Threads of the Pattern

This coffee cake is not my recipe. In fact, it’s the first coffee cake I’ve ever made. I got the recipe from a fabulous blog I love, called Diamonds For Dessert. Seriously, if you love to bake, you need to follow Susan. And I’m not just saying that because she also loves Ender’s Game and Back to the Future.

It’s just good stuff.

I made a red velvet/cream cheese frosting cake for a friend’s low-key wedding a few days before this. So I had a ton of strawberries and cream cheese left, because I can’t seem to stop myself from buying everything on the shelves for whatever it is I need to bake. I guess I’ve not gotten enough a few too many times.  Don’t ask how many boxes of light brown sugar I have. I think it would give you diabetes just looking at it.

First, you mix up your crumb topping. I’ve done this before; I love crumb topping. It makes me happy just to see pictures of crumb topping!

Then you mix together all the rest of your ingredients in that way that you do when you’re baking. (Wet together first, then add the dry to the wet.) I’m not going into too much detail, because it’s not my recipe. Also, look at my lovely Sunbeam Mixmaster. That poor thing. I think if you look closely enough you can see the smoke coming out of the vent from the severe overuse I put it through. I’ve had it for about 10 years, but if mixers could talk, he’d say he felt 90, I’m sure. (Yes, he, for the same reason that ships are male. ) Allow me to quote obnoxiously for a moment:

“A ship is alive, and he is like a man, with a true man’s heart. Treat him well and care for him properly, and he will fight for you against the worst sea. He will fight to keep you alive even after the sea has long since given him his deathstroke. Neglect him, though, ignore the small warnings he gives of danger, and he will drown you in a flat sea beneath a cloudless sky.”  Jorin din Jubai White Wing, pg 296, The Shadow Rising, Robert Jordan.

Ahem.

So once you have your batter mixed, put half of it in the bottom of your greased pan and slather it with jam. Not only is it tasty, but it’s fun to say slather. Then line up your strawberries in a covering layer. Then put the rest of your batter on top of that and smoosh it around until it covers all the strawberries. The directions say you can use a spatula or your fingers, but trust me on this and just skip the spatula.

Yummy crumb topping is next! Bake it all up and you get a lovely, light and fluffy cake that is absolutely scrumptious. Since I had more leftover strawberries (seriously, guys and gals, I have a PROBLEM.), I put two little slices on each square. This thing held up surprisingly well to sitting out on my butcher block, traveling in the car in plastic baggies and being passed around to various people!

Things I learned:

1. Coffee cake does not have coffee in it. I really thought that! It’s the sole reason why I have never even looked at a coffee cake recipe until now!

2. I should possibly not type blog posts when I’m sleepy. I get a little silly.

3. The picture below is while making the red velvet cake. There is a very good reason why I only do my baking when my husband is not at home:

~Rosie

(Apologies for not posting on Wednesday, WordPress was giving me a little trouble.)

 

Teddy is a very simple cat. She’s 17 years old, and has long since figured out what she does and does not like. Mostly this includes sleeping, preferably in the nearest warm lap. When she does want to play, she likes things that move outside of her actions. Things on strings are great, and she has a couple of toys that are bouncy so when she’s hits them they go crazy. She doesn’t like things that make noise, or are made of hard plastic.
She also loves these little knit pillows that my MIL made for her. It’s adorable the way she just wants to be around, so she rests her little elbows on the pillow and crosses her paws. Old cat needs her comforts. 😀

So, I didn’t have much in the way of organizing to do, but there’s always something!

 

The steps were the same this week as previously: get everything together in one spot, sort, get rid of stuff (in this case, a couple of toys that she doesn’t play with anymore and some expired meds), and then figure out how best to put it back.  Once again, I’m following along with Home Storage Solutions 101, and each week there is a new area to organize as part of their 52 week challenge. You can jump in any time. I’m on my third week, but they’re more than halfway through.

