Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book Page Wreath

Hey friends!  Today we are over at my friend Stephanie's blog, Crafting in the Rain with our book page wreath.  A simple tutorial is located here.



Happy Crafting,
Christie

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Patriotic Cake---gone wrong!

Remember a little while back when Claudia posted her post about the chocolate balloon bowls. Well, I cannot let her go out on that limb alone.  The lesson learned was that sometimes we try things and they DON'T turn out the way we expect.   
That was this cake for me.  We all know I love cake and that sometimes I dream about cakes.  I had big dreams about this cake.  In my head it was sooo beautiful! My husband is a retired Marine and I wanted to make him a special cake for Memorial Day.  I even went out and bought a special cake pan. 
Lesson #1: Pregnancy and baking sometimes don't mix.  Do not be ambitious about anything when you are two weeks away from having a baby.

Lesson #2: If you buy a cake pan, be leery about buying them at Marshall's or Home Goods.  There is a reason they are discounted.  Even though for the record, these are two of my very favorite stores. 

Lesson #3:  The type of cake pan is really important. The ones made by Wilton are the best.  Do you want to know why?  Wilton knows cake!  The lighter the cake pan, the better, glass or aluminum is going to give you the best results.  The really dark ones, like the one I bought (I should have known better) make your edges and bottom dark, even if the cake is perfectly cooked.

See those edges...this was the start of the cake gone wrong.
Lesson #4: Stick with your go-to frosting if that is what you are used to.
Don't get me wrong, this cream cheese frosting was amazing.  But I detoured from my original plan because of the red velvet cake.  Then I did not like it...
By the time I got to layering the cake, I gave up and just made a lazy cake.  This design on top was a complete waist of time since I ended up just throwing some sprinkles on top.  But it looked cool for a minute.

Lesson #5: Don't mix textures of cake.  I made a white box cake for the white and the blue.  Then I made a red velvet cake from scratch for the red.  Worst mistake ever.  It made the cake just wrong.  Not only did I have different textures, but different flavors.  And to add to the mayhem, I made a virgin recipe (one I had never made before).   My husband always tells me that you have to make something quite a few times before you have mastered it.  I get lucky quite often because it is a good recipe.  But that is not always the case.


You can see that the red velvet is much denser than the other cakes.  For me it spoiled the whole cake.  I think I don't like cakes made with buttermilk.  If you are interested in any of the recipes or directions, comment here and I will send them to you.  Here it is in all of it's not so glory... 

It is still pretty and very patriotic, I will give it that :) 

Thank you to those who have served our country and to all of those who have lost their lives.

And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
~Lee Greenwood

Happy Memorial Day,
Christie

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sweet Saltine Snack

     Saltine crackers have been necessary to my survival this pregnancy. I never ate Saltine's with my other two pregnancies... but I tell ya, I'm getting worked by this little baby. If I don't eat every hour and a half or so, I get nauseated ( TMI? Oh well...). So, for the first time ever, I've had to actually carry those lovely little crackers around with me. I am now 13 weeks (yeah!) pregnant and eating saltine's day in and day out is getting a little old. Then, in a state of absolute woe and misery, I remembered a little sweet snack my mom used to make out of Saltine's. (Aren't mom's great?)


     I decided  that if I had to eat Saltine's to survive, I might as well enjoy what I'm eating and add a little sugar to the mix... thank heavens for my mom's little treat! I remember she would line a cookie sheet with tin foil, lay out the crackers, and pour some sort of delicious mixture and then melt some chocolate on top... It tasted a little like toffee. Who would have thought that you could turn a little soda cracker into a bite of sugary heaven? And what even makes these little snacks even better? They take about 10 minutes to prepare.... and you know me, if it's quick and easy, it gets an A+ in my book!

     And the best part is, you don't have to be pregnant to enjoy these. My whole family munched on some, and enjoyed a little piece of sugary, soda cracker heaven!!

    Are you tempted to make some? Well, here's the recipe!!

Ingredients
4 oz. of saltine crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
chopped nuts (optional. You can use pecans or almonds...)

Directions (are you ready for these uber-complicated directions? Ha!)
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil (you don't have to use tin foil, it just makes clean up a little easier) and layout the saltine crackers in a single layer.
3. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and butter. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Immediately pour over the saltine crackers and cover them completely.
4. Place in the oven and bake for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then spread the melted chocolate all over the crackers. Top with the nuts and let it cool completely. 

Happy Snacking!
Claudia
3. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Easy Burp Cloths

Just want to wish a very special birthday to our very own Claudia!!!  Happy Birthday!!

