Archive for the ‘ Winter ’ Category

Happy (late) Valentine’s Day! Part 2

Now that I wrote about Gavin’s and my cute duck cupcakes I can move onto what I actually made for Valentine’s Day!

CAKE POPS!! Yummmm

I came across the cake pop idea somewhere while strolling through the blog world. I finally found Bakerella’s blog. Let me tell you – she is amazing and one of the most creative bakers ever! Don’t believe me? Go take a look at her blog and look at all the different cute designs of cake pops that she has made. Too lazy to go over and look through her blog? I will just give you a little taste of what she has made.

So cute right? She posted these yesterday

a-dor-able

I can’t even handle the cuteness!!

Amazing right?! She has published a book that you can get from Amazon and I’m sure other bookstores too. I don’t have it, but you best believe I have my eye on it!

So onto the Valentine’s Day cake balls! I decided I wanted to make heart shaped cake balls. Here is the original cake ball recipe on Bakerella. The basic idea is bake a cake, crumble it, mix a can of frosting in, form them into balls (or another shape), chill, put them on a stick and then dip them in chocolate or candy melts.

Well, that turned out to be a little more challenging then I first thought they would be. (Sound familiar?) In the end they turned out ok, but I think I was a little ambitious. First, I was making two batches of cake. Now this might not seem ambitious, but each batch of cake makes 45-55 cake balls. So that would be 90-110 cake balls to make when I hadn’t even made 1 before. I decided I am going to give you some tips so you can learn from my mistakes 🙂

  1. Make sure you completely cool the cake. I mean totally cooled. Yes this does take time, but it is necessary. If the cake isn’t completely cooled then the cake balls will turn out more gooey rather than cakey.
  2. Completely chill the cakes after you roll them into balls or shape them. This will help the cake stay together when you dip it. Also I found it easier to shape the cake into balls and then hearts if the cake mixture had chilled in the fridge for a little as well.
  3. Make sure the cake balls aren’t too big otherwise the will be too heavy and fall off the stick when you try to dip the cake pops.
  4. At least for me melting the chocolate in the double boiler was way easier and worked much better than use the microwave to melt it. Part of the microwave failure was probably that I was using a bowl that is not recommended for microwave use. So the microwave would probably work when you have a bowl that is made for use in the microwave (go figure, right?).  So the bowl got really hot, but the chocolate didn’t melt all the way.  Sidenote: Even if you don’t have a double boiler per se you can have a makeshift one with nesting pots like I did.
  5. Don’t overheat the chocolate or candy melts, especially the candy melts. On the package it does say you can add some kind of shortening to get the candy melts back to the original consistency. I didn’t have that and I didn’t feel like going to the store.
  6. Bakerella on her site stands up the cake pops to harden and when I tried that my cake pops kind of fell over and got droopy. Sad droopy cake pop:
    So I put wax paper down and just let them harden on that and I think they turned out fine.
  7. If you run out of chocolate or candy melts (which I did) don’t try and dip them in frosting (like for the duck cupcakes). It was a total FAILURE!
  8. Make sure the chocolate is completely melted before you try to dip them. If the chocolate is still thick it will make the cake even heavier and make the cake pops fall apart. This combined with #3 and #4 leads to this: f-a-i-lI never was able to get the chocolate as runny as I would have liked (maybe what I was aiming for isn’t possible), but the chocolate was melted enough to (somewhat) successfully dip the cake pops.
  9. Make them with a friend! Things like this are way more fun to do with a friend. Plus it makes it easier to laugh at yourself when you totally mess up (because you probably will) when you are doing it with a friend. Also I think it would help to have another set of hands!
  10. Have fun and be creative! (ok really I just wanted to have a #10 because 10 is a nicer number than 9)

I used sugar pearls from Wilton (I got them at Michael’s) in white and pink to decorate the hearts before the coating was hardened. So now my Valentine’s Day cake pops:

I really liked the tags and it was what made the cake pops especially cute (at least in my opinion). While I was at Michael’s they had tag punches like this one half off. That made it way easier rather than trying to cut all of those out. Then I stamped “Happy Valentine’s Day” on one side. I wanted to put a verse on the other side because truly God is the greatest love any of us will ever know. I decided to put Psalm 63:3 on the back, which says:

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

I feel like this verse succinctly sums up God’s love and our responsive love back towards Him. My hope is that it was an encouragement and reminder about God’s love for every person who got one (and I hope the verse is an encouragement for anyone reading this 🙂 ).

Overall I was happy how they turned out and would definitely be willing to make them again, especially knowing what I do now. You know what they say: practice makes perfect!

