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Homemade Chocolate Cake

Posted by Andie on April 29, 2011

Never invite company over when you're testing a new recipe.

(unless of course you're tying to scare them away!)

 

My husband's birthday was last week, and so naturally I'd been mulling over what kind of cake I was going to make for days.  Birthday cakes, and parties for that matter, are a big deal in my book.  We were going to hang out just the two of us all day, and so I invited a few friends over to help us celebrate and eat cake and ice cream later that night.  After flipping through almost every cookbook I own, I decided to try a new recipe.  It was a white cake with butter cream frosting from my favorite New York bakery's cookbook, and so I figured it would not disappoint.

 

 

Exhibit A: The first, and positively disgusting, birthday cake 

 

 

Oh, don't worry.  It not only disappointed, it totally BOMBED!!! 

 

Now, just to set the record straight, I am a pretty good baker.  Not to tute my own horn or anything, but I know how to follow a recipe, and usually I take pride in serving tasty baked goods to neighbors, friends and family.  

 

Not this time.

 

After the first bite I knew I had made a horrific mistake.  What was I thinking trying out a recipe for the first time with company over??!  The cake wasn't sweet or moist or even remotely appetizing.  It had absolutely no flavor, and it was painful to swallow.  The only half redeeming quality about this pile of sickness was the frosting, and that's being generous.  

 

Once my friends started raving about how good the boring ice cream tasted, I knew the ship had sunk.  Nobody uttered a word about the cake.  It was the elephant in the room everyone danced around.  Looking back, I should have provided a little comic relief, but I was too  stunned/horrified/embarrassed to think straight.

 

I was, and still am, absolutely mortified.  And yes, you guys, it was that bad.

 

Please learn from my mistake.

 

Thankfully, the story has a happy ending.  

 

 

Exhibit B: The second, and incredibly scrumptious, birthday cake.

 

 

We had another birthday party a few days later with my family, and luckily my mom pulled through and made this uber delicious chocolate beauty.  As opposed to the first mess of a cake, this baby was totally incredible in every way.  I wanted to scarf down three pieces.  It was amazingly moist, and the frosting was so good you'd lick it off the floor.  It's definitely my new favorite chocolate cake at the moment, and so I just had to share!!  It's found in the Keeping up Cookbook, which in and of itself is a miracle in my life.

 

 

Favorite "go-to" Chocolate Cake

 

2 cups flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

 

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups boiling water

2 eggs

 

Sift together dry ingredients and set aside.  Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla.  Mix in boiling water, then add eggs and mix well.  Gradually add dry ingredients and mix until well combined.  Pour into greased 9" x 13" pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Frost cake while slightly warm with vanilla or chocolate buttercream frosting. 

 

*Sidenote: Instead of using a 9" x 13" pan, my mom decided to make it into a round layer cake.  She poured the batter evenly into two 9" round pans, and put a layer of frosting in between the cakes before frosting the rest.  I loved it this way.

 

Don't panic when the batter seems too runny... that's the secret to the cake's moistness!

 

 

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

 

1/2 cup butter, softened

3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted

1/4 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

 

Cream butter in a mixer, then beat in 3 cups powdered sugar, cocoa powder, milk and vanilla.  Continue adding powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached.

  

 

