Monday, January 31, 2011

Cake Pop Adventures

So I made the decision that I really want to do something creative, baking wise. I’ve talked about my love of cupcakes, in my Cupcake Wars entry, so I’m thinking I really need to nurture my passion. With that thought in mind, I threw caution to the wind and made cake pops this weekend!
For those of you who don’t know, a cake pop is a little ball of cake at the end of a lollipop stick. You can create any flavor you desire, anything that’s made into a cake mix (homemade or store bought). Seeing as this was my first creation, I wanted the cake to be something I knew Ryan would eat no matter how it looked…LEMON! So I took to the store and got the essential ingredients: lemon supreme cake mix, a tub of cream cheese frosting, eggs, vegetable oil, chocolate for melting (or candy melts), Styrofoam and sprinkles to decorate!
I really had no idea this was going to be such a time consuming project. I didn’t read the instructions from fully to see that it was going to be several hours versus one or two. Regardless, I was committed to making these cake pops! I followed the instructions on the box to bake the cake. Thirty-five minutes later I had to wait, what seemed like forever, for the cake to cool. Just an FYI, to occupy my time in my breaks I cleaned my house, watched a recorded show and went to the gym! I’m not a patient person. LOL.  Anywho, back to my adventure…  After the cake cooled, I proceeded to crumble the cake with the tub of cream cheese frosting. I used my hands to mix everything really well, a messy but delicious method. :)  I made what I thought were decent size balls, probably could have been a little bit smaller, and put them on a greased baking pan. Stuck the lollipop sticks in and put them in the refrigerator. After about 3 hours, recipe said to wait 2, but I wanted to make sure those suckers were hardened, I took them out and tried dipping them into the white chocolate. This is where it really got interesting!!! The sticks didn’t really hold the cake balls too well (find out why in ‘Lesson Learned’ section), so I was manually putting white chocolate all over the cake balls. To make matters worse, the Styrofoam was too tough and wouldn’t hold the lollipop sticks. So my hands were covered in white chocolate as I juggled the dipping of the cake balls, placing them on the baking sheet and trying to sprinkle them with little green crystals as the chocolate was hardening FAST! Goodness….it was a crazy system. But it worked; after I finished with my last cake pop (and consumed enough chocolate to last a week) I put the little guys into the fridge for another 2 hours.   
Yummy goodness! :)
Lessons learned: I thought I had made the cake balls to large, which is why the stick wasn’t able to support them as I was dipping them into the white chocolate; however, my friend Amanda informed me it’s because I needed to dip the sticks into the white chocolate first and then insert into the balls. That way when they are being refrigerated the chocolate would harden and cement the cake ball to the stick. Also, going to make sure the Styrofoam works for the lollipop sticks PRIOR to starting the chocolate dipping!

The end result (see photo); they didn’t turn out as great as I would have liked, but I’m definitely doing it again. Taking what I learned and adding a little more creativity into the décor, like the ones on! I will say however, that everyone who has tried them said they are scrumptious!! My goal is to be able to bring these delicious treats to family occasions and parties in the future.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Love Poem for My Dog

Many people may say this, but for my husband and I it's the absolute truth....our dog is like our child! I absolutely love my Chihuahua Bailey like he is my son. However crazy that may sound, I would shout it from the rooftops because there is NOTHING wrong with the deep love I have for my dog. There are so many wonderful characteristics he possesses, he loves me no matter what. He doesn't care if I have a bad hair day, gained 5 pounds, forgot to complete an important project for work or if I pissed someone off driving in traffic. All he requests is an opportunity to spend time with me, give me kisses and cuddle with me.

In honor of my wonderful puppy, here is a love poem...
  • I love thee passionately - despite your capability to lick in one ear and out the other.
  • I love thee deeply - given by the suffocating cuddles I give you.
  • I love thee madly - despite the decibal you chose to bark.
  • I love thee constantly - through walks in the freezing cold, rain and snow.
  • I love thee truly - despite the space you take up in my bed.
  • I love thee absolutely - given by the rawhides, treats and toys throughout the house.
  • I love thee fully - showcased in the prince like pampering you receive daily.
  • I love thee gratefully - because you stay by my side (or on my side).
  • I love thee devotedly - incorporating play dates, walks in the park and grooming.
  • I love thee openly - shout it from the rooftops and defend you to the death!
  • I love thee totally - more than I could have ever imagined.
The reason a dog has so many friends is that he love unconditionally. I've said it before and I'll say it again,  the world would be a much better place if more people emulate a dog.

I Love You Bailey Bear!

