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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chocolate Cage Birthday Cake w/ Tutorial

Tomorrow, which is Halloween, and my daughter's 20th birthday. I wanted to make a special cake for her as she hits this wonderful milestone in her life. Leaving the teen years behind her and embarking on the next season of her life..

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I made her this pink chocolate cage cake.. I've been hearing about this technique for awhile now and never thought I'd be interested in adding it to any of my cakes I've made. I almost decided to order a cake for my daughter's birthday thinking I was going to be knee deep into hunting season but I saw a cake photo online with this technique and knew I wanted to do this. It's simple.. a lot simpler than frosting techniques so I was game..

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I started out by making a pink camo cake and frosted it with milk chocolate frosting as you can see above. (when I make cakes, the cake itself usually matches the theme of the outside) I smoothed out the frosting to form a clean edge.

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After I frosted the cake, I placed it in the refrigerator to harden the frosting a bit and get it nice and cold. I then gathered the necessary supplies to make the chocolate cage. I rolled out parchment paper and measured it to the width of each of my layered cakes. I then took a ruler and measured the height of each layered cake and drew a line across the parchment paper to form the top of where I wanted the chocolate to go. I decided one inch higher than the cake top to form a nice border around the edges since I knew I wasn't going to add anymore frosting.

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I also purchased some sprinkles and pearls for some added BLING which I sprinkled on once the cake was put together and added the pearl candies to the edging around the top layer....

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Candy Melts.. This is what I used to make the chocolate cage. The cake photos I saw online and on Pinterest used semi sweet chocolate but I knew I didn't want the cage to be brown since I was frosting the cake with chocolate frosting.

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After I formed the line and made the parchment paper the right size I melted the chocolate according to package instructions and placed it into a Wilton frosting bag. I cut the tip off to form a small hole and went to town making circular designs making sure not to make them too thin and to overlap to cause the cage to assemble together.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE:
If you are using Candy Melts like I did.. Be advised. This stuff hardens quickly!! I thought I had time to make both layers since one bag of candy melts was more than enough to make both cages. By the time I got back to the first chocolate cage to place it on the cake it was already hardening... fast... So I would advise to do one layer at a time and then place the frosting bag with the candy melts back in the microwave for 20 seconds on 50% to remelt it.

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Then very carefully wrap it around the cake. DO NOT MOVE IT! Line it up where you want it before placing it against the frosting. It will break if you try to shift it. The paper as you can see above literally comes right off and I had no issue with the chocolate sticking to it when I removed it.

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Here you can see it all put together on the cake layers...

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I decided to add a little extra to the cake. On a separate sheet of parchment paper, I wrote a 2.. and a 0... let it harden, then I flipped it over and retraced it so it was whole on both sides. I also added a couple little candy designs to go next to the numbers on the top. All made from the candy melts. I added a row of the pearl candies around the top layer and the cake is done..

This was a fairly simple cake to make and it looks like you spent a ton of time making it.. I'm sure you will get some nice compliments when making this.. I can't wait now to show it to my daughter for her birthday tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Quilted by Christmas by Jodie Bailey

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Quilted by Christmas
Abingdon Press (October 21, 2014)
by
Jodie Bailey


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A note from the Author: Well, I’m a regular ol’ person. Who just happens to write. A lot. Probably more than I should. I firmly believe that God created me to be a writer. From the time I learned how to string letters together into words I’ve been making up stories. Believe me… I have a very rich imagination. I used to think I was weird; now I know God just put me together that way. I can’t even watch commercials without expanding them into stories in my head. I am humbled and honored all at the same time that God looked down from heaven on me and said, “Jodie, do what you love.” Wow… how awesome is that?


