Category Archives: Little Miss Sunshine

Cake Boss cakes: a review

A few months ago we discovered TLC’s Cake Boss on Netflix.  It quickly became a family favorite, especially for Little Miss Sunshine.  She celebrated her birthday this week and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to try a Cake Boss Cake.

I should mention that I am not a big cake purchaser.  I’m usually a “throw a box mix together and make some homemade buttercream to cover it” kind of mom.  Sometimes I’ve splurged on Costco cakes for birthdays, but we typically go the homemade route. 

We have several stores where they are supposed to be available, so the morning of her birthday I walked into the bakery section and asked where they had their Cake Boss cakes.  I was told that they didn’t sell well at that location so they quit carrying them (although this location still pulls up on the Cake Boss Cake site).   A phone call to a different location and I was set to go buy a cake.

I opted for the Bada Bloom version:

This is a 7-inch two-layer cake comprised of yellow and chocolate cake layers with chocolate fudge filling.  I’ll be honest, I almost didn’t walk out of the store with cake in hand once I saw the size and the price – $24.99.  I chalked it up as part of the cost of the birthday and gritted my teeth at the checkout.  This had better be some good cake for that kind of money. 

Let’s keep score here: 1 strike for small size, 1 strike for outrageous price = 2 strikes.

Upon examining the box at home, this cake didn’t come from Hoboken, NJ (shh, don’t tell Little Miss Sunshine!), but is manufactured at Dawn Food Products in Jackson, MI.

Another strike = 3 strikes.

When we cut into the cake I was surprised to see a chocolate layer with the yellow.  Apparently I missed that in the description and was expecting two yellow layers.  With chocolate fudge filling, how can you go wrong?

1 plus for chocolate cake and 1 plus for chocolate fudge = 2 plusses and 3 strikes.

The cake itself was firm and stayed sturdy through cutting and serving.

Another plus = 3 plusses and 3 strikes, we’re tied back at square one more or less.

It came down to taste:  the frosting wasn’t that sickly sweet buttercream, and although sweet (it is frosting, afterall) it wasn’t overly sweet.  Plus 1 there.  The cake was disappointingly bland and a touch on the dry side (from being frozen?). 

Score: 1 plus and 1 strike for flavor, 1 strike for dry cake = 4 plusses and 5 strikes.

So, what’s the final verdict?  Will I be buying any more Cake Boss cakes? 
I would have to say no. 
I can’t justify the price for the size of the cake.  While I liked the frosting over many store-bought buttercreams, the bland, dry cake just doesn’t work.  I can make my own dry cake from scratch for less.  Better yet, I’ll stick to a mix.  If you want to buy a cake, your money would be better spent on something fresh from the store’s bakery.  If you happen to have a good (non-dry) cake recipe, please send it my way. 

On a side note, do you know what happens when you leave the used birthday candles in reach of a three-year-old?  Peanut butter sandwich “birthday cake”.

** Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored in any way, shape or form.  I purchased a Cake Boss Cake from a local grocery store at my own expense and have received no reimbursement or compensation.  All opinions are entirely my own. **

Pinterest party

Since Mother Nature has decided it isn’t time for warm, spring weather, regardless of what the calendar or Punxsutawney Phil might have to say about the matter, our spring break was less than springy and spent indoors.  One day The Artist and a friend decided it was high time to finally have a Pinterest-inspired get-together.  We threw together a few activities and had an enjoyable afternoon.

The first item on the table for the teens was melted crayon art.

 We didn’t really follow a specific tutorial for this, they just hot-glued the crayons on a canvas.

Then hit the whole thing with a hot blow dryer to melt the wax. (One note of caution, the wax can splatter off the canvas and the force of the air has a tendency to move the melted wax around, so some experimentation is probably a good idea.)

The girls tried using masking tape to leave a blank area to add an inspirational word.  That didn’t work out so well.  I don’t know if something stickier would work, or vinyl or just what.

Little Miss Sunshine and Princess wanted a project, so I pulled out some rick rack and attempted making roses.  The original plan was to try this tutorial from the Crafting Chicks.  However, I was too lazy to pull out my sewing machine, so I used Kadie’s no-sew tutorial here.  We used medium rick rack in 12-inch lengths and it made the perfect size roses to put on barrettes.

Some opened up better than others.  For the multi-colored one, we put the white, wrong-sides of the two strips together as we twisted them so there would still be some color when it was opened.  However, Little Miss Sunshine decided she wanted it to stay closed.  It works, either way.

