Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Margarita Cake

My contribution for our Father's Day BBQ/pool party was dessert. We've got a lot of chocolate eaters in my family, but I wanted to do something different this time. I found this recipe in the local newspaper a couple of months ago and decided to try it. I modified it a bit, but it was *GOOD*! Plus, it was my first totally from scratch cake. I felt like a baking rockstar! Of course, I forgot to take a picture of it. Oh, well. I'll just have to make it again! :)

Margarita Cake
1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 lime, rind grated and juiced to make 1 tablespoon
Dickenson Lime Curd for topping (available at grocery stores). (I didn't use this)

For Lime Glaze
1/2 cup lime juice
2 teaspoons triple sec (I omitted since we were feeding kiddos, too)
1 teaspoon tequila (again, I omitted)
1 cup confectioners' sugar

For Lime Buttercream Frosting
1 cup softened butter
1/2 cup shortening
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Lime glaze (recipe above)
2 tablespoons grated lime rind
Green sugar crystals for embellishment (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and continue to beat. In a second bowl, sift flower, baking powder and salt together. Alternately add the flour mixture and cream into the egg mixture, starting and ending with the flour. Mix in the lime rind and the lime juice. Pour batter into 2 greased 8 inch cake pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Put on cake rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze: Mix the lime juice, triple sec, tequila and confectioners' sugar until smooth. (If not using triple sec and tequila, just mix lime juice and confectioners' sugar together) Set aside half to make the frosting. While the cake is still warm, slowly spoon glaze over the top so that all the liquid is absorbed.

To make the frosting: Cream butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl. Add confectioners' sugar and heavy cream. Add the remaining lime glaze. Mix well. Sprinkle in grated lime peel. Frost cake and top with lime curd (optional).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Father's Day Gift

I do such a good job of coming up with thoughtful, handmade gifts for my Mom, MIL and Grandmother, but I'm sorely lacking when it comes to doing the same for my Dad, FIL and Grandfather. So, this is what I came up with for my grandfather for Father's Day. I knew he'd love to have a picture of the girls on his desk, but wanted to do something different than just a framed picture. So off I went to Home Depot for a tile.

You'll need:
  • A tile (I used a tumbled marble 6 x 6 tile)
  • Modge Podge (NOT the kind made for paper)
  • Cricut Vinyl and a Cricut machine
  • Or, rub ons (If you don't have a Cricut machine)
  • a small easel to display it

Here's how I did it:
  • I purchased a tumbled marble 6 x 6 tile from Home Depot
  • In Paint, I opened the photograph I wanted and re sized it down to approx. 3 x 5 or so. Then I printed it on regular paper to double check the size of the photo against the size of my tile to make sure it fit the way I wanted.
  • Next, I taped a piece of white tissue paper over the printed image. I then ran the sheet of paper with the tissue paper overlay back through the printer, printing the photograph onto the tissue paper.

  • I carefully peeled the tissue paper off of the printer paper, being careful not to tear it. Then, using scissors, I cut it to the size I wanted to adhere to the tile.
  • Using a foam brush, paint a thin layer of Modge Podge directly onto the tile
  • Put the tissue paper with the image right side up onto the tile. You'll have to be careful about placement as you lay the image down, because the tissue paper is so thin that you won't get a chance to reposition it without tearing it.
  • Smooth down the tissue paper.
  • Using the foam brush, paint a thin layer of Modge Podge over the tissue paper to seal it.
  • Wait for it to dry.
  • For the lettering and the embellishment, I used my Cricut machine and Cricut Vinyl. The lettering was done with the "Plantin Schoolbook" cartridge and the embellishment was done with the "Accent Essentials" cartridge. If you don't have a Cricut machine, then rub on letters that are found in the scrapbook section of your local craft store would also work.
  • Place it on an easel to display. You could also glue ribbons to the back of the tile that you could use to hang it.

Voila! An easy and cute gift!

Father's Day Treat Jar

We had the Father's Day gift for Poppy (my dad) all ready to go, but we still needed a little something to round it out. We were cruising the bulk section of our local Sprouts when Hubby noticed the chocolate covered macadamia nuts. These are one of Poppy's favorite treats, so we loaded up a plastic bag full of the chocolate goodness. Since a plastic grocery bag just isn't all that gift like, I went and found a cute (but plain) jar to put them in.

Then, my trusty Cricut machine came to the rescue. I got out my vinyl and cut out the "P" for the front and then "Poppy's treats" for the back. I debated putting "If you aren't Poppy, Keep Out!", but kept it pretty simple (even though I knew Poppy would appreciate the "keep out!").

It was a cute, easy addition to a gift!

I love coupons!

When I was younger, I thought coupons were silly. Embarrassing, too. Because if you had to use them, then you must be poor. How wrong I was!

