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My very first Cake Decorating Class – Detailed in Pictures

My first cake decorating class was tons of fun and I can’t wait to go back for more.  This was a Basic Cake Decorating class.  The cakes were pre-baked for us and the instructor covered everything from tips and tricks to bake the best cakes, how to fill a piping bag,  how to make buttercream frosting, and we even made delicate roses to adorn our cakes with!

Here was the station when I first arrived.  They supplied everything we needed — and look — they even served wine!!

We practiced piping techniques:

We leveled our cakes:

We piped a border and filled our cakes with raspberry filling:

We practiced icing our cakes:

Then we smoothed the icing out:

And check out this cool basket weave pattern we piped:

Then we colored our buttercream and created beautiful roses:

The instructor even provided boxes so that we could take our masterpieces home:

My favorite parts of the class were learning the basket weave technique and how to make buttercream roses.  Easter is right around the corner and I can see myself using these techniques to make a beautiful spring cake!

If you’ve ever considered trying a class like this, my recommendation is to DO IT!!  I learned a lot and it’s fun being in class with others that share your same passions.

My take on New Year’s Resolutions

Happy Sunday, Friends!

We are officially one week into 2018 and I thought it would be fitting to share my take on New Year’s resolutions.  Here it is:

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe self-reflection and goal-setting are great things; I just don’t believe we need to wait until the start of a new year to do them.  I believe we should be doing self-checks and setting goals throughout the year.  But I’m also not the kind of girl who waits to start her diet on Monday.  You know the old adage: why put off for tomorrow, what you can do today?  That’s my jam.

But back to self-reflection and goal setting.  I have spent the past year seriously working on my post-twin-mommy body, trying to get back to my pre-babies’ self.  It’s been a struggle at times, but I have stayed steadfast in my determination to get there.  I am happy to report that I am killin’ it in the gym and am now back to wearing almost all of my pre-pregnancy clothes ( a major win for me)!  I will continue to work on all aspects of my fitness this year: lifting heavier weights, increasing my stamina and endurance, and eating a (mostly) balanced diet with treats thrown in here and there.

Another goal of mine is to hone my baking and decorating skills.  I love beautifully decorated sugar cookies and thoughtfully crafted cakes.  I have dabbled in both of these in the past, but never really put forth a strong effort to getting better at doing them.  I have decided now is a better time than any to do this and so, courtesy of Mr. Effortless (cause’ he’s thoughtful and supportive like that), I’ve signed up to take a cake decorating class and also a Valentine’s Day cookie decorating class.  I hope to be able to turn out beautifully decorated treats like these in the near future:

Image from The Cake Parlour – London

Image from angelicamademe.com

Image from heidimix.blogspot.com

Image from christyssavories.com

In short, my New Year’s resolution message is this: personal growth and development should be done all throughout the year.

Cheers to a wonderfully prosperous 2018 full of growth and new adventures for all of us!

Turkey and Egg Salad – Healthy Eating Recipe

Are you looking for new healthy meal ideas for the new year?  Try this delicious recipe for Turkey and Egg Salad featuring a Jennie-O Lean Turkey Ham.

 

INGREDIENTS

6 oz. turkey, chopped

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

2 Tbsp onion, chopped

1 tsp mustard

1 Tbsp sweet relish

1 Tbsp mayo (you may sub fat-free or low-fat mayo)

salt/pepper

430 kcal

DIRECTIONS

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.

That’s it!

If you’re low carbing it or on a keto diet, you can eat this as is, straight out of the bowl.  It’s how I like to eat it cause’ it’s packed full of flavor and definitely filling on it’s own.

Or, you can spread it on bread and make a sandwich.  Either way, it’s yummy!

Enjoy!

Minimalist Winter Tablescape

Hi there, friends!

I’ve got a couple of pics to share of how I transitioned my dining room table to a simple, winter-themed tablescape featuring a buffalo check throw blanket as the table runner, some faux greenery, pinecones, and candles for embellishment.

I’m loving the simplicity of it after the exuberance of my Christmas décor.  It just feels so fresh and so clean (clean….shoutout to Outkast!).

