Thursday, August 30, 2018

Marble Cake, A Day with Little Man, A Day with Judith AND I AM SO MUCH CLOSER TO 60 TODAY THAN I WAS LAST SATURDAY

Good Thursday evening!

I made this cake (below) last week, and although it is not a "simple" recipe (lots of steps and ingredients), the final result makes it kinda worth the trouble.

Also, if you are just looking for something simple AND delicious, I suggest just making the frosting, storing it in the refrigerator with a big ol' spoon and taking a lick or two every time you go into the kitchen. I realize that is probably frowned upon by a lot of people, but that's kinda worth the trouble, too.

Marble Cake

You will need the following for the cake:

2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
4 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

You will need the following for the frosting:

1 and 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 and 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened or Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream, half-and-half OR whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or lightly butter two 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.

2. Sift the cake flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.

3. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes until creamed. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, add the eggs, then the egg yolks one at a time. Then add the vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix. Use a whisk to rid any large lumps, if needed. The batter will be slightly thick.

4. Remove 1 cup of yellow batter and pour into a medium bowl. Melt 4 ounces of chocolate in the microwave, stopping and stirring every 20 seconds until completely smooth. Pour chocolate into the 1 cup of yellow batter you set aside and stir until combined.

5. Pour an even layer of the yellow batter into each cake pan. Spoon chocolate batter on top. Pour remaining yellow batter on top of the chocolate. Using a knife, swirl the two batters together. Don't worry if it's not perfect.

6. Bake the layers for 22 to 27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one cake comes out clean. Mine usually take 24 minutes. During bake time, loosely cover the cakes with aluminum foil if you find the tops are browning too quickly. Remove cakes from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack.

7. Frosting - With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter on high speed in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla and cream with the mixer running on low. Once added, increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Add 1 to 2 more tablespoons confectioners' sugar if frosting is too thin, or 1 to 2 more tablespoons of cream if frosting is too thick. Taste the frosting and add a pinch more salt if it's too sweet.

8. To frost and assemble cake, level cakes with a knife to create a flat surface, if needed. Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or large serving plate. Evenly spread about 3/4 cup frosting on top. Top with second cake and spread the remaining frosting all over the sides and top.

NOTE FROM ENCHANTING BELINDA - This is a very good "company cake." I will most definitely make it again.

RANDOMNESS #1 - A Day with Little Man... is a day very well spent.

If you look closely, you will see a matchbox car in each hand.

His number one passion at this moment (at less than two years of age) is cars.

Toddler hair styles and toothy grins come in at two and three.

RANDOMNESS #2 - A Day with Judith... see above and DITTO!

Judith loves a good purple popsicle...

And I love it, too, when it's eaten in a bubbly tub.

Pop is now a salon technician at Nana B's Spa.

Instead of honey buns, he gives "shoulder rides" while the nails dry.

I may have to increase his salary.

RANDOMNESS #3 - I AM SO MUCH CLOSER TO 60 TODAY THAN I WAS LAST SATURDAY - As you may have gathered from the title of this Randomness, I recently had a birthday.

It was my 57th birthday.

Don't get me wrong. I am most thankful, but it was a little unnerving when Mikie turned 57 years-old this past June, and it didn't bother him when I called him an "older gentleman." He sees every birthday as an opportunity to cash in on yet another Senior Discount, and chuckles happily when any establishment takes ten percent OR more off of his total bill.

I, on the other hand, will go back to a long movie line after I notice a Senior Ticket in my hand and demand to know how old they think I am.

Why wasn't I asked if I was 55, 62 or 65 BEFORE they gave me the discount?

I'll tell you right now, if the Senior Age isn't 55, I won't qualify for a few more years, and I will pay the extra $2...

Thank you very much!

Honestly, after that confrontation with a 17 year-old ticket taker transpires, I'm usually not in the mood to see a movie, but Mikie tempts me with Senior Discounted Popcorn and soda pop.

(When you are 57, people expect you to say things like soda pop.)

Heavy, heavy sigh.

Let's move on, shall we?

On the day of my 57th birthday, I chose to go to Stix with the family so I could watch the Grand-Tots' reactions to the "fire table."