Happy (late) Valentine’s Day!!

This post is a baking heavy post, but I think you all will enjoy it and hopefully be inspired to go bake something and use your creativity!

First off is the ducks that Gavin and I made while he was up here before the BCS game.

We didn’t come up with this clever design on our own, but got the instructions from the book What’s New Cupcake? Gavin (and my mom) got me this book for Christmas and my mom also got me the book that the authors wrote first Hello Cupcake. (Great minds think alike with the Christmas presents huh?)

The first book Hello Cupcake

Their second book What’s New, Cupcake?

So as you can see from the cover the ducks were from What’s New, Cupcake? First off let me say that the pictures in the book are made by professionals who probably make quite a few to get just some that are photo worthy. So, if yours don’t turn out as perfect or beautiful as the picture it is OK. Once I realized this it was a lot more fun to make them.  Although it didn’t take long to realize that Gavin’s and mine were not going to look quite as nice as the ones in the book! The instructions make it seem so easy: bake cupcakes, attach donut hole and marshmallow with frosting, chill, dip in melted frosting, add eyes and bill and voila! Well it was way more difficult then I was imagining, but what made it such a fun experience was doing it with Gavin and having fun together!

The authors use candy and other things like donut holes, marshmallows, graham crackers, different cookies and other sweets.  I figured I would give you guys a little diagram of the make up of the cute little ducks!

So overall they were somewhat hard to make, but so worth it! All of the cupcakes in the books are SO CUTE! I can’t wait to find reasons or holidays to make more of them! They are so cute I figured I would share some of the other super adorable cupcake designs from the books.

This one would have been so cute to make for a superbowl party! There is always next year though!

How perfect for Christmas time?!

They have quite a few food look-a-like cupcake designs that would be perfect for april fools!

You could make a pretty bouquet of spring flowers for Easter! These are actually fairly simple marshmallows cut in half on the diagonal then the sticky side dipped in colored sugar and then mini m&m’s, chocolate chips or other candies as the middle!

All of the images are from their blog Hello, Cupcake! The Cupcaker’s Place To Blog

 

I originally planed to write about the cake pops I made for Valentine’s Day as well in this post, but it got a little long so I will split it up and write about the cake pops in my next post! (I promise it won’t take me almost a month to put it up, like this one did!!)

You’ve Been Remade

I was driving back to Eugene from Salem a few weeks ago and this song came on the radio. I was so moved by the lyrics and truth in the song. Sometimes I believe lies about my sin (past sin especially) that I am no longer good or worthy in God’s eyes or I just get really down on myself about things that have happened in the past. This song is such a great reminder about how it is not about what I do good or bad, but it is about what Jesus did for me on the cross and how I live my life differently because of that. I have been remade and am constantly being remade and refined by God into the person He wants me to be. Realizing this and truly believing that I am not the person I once was and that God has made me into a new person can make all the difference in how I live and how I see and treat other people. It is always so amazing to me that God loves me so much that He would show such grace to me and bring me into the most loving and personal relationship with Him. Even more amazing is that He longs for a personal relationship with every single person, He is there with open arms waiting for each of us to come running to Him. I am so thankful for His love and this song as a reminder of what Jesus did for me on the cross.

Crafts Crafts Crafts

This post is going to be like three mini posts of crafts that I have done in the past month or so all wrapped up into one post. So get comfortable because it is gonna be a long one!

Christmas Cards

I wrote about making Christmas cards a few times earlier. Making Christmas cards was a great study break and a fun way to unwind. I realize that for some people that might not be true, but there were a few things that made it not stressful or burdening. First I had a general idea of people I wanted to send cards to, but I didn’t set a number of cards that I had to make. Actually I had planned to make cards for friends not in SLO and even more friends in SLO, but dead week and finals week got super busy and after that I didn’t have to drive to make more cards. So I didn’t force it. If I would have it would have become a chore and that doesn’t make for fun crafting! Also sorry to friends I didn’t send cards to, I wanted to but I couldn’t send them to everyone because of time. Know that I would if I could! Well I said I did a few things to make sure making cards wasn’t a chore, but now that I think it was really just notforcing myself to make a certain amount. Anyway, I didn’t post this picture before because I didn’t want people to possibly see the card they were getting. But I thought it would be fun to show you all the different cards. I tried to make the cards unique from one another. I will admit that I had some duplicates, but I think that was ok. I truly loved making these cards and I have loved hearing that people enjoyed getting them! Overall, it was fun to make them and really put me in the Christmas mood!!

