Hey There, Cupcake

I never thought I'd be able to say this, but, y'all?

I found something awesome on Pinterest. And I made it. AND I NAILED IT.

As you well know, I'm not exceptionally fabulous at crafty things. I once glued myself to a pillow. Most of the "fancy" desserts I make end up looking like poop - literally. The majority of my Pinterest boards are less "things-I'm-going-to-do" and more "things-I-think-are-cool-but-have-a-near-zero-chance-of-actually-happening."

But then I found some amaaaaaazing-looking cupcakes for Halloween. And I thought, "You know what? I'll give it a shot. At least if I fail it'll make a good blog post."

I already had half of the project down. I mean, I can make cupcakes. I didn't follow the recipe, just used my own scrumptious chocolate cake recipe (which just happens to be the best chocolate cake recipe EV-AH and trust me I have tried literally dozens of chocolate cake recipes and I will kindly include my favorite at the end of this post with the disclaimer that I am not responsible for the extra ten pounds this kind of chocolate cake will add to your thighs).

The tricky part was the way the cupcakes were decorated: stabbed through with bloody-looking shards of sugar-glass candy.

I was confused about how to make the glass candy. The ingredients were simple enough - sugar, water, corn syrup, and cream of tartar - and all the recipes I found unanimously agreed on those things, though the proportions differed a little. The real problem was that every recipe called for a different technique. They made it sound really hard, like glass candy was the temperamental diva of the candy world and would totally go all Naomi Campbell on you and throw phones and stuff if you made one little misstep. Plus, I don't even own a candy thermometer which seemed to be kind of a necessity.

But I decided to give it a try anyway. Because I am nothing if not determined.

And nothing stands between me and cupcakes.

So I just gave it a try. I let the sugar concoction heat up slowly, so it didn't caramelize and get brown, and then let it bubble away until it looked pretty clear. I think it took about twenty minutes (even though some of the recipes said it took like an hour. What?! Who has that kind of patience?). Then I poured it out onto a cookie sheet and hoped for the best.

When it cooled and hardened, and I cracked it? BROKEN GLASS FTW!!! It honestly wasn't as difficult and temperamental as all the recipes made it sound. So either it isn't, or I just got extremely lucky.

Then there was the blood. I figured the best way to make edible blood was to use corn syrup. So I tinted the bejesus out of it with some food coloring (mostly red, a teeny bit of blue) until it was nice and dark.

I stabbed some "glass" randomly into each cupcake, then used an old wooden skewer that I found jammed in the back of my utensil drawer to dribble the blood along the base of each piece - but really, I think a toothpick would work just as well. And voila!

Actual photo of MY cupcakes. Not the Pinterest photo. My real cupcakes that I actually made! Squeeeee!

They looked freaking awesome. So freaking awesome, in fact, that I literally just stood there in amazement and stared at them at every angle for like five minutes. Kind of like you do with a new baby. In fact, I think I said - possibly with happy tears in my eyes - "I haven't made anything this beautiful since the kids were born."

Anyway, if I were a good blogger I'd provide some sort of detailed tutorial. But the truth is I'm not sure if I could even do it again myself, so I'd hate to steer y'all wrong. I just figured I'd give you a general idea.

But the cupcake recipe itself: now that I can tell you how to make. And it's gooooood. If you want your cupcakes to taste as unbelievable as they look, try this recipe. It has a couple of ingredients that might seem a little unorthodox, but trust me on this one. I'd never steer you wrong when it comes to chocolate cake. This recipe is a combination of everything I loved about all the best recipes I've tried.

THE ULTIMATE BEST MOST DELICIOUS AND AMAZING CHOCOLATE CAKE EVER:

1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa (I use dark cocoa, but you can use whatever)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil (you can also substitute applesauce)
2 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup strong hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Thoroughly combine all dry ingredients. Add milk, sour cream, oil, and vanilla to the dry stuff; then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add hot coffee to the batter. Beat on high for about a minute. From here, you can either fill cupcake tins about halfway full or pour the batter into a (greased and floured) cake pan. Bake about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

For the frosting, you can use any old kind, but since I'm pretty much a frosting junkie I like to use the fancy French meringue buttercream recipe I found here - although it's a little runny for me so I toss in a bit of powdered sugar at the end to thicken it up a bit. It's kind of a pain in the ass to make, especially the first few times, but it's deeeeeee-licious.

