Where does time go?

Where does time go anyway? It’s never around when I need it.

It always seems like a day turns into a week and week into a month and then I realize I haven’t updated the blog or my Twitter or anything else in an eternity. Then I realize I have homework due.

I really haven’t done much baking so I don’t have any sweet-ness to share.

I have been spending my free time painting a coffee table and making a craft table and trying to learn to sew. That is complicated stuff. At least for me.

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And then I woke up last week with a horrible, itchy rash all over my arms and the back of my neck. I went to the doctor and got a steroid shot. I thought I might be allergic to something like the paint for the table but the doc said it looked more like a rash from a viral infection. Regardless, it’s not contagious because I’m the only one that has it. Yes. I still have bumps on my arm but they aren’t red or itchy and they seem to be subsiding. Very slowly.

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I have been scouring the Internet searching for some source of inspiration to get baking again. It’s hard since the hubs and I are trying to lose weight. We have no self-control so it’s just better for us to not have it in the house, which puts a damper on material for the blog.

I found a recipe for cinnamon roll cupcake which sounds very promising.

We also started working on the menus and made some crock pot meals that I found on Pinterest. So far so good. It has kept us from eating out a lot which is something I discovered we do way too much of. I made Beef and Broccoli in the crock pot last night and pizza balls tonight. Both were successful meals. I considered meals successful if my husband and children like them. I can like something they hate and therefore it doesn’t count as success and never gets made again. Just differences in taste.

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So if you have suggestions or ideas for baking let me know. Or some good crock pot dinners or anything else really, let me know.

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The Big One!

WOW! It has been a busy, crazy, hectic few weeks. Littlest celebrated her first birthday and the first anniversary of her open heart surgery over an entire weekend. We had a cookout, went to the Tennessee Aquarium, and did a photo shoot with a homemade tutu and a homemade (of course) smash cake! So that’s where I have been lately. Yikes. I have been a busy bee.

Sunday we had three types of cupcakes to go along with our cookout of hamburgers and hotdogs. We had Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting (my first time making red velvet in my life), Orange Creamsicle, and Vanilla with Vanilla Bean Buttercream.

The trip to the aquarium was on Monday.

Littlest liked the fish. From a distance. She did not like being close to the tanks. She would pull away and squeal. And not with delight. Bless her. We got to see a baby penguin.

Littlest’s cake was vanilla cake, vanilla bean buttercream filling, and vanilla buttercream frosting. The cake was decorated with hearts in celebration of the one year milestone. I never would have thought how emotional that day was for me.

She liked sticking her fingers in the cake. And her toes. And rubbing it on her face. And her body. But then she wanted it off her fingers and would flail her hands and sling frosting…everywhere.

One birthday down and one to go!!

My husband celebrated his 27th birthday Sunday. His favorite color, flavor, scent, and anything else is orange. So I decided to make him orange creamsicle cupcakes. I found the recipe from The Nesting Project blog. I didn’t know how a cupcake was going to capture the taste of a creamsicle, but I figured as long as they tasted like orange, they would be a success. This recipe has the right mix of orange and vanilla and cream cheese that it actually does taste like a creamsicle.

The only thing I did differently was add food coloring to the frosting to make it orange. I don’t have orange color so I had to mix it. I ended up making it a little more orange than I wanted, but it still worked.

Hubby doesn’t care what they look like anyway. He is only worried about the taste. I’m more interested in making sure they look pretty. I’m big in the concept of “People eat with their eyes first.”

I wish I hadn’t let the cream cheese get as soft as I did. The frosting should have been a little stiffer. I also could have chilled it a little before piping but I was getting restless and ready to sample.

And now that Hubby’s birthday is done and over with, we have to get ready for little Sophie’s First Birthday!! It’s in two weeks and counting. Today I made her birthday tutu. I bought a kit from Wal-Mart that came with the stretchy thing and pre-cut strips of tulle in pink and green. There weren’t enough to make it as poufy as I wanted and there were more green strips than pink strips so I had to buy another roll of tulle. I went with a neon pink. Instead of wearing the stretchy tube as a dress we are going to make it a skirt and I’m going to make a onesie with an applique “1” on it. I think. I might add a cupcake.

Vanilla beans and vodka

I got my package in the mail today! My vanilla beans and bottles came two days earlier than I expected.

I wanted to use some of them and make homemade vanilla extract and, luckily for me, I had enough vodka on hand to fill all three bottles.

My bottle of Georgia Vodka is filthy. It’s because I made a pie crust one night and didn’t have a rolling pin handy. Enter the round bottle of vodka.

Perfect rolling pin in a pinch. (I know, those shadows are horrible. I didn’t have any good light coming in and I don’t have a handy external flash, yet.)

So I went outside and snapped some pictures.

I got my bottles and my beans from beanilla.com. The two little bottles are 4 ounce  bottles, and the larger swing top bottle is 8 ounces. (Sorry I didn’t take a picture of the empty bottles. I got a little excited. )

The two smaller bottles have three vanilla beans, cut in half, then split down the middle. The larger bottle has five beans, cut in half, and split down the middle.

Can you see the little specks on the bottom of the bottle? Those are wonderful little flavor orbs.

I think it’s already so pretty. Of course, I like sunshine through glass.

Already starting to change colors!

And I still have 14 whole vanilla beans left to experiment with!

I am a happy camper.

Pretty little bottles and vanilla beans

I am one excited baker lady.

I ordered some vanilla beans.

I ordered them from beanilla.com.

I got these Madagascar beans and 1 of these bottles (in cobalt blue), 1 of these bottles, and 1 of these bottles.

Can you guess what I’m going to venture into making?

Yep, homemade vanilla extract.

I am excited.

I got the email that said all of it had shipped and let out a little “Yay!” Yep. Right in the middle of work.

Love it when the coworkers ask if I’m ok.

I hope these are good quality beans.

I’m not going to be a happy camper if I get a bunch of dried up pods.

Where do you buy your vanilla beans?

I’m thinking I’m going to have to buy them on a pretty regular basis. Not just for extract.

I love seeing the little black specks of fresh vanilla in cakes and I’d like to see about homemade vanilla ice cream. And vanilla sugar.

What do you make with vanilla?