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Shout It from the Rooftops

Posted by Andie on April 26, 2011

p If you re an online shopper you are probably very familiar with product reviews. nbsp As a general rule I don t buy anything online these days until I look over and weigh the product reviews. nbsp It s nice to get an idea of what real people who have actually purchased products you are interested in are saying about them nbsp One thing I have learned is to sometimes take reviews with a grain of salt though. nbsp There will always be nay-sayers out there who will em never em be happy and they are often the first people to review a product nbsp but I d say for the most part customer reviews are pretty helpful and accurate. nbsp nbsp p p nbsp p p If you re like me you read the reviews but you forget to take the time to write reviews yourself nbsp If you ve ever purchased anything from RC Willey we d love it if you d write a quick review nbsp It s super easy. nbsp Simply go to a product page and click on write a review and tell us what you like or dislike about the product nbsp We really appreciate your help in making our website more informative for customers nbsp Your opinion matters nbsp p p nbsp p p Just for fun I thought I d round up 10 of our 5 Star Rated most popular sellers nbsp Here s a small sampling of what customers like you are loving right now.... p p nbsp p p nbsp p p style text-align center img data-src static.rcwilley.com blog 34 2922 top-products.jpg alt width 558 height 537 p p nbsp p p nbsp p p Key p p 1. nbsp Panasonic a href Electronics TVs LED TC-P50VT25 2349965 Panasonic-50-1080p-3D-Plasma-HDTV-with-One-Pair-3D-Glasses-View.jsp 50 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV a with One Pair 3D Glasses p p 2. nbsp Howard Miller a href Furniture Accessories Clocks 625-406 1127550 Howard-Miller-Wall-Clock-View.jsp Wall Clock a p p 3. nbsp Progressive a href Furniture Bedroom Adult Dressers 61662-23DRESSER 2088339 Progressive-Dresser-View.jsp Dresser a p p 4. Brown Upholstered a href Furniture Living-Room Tables Cocktail ASHTONCKTLSTRGOTTO 2366754 Brown-Upholstered-Storage-Cocktail-Ottoman-View.jsp Storage Cocktail Ottoman a p p 5. nbsp Bose a href Electronics Audio Portable Digital 310583-1100BLACK 1844008 Bose-SoundDock-Series-II-Digital-Music-System-View.jsp Sound Dock a Series II Digital Music System p p 6. nbsp Karavan 24 a href Furniture Dining-Room Bar-Stools D200-2424 2014602 Karavan-24-Counter-Stool-View.jsp Counter Stool a p p 7. nbsp LG a href Appliances Laundry Washers WM2301HR 1988239 LG-Electric-Washer-View.jsp Electric Washer a p p 8. nbsp 94 Two-Tone a href Furniture Living-Room Sofas Fabric TRIBECCAHAZELNUTSO 7918046 94-Two-Tone-Microfiber-Sofa-View.jsp Microfiber Sofa a p p 9. nbsp Dark Brown a href Furniture Living-Room Sectionals Leather 4PC8335DKBROWNSEC 1688154 Dark-Brown-Leather-4-Piece-Sectional-View.jsp Leather 4-Piece Sectional a p p 10. nbsp Sauder 40 a href Furniture Living-Room Entertainment-Centers Wall-Units 408911TVSTAND 2162792 Sauder-40-TV-Stand-View.jsp TV Stand a p p style text-align center nbsp p p style text-align center nbsp p p style text-align left P.S. Be sure to enter our a href dp Hawaiian-Vacation-2011.jsp Hawaiian Vacation Giveaway a nbsp if you haven t already.... contest ends this Saturday p
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These Aren't Your Normal Patio Folding Chairs Giveaway