And there you have it, ladies and gents: the actual reason my thighs are the size of Texas.

Happy cupcake making! If you try these, I'd love to hear your stories, so I know whether to attempt them again. Hehe.


Turd-ally Spotless


It all started with a mysterious lone turd on my laundry room floor.

I went downstairs and there it was, just chillin' in the middle of the room. A single, mid-sized turd. I stopped in my tracks and squinted at it, as though staring would help me deduce who had, well, deuced - but I couldn't tell. Kids? Animals? Either one was possible. I mean, y'all know how many poop stories populate the archives of this blog. (Like this. Or this. Or this.) The volume of poop stories (some with photos!) in my repertoire is staggering. Pretty much everyone is a suspect.*

*Except for like, Curtis. That turd was way too small to belong to him.

I cleaned it up like a seasoned poo-cleaning veteran because, hello, one turd is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Although it was that exact aspect of the mystery that bothered me: the fact that there was only one turd. Because everybody knows that turds always come in multiples.

Still, I did a thorough sweep of the rest of the downstairs. No poop. So I shrugged and went on about my day, figuring that maybe one of the dogs had fished it out of the litter box and dropped it or something.

Fast-forward several hours later: I was back in the laundry room (because that's like where I live when I'm not in the kitchen or the minivan or wiping somebody's butt). I opened the washer to retrieve the boys' sheets and comforter. And I noticed that the usually-lovely fragrance of my detergent was tinged with a more ominous - less fresh and clean - odor. An unmistakable odor that my expert nose would recognize anywhere.

The odor of ...

... poop.

I blinked a couple of times. That's when I noticed a brown smudge on the clear window of the washer door. And upon closer inspection, another brown smudge on the seal. Faintly grainy-looking.

And then the realization came crashing down on me like a load of bricks: I. HAD WASHED. A PILE. OF POOP.

It suddenly all made sense. When I stripped the bedding off the boys' beds, I'd dumped it all into a heap on their floor, intending to put it immediately into the washer. But you know. There were cupcakes to eat other important things to do, and I got sidetracked, and the bedding ended up remaining on the floor for like half the day. Apparently while it was there, Puggy had decided to poop on it, unbeknownst to me. The nuggets nestled surreptitiously into the folds of the covers like little landmines, neatly camouflaged.

And then I had scooped it up and tossed it - turds and all - into the washing machine.

I guess I must have unknowingly dropped one of them on the laundry room floor in the process. Hence the single mysterious piece of poo.

Mystery solved. Bedding, rewashed.

They say you can't polish a turd, but I gave it my best - if accidental - effort.

Unfashion-ista

Let me just come right out and say it: my selection of clothing is pretty crappy. Literally everything is my closet is from one of three places: Walmart, Target, or Old Navy. I'm not saying that those places automatically have crappy clothes - actually most of the stuff is very cute - but I tend to go for the very CHEAPEST things those places have to offer because, hello, four money-sucking kids to support.

I can't help it. It hurts me to spend money on myself sometimes - like, I seriously get a squeezing feeling in my chest. If you hand me $200 and say, "Go buy some clothes!" I'd probably hesitantly pick something out (after carefully considering what the maximum value for the money is, of course) and carry it around the store for a while. Letting the guilt sink in more deeply with each step. Thinking, with increasing frequency, "But Colin really needs some new shoes. And Cameron's wearing holes in his jeans. And Coby needs some long-sleeved winter shirts. And Corbin needs ..."

And then I'd end up putting my stuff back and getting the stuff the kids need. It's just how I am. The guilty feeling is gone but the crappy wardrobe remains. I literally cannot understand how people can drop $50 or $75 (or more!) on a pair of shoes that they'll only wear with one or two outfits ... or $250 on a designer purse that's like bright pink or orange and doesn't go with anything ... or change out their entire wardrobes because their shit is soooo last season. Maybe if I had more disposable income I would get it, but I totally do not.

The other day, though, I got a sweet coupon in my email from Old Navy (seriously, this is not a sponsored post - I wish! - but do yourself a favor if you ever shop there and sign up for their email deals). It was for 50% off, y'all. And you know how I love anything cheap. So that's how I found myself justifying actually buying something for myself.

