Homemade Chocolate Cake

Homemade Chocolate Cake

I love making cakes. My mom recently passed her cake pan collection on to me. Dad’s in the military so she got a little tired of carting the pans all over the country, that and she doesn’t make as many cakes as she used to.
After years of trying to show me how to decorate cakes, it all coalesced the day of Arthur’s second birthday and I made him a gorgeous Scooby Doo cake!
I’ve been thinking for a while that I would like to become that mom that makes things from scratch. Cake, brownies, other yummy desserts. Except cookies! Sadly, I’ve learned that Tony makes much better chocolate chip cookies than I ever do. *sigh*
This recipe turned out really yummy, if a little soupy. My thoughts to improve on this, a slightly longer cooktime and I’m going to try Hershey’s Cocoa instead of Nestle Quik.
1/4 cup cocoa (as stated earlier, I used Nestle Quik, mainly because I had it in the house, even though the pictures from the site showed Hershey’s Cocoa)
1 cup of butter or margarine (2 sticks)
1 cup water
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used regular milk because my kitchen isn’t fancy enough to run to buttermilk)
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat your oven to 400*. Original site said 9×13 pan, but I used my 2 round pans.
Mix together the butter, sugar and cocoa. Once it’s well combined and gently boiling, remove from heat.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
In another bowl stir together the buttermilk (in my case milk), water and eggs.
Once the cocoa mixture is cool combine all the ingredients in the large mixing bowl. Pour into the baking pan and bake 25 minutes until the cake is done. I’ll be going a little longer next time, this may have been because of my pan size, but I’m willing to experiment!
Allow the cake to cool and then cover with icing. Normally I make my own icing, but as I used this recipe to do my Kit-Kat Cake, check that out at https://superstevied.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/cute-cake/ , and I didn’t need a full batch. I’ll admit it, I used store bought!
I’d definitely recommend giving this a try, just be smart like I was, and try this as a just because cake. You don’t want to risk your kid’s birthday cake being a little soupy!
Happy baking!
Original recipe is from http://groundbeefbudget.com/2012/11/homemade-chocolate-cake/
Check out this site for other yummy-ness

Google murder

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This is the first time, but I pinned this because I wanted to talk about it! The coordinates up top was something I saw on Facebook, so I saved the picture to look up when I got home.
I had a little quiet time, ie kids were in bed, so I started to play with google maps. I punched in the coordinates and then zoomed in as close as I could. The picture of the bottom is my screen shot.
OMG! I was floored! I know google takes pictures of assorted places at really random times. The picture of my I laws house is at least 10 years old due to which cars are parked in the driveway. The picture of our house was taken within the last 15 months due to the vehicles in the driveway. It’s nuts!
What are the odds that google would take a picture of this exact location at the exact time of a body drop……
Memo to self: if I’m committing murder, do so in a wooded area…..
Original pin I chose was http://www.soft-gets.com/2013/04/murder-caught-on-google-maps.html?m=1

Coin Collecting

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I’ve always been one to collect foreign coins. I’ve kept them gathered in a little tin, in a drawer of my armoire. Fun to look at, but tucked away out of sight.
I saw this and another idea on Pinterest and fell in love with them both! I still may try the other, but my coin collection is not quite as extensive as I was thinking.
This requires a whole lot of super glue, so just like with the gemstone wine bottle, stock up!
The first thing I did to get started was create an outline on the frame back, so I wasn’t wasting coins by putting them where I would never see them. Then I tried to arrange my collection strategically. I didn’t want all of my old German pfennigs next to each other, or all of the pesos off to one side. I also had some prominent coins that I wanted easily visible. My favorite in the collection is a German pfennig from 1942 that has the Reich bird. It’s really cool!
I still have a bit more to add, but my glue supply ran low, hence the warning to stock up. I always chose a large frame, I’m thinking I should’ve started small…..
Live and learn right?!
Original pin goes to a blank page, so I will instead redirect you to my Pinterest board: crafty & decor
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Scarf time again

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This is another, what looked to be, fun knot to try with my pretty Longaberger scarf. I can without a doubt say that I will ‘knot’ be doing this one again! Lol! Bad joke, but still…
It’s way too complicated for something that looks like the ‘four-in-hand’ knot I did before. That knot is much easier!
This one you start by folding the scarf in half and put either side of the scarf over your shoulders, with the ends hanging down your back. Leave a little space, probably have the scarf hanging down to your breasts in front. Then, crossing the ends over each other, bring them back around to your front.
Take the small loop you have in front and twist it. Feed one end of your scarf through the loop from underneath and the other end from on top, then pull snug.
Like I said, complicated!
For picture instructions, which are a huge help, the original pin can be found at https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/557975_10200334961390835_908174392_n.jpg

