Carrot Cake Trifle

My dad’s birthday is later this week, and he likes carrot cake.  So, in honor of his birthday, I thought I would try out this carrot cake trifle recipe. Carrot cake isn’t my favorite, and I thought that this recipe might help me enjoy it more.  The recipe includes a low fat option, which is the one I made (mostly because I already had some of the ingredients).  You will need:

  • Carrot cake mix (+necessary ingredients)
  • Cheesecake pudding mix (+necessary ingredients)
  • Cool whip
  • Caramel sauce
  • Pecans

Check out the original recipe (including the non low-fat option), or my pin on my Just Desserts board.

carrot cake

Review

This recipe was just okay.  I wish I hadn’t bought a cake mix with raisins in it. I know that raisins are pretty standard for carrot cake, but I just don’t like cooked raisins.  (I don’t mind them out of a box as a snack or in trail mix.  I just don’t like them in cake.  What was I thinking?)  That said, eating around raisins isn’t that hard.  What didn’t totally work for me was how the pudding/cool whip mixture soaked into the cake.  There was still pudding mixture that was separate from the cake, but it had started to get absorbed by the cake, and I found that to be a bit of a bummer.  I’m not sure how the other mixture reacts to the cake, so maybe that one is a bit better.

That’s not to say it didn’t taste good.  I really did enjoy the taste of everything.  I just was a bit disappointed by the sogginess factor.  I probably would make this again for a crowd that included carrot cake enthusiasts and carrot cake okayists.  I don’t know that this would win over people who were not fans of carrot cake, but it has enough other flavors going on that it just might.  If you like carrot cake, this it definitely worth a try.

Advertisements

The NEVER AGAIN Project

A few posts ago I talked about making a rag quilt for my mom to give to one of her friends.  Well, she asked me for a second project as well.  Sadly, sometimes projects don’t go as well as you had hoped, and this was one of those projects in a major way.  Perhaps you are more adventurous than me, and you’ll want to know what you need for this baby sleeping bag project.

  • Two matching fabrics
  • Sewing machine
  • Buttons
  • Snaps
  • Binding
  • Batting

You can check out the original directions here, or my pin on my Crafts as Gifts board (even though I thought long and hard about deleting the pin).

never again

Review

Obviously I didn’t love this project at all.  My main problem came from the published directions. I consider myself a novice at sewing.  I am mostly self taught, and usually look for projects that are appropriate for beginners.  I spent a lot of time reading, sewing, seam ripping, re-reading, re-sewing, and seam ripping yet again.  I got very frustrated at my inability to understand exactly what I needed to do.  I even asked my husband to look over it with me with fresh eyes, but he, too, was unclear about what I was supposed to do.  Eventually I ended up making several miniature versions of the bag until I figured out which interpretation was the correct interpretation. I really feel like I shouldn’t have had to do this, but maybe it was also my novice eyes not reading correctly.  I’m not totally sure.

When I finally finished the project, I was annoyed by what it looked like.  The bottom “point” of the sleeping bag simply gets folded under.  Considering I had to sew buttons and snaps on the front of the bag, it seemed like a silly idea not to put one on the back to keep that point tucked back.  I also wasn’t sure that the final product was all that functional.  It seemed like something that might be cute for a photo session, but ultimately something that a parent would see as clutter instead of useful.  This is not a project I will be repeating.

Linoleum Print

Over the summer I have been taking part in a Young Adult book themed scavenger hunt hosted by one of my favorite websites, Forever Young Adult.  (If your interested in what I was doing all summer, check out all the Summer Showdown posts.). One of the final activities was to create a printed A-line skirt.  Now, we didn’t have to actually create the print ourselves, but I was super excited to give linoleum block printing a try and figured this was as good of a time as any.  Here’s what you need:

  • Linoleum block
  • Linoleum cutting tools
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Ink (I used fabric ink since I was printing on a skirt)
  • Ink roller
  • Painter’s tape

I used this video tutorial to show me how to create my stamp.  The tutorial is pinned on my Craft Ideas board.

linoleum print

Review

For my skirt, I went with an arrow theme so I could tie it to the Hunger Games since it was for a YA themed skirt.  Several of my friends commented that they thought it also felt vaguely Southwestern, which is also an excellent fit for my new home. Making the stamp was actually pretty easy.  I hadn’t done anything with linoleum block since, well, probably middle school art.  I was nervous about not messing up.  I sort of remember drawing directly on the blocks in school, but the tutorial instructs you to draw on paper with pencil and to transfer by rubbing your pencil drawing onto the block.  I felt like this was the perfect way to transfer my design.