I have always loved to write. I have stories that I wrote when I was in first grade. I used to sit at my grandmother’s yellow electric typewriter for hours, banging out my own little stories. When I was eleven, she bought me a typewriter of my own (It was 1984, okay?) and I would write and write on it. I wrote stories out by hand, and they ran to hundreds of pages. I got my first computer when I was eighteen, and the first thing I did was write a story on it. I wrote for school. I wrote for fun. I wrote for my friends. I’d get them on the phone and make up stories for them. (I earned the nickname “Dreamweaver” for that one. Nobody calls me that anymore, but it still stands as the coolest nickname I ever had.)


My Thoughts on This Book:

WOW! Another fantastic Quilts of Love story.. Each one gets better and better. I just love how each author implements the use of a quilt. Pulling the story together one thread at a time. This story takes us to a small town in the mountains of North Carolina, just before Christmas. Taryn, a high school history teacher, is living life the way she feels was meant to be. Alone. After making a mess of her relationship with Justin, her high school sweet heart 12 years earlier, she feels her life is doomed to be lived alone. 

All she has is her wonderful grandmother, Jemma. After Jemma takes a tumble and lands in the hospital, Taryn has to pick up the pieces where her grandmother left off to put together a quilt for her cousin before she ties the knot with her fiance'. As the quilt pieces are put together, Taryn's life feels like it's coming unwound as her ex-boyfriend comes home and turns her life upside down.

Can Justin and Taryn, mend their relationship and put their pasts behind them to have a future together? You will want to know once you pick up the book. I couldn't put it down until the last page. Read it in one day it was that good! Can't wait to see what the next book is about in this Quilts of Love series...


ABOUT THE BOOK

Taryn McKenna believes she’s easy to forget. Abandoned by her parents and left behind when her high school sweetheart joined the army, she vows to never love again and throws herself into her love for the outdoors and the pursuit of a college degree—something no one else in her family has ever accomplished. Her goal, as a young teacher in the hills of North Carolina, is to leave a legacy in the lives of the middle-schoolers she teaches. When Taryn’s grandmother Jemma, the only other person who ever held her close, has a heart attack that reveals a fatal medical condition, Taryn is corralled into helping Grandma work on a final project—an Irish chain quilt that tells the story of her history and the love Jemma knows is out there for Taryn. As the pieces of the quilt come together, Taryn begins to see her value. Can she learn to believe that God will never leave her behind even though others have?


If you would like to read the first chapter of Quilted by Christmas, go HERE.

I have received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears

Cover Art 

A Bride in Store 
by Melissa Jagears

About the Book:

 Impatient to meet her intended groom and help him grow his general store, mail-order bride Eliza Cantrell sets out on her travels a week early. But her plan goes sadly awry when her train is held up by robbers who steal her dowry and Axel, her groom-to-be, isn't even in town when she finally arrives.

Axel's business partner, William Stanton, has no head for business and would much rather be a doctor. When his friend's mail-order bride arrives in town with no money and no groom in sight, he feels responsible and lets her help around the store--where she quickly proves she's much more adept at business than he ever will be.

The sparks that fly between Will and Eliza as they work together in close quarters are hard to ignore, but Eliza is meant for Axel and a future with the store, while Will is biding his time until he can afford medical school. However, their troubles are far from over when Axel finally returns, and soon both Will and Eliza must decide what they're willing to sacrifice to chase their dreams--or if God has a new dream in store for them both.

My Thoughts on This Book:

Loved how this picked up from her first book "A Bride for Keeps" but allowed it to stand on it's own. You were introduced to Eliza, her desire to own her own store after spending her childhood alongside her father and then managing her father's store when grown. After her father dies and leaves the store to her brother, Eliza needs to find a better life for herself. When she finds Axel, a bachelor in Kansas, who owns his own Men's Emporium, Eliza sees this as an answered prayer.

After arriving early and losing all her money, she meets Will, Axel's friend and business partner. Sparks fly between the two but kept at bay as she prepares to marry her groom as his mail order bride. Things go wrong and her life turns upside down. Can Eliza pick up the pieces and change course to better her life and find true love?

Fantastic read. You won't want to put it down until the end!