I just lit this Balsam Fir candle and now our entire house is smelling like a winter forest…love it!

Do you do any transitional decorating in your home post-Christmas?  Do tell….

New Year’s Eve – Inspiration for Your Very Own “Bubbly Bar”

Hi there!  I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.  I seem to get amped up for every holiday and then BOOM!  They’re over in the blink of an eye and it’s on to the next one.  Next up….New Year’s Eve.  But can I tell you that I stopped in a Neighborhood Walmart grocery store today and they already have an aisle full of Valentine’s Day stuff??!!  Seriously, I was like:

     

We’re only 3 days post-Christmas, people!!!!

But back to New Year’s Eve.

If you’re hosting family and friends this year, I have some inspiration for you to help you create your very own Bubbly Bar!  I don’t know why, but I really like the sound of this……”Bubbly Bar”…….it just sounds fun, right?!

First up is a bar styled by Lia Griffith over at LiaGriffith.com:

Image from LiaGriffith.com

I love all the little details in this setup: the “Clink, Pop, and Fizz” drink stirrers, the custom labels on the bottles of champagne, the cute bow ties attached to the base of the drink glasses, and even the Bubbly Bar sign is chic and festive.  LOVE!!  If Lia ever invited me to a party, you bet I’d be there!

This next one was styled by Jenn of Hostess with the Mostess.

I absolutely adore the letters that spell out “Bubbly”.  Looks like a good time would be had in front of that bar!

No room for a bar?  No problem.  Check out these bar carts styled for a jolly New Year’s Eve gathering.  I can’t get enough of this black and gold setup by Courtney of Pizzazzerie.com:

Image from Pizzazzerie.com

Or this one styled by Cristy of Happyfamilyblog.com:

Image from Happyfamilyblog.com

Will you be hosting this New Year’s Eve?  If so, I hope these images have inspired you to create a cheerful and jubilant Bubbly Bar!

Cheers!

Our Annual Christmas Eve Movie Night

Christmas Eve Movie Night commenced without a hitch and as always, it was a good time!  This year we watched Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

I set up a super simple snack table with a mini gold tree as the centerpiece, a couple of movie clapper boards, some boxes wrapped in a fun Christmas pattern, and a few ornaments.

I served pigs n’ a blanket, popcorn with movie theater butter and different seasonings, frosted cookies, peppermint bark, and a nice mix of candies: gummi bears, peanut M and M’s, whoppers, and sweet tarts.

But the best part was spending the evening together and with our extended family!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Triple Layer Truffle Bars – Recipe from Pillsbury

Image from Pillsbury.com

INGREDIENTS

For the Bar:
1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated chocolate chip cookies
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa

For the Filling:
4 Tbsp chocolate instant pudding and pie filling mix (from 4-serving box)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

For the Topping:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (from 12-oz bag)
1/4 cup butter

Optional Topping: 1 bag Wilton candy cane candy melts

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften. Line 8-inch square pan with foil, extending foil over edges.

In medium bowl, mix cookie dough and cocoa until well blended (dough will be stiff). Press dough evenly in bottom of pan.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are set (do not overbake). Cool completely, about 1 hour.

In large bowl, stir pudding mix and 1/4 cup melted butter until well blended. Add powdered sugar, milk and vanilla; beat with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Spread filling evenly over cooled bar base. Set aside.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and 1/4 cup butter uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Spread evenly over filling. Optional: melt candy melts and drizzle on top. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until set.

Use foil to lift from pan; pull foil edges away. For bars, cut into 4 rows by 4 rows.

ENJOY!

Trolls Gingerbread House

 

We finally completed our 2017 Trolls gingerbread house.  And BONUS: we were able to break out the leftover Halloween candy to add to the stash that came with the gingerbread kit.

I used my trusty glue gun to assemble the house a couple of days ago, so tonight all I had to do was spread the icing along the house and let the kids place the candies where they wanted to.  They were very excited and up for the task!

