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Disclaimer – I forgot to take a picture of the cake after we cut it! ARGH!  It was beautiful, though, with lots of delicious layers!

I made my own birthday cake this year! Several years ago we had an ice cream cake from Marble Slab Creamery for my birthday and it was delicous.  My favorite flavor of theirs is sweet cream so we had a sweet cream and raspberry cake made.  Even my picky family raved about that cake.   I have been thinking about the cake lately, so I decided that I would try to make one for myself.  I used a recipe from Food Network for a guide, changing it just a little.

Here are most of the ingredients I used.  Vanilla ice cream, chocolate cake, chocolate sandwich cookies, magic shell, raspberries and whipped cream.  I didn’t even use the chocolate ice cream.  My husband and I ate that after the cake was gone.  Shame, shame on us!

The first thing I did was make a chocolate cake using a cake mix.  I followed the directions on the package, except I used leftover coffee instead of water.  I think it adds a little deeper flavor.  I made the cake in a round cake pan.  It needs to be set aside to COMPLETELY COOL! If you try to put the ice cream cake together without cooling the cake you will be in trouble!

While the cake cooled, I crunched up the cookies.  A big plastic ziploc bag and a rolling pin work great for this step.

When the cake has completely cooled you can assemble the ice cream cake.  Also, you will need a springform pan.  I guess you could make it in a different pan, but the springform worked so well for getting the cake out when it was totally frozen.   First mix about half of the cookie crumbles with about half of the chocolate shell.  Stir it around until its mixed in together.  Now is a good time to use the spoon or fork to crunch up the cookies more if you have big chunks of cookies.

The magic shell stuff is very liquidy! I didn’t expect that and I did make a mess of it when I poured it into my crumbs.  Woops!   The step is making the bottom layer which is the r/shell crust.   Press the moistened crumbs into the springform pan.  Make sure you press them tightly to get a good base for the rest of your cake.

The next thing I did was put some frozen raspberries on the cookie crumb layer.  I did quite a few because I love the floral flavor of raspberries!  I think this cake would be much too sweet if you didn’t have a nice tartness from some form of fruit.

Then, it was time for the first layer of ice cream.   The ice cream will be much easier to spread if it’s thawed out quite a bit.   I found that it worked well to put big dollops onto the cake and then spread them all around.  Really pack it down.  The flatter you can get it the better, in my opinion.

After this, it was time to put the cake into the freezer and let it freeze up for a while.   I made sure to cover it with plastic wrap so that it wouldn’t absorb any funky freezer smells. At this point, I went out to meet one of my best friends for lunch.  We had fried green beans at one of my favorite places.  I LOVE friend green beans!

Later, after I had returned from lunch, I finished the assembly part of the cake.  I pulled it out of the freezer and put the chocolate cake I had made earlier on top of the ice cream layer.   I had to cut my cake layer in half because it would have been too thick otherwise. It’s okay if it looks crooked and uneven. You’re going to cover it up anyway.

I really had to smash the cake down to make sure that I would have room for more layers.  Next, I added another layer of cookie crumbs and chocolate shell. Just mix up the rest of your shell and crumbs and then smash it down on top of the cake.  I followed that with more raspberries.

Finally, another ice cream layer.  See how I totally ran out of room on the top?  So many layers of goodness!  More plastic wrap and then it’s back into the freezer.  I would let it freeze for at least two to three hours.  Overnight would probably be best.  Don’t be like me, and try to make it on the same day you are serving it!  Too stressful!

After it has frozen together well and at least two hours or so before you need to serve it, you can make your whipped cream frosting.  I used about half of a large cream container and whipped it up with the hand beater.  It made plenty of whipped cream.  Oh yes, I also sweetened the cream with a little splenda because I didn’t have any sugar.  I popped the cake out of the springform pan and spread the whipped cream all over the sides and top, smoothing it as much as I could.  Then, I used a large bag with a hole cut on one side to pip large dollops around the top.

The final touch was adding some colorful sprinkles.  Then, I popped the cake back into the freezer to allow the cream to set for about fifteen or twenty minutes.  When the cream was hard, I draped the cake in plastic wrap and put it back into the freezer for about an hour or two.

