Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It is sooooo vacation time

That's right, I'm outta here.

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I leave for Yosemite with P-Dawg and her monkeys. It's time for our annual trip, and I'm so looking forward to it. This year it's a small crowd - just eight of us. That may not be small to some of you, but when you consider there are 35 of us on a full year, it's pretty small.

I'll be trying to think of good blog posts while I'm there, although I won't have access to a computer. I will take tons of pictures, however.

And, on a random note, I'm trying to think of more blog topics that aren't just me rambling to you about my life. I was reading P-Dawg's blog and I saw that she asked for questions from her readers, and she's doing a Q&A type thing. What a great idea!!

So, is there anything anyone wants to know about me? My job, my home, my family, or my mad cake pop making skills? Cooking, cleaning, my obsession with Martha Stewart and Monica Geller?

Go ahead, ask away!!

And bye ya'll. I'll be back on Sunday.

OMG people read my blog!

How cool is this?! I got an email from a woman who works for a public relations firm that works with Home Goods. She read my blog post about my awesome shopping trip this weekend, and all the great stuff that I got at Home Goods.

This is part of what she wrote:

I wanted to let you know HomeGoods has a Customer Finds section on our website where shoppers like you can submit great finds at great prices. Here is a link to the site: http://openhouse.homegoods.com/index.php/finds/ – as you know our merchandise is always changing and this site is a great way for us to spread the word on great finds. We would love it if you’d share your finds with other HomeGoods shoppers!

So, now I'm off to write about my fabulous finds on the HomeGoods website. Maybe you guys should do the same!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Look what I made!

I think I'm one step closer to domestic goddess.

I’ve always loved “home-maker” activities – cleaning, cooking, baking. I know, call me strange, but I think I spent a previous life either as a 1950’s housewife or a woman on the prairie (I get so excited over new appliances - you should have seen me when we got our washer and dryer!). I love doing crafty things at home, and now that I am infact a wife and a homeowner, I love making things for my own home (I did before as well, but it’s different when you’re living in an apartment).

So this weekend I’d been spending a lot of time looking at people’s blogs, especially Bakerella’s. I love her blog – she makes cake bites, cupcake bites, and cake pops. They are so incredibly creative, and I can only hope to one day make cake pops as well as she does. She was even featured on Martha Stewart!!

I spent yesterday shopping for things for my house. My day didn’t start out that way, but I’d been looking at several websites the day before (Cost Plus, Pier 1, etc.) and found several things I just “had” to have.

I should mention here that I’ve also been re-watching my Friends dvds. Can I tell you a secret? (I thought so.) I wish Monica Geller were a real person, so I could meet her and talk cleaning and cooking. I also wish I could meet her so she could tell me where she got all the fantastic things in her apartment; I swear she is my decorating guru (no, I don’t have purple walls, but I love her dishes, bowls, coffee table…I seriously take pictures of the tv so I can remember a specific item and then I shop around for something similar. Yes, I really do).

So with Friends, blogs, and home-maker stuff on my brain, I headed out. I got a great platter and pitcher at Cost Plus, then I went next door to Home Goods; I really shouldn’t have. Here I got some plates, and a great serving bowl. I put back a LOT of stuff (my family makes fun of me because when I shop, I shop for a long time. I put everything I like in my cart, then as I walk around the store some more, I decide I don’t need everything and I put stuff back. If I go in and out of a store quickly, grabbing things and then heading straight for the register, I’m in trouble. Then comes the buyer’s remorse and the flurry of returning).

