Friday Finances – savings in the new year

When I wrote my post about the {52-week savings challenge} a year ago, I never expected it to become the most popular post in my blog to date. thank you so very much to everyone who has shared that idea! I was successful in my goal, and used a lot of the account for Christmas shopping.

My new goal for 2014 is to continue saving at the $52/week level. Since I built up to it, over the last year, I know I won’t miss the money when it comes out of my account every Friday. At the end of December, I will have just over $2,700 saved. The biggest challenge for me will be leaving that account alone for the long term and allowing it to continue to grow. With our big vacation coming up in July, I see the potential for disaster (and a quick emptying of the account).

I actually have begun squirreling away money in a few different ways for our vacation with the hope that I won’t find any need to raid the savings, too. How am I saving for the trip?

  • $5- bill jar – If you’ve read my blog before, you knew the {$5 bill plan} would be at the top of my list. And thanks to the gal at the cash register in the cafeteria at work, I’ll be adding 2 more to the jar this evening. Yes, every single $5 bill goes into the jar.
  • $20 here. $10 there – Every so often I take a bill out of one of my cash envelopes (usually groceries or eating out) and stick it away. Doesn’t really affect the short-term budget and gives the vacation fund a boost
  • Gift Cards – one of my favorite ways to “hide” money is by buying gift cards that can be used at our vacation destination. I usually buy them at Target, and by using my RED debit card, I even save 5% on the face value.

What are your savings goals for 2014? I’d love to hear about how you’re planning to get there!

recipe – chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream and cream cheese filling

Did you really think I would share photos of a cake and not the recipe? I may be evil, but I’m not mean!! 20131218-090545.jpgI pinned this recipe several months ago from {The Nonpareil Baker} and have been itching for an excuse to make it. When Derek, one of the great guys I work with, reminded us that his birthday was coming up, I asked him what kind of cake he wanted. When he said “Chocolate cake is goooood,” I knew I had something in my arsenal that would hit the spot and make an impression.

Many years ago, I decided that I like making 3-layer cakes instead of just 2-layer. There’s something special about that extra layer that words can’t describe.

Maybe it’s the extra filing. Maybe it just looks like a lot more cake. I’ll tell you though, when I walk in the door with my Tupperware cake carrier people start drooling.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I bake.


Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream and Cream Cheese Filling
Recipe type: cake

adapted from the nonpareil baker who adapted from Hershey’s.
Chocolate Layer Cake
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 – ¾ cups flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 – ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 – ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup boiling water
Cream Cheese Icing/Filling
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • ¾ cup (1 – ½ sticks) butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 5-6 cups powdered sugar
Chocolate Buttercream
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 – ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 6 cups powdered sugar.

  1. Grease and flour three 8″ round layer pans.
  2. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. Sift dry ingredients together in a mixer bowl.
  4. Add eggs, milk, and applesauce. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  5. Add boiling water and mix on low until well combined. The batter will be thin.
  6. Divide batter among the pans.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool cakes in the pans for 10 minutes then turn out to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. Beat the cream cheese and butter together until they’re fluffy.
  2. Add vanilla.
  3. Mix in the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until the desired sweetness is achieved.
Chocolate Buttercream
  1. Beat the butter until it’s fluffy.
  2. Slowly mix in half the powdered sugar and cocoa.
  3. Add the milk and vanilla. Mix until incorporates.
  4. Add the rest of the cocoa and powdered sugar.
  5. Beat for about 2 minutes, until fluffy.


(not so) wordless Wednesday – let them eat cake

I made this cake last night for a co-worker’s birthday. The people in my little work group are my guinea pigs for new recipes because they’re not afraid to tell me if it sucks.



Miss E helped me make the icing last night. And she tried to stop me from taking the cake this morning…


Unrelated (not really): I need to heed today’s calendar warning.

But you all know I won’t! There is too much to be done over the next week.

Have a happy Wednesday!! We certainly are!


ten on Tuesday – Christmas music

We are down to a mere 7 shopping days before Christmas. Yikes!! How’s your list? Have you checked it twice?

silent_nightI think it’s time to take a little break from the hustle and bustle of wrapping gifts, baking up a storm, and crafting our asses off. Let’s indulge in some of, what I consider, the best Christmas music. It was hard to put together this list as there are just so many fantastic pieces available. I try to sprinkle the traditional with the silly in order to keep things interesting throughout the season.

  1. O, Holy Night
  2. Christmas Canon
  3. Joy to the World
  4. Silent Night
  5. You’re a Mean One, Mister Grinch
  6. Holly Jolly Christmas
  7. Silver Bells
  8. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
  9. Winter Wonderland
  10. White Christmas

And bonus #11 – Christmas Shoes (which makes me cry every. single. time.)

I’d love to know what music makes it feel like Christmas time in your house? Do you have a favorite artist? Christmas album? Or what’s the worst Christmas song ever?

PS…You can view and listen to my playlist at {instant fm}


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