Monthly Archives: September 2013

That Time “Being a Cheerleader” Made Me The Best Baker Ever

This post has a whole lot of things in it. I’m just warning you now. And I’m sure that this title probably makes you think I’m overestimating myself.

But you guys, I’m totally not, because LOOK AT WHAT I DID!!

Yeah, I made this. In real life. And guess what? It was flipping delish.

Yeah, I made this. In real life. And guess what? It was flipping delish.

Now you’re curious aren’t you? I just bet you are. And guess what friends, I’m here to tell you THAT YOU CAN DO THIS! And it’s easy. And you’ll wow all your friends. And everyone will call you Martha Stewart. And then you will take over the world. Or go to jail. Tough call really.

Anywho, I was inspired by one lovely amazing Speedway Motors employee (thank you Carol!) who had brought this cake into the office and she promised me it was easy and gave me the frosting recipe and encouraged me and said other nice things that made me believe it was possible for this non baker to succeed at something so outlandishly out of my reach.

So I bought an icing kit thing-a-ma-jig (from IKEA – total win for frugality). And some cake pans. And I waited for the perfect opportunity to attempt such a feat.

And then it happened. My amazing new roommate moved into my house and that just seemed like the perfect occasion to bake a cake! I mean, if you moved in a house and your new roommate was all “Hey, welcome to the house, I baked you something amazing” – you’d just know the partnership was going to be an instant success right? Absolutely. And because I was concerned I was going to catch the house on fire burn the cake, I made sure that New Guy could come over to supervise me.

Step one: Bake Cake. Pick the flavor you want (I’m plain, so I went with white). You need two pans (same size) and one box of cake (lesson: you don’t need a box of cake for each pan… #oops). Follow directions on box. Yes, making the cake is actually that easy and then you end up with these guys…

Awe, this guy came out perfectly. It's twin brother didn't fare so well. Whoops. Cool news, you just cover these suckers with frosting... no one would ever know!

Awe, this guy came out perfectly. It’s twin brother didn’t fare so well. Whoops. Cool news, you just cover these suckers with frosting… no one will ever know!

While those guys are cooling… it’s time to make the frosting! The recipe comes straight off of Food.com and it’s White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened (no subs)
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 ounces white chocolate or 6 ounces white baking bar, melted and cooled
  • 3 -5 tablespoons whipping cream or 3 -5 tablespoons half-and-half

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners sugar at low speed until fluffy.
  2. Add in melted and cooled white chocolate and whipping cream (start with 3 tablespoons and add in more to achieve desired consistency).
  3. Beat on high speed for 3-4 minutes, scraping the bowl with a spatula.

Yes, it’s literally that easy. We made 1 1/2 times the amount… because we thought 3 and 1/2 cups may not be enough? And we were glad we did! So you end up with a whole amazing tub of this:

This $5 hand mixer is literally the best money I've spent. Maybe ever. But most definitely all of 2013.

This $5 hand mixer is literally the best money I’ve spent. Maybe ever. But most definitely all of 2013.

And then you cut the cake. Wait, what? Yes. Cut the cake. Before you frost it. It’s to make the top of the cake flat so that the second layer doesn’t slide off the first layer… Genius. And luckily, my genius roommate was at home to teach me how to use the handy tool that came with the frosting kit!

Get excited. I think you'll be seeing this girl on the blog rather often!

Get excited. I think you’ll be seeing this girl on the blog rather often!

Because really, if you saw this tool, would you have instinctively known that it was made to slice off the top of a cake? Let me just answer that for you. No. No you wouldn’t.

We can all take a moment here to appreciate how funny it is that THIS GIRL owns cake making supplies. Happy sigh.

We can all take a moment here to appreciate how funny it is that THIS GIRL owns cake making supplies. Happy sigh.

P.s. Happy note. Those little cake shavings are a really great way to test your cake. You know, just to make sure it’s not poisonous for when you serve it. It’s selfless of you to try it. You’re such a giver. Making sure everyone will enjoy it. High five you.

Once your cakes are nice and cooled and sliced and diced. You’re ready to start frosting. Take bottom cake, frost the whole thing, put second layer on and frost that whole puppy as well. Basically this step evens out any imperfections the cake has… and gives something for the piped frosting to sit and adhere to!

Bottom cake & top cake with a nice overlay of frosting!