This was right before we cut into it.  My family really enjoyed it.  It was really sweet and over the top!  This is one of those recipes that you could make so interesting by changing up the cake, cookies and ice cream.  I’m thinking a peanut butter, chocolate, devil’s food combo would be awesome. You could chop up peanut butter cup candies and make a crust with Nutter Butters or pretzels.  Yum!

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Every few months or so the husband and I get down on ourselves and decide that we need to buckle down with our finances.  To be honest with you, we are very blessed and have so much to be thankful for.  We try to live not just below our means, but well below our means.  We started listening to Dave Ramsey shortly after we got married and we have made every effort to follow his sound financial advice.   As he says, it’s nothing complicated, just advice that your grandma would give you.

This doesn’t mean that we are perfect, though.  We are far from it.   We both like to shop and we both like nice things.  We love to eat out, drink fancy coffee and download lots of ninety-nine cent songs.  Oh, and we really love our smart phones and hi-tech gaming systems.

I’m sure most everyone has noticed that their grocery bills have creeped up recently.  I have definitely noticed that I am spending more and more at Wal-Mart every week.   Yesterday, one of my Facebook friends posted a picture of a bunch of items that she got from Walgreens for what seemed like a low price.  I decided to check out my circulars from the Sunday newspaper to see if I could find any good deals.

Now, I have never watched the show about couponing.  I am assuming that they combine store deals with coupons to get the most bang for their buck.  My strategy for my first couponing session was to just find the best deals from either Wal-Mart, CVS or Walgreens and go to those stores to get the deals.

My first stop was CVS where I planned to buy two bottles of Pantene Pro-V and combine their store offer with a coupon from the paper.  Alas, I was too late.  The shelf had already been emptied of the specific bottles that the coupon was for.  (should I have asked if they would honor coupon anyway or for a rain check?)  The other deal that I wanted at CVS was seventy-nine cent two liter cokes.  That was a very good deal.  I bought five bottles.  I usually pay around a buck twenty-five or more for Diet Pepsi.   I also picked up two boxes of Kashi cereal for six dollars and then got an extra care buck from CVS, making the cereal only two-fifty each.  My total bill was about ten bucks.

I then went to Wal-Mart.  There, I got my meat, veggies, milk and the bulk of my shopping list.  Shockingly, I only spent fifty-six dollars.  My normal bill there is over one hundred most weeks.  My last stop was Walgreens.  Their flyer from yesterday had good coupons on eggs, tuna, tomato sauce, and foil. Also, they were running a sale on Starbucks coffee and Right Guard deodorant.  My big score there was buy one, get one free on their store brand Zyrtec.  Total bill there was about thirty dollars.  So, total I spent about one hundred dollars this morning but I am sure that I got more than I normally would have.

Also, this morning I spent some time online researching coupon sites and blogs and also asked a friend how she does the coupon game.  She said it’s kind of a pain at first but once you get the hang of it and your coupon pile starts getting bigger things start paying off.  Here are a few links that I found helpful.  Please share if you have any more advice!

forthemommas

iheartCVS

http://www.smartmoney.com/spend/family-money/5-best-coupon-clipping-web-sites-23634/

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Doughuts :) by Amy Loves Yah

Doughnuts 🙂 by Amy Loves Yah

Tomorrow is National Doughnut Day.  That is something to celebrate.

Doughnut grease pretty much runs thru my veins.   One of my first memories is being very small, probably only two or three years old, and going to the doughnut shop where my teenage sister worked.  I remember sitting in the small shop with my mom and brother eating doughnuts watching her work behind the counter.  She started working there at the tender age of fifteen and basically ran the shop after the owner went home when he was done making the doughnuts.  He even trusted her to pay herself out of the money from the cash register!

My sister moved on from the doughnut shop after a few years but we still frequented the town’s other doughnut places.  If we didn’t go to get doughnuts on Saturday then we had them at church on Sunday.  As a special treat after dinner, sometimes my doughnut loving mom would make doughnuts with canned biscuit dough that she fried in oil and glazed with a powdered sugar and milk frosting.  Those doughnuts were so good, piping hot and dripping with gooey icing.  Anyone else drooling right now?

