Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Easy Cake Decorating Trick

First, I want to say, this should really only be used for home-cakes. Because of copyright issues I'm pretty sure you could get in trouble if you tried to sell cakes with these kind of decor on it.

That being said, let's have some copy-cat fun!

I got volunteered to do the cake for one of my husband's co-workers' birthday party at work.
My husband's sensible, logical mind had conjured up an image of a 9x13 cake with chocolate frosting.
The end.

My not-always-sensible, let's-make-everything-more-fun mind conjured up an image of what cool thing could we put on this cake??
Mind you, we started talking about it in the evening before the day he was supposed to bring it, so any idea we had was rather last-minute.
Like chocolate. That would've been the simple thing to do.
Probably why I didn't pick it.

I knew this guy is a Dr. Who fan, and so I thought about mixing up some blue icing and putting a Tardis on there. I even thought about making a 3-D Tardis out of graham crackers and royal icing... gingerbread-house style, and decided that really was probably too much work, and that a 2-D Tardis would be just fine.
Then, I'm not really sure how this idea popped in my head, but we then talked about doing an Apple cake. Or, as my husband wanted to call it, the iCake. This guy is also a big Apple fan.
I'm staunchly prejudiced against Apple, for no good reason really, than to pick a side, but please keep your comments of one opinion or the other about the matter to yourself. Or at least just keep them kind. :) Thanks in advance.

Back to the cake. iCake it is.
I probably could've free-handed it, but I wanted it to look exactly right, and I didn't want any "Ohhh. That's supposed to be an Apple. Got it. Uh, thanks." So decided to use this little trick I'm going to pass on to you.

First, find an image you want to use. Simple is better, but can be a little complicated if you're up to it, and if you're up to mixing more colors of icing and all that. But this one is going to be simple.

First, you will get best results if the cake is iced with icing that has had a chance to "crust". You can use the Wilton buttercream recipe, or do like I did this time, and mix some meringue powder into a can of regular icing. I did 1 Tablespoon into 1 can of icing. This way, your icing will not be sticky or gooey anymore, and will be more durable when you're working on it.

Trace it on parchment paper. Wax paper would work fine too. Regular paper probably would too, for that matter.
(yep. tracing on my computer screen again.)

Flip the parchment paper over, and use a fine icing tip or some piping gel and trace the lines.

Then gently position the paper over the cake where you want it.

Gently rub little circles over the icing or piping gel. The warmth from your hands will help it soften and transfer to your cake.

Then remove the paper.

Ta da! Now all you need to do is fill it in.

Then, smooth the filled-in part, being careful not to smear it outside the lines.

The end! That's all there is to it! Have fun... I'd love to see pictures of your cake creations!

Friday, February 22, 2013

4 Ingredient Granola Bars

I'm a snacker. Not a big time snacker but every now and then I just need a bit of something to go with my coffee. And every now and then I really really want that snack to have some actual nutritional value.
I really like granola. Why does it have to be so expensive? Oatmeal is cheap, right?
Enter Pinterest.
Enter too many options.
Here's what happened. When I decided I should embark on making my own granola bars, I looked at all the options, and found a few several that I thought looked good, with ingredients I could handle, such as peanut butter, oatmeal, honey, flax...
Then I went to the store, (without the recipe) and got what I needed. Or thought I needed.
Here's why having all those options was a problem.
I had purchased components of several different recipes.
What now? I'm not going back to the store.
I decided it can't be that hard, and just decided to wing it.

Here's what I decided.
And here is the granola-bar secret:You just need to mix the right ratio of gooey with the right ratio of dry and you really can't go wrong.
So play with it, have fun, and don't get too hung up on ingredients if  you don't have all the "right" ones. Use what you like. Or don't. But I'll bet you'll enjoy them better if you do. Just sayin'.

So I had fun playing. I even tried a batch of no-bake ones and a batch of baked ones. They both were awesome.
I am going to actually post all three recipes that I made at some point, but for now, here's the batch that ought to be the healthiest.
Oh yeah, that was another thing, I really wanted them to be gluten-free, and not have a bunch of sugar or corn syrup... oats are already carbs after all.

Here's one with just 4 ingredients:
Dates (or prunes), flax-seeds, oats, honey

Puree the dates or prunes.

(my dates were old and a bit dry, so I stuck them in the microwave on high for about a minute and they pureed up so easily after that.)

They will look like this all minced up. If you use prunes, they will make more of a creamy brown paste. These are for your gooiness part of the recipe.

Mix fruit, seeds & oats.

Then mix the next ingredients 1 T  at a time, adding until you get the right consistency. You'll know its right when it presses together into a ball without crumbling.

TIP: To make up for my dry dates, I did add 1-2 T of peanut butter, but if you have fresh ingredients you shouldn't need the PB. Like I said, play with it and make it work for you. 

Spread into a 9x9 dish, pressing down with rubber spatula.

Bake at 350 for 10 min.

Cut and eat. A 9x9 pan makes about 8 bars.

1/2 C dates or prunes, pureed
1/4 C flax-seed
1 C oats
1-2 T honey
1-2 T water (ok, yes that's 5 ingredients, but since it's water, I just didn't think we needed to count it.) 
Puree dates or prunes
Mix fruit, seeds & oats.
Then mix the next ingredients 1 T  at a time, adding until you get the right consistency. You'll know its right when it presses together into a ball without crumbling.
Spread into a 9x9 dish.
Bake at 350 for 10 min.
Cut and eat. A 9x9 pan makes about 8 bars.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Counting 1000 Blessings - February 2013

Continuing the joydare! February 2013
I will be updating this as I go along.