Bottom cake & top cake with a nice overlay of frosting!

Aren’t you so excited? See, old Betsy would have thought “okay, the cake is done.” Because really, it looks sort of nice – and if you were using store-bought frosting, you’d be out. But NEW Betsy was super ready to make it look amazing. So out comes the piping bag. And here’s where being a cheerleader somewhere in my former life comes into play. Those hours and hours of making locker signs and swirls in puff paint and glitter… REALLY pays off. All you do with your piping bag is add this pattern over and over on the cake.

Why yes, I did design this in paint just for you all. I've got mad paint skills.

Why yes, I did design this in paint just for you all. I’ve got mad paint skills.

I’m sure there’s somewhere you’re supposed to start on the cake, but I just sort of went and it turned out just fine!

Swirl. Swirl. Swirl. Swirl...

Swirl. Swirl. Swirl. Swirl…

Did you want to see it one more time? Yes? Okay fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine I’ll show you the final product again!

This time with a fancy filter! I know, I know,  my pictures leave a little bit to be desired, someday I'll become Smitten Kitchen... until then, you'll have to settle for Instagram.

This time with a fancy filter! I know, I know, my pictures leave a little bit to be desired, someday I’ll become Smitten Kitchen… until then, you’ll have to settle for Instagram.

And let me tell you what, it wowed the pants off people. Because it was not only beautiful, but tasty delicious as well. Like eating a stick of butter… (or six)…

I adore this cake.

Other things I adore?

Having people in the kitchen with me to laugh through my absolute confusion on the little things and to encourage and guide me. And then laugh some more. I’m telling you, this new roommate is going to be awesome. We’re totally on the path to becoming best friends (too soon?!).

Last great thing? While The Roommate (should we call her that?) and I were laughing and bonding in the kitchen, New Guy set up my internet so it wasn’t the gobbly-gook that internet company guy set. I mean, really, who on earth needs a password with 16 letters and numbers in it? That’s just messy and hard. And without any input from us, he named our network this:

I died.

I died.

I mean, how well does he know me? And also, HOW FLIPPING GREAT IS THAT?! High five New Guy. Sets my internet up, offered to build me shelves (look forward to that in a later post) and although he’s deathly allergic to my dog, still comes over to hang out with me. All while putting up with my mediocre cooking efforts. We’ll keep him.

(Note: if you haven’t seen Pitch Perfect, please go now and watch it. Right now. Okaygreatthanks.)

I’m more than happy to share the password with you if you come to visit. It’s clever too. And if you’re really lucky, maybe I’ll bake you an amazing cake too.

I’m feeling pretty daring and confident right now. Anything else there I should try? I’m accepting suggestions… you know, now that I’m a professional baker! Okay, okay, a mildly decent baker who has the ability to follow directions…

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Rubber Shoes, Blisters and Adventure

Today’s funny story is all about how one very clumsy and klutzy* girl attempted to learn rock climbing.

And by rock climbing, I mean boudlering. Which is still rock climbing, only with no ropes. You just scale up the wall like a little monkey.

Let me just set the tone of this blog post with a little picture here:

I mean, I know I'm making this look flawless, but dear Lord, this was HARD.

I mean, I know I’m making this look flawless, but dear Lord, this was HARD.

See all those little tiny things on the wall? THOSE ARE WHAT YOU ATTEMPT TO HOLD ALL OF YOUR BODY WEIGHT WITH BY STANDING ON.

How, pray tell, did I decide to take on this really random adventure? Great question.

Well, as every good adventure story begins… there’s this boy I like that rock climbs. Queue laughter. So in my head, I dream up this genius plan of secretly learning how to rock climb and surprising him with being awesome at some later date (maybe for his birthday?). So I bought a groupon. I think I’m going to learn all about ropes. And then I’m going to just scale up the wall. Because how hard can that be? Oh, and random, yet important side note: I have a paralyzing fear of heights.

So I get there, I put on a pair of rubber shoes. And the adventure begins.

First: The lady tells me where to put my hands and feet… and I think “I’m sorry, you think that tiny tiny little piece of fake rock is going to hold THIS? Lady. Come on.”

Next: She tells me to move my right foot to the rock currently holding my left foot. Which, trust me, there’s not room. But there was no need to doubt, she just quickly explained that all I had to do was swing my right foot and as that foot is nearing the one already on the rock you just quickly remove your left and replace with your right. Like magic. Because floating momentarily in the air is eaaaaaaaaaaasy.

