Archive for the ‘Crafts & Celebrations’ Category
Semi homemade cakes have become a speciality of mine for birthdays. Today’s gluten-free snickerdoodle cake offered the perfect celebration cake for my husband’s birthday this year and I loved that it tastes just as heavenly as our usual snickerdoodle cake and our chocolate snickerdoodle cake that I had made before going gluten-free.
Before going gluten-free I relied heavily on cake mixes for making all of our cakes (something that I mention as a pantry necessity in my book), and that ease of pre-mixed ingredients is exactly the tradition that I have continued as I have started baking cakes that are gluten-free. As we demonstrated, cooking with cake mixes is easy enough that your child can bake it for you, the cake mix can be transformed into delicious sugar cookies, and you can even put a rainbow in the center, if you want.
As we have gotten older, we need less and less. Frankly, if we really want something, we usually just go and buy it for ourselves. Special & thoughtful gifts seem harder to come by, but I was determined to make this guy’s day special.
His favorite books as a child were Ed Emberley’s drawing books. While these books have been reissued, my husband more than anything wanted the original books that he had loved as a kid. I found the three of his favorites and wrapped them in ribbon to give him for his birthday. I could not wait to see his face.
Unbeknownst to me,one of the books contained Ed Emberley’s autograph, which my husband said was the best gift he had ever received. What a happy surprise that was.
If your spouse had a series of books or a book that was their childhood favorite, imagine what a joy it is to see that original again.
To top the night off, we celebrated with a slice of this cake. While I find gluten-free cakes to be a little on the dry side, we have found that a little pudding mix really helps this cake… and a thick layer of homemade cinnamon buttercream doesn’t hurt either.
The cake is laced with cinnamon, as is the frosting, and the base is made from a simply yellow cake mix. Any gluten-free brand should work beautifully in this cake.
Happiest of birthdays to the love of my life. I still shake my head that I have been present for his birthday since he was just sixteen. A million moments shared, and I pray for millions more with my best friend!
- 1 package (15 ounces) yellow gluten-free cake mix
- ¼ cup (half of a 3.4 ounce package) vanilla instant pudding
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¾ cup milk
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- For frosting: 1 stick butter, softened
- 3¾ cup confectioners sugar
- 3-4 Tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans.
- Place the cake mix, pudding mix, cinnamon, milk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla in an electric mixer and beat until incorporated.
- Divide batter evenly between two pans and place in oven side-by-side.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool.
- For the icing, beat butter until fluffy. Add all other ingredients.
- To assemble cake, place one layer on your cake stand. Spread the top with the cinnamon frosting.
- Place the next layer on top and cover the top and sides with frosting.
*this post contains affiliate links.
What is one of your favorite birthday gifts you have ever received?Pin It
From our diy/craft contributor, Sarah Milne.
In my Pinterest travels, I stumbled upon a pin that led me to this site, Vintage Printable. Vintage Printable provides free, public domain/out-of-copyright images for you to print or download. Many of the images are vintage naturalist or scientific illustration, but there is a huge collection of other images too.
The site has been sitting in my bookmarks and I wanted to attempt an easy DIY using the gorgeous artwork. Coupled with my huge collection of vintage Reader’s Digest hardcovers, I’ve created some beautiful Springtime art to hang in your home, use for cardmaking or crafts.
There’s a handy search tool on the website. I searched for Springtime terms such as butterflies, eggs, rabbit, botanical etc. and found a beautiful assortment of images. I downloaded a collection of images I wanted to print.
Using a stack of doubles of my vintage Reader’s Digest collection, I tore out pages and trimmed the ripped edges for easing feeding through my inkjet printer. Ideally your pages should be an approximate size of 5 x 7 inches.
To print your images, you’ll have to set up a custom size if your printer settings don’t already have a 5 x 7 option. In your printer’s settings, I set a custom page size for 127 mm x 177 mm which translates to the 5 x 7 page size. Select your custom page size, and check off your “scale to fit” and “fill entire paper”. Load your book pages into your printer tray. (My printer was a little finicky in grabbing the vintage book pages, so I actually fed one page in at a time.) And, print!