Fabric Wreaths

I had seen one wreath on one of the blogs I read and then searched around and found a few other blogs. I ended up choosing between two different wreaths to make. (you can click on the names to see the tutorials for each wreath 🙂 )

Ruffly Felt Wreath

vs.

Ribbon Wreath

If you recall from a few posts earlier I posted a picture of the wreath I made for Gavin’s parents and it was a version of wreath #1 the ruffly felt wreath. The basic steps for making the wreath are cut out a TON of circles from felt. Then take a circle fold in half twice and pin onto the wreath. Repeat many times!  If you don’t recall the picture here is one to refresh your memory.

I ended up making the circles for this one a little bigger than the tutorial said to so it ended up more full, but I like how it tuned out. Also I used a 14″ wreath form rather than 12″ so I used more circles. I used approximately 440 felt circles on this wreath!! Also my circles were on the wreath more densely now that I compare the two pictures. Part of this is because I was using colored felt and if you didn’t put them close enough together you could see the white styrofoam form between the circles. I like how it turned out, but I also like in the original one how you can see more of the ruffles. But it could also be the lighting. Anyway, I actually made two of these. I know slightly crazy, but I am so happy with how they both turned out! This next one was for one of my best friends since elementary school. She is getting married this summer and is super crafty. So I wanted to make her something that would be handmade, incorporate her wedding colors and could possibly be used at the wedding if she wanted, but could be used in their home after they get married.

Once they get married her (and his) last name will start with H so I thought it would be nice to have a monogram in the middle of the wreath. For this one I did 3″ circles like the tutorial said to do. At the top where the letter hangs from I made the circles progressively smaller so the letter would  hang better, but I don’t think you can even notice it. (Ash had you noticed that before reading this?) Anyway I painted the letter in one of her wedding colors and got ribbon in her two other colors. I just glued the ribbon onto the back of the H with a glue gun and then wrapped it around the wreath for more stability and pinned it and then covered up the ribbon with felt circles.

The one tool that I got that made this project 100x easier and faster was this wonderful little invention:

The rotary circle cutter from OLFA! I got it on sale from Jo-Ann Fabrics, but had to order it online because not one of the 5 stores I went to or called carried it in the store. I have no clue why they don’t because it is an amazing little tool. I could cut about 80 circles in 20 minutes because you can cut two layers (when the blade is sharp), so really it was only 40 cuts but you end up with 80 circles! When you are talking about cutting 900+ circles not having to cut them by hand and being able to cut lots of circles in a short amount of time makes a HUGE difference. If you are thinking about making one wreath it might be worth the investment (I got it for $15 + shipping), but if you are wanting to make more then one it is definitely worth the investment! I will mention that the blade is dull now, but after cutting that many circles out of felt I can’t say I am disappointed or dissatisfied with the circle cutter. It just needs a new blade and it will be good as new!

I am glad that I ended up doing the felt wreath, but might find another occasion to do the ribbon one. That one is fairly simple where you just tie knots around a wreath form. I actually found a picture of one that someone made for Christmas and thought it turned out pretty too. (Flickr won’t let me put it in here, but you can go to the link) I think this would be much less time consuming and less work than the felt wreath.

 

Bookmarks

As part of my Christmas present Gavin got me the study bible that was on my Christmas list. Side note: my roommate has this bible and I used it for a few days when mine was at home and I really liked it. It has thought provoking questions for every section of scripture in the bible and then also specific studies for different groups of people (men, women, single, married, ect.). You can take a look at the bible at Amazon.

Anyway, I wanted a bookmark for my new bible and was bored earlier this week so I decided to make one! First pick a verse you like, or really any other saying. I picked Ephesians 3:17-19 that reads:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Then I picked a font that looked like handwriting, but you could choose any font you like. Printed it out on card stock. The first one I did was the purple one and it was kind of hard to read because the paper was so dark. I also tried to print in white or a very light gray, but that totally failed. So for my second try I printed in a larger font, in bold and on lighter paper.

I think all of these helped with visibility and ease of reading. Then I just glue more layers of paper together to make a firmer bookmark. Before gluing the last layer on the back I sandwiched ribbon between the two pieces of paper to make a little top to the bookmarks. I like how the pink one turned out more, but don’t crafts usually turn out better the second time once you get a feel for how things work? Anyway it was super easy and functional! Plus you can customize it to any color(s) and any verse. I think I am going to try to memorize this verse and then once I memorize it I will make myself a new bookmark with a new verse to memorize! The picture above is of my new bookmark in action!

