Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What's New Wednesday...

Hi everyone!

I trust you've all had a great week so far.  I have!  It's been very busy but I feel productive and that always feels good.  I'll admit though I do need some much needed rest and I don't see much in sight.  Oh well, se la vi!

I need to ask everyone's opinion on what color to paint my laundry room.  I decided not to go with an orange but I might need to add a green.  I also want to stencil a large flower in a random pattern...something like this...

So here are the colors I have so far.  From top left, clockwise (painted squares only), Steel Blue, Heather Grey, Spring Bluebell and Buttered Sweet Corn.  The other samples are other colors that I liked so I grabbed them too.
I know the picture is a bit dark but it just gives you an idea of what I'm thinking.  Let me know your opinion.  Right now I'm leaning towards the Spring Bluebell with a flower stencil in white and Heather Grey.

Here are a few pictures of the laundry room so you kind of know the space I'm working with.
...with the "new" washer and dryer we got blessed with from a friend when out washer went out!

I'm in the entry.  Yes, I will be putting a new floor as well!  Don't know what they were thinking!...
"Let's do fake cobblestone tiles!  In linoleum!"  "Oooo, yeah."

The shelves that you see above the washer and dryer go across the whole length of the wall.  Guess I could've moved my clothes so you could see it better.  There is a shower behind the wall with the paint so the space in  the back is pretty much it.  As a matter of fact...oh lookie here I even have a nice little diagram for you! ;-) 
So for all of you designers out there I need YOUR help!  I need to maximize this space, keeping it functional and fun!  This is my project for the next few weeks or so... in between baking...maybe after vacation...and that starts getting closer to a month so... we'll just put a limit of 2 months just to be safe!  Although I should be able to finish in a weekend or two once I get organized.  Then I'll tackle the powder room!  rambling.

Next!  I finished a cake today that was for some good friends.  I was not completely pleased with the outcome. They asked about it last week and usually I ask for 2 weeks notice but since this was for an adoption celebration and I had made their other son's birthday cake I felt a need to do this cake.'s the cake.

I know, I know!  The Top is leaning...bad.  Let me explain a bit please because I know my work is better than this.  The bottom is vanilla, the top is carrot cake.  All covered in cream cheese icing.  The vanilla cake was no problem.  It actually came out very nice.  A few bumps but overall nice.  The carrot cake was a new recipe (first mistake on a last minute cake).  I disclosed this to them and asked if they would be my tasters.  They agreed so I went ahead with baking it.  

I did not have a 6" square pan so I baked it in a 12" square pan (second mistake with a new recipe and last minute order).  I had done this before with the wedding cake so I knew it could be done.  I baked both cakes on Monday.  I placed my baking "nails" in the batter like normal to help the middle cook.  If not you'd get a mushy middle and well done sides because the pan is so large.  Well the cake was more dense than I thought and I placed my nails a bit too far apart.  Yep, a mushy middle but I couldn't tell until I cut into it to get it ready to ice yesterday.  Aahhhhk!  I start to panic.  I knew that a cake like this would need time to "settle" or firm up before it could be stacked or else I run the risk guessed it, leaning or falling apart or settling after it's iced which causes bumps in the layers.  

There was nothing I could do but bake another.  So this morning I race to the grocery store to get a few more ingredients.  I still had to take the boys to school and my superman hubby was kind enough to get them ready.  When I return from dropping them off I begin baking and praying that I get it done in time and it bakes properly.  I decided to place the nails closer and add a couple more for insurance and it turned out beautifully!  

Now the tricky part.  To get it cooled down quickly without drying it out, stacked, iced and decorated by 5 o'clock!  I did the best I could with the amount of time I had but it just didn't work.  The cake kept sliding and wiggling.  I couldn't keep the darn thing straight!  I needed to trim a couple of the sides but it was still too soft and the one I tried started to tear the cake so I left it.  Oh well, live and learn!

The couple was very gracious and said it looked great but I assumed they were being nice.  Here's a picture I took before they picked it up.  The poor thing.

"Now for something completely different!" PRODUCE!  Okay, so maybe that's not completely different being as it's still food but...whatever.  I saw a post on FB that had a link talking about an organic produce co-op called RawfullyOrganic.  It's a non-profit that allows members to purchase shares of certified organic produce.  I've never really been a must eat organic person but I've been intrigued with some of the findings on regular produce.  All the pesticides. chemicals and what not that are used.  I'd rather not put that stuff in my body,or my children's and if there's an alternative available, without having to go bankrupt, then I'm game! I signed up Monday and will receive my first share on Thursday!  The great news is I don't have to drive to Houston to get it because they provide a neighborhood porch pick-up just around the corner!  I'll let you know what I get, how I use it and what the quality is like.  I'm excited!

Do you have any new project endeavors, last minute baking faux pas or a healthy choice you've made that makes you feel better?  Please feel free to share, I'd love to hear it. :-)

As always, leave a comment, God bless and thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Yay!  Gluten-Free: Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie success!  I've had several people asking about baking breads, cakes and other desserts Gluten-Free.  Well, I tried and tried but never prioritized enough time, or money, to pursue it.  So, two days ago I started buying ingredients for this awesome chocolate chip cookie recipe I found (cuz I'm a sucker for chocolate chip cookies, see my recipe here) and was determined to try it!  I even posted it to FB in case someone could get to it before I did.  As you know by now...I did it!  And they are perfect to satisfy that craving for a chocolate chip cookie!  So, I managed to snap a few shots this evening when I decided to whip them up for my family who was coming over for dinner!  The recipe is simple and straightforward... almost easier than a regular recipe!

