Chocolate Pudding Cake… in the CROCKPOT!

CROCK POT CHOCOLATE CAKE   1 box chocolate cake mix  8 oz sour cream  1 pkg instant chocolate pudding  1 cup chocolate chips  4 eggs  3/4 cup oil  1 cup water  Mix all ingredients together. Pour into lightly greased 5qt crock pot, metal coffee can or Crock Pot Cake Bake pan. Cover.  Cook 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.
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  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 (3.4 oz) box cook-and serve chocolate pudding
  • 1/4 plus 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 3 Tbsp chocolate sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  1. Coat the crockpot with cooking spray. Or better yet, put a crockpot liner in it.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, pudding mix. 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Make a well in the center and add milk, oil, and vanilla. Stir gently until batter is smooth and then add chocolate chips.
  3. Pour the mixture in the prepared crockpot.
  4. In yet another bowl, stir together chocolate sauce and remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Pour in the boiling water and stir until smooth.
  5. Pour the second mixture on top of the batter in they slow cooker.
  6. Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 1/2 hours until the cake is puffed and the top layer is set.
  7. Let stand 30 minutes with the cover on, then serve with ice cream.

Above is the picture from pinterest; here’s the crockpot cake that I actually made:


This came out pretty well, although I’m not sure the cinnamon was the best idea.

Still, it did set up as an actual cake, with a nice soft center.

It’s not just men

I hate to ask for directions.

I really do.

Everyone says it’s men who hate to admit when they are lost, but with my husband and me, it’s the opposite.

I’m the one who stubbornly insists I CAN FIGURE IT OUT ON MY OWN, OKAY?!?! I HAVE A MAP!!!! even when it is obvious to him and everyone else that I am floundering in circles like an idiot.

I’m the one who says grouchily, “They probably won’t know where it is anyways! They look like morons!” when he points out likely people from whom we might ask directions.

I’m the one who declares, “No really, I know exactly where we are now. We’re almost there!” when it is blindingly apparent that we are in fact in Siberia.

It’s fun to go places with us.

I also hate asking for help in a store when I can’t find something. I mean, there are signs on every aisle saying what things are there. It should be self-explanatory where the mechanical pencils, or cake flour, or motor oil, or whatever, are located.

Recently, though, I was completely stymied at the office supply store. I was looking for carbon paper.

And for all of you who are too young to know what that is, it’s what we used to use to make a copy of something we were writing or typing, without using a copy machine or computer. Look it up.

I looked in the paper aisle. I looked in the copy-ink aisle. I looked in the writing instruments aisle. It was not there.

A store employee wearing an “ASK ME FOR HELP!” button smiled at me. I ignored her.

I went carefully through every aisle on the non-computer side of the store, until at the very back I came to the Luddite aisle.

“Aha!” I thought, as I looked at the shelves of rubber stamps, paper forms, adding machine tape, and various other implements we used to use in offices twenty-five years ago.

Another cheery-looking “ASK ME!” button-wearer passed me, and I smiled dismissively at him.

Here’s the thing: IT STILL WASN’T THERE!!!

I couldn’t believe it. They had those little stick-on circles to reinforce holes in your paper. They had paper penny rollers. They had a make-your-own-will-kit. But they did not have carbon paper.

I guess carbon paper is so “out” that NO ONE has it anymore, I thought sorrowfully. I started to leave the store.

You really should ask someone, I told myself.

I really don’t want to ask someone, I answered myself.

I steeled myself and approached a store employee. She looked about twelve years old. “There is NO WAY this girl knows what carbon paper even is,” I thought.

But I asked her, “Do you have carbon paper?” She looked at me blankly. I smiled sadly.

“Carbon paper,” she repeated, still looking at me. I prepared to walk away in defeat.

And then… “Right over here,” she said. It was by the typewriter ribbon. ON THE COMPUTER SIDE OF THE STORE.

Who knew?

Why I haven’t written anything in a week

Because it is Spring Break.

Which means all my kids are home. All day.

Which means all the creativity has been sucked out of me, and all I can do is sit here like an unmotivated lifeless blob.


I’ll get back to you guys next week.

Snack Fail


About once a week I bring an after-school snack to a group of kids that live at the homeless shelter. I try to get them something that’s good, but at least slightly healthy.

I mean, I’d like them to enjoy the snack (and think that I’m cool), but I want to make sure they get some nutrition too. Plus, I’m trying to earn that shiny badge, pictured above.

Last week I brought Pringles and yogurt-covered raisins.  I figured I’d get cool points for the chips, and healthy points for the raisins, which were still slightly cool because of the candy-like coating.

I also brought Capri-Suns, but to try to make the pouch drinks a little healthier, I decided to get the “Super V” ones, that have a vegetable/fruit juice blend. I’d never tried that kind before (they cost quite a bit more than regular Capri-Suns) but they sounded cool AND healthy.

“Full Serving Of Fruits AND Vegetables!” the package declared cheerily. “Good Source of FIBER!!”

This snack was, unfortunately, less than popular with the kids.

The Pringles were greeted with enthusiasm, but the rest of my choices … not so much.

“Raisins?!” they said in disgust, as I passed out the cheery red Sun-Maid packages.

“Raisins covered in yogurt!” I amended happily. They raised their collective eyebrows at me skeptically.

One kid industriously began sucking the white coating off her raisins and making an icky-looking pile of the remains. I wrinkled my nose and gave her a napkin.

There were two kids, or maybe three, who actually liked raisins. They collected their neighbors’ rejected red boxes and stuffed them into their backpacks for later.

The yogurt-covered raisins were not a successful snack choice, obviously.

But the Capri-Suns were accepted with alacrity. The familiar sight of the silver pouch pleased them.

Until they tasted the drinks.