I am so excited to share a delicious Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake recipe that you can make using a simple boxed mix, a little food coloring, and a few odds & ends from your pantry. This Rainbow Cake is made in a tube pan, versus a layered cake, and is a fun addition to your St. Patrick’s Day spread.
Walmart challenged me to share a St. Patrick’s Day project that you could create out of items from their store. You may remember my rainbow cakes in a jar that I created a couple of years ago. Now that I am eating gluten-free, I wanted to replicate the idea of a rainbow cake, but I wanted to do it in one pan and I wanted to make it a quicker process by using a cake mix.
To make a vibrantly colored cake, I want to point out that it is really important to use good icing colors to achieve your rainbow cake colors. Over by the party supplies, you will find professional cake decorating supplies at Walmart. You want to purchase the Wilton Icing Colors. These concentrated gels offer a much brighter color than what you will find over in the baking section of the grocery section. I just use a toothpick to dip in the gel and then swirl it through my cake batter. You may need to do this a couple of times to achieve this level of brightness, but it still will take a lot less than the other brands of food coloring.
When I decided I wanted to make this cake, I went through tons of tons of cake recipes to figure out how to layer the batter. My inspiration for creating my rainbow arch was from not martha and her Leprechaun Trap Cake that she created a few years ago. Her arch is so much more beautiful than mine. I highly encourage you to read her tutorial for a perfect arch and read mine for a just meh arch. That being said, do prepare this in a tube pan versus a bundt pan to achieve the best arch.
Do you have a digital scale? I highly recommend purchasing one because it will make projects like this a million times easier. I have had mine for many years and I use it for both weighing packages and as a food scale! Be sure to tare it with the bowl on top to begin your measurements each time.
I used the measurements outlined by not martha for measurements for my batter:
- 6 ounces – red
- 5 ounces – orange
- 4 ounces – yellow
- 3 ounces – green
- 2 ounces – blue
- 1 ounce – purple
- The remainder of the rest of the batter, leave it white.
To scoop batter into the bowls, I relied upon an ice cream scoop to scoop it into the bowls on the scale. To make pouring the batter easier, place the cake batter in a baggie in a tall glass and hang the opening over the sides of your glass. Pour your batter in and then seal the baggie. Just snip a corner of the baggie to begin pouring your batter into the pan.
Gluten-free cakes tend to be more delicate so you definitely want to let this fully cool before trying to work with it. The side that has all the beautiful vibrant colors is not the top of the cake. It is the bottom of the cake. I accidentally iced this side so don’t make my mistake. If you find that your cake is puffy on the bottom, use a serrated knife to even it up a bit so your cake is not lopsided.
I posted a picture of this cake as I was glazing it on Instagram. To quote myself, “I never go easy on the sprinkles. I consider them the jazz hands on my desserts.”
Who quotes themselves? Sorry about that!
Glaze and sprinkle this cake liberally!
I was disappointed that I had iced the wrong side and that my purple didn’t get perfectly centered. I think it is one of those cakes that might take a little more practice. My friends didn’t seem to notice or mind my errors though because this was one yummy cake! I doubt your kids would notice or care either. It might be a fun one to try together!
I hope you love it as much as we did and I hope this tutorial helps you while you make your own gluten-free rainbow cake!
- 1 Hodgson Mill Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix (over by the gluten-free ingredients in the candy aisle of your store, not in the baking aisle)
- ½ cup butter softened
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 package of Wilton Gel Food Colorings
- 1½ cups confectioners' sugar
- 2½ teaspoons milk (or milk substitute)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon butter
- Rainbow Sprinkles
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan liberally with cooking spray.
- In a mixing bowl, cream butter until soft. Add cake mix and blend completely.
- Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract and beat until completely blended. The batter will be thick.
- Divide your batter into eight bowls using the measurements in this post and tint accordingly.
