German Chocolate Cupcakes, YUM!

I finally got around to finish the cupcakes I started to make two weeks ago for my dad’s birthday (woops!).  I was going to make your standard German chocolate cake with coconut pecan frosting out of a box and a can, but he wanted cupcakes and I didn’t want to deal with frosting cupcakes with that goopy stuff.  I asked the advice of my friend, Tina, who blogs at Sugarbean Bakers, telling her I wanted to do a buttercream version of that frosting, complete with the coconut and toasted pecans.  She pointed me in the direction of her Caramel Buttercream Frosting recipe, and I went from there.

I didn’t have any caramel ice cream topping, so I opted to make my own with butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream.  I Googled a recipe and picked basically the first one that came up (here’s a link to the recipe I used).  I mixed up the caramel sauce and made the buttercream and only then did I find out that I did not, in fact, have any coconut in the house.  So I put the icing in the fridge and decided to finish the cupcakes when I got around to buying coconut.  Dad’s birthday is right at Thanksgiving, so we had plenty of sweet treats already made and we already had our plans made for getting together for the entire week. At any rate, this is why it’s been more than two weeks and I am just today finishing the cupcakes.

One boxed German chocolate cake mix and 2.5 weeks later, I finally have cupcakes and frosting and coconut.  I just tossed a cup of coconut into the frosting and beat the heck out of it with the electric mixer for a little bit.  Meanwhile, I chopped some pecans and threw them in the oven to toast for about 5 minutes.  I need to work a bit on getting my buttercream a little bit fluffier and a little less sturdy for a project like this, but it tastes AMAZING.

Here’s the long-awaited product–I DID sample one, and it was delicious:

Presentation: 3 (I’ll work on that.)
Easy to make: 7
Taste: 10+ (they’re soooo yummy!)

German chocolate cupcakes with coconut caramel buttercream frosting

PSA: Driving in Snow for Beginners–from a girl who’s been driving in snow longer than you’ve been alive

snowy-road1Tonight I had to make a drive that everyone hates–the return trip home in the ice and snow. Being from central PA, where there’s an hour-long drive to ANYWHERE, I’ve driven my fair share of icy roads, and I’ve lived places where the drivers were far worse than they are here. I was lucky tonight, there weren’t many people on the roads, but on my way home, I thought about different things I’ve learned that make my driving in the snow/sleet/freezing rain a little easier on all the other fools on the roads with me.

5x3hf 1.) Stay the hell home. If you don’t have a legitimate reason for being out in this crap, don’t go out in this crap. Milk, bread, and eggs are not a legitimate reason.

snow-crash 2.) Just because your vehicle says 4×4 or 4WD or AWD on it does NOT make your vehicle “better” on a snow-covered highway. You can’t stop any faster with a 4WD vehicle than you can with anything else. 4WD helps you when you have a crappy driveway on a hill like mine, and you can’t ever seem to get enough traction to get out. It also helps when you’re driving in the woods to your camp and most of the road is two mud ruts or two bobsled tracks. See rule number one if you can’t get this through your head.

3.) Don’t try to do any of the following too quickly:
This works even on I-80 between Lock Haven and Jersey Shore. If you maintain a safe speed and don’t try to do anything in a hurry, chances are you’ll be just fine. Stay back from the person in front of you and don’t be the jackass that passes everybody at 70mph. When the people whom you pass see you sitting backwards in the median, as long as you’re not hurt or dead, they get smug satisfaction out of seeing your car disabled and that you crapped your pants.

br 4.) Ever see the sign that says, “Bridge freezes before road surface”??? Well, there is a point to that. There’s no ground under those bridges, but do you know what there IS?? A whole lot of freezing cold wind. And when you have a huge mass of concrete above a big old wind tunnel, you’re going to have a huge mass of REALLY COLD concrete on your hands–colder than the roads before and after the bridge. Don’t GO, STOP, or TURN too fast on the bridge or you’re spinny-spinny, go-go into a tree, or a ditch or somebody in the other two lanes of the interstate.

5.) Don’t try to judge HOW icy a road is. If it’s wet, and it’s cold, err on the side of caution. It might look like slush, but guess what slush is made of? You guessed it–ice and water! You know what black ice looks like? Great! Have a cookie. These same pieces of advice apply to wet roads, even in warmer temps.

6.) Worry about the other guy. Even on a divided 4-lane highway, there’s a chance you could meet up with an eastbound driver when you’re headed west if it’s snowing or icy out. You can’t help the way somebody else drives, and sometimes accidents are just that–accidents, but many times, they can be prevented by driving defensively.

7.) Anti-Lock Brakes are SUPPOSED to feel like something is broken in there. That’s the only way I can think of to describe it. The first time I put on the anti-lock brakes, I was in Philly, driving with my wheels on the snow-covered trolley tracks. They engaged, and I thought I screwed something up, so I took my foot off the brake and nearly wiped out into something. It felt like I had just tried to brake with marbles in my brake pads or something. It was weird, but that’s just the way it feels, so just remember this when you feel like nothing can possibly be right with the way those brakes feel. If you stop, they did their job.

So there you have it.

Too cute not to post!

Tonight was the Blue & Gold Banquet for my son, Kyle’s cub scout pack. We had a cake auction in which each scout (and parent) made a cake, announced the cake at the banquet, and then they auctioned it off to the highest bidder. It was the most expensive cake I ever bought, but Kyle was ecstatic that we were able to bring Emmet home with us. Here’s a pic of the cake:

photo 3

Our cake description was this: Our cake is AWESOME! It is a yellow cake with buttercream frosting. We used an electric mixer and no injuries were sustained. Kyle had to ask about the word injuries, but he was so great up there, really selling his cake (to his family). :D

Mario Mural


I talked about painting a mural in my boys’ room for about 9 months, and since they were at their dad’s house for a whole week over Christmas break, I decided to make this one of their Christmas gifts.

My boys, 11 and 7, love their video games, as do I. I’ve been a true gamer ever since 1983, when we got our first Apple IIc computer and I developed a hard-core addiction to Moon Patrol. While most parents are griping about their kids spending too much time on video games, I encourage them to try a wide variety of games, ranging from old-school console games to MMORPG like my personal favorite, Final Fantasy XI and World of Warcraft. I encourage other things too, like getting outside and riding their bikes, but I don’t mind them playing their games, and I certainly do not think that they are developing a warped sense of reality by escaping to a fantasy video game world. Anyway, I was very fond of Mario games when I was young, heading up the road to Carla’s house, where they had a Nintendo and all the Super Mario Bros. games that were out at the time. When the wii came out and the boys got the new Mario games, I was giddy about it!

So my project started out in Walmart, where I had them mix up a very sky blue and a very grass green for me–colors that one might think too bright for a room, but turned out to be just perfect for a Mario wall mural! I then spent a half an hour on Photoshop, where I took images I’d collected of key parts in the Mario games, and put them together in a montage of sorts, planning for where their TV and computer desks went. I saved those images and took my tablet in with me when I began to sketch out the basic characters. I am very fortunate to be able to draw something in gi-gundo scale when I have a reference photo. My brain is pretty analytical like that. So I drew the mural and then got out my 50-cent acrylic craft paints and my little kid paintbrushes to start painting. On hindsight, I probably could have used bigger brushes. Anyway, I painted for about 18 hours the first day, and about 5 hours the second day. In the end, this is what I had created!

Mario Room

Skip To My Lou

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