I'm not an expert at anything, in fact I'm a wannabe at everything: DIYer, crafter, cook, baker, fashionista & beauty guru extraordinaire. And so far I ain't bad BUT am still learning. Like I have lots of learning ahead of me. My blog is a little bit of this and that in my wannabe adventures; oh and random ramblings on family life, motherhood, and my kiddos. Y se habla español.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Cross Wall!

Happy Holy Thursday and Happy Holy Week!  Well if you celebrate it and if not then g'day to y'all.  I thought I would show off my wall of crosses with you since I added a new cross this past Sunday. It wasn’t a cross that was purchased or gifted to me because I made this one.  Yep, for the first time ever I made a cross out of palms.  It doesn’t look like the one from the church bulletin but I made one!

Shame on me for taking so long to follow through with something I’ve wanted to learn how to do for years.  Ever since I can remember I have always watched people sitting around me at church making their crosses out of the palms that were passed out at the start of Mass.  It’s mainly the younger folks that make the crosses during Mass and it’s even cute to see siblings, cousins, or friends help one another.  As always, I take a glimpse at the devoted cross makers because for years I have been keeping mental notes; but yesterday I paid a little more close attention and even went to YouTube (after Mass of course) to learn the steps of this simple, humble cross.

Here is my cross.  Not too shabby for a first-timer in her thirties.  Jeez laweez!

But here are the rest of my crosses.  I started collecting crosses not long after I was married.  Little by little my collection has grown over the years and I am quite pleased with the variety of styles and colors.  And this wall in my house is the perfect spot for my collection. 

I am happy to say that the great majority of these crosses were a gift to me or my husband and me.  A couple were wedding gifts, some were birthday gifts and others were Christmas gifts.  I hope my collection grows as I continue to grow in my faith.  Lord knows I have a whole lotta learning to do!  :)

I love my wall-o-crosses and as cheesy as it may sound, it does bring serenity and peace to our little casita.  Peace be with you all this Easter season.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lessons Learned: Barbie Doll Cake + Recipe

Okay so in my last post I shared with you all the Barbie doll cake I made for my daughter's birthday party earlier this year.  Just an FYI, I looooove to bake but I still don't know what I'm doing.  I have yet to take any baking classes or any of those cake decorating classes offered up at Michael's, Hobby Lobby or cake supply stores.  I want to.  Believe me I do but Mama just doesn't have the time, yet.  Le sigh.

So I thought I would let you all know some of the deets to the doll cake.  First thing is that I did not take many pictures while I made the cake or after!  I am so mad at myself.  I was a little stressed this day because of the challenge at hand but I really thought I had taken plenty of pictures.  After the day was over I looked through the pictures on my iPhone and realized I had very few.  Oh I was so sad.  I hope my baby girl can forgive me in the years to come. 

Here is one of her and her beloved cake just before we sang Happy Birthday to her.  Yes, I blurred her out on purpose.  But you can still see a sweet, happy girl.  :)

This picture was taken by my aunt (thank you, Aunt Lita!) and if it had not been for her then I would really be in trouble.  As far as I know, this is the only solo picture of the cake at the party. 

As you can see, I have the cake on a round board covered in pink foil paper.  It is actually two round cake boards made of cardboard taped together.  I then covered the entire board with light pink foil.  My huz bought the foil for me (in a desperate situation) at Make It Sweet cake supply store here in Austin.  I am in heaven whenever I walk into this newly expanded bake shop!  They sell decorative foil in many fun colors.  Among lots and lots of baking supplies.

Now I said that my hubby went out and bought the foil for me in desperate situation.  Like five hours before the party.  The reason is because I was going to originally decorate the cake board with white fondant so that the cake could stand out as much as possible.  Cause you know I wanted that pink dress to shine!  Well that attempt went sour muy pronto.  I wanted to do the fondant the way I saw laurapoopie do it on one of her YouTube videos.  I have seen this video a total of umpteen times so I was confident I could do it.  Not!

Mistake numero uno.  The white fondant I had in my pantry was too old.  Or not plastic wrapped properly because the thing was rock solid. 

Mistake number two: I thought I would try it anyway.  I put the block of fondant in the microwave for a couple of minutes to soften it up and then cut it up into chunks.

Disaster.  I was able to roll out just a couple of pieces and the rest was just hopeless.  Ugh.  This is when I sent my hubby to the Make It Sweet store and get that pink foil.  My man and pink foil to the rescue. 

And remember those emergency cupcakes I mentioned in the last post too?  The ones I had to make because the dome cake did not bake all the way.  Well they were lifesavers because there was enough cake and cupcakes for everyone.  And yes they were delicious thanks to a recipe I used from my January/February 2013 issue of the Food Network magazine.  I think it is one of my new favorite recipes.  I used the same recipe for the cakes and cupcakes.  I'm telling ya this is one yummy recipe.  Box mix?  Pfft!