Posted by Andie on April 22, 2011

p style text-align left If you re like me you never seem to have enough seating when people come over and without fail you find yourself running around like a crazy person trying to make sure everyone is comfortable. nbsp Sound familiar nbsp If you need a few more seating options inside or you simply want to spruce up your patio say hello to these little puppies. nbsp Introducing the nbsp a href Seasonal-Fitness Patio Patio-Sets OP-PEFCS6T 2747715 Folding-Chair-Six-Pack-View.jsp Red Star Traders folding chair Six Pack a .... p p style text-align left nbsp p p style text-align right nbsp p table style text-align right width 575px height 576px border 0 tbody tr td style text-align center img style border 0px initial initial src static.rcwilley.com blog 34 2912 media-1-31218.jpg alt width 280 height 280 td td img style border 0px initial initial src static.rcwilley.com blog 34 2912 media.jpg alt width 280 height 280 td tr tr td img style border 0px initial initial src static.rcwilley.com blog 34 2912 media-3.jpg alt width 280 height 280 td td style text-align center img style border 0px initial initial src static.rcwilley.com blog 34 2912 media-2.jpg alt width 280 height 280 td tr tbody table p style text-align right nbsp p p style text-align left nbsp p p style text-align left Alright I think it s safe to say that all folding chairs are not created equally. nbsp In fact there are some pretty hideous ones out there. nbsp Everyone agree p p style text-align left nbsp p p style text-align left What I love about these folding chairs is that they re simple classic and neutral. nbsp No ugly patterns no paint that will chip and no fabric just waiting for kids to smear their hot dog condiments all over. nbsp These babies are easy to clean maintain and store and they can work inside or outside depending on where the party is p p style text-align left nbsp p p style text-align left Well guess what folks a set of 6 chairs retails for 399.99 nbsp Yikes they aren t cheap nbsp Since patio weather is either here or just around the corner for some a href dp Red-Star-Trader-s-Chairs-Blog-Giveaway.jsp I m nbsp a a href dp Red-Star-Trader-s-Chairs-Blog-Giveaway.jsp going to give one of these 6 pack sets away a nbsp I want to help one of you readers make your patio perfect for throwing get together s this summer p p style text-align left nbsp p p style text-align left To enter the contest just nbsp a href dp Red-Star-Trader-s-Chairs-Blog-Giveaway.jsp f a a href dp Red-Star-Trader-s-Chairs-Blog-Giveaway.jsp ill out the entry form and tell me a a href dp Red-Star-Trader-s-Chairs-Blog-Giveaway.jsp what your secret is in planning the perfect patio party a nbsp Contest ends next Thursday April 28th at midnight nbsp A winner will be randomly chosen and announced Friday April 29th. p p style text-align left nbsp p p style text-align left nbsp p p style text-align left P.S. Speaking of patio s this weekend when you spend 299 or more at any of our RC Willey locations you can purchase this sweet nbsp a href Seasonal-Fitness Patio Accessories HSS-A-SSTPATIOHEATR 2467800 Stainless-Steel-Patio-Heater-View.jsp Patio Heater a and a 50 RC Willey Gift Card a 350 value for only 99 nbsp p p style text-align left nbsp p p style text-align left Have a Happy Easter weekend p p style text-align right nbsp p p style text-align right nbsp p
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Easter Egg Extravaganza

Posted by Andie on April 19, 2011

I love decorating Easter eggs even more than I adore pink and red jelly beans, Cadburry Chocolate eggs, and those disgustingly tasty marshmallow peeps.  And that's sayin' somethin'. This mild obsession with decorating eggs definitely goes back to my childhood.  

 

 

Every spring my siblings and I thrilled at dying dozens of eggs in preparation for our annual Easter egg hunt. Once the eggs had been transformed into brilliant blues, purples, oranges, greens, and reds, they were turned over to my father, who took pride in hiding them around our house.  He was and still continues to be a master at hiding eggs in the weirdest, most obscure, and difficult places. Once all of the eggs were hidden and the hunt began, it was complete and total chaos. 

 

One year it got to the point where every egg had been found except one.  It was hidden in such an odd place that even my dad couldn't remember where it was!  After about an hour of the whole family searching we decided to throw in the towel.  A week or so later our house started to stink.  Really bad.  Horrific rotting egg fumes started emerging from the family room, quickly leading us to that last hidden egg.  

 

We now make it a point to find ALL hidden eggs ASAP, regardless of how much time it may take. 

 

Although my husband and I don't have any kids yet, coloring eggs is still a big deal at our house.  I've been looking online for Easter egg coloring ideas and realized real quickly that I need to step up my game.  Check out Family Fun's 40 awesome egg decorating ideas!  Honestly, they are impressive.

 

I'm totally going to try some of these this weekend:

 

 

 

 

A. Tie-dyed Egg, created by using an old silk neck tie

B. Little Piggy Egg

C. Simply Smashing Shells Egg, created by using crushed up colored egg shells

D. Lovely and Loopy Egg, created by using colored embroidery floss

E. Aluminum Foil Egg, created by using aluminum foil

F. Daddy Deggster Egg

G. Sticker Stencils Egg, created by using stencils

H. Bluebird Egg

I. Lots of Dots Egg, created by using glitter and glue

 

 

Happy Easter Egg Decorating!

