Sunday, October 30, 2011

Yummy Little Graves

I love to bake.  And I used to bake all the time.  I am definitely a much better baker than a cook, probably because of the precision in baking.  I prefer exact measurements to adding ingredients to taste.  But within this past year I really haven't had the opportunity to do much baking until recently, and I didn't realize how much I really missed it.  The joy in creating something that tastes good enough to make someone smile is the part I think I look forward to the most.  But I've always just baked.  Not really decorated things.  My few attempts at decorating weren't awesome. 

So, ok, baking not decorating.  Well, I saw this cake in the October Country Living magazine and decided wanted to try something new.  And have a little fun.  :)

Country Living Halloween Cakes
I used to bake for my husband and his co-workers all the time but now I'm in a job where I can bake for my co-workers, so I thought this would be a fun opportunity to treat them instead.  Sorry sweetie.  So, I have a picture of this cute cake, but I'm more of a cupcake gal.  My head gears went to spinning, and this is what I came up with.  It's really the same idea as the cake, just in individual form. 

First, I whipped up some basic chocolate cupcakes.  I had thought black liners would be fitting, but I live in a small town with limited resources, and since this was kinda done on the fly, these pumpkin liners were it.  But they work.

Next, I mixed up a batch of my fav frosting recipe.  It's a concoction of my own that I love to use, but I've never made it chocolate before and....O. My.  It's gooooood.  So I have my chocolate frosting and my chocolate cupcakes.  I opted to spread the frosting rather than pipe in order to create a flatter surface.  But in hind sight, I might have liked piping better.  I didn't get as much frosting on the cupcakes as I would have piping it and I think they needed it since it was a denser cake.
I also made sure I would have a little bit of frosting left over to write on each tombstone.
Once all the little cakes were frosted, I took Oreos and pulverized them into crumbs.  Then each frosted cupcake was dipped into the dirt, because, you know, every spooky graveyard has to have dirt.  I also thought if I made the little piles of dirt like the cake, it would be much too messy.
Next, I took some oblong sandwich cookies and broke them in half.  Realizing I didn't have much frosting on the cakes to hold the cookie up, I stuck toothpicks in each broken half to help it stand on the cupcake. 

After I placed the remaining frosting in a piping bag, I piped RIP onto each cookie half.  Once they were all piped, I stuck them on each "grave."

Ok, I'm going to divert....just a little.  I really wanted the skeletons on my cakes, just like on the big cake.  But again, I had limited resources.  I was hoping to at least find those really cheap, flat, neon-colored skeletons, because, while they wouldn't be like the CL cake, at least I would have skeletons.  So I went to our local blue box store thinking surely they'll have something.  Nada.  Zip.  Ugh. 
So I thought, well, white chocolate covered pretzels could work for skeletons and at least they would be edible.  Nope.  None of those either.  Really?!  At that point I felt defeated because that really was my only option.  Or so I thought.  I had also wanted those pumpkins that are like candy corn, but couldn't find them either.  I had to settle for these marshmallows that were shaped like pumpkins, ghosts and moons. 
So I leave with my marshmallow purchase, and on the verge of thinking these are not going to turn out cute at all, my nearly burnt-out light bulb lights up again.  We also have a dollar store.  Maybe, just maybe, they might have something.  So I went, I looked, was about to leave empty handed, when a wee little voice told me to look one more time.  Man am I grateful for those inner voices!  Yeah, that's right.  Voices, ha ha!  Much to my excitement, I find these. 

I scooped them up, brought them home, and broke them apart.  I ended up only using the skulls, arms and legs, but it would have been cool to have bones all over the cakes.  Maybe next time.....

So I have my "graves" with the "headstones," I just needed the bodies.  After strategically placing each bone and marshmallow, I had a yummy little graveyard.

Here they are.  Ready to make smiles.  And boy did we need them.  That day at work ended up being a doozy.

Hope they made you smile.
Happy Halloween!

P.S.  My hubby did end up taking a few to work.  So he wasn't completely left out.  ;)

Ta ta for now....

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Old House {Part 1: Intro}

As I mentioned before, my husband and I are redoing a house -- to live in.  And, as I also mentioned before, it's sorta a dream come true.  When I first discovered design and architecture, I was immediately drawn to residential design...and then I discovered historical architecture and I was hooked.  My mom took me to San Antonio for my 16th birthday and we toured several homes in the King William Historic District -- which was amazing!  And seeing how their owners had lovingly (and I'm sure painstakingly) restored these precious pieces of history, I wanted mine.  There's just something about the functionality of the designs and the amazing attention to detail in everything that I love.  So, from that moment on, I wanted to restore/fix-up an old home. 

I envisioned something like this:

Or maybe this in the country:

Or this would be awesome:

But, in my wishing for an old house, I never specified a type or age.  I just wanted an "old house" to fix up and call my own.  And even though what may be considered "old" is debatable in the design world, the little house I am breathing new life into would probably be considered old.  And so, I got the old house I'd wished for.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not bitter.  It was probably a good place to start in case I ever do get my craftsman, farmhouse or plantation home.  Just not exactly what I had in mind.  Until now.  Anyhoo...

My little '50's ranch house is...well, little.  I haven't figured it yet, but I'm guessing somewhere around 1100 sq. ft.  Maybe closer to 1000.  It has a cute little kitchen, tiny dining room, large living area, two generous-sized bedrooms with very generous-sized closets for that time period and one good-sized bathroom.  That's it.

Now when I say ranch house, I don't mean that awesome mid-century design style:

If only.

No, it's a ranch house because it's a house on what was a very large working ranch.  It was built by the owner (with much input from his wife, which is probably why it has awesome closets) for his hands to live in while they worked.  It was built for function.  It didn't need a lot of extras.  And to be honest, that's one of the things that drew my husband and me to it.  After everything we've been through, we were ready to simplify.  And in doing so, we gave up a lot of luxuries that we once thought we probably could never live without:  a dishwasher, a bathtub, a room for every function.  But for us, we've discovered it's not really as bad as you might think.  It doesn't take too long to wash dishes at the end of the day, and if I want a bath, I can just use the cattle trough.  JUST KIDDING!!  I'd probably just go down to the river.  ;)

So that's my new little humble abode, in a nutshell.  And while it might not sound like much, it's home, and I love it.  I haven't decided what room I want to feature first, but look for that entry soon.  We are finally getting stuff on walls and making this our home.  And I will say this -- it probably won't be complete.  I have lots of ideas that I know I can't get done now but I can't wait to reveal the transformation.  So, please forgive my work-in-progress.

Ta ta for now...

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