If you've tried to bake anything gluten-free OR Vegan you know that the ingredients can be quite pricey and sometimes hard to come by if you don't have a nice grocery store that stocks items for this kind of lifestyle.  Albeit more and more stores are providing a wider selection of these ingredients and prepared foods but it still may be difficult to find that one last elusive ingredient to complete your list.

I only had to make two trips to two different grocery stores to compile the ingredients called for in this particular recipe.  First, I headed to "Wallie-World" for some usual groceries and to start my hunt for items on the list.  I was able to find...
Coconut Oil - $7.32, 14 fl oz (holy moly!)
Dark Brown Sugar - $1.62, 2# bag (of course)... and
Ground Flax Meal by Bobs Red Mill - $3.45, 1# bag (Eh...ok)

Yesterday I headed to my ever trusty, H.E.B. Central Market, in search of the rest of the items on my list, which...I found!
Brown Rice Flour, Bob's - $3.72, 1lb 8oz (breathe)
Sorghum Flour, Bob's - $3.39, 1lb 6oz (suck it up)
Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Chips - $2.59, 11.5oz (I needed 12oz darnit!)

So, while I was catching my breathe and realizing that I had spent over $22 to make one batch of cookies I had to remind myself that, "I am on a mission", "My readers are depending on me", "This could lead to increased business" and "I'm helping others to live a healthier, happier life!"  Also, I knew that I would get more than one batch out of my ingredients but still there was that initial sticker shock.

Okay!  Enough about details!  Let's get down to business!  Picture time!

Coconut oil is in a semi-solid/soft state until warmed


When I first tasted it I tried to pretend that I didn't know it was "different" and honestly I don't think I could tell the difference aside from a slightly and I mean slightly grainy texture.  If you  have a hankering for a chocolate chip cookie this will definitely do the trick!  My awesome hubby even said that he couldn't tell the difference!  And my Vegan SIL was jumping for joy when I told her what they were...she loved them...and so did the rest of my family!

So there you have it!  Another new recipe adventure success story!  If you have a new or different recipe you've tried leave me a comment and let me know about it!  Or if you have a recipe you'd like ME to try email me and I'll do my best to oblige!

As always, drop me a comment, God bless and thanks for stopping by!

Free For All Friday

Alrighty people, today I'm gonna be all over the place!  Hence, "Free For All Friday".  I have a lot things I'd like to share so I'll do my best to get my thoughts across without rambling too much.

First, I'd like to introduce you all to a friend of mine, Lauren Giles.  She's one of those gals that I've known for awhile but there was a long hiatus when "life" happened, we lost touch and then BAM! facebook happened and we're in touch again!  Sigh...don't you love FB for that!  She has a pretty amazing blog and you can check her out here, TeamGiles.  How pretty is this little lady!  She is a runner and pursues a healthy lifestyle...I think you'll LOVE her!

Now after reading one of Lauren's recent posts she inspired me to try and tackle something that's been on my mind for quite awhile...painting the laundry room!  What a great idea to make a gloomy room a happy room!  And I think Lauren did a great job on hers...check it out!  How chic!  I'm thinking of trying a yellow, orange or bluish color then stencil a large peony or something like that.  Leave me a comment and tell me what you think.

How's that for not rambling?  Short and to the point, right?

Okay, so this morning I did my usual 5K run.  By usual I mean what I've been doing 3 days a week for the past 3 weeks.  I have been improving, which is always a plus but this week I had the privilege of running with my best friend as my sweetheart, Rick.  He ran with me on Monday and Wednesday but today he had a meeting so I was on my own.  I didn't do as good BUT I still did it...well.  See...
Just 2 days ago I ran this in just over 30min putting me at about a 9:50 pace or so.  Having Rick there to pace me and say ok let's push it for 1 min obviously helped.  I run with my "Great Weimer", Demi, who happens to be a great 10min/mi pacer.  She stays pretty steady so when she starts getting ahead of me I know that I'm slowing good.  But she doesn't push me to go faster either which doesn't help.  I guess I'll keep on keeping on and try to "push me myself" when Rick's not with me. ;-)

Last thing I'd like to post about is Natalia's Cake Creations.  I had the honor of doing the desserts for a church's 4 yr anniversary a couple of weeks ago and I have to say it turned out rather nice!
I think the church did a great job on decorating the table.  I supplied about 7 dozen cupcakes, about 6 dozen mini cupcakes and a 6" cake for the centerpiece.  The name and logo are hand cut/painted and the 4 on top was made with fondant.  The flavors were chocolate, vanilla and red velvet.  From the comments received, everyone seemed to love them!  Wheww!  It's always nerve-wracking for me to let others critic my work...especially when it's something that's going into their body!  Is that weird?

This coming Wednesday I have a cake to make for an adoption celebration which is called a "Happy Gotcha Day"!  I'm really excited about it and can't wait to show you pictures of it!  Then, I'll have a 60th birthday cake for twin brothers AND my first castle cake next month for a sweet baby turning one!  So keep an eye out for more posts and pics on those later!

As always, drop me a comment, God bless and thanks for stopping by!