Cake Diary Update: Devil Ate Victoria Cake

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So here are pictures of the cake I made today. I ended up spelling “Older than Dirt” with gummy worms. The marshmellow fluff icing turned out great. To make the dirt along the bottom, I added chocolate cookies to the cake scraps. 





Here are the recipes I used:

Marshmellow Fluff Icing

Devils Food Pudding Cake

Dark Chocolate Ganache

Cake Diary: Devil Ate Victoria

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I love to bake. I would bake everyday if I could. I truly enjoy any chance I get to bake. Cakes, like writing, and I have a love-hate relationship. I love planning them out and making th components, but by the end of it I am so over it that I have to force myself to eat the finished product. Okay, force is an exaggeration.

I love chocolate. I love it so much that I am learning how to balance it out. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing after all. I have been known to put so much chocolate into a cake that it hurts your teeth or leaves you slightly ill. Wimps. I’m working on it.

Our neighbour turned 50 yesterday and he likes baking almost as much as he likes eating chocolate desserts. So my present to him is a birthday cake. I have limited time, but I want to do something memorable. It is a special birthday so go big or go home, I say.

I have a four layer cake in mind, but as I baked the layers today, two of them are very fluffy so it might be six layers in the end. Gravity has me concerned slightly. Ah well, I will go for it. It will taste great. 

I am calling it a Devil Ate Victoria cake. It will be a Victoria Sponge cake sandwiched inside of a devil’s food pudding cake. I am hoping to alternate the layers with dark chocolate ganache and marshmellow fluff icing. I have not used marshmellow fluff before, but I have a jar of it that needs to get used. And the butter and powdered sugar icing I made this afternoon looks like curdeled egg whites so I struck out in that. 

Now, how to decorate it? I think I will make a ’50’ on top out of foil wrapped chocolate eggs. That is very typically Dutch for this time of year so I want to give a nod to the fact that he (a Canadian) is celebrating his 5-0 here. And I am thinking of decorating the base of the cake in crumbled chocolate cake that I will have from levelling off the layers. Then, I will have gummy worms crawling up the sides of this very tall cake. I want to temper some white chocolate spelling out “Older than dirt” and place that along the cakes sides, but that will be a first as well so we will see if it pans outs.

I took some short cuts this time around. I used box mixes for both the Victoria Sponge and Devil’s Food cakes. Yes, I admit it. I am not above box mixes. They are basically fail proof which is really important to me when making a cake for a special occasion limited time. I also added a packet of instant chocolate pudding to the Devil’s Food cake. And I will be using store bought marshmellow fluff. I have some great baking cookbooks and I even picked out recipes from them and bought the ingredients then shelved them and went for Betty (Crocker).

So…stay tuned. Pictures tomorrow.

Synchronicity: Truth to Birth Order

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I believe in synchronicity, meaningful coincidences. I believe that the universe keeps bringing lessons into your life until you learn them. It is kind if a cosmic do over. Thank God for that, I say.

I am starting to see myself in our youngest daughter, Wiglet, now just eight months old. She is the youngest. I was the youngest. I am a twin, but born minutes after my sister and we have an older sister. So I may be the youngest twice removed or something. 

For starters, Wiglet looks a lot like me as a baby. It is uncanny really. She is such a quiet baby. I am an introvert myself. 

Our oldest, is quite the opposite. Her extroversion is becoming more and more pronounced as her language(s) develop. She literally chats up whomever is sitting next to us on the tram. In Dutch, she starts in on the weather that day, the favorite pastime in this country. Amused, the man or woman responds and starts chatting to me. Soon I have to reveal that my Dutch just cannot keep up. Then E starts in telling this stranger about her day and I am left trying to explain this line of conversation that has dropped totally out of the blue. I wonder what it will be like once Wiglet starts speaking. I really must work on my Dutch.

My husband is also a first born, also an extrovert. It is no wonder he and E clash heads. Wiglet and I laugh amongst ourselves at the two of them battling it out at the end of the table during dinner. Our oldest, E, refuses to try new food. It is really a principle for her, I think. A power struggle.

E demands attention. I have to make a real effort to train my attention on Wiglet as she rocks herself on all fours and begins crawling. I cheer her on and her face breaks into a smile, beaming with pride. Wiglet is a sneaky little thing too. She uses her older sister as a diversion to get into whatever piques her curiosity at the moment. When you catch her at it, she just turns on a surprised smile. Maybe I am reading too much into it, though.

Here are photos of me as a baby and one of Wiglet taken last week. You be the judge.





Make up Makeover

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2014 did quite a number on my body in general and my face in particular. Turning 35 and my second pregnancy (and child) were the one-two punch that literally changed the playing field for me. Okay, enough sports metaphors. My skin is dryer, more wrinkly, and acne prone than ever. In my teens, at least I only had acne to deal with.

Being eight months postpartum with one more size left to drop does not help either. I am putting more emphasis on my face and hair since I am not satisfy with the rest of it. Only now do I realise how well my body bounced back after our first child. Hindsight is 20/20 and not helpful at all.

Before I went back to work in November, I got a facial and got talked into changing up my make up regime. I used to wash my face with baby bath soap then put in Olay of Olay with SPF followed by Maxfactor Facefinity Foundation along with mascara, eyeliner and eyeshadow.

The facialist suggested I add Aromatherapy Associates Soothing Serum and Face Oil along with the Oil of Olay and then to only use mineral powder foundation instead of Maxfactor. I tried it, but added Maybelline concealer under my eyes.

