Best Evahhh Chocolate (cup)Cake Recipe

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It is so hard, if not impossible to pass up a really good slice of chocolate cake or chocolate cupcake!  It just so happens, that I have a dear friend that waxes poetic about chocolate being a food group of it’s own and hesitates not in having a cupcake for a meal… breakfast, lunch or dinner!  And, hey I ain’t namin’ names Barbara, no sir-ee I will not; not this time!

My favorite chocolate cake recipe is from the back of the can of HERSHEY’S Cocoa.  This is my standard go to recipe for chocolate cake and/or cupcakes, it is quick and easy to pull together and doubles just fine.  The only change I make is to substitute the water with the same amount of coffee.  The coffee enhances the richness of the chocolate perfectly!  We love it in layers…

 

Or as cupcakes…

 

I like to use the frosting recipe that is also on the can of HERSHEY’S Cocoa and I don’t change a thing.  Whether used as a cake, cupcakes or cakepops this recipe rocks!  Ok, I need to go find some chocolate now….and I know just who to call.

— Deedee


No Bake Cookies

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I pinned a recipe on Pinterest recently which is originally from www.angelastrand.com, as soon as I saw it I was attracted to it.. first it’s no bake and second, it has coconut in it…anything with coconut is fantastic and these cookies certainly lived up to that!   I tweaked the recipe just a little bit by using half white chocolate bits and half semi-sweet chocolate bits and by adding a dash of cinnamon.

These were quick and easy and they are so very good.  They hit the spot for this chocolate craving woman!  What are you waiting for…run to your kitchen and whip these up, you won’t be sorry!

 

— Deedee


Gotta Love a Front Porch

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I have always loved my front porch.  Just sitting and listening to the birds whether it be morning with coffee or evening with something else …. it is so peaceful.  I was at Ikea in the middle of this past winter with my niece and we came across their LIL curtains.  These are extra wide and extra long and and come 2 panels in a package for $4.99 (I know you just fell over)…we both said at the same time they would be perfect for a porch, so we both purchased some.  I bought five packages, 10 panels along with a couple packages of ikea curtain wire to hang them.   I have had these tucked away in a drawer in my sewing room since January-ish, often dreaming of how it may look after I hand them…but no more dreaming, today was the day to hang them! I love using the curtain wire from Ikea, it is fairly quick to install and easy peasy to use; it has so many uses.  I used this curtain wire to hang the fort curtains on the bunk bed in the Mario room I posted not long ago. You will need a drill and 6 flat top tapered screws for each curtain wire.  I don’t understand why Ikea doesn’t include the screws, it would really make life easier.

The wire is 197″ long so you can really cover a good sized area or cut it with wire snips for a smaller area. With one extra piece which is sold separately, you can go around a corner with it too.  Unfortunately, I didn’t measure right and need to go back for another wire set..ho hum.. At least it did go up easy…this is the first piece

This is my porch before the curtains and a bit of tjuzsing..(yes that’s a word)

Now after..

  and

It feels so cozy when I sit there now…I cannot wait to get the end curtain up…

I love the texture of the panels…they are kind of a netting look.  I hope it will reduce the hornet and mosquito activity on the porch a bit…

Oh and the entire time I was working out there I had a Momma Robin screeching at me because she built her next here:

I still have to complete the other side of the porch…but her nest in on the porch light on that side so I may just wait until her little ones hatch and learn to fly away…

 

— Deedee


What’s for Dinner?

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It’s the dreaded daily question isn’t it?  I am not a planner, never been good at that.  Daily as the clock draws nearer to the dinner hour, my palms get a little sweaty, I get that little panicky feeling that a non-planner gets when she is expected to have a meal on the table and has no idea what to make.   Oh how I admire the people who can plan, like my friend Sue.  Sue makes a meal plan for each week and writes her grocery list based on the ingredients she will need.  The first time I saw her do this, I was amazed that someone could actually be so organized!  It just isn’t me, I am right brained, creative, unorganized and stress at thought of a schedule.  My style is more of the mad dash style….what should I make and what, oh what, do I have that I can pull together that doesn’t look like I just pulled it together?  The other day, right around 4p.m. I started my dash.  I found, ground meat (yes it’s turkey, but please don’t tell my husband or daughter, I have to tell them it’s beef…I will save that story for another blog entry), half a bag of shredded cheese, a tomato, lettuce, half an onion, pinto beans, cumin (lots of cumin to hide the color of the turkey) and 2 flour tortillas.  Now to pull it together of course I thought of tacos but with only 2 tortillas, what could I do…?

