Everything’s Better With Cake

Happy Friday everyone!!  Also, Happy Mother’s Day (early) to all of you lovely mothers out there!!  What a great job you’re doing, raising beautiful children 🙂  I know it’s not an easy job, and sometimes it’s thankless and you wonder if you’re making a difference.   Trust me, you are!!

My daughter loves…I mean really LOVES the movie Frozen.  We watch it (almost) daily.  She and my son have even started watching it in Spanish & French.  They think the words sound funny & mostly just sit back and laugh at it.  I think my daughter is fluent in French now!

In the movie, there’s a scene where Elsa and Anna are observing their first party.  As they stand awkwardly and watch everyone dance & enjoy themselves, they make small talk.  I believe Anna (I could be wrong) wonders “what’s that amazing smell?”  Then, both girls sigh together “CHOCOLATE!” 

What is it about women and chocolate?  It can pretty much make any day better.  Earlier this week, we went over to a friend’s house for dinner.  When invited over, you of course must offer to bring something, so I volunteered to bring dessert.  I had recently found this yummy looking cake on Pinterest a few days earlier and I was dying to try it out!  

I think I’ve mentioned before that my hubby gets nervous when I try new things on our friends.  I guess he thinks I’ll mess it up and poison our friends or something.  My thinking on this is, if you can’t practice on your friends, who can you practice on?  And who better to try new things with??  If they’re really good friends, they’ll let you know if it’s terrible.

Well, to my delight, I found that the Cracker Barrel Coca Cola Chocolate Cake is our hostess’ favorite dessert at Cracker Barrel. I was happy, because she could offer a true taste test for the cake.  I was also nervous, because she could offer a true taste test for the cake!!  

Confession.  This was my first time to make a homemade cake from scratch.  Yes, if you’ve followed my blogs, you may occasionally see the cakes I decorate for friends and family.  And now you know my dirty little secret…I always, always use cake mixes.  They just seem so much easier and they taste pretty good (in my opinion), so I just never experimented with made from scratch cakes.  I was interested and nervous to see how this one would turn out.

The cake wasn’t hard to make at all.  Sure, it probably took 10 minutes instead of the 5 minutes a cake mix takes to whip up.  Sure, I may have had to buy a few more ingredients (most I already had on hand).  However, I was able to brag later on that the cake was MADE FROM SCRATCH!!  The recipe was very easy to follow.  

It was a huge hit!!!  My friend who almost always gets this cake at Cracker Barrel said it was BETTER than their cake!  I can’t think of any higher compliment!  Well, maybe one more…my hubby got not one, but 2 slices of it!!!  If you know him, you know he’s not as crazy about chocolate as I am.  I figured he would say it was “too chocolate-y” (which in my mind is NOT possible).  However, he loved it!!

The cake was a nice dense texture and not at all dry, which is what I was afraid of.  My friend confessed to me later that she was having some of the leftover cake for breakfast…nothing wrong with that!  It’s good hot, it’s good cold.  It’s good on the first day and it’s good a few days later.  It’s just good all around!

This cake will probably start showing up at a lot of church functions.  It will most likely start showing up in “The Cake Lady’s” cakes soon.  I love the icing, but it’s not one that I can decorate with, so I’ll use my tried and true Wilton buttercream icing to decorate with.

If you love chocolate, this cake is for you.  If you are like me and have never made a cake from scratch, this would be a good one to start with.  I think you’ll be impressed :).

On a completely unrelated note, my App, Mommy Matters, has gone through it’s first update.  It is only available on iPhone, so if you don’t have it yet, just search under “Mommy Matters”, it should be the first one to pop up.  You can also search under the developer, Tyler Brassfield.  My phone updated it automatically, but some don’t, so check it out and just update it.  There were some minor bug fixes and improvements.  I believe there have been some font color changes, etc.  While in the App store, check out other apps developed by Tyler Brassfield.  He is a gifted app developer that is doing a lot of apps for churches and other religious organizations.  He also happens to be my “little” brother 🙂  

Happy Friday!!! Make it a good one and bake a cake!

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It’s In The Bag

Sooo…I’m writing this post much in the same way that I’ve started my most recent posts…with snow on the ground.  Yep.  Snow.  In March.  Mid-March.  Three days before Spring.  *Sigh*  My mom told me that spring will be here soon.  I sure hope so!!

No matter how depressing or inconvenient the snow is, it has allowed me to do a little sewing!  Silver lining, right??  I am really excited to share this newest project with you.

First of all, I made this bag the other day.  I will tell you all about it in a later post.  Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE this bag.  I think it’s adorable.  But, after I finished making it, I discovered something…

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It’s HUGE!!!  You probably can’t tell in this pic, but trust me…BIG bag.  I really like a big bag to carry all my junk around in, so I was going to carry this, no matter the size.  But, I had visions of myself digging in the bottom of the bag, searching tirelessly for my keys, phone, etc.  