I did not have a “proper” roller for my ink, and no stores around me carried one.  However, I used a regular paint roller with an extra smooth head on it.  I think this worked fairly well.  It still left a bit of texture on my block, but I actually liked the overall effect.  I taped off the bottom of my skirt so I didn’t have to have a perfectly straight line when I was printing.  I should also note that I cut out the skirt pieces, printed them, and then sewed the skirt.  I think this made for a better looking final product.

I has a lot of fun making this skirt, and I got a lot of compliments on it when I posted my pictures online.  I can’t wait to try out linoleum block printing again!

Rag Quilt

Right before I moved, my mom had asked me to make a few baby related projects that she could give to some of her friends that were pregnant or that had just given birth.  Knowing that I would have some free time, I was excited to jump into the projects.  Today’s project, the rag quilt, was the perfect started project for me!  You will need:

  • Fabric (I used minky and baby fleece)
  • A sewing machine
  • Batting
  • Thread and scissors

My mom sent me several pictures of rag quilts, but no tutorials.  Luckily, I found this awesome tutorial.  You can also check out my pin on my Crafts as Gifts board.

rag quilt

Review

I loved how simple this project was.  The pictures my mom sent me were all squares, so I went with squares instead of strips like the original tutorial.  I had never attempted anything like this before, so I was worried about my ability to make straight lines that lined up “perfectly.”  Luckily, I found this awesome additional tutorial that made me feel more confident about making perfect squares.  This is also pinned on my Crafts as Gifts board.

One of the parts that was hardest for me during the entire process was the final snipping of edges so they would curl nicely after I washed thru quilt.  My normal sewing scissors weren’t able to cut the small seam allowances as well as I wanted, so I ended up using some embroidery scissors.  I have never used those for a long period of time, and, while they did the trick, they also started to hurt my hands!

I didn’t get a “final” picture of my quilt because I was in a hurry to box it up and send it off to my mom so she could give it to her friend, but I was super pleased with the final result.  In fact, I already have squares cut and ready to go for my next quilt!

Fun Post: Welcome to Nightvale

Over the past few (okay, five) days, I have been sick.  It’s been annoying and miserable, but, luckily, it was also a chance to catch up on one of my favorite podcasts:  Welcome to Nightvale.  Haven’t heard of it?  Well, let me tell you about it, then!

Welcome to Nightvale is a fictional community radio show.  It is set in the town of, you guessed it, Nightvale Just what is Nightvale?

Welcome to Night Vale

Cecil, the show’s host, discusses all sorts of things about Nightvale, like any good community show should.  However, as you might have guessed, Nightvale is not your normal town.  Nightvale is the sort of town where things that we might feel are strange, extraordinary, or just plain creepy are considered normal and every day.  Take, for instance, the station’s pet cat.

Welcome to Night Vale

 

The story often has horror elements to it.  Take street cleaning day.  In Nightvale, street cleaning day is terrifying.

Street Cleaning Day advice

Nightvale is also full of sound advicePerhaps this is because so much of their lives are filled with strange things that shouldn’t be discussed and are often deadly.

Welcome to Nightvale

So, if you haven’t had a chance to check out this awesome podcast, be sure to do so.  Check out their website for the different ways you can listen.

 

The first link before each picture is the source, the second link is my pin on my Don’t Judge Me board.

