Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The PERFECT Summer Strawberry Cake

Many years ago, my Aunt Linda (On my mom’s side….because yes, I also have an Aunt Linda on my dad’s side. Welcome to Tennessee.) showed up at some family get-together with a  strawberry cake that was out of this world delicious! I immediately asked for the recipe and made it very soon myself.

Fast forward probably ten years and I still love making and eating this cake! I’ve shared the recipe with friends many times and get requests for this cake all during the Spring and Summer. It’s just THAT good.

One guy I used to work with, paid me to make this cake for his wife’s birthday one year….THAT good.

Stephen’s birthday is in mid-April. When I asked him what he wanted me to make for his birthday this year he quickly and without hesitation responded, “STRAWBERRY CAKE!!”

We hosted several family members over to our house for dessert after a dinner out to celebrate his birthday. I knew one cake wouldn’t be enough so I whipped up two.
Here’s what you’ll need…(to just make one cake)

White cake mix
Regular size box of strawberry jello
4 eggs
1 cup of oil
½ cup of water
16 oz container of frozen strawberries, thawed & drained (reserve the juice)
1 lb confectioner’s sugar
1 stick of softened butter


*This is a “cold cake” so be sure you have enough room in your fridge to store it.*

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease a 9x13 pan.

If your frozen strawberries are in bigger pieces, try to cut them down some. This is where my handsome husband comes into play….had to help making his own birthday cake. It’s a rough life in the Stafford house.
Mix together the cake mix, jello, eggs, oil, water and half of the strawberries. Pour into the prepared pan. 
Bake 35-40 minutes until cake tests done.
While cake is baking, make your icing…
Mix the softened butter, confectioner’s sugar and remaining ½ of strawberries. Use the reserved strawberry juice to thin the icing to your preferred consistency. (I must tell you this is the step that makes the difference between my Aunt Linda’s Strawberry Cake and MY Strawberry Cake. She likes to have the icing pretty thick like a buttercream consistency. I like mine thinner so that I basically just pour it on the cake and spread it around…you can decide which one you prefer.)

Once you get it mixed to your desired consistency, refrigerate the icing until ready to use.

Once the cake cools completely, top it with your chilled icing & refrigerate. (I usually run a knife around the all the sides of the cake to loosen it a bit and let the icing seep down the side. Heavenly.)
It typically does best if you make it a day in advance of when you’ll be serving it…but it’s delicious anytime!!
Stop by Andrea's site to see the other yummy recipes others are sharing today!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Happy #6 Colin!

Six years ago this morning, our family welcomed my youngest nephew Colin David. He stole our hearts the second we laid eyes on him.
He is the epitome of "the 2nd child". He's laid back and beats to his own drum.
If I had a dollar for everytime the phrase, "Colin just doesn't care about...." well, I'd have quite a stock in dollars right now.
Colin is quick & witty, but he doesn't know he's being funny which makes it that much better.
Colin is the best little brother. He LOVES Riley. They have a really great relationship and generally play really well together. They are each other's best friends. Colin imitates things Riley does, but at the end of it, he just doesn't care as much Riley does. Riley LOVES Nashville Predators hockey. He can tell you players and stats and hold an adult conversation with the biggest fans....Colin likes to go to the concession stands. Riley is competitive and loves playing sports. Colin sits in the grass and plays in the dirt. He cheers Riley on. They make each other laugh. They back each other up. They are the best brothers.
Colin is such a joy to our family....we have the best and funniest stories to share that start with, "The other day Colin said...."
His smile just lights up a room.
Stephen & I LOVE being an aunt and uncle to these boys. We have different bonds with each boy. Riley has always been my buddy.....while Colin....
well, Colin & Stephen are pretty tight.
We love celebrating these boys and we love spoiling them. We started a new tradition with them last year that for their birthdays, instead of us getting them a gift, they pick a movie for us to go see and then they either pick a restaurant or pizza delivery for dinner, followed by a fun sleepover at our house and then I make a pancake breakfast the next morning. We love creating these memories with them that we know they'll appreciate and look back on fondly as they grow rather than some $24.99 Avengers set we could get them.

We celebrated all weekend for Colin's upcoming birthday. Saturday was his big party. This year, my sister held it at a local laser tag place. She conveniently asked us to pick up the balloons...which just so happened to include this 4 ft walking beast of a thing that was a MESS trying to get in our car. You can see...I was thrilled.

The kiddos played one game of laser tag before eating pizza and cake, then got to play one more game before leaving.
Stephen & I played both game with the kids. (We pretty much love being the "fun aunt and uncle".)  Stephen was team blue with the older boys. I was team red with the little kids. They had SO much fun. (I may have run directly into a wall.....a full running speed. I also may have gotten a little TOO into the game.)

