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!!!

Advertisements

Adult Content…..

Beware this post may contain images of adult nature that may offend or upset some people. If you can laugh and enjoy it, please continue.

Back in October, I was asked to make a cake. A cake for a party. A….”tupperware” party. Ladies only and 18 and up only. The cake was to be shaped as a certain male appendage. A penis. And my mother is the one that asked for the cake. Yep. Awkward conversation. At least for one of us.

Mother: With your wonderful cake decorating skills, can you make a cake.

Me: Yeah. What kind of cake?

Mother: It needs……..to be shaped…….like……..a, um……..penis.

Me: (chuckling) Yeah, I can do that.

I know there are pans that are already shaped like a penis but I wasn’t about to run around and hunt one. I don’t want that in the cabinets or on display. So I used a sheet pan and two round pans and carved it to the right shape. It was red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and covered in marshmallow fondant. The “hair” is just colored cream cheese frosting and the…drizzle, yeah that is what we’ll call it, was made of powdered sugar thinned with milk. The veins was rolled fondant that was placed under the flesh colored fondant and I hand painted it bluish with thinned food color gel.

Overall, I’m pleased with how it turned out. And so was the customer. 😉

Here comes the pic……

Shy and timid should avert their eyes…….

Ok, you have been warned…..

Image

Holidays are coming..

And I’m excited. I get to bake and share my creations with all of the members of my family. Who better to use as guinea pigs? They don’t seem to complain and I can generally get an honest answer out of them. I am starting to put together my menu for Thanksgiving dinner. I know I’ll make at least 2 different desserts, plus the ham and potato salad. We all have dinner at my grandmother’s house, who also happens to live next door to me (on the same driveway). This is going to be our first holiday season without my grandfather and that tugs on my heart a little. My husband will be taking over some of his duties, like getting the turkey out of the oven and the roasting pan and to the table without it hitting the floor. That’s a lot of pressure on him! I’m sure he’ll manage though. 

Retailers everywhere have brought out the Christmas garb. It kind of makes me want to put up our tree already. But I will resist. Until after Thanksgiving. Hopefully. 

My baking has been pretty much cookie cakes and chocolate chip cookies lately. I’ve got another cookie cake this weekend for a birthday party. 

I’m ready to start my holiday baking now! What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? 

 

Birthdays Past

So we have underwent a few changes around here. As of July I am a full time stay at home mother. My biggest is now in the 3rd grade!! Wow. Where does time go??

My 3rd grader!

Hubby has transitioned back into work AND changed career completely. He went back to work in a carpet mill, which is the main employer around here. After not working for two years, he was kind of….softened. Manual labor was hard on his body. So when he was offered a position as a car salesman, he took it. Major change. We are still adjusting to the new career. I have to admit though, I love that he carries a briefcase and wears slacks everyday now.

I’ve done quite a bit of baking lately. I’ll break it up between a few posts so I don’t overload.

The biggest things I’ve done were birthday cakes. One for my littlest and one for me. And I must say, I’m pretty impressed with them.

In July, my littlest turned two! It seems like it was just a few months ago that the roller coaster that is her life started. And she has kept us on our toes ever since. For her birthday, I wanted to make a cake that she would love. I decided on a cake that I knew would tickle her pink. She loves all things mouse, as in Mickey and Minnie Mouse. So I made her a Minnie Cake. Minnie Mouse CakeShe looks happyWhite Chocolate Mud Cake with Lemon Curd and Vanilla Buttercream

The bottom tier was white chocolate mud cake with vanilla buttercream and lemon curd filling.

Chocolate Mud Cake with Cookies and Cream Buttercream

 

The top tier was chocolate mud cake with cookies and cream buttercream.

And I think she was tickled. She yelled “Mickey” every time she looked at it. She couldn’t say “Minnie” just yet. She can now though. She also got two stuffed Minnie dolls and a Minnie book for her birthday. I was happy that she was happy.