Basic Vanilla Cake Recipe

-2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (plus extra for pans)
-3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
-1 tablespoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 1/4 cups sugar
-4 large eggs, room temperature
-1 tablespoon vanilla extract
-1 1/4 cups whole milk (I used strawberry flavored milk to make it a strawberry/vanilla cake)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter two 9 inch round cake pans and line bottom with parchment paper; butter the parchment and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. Whisk 3 cups flour, the baking powder and slat in a bowl until combined.  Beat 2 sticks butter and the sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Reduce the mixer speed to medium; beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed.  beat in the vanilla.  (The mixture may look separated at this point.)  beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with flour, until just smooth.
  3. Divide the batter between the prepared pans.  Bake until the cakes are lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.  Transfer to racks and let cool 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pans and turn the cakes out onto the racks to coll completely.  Remove the parchment.  Trim to tops of the cakes with a long serrated knife to make them level, if desired.
This recipe is straight from my Food Network magazine.  Instead of two 9 inch cake pans, I made three 8 inch cake pans following the same directions.  I also used the same recipe for my emergency cupcakes and just adjusted the time to 25-30 minutes.  It all depends on your oven.

Oh and the cake that I baked in my Pampered Chef batter bowl was in the oven for about 50 minutes at 325 degrees.  I did some research (after the fact) and found out that the cake needed to be in the oven longer and at a lower temperature.  But there are so many testimonials out there about baking a cake in a batter bowl so this is something that I'm going to figure out on my with more trial and error.  Womp, womp.  

The frosting I used for both the cake and cupcakes was cream cheese frosting. I prefer cream cheese frosting over butter cream any day.  That recipe is easy cheesy.  This one I've had and got it from one of my All Recipes cookbooks.  Not sure if they still print them.

Cream Cheese Frosting

-1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
-1 8 oz. brick cream cheese, room temperature
-4 cups powdered sugar
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-red food coloring (few drops)

  1. Beat butter and cream cheese until well blended.
  2. Add vanilla until incorporated and gradually add the powdered sugar until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add a few drops of red food coloring until you get the desired shade of pink.  Again a gradual step, you can always add but you can't take away!
I doubled this recipe since I knew I was going to need quite a bit for the cakes and cupcakes.  Oh and I don't have a picture of the cupcakes with frosting.  Again, I was horrible with pictures that day.  But they pretty much looked like these (below) minus the tiaras and pearl candies.  These cupcakes were from her birthday party last year.  I made the cream cheese frosting except I cut back a bit on the powdered sugar and added a couple of tablespoons of strawberry jam.  I eyeballed it really.

So these are some of the lessons learned while making my daughter's doll cake.  I gave myself a few gray hairs that day but it was all my fault for not allowing myself a practice round.  I learned the hard way.  But you know what?  I was actually impressed for pulling it off and our guests were impressed too.  Receiving compliments from our family and friends was very nice to hear but most of all my baby girl was happy with her cake and that is what matters.  Right?  Oh why didn't I take more pictures?  Grrrrrrr.

Monday, March 18, 2013

My Attempt At A Barbie Doll Cake

Hola lovely people.  Today I am home unexpectedly because although my baby girl's dental appointment went well; she herself isn't feeling her normal pinkalicious self.  We are self-proclaimed pinkalicious gals. :)

So how about I tell you about my darling daughter's birthday cake while she naps?  She turned the big girl five over a month ago and she demanded requested that I make her a Barbie doll birthday cake.  She came across this YouTube video last summer (she likes to watch baking videos like mommy) and decided right then and there that the doll cake was going to be her next birthday cake.  So I watched the video more than a few times and paid close attention.  I told myself to practice but noooooo I was too busy to do that so my first and only attempt it was for her birthday.  I'm a dodo bird.

I'm a dodo bird for not practicing and for not taking many pictures of the cake. This is the most decent one I have taken by my aunt.

Pink Texas Chick

How obvi is it that this was done by no Cake Boss? Lucky for me that my precious girl did not care.  Ignorance is bliss.  I pretty followed the directions given in the video but I made the cakes and frosting from scratch.  I'll provide the recipes on my next post along with other details.  Here is how I made the Barbie doll cake.

I baked three 8 inch round cakes and one cake in a large Pampered Chef mixing bowl.   The PC bowl was used to help form the dress part of the cake.  I used a very small Tupperware container to score the center of each cake to make a cut-out.  (Didn't have a biscuit cutter)

Oh did you notice that the pics above show this cake did not bake all the way through?  The two pictures above and the one below is of the cake I baked in the Pampered Chef bowl.  For some crazy reason it did not bake all the way and it was the outside that was not fully baked.  Crazy!