 

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Travel and Adventure Meet Home Decor

Posted by Andie on April 15, 2011

As a kid, I was totally enamored with my grandfather's globe.  It stood about as tall as I was, and it kept me occupied for hours and hours.  I would start by heaving it with all my might into a wild spin, and then I'd close my eyes.  Patiently I would wait until the racing globe had slowed to a crawl, then I'd stick out my pointer finger and bring the spinning to a halt.  Next, I'd take a deep breathe and open my eyes, knowing I was destined to live wherever my finger rested on the map when I grew up.  It was fate.   

 

Eight times out of ten my finger was in the middle of an ocean.  Go figure.   

 

Over the past few months I've become so fond of using maps and globes in home decor.  It's such a simple, fun way to freshen up a room, help you reminisce about past experiences, and inspire future travels!  I'm currently on the hunt for the perfect little globe to grace my home so that my husband and I can play the spinning game when we need to make big life decisions.  

 

Here are a handful of rooms I love that are embracing the whole map theme in both subtle and dramatic ways...

 

 

image via design sponge

 

 

image via apartment therapy

 

 

image via design sponge

 

 

image via design sponge

 

 

image via design sponge


 

image via made by girl

 

 

image via design sponge

 

 

image via femina

 

 

image via ohdeedoh

 

 

 Love the map theme?  Hate it? 

 

Tell me what you think!

 

 

In other news, Congratulations to our Vacuum Winner, Desiree Jones, from Magna, UT!  It sounds like such a weird thing to be excited about winning, but I'm sure that her carpets will appreciate it!  Desiree, email me (andie@rcwilley.com), and we'll get you that vacuum so that you can either start or finish your spring cleaning!

 

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Reclining for the Style-Conscious

Posted by Andie on April 12, 2011

The other day I was perusing an RC Willey showroom floor and I found this little gem of a reclining sofa.  I stopped and stared in amazement and wonder at the slim and modern design.  I loved the look, but had doubts as to whether it was actually comfortable.  Seconds later I was fully reclined, drifting off to sleep, and cursing myself for having sat down.  Getting up was complete torture.  

 

Don't let looks fool you, this stylish sofa is a cozy little thing.   

 

While traditional recliners tend to be big and often quite bulky, this sofa is sleek, and boasts a fairly small frame.  It also features three separate recliners!  It's the perfect solution for people who swing on the modern side of life or have limited space in a room.  Don't you think it's pretty?

 

 

 

I've been dreaming up what I'd pair it with in my apartment.  A matching love seat is also available,  but I like the sofa best with an eclectic assortment of furniture and accessories. Here's my quick take on it....

 

 

 

 

1. Brick Red Leather Reclining Sofa

2. Taupe Upholstered Club Chair

3. The Thomaspaul Collection by Chandra Area Rug

4. Kichler Table Lamp

5. Coast to Coast Embossed Cabinet

6. Uttermost Co. Round Mirror

7. Schnadig End Table

8. Uma Large Leather Box

9. Floral Upholstered Accent Chair

 

What do you think?

P.S. Just realized the sofa is on sale right now! Also, just found out that this darling recliner is designed to go with the sofa!

 

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A FREE Hawaiian Vacation is the Answer!