The next birthday cake I made was mine. Yes. I made my own cake. It makes me happy to bake, so it made me happy to make my cake. I went back and forth for a while about what I wanted my cake to be. I finally decided on a “Minion” cake. Yeah, as in Despicable Me Minion. I love Despicable Me and think the Minions are adorable. And so do my littles. So everyone would enjoy my cake. Minion Minion

He wasn’t perfect, but I was pleased with how he came out. This was my first venture into stacking small cakes and carving a shape and then covering it in fondant. It was definitely a learning experience! My littlest managed to sneak into the kitchen and grab one of his feet and chomp away before any noticed. I had to whip up another foot and the crisis was adverted. And he was yummy when we cut into him.

I’ll end this now before I make it too long. See ya next time!

 

Long time no see!

Well we have made some major changes in the last few weeks! I quit my job and hubby has went back to work. I have to say that the weeks we were both at home have spoiled us. I hate that he has to leave us and we all miss him something awful. In addition to that, the oldest little has started school. I can’t believe she is already in third grade! Time needs to stop. It passes by way too fast. 

On the baking side of things, I have made a few creations that I will be posting…soon. I’m still trying to work this new schedule out. I have to say time management is not my strong point. I made the littlest little’s birthday cake and my birthday cake. Other than those, it has been pretty simple. Some cinnamon rolls. A batch of banana bread (currently in the oven). Hopefully, in the next week, we should have most things settled into some type of routine. Maybe. I am lazy. But I look forward to sharing some photos soon! 

 

The Biggest’s Birthday Bash and Spring Finally Arrives!!!

The thing about those cute, little, cuddly babies is they grow up. Fast. Way too fast. It seems like my biggest was just born and completely dependent on us for everything. Now she is practically grown. My biggest turned eight two weeks ago. She does her chores, makes her own lunch for school, pours her own cereal, dresses herself, and generally knows what is off-limits without being told. We have a few moments where she doesn’t think before she does something but than can be expected. I’m very proud of my biggest little. She’s growing into quite the young lady. Image

For her birthday we asked what kind of cake she wanted. And without much hesitation promptly replied, “A fairy cake that is a little cake on top of a bigger cake on top of a bigger cake.” Okay then. I did scale back from 3 tiers to 2 since we weren’t feeding an army and this was my first attempt at a tiered cake. But I did manage to make 2 fairy figures. The first one was a little rough but the second showed some progress. The most important thing was that my birthday girl was happy with it. Image

 

Image

Image 

 

Not only was this my first attempt at figures, but I tried my hand at fondant and gum paste flowers. I’m pleased since they were my first attempt. 

And what did my biggest ask for as a present for her birthday? A bow. She has wanted one since she saw “Brave” and even more since watching “Hunger Games”. Well, hubs and I decided to get her one and see if she would stay interested in it for more than a day. And she has so far. It takes her some effort to pull it back and she can’t quite hit the target yet, but she’s getting there. I’m proud she hasn’t given up. Image

And now that we are nearing the end of April, spring has finally decided to show up. About time too. The garden is getting a late start because it has been cold and done nothing but rain for the last few weeks. Hopefully things will still come in. I’m looking forward to garden grown veggies. And we all enjoy being outside instead of inside so I’m looking forward to some warm, dry weather. Image

The littlest has decided that throwing rocks and walking through puddles is the greatest thing ever. 

Image

 

And anytime we pass flowers (real or fake) or anything green (like ferns, cacti, or my veggie sprouts) she wants to smell them. Image

First time baking….in a while!!

So I finally am getting things back in working order. It’s taking WAY too long.

We are doing really good with our new lifestyle. We have seriously cut back on processed foods. We are eating mostly fresh foods and our snacks now consist of fruits and veggies. I have completely given up carbonated beverages. I only have sweet tea every now and then (I am southern so I can’t do without it completely). And I am using MyFitnessPal to track my food. It’s amazing the impact it can have to see what you are putting in your mouth. I’ve even been very diligent about my workouts. I’m on the treadmill at least 5 days a week. I actually enjoy it! And the fact that I’ve lost 17 pounds is pretty encouraging too!

I’ve been thinking about what I want to plant this year. I’m not sure if I’m going to do a big garden or just some containers on the porch. It’s the first year that I won’t have dad to ask questions when I get lost or confused (which isn’t difficult for me), I’m taking advantage of Pinterest. I’ve found a few interesting posts about growing avocado trees and citrus trees which excites me. You’ll see in a minute.

