I'm a Military Blogger


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"Care"-ied Away

Wow. My major project this week has been making baked goods and home-made crafts for a care package. I really wanted to give DH that specific taste of home that can only be found in something I slave over on a stove. I made cakes in a jar and some pudding cookies, and then I got a bit carried away with the fabric and cardstock and ended up making an elaborate box to put them in (well, I more or less "converted" a flat rate box into a work of art).

Here's a picture of the box before I put anything in it:

I was originally trying to call it "Home is Where the Heart is" but I printed the words too big and just got lazy after that and settled for "Home is..". The text below is little bits and pieces of poems and quotes. It says "Home is where the heart is. Home is not where you live, but where they understand you. Home is a shelter from the storms-all kinds of storms. Home is the one place in all the world where hearts are sure of each other."

I also spent all of yesterday making a photo book. Here's just a little sampling (since I don't want to bore you guys with a play-by-play of all 18 pages):

This was the first time I've made "Cakes in a Jar", but I think it was an overall success. I even decorated the tops with some fabric.

In case you're wondering, here's how to make them:

1. Follow the instructions for any cake batter or mix, just like you would if you were making a full cake. I used Betty Crocker Super Moist Yellow Cake.

2. Instead of a cake pan, use wide-mouthed canning jars. Grease the inside of the jars with some oil or pam so that the cake can be "dumped" out to eat.

3. Fill each jar about half-way full with batter. I used 1 cup of batter in my jars and that seemed to be the perfect amount. Nothing over-flowed.

4. Bake the jars in the oven as per the instructions on the box. As a rule of thumb cakes will take about 15 minutes less than the box instructions for a 9 x 13.

My instructions said 33-39 minutes and overall I left mine in for about 20 minutes. Also, put the jars in a cake pan just to catch any possible over flow, plus it makes it easier to get them in and out (you might want to bake one by itself as a test).

I used a bamboo skewer to check each cake for done-ness.

To seal the cakes, place the lids and rings on right after the cakes get out of the oven. Don't re-use lids and don't boil them. Boiling the lids has a tendency to ruin the rubber seals and they won't seal. I left my lids on the top of the stove while the cakes were baking so they heated up, and then once I pulled the cakes out, I used a dishtowel to hold the jar and screw the ring on around the lid. The jars seal themselves about 10-15 minutes later as they cool and you will here a little "pop". You can also check the seal by pushing on the top (it shouldn't pop up and down).

Four little sealed Cakes:

I also made some pudding cookies. Supposedly the pudding mix in them keeps them moist. Here's the recipe:


1 c. softened butter
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
3.4 ounces any flavor pudding mix (around 1/2 a c. I used vanilla, but you can switch it up and use anything)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs.

Add in:

2 1/4 c. flour (in reality, I probably used 2 3/4, but that's because I sift mine)
1 tsp baking soda
Also: chocolate chips, oatmeal, nuts, health/skor, M&Ms or whatever other thing you want. Mine were oatmeal chocolate chip.

Bake for 8-10 minutes on 375. (I purposely under-baked mine by about a minute, just so they're more gooey.)

That was my test-batch. I forgot about them and subsequently they burned to a crisp. I made sure to use a timer for the all the other batches haha!

To ship them, I've heard several methods. One is to put them in a Pringle's can. Another is to vacuum seal them. I just put them in gallon-sized ziploc bags with a slice of white bread, and squeezed out as much air as I could (the bread is in the back, hidden from view). 

Here's my care package ready to mail. I wrapped the cake jars in large bubble wrap and also included some Girl Scout cookies, instant coffee, forks and spoons, some chocolate frosting, and a photo book I made.

I will probably be sending a "whoops" package this weekend, to make up for the fact that I forgot to make the waffle-cookies he had specifically requested. Like I said...carried away on a care package. I guess we should say "care"-ied away!!


PTSD, A Caregiver's Perspective said...

How creative you are! Your DH must be the envy of all the other Marines with whom he serves. Real home baked goodies AND packaged so beautifully with constant reminders of just how much he's loved and missed.

I'm sure he treasures and adores you, just as much as you do him :-)


~Cheryl~ said...

Sending some blog love-- I have an award for you on my blog :-)

Andrea said...

This is AMAZING! Great job! And the cakes in a jar? GENIUS!!!

Kirsten said...

I love the way you do your care packages! It inspires me!

AmandaCervantes said...

=D I'm sure he loves your efforts! This is one of my favorites you did!

Patti at Camp Blogaway said...

How creative and loving, what a wonderful care package to send abroad. You are a Smart Cookie, hope to see you at Camp Blogaway (just emailed you about it).

Marissa said...

You're amazing...Seriously!! Thanks for the ideas!! :)

♥ Dani said...

Sooo cute! I made my first cake in a jars last month, decorated them and the boxes, and shipped them out too. I might have to try your pudding cookie recipe... I think mine arrived a bit hard! He still ate them though. :)

Jeanne said...

Wow! I wish I were that creative!!

Star Spangled said...

Awesome! Love it!