Create May 2019

Can you even believe that May is almost over? I know I can’t. It just flew right on by and almost completely got away from me. On that note, does anybody else feel like May is honestly almost as busy as Christmas? Because I do. Busy in a different kind of way, but still crazy busy. Either way, I was able to work on my #Create2019 project this month: Cake pops.

Guys, not to brag, but I make the best cake pops I’ve ever tasted. Blake and I keep trying others, and nothing else is quite as good. The problem? They never turn out pretty. So that was my goal for this month. Well, that and to try out some new flavor combos. And I am here to report that, while I’m still not 100% there yet, I have upped my cake pop game quite a bit this month. (Cue the party music).

Here are my best tips, in no particular order, for tasty (and semi-pretty) cakes pops:

  1. Start with Betty Crocker cake mix. It is honestly just the best. Some people swear by Aldi brand cake mix. It’s good, but I think Betty Crocker is the way to go. Wanna hit it out of the park? Buy the box of Party Rainbow Chip cake mix and the coordinating icing. You won’t regret it. I’ve gotten the most compliments on that specific kind.
  2. Get yourself some good quality melting wafers. Not baking chips. They simply don’t work as well. No, you need melting wafers. If you want a smooth coating, splurge a little bit. I recommend Ghirardelli brand. They taste super good, plus, they melt and coat beautifully. I do not recommend Wilton brand, for two reasons. 1. It doesn’t taste as good. 2. They don’t really melt much better than cheap baking chips. I also found a brand at Michael’s that was pretty good, Choco Maker. I like them because they have a variety of colors and flavors. Plus, melted fairly nicely, which was a bonus.
  3. Some tutorials instruct you to put your rolled cake balls into the freezer, and some instruct you to place them in the fridge. I’ve tried both, and I’m here to say that for me, it worked best to put them into our deep freezer.
  4. If at all possible, melt your wafers in a tall mug. This makes it easier to cover all of your cake pop. While dipping, I also found it easiest to pick up the mug and move it around until the cake pop was covered, instead of swirling the cake pop around in the chocolate (does that make sense?) Otherwise, I had a lot of cake pops fall off the stick. Still tasty, but technically no longer a cake pop.
  5. It helps to have some tiny helpers to mush up your baked cake and roll up the balls. Many hands make for quick work, and they can roll almost faster than I can scoop.

6. Speaking of scooping, it helps to use a scoop like the one sitting in that bowl. Mine is Pampered Chef. I believe it’s this one. That will give you nice, even sized cake pops.

7. It doesn’t hurt to have helpers sticking the sticks into the cake balls either. Just make sure they get them fairly centered, and don’t poke them all the way through.

8. If adding sprinkles to your cake pops, do so almost immediately after dipping, because that shell dries quickly.

9. One box of cake mix makes a heck of a lot of cake pops, so be prepared to share. I wonder if they freeze well? I’ll have to try that and report back.

10. Cake pops are fairly involved. I like to make the cake a day in advance, and then turn them into cake pops the following day. That helps to break it up a little. (Plus, cooling time takes foooorrrrreeeeevvvvveeeeeeerrrr and I’m just too darn impatient).

This time we made Chocolate Fudge cake mix with white chocolate coating and some with coffee coating. I prefer the coffee, the kids prefer the white chocolate (thank goodness, that means more for me!) Earlier in the month we made Party Rainbow Chip with white chocolate coating and some with dark chocolate coating. Time and again, the Party Rainbow Chip with white chocolate coating is my absolute fave. But let’s be honest, they’re all good. (Unless they’re made with the Wilton wafers, in which case I don’t care for them 😅). Now don’t mind me while I go come up with some names for these babies, and maybe eat one or two while I’m at it.

The Girl at the Pizza Parlor

Photo by Fancycrave.com from Pexels

If I told you where one of my favorite pizza places is you would probably laugh. Or maybe you simply wouldn’t believe me. Either way, it wouldn’t matter, because I know how good it is. Any guesses? Are you dying to know? Ok, I won’t leave you hanging any longer.

Nestled in the basement of the hospital my dad works at downtown is a place called Sonny’s pizza. It’s a small, unassuming place with a simple sign hung above the door. If you didn’t know it was there, you could probably spend a lot of time in the hospital and miss it entirely. And yet, come meal time, it’s bustling with activity. Since I was a girl, having a slice at Sonny’s was a special treat, so along with really great pizza (and the best chocolate chip cookies around), this pizza joint holds some pretty heavy nostalgia for me.

After I had Lane, she and I would visit my dad at work and grab some Sonny’s while we were at it. Our pediatrician’s office was across the street from the hospital for years. Every time we were able, my dad would meet us at the doctor’s office to help me out with whichever kid’s appointment, and then he would treat us to pizza afterwords. It helped ease my kids’ minds about having to see the doctor, and it became a fun tradition for all of us.

As soon as we walked in the door every time, there was one particular lady who would smile at us really warm and big, and say hello. She worked the cash register and was a good friend of my dad’s. She knew who we were whether he was with us or not. She always asked how we were doing and what was going on. She consistently complimented us and was always so nice to talk to. I looked forward to seeing her every time. There was something so warm and genuine about her. You knew she really cared about you and what you had to say to her. Her name was Liz.

I found out yesterday that she had an aneurism and passed away. I didn’t know her very well, but I cried when I read the text from my dad. It’s one of the few times I’ve cried over someone I hardly knew. As I was telling my husband, I stopped to think about it. Liz had a way of making you feel at home. Even though we only had a small number of interactions with each other, each and every one was meaningful. She had such an impact on me because she meant to. Whether she realized it or not, her words were always kind and uplifting. She listened well and always had a good response. I can honestly say, she made that basement in that hospital a brighter place to be.

I thought to myself yesterday as tears rolled down my cheeks, “I want to be more like that. I want to be more kind and intentional, and less wrapped up in my own stuff. I want to make a big impact with even just a few meaningful interactions.” I’ve been thinking about it since. Next time I visit Sonny’s, and stand in line to pay for my food, it will feel a little more empty. It won’t be quite as bright, but I know I’ll remember her with a smile on my face. Here’s to you, Liz. May we all be a little bit more like you.