Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Chocolate Vanilla Layer Cake From Heaven

Mr. Man had the audacity to turn seven earlier this week.  I distinctly remember forbidding him to turn seven last year at this time (you can read about that here) and the little punk went ahead and did it anyway.  I didn't cry this year...even though my inner Sappy Mama really wanted to what with all the reminders that my baby is gone and this big, stinky, opinionated kid is slowly replacing him that every birthday brings.  

Instead, I focused my sentimental energies into creating the best birthday cake ever. Okay, maybe there have been prettier birthday cakes and technically superior birthday cakes but this one was definitely the tastiest one ever.  If I do say so myself.  Which, I just did. So there.

Mr. Man asked for "a huge cake with lots of layers and some are chocolate and some are vanilla with chocolate frosting" and so, I obliged with this bad boy:

Like I said, technically perfect it was not but delicious...oh, my.  I can't take credit for the recipe, I actually adapted it from this lovely blogger whose post I discovered on Pinterest (of course-where else does anyone get any information of value these days?).  She made a three layer Neapolitan cake with this recipe, (which I'm exited to try sometime-perhaps this winter for Miss A's b-day) but I just used the chocolate and vanilla layers.  I followed her recipe exactly only, I used a Pillsbury Pudding in the Mix box mix as the base instead of Duncan Hines.  I don't think it made a difference.  Here's the recipe:
  • 1 cake mix
  • 1 3.9 oz (small box) instant jello pudding ( choc or vanilla respectively)
  • 2 TB flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup applesauce
Combine dry cake mix, pudding and flour in mixing bowl, then dump in everything else.  Mix on low for 1 min, medium for 2 minutes until well combined.  Prepare a 9″ round cake pan with cooking spray and a piece of parchment paper cut to fit. (I skipped the parchment paper shenanigans).  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

(I cheated and just used a canned vanilla whipped cream frosting between the layers-FYI)

For the chocolate frosting I made a simple Whipped Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 12 ounce bag semi sweet chocolate chips 
 Place chips in a bowl and pour heavy cream over the top.  Microwave approximately 90 seconds until chocolate is soft.  Allow to sit for a few minutes until chocolate melts further.  Stir until combined.  Place in fridge to cool for around 30 minutes and then whip with an electric mixer until mixture is fluffy.  It's important to let it cool enough before whipping or it won't fluff up the way it should.

It starts off looking like this

And turns into this after a few minutes

 There's something sort of Shabby Chic/Dr. Seuss about it, isn't there?  

  Mr. Man was very impressed, even though it started to lean a bit after transporting it from the counter to the table. It just added to the charm, I think.  Seriously, though-I will never make a cake with any other recipe.  It tasted so, so good!  Unbelievably delicious and moist! 

(MommyCAR, are you out there? I know how much you love a moist cake). ;P

These were Mr. Man's exact words:

"Mom, you should enter this in a cake contest.  It's like you didn't actually make this cake, it's like it just fell down to earth from heaven."  

That's all my inner Sappy Mama needed to hear...

Go bake this cake, even if you have no birthdays in sight!  Do it.  Do it now.  

Happy Baking Everyone,


Thursday, July 19, 2012

DIY Framed Fabric Wall Decor

It's silly, but I'm so freaking proud of myself right now.  I'm DIY-er, who knew??  

I was inspired by something I saw on Pinterest and instead of just repining this little idea to my "Home Decorating Ideas" board and then immediately mentally pinning it to my "Crap That's Cool But I'll Never In A Million Years Actually Do" board, I actually did it.  

Procrastination: 0 Me: 1...Yay me!! Okay, so this has got to be the easiest DIY project in the history of DIY decorating projects.  Like, I'm talking a monkey could do this.  But hey, you've gotta start somewhere, right??

So here's my inspiration from the Better Homes and Gardens (via Pinterest) website:

I had just been lamenting to myself about how bare and uninteresting my little first floor powder room was and thought this would be a super easy and super cheap remedy for that unsightly situation. 

So, after dropping Mr. Man off at a play date, Miss A and I scooted on over to our local craft store and headed straight for the fabric section (by way of the candy, toy, and princess birthday party paraphernalia sections thanks to my meandering and incredibly stubborn shopping companion). 

I found four lovely fabric remnants on the shelf of remnants for $3 a piece.  Here they are:

Then we headed down the road to Goodwill in search of some frames.  I found some great frames for super cheap-they happened to have some super ugly pictures inside of them:

Sorry, this is an awful picture-I was burning cooking dinner, talking on the phone with my sister and breaking up fights between my precious offspring while working on this project so I was less than focused on my photography skills.  In fact, you can actually see a shadow of me directly under the chandelier snapping this shot with my iPhone if you look closely. Stupid.  Anyway...

I took out the ugly pictures and placed them on top of my fabric pieces, cut out the fabric slightly larger than the pictures and wrapped the fabric around the cardboard, secured with masking tape, and then reframed the fabric wrapped pictures and Voila! So easy.  

Here's the finished products hanging on my powder room wall:

Cost of fabric remnants: $12.60
Cost of four frames from Goodwill: $7.32
Total cost of project: $19.92

I love, love, love how this turned out! And I can't believe it cost under $20!  

I might even be ready to tackle a more difficult DIY project, like making my own dining room table out of a salvaged barn door or some crap like that. If I can frame fabric I can do anything!  Or maybe I'll just go back to my comfort zone of pinning and dreaming and procrastinating...

Happy DIY-ing everyone! 


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