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Category: Fun Stuff

  1. Friday, March 24

    Show and Tell Time!

    I haven’t done Show and Tell in SO LONG. It’s time.

    Julie's Greenroom, now streaming on Netflix (Julie Andrews and the Jim Henson Company team up to teach kids about theater)

    TV Loves

    Okay, so Netflix is keeping us busy lately. Here are a few of our recent favorite discoveries:

    • Julie’s Greenroom. Julie Andrews is the best person EVER, amiright? I just discovered that she has a new Jim Henson Company children’s show streaming on Netflix called Julie’s Greenroom. I already know I love it and I haven’t even watched it. Here’s an article from The Guardian that gives a nice summary of the show. My kids are going to be watching this show no matter what.
    • The OA. Have you watched The OA yet? WHAT DID YOU THINK?!?!?! I’m not even 100% sure I know what I think about it all, but I do know we blasted through the first season in about half a second. It was crazy and fun and mysterious and that-last-episode-what-the-what?!?!
    • The Grinder. This comedy series starring Fred Savage and Rob Lowe originally aired on Fox and is now streaming on Netflix. Nate and I cannot figure out why it was cancelled after one season because it’s hysterical. We’re considering watching all the episodes again because we need more Grinder in our life! (Hey, Netflix, maybe a Season 2? Just sayin’…)
    • Hap & Leonard. Netflix recently suggested this show to us and Netflix was right again. This Sundance series is great. We’re only about halfway through the first season but we are totally loving it. Also, OMAR. (If you see the name Omar and know what I’m talking about, then you’ll know you need to watch this show.)

    Be sure to check out Robyn Stone's new cookbook "Add a Pinch," an easier, fresher approach to Southern cooking

    Cookbook Loves

    One of my long-time blogging friends Robyn Stone just published a beautiful cookbook and I’m so excited for her! Robyn has been blogging at Add a Pinch for many years (seriously, I’ve known her forever in blog years!) and has published her cookbook of the same name. It’s as beautiful as I anticipated it would be and I can’t wait to dive into the recipes she shares in the book. The premise of her book is easy, fast, fresh Southern classics, which sounds just about perfect to me. A big congratulations to Robyn on the birth of her book baby! I am so happy for her and she deserves the very best! You can pick up Robyn’s book on Amazon.

    Seaworthy shop in Carlsbad, CA + SAND+GRIT jewelry - Fab Faves from @janemaynard

    Local Loves

    I need to throw out some local love from here in North County San Diego. If you’re local or vacation in North County San Diego, be sure to check out the recently re-opened shop Seaworthy in Carlsbad Village. My talented friend Ashley now owns the store and is doing beautiful things there.

    Thanks to Ashley’s store I just now have discovered SAND+GRIT jewelry, made by a local artisan in Carlsbad. I LOVE HER STUFF SO MUCH. I wear my new triangle necklace and copper cuffs every day. The Seven Earring in 14K Rose Gold is next on my to-buy list. Bonus: SAND+GRIT is high quality and affordable, a great combo. You don’t have to be in Carlsbad to get your hands on this awesome jewelry…just visit their website! (And good luck not buying everything.)

    That’s it for me today. As you know, Show and Tell is for the whole class…feel free to share anything you like in the comments! (And, if you watched The OA, seriously, I want to know what you thought!)


  2. Wednesday, January 11

    Anna’s Hamburger Birthday Cake

    Like most parents, I come up short in lots of ways. But there is one thing I am committed to as a mom that I have yet to fail on: birthday cakes. (I probably should knock on wood after making such a bold statement!) I blame my own mother for this obsession, thanks to the truly memorable birthday cakes she made for me as a child. Each year I let the kids choose whatever they want for their cake and then I tackle it. So far I’ve had pretty good success and I love sharing the cakes with you so you can make them, too!

