Fall Foodie: Candy Corn Cake

Alright, let’s just get this out of the way- candy corn is actually really gross, you guys.

I don’t know anyone who willingly eats it and it’s always the last ditch resort for those who didn’t buy their candy for Trick-or-Treaters in enough time and just grabbed whatever was left at the store. Even “fresh” candy corn tastes/feels stale- and there’s no way it doesn’t cause permanent damage to your teeth. It’s just a flavorless, chewy nightmare.

BUT the colors are nice- and are quite appropriate for the Fall- so I decided to make a lemon, orange & vanilla bean layered cake inspired by the white, orange and yellow trio that comprise this triangular crime against humanity and decent candy-lovers everywhere. The taste of the cake was considerably better than the candy itself- and it’s pretty easy to whip up if you have a little bit of extra time and a couple of round baking pans to play with!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 3 boxed cake mixes (1 vanilla, 1 orange and 1 lemon. I used Duncan Hines Signature mixes!)
  • 3 cups of water
  • 9 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 containers of your choice of frosting (I used a white buttercream for the one pictured above.)
  • One small bag of candy corn and decorative toppings of your choice. Don’t worry- the candy corn is more than likely going to go in the trash when it’s all said and done.

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350°F for metal and glass pans (325°F for dark or coated pans)
  2. Grease sides and bottoms of pan(s) and flour lightly.
  3. Working box by box- blend the cake mix, 1 cup water, 3 large eggs, and ⅓ cup vegetable oil in a large bowl until mixture is completely moistened.
  4. From there, beat the mixture at a medium speed for approximately 2-3 minutes.
  5. Pour the batter in your pan.
  6. Repeat the process with the remaining two boxes of cake mix- using the same amount of water, eggs and vegetable oil- until all of your batter is smoothly mixed and poured evenly into their separate/respective pans.
  7. Bake the pans in the center of your oven for approximately 22-27 minutes. Be sure your cake layers are cooked through evenly by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake and checking that it comes out clean.
  8. Cool your cakes on a pan/wire rack for about 15 minutes before removing them from their pans.
  9. Your cakes should be layered with vanilla on top, orange in the center, and lemon on the bottom. Be sure to frost each layer before stacking them on top of one another to get them to stick together and not slide around!
  10. Frost your stacked cake and decorate with sprinkles and candy corn.
  11. Take as many photos as needed.
  12. Pick off the candy corn and promptly throw it in the garbage. From there- enjoy the rest of your cake!

While I typically enjoy more citrus-flavored desserts in the Summertime- this was an excellent and festive treat to bake now that Halloween is right around the corner. The vanilla and the orange/lemon zest really paired well together!

I’m actually whipping up a batch of cupcakes using this same recipe (just a different type of pan, of course!) to bring to my company’s Halloween party next week. I’m hoping they are just as big of a hit as this cake was for my friends!

xx

– Ashley –

It’s the Great Pumpkin…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! I’m still recovering from last night’s season premiere (and 100th episode- if you can believe it!) of ‘The Walking Dead’- so my apologies for any typos in this post and on my social media today- or for falling asleep mid-conversation should anyone run into me at any point throughout this afternoon. I promise I’ll be rested up and normal again by tomorrow!

Apart from gearing up for the return of Rick Grimes & Co. this weekend- I also stopped by Rhode Island this past Saturday night. Specifically, I headed to Roger Williams Park Zoo for their annual “Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular”. I haven’t been in a couple of years due to scheduling conflicts- so it was really nice to be able to go again- especially since the weather was beautiful throughout the weekend!

Featuring over 5,000 intricately carved Jack-O-Lanterns that cover both sides (and above visitors in the trees!) of a long, winding trail through a section of the zoo/wildlife conservatory- this year’s display had a trip through time and/or time-travel theme. Featuring dinosaurs, Ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece, through the Renaissance- and a pretty entertaining walk through the the decades spanning from the 1920s through now- each section included music/sound effects fitting of the time period. There were also vendors along the path (as well as at the entrance/exit of the park) that were selling hot apple cider, kettlecorn popcorn, sweets- and light-up accessories for the kids.

Tickets are pretty cheap and there’s a lot more to do in the area, as well- like the ski-lift style ride that carries passengers over the exhibit (and the park)– and glow-in-the-dark swan boats that circle an adjacent pond just outside the zoo’s perimeter. It’s a really fun, laid-back seasonal activity that is perfect for all ages and has become a “must do” for my friends and I every October.

Below are a few of the photos I snapped along the trail!