Posted by Andie on April 8, 2011

p A couple of years ago I went to Hawaii with my family. nbsp Days were spent enjoying the beach eating delicious local cuisine and embarking on adventures. nbsp Every night come 10pm though you could find me swinging in a hammock on the beach nbsp talking with my then-boyfriend on the phone. The poor guy stayed up until 3am mountain time every night just to talk to me nbsp p p nbsp p p To this day my husband claims it s while I was in Hawaii that he realized he was in love with me. nbsp In fact we probably have Hawaii to thank for our marriage. nbsp Okay I ll stop now before this gets too sappy. nbsp I m telling you though there is something magical about the place.... p p nbsp p p nbsp p p img data-src static.rcwilley.com blog 34 2881 hawaii-52079.jpg alt width 558 height 390 p p class legaltext nbsp p p nbsp p p Want to go to Hawaii nbsp p p nbsp p p Whether you are craving some alone time with your spouse away from your children need a break from yucky weather or a stressful job want your boyfriend or girlfriend to fall deeper in love with you while you are away or just want to work on perfecting your tan .... I m telling you Hawaii is the answer nbsp It s the place for you p p nbsp p p I am bursting with exciting news.... nbsp p p nbsp p p class headertext RC Willey is giving away 6 Amazing Exotic nbsp Luxurious Vacations to Hawaii nbsp p p nbsp p p I m not kidding- this is definitely the most incredible Vacation giveaway we ve ever done nbsp The ONLY thing you ll have to pay for over in Hawaii is your food and sun screen nbsp Each vacation package includes round-trip airfare car rental and 6 Night 7 Days accommodations at the a href http www.koloalandingresort.com 4-Star Koloa Landing Resort a at Poipu Beach Kauai. nbsp The resort is brand spankin new. nbsp The villas are breathtaking and the beaches are to die for. nbsp Trust me I ve been drooling over the photos. p p nbsp p p Check out the a href http www.koloalandingresort.com Koloa Landing Resort a enter yourself into our a href dp Hawaiian-Vacation-2011.jsp Hawaiian Vacation Contest a and start dreaming about a week in Hawaii p p nbsp p
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8 Steps to a Clean Kitchen PLUS Bissell Vacuum Giveaway