    How to Make a Hamburger Birthday Cake from @janemaynard

    Anna had her birthday last month and requested a hamburger birthday cake. (This girl has a thing for cakes that look like savory foods, apparently.) It was her “family year,” which means no party, just a fun night with the fam. Rogue One came out on her birthday, so we went and saw the movie together. She could pick anywhere to go out to eat but decided to do takeout hamburgers and come home to eat in the living room while watching old Gilmore girls episodes. Naturally a hamburger birthday cake was in order!

    Anna and I did some searching on Pinterest and found a lot of ugly hamburger cakes as well as a lot of cakes that were just too much work. But then one caught our eye on a blog called Gluesticks. The mom had used unfrosted chocolate and vanilla cakes to make the bun and hamburger patty. Genius!

    How to Make a Hamburger Birthday Cake from @janemaynard

    Here is how I made the cake and a few notes for you if you decide to tackle this project yourself. (Click here for the Gluesticks instructions. She piped frosting for most of the decorating, but I hate washing frosting tips so took a little bit of a different approach.)

    • Make 2 yellow cake rounds and 1 chocolate cake round, all the same size, for the bun and hamburger.
    • For the lettuce: toss shredded coconut in the green liquid food coloring. Tip: I didn’t let the “lettuce” hang off the edges enough, wish I had concentrated more coconut to hang over the edges so you could see the lettuce better.
    • For the mayonnaise: Use white buttercream frosting in between layers 1 and 2 and layers 2 and 3, frosting out to the edge so you can see the “mayo.”
    • For the veggies and cheese: Either use marzipan or white rolled fondant. Separate and make a few different colors – red, green and yellow-orange. Roll the fondant/marzipan flat then cut into the shapes you need. I cut triangles freehand with a knife in the yellow fondant for the cheese. I used a medium-sized, smooth-edge round cookie cutter for the tomatoes. I used a small-sized, ripple-edged round cookie cutter for the pickles.
    • For the seeds: Pipe white frosting on top for the seeds!
    • I recommend using smaller round cake pans. I used my 9-inch cake pans and, well, it was SO MUCH CAKE. Plus I think the dome would have held better if the cake had been smaller. Bottom line: 9 inches was too big, 8 inches probably would have felt too big, too. However, those sizes will work for sure if that’s all you have or if you do in fact need a lot of cake. Otherwise, go with smaller cake pans!
    • Make sure you grease and flower the pans REALLY WELL and use parchment paper on the bottom. My cake ended up sticking to the pan a little too much on the edges in some parts. Those parts did not look pretty and I had to hide them in the back.
    • Do not use cake strips for this cake, at least for the yellow cake rounds. You want the yellow cake to dome so that the top resembles a hamburger bun. Two quick notes: First, you will still want to level one of the yellow layers and the chocolate layer since they will be stacked. Just the top yellow layer should have a dome. Second, my cakes did dome in the oven but for some reason settled down flat after cooling – I think it was the homemade cake recipe I used. I think boxed cake mix may work better in this instance. If your cake does go flat, I recommend putting more frosting between the 2nd and 3rd layers, concentrated in the middle to make the top layer “poof” up a bit more like a bun. (I didn’t do that and you can see that my bun looks flat.)

    Click here for my cake decorating post with TONS of tips for making and decorating cute cakes. That post also includes the buttercream recipe I used.

    Happy hamburger birthday cake making!


  3. Monday, November 21

    Easy Turkey Pudding Craft Perfect for Thanksgiving

    Before we take off on our Thanksgiving travels, I have to share this super cute, crazy easy Thanksgiving kids craft with you. Owen brought it home from school. It’s so simple and so cute (and so delicious…I love Hunt’s Pudding Snack Packs for some reason!) even I would do this craft with my kids. That is really saying something. I’m like the anti-craft mom.

    Simple and Easy Turkey Pudding Craft Perfect for Thanksgiving!

    Materials:

    • Chocolate Pudding Snack Pack
    • Small Googly Eyes
    • Construction paper, cut into feather shapes and small orange triangles for the nose

    Simple and Easy Turkey Pudding Craft Perfect for Thanksgiving!