- First pour the larger amount of white batter into the pan. Then pour the red batter in, making it a wide ring of batter. Then pour the orange over that, keeping it inside the red. Pour in each color, creating smaller and smaller rings.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, testing with a toothpick to check when the cake is done.
- Once the cake is cooled, prepare your icing.
- Melt the butter and add to rest of ingredients. Mix until creamy.
- Spoon the glaze over your cake and finish with rainbow sprinkles.
Enjoy this tasty treat with a DIY Shamrock Shake and our free St. Patrick’s Day straw printable!
Pen Pals are a beautiful thing in a digital age where pen, paper, the process of writing, and waiting are so hard in our fast moving culture. Today I wanted to share about our experience with finding and writing pen pals that I hope will inspire you to find a pen pal of your own for your child after hearing about our experience.
Walmart challenged me to come up with a fun Spring Break activity for kids and finding a pen pal for my children is something that I have thought a lot about doing. We found items in their office supplies section like writing tablets (for big and small children), pretty note cards, and freshly sharpened pencils. With these arsenal of tools, we are now ready to begin a new adventure for our kids.
How Do You Find a Pen Pal?
Finding a pen pal is oh-so-easy thanks to social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I posted on my Facebook page that we were looking for children in our child’s age range that did not live in the United States to be pen pals with. Within minutes, we had many people replying about friends and family that lived in other countries with kids just around our age.
Of course, if finding someone living out of the states is harder to come by in your inner circle, consider just finding families that live in other parts of the United States. A child shivering in the polar vortex of Indiana, for example, might find a child’s life in Florida or California quite inspiring!
Encourage Your Child to Craft a Great Letter
Writing letters not only improves our vocabulary and spelling, but it also helps teach children about the give and take of conversation.
Talk with your child about crafting a great introduction about themselves and how to weave in questions to find out more about their new pen pal. When my daughter asked me if her pen pal had glasses, I told her that this would be a great question to ask her so she could look forward to her response.
Have Your Child Explore Their Pen Pal’s Town
It is easier than ever to learn more about where someone else lives thanks to Google’s Street View and Wikipedia. Although there was no street view for our pen pal, who resides in Greece, we were able to take a peek at pictures of landmark items in her country and read facts about where she lived.
Knowing information like this helps to build those initial letters as you get to know more about each other.
Send Your Letters Off
Once we were done writing our letter, we got to practice addressing an envelope and then added a few decorative touches to the back of our envelope for our new friend.
Although we ran our letter out to our mailbox at home, a great Spring Break activity might be to take that letter to the post office and make it feel even more, “official,” when sending it.
Now we must wait patiently for our response from our new friend and when she writes back, it will be a happy day, indeed!
I hope this inspires you to find a few pen pals of your own. And as double inspiration, here is my childhood pen pal. We met at church camp and became best friends through our letters back and forth. I remember that sweet anticipation of the mail dropping through the mail slot of our home and ripping them open to read, then reread, then reread again the precious words from my friend. 25 whopping years later, she is still my best friend for life.
I already told Emily to save her money and hopefully she will have a friend like that in her pen pal who she can visit someday! You just never know- we certainly never did! I shall be very jealous of her trips to Greece, should that happen!
Here’s a little video we put together of Emily’s first pen pal letter! I hope you enjoy it and I would love to hear if you had a pen pal and what they meant to you?
St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner! This holiday makes me want to indulge in one of my all-time favorite treats… the oh-so-delicious Shamrock Shake. You don’t have to swing by your local fast food joint to indulge though because I have the recipe to this one and you can indulge in it for a fun family night treat any night of the week.
Don’t forget to grab your free St. Patrick’s Day straw printables! Happy St. Patrick’s Day, friends!Pin It
From our diy/craft contributor, Sarah.
Oh, my! You are in for a big treat today because Sarah Milne, from Sarah M Style, is an amazing crafting and design genius and she is joining us each month to share her knowledge. I am so thrilled to introduce you to her today and I know that she has many fun printables and ideas for our homes and crafts that you are going to be looking forward to her featured post each month!