“Um, Miss?” said a kid, tugging my sleeve. “There’s something wrong with my Capri-Sun.”

“Mine too,” said another kid. “I think there’s something weird in it.” Several others sipped, grimaced, and put their drink pouches aside.

I sighed. “Yeah,” I admitted. “There’s healthy in it.”

No cool points for me.

Baked Shrimp Scampi

Baked Shrimp Scampi

This is a Barefoot Contessa recipe I made last week. Delicious!

Of course, my version was slightly less pretty. And I took out some of the complications.


Here’s the recipe, with my modifications in (Notes):

Baked Shrimp Scampi

  • 2 pounds shrimp in the shell
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic 
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. (Note: I took the tails off. I don’t like shrimp shells in my food.)

Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.

In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined. (Note: I don’t have all of this stuff. I used minced garlic from the jar and then replaced the other spices with a seafood seasoning blend. I used plain old bread crumbs instead of panko. The egg yolk I used as directed.)

Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. (Note: This makes it look fancy. Since I cut the tails off I couldn’t do this, but I’ll trade fancy-looking for shell-free food.)

Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. 



I Want Oscars Hair!

No. I don’t mean Oscar’s hair.


I mean Oscars hair.


You get it? I’ve been reading the People Magazine “Awards Season Special.” Also I’ve been looking at hair tips on pinterest.


So I decided to try to make a version of this with my own hair.

Unfortunately I suffered from a lack of a hairstylist team. So my results were not quite red-carpet worthy.


Also I doubt that stars prepping for the Oscars have kids yelling “I want Beefaroni!” or “She licked me!” while they are trying to beautify themselves.

Mommy is trying to nap

The twins promised to play quietly in my room so I could take a nap.

“Play quietly” was apparently defined by Little Girl as, “Bring every toy we own into Mommy’s room, especially the noisy ones”.  (Good to see you, Fire Truck. Ah, Tambourine! Join the party!)


And Little Boy busily built paper-cup towers on my bed and knocked them over.

They are lucky I can sleep through almost anything.


Talking to the gate guards


We lived on a closed Army post, and so we have to go through a checkpoint gate several times every day. I kind of feel sorry for the MP’s who have to stand there all day and look at people’s ID’s. I’m sure it is boring.

We were going through the gate late at night once when I met the most cheerful guard yet.

  • Guard. How are you ma’am?
  • Me. I’m fine and how are you?
  • Guard. I am wonderful!
  • Me. (driving away) hmmm. I suspect hyperbole.
  • Husband. (snorts) I suspect outright lying.

He’s such a cynic…

Wrap Away Inches Overnight?

DIY Body Wrap... lose up to 1-2 inches a night??
Today I’m bringing you a wallet-friendly version of body wraps. I’ve been seeing these around the internet lately and mentioned them to a friend. She’s from Mexico and said she’s been doing those for years, just not the commercialized type. I tried it one night and lost .5 inches on my gut overnight!
Here’s her “secret recipe” for DIY Body Wrapping. You only need 3 things: Lotion, Plastic Wrap, and Ace Bandage

I saw this tip on pinterest and I figured I should try it.

After all, I didn’t embarrass myself enough with my shaving post (remember how I let my leg hair grow into a full crop?!), so  it seemed like a great idea to try some more internet self-humiliation.

First I measured my waist for a baseline number. It measured XX inches.

(The above number has been censored, for your own protection. Because if you read the actual number of inches it takes to go around my not-so-svelte waist, I’d have to kill you. Or myself. One or the other.)

Then I gathered my supplies:


  • Moisturizer (Natural is best; something from the sea –like kelp or mud– is suggested, but you can use plain lotion.)
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Ace Bandage

Here are the instructions, from iheartnaptime:

Step 1 – Apply a thick layer of lotion to the area you want to target. {Don’t rub it in completely!} You can do it on your stomach, your thighs, your upper arms, wherever your “trouble spots” are.

Step 2 – Wrap the ENTIRE area with your plastic wrap. I went all the way around my mid-section several times. Make it snug but not tight; you do have to wear it ALL night long.

Step 3 – Now wrap the area with a long bandage of some kind, anything that will keep your wrap in place. Be sure to cover the plastic completely. Secure it well and you’re ready to hit the sack!


Here I am, looking completely ridiculous, right before going to bed, making a crinkling noise with every step.

I crack myself up.

I got into bed in the dark, rustling loudly like a candy wrapper in the movie theater. I said to my husband, “I’m doing something strange for my blog.”

“Oh yeah?” he said sleepily.  “Let me guess… You smeared yourself in oil, and then wrapped up in Saran wrap and Ace bandage.”

I was dumbfounded. “What? You could tell that from the sound in the dark?” I asked, impressed.

“No,” he said. “I saw your weird supply stash in the bathroom.” Then he went to sleep.

It was a little tougher for me to fall asleep, being trussed up like leftovers from Thanksgiving. Also I was sweating.

But this was actually the point. I’ll quote, “The idea behind the wrap is to help your body release water that’s retained due to weather, food consumption; even Mother Nature’s visits. The combination of lotion and plastic helps sweat it out of you.” (That’s from my friend at iheartnaptime again.)

Okay, so the next morning I unwrapped myself, with difficulty, as the whole thing had bunched up quite a bit. then I measured my waist again, and it was XX inches!!

(Whoops! Censored again! You thought I’d slipped up, didn’t you? I’m crazy, but I’m not THAT crazy.)

Let’s do the math on this: XX inches minus XX inches equals…2.

WOW!! I lost two inches of sweat!

That’s kind of gross. But still… I’m amazed that it worked!

Well… It SORT OF worked. That evening I measured again, and 1 1/2 of the two inches had returned.

I couldn’t even keep them off for 24 hours!!