    How To Make the Turkey Pudding Craft:

    • Flip the pudding snack pack upside down.
    • Using either a hot glue gun or scotch tape, attach the eyes, nose and tail feathers.
    • All done!

    You could even have the kids make these and then put them on the table at each place setting for decoration. It will keep them busy while the grown-ups are cooking and make them feel like they’ve contributed.

    I never thought I would say this on the blog…but…Happy Crafting!


  4. Sunday, November 20

    Week 513 Menu, THANKSGIVING and ‘Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life’ is Almost Here!

    Happy Thanksgiving Week! I’m going old-school-This-Week-for-Dinner and doing a weekly menu post filled with all kinds of stuff. Here we go!

    THIS WEEK’S MENU

    We were originally going to be hosting Thanksgiving here at our home, but plans have changed and now we’re driving to Utah to be with family there. Which means I don’t need to plan a menu for this week because we’ll be traveling. But if YOU have a menu planned for this week, please share it in the comments!

    classic pumpkin pie with homemade pie crust at @janemaynard

    THANKSGIVING!

    This November I’ve been feeling a lot of gratitude. Things have also been a little quiet here on the blog, on my podcast and on my social media channels. You see, two weeks ago I was in a car accident. I’m not going to get into details for now, and I am recovering very well. That said, the accident was scary and unexpected. In the end, though, it could have been so much worse and, from the moment the car came to a stop and I knew I was okay, I felt nothing but gratitude throughout the entire experience. That gratitude carried me through. And now, entering the busiest time of year, I’ve not only been forced to slow down, but I’ve also thought a lot about just how lucky and blessed I am. Instead of feeling frustrated by not being able to do more this November I’m just taking it in stride and letting it be a positive experience. Here’s to a holiday season that is less about the busy and more about the gratitude and love.

    That is why I haven’t been posting much or sharing any new recipes for Thanksgiving. But that’s okay, I’ve got tons of great Thanksgiving content on the blog already. If you’re looking for assistance for the big feast this week, I have some links you need to peruse!

    If you have your Thanksgiving feast planned, please share that in the comments! Links to recipes always welcome!

    We can't wait to bingewatch "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life" on Netflix this Thanksgiving weekend! Woohoo!

    GILMORE GIRLS IS ALMOST HERE!

    Forget the accident, I think the new Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life episodes airing on Netflix the day after Thanksgiving is why I am feeling truly grateful this year. Just kidding! (Mostly.)

    Netflix sent me an adorable package filled with goodies to help us enjoy the new episodes. I’m still not sure if I’m going to bingewatch or spread out the new episodes, but the mailer got me and my girls watching old episodes together this weekend and it’s been so much fun. Nate is still flummoxed by the fact I can watch Gilmore Girls over and over and over again. (To be honest, I’m a little flummoxed by it myself.) Psst…I have an inside source who has already seen the new episodes. This little birdie didn’t give me any details (it’s a good birdie) but she did say that the new episodes are SO GOOD. Are you as excited as I am?!?!?! WOOHOO!!!!

    And with that I am DONE. I kind of love today’s post. I don’t have to plan a weekly menu (I know, ironic). THANKSGIVING! And GIMORE GIRLS! As I mentioned before, if you have a weekly menu and/or Thanksgiving plan to share in the comments, please do. And, of course, any and all discussion of the Gilmore Girls is welcome! Happy Thanksgiving Week!


  5. Friday, October 28

    Friday Show and Tell: The Best Plastic Wrap, Cool (Actually, Warm!) Lightbulbs and The Perfect Netflix Halloween

    Happy Friday! I have a few things to share with you today for Show and Tell.