Understated Elegance

This weekend I was served up a diet coke at a restaurant. This act itself is not unusual, however the glass that it came in was….I drank my diet coke out of a mason jar!
Call me crazy, which you probably already do, but I thought that was fantastic! There is something so simple and classic about mason jars. They remind me of country living, minimal and easy going. I just loved this miniature phenomenon so much that I convinced my sister-in-law Amy, thanks btw, to pocket my glass. Once we returned home I opted to drink juice out of my newfound mason jar instead of our other glasses. I even went to Ryan and asked if we could give away all of our current drinking glasses and purchase mason jars…I cannot repeat his response! LOL.
This marvelous event got me thinking, besides drinking glasses mason jars really can serve all sorts of practical uses in the home. So here are a few ideas that I thought would be fantastic in our home!
Bathroom storage-a row of these jars would be perfect to store little bathroom items such as Q-Tips, hair barrettes/ties, bath salt, potpourri, etc. They wouldn’t look like clutter on the bathroom counter-which is something I cannot stand!
Arts & Crafts Storage- in my office I have limited space dedicated to storing my arts & craft supplies. This concept, side photo, is a perfect example of how mason jars can decoratively store my supplies.   It can also contain other office supplies such as paper clips, pens, pencils or sticky notes.

Kitchen storage- just as I mentioned for bathroom storage, mason jars would be perfect for the kitchen as well! Store spices that you use frequently such as flour and sugar. Or use it to store dry pasta, cookies or colorful candy! I think they work particularly well to store food in the kitchen because…duh, it’s the kitchen! Ha ha

Home décor- a mason jar will be an unexpected touch of down-to-earth style when used for home décor. I would use three or five (always an odd number) mason jars and fill them with bunches of flowers to be placed throughout my home. Just look at the photo, how pretty is that! In addition to a vase, these little jars would be great for candle holders! Don’t have to worry about any messes (and placed around the bath tub would give a spa like feeling)!
Anywho, maybe I’m taking my recent mason jar obsession a little far…but I’m seriously thinking about incorporating these ideas into the house. Given their minimal expense, I can’t see a reason not too!
Would love to hear your thoughts! :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Idioms, Idioms Everywhere

A good friend of mine and I were discussing the fact that she and her husband are trying to incorporate idioms into their conversations. Not the usual ones “crack me up,” “a piece of cake,” “between a rock and a hard place,” but uncommon ones into daily vernacular. 
Accepting the challenge, I decided to put that into practice into two different conversations. Both of which the recipients did not know my intentions…

Situation 1:
Friend- “OMG, I cannot focus to write this…”
Me- “Just got to bite the bullet, buckle down and get down to brass tacks!”
  •        Bite The Bullet: To accept something difficult and try to live with it.
  •        Buckle Down: to settle down to do something; to begin to work seriously at something.
  •       Get Down to Brass Tacks: To become serious about something.

Situation 2:
Ryan- “I love you, but you are a butt head”
Me- “You are all bark & no bite. Just a taste of your own medicine…”
Ryan- “Keep mouthing off…I will put you in your place when you get home.”
Me- “Mumbo jumbo”
Ryan- “You talk a big game when I’m not around.”
Me- “Pipe down & put a sock in it. We both know you won’t do anything…”
  •    All Bark And No Bite: When someone is threatening and/or aggressive but not willing to engage in a fight.
  •     A Taste Of Your Own Medicine: When you are mistreated the same way you mistreat others.
  •    Mumbo Jumbo: Nonsense or meaningless speech.
  •    Pipe Down: To shut-up or be quiet.
  •   Put a sock in it: To tell noisy person or a group to be quiet.

Stay tuned for continuous updates as I incorporate idioms into other conversations; after all, “practice makes perfect!” HAHA

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bathroom Reno Update

I posted previously on our Bathroom Renovation, which happens to be from my 30 Before 30 List, that we were remodeling our downstairs bathroom. It's been a project on our mind since we bought the house in 2008, but we just received the finances to make it possible. I am pleased to report that this can be checked off my list....
Completed Bathroom

As of this past weekend, our bathroom has been completed! After a LONG week, the work has been completed and we couldn't be happier with the results. The tile work on the floor and the walls is amazing. The Travertine tile is exquisite and the mosaic border adds so much elegance to the room. We decided on a Twilight Mauve paint color to complement the purple/brown mosaic tile which really brings out the purple color. Ryan and I's favorite, dark wood, was present in the vanity and mirror. The space feels HUGE compared to the previous bathroom. I am shocked at how much room we have in there. I literally could not stop looking in the bathroom and find myself opening the door just to gaze at it!