There was just one problem. I'm not all that great at picking out things that look good. (Are you following me on Pinterest? I actually have a board titled, "Outfits I Would Create if I Were Fashionable" wherein I steal other people's ideas.)

So I wandered aimlessly around Old Navy, fingering over all the stuff for a while, seeing things I liked and then didn't like so much after checking the price tag (and yes I know it was Old-freaking-Navy and their prices are reasonable but remember: I'm cheap). But then I saw a mannequin with an outfit on that I thought was cute. And so I copied the entire outfit from the mannequin, to ensure that I'm at least a little bit in style because I'm pretty sure they wouldn't put their mannequins in something ridiculous. Right?

I ended up choosing a long, button-up navy cardigan and a kind of taupe-colored sequined tank to go underneath. And the mannequin had on skinny jeans, but I tried them on, and ... ew. Like, ew. Skinny jeans don't work so well when you're not, you know, skinny. Thanks to the super-widening effects of four children on my hips (and, okay, a few baked goods here and there), I think my skinny-jean-wearing days are over.

And then there were these shoes:

They look pretty bright in this pic but they're actually a little darker navy. Anyway, they are NOT the kind of shoes I'd ever choose by themselves - but they looked so cute with the outfit on the mannequin. And I had the coupon. So I snatched them up too.

So now I actually have an outfit that is on-trend. Although since I don't have skinny jeans, I just use a pair of my own that are snug-fitting and roll the bottoms up a little (which probably totally negates the trendiness of the outfit and I'm just walking around looking like a huge effing goober).

I can't justify buying these shoes just to wear with one outfit though - so I need your assistance here.What kind of stuff looks good with these loafers? They are treading dangerously into Hugh Hefner territory so I need to make sure I'm wearing them with the right pieces. I'm thinking ... something like this? Am I way off?



Fashionable ladies (and gentlemen) - help a sista out!


The Snack Surprise


So yesterday I accidentally did something super-disgusting. (If you've "liked" the blog on Facebook, you probably saw my post about it.) I'm kind of surprised I'm still sitting here and didn't like keel over with the sheer overwhelming nastiness. It was yucky. Barf-o-rama. Fifty Shades of Gross.

You still reading? Good. You must not be eating anything at the moment. And if you are, stop. You'll thank me later.

I was sitting here at my computer with the baby, Corbin, on my lap. He was about to fall asleep. I decided that while he was still, I'd pick a couple of boogers out of his nose. You know the type of kid whose nose is always crusty? Yeah, that's Corbin for like the past month. The boys have been passing around this cold and this poor baby has been perpetually snotty. I cannot keep his nose clean for the life of me - partially because when I come at him with a Kleenex, he acts like I'm trying to fill his nostrils with battery acid.

Anyway. Using my pinky fingernail, I gingerly picked a couple of green, crusty boogers from his nose. But then I realized I had a slight problem: nothing to wipe them on. If I got up to get a tissue, I'd wake him. And my older kids were all at school - so there was no one to fetch me one. So I put the boogers on the counter beside my computer and thought to myself, "As soon as I'm able to put him down, I'll come back to clean those up."

In a few minutes Corbin was sound asleep enough to put down, so I went and laid him on my bed. Then I had to pee. Then I got a text. Then I looked out my window. Then I folded some laundry. Then I danced in front of my mirror for like five minutes (what?? Like you've never done it. Psshh).

Then I decided I wanted a snack. I got some cheese out of the fridge.

And what goes better with cheese than Facebook? Right? So I sat down at my computer and started eating my cheese and browsing Facebook.

And I wanted to comment on a status. And I needed both hands to type. And I set my cheese down ... on the counter beside my computer.

Yeah. See where this is going?

When I took my next bite of cheese, I noticed - a few chews in - that something in my cheese was a different texture than the rest of it. I stopped chewing. My stomach dropped in horror as my eyes drifted, in slow-motion, to the booger on the counter.

Just a single lonely, crusty booger. Sitting there without its bigger companion. Where there had been two, there was now only one. And I had a pretty good idea where the other one was located: somewhere between my molars.

Obviously I spit out my mouthful of cheese-slash-booger, but the psychological damage was done. I had been noshing on someone else's booger. Not that it would have been any better if it had been my own, but -

Ah, who am I kidding. Yes it would have.

But not much.


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