February and March are birthday months for the boys in my life. In February, my little guy turns two, and in March, my husband, well, let’s just say he’ll be much closer to 40 than 35. Whether it’s a homemade waffle birthday breakfast or a donut cake, we love our desserts around here! In my very first DIY and crafting post for MomAdvice.com, I’d like to show you three of my favorite ways to top off our sweet treats.
POM POM GARLAND
First, and my most fave, is this simple fuzzy and fluffy pom pom garland. Colourful and playful, it adds so much fun to your dessert. You could make this garland with tiny to large fuzzy pom poms or even craft your own poms out of yarn.
What you need.
Pom poms. Size and color of choice.
(I purchased an assorted bag from Michaels with my trusty weekly coupon.)
Twine or thread
Skewers, straws, small dowels
The how to.
- On your crafting surface, arrange your pom poms in your desired order.
- Thread your needle. Begin to thread the first pom onto the twine. Be sure to leave at least 5 inches excess on the end.
- Thread each pom onto the twine. Space the poms a desired distance apart.
- Once you’ve completed adding your poms, tightly secure the twine to your stick using a double knot. Trim your twine.
- Tightly secure the other end to your second stick and trim.
- Insert into your sweet treat.
- Dig in!
I love that these toppers can be reused throughout the year and for all types of celebrations from birthday breakfasts to report card day! I found these small wooden shapes for less than 50 cents at Michaels and gave them a triple coat of chalkboard paint.
What you need.
Straws, popsicle sticks, or small dowels
Paper towel or newspaper
Hot glue gun and glue
The how to.
- Protect your crafting surface with paper towel or newspaper.
- Paint your wooden shapes using the chalkboard paint. When using chalkboard paint for crafts, I use a minimum of 3 coats. Allow for drying time in between coats. It seems to dry quickly.
- Attach your wooden shapes to your stick using a dab of hot glue.
- Draw or decorate your chalkboard topper for your occasion.
- Insert into your sweet treat.
- Dig in!
PAPER BANNER WITH WASHI GARLAND + FREE PRINTABLE
Washi tape is a huge trend right now – and there are limitless crafts you can muster with it! My go-to topper are washi garlands. Paired with a paper banner, it makes a super sweet addition to your treat. I’ve designed two free printable paper banners in 3 colors for your next occasion.
What you need.
The how to.
- Cut a 18 inch length of twine
- Cut your washi tape in equal or varied lengths and fold evenly over the twine, leaving 5 inches of vacant twine on each end.
- Print the free printable paper banner and trim.
- Secure your paper banner to the top of your sticks using a piece of washi or hot glue
- Below the paper banner, tightly secure your washi tape garland using a double knot or bow to each stick.
- Insert into your sweet treat.
- Dig in!
Grab Your Free Printables HERE:Pin It
From our managing editor, Jami Boys.
You may not know it, but Jami, from An Oregon Cottage, has been writing on here for a year now. She handles all of our regular features like our weekly notebook, the giveaways, freebies, and round-up posts that you see on our site. She has become my right arm and I would be lost without her. Jami has a diverse background in frugal homemaking, manages her own blog, manages this blog, and is my new managing editor. How is she managing it all? I have no idea! But, I am so excited she has agreed to share her expertise on frugal homemaking with us!
I love vintage linens, especially linens that women have used their time and talents on to create works of art using embroidery, drawn-thread techniques, applique, crochet edgings and other needlework crafts. Since cruising thrift stores is a major pastime of mine, I have amassed quite a collection because I have a hard time leaving such treasures in a heap on a table.
However, I’m not a purist and I recognize that since we don’t use doilies, table runners and other small linen items in our homes anymore, I need to find other ways to be able to use and appreciate these little pieces of art once again. In the past I have made cafe curtains from old tea towels, pillows and tote bags from tablecloths and attached small embroidery pieces to the tops of ready-made pillows. Reusing these special pieces is also a way to use worn or stained linens that still have useable areas.