We've made a great decision, increasing the value of our house through a bathroom renovation, which will prove beneficial when we get our home appraised for selling in the future. For now.....we get to enjoy! :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cupcake Wars

Tonight is a new episode of Cupcake Wars and I'm super excited! I feel that cupcakes have been a big craze in the last year, leading to many television shows and local venues.  And I have surely added to the insanity! For my last birthday I had three different cupcakes for my party. I had a Gillian's Sundae (that was actually the name of it), a Bahama Mama and a delicious peanut butter cupcake from Carolina Cupcakery in Chesapeake, Virginia.

In addition to Cupcake Wars on FoodNetwork, there is also a new show on TLC called DC Cupcakes, which I actually got to sample because a vendor sent them to my work. They were absolutely delicious! The variety of cupcakes that are available are amazing. You can do spiked cupcakes, such as champagne, wine, rum, etc. You can do holiday treats with pumpkin, gingerbread and cranberry or even go into the staples such as red velvet, mint, black and white, etc. The options seem endless! Even as I watch Cupcake Wars I'm amazed at the combinations bakers put together. The challenges with wheat grass, sunflower seeds and parsley seem impossible but their creativity puts it all together nicely.

I definitely think I should add to my 30 Before 30 List to include taste testing as many new cupcake flavors as possible! That would be one sweet treat! :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Key West Trip

I am PUMPED to go to Key West this weekend! We have had this trip planned for several months and it’s finally here! Besides the terribly cold weather we’ll be escaping, I’m looking forward to seeing my grandparents and hanging out with family & the bestest friend a girl could ask for!
Warm weather!!!

On January 14th my grandparents will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary! Can I just say ‘WOW!’ I mean that is awesome to hear, especially since I feel like the news is always flooded with information about celebrities breaking up, it’s nice to see that some marriages can last forever! I’m excited to not only see them but celebrate their love as they renew their vows on a beach in Key West. My grandfather has been planning the whole event, including a reception and wedding cake afterwards! I just love these two people so much and look forward to the memories.

My best friend and her husband are coming with us on this trip! We have planned another vacation later this spring to go to Jamaica, but this will be the first vacation we’ve taken together. I’m excited to hang out and explore the island with them. This will be Ryan and I’s third trip but their first. We’re renting a house together and I’m looking forward to spending quality time vacationing with these lovely people. I just smile thinking of the great memories we’ll be talking about for years to come! 

Bathroom Renovation

Ever since Ryan and I bought our house we have wanted to redo the downstairs bathroom. It is hideous! Even the minor improvement we made to it didn’t hide the fact that it was UGLY! So when we received a little extra finances due to refinancing our home, we decided to invest it back into the home with this treasured renovation! 
So the demolition started on Saturday, January 8th. It took very little time to destroy all that was in there, vanity, remove toilet, and beat board on the wall and tile on the floor. But what did take the most time was the wall paper on the walls! I hate to say that we were among the guilty adding to the atrocious task of removing wall paper, but when we first moved in the wall paper was beyond help (see picture below).
World's Ugliest Wall Paper!
So we threw paintable wall paper on top and called it a day (or two years). But to bring the bathroom to its former glory, assuming when it was originally built it had no wall paper, we needed to remove the damage. And boy was there! The workers had to remove four layers of wall paper including the yellow painted wall paper we put on, the unsightly wall paper you saw in the previous photo, a white wall paper with blue flowers and an aluminum foil wall paper. I’m not lying or exaggerating when I say aluminum foil; it could have been Christmas wrapping paper-that’s how shiny it was! 
We’re on day four of the renovation and it’s coming along quite nicely. I’m super excited about the tile we picked out; I think it’s definitely mine and Ryan’s style. Here are a few photos of the process thus far:
The demo of our bathroom!

The lovely Travertine tile

The project is suppose to be done tomorrow night, will post photos of the completed project!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Today is the first day of 2011 and I am pumped! I cannot believe how fast 2010 went by but it’s a thing of the past…now it’s 2011 baby and I’m looking forward to all the great things it’ll bring.
I’ve not really been able to give this a whole lot of thought, but I NEED to think about my resolutions for 2011. I had a couple spiritual ones that I made with my power hour group (a bible study group) that meets on Thursdays, but I don’t know that I created any others last year. I know that I need to knock off a few things on my 30 Before 30 List such as redoing one of our bathrooms (project for January), go on another tropical vacation (April), take a cooking class with Ryan (Christmas gift) and do a full marathon (crossing fingers). But we’ll see if I brainstorm any others….I’ll get back to yah on that!