I swear there is a mile high pile of lettuce under there!  To make the shells I found two similarly sized pyrex like bowls and turned them upside down on a parchment lined baking sheet then brushed them very lightly with olive oil (you could use cooking spray) I then draped one tortilla over each bowl, again lightly brushing the outside of the tortilla with olive oil and lightly sprinkling some of my favorite spices around them.  I based the size of the bowl on the size of my tortillas so that they would drape to the bottom of the bowl.  I baked the shells in the oven at 350 until they were lightly browned and crispy.   After cooling, I filled them with lots of lettuce along with tomato and onion, a spoonful of pinto beans and my cumin seasoned ground meat, cheese, olives and salsa.   I didn’t even feel guilty eating the baked shell!  Now I am thinking, what if I used a cookie cutter and made the tortilla pieces smaller and draped them using an overturned muffin pan?  Endless possibilities are popping into my head right now, appetizer sized taco salads, meatball bowls topped with parmesan cheese or before baking sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar and when cooled fill with ice cream, warm fruit, pudding or ……….?? I can’t tell you what I will fill mine with next time, that would be planning and as good as my intentions might be…I’ll just say I know who I am…

What would you put in your tortilla shell?

— Deedee


Yard Sale!

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I have decided that this year is going to be my year of great yard sale finds.  Even more than finding a bargain, I love the hunt for the perfect piece.  There is nothing like the feeling of finding just the right item and grabbing it before someone else recognizes it’s beauty.  Oh but let’s not be fooled, beauty is in the eye of the beholder isn’t it?  One person’s trash is another person’s treasure and all those old sayings.  But, isn’t it true?  I can point something out to my daughter saying ohhhhhh look at this, all I would have to do is paint it or wouldn’t it look great if I put it in a certain room  ….  and she looks at it all I can see is that disapproving highly lifted eyebrow while she belts our a resounding NO!  Sometimes I do take her advice and walk away and other times I say ohhhh you’ll see, once I touch it up or re-purpose it, repair it or re-do it, you will love it… and sometimes she actually does!  Honestly though, I know this is my year of great finds, I can just feel it!  Look what I found today…

Isn’t she pretty? I love the detail of the caned back…

The curved arm…

It tilts, it rolls, it’s in great condition! Now I have to decide if I should paint it a shabby chic slightly distressed white or leave it as is and just clean it up. I know whichever way this will be the most fabulous chair for my home office.

What would you do with it? Paint it or leave it? If you painted it what color would you use?  I could see it in a black, a grey, a light green…the options are endless, aren’t they? Oh, and the price, $10!  I almost fell over, I couldn’t even offer her less!!  It is by far a great first yard sale find of the year!!

What have you found so far?

 

 

— Deedee


When is a Bunkbed not a Bunkbed?

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When it’s a fort!  I have two guest rooms in my home and one has been officially named the “Mario” room by our grandchildren, Aiden (7) and Olivia (5).   I found and ordered some wall decals from Amazon that I used on the walls to create the Super Mario themed room as requested by Aiden.   It took me well over 6 months to finally decorate the room with them, but when I did, it was easy peasy, kids love it and they look great!  Here is how we did it:

First, we washed the walls…yes “we” (why, I asked them should Gram have all the fun?)… and they actually didn’t hate doing it.

Then we put up the decals…. and then

finished the second wall, put together the bunkbeds and added curtains from Ikea

Now, to the Fort….

I purchase a twin size duvet cover for $12.99 from Ikea and used just half of it to sew up two curtains of equal size.   We then attached them to the inside of the top bunkie boards using a handy hanging system from (yup again) Ikea. I love Ikea; can you tell? Using the duvet cover was less expensive than purchasing another set of curtains and I have so much left over I can make pillows or pillow cases or both!  The room is coming together and our grandchildren love it.  It is cozy during the day…

or night….

I purchased some wall scones with clouds on them for each bunk at Ikea and placed them at a height each child could reach as they love reading just before falling asleep.  They are such cute lights and the clouds on them remind me of the Super Mario game.  I still want to make an area rug for the floor (I have some ideas but not sure how to make them work yet) and paint with chalkboard on the wall you can’t see in the photos.  Is a room ever really done? Maybe not, but this one is good to go for now and the grandkids love their fort… Aiden suggested I think about making and hanging curtains from the ceiling for the top bunk too….yup, I was thinking the same thing!!  I might have to teach them to sew!

 

— Deedee


Itty Bitties

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I opened my fridge today and was visually reminded that I had leftovers from a recent cake-pop order to use up.  I immediately thought small, and well, big…big idea, small results, which I will fondly call, itty bitties,….tiny little cake-pops…why not?  They aren’t fancy (give me time)..but I do like them.  I like the size, they are cute and I felt much less guilt eating them than the bigger cake-pops.  I think there is a place for these in the world of dessert.  See for yourself..aren’t they adorably sized?

I replaced the lollipop sticks with toothpicks and made the balls much smaller, maybe 3/4″ or so.  One bite or two, these Itty Bitties are just the right size to enjoy without much guilt (and a fresh cup of coffee)!