Soon after starting, my daughter asked if she could taste one of the candies and of course, once I said yes, she began a routine of 1. place a couple candies on the house….then 2. place a couple pieces in my (her) mouth!  My son quickly followed suit.  I eventually stopped them because I didn’t want them getting all sugared up before bedtime, but I did let them enjoy a few pieces because after all, we only do this once a year and we’re #makingmemories!

It turned out really cute!  My daughter said her favorite part was placing Princess Poppy at the door of the gingerbread house.

My son said his favorite part was eating the candies!

My plan is to let the icing dry overnight, then place it on a large glass cake plate on the kitchen island to display it for the rest of the Christmas season.

Buffalo Check Print Cake Tutorial

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I have been obsessed this holiday season with all things buffalo check print….pajamas, table settings, DIY art, ornaments, even cake.  Yes, I said cake.  I found a couple of jaw-dropping cakes online that were buffalo check print/lumberjack-themed and I knew immediately that I would be making one this holiday season.

I scoured the internet looking for the most “effortless” way of making this cake.  I found a couple of specialty baking pans on Amazon’s website that were designed to create this checkered pattern, but many of the pan reviews were subpar.  Then I found a baking blogger/YouTuber with a website called Cookies, Cupcakes, and Cardio where she made her own templates to create the buffalo check pattern and I knew that this was the method I was going to try.

Please note that the inspiration cake is made from scratch, used 4 layers and 4 colors of cake, and is larger than my test cake, so some of the instructions differ, but the outcome is amazing either way and will definitely impress your guests!  Also note that the inspiration cake was made to be a Lumberjack-themed cake, so it was finished off to look like a tree ring along the outer edges and top; I was solely focused on creating the buffalo check pattern, so I simply frosted the outside and top of my cake and called it a day.  Here’s how I made my cake:

INGREDIENTS

6 inch cake pan

1 Sheet of White Cardstock

Scissors

Pencil

Non-stick Cooking Spray

1 box Betty Crocker Vanilla Cake Mix, with required add-ins – batter divided

1 Cup Measuring Scoop

3 Bowls

Knife

Wilton Icing Colors in Black, Brown, and Red-Red

Vanilla or Chocolate Frosting of your choice (can be homemade buttercream or store-bought works too—I dyed my vanilla frosting black, but this is optional)

DIRECTIONS

Using your cake pan as a template, trace the outer edge of the pan on your cardstock with your pencil.

Find a circular object about 2 inches smaller in diameter than your cake pan (i.e. a coffee cup), then trace it within your first circle.

Repeat one last circle about 2 inches smaller than the last one, so that you have 3 circles drawn on your template.

Cut the circles out and note that you will only need to use the two biggest circles.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray your cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix your cake mix according to the box directions, then using your 1-cup measuring scoop, measure out 1 cup of batter in each of your 3 bowls.

Use your Wilton Icing Colors to dye each of your batters.  You want one black, one burgundy (use a bit of the brown and the red-red), and one red.

Bake each of the batters separately.  In my oven, each 6 inch layer took 13 minutes to bake.

Make sure the cake cools a bit before you remove it from the pan. Place each layer of cake on a separate plate.

Set the cakes in the freezer for about 15 minutes to make sure they’re nice and firm.

Take your first layer of cake and place the largest circle template that you previously cut on top of the cake.

Use your knife to trace around the template and cut your first circle in the cake. (You guys are going to kill me, but I didn’t get any photos of this process!!!!  My bad but I was laser focused on making sure I got this part right.)

Next use the smaller circle template and cut another circle in the cake.  Once you’ve done this, you should have 3 circles that make up your 1 layer of cake.

Repeat this process on the remaining 2 layers of cake.

Now you’re going to reassemble your cake layers mixing and matching the 3 colors of cake.

Here’s how I layered my cake rings (note that the photo above and the photo below this section shown are from the bottom to the top of the cake):

Bottom Layer: large red circle, medium black circle, small burgundy circle

Middle Layer: large black circle, medium burgundy circle, small red circle

Top Layer: large burgundy circle, medium red circle, small black circle

Once you’ve reconfigured your layers, apply a thin layer of frosting between them as you stack them up.

Frost the outer edges and top of the cake.

Then wow your guests with this beautiful and intricate cake!!!