Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Surprise Inside" BOO Cake

One of my favorite blogs, i am baker, had a tutorial on how to make this BOO cake (link here). I was immediately intrigued.  I really wanted to make this cake.  I thought about the cake, I planned when I would make the cake, (time passed), I read the blog, I thought about the cake.... well, you get the idea.  Never made the cake.  Until Sunday night.  Thought I'd try it.  It was chilly outside, I was feeling a bit bored so what the heck, right?  Should be simple enough.  Well, it wasn't.

My "BOO" is a little off center and the cake edges were a little dark, but it tasted pretty good!

I've been pretty fortunate that things sometimes come easy to me.  I don't know how to do a lot of stuff, but if the directions are good or someone shows me, I can pretty much do it.  I thought the same for this cake.  

Despite the outcome (I'm foreshadowing here....) I did learn a lot.  I learned how to make cake pop cake  - not one of my interests, but hey, it's good info.  I learned how to make a surprise inside treat - someday I'll try that again.  I learned that it's okay to fail and that sometimes the second time around may be better. 

Some things to think about....
I followed the directions on the blog and had some difficulty with the baking part. When I made it the first time I didn't cook it long enough.  It was a soupy mess inside.  On the second try  I ended up cooking that dang cake for probably close to an hour.  It was definitely longer than the directions on the box recommend.  Check with a LONG toothpick or skewer for doneness.  I think the density of the surprise inside affects the bake time.

Plan for this taking a bit of time.  It took me a couple of hours.  (A glass of wine nearby helps too.)

Save your leftovers.  I saved the surprise inside cake mixture that I didn't use and ended up using it on my second try.  The frosting leftovers came in handy as well.  If I were to do it again, I would pour the cup or so of leftover white  batter into cupcake tins and make a few of those in addition to the cake.

People LOVE THIS CAKE!  I didn't know how it would turn out and took it to work thinking it would be thrown away, but people loved it!  And they loved the BOO.  

And after making it successfully the second time around I might try it again.  Maybe.  

This icing from i am baker.net is still one of my faves!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Succulent Pumpkin Fall Decoration

An article in the Orange County register today had a picture of a pumpkin that had succulents attached somehow.  Oh man that thing was beautiful!  I immediately went to YouTube and within minutes had pulled up several videos on making one of these puppies.  Didn't look too difficult, so off to Trader Joe's (for pumpkins) and Home Depot (for succulents) I went.  A couple of hours later, I had three pretty cool decorations! 

The total cost was about $30 for three and the directions will be posted on the Project Instructions page on this blog.  I encourage you to give it a try.  What's the worst that could happen?  If it doesn't look right, or you're not happy with it, you pull out the succulents, put 'em in your garden or in a pot and carve up that dang pumpkin!  It's a win win!

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A spritz with water now and then and it'll be happy!

A close up of some of the goodies that were glued on the top - squirrel-eaten pinecones, little immature pinecones that fell off the tree and little berries I scrounged from the neighborhood.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Simple Thank You Banner

I've said over and over again how lucky I am to work where I work.  Sure, there are days when I'm on my last nerve, but if you're on your last nerve in an environment where people have a sense of humor and genuinely respect and like one another it's not so bad after all.

Last week was Bosses Day.  Our clerical staff put together a pot luck lunch that was so welcomed that it was beyond belief.  It's been a pretty stressful and busy time of year (can you say Homecoming?) so not having to eat lunch at my desk was wonderful.  All the food was delicious and made with thoughtfulness.

Besides the verbal thank you, I'm all about thank you notes.  But sometimes, when it's a group effort, those get a bit overwhelming.  But all of those ladies deserved recognition for a job well done.  So, how about a banner?

I cut coordinating scrapbook paper into 4x6 pieces.  I used a fun font and printed up the letters I needed.  I cut some 1" strips to make little loops to thread the yarn through the letters to hang it and lastly, I made some hearts for the "bosses" to write a simple thank you.

The banner was strung up in the office and I hope every time someone passes it and sees it, they will realize we really do appreciate one another.  And we're very lucky.

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

I'm "Falling" for Cheapie Home Accents!

Well, here in So Cal, the weather is finally changing!  The common belief is that we don't have seasons here and we joke that we do - two of which are flooding and fires!  But all kidding aside, we do have trees that show fall colors and we can definitely sense a change in the weather.

I love fall.

I am still on a very strict budget and am very reluctant to spend money on seasonal items unless it's a real deal (this is a far cry from the old pre-recession days where money was no object).  It's actually a lot more fun now because it's like a treasure hunt!

This weekend, I went into JoAnn's Fabrics looking for some fabric.  I was planning to start a couple of Christmas presents early so I wasn't in a big rush later.  All their Halloween and fall items were more than half off!  I sorted through the stuff and nothing really caught my eye.... until I found four, just four!, placemats that were brown and light blue.  The exact colors of my dining room!  They ended up being less than $2.50 each!!  

Second stop was the Tuesday Morning store right next door.  They had these fabulous ceramic pumpkins that weren't Halloweenish.  I bought two - the larger was $12.99 and the smaller was $6.99.  I also found a coordinating candle (it had a little dent in it, but who would notice?) for $2.99.  On my morning walk today I picked up a few pinecones. Perfect centerpiece items!!

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So, for less than $30 I'm a happy camper.  Plus I can keep this centerpiece through Thanksgiving since there is no black or orange in it at all!  Yay fall!

Placemat design

A sprinkle of fall in So Cal

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Rice Krispie Treat Birthday Cake

Who knew how cool this cake would be?  And how easy!

Another staff birthday and another opportunity to try a new recipe.  I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs Sprinkle Bakes.com.  It's a cake with Rice Krispie Treat layers!  Three of them!!

I followed the directions as closely as I could and have all my steps on my recipe page.  I did change a couple of things because I didn't have the same kitchen equipment, but the result was just as fun!

The birthday banner was put to use again, and I love how the colors matched the cake perfectly!  What a fun celebration!  I would highly recommend giving this cake a try - especially when the weather is a bit warm - no oven required!