The “Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular” runs through November 5th- and prime night tickets (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) have to be ordered in advance online while tickets on Monday-Thursday can be purchased on-site- but I highly recommend going as soon as possible before the pumpkins start getting mushy and lose their shape. Also, you definitely want to go before it gets too cold out to fully enjoy everything!

And now, I’m heading off to get some work done and try to make it through the day without taking a nap under my desk!

Here’s hoping we all power through this week!

xx

– Ashley –

POPSUGAR Must Have Box Review: October 2017

Happy Almost Friday, everyone! I had wanted to publish this post yesterday to stay on my blogging schedule- but no sooner had I sat down on my bed after a very long day at work on Tuesday when I pretty much just fell asleep right then and there and didn’t wake up until it was time to head back to my office again yesterday morning! Gotta’ love those curveballs being sleepy can throw you sometimes.

I digress. I’m excited to share what I received in this month’s POPSUGAR “Must Have” Box. I’ve stated in the past that the Fall boxes are some of my favorites to receive- so when I saw a couple of spoilers for October’s- it couldn’t arrive at my doorstep fast enough!

Funnily enough given Tuesday afternoon/night’s impromptu coma I slipped into- October’s themes/inspirations were pretty fitting: DREAMY, SLUMBER, SLEEP, DE-STRESS, COZY and BEDTIME were the words/ideas this month’s box were shaped around- so consider me ready to dive right into it!

I’ve actually been in need of a new sleep mask since the elastic on my most recent one broke, so this cotton, light-blocking one from Perpetual Shade came just in time. I love how soft and lightweight the fabric is, because it makes it so much more comfortable to sleep in- and the “Dream On” writing across the front is really cute.

I’m sure I’ll snap a selfie with this on soon (of course)!

Keeping up with the eye pampering, I really love under-eye patches- especially when I travel or after a long, exhausting day- so I was thrilled to get a set of 5 overnight gel patches from Patchology in this month’s “Must Have” Box. These patches in particular are supposed to soften, hydrate, smooth and brighten the eye area, which raises the question- can I have one big patch to just cover my entire face in right now?

I love Jack + Lucy products, even though they apparently don’t have an official website which would make it so much more convenient to buy their stuff- but I digress- this black and white striped pillow and blanket duo gives me serious Beetlejuice vibes while keeping me warm and cozy at night. They’re really cute.

I’ve been curling up with these while I binge-watch “The Walking Dead” episodes for the 2,000th time leading up to this weekend’s premiere!

I’ll never say no to a lovely-scented body wash- so this white tea and honeysuckle one from Lollia Life is a welcomed treat in my shower! Loaded with shea butter and avocado oil- this wash not only gets your skin squeaky clean- but it deeply hydrates and leaves a long-lasting and refreshing fragrance, too!

Time for the snacks! POPSUGAR actually included a couple of bonus items in this month’s box, as well- but these double chocolate brownies from Nature’s Bakery were part of the planned collection of items- and they are delicious! Sweetened with natural ingredients, like dates instead of a ton of sugar- these are a guilt-free treat I can enjoy at work or on-the-go!

So the first bonus item in this month’s “Must Have” box was this container of toasted coconut and almond overnight oats from Quaker. I’ve been getting really into the overnight oats thing- especially because a lot of mornings can be rushed and hectic- but with these, you just pour milk in them before you tuck yourself in for the evening, store them in your fridge overnight- and then enjoy them in the a.m.! How simple (and tasty) is that?

The second bonus item was this 6-pack of Donut Shop K-Cups! I have a Keurig (and it’s a lifesaver)– so free coffee is always appreciated. Although Donut Shop can taste a little bland in my opinion, I usually spice it up with a some flavored creamer or a pinch of cinnamon- so I can work with this for sure!

The third bonus item is this mini, spray-on version of Aquaphor’s new aerosol moisturizer. With Winter comes colder temperatures here in New England, and with colder temperatures comes dry skin- so I have a feeling I’ll be getting plenty of use out of this in the coming weeks now that Fall’s briskness is starting to feel a little more, well, brisk.

For digital goodies this month- POPSUGAR included two vouchers, one for 50% off of any Keurig Coffee Maker, and another for $10 off of any order of $50 or more at Lollia Life. I’m going to replacing my coffee maker soon since I have an older model that’s starting to give out on me- so both of these will find use very, very shortly!

And finally, POPSUGAR included a $30 gift card to Framebridge- which I’m especially excited about because it’s going to come in handy for the Christmas present I have planned for my mom this year! The frames offered by the company are customized- which makes framing your photos and artwork super convenient.