1          94 Valentine’s Day decorations

            95 planted red tulips today
            96 Favorite Starbucks mug

2          97 books we read on the car together
            98 Romans Project verses! Praising God for the opportunity to memorize His precious Word

            99 Ivan's little Bible the church gave him when he was born
3          100 Letter from my elderly friend
            101 Journal letters to Baby before he was born 
            102 Perpetual journal my friend gave me

4          103 tulips just coming up!

            104 canned peaches

            105 My coca-cola crate from my brother

5          106 a gift stitched: blanket embroidered by my sister
            107 a gift hammered: hammered metal clock
            108 a gift woven: jeans fresh from the dryer

6          109 bare trees remind me of my tangled thoughts "Thou, Lord, knowest it altogether" 
            110 bright spot on a cloudy day

            111 happy mail

7          112 got my teeth cleaned today! now my pearly whites feel all shiny 
            113 corn bag and hot coffee and a good book

            114 sweet boy always stretches so big when I open his swaddle bag

8          115  mirror for the nursery

            116 this bowl from a precious friend, that I will mend someday. I love it so much

            117 pants mended for my husband to keep wearing
9          118 Ivan reached for me for the first time today! I loved it so much!

            119 I have never seen him get so excited as he was over this music box at his grandmas

            120 this little sweetie reached up and put his warm hand on my shoulder
10        121 3 of my favorite guys in the world!
            122 Tickling Ivan
            123 Dear husband opening presents with his hilarious family

11        124 so I really love my job. I get to wear slippers

            125 working on my sisters baby shower invites. creativity and excitement blossoms 
            126 getting in touch with old acquaintances and catch up on each-others lives 
12        127 Praise Jesus for emptiness and that He fills it.

            128 One relationship that has caused continual pain. It teaches me to be kinder to those around me
            129 Dinner for one tonight  while my husband is working hard at his second job. I miss him but am thankful for the opportunity, when so many are out of work
13        130 favorite hand towel hook ever

            131 This cozy, comfortable thing we call love. What I think of when I see my fuzzy bathrobe from my Lovie
            132 Spent the afternoon on the phone back and forth with insurance. Need a cup of coffee before getting back on the phone

14        133 That in spite of me, He not only accepts me, but knows, forgives, and chooses to LOVE me 
            134 That Scripture is preserved for eternity. That He is knowable

            135 That He is El Elyon, the Most High God, and not us. because Heaven knows He is the only One holy enough to handle that position.
15        136 a gift in making... hat and bow tie handmade by his momma

            137 finding the time to memorize Scripture
            138 that its time to lose the sleep sack... Baby boy stretches out as big as he possibly can and it's so cute.

16        139 Ps 91:1 abiding in the shadow of the Almighty

            140 Candles& twinkle lights 
            141 Sweetheart banquet at our church, first time I've been.
17        142 It's so hard to be nice to one who has hurt you. There is joy in letting God hold that pain to free up my hands to serve. Today I got the challenge of being hospitsble to the one who has hurt me the most
            143 I get to serve a little helpless person all day long, and it truly is a gift, even wiping up spit-up and changing diapers

            144 giving a love-letter journal to my husband
18        145 This book I'm borrowing from my father-in-law on the names of God

            146 reading books with the boy. He is starting to show favorites now!
            147 Bible study book on Daniel 
19        148 finished making the Romans project cards for my husband- he prefers NASB 
            149 My Arbonne face cream. plan A: just buy it. Plan B: buy the cheaper one from while supplies last. 
            150 The homemade diaper inserts are more absorbent and feel drier than the gDiaper ones

20        151 getting the jars ready for canning squash later
            152 my buddy with my corn bag on this wonderful snowy day!

            153 my Ian took Ivan out to get mail and show him the snow

21        154 Funny how similar these books look

            155 look at all that snow! And the driveway was shoveled completely clear last night.
            156 Monsters Inc jammies! Decided it should be a jammies day. For Ivan anyway.

22        157 got to talk to my best buddy and cheer her up! 
            158 need to change my standards for relationships & my behavior within them.

            159 still extremely cold outside, but today we have beautiful sunshine!
23        160 Tin: Decorations in my kitchen
            161 Glass: Matching Spidey mugs with hot chocolate

            162 Wood: Fire in the fireplace on this wintry day

24        163 Beth Moore's Daniel study homework
            164 Romans Project Bible Memory Cards and memorizing with a sleeping baby on my lap

            165 She Reads Truth study - last day of the Soul Detox series

25        166 in lieu of actually doing my hair and making baby wait to eat... messy bun it is
            167  its cozy old hoodie kind of day
            168 from my sweetheart for our anniversary!
26        169 I love that I can see outside & across the street even, when looking in the bathroom mirror.
            170 Ivan looking in his lil mirror toy. The boy is fascinated with his reflection.
            171 I almost deleted this because of my dumb face, but then realized this is my "unfiltered" smile... I was looking at Ivan when I snapped this, and apparently I just get that happy when I'm looking at him.
27        172 1Cor 6:11-12 I am washed. I am sanctified. I am justified: in the name of Jesus. The uglier my mess, the more of His washing I may receive. John 13:9 "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head."
            173 this rough world we live in makes heaven that much more beautiful, and peace that much more treasured.
            174 my c-section scar
28        175 wearing my promise
            176 the Lord has promised to sanctify me.
            177 my miracle box. Got this at a women's Bible study from my Secret Santa, the woman started my box with her incredible story of how God worked several miracles in her life. The idea is to write them down & go back and read them when your faith needs a boost. Really this should be overflowing, but I haven't been writing them all like I should.
29        178