 
We already had baskets for her things. One is a vase that came with a bamboo plant. (It died. Of all the things I inherited from my mother’s side of the family, I’d trade in the hips for my grandmother’s green thumb in a heartbeat. I’m telling you, the woman had only to look at a plant and it would grow. I think she had magic beans or something.) We keep it at floor level so Teddy Bear can reach in and grab a toy out if she wants. 

 

 
The other basket is for her meds: flea and arthritis. Plus her combs and brushes and that harness I had really hoped she’d like so I could take her for walks. Amazing how cats don’t like to be walked. I thought she’d just love being outside again! We had been keeping this basket under the sink in our half bath downstairs, but that has been proving to be more and more inconvenient, so I took this opportunity to move it into the master bath, where we moved all the rest of her stuff anyway. We’ve tried to make it so she doesn’t have to jump or use stairs to get to anything, so she only does those things if she -wants- to.

I love my kitten. She’s totally worth the five minutes this reorganize took!

 

 

~Rosie

 

Yesterday, I saw a recipe on Pinterest for making a breakfast muffin in a coffee cup in the microwave. I thought it was a great idea and decided to try it.

Well, not everything you find on the internet (no not even on Pinterest) is the most awesome thing, shall we say?

 

So I went hunting for a more enjoyable recipe, and ended up on Midwestern Moms.


I modified the recipe a bit. I used twice as much melted butter as oil. In place of the flour, salt and baking powder, I used self rising flour, because I rarely have need of it, and wanted to use it up.

 

This version takes a little longer in the microwave (in mine, it was 4minutes) than most of the other recipes, but it’s totally worth it. As a side note, taking pictures of something cooking inside a microwave is way more difficult than I thought it would be.  I didn’t actually count the number of pictures I took, but I feel instinctively sure that it was 3, 121. So, please ignore the door grate and just look at how far the batter rose in the cup while it was cooking.

They don’t really have the taste or texture of an oven baked muffin, but they are perfect for breakfast because what they do taste and feel like, are really good pancakes.

Next time, I’ll try topping them with a little maple syrup.

 

Things I learned:

  1. Don’t fill the cup more than halfway, or it will rise up too much out of the cup, and spill over. Worse, it won’t cook all the way through.
  2. Use multiple cups. I used the same one three times, and the cup got too hot to touch after the second time through the microwave.
  3. I still have the urge to count like The Count sometimes. Three! Three microwave blueberry muffins! Ah!Ah!Ah!

Microwave Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients

1/2 c Self-Rising Flour
2 1/2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Egg
4 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp Milk
Small dash of Vanilla
4-6 oz container of yogurt (vanilla or flavor to match your fruit)
Fruit of your choice (I used blueberries,  with blueberry yogurt)

Mix everything except the fruit together in a bowl, or my preference of very large measuring cup. (It has a pour spout and handle!) Fold in fruit.

Fill your coffee cup(s) of choice about halfway. Place in microwave and heat for 3-4 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center does out clean of batter.

Top with syrup and eat right out of the cup, or swirl a fork around the side of the cup and turn out on to a plate.

Enjoy!

 

~ Rosie

I didn’t mention it last week when I posted about fixing up my craft room, but I started following this blog on organizing your home. The site has a 52 week challenge, but you don’t have to start it in January, you can jump in any time. Many thanks to Taylor at Home Storage Solutions 101 for hosting the challenge.

Well, it so happens that last week was organizing your crafting space, which I took as a sign that I should stick with this plan for a while and see where it takes me.

This week’s challenge (they’re posted on Mondays) is organizing the car. Admittedly, I don’t have much in my car right now, since it’s not running, but there was still some unnecessary clutter. By which, I of course mean books.
So, I followed the steps. Pull everything out, sort and decide what goes back, what gets thrown away, and what just needs to go elsewhere.

Now in my glove box, all I have are the car manual and other paperwork, and some napkins. I have a trash bag that’s tucked into the storage pocket in the backseat, and some wet wipes up under the dash in a weird space that you can barely see. I’m not sure why they built it this way, to be honest.

Anyway. I had this jar lying around, and it fits perfectly in the cup holder, so I decided to put it there and use it for loose change. In my center console, I have all my chargers and other car cords.