It did not disappoint.

I loved our guy/cook/entertainer. His name was Tiger, and he put on a wonderful show.

And he didn't throw a shrimp at my face.

That's always a plus.

I love me some kissin' cousins.

Yes, I certainly do!

After lunch, the guys and Judith went to the house and Roxie, Melia, Courtney and I went to Sips n' Strokes in Cullman to paint a cross.

Two hours after arriving, I decided to declare it...

Painting is not my "thang."

Even with a lot of one-on-one instruction and encouragement.

Do not worry.

I'm thinking I may give origami a try.

Have a wonderful LONG weekend, and I'll try to do the same. I will talk to y'all soon!


The Enchanting Belinda

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Blog Linkage, Pinterest Stuff (The Importance of Family Game Night AND Things To Do With Kids Before They Grow Up), Let's Play in Hoover AND My Favorite Things RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE

Good Saturday afternoon!

Lots of stuff to cover today, so let's get to it!

Blog Linkage - Go to www.momwifebusylife.com and browse. This is a blog I found on Pinterest, and it looks like something I would enjoy visiting on a regular basis. Many, many good ideas.

Pinterest Stuff

The Importance of Family Game Nights

NOTE - The following is a post found on the above-referenced site. Good stuff!

My husband and I made a commitment to spend more quality time with our children this year. My girls are at the age where they both enjoy playing games, and they ask us regularly to play with them. I believe a family that plays together stays together! I also believe game nights are important because they teach good communication skills, problem solving, strategy, teamwork and great sportsmanship!

I do a lot of research on games before choosing the ones I feel are right for our family. I need these games to be entertaining for everyone, including my husband and me! When choosing games, I make sure I read the reviews to get an idea of how the game is played, and if it’s something we will all enjoy. It needs to be a game so fun it will “survive” my next decluttering session.

1. Quality - The quality of a game is also important to me. I like games that are well made. I need games to last and not fall apart the first time we play. This includes the box the game comes in, as well as the pieces or cards inside the box. Games are an investment, and I want them to last a few years! It’s not fun to have broken or torn pieces to a game. I make sure the games are something that can easily be stored and are designed to last.

2. Educational - I look for games that are educational. Many of the games we have are educational and some are just fun. I like to find games that help my girls add or subtract, read, count, etc. I also like games that challenge their thinking and help their memory. Learning while playing is very important to us! If they can have fun learning, I’m a happy mom!

3. Affordable - Finally, I look for games that are affordable. I always try to make sure I find good deals on games before buying. I like to browse through the games at Amazon to add to our game closet!

What are some of your favorite family games?

Things To Do With Kids Before They Grow Up

Teach them how to pray. Most especially how to pray for others.

Camp out. Backyard or just in your living room. Get the sleeping bags, flashlights or tent out.

Let them have cereal for dinner and ice cream for breakfast. Relax. One time will not "mess them up."

Puddle jumping. Explore the inner kid in you, too.

Let them play in the dirt... a lot.

Make a time capsule for them. Stuff a jar or a box with their favorite items.

Write love/encouragement/story notes to them during their growing-up years.

Let them make your breakfast.

Teach them how to write thank you notes and letters. Snail mail is still the best.

Build an obstacle course (backyard or living room).

Make a recipe box or recipe binder for reference when they grow up.

Donate old toys together.

Visit a senior center.

Visit as many museums as you can. Kids are sponges, they learn a lot.

Show them your pictures when you were young.

Tell them stories about when they were babies.

Make a scrapbook together.

Give them a journal. Even when they are too young to write their thoughts, you will be amazed at how they can express their feelings through drawings.

Explore nature together.

Have several kids? Schedule one-on-one dates. NOTE FROM ENCHANTING BELINDA - SO IMPORTANT!

Discover a new cuisine with them.

Make Friday a family date night. Play games, make a sundae bar, have a movie night or order Chinese takeout.

Read lots of books to them and with them.

My Favorite Things RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE - It's been awhile, but if you asked me TODAY what I was lovin', it would have to be...

