Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Party Goers

Don’t mess with this little princess her big brother is none other than Super Man!

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Please don't ever forget how much fun a box of crayons can be.

Halloween Cakes

I had a cake marathon. I had a goal of making 4 cakes for the daycare and the office but first we searched just about every grocery store for a cake mix not marked “moist”. I don’t think they exist. The most cake mixes just don’t release from the castle cake pan and I had this great vision of a chocolate castle overlooking a cookie graveyard for the Halloween parties.

Several friends suggested I try the Hershey®’s “Perfectly Chocolate”™ Chocolate Cake from the back of the cocoa tin. The good news is the cake is very easy to make. It smelled heavenly and the cake testers at my house loved it. The bad new is it is a very moist cake that came out of the mold in 14 pieces. I managed to reassemble the cake for today’s Halloween party at the daycare. A crumbling castle with a peep ghost on top will work for Halloween but not the rest of the year.

After baking two base yellow cakes from mixes and one chocolate castle cake which wasn’t even out of the mold by 8:30p I had to change my cake decorating plans. The daycare was going to get a version of my original vision and work was going to get a graveyard cake. In the end they both looked great and fit the day’s theme but I’m still on a quest for a great tasting cake that is solid enough to slide out of the castle cake mold.

Soap Making

Friends at Mannaheim decided to take on cold press soap. On the 14th we tore apart a broken shipping pallet and made soap molds. After a few smashed fingers we had assembled 10 molds. This past weekend we met again to slide on the rubber gloves and goggles to make soap. It was the blind leading the blind. We read directions, listened to our fearless leader and referred to the web for help. After hours of looking like mad scientist and stirring our brews we had soap, beautiful orange palm-olive soap. We wrapped up 6 filled molds and tucked them away to cure.

Yesterday, our fearless leader unwrapped our soap experiments to slice them before they cured to rock hard and announced that we had did indeed made soap.

FYI: Recycled plastic car floor covers from the garden center made perfect mold liners. They were durable enough to hand taken the 'half baked' soap in and out of the mold for slicing.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Other “Kids”

The other kids are just sitting back and taking things as they come. This is Bella crashed in a sunny spot on one of the kid’s couches.

Another Year Older

Incase you haven’t seen them in awhile; the birthday duo is another year older and a little bigger.

Grandma Ruth

I’m a little behind in my blogging. October has already been a busy month.

Earlier this month we went to southern Maryland to visit Grandma Ruth. Grandma Ruth is a 98 year-young retired kindergarten teacher. She is a wonderful example of how a good spirit can live a long wonderful life. She is moving a bit slower and she can no longer get down on the floor to play with the little ones but just having them walk in the room makes her face light up. She is such a joy to talk with and be around.

We just wish she wasn’t so far because we would love to visit her much more often

The Pink Cake and Blue Pirate Bay

The strawberry super moist cake was super yummy according to the kids. It disappeared very quickly with pleads for more. Unfortunately super moist cakes and the castle cake mold don’t work well together. The cake came out of the mold in 3 pieces. I was able to ‘stick’ them together long enough to get the cake to school and show it to the kids. The top tower piece fell as I was about to cut the first piece. The kids didn’t care.

The blue pirate bay was made with 2 boxes of Jell-O® berry blue gelatin using the Jigglers® recipe . I sprayed the foil with some Pam® no-stick spray and then wiped it with a paper towel so oil would not affect the flavor or texture but still allow the gelatin to lift right out. It turned out great.

The birthday boy’s friends dove into their pieces. There was enough to share with his sister’s friends too so they all got some pink castle cake. There was only part of a tower left and part of the pirate bay blue gelatin left for the teachers.

The Peter Pan Pirate Party

The plan was to have the kids make Peter Pan (sailor) hats out of newspaper but instead they supervised as my husband made hats for all of the kids. On the other hand they were all more then willing to give up their supervisor positions and get their “hands dirty” to put pirate foam stickers all over their black beach buckets. The pirate stickers were a huge hit and the buckets turned out great. After the kids were finished decorating them I filled them with their take home goodies. I didn’t get any candy instead we went a bit over board with ‘stuff’: giant sticker pirate maps, pirate bandanas, eye patches, and Tinker Bell note pads. Tim read "Do Pirates Take Baths" to the kids. Then it was time for the cake. The birthday boy and his class all have a thing for pink so the pink castle was perfect and was a big hit. After cake they all settled down to watch the classic animated Disney® Peter Pan movie.

After naps they made Easy Spyglass Telescope from paper towel tubes and colored pirate maps. Since the birthday boy was blessed with a beautiful day they didn’t color their Peter Pan & Pirate coloring pages. The teachers are saving them for another day.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Mom Song

The news was playing The Mom Song from You Tube last week. Mom and non-mom’s can appreciate it. It is everything a mom says in a single day. I don’t recall my mom telling me not to text at the table. Who knows what I’ll be telling mine by the time they are teenagers

Mmmm, Pudding

Apartment Therapy Kitchen has posted recipes for making your own pudding and candied nuts. All we need now is for a cool night to curl up with some homemade pudding with a sprinkle of spiced nuts on top. Pudding can be a perfect wheat-free comfort food.

DIY Chocolate Pudding
DIY Vanilla Pudding
Sweet & Salty Cinnamon Almonds

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Castle on the Beach

This past weekend I had to alter my castle cake ‘decorations”. The host of Saturday’s pot luck requested all dishes be nut-free including no plain M&M candies. Because of multiple allergies I decided to make my castle nut-free and gluten-free. I have been taking dishes to potluck which I can eat which means wheat-free but not necessarily gluten-free.

I picked up a package of Gluten-Free Pantry® Spice Cake & Gingerbread Mix for the occasion. It made a beautiful cake in my Nordic Ware® castle Bundt® cake pan. It was a bit shorter then the other cakes I have made but since it was more of a beach theme it worked well with the wash away look. The flavor was as good as it looked. My son who can eat any kind of cake he wants requested I make it again for the family. This is very high praise for a gluten-free product. In stead of a moat I made an beach front scene. I made a Jell-O® Jigglers® ocean with 4 boxes of Berry Blue. I lined a cardboard soda can case with heavy duty aluminum foil which I propped up on one end to hold the box at an angle on the counter as I worked with it and in the refrigerator. I made up 2 boxes according to the directions and let it set. I then made small slits to insert Swedish Fish® candies. I then added 2 more boxes of prepared gelatin and let it harden until it was time to go to the party.

The result looked great. The fish looked like shadows in the water as if you were flying over. The water was ‘lapping’ at the edge of the castle. The cake tasted great and the gelatin was good but the fish were a bit ‘gooey’. They tasted okay but the moisture from the gelatin effected their texture and appearance. Next time I won’t be adding fish.