Another home run from POPSUGAR this month! I really enjoyed each of the products and- as usual- they fit the theme/inspirations really, really well. I’ll be using everything I received- if I haven’t done so already!

Enjoy the rest of your week and your weekend, everyone! I’ll be back to posting regularly next Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Fright Fest

Ugh. Is it Monday already? I’ve been going non-stop since I left my office on Friday afternoon and it feels like I didn’t get enough time to take a break and actually get some rest. I’m not complaining much, of course- since my weekend was a lot of fun- but I fully plan on falling into my bed when I get home later on!

Where do I begin? With the exception of a beautiful wedding reception I attended with a friend/co-worker at the 228 in Sterling, Massachusetts- which is a big barn tucked away outside the city that has been converted and renovated into a lovely function hall- my weekend was all Halloween and horror movies.

On Friday night, with plenty of blankets, cushions and snacks in hand- a group of my friends and I headed out to Rocky Woods Reservation in Medfield, MA. to catch a lake-side, outdoor double-feature screening of “Friday the 13th – Part 2” and “Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood” (my favorite). While it definitely got a bit cold outside- the weather held up nicely and remained clear- so it wasn’t unbearable. There were a lot of other people there, too- and it was so much fun laughing together at the cheesy gore and bad 1980s fashions while enjoying a couple of hard ciders and some popcorn.

There were a couple of different versions of Jason Vorhees running around the place, too- and while I managed to avoid them for most of the night- one caught me on my way out after the movies wrapped up and I was heading back to my car.

Big shout-out to the Coolidge Corner Theatre for putting together the event and for Lookout Farm Brewing for the really delicious cider. I can’t wait to check out their taproom soon to scope what else they have to offer on their menu.

I also made it a point to swing by the annual Rock and Shock Convention in my hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts for a little while. Focused primarily on the horror genre, the convention- which occurs at the DCU Center downtown every October- features loads of interesting panels, surprise guests, live music and local vendors dedicated to all things spooky and scary. This year, much to my surprise and delight- I ran into Tom Payne- who plays Jesus on “The Walking Dead”. Jesus is one of my favorite characters in the comic and on the show- so snapping a photo together absolutely made the trip worth it for me.

He’s just as pretty in person as he is on television, folks! He was a sweetheart.

While I was at Rock and Shock, I popped by a couple of vendors to splurge on myself a little, too. My first buy was at the booth for Fiona’s Fright Soap– where I picked up a set of three detergent and paraben-free body soaps. One, a “Mummy” themed bar that smells like oatmeal. Another, a “Friday the 13th” themed bar that has a more fruity fragrance- and a third one inspired by Eleven in “Stranger Things” that smells like, you guessed it- waffles and maple syrup.

I’m so excited to use these!

I also picked up this awesome steel Ouija pendant necklace from a large booth in the center of the vendor area- and I apologize for not getting their company’s name since it appeared they were sharing space with about 2-3 other shops at the time. I saw this and knew I had to have it- even if it means spirits could potentially communicate with me through my neck when I’m wearing it. It has a wood detail that I am just in love with!

Overall, I had a really great weekend- and even though being back at work is a little bit of a bummer- I have more fun stuff planned this coming week (and weekend!) that I’m pushing towards!

And all that being said- I’ve got to kick into overdrive and get some stuff done today. Enjoy the beginning of your week, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Ghost Hunting…

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone! For those of you who are superstitious- be extra careful while you’re out and about today! As for me? Well, after work- I’ll be heading out with friends to catch honorary screenings of the first two “Friday the 13th” movies at Rocky Woods Reservation in Medfield.

Speaking of Medfield, by the way…

One of my favorite places to visit in Massachusetts (and it’s only about 45 minutes away from me)– is Medfield State Hospital- a long abandoned former mental institution that was first opened in 1892 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. Although the interiors of the numerous buildings spread out across the area are off limits due to asbestos and hazardous conditions after decades without routine maintenance, the grounds are still open to the public for those looking for a unique place to go hiking, biking, or- as my most recent OOTD post proves- want a semi-creepy backdrop for photos.

I’ve gone up to the grounds countless times over the years, and I’ve found that this time of the year is usually when it’s the best to visit- and not just because the place is pretty spooky- but because it’s not too hot (or too cold!) to be spending a significant amount of time outdoors, and even though much of the area is overgrown- the bugs aren’t nearly as distracting as they are during May or June, for example.

