Monday, July 19, 2010

Week of goodies

It's gonna be a good week!

It started off a good weekend full of seeing family and friends and thanks to my dear neighbor I got a super cute new day tote to replace the diaper bag I've been lugging around. If you live near here Greenstreet Gardens carry them or Enchanted Art at Parole in Annapolis. The size is perfect, it will hold a few diapers, travel wipes, my wallet, cell phone, 2 sippy cups, a bottle of water for me, even a few thin books and matchbox cars to keep little hands occupied, and it's got a great key change hook inside so I'll now never have to worry about loosing or misplacing my keys when I'm out and about... or the boys taking them out and playing with them! Also love the fact that it's a durable canvas material, multicolored to hide future stains it will inevitably endure and being super cute doesn't hurt either!

I then started thinking that Gavin's last week of his summer program at Mt. Harmony is this week, then it'll be preparing for the 3 day a week 3yr program at Shepherd's Flock for the fall! In the meantime I'm going to try to squeeze in a trip to the Zoo (Washington b/c it's closer and free), we have discount tickets to Six Flags and possibly making it to Sesame Place; hopefully Mike will have one or 2 days in the month of August free from side work to join in on the fun too!

Then one of the blogs I follow has revamped their blog and is celebrating by having a week of giving aways ! I sooo hope I win the lemonade stand... still have yet to buy it so here's hoping it'll be free!

And with all of these things going thru my mind this week, the one thing that's got me even more excited, our new hummingbird feeder! I've always wanted one but was holding out to find the perfect blown glass feeder. But with the boys you never know what they're going to throw or try to get into so glass was out of the picture. I just had to settle on a plastic one in the meantime, but no ordinary one of course- it's in the shape of a red wine bottle, and truly can't wait for the hummingbirds to start coming! They're such beautiful little things and to be able to see them up close would be a treat in itself!

Looking forward to the fun the rest of the summer will bring!

Friday, July 16, 2010

A sparkle of life for a momentous cake

I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck. ~Emma Goldman

Kudos to my parents for sending me to a Wilton cake class when I was younger! When I received it as a gift I thought it would be pretty neat to be able to learn those beautiful techniques that I'd seen in my mother's old Wilton decorating books she had.

I do remember my first attempt at an elaborate cake, one for my cousin's wedding shower. It was the perfect shower cake, umbrella and all! You never forget the first time, no matter if it was a failed attempt or a true success, but I must say I did extremely well and was oh-so proud! But over the years I haven't been able to utilize too many of those techniques I learned, mainly b/c I haven't made too many cakes that require elaborate decorations.

But years later here I am with birthdays and holidays abound I'm sort of able to test out one or two new things at a time. And of course time is not on my side for the planning stage, the hours needed for tinting colors, decorating and then the massive clean-up afterwards. Needless to say I'm mastered the star tip for the kids molded cakes pans because of it's ease and simplicity. But it wasn't until here lately that I've been experimenting with different cakes themselves that I've wanted to spruce up the decorations.

Again, I'm working with little or no time, it's always the days I have a cake to decorate that the boys don't nap or go down late for bed! So an hour during naps for making the cakes one afternoon, the next day's hour for making the icings, and then alllll that night for the decorating! But alas, I'm not complaining, it's truly fun and such an outlet to get the creative juices flowing again!

The one I just completed this evening was for a family members 90th birthday. My Aunt asked me to make a cake and left no specifics, how great! I knew it had to feed alot of people and taste good so I first decided the flavors of the cake. I don't have a large sheet cake but I do have a large round, I knew I could do something like the cake I made for Carter's party and it would feed plenty of people.

I can't wait to try the bottom layer tomorrow! Homemade white cake with strawberries and butter cream, yum! It didn't help that the strawberries were leaking thru the icing this evening before the cake went into the fridge, such a tease of sweetness! Then there was the top. I had a spice cake I was eager to make so there it was, spice with a cream cheese icing. Then it was time to plan out the decorations.

(I was so excited to use the new strawberry cutting technique I learned too, it worked really well!)

As soon as I got to sit down and think about it I immediately thought of incorporating those long pencil-like wafer cookies on the cake, don't ask me why, it just popped into my head and I knew I had to use them somehow! I then had high hopes of sugar flowers and trying out a Cornelli lace piping on the sides of the bottom layer... then reality kicked in and I knew I wouldn't have the time!

But what was better than sugar flowers than the real thing!!! I love adding flowers to everything, it was my favorite thing to do in a creative teaching course I took at Towson Univ., I always tried to weasel in a dried flower or use symbolism for the meaning of flowers into each piece of artwork :) My favorites, hydrangeas, are in bloom this time of year- PERFECT! The blue ones were my first choice but they bloomed first this season so they've about had it by now and some are starting to wilt, but my pink bush is in full bloom and has new sprouts still growing.

Besides, the color pink has a universal meaning of love and a hydrangea symbolizes friendship, devotion, and understanding. But I most like the saying that the flower stands for a person possessing enduring grace and beauty- perfect for this occasion!

Fresh flowers enhance everything they touch and make it that more appealing! Tomorrow I'll add them for real and maybe a few springs to the side of the lettering. Which I had to improvise b/c I thought I still had some fondant left, but of course I didn't. So back to scratch I went to make a cookie instead. I couldn't see just writing on the cake itself, it needed a title not graffiti.

Still wish I had time to do the decorative piping on the sides of the bottom cake. It's nearly midnight, but I do still have some pink icing left... we'll have to see if there's energy leftover after this post...

(12:45am)... sleep's over rated :) I had to add it, there was too much icing left over to just toss it and thankfully this technique doesn't demand precision!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Our 1st family trip to OC!

Boy am I in beach and ocean withdraw!

Last week was our 1st family trip to Ocean City and what a blast it was! We stayed in an awesome ocean front condo with neighbors and boy were we spoiled to walk right out to the boardwalk and beach each day!

The boys were in awe at the beach and would have stayed there all day and night if we let them, heck, so would I!

We'll have to save our pennies so we can do this again next year! Not because this was the most time the boys have spent with Mike or the fact that I actually got out of the house when the boys were napping b/c someone was there to watch them, but it was great spending time together 24/7. No work to contend with or scheduled plans, just a relaxed environment and enjoying each moment whatever it might bring.

But I will say it was nice not to have to worry about cleaning too much b/c of the maid, or my boys bickering over little things b/c there was no time to do so, we'd get up eat and go to the beach for the day. Evenings were good for everyone with boardwalk trips and outings to great new nick-knack places I found thanks to Sue-Sue! I think I'm hooked to go Floaters in DE every time now!

Can't wait to do it again!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Banana Zucchini Bread

I had an abundance of zucchini I got at a local farmer's stand and some pretty ripe bananas that I needed to use up. Put them together and it made for a great zucchini bread variation!

Last year I made Blueberry-Zucchini Bread with blueberries I had to use up, but after making this one and seeing how the bananas made it so moist I'll have to try a Blueberry-Banana-Zucchini Bread next time!


4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini
1 cup chopped pecans


In a bowl, beat eggs. Blend in sugar and oil. Add bananas and mix well. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; stir into egg mixture. Stir in zucchini and pecans just until combined.

Pour into two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Makes: 2 loaves.

If Cooking for Two: Wrap and freeze one loaf to enjoy later.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Got lemons?

If you have a lemon, make lemonade!

A neighbor brought up the idea of having the kids rally together to create a lemonade stand a few weeks ago. Then by chance a blog I follow posted about just that! It was fate because I love, love, love this idea of an old fashion lemonade stand over at Paper and Cake!

Gotta get the Grandparents down here to come to this one for sure!