So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished! Luke 1:45

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

1st Day of School 2014

Dude was not happy with me about the whole picture taking thing. Nonetheless, this was their first day of school pic for the year.

We actually got to start about a week later than the locals. The virtual school wanted to give time for those who decided to switch after realizing that the local school might not work out -- sound familiar to our kindergarten woes? -- so they purposely set a start date that was a little later.

Dude definitely wasn't complaining any about that. Rugrat, on the other hand, has been ready to go since her supplies arrived. And we even started on Monday by getting our introductory lessons done so she could do some school.

But the official start date was today. So, here's to a brand new school year and lots of learning all year long!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday's Menu

Last week, I mentioned that I made a mint chocolate cake for Dude's birthday. Chick, however, can't stand mint anything.

So, I promised her that I would provide an alternative. This was the sweet little alternative I found.

And it happens that its a handy little thing to have on hand since it makes exactly two cupcakes -- just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth without leaving a huge cake sitting around waiting to add to your waistline.

I found the recipe at Brett Bara's website but it wasn't working for some reason when I tried to attach it. It's also in several other places including this one. And according to Chick, it's definitely a keeper.

Two (Exactly Two!) Chocolate Cupcakes

3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda (just eyeball half of a quarter-teaspoon and it will be fine)
1/16 teaspoon salt (otherwise known as a pinch)
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/16 teaspoon vanilla (ie, just a few drops)
1 tablespoon chocolate chips (optional)
Chocolate Frosting (mini recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In a second small bowl or spouted measuring cup, combine the wet ingredients. Add the dry to the wet and stir till combined, whisking well. Divide batter between two cupcake liners and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake for 18 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.

Chocolate Frosting For Two Cupcakes

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon half and half or any milk/cream
dash of salt

Melt the butter in a small bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients to the butter and whisk to combine. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or until frosting is partially set. Whisk again then allow to rest at room temperature until cupcakes are cool enough to frost. (Start making the frosting as soon as the cupcakes go in the oven, so that it will be set and ready to go once the cupcakes are cool.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Somebody took something that doesn't belong to her!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday's Meal

This is sort of a recipe and sort of a review of a recipe. Dude's birthday was on Thursday and, after much deliberation, he decided on a Mint Chocolate cake. Which sounded pretty awesome!

No problem, I thought. And when Hubby found a picture of one, I figured I could handle it. But Hubby wanted me to use the recipe that went along with the picture. A recipe that several commenters had specifically said they had troubles with.

Hubby tends to latch onto something and get excited about it.

So I planned to do just that. I would follow her recipe. After all, she had dozens of cakes and such on her blog that she had made. She probably knew what she was doing.

And, to be fair, I often have found that people who are newer to baking don't speak quite the same language as people who are experienced bakers. I get that. I started out not knowing a lot and have gotten better with more experience too. In a few more years, I hope to be even more so.

And, as it so happened, all we really needed was the peppermint extract and the candies. We had everything else on hand. It's sounding better and better.

So here it is:

(It did not turn out very pretty. I was somewhat disappointed. I think it would have been prettier had I done the things below.)

Her recipe is here. However, let me just say that, while she is apparently pretty talented at making beautiful cakes, I'm not sure she is much on the recipe front. I have decided that I will use her blog for inspiration and ideas but not necessarily her recipes. Again, I highly recommend that you don't use this particular recipe as it is on her blog.

I think that I should have gone with my instincts and just used my tried and true recipes. For instance, I would have used this one for the chocolate cake. I did not add chopped candies into my cake as the recipe called for since so many people said they sank and stuck. After mixing up her cake 'batter' which looked like chocolate water to me, I can see why they would sink. The candies weren't the only thing that might sink either. My cake layers looked like craters from sinking in the middle. I managed to cover a lot with buttercream.

 If you wanted to add the candies to your cake though, I think you could get away with it in a proper home made cake batter. They tend to be more dense. You would want to coat the candy pieces in flour and only very gently mix them in right before you poured it into the pans. You could probably even wait and sprinkle them on top of the batter in the pan if you were concerned.

And then I wish I had used the good old Wilton Buttercream recipe with a teaspoon of peppermint extract or so to flavor it. The frosting she used was very bland, seeming to rely on the peppermint rather than a good foundation buttercream.

To make up for not putting candies in the cake, I put a layer of the buttercream on top of the bottom cake round, then chopped up some Andes mints (about 6-8) to sprinkle all over it before placing the other cake round on top. We should find those candies in between cake layers that way with each bite.

