Tuesday, April 30, 2013

You're Invited

Wow, we made it.  All the weeks (ahem, months) of planning, pinning, researching, note taking, supply gathering, experimenting, sewing & baking brought about a marvelous success for Livy's 3rd birthday and I'm finally getting around to sharing the details!

Granddaddy & Gramma with Livy, the birthday cowgirl!
I decided a while back to do a farm theme as Livy was enamored with farm animals, Old MacDonald etc... and I knew it would be a blast to organize:)  So many possibilities- I confessed to Sweetstamper that I could happily plan a farm birthday every year and make each one unique!  I was having that much fun...

 ...and so was Livy:)

So here is where things started: a custom birthday invitation made using My Digital Studio.  I'm not a techy girl but this came together so quickly and I had a blast designing it with Sweetstamper's help.  And most importantly, I didn't end up frustrated; it was so easy & quick:)  I had Stampin' Up! print the invites as their print quality is fab!

And here is the back...

Isn't it sweet?  I love the simplicity & vintage accents:)

I used the Storytime suite from Stampin' Up! for all of the images- LOVE!
And I can't wait to create a custom invite for Jonah's next birthday on My Digital Studio- try it free here!

Stay tuned for more farm paraphernalia:) 

Monday, April 29, 2013

"7 Layers Thick!"

One of our favorite Lucy episodes is "Job Switching"- Olivia has most of the episode memorized and the kids love the scene where the rice boils over and Lucy makes "swee swees"!  The scene where Fred reveals his "...devil's food cake, a big juicy one, seven layers thick" is hilarious- Ricky's repsonse is to ask, "What happened to the other 6 layers?"!!!  As a result, 'Ricky's' standard response to any of my baking muffs has been, "What happened to the other 6 layers?":)

This past weekend was 'Ricky's' birthday so I opted to make a chocolate devil's food cake, like Fred, in honor of this momentous occasion:)  I was trying out a new recipe and at first thought the cake layers looked a bit flat, earning me a traditional, "What happened to the other 6 layers?"!

However, once assembled there were no complaints- nestled in coffee buttercream frosting (not mixed in & baked with Fred's cake!) it looked lovely and tasted even better than expected:)

Photo: Family birthday... Sis made chocolate devils food cake and coffee buttercream... #Awesomeness

So without further ado, here is the recipe, courtesy of Cooks Illustrated (best cake recipes ever!):

Velvet Devil's Food Cake with Coffee Buttercream Frosting:

Velvet Devil's Food Cake:
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder,
2 instant espresso powder or instant coffee,
1 cup boiling water,
2 tsp vanilla extract,
12 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda,
1/2 tsp salt

Coffee Buttercream Frosting:
1 tbsp instant espresso powder or instant coffee,
1 tbsp coffee liqueur
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 pound unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 egg yolk (beaten) or 2 tbsp beaten egg

  1. For the Cake: Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-by-1 1/2-inch round baking pans with shortening. Line pan bottoms with waxed or parchment paper; grease paper as well. Dust pans with flour; tap out excess.
  2. 2. Mix cocoa and instant coffee in small bowl; add boiling water and mix until smooth. Cool to room temperature, then stir in vanilla.
  3. 3. Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer set at medium-high speed until smooth and shiny, about 30 seconds. Gradually sprinkle in sugar; beat until mixture is fluffy and almost white, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating 1 full minute after each addition.
  4. 4. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. With mixer on lowest speed, add about 1/3 of dry ingredients to batter, followed immediately by about 1/3 of cocoa mixture; mix until ingredients are almost incorporated into batter. Repeat process twice more. When batter appears blended, stop mixer and scrape bowl sides with rubber spatula. Return mixer to low speed; beat until batter looks satiny, about 15 seconds longer.
  5. 5. Divide batter evenly between pans. With rubber spatula, run batter to pan sides and smooth top. Bake cakes until they feel firm in center when lightly presesd anad skewer comes out clean or with just a crumb or two adhering, 23 to 30 minutes. Tranfer pans to wire racks; cool for 20 minutes. Run knife around perimeter of each pan, invert cakes onto racks, and peel off paper liners. Reinvert cakes onto additional racks; cool completely before frosting.
  6. 6. For the Buttercream Frosting: Mix instant coffee, coffee liqueur, and vanilla in small cup until coffee dissolves; set aside. Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add sugar and beat 3 minutes longer. Add coffee mixture and egg to frosting; beat until frosting mounds around beaters in a fluffy mass, 3 to 5 minutes longer. Apply frosting onto first cake layer and spread with a long metal spatula, top with second cake layer, top second layer with frosting, spread and then frost sides.