My husband and I got a kick out of discovering that we shared a doughnut-laden background.  His big brother had a job at another doughnut shop in town several years after my sister graduated from school.   There was even a time when his parents had to fill in at the doughnut shop for him so that he could start a more promising job at a big local company.  My mother-in-law says she hated coming home smelling like grease and sugar but how bad could that really be?

When I was in college, I saw Rosie O’Donnell raving about Krispy Kreme on her talk show so when I visited NYC for the first time, I sought out the famed doughnut shop and tasted my first one.  It was a cream-filled chocolate-glazed pillow of heaven!  The day that we flew back home, I got up early to take the subway back to Krispy Kreme in order to buy a dozen to take back home for my family to sample.  They somehow survived a full day of flying across country with only minimal smushing.   You can imagine my disgust when my family declared them “okay“.

A few years after that, Krispy Kreme opened a store near our town.  There was a huge line for weeks to get those things.  Of course, I was one of the carboholics waiting in line for an hour for one of the hot doughnuts.  I don’t think that anyone can deny their awesomeness when hot out of the fryer.  Delicious!

The doughnut theme in our family almost came full circle right after my husband and I got married.  We saw an ad in the paper for a doughnut shop that was for sale.   It cost about ten grand and we even took a drive to go check it out one Sunday afternoon.  We didn’t have the money but planned on borrowing it from my dad.  We thought about it for several days but ultimately decided that it wasn’t a good investment.  When we think about that now we find it kind of hilarious.  The thought of us making doughnuts for a living is too funny.

Sadly, doughnuts again became a staple in my diet a few years ago.  My mother had been diagnosed with cancer and due to the aggressive chemotherapy she was taking, her appetite went down to nothing.  She literally almost starved herself to death at one point.  One of the only things that she could even think about eating were doughnuts.  Before her treatments, we would stop by the doughnut shop that she liked and get some.  The maple glazed were her favorite but she usually would only eat a few bites. During this time, I was pregnant with my girl and I would easily put away three or four doughnuts while watching my mom pick at hers.  I definitely think that eating those doughnuts became a small comfort to me at a time that was so heavy with worry and sadness.   It’s been two years since she passed away and I can’t drive past that doughnut shop without getting a little overwhelmed emotionally.

We’ve passed our love of doughnuts onto our little girl.  She even has some doughnut themed pajamas.  I’ll have to make sure they are clean so she can wear them to bed tonight.   I’m even thinking about making doughnuts with her as a way to pass on the doughnut love that my mom and I shared.  If I do, I’ll post about it later.  Until then, go eat a doughnut and think about all of the ways those fluffy circles of dough heaven make our lives better!

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My birthday is coming up in a few weeks and that means my husband will soon be asking me about gift ideas.  I’m not even sure why he bothers to ask because he doesn’t go out and get my gift on his own.  I’m not exactly sure what goes one between other couples when it comes to birthday gifts but I think that we are unconventional.  Usually, I just tell him what I want and then we end up going to the mall and buying it together.  Sometimes I will just go ahead and buy myself something and then tell people it was a birthday gift from him.   I think the main reason is that we are both really picky people.  Also, we might be a little lazy.

On Mother’s day, we were at the mall and I spotted a pair of Steve Madden sunglasses that I liked.  I bought them and then told him that it could be his gift to me.  He was totally fine with that.  Father’s day is coming up and I guarantee you that we will do something similar for his gift from us.  Would this make other people mad?  Is it hurtful to have a spouse that doesn’t put much thought into birthdays or gift giving?

I know that it does feel special to have a surprise gift because we have both unexpectedly given great gifts to each other in the past and we both loved it.  It makes me think we should really think about doing that some more.  One year, he gave me an iPod right after they came out. I was shocked because it was one of the good ones, with video and everything.  I had mentioned that I wanted one but totally didn’t expect it.  For his birthday last year, I got him a nice North Face jacket.  He was so happy because he like them but thought they were too expensive.

