Thursday, September 30, 2010

Early Bird birthday

I'm about a month ahead in making this card, but I figured being ahead of the game isn't so bad. I did however use two challenges this time!! I used this weeks Mojo Monday sketch and last weeks TCP Tuesday color challenge!! I'm in love with this new paper pack I picked up a few weeks ago, much like I was in love with the Citrus paper pack this summer. My sentiment is from my favorite birthday stamp pack from My Favorite Things. Sometime when I first started making cards I picked up a pack of birthday brad's and haven't used very many of them. Not sure if the purple present brad I used flows with the rest of the card but I took a risk and went for it.

I punched out a whole bunch of flowers using two different punches with coordinating paper, and stacked four flowers on top of each other. I bent some of the petals up to give the card a little dimension and interest. Once again my ribbon bow wasn't playing nice so I ended up with just a simple knot...which still didn't behave the way I wanted it to. But it was late and I still had laundry to do so I gave it up. Maybe next time my ribbon and I will get on the same page.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

HB Coach!

No time for chit-chat, just quickly sharing a card today. This one goes out to a good friend 'Coach Ken' for his birthday this weekend. Ken is the head coach of the baseball team the DH helps coach. He's been a good friend for a few years now so it will be sad when his son ages out of the baseball rec league and the DH is done with coaching. Luckily that wont happen until a few more years though! Anyways, I'm linking this one up to the Card Patterns blog using Sketch #83.

In other random news....apparently my post last week on my fall wreath successfully brought fall to the area. Not enjoying the 60 degree weather, but I'm sure it has something to do with Tropical Storm Nicole and not my fall wreath!!!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cake what....?

'Seriously, cake balls? What in the world is that?' what I heard after I insisted all my friends eat this mysterious brown looking blob I shoved in their faces. But oh no - they did not regret it! Apparently cake balls have been floating around for some time now, but they are completely new to my group of friends.

Now I do NOT claim to be a good cook or baker. In fact, the DH does most of the cooking in our house. But I'm not afraid to try new things and this one sounded like it would be yummy even if I screwed it up. Remember this post when I made a card for the hostess of our Girls Night Out beach trip? Well, those ladies were the lucky guinea pigs for my kitchen experiment.
I started out by baking a cake just as your normally would. From a box. Easy. I chose a white cake because that's what I had on hand. Any type of cake mix would do though. I used a regular 9x13 sheet pan, but it really doesn't matter how you bake the cake, just as long as it's cooked. Let your cake cook down for a while, 20 minutes should do the trick. Then comes the fun part.
Spoon out your pretty baked cake into a large bowl and crumble it up into small pieces. Seriously! Give it a try! It's fun to get your hands dirty and tear up a perfectly good cake into tiny pieces. I spooned out the cake into my bowl because the cake was still a little warm - which is a good thing - and I didn't want to burn my hands. Next is the messy part. Take an entire can of frosting and dump it into your bowl full of crumbled cake. I used a can of triple chocolate fudge frosting because, once again, that's what I had on hand. Get your hands dirty and mix the frosting and cake together until you're left with a big pile of mush. On a side note - you can add less frosting if you want, but mine looked a little dry when I added 3/4 of the container at first, so I added the rest. This mixture felt and looked really weird to me, almost like a pile of wet dog food - but I really was on the right track. Next, throw the bowl of cake blob into the fridge and let it chill for a while - 1 to 2 hours is best. You could put it in the freezer for 20 min, but there was no way this huge bowl would fit into our freezer. You want your mixture to be cool because if you try to roll out your balls while they are warm you will end up with a big crumbled mess instead of tight balls.

After your cake blob is chilled, use your hands or a cookie dough baller (thanks sis-in-law!) to make the cake blob into cake balls. You can make them as big or as small as you want, but I think 1 1/2 inches works best since some of the larger cake balls were harder to eat. Once all your balls are rolled out, place them on a large cookie sheet lined with wax paper and shove them back into the fridge for a few hours. Keeping the balls cool makes it much easier to dip them.
Now time to get even more messy! Time to dunk your doughy balls into melted dipping chocolate. I found some Baker's brand dipping chocolate thinking this would be the easiest way to go - I was wrong. I only bought one bowl, which covered about 5 cake balls, so I had to run out to the grocery store right in the middle of things to get more. I ended up buying the large Food Lion brand bark coating milk chocolate thinking I'd have plenty left over - again, wrong. But I'll get to that later.