Chicken and Dumplings

Cooking with the crockpot is one of my favorite thing.  Crockpot and few ingredients?  Even better.  So, I was totally excited tot ry out this simple chicken and dumplings crock pot meal. Here’s what you need:

  • Chicken
  • Cream of chicken soup
  • Broth
  • Biscuits

Check out the original recipe here, or my pin on my Yum! Board.

chicken and dumplings

Review

Ok.  Hard truth time.  This was not good.  Not at all.  First of all, do not half this recipe.  I did (because that’s all the chicken I had), and it barely made anything.  I knew I was in trouble when I looked at everything in the crock pot and thought, “Huh.  Okay then.”  This recipe was SUPER salty.  Now, I’m a person that doesn’t like much salt at all (and I routinely leave it out when I season dishes), so my taste buds might be skewed.  However, I have made dishes with very similar ingredients, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why it tasted so salty.  Neither my husband nor I liked it.  Even though I halved the recipe and made the serving sizes super small, neither of us finished our dish.

I will say, though, that there is something to the idea.  It just didn’t work for me.  I think there is a way to make a few ingredient, slow cooker chicken and dumplings, but this wasn’t it for me.  I liked the biscuits for the dumplings, and would keep that, but the rest of it needs a good look over.  This wasn’t the recipe for me, and I won’t be making it again.  However, my main complaint was the salt, so maybe you will feel differently about it.

Pinterest Pet Peeve

So, today I had plans to share with you a 4 ingredient crock pot recipe that turned out much better than I had anticipated.  Obviously, that is not what I am doing.  For my pet peeve to make sense, I need to explain a little bit about my process.

When I find new pins that I want to try and think might be good for the blog, I put them onto a secret board.  When I have tried them (good or bad), they get moved to the appropriate public board.  This allows me to keep track of what I have and have not tried yet.  Also, I tend to spend a few hours one or two days a week populating my secret board, and this keeps me from overwhelming people with all those pins at once.  It’s a system that makes sense for me.

One of the first things I do when I write a post is open the pin, move it, and open the original source.  Today, though, I wasn’t able to do that.  My pin had been blocked.  When I tried to click on the pin, Pinterest refused to take me to the original post.  “Oh well,” I thought to myself.  “I’ll just move the pin to the appropriate board, and then I will explain that the link is broken, but still try to find the original source so I can link to that as well.”  Turns out I can’t do that either.  Pinterest won’t allow me to move the pin to a public board.  And, you can’t “send” pins from secret boards, so I couldn’t even send it to, say, my mom, and have her send it back to me so I could use it.

What bothers me the most about this is that it isn’t spam or inappropriate or full of viruses.  The link is fine (I did find it).  But I have no way to be like, “Hey Pinterest, actually this link is totally cool!” So that’s my rant for today.  I put in about half an hour preparing the pictures and writing some prelim notes for the post, and all that was wasted because I can’t actually use the pin.  (Insert sad trombone sound here.). I guess I should be happy that I didn’t waste more time than that.

Infinity Scarf

First of all, I would like to apologize for not having a post go up on Friday.  Normally I write my posts the night before or the morning of posting.  We ended up with a bit of a family emergency at the end of last week, and I totally forgot about the post I had planned until Saturday night.

Onward to today’s post!

One thing I’ve been wanting to do is make my own scarves.  I love scarves, so when I saw today’s pin about making your own infinity scarf, I had to five it a try!  The entire project is perfect for a novice, and it only took me about 15 minutes!  Score!  For this project, you will need:

  • 2 fat squares
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors

This project is super simple!  Check out the original tutorial, or my pin on my Sew Many Possibilities board.

infinity scarf

Review

First of all, I need to talk about the changes I made.  For one, I did not put batting into my scarf.  I wanted it to be super light since living in the desert means a long warm season.  I wanted this to be something I could wear during all those warm months.  Secondly, since I didn’t put batting in, I also didn’t do any sort of quilting to the scarf either.  I think these changes were perfectly fine and better matched what I wanted out of the scarf both for practicality and for aesthetics.

The tutorial was pretty easy to follow.  I got a little confused when I was joining the two short ends together, but then I realized I wasn’t turning the whole scarf right side out, but rather pulling it “half way” so I could line up the short ends.  Also, since I didn’t have batting in my scarf, I was able to use a much smaller “pull through” hole on the long side seam.  Instead of 8 inches, I did about 3.

I love the look of my final scarf.  My only complaint is that it is a little stiff.  I’ve seen a few tutorials on making t-shirts softer, so I might give that a try.  I love that fat quarters are fairly inexpensive, and they allow for lots of customization.  I plan on making more of these scarves, and maybe even giving them as gifts.  I have some other (non fat quarter) fabric that I think I will try it with as well. They are just so easy and you feel pretty accomplished when you are done!

