Monthly Archives: May 2011

Rich Chocolate Frosting

I have conquered my fear of making homemade white cake. 
Then, I found a fabulous recipe for a light, fluffy frosting.
After a lot of experimentation, I accomplished a deliciously moist homemade chocolate cake.
After that, I mastered creamy, wonderful, sweet vanilla buttercream frosting.
Next mission: chocolate frosting.

They’re So Angry!

IMG_0376 copy
Jordan just turned eleven this past week. I can’t believe
a) he’s so old and
b) he’s been part of my life for so long!
The kids is almost a teenager! Seriously! (And he’ll let you know it too, should you be wondering. He’s a “pre-teen.”)

For his birthday, we did the crazy thing and told him he could invite three friends to sleep over.
That’s three other eleven year olds, mind you.
I was going to make him a yummy chocolate cake with a recipe from a friend, but then I came across this idea from a totally lovely blog:

Nice Cream Pie

Note: this post is a “flashback” post from my previous life blog, Cheep Eats & Sweets. But we ate it again and the compliments were as sweet as the ice cream, so I thought it was worth sharing again!

I made this ice cream pie for my husband’s family a couple of weeks ago. Despite its simplicity, they raved about it, so I decided to make it again when my stepkids were around so they could enjoy it too. I don’t remember why, but on that day we were all just snippy with one another. No major fighting or anything, but the kids kept getting annoyed with each other, Gary and I kept getting annoyed with each other, and we kept getting annoyed with the kids. All around, everyone was annoyed.

I had whipped this simple dessert up the day before and was prepared to serve it that night. Before I served it though, I told everyone who wanted a piece that they must say something nice about everyone at the table. Jordan went first, and, thinking hard, came up with something nice to say about everyone. Then around the table we went, including little Nicole . So this dessert was dubbed Nice Cream Pie by our family, and I think it’s a tradition we’ll stick with. When I make this pie, you better have nice things to say if you want a piece! (Oh, and it was amazing what a transformation our family went through… the snippiness ended and everyone was happy and laughing by the end of dessert. And I’m sure the sugar rush had nothing to do with that!)

I’m actually a little embarrassed to post this recipe because it’s so simple! But somehow the magical combination transforms into a lovely, amazing little dessert! The recipe is at the bottom of the post, but to start you’re going to need about 2/3 a package of Oreos. This will give you plenty to snack on while you work. That’s essential! Throw them into your food processor.

Note: my processor is really really small, so it’s likely that your Oreos will not come to the top like mine do! Okay, process and pulse and whatever else ya gotta do until it looks like this:

Mmm, crumbly Oreo goodness. Keep the kids out of the kitchen for this recipe.
Actually, this is a simple recipe that kids could definitely help with! But then they’d watch you sneaking all those Oreos, and they’d want in on the action.

Melt about 3 tablespoons of butter in the microwave and pour it into your processor as you pulse. Or just dump it in and pulse after, should you have a baby on your hip. It doesn’t matter!
Now you’re going to want to press those crumbs into a pie pan.

Not gonna lie, it gets messy. So before you pour them into the pan, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or something). This way you’ll be able to save those crumbs for later.
Okay, now you can press the crumbs down.

Now your pie crust is made. If you have time, put it in the freezer for a few minutes. The ice cream won’t smudge your neat little crust.

You got your ice cream out to melt right? What? I didn’t mention that? Okay, hurry and get it out and wait till it’s all melty. If it’s still sealed let it sit in the sun for a few minutes, that’ll soften the sucker up. Now when it’s nice and melty–but not soupy–glob it into your pie crust. Smooth it around till it looks pretty. You only need about 3/4 of a 1.5 qt. of ice cream.

Can we talk ice cream for a minute? (I have personally never said “no” to that question.) I used a Breyer’s All Natural Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. But only because it was on sale. In truth, it was delicious, but you could use any mint ice cream you want. Oh, you think mint ice cream tastes like toothpaste? (You know who you are.) Then try something else! The next time I’m making this pie, I’m going to try a chocolate flavor, maybe with cookie crumbles. Cookie dough would be fab, and Oreo ice cream is an obvious choice. Homemade ice cream of any flavor would be divine. Customize this pie so your family will say nice things to get a slice!

