Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Small Successes Vol. 1: Cakes and Pumpkins

I've seen the Small Successes button on a lot of blogs, and I enjoy reading the posts. The idea is to list three things you've accomplished this week that you feel good about, and share them on your blog. I'm jumping in this week, partly because I wanted to show you the results of my creative juices (however mediocre they are--I am not very good at artistic endeavors, and I'm always a little jealous of my fellow bloggers who post pictures of the fabulous knitting, sewing, and crafting projects you've done. I don't do any of those things. But I'm not a bad cook and as you'll see, I can be pretty savvy with a kitchen knife.) And thanks to Danielle Bean for hosting this fun meme on Faith and Family Live! (I think this is supposed to be a Thursday meme, but I'm posting a day early, mainly because I'm not quite awake yet and I don't feel like starting on my chores. If I can finish this in 30 minutes that will be a small success to add to the list. I've only got 20 minutes left, so I better hurry so I can get something done before I have to go to work.) Okay, here goes:

1. Moe celebrated his birthday recenlty and since it's getting close to Halloween, he decided he wanted a tombstone birthday cake. Yep, you read that right. When I asked him what he wanted written on the tombstone, he said, "R.I.P." "What about if I write '2000-2110' so it looks like you've lived for 110 years?" I asked. Nope. "What about Happy Birthday Moe?" suggested his father. "Um, NO, Dad. I'ts a TOMBSTONE." Because of his food allergies I made this dairy-free, egg-free cake, and improvised the design.

I doubled the recipe to make one square cake and one round one.

The dirt mound and the zombie hand were Moe's idea.

Even though we already had plenty of colorful birthday candles on hand, when I saw these black-and-white ones I thought they'd be fun for this cake. The boys were impressed and said they were "Goth."

2. Of course when it's your birthday, you HAVE to bring cupcakes to school to share with your class. Every year for Moe, I bake chocolate cupcakes using a recipe I found years ago on the back of a Hershey's Cocoa box:


1- 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 T white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin cups (2 1/2 in diameter) with paper bake cups. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla; beat with whisk or spoon until batter is well blended. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 16 to 18 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 16 cupcakes.

They are delicious, and Moe says that the kids in his class had been asking him all week if he was going to bring them. I was surprised they remembered them from last year, but that's how yummy they are!

Last years cupcakes...

...and this year's.

3. I picked up a beautiful pumpkin at the Farmer's Market on Saturday; not too big, but just right for carving. Instead of my usual method of cutting out eyes, nose, and mouth without any real planning (i.e. making it up as I go along), the kids wanted to find a pattern online and carve a REALLY COOL one. After vetoing several choices--the Darth Vader and Yoda ones were just too complex, and I'm NOT carving a puking pumpkin again this year--...
(Last year's pumpkins. The kids designed them both; I thought the one on the right was particularly clever. The one on the left--not so much.)

...Curly found a cute Sonic the Hedgehog pattern that seemed reasonably simple to carve, and one that everyone liked.

Definitely NOT professional quality, but we had fun making it and it does look a little like Sonic the Hedgehog.
(One other success: Last week I managed to complete almost everything on my to-do lists every day. Quite a feat if I may say so myself. This week I'm not getting nearly as much done, but I haven't made any to-do lists either. And this post took way longer than 30 minutes; I ended up taking two blogging sessions to complete it.)

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