As for the ganache, I'm not sure what I would use or if I even would use it. If I wanted to use it, I would look for a recipe that was a lot less runny. Even after an hour or more in the refrigerator, this was so runny it just made a mess. I halved it since I was using 9-inch pans and knew I didn't want to use much of it anyway. I still ended up washing some down the sink. I probably only used about a 1/3 of the ganache recipe but it still was so runny it made a mess. Here's one that sounds more like what she wanted to accomplish. I'm not sure why it didn't work but I think maybe she just had entirely too much liquid.

What sounds better to me is to maybe use some hot  fudge or even just melt some chocolate and drizzle it.

Obviously, this is the only recipe from this site that I have tried but it didn't make a good impression. I have one other that I would like to try. I am a little leery now though. In case you wanted to try it my way and just so this can be a true "Monday's Menu," I've put the recipes for the chocolate cake and buttercream below. If you try her recipe and have better luck, let me know. Maybe I can figure out what went wrong.

Chocolate Cake
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup hot water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour pans or line muffin tins with paper cups. Mix together shortening, sugar, and cocoa. Add water and beat until smooth. Combine flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add to shortening mixture and beat until blended. Add egg, vanilla, and sour cream and beat until creamy. Spoon into prepared pans or fill cupcake tins about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until pick inserted comes out clean. Remove and let cool completely.

For Mint Chocolate cake: Frost bottom layer with peppermint buttercream. Chop about 1/8 cup Andes mints and sprinkle over buttercream. Top with another cake layer. Frost entire cake. Garnish with Andes mints and decorate as desired.

  • Peppermint Buttercream
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened
  • 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract 
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon (or to taste) peppermint extract
  • green food coloring

  • In large bowl, beat shortening and butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla peppermint. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Gradually add milk; beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Mix in food coloring until desired shade.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Visit

We have had a busy couple of weeks even though it doesn't really seem like I've done much of anything. Last week began with a visit by my mom and two of my cousins. I enjoyed getting to see them since it had been a while. And they seemed to have a good time.

Mom had only one thing on the agenda -- the National Cowboy Museum. So off we went on Tuesday as soon as I got home from work around 11:30 that morning.

We had a pretty good time even if I couldn't get one of my cousins to join in the pictures. My mom had better luck. By the time we finished that, we were ready for some supper and ended up hanging out visiting the rest of the evening.

The next day, we had planned some shopping at the outlet mall. But I suggested we hit the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial. So we took a side trip there first.

Our little side trip was a good decision. Then we hit someplace for some lunch and found the outlet mall. Mom had planned to head home by 3:00 and it worked out just about right.

It was a short but enjoyable visit and I'm glad they got to come.

Even if Rugrat did end up crying because they left twice. She REALLY doesn't like goodbye's.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Happy Birthday

to Dude! Today he turns 16. Yikes! How is that possible!

So very proud of the person he has become!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Memory Throw

I saw on Facebook recently a post about how to do an easier version of a T-shirt blanket. This is where you take old t-shirts from events or schools or other things and put them together as squares for a quilt.

Because t-shirts are made of a knit fabric that stretches, putting them together to make a quilt can be tricky. You pretty much have to stabilize them in some way and even attach them to some cotton squares so they don't stretch on you.

While I have wanted to do a t-shirt quilt and have been saving the kids old t-shirts from things to that end, I never actually worked up to it.

This one seemed pretty easy though because it was a 'rag' blanket using flannel or fleece (I used fleece). And since Chick's shirts were only enough to make a throw blanket, that's what I did. A throw is actually more useful to us than a large blanket would be anyway. We keep throws around to snuggle in while watching tv and carry them in the car when we travel.

This actually came together in about a 24 hour period stretched over an evening (when I cut out everything and laid it out while watching tv) and the next morning/afternoon while I put it all together. What do you think?

On the back I used some of the t-shirt backs that didn't have much of interest but most of them went on the front. I also put on the back some of her favorite shirts from when she was a child with a couple of her favorite characters. Most of them were plain or solid colored. The back is actually fairly boring.

If I had made it a full sized blanket, I probably would have added another day or so just so I wouldn't stress too much to my time frame.  But as I said, throw blankets are a lot more useful to us.

Also, the throw is fairly heavy so I can't imagine what it would be like dealing with a larger blanket.

I will say that having a rotary cutter/mat and a walking foot for my sewing machine probably made this go faster if not easier too. But I don't think you would really have to have either. They are just helpful.

If you want to make one of your own, the website is here. It is a lot of fun looking at all the shirt blocks and skipping down memory lane. Even Rugrat was pretty intrigued by all the squares.

And this made some space for other things, both in Chick's closet and on my craft table.