Saturday, January 5, 2013

To DIY Soap or Not To DIY Soap

This post has absolutely nothing to do with cakes but another side of me that I like to partake in whenever possible.  DIY projects.

So for all you DIY'ers out there that love to save money...this is for you!

A few months back, around August, I decided that I wanted to make my own laundry soap.  I happened upon it when I was reading a blog about how to buy groceries monthly and then supplement with fresh veggies and fruits weekly.  I have no idea what blog that was.  I've tried searching for it and cannot, for the life of me, find that blog.  Not to worry because there are tons of sites that show you how to make this detergent.  In a nutshell (commence reenactment of the scene from Austin Powers)...  here's how I made mine.

What you need: all found at wal-mart
1 Box Borax
1 Large Box of Baking Soda
1 Large Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 Container of OxiClean
3 Bars of Fels-Naptha

First you need to grate the bars.  You can do this by hand, which is what I did, or use a food processor with the grating blade.  By hand takes some elbow grease.

Transfer it to a large container that you can mix the rest of the ingredients in.

Add your OxiClean...

And the rest of the of the powders.  Thoroughly mix and then I put in all in a Trader Joe's, put the bag in one of my boys' toys bins to secure the bottom and added an approximately 2 tbsp scoop.

That's it!!  Save money, have great smelling clothes and have bragging rights that you make your own powder laundry detergent!

Give it a try and see if you don't make the switch yourself.  By the way I haven't bought laundry detergent since September and I still have about a 1/4 of it left.  We wash a LOT of clothes so I don't think I'll make it to the 1 year mark that some people claim.  I've still been thoroughly satisfied with the results!

As always...thanks for stopping by, God bless and leave some love!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pretty, Pretty Petals

Hey guys!  I've missed talking with you all lately.  I just haven't prioritized properly to get blogging in on top of everything else.  I know you understand and that's why I cherish our friendship.  You're all so forgiving.  Thank you.

Over the past several weeks I've been planning, making lists, buying supplies and working on the preparation timeline for this wedding I had...TODAY!  It's right after all the holidays and I was very worried that I wouldn't find time to get everything done and give it the attention it requires.  So as soon as I knew I was doing the event, which was in August, I set about preparing.

Making a cake to feed 140 is typically nothing to stress over...but...throw that in after Christmas and New Years and you can guarantee there's going to be some kind of level of stress.  Fortunately, proper planning and prioritizing helped to avoid a lot of it...Except when it came to the chocolate marshmallows but we'll get to that later.

By the way I'm keeping this post short.  I want to tell you all the boring details but, alas, I shall restrain myself.

I've always wanted to do one of those rose petal cakes where the petals cascade down the cake.  This was my opportunity.  When the bride sent over what she had in mind I was thrilled and worried.  Would it be as pretty as others I've seen?  Would I even know how to make it look the way it's supposed to?  What do I start with first, the middle flower or the outside petals?  These are the questions that flooded my mind and so I do what I've always done...being a self taught cake designer... I googled.  I'm not ashamed to admit it.  I looked up pictures, videos, how-to's, other blogs and forums to figure this baby out.  The design is simple enough but I wanted to make sure I did it right.

She also wanted strands of pearls on the cake and, for a moment, my heart stopped...rolling all those little balls and attaching them one by one can be a nightmare...but it's so pretty!  So, again, I googled.  I  knew there were molds to use that help you create a 12" string of pearls in one go and I set out to get one.  I was a bit worried about how easy it would be and if I'd actually be saving any time if it ended up not working properly.  I ended up getting this one from  It did make the work easier but still a bit time consuming to rollout the fondant to fit in the mold.  All in all a wise choice and great success!

The bride also wanted some extra goodies for the guests besides the cake and I suggested something different than cupcakes since they would have cake already.  She decided on marshmallows and the ever popular french macarons.  So we created two flavors of each.  Toasted coconut and chocolate marshmallows.  Pumpkin spice and strawberry cream macarons.  With my lists made and my schedule on my calendar these ended up being a breeze to create...except the chocolate marshmallows!  I don't know what I was doing wrong and ended up blaming it on the humidity because I had to make 3 batches before I got ones that came out right!  The marshmallows ended up being the perfect choice because they also had a Hot Cocoa Bar set up.  How awesome is that!

I was so thrilled to be apart of this wedding as well because a dear friend of mine was the one doing the  decorating for the event.  She's incredible!  She definitely has an eye for style and pulling things together to look gorgeous and this venue definitely looked just that.   Unfortunately I don't have pics of all the beautiful details but I'm sure I can find a way to share them with you later. ;-)

This is the cake we made and I think it turned out pretty close to what I had envisioned.  What do you think?

...And here it is set up at the wedding.  She wanted it separate from the desserts because she didn't want anyone bumping it. 

...this is the dessert table but I forgot to get a pic after they finished decorating.

Turned out pretty nice, right?  The cake, by the way, weighed a ton!  I could barely lift it and was worried I would drop it.  But.  I didn't.  It was an honor to be a part of this wedding and I hope the guests all enjoyed the cake and goodies!  