Now I feel really bad about this.  Maybe we need to care more.  Maybe we need to be more into accepting any gift rather than getting what we want.  Oh well. Until then, I know what I want for my upcoming birthday  – a Nook.

Reading has always been something that I loved to do. In fact, when I was an adolescent, my parents used to ground me from books! Crazy, Huh?   That just doesn’t seem right.  Honestly, it was the only thing that would work as a punishment for me.  Reading was basically all I did! I was a nerd, okay?

In grade school I was super into The Babysitter’s Club.  In high school, I started reading a lot of the classics.  In college, I read a lot of biographies and history books.   Now that I am an adult, I read a lot of  crime, mystery, memoirs, and non-fiction.  Anything good and interesting, I will read.

I only have a few concerns about this ereader.  One is that I am kind of a tight wad and buying books has always bugged me.  I’ve always been a library gal.  The problem is that my toddler is way too active to take to the library.  When I do take her, I am only there for her.   Borrowing ebooks is an option at libraries now so I’m hopeful that will offset the cost of buying books.  My other concern is just wondering if I will like it, although everyone I know has told me that I will love it and use it.

Stay tuned to see if the husband is listening to my requests.  If I have anything to do with it, he will be.

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There’s a nightmare in my closet.  Really.

An organizer’s nightmare.

It’s actually scarier than a nightmare because it’s real.  It’s dark and damp.  It smells strange.

I’m sure that it has spiders.  And spider webs.

Once upon a time, it was not a nightmare.  It was a nicely organized space.  Clothes were hanging neatly, categorized by color.  Shoes were lined up.  There were no overflowing plastic bins.

A couple of things happened in my life, though.  And my closet has been neglected.

First, I quit my job so I had no reason to go in there to find something to wear everyday.  Nope,  now  I can I find my outfit du jour on the floor, next to the pile of dirty laundry.

Then, had a baby that has grown into a toddler.  Toys that she once played with have been dumped into this wasteland.

Two years ago I lost my mom to the dreaded c-word. Belongings of hers that I can’t bear to part with but have no useful purpose in the rest of my home have ended up in here.  Her yearbooks from high school.  Her diploma.  Papers and things that she kept for some reason.  I can’t bring myself to throw them away because obviously they meant something to her.

Whenever I am forced to go in here it makes me sad.   I need to find a home for this stuff.

This space is draining my energy.

I’m hoping that airing this out will get me motivated to do something about it.  Any ideas or tips on how to tackle it?

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To say that I live for the weekends is an understatement.  They are what gets me through the long weekdays, many without any adult conversation.  I need stimulation. I need adult interaction.  I need to spend time with my husband.  He’s my best friend.  And was long before we ever had any romantic relationship.

So when he decides to play golf on Saturdays, it really upsets me.  I don’t want to be mad. I really don’t. It doesn’t feel good to get mad about it for the twentieth time.

I have a visceral reaction to his golf announcements.  My adrenaline gets going.  I can’t look at him. I do the silent treatment thing for a while.  It’s really quite embarrassing to admit this all.

A while back, I tearfully tried to explain to him why the golf thing upset me so much.    I have a thousand reasons but they all seem to have one common thread.

I’m jealous.  I want to go away for an entire day.  I want to spend money on ridiculous things. I want to be the one that he spend his time with.

I really hate this feeling.

Lord, help not to get mad about this again. Amen.

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After her first bath was over, the nurse and my husband brought our baby girl into the hospital room that we had been moved to.  We gave our family one last chance to look at her and then they were all kicked out so that I could attempt the first breastfeeding session.

Before she was born, I had been really nervous about nursing. I really wanted to do it but I thought it might be kind of weird or awkward. Well, it was neither of those things.  It came naturally.  She latched on right away and stayed on for a long time.  After the nursing was done, husband and I decided to send her back to the baby nursery so that I could try to get some sleep.  I had been up for nearly 24 hours because of my insomnia the night before.  As my husband changed into his sleeping clothes, I realized that I was extremely thirsty.  We called the nurse and she brought me some apple juice. I gulped it down.  After a few minutes I realized that drinking that juice had been a huge mistake!  I puked all over the place!  We called the nurse yet again, and she came and helped get me cleaned up and made sure I was comfortable.  I guess the anesthesia can do that to you!