    Costco Seriously DOES Have the Best Plastic Wrap

    People have been telling me for years to get the Kirkland plastic wrap at Costco. There is no good reason why I haven’t, I just never did. Well, this week there was a guy on the end of the aisle at Costco sampling plastic wrap. The kids were not super excited about those samples but I was! It meant I finally remembered to buy the darn stuff. And, good news, you don’t have to buy it in a truck-sized box anymore, it comes in two smaller boxes that actually fit in your kitchen drawer or cabinet. So, why do I love it? It sticks to itself and glass beautifully. AND that little slider cutter things is the best thing ever in the history of the world.

    I LOVE Costco's Kirkland Plastic Food Wrap So Much! from @janemaynard

    Finally Acandescent Lightbulbs

    This week I tried out a new kind of lightbulb, which I was pretty excited about. (I think you know you’re old when lightbulbs become exciting.) Here’s the deal: I really don’t like LED and fluorescent (CFL) lightbulbs. I will admit that both kinds of lights have improved significantly over the years, with more size and shape options as well as LEDs that come in different light temperatures, from warm to cool. But I have yet to find a non-incandescent bulb that I really love and find that my LED and CFL lights both offer a more “harsh” light, even when the temperature is warmer. Finally Light Bulb Company contacted me to see if I would like to try out their acandescent bulbs. I was totally game because of my mixed feelings about LED and CFL lights.

    Review of Finally Acandescent Lightbulbs by @janemaynard

    Finally uses what they call acandescent technology, based on a decades-old induction technology. The result is a lightbulb that is the same shape and size as a traditional bulb that offers a warm, soft white light. The best part for me is that the light is omnidirectional, meaning you don’t get those same harsh shadows that often come with LEDs and CFLs. And the level of warmth with these lightbulbs is perfect. Warm but not yellow, they give off a great soft white light.

    So, do we like the bulbs? Yes we do! We put them in one of the bedrooms and in all our lamps in the living room and have been very happy with them. Knowing that incandescent lights will be gone in a few years, it’s nice to have another lighting option to choose from. A few notes:

    • Finally’s acandescent lightbulbs are significantly more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, about the same as CFLs. LEDs are still the most efficient, but Finally comes pretty close.
    • Finally bulbs do contain mercury (you will see this on the label), but it’s the same amount as you find in a can of tuna, so very minimal. The bulbs are landfill safe and do not need to be disposed of the same way you would have to dispose of a CFL, which has more mercury levels.
    • The “omnidirectionality” (i.e. not as harsh or shadowy) and soft white color of the light from these bulbs is great.

    If you are interested, you can buy Finally Light Bulbs on their website, on Amazon or at Staples stores.

    If You Haven’t Watched Stranger Things Yet, Let’s Use Halloween As Your Excuse To Do So NOW

    Have you watched Stranger Things on Netflix? If the answer to that question is “No” then let’s just use Halloween as an excuse for you to remedy that situation RIGHT NOW. And while I’m glad I’ve already watched it, I’m a little jealous of you Stranger Things virgins out there. Because it is SO MUCH FUN the first time you watch it. It’s the best thing every in the history of the world (besides the Costco plastic wrap slider cutter thing, of course).

    Stranger Things on Netflix is my new favorite. From @janemaynard (poster courtesy Netflix)

    As usual, Show and Tell is for the whole class! If you have something you would like to share, please do so in the comments!


  6. Wednesday, October 26

    Sweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium Vinaigrette + Sodium Breakup + A Low-So Good Giveaway!

    I’m going to start a post about low-sodium eating with a crazy statement: I love salt. No, really. I LOVE SALT. So when I met my friend Jessica Goldman Foung (a.k.a. Sodium Girl) many moons ago, I have to be honest that low-sodium eating was something I had never even thought about. Then I heard Jessica’s story. In 2004 she was diagnosed with Lupus and learned that the autoimmune disease had attacked her kidneys and brain. As a result of all the craziness, she had to adjust her diet, including eating no sodium. This pretty much blew my mind. No sodium? How is that even possible? After following Jessica and her culinary adventures all these years she has proven to me that a life without sodium can be a rich and delicious one indeed. She is quite the inspiration.

    Sweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium Vinaigrette | Low-So Good | @janemaynard

    The American Heart Association recently asked if I would help spread the word about their new Sodium Breakup campaign. I was more than happy to so that people like me (a salt lover who could definitely improve her diet to help her heart) and people like Jessica (someone who had to give up salt to save her life) could both learn all about low-sodium eating. I was honored to be given the opportunity to write the kick-off post for the campaign on AHA’s website, which you can read by clicking here! Over the next few months you can keep checking in with the AHA to get all kinds of great low-sodium information, tips and more. The AHA is bound and determined to make your breakup with sodium a breakup you are happy about!

    And I have even more low-sodium goodness for you today: a book, a recipe and a giveaway!

    Sweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium Vinaigrette | Low-So Good | @janemaynard

    First, the book. Low-So Good is a beautiful resource written by my friend Jessica. The book has 70 mouthwatering recipes (hello, Jerk-ish Fish Tacos with Sauce, Slaw and Salsa, I need you in my life), but it is also a complete guide to low-sodium eating. Low-sodium novices and experts alike can benefit from what Jessica has to offer, and I love the guest articles peppered throughout the book from other food experts. The photography is gorgeous, the book is well organized and easy to read, and, best of all, Jessica’s infectiously happy personality shines through. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to cut some (or even all!) sodium from their diet…or really to anyone at all! Click here to buy Jessica’s book!

    Sweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium Vinaigrette | Low-So Good | @janemaynard

    Second, the recipe. A really helpful part of Jessica’s book is advice for eating in restaurants when you’re trying to go low-so. One of my favorite recipes in the entire book is MacGyver Vinaigrette. It’s more of a formula than a recipe, providing the guidance you need to make a salad dressing on the fly with ingredients you can find at restaurants. It’s awesome. So today I’m sharing one of my MacGyver no-sodium vinaigrette creations, which is sweet and zesty! The recipe is below and sized for one serving.

    Sweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium Vinaigrette | Low-So Good | @janemaynardSweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium Vinaigrette | Low-So Good | @janemaynard

    Lastly, the giveaway! One of you lucky, randomly-selected people will win a copy of Jessica’s book Low-So Good. Here is how to enter! (All comments must be posted before Midnight PT Wednesday 11/2/16. Prize must be shipped to an address in the U.S.)

    And now for a no-sodium salad that will make your taste buds super happy! And good luck with your sodium breakup adventures!

    Sweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium Vinaigrette | Low-So Good | @janemaynard

    Sweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium Vinaigrette
     
    Prep time
    Total time
     
    Inspired by "Low-So Good" by Jessica Goldman Foung. If you're trying to eat low-sodium, this on-the-fly dressing can be thrown together at a restaurant! (Or at home. Because it's good no matter where you eat it.)
    Author:
    Serves: 1 serving
    Ingredients
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 teaspoons lime juice (about 4 lime slices)
    • 1 teaspoon honey
    • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • Generous pinch black pepper
    Instructions
    1. In a small bowl or in a small mason jar, add all of the ingredients. Whisk with a fork or shake well.
    2. Serve over salad!

     

     

     


  7. Tuesday, October 25

    Vote for Clean Air and a Happy Earth This November!

    Hey, guys. I don’t get political here on the ol’ blog. I believe all sides of all issues have valid arguments and, well, this is a food blog and not really the place to hash out those issues and arguments. But you do know that I care deeply about the environment and write about environmental issues all the time. In addition to caring about the environment, I am a firm believer in the idea that every little bit helps and that all of our cumulative small actions lead to big change, hence a focus on my blog over the years on things like cutting paper towels, composting and eating less meat.

    Clean Air Moms Action - Pledge to Vote for the Environment!

    In case you weren’t aware, there is an election in two weeks. (Hahahahaha! I am so funny!) I am not publicly backing any candidates or telling you which way you should vote. But I am excited about voting and have gotten more involved on the local level this year than I ever have. I am really excited to turn in my ballot and have loved talking with my kids about the election. I was recently approached by the Clean Air Moms Action to see if I’d be willing to encourage the same excitement among my readers and I was like, YES! And, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, I also want to encourage you to consider clean air, environmental factors and climate change when you vote.

