Busy Busy!

So my oldest daughter turned 9 last Sunday. Where has time gone? It seems like we just brought her home and now she is 9. I want my baby back. That means my littlest is about to be 3. For her birthday, she wanted to have a Dr Who / Minecraft theme. I was not about to attempt to deal with that many little squares on a cake. Not yet. Maybe one day I’ll feel adventurous. So I made a strictly Whovian cake. I made the Tardis. If you aren’t a fan of Dr Who (you really should be) but the Tardis is a blue police box. It looks like this…. Tardis Well, I covered the cake board and hand painted it… IMG_2664 Then made the cake (which was my first square, stacked cake and my first fondant covered square)…. IMG_2671 Then realized I forgot the windows and added candles and the birthday message….. IMG_2696   I went a little Minecraft on the decorations hanging from the ceiling…. IMG_2690 IMG_2685 IMG_2683 IMG_2677 IMG_2674 And I think she really enjoyed it when she came home from school…. IMG_2694 Oh yeah. The inside of the cake was pink and black…. IMG_2735 In addition to her birthday, I made some cupcakes for a Cakewalk at her school and a red velvet cake. :)

Spring has Sprung!

Well, Spring has started to spring anyway. It is finally starting to warm up and be nice outside. I am definitely a summer baby and enjoy the warmer months. I am naturally on the cold side anyway. When I’m in the house, I am usually found in my chair with my throw blanket over me. Even in the summer. And the hubby has stated my feet are comparable to ice cubes. So I am definitely ready to see this colder weather move on.

We got some pretty nice strawberries on our last shopping trip. I let the girls eat some and stashed some chopped up and stirred with some sugar. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to use them for but I knew it wasn’t going to be a fruit salad. I found a few recipes for cakes and cupcakes that called for fresh strawberries and narrowed it down to this one from The Baked Equation. It sounded and looked delicious. I have never made a Swiss Meringue Buttercream before so I was excited to try something new.

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Doesn’t that look delicious? Well it is! I could eat it by the spoonful. I think I had a little bit too much liquid from my strawberries in the cake and maybe a bit too much sugar (I didn’t use the organic sugar that the original poster used). But they were still awesomely delicious!

Revisiting my failure… and a few successes

Ok. Do you remember the white chocolate pudding buttercream that I royally screwed up? Well, I went back and gave it another shot. I got it right this time! I think the problem I had the first time was the butter wasn’t really room temperature enough. I must say, it is delicious on chocolate cupcakes. Image

The original recipe for the frosting came from White Flours Bloom. I used this dark chocolate cupcake recipe from Brown Eyed Baker. Such a wonderful combination. It was a success around here. 

I ordered some wafer paper to play with and purchased the wafer paper flower class from Craftsy. I love this medium. It is so fun to play with and yields some beautiful results. 

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I can’t wait to play with it some and get some petal and luster dusts to color it. 

Slow week

So it has been a pretty slow week in my kitchen. Not much baking going on. But it has been lovely outside! Such a nice change from the snow we’ve had in the last month. We aren’t prepared or accustomed to snow around here and it cripples us when we do get it. Make fun if you want to but .5 inches here is like 23 feet up north. But this past week has made up for the cold snow. It’s been nice enough that we have been able to open the doors and windows during the day.

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This big “uggy” snowman scared the littlest. 

I think the pretty spring-like weather has gotten to me though. I decided it was time to make a change. A big change. To my hair. I didn’t cut it or anything. I’m still waiting for it to grow back out from my mohawk (well, faux-hawk) stage. I colored it. Not my usual red or black. PINK. Well, fuchsia. And I love it.

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Sorry for the really bad cell phone selfie. I haven’t managed to get a good picture with a real camera yet. Or even the good camera on my cellphone. I used Manic Panic Fuchsia Shock (not a paid endorsement or anything, just saying what I used). It is much darker inside and purple. But when the sun hits it, it is intensely pink. I’ve only had for a day but it bleeds. I can’t run my fingers through my hair without pulling back a pink hand. Hopefully that won’t last much longer. 

I have made any baked goodies. My greatest creation was strawberries and raspberries macerated with a little sugar and vanilla extract on top of a store-bought lemon pound cake. But it was yummy. I bought some more white chocolate pudding mix to have a second attempt at the frosting that I royally goofed. 

The hubs and I got some new toys this week. I got a lens for my camera. A “nifty 50″. This one to be specific. I can’t wait to take some cake pictures with it. 

Hubs got a smoker. And he rocks it. He is a grill-master naturally anyway. So he got this and made these the same day……..

 

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Pure awesomeness! He smoked chicken a few days ago and it was so juicy and tender. It didn’t last long enough for pictures. 

Dark Chocolate and Love

It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Do you have any special plans? Just sitting at home in your sweats? That sounds pretty good to me. We are waiting for this storm to pass and see what it will be like tomorrow. Hopefully it will clear after sunrise. We need to buy groceries. We will most likely hang out at the house in our sweats before Hubby goes to work. I’m planning on cooking him a good dinner though. We’ve been together for ten years. Valentine’s is really just another day to us. We make sure we express our love every day. We don’t want the other one to forget or something. 

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This was taken Tuesday around 5pm. 

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And this was Wednesday about 11:30 am. Not much to some people but we are not accustomed to snow around here. It mostly melted away today in the sun but it has started snowing again since dark. Blah. I don’t like snow much. It’s pretty and everything, but I would rather it be sunny and about 70 degrees. 

