Sunday, March 15, 2015

When It All Starts Falling Apart

I turned 50 last month.  There, I admitted it.  Actually, I'm not that bothered by it.  It really is just a number.  However, it's undeniable that when age catches up, things start to fall apart.  It's a good thing I'm not talking about myself.

It's my house.

Our house was built in 1997 and we moved in in 2002.  It was still pretty new then and we spruced it up when we moved in.  We painted it indoors and out and installed a pool fence (after this picture was taken).

We subsequently installed pavers in the front driveway and re-landscaped the backyard, removing the pool fence for our older kids.  We had a good thing going for a while.

Then we let it go.  We stopped investing so much in the house and invested more in the family - vacations, school, activities.  I don't regret it, but hell hath no fury than a house scorned.

At first it was little things we chased - the loss of two saguaros, a new roof surface, new pool filter, getting rid of some pesky rodents.  But we weren't keeping up and now we own an 18 year old home with emerging problems.  We need new flooring.  We need major plumbing work.  We need to repaint inside.  We need new kitchen appliances.  And the list goes on and on.

Now we're just in a place where we're not sure where to start.  Our inertia is crippling us, so the house is deciding for us.  I think the refrigerator/freezer has decided to go first.  It's been threatening to stop freezing and now this weekend it has given up.  Hopefully we don't have to give up on it just yet.

So while I can claim that 50 is just an age, the same philosophy doesn't seem to be working with our house.  I can pretend all day that 18 is the new 6 for the house, but the house isn't buying it.

Maybe it's time to consider a facelift.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Easter Peeps Cake

If you're not an expert baker or cake decorator (and I certainly am not either), you might think fancy cakes are impossible to make.  Here's one I created and it wasn't hard at all.  It's all about the color.

Here's what you need:

2 cake mixes (I used chocolate but you can use white or yellow)
Ingredients required by the cake mixes
3 tubs of white or cream cheese frosting (I like to have too much frosting instead of not enough)
Food coloring
Robin eggs candy
M& Ms in pastels
Optional coconut
9" round cake pans (you could probably use 8" too)

Prepare the cake mixes as directed on the box.  Instead of filling the cake pans, only fill them half way. Bake, but watch those cakes - it won't take as long as the box says to bake because you only have half the depth.  In the alternative to baking half the depth, you can bake a full size round and slice it long ways when it's frozen.  I am way too uncoordinated to try that!  You will need 4 thin round layers of cake.

If you used the method of baking thinner rounds, wait until your cake has cooled before removing it from the round pans.  Wrap each round in plastic wrap and freeze (or at least make very cold).  This will help you manipulate and decorate the cake easier.

Next, divide the 3 tubs of frosting evenly into four glass bowls.  Now it's time to start experimenting with color.  If you are not used to working with food coloring, I suggest you read the package to get an idea of the ratios of the respective colors.  However, be VERY careful in following the box instructions for how much dye to use for icing - they really tend to overdo the number of drops needed!  Keep the same ratio of the colors to be mixed, just don't use as much.  It's no fun to have your guests sitting there with dyed lips and tongues - yuck!

I managed to get pink, yellow, purple and blue with my dyes.  From there it was pretty easy.  I iced each layer with a different color, including between the layers.  Once my little rainbow was finished, I lined the outside with Peeps.  If you have trouble getting them to stay, use a little more frosting on the Peep.  I finished it off with robin's eggs, M&Ms and any other candy in pastel colors.  I ran out of time, but I wanted to dye a little coconut green (use only a drop of green food coloring and mix with coconut in a Ziploc bag) to make some grass for my eggs.

If you don't like all the color on the outside of the cake, you can do the same thing inside the cake by coloring the batter of a white cake.

So colorful, so springtime and so much fun!

Happy Easter!