Several months ago, a friend of mine showed me a cute little pouch that snapped shut. She had gotten it at a crafts fair or something.  It was really cute and looked pretty handy.  It didn’t look like it would be too difficult to make, so I turned to my trusted source…Pinterest.  Low and behold, I found this link.

I had a bunch of leftover fabric from my bag, so I figured, why not?  I went to Wally World and bought a cheap measuring tape (I think my hubby would have been a little upset if I had used his!) and went to town.

Now, if you can cut in a straight line and sew in a straight line, you can make this pouch.  In no time at all, I had this…

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Here’s the inside…

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And one with stuff in it…

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My keys…so I don’t have to go on a scavenger hunt to find them!  I thought, why stop there?  It didn’t seem to take very long to make one.  So, being the nerd I am, I timed myself.  Not rushing through the process, I started the clock from the point of measuring and cutting out the fabric.  From cutting to done…21 minutes!!  This included cutting the measuring tape and taping the ends so it won’t cut through the fabric!!  I love it!

Today, I decided I needed a sunglass pouch.  My first attempt was a little short, so my ink pens ended up in that one.  My second attempt was better and I got this!

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All in all, I have made 4 (so far).  Not only are they super cute, easy to make, they also hold a lot more than you would think…

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That last pic is with everything inside!  Amazing, right!?  That would all be in the bottom of my bag…lost forever!

I can’t complain with anything in this project.  The tutorial is super easy to follow.  You can use scrap fabrics, fat quarters, fabric from the remnant bin…pretty much anything you have.  It takes hardly any time at all.  I can’t even calculate how inexpensive it is to make these.  I’ve already made 4, and I have a lot of measuring tape left!  If I had to estimate, I would say $1 to make one, and I think that’s on the high end.  

I’m sure school is going to be closed tomorrow.  I bet you can’t guess what I’ll be doing!!!

 

Don’t Skirt The Issue

If you look at my “sewing” board on Pinterest, you’ll notice most of my projects are bags.  I don’t know what it is about bags, but I love them.  I have acquired a lot over the years.  Big ones, small ones, in between size.  Bags for my hubby.  Bags for the kids.  Bags for the kids toys.  With the amount of bags I have, you’d think I’d be more organized…

One of the items I pinned was this one for a knock off skirt for 31’s “Skirt Purse”.  Now, let me first start by saying I LOVE 31.  It’s a great company, comprised of mainly bags and really cute purses.  What’s not to love???  And, I have several friends who sell 31.  I’ve had tons of parties, so I’m not knocking the company or their products.

However, sometimes, they get rid of a print I really liked.  Or, they don’t have one that I would like to have.  What’s a girl to do???  You make your own skirt!

I pinned this project a looonnggg time ago.  It’s about the 3rd from the bottom of my board, so that should tell you something.  When I joined Pinterest, I really didn’t have a lot of sewing experience, so this project intimidated me a little bit.  Yesterday, I decided to tackle it.

Let me start by saying, the tutorial is well done.  The instructions are clear and the pictures are helpful.  I love the fact that the pattern is FREE!  The skirt didn’t take a lot of fabric.  I’m not exactly sure, but I’d say it was probably less that 1/2 yard…but don’t quote me on that one!  I’d also say this is for a semi-beginner to newly intermediate sewer.  Don’t you just love my decisiveness!

From the time I started to cut the pattern out & piece it together, to hand sewing the clips on…it took me about 2 hours to make.  Seriously.  Two hours!  Talk about your instant gratification!!

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My son photo bombed one of my pics :).  I love this fabric that I found at Joann’s a few weeks ago!   I originally got it for another bag that I’m making.  Of course, I’m sure I’ll blog about it when it’s finished.

The only thing I changed from the tutorial was the way I placed the clips on the skirt.  Where they’re placed on the pattern didn’t quite line up with my purse.  I have another skirt that I used to line up the clips an it fit perfectly!  I also didn’t worry too much about sewing the clips on.  The instructions said to be careful to not sew through both layers of the fabric, or else your stitches will show on the outside part of the fabric.  I wasn’t willing to take time to slow down & I really dislike sewing by hand.  I reasoned that the top part of the purse covers up the clips anyway, so no one will notice.  Shhh….it’s our little secret.

If you’d like to make this skirt, but don’t have a skirt purse, click here.  This will take you to my good friend’s 31 website.  You can check out the catalog and even order from there 🙂

Have a wonderful day!  Happy sewing!