Then I went to Pier 1 and got some great glasses and a couple of mugs. Next was JoAnn’s…I went there only for felt, because I got the idea to make my own plate separators (I saw plate separators at Bed Bath and Beyond, and almost bought them but thought, Why pay for these when I can buy a yard of felt and make my own in multiple sizes? Now I have separators for plates, bowls, platters, etc.) I also bought some fat quarters because there were buy two get one free, although I have no idea what I’m going to make with those. Finally, I found a yard of upholstery fabric in the remnants section. It was originally $39.99 a yard, but because it was a remnant it was $19.99 for the yard, and it was GORGEOUS!! I’ve been looking for fabric to recover a bench I have in my entry way for years (I haven’t really been looking that hard, but I’ve been meaning to recover this bench for years), and so I snatched that right up (pictures coming later of the bench; I have to wait for hubby to bring his heavy duty staple gun home from his shop).

Finally, I went to Michael’s to check out the cake decorating stuff (oh I got some at JoAnn’s as well). I want to head out to Cake Castle, which is the only true cake decorating store that I know of in or around town, but it was too far to go yesterday and Michael’s was just fine for what I needed. I got fondant and gum paste mix, so I can play around with those. I got cute cupcake wrappers, a few new colors to make different frosting (including copper, which apparently is used to make flesh tones…so exciting!), some candy melts, and a few candy molds, plus lots of other stuff. It was so much fun!! The only thing I couldn’t find was edible ink pens to draw on the cake pops and/or cupcakes.

When I got home, I unloaded everything (making a huge mess) and got to work unwrapping stuff, putting a few things away, and working on my bench (this was before I found out there was no staple gun to be found in our home). I got the bench seat uncovered, and I put an oil on the wood of the bench to brighten it up a bit. It looks good!

Then, I got to work on the cake balls. I forgot to take pictures in the beginning stages, when I crumbled everything up, but I’ll do that next time.

First, I made a regular old chocolate cake.

Then, I let the cake cool completely, and I crumbled it in my food processor (I got a new one, but more on my food processor later). Next, you’re supposed to mix almost an entire can of frosting into the crumbled cake; however, the only frosting I had was funfetti, which I don’t think would work very well. So, I whipped up a batch of buttercream icing using my absolutely freaking adorable pink KitchenAid mixer…I know, I felt so Martha Stewart.

Then I mixed the frosting with the crumbled cake, and formed the cake mixture into little balls. Meanwhile, I melted my candy melts. I then placed the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and inserted popsicle-stick things (the round paper ones, I am blanking on the name right now) that I had dipped in my melted candy melts halfway into the pops. Then they went in the freezer.

I left them there for ten to fifteen minutes, just to firm a bit so crumbs wouldn’t make it into my candy melts. Next, I dipped the cake pops into the candy melts, let them drip off the excess, and rolled them in different sprinkles. Finally, I stuck them in a piece of foam to dry.

They turned out so cute!!

I wrapped each one in a little cellophane bag and they were ready to go!

Now, I just have to figure out what to do with them…

Okay, so here is what I learned on my first foray into cake pops:

1. Bakerella says that you make the balls quarter size, and that a regular cake mix will make 40-50 balls. My mix made 22 balls. Clearly, I made them a little too big.
2. Apparently one of the reasons to make the cake pops into small balls is so that when you’re rolling them in the melted candy melts, they don’t fall off into the candy because they’re so heavy. I ended up sort of tapping them in the candy, rather than rolling; when I rolled them they came off their stick.
3. It must take a lot of practice to make them perfectly round; mine were not, although the melted candy and sprinkle coating did help hide their imperfections.
4. Getting the melted candy perfectly smooth seems impossible. I’m not sure how Bakerella does it.
5. Next time I’ll put a little less buttercream in the cake mixture. I didn’t measure because I had homemade frosting, rather than a can; they came out fine (and are actually pretty darn tasty) but they could use a little less frosting.
6. Even though I had a few mishaps and my cake pops aren’t perfectly round, they are absolutely freaking adorable and I had fun!!
7. Cake pops are messy, and your kitchen may look like this when you’re done.

And just to finish it off, here's a shot of some of the stuff I got yesterday

Alright all you crafty people - I showed you mine, time to show me yours. What will you guys come up with next??