After the first little path was completed, I laugh to myself because my arms are shaking, my legs are feeling the burn and my hands are on fire. Which, after looking down at them I realize is because I have peeled off layers of skin. Ah, because as you climb, you’re supposed to use chalk. Got it. So my very nice tiny little trainer lady puts super glue on the blisters (no, I don’t understand it either) wraps my hands, shows me where the chalk is and we move to the next location.

Where we climb up.

Now, nothing in the gym is higher than 15 feet. Because you’re not using ropes. And from the ground, that just doesn’t look very high. And using these tiny tiny little rocks, I manage to climb all the way to the top on this path (see photo). And I’m pretty proud of myself.

Which is about the time I realize that I have to use these tiny little things to climb back down. I get that logically, 15 feet down just isn’t that far, but that paralyzing fear of heights I mentioned, that makes 15 feet down look absolutely unreasonable. So I very carefully make my way down and then laugh at myself when I get to the ground and look back up at the little tiny climb I’d made.

I learned a couple of other routes, I practiced until I could basically not use my arms any more and I left covered in sweat, chalk, blisters on my hands and with every limb shaking.

And here’s what I realized: It was hard. Really hard. Like, I’m never going to be great at this hard. And this whole surprise idea was the worst idea I’ve ever had.

And that’s okay.

Because now I know how to do it. I appreciate the people who do this for fun all the more. And every once and awhile I’ll go and I’ll know what’s happening and I won’t hate that I don’t know what I’m doing. At some point, the blisters will heal (probably) and my arms will quit throbbing (seriously, I didn’t know some of these painful areas of my body existed) and with my one month membership, I’ll go again. Who knows, maybe I’ll magically fall in love with it in the next three weeks? Okay. Fine. You’re right. I totally won’t.

And if you’re wondering, I totally immediately caved and I drove straight to the boys house to show him my blisters and to tell him that although I like him a whole lot… I’m just never going to share the love of his favorite hobby with him. He laughed and then brushed off the chalk covering my face and assured me that I don’t need to be an expert rock climber. Sigh. What a guy.

Oh – and in other outdoorsy irrational Betsy idea news… I bought skis this week. Because I plan to be a skiing fool this year. Which, I hope you all read and thought “well, there’s bound to be a good blog post about THAT.” Because, yes, you’re absolute right. Ski Bunny Betsy… here we come!

Colorado, you sneaky sneaky state, you just continue to grow on me. Who knows, maybe I will fall in love with you yet!

*My spell check is trying to let me know I’ve spelled this word wrong and that I meant to type “slutty.” Thank you auto correct. But no thank you.

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How to Meet Your Neighbors

The answer is simple.

Throw a garage sale.

No seriously, that’s all you have to do.

Keep in mind that throwing a garage sale means: having enough stuff, advertising it, putting up signs, standing in your front yard for like 9 hours and then having a plan for what to do with the stuff that DOESN’T sell. OR you find someone else with enough stuff, let them do all the pre-work and clean-up work and you just provide the yard. Which is the path I took.

And stuff there was!

Stuff. Stuff. More stuff.

Stuff. Stuff. More stuff.

I’d never experienced the joy of haggling with all of the really random strangers that come to the front yard. It was great.

But truly – the best part was meeting my lovely and adorable neighbors. They were all SO nice. Wanted to know my story (which I LOVE) and generally cared about making sure I enjoyed my time on the street. And now, every time I leave the house, I can say hello to them when they are out and about in their front yards. Which is the BEST. FEELING. EVER.

And one of them invited me over for wine on her front porch.

Which, is just about the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world. SOMEONE WANTS TO BE MY FRIEND!

And after the garage sale, I had only about enough energy to shower, throw on leggings and a t-shirt, drive to get a slushie (always an instant pick me up) on the way to the boys house and then nap. Because just standing in your front yard talking to strangers and moving things around – is EXHAUSTING.

So to those of you that do this whole garage sale mess on the regular – hats off to you.

And to those of you that are alone-ish in a new city and want to feel like you have protective people surrounding you. Get out there. Meet your neighbors. Throw a garage sale! Or, go the traditional route and bake them something.

You know, whatever works!

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