Okay, back to directions. I like to freeze the pie at this step. A few hours, or overnight, until it’s nice and firm will be good. Now you’re going to need light whipped cream in the can. Well, I suppose it doesn’t have to be light. Or from a can. Technically, it could even be Cool Whip. To be perfectly honest, Gary and I have been addicted to light whipped cream in the can ever since I made this the first time. We’re to the point we’re just buying it to eat it plain! I do like it in the can though because it’s easier to get fancy with the can than Cool Whip. Once your pie is frozen, decorate with whipped cream and some of those leftover Oreo crumbs. Freeze until the whipped cream is firm (optional). You may want to let it soften 10 minutes before you serve it. And don’t forget: say nice things before you indulge!

Nice Cream Pie
2/3 pkg. Oreos
3 T. butter, melted
4-5 c. ice cream, very soft
whipped cream in a can

Crush Oreos in a food processor. Pulse in melted butter and press Oreos into pie pan. Save extra crumbs.
Spread ice cream in pie pan, freeze 4 hours or overnight.
Decorate with whipped cream and extra Oreo crumbs.

Husband & Wife – A Review

*This review is purely my own, based on my own experiences, and is in no way endorsed by Husband & Wife. However, if Husband & Wife wants to endorse me, I won’t object and I’ll let you know.*

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I believe physical intimacy is to be between a man and a woman–a married man and woman. While our beliefs are in the increasing minority throughout the world, and particularly the country, they still stand as true principles given by God. 

Just because you have one partner, doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, right? I’m not going to go into any detail whatsoever (because I know my parents read this blog!), but I will say this: I’ve been into one or two, shall we say, “adult stores,” and can I just say they are pretty icky? Just because I want a nice lingerie set for a special date doesn’t mean I should be subjected to overly graphic images. This generally means I shop the limited selection of lingerie at department stores. 

On a whim last night, while I was picking up a prescription across town with no children!, I swung into a new store I’d heard about: 
Click here to shop online!

This store piqued my interest because of a billboard I pass daily. It says “You can look now,” and promotes the store as “Classy, not Trashy.” I knew there were a couple stores down in Utah Valley so I figured it couldn’t be that bad.

I was pleasantly surprised at what I found. A clerk was available to help me, and gave me a quick tour of the store and let me know about promotions. (Lingerie sets were buy one get one half off!) They also have great wedding and anniversary deals (anyone need free lingerie?) and a variety of sizes–from size S to 5X! 

One thing I really liked about the company was that all of their games and gifts are free of graphic images and swearing. It doesn’t have the largest selection, and some of the styles I liked  didn’t have a huge variety of sizes in stock. But it felt more like I was shopping at a boutique that happened to carry items for marital improvement rather than a store I’m embarrassed just to be in! Here’s a quote from their founder: 

“Husband & Wife has been an amazing experience for us.  We are so pleased with the response that we have received and how well received the idea of a tasteful and classy approach to this industry has been. Husband & Wife is popular because of the way we do business and how we treat people. Couples enter our doors not knowing what to expect and find that their values match our values. We know that sex is a vital part of life for a healthy relationship between husband and wife and we are grateful for the opportunity to provide the tasteful alternative to traditional “sex shops.”  Sex should be exciting and fun for both of you but it doesn’t need to feel trashy or second-class. Sex between husband and wife is what creates an emotional bond of closeness that should exist in your marriage.  Discovering new ways to romance each other is what this store is all about. We get letter after letter, call after call thanking us for opening a store that has a focus on what everyone really desires in their marriage… love, friendship, romance, respect, passion and a more exciting sex life!”ho

Okay, I gotta know: was this totally TMI or would you be interested in a giveaway from Husband & Wife in the very near future?

Mexican Circle Skirt

Rebecca’s Spanish dual immersion class put on a Cinco de Mayo fiesta last week. It was adorable! Two weeks before, her teacher sent home a note asking the children wear a “white a-line skirt or dress” and a white shirt. I picked up a $4 Walmart shirt (which of course was lost the day of the performance and I found myself running to Walmart for another $4 shirt) and decided to sew a simple a-line skirt. 