Posted by Andie on April 6, 2011

p nbsp p p img style float right src static.rcwilley.com blog 34 2858 iStock 000005099603XSmall.jpg alt width 386 height 255 p p class headertext Spring Cleaning. p p nbsp p p Do those words invoke happiness and images of flowers and birdies chirping in your ear or do you see yourself getting sucked into a scary black hole where you ll live F-O-R-E-V-E-R p p nbsp p p Either way it s gotta be done folks. p p nbsp p p Last Spring we talked about nbsp a href blogs Room-To-Talk 34 2010 4 1700 Secrets-for-the-Serious-Bathroom-Cleaner.jsp Secrets for a Serious Bathroom Cleaner a and nbsp a href blogs Room-To-Talk 34 2010 3 1528 Design-Tips-10-Ways-to-Freshen-Up-Your-Bedroom-This-Spring.jsp 10 Ways to Freshen up Your Bedroom a so this year I think we ll focus on the Kitchen. nbsp Why the kitchen you might ask nbsp Because my kitchen is a disaster area with dishes piled up in the sink messy cupboards and embarrassingly dirty blinds as I type this. nbsp Oh and pretty sure there is a myriad of rotting produce in the vegetable drawer in my fridge. nbsp I need an intervention. nbsp Or at least the courage to put on some rubber gloves and get down to business. nbsp Hopefully I m not the only one out there that needs some Spring Cleaning motivation. p p nbsp p p class headertext Here are 8 Simple Steps to a Clean Kitchen..... p p nbsp p p strong 1. Start With a 15-Minute Spruce Up strong p p Take a few minutes to straighten up the kitchen putting everything back where it belongs. nbsp Throw dirty dishes into the dishwasher brush off counter tops take out the garbage and get a new trash bag to begin the clean out process. nbsp nbsp p p nbsp p p strong 2. Dismiss the Dust strong p p Tackle any cobwebs and dust bunnies on your ceiling art work and picture frames with a dust cloth. nbsp Next get a warm wet rag and wipe down your walls blinds light fixtures kitchen appliances cupboards knobs and handles. nbsp If you have drapes use a small attachment on your vacuum to suck up all of the dirt and dust. nbsp nbsp p p nbsp p p strong 3. Rescue the Refrigerator strong p p Begin by taking everything out of the fridge throwing away old food as you go. nbsp Make sure you check the expiration date on things like salad dressing sour cream yogurt cottage cheese etc. nbsp When in doubt throw it out nbsp Remove the drawers and shelves and scrub them with hot water and soap in your kitchen sink and use heavy duty cleaner to remove food stains and spills. nbsp Once you get the shelves so clean you d eat off of them put everything back inside p p nbsp p p strong 4. De-odorize the Oven strong p p I know it reeks but go ahead and apply oven cleaner to your oven. nbsp Suffering through temporary bad smells will be worth a clean fresh oven in the end. p p nbsp p p strong 5. Minimize Mold in the Microwave. strong p p This is definitely the most dreaded step in my opinion. nbsp Most people probably wipe down the microwave after daily use but I like to wait long enough so that there are multiple spills and smells to ensure that I will dry heave. nbsp I m thinking microwave maintenance could be a good New Year s Resolution for me next year. nbsp Alright so get a warm wet rag and wipe down the insides of your microwave. nbsp If simply wiping won t eliminate all of the food mold spills etc then give it a little elbow grease until it sparkles. nbsp p p nbsp p p strong 6. Clean the Cupboards. strong nbsp nbsp p p Take all the food out of your cupboards and run over all of the inside surfaces with a warm wet rag. nbsp Don t be shy about tossing out old food. nbsp If it s been in your cupboard for over 6 months or so and you haven t used it chances are you won t. nbsp If canned goods haven t expired but you know you won t use them make a donation to your local food bank p p nbsp p p strong 7. Scrub the Sink. strong p p Scrub your counter tops and kitchen sink with your favorite sweet smelling cleaner. nbsp This is definitely my favorite step. nbsp p p nbsp p p strong 8. Finish with the Floor. strong p p Sweep the floor for crumbs and then scrub it either by hand or with a mop whichever you prefer . nbsp Afterwards run a dry rag over the surface and then you re done nbsp Now you can sit back relax and bask in the newfound beauty of your kitchen nbsp p p nbsp p p style clear both border-bottom-color 839abf border-bottom-style solid border-bottom-width 1px nbsp p p nbsp p p Here s the good news. nbsp I m going to give this nbsp a href Appliances Vacuums 82H1CLEANVIEW-HELIX 2029375 Bissell-CleanView-Helix-Vacuum-View.jsp Bissell CleanView Helix Vacuum a nbsp to one of you readers to help make your Spring Cleaning a little easier and happier this year. nbsp Heck this awesome new vacuum just might make cleaning fun nbsp Or maybe your kids will love it so much they ll fight over who gets to vacuum the house p p nbsp p p Visit our a href dp Vacuum-Blog-Giveaway.jsp Blog Vacuum Giveaway Page a for a chance to give this vacuum a home The giveaway will end next Wednesday April 13th at midnight and the winner will be announced the next day. Good luck p p nbsp p p style text-align center a href Appliances Vacuums 82H1CLEANVIEW-HELIX 2029375 Bissell-CleanView-Helix-Vacuum-View.jsp img style border 0pt none src static.rcwilley.com blog 34 2858 vacuum-16537.jpg alt width 234 height 367 a p p style text-align center nbsp p
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Commercial Shoot PLUS Sony Slam Dunk Winner!

Posted by Andie on April 1, 2011

Happy Friday! The past couple days have been busy, busy busy!  RC Willey's spokeswoman, Paige Davis, flew into town Wednesday evening, and countless people have been working tirelessly ever since with her in filming a big commercial shoot!  Paige is a doll to work with, and I've decided in another life I want to be a professional make-up artist! 

We are working on a fun and exciting new ad campaign that I'm excited to share with you guys... until then, here are a few quick photos from the shoot!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, a big Congratulations to this week's Sony Slam Dunk Sweepstake's Winner, Cole Shepard, from Holladay, UT!  Cole, email me (andie@rcwilley.com) and I'll get you your new Sony Home Theater System!  Thanks for participating everyone, and have a great weekend!

 

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