Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tutorial Tuesday: all-vegan Coca Cola Flag Cake

This tutorial is going to be filed under "very-obvious-duh" tutorials, much like last week's. Still, it is a fun little tutorial that is a family tradition every Fourth of July.



First, you may be wondering...what is Coca Cola® cake? Well, my friends, being as we live in Atlanta, we make recipes with this stuff. Our blood flows with it. In fact, Coke® is such a part of our culture that when we offer someone a drink we say, "What kind of Coke® would you like?" and that covers every form of carbonated substance from Orange soda to Sprite®!

Anyway, this is the recipe I used for the cake base. Since this tutorial is not revolving around the base of the cake, I'm just going to include the ingredients...sorry, no step-by-step instructions...just mix everything together in the order listed and then bake at 350 for 45 minutes:
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups Coca Cola® (feel free to substitute with warm water if using coke in a recipe makes you squeamish!)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil (or 2/3 cup oil and no applesauce)
1/3 cup applesauce (or 2/3 cup applesauce and no oil)
2 Tbsp distilled white or apple cider vinegar
{* Note: If you don't want to make that cake, you can use a brownie base or a cake-in-a-box cake! Whatever works it is just our family tradition to have a chocolate something...}

Take your "cake base" and allow it to cool. Once cool, flip it over onto a nice platter like so:



To make vegan frosting you can do a number of things (usually involving confectionery sugar). I chose to make cream cheese frosting so I used confectionery sugar and "Better Than Cream Cheese" by the makers of Tofutti.

The tofu cream cheese is a little hard so I let it sit out for a bit (around half an hour) before I work with it.



Scrape all the tofu cream cheese goodness into a mixer and start whipping it. From time to time, scrape down the edges so that all of the cream "cheese" gets uniformly whipped.



While that is in the mixer, wash your fruit. It is very very important that the fruit is dry by the time you place it on your cake...



While your fruit is drying, now is the time to add the sugar to the whipped cream "cheese". While the mixer is running, slowly add the confectionery sugar until you reach a thick liquid texture.



I like to continue to whip the sugar + cream "cheese" for a while longer--this ensures that it is fluffier and easier to spread. While that is mixing, cut up your strawberries. If they are big strawberries, cut them in fourths so that you have maximum red exposure with each slice. If they are on the smaller side, cutting them down the middle will suffice



Once you've finished slicing, that the frosting should be ready. Pour it over the cake base and gently covering the entire base with the frosting.



Wait about 5 minutes for the frosting to set. Go fold your laundry or write an email.

Okay...done?

Good--time to add the stars and stripes! Take your DRY blueberries and place them in the top left corner of the cake. Obviously, on a 9x13 cake, you will not be able to get 50 "stars" but you can pretend :)



Now, add the strawberries in rows, leaving space for the "white stripe"...again, you most likely will not get 13 stripes but you can try! and...now you are finished! yay!

Ta-Da! All-Vegan Coca Cola® Flag Cake!



Happy Fourth First of July Last Day of June! Thanks Holly Noelle!


Winner: Peaches & Palm Trees!

We have a winner for the Peaches & Palm Trees Giveaway!




Thanks to all those last-minute entries...it really paid off this time!

The winner is...

Suzanne

Congratulations, Suzanne! I'll be contacting you soon!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ooo la la...a discount!



Designer Denise from Whimsy Couture (our current Fab Friday Giveaway! Enter! Go now! Enter!) is extending a special TWENTY PERCENT OFF her store for all Monkeys on the Bed! readers!

I told you she was generous!

If you'd like to buy something from Whimsy Couture now is the time--use code "monkeysonthebed" to receive 20% back on your purchase (as Etsy doesn't "do" coupon codes, Denise will refund 20% of your product costs, pre-shipping, back to your account)

And, while you're entering giveaways, don't forget that Kristin's Peaches & Palm Trees giveaway ends today!


I ❤ Faces: Week 25

This week's theme at I ❤ Faces is...


Wedding Bells!

We had one wedding this summer but we had to cancel our trip at the last minute due to J's work. It was such a bummer to not be able to attend. Since the next wedding on our horizon is in September, I decided to go with a picture from May 2008. Ironically, this picture is from the sister of my friend getting married in September...got all that?

The new Mrs. G has been our across-the-street neighbor since 1990. Crazy. She grew up 3 doors down from her husband but they never dated until years after college. Now that is crazy too. Who knew love was lurking right on their street? i love their story.

