Friday, March 26, 2010

strawberry cupcakes with lemon icing

 took a break today from all the sewing Ive been doing to make cupcakes. I wish I could say I had something really cool to share with everyone, but all Ive got are small padded blankets for the humane society's shelter, and they aren't exactly perfect! I am doing them in a hurry, and as bad as this may sound, the dogs and cats that just got neutered and spayed aren't going to care if the lines are crooked or not.... Ive made them with flannel and fleece, so they're soft, and definitely padded as per their request. It was a volunteer project that seemed easy at first, but after 20, I wish I were sewing curtains for my kitchen instead.

So to relieve my stress I baked cupcakes. I meant to make them to welcome spring last weekend, but as I was spring "cleaning" my kitchen, I entirely forgot about the official arrival of spring in the midst of my paper chaos... I made strawberry with lemon icing, and boy have they eased some of the stress!!! Just the mixing and the smell during baking was enough to comfort, but of course I had to have one to try them out.

Ok so I had two....

Here's the recipe:

Preheat oven to 350*
Grease or line a cupcake tin with paper cups, or 2-3 cake tins for a 2-3 layer cake

You'll need a basic white cake mix, either from scratch or a box

1 small package of strawberry jello
About 1 cup of fresh or frozen strawberries
1/2 c. oil
4 eggs

Combine your cake mix with other 4 ingredients, making sure the strawberries are sort of cut up and mixed in. Bake for about 20 minutes, checking 2-4 minutes before the timer goes off for doneness.

For the icing:

1 box of powdered (confectioners) sugar
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp butter, softened
1 tbsp milk
3 tbsp lemon juice

Mix first 3 ingredients together, add lemon juice and mix. If its too thick, add a little bit of milk or more lemon juice to get the consistency you would like, too thin, add more powdered sugar, a little at a time. Just to warn you, this is a sweet frosting and a little bit goes a long way! Its not meant to be a thick frosting. To insure a smooth top, refrigerate for a bit, then frost. Add sprinkles before frosting sets, otherwise it will be impossible to add them. 


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I haven't done a very good job of running my blog! Between internet troubles, spring cleaning and spring break for the girls, AND a sick dog, I just have not had a chance to get on here.

Speaking of spring cleaning, I'm very pleased with the progress so far. Not only have we cleaned out and gutted what used to be the office (and is soon to be our oldest daughters bedroom), I spent 3 days spring cleaning our kitchen, and was able to tear off paper that the previous owners had pasted to the cupboards. This is a monumental event for me, because after all the kitchen is the heart of our home, and it has taken me 2 years to accomplish this feat! I still have a wall to do, and the sink cupboards, but I know now that it is not as daunting a task as I had feared. A few more hours dedicated to ripping and peeling and my kitchen will be almost new! Its already brighter with just the one set of floor cupboards exposed. The paper on the cupboards was brown (it was actually a very clever idea, brown paper bags and Elmer's glue mixed with water), I think to look like stained cabinets and such, but it significantly darkened the kitchen, and there are 8 windows in there! She also took it a tad bit too far and covered every available surface, including the ceiling....She went paper crazy!! They are now a basic white, but I will paint them with a softer, more aged white within the next few months. Our home is 110 years old, and I want it to reflect a little bit of country antiquity.

I'm really hoping to post a before and after of both the office and kitchen soon (might get to it today!), as well as share a craft with everyone to get the ball rolling on this blog.

I also want to share a few spring cleaning tips really quick on the kitchen, since its been my focus this week:

*Start from top to bottom, so dust settles on the floor in the end. Sweep dust down from the walls and ceiling, and wipe down any wall shelves.
*Before doing any scrubbing, clear out your cabinets and get rid of things that are unused. You will be amazed at how refreshing it is to see into the cupboards! Also, replace or wipe down the current shelf paper.
*Go through your cleaning products and combine and use or throw out bottles with a tiny bit left. I prefer to use vinegar, baking soda and dish soap, but to each her own!! Alcohol makes a great window cleaner when combined with a bit of vinegar and water. Word of warning: YOU WILL SAVE A BUNDLE!!! I spend $3 for the alcohol and vinegar, and it lasts several months, as opposed to the 3+ bucks a month spent on a commercial cleaner, and it works sooo much better!! The scent does take a little bit of getting used to, but it does not linger long and actually refreshes the air as you work. Spray it on your door knobs and light switches, and BAM! instant sanitizer!
* To get into tight corners, soak cotton balls with your favorite cleaner and let sit for a bit, remove and vacuum out.
*For the edges of baseboards use a hard bristled tooth brush to sweep out the grime.
*Don't forget to vacuum the condenser coils of your fridge and under and behind the fridge and stove. I found a missing flip flop under the refrigerator! Sadly, as we couldn't find said flip flop, the other was thrown out last summer....
*To clean dirty grout, use a paste of oxy clean and vinegar,let sit and scrub with a tooth brush (not the one you used on the floor!!) wipe and rinse clean. This is also good at whitening sinks, just be careful not to scratch yours. If the caulking around the sink needs replacing, or its particularly dingy, now is a good time to do it. This is a very simple task, and anyone can do it.
*Before cleaning the floors, clean the oven.
*Finally, scrub the floors and then give everything a good wipe down. Then admire the sparkles from all your hard work

It is truly gratifying to create a clean home for your family.