Usually when I’m visiting- I’m the only one there. On a couple of occasions I’ve been one of maybe a handful of visitors- but Medfield State Hospital is almost always eerily quiet- so imagine my surprise when I went up to take a look around with friends this past weekend and was greeted by an entire Boy Scout Troop who were camping on the grounds overnight as part of a Halloween-themed excursion.

(Side Note: That’s actually an insanely cool idea and I wish I’d thought of it!)

The kids were very sweet and were thankfully respectful of the buildings. Although they were all running around during the entirety of our stay- not once did I see them doing anything potentially dangerous or destructive. They actually carved Jack-o-Lanterns to place on the exterior steps to a few of the former wards and administrative buildings- which added a little something extra in a few of my pictures. It was pretty cool.

There are security personnel on-site 24/7 who do occasional drive-bys to monitor the property- and even they seemed excited about the appearance of a few unexpected pumpkins scattered around.

If you’re ever in New England- this is definitely a neat place to drop by. Just make sure you bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes and a fully charged camera/phone with you!

And now, it’s time to get some work done. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: Witchy Woman

I’ve owned this little black, back-less dress since high school- where I first wore it to a Honor Society dinner and caused quite a commotion when some of the teachers in attendance (and a few of my more conservative peers) thought that the cut of it was a little too risque for a formal event. At the time- I was offered a cardigan to cover up with.

It still fits perfectly, but since then- I typically only wear this out and about around Halloween- since it has a bit of a “witchy” vibe to it. Sure, a lot of it may be because of the way that I dress it up with black leggings/tights, knee-high boots, my go-to wide-brimmed hat and a piece of spooky statement jewelry- but I think the way the fitted bodice transforms into layers of tulle cut at different lengths has something to do with it, too. There’s just something about the silhouette this gives me that makes me feel like I just stepped out of a scene from “The Craft”.

And I always show off my back in it. No more cardigans for me!

For not having usual straps (the ones on this little number wrap around my shoulders at the most peculiar angle and in the oddest way)– this dress is still pretty comfortable. It’s been warm and humid outside in recent weeks- so it was nice to have something so light and breezy to walk around in, like during this past weekend while I was out with some friends and taking some photographs up at my favorite haunt- pun intended- Medfield State Hospital. The eerie scenery had me feeling especially festive.

And for that aforementioned spooky statement jewelry? I knew right away I wanted to wear my blackened steel Edgar Allan Poe pendant necklace from Fable and Fury– a gift from years ago that I still absolutely love and wear all the time throughout the month of October. Paired with a oxblood red lipstick and a smoldering smoky eye? You’ve got a bewitching look that can be pulled off effortlessly during post-office cocktails AND that Halloween party you were invited to and forgot about until the last possible second.

I’m so ready to rock this again this coming weekend- but I’ve got a few more tricks (and treats) in my closet that I’m just DYING to share, too!

Okay, I’ll stop with the bad Halloween puns. I promise.

We’re almost near the weekend, everyone! Hang in there!

xx

– Ashley –

October Sky

Good almost-afternoon, everyone (I slept a little late today!) I can’t believe my vacation is coming to an end and tomorrow morning I’ll be back at work bright and early- ready to play catch-up on all the calls and e-mails I’ve missed while I was taking a much-needed break. As anxiety-inducing as that thought can be- I’m looking forward to seeing my co-workers again and being productive- especially since I’ve been pretty lazy these past few days!

While today will consist of keeping out of the rain, binge-watching some TV shows I’ve fallen behind on, baking cookies (and maybe enjoying a bubble bath!), I spent most of my vacation outdoors- hiking trails in places like Sudbury, Medfield, Concord and Rutland- just to name a few. The weather has been a bit unpredictable lately- some days were overly humid and sticky while others were more cool and refreshing- but regardless of the temperatures, the leaves in my section of New England have pretty much reached their peak color for the season- so to say I’ve had the best views during my days off is an understatement!

Here’s a small gallery of some of my favorite photos I snapped along the trails:

Fall in Massachusetts really is something you have to experience for yourself. The photos (and even my descriptions of how wonderful it is) simply don’t do it enough justice. It has to be witnessed first-hand for the beauty and the magic to really make sense- especially to those who aren’t from around here.

With Halloween approaching, I have a few “scarier” events coming up with my friends over the course of the next couple of weeks that I can’t wait to post about- and I’ve been actively putting together my costume for the year- but it was nice to stop and enjoy some simple, pumpkin, foliage & apple cider-filled relaxing days before horror movies, haunted houses and getting doused in fake blood make their long-awaited comeback.

Here’s to a good week!

xx

– Ashley –