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and Sour Chicken

It’s my day off from work, so that means it’s my night to cook. Tony and I came up with this plan a while back. When I work, he’ll cook dinner and I cook on my off nights. That way I don’t have to rush home and start dinner right away.
I like trying these new recipes when I have my day off anyway because I never know how long they’ll take! This one didn’t seem to complicated, so it was easy enough to put together after a full day at the zoo.
I started by cubing 4 chicken breasts, seasoned them with salt and pepper. You need 1 cup of cornstarch in a bowl to coat your chicken with. Then transfer to a bowl of beaten eggs. The recipe called for 2 eggs, but I ended up adding an egg. Then you fry your chicken in oil, till well browned. At first I was worried the egg would rinse off the cornstarch, but it made it all very sticky, so be sure to constantly stir your chicken while it’s frying. It will clump together otherwise
You make your sauce with 3/4 cup sugar, 4 tbsp. ketchup, 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. garlic salt. It smelled a little funky when I mixed it together, so I was a little nervous about how it would taste. I did the finger dip-and-taste and it was wonderful.
I coated the chicken in the mixture inside a baking dish and place it in your 350* oven for 15 minutes. The recipe said to bake for 15 minutes, stir, then another 15 minutes, but I only did the 15 minutes, stirring halfway through.
I made up some rice and peas and was about to call it dinner. Then I had the brainstorm to add some pineapple. Next time I’ll remember to throw that in prior to baking it. It was so yummy!
The kids ate it, Tony ate it, and I kept nibbling on leftovers! This one goes into the must-try category.
Original pin at http://madeitateitlovedit.blogspot.com/2012/03/sweet-and-sour-chicken.html

Candle holders

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The pictures attached to the original pin were beautiful. This was so visually appealing that as soon as I started completing pins, I wanted to try this one. It took me a while to find some of the stuff I needed so I’ve only recently done this.
Step one is to buy some vellum, which I had a hard time finding.
Once you have the vellum you print your picture in black and white, or a sepia tone would be really pretty too! Choose a vase or any clear glass, smooth edged holder.
Then we go back to my old friend mod podge. You run some mod podge over the glass surface and gently place your picture.
I went all out the first time and did an 8×10 of our Gettysburg family picture on a tall glass vase. I quickly realized this is not a simple process! I had so many bubbles under the surface that the picture was almost unrecognizable. When I tried to smooth them out, I tore the vellum. It is very delicate after all. There was also the problem of ink running when combined with glue through vellum.
I decided to go small the next time around and chose this small votive holder and used my children’s 3 and 6 year old pictures.
If you want to try this, I would definitely recommend starting small with a practice votive holder!
I have another vellum picture from Gettysburg ready to go, and the original vase washed clean so I can start fresh.
Truthfully, I’m working up to it because its a little intimidating. I’m thinking these would make wonderful Christmas gifts, or maybe an anniversary gift.
As you can tell by the picture on the left, be sure the light level will shine through your whole picture.
Il try to post a picture of the final project when I get it right…..
Original pin can not be credited due to a bad link, but directions, other than the ones included in this post, can be found on my crafty&decor board, ads061006.
Happy crafting!

Make your own stationary

Make your own stationary

You know those lovely stationary sets which have the faint picture in the background? Normally flowers or something generic, they’re pretty, but a little bland. Granted the art of letter writing is all but dead, but I really hope it makes a come back!
I can no longer link to this pin’s original home, but once again, I got lucky and the directions were attached to the pin. Even then, the directions were more like a guideline because my Word program works a little differently.
You start out in Microsoft Word. Go over to insert and click on photo. Once your picture has been inserted, be sure that it fills the full page. Try to pick a picture that is very clearly focused on the subject. An overly detailed photo may not come out clear in the end.
The original pinner gave slightly different directions, which you can view on my board ‘coolness’, my user name is ads061006.
However, I will tell you how I did it. I think it’s actually easier than the original way. It was almost too easy, to the point I wasn’t sure I could blog about this, but it did turn out beautifully!
All you have to do is go to the top of the screen and click on the tab COLOR and pick the faintest one you see. Pick something that looks like a very pale, or ‘washed out’ version of your photo and click on it.
All you have to do to finish up is put some loose leaf paper in your printer and print up your own individualized stationary.
I chose this picture of Tony and I because we are both wearing dark colors and the background was very light. It made for a wonderful background photo. Make sure you allow the ink to dry completely before writing on it.
Granted you wouldn’t want to use this for anything super formal, but I’m thinking down the road for birthday gift thank-yous. Especially if they are personalized with a background picture of the child holding the gift that person gave, or you could do a general one for everyone of your child blowing out birthday candles.
Needless to say, there are a lot of things to use this one for!