Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sundays are for Swapping

Learn how to make graffiti backgrounds using materials you have on hand. 
This is me.
-----> Made By Nicole <------

Laura has an announcement and an exciting opportunity! 

Cherie makes a table decoration using what else? Peeps! 

100th Follower Giveaway Winner!!

Cyndi has been sharing a travelog of her most recent trip to Guatemala! 

This week Kim experiments with monoprinting. 

Learn how to dye Easter eggs naturally. Not everything needs to come from a kit or a mix. 

All of those altered books June has been doing has left her with lots of pages she has to do something with. Here's her first project... a frame! 

It's fun to make, fun to give these delicious handmade Easter treats. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cake # 13 Confetti Angel Food Cake with Fluffy White Frosting

Last week my back popped out (nothing new there) and while I was doubled over in an awkward pose I looked up at my top shelf and saw a glimmer of red. On that shelf, red means cake mix which perplexed me as we're a "from scratch" operation around here. I summoned a boy and a chair and sent him up on my countertop to investigate further. (Don't judge, they're fairly full-sized people with good balance)

To my great pleasure it was a dusty old box of Confetti Angelfood cake from Canada. Yum!!! There is no American equivalent. I've tried similarily named food-stuffs from several states and it always tastes wrong. Yes, wrong... not different. I'm not very PC when it comes to Canadian baked goods.

We mixed it up immediately. Like, dropped everything we were doing while squealing over cake immediately. I even stayed in the kitchen to supervise in my pretzeled state. It's that good.

I'm sure from scratch Angel Food (chiffon is the other name, right?) cake is very good but I really don't think it makes any kind of sense to mess with perfection. And Canadian Angel Food Confetti Cake is perfection - even the no-name brands.

My DH likes his "frosted" with a mix of instant chocolate pudding and Cool-Whip. With full apologies to my lovely mom-in-law... NO WAY. That's just not right. We're already off in the weeds with a boxed mix, I'm not slathering on Cool-Whip.

Where I'm from we make it in a way everyone calls "birthday cake" which is a Seven Minute Frosting with the slightest hint of mint. It's divine. But only if it's white, light green or pink. When blue it tastes terrible... are you seeing all the weird history and issues I'm dealing with here?

The trouble is, I only like my Angel Food Cake "Birthday Cake"style and 7 Minute Frosting doesn't work above 5000 ft elevation. It actually starts to fail after 3000 ft and is deemed utterly impossible at elevation. We live at over 6000 ft so I needed to come up with something new.

Fluffy White Frosting to the rescue! 
*Yes, I know mine is pink. "White" is just the name of it.

Fluffy White Frosting is very similar to 7 Minute Frosting except you can make it with less fuss, wherever you live and in any kind of wheather. SCORE!

To make things even better, it's way lower in calories then buttercream and it's fat free. There's even protein hiding in amongst all that sugar. The only real issue with it is that it sets up quickly after it's made so you need to make it immediately before frosting your cake.

16 Servings; enough for a 2-3 layer cake, a 9 x 13” cake, or 24 cupcakes

2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt

4 unbeaten egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the sugar, water, cream of tartar and salt in a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil.

Uncover and stir until the sugar dissolves.

Meanwhile, place the egg whites in the mixing bowl of an electric mixer.

Beat at high speed until soft peaks form.

Slowly pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites while the mixer is running.

Continue beating until the mixture has cooled and is light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Add the vanilla and the tiniest bit of mint extract if you're so inclined. I also added a touch of red food coloring. I was aiming for the softest pinkish-white.

Frost the cake immediately since it sets up quickly. One fun thing to do with the swirls is tap them with a back of a spoon. It makes all sorts of horns all over the cake. I'm a boy mom, even pink cakes end up spiked.

Amount Per Serving (of frosting)
Calories 104 Calories from Fat 0

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cake #12: The Best Popcorn Cake We didn't Eat

Cookies and Cups is a blog that I get a real kick out of. Shelly creates the most incredibly sugar-filled, calorie-dense, FUN recipes around. As you know, I'm always on the lookout for different types of cakes to  keep my 52 Cakes Project interesting so when I read about her Popcorn Cake I had to give it a go. And with this broken foot business it was just the time to try something that the kids could assemble more or less on their own. Plus we'd rented King's Speech so popcorn was already on the menu.

Please go to her blog to get the actual directions. But here's the gist of the sugary shenanigans we got into.

Take this great stuff:

Melt marshmallows and butter into ooey-gooey yumminess:

(Don't mind the mess but check out my menu - I'm proud of it *grin* And yes, my youngest is in jammies. He was up all night sick. Poor sprout.)

Carefully pour over your popcorn mix.


Pack it into a tube pan or bundt pan coated with cooking spray.

Cover with foil and let cool for at least an hour.

Unmold and enjoy

Or not... Notice Anything? 

How about now?

Looks like someone decided to crash our party.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Broken Foot Blues

My middle son and I had a great weekend. It was the peak of our training which means that we've done all the hard work now we just had easy workouts and rest for the next ten days before our half-marathon. As you may have heard me mention, the Thanksgiving Point Half-Marathon was this years "A" Race which means everything else I've been doing has been more or less practice leading up to this - even Disney Princess. The race snakes through the Tulip Festival - one of the most amazing garden displays imaginable. Avery and I have been talking, scheming, planning and dreaming about this since November.

Now this.

