Category Archives: Cakes

This year we splurged a little for E to celebrate her birthday.  Last year I wanted to do a “pony party” at our new home for her fifth birthday, but we ended up being in Latvia for P’s adoption and it was celebrated with a store-bought tasteless cake (since Europe doesn’t sweeten their confections like we do here in America), after dinner in our rented apartment.  Tom would argue that it’s the best kind of birthday – being in a foreign country – but a five year old sure doesn’t think so!  However it is very special in that she had both brothers there to celebrate with her (for what is now the only and last time).  I wish I had more than a grainy phone photo of that moment…


So much has changed.

Anyway, this year I chose to throw her a spa party at a completely girly place called “Sweet and Sassy”.  She invited four good friends and they enjoyed a time of pampering, making their own lotion and sugar scrub, and of course (homemade!) “Frozen” cake and presents.  It was a lot of fun, with the best part being that it was only 2 hours and I didn’t have to clean up! :)




My first ever attempt at sculpting something out of gumpaste!





Happy Birthday my sweet girl.  Hope it was special!

*Update:  apparently I need to google any slang I use, as my original post used a slang for husband that was not on the up and up.  My apologies to anyone who read this and knew what the slang word meant.  It was not my intent to misuse the term AT ALL.*

Today is Tom’s birthday…the day after 9/11, which he is not too happy about.  BUT today was all about him and I enjoyed making a fabulous meal for his birthday dinner.

The meal was courtesy of the blogosphere.  I had a “Dr. Pepper slow-cooker roast beef “ cooking in the crock pot all day, and then turned to some of my other favorite blogs for the sides…creamed corn, and PW’s amazingly creamy mashed potatoes.  It may not look like much, but it was very delicious and I prided myself for taking it a little farther than I usually would.  My only complaint would be that the roast beef cooked a tad too long and wasn’t as tender as I had wanted.  Woops.

And then the pies de resistance:  Cake!!  Tom has been a long-time fan of Nutella since our visit to Hungary almost 4 years ago.  It was a staple in C’s life at the orphanage, as I think it is in many European homes.  It’s gaining ground here, although I just don’t see the purpose of slapping chocolate/hazelnut spread on bread and calling it a sandwich.  I’m a peanut butter girl through and through.

aaaanyway, I looked through my Pinterest boards and found a Nutella cupcake recipe that I had pinned awhile back.  But since I didn’t want to do cupcakes, I modified it to be in a cake form.  And it was awesome!  For Nutella fans (Tom & my friend Erika, in this case), it totally hit the spot.  I found it a bit rich so would probably used a less chocolatey cake next time, but all in all I’m happy that it turned out well for Tom’s special day.


Chocolate Nutella Cake

For Cake (adapted from “Kevin & Amanda’s” Chocolate Cake):


  • 1 box devil’s food cake mix (or for less richness, a yellow or milk chocolate cake would work well)
  • 1 small pkg instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups mini chocolate chips (optional, again depending on desired richness)
  • Jar of Nutella for Between cake layers


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a very large bowl, mix together everything except chocolate chips. Batter will be thick. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into cake pan of choice (I normally use two 9-inch pie pans).
  3. For cooking time, I use the cooking times on the back of the packaged cake box as a guide and usually add 10 mins to whatever it says. Then I do the toothpick check, and if it’s not done, I check on it every 5 mins after that. It usually takes around 45 mins for two, 9-inch pie pans.
  4. For layer cake, level bottom layer & spread healthy dose of Nutella on it (repeat for more than two cake layers).  Cover with top layer and prep for frosting.
For Frosting (adapted from “My Baking Addiction” Nutella Cupcakes):


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened at room temp.
  • 1 13-ounce jar of Nutella
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted (or not, I was lazy and didn’t sift)
  • 6-8 tablespoons heavy cream or milk