1. The Powerhouse Bowl from the City Bowls Food Truck - I am a complete novice when it comes to the "bowl movement," even though I made a Mexican Quinoa Bowl recipe a few months back and it was pretty good. I served it like a taco salad on a plate with tortilla chips instead of in a bowl, so you can tell I didn't understand the importance of stacking ingredients...


I will be honest. The menu for a first timer is a little perplexing.

However, I am an asker of questions, so after some inquiries of fellow bowl purchasers, I decided to start at the beginning.

I ordered the Powerhouse Bowl which is kind of like an amateur bowl, I think.

I may never STOP being an amateur.

It was so good.

The following is what you will find in the Powerhouse Bowl...

Base - Acai, Almond Milk, Bananas, Peanut Butter, Strawberries, Vanilla Whey Protein

I don't know what all of these things are (acai, vanilla whey protein), but I did find out when mixed together they make a beautiful purply-colored smoothie textured "base."

And when you add...

Toppings - Bananas, Blueberries, Granola, Peanut Butter, Nutella, Strawberries


Just WOW.

It is cold and refreshing and sweet and fruity all at the same time.

Dare I say it...

It is the perfect "July/August in Alabama" food.

And "they" say it is healthy for you.

Enchanting Belinda and THE POWERHOUSE BOWL for the WIN!

You can check on the City Bowls Food Truck Facebook page for a weekly schedule of where and when they will be at a location.

I check every Monday in the afternoon...

And I adjust my weekly schedule to fit their much more important weekly schedule!

2. My new Waterpik Water Flosser - Don't get me wrong. I am not opposed to manual flossing...

But when someone "in the know" highly recommended this particular device, I decided to try it out.

I'm not gonna lie. It took a little practice to remember to keep it inside my mouth...

With lips closed...

Not talking...

Or singing...

Or laughing.

The first few days I used it, I sprayed down my closet (open and closed), all of my bathroom walls, vanity mirror and the inside of my bathroom drawer.

If I had not finally mastered it within the five-day period I try to give "all things new-to-me," I might have put it in a drawer and declared it a "young-person gadget."

Thank goodness I persevered!

At 56 (almost 57), I can now say I LOVE FLOSSING!

A lot!

RANDOMNESS - Let's Play in Hoover - Josh and Austin were off this past Thursday morn, so I asked them if they wanted to go to Let's Play in Hoover... with the Grand-tots. They agreed, and we had a pretty good time.

Let's Play in Hoover is a little different from the one on Highway 280. Melia had heard it was more "little tot friendly," and I have to say, I totally agree with her. It was definitely "little tot friendly" in the sense there were several more areas in this particular Let's Play for the three and under crowd.

That being said, I do love them both!

This was most everyone's favorite area.

Fans in all four corners of the ceiling blowing down on giant balloons not only make this a very cool place for kids to play, but a very cool place for parents and grandparents to sit comfortably on the soft floor while the kids jump around.

I could easily have stayed in this one place for the duration of our time at Let's Play, but every now and again, the kiddos wanted to try something different.

Slides, trampolines and a large blob of something squishy made this section the SECOND favorite in the entire place.

Austin got comfortable, but if you look in the upper right corner of the pic, Little Man was struggling just a bit.

Sometimes it was fun to just sit and watch...

Because you never knew what might come flying down the slide.

What could possibly be so exciting to watch high in the sky?

The answer!

I apologize for the blurriness of some of the pics, but when you go to Let's Play, there is constant motion.






Have a great Saturday and Sunday. I will be back soon with more!


The Enchanting Belinda

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Spa Day with Judith, Baby Pool/Water Table Day with RT, Pinterest Stuff (Easy Ways to Bond with Your Kids, Creative Weekly Schedule for Kids Out of School AND Gratitude Scavenger Hunt)

Good Wednesday morning!