Since one of my other favorite hobbies is knitting, today I’m sharing how I transformed two vintage linens – a table runner and a pillowcase – into rolled knitting needle holders to organize and carry both my straight and circular needles. And the best part? It’s super easy and uses only straight line sewing!
(same for all types of linens)
Vintage linens – table runners and pillowcases for this example worked best because they were long enough for 13″ straight knitting needles (if making a needle holder for crochet hooks, tea towels would be long enough).
Coordinating ribbon – a 32″ piece of ribbon for tying in a bow. A grograin ribbon where both sides are the same is best.
Fabric marker – either vanishing or eraser style
Straight pins, sewing machine & coordinating thread
How To Make A Needle Holder From a Vintage Table Runner:
1. Fold linen piece with wrong sides together, using the needles you want it to hold as your measuring guide. Leave a top flap for folding over either over the needles or the other way, depending on if you want to see the tops of your needles (this example has the flap cover the needle tops, the next goes the other way leaving them visible). Pin edges where they meet.
2. Fold ribbon piece in half and insert folded edge 1/4″ into pinned edge; pin in place.
3. Set your machine to a longer stitch length (3.0) which makes a cleaner stitch for decorative sewing and doesn’t bunch as much as smaller stitches can.
4. Sew a straight line right along the edge of your linen. My embroidered runner had a crochet edge, so I sewed right where the crochet started.
5. As you come to the ribbon pinned to the edge, make sure it is straight and sew right over it, catching it in the edge.
6. Use a fabric marker to mark where the needle pockets will go.
7. Start at the bottom of the folded pocket and make marks at intervals for the individual needle pockets. For the 13″ bamboo straight needles I used here I made 1-1/4″ pockets which held sizes 13 to 5. You can make the pockets all different sizes as well for a custom needle holder (see below).
8. Use the marker and a ruler to make marks evenly up the inside pocket at about 3-4″ intervals – just enough that you can follow with the sewing machine.
9. Starting at the bottom of the large pocket, sew from the first mark straight up to the top of the pocket, using the marks as a guide. Bar-tack at the beginning and end to lock in stitches (sew back and forth one time before starting and ending the seam). Repeat to make remaining individual needle pockets.
Add your needles to the pockets. I like to organize them from largest to smallest.
Fold the flap over the needles, roll up keeping the embroidery visible, and tie with the ribbon. That’s it! Pretty easy, huh?
I also made a needle holder from a pillowcase that had embroidery and a scalloped crochet edging. The benefit of using a pillowcase is that it comes out thicker, liked a lined fabric.
How To Make A Needle Holder From a Vintage Pillowcase:
1. Follow the same steps outlined above, but make sure that your pillow decoration will fold over the way you want – either covering the tops of the needles or leaving them visible. You can see above that I left mine visible as I usually have the sizes marked on the needle tops and being able to see them will make them easier to find. If you plan on traveling with them and think they may fall out, cover them with the top flap.
2. Sew right along the edge of the case to make the seams for the large pocket before marking for your needle sizes. I made this case to hold some smaller 9″ bamboo needles and some circular needles.
3. When making custom sizes like this, it’s best to start measuring from each edge the sizes you want and work towards the center, so the last center pocket can be a larger or smaller size. In my example, the two outside circular needle pockets on each side (4 total) were 2-1/2″, the next three pockets on each side were 1/14″ and the center pocket is 2″ which ended up being perfect for the size 15″ needles.
You can make holders for all your needles – double pointed, circular, crochet hooks, or any others that you use. And wouldn’t these make a sweet gift for the crafters in your life? I know they would appreciate not only having their needles organized, but also the beauty of the original handiwork.
Not a knitter? If you have paintbrushes to organize, you can make holders this same way for them, as this example from Jeannie Oliver showed on Instagram.Pin It
If there is one thing you know our family loves it is doughnuts. In honor of the upcoming Olympics, I am sharing a delicious gluten-free baked doughnut recipe that you can bake up as a treat for those opening ceremonies. This gluten-free doughnut recipe is as easy to put together as our other wonderful doughnut recipes and are so fun to decorate for the holiday.
