My Home Checklist: Seeding Grass Project

Kevin and I have some outdoor renovations planned for this spring/summer, and this passed weekend we got to check the first project off the list: seeding grass. Kevin spent some time most evenings last week prepping the yard, straightening out some areas, pulling out old cement blocks and putting them in other necessary areas. Two weeks ago he also cut off a beautiful pine tree that was right in the center of our backyard. We loved this tree, but it was growing bigger and bigger every year, making our backyard smaller and smaller. So we finally decided that it had to go. 🙁  

On the weekend we had soil delivered, and we worked really hard to straighten out our front and backyard, and finished by seeding grass. Our bodies were SO sore by the end of it, but we felt really accomplished and also really enjoyed working on our yard together. There’s just something about spring, sunshine, dark and rich fresh soil, working hard, seeding, nurturing the seeds, and then waiting with anticipation to see new grass sprouting up everywhere. We were so thankful for the perfect weather that accompanied us the whole time! Here are some pictures of the weekend. I have to remind myself to document our life and our every day kind of moments more often. These pictures will bring back many memories in the years to come.

Luna loved every second of her time spent outdoors!

Here are some semi-before pictures, as I’m hoping that the look of the back and front yard will change drastically over the next few years. To get the real before picture, imagine a pine tree right in the middle of the yard, and where the soil is lying, there was old grass, with a fairly bumpy and uneven surface. Leading towards the gate, there were broken cement blocks, forming a path.

Seeding Grass Project Seeding grass

Our plan is to remove the chain-link fence completely, and replace it with a taller, wooden fence for more privacy (and to hide the not so appealing back lane).

I realize that I never showed you an “after” picture of the new deck that Kevin and my dad built last summer (2016). It isn’t fully finished, so I might to another post on it in the future showing the before and after pictures. But here is what it looks like for now, and we’re really enjoying it. Now we’re dreaming and working on turning the whole backyard into a nice hang out space, and eventually also an area for gardening.

   

I felt a strong urge to take off my shoes and work in the rich soil barefoot! Yes, my feet got incredibly dirty, but with a little soaking, and a little bit of soap and scrubbing, it all came off! They were almost as good as new!

Kevin taking a well deserved break.

Adding the sprinkler and watering the seeds felt like the final rewarding touch. Kevin finished up the backyard in the dark, while Luna got a much needed bath inside.

Thank you for following our little and big adventures. Wishing you all a great week!

Double Decker Lemon-Raspberry-Vanilla Poke Cake

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A new week has begun! Today I have something for everyone that has a sweet tooth: Meet the Double Decker Lemon-Raspberry-Vanilla Poke Cake! 

I have to say that I had an incredible amount of fun doing this photo shoot! Everything lined up perfectly with my beautiful spring lilacs being in full bloom. I’ve definitely thought about removing these trees, because some of them aren’t looking that great (don’t get me wrong, I do love lilac trees!), but this photo shoot had me second guessing that idea. After all, nothing says it’s Spring like the fresh smell of blooming lilacs does.   

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I was planning on posting this cake on the website today, but hadn’t thought about the fact that it would line up exactly with my mom’s birthday. When I realized this today, I was pretty pumped, because the tea cups and everything else is totally the style my mom is obsessed with! 

So I think it’s fair to say I will consider this my mom’s birthday cake from afar (although we finished and gave away a lot of it already!). Mom, happy birthday to you! You are such a beautiful woman. I don’t know how it happened, but over the years you’ve simply become one of my best friends! Your strength, determination, and readiness to forgive are an inspiration to me. Now I only wish you could’ve helped me with this cake and photo shoot. I love you to the moon and back!

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I have to say that this cake would be a little less work if made differently. A while ago I made my first poke cake and was inspired to play around with the flavors. I also decided to try making it as a double layered cake. Now, you could probably make this cake with only one layer in a rectangle cake pan. This would save you some time. However, if you want a cake that is more about the presentation, I would recommend trying the double layers.

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I am excited about some of the props I got to use for this photo shoot. A lot of them are very meaningful. First, my sister-in-law was kind enough to let me use her DIY vintage blue chair. This chair is the product of a broken chair found off of the street, which then got a little love and a makeover. Second, the white sheer curtains and the old stand mixer both belonged to my husband’s grandma. And third, the cutlery belonged to my grandparents. My grandma was going to sell it at a garage sale, and so my mom ended up buying it instead. What I find very interesting about some of the cutlery is that it has my grandpa’s initials on it. In the past everyone would bring their cutlery to events, and at the end of the day the initials would mark which cutlery belonged to them.

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I might eventually try different combinations of poke cakes. Do you guys have any suggestions? Which poke cake combinations are you dying to eat? Please do comment below! 🙂 Have a great week everyone!

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P.S. For more of a visual guide on how to assemble the cake, follow the pictures below.

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Double Decker Lemon-Raspberry-Vanilla Poke Cake
The perfect balance between a light and heavy spring and summer cake!
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Ingredients
  1. 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1½ cups cake flour
  3. ½ tsp. baking soda
  4. 1½ tsp. baking powder
  5. 3/4 tsp. salt
  6. 1 cup sugar
  7. ⅔ cup vegetable oil
  8. ⅓ cup vegetable shortening (at room temperature)
  9. 1 tsp. Mexican vanilla
  10. 2 tsp. lemon juice
  11. 3 large eggs
  12. 1½ cups buttermilk
  13. zest of one large lemon
  14. 1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding (4 servings)
  15. 2 packages (6 oz. each) of raspberries
Whipping cream ingredients
  1. 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  2. 2-4 Tbsp. sugar (to taste)
  3. 1 tsp. white Mexican vanilla
  4. One small handful of raspberries (from the above packages)
Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Grease and flour two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans.
  3. In a bowl, sift together the first six ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl beat the vegetable oil, vegetable shortening, vanilla, and lemon juice, until fluffy.
  5. Continue beating in the eggs, one at a time.
  6. Fold in the lemon zest.
  7. Beginning and ending with the flour mixture, fold in 1/3 cup of the flour mixture, alternating with 3/4 cup of the buttermilk, and folding just until combined after each addition (or until all lumps are gone).
  8. Divide the batter between the two pans.
  9. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to sit in the pans for 10 minutes after baking. Then turn them out onto a cooling rack. Allow the cake to cool for a few more minutes before assembling the poke cake.
  10. While the cake is baking, prepare the pudding according to the instructions on the package.
Whipping Cream
  1. Combine and beat the whipping cream, sugar, vanilla, and raspberries, until peaks begin to form.
To assemble the cake
  1. Place the first cake (flat side facing down) onto a serving plate.
  2. With the end of a wooden spoon poke holes all over the cake.
  3. Spread 1/3 of the pudding on the cake, making sure all holes are filled.
  4. Top with raspberries, then cover with another third of the pudding.
  5. Cut off the rounded top of the second cake. Place this side down onto the first cake.
  6. Poke holes all over the second cake and fill the holes with pudding. Then scrap all the extra pudding off, avoiding it from later mixing with the whipping cream (top the leftover cake crumbles with the extra pudding to enjoy a mini trifle).
  7. When the assembled cake has completely cooled off, begin frosting the cake with the raspberry whipping cream.
  8. Decorate with the remaining raspberries.
  9. Chill and serve.
Notes
  1. You may also use general vanilla for the whipping cream. White vanilla just keeps it from getting tinted.
Adapted from Rock Recipes
Adapted from Rock Recipes
Sweet Blooming Roots http://www.sweetbloomingroots.com/