Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hot Wheels Birthday Cake

Today Joe and I dug our driveway out from under about 10 inches or more of snow for the SECOND time in less than a WEEK. Not cool Kansas. Not cool.

Animal tracks in the snow. 
The nice thing about this excessive snow is that Joe and I both stayed home from work. We did both have our work laptops at home so we were able to get some actual work done, but really it was just nice to be at home during the day together. I did spend part of my time today scraping wallpaper in the dining room. And on that note, I'd like to go ahead and make a little public service announcement: DO NOT PAINT OVER WALLPAPER. It will make it unbelievably difficult for someone to remove that wallpaper down the road when it starts to not look so hot. Thank you, that is all.

See. It's not coming off easy.

Now back to this Hot Wheels birthday cake. This was another cake that I did for Birthday Blessings KC, and this time I decided to try and go with a theme for one of the gifts that the birthday boy requested, which was Hot Wheels. On the cake requirements I received, it said that the birthday boy's favorite color was red, so that went along nicely with the Hot Wheels theme. I tried a new icing technique on the sides of the cake and it worked out pretty well. My friend Shayna and I tag teamed this cake while Joe and her husband, Greg, worked on our wood floors :) This cake came together really quick and personally I think it looked really cool! Here are a couple more pictures.

I found a new use for our aloe vera plant :) Drying icing bags!

Not much new is going on around here other than having two big snow storms in the last week. We had some friends over to watch the Oscars on Sunday night and had a really great time with them. Some of us may have had a little too much fun, ahem. We dressed up in our red carpet best (mine was my freshman year homecoming dress) and drank champagne.

We were the only 4 who dressed up.

Joe and I also bought a hot air popcorn popper that weekend so I could make a couple "fancy" popcorns for our party. Let me just say that this popcorn popper is possibly my new favorite kitchen appliance. It's just so fun and easy to use! I'll be posting a recipe for caramel corn sometime in the near future :) I guess that's it for tonight, have a great rest of the week!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Our New Wood Floors!

They're finally done! Last night, Joe and I nailed in the final boards for the new wood floor in the dining room. That completed the installation process for both front rooms of our house. We both love how they turned out and I have to say I'm quite proud of us for getting it all done. Before I go into our flooring process, you may have noticed that I've failed to post anything on here for the last couple weeks so I wanted to give you a quick recap on what we've been up to.

Just a quick "before" picture of the living room. 

Two weekends ago, Joe and I spent a while removing the carpet and preparing the sub floor in the dining room for the new wood floors. Then after a 7 mile(!) run on Saturday, my Uncle Dave and cousin Matt came in town and stayed with us for a night on their way to visit a school a little farther south in Missouri. It was good to see them and visit for a while. The next day I had to fly down to Houston for a pipeline conference and class that was from Monday thru Wednesday. The conference was fun (as fun as a pipeline conference can be) but the real highlight of the trip was getting to visit and have dinner with Mimi on Monday night. Mimi made a delicious shrimp casserole for me and my friend who was also at the conference. Thanks again, Mimi, it was good to see you! I got home on Wednesday afternoon and immediately started making two Valentine's desserts, one for Joe and I and one for me to bring to work. Then this past weekend was spent working on the dining room floor and making another Birthday Blessings cake (which I'll post about soon). Aaaaaaand I guess those are all the high points :)

The living room after tearing out the carpet.

Back to the floor. Joe and I had talked about installing floors in our living room and dining room for a while and after checking out the selection at Lumber Liquidators we found some flooring we liked but decided to wait for a really good sale. I signed up for email updates from them so when a good deal popped into my inbox we jumped on it and got our floors. A few weeks after that we finally borrowed the tools we needed from our friends (thanks Steve and Mandy & Paul!) and were able to get to work. Before getting started though, we watched a few helpful videos on YouTube about installing wood floors. It was slow going at the start when we were having to do all the nailing by hand, and the angled doorway in the living room didn't help matters either.

Joe nailing in the first row!

Evidence that I helped too. 

Once we were able to start using the nail gun though, we sailed along much quicker. The end was slow again when we didn't have room to use the nail gun and had to hand nail the boards.

Half way done!
But once it was complete and cleaned up, it was well worth the effort and the knee pain. I was the one who had to crawl around on the floor and place all the boards. Joe manned the nail gun. I only have finished pictures of the living room but you'll just have to take my word that the dining room is done too. There will be pictures of it eventually.


A slightly better picture with better lighting. Oh, and we plan to eventually refinish the lighter floors to match the new ones.
Thanks for sticking around through that lengthy post! I've got several other things to share with you on here so hopefully I'll be a little quicker between posts.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Birthday Blessings Cake

Before I tell you about another cake I made, I need to announce the winner for the Blog Birthday Giveaway. The winner is.....my Aunt Audrey! Congratulations! I hope you enjoy your new kitchen tools :) Thanks to everyone who commented to try and win. I wish I could send a prize to all of you!