Oh, and yes,  I ate the ones in the photo above…vanilla with vanilla buttercream and chocolate with vanilla cinnamon buttercream… they were yummy… uh, someone had to do it for the sake of the photo!  Oh the sacrifices….

 

— Deedee


I can’t believe I just figured this out!

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You may already have done this, but it is new to me!  My family loves my meatloaf, meatballs, etc.. but I HATE mixing all the ingredients with my hands, I just don’t like to touch raw meat.  My Mum always mixed it by hand and never complained about it which make me feel like I might be whining about something so small, but maybe it isn’t small at all;.  Perhaps there are lots of you out there that feel like I do…raw meat…ewwwww!  You would think that food safe gloves would be on my shopping list at all times, but I honestly never remember to look for them when I shop.  I have in desperation used my stand mixer, and it works great sans extra clean up it requires.   So………… after staring down my meatloaf mixture, pre-mixing, the other day, it came to me!  Hefty, Hefty, Hefty….yes a gallon sized zipping plastic bag!

I placed all the ingredients in the bag, squeezed out all the air and sealed it!  Once sealed I just squished and mixed to my hearts content and you know what, it worked!  I am so excited that I will never have to touch this meat mix again….not have to worry about cross contamination…at least when I make meatloaf!  Look how nicely it mixed up….

Tell me now, I can take it…. did you already know this bag trick?  If not, how do you currently mix up ground meat mixtures?

By the way, the recipe I use for my meatloaf is here.  I always tweek the recipe one way or another, but one thing never changes, I always top it with a coating of ketchup and a good sprinkling of parmesan cheese prior to baking, just like my Mum did.

Enjoy your clean hands!!

— Deedee


An Addiction?

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Yes, I am talking about Pinterest.  Are you with me on this one?  Honestly I was just going to be quick on the computer this time, just check email and then go be productive (did you just chuckle?).   I am struggling with that thing, you know, the inner voice…..stop, get up, turn it off, you have things to do and places to be, the cat is hungry!  Ok, ok, I’ll stop pinning…wait, oh look at that, I have to pin it and learn how to make it and oh yum, gooey brownies and watermelon pops…PIN!  I am laughing as I pen this because I know I must sounds so silly, how can someone just want to browse a bulletin board for so long (hours and hours?), but I know I cannot be alone, it isn’t possible…RIGHT?  I need some reassurance here…shout out if you, like me, feel you might need a Pintervention!

On the serious side, not that addiction isn’t serious, there are so many ideas and so many wonderful people willing to share their knowledge and experiences it hard to pull away from it and actually work on a project, isn’t it?  Maybe I will set my kitchen timer to limit my time.  How do you do it?

Do you have a favorite area of interest that you find yourself pinning the most?  I just noticed yesterday that I pin A LOT of things to my FOOD Board….oh that reminds me, I need to go start something for dinner! This definately calls for

 

— Deedee


Chair Re-do

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One of the things I love to do is visit estate sales, yard sales and re-sale shops.  If you can look beyond current condition and the current purpose of things you can find great treasures! The one thing I won’t buy is anything musty or with mold on it, I always give items the sniff test in several places before purchasing.  When “sniffing” I often find people looking at me oddly, but I don’t think you can really kill mold or clean the piece sufficiently for an allergy household.

At one estate sale I visited I was lucky enough to spot a 1960’s (ish) french country table and chair set at a reasonable price (and then haggle a bit for an even better price) and have finally set out to “re-do” it.  I needed a chair for a guestroom of ours that was named “the princess room” by my 5 year old granddaughter as it has lots of pink and whimsy in it and decided to use one of the chairs from the set I purchased.  Here is the before photo…

As lovely as it is in it’s current 1960’s circa color I decided to give it a more modern look with a dark gray paint.  I also purchased a hot pink thick wale corduroy to recover the seat.  I had my reservations about re-covering the seat since it has curved areas and I had never done a seat before this project…but hey, hard doesn’t mean impossible and if you think you can..well give it a go!   Here is the after photo:

Oh that doesn’t look like corduroy you say?  Bingo!  So, this is what I learned…don’t use wide wale corduroy on your first try at creating a curvy seat cover with cording around the edge, because if you do you will break all your currently owned sewing machine needles in less than 10 minutes!  Not to mention that it was so thick in the corners I couldn’t see what I was doing!   After taking a frustration break and replenishing my needle supply,  I remembered I had purchased some softer pink burlap at one of my favorite fabrics stores, where everything is $1.99 a yard!   Ahhhh, this fabric was much much easier to work with.  I used the same seat that was on the chair after removing the old fabric and adding a new layer of batting to give it extra cushion.   I am very happy with the way it turned out and LOVE it in “the princess room”…now if I could just finish the room itself…distractions be gone!

 

— Deedee