Finally, we turned the light off and tried to fall asleep.  Honestly, I don’t know if we were able to or not.  Before we knew it, they were bringing baby into the room for more nursing.   This is what the first few months of parenting are like, it seems.  As soon as you doze off, it’s time to wake up again!  Now that my little girl is over 2 years old, I’m getting so far away from those sleepless nights! When you are in the thick of it, it doesn’t seem like it will ever end.  It does.

The next day was a blur.  The nurse came in and helped me get up to go to the bathroom.  The epidural had worn off and I was starting to be able to feel the pain of the incision.  I took a much-needed shower and got ready for the day.  Between the steady stream of visitors, doctors and nurses were coming in to check on me or baby girl.

After her first night in the nursery, we decided that she would stay in the room with us from that point on.   I’m glad we did that.  I still feel guilty for sending her to the nursery for the first night!   The next morning the doctor came in and I begged her to let us go home.  She said that since everything seemed fine we could go as soon as the pediatrician gave us the go ahead.  Yay!   Even though I had an amazing experience at the hospital, I could not get out of there fast enough. I wanted to get home and start our new life together.

We were released from the hospital that Wednesday morning.  We had been there since 6am Monday morning, which isn’t really that long considering that I had a cesarean section just less than 48 hours before.  The one thing that they stressed to us, was to get baby girl to her pediatrician by Friday.

Finally, we were home! It felt amazing!  My milk still wasn’t in so I nursed her often, hoping the colostrum was doing the trick.  I tried to sleep when she slept but I was so keyed up from the excitement of having a newborn that I couldn’t sleep much.  I think that is what gets new parents thru those first days. After we were settled in, the first thing to do was call the pediatrician to set up her first appointment.

Let me back pedal a minute.  See, before baby girl was born, we had gone to meet with  a pediatrician.  From the beginning, she gave me a funny feeling.  At our new parent meeting before the birth, her demeanor set off my radar, but me being the idiot I am, ignored my gut and didn’t say anything to my husband about it.  Turns out, he had that same feeling but didn’t say anything to me either! IDIOTS!!  Also, I had neglected (simply because I didn’t know any better)  to ask her the most important question about new babies“What is your policy on seeing newborns?”

So when I called the pediatrician and they said that it was their policy not to see newborns until they are 2 weeks old, I pretty much lost my postpartum mind!  If you can say one thing about me, it’s that I live by the rules, so I knew that there was no way on planet Earth that I was going to wait 2 weeks to take my precious newborn to the doctor.  No way!

I looked through the provider guide for our insurance and after making several calls, I finally found a pediatrician that was taking new patients.  We set up an appointment for Friday morning.  What a relief.

The next day was Thursday.  Still, my milk had not come in.  This was getting a bit worrisome.  The baby seemed fine, though, so I tried to assure myself that everything was good, the colostrum was all she needed.  By that evening, we realized that she had not had a poopy diaper since we got home from the hospital.  We called the hospital and gave us a few suggestions for getting her to go.  The last thing they said was that we could try to give her formula.  I was very hesitant to do this so we decided to just wait and see what the pediatrician said the next morning.

We got up the next day and got ready for her appointment.  It was an absolute relief to meet Dr. C.  She was amazing!  I loved her from the start.  She examined baby and found that she had lost over a pound and that she did have jaundice.  She wanted us to bring baby back again on Monday in order to monitor the situation.    New parents, please, listen to your gut instinct!  If I has stuck with the first doctor, we would not have found any of this out!

That night, my milk came in.  That was a shock.  I hadn’t realized that your boobs turn into rock hard, painful, softballs.  I nursed baby on demand all that weekend and by Monday when we went back to the doctor, she had gained a good amount of weight.

My husband went back to work and baby and I settled into a good little routine of nursing, sleeping and diaper changing.  Minus the super annoying case of carpal tunnel syndrome that had hit me the day before I went into the hospital, the first few weeks of parentdom were pretty darn good.

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