So I got my tail in the kitchen a few weeks ago and baked a few cupcakes. Few. That’s an understatement. I think it ended up being like 36 or so. And I had about 6 different flavor combos.

Supposedly, it’s spring. I couldn’t tell due to the 46 degree high today. And it was even colder yesterday. So I decided to take advantage of the lemons and fresh strawberries we picked up on the last shopping trip.

So I started perusing the internet (yeah, Pinterest again). And found a few inspirations that involved lemons and a few that involved strawberries. So I pretty much picked and poked and stole from a few different places.

The first recipe I found was from The Cake Blog. Vanilla Bean Cupcakes. Yumm. Topped with Strawberry & Vanilla Buttercream. Yumm. Well it sounds yumm. I didn’t use the buttercream recipe listed in the recipe. I tried. It didn’t work for me. Not sure why. Mine didn’t look pretty and whipped and soft like the picture. Mine was clumping and runny and tasted like pure butter. I’m sure it was my fault. I probably didn’t have the butter at the right temp. So I reverted back to my trusty Buttercream Dream recipe. I didn’t add the vanilla to it though. I waited since I wanted some strawberry flavored and some vanilla. So I divided it into three bowls. I added pureed strawberries in one bowl (On a side note, you should probably leave out the milk and add the strawberry instead. It would keep it from being a little runny). Then I added vanilla to the second bowl. I kept the third bowl plain. You’ll see why in a sec.

For the swirl effect, put the vanilla in one small piping bag (no tip) and the strawberry buttercream in one small piping bag (no tip) and then put those into a large piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice. The strawberry gives it a very pale pink color. You could always add a little red coloring if you wanted it to have more color. See? You can’t really see it in the picture. (Sorry these are all crappy cell phone pics, I had people yelling they wanted to eat them.)

IMG_20130314_222405_889[1]

You can kind of see the swirl in this picture. IMG_20130314_220903_365[1]

I kept one bowl of buttercream without vanilla because I wanted to have lemon buttercream on some cupcakes. I didn’t want vanilla and lemon competing. So the next batch of cupcakes I made two versions of based on a Vanilla Cupcake recipe from BrownEyedBaker. I made one as stated in the recipe and the other I left out vanilla extract and added lemon extract and some lemon zest instead. Mmm. Once these two batches baked up I realized I didn’t have enough buttercream. Now what??

Cream. Cheese. But even better…..wait for it…..can you guess? Yep. Lemon Cream Cheese frosting. Oh yeah. So I found the recipe from the Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes from The Nesting Project and adjusted the frosting. I added lemon extract instead of orange. I also added some zest and fresh lemon juice just to pack the lemon punch in. Yeah. It was good. So I began frosting.

I put some lemon buttercream on a few vanilla cupcakes and a few lemon cupcakes.

 

 

IMG_20130314_222443_401[1]

 

Then I used the Lemon Cream Cheese on a few of both cupcake flavors.

IMG_20130314_221312_086[1]

And then I noticed I had some naked cupcakes. And I had some leftover strawberry buttercream. So I mixed some the lemon buttercream and the strawberry buttercream.

IMG_20130314_222604_634[1]

 

I even added some leftover pureed strawberries in with the lemon cream cheese. So I had a few of everything. And they were good.

 

IMG_20130314_222458_525[1]

 

So I decided to work with some gumpaste and see what I could accomplish. I made a baby shoe. It’s not perfect. It’s the first one I have ever made though. And I’m proud of it.

IMG_20130313_222203_094[1]

So I was really productive and knocked out a batch of Marshmallow Fondant to play with too. I decided I needed to put some practice into Mickey Mouse because my lil’ squirmy one is all about some “Meemmeee” Mouse. And choo-choos. And nanas. She loves her some nanas. Little monkey. IMG_20130322_172719_463[1]

 

And this is the result. I had to use my food color pens because I don’t have any food grade brushes for painting right now and it isn’t nearly as clean as I would have liked, but for a first time, I’m happy. And so was the squirmy one. The squealed “Meemmmeee” and ran to the kitchen for a good 5 minutes. I was impatient and didn’t give her enough time to dry before decorating her but it’s a learn as I go process. And I’m learning a lot.