Better Than The Better Than ____ Cake!

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The month is flying by. My crochet hooks no longer recognize me, as my mind is too full and my hands too busy to give them the time they deserve.

Orders are pending and will wait a little longer, as we have some amazing adventures coming up!

We are nearing the end of my first year teaching. It is an adventure-a-minute! Graduation planning has begun.

High school graduation also looms, as well as spring trips and other end of the year class fun.

There are many firsts in my life right now…and it is all going much too quickly!

I don’t know where the time goes.

Tonight we combined several celebrations into one: we had a welcome home dinner with our returning snowbird grandparents, ate corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day, opened Easter baskets a week early due to travel plans, and celebrated two birthdays. Phew!

My precious eldest daughter turns eighteen tomorrow. To say I am unprepared for this is a massive bit of understatement. I keep asking myself, how can this be? Just a moment ago she was my sweet, terrifyingly new baby, then my darling child, then the savvy, socially conscious teen….

Her cake was a bit of an adventure. I have been busy with lessons and had little time to plan anything particularly special.

So we improvised, and it was delicious! The grandparents raved about it, and the birthday girl declared it even yummier than our favorite, the Better Than Sex cake. πŸ™‚

High praise indeed.

Here’s what we did:

Using my Pampered Chef Trifle Bowl, I used a Jello cheesecake box mix and made the crust in the bottom.

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We then made a ring of her favorite candy bar, Twix, around the outside edge.

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Dad’s contribution was the accurate and somewhat humorous placement. It was a bit of a production. πŸ™‚

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While he placed the bars, my junior helper began the filling mix.

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Then we put everything in the fridge to chill overnight.
In the morning, my sweet helper layered Cool Whip, cheesecake pudding filling, caramel and chocolate sauce with Milk Duds and returned it to the fridge to chill further.
She also took a few pictures of the finished product for me while I prepared for the party.

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It was delicious.

We served it with a spoon and asked our guests how many Twix they would like with their serving. πŸ™‚ I did deny the request for 14 of them…very funny, child.

I will be making this one again! Any candy bars or topping you like would be delicious. Cake cut into chunks or fruit would make yummy additional layers.

So, until next time!

May you have a blessed holy week. ❀

A Little Mermaid Princess

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And now, for something completely different… πŸ™‚

It is birthday season here! Kind of fun, that following the holidays we have two in a row, then one in March, one in April.

I try to make cute cakes for our girls. It doesn’t happen every year…but I learned from my mother, who learned from her mother– hmm, that’s how I learned to crochet, too! I use a cake idea site especially for amateurs, since a professional cake artist, I am not!

Find it here: http://www.coolest-birthday-cakes.com/Β  Pinterest is just too unrealistic for me, most days. πŸ™‚

This year’s request from baby #4 was “the mermaid on a rock one, please, mommy?” I was happy to comply…though we hit a bit of a snag when she wanted to help…even if she was eight going on nine last week…and had some definite design ideas that may or may not have been practical…apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and all that… πŸ˜‰

But the end result was sweet, if not award-winning. I’ll include a bit of a how-to, and a few links, if you’d like to give it a go yourself!

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First, a cake mix baked in a glass bowl. I use the Pampered Chef batter bowl; I like that one (pictured back left). Grease and flour it well! It takes a bit longer to bake in the bowl, usually about 45 minutes. I made a marshmallow fondant for the tail, so much cheaper than the regular stuff!

For the recipes– marshmallow fondant and cake decorator icing– see here: https://thesparklytoad.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/spring-longing/

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Grey for the rock, blue for waves, pink for the tail. I had fun with my decorator tips, haven’t had those out in a while!

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Added some fins…

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Went a shade darker with the pink to add some trim.

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Now the green for seaweed and leaves:

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I’m not too particular as long as the kids like it. Frosting is too changeable for my taste…sweet and such a variety in consistency!