I used the melting instructions on the back of the bag, but instead of melting the entire bar I cut it up into quarters and melted it one quarter at a time. Coating the cake balls was the biggest challenge for me. I tried many different methods - I used a toothpick, I used my fingers, I used a fork, I used as spoon, I tried drizzling the chocolate on instead of dunking the cake balls. Frustrating. In the end, what worked the best for me was placing the cake ball into my bowl of melted chocolate, spooning the chocolate all over the cake ball until it was completely covered, and then used a fork to fish the coated cake ball out of the bowl and back onto the wax paper. After about 15 cake balls the chocolate started to harden, so that's when I added another quarter of the non-melted chocolate bar and heated it up again. I ended up using all of that chocolate to cover all 50 some-odd cake balls.

Once they were all coated, back into the fridge they went. This step isn't really necessary, but it was pretty hot in my kitchen by then and I didn't want the cake balls melting. After they had cooled off for a little bit, I took the cake balls off of the wax paper and placed each one into a cupcake wrapper. I probably could have shoved them all into a container on top of each other, but I was afraid they would stick together. Having them in a cupcake wrapper made them easier to grab and eat in the end.

Verdict was? Yummy! Which makes me a happy girl! Now I'm thinking about the different cake/frosting combinations I can use next time. The DH said it was too much chocolate, but the girls certainly didn't mind a bit. I think I'll try red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate coating next time.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Fall Ya'll!

Supposedly fall has arrived. It certainly does NOT feel like fall outside, but that's a-okay by me since I'm all about hanging onto that last little bit of summer. But since I know cooler weather is on it's way I must at least try to get into the fall spirit. Ugh. Since we don't have any little ones running around the house and aren't planning on throwing any sort of Halloween party, I figured decorating the inside of the house would be a waste of time. But we might have some trick-or-treater's this year since we're in a new neighborhood so I could at least try to decorate outside. Hold the phone. I don't want to go all out with hay bails in the front yard and orange lights and pumpkins all over the place. Let's keep this simple. Since our front door is looking a little boring and plain, I decided it might need a wreath - now that's nice and simple.
Lately I've gotten the DIY itch, and decided I would check out the wreath's available at my local Michaels to see if I could duplicate (or improve) something while spending a little less money. All the wreath's large enough for our front door that weren't too tacky looking were in the $25 to $30 price range - not what I had in mind. So after spending about an hour in the store, I ended up walking out with a twig wreath, two flower bouquet's, two packages of loose leaves, two spools or ribbon, and one leaf garland all for $13.20. SCORE! Everything I bought was on sale except for the wreath, but I had a 40% off coupon that I was able to use for that.

I can't tell you how excited I was to start this project (just call me a HUGE dork!) so I was glad when the DH told me he had baseball practice the next day and that it would be a perfect time for me to start on my wreath while he was out molding young minds. YIPPIE!

I started off by stripping the leaves off of the garland and small bouquets. This turned out to be easier than I expected - no cutting needed, just a gentle tug and the leaves came right off. Then I used the huge wired ribbon I found for $1 and tied a bow to the twig wreath where I thought the top should be. Apparently I need to get my sister-in-law to show me how to make pretty bows again since mine ended up looking a little sad and droopy. I figured having the ribbon on the wreath before I started attaching the leaves would be easier than trying to work the ribbon in at the last minute, and boy was I right!

Now came the fun part - attaching the leaves. I started in random sections, hot gluing one leaf at a time making sure to attach the leaves in random directions since I was going for less structured look. I also found that if I attached two or three leaves in one spot all at once made it harder for those leaves to stay in place. Attaching one leaf to opposite sides of the wreath allowed the glue to dry and set and gave it a more random look. Here it is in progress:

After a few burnt finger tips, and a huge mess left on our office floor, I was pretty satisfied with my end result. I hung it from the office door knob to see see what it looked like and found a few blank spaces that needed some extra poof. Luckily I didn't end up using all of the leaves, but I'll save them in case I decide to make something else. I used a thinner wired piece of ribbon to make a loop on the back of the wreath so that I could attach it to the front door.

When the DH got home that night from practice he said our house was starting to look festive - which made me super happy. Goal accomplished! Now if I could just get that bow to look pretty.....

Friday, September 10, 2010

Best (and worst) at Tar-zhay

I don't normally do stuff like this, so if you're thinking this post is a little out of the ordinary you'd be correct. I read a quick article I found on MSN today that I found interesting and worth sharing.