Everything else is in a plastic tub in the trunk. It’s not the most crafty way to store all my car supplies, extra hair and tooth brushes, puzzle book, CD player and sewing kit, but it does its job. Everything that’s not the tote in the left hand corner is what’s going into the house to be put away.

After a quick vacuum and wipe down, it looks so much nicer!
Things I learned:

1. I think I’m already finding that the steps to organizing anything are basically the same.

2. Some of these weekly challenges are going to be easier than others. My craft room took 7 days. This took me 20 minutes.

Next week, it looks like we’re tackling pet supplies. I’m sure Teddy Bear will be thrilled.

~ Rosie

p. s. Since someone may ask, the origami peacock was made by a former coworker of mine who has since passed away. It moves around my car as the whim takes me.

Have we mentioned that my niece just recently turned one? With an awesome cake?

For her birthday, along with her fantabulous dress, I decided she needed decorations. Man, if I was this craftily motivated when my own kids were babies, we would have had some awesome parties! But I wasn’t…so for Bug’s birthday, we bought a pop-up, and I decided to decorate everything with ladybugs.

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To Make:

Red and Black Construction Paper

Black Pipe Cleaners

Scissors

Glue

Two Circular items to trace in different sizes (I used a Tupperware lid and a quarter)

First I used the Tupperware lid to trace a bunch of ladybug bodies (black) and wings (red). You could use just about anything, depending upon the size of ladybugs you want. I chose a lid about 12 inches in diameter, because I was planning to stick the ladybugs up all around the yard, popup and pool. (That’s so not what happened, but I’ll get to that in a minute)

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After cutting enough black circles to make any sober person want to drink, I then traced a cutout on the red construction paper that I thought mimicked ladybug wings. I know, I know…bad directions! But really, it was 10 o’clock at night, we were watching a movie and I was just *cough* winging it…

We gathered up all the red paper and used the first as a guide to make them all match, more or less. Then as I glued the red shapes onto the black, my sister used the quarter to trace about a thousand small circles onto the leftover black construction paper. And then I made her cut them out…cause…I’m a crafting dictator sometimes!

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While she was cutting teeny tiny circles, I took the pipe cleaners, folded them in half and taped them to the back of the black circles. Then I curled the ends very cunningly with my fingers.

We glued the smaller circles all willy-nilly on the red and ta-da! Ladybugs for Bug’s Birthday.

Remember earlier? About my awesome plan to ladybug the entire property? Yeah…I didn’t account for the horrific wind tunnel that surrounds my house. Ladybugs were flying everywhere that day!  Unfortunately, we had to be content with lady bugging the inside of the popup…and it ended up being pretty awesome!

Of course, she was only turning one, so she was pretty content with trying to eat the ladybug antennae as we were trying to put them up, but I’ll take that as a win! After the party, we took them all down and I carefully preserved them for a future project. I have no idea what said project might be…but they were just too rad to throw away.

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Things I learned:

  1. I don’t always need a rock solid plan. Funnily enough, sometimes the best looking projects come from flying by the seat of my pants!
  2. Don’t let Sissy cut out ladybug spots. Some of those spots became squares and blobs!

Sometimes things happen outside of the plan. What projects have you put together at the last minute? How did they turn out?

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As you know, our extended family celebrated a first birthday! The theme of the day was ladybugs, so as the resident baker, I scoured the internet for examples of lady bug cakes, and stole profligately from all of them. I’m not an expert, so I tend to look for something that has elements that I’ve done before, and at least one element that I’ve not done.

I decided on the design. A three tier cake, enough to feed 25ish people generous portions (not wedding cake portions, which people seem to hate), with both chocolate and vanilla for flavors, and a top tier for the little one to make a complete disaster out of. enjoy in a reasonable and polite manner that her mother would absolutely not have to clean up all by herself.

I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning the night before to get the decorations done. I rolled little fondant balls and flattened them, then painted them with edible black paint. It’s made with corn syrup, and apparently such a small amount of sugar was enough that the kids decided that fondant is delicious.