Anyway, they decided to hold their ceremony and reception at this amazing old house (Naylor Hall) in Old Roswell (one house that didn't get destroyed in Sherman's fiery march through the ATL)...

Mrs. G gave her nieces the thrill of their lifetime by letting them be her flower girls. Miss Faith outlasted her younger sister and clung to the column of Naylor Hall until the ceremony was over. She is such a ham in real life but i think she morphed into a little lady when she was wearing her precious white dress and gorgeous floral wreath headpiece...what do you think?



Make sure you head on over to I ❤ Faces to see more fabulous pictures of weddings!

PS My very talented father-in-law posted his very first I Heart Faces entry this week! Please please visit him this week! Sadly, his Wordpress Blog is all out of whack so you cannot comment (it will save you time!) but you can at least look! You can find his entry here.

PPS AND now my very talented sis-in-law, "Sledge", also posted her very first I Heart Faces entry...and she has blogspot so you can leave a comment for her! Check out her first entry here

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I've been tagged!


Christine, the gracious mama behind Southern Belle Dreaming tagged me a while back and I am finally getting around to thanking her publicly! Thank you, Christine!



My job is to list 6 {un}important things that make me happy...

  1. Sunday afternoons with my husband, J, and sweet Baby C...but, technically, that is important because it is our family time. We usually go for long walks in our neighborhood, dream about houses we could live in and admire gorgeous gardens. If C is lucky, we'll stop by a playground and let her swing!

  2. Hearing Baby C wake up in the morning and just babble sweetly to her animal friends in her crib.

  3. Farmer's Markets. Amy at Living Locurto tweeted about going to a Farmer's Market yesterday. J and I LOVE to go to them and chat with the farmers. What an interesting life they lead! It is so neat to hear the "behind-the-scenes" stories about the produce!

    What is even cooler is that our church volunteers every Saturday at a farmer's market right next to our building. Then we get to play "farmer"

  4. Winning a giveaway on someone's blog! That makes my month!

  5. Singing praise and worship songs in the car with my windows and sunroof open and the radio on loud! I especially love the singers that hail from my home church, Laura Story and Aaron Shust!

  6. Watching Baby C blossom into a little girl. It is SO fun to be a mom and every new discovery definitely makes me happy!
And now i get to tag 6 of you! I decided to make it really easy on me (hey! its the weekend! i'm lazy!) and tag the last 6 people who publicly followed me...and who have blogs...***ETA: 3 new people followed me today after I posted! Sorry to #197, #196, and #195 for missing out on the fun!***

  1. Janelle from Cavanagh Chronicle
  2. Ashley from The Miskels
  3. Tiffany from Walensky Photo {blog}<---I LOVE her photos!
  4. Sandra from What's all the Brew-Ha-Ha?
  5. Natalie from A Touch of Country
  6. Courtney from Courtney's Corner
If you were tagged and you don't want to play, don't worry! I just thought it would be fun to highlight a few of you new gals who are "tagging" along on my blog!

Speaking of which, I almost have 200 followers which is CRAZY. We might have to do a special giveaway when Monkeys on the Bed reaches that number! What do you think?

Oh yeah--and what makes you happy?


Super Saturday Sunday Steals!

Sorry everyone! Totally dropped the ball and didn't get on my computer at all since 9 AM yesterday. So nice--I could get used to being Internetless but then I'd miss everyone in the bloggy world. So, here i am!

To start off the super deals, I'd like to introduce a deal that is really quite incredible. Maybe some of you have noticed that new button I posted on the right sidebar. If not, here it is in all its flashy glory:


save $ on gDiapers 6 pack

What does it mean, you ask? Well, from now until July 31st, gDiapers.com is selling a 6 pack of gDiapers covers (3 orange and 3 vanilla) for $40. They are originally priced at $70, but since I am a gMum they are going to send me a coupon code that I can give out to as many friends as I'd like to get $30 off.

gDiapers started as an easy way to cloth diaper. Their inserts were biodegradeable (not cloth) and could be flushed easily. If you didn't want to flush them, you could use your diaper pail where they'd decompose within days instead of withing years! Baby C has been in gDiapers from the get-go.

Instead of buying her the disposable liners, though, we used cloth inserts so that the diaper would be completely reusable. gDiapers FINALLY came out with their own cloth diaper inserts this month so now you can have a reusable insert that fits perfectly into the diaper cover.