I Didn’t Start The Fire…

I know…I know.  It’s been a while.  Let’s see if I can remember how to do this.  Today, we had a snow day.  It’s March.  More specifically, March 3rd.  Now, around here, everyone says “We get our biggest snows in March”.  Gotcha.  I’ve lived in Virginia for over 6 years now.  I still can’t get used to that.  In Oklahoma, 2 weeks of March is “spring” and then it’s break out the shorts weather.   Thank you March snows.  My son will now be going to school during the summer.  

About 5 1/2 years ago, we started house shopping.  One thing my hubby was adamant about was getting a house with a secondary heat source, i.e. a wood stove.  I wasn’t too keen on the idea at first.  Wood was messy.  It made your house smell like smoke.  It could be dangerous around kids.  I had a list of reasons.  However, logic won out and we got a house with a wood stove.

Fast forward 4 1/2 years later…I wouldn’t trade our stove if you paid me.  Well, maybe if you paid me…but it would have to be a lot!  The type of heat you get from a wood stove is amazing.  It’s really hard to describe, but it’s warmer than any other type of heat source, if that makes sense.  If you have one, you know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, with our winter being what I would consider unusually long, our wood supply is getting dangerously low.  Even scarier…the fire starters we use to, well, start our fires are not being sold.  They”re seasonal items and in most parts of the country, it’s not that season.  So, where do you turn when Walmart runs out of your fire starters?  Pinterest, of course!

I found this link for DIY fire starters.  I had my doubts that they would work.  It seemed a little too simplistic.  Lint, egg cartons, string and wax.  Really?

The guy (I suppose it’s a guy who posted it…I could be wrong) mentions using Belgium Beer.  Nowhere in the tutorial could I find him using the beer in the fire starter.  Maybe he used it to celebrate with…who knows!

Other than eliminating the beer, I followed the tutorial verbatim.  I let them dry overnight, because I started making them around 10:30 at night.  As promised, when they dried, they were hard as a rock.  The tutorial said his starter lasted about 15 minutes.  Me, being the skeptic timed it.  Sure enough…the starter lasted 15 minutes on the dot & by the time it burned out, my fire was blazing.

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How does it compare to purchasing the fire starters pre-made?  Well, cost wise, it’s about half to make them.  The wax was about $4 for me.  I used about  1/4 of the box.  So, I figured it cost $1 to make 12.  If I have old candle wax that I can’t burn anymore, I can use that and the starters will cost me zilch.

It took me about 1 hour to make them, from start to finish.  One thing I’ll do differently is to cut the wax into much smaller pieces.  That was the most time consuming part of the project…waiting for the wax to melt.

My hubby was very impressed.  I figure if I make up a dozen or so each week during the summer, we’ll have plenty to use during the winter.

Now, if you’ll excuse me…I need to throw another log on the fire.

What An iLuminating Thought!

The other day, my hubby asked me, “Are you still writing your blog?”  Valid question.  It’s been a while.  Sorry about that.  I wish I had a good excuse…I’ve been too busy have mani/pedi’s every day.  Or maybe I’ve been too busy telling my personal chef & maids what to do.  Alas…it’s not that glamorous.  I’ve just been busy being a wife & mommy.  However, while not glamorous, it is an exciting life.

I want to share a great app with you today.  Developed by my little brother (enter shameless plug here)…it’s really cool app…definitely different from any other that he’s done before.  The app is for an online Christian magazine called iLuminate by KAIO Publications, Inc.  Here is the link to it in the App Store and here’s the link for Android users.  

It’s a free app with an in-app subscription.  Let’s talk logistics first.  When you download the app, you will be able to view the most recent issue for free.  If you like what you see, then you can subscribe to the magazine.  For a one time charge of $9.99, you get a year’s subscription (6 issues) of the magazine.  You have the ability to view the interactive magazine anytime you have internet connection.  If you are going to find yourself away from the internet (i.e. on a plane or at my house where signal goes to die), you can download the magazine in PDF format.  My brother also told me a lot of stuff that I didn’t 100% get, but I believe you can enter info in at the time of subscription and it will allow you to view the magazine on any of your devices or on your computer.

Joe Wells is the face behind iLuminate Magazine.  He is a minister from Jacksonville, Florida and has assembled a fantastic team of writers for his publication.  While the magazine is geared for teens, I believe it would be a great thing for parents and youth workers to check out as well.  It is a great mixture of light hearted advice and Biblical knowledge.  In a world where most teen magazines talk about how to get a boy to notice you and focusing on looks and fashion, it is refreshing to see a magazine focus on what really matters…the spirituality of our teens.  My children are a few years away from the teen years, but if you have a teen in your house right now, have them download this app (you might as well download it too Mom & Dad!  Check out what your kids are reading!).