 

Also I made Gavin a scrapbook of our relationship for part of his Christmas present. I don’t have any pictures of it, but if you live in SLO and really want to see it and are at the Phillips house you can bug him to see it 🙂

 

Well, as promised that was a long one! Congrats if you are still reading!! Did you attempt and DIY projects for Christmas? Are there any DIY projects you are thinking about trying?

New Years

Side note: I started writing this on the first, but just didn’t find time to finish it. So now that it is already the 4th of January (wow it just seems like the days go by so fast) I figured I would finish!

Well it is that time of year again when many people make new years resolutions and set new goals for themselves. I haven’t ever been really into making a whole list of resolutions or things I want to change for the new year. So instead I am going to write about things I am looking forward to in the new year and maybe some resolutions will come out of that.

One thing I am looking forward to a lot it GRADUATING! It still is very surreal that I will be done with my undergrad in June. I don’t feel like I have learned enough or have taken enough classes to graduate. But by June I will have all the requirements met to graduate. I’m really excited to be finished with undergrad and then move onto the next stage of life!

I’m looking forward to being able to easily spend time with my parents. I feel like I haven’t fully appreciated how much time I have been able to spend with my parents in the past six months and I want to take advantage of every time I go home and be able to spend quality time with them. I want to truly appreciate the visits while I am living close to home and it is easy to go home for a day.

Hopefully (fingers crossed) I am moving back to San Luis Obispo in the late summer/early fall. I am really excited to move back to SLO, not be doing the long distance thing and be able to spend time with people I really care about down there before everyone leaves and scatters all over the United States/world. However, before I head back to SLO I want to make the most of my time here in Eugene and not overlook or look ahead to much and miss out on opportunities/memories/friendships here.

There are many other things that I am looking forward to in 2011, and I also look forward to sharing them with you here as they happen! Another thing about the new year is looking back and seeing how far you have come or how things have changed in a year. I love remaining and thinking back on memories, so…

A quick look back at 2010:

  • I decided to change my major, then as a result transfer and start at a new school. This was a pretty major decision/event that really influenced the rest of the year.
  • I lived by myself for the first time ever. This was a good growing experience and one that I don’t think I want to do again.
  • Started my last year of my undergrad!
  • Moved back to Oregon and got to spend more time with my parents, especially during the summer.
  • Attended a wedding where it was friends my age getting married for the first time. The beginning of the wedding years! I go back and forth between it being surreal that friends my age are getting married to it being totally normal and expected. I guess that is part of transitioning into this time of life?
  • I love my ducks! I got into college football, which I’m 100% sure that Gavin was really happy about. What can I say? The mob mentality at a big football school gets to you.
  • And lastly for this list: Gavin and I celebrated our year anniversary! We are actually coming up on 2 years in the beginning of March as well! Sometimes I can’t believe it has been that long, yet at the same time it feels like we have been together for ages and I love that feeling 🙂

I’m sure there are other things that were significant in 2010, but that was what came to mind quickly! What are you looking forward to the most in 2011? What are memories, events or decisions that stand out in your mind from 2010?

Also in the next few days I am going to post about crafts from Christmas! Can’t wait to share them with you all 😀

It has been a while!

I have meant to update my blog many times over the past few weeks, but haven’t found the time to sit down and do it. Well Gavin is watching Monday Night Football, so why not a better time than now?

Dead week and finals week got c-r-a-z-y! The Sunday after finals were over Gavin flew up and visited for a little less than a week. We hung out at home and also went out and did some things around Salem, Eugene and Portland. We went to VooDoo Donuts once I picked Gavin up from the airport and then headed over to the Nike Employee Store. We went down to Eugene to hang out for a day. We walked around Autzen and got excited to go to the BCS National Championship game in January. We also visited the VooDoo Donuts location in Eugene and got a few donuts there. Later in the week we went up to Portland and went ice skating with Ashley and Matt. Then we went to lunch with my roommate Alexa at a restaurant up near Portland. After lunch we headed over to the VooDoo Donuts in downtown Portland to complete the VooDoo trifecta. Later that night we went over to the Griffiths’ house and had an amazing dessert and enjoyed talking for a few hours. It is so great to have people in your life that are so welcoming, supportive and mentors in your life and that is what the Griffiths are to me! Then the night before Gavin flew out my guy friends from high school played football and Gavin joined them in a football game. Overall it was a really great visit and we got to relax at home a lot!

I was pretty busy up until Christmas finishing making Christmas presents and hanging out with friends. I got all the presents finished and enjoyed Christmas with my parents and family friends!

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Later when I have more time and all my pictures uploaded (I forgot to pack my card reader or cable) I am going to post about my DIY Christmas presents and how they turned out! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with friends and family celebrating the birth of our Savior!!