Our youngest party-goer Arabelle.
LOOK at this AWESOME cake! Pinterest for the win!
Present time!
When mom and dad AND Nana say no, just ask the great-grandparents!!
Our sweet Pa, who will be 88 this Summer with his youngest great grand.
Then Sunday night after church, we went out to dinner at Colin's choice restaurant...Golden Corral. We all basically just grinned and obliged his little 6 year old request. It was ok; there's just something about a mass buffet that loses its appeal.

The boys wanted to ride with us after church...
After dinner, we went back to my sister and BIL's house for ice cream cake and presents. Saturday was his BIG party but Sunday was our immediate family get-together...grandparents from both sides, Stephen & I and the boys' other uncle.
Colin had a BIG weekend just for him! We love celebrating these boys!!
We can't wait to see the young man this one will become. He has SO much character in him that it's infectious! He's just the best little thing.
Six years have gone by so fast! It's taken every fiber of my being not to get teary-eyed going through some of these pictures. It's the one aspect that I don't look forward to in becoming a parent myself. They don't stay little long. Big or little though, they are a JOY.
Happy 6th Birthday Colin! We love you more than you'll ever know! We pray that you'll continue to grow into the charismatic, light-hearted, joyous little man you already are! You are a treasure and blessing to us all!

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Girl Needs Her Accessories!

Today is all about ACCESSORIES!!
A few years ago, you couldn’t pay me enough to wear a necklace. Now, well….I feel like I can’t leave home without one. I used to LOVE wearing bracelets…now, most days of the week, I walk out of the house without one on. Funny how your style changes the older you get.
Necklaces…I have a few. None are expensive. I just can’t bring myself to spending a lot on accessories. I’m cheap in that area. In fact the one that is my “go-to” that I wear majority of the time was found on a clearance rack at Wal-Mart for $5! It’s held up SO well considering I probably wear it at least 3-4 days a week.
I’m still a huge fan of the staple turquoise bubble necklace. Yes, it’s a dated piece for 2015 but it makes a statement and just coordinates with so many pieces I wear. Therefore, I still wear it.
My mother in law dabbles in jewelry making, some of her pieces are my favorites too!
Stephen got me this Kate Spade “mrs” necklace for our first married Christmas together…I love it. It’s simple and classy….pairs well with anything I wear.
Earrings….oh my stars. I love earrings. As much as I love my necklaces, I feel naked if I leave home and forget to put in earrings. By FAR my favorites are the Kate Spade studs. They’re a little pricey for me; BUT I know I’ll wear the heck out of them. 
They are definitely worth the $38 you’ll spend on them. I’m always dreaming of the next color I want. Occasionally Nordstrom will have them on sale, which is a great time to order since they always have free shipping.

(P.S. thanks to Pinterest Told Me To, I also love these very similar studs from Nordstrom that are a mere $8…free shipping…$8….order all 4 colors for less than the cost of one pair of Kate!)
I also LOVE my Kate Spade Day Tripper earrings! They’re fun and bright when I want add a little flair. And the classic Kendra Scott pair….these match so well with many outfits too.

So yeah, I’m a bit of a Kate Spade snob. They’re the best! Stephen can never go wrong getting me something to add to my collection. Hint, hint.

When I do wear bracelets, I have just a few go-to’s. This classic gold bangle (Kate Spade agaaaain) was my gift from Stephen on our wedding day! Such a sweet moment we shared that our photographer captured. We had all of our pictures made before the ceremony, so after we finished we came back inside the church building and just decided on a whim to exchange our little gifts then. (Sidenote: I got him a tie clip engraved with the date on one side and “stafford” on the other side.)

Then there’s two Lenny & Eva cuffs that get worn pretty regularly.
And this random bracelet that I received as a Christmas gift a few years ago from a cousin…she saw it on one of my Pinterest boards and tracked it down. It’s so fun to wear. I’ll hear at least once a day when I wear it, “is that a……tape measure?” Why yes, yes it is.
I also LOVE my bags and purses. I always have. It’s probably the one item that I’m constantly purging from my closets. I remember being little bitty and packing a purse to take to church with me every Sunday…I’d pack a notepad and pencil…maybe a lip gloss…and always some little figurines to play with. Back then we drove thirty minutes one day to get to church, so I packed a Walkman and cassette tapes for the backseat drive. I WORE OUT some New Kids on the Block cassettes.

These days my favorite purses are ones with lots of pockets and room…I mainly use this MK purse, but I also use big slouchy purses that I find at Old Navy.

Of course I can't leave out the BEST accessories I've EVER had. Chances are they'll forever be my favorite accessories. 
Gosh, he did so good!

Check out Andrea & Erika’s sites for everyone else’s favorite accessories! Come back tomorrow and we’ll celebrate very special 6 year old’s birthday!