I'm a huge fan of Tar-zhay - pretty much do most of my shopping there for everything from clothes to toilet cleaner. So when the title of an article is "Best (and worst) buys at Target", my curiosity peaks and I read on.

Best buys:
- Kindle: Apparently Target is the only store where you can go and buy a Kindle in person for the same price as you can online. I've never had an interest in buying one, but thought this was good to know in case my preferences changed in the near future.
- Green cleaning products: These days all you hear about is 'going green'. I haven't jumped on the band waggon completely yet, but I'd say I have at least one arm on it.
- Groceries: Seriously? Target is an awesome place to pick up banana's and milk? Tis true. Most of the Target stores in my area just recently went through a huge remodel to include more grocery items. I keep getting coupons for free grocery stuff in the mail which tempts me even more to try out their expanded grocery sections. What I didn't know until I read this article was that prices are at least 10% to 20% less than a regular grocery store. (side note from my experience: I know target will allow you to combine one of their coupons with a regular newspaper coupon, but I'm sure you can still get a better deal on some items in the grocery store when places offer double and triple coupon deals, especially if those items are in their weekly circular sale).
- Cosmetics: Yes, I buy a lot of my cosmetic items at Tar-zhay (make-up, shampoo, soap) if I can't get it at one of the big discount retailers in bulk. I have found that Target sells a wide variety of brands of cosmetic items, which is always a good thing.

Not so good buys:
- Furniture: Duh! Why spend $100 on a book case now that will crumble to pieces in one year, when you could spend $200 on one that will last you 10 years? Also - Wal-Mart isn't a smart place to buy furniture either, you never know what kind of wood they make their products out of, if you can even call it wood.
- Movies, Books, Music: Save your mulah and shop online at Amazon.
- Exercise equipment: If you are serious about exercising, and want quality equipment, to go a sporting goods store.
- Plastics, including some toys: The article says that Target is still putting toy's on it's shelves that contain PVC. Since I'm not a mom (yet), I actually had to look this up...which might be admitting my stupidity some, but too late now! Apparently PVC is hazardous from production to disposal - PVC's life cycle uses and releases highly hazardous chemicals which children, particularly infants are extremely vulnerable to. Just look for the recycling symbol with a number '3' in the middle of it - put the toy down, and slowly step away.

I felt a little at ease after finishing the article knowing that Tar-zhay isn't my go-to place for items on the 'worst' list. But I was hoping to find out some insider shopping secrets from the article and was a little disappointed in that fact. By the way, the article does go on to discuss best/worst buys for drugstores and Wal-Mart but since I don't frequent either I didn't think it was worth re-posting.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Sweet Friend

The DH and I apparently decided to take our vacations at the very end of summer this year, but that still doesn't excuse my absence. Work is crazy with a capital C these days, not to mention all the family drama we've been through in the past 5 months - 4 funerals in all. Sheesh! But I'm not letting funerals or work get me down or get in the way of having a little fun.

Which brings me to this card!! First, I'd like to say that I LOVE this sketch I used from the Sweet Sunday Sketch Challenge 83. And the sample card is pretty much to die for. Love the color combo used. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to try it.
This Labor Day holiday will be spent with all my best girl friends on our annual Girls Night Out beach trip. We've been doing this beach trip every since my bachelorette party, and every year it's proved to be the best vacation of the year. We usually drive down to Wilmington and stay at one of the GNO'ers house for a huge sleep over!! Of course hitting the beach while we're there is a must along with having at least one night out on the town. No matter what we end up doing, it's always a blast (esp since there are no boys allowed!!!).

Anyways, as a thank you to our host this year the girls are all pitching in on a gift card, so I made a thank you cart to go along with it. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out too. I'm getting pretty good at making these paper flowers, but I still find it easier to use hot glue to make sure the flowers don't unravel themselves. I'm still not sure if these flowers work well with one sided patterend paper or not. I tried rolling the flower in both directions, and ended up liking the pattern on the inside of the flower instead of the outside.

Anyways, I've linked this one up to The Sweetest Thing's sunday challenge - which I haven't posted to a challenge in almost a month!! Birthday's for family and friends pick up again in the fall, so hopefully I'll be participating in a lot more challenges in the next few months or so. But for now, I'm off to our girls weekend. Although I'll miss the DH ton's, I'm looking forward to haning out with the girls!!!