Have a wonderful weekend & stay warm!!!

H”APP”y New Year!!

Ok…that title may be a bit of a stretch, but I do want to wish everyone a Happy New Year!  I hope your party last night was as exciting as mine.  Kiddos were in bed at 8-ish.  Hubby was asleep by 10:30.  I watched the ball drop in NYC, listened to my neighbors shoot off their guns (which is what you do when you live in the country…) and stoked the wood stove before going to bed.  I know!  We’re party animals!

So, 2014 is here.  This time each year, people make “New Year’s Resolutions”.  Usually, my hubby resolves to make no New Year’s resolutions.  Of course, by resolving that, he’s already broken his resolution…but I digress.

Most of the ones you hear are to exercise more…lose weight…etc.  One I heard last night on the Fox News NYC party…a girl resolved to “uh, like eat less Cheese-Its”.  Amazing.  That’s a tough one.  Of course, with good intentions, we go at our resolutions full force for a few months weeks days and then they become a distant memory.  If only there was something to help us keep a resolution.  If only there was an app for that.

Well, it’s your lucky day!  I happen to know an amazing app developer (my brother) who has developed an app to help keep your resolution, if your resolution is to read the Bible everyday.  Last year, he developed an app called “5 Minutes With God“.  It was originally developed for a congregation to guide it’s members to read the Bible every day of 2013.  It was wildly popular, so that prompted my brother to develop “5 More Minutes With God”.

5MWG takes you through the Gospel accounts in a year, with a devotional thought at the end of each reading.  5 More Minutes With God finishes up the rest of the New Testament, starting in Acts and going through Revelation.

When you download the app, no matter if you download it today (which I highly recommend) or if you download it in July, you will start on Day 1.

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The nice thing about the app is you can set it to remind you to have your 5 minutes with God.  If you have a set devotional time everyday, you can set it for then.  If you’re like me & are a little bit forgetful, this work out nicely.

This app is available here from the iTunes store and here for Android users.

So, why not download this FREE app today and get started on one New Year’s Resolution that you can keep and one that will truly make a difference in your life!

Towels In The Hood

Yes, I’m sure my hubby’s rolling his eyes at the title…what can I say?  I had a hard time coming up with anything else…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.  I’ve been busy with Christmas sewing projects.  Also, throw in a cake or two, and I’ve been a busy lady.

I didn’t post any of my sewing/Christmas gift projects until now because, well, I wanted them to be a surprise.  All in all, I have to say I was very pleased on how they turned out.  The first one I want to share with you are the hooded towels I made for my nephew & kiddos.

I discovered these on Pinterest, of course.  I’m not sure which I found first…the blogger or the post on Pinterest.  Either way, I’m glad I did.  The hooded towel tutorials are a product of Crazy Little Projects.  I highly recommend subscribing to her blog.  She comes up with adorable projects and also offers sewing tutorials.  All of the tutorials I’ve used of hers (and I’ve used a lot!) are well explained and come with lots of pictures.

For a year, she did one hooded towel tutorial per month.  You can see the ones for 2013 here.  For my nephew and son, I made an Angry Bird towel.  I hadn’t planned on making any for my kids, but once my son saw the towel I made for my nephew, he immediately wanted one 🙂

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Of course, I couldn’t make one for my son without making one for the princess.  So, naturally, I made her this one…

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She has declared her favorite color to be purple, which works for her (since it’s the color of royalty!).  She wasn’t cooperating very well in the photo, but it’s super cute on!!

The basic principle of the hooded towel is simple & the tutorial explains it very well.  Basically, the only thing you change is the “face” of the hood.  There are many more varieties of towel other than the ones made in 2013, so check them out!  I had made a monkey hooded towel earlier last year as well.  

The towels are a pretty economical gift (my nice way of saying cheap!!).  It really depends on what kind of towel you buy.  For the Angry Birds towel, it called for 1 large red towel, 1 red hand towel, and 1 yellow hand towel.  To make the 2 towels for my son and nephew, I used 2 large towels, and 1 hand towel of each color…so, I was able to get 2 towels out of the hand towels I bought.  I was even able to cut the crown for my daughter’s towel out of the yellow hand towel as well.  A little towel goes a long way 🙂 

It took me about 1 hour per towel.  I had to go slow on parts of it, because of the type of sewing machine I have.  Mine is about 60 years old, and I have to hold a lever while I zig zag sew…and there’s quite a bit of zig zagging to be done on the towels!  

I know that Christmas is over, but wouldn’t these towels make adorable Valentine’s Day gifts for your little ones?!  They’re also perfect for birthdays and baby shower gifts!!  And, with all the colors to choose from, the possibilities are endless!!

Have a wonderful Monday!!