Cake Balls

I post about food, no way, go figure me love food and talking about it.  Never would have guessed right?
Its that time of year for baby and bridal showers.  I posted a few tutorials for easy pomanders and garland but I forgot to talk about the food!!!

I first saw the idea and great instructions for cake balls here, at the Bakerella blog.  I even borrowed a friends copy of her book.  She does some of the most adorable things with cake decorations and some melted chocolate. Her blog is delightful and I highly recommended sending a “click” her way.  I was inspired and decided to try some of my own.
 So the first questions I had to get figured out is what exactly is a cake ball?  Its cake that has been mixed with icing rolled into a ball and then dipped in melted chocolate. Um yes please!

 I used strawberry cake and a store bought cream cheese icing. I baked the cake per the package instructions, let it cool slightly and then using my hands crumbled it thoroughly.  While the crumbs were still slightly warm I mushed together not quite the whole container of icing with the crumbs.  You don’t need to exactly measure the icing just go until its moist and will roll into a ball.  Then roll the mixture into balls about the size of a walnut and chill overnight in the fridge. 

The next day (working in batches from the fridge) I dipped them in melted white chocolate and green chocolate.  Both colors are vanilla flavored.  Then topped them with pink and green sugar pearls to match the brides color.  After they set up I put them in mini cupcake papers and  stored them at room temperature in an air tight container.  The cupcake papers hid my poor dipping skills quite well.

I have to say they were good the day I made them, but tasted better the next day for the shower and were still moist a few days later.  I honestly couldn’t tell you how long they would have made it a room temp because they didn’t last that long.

Compost Tumbler – A Honey Do Tutorial

Here is a little something to add to your honey do list. My friend Mark built this for his own compost needs.  I love how simple and ingenious it is so I asked him to share about it and how he put it together.  Enjoy!


 As more and more people turn to organic gardening for its obvious health and environmental benefits, it’s inevitable that composting will continue to be a mainstay of the home gardener.
Composting in bin or pile can take months—and that’s assuming all the variables are just right and the pile is “turned” regularly with a pitchfork or shovel.  Using a tumbler can speed the process and, at the same time, make it much easier to maintain with minimal effort.
            The whole premise behind using a compost tumbler is to easily turn the materials.  This keeps fresh oxygen supplied to the microbes so they can do their job with maximum efficiency.  At the same time, it also allows for better control of the moisture content, which is tremendously important.  If the compost is too dry or too wet, the breakdown of the organic materials will be delayed.
Plastic and resin tumblers can be purchased for around $100-$150 but, with basic materials and tools, can be built at home for a fraction of that.  In simplest terms, all that’s required is a barrel (open head is preferred for removal of the compost) and a cradle.  The door is made by cutting out a section and bolting it back in with some hinges and uses a latch to keep it closed.  Four casters are bolted to the wooden frame to create the cradle.  Even when filled to just over half way with material, your new tumbler is easily rotate by hand.



Quick Baby “Quilt”

I was looking for a quick easy baby gift for my girlfriend’s twins.    I really wanted to make an adorable quilt.   However, I wasn’t sure I had the time or could stay focused long enough to piece together two quilts.  I decided to make what I call a cheat sheet quilt.  Simple, quick and light weight for the coming season.  I am in no way some great quilter but here is what I did. 
1 yd of flannel or cotton
1 yd of minky
2 packages (6yds total) of quilt binding.  If you opt to make your own you wont need quite that much, so be sure to calculate it first.
miscellaneous sewing supplies
Prewash all your fabrics and square up the flannel.  On a flat surface lay the minky right side down, smooth and secure with tape if you wish.    Place the flannel on top right side up.   Smooth the layers of your fabric sandwich to eliminate any wrinkles or pucker spots.    Starting in the middle of your fabric sandwich, pin the layers together with large safety pins.  Move out in a radial pattern smoothing as you go. 

Trim the minky to the size of the flannel, I prefer to leave it a little bigger and trim a second time before binding but that’s up to you.  At this point you should have the minky and flannel pinned wrongs sides together. 
  Time to move on to the sewing!  This is where the pattern on the flannel can make a difference.  Using the pattern as a guide sew the two pieces together giving it a “quilted” look.  Alternately, you can just wing it stitching ever six inches or so if the pattern is more abstract.  Completely “quilt” the layers together.  
Next is the binding.  Using a rotary cutter trim all sides of the quilt to be neat and even.  Everyone has a different preference for this and I have tried a few different ways myself.  However here are two great tutorials, one for hand quilting and one for machine quilting. Both of these great tuts can be found on Diary of a Quilter’s blog.  I choose to machine bind mine, I have included a photo of the binding being attached to the back and completing it on the front.  I didn’t dare show my corners.  Note my seams are very generous, makes it easier to work with when you aren’t an expert.  🙂  Also pardon the color change, the little boy quilt needed some face time too. 
attaching binding to the back
attaching binding to the front!
Bind the quilt in your chosen fashion and your done.  It takes about three hours depending on how much time you play in your fabric stash.  Enjoy!  

I Do Declare

Oh I do declare I have the vapors, bring me a mint julep.   I guess my idea of a southern porch is a bit different.    Last summer my front porch was a fine shady spot with two rocking chairs plopped in a jungle of over grown house plants.  As pleased as I was with its simplicity I can’t help but day dream about a brightly colored space, something more than just two white rocking chairs and a few boston ferns.  So here is my “virtual shopping spree”.   (be patient I couldn’t figure out how to imbed the links into the pictures)
I’m like the look of dark furniture contrasted by bright pillows, rounded out with a few simple accessories.  