If you were a guest and visit this blog please let me know what you think!  I'd love to hear from you!

As always...thanks for stoping by, God bless and leave some love!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Love is in the air...

I've got a few updates for you.  I know you've been on the edge of your seat, wondering, "what in the world is Natalia up to?"  Well, I am very sorry to keep you waiting but you see I've started this new thing.  It's something that I have to get up for each morning at 5am, get dressed, eat breakfast, fix my lunch and house...typically BEFORE my boys get up for school!  Yes.  That 3 letter word...MUD.  No, I'm kidding, not MUD.  That doesn't even make sense.  It's a JOB.  Yep, I've gone and done it.  This stay at home mom of 10 years has a job...outside the home.  Bittersweet.

I started in September and it is definitely a different lifestyle.  It's a different mindset.  I was very excited to start something new, something different than what I've been doing for the past 10 years...which has not been bad, I love being a mom, cleaning up after kids, washing other's clothes, mopping floors that have some kind of weird sticky substance dried on them...for the third one day.  I'm lying, I don't mop that much.  But there does always seem to be something sticky on the floor at some point during the day.  Where was I?... Oh yeah...making meals for others to eat and cleaning their dishes.  So yeah, I've loved doing all these things...for 10 years.  Can you hear a little sarcasm there.  If not, you should.  I don't always love doing those things but the funny thing is I don't feel like I've stopped doing many of those things since I've started.  I've just got less time to do it all in.  I know you working mothers can relate AND I have a new found respect for you!

At this point I need to pause and give a HUGE shout out to my dear, sweet, handsome, incredible Mr. Mom who has completely taken over morning duties at our household since I've started this new adventure.  He gets up before the boys and cooks breakfast, which is NOT just cereal or waffles like I used to do but he cooks eggs, bacon, cinnamon the oven AND he gets them dressed, makes their lunches, feeds the dogs and takes my sweet boys to school.  Every morning!  Now that's an awesome husband and dad!!  I'm ever so grateful and blessed to have this man as my own.  Whew, I got tired just typing all of that.

So, I go to this JOB that I have been really enjoying, get off work in time to pick up my boys and when we get home there's a whole list of more things to do, of course.  You all know what I'm talking about.  The "Evening Schedule".  I usually give them 30 min of "free time" to get the wiggles out then it's homework, dinner, some family time, bath and bed.  Then I typically stay up for a few more hours to catch up on house chores or work on a cake order.  That's what I've been up to.

In the middle of all this new stuff I've still been baking.  I just haven't had a lot of time to tell you about it because I usually can't keep my eyes open long enough.

I made a butterfly cake in October but I can't find the finished photos I took so I'll just have to show you the crumb coated one and let your imagination take it from there until I find them.
I told you you'll have to use your imagination! :-)  I can tell you it had two shades of lavender and swirls.

My hubby and I celebrated our 14th year of wedded bliss. ;-)
I know...we haven't aged a bit!

I have to tell you, all the photos I'm about to share are from facebook and uploaded from my phone.  Sorry, no glamour shots in this post.

We got to go to the Renaissance Festival with a friend.  Lots of fun!

Gotta get ya' some turkey leg!
Corban and the Barbarian
Love this pic!  He fits right in!
We found some pirates!
Then there was Halloween!!!  I had a lot of fun dressing up as Master Chief from the video game, Halo.  If you don't know what that is it's ok.  The only reason I know is because that is what my 10 yr old is into right now.  We actually bought this costume for him last year, removed the armor and attached it a suit that fit him better.  So this year I had to remove the armor from his suit and resew it back onto the original!!  I was pretty proud of you can see in my diva pose below. ;-)
Master Chief Natalia
After Halloween, I voted.
After I voted I made a wedding cake and desserts for my sweet, beautiful sister in law and her now hubby!  Congratulations guys!!  One of the most emotional weddings I've ever been to.
Wood cake with succulents and dogwood flowers.  The bears on top were salt and pepper shakers!
Three kinds of macarons.  Chocolate Ganache, Pumpkin Spice and Blackberry Cream.

...And then Thanksgiving...I love Thanksgiving.
Pecan pie.  

At the family dinner table.  Love.
 After Thanksgiving I have to eat this for lunch everyday to lose the  pounds that I gained enjoying all the wonderful food!!!  It's a trade-off I'm willing to make.
Spinach, quinoa and tomato salad
There is where I get to eat lunch every day at work so I don't mind it much.  It's a good thing!
Lunch by the lake, sitting in the grass having a picnic.

And then of course it's time for Christmas!!!!!  Where has the time gone????
Tree.  Living room.  Handsome boy.
Gingerbread House making time!!  It was eaten this morning!!!
Lasted all of two days. 
I also made a baby shower cake this weekend but the pics are not ready.  I'll get them to you soon.  I have another wedding coming up in January so I'm gearing up for that one. 

So that's my life in review!  Hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed living it!!

As always...thanks for stopping by, God bless and leave some love!