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I do detest clean-up…the oil from the shortening never fully washes. In fact the tubes of frosting are still sitting in my fridge a week later. We will use them to decorate some cookies before I finally break down and scrub them out. At least the bags are disposable! Washing the tips out is bad enough. πŸ™‚

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A view or two of her pretty flower in the hair:

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A little sea weed, anyone? πŸ™‚

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On another note, I finally replaced my favorite orange tennies. I’ve enjoyed featuring them in crochet shots from time to time, and now they are due to retire. I used a little Christmas money to buy a new pair, black this time. Not quite as much fun, but ah well, that’s what they had at the store.

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May you have a marvelous evening! I am excited to pick up my hook for the first time in over a week. If I can stay awake…I hope to start a gorgeous cardigan.

Super Fresh Salsa

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Hello! A bonus post for you today as we head into the last days of summer…local gardens are overrun with tomatoes, peppers and zucchini…

I want to tell you my salsa story. I used to work as a cashier when we were paying off our credit card– second job and all that– and one of the things I noticed was that certain of my non-English-speaking customers always bought the same types of ingredients.

So one day I put them all together…and YUM! I’ll never make it any other way again.

Fresh Summer Salsa

6 roma tomatoes
1/2 red onion
1/4 c. fresh cilantro
1-3 jalepenos
Juice of one lime

Chop, toss and let marinate an hour or so before serving.
Makes about four cups. Keep refrigerated.

Salsa photo gallery πŸ™‚

Tomatoes peeking in my needs-to-be-weeded garden
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Ripening in the sun
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Mixing it up
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And ready to serve

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Enjoy!

Spring Longing

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Happy Tuesday!

We are still in a deep freeze here in the part of the country. I am grateful for the beautiful sun, but the little ones and I are quite house-bound, as it is only 1ΒΊF. Brrrrr!

Still we are dreaming…longing…hoping for spring! It can’t be too far off…

So today we made…bunnies! And a few other spring creatures for our class treat later today.

I used two of my old standbys: the Wilton Buttercream Icing recipe
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and MARSHMALLOW fondant.
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I just love making fondant from an old half-bag of marshmallows with a couple tablespoons of water! Cheap, sweet, and it works up like play dough, perfect for little ones.

To cut the stickiness, we rub a little shortening on our hands, then dust with powdered sugar.

My sweet older girl wanted to make a bunny cake, so here he is:
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And all his little friends! Enjoy!
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Here’s hoping warmer
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weather is right around the corner!

Spinach Chicken, a Giraffe and Some Zebras

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Hello…happy Monday! Schools here are canceled for two days due to the extreme cold. Which means a full house for us, since my brother’s children join us then, too! The cousins have been playing rapturiously and riotously all day…a little noisy, but so sweet as I well remember my own delight when school was canceled, long ago!

I have been busy with the hook…today was a bit of pattern experimentation for a special order.
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Zebra, zebra, zebra! The spike stitch was the winner, you can find the instructions here: spike crochet stitch

The middle stripe pattern is a half-double crochet with the hook inserted between the stich instead of under the v as usual. I liked the diamond shape it makes, as well as how nicely it lays.

The longer piece on the right is simply a increase/decrease pattern of single crochet rows: 3 blk, 1 wh, 2 blk, 2 wh, 1 blk, 3 wh, etc. I like that one, too. It will be fun to try in color!

And now, something special I worked on yesterday afternoon and well into the evening…
Can you guess? I haven’t done any amigurumi for a bit…so it was fun to get back to it.
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Still needs horns, and ears…but I was very happy to complete so much at once. Here is another clue:
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When it is finished I very much hope it will look something like this:
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Here is the link if you would like to see more of her lovely work:
http://willewopsie.blogspot.com/

And finally, something yummy…my sweet husband is off for the holiday and made us dinner: spinach, garlic and chicken lasagne. It smells amazing!

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You can find the recipe here: lasagne

Looking forward to a whole evening of crochet, now that my brother has arrived to collect his crew! Stay well and warm. β™‘ More pretties coming this way later in the week…I have an owl afghan  design I am so eager to start! Blessings.
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