But until then, we will manage through with our milk and bread. I don’t know why people hoard milk and bread around here. I would rather have canned goods and my camp stove. But whatever floats your boat. 

On to the chocolate. I must confess. I am not a chocolate lover. I never have been. Given the choice between chocolate ice cream and vanilla, nine times out of ten I will pick vanilla. But I found a recipe for white chocolate pudding frosting and decided to pair it with a dark chocolate cupcake. I was über excited about the combination (and wanted to get them baked in case the power went out).

Maybe I did something wrong or didn’t mix something right, but the frosting did not work for me. It was a texture issue. The flavor was good. And the cake was good in my opinion. Hubby said it was too soft for his liking. The frosting came out lumpy and clogged the piping tip when I tried to frost the cupcakes. Not pleasant. I think I will have to do some work or find a different white chocolate frosting for my cupcakes. 

I used this dark chocolate cupcake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. And over at Where Flours Bloom via Pinterest I found this white chocolate pudding buttercream frosting. I used this particular recipe because it didn’t require cream cheese or whipped cream (I had neither of those). Maybe with a little tweaking I will get it right. 

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Notice I only have one picture of these cupcakes. Yeah, that frosting didn’t work out to be very pretty. 

 

Red, Red Everywhere!

I’m seeing red. And it’s a good thing. In case you didn’t know February is Heart Month. February 7-14 is CHD Awareness Week. CHD stands for Congenital Heart Defect. Did you know 1 in 100 children are born with a CHD? More children die from CHD than from every form of childhood cancer combined. And for every dollar donated to medical funding, only a fraction a penny goes to study CHDs? Did you know Shaun White has a CHD? Specifically Tetralogy of Fallot. This is something near and dear to me and my family. Our youngest daughter was born with ToF. We didn’t know anything was wrong until a few hours after she was born. She underwent open heart surgery at 4 days old. Children shouldn’t have to go through this. For more information you can check out http://www.tchin.org/aware/ or https://www.littlehearts.org/ to read stories and get more information. 

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Ok, now that I have the serious stuff out of the way! Let us talk about cupcakes! Cherry Almond Cupcakes from Cooking Classy. I made these the other night to try out. They were pretty good. I had a hard time finding the almond flavor, so I think next time I will cut back the cherry juice and bump up the almond extract just a bit. They have a cherry hidden inside but I think next time I’ll chop up the cherries so they are scattered throughout the cupcake and not just one big one bit of cherry in the middle.

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My frosting was on the point of being a little curdled. It tasted fine though. I think it was due to a bit too much cherry juice because it was fine before I put in the last tablespoon. So next time I’ll cut it back a bit and it should be fine. 

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All finished and done up with a cherry on top. So jump over here and try these! 

Happy New…..Wait…What?

Can someone please inform me where January has gone? I could have sworn we just watched the ball drop a few nights ago. But the shelves are stocked with Valentine’s candy and the Mexican restaurant where we ate dinner was decked out with red heart balloons which signals the arrival of February. Am I the only that seems to have lost January?

So did you make a resolution for 2014? If you did, are you sticking with it? I didn’t make any resolutions. I didn’t plan on doing anything. It’s just another year, right? Well, last week I decided that I am going to set goals for the year. I have weekly goals, monthly goals, and then the big ones that I hope to achieve by the end of the year. Weekly goals are similar to taking down the Christmas tree (yes, my tree is still up and that is this week’s goal) and the yearly goals are things like finish school (yeah I’m back in school and hopefully will get it done this year). I’m trying to be much more organized about everything. So I turned to Pinterest and searched for all things organization. I found more than enough binders, schedules, excel worksheets, and calendars to fit my needs and tastes. My main inspirations came from here and here. I think these two pretty much provided me with everything I need. I have some separate pins for a blogging planner I hope to implement soon (I let the printer run out of toner).  Mine are not as in-depth as some of the ones I looked at…yet. I’m just getting started though. I love having everything in one place. I keep my homework, calendars, and financial stuff in one folder for now. I may have to separate it into two or at least a bigger one. We are trying to be better at budgeting and saving money this year (another one of our goals).

I have hopes to work on my photography (specifically food) and this blog! I am trying to break my lazy person habits of just sitting in my recliner and watching Iron Chef America on Amazon and surfing Facebook and Pinterest. Yes. I am slightly addicted to the interwebs. And sweet tea. But I refuse to give up my tea, so I’m working on decreasing the amount of time spent on the useless perusal of social media.

I am being more productive. At least for the last two days. I cleaned the inside of the oven door. That thing was gross. And I’m working on the burners. I’m on day two of this. I hope to get it done and mostly clean. Confession: We have had our gas stove for almost 9 years. It sat for about 3 years and was never used. But during all of the 9 years that I’ve had the thing, I have never cleaned the burners. Yuck. Hubby tried once sometime last year and gave up. Yeah, it was that bad. Again, Pinterest led to some awesome cleaning tips so I’m making some progress. I will admit though, at a few points, I had serious thoughts of just walking away and buying a new one after we file taxes. But that goes directly against the budgeting and saving money goal, huh?

Progress. It’s all about progress. Even if I have to take baby steps. Baby steps are the key to success right? So, I’m a little late. But Happy New Year anyway!!!