Cinnamon Rolls

Fun fact:  when the husband and I got married, a lot of things about our wedding were not traditional.  Perhaps the least traditional part of our wedding was the cake: a stack of Cinnabon cinnamon rolls.  We absolutely LOVE those gooey, sugary rolls.  So, when I saw this copy-cat recipe, I knew I had to try it out.  It’s almost romantic of me. 

Here’s what you need:

  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Yeast
  • Butter
  • Cream cheese

Check out the original recipe here, or my pin on my Breakfast board.

cinnamon rolls

Review

This recipe makes 12 absolutely HUGE cinnamon rolls-exactly the size you would expect a Cinnabon to be.  I really should have halved the recipe because 12 rolls is a lot for two people to consume.  I made them early last week, and we still have 2 left.  While good, these rolls aren’t exactly a Cinnabon copy.  They are close, but they aren’t quite it.  However, I will totally make these again, because if I can’t have the real thing, this will do it for me.  I might play around some with the recipe to try and make it closer.

Here are some things I noticed when making this recipe.  First of all, I didn’t need as much butter, nor as much of the brown sugar/cinnamon mix as the recipe indicated.  I probably only ended up using about two-thirds of each.  I know that I rolled my dough out enough (I checked with a ruler), so maybe I was supposed to layer it on even thicker?  Also, surprisingly, the husband and I both agreed that there was a touch too much cinnamon.  Now, I used super cheap, generic cinnamon, so perhaps we wouldn’t feel that way with better quality cinnamon (which is one of my “changes” for next time I make this).

Next is the frosting.  The husband thought it didn’t taste cream cheesey enough.  He thought it tasted more like a royal icing (though he didn’t use those words).  I, personally, did taste the cream cheese, but agreed that it could have been better.  I think I would add more cream cheese to the icing in the future.  Also, the frosting is a MUST.  It simply doesn’t taste right without it.

It might sound like I didn’t like this recipe, but you would be wrong.  I really enjoyed this.  I just plan on playing with it more, so it tastes a bit more like my wedding.  Don’t skimp on anything when you make this-none of that low fat cream cheese or the like.  If you’re going to make a cinnamon roll, make it worth the trip to the gym afterward.  And really, these are totally worth it.

Tortellini Soup

Byte now it’s obvious that I love one pan meals, but I also love crockpot meals.  These are my favorites for when I don’t have a lot of time or when I want to feed more than just the two of us.  Today’s meal is crockpot tortellini soup.  For this you will need:

  • tortellini
  • tomatoes
  • spinach
  • cream cheese
  • chicken broth

As always, check out the original recipe here, or my pin on my Yum! Board.

tortelinni soup

Review

First of all, this recipe is super easy.  Just throw everything in the crockpot and let it go.  One thing that I did wrong was overcook.  The tortellini got a little mushy when I left this alone all day.  However, I also only had SUPER cheap tortellini at my grocery store, so the overall quality of my tortellini might  have contributed to the mushiness.

The taste was, I thought, pretty good.  In the future I might add some additional spice to make it a little more flavorful, but, overall, it was a tasty dish.  I might also choose some other type of tortellini.  I only had cheese tortellini available, so something with a different filling might provide a better flavor combination.

One tip that I’ve learned works best for my crockpot is to wait until the last 30 minutes or so if I am going to add cream cheese to a mixture.  I have a couple of recipes that make a creamy soup base by dropping in cream cheese.  It doesn’t seem to blend right for me (and once even made an odd film) if I add the cream cheese right at the start.  Instead, I wait until about half an hour before we are going to eat, and I cut it into chunks and add it in.  Fifteen minutes later I stir it in.  This seems to work for me, but your mileage may vary.  Maybe it’s just because my crock pots are old.

You might have noticed that the picture set doesn’t include a final dish.  It had been a really long day, and I was so hungry that I simply forgot!  I will make this recipe again.  It’s not one that I would put into the weekly rotation, but it is something that I would use every couple of weeks.  It fed the two of us for two days, and it did reheat fairly well. Overall, good, but I’ll probably make a few tweaks.