DIY Birthday Cakes for Your Kids

I love a good DIY project and decorating cakes is a hobby that makes me happy so putting those together is fun for me!

About half way through the mess of baking, I tend to remember that Costco and Sam’s both sell 1/2 sheet cakes for less than $20.

But, alas, my kids like for me to bake and decorate their birthday cakes and that makes me happy.  It is a labor of love and actually quite fun to see their ideas come to life!  The delight that they get from them is worth every minute.  They really are truly excited and appreciative.

For this year, my twins asked for two totally different cake styles.  Apparently when you turn eight, it is no longer cool to share a theme.  My cat lover wanted a cake with “tangled up cats.”  My horse lover wanted a pasture scene with horses.

Although I have an excellent home made white cake recipe, I went straight to Wal-Mart to aisle 9 and picked up my favorite boxed white cake mix.  You just cannot go wrong with this one!

For the chocolate cake, I used this devil’s food mix.  I am not a chocolate lover but apparently it is yummy.

I only have one set of round pans and one rectangular cake pan, so I helped the girls to decide that is just what we needed to have the perfect cakes.  The power of persuasion was strong.

So, after a morning of baking, cooking, and leveling the cakes, we were ready!

I used a basic Wilton frosting recipe for the white cake and this chocolate buttercream recipe for the other.  It is the best chocolate one that I’ve tried.   Yummm!

My cat lover is also a foodie.  She loved the strawberry cream cheese filling that I had used on her daddy’s birthday cake so she requested it for her own.  It is really, really good and takes a cake from basic to amazing.

I let the girls choose a set of Toobs to use for the figures on their cakes.  This was like a little gift before the birthday and they put A LOT of thought into just which ones to get.

You really can’t go wrong with “tangled up cats.”  This was super easy to decorate. To make the yarn balls, I covered a bouncy ball and a marble with icing.  This worked well but kept me on my toes at the party to make sure that they got removed before becoming a choking hazard!

It was a bit more fun to decorate the horse cake.  I would have really liked to add a fence  (my idea was to use pretzels and icing) but she insisted that her horses were free roaming. 😉

Overall, we had a really good time with these. It was worth the effort and I felt a bit like superwoman as they oooohed and aaahhhed over the results!

They are already planning for next year!






What is a CSA and Why I love them

Last week, I collected the veggies from my garden.  Count them…..two sugar snap peas and three tomatoes.  I ate them slowly and savored every bite.


We do try to have a small garden.  We manage to grow enough mint and rosemary to put it into every dish.  However, that just wasn’t cutting it!  I want fresh veggies.  A friend recently told me about a CSA in our community.  I had done a little research in the past about the local CSA’s in my area but didn’t pursue it further.

Today I received my first box.  As soon as I posted this picture on  Facebook, a question and answer session began!

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So….what is a CSA?

CSA stands for community supported agriculture.  What does that mean?

It means that you pledge to support a local farmer’s business by buying his produce throughout the season.

Some CSA’s require that members work some hours each month on the farm. Others do not.  That’s the one I chose. 😉

I just get all happy knowing the my food that is on my table tonight was grown and picked by a local farmer and that by purchasing it, I have also helped that family.

If you’d like to find a CSA in your area, I think this post from the Department of Agriculture will help you to get started on your search.

Now the next question: What ever will I do with all those peppers?


An Attempt to Kick the Soda Addiction

I love Coke, the real thing. 🙂  I would really like to kick that habit (addiction) and am trying to be more health conscience.  Study after study has shown that drinking water can not only help with overall health, but can help significantly with weight loss.  I know this…..why don’t I do it?  For me, it is that water is so ….boring?  It’s disappointing when my mouth is all ready for something yummy and then….water.   But that’s no excuse! 🙂

Tape, Apple, Glas, Water, Blue, Diet

I don’t let the girls have soft drinks (hypocrite, I know.)  They always have water or juice.  To make it a little more enticing for all of us to drink more water, we have added a little trick.  After reading about how others were making their water more “interesting” by infusing it with fruit, we decided to give it a try.


I used this diffuser from Walmart and added some yummy fruits to try it out this week.  I put it into my beverage dispenser so that the girls could easily serve themselves.  I added a cute little chalkboard sign that said “Drink up!”

I think it did encourage us all to drink more water.  The mint and strawberries added a lot of flavor.  The blueberries didn’t help with flavor so much but they looked good (and we have enough blueberries to spare.)  I do suggest making it ahead of time and keeping it in the fridge for a while to let the flavor strengthen.  Also, the colder, the better in my opinion.

I first got this idea from MoneySavingMom (thanks to Jesse, her husband) and she also has multiple links to some great looking recipes.  I’ve since researched for other recipes and found some awesome ones at Wellness Mama.

Many people make a mason jar of infused water for a single serving.  This article at has some awesome images and recipes. I do think that when my water looks amazing it makes me want to drink it!  I think I will have to take it up a knotch because some people are just going all out!  Just beautiful!

Mineral Water With Strawberries, Strawberry, Ice, Drink

Do you have recipes to share for make your water more interesting?  If so, I’d love for you to share.

Drink up!