As you know, I am in baby mode.  She is coming!  And soon! I have been feeling not ready until last weekend. I had the chance to complete a few projects.  There is just so much to do to get ready for a baby.  And when it's your second, you start to get ready a lot later. 
Spit up is something that comes in abundance with any baby.  Yep, it is one of the less fun aspects.  I remember with my first how many burp clothes we went through in a day.  And because you have to wash them so often, the ones I had got a bit thrashed.  I found these dish rags at Ikea and was immediately inspired to make some burp clothes out of them.  There are a million ways you can make a burp cloth.  Here is my version :)

You will need:
-One package of Krama towels from Ikea
-2 yards of flannel (I got 1/2 yard of 3 different patterns)
-Sewing machine
-Scissors

First cut your flannel to fit the rags/towels.  I tried to rip them, but you can only do that on two sides.  So I ended up just cutting them.  I like the ragged edges look, so I chose to just sew it straight on there.  And then your done!  I did not turn or iron edges. You could do that though if you want a cleaner look.  Once you wash the finished product it will start to fray.

This is my favorite part.  That little loop is going to help me in some way.  I am sure of it.  Hang it here or there.  Or clip it to this or that.  I just love that loop!
Happy Sewing,
Christie

Linking up to:
How to Nest for Less

Monday, May 14, 2012

Marshmallow... Mother's Day... Baby Shower Cake

This weekend was jam packed full! One of my very good friends from Seattle came down for the weekend (and she spoiled me rotten).  My sister hosted a baby shower for me (they spoiled me too). And it was Mother's Day (the royal spoiling). Somehow in between all of this spoiling, I also found some time to make this little cake for y'all.  Woo, I am tired now!  I could not figure out what to call this cake...  It was made for Mother's Day out of "marshmallow poles".  But all I have on my mind is this baby girl.  Can you tell it was a little bit inspired by her?  And don't you think it would make the perfect baby shower cake?

To make this cake you will need:
One box white cake (for two layers)
One box strawberry cake (for one layer, made cupcakes with the other half)
(2) 8 inch round cake pans
(2) Packages of marshmallow poles
Ribbon
Piping supplies
Strawberry jam
Frosting (recipe below)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Churro Cake Pops

    Disclaimer: This is going to be a short and sweet (ha ha) post, because not only are we addicted to sweets, we are also addicted to the show, White Collar. It's on Netflix, and we try to watch at least an episode every night... so sorry blogging world, I hope you understand. If you haven't seen this show, you must watch it now!! Hee hee hee!
      My husband and I love to bake on the weekends. Our sweet tooth goes into overdrive sometime Sunday afternoon, and we get the urge to just bake! I don't know if any of you are like that, or maybe something's just wrong with Nate and I, but there's no denying that our will power goes out the window! I recently made these Churro Cake Pops for a friend's wedding, and they were a big hit!

Why wouldn't people love them? Cinnamon and sugar are always crowd pleasing favorites! I made these cake pops using the exact same method I used here. The first time I made them, I just sprinkled the cinnamon and sugar mix right on top, but it didn't stick to the dry chocolate. So, to get the cinnamon and sugar mix to actually stick to the cake pop, I drizzled a little chocolate on top of each cake pop and then hurried up and sprinkled the little mixture on top to ensure that it wouldn't come off!

I think what adds to the goodness of these little pops is that they aren't just mixed with any regular frosting. Oh, no, no, no. They are mixed with a delicious Cinnamon Vanilla Buttercream. So it's not like you are just making a cake pop and just sprinkling some cinnamon and sugar on top, and calling it good. You are actually infusing the churro goodness right into the cake mixture itself! Yum yum! So bake up a batch, and see for yourself!



Churro Cake Pops


1 box yellow cake mix
2 TBSP cinnamon

Mix the cake mix according to package directions, but also add in the 2 TBSP of cinnamon. Bake according to whatever the box says. Let the cake cool completely and in a large bowl, crumble into small pieces.

For the Cinnamon Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, here's what you'll need:

8 TBSP (1 stick of butter)
3 3/4 c. powdered sugar
3-4 TBSP milk or cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 TBSP cinnamon

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Next, add the powdered sugar, 3 TBSP of milk, and vanilla extract. Beat the frosting until it's nice and creamy. Stir in the cinnamon. If the frosting is too thick, go ahead and add the other TBSP of milk. If it's too thin, go ahead and add some more powdered sugar.

Mix in approx. 1 cup of the frosting in with the cake crumbs. Shape into evenly sized cake pops and place in freezer. Dip into white melting chocolate and top with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar (about 1/2 c. of sugar and 1/2 - 1 tsp. of cinnamon, depending on how you like it).