I found a great tutorial here which promised a 5 minute a-line skirt. I liked the 5 minute plan, so I got some fabric. When I showed it to Rebecca, she said, “am I going to hold it up like this?” (pantomiming holding her skirt with her arms spread out to her sides.) Ummm…. no?

Not only did I have the wrong fabric, but I was way off on what her teacher really meant by “a line skirt.” Apparently, she wanted something more like this:

colorful photo of Mexican folk dancersphoto of  Mexican folkloric dancer wearing traditional dress

I googled my heart out–and trust me, I’m pretty much an expert googler–and came up with very little on how to make one of these. A few sites explained how to make a “circle skirt,” but these didn’t have very much flair (think poodle skirts). A few forums suggested making a “double circle skirt,” but I was thinking, huh?

Finally I made one with a lot of trial and a lot of error. It ended up being exactly what Rebecca wanted, flaws and all. The first one took me six+ hours, but then I sewed up a second one for Nicole in about two hours. I wanted to post it here because it’s a really fun dress up skirt; great for girls who love to twirl; and dang it all, the blogosphere needs instructions for one of these! So without further ado, here’s my post on how to make a mexican falda, or skirt. 

This is a very picture heavy post. :)

Materials needed: 
about 3 1/4 yards for a 8 year old (I used about 3 yards for my 3 year old).
Matching thread
A serger, if you have one
A ruler
Tissue paper
A pen or pencil
Scissors, sewing maching, etc
Embellishments, as desired (ribbon would be super cute)

Start by taping together some tissue paper that will be big enough to cover your fabric when folded into fourths. This first part is probably the hardest, as it involves math. I took this directly from

Circumference = the entire distance around a circle (in this case, your waist length, plus 2 inches)
Radius = the distance from the center of the circle to the outside of the circle
pi = 3.14 (approximately)

You need to figure out the radius so you can easily draw a circle. If you remember from math class: Circumference = 2 x pi x r (radius). I’ve flipped the equation around a bit and came up with this diagram:

Let me break it down a little more:
* Measure your waist
* Add two inches to that number. You need these extra two inches so the fabric has “give” and will actually “stretch” when it’s sewn on to the elastic. It will create a very subtle gather to the skirt but will make it easier to get the skirt on and off. This will make more sense as you sew.
* Take your “waist + 2 inches” measurement and divide it by 6.28, and you have the radius!
* In Lucy’s case….
Her waist is 19 inches, plus 2 inches = 21 inches divided by 6.28 = 3.3 inch radius.

Note: as I did not use elastic, I did not add two extra inches. 
So my skirt ended up being about a 3.9 inch radius or so. Measuring from the right angle of the tissue paper, I marked out a circumference of 3.9. I used dots to mark the circumference, the cut it out. You can sort of see in the above picture how I made a half-semi circle and cut. See also below. 

Next, I measured from the small circle the length I wanted my skirt to be. Ultimately I could only squeeze in about 17 inches to accomodate the fabric (I was hoping for longer). So from the small circle I measured 17 inches to make a larger half-semi circle.

I then folded my fabric into fourths. From the folded edge (above), I carefully lined up my pattern. Pinning is also a good idea if you’re into that sort of thing.

Then I cut. When I unfolded this quarter circle it becomes…

a doughnut! Now you need to repeat this for the other circle. Just reuse your pattern.

Once you have both “doughnuts” cut out, on one edge of each, cut into the doughnut on the fold. If you cut both edges of your doughnut you will have made 4 “c” shapes, and that would be wrong. So don’t do that.

Line up one of the cut edges from each cut doughnut, right sides together. Sew one side together with a zig zag stitch or a serger. You will be making one super big circle from the two doughnuts. 

I am no expert sewer (not even close) so I’m quite sure there’s a better method for this. But what I did is hemmed each side, then stitch together. I left about a 5 inch opening near the top. You could also serge these together, but you are going to want the top 5 inches (where it’s left open) to be a finished edge. If you are a sewing expert and know a better way to do this step, please leave it in the comments below! I just wasn’t sure how to finish the edges near the top unless I hemmed the whole thing. That was my line of thinking.