  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and Nutella until well combined. Slowly add in confectioner’s sugar, and continue creaming until well blended. (caveat:  this step produced such a thick frosting, that I added 3 tablespoons of the heavy cream while incorporating the sugar.  Otherwise my stand mixer may have blown up…)
  2. Add salt, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons (or remaining quantity) of heavy cream or milk. Blend on low speed until moistened. Add an additional 3-5 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
  3. Frost cake when cake is completely cooled (I put the cake in the freezer for a couple of hours as it makes it easier to frost.  Crumb-coating before you put it in the freezer is highly recommended if you have the time…and patience).
  4. Garnish with chopped hazelnut & chocolate bar, found in the candy section of your grocery store.

-This recipe will make enough frosting to generously frost 24 cupcakes or one 9 inch layer cake.
-You can easily adjust the consistency of this recipe by simply adding in more heavy cream or milk.
-Covered and refrigerated frosting can be stored for up to three days. Simply bring it to room temperature and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. You may need to add a couple of teaspoons of heavy cream or milk to revive the consistency.


As far as a birthday present, I thought maybe he’d like a Kindle or something since he is such a voracious reader.  But no, when pressed, he said he wants a ham radio antennae…for his truck.  I should have just bought the Kindle without asking…


Thanks to all who have made, and continue to make, the USA a free country.

This weekend was a busy one for us.  On Sunday we had a wonderful church service in the park and then enjoyed barbecue, games, and fellowship.  I love how out-going our new church is, it reminds me of the things I did as a child and I am really looking forward to this next weekend’s camping trip with our life group.  I’m sure I’ll blog about it and post some pictures. :)

Later, after church-in-the-park, we went home to celebrate E’s birthday since we had not been able to do it the previous weekend with Tom and C out of town.  Our good friends also celebrated with us since we were marking their son’s first birthday as well.  I made cakes for both kids, so it was fun to diversify a bit and make both a “princess” cake and a “dinosaur” cake. Admittedly, it was a lot of work, but we have such great friends who re-paid us with a delicious barbecued chicken dinner…complete with a spinach and strawberry salad straight from their garden.  Wonderfully worth it.

BBQ chicken, garlic mashed potatoes & spinach/strawberry salad. yum!

the birthday kiddos

E's princess cake. I used "ballerina barbie" since she had a molded top already. It was a 4-tier french vanilla cake with strawberry and butter-cream filling, and of course very pink butter-cream frosting.

E posing with "her" cake.

Dinosaur cake. This was a 3-tier chocolate cake with buttercream filling & frosting. Delish!

The carnage

Today we headed to another barbecue for 4th of July…which was hot, hot, hot.  I think it got up to 96 degrees or something this afternoon.  I was happy to return home to air-conditioning for a bit and then head back out at 9pm to watch the variety of fireworks across town from the park across from us.  It’s a fun way to see everything “from above” and yet not have to deal with hordes of people (and traffic) afterwards.

Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July weekend as well!
{we were just happy to not be re-living last year’s July 4th fiasco}


To celebrate C’s 7th b-day, he invited a few friends from his class to come over. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I quickly found that 5,6,7 year-olds have very strong opinions! It is amazing how 4 of them can quickly exhaust you.  Plus, that day also brought a snow storm…making travel for his friends a little tricky.

Despite that, it was a successful party and C had a wonderful time.  I captured some moments below…

A simple pizza lunch...because kids are picky!

Playing Wii.  Argish didn’t know what to make of these obnoxious creatures…

And of course I had to experiment with a cupcake recipe.  I got the “Hot Chocolate Cupcake” twist from Kevin & Amanda and it was pretty good!  I didn’t have to worry about icing the cupcake and it saved some time…which has been of the essence these last couple of days.

Happy 7th Birthday My Sweet Boy!

The kids had fun in the inflatable deflatable pool…
and an attempt at eating lunch was made…
but ultimately birthdays are about cake!
It was a fun day, but it tuckered us all out.