For all you diaper moms out there, think prefolds and covers but easier--no prefolding just inserting!

If you have ever entertained the idea of cloth diapering, this would be a great opportunity for you to try them out for a steal. gDiapers are $16.99 each, regularly. If you bought six a la carte, you'd pay about $102! $40 plus shipping is a great deal! Please know, though, that you are just getting the covers and the liners. You have to buy the inserts separately.

Maybe buy some for a friend for her baby shower or stock up on a 6-pack in each size (they come in 3 sizes--Baby C, at nearly 11-months, is still in the medium). Any way you cut it it is a fabulous deal!

What you need to do is click on the button above, add as many 6-packs to your cart as you'd like and then enter this code (it is case-sensitive so beware) g1090Schellhammer

And, if we are the people that sell the most with our code....we win a free trip to Portland! So, bonus savings for you and bonus trip for us!

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Okay! enough about gDiapers. Here are some more fab deals:

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BJ's is giving away a 60-day pass to their wholesale club! J and I are suckers for warehouse food stores--we love samples :) Yes, I know, pathetic, but still fun. We always get the large bins of salad, broccoli, gogurt, and frozen berries (so yummy in smoothies!)

Unlike some of the free passes to warehouse clubs, this free 60-day pass to BJ’s Wholesale Club comes with only one string attached: You must activate the pass by July 6, 2009 to get the deal. Unlike Sam's Club and Costco, it does not state that you’ll be required to pay a 10% service fee at checkout during the trial period.

Test it out by stocking up for your 4th of July picnic on the cheap! I think they even have cheap gas, too!

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back to diapers

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The Cloth Diaper Blog
is having a Kissaluvs giveaway. Check out those crazy prints and click on the picture for your chance to win!

FEED YOUR STASH Friday: A Kissaluvs Giveaway!

The Cloth Diaper Whisperer is giving away Thirsties covers and prefolds (kind of like what we talked about up there with the gDipes). Click on the picture to be taken to that giveaway--sooooo many chances to enter and win!



Apple Cheeks is at it again with another giveaway hosted by So Fawned. Click on the picture to be taken to her blog for your chance to win!



Jess at Monkey Toes Reviews and Giveaways is hosting a Smartipants giveaway. These diapers are similar to applecheeks in that they use snaps and you don't have to remove the insert before washing! (two very very nice features). Smartipants are smart for one other reason--they are economical! So, even if you don't win, you can easily buy them...but do check out the giveaway first!



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a few clothing steals...

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I know that if you spend $50 at Old Navy this weekend you'll receive a coupon for $20 off $20. FREE MONEY! Who can beat that?

Also, Gap is selling all their jeans for $19.99 IN STORE ONLY. I spoke with a cashier and he said they are making way for the new styles. Keep in mind, the styles will have the same name but be different--so your fave old style might not fit the same way it used to. Kind of tricky!

Do you know of any other great deals and steals going on out there?

Feel free to comment about your giveaway, Etsy store special, etc, too!



Friday, June 26, 2009

CLOSED: Fab Friday Giveaway: Whimsy Couture

{Don't forget! Still time to enter the Peaches & Palm Trees giveaway (ends Monday) and the twin's giveaway (ends today)!}

This week Denise behind the adorable Etsy store, Whimsy Couture, is my featured Fab Friday gifter. I've loved getting to know Denise over the past few weeks. She is incredibly kind, generous, and, of course, creative! Denise derives inspiration from her kids, nature, all the beautiful fabrics and colors.


After earning a degree in business management, Denise realized her true passion was designing. She began creating Barbie dresses and then began making things for pets of all kinds! Isn't that fun? I think Churchill would look fun in something whimsical...not sure what he'd think about that, though! In September of 2004 her first child was born so she turned her love of designing doll and pet cloths to baby clothes.

Want to know how she came up with the fun name for her store? Denise's favorite things to make are anything whimsical! She loves appliques, ruffles, and mixing fabrics. But, you will also find very classic, timeless garments in solid colors in Whimsy Couture.

Now, I'll admit--sometimes I'll look at Etsy stores and think I could make the stuff I see. Well, I will never be as creative or an accomplished enough seamstress to sew the beautiful items at Whimsy Couture. But if you think you are, today is your lucky day--as if Denise wasn't busy enough, she started offering sewing tutorials as well! Now you can make the items in Denise's store without guessing the dimenions, etc. How genius!