After running 13.1 miles on Saturday we went for a bike ride on Sunday (7.22 miles of rolling hills, I hit 25mph! Yay!) and then headed straight to the pool where I swam 500m. 

Things were good. This hellish month long flare-up had finally stopped, I was resting for my half and excited about the triathlon we were doing in 8 weeks. Life was pretty darn perfect.

Monday morning I woke up sore. We'd ran a 6 of the 13.1 miles downhill with 2200ft elevation loss and then a 621 ft elevation gain... of course I was sore - even with great form, that's punishing. I decided to go to the hot tub and soak a bit. When I was walking across our stoop there was a loud "CRACK" like a stick being broken and I collapsed screaming. It felt like the top of my foot exploded from the inside. I was doing nothing... didn't turn my ankle, slip, slide, slap or stomp. Just gentle careful walking.

Within an hour or so I realized I needed to get to a doctor. X-rays confirmed a stress fracture in my 4th metatarsus cuboid bone area.  It had likely been cracked for some time (possibly since January by everyone's best guess) and it just finally snapped. We splinted me up with a soft cast and I set off to the sports medicine orthopedist. He looked at my X-rays and noted that the bone was separating a bit and I needed a CAT scan right away to determine if I need surgery and a screw installed in the bone to hold it together. 

So now I wait. Praying really, really hard I don't need surgery but knowing that if I do, it'll be okay.

I'm off my feet for 8 weeks. No Half-Marathon, No triathlon and the mid-summer events are in jeopardy too as I don't know what kind of mileage I'll be doing once this thing is sorted out. I do know, that some day down the road I'll be stronger then I am today and that I can't wait for that day to get here.

What I hadn't realized was how into all this we had become. On the couch I was surrounded by Run Like a Mother, Slow Fat Triathlete (great book regardless of your size and speed), Chi Running and Your First Triathlon. There were triathlon and exercise magazines on the side table, a race schedule by the computer and a training schedule dominating the wall. I turned on the TV to get my mind off of things and all the Tivo had on it was the Boston Marathon (Go, Kara! Hooray for Desiree!), the Women's Triathlon Championships, an XTerra race (drool, it's my BIG DREAM) and the 2009 Ironman in Kona. My email was packed with a days worth of running motivations, a training schedule for the week, newsletters about the local races and an email about packet pick-up for the race I'll be missing. 

Yeah, that didn't help.

And I thought, Okay, I'll just make some cards, play with my precious Bombshells, work on my sewing class... things will be fine. But that's not true either. To make a card I go through an incredible amount of stuff: stamps, ink, markers, pencil crayons, embossing folders, die cuts, printing, patterned paper, sewing, distressing, paper trimmer, adhesive, embellishments, glossy accents... you get the idea. And that stuff is all over my house in at least four different rooms (remember, my normal goal is to increase mobility). And I'm not decisive enough to be able to ask people to get me a certain few sheets of paper and call it good. I'm just not.

Ditto for sewing. You cut, sew iron repeat. I think my back would give out doing all these one-legged squats to get up and down like that. 

So I'll read, and educate and draw. Odds are good I'll play a lot of Farkle. I'll still probably be crap at answering email... not my strength. 

And very soon I'll be biking again (possibly this week if I don't need surgery and the swelling goes down enough that I can pedal with my heel) and then swimming in about a month. And sometime in June I'll get to run again. And start over, one step at a time. And get back to it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Simple Easter Fun and Sunday Swapping

Easter Nests - a classic, people have been making them at least as far back as I remember in the 70s, and they're still just as delicious as ever.

We used chowmein noodles and buttescotch chips. Most people use 2 bags of chips to 1 bag of chowmein noodles but that's way too sweet and goopy for us. We prefer 1 bag of chips and most of a bag of noodles. 

Microwave the chips in a large heat-proof bowl.
 Stir in the noodles.
Drop spoonfuls into lined cupcake pans.
Make a depression in the middle. 
Add candy - jelly beans or cadbury mini-eggs are great for this.

And now onto Sundays Are For Swapping

It's National Poetry Month! In honor of that, Cherie is showing off a mirror she made using lines from one of her poems. 

----->THIS IS ME<-----
Nicole shares a mixed-media art piece that is filled love for family and friends. 

Make these darling lamb place card holders for Easter or any special spring dinner. So cute! 

Just a reminder that the visual journal June created all through is going to given away to one lucky follower! But you have to hurry... the give away ends at midnight on Saturday! 

If you have a fisherman in the family they'll love this fun cake idea! 

Kim loves dollhouses! Come see a miniature chandelier she altered to give it more style! 

Check out this easy journal background! 

Last Day for the Giveaway! 

The final chapter of Cyndi's e-book is now available! "Fibers, Fabrics, and Beads" challenges you to integrate all the fiber arts that you already love with your bead embroidery! 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

File Folder Album

This accordian file folder tag book has been on my to-try list for ever... years really. And now I've made one.

I really like having pockets big enough to hold ephemera, extra photos etc.

This is my entry into this week's Etsy Inspired Challenge. I chose this gorgeous Vintage Pendant Necklace as my inspiration:

And also my Quirky Crafts entry for , "An Easter or Spring creation which must include something sparkly (gems, glitter etc) and use at least one punch.

In other happy news I get to add a new item to my Where's Nicole? page, I made the top three at Simon Says Stamp and Show:

Linked Up to:

Tatertots and Jello