Happy Baking!
Claudia

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chocolate Bowls {Dot. Dot. Dot}

     I have been contemplating whether or not I should post about my recent chocolate bowl making adventure. And yes, I say adventure, because it certainly was one! Why would I not want to post about it, then? Well.... because it certainly didn't turn out the way I had envisioned it. I'm sure we've all had those projects. You know, the projects where you're all gung-ho about it, and half-way in you think to yourself, "What did I get myself into?" Oh boy, I certainly hope I'm not the only one who's ever thought that... hee, hee, hee.
     So this post is not another tutorial... it's not a recipe... it's not even going to give you any sort of knowledge worth knowing... except for the fact that sometimes projects don't go well. Even for bloggers in blogland. Whenever I look at other blogs, I sometimes get discouraged because everything the do turns out simply amazing, and all their pictures are amazing, and they're amazing.... yadda, yadda, yadda. That's why I really loved this post by I Am Momma - Hear Me Roar. It showed some of her bloopers while blogging, and it made me feel a lot better to know that someone as amazing and darling as Cheri had bloopers once in awhile. :)
     So, onto these chocolate bowls that gave me so much guff. I first saw the idea on Pinterest.

 Aren't they scrumptious? Well, I pinned it to my board, not knowing when I was going to ever have the excuse to make these bowls. Well, the opportunity came a little while later. Christie, my lovely friend and co-blogger, planned an amazing (I've been using that word a lot, haven't I? Oh well.) group date. She planned an Amazing Race Dinner Date for about 8 couples. We all brought food to share, and she asked me to make the chocolate bowls. I was so excited!! Yippee! I just knew that these bowls would be a piece of cake, and they would be a hit at our dinner date! Christie brought over the supplies (some melting chocolate and water ballons) and I started to do some research on how to make them. Basically all I needed to do was blow up some balloons, melt some chocolate, dip the balloons in the melted chocolate, put them on some wax paper to dry, and then pop the balloons, and all would be well.
     The tutorial made it sound like they were a piece of cake, but when I started reading people's comments, I knew they would be a little trickier than planned. I'm glad I did some homework, because here's a couple of things that weren't mentioned in the tutorial:
     1. You must let the chocolate cool down before you dip the water balloons in it. If you don't, the balloons will explode.
     2. You must spray the balloons with cooking spray before dipping them so that when you pop the balloons, the balloons won't stick to the dried chocolate.

     Easy enough, right?
     So, I blew up the water balloons... it was harder than I excpected!

     By the time I blew up 20 water balloons, I was pretty much black and blue in the face. It was hard work!
     Next, I melted my chocolate...
   
      That was easy enough, since I've melted chocolate dozens of times. I did transfer the melted chocolate to another bowl and let it cool down for a few minutes.
     I place the wax paper on a tray so I had a place to put the balloons after they were dipped.


      I then place circles of melted chocolate on the wax paper, which would serve as a base for the bowls.

   
     And then the real fun began.
     I dipped my first balloon, set it on the little chocolate circle, and went about dipping my next balloon. However, my third or fourth balloon in, they started to explode on me. Chocolate was sent flying everywhere! It was all over my arms and apron, my kitchen walls, cabinets, floor, and in every nook and cranny that my little kitchen posesses. What's worse, is my husband and kids were trying to take a nap, and they were awaken by loud "POPS!" followed by either shrieking or a little naughty word.... eek! Here is a little sample of what the tray looked like after a balloon had exploded...

     I called Christie and started to freak out! Our date was in a few hours, and I was afraid I couldn't make these bowls work! She calmed me down and said it was totally fine if the bowls didn't turn out... we could just eat our ice cream out of regular bowls. No biggie.

     But I wasn't satisfied! I was bound and determined to finish these bowls and take them to our amazing dinner date! I let the chocolate cool significantly, and things started to work out...


     They weren't looking as awesome as the ones I had seen, but at least they were functionable, right? That's all I was hoping for in this case. :)


     So, they may not have been very pretty, but they were pretty darn tasty!


     And, they were a hit at the dinner date, so I guess all the exploding chocolate was worth it... however, a few months later, and I am still cleaning up splatters of chocolate everywhere. However, I learned a valuable lesson that day... I will have successes, and I will have failures, and I will have projects that seem like they are doomed to fail, but with a little tweaking and endurance, I can make some pretty darn tasty lemonade out of lemons.