I started clipping coupons a couple of years ago and was intimidated at first. You see, you can clip and use and save a little bit, or you can learn the system and save a lot. There is a bit of a learning curve to learning how the sales/coupon/double coupon system works, but fortunately, it's not a difficult thing to learn.

I started using The Grocery Game but soon realized I didn't need to pay to get the information, that it's at quite a few places for free. My favorite coupon place is Hot Coupon World.

Back to the reason for this post - I had such a shopping high last week. I went to a couple of stores armed with my coupons and sale circulars and got a ton of food for very little money. The best store of the day was Albertson's. I don't go there often because they don't double coupons, but it didn't matter too much this time. I got 20 name brand items for $20.97 after the sale and the coupons! The best part is that it's all stuff we'll use. Here are some of the things I got:
2 frozen pizzas (I keep these on hand for those "emergency" dinners)
5 boxes of Capri Sun/Kool Aid Jammers
Country Crock butter
Velveeta Shells and Cheese
2 bottles of Kraft Salad Dressing
Kraft BBQ Sauce
Ritz Crackers
Cheerios Snack Mix
Kraft Shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 Boxes of Betty Crocker Brownie Mix

Obviously, they had lots of Kraft stuff on sale. If they offered double coupons at Albertsons, my total would have been in the $12 range. But still, I'm pretty happy with the result. So, if you aren't a coupon convert yet, head on over to Hot Coupon World and spend some time on the message boards. Those coupon pros might just convince you!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

We're birthday party bound again!

Taylor has a birthday coming up soon, so I'm getting ready to go into birthday mode again. Now, if I could just get her to decide what kind of party she wants, I'll be set! She's narrowed her choices down to three: Hannah Montana, High School Musical and The Wizard of Oz. I think I'll have the most fun planning the Wizard of Oz party, but I know I can come up with some good ideas for all three of them.

I've told her that she has to decide by the end of the week which one she wants so I can get the invitations going, so stay tuned for the big party reveal!

New Wipe Case Design

I've been working on some new wipe case designs lately, mainly because I'm getting tired of painting the same things over and over! I've still got more in the works, but this is my favorite of what I've got done so far. It's just so cheerful!

I made one for myself (like I do with most of my designs, it seems!). I don't know what I'm going to do when the monkey is out of diapers and I don't have to carry diaper wipes anymore!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Little Potty Woes

This little potty has been a source of excitement and a source of disappointment! Megan was oh, so thrilled about getting this potty of her own. At first, she used it as a chair and sat on it (fully clothed) to watch TV. A couple of months later she was using it for it's intended purpose. Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy! She'd refuse to go on a big potty - she just wanted her potty. She was doing so well - and enjoying her picks from our "potty prize basket". And then it all stopped.
Now the little potty has a layer of dust on it. Potty training has come to a screeching halt. Until yesterday, that is. Usually, Megan will tell me she's gone potty on the potty because she gets enjoyment out of mom jumping up and down, hollering "yea!" and doing the "potty in the potty dance". (Thankfully, there is no video or photographic evidence of this). Yesterday, she went potty in the potty (yea!), but didn't say a word.
Now you are asking "How do you know she went potty in the potty?", right? Funny story, that. See, the little potty is directly in front of the big potty. I had to go, so I walked over to the big potty and stepped right in a large puddle. Not totally unusual - the girls like to play in the bathroom sinks (I don't condone this, BTW). I had a bad feeling about this puddle. Still, Megan knows that we rinse out the little potty holder after we use it, so she could have just spilled a bit of the clean(er) water when she was putting the holder back. I was holding onto that belief until I noticed that the puddle wasn't really clear.
Apparently, she went potty on the potty and wanted to dump the holder herself. But she spilled it. She didn't want to get into trouble, so she didn't tell me she went potty on the potty and left the little potty sitting in a puddle. A puddle that I would step in with my bare feet later that day.
Potty training - fun times, fun times!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Baby Shower Invitation

When my sister was pregnant last year, I was placed in charge of invitations for the baby shower. I had just done a ton of birthday invitations for the monkey's birthday, so I wanted something that was cute, but quick and easy. These are it!

I started out with a plain cardstock (the brown) and cut it into a square shape that would fit inside my envelopes. Then, I put a patterned paper (blue stripe) in a slightly smaller square on tip. I finished with a lighter brown paper that had all of the invitation details on it.

For a little more detail, I used a pen to draw a line around the edge of each different layer and I used some brown ink on the smallest square (the one with the printing on it) to help it stand out a bit. Then, I glued a bunch of cute buttons on the bottom.
For the ribbon on the top, I used an Exacto knife to cut two small slits on the top and then pulled the ribbon through.

I really like these invitations and they could be modified for just about any event, depending on what patterned paper you use. Plus, you can't beat quick and easy for something this cute!