Today’s project is sponsored by Walmart. Almost everything you need for this project can be found at their store!
One thing you will need to create these doughnuts is a doughnut pan. When I first started baking doughnuts, you had to order an item like this online and through specialty shops. Now you can find it right on the shelves at Walmart, in the same aisle as your cookie sheets & baking pans. The price on their Wilton doughnut pans is $7.19. I have two of them because most recipes yield 10-12 doughnuts and it saves me time in the kitchen. These two pans have paid for themselves over and over again for our occasional sweet weekend treat!
Because I am new to gluten-free baking, I am using a gluten-free all-purpose mix to save me time in the kitchen. I bought a batch of Better Batter for my pantry and I have found that it is yielding impressive results for all of my baking needs. Buying it online from the company in bulk has saved me some money and storage in my pantry, thanks to not needing to buy multiple flours to blend. The bonus is that this mix does contain the Xanthan gum right in it. If your mix does not contain this, you will need to add that ingredient separately.
These doughnuts are light, fluffy, & sweet. The first things my kids remarked on was the spice in them. Although there is just a pinch of nutmeg, this ingredient really pulls through in the doughnut. For non-Olympic doughnut events, a sprinkle of powdered sugar on these is a delightful morning treat.
To make your Olympic-themed glazes, I simply made one batch of my favorite glaze and then added food coloring to each dish to reach the desired color. To achieve your black, if you are just working with a standard set of food colorings, equal portions of blue, yellow, and red will help achieve the color you are after.
Looking For More Fun Ideas to Celebrate the Olympics? Let’s take a peek at some more fun (and frugal!) ideas!
What could be sweeter than receiving an Olympic medal? How about an Olympic Medal filled with a cookie? AlphaMom offers this sweet little Olympic craft to do with your little ones. Stumped for a cookie idea? I highly recommend an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sea Salt Cookie for your medal filling!
Dress up a white t-shirt to dress up for the Olympic games. with a simple painted ring pattern on an inexpensive thrift store shirt, this is a craft that is easy enough to do with kids of all ages. Kate’s Creative Space offers this fun craft idea to her readers to celebrate the games.
What child doesn’t dream of carrying around their very own Olympic torch. Hoosier Homemade showcases a fun craft that you can do to create your very own Olympic torch made from some commonly found items at your local craft store.
Why not throw a party for your family or for a group of families to celebrate the Olympics? A Small Snippet has you covered with everything from patriotic foods to great Olympic game ideas to play together, to fun ideas for decorations that don’t cost a lot.
If hitting your craft store for supplies to make an Olympic torch isn’t in your budget, this Olympic Torch from The Idea Room is made from common items you have in your home and recyclables. These torches are made from a paper plate, a paper towel roll, and red & gold tissue paper. This is one that even the smallest child can do. Be sure to lift these high and participate in your own round of fun family Olympic games.
Even moms can jump in on the Olympic excitement with this cute craft, from Remarkably Domestic, for an Olympic Rings Necklace. This necklace is made from simple rings covered in Chinese knotting cord to create those Olympic rings everyone loves so much. This would be a fun craft to do while watching your favorite games this year!
However you celebrate the Olympic games this year, I hope this post inspires you for your Olympic game watching!
- 1½ cups all-purpose gluten-free powder (I recommend Better Batter Flour)
- 1 cup sugar (next time I may adjust to ¾ cup sugar)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ¼ cup canola oil
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- ½ teaspoon vanilla, butter, or almond extract
- Betty Crocker Food Coloring Set (over in the baking aisle)
- Preheat the oven to 350º and spray two nonstick 6-cavity doughnut pans with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the oil and milk until smooth; add to the flour mixture and whisk until combined.
- Spoon the batter into 10 cavities of the prepared doughnut pans until about three-quarters full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a doughnut comes out clean.
- Let the doughnuts cool.
- In a bowl, mix together the confectioners sugar, hot water, and flavoring. Divide the glaze into five bowls and create your colors for the doughnuts. Dip or spoon the glaze over the doughnuts and allow the glaze to harden.