Our last project was a batch of the BYU Mint Brownies that can be found all over Pinterest. To be honest, these were ho-hum.  Granted, I didn’t realize there was a difference between mint extract and peppermint extract, so maybe that makes a difference in the final outcome.  I’ve never had the original from BYU, so I can’t say how ours compared.  However, we did have some “cool” brownies.

Have you ever had a Pinterest-party?  What did you make?

Perspectives – Big & Small


Today’s theme for the Perspectives Challenge is Big & Small.

With my crazy week supervising the elementary school bookfair, I didn’t get a chance to take photos other than my thimble collection from Tuesday’s post.  However, I figure it still works since it is a BIG collection made up of SMALL individual thimbles.

For my other two photos, I’m resurrecting some older ones.  Here’s Princess and Little Miss Sunshine on their first day of school.

 Lastly, tomorrow marks 6 years since Princess decided to surprise us with an early entry to this world.  She was so SMALL even preemie-sized clothes were too big.  She almost could have worn doll clothes!

Two months later, she finally grew enough to fit into preemie stuff!

Next week’s challenge theme is TRICK OR TREAT.  I’d better not forget the camera on Halloween. 
Have you linked up with the Perspectives Challenge?

Is that really made from clay?

I recently found a fun Etsy shop that I wanted to share with you — A Girl and Her Clay.  I was blown away by Celeste’s creativity and talent with sculpting clay.  I jumped on her 50% off sale (still going through August 18 with a free shipping code, too) to snag some fun pieces.  These photos don’t do justice to the pieces.  They are exquisite with teeny, tiny details.  I purchased one of her grab bags that contained this cute bunny that Princess has happily adopted.

Love the detail on the strawberry

 This cute ring was another grab bag treasure.  I must admit, I’m not sure exactly what it is supposed to be, but I can appreciate the details.

I couldn’t resist this cute s’more charm set. These charms are so tiny, but look so realistic and detailed.

Or how about this pop-tart charm.  It looks real enough to eat. All this yummy-looking goodness is only about an inch long.

After seeing Celeste’s creativity, the wheels started turning in my head.  I thought it would be great to see if she could make a Husker-related charm for Little Miss Sunshine, our self-proclaimed Husker-a-holic.

Celeste was super excited to get a custom order and went right to work on a chibi version of Lil Red. She really captured his cuteness.  This little guy in only a couple inches tall, but that was enough to make Little Miss Sunshine squeal with delight.

I’m sure glad I opted to give him as a “Back-to-school” gift rather than waiting until Christmas like I’d originally planned.  Now Lil Red can be worn every game day.

You should check out Celeste’s shop while she’s running her fabulous sale, especially if you love sushi.  Just sayin’.

Crafting lesson: Countdown to School

I can’t believe that we have less than a month before school starts up again. Princess is super-excited to be going to kindergarten and asks on a regular basis if she gets to go to school today.  I decided to do a little project to help her see how many days until she becomes a mighty kindergartener.  We made a paper countdown chain.

Yes, we’re crafting in our jammies.  It’s summer-time. 🙂

 Basically, I had Princess and Little Miss Sunshine choose different colors of construction paper.  Then they decorated one sheet to be a header.  I cut strips from the remaining papers (about 1 inch wide).  The strips were then stapled individually to form a chain.

We finished by stapling the chain to the bottom of the paper.  Now they can pull one link off before going to bed and watch as the remaining 3 1/2 weeks of summer fly by.  Princess will be starting kindergarten before I can blink. 🙂

Playing with Food

We completed another healthy challenge (for my family competition) with the kids yesterday.  (Read about our first challenge here.) This time they used fruits and vegetables to create some kind of food art and then had to eat their creation.  I prepped different fruits and veggies and the kids went to work.


We ended up with  variety of creations.  Bugaboo was lucky to get anything on his plate.  He was eating as fast as we could offer him different foods. This kid LOVES his fruits and veggies! He did carefully place the half-eaten banana inside the pepper ring.

Princess decided to make a person.  She copied from some of the other kids, but asked about having little carrot pieces for hair and decided on a strawberry “belly button.”

Little Miss Sunshine created a chef.  She was thrilled when I bought mushrooms since she has been begging for them for ages.   That made a perfect hat and she got creative with other fruits and veggies and some toothpicks.