I don’t know. It just looked like I was wearing a mask. It is so difficult to even out the new patchy spots and zits and hide the circles under my eyes without looking like I have a mask on. And all that make up just exacerbated my acne, I think. So I am trying a proper face cleanser. I am trying out Body Shop’s Camomile Cleansing Oil.

I feel like I have woken up to this whole confusing world of cosmetics. Well, I ignored it all for as long as I could. And it seems to have gotten even more complicated in the past few years. BB and CC cream? What? And I never thought I would be applying oil to my face. Is it all just marketing? It can’t all be hype, right?

My skin seems to be getting thinner and more sensitive. I have read that is normal with ageing….awesome. So I am experimenting with going with more natural products (i.e. more expensive). That is why I am trying the Body Shop cleanser and Aromatherapy Associates stuff and am seriously thinking of trying out Origins BB Cream instead of Maxfactor foundation. It just smells so nice and feels nice. Is that enough of a reason?

Ugh. I am spoiled for choice. There are just so many moving parts and I would like to drop things from my morning routine instead of add more, but I want to look my best. And looking my best matters. Whether it gives me more confidence or makes people respond to me better or both, I don’t know.

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Camping at Home

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The sun is finally out today, but it is still cold, wet and windy. We tried to go to the forest preserve close to our house, but E soon asked to go home. Poor little thing was shaking like a leaf.

So instead we made a tent out of a parachute-like tarp. It is multicolored so it came out looking like a circus tent. All the better for my three year old. She wanted to get pillows and blankets and puzzle inside of the tent. I have no idea why a tent equates with puzzling for my three year old, but I was just happy to have some low energy play time. She also wanted to ‘sleep’ there. I call it ‘sleep’ because it would just be singing and giggling and pretending to sleep. We will be sleeping in beds tonight, thank you very much.

She has inherited my ideas on camping that is for sure. She wanted to eat muffins and drink milk in the tent. And when she needed to pee, she ran inside immediately to the toilet.

Here is our tent:

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Clothing: What Do I Really Use?

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We are getting the flooring in our bedroom replaced. Some water damage from our bathroom flowed through the adjacent wall of our bedroom and soaked into our hardwood flooring. It is a real b&%^h to fix. It involves tearing down our custom made floor-to-ceiling cupboard and storing the copious amounts of clothing, linens and other junk. And we cannot sleep in our bedroom. So our two bodies, a queen sized bed, furniture, any clothes we want wear and the disassembled cupboard need to hang out in one of our two girls’ bedrooms (along with them and their stuff).

Thank goodness we have a big and half empty attic, but the furniture and cupboard cannot fit up there. And who really wants to dig through the attic each morning for clothes? Not me. I bought two clothing racks to replicate the hanging space from our cupboard, but we are still basically surrounded by our stuff. It is one of my worst nightmares.

I donated as much stuff as I could manage, but I may do another sweep. We are halfway through the four week project and I realised that I basically wear the same three long sleeved cotton H&M shirts with a black H&M tank top under it, a fleece vest over it and a pair of jeans. That is my Mama Wear. My Work Wear is a sweater dress, tights and boots. And do my workout clothes count if I am not working out? I wear pajamas, socks and underwear too, of course. That’s it.

The girls could easily live with seven outfits. I think my husband has been getting by with five sweaters, five tee shirts, three pairs of jeans and one pair of dress pants. It is so tempting for me to donate the rest. And yet, it will feel equally as compelling to fill our cupboard right back up after is it rebuilt. It is such a hard cycle for me to break.

Update: Dropping A Ball

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I wrote a few weeks back about dropping one of the many balls that I juggle as a typical wife and working mama with two young children. My first idea came to me from a Facebook post in group created by and for local mothers. A local mother was looking for someone to provide meals for her family.

A personal chef

It sounds like something for millionaires, doesn’t it? Well, I responded to the post saying that I am interested in someone to cook meals for my family too. I got four responses within a day! Much better than I expect, but what does it cost?

One person’s food looked great, but they offered dishes by the kilogram (about 2 pounds). So a great idea for parties or bigger or hungrier families, but my husband and I and a very picky three year old cannot manage that. And I do not want to freeze portions and eat the same meal for a week. Next.

Another response was from the wife of a professionally trained chef looking to build private clients. That is all the info I got. She told me to contact her husband, but did not provide his name or email or address. Weird. Next.

The other one was a small business in a nearby town. They basically offered carry out. Expensive. Not very healthy options. I could do that with the dozens of restaurants in our neighborhood. Next.

The woman we went with is a single mom of two that cooks for her neighbors and other families. (She told me a lot about herself in the course of her cooking, but it is not my place to share that here.) She was very responsive answering questions and provided pictures. The offer was five meals for two adults and two kids for 75 euros. She brought all of the ingredients with her, cooked it at our house one Sunday afternoon in four hours, and cleaned up afterwards.

The kids and I were there the entire time and she offered me tastes as she went. The food was great. It was chicken based dishes with veggies in a variety of sauces. My Midwestern parents would call it stirfry’s, but they were mild curries, tandoori, and a few sweeter teriyaki style dishes. We could have easily stretched the dishes into two weeks of meals by adding more vegetables. As it was, we just added rice each night, but I could have put noodles or potatoes with it.

She brought individual reusable containers for me that are freezer, dishwasher and microwave safe (I paid five euros extra for this). I am weary of microwaving food in plastic so I either reheated a meal in a ceramic bowl or on the stove in a pan. So easy. Some of it tasted even better after a few days of marinating in sauce.

Here is what she made:

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Verdict: Once a month. We invited her to come the last Sunday of every month to cook a week’s worth of meals. Our busiest week is the first week of each month so she will come the Sunday before that so we have meals ready for that week plus a few extra.