Tuesday, March 17, 2015

**FAMILY** This is (just some of) My Big, Beautiful, Crazy Family

As the song says, "The Storm Is Over Now", as far as the worst part of my grief. A lot of people might not understand what a blow it was for us to lose Mike, but I have such a big and crazy and beautiful family that I decided to steal and share some of our photos. Now you know.

This is just a tiny teeny bit of the photos I am sorting through (ahem, stealing) to put together a family slideshow later. It's going to be a loooong job... You can tell that we are strong on serving our country, loving our kids, and putting up with each other through thick and thin. #Blessed


**RECIPE** Cool Whip & Jello Rainbow Cake (and bragging)

This was one of my mother's and my sister's favorite recipes. All the chicks in the family learned to make it except for me. Until the other day. My first one was a disaster because I made a couple of rookie mistakes. My niece, +Gabrielle B (who should have her own bake & crafts shop!) walked me through it over the phone and I finally #nailedit.

Here is the recipe (with notes from my own experience):


  1. 2 boxes white cake mix
  2. 2 (or more) different colors of Jello gelatin
  3. Big tub of Cool Whip
Also needed
  1. 2 cake pans - each large enough to hold a full cake mix*
  2. Parchment paper (to line bottom of each cake pan for baking)
  3. Enough extra oil and some flour (to dust the pans)
  4. Coffee straws (for poking holes in cake)
  5. Skewers (or toothpick-like items to anchor the cake for frosting)
  6. A children's medicine squirter, if you have one. 
  7. Make sure to have room cleared in fridge to hold cake pans later.
  8. Make sure the fridge is very, very cold.
  9. Leave your Cool Whip in fridge (not the freezer). Makes it easy to use later.
  10. Have a plate ready for later. The cake is tall, so...
  1. Mix and bake cake (one box for each of the 2 pans). Don't forget to line bottom with paper.
  2. Once cakes cool to normal, put them in fridge for AT LEAST 8 hours.
  3. Just prior to removing cake pans from fridge, mix your Jello, keeping colors separate. (My mother would use half the water required for making the Jello. Give more intense flavor.)
  4. You're going to leave the Jello in its liquid state. Set it aside.
  5. Take out your cakes (and leave them in the pan). Poke holes in the cakes from top to bottom. This is where you are going to be injecting the Jello. (You want to space the holes so that your Jello colors won't glob together, and you don't want to make any too near the edge of the cake.)
  6. Use your medicine squirter to inject your different colors of Jello into the holes. (Don't put the same colors close together; spread them around for a pretty effect when the cake is sliced.)
  7. Put the cakes (still in the pan) back in the fridge. Try to wait at least several hours. I left mine in for about 8 hours.
  8. Remove one of the cakes from its pan and put onto cake plate. This is the bottom layer. Duh.
  9. Frost the top of this bottom layer of the cake with your Cool Whip. You will want to go heavy with the frosting here. Don't worry about the sides of the cake yet.
  10. Remove your other cake from it's pan and place on top of the first layer.
  11. Use something to anchor the two layers. I had a problem with the top layer sliding when I tried frosting it. Also, this will help steady the cake later when you're cutting slices. (Trust me, anchor the cake!)
  12. Frost the rest of the cake. (I like to go heavy with the Cool Whip.)
  13. For extra prettiness, you can run lines through the frosting across the top of the cake and down the sides. Add a little of the Jello and let it run down the lines.
The cake needs to be kept in the fridge in between servings (if it lasts that long!).

It's a pretty easy and inexpensive cake to make. Plus, you can use the leftover Jello and Cool Whip for more snacking later.

By the way, this is what happens if you don't get the right size skewers & they stick up too high:

But that's better than when you don't have a cold enough fridge, get impatient about letting the cake set overnight, and make all the other mistakes I did with the first one:

And this is what happens when you're a baking queen like my niece!

And I'm not kidding when I call Gabby the Queen of All Creative... Here are some of what she has done - while holding down a full-time job and going for her Masters... Stiff competition in the family to pursue your dreams. (Gabby lives in the Dallas Texas area, and she is available for custom cakes and creations of all kinds for parties, baby showers, etc. #pluggingmyretirementplan!)

Everything has a function

Jazzing up some plain chairs

Nintendo cookies for a family birthday

fiesta hats

Our uncle's M & M birthday cake

DJ's tractor construction cake