Pinterest Stuff

Easy Ways to Bond with Your Kids

Read bedtime stories for 10 minutes (or longer) each night
Go for a walk around the neighborhood
Sing aloud together in the car
Plan a one-on-one date with your child
Watch a family movie
Make time for no electronics
Read a chapter book series together
Let the kids help make an easy dessert
Go on a family bike ride
Plan a family picnic
Plant a garden
Carve out time for daily play
Go on a family road trip/day trip
Learn how to play your child’s favorite video game
Go camping
Involve the kids in vacation planning
Make yearly, monthly, weekly family traditions
Explore some old family photos
Tell stories about your childhood
Volunteer for a local cause
Learn a new skill/hobby together
Have a family contest/competition
Start a family YouTube channel
Make family goals
Volunteer in child’s classroom
Go on a class field trip
Build a LEGO set
Make a blanket fort
Find a Groupon Coupon for a day of family fun
Go on a family hike
Donate old toys together
Have a small (family only) birthday party
Let your kids help with holiday baking and decorating
Have a water gun/balloon fight
Make ice cream sundaes
Go to a concert
See a drive-in movie
Pick out a family pet together
Make a secret code
Make dinner together
Climb a rock climbing wall
Go searching for bugs, birds, wildlife
Have a nature scavenger hunt
Have a family slumber party

NOTE - The items in BOLD are my absolute favorites.

ANOTHER NOTE - When you have a family slumber party, everyone sleeps in the same room (Mom and Dad included). Beds, cots, air mattresses, etc. I also suggest Krispy Kreme Doughnuts for breakfast the next day. Nothing says "successful slumber party" like a Krispy Kreme Doughnut breakfast!

Creative Weekly Schedule for Kids Out of School

Make Something Monday
Taste Something Tuesday
Wander Somewhere Wednesday
Do Something Thoughtful Thursday
Fun Family Friday

NOTE - I probably should have shared this at the BEGINNING of Summer, but there will be times during the school year, too.

Gratitude Scavenger Hunt (Outside and/or Inside)

1. Find something outside you enjoy seeing everyday.
2. Find something that is useful to you.
3. Find something that is your favorite color.
4. Find something you know someone else will enjoy.
5. Find something that tastes good.
6. Find something that smells amazing.
7. Discover something new.
8. Find something that makes you feel safe.
9. Find something that makes you happy.
10. Find something that makes a beautiful sound.
11. Find someone you are grateful for.
12. Find someone who is unique to you.
13. Find something in the night you enjoy.
14. Find something that makes you laugh.
15. Find something in the morning you enjoy.
16. Find a friend/pet you love spending time.
17. Find your favorite place to spend time alone.
18. Find something that reminds you of the people you love.
19. Find something you enjoy doing outside with friends.
20. Find your favorite hiding spot.

NOTE - I think this is a no-prep kind of Scavenger Hunt which can be used anytime during the year, but it would be especially adaptable to Thanksgiving. Make sure to assign an adult to each child participating. There will be lots of good "teachable moments" during this Hunt.

RANDOMNESS #1 - Spa Day with Judith - All we wanted to do was have a relaxing foot soaking before Nana painted Judith's toenails and fingernails. It didn't occur to either of us Nana was adding a tad too much bubble juice to the foot spa.


Like a LOT too much.

After we cleaned up all of the bubble residue, my kitchen floor was clean as could be, and we were able to pick out a color...

Or should I say COLORS?

Green for the right foot and Robin's Egg Blue for the left.

Hot pink for the right hand and HOT FUSCHIA for the left.

And, yes.

There is a difference.

Also, Nana B's Spa serves honey buns while you dry.

I think all spas should serve honey buns. It's just that little something that makes a "nice" spa a "spectacular" spa.

Don't you think?

RANDOMNESS #2 - Baby Pool/Water Table with RT - Little Man loves water play, balls and cars with all of his little heart. Not necessarily in that order, but any combination of those three things make him happy!

Every now and then he would break away from the balls and water to go "pat a car."

If I could find a car-shaped baby pool which would hold water AND 100 or so balls of all shapes and sizes, I think he might not be able to contain himself.

And last, but not least, a "dry" pic.

Lift-the-flap books FOR THE WIN!

Okay. That's it for today. Have a great week. Spend time with God. Spend time with your family. Spend time with your friends. Spend time looking for someone who might need an encouraging word. Make everyday count...

And I will try to do the same!


The Enchanting Belinda
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