I really thought these little ladybugs would only take an hour or two, tops, but it ended up taking five hours, including the ribbons, which were red and black fondant. I used cutters for the shapes. The ribbons really took no time at all.

Everything was assembled the next day at the party. I only have the one size pan, so I had to get creative with it. I cut down the top 8” tier to be a 4” by cutting around the outside. I then stuck that all around the outside of the bottom 8” tier to make it a 10” tier. Amazingly, I even had some left over.

Things I learned:

  1. Really fresh fondant makes a huge difference. I hate thick layers of fondant, and I was able to get this batch pretty thin. I could feel the difference as soon as I touched it.
  1. Structure is key in tiered cakes, as you can see. It was so hot that day that the buttercream was melting and pulling the cake down with it. We literally had to finish it and immediately serve it.

 

What I want to try next time:

Structure. I’ve looked up some information on stacking tiered cakes. Any suggestions?

I wanted to use some kind of nerdy “Space: The Final Frontier” for this post, which actually would have been TOTALLY APPROPRIATE, but as usual, Ayshia and I are in the same brain, so you get ‘The Sound of Music” instead of ‘Star Trek’.

Let me start by saying, I really hate to clean. Most of the time, my mind pretends that everything is clean, always, everywhere.  My friends love this about me. Fortunately, my husband is far more willing to show me the reality of the situation.

We’ve had this ongoing discussion about whether or not my crafting space was organized or that crazy thing called clean. We bought our house, and intended to finish the basement and give me all the space down there that was not being taken up by washers and furnaces and spiders, and other basement type stuff.

Ayshia threatened to disown me, if I recall correctly, but she got over it.

“Temporarily”, I am in the third bedroom, which is the smallest, and was formerly a nursery for the previous owners. I share it with the guest bed. Teddy Bear thinks it’s hers, and we’ve never told her otherwise because she diffuses sternness with cuddles.

I also have to house my computer desk, a single (wha?) bookshelf, and all my crafting supplies. It finally got to me. I had to admit that no, I did not have a handle on my ‘organized chaos’; it was in fact, a complete and utter disaster.

So, I broke down and did that thing that most women fear to do: I asked my mother-in-law for help. I will immediately follow this by saying that I lucked out in the MiL department, and this wasn’t really a hardship at all. Especially since she literally wrote the book on organizing your crap. I don’t think that’s what she called it.

 

After much discussion, and a trip to a costume museum (I mentioned I lucked out, right?), I came home with a game plan. A whole flaming week later, It was finally complete.

So, the boring stuff. I pulled everything that wasn’t a container out of the room, and organized it as I went. I had purchased some cheap-o laundry baskets at the dollar store, and used those as temporary storage for the sorting process. I culled some stuff for goodwill/Ayshia/trash. This still took up the entire hallway, part of my husband’s office, and our bedroom. Dear husband even donated his own laundry basket to the cause, which I think he regretted about five minutes later.

I then cleaned and rearranged all my empty containers, and tried to figure out a better way of doing things. I wanted more floor space. I didn’t want to feel so crowded, and I wanted to feel like I was getting the most out of the space that I had.

Then I took some sticky notes and wrote on them what I thought would go in each drawer and put them ON THE DRAWER. This was a novel concept for me. I’m usually more of a “Oh, I know where it is!” kind of gal. Then I have to look through five drawers before realizing I have no idea what was going through my mind when I originally put it away.

Putting things back, I culled even more. I stopped at the thrift store and found some old candle holders to put colored pencils and markers and such in. I spent all of $10 on this reorganization, including the laundry baskets.

In the end, I got pretty much everything back into the room. Even my husband was impressed! Eventually, I’ll have pretty labels on all the drawers. I’ve been toying with the idea of chalkboard paint on cardstock or scrapbooking paper.

Things I learned:

 

  1. I do not HAVE to have all the things within arm’s reach all the time.
  2. My thought processes change with time. Label things, woman!
  3. Everything takes longer than I think it’s going to.
  4. I really don’t have to keep everything ‘just in case’.

Oh, hi. I’m Rosie. 😀


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