March 27, 2014

Salted Caramel Cake Recipe

Hi! Just wanted to share my favorite new cake recipe...the salted caramel vanilla cake. I know there are many similar recipes out there. Basically I picked my favorite aspects of each recipe and added a few changes to make things easier for me.

It's the perfect cake for all your upcoming spring festivities. YUM.

It's pretty straightforward, even for a kitchen klutz like me. Well, I did screw up my first trial run, but that won't happen to you. I'll make sure of it.

This recipe is for a two layer round cake. I was inspired by these two recipes but modified them to make it easier-- I am too lazy to make white cake from scratch so I used vanilla box cakes(Betty Crocker). Here are your basic ingredients:

I screwed up my first trial because my cake was too thin/short for all that caramel sauce. The cakes was drenched in caramel. Whoops.  Just make your cake a little thicker/taller by adding a little more batter to your pans(buy two boxes of cake mix rather than 1). As a bonus,  you can use any remaining batter for cupcakes!

Super simple recipe for caramel sauce. 

Set caramel sauce aside. Best at room temp.

Frosting recipe:

Bottom layer with holes and caramel sauce:

Bottom layer frosted, sprinkled with sea salt.

Second layer cake added to first layer. Drizzled top with caramel.

Frost top layer and add Twix. Then drizzle more caramel in zig-zag pattern.

I added a banner for a special friend's bday.

Little flags for cupcakes.

Just hit the spot perfectly.

March 3, 2014

Making Room, Part Deux

cont. from Making Room

After countless night of debating the room placement, John proposed an idea. It was the LAST place on earth I wanted, but I instantly knew it was our only option:

He suggested cutting our family room in half{almost}, by installing 2 walls to close off the area by my yellow wallpaper.

Now. You must know something. When we were looking for our first home 11 years ago, the main reason I selected this floor plan was because I liked the open family room.

Another thing. I dislike walls. My dream home would consist of a gritty old warehouse with zero walls. With a few bedrooms lined up in back, ha.

And now John wanted to cut our family room almost in half? And add...walls? Ack! Unthinkable.

That night I went to bed feeling very unsettled, my thoughts boomerang-ing all over the place. In all of this, God was working. You see, He saw something that I didn't--that I was holding on too tight to my earthly possessions. And that night, my eyes were opened to the truth. People everywhere have MUCH smaller houses than I do. How could I be so spoiled? Blerg. Stupid materialism. I didn't want to be like that anymore.

You could say I had a total change of heart that night. I was ready to get on board with John's idea.  John was giving me the GREEN LIGHT to add a room so we could adopt...I'd be crazy not to take his offer and RUN with it.

And I knew the second I saw the child, any room debates would seem ridiculous in comparison. Kid trumps house a million times over.

I fell asleep with a huge smile on my face. I woke up the next morning, in shock over my decision. But for the life of me, I could not wipe that smile off my face.

I was discussing this with my neighbor Patty and she said "We weren't mean to be deep oaks planted here on earth, but rather tumbleweeds, blowing here and there scattering seeds of the gospel. And using our homes as a tool to bless others". Wise words.

The next few weeks were a flurry of calls to prospective builders. Excitement was in the air!

Until I got my first formal estimate.

It was thousands more than anticipated. Like quadruple the amount I expected. It felt like a punch to the gut. I wanted to cry.

When I told John, he sighed "Well, it will take us a while to save up for that!"

"Can't we take out a loan?", I pleaded.

But John just wasn't comfortable with borrowing such a large amount.

A few weeks later, I decided to get another estimate. My friend Carrie recommended her builder, Jeremy Gustafson--the man who changed everything.

It was December. I was sipping cider at small group when my cell phone rang, with Jeremy's estimate. It was less than half the price of the first estimate, praise the Lord! We were back in business! Best.Christmas.Ever.

Construction began early February. In 2 weeks, my house went from this

to this

to this

to this

I thought I would feel completely claustrophobic once the drywall went up but...surprise...I kind of like it! Jeremy was MOST awesome. He always stayed after to make sure each job was done just right and that everything was clean and tidy. Plus he was super sweet and kind, especially to my wild boys running around.

We are all excited about the new room (Blue couch is not staying here).

There is another door to exit to the bathroom.

But I realize that to the adopted child, this room is just an insignificant consolation prize. This child will have gone through so much loss to have gotten here. Loss of parents. Their culture. Extended family. Familiarity. Everything. I picture Twain standing forlornly with his blankie(or any of my boys) in this position and feel sick.

One night before bed, John urgently told me "We need to be praying for this child. It could be out there, somewhere". And then he prayed the sweetest prayer and tears rolled down my cheeks onto my pillow. His prayer showed me he was really invested.

Kiononia told us, "You are signing up for heartbreak. We expect you to get attached". During the "foster phase", the child can be returned to their birth parents.

Despite this I can't help but feel optimistic. It's just my nature. I know it will be hard but I'm hoping that in the end, we will hold in our arms the child God picked for us.

 p.s. Next week someone from Koinonia is coming for my first home inspection! Eeek!