Super doughnut! You won’t realize it yet, but the circumfrence of the outer circle is amazingly giant.

Now gathering: this is a step I’ve had trouble with in the past. The idea of gathering is sewing two parallel lines around your inner circle. You want to sew at the loosest (is that a word?) tension, and the biggest/longest stitch. Essentially this is just a basting stitch. They won’t tell you this but I found it easiest to back stitch at the beginning but not at the end of your stitches. You want to leave a long thread at the end too. Start at the first hemmed opening and work your way around to the other side. Remember, no back stitching!

Grab your two bobbin threads (from the bottom) and gently pull. As you pull, the fabric will pucker and gather nearest to where you are pulling. Take your fingers and gently push the gathers evenly along the skirt circumference.

Untill it’s all neatly gathered up.

At this point, I had Rebecca try on her skirt. I fit it to her waist, then tied the bobbin threads in place.

Next I cut two strips of fabric 4 inches wide. I cut width-of-fabric (or WOF), so about 44 inches each. Sewing each short end together to make one long strip, I folded and pressed the strip in half. I ran a stitch down one end, and turned it inside out.

I measured out Rebecca’s waist size and tied it into a bow to make sure it wasn’t going to be too long or short. It worked just right so I didn’t make any major adjustments to the length.

One end finished, one end not. I made an angled cut (maybe 60 degrees or so), then cut off the very tip of the point.

I folded down the top of the angle (where I snipped off the tip) and lightly pressed right where my pointer finger is in the above picture.

Then I folded it in half, tucking in the unfinished ends, keeping the 60 degree angle I had created.

See? Then I pressed and…

topstitched the entire long strip. I decided to topstitch a seam through the middle, as well.

I then neatly laid out my skirt, adjusting the gathers to be even throughout the skirt.

Lining up the middle seam on the strip with the seam on the skirt opposite of the opening, I pinned the crap out of the ribbon. I sewed this on first with a straight stitch. You will be sewing right sides together. When you sew, make sure you sew a large enough seam allowance that you won’t be able to see your gathering stitch. For me, this ended up being almost 3/4″ seam allowance or so.

Then I zig zagged with a very tight stitch on the unfinished end of the gathered skirt.

I pressed the waistband going up (to lay flat against her tummy) and ran a stitch to discourage it from folding out, especially near the ties.

Looking good! Now we just need to finish the bottom. You can finish it off now, or add a ruffle.
Hello, you need the ruffle!

I made a bunch more WOF strips (I want to say 4 inches, but maybe 5? I know I was dangerously low on fabric at this point.) I think I ultimately used 8 or 9 strips. This is crazy long, folks. Sew them all together and press your seams. Following the steps above (no backstitching!) you are going to gather all of that crazy long piece of fabric.

Tips: Use a measuring tape to measure the bottom circumference of your skirt. This way you can just measure your strip to know when it’s gathered enough, rather than the guess-and-check method I used which ultimately screwed me up big time.

Also, don’t over gather. I was balling up my threads as I gathered (remember, this is way long so a lot of thread!), and I over gathered. Ungathering is much more of a pain than gathering is!! I can’t emphasize this enough. 

There is a way to gather with your machine, even without a ruffle foot. This took a lot of trial and error and practicing, and didn’t make a super tight ruffle for me. But it’s worth experimenting on, if your first “ruffling” didn’t go so smoothly. Check it out here.

Repeating the steps above, I pinned my skirt to the super long piece of gathered strip, and did a tight zig zag stitch. (A serger would have been so handy for this project!)

Rather than hemming that ridiculously long piece of fabric, I opted to do another zig zag stitch. It’s not perfect but it will hold up pretty well, I think.

It was really late when I finished this, so here’s a picture with flash.

The finished project! A perfect twirly skirt, ready for Mexican dancing!

Here’s Nicole modeling her pink too-big version. Like the ADDer that I am, I spaced bringing a camera to Rebecca’s Cinco de Mayo fiesta! What a fun skirt though, perfect for little girls and dancers! Enjoy.

Please link to this blog if you share this tutorial. Thanks!
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