Now back to the cake. I made this cake for a local organization called "Birthday Blessings KC". It is the second one I've made, but I forgot to take pictures of the first. Birthday Blessings KC is a group that provides a birthday cake, present and balloons to kids who may not have gotten much of a birthday celebration otherwise. Volunteers sign up to provide one of the three items and then they are all delivered together on the child's birthday.

I found out about this group from a flyer that I picked up at a local baking supply shop that I frequent. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to give something back to the community while doing something I love. It doesn't hurt that I'm getting some good practice in with each cake I make too :) There are guidelines that Birthday Blessings sets for the cakes, like no fondant, or characters. The birthday children get to pick their favorite cake flavor and a couple of favorite colors for the cake, then the bakers get free reign from there. This cake was for a 1 year old little girl, and though I doubt she was able to pick her favorite flavor or colors, her parents requested a lemon cake and said the favorite colors were purple and green. I decided to try the ruffle icing technique that I've seen all of the internet lately. It was super easy and is now my second favorite way of icing a cake, along with the icing roses (like on the 4th of July Cake).

Close up of the ruffles.

On the first cake I made for Birthday Blessings, I used the icing rose technique. Although I didn't get a picture of it, you can catch a small glimpse of it on the Kansas City Star Newspaper website (it's the 3rd picture). It just so happened that on the day I had to deliver the cake to the organizers house, she was being interviewed by the newspaper about Birthday Blessings. The also interviewed me a little bit, but none of my interview made it into the newspaper :( At least they got a quick picture of my cake for the website since I didn't get any. I've signed up for another cake already, but it seems like the cake spots fill up quick. I hope to make many more though.

I guess that's it for tonight. I promise that in the next post, I'll show off those wood floors that we installed that I keep talking about! I hope you all have a great week and thanks again for all the nice comments on the blog birthday post!

Friday, February 1, 2013

One Year Blog Birthday!

It's finally the weekend! This has been a long week and as usual I'm afraid it's going to be a quick weekend. For today though, I'm going to celebrate the fact that I actually kept up with (and thoroughly enjoyed) writing this blog over the past year. When I sent out my first post a year ago today, I wasn't sure if people would read it, if I'd find enough to write about, or even if I'd be able to keep it up. Thanks to all of you who read this and give me positive feed back, I was encouraged to keep going. I really love when I hear that someone actually tried a recipe or project that I post on here and it has been so great to keep up with you all through this blog.

I try not to focus too much looking at my blog "stats", but it is fun to see how many people read the blog. Typically it's a pretty modest number, but last October that number really exploded when those Halloween wine bottles I made went crazy on Pinterest. Since then I've had many more views on the blog, but most of them are just for the wine bottles :)

You may have noticed that I post a lot of baked goods and sweets on here. That's because they're my favorite things to make AND eat! The problem is that I do eat them and I eat too much of them. I really wish I could share some of these things with you all, but logistically, it's kinda difficult. Instead I thought I would put a few of my favorite baking tools/utensils (new ones of course) together into a little prize for one of you. Consider it a birthday present from the blog :) Now I couldn't give you my absolute favorite kitchen tool which is my KitchenAid mixer, but maybe one day. The things that I do have to give away are:

- A Silpat baking mat - This will fit on a jellyroll size pan and is completely non-stick. It's great for cookies, breads and anything else you might bake, and it keeps you from having to waste parchment paper or grease the cookie sheet.
- A bench scraper - I use this to transfer chopped veggies from a cutting board to a pot, cut dough up into pieces, smooth the sides of cakes and who knows what else. It really is very useful.
- A pair of mini spatulas - I have a similar set to these and use them almost every day! They're great for scraping out small measuring cups that you can't fit a regular spatula in. They also scrape out jars and cans that aren't wide enough for other scrapers. And they're better than using spoons because they have nice flexible sides that make sure nothing is missed.
- Grease proof cupcake papers - These I really just wanted to throw in because they're fun. But the really great thing about them is that they are "grease proof" which means that they'll maintain their bright colors even after something is baked in them.

Well, that's all I have for you! haha. All you have to do is leave a comment below letting me know what you'd make first if you won this :) I'll leave this open for a few days so everyone who wants to has time to enter. The winner will be picked on Tuesday. This weekend before the Super Bowl I'm hoping to finally post about that special cake that I mentioned a couple posts back. I actually forgot to take pictures of it, but I'm making a similar cake for tomorrow, so I'll be sure to get pictures of that. Thank you again to every single one of you who actually reads this! You make it fun for me :) I hope you all have a great weekend, talk to you later!