Hope you enjoy this special cake & thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Olivia's Birthday Dress

Several months ago the sewing machine was stashed at Gramma's house while we de-cluttered our home for sale purposes- 2 weeks ago I informed 'Ricky' that I was bringing home the sewing machine since we had sold the house:)

I had a hankering to make a dress for Peanut, and not just any dress, a party dress:)  I saw this tutorial and began hatching a plan for my 1st dress project, including clearance fabric from Hobby Lobby, just in case I botched it! 

Livy liked the "Purpur" aka "purple" fabric with flowers & helped to find appropriate buttons so off I went!

Since this was my first proper dress adventure, I read through the tutorial + comments several times ( & even then, still made a few boo boos!) and worked on this once my little Ms were slumbering:)  A bit more sewing experience would have been helpful but I figured this was the perfect opportunity to acquire some!

After 2 evenings I had a lovely dress intact and was just missing the sash- I made a rather large cutting boo boo which took a chunk of time to remedy:(

I wish I could've captured when Livy first tried on her new dress- she grinned from ear to ear and quietly, in awe, strode to my full length mirror & began to twirl, admiring herself:)  Even with the dress not being perfect, she was elated!

So, finally Livy's birthday rolled around and she was able to show off her new dress at church- she'd been pining to show Gramma & Granddaddy all week:)


Livy commandeered one of my necklaces, insisting that she needed it for her new dress!

I made a simple coordinating yoyo hair clip- the button & fabric covered brad are from Stampin' Up! & match perfectly:)

There's a peek at the massive bow that tied in the back- neglected to get a proper pic of that feature...grrr...

FYI, if you choose to try out this great dress tutorial, be sure to measure your child- I made the biggest size offered (5) and it fits well with some room in the bodice to hopefully extend Livy's twirling escapades:)

Plotting more dresses to come...Livy informed me tonight, "Mama, I need new dress pees."

Thanks for looking,

Friday, April 19, 2013

Under Contract

So, its' been a month since we last chatted...disgraceful, I know (cringing)...and so much has happened!

'Ricky' & I closed on our little abode and are currently subleasing from the new owners which has been an answer to prayer, alleviating the need to move twice with our little Ms!

We're also under contract on our potentially "new big house" as Livy says:)  Just had the home inspection done and there are a few things that need sorting so we're in the throws of negotiations now...

I'll be honest- this has been one of the most draining experiences I've faced...just check out "Mrs Benson" above!  The constant appointments, phone calls, emails, scanning documents, online searching etc... is not for the faint of heart!  And throw in my little Ms that are constantly moving, crossing boundaries, destroying something and it's, well...exhausting! 

And yet, through it all, God has given us a great peace that He was sorting things out and so we continued the search after multiple homes were sold right out from under us or were already under contract, hours after being listed etc....

The home we currently have under contract is cute as a button and with a little updating will be really lovely- poor 'Ricky' hasn't even seen it yet as I rushed to view & sort the contract while he was at work one day!  That's how fast the market has been moving!  Phew!

So, hopefully I can share concrete news about our "new big house" next week...and we're hoping our new neighbor won't be a "Minnie Finch"!

On a lighter note, Livy's birthday is finally approaching this weekend and I've been scurrying for the past 2 weeks trying to finish the DIY stick horses, chocolate pigs, felt vegetables, DIY cupcake tower barn etc...!  I'll be sharing pics & details of all the creations next week:)

Thanks for staying in touch,