    I am not a one-issue voter, but if I was, the environment would be that issue for me. I feel like this election season (and society at large) is like Game of Thrones. In Game of Thrones you have all these warring and competing political factors, all vying for power, all doing anything and everything to get that power. But while that squabbling is happening, “winter is coming,” i.e. literal winter but also those scary glassy-eyed White Walkers that the politicians don’t even believe exist. For me climate change is that proverbial winter. We are concerned with all these other issues while the environment, the one thing that is absolutely crucial to our survival, gets largely ignored. Rising waters are eating away at our coastline (interesting NY Times report here and Wharton podcast here). Drought will not go away. CRAZY WEATHER (no links necessary!). All of it is happening, and yet the presidential debates barely touched the issue, with 82 seconds in the first debate, one question from the audience for the second debate (go Ken Bone!), and two seconds in the third debate, despite the fact that “How will you address climate change?” was the fourth most popular question submitted to the Open Debate Coalition. What the WHAT.

    Okay, obviously I have a strong opinion about all of this, so I’m going to cut myself short and just ask you to think about the environment when you vote. I’m not asking you to make it your one issue (although I’d be cool with that! ;)), I just want you to give it some good consideration. The changing climate is impacting food production and so much more. Let’s get ahead of the problem and make some positive changes, starting with our elected representatives and ballot initiatives!

    There are tons of great voter guides online, partisan and non-partisan alike, where you can find out where candidates stand on this issue. If you’re a fan of the Sierra Club, you can view their endorsements on this page. Seek out good resources and learn all you can. Vote as if your child’s health depends on it…because it does!

    And if you are feeling as pumped up about this issue as I am, go to Clean Air Moms Action and pledge to vote!

    We live in an imperfect yet great country and I am grateful for my opportunity to participate in our democracy. Happy Voting! Happy Earth!

    This post was produced with support from Clean Air Moms Action.


  8. Friday, October 7

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party!

    If you’ve been reading my blog for at least the last year then you know that I love making cute birthday cakes for my kids. It’s pretty much the only “supermom” thing I do. I think it’s because my mom made cute cakes for us growing up, so I simply cannot not make fun birthday cakes! Owen recently celebrated his 5th birthday and asked for a monster-themed birthday party. I thought I would shared how I made his cute yet simple monster birthday cake as well as give you a quick outline of the whole party. It was a lot of fun and easy to pull together, so I need to share the love!

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party How-To

    The Party

    • GAMES: We played two classic party games. First, Pin the Eye on the Monster. Owen and I drew the monster on posterboard then I printed out eyeballs for the kids to attach. Click here to download a PDF of the eyeballs. In addition we played Hot Potato with a stuffed monster. The kids LOVED. THE. GAMES.

    Pin the Eye on the Monster! (i.e. pin the tail on the donkey monster edition!) from @janemaynard including FREE PDF template for the eyes!

    • FELT MONSTER PUPPETS: For the main activity we made felt monster puppets! I bought felt squares at Joann’s Fabrics. I used a very simple template I created for the monster head (click here to download the template). Cut out two of each color, then hot glue gun the two pieces together, gluing around the entire edge EXCEPT the flat bottom, leaving that open (it’s a puppet, you need a place to stick your hand!). I provided the kids with cut up felt shapes, pipe cleaners, pom poms and googly eyes. The kids assembled their puppets on the floor. As they finished their designs, I carefully carried the puppets into another room. The kids played while my friend and I hot glue gunned everything onto the puppets! If you have more than a few kids, you should definitely have two glue guns and two people gluing so it doesn’t take too long. (Thanks to my friend Marie from Make and Takes for the felt puppet inspiration!)