Now to the fun part--seeing Denise's fabulous creations:

She makes the most adorable appliqued shirts



and sweet sweet twirly skirts:



thinking about heading to Disney? Dress your cuties in these outfits:



Now to some of my favorite items in her shop: her initial or birthday number tops and coordinating accessories and bottoms!


does it get much cuter?



Want it right now? Buy It!!!
You can find Denise's items at Whimsy Couture

This week Denise is extending a special TWENTY PERCENT OFF her store for all Monkeys on the Bed! readers!
I told you she was generous!

If you'd like to buy something from Whimsy Couture now is the time--use code "monkeysonthebed" to receive 20% back on your purchase (as Etsy doesn't "do" coupon codes, Denise will refund 20% of your product costs, pre-shipping, back to your account)

Want to try your luck? Win It!!!

Denise is generously giving away an initial/birthday number shirt. She can make them from size 6m (onesie) 12m t-shirt and up to size 7 girls. The winner will choose an initial or birthday number in a print of their choice! How fun is that?

How to enter!!!

For the mandatory first entry: Visit Whimsy Couture and leave me a comment telling me your favorite item.

Once you've left the first mandatory entry you can leave separate comments for doing any of the above:

1 extra entry for making Whimsy Couture a favorite Etsy store (you need to have an account to do this)

1 extra entry/DAY for tweeting this giveaway. Leave a comment with your permalink (just click on the time and you'll get a new url) Please tweet:

Win a Birthday or Initial tee from the Fabulous Etsy store Whimsy Couture @monkeysonthebed http://tinyurl.com/lc7a3h
5 extra entries for purchasing something from Denise's store (please leave five separate comments)--use your "monkeysonthebed" code and get 20% off!

1 extra entry for following Denise's blog

1 extra entry for either following my blog OR subscribing to it

Daily Bonus Entry -- one extra entry for coming back each day and commenting on a different item that you love from Whimsy Couture Please preface this entry with "Daily bonus entry" or even a simple "DBE" will do! I just need to know it is a different comment for a different day

The fine print:

This giveaway is open to the residents of the USA and Canada, aged 18 and older. The giveaway will end sometime on Saturday, July 4th. You must leave the mandatory comment before receiving extra entries. You must leave a way for me to contact you with each entry! I will draw a winner via a Random Integer Generator and announce the winner on this blog and email the winner as well. If the winner does not reply to me within 48 hours, I will draw a second winner. I reserve the right to delete your entry if you do not follow the rules listed above.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Week 9

{i hope to add pictures soon but couldn't let it get to Thursday night without posting...}

I cannot believe it is Thursday already and time for Thankful Thursday once more!

This week I am super thankful for:

  1. The wonderfully fabulous (and incredibly web savvy) Amy Locurto for naming me her Best Mommy Award. Needless to say, I was shocked, flattered, honored, humbled, and thrilled to see her post today. I can think of many many many more worthy mothers than me but it is also so nice to receive encouragement from a sister in Christ like that. If you haven't visited Amy's blog yet, please do so--she is one of the founders of I ❤ Faces (as you know, my fave blog!) and has amazing free and creative downloads for you to use.


  2. Good doctor reports all around for many people--for me and for Baby Esther (she is doing incredibly well, gaining weight and slowly being weaned off her machines even since this last update)


  3. Churchill! He has recovered from his very sad UTI and is feeling himself--so good, in fact, that he chewed one of my mom's silk plants (and then, unfortunately, abruptly threw it up)


  4. Speaking of Churchill, my mom and dad have put up a lot with him. Churchill and Margaret Thatcher (maggie) currently live with my parents for numerous reasons the main ones being they like more space than our small apartment offers and they are very afraid of Sweet Baby C! ANYWAY. i am so thankful for my parents' patience with our cats. They have clawed their gorgeous sofa and carpet, peed on the bed during the UTI ordeal, chewed their plants and spit them up, etc. and yet my parents love them just like kids--unconditionally and with a servant-like attitude. What awesome parents! To boot, they're even coming to babysit C tonight because we couldn't find a babysitter.