About the Author:
 
Melissa Jagears

Melissa Jagears, an ESL teacher by trade, is a stay-at-home mother on a tiny Kansas farm with a fixer-upper house. She's a member of ACFW and CROWN fiction marketing, and her passion is to help Christian believers mature in their faith and judge rightly. A Bride for Keeps is her first novel. Find her online at www.melissajagears.com.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Something New.. Something to Think On..

Turning 40 has shed a new light on my life. I've had so many things in the past that have defined who I am and I've held onto for many years because it was who I was. When I had my 40th birthday back in August, I started to re-evaluate my life. Hobbies, likes, dislikes, journey's, goals, dreams...

I made a huge revelation with my card crafting hobby back in September and liquidated all of my stuff. It felt great to set that part of my past free. All my supplies are gone now. In it's place is a brand new D.S.L.R camera so I can work more on my photography hobby. 

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That's not all my card crafting hobby gave me.. I also received a new double oven and a new dishwasher to help with my ever growing passion for cooking/baking..

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Isn't it beautiful! I've lived in my home over 7 years now and have been battling an oven that wouldn't keep the correct temperature. When I purchased this one, I fell in love. I now have two extra burners on top and a double oven so I can cook different temps at the same time or use both to double and even triple my batches and get more done in a smaller amount of time..

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My dishwasher was on the fritz. Some of the buttons didn't even work and the racks were falling apart. This was a dream come true as well to purchase this alongside the oven. It's so quiet and I can even set it up to run in the middle of the night if I want to. I'm officially spoiled!

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I was also able to purchase three more items. Two more to help in the kitchen and one to help with my fitness goals. I needed a new food processor since mine was well loved. Now that we are a full blown hunting family and have processed our own meat each deer season, we were in need of a good food saver so we can keep our meat fresh in our freezer.

Now that I've laid this 'defining thing' to bed, I'm able to really see who I am now and not who I was 17 years ago when I picked up the hobby. A lot has changed in the years of my marriage. It's nice to sit down once in awhile and look back on yourself and see if you are still on the correct path for your life.

God has blessed me in the ability to cook/bake and I'm loving that. He's given me the talents to make my own cakes for my family and love doing that too. He has also blessed me with the eye of photography and find passion to continue to pursue these gifts/talents. 

I also have some new loves that have come to light over the past few years. Hunting, fitness, health, and eating right. I have a passion for all of these and look forward to working on building them up in my life.

I'm now coming to blogging. Why am I blogging? What am I getting out of blogging? I've been blogging since 2005. I started blogging to find an outlet from being a stay at home mother, homeschooling two young boys and I was alone. Of course, I had my wonderful husband but the days were long and lonely when he was at work and I was home taking care of two young boys and also worrying a lot over my daughter and my very tasking court custody with my ex husband.. 

Life has surely changed with this situation as well. My daughter will be 20 on Halloween, and my two boys are no longer little.. My oldest son is now 15 and my youngest will be turning 13 in December. When I started blogging for an outlet, my life was different then. It has changed a lot over the years. At one point I was blogging to share my homeschooling experiences but my family dynamic has changed there as well, with one child in college now, the other in public school and homeschooling only one now. Not much to talk about there anymore.

I also loved to review books and share my findings on my blog. I still do that but I've cut back dramatically because my passion to read all the time has changed as well. I find using my time in different ways more satisfying than a book on the couch. I do love to read now but I'm limiting my selections and picking my books more carefully.

So with that, I'm re-evaluating the reasons behind my blog. What I want to get out of it and where do I want to take it. So with that, I'm going to be thinking about the direction I would like to see my blog go. More personal posts, more informational posts, etc..

What are your thoughts on what you'd like to see in my blog? Sometimes I wonder if anyone is really reading my posts. I've had my blog for years and only very few ever leave comments... Am I leaving an impact in the cyber world? Should I continue or let it go? That's the question!!

We will see here soon as I look over my options and see where God wants to take me and my blog..