    Simple Felt Monster Puppets for a Monster-Themed Birthday Party from @janemaynard

    • FOOD: Monster Cake (see below for instructions), ice cream and water. Easy peasy!
    • PRESENTS: We opened the presents while everyone was still at the party. I’ve started doing the coolest thing for the thank you notes. I take a picture of my child with their friend and the gift they gave with my phone. I then use the Postagram app to write up quick thank you notes (I make the kids help – I type the note while they dictate). Postagram automatically mails the postcards, then the friends not only get a thank you note but a picture from the party! It’s really cute and makes you seem like a super put-together parent (even if you’re not!). 😉
    • GOODIE BAGS: Simple goodie bags included monster pencils, monster bendables and monster lollipops.
    • DECORATIONS: These monster wall decals worked great for decorating. I added a couple of mylar balloons from The Dollar Tree and a few hanging decorations from Party City. Done!

    That’s it. Two hours of monster party fun that was cost effective and simple for me to implement, even during a busy work week. Heads up: We made 12 puppets and it took me a couple of hours to prep all the felt for the monster puppets (I worked on that while watching TV one night).

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake How-To

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party How-To

    And now for the cake. This simple monster birthday cake was one of the easiest cakes I’ve made yet. NO PIPING NECESSARY. Woohoo! Decorating the cake still takes some time (it took me about 2 hours to do all of the decorating; that does not count baking the cake the day before), but this cake design is very simple and definitely doable for all skill levels.

    Be sure to read my Cake Decorating Guide before diving in. That post has all of my tips for successfully decorating cakes as well as the recipes I use for the chocolate cake and buttercream frosting.

    • Step 1: Bake a 9″ x 13″ cake. Level cake if needed, wrap in plastic or parchment paper and freeze until hard.

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake from @janemaynard - How to Shape the Cake

    • Step 2: Place cake top side down on a cutting board. Simply cut two corners off with a curve to the cut, like you see in the photo above. The corners should be on one short end of the rectangle. The resulting cake will look like a gravestone.
    • Step 3: Do a crumb coat frosting layer then freeze or refrigerate until hardened.
    • Step 4: While the crumb coat is hardening, make the eyes and mouth. I bought white rolled fondant and black rolled fondant (Wilton’s makes fondant, I buy mine at Michael’s or Joann’s). I colored some of the white fondant blue. Click here for a free printable PDF of the eyeball and mouth template. Print one copy of this page. Roll out the white fondant and place the full eyeball template on top. With a sharp knife cut around the circle. Set the large white fondant circle aside. Roll out blue fondant then cut the eyeball template down to the size of the blue circle. Place on the rolled blue fondant, cut the circle and set aside. Repeat process again for the black circle and small white circle. Stack all the circles so they look like the original eyeball template. For the mouth, roll out the black fondant, place the mouth template on top then cut around the edge, forming the oval shape. Next cut just one of the teeth shapes from the mouth template and use that with the white fondant to make six teeth. Place white fondant pieces on the black fondant mouth. Set aside.

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party How-To

    • Step 5: Frost the cake with blue icing, using a knife or cake spreader to make icing on the top and sides as smooth as you can. Wash and dry your hands. Using your index finger, make little swirl marks all over the top of the monster so it looks like fur.
    • Step 6: Place the eyeball and mouth on the cake like you see in the picture above. You’re done!

    I’m super happy with how everything turned out, but in the end finding Owen looking at his cake like this was definitely the best part!

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party How-To


  9. Friday, September 30

    Friday Show and Tell: Entertainment for your weekend!

    Hi friends! It’s Friday Show and Tell time, and today it’s all about watching and listening to good stuff. This should keep you busy over the weekend, when you’re not cheering on Stanford football, that is. 😉

    Netflix

    Netflix just keeps on keeping on with the great content. Here are a few things I’m most excited about this week:

    Disney on Netflix!

    • Disney on Netflix! It’s official – Netflix is the only place you can stream Disney movies on a pay TV service, which means they will continue to keep adding great Disney films to Netflix all the time. Zootopia is on there right now (my kids are obsessed) and Robin Hood. (We all had a crush on that sly fox when we were kids, right? Just me?)