  5. Speaking of babysitters, we need one because J is finally back home tonight! We will be celebrating his return from Sunny Cali with a trip to our favorite Sports Bar, Taco Mac (sounds classy, right? trust me, its everything you can imagine). I'm so thankful for J's job and for the ability to have a consistent date night with him when he returns. It really adds a lot to our marriage and helps us connect.


  6. Baby C and I are also very thankful for the opportunity to swim in our neighbors' new saline swimming pool. Pictures coming soon with those but it was a great time!


  7. Finally, I am very thankful for all the blessings God continues to bestow on our family. We used to sing one praise song over and over again at our Law School's Christian fellowship. One good thing about consistency is that you don't soon forget that song and it often pops in your head to remind you to be thankful and pour back all the blessings to God, reminding us that He is the giver of all things! May we remember when we "walk through the wilderness" to still Bless His Name! Do you know which song I'm referring to....?


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

W.o.G. Wednesday: Psalm 46

Oh I love this Psalm! I'm going to let it speak for itself again....
(to see the picture bigger, click on it)



Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.

5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.

9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.

10 "Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."

11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Twin's 100th post giveaway!!!

I know, I swore I'd never double post again but this time it is fun and important! My crafty and ever-so-creative twin is giving away some of her crafty wares in honor of her 100th post! Please head on over for your chance to win!!!

Click on either picture to be taken to her giveaway!


Tutorial Tuesday: Flower Headbands!

***Stay Tuned for Updates! I've redone a few things with Baby C's recent headbands and made them into hair clippies--SO much more versatile and easier to coordinate with each outfit!***
{My computer is officially working as long as I shut it down completely between uses and let it cool off. You couldn't get rid of me that easily :)}


Today I'm going to show you how to make the flower headbands that C is notorious for. They are super easy and I know you've all probably figured out how to do it yourself but, just in case, here is a step-by-step guide:

The supplies:


I buy the Scunci brand of headbands because they are soft, stretchy, and available. I could only find them at RiteAid in the beginning but now CVS and Target (and I'm sure, Walmart) carry them, too. I used to buy my flowers from Michael's when they were 50% off but now I just buy them at the Dollar Tree Store! Check out that bundle you get for $1! Of course, you have to really search for the best ones but you can find them! (as always, if you want to see a picture enlarged, just click on it and it will pop up bigger)



Now when I first stated making these, I'd just pluck the flower off the stem and glue it on the headband. It made for a big, stiff, flower, that is for sure! Now I take off all the plasticy parts by deconstructing the flower. You may be suprised by how many layers of fabric and plastic there is on each flower! Basically, though, you just want to be left with the petals, like so:



Now, if you think the flower looks a little flimsy after denuding its plastic, feel free to combine another flower. Sometimes the Dollar Tree flowers need a little more umph so I combine two flowers and its perfect!

oops! couldn't resist a random pic of my little helper, baby C:


back to the headband!

After deconstructing the flower, I stack all the petal layers together so I know which order they go in. Then I take the bottom layer, making sure it is right side up, and make a circle of hot glue in the center.

BE CAREFUL! GLUE GUNS ARE H-O-T!!! Use caution so you do not burn yourself!



Quickly take the next layer and press it on the bottom one. Continue to do this until all the layers are firmly affixed to each other. You don't want little baby hands to tear these apart and eat them!



I like to give it one extra firm squeeze to make sure all the glue is adhering to the layers:



For this headband, i went with the crochet headband. Since it has holes in it, you need to place something underneath the flower to keep the glue from going through it. I chose a very soft piece of fabric scrap--kind of like minky. Feel free to use any kind of soft material!

I like to place my flower a little off center (a center smack in the middle tends to look like a headlamp!). So, find the seam, fold the headband in half, and then place the fabric a little off from the center.



Place a lot of glue on the back of the flower (the last layer)



and then quickly and firmly press it against the headband, ensuring that the fabric is lined up beneath it!



Ta Da! Now your sweet little girl has a beautiful flower to sport in her hair (and, in fact, i've even been known to sport them). I think flower headbands are also great photography props so take them on a photo shoot--sure to be a hit!





Now, I've been known to sew the flower layers together for an extra secure hold but so far C hasn't been tempted to tear them apart and eat them. Maybe we're just lucky!

I have also glued little bits of brown minky fabric or other soft, non-choking-hazard items in the center to make it look more flower-like.

Buttons and Gems are a little iffy as they are definite choking hazards. If you know of a very secure way to place them in the center, feel free to embellish! Just remember: Saftey First!