Sometimes I prefer to be a loaner and curl up with a good book, for that I chose a softly colored blue chair and ottoman.  Then again, we all like to be the life of the party sometimes.  Lots of my friends will fit on this sofa with green squishy pillows.   I still want more color so its deep dark teal pillows and a wild tropical whimsical print.   What proper southern lady would be left without a tall glass of sweet tea,  I intent to set mine on this bright green side table.  
I have been on a bird kick lately so I know these planters are perfect, and even a little matching candle.  Of course I cant go wrong with basic white.  I like the simple round shape.   I would fill them with herbs and perhaps bright orange nasturtiums.  Next,  a simple table to round them all up and keep them from getting knocked over by the dog.  She sees a squirrel and all bets are off.   Finally, a few creature comforts.   As long as it has food in it the birds wouldn’t care, but isn’t this bird feeder cute with its little windows and ‘70s avocado green.  Lastly, as summer gets here I’m going to need a fan.  I like that this one is portable so I can move it around on the porch.  Well that’s my “virtual shopping spree”  What’s your dreamy outside space like and can I come over.  I’ll bring sweet tea.

Guest Blog

Well spring seems to be coming early this year.  So early in fact we have gone on a motorcycle without having to bundle up like an Eskimo going for no tan lines.   Which brings me to a very poor transition to my guest blog.  My husband has a blog that you can view here, but I love this one about the secret motorcycle handshake.  I hope you enjoy, or at the very least become empathetic to how randomly strange my life must be married to Tim. 

The bikers guide to the secret handshake.

Every society, weather it be secret or not, has a certain expected ritual in which individuals identify themselves with that particular society. In the office world, it has a form of “Casual Fridays”, In the Party School Fraternity, it looks more like a upside-down beer chugging contest. Whatever society you are a part of, there are rituals, regardless if you know it or not!

Bikers beware, what I am about to share has been passed down from generation to generation, unknowingly through time. It is a truth that will awaken the realization to others that bikers, although they work hard to communicate their solidarity, are actually one of “Them”… A part of the “In” crowd (please don’t egg my house or throw rotten fish at my windows, you know that its true).

Just like the frat boys of old, or the Illuminati… The secrets in the handshake (or beer guzzle if you prefer).

It begins at about 100 meters out, the recognition of another biker heading your way. Any further than 100 meters makes it more difficult to distinguish if it is a “True” motorcycle, or a set of motorized wheels that an 8 year old would get for Christmas, or a last attempt mode of transportation for someone who can’t keep a license if their liver depends on it (and in most cases it does).
At this point the handshake truly begins….

step 1. Recognition – I see them, do they see me?
step 2. Loyalty? – What kind of bike are they riding? Harley, Harley Wannabe, Crotch Rocket? and will they respond if I initiate?
step 3. Execute – The Most Vital of Steps!
step 4. The Return
step 5. The George Lucas!

Steps 1&2 are fairly self explanatory, yet critical to the “Brotherhood”. It’s not a pretty site when you let slip a brotherhood tradition, to someone who is driving a metal frame powered by a lawnmower!

Step 3 – The Most important, is the execution of the “Secret Handshake”.
The execution begins from the neck. As you are riding (regardless of what type of bike you may be on) at the point of execution the bottom of your chin should be parallel to the gas tank on which you sit. The neck should be limber, but still firm in that you don’t want a sudden gust of wind to ruin all that you are preparing for.

At this point, the chin should be lifted heavenward no more than 15-20 degrees at which point the chin should stop moving and begin its return to its resting place parallel to the tank. This movement should take precisely 1.5 seconds to complete from start to finish. Any faster, and you risk looking like you are having a spasm, any slower and the people driving next to you will begin looking for the piece of sky that is falling. This move should not exceed more than 15-20 degrees, any more than this and you risk whiplash, and a good sound laughing from your passing brother

This is the tricky part…. As soon as the chin has begun to move, the left arm should also move… out away from the body turning only at the shoulder, elbow locked in the same position as you were driving. The arm should move out so the left hand is facing the opposite street ready to greet the passing driver. Now not everyone sees the importance of the hand shape as I do. Let me explain.

Some bikers prefer to extend the first 2 fingers out as the “Peace” sign… This is perfectly acceptable, however discouraged by me because of its insinuation that you are a part of another crowd… the hippies.

Others see it as just sticking your hand out fully extended…. here’s the problem with that;
1. it looks like you are trying to fly– please, for the love of all that is holy… don’t flap
2. If your arm is raised too high, you can be mistaken for a white supremacist, or one of the Luftwaffe.

My preferred method is sort of a mixed approach – first two fingers go lazily out the other fingers stay in roughly the same shape as while riding. This speaks volumes… it says, Hey man, what’s happnin…. your cool, I’m cool — but not too cool, ya dig??

Now at this point you have completed the execution!

Step 4. The return. If you have judged carefully, and the other driver has seen you then as soon as your arm has been extended you should see the return “Handshake” from the other driver.

If there is no return, don’t worry… You may not have completely botched the execution…. It may be that the other driver has misjudged and assumed you wouldn’t “Shake” because of bike breed type, or other factor. However it may still be your fault so try every time you see another biker (of course there could be other environmental factors, wind, water, sun, etc.)

Step 5. The George Lucas, Affectionately called this, by me, based on his use of sunsets as a metaphor for change… At this stage of the “handshake” there is nothing left to do but to ride off into the sunset, hoping for another opportunity to prove your mettel in the brotherhood that is the biker!