Happy Eating,
Claudia

Sunday, May 6, 2012

DIY Camera Purse

Claudia and I have these awesome cameras (hers is a little more awesome than mine) and we decided they need a nicer home.  The question is camera bag, not quite cool enough, or purse, not quite functional enough.  In a perfect world, I am sure we would both love one of the fancy and gorgeous Jo Totes or Epiphanie camera purses.  Claudia to the rescue!  She found a pattern online from Melly Sews.  I would post the pattern, but that would be against the rules. So if you like this camera purse, head on over the Melly Sews and pick up a pattern for yourself.
 It was a little beyond my sewing capability, so I made a few adjustments. It took me most of the day, but I managed to finish.
The piping was a little difficult, and I got through it only to find some more difficult parts.
I did not do the outside pocket with a zipper.  I ended up just adding more pockets on the inside. Which I like for all my little doo-dads, cords and batteries.  The less zippers the better for me, I did manage to do the main one and it was a success!
I also changed up the flap.  I wanted a round one instead of a v-shaped one. 
I think it turned out super cute! I just need to make the inserts, but it works awesome as is:)  And my camera is sooo happy now in its' nice cushy home!

Happy sewing,
Christie

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Prego Stats--36 Weeks

Thought I would let you in on a little secret, that it is not so secret.  I am pregnant, very pregnant...36 weeks pregnant.  And since I will be taking a bit of a hiatus and Claudia will be running the show for a few weeks, thought I should let you all know.  Now this is my 2nd baby.  But none the less special.  My first was a boy and now we are having a girl.  We are super excited and I am no where near ready.  My nursery is not done...because they are sharing and we can't seem to figure out how to transition the 2 year old to the big boy bed.  The clothes aren't washed and everything is a mess.  But she is coming, can't really stop it.  There are a few of my favorite bloggers out there that are just as pregnant as I am. They share these stats every week.  I thought I could share at least once :)

Do you like that I can't see my feet?  It is actually bending forward a little to even see my tippy toes. 
This is all the picture your going to get for now :)  When she comes, I will share some more!

How far along? 36 weeks
Total weight gain: A lot, but not as much as my first.
Maternity clothes? Yes, for a while now. 
Stretch marks?
They have remembered to come back.
Sleep: I pretty much wake up between 3 to 5 times a night. 
Best moment this week: Spending time with Boston, he is so much fun right now.  Talking so much and such a good boy lately.  I hope he stays this good when the baby comes.
Miss Anything? Walking normally
Movement: Movements have slowed down a bit in the last week, but she is still an active little one!
Food cravings: Sugar and Fruit is what I have craved mostly with this pregnancy.  At least it is not Taco Bell like I did with Boston.
Anything making you queasy or sick: I am good, although I have been a little lightheaded a few times this week.
Gender: GIRL!!
Labor Signs: I have had Braxton Hicks since 6 months.  Did not have any with Boston, so maybe she will come naturally...crossing figures, no pitocin.
Belly Button (in or out): Still in.
Wedding Rings (on or off): On! 
Symptoms: Lots of round ligament pains and tiredness.  Just feel heavy, water aerobics helps!
Happy or Moody most of the time: Um this is a hard one.  I am really working on being happy.  Especially because my showers are this week and next.  But not being ready and still working, makes me a little stressed and moody.
Looking forward to: Finishing some projects for her...but I guess that means I have to start them.  In my head, they are fabulous. 

Mini Lasagnas

     Let me begin this post by giving a huge shout out to my co-blogger and good friend, Christie! She has been absolutely wonderful in doing so many posts this past month while I have felt like garbage! This first trimester stuff is for the birds... and I still have a good month to go! I can barely get the laundry and dishes done, let alone cook up some food and craft.... I have had zero, and I repeat, ZERO energy! Anyone else feel like that? So bless Christie's heart for stepping up and taking care of our little blog.
     The thing with being preggers is I need some easy recipes to cook. I don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and I need meals that come together in a snap... I guess I need easy meals to cook whether I'm pregnant or not! Ha! So one day, I was looking in my fridge and found some leftover wonton wrappers. I love wonton wrappers, don't you? They're cheap, they seem to last forever without going bad, and they can be used in tons of recipes! They are quickly becoming a staple at my house. After finding the wonton wrappers, I discovered some ricotta cheese. Then my mind started formulating a plan.... I had wonton wrappers, ricotta cheese, spaghetti sauce, cheese, and meat... I could probably make some mini lasagnas! But since I'm not ver good at guessing how to put things together, I googled "lasanga wonton recipe" and found an awesome recipe over here . In no time, dinner was put together! For the first time in 4 weeks, I felt like I had actually accomplished something! Oh what a sweet day!
      Now, you may think it's a little strange to use wonton wrappers instead of noodles, but the wrappers are soft, so it gives the same effect as noodles. I think these would make a fun little appetizer at a party, and I will most certainly be making them again... but not for awhile. Once I've eaten something while pregnant, I can't eat it again for like 6 months.... or else I'll gag. But, when I'm not preggo anymore, you better believe I'll be making these a ton!! Want to make your own little mini lasagnas? Well, here's how you do it....

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