Grrr! I had no time to bake another one in the large bowl so I whipped up some cupcakes since this part of the cake could not be eaten; but I still needed this "dress" part of the cake to construct the doll cake.  Mama had to think quick on her feet and march on, folks.

So again each cake had the center cut out to make room for Barbie once she was inserted through each layer.  I first stacked the three 8 inch cakes frosting each layer.  I then stacked the not fully baked dress part of the cake on top of those three cakes and began to frost it as well.  Again, although it was not fully baked I needed it to complete the look, if you will.  

Those are strips of wax paper that you see at the very bottom of the cake.  The strips make frosting a cake much easier that way there is no mess on your presentation board.  You remove the strips once you are all done frosting and voila it looks purdy!  This tip is in the video but I already knew this one.  :)

Now I have no pictures of this step but I after I finished frosting the cake I used a strip of regular paper (like for your printer) to smooth the frosting.  I cupped the cake with the paper and smoothed it going upwards.  Then I used my small off-set spatula to make these swirly things for the dress.  Cause you know I was running out of time and I'm not trained with any fancy decorating skills.

Next I inserted my already Saran wrapped Barbie into the stack of cakes.  I wrapped the doll from the chest down in plastic wrap.  Her big birthing hips almost didn't fit in the cake.  Whew!

Once I got Barbs in I frosted her torso and tried to make it a little fancy. Tried.  You can still see part of the cake through the frosting but I gave it my best shot, right?

See the emergency cupcakes in the back?  Thank goodness my Mama bought me two of those 24 cupcake pans.  Yes, I made forty-eight cupcakes on top of the the Barbie cake I made.  We always have lots of guests.  It's a um, Hispanic thing.  :)

So here is my masterpiece again.  Well according to my daughter anyway.  Oh and I used the tiniest hair clips to hold up Barbie's hair and used of the many doll tiaras in my daughter's collection.  And of course it was all pink.  Pink is our signature color.  Yes, Pepto-Bismol threw up at my wedding and continues to do so in my life.  :)

Pink Texas Chick

Friday, March 1, 2013

Simple Scarf Organization {DIY}

Happy first day of March people!  Can I tell you that I have been through lots of stress these past two weeks?  Ay, ya yay I tell you.  Anywho, on to why we're here.  I moved my scarfs from my coat closet to my master closet.  I got the idea from the Lowe's Facebook page and right away I knew this was going to work better for me and would not frustrate me (I hope).

Here is what I put together on the inside of my closet door spending only a few dollars.

First let me tell you that I don't have many scarves.  I have about eight or nine total but I loooove them.  After this project I am "remembering" to look out for some pretty spring and summer scarves.  I am also not one that hangs up her scarves in a pretty knot like how they are displayed at the stores.  I gotta be real, y'all, this method is faster and easier for me.  And when I'm ready to wear one I just grab it and slip it out of the ring.  When I'm done I fold the scarf in half and loop it through the ring.  Easy, right?

Here's the breakdown of my simple little project. I used a pant hanger that had broken clips and I asked my husband to remove the clips.  He was happy to play with one of his tools.  Giddy like a kid that just received a surprise ice cream treat.  He used his Dremmel tool to remove them and had lots of fun doing it.  Boys and their toys.  :)

While he did that I cleaned the entire closet door with a Mr. Clean eraser.  Next I used the hanger to determine where I wanted to hang it on the door.  No measuring tape needed for this, I just eyeballed it.  After I picked my spot, I cleaned it with rubbing alcohol (for the Command hook) and then I marked the spot with a pen for better guidance.

Next I slapped one of these Command hooks and waited an hour as instructed by the package directions.

Let's pretend we're waiting hour and have a look at where I had my scarves before this mini project.

I had the scarves in between coats and jackets.  (Same closet that houses the ball caps) Not only that but they were on an Ikea scarf holder that I liked at first and then not so much.  You see I was not able to slide the scarves out or back in when I was putting one up.  And since the scarf holder was made of some kind of rope-like texture, there was too much friction when grabbing a scarf.  It wasn't working out for me so I got to work not long after getting the idea from Lowe's.

Okay so after I waited an hour for the Command hook to set I hung the pant hanger minus the broken clips, and inserted some shower curtain rings that I bought a Wal-Mart.  

Now here is quick transformation in fast forward.  :)

For NOW this is the final project.  I still have room for another hanger below this one but I am testing it out.  I like it and it is a great use of space but I want to be completely sure that I want to keep it this way.  And as you can see I only have six scarves here so there are a couple left.  That's okay because so far I'm liking this new set up so I'm guessing that there will be a new set up in the near future and maybe a few new scarves too.  And thank you Lowe's for the idea!  You like?