    Marvel's Luke Cage on Netflix!

    • As of today we can finally watch Luke Cage! Luke Cage is the third of the Marvel Defenders series on Netflix and I can’t wait to get watching. We liked Daredevil a lot (although still need to watch Season 2), loved Jessica Jones and anticipate adding Luke to our list of favorite superheroes.

    Amanda Knox on Netflix

    • I’m intrigued by the new documentary Amanda Knox. They say if you liked Making a Murderer then this one is right up your alley (and it’s simply a movie rather than a whole series, which is kind of nice, actually).

    Narcos Season 2 on Netflix (one of our FAVORITES)

    • I almost forgot! Have you watched Narcos yet? We blasted through Season 2 in less than a week. SO GOOD.

    Music

    Just a heads up that I added a bunch of songs to my Kitchen Tunage playlist on Spotify (it’s been a while). Also, I created a new playlist called Happy Music. These are all the songs I made my family listen to in the car on my birthday. They make me car dance like a fool. Enjoy!

    I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, which means they send me cool stuff from time to time. For the record, I would be addicted to Netflix in spite of said cool stuff.


  10. Friday, July 29

    Friday Show and Tell: Stranger Things & More!

    Happy Friday!

    For this week’s Show and Tell I have two things to share. First, my new car that’s not really my car but I wish it was. Second, NETFLIX. Oh man, Netflix, you are too good these days. Stranger Things has me hooked. But more on that in a moment…

    Toyota Highlander for our family vacation (from @janemaynard)

    Okay, so the car! We are currently on our annual visit-the-family-all-over-the-northeast trip and Toyota lent us a Highlander for our adventures. I am loving this car and do not mind one bit having to drive it mile after mile after mile. So far my two favorite things (besides the smooth ride) are the fact that the car tells me what the speed limit is at any given time, which is especially helpful on these windy east coast roads with constantly changing speed limits, as well as the remote lock feature. You just have to touch the handle of the car to lock and unlock the car – it is so handy not having to dig my keys out of my purse that literally eats things. Anyway, the Highlander is a sweet ride and works great packing 5 kids in the back for our summer adventuring with the cousins. Big thanks to Toyota for the perfect car for our family vacation!

    Okay, so Netflix. People. If you don’t have Netflix yet, get on that. It just gets better and better all the time. Here are a few shows I’m especially loving and/or excited about.

    Stranger Things on Netflix is my new favorite. From @janemaynard (poster courtesy Netflix)

    Stranger Things

    Are you kidding me, this show is AWESOME. It’s fun and well done and the characters rule and the 80s throwback feel is perfection and everything about it is the best. This show is also scary in the best kind of way. I am not surprised that Stephen King loves it as much as I do. (I still have two more episodes to watch, so no spoilers!)

    Beat Bugs on Netflix - new kids show featuring Beatles music. From @janemaynard (artwork courtesy of Netflix)

    Beat Bugs

    Apparently Beat Bugs, a cartoon for kids featuring Beatles music sung by current artists, is ridiculously adorable and fun, and it comes out next week. Can’t wait to show it to my kids! Fun fact: the creators of Beat Bugs are also going to be releasing a yet-to-be-named Motown-themed show as well. I might even be more excited for Motown than Beatles music. Fun stuff, and excited to have my kids get to know all of this great, classic music.

    Gilmore girls: A Year in the Life airing November 25, 2016!

    Gilmore girls: A Year in the Life

    We have an air date! I repeat, we have an air date! Gilmore girls: A Year in the Life will be available on November 25. That is going to be the best day ever. Thanksgiving leftovers and 6 hours of new Gilmore girls shows to watch. I CAN’T WAIT.

    That’s it for today! Happy driving and watching!

    I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, which means they send me cool stuff from time to time. For the record, I would be addicted to Netflix in spite of said cool stuff.