cut off a very small bit of the tips and fill the cupcake cups with three colors at once. Ideally your middle bag will be slightly fuller than you outer two bags… I didn’t do that and it shows in my scrawny little white stripe.

It is a messy business and requires “help” with clean up (my kids wait with baited breath during cake making for when I call- “Who is going to help me clean up this mess?” in a mock aggrieved tone).

Coloring the mix is easy- I like to use gel colors by Wilton. They have no flavor, don’t thin icing and give a lovely rich color… but be warned very strong colors (especially black) have… ahem… unfortunate side effects at the end of the digestive path… Just sayin’.

Oh and check back on Wednesday for another idea to use the cuttables/printables on!

Happy 4th of July.

Stripe cupcake

Stripe cupcake

Sweet Little Wood. Stars and Stripes Vector, SVG, JPEG, Silhouette file Free-bees.

xx Jo

While the Mice are Away…

The cat gets to clean up their mess.

Simon's Cat in suitcase

K. E. and J. are in LA this week at a bible camp put on by the Christadelphians. I can say with authority (because K. finally called me after 5 days of me sending disgusting “Miss you guys. Hope you’re OK… hint hint.” texts) that they are having a fantastic time.

So I am-  in time old fashion– cleaning their dreadfully messy room. I have found most of our MIA socks, a stash of candy wrappers shoved down in a hidden crevasse only steps away from the little trash basket, and all three of the sunscreen bottles which mysteriously vanished about a month ago.   To give K. her due her space was clean and tidy.  I am hoping in a few years when E. is 15 she too will be tidy… it’s laughably unlikely but still I hope. It reminds me of something I learned about Pack-Rats:  their midden’s can contain well preserved  materials from thousands of years ago allowing scientists to reconstruct the environments and map changing environmental conditions.   So really E. and J. aren’t being messy- they are merely preserving information for future archaeologists.

However- next time I will shame them with photos…. maniacal laugh.

I also have for you  lovely visitors to the Sweet Little Wood a little Free-Bee!

Free-Bee SVG and JPEG for craft cutters and printing

Free-Bee SVG and JPEG for craft cutters and printing

The JPEG in my last post is an SVG.  I have modified it into a black line Silhouette file, a black line  SVG and a colour SVG which can be used with craft cutters such as the Silhouette or Cuttlebug.  Also included is a black line and color JPEG for those without a cutter but would like to print it out. Just click this link:

SweetLittleWood.handmade life-SVG.JPEG.SILH


xx Jo

Hello Friends and Wild Things

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I’m so glad your here now the fun can start!  I’m not much of a Wild Rumpus sort of person though so I will probably be sitting over there under that shady tree cutting paper doodles, knitting or contemplating the Fibonacci sequence in a pine-cone I uncovered in the long grass.  I would love for you to join me but of course if you are a Wild Rumpus sort of critter I will also be enjoying the show!

I wanted to just take a moment to tell you the story of how the Sweet Little Wood blog got planted.  I’m an American girl, born in a little town in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.  I grew up with a sense of freedom in the wild; a feeling of complete and utter relaxation under a canopy of trees watching the sun rise, arc and set and being bathed in the beauty of an unpolluted starlit sky.  One day while I was still quite young and visiting a far away place I had tipped off my shoes to wander down a stream just to see where it may go.  From a bridge above my head a British boy mistook me for (and did in fact call me) a Troll: fortunately he soon realized his mistake as I smiled rather than gobbling him up.  He didn’t know it at that moment – it took him another three days to realize and me little while longer- that some sort of magic had happened when I passed under his bridge with my feet in the water.  It was lucky for ME that this prince- for that’s what he was to me- wanted me to be his princess.  It was unlucky for HIM that when he realized it on the third day and asked if  he could keep me I said no.

The long and short of it was that: naturally we married and naturally we progressed to having three princesses of our own. We spent a long time living in his place even further away from my sweet forests and unpolluted starlit night.  His world was full of crispy rain cleaned air,  grassy hills and beaches.  It was beautiful and in it we learned how to be good for each other, raise our children in a peaceful environment and we are still learning how become people that we ourselves would like to know.  We decided while we lived in his far away land- at a point when our life was good but night skies were cloudy and our woods were bare of leaves- to move and be closer to the forests, mountains and skies of my younger life.   We wanted our children to value both our worlds.  And that is how we have come to be here in an even tinier town in the coastal mountains of California.  My Prince (we will call him M.), our three princesses (we will call them K., E., and J.) and I are reveling in a place of small woodlands, Redwood groves beaches and clear unpolluted starlit nights.

This is my very own Sweet Little Wood- a place I’ve created where I can share my love for making  things by hand, nature, books, art and whatever other little things cross my mind.  This Little Wood looks new but was growing in another place during a different phase of our life. I would really like to hear from you.  Please feel free to comment on my posts- I read all comments though I may not always respond on the page.  If you want to have a chat with me you will find the way to reach me behind the tiny pink envelope on the side of the blog page.  I am growing Sweet Little Wood into a business from scratch as a way of giving my mind and hands something constructive to do so there will be a little about that too- though I promise not to bombard you with endless business postings or plugs for my shop because I know that I soon get bored with blogs that do that I that’s the last thing I want here.

 My family will feature in the fun as will my faith because between them they hold my whole life and love: everything else is just embellishment!

SweetLittleWood royal header-reverse