Mr. Adventure started with a plan to make a trash can containing each fruit or vegetable.  I’m not sure what message that was supposed to make. He decided to change to this person design.  Not too bad, right?

The Author made this cute little chick.  It’s almost too cute to eat.

The Artist attempted to create a geek-inspired scene.  This is Loki (in the top middle) and frienemies.  There’s the Hulk, Ironman, Mjolnir, bow and arrow, and the Black Widow symbol.

The next time you hear, “I’m bored!”  why not break out the food and let the kids get creative.  The only catch — they have to eat whatever they make.  Mine all did great at the devouring part, too.  The only food left was on Bugaboo’s plate, and he probably ate the equivalent of two plates snacking while sculpting.

If you happen to be looking for a great resource for produce, check out Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op to see if they’re available in your area.  We have enjoyed being able to try new foods and always having a variety of produce.

The craziest (cardboard) boat you’ve ever seen

Our elementary school drama club recently did a production based on The City of Ember.  Little Miss Sunshine starred as Poppy and The Author and The Artist both volunteered behind the scenes.  One of their responsibilities was to design the boat.  A large cardboard box labeled “BOAT” did the job, but it wasn’t very interesting.  So, they embellished the inside:

Any geek-related show or movie was probably referenced in some way.  They even threw in a “Volunteer as Tribute” button and a “Silence Will Fall” quote.  How many sources can you identify?

I kind of like The Artist’s chibi-style Yoda.

Doesn’t Little Miss Sunshine make a cute Poppy?

We inherited the boat after the play was over.  If only I had a clue what to do with it.  For now, it’s happily residing in our basement.

I’m a slacker

Lately I’ve been a real slacker as a blogger.  There aren’t really any good excuses, just life.  So, here are some completely random photos from the past few weeks:

 Bugaboo hard at work with one of his favorite pasttimes — Angry Birds
 Little Miss Sunshine and Mr. Adventure all dressed up for Crazy Day.
 Our “It’s everyone’s birthday” cake (that chocolate chip glaze is the BEST!)
Someone around here turned 40, and it wasn’t me. 🙂

Imaginary friends

I was thinking one morning about all the imaginary friends we’ve been introduced to through the years. Some have stuck around for a day or two and others have almost become part of our family.

 Our first real foray into the world of imaginary friends came when The Author was in preschool. She introduced us to Maybedee.  Maybedee did everything a year or so ahead of The Author. She was in kindergarten and got to do lots of fun things at the Urban Sea School. These adventures were usually shared with us in a great amount of detail. For a while, we were treated to daily renditions of how Maybedee spent her time and the vacations and adventures she had. But, like all imaginary friends, she eventually disappeared. Who knows, maybe she’ll pop up in a children’s book series some day.

About this same time, The Artist got a little bobble-head dalmation as a prize for a reading contest in first grade.  While this wasn’t technically an imaginary friend, she left specific instructions for the dog’s care and feeding while she was at school.  I’ve preserved her original spelling and punctuation.
dish is in geroge door.
Brafest at 1: AM
     Dogie walvles
Lunch at 10: pm
     Dogie sandwich’s
Dinner at 12 11: pm
     Dogie lisanya
Desert at 13: at night
     Dogie Ice cream
The next imaginary friend to stay a while was Porky. Porky was a porcupine and a friend to Mr. Adventure. Porky popped up every now and then, but the most memorable adventure with Porky was his funeral. One day we were driving and saw a heap of porcupine roadkill along the side of the road. Mr. Adventure informed us that this was Porky and we needed to hold a funeral. He wrote out exactly what food should be served:
Breakfast: Banana deluxe miracle pancakes with whipped cream and hot cocoa
Lunch: Bambinos, fruit salad, and Sprite Up (7-Up plus Sprite)
Dinner: Diner Dash tacos, root beer, nuclear dino eggs, and beef jerky
Desserts: Trash cake (gummy worms MUST be included, must be baked in a 4×4 or 6×6 pan) dessert pizza, and candy land surprize!
Little Miss Sunshine also added to the imaginary porcupine family with Porcalina, and while she popped up from time to time, she didn’t stick around much after Porky’s funeral.

It had been a while since we’ve had any imaginary friends stop by.  However, for the past few months Princess has been talking about her friends from Leaf Town.  She will throw these friends into her conversations and toss in snippets like, “Oh, I did that with my other sister at Leaf Town.”  One day she told me that Leaf gave her a silver guitar for her birthday and she will get to bring it to our house and then she can rock out.  It will be interesting to see how long her Leaf Town friends stick around.
Have you had imaginary friends visit your house?  What kind of adventures have they had?

Integrity and Spelling Bees

As a mom, there are certain values that I try to embody in myself as well as encouraging them in my children.  One of these is integrity.  We’ve tried to instill a sense of honesty in our kids, but I believe that integrity goes beyond just being honest.  When you have integrity you make the choices that are morally right, even if it isn’t popular or if no one else knows.

Image source

Yesterday and today I watched The Author, Mr. Adventure, and Little Miss Sunshine participate in spelling bees.  I never would have thought that spelling bees and integrity would go hand in hand, but I’ve discovered that they do.  The Author had her contest yesterday.  She stayed calm, cool and collected and advanced to the school district competition.  I was mentally taking notes of the words thinking that I could quiz the other two later on.  Then her teacher dropped the bomb on me that all of the competitions used the same words!  I knew I had a choice — I could cheat and coach the other two on the exact words they would have, or I could keep those to myself and just help them with random words.
Little Miss Sunshine asked me to quiz her and wouldn’t you know it, the first word I saw as I looked at her list was one of the competition words.  I took a deep breath and looked down the list for another word.  Was it an easy choice to make?  Yes and no.  My protective instincts tried to kick in and I wanted to make sure my nervous kids would succeed.  On the other hand, I knew that I  couldn’t spit in the face of all the discussions and lessons we have had on being honest and showing integrity.  After the written round of the competition today, I knew that both Mr. Adventure and Little Miss Sunshine would probably not move to the oral round.  But that’s okay.  They still have next year and the year after that, etc. to move through the different levels.

Image source

We also had an opportunity to discuss integrity while I was driving Mr. Adventure and Little Miss Sunshine to their competition.  They were talking about a school friend that intentionally misspelled every word at the grade level testing so that he wouldn’t be asked to participate.  I asked if there could have been a better way to handle his desire to not participate.  We settled on the solution that you should do your best and try to spell the words correctly, but then politely turn down the invitation to compete at the school level.

I think we all learned something and strengthened our desire to show integrity.

Linking up:  Foley Fam

Halloween costumes — Doctor Who, Perry & Doofenshmirtz, Harry Potter

We tend to get some creative Halloween costume ideas around our house.  This year The Artist decided to be Doctor Who.  Surprisingly, this was much easier to pull off than I had expected.
Take a white dress shirt and black pants, add a thrifted tweed jacket, bow tie, crocheted fez and of course, a sonic screwdriver.  (We didn’t get around to the faux-suspenders out of wide, grosgrain ribbon.) 
We tried some sock-bun curls.  (There are tutorials all over Pinterest.)  I think it’s a learned art, but they didn’t turn out too bad.

Oh, can’t forget the “Trust Me, I’m the Doctor” earrings!

Shirt: JCPenney, Pants: ??, Jacket: Goodwill, 
Bowtie: Etsy, Fez: made by me, Earrings: Etsy, Sonic Screwdriver: ThinkGeek
Mr. Adventure and Buddy teamed up with a Doofenshmirtz/Perry the Platypus combination. 

 The Doofenshmirtz ensemble is based off of a Phineas & Ferb episode where Perry gets hold of a remote control and controls Doof’s every move.  A hilarious rap song ensues — “There’s a platypus controlling me . . .”  Mostly this costume was thrown together with bits and pieces.  We found the records at Goodwill.

The cute Perry outfit was made by my SIL.  It’s a simple fleece hooded jumpsuit with a foam tail sewn on the back.  We added a foam visor and drew the nostrils with black Sharpie.

Our Harry Potter robe is now in its fifth or sixth year of use!  Little Miss Sunshine wore it this year. 

I made the robe out of two black pillowcases:  a king-size for the robe itself, and a standard size for the sleeves.  (Hand-sewn when my sewing machine was on the fritz.)
Unpick the seams of the standard pillowcase and cut on the fold for two equal panels.  Resew the side seam on each to form the sleeve. (The finished edge is the bottom of the sleeves.)  Unpick part of the bottom seam on the king pillowcase for a neck opening.  Unpick the side seams near the bottom for a sleeve-sized hole.  Sew the raw edges of the sleeve and robe together being careful